• PISTOLS AT DAWN - Nocturnal Youth (EP -Independent release)

    PAD is a new band formed in Atlanta, Georgia, US. This four-track EP gives a perfect idea what this band is all about: modern, contemporary melodic metal with a strong sense for songwriting. This is a follow-up to a set of singles that were released in 2020. The music of PAD takes you instantly away in a very listenable heavy rock universe that sounds fresh, honest and professionaly produced. Strong melodies, great grooves, heavy riffing and very potent guitarwork are the ideal ingredients to make it big. If they can keep on delivering the songs, Pistols At dawn will be a name that we will meet again.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Adam Jaffe - drums
    Devin White - guitar
    Tommy Richardson - guitar
    + two unknown members (Chris ?, Billy ?)

  • RED KITE - Apophenian Bliss (RareNoiseRecords)

    That metal has acquired its place in the world of the crossover is a testament to the musical validity of the genre. Jazz great John Zorn incorporating extreme metal into some of his projects (Naked City, Bladerunner), including Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, is an example. Norwegian instrumental quartet Red Kite with guitarist Even Helte Hermansen in a leading role makes this crossover accessible with a record that forms crossroads between rock, jazz, psych, prog and metal. Sizzling rhythms, jazzy lines, fuzz guitars, strong melodic fragments and even a touch of jazz lyricism, it's all in there. Those who want to explore and broaden the musical horizons of metal will find in Red Kite an ally that places the sonority and intensity of the genre in a different context. Both on CD and vinyl.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Even Helte Hermansen - baritone guitar
    Trond Frones - bass
    Bernt André Moen - rhodes
    Torstein Lofthus - drums, percussion

  • INNER AXIS - Midnight Hunter / Steelblade Avenger

    Inner Axis is a German classic heavy metal band from Kiel. They came first in the public eye with a self released full cd in 2011 ('Into The Storm'). It was followed in 2017 by 'We Live By The Steel' on the Fast Ball label. In 2021 the band released two digital singles and those are coupled now on a 12" vinyl (also on cd). Side 1 has two versions of the most recent single 'Midnight Hunter', one with vocals and one instrumental. Side 2 follows the same principle: a vocal and an instrumental version of the first single 'Steelblade Avenger'. Both are fast but melodic rock songs in a typical German style, with a wink to old school metal and a contemporary production. Personally I like the instrumental versions most as they are a good showcase for the guitar/drum power of this band. Maybe singer Kai Hageman should put more power and bite in his singing style to match the muscle of the rest of the band. The band have shot two impressive video's for these songs which can be found on Youtube. Check them out for yourself.
    The 12" vinyl is put into an lp sleeve and a printed innersleeve. Nice lay-out.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Kai Hagemann - vocals
    Zacharias Drosos - guitars
    Nino Helfrich - guitars
    Thies Jacobsen - drums

  • Guido Stoecker's BODYGUERRA - Fire & Soul (Fast Ball)

    The second album by Guido Stoecker's band is a full blooded affair, just like the horse that lends its name to the band. Stocker is a graduate of the München Guitar Institute and surrounds himself with some excellent players and Ela Sturm, a female singer with a very individual voice and singing style. If you like melodic hardrock/metal with a modern touch and an excellent production, you should give this a listen. Stoecker is an excellent guitarist with a great sound. Bodyguerra' music is deeply rooted in classic hardrock and metal, but has enough fresh elements to qualify as a real contemporary hardrock band. Some of the songs even have an accessible pop-flavour. One point of discussion will definitely be the voice of Sturm. She's got one of these 'love or hate' voices. I like her most in the uptempo songs. Her performance on the title track is superb. On songs like 'Behind The Clouds' I have a problem with her tuning. But, ... this hasn't prohibited me to enjoy the record overall.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Guido Stoecker: guitar
    Ela Sturn: vocals
    Daniel Pearl: bass
    Christian Anwerpen: drums

  • UNFORGED - Eye For An Eye (Fast Ball)

    First of all: if you are into clean vocals, this is not for you. If you like superb production and ultra tight playing then this is definitely for you !!! This is a very strong metal album dealing with the state of mind of modern man. The fast riffing, the trashy patterns, the raging drums, it's all there without losing a sense for transparency. The vocals alternate between screaming parts and clean parts with a firm sense of power and melody. Unforged presents eight killer songs that grab you by the throat. Don't try this at home! And if you do, look for shelter (LOL). I had a great time listening to this, although it's not my everyday diet.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Vocals: Chrys
    Rhythm Guitar: Thommy Scar
    Lead Guitar: Mika Alva
    Bass: Chris Anthrope
    Drums: Nico Alva

    Origin: Essen, Germany

  • THE END A.D. - It's All In Your Head (Fast Ball)

    The End A.D. is a heavy metal/hardcore band hailing from Philadelphia with Ami Friend at the mike stand. She knows how to handle this kind of music. The band grooves like hell and each one of the five tracks really blasts out of the speakers. Great riffing, the right vocal sounds, a driving rhythm section, good songs and high energy make this EP a delight, even if you're not a diehard hardcore fan. There's enough pure metal to be enjoyed by the open minded. The production is phenomenal!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Amy Friend - Vocals
    Paul Juestrich - Guitar
    Jim Weiss - Bass
    Lorin Savadov - Drums

