V + V/A (Various Artists)

March/April 2014

Vanity Riots – Ambulance (E.P.)
(S/R – 2013)

An energetic in-your-face, female fronted young metal band who hail from Sydney, Australia.

They are really brash and tight and no doubt a fighting force on stage who hit the crowd right away with powerful songs on here like ‘You’re Posin’; the title track ‘Ambulance’ and the dirty vampiric ‘Bloodsucker’.

Good energetic stuff.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Vitne – Neon
(Relectric – 2013)

Starting off with an industrial intro Vitne confuses you in tinking you are gonna get some NIN type album but in fact it turns into a full-throttle album of sleaziness & hard rock from Charleston, South Carolina.

Vitne is a solo artist and he has created a band under his own moniker but used to be in a group called ‘SEKS’ who made an impact between 2010 and 2012 with a few well-known rock magazines around. At times Vitne on occasions reminds me of an act we’ve reviewed for a while on here called ‘M.I.C’ with the song ‘Nasty Habit’ with its full on cheesey 80’s style of music and lyrical content. Then there’s the flamboyant big hair metal guitar squealings and bawly backing vocals in that ’86 – ’89 kinda way in ‘Lick You Up’ or the slamming at ya ‘Destroyer’.

There’s some Hugh Lloyd-Langton era Hawkwind likeness in ‘To The Sky’ that always grabs my attention or the closing beautiful acoustic ballad ‘Rest In Peace’ that has gaelic touches to it too for added deep heartfelt atmosphere.

Nice.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

November

Vermilion Whiskey – 10 South
(S/R – 2013)

A Lafayette, Louisiana based band – well they had to come from a southern state with a name and album title like that didn’t they.

They have a pulverising style that incorporates sounds of Pantera with Stoner Rock and throatal cookie monster vocals now and again.Highlights of this brutal bite of a release include the opening motorcyclin’ ‘Bootleggin’ masterpiece that comes complete with cop sirens; the bluesy ‘n’ throbbin’ Sabbath like ‘Delta Deuce’; the funky ‘n’ gutsy ‘Snakebitten’ or the slutzy riffed ‘On The Way To Sin’.

Hell Yeah!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

VOLTAX - Riding Into Flames
(Sade Records - 2013)

Of metal albums that look like they've been lying down the back of my sofa alnost thirty years, thijs one takes the biscuit.

Voltax's sleeve may look like a gift from 1983 but incredibly the Mexican fivesome's album comes from 2013. The archaic speed metal served up here will be an almighty banquet to any old-school headbanger's horde. Tight, angry twin guitars slice with rusty razor like pain through the air against screaming high-pitched vocals that pretend to be Rob Halford at the heaviest of times and though rather badly done, the range from frontman Jerry adds on the vital cream.

It's a slight shame however that these lads seem not to know the difference between being inspired by Iron Maiden and totally plagiarising their produce, succulent as it is to be treated to just about all of 'Piece of Mind' and 'Powerslave' in the space of three or four tunes by their twin guitarists.

(Strictly) not to get me wrong, 'Riding Into Flames' is a superb little trad metal metal gem but if Voltax wish not to end up that way themselves, a slight inch more originality shall not go amiss.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.facebook.com/voltaxband

September 2013

VADIKAN – Hydragyrum
(Metal Scrap Records - 2013)

I was to expect an earsplitting death metal apology when I hit play here.

Instead I am treated to something more different and welcome by far. A female fronted doom metal act of all things that are good, this Russian combo cut it very well indeed. Dancing riffs and razor sharp chords swap the podium with vocalist Julia's simmering tones, as in turn English and their own lingo swaps places from song to song.

Going down a treat on their scene already, this lady's range would still also have rocked the house had it belonged to some eighties pop or punk machine instead. The guitars aren't without the wisest of influences themselves, Slayer, Emperor and Metallica all making the vibe-o-meter here and develop a palatable sound that doesn't need to thrive on intensity.

Recommended.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www. vadikan.org

VICOLO INFERNO – Hourglass
(logic(il)logic Records - 2013)

More Italian class injects itself oozing, into hard rocks ever-penetrable veins.

Vicolo Inferno blaze in and out with boisterous summertime hard rock composed twice more American than European if truth be told. Vocalist Igor Campelli gives off the sense of a well -seasoned Steven Tyler, working his way effortlessly across all ten of these slick melodic rock tunes.

Supporting his cruise are the sturdy guitars as supplied by signor Marco Campoli, who carries huge capabilities both solo and acoustic with good blues aftertaste on various cuts.
'Hardesia', 'Hourglass', 'Dangerous Dreams', 'Cold Moon' and 'Hangin on the Blade' are among the more infectious of the numbers on show, soaked in emotion and lust that drags their own choruses over the desert.

Definitely one to watch out for on the fizzling continental scene, these boys have something rather go-o-o- od going, I reckon.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Nickelback, Aerosmith & Black Stone Cherry.

NET: www. myspace.com/vicoloinferno

May

VADUZ - Better Days
(S/R - 2012)

Unknown American four piece act making a very well known American sound.

Melodic hard rock is high and mighty across the pond,and Vaduz either want a chunk of what went before... and never went away, or like the rest of us celebrating its,recent return to the mainstream musical fore. Starting off with 'Workin' Band', and its strong vocal melody stolen from BJ's 'Raise Your Hands', they go from strength to strength and simply rock hard.

High octane mischief follows again with 'I Saw The Light Again' and then Steelheart-esque 'Better Days' (just how close to 'Everybody Loves Eileen' is that verse rhythm). Piano led smoothie 'Thy Kingdom Come' is classy 80s balladry even with the christian implications somewhat forced - even as a believer myself I know what works and what wilts. Sunset Strip and a swish open-topped motor beckon forth a big 'Hey Yeah', hot rockin' Saturday night fayre revived with rollicking gusto.

Going into a deep grooving blues slide, 'Enemy' jumps up from its crack with a chorus to kill for, Ringo Lee's fine solo skills finally getting their dues with a greater space. Singer Brian Wade Larson's harmonies shine best in ballad 'Faces In The Storm', making use of his range to seperate him from the other luminaries one might say he simply clones.

'Lowdown Blues' sways its way through smokey bar after smokey bar, raised biker hands and beer bottles to the solo would keep you all night counting. Closing number 'On My Way' is, another slowie in the same old feel-good sense, setting you up for that quest for lost love as appears found again. Nice work from a project that while hording every great hair metal name behind the sound delivers the package without any splits in the parcel. Lovely melodic rock from a band I'm surprised Frontiers hadn't already discovered.

Just please pray we have a little more than just 35 minutes next time, boys.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Danger Danger, Bon Jovi, Tuff, Steel Panther & Firehouse.

April

Joe Boyd Presents - 'Way To Blue' - The Songs Of Nick Drake
(Navigator records/Carthage Ltd - 2013)

I can't say I know much about Nick Drake but I have heard of him. This is a tribute album to the man which is rather eclectic to say the least and not totally accessible to the ears at times since the songs are rather quirky and/or miserable.

Songs that I did take a liking to were the opening acoustic and mysterious 'Thing Behind The Sun' & the Ronnie Lane like 'Fly' both from Luluc; the Dylanesque 'Place To Be' offered by Scott Matthews that is a bit Eddie Vedder as well; the beautiful voilin filled 'Which Will' from Vashti Bunyan; a gorgious 'Riders On The Wheel' by Shane Nicholson and the closing bouncy and acoustic 'Pink Moon' from Teddy Thompson & Krystle Warren.

A quiet live & interesting affair.

6.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Vestibule - Through The Surface
(S/R - 2011)

A quirky 4-piece band who are at times is vocally annoying and not bang on key.

At other points the musical side really takes over such as in 'Lucid Dreams' and 'Infinite Love' before you get the impression I have written these guys off. They were formed in 2008 and this is a lineup that's together since 2011 and made up of Hector Gundlach on vocals and guitar, Greg Harvilla on drums, Cody McCorry on bass, and Adam DeRose on lead guitar.

Way more alternative indie style than the kinda thing I would usually listen to but I guess they could grow on some people.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

January 2013

THE VAL - Back
(Soundarella S.L. - 2012)

The Val is actually the lady of the band as you might have guessed. Gabriella de Val , the frontwoman of these feisty Spanish/German rockers sets their music a step further from many other female led acts of late.

Departing from the dirtbag-oriented punk demeanour of most, her voice is solid and crisp, perched like a bird on top of the seeds she guards as they wait to grow into twelve tastily composed pop rock cuts. Slick, honest guitar work from Alfonso Samos slides along behind her performance, with piano melodies also adding the other main slice of the pie to the dish.


‘A Kiss in a Dragon Night’, ‘Dreaming’, ‘pay’, ‘Johnny’s Got a Red Car’, ‘Hold On’, ‘When Midnight Comes’ and ‘Every Beat Of MY Hearty’ don’t take long to lap up. Lush AOR, blues and alternative rock rain their drops down on each puddle, with sleets of class crashing amidst them. Awesome work from another Latin combo lined up for the big time.

Buy it!

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Heart, Vixen & Evanescence.

NET: www.myspace.com/the-val

VITRUVIAN MAN - The Stranger Within
(S/R - 2012)

The debut album from these Aussie prog rockers is made of just seven tracks, which therefore indicates a few of them might expectedly fall on the long side.

At a playing duration of almost 50 minutes, it isn’t exactly short, delivering a fistful of fiery progressive melodic metal with modernized tendency. Talented but leisurely vocals by Dan Swan sit nicely alongside technical instrumentation and the alternative list the style seems to have adopted lately.

Whether Coheed and Cambria’s crossover of the genres now starts to set trends down under or the idea is just inventive fun for them, Vitruvian Man shape a sure-fire masterpiece first time round. Hard-driving guitars and sharp rhythm section work keep together to generate an experimental sound that holds together all the hallmarks but with a 21st century handle.

Luscious stuff, lads.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, Mars Volta, Flower Kings & Enchant.

NET: www.vitruvianmanband.com

October

VENEFICA - Drowning Soul Syndrome
(S/R - 2012)

They sound like a slightly popular ice-cream dessert, and European combo Venefica are about as tasty in comparison.

Misleading however is the genre classification of ‘hard rock’ – if you are here to expect Harem Scarem, Hardline or the like, leave this one for the open minded. If that itself however applies to you, yes they are still actually mostly melodic bar some uncalled-for screamcore pieces. Set against a grunge/alternative backdrop, Dream Theater influences strangely seek their own way in through the window as well.

With the mixture hardly able to move much further from the avenue of convention, the twelve-plus numbers surely contain some strong and memorable modern day metal nuggets to chomp at along with your chips. ‘Drowning Soul Syndrome’, ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’, ‘Psychotrauma’, ‘Enemy’, ‘Gone’, ‘My Inner Cell’, ‘Chains’ and the punishing Pantera/Metallica stomp of ‘Faces Of Life’ harbour more surprises than a shelf-full of Kinder Eggs , but at least you don’t get a cheap toy only good for five minutes with Venefica’s product. Twisting and turning more than Torvill and Dean on the razz, ‘D.S.S.’, the band’s second full-lengther to date destroys all before and around it, to shape themselves a reputation for innovative rock-making.

Great stuff- grab a listen, or preferably a copy.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Nickelback, Creed, Kid Rock, Staind, Soundgarden & Audioslave.

NET: www.venefica.eu

VIVA LA VENUS - Bleeding On The Edge Of Happiness
(Shiny Pants Records - 2012)

Viva la Venus are a feisty US alternative rock outfit fronted by female twin guitarists Wendy Branacco and Susan Darney.

Despite classification under the ‘classic rock’ label on promo, their gritty power-pop/punk noise is strongly teen-oriented, testosterone force in numbers. Speedy straight-ahead chord-crunching cuts that come, lodge in your head for as long as it hurts then go again don’t ruin the appeal of the album if you already perceive the description as having misled you.

‘Little Voice’, ‘Intoxicating’, ‘Hesitate’, ‘Hole’, ‘Glimpse Of Heaven’, ‘Wayside’, ‘Venus Calling’ and ‘Leave’ are not the one-trick pony trek you suspect. Melodies, solos and super sweet hooks come high in abundance, setting genre topics aside in the gutter as you et through this great little record.

In fact, I’ve got through it already… so on with the second play (of many).

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Siouxie and the Banshees, No Doubt, Green Day, Girlschool & Evanescence.

NET: www.myspace.com/vivalavenus

September

Doug Varty Band - Feel Free
(S/R - 2012)

Three piece who sound rather like AC/DC who've gone to the South and partied with ZZ Top for a while.

Songs about having a good time, not taking sh*t and getting taken back by a hot chick - you know, the usual thing that happens every single day to rock stars all over the planet. Highlights on here include the opening Younn-like rocker 'Kickin' Ass'; the blues of the title track 'Feel Free'; the stomping 'n' gutsy 'Now You're Talking'; the Free/Bad Company esque 'Intoxicated' or the closing quirky ZZ Top blues meets wacky electronica of closer 'Make My Day'.

Good ole boys for defo!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

VIOLET GIBSON - American Circus
(S/R -2012)

I so narrowly mistook their name to be that of some massively beautiful female metal chanteuse.

Surprisingly, neither does it refer to a sickly coloured six-string implement though this US five-piece make a wonderfully colourful alternative metal sound that has nothing sick about it whatsoever, in fact most healthily robust and rocking throughout. Tough-as-nails twin guitar lines, Soundgarden-crafted, Nickelback-delivered, damage the ol’ rafters with superbly pure prowess all along ‘American Circus’s 13-tune span.

Sharing the mantle with spectacularly tattooed leader Matthew Brodtsy’s excellent vocal emotion, nifty structures seem to become an undulating shape of musical work, crafted with the intent of letting listener appreciation flower in its own swift time. Moving around the style spectrum, they glide into and out of gritty aggro-metal intervals with natural readiness as opposed to peppering the extra flavours on top for extra commercial credibility (yes, plenty of albums still sell without doing that, lads).

Superbly no-messin’ melodic angst rock, kicking backside but remembering to kiss it better afterwards, this is one circus to catch when it comes to your town.

Nice stuff, indeedy.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Alice In Chains, Linkin Park, Drowning Pool, Nickelback & Metallica.

NET: www.violetgibson.biz

July

THE VIBES - 45 Minutes to Go
(Lux Noise - 2012)

Stating in ones cd title how long an album lasts for is one of the less smarter moves a band could make.

Then unlike sprightly Swiss trio The Vibes, not every other band succeeds in shoving a whole thirteen into forty five minutes of room. Opening up with an atomic punk metal assault, topped unexpectedly by rippling organ lines, ‘Scumbags or Presidents’ says everything, via title and sound that such an album should be about. Taking more liberties with lairy eighties New Wave jamming and blink-and-you-missed them blues bends, some brief harmonic samples sit comfortably in the space made on top.

Powerful, aggressive dirt rock is a diet all-album-long with these guys making you eat and enjoy ballistic numbers such as ‘Rapunzel’, ‘Tesla’, ‘Fed Up’, ‘Shake Your Leg’, ‘Black Dogs’, ‘Hell Ride’, ‘Thankyou for Killing My Woman’ and ‘Devil’s Blood’. Dubious as whether ‘Matlock Hates You’ is a reference to the Sex Pistols fella or the place in Derbyshire, what I am sure about is that these lads just better have another 45 minutes of it ready for next year if it pars up with this belter.

Rip-roaring rock n’ roll you can punch, kick and assault the air to in whatever way you see best - you are advised to leave that Budweiser bottle on the table first, mind.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Backyard Babies, Hellacopters, Hanoi Rocks & Rose Tattoo.

June

THE VIM DICTA - Vim Dicta (E.P.)
(S/R - 2012)

Not a new project from Ade Edmondson’s Bad News alter ego, thank god, The Vim Dicta are two talented young men and an equally proficient young lady from LA.

Dealing in the sort of hard rock few their age sadly dare to touch with a barge pole icne about 1979, T.V.D.’s tangy psychedelic guitar noise is sweet with me all the way. ‘Lucky Strike’ starts off precariously close to Lizzy’s ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ but before Gorham and the boys start suing, the song moves on to a typically welcomed old -fashioned prog attack with strong classy guitar flavour by both front woman Cori and lead shredder Matt Tunney.


This is happily much how its stays for the three other numbers, sticking additional gothic flavour on the end of ‘Mezmer’ with Cori’s soulful vocal rideout. Toyah Wilcox wouldn’t have quite objected to penning a tune like 'Your Man', it’s swaying punk-encrusted bounce setting it apart from the rest until a maniacal middle eight assaults most of all five senses. ’Far Away’ finishes with a more alternative induced turn on their sound, shaping the number round perky pop-guitar but maintaining the generally dark attitude on their angle. Lovely sounds and collisions of psycho-rock with classic heavy guitar to get you sat up, the Vim Dicta’s first taste deserves a big bite.

With their excellent true to-the- style approach - even though as always an acquired taste to the doubter - it likely well see quite a few Vim a-Dicta-ed before long.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Porcupine Tree & Hole.

