This VINYL REVIEWS section is where you'll find reviews of the few promotional vinyl releases (or CD-r versions of them) that we received so far. Also to be found here are the vinyl reviews that were originally first included in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzines # 1 (released 02/1997), # 3 (released 06/2002) and # 4 (released 05/2003). I didnít change any of these reviews. Also, be aware that some of the info concerning ordering details, addresses, websites, email addresses, etc. may no longer be relevant!!!


ABDULLAH / Graveyard Poetry (LP/People Like You/2002)
Ohioís ABDULLAH are often lumped in with the stoner rock movement, or at least they used to be in the past, but I tend to disagree. Definitely on this release. Iíd say itís more in the vein of melancholic and mesmerizing doom. Well, most of the time itís in the realm of doom anyhow. Bands that well may have had an influence on ABDULLAH include SHINE, TROUBLE and later period SOLITUDE AETURNUS. On the other hand, some of the tunes are most definitely influenced by the N.W.O.B.H.M. as well. Like Guided By The Spirit or Strange Benedictions, which is a real treat for all early DIAMOND HEAD fans! And Deprogrammed is the perfect cross between early OZZY OSBOURNE and N.W.O.B.H.M. I have no complaints about this direction; as a matter of fact I would like to see them head for an even more N.W.O.B.H.M. orientated direction. Anyway, the cover design is the same on this vinyl issue, and there are no special treats as far as pictures are concerned either. On the contrary, the lyrics to Pantheistic and Beyond The Mountain are missing here. And Behold A Pale Horse is not included here either, but that was just because of time restrictions. Quality release nevertheless, and of interest for both those into doom and the N.W.O.B.H.M. www.peoplelikeyourecords.de. People Like You Records / Schšferstrasse 33A / 44147 Dortmund / Germany. www.stonerrock.com/abdullah.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

AFTER ALL / The Bereaved EP (7Ē/Near Dark Productions/2001)
Brugge-based AFTER ALL are no strangers to vinyl releases, as they already released a 7Ē EP in 1992 (Dusk) and a split 7Ē with PATRIARCH (reviewed below) in 2000. This 7Ē is limited to 300 hand-numbered copies on blue vinyl & includes an insert with b/w pictures & band info, but no lyrics. Cool nude female cover too. On to the music ... before I get carried away too much. This was supposed to be released a long time ago already; just to give you an idea, both of these exclusive tracks were recorded in late March 1999 already. Exhale is most likely the fastest song AFTER ALL recorded in a long while. Theyíve pasted A Sweet Departure (from the Dead Loss CD) at the end, which Iím not so fond of. Turn The Tide is your typical AFTER ALL tune; versatile & with a definite 70ís retro feel to it. Cool release, after all! www.listen.to/afterall.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

AFTER ALL/PATRIARCH / No Recollection/Inside (7Ē/Cannibaelus/2000)
Limited to 300 copies on red vinyl. Needless to say finding a copy nowadays will not be easy. AFTER ALLís track was recorded late October 1998, during the pre-production of the Dead Loss CD. Thus it comes as no surprise that No Recollection is a typical AFTER ALL tune, very groovy, with some slower passages incorporated. And there is more female nudity on AFTER ALLís cover side too. PATRIARCHís cover is more abstract. PATRIARCH are a pure heavy metal band. For those unfamiliar, hereís a short history lesson : they formed in February 1983 as PARIAH & recorded two demos. One of those demo songs (Satanís Revenge) was released on the tape version of New Renaissance Records Satanís Revenge compilation. They changed their name to PATRIARCH in 1988, and recorded a demo, which led to a deal with Shark Records. They released Prophecy (12/1990) & World Within Worlds (02/1993). Deity, a 4-song demo-CD was recorded in 1995. At the end of 1998 they recorded a new 4-song demo, and are trying to find a new record deal on the evidence of that release. So far without luck. Inside is less powerful than most of their earlier stuff, and a bit more progressive too. Actually, it reminds me a bit of early PSYCHOTIC WALTZ. Not bad, but I prefer their early stuff over this myself. www.listen.to/afterall & patriarchfm@hotmail.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

ANGUS / Metal Warriors (LP/Steelhunter/2002)
ANGUS were one of the early 80ís true heavy metal bands to arise from Holland. They hailed from Amsterdam and started out in the spring of 1983. They went on to release two full albums (Track Of Doom/1986 & Warrior Of The World/1987), as well as the Papa Donít Freak 12Ē, also in 1987. As a matter of fact, Sentinel Steel re-released both albums on one CD last year. This vinyl only release is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies and doesnít include the lyrics, but it has an insert with some pictures & band information to make up for that. Most of the songs on offer here (7 out of 9) are not on the Sentinel Steel release. And all of them are remastered in January 2002. The artwork is courtesy of Belgian artist Kris Verwimp (AFTER ALL, SKULLVIEW, ...). Included are the 4 songs from ANGUSí first demo (1983), both songs from the The Heavy Touch compilation (Ivory Tower Records/1985), one demo song recorded for Metalloid Records & 2 songs from the Warrior Of The World demo. The sound quality is a bit variable, and especially the songs from the first demo suffer from age, but are still more than just listenable. ANGUS were a pure heavy metal quartet, with touches of power & speed excellently incorporated, and hereís your chance to find out what they were like in their early days. If you liked both of their albums, chances are youíll enjoy Metal Warriors as well. And if you like Metal Warriors, youíll love the Sentinel Steel release too! www.steelhunter.cjb.net or battlemetal@cs.com. www.sentinelsteel.com. www.truemetal.org/angus.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

ANVIL / Plenty Of Power (LP/Massacre/2001)
ĎTo the diehard, Iím glad youíre there, if not for you Iíd be nowhere.í Oh so true, and that explains why this is the 10th ANVIL studio release already. What you get is typical ANVIL- style metal, highlighted by the distinct vocals, guitars & drums. The high-speed songs that were present on previous releases seem to have vanished & these new tunes are more mid-paced, old-fashioned. Plenty Of Power, Computer Drone & Real Metal are among the absolute highlights, but the others are well worth your attention as well. Dirty Dorothy is mentioned as a bonus track, even though it was on my CD version as well, mentioned to be a bonus track too. Obviously thereís a different bonus track (Left Behind) on the Canadian version of this release (on Hypnotic Records). This is a limited (500 copies), numbered edition & it includes an insert, featuring all lyrics, info & pictures that were also to be found on the regular CD release. The follow-up to this, entitled Still Going Strong, was set for release in March 2002 & itís rumoured to be the logic continuation of Plenty Of Power. www.anvilmetalonmetal.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

APOLLO RA / Ra Pariah (LP/O.P.M./2000)
APOLLO RA is a band that ceased to exist a long time ago already, but itís great to see Ra Pariah finally being properly released. As a matter of fact, Ra Pariah was recorded in 1987 already & it was originally supposed to be released on Shatter Records. However, Shatter went bankrupt while APOLLO RA were busy recording these tunes. As a result, Ra Pariah never got a proper, official release in the late 80ís, although tape copies did get around through the tape-trading circuit. APOLLO RA hailed from Baltimore, Maryland and started out in 1985. A 3-song demo was recorded prior to this. Ra Pariah was produced & engineered by none other than THE RODSí Carl Canedy, who was also the bandís manager. Needless to say he did an excellent job. One song (Coming Of Age/Rukkus) was omitted from the original tape version and replaced by Creating Zero, a song that was mentioned on the tape, but the music of which was actually not on the tape. Confusing? Another demo (Alone In Darkness) was released after Ra Pariah as well, before the band disappeared into obscurity. Anyhow, APOLLO RA, despite never making a major breakthrough, were a great, powerful & pure heavy metal band, including a high-pitched vocalist, cool twin guitars & a solid rhythm section. And cool, basic but straight-forward songs too. Out Of The Night is a bit too commercial & melodic, but the remaining 9 tracks are all killer, no filler stuff, including absolute highlights Bane Of The Black Sword, Crimson Streets, Ra Pariah, Heavenís Just Another Way, Ö It beats me why these guys didnít go places; Iím sure if this had been released at the time it was recorded it wouldíve made quite an impact ! Once again, this vinyl only (hey, I wouldnít mind having this on CD!) release is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies. Happy hunting!! Contact former guitarist Bill McKeown : bmckeown@connext.net. Or check out www.opmrecords.com or www.carlcanedy.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

