VANIR – ALDAR ROK (Target/Mighty Music Records)

Review by Sloof

2014 was the year that I discovered the band Vanir! Their album ‘The Glorious Dead’ impressed me from start to finish and I was glad that their new output arrived in my mailbox again. Vanir is a band that delivers quality again and again, so my expectations were set at a very high level, as I demand nothing more than a band that evolved since ‘The Glorious Dead’ and a band that wants to exceed their own limits!

Denmarks most furious death metal Vikings returned with their most epic and best work to date, that’s what Target/Mighty Music told me. Of course, they praise their artists and releases the best way possible, but that’s not a certainty. I want to hear the material with my own ears, and take a deep dive into their pools of blood, where battles took place and where survivors are uncertain. Let’s have a look at the 7 wraths that are cast, let’s get drunk on virgin’s blood and follow the Black legion into their dark world where magic and wisdom go hand in hand. The text universe of Vanir gained a more historical touch and gloomy tone with songs about the last rebellion against the Christian church in Norway, where the King of Norway commanded his people to convert to Christian followers or die. These stories are told, these tales are presented with a lot of aggressive riffs and thundering drums.

‘Black Legion’ sounds furious, complete and has some Moonspell influences, which is just awesome! ‘Pretorian’ opens bombastic and I like the sound a lot. It’s all very open, but at the same time dark and mysterious. Every instrument is in balance within the mix and that’s a must for the music of Vanir. The vocals of Martin are furious, as they even have Septic Flesh influences and resemblances and if you need a song with lesser blood and violence, take a pause at ‘Drukvisen’ where Folk creeps in and Eluveitie is not that far away.

Every track on this new album is a standard for the future! No fillers, only killers, and the horde is ready to embark and devastate every possible soil and shore in their visor! Order at:http://www.targetshop.dk/uk/370643/Vanir/Aldar_R%C3%B6k/ . Vanir Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/vanirdenmark/

My rating: 90/100 (Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)

VANISH – COME TO WITHER (Massacre Records)

Review by Sloof

Vanish is a Power/Prog metal band from Germany that releases its second album after rocking numerous clubs and festivals as supporting act of Queensryche, Mystic Prophecy, Freedom Call and Axxis! They are a stable band for a decade now, and after the release of their debut album ‘Separated From Today’, it took many years to work, record and finally release their newest album ‘Come To Wither’.

After a short intro ‘Come to Wither’, where we are warned about the upcoming danger, we finally get one clear message: ‘We wish you all good luck’. What follows is an axe attack with pounding drums by Ralf Nopper. When the vocals of Bastian Rose continue, I’m shocked and surprised. What a volume, as this guy seems to have lungs like hot air balloons! He sounds dark, a little raw, and if you want to hear similar artists, I would mention Russel Allen (Symphony X), Giorgia Colleluori (Hollow Haze) and Jo Amore (ex-Nightmare, Now Or Never). In the second half of the song, we get an outstanding guitar solo that has a very sensitive approach! Great jobs, done by Tommy Rosch and Philipp Schonle!

‘Great Collapse’ is an outstanding track, but it’s not the only highlight on ‘Come To Wither’. If you want another hymn, check out ‘Renewal’, where the atmosphere is oppressive, thanks to the keyboard layer that supports the arrangement. Fantastic vocals by Bastian and a chorus line that lingers on. This is why I love music, this is exactly what I’m longing for. Challenges, innovations, surprises, craftsmanship! The prolongation drips out of my cd player and perhaps it’s because of the many times that this album is spinning the past days. The song ‘This is How We Die’ is a kind of ballad with a very personal and sensitive lyric, but the song increases in pace and heaviness!

‘Curtain Call’ is another slow down tune in the beginning, but with a duration of +9 minutes, you know that a lot of things are going to happen! It’s a rollercoaster of riffs, breaks, twists and turns, so better take some time to explore this masterpiece! The final track is ‘The Grand Design’ and Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) offered to do some guest vocals when he encountered the band at Studio 22. The interaction between high pitched vocals of Ralf and the more mature sounding Bastian works out really well.

This album seemed to be released in October 2014, and that’s really a pity, as it would end up high in my personal top 10 of 2015. Strange that this 2014 release reached our desk just recently.. Anyway, they earned and deserved an objective score and 90 is totally honest!

