Album review: Decadence “Undergrounder” | Terrific Swedish thrash metal

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

New album “Undergrounder” brings Decadence to the front of the current wave of Swedish thrash metal bands.

Decadence’s “Undergrounder” album is mostly made up of thrash metal played at breakneck speed. I really like it. It has a sound foundation in classic 80s Bay Area thrash metal but with a modern touch to it. It is also, for the most part, a tad bit more melodic than much of the old-school thrash metal.

The Swedish thrash metal scene seems to be on the verge of something very interesting with new bands appearing and old revitalised bands doing new things. Decadence is at the very front of that crowd together with bands such as Ice Age and Tyranex.

Decadence formed in 2003 when guitarist Metallic Kitty Saric, at the time only 16 years old, started singing. In 2004, they put together their first demo and in 2005 they released their self-titled debut album. They quickly released their follow-up album in the same year. Now they are back with “Undergrounder”, the band’s fifth studio album and it kicks ass.

The track “Undergrounder” is one of the best tracks here, but the fierce “Manifesto” is my favourite on this album. Bloody hell, the energy and relentlessness on that track is terrific. “The Inner Circle” has a similar attacking energy to it.

Metallic Kitty has that great pissed-off attitude in her voice. The band has an easily recognisable sound: great melodies, fantastic riffing and shredding guitars, a tight rhythm section and then that angry voice coupled with plenty of energy. All of that packaged together into one fine thrash metal album containing eight strong songs.

In addition to the core duo of Kitty Saric and Kenneth Lantz, on this album Decadence has brought in Lawrence Dinamarca from Nightrage as a session drummer. With such a strong album in the market, I reckon that Decadence sooner rather than later need to have a full band line-up and get out on the road with this music. This music is too good to not be performed at clubs and festivals this year.

Decadence’s “Undergrounder” is out now via Heavy Dose. Buy it. It’ll make you play air guitar and headbang.

www.facebook.com/decadencesweden / www.decadence.se

Album review: Nightrage “The Venomous”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Greek-Swedish melodic death metal band Nightrage is back with a great new album combining brutality and heaviness with catchy melodies.

Nightrage’s new album is rather heavy yet still melodic with some great guitar riffs. Genre wise they live next door to Arch Enemy. Like Arch Enemy, Nightrage is an international band with its base in southern Sweden combining heavy music with aggressive vocals and some fantastic melodies, choruses, hooks and riffs. Nightrage’s new album, “The Venomous”, is the band’s seventh studio album since they formed in 2000.

Nightrage has a long list of well-known former members, including Gus G (Ozzy Osbourne, Firewind), Tomas Lindberg (At the Gates, The Crown), Olof Mörck (Amaranthe, Dragonland), Johan Nunez (Firewind, Gus G), Nick Barker (Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Brujeria), Jesper Strömblad (CyHra, In Flames, HammerFall), Brice LeClercq (Dissection, Satyricon), Per Møller Jensen (The Haunted) and many more.

Those players are no longer in the band which now consists of Marios Iliopoulos (who founded the band with Gus G) and Magnus Söderman on guitars, Anders Hammer on bass, Ronnie Nyman on vocals and Lawrence Dinamarca on drums. Make no mistake about it: Nightrage are better than ever and on this album none of the former members are missed. The current line-up of the band delivers.

The title track is one of the better songs on a very solid and even album. Some of the heavier songs, like “In Abhorrence”, “From Ashes into Stone” and “Affliction” are also my favourites. The very fast track “The Blood” is bleeding terrific. The album closes with “Denial of the Soul”, a calmer instrumental piece.

Nightrage’s album “The Venomous” is out now on Despotz Records.

www.facebook.com/nightrage / www.nightrage.com

Album review: Argus Megere “VEII”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Romania’s Argus Megere has released a new album filled with terrific atmospheric dark music.

The Romanian misanthropic black metal band Argus Megere has been around for over two decades. They unleashed their first demo in 1997 and now they have just released their fourth studio album. It is a good one.

The album “VEII” contains only four tracks but they are long epic songs, each more than ten minutes long. More importantly, they are great songs. There are some fabulous extended instrumental parts on the songs that make this stand out from the crowd. As is often the case in black metal, there are also some folk or pagan-like touches here and there. There are also medieval sounding choirs and chanting, church bells and fine melodies. All set in a dark landscape far beyond the valleys of hope. The album has a feeling of being a soundtrack to a depressing film. Like a journey to a funeral or the aftermath of a lost battle. There is an air of hopelessness about this music.

