Sunday, September 18, 2016

Thunderforge – Call of the Conqueror

Thunderforge comes from the US and plays power metal, and just recently released their debut EP “Call of the Conqueror”. Now that we’re out of the 1980s, power metal from the US isn’t limited to sounding like USPM, as there are more than a handful of bands playing the more melodic European style despite being American. In Thunderforge’s case, they toe the line between the two subgenres, playing a convincing blend of sounds that should appeal to fans of either style. This is accomplished by bringing the riffs of USPM, but the leads and melodies of more melodic power metal. Add in a singer who is virtuosic without having a ridiculously high-pitched voice, and you’ve got a combination that should please both sides of the fence.

The band’s more aggressive comes through on “Harbringer” moreso than any other track. This song is filled to the brim with heavy riffs that will stir up some movement in any crowd to which the band plays. The final seconds of the song erupt into a wildly thrashy section, which shows some untapped potential for the band to explore on future releases. Other tracks, like “Raiders of the Night” and "Sound the Horns" utilize the ever-so common galloping and charging pace of a band like Omen, but still manage to intertwine tons of melody. Fans of both styles will be happy to know that shredding is in full force here: though not a constant barrage of solos, the lead work on “Call of the Conqueror” is both frenetic and dazzling. 

As good as this EP is, it does feel a bit overlong at times. These 5 tracks run for nearly 30 minutes. There are definitely some progressive undertones throughout the release (particularly on the final two tracks), and one can’t help but feel that the more focused tracks like “Raiders of the Night” and “Harbringer” come off as being stronger. There is undoubtedly a crowd for the band’s lengthier, more involved material; it is executed to perfection, but I’ve never been one for progressive music. Still, “Call of the Conqueror” would be an impressive release for any band to call their own, and given that this is just Thunderforge’s debut, it shows a lot of promise for the future!

Be sure to check out and like Thunderforge on Facebook!

Highlights
"Raiders of the Night"
"Harbringer"

Final Rating
4.0/5 or 80%. 

Written by Scott

Friday, September 16, 2016

Witchtrap – Trap The Witch

In the world of black/thrash, there are few bands that can compete with Witchtrap. Though this trio of Colombian maniacs takes their time with each full-length, the end result is always magnificent. 2015’s “Trap The Witch” marks their shortest break between records, but that didn’t impact the quality of the album. This record consists of 8 songs filled with tight, bestial riffing. There hasn’t been any significant change in Witchtrap’s sound on this album. They still deliver high-speed riffs that are NWOBHM inspired. Early Destruction and “Show No Mercy”-era Slayer come to mind as the best comparisons, but Witchtrap dials up the tempo even more than those bands did. They have a fairly comfortable pocket of riffs that they draw from as they rarely experiment with unique sounds, but Witchtrap never fails to impress.

The band’s songwriting on “Trap The Witch” is as potent as ever. Even if it sucked, you’d have to appreciate a song named after the Motorhead’s frontman. Of course, this brilliant track was written before his passing, but Witchtrap captured his essence in their own style, as “Lemmy” is a wild, thrashing affair. It is a bold move naming a song after one of metal’s idols, but Witchtrap pulled it off. Another highlight is “Disciple of Death”, which shows the band worshipping “Show No Mercy” more than ever. A lot of the riffs tend to be straight alternate picking until the end when the band throws in a little flare to the riff. This style is simplistic, but surprisingly effective. As good as both of the aforementioned songs are, they pale in comparison to “Hard Thrashing Mania”, which is easily the highlight of the record, and possibly of Witchtrap’s career. It shows the band slowing down slightly (at least compared to the whiplash-inducing tempos found earlier on the record), but it is ever so catchy. The chorus sees Burning Axe Ripper belting out “tonight, metal strikes gold”, and truer words have never been spoken, as this song is pure gold. The main riff has a Judas Priest feel to it, which is why it stands out amongst the more evil riffing that dominates the rest of this release.

