Paradox – Heresy II: End of a Legend

Paradox are back with a follow on to their classic album Heresy, here’s what Gareth thinks…

Let me take you back 800 years or so, to a time when a controversial religious order, the Cathars, was gaining power and a foothold in France, but was starting to become problematic to the Catholic church, the practitioners were regarded as heretics and their order was petitioned against by Pope Innocent III, to King Philip II of France and after this successful petition, the Cathars over a 20 year military campaign, were persecuted, tortured, massacred and eventually wiped out. Moving forward 770 odd years and German band Paradox released their sophomore album ‘Heresy’, a concept album about the ” Albigensian Crusade”, a relatively unknown, but very respected release for those in the know.

Now finally, we come back to the present day, and Paradox are about to release their 8th studio album: ‘ Heresy II: End of a Legend’, which, if you haven’t spotted it, is the long in the making sequel. It’s always a bit of a risk when bands follow up a seminal piece of work with a follow-up, Not only is it immediately open to scrutiny, to its predecessor, but if handled incorrectly, you run the risk of actually lessening the original, Operation: Mindcrime II anyone!!? No need to worry, anyone who has listened to Paradox over their career will know that they only release quality albums, with the last two ‘Tales in a Weird World’ and ‘Pangea’ being of particularly high quality.

So how does part 2 measure up. Well obviously, being written and recorded 31 years apart, and only having two of the same members, main man Charly Steinhuer, on vocals and guitar, and returning drummer Axel Blaha (who incidentally last appeared on part 1) there are bound to be some differences. However, the consistency that has been achieved is very impressive. The original ‘Heresy’ had one of the best productions of its era, and so with modern recording techniques it’s not surprising that the new record is better, its similar, modern yet reminiscent, a bit beefier in the guitars and the whole mix being more even, with every instrument having its own space in the overall soundscape. Charly’s vocals are a bit gruffer, but he still has a clear and powerful voice.

For people who aren’t familiar with Paradox, they occupy the more melodic end of the thrash spectrum, even straddling into the power metal genre. Saying that, this is more in the vocals than the riffing, which can be quite ferocious at times, although the guitar work can also be very intricate and much more symphonic than your typical meat and potato thrash band.

Lyrically and musically, this starts where the original left off, opener ‘Escape from the Burning’ is a future live classic, with a suitably epic opening before building into a real riff fest, with high energy passages and a catchy chorus. The two already released singles are up next, the fierce ‘Mountains and Caves’ and the brutal ‘The Visitors’, both with driving riffs and pummelling rhythms, where lead guitarist Christian Münzner gets to show his worth, with some fantastic interplay with Charly. The whole album runs over 75 mins, so there’s certainly value for money and if you like to really get your teeth into the lyrics and music, you certainly won’t be disappointed. ‘A Meeting of Minds’ and ‘The Great Denial’ are both longer, more progressive and involved tracks, with slower parts and quieter aspects. Whereas ‘Priestly Vows’ and ‘Unholy Conspiracy’ show the thrashier and more aggressive side of the band. That said at 75 min, I think they could have shaved at least 10 mins from the overall length, and this would have tightened up the outcome.

This is a worthy successor to the original ‘Heresy’ release, and I think fans of that album will be very pleased with ‘Heresy II’. If you’ve heard Paradoxpreviously and didn’t like them, there’s really not much here that is going to alter that opinion. Will it pull in new fans? Well possibly, this album will hopefully be better marketed and advertised than the original. A very solid and competent release that ensures that Paradox still don’t have a duffer in the discography.

Paradox – Heresy II: End of a Legend was released on the 24/09 on AFM Records

Elimination – Echoes of the Abyss

Gareth reviews the new Album by Elimination, here’s what he thinks…..

I first got into Elimination last year when I had the pleasure to review their comeback EP ‘Of Gods and Beasts’, and whilst researching for that release, I soon discovered that they had been very active previously, with two full length albums already under their belts, ‘Destroyed by Creation’ and ‘The Blood of Titans’. And now almost 10 years on, it’s a huge delight to be reviewing album number three, the rather splendid “Echoes of the Abyss”.

Those of you who are already familiar with the band will already know, they aren’t quite the same beast as they were 10 years ago, with Neil Stevens (vocals and bass) the only member left from the original line-up, now he’s joined by guitarists David Hill and Leigh Rumsby, The continuity from those early albums is continued, mainly with Neil’s distinctive bark, he’s an excellent thrash vocalist, he’s aggressive, and almost spits the words out, yet at the same time there’s plenty of melody and the diction is so clear you can pick out the majority of the lyrics with relative ease, Leigh and David do differ from the original guitar duo, in that for me they employ a bit more melody in the lead work, perfectly syncing during the solos, and more dynamic in the riff department.

