Monster Magnet – Last Patrol

Monster Magnet’s latest release entitled “Last Patrol” is not just another stoner rock album. Maybe it’s the witty lyrics, the true passion for music or the “don’t give a damn about trendy stuff that sells” attitude that makes a real difference. Once again, Mr. Wyndorf & co. just go out there and jam like there’s no tomorrow, and you can always feel it.
As soon as you listen to the album opener “I Live Behind The Clouds” you start spacing out, irrationally perhaps, but you can’t help it. The melody is sweet and peaceful, a bit deceiving at first, the mood is sorrowful thanks to Wyndorf’s dirty lunatic vocals. Even when the drums kick in a certain feeling of impending perdition lingers on.
The titletrack shows that as much as every note feels spontaneously groovy, this is a bitter thoughtful song. It is fundamental to stress the perfection of the guitar sound rightfully dwelling in the dreamy realm of psychedelic rock (pay attention to some extra psychedelic magic lurking in the background). An impressive and super groovy guitar solo and a blissful rage in the vocals make this song a must have. Of course, the tempo changes, the emotionally trippy breakdown that melts into a wild jam (which seems to go on forever just like an auditory hallucination) and the top notch production must no be taken lightly.
Wyndorf takes the role of an ascetic storyteller on “Three Kingfishers”. You can hear classic Black Sabbath dark aura lingering on the acoustic melody. But, again, it’s the guitars building an unforgettable groove that violently pull you into a kaleidoscopic vortex.
“Mindless Ones” is an ensemble of fine stoner rock riffs and wasted rocker attitude. Besides the super-duper groove that induces dancing and screaming, the highlight here is Wyndorf’s performance all raspy and raw in classic Monster Magnet’s style. Savor every guitar solo because this type of lustful enthusiasm for music is becoming a rarity.
“The Duke (Of Supernature)” has a sexy rock ‘n roll attitude that makes you feel like smoking weed staring (and eventually spacing out once more) at the sunset. There’s also a bittersweet romantic mood in the round of acoustic arpeggios. And when dirty distortion kicks in all those guitars’ shreds keep on playing tricks on your mind.
Seriously, who could ever resist Mr. Dave Wyndorf’s power tripping charm? Do yourself a favor, set “Last Patrol” in loop, for good measure, and space out without regrets, you know that there’s nothing interesting going on out there anyways.

Paradise Lost – Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)

It’s time to get all emotional and nostalgic because another great band is celebrating the 25th anniversary. Not many bands can achieve so much and Paradise Lost being pioneers of gothic metal can certainly brag about such an awesome career. “Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)” is a compilation of previously released rare songs and a new one chosen to commemorate this important anniversary.
“Loneliness Remains” is definitely an iconic gothic metal track that recalls the early band’s realeses. Besides the doom attitude on the guitar riffs and solo, here you will find the heavily decadent sound of gothic and the obviously desperate gloomy atmosphere.
The cover of “Never Take Me Alive” by Spear Of Destiny has instead a different musical approach much closer to the modern sound of Paradise Lost. It’s an easy song that sounds like a semi ballad mainly with clean vocals and less gothic decadence.
“Last Regret” and “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us” caught my attention right away because they’re both orchestra mixes. So, you definitely get what you expect as these great classic melodies are totally turned upside down and reinterpreted by a real full orchestra with all the instrumental variety and elegant execution.
“Cardinal Zero” comes as a reality check, bringing back the heavy gloom of typical Paradise Lost guitar riffs and of course that agonizing sadness that we all love and need.
If you crave for more somber feelings you will appreciate “Godless” filled with the slow ominous atmosphere of something tragic, and possibly very dark, coming right at you.
Another odd cover is “Missing” by Everything But The Girl which sounds way too hopeful with potential sunshine or something like that, nevertheless it’s all about cute easy melodies and playful experimentation.
The unforgettable classic newly recorded, “Gothic 2013” effortlessly maintains the same true gothic attitude and rainy day sadness but obviously the sound is less raw and more polished compared to the original.
“Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)” is a sweet treat for the band’s strong fanbase but the newbies out there can certainly enjoy it as well.

