Updated: 11/05/01

  • Mandrake by Edguy
  • With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell by Hollenthon
  • Howls From The Hills by Dead Meadow
  • A World Where Only Nightmares Prevail by Crematorium
  • Lament The Season by Abolisher
  • by
  • Since we ran out of space in both the Heavy Metal and Alternative Sections, I have opened up this brand new web page for Highwire Daze Album Reviews. In this section, we will combine both genres of music, just like in the zine. So here are the latest album reviews from the pages of Highwire Daze...

    Album Reviews include Abigor, Abolisher, Alas, Amon Amarth, Anasarca, ...And Oceans, Arise From Thorns, Astroqueen, Averse Sefira, Avrigus, Ayreon, Beheaded, Bernard Edwards' Project Homicide, Black Steel, The Calicoes, Conqueror Worm, Craig's Brother, Crematorium, Crop, Cydonia, Dead Meadow,, Denison Marrs, Destiny's End, Destruction, Dies Irae, Dimmu Borgir, Drowningman, Edguy, Eisheilig, Electrance, Enter My Silence, Epoch Of Unlight, Evensong, Falconer, Finntroll, Freedom Call, Fuzzbubble, Gameface, Gotmoor, Hangnail, Havayoth, Hollenthon, In Flames, Kalmah, Killingfield, Lacrimas Profundere, LeFT, The Leftovers, Liege Lord, Lucyfire, Luddite Clone, Moshquito, My Dying Bride, Narnia, Nightwish, Noctem, Nocternity, Nokturnal Mortum, No Return, Orbit, Pistol Grip, Psychopunch, The Reign Of Terror, Residue, Resistant, Silencer, Spirit Caravan. Starflyer 59, Stavesacre, Steel Prophet, Stinking Lizaveta, Svartahrid, Thyrfing, Tristania, Velocity, Virgin Steele, Withered Earth, Wizard, Zao, and more!

    IN MEMORY by ABIGOR (Napalm Records)

    In Memory marks the 9th release for Abigor. This prolific Black Metal band from Austria has always recorded dynamic music and In Memory is no exception. While the next Abigor installment is in the works, In Memory will surely satisfy old fans and may convert a few newer ones as well. The five song EP opens with "Terrible Certainty," originally recorded by Kreator and remade here with a double dose of thrashing brutality. "Crionics," a Slayer tune, is even better - an imaginative interpretation showing off a side of Abigor that has never been heard before. The other three songs are alternate versions of classic Abigor tunes, the most impressive being the haunting "Shadowlord." So as we all await what this resourceful band comes out with next, check out In Memory by Abigor and then prepare for big release number 10!


    Satanzied is the 10th album for Abigor, and it's surely one of the most adventurous recordings they've ever done. While the Black Metal remains in full force, there's a science fiction appeal added that gives the recording a wondrous new edge. You could almost compare this to what The Kovenant attempted on Animatronic, only Abigor retain the blast beats and extreme Black Metal heaviness their fans have come to expect. The current Abigor line-up is Virus 666 P.K. on guitars, Thurisaz LiD on bass and vocals, and Moritz N. on drums. Also featured is Lucia from Grabesmond who does keyboard arrangements throughout the album. Highlight tracks include "The Legacy," "Satan's Galaxy," and "Battlestar Abigor." It's exciting to see a band like Abigor experimenting with their sound at this point in their career - the long time fans will not be disappointed and new converts will be made as well. Watch for release number 11 of the Abigor saga, tentatively entitled Warmachine 2002! And be sure to check this and all the other Abigor CD's out for the best in Austrian Black Metal!


    To label Abolisher as simply another metal entity would be doing these guys a severe injustice. Just as inventive as the mighty Opeth, Abolisher combine extreme music with serene melodic textures and come up with something truly inspiring. After a soothing overture, the three songs featured on Lament The Season show great promise and surprising depth - it's hard to believe this is their first serious effort and even harder to fathom that these guys remain unsigned. Possessing the DIY spirit and a good deal of creativity, it will be very exciting to see where this band goes next. Abolisher's influences may be vast and varied, but there is a cohesiveness that ties all the songs together, brining a unique sound that is distinct and compelling. The tracks may be quite long, but there's plenty to wrap your mind around, and a dull moment cannot be found. Even in the quietest moments, Abolisher's emotional music reigns supreme in this age of non-originators. Be sure to check this one out for yourself and give it a few spins for maximum impact. A fascinating, and ultimately rewarding musical experience. Info:!

    ABSOLUTE PURITY by ALAS (Hammerheart Records)

    Alas is a gothic metal band created by Erik Rutan, whose work with Hate Eternal and Morbid Angel is well known and respected the world over. Absolute Purity is their debut recording, and all fans of bands such as Theater Of Tragedy and The Gathering should really enjoy this. While there are many goth bands the world over, what makes Alas stand far apart is the dynamic guitar work of Erik Rutan, who brings the heaviness of his death metal background into the proceedings. Alas is quite a change for Rutan, and he is surely up to the challenge - he even wrote all of the orchestrations and performs keyboards on the album. Howard Davis does an admirable job on drums, bringing in the creative influences derived from his previous collaborations with Die Krupps and The Genitorturers. Bassist Scott Hornick was also in Rutan's first band Ripping Corpse, and does some fine bass guitar lines. The vocals are superb, performed with passion and inspiration by Martina Astner of Therion. Astner appears to be classically trained, and her stylish articulations are bewitching. The music of Alas is bitter and filled with anguish, yet heavy enough for the extreme metal types. Along with Novembers Doom and Rain Fell Within, Alas is destined to place America on the map with their awesome gothic metal compositions. Stunning, visionary work from a gifted collection of musical virtuosos. The cover features artwork by Niklas Sundin of Dark Tranquillity!

    THE CRUSHER by AMON AMARTH (Metal Blade Records)

    The Crusher is the third epic recorded by the mighty Amon Amarth of Sweden. Playing Viking Metal at it's grandest and most intensive, Amon Amarth explode way ahead of the pack with this latest musical chapter. "Bastards Of A Dying Breed" kicks it all off on a dynamic, unforgettable note and the head banging continues with the killer "Masters Of War." The assault doesn't let up until their mighty cover of the Possessed song "Eyes Of Horror" at the end, a bonus track for the US release, which is a real thrasher. Recorded at the Abyss by Peter Tagtgren of Hypocrisy, The Crusher sounds fantastic and will win Amon Amarth a good deal of respect in an already overcrowded genre. Vocalist Johan Hegg has a fiery intensity that works wonders with the brutal as f*ck lyrics. All musicianship is first rate, including the guitars being played in sonic overdrive and the ferocious rhythm section. One of the very best of the Swedish metal bands, Amon Amarth is ready to declare war on this genre and they will take no prisoners! Now if we can only get them here to pulverize the masses live here in the States! In the meantime, get your hands on The Crusher and start your own personal reign of terror and destruction.

    MORIBUND by ANASARCA (Mighty Music)

    Moribund by Germany's Anasarca is one of the most compelling death metal albums ever recorded. If the ferocious brutality of the music doesn't crush you, the disturbing lyrics will. All the words on Moribund are written by prisoners sentenced to die on death row - one of the writer's, Robert Ronald Atworth,, volunteered for execution and was put to death December of 1999. Without offering an actual position on the death penalty, Anasarca takes the listener on a journey through the minds of these very real people, and the results are devastating.

    Although Anasarca's debut on Relapse showed promise, the band exceeds all expectations with the mighty Moribund. Songs like "No More," "I Will Not Be Broken," "If Only," and "Of Life And Death" are unforgettable. When listening, follow the lyric sheet and prepare for anguish, sorrow, and ultimate enlightenment. Obviously the experience has left a lasting impression on the band, and death metal fans are likely to respond as well. Anasarca only ask that you think about the people and the emotions they go through because of the death penalty, and with the sounds and words spewed forth on Moribund, there is a good deal to contemplate.


    Allotropic/Metamorphic - Genesis Of Dimorphism (AM GOD for short) is the most adventurous Black Metal album to surface since The Kovenant's Animatronic. Mixing in futuristic keyboard work courtesy of band member Plasmaar, ...And Oceans have come up with a thrilling, dynamic work of art. "Intelligence Is Sexy" opens the album, and right away you can tell that there is so much more going on within the minds of these very talented musicians. Without sacrificing the aggressiveness and brutality the genre is known best for, ...And Oceans really give other extreme metal bands a lot to strive for. "Tears Have No Name" and "Odious & Devious" are album highlights, while the final track "New Model World" sounds like one has stepped into the techno rave club from hell. Recorded at the world famous Abyss Studios, AM GOD has a thunderous sound that will inspire all fans of dark metal. With the assistance of the cover artwork by Niklas Sundin of Dark Tranquillity, the blistering reverberations of AM GOD will take the listener on an unforgettable musical journey.


    Although recorded in the vocalist's garage, the music contained on Opening Of The Mouth by Anubis Rising is well worth checking out. The Los Angeles metal scene is growing into something pretty exciting, and bands like Anubis Rising are finding their own identity in a genre that has spawned many imitators yet few originators. Elements of Euro-death, black metal, and psychedelic stoner rock are found within the five songs showcased here. Melodic yet filled with an intense brutality, tracks like "Boiling Pot," "Bleeding Heart," and "Behold The Future" should impress many (hopefully even A&R reps who should really take note of these guys - like now). Even though the recording budget may have been slim to none, there is an excitement that prevails when listening to their self-produced CD - this is heavy, atmospheric music to lose yourself in. One of the most exciting extreme bands in LA, my only complaint is that they are slow to record new material (this was recorded last summer) and they rarely play locally anymore. But if you are beginning to get bored with copycat metal bands and want to find music that is challenging without being pretentious, then Anubis Rising is highly recommended. Space out to the nightmarish visions on Opening Of The Mouth by Anubis Rising! Info:


    There is something that is both compelling and familiar about the music of Arise From Thorns. Perhaps it's the classic rock feel mixed in with the progressive, melancholic sounds. Or maybe it's the stunning vocals of Michelle Loose, who wraps the music with her warm and earthy tones. Before An Audience Of Stars was originally released in 1999, but Dark Symphonies has rescued it from obscurity, added a few bonus tracks, and now this masterpiece is unleashed upon the world once more. Arise From Thorns mix several styles of music, and come up with a dreamy sound that is simply unforgettable. Ms. Loose recalls vocal greats such as Grace Slick and Carly Simon, but definitely stands out as an original and easily possesses one of the best voices in the progressive rock movement today. The symphonies bestowed upon the listener are moving and cathartic, thanks to a tremendously gifted group of musicians who can rock you into oblivion with an up-tempo track or lull you into a blissful state of mind. Before An Audience Of Stars is the kind of album that could break out from the pack and establish an audience well beyond the genre they obviously refuse to be pigeon-holed in. The band recently changed their name to Brave, but whatever moniker they chose to maintain, this Virginia based group will win fans across the board with their dynamic compositions. Another great release from the folks at Dark Symphonies!


    Dude, have you heard the latest by Astroqueen of Sweden? Their debut album is called Into Submission and it was produced by King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRoque. Filled with fuzzy guitars and a heavy low end, the music of Astroqueen is an astral ride through the distant stars. It's all headbanging, blissful fun with or without the hallucinogenic substances. The vocals are wide-eyed and over the top, and the groovy sounds make you wanna party hardy into oblivion! Astroqueen create an atmosphere of supersonic noise in the grand tradition of Black Sabbath and Kyuss, and totally win the listener over with tunes such as "Out Of This World," "Landslide," and "Serve The Sun." Discovered by Tony Jelencovich of Transport League, Astroqueen will leave a lasting impression on all who desire an intense rock and roll experience. One of the most exciting releases in the current crop of stoner rock. Prepare to bow down and worship at the altar of this fun lovin' Astroqueen!

