Grade Scale adopted at MetalKings.com (starting from the lowest)

1 - Shite
2 - Could be worse
3 - Could be better
4 - Damn good
5 - Killer

Goremageddon (the saw and the carnage done)
Listenable Records/CD-Maximum
FM-friendly pop rock with female vocals (Eh?)

FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! Jeeeezuz fucking Kraist and all the other fairy creatures! Shit, and I have nearly lost all hope to hear anything truly worthy this year - in metal, at last. And I mean, think about it - who? Aborted?! As our beloved Ms. Editor-in-Chief usually says in these cases: "Who in the hell are these people????" Whoops, I blew it. Then again, what the fuck, what difference does it make - yes, I admit I have never ever heard anything by this band before. I did hear the name a couple of times, but no tangible record. But, once again, what difference does it make? What does matter is how these Belgians (!) managed to get yours truly in such a wound up mood. Well, first of, by being Belgians per se. With all respect, this tiny Eruropean kingdom would hardly strike me as the world capital of brutal death metal, in the first fucking place, no, correct that - I would not associate Belgium with metal at all. But that's too beside the point. I cannot remember hearing anything even slightly close to this band, both music and quality-wise. I guess the only band that would be in the same ballpark at least stylistically, is the Swedish Deranged, and even those three lads, to be completely honest, when compared to Aborted well I wouldn't really want to say suck, cuz that would be an exaggeration, but let's put it this way - when compared to Aborted, Deranged look a rather erm innocent and, in fact, a nice bunch of chaps. I wouldn't even try to analyze the musical contents of "Goremageddon" - it just won't work, too much emotion and exclamation marks. FUUUUUURRRGHHHCK!!!!! (Troll)

Made in Fear
techno death
I have lost the count of how many times have I sit down to review this album, which the Antares-boys have sent to us about a hundred years ago (if you are reading this, guys, I really am deeply sorry for taking that long). I guess the main problem is that this not exactly my type of music in the first place, but what the hell, we can manage. So (number #1 rule of review-writing: if you don't know where to start - start with comparisons) imagine a mould of Opeth, Death, early Tiamat and Dark Tranquillity, add some keyboard-based neo-classics, a good deal of healthy pathos and voila - we are starting to get somewhere. The whole mixture is done as some would say pretty inventively with an obvious loving touch on behalf of the band and at a good professional level. Then again, apparently, due to some objective reasoning, the realization of some of the ideas here, let's say, leaves room for perfection. That is, it is clear what the band wanted to do, but for budgetary, experience, or some other reasons didn't quite make it. In all a solid four fists, and will somebody, please, sponsor the guys a two week vacation in Fredman Studios and I swear you won't recognize this record. (Troll)

The Dying Daylights
Spinefarm Records/
dark metal and love gawthic

The most boring record, as blank and idealess, as is its cover. I mean, I can hardly believe this is the same band that recorded the last year's smashing "Downhearted". And now wonder that right upon the release of this depressive and desperate piece of junk, guitarist Jasse Von Hast decided to leave the band. According to the band's version he has family problems, but Hast himself is openly stating that Charon is facing a creative dead-end. Well, not quite a dead-end but rather that dusty abandoned hut from the cover, the one you would enter only when its raining cats and dogs and preferably not at night. Moreover after listening to such "masterpieces" as "Guilt on Skin" and "Every Failure", one can't help but ask "And so this is what J.P. left the obviously promising Posionblack?! Where exactly did he concentrate his creative effort here?! Where exactly did he implement the traditional claims of becoming even more dark and cool?!" As for the nagging female vocals in the back, these are really beyond good and evil. The only eatable track on the album is "Religious/Delicious" that had already been released as a single, and even that, I guess, is largely thanks to the guest presence of Marko Hietala of Nightwish. (Debbie Boink)

Death Cult Armageddon
Nuclear Blast
melodic black metal

Strictly speaking there isn't that much need in this review really (like basically in any other review written on this planet - he-he), because everything had been pretty clear with this record before it even came out. Though To be completely honest with you I did have serious doubts that the "foggy fort" will manage to overcome the success of "Puritanical", but - surprise-surprise - they did, and in a big fucking way too. The best thing about it is how. The recipe is so awfully simple that it's even impolite, without much ado, the Norwegians basically did the same thing they did with the previous release, but better. There is nothing radically new on "Armageddon" compared to what we all heard two years ago - everything here is exactly the same, only better. Heaps better, at that. I guess this is just that rare case when the traditional interview promises of making the next record "more mucher and gooder" than the previous one actually come true. The symphonisms have become more symphonic, the drums - more thundering, the guitars - more riffing, Shagrath have become much shagrathier, while ICS Vortex much Demis-Russosier than ever-ever before. In one word - MAGNIFICENT! (Troll)