Some of the music on the album is on the slower side, much slower and less brutal than many other black metal bands. At times it feels a bit more like progressive rock crossed with extreme metal. There are plenty of keyboards being used, which – together with some of the guitar work – perhaps is what makes this a bit proggy. While it isn’t terribly brutal music, it is haunting and disturbing and beautifully dark. Overall it is a well-balanced mix of slower and faster parts, quite a nuanced piece o work. Vocally we get a wide range with your typical high-pitched black metal singing, but also some growls and clean singing. The end result is a rather varied album, a great soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist.

Argus Megere’s “VEII” is out now on Loud Rage Music.

www.facebook.com/argusmegere / www.facebook.com/loudragemusic

Album review: Liv Sin “Follow Me”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish rock band Sister Sin may be dead and buried – but long live vocalist Liv Sin. She’s back with a fabulous solo album packed with great heavy metal.

When Swedish rockers Sister Sin called it quits at the end of 2015 after some 13 years, vocalist Liv Sin decided to go solo. Now her solo album is about to be released and what a solo debut it is. To stop singing was never an option for Liv and we are grateful for that. On this album, Liv is backed up by a quality band consisting of guitarists Patrick Ankermark (Viktoria Haze, The Hellshake, T-virus) and Chris Bertzell (Unangel, Three Days In Darkness, Esoteria), bassist Tommie Winther (Refuel) and drummer Per Bjelovuk (Aggressive Chill, Cowboy Prostitutes).

Live Sin’s solo debut “Follow Me” is a rock solid album: high energy, riff heavy and in your face. Liv Sin wants your attention.

Musically, Live Sin has a foundation in proper 80s heavy metal but with a modern touch. It is sort of a cross of W.A.S.P. (think those great melodies), Accept and Iron Maiden (think those guitar riffs and the bundles of energy) with some Judas Priest on top. It’s “The Last Command” and “Metal Heart” baked into one and served with a side dish of “Painkiller”. With that foundation and the addition of Liv’s voice, this album is fabulous. Liv’s voice is powerful and she’s got attitude and plenty of talent.

For the album’s production, Liv has taken help from Fitty Wienhold (U.D.O.) and Stefan Kaufmann (ex-Accept, ex-U.D.O.), which probably has not hurt that fantastic grounding in 80s heavy metal. But make no mistake about it, she still manages to sound current and relevant. This is no retro album.

The single “Let Me Out” is an anthem and a potential hit. “Godless Utopia” is fantastically energetic and bombastic with some Megadeth touches to it. In “Immortal Sin”, a cover of a song by Rob Halford’s old band Fight, Liv Sin walks into Sisters of Mercy territory thanks to the gothic guest vocals of Jyrki 69 from Finnish band The 69 Eyes. Not bad at all.

But most of this album is metal to the bone. Another star guest is Schmier from German thrash metal veterans Destruction who appears on “Killing Ourselves To Live”. “Emperor of Chaos” and ”Hypocrite” are the album’s most brutal and perhaps best songs. Relentless heaviness, just the way we like it.

Liv Sin’s “Follow Me” will be released via Despotz Records on 28th April.

 

www.liv-sin.com

www.facebook.com/livsinmusic

Album review: Tyranex “Death Roll” | 80s-style thrash metal from Sweden

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Sweden’s Tyranex gives us old-school thrash metal on its brand new album, “Death Roll”. Nothing has happened since the 80s here and that’s a good thing.

Tyranex is all about straightforward, old-school thrash metal played very fast, just the way we like it. When listening to Tyranex’s new album, it is obvious that absolutely nothing has happened since the 80s here. Great stuff.

The vocalist sounds pissed off like a mistreated cat on a hot tin roof. You probably don’t want to make this lady cross or she’ll get her claws out. Her in-your-face vocals fit the music like a glove. The music on this album is fast and furious, at times running into speed metal territory. There are bundles of energy bursting out here.

