Sunday, April 13, 2014

Omery Rising – Lady Snow

Omery Rising hails from California and plays relatively standard traditional heavy metal. “Lady Snow” is their second release, and is a two-track single featuring Joseph Michael (ex-White Wizzard) doing guest vocals for both songs. Though I’m unfamiliar with the band’s other release, the choice of songs for a single is a bit surprising. Both tracks open with slow clean guitars, and generally don’t provide that fast burst of energy you’d expect in a single. Nevertheless, the title track picks up quite a bit, and proves to be very catchy after repeated listens. Though this song has some great riffs, it is the interplay of the vocals and the riffs that make “Lady Snow” particularly memorable. Whether the vocals melodies or the riffs on this song were written first, it is clear that both elements were written to complement the other in a way that most bands don’t pull off.   

Joseph’s vocal performance on this release is not quite as impressive as it was on “The Devil’s Cut”, but the fact remains that he’s an incredibly talented singer, and still has a pretty unbelievable range. Production wise, this album mirrors a lot of other current heavy metal albums. The bass is up front and noticeable most of the time, but the guitars always take precedence. No instrument manages to drown out another, which is always a positive. The ending to “Lady Snow” has a relatively uneventful guitar solo in it, but I would love to hear the guitarist go to town and shred non-stop. His solo on “Road To Sleepy Hollow” is better and more fitting of the song, but still doesn’t have any shredding in it. This may be a consequence of the mid-paced tempo used on the album, because traditional heavy metal bands typically overload us with solos. 

Overall, Omery Rising shows a lot of potential with this single. Both songs are pretty good, though the title track is definitely stronger. I think they hurt themselves a bit with the song choice given the format of the release, but these songs would definitely strengthen a full-length album. Even if Joseph Michael isn’t on the band’s next release, I will definitely check it out as “Lady Snow” shows the band is able to write pretty solid material.

Be sure to check out and like Omery Rising on Facebook!

Highlight
"Lady Snow"

Final Rating
3.8/5 or 76%. 

Written by Scott Dorfman 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Monument – Renegades

Monument is a relatively new traditional heavy metal band hailing from the UK. This band features a couple of ex-members of White Wizzard (though what band doesn’t at this point?), as well as a few other well-experienced musicians. With their debut album “Renegades”, Monument has provided nearly 48 consecutive minutes of non-stop harmonies. It’s almost astounding how much this band harmonizes their guitar lines, and it is one of two major highlights on the album. The other great element of “Renegades” is vocalist Peter Ellis. While extremely talented, it is his distinctive sound that drives this album. It’s not entirely clean relative to a more traditional singer, but he is obviously very understandable.

Another aspect of “Renegades” that is extremely compelling is how distinctive the songs are, despite all being of the same form. The opening title track kicks off with a thrashy riff that is the most aggressive moment of the record. Other tracks such as “Runaway” and “Save Me” are more laid back, and have these huge Thin Lizzy-esque moments in them. The closer, “Omega” is an epic journey that does an impressive job of summing up the record while still adding something new to the album. In fact, “Omega” shows full-on “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” worship as there is an interlude that is completely driven by the bass guitar with some spoken words over top. The two best tracks, however, are “Midnight Queen” and “Carry On”. The former gets by on its infectious chorus, while the latter is driven by a harmony so good that it feels like the band stole it from an unrecorded Iron Maiden song circa ’83. This part is especially potent because one guitar comes in first, and then the other one joins, with the drums kicking things up through the use of double bass later on. 

The production on “Renegades” is pretty good; the bass drums are huge, and Monument’s drummer actually uses an impressive amount of double bass on some of the more laid-back tracks (“Crusaders” has a great example). Because there are so many guitar harmonies, this allows the bass guitar to step up to fill the void, and the mix does an excellent job of leaving space for some Steve Harris worship. One slight area of criticism is that some of the melodies on “Renegades” feel all too familiar. The verse riff of “Runaway” is one that comes to mind, though I can’t quite figure out who it sounds like. The obvious example to me, however, was the verse riff of “Rock The Night”, which some of the same guitar flares that were used by Enforcer on one of the songs from “Diamonds”. Nonetheless, it doesn’t feel like Monument were out to copy anyone; this is more just the result of everybody wanting to be Iron Maiden (and who can fault them?). There’s absolutely no reason to skip on this record if you’re a fan of heavy metal! Monument’sRenegades” will definitely be looked back on as an absolute classic!

Be sure to check out and like Monument on Facebook!

Highlights
"Renegades"
"Midnight Queen"
"Carry On"
"Omega"

Final Rating
4.5/5 or 90%. 

Written by Scott Dorfman 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Primal Fear – Delivering The Black

Hot off the success of “Unbreakable”, Primal Fear has returned just a couple of years later with “Delivering The Black”. The band’s formula of Judas Priest/Accept worship mixed with power metal is incredibly potent. The image of a giant eagle adorning each album cover couldn’t be more appropriate, as Primal Fear consistently present music so fierce and epic that each track feels as though you’re riding an eagle into battle, particularly when Ralf Scheepers unleashes some of his higher notes.