Apocalypse of the Damned
Coldblood Industries/CD-Maximum
brutal death metal

Interesting, judging by the goat head on the cover of this CD I would of imagined that this Polish trio are coming from some farm or something. The thought that truly puzzles me though is what could possibly turned the "panowe" into such all-out rage? What on earth could have inspired the 45 minutes of this merciless death metal-battle? Hey wait a minute this is not just a head, it's a skull! Hmm, interesting I guess that devastating murrain, that swept the Europe in the beginning of the millennium did not pass Polish valleys by either. I guess, that's been a lot of dead cattle, if these farmers are still mad about it three years later in 2003. It's quite good, this one, I have to admit that. The guts in the music, that have grown much tougher since the times of the previous "Bloodlust & Blasphemy", now appear to be a quite healthy and lively sound mutant, that has put morbid angel wings on its back, took a club made of a dead-cannibal's cannon-bone in his hand, and has stolen a peace of a Canadian tombstone for a lucky charm. The growling vocals are especially amazing. I mean these vocals are so ear-shredding that one forgets totally about the lame-arse soloing, which is really the only drawback here! (St. Ded)

Sound Riot/CD-Maximum
speed power

If the pyramids flying against the background for cosmic endlessness and the title of the songs like "Keepers of Times", "Star Wars", and "Freedom Call" do not tell you anything about the style of the band, then you really should insert the CD into the deck, because this basically means that your acquaintance with metal started only a week ago, and the style of speed metal and the names of Gamma Ray do not ring your bell. Then again you better listen to Gamma Ray themselves - I mean they are the classics and they are the inventors of all the harmony moves and tricks that are these days used by a whole armada of followers and copycats Hint! Hint! Second option, if a day without power metal is a day without sunshine for you and if the melodies that have already been played over a thousand of times by over a thousand of bands do not confuse you, then this CD is definitely your thing. It's absolutely not a must-listen-to-disk and was never planned to be anything inventive or novel, but suppose, that just out of plain curiosity you would be interested in how they play Kai Hansen in Norway, with this one you are in for some mid-to-fast tempo songs, professional musicianship and awful pictures inside the CD-inlay. (Fireball)

Black Science
2003 (1997)
Eagle Records/CD-Maximum

Better late than never - it's been six years since the release date but finally the official CD-market of Russia saw a licensed copy of ex-Sabbathian Geezer Buttler, who in 1997 changed his number plate from G/Z/R to Geezer. In case some of you do not know what the hell was going on in the last century with the founding fathers of one of the most respected and influential bands in the scene here's the story (quite predictable I should say): they all got interested in the so-called nu:metal. The great and the horrible grew into being an opening act for the likes of Infectious Grooves and Therapy?, Tony Iommi became pals with the suddenly "heavy-weight" rapper Ice T and other progressive youth of the times, and Geezer Buttler, who back in the 70ies crushed the world with the unbelievable bulldozering drive of his immodestly tuned-down bass, pursued the new direction of alternative thrash metal. And - boy - did he pursue it! His vast experience, unique technique, and never-resting inventiveness mixed into an adrenaline-fuelled cocktail with manic energy of the new nihilists of metal going from morbid depression to crazy hysteria. (Fireball)

When the Good Times Come
Eagle Records/CD-Maximum
soft rock

The good times are back for the participants of the 8-ies legend Magnum in the new millennium. Especially lucky in this aspect is Bob Cately who is now probably more popular than any other rock-veteran. Nonetheless his participation on the new album of his old friend Tony Clarkin - Hard Rain - was obviously willing. The bare look at the cover will tell you everything - this is just a bunch of ole' friends and their relatives who pretend to be nothing more than that and who are not trying to chase the fashion in any manner. They had a good, party, drank some wine, recorded the whole thing and wrapped it all in a photo. A typical British family act in the style of "Winnie the Pooh and Everyone Else Has Tea at the Mad Hatter's." The material is just the same - unimposingly traditional and a little dull. The only song that really got stuck in my memory is "Rock Me in My Cradle" - an emotionally-tensioned hit with catchy choruses - very British. ;) (Fireball)

Hyper Bastard Breed
Coldblood Industries/CD-Maximum
Charismatic Christmanglers

I guess the Dutch really have something going with God. The blood-drenched curse-flow of most blasphemous nature does not stop for a second throughout the whole playtime, giving one an impression that the boys from the Insane Non-Commercial Rock Institute (which is what the abbreviation in the title really stands for) have made it a point to outmouth that ole' phucker Glen Benton. This in itself is a goal quite commendable but I'd say they really should of paid a trifle more attention to the music. I will surely mention the good parts in the soloing, but the word that is really jumping with impatience on my keyboard is mediocrity. I mean Death Metal is always Death Metal: mid-to-fast tempo, heavyweight guitars, beatin rhythms and fastish drumming. If to this date you've been into the likes of God Dethroned or Deicide then I seriously doubt this work will be of any revelation to you. (St. Ded)