    BATTLE'S CLARION by AVERSE SEFIRA (Lost Disciple Records)

    Based out of Rochester, New York via the state of Texas, Averse Sefira play some of the most ferocious Black Metal to be found here in the States. Battle's Clarion is their second release and it's bound to secure them a big following worldwide. These guys are just as venomous as their European counterparts and can really dish up the unholy imagery and sinister blast beats. Those into Immortal and Darkthrone will be thrilled to find such grinding evil as Averse Sefira residing here in the USA. A soundtrack for the end of time when evil reigns supreme, Battle's Clarion is an unforgettable barrage of Blackened Death that will terrorize the metal masses. Be sure to catch Averse Sefira at this year's Milwaukee Metalfest, cuz they are gonna raise the devil in the state known for it's cheese and beer! Heed their clarion call of death and brutality, that is if you dare…


    With their full length debut finally surfacing worldwide, Avrigus is the grimmest of gothic treasures. Based out of Australia, their previous EP showed a great deal of promise, and The Secret Kingdom is nothing short of a melancholic masterpiece. The lyrics are sad and dark, accompanied by a classically inspired soundtrack. The exquisite misery starts out with the simply titled "Overture," proceeding on to the dirge-like "Solitude & Salvation." Throughout the album, the passages go from somber and intricate to sweeping and majestic. Other tracks that shine within the darkness include "The Grail" and "Til Death Do Us Unite." Judy Chiara performs almost all the vocals, her lyrics filled with expressive thoughts of desire and doom. All instruments are played by Chiara and Simon Gruer. The words are outstanding and the music a landscape for emotional intrigue. Avrigus may appear soothing to the head, but what lies beneath is as threatening and unnerving as anything the most extreme of metal has to offer. The Secret Kingdom of Avrigus is nothing short of devastating, with repeating listenings required for maximum impact. Drift off and submit to this secret kingdom - you'll never want to leave its mysterious, wondrous world.


    It is sometime in the 22nd century. The last surviving colonist on Mars contemplates life and death while taking a journey in a recreational machine called The Dream Sequencer. Hoping to find enlightenment in his final days, the traveler goes back through time in this fascinating rock opera performed by Ayreon and a vast array of guest vocalists and musicians. The mastermind behind Ayreon is Arjen Lucassen, and part one of The Universal Migrator saga is dramatic and cerebral -- just think of Pink Floyd at their most devastating and you are only just beginning to understand the visionary work this composer creates.

    The Dream Sequencer is a success on all accounts, managing to convey wonderment and the feelings of isolation one would have while observing great moments in history. One highlight is Johan Edlund (Tiamat) and Floor Jansen (After Forever) performing the chilling "My House Of Mars." Lana Lane's haunting rendition of "2084" is highly memorable, as well as her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in the song "Dragon On The Sea." Edward Reekers (Kayak) brings back vivid memories of a lost Major Tom on "One Small Step," an epic track about the moon walk of 1969. The journey goes all the way back to the beginning of civilization, with the traveler amazed at finding an Earth that is unspoiled by the ravages of time and human beings. The vocals on the track, "The First Man On Earth," are performed by Neal Morse (Spock's Beard).

    It is here the first journey ends, as the traveler finds himself back on the desolate Mars wasteland once again. In The Dream Sequencer, Arjen Lucassen and company compel the listener to go along on the journey, and all adventurous musical types are sure to follow. The rewards are vast and the memories will stay with you long after the disc spins to its end. A masterpiece!


    As all great movies have sequels, Ayreon continues his compelling Universal Migrator series with a second epic story. Entitled Flight Of The Migrator, this time around the dying traveler goes past the Big Bang Theory, all to the sounds of a thrilling, progressive rock score. While part one was more song oriented and hypnotic, the second installment has a lot of complicated musical interludes sure to please the progressive purists. The solitude is all but gone, replaced by sheer chaos and vibrant energy.

    On Flight Of The Migrator, composer Arjen Lucassen has put together an impressive all star line-up of guest vocalists. The names, like the music itself, will make your head spin -- Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Andi Deris (Helloween), Ralf Scheeper (Primal Fear), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody) -- and the list continues on to almost unbelievable proportions. There is no denying that Flight Of The Migrator journeys through uncharted territory both musically and within it's thrilling narrative. "Dawn Of A Million Souls" is an all out anthem and "The New Migrator" takes the story to it's profound, thought provoking conclusion. And Bruce Dickinson's vocal contribution on the epic "Into The Black Hole" is some of the best singing the Iron Maiden vocalist has ever performed to date.

    Although I prefer the first part, the sequel is required to make the brilliant journey complete. When both volumes are listened to as a whole, The Universal Migrator saga will stimulate the senses like no other. An imaginative journey that (even with the more obscure themes explored in part two) will live on in the memory of the listener for the ages.


    Beheaded is a death metal band from Malta who are about the find fans the world over thanks to the guys at Mighty Music of Denmark. Formed back in 1991, Beheaded are extremely guttural in approach. The vocals are monstrous and dynamic and the musicianship is top notch. Resurgence Of Oblivion is well recorded, making one feel like they were attending an all out live performance instead of hearing a recording. Unfortunately there are only five songs contained on this EP -- Beheaded leave the listener wanting to hear a whole hell of a lot more! While a full lengther is due out in November 2001, it certainly would not hurt fans of extremely brutal death metal to check out what Beheaded has to offer on this EP. Resurgence Of Oblivion is heavy sh*t, guaranteed to give you whiplash within the privacy of your own home, in the car, or wherever you intend to unleash it...


    Playing like a dark and stylish comic book, the music spewed forth by Bernard Edwards and company chills to the bone. Featuring bitter lyrics and an ominous metal score, Bernard Edwards' Project Homicide has a lot to offer a listener tired of the same old death metal routine. Yes, Mr. Edwards wears face paint reminiscent of Kiss and King Diamond, but fortunately he has the imagination and presence that his rock heroes would be proud of. Check out "The Mask," "Mr B Dozer," and "Breach Of Security" to see how inventive Edwards and his band can be. And listen till the very end to witness their heroic live version of "Cold Gin" by you-know-who. One of the most interesting bands to surface from the US, it will be exciting to see what the madman Edwards comes up with next. Take a chance and check into the sinister heavy metal world of Project Homicide!

    BATTLE CALL by BLACK STEEL (Self released EP)

    Someone alert Nuclear Blast, Metal Blade and all the other usual suspects!!! There is a new band from Australia called Black Steel who are destined to give the current heavy hitters such as Hammerfall and Primal Fear a run for the gold! This is glorious power metal with songs that are committed to memory upon just the very first listening. Featuring members of Allegiance and Syzygy, Black Steel have recorded a four song EP entitled Battle Cry that will inspire and excite heavy metal fans the world over. Battle Call is sure to be a collector's item, for there is little doubt that Black Steel will hit the big time with ease. Don't even be surprised if these guys are signed by the time you read this. An impressive four song debut that is only indicative of a future filled with greatness. Be sure to check out BLACK STEEL's website and demand a copy of this EP while they are still available...


    The Calicoes are here to raise a little heck with their latest release entitled Custom Acceleration. Described as sounding like "Elvis on fire," this psychotic trio from Texas is obviously influenced by the likes of The Stray Cats and The Reverend Horton Heat. The album kicks into high gear with a rockin' instrumental called "Cosmic Thrill," and continues on with such great tracks as "Linda," "6 Feet Down," "Manhood," and a quirky little ballad that goes by the title of "Greaser Show." Erich, Rodney and Josh are responsible for the thrills and chills presented on this 10-song album, an instantly likeable package that fans of half-crazed rockabilly must check out. A great bunch of tunes from the indie underground!


    If the unsettling picture on the front cover doesn't rattle your cage, the five songs contained within Conqueror Worm's five song EP will. Combining sludge, death, and black metal, the tales of horror told in each of the tunes are gruesome, nightmarish, and extremely entertaining. Featuring ex-members from Poets Of The Plague, the guys in Conqueror Worm have been kicking around the local LA metal scene for several years now, and may finally garner themselves a good deal of attention with their current collection of songs. "Dead And Buried" is especially noteworthy, with brilliant over-the-top vocals over a soundtrack of brutality and gloom. Listening to Conqueror Worm is like experiencing a late night grade B movie, and we all secretly prefer those to the big studio crap any day. There is a lot of imagination going into the songs, setting Conqueror Worm fields apart from the local competition. Necrotic Tissue is a dynamic introduction for a demented trio of musicians who dare to name themselves after an infamous Edgar Allen Poe story. These dudes are crazy enough to sell their CD for a mere three bucks, so all fans who like their metal seeping over with blood and guts (not to mention a macabre sense of humor) must snag a copy of this graveyard classic. The members of Conqueror Worm are Ryan Parks on guitars and vocals, Al Noxious on bass and vocals, and Leviathan on drums and backing vox. Info:

    LOST AT SEA by CRAIG'S BROTHER (Tooth & Nail Records)

    Lost At Sea is the second full-length release from Craig's Brother, and it's quite a surprise indeed! Those expecting the light, punkish tunes of the first album will be clued in by the rather dark and grim album looking cover. The music is more thoughtful and while there are still flashes of punk rock quirkiness, a sense of maturity permeates throughout the album. Many of the songs could be hits on alternative radio, with highlights being the opening track "Glory," the rockin' strains of "Masonic" and the cool tones of "Lullaby." The final cut on the album is "Lost At Sea," an unforgettable tune that will haunt the mind for ages. Fans of 3 Doors Down and Sister Hazel are sure to like this one, as well as those who are beginning to grow weary of snotty punk bands. What Craig's Brother offers is a little something for everybody - traces of punk attitude combined with a heart as deep as the ocean. Very impressive and well worth seeking out.


    A World Where Only Nightmares Prevail is Crematorium's latest offering, featuring three all new songs and a Metallica cover. Those who remember their previous album may be surprised by Crematorium's change in musical direction. While these guys remain heavy and ultra-brutal, the hellish death metal sounds are embellished by hardcore influences. Fans of both Cannibal Corpse and Snapcase are sure to appreciate this thunderous approach the extreme music. The three original songs featured on this EP are "Cast The Stone," "Carved From Deceit," and "Unlearn" - all demonstrating a fierceness that should appeal to older fans and newer converts alike. The Metaliica cover is "Whiplash," a killer version that will shred through your stereo - which is also featured on a Dwell Records comp entitled Overload.

    A World… has been distributed free at the live Crematorium shows, and it appears that all the band's hard work and persistence has paid off big time. Now signed to Prosthetic Records, Crematorium is on the verge to recording a brand new full length. Congratulations from Highwire Daze to a band who will finally get the chance and recognition that they so rightly deserve!

    CROP by CROP (A Fucuitsmine Production)

    Crop hail from the flatlands of southwestern Kansas, and play some of the heaviest groove-core metal that you're likely to hear. With introspective, powerful lyrics and super-aggressive musical performances, the crop of tunes featured on their self-titled release are dynamic and guaranteed to penetrate the soul and mind. The disc kicks into high gear with "H.Y.G.W.Y.C.F." (Hope You Got What You Came For), and Crop continue to assault the senses with intensive tracks such as "Cradle Of The Cuts," "Father Caine," "5 To 10," and "No Brightside." Influences range from commercial nu-metal all the way to the brutal underground of sonic grind, and this amalgamation of verse and sound give Crop their own furious harvest of terrorist-style noise. Easily one of the best self-produced releases this reviewer has heard in awhile, Crop should not have any problems looking for a record deal and sowing a fan base well above and beyond the flat plains of Kansas. Be sure to play this one LOUD and bang your heads into sheer oblivion!!!

