FOLLOW NO ONE – Single Review: “Fear No Evil”

Follow No One is the music project of two highly accomplished musicians from different parts of the world and two completely separate musical backgrounds – singer/songwriter and pianist Rich Hall, who’s originally from Nashville, Tennessee, but now based in Denver, Colorado, and guitar virtuoso Pedro Murino Almeida from Lisbon, Portugal, but with roots in Brazil. Rich began performing at a young age in theater, but found his true calling performing and writing music. Pedro was classically trained in music composition, with a successful career involving his own musical acts, and his work has been featured in film and video. Their dynamic style of rock music is influenced by such giants as Dream Theater, Alter Bridge, Foo Fighters, Avenged Sevenfold, Imagine Dragons and Three Days Grace.

The duo released their debut EP, simply titled “5“, in September 2017, which featured five hard-hitting tracks. (My review of the EP has been one of my most successful, earning nearly 300 views.) They followed in 2018 with an excellent cover of the David Bowie song “I’m Afraid of Americans”, then “Your Time of Dying” in March 2019. Now they’re back with a killer new single “Fear No Evil”, which dropped August 9th. The song was inspired by Hall’s study of Demonic Possession, a topic he has researched for many years. The track has had quite a journey during its creation, having been recorded in both Portugal and the U.S., and mixed by Jarrod Headley (Music Supervisor for the History Channel program Counting Cars), before finally being mastered in Dallas.

The track blasts open with an explosion of Almeida’s gritty, chugging guitar, while Hall fervently wails the opening lyrics. Almeida’s guitar soon settles into an intricate back and forth dance of melodic jangly riffs alternating with some serious shredding and mind-blowing distortion. Holy hell, this man can play the guitar! Fortified with a rock-solid rhythm section of crushing bass and thunderous percussion, Almeida lays down a riveting backdrop for Hall’s colorful, impassioned vocals as he plaintively laments:

I tried to believe
And the people let me down
I gave them every chance
Changed every circumstance
People you think you can trust
Are not even people at all
Imagination or indoctrination
Chipping away at the edges of your soul
See no evil
Hear no evil

“Fear No Evil” is a fantastic, powerhouse track that gets better with each listen. Almeida’s guitar work is among the best I’ve heard lately, and both he and Hall make a formidable pair, delivering outstanding and hard-driving rock with every song they release.

Connect with Follow No One:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  SoundcloudSpotify / Tidal / Google PlayYouTube
Purchase:  iTunesAmazon

LYIA META – Single Review: “Deserving of Love”

lyia meta2

One of my favorite female vocalists is Malaysian singer-songwriter Lyia Meta. Based in Kuala Lumpur, Lyia is a lovely woman both inside and out, with a dazzling powerhouse voice. With her deep, resonant vocal style and ability to cover multiple genres ranging from blues and rock to pop and country with ease, she’s become an international star, winning numerous music awards over the past several years. I first featured her in early 2018 when I reviewed her gorgeous single “Without Walls”, then again this past January when I wrote about her pop-rock anthem “All of My Love”. Lyia now returns with a dramatic new single “Deserving of Love“, her first foray into metal rock.

About the song, Lyia told me “This is the first time I am doing/writing metal. As a multi-genre artist, I try not to limit myself, and because my heart/influence is rooted in rock and blues it seemed a natural sort of thing to gravitate toward this. As I started this adventure with [producer] Mike Hall, I must say I was a bundle of nerves throughout the entire process. Almost all my songs are written from a personal place. So this song is no different.”

“Deserving of Love” storms right out of the gate with an explosive mix of Mike Hall’s shredded guitar and Lyia’s raw, impassioned vocals. Soon enough, Mike delivers thunderous staccato riffs as Lyia demands to be heard and understood in her desperate longing to be loved.

