Album review: Peter Hermansson “Second Glance”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

220 Volt drummer shows us he has more than drum sticks in his bag on a great solo album.

I saw Peter Hermansson live on stage for the first time in 1987. It was a show with one of my favourite bands, the Swedish melodic metal band 220 Volt, performing in front of a massive and enthusiastic festival audience in their hometown Östersund. Peter started drumming with 220 Volt before the band released its self-titled debut album in 1983. He is drumming in the current line-up of the band and has also played with John Norum and Talisman. Now we get to hear more of Peter when he releases his first full-length solo album. We already knew he is one of Sweden’s best rock drummers, but on this new album, we get to experience much more of this multitalented vocalist, musician and songwriter. Peter sings lead and drums on all songs on the album. He plays bass on a few tracks as well. We also get to hear his 220 Volt band mates Mats Karlsson and Mats Vassfjord perform. Other notable musicians guesting on this album include Nalle Påhlsson (Therion, Zan Clan, Treat, Easy Action), John Levén (Europe), Björn Englén (Quiet Riot, Yngwie Malmsteen) and Martin Thomander (Electric Boys). The album contains nine original tracks penned by Peter plus two covers, Deep Purple’s “Soldier of Fortune” and Nick Ashford’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor” (which has also been covered by Humble Pie, W.A.S.P. and many more). The music on “Second Glance” is best described as melodic 70s/80s hard rock with blues touches, some more contemporary parts and a few ballads in the mix as well. Peter has a seasoned, grown-up rock voice that fits this music style very well. “Set Me Free” is a ballad with some terrific guitars by Christofer Ståhl (Talisman) while “Last Goodbye” is an emotional ballad. “Ain’t Gonna Crawl” is an excellent modern rock song performed by Peter and Mats Karlsson. “Hero’s End”, a splendid and energetic bluesy hard rock song, is one of the highlights on the album together with the tracks “Revolution”, “Movin’ On” and “Perfect World”.

Peter Hermansson’s solo album “Second Glance” will be released on 16th April via GMR Music.

Peter Hermansson Official Facebook page

Album review: Against Evil “End of the Line”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Indian band Against Evil releases its third album filled with great heavy metal.

Against Evil formed in India in 2014. They debuted with “Fatal Assault” in 2015 and followed that up with the album “All Hail the King” in 2018. 2019 saw them tour Europe on the back of the great feedback from the latest album. Now they’re back with their third album. So, how can I describe Against Evil’s music? The track “Out for Blood” (with Billy Sheehan guesting on it) sounds a bit like 1980s American radio metal/hair metal (think Ratt), but most of the album has a proper foundation in NWOBHM while also sounding contemporary. There are also hints of thrash metal and heavy-yet-melodic bands such as Queensrÿche, Manowar and Riot throughout the album. The band itself calls it “heavy metal with power and speed metal influence”. Overall this is a very good heavy metal album. “The Sound of Violence” is a beyond terrific track. Other strong ones include “Metal of Nothin’”, “War Hero”, “End of the Line”, “Sword of Power” and “Speed Demon”. There is some real metal potential in these Indian lads.

Against Evil’s album “End of the Line” will be released on 14th May via Doc Gator Records in Europe and independently the rest of the world.

Album review: White Void “Anti”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Borknagar, Ihsahn and Solefald members give us something refreshingly different on a new album from eclectic rock band White Void.

White Void is a new Norwegian band consisting of members with a wide range of musical experience and it shows in the band’s music. White Void could be the very definition of “melting pot”. It is a band whose members have backgrounds in Norwegian black metal, chiptune electronica, pop music and blues. The album “Anti” sounds exactly like that. And I love it. Vocalist Lars Nedland some will remember from avant-garde black metal band Solefald and progressive black metal band Borknagar. Tobias Solbakk is Ihsahn’s drummer. Bassist Vegard Kummen has a background in electronica while guitarist Eivind Marum is a bluesman. What does all this boil down to? White Void gives us hard-rock guitar riffs, new wave harmonies and blues-rock solos. On paper, it seems confused and misguided, but what my ears are fed by these Norwegian lads is terrific stuff. Some of it sounds like 70s hard rock with progressive touches. At the same time, it has plenty of early 80s pop hooks with blues-rock added as a bonus. My ears are confused but very happy. This kind of eclectic and experimenting yet melodic and accessible rock music is a terrific way forward for those that want music to evolve. I sense this is just the beginning of something even more epic. This band is on to something that many music fans with open minds and a flexible attitude to genres will dig. The exquisite track “The Shovel and the Cross” is a clear and immediate favourite of mine on a very interesting and somewhat unexpected dreamy yet quite dark eight-track album. It’s music created and performed by musicians that are curious and not afraid to go wherever the music takes them.

