Soldier

Soldier Interview

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I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Ian and Richard from Soldier, a few days ago and spoke to them about the band’s history, and their releases Defiant and Chronicles:

  1. What inspired the band’s name? What are your influences and have they remained the same throughout your career?

ID: Well my Dad used to read a lot of World War 2 novels and they were always lined up on his bookshelf so I got the idea from them.

Prior to that he was always reading westerns so we could have been called Rawhide!

As for influences, a lot of 70’s bands, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Montrose, Pat Travers Band etc. These bands influenced a lot of the early Soldier material in one way or another.

More recently it’s people like Alter Bridge, Joe Satriani.

RF: The first rock band I really got into was Deep Purple and all the associated off shoot bands, Rainbow, Gillan, Whitesnake. But my music collection goes from Motorhead to Yes to Night Ranger and pretty much everywhere in between. If it’s got melody and is played well I’ll listen to it!

  1. With so much experience under your belt, as a band and individually, how does that influence the way you approach writing and recording songs, as well as playing those songs live?

ID: When the band recorded back in the late 70’s/early 80’s you had to go into a studio where a man in a white coat would twiddle all the knobs and you’d have two or three chances to get a take and that was it. Apart from some guitar overdubs and some backing vocals it was pretty much a “live” take. And it would cost you quite a lot money.

I’ve always been interested in the recording side of things and so as technology improved I started putting my own home studio together and since the first album, Sins Of The Warrior, the band has done more and more of the recording “at home” as it keeps the costs down and takes the time pressures away.

On Defiant, apart from the drums, which were recorded in a live room, everything was done at home. The great thing is you can produce some really big sounds but the down side can be that it makes it hard to reproduce it live. Having said that, a band with a history as long as Soldier’s means that putting a set list together always means having to decide what you can’t play as a lot of the gigs tend to be multi-band/festival gigs were you only get 40 minutes anyway.

RF: The writing process for Dogs Of War and Defiant were very similar in that Ian would write all the music and on a few tracks the lyrics as well. He’ll send that to me and I’ll work out lyrics and melodies for each track and then we build up the final track from there. Ian is quite a prolific writer once he gets going so there’s always plenty of stuff to be working on.

  1. Could you talk through the process of writing and recording for Defiant? Which songs stand out from that record, and why?

ID: I had all the music demo’ed and a few lyrics as well. I sent those to Richard for him to work on. Once we had all the vocals sorted we rehearsed the songs for a few weeks before we went in to record the drums.

This was done “live” with Tim in one room and the rest of us in the control room playing through each song. That took a couple of sessions to finish.

Then all the guitars, bass and vocals were done in mine and Richard’s home studios.

Once we had the tracks finished and mixed we sent them to Abbey Road Studio in London to get them mastered, and it was worth every penny. Whilst the final mix I did sounded great the mastering really brought them to life.

There is quite broad range of songs on Defiant from 3 minute rockers to long epics, but I think the stand out track for me is Conquistador. It’s a long and complexed track with a great story to it.

RF: I did all the vocals at home, which is good in one way, but it does mean you end up getting very picky and re-doing stuff over and over again, which I am very guilty of! I always want to do better than the last recording. There’s always something new to learn about how to sing a line and how to record the vocal.

I think my favourite tracks are Bullet Belt Blues and Don’t Come Crying To Me. Ones is a straight forward rocker and the other is probably one of the heaviest songs the band has ever done. They are a good example of the different feels that Ian writes in, but it all sounds like Soldier.

 

  1. What inspired the decision to release the Chronicles collection?

ID: In the early days of the band we recorded a lot demo’s in the hope of getting to record a proper album. Unfortunately that never happened until many years later, but Steve Barlow (bass player) and I had copies of pretty much everything we ever did.

Once we re-formed the band I really wanted to focus on new material but there are a lot of Soldier and NWOBHM fans out there who also wanted to hear the stuff from the original period. So after we had done the Dogs Of War album Steve and I sat down and went through everything we had. Demo’s, rehearsal recording, gig recordings.

We whittled it down to the stuff that we thought was of an acceptable audio quality and/or was of historical value/importance from the history of the band.