ARTILLERY / Jester/Fly (Picture Disc 7Ē/Die Hard Music/2000)
I guess the two songs on offer here are Ďleftoversí from the recording sessions of ARTILLERYís B.A.C.K., their 1999 comeback CD, judging by the cover design, which resembles that release a whole lot. And itís another fine piece of art by Eric Philippe as well! Anyhow, when I just referred to Jester & Fly as leftovers I did not mean theyíre inferior. These tunes are on par with the B.A.C.K. material, easily. The old core of Morten & Michael StŁtzer & Flemming Ronsdorf is still around and their music is totally along the same lines as it has ever been. Flemming still reminds me of TRANCEís vocalist, but musically ARTILLERY of course are a lot heavier, thrashier. And this 7Ē picture disc is no exception. Fans of the band in special & thrash metal in general can purchase this without hesitating! www.diehardmusic.com or diehard@diehardmusic.com. Diehard Music Worldwide / Vindegade 101 / 5000 Odense C / Denmark.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

BATTLEROAR / Dragonship/Swordbrothers (7Ē/Battleroar/2002)
BATTLEROAR is a relatively young band from Greece, as they started out in September 2000. They are influenced by 80ís U.S. heavy metal, including the likes of CIRITH UNGOL, MANOWAR, MANILLA ROAD, OMEN, BROCAS HELM, Ö, as well as Europeans DOOMSWORD. A 5-song promo mCD was recorded live in the studio in November 2001. They went on to record some more (unreleased) demos, which brings us to this 7Ē, which is the bandís first official release. The recordings for this 7Ē took place in January 2002, at Studio Versus. A lyric sheet is included, featuring plenty of cool pictures on the back as well. Dragonship is a long, versatile & well-structured epic heavy metal tune. Not too fast at all, just a majestic, pure heavy metal song, including some spoken word parts, reminiscent of early MANOWAR. Swordbrothers is a bit less variable, but heavier & more aggressive, without becoming too fast, and thus just as epic. Like a cross between DOOMSWORD & early MANOWAR. Iím not familiar with these guysí previous material, but if this is anything to go by, Iíd say BATTLEROAR is a band to keep an eye out for! Just recently they replaced their vocalist Vagelis by Marco Concoreggi. And they have a new bassist as well, Kostas Makrikostas. They will be playing support to MANILLA ROAD in Greece, this coming October. And theyíve already shared the stage with the likes of OMEN, BROCAS HELM & CRUSH in the past too. Anyhow, this highly recommended 7Ē is available for Ä 8.00 (P&P included) from : BATTLEROAR / Papagou 60 / 124 61 Haidari / Athens / Greece. battleroar@hotmail.com. www.truemetal.org/battleroar. Donít forget to inquire about that promo mCD as well!
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

BLITZKRIEG / Absolute Power (LP/TPL/2002)
No need to beat around the bush : BLITZKRIEGís Absolute Power is a real killer!! This gatefold vinyl release, limited to 525 handnumbered copies, is basically the same as the CD version, which was released on Edgy. It has the same cover design, albeit a bit lighter, and includes all lyrics. The running order is slightly altered (two songs are reversed) and there are slightly different liner notes by mainman Brian Ross as well. Speaking of the cover artwork, the Great Bird Of Armageddon gets full exposure. Excellent! From a musical point of view itís a case of all killer, no filler. All in the finest N.W.O.B.H.M. tradition, with the songs being built up in the early days BLITZKRIEG vein, and with Brianís specific vocals topping things of. Although I have to say that Enchanted Tower reminded me a lot of Jerseyís LEGEND, both vocally and musically. But for the most part itís in the finest BLITZKRIEG tradition. Nothing really innovating of course, but oh so accurate and convincing, not to mention powerful! Maybe the return to the ranks of guitarist Tony J. Liddle has something to do with it, but, without a single doubt, Absolute Power is the best BLITZKRIEG release since long. www.tpl.se. TPL Records / P.O. Box 4044 / 591 04 Motala / Sweden. www.absolute-blitzkrieg.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

BROCAS HELM / Black Death (Picture Disc LP/Doomed Plaet/2002)
I already mentioned this release in my BROCAS HELM interview with Bobbie Wright in DEN OF INIQUITY # 3, but I didnít have a copy yet back then. Anyhow, BROCAS HELM is one of the few true U.S. cult metal bands that are still around these days. Black Death is their classic second full-length LP, and it was originally released back in 1988 already, on the bandís own Gargoyle Records. And it was already re-issued on CD as well, also on Gargoyle, in 1997. This limited edition picture disc issue (500 copies) has the same cover design, but there are no lyrics, nor extra pictures. However, there are two previously unreleased bonus tracks : War Toons and Juggernaught, both of which originate from the Ghost Story demo. Both other songs from said demo were already released on a 7Ē, on Bad Posture Records, a couple of years ago. These two bonus tracks are just an extra reason to acquire a copy of this version, as their own, original style of heavy metal, as displayed on Black Death, has to be heard to be believed! Doomed Planet Records / 110 Spetti Drive / Fremont / California 94536 / U.S.A. doomedplanet@yahoo.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

CATHEDRAL / Gargoylian/Earth In The Grip Of A Skeletal Hand (7Ē/Southern Lord/2001)
Both of these songs were recorded during the Endtyme sessions (July/August 2000). Said release was a return to their roots, their early days, as far as the music goes. Gargoylian is a typical CATHEDRAL song, in true doom fashion. It would not have been out of place on Endtyme. The flipside is a bit faster, almost tending to become generic thrash at times, and thus less interesting, as far as Iím concerned. And if I were to rate this release by giving points, Iíd have to deduct a couple for the hardly readable lyrics on the back cover. Oh well Ö www.cathedralcoven.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

COMMANDMENT / Engraved In Stone (LP/O.P.M./2000)
Chicagoís COMMANDMENT formed in 1985 as TALON, but had to change their name the year after already, due to another Chicago band owning the rights to the TALON name. Vocalist David Nava joined in September 1987, and this release was recorded shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, the band broke up in September 1989 already, even before these songs were released. And thatís a real shame, as Iím sure that, if these songs had been released when they were recorded, they wouldíve made quite an impact. They still do today. COMMANDMENT turns out to have been a pure power metal quartet, including a great vocalist who was able to hit the high notes right. Add a talented guitarist (now in FRANKENSHRED) and well-constructed songs, and you have a high-quality outfit. The songs are all very powerful, but still diverse too. The only one thatís out of league is ballad Never Be Afraid, which reminds me of very early VIRGIN STEELE. Which isnít bad at all, itís just that a ballad doesnít fit in well with the other 9 scorching tunes. Cuts above the rest include Oriental Maiden, Light In The Dark & Sands Of Time, but the rest is well worth checking out as well, they all rule! Once again, like most O.P.M. releases, this is a limited issue of 500 hand-numbered (gatefold) copies. www.opmrecords.com or www.frankenshred.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

DAMASCUS STEEL / Cry Of The Swords (LP/Hidden Metal Gems/2001)
I have one problem with this release : I have no clue as to when these 10 songs were recorded. Knowing itís a Hidden Metal Gem release, I suppose itís a collection of old demosongs being re-issued, or an obscure album for that matter, but for all I know these songs couldíve been recorded just recently as well. Anyhow, Cry Of The Swords is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies on green vinyl, and was recorded at CMC Studios in Zebulon, N.C. Engineered, mixed & co-produced by Bennie Dellinger, in association with the band, and with the assistance of Rold Gold. And thatís about all the info I have. Actually, the production is excellent. The music on the other hand is rather basic & simple most of the time, more hard rock than heavy metal. Mid-paced most of the time, and with an original, high-pitched vocalist, sometimes reminding me of JACOBS DREAM. Ron Stear is an excellent guitarist as well. Soul Excavation & Thrill Of The Chase (a perfect mixture of RUSH & ION VEIN) please me most on side A, the others are just too basic. Side B in general is a bit more convincing, for itís all a bit more powerful & faster, more metal than hard rock, and more variable too. Running On The Edge & Oasis stand out here. Cry Of The Swords leaves me with mixed feelings; some songs are okay, others just do nothing to me. Try to listen to this release first, before actually purchasing a copy! More info : hiddenmetalgems@aol.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

DAWN OF WINTER / In The Valley Of Tears (Picture Disc LP/Iron Glory/2000)
These guys started out in 1990 already, as CEMETARY, but soon changed their name to DAWN OF WINTER. Most of you will be aware that their line-up includes Gerrit (vocals) & JŲrg (guitars) from SACRED STEEL. The music they deliver here is way different from their SACRED STEEL repertoire though. DAWN OF WINTER stands for classic doom, no more, no less. Clearly influenced by the likes of SAINT VITUS, PENTAGRAM, CANDLEMASS & THE OBSESSED, but with a certain identity of their own, mainly due to Gerritís typical voice. Some people may dislike this release due to his vocals, I for one think his dark & melancholic voice suits this kind of music perfectly. Gerrit was also responsible for all lyrics, while JŲrg took care of all music. Be prepared for almost 55í of pure doom, including sad & depressive lyrics, always slow, yet heavy musically. Being versatile in the doom genre isnít the easiest thing to accomplish, but I didnít get bored at all. In The Valley Of Tears was originally released (on CD) in 1998 already; this limited (300 copies only) picture disc issue has more or less the same cover artwork. Interesting for vinyl addicts and doom fanatics alike! www.ironglory.de.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