Dance of Death

the biggest heavy metal swindle

Never would I have thought that I'd live to see the day, when I would rate the album of my once absolutely favorite band, which opened this music for me some 15 years ago, at a mere "3". And nonetheless. Of course, there is a difference in the approach, depending on the status of the band so whatever I am saying here can only be applied to Iron Maiden and not my estimation of this kind of music in general, but I guess what I am really trying to say is that, despite all their previous feats, Bruce and Co. did screw up on this one big fucking time. Yes, it indeed is 100% Iron Maiden of the 80ies standard, with their trademark twin guitarring, trademark melodic shifts, and, off course, the trademark voices of Bruce the Air Raid. However while the return of the prodigals (Smith and Dickinson) in 2000 with the "Brave New World" album has been truly triumphant, then three years later the "Maidens" have obviously run dry. Kill me, but "Dance of Death" just does not have this special something, which made this band absolutely the best in the world, which made you heart beat faster, and which made you believe that while such music exists in this world, we still have a chance. Shit. And that is not to mention the cover artwork Well, it's either that I've just grown up finally, or else (Troll)

The Ultimate Martyr
It's hard to make any judgment based on a mere four songs, but it certainly appears like these guys do have something to say to the world of heavy metal, or rather, remind this world of something. I really cannot remember last time I heard anything like Jackhammer, but I did hear it - that's for sure. The style of this Milano-based quintet can be characterized as classic euro-melodic-thrash of 21st century (hmmmm). I wouldn't go as far as to claim that the ideas of these Italians sparkle as new and original, but, then again, at least these are not the flat and dull guitar solos and high-pitched vocal howls of the 90% of modern-day power metal bands. Indeed, on may say that the material of "The Ultimate Martyr" is traditional, possibly even, overly traditional, but again, considering the amount of downright awful Muzak that festers on the skin of nowadays metal, these guys definitely deserve some respect for their professionalism and musical beliefs. (Troll)

Storm Of The Horde
Coldblood Industries/CD-Maximum

Hey-hey-hey, mate - hold your horses. The debut of this Dutch quintet is a tribute of respect and adrenaline to the epoch of 1980ies - the times of bardy and spiteful metal naivete. Speed, aggression, and beat - these are the three flatfish that this record reels upon. If we go into tagging (t the image and likeness of the Black Metal-terrarium) and start splitting death-metallers into those ones who are true-and-evil and those rest who are (insert any appropriate curse-word(s) here), then Katafalk would definitely make it into the first cat. along with the lucky few. The ideologically educated Dutchmen have recorded a CD that is simply cursed to find response with the hearts of those who still believe in the metal ideals: Sodom, Kreator, Vader something of later Immortal and a tiny bit of Judas Priest melodism - this is a rough description of what Katafalk hammer out of their poor instruments. What is even stranger is that the materials of these lads is one hundred percent recognizable - now that is really something antediluvian. (St. Ded)

Roadrunner Records

Excellent, just excellent. And I don't care how much this live album was processed in the studio, it's still excellent. I mean, seriously, if that is the case, I really wanna say "RESPECT" to the sound-engineer who was processing it, because he managed to preserve and show the atmosphere and intensity of MH's performance at the London Brixton Academy in the most outstanding way. The material presented on the record (as usual) covers all of the band's albums starting from "Burn My Eyes" and thru "Supercharger". Describing a live record is rather pointless, so I will just say go and hear it. Excellent sound, top scenic professionalism, that - more importantly - does not interfere with the sincerity and naturalness of the performance (which, sadly, is quite often the case with a whole lot of bands), mind-twisting drive, that comes from the charismatic and outspoken Sir Flynn, and the spectacular performance of the remaining three quarters of the band. In short this is the best live album I remember since "Decades of Aggression" (Slayer) and "101: Proof Live" (Pantera). (Troll)

Displeased Records/CD-Maximum
ancient viking pop music

An accurate and honest but a too ascetic album. I mean their brothers in arms such as Mythotin have already created enough of aesthetical and picturesque sagas, for this band to continue the good tradition of hailing battle feats of the old days in such a dull and creativity-lacking manner. Yes it is atmospheric, yes it goes exactly by the book, but it's also irreversibly dull. The picture is partly improved by episodic violin accompaniment, but a decoration is just a decoration, it's does not save the situation here. The Manergarm-made drakkar is drifting through the songs, passing the cold acoustic streams, thundering the sea with battle screams, and there is no end in sight - that's what I really call blue cheer. Clean vocals delivered by Erik Grawiso - pure and powerful, but man, couldn't they have put at least a bit of diversity into his parts. After listening to that - listening to dark ambient is like the apotheosis of joy, bliss, and heaven, and the musicians start looking like one of the best stand-up comedians. It's just doesn't work, this one. (St. Ded)

