NATTERGAL
'Singular Disasters'

Even the most raw and atmospheric Black Metal bands have something extraordinary to offer and Nattergal is no exception, smothering the genre with cold, depressive and doom-laden feelings is just one difference, the fact being the project is performed by one female musician from Mexico is another, in fact her debut album 'Singular Disasters' has far more ambience on it than a session with the hippies. 'Singular Disasters' brings together a host of different styles of Black metal, moulds them together and delivers what one could perceive as one of the most rawest albums released to date, even so with the album designed for fans of evidently Raw Depressive Black Metal, it is one of a kind and should never be disregarded as a commoner.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
MURDEROUS INSTINCT
'Manifestation Of Evil'

Those uncanny Scotsmen, producing metal music to piss off the English because we tend to fail at Brutal Death Metal, well when you take into account Aberdeenshire's Murderous Instinct, you get the nostalgic feeling of the many battles between the nations, Culloden for example. But you tend to realise, hang on, this album has got more than angry musicians on it, this is a damn good masterpiece. So when the Scottish quartet shed out their debut album 'Manifestation Of Evil', the production is acceptable, but the music is godly and so without any doubt whatsoever, what we have here is an album that fans of Excrementory Grindfuckers, Cerebral Bore and The Atrocity Exhibit will love, now where's my cooking haggis.

[9] RHYS STEVENSON
SHEBREW
'Provenance'

So apart from the fact the band's logo is similar to that of the iconic Star Wars logo, Brummie trio Shebrew come galloping out of the gates with their debut EP 'Provenance', putting together a juicy meal of Stoner Doom Metal to captivate the listener into a false sense of security, why? Well it's hardly Doom Metal at all, it's that sort of music you play when smoking weed at a campfire and hang out with the hippies, and it's mellow and delightful, if that's the best way to put it. But taking into account that this is a damn good starting point for the band, they may well get some major attention, or at least they deserve to, simply inspirational.

[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
DEPRAVED PLAGUE
'Systemic'

Well hospitals in Cambridgeshire must be overwhelmed with people suffering neck pains and other broken bones, the cause of the accidents can be blamed onto the infectious album release by Cambridge Death Metal mob Depraved Plague. This year the quartet unleash total chaos with their debut album 'Systemic', a futile sound of old school Cannibal Corpse and modern style techniques combined together to smash every skull who stands in their way, in fact scrap calling it Death Metal, the term 'Radioactive Metal' would befit them to the very cells from which they are made of, it's lethal, it's metal and it's 100% dangerous, Deprave Plague are on course to rival the world's biggest Death Metal titans, game on.

[10] RHYS STEVENSON
APPARITION
'For Vengeance... And For Love'
METAL COMPASS

Making their welcomed return is Staffordshire's Apparition with their sophomore album 'For Vengeance... And For Love' and their unique style of soul-soothing Gothic Metal. Two years have passed since their 2010 compilation and the wait has been worth it, delivering beautiful female vocals with an atmospheric backdrop, this is a album that creates a feeling of relaxation, a sort of stress-release entertainment, but however the listener perceives it, this is a band that deserves credit and recognition as bringing a new style of Gothic Metal to the forefront, sure they are not on the same par as bands similar to them like Within Temptation and Delain, no, in fact they are one whole level above them.

[9] RHYS STEVENSON
PRAYERS OF SANITY
'Confrontations'

Simply put the best ever Thrash Metal band Portugal has ever seen, enter Prayers Of Sanity and their awaited return with their second offering entitled 'Confrontations'. The second album delivers break-neck Thrash Metal in the style of Slayer-cross-Holy Moses and so what you get is forty minutes worth of total brain-f*cking material. Pummelling drums ride the waves as the guitars provide tricky and technically demanding riffs and the vocals blast out at a thousand M.P.H., all in all this together provides the algorithm for what can be see as Portuguese Metal album of the year. Think you know Thrash? Think it's just how fast you can go? Until you know this band you know nothing of the kind.

[10] RHYS STEVENSON
SYNODIK
'Sequences For A New Matrix'

The storm is oncoming, this is the new sound of modern Italian Metal. Synodik emerge out of the underground with a new style of music developed on their own accord, enter Cyber Death Metal. Mixing the delightful sounds of keyboards and lyrics regarding technology and everything on par with that, it won't be long before this Italian lot are signed, rest assured. Their debut album in question is a myriad of sounds and as such totally obliterates any pre-conceived ideas about the sound and well quite frankly, if they don't get any global attention, then it will shock the whole global community that this is without any doubt Italian Metal album of the year.

[10] RHYS STEVENSON
IN THE SILENCE
'A Fair Dream Gone Mad'

If you're a fan of emotional and somewhat a little depressive music then you should not turn a blind eye to 'A Fair Dream Gone Mad', true its ideally Atmospheric Prog Metal, but even so the melancholy is enough to turn any priest demonic. 'A Fair Dream Gone Mad' is the debut album by Californian quartet In The Silence and it features eight tracks equating to forty-six minutes of ambience, rock and general misery. The composition is good granted but the overall release is a little bleak, its one of those albums that sits in the corner of the cupboard, gathering dust and yet fails to lose its lustre, although the irony is that it's meant to be dark, perhaps it is what it's stated as, 'A Fair Dream Gone Mad'.

[5.5] RHYS STEVENSON
DISARM GOLIATH
'Born To Rule'

Instantly the whole Iron Maiden sound hits you like a raging bull high on illicit drugs, but when you dissect a band like Disarm Goliath, they do have some influences coming in from Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Metallica (especially the solo's) and intriguingly they tend to have that Brummie sound; the home of metal. So when their sophomore album 'Born To Rule' comes out to rock the countryside, what it does instead is captures the essence of Heavy Metal gone-by and adds some modern features; we'll leave the listener to detect them. None the less, 'Born To Rule' is an album for the fans of Classic Metal and also bands like Kobra & The Lotus, Kaine, Merciless Fail and Rage.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
PLANET RAIN
'Antichthon'

Of course anyone would be mistaken to dub every Swedish Melodic Death Metal band the same, in truth it's just not the case, every one of them has something unique to offer, especially bands like Planet Rain who make their long-awaited debut album 'Antichthon' take flight in spectacular form. Delivering a fist punching wall of sound in the heaviest obliteration to date, this is the sound to smack the clone bands into line. 'Antichthon' hosts a brutal onslaught of outrageous riffs, emotional vocals and classic drumming; this is just the beginning of something magical.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
 
TEMPLE OF THE MAGGOT
'Black Mass Apocalypse'
UNMERCIFUL DEATH PRODS.

Two years have past and now the dark and disturbing sounds of Temple of The Maggot are back amongst us, the Mongolian duo, now based in Europe, return with their second offering of Raw Black Metal in its darkest form yet. 'Black Mass Apocalypse' brings more satanic traits with it and transforms the atmosphere into a bleak and spine-chilling feeling, not because of the music but because of the sensation the album brings with it. For the duo that have been going four years, this is their best release to date and is sure to please fans of Carpathian Forest and Darkthrone with grim intent.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
NATHORG
'Beyond The Gates Of Bathory'
UNMERCIFUL DEATH PRODS.

Nathorg could easily be the band to bring the Iranian Metal scene to the masses across the world, breaking out with their debut album 'Beyond The Gates Of Bathory', you can clearly see why these are the favourites to land themselves into the attention laps of global media, full on Blackened Death Metal at its core with hints of ambience and anti-religious hatred, coming from a land that's heavily influenced by Islam, this is a risky yet bold-statement of rebellion. Played in the style of Belphegor and Gorgoroth, Nathorg are sure to become the next Middle Eastern metal band to grace the covers of the British metal magazines. 'Beyond The Gates Of Bathory' serves up raw vocals, insanely fast drumming and soul-freezing riffs in one whole slab of forty minutes, think you know Extreme music? Think again.

[10] RHYS STEVENSON
SIRANNON
'Semper Caliga'
UNMERCIFUL DEATH PRODS.