DAWN OF WINTER / Slow Is The Suffering (12Ē/Iron Glory/2001)
Here they are at last : new recordings by DAWN OF WINTER. Only three songs though, recorded in May 2001, produced by the band, and mixed & mastered by Achim KŲhler. Almost 18í of pure, classic doom metal is on offer on this vinyl only release, limited to 500 hand-numbered copies. And itís a real tribute to their idols, SAINT VITUS. Titus Vanis (get the picture?) is the most obvious, including lyrics that consist of some 20 SAINT VITUS songtitles. Very cool indeed. The titletrack is another doom classic, while Thirty (and not Thirsty!) And Miserable is another tribute to Scott, Dave, Mark, Armando & Wino. This is an essential release for anyone into classic doom. Get a copy while they last! www.ironglory.de.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

DEATH ROW / Death Is Alive : 1981 Ė 1985 (LP/Game Two/2000)
DEATH ROW of course is PENTAGRAM, but they changed their name in 1981, only to change it again to PENTAGRAM in 1985, just prior to releasing their first album. This live compilation (on vinyl only?) was produced in co-operation with Italyís Black Widow Records. Let me start off by saying that the sound quality isnít the best, but still acceptable (above average bootleg quality), but thatís no surprise, knowing that all of the songs were recorded way back in 1983 (on three different occasions) with one microphone connected to a boom box. Itís the music that matters most anyhow! And as far as the music is concerned, I have no complaints at all. Death Is Alive includes early incarnations of later classics (Burning Saviour, Live Free And Burn, Petrified) as well as the previously unreleased Drive Me To The Grave. But also Review Your Choices, The World Will Love Again, The Ghoul & Sign Of The Wolf. There is no insert/lyric sheet with this release, and the sound quality isnít the greatest, but still itís of interest to all into pure doom metal & PENTAGRAM, for itís a timeless document of what the band was like in their early days. www.ecentral.com/members/Hultgren. Game Two Records / P.O. Box 22640 / Denver / Colorado 80222 / U.S.A. And check out these other recent PENTAGRAM releases as well : Human Hurricane (CD on Downtime Recordings; including rare & previously unreleased 70ís stuff), First Daze Here - The Vintage Collection (CD on Relapse Records; rare recordings revealed for the first time) & of course their latest (fifth) official release, Sub-Basement (CD/2LP on Black Widow/Southern Lord).
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

DERVISH / Some Monsterism (LP/O.P.M./2001)
DERVISH (= whirling out of control) from Kent were one of those obscure N.W.O.B.H.M. acts that never really made an impact at the time. The only thing they ever released on vinyl back then was the song Cyclone on the Kent Rocks Volume 1 LP, on Renegade Records, in 1981. They broke up around mid 1982 already. Anyhow, this limited edition of 750 hand- numbered copies is a collection of previously unreleased demo songs, recorded in 1980 (3), 1981 (5) & 1982 (3) with various line-ups, the only constant members being vocalist Dave Montgomery & guitarist Brian Matthews. Personally, I had only been familiar with that one song, and I didnít really expect the rest of their material to be on the same level. After all, Cyclone was (is) one helluva song! Well, itís only fair to say that some of the other tunes are even better (Nightstalker, Dervish, Sacrifice), while the rest are almost all on par with Cyclone. The Mover is a bit more LED ZEPPELIN influenced, but all others are prime examples of the N.W.O.B.H.M. style at its best. Melodic, yet powerful, diverse songs, and an excellent, rather high-pitched vocalist to top things off. Thereís even a powerful instrumental, ambiguously titled Speeding Fine. Imagine a cross between early TYGERS OF PAN TANG, HOLLOW GROUND & CHINATOWN, and youíll have an idea. Apparently this is DERVISHís entire legacy, and Iím sure that, if they had released this album way back in 1982, it wouldíve turned out to be one of the best N.W.O.B.H.M. albums of all time. There simply are no weak songs on display here, making this of interest to all fans of 80ís heavy metal in general, fanatics of the N.W.O.B.H.M. in special. So, whoís going to release this on CD? www.opm.records.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

DOOMSWORD / Resound The Horn (2LP/Metal Supremacy/2002)
DOOMSWORD are an Italian epic heavy metal quintet and Resound The Horn is their second full-length release. The original CD issue of this one was released on Dragonheart, earlier on in 2002. This gatefold 2LP edition is limited to 500 copies. There are no bonus tracks, nor extra pictures, but all lyrics are reprinted on the inside. The front cover design is the same, while the back is slightly different, yet familiar. As far as the music goes, DOOMSWORD are in the mid-paced epic heavy metal style, with some doom thrown in here and there for good measure. Actually, their debut was a bit more doom and a bit less epic, while itís the other way around here. And things are said to become even more epic on future releases. As far as Iím concerned this is the perfect balance of doom and epic! The doomy parts remind me of SOLITUDE AETURNUS at times. And there are influences of early MANOWAR (narrative parts) and WARLORD to be discovered as well, but as a whole it all comes across as a rather original blend. There are plenty of melodic solos and the songs range from 5í21Ē to 8í29Ē, with the vast majority being well over the 7í mark! Yet never becoming boring! And all songs are well worth investigating, as there are no weak ones on offer here. The lyrics are based on legends and sagas concerning the Celts and Vikings. What more do you want? Be sure to check out the interview that I did with vocalist Deathmaster elsewhere as well!! www.ancientarts.de. Metal Supremacy / Liethberg 28 / 25524 Itzehoe / Germany. www.truemetal.org/doomsword.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

DOUBLE DIAMOND/AFTER ALL / Conquer With Steel/Armageddon Come (12Ē/Steelhunter/2001)
This extremely cool looking 12Ē is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies. The beautiful cover art is courtesy of Kris Verwimp (AFTER ALL) & Eric Philippe (DOUBLE DIAMOND). The insert features info on both bands, pictures, lyrics, ... The bad news is that all copies were sold one week after the release already. The good news is that there is now also a limited (500 copies) press of hand-numbered copies on 12Ē vinyl picture disc available, also on Steelhunter Records. As far as the music goes, both bands deliver 2 previously unreleased songs, recorded in October 2001. DOUBLE DIAMOND are no strangers to our local scene, having released a couple of demos in the early 90ís, and their debut full-length In Danger in 1997. They were also featured on a couple of compilations. Find out more about DOUBLE DIAMONDís past, present & future in the interview I did (featured elsewhere). Both Conquer With Steel & Metal Rules are typical DOUBLE DIAMOND tunes; solid, pure metal, heavy, yet melodic. Imagine a mixture of MANOWAR, early HAMMERFALL, old HELLOWEEN & early IRON MAIDEN and youíll have an idea of what this band is all about. Certainly not the most original band on earth, but always solid & convincing. They have a very strong live reputation and I have the feeling theyíre not really able to convert their powerful live sound on CD & vinyl. Too bad, it would make even more of an impression if they did. Both AFTER ALL tracks are in their typical, own, original style theyíve developed over the years : a cross of 80ís heavy metal & 70ís hard rock. Candle Of Burning Red is a prime example of that : ranging from mid-paced to up-tempo & slightly more metallic than the majority of songs on their latest release, Dead Loss. Taste The Bitterness is slower, doomier. More retro too, but equally as versatile & interesting. It clearly shows that all 5 musicians are well-skilled from their experiences over the years, and Iíve grown to enjoy Pietís vocals too; theyíre rather strange, yet original. You could try your luck by contacting some of the usual vinyl dealers, they may still have a copy. Otherwise, just go for the picture disc version! Contact : STEELHUNTER RECORDS / Ďt Erf 22 / 5374 AM Schaijk / Holland or e-mail : battlemetal@cs.com. www.doublediamondmetal.cjb.net. www.listen.to/afterall.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