Let’s dive into the album then, first track ‘Disciples of the Beast’ is an absolute fantastic opener, starting with a simple, yet ominous melody plucked out with a an acoustic guitar, with a beautiful building dual lead in the background, this continues to grow and while the acoustic fades, and with a 1, 2, 3 drumbeat, the song cuts in, the two guitars, complimenting each other yet pulling in completely different directions, it’s a terrifically ambitious start, and highlights both the confidence and maturity the band has gained in the last twelve months. The meat of the song powers along on a driving main riff, which shifts slightly into the bridge, before throttling back for the chorus, which I guarantee will be shouted back with glee in the live setting, and then they even have time for a Maiden inspired instrumental section, with a great solo and wonderfully melodic harmony parts. Terrific opener.

‘Black Wings’ sees the band really stepping on the accelerator, starting fast and escalating during the bridge, there’s even some blast-beating greatness before the chorus, another one that’s going to stick long in the brain, and the ending to the solo piece is just chaotic greatness. ‘This is War’ is a bit groovier with a cool bouncy feel to the riffing, and has a guest vocal slot from Aaron from neighbours Shrapnel (get well soon buddy) who adds a slightly blackened bark into the proceedings.

This is a seriously good album, it also sounds great, and you’d never guess they are a drummer down, whoever has done the programming for the tubs, needs a weighty pat on the back, and also the drum sound is immense. Add to that the guitar tone, it’s aggressive and heavy yet clear as a bell, when you use as much melody as these two, you need a seriously good sound. Neil’s vocals are nicely placed as well, and my only complaint is the bass is perhaps a little bit lost.

Onwards we go, ‘Damaged’ literally throws itself out of the speakers, and is a real shred fest, and not just with lashings of tight riffing, I’m talking about seriously good lead & loads of harmonies. We are already familiar with ‘Victims by Design’ which being the shortest track is a perfect pick for the lead single. Strange feedback and a brief news announcement introduce ‘The Nameless City’ which for the most part is a fiendishly up-tempo brute, that has some serpentine melodies and a section that shuffles along on an unnerving syncopated beat, before the chase to the finish, ‘Blind Leading the Blind’ cuts in straight from the outset, and sees the band slow down a touch, at least for the chunky chord lead chorus, with some heavy muted parts, but contrasted nicely by some clean dynamics.

Then to finish off we have the epic ‘Infernal’, the band’s most ambitious track up to this point, commencing with an acoustic beginning, the song builds and builds, lots of different sections, and more classy solos, parts segue seamlessly from one to the other, and a cracking climatic crescendo before a lull before the ending storm, and a brave and surprising end. What a tremendous climax to a supremely impressive album. If you like thrash, but with plenty of melody, top notch song writing and a bit more than your average release, then this is an album that you need to check out. This is so good it’s gone straight in as my album of the year so far, and it’s going to take something ridiculously good to knock it from the top spot. Absolutely stunning.

Pre Order NOW – https://elimination.bigcartel.com

Echoes Of The Abyss is released on 29/10/2021

Hellsword – Cold is the Grave 

Hutch finds things not as he thought as he checks out the new Hellsword album…

I assumed that this would be a record with more in common with power metal. Anything with the word sword tends to swing that way. But no, Hellsword are far removed from soaring vocal harmonies and rapid-fire melodic speed. Instead, Hellsword are rooted deeply in the early days of black metal; think Venom, Bathory and Hellhammer.  

Formed in 2009, it’s taken the Slovenian trio of Mark Massakre, Mike Manslaughter and Ironfist over a decade to produce this debut full length release.  Apart from the ridiculous names, there’s plenty to enjoy here despite the lack of originality. It’s well produced, with a raw edge and prototype feel but avoiding that outside toilet production of the early 80s.  

There are plenty of riffs from the Devil’s locker here, with a tempo that varies from blistering speed and thrash to more demonic overtures that slow things down yet retain all the demonic elements you expect. It’s unsurprising that Cold is the Grave features tracks such as Satan, Death and Fear, Baphomet’s Shrine and Unholy Reich – the band are pinning their flag firmly with ol’ Nick after all.  