My rating: 90/100 (Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)


Review by Spirit In Black

Veil Of Deception is a pretty new Progressive Heavy Metal band from Austria. They were formed in 2013 and released a full-length album ‘Deception Unveiled’ that same year. With ‘Tearing Up The Roots’ their second album is here. I’m not familiar with the band so I was pretty curious what to hear.

‘Tearing Up The Roots’ is a varied album; varied because it has not one specific style. I call it Progressive Heavy Metal because it comes very close to that style the most. On the album, you will hear also traditional Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal, Groove Metal. That Veil Of Deception isn’t using one style is not bad, it isn’t a bunch of uncontrolled noise, more the opposite. All songs are very well-written and composed. Not everything is original, a guitar riff, a bass line or a drum roll that you might have heard before, in my case it is. Is that bad thing? Absolutely not! The way the songs are composed makes the album worth a listen or two or three…The songs are various enough to stay focused the whole time.

While listening, I caught myself a couple of times that the band Nevermore is flying around in my head. It must have something to do with how the songs are build up/written. Aside from that, the similarity ends here.

That it’s all good music wise, is obvious, now I come to the point of the vocals. The vocals fits very well with the fast songs/parts on the album. On the slower songs/parts it sounds a bit weird, not false, out of tone or anything, just a little weird. Can’t place exactly why. Anyway, I had to get used to it but now I do, I like the vocals in all the songs.

‘Tearing Up The Roots’ is a varied album with different styles, if you are like one or more styles mentioned before or just curious how the album sounds, check it out via the following url’s: https://www.facebook.com/VeilOfDeceptionhttp://www.veilofdeception.com/

My rating: 80/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)


(Review by Sloof)

Los Angeles Hard Rockers Venrez caused a buzz with their 2013 album release ‘American Illusion’, which resulted in a tour across the USA and UK with Slash, Alice Cooper and Buckcherry. Frontman Ven writes the lyrics of the songs, while Jason Womack (guitars) takes care of the music and production of the material. Ed Davis is the drummer in Venrez and after a change at bass, the band decided to continue with Nico D’Arnese as a quartet.

The 46 minutes start with a very special intro that sounds odd when hearing it for the first time, but after a few spins of the album, I must admit that it breaths the same vibe as the songs do. It’s a mysterious and digital approach to create a certain atmosphere that Venrez wants to share with all of you.

The alternative way isn’t really my personal favorite style and I also have a kind of bad taste about the vocals and their deformation. It’s all very robotic, very digital sounding and spacey. I don’t know why they add this distortion throughout the album. It just doesn’t sound human, but at the same time, I guess it was all meant to be this way. It’s all too psychedelic in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean that the music and songs on ‘Children Of The Drones’ is substandard or simply bad, it all has to do with personal preference and this can be considered as an unusual release.

‘Devil’s Due’ has a good pace where the keys take the leading part. When vocals pop up, the heaviness reduces but the song keeps rolling forward with a little guitar in the background. ‘Salvation’ is slightly poppy and could get radio rotation on the U.S. College stations. ‘Deep’ has a very heavy riffing, but with the addition of keyboards and a slowdown pace in the vocal lines, it results in a threatening and impending song.

My overall impression on this band is like I have to review a Sisters Of Mercy album. I’m totally unaware about the musical skills of such bands. Everything is worked out with details and a perfect balance in the mix, but I’m missing goose bumps or a cold shiver on my backbone. It’s too digital to get an emotional thrill, but probably, it all fits in the main reason why this album was recorded and released. ‘Children of The Drones’ starts to get a frightening reality, as the songs contain a message to lead instead of being the sheep!

My rating: 73/100 (Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing)

VEXILLUM – UNUM (Limb Music)

Review by Officer Nice

Since 2004 this band from out of the boot of Europe plays Power Metal with a big slice of Folk weaved into their music. For some reasons Italian bands adores ancient influences into their music but when you look to the history of this country that’s pretty normal. Anyway Michele Gasparri is the driving force behind this band that has toured with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody and Freedom Call in the past.