Don’t cut me down
Cos’ I speak the words you need to hear
Don’t shut me out
Don’t cut me down

The dramatic soaring chorale vocals in the chorus have a chilling, almost Gothic feel that gives the track incredible power and depth. By this time, Mike’s shredding his guitar nearly to the breaking point as Lyia unleashes all of the raw emotion she can gather as she pleads:

Do you hear me?
Bare my soul I’m in need

Lay it there see me bleed
I’m so weary but I’m so deserving of love
So deserving of love
I’m deserving of love

“Deserving of Love” is a terrific song, and Lyia does quite an admirable job singing heavy metal. So play this one loud! As a side note, Lyia is also an accomplished visual artist, and designed the striking artwork for the single.

Connect with Lyia: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream her music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Reverbnation
Purchase on iTunes / Amazon

TRUE THE GRAY – EP Review: “Bledstone”

True the Gray Bledstone

True the Gray is a metalcore band from Denver, Colorado, consisting of Peter Vaughn (guitars, clean vocals, percussion, keys & overthinking to a fault) and Scotty Wilson (growls & screams, guitars, percussion & weed). They’ve been friends for years, and played together in the now-defunct Denver metalcore band Me Against Sunrise prior to forming True the Gray in 2016. Inspired by some of their favorite bands like Slipknot, Wage War and Polaris, True the Gray make relentlessly aggressive yet melodic metalcore rock. They cheekily describe their sound as “great background music for wine and cheese board parties and satanic rituals.

True the Gray2
Scotty & Peter

In 2016, they released a very respectable debut self-titled EP True the Gray, and followed up in May 2018 with a powerful, face-melting single “Greet Your Tragedy”, which I reviewed. That October, they dropped a three-track EP In A Wake, and last month (June 2019), they released their latest effort Bledstone, a five-track EP serving up more of their signature punishing wall of sound, dark lyrics and fearsome vocals. The EP was produced and mixed by Peter and Scotty, and mastered by Mike Kalajian. Tanner Lichty played bass (and mixed and mastered “The Old Haunt”), and drums were played by John Baptiste Maukbuke.

Kicking things off is “The Old Haunt“, which opens with what sounds like a stylus being placed onto a worn record album before an onslaught of raging guitars and pummeling drumbeats ensue. Scotty savagely growls the lyrics that speak to man’s inherent evil nature, and our internal struggles to conquer that evil in the hopes of finding our better selves: “There is a piece of everyone’s heart that is wicked from the start. But there’s a reason to feel we were placed here to heal and contrive new working parts.” As the song unfolds, Peter fervently sings “A way to cross the line. A face an image of lies. And through thoughts he finds a side. Through thoughts he finds the sight.” But alas, goodness is not to be found, as Scotty bitterly laments “And in conclusion a sweet delusion of fortune and good faith, but as I have no doubt, nothing works out for the bold and the brave.

With nary a break in the action, “Lionize” explodes with a furious barrage of staccato riffs, crushing bass and hammering drums. It’s an exquisite track, both beastly and beautiful, and my favorite on the EP. The guitar work is spectacular, and really showcases the guys’ impressive musicianship. At the two and a half minute mark, everything calms down momentarily as we’re treated to an enchanting melodic guitar interlude before ramping back up for a dramatic finish. Peter and Scotty’s contrasting vocal styles complement and mesh together quite nicely on this and other tracks.

The guys unleash their sonic fury on “Dreamstealer“, a near-epic song with searing lyrics spoken from the perspective of a godlike figure to humankind. Angered by the mess they’ve made of earth and themselves, god concludes that the only solution is to flood the earth again, as was done in Biblical times: “I’ll fuckin’ turn the tide again. Let a wave take away your precious land./ You failed me. You all fell from my grace. So spineless. Empathy; I have none for the weak. Your price to pay. I gave you life. You meant everything to me. I’ll miss your sight. But you weren’t meant to be.” The heavy, distorted guitars and percussion fade out at around 4:40, transitioning to an atmospheric soundscape of haunting ethereal synths lasting another full minute, symbolizing the somber aftermath of such a global cataclysm.