Whilst Hellsword may not intentionally have done so, they have thrown their hat into the ever increasing ring of blackened thrash that continues to emerge apace. If you like that gnarly, aggressive and full-on aural assault, then Cold is the Grave may well be an album you’ll fancy taking a punt on.   

HellHellsword – Cold is the Grave was released on the 24/09 on Emanzipation Records https://emanzipation.dk/hellsword-cold-is-the-grave/

Dark Redeemer – Into the Deep Black

Hutch checks out Italian Death metallers Dark Redeemer and their new album…

Piling on with the blatant Swedeath worship are Italian veterans ‘Dark Redeemer’.  Their debut LP ‘Into the Deep Black’ comes off their 20+ year career as atmospheric/progressive death metal behemoth ‘Aleph’ – named Metal Hammer’s ‘new Italian band of the year’ in ’06 – whereby having stripped back all the progressive elements of the band’s previous form leaves them sounding more straightforward than ever.   9 tracks over a 45 minute run-time translates to some serious meat for any fan of classic death metal to sink their teeth into, and with the members’ previous efforts showing a clear proficiency in the songwriting department, there’s no doubt that ‘Into the Deep Black’ is on the long list of solid metal releases of 2021.

In essence, the core components of ‘Into the Deep Black’ are the raw violence a la anything that came out of Sunlight Studios in the early 90s (Grave, Entombed, Carnage or Dismember… you get the point) and psychotic precision with the structures and nuances of the coexisting US scene (Morbid Angel, Immolation etc.).  These styles collide and thus set Dark Redeemer apart from other bands whose sole purpose is to release Left Hand Path 2 (not that anyone’s complaining though), where the D-beat and hardcore influences are scrapped with the aim of going from hard to harder with flurries of blast beats and descents into filthy old-school breakdown sections.

Trackwise all the songs take a similar approach and meander through a frenzy of savage riffing with some repeated sections without resembling a strict verse-chorus structure.  Riffs will revolve around the pounding thrash beat and will transition to halftime grooves with keyboard laden intricacies scattered throughout to create some seriously eerie moments.  Lead single and opener TMC gives a taste of all these elements in its blisteringly fast thrashy intro, blast beat transitions and groovy chorus section that makes great use of a haunting keyboard melody in a ‘Testimony of the Ancients’ fashion.  ‘The Zombiemarch’ is also of note being the main consistently mid-paced track, which really helps to break up the rest of the album and keep it from turning into a giant blur of speedy riffs with no sense of memorability.  The highlight however has got to be ‘Killing Ritual’.  A 4 count on a whipcrack of a snare straight into an unmistakably Dismember esque thrashy pummelling is an instant recipe for success.

‘Into the Deep Black’ as a whole walks a fine line between carefully constructed and rabidly chaotic, where the ultimate goal is to mix the best bits of two of the most distinct death metal scenes.  The savagery in the simplicity of the Scandinavian tremolo riffs under the thrash beat and the devastatingly heavy mid-paced sections and creative flair from the US makes for some quality death metal.  Sure ‘Remains’ and ‘Grotesque Deity’ are following Swedeath worship more closely, but listeners that aren’t such big fans of hardcore will appreciate Dark Redeemer stripping back anything that isn’t pure death metal and cramming elements of yes… more death metal in its place.  The only gripe I have with this record is that despite the beauty of the cranked HM-2 sound, the tone comes out fairly wispy and thin.  This is remedied however by listening on different speakers or just turning up the bass, but I listen to music with all the EQ cranked all the way up anyway.

Dark Redeemer – Into the Deep Black was released on the 24/09/21 on Blasphemous Records

Mutant Blast –Detonation

Hutch explodes all over the new Mutant Blast EP…..

Although they only finalised their line up in 2020, Finish death n’ rollers Mutant Blast have a distinctly mature sound. Detonation maybe their first EP but there is plenty to get stuck into in the blasting 22 minutes which five full songs as well as an atmospheric intro.  

It’s clear from the start that Mutant Blast draw from a wide range of influences, from the power and drive of Motörhead to the ferocious death metal of Entombed and the raw black metal of Venom. The sound is harsh and raw, with opening track Break the Wheel an uncontrollable and feisty rager that explodes from the opening bars and doesn’t slow down – in fact there is a frantic pace which appears to increase as the track progresses.  