When I listen to this the first time, it reminds me somewhat of Ice Age, the Swedish thrash metal veterans from the mid-80s. I soon find out why: vocalist and guitarist Linnea Landstedt plays in both bands. In Tyranex she is joined by Nino Vukovic on guitar, Majsan Lindberg on bass and Pontus Pettersson-Gull on drums.

“Death Roll” is the band’s third album and if you like 80s thrash metal, this is rock solid. The title track is a hit and another favourite here is the track “Bloodflow” and “Blade of the Sacrificer” is so fast and angry it makes me exhausted. This is angry kick-ass music. I love this band. You should too.

Tyranex’s “Death Roll” album is out now via GMR Music.

www.facebook.com/tyranexband

www.tyranex.net

Album review: The Shiver “Adeline”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Italian rockers The Shiver are back with their fourth album. “Adeline” has quite a mix of influences and styles, all centred around the band’s core quality: the voice of Federica Faith Sciamanna.

The Shiver formed in 2005 and released its debut album “Inside” in 2008, followed by “A New Horizon” in 2010 and “The Darkest Hour” in 2014. The band’s musical roots are in modern alternative rock and they mix this up with a bit of Evanescence-style emotional gothic parts.

The band has an interesting female voice at the centre of the soundscape which makes them stand out from the pack. Perhaps not a coincidence as it is the vocalist Federica Faith Sciamanna who is also composing much of the band’s music. The band seems to be aware of its core strength as the new album contains great melodies built around Faith’s voice.

The Shiver’s music covers a wide area. There is a foundation in dark rock with high energy, but the band’s music has room for plenty of different styles. “Light Minutes” is one of my favourite tracks on the album. On the fantastic track “Miron-Aku” we get some proper heavy rock and on the closing track, the instrumental “Electronoose”, the band manages to combine heavy industrial rock with electro. It seems that the band won’t let genres and expectations stop them from making good music.

The album has a straightforward sound. It’s not over-produced which sadly is so often the case nowadays. Good stuff.

The Shiver’s “Adeline” album will be released on 4th April. The band will tour Europe in April and May as special guests of Sonic Syndicate.

www.facebook.com/theshiver.net

www.theshiver.net

Album review: Troubled Horse “Revolution on Repeat”

Troubled Horse. Photo: Oskar Omne

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Sweden’s Troubled Horse has released a fantastic rock album | Like a moody, no fucks given, modern Swedish hard rock version of Uriah Heep.

Troubled Horse’s new album kicks off with an energetic rocker called “Hurricane”. It sets the tone for an album that is like a wonderful cross-breed of other Swedish bands like Horisont, Spiritual Beggars, Soundtrack of Our Lives and Hellsingland Underground. Sort of like a moody, no fucks given, modern Swedish hard rock version of Uriah Heep. All these influences and ingredients are melted down and formed into something terrific they call Troubled Horse. Absolutely great stuff.

This is rock music with great melodies. This is rock you want to shout along to, music that makes you want to dance and drink beer. It has a feeling of a care-free band with a no fucks given attitude. They are here to play great rock’n’roll and nothing else matters. Troubled Horse’s greatness extends beyond great riffs and melodies to its matter of fact lyrics (such as “I know you hate me, it doesn’t bother me though”).

A clear favourite on this rock solid album is “The Haunted” with some great guitar riffs. The album also contains a great cover version of Warren Zevon’s “My Shit’s Fucked Up”. This is a sweaty, high-energy album which is rounded off with “Bleeding”, a terrific calmer melancholic track.

While there are certainly some serious 70s vibes here, heaps of stoner rock, classic hard rock and good-old garage rock, this is not a band stuck in the past. Troubled Horse is here and now, they’re relevant, they’re current. More than anything, this is a fab rock band with plenty of love for rock’n’roll.

Formed in Sweden in 2003, they debuted with a seven-inch vinyl in 2010 before releasing their first full-length album “Step Inside” in 2012. Now the follow-up album is here.

Troubled Horse’s “Revolution on Repeat” album will be released on 31st March via Rise Above Records. You should buy the record. You deserve to hear this.

www.facebook.com/troubledhorse

EP review: Alastor “Black Magic”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish doomsters Alastor have arrived on the scene with a great three-track EP.