DREAM WEAVER / Soulsearching/Voice To Run The Miles (7Ē/Eat Metal/2002)
DREAM WEAVER are considerably more experienced than their fellow compatriots BATTLEROAR, having been around since 1992 already. Actually, the band was formed out of the ashes of INFECTION. Anyhow, a 2-song promo tape (Dream Weaver) was released in late 1993, followed by their first official demo (Dream Within A Dream) in May 1995. Due to military obligations the band was inactive afterwards, up until 1999. In October 2000 they recorded a 5-song mCD (Fantasy Revealed), which was released on Secret Port Records in February 2001. This was Secret Portís first release, is limited to 1037 copies and includes five melodic power metal tunes, along the lines of IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST & MANILLA ROAD. A new bassist joined shortly after the recordings of the mCD. Which brings us to the present. This 7Ē was recorded at Kakophonix Studio & includes two previously unreleased tracks. Thereís an insert as well, including lyrics, info & pictures. Cool cover design as well. Soulsearching is a rather long song, versatile and a bit more accessible, more melodic & less heavy than their previous stuff perhaps. The flipside is shorter, and more along the lines of the material displayed on Fantasy Revealed already. Still melodic, but with an overall heavier approach. And a bit more up-tempo too. Way above average, but personally I rate the BATTLEROAR 7Ē just a bit higher. In the mean time DREAM WEAVER has been busy writing new songs for their debut full-length CD, which is scheduled to be released towards the end of the year. For ordering details, contact : dreamismyreality@hotmail.com or go to www.truemetal.org/dreamweaver. For a copy of the Fantasy Revealed mCD contact Secret Port Records at : theodosism@hotmail.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

DRIZZIT / A Call To Arms (7Ē/Syren/2000)
DRIZZIT are a young true metal outfit from St. Louis, Missouri & they released their first effort on Seattleís Syren Records. The cover art & band logo are courtesy of TWISTED TOWER DIRE/OCTOBER 31 guitarist Scott Waldrop. A Call To Arms is a limited edition release, but I have no clue as to how many copies. A-side Riders Of Doom is a pure, true heavy metal anthem. Flipside Warrior From Afar is a bit slower & has some N.W.O.B.H.M. influences here & there too. The production ainít the best, but the music bodes well for the future. A split 7Ē with SKULLVIEW has been released in the mean time as well. And theyíre on the verge of releasing their first full-length CD (11 songs) as well, to be entitled American True Metal. I downloaded a couple of other songs from their website, and these turned out to be even more convincing, and better sounding, than these on offer here, so letís hope said CD will be out soon. Itís been in the works for over four years now, so itís about time! DRIZZIT are a band with plenty of potential, but they do need to be a bit more focused, and then itíll be only a matter of time before theyíll move on to the next level. Syren Records / P.O. Box 19806 / Seattle / WA 98109 / U.S.A. www.drizzit.net.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

HAMMERHAWK / War/Heavy Metal Forever (7Ē/Stormbringer Productions/2000)
I guess I never really was a fan of Hollandís HAMMERHAWK back in the 80ís, although Iím familiar with some of their earlier stuff. As a matter of fact, they started out in 1982 already, being one of the originators of the heavy metal scene in The Netherlands. Anyway, War is a short, fast & rudimentary tune; the vocals leave a lot to be desired & the song itself is too basic, not adventurous enough. Flipside Heavy Metal Forever is a bit slower, but itís better as well; a true metal hymn in the making? I still have my doubts as far as the vocals are concerned, but the solos make up for that. A special remix version of this song also appeared on the Heavy Metal Maniacs compilation CD in 1999. I believe there are 200 copies on red vinyl (like mine), as well as 200 on blue vinyl, and 200 on white vinyl. And a limited (200 copies) picture disc version is available is well. Happy hunting! Latest news is that theyíre said to be working on a new CD. For more info : stormbringer@mbox302.swipnet.se or hmf@hammerhawk.com or visit www.hammerhawk.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

HANKER / In Our World (LP/Cult Metal Classics/2002)
In Our World is HANKERís debut, and was originally released independently on CD in November 1994 already. Actually, this is a vinyl re-release of the In Our World Revisited CD (reviewed in DEN OF INIQUITY # 1 already), which was first released on Art Of Music in 1996, as it includes both bonus tracks from that release (Rain Of Death and Madly Alive) as well. Back then HANKER was in the melodic power metal vein, or power bordering on speed at times. A good point of reference is early JAG PANZER. The front cover design is the same as the original issues, yet the back cover is slightly altered. Thereís also an insert with all lyrics on one side and a cool b/w band picture on the other. This is strictly limited to 500 handnumbered copies of course. www.cultmetalclassics.com. Cult Metal Classics Records / Akadimias 96 / 106 77 Athens / Greece. www.hankermetal.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

HANKER / Snakes And Ladders (LP/Cult Metal Classics/2002)
Snakes And Ladders is not the follow-up to In Our World (Revisited), as The Dead Ringer was released in between both releases that are reviewed here (1997). Anyhow, Snakes And Ladders was originally released on Metal Disk Records (on CD) in 2000. By this time HANKER had developed more of an overall original style; hardly any JAG PANZER influences are to be detected here. In general, itís all in the melodic and mid-paced powerful heavy metal vein. Thatís not to say that this releases sounds the same all the time. In fact, itís probably their most diverse release thus far. The only song that I could do without is the short instrumental Foolís Paradise. The rest are all on the same high level, although my personal faves are The Pardoner, Ad Patres and the 8í+ The Eternal Struggle. Once again, all lyrics are reprinted on the insert, but there are no bonus tracks. The front cover design is identical to the original CD issue, while the back cover is a bit different, including live bandmember pictures. And yes, itís limited to 500 handnumbered copies. www.cultmetalclassics.com. Cult Metal Classics Records / Akadimias 96 / 106 77 Athens / Greece. www.hankermetal.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

HELSTAR / The James Rivera Legacy (LP/Hidden Metal Gems/2001)
Back in 1990, one year after the release of Nosferatu, HELSTAR recorded a 4-song demo when new recruits Aaron Garza (guitar) & Russell DeLeon (drums) joined forces with familiar faces James Rivera (vocals), Larry Barragan (guitar) and bassist Jerry Abarca. They could not secure a new deal on the evidence of this & changed their name to VIGILANTE, in which Rob Trevino replaced Larry Barragan. A 6-song demo was recorded in 1991, but nothing much happened after that. It beats me why no label was interested at the time, as all songs are well worth investigating & along the lines of HELSTARís classic previous material. As a matter of fact, a couple of the songs eventually ended up (as reworked & improved versions) on the first DESTINYíS END CD. Please forget about the 1995 Multiples Of Black comeback album; this collection of demo songs more likely is the real successor to Nosferatu. This release is also available on CD (of course), but this vinyl edition is limited to 500 numbered copies & includes the same cover design, as well as a lyric sheet. www.ironglory.de.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

IKKI CRANE / Dead Again (LP/Doomed Planet/2002)
This one came out of the blue. Literally, as it has a very blue cover, as well as a blue lyric sheet. And the first 100 copies came in blue marbled vinyl as well! The remaining 400 (like mine) are on black vinyl. All are handnumbered of course! This quartet hails from Santa Clara, California and have been around since the late 1980ís. Another possibility is that they have been inactive for a while in the 1990ís, only to be resurrected early in the new millennium. Either way, guitarist/vocalist Kent Robertson used to be in cult band RELLIK in the mid 1980ís. The stuff on this release originates from three different sessions, and the most recent one is up first. Which I wouldíve done otherwise myself, and thus Iíll review this in a chronological manner. Tracks 8 and 9 date back to the late 1980ís and display a variable kind of powerful, mid-paced heavy metal. Never Surrender has a definite N.W.O.B.H.M. feel to it as well, as it is a bit more straightforward. Tracks 4 - 7 were recorded in the early 1990ís. Musically itís pretty much along the same lines as their previous stuff : melodic solos, variable, 1980ís influenced, mid-paced most of the time. The Last Dance is the longest and most variable tune, with the lyrics being about someone on death row, waiting to be executed. Kentís vocals are rather distinctive and the band comes across as being a white metal band at times (In God We Trust, Ďthanks to our God and SaviorĒ in the thankslist, ...). Not that I mind ... The opening three songs were written in the mid 1990ís, but not recorded until 2001-2002. These come across as a bit more Ďmoderní sounding, which Iím not really too fond of myself. Like the definite late-period METALLICA vocal style on This Old Man. Personally I prefer tracks 4 - 9, for they are pretty unique. In the mean time Iron Glory has released this on CD as well, but without any bonus tracks. As far as Iím aware the band is currently busy writing new songs. Doomed Planet Records / 110 Spetti Drive / Fremont / California 94536 / U.S.A. doomedplanet@yahoo.com. www.concentric.net/~4stringr/ikkicrane.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

