Dead Void Dreams - June 2011, Vol I
There's nothing much to say right now, everything is here on your screen. Check out the reviews we've prepared for you, check out the bands that may be up your alley and leave a comment or two. I've been hellishly busy as of lately, so all the reviews were written by Asen Asenov and these are his first, and hopefully far from last, contributions to the zine. I promise I'll join him on Vol II of the June update with a collection of ill-natured, badly scribed and outstandingly informative reviews. Eventually.
During the course of the recent months My Space went down the drain, I'll try and provide other alternatives when giving links to the featured bands, when possible. Hell, you all can google the damn name yourselves in the end,right? As you can see, there are You Tube videos embedded in the zine now, which might be a good way of sampling bands and tunes.
For those who have been supportive to Dead Void Dreams – sincere thanks! You know who you are, no need of particular lists.
(Pure Steel Records)
Emerald are cult (to some people accounts, at least) heavy/power metal band from Switzerland. This is their first album after recruiting a new singer, Thomas Winkler (T-Rage), and guitarist Manuel Werro (Shroudshifter, Fatherfuckers), with the both of them turning up with pretty good work here. Emerald's music displays a wide range of influences, some of which seem to be Iron Maiden, Helloween, Edguy and Hammerfall, as well as the US power experimentalists Cage. In fact, one of the guest appearances on this album is by Cage's Sean Peck, other guests include Mike Sifringer (Destruction), Mike Steel (Steelclad) and Oromi and Damir Eskic (Gonoreas). The songs vary from slow ones to rather fast numbers, complete with the requisite heroic and fantasy lyrics. Some of my favourites were 'Pipes Are Calling', 'Тhe Last Legion', 'Secret Agenda', 'The Wanderer', the epic sounding 'Mutiny' and the angry 'Where's Your God'. The album is, definitely, one of the most accomplished works of the band, and despite the numerous hardships they're still weaving high the flag of true heavy metal with pride! [8,5]
I'm delighted by the new release of these Finnish black metal masters. Its nine songs, with total length of nearly an hour, transport us to the vast frozen fields of the north. Their epic black metal style from the past albums is still intact here, the songs are yet again very melody and harmony-laden, which is considered by some as a betrayal to the cause of black metal. There's a good deal of surprises too, the untypical female choirs a la Therion in 'With A Thorn In Our Hearts', or the dark ambiance of 'Our Ascent Of The Tower' and the song 'For Thirteen Moon', which I'd refer to as being an epic ballad. The bands closes off with a rapid fast composition, a great ending of an album done in the best traditions of the epic, melodic black metal. Don't miss out! [9,5]
(Just got an email from Woodcut that on 8 June they're releasing this and band's previous album, 'Wreath Of Thevatat' on 180 gram vinyl, check their site for additional info.)
The fourth album of Bloodbound certainly differs from the the one preceding it, 'Tabula Rasa'. And I mean that positively,as the band has used the more straightforward approach to the songwriting here, known from the times of their debut. The songs are well varied between mid and fast tempo, delivering metallic anthems akin to Hammerfall, Gamma Ray and Edguy. Melody is the key element of the compositions and the guitar solos are in abundance. Another trademark of the band is the good use of catchy choruses, not unlike Hammerfall again, who on their turn had borrowed that from the gods Accept. This album is also the debut for the new singer, Patrick Johansson (Dawn of Silence), and apparently the band has hit the bull's eye with his addition. 'Moria' starts off the album on a high note, with its surprisingly dark atmosphere, but my pick of a favourite track,however, is the fast and crushing "Reflections Of Evil" - a true power metal anthem in the veins of Gamma Ray and Edguy. Other remarkable cuts are "Together We Fight", the awesome ballad "Brothers Of War" and "The Dark Side Of Life". There's a certain Stratovarius vibe in the latter mentioned tune, which translates as quick playing and high level melody. The rest of the album is equally as impressive too. Bloodbound are here again, stronger than ever! [8,5]
'Eye on the Sky'
(Pure Legend Records)
Hailing from Finland, Stargazery can be described as 'super group' of sorts - its members are known for their respective participation in bands such as MSG, Masterstroke, Snakegod,Burning Point, among others. 'Eye On The Sky' is the band's debut CD - tightly played melodic metal with strong, dominant, keyboards parts. The main influences in the music seem to be found in the classic hard rock and melodic metal originators, namely Rainbow and Dio, as well as Whitesnake and even Europe to some extent. The title song, which is easily one of the better ones on the disc, also sports a Stratovarius influence. Other recommended tracks are "Jester Of Kings", "Puppet On A String" and "S.O.S.". The album also contains a cover version of 'Headless Cross', from the Toni Martin era of The Sabs. Stargazery will easily appeal to the melodic metal fans with this classy album. 
'Feel The Steal'
The second album of the Lithuanians and once again they deliver unto us epic and traditional sounding power/heavy metal, spiced up with some hard rock, which adds some good variety for the listener. Production quality is top notch and hardly differs from the 'western' standards. Musically, this is influenced both from the classics of Judas Priest and Ingwie J. Malmsteen, all the way to more recent acts such as Angel Dust (the singing manner) and Nocturnal Rites. The highlights of the disc are definitely the tunes 'Born In Hell' and 'Black Star'. There's also a certain Candlemass-inspired epic touch to the closing song, which doesn't mean blind copying or cheap rip-off of the Swedes. Song number six is still a mystery to me - it's untitled and most likely a cover version sung by someone else instead of the band's vocalist. 