The Vintage Caravan – Voyage

The first thing that inevitably comes to mind when you listen to The Vintage Caravan’s “Voyage” is that this album cannot be the work of three extremely young guys. It’s hard to believe, yet here we are tripping in awe with a bunch of songs that constantly show mature musicianship and bright ideas. In terms of genre, The Vintage Caravan relies on a psychedelic retro rock sound that delivers a romantic and exceptionally nostalgic taste for a long gone golden era of rock. But aren’t them too young to drown full speed inside the realm of nostalgia?
“Craving” is full of spontaneous energy with an addictive guitar riff. This opening track shows right away that The Vintage Caravan has perfectly developed a personal take on 70’s classic rock and an absolutely professional sound.
Listening to “Expand Your Mind” you fully comprehend that this trio can jam in style. The guitar solo here is absolutely stunning with groovy classical rock licks flying right through a psychedelic trip that will make you space out wherever you are. The rhythm here comes straight from the 70’s with a vengeance and the vocals reincarnate the true rocker’s delivery.
“M.A.R.S.W.A.T.T.” is another catchy tune that just brings you another blast of groovy guitar riffs and the bass line on the breakdown is just a wonderful treat.
“Cocaine Sally” could have been written and performed by a group of rockers pondering the meaning of life while recalling all those wasted years. The ensemble of bluesy rock riffs over a super fun rhythm is certainly a winning choice.
“Winterland” offers another side of the band’s musical pathway. This is an extremely melancholic song with an icy cold atmosphere attenuated by soothing smooth vocals and a sudden blast of amazing psychedelic distorted guitars.
If you fancy a true mind warping trip, then the final track “The Kings Voyage” is your cup of tea. Through what appears to be an endless array of style and tempo changes, this is a creative and challenging interpretation of the band’s musical inspiration.
In the end, besides the absolute realization that this Icelandic band’s name in more than appropriate as every stylistic detail on this album is purely vintage, we can’t deny that “Voyage” hits the spot if you’re hungry for whatever got lost while the hourglass was running out of sand.

The Vision Bleak – Witching Hour

The Vision Bleak is one of the most interesting and underestimated bands in the metal scene. This time the indomitable duo Allen B. Konstanz and Ulf Theodor Schwadorf decides to venture in the realm of witchery horror story and, inevitably, Grimm’s fairytales as theme for the long awaited full-length “Witching Hour”.
“A Witch Is Born” is indisputably the catchiest song on the album. An overload of doomish guitar riffs blasting through an ominous rhythm will have an immediate strong impact even on first time listeners.
“The Blocksberg Rite” kicks off with a lovely eerie flute melody that continues to bring a touch of folk throughout the mid-paced guitar riffs. The chorus sounds like an evil mantra that certainly fits the haunting mood.
“Cannibal Witch” feels like a dark anthem with a slower gothic rhythmic tapestry. The vocals follow smoothly the persistently sinister atmosphere and the addition of spooky organs towards the end just makes everything more entertaining.
“The Wood Hag” incarnates the fairytale mood perfectly. If you close your eyes and follow the harpsichord melody you might risk getting lost in the Black Forest where the witch is obviously hiding.
A song like “The Call Of The Banshee” is totally expected on a witchery themed album. The guitar riffs and drumming are pressing and tight but the overall rhythmic core seems a little repetitive. Still, the solemn mysterious vocal delivery and the luminous arpeggios bring noteworthy moments.
Despite the obvious trendy spellbinding theme and the palpable intricate mist of darkness that defines the instrumental style, “Witching Hour” provides a generous dose of entertaining grooves and memorable melodies. At the same time, the whole album seems to aim to please many and sometimes lacks the genuine gothic masquerade appeal of cult albums such as “Carpathia- A Dramatic Poem”. Certainly, there are many individual songs full of tempting and haunting musical inspirations on “Witching Hour” that cannot (and must not) go unnoticed.