We ended up with tracks from pretty much every Soldier line-up from the original 1979-1982 period, plus some rehearsal recordings we did with Richard a few years before he actually joined the band and four demo re-recordings of some Live Forces era songs.

There are extensive liner notes by John Tucker along with loads of pictures. All in all it’s a great package that really shows how the band changed and developed over the years.

The most interesting part of it for a lot of people are the two tracks that the band demo’ed with Phil Lewis (Torme/LA Guns) on vocals.

It was also during this process that we found the recordings of the gig at The Heathery in Wishaw, Scotland which we also released.

RF: This was a great project for me as I got to hear loads of stuff that I had never heard before and I think it really shows how different the band were to a lot of the other NWOBHM bands at the time.

It was also interesting because prior to joining Soldier I had been in a band with the original drummer (Steve Garner) and it was great to hear his playing from all those years ago.

 

  1. What plans do you have for the future?

ID: We are currently working on some new songs which will probably form an E.P. towards the end of this year/early next year.

Gigging wise we have had some time-out this year due to work and family commitments. But Miles Goodman (guitar) and Tim Churchman (drums) have been out and about with other bands, Miles with Burnt Out Wreck and Tim with Red Hawk Rising.

We’ll have to see what next year brings but even if we don’t get out to gig we will continue to write and record new music.

 

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Soldier

Soldier-Defiant Review

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Formed during the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Soldier are a band that should have hit the big time, with their big vocal lines, crunching guitar riffs and downright epic songs. But for whatever reason fortune did not shine on them then. However, things have changed, and they are back with a bang. Their new album is aptly titled Defiant and is filled with songs of energy, and enthusiasm that turn back the years.

Opening up with the historical Conquistador, album gets off to a solid note. Big guitar riffs and moving drum rhythms provide an ample inclination of what is to come. Anthemic choruses and middle sections provide an apt history lesson for the Spanish conquest of what is now Latin America. Leaving, the next song on the record contains driving rhythms and riffs, and presents a moving story lyrically that really allows vocalist Richard Frost to shine. Kill Or Cure is next, an absolute rocker with big power chordal arrangements making this a song that is sure to get heads moving. Concrete Wilderness is next, starting with a clean intro, it moves into big riffs, and a warning of things to come, best espoused by Richard Frost’s serious vocal lines.

Fight or Fall continues the rocking feel of the album, with a fast-harmonised guitar intro, before moving into a slow moving section and then changing into the quickening once more. All the while the question being asked is who will help? Dead Man’s Curve is a fast bluesy rocker that has live action written all over it.  Bullet Belt Blues starts with a phaser intro, before moving into slow driving riff and anthemic lyrics that really give off the feeling of metal community.

Six Hundred kicks things off with a solid driving intro, before moving into anthemic style riffs and verses and chorus, a song that is sure to get people going during a live show. A Light To See The Darkness begins with a clean introduction with marching drum rolls, it moves into a heavy assault on the senses, with soaring vocal lines and shredding guitar work. The final track on the record is Don’t Come Crying To Me (Defiant) with big riffs, anthemic choruses, the song is a ripper, and one that is sure to generate hype when performed live.

With Defiant, Soldier have hit on a solid mix of bluesy tunes and hard rock and metal sensibilities. It is an album that will make fans of the band smile, and new listeners move their head with joy. A solid ten.

Amberian Dawn

Amberian Dawn Interview

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I had the pleasure of interviewing TUOMAS SEPPÄLÄ, the founding member and keyboard player of Amberian Dawn. We talked about the history of the band and the new record:

  1. What inspired the name of the band? What are your influences and are they the same as when you started out?

“With the name, we always get asked about it. There’s not so much to say about it really we thought about a lot of different names before we decided on Amberian Dawn. It doesn’t really mean anything.”

“As for my influences, I started playing the piano when I was four, and played classical music, then got into disco bands like Abba, then when I was about thirteen or fourteen I started listening to heavy metal. Bands like Dio, Iron Maiden and Yngwie Malmsteem.”

  1. Has how you approach recording changed since you started?

“It’s changed a lot, in the beginning we were playing power metal, then we moved to symphonic metal, and I suppose now we’re playing pop metal. So there’s different approaches to each of those genres. Every album is different, at least slightly as I’m not quite comfortable with everything being the same.”