Delivering The Black” picks up exactly where the last record left off. It has plenty of energetic, upbeat riff-laden tracks, such as the opening duo of “King For A Day” and “Rebel Faction”. This latter track shows the band at their thrashiest, and they put up riffs that would compete with many new school thrashers. Seriously, this track is a kick in the face that is a bit unexpected, but somehow entirely appropriate for the record. These speedy riffs are accented by the fantastic production, which is incredibly thick and powerful. The main riff of “When Death Comes Knocking” best displays this guitar crunch. And speaking of this great track, what will keep you coming back to this album is the band’s unbelievable ability to write a mid-paced lengthy epic. Both “When Death Comes Knocking” and “One Night In December” fill this role on this offering, and they both showcase Scheepers’ incredible vocal talents. His skill has never been in question, but it’s amazing how well he delivers album after album of quality performance. Further, the lone ballad, “Born With A Broken Heart” shows that has more than that balls out Painkiller-esque screaming in him. Of course, that’s a huge part of what makes Primal Fear great, but hearing the control he shows in his voice on this ballad adds some nice variety on a lengthy record.

Beyond the brilliance of Scheepers, “Delivering The Black” still has a lot else to offer. Guitarists Magnus Karlsson and Alex Beyrodt deliver some fantastic guitar solos. The aforementioned single, “When Death Comes Knocking”, has a section where these shredders unite into a harmony that would make Iron Maiden proud. By the end of the track, they unleash a magnificent guitar solo that really completes the song. The rhythm section of the legendary Mat Sinner and Randy Black don’t stand out in the sense that they’re overly technical, but they get the job done. The opening of “Alive and on Fire” shows them lock into a groove that drives the entire track. Amazingly, despite all of the praise I have heaped onto “Delivering The Black”, I haven’t even brought up one of the absolute highlights: “Road To Asylum”. No power metal fan needs more proof that a great chorus can make a song, but “Road To Asylum” is yet another track that will deliver just that. 

Delivering The Black” is exactly what every Primal Fear fan should want at this point. It’s a great representation of their sound and is a lot of fun. The only criticism I have (as always) is that the album is a couple of tracks too long. At this point in their career, however, Primal Fear has pretty well set their course, and it seems clear they have no intention of changing it. When a band is this dedicated to their craft and this good, complaining about an extra track or two seems silly. Instead, pick up the album, headbang along, and scream out every insanely catchy chorus on this masterpiece!

Be sure to check out and like Primal Fear on Facebook!

Highlights
"When Death Comes Knocking"
"Road To Asylum"
"One Night In December"
"Born With A Broken Heart"

Final Rating
4.6/5 or 92%. 

Written by Scott Dorfman 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lost Society – Terror Hungry

The last couple of years have definitely been a bit slower for new thrash bands in terms of gaining popularity, but Lost Society is one band that seems to be the major exception. Their debut record, “Fast Loud Death” got a lot of hype, and rightfully so as it thrashed like few others. Barely a year later, the band is back with “Terror Hungry”, and this album is almost an exact copy of the last record. The songs are a bit longer this time around, but the energetic thrashing never stops throughout the 50+ minute journey. The one major difference between these two records is that “Terror Hungry” doesn’t have as many instantly catchy songs on it, but that might just be the effect of putting out 27 songs a year apart that all sound relatively similar.

As usual, one of the best tracks is the single, “Lethal Pleasure”. This song sets the tone for the entire album: 200+ BPM thrash riffs without relenting. There are so many riffs on this record that only those riffs that don’t conform to the band’s normal sound stand out. Lost Society continues to inject a substantial blues influence in both their riffs and guitar solos, and even have a full-on blues spot at the end of “Brewtal Awakening”. Another highlight is “Tyrant Takeover”. There is one riff a little while into the song that is incredibly tight, and it does manage to stand out from the other hundreds of riffs despite sounding no different from the other riffs.. Amazingly, the band goes on to inject a groove riff into this song that would put Pantera to shame. Generally, putting any form of groove into thrash will usually ruin a song or album, but this riff is so flawlessly placed that it will cause more destruction to your neck than your ears. 

From a vocal perspective, nothing on this album has changed. Singer/guitarist Samy Elbanna spits out words at rapid fire pace almost exclusively, only slowing down to unleash a crazy scream or two. Gang vocals are still rampant and are always used to further amp up the energy of every song. Guitar solos seem more frequent than on the last album, often appearing multiple times per song. The solos tend to be pretty flashy and over-the-top, but they suit the music perfectly. Even the Twisted Sister cover comes out in a thrashy fashion as Lost Society abuses their guitar necks without shame. It’s hard to criticize the band for anything on “Terror Hungry”. At worst, the sound does run a little thin so soon after the last record, but when a band manages to feel this fresh and original with little actual innovation, it’s always a good sign.

Be sure to check out and like Lost Society on Facebook!

Highlights
"Game Over"
"Lethal Pleasure"
"Tyrant Takeover"

Final Rating
4.3/5 or 86%. 

Written by Scott Dorfman