If there is one fault on “Trap The Witch”, it would be “Power Of The Maul”. This track gets off to a brooding start, as Witchtrap unleashes some slower notes that ring out, creating a haunting atmosphere. This is not new to the band ("Gypsy Ritual/Face The Evil" and “A Forgotten Cemetery” also did this), but the track never builds anywhere. The verses feel too tame, as the drums don’t fully enter the picture until the choruses. At five and a half minutes, this is the longest song on the album, and it definitely feels that way. There are some good riffs, and speed isn’t a requirement for a song to be enjoyable, but this track feels as though it’s a failed experiment. 

Ignoring that slight flaw, “Trap The Witch” is a near-perfect record. Everything that made Witchtrap great on their first three records is still present here, including the stellar production: crunchy guitars, and a clear sound without being clean. Somehow the band has managed to write riffs that are more classic than ever, and all three members deliver excellent performances from start to finish. This album feels faster than the first 3 as a whole, which naturally works in the band’s favour. Ultimately, “Trap The Witch” is a worthy release both for long-time fans and newcomers to the band.

Be sure to check out and like Witchtrap on Facebook!

Highlights
"Lemmy"
"Hard Thrashing Mania"
"Trap The Witch"

Final Rating
4.75/5 or 95%. 

Written by Scott

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sinbreed – Master Creator

Sinbreed is a band that should be far more well-known than they have been to this point given the quality of their output. I am one of the shameful legions who remained ignorant of the band until frontman Herbie Langhans’ collaboration with Avantasia earlier this year. If “Draconian Love” is the song that brought you here, you might be disappointed to know that Herbie sounds nothing like that on “Master Creator”. One would have expected a mystic, gothic rock-esque performance all throughout this record, but Herbie is actually much closer to a singer like Jorn Lande (meaning that Avantasia fans will still be ecstatic with his performance). He isn’t quite as powerful, but he compensates for that by having a wider range that goes into melodic singing at times. In general though, he tends to utilize his raspier, more aggressive voice on this record.

As good as Herbie is, it would be a mistake to dismiss Sinbreed as simply the band he sings for. The music on this record is some serious, high-speed power metal. The reason why Herbie is such a great fit for the band is because they are truly crushing. Bands like Iron Savior, early Blind Guardian (first two albums), and Orden Ogan on their heavier material are good reference points. Though I despise the derogatory term flower metal, Sinbreed is about as far as you could get from those types of power metal bands. They’re almost like a speedier HammerFall: tons of great melody, but insane shredding riffs too. The verses of “Across The Great Divide” have some of the speediest, sharpest picking amongst any power metal bands.

The guitar tone definitely enhances this record substantially. It’s almost as if a thrash band were playing power metal; though not quite as potent as something like Razor, the approach that Sinbreed goes for is largely the same. The way that they intertwine this with melodic lead playing that is more common in power metal is truly impressive. Even better, however, is the fact that Sinbreed writes catchy songs. The aforementioned “Across The Great Divide” is locked in battle with “The Riddle” for the most memorable song, but make no mistake, this album is overloaded with hits. The first 5 songs as a whole come out strong, and strike one after another, only rarely letting up, with numerous double bass assaults. The second half of the record remains strong as well, though the closer, “On The Run”, is probably the weakest track. Its chorus feels a little too jolly, and not quite in the same spirit as the rest of the record. It is certainly not awful, but a major change of pace from the blazing sounds that precede it. 

On the whole, “Master Creator” was a major surprise. It does stand out amongst the power metal world simply for being more aggressive. If Masterplan’s first album was going full-speed for its entirety, that would more likely approximate what Sinbreed has done here. The Avantasia collaboration was great for getting Herbie’s name out there, but Sinbreed is another entity altogether. This is power metal with no frills, and it is difficult to imagine any fans of the subgenre not digging this.

Be sure to check out and like Sinbreed on Facebook!

Highlights
"Creation of Reality"
"Across The Great Divide"
"Moonlit Night"
"The Riddle"

Final Rating
4.6/5 or 92%. 

Written by Scott