  1. Could you talk us through the process of writing and recording for your new album?

“Quite similar process throughout the albums. I make demos in my home studio on pro tools, creating the keyboard and guitar parts, and vocal melodies using guitar or keyboard. I then send the arrangement to Capri our singer, and she works out her lyrics, then we meet for pre-production which allows us to fix any kinks. Then we start recording properly. Keyboards, guitars and bass and drums are recorded then vocals are done last. Increasingly vocals are becoming the most prominent part of our songs so it’s important we get them right. Of the songs on the new record, I’d say Maybe and Sky’s Falling are my favourite songs.”

  1. Do you prefer playing live or in the studio?

‘I’m finding that as we go on, I quite like and prefer working in the studio. It’s a really magical place for me, sometimes it can take a year to finish the record from the time we start writing demos, so having that time is nice. Though I do love playing live, and the bigger the audience the more fun there is.”

  1. What plans do you have for the future?

“Our new album is released in November, and after that we hope to tour. Most likely in Europe in the new year, and to promote the

 

Act Of Defiance

Act of Defiance Interview

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On Tuesday, I was lucky enough to sit down with Henry, the singer from Act of Defiance to talk about the band, the new record, and music in general. You can read the interview below:

 

  1. What inspired the name of the band, what are your influences?

“When we started out, we found out a major issue, which is that a lot of the names that you can think of are usually taken, and when we did finally settle on Act of Defiance I initially thought it was a homage to Exodus. But as it is, the name’s meaning can be open to interpretation.”

“As for my influences, well I’m all over the place there. My dad got my into classic rock as a kid, so Steppenwolf, Credence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd that sort of thing. Then I discovered Headbangers Ball and I discovered metal. And this was in the days before the internet, so I became a serious tape trader, trading with people in Mexico, South America, Western Europe. I discovered black metal, death metal, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, that way.”

  1. How did you approach recording Old Scars, New Wounds and does that approach differ to Birth and the Burial?

 “When we recorded Birth and The Burial, we did it in three months, we wrote the songs, got together, played through them, learned them and then recorded them. With Old Scars, we had a lot more time. We were able to do pre-production, which is essentially learning the songs, jamming together, getting comfortable with the songs, editing them if needed. We all contributed to the record, which was different to Birth and The Burial.”

  1. With the experience you all have, how do you approach live performances and studio performances?

“I think there are two types of players, and they can be quite similar, there are those who are good either in the studio but aren’t good live, or vice versa, and there are those who are good in both. I think because we’ve been playing as musicians for a long time individually, we know what we’re doing and so we know what to do and what not to do. Which is good.”

  1. Favourite song and why?

“From the first record it would be the title track, Birth and Burial. That song’s really melodic but heavy it also has a great vibe to it. Watching the crowd when we play it live is really interesting as people seem to be getting into it a lot. From the new record, it would have to be either The Talisman or Overexposure.”

  1. Future plans?

 

“We’ll be touring in the new year, and if I have my way we’ll be touring for at least a year and a half hitting the road and playing everywhere we can.”

“I’d also just like to ask that people continue buying music, showing support to their favourite artists, as that’s the only way bands and musicians can make a living.”

 

Masters Of Disguise

Masters Of Disguise- Alpha/Omega, review.

Masters of Disguise - Alpha / Omega

Masters of Disguise hail from the land of thrash and speed, the land of Kreator, they are one of the finest exports to come from Germany in recent years. Their previous two releases generated noise on the underground scene, and have gathered them a serious following. Their third album is Alpha/Omega, and with a metal as anything cover to draw you in for first appearances, it promises to be a stellar album.

The Rise and Fall of Kingdoms is the opening track. A thumping drum and electric guitar slow and heavy burner, it is an intro track that sets up the album nicely, making the listener  sit up and pay attention. Sacrifice with its jagged riffs and sharp rhythms and soaring vocals is a strong opener, and one sure to garner mosh pits. Demons From The Past has staccato riffs, thrashing metal madness riffs, a shredding solo and anthemic vocals, all in all it is a solid track. Shadows of Death follows, a clean and haunting intro with clean guitar and vocal melodies before moving into heavy anthemic and epic rhythms and lyrics.