NET: www.thevimdicta.com

April

Vain - Enough Rope
(Jackie Rainbow Records - 2011)

Davy's band is back with an album that's as fresh as hell with plenty of good ole yesteryear style to it from start to finish.

Highlights include the fast and furious song about a porno queen called 'Triple X'; the excellent riffed 'Cindy' that has Steven Adler shashing the kit; the gorgious acoustic starting ballad 'Treasure Girl' and the tell it how it is title track 'Enough Rope'.

Then there's the Billy Idol like 'Distance Of Love' with the talky, slick, velvety vocals or the closing 'Worship You' that fires off on all cylinders like we love these guys to do.

On form and well worth firing the speakers up!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

VARIAH - Betrayful Sins
(S/R - 2011)

Nearly misread that band name as something else there.. which means I just managed to avoid mistakenly throwing one of the years greatest melodic metal offerings in the bin.

Denmark’s Variah are familiar in element but unique and distinct on the frontal aspect. The wailing operatic vocals that serve as one of the subgenres three core trading tags sit aside to welcome Mr Magnus Thomson into the field, whose angry Metallica-meets-Disturbed approach stretches well over the sonorous solo lines. Steadily as not to insult Enrique Justiniano’s excellent displays of upper-octave finesse, this combination is alarmingly strong chemistry, combusting fast and furious metal fireworks.

Providing a surprise with each song played, ‘Disbelieves’ ‘Scapegoat’, ‘Betrayful Sins’, ‘Cast The Spell’, ‘Breed Your Misery’, ‘Stonecold’ and ‘Painted Signs’ combine Kamelot and Fates Warning inspirations with Fear Factory / Type o Negative vocal vibes and a healthy alternative juice swirls round the outside. That said, Thomson’s unexpected Pearl Jam-esque turn on Princess In Gray may in fact relate while ’hidden Agenda’ hits the Faith No More button mid song to pulverisingly realistic effect.

Depressingly as I have to say, finding oneself swamped over with other discs to dish the dirt on has starved me of the time for the in-depth write-up I would have liked to afford ‘Betrayful Sins’ for it is, in all honesty, one blinding slab of melodic metal. Seek it out and support Denmark in one of the things they do undeniably best.

Incendiary!

10/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Threshold, Dream Theater, System Of A Down, Disturbed, Metallica & Nickelback.

NET: www.myspace.com/variahonline

VOICE OF MIDNIGHT -Bifrost
(Metal Scrap Records - 2011)

Just what we need with Blighty disappearing into a white blanket for the Easter weekend - an album with ‘frost’ in the name’.

Just what we actually do need would be some English title translations so we could salvage at least a minor hint of what these Russian black metallers are screaming about in their native lingo. On a par with the commercialistation of the genre that most East European acts seem to be participating in nowadays, speed metal riffs and up-octave solo mixtures al la Megadeth and Anthrax are more the norm for this foursome than the expected Emperor-schooled din.

Adding in the peppery female vocal lead of this album’s unusual third number and her soulful elements on the closing cut, the diversity factor looks satisfyingly stronger. Repetitive prog interludes, notably the folk-like fifth tune and also the bass to the seventh make this a track or so too short at only seven.

Voice of Midnight are yet another outfit that look set on impressing - just please lets have some more English on the sleeve next time guys.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Dimmu Borgir, Venom, Mortiis, Metallica & Mostly Autumn.

NET: www.metalscrap.org.ua

February 2012

V/A - New Heavy Sounds Vol 2
(NHS Recordings - 2011)

Another cream of the latest talented British crop comes flying in our (letterbox’s) direction. This said, some overseas -grown acts also get in amongst the eighteen, nicely paralleling the variety on offer.

As you’d expect, there are couple of common threads in the style zone, mostly either scream core, electro-punk or old fashioned stoner rock noise. Some fine examples of the former two exist in the likes of Lafaro and their uptempo industrial sounding rock with strongly punky feel; Mojo Fury’s bouncy crossover style with rough cut, occasionally screamcore assault while White Hills serve up an enjoyable electro-vocalled alternative sound despite irritatingly over -repeated lyric lines. Fans of the old, heavy and hairy side of metal’s soil will salivate over Slab Dragger - blinding stoner metal, strongly resounding of Trouble and Orange Goblin colliding head on. Cut Yourself In Half, and the bluesier sounding The Sword are unexpectedly old -school treats on a compilation aimed at a young audience which demonstrates the trend-pandering versatility of today’s music scenes.

Humanfly, the one band already a familiar name, from their CD last year make a catchy addition with the cornily monikered ’This is Where Your Parents F**ked’ whilst Black Moth carry it off in style with the rare-in-the-genre luxury of a female behind the mike. Elsewhere, select bands prefer to cross -stictch the styles, notably Apple Cannon - infectious seventies metal rhythm though eaten up routinely by scream core-like chorus assault. Mother Destroyer conglomerate old school metal/punk style vocal with a great bouncy beat, coming in places similar to Manson’s ‘Beautiful People’ and also, v-e-ry slightly old favourite ‘Do Anything You Want To Do’.

One or two downs of thumb do as always become unavoidable, the downright guiltiest being Gum Takes Tooth’s directionless racket made by aimless industrial sample experimentations. At the same time The Computers’ scream core /garage punk crossover is only a near-decent play due to latter mentioned element getting its occasional way in through the door. Gripes brushed to one side, ‘Volume.2’ packages mostly sweet noises from many names of promise we hope will be kept for 2012.

Eagerly awaiting the next instalment already, N.H.S. are looking to prosper financially even more than their medical namesakes for the somewhat immediate future..

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.newheavysounds.com

VOMITRON - No NES For The Wicked
(Metavania Music - 2011)

All these irritably infectious theme numbers that crop up anonymously on console games yet we cant’ for the life of us trace them to their originator- makes you mad.

Surprising to find its seldom a big-name stadium-packer behind such produce but a chap little known in the media spotlight, satisfied with just being a name on the inside sleeve for a disc containing thirteen heavy metal covers of the supposedly best. Peter Rutcho’s name has rarely rung any bells and nor too have many of these cuts themselves. The Massasuchets maestro has tried a little bit of everything in his time, we find instead of succumbing to the temptation of another pseudo-Malmsteen shred -fest.

Strong thrash influences seem woven amongst most of the tracks with decent power metal keyboard ( this same feller played in M’Ville-rated US metallers Armory) and rhythm guitar synching and solos that as hinted at do not come exactly as overplayed. Sometime sythn-pop oriented turns nearly irritate but as the background music for a game go down aptly without saying.

Might actually be worth hunting down an X-box to hear a few of these - they are actually that decent.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.myspace.com/vomitron

September

VIETCONG PORN SURFERS - Restless, Young, Hungry and Free
(Underground Records - 2011)

Obviously not hailing from Vietnam - otherwise their taste in online amusement will possibly land them in the same predicament as a certain Mr G Glitter - these Berlin Boys are naughty, raucous and brash nonetheless in about everyway imaginable.

Not as sugary as shock rock wannabes, they fire off her rounds through a rough gutsy barrel with that good old spitting dog-like range. Largely a mix of punk metal and power pop chord-mongery to support their beams, their debut is a skyscraper of old school out-and-out rock n’ roll aggro with lust and zero civility included.

'The Flag Is on Fire', 'On Your Own But Not Alone', 'Give It All', 'Getaway Boys', 'Don’t Need Your Lies', 'Let Me In' and 'C**ts Don’t Play Guitar' contain little recommended for wimps but also about everything essential for a night of low- slung air guitar anarchy with large crates of beer by your side.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Motorhead & Dogs D’Amour.

NET: http://www.myspace.com/vcpseu

August

VALTELLINA BOYZ - Gradinata Nord
(BaCio Records - 2011)

Hail from a country renowned for automatically dispensing strong rock n’ roll produce lately, they indeed do…. still does that itself excuse them the necessity of making a strong impression first time?

Italian loons Valtellina Boys frankly run it a bit fine by boasting in their opening number that of being influenced by a mixture of Motley Crue and … Agnostic Front? Fond as I am of both Vince Neil and Vinnie Stigma’s respective outfits. This head on-clash comes out thankfully healthy thanks to Motorhead also being a major favourite of theirs which is handy as while in their native lingo, the vocals are lovably Lemmy-toned testosterone mouthfuls spat repeatedly over nine numbers of down and dirty punk n’ roll.

Some English lingo choruses including the irritating high-pitched female part in ‘Sciatera Beach Nightmare’ - sound seriously glued into their places as do one or two of the old fashioned guitar solos that come in and go out again nearly before you nearly have time to notice them, yet the whole platter is anarchic in a accessibly- rough-and-ready way.

Thanks once again, Italy.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Hanoi Rocks, Dogs D’Amour & Motorhead.
NET: www.myspace.com/gradinatanordoi

Vamp Le Stat – Bloodline
(XXX Records – 2010)

An excellent 11 tracker from one of Jeff Jone’s bands with a singer going by the name of Jimmy Tuttle who sounds very much like Vince Neil of Motley Crue.

It’s pure 80’s party-filled glam metal of the highest degree with highlights including the tell it how it is ‘Bitch’; the ciggy lighter in the air and perfect high harmonies of ‘She’s Not In Love Anymore’ or the clanking ‘Chains Around My Heart’. I actually played this cd several times and never got bored of it so it passes the test on that score for defo. A band that should have been big like many others.

Oh I did say 11 tracks – what I meant to say was 7 main songs and a few repeated to the inclusion of reference mixes. With material as good as this though, you don’t mind hearing these magnificent numbers again.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

June

The Vagrants - Stand Up
(S/R - 2011)

Rockers with a raunchy female fronter Renate Ludwig, whose part studio-part live album is decent enough and gets you going with its hot rockin' swagger.

Highlights from this troupe from the down-under include the opening 'Count On Me'; 'Stand Up'; the rockin' and a bluesin 'Fanghouse', 'We're Gonna Go' and the closer 'Why Me'. Some bands just sound way more killer live than in the studio and this is most definately one of those that fit into that category.

Watch out for them if they hit your towen anytime as they can party it up - you even hear Renate at the end of the live say, 'Let's go do some shots' - now you're talkin'!

Kick Ass!

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

VOODOO TERROR TRIBE - Symptons Of Sin
(S/R - 2009)

New Jersey quartet Voodoo Terror Tribe actually happen to have been shovelling this debut album along store shelves since about this time 2009 so bugger knows how this beaut’s evaded Metalliville for two years.

Good old TSM for getting it rectified as we missed out on a ripper of a modern contemporary rock disc. Almost ripping us as well via the fact that it turns out only to have seven original studio cuts, ’Slave to Sin’ is a hook-skinned beast of a record. Savaging you with sweet melodic alternative rock choruses, woven amidst angry thrash and hardcore interludes and diverse guitar styles that try most things famously metal, ’The Victim’, 'You’re My Punishment’, ’Never Died Before’, ’Wake Of The White Devil’ and ’Deleted Scenes’ are long-term assured metal club fun.

Having a further couple of fresh compositions as opposed to a couple of live tracks and radio edits would have been nice with this album being initially mistook for an odds an’ sods comp due to this format though the ‘Victim’ vid is still a well produced clip for a self-financed act. Strong guitars and unexpected keyboard appearances support what is definitely not quite another run of the mill modern metal disc.

Voodoo may very well have cast their spell already.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Linkin Park, Machine Head
NET: www.myspace.com/vttrocks

May 2011

Various - Sin-Atra
(Armoury Records - 2011)

A metal take of a variety of Frank Sinatra numbers by a variety of Rock and Metal frontmen who put their own spin on the songs of Mr. Sin'.

Somemof it sounds way over the top suck as the opening 'New York, New York' by Devin Townshend with its out of sych vocals to the music whereas people like Eric Martin of Mr. Big totally nail the numbers with killer vocals (The Lady Is A Tramp) as he was brought up on the music of Ol' Blue Eyes or Dee Snider doing an intense rawp on 'It Was A Very Good Year'. 'I've Got You Under My Skin' works by Glenn Hughes as he's stuck to a similar arrangement but also put his own stamp on it too.

'High Hopes' is as heavy as sh*t, sung by Franky Perez but it works a treat as does the Dug Pinnick fronted 'I've Got The World On A String' despite the heavy distorted deep guitar work - that actually fit well with the strings. Thing is, if its not sung well in a decent voice it just sounds ridiculous at times like the version of 'Love And Marriage' feat. Elias Soriano. Seems strange to hear Jani Lane sing 'That's Life' when we have been used to David Lee Roth do it, but he does it really well and credit to him!!

One of the most bizarre concoctions I've heard in a while - then again Pat Boone did cover Ozzy's 'Crazy Train' a few years ago so never say never to anything happening.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

December

VASTATOR - Machine Hell
(Inferno - 2010)

Keeping up the incendiary south American metal invasion boosted along by prog newcomers Fughu of late, another hot entry are the impressive Vastator.

This Chilean foursome can be reviewed in three words.. Old School Metal - they are purely that and nothing else for every minute of the 54 they last here, and most of the playing time very good with it. Fast, uncompromising and mildly progressive throughout, their vocalist has trouble deciding whether to be Bruce or Rob - changing song by song, later becoming verse by verse, but still he imitates the best, even when singing in Spanish as he does here for the last five tracks of the twelve.

Headbanging hooks and rhythm pieces hit you one after the other and never let you breath as ’Machine Hell’, ’The Gods give no Reply’, ’Fiend’, ’X-Terminate’, ’Hawker Hunter’ Combustible En La Sangre’ and ’El Ultimo Grito en El Infierno’ give your fists continuous cause to meet with the sky. An irritating synth line murders the end of ‘Punado del Almas’ but little else down plays a pretty decent visit to the oldest and best known format in true metal. Just listening to a couple of their luscious solos forces you at the temptation to grab a real guitar than an air one and get the amp up to ten. Vastator are missing two letters off their name, even though we know its deliberate in their case.

Excellent lads.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:

Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Manowar , Back Sabbath, Helloween & Annihilator

NET: www.myspace.com/vastatoronline

July

V/A - AVENUE OF ALLIES - On The Airwaves Vol. 1
(Avenue Of Allies – 2010)

Imagine what melodic rock would havve fared if all these wonderful underground labels hadn’t popped up over the last 15 years to stop the scene taking a complete nose plunge in the wake of the grunge, alternative and nu metal phenomenon.

Obviously plenty is never enough, as the elite train driven by Frontiers, Z and Escape also welcomes another member ot its on board team. Avenue of allies have brought a brilliant assortment of AOR acts old and new in their luggage in the short whiel they’ve been on the trip , one or two of which I’ve had the luxury of reviewing full,- and rather good- releases from. Frozen Rain are a band I’ve yet to try in depth but with their blend of Survivor and pitifully defunct Brit faves Pulse, they’ll be hopefully next.

Swedes Optymistical aree typically strong modern and hooky, pretty much like plenty other acts of their turf but of cocurse that’s something we call good, Toja ’s Toto-like fare meanwhile slow to gel at first but good solos get you there. Recent subjects of a Metalliville writeup, Italy’s Fab Box* automatically impress me with their acoustic layered aor lushness and fantastic harmonies. Fire and Stargazer deliver standard hard rock with good keybaord use and expected suss and also bode for further probing and Sven Larsson does a smilar thing to Fab Box with an up beat pop sound that could lamsot be matched with a new romantic act in places.

Sora* who ’s debut CD I’ve also had the pleasure to write up on are another highlight of the tour, hitting with gritty guitar driven hard rock of very classy standards. Another such is US veteran Steve Grim*, the former Bad Boy frontman showing his flair for writing pure hunks of hard -driving old fashioned rawk thirty years on.

Ron Bolton meanwhile goes for the softest edge of the set, distancing himself precariously over the ‘rock’ precipiece but keeping himself from falling totally into popsvillle with good sweet guitar and vocal harmony moves. An impressive trek through ten of the many excellent entries AOA probably have on their swelling roster, there appears to be no band here I 'd prefer to ignore further from right now.

The bill for Firefest 2010 might be fully accounted by now but I seriously recommend that a few of these acts are approached for shows in future years and globally elsewhere too if possible.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

*For reviews of the Fab Box, Sora and Steve Grimm cds pleae check out Metalliville’s cd reviews rection.

V/A - Cuba Metal Sampler
(Brutal Beatdown Records - 2010)

So , having sampled a Cuban metal act Combat Noise, and just about managed to be impressed by them them, I’m now invited and expected to appreciate a further eighteen of Castro land’s finest metal units.

Things look patchy as I start, for a large c number of so-so extreme metal acts swarm round the list, Zeus, Medula, Blinder, Demencia, Congregation, Ancestor and unlight Domain being the main offenders and making me nearly less than keen to carry onto the latter half of the collection. Keeping me hooked at the last minute, Chlover impress with their good prog -laden thrash approach and Cry Out Fro make decent duelling with keys and strings.

Aztobachter are also pleasantly technical with above decent strumming and sound more in league with their German counterparts - they’ve got the right name for it too. Representing the Hardcore scene very well are Postmortem, Claim and Resistenzia, the former slamming with punchy old school spit as enjoyed by most Cro Mags / Agnostic Front fans over decades past, while the rest take into a more technical route and set themselves apart without alienating the faithful.