  • MATT FINUCANE - To The Outer World

    Matt Finucane is a British cult artist who creates his music with a 'Do It Yourself' ethic. The spirit of punk and new wave still wades through his music and after performing as a solo-artist, he decided to form a band and move to the next level. This was triggered by the attention he got from different media, including the BBC. He's definitely a typical indie artist who draws his influences from the early New York scene (Lou Reed) and Krautrock. Add the influence from British punk and new wave. Finucane is a totally honest artist, pure and degaged from commercialism by doing what he believes in; a songwriter and performer that will appeal to an audience looking for authenticity. This album is not a collection of straightforward songs, some of them are colored with strange sounds and passages - listen to 'Derision'. Finucane is an artist to digest slowly with a lot to offer in his songwriting as well as in his basic but intelligent arrangements. Fans of indie-rock with a touch of experiment will love this!
    (Geert Ryssen)

  • VELVET VIPER - Cosmic Healer (Massacre)

    "Cosmic Healer" is Velvet Viper's third studio album since the band was revived in 2018. On this record, the German metal quartet switches to a higher gear. The band with singer Jutta Weinhold has a patent on heavy, lingering rhythms topped with emotionally and dramatically driven melodies; carried by jutta's powerful voice. For 'Cosmic Healer', guitarist Holger Marx is in charge of music more than ever. The record was also recorded in full with the live band. With respect for the style of the group, extra pepper is sprinkled into the hole, so Velvet Viper delivers its most heavy album ever. Jutta's lyrics stick to her themes, often inspired by ancient myths and sagas. The riffs are hard, the tempi a little pulled up and the seventy-three-year-young singer perfectly finds her way among all that (musical) violence. With 'Cosmic Healer', Jutta &Co are perfectly equipped to serve the younger crowd of metal fans at their beck and call. It still remains Velvet Viper and excellent classic metal but with a firm dash of new energy and an extra raw jug.

    Available on cd and vinyl (limited edition on poison green vinyl)

    PS. - This band blows a fuse live! If you have a chance, please go and see them !!!

    (Geert Ryssen)

  • RINGO STARR - Zoom In (UMe/Universal Music Group)

    Not bad for an 80-year old! A new fresh mini-lp with five songs and a state-of-the-art production by himself. Ringo has been advocating peace and love for many years now and in every record there's a couple of songs refering to that mission. The first song 'Here's To The Nights' is a Diane Warren song. To my ears it sounds quite cheesy, sentimental and old hat with some references to Paul McCartney's style when he's at his most poppy. Impressive arrangement though! The cast is also impressive: Steve Lukather, Nathan East, Benmont Tench and backing vocals by Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl, ... 'Zoom In, Zoom out' is another song advocating love, a mid-tempo rocker with some tasty, bluesy guitar by Robby Krieger (The Doors) and a nice drumpattern by the master himself. So far for side 1 (I've got the vinyl!). Side two opens with 'Teach Me To Tango'. It is co-written by Ringo and starts with some heavy percussion and is another mid-tempo rocker with a nice chorus. Put on your dancing shoes! Great song with a heavy arrangement. 'Waiting For The tide To Turn' is the second co-writing effort by the man and has a beautiful reggae-feel to it. Great arrangement again. Wow! The mini-lp ends with 'Not Enough Love In the World', written by Toto guys Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams and has a Beatlesque feel to it, especially the chorus. The song bluilds to a nice climax with some powerful drumming. When one takes the effort to listen a couple of times to Ringo's contemporary efforts, there's always a lot to discover and enjoy. Even the opening track starts to reveal it's charm after a while! Well done old pal! (Geert Ryssen)

  • BLACK SABBATH - Paranoid - Super De Luxe Editon (2020)

    I remember with great satisfaction the performance of Black Sabbath on Jazz Bilzen (Belgium) in 1970. It was nothing short of an absolute wow moment. The first album had already turned my musical world upside down an 'Paranoid' just stuck its nose around the corner. The power and energy that came from this band from Birmingham was never seen and continued to rumble. Fifty years later (2020), the band treats us to a luxurious reissue of 'Paranoid', the album that catapulted the group to the top of the world. The box contains five LPs including the 2012 remaster of the original album with the original artwork, a stereo-based remaster of the 1974 quadrophony mix and a triple live LP with recordings from 1970, respectively at the Casino in Montreux – the same tour that brought them to Bilzen in August – and an October recording for RTBF at the Théâtre 140 in Brussels. Both sets contain virtually the same pieces, but in a different order. The recording quality is excellent and so is the performance. Furthermore, in the box there is a 30 x 30 cm hardback book with the early story and many photos, a replica of the tour book of the American tour in the spring of 1970 and a poster. Everything is nicely packed in a sturdy box. If you prefer this remix to the original is a matter of taste. The 2002 has a bit more loudness and sounds a bit more detailed, but the groove is heavier on the original of 1970. The quad mix approaches the sound of the original Seventies pressing. The live LPs have never been released on vinyl before and are an interesting bonus anyway, especially for those who experienced the band in 1970 or who want to hear how grand Black Sabbath already sounded in the early years. (Geert Ryssen)

