Album Reviews  2

Electric Wizard - Come My Fanatics... Dreamsfear - Prelude To Destiny
Blowholy - Church Bizarre Serenade - The Chaos They Create
Power Symphony - Evillot Solarized - Neanderthal Speedway
Terveet Kądet - The Ultimate Pain Darkmoon - Seas Of Unrest

Rise Above

Electric Wizard
Come My Fanatics... /
Electric Wizard
(double album)

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'Black Sabbath, St Vitus, Jimi Hendrix and any heavy fucked up sounds' are all thanked in the Come My Fanatics sleeve notes. This’ll be 'stoner rock' then. Signed to Rise Above records, home of the quite excellent Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard have trawled out quite an underground name from themselves. Hence when Rise Above decided to re-release their first two albums in a double CD set I made it my mission to get my grubby hands on it.

Firstly it should be noted that although they are placed in the same stoner category, Orange Goblin and Electric Wizard have little in common. Orange Goblin tip their cap towards Black Sabbath and Lynrd Skynrd in an altogether more song based style. In comparison Electric Wizard use the sounds of Sabbath, lets face it who doesn’t, and mix it up with more dirge like Sleep heaviness to produce more of a crawling vibe than a collection of songs.

The bands second album, Come my Fanatics…, and first disc of the set introduces itself with an extremely bass heavy chord and then proceeds to rumble through first track, Return Trip. Singer and guitarist Jus Oborn sounds like a poor Ozzy, but with this sort of music the vocals tend to be the least important aspect. With lyrics such as 'Once again into the void' and 'We left the war pigs far behind', the Wizard certainly display their influences on their sleeves. Fanatics… runs through six songs, all played at snails pace, except for the bizarre effects-fest of IvixorB/Phase Inducer, and all so bass heavy that to call the new wave Korn led metal as downtuned is quite frankly ludicrous. Plus second track, Wizard in Black, begins with an ultra cool sample.

The second CD contains Electric Wizard's self titled debut and is not in the same league as Come My Fanatics. The production robs it a little of its impact and the songs don’t instil the same vibe. Nevertheless the song Electric Wizard is a touch of class and perhaps the best song the band have done so far. However tracks like Behemoth and Devil's Bride suffer a little from Oborns vocals and drag a little when they should be swaying.

Now that Thrash, Death, Grunge, Black, Downtuned(Ha Ha) et al are in a state of decline a new champion has to be found. Unless you’re ignorant the upcoming stoner scene is making a strong case to being the next underground favourite. Don’t let the Americans have all the riches, Electric Wizard and their label mates are the cream of British talent, and are cooler than anything else happening in the UK rock scene. Lets face it if you like Sabbath then you’ll dig this, and how can anyone not like Sabbath?

Come My Fanatics… 
Electric Wizard        

^ Back to top Graeme

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Ill-Omen Records

Prelude To Destiny

Address: Dreamsfear, PO Box 6508, Phibsboro, Dublin 7, Ireland

Cost £6 / $10 / 15DM. Email for payment info

My first impressions of this CD were really good. Up until the vocals come in on opener Ruins, both the music and sound are very impressive. You notice I said up until the vocals - unfortunately they aren't totally to my taste, though they are powerful and confidently put across. To describe this four-track CD I'd probably say it's miserable power thrash - it mixes elements of doom, power metal and good old fashioned 80s thrash. The production reminds me slightly of Metallica's ...And Justice For All, but maybe that's just me.

As you would expect from both doom and power metal, the songs are quite long, verging on epics, at between 6 and 8 minutes each. This isn't a bad thing though, as they seem to have managed to write long songs which don't drag too much. Bleak Horizons is a slow ballad with a good vocal melody and does conjure up a definite melancholy mood, with even (I think) violins coming in at the end. To add to this, it is well produced though a tad boomy at points.

Dreamsfear are better than many bands who take on this type of music, and I do think the guys have genuine talent which could go far if they get a few breaks. They should hook up with fellow Irish metallers Waylander for a UK tour or something. (get in touch if you want their address!)

VERDICT: An impressive base for future building.