Teufel and Estigma do doom metal, one badly and one well, respectively, the first delivering some messy operatic effort that’s meant well but stumbles all over itself despite a lush female voice while the second give you pure class with swish melodic rhythm and lead lines along the ride. A handy taste of what’s happening on the South American scene of late, its great to know that Cuba care about their metal, just a wonder of enough people will care about all of these groups other than their own families and mates.

Worth getting if you are able to track it down, Cuban Metal does exactly what it says on the label and introduces you to a good handful of obscure talent deserving to be caught.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Vendetta – Heretic Nation
(Lion Music – 2009)

Old school Metal band from Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK with mid range vocals, plenty of chug-a-chugging riffery, wailing guitar soloing and strong bass and drums in the mix too.

It coulds have come out in the mid 80’s but fell on our laps in the last few weeks. Vendetta are a band who’ve been going a good wee while and are playing or have played (depending when you read this ‘ere review alongside a few others supporting Blitzkrieg on their 30th Anniversary show on 10th July at the O2 in Newcastle. Sounding as good as this I aint surprised either.

At times they remind me of Saxon and at others I hear a tad of Malmsteen coming in with the guitar work. It also makes you realise where a lot of bands in Europe got their metal from and now they are selling it back to us. Highlights include the opener ‘Delusion’; the instrumental ‘Skaro’; ‘My Revelation’; ‘Killing Time’ and ‘The Space Between.

Decent Stuff.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

June

VORGUS - Hellfuelled Satanic Action
( Inferno Records - 2009)

Great Swedish metal albums tend to come round quick, and this one goes pretty much that fast as well, flying past in only 30 minutes.

Three-piece Vorgus may have an image and sound moulded strongly on Brit Legends Venom - rarely a bad thing - but maintain a notably fresh and equally brutal approach to this line of material. Purely old-school and occasionally punk-like, their single-guitar structure is a refreshing switch to the rooty end of metal’s tree and NWOBHM names by the truckload spring to conscience, as is being able to make out the lyrics at times during the growling.

A catchy little album with tracks like ‘Hellfuelled’, ‘’Chilling/Killing’, ‘In Metal We Trust’, ‘Hell Hell Satanas and ‘Kill To Live To Kill’ that while pretty similar in form, still hang by their merit, as well as their titles, this better not be the only release they’ve had out as otherwise their live sets might be worryingly short. For the time being though, sod that and enjoy a brilliant headbangers retro-trip with speed and solos in all the right slots.

Recommended.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Venom, Sepultura (circa ‘Beneath The Remains‘), Evile, Nile, Exodus, Tysondog.

May
VIOLENT DIVINE - Release the Hounds
(Swedmetal Records - 2010)

This is a first. A great Swedish metal band that we don’t get to hear of till a whole three-albums’-distance into their life-span. All well now, we’ve caught them, and landed another lovely great fish on the rock n’ roll hook in doing so.

These four gents put together a great noise, combining metal punk and goth and send it at us in doses of sonic angst that smack our faces if we don’t sing along. Quite potentially geared up to being a frightening live machine with drilling rockers like ‘Welcome To The Divine’, ‘Sweet Blood’, ‘Until Death’, ‘For The First Time’, ‘One By One’, ‘Get It Out’ and ‘Bleed Like Me’, on top of the impressive material from their first two discs which I’ve also had the fortune to catch, VD a powerful outfit either side of the boards and loyally powered by their inspirations.

Think a more gothic The Almighty in a sychronized session play alongside New Model Army and you aren’t going to be missing the throw by too long a distance. Probably the most interesting band I have coming across in the last year, the chance to hear what these guys do is indeed a divine pleasure.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

NET:
www.violentdivine.se
myspace.com/violentdivine

Various Artists - The World Is Yours
(Freeworld – 2009)

A massive selction of songs and artists on this eclectic label with just so many highlights to mention.

Ones that grabbed my attention was the Pink Floyd like ‘Candlestick Park’ by Andy White; ‘Ghost Runner’ from the excellent Southern boys, Bloodkin; the bluesin rock of ‘Apocalyptic Friend’ that’s very Tom Petty styled by Eef Barzeley (yes that is his name); the folky Tom Ovans song ‘Get On Board’; the killer cajun country sounds of ‘Acadian Two Step’ by Beausoleil.

Then there’s the Bobby Dylan like ‘Strange’ from Eileen Rose And The Holy Wreck; the sinister amazing sounds of Jackie Green’s ‘Animal’ and the avante guardiness of ‘Hum’ by Clem Snide that’s got a Don Mclean’ness about it as well.

Some really great stuff on here that you’d probably otherwise miss completely.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

March 2010

Valis - Dark Matter
(Small Stone Records – 2009)

VALIS formed in 1996 with Dan, Van Conner (Screaming Trees), Patrick Conner (Kitty Kitty), and Kurt Danielson (TAD) to produce a sound close to that of Monster Magnet mixed with Alice in Chains.

Dark Matter is the 5th release from Valis and what a release it is. From the beginning you are encapsulated with the mystical sounds that are released from the guitars and keyboards as they are accompanied by the mellow beats of the drum and the atmospheric groans of the bass.

This 9 track CD glides its way through space and time as you enter 'Resurrection Sickness', 'Blood on Blood' and the classic track 'Under Satan's Will' which then revolves round the planets in an orbit made for music as they land on 'Daylight in the Swamps', 'Everyone Sun' that is on the verge of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash to finish with 'Battleship' that finishes the CD off Nicely.

A good production and a great release, very pleasing to the ear.

Marvellous.

9/10

By Tony Watson

October
Vanity Ink – More Senseless Random Behaviour
(Swedmetal Records – 2009)

Sleazers from Helsinki, Finland who offer up a feel-good factor of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s their 2nd album actually. Highish voice or what – oh it’s a chick fronting so no wonder who goes by the name of Annabella with the rest of the band made up of Sam Junni (drums), Jussi (guitar), Juha Bandit (guitar), Miki Peltola (bass).

‘Smell The Party’ sets the agenda immediately with other highlights including the raunchy ‘Fine By Thursday’; ‘Rolling Stones’; the slow it down but still as good kinda ballad ‘Modern Day Saviour’; the faster and furiously at times ‘Oh Sue’ or the closing ‘Everybodymoveeverybodygethurt’.

Decent album.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

The Vibes - Whiskey, Sex & Rock N’ Roll
(S/R – 2008)

The Vibes are one of the Cheekiest Rock N’ Roll bands I have ever heard from Switzerland, with their punk rock/rock n’ roll sound.

Whiskey, Sex & Rock N’ Roll is the second release from this southern rock, kick ass band, who have put more attitude into this CD than Axl Rose would ever have done. You have bands with members who are complete assholes and others who just make kick ass music with the attitude being in the centre of the great tunes.

The Vibes are a band with a musical attitude, which is expressed throughout the 11 tracks of the CD. I would clearly state that there is no end to the attitude within the 36 minutes of the CD. As The Vibes blast their way into the first track ‘Whiskey, Sex & Rock N’ Roll’ it becomes clearly apparent they are not here to make music they are here to make Rock N’ Roll.

As Whiskey, Sex & Rock N’ Roll, fights its way through, tracks like ‘Whiskey N’ Bones’, ‘Devils Nipples’ and ‘Bed Rebel’ The Vibes release an energy that hits the spot just right.

9/10

By Tony Watson

August
Danny Vaughn – The Road Less Travelled
(Hard Rock House – 2009)

Just what the 80’s Rocker ordered – a live album from one of the best live frontmen around today – with this one coming from Newcastle.

Materialwise there’s brand new songs, a Tyketto tune or twom and of course plenty of solo material from the past few years. Soundwise it’s decent but I think that the vocal mix could be much warmer and opened up - especially when Danny hits the higher notes as the band sound is real nice.

Gripe aside it’s a decent gig and Danny even tackles a Leanne Rimes song called ‘Damn’ that’s he did in the same as her – so it’s the only time you’ll get to hear it live by having this cd – unless you were at this concert of course. Other highlights include ‘Nothing At All’; the autobiographical ballad ‘Lifted’; ‘A Million Miles Of Road’ and of course the hit heyday closer ‘Lay Your Body Down’ that has been bounced and countrified to what we became used to.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Voodoo Johnson – Into The Red (E.P.)
(S/R – 2009)

Uplifting rockers who remind me of a cross between Little Angels, The Answer and Skin who leave you wanting to hear more after the 5 tracks presented here.

Highlights are the opener ‘The Longest Day Of The Year’; the ferocious ‘Bad Habit’ that puts me in mind of Buckcherry and Velvet Revolver rolled into one and the crunchin’ closer ‘Inhale’.

Looking forward to hearing a full album from these guys.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

February 2009
Votum - Time Must Have A Stop
(Prog Rock/SPV – 2008)

Votum are from Warsaw Poland and have produced a very dark metal CD with a progmetal attitude that leaves out the psychedelic concept that can come from Poland.

This 8 track dark, emotional and moving CD encapsulates an atmospheric reality with a progressive undertone that brings you out into an electric field of sound. Votum have hit the sites of vision and reality into obsession and craving of a loved one, that affect the physical nature of love and the scars it leaves behind.

I would say this CD is a genuine masterpiece that encapsulates the darker side of rock but also produces a lyrical content that erects the hairs on the back of your neck.

A 50 minute masterpiece of pure pleasure.

8/10

By Tony Watson

December
Vardis - The Entire Collection And More!!

Though they enjoyed a reasonably long career by New Wave of British Heavy Metal standards, Wakefield, England's Vardis formed in the late 70'semployed a pretty unique style of raw, energized boogie with roots inhard-edged '70s glam of T-Rex with a Status Quo edge.

Initially going by the handle of Quo Vardis, the band was led bysinger/guitarist Steve Zodiac, whose larger-than-life JohnnyWinter-meets-Ted Nugent persona shared the stage with bassist Alan Selwayand drummer Gary Pearson.

After dropping the "Quo", two singles were released, September 1979's "100M.P.H." and April 1980's "If I Were King," both of which showcased the trio's frenetic boogie metal influenced by Motörhead with that Slade touch,these releases attracted a respectable following,leading to a deal with theindependent Logo label, which issued Vardis' debut album also entitled 100M.P.H. (recorded live), in October 1980.

The next couple of studio albums 'Quo Vardis' and 'The Worlds Insane'were released in 1981 and '82 featuring an amped-up cover of Hawkwind's classic"Silver Machine." and a live single featuring 'Jeepster' hit the streets full on. Selway I understand quit after 1982's Quo Vardis.

Except for 1983's The Lion's Share, which was more of a compilation album with unreleased meterial the band returned with new bassist Terry Horbury and a fifth album of original material, entitled 'Vigilante' that opens up with a classic song 'Don't mess with the best' and 'Learn how to shootstraight'. These should have put Vardis where they belong, with the likes of Motorhead and Girls School but for unforseen circumstances Vardis would break up shortly after.

Vardis have since been given two greatest-hits treatments, first with 1997's 'Best of Vardis' and later with the double-disc Castle anthology, 2001's 'World's Gone Mad: Best of Vardis', which should still be available if you look for them. A very enjoyable release of classic rock with a twist.

Various Artists - We Wish You A Metal Christmas & A Headbanging New Year
(Armoury Records – 2008)

Yeah it’s that time of year when artists seem to come out of the woodwork and release Christmas songs (that have sometimes been recorded a million times already – lol). Some have one out in their own right and others put little studio supergroups together, like in this case.

As much as I usually hate Christmas albums, this one is actually pretty damn good and features quite a few of the Who’s Who in Rock & Metal. There’s plenty that’s worth playing on this as well as its in-your-face and not a bot boring at all – like most Christmas albums.

Best cuts, although others not mentioned are also damn good as well are ‘Run Rudolf Run’ with Lemmy, Billy Gibbons & Dave Grohl; the heavy as f*ck, full of wild soloing ‘Silent Night’ with Chuck Billy, Scott Ian, Jon Donais, Chris Wise & John Tempesta or ‘Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer’ with Stephen Pearcy, Tracii Guns, Bon Kukick, Billy Sheehan & Greg Bissonette

Then there’s the full-on cockney version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’; ‘Santa Claws (sic) Is Coming To Town’ with Alice Cooper, John 5, Billy Sheehan & Vinny Appice and last but by no means least ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ with Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright.

God forbid if another one comes out next year. This is well done and a lark at the same time.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

August

V-Project - New Machine
(DMV Music - 2008)

A few years since the 1st album came out - this is a welcome return to the CD for David Vaccaro, who this time around only has one guest vocalist on the album - Robin McAuley (of MSG).

It's a real nice affair this release - a rockin' more bluesier one than the debut with Exit Sign (with Robin on the mike) being a a good example (think 'Cinderella'). Some cool ditties on here such as the beautiful driving 'Somebody Like You'; the instrumental 'Desert Run'; the laid back but sometimes funky 'Disclaimer'; the eastern kinda Zeppelinesque 'You Don't Care' or the Buick McKane'ness of 'On Yer Way' with some killer slide guitar playing on there or the brilliant 'Back To My Baby' that at times reminds me of 'The Joker' by The Steve Miller Band.

Be bang on to see David break into the big time league as he has the songs and talent for it - someone ought to give him a well-deserved support slot in the not-too-far-away-future.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

July
Venom - Hell
(Universal Records - 2008)

There's a certain feeling surrounding bands of yesteryear pining for another slice of the cake in this modern day and age. On one hand, they could do a Ministry and go against the grain and pen possibly one of the finest albums of their career; re-affirming and reminding the world why they were so fucking important in the first place.. or they could do what Venom have done on their new album "Hell" and completely fuck it all up.

From the opening feedback of 'Straight To Hell', through to the half-hearted ''The Power And The Glory, "Hell" refutes to prove itself as little more than fodder for the band to warrant hitting the road and playing their "Hits" to their baying fans, as if they really need one. Fact is, there's so much wrong with this album it's comical. Be it the out of time drumming on the likes of 'Hand Of God' and 'Evilution Devolution', the blase solo's on the title track and "Blood Sky" or the fact that the entire album sounds like a fuzzy mess, with frontman Cronos's bass cranked up to 11 throughout and distorting like holy hell.

Fact is, after all these years, you'd expect so much more from a band like Venom. They've done So much for music. I mean, lets face it; without them, we probably wouldn't have black metal (Something I'm sure the Norwegian's would've been grateful for in the early 90's) and even going so far as to influences bands from the likes of Metallica to even more modern outfits. So it's a great shame that after all their time and effort that this is an opus they're content adding to their legacy.

Sorry lads, not this time.

5/10

By Tom Brumpton

May 2008
Voodoo Six – First Hit For Free
(White Knuckle Records – 2008)

Debut album from a band who have toured around the UK supporting the likes of Alice Cooper & even played Download Festival in 2006. They play true ‘n’ traditional 70’s and 80’s Rock and they have no need for any current fads or trends which pollute the music business these days – Voodoo Six are the real deal.

It all kicks off with ‘Faith which is the single for the album - a bluesy gutsy number that’ll give retro rock lovers something to get excited about. ‘Feed My Soul’ is a full-on number with its choral contributions that’s reminiscent of ‘Innocent’ by the sadly missed naked chick band ‘Rockbitch’.

Elsewhere its full on, pack it all in deep-rooted rock with a dark earthiness to it – take the Sabbathy ‘Crawl’; then there’s the beautiful ‘Saints and Sinners’ – think White Lion at their best combined with an Alice In Chains atmosphere. Another nice ballad on here is the almost medieval like ‘Mistaken’ that you could even imagine ‘Blackmore’s Night’ performing out in a castle somewhere. Ending on the song ‘Slip Inside’ is a powerful number to end the album on.

Good stuff – expect to see more of these guys in the future.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

2007

V/A - FRONTIERS - Rock The Bones Vol. 5
(Frontiers Records)

It’s been an eternity since I last managed to come by one of this label’s popular taster comps, though not long enough to forget that they do carry a fair amount of power metal on their roster nowadays.

The opening double-header of Prime Time and Allen/Lande establishes the fact, both still interesting in their own way, but Jorn Lande’s latest venture wins, even if PT have a female singer guesting here. Getting back to the specialty subject of one of Europe’s top AOR labels, Pink Cream 69 and Night Ranger both deliver splendid selections from their long awaited newies but after these come royalty.

Joe Lynn Turner is one of the biggest names to have been signed by the Italian company, alongside Journey, (and for a brief while, Thunder) and ‘Your Love Is Life’ says it all if the word ‘love’ also means as in ....for the music - a stunning rocker with a Van-Halen-meets Pride Of Lions melody direction. And then onto our boys Peterik, Hitchcock et al themselves, bless them and still at it four years on from that astronomical debut disc, making music that continues to level with such standards.

