Review: Mystik – Mystik

Mystik – Mystik (I Hate)
Review by Steve Thomas-Green

When it comes to life, in general, I don’t tend to look back… I very rarely dwell on the past… except when it comes to music.

Don’t get me wrong, I love discovering new bands and new forms of music, but when it comes to Metal, there’s not a lot that can beat the 80s…. actually, there’s nothing than can beat the 80s.

Rewind to 1985, and Channel 4, in the UK, hosted a tv show every week that featured four live Metal bands… in amongst the more established acts such as Motorhead and Venom, were a young German act called Warlock, who were in the UK to play a show in support of their new album, Hellbound.

Now, the reason for this intro, is because when I first played this album, I was immediately transported back to that time, when the 18 year old version of me was transfixed by Doro Pesch and her merry band of Metallers…

If you love the first couple of Warlock albums, then you’ll love Mystik, who are fronted by Doro sound-a-like, Julia Von Krusenstjerna… the big difference though, from the days of Warlock, is that, at the time of recording, Mystik had three ladies in their ranks… since this album was recorded, guitarist, Lo Wikman, has left the band.

The comparison with Warlock is meant as a huge compliment and I also detect an affinity with the likes of (early) Mercyful Fate, musically, at least, and probably the debut from Pretty Maids as well.

In essence, that part of the 80s has been transported to the present day and has been injected with a new lease of life. Because although this album reminds me of that time, it doesn’t sound dated at all…

The Metal World needs more albums like this. While Metal splinters off into a multitude of not very Metal sub-genres, this is a perfect example of how a Metal album should sound. Heads down, Speed/Heavy Metal, with just a hint of the occult.

Definitely my favourite album of the year, so far.



Review: Lunar Shadow – The Smokeless Fires

Lunar Shadow – The Smokeless Fires (Cruz Del Sur Music)
Review by Milos Sebalj

German Heavy Metal? Yes, please, give it to me, and lots of it! And then I get “The Smokeless Fires”. I seriously expected something in the vein of Grave Digger, Running Wild or at least Helloween/Gamma Ray type of music. Well, I guess everyone expects something like this to come from Germany. However, Lunar Shadow doesn’t seem to care about what we expect.

Deutsch quintet started their journey five years ago, and “The Smokeless Fires” is their second full length album. What they did here is switch the attention across the ocean. This record sounds very American. Certain German touches, mostly in the more aggressive parts, do suggest their origin. Still, I have a feeling Iced Earth is more to their liking than their country mates. Most of the album does not “rush” anywhere. Rarely do you find fast tempos. Lunar Shadow’s music is rather intended to feelings. Mostly melancholic atmosphere rules on these 44 minutes. It is mentioned in the information sheet that this release is intended to questioning of the self, so I can only conclude that exactly that atmosphere was what the Germans intended to create. So, the songs are quite long and diverse in their arrangement, achieving the mentioned feel. The mentioned info sheet says that this is “Epic Classic Metal going head-to-head with blazing Scandinavian Black Metal“. Either I’m deaf, or somebody has no idea about Scandinavian Black Metal. I failed miserably in my intent on finding any shred of something similar to it. A couple of background screams in „Laurelindorenan“, tremolos and a short blast-beat on the closing track hardly make for a complete genre influence. Oh, and the logo I’ve found on Metal Archives looks very Black Metallish. On the other hand, the „epic Classic Metal“ label stands. Even going to the nowadays Iron Maiden heights as the album gets to its end. Borderline Progressive.

Lunar Shadow certainly displays a high technical level. The abundance of different partitudes in each song says a lot about their creative skills. Piano introduction to the opening track, female choir on „Red Nails For The Pillar Of Death“, bunch of solo parts in every song and a whole lot of other tricks that the Germans pull out of their sleeves makes this album very challenging for a listener. This is surely not a record that will get you on the first listening. Melodic guitars are the forerunners, as they should be on a Heavy Metal release. Rhythm section firmly holds the ground, allowing even the bass guitar enough „on air“ time. The weak point for me would be the vocal parts. Though they do the job just fine, I would prefer them to be more convincing. Seems like the vocalist was given a certain „range“ in which to operate, without room to express himself as he could.

“The Smokeless Fires” stands as a very ambitious attempt. It is nothing groundbreaking for sure, but bear in mind that it took just two years to complete a complex album like this. And Lunar Shadow is a very young band. I am more than curious to find out what they come up with next. You should be too. The third album might just be a rocket to propell them into stardom.



Review: Turbocharged – Above Lords, Below Earth

Turbocharged – Above Lords, Below Earth (GFY Productions)
Review by Milos Sebalj

“BlaSwedes” are back! As far as I’m concerned, that should be news of the year! It’s been two long years since “Apocalyptic” and the wait is over! Twelve tracks of their trademark ugliness are coming soon and you cannot even begin to imagine my happiness when I got an advance promotional pack. Calling these Swedish bastards my friends has been an honor for a couple of years now. Having said that, this review has absolutely nothing to do with the friendship! This is simply fantastic musical output and probably the best Turbocharged has come up with yet.