    CYDONIA by CYDONIA (Metal Blade Records)

    Cydonia is an Italian power/speed metal band featuring the outstanding vocal work of Dan Keying. Their self-titled debut is a concept album dealing with a colony on Mars trying to leave their dying Red Planet. The only hope is a mystical Blue Planet occupied by a far more civilized entity known as the Masters Of Stars. Produced by Olaf Thorsen of Labyrinth fame, Cydonia is an exciting metal adventure. Keying's dramatic vocals are backed by top notch musicians, including Steve Sguario who supplies compelling guitar riffs and Lee Crow's fine, atmospheric keyboard work. The rhythm section is tight and heavy, featuring Trevor O'Neal on bass and Mat Stancioiu on drums. All tracks are co-written by Keying and Thorsen - this could almost be considered a side project for the Labyrinth guitarist as Keying was the vocalist that Thorsen originally wanted for his main band. Cydonia's first effort is an effective debut, and they will certainly give other Italian metal bands something to watch out for. This is a journey well worth taking, even if it's just to your local record store to acquire your very own copy. The best tracks on Cydonia include "The King," "Legend In Time," "Masters Of Stars," and "Eternal Night."

    DEAD MEADOW by DEAD MEADOW (Tolotta Records)

    Even from its very first sludgy down-tuned note, you know you're in for one hell of a psychedelic journey with the dudes of Dead Meadow. Hailing from the wilds of the DC music scene, Dead Meadow appear to be influenced by the likes of Sabbath and Floyd, yet bring an atmosphere indie sound to the proceedings that is geniunely exciting to hear. Mixing in touches of the increasingly popular doom metal and stoner rock genres, Dead Meadow has something for everyone, while managing to maintain their offbeat individual style throughout. The songs contained within this Dead Meadow are the perfect head trip, whether listening to it alone or at the latest stoner gathering of friends. The guitar solos are wickedly inventive and the tunes are oddly memorable. Jason Simon has a distinctive voice that mixes well with his hyper-neurotic guitar style. Steve Kille really lays the swampy sound thick on bass while Mark Laughlin gives the drumming a groovy, classic rock feel. A truly thrilling musical experience that will tingle your senses and f*ck with your mind...


    Once the introduction lulls you into a blissful state of submission, Dead Meadow take you on a journey through abstracts lyrical imagery and psychedelic landscapes, and it's a trip that is well worth taking. Their debut album from last year was stunning, and Howls from The Hills is a musical promise thoroughly fulfilled. Influenced by Sabbath, Zeppelin, Hendrix and many others, Dead Meadow's music is multi-layered, filled with fuzz, feedback, and a vivid spectrum of colorful sound. This power trio from DC create a heavy atmospheric universe which is brilliant to behold. The vocals are hypnotic and intensive, weaving through the music with great ease. The land of Dead Meadow is dark and magical - a place where you can drop out and imagine sweeping, visionary tales. Highlight tracks include "Jusiamere Farm," "Drifting Down Streams," and "The Breeze Always Blows." Another truly great stoner rock effort from the cool dudes at Tolotta Records! Light a doobie and prepare for aural enchantment. by (Medea Records)

    Best described as techno-synth pop with dark scathing edges, is disturbing, demented fun. Fronted by the affable Melissa Emily, this is music reeking with vengeance all sung with sugary pop demeanor. The beats and guitars are heavy, yet the songs have great hooks and are extremely infectious. Kicking off with the disturbing "Daddy," the listener knows they're in for a unique and twisted pop trip. "Shake Me Down" has the sound of a hit single, while "Diabolical Love Scene" is an all out anthem spawned from frustration and angst. "Blue" may be a wistful ballad at first, but watch as the tune gets a bit chilling towards it's uneasy conclusion. Also featured is an unexpected cover of the Madonna song "Lucky Star," given the wicked deathgirl treatment. Closing track "Shimmer & Go" is an impressive composition, and an outstanding way to conclude sweet and bitter brutality. Those into extremely catchy synth pop will want to get a copy of this album immediately. And if you are a chick who is having a bad time with your wayward man, buy him a copy of and present it to the jerk with a big sweet smile - it's guaranteed to scare the living hell of out him!

    TRANSITION by DESTINY'S END (Metal Blade Records)

    After seeing Destiny's End preview songs from their forthcoming release at last year's November To Dismember, fans were eagerly anticipating their next release. And Transition does not dissappoint, placing Destiny's End near the top of the U.S. power metal brigade. With a chilling futuristic feel, Transition shows the band at the very height of their creative powers.

    Opening with the dynamic title track, the urgency of the album does not let up. Highlights include "The Watcher," "From Dust To Life" and especially the devastating closing track "Vanished." Vocalist James Rivera has a fantastic range, expressing the lyrics with a good deal of conviction. Rivera is well on his way to being within the same league as the great Ronnie James Dio. The compelling guitar work is brought to you by Dan DeLucie and Perry M. Grayson, and the noise is inventive and fiery at all times. (Since this recording, Grayson hasleft the band being replaced by Eric Halpern.) Nardo Andi on bass and Brian Craig on drums make up a thoroughly impressive rhythm section. A mighty step forward indeed, this Transition is an inspiring work of metal bound to give Destiny's End many new fans while thrilling the already converted. Check out the album and be sure to see Destiny's End when they show up in your town.


    Although time and hardcore Destruction fans (even the very band themselves) have not been kind to this release, Cracked Brain definitely deserves another spin. Just now being re-released here in the States through SPV, Cracked Brain was the final full-length Destruction album prior to their All Hell Breaks Loose comeback of last year. At the time of Crack Brain's release (1990), original member Schmier was not in the band, and Andre' Grieder had the thankless job of taking over in the vocal department. Replacing a charismatic vocalist is never an easy job, but Grieder is impressive regardless, and really scores some fine moments of metal glory on the album. Guitarist Mike Sifringer is the only current member who participated on the Cracked Brain recordings, and his guitar work and songwriting skills were inspired. This is a true underground thrasher with a troubled heart and a rebellious spirit -- I mean, what other band at this point of their career would dare attempt a thrashing cover of My Sharona by The Knack???

    Even as maligned as rock historians tend to make it, Cracked Brain beats the hell out of a lot of today's releases! While not classic Destruction material and nowhere as hard hitting as what their comeback release offered, Cracked Brain is still an adventurous effort that all Destruction fans should give a second listen to. They may even find that they, erm, like it....

    IMMOLATED by DIES IRAE (Metal Blade Records)

    Dies Irae play technical yet ferocious death metal that should set heads a-bangin' the world over. Hailing from Poland, the band features two members of Vader. Immolated is their debut album, an effective work that will massacre the senses with its diabolical vocals and musical blast beats. Polish metal is known for its unrelenting brutality, and Dies Irae prove to be no exception to the fact. Excellent lyrics abound all performed with a fiery intensity by bassist Novy. Vader-dude Mauser instituted the project back in 1992, and his staggering guitar work and songwriting skills have finally seen the blackness of night. Co-Vaderite Doc is the one responsible for the maniacal drumming while Hiro delivers some fine axe work as well. All lyrical contributions are written with thought and inspiration by Lukasz Szurminski, whose words will also be presented on an upcoming Vader EP. Fans of the mighty Vader will want to acquire a copy of Immolated as well as those who like their death metal to be barbaric at heart yet stimulating to the mind.


    You could spend hours trying to figure out just what that title means, but the music of Dimmu Borgir is all about Black Metal at it's finest! And with Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, Dimmu Borgir is ready to assault the world with their evil madness once again. The album starts off on a grand classical note, with a highly orchestrated piece that becomes more disturbing as it plays out. "Blessings Upon The Throne Of Tyranny" follows, a song that will instantly prove to many why Dimmu Borgir is one of the most promising Black Metal bands on the planet. If anyone will break this style of music to the masses, it will surely be Dimmu Borgir. The band now features Galder from Old Man's Child on guitar, who supplies some mighty axe work. Silenoz also shreds on guitar, giving Dimmu Borgir a fiery edge. Nicholas Barker (ex-Cradle Of Filth) is back in the fold, drumming with a true, demonic passion. Ex-Borknagar vocalist Simen Hestnæs (aka I. C. S. Vortex) performs bass and the chillingly clean vocals. Mustis provides all the dramatic synth work with a creative grace and flair. Shagrath's intense vo-kills demonstrate once again that he's the most charismatic front man in Black Metal today. There is no doubt that PEM will show up on many a top ten list at year's end. It's easily the best work Dimmu Borgir has ever created. Make sure to listen all the way till the end for their inspired cover of the Twisted Sister classic "Burn In Hell." And catch these guys on tour with Cannibal Corpse here in the States!


    Back to assault the world with an EP this time, Drowningman present five songs of pure hardcore aggression. Coming at you with the strength of a tank or ten, you can only quake in fear while listening to the sonic terror. It's attitude city as vocalist Simon Brody spews out the lyrics, the very first words on the album being "f*ck you too, dead, can you feel it when the blood run out." This nice little sentiment is from "The More I Get To Know You The Less I Like You." And as one listens, there's an oddly endearing quality about all this verbal abuse that makes you want to hear more and stick it out until the bitter end. Because when it's all over, Drowningman Still Loves You, and will rise again to record more viscous noise for the unsuspecting masses. Buy this one and prepare to go wild. Or send it as a gift to the one that you adore (or abhor)...

    MANDRAKE by EDGUY (AFM/The End Records)

    One of the very best bands the power metal genre has to offer, Edguy remain virtually unknown here in the States. In Europe and Japan, this is a whole other story. The latest Edguy release is entitled Mandrake, and it's definitely their most compelling effort to date. Opening with the dynamic "Tears Of A Mandrake," it is obvious from the start that Edguy is a cut above the competition. Vocalist Tobias Sammet has a fantastic range, expressing the lyrics with a fiery passion. All musicians involved are first rate, rendering Mandrake the most exciting power metal album to be released in 2001. A definite highlight in "The Pharaoh," an epic track clocking in at over 10 minutes, showing off the vast talents of each and every Edguy. Other notable songs include "Jerusalem," "Nailed To The Wheel," and "Save Us Now." Those who think that bands like Hammerfall are the ultimate in power metal must check out Mandrake by Edguy and prepare to be thoroughly impressed. Now being distributed domestically through The End Records, Edguy should finally achieve the recognition they deserve here in the States.

    EISHEILIG by EISHEILIG (Napalm Records)

    Darkly elegant and rich in texture and moodiness, the self-titled debut of Eisheilig will place all fans of goth rock into a wondrous dream world state of mind. All tracks feature lyrics in German, but even if you cannot comprehend what is being said, the seductive vocal meanderings are still brutally effective. The keyboards weave their way around the music with a snake-like charm, and all other musicians enhance the Eisheilig experience to near gothic greatness. "Die Brucken" and "Am Letzten Tag" are sure to entice the listener almost instantly, while surprise cover track "Love Street" (originated by The Doors) is done in classic neo-romantic colors. Comparing this band to others would be useless, as Eisheilig has carved their own slate into the goth rock movement, and have done so with a brilliant first effort. The various compositions within this work of art prove that music is indeed a universal language. Put this one on while making out with your significant other. Guaranteed to get the chicks hot!


    Electrance is a band from Orange County who perform a futuristic style of cyber metal. Similar to what Nine Inch Nails and The Kovenant sound like, Electrance deliver the bleakest of verbal and musical expulsions. With sci-fi titles such as "Ethereality," "The Digital Vortex," and "A Bizarre Alien Presence," Electrance take the listener on a journey way beyond today's heavy metal, and attempt to convey a sound that is visionary. For the most part, Electrance succeed - all they need is label backing and a decent budget - then these guys can really show the galaxy what the future of metal music holds in store. Disturbing The Universe is a promising start for a band bent on establishing new boundaries in an old genre. Make sure to contact Electrance at and ask for your very own copy, because this is destined to become a collectors item when they hit the big time stratosphere.


    Although Enter My Silence has been around since 1995, the band has finally released their debut CD on the Mighty Music label, and it was certainly worth the wait. There are many similarities to In Flames and Dark Tranquillity, all the way down to the Niklas Sundin illustration that graces the front cover. But instead of being just another random death metal act from Europe, Enter My Silence challenge the listener with memorable tunes and highly effective lyrics performed with a fierce intensity. Hailing from Finland, Enter My Silence features Mikko Kotamaki from Funeris Nocturnum on vocals plus an impressive set of talented musicians who tear the walls apart with their energy and enthusiasm. The nine songs featured on Remotecontrolled Scythe are impressive and guaranteed to excite metal fans from all over the globe. Stand-out tracks include "Six Nothing," "Irrelevant," "Filter X," and "Mindfill Effect." Fans of In Flames and Soilwork should definitely check into the dynamic tunes contained on this outstanding first effort. A definite triumph for a band that will go places!


