June 2022 Rapid Fires

Saturday, 2nd July 2022

The thick of the summer (and its never-ending heat) has brought another round of Rapid Fires, our short review column. There’s plenty to chew on this month, including: Blitzkrieg, Chaos Magic, Ironhawk, Rancor, Rezet, Sideburn, Tungsten, Venus Principle and White Ward (pictured). Have at it!

Blitzkrieg – I Am His Voice (Mighty Music)
Previewing the upcoming album, Blitzkrieg return with their latest single “I Am His Voice.” The impeccable presence of Brian Ross rises to the occasion, while the riffs possess a darkened, modern and melodic edge against the mid-tempo shuffle. The cultural guitar harmonies heighten the background vocal passages to a fitting end. As a bonus, we get a live version of the band’s 1985 song “Pull the Trigger,” another straightforward staple of what long-timers have come to know and love about this NWOBHM act. Thankfully this style never fades into oblivion – and should set up the forthcoming full-length in ideal fashion. -Matt Coe Blitzkrieg on Facebook

Chaos Magic – Emerge (Frontiers Music)
Album number three for this South American symphonic metal outfit, featuring vocalist Caterina Nix who ex-Stratovarius guitarist Timo Tolkki discovered touring that continent. Emerge sees Caterina working with Nasson as bassist, producer and co-songwriter – developing a hefty set of heavier songs that contain a modern, down-tuned slant allowing Caterina to slither into various rock/metal textures through her magnetic power and prowess. Witness the stunted groove mechanics for “Beneath Your Skin”, while “Garden of Winter” features piano work from Mistheria and vocal guesting from Leaves’ Eyes Elina Siirala that showcases dramatic dynamic sweeps that carry this moodier ballad effort. Grandiose measures push “Days of Lions” to the spotlight, as well as the mysterious ambiance from the verses to the stair step catchy chorus work. Delightful work here. –Matt Coe Caternia Nix on Facebook

Ironhawk – Ritual of the Warpath (Dying Victims Productions)
Living for a primal blend of punk, speed and heavy metal, Austrian trio Ironhawk deliver a pissed-off mix of all those genres on this debut album Ritual of the Warpath. Beyond the bullet laden band logo and stage names that all contain umlauts (Ängie Climax on bass, Vyvyan Bästerd on drums, Simön Slaughter on guitars/vocals), these ten cuts slice and dice in a way that Venom, Motörhead, Exciter, and Midnight live for. Blazing solos, speedy/crusty tempos, deep visceral screams, and distant production values allow “Sanctimony” and the tribal-ish tempo aspects of “Gates of Beyond” to summon demons from below, while the closing title track adds interesting cultural licks and traditional lead bends/runs to the upbeat bass/double kick proceedings. Another underground outing for the old school crowd to salute and worship. -Matt Coe Ironhawk on Facebook

Rancor – Bury the World (Xtreem Music)
Bringing a mix of American speed metal, thrash, and power from the 80’s to the table, Spain’s Rancor drill listeners with another intense set of material for their fourth album Bury the World. The sturdy rhythms, secondary harmony guitar touches, gang-like chorus/background vocal support, plus general knowledge, execution, and confidence allow songs such as “Digital Criminal”, “Evil Subjugation”, and “Crushing Your Bones” to succeed much like classic Overkill, Megadeth, and Heathen. Vocalist Dani has a raspy militant delivery that crosses mid-range Russ Anderson with Sean Killian, while the energetic nature overall to these ten tracks should appease even the most critical of thrash mavens. Another record well-deserving of praise and hopefully raising the profile of Rancor worldwide. – Matt Coe Rancor on Facebook

Rezet – New World Murder (Self-Released)
Pivoting when the proverbial chips may be down, Rezet returns with this DIY New World Murder EP. Vocalist/guitarist Ricky Wagner and drummer Bastian Santen recruit a new bassist and guitarist in Lorenz Kandolf plus Jan-Erik Fischer to put forth three new songs plus a 70’s classic from Deep Purple into a hard-hitting thrash outing that gets in and out through 13 minutes and change. “The Devil’s Bride” intertwines early Metallica/Motörhead vibes, while “Alien Noises” features the fierce guest vocal support of Schmier from Destruction against a crunchy riff march. “Fireball” ends the proceedings, the energetic drumming and stellar lead work proving these musicians have supreme knowledge and ability at their instruments. Sticking to their strengths puts this EP on a better course than last year’s Truth in Between full-length. – Matt Coe Rezet on Facebook

Sideburn – Fired Up (Massacre Records)
Sideburn is another veteran Swiss band that crank up their blues-based, three chord driven hard rock to maximum excitement levels for their latest album Fired Up. Active on the recording front since the late 90’s, elements of classic AC/DC and Motörhead come front and center when taking in the fun tales of rebellion, partying, and sexy rock n’ roll action from “Sweet Obsession (Ride On)” to “Heading Down the Road 69” and stomper “Paid My Dues”. Add in the whiskey-high screech of singer Roland Pierrehumbert (equal parts Niklas S. of Wolf and Stephen Pearcy), occasional harmonica spots, and wah-wah induced solos, and it’s a perfect, blow off steam outing getting the job done with a dozen cuts at forty minutes. . – Matt Coe Sideburn on Facebook

Tungsten – Bliss (Arising Empire)
Featuring ex-Hammerfall drummer Anders Johansson and his two sons Nick (guitars) and Karl (bass/screams) plus vocalist Mike Andersson (Cloudscape), Tungsten produces a modern form of industrial-laced melodic power metal for their third platter Bliss. Folk-aspects come in spots of keyboard hooks for “Dreamers” and the mid-tempo “On the Sea”, while driving riffs penetrate “Wonderland” and the crunchier opener “In the Center”. Animated in atmosphere, the right mix of power, groove, and catchy hooks/melodies will entertain multiple facets of the folk, power, and modern metal communities. While radio-friendly the majority of the time, the “Northern Lights” finale at almost seven-minutes unleashes those supplemental wind chimes, vocal effects, mead-hall choirs, and cultural accents to carry this epic over the mountain and through the woods. Delightful fare indeed. -Matt Coe Tungsten on Facebook

Venus Principle – Stand in Your Light (Prophecy)
Featuring a host of former Crippled Black Phoenix members, Venus Principle hones in on the relatability and earthy darkness their former band has mastered. On its Stand in Your Light debut, Venus Principle hoist the familiar round of stirring heavy rock numbers, namely opener “Rebel Drones” and the classic rock-infused “Barricades,” which is the sort of Eagles, twin-guitars-flying number that filled stadiums four decades ago. The album starts to gradually wane after “The Lord He Giveth and Taketh,” with Venus Principle falling into the uncomfortable lull of pedestrian rock with sparse heaviness. If you took half of Stand in Your Light and made it an EP, it would be unbeatable. – David E. Gehlke (Venus Principle on Facebook)

White Ward – False Light (Debemur Morti)
Ukrainian avant-garde black metallers White Ward obviously have more pressing concerns than music at the moment. False Light was tracked before the Russian invasion and it’s tone, tenor and feel reflect a band more in tune with their melodic side than ever. Previous outings Futility Report (2017) and Love Exchange Failure (2019) combined odd, outward black metal with saxophone action; False Light takes an even deeper dive, complete with additional clean vocals and mellow sections. The black metal bashers lurk about and they’re the main draw here, but it’s easy to get the idea White Ward are gradually headed down Ulver-like paths. Whether they do or not, False Light is a triumph of the spirit. – David E. Gehlke White Ward on Facebook

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