Category: CD Reviews

Truth Decayed – ‘Modern Day Illusion’ EP (Self-Released)

Billed as offering “a stark commentary on a world marred by decayed morals and skewed truths, where fakeness reigns supreme, adding to the ever-growing bouquet of terror plaguing a society already in turmoil”, this debut two-track EP comes to us all the way from South Africa, a country re-establishing itself in recent times as a hotbed of new metal sounds. Truth Decayed may be a new name, but their collective members have many years’ experience on the scene in the scene in that particular corner of the Überverse, and brought together by the need to bring something positive out of the darkness of the global lockdowns.

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Raging Speedhorn – ‘Hard To Kill’ (Red Weed Records)

If ever an album lives up to its name, it is this, the sixth full-length studio offering from Raging Speedhorn… no, sorry, make that Raging FUCKING Speedhorn! Because, just as the combination of a global pandemic and government inaction are doing their best to kill off the music industry as a whole (but, it will survive, if in a vastly different way to that which we recognized previously), so ‘Hard To Kill’ is evidence that you can’t keep a good band down, at least not for long.

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Armored Saint – ‘Punching The Sky’ (Metal Blade)

If you were asked to compile a list of, say, the dozen most revered bands in the history of American heavy metal, there would be no doubt that the name Armored Saint would feature pretty close to the top. While not the most prolific of bands – this is only their eighth studio album in their 38-year career – each release has always been something of an event in itself, eagerly anticipated by their legions of diehard, extremely loyal fans the length and breadth of the Überverse: and, it has to be said that ‘Punching The Sky’, their first new material in five years and an album more than two years in its creation and development, is most certainly no exception.

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Deep River Acolytes – ‘Alchemia Aeterna’ (Argonauta)

Monk first came across Finnish heavy blues/doom proponents Deep River Acolytes around the middle of 2018, when their second album, ‘The Hour Of Trial’, exploded its way out of the towering speaker stacks in the ÜRHQ studio and into he aural cortexes. The boss man has one abiding impression remaining from that introduction, and that is the fact that ‘The Unknown Grandeur’ was one of the singularly most impactful opening tracks he had heard to any album in a very – no, make that VERY – long time. It most definitely, and defiantly, was up there with the likes of ‘Black Sabbath’ or ‘Planets Collide’ in those terms…

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Deathless Dogs – ‘Five Across The Eyes’ (Self-Released)

They say that some of the best creativity comes out of adversity and trauma. The past nine months of various pandemic-infused global lockdowns has proven this point, with some great music having been produced in what could be seen to the most impossibly adversarial circumstances. But, it is also an ethos which has been exemplified by Wisconsin’s Deathless Dogs for the past decade, from when guitarist/singer Eddy Krogman started sharing lyrical ideas based on his experiences in the Iraq War with his childhood friend, drummer Dan Speer. In the intervening period, the duo have gone on to self-release three albums, with a fourth in the pipeline. In the meantime, they have presented us with this cathartic five-track EP…

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Gallows Circus – ‘II’ EP (Self-Released)

To be honest, Monk hadn’t come across Kent quartet Gallows Circus until this, their second EP (as if you hadn’t guessed from the title) popped into the inbox here at ÜRHQ a week or so back. Given that it came from one of the few PR agents whose judgement the boss man trust almost implicitly – one who doesn’t send out any oul’ shite willy-nilly, but targets us journalists with stuff he genuinely believes we will like (or at least give an honest listen) – he had no qualms about checking out his latest recommendation…

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Indie Place – ‘Persistent Visions’ EP (Freemood/Heavy Load/Tanzan Music)

Despite what their name might suggest, Indie Place are actually a heavy metal band – more precisely, one in the classic NWoBHM-meets-West Coast classic rock trope – which is why they caught our attention here at ÜRHQ. The brainchild of Italian guitarist/producer/songwriter Gianfranco Previ, they seek to appeal to a wider, international audience by virtue of the fact that they have an American singer, Aiden (no surname, no pack drill with this boy), which means that you don’t have to battle with what can sometimes be impenetrable vocal accents…

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Freaks And Clowns – ‘Justice Elite’ (Metalville)

We’re fairly used to dealing with freaks and clowns here at ÜRHQ. In fact, it’s something of an occupational hazard, and we’ve had to deal with our fair share of them over the years. However, one set which we encountered around this time last year was this band of the same name, to whom we took an immediate liking, thanks to their highly impressive debut album.

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Skálmöld – ‘10 Year Anniversary – Live in Reykjavik’ (Napalm Records)

Seven years ago, Skálmöld released what is possibly Jonny Bakes’ favourite live album of all time when they teamed up the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra for a series of tour dates. It was at this point that he was absolutely sold and a couple years later he was fortunate enough to catch them at Hammerfest (even if he had snapped his ankle on the first night of the festival). It was clear then that Skálmöld are an absolute live force to be reckoned with, so when I caught wind of their new tenth anniversary live album, there was no way JB could turn down the opportunity to check it out. ..

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Raven – ‘Metal City’ (Steamhammer/SPV)

It is comforting to know that, in these troubled and uncertain times, there are some things we can rely on. Not least of these is that the Gallagher brothers (no, not those ones) will continue to produce solid heavy metal albums and fly the flag for the NWoBHM and its abiding core values for as long as they have blood in their veins and breath in their bodies. And, while it may have been five long years since they presented us with one, that is what they continue to do with this new album, which sees us taking a welcome trip into the back alleys and sewers of the aptly named ‘Metal City’.

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Red Spektor – ‘Heart Of The Renewed Sun’ (Kozmik Artifactz)

When a friend whom you respect and admire, not least for their discerning musical taste, recommends that you check out a new band, it is the least you can do, out of that respect and admiration, to do so… which is exactly how Monk first encountered West Midlands stoner crüe Red Spektor, when his good friend, and photographer extraordinaire, Simon Dunkerley mentioned they were playing one of the minor stages at one of the myriad Hard Rock Hell festivals they have both attended over the years… to say that the boss man was impressed would be something of an understatement. As a result, both himself and the entire ÜR team have been keeping a close eye on the trio’s development ever since – which brings us neatly to this, their stunning second album…

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Rich Kid Expre$$ – ‘Psychodelic’ (Squib Kick Records)

Especially in these uncertain times, when we literally don’t know what is happening with our lives from one day to the next, or what any new dawn will bring with it, many of us probably wish we could turn back the hands of time to our respective youths, and relive the period when we were growing up, without a care in world; without the hassle of lockdowns, mortgages, pension plans, homeschooling – or even wondering if our next pay check may well be our last… a time when our only concern was where our next big rock ‘n’ roll hit was coming from…

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