Eon” blasts through the speakers with a relentless volley of machine gun riffs, frantic guitar runs and jackhammer percussion. Now it seems the devil is the one ready to settle some scores, and accordingly, Scotty’s vocals are more savage than ever as he screams “I will open the sky, I will watch as your demons die! With certainty the moon will bleed and light our darkest nights!” Once again, Peter’s clean vocals provide a dramatic contrast to Scotty’s metalcore growls. True the Gray continue to lay waste to the airwaves with their intense metalcore mayhem on the final track “Deadwood“. The song’s meaning isn’t totally clear to me, but my take is that the godlike figure is telling mankind that he/she is no longer their god: “These hearts left hallowed. My feelings shallowed. And I’ll turn away. I can’t be the one you follow.” Scotty and Peter’s vocals have never sounded better, and raise the hairs on the back of my neck from start to finish.

Bledstone is a fantastic and well-crafted little EP. Despite it’s relatively brief running time of only 19 minutes, it’s a raging beast of unabashed ferocity and brilliant metalcore grooves. True the Gray continue to grow in terms of their songwriting and performance with each release, and Bledstone is clearly a step forward for the talented duo.

Connect with True the Gray:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify /  Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  Bandcamp

HOUNDWOLF – EP Review: “Tempted to Abuse”

Houndwolf

HOUNDWOLF is an outstanding hard rock/metal band based in Witten, Germany. Influenced by some of their favorite rock and metal bands like Metallica, Motörhead, Pantera, Slayer, Black Stone Cherry, Trivium and Black Label Society, they play melodic and aggressive metal-infused rock’n’roll, with some of the best guitar work I’ve heard from any band. Comprising HOUNDWOLF are four gracious, cool and funny guys: Milan Schloßmacher (Lead Vocals & Guitars), Tobias Maienschein (Guitar & Backings), Daniel Teuchert (Bass & Backings) and Thomas Neuhaus (Drums).

In early 2016 they released a debut 3-track EP Fast and Loose, then dropped their first studio album Beware of the Dog that November, which I reviewed in December 2017. This past April, they followed up with a new four-track EP Tempted to Abuse, serving up more of their signature aggressive, high-energy rock’n’roll. They kick things off with “Roll,” a simple but effective ode to what they do, and Milan makes sure we don’t forget it as he shouts “We are determined to rock, so you better roll!” Milan and Tobias crank out red hot riffs while Daniel lays down a solid bass line and Thomas pounds out the beat on his drum kit. They perform a studio playthrough of the song on this video, and it’s fun to get a close-up look at them playing their respective instruments.

The guys seem to channel Metallica on the hard-driving title track “Tempted to Abuse,” tearing up the airwaves with extended riffs of blistering guitar work. Milan’s raw vocals even remind me a bit of James Hetfield on this track. Dial up the volume on this banger! Next up is “The Second,” a great bluesy rock song that’s probably my favorite of the four tracks. As always, their guitar work is terrific, but what really stands out for me are Milan’s great vocals. They have just the right amount of raw power when he sings the aggressive verses, then he injects a little humor into his more spoken vocals, when we can also hear a bit of his German accent. It’s clear from his body language and facial expressions that he really gets into playing and singing, which is a joy to watch.

Pursuit of Ambiguity” is straight-up metal rock’n’roll, with rapid-tempo heavy riffs, pounding drums and tons of crashing cymbals. The guitar work in the bridge is absolute fire, and Thomas seems to beat the living hell out of his drums! These guys are amazing musicians and it’s always a pleasure listening to their dynamic rock’n’roll music. I love HOUNDWOLF!

They’ve produced several entertaining videos of themselves playing their songs, as well as some behind the scenes footage of the recording of this EP, which you can check out on their YouTube channel.

Connect with HOUNDWOLF:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

TRAVERSE THE ABYSS – EP Review: “Traverse the Abyss”

Traverse the Abyss album art

Traverse the Abyss is a heavy metal band based in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Their intense, face-melting sound draws from a myriad of metal sub-genres, including classic heavy metal, thrash metal, death metal, nu-metal and metal core, as well as hard rock, rock’n’roll and even punk influences. They formed in 2016 and quickly got to work recording their first album Gamble of Life, which was released that November. It was an impressive debut, and you can read my review here. Since then, they’ve dropped three singles, all of which are now included on their new self-titled EP Traverse the Abyss. 