‘Language Of The Heart’ (Stan Bush may be wanting words there, lads) at least does, coming across momentarily as a pleasant rehash of ‘Courage To Love Somebody’ before spreading wings to fly its own way. Hair rock legends Great White can’t have taken the time off that they say they have or they wouldn’t be all of a sudden sounding here, identical to as they did two decades ago, but their latest offering ‘Back To The Rhythm is more or less in recognition of their 25th anniversary... any excuse will do, won’t it Jack.

We then get Mr Lande again, albeit going it alone with ‘We Brought the Angels Down’ on what sounds like an excellent live solo disc there, afore another welcome new act show themselves in the name of Circus Maximus presenting a power metal noise in the vein of most top German names but with a Ten-esque edge that many will take to. An English singer from one of hard rock’s top Teutonic machines themselves, David Readman takes advantage of that aforementioned lull in Pink Cream 69’s activities with a match made in heaven - the Pinks themselves plus prime-time Harem Scarem, Magnum, and Swedish faves Damned Nation... do you hear me complaining?

With the new Transformers movie dominating box office revenue over the summer, it’s only appropriate that we have a bit of Stan Bush into the mix. The luscious AOR bouncer donated to this disc by the former Emmy Award winner has a vocal similarity to ‘Primitive Lover’ when his mighty throat first lets go but soon swings elsewhere towards the sound that we are used to from this highly talented fellow today.

From one legend to another, former Toto chappie Fergie Frederiksen’s latest vehicle in which he teams up with ex-Prisoner/Deacon Street man Tommy Denander, comes with parts evidently supplied by Survivor but of course, make a bad tune that certainly doesn’t - I’m actually wondering if we are going to have one this time. There sadly may be nothing of House Of Lords this time but we still got the nearest thing in Mrs James Christian herself, Robin Beck whose blue-infested bar-room rock puts quite a contrast but again no dampener on proceedings and I’m reminded of Dutch songstress Xoch at times throughout.

Los Angeles is a name it was inevitable would finally get used through not for a girl-fronted Italian power metal act, although it does just about establish the record for most female—voiced acts on an AOR comp, by Frontiers, Z or Escape combined. The absence of HOL material is heavily compensated by TRW - where that business about Bad Company and Giant comes from, I knoweth not but influences as good all the same – vocally reminiscent of messrs Christian and Co, above all.

A pleasant surprise closes off the one and only disc we have in the pack this time, by means of Whitesnake/Thin Lizzy/Soul Sirkus bass goliath Marco Mendoza with a surprisingly neatly cut slab of melodic rock which shows him to be a creator in his own right rather than just the hottest hired gun in town.

With barely a filler in the list the enitre duration, Frontiers latest throw-together of product of their prestigious clientele shows that one disc is actually better than two for maintaining one’s interest throughout as on their double-disc offerings in the past only half of the thirty-five or so have prompted an instant repeat play, but out of sixteen, little room left for disappointment and I hope to hear the rest of the albums that each house these mostly excellent numbers.

The first Frontiers CD I’ve reviewed for eighteen months, a welcome return, I reckon.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

V/A - Fopp Award For New Music 2006- London & South East
Feat: Conrad Vingoe/The Dials/Olympus Mons/Morton Valence

Nice to hear another sampler again - first in a while actually. Just one problem being it’s now somewhere slap in the middle of 2007. Then a few more problems. The songs.

While I’m not the biggest indie-hater on the face of mother earth, these slices of quite listenable but mostly little-better-than-average pop antics on offer do little sadly to make me reach the repeat skip button, except for Morton Valence’s electro tinged contribution ‘The Outsider’ which is a pretty decent number.

A case of take or leave, I think this CD may have come through the wrong letterbox.

A hard thing to have to say, given that I’m a South-easterner myself.

5.5/10

By Dave Attrill

2006
V/A – GIGANTOUR
(SPV – 2006)

Just as the title says, exactly that 9 of SPV’s big touring artists caught in concert at a major rock festival in 2005. A nice range of different various of metal from the more classic style of Megadeth to the heavier side of things with Dry Kill Logic and Fear Factory and even goes into progressive territory with Dream Theater.

With a line-up of this nature there’s something here to please all lovers of the loud musical genre so I can see it being a decent seller in the market place (watch me get egg on my face now!!)

Highlights on this for me were ‘Tout Le Monde’ from Megadeth; Fear Factory’s ‘Archetype’ and ‘Panic Attack’ from Dream Theatre. I was disappointed with the Anthrax numbers though as Joey Belladonna doesn’t sound like he’s on a good day and coming down with a cold. I wasn’t too fussed about the more aggressive up to date artists like ‘Dry Kill Logic’ & ‘Bobaflex’ but it simply comes down to personal preference and having a liking to the more traditional kinds of Metal.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Vains of Jenna – Lit Up/Let Down
(Filthy Note Records/Outlook Records - 2006)

Debut album from the Swedish Sleazesters who f*ck*n’ rock with real attitude who kick ya where it hurts throughout. Brilliant to see that they have re-recorded ‘Hard to be Vain’ about drug excess that was featured on their demo CD (the cowbell sounds great guys) – it’s all about the money !! - well not always – you gotta have long-standing talent too – which these guys have got.

Plenty of glam all over on this platter and I especially like the fact that the songs stand up in their own right, since a couple of them appear in both electric and acoustic format – these being ‘Set it off’ and ‘Noone’s gonna do it for you’. You even get the promo video thrown in of the song too plus the making of it – expect to see some hot chicks, a swimming pool and some crazy quad driving.

Overall an enjoyable album by what I reckon will be a long-standing band.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Vains of Jenna – The Demos
(RLS/Raw Noise Records - 2006)

The latest Glam band that everyone is raving about that were picked up by Stevie Rachelle of Tuff and signed the label of Bam Magera (of Jackass). Swedes who sleaze up and glam just like the best pickings of the LA Sunset Strip – no wonder they live there now. Think Love/Hate, Faster Pussycat and elements of Hanoi Rocks.

8 numbers recorded in 2005, 2 of them by Gilby Clarke – these being ‘Kick it’ & ‘Heartbreak Suicide’ – call this a cop-out but each song rocks like f*ck from their Intro to ‘Baby’s got a secret’ and they even do a cookin’ cover of ‘The Rolling Stones ‘Jumping Jack Flash’.

Give them a listen – you are bound to dig ‘em.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

V/A - Black On Black - A Tribute To Black Flag
(Reignition - 2006)

Sick of the countless Metallica and Maiden cover comps doing the rounds nowadays, Reignition decide to bring us back to acquaintance with a important name of the past instead. While Henry Rollins may have moved on to things of much higher profile since, his past life with hardcore legends Black Flag still doesn’t go ignored today, even by two or three generations of fans along the line but it’s important to introduce today’s under-twenty types to the US punk scene’s most pivotal acts in history.

And what better way than to do it by borrowing the services of present day metal heavyweights like Black Dahlia Murder, Dillinger Escape Plan and Coalesce amongst others, bound to shift a few copies or what. Quite frankly a case of heard-one-of-these bands-heard-just-about-effin’-all-of them, these covers, I personally found more interesting than their own material, yours truly being a tad iffy with a fair handful of Kerrang-approved contemporary metal acts. Nonetheless, this collection bruises and I hope there are enough new fans made for ol’ Henry to erm…fly the Flag once again.

Worth having.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Violent Storm – Storm Warning
(Gold Storm Records – 2006)

The bass player of Yngwie Malmsteen’s ‘Rising Force’, Mike Cervino’s own project which is extremely good and his players are Matt Reardon on vocals throughout; Mike Sorrento (Drummer on ‘War No More’; ‘Deceiver’ and ‘You Don’t Care’) and Dean Sternberg (Guitarist on ‘You don’t care’) on various songs.

Heavy Metal and Power Metal are the dishes of the day here – a bit like his day job with the big Swede who is featured on the excellent ‘Fire in the Unknown’ (the best song on the album as well) and on ‘Pain’.

Big vocals, spot-on arrangements and well worth checking out – even Roy Z of Halford & Judas Priest’s KK Downing guest on the album – hmm, there’s a connection there, don’t you think – now before you ask ‘The Metal God’ himself does not feature on backing vocals. ‘Storm’ was written by Ritchie Blackmore & Candice Night of ‘Blackmore’s Night’ – it’s an atmospheric ballad featuring wind effects in the background that features the mention of ‘Dragons’ – as if it wouldn’t – cracking stuff.

Awesome – as if it wouldn’t be with the musicians found within.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

2006

VERTIGO – 2
(Frontiers Records - 2006)

Another outfit that turned out not to be an in-one album- out affair, (thank god for contractual obligations, eh) Joseph William’s 2003 project which like Pride of Lions saw its debut in 2003 returns three years later to see if it can do the same again even better. Well it does a damn good try but the imaginatively titled second offering is little more than a pleasant follow on from the last but that is not to say it’s abad album..o-h-h-h-h no.

One of AOR’s most sought after voices for the last three decades, JW doesn’t let up here with a healthy pedigree of present day scene talent, guitatist Alex Masi, bassist Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi and top Aussie skinsman Virgil ‘Thunder From Down Under’ Donati squaring to his talents.

More a symphonic metal man, donai’s versatility is proven on ten quite Mitch Malloy oriented numbers that take on a slightly harder sometime Scarem-like edge than the last disc.

Recommended for anyone who liked the first. Or who likes melodic rock really.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

VOIVOD – Katorz
(Nuclear Blast - 2006)

Canadian metal vets Voivod have enjoyed a staunch following over their fifteen or so years but I can’t help but join the many who agree that their attempt to join the thrash movement came about a decade too late. Advice intended for the benefit of new fans, don’t let the fact that these lads lived in the shadows of legends like Metallica, Slayer, Testament and Megadeth put you off picking up this disc as it nontheless contains some damn decent ol’ fashioned metal.

Er….yes, before I forget it also contains the work of an ex-Metallica member with bass legend Jason Newsted now employed in the Vod’s ranks. Furthering things up the uncanniness-o-meter, just dig how dangerously similar they get to Newsted’s erstwhile band’s black album on about seventy per cent of the tunes. Alarmingly Hetfield like riffs, almost all the way take us through post-thrash, through and out of power metal and into ‘heavy trad’ territory but retaining classic Bay Area prowess to boot and could by chance indicate that Newkid arrived with more than just his trusty four-string at Voivod’s doorstep. Either that or he felt more comfortable with their Celtic Frost-like vocals but who cares, this is a lethal shot of menacing but melodic old-school darkness matured for 2006 consumption.

Like scene countrymen Annihilator, the musical climate of the past decade and a half did its damage to their potential dominance but Voivod held it together fro those who believed, and the significant recent addition to their personnel should stand a chance of them recapturing lost years of higher profile - even if this highly applaudable album doesn’t manage to.

Voi-void? No way yet.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

Vexed – My Turn To Bite
(S/R – 2006)

Wailing all the way from Worksop, Notts. UK – a place famous for being the birthright of Iron Maiden’s ‘Bruce Dickinson’ . There’s 6 kickin’ cuts on this ep with the best ones being the opener ‘Apathy’ that sees the Boys heading downsouth, USA – just close your eyes and you’re there and the closer ‘Lady Ocean’ – which would sound great that would sound out-of-this-world with a full on bombastic orchestra and more electricity – puts me in my of ‘Everytime I think of You’ By Kiss from the Revenge album.

Some of the stuff is rather humourous and cliché in the lyrical and musical department with the best example being the Gothic p*ss-take ‘My Time To Bite (or at least I think it is – coming complete with Thunder sound effects and dark devilish voice) – it’s in true Spinal Tap style as is the slow blues-rockin 12-bar entitled ‘Teaser’ about a girl who pays for meals laid on her back.

Pretty good E.P.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

June
STEVE VAI - Real Illusions:Reflections
(Favoured Nations – 2006)

Steve effin’ Vai - he still around? Been a bit quiet recently, ain’t he. Still glad to see the geezer at it, his latest long-player is a conceptual rock opera type affair – (don’t ask) though quite constructively represented by the instrumentation, which, being who it is, is little surprise.

Always one higher on Yngwie Malmsteen in that unlike his Swedish rival he plays things at more than just two different speeds, Stevie boy still turns on the styles, and here turns them around often enough to confuse. Sounding remarkably like the underrated ‘Sex and Religion’ project on a lot of the more mellow numbers, Vai seems to be less and less interested in 100mph shredding these days and rather sound like he’s written this whilst jamming on his porch on those long summer evenings.

Add a few strong echoes of fellow New Yorkers Dream Theater into the platter - you can hear him in Petrucci mode on at least five of these eleven tunes, and you grasp that Steve Vai 2006 has left his 1988 self almost totally behind though his earlier era did have its redeeming factors.

Don’t expect too many sing-along hooks, this is still for guitar freaks mostly but converts may still be made today.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill


May
V/A - Deacon Street 2
(MTM - 2006)

The challenge of pinning down about 20-25 melodic rock/metal figureheads on the same disc, seems to become more of a piece of p*** by the week, if you happen to be one of association with one of Europe’s top AOR labels.

Ex Prisoner/Radioactive guitarist Tommy Denander has been one man lucky enough to land in such a position. Culling together countless luminaries from Sweden and the States, some of which guested on the latter of the two aforementioned acts with him you could count Tommy’s list all night here. Ex Prisoner-pal Geir Ronning plus fellow Swede Thomas Vikstrom are amongst those supplying voices to some of these pleasant little belters with the unmistakable voice of Stan Bush also filling the slot for one.

Look at the guitarists Denander has borrowed fro the job…. Bill Leverty (Firehouse), Reb Beach (Winger, Dokken, Whitesnake), Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Kansas), ex Megadeth man Marty Friedman even… this geezer has played with all these, and Blue Murder/Firm bassist Tony Franklin as well. Many get-togethers of this type got horrifically belly-up when it comes to the culminating product but T.D. hasn’t done a bad job in keeping the promises of such a…promising amalgam of musicians.

One or two cuts stray intro boy-bandsville a little too much fro comfort but stronger rockin’ tracks like ‘Leann’, ‘When Love Is On The Line’, ‘Kill Us Another Day’, ‘Misery’, ‘Easy As It Seems’ and the cover of Sweet classic ‘Action’ (how many have done this one now) hold true to this powerful pedigree.

Guitar work as good as you’d expect from all said parties involved, Denander’s second installment - sorry I missed the first one, mate - is worthy as a sampler of the present day melodic hard rock scene alone as well as just a crafty way to catch up with the major league players of yesteryear.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Femme Fest 2 – V/A
(Motor City Music – 2005)

Female fronted bands recorded live – Melt aren’t too great with a rather bad singer at the helm. The band ‘Blammo! aint much better which is just 2,3,4, punk without a decent voice in sight.

To be honest the only decent band on here – their highlight being the one for George Bush.

5.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Numbers from the Beast – All Star Tribute to Iron Maiden
(Restless/Rykodisk -2005)

Worth havin’ only for the fact of who appears on the cd to be honest like Lemmy (The Trppoer) or Jeff Scott Soto (Aces High). Tons of other names include Marco Mendoza, Jimmy Bain and Paul Gilbert etc etc ….. Ironically enough (scuse the pun) you even get Paul Di’anno singing one of the songs from his 2 album era of Maideno - the song chosen is ‘Wrathchild’ – sound good as well – well let’s face it, how can it not.

Best tunes have gotta be the already mentioned ‘Aces High’; ‘Can I play with Madness’ with Mark Slaughter on vocals and John Bush’s version of ‘The Wickerman’.

It must have cost a fortune to put this together and in all honesty it gets you wondering what the actual point to it all was in the first place when you can just go and check out the better versions which are of course the originals.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

VIO-LENCE - Eternal Nightmare (Re-release)
(Massacre Records - 2005)


Time for a bit more of the ‘Before they Were Famous’ thing again now, I think. Robb Flynn is known mainly by all of us world wide as frontman and guitarist with Oakland metal giants Machine Head. For the benefit of young ‘bangers-of-head, his earlier trade was plied however as a shredder for Bay Area thrash merchants Vio-lence and the re-appearance of this old gem from 1989 provides time for some education.

V.L were always slightly in the shadow of fellow San Frannies ‘Forbidden’ but their commercial speed metal still fared better than some other inhabitants of the scene, Sean Killan’s voice actually quite melodic and not unlike Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna most of the time. While ‘…Nightmare’ stands at only seven-track long itself, it is this time accompanied by a disc featuring a feature length live set from their 2001 reunion. All but Flynn - who obviously couldn’t synch his schedules with the ‘Head enough to make this journey – are present with Rob’s parts deputised by two different guitarists on various tunes so not all twelve numbers were recorded on the same night, but a large fraction of ‘E.N’ itself is covered on the set.

Both discs clocking in together at about 90 minutes, a more fitting acquaintance with one of the more underrated US metal outfits of the late 80’s could hardly be wished for.

Get it before it disappears again… but also new fans be warned, don’t expect any early versions of ‘Davidian’ or ‘Ten Ton hammer’ here.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

VOYAGER - Element V
(DVS - 2005)

These guys are on the same label as excellent fellow reviewees Silent Edge so I’m hoping this disc lives up to matching expectations at least. Sadly, it doesn’t quite but still good itself. You know straight away from looking at the band name or titles of the album and most of its contents that there is a sci-fi leaning to things within, before having listened to a note of the first number, but don’t treat this as too much of an instant deterrent.