White Void’s album “Anti” is out today in Japan via Ward Records and internationally via Nuclear Blast.

Album review: Spain’s Angelus Apatrida combines modern and old-school thrash metal on its new album

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Angelus Apatrida gives us Spanish thrash metal on its seventh album.

Angelus Apatrida is a terrific thrash metal band from Spain. Founded more than two decades ago, their new self-titled album is their seventh full-length studio album since they debuted with “Evil Unleashed” in 2006. Having evolved and matured over the years, Angelus Apatrida, still consisting of Guillermo Izquierdo on vocals and guitar, Jose Izquierdo on bass, Victor Valera on drums and David Alvarez on guitar, is now a terrific thrash metal band up there with the best. The “Angelus Apatrida” album features ten brand new songs and kicks off with the relentless “Indoctrinate”. The lyrics on the album have been largely influenced by Spain’s recent troubles, both the shambolic political situation and the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The track “Through the Glass” is one of the album’s strongest with a serious Bay Area thrash metal feel to it. Spain is perhaps not as far away from California as one might think. The pummelling “Empire of Shame” is another favourite track of mine. It has splendid guitars and an angry attitude about it that appeals to me. “Into the Well” is terrific and the track’s vocals are partly kind of spoken rather than sung which keeps the song interesting. Some songs, like “The Age of Disinformation”, “Disposable Liberty” and “Bleed the Crown”, have a modern feel to them. The members of Angelus Apatrida have clearly been influenced by the 1980s Bay Area thrash metal scene, but they have used that influence and added their own bits. The result is terrific thrash metal that sounds modern and relevant without losing its roots. The band is experienced and knows how to deliver what its listeners want to hear. The Japanese edition comes with a bonus track: a great live recording of the Slayer cover “The Antichrist”.

Angelus Apatrida new album will be released in Japan on 5th March via Ward Records and has already been released internationally via Century Media Records.

Album review: The Impaler “A Fate Worse Than Death”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Australia’s The Impaler serves us a bowl of blackened death metal with a deathcore side dish on its new album.

I am not sure what’s driving this but recently Australia is delivering some terrific new acts in all kinds of different rock subgenres. The Impaler offers its listeners Australian extreme metal. There is a foundation of blackened death metal but the band mixes things up with influences from deathcore which adds a modern touch to the overall sound. It’s always heavy and brutal but the tempo and style of the songs range from fast and furious to doom-sludge slow. The music is stenchy, quite inaccessible, at times haunting, unappealing and very, very good. I love it. It’s like a soundtrack to an unwashed, stinky and sinister squirrel eating your face when you’ve fallen asleep in a back alley after too many beers and a dodgy kebab in your tummy. “A Fate Worse Than Death” contains seven tracks and is the follow-up to last year’s debut album “Death Cult”. The band consists of Shaun Van Looy on lead guitar, Lewis Ranford on rhythm guitar, Ben Van Looy on bass, Jammie Hubbard on drums and Jordan Scott on vocals. We also get guest appearances from Josh Hill of Cerement on “Hatred” and CJ McMahon of Thy Art Is Murder on “Mourn”, a very intense track that is one of the album’s best tracks. My favourite track is “Release” which has an eerie, swampy atmosphere about it.

The Impaler’s “A Fate Worse Than Death” is out now.

Album review: Enforcer “Live by Fire II”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Sweden’s Enforcer gives us proper and sweaty heavy metal on the new Mexican live album “Live by Fire II”.