  • BLACK SABBATH - Vol.4 Super Deluxe Box set (2021)

    'Vol. 4' was the fourth studio album by Black Sabbath in three years time (1972). The band was huge now and wanted to expand its sonic horizon by moving to the United States to record its new album at het famous Record Plant in Los Angeles and choose a new producer with Patrick Meehan. The end result was a more sophisticated album with some progressive influences and more light and shade. For this expanded re-release, the original album was remixed by Steven Wilson and it sounds more dynamic with more detail. The box set adds four more lp's, two of them contain outtakes and studio excercises that are most interesting to the fans or musicologists, but will add nothing to the original album for the casual listener. There's also an extra double live album with recordings made during Black Sabbath's 1973 United Kingdom tour with Badger and Necromandus as support bands. As the live recordings of the original line-up are scarce, these are a welcome addition to the Sabbath catalogue. Some of these tracks may have appereared on 'Live At Last' or on 'Past Lives', but here they are totally remixed and updated and put in a real live flow. It's a pity that the artwork of the original album is not reproduced here (no fold-out cover and no photo booklet) but that is more than compensated by the brilliant 12"x12" hardcover book with full information on the sessions and lots of photo's and documents. To top all of that, there's also a large poster. 'Vol. 4' has some classics on it like the ballad 'Changes' and heavy songs like 'Snowblind' or 'Under The Sun' with gitarist Tony Iommi's riffing full blast. According to the liner notes, this album was made in a time where the band was exhausted form extensive touring and it was recorded in a cocaine-fueled mood. Even then, the band knew how to deliver. (Geert Ryssen)

    (There's also a cd-editon box)

  • ROME - Parlez-Vous Hate?' (Trisol Music Group)

    The least one can say about Jerome Reuter is that he is very productive. This is his sixth album in two years time and the fourth by his project Rome. Reuter is a firm believer in a united Europe and writes songs that are very engaged and in case of this new album, very critical about certain evolutions in political Europe. Due to his family history, Reuter has a healthy disliking of everything totalitarian and expresses that in his deep songs with breathtaking arrangements. It is hard to put a style on his musical work. It shows elements of contemporary folk, gothic rock, French chanson, ambinent music, indierock, etc. This 'Parlez-Vous Hate?' is the most appealing work I have heard so far by Rome. His deep voice, the fascinating arrangements, the lyrics that grab you by the troat, ... it's all there. If you are into contemporary sophisticated conceptual 'singer-songwriting' - the traditon of a man with the guitar is left far behind - then you must explore this great piece of work.

    Available on cd, vinyl and digital.

    Jerome Reuter: vocals, acoustic guitars;
    Eric Becker: electric guitars;
    Tom Gatti: bass, keyboards, programming;
    Laurent Fuchs: drums, percussion;
    Patrick Kleinbauer, Tom Luciani, Eric Becker: backing vocals.
    Recorded at Unison Studios, Luxembourg.

    (Geert Ryssen)

FLYING CIRCUS - Flying Circus

German progressive rockband Flying Circus releases a 'Best Of' with re-recordings by the current line-up of songs that were released before 2004 (3 albums and one EP) and remixes (with eventual overdubs) of songs that were recorded between 2005 and 2016. There's one new song and two songs left untouched of their 2020 album '1968'. With a total of fifteen songs this sounds like a new and fresh album. Due to extensive re-recording or remixing everything sounds up-to-date, fluid and with a unity in sound. Until last year this band from the Köln/Düsseldorf area remained a well kept secret to many music lovers. Signing with Fast Ball Music for its '1968' album started a new and more international life for the band. '1968' is a well crafted album keeping alive the positive reputation of so called 'krautrock'. This retrospective album gives a well balanced overview of the best work of the band, with songs from every album they made before. Some new arrangements were written that bring keyboard player Rüdiger Blömer more in the picture as a violin player. Listen to his briljant work on 'Seasons' or ''Derry'; wonderful! This album is full of beautiful music that sounds like typically high quality German rock with roots in late sixties and seventies progressive music. Giving references is a hard thing to do, but one band they make me think of now and then is Grobschnitt and that's probably because of the singing of Michael Dorp (original member!) who does a fantastic job and fits the band perfectly. And let's not forget the guitarwork of Michael Rick. And yes, boys of the rhythm section, you guys do a good job too. Another great point about this release is the fact that the digipack is full of information about the band and its history (previous line-ups, previous recordings, the purpose of this album). What a good way to celebrate 30-years of existence and an excellent way to get an overview of this wonderful band. (Geert Ryssen)

'Flying Circus' will be released on Fast Ball on February 26 2021.

Line-up (left to right):

Rüdiger Blömer: keyboards, violin, orchestral programming

Michael Dorp: Vocals, percussion

Ande Roderigo: drums, percussion, backing vocals

Roger Weitz: bass, backing vocals

Michael Rick: guitars, backing vocals