IRONBOSS / Motorcycle Man/Thinkiní Problem (7Ē/Underdogma/2000)
I bought this 7Ē when I was in Fredericksburg, Virginia (home of Underdogma Records) last year. I had noticed the bandname before in various publications, but never really paid attention. The one thing that attracted me was Motorcycle Man. Indeed, a cover version of SAXONís alltime classic, recorded in Spring 2000. Needless to say this IRONBOSS version doesnít even come close to the original idea. After all, IRONBOSS are Baltimore, Marylandís self-proclaimed Rock ĎNí Roll Outlaws, and I guess that Thinkiní Problem, recorded in Winter 1996 already, is a prime example of their style. Itís just heavy Rock ĎNí Roll; a bit repetitive, nothing special & not my style. Iíd say this release will only be of interest to fans of IRONBOSS & SAXON, and maybe completists of the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement. Like me. www.underdogma.com or www.ironboss.com UNDERDOGMA RECORDS / P.O. Box 5070 / Fredericksburg / Virginia 22403 / U.S.A. or IRONBOSS / P.O. Box 39207 / Baltimore / Maryland 21212 / U.S.A.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

IRON CROSS / Iron Cross (2LP/O.P.M./2000)
This version of IRON CROSS is the Florida-based one. They started out in 1979 already & released their one and only claim to fame, the Iron Cross LP, in 1986. A couple of cassette EPís followed, before they fell apart in the early 1990ís. Only to be resurrected in the late 90ís. This 2LP is a collection of 20 demo songs, recorded during three different periods of time : in 1986/88 (12tx), 1990/91 (4tx) & 1999 (4tx). The striking red cover, including a skullhead & an iron cross, gets your attention immediately, but the beautiful inside gatefold cover includes plenty of colour pictures too; very cool indeed. A reproduction of an old flyer & a sticker are included as well. And itís limited to 666 hand-numbered copies! As for the music, donít expect crystal clear production, as all of these songs are just demos, and date back quite a while. Itís still very much okay as far as Iím concerned, and the music just has to be heard. It beats me why IRON CROSS never got the break they deserved, as the potentional was definitely there. Due to the original (1986) vinyl release being limited to just 1000 copies, not too many people are aware of IRON CROSS, even to this day. Their material is in the finest 80ís U.S. metal tradition, with plenty of variety & power, great guitars & different vocal approaches, as all four members were able to contribute lead vocals. Bands that come to mind, just to give you an idea, are early SAVATAGE, ALICE COOPER, BLACK SABBATH, ANGEL WITCH and a whole bunch of 80ís powerful heavy metal bands. My personal faves include Bloodlust, Demons, Die Like That, S&M Medley, Demonís Disciple, Halloween, True Barbarians, Ö I could go on. Very few weak songs, if any Ö Also included is an ANGEL WITCH (Angel Of Death) cover, which they also perform live. Iron Glory Records also released an IRON CROSS CD in 2001, featuring a selection of 13 of these songs. The band is currently working on a new CD, set for release later in the year. For more info, check out one of these connections : kromealter@aol.com or www.opmrecords.com or www.ironcrossonline.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

JACK STARR / Before The Steele : Roots Of A Metal Master (LP/Bad Posture/2001)
Just like the title suggests, this is a collection of 11 songs recorded by Jack Starr during his pre-VIRGIN STEELE years, 1975-1980. Most of them were recorded on a Teac 4-track recorder, with Gary Saint Hillaire on second guitar. Two songs however were recorded at Master Sound in Queens, with Bonnie Parker on bass. And another one (Wind And The Rain) features Bobby Rondinelli on drums, and was recorded in Lindenhurst. Another guest appearance is included on Show Up, the vocals of which are by HEAVENís Denis Feldman. Overall, the songs on offer here have nothing much in common with what weíre used to as far as Jackís later career goes; itís more of a heavy Rock Ďní Roll kind of genre. Living proof is the fact that three of the songs include Rock ĎN Roll in the title. For the fans of VIRGIN STEELE thereís embryonic versions of Pictures On You & Drive On Thru, both of which would later end up on VIRGIN STEELEís debut. And to top things off thereís Love Is Hard, which was Jackís first collaboration with a young David DeFeis; a song that did not make it onto any of the VIRGIN STEELE albums. Too bad, as it wouldnít have been out of place on any of their early releases! Of course the guitarsound is excellent, despite a variable sound quality, and the songs arenít too bad, but do keep in mind that this is in fact Jack Starr prior to VIRGIN STEELE, and quite a bit different in approach. As with all Bad Posture releases, this one is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, the first 100 of which are on white vinyl. Thereís no insert, thus no lyrics, but the cool backcover, including plenty of rare, vintage pictures, makes up for that. For more details, write to : Bad Posture Records / P.O. Box 92 / Middle Island / New York 11953 / U.S.A. I wonder what Bad Postureís next release will be?
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

JAG PANZER / Thane To The Throne (LP/Century Media/2000)
This is a (limited?) vinyl edition of Coloradoís JAG PANZERís concept release from 2000. For those unaware, itís all based on Shakespeareís MacBeth story. Musically, itís your typical JAG PANZER stuff : melodic power metal, highlighted by the Tyrantís vocals. This issue includes an inner sleeve with lyrics & info, but no band pictures. And unfortunately the final two tracks (The Downward Fall & Tragedy Of MacBeth) from the original CD version are not included here, due to time restrictions. For vinyl collectors & JAG PANZER fans only? www.jagpanzer.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

JAG PANZER / Thane To The Throne (Picture Disc LP/Century Media/2000)
Hereís another limited issue of above-reviewed release. Basically, itís the same as the vinyl LP version, meaning that the final two songs are missing here as well, but on this picture disc edition there are no lyrics, nor pictures. For completists only? www.centurymedia.de.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

JAG PANZER / Mechanized Warfare (Picture Disc LP/Century Media/2001)
Once again there are no lyrics, nor pictures included here. It does however include the same cover design as the CD issue, by Travis Smith. Mechanized Warfare was produced by Jim Morris, mixed and mastered at Morrisound of course, but recorded at three different studios, in Arizona, Florida & Colorado. Once again, itís your typical, epic & melodic JAG PANZER power metal, but due to the fact that this is not a concept release, I tend to like it more than its predecessor. Just check out Take To The Sky, Unworthy, Power Surge, The Scarlet Letter, Frozen In Fear Ö Great songs, musicianship & vocals all over. The final song from the CD version (All Things Renewed) is missing here, once again due to time restrictions. But a great release nevertheless! www.centurymedia.de or www.jagpanzer.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

JOE HASSELVANDER / Road Kill (LP/Bad Posture/2000)
This is limited to 555 hand-numbered copies and includes an inner with lots of cool b/w pictures, but no lyrics. Road Kill is a selection of previously unreleased demos from 1986 (6 + 2 tracks) and one song from 1989, when Joe was drumming in a band called CENTERFOLD. All Ďdusted off & cleaned up for our listening pleasureí, as Joe mentioned in the liner notes. Two songs feature Victor Griffin (of PENTAGRAM fame) on guitars, bass & vocals. The other six are all entirely courtesy of Joe, except for the lead guitars, which are courtesy of Jay Smith. And for those unaware, the material on display here does not compare at all to Joeís later stuff with PENTAGRAM & RAVEN. These recordings are more hard rock than metal, mid-paced most of the time. And slightly commercial as well, to a certain degree. The songs Victor Griffin participated on are a bit heavier than the rest, and I like his vocals a bit better too, for they are a bit more aggressive. The songtitles & lyrics arenít too original, but the music ainít too bad after all. Representative of that era in time, I guess. Except for CENTERFOLDís Bitch, which is very clichť and commercial, best compared to very early M÷TLEY CR‹E. The songs I enjoy most are Rotten To The Core, Back Door Sinner & Chased By Your Demons. For further info on what Joe is up to these days, check out www.ravenlunatics.com or www.blackwidow.it.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

LORDIAN GUARD / Behold A Pale Horse (Picture Disc 12"/Hellion/1996)
Well, here it is, the appetizer for LORDIAN GUARDís soon to be released second full-length CD, Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God. A limited (500 copies) picture disc 12Ē, featuring one brand new song and one revamped familiar tune. Behold A Pale Horse is totally along the same lines as the material already displayed on their debut; very epic, medieval, great melodies, lots of changes, heavy, ... This song will also be featured on the upcoming CD, but that will be a slightly different version. Concerning B-side Deliver Us From Evil, what can I say? Once a classic, always a classic! The only way to equal or better a classic such as this, is to do it yourself ... and thatís just what William & LORDIAN GUARD did. Sheer brilliance all the way! This sure to become collectorís item is available from Hellion Records, obviously. A couple of black vinyl test press copies are available as well, but hurry!
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 1, released in 02/1997)