    It's been four long years, and finally the second effort from Epoch Of Unlight has been unleashed. Now a three piece after months of trying to lure a second guitarist into their ranks, Epoch Of Unlight have a full on sound that is exciting to the ears. Combining black and death metal, their compelling music is given an inspiring mix by Keith Falgout of Cephalic Carnage/Soilent Green fame. A perfect continuation from their dark masterpiece What Will Be Has Been, Caught In the Unlight features 10 blasting new tunes that will assault the senses with their sheer relentlessness. "At The Threshold Of Might" kicks off the madness, and tracks such as "The Ethereal Taint," "Crimson And Steel," and the killer title cut show why Epoch Of Unlight remain one of the most underrated metal bands here in the States. A tour with Dimmu Borgir and Samael helped to spread unlight throughout the land, and their recordings for The End Records seal the devastation for all eternity. Do yourself a favor and check into the darkness contained on Caught In The Unlight and make sure you play it LOUD!!!

    MYSTERIUM by EVENSONG (Displeased Records)

    Mysterium is album number three for Evensong, and it's their most compelling effort yet. While their previous masterwork Of Man's First Disobedience was going to be hard to equal, Evensong manage to present six more opuses of shimmering melancholia that will haunt the mind long after the disc spins to the its end. The band is from Hungary, and they play a sweeping brand of gothic metal obviously inspired by the great composers as well as the current influx of similar bands. Agnes Toth provides the stirring female vocals and performs the keyboards like a world class virtuoso. Mihaly Szabo delivers the extremely dramatic grunts and clean vocals, and supplies some nice guitar work. The mixing of the two vocals are superb, bringing the thrilling compositions to ultra vivid life. Gabor Olah does some fine work on lead guitar, while Gergely Cseh (bass) and Gabor Vegh (drums) go way beyond what is expected from a heavy metal rhythm section. Lying somewhere between The Sins Of Thy Beloved and Peccatum, there is blood and passion in every note Evensong spews forth. Mysterium unfolds as a true work of artistry and is highly recommended!

    FALCONER by FALCONER (Metal Blade Records)

    Falconer founder Stefan Weinerhall was a member of Mithotyn, the vastly underrated Viking metal band whose three albums nevertheless left a lasting impression. And although Falconer features clean vocals throughout, the results are just as devastating and memorable. Performing both guitar and bass on Falconer's debut recording, the great Weinerhall is joined by fellow Mithotyn-er Karsten Larsson on drums. The work of both gentlemen is impressive throughout. The real find here is vocalist/keyboard player Mathias Blad, whose thrilling contribution adds a touch of mysticism and adventure to the proceedings. Blad is one of tbe very best metal singers to emerge on the scene in ages, and his dramatic renderings mesh well with the dynamic compositions. Stand-out cuts include "Heretic In Disguise," "Wings Of Serenity," "Lord Of The Blacksmiths," and "Upon The Grave Of Guilt." One of the best new metal albums from the Scandinavian region this year, Falconer will intrigue all those who dare to seek it's wisdom out. Mixing folk music sounds with a hard metallic edge, Falconer deliver a combination worthy of great Vikings from the past. Highly recommended!!!


    JAKTENS TID by FINNTROLL (Century Media/Spikefarm Records)

    Presenting a highly unique vision of Black Metal, the music of Finntroll is a fun as swigging a beer while passing the time away in your favorite pub. Mixing in Finnish folk music and humppa (which is a variety of polka), the music of Finntroll is nevertheless fast and furious. Majestic and enlightening, Jaktens Tid is a brilliant work of metal art that will make you want to party with all your drunken friends. While the lyrics are sung in their native tongue, visions of elves and dark forests abound, along with the urge to treat yourself to some fine ale. There are many inspired moments of pure musical madness that not many black metal bands have ever aspired to. The vocal performance of the enigmatic Katla is thunderous and energetic. All musicians are first rate, with searing guitars and dynamic keyboard work filling in the wondrous atmosphere. There are also choirs, banjos, and even joik singing featured, creating a sound that is distinctively Finntroll. An adventure in extreme music, those tired of being fed the same old brand of heavy metal will really thrill to what Finntroll has to offer. Play Jaktens Tid at your next function and watch your intoxicated friends swinging with fiendish glee from the rafters...


    If you are a fan of melodic speed metal, then you definitely should heed the sounds of Freedom Call. One of the most exciting newcomers on the metal scene, this German band knows how to deliver a mighty anthem. Once you hear the first song, (incidentally entitled Freedom Call), you will be hooked! With bombastic choruses that are highly memorable and outstanding musicianship, these guys are well on their way to becoming the next Hammerfall, if not Helloween. Crystal Empire is the second Freedom Call effort, and it's a thrill to behold. Rise Up, Pharao, and The Quest are highlights that will easily be listed as genre favorites. One could almost picture the songs live in an arena as the dramatic music is destined to sweep metal audiences into an euphoric head banging state of mind. Especially effective are the dynamic vocals of Chris Bay, who also performs some impressive keyboard and guitar work. Also contributing to the metal celebration known as Freedom Call are Sascha Gerstner on guitar, Ilker Ersin on bass, and Dan Zimmerman on drums. For fans of epic, inspiring metal that will make you want to take on the world at large, Crystal Empire by Freedom Call is highly recommended!

    FUZZBUBBLE by FUZZBUBBLE (Future Primitive Records)

    Here's the classic story of a band being signed to a major label, going on to record a top notch album, and then getting dropped before their debut sees the light of day. Fortunately for the fans of power pop everywhere, Fuzzbubble has taken matters into their own hands and have self-released the CD. Playing with an edgy, hard rockin' sound, the 10 songs (plus one hidden track) showcased are dynamic, filled with catchier than hell hooks and insightful lyrics. "Bliss" kicks the album off with its distorted guitar sounds, bouncy hooks and ironic lyrics. The pop tracks never stop, from the attitude ridden "Boomerang," the Beatlesque "Don't Let It Get You Down," the wistful "Ordinary" - all the way to the introspective "Real World" and beyond. Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles makes a guest appearance, contributing backing vocals on two of the tracks. Roger Manning of Jellyfish even makes an appearance, performing keyboards on one song as well. But it's the main musicians that make Fuzzbubble the unique pop unit it is, including Mark Dicarlo's intense vocal deliveries, Jim Bacchi's driving guitar work, and the coolest of rhythm sections featuring Brett Rothfeld on bass and Jason Camiolo on drums. Good things come for those who wait, and now not only is this album available for fans old and new, but I hear through the grapevine that the labels are a-courtin' this band once again. Stay tuned...

    ALWAYS ON by GAMEFACE (Revelation Records)

    There is no reason why Gameface can't be as big as 3 Doors Down, Sister Hazel, and even REM. User friendly, wildly melodic yet fiercely indie sounding, there's something for everyone embedded within the Gameface sound. Based out of Orange County, the band has been releasing excellent albums for a few years now, and Always On is their best effort yet - not to mention a serious stab at the big time. Right off the bat, one can imagine hearing songs like "The Warmest Heart Attack" and "Laughable" on the more adventurous airwaves. "Angels On The Wing" is another cool track, featuring guitar work that is alternately distorted and hypnotic. One of the quieter moments on the album is "Balance," which breaks out into a rather effective melancholic finale. And rockers like "Anyone Can Write A Song" and "Robots" will win over the just about everyone with their catchy melodies and crunchy guitar riffs. Always On is another impressive recording from a band on the verge of breaking out in a big way. Fans of catchy alternative rock are sure to enjoy what Gameface has to offer.



    From the land of Ancient Rites comes Gotmoor, one of the most ferocious Black Metal bands your feeble ears are likely to have the sinful pleasure of bleeding to. Fans of Satyricon and Darkthrone are going to wonder just where in the hell this band has been hiding for all this time! Gotmoor is outstanding, and featured on their CD Vlaemsche Premitieven are two of their demos with tracks so expertly crafted you really wonder why they haven't been approached by the bigger labels. But ISO666 has a great ear for music, and should be commended for giving Gotmoor the chance in hell they needed. Drummer Storm is a stand-out, whether pounding away at the pulsating blast beats or playing at a more somber, yet intensive rate. Storm could easily be considered in the same league as Hellhammer of Mayhem and The Kovenant. Another outstanding performance comes from keyboard player Ysenghrim, who fills the atmosphere with chilling, nightmarish noise. Guitarist Nevel supplies a mighty wall of sound that rips through your soul like being enveloped with sudden evil thoughts. The recording dates of these tracks of sheer venom are 1997-98, leaving the listener in wonderment as to what these guys have been up to. It may be too soon to proclaim Gotmoor one of the Black Metal elite, but if they keep up with recordings this compelling, these metal dudes from Belgium may take over our dismal world! Simply f*cking awesome!


    FACING CHANGES by HANGNAIL (Tooth & Nail/BEC Recordings)

    Hangnail from Kenosha, Wisconsin are back, presenting the world with a dozen more pop/punk songs that are infectious beyond belief. Facing Changes shows a band clearly maturing in both their sound and lyrical output. The spiritual ideas are a bit more subtle this time around, yet the songs are still as winning as ever. Opening with the anthem-like "Wrong Is Wrong," Hangnail blasts through several tracks that could make it on the radio. "With Hands Tied (Behind My Back)," "Home Sick," "Closedmouthed Concern," and the title track are highlights, but favorites could switch from each and every listen. With recordings this good, it's only a matter of time before Hangnail break out into the power punk mainstream.

    Those lucky enough to find the first edition of Facing Changes were treated to a second disc of tunes entitled The Acoustic EP. Showcasing six of their best compositions, the lyrics are sung with passion and the arrangements are quite inventive featuring acoustic guitar, a string section, percussive rhythms, and even chimes. Songs that shine brightly on the EP include "Double Standard" and "Decision Making." It would be great to see Hangnail perform all their songs unplugged on tour some day. In the meantime, congrats are in order for Nick, Jacob, Matt, and Mike for delivering another cool collection of thoughtful yet very aggressive pop to a cynical world.

    HIS CREATION REVERSED by HAVAYOTH (Hammerheart Records)

    There is just really no way to describe how astounding His Creation Reversed by Havayoth is. It's a soundtrack for the end of the world, told in a brilliantly melancholic narrative. Too thoughtful, soothing and melodic to be considered Black Metal, Havayoth appear to be influenced by the likes of bands such as Sisters Of Mercy and Paradise Lost, yet their sound is highly original. The brainchild of Marcus Norman from the equally thrilling Ancient Wisdom, this talented musician plays just about every instrument you hear while Morgan Hansson from Naglfar contributes some fine moments on bass. The vocals are emotional and intense, performed by an A. Hedlund, better known to all as the mighty Vintersorg. "The Watcher" and "Burn" are obvious highlights, with the moody vocals and choruses meshing beautifully with the musical soundscapes. There are many quiet instrumental pieces one can easily get lost and drift away in as well.

    The finest moment on His Creation Reversed is the last track "Fallen," an epic tune that ends the album on a remarkably quiet, somber yet devastating note. I've been playing this one non-stop, and hope to hear more from this fine collaboration of musicians. Do whatever is required to find this album - go to the ends of the Earth if necessary. These songs are unforgettable and will haunt your mind for some time to come.


    When a band records a debut as stunning as Hollenthon's Domus Mundi, there is really nowhere to go but down. So when the second release With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell showed up on my doorstep, I approached it with a bit of fear and apprehension. Could Martin Schirenc (of Pungent Stennch fame) and company match their previous masterpiece much less improve upon it? The answer is a resounding YES!!!