^ Back to top Kevin

Ketamine Leper Music

Church Bizarre

Ketamine Leper Music, 44 Low Street, South Milford, LS25 5AS

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You may remember last issue Iceman reviewed Blowholy's demo, and he made it pretty obvious he thought they were a great band. Well before that review even went to press I had in my paws this full length 11-track album from them. Style-wise it's much the same, and infact if I remember rightly, I think all the songs from the demo are in this CD. Oh, and I forgot to mention the best bit: it only costs £2 !! That's right stingy bastards, not even you have an excuse not to buy it! (and if you are still complaining, it's all available free on their website)

The description Iceman gave was pretty much accurate, so read it here. If it sounds interesting to you then you will probably like it. Yes admitedly it's not the best produced thing in the world, but who cares? My favourite tracks are psalm 666, iconoplastic and easy target, they're nicely memorable.

As an added bonus, there's an excellent is somewhat odd rendition of Iron Maiden's Remember Tomorrow tacked on to the end of scene & herd.

Verdict: Cheaper than a fish supper - and it lasts longer!

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serenade.jpg (5003 bytes) Serenade
The Chaos They Create

Order direct from the band

When done well, gothic doom metal can be amazing - it can conjure up a foreboding atmosphere that engulfs the listener. This album starts off very promising, with effective gothic keyboards - unfortunately, the rest of the album falls a lot short of the mark.

One of the most noticeable bad things about this album is the guitar sound - throughout the album they sound muddy, lacking the impact needed to match their heaviness. At times on this nine track album some great riffs and shine through, but they seem to be lost among a sea of more forgettable riffs and over-long guitar solos. Because of this, the songs come across as dull and long-winded rather than dark, powerful and atmospheric. Saying that, this is not a bad album, only a somewhat uninteresting one - after a few listens, the lack of variety in the songs began to bore me.

The vocal style throughout the album alternates between clean, miserable vocals and almost deathly growls. Although a competent growler, his clean voice, in parts, lacks some of the power and polish necessary for this type of music.

The Chaos They Create is a fair, but uninspiringly dull doom metal album - good for background music, but not worth spending lots of money on.

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Northwind Records

Power Symphony


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Power Symphony is described as a 'Power Metal' band and the album does indeed remind me of the only other band I've heard described as such, Powers Court. I didn't like their (well her, since Powers Court essentially consists of one member and a friend who plays the bass) eponymous album, and I don't particularly like this one either.

Much of what I said about Powers Court applies to this album too. It's definitely old-fashioned cheesy operatic and ridiculously dramatic 80s-style metal without the talent that made certain bands of that era popular. It's so bad it's hilarious. As in Powers Court, the vocalist is female. She's probably more attractive to the average male than Danie Powers (sorry Danie, she's just younger and girlier-looking). In these days of image-driven band promotion this may be a real help to them, and they need all the help they can get. They sound like a slightly wonky version of Helloween with a female vocalist. (As a Helloween fan, I'd like to distance myself from that comment! - Ed)

The album cover is a fantasy-style scene involving a mostly-naked young woman (bearing a certain resemblance to aforementioned vocalist) wearing some armour, a big cape and holding a big shiny sword being eaten (in one way or another, it's hard to tell) by a big horned monster on an overcast moonlit night. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. This pretty much reflects the style of the music.

The most striking element in this album is the female vocals sung in the same style as many a cheesy 80s band. I always thought a woman's voice would work as well as a guy's for this style, and she pulls it off pretty well most of the time. It does, however, get on one's wick after a whole album's worth of high-powered high-pitched wailing and screaming, as do all the lyrics about warriors fighting and stuff. The other thing that bothers me is the clumsiness of the changes in tempo and general lack of imagination in song structure, considering that this is a the album of a signed band.

To be fair, this is not my kind of music; even Iron Maiden get on my nerves at times. It's reasonably competently played, but it exhibits practically every metal cliché in the book and lacks originality. It would probably go down a storm in Germany. I'm just getting bored of European bands who haven't listened to anything but Helloween and Iron Maiden in the last fifteen years.

Verdict: Cheesy, cheesy, cheesy. But not good enough to be fun.