2011 saw darkness fall and cloud over the Turkish cities of Izmir and Istanbul as the all female quartet Sirannon deliver their debut album 'Semper Caliga' which is loaded with really evil Black Metal. Mixing Paganism and History in with their music, Sirannon use their native language on some songs and bring a unique Middle Eastern / Eastern European twist to their music. Full of raw sounding guitars and really low-key vocals and non-existent drumming, this is a raw production all over and is sure to entice those who love really distorted music. As for Sirannon and their release 'Semper Caliga', it is just the beginning; they won't stop there, not by a long shot.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
SHORT FUSE
'Hate Brought To This Place Called Home' + 'Shred The Dead' + 'Annihilate The Masses'

California, the home of Hollywood, huge-wage earners, crime, the golden gate bridge and of course its bustling nightlife, but beneath the sewers of this huge state is a monster waiting to escape, its first appearance came in 2005 when it sparked fear amongst the community. Enter the six-piece band with a short fuse, literally. Explosive Melodic Death Metal on a grand scale, Short Fuse conjured up a fairly decent debut album and laid the path down to make their music something of the rare kind, innovative. 'Hate Brought To This Place Called Home' in fact back in 2005 was produced by a quintet, but still brought that edge that lacked in the Californian Metal scene, mixing the classic sounds of the aforementioned metal genre with their own unique attitude, much more was expected to come and it did.

2010 and the quintet became a sextet and in time for their sophomore album 'Shred The Dead' which has a greater and more powerful sound than its predecessor, weaving even more guttural vocals than a drunk German, coupled with blazing drumming and cutting-edge riffs, this is the exact sound Short Fuse will be identified by, 'Shred The Dead' is a masterpiece in its own rights and is designed to make the dead come alive and leave the alive for dead. Lashing keyboard elements to this release and in turn overthrowing their previous release into disrepute, for the elements drawn on this release are far beyond anything magical, they're simply non-descript.

Coming into the present times and Short Fuse deliver their third outing 'Annihilate The Masses' with even more gusto than their previous two efforts, it seems as every album passes they get better and better, although that's a generic concept for every band, but in respect of Short Fuse, they should keep this sound as is now, 'Annihilate The Masses' brings out a far more atmospheric feel via the eccentricity of the keyboards and elaborate piecing together of the drums and guitars, whilst the vocals do the powering forward of this monstrous beast. All in all the music is for fans of bands like Silent Descent, Scar Symmetry and intricate melodic death metal, just be careful of the explosive sound to be witnessed, it only takes a short fuse to get it going.

[5] + [7] + [8] RHYS STEVENSON
ETERNAL DREAM
'The Fall Of Salanthine'

You know when fantasies and adventures have that certain feeling to them, well when you take six musicians from the autonomous region of Andalusia and give them a studio to work in, music flows freely, lyrics run like cascading waterfalls, full of drama, power and elegancy and yet the resulting crescendo comes as perhaps Spain's best answer to Within Temptation. Eternal Dream strap together the heavenly sounds of the female vocals with the fast and pacey rhythms of Power Metal to create a unique and diverse sound, a sound which can only be summed up as 'Symphonic Operatic Metal'. 'The Fall Of Salanthine' takes the listener on a journey through the roaming sands and mountains of the Spanish lands and resurrects the classical dramatics performed in the Flamenco. Strictly, Eternal Dream is the band to please fans of Blind Guardian, Within Temptation, Nightwish and Amberian Dawn, you'll never find a band like this quite again, simply magic.

[10] RHYS STEVENSON
MENZIA
'Lamb's Skin For The Wolf' + 'Way To Nowhere'

In the darkest corners of the autonomous lands of Catalonia, lays a Gothic Metal quintet of whom deliver much more than the average beauty and the beast scenario, it seems that Spanish musicians know how to flirt with the darkness at its best opportunities and so what came out in 2010 was nothing of the ordinary, the debut demo 'Lamb's Skin For The Wolf' was brought into this world and with it came an elegant stream of 'los sonidos del amor', or 'streams of love' in that the music delivers that romantic touch and feeling whilst backing it up with the solid beats of the drums and crisp riffing from the guitars and so with 'Lamb's Skin For The Wolf' now firmly set in stone, the next move was to become perhaps the most pivotal in the band's career.

Moving into modern times and there is a clear sense of musical adjustment, Menzia return to release their 2012 and second demo 'Way To Nowhere', bringing back with them their unique style of Gothic Metal in the style of Lacuna Coil and Delain. Putting together a host of melodic keyboard notes with soul-crushing percussion and guitar riffs and coating the music with a lashing of beautifully powerful vocals to produce a sensational demo. There is not much else to say about this demo only that it is a cleverly produced release and that it is sure to please many fans in the Gothic Metal vein, the band's next move will be an interesting one.

[6] RHYS STEVENSON
L'ENDEVI
'An Eternity'
ART GATES

The sophomore album by Valencian quintet L'endevi could have been better, the vocals at times sound too forced and so completely undermine the true sounds of Gothic Metal. The music itself is spot on, adding a unique and dark feel to the atmosphere, but the female vocals are too much and so totally wreck the album. 'An Eternity' in a nutshell is a fairly decent release but it falls far short of anything ground breaking, sure it's due to gain some attention across the continent, but until the vocals are redone and the anger is thought through, sad to say L'endevi won't break out of the underground. If only they could add a keyboardist, now that would act as a great partner to the angry vocals, in fact actually the band have a lot of potential, they just need to find the right road to it.

[6] RHYS STEVENSON
ETERNAL CHAOS
'Dark God Of The Eternal'
MIGHTY HORDES

Darkness was reported to have covered Colombia entirely on the 28th May 2010, when Black Metal quartet Eternal Chaos made their debut album come alive in the harshest and most evil kind of ways. 'Dark God Of The Eternal' is your classic Black Metal album, loaded with raw guitars, hellish and heavenly vocals and insanely fast drumming. For a Colombian Metal band it is surprisingly well executed but the same patterns here and there do drag it down a bit, regardless of that it is a decent enough album that will please fans of Darkthrone and most Black Metal bands, with this album now firmly set in stone, Eternal Chaos are flying the flag for the Colombian Metal scene.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
OPVS LEVIATHAN
'I:O:I'
MIGHTY HORDES

It seems that Colombia has a knack of producing some rather interesting and musically intricate Black Metal, so when Opvs Leviathan call it time to release their debut album 'I:O:I', it could not be anymore greater produced than it has been. This is a band wallowing in the depths of Epic Black Metal, why epic? Due to the feeling of adventure riding on their debut album 'I:O:I', it takes the listener on a journey through the mountainous and drug-cartel lands of Colombia whilst keeping them on their toes with furious drumming and outrageous riffing. You know, if Opvs Leviathan ever set foot on European soil, they may well make the Norwegian bands wet themselves in their sleep, 'I:O:I' is that powerful, check it out if you dare.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
DIVINE CODEX
'The Dark Descent'
MIGHTY HORDES

'The Dark Descent', you might as well call it Technical Black Metal, let's face it, it features old-school Black Metal in the Mayhem style and adds technical elements here and there, so what you get effectively is a parallel sounding album, neat eh? So when the Italian duo Divine Codex releases this monstrosity, they unleashed with it a load of hell, maniac geniuses and sensational music precision. Wielding together a sound that bizarrely no other modern Black Metal band has even dreamt of and yet they remain pretty underground, well 'The Dark Descent' in a nutshell takes the listener on a journey to hell and back; remember the password out though, for The Divine Codex is a tough puzzle to crack.

[8.5] RHYS STEVENSON
 
KOSMOS
'From Innocence To Pervesity'

French Black Metal has always been a hit and miss area and from time to time bands or projects emerge that wipe the floor with the rest of the scene, unfortunately its projects like Kosmos who loiter on the fence. The debut album 'From Innocence To Pervesity' delivers sensational musical compositions via insane drumming, raw riffs and a dark grim atmosphere, but what lets it down is the vocals, sure there is meant to be vocals, but it just sounds like static on the microphone. Overall the album is fairly well done, but the vocals need more work to be done rather than making pretty designs using corpse paint.