LUST / Weíll Never Die (LP/Cult Metal Classics/2002)
The original vinyl issue of this collector item was released back in 1988 on Leslie Records, limited to 500 copies. Just like this re-issue, but my copy is not handnumbered as it was supposed to be! Strange? Anyway, LUST was a band from France that started out in 1981 as LAZY, then changed their name to DUST, before eventually deciding on LUST in May 1985. Three demos were released prior to Weíll Never Die (12/1985, 03/1987 and 12/1987). The album itself was recorded in April 1988 at Leslie Studio in Reims, France. This re-issue includes an insert with all lyrics, as well as two bonus tracks : the short instrumental Silver Wings and final tune The End. LUST have previously been labelled as an epic, majestic heavy metal band, and thatís true to a certain extent, as theyíre clearly influenced by the likes of MANOWAR, IRON MAIDEN, CRUSH, ... Thereís a good variety, ranging from slow over mid-paced to up-tempo, all pretty melodic most of the time. The Ultimate Fight is clearly influenced by MANOWAR, but itís nowhere near as good as their idols. The big downer for me is the vocalist : itís just that his terrible accent shines through on numerous occasions, most noticeably on Hatred, which is a short spoken word intro to the titletrack. Overall, the music ainít all that bad, as itís a mixture of epic and N.W.O.B.H.M., but the vocals kind of ruin things for me. I really donít understand what all the fuzz was about to begin with, as there were plenty way better bands around at the same time. www.cultmetalclassics.com. Cult Metal Classics Records / Akadimias 96 / 106 77 Athens / Greece.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

MANILLA ROAD / Crystal Logic (Picture Disc LP/Iron Glory/2000)
This is a picture disc edition of the remastered CD version that appeared on Iron Glory in 2000 as well. Just like that release, this picture disc also includes bonus track Flaming Metal System, which was originally released on Shrapnelís U.S. Metal III compilation LP in 1983 only. This picture disc issue includes no lyrics, nor pictures, but it has the same cover design as the CD release. Which is basically the same as the original vinyl artwork, courtesy of John Jinks. Crystal Logic was originally released in 1983, featuring the Mark Shelton-Scott Park-Rick Fisher line-up. All songs on here were remastered by Steve Falke in 1999. MANILLA ROAD are considered to be the gods of epic metal. Markís vocals may be regarded as a love-hate thing by some; I for one love íem. They tie in perfectly with the epic lyrics & the medieval music. Crystal Logic is one of the bandís best ever releases, including such classics as Necropolis, The Veils Of Negative Existence, The Ram, The Riddle Master, the titletrack (including definite references to ANGEL WITCHís Angel Of Death) and the epic, 10í+ Dreams Of Eschaton. Flaming Metal System fits in well too, which comes as no surprise, as it was recorded during the same sessions, or at least around the same period of time. The only weaker link is Feeling Free Again, which is way more commercial than all the rest. But donít let that one song put you off from purchasing this timeless classic!!! www.ironglory.de.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

MANILLA ROAD / The Deluge (Picture Disc LP/Heavy Metal Heroes/2000)
Another MANILLA ROAD picture disc here, this time of the remastered CD version that also appeared on Heavy Metal Heroes, a subsidiary of Underground Symphony. Once again, it includes no pictures, nor lyrics, but it does include a bonus live track, Dementia, taken from the original Roadkill Live release. And once more all of these songs were digitally remastered by Steve Falke, at Cornerstone Studios in Wichita, Kansas. This is a limited edition of 500 copies. They used the original cover artwork by the late Eric Larnoy, to whom this re-issue is dedicated as well. The Deluge was released in 1986, with the classic line-up featuring Mark Shelton, Randy Foxe & Scott Park. It includes a bunch of short tunes, including crowd favourites Hammer Of The Witches, Divine Victim & Isle Of The Dead. The ones that I value the highest are in fact the longer tunes : Shadows In The Black, Friction In Mass & the epic The Deluge. I wouldnít rate The Deluge as high as Crystal Logic or Open The Gates, but still itís well within my top 4 or 5 MANILLA ROAD releases. A release that should be found in every self-respecting heavy metal collection. If you donít have it yet, act accordingly! www.undergroundsymphony.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

MANILLA ROAD / Atlantis Rising (2LP/Iron Glory/2001)
I reviewed MANILLA ROADís comeback album in the CD reviews section already, but Iíd like you to know thereís also this beautiful gatefold release, including all lyrics, info & illustrations also to be found in the regular CD release. This is a limited release on white vinyl. Obviously Michael Bšhreís artwork comes across way better here. Letís say this is of high value to avid vinyl collectors & MANILLA ROAD freaks alike! www.ironglory.de or www.truemetal.org/manillaroad.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

MANILLA ROAD / Atlantis Rising (Picture Disc LP/Iron Glory/2001)
And hereís yet another issue of Atlantis Rising. Obviously, this one does not include the lyrics. And the last song from the regular CD & 2LP release (War Of The Gods) is missing here, due to time restrictions. Nevertheless, very cool to have & well worth purchasing, as itís very limited. www.ironglory.de.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

MERCY / Victory March (LP/Stormbringer Productions/2002)
Swedenís MERCY originated out of the ashes of TURBO in December 1980. They went through various line-up changes over the years, with the only ever-present member being guitarist Andrija Veljaca. The various line-ups consisted of either three, four or five members. Of course one of the vocalists that was part of MERCY was Eddie ĎMessiah Marcoliní Markulin, of later CANDLEMASS fame. He recorded both the Mercy (1984) and Witchburner (1985) albums with MERCY. Before that, the band had already released their Swedish Metal debut EP in 1982. And in 1988 another album, King Doom, was released. The line-up that recorded this collection of previously unreleased songs in late 1987, early 1988 was a quartet, including Anders Strengberg on vocals. Well, an earlier version of Bangers Of Destruction did surface on Witchburner already ... This cool black, white & red covered release comes as a gatefold and is limited to 500 handnumbered copies. All lyrics (except the ones for Proud Master) and plenty of pictures are reprinted on the inside cover. For those that are already familiar with some of MERCYís other material this may come as a surprise, but not all of the material on offer here is in the doom metal vein. Sure, there are some doomy tunes (Battle Hymn, Black Death) but also quite a few mid-paced to up-tempo songs. Always very powerful and heavy, and including long instrumental passages on several occasions. Sometimes thereís a certain N.W.O.B.H.M. influence as well (Rage Out Of Control, parts of Black Death), while Bangers Of Destruction is a real up-tempo metal anthem. Iím especially fond of the vocals as well. All in all itís a versatile and convincing collection of songs, and it beats me why they were not able to release them at the time. Way to go Stormbringer! Stormbringer Productions / Linnťgatan 24 / 380 62 MŲrbylanga / Sweden. www.stormbringer.eu.org.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

METAL INQUISITOR / RITUAL STEEL - Before The Apocalypse (7"/Dream Evil/2003)
First of all : I received the music of this release on a CD-r, so I don't know what the actual release looks like (yet). All that I know is that it's limited to 333 handnumbered copies on blood red vinyl. And it's available for U.S. $ or Äuro 5.00 worldwide, including postage. Both German bands have recorded exclusive songs for this release. I've been fond of METAL INQUISITOR ever since I first heard their The Apparition debut CD/LP, and it's no different when it comes to both of their songs on offer here. Guinea Pig is a new original song in the N.W.O.B.H.M. vein. And then there's a super cool rendition of SWEET SAVAGE's N.W.O.B.H.M. classic Eye Of The Storm. Can't go wrong in my book with this one, even moreso because it's performed in a really excellent way. RITUAL STEEL is another German quintet and of course I was already familiar with their Liquid Steel 7" and A Hell Of A Knight CD/LP as well. Once again, they recorded a previously unreleased tune for this release, preceded by Introduction, a 55" spoken intro. Voice Of The Young is a rather slow heavy metal tune, also along the lines of the late N.W.O.B.H.M. at times, including cool guitars. The vocals have improved as well, although I'd say that the title is repeated way too many times. All in all a cool 7" that is bound to become a real collector's item. And of interest to people that are already familiar with both bands, as well as those that want to have a first taste of what the new wave of German traditional heavy metal bands have to offer.
http://dreamevil.batcave.net
www.metal-inquisitor.de
www.metalprovider.com/ritualsteel
(CD-r promo copy kindly supplied by Dream Evil / Italy)

