Album review: Neuroticos “Kill for God”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks 

Brazilian-Japanese death metal band Neuroticos is finally releasing its debut full-length studio album some 15 years after forming. The wait has been worth it. This is one crushing metal album without compromises.

Formed in Hiroshima, Japan in 2004, Neuroticos is led by Brazilian brothers Bruno Dias Matsuda (vocals) and Kleber Dias Matsuda (guitar) and also consists of Jumpei Nakamura on bass and Yuichi Ishiguro on drums. I have seen them perform live in Tokyo a number of times and have always been impressed with their crushing delivery of this terrific kind of underground death metal. Neuroticos’ music is always brutal, crushing and without compromises. If you like your metal extreme and hard-hitting, this is a band for you. Neuroticos plays a version of metal firmly based on old-school death metal, but without sounding dated. This is not retro music. This is here and now. They have created their own music based on Brazil’s proud tradition of extreme metal. “Kill for God”, the band’s first full-length album, opens with some haunting church bells and some splendid heavy guitar riffs before the mayhem kicks off. The title track is among the album’s best tracks. It’s like being hit in the face with a metal bar and then dragged behind a getaway car. Fantastic! “Blinded by War” is another favourite track. But “Pray Until You Die” is the stand-out track on this album for me. It immediately knocks you to the ground, helps you up on your feet again, only to kick you to the ground again. Brutal! Overall “Kill for God” is a splendid album and Neuroticos is among the best of the many interesting metal bands in Japan today.

Neuroticos’ album “Kill for God” will be released on 16th June. To mark the release of the album, the band will tour Japan during July with shows in Hiroshima, Osaka, Tokyo, Sendai, Nagano, Nagoya and Sapporo. 

www.facebook.com/neuroticos.official

www.neuroticos.com

EP review: The Babes “It Ain’t Easy”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks 

Aussie rock band The Babes has a great EP out and will tour Japan this month.

“It Ain’t Easy” is a four-track EP that is a great introduction to The Babes, a good-fun rock band based in Adelaide, Australia. It’s a family business: three of the four members are siblings and their dad is their manager. Of the four great tracks on the EP, my favourite is the terrific “Ride It”, a rock song with a punk attitude. The band has opened for artists such as Ace Frehley, Hardcore Superstar, Cherie Currie and Sebastian Bach, which should give you a hint of what type of music this is. This is meat-and-potatoes rock’n’roll made to entertain. It’s straightforward party music, nothing too deep. Bring out the beers and turn up the volume. The Babes are here to give you a good time. The EP closes with “Always Ridin’” a hair metal power ballad that is a soundtrack to get laid to. They call their music “underdog rock”, but that will have to change soon as these Aussies are now winners. Live on stage these songs will be great at getting a crowd going. The band has already toured the US and extensively at home in Australia. Now they’re taking on Japan.

The Babes will play in Tokyo on Sunday 23rd June as one of the opening acts for Girlschool and Venom Inc, and will also do gigs in Tachikawa and Kyoto as well as an in-store appearance in Osaka. 

www.thebabesrock.com

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Single review: Dambusters “All the Way to Your Heart”

Dambusters. Photo: Lori Bockelken

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks 

With pedigree from Cactus, Quiet Riot, Dee Snider and Noisy Mama, American band Dambusters play straightforward, but groovy, rock’n’roll. Their first single is out today.

Freddy Villano is one of the nicest guys in American rock and also a rock-solid bassist. Having made a name for himself in the early part of his career with Quiet Riot and Dee Snider’s Widowmaker, more recently he has been releasing music with American Mafia and now with Dambusters. “All the Way to Your Heart”, the band’s first digital single, is an unpolished gem of a song. The production is raw and straightforward, no fancy stuff. And that is a good thing. This kind of music is best served straight-up and raw. Should this be repackaged in some overproduced, fancy and shiny format, it wouldn’t work. Now, as a straightforward rock song performed more or less live in the studio, it sounds great. In Dambusters, Villano has teamed up with guitarist Jimmy Gumina (Noisy Mama), drummer Vic Pullen (Larry Mitchell, Francis Dunnery) and a guest appearance by vocalist Jimmy Kunes (Cactus, Savoy Brown). Having also heard some more yet unreleased songs from the same studio sessions, it is obvious that the Dambusters boys have something interesting going on here. There is pedigree, know-how and also chemistry. This is blues-based hard rock performed by a bunch of seasoned rockers. It’s good stuff.