[6] RHYS STEVENSON
SPIRITS WAY
'Brainless Puppets Are Enslaved'

Polish Death Metal quartet Spirits Way take no time out to release their next opus as a year after their 2011 debut EP, they release their debut album 'Brainless Puppets Are Enslaved'. Kicking off with technical metal simmering in the background and Death Metal delivering the goods in extreme form, this is a solid prime example of how Death Metal should be conducted. 'Brainless Puppets Are Enslaved' features seven tracks of nitty-gritty music and twenty-one minutes worth of complete annihilation of the hearing senses. It would be really odd if no record label snaps this lot up, brimming with potential and attitude, 'Brainless Puppets Are Enslaved' may as well be Polish Metal album of the year.

[8.5] RHYS STEVENSON
BURNING SHADOWS
'Gather, Darkness!'

The question is 'Why on earth aren't these guys signed'? Listeners would most probably agree when checking out Burning Shadows and their sophomore album 'Gather, Darkness!', lashing together majestic Power Metal vocals with the traditional sounds of Heavy Metal to create a folklorish album. Mixing their intricate music with the lyrical topics of mythology, war and Tolkien themes, no wonder the overall product sounds like a thousand horses galloping; it's fast-paced, full of unexpected twists and turns and ultimately truly American. For the Maryland quartet this is a step forward and is sure to get attention across the globe.

[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
HELLSPAWN
'The Great Red Dragon'
Wydawnictwo Muzyczne Psycho

Hellspawn return to shed out their sophomore album 'The Great Red Dragon', the Polish quartet clearly have influence from titans Behemoth as there are very identical riffs between the two, even so 'The Great Red Dragon' is a well-produced slab of no-bullsh*t Death Metal. It is fast, brutal and a skull-smashing piece of musicianship. From the first second to the last riff, 'The Great Red Dragon' wipes the floor with their previous releases and is sure to garner much attention across Europe. With the drums blazing and the guitars shedding out notes like as if he has the runs, Hellspawn have done it again and brought their signature sound to the table for a second round.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
IBLIS
'Menthell'
D.T.M PRODS

Strange things happen and sometimes they cannot be explained, such a chase is the debut album by Iblis from Poland, their album 'Menthell' covers much of the old school Black 'N' Roll that they seemed to play, but in fact most of the album dives into the Avant-Garde Metal pool and plucks out some of the most bizarre sounds ever imaginable. Playing in the style of bands like December Wolves, Aarni and Sunn O))), the quartet produce a unique sound that is hard to compare with any other bands. Weaving the Avant-Garde influences with their style of Post-Black Metal, Iblis are a one of a kind.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
PANDEMONIUM
'Misanthropy'
PAGAN

Number four has dropped and strangely enough it's a nothing, the drums pummel away as it says in the script, but with no build-up or anti-climax, this failed to break the box office, enough of the film language, this is music, or so it should be. For Poland's Pandemonium, it couldn't get any bizarre, for starters the album tends to lack presence, yet the music is fine, the atmosphere is dull, yet the feeling is there. 'Misanthropy' in question is indeed a question mark over the band's excellent record of decent albums, but this is one they should quickly forget, from such a long-running band and a well known one at that, much was more to be expected than has been delivered.

[5] RHYS STEVENSON
WARHEAD
'The End Is Here'

Sometimes you just think that recording studios can go from absolute perfection to backyard trash, sadly the album in question got beaten up in the backyard. 'The End Is Here' by American Thrashers Warhead is their debut album, yet to listen to it, you need speakers at maximum, it is that bad. The music itself is well done, a straight-edge production in the vein of Thrash Metal and clearly shows signs that they stuck to it and did not deviate, but for the level of the sound that is produced at a normal level, well you would need a huge speaker system to make it sound ok, sad to say but 'The End Is Here' for Warhead.

[2.5] RHYS STEVENSON
SVENTOYAR (Свентояр)
'Our Strength'
BLACK DEATH PROD.

Those Eastern Europeans, lavish and deep in their beloved folk music and beliefs, so when Sventoyar (Свентояр) come back to release their sophomore album 'Our Strength', it cannot be helped but to notice this is a band singing about Slavonic Paganism, folklore and nationalism, but don't dub them as a Nazi band, this is not the case. The Ukrainian quintet come together to produce a beautiful display of traditional folk music with the harsh sounds of Metal music to create something extraordinary. Singing in their native Ukrainian language, you get that truly glorious feel of being taken into the ancient history of their lands and with 'Our Strength' now firmly set in stone, Sventoyar are taking Ukrainian Metal to greater heights.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
_
YOSSI SASSI
'Melting Clocks'
VERYCORDS

Most of the albums coming from the Middle East tend to have that exotic feel about them, 'Melting Clocks' is no different, the total instrumental album by Orphaned Land's Yossi Sassi delivers the best sounds of traditional Hebrew and Israeli music with the solid backbone of rock music. Composed in such a way that even at Yom Kippur, this would be a perfect soundtrack to the colourful festival. Garnered by the authentic Oriental sounds of the native homeland of Christianity, Yossi Sassi delivers a masterpiece classic to the world in a thousand colours and with his 'Melting Clocks' album now firmly set in the music world; this is just the start of something rather epic.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
DARK AMBITION
'Gallows Of Empire'
ROCK SPACE KOREA

On the other side of the globe in South Korea, comes a return for the sextet Dark Ambition and their sophomore album 'Gallows Of Empire'. The Seoul-based band deliver another round of their unique Melodic Black / Folk / Death Metal sound combo and their historical legends as lyrics once more, such a fine album this is and especially since it's the bands tenth anniversary. Mixing heavenly keyboard notes with the harsh brutality executed by the drums, vocals and guitars, altogether come as one to produce one of the finest dark albums South Korea has ever seen. 'Gallows Of Empire' is in fact for fans of Cradle Of Filth, Hecate Enthroned, Ancient Rites and general Extreme Dark Metal.

[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
 
GENUINE RELIEF
'Behind The Smile'
METALGATE

Billed as possibly the best answer from the Czech Metal scene in the Black / Death Metal vein, Genuine Relief may sound a cliché to the previous statement, but make no mistake. With drums so heavy and fast it makes the Skoda car look weak, smashing the norm with evil riffs and grizzly vocals on their debut album 'Behind The Smile', it is likely that this band will see attention across Europe and perhaps beyond. With a bleak atmosphere drawn up from the pits of hell and the music crafted so finely it would appear similar to the final product of a gold smith, it's heavy, shiny and most importantly 100% metal, Genuine Relief are a band to watch and ideally prepare to be mesmerised by.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
MARIONETTE
'Nerve'

'Nerve' marks the return of the Swedish sextet Marionette but with a new drummer and vocalist in their ranks, whilst conventionally not as lively as 'Enemies', the third opus produces a darker and far more atmospheric sound to their organic style of playing. With Alexander Andersson bringing in his Black Metal influences, Marionette are darker than ever. Taking on board the Gothenburg sound and adapting it to a trance-laden slice of cutting edge Melodic Death Metal, 'Nerve' is an album with a total sound shift and has redirected the band's emphasis on the whole Visual Kei visage. But don't be fooled, the album still delivers that unique sound pioneered by Aron, Mikael, Anton and Linus and has only been maximised by the two new recruits, with 'Nerve' finally on the table, Marionette are arming themselves to take the world by storm. With Marionette, not only do you get a six-piece machine, but you get a full-on punch that will crush your soul and you're very last 'Nerve'.

[9] RHYS STEVENSON
LIVEEVIL
'3 Altering'
METALGATE

'3 Altering' is the third outing by Czech Electro-Gothic Metallers Liveevil, following their 2009 sensation 'Unique Constellation' it was always going to be a tricky task to summon up something far greater than itself, yet Liveevil have managed to pull it off, returning with their electronic backdrop and deep male vocals, the quartet once again captivate the minds of the listener with their Eisbrecher / Rammstein - style sound and twist it to deliver a cracker of an album. However, at some points the music sounds a little repetitious and thus loses fluiditiy, but despite that the album itself combines elements in the far-side of the music genres concerned. '3 Altering' is an album with a load of electronic beats, gothic influence and industrial cores, but it is not ground breaking, or is it?