METAL MERCY / Liferide (Picture Disc 7Ē/Stormbringer Productions/2002)
This Swedish quartet released a 4-song EP called The Unborn Child in 1989, which was limited to 600 copies, and thus has become a collectorís item by now. The band formed in 1986 already, and their first sign of life was a demo, recorded in 1987. And three of those songs ended up on this limited (400 copies) picture disc release. The beautiful front cover is courtesy of guitarist Nicklas Arvidsson, and thereís a b/w bandpicture on the back as well. But no insert, nor lyricsheet. Liferide is a basic, mid-paced heavy rock song. Between Life & Death is way more interesting, and more diverse, to say the least. Two Time Loser, despite its title, is the longest and most versatile song on here. And the doomiest one too. I guess that you could say that METAL MERCY were in the same vein as their fellow countrymen DESTINY; not really a major league band, but still way above average. Thereís a possibility that Stormbringer Productions will release METAL MERCYís very last recording (before changing their name to ANONA) as well. Stormbringer Productions / Linnťgatan 24 / 380 62 MŲrbylanga / Sweden. www.stormbringer.eu.org.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

METALUCIFER / Warriors Again/Soul Of Warriors (7Ē/Iron Pegasus/2000)
Japanís METALUCIFER have been around since 1985, and have released 2 CDís prior to this, Heavy Metal Hunter & Heavy Metal Drill, both in 1996. These two exclusive tracks featured here were recorded in 1998 already, but not released until 2000. The core of Ge(nie)zolucifer (bass/vocals), Elizaveat (guitars) & Elizabigore (guitars) was helped out by ex MASSACRE/DEATH drummer Bill Andrews on these recordings. Their style is still to be categorized as traditional heavy metal with N.W.O.B.H.M. influences; nothing too innovative, but very much heavy metal! This is a limited edition of 500 hand-numbered copies, but thereís also a picture disc version available, limited to a mere 333 copies. Happy hunting!! www.truemetal.org/metalucifer.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

METALUCIFER / Warriors Ride On The Chariots (12Ē/Iron Pegasus/2001)
This 12Ē is a taster for the upcoming Heavy Metal Chainsaw CD/LP. Warriors Ride On The Chariots is a track from that release, an epic, traditional metal tune. Heavy Metal Revolution is included on the CD version of Heavy Metal Chainsaw, but not on the vinyl edition (reviewed below). Final song, Dracula, is exclusive to this release only. Once again, this release is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies & it comes in a cool b/w cover, featuring Ďcover modelí Neil Tanaka once again. www.ironpegasus.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

METALUCIFER / Heavy Metal Chainsaw (LP/Iron Pegasus/2001)
And this is the long-awaited third full-length CD by Japanís truest metal export product. Their nowadays line-up includes familiar faces Geniezoluzifer, Elizaveat & Elizabigore + new additions Elizablumi (guitars) & Tormentharou (drums). This vinyl issue is limited to 1000 copies, includes a lyric sheet and has the same cover design as the CD version. The member pictures are different though, and musically thereís one exclusive track thatís not on the CD version, My Way Is Heavy Metal. Then again, Heavy Metal Revolution (which is on the CD issue & 12Ē) is not included here. And the running order has been twisted around a bit too. Confusing? And for the die-hard fanatics : thereís also a picture disc version of this around, limited to a mere 100 copies! Anyhow, most of these songs were written/composed in 1998-1999 and recorded in 2000-2001. As always, the lyrical content deals with such topics as heavy metal & warriors. Nothing too innovating Ö rather clichť. And musically itís along the lines of their previous outputs; basic, traditional 80ís heavy metal with plenty of N.W.O.B.H.M. influences. I especially discovered a lot of early IRON MAIDEN influences, as far as the instrumental side of things is concerned, while the vocals are basic & rudimentary. Not to mention, thereís a healthy dose of melody and melodic solos as well. METALUCIFER are not very original at all, and they could do with a bit more variety as well, but they are indeed very metal! And they are true to their roots; thatís why I like these guys so much. www.ironpegasus.com. www.truemetal.org/metalucifer.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

MINOTAURI / Pain Of Life/Violence (7Ē/Iron Bonehead Productions/2000)
These are the first songs I got to hear from Finlandís MINOTAURI, a trio that includes guitarist/vocalist Ari Honkonen from MORNINGSTAR. Besides, these songs were recorded at the same studio as the latest MORNINGSTAR CD and engineered by the same guy. But thatís about where all possible comparisons end. MINOTAURI is more of a doom-influenced band, and actually I like them better than most of MORNINGSTARís material. Pain Of Life is a classic, mid-tempo real doom tune. Violence is a bit more up-tempo & variable, but still in the classic doom vein. Always including a certain degree of melody and, more importantly, clean vocals. I know itís dangerous to judge a band on the evidence of just two songs, but Iím quite fond of this 7Ē, which includes a lyric sheet & is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies on black vinyl. For more info, write to : IRON BONEHEAD PRODUCTIONS / Blankenbachring 13 / 36148 Kalbach / GERMANY or MINOTAURI / Ari Honkonen / Puistokatu 11 A 15 / 44150 ńšnekoski / FINLAND. Or try : powerviking@hotmail.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

MINOTAURI / Doom Metal Invasion (10Ē/Iron Bonehead Productions/2002)
I guess that this Finnish bandís style is accurately summarized by the first two words of this release. Doom metal, and nothing else. MINOTAURI is a side-project of MORNINGSTARís vocalist/guitarist Ari Honkonen. They have been around since 1995 and released several rehearsal and live demo tapes up until 2000, when they issued their first proper 5-song demo (Devil Woman), as well as a 7Ē (Pain Of Life/Violence - reviewed in DEN OF INIQUITY # 3) on Iron Bonehead Records. Doom Metal Invasion consists of four new songs and was recorded in the summer of 2001 already, but not released until the spring of 2002. MINOTAURI have often been referred to as being Finlandís DEATH ROW or PENTAGRAM, and thereís a healthy dose of truth in that comparison. Other obvious influences include the likes of early WITCHFINDER GENERAL, SAINT VITUS and CANDLEMASS, but also less obvious ones, such as PAGAN ALTAR and their fellow countrymen SARCOFAGUS. If youíre into any of the above mentioned bands, chances are that youíll heavily enjoy MINOTAURI as well. Classic mid-paced pure doom metal is what you get, including clean vocals and a reasonable amount of melody. Like I mentioned before, Iím quite fond of this Finnish trio. This 10Ē comes in a limited edition of 500 handnumbered copies. The cool b/w front cover design is courtesy of Ari Honkonen. Thereís also a cool colour bandpicture on the back, but no sign of the lyrics. MINOTAURI has also re-recorded My Way, which originally surfaced on the 2000 demo already, for the upcoming The Mountains Of Madness II compilation CD on The Miskatonic Foundation. I hope that that one gets released soon, as Iím longing for another dose of MINOTAURI! Iron Bonehead Productions / P.O. Box 1113 / 36146 Kalbach / Germany. www.metalprovider.com/minotauri.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

NEMESIS / Lost Humanity (LP/C.M.C./2001)
C.M.C. stands for Cult Metal Classics Records and are fairly new, as this is only their third release. C.M.C. specializes in officially re-releasing old classics on both vinyl and/or CD. Anyway, NEMESIS were a band from the North of Greece that released two demos, one in 1991 (Against The Past), another in 1995 (Neverending Story). This limited (500 hand-numbered copies) edition on vinyl only includes both of those demos (2 x 5 songs, almost 60í), digitally remastered in September 2000 by bassist/vocalist Tasos Karapapazoglou. It includes an insert that contains all lyrics & some b/w pictures. And they used a cool, very old painting for the cover. NEMESIS was a powerful heavy metal act, rather than a power metal band, their trademarks being a technically skilled guitar sound & a high pitched vocalist. Thereís also a couple of calmer, acoustic even, songs on offer, but the majority is ranging from mid-paced to fast, with plenty of versatility & melody, and even a slight N.W.O.B.H.M. influence at times. In general, the songs from the Neverending Story side are considerable longer. My faves include Lost Humanity, Search For Immortality & Against The Past on side A, the outstanding instrumental Nemesisí Wrath, Neverending Story & Walls Between The Nations on the other side. Most definitely not the best (Greek) band ever, but these songs deserve to be heard, as most of them are way above average. C.M.C. Records / Akadimias 96 / 106 77 / Athens / Greece. www.cultmetalclassics.com or valliant@hellasnet.gr.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

NIGHTWISH / The Golden Wishes (Picture Disc 4LP Box/Vinyl Collectors/2000)
This is a very nice box set from Finlandís finest metal export product. It includes the bandís first 3 albums on picture disc (including the original cover on the front & a band picture on the back) + another one, featuring special tracks. Those include a Japanese bonus track (Nightquest), a heavy version of Sleepwalker and an edited version of Walking In The Air. Plus 3 single versions from songs from the first two releases. Also included is the cover as a poster and a turntable placemat. Vinyl Collectors is a subsidiary of Hammerheart Records, and they did a great job, as The Golden Wishes is of interest for all those that already enjoyed Angels Fall First, Oceanborn & Wishmaster. Count me in! www.hammerheart.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