The band has undergone a few personnel changes since their beginning, and the current line up is now Eric Abyss (Vocals), “Iron” Mike White (Guitar), Mike “Bnoc” Bieniecki (Bass/Backing Vocals), Matt Mierzejewski (Guitar) and Nathan Cardona (Drums).

The guys get right down to business with the scorching opening track “Failure.” Our ears are greeted with a wailing guitar solo that’s quickly broken by an explosion of stabbing shredded guitars, jack-hammer death metal riffs, and speaker-blowing drums. Halfway through, the guys throw some nice melodic riffage into the maelstrom of furious guitars, adding texture and complexity to the track. Eric screams the lyrics with a savage ferocity that’s almost frightening.

I hope he has a good ear, nose and throat specialist, because he’ll surely need one after he’s done ripping his vocal cords to shreds on “Dead Weight.” This is a real head-banger, with frantic riffs of raging guitars, crushing bass and pummeling drums.  Eric brutally screams the biting lyrics that are a total repudiation of someone who’d fucked you over: “I think you’ve mistaken me for someone who truly gives a fuck.”

Traverse the Abyss turns introspective on “Time Flies,” ruminating on life changes and the inevitable loss and regret many of us experience with the passage of time: “I have to live with decisions that I’ve made. Yet they make me who I am today. / I lie awake every night and reminisce. About my friends and family and times that I miss, and how they are never coming back.”

The guys continue on their rampaging path of sonic destruction with the face-melting “Family” and “Inner Demons.” The furious, fast-paced riffs rain down hot and heavy, but with an amazing intricacy, and Eric’s death metal growls are positively bestial. They inject a heavy dose of rock’n’roll into their metal on “Battle Cry,” one of my favorite tracks on the album. It opens with a playful burst of fiendish laughter, then Eric sings “A scooba dooba do bop ba bop bam boo” before frantic rolling guitars, heavy bass and thunderous drums take over. “Iron” Mike and Matt tear through the airwaves with jaw-dropping riffs as sharp as razor wire, while Eric screams the lyrics that are a clarion call against tyranny.

I thought I’d heard the most brutal music the band had to offer, but I was wrong! The guys really bare their death metal teeth and dial up the ferocity on the final track “Blink.” Man, the staccato death metal riffs are like machine-gun fire on steroids, and the pummeling bass and drums so powerful I could feel them in my gut. Eric seems to stretch his vocal abilities to the breaking point, his screams and growls matching the fury of the instrumentals note for note. It’s a great finish to a fantastic, hard-hitting album.

With their sophomore effort, Traverse the Abyss further confirm their strengths for writing outstanding heavy/death metal songs with compelling, relevant lyrics and great melodies, as well as their skills at bringing them to life with their impressive musicianship. With two great albums now under their belt, I would safely say they’re a band on an upward trajectory.

Catch them at one of these upcoming shows:

Connect with Traverse the Abyss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Reverbnation
Purchase on  iTunes / Bandcamp

MURKOCET – Single Review: “Hustlin’ Hate”

Hustlin' Hate

Phoenix, Arizona-based heavy metal band MURKOCET is bound and determined to slam you against the wall with their relentlessly intense music. They state they’re named after a substance directly attributed to the aggressive and often times violent actions of it’s user. Listening to their music, I’m certainly not gonna argue with that! Following up on their self-released face-melting debut album Digging Mercy’s Grave, released this past January 2017, they’ve just released a blistering new single “Hustlin’ Hate.”

MURKOCET consists of Richie Jano on vocals, Nate Garrett on guitar, Mike Mays on drums, and newcomer Jared Pettit on bass. Their hard-hitting yet melodic music is heavily influenced by some of their favorite hardcore and death metal bands such as Lamb of God, Slipknot and Hatebreed. They combine those influences with a strong emphasis on engagement with fans though their incredibly dynamic, high energy performances.