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
MILOS MEIER
'DRUMMING SYNDROME - DRUM SHOW'
METALGATE

In the 2012 release of Miloš Meier's 'Drumming Syndrome' DVD, the Czech drumming maestro takes the viewers on a whirlwind journey through the drummers life of how he came to play drums, who he has met and played with and more importantly acts as a platform for budding drummers to cotton on to how the legend plays and what tips the lad has. Featuring three live videos of his sets in the Czech settlements of Olomouc, Ostrana and Hronov as well as a live studio video at the akropolis and also special features like music videos, other live shows with the bands he plays in: Stroy, Dymytry and Noid, topped off with a documentary all about the man himself. For budding drummers and also fans of Czech Metal music, this is a superb DVD to watch and be educated by, experience the force of a Czech drumming wizard and be infected by the 'Drumming Syndrome'.

[8.5] RHYS STEVENSON
MINDREAPER
'Human Edge (... To The Abyss)'

Unfortunately this is not Melodic Thrash Metal as there is meant to be keyboards present, instead what we have here is an example of Thrash Metal slowed down and sped up within reason. But for Germany's Mindreaper, of whose debut album 'Human Edge (... To The Abyss) came after eleven years of the band's existence is a little disappointing, as was Germany in the world cup, you could say the quintet scored an own goal and you'd be right, the guitars are too over processed, the drums are fine (no errors present) and the vocals remain true, but overall the album lacks an element of class and so the wait for the album was a little wasted, but not a total failure, just nothing spectacular.

[4.5] RHYS STEVENSON
OBLIVION MACHINE
'Unnatural & Wrong' / 'Zero-Gravity' / 'Starfield'
MOLOT

Russia was always known for exceptional Extreme Metal, but when one band by the name of Oblivion Machine come on the block, many could not believe what they were hearing, so starting with their debut album back in 2008, 'Unnatural & Wrong' isnt the greatest of sounds, not least because the vocals are hardly present, the guitars are quiet and the drums are the only section to give the release any life in it. However it is fast paced and acts as a promising catalyst for the later releases. 'Unnatural & Wrong' is not the best of starts but the band can only progress from there, in the end it is an album that isn't a total failure, but isn't a great album either.

Coming into 2011 and the band's third album 'Zero-Gravity' wipes the floor with their debut album, there is far more presence on the album and perhaps its the female vocals that they are missing as they add that extra level of movement to the release, a truly grand mix of electronic sounds with the harshness of Death Metal and Industrial Metal. With sounds similar to that of fellow country-men Xe-None and Illidiance, Oblivion Machine with 'Zero-Gravity' have clearly found their sound that will suit them forever. Sensational riffs and danceable drumming come together and are topped with some really evil vocals of which leaves the album as possibly the turning point in the bands existance.

2012 came into view and the next release by Oblivion Machine took shape, this time in the form of their
first ever EP called 'Starfield'. Continuing the new sound of electronic death metal with the heavenly female vocals, this is a promising release and platform for the new sound to be fully exploited on. 'Starfield' is a thirty-six minute, six track opus for which achieves to captivate the listener in excellent form. Not much else can be said about this release only that it will provide Oblivion Machine with a brutal from of assault, the cyberstorm as we know it has only just begun.

[4] + [7.5] + [8] RHYS STEVENSON
BLOOD & BRUTALITY
'Sick Of It All' / 'The Blood & The Brutality'
BLOOD & BRUTALITY

Hailing from Alabama, USA, Blood & Brutality serve up their unique twist on Death / Thrash Metal with playing Thrash Metal music and near-enough Death Metal vocals. However their sophomore album 'Sick Of It All' shows what the band is capable of doing, by lashing together some of the fastest drumming they could muster with a load of grizzly riffs and spine-chilling vocals, sure this is nothing new but it gives to be old-school and ideally happy playing what they want to play. Armed with a feast of songs to keep the listener hooked, 'Sick Of It All' proves to be one of those releases that no matter how many times you listen to it, you cannot deny it is practically old school and so therefore retains its place in metal history.

Coming into 2011 and the band go a little more on the raw side but still retain that recognisable sound established on 'Sick Of It All', or you would think. With the music now changing at different speeds from the middle-of-the-road speed to neck breaking Thrash Metal style, the sort of speed that suggests the drummer is battery operated, Duracell probably. Whether you like it or hate it, listeners cannot deny that 'The Blood & The Brutality' is probably the band's best album. It mixes the Slayer Thrash Metal sound with the Death Metal vocals devised in the Swedish lands. it is this sensational combination that gives the album it's highly recognisable tune and is sure to please many listeners alike across the globe, old hat people may say, we say metal to the bone, 'The Blood & The Brutality' of the state of Alabama.

[7] + [8] RHYS STEVENSON
PASSION OF DEATH
'Passion of Death'
BLOOD & BRUTALITY

Well there is not much to go by on this release only that is was released this year, the band comes from Alabama, the drummer is the owner of Blood & Brutality Records and that this band play Death / Thrash Metal. Ok so 'Passion of Death' is pretty much a low-budget recording but the music still delivers in its raw form over the course of five tracks and it is these five tracks that ultimately suggest that the band are on to something unique, with agility on the forefront of the drumming department and the cutting-edge riffs carving their way through the silent atmosphere, 'Passion of Death' is a decent enough solid start from the duo.

[6] RHYS STEVENSON
WOLFSHEAD
'Promo 2012'

Dragging out the original sounds of Heavy Metal when it was born and adding a modern stance on it with guttural vocals is Finnish quartet Wolfshead and their debut promo, their first ever release in their 2nd year of activity. Dubbed 'Traditional Heavy Metal', the quartet from Oulu do not fail to impress with their Iron Maiden-esque style of playing and yet they manage to cut themselves some slack and deliver music that comes from the heart. With their 2012 promo, listeners can here vocals so melodramatic they make mood swings look appalling, as for the music itself, it's similar to a sweet shop, designed to make anyone high off their tits. None the less, this band will go far and this promo won't go unnoticed.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
NARBARION
'Les Ailes Noires'

Usually French Black Metal is as bad as a drunk downing his own pee, but when Narbarion, a one-man project led by Lourdes musician Morkhor comes into the limelight with his debut demo 'Les Ailes Noires', this is a reprieval that was a long-time coming. Mixing the harsh raw sounds of Black Metal with ambient sounds like crows and running water, this is a truly atmospheric release. Naturally all of the songs are sung in French, but that does not withdraw the music from being sensational, in fact it adds a level of uniqueness to the final product. 'Les Ailes Noires' is a demo for any Black Metal fan and is sure to light the path to greater releases, in the veins of Burzum and Blut Aus Nord, Narbarion is a name that will eventually be on everyone's tongues, you won't find music like this anywhere else.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
 
WORKSHOP
'Khooni Murga'
DEMONSTEALER

Who would have thought that the art of comedy could mix with the harsh brutality of Heavy Metal, well back in 2008 a disturbance was born and caused a result in 2009. Workshop, the Indian Heavy Metal quartet who specialise in humour, comedy and parody, conjured up their debut album back in 2009, fronted by Sahil Makhija (vocalist of India's most famous band Demonic Resurrection), the Mumbai boys deliver a tongue-in-cheek twist on the classic side of the Heavy Metal infrastructure, by singing in both English and the local variation of Hindi, mixing classic sounds and hilarious punch lines, it is no wonder why Workshop are a band in a class of their own.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
BLYND
'Punishment Unfolds'

Hailing from the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean, Blynd unleash a three-track taster of what is to come, fresh from their sensational performance at Bloodstock Open Air, the Cypriot quartet do not fail to impress with their Heavy Thrash Metal and brutal breakdown combo. For a band from a scene with as much known metal as the vast wine selection on the fertile land, Blynd without any doubt deliver the goods and in excellent form, it's fast and grizzly meshed with chunky riffs, eccentric drumming and totally 100% metal, the album when it's out for real will be interesting enough.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
BLACK TRIP
'Heart Of The Dream'

Now neither Thrash Metal nor Melodic Death Metal is meant to be sloppy and so when Black Trip comes back with their third EP, hands just cover the face. Whilst it clear has a bit of both the vocals aren't clear and the musical composition is basic standard with no fluidity or deviation at all thus leaving it on a knife edge. For Mexico's Black Trip, their 2012 EP 'Heart of the Dream' resembles nothing but a simple sound with added solo's, even which are a tad all over the place, let's face it if it were to be a football team, the goalie would be sent off and a 30-0 deficit imaginable, sure it's not a complete failure but neither is it anything groundbreaking, effectively what this means is that the 'Heart of the Dream' has been shattered.