This is an EP with three rather lengthy tracks that live in a very hazy soundscape. Alastor plays timeless doom rock. It has a stoner feeling to it with small hints of 90s alternative rock (yes, a bit of shoegazing in slow motion among the doom rock). To be more precise this sounds like a cross of early Black Sabbath riffs and heaviness blended with psych rock and stoner rock. Doomy, groovy and dusty, this is a great soundtrack to your life, whether it is miserable or top of the world. “Black Magic” works equally well to get a new day going together with your morning coffee or as a soundtrack to your late-night after party.

Not much is known about this band other than that they are a bunch of musicians from the southern part of Sweden that have created a great EP. The title track is terrific and the other two tracks, the opening track “Enemy” with its extended instrumental intro, and “Nothing to Fear” are almost equally great. The fine guitar work stands out on all three songs. Lyrically and image wise, Alastor has an occult theme going on that fits very well with the music.

The EP has been recorded by Magnus Sörensen at KulturVerkstan and mixed and mastered by Hannes Heed at Black Sword Studios. The music feels timeless while the production sounds fashionably vintage (most likely intentionally).

“Black Magic” will be released via Twin Earth Records on 18th March.

www.facebook.com/alastordoom / www.facebook.com/twinearthrecords

Album review: Murkocet “Digging Mercy’s Grave”

rob_0024By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Arizona rockers Murkocet give us modern brutal American metal on their fine debut album. It’s heavy but not sinister in a great mix of styles.

The band Murkocet was formed in Arizona in 2013 by vocalist Richie Jano, guitarist Nate Garrett, drummer Mike Mays and bassist Brandon Raeburn. They have now released “Digging Mercy’s Grave”, their very solid debut album. The music is brutal, heavy and angry. But it’s not so dark or sinister.

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Something is a bit different here and I like it. There are some obvious Lamb of God influences here, but there’s more to it than that. One of the tracks, “Strip Club Massacre”, has been selected as a soundtrack for a horror movie. Despite that, I don’t see too much darkness here. This is not evil, but it is aggressive in a hardcore punk sort of way (a small whiff of Suicidal Tendencies perhaps).

This very competent band certainly plays a form of modern extreme metal, but there are plenty of “normal” heavy metal guitars on the songs on this album. Those guitars make Murkocet’s music more melodic and accessible while the songs still remain very heavy and mostly brutal. This is very good and modern American metal with some serious groove.

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“California Smile” is an obvious favourite and the furious “Repo Man” (brutal rock’n’roll) is perhaps the album’s best track. The album’s eleven tracks are all good and make this a very solid debut album by a very promising band.

Murkocet’s “Digging Mercy’s Grave” is out now.

www.murkocetband.com / www.facebook.com/murkocetmetal

Album review: Svart Crown “Abreaction”

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By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

French blackened death metal band Svart Crown is back with a fierce new album. Angry as hell, possessed, heavy and darker than dark.

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“Abreaction” is the Nice-based band Svart Crown’s fourth full-length studio album. Since the last album, 2013’s “Profane”, half the band has left. JB Le Bail (vocals and guitar) is still the ringleader and bassist Ludovic Veyssière is his right-hand man. They have been joined by drummer Kévin Paradis and guitarist Kevin Verlay, both from the band Agressor (they are now on double duty playing in both bands). Based on the new album, the new line-up works great. They’re tight, precise and brutal.

The album starts on the slow side with “Golden Sacrament”, which is a slow-paced, doom-laden and atmospheric intro. Then the mayhem starts. “Carcosa” is a full-on assault of musical aggression. But in the middle of the chaos there is a glimmer of hope with some fine guitar playing appearing among all the rubble. “The Pact: To the Devil His Due” is one of the album’s best tracks. It’s dark and heavy extreme metal, but with a bit of a doom-feel to it as it grooves along. It’s a rather interesting mix of styles that works well. In the middle of the track, everything stops and we get some medieval chants before the song gets back on track again. Great stuff. This terrific dark mix of brutal assaults and slower doom parts continues throughout this possessed album. “Khimba Rites” has some great guitar work that gives the song something extra while the sinister and somewhat Behemoth-like “Orgasmic Spiritual Ecstasy” is an obvious favourite song. “Nganda” closes a fantastic album in pure fierceness.

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Svart Crown’s “Abreaction”, recorded in Paris by French producer Francis Caste, is out now on Century Media.

www.facebook.com/svartcrown