Murkocet

“Hustlin’ Hate” starts off with a wailing guitar riff, accompanied by a rib-crunching bass riff and pounding drum, then explodes into an unrelenting four minute long assault of jackhammer bass, pummeling drums and blazing guitars. The interplay between guitar and bass is so good it brings goosebumps. Jano unleashes all the brutal fury he can muster with his raw, guttural vocals, raising those goosebumps to the breaking point. It’s a phenomenally powerful track, and a thing of beauty for those who love death metal.

Catch Murkocet at one of these upcoming concerts:

Nov. 25 –  Silver Spur Saloon, Denver, CO
Nov. 26 –  Rio Rancho, NM
Nov. 27 –  Green Room, Flagstaff, AZ
Nov. 29 –  The Merrow, San Diego, CA
Nov. 30 –  Bricks Restaurant & Sports Bar, Maywood, CA
Dec. 1   –  Dive Bar, Las Vegas, NM
Dec. 8   –  Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ
Dec. 22 –  Acadia Bar & Grill, Houston, TX

Connect with Murkocet:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud/ Google Play / YouTube
Purchase:  iTunes

SERPERUS – EP Review: “Infernal Seasons”

I can’t seem to pull myself away from the UK, as here I am featuring yet another band from that island nation. There’s such a tremendous amount of musical talent based there, I could devote my blog entirely to UK artists. This time I shine my spotlight on Serperus, a Liverpool five-piece that plays aggressive and melodic heavy metal. Formed in 2014, the band consists of Joey Farrell (Vocals), Mark Coogan (Lead Guitar), Jono Walters (Rhythm Guitar), Mikey Smith (Bass) and Aaron May (Drums).

Serperus performing

They released their debut EP …with Pestilence in December 2016 to wide acclaim, and followed up with their sophomore EP Infernal Seasons this past May. Offering up six tracks of brutal, unrelenting thrash metal that address themes of authoritarian oppression, Infernal Seasons serves to further cement the solid reputation Serperus has established for themselves, and demonstrates the progression of their songwriting skills and technical experimentation.

Infernal Seasons

The title track “Infernal Seasons” sets the tone with an onslaught of wailing guitars and Smith’s buzz-saw bass lines, propelled by thunderous percussion, courtesy of May’s relentless attack on his drum kit. Coogan delivers blistering riffs while Farrell snarls the searing and topically relevant lyrics that speak of the destruction and cruelty perpetrated upon society by ruthless leaders: “A charade, a means to construct the plague. The infernal seasons, the results of tyranny. Mother nature, down to her last legs. Deliverance, for us as the non-believers. Twisting tongues of the prophet, forcing catastrophic opinions.”

Serperus dials up the speed setting on the frenetic “Divulge,” the first single released from the EP.  As the band explained to online magazine Pure Grain Audio, “‘Divulge’ is one of the fastest and most intricate songs, featuring lots of twists and turns throughout. It is our personal favourite to play live and it is perfect to showcase what [we’re] all about.” And they’re not exaggerating about the song being fast and intricate – this beast kicks ass! The scorching, rapid-fire riffs blast through the speakers from start to finish with no letup, calling to mind the epic Metallica song “Hardwired.”

Into Ruin” opens with a mysterious intro of violin, xylophone, and piano before an assault of shredded guitars, hammering drums and crushing bass rain down like thunderbolts. This track’s a real head-banger, and once again our ears are treated to killer guitar solos, which continue unabated with “Deliverance Has Come.”  The song’s lyrics assert that mankind’s suffering will only be relieved by death. “Our fate is sealed. So choke on your last breath, as you sit and wait for the sweet release of death. Light begins to fade, humanity has failed, blinded by deceit, history repeats.