Vocalist Tomi Malinen, who also adds guitar has a gnarly delivery which suits the band’s chaos driven style. There is a bigger, more intense feel to Blades of Steel, but the track soon breaks out into another all-out aural assault. This is music to which one must break speed limits, such is the grip that it establishes on the listener. In the live arena, bones would be broken in the pits, with the underlying groove combining with a visceral slice of thrash that surely will appeal to most metal fans.  

There’s more than a whiff of Chrome Division in the band’s style, with the dramatic Grave Insanity, with its huge riffs and boot print of a stomp bringing a different feel whilst March of the Dead reverts to a more traditional thrash approach, all raging riffing and pounding drumming and a nice bit of Slayer thrown in for good measure. 

This is an EP that is well worth a listen if you like your thrash blended with a gritty, old-school mix of influences. The band comprise lead vocalist and guitarist Tomi Malinen, guitarist Toni Huhtiniemi, bassist Juha Lähde and drummer E-S Kuikka and are yet another example of the hot bed of metal that is Finland.  

Detonation was released on the 10/09/21 and is available via BandCamp

https://mutantblastband.bandcamp.com

Daily Insanity – Chronicles of War 

Hutch checks out the new album from German Thrashers Daily Insanity, here’s what he thinks…

Germanic thrashers Daily Insanity follow up 2018’s EP Conspiracy with a debut album which is at times straightforward no-nonsense thrash metal in the traditional Teutonic style but which also veers completely away from the template. It’s an album that keeps you on your toes for the entire 42 minutes. 

Plenty of thick, chunky riffing make the start of the album promising enough. For a three-piece these guys slug out a big sound and the Berlin trio don’t steer far away from their thrash roots on the title track, which is unashamedly part Destruction, part Sodom. The killer riff and pummelling rhythm section continue to fire with passion on It Doesn’t Matter, bassist and vocalist Hans giving a guttural roar or two that fit neatly with the stoic thrash riffs the band drop.  

The first signs of variation appear on Stolen Valor, the use of synths to add atmosphere and depth works well but comes a little out of left field after the explosive opening. There isn’t a lot of pratting around though, as Stolen Valor quickly erupts in a raging thrash inferno, quickly followed by even more aggression on the balls out rager Warchild.  

Marching Drummer utilises the double kick drive of Silvo ‘Gustl’ Baier, who cements the slower, pounding feel of the song with a solid effort, before the Celtic Frost style intro of I Am The Mission provides a doom ridden opening, adding a change in mood and feel which after a classic Kreator passage slows again.  There’s a gentle instrumental, A Lonely Soldier to follow, providing opportunity to catch the breath before the final three tracks burst into flames. The dark Sleepless reverts to a feisty thrasher which leads to the heads down thrash of penultimate track Doomsday, one of the weaker songs on the record with a rather basic delivery and composition. The finale is The Reckoning, a curved ball of a track which allows the temperature to cool. It’s a song that stands out in comparison to the other songs on Chronicles of War, mainly because the vocals are a real struggle. Whilst Hans can do the growling roar, his clean vocals are not strong, and it really is a weak track to conclude a solid if unremarkable release.  

There are flashes of powerful, muscular thrash here but there’s also plenty of rather routine and uninspiring metal which really doesn’t get the listener too excited. That’s not to say it isn’t worth a listen, but I can’t see me coming back to it in the same way I often do to other bands. 

Chronicles Of War was released on the 10/9/21 and is available via BandCamp

https://dailyinsanity.bandcamp.com/album/chronicles-of-war

 

Anthrax – 2022 Tour Announcement

Still celebrating their 40-year tenure as one of music’s premier thrash metal bands, Anthrax announces their first European/UK tour since the summer of 2019. Kicking off on September 27th 2022 in Birmingham, UK, the band will play 28 dates in 16 countries, wrapping up in Zurich, Switzerland on November 5th. Crossover thrash band Municipal Waste will support on all dates.  

“It sure has been a long time since we rock’n’rolled in the UK and Europe,” said Anthrax’s Charlie Benante“but we’re coming back soon to bring the noise to all of you guys. Being that we can’t get over there until 2022, we’re going to make sure that every show will be an eventful one. We won’t just be playing four decades of songs to celebrate our ongoing 40th anniversary – hey, we’ll be giving YOU some history! – but we just might have some brand new ones for you as well. Can’t wait to see all your happy, smiling faces!!!”

On this tour, fans can expect Anthrax – Joey Belladonna/vocals, Scott Ian/rhythm guitar, Frank Bello/bass, Charlie Benante/drums, and Jon Donais/guitar – to draw from all four decades – fan favourites and deep cuts –  for their nightly setlist.