[5] RHYS STEVENSON
SLAY THE SHEPHERD / RAPID DOMINANCE
'Rise Of The Antagonist' / 'Premonition'

Two releases, nearly the same band. So when Slay The Shepherd made their only release 'Rise of the Antagonist' back in 2011, little did they know they were to change to become Rapid Dominance. However 'Rise of the Antagonist' delivers a tricky combination of aggressive riffs and gritty vocals but the sound obviously was not good for the band hence the change, but overall the release 'Rise Of The Antagonist' is a good attempt, but the change-over can also mean that they did not like their current position and so with that in mind shifted to a newer direction.

Shifting to 2012 and the new boys Rapid Dominance do not fail with their debut EP 'Premonition', mixing the sounds of Lamb of God and a myriad of metal sub-genres; namely Progressive Metal with Death / Thrash Metal. It's fast flowing, powerfully brutal and insanely intricate, lashed with technical riffs and vocals so disturbing it made any autopsy automatically become a comedy. This is a band with a load of fury and wizardry stored up their sleeves, more than the predecessors had and it is this band that will lead the Danish Metal scene to newer levels.

[5] + [7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
RAGER
'Image Of Fear'

From time to time release come out so poor you have to double the level your speakers are just to barely hear them, such a band is Rager from Weston-Super-Mare of whom have released their second EP and ultimately play it in the Slayer style, slamming rhythms, guitar-wire flaming riffs and blazing vocals, there should be a restraining order on this lot for going too fast on the instruments. Overall the release is a fairly decent effort but the clarity that's lacking leaves the release totally open to any criticism or praise, it's just that it isn't a powerful start.

[5.5] RHYS STEVENSON
SHOT AT DAWN
'White Trash Metal Brigade'

Norway generally has a reputation for spewing out bands in the Thrash and Black Metal sub-genres, but even that does not equate the force of Shot At Dawn. Lashing furious breakdowns with intricate melodies and mesmerising technical attributes, 'White Trash Metal Brigade' is their pivotal album. The ten-legged Melodic Death Metal / Deathcore machine combine elements from bands like BMTH, Suicide Silence, Bleeding Through and the adequate Deathcore breakdown; this is the sort of album and band to garner label attention across the Americas and Europe whilst carving the two genres in half. Threading a sound together that sounds so unique it makes Deathcore seem infant to the incredible tune devised by this Oslo lot, for fast brutal and grizzly music look no further, join the 'White Trash Metal Brigade' and watch your enemies as they are Shot At Dawn.

[10] RHYS STEVENSON
WILL WALLNER  / VIVIEN VAIN
'Will Wallner / Vivien Vain'

So the side-project to White Wizzard is born and by jove does it kick off in electrifying style, enter Will Wallner accompanied by the illustrious Vivien Vain delivering the fiery raging vocals. The duo from L.A. California make their 3 year wait for a debut come to a close as they unleash the Hard Rock / Heavy Metal belter 'Will Wallner / Vivien Vain', featuring all the classy elements from bands such as Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Van Halen and more, this is simply a breathtaking album full of the old classic sounds with a modern emphasis. Harmonious vocals surrounded by some crafty and technical guitar work and backed up by some insane drumming; this is an album with everything chucked in and is sure to get some well-deserved attention.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
_
BANSHEE
'Mindslave'
SNOWBLIND PRODS.

It only took an eleven year period for Kansas wizards Banshee to re-emerge from the tornado bunker and deliver an album worthy of F5 classification. Their third album in their 27 year existence is a sharp reminder this band is far beyond finished, crafting and curling up their unique sound in the Power Metal sub-genre. The quartet may be clocking on and the modern generation may seem them as has-beens, but this is simply not the case, Banshee are far from finished and with 'Mindslave' bringing the original tones and sounds of classic Power Metal back to the frontline, this is just the beginning of something far more epic than the first landing on the moon.

[7]  RHYS STEVENSON
RIGOR MORTIS
'Grave New World'
BRUTAL SYNDICATE

If not for the horrendous vocals that sound so much like a guy being tortured or castrated, it would be a decent album, even so the sloppy bass sound adds more to the pain the ears are receiving. This is of course the 2011 EP by Japanese Thrash Metallers Rigor Mortis and it, well, is very non-descript. 'Grave New World' sets up a fast and ferocious drumming style and the riffing does well to keep in time, but the bass and the vocals are the major let down and if it is to be that Rigor Mortis are to aim for a debut album, they have got a long way to go, one whole album of this could cause death by dangerous music, there again it's better than Bieber so everyone is in the clear.

[4.5] RHYS STEVENSON
DIABLERIE
'Transition'

Corr good lord, so much energy has surged through the speakers and it is this energy that gets the vibes on their toes, raving and getting down to the groove. Because you can't get enough from Diaberie's second EP 'Transition'. Mixing the funk sound experienced in Industrial Metal and tarnishing it with the synthetic sounds of Electronic Metal and putting into it vocals of the Hardcore guild, this is a truly sensational piece of music and is sure to go down well in the Finnish Metal scene. Showing off clear influences from bands like The Berzerker, Impaled Nazarene, The Amenta and other Extreme Metal bands, Diablerie may become more than just a blip on the radar.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
 
PURSUIT OF POWER
'Across The World'

You can get the sense of forward thrust on Pursuit Of Power's debut album 'Across The World', ideally a great soundtrack for those going on tornado chasing, with it's tasty melodic riffs and harmonious musical backdrops, 'Across The World' is a one of a kind. Spawned from the brains of Martin McCann and his friend Steve Mullican Jr., the musical epic delivers a breathtaking elegant production of solid music, epic atmosphere and heavenly vocals, all of which can be drawn in comparison to bands like Sonata Arctica and Iron Maiden. If 'Across The World' is anything to go by, Pursuit Of Power could may well be bringing a new sound to the table, with bouncy riffs, speedy drumming and pedal to the metal no-nonsense.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
BEYOND EXISTENCE
'Rising Tide'

Words escape on this one, the production is dire and the drums are hardly heard, even the subtle guitar riffing gets less acknowledgement than a farmer on holiday leave. The fact being the quality is poor is an understatement; sure that generally can't be helped but the lack of musical presence is not really acceptable, even if it is the debut EP by Beyond Existence from The Netherlands. However, it is not entirely a flat fail, the only reprisal is that the keyboards give a delicate introduction, but the overall reaction to this release is not one of positivity, much has to be changed and fast or Beyond Existence could be faced with their own 'Rising Tide'.

[3] RHYS STEVENSON
ANGIST
'Circle of Suffering'

2011 saw another Icelandic Death Metal release, it seems that the country has a fascination with bringing out Death Metal releases, yet usually they are of tough quality, and Angist's 'Circle of Suffering' is no exception, bringing to the battlefront the old school style in the form of Bloodbath and Death to name a few. Fluid drumming, gut-rotten vocals and tricky riffs combine and mesh together to excrete a sound so petrifying, it made Eyjafjallajökull erupt in fear. Featuring two females and two males, the quartet from Reykjavík bring a revival to the old guard and freshen up the Icelandic Metal scene. 'Circle of Suffering' is a good sign of more to come, the tremors can be heard, you have been warned.