If Ten, Threshold or any outfit fronted by persons named West or Boals are amongst your favourite bands, this is quite safe to enter. Though obviously featuring rather interstellar melodies, the keyboard and guitars cut almost all the preferred power/prog metal shapes and while a few of these fourteen tracks might drag their heel a little, most let you sit back and enjoy the ride.

Obviously this particular format combo is about welcome in rock circles these days as Russell Crowe at a hotel reception counter but it hurts less to listen to this than you think. These fellas have at least managed to keep it as listenable and likeable as most other more down-to-earth offerings in their associated scene.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
Ten, Royal Hunt, Threshold, Artension, Magnum

2004
V/A - CENTURY MEDIA - Sampler
(Century Media - 2004)

As if this another-sampler-every-month business isn’t getting a little tiresome by now, enduring the entire content of some of these selections gets a little testing at times.

Our latest such freebie from Europe’s no1 metal label kicks away well enough with enticing offerings from The Haunted and Shadows Fall’s but struggles to excite after that, the other five bands on the sampler - Diecast, God Forbid, Heaven Shall Burn, Devil Inside and disappointingly, also Middlesborough’s Stampin’ Ground – sounding too alike to maintain a stable level of interest or excitement.

A pity as we know full well of the variety C.M. have on their roster and none of these bands themselves are bad at all, just rather too predictable played back to back. An uncharacteristically poorly picked collection it may be but it is however still worth finding if a new fan of the scene taking a further look around.

6/10

By Dave Attrill

V/A - Hawino’s House (4-Band Split Sampler)
(Hawino Records - 2004)

Not having been too impressed by Century Media’s latest multi-band sampler as I would usually like to have been, this does so, at best, no more with Downset’s contributions being its only true saving grace. The ‘all bands MUST sound the same’ policy seems to apply more stringently with some of these labels nowadays, and the roster on Hawino, as what I’m gathering listening to the sadly by-numbers offerings from Demean, Down Mary and Strapt, practically follows it to the dot. Very so-and-so stuff but nonetheless still handy if you haven’t managed to get hold of that latest Downset CD yet.*

5/10

By Dave Atrrill

* See ‘D’ column for review of Downset’s latest album ‘Universal’, (rated 8/10)

Valkija - Avengers of Steel
(Sonic Age Records - 2004)

Italian female fronted metal band that's like a blend of Doro, Hellion and Judas Priest. It's rather corny spinal tap sounds like a squawking old witch being savaged but she's actually a dark haired beauty.

The songs are rather Bizarre NWOBHM and sound like they came out in the early 80's suh as 'Sign of the Hammer' or 'The Unknown Kadath' (whatever that is). Lyrically it's all very dark and is a kind of lighter moment after a spell of playing a load of Venom but at the same time it is tedious and dated.

5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Vox Tempus - In the Eye of Time
(Progman Records - 2004)

Seriously sounding melodic rock that travels down the prog road. It's well done but does get tedious at times or maybe I played it during the wrong part of the day.

That said, the vocal harmonies are exceptional as is the playing such as the solo on 'For Every life' or the atmospheric keyboards/synths on 'Foreshadows'

For lovers of a concentrating nature as opposed to those who wanna get up and dance.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

October
FENRIZ PRESENTS - The Best Of Old-School Black Metal
(Peaceville - 2004)

This respected death metal drummer decides to pick the sixteen bands/numbers that he reckons we should all hear, does he. Seems he may be preaching to the educated as well as the uneducated as most who care about the scene will probably have a large portion of these in their collection already. Let's not be too rude to him though, this CD features some strong selections and it's good to hear from household names like Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Sodom, Venom, Bathory, Burzum, Samael and Destruction once again.

A variety of styles do exist in this music in case you were wondering and most of these numbers are seperable - some of these acts are actually quite melodic in one way or another, one or two tunes going very much in the Motorhead direction. A nice selection here, Fenriz, I'm sure some will still appreciate despite me only knowing a handful - well at least ten of these acts - back to front, anyway.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

September
Voodoo Hill - Wild Seed of Mother Earth
(Frontiers - 2004)

Been waitin' to hear this band for a while and I'm not disappointed when the time comes, especially since they are fronted by Glenn Hughes - one of my favourite vocalists has once again teamed up with Dario Mello (Italian Guitarist of 'The Cage' with one-time Sabbath singer 'Tony Martin'). They've come up with an album stacked full of passionate rock and metal with piecing riffage and outstanding vocals.

Sitting in the footsteps of Van Halen, Journey (their heavier side) and other arena treading bands plus elements of bands like Megadeth. Highlights include the opener 'Make Believe' (that's got those huge Hughes vocal blues chops); the stomping 'My cat don't see it' that's very Mr. Big; the built-up 'Soul Protector' (that reminds me of Donovan's 'Mellow Yellow').

This album is 'The Dogs B*ll*cks' or alternatively 'The Cats N*ds'.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

July
V/A Century Media - New Found Power (5-track sampler)
(Century Media - 2004)

They've sent us another one. A few bits that didn't quite squeeze onto the last comp or do Century Media just like bombarding us adoring fans with exciting new material?

Unfortunately, it's exciting for less than optimistic reasons at times, as although the tastes of Nocturnal Rites, Kotipelto and Into Eternity's produce don't come across as particularly damp sqibs, how one managed to sit through more than one listen to Dream Evil's contribution to this little selection, I can only dread to think. 'The Book Of Heavy Metal' is... well the title should be ample warning to most.

Thankfully, we also have a number from Tad Morose's monstrous 'Modus Vivendi' to tidy things up after that little embarrassment. The only other complaint is that the three videos included failed to play in my machine but other than that, the sampler's well worth looking out for in small independent stores, if any are still kicking about. Just remember my warning about track three when you press play.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

June
Blackmore's Castle - A Tribute to Deep Purple and Rainbow
(Lion Music - 2003)

I know it's already been reviewed by Martin Popoff but I couldn't resist writing about it as well as it's an awesome tribute to one of the UK's Greatest Rock Legends - Ritchie Blackmore.

A lot of his famous pennings appear here - 'Stargazer' being the biggest surprise as it's sung by a female, Katia Salemi (Arabesque) a real rarity to hear such a thing. The classic Lassie song is here, of course I mean '16th Century Greensleeves' performed by Reign of Terror that has shred meister, Joe Stump on guitar and ex-Malmsteen vocalist Mike Viscera taking the mike.

Another ex-Malmsteen member is to be found elsewhere, drummer Anders Johannsson who guests with Torben Enevolden on DP's 'Space Truckin'. The electric folk take of 'Black Night' piled high with violins makes a real change to the proceedings especially the radio voiced verse and pumping synth sounds, coutesy of Condition Red. To turn things even more on their head, or make Blackmore perform a 360 degrees somersault, Eric Zimmerman has come up trumps with an el;ectronic versio of 'Man on a Silver Mountain' with terrific vocals courtesy of 'Robbie Wyckoff' (both of Under-Radio).

This tribute is well worth owning because this is the proof that you don't have to stick to the original arrangements because great songs are great songs, no matter how they are performed.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

April/May
Influences and Connections - Volume One - Mr. Big
(Frontiers - 2004)

Now there's a band that ought to make a comeback of some sort but until that happens here's a fitting tribute that ironically enough was produced by Pat Regan, Billy Sheehan and Pat Torper of that said band - what no Eric Martin, who ironically enough releases his latest solo album at the same time!!

Back to the point - this tribute has a star-studded list that includes Paul Rodger who is of course performing the song 'Mr. Big' - well what else? There's a beautiful version of 'Wild World' that Mr. Big covered on the 'Bump Ahead' from ex-Bad English vocalist, John 'Missing You' Waite' and Joe Lynn Turner stirs up the dust on Colarado Bulldog' and 'Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy' in his old throaty high squeal whereas his sidekick blueses out 'Price you gotta pay'.

One of the most intriguing things on the album is the flanged and phased rendition of 'Green Tinted Sixties Mind' from Enuff Znuff's frontman 'Donnie Vie' that's real bright and kinda spooky. I'm not sure about Ritchie Kotzen's version of 'To be with you' because the tempo just don't gell to what you are used to - it's slower and makes it hard to devour by the tabs. Apart from that it's a fitting tribute to a well missed band.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

March
Various Artists - None Blacker - A Tribute to Metallica
(Perris Records - 2004)

A Perris roster tribute to Metallica which features members of Every Mother's Nightmare, Near Life Experience, Lillian Axe, Brutal Faith and more.

It's been pretty well done like the opening 'Sad but true'; Sanitaruim (Welcome Home) and the riff-meister of all that is 'Seek and Destroy'. It's just a pity about the cookie monster vocal silliness on 'Ride the lightning' as the music is top class.

There's also a bonus section of edited cuts showing the heavier side of the Perris Roster - well it wouldn't do to put place glam here would it?

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Various Artists - The Second Wave
(Communique Records - 2003)

The CD that celebrates 25 years of 'The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal' for the late 2003 Tour that never happened. At least here we have the sounds of Oliver/Dawson's Saxon', Girlschool and The Tygers of Pan Tang all on one CD.

It's like going back in time - sh*t I was like 5 when it all started but it's good to see what bands were around - many other bands (not included here) are having cd's re-released elsewhere. This album has cheese packed as high as the Stilton, sorry I mean The Hilton. O/D Saxon don't take nothing serious and have thrown a song together called 'Nursery Crimes' that has a ton of Nursery Rimes making up the lyrics - it must have been funny putting that together.

The Tygers of Pan Tang have re-recorded 'Love Potion No. 9'(the old Seachers song) and 'Hellbound' with Jess Cox's vocal replacement Rob Weir taking care of the singing duties. Elsewhere, Girlschool kick up the metal with the beltin' 80's rendering 'Mad, Mad Sister'; the humourous 'Coming Your Way' and a few other delights.

So when is Volume 2 coming out and will this tour ever take place.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Various Artist - Slave to the Power - The Iron Maiden Tribute
(I used to f*ck people like you in prison records)

A respectful tribute to one the most successful Heavy Metal bands of all time from the UK, well in the world for that matter.

There's a sprinkling of well-knowns like Seb Bach wailing out 'Children of the Damned' without a problem on those high notes; crowbar bashing out 'Remember Tomorrow'; John West (of Royal Hunt) with Chris Caffery of Savatage doin' an electrifying version of 'Run to the Hills' - well would we expect anything less?

The lesser knowns are good as well such as up 'n' coming acts like The Quill (Where Eagles Dare); Eleventh Hour (Alexander the Great); Cosmosquad with Fates Warning's Roy Alder cranking out 'Murders in the Rue Morgue'.

Many have stuck to the original format but some have dared to change 'em slightly making things that more interesting - Harris's boys will give their thumbs up I'm sure. Just a pity that there's nothing from 'Seventh Son..' onwards.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Various Artists - Snake Oil Supercharm -

A Tribute to Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction
(Sleazegrinder Records - 2003)

A label from Boston,USA have brought together a host of virtually unknown talent for a tribute to a British Sleaze legend that is Zodiac Mindwarp.

All the best stuff is there and includes 'Backseat Education' (Crackt Roach); the slow grungey 'Wild Child' (Generous Maria); the epic 'Prime Mover' (Isabelle's Gift); my current fave 'F*cked by Rock' (The Divine Brown) about doing too much coke and of course a knock-out version of 'Bad Girl City' as performed by The Humanoids.

It's a crackin' album and if you like tributes to big rock artists then make sure this is on the buy list. Purchase via www.sleazegrinder.com

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

February
NIGHTMARE RECORDS SAMPLER
(Nightmare Records - 2004)

It's labels like this that we rely on to keep bands in the underground metal/hard rock scene on their wheels in the current day's musical climate. American label Nightmare have got a very strong roster as this sampler proves with impressive material from the twenty-seven names involved including Balance Of Power, Sahara Steel, Lion's Share, Empire, Torok and Vicious Circle. They also house a host of other acts I have not previously encountered in my time and Van Ee, United States Of Mind, All Too Human, Steve Saluto, Derryl Gabel, Mystery Bloom, Deliverance, Katagory 5 and Brass Kitten are amongst the impressive.

The usual crime of sending us only edited cuts of the songs is committed here on Nightmare's quarter but at least they gave us long enough to enjoy a taste of the many talents they support. This disc is unfortunately not publicly available but any fans of melodic rock, prog or power metal who haven't come across this label before are advised to look into them. The material I've heard today convinced me.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

VAUX - Sampler from 'There Must Be Some Way To Stop Them'
(Music For Nations - 2004)

They have some strange sounds on this label nowadays compared with what they used to, but some rather interesting ones too.

Vaux are quite typical melodic hardcore-meets noise but served up with a reasonable helping of attitude and razory industrial-tinted guitar chord lines and those who are impressed with most other bands of this type on the terrace, most notably of late Funeral For A Friend, should give this some respect.

To me it's an acquired taste but still fun in sizeable doses when it's done this way.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

Jan. 2004
VARIOUS ARTISTS - BLACKMORE'S CASTLE: A TRIBUTE TO DEEP PURPLE AND RAINBOW

(Lion Music)

Scant on star quality and scant on liner notes, Blackmore's Castle isn't the most inspired of tributes, but musically these songs crackle with life (and sometimes just… crackle, hmmm), even if renditions are quite faithful. The big difference versus the originals is in the power and prog drumming behind the moat metal mindfulness.

Oddest moments: Headline's bristling take on the obscure 'Battle Rages On', Condition Red's fussy, techno-laced 'Black Night' and Eric Zimmerman's Rob Zombi-fication of 'Man On The Silver Mountain'.

I dunno, all told, if I was to generalize (and I actually can here), I'd say the tone of this thing is awkward, not to mention brashly midrangey (which is where the lively urgency comes from). But yeah, almost all 13 takes are a somewhat irritatingly mechanistic and hard on the ears.

5.5/10

By Martin Popoff

Various - Hollywood Hairspray Volume II
(Perris Records - 2003)

Here it is, a few more cans of hairspray needed at the ready (ozone friendly of course) because Perris have spoilt us again with another compilation with some classic glam 'n' sleaze and a few surprises such as, Ken Tamplin's hard rocking 'The Story of Love' and Fahrenheit with their fast, pulsing, driving 'King of the Night' (wonder if it's the same one who did that hit 'Keeping the dream alive' in the 80's) and a new cut from those under-rated pop-rockers Enuff z Nuff with their refreshing almost Led Zeppelin gone Beatley 'No Place to Go'.

Of course the sparkling sounds ain't too far behind and it's here for the taking with Prett Boy Floyd's 'Groovy Love', solo PBF man Kristy 'Krash' Majors 'Good Bye Rock n' Roller' (the title track of his new album) and Sinn's 'Sweet Thing' that's on their newly released 'Jailbait' CD due to fan demand.

Hey girl, you want it fast, you want it hard, you want now, then more, more, more - well that's a 100% sexually excited guarantee after lickin' up the spices of Jetboy's dirty 'White Rock Devil'; Nitro's 'B.O.M.B.' with it's fake in-concert effects; Parlor Trixx's 'Step Into My Parlor'; Heaven's 'H.O.T.' (that's pure AC/DC) and Supergroupie's 'Runaround'.

It would be a criminal offence not to give this CD top marks.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Donnie Vie - Just Enough
(Cargo Records/Live Wire - 2003)

The missing from the UK stages Enuff Znuff frontman has at least charmed us with this gorgeous album of songs that were written between 1998 and 2000 and recorded, engineered and mixed at Poolside Studios between August 1997 and February 2003.

It's very like EZN but what else would you expect from Donnie. A collection of emotional, melodic, harmonious songs that will capture the heart, soul and mind of all who play it. It's as though he's released many solo albums already and this is a best of - maybe he's kept many songs back from his day job and always intended them to be encompassed together on this one album.

Highlights are many such as the opening 'Spider Web'; 'Jesus in Drag'; and 'I'll go on' that are just pure George Harrison - a credit to ya Donnie (especially the short guitar solo in 'I'll go on'). Then there's the brilliance of the acoustic 'That's what love is' - the vocal is amazing and incredibly believable and the funky popsical 'Blowin' kisses in the wind' that reminds me of John Lennon's 'Whatever gets you through the night' crossed with Paul McCartney's 'Another Day' mixed in with Wing's 'Goodnight Tonight' and 'Coming Up'. 'Wasting Time' is a classic way of finishing an album - an epic quiet ballad about love and how it affects you.

The songs seem to be so amazingly autobiographical and the whole album is an essential joy of warmth, reality and passion from beginning to end. I look forward to your next release Donnie.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Dec. 2003
VARIOUS - Defenders Of Metal
(Man in Black Music - 2003)

As if we haven't heard from enough obscure labels of late, some more new friends come forth with their offerings. I've never heard of this label or any, bar a couple, of these eighteen bands, but that title. oh dear, that title.. .Well we guessed and we got.