Killer’s Redemption is a galloping, hard hitting slab of metal that makes Metallica’s earlier albums look tame in comparison, a song that is sure to garner huge shouts of approval when played live. Sing of the Cross seems to be a galloping screaming thrash gem of epic proportions about the Crusades and their impact on religious development. Alpha/Omega, the title track brings growling shifting riffs and vocal melodies to the core with an anthemic chorus and verse. Witchhammer has a slow and harmonised introduction before moving to the fast and breakneck riffage that this album is known for.

I Am The Law is next, changing through tempos and moods as the song progresses it a declaration of truth and justice, and of all things that seem to be going wrong and right within the world. The Leech has biblical undertones, and the heaviness of the song suggests that this is deliberate. Blackwitch the bonus track on the album begins with an acoustic motif with a electric volume swell accompanying before moving into heaviness. A fitting closer.

Alpha/Omega is a definite Speed Metal classic, it has the hallmarks of a great album and would be amazing to view live. A serious ten out of ten.

Ten

Ten-Gothica Review

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Ten started off in 1995, and their delivery of melodic hard rock with intriguing lyrical themes has won them fans across the globe. Their latest album Gothica is their thirteenth, and the first thing one notices about it, is the startling album cover, which invokes imagery seen in a medieval painting or the scene for a mystery movie. Fantastic to look at as the songs play.

The Grail is the opening song on the record, and with its Latin intro, crusader themed lyrics and anthemic verse and choruses alongside heavy riffage it is a brilliant opening track and one that truly makes the listener pay attention. Followed up by the swaggering riffage of Jekyll and Hyde, with its big choruses and ominous themes, two big songs to get the record going. Travellers begins with the tolling of a bell, and a synth background melody, and with soaring vocals, it ensures that the song carries weight and thoughtfulness.

A Man for All Seasons has a harpsichord intro backed by synth lines, before moving into moving drums and solid guitar work. Lyrically, the song appears to be about the reformation within England, and the dissolution of the monasteries and the chaos that brought to England. A stellar historical track. In My Dreams is a pulsating song that makes the head move and the foot tap. Wild King of Winter, inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin, brings minor keys, moving off riffage and solid vocal lines to the core. A brilliant song.  Paragon is a epic, slow and moving piano based track that makes the hair stand up on the back of the neck.

Welcome To The Freak Show appropriately starts with the sound of a fair, before moving into a swaggering, taunting, balls to the walls song with all its propensity and dialect, which makes it a definitive track. La Luna Dracula has a galloping rhythm, a shredding solo and a brilliant chorus that will definitely be a favourite of live audiences. Into Darkness is the final track, slow, heavy and thoughtful it is the perfect closer to a ripper of an album.

Gothica is a classic album, one that contains elements of history, fun and general rock that will make anyone enjoy it. It brings hooks and melodies and heavy riffs, a real classic rock album. A solid ten out of ten.

Sorcerer

Sorcer Interview

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I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Kristian Niemann, the guitarist in Sorcerer.  Sorcerer have a new record coming out later this year, and we had the chance to speak about that and the history of the band:

 

  1. What inspired the name of the band and what are your influences?

Since I wasn’t in the band back then I sent this question off to our bassplayer Johnny Hagel. He says: We choose the name out of maybe ten or so names. We thought it fitted the music and at that time was the best name we could come up with.

Our influences comes from hard rock and metal bands like: Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Iron Maiden, King Diamond, the whole N.W.O.B.H.M scene and many more.