[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
J.T. RIPPER
'Death Is Among Us'

German Speed Thrashers J.T. Ripper (Jack The Ripper) make a solid start to their career with their old school 80's style demo 'Death Is Among Us'. Playing uniquely in the style of early Slayer and Sepultura, the quartet makes no mess about it and progress with no hesitating whatsoever. Raw and rough recordings are how it should be and this band do not fail to impress with this release from which would seem apt to dub as possibly the revival of German 80's Thrash Metal. Taking a pinch of no-nonsense and dipping it in the cauldron of history, J.T. Rippers take the grizzly times of their historical moniker and moulds it onto modern times.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
SLIPPERY
'First Blow'

Take into account bands like Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, Deep Purple and more in the Hard Rock / Heavy Metal vein and then add the Brazilian attitude to it and you end up with the quintet Slippery with their rocking debut album 'First Blow', their first album in their eight year career. With classic vocals in the Bruce Dickinson style and the guitars and drums coming together in the original Hard Rock style, this is a band who knows how to play clean edge metal without the need to be tricky, complex or so congested that they need a breather every five seconds. 'First Blow' is for those fans of classic NWOBHM and original Hard Rock music magic.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
THRIVEN
'Bag Of Scumbags'

Brazilian Metal is always known to be a fast and flexible sound when it comes to producing Heavy Metal, so when the quintet Thriven deliver their first album 'Bag Of Scumbags', the mountains shook and the pace of life in Sao Paulo went out of sync. Mixing Groove tunes with the smackdown force of Metalcore, the five-piece deliver a unique twist on Lamb of God from which is a clear influence. From the sensational and epic breakdown on 'A la Calabresi' to the spine-snapping speed track known as 'Fudge'. This is an album with enough potential to blow holes in speakers worldwide, this is the real deal, this is the 'Bag Of Scumbags' and it's going to haunt you, you have been warned.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
CROSS UP YOURS
'Holy Shit'

The voice of hate, the hatred against all religions is among us and it comes in various forms, so when Greg Bukinus delivers his first EP from the Black / Death Metal project Cross Up Yours, you get the sense this is one pissed off person. 'Holy Shit' delivers the raw vocals experienced in the darkest forms of Black Metal whilst enraging the human senses with the insanely fast drumming. Distinctly taking influences from bands like Carpathian Forest and Darkthrone, Cross Up Yours does more than deliver the evil goods, it says fuck to everyone and everything whilst morally and musically saluting the big fat middle finger, moral is: "when you put the Cross Up Yours, you get 'Holy Shit".

[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
SUNLIGHT REALITY
'Through The Rings Of Darkness'

Russia's Melodic Death Metal newcomers Sunlight Reality unleash their debut album 'Through The Rings Of Darkness' with a sound that sounds so common amongst other bands, the drumming is a little bland and ideally it's more of a Death Metal album as the melodies are just not there. The riffs are too consistent and lack any fluidity and the vocals are more shrieking than growling, so whether the band are in the wrong genre ideology or they weren't on their best form during the recording phase, remains a mystery, but it's not all there to be condoned, in fact the best descent thing about the album is that its fast, but even then it sounds a bit too fast, ah well
MOUNTAIN GRAVE
'Ruins' & 'Rage & Ruin'

Black / Death Metal from the USA at times can be dire, dull and boring, however it can be rewarding and so when bands like Mountain Grave come around, they swing the pendulum the other way, now taking into account that their 2010 demo is a raw sounding release and that this is between two albums, the overall production is not it's best. The drums deliver a solid sound and the raw buzzing of the guitars install a unique atmosphere but the vocals are hardly heard if not result in simple shrieks. Given due it has a dark and disturbing atmosphere it lacks in the musical presence section and as a result leaves the demo on a knife-edge.

2011 was a little better but had a trippy sound to it, instead of full-on double bass drumming and harsh vocals demolishing the sound around, it desecrates the release itself. The release in question is the band's second album 'Rage & Ruin', give due the riffs are more rampant than its predecessor and the drums are far more lively, but the vocals need a little oomph in the intonation. Overall it is a decent enough, crafted release but there are some minor areas that need dressing, if anything the album is for fans of old Black / Death Metal and not so much the behemoth style that dominates this genre these days.

[4] + [6] RHYS STEVENSON
TO THE MARROW
'For Your Blinded Minds'

Smashing through the barriers of sound is newbies To The Marrow, the German Progressive Deathrashers make their immediate debut with their first ever album 'For Your Blinded Minds'. Featuring a multitude for sick breakdowns, feisty riffs, gut-wrenching drumming and juicy vocals, 'For Your Blinded Minds' is more than an album, it's a god damn assault course. Taking influence from bands like HateSphere and The Black Dahlia Murder, the quartet immerse the listener in some of the heaviest metal Germany has to offer this year, an instantaneous classic is born here and is sure to propel To The Marrow into the international metal scene limelight, if you thought you seen Extreme Metal, think again, you haven't seen nothing yet!

[9] RHYS STEVENSON
 
ELDERS' TALES
'A Dreamer's Phantasy'

The debut demo from French Melodic Power Metal sextet is a great effort but the male vocals are something to be less desired, it doesn't carry the same level of power that female vocals would do. However through the melancholy and Gothic-tinged atmosphere, Elders' Tales do deliver a superb musical side, one filled with calm moods and vibrant colours. Classed as an album that delivers that relaxation factor, it does not fall short of anything but a decent album and points the band in the right direction, with the melodies fusing together Gothic elements and fantasy together whilst merging it with high vocals; which in relation to the previous statement perhaps could feature both gender vocals and then it will simply be 'A Dreamer's Phantasy' of Beauty & The Beast.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
DRAIN LIFE
'Revelations Of The Enslaved'

A three years wait and the Dutch sorrow-masters of Thrashy Metalcore come back to deliver their second offering 'Revelations Of The Enslaved', full of speed and insane vocals, this is a hit and miss album as the band switch from genre to genre at the sound of a riff and motion of a blastbeat. Summoning up the spit-in-your-face style of Metalcore and lashing it with grizzly Thrash Metal toppings, 'Revelations Of The Enslaved' is certified to construct and destruct the listener piece by painful piece as the quintet put together a riff-a-thon of mesmerising guitar compositions and ingenious drumming of which can only be totally backed up by the vocals of total chaos. If you want to click your neck, listen to Doom Metal, if you want to snap a thousand necks listen to Drain Life.

[9] RHYS STEVENSON
_ NUCLEAR ASSAULT
'Atomic Waste! Demos & Rehearsals'
HIGH ROLLER

For a band that started in 1984, split-up and reunited three times during the past 28 years, the time has come for a rain check, or ideally a compilation of the greats. Enter 'Atomic Waste! Demos & Rehearsals' by New York old-school Thrashers Nuclear Assault, with a history linking with a number of Thrash acts including: Holy Moses, Anthrax and Soulfly to name a few, 'Atomic Waste! Demos & Rehearsals' is more than a collection of old music, its classic gold! Mixing the 80's Thrash Metal style developed along the East coast of the USA, Nuclear Assault deliver a powerful and extreme presence with this compilation, from start to finish through over an hour’s worth of yesteryear classics, this is the finest compilation of one of America's unspoken bands. 'Atomic Waste! Demos & Rehearsals' is for fans of old school thrash metal and lovers of crossover, it is without a doubt a pure, timeless classic.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
GUERILLA TREE
'Mental Leaps'

Much like H.I.M. from Finland, the vocals on Guerilla Tree's debut album 'Mental Leaps' delivers the deep male vocals of the Gothic Metal subgenre and lashes it with sensational epic melodies and meaningful percussion. Very much in the vein of Dream Theater and Type O'Negative, the German quintet compose a masterpiece of absolute undisputable perfection in it's most modest form. Eccentric solo's and gallant music take the listener on a whirlwind journey through the dark forests and gothic landscapes of Medieval Germany. It generally is not easy to discover label material, but give Guerilla Tree due, they are sure to attract a host of labels and with 'Mental Leaps' under their belts, the next step will be an interesting one.