    There seems to be no end to the imagination Schirenc brings to his compositions. The monk choirs and orchestrations are back with a fierce vengeance, and the songs are epic and ambitious. The opening track "Y Draig Goch" rocks the listener out immediately, featuring dramatic soundtrack-like music and a campy surf guitar that is out of this world. It would be great to hear a song like that on the radio, but alas, it's not bound to happen in any of our lifetimes! "Woe To The Defeated" starts out with the chanting monks and winds up an all out metal anthem while "Lords Of Bedlam" sweeps the listener into a chaotic oblivion. "Fire Upon The Blade" is reminiscent of a big budget movie soundtrack with the over-the-top choral interludes and vibrant wall of supersonic sound. Featuring fiery lyrical imagery courtesy of Elena Shirenc, Hollenthon continue to challenge the listener and expand metal boundaries like never before. A staggering achievement and then some, With Vilest Worms To Dwell is easily one of the best albums of 2001!

    THE TOKYO SHOWDOWN LIVE by IN FLAMES (Nuclear Blast Records)

    In Flames has performed twice here in Southern California, the first time stealing the thunder out from under headlining act Earth Crisis. Delivering solid albums since 1994 in spite of constant line-up changes, it was only a matter of time before In Flames would turn up with a live release. The Tokyo Showdown Live was recorded last year while on the Clayman tour, and showcases 15 outstanding songs from their collective discography. This is melodic death metal at its most inspiring, well within the grand tradition of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Capturing the very energy of their exceptional live performance, The Tokyo Showdown Live opens with the killer "Bullet Ride," one of the very best songs In Flames has ever recorded. Other tracks that shine in all their metal glory include "Only For The Weak," "Pinball Map," "Colony," and "Episode 666." Easily one of the best live metal albums of 2001. If you've never had the chance to see this top-notch metal band live, be sure to check out The Tokyo Showdown Live and make it a point to see In Flames when they bring the musical devastation into your town.

    SWAMPLORD by KALMAH (Century Media/Spikefarm Records)

    Rising from the ashes of Finnish death metal band Ancestor, Kalmah has arrived and are ready to take the metal community by storm. Finland has given us such greats as Amorphis and Children Of Bodom, and Kalmah compare quite well with these rather well known bands. Melodic yet filled with brutal assaults of thrash and death, Swamplord is an impressive debut from a band destined to go places. The guitars are driving and brutal, while the keyboard work enhances the overall mood of the album. Pekka Kokko's vocal work ranks right up there with the many star performers of the Finnish metal scene and the rhythm section is outstanding. Opening with the killer track "Evil In You," the excitement never lets up, with other highlights being "Hades," "Dance Of The Water," and "Using The Word." Kalmah has achieved in just one album an astonishing professional sound that bands strive for years to maintain. This is pure head banging fun that all fans of melodic death metal will want to check out. If you are into Bodom, In Flames, and Soilwork, then Swamplord by Kalmah should be your very next purchase. Available in the States thanks to Century Media!


    Watch out Los Angeles, because Killingfield is ready to assault this town with their very aggressive brand of heavy metal. There's been a lot of good things written about these guys, and their debut CD Year Of The Zero's is a promise fulfilled. Sure to be a collectors item when this band hits the big time, Year Of The Zero's by Killingfield has influences raging from the sludgy sound of old Black Sabbath, the powerhouse brutality of Slayer, to the various rap metal and atmospheric alternative influences. Amazingly enough, Killingfield has come up with a uniquely individual identity, surely attributed to the immense talents of all involved. "Transparent" is a definite highlight, a catchy tune that should win them airplay on the more adventurous radio stations. "Flesh" is another track featuring hypnotic guitar work followed by a wall of dymanic sound. "Panic" is another song that will inspire mosh pits well beyond the City of Angels. "Disarray" is hypnotic and passionate, a slower yet heavier than hell sound explosion.

    The various members of Killingfield are some of the best musicians this town has to offer. Phil Flores is an extremely effective vocalist, whose attitude and energy instantly draws the listener into all that is going on. Guitarist Bebe Wolf contributes many inspired passages and other sonic noise while drummer Brenden Stewart and bassist Channing Estrada make a brutally effective rhythm section. In one year, these guys are gonna be huge! Invest your time and energy and check out the Killingfield!


    The music of Lacrimas Profundere is passionate and filled with melancholy, a bit like what Katatonia and My Dying Bride are doing these days. However, there are many aspects of the music that sets this German gothic band apart from the pack. For one, the vocals of Christopher Schmid are deep and resonant, filled with a somber longing that is devastating. The music is beautiful and sweeping, bordering on the heavy alternative meanderings that were made famous by The Church and Echo and The Bunnymen. Featuring members of Darkseed, the musicians fill the room with their imaginative artistry, hypnotizing the listener into an uneasy blissful state. Together with the neo-romantic singing, Lacrimas Profundere provide an atmosphere that is dangerously unique and filled with wonderment. " Adorer And Somebody" has a memorable sadness about it, while "A Summer's End" continues the journey into the bitter darkness. "Break Silence" is filled with the optimism and desires of another day that is enlightening to behold. Other tracks that impress while on the road to remorse include "Lastdance," "Diotima," and "Re-Silence." Burning: A Wish is a gothic masterpiece that strays beyond the genre and will win over all types of music fans over with its visionary landscapes of poetry and sound.

    MY DISEASE by LeFT (Medea Records)

    Their roots may be firmly planted in the Rage/Deftone style of metal, but the music presented by LeFT is filled with passion and depth. Based out of Michigan, My Disease is LeFT's debut album for Medea Records. Combining metal, rap, and hardcore screaming, LeFT present the listener with intense, highly personal songs that many will relate to. With subjects ranging from the harshness of everyday life to unstable human relationships, LeFT really hit their target lyrically. All of these thoughtful ideals are lifted up and colored in by an awesome metallic soundtrack. "Choke," "Not Afraid," "Guilt (I've Become What I Hate)," and "Making Friends With Suicide" are some of the brilliant compositions featured on My Disease. Matt Dalton really spills his heart and soul out on vocals, whether it be a too cool rapped passage or an emotionally charged scream for understanding and empathy. The musicianship in the band is impressive, featuring Dan Schlicker on guitar, Ryan Fleming on bass, and Dustin Malicoat on drums. This is new metal that should appeal to many - familiar enough to appease the Ozzfest crowd yet possessing plenty of diversity to win over the underground metal factions. My Disease is a compelling debut and should be spread amongst the unsuspecting masses. It will be very exciting to see what this band comes up with next...


    The Leftovers are a punk band from Sweden who play music is the grand and dirty tradition of The Stooges and The Dead Boys. There ain't no wimpy Blink 182 boy pop found here - The Leftovers are the real thing filled with dangerous grooves and tons of bad attitude to spare! With distorted guitars amped up past the breaking point, a driving rhythm section and a very in-your-face vocalist, The Leftovers are determined to knock the current punk rock scene on it's pathetic girlie ass, and watch out if you or your bitch get in the way! It's all about booze, fast cars, motorbikes, chicks and rock 'n roll - and many will find The Leftovers burst of raw energy like a musical thrill-ride through Hellcat City. The curiously named Mr. Suit delivers the vocals with a vengeance, his manic presence felt throughout the entire recording. The music is fun and sloppy and frightening, with highlights being "Evil Knievil," "Knockin' Me Dead," "Live To Sin," "Breakout," and "F*cked Up Situation." Play 667 - The Neighbour Of The Beast at top volume for maximum impact! The Leftovers are now in the hood and with tunes this out of control, you can be sure that they'll continue to terrorize the scene and destroy everything within reach. Iggy would be truly proud!

    FREEDOM'S RISE by LIEGE LORD (Old Metal Records)

    One of the more influential power metal bands, not many people have heard Liege Lord's very first release. But now thanks to King Fowley's Old Metal Label, the masses can finally hear the mighty Freedom's Rise release, the album that started off the glorious Liege Lord saga. Originally released on an obscure French label in June of 1984, Freedom's Rise has some great songs contained within, and is more than just a curiosity piece for the hardcore Liege Lord fan. There's a certain excitement about the Freedom's Rise, a true underground feel that shines through, especially on tracks such as "Wielding Iron Fists," "Rage Of Angels," and "Darktale." The Liege Lord membership at the time was Matt Vinci (bass), Tony Truglio (guitar), Frank Cortese (drums), Andy Michaud (singer) and Pete McCarthy (2nd guitar). Although this was not the classic line-up yet, you could tell that the band was definitely on to something big. Former Steve Vai student Paul Nelson would join the band, a signing to Metal Blade would take place, and the rest is heavy metal history! To order Freedom's Rise, go to and be prepared for an impressive, surprising piece of raw, heavy metal artistry.


    "Don't wanna hear you talk at all, just want to see your dress fall," sings Johann Edlund on "Baby Come On," the first track on the debut Lucyfire recording. Edlund is the vocalist from the Swedish goth metal act Tiamat. Lucyfire is Edlund's creation, a too-cool project that rocks out with catchy tunes and rock cliches all in tow. Entitled This Dollar Saved My Life At Whitehorse (something a Disney character once muttered - Scrooge McDuck if you must know), the lyrics may be ridden with rock and roll cliches and catch-phrases, yet there is something compelling that keeps the listener interested throughout the entire recording. With his astounding work on Tiamat's latest albums, it comes as little surprise that the songs on Lucyfire are so infectious. All this, and Edlund seems to be winking at the listener through all the ironic lyrics. Just check out his cover of ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" for just how wickedly brilliant this resourceful musician can be.

    There are many tracks on This Dollar… that stand out, including "Mistress Of The Night," which threatens to be a dance floor classic. "You Can Have All My Love Tonight" is another stand-out, a pop song that has a threatening edge. "As Pure As Sin" is wistful and relentlessly bleak and could easily be from the Depeche Mode collection. "The Pain Song" is the first single and final cut on the album, and has been seeing some chart action in Europe. "Automatic" is another near classic, filled with attitude and drive.

    Edlund's vocals on This Dollar… are dark and sensual, and the songwriting is the very best he's done throughout a long and illustrious career. Silly Lemke provides sexy back-up vocals and has plenty of chances to shine brightly - one should offer Ms. Lemke a chance to release her very own album. The keyboard work really sets the tone on the album, whether the song is spirited or filled with sorrow. Although Lucyfire was recorded with studio musicians, Edlund plans to put together a permanent line-up and tour. This Dollar… is one of the great surprises of the year, an album that will appeal to all types of music fans. If only radio would be adventurous enough to play some of these songs - but you know they won't, so go out and acquire a copy of Lucyfire's debut for yourself. Highly recommended!!!


    More excellent grindcore courtesy of Relapse Records, Luddite Clone is based out of New Jersey and are set to take the genre to mind exploding proportions. The Arsonist And The Architect is Luddite Clone's debut EP for Relapse, consisting of 13 minutes of pure, unadulterated sonic hell! There are six tracks in all, nothing more than a sneak preview of what is surely to come from a band on the verge of taking over the genre with their terrorist assaults. All fans of headbanging grind-metal are sure to appreciate what the Luddite Clone has to offer. A promising beginning for a band whose music sounds like an overture for the end of the world…

    WORLDS END by MOSHQUITO (Morbid Records)

    Having been around for 15 years, Moshquito from Germany were playing heavy metal during a time when communism was still rampant and the Iron Curtain was very much a reality. During the era of Erich Honecker, Moshquito found their live shows banned on more than one occasion and would not record their debut album until 1998. Worlds End is their second album, 9 tracks of head banging intensity that should appeal to all diehards fans of groups such as Kreator and Destruction. In another country and under different situations, Moshquito would be very well known, but there is no better time than now to get acquainted with this hard-hitting band. "Animals," "Cold Grave," "No Respect," and "Do What You Want" are among the tracks that smash you in the face with their driving force. Featuring harsh vocals and blistering musical interludes, Worlds End by Moshquito is a must for those who like their thrash metal raw and filled with a fire that 15 oppressive years could bring forth.