  2. How do you approach song writing, and has that process changed over the years?

For this album, and probably the process we’ll follow in the future as well, Peter, Johnny and myself (Kristian) each writes the music (riffs, grooves, parts etc) on our own and then sends mp3 mixes over to Anders and his vocal producer Conny who then starts to add melodies and lyrics.  Sometimes they chop the song up and something that used to be a chorus maybe becomes a bridge or verse instead. Then they mail a demo of the “new” song out to everybody with scratch vocals and some random lyrics for everybody to listen to and comment on Usually the guy who wrote the song will then either accept is as is or maybe he wants to add some new parts to it. And thats how it goes, back and forth until everybody feels we have arrived at something good. Everybody can suggest ideas or changes at this point. Finally then, after a few more rounds of this when the arrangement is done Anders can start to fine-tune the vocal melodies and write real lyrics. At this point we would consider the song 95% done but small things always changes when we go into the studio to record the actual album. Usually you don’t REALLY know what the songs actually became until you have the final mix in your hands, because Anders WILL come up with some new ideas while recording his vocals and me or Peter WILL change the solos or add some new melodies. Bottom line is we all trust eathother to do whats best for the song. There are no egos allowed when writing. If one person hates a song idea then we throw it away completely or rework it. We dont want to end up with a record that some people in the band are gonna hate.

  1. What are you most looking forward to about the release of the new album?

I’m really excited to hear everybody’s opinion of it. As always when you release an album you have absolutely no idea what people are gonna think. You just write the greatest songs you’re capable of writing at that point in time and then just hope for the best. Luckily it seems like a lot of people has already responded very favorably to it which is a huge relief. The last one (In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross) got mostly good reviews and people seemed to like the vintage-y sound we sorta had on it. It didn’t sound like a modern metal album, whereas this one sorta does. Big fat guitars and smaller, clickier drums. That was a concious decision, we wanted to do something different. The main thing is getting the vocals across. If Anders sounds great then we’re at least, as Jon Bon Jovi would say, halfway there.

I’m also of course very excited to see if we can gain some new fans and do some more live shows. That’s what I really would like with this album, to take the band one step further career-wise. I don’t expect us to suddenly get huge or anything but it’d be nice if we could do a slow build. Maybe by album no. 5 we can travel overseas haha!

  1. What are your favourite songs to play live?

The new ones! That’s always gonna be the case, you’re always excited to play the new stuff. We haven’t played the songs from Crowning… live yet but if I have to guess: Sirens will be fun, Incubus….hell, every new song will be fun! From the last album my favorites are Lake Of The Lost Souls and Gates Of Hell.

  1. What plans do you have for the future?

 

Future plans: Release more albums. Hopefully on Metal Blade if they still want us 🙂 Do a whole lot more live playing. Write the best songs of our career. Have a shit-ton of fun together with people we love.

I’d personally love to go play Japan, South- and North America. I was there with Therion but now it’s high time to go back I think. Fingers crossed.

Purple Hill Witch

Purple Hill Witch-Celestial Cemetary Review

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Purple Hill Witch are a band that hails from that land of Vikings, black metal and Viking metal, they bring to the table a slab of inspired doom and stoner metal inspired by the greats. Their debut album released a few years ago brought them to the attention of the metal going masses, and now they are back with their second album Celestial Cemetery.

The album starts with Ghouls In Leather. It starts with a organ intro, before moving into a slow moving riff, that draws it seems from the well of NWOBHM legends Witchfinder General, the vocals bring in the sense of haunting and minor feels that make it a stand out track for a opener. The pace continues with Harbinger of Death. Feedback starts the song before moving into a definite Free Country vibe with swaggering rhythms and anthemic vocal lines that are sure to get the crowd going. The title track Celestial Cemetary is a slow, demonic song that brings to mind the epicness of Sabbath, Witchfinder General and others, it is a real belter of a song and one sure to send chills down the spine of any listener.

Around the Universe starts with a sliding riff, before moving into ear splitting riffage of the kind that would make Tony Iommi proud. A huge vocal line and big choruses make this a song that is sure to draw a lot of praise when played live. Menticide is next, starting with feedback before moving into solid pushing rhythms and a big pulsating riff, a song that has huge headbanger potential written all over it, and a rollicking solo. First Encounter is a slow moving, chromatic trilling song that details what appears to be either an encounter with the Devil himself or Aliens, either way it is epic! Burnt Offering brings bluesy riffs, and quick thrash style riffs and epic vocal lines to the table and is a fitting closer.

With Celestial Cemetary, I believe Purple Hill Witch have hit a resonate note. I absolutely love this album, it brings the best of doom, blues and stoner metal together, and mixes it together in a excellent blend of riffage and epic vocal tales.  If you like metal, you need to buy this album, it is a brilliant album and will get you hooked!