Orphaned Land – All Is One

Orphaned Land is one of those bands that do not really require any formal introduction. Despite the long career, the Israeli band has not released many albums but each full length is well known to hold an incredible musical strength and intensely peaceful messages. These reasons alone would be enough to justify the great expectation behind the release of the latest album entitled “All Is One”.
The title track is quite easy to love with that elegant epic taste in the guitar work and the euphoric strength of symphonic metal. At the same time, you will always be attracted by the oriental folk elements that here are particularly joyous.
It cannot be denied that the Middle Eastern theme is exceptionally intense on “The Simple Man”. The music core here is certainly radio friendly with mid paced rhythm, pleasantly melodic guitars and powerful choirs.
“Let The Truce Be Known” easily follows the same musical pathway. The melodic side of the band becomes once again the preferred choice. The rhythm is further slowed down to reach a palpable melancholic mood gracefully rendered by the keyboards work without putting aside the strong oriental vibe.
“Through Fire And Water” is a more complex and definitely more interesting track. The intricate sitar intro is just breathtaking. The melodic guitars are fluently adorned by loads of sorrowful keyboards, but the authentic highlight is represented by the cathartic ensemble of emotions portrayed by the male and female vocals.
“Fail” has a remarkably darker mood where guitars steal the scene with delightful progressive rock melodies. While the song starts with a heavier approach and intense growls, there is still space for more accessible tunes and super clean guitar solos.
“Our Own Messiah” is powerfully dramatic both in terms of lyric content and music style. Yet, the lead guitars and the choirs deliver an uplifting vibe that makes you hope for a better future. Following the delicately slow breakdown, the passionate musicianship displayed on the guitar’s progression and solo cannot go unnoticed.
With “All Is One”, Orphaned Land has delivered a collection of meaningful songs that will hopefully reach a wider range of listeners worldwide.

Death SS – Resurrection

Listening to “Resurrection” by Death SS feels like a full immersion in the perilously dark realm of nostalgia. Even if nothing on this album will win prizes for innovation and creative energy, there will be a certain dose of childish guilty pleasure associated with each and every song. Even if the band has been around since the 70s, it was back in 1991 that Steve Sylvester & co. truly rocked the scene with the breakthrough release of “Heavy Demons” bringing evil corruption and horror everywhere around you.
It is noteworthy that Steve Sylvester’s voice is still in great shape after approximately thirty years of career.
“Revived” is a straight forward heavy rock guitar driven tune with the addition of modern electro elements that renders it quite dancy. The rhythm is undeniably groovy and Steve Sylvester is running the (freak) show with feverish vocals.
“The Crimson Shrine” is like the traditional blast from the past. Nothing is too heavy on top of the traditionally metal style keyboards. But as expected, Steve Sylvester’s vocal delivery is the reason why you will love this song. His voice is scratchy and somehow melancholic on this slow paced tune adorned by the most classic heavy guitar solo all licks and distortion.
“Dionysus” is all about classic rock guitar riffs but still quite gothic with a somewhat retro flavor especially on the female chorus. If you like the romantic/gothic vibe elegantly delivered by the keyboards work, you will definitely enjoy the similar sweet decadence that overwhelmingly diffuses through “Star In Sight”.
“Ogre’s Lullaby” is exactly a nightmarish lullaby with a tormented doomish guitar riff in loop made to bring the full of the creepiness of the monsters under your childhood bed.
“The Devil’s Graal” is a quite enjoyable slower track with a deeply melancholic acoustic intro and a classically fully shred guitar solo.
“Bad Luck” opens up with Steve Sylvester’s twisted laughter and traditionally distorted rock vibe. This is a not to be missed fun horror rock tune with full blast guitar riffs and crazy solo tapping.
Overall, “Resurrection” is a very consistent and strong album in terms of both style variety and musicianship. It is definitely a must have for the band’s eternally loyal fanbase.