    MEISTERWERK I by MY DYING BRIDE (Peaceville Records)

    My Dying Bride was formed in 1990 and remain one of the premier doom/gothic metal bands. Eight songs are featured on Meisterwerk I from various time periods, plus a bonus video of "The Cry Of Mankind" from their breakthrough album The Angel And The Dark River.

    Meisterwerk I opens with "Symphonaire Infernus Et Spira Empyrium," a classic of sweeping proportions with ferocious Black Metal vocals. "The Crown Of Sympathy" shows yet another side to the My Dying Bride story, with foreboding clear vocals and spoken word that renders the piece an unforgettable work of art. "The Grief Of Age" is an early work, a rare thrasher that will set your skull banging. "A Kiss To Remember" and "For You" are from Like Gods Of The Sun, relentlessly bleak yet filled with passion and romanticism. "Grace Unhearing," also from the same album is given a Portishell Mix, a version only available in Japan until now. "Unreleased Bitterness," is a poorly recorded song that almost sounds like a bootleg, yet is still a crucial bit of MDB history for the hardcore fans. The closing cut, "Sear Me III" is from The Light At The End Of The World, their latest album on Peaceville.

    All in all, Meisterwerk I is required for all fans of My Dying Bride and others who want to hear from one of the originators of the UK doom and gloom metal scene. Another volume of Meisterwerk will be available in June with a new collection of grimness set for release in October!

    DESERT LAND by NARNIA (Nuclear Blast Records)

    Narnia is a magical land that was created by esteemed writer C.S. Lewis in a series of widely read books. Also a power metal band, Narnia from Germany take on many of Lewis' themes, right down to the lion that has graced all three of their album covers thus far. Like the reading material, the music is of a highly spiritual nature. Whatever you think of Christian metal, Narnia is a dynamic band whose songs will inspire many. The guitar work is outstanding and would do even Yngwie proud. And the Dio-esque vocals are stunning, the lyrics being delivered with a fiery passion. The musicianship is superb, and all nine songs featured within this Desert Land are thrilling to behold. "Inner Sanctum" and "The Witch And The Lion" are tunes of triumph, destined to become metal classics. There are also two instrumentals featured showing why Narnia's guitarist is next in line for the Yngwie throne. The best is saved for last with "Trapped In This Age," a majestic nine minute opus that will leave all fans of bombastic power metal wanting to hear more. All admirers of Dio, Yngwie and Hammerfall will surely want Desert Land by Narnia in their collection! This musical path may be well traveled, but the journey is certainly worth taking!

    WISHMASTER by NIGHTWISH (Century Media Records)

    The first element one notices about Nightwish from Finland are the outstanding operatic vocals of Tarja Turunen, and then there's the heavenly keyboards and searing guitar work creating the most dramatic of musical atmospheres. Driving it all home is the powerhouse rhythm section . Combining progressive, gothic and even pop rock elements, Nightwish is surely one of the most thoroughly original metal bands on the scene today. Nightwish has made a lot of noise within the Finnish music scene, and now thanks to a licensing deal with Century Media, the latest album Wishmaster will be heard here in the States.

    Originally an acoustic project by keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, there is plenty of imagination and enchantment to be found within the new Nightwish creation. "She Is My Sin" is a lovely beginning for Wishmaster, the very best song that you'll never hear on the radio. The title track is also impressive, a dynamic anthem that is simply unforgettable. "Two For Tragedy" is a moving ballad made memorable by the haunting vocals. Prog fans who like to lose themselves in long, epic suites are sure to enjoy "Dead Boy's Poem" and the album's final track "FantasMic." Excellent musicianship, brilliant songs and a classically trained opera vocalist make Nightwish a band that many around the world will cherish. Wishmaster is required for all fans of dramatic music and others that demand to be swept away by the bands they chose to spend their hard-earned money on. Highly recommended!

    NOCTEM by NOCTEM (Self Released CD Demo)

    Although this demo really wasn't sent in to be reviewed, metal fans here in Los Angeles should be aware of Noctem. Hailing from the San Fernando Valley, Noctem has been around for a little under a year, and has already opened for the likes of Downset and Immolation. Their first release isn't the perfect recording by any means, but it's still an awesome introduction to a band striving to be original and unique. While they are not Opeth (yet), the five songs on their demo show a lot of promise and creative drive. Opener "Necropolis" is especially effective, featuring astonishing vocals, a drummer in overdrive, and stunning musicianship. These guys need a producer in a big way, one who can harness their raw sound and give them a recording they so rightfully deserve. Until that time, Highwire Daze recommends their self-titled demo and warns you to prepare for the musical assault known as Noctem. Don't forget to check them out June 14, 2001 as they are opening for Mayhem and Crematorium at The Whisky. The members of Noctem are Seaun Prevatt and Al Navarro on guitars, Gonzo Maravilla on bass, George Hernandez on drums, and Josh Forney on vocals.

    EN ORIA by NOCTERNITY (ISO666 Releases)

    En Oria by Nocternity is Black Metal at it's most sweeping and majestic. A concept story of a tragic love lost and reborn within the depths of the ocean, the idea of "sinking into welcoming darkness" is a nightmarish, yet deathly romantic vision. Recorded in 1999, it's taken awhile to get this release out, but fans of old Emperor and Burzum will find En Oria inspiring and a discovery well worth finding. Based out of Athens, Greece, the talents responsible for this truly brilliant creation are Khal Drogo on guitars and vocals, Merkaal on bass and vocals plus several session musicians. Atmospheric yet filled with blasting intensity, the music is cold and epic, just like the mysterious sea itself. Nocternity clearly prove you do not have to be from Norway to excel in the dark art of Black Metal. Can't wait to hear the next grim saga from this Hellenic band!


    Originally released in 1996 in demo form, Lunar Poetry by Nokturnal Mortum showed a good deal of promise. One of the few Black Metal bands from the Ukraine, Nokturnal Mortum demonstrated even this early on that they were one of the elite. Thanks to The End Records, this nearly lost work of art may be heard the world over, now being released for the first time on compact disc. Haunting keyboard passages, chilling vocals, atmospheric noise and traditional folk music mesh well together, creating a dramatic amalgamation of sound. The creative flair shown on Lunar Poetry was only a promise of greater things to come, as fans know from the current Nokturnal Mortum catalog. Included on this release is a bonus track entitled "Return Of The Vampire Lord," an 11 minute epic that is absolutely visionary in its approach. While courting controversy due to their extreme Aryan beliefs, Nokturnal Mortum remain one of the most compelling Black Metal bands on the scene today. Fans of Dimmu Borgir and Emperor are well advised to check out this, and the many other releases Nokturnal Mortum has to offer.

    SELF MUTILATION by NO RETURN (Listenable Records)

    Although Self Mutilation is the fifth album by No Return, it's the first time their music has been readily available outside of Europe. No Return is a thrash metal band based out of France, and their latest album is astounding! The music is of a breakneck pace - one could get seriously hurt while banging your head to the frenetic blast beats. The music is played at a super aggressive speed, reminding the listener of classic bands such as Slayer, Sepultura, and Destruction. Steeve Petit delivers the vo-kills in a grand and furious manner while Alain Clement and Benoit Antonio supply an explosive wall of sonic noise. Olivier Herol performs a wondrous low-end on bass while Didier Le Baron could easily be listed as one of the drumming greats as he bangs away in a blistering Dave Lombardo-like style. No Return is thrash metal's best kept secret, but thanks to the folks at Listenable, everyone may now bash their brains into oblivion while getting acquainted with the great, underrated band. All fans of well-played thrash metal must check out Self Mutilation by No Return and prepare to be pulverized! These guys may have been around since 1989, but they can beat the crap out of the younger bands with ease!

    TONEDEAF by ORBIT (Lunch Records)

    Some may remember Orbit for their outstanding single "Bicycle Song" that was in rotation for about two days on KROQ back in 1996. At that time, Libido Speedway was Orbit's major label debut through A&M Records, an ill-fated venture that may have inspired "Radio Whore," a tune from their brand new EP entitled Tone Deaf. Now back with Lunch Records, it's good to report that Orbit is ready to inspire the world once more with their quirky brand of indie-pop.

    Tonedeaf kicks off with "Electric," a rambunctious track featuring a full horn section no less! "Fade Away" is a clever tune which includes some hapless guy counting the beats at random moments adding fuel to the bitterly ironic lyrics. "Touch Me" is filled with passion and longing, featuring strings that mesh well with the song's moody sense of urgency. "Sugar Down" is another highlight reeking with a sense of melancholy and pop perfection. And then there's the aforementioned "Radio Whore" where Orbit rock out amongst the harsh cyncisms they cleverly spew forth. Tonedeaf has seven songs in all that will delight the senses and buzz within the entrails of your brain for a good long time. If you like cool indie pop and have yet to discover Orbit, there is no better time than now to check them out. And for those who remember their vastly ignored major label debut, Orbit is back to launch your imagination in flight with groovy songs once more…


    Presenting the life of Leonardo da Vinci as a rock opera, composer Trent Gardner (Magellan) has painted a dramatic portrait of the artist's turbulent life. Born in 1452 as an illegitimate child, da Vinci was a man of many talents who would soon associate with royalty in both Italy and France. Known for his extensive scientific studies as well as his famous paintings, the subject of Leonardo - The Absolute Man is portrayed with sheer intensity Dream Theater's James Labrie. The all star progressive rock cast includes Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery), Chris Shryack (Under The Sun), Josh Pincus (Ice Age) and Steve Walsh from the legendary Kansas. Gardner even portrays a character in the form of da Vinci's teacher and mentor Andrea del Verrocchio. Lisa Bouchelle is a stand-out as Mona Lisa, the inspiration for his most famous work who would haunt his spirituality for a lifetime. As performed by Bouchelle and Labrie, "Thjs Time This Way" is a wondrous love song filled with passion and hope. Another outstanding track is entitled "Inventions," showing the apprehension da Vinci felt when designing weapons of war for Italy.

    While very much a product of the progressive rock genre, the fascinating story is well executed and should appeal to all types of musical aficionados. The notes on da Vinci and the time period are informative and the narrative is exciting to follow. Gardner has created his own masterpiece with Leonardo - The Absolute Man - a history lesson and adventure through history that should inspire repeated listenings.


    Pistol Grip is a punk band from the San Gabriel Valley influenced by the likes of The Clash, Bad Religion, and The Ramones. There's is no pop or ska contained within, just ferocious tunes and inspiring lyrics that bring back the glory days of punk with a vengeance. The songs are wildly infectious, including the anthem-like "Running From The Gun," the spirited "F*ck The P.M.R.C." and the powerful "Crucifixion Politix." And those living in the city of angels will appreciate the harsh cynicism spewed forth on the final track "LA City Jinx." The messages contained on Kalico Rose are crucial and should provoke thought by those gone brain-dead due to an overdose of Blink 182-style "punk." Vocalist Stax delivers the lyrics with an aggressive in-your-face approach, while the rest of the band performs with a good sense of urgency and passion. Pistol Grip will be on tour this summer and should start those slam pits rolling again. Although they are inspired by music from the past, what Pistol Grip has to say is timeless and should be heard. All this, and they seem to be having a good deal of fun too - and so will anyone else who picks up their full length debut Kalico Rose. Another fantastic release from the label that brought Youth Brigade into the world.


    Psychopunch is a band from Sweden who play aggressive punk rock in the grand tradition of The Dead Boys, Generation X, and even Motorhead. Bursting Out Of Chucky's Town is the band's second release for the White Jazz label, and it demands to be played loud, loud, LOUD!!! The album kicks off with the dynamic "Killing The Truth" and then proceed on to the hysterical, anthem-like "Who's F*cking Who." "Generation Sin," "Dying On My Own," and "Six Days In Chucky's Town" are also highlights, demonstrating that Psychopunch can deliver a mighty wallop with their hypersonic tunes. Filled with attitude, driving hooks and louder than hell guitar noise, Psychopunch are sure to please any fan of old style punk. A release well worth seeking out!