^ Back to top Wolfbitch

solarized.jpg (7812 bytes) Mans Ruin

Neanderthal Speedway

I basically picked this album up on a whim, and on the assumption that almost all the Mans Ruin stuff is quality, I was nonetheless pleasantly surprised by what I got for my money. Solarized can be slotted into the growing stoner scene, but as I have already alluded in this issue, this term itself is not easily defined. Unlike the bass trawl of Electric Wizard, or the pure Sabbath worshipping of say Cathedral, we have the distinct sound of Solarized. Opening track, Nebula Mask, is the albums most instant, reminiscent of Lenny Kravitz’s Are You Going to Go My Way, except with vocalist Jim Hogan sounding more akin to Pepper Keenan. Indeed the album is far more Hendrix than Iomi.

Lyrical content follows Jim’s obsession with Jack Kirby, famed comic creator and all things white trash with Fire Breather, dedicated to Mr Lucifa, a professional wrestler!

The album cracks along at some pace, only dropping down slightly for the softer Shifter, however unlike many bands in this genre each track does stand out on its own, eventually burying themselves into your consciousness. Indeed I’d say this album is more based on song than vibe, again giving it a touch of originality and class. The band also invite some fellow New Jersey inhabitants, Tim Cronin and Ed Mundell (who are known better for their day jobs in Monster Magnet), to add a few bits and pieces to the sound.

Solarized are another convincing addition to the growing stoner scene, emphasising its breadth of sound and well of talent. Go on, take a chance.

Rating: **********

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Terveet Kądet
The Ultimate Pain

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Ok, this was passed on to me by Iceman, who reviewed it last issue. Firstly I’m going to clear a few things up. Terveet Kądet are not Death Metal although some of their sound does contain elements of all that is gory, particularly Carcass. What we’ve basically got is an album consisting of a mixture of Discharge, both old and unfortunately new, and Entombed-esque rock and roll. Deep Wounds kicks off the album in a To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth style rant, quickly followed by the Sabbath-esque guitar style of The Heat.

Indeed, if Terveet Kądet, where to seriously concentrate on the vocal department, and stop ripping the MC5 off so obviously, then we might be looking at a pretty good album. Although poorly produced, the songs show an element of freshness which sets them apart from the majority of the underground. Lose some of the cheese, i.e Stones of Strength and Death Factory, and indeed this album could be taken seriously. Promising is the watchword, but for a band who have been together as long as this maybe a little more could be expected. Another addition to the mediocre pile methinks.

Rating: **********

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darkmoon.jpg (6006 bytes) Music For Nations

Seas Of Unrest

Darkmoon show us just how cheezy an intro can be - a battle scene complete with screams and sword clashes. Battle Metal seems to be the name adopted for this style of music, which in reality (in this case at least) is badly produced black metal. In fact when the opening track comes in properly it sounds like this is actually a live album - it's far too trebly and generally unclear and confused rather than concise and powerful. The production is generally a wee bit dodgy, though at times it's OK.

Now onto the titles: From The Moons Mist We Arise, Writhing Glory, Vengeance For Withered Hearts and Kings Enthroned Upon Ashes give a good idea of the style of band that's written these songs. They are not very imaginative.

Perhaps the best way to explain how this album sounds is to quote to you from their biography:

" Darkmoon is a force that dwells in all blackened hearts, churning forth hate & rage. Spawning chaos and fury, but still brooding with their melodic exctasy that their dark souls will always desire. Their desire is to seek revenge on the enemies that have plundered so long in this world, the senseless killings of their people, the raping of their land and of their women. The band's belief that Christ has been a cancer of our society and nature, coupled with his vile ways shall be banished and his light dimmed for eternity. Then and only then, will our minds, bodies and spirits be free from oppression and our ancestory avenged!!! "

I bet these guys are from Chipping Norton!

" Darkmoon's debut album, Seas Of Unrest, will take you on a journey charging through the ranks of enemies, severing rivers of blood, enthroning of kings and the vengeance of ancestors scorned. Seas Of Unrest wields the essence of a violent sea, bashing all inferior elements that stand before it, striking relentlessly at those who fear the curse that has been bestowed upon them, grinding their existence between the stones of rage. Darkmoon takes no prisoners through the flight of power, and not letting go until the last hypnotic note has been cast! Behold the blades of mighty, embrace the rage! "

After that, what else can I say?!?

Verdict: It does exactly what it says on the tin, almost.

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