Deathstars – The Perfect Cult

Once upon a time, Deathstars was a big deal, a band with a mesmerizing creative force that filled each and every song. Then, that explosive bright light started to dim for no apparent reason.
Deathstars gives it another shot after the sadly disappointing “Night Electric Night” in 2009. So, after some years spent focusing exclusively on writing process and music exploration, the band released “The Perfect Cult”. Hence, this is an album that truly comes loaded with anxious expectations.
Listening to “The Perfect Cult”, among some obvious mixed feelings there is this sort of weakness lingering between riffs and melodies. It’s not really a matter of being innovative at all costs in a music scene where the majority of releases focus on a recycle process, it’s more about the art of delivering a sentiment of passion through music.
“Explode” doesn’t live up to its title. Among flat guitar riffs, there is a catchy rhythm hiding in there but it just fails to create a mood. Whiplasher’s vocals truly attempt to bring a solid strike of energy to cheer the atmosphere.
“All The Devil’s Toys” is the one song that should force you to pump the volume and dance until you fall dizzy on the floor. Nice concept, groovy guitars, but it ends up losing its strength and charm long before the song is over.
“Ghost Reviver” holds the haunting shadow of “Termination Bliss” deep inside, therefore it could be classified as the happy encouraging moment of the album.
The title track has a very catchy chorus and the sinister toned vocals are quite entertaining, yet again it cannot be considered a memorable song.
“Bodies” gets a straight synthetic rock attitude that certainly feels refreshing with loads of darkly atmospheric keyboards that deliver a tragic sense of decadence. In general, the slower goth oriented rhythm seems to flow steady and spontaneously.
“Noise Cuts” is another valuable track if only because it successfully delivers the intoxicating hopelessness of the dark side that we got used to embrace in Deathstars’ previous albums. The synths tapestry, elegantly composed and executed, feels like the perfect complement for Whiplasher’s melancholic and mischievous delivery.
In the end, I really wanted to fall desperately in love with “The Perfect Cult” but it seems impossible at the moment, so maybe I’ll just wait for the next release and try again.

The Birthday Massacre – Superstition

By now everybody knows that The Birthday Massacre has successfully developed a uniquely sinister and cute visual/musical image. There is an awful lot to love about this band, just think about the cartoon like violet themed album covers and the mischievously bloody school uniforms. And, of course, there is the music. It all started with creepy videogame synthetic/alternative rock that inevitably instigated curiosity in the scene. In the last few years, The Birthday Massacre has proven to be musically all grown up and independent with its own unmistakable music style elegantly executed in every album. The latest release entitled “Superstition” does not fall far from the original musical direction and visual theme.
The first track “Divide” will make you feel comfortable right away. We’re still in the videogame world full of ominous shadows crawling in the dark, but everything feels happy and safe. The omnipresent keyboards layers create a sincere landscape for soft vocals and simple guitar riffs. The dark takes over only for a matter of seconds carrying a raspy voice and an eerie guitar mini solo.
“Diaries” feels sweet like a first date and flows graciously just like a dream. On the vocals Chibi sounds like a perfect dreamy storyteller. Guitars and keyboards never fail to softly entwine without ever overpowering any melody.
The title track holds a mysterious power with slower rhythm and guitar melodies. The major attraction here is embodied by the recurring dark synths theme.
“Rain” is the most romantic and soothing song on this album. The whole musical frame is extremely pleasant and the keyboards concoct a delicate melody full of good vibes.
“Destroyer” fully deserves the listeners’ attention if only because Chibi channels her infamous wicked growls. The rest of the song has a more guitar driven groovy core compared to the other tunes.
If that’s not enough, “The Other Side” is another track where guitars and keyboards work together harmoniously to create that exquisite sinister spine-chilling atmosphere. At the same time, all the elements are held together by an intensely catchy chorus.
“Superstition” might not always hold the creative escapades of some of its well known predecessors, nevertheless it is lovely collection of sweet & creepy songs that make you want to dance and sing along under the moonlight.