    The Reign Of Terror may sound like Euro-power metal, but the band hails from the States and features four very talented musicians. Sacred Ground is their third album, and it's required for all fans of powerful melodic hard rock and metal. Joe Stump first and foremost is a guitar virtuoso supreme, and Sacred Ground is filled with his creative soloing. While Stump has many times to shine in the spotlight, his visionary work fits in well with the song structures and are always exciting to hear. The vocals, as handled by Michael Vescera, are filled with inspiration and passion. Vescera's prior vocal work includes stints with Loudness and the Yngwie Malmsteen band. From the killer opening track "Save Me" to their cover of the Rainbow classic "Kill The King," Joe Stump and company demonstrate a musical prowess that many current bands sound take note of. "Set Us Free" and "Hellbound" are dynamic album tracks while "Dante's Danza" features brilliant acoustic guitar work. "Still Holding On" is heavy and dark, filled with a vivid moodiness that will jolt the senses! This is one Reign Of Terror that metal fans the world over will want to experience. Fans of Steel Prophet and New Eden should really enjoy this album.

    RESIDUE DEMO by RESIDUE (Self Released)

    Dude, I saw these guys perform at the Milwaukee Metalfest and thought they were pretty groovin' - and not just because I had a contact high from sitting in an auditorium full of potheads! The name of the band is Residue, and they play a sludgy brand of stoner rock that could awaken the dead. Their new five song demo has just come out, and it's bound to gain them a massive amount of recognition. Engineered by Frank Pigott, the recording is atmospheric and filled with distorted sounds and thrashing riffs. Vocalist/guitarist John is our storyteller, relaying his dark tales through a thick smoke of musical mayhem and sonic noise. Matt on bass supplies a pulsating low end like no other, while drummer Drew pounds out those gritty rhythms. The sounds are dark and dirty, with "Playing God," "Lower," and "Milk and Honey" being the most impressive. And be sure to stay on for the very end of this bad ass ride be sure to listen to the hidden track - their cover of "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain is inspired and unexpected. If you are into stoner rock, then Residue is highly recommended. The curious are also encouraged to light a doobie and check these guys out as well. Info:

    ANCIENT FUTURE bty RESISTANT (Seventh Generation Records)

    Based out of Los Angeles, Resistant take various musical influences and come up with compelling tunes that should excite music fans everywhere. Mixing a hardcore punk sound with sonic nu-metal influences, there is a DIY feel to the project that makes it exhilarating to hear. The lyrics contained on Ancient Future will inspire thought, while the music will provoke mosh pits wherever they go. "Strike," "Resist/Refuse" and "Boss" are highlights featured on Ancient Future. Resistant is one of the most promising acts to come out of LA in along while, and those who like Rage Against the Machine, Earth Crisis and more extreme forms of metal will have a brand new band to rally around. Ancient Future is a passionate work from musicians who want to both challenge and entertain the masses. Info:!

    KOZMOS by SILENCER (NTT Records Group)

    Silencer is a band from Golden, Colorado whose brand new EP Kozmos is destined to draw the attention of metalheads throughout the universe. Describing themselves as "cosmic power thrash," these guys play with the confidence and professionalism that more well established acts exude. Quite frankly, Silencer will kick your wimpy ass into the next solar system! The five songs contained on Kozmos are complete thrashers in the Sodom/Kreator vein, with only a moment of Metallica-like melodics half way through the disc --and then the additional assaults ensue once more. With its monstrous guitar work, driving rhythm section and killer vocals, Silencer are definitely headed towards the big time. All songs showcased on Kozmos are top notch and will leave the headbangings wanting a hell of a lot more. Check out their website at and become acquainted with this thrashing kosmik metal machine.


    Spirit Caravan perform sludgy doom rock that will reverberate through your stereo system and then jump out at you without warning. Featuring Wino of The Obsessed and St. Vitus, Spirit Caravan play it loud and hard, penetrating the head and soul with it's driving kaleidoscope of psychedelic sounds. "Retroman" trips like a classic about to break out, and tunes like "Futility's Reasons" and "The Departure" are filled with lyrical wisdom that will surely provoke thought. The trio who make up Spirit Caravan fill the air with a lurid heaviness, each member bringing years of experience into the mix. One of the best bands from the current stoner rock movement, Wino and Spirit Caravan continue to be innovators of this style of music and will do their granddaddies in Black Sabbath proud.

    EASY COME EASY GO by STARFLYER 59 (Tooth & Nail Records)

    One of the most prolific bands from LA who continue to write and record brilliant pop songs, Starflyer 59 has just released a two disc set containing their very best. Fans of bands such as Ride, Jesus And Mary Chain, and New Order will want to check out this collection of tunes. Disc one is all previously released material from their five albums. You could see the progression from heavily distorted guitars on to the very dreamy, hypnotic material the band is currently recording today. Disc two features various b-sides and eight songs from a live show. The mastermind behind Starflyer 59 is Jason Martin, a resourceful musician who really has a knack for composing a memorable song. Fans of Starflyer 59 will want to add Easy Come Easy Go to their collection, just for the fantastic live tracks alone. Those into catchy alternative music with plenty of feeling of depth will be in for a pleasant surprise with Easy Come Easy Go. All material on this collection was recorded between 1994-2000 and features the production work of the late, great Gene Eugene. Highly recommended!

    LEAVE HERE A STRANGER by STARFLYER 59 (Tooth & Nail Records)

    One of the most prolific bands in Orange County, Starflyer 59 constantly release albums that challenge the senses. Leave Here A Stranger finds Starflyer in a melancholy, reflective mood, delving into the uneasiness founder member Jason Martin feels about the constant strains an artist is under. There is a haunting emptiness to the soothing music that is devastating, like a creator trying to find the passion and spirit within his art. "All My Friends Who Play Guitar," "Give Up The War" and the title cut are among the best tunes Martin has ever written. In the end, the latest Starflyer 59 album is cathartic and inspiring, with "Your Company" showing the hope and redemption one usually finds in the writing process. Leave Here A Stranger is a deeply personal piece of work, and will move and enchant those who have ever felt like giving up on it all. The hypnotic guitars, calming vocals and sweeping tones are memorable works from the soul that many will want to listen to several times over. All this, and it's recorded in glorious mono! The flight of Starflyer 59 continues on into oblivion, and all fans of thoughtful alternative music should hitch a ride…


    Stavesacre and Denison Marrs don't seem to have a lot in common, but the songs they perform on the simply titled Split/E.P. will impress older fans and new converts alike. While awaiting new music from Stavesacre, the three tracks they contribute show a band continuing to become more user friendly while retaining their sharp edgy sound. "Night Town" is especially promising and sounds like a KROQ staple in the making. Denison Marrs is more on the pop side of things, and the three tracks they deliver are extremely infectious. "The New Droan (Light Years Away)" is a stand-out, another song that should see some airplay if Velvet Blue had the money to buy their way onto the radio. There's a world outside of alternative radio that has a vast playlist of independent bands well worth checking out. Stavesacre and Denison Marrs are two such groups, and the Split/E.P. is a fine introduction to some cool music you may have been missing. The EP will only be available at their various live shows and through the folks at Velvet Blue, so be sure to snag yourself a copy and make a small investment in the local music scene. Info:!

    BOOK OF THE DEAD by STEEL PROPHET (Nuclear Blast Records)

    The roots of Steel Prophet starts in the 80's, with founding member Steve Kachinsky on guitar and the idea of becoming one of the best in a long line of LA power metal bands. With their latest effort Book Of The Dead, it looks like Steel Prophet has fulfilled that vision. The twelve songs featured are outstanding and diverse, featuring some of the best musicians to ever come out of the Los Angeles scene. Their show at last year's November To Dismember was memorable, and many of the songs on Book Of The Dead will be hard to get out of one's head as well. "When Six Was Nine" opens the Book Of The Dead, and you instantly know you're in for a dynamic experience. "Church Of Mind" starts with a lovely flamenco-like guitar and then thrashes all out. "Burning Into Blackness" is an awesome power ballad, the type of song that many current metal bands have forgotten how to play. And at the end of the album is the short but clever "Oleander" - a strange yet endearing finale. Rick Mythiasin's vocal performance is devastating, while the guitar work of Steve Kachinsky and Jim Williams is powerful and inventive. The killer rhythm section consists of Vince Dennis on bass and Karl Roqvist on drums. Those into the very best in power metal must check out Book Of The Dead by Steel Prophet! It's awesome that our local scene has a band like Steel Prophet existing - too bad these guys don't play out live more…

    III by STINKING LIZAVETA (Tolotta Records)

    Although Stinking Lizaveta are a trio of musicians, what these guys (and gal) do for instrumental music is inspiring. There is never a dull moment when Stinking Lizaveta are jamming away, whether it's the rock and roll freestyle of "War Of The Worlds," the whacked-out stoner doom anthem "Naked And Alone," or the hypnotic "Diana." The guitar work of Yanni Papadopoulos is swirling, invigorating, and thoroughly original. Alexi Papadopoulos fills the low end on stand-up bass admirably. Cheshire Agusta plays the drums with a dead-on precision, showing that a woman's touch need not always be light and airy, but filled with fire and passion.

    III is a grand adventure in wondrous sound, showing a lot of ingenuity and skill in the process. There is little wonder why Stinking Lizaveta is such an underground sensation. In addition to the grand old-fashioned rock and roll on hand, the black and white photography on the album is excellent, enhancing the overall listening atmosphere. There is even a picture of all three members posing with their dogs, and on the album, one song each immortalizes the canines named Davis, Kira, and Shu Shu. Stinking Lizaveta themselves have immortalized instrumental music, and will thrill all adventurous enough to seek out their outstanding work. A stunning recording that will enchant all music lovers the world over...


    While Svartahrid's previous album Forthcoming Storm featured majestic keyboards tinkering all over the place, their latest masterpiece will simply have none of that! As The Sunrise Flickers is the band's second album, a stark piece of old fashioned Viking/Black Metal. Hailing from Norway, Svartahrid continue to show why they will soon be one of the genre's metal elite. Featuring members of Mactatus, Svartahrid present a harsh brutality that was only hinted at on their previous effort. The sounds are intense -- the guitars drive through your soul in a disquieting fashion while the rhythm section pulsates throughout the mind. With the keyboards being virtually non-existent, the stripped down assaults render the band even more powerful than ever. Songs like "By The Northwind," "Relentless," and "Never To Fall" are powerful and should excite head banging types the world over. No second album slump here, As The Sunrise Flickers by Svartahrid could be the breakthrough album for this intensive Norwegian trio.

    URKRAFT by THYRFING (Hammerheart Records)

    The Viking Metal of Thyrfing is adventurous and inspiring, mixing black metal with infectious Scandinavian folk passages. Similar to bands such as Enslaved and Amon Amarth, Thyrfing can really send the listener on a journey through time with their majestic sounds. Urkraft is their latest masterpiece, a haunting work of extreme art that chills the senses. One can almost imagine the Viking-lore visuals while listening to tracks such as "Mjolner," "Sweoland Conqueror," and "Home Again." The musicians seem passionate about their music and heritage, and it spills out all over every verse performed throughout the mighty Urkraft. The album closes with a dynamic cover of the Gary Moore song "Over The Hills And Far Away," with clean vocals and a sense of wide-eyed wonderment. A superb collection of tunes fans the world over will cherish, and a great introduction to Viking Metal for the unconverted.

    WORLD OF GLASS by TRISTANIA (Napalm Records)

    On World Of Glass, Tristania go far beyond other goth outfits such as Sins Of Thy Beloved and Theater Of Tragedy, and will now become what all others must be compared with. On this, their third album, Tristania unleash a neo-romantic world of dark visions embellished by thunderous choirs, fiery guitars, growling rants, hypnotic keyboard work. and the heavenly vocal performances of Vibeke Stene.