Perhaps the most melodically complex track on the EP is “No Vindication,” a six and a half minute-long tour-de-force. The song starts off slowly, with strummed electric guitar and heavy bass, then a hypnotic drum beat enters the scene, accompanied by Farrell’s calm, echoed vocals. The intensity ramps up with aggressive, shredded guitars and pounding drums,  Farrell’s vocals rising in ferocity to match the brutal instrumentals. We’re then thrust headlong into the hard-hitting closing track “Spirit in Black.” Unrelenting riffs of distorted & shredded guitars are driven by jack-hammer percussion, making this track an adrenaline rush on steroids. When the guitars fade out with a final crash of the cymbal, all you can do is catch your breath.

Even though it contains only six tracks, Infernal Seasons runs over 30 minutes, as they’re all fairly long. That fact, combined with the high level of intensity throughout its entirety, make it feel more like an album than an EP. A minor criticism I have is that some of the tracks sound quite similar to one another, however, the quality of the instrumentals and compelling lyrics more than make up for it. Overall, it’s a great EP that delivers the thrash metal goods.

Connect with Serperus:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream their music on Spotify and download for free on Bandcamp 

MEN WITHOUT ARMIES – EP Review: “Strapped & Loaded”

Men Without Armies is a hard rocking, guitar-driven metal band based in Nashville, Tennessee. The band was formed in 2013 by Canadian guitarist/composer/producer Brennan Dylan, and now includes lyricist Dude Diablo and drummer Derek Bachtold. The band is set to release their new EP Strapped & Loaded on July 20, 2017.

Before I get into my review of their EP, I want to provide a little background on the band and its founding member Brennan Dylan. Born in Vancouver, B.C., raised in Ottawa and then Toronto, he’s had a love and aptitude for music since early childhood. He began playing sax and composing music at the age of 10, and performed classical, jazz & swing in school stage bands. In his bio, Dylan states “When I was 14 I picked up a guitar for the first time; it was like I’d inherited freedom. My high school music teacher told me that guitar wasn’t an instrument. I ignored him and studied rock/metal guitar for the first year.

Brennan D as boy

He wrote rock and metal songs and, while still in high school, performed jazz, rock & blues improv guitar at a local club. He branched out and studied everything from Motorhead to Dick Dale to Bach. He was in a surf band one summer, then moved into electronic music, which he incorporated into hard rock/metal compositions. He eventually moved to Boston to study Performance Guitar at Berklee College of Music, then headed west to LA where he played the Sunset Strip as a solo artist, performing with some major acts, including Michael Angelo Batio, DeathRiders and Gorillaz at the Whisky a GoGo.

In 2010, Dylan released his first self-produced CD Bullet Ride, followed two years later by Broken Glass, which received positive reviews and radio play, including a CBS Radio interview and press in Performer Magazine, NME & Guitar World. In 2013, he dropped his third CD Raining in Berlin. Still restless, he relocated to New York City that same year, where he formed Men Without Armies, about which he explained:

That simple 3 man band was the formula I’d been searching for in the trees rather than the forest. Pure rippin’ metal has been coursing through my veins since I first picked up a guitar. My adventures to incorporate every genre that has a beat into my metal compositions was very necessary and still is. I want to study it all but most of all I want to become a better guitar player and composer. By straying from the herd I think that I can accomplish that…no one has a monopoly on anything, even a flat tire kicks off a beat. I may not like all music genres but I’ve always been able to find great guitar players and/or composers in all I’ve studied.

brennan dylan

Men Without Armies released their debut self-titled EP in 2014, and followed up in 2016 with Walking Through Fire. The band won the prestigious IMEA (International Music and Entertainment Association) award for Best Metal Group in October 2016. They’re now based in Nashville, and ready to drop their third EP Strapped & Loaded next month.

Dylan states that the songs on Strapped & Loaded took more than a year to create and, in the process, he literally became a ‘man without an army’ after the band’s original drummer and bass player/vocalist abruptly quit to follow other pursuits. He had written 53 new songs, which he whittled down to 20 and finally 12 that he fully developed into complete works. With his drummer and bassist now departed, Dylan played all instruments but drums (guitar, bass, keyboards and synths) and hired a session drummer for recording of the songs, as their time at Vibe Studio had already been booked. The vocals were sung by Vibe Studio owner Johnny Burke.