“There’s just something special about Europe,” said Belladonna. “Our fans there have always had a full-fledged excitement about our shows, and I enjoy performing more than anyone can imagine, so we’re really looking forward to this tour.”

Tickets will go on sale this Friday 20th August at 10am BST here: https://myticket.co.uk/artists/anthrax

ANTHRAX – UK/European Tour 2022
w/ Special Guests Municipal Waste

27.09.22  UK  Birmingham @ O2 Academy
29.09.22  UK  Manchester @ Academy
30.09.22  UK  Glasgow @ O2 Academy
01.10.22  UK  Newcastle @ O2 City Hall
03.10.22  UK  Leeds @ O2 Academy
04.10.22  UK  Nottingham @ Rock City
06.10.22  UK  Bristol @ O2 Academy
08.10.22  UK  London @ O2 Academy Brixton

10.10.22  BE  Brussels @ Ancienne Belgique
11.10.22  NL  Tilburg @ 013
13.10.22  FR  Paris @ Bataclan
14.10.22  DE  Oberhausen @ Turbinenhalle
15.10.22  DE  Leipzig @ Werk 2
17.10.22  DK  Copenhagen @ Vega Main Hall
18.10.22  SE  Gothenburg @ Tradgarn
19.20.22  SE  Stockholm @ Annexet
21.10.22  FI  Oulu @ Tullisali
22.10.22  FI  Turku @ Logomo
23.10.22  EE  Talinn @ Kultuurikatel
25.10.22  PL  Warsaw, @ Stodola
26.10.22  DE  Frankfurt @ Batschapp
27.10.22  DE  Stuttgart @ LKA Longhorn
29.10.22  CZ  Brno @ Sono
31.10.22  HU  Budapest @ Babra Negra
01.11.22  HR  Zagreb @ Culture Factory
02.11.22  AT  Vienna @ Arena
04.11.22  IT  Milan @ Alcatraz
05.11.22  CH  Zurich @ Komplex   

Korrosive – Kaustic Hordes

Canadian Thrash, often the bridesmaid to its North American neighbour, but time after time our Maple syrup smoking’ cousins produce some killer new music that just makes us want to get upside down in a pit.. and the debut album from Toronto thrashers ‘Korrosive’ is one such release….

Now most people know I like my modern thrash towards the blackened death end of the spectrum, and ‘Kaustic Hordes’ delivers that deathly tone in spades, melting of the faces of passers by with breathtaking ease!

Opener ‘Slaughter The Preacher’ teases you for a few bars of acoustic chords, until the heavy, rains down as the first track on the album starts to punch you in the face with riff after riff of punishment and then the guys continue with riff after riff, drum beat after drum beat of thrash excellence.

Through ‘Burning Earth 2029’ into the chaos inducing ‘Terminal Violence’ through ‘Khaotic Evil’ and ‘Vitrolism’ the climbing guitars and guttural vocal raw keep the mini moshers in my head gritting their teeth and banging their heads and the pit is unleashed as ‘Hijo de Puta’ sends even this silly old fucker over the edge into a full on old school moshpit frenzy at least for the 3 and a half minutes that it lasts I die… whichever happens first!

‘Acidized’ completes the first 7 short sharp shocks of metal, and at 38 minutes for 8 tracks, there is no room for fucking about, with the final song ‘Septic Messiah’ being the only track to push over the 4 and a half minute barrier, with a 9 minute monster, that still delivers the blisteringly heavy and mosh pit inducing breakdowns

I usually like to spend a bit longer with an album before smashing out a review, but I have enjoyed this on repeat for most of the day and didn’t want to miss out on sharing what is a killer debut release…

Released on Friday the 13th August… BUY NOW on BANDCAMP or stream it in all the normal places, but don’t let this pass you by, as these guys deserve to be heard!

ukthrashers – Orange Goblin

In this weeks episode we catch up with Ben from Orange Goblin & Route One Booking and talk about being a man mountain, the re-issue of Healing Through Fire, the new line up, gigs in ‘The Yard’ touring post Brexit and loads more

We have music from – Elimination – Victims By Design

Invator – Deathtrap For An Execution

Orange Goblin – Vagrant Stomp

Maze Of Terror – Priest Of The Ancient Ones

Trapped In Purgatory – Spit It Out

Killing – Don’t Get Mad..Get Evil

Checkout the episode below or subscribe in Spotify or Apple Podcasts