The music itself is enjoyable to listen to but thankfully the folk isn’t overwhelming the music. This is good Heavy / Power Metal without refrains of choruses that keeps on playing in my mind. This album needs its time and is the kind of CD you’d need to listen while you’re relaxed in your seat. Some tunes we know from the ‘dark middle ages’ can be heard but overall Vexillum is the typical kind of European Power Metal, at some times with those typical ‘happy happy’ tunes.

This album contains nine songs, including a Slade and Tazenda cover. Several guest musicians are present from whom Hansi Kürsch will be the one that might be the most attractive one for the Power Metal fans.

So yes, this is an album that will please the fans of European Power Metal, because after all I’ve heard good structured songs. If you’re into other stuff a listen session is necessary. But, and that I promise you, good musicianship is guaranteed. Great guitars, a good base of bass and drums and Dario Valessi is a good singer so what do you need more? Make up your mind or go visit http://www.vexillum.biz/web

My rating: 80/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)


Review by Sloof

Sweden rocks! Not only the name of the prestigious festival, but also applicable for this new band Violent Divine. At first, I had a brutal and aggressive band in mind when I opened the promo package. The name breathes danger, the front cover artwork radiates violence and the name of the album ‘Hyperactivity Disorder’ tends to uninviting meetings of obscure characters. I can say that it was a big surprise when I listened to this album for the first time. The band Violent Divine isn’t afraid of some power and action, but know very well how to dose. It’s not brute force nor bludgeoning power, but structural music with well spiced ingredients.

I consider this band as a Rock/Metal band, and the first song is the perfect proof. ‘For I Am Sin’ will punch you directly in the face. No intro, just pure up tempo Rock with a slice of Metal. The guitars are loud, the vocals are manic and the beats are heart-crushing. This seems to be their fourth album after the eponymous debut in 2006, the second attack of Violent Divine arrived in 2009 (‘In Harm’s Way’). Shortly after the release of the third album (‘Release The Hounds’), the band was put on ice for a temporary period, but now they are ready for the final uppercut: ‘Hyperactivity Disorder’. The lineup changed a lot since they were re-animated in 2011, but it seems like the songs became stronger.

The production of the album was done by Mike Divine, which I guess is the vocalist of the band, and he did a really nice job! Every musician is perfect in the mix and the overall sound can compete with nowadays reputable names.

Fans of Tremonti, The Poodles, Trivium, Alter Bridge and Motley Crue will embrace this band as they have a charismatic frontman named Mike and talented musicians that are capable to write and compose nice songs. It’s not trendy as it’s pure and with a huge dose of Rock, so consider it timeless. https://www.facebook.com/ViolentDivine/

My rating: 84/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

VLY – I / TIME Laser’s Edge

Review by Stefan

For me it’s a difficult task to provide an album like this with an objectively discussion. The band, composed of five members, has nothing to do with Metal of Hard Rock and a fact is a fact, their way of making music can’t fascinate me at all. Every band has its own vision with regard of making songs and I respect that. Each and every group has its own supporters, but also opponents who don’t like their style due to particular, personal reasons. Let me be clear right away without beating around the bush, I belong to the category of opponents in terms of Vly’s debut album called “I / Time”, released through The Laser’s Edge.

No doubt about, Everyone in the band takes its job seriously and makes no mess of the musical package. The songs have a dark character and edited with many influences I’m not really hooked on. Sometimes I hear similarities with Progressive Rock heroes Pink Floyd and that’s okay to me but at the other hand, Vly’s style of music is also manufactured with electronic, alternative/post rock, psychedelia and even pop elements and believe me on my word of honour…that’s a bridge too far for me. I’m not advocating it and in fact, I never will. Have listened to “I / Time” twice and no matter how hard I tried – I simply can’t get a grip on the song structures which giving me an uneasy feeling.

Along with this review I especially do not want to penalize the band, that would be unreasonable and improperly to the fans of this genre. Vly has its own qualities aboard but my own musical gut feeling stays in the darkness. This ain’t my alley and have decided to make this CD not equipped with a final rating, out of respect for the band actually. Those on the hunt for a not everyday musical occurrence where Hard Rock and Heavy Metal are NOT on the agenda, better get in touch with Vly athttp://www.vlymusic.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/vlyband