Dambusters’ single “All the Way to Your Heart” is out today.

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Album review: Xentrix “Bury the Pain”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks 

British band Xentrix is back with a new line-up and a terrific album of excellent thrash metal.

British thrash metal band Xentrix may not be known to the masses, but they formed already back in 1985. They are perhaps best known for their tongue-in-cheek thrash metal version of the “Ghostbusters” theme song. But gimmicks aside, it is very evident on their new album “Bury the Pain” that this is a quality thrash metal band. They have both the musical skills and the songs to be real contenders. Xentrix’s music is firmly rooted in old-school thrash metal, but they do not sound dated at all. They have brought the classic thrash metal sound with them to here and now. 

New vocalist Jay Walsh’s voice reminds me a lot about how Dee Snider sounds on his latest album, 2018’s “For the Love of Metal”. The more I listen to Xentrix I realise that the music is also not miles away from the songs on Snider’s album. Just listen to the fantastic song “There Will Be Consequences” and it oozes Dee Snider. It’s as if someone has listened to Snider’s album and decided to do a thrash metal version of it. I don’t know if that is the case, I guess not, but the result is terrific. This is a hard-hitting thrash metal album with terrific guitars, great melodies and a vocalist that does this music justice. Bassist Chris Shires is another newcomer in the band which also includes Kristian Havard on guitar and Dennis Gasser on drums. The hard-hitting “Bleeding Out” is the highlight of the album, but there are also many more great tracks on this terrific album. In fact, there are no weak songs at all. This solid and modern thrash metal album has been produced by Judas Priest’s Andy Sneap. I dig it.

Xentrix’s album “Bury the Pain” will be released on 7th June by Listenable Records. The Japanese edition will be released by Spiritual Beast on 17th July with a bonus track. 

www.facebook.com/xentrixmetal

www.xentrix.co.uk

Album review: The Rods “Brotherhood of Metal”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks 

American band The Rods, fronted by former Elf guitarist David “Rock” Feinstein, is back with a new studio album filled with classic metal.

Vocalist and guitarist David “Rock” Feinstein, a former member of Elf and cousin of Elf bandmate Ronnie James Dio, formed The Rods in 1980 with drummer Carl Canedy. Bassist Garry Bordonaro joined soon thereafter. Initially active in the 1980s, the band reunited in 2008 and has since been touring on and off. The Rods has also been recording new music since the reunion. The new “Brotherhood of Metal” album is the follow-up to 2011’s “Vengeance”. The new album opens with the anthem-like title track “Brotherhood of Metal” which no doubt will be a live favourite. The Rods’ music is firmly based in the classic metal of the 1980s. With song titles such as “Everybody’s Rockin’”, “Louder Than Loud”, “Tyrant King”, “Party All Night”, “Tonight We Ride”, “Hell on Earth” and “Evil in Me”, it is obvious that The Rods is a band that follows a well-established metal tradition when it comes to both music and lyrics. Although there is nothing revolutionary about The Rods’ music, many of their songs are easily recognisable as The Rods. Somehow they have managed to establish somewhat of a signature sound which is not just built on Feinstein’s voice. “The Devil Made Me Do It” is my favourite track on the album, a song that I also think will be great live. The song combines great rock with fantastic guitars and a shout-along chorus. Feelgood metal!  Overall this album is filled with good and fun classic metal music. Many of the album’s eleven songs will fit in nicely in the band’s live set. I hope they will make room for them among their classic songs from their 1980s albums. 

The Rods’ album “Brotherhood of Metal” will be released on 7th June via SPV/Steamhammer.

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www.therods.com

Album review: Dogface “From the End to the Beginning”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks 

Sweden’s Dogface, with Mats Levén behind the microphone, calls it quits and marks the occasion with a terrific compilation album combining 1970s-style bluesy hard rock with 1980s-style AOR.

Dogface, a bit of a hidden Swedish gem not known to the masses, is a rock band that combines bluesy 1970s hard rock (think Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Rainbow) with the Swedish melodic hard rock of the 1980s. They top it all off with the terrific vocals of Mats Levén. The end result – great rock with some rather tasty Hammond organs among all the guitars – is great. Dogface was founded by Martin Kronlund in the late 1990s and they have released three studio albums since then. “From the End to the Beginning” is a 15-track compilation album meant to showcase the best of Dogface while at the same time mark the end of the band’s career as they have decided to call it quits. As many of you know, Mats Levén has some serious pedigree from acts such as Swedish Erotica, Treat, Candlemass, Krux, Yngwie Malmsteen, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and much more. His pipes are great at handling both the more British-style bluesy hard rock and the Swedish 80s melodic hard rock. The album’s full of songs where Levén gets to shine. “A Single Reason” is a very catchy song that puts Levén’s voice at the centre. It’s fantastic and very radio friendly. “Don’t” is another track that sounds like a radio hit. “I Will Be There” and “Alone Again” have plenty of Whitesnake echoes and so does quite a few of the songs on this album. But there’s some good variation here as well. ”Footsteps on the Moon” reminds me of some of the work Levén did with doom masters Candlemass. One of the best songs is “You’re Taking Me Down”, which was the first-ever song Levén recorded with the band. There seems to have been immediate personal and musical chemistry when Levén walked into the studio. Dogface never made it to the level of success the band members’ skills deserved. But if you are discovering this band now, at least here is a great collection of quality rock songs for you.

Dogface’s album “From the End to the Beginning” is out today via ScandiRock Records. 

www.facebook.com/dogfacetheband

Album review: Extrema “Headbanging Forever”

Extrema. Photo: Annalisa Russo

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Italian thrash metal band Extrema returns with a new singer and a hard-hitting new album. 

Veteran Italian thrash metal band Extrema has opted to name its new album “Headbanging Forever”. It’s a suitable choice as continuous headbanging is what this is all about. Heavy guitar riffing which commands its listeners to headbang. With its feet firmly stuck in the old-school thrash metal mud, Extrema has built on that foundation and added some contemporary metal touches to make this thrash metal for 2019. The music is uncompromising, while at the same time, the band isn’t worrying too much about what it is expected of them. They just get on with it and play great metal music with various influences weaved into it. Guitarist Tommy Massara formed the band in Milan in the mid-1980s. Opening for Slayer on the Italian part of the “Reign in Blood” tour got the band some early attention. Massara is now the only remaining original member of the band and this new album introduces us to the new vocalist Tiziano “Titian” Spigno. “Borders of Fire” is a clear favourite song of mine on the album, which combines great guitars with a rhythm section behaving like a bulldozer and with Spigno’s rough-but-great vocals to top it all off. The fast “For the Loved and the Lost” is another highlight, while “Invisible” has somewhat of a great Machine Head vibe to it.

Extrema’s album “Headbanging Forever” is out now via Rockshots Records.

www.extremateam.com

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Album review: Corrosive Sweden “Blood and Panic”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks 

Corrosive Sweden has released a smashing new album filled with a modern Scandinavian mix of aggressive and melodic metal.

Corrosive Sweden’s music is a modern mix of many things – some classic Megadeth-sounding riffing, a touch of The Haunted’s aggression, a pinch of Amorphis’ melodic heaviness as well as melodic parts in the proud Swedish tradition. This melting pot of musical influences has resulted in an interesting signature sound for the band. There’s plenty of angst in Johan Bengtsson’s angry vocals. His voice fits the music very well. Formed in Hudiksvall, Sweden in 1997, the band’s debut album “Wanted” was released in 2006. Since then they have released a number of albums, but it is with this new album they are taking things to a new level. Lead guitarist Christer Ulander, who joined in 2000, seems to be a driving force for the band’s evolving and guitar-happy sound. The new album opens with the fantastic “Fire from a Gun”, which sets the tone and expectations for the whole album. The modern metal track “Parasite” shows that this is an ambitious band with some great songwriting skills. “Speed” and “Angry Me” are smashing tracks that show the potential of this band. They are clearly trying to do their own thing without worrying too much about how things are “supposed” to sound in order to fit into a specific sub-category.

Corrosive Sweden’s album “Blood and Panic” is out now via BMP Records. 

www.facebook.com/corrosivesweden

www.corrosivesweden.se

Album review: Grand Magus “Wolf God”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks 

Swedish heavy metal trio Grand Magus’ ninth album is filled with muscle rock built on thunderous drums, doomy riffs and JB Christoffersson’s voice.

The Swedish metal band Grand Magus debuted in 2001 with a self-titled album. “Wolf God” is the band’s ninth full-length studio album and on it, the band continues to give us songs built on the band’s established formula of powerful and riff-happy heavy metal. Frontman JB Christoffersson is perhaps best known as the former singer for Spiritual Beggars and in Grand Magus, we also find Spiritual Beggars drummer Ludwig Witt and Fox Skinner on bass.

Lyrically, with song titles such as “Glory to the Brave”, “To Live and Die in Solitude”, “Dawn of Fire” and “Brother of the Storm”, the band roams in the same hunting grounds as Manowar and fellow Swedes Amon Amarth and Hammerfall. Musically those bands are also not miles away from Grand Magus, although Magus thankfully does not have the somewhat comical Viking/warrior image of those bands and there’s a tad bit more groove in this music. There are some doom influences here as well as old-school 70s hard rock. Thundering drums and doomy guitar riffs are topped off with JB’s voice. This is a hard rock trio with both muscles and brains playing battle music. The majestic “Spear Thrower” is the album’s highlight – kicking off with some fast guitars before JB’s voice takes control and leads from the front. “To Live and Die in Solitude” is a close second and “A Hall Clad in Gold” is also a contender. This is rather masculine music performed with power and skill. 

Grand Magus’ album “Wolf God” is out now via Ward Records in Japan and Nuclear Blast internationally.

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www.grandmagus.com

Album review: Savage Messiah “Demons”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks 

Modern British metal band Savage Messiah returns with a new album combining the proud British heavy metal tradition with contemporary melodic touches.

Britain’s Savage Messiah has created an interesting sound based on the proud British heavy metal tradition. With hints of NWOBHM and elements of thrash and speed metal, Savage Messiah still manages to sound distinctly contemporary, not least because of its modern-sounding melodic touch which can be heard on “Demons”, the band’s fifth full-length studio album since its formation in 2007. Frontman David Silver has a voice made for this type of modern metal. Combining Silver with Mira Slama on bass, David Hruska on guitar and Charly Carreton on drums, we get a fresh take on melodic metal. They somehow manage to enter that tricky space that has the potential for mainstream appeal while at the same time has a quality to it that makes the music interesting to more diehard metalheads. 

The album production on “Demons” sounds as great as it should when you have heavyweights David Castillo as a producer and Jens Bogren to mix the album. For the recording sessions, the band made use of drummers Dan Wilding (Carcass, Aborted, Heaven Shall Burn) and Ali Richardson (Bleed From Within, Sylosis). Most of the material for the album was written in the studio. People who can write this kind of high-quality music on the fly clearly have some serious talent. I absolutely love the guitars on “Down and Out”. Savage Messiah is a guitar band and throughout the album, we get some rather tasty guitar work. “The Lights Are Going Out” is almost a power ballad but thankfully with some added heaviness. My two favourite tracks on the album, “Heretic in the Modern World” and “Rise Then Fall”, are fast and modern songs. There is also a well-made cover of Chris Stapleton’s “Parachute” among the album’s eleven tracks.

Savage Messiah’s album “Demons” will be released on 10th May by Trooper Entertainment in Japan and on 17th May via Century Media Record internationally. 

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www.savagemessiahofficial.com