Most of this old-school oriented assortment of power, trad and death metal is alright, but not often more than plainly acceptable and quite frankly the disc is a bit repetitive, sounding more like four or five different acts with a few songs each, collaged amongst one another.

I have to say though, there are some quite good Dio and Dickinson-esque gobs lettings rip at most of times during this collection. Element, Dr Mastermind, Metharia, Still Life, Mercury Rain and Babylon are however the only bands that stand out by anything approaching a mile but still for the true classic metal conisseur, it's entertainment.

6.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Screaming For a Change -VARIOUS ARTISTS
(Century Media - 2003)

They're nice, these record companies, always giving out these samplers, aren't they. I've lost track of how many exactly German label Century Media have compiled to date but 'S.F.A.C' is another in the line-up of many.

To my relief as many as seven of the fourteen bands names listed on the back of the sleeve ring bells - Arch Enemy, Agony Scene, Stampin 'Ground, My Ruin, Shadows Fall, Passenger and Carnal Forge, namely. Remaining acts, Haste, Narcissus, Watch Them Die, Eyes of Fire, Extol, Glass Casket and Radiation 4 also know their stuff and the result is ca quite pleasant assortment of power metal, thrash, hardcore and whatever else you can call yourself on this label.

Quite frankly, some of these bands are a bit samey within their respective genres and it drags in spots but once again, it proves another worthwhile scrutiny of Century Media's contents. Pick it up if you can.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

This is Bad Taste - Vol. 5 - Various Artists
(Bad Taste Records - 2003)

The 5th in the series but the 1st one I've 'ad in me palm. By far the best on the label are Danko Jones whose 'Play the blues' and 'Cadillac' are included; Four Square who deliver pop-punk in 'Hit-maker' and the crazy named band The Langhorns who cross Egyptian music with the early 60's instrumental styles of The Venturas, The Shadows and The Eagles (no not the one feat. Joe Walsh) whose 'I'm your fez' and 'Surf '99 make the CD worth checkin' out. No doubt the kids'll be big fans of The Hard-Ons too and the track 'Sunny' is thrown in on this platter.

A good indication to the latest editions on the label.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

VERTIGO - S/T
(Frontiers/N&T - 2003)

Oops, wait, I've just picked up the Perf… no, it's the right sleeve. It's just strange because Vertigo house four of the members of Kelly Hansen's Perfect World project, including Alex De Rosso again. In lieu of the Hurricane frontman this time around though, is Toto legend Joseph Williams.

So what does this mean for the musical direction this time? Practically a more beefed up version of previously herein-mentioned and reviewed disc with slightly more stronger songs, and again, I invite all drooling AOR nuts to take their pick without caution. Opening three 'Not Enough Hours In The Night', 'Straight To your Heart', and 'More Than Enough' have me superglued and 'Never Let You Go', 'I Want To Be Wanted' and 'Sarah' complete the album's best half whilst the other songs all do their bit to impress.

Harmonies and licks are strong as the smell of ammonia and there is more than enough contained to earn them a top festival slot in the UK. I love it.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Survivor, Two Fires, Steelhouse Lane, Danger Danger, Honeymoon Suite and Giant

VICTORY - Instinct
(SPV - 2003)

That I- word is the very principle that any decent rock metal act should live by if they wish to carve their meaning into the hand-made music industry. Victory are obviously in that league of rock-ular gentlemen, siding with this scene forever with two fingers raised at anything trendy that passes by.

With a twenty-year history behind them, they, like fellow Deutsche boys Rage have no excuse for anything else other than what they believe in doing and continue to peddle out their respected brand of melodic trad metal that whilst not exactly the most original on the face of mother earth, still allows for a few delves into diverse waters when it wants to.

There are a few AOR-ish moments intact, intentional or not I wouldn't know, but they work into the wood with the rest of the nails and I can't se too many complaints being made. Getting in the direction of all things point-ular, this is a winner all the way through. I could just sit back and randomly name 'Plastic Hero', 'Enemy' and 'See The Light' but that'll do less than justice in most's opinions. A-grade old fashioned metal, with attitude a-plenty, Messrs Newton's and Frank's twin guitars building almost the entire machine alone.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
Priest, Helloween, Rage, Gamma Ray or if you've also checked out the Tad Morose CD.

VIOLENT ASYLUM - 4-track Promo EP
(Unsigned - 2003)

They come from Essex, have a not-too-unusual name for a band of their way in the metal world, and no label. Three facts about Brit thrashers Violent Asylum already before I've even applied it to the deck and from the amount of detail (not) accompanying this disc, that's an achievement. Oh and they're a five-piece. That's four, now. However, the four songs we've been asked to assess herein thankfully tell me tons more - the music turning out a lot less by numbers than you'd begin to expect.

The customary extreme metal gargling is backed by arrangements and melodies more accustomed to Iron Maiden and Paradise Lost and such-inspired acts and some excellent soloing to add to making their file look good.

UK's metal boat takes another welcome group of sailors on board.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

VISIONARY - Strange But Familiar Shores
(Nightmare Records - 2003)

They sound like Dream Theater, I'm told. Good. That's a start. Explains the title to some depth too when I play this eight-track long second album from these Americans who have been actually trying to record it for several years, now, taking more time than they did writing it. That's not to say they've not put the hours in because though nigh on devoid of originality (at least in the eyes of the Theater boys), as prog musicians will tell you, thought pours like water into any record of this genre, and the rules concerning wracking of brains apply here just as equally.

Doing away with the epic virtuoso keyboard workouts usually deemed the vital piece of the progressive rock jigsaw, they've gone for a sound more towards a more guitar-based version of Royal Hunt, Shotgun Symphony and Vanden Plas' direction in such sense. Clawing from the measly 41 minutes of the album's running period, I'd reckon 'Care Of Angels', 'God Sleeps' which features a very Dare-y intro, 'Part Of Me', 'Words Of The Frenchman' and the even more Wharton-esque 'Desree' are the best of the eight on the table.

If you like any of the acts listed throughout this review, you'll find yourself liking this lot before you know it. An unknown quantity, beforehand, Visionary are likely to be an unforgotten one from now on. Great.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Pre-July 2003

Voodooma - From Glory to Shade
(Self-Released E.P - 2003)


A German Melodic Rock duo who use keyboards to create the atmosphere before adding in extra zest with warm guitar and scary toned vocals from Mikk to top it off - a good example being 'Somewhere in life'

They sound rather electronic but there are only two of 'em. Imagine crossing It Bites with a melodic Hawkwind without the wave machine - now that seems to be where these dudes are coming from.

The four tracks are extremely good and must have been pixked out fro a batch of songs - these being the ultimate best no doubt!! 'The Master Passes by' is very 80's Hawkwind when they were in the polished in the Lloyd-Langton era. 'Deep Falling' is a builder and you expect them to break into Queen's 'I want to break free'. 'Stranger(Far Away)' is a haunting tale and indeed has that Whitesnake 'Now You're Gone' type chorus.

If you have the ability to been anywhere near as good as the above mentioned band then I'd say that you're onto a good thing.


7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Vox Tempus - Pre-Production Demo
(S/R - 2003)


A band who began as Equinox in January 1997 who comprise of Dan Reed (vocals, ex-Millenium), Jim Turba (Bass), Ray Mantor (Guitar) and Eric Rayno (keyboards - ex-Takara).

The bands new album is out this year and this is just a sample of what is to be on offer - the songs aren't in full I have to add but the complete versions are bound to be really something. Drummer, Greg Bissonette is even gonna be part of the line-up or maybe he is right now as you are reading this.

The tracks on offer are the throbbing 'Revelations' that's like a Queensryche ballad; the staggedy riffed 'Escape'; the beautiful 'This Arena' and the mysteriously atmospheric 'What About'.

The album is gonna be killer.


8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Bon Appetite - A Tribute to the Bon Scott Years of AC/DC
(Perris Records - 2002)

Well the title says it all - so that's a big plus for a start. Full of members of Perris signed bands like Every Mother's Nightmare, Cherry St. and Mad Margritt there are highs and lows here.

The best selections are really crackin' like Tommy Paris (of 'Britny Fox') doing 'Rock 'n' Roll Damnation' or Hard Knox vocalist, Gene Hadley firing out 'Gone Shootin' or 'Dirty Deeds (done dirt cheap)' that is filthily throated by Derek St. Holmes - and let's not forget the rather exceptional rendition of 'TNT' from Mad Margritt.

It's a real pity when the vibe is dampened with an awful vocal murdering of 'Jailbreak' (Cheery St. vocalist) and the rather on the same level takes of 'Touch too Much' and 'Walk Over You' - both sung by Rick Ruhl of Every Mothers Nightmare - 'Ride On' fairs a lot better though.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Daredevil - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(Wind-Up - 2003)

You've seen the film posters, maybe some of you have seen the film - well here's the soundtrack album that features well-known names like Moby, Nickelback, Fuel and Drowning Pool (feat. Rob Zombie) as well as lesser known acts like Fingers Eleven, Chevelle and Seether.

In all honesty, the majority of it is banal, mainstream, corporate wallpaper - much of which is highly forgettable. There's a small handful of notables like Seether's 'Hang On' (think Puddle of Mudd) with its slow but powerful mood and driving chorus. Then what about Evanescence's 'Bring me to life' that must be one of the best cuts on the cd with its gothic choral quality or take a listen to Revis's slow 'n' punchy 'Caught in the rain' and the ditty from the Punk Poppy Greenday/Offspring/Sum 41 soundalike band called Autopilot Off who spark things up with 'Raise your rifles'.

If only the rest of it was as good - check it out for yourself if you feel the need after seeing the film.

5.5/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

V/A - Hammerheart Records Promotional Sampler 2

(Hammerheart Rercords - 2003)

Should have known another sampler would crop up sooner or later courtesy of one or other of the death/black metal scene's very fine labels. Very kind as Hammerheart Records are to send me this little collection of some of the big names of the present day, the idea of samplers still seems a little unnecessary in this genre as by hearing one band, you are more or less acquainted with most of the other acts sharing the grooves. Well, almost but not totally.

Blood Red Throne and Sceptic Flesh are almost one and the same thing, the latter with a more goth supported approach in its accompanying melody. Ancient Rites are quite a contrastable lot, very watered down for their associated army, and with a potential mainstream appeal not totally out of the picture. Hearse are back to as before but with the resident throatman doing the Devin Townsend thing again with some fine soloing to boot running along behind the vocal line.

Soulreaper do just the normal routine but following then last two acts, seem to lack tediousness. Dimension F3H appear to have found an empty space, marked 'Fear Factory Woz Ere' and tried to fill it, updating the incredible style combinations of the legendary LA cyber-metal outfit for 2003 .. Erm Burton, if you're thinking of a reformation, I'd erm.. you know.. watch your back, mate. Necrophobic return swiftly to the SYL side of the room fro vocal guidance, whilst remaining three bands Infernal, Satariel and Impious stick to standard issue: speed, anger and little room for pleasantries bar the odd melodic moments again.

So, you see, not all black metal bands are the same, and the expression is laid quite literally in this matter. When you pick up a comp from a particular type of metal, especially this, never look at the cover - or more to the point, the listing - and yawn. I made that mistake before but that was a long time ago.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Various Artists - Rock The Nations Vol 3

(Z Records)

I was beginning to wander when we'd get the next installment in this highly approved series. So there may be only one disc this time and most of the songs I've already heard on MOST of the excellent Z releases I've reviewed in the preceding twelve month period, but there's a large percentage of this earth's rock n' roll loving population who haven't. Thus there's no excuse for not gracing us with this third taster from the world's greatest melodic hard rock label and they've managed to cut it down very neatly into the 18-track capacity afforded to them this time round.

Veterans Silent Rage, 21 Guns and Shy impress without saying from pressings of late, whilst Westworld and Humanimal serve up appetite filling new numbers - even though the latter actually included 'Love's Dominion' as a limited bonus track on the debut album. Seven Wishes who crushed one and all with their blinding 2001 'Utopia' album and Z-Rock shows that year and the previous, look set to uphold the standard as they return with a tune off their imminent third disc 'Code Of Honour'.

Fellow Swedes Marilyn have already proven themselves probably one of the very strongest additions to the label yet with their recent 10/10 -rated debut, and on the Canadian side of things, Naro and Final Frontier offer a peep from their highly recommended platters. French newcomers Northwind are the most significant of the other new arrivals, dealing in a pleasant brand of prog-oriented metal, underlining the width of the Z roster today. Liddell/Rush/Thrall 'Lay Down The Law'* with their appearance, and remaining US contributors Marc Ferrari,Vaughn and Adrian Gale are.. Well, hear for yourself. I'm not giving away effin' everything, am I?! Not a bad collection from Mr Alger there, a satisfying compensation for the cancellation of the Z2003 bash, too.

* Have You noticed one thing? The track 'Lay Down The Law' courtesy of Liddell/Rush/ Thrall has appeared on all three Rock The Nations samplers so far. Strange, that, isn't it?

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Various Artists - The Music Remains the Same - Metal Zeppelin
(Locomotive Music - 2002)

A metal tribute album to the ZEP boys that shows what the young boys can do - you'll be spinning east and going crazy when you hear power metal bad Angra perform 'Kashmir' or writhe in ecstasy at Doro Pesch's gorgeous take of the Led Zep 1 milestone, 'Babe, I'm gonna leave you' which sounds like it was intentionally written for her - it's both quiet, dramatic and heavy all in the same song - I was ecstatic when I heard it.

The Organ classic, 'No Quarter' has been polished off beautifully by Gravedigger and the lesser known Masterplan kick out a stupendous 'Black Dog' and then there's a wonderful re-working of 'Whole lotta love' from Mago-deoz' who've ditched the instrumental middle section and wanged in a glorious rhythm guitar section that even has a marchy feel to it.
There's only one way of ending a Zeppelin tribute and of course it's ye old 'Stairway.. .' that's been saluted to the maximum by White Skull.

This is 'Rock and Roll' that's tight but loose done in a grand metal style.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Virginia Creeper - Comfortable in the Pain (E.P)
(KQ Records - 2002)

This dude produces kind of dark, glammy material and comes from Farmingville, New York. The voice is unique and sounds like that of an old man of about 80 - very intriguing and works wonders. He's been around for a while and is looking for the right record deal.

Presented are 4 songs of 4 different styles like the glam popping magnificence of 'Hot in the City' (released as a single) and originally a hit for Nick Gilder in the late 70's (I must hear the original). If you fancy a heavier, up-to-date version of Pretty Boy Floyd then 'Restless' is a safe bet to put your money on whereas 'Mercy' goes into acoustic mode and last number 'Crazy Boy' is almost NU-Metal.

Very varied and highly addictive. Looking forward to hearing a full length album.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

VOIVOD -VOIVOD
(SURFDOG/CHOPHOUSE RECORDS - 2003)

Well there is a god, after a log struggle towards the end of the year 2002 fighting with the inner voices in my f*cked up head, wondering if Voivod would ever release the eagerly anticipated progressive masterpiece featuring not only Jason Newstead but also the return of Denis Belanger on vocals, all we needed was Blacky to be back and we would have again the ultimate line up for any thrash metal band.

Voivod hit the decks with an intense array of rips, roars and full on thrash at its best and it can only be described and classed as there best yet. This thirteen-track 60 minute monster of a CD is a new start to the end of the 1988 epic adventure of one of the most innovative albums in the metal genre; Dimension Hatross, which bought Voivod to the role of pioneers in the metal firmament.

Jason and Voivod have had a history together since the beginning of the 1990's with writing songs and jamming and it was only a matter of time when Jason would be part of the Iron Gang, but rumours are that he would not be touring with them.

This release is due out on the third of March 2003, with a definite thumbs up to 'Facing up', 'Blame us', 'Rebel robot', 'The Multiverse', 'I don't want to wake up' and 'We carry on' to name but a few of this explosion of energy.

All though I can only give Voivod: - Voivod 10/10, this twenty first century Iron Gang will have the world at their feet. Snake, Piggy, Jasonic and Away will be delivered to the metal world with the credit they deserve. The Iron Gang rules.

10/10

By Tony Watson

Various Artists - Spiderman - Rock Reflections of a Superhero

(Sanctuary Records - 2002)

Now this originally came out in 1975 on the Independent label, 'Life Song Records'. Basically it's a conceptual album coming complete with narrative from Stan Lee (the comic writer) that tells the story of what it's like to be Spiderman and how it affects his feelings and emotions.

There's many musical styles on here ranging from Rock to Funk to Doo-Wop that give song to many parts of his supersonic life. Notable players include Marty Nelson (Manhattan Transfer) who takes on the singing role of Gwendolyn and Alan Ackroyd (Barry Manilow's keyboard player) hardly big rock names but their backgrounds ring a bell or two all the same.

As you can gather it ain't the usual release and it could have only happened in the 70's. There are numerous highlights like the 12-bar Rocker 'High Wire' (with exceptional backing vocals), the reggae contemporary flavourings of 'New Point of View', the black 'n' funky 'No-ones got a crush on Peter' that reminds me of Dr. John and the ending orchestral/group piece 'Time will show me the way'.