Dylan and Diablo eventually landed Derek Bachtold as their new drummer, and they’re currently recruiting for a new bassist/vocalist. They decided that Strapped & Loaded will now be a six-song EP instead of a 12 song album. But they also recorded the remaining six songs without vocals. Those six instrumentals have been amped with searing guitar solos which have become their trademark and something their fans have come to expect, so they will also be released as a follow up EP to be called Strapped & ReLoaded once they have a new vocalist on board to sing the lyrics.

About the new EP, Dylan explains: “Strapped & Loaded speaks about our times, and three of the songs have a military theme. The song “Strapped & Loaded” is the single and has a double meaning. Dude also wrote it to help give my mom strength and courage to battle her cancer. “Crash ‘n Burn” is all about Vegas. The title for “Fast Life in Hollywood” says it all. “The Gun Show” was written to help bring more awareness of living life inside of our inner cities, to those living the great life in places like Man Hat Tan – grab a coat, got a plane to catch, see ya man.”

Track listing:
1. The Desert Haunts Me
2. The Gun Show
3. Strapped & Loaded
4. Crash ‘n Burn
5. Fast Life in Hollywood
6. A Day in The Life

The Desert Haunts Me” kicks things off with a rousing, hard-driving beat and killer riffs. “It’s the trigger that sets me free. The trigger that sets me free. Bang bang bang bang. Brings the bullets right out of me. The bullets right out of me. Bang bang bang bang. Forced to kill. Enough to thrill. The desert haunts me.” “The Gun Show” ramps up the energy with a frantic beat and awesome rapid-fire riffs that really show off Dylan’s amazing guitar playing skills. The in-your-face lyrics speak to the endless bloodshed of gang violence: “Welcome to the gun show baby, with bullets flying. We’re all locked and loaded, spilling blood with people dying. Welcome to the gun show, and no one’s keeping count. It keeps rising, and rising and rising and rising.

Dylan unleashes his sonic weaponry on the title track “Strapped & Loaded,” with scorching hot riffs that do justice to the intense lyrics that describe the band’s mission and also Dylan’s mother’s battle with cancer. In his gritty vocals, Burke snarls: “Crashing through the gates, a burning hell. Never quit, always with horns up, never ring the bell. Punching stars, we’re rippin’ metal. This is our story for us to tell. Strapped & loaded we will go. There is silence in screaming. There is violence in dreaming. Bullets riddle my mind.

Crash ‘n Burn” offers up more hot, bass-heavy riffs and thunderous percussion, before all hell breaks loose on “Fast Life in Hollywood.” Frenetic guitar riffs, crushing bass and hammering drums make this track a real head-banger that gets the blood pumping, and Dylan’s guitar solo at the finale is jaw-droppingly fantastic!

My favorite track is “A Day in the Life,” a complex song with two distinct melodies. The track opens with a mysterious atmospheric synth chord, then explodes with snarling guitars, crashing drums and Burke’s gruff vocals singing the defiant lyrics: “Fearless we live, yeah, fearless we fight. Fearless we live, yeah, fearless we die.” The tempo abruptly changes to a beautiful melody, with gentler guitars, snare drums, and softer vocals, before the gruff, hard-driving melody returns for two more cycles, making this a musically exciting and compelling song. Dylan lays down one of his signature blistering guitar solos in the bridge.