OCTOBER 31 / Meet Thy Maker (LP/Metal Supremacy/2000)
The original CD versions of this release were on R.I.P. (U.S.A.) & Metal Blade (Europe) in 1999. This vinyl issue is limited to 1000 copies on lila vinyl. It has the same cover design & running order, and includes an insert with all lyrics, pictures & info. And besides, thereís a bonus track : When Darkness Covers The Sun, which is an old demo track that was re-recorded during these Meet Your Maker sessions. OCTOBER 31 has been through a couple of vocalists in recent years, as far as live performances goes, but King Fowley has always been delivering the goods for the studio releases. And rightfully so, as his vocals are one of the trademarks of the band, alongside guitarist Brian Williamsí expressive guitar leads. As usual, most of the songs are mid to up-tempo, combining both power & melody. And thereís plenty of room for calmer parts as well, adding to the diversity. And a cover version of SAXONís classic Power And The Glory is included here as well, performed in an excellent way. OCTOBER 31 is in the powerful, traditional heavy metal vein, and not an ordinary power metal outfit. Meet Thy Maker was recorded in early 1999 already, engineered by Mike Bossier at his Oblivion Studios. Earlier this year (new) vocalist Tony Taylor left the band and they lost their European deal with Metal Blade as well, so Iím wondering when a follow-up will see the light of day? www.truemetal.org/october31.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

OCTOBER 31 / Salemís Curse/Electric Eye (7Ē/Maniacal/2002)
This is the very first release by Virginiaís Maniacal Records. Itís limited to 330 handnumbered copies and comes on pink vinyl, although it was planned to be red. The b/w cover is strange but beautiful, and thereís a cool b/w picture on the back as well, but no insert. Both songs on offer here were recorded in 2001, at Oblivion Studios. First of all thereís a rendition of Salemís Curse, which originally appeared on the bandís debut from 1997, The Fire Awaits You. This version of course features Tony Taylor on vocals, and itís a real improvement over the initial version. On the other side thereís a cover version of JUDAS PRIESTís classic Electric Eye. Very much along the lines of the original; needless to say itís killer! Maniacal Records / c/o Mike Pritchard / P.O. Box 226 / Merrifield / Virginia 22116-0226 / U.S.A. maniacalrecords@aol.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

OVERDRIVE / Overdrive/20th Century (Picture Disc 7Ē/Stormbringer Productions/2000)
These two songs were the first ever OVERDRIVE recorded, back in December 1980 at Studio Blekinge, Sweden. Both songs have a definite N.W.O.B.H.M. sound to them or, more to the point, a mixture of the N.W.O.B.H.M. & what later would become that typical OVERDRIVE sound. Needless to say the band delivered an excellent performance, with a special mention to guitarist Janne Stark. Actually, these recordings almost led to a deal with Virgin Records. That never happened, but OVERDRIVE did carry on & released 2 songs on a compilation LP, an EP & 2 full albums. For all details, check out the interview I did with Janne in D.O.I. # 1. This limited picture disc release includes plenty of info & pictures as well. A live CD (Mission Of Destruction - Live) has been released now as well, on Crookíd Records, including 8 songs (2 of which were never released on any of their studio releases) recorded at the Rockslagsfestivalen (1982) + 1 song from their Ďlastí show in 1985 + all 5 songs from their one-off reunion gig in 1997 + 2 studio songs that originally appeared on the Rockslaget compilation LP (1982) & were recorded during the Reflexions EP sessions. Both this 7Ē & the live CD are well worth purchasing, for OVERDRIVE = timeless heavy metal!!! www.algonet.se/~stark.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

PARAGON / Steelbound (Picture Disc LP/Remedy/2001)
This is a limited (500 copies) picture disc edition of Hamburgís PARAGONís 2001 release. It has the same artwork as the CD issue but obviously the lyrics are not reprinted here. Tracks 5 & 6 are reversed here & Face II Face nor CD bonus track World Of Sin (obviously) are present here. Steelbound is full of high-quality power metal. Not your typical German stuff, but with a good vocalist for a change. As a matter of fact, PARAGON are one of the few German bands I really enjoy tremendously. Like I said, the vocals are powerful, versatile & great overall. As are the guitars. And the songs are well-structured & diverse as well, ranging from a semi-ballad over plenty of mid-paced tunes to a couple of fast songs. Bands that come to mind include RIOT (Thundersteel period), early ACCEPT, JUDAS PRIEST (Halford period), Ö There are really no weak songs on here, except for the balladesque Immortal perhaps. The ones I enjoy just a bit more than the others are New Dark Age, Thunderstorm, Donít Wake The Dead & Deathsquad. But all songs are well worth checking out. And while youíre at it, buy a copy of the CD as well, and youíll be able to enjoy another two songs. Check out the interview I did with these guys as well! Remedy Records / Holstenplatz 18 / 22765 Hamburg / Germany, remedy_records@compuserve.com or www.remedyrecords.de. www.paragon-legions.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

PARAGON / Law Of The Blade (Picture Disc LP/Remedy/2002)
This picture disc edition of the latest PARAGON release (CD version reviewed elsewhere) is said to be strictly limited to 250 copies. This is hard to control, as theyíre not numbered. Anyhow, it comes in a regular sleeve that has more or less the same front cover design as the original CD release, and a different, yet familiar back cover. Obviously the CD bonus track (To Hell And Back Again) is not included here, and there are no other bonus tracks either, but there is an insert with all the lyrics. By the way, there is also a regular vinyl LP of this release available, also said to be limited to 250 copies. As these releases are both excellent and limited, theyíre well worth investing your money in, if you can still find íem. Theyíre bound to become collectorís items soon, if not already! www.remedyrecords.de. Remedy Records / Holstenplatz 18 / 22765 Hamburg / Germany. www.paragon-legions.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

PAUL CHAIN/INTERNAL VOID / Full Moon Improvisation/Window To Hell (7Ē/Southern Lord/2000)
I never paid much attention to PAUL CHAINís releases, nor was I a fan of DEATH SS. Just like the title suggests, this is an instrumental improvisation piece (6í+), featuring guitars, bass & drums. Itís nothing too innovating, itís all been done before. I guess Iím not intellectual enough to understand this kind of stuff, but I donít have the feeling Iím missing out on something world-shocking. INTERNAL VOID on the other hand pleases me a lot more. Marylandís heavy bluesy rocking doomsters have released two quality CDís in the past, which I really enjoy. Anyone into the likes of PENTAGRAM, BLUE CHEER, THE OBSESSED, BLACK SABBATH, etc. should check these guys out. Window To Hell is an old demo song that didnít make it onto either of their CDís. This 7Ē is limited to 1000 copies and is also available on coloured vinyl, I believe. Well worth looking for for the B-side alone. www.southernlord.com. www.internal-void.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

RELLIK / Killer (LP/Doomed Planet/2001)
Well, this is a pleasant surprise. San Franciscoís RELLIK was one of the many 80ís bands that had the potential to achieve more than they did, but never really went anywhere, because they were in the right spot at the wrong time. RELLIK was a pure heavy/power metal band, including high-pitched vocals and excelling guitars, that had the misfortune of being around in the late 80ís, right in the middle of the Bay Area thrash explosion. Arising from the ashes of ROBYN DANGER in the early 80ís (around 1983), RELLIK finally managed to release their sole claim to fame (the Remember The Future 4-song EP) in 1986. This was a very limited release & that was perhaps another reason for never getting the break they deserved. Nowadays Remember The Future is a rare & very expensive collectorís item, so Iím glad all four songs are included here, as I only had them on tape up till now. Also on offer here are 4 songs recorded shortly after the release of Remember The Future (in 1986); by then the band had become a four-piece, as they got rid of their second guitarist. Overall, itís the same recipe : cool pure power metal, a bit more mature as far as the songwriting goes, but at the same time a bit slower as well. The final two songs date back to 1991. RELLIK anno 1991 had become a quintet again, but only vocalist Mike Moore & guitarist Kent Robertson remained from the early, original line-up. And itís only fair to say they were RELLIKís most important members, as the two of them wrote all music together, while Mike was responsible for all lyrics. These two songs are a bit more experimental and commercial, but still enjoyable. As a whole, this is a damn fine release, limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, including a lyric sheet. Too bad Doomed Planet has already sold íem all. I suggest you try your luck at the regular vinyl dealers instead, as itís well worth going through the trouble. Unfortunately the cover is in b/w; a full-colour design wouldíve done things more justice, bearing in mind all those cool live pictures featured on the back cover. Oh well, perhaps Iím too demanding. Itís the music that matters, and as far as thatís concerned RELLIK = killer!
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

RITUAL STEEL / