Album review: Mad Invasion “Edge of the World”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Sweden’s Mad Invasion combines classic 70s hard rock with 80s melodic hard rock and modern influences on its debut album.

Mad Invasion may be a name new to many music fans, but in this band, we find some seasoned musicians. Mad Invasion consists of Pete Sandberg (Alien, Madison) on vocals, Björn Dahlberg on guitar, Hal Marabel (Bad Habit) on guitar and keyboards, Mats Jeppsson (Raise Cain) on bass and Mats Bergentz (Silver Mountain, Syron Vanes) on drums. The music on the band’s ten-track debut album “Edge of the World” follows a proud Swedish tradition of melodic hard rock, although Mad Invasion has a bit more traditional 70s hard rock in its music than some of the other bands in the genre. This band has managed to establish a signature sound that is somewhat different – and better – than the typical melodic hard rock sound where it is often hard to distinguish between different bands. They all sound the same. Mad Invasion manages to avoid that. The result of their classic 70s hard rock/80s melodic hard rock combo is great and the contemporary seasoning they have added on top makes it different in a great way. Most songs on the album manage to include all those three distinct musical elements. “Walking in the Shadows” is terrifically catchy and an immediate favourite, not least due to the heavy-yet-slow guitars. “Devil’s Calling” will be released as the first single from the album and it is an obvious choice. The title track “Edge of the World” is one of the strongest tracks on the album and another stand-out track for me is “Scream’n Shout” because of its drive and energy. “Crazy & Wild” has a splendid combination of heavy guitar riffs, 80s keyboards and an addictive chorus. Overall, I think this band will go down well with fans of melodic Swedish hard rock, because this is both great and different from the pack.

Mad Invasion’s debut album “Edge of the World” will be released on 24th September. The first single “Devil’s Calling” will be released on 25th June. Pre-order the album here:

Album review: Motörhead “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith” deluxe box set

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The best-ever live album gets released in an expanded 71-song deluxe box set format! It doesn’t get any better than this! This is gold for both casual Motörhead fans and devoted Motörhead archaeologists.

Motörhead’s live album “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith” was released four decades ago and it has never been equalled. How can one possibly improve the best live album to ever be released? Well, adding a shit load of extra material and release it in a mega box set is one way to do it and that is what BMG is doing. “No Sleep” is getting a special box set release with no fewer than 71 songs! If you, like me, consider this album, originally released in 1981 via Bronze Records, as the best-ever live album, the sixty bonus tracks that are included in this box set are a terrific gift to mankind. This is gold for both casual Motörhead fans and devoted Motörhead archaeologists. This is a fab opportunity not only to hear what was arguably the band’s best-ever line-up at the peak of their creative abilities. It is also a historical document that gives some fantastic insights into where the band was at in 1980 and 1981. The band line-up for this tour was Lemmy Kilmister on bass and vocals, Fast Eddie Clarke on guitar and Philthy Animal Taylor on drums. With all members of that powerful line-up now dead, this is a terrific way to remember how good they were as a live act at that specific point in their career. They had a magnificent combination of great songs, terrific performances by fab musicians and an excellent raw energy. Motörhead was a band that always delivered throughout the years and the different line-ups, but 1980-81 was certainly one of the band’s absolute peaks. One of the best-ever hard rock bands recorded live when they were at their absolute best!

Despite name-dropping the legendary London venue Hammersmith in the album title, Motörhead didn’t play there on the “Short Sharp Pain in the Neck” tour. The original live album (which reached number one on the UK album chart) consisted of eleven tracks, most of which were recorded during shows in Newcastle and Leeds on 28th-30th March 1981 (the exception being “Iron Horse/Born to Lose” which was recorded at an unspecified location in 1980). The original live LP included two songs from their 1977 self-titled debut album (“Iron Horse/Born to Lose” and “Motörhead”), five songs from 1979’s “Overkill” (the title track plus “Stay Clean”, “Capricorn”, “No Class” and “Metropolis”), the title track from 1979’s “Bomber” and three songs from 1980’s “Ace of Spades” (the title track plus “(We Are) The Road Crew” and “The Hammer”). In addition to the songs from the original live album (here presented in remastered versions), this terrific 71-track box set offers us a couple of bonus tracks from earlier CD reissues (“Over the Top” and “Train Kept A-Rolling”) as well as the full two Newcastle shows and the Leeds show from that 1981 tour of the UK. There are also three terrific songs recorded during a soundcheck in Newcastle: “Stay Clean”, “Limb from Limb” and “Iron Horse”. Among the bonus material we get raw versions of the songs “Shoot You in the Back”, “Jailbait”, “Leaving Here” (a cover song that was the band’s debut single in 1977), “Fire, Fire”, “Too Late, Too Late”, “Bite the Bullet” and “The Chase Is Better Than the Catch”.

They were Motörhead. They played rock’n’roll. Don’t forget them.

Motörhead’s four-CD deluxe box set “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith” will be released on 25th June via BMG. The deluxe edition includes a 28-page book, poster, plectrum, tour pass, ticket, flyer and badge. Alternative 3-LP and 2-CD editions feature the new remastered songs from “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith and the full Newcastle show from 30th March 1981.

The Official Motörhead website

EP review: Death Reich “Death Camp”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Sweden’s Death Reich gives us old-school meat-and-potatoes death metal with plenty of aggression and energy.

Death Reich is a death metal band from Uddevalla, Sweden. On the “Death Camp” EP, the band’s first official release, we get two very good original songs, the title track “Death Camp” and “Hunger”. We also get the Metallica cover “Fight Fire with Fire”. Turning Metallica’s thrash metal into death metal works fine (the Swedish lads manage to put their own spin on it), but, personally, I much prefer Death Reich’s own songs, especially the splendid “Hunger”. Death Reich plays fast, furious and uncompromising death metal. It’s old-school meat-and-potatoes death metal with plenty of aggression and energy. There’s nothing polished or modern about this stenchy music. It has a terrific underground feel to it which brings me back to the late 1980s and early 90s when Sweden had a terrific local death metal scene. Death Reich consists of Jonas Blom (drums), Johnny Lehto (vocals), Christer Bergqvist (guitar), Robert Babic (guitar) and Robert Axelsson (bass). These five bearded men are part of what seems like a very promising emerging wave of newer Swedish bands playing old-school death metal. There is hope for a bleak, stenchy and aggressive future!

Death Reich’s EP “Death Camp” will be released via Non Serviam Records on 16th July.

Album review: Social Disorder “Love 2 Be Hated”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish multi-instrumentalist Anders “LA” Rönnblom teams up with Tracii Guns, Rudy Sarzo, Snowy Shaw and other stars in new classic hard rock project Social Disorder.

Swedish musician Anders “LA” Rönnblom has launched a new project called Social Disorder. The multi-instrumentalist plays guitar, bass and piano on the project’s debut album “Love 2 Be Hated” and is the project’s main songwriter. Among the many musicians contributing are guitarists Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns) and Jeff Duncan (Armored Saint), bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Dio), Dave Stone (Rainbow) on keyboards and fellow Swede Snowy Shaw (King Diamond, Mercyful Fate) on drums. The ten-track album kicks off with “Windy Road”, a slow and solid track that is somewhat of a power ballad with a dramatic side to it. Rönnblom insists that “Love 2 Be Hated” is not a concept album (although most of the lyrics on the album are a journey through the difficult parts of his life), but the opening track has all the hallmarks of the beginning of a concept album. “Dreaming” is a powerful melodic hard rock song. Very catchy, full of energy and with great guitars. The title track “Love 2 Be Hated” is another terrific track and “Raise a Glass” has excellent Jon Lord-like keyboard wizardry (as does many of the songs on the album). “Sail Away” is an epic piece of music and perhaps the peak of the album. It’s slow-paced bluesy hard rock somewhere between Rainbow and Whitesnake. “Down on My Knees” is great blues rock and “Out of Love” is very Whitesnake-y. “The One” is a piano ballad which no doubt will have its raving fans, but I prefer the heavier side of Social Disorder. The album closes with the amusing instrumental track “Wings of Serenity” where we get some instrument worshipping and wankery, but it’s still a very enjoyable track. The two things that stand out for me on this album, in addition to the solid musicianship (which is expected considering the players involved), are the splendid songwriting skills of Anders “LA” Rönnblom and the excellent voice of Thomas Nordin, a Swedish vocalist that I have never previously heard of. Who is he? Where has he been hiding? I want to hear more of him.

Social Disorder’s album “Love 2 Be Hated” will be released on 18th June via AFM Records.

Album review: Unflesh “Inhumation”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

New album from a blackened melodic death metal trio from New Hampshire.

Unflesh is a blackened melodic death metal trio from New Hampshire, USA. “Inhumation” is the band’s second album and follows their 2018 debut “Savior”. For this new album, band founder Ryan Beevers (guitar and vocals) has recruited new members Orion Hubbard on bass and Jeff Saltzman on drums. What we get here is soul-eating melodic death metal delivered with aggression and darkness. The basements of old New Hampshire houses can be rather damp. That smelly dampness shines through in the music of Unflesh. Good tracks like “Renounce Flesh and Blood”, “Amongst Horrors Must I Dwell”, “The Sepulchral Depths” and “Dehumanized Legion” demonstrate what these three gentlemen of darkness are capable of. Whatever has happened between these three men down in that basement (what happens in a New Hampshire basement stays in that New Hampshire basement), sweet extreme music is the result. Unflesh nicely combines technical and atmospheric parts with runaway freight-train meat-and-potatoes kind of death metal. It is underground music and it is beautiful music in its own smelly, extreme and dark way.

Unflesh’s new album “Inhumation” is out now.

Album review: The Vicious Head Society “Extinction Level Event”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Exquisite prog metal on new The Vicious Head Society album by Irishman Graham Keane.

“Extinction Level Event” is the second album by The Vicious Head Society, a progressive metal project by Irish musician Graham Keane. The Vicious Head Society debuted in 2017 with the album “Abject Tomorrow”. The follow up “Extinction Level Event” is a concept album about the end of the world. Well, cheer up, we’re not dead yet. And until the world ends, we can listen to this magnificent prog metal album. What we get is a modern-sounding progressive metal album with influences from all over the place. On a track like “Judgement” (clocking in at over ten minutes), death metal style growling sits next to some Oriental-inspired instrumental parts. Two of the album’s nine tracks are instrumental. On this new album, Graham (on guitar and keyboards) has the help of some fine musicians, such as Nathan Maxx (lead vocals), Klemen Markelj (drums), Pat Byrne of Irish prog rockers Hedfuzy (bass), Matheus Manente (bass), Nahuel Ramos (keyboards), Andy Ennis of Overoth (growls) and violinist Shelley Weiss. Australian guitarist Chris Brooks guests with some insane guitar work on the track “YP138”, one of the peaks of the album. What makes this an exquisite prog metal album is the combination of skilled musicians, excellent songwriting, a modern production and great musical variety. The album never gets boring. There are twists and turns as well as mood and tempo changes throughout this musical journey to the end of the world. And unlike some other prog metal acts, The Vicious Head Society keeps over-the-top musical wankery out of its music.

The Vicious Head Society’s new album “Extinction Level Event” is out now via Hostile Media.

Album review: Betrayal “Disorder Remains”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

German band Betrayal gives us old-school death metal with blackened thrash and tech and prog bits. The resulting sick stew is very good.

German death metal band Betrayal, founded in 2005, has released its second studio album. If uncompromising stenchy and damp technical death metal is your thing, you’ll love this. The band released the “Of Lust and Loss” in 2007 but the debut full-length studio album “Infinite Circles” didn’t arrive until 2016. In 2021 and with a new album done, the band’s boots are firmly stuck in the smelly mud of old-school meat-and-potatoes death metal with added thrashy parts as well as technical and progressive bits and pieces (as can be heard on the majestic tracks “War” and “Dooming Diversions” for example) and there’s some blackened drama in the mix as well. The resulting sick stew is very good. “Devouring Nothingness” is the most death metal song title on the “Disorder Remains” album and it is also one of the best tracks. “Chaos Reigns” is actually the least chaotic track on the album but it is terrific in its own delicate way. “Insanity”, a blackened thrash metal track with some doom sprinkling on top and some unexpected flamenco guitar in the middle, is my top choice. What a terrific song! “Greed and Oblivion” is another splendid track of organised chaos on a rather even album. The band’s current line-up consists of Manuel Komander (drums), Alex Burkl (guitar and vocals), Basti Kraus (lead guitar) and Phil Valenta (bass).

Betrayal’s album “Disorder Remains” is out now via Rising Nemesis Records.

Album review: Sator “Basement Noise”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish garage rockers Sator’s terrific “Basement Noise” album from 2006 is being reissued.

Perhaps best described as garage rock with a punk attitude, Sator is a fab Swedish rock band with a cult following since the 1980s. The band was formed in 1981 as Sator Codex before shortening the band name in 1987. I was lucky enough to see them perform live a number of times back in the day with the highlight being their show on the main stage at Hultsfredsfestivalen in Sweden in 1991. Culturally and attitude wise, Sator has a close connection to The Ramones. Musically, while not identical, they are certainly lurking about in the same neighbourhood. On the track “Escape from Pigvalley Beach”, Sator walks into a rockabilly and surf rock territory similar to when The Ramones took punk rock to meet The Beach Boys on “Rockaway Beach”. On this album we also get the terrific but sad track “Goodbye Joey”, which was written as a tribute to Joey Ramone. A track like “No!” could easily have been a The Hives song. On many of the other tracks (such as “So Dressed Up”, “Water on a Drowning Man”, “You Ain’t to Me”, “You’re Out of My Hands” and “Things You Don’t”) we get straightforward signature Sator garage rock. No matter the musical genre, Sator always has great melodies and a sweaty energy to its music. Sator – Chips Kiesbye (lead vocals and guitar), Kent Norberg (lead vocals and guitar), Hans Gäfvert (keyboards), Heikki Kiviaho (bass) and Mikael Solén (drums) – originally released “Basement Noise”, the band’s seventh studio album, in 2006 on the band’s own label Planet of Noise. This reissue on Wild Kingdom Records in CD, LP and digital formats, is the first time the album will be available on vinyl. The album was produced by Chips Kiesbye and Henryk Lipp and recorded at Music-A-Matic Studios in Gothenburg. As a producer Chips has worked with artists such as The Hellacopters, Psychotic Youth, The Nomads, Millencolin, Michael Monroe, Sahara Hotnights and many more. One can certainly hear cross-influences between many of Chips’ productions including on the “Basement Noise” album.

Sator’s album “Basement Noise” will be released on 11th June via Wild Kingdom Records.

Album review: Stormwind “Legacy Live”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish power metal band Stormwind’s Sweden Rock Festival performance from 2003 is being reissued in an excellent remastered version.

Black Lodge Records has a terrific treat in store for fans of European-style melodic power metal – a reissue of one of Swedish power metal’s finest live moments: Stormwind’s performance at Sweden Rock Festival in 2003. “Legacy Live” features a live recording originally released in 2004, and here being presented in a remastered version. Stormwind was a neoclassical melodic power metal band that released a number of studio albums during the 1996-2003 period. In 2003 when this recording was made, Stormwind’s founder and guitarist Thomas Wolf had assembled a Stormwind line-up with some great pedigree: lead singer Thomas Vikström (Therion, Candlemass), Joakim Brodén (Sabaton) on keyboards, David Wallin (Hammerfall, Pain) on drums and Andreas Passmark (Royal Hunt, Eclipse, Narnia) on bass. This reissue has been remastered by Magnus Lindberg at Redmount Studios. The “Legacy Live” reissue follows recent reissues of three of the band’s studio albums: “Resurrection”, “Reflections” and “Rising Symphony”. The “Legacy Live” album features some great live versions of Stormwind’s original songs from its studio albums. The album kicks off with the excellent “Touch the Flames”. It’s melodic, bombastic and very good. Obvious highlights on this terrific album include great live versions of “Samuraj”, “Strangers from the Sea” and “Excalibur”. But the winner is no doubt the track “Ship of Salvation”, a fast and melodic power metal song with splendid guitars and over-the-top vocals. The CD version comes with three interesting instrumental studio tracks as bonus material: “Tears of Passion”, “Satyricon” and “Miramar”.

Stormwind’s live album “Legacy Live” will be released on 11th June via Black Lodge Records. A Japanese edition will be released on 23rd June via Bickee Music.

Album review: Insistent “Disease”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Prague’s Insistent serves up crusty grindcore with death metal riffs on new album.

Insistent is a grindcore band that was formed in the Czech Republic in 2017 and consists of Daniel Weiss (guitar), Jiří Vošahlík (vocals), Petr Lukš (bass) and Přemysl Pláteník (drums). They already have “Serenity of Suffering” (a 2018 split EP with БУТ) and the 2019 album “Suspect” below their belts. The new “Disease” album, thirteen tracks in twenty-one and a half minutes, is fast and furious. This is crushingly intense and high-energy music. It’s pissed-off and intense grindcore with some death metal guitar riffs here and there. It sounds as if it was created in a dark, damp and stinky Prague basement. The sun doesn’t shine where this music comes from. At a length of 45 seconds, the terrific “Bad Blood” is more Napalm Death than Napalm Death. The slightly longer track “Lords of Chaos” is another highlight on an excellent and stenchy album. “Last Farewell” is also an immediate favourite but the brilliant “Friendly Fire” (44 seconds) is no doubt the winner. It’s pure chaos. “Wolf Cult” is different by being a bit more experimental and clocks in at a (in grindcore terms) massive four minutes and thirteen seconds.

Insistent’s album “Disease” will be released digitally and on CD on 13th June via L’inphantile Collective. A vinyl version will be released on 13th September.