Buy it for the comic novelty value at least - there are pix of the supposed superhero band as well that include Iceman, Incredible Hulk and Captain America - Class !! '

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Various Artists - Heatslick Records Compilation
(Heatslick Records - 2002)

A good indication of what's happening in the US at the moment - and I'm talking Glam Punk.

Some well known artists and less well known ones rub shoulders on the cd. Well known-wise we are treated with the new conception that is Faster Pussycat - gone are the cowboy boots and sounds of LA sleazy bar metal and in its place comes a sinister dark 'n' industrial rock more akin to Nine Inch Nails or Marilyn Manson -scary !! from their 'Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Pussy' album - the track in question is 'Blood' - it's weird to hear the band like this, I can tell ya.

Good to see Junkyard are back as we are treated with 'Waste of Time', a classic bit of Pretty Boy Floyd (Leather Boyz with Electric Toys - from the 'Live at the Pretty Ugly Club CD) and a newie from City Girl Boys, 'Rock Star' (the band that features PBF bassist, Lesli Sanders - awesome crankin' glam punk there.

The up and coming bands include the aggressive Killingbird (the track, Cocaine Tongue)who are currently doing the rounds with their self-titled debut at the mo', The 440's (Slut Girl Blues) and Nutrajet (December Drowning), a powerful duo who supported Bubble on their UK tour in December 2000 - incredibly enough is the fact that they are simply a drummer and vocal/guitarist who manages to take care of all the lead/rhythm and bass duties at the same time - well worth checking out if they are playing anywhere close to you. Oh, I must mention these scary dudes on here called
'The Narcotics' with 'Four Feet Down' as well.

It's both an intriguing and enlightening selection - spend those dollars and give it a whirl. There's no chance of getting bored here.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

VARIOUS ARTISTS - In The Eyes of Death 3
(Century Media Records - 2002)

It was in 1994 that I had the first taste of the talent united together under Germany's Century Media label, with a sampler album called 'Identity' which included some of the finest Death, Thrash, Hardcore and Black metal acts on the face of ol' mother Earth.

Eight years down the line and while some bands have changed, the music stays the same as Century Media continue to dominate the extreme metal recording industry with world status acts of the genres it serves. Hence this latest instalment in their successful series of taster discs, which gives us another guided tour round the house and its current residents.

This comp' is dominantly death metal with a few bands of slightly deviant style, and a hint of hardcore, most notably in Unleashed's contribution, a punk-metal belter of pure class. Down to the main business if one doesn't mind, and the Century Media roster appears to be serving up some brutally appetizing dishes of late. Solefald are a particular pick with Black-metal-meets-Fear Factory flavoured melody-woven onslaught, whilst Suidraka look to be barking up a similar tree but more from a Euro power metal angle.

Greeces's, 'Rotting Christ' are also among the more decent of the latest death acts, and Grave, Borkagnar and Carnal Forge, amongst others, are all excellent in wearing the uniform style, their own ways. Japanese metal kings, Sigh are like very few I've heard before as guitar work that would make a perfect fit on any melodic metal record (e.g. Last Tribe, Stratovarius) is layered here under trademark black metal gargling. There you have it.

Just a few of the countless many acts that make Century Media their choice for pressing - and impressing. It may not quite guarantee any of these acts an appearance in Smash Hits the music still smashes heads with the equivalent force of a dangerously heavy blunt instrument swung down from a high angle and the musicianship hits you in the places it hurts the most.
Check some of these bands out, especially Grave and Solefald, if you haven't done so already - they won't disappoint.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

Hollywood Hairspray - Volume 1
(Perris Records - 2002)

So what's the best thing from Hollywood? - the average punter would say the films - Wrong !! The answer is Glam and Sleaze Metal. Feast your ears on this glittering baby - here's where you go to hear new and unreleased gems from Pretty Boy Floyd, Steevi Jaimz, Roxx, Shameless and many more. This is pick up music in all matters of the word.

Included is the unreleased cover of 'Kids in America' from Shameless (with Steve Summer's)- having more in common with the song than it's original mouth-piece, the U.K. 80's Pop Godess Kim Wylde. 'Backseat Shake' could well be a taste of what is to come on the latest Pretty Boy Floyd album - and if that's anything to go by, it'll be a 'Leather Boyz - Part 2' - truly awesome sleaze.

It's fantastic to discover what many obscure old and new glam bands sound like such as 'Big Bang Babies' (who featured guitar ace Keri Kelli) with a number called 'Let's Go' or the charge of 'Women in a Fast Car' from Stampede Queen. I can't forget Steevi Jaimz' 'Cat on a hot tin roof' which has become an old-time favourite of mine.

Well that's sold it ya - so get them dollarz out. Happy Hairspraying to you all.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Raw Trax 02 - 100 Proof Ass-Kicking Rock and Roll - Various Artists
(Outlaw Recordings - 2002)

Want the real thing - no I ain't on about sex- I mean Rock 'n' Roll - well this is what Canada's Outlaw Record Company salutes it and brings to the world just that.

This sampler features the first 5 artists from the roster. Opening it up is American Dog - dirty, no-good rock 'n' roll that's red-neck style and all the better for it. The Dog's vocalist you may remember as he was a member of both Salty Dog and Dangerous Toys - that'd be Michael Hannon. The cuts are the slutty 'TV Disease', the 12-bar basings of 'Let's all get drunk (and f*ck tonight) and the pumpin' 'Sh*tkicker'. Tasty stuff - the music - not the sh*t !!!

Up next is Billy Butcher - a slide-guitar slinging blue-rocker all taken from his debut, 'Penny Dreadful'. 3 tracks in all the best of which is the bar room boogie of 'Outlaw' - think George Thorogood and Rose Tattoo.

Remember Annihilator, well the original front-man Randy Rampage is astill alive and you get 3 cuts from his 'Fake it big time' shoved in your face and as you'd expect it's very much Punk meets Thrash Metal and a good exanple is the cheesy live scorcher 'Sonic Reducer'.

Easily the stand-out artist on this sampler are 'Eric Moore and the Godz' who come across as 70's Kiss in the year 2002 - in fact they supported Kiss in '78. Taken from the album, '20 Moore Years' the line in the song 'Criminal Mind' really says it all -

I've got a criminal mind - I got a Rock 'n' Roll Heart'

'Mongolians' sounds like a cross between early Judas Priest and the Def Leppard classic, 'Wasted'.

Celtic Frosts Ron Marks is back with a new project as well called 'Subsonic' which mixes Industrial and Thrash Metal together - weird but it works - kind of Ministry meets Marilyn Manson and confuses you rather a bit.

This is a label that I admire - one that's commercial music free and none of those 'I don't know sh*t about rock 'n roll suit types who tells his artists what they can and can't do, but doesn't know Slayer from Skid Row'. Instead this is a company that thrives on its love for Rock 'n' Roll that's bluesy, boozy, heavy and most importantly complete in touch with the artists and what they want.

Long Live 'Outlaw Entertainment'.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

V/A - Sonic Excess Volume 1
(Earache Records - 2002)

Earache, the Daddy of Britain's extreme metal labels have just graced us with this new 16-track taster lesson in musical brutality, brought to you courtesy of some of its prided acts, new and old.

Having not been that too blown away with the Berzerker, December Wolves and Incision albums recently released, I hoped that I'd encounter musical matter at least a tad more variant.

Dillinger Escape Plan are quite a predictable sounding bunch initially but with a more HC/punk leaning. Mortiis, who recently did some live work over here is a rung or two up the ladder with his contemporary brand of black metal pretty enticing. Autonomy and Diecast are excellent as well, mixing livid and surprisingly gentle melodic vocal harmonies into well arranged synchronizations. Italians Linea 77 toured over here a couple of years or so ago, with Kill 2 This and are probably remembered by many for their ruthless butchering of Bangles classic 'Walk Like An Egyptian' but here they let us have one of their own delightful ditties, again in the vein of the two previous cuts.

The Haunted, December, Decapitated and as you might already have read, Decemberwolves, bring us straight back to predictability street, though the riffage to Decapitated's cut does have a certain air of Bay Area-ism to it. Little surprise as they've actually been going about as long as Forbidden, Exodus, et al.

Rabies Castle who hail from Russia are pretty interesting with their manic make of industrial noise supported by a rather tuneful guitar line. Usurper deliver it like it should be, old school thrash metal of air-punching proportions. Kerrang can keep their infantile fashion-fixated ridicules to themselves because this is metal for the true believer. Incision are business as usual, fitting the same mould as a few other acts previously mentioned, on the comp'. Rakoth are what sounds like trying to be a thrash version of Jethro Tull but it works, believe me, it does.

Without Face are a very interesting act, mainly melodic Goth with a variation of voices, both male and female and the odd smattering of death vocal here and there and some pleasant soloing too. If this song is only a demo, then their album should more than likely be a real ear-opener. Guess what Ephel Duath just happen to be but that guitar line still flows like a river after a night's all-too-British torrential rain. Australia's The Berzerker are reviewed elsewhere on the site,- again material with few surprises but live, definitely ties some kangaroos down, and slaughters them mercilessly.

'Sonic Excess Vol 1' is a recommended and unexpectedly diverse collection of crushers from our beloved island's leading name in this metal genre's record industry. Perhaps we should pray for an annual festival to showcase some of these acts as do Z and Frontiers, support is needed in this scene too, you know.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Vanderhoof - A Blur in Time
(SPV - 2002)

Collecting 2 members of Metal Church (Guitarist, Kurdt Vanderhoof and Drummer, Kirk Arrington) is well worth the effort if they can come up with 70's esque product of this standard. Think Boston Harmonies 'n' musical melodics strung together with the ballsiness of Foreigner plus mammoth keyboards and pin-shining crystal clear tenor vocals from Drew Hart who contacted them through the Metal Church website.

Pick any track and be prepared to be impressed. Get transformed high with '30 Thousand Ft' (right goold old slipper stomper) or purpled up and over the rails with 'Nowhere Tarin'. 'If there's a song' is a cross-pollination of The Beatles and ELO - man, I can dig this big style. Nice bass riffage on 'Sleeping Giant' or the track that that curtains go down on the end on 'Sonic Blur' is a classic bit of prog rock.

I'd like to hear the debut after being enlightened by this release. This is proof that classic 70's sounds aren't dead and buried - well, apart from the odd reformation tour.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Born to Ride - Volume 1
(Born to Ride Music - 2000)

Anyone remember the pioneer of Thrash 'n' Death Metal, Nasty Ron of Nasty Savage - well he now hosts a US biker show called 'Born to Ride' (in fact, he owns the show).

The bands on this album have all appeared on the show - that's 17 blues-rock scorchers and I'm talking about artists that beat out the vibes of the South in full-on authentic straight down the line kinda style. Take Hank Davidson's 'Born to be Free' a parody of Steppenwolf's 'Born to be wild' but rockier or the preaching from JB Walker and Cheap Whiskey Band during the confederate 12-bar, '(Long Haired, Red-knecked, Rock 'n' Roll) Son of the South' - oh by the way JB and the boys don't like disco in-breds, and I'll drink to that !!

Elsewhere, there's plenty of that good ole meat 'n' potato blues such as 'Take what you're givin', courtesy of Rick McGee and the Roadhouse Rockers - who incidentally put a good show on at the Tallahassee Biker Festival in May 2002 with Mississippi James making a rare appearance. Mark Hodgson throws out a number called 'Straight Line' that incorporates a riff similar to Booker T's 'Green Onions' and with a deep growlin' harmonica and organ soloing away who's complaining.

It's down mellow Skynyrd territory for Johnny Alan and the Edgewater Band with their rather brilliant 'Chariots of Fire' and I can't forgert the play on Hendrix's 'Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)' from Billy Gordon who re-names it 'Scooter Child' - it's live as well and features the sound of Harley's towards the close of this epic.

Throughout, this CD is a blast - just hope that the show sees light in the U.K.

God Bless the Southern States and America in general.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

VANDEN PLAS - Beyond Daylight
(Inside Out - 2002)

The pride and joy of Germany's prog-metal scene are back with a vengeance as usual and still pulling on Dream Theater's reins for journeys into Inspirationland, it appears. No put-down in citing those New York legends as your influence but if to such extent as this, they could at least distinguish themselves from said act to a reasonable degree. They do, just, and as I spin this disc more, I sort of slowly dissolve into what these guys do.

In the space of nine songs, they write their message on the wall clearly enough for LaBrie and co to read, and if they insist on bringing their sound so close to their US rivals, I recommend a royalty cheque book be kept handy. Anyway, I think I'd better leave this issue alone now, having already lived dangerously with my over-exuberant comparisons with D.T. on another write up, not too long back.

Musicianship is all by the book but they've read it very well, and the prog bits are also a bit more calmed in length and quantity, however it must be stated that this does the songs next to no damage whatsoever. 'Cold wind', 'Free the fire' and the epic ten-and-a-half-minute 'Beyond Daylight' are tokens of the band's tendency to turn up the quality even if doing almost completely the opposite with originality. There's a marathon effort from the guys on guitars and keys, who synchronise flawlessly throughout, and the vocals and rhythm section don't exactly miss the bus either.

One I recommend without hesitation for… hang on a sec…there's five chaps walking down my drive at the moment…. hey, it's the lads from Dream Theater. Evening, boys, what a nice surprise. Come in. What can I do for y…… WHACK!!!

9/10

By Dave Attrill

VICIOUS MARY - S/T
(Frontiers/Now & Then 2002)

Another bunch of new talent gets swept up in the Frontiers broom and that description is a double entendre of sorts. Yes, they are a talented bunch and yes they are new, not only in formation but quite so in style too. Vicious Mary have chosen the side of the wall that quite often exists between then and now and made their choice of side pretty clear to most. They've got out the polish and the feather dusters and given melodic hard rock a jolly good old rub-down.

Taking the straight-ahead approach of Brit rockers, 'Kick' - to which their sound is not entirely dissimilar - they've put their own flags on the map and joined the growing legion of new-age melodic rock bands that are giving this criminally ignored scene a golden reason to renew interest in. The main body of the band pull their weight at the best of times and the keyboards are well and carefully mixed layered into the mix as not to ruin the enjoyment of the other instruments. 'Love Or Hate', 'Outside', 'Million Words', 'Crying for You' and 'I'll Be There For You are probably the five most frequently to be played but all eleven songs are worth your ears in one quantity or the other.

A couple of numbers held little great attraction for me initially, as they do, but don't be put off by personal judgement of that sort.

Nu-melodic Rock, now there's an idea. A better one than Nu-metal has shaped up to, anyway.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

Various Artists - Punk Goes Pop
(Fearless Records - 2002)

The title of this album is exactly how the songs sound - very straight-forward and plain. As DJ Ginge would say, "Wallpaper Music". You know it's there but you're not particularly bothered about it. The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and J-Lo have all made crap songs and the fact that a bunch of punk bands have covered them is an insult to the rock community. Not Impressed at all.

The only good point about this album is that its cover has good graphics. Sorry, Punk goes Pop, you're a slop !

3/10

By Simon Moorhouse

The V-Project - Lost Demos
(DMV Music - 2001)

This is a harmonious collection of un-used melodic songs that have all been co-written by the truly remarkable talented David Vaccaro (who everyone should know about - hopefully in time, everyone will).

There's material here that makes it a criminal offence to leave songs in the can on the shelf gathering dust somewhere in a long lost locked room that no-one can find the key or directions to if you found that key !!!


These numbers aren't your usual melodic rock that you've heard a thousand times already over the last 15 or so years - instead they are of an electric/acoustic relaxing quality that originally turned you on to the incredible material found on albums like Led Zeppelin 3 and 4 but brought more up to date without losing that bright, glowing, atmospheric style that new technology seems to kill these days. They date from 1993 - 2001 but you wouldn't realise it - unless you read the CD sleeve.

On 'The Lost Demos' you are greeted with the Robert Planty like voice of the ex-MSG frontman Robin McCauley who places so much warmth and energy into the strong magical ballad 'I'm feeling it now' (there's two versions as well - awesome !!!) that even has elements of a cosmic early Queen sort of feel. If you wanna hear something of a less serious nature then you'll love 'When I'm drunk' about dodging the tax man and staying with the Queen !!! (i.e. Her Majesty's Prison). It has that light-hearted Tyla texture to it and is
incredibly likeable. The songs reminds you that Robin is Irish and Proud as the accent is at its peak throughout.

Not only that, 3 other rock throats are found here like Dennis Gresham (of 'Highway 69') on the bouncy 'Coupe Deville' which recollects memories of riding in that so-named car that his mate owned many moons ago. There's the voice of 'Dillinger', Christopher Post on the hands in the air 'Trippin' Away' or the ballsy 'Rattle Your Cage' featuring James Christian (from House of Lords).

This really is the best collection of Demos that have graced my old tabs !!! Thank god they've been released - I recommend you check this out too.

Buy it direct from www.dmvmusic.com

10/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Various Artists - Dream Ballads (Songs to play in the night)
(Lion Music - 2001 - Cat No. LMC 21111 2)



A 15- track compilation from one of my favourite Rock/Metal labels. Here's the proof that you don't have to shred a guitar at 150 mph + to produce a good song. The power of words and a wonderfully played melody can be all that's needed to make a number stand out from the pack.