If you’re a fan of heavy, guitar-driven metal rock, Strapped & Loaded needs to be part of your collection. Show Men Without Armies some love and support by following them on:

Facebook /  Twitter /  YouTube

Stream their music:  Soundcloud /  Reverbnation

Purchase it:  Reverbnation

EP Review: ONESTEP – “Haunting Satellites”

OnesteP is an alternative heavy metal band based in Kiev, Ukraine that plays hard-hitting rock with a message. I reviewed their excellent debut single “In War We Rust” in February, which you can read here, and they’ve now released a four-track EP Haunting Satellites.  Formed in 2011, OnesteP consists of Siddy on vocals, Eugene Sikoza on guitar & production, Taras Kolomoiets on guitar, and Bogdan Korol on bass. (The band also has a session drummer.)  Strongly influenced by the great bands Korn, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, their intense music style is both fierce and melodically beautiful – always a winning combination in heavy metal. Having two guitarists plus a bassist also gives their music an incredibly powerful, complex sound that reaches all the way down into the core of your soul.

onestep

For their EP, the band stated they wanted ‘songs with deeply emotional lyrics about existential malaise and trends in modern society,‘ and do they deliver! The first track “In War We Rust” is a blistering protest against war, its lyrics a searing attack on mankind’s inability to change its behavior or take any responsibility for continuing to engage in wars: “Your satellites are haunting me and making me blind and I’m losing sight. Now look around and find your waste that you’ve made of this another site.

The instrumentals are as powerful as the lyrics, with razor-sharp shredded guitars, bone-crushing bass, and thunderous drums that are hallmarks of OnesteP’s sound, and setting the tone for the entire EP.  Siddy’s impassioned vocals are almost terrifying as he screams: “Crawl! Dig em’out! Fall! Pick em’ up! Destroy! Build it up! Got bored? Heat it up!

The ferocity of the music remains at full throttle on “Cold Revenge,” with the added bonus of rapping vocals, both clean and hardcore (that are also employed on the other two tracks “Illusion” and “Torment Chapter”).  I love the melody on this track, and the guitar work is outstanding. So too with “Illusion,” where the instrumentals and chord change-ups are quite good. I especially love the melodic flourish at the end of the track. On “Torment Chapter,” dramatic, menacing synth chords compete for our attention with thunderous shredded guitar riffs and an exuberant hard-driving beat, making for a great song.  Hell, they’re all great songs, and Haunting Satellites is a terrific EP.

Connect with OnesteP on Facebook,  stream their music on Soundcloud and  YouTube, and purchase on Bandcamp.

Song Review: ONESTEP – “In War We Rust”

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Nearly every day I receive submissions from artists, bands or their publicists wanting me to review or feature them on my blog, and I’m thrilled when their music is really good. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover a promising young band from Kiev, Ukraine called OnesteP. They play an intense style of alternative heavy metal, and just released their fantastic new single “In War We Rust” in advance of their debut EP, due for release this coming April.

Formed in 2011, OnesteP consists of Siddy on vocals, Eugene Sikoza on guitar & production, Taras Kolomoiets on guitar, and Bogdan Korol on bass. (The band also has a session drummer.)  Having two guitarists gives their music a muscular, hard-hitting sound that quite effectively delivers. Their music style is strongly influenced by the great bands Korn, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, but the guys bring a fresh approach to their music. Like many new bands, they toured heavily the first few years, experimenting with their sound until they felt it fully represented who they wanted to be, then started writing songs for their first EP. Along with “In War We Rust,” the band states that their EP ‘will feature songs with deeply emotional lyrics about existential malaise and trends in modern society.’

In the band’s own words, “In War We Rust” is a protest against war and mankind’s fear to change its behavior or take any responsibility.  The lyrics are searing: “Your satellites are haunting me and making me blind and I’m losing sight. Now look around and find your waste that you’ve made of this another site.”  

The blistering track immediately hits you like a punch to the gut, leaving you breathless. It’s both savage yet melodically beautiful – always a powerful combination in heavy metal. Eugene and Taras shred their guitars to pieces, making them snarl, wail and scream with abandon, while Bogdan’s intense, heavy bass gives the track incredible heft. Toss in thunderous, hammering drums and Siddy’s fierce, impassioned vocals, and the result is a tremendously satisfying heavy metal track. I love it, and eagerly look forward to hearing their entire EP.

Support OnesteP by following them on Facebook. “In War We Rust” may be purchased on Bandcamp.