Sweden’s Enforcer is a fantastic heavy metal band that has built its trademark sound on a solid foundation of early 80s NWOBHM and seasoned it with mid-to-late 80s European heavy metal and a small pinch of American mainstream metal. The 1990s and subsequent decades never happened in the world of Enforcer. They have their sound and they’re, thankfully, sticking to it. Enforcer has been led from the front by its main man Olof Wikstrand since the band was founded in Arvika, Sweden in 2004. In the current line-up of the band, in addition to Olof on vocals and guitar, there is his brother Jonas Wikstrand on drums, Tobias Lindqvist on bass and recent addition Jonathan Nordwall on lead guitar. Enforcer is a band that consistently delivers both in the studio and on stage. They have terrific riffs, very strong melodies and more energy than a nuclear power station can produce. “Live by Fire II” is a follow-up to 2015’s “Live by Fire” which featured live recordings from Greece and Japan recorded in 2013. On this new live album, we get the band caught in the moment doing what it does best, performing a heavy metal show in front of an enthusiastic crowd of fans. They open with “Die for the Devil” and the crowd is with them from the first note. We get a splendid best-of set recorded in Mexico City in 2019. The setlist is close to flawless. We get favourites such as “Undying Evil”, “From Beyond”, “Mesmerized by Fire”, “Zenith of the Black Sun”, “Take Me Out of This Nightmare” and much more. The epic speed-metal fast track “Live for the Night” was written to encourage headbanging, air guitar playing and circle pits in the audience. This is a band that knows its metal, it knows how to perform it and how to entertain an audience. The live album has been put together in a terrific way. It has preserved the band very well and not tried to polish things over in the postproduction process. The album rounds off in style with an explosive set of splendid songs: “Destroyer”, “Katana” and “Midnight Vice”. Having seen them live here in Japan in the past, I hope we will get to see this terrific live act on a Tokyo stage again soon.

Enforcer’s “Live by Fire II” will be released on 19th March in Japan via Ward Records and internationally via Nuclear Blast.

Album review: Sister “Vengeance Ignited”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish hard rockers Sister are back with their fourth full-length studio album.

Formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 2006, Sister debuted in 2009 with the “Deadboys Making Noise” EP and followed that with “Hated”, the band’s first full-length studio album, in 2011. Now, a decade later, they are releasing their fourth album, “Vengeance Ignited”. Since the last album, 2016’s “Stand Up, Forward, March!”, Martin Sweet of Crashdiet fame, has left Sister and been replaced on bass by Freddan Hiitomaa (ex-Dust Bowl Jokies). The rest of the band consists of Jamie Anderson (vocals), Cari Crow (drums) and Phil Armfelt (guitar). Sister sometimes gets labelled as a sleaze band. Sure, there is plenty of sleaze in Sister, but there is so much more than that. The new album “Vengeance Ignited” has been produced by H.E.A.T keyboardist Jona Tee and the band is managed by former H.E.A.T vocalist Erik Grönwall. Thus, it is perhaps no surprise that Sister at times sounds like a rougher and rawer bad-boy version of H.E.A.T. There are also hints here of other Swedish bands such as Hardcore Superstar (especially the chorus on the title track “Vengeance Ignited”) and Crashdiet, but Sister is quite good at mixing things up. They avoid getting stuck in a specific musical niche. This band certainly has a punk attitude but there are also fantastic melodies. “Whispering Winds” is a great melancholic ballad while the tracks “Psycho Thrilling” and “Primal Rage” are modern and catchy metal songs with attitude. At other times we get served classic American-style sleaze rock, but often with a darker approach to the music. My favourite tracks on the album include the energetic “Spitfire” and “One Last Ride” as well as the very catchy “Scream for Pleasure”.

Sister’s “Vengeance Ignited” is out today via Flick Agency.

Album review: All Wasted “Burn with Me”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Gothenburg’s All Wasted gives us a taste of Swedish death’n’roll on the band’s debut album.

All Wasted is a newly formed hard rock band from Gothenburg, Sweden. They say that their musical style is death’n’roll and there is a lot of truth to that description. Musically we get a shitload of heavy rock’n’roll with some death metal touches. Vocally we move into proper death metal and hardcore territory. Attitude wise we get a good-fun hard rock band. The combination works well to create a high-energy, beer-fuelled Friday night out that ends at three in the morning either with a dodgy kebab or a sloppy one-night stand. All Wasted is like a messy and weird cross of Motörhead and Soilwork with the party attitude of Hardcore Superstar. Kind of. This is different. It’s gritty. It has a raw and punky energy. It’s death’n’roll from Gothenburg – a town that is home not only to Motörhead drummer Mikkey Dee but also to the classic Gothenburg Sound, the pioneering death metal scene in the early 1990s. The track “Rotten to the Core” is a highlight for me and so is “Time to Burn”, which is perhaps the album’s best track together with the terrific “Fading Out of Line”. Other great tracks include “I am the Pain”, “This Means War”, “Passion of Crime”, “Towards the End” and “Out of This Grave”. “Burn with Me” is a thirteen-track album that is a very promising start for a new band that doesn’t seem to be afraid to go down its own path. The band ignores trends and expectations. They are not trying to fit in. Instead, they are focusing on the idea of building something different. Soldier on to the tune of death’n’roll they must.