Many of the beauties are familiar to my ears because they've been released in the past few months like Byrd's 'All of Me (An Aleggory)' (on the 'Flying beyond the 9' album) or Winterlong's 'Driven by Insanity' from their self-titled debut (who are very much a power metal band the majority of the time) and what about the beautiful 'Always, All ways' from Jarra
(as featured on their 'Test of Faith' album) that's always worth hearing plenty of times.

Vision's 'Open up your heart' has a red hot glow flowing around it - it's absolutely phenomenal stuff as are many of the songs on this outstanding label compilation. Rolf Munke's acoustic glory of 'The boy who learned to fly' is equally as good.

A Top ranking album that I thoroughly recommend as an excellent taster to some exceptional artists.

Check out www.lionmusic.com via our links page for more details of what's on offer from this awesome label.

 

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS


VAUGHN - Fearless
(Z Records - 2001)

I remember first mentioning the preparations for this album being made, in the December 2000 paper fanzine issue of Metalliville. I remember one of the lads stating how all five members of the act were really aware "of the sort of album the band want to write and record". Ten months down the line, I sit typing this review out, and the question is - is it the sort of album that Danny, Michael, Jaime, P.J., and Kyle have had their sights set on in the wake of last year's impressive enough 'Soldiers and Sailors On Riverside' debut album? Well, I don't know about you, the public but I'm not complaining.

Some things change and some things stay the same, if I must bore you with such a ever so slightly overused phrase but it nevertheless applies mightily in the Vaughn camp. We get the same 'Strength In Numbers' influence quotient as before but now blended in with the same summer-soaked semi-acoustic grooves that earned the last album its well deserved attention, although as we know, there are some people who were not too impressed with the style change, the former Tyketto had adopted.

'Was There A Time' is the unrivalled whopper of the nine-song offering (bit short this time, ain't it lads) but 'Dulcimer Street' and the title track run in close behind. 'Was There…' has actually become a regular weekly pick at Nottingham Rock City's 'The Rig' alongside established fave 'Is That All There Is'? from 'Soldiers and Sailors On Riverside'. The musicianship is again without saying, flawless and the songs, for the most part, good - but at only 37 minutes long you are left asking afterwards "Is that all there is?"

8/10

By Dave Attrill

Vigilantes of Love - Summershine

(Compass Records - 2001 - Cat. no. 7 4320 2)


Vigilantes of Love are a power pop band of the contemporary nature fronted by Bill Mallonee. They are the sort of band that I can imagine being played on a Saturday afternoon on Radio 2. It's very laid back - a sort of 'Who' meets 'The Monkees' with a hint of the Byrds but this album lacks a sparkle that these well known influences have.


They are a tight well-together band but the material on this album doesn't do them enough justice - the majority of it comes across as very much throw-away out-takes - which is sad because they a great band - although 'I could be wrong' and 'Stand beside me (you've got to)' do show some potential. The real highlight is 'Making it up as we go along' that is kind of 'The Jam meets The Byrds' - so if you like the idea of that check the album out for this song alone.


'Summershine' is an album with way too many fillers - it makes the 'Vigilantes of Love' come across as a poor mans Seahorses or Crowded House on a bad day.


Disappointing.


5/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

ELECTRIC BALLROOM PRESENTS : FULL TILT VOLUME III


A collection of recent and forthcoming floor fillers from the Full Tilt at the Electric Ballroom, selected by the clubs resident DJs Rex, Lydia, Darren and Paul who have tried to bring the taste of a Friday night in Camden town to your personal space.

A fifteen-track compilation CD of alternative remixes from Adrenalin Junkies, Killing Joke, Depeche Mode, Moby, Pitchshifter, Ultraviolence, and Dub War to name but a few that fill the room with an industrial and alternative ambiance, there is so much variety within this compilation CD you wouldn't be able to choose a favourite track. This is an extremely well thought out collection of tracks that will be enjoyed wherever you listen to it, this may also include Buzzcocks 'Boredom', that for some unknown reason appears as the final track?

The bonus second CD has a collection of the best-unsigned bands in the UK today. The twelve tracks were chosen from a competition run in the Kerrang!'s Scumscene page, that were then chosen from Kerrang!, The Electric ballroom and Spiky Black Cat. This CD has a full variety of music from the rock scene through to the industrial and dance scenes. It's a great idea to release an additional CD with tracks that supports the unsung heroes of tomorrow.

Overall this is a very entertaining CD; there are a lot of compilations CDs on the market that aren't worth the plastic there written on, this isn't one of them.

9/10

Tony Watson

Various Artists - 21st Century Media Blitz (Volume 2)
(Century Media Records 2001)

A 40 band strong sampler on a 2-disc set featuring the amazing defunct stoner band, Acrimony whose track 'Satellite 19' is an incredible heavy war-horse of punchy power. The awesome gothic sounding Tiamat (who used to be very much brutal black/death metal) are included and their appealing 'Brighter than the sun' shines out big style - especially due to the beautiful female backing vocals. Century Media have combined a neat selection of different styles and we are greeted with the thrashing grind-core metal of Stamping Ground (the ditty entitled 'Lesion); a storming version of 'Not Promised Tomorrow' (live from the Masquerade, Atlanta, Spring '99) from the well established Stuck Mojo and some class doom metal from Moonspell (Butterfly FX). Our ears are also perked up with the almost Slayerish sounding 'Last Laugh' from the 6-man machine known as Iced Earth (who will supporting Judas Priest on their forthcoming tour, this fall).

There really are some class acts present on this compilation - and it's unbelievable to think that those chosen were compiled from a shortlist of 137 bands. Cryptosy are an interesting bunch with their crunchy guitar and alongside ghostly vocals and sinister choral keyboard effects. The second CD features some sh*t-hot energy filled ingredients, notably Kill II This' 'This World' with its opening public announcement about the world exploding, before kicking in with a hard riff and some snazzy hip-hop vinyl scratching, not to mention the largely impressive backing vocals. Orange Goblin (a band who I first witnessed at The Corporation, Sheffield (a Top Class U.K. Rock Club that I well recommend) a couple of years ago inform us about what happens 'when the dream is over' in their stand-out track 'Blue Snow'. They've recently been the opening act on the Alice Cooper/Dio Tour and it's no wonder when they are as good as this!!!

I could go on forever telling you about many of the acts on the roster of this brilliant U.K record label, but I seriously urge you to go and check them out for yourself by logging onto http://www.centurymedia.net - you won't be disappointed. Expect to find stacks of info on bands like the well-loved 'Tribute to Nothing' (another act I saw at The Corporation, Sheffield, UK -http://www.corporation.org.uk), 'Sunlounger' (from Doncaster, U.K.) and 'As She Screams' (from Borehamwood, UK).

Just kill your speakers with these 2 ear-splitting 5" slabs of noise.

10/10 - Amazing selection of quality music!!!

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

VARIOUS ARTISTS - ROCK THE NATIONS

(Z -Records)

"Just like that!" as the late Tommy Cooper used to tell you. Just like that, another double CD compilation courtesy of Europe's No1 hard rock haven Z Records is bestowed upon us in all its glory. Yes, it's 34 tracks from old faves from previous acquaintances, plus a selection of surprise inclusions from bands I bet you didn't realise were now on the label. See, some of you haven't been paying enough attention lately, have you. To bring you up to date, the compilation delves into the history books a fair distance to bring you old chestnuts from the last couple of years including Danni Danzi ('Save Us'), and Damned Nation (I Got What It Takes), so we hope that's woken you up there. The Danzster also has a corking newie 'Eternity' (which actually appeared on the Musically Correct Vol 4 CD a year back), so be ready for more from the New Jersey six-string wizard later this year.

Since last year's Crusade comp' the magnificent Mr Alger has his mits round another mountainous load of bands past and the biggest surprise inclusions of this package have to be Brit legends Shy and Tygers Of Pan Tang. The Brummie act have certainly reinvented themselves if this seven-minute demo is anything to go by. Their trademark parp-riddled pub metal seems to have been swapped for a sort of Poley-era Danger Danger-meets Savannah style output, and it works well. Tony Mills also seems to have watered down his voice (only a slight bit) but these changes might do their career more good than bad. The Tygers sound like they've hooked onto modern times a tad, too without defacing it with any nu-metal meanderings.

Danish rockers Sons Of Angels last seen about a decade ago, return out of the blue with a new album on the way. This toon from it, 'Love You Too Much' is amongst my favourites on the two discs combined, alongside the Shy track, the two Danny Danzi tracks, plus the selections from Prophet. The respected New Jersey outfit signed earlier this year and as well as having a new offering out soon, have had two of their earleir albums re-pressed under Z's administration. 'Sound Of A Breaking Heart' is my pick of the two. Arabia, Liddel Rush Thrall and recent Z2001 stars Burning Rain fall amongst the most impressive of the other new acts. Von Groove and recent fellow ex-MTM transfers Jaded Heart more than pay Z their dues here - that killer new Groove CD 'Seventh Day' is out there on a record shop shelf near YOU, don't forget.

21 Guns are the other most significant signs, lately, with their 2nd album 'Nothing's Real' that finally sees a UK release after four years. Be warned, this, the title track may be very impressive but don't expect it to sound like anything like anything off it's great predecessor 'Salute'. And in case you're wandering, yes they have a new singer, and Solli is his name. Prisoner's 'I Don't Wanna' is another top take and was especially enjoyed when they opened their Z-2001 slot with it. The new 24K and Seven Wishes songs both come from 10/10 rated albums. Just sit back and enjoy this comp which as it happens is also rated:

10/10

By Dave Atrill

Various Artists - Union 4
(Frontiers Records/Now and Then 2001)

Yes, it's time to play the 4th 'Now and Then/Frontiers Records' compilation of the 'Union' series. Another double CD combining 33 tracks of Melodic Rock and AOR from some of the best artists around in these musical genres.

Here you'll find demo's from Johnny Lima (Best night of my life) which concerns his two appearances at the Gods Festivals, man his voice has so
much Jon Bon Jovi in it - but I prefer Johnny any day of the week.

Hardline's 'Only a night' is included (this is the band who brought us classics like 'Hot Cherie' and 'Takin' me down'), although this track sees them in a serious AOR style, acoustic at that.

A well-chosen cut in the form of 'Is this love' from Emerald Rain (a band destined to go far) shines out as does 'Don't say goodnight' from Hush (that is classy AOR at its best).

Probably the best cuts on the set are Seventh Key's 'The Kid Could Play' (which comes from their self-titled album - buy it - it's killer). Then there's the impressive number 'Adriana' from balls-out metallers, Monkeyhead who have that cock-rock style down to a 'T' or should I say 'C' - anyway - it's featured on their self titled debut out very soon.

Praying Mantis' 'Nowhere to hide' is pure hard rock splendour. Another real gem is Heaven and Earth's 'Prison' from their second album 'Windows to the World' (if you like Rainbow and Deep Purple, then you'll treasure this!!) - it's a song that's guaranteed to wake you up from a deep sleep the moment that it kicks in - especially the screaming chorus!!

Brad Gillis (of Nightranger) is also worth noting, whose 'Eyes' sparkles out in sheer awe. Not forgetting the impressive, Bailey's Comet, who have the gorgeous serenading rocker 'One love, One night' included also.

Overall, there is so much else on offer for example, great songs from Mitch Molloy (You lift me), Bourgeois Pigs (Calamities of Vanity 'Demo Version'), Under Suspicion (Love without a Net) plus much, much more - just check it out for yourself.

10/10 - An excellent label sampler compilation.

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Virgo - Virgo

(SPV/Steamhammer - 2001)

Virgo is brand new project featuring the ex-Angra vocalist/pianist/songwriter Andre Matos and ex-Heavens Gate multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Sascha Paeth (as well as the line-up being completed by Miro on keyboards, Robert Hunecke-Rizzo taking care of drum duties and Olaf Reitmeier on the bass guitar).

The album features melodious, symphonic textures and pristine musical professionalism in all things rock. Don't expect to be greeted with metal or you'll be extremely disappointed - but do expect a quartet that come close to perfecting the clarity and sensational atmosphere of a band like Queen - although Virgo would never try and claim this crown - but believe me - they come a close runner up to that legendary quartet. It was (believe it or not) recorded live at Vox Studios, Hamburg by Sascha himself (who's actually a well sought after producer who's done the business on albums by Angra, Kamelot and Rhapsody) - if only other bands came across as good as in a similar situation.


The opener 'To Me' with its harmonious harp introduction really puts me in mind of Queen's 'Innuendo' - it's amazing!! Other incredible songs include 'No need to have an answer' featuring an 18-piece orchestra and then there's the funky-pop melody of 'Streets to Babylon', coming complete with samples and a well-fitting string section. The six-piece soul choir really place the icing on the cake during the classy track entitled 'The River' which ought to be adopted as an anthem for something - it really is special and makes the band worth checking out live for this number alone!! (Especially over here in the U.K).

You'll quite simply be blown away by the sheer complexity of this band - they have incorporated some real adventurous musical styles on this highly admirable 11-tracker.

It's released on 24th September 2001. Check out www.spv.de for further details about the band.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Vision of Disorder - 'From Bliss to Devastation'
(Music For Nations - 2001)

Two years of hard work might have actually paid off. The band has really taken a turn for the better without being commercial. You can tell through their music what bands have been influencing them over the small period of time - the music being deep and hard like Soundgarden, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains and Danzig without being too thrashy - but sometimes reaching the extremes of 'Machine Head'. Then we get a mixture of vocals ranging from 'Marilyn Manson' through to 'Layne Staley' of Alice in Chains. What a great combination with the music and vocal content blending together without one or the other outdoing or drowning the other out.

You have an excellent opener in 'Living to Die' which blends perfectly into 'Southbound', then into the drum assault on 'Itchin' to Bleed'. The title track, 'From Bliss to Devastation' is really deep and hard with Soundgarden and Sabbath riffs hitting you like a thunderstorm. 'Pretty Hate' is one of those tracks, which will be played in the clubs because it is the type of track, which will get the kids up and singing, while slowly moving their torsos.

'Regurgitate' and 'Done in' start with an excellent guitar riff which mingles into the rest of the track with hard-hitting drum beats like you would hear on a Korn CD - it'll be another club fave. We then slow down for 'Walking the Line' - you could imagine this being an excellent live track as it gradually gets a bit quicker and harder.

What a pleasure it is to listen to something a bit different with a mixture of all of influences thrown in. I would personally say that it has the quality of a Soundgarden album - in the respect that even when you think you are bored of hearing it, you pick it up and think, "this is good".

9/10

By Tony Watson

VON GROOVE - Seventh Day (Z Records - 2001)

Crossing from Sweden to Canada now and a band that has already been the subject of an album review this year, already. Times are now kinder to Toronto's Von Groove, with their first ever European live show (Z2001) going down like an World Cup win for England, and on the back of it, one of the finest pressings of their produce with this, their sixth album of original material.

It would always be hard to review this without comparing it to Mladen's mind-blowing new 24K album let alone, try and draw it level with said CD, but I'll have to be honest, as I am with all CDs getting the Metalliville analysis, and see it for what it is - an excellent Canadian hard rock album from an excellent Canadian hard rock band.

'Believe In The One' leads me straight into believing that this album's already going to be better than last year's 'Drivin' Off The Edge Of The World' opus, not that that was at all a bad album - I quite liked it. 'Lily' is probably the most 24K-like track this CD has to offer - Mlad' clearly brings his part time work back home with him to welcoming arms, with probably the best chorus he and singer/drummer Mike Shotton have penned. 'Oxygen' rocks satisfactorily enough though spoiled by a chorus sporting the most infantile lyric line this side of the millennium. 'I can't live, I can't breathe without oxygen', ..... Of course you can't, you Muppet.

'Seventh Day' is the band cooking their favoured speciality, - seventies coated groove steak with side order of attitude and passion. Like nothing happened, we get further helpings of Mladen's other band in 'Lifeline'. 'Guns Over London' is next with Mladen changing six strings to six barrels and firing those riff rockets like mad. 'The Best In Me' is actually one of the least best on the album - not particularly pants but at the same time, I've heard better ballads. Mladen's soloing would have been better used on other tunes.

'Heaven Knows Your Name' concludes a double bill of ballads and despite being an all acoustic, is way better than the previous track, with some Alfonzetti-esque harmonies from Shotton painting the song in bright colour. 'Soul Surgery' is a pretty laid back rocker but with menacing middle-eight riffage, and we call it a day with 'Angel City', which is as good a trailer for the next 24K album as you're likely to hear as well as a hand-clapper of a song in its own swingy way.

As I said at the beginning, reviewing this album after reviewing 'Bulletproof' was not going to be a bed of roses, and yes it did fall short - only slightly, mind you - of that latest 24K album, but that's NO EXCUSE to leave 'Seventh Day' on the record store shelves, because it is still by every right a compulsory album for anyone who has any interest in this band.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

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