    The disc opens on an all-out note with "The Shining Path," a wondrous composition that will instantly stun the listener with its sheer epic ambitiousness. "Wormwood" is up next, a compelling mood piece featuring quiet moments mixed with bombastic choral arrangements. "Tender Trip On Earth" is highly accessible, with a memorable refrain that will dwell within the dark recesses of your mind for ages. "Lost" blasts at you - heavier than hell featuring rave-like keyboards that pulsate throughout the entire song. "Deadlocked" is lush and romantic while "Selling Out" is a masterwork of sadness and despair with the words talking about "an overdose of nothingness." There is even a cover contained within - "The Modern End" by obscure Norwegian band Seigman is a celebration of art and nature. The music continues to enchant with each and every track, taking you on a journey that you'll want to play continuously. The disc has been stuck in my CD player for quite some time, and I don't expect it find its way back into the case anytime soon.

    Ms. Stene's vocals are the best part of Tristania, passionate and tragic, filled with a sorrow that is beyond words. Also exceptional is the keyboard work of Einar Moen, who weaves a magical spell throughout the dramatic passages like a famed classical composer. Moen and guitar/death metal vocalist Anders Hoyvik Hilde have written some of the most stunning gothic metal this planet has ever heard. World Of Glass is shattering, and will help to make Tristania of Norway known and respected all over the world. Highly recommended!!!


    Between 1971-1975, glitter and glam music rocked the world with its inventive delivery and excessive lifestyle. Individuals like Gary Glitter and Suzy Quatro had their moments of notoriety while bands like The Sweet, Slade, T Rex, and Mott The Hopple became household names. And then of course there was Mr. Ziggy Stardust - the great David Bowie who remains as popular and influential today as he was when the glitter and glam movement thrived. And now, courtesy of legendary radio personality Rodney Bingenheimer and a vast array of talented musicians, the whole time period has returned with a glamorous vengeance. The album is called Blockbuster and it's a tribute to those long gone wild times.

    Blockbuster opens with "Rock And Roll Part 2," a Gary Glitter song performed by the Tube Tops 2000, all-star line up including Bingenheimer, Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go's. Eric Erlandson of Hole, and Clem Burke of Blondie. Otherstarpeople pay tribute to David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust with their rollicking, all-out cover of "Suffragette City." A much grimmer portrayal of the age is Cyclefly's version of Bowie's apocalyptic "Five Years." Ziggy is paid his due yet again with Pillbox's sexy rendition of "Moonage Daydream." Nick Heyward (formerly of Haircut 100) performs an infectious version of T Rex's "Hot Love," while Dramarama rocks out with another T Rex classic "Raw Ramp." Even the drag queens get into the act, as their group World Dominatrix performs "Angel Face" by The Glitter Band, the album's campiest highlight. The vocals are performed with a fierce attitude by the likes of Jackie Beat, Torment, Eva Destruction, and Mistress Formika. The album closes out with The Donnas delivering a too cool version of "Wig Wam Bam" originated by The Sweet. Blockbuster is easily one of the best in the long line of tribute albums being released this year, and is just as fun as the musical period it so bravely portrays - an age in rock and roll that we're unlikely to see again.


    Helloween is an incredible band who has influenced many a speed metal band over the years. And with The Keepers Of Jericho, Helloween is saluted by 13 of the best metal groups the genre has to offer. Several of the tracks are just as good as the originals that they are paying tribute to. The Keepers Of Jericho kicks off with "Guardians" performed by Rhapsody - an exciting introduction from a band that is gaining a lot of fans in their own right. Rhapsody guitarist Luca Turilli also contributes an inspiring version of "I'm Alive" that is a thrill to the ears. "I Want Out" is performed by Sonata Arctica, featuring a unique vocal interpretation. Another highlight is Dark Moor's astounding version of the epic "Halloween," featuring the soaring vocals of Elisa. Secret Sphere's glorious rendition of "How Many Tears" closes the album on a mighty, adventurous note! Other bands that appear on The Keepers Of Jericho include Brainstorm, Labyrinth, Cydonia, Squealer, and several others. The songs featured are from The Keeper Of The Seven Keys series and other early work. All fans of Helloween must find a copy of this outstanding tribute disc and prepare to do the pumpkin rock once again! No doubt the guys in Helloween must be really pleased with this one.


    Like a hefty dose of classic rock favorites, the 16 tracks featured on the Legendary Harley Davidson Road Songs CD will bring back more than just memories on your motorbike. There's everything from Dio-era Black Sabbath ("Neon Knights") to hard rock classics such as "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple, "The Boys Are Back In Town" by Thin Lizzy, "Don't Fear The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult, and "Roll On Down The Highway" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Other tunes which rock on this disc include "Crazy On You" by Heart, "Move It On Over" by George Thorogood and The Destroyers, "Rock You Like A Hurricane" by Scorpions, and "Touch Of Grey" by the legendary Grateful Dead. It's the ultimate K-Tel collection that you'll want to spin many times over. Songs such as these live on forever! A great collection for your home, car, and of course motorcycle riding in those wide-open spaces.


    The Scorpions have dozens of great songs and are long overdue for a tribute album worthy of their talent and reputation. And with all the considerable star power Nuclear Blast could find, A Tribute To The Scorpions features 19 tracks by some of today's finest bands. The disc opens with "He's A Woman, She's A Man" covered by the mighty Helloween. While this cut may also be found on Helloween's Metal Jukebox album, nearly every song recorded on this tribute is an exclusive track.

    Therion perform a sweeping, operatic version of "Polar Nights," with their trademark orchestra and choirs featured prominently throughout. "Passion Rules The Game" is given the gothic treatment by To/Die/For while Children Of Bodom rock out with their interpretation of "Don't Stop At The Top." The Scorpions best known hit "Rock You Like A Hurricane" is included twice, covered with impressive female vocals by Sinergy as well as by the infamous S.O.D. Los Angeles bands fair exceedingly well on this album, with Agent Steel covering "Dark Lady" and Steel Prophet performing a rousing rendition of "Top Of The Bill." Other participants include Stratovarius, Metalium, Sonata Arctica, Paradox, and Seven Witches. A thoroughly impressive tribute for a band that has inspired many over the years and shall continue to do so throughout these metal ages.

    ACTIVATOR by VELOCITY (Dreamscape Musical Group/Accelerator Records)

    Velocity play old fashioned rock and roll tinged with an 80's metal sound and their latest effort is an EP of five songs entitled Activator. Founder David Victor is quite a talented singer/songwriter, and demonstrates his knack for a catchy tune with awesome songs such as "You," "Strange" and the thoroughly outstanding "Beautiful And Useless." Based out of Los Angeles, Victor has seen success in various places around the world but has yet to conquer the American market. With melodic metal coming back in full force, it will only be a matter if time before Victor and his band Velocity are discovered here in the States. My only complaint about Activator is that the recording is over before you know it, leaving the listener wanting more. Velocity will be playing Ultrasound this year and, if their show is as outstanding as the music on Activator, those in attendance will be in for a real treat!


    Virgin Steele's first album came out in 1982 and they've been heeding the call ever since, playing neo-classical metal when bands like Hammerfall and Rhapsody where still in diapers. And now, in this 21st century, Virgin Steele has released their most challenging work to date.

    The House Of Atreus Act II is not so much a sequel, but a continuation from an earlier work. Described as a Barbaric-Romantic opera, Atreus II is a grand Greecian tragedy where virtually everyone dies or suffers exquisitely amongst the ruins of an ancient time. The story is sweeping and passionate, and is told within the wondrous confines of the two disc set. Starting right of with the anthem-like "Wings Of Vengeance," Virgin Steele take the listener on an unforgettable musical adventure. Founding member David DeFeis has a dynamic voice that can convey the emotions felt by the various characters. The vocals are accompanied by music influenced by both classic rock and old school British metal. DeFeis is one of the most underrated composers in the metal field today and on Atreus II, he is responsible for all vocals, keyboards, bass guitars and the imaginative orchestrations. Also participating on this volume are Edward Pursino (guitars) and Frank Gilchriest (drums). Together, these fine musicians present a visionary work of theatrical rock and roll magnificence.

    From the mighty choruses to the serene instrumentals, Atreus II by Virgin Steele pushes the boundaries of metal even further than before. A dramatic, epic story is offered here, and those willing to encounter greatness (not to mention an interesting tale of betrayal and intrigue) will reap the finest of earthly rewards.


    From the depths of the New York death metal scene, Withered Earth come swinging at you like a sledgehammer from hell. Although once having members of Malevolent Creation and Incantation within their ranks, the current line-up rates right up there with the very best the genre has to offer. Heavier than hell and technical to the hilt, Withered Earth are destined to win over many fans of brutal metal with their psychotic Into The Deepest Wounds release. A blistering attack of monstrous sound, tunes that are bound to fester within your brain for ages include "I Am Despair," "Remnants Of Unfruitful Existence," and "From Whence The Flesh We Conquer." The triple guitar assault gives the music a combative feel, while the rhythm section beats the listener into utter submission. And then there's the harsh vocals, guttural and filled with despair and vengeance. Withered Earth is the soundtrack for the next world war - an apocalyptic style of death and grind that will cause chaos throughout the vast musical wasteland.


    HEAD OF THE DECEIVER by WIZARD (Limb Music Products/SPV)

    Although Head Of The Deceiver is the fourth album from Wizard, the band is barely known here in the States. Thanks to the folks at Limb and SPV, now music fans from near and afar can hear the powerhouse speed metal these musical wizards conjure up. True heavy metal warriors to the very core, Wizard really know how to deliver the anthems, with "Defenders Of Metal" and "Magic Potion" being the highlights. "Demon Witches" is another stand-out that should get the masses banging their heads furiously. The Wizard history dates all the way back to 1989, yet these German musicians perform with the energy and passion of a brand new band that will not stop until world domination is achieved. The final track is entitled "True Metal" and it's a fitting message from a band determined to spread the news of rock and roll glory to fans all over the world. The guitar work by Michael Maass is outstanding and filled with a sense of adventure. Sven D'Anna's vocals are first rate, while bass player Volker Leson and drummer Snoppi Denn make up a thunderous rhythm section. Head Of The Deceiver is an exciting effort from a band who has a bright future ahead of them. And after 12 years, this recognition is a long overdue. All hail the mighty warriors of Wizard!

    (SELF-TITLED) by ZAO (Solid State Records)

    Since their first signing to Solid State back in 1997, Zao has been through several line-up changes, yet continue to spew forth compelling, innovative pieces of musical art. Their latest, (Self-Titled), is their most thrilling effort yet, a brutal mixture of hardcore, death and grind that easily goes beyond limited categorical descriptions. As vocalist Dan Weyandt explains, "I've always been influenced by writers lie Johnny Cash and Nick Cave. Both wrote about three major themes: love, God and murder." The lyrics contained within are sad and nightmarish, yet manage to remain ultimately positive. In addition to the excellent grinding songs such as "Five Year Winter" and "At Zero," Zao is not afraid to experiment with their sound. "FJL" is a surprisingly tender moment amongst the chaos and "The End Of His World" contains some nu-metal rap style lyrics that embellish upon the tune's relentless drive. "The Dreams That Don't Come True" is also a highlight, featuring melancholy vocals that suddenly turn into a murderous assault on the senses. Fans of Zao will not be disappointed and others who are into underground metal will find a lot to like about (Self-Titled). A masterpiece of thought and noise that is well worth checking out.


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    ABIGOR: Prolific Black Metal from Austria!!
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    AYREON: Composer of the Universal Migrator!!
    BEHEADED: Brutal Death Metal from Malta!!
    BLACK STEEL: Power metal from Australia!!
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    FINNTROLL: Adventurous Folkish Black Metal!!
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    HAMMERHEART AMERICA: Home to Havayoth, Cruchan and many more!!
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    ORBIT: Their official Home Page!
    PSYCHOPUNCH: Cool-ass punk rawk from Sweden!
    RESIDUE: Stoner/Sabbath-style rock from Birmingham, Alabama!!
    REVELATION RECORDS: Home to The Nerve Agents, Gameface and more!!
    SILENCER: Cosmic power thrash from Colorado!
    TOLOTTA RECORDS: Home of the Dead Meadow!!
    VIRGIN STEELE: Barbaric-romantic metal from the underground legends!