[9] RHYS STEVENSON
REDEYE
'I Am God'

The fourth demo is dropped and still no debut album in the six years of Redeye's existence, bit worrying, but when you get a band like this mixing old school Thrash Metal with the modern brutality of furious Death Metal, you can understand it's simply too good to put into album form. Hard hitting and insane music is driven by three burly musicians and one wordsmith, simply put the whole quartet and their finished effort 'I Am God' makes any Death / Thrash Metal band weep in their sleep, a ferocious display of utmost anger, harsh brutality and face-smashing metal, 'I Am God' is a promising sign of more extreme music to come.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
TEMPUS FUSION
'To End It All'

There's a storm brewing over Hampshire and it isn't a weather one either, shooting colours across the sky from the top of the Spinnaker Tower and creating waves in the form of their majestic debut album 'To End It All'. Taking clear influences from The Defiled, Devin Townsend, Gojira and TesseracT, Tempus Fusion are set to rock the nation, let alone Bloodstock this year. With this valiant and vibrant offer it would seem likely that will be signed in the near future, it cannot be ignored. 'To End It All' delivers a torrent of double bass drumming, wind-swept riffs and solo's, precise composition and a soothing vocal range to go with it, for Tempus Fusion 'To End It All' is to drive metal music to the extreme levels.

[10] RHYS STEVENSON
FLAMEDROP
'Burn Every Clue (Promo)'

So apart from the odd occurrence of a chugging bass sound, the overall production of 'Burn Every Clue (Promo)' comes as no surprise as a superbly executed release, the 2012 demo by Hungarian Melodic Deathrashers Flamedrop is a prequel to what is yet to come and serves up as a promising step for the young quintet. The three tracks on the release are of great significance in that this could be the build up to their awaited debut album, although focusing on the demo in hand it delivers epic melodies, crushing riffs and speedy drumming, all of which mesh together to give a hard-on full-on metal experience, from start to the finish Flamedrop bring to the table a new unique sound.

[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
BLUE GILLESPIE
'Seven Rages Of Man'

It would seem that the Welsh valleys had a sudden drop of rampant sheep and that locals reported mysterious woolly creatures moshing to the sound of 'Seven Rages Of Man', or maybe it was marauding scientists checking out the insane technicality shown by Blue Gillespie. 'Seven Rages Of Man' marks the return of Newport's sons Blue Gillespie for their second outing, mixing complex riffs with a harsh progressive sound and commanding vocals, it is clear to see that 'Seven Rages Of Man' could easily be compared to Mastodon's 'The Hunter'. Full on metal at a fairly melodic level and yet regardless of the calmness here and there, the vocals rough up the noise in ballistic style, no wonder health and safety went crazy over South Wales, this stuff is lethal.

[9] RHYS STEVENSON
Волчий Острог
'Багряный Восход Возрождения'
GRAILIGHT PRODS.

Волчий Острог is a septet from the vast lands of Russia and they come out of the shadows with their emphatic debut album 'Багряный Восход Возрождения'. Layering Melodic Death Metal with the folk sounds of Pagan Metal and shaping it using their native Russian language, Волчий Острог prove that they are a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the album changes speed from going insanely fast to having a more mid-paced melodic feel especially on 'Багряный Рассвет Возрождения' where the guitars deal a beautifully constructed solo and the drums deliver an intricate percussive support, all whilst the vocals crash head-on with the most guttural vocals anyone could muster.

[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
_
ARCANA IMPERIA
'Новые Миры'
GRAILIGHT PRODS.

Making their return to unleash hell with their third offering, Arcana Imperia explode in the total sound of Melodic infused Black / Death Metal. 'Новые Миры' sees the quartet conduct more melodic guitar work with the fury-pace of the double bass drums amassed on top of breathtaking vocals. Lashing together the harsh sounds of the Russian language with such delinquent music is as original as a Cossack reciting latin passages. A common trait amongst most Russian bands and so the originality dissipates, along with parts in songs which have no get-up-and-go attitude and so the overall perception of their third outing is that there are good and bad parts, just don't call it groundbreaking.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
 
APOTASY
'Redemption'

Well the clarity is nearly good but as far as the music goes, it's pretty decent. This is Apotasy from Slovakia, playing Melodic Death Metal on their debut demo 'Redemption', in any sense they are similar to bands from the USA, fast double-bass drumming, epic riffs and threatening vocals. For the trio this is a solid start, of course it's not 100% perfect, but neither is any band on their first outing. 'Redemption' itself carries a little twinkle on it in that composure is tight and the resulting production is a brutal enough display of what can be achieved, if this band were to add a bassist it would sound a little more heavier, but as for the release, well it speaks for itself, modern Melodic Death Metal in it's most gruesome moment.

[6.5] RHYS STEVENSON
NEOANDERTALS
'Ebu Gogo Gutting The Child / Australopithecus'

Before the critics just slaughter this release, let's be honest it's practically Brutal Death Metal music without any lyrics, the grunting just brings out the caveman style Death Metal, or is that just an ironic pun? Whatever it is, Estonia's duo Neoandertals smash it out with their second album 'Ebu Gogo Gutting The Child', pummelling drumming drives the insanity beyond believe whilst the gut-rotten vocals completely and utterly demoralises the listener into a sound sense of utmost suicide, or perhaps it's just listener playing dead. 'Ebu Gogo Gutting The Child' is a unique album in that it provokes more of the Avant Garde album than needs to be and as a result lowers the final conclusion of the album beyond mere acceptance, listen if you will, it could just kill you.

2012 saw the third release take life, 'Australopithecus' becomes album number three in the Estonian duet's career. Now once again the drums deliver the goods, the guitars for the most part of it have a livelier approach and since the vocals have been dropped, there is a huge improvement in the sound. Sure it carries on the same salsa-like movement between the Avant Garde sound and the Brutal Death monster that emerged on their second album, but it adds a more progressive sound to the affray, especially on the drums. Now this could act as a damn good film soundtrack especially during a fight scene or especially in a spy movie, but for the salient point, the fact remains the percussive side is by far the more dominant and so this is the better album of the past two.

[4.5] + [6.5] RHYS STEVENSON
THIS BROKEN MACHINE
'The Inhuman Use Of Human Beings'

It's great when bands create their own genre names to suit their music playing and so when you have the Italian quartet This Broken Machine deliver their Progressive Metalcore debut album 'The Inhuman Use Of Human Beings', it gets instantly dubbed by the band as 'Architectural Metal, let's just hope the scaffolding holds them up and that they don't enter self-demolition mode. Anyhow, drawing crystal clear influences from bands like Killswitch Engage and Mastodon, it is no surprise then that with each riff there underlies a melody and under each melody underlies a blastbeat. Mid-tempo is the best way to describe the speed, it's not insanely fast or boringly slow but it does keep the listener on their toes. This is a sign to say that there is more to come from this Italian lot and they won't go quietly about it either.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON
CATUVOLCUS
'Gergovia'
DEATHBOUND

Quebec Blackened Folk Metal trio (now duo) Catuvolcus return with their Celtic and Gaulish music in emphatic form, with their sophomore album 'Gergovia', they deliver blazing drumming with a furious attitude in the vocal department and a raw reception with the guitars, altogether smiting all other similar sounding bands and valiantly producing a well-delivered release. With songs generally longer than six minutes on this release, there is a lot for the listener to dissect and to take on board whilst the overall production captivates the listener in an atmosphere of dark folklore and cold bitter times, Catuvolcus may well be close to exploding on the international metal scene.