The Aftermath
dark/pagan/power metal

An extravagant and in very many ways remarkable record. It is very rare that one would find such a huge variety of different music schools stuffed onto one round piece of plastic: the harder things here are represented by monumental Dark Metal, freeway Pagan and desperado Thrash, the melody is embodied in the splendor and rhythms of Power Metal, mysterious Gothic keyboards, cradling ringing of the Spanish Guitar and even some Operatic influences. The vocals are growling and groaning most of the time with an occasional clean female voice insert. Samael, Therion ("Theli"), Death (early 90ies era), Bal Sagoth, Blind Guardian (IFTOS), Nightwish and some guitarreros put together would of given a rough picture if the mixture would not have been so odd. Off with the complimentary part though, taking into account the fact that this is already the third baby for this band, it is a bit disappointing: surely they could be more laconic and complete. (St. Ded)

Misanthropic Carnage

Not being the most original representatives of this genre, Severe Torture are rather more of the so-called work-horses of the scene, whose truly hard and (regrettably) non-rewarding labor lies in expanding the narrow piste once trailed by the early settlers to the size of a 16-lane motorway. Good quality, technical, aggressive, meaty and even phat - but, in all honesty, not truly exciting. Moreover, had it not been for the last year's scandal with the censor-banned artwork, I seriously doubt that this album would have drawn the attention of anyone, but a handful of those who truly love this good ole' meat. I - personally - would have check it out on all accounts, and sure as hell would have enjoyed it (yes, call me Mr. Kink, please), but those who are out of the theme I doubt that. (Troll)

The Art Of Balance
Century Media/FONO
thrash/melodic angry

Having accumulated the magnificent aspirations of youth of their more renown compatriots, those who once shined with a splendour of a polished toilet-bowl and are now being righteously (sad but true!!!) stoned by the public with ripe tomatoes - Shadows Fall had no troubles with spicing their music with a good deal of original ideas and neurotic fluids of their own brew and - as a result - presented the world with a powerful and topical opus. Rhythm, expression, melody, estranged guitar passages, hoarse screams intertwined with clean vocals - splendid. To further increase the already pleasing impression of the CD the package contains a nice bonus stuffed with a bunch of nice trifles such as live-video, interviews and other interesting footage. Still, I'd catch myself hearing this or that familiar moment and remembering the good ole days when I split my throat open crying out "Cannot kill the Bat-Te-Ry!!!". Oh, shit - it's three in the morning and I am shouting here like there is no tomorrow (St. Ded)

We Will Rise
Eagle Records/CD-Maximum
true power

As any music expert will easily tell you over the past few years "hammerfalls" are spreading all over the place. Now the cloning process has been enhanced with a "role model" coming into place. Hammerfall's "Main Baldie" Stefan Elmgren has joined his forces with Niklas Johnsson (hailing from Swedish main vocal school - Lost Horizon) and released a product of true Swedish quality and true Swedish standard. The sound neatly combed by the master-hand of none other than Fredrik Nordstrom himself, accurately placed (fast things to fast things, slow things to slow things) music moves, industriously sung vocal patterns. It all would have been well and good, but this album really misses one thing, just as much as Suffocation misses fresh air, and that is some sense of humor! Yes, indeed some self-irony and what is generally understood under the term "fun" would of done this release a world of good. I mean you can't possibly keep that true straight face while singing about dragons and warriors, can you? Now imagine listening to it? (Fireball)

Suffer Our Pleasures
Spinefarm Records/FONO

Tarot have always been and still remain one of the most famous and esteemed Finnish heavy-metal bands. The quartet has been around for over 16 years, and at that, still keeps its original lineup of founding brothers Marco and Zachary Hietala and their loyal friends Janne Tolsa and Pecu Cinnari. Their taste has never ever betrayed them and their talent is measured in units obviously larger than droplets. The born-to-do singer Marko has participated in so many different bands and projects that listing them alone would take a bunch of small-font paragraphs. And being a singing bassist at that he really is invaluable. I mean it's not for nothing that Hietala has been staying with Nightwish for several years now. But, let u go back to Tarot. The album is simply a killer, with each track being a small masterpiece, be it the rough "I Rule", the balladish "Rider of the Last Day", or the speedy "From the Shadows." Add Marco's with superb soloing delivered by Zachary, plus a slight fleur of oriental melodies, and there you go - new century heavy from true genre vets. (Debbie Boink)


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