AXEMASTER

AXEMASTER-Crawling Chaos. Review.

Two years after releasing their previous album Overture to Madness, metal titans AXEMASTER are back with their new release Crawling Chaos. The first thing one notices about the album is the distinctive cover, which features what looks like Cthulhu destroying a city as people flee, very appropriate.

The album begins with 10,000 Pound Hammer, a slow drudge filled song that is ground shakingly heavy and evokes memories of early Sabbath. A fitting opener. The title track Crawling Chaos follows, with a unique fade intro and bass opening, before moving into drilling guitars that follow a pointed rhythm , the vocals of Geoff McGraw are ferocious on this track, up there with the masters. Axes of Evil begins with a haunting shred in a minor key, before moving into a quick paced rhythm that makes the head move and images of all kinds of crazy stuff flit through the mind, the tolling of the bell in the song adds to the imagery. Flowers For The Dead, starts with a bass intro, creating an eerie and sinister feel, before moving into a solid thunder of riffs and snarling vocals, that provide the base of thought provoking lyrical content. Mystify The Dream Hypnotic is an instrumental track that adds a nice break between the heaviness of the album, chilling track, it makes the listener think and really admire the artwork.

Aldar Rof is the next song on the record, coming after the chilling Mystify, it brings an apocalyptic theme to things, with a Maiden style galloping riff that really makes the song a bone chilling song and a potential hit with the crowds around the world. Shallow Grave starts slowly, acoustic and distorted lead, providing inclination toward thoughtfulness, heaviness kicks in with the riffs before the speed picks up toward the ending, soaring vocals from McGraw make this a real favourite. Death Before Dishonour contains what appears to be a military theme, holding true to oneself seems to be the theme of the song and ensuring that it remains present throughout one’s life. Bravado is a thudding charger of a song that demands the listener stand for what is right and just. Knight of Pain is the final track in the album, heaviness abounds, a real headbanger that will get crowds moving when performed live.

Crawling Chaos is an interesting album, it requires one to pay attention for there are themes explored here that could well come up again. It is an album that is different in texture and composition to other albums released this year. I give it a solid 9/10.

Act Of Defiance

Act Of Defiance- Old Scars, New Wounds. Review

In 2015, Act of Defiance released an absolute barnstorming album in Birth And The Burial, it drew serious praise from many in the metal community, and now they are back with their second album Old Scars, New Wounds.

The album starts with MIA, this song is an arpeggiated solid, clean cut of growling, thrashing metal, that kicks the listener in the gut and makes them stand to attention. Molten Core continues the assault with a fast riff base ceremony on the anger of the world. Overexposure calms things down a little in tempo, being a slightly slower, moving groove and headbanging song. The acoustic intro of The Talisman belies the sheer doom that is to come. With big heavy riffs that build nicely into Henry Derek’s soaring vocals.  Lullaby of Vengeance is pure heaviness, a song that has groove, texture and pure badassery.

Circle of Ashes starts off with a chrome riff, movement and abrasive, making it an immediate live stand out, which considering the calibre of material that has preceded it, is saying something! Reborn follows, a moving, haunting slab of metal, with an absolute roaring solo, another song that should feature heavily in the future. Conspiracy of the Gods is perhaps my favourite track on the record, the octave intro really brings one into the feel of things, the imagery pained by the lyrics brings the slave to religion question to the forefront which is something that is quite relevant today. Another Killing Spree starts with a breaking staccato and drag riff, before moving into the punishing routine that will have moshpits starting when played live. Broken Dialect starts with arpeggios, before moving into a double blast, and a haunting chorus that sends shivers down the listener’s arms. Rise of Rebellion, the closing track on the record, starts with a haunting minor acoustic intro, before moving into an eastern themed riff with roaring lyrics and guitar parts, a fitting closer.

Old Scars, New Wounds is a brilliant dose of metal, it brings something fresh to the genre, and these songs are some of the best work that has been produced this year by anyone. These songs deserve a fair airing live, and the crowd will be sure to love them and sing along. A solid effort. 10/10