[7] RHYS STEVENSON_
VORPAL NOMAD
'Hyperborea'
METALODIC

It couldn't get any better than this, the debut album by Colombian Power Metal quintet Vorpal Nomad bursts into a classic epic and outright adventurous soundtrack. 'Hyperborea' carries a harmonious sound and a real rough vocal array but interestingly sounds not unlike to bands like Winter's Verge or Nightwish and is sure to drag this band right out of the darkness and into the pits of the international metal scene community. 'Hyperborea' delivers blitzkrieg riffs, sensational drumming and some of the craziest vocals ever since the birth of Power Metal and is a key for the Colombian Metal scene to unlock itself and unleash a torrent of music across the seas, with 'Hyperborea' Vorpal Nomad is without any doubt, flying the flag for the Colombian Metal scene,

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
LINEAR SPHERE
'Manvantara'

Technical Prog Metal or Djent Metal, whatever you want to call it, the fact remains the second album by London's Linear Sphere is a journey of science, technology and long song epics. Singing in the style of the Progressive Metal vein, the quintet opt to adopt technical music as the back drop and so with that firmly installed in their compositions, the riffs get so technical it required a mathematician to calculate the time signatures as well as monitor the drum strokes. Naturally this is only the inaugural start for the lads, there is much more to do but with this album now alive and kicking, that should not be a problem. 'Manvantara' is for fans of The Devin Townsend Project, Periphery and Tesseract.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
HAILSTONE
'The Greater Counterfeit'

Arising from the graves of the mountains of Bavaria, Germany is Hailstone and their mind-blowing debut album 'The Greater Counterfeit'. Fusing the intricate melodies summoned by the quintet with the harsh brutality developed via Blackened Death Metal. This is a machine on speed, spewing out epic riffs, ulcerating vocals and face-smashing blastbeats. Playing in the style of Evocation, Kalodin and Cannibal Corpse, the five-piece from Munich do all what's needed to deliver a stellar performance and ignite their road to further achievements. From the first track to the last track, 'The Greater Counterfeit' delivers a death warrant in ten tracks, it is so brutal, they had to confine the band for three years and detoxify them from hyperactivity.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
CONTRAST
'Charybdis'

Blasting down barn doors is the ten-leg beast Contrast with their sensational sophomore album 'Charybdis'. Playing in the style of In Flames, the quintet hailing from Germany deliver a constant flow of raging riffs, firm and sustainable drumming and the most guttural vocals you can find in German Melodic Death Metal, perhaps it is the guttural level of the German language they sing in that aids the death growls! 'Charybdis' brings music that keeps the listener on their toes and does not give them a moment's peace, from the intricate riff intro on the song 'Charybdis' to the sonic speed of the drums on 'Gaias Hand', there is something for everyone on this release and it is guaranteed, Contrast won't go down quietly, this band will make waves.

[10] RHYS STEVENSON
KLAMM
'Wahnsee'

As cold and bitter as the Bavarian mountains, Klamm deliver a frosty reception with their traditional Black / Folk Metal and German language combined on their debut album 'Wahnsee'. Bringing with it a feeling of sitting by a campfire and singing to myth and folklore of the high mountains and forests of the southern German lands. Slow and melancholic spring to mind and yet essentially the album has the clean crisp atmosphere to it, dragging the listener right into the heart of the emotions expressed by this exceptional quintet, from the first very note to the last shriek, Klamm show what they are made of and are sure to become a known band without any doubt.

[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
SEKORIA
'Iter Stellarum'

Nothing comes more darker than this, well that can be debated, but when you have a quartet delivering what is perceived to be Epic Black Metal, the intonation of the sub-genre sounds out what a band is all about and so when Sekoria come on the block with their debut album 'Iter Stellarum', it cannot be automatically tagged as a general Black Metal album. It delivers its own ambient atmosphere without the use of keyboard music, now the listener may conceive that as a pathetic reason to go it alone, but their album 'Iter Stellarum' delivers justice in the most grim form yet and so what you end up with is a decent production, just don't expect any other band to do the same and succeed.

[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
 
____暗月冥 (Moonless Acheron)
暗月冥 (Moonless Acheron)
COLD WOODS PRODS

The debut album from Chinese Thrash maniacs Moonless Acheron is one full of negative compromise and epic riffs, vocals and mind-blowing composure. Not unlike Evile or Testament, Moonless Acheron emerge with their debut self-titled album with guitars blazing hot from the epic riffs produced, drums demolished and the vocals so heavy and brutal, the great wall of china has started to fall down. Mixing fast flowing and intricate musicianship with the harsh brutality of Extreme Chinese Metal, this is an album worthy of international exposure and is sure to garner attention from major magazines both in China and Europe.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
3, 14...
'Похороны Лучшего Друга (Funerals Of Best Friends)'

Returning back with their third album in their ten year career, Azerbaijani Melodic Doomsters 3, 14... bring more of their traditional music influences and the Russian language to produce a truly unique sound of middle eastern and dark music. From the first to the last second across the two disks, the band takes the listener on a winding journey through the black nights and cultural feel of their native homeland. Following up from their second serving back in 2010, the band has come a long way and have indeed improved themselves dramatically. Drawing influences from My Dying Bride and Tiamat, producing a mesmerising release and vastly becoming the most successful metal band in Azerbaijan, 3, 14... are flying the flag for the Azerbaijan Metal scene and are sure to take on Europe like a wildfire.

[9] RHYS STEVENSON
WINTER'S VEIL
'The Storm Awakens'

There's a bitter wind blowing through the streets of London and it isn't pleasant either, it's the fast-flowing soundwaves of Winter's Veil and their bitter atmospherically-charged debut album 'The Storm Awakens'. Fuelled with males vocals in the style of Bruce Dickinson, female vocals in the style of orchestral gothic metal (a lower version of Within Temptation) and musically similar to that of Pythia and Lacuna Coil, the quartet from London are sure to set sights on breaking through the underground scene and into the realms of the well-known bands. Bringing with this release, they deliver a harmonious and illustrious sound of frost-bitten Power Metal and the delicacies that come within the darkness of Gothic Metal and this album is without a doubt going to attract both fans and media alike, as well as potentially a record label, this is a band to watch.

[8] RHYS STEVENSON
SAVAGE
'Sons Of Malice'
SANCTUARY

Having been through the very birth of the sound we know as Heavy Metal back in the 1970's, having a ten year hiatus from 2002 till 2012 and now delivering their sixth overall album, it is no wonder why Savage should be regarded as a gem, a band that has seen it all. Now emerging with their latest album 'Sons Of Malice', the NWOBHM sons of Mansfield deliver a mind-blowing composition of nitty-gritty Hard Rock and wetty-sweaty Heavy Metal as they demolish all previous releases in an hour-long epic. Having a star-studded career is not complete without the classics being released and this is sure to go down as one. Full-on heavy metal riffing, rock 'n' roll attitude and a talent for producing what is regarded as being in the league of classic British Heavy Metal. 'Sons Of Malice' is for fans of Iron Maiden, AC/DC and classic metal and rock, but what makes the new line-up extra-special is three members are family and the drummer is also family.

[10] RHYS STEVENSON
TRI MEBIUS
'Blind Materials / Promised Sense'
RE-STROPHE

2011 saw the debut album from Japanese Melodic Heavy Metallers Tri Mebius come to life, their release 'Blind Material' takes the very essence of the Japanese language and moulds it with melodies and heavy brutality far beyond imaginable, however the only slight drawback is the drumming beyond too repetitious. The guitars however deal absolute peril and riff it out beyond level 13 whilst the vocals led by Nao deliver a lively feel to the release, almost similar to that of L'Arc En Ciel. For the then quintet from Osaka this is a decent enough release and set the ball in motion for them to become Japan's latest product. 'Blind Material' is for fans of Kobra & The Lotus and Sister Sin.

Moving into 2012 and the now Japanese quartet (guitarist had left in Dec 2011) make a greater effort on their single 'Promised Sense'. This time round it is far more livelier and more precise. With two songs and instrumental to keep the listener occupied, the major difference is that the music is far more powerful, the drums have greater percussion and the vocals deliver that more epic feeling. This is the sound that Tri Mebius should stick to as it works like duck to water. With this effort it is clear to see that Tri Mebius will become a well known band in Japan and hopefully Eastern Asia, but with this effort it is more than likely that they could break even further. With both songs deliviring a very upbeat atmosphere and musical deliverance, it will be hard to find a band to replace them.

[7] + [8] RHYS STEVENSON