'Night Assassins' is the debut for these Hungarians and apparently before forming Morbid Carnage the members made some history for themselves playing black metal, but we're dealing with a different animal now. Never boring for a second, the stuff this band plays is typical for the bands of this new thrash metal wave of late. Fast and cutting riffs, a lot of tempo changes and memorable choruses. All of this in the veins of bands such as Destruction and Slayer. And so it goes from the opening blast of 'Warlust' to the very end of the album. The band is suitable for fans of both the old school as well as the younger thrash legions. Music that goes well when chugging down the beers, with no lame parts or 'virtuoso' guitar moments in sight. Fast, faster and yeah - faster, like the true thrash requires. 
This is the debut album for the Norwegian newcomers. Their style can be described as symphonic gothic pop metal, with added power metal and hard rock elements. Band's singer, Eline, delivers her vocals rather convincingly and with great deal of variation throughout the album, supported at times by the In Flames-alike backing vocals from the rest of the band. The predominantly mid-tempo music goes on smoothly, allegedly a searched effect by the band, since this makes for some pleasant background listening. The problem is that once the disc is over one doesn't seem to remember much of it. Some of the more choice cuts, however, are 'State Of Emergency', 'Before I'm Gone', 'Monkey Business' and 'Wisteria Lane Concept', which is the heaviest of the bunch with its hefty opening power metal riffs, before shifting gears to a calmer mode, and Eline's varying her vocals from angry screaming all the way to some angelic singing. A promising album that fans of bands such as Angel and early Sirenia probably will appreciate, despite the hard task to pigeonhole Fastlane Flower within the boundaries of a strict music style. [7,5]
'Man With The Chains'
'Man With The Chains'
(High Roller Records)
A teaser EP from the Swedes, to fill the gap between their 2009 release 'Exodus To Hell' and the forthcoming new album. Their style is strongly influenced by the NWOBHM and the likes of Iron Maiden and Brocas Helm, showcasing undying enthusiasm, bordering on fanatic worship to their idols at times. All three songs – 'Crusaders Must Ride', 'Man With The Chains' and 'Lighting Rod Avenger' are immensely melodic, coupled with high level vocal delivery and somewhat 'hollow' production work that sounds like lifted straight off the glory days in the late '80's. This music is not my main forte, yet it's hard to deny this band's ability. Quite a good appetizer to the full-length here. [7,5]
Lets adopt some Star Wars analogies here, and consider Accept's 'Blood Of The Nations' to be 'Return Of The Jedys'. 'Leatherhead' is then,sadly, definitely not 'The Empire Strikes Back'. Boredom, lack of ideas and dreadful repetition are the words that best describe the EP. This combines two new songs along with two older ones, previously available as bonuses to some special editions of the band. The new tracks continue in the style of the band's previous album,'Dominator', so fans should know the drill – modern sounding production and raspy guitars. This, however, doesn't equal to memorable songs. Can't really imagine how the title track could pretend for a 'hit song' from the forthcoming album, being such a boring tune, filled with cliché ridden riffs that we all have heard hundreds of times before. The follower 'Rock n Roll Soldiers', on other hand, is simply laughing matter. If Udo really believes that the fans could be fooled that easily, well, I don't know what to make of him. Accept are back, with a masterpiece to their credit, and the U.D.O. stuff simply pales in comparison. And comparisons are near impossible to be ignored. During the years of Accept's inactivity the fans were partial to U.D.O., not in small part due to fact that the band was at least performing live the old Accept classics. Sufficient enough for its time, but now is now and probably the fans are expecting the band to deliver crushing albums, as good as those they have written before 1997. 'Run' is the only track on this EP that requires attention, but that's nothing new to those who already have the bonus DVD of 'Thunderball' from 2004. [3,5]
As stated previously in the above review, there's no ground for much comparisons between recent days U.D.O. and Accept. Slowly, but steadily, over the years U.D.O. had changed their style from the classic style of old, and music's quality decreased. 'Rev-Raptor' is hardly surprising album, consisting of mainly mid-tempo songs, some fast-paced numbers and the requisite ballad. The production is similar to the one found on 'Dominator', that's to say this holds a certain modern guitar and drums sound. The album kicks off with the title song, which is an non-impressive attempt for a metal anthem. 'Leatherhead', as said already bores the shit out of me, and is followed by a pair of great songs, in the form of the rapid fast 'Renegade' and the gorgeous ballad 'I Give As Good As I Get'. I'm still entitled that there's no dull ballad to this band's credit, regardless of the albums themselves. Too bad we are treated to two boring cliché laden ones after that... 'Terrorvision', however, is a rather good track, with lyrics criticizing the effects of the television, a theme that's been introduced on 'Mastercutor' in the past. There's some other tracks worthy of note here – the fast paced 'Motor-Borg' and the finishing 'Days Of Hope And Glory', that reminds me a bit of 'Bound To Fail' from Accept's 'Metal Heart'. However, the album as whole could be described by only one term – mediocre. I had my hopes for this to be good, but Udo and Stefan continue to disappoint, a trend their band subscribed to since 1998 . 
If you're even remotely familiar with the Swedish black/death scene, then Algaion should be a well known name. This, their latest album has been long in the making, due to the member's commitments to various of other projects. Musically, there's no surprises here, as this is the expected hard punch in the face delivered by the band. Rawer that Unanimated and faster than Rotting Christ, with good number of rather memorable melodies woven into the lot of the songs. Just what the fans of the style enjoy. Plus, there's a cover of the old, and cult, 'Sign Of Evil Existence', paying tribute to the aforementioned Greek blasphemers.