“Above Lords, Below Earth” is the fifth full-length record by Turbocharged. To describe it briefly I will use the title of the closing track of the album, “Unholy deathpunk”. That’s exactly what this is. A deadly combination of D-beat Punk attitude, early Swedish Death Metal brutality, with just a pinch of Motorhead-like Rock ‘n’ Roll (particularly in the mentioned track). Keeping it plain and simple, Turbocharged manages to create memorable songs with simple, yet effective riffing, straightforward rhythm pounding to break your neck and in your face blasphemies. There is no place for inner reflection, deep thoughts, quasi intelligence, senseless technicalities, studio recording tricks or pristine production. Hell, this trio doesn’t even record an additional guitar track to back up the solo parts. What you see is what you get. This is aggressive music to punch you right across the mouth, and should be considered as such. There’s a statement in the informational sheet that claims “Turbocharged never came in peace” and I cannot add anything more to that. Even the label name, Go Fuck Yourself Productions, fits perfectly to the sounds emanating from these 35 minutes. As I’ve mentioned before, there are 12 tracks on this release, so the songs are less than 3 minutes in average. As Punk as it gets. Furthermore, these guys are deeply rooted in the DIY attitude, keeping almost every aspect of their creation under their own control. Well, as far as I know, the cover artwork wasn’t their creation, though it looks great, especially the choice of colors to perfectly represent the “rust” to be sanded of your speakers.

If you still haven’t, make sure to check this band out. If you consider yourself and old school Metalhead or Punk, this one must be on your top priority list. There is nothing smart I could add here. As mentioned, this is not music for your IQ to grow. If I ever need any kind of neck surgery I’m pretty sure these Swedes will have to cover at least half of the insurance fees.

Album pre-order: HERE



Review: Dunkelnacht – Empires of Mediocracy

Dunkelnacht – Empires of Mediocracy (Non Serviam Records)
Review by Milos Sebalj

Vive la France, and its Metal scene, as long as there are albums like this one. One just might expect an album like this by a 15 years old band. Their influences are clearly on display, yet their music combines them so that there is a clear view of the path Dunkelnacht threads on their own. Furthermore, the internet provides an interesting information that this started out as an ambient project. And why is that important? Let’s find out.

The French quartet on their third full length presents a variety of styles, all mixed into a highly coherent sound that should have a vast application to different fans. Brutal Death Metal meets, melodic variations, (symphonic) Black Metal passages, technical displays… In short, extreme Metal placed in a blender, switched on and poured over some ice. Shaken, not stirred. And it is quite tasty. Add some of those ambient interludes (not too many) and you’ve got yourself a nice 47 minutes of music. A bit softer that Belphegor, less of a show-off than Behemoth, more Metal than Dimmu Borgir… So, somewhere right in between.

Now, the “somewhere in between” approach might just mean that Dunkelnacht will probably end up in the average pile. However, while they could use more “hooks” to reach the popularity status of the aforementioned bands, they certainly have their fair share of memorable moments to place them above the “let’s just play some music and have fun” bunch. The French show a high level of creative imagination, necessary in such mixes. Arranging their tunes so they do not become boring or overly pretentious. Skilled musicians they certainly are, and now they prove they have skill enough to compose.

I have no idea how hard it would be to make an album like this sound a bit “dirtier”. The production is way too clean for my taste, although it does not stray into “plastic”. I can only guess they needed to sound like this so that all the nuances are clearly heard. It might just ward off some of the more close-minded fans. Still, I guess the ones who are in love with their influences will be delighted with “Empires of Mediocracy” as well. Plus, the music “hides” behind a beautiful (is that even a word in extreme Metal?) cover artwork.

What more do you need? Well, if you are in search of Blasphemy sound-alikes you will probably be very disappointed. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more thought-provoking combination of Death and Black Metal, this one is certainly for you.


Review: Belliciste – Bardachd Cogaidh

Belliciste – Bardachd Cogaidh (Todestrieb Records)
Review by Milos Sebalj

What happens when the one man behind the one-man band has the ability of thought and an actual musical know-how? “Bardachd Cogaidh” happens, that’s what! There’s only been a couple of these solo endeavors I’ve been a fan of, since Burzum ‘til nowadays. On a side note, I believe Burzum is terribly overrated (not counting the ambient stuff) and is worth only as much as the “myth” behind its originator. Still, I will not become a “youtuber” to rant about it.

Belliciste began its story in New Zealand, then relocated to Scotland, Slovakia, Serbia and kill me if I know where Krigeist (the said one man) is located now. Interesting resume, to say the least. Furthermore, band’s name comes from French language and the album title from Scottish Gaelic (if I’m not mistaken). “Bardachd Cogaidh” is the second full album by the vagabond and it translates to something like “Parish of war”. Somebody with further knowledge on the language can correct me if I’m wrong.

So, what is happening on these 42 minutes of music? Black Metal, if you want a concise answer. Belliciste resides on a basic Black Metal foundations, but they (or he?) have an interesting approach to the subject which should separate them from the crowd. Think about early works of Primordial. Around the traditional Black Metal roots, Belliciste builds an aura of ancient Scottish (yes, I know Primordial isn’t from Scotland) feel to the music. Guitars switch from the genre specific speed to the epic (almost regular Heavy Metal), marching riffs with ease, allowing the atmospheric build-up around the entire release. Even an occasional solo works to the purpose. Together with the versatile drum patterns, it all leads to an album full of twists and turns which will not be easily grasped or forgotten among the many. Belliciste displays an immense dose of creativity and liberty when it comes to arranging their tunes, which is often the weak spot when it comes to one-man bands. On this album it is masterfully solved and leaves you with nothing but positive impressions. Well, for my taste, the vocals might have been a bit more powerful, or a bit more “in your face”. That is probably the only fault I found with this release.

Add to that the beautiful cover artwork and you’ve got yourself a real treat of an album. One for the connoisseurs, for sure. It takes some patience, but it certainly grows on you after a while. And when it does hit you, it makes an impact. Recommended to every fan of good, quality Black Metal.