Graveyard – Innocence & Decadence

As the retro trend continues to spread intensely in the current metal scene, and visibly everywhere else, Swedish act Graveyard returns with a brand new release elegantly entitled “Innocence & Decadence”. If you’re ready to take a step back in time and enjoy the consequent sweet mindtrip you will be eager to listen to this album.
“Magnetic Shunk” is a wild psychedelic tune that relies on an uplifting savage tempo and high-register vocals in 70s rock decadent fashion. In the midst of accelerated guitar riffing crescendo, you can perceive a dark soulful reverie that recalls The Doors.
“The Apple And The Tree” is an effective concoction of mellow toned bluesy riffs that pay homage to Hendrix and vintage flirtatious rock groove. The perfectly lovable retro lead guitar work, full of sweet & dirty phrasing, builds an increasingly trippy sensation that must be savored slowly.
“Exit 97” is a languid serenade where every chord vibrates in a dusty field. With an exquisitely fuzzy blues delivery, rhythm and lead guitars create a heavily nostalgic vibe while Joakim Nilsson’s vocals add dramatic warmth in tormented rocker style.
“Too Much Is Not Enough” is a passionate song or a broken love spell that could have been recorded in the early 70s and should have been included in the soundtrack of Velvet Goldmine. The soul style female backing vocals and the absolutely unpolished guitar riffs create a mesmerizing sonic trance with a subtle catchiness that would easily get stuck in your mind.
“From A Hole In The Wall” is another song that calls for the legit abuse of the adjective “groovy”. Instrumentally, everything dwells between smoky blues guitars and heavier, even metal influenced, rhythm sections. Nilsson’s voice keeps the worn-out rocker style with elegant savoir faire while the rest of the band engages in a stoner rock genuine jamming session.
“Hard Headed” has the strongest psychedelic vortex where Graveyard goes on a careless hectic instrumental trip jamming all the way outside of traditional space and time rules. Here the guitar riffs are harder and eclectic keeping a super catchy energetic rhythm while Nilsson’s intense performance evokes the sexy languidness of Robert Plant and the wickedness of mastermind Dave Wyndorf.
“Innocence & Decadence” is definitely a pleasant collection of songs and positive vibes so get your bell bottom pants and floral shirt out of the basement and join Graveyard’s psychedelic journey.

Danzig – Skeletons

Those who were hoping to finally hear a brand new album will have to settle for a collection of covers carefully chosen and darkly reinterpreted by legendary Glenn Danzig. The songs included in “Skeletons” date to between 1962 and 1974 so this album is also a hymn to nostalgia and the forgotten luminous fragments of childhood. As a whole, the album leans towards a horror punk attitude that recalls Danzig’s performance in Misfits and the production is rather rough stripped of any fancy modern magic trick.
So, once all the skeletons are out of the closet, Danzig’s unique iconic voice takes the center stage as it always should. Biker flick theme “Devil’s Angels” and “With A Girl Like You” by The Troggs are straight no frills punk songs full of rough edges in a home recording fashion and of course Danzig resurrects all his signature Misfits style screams.
Gifted with a mysterious baritone range Danzig really needed to cover a song by Elvis Presley and “Let Yourself Go” turns out to be a great choice as it all sounds like a darkly catchy vintage rock song.
If you need something more metal Black Sabbath’s masterpiece “N.I.B.” will satisfy all your desires as Danzig’s darkest low vocals savagely and spontaneously embrace all those beloved doom riffs. “Rough Boy” by ZZ Top and “Crying In The Rain” by The Everly Brothers gain a late night creepy melancholic vibe.
In the end, the unsophisticated vintage nature of “Skeletons” will satisfy more the Misfits era fanbase and it all feels like a clandestine teenager’s karaoke boozy night in the basement, which is a lot of fun.