All Wasted’s debut album “Burn with Me” is out today.

Album review: The Crown “Royal Destroyer”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Sweden’s The Crown’s new album “Royal Destroyer” is overflowing with brutal and fast death metal with thrash metal qualities and a rock’n’roll attitude.

Formed in Sweden in 1990, The Crown has been a great force in the Swedish death metal scene for three decades. They debuted in 1995 with “The Burning” and “Royal Destroyer” is the band’s eleventh studio album (or tenth, depending on how you count the “Crowned in Terror” and “Crowned Unholy” albums). Original band members Johan Lindstrand (vocals), Magnus Olsfelt (bass) and Marko Tervonen (guitar) are still here. Johan Lindstrand’s terrific angry vocals are a big part of what makes The Crown stand out from the pack together with great melodies, terrific guitar riffs and drum blasts. Robin Sörqvist on lead guitar and Henrik Axelsson on drums joined in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The new album kicks off in style with the short and furious “Baptized in Violence”. The song is only 78 seconds long, but bloody hell, those seconds are glorious. The mayhem continues from there with the crushing “Let the Hammering Begin!” and then the gorgeously speedy and brutal “Motordeath”. Over the years, The Crown has very successfully combined melodic death metal with stenchy old-school death metal. The band’s music also has a tangible raw thrash metal energy on many songs which are often played at speed metal pace and it’s all covered in a proper rock’n’roll attitude. On the new album, the band has managed to arrive at a terrific musical style that combines old-school underground death metal with more mainstream extreme metal. The result is absolute bloody mayhem. And that is a good thing. I love it. The album has some slower parts to it as well, like the heavy but relatively slow “Glorious Hades” and “We Drift On” which the band has referred to as a “ballad”. “Ultra Faust” has an intro that is very different with some haunting sounds but not in a death metal way. But a minute into the song, it turns into the expected merciless brutality. “Full Metal Justice”, “Scandinavian Satan”, “Devoid of Light” and “Beyond the Frail” are all mainly trademark The Crown-style melodic death metal with runaway guitars coming at the listener from all angles. Some of the songs have been seasoned with spicy black metal and rock’n’roll barbeque sauce to great effect. The Japanese edition of the album contains two bonus tracks: “Absolute Monarchy” and a cool raw demo version of “Dawn of Emptiness”, a song that appeared on 2003’s album “Possessed 13”. Heavy, brutal, vicious, fast and riff-happy – that is often how I like my metal served and that is what I get from The Crown. “Royal Destroyer” royally thrashes its listeners. It’s a massive album and what a joy it is to experience it.

The Crown’s “Royal Destroyer” will be released on 10th March in Japan via Avalon/Marquee and on 12th March internationally via Metal Blade Records.

Album review: Angeline “We Were Raised On Radio”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish melodic hard rockers Angeline return with a new album filled with radio-friendly and catchy grown-up rock with strong melodies.

Swedish melodic hard rockers Angeline formed in Ljusdal, Sweden in 1987. I have been following them closely from the very beginning. I shared a rehearsal space with them in a loft on top of a disused cinema where you’d also find a young Charlie Granberg (later of Hellsingland Underground fame) drumming with his hard rock band Hexagon. I saw many of Angeline’s shows in Sweden in the late 80s and early 90s. Following a terrific 1988 demo (“The Legend”), they released their debut LP (“Don’t Settle for Second Best”) in 1990. The current line-up of the band consists of all original members: Jocke Nilsson and Janne Arkegren on guitars, Ulf Nilsson on bass and Tobbe Jonsson on drums. Original vocalist Sigge Sigvardsson sadly passed away in 1995, but guitarist Jocke Nilsson soon thereafter stepped up and took over lead vocals. “We Were Raised On Radio” is an album filled with radio-friendly and catchy grown-up rock with strong melodies. The members are now in their late forties and early fifties and have arrived at a more mature sound. It is quite a varied album with songs shooting off in different directions within the melodic rock category. “Welcome to Paradise” is my favourite track on the album, partly because it reminds me somewhat of how Angeline sounded in the early days and partly because it has an Electric Boys-style groove feel to it. “Halfway to Anywhere” is also a fab song that has a glorious 80s feel to it and so does the track “Helpless”. It’s an album for your car stereo. You can make this the soundtrack to your next road trip.

Angeline’s new album “We Were Raised On Radio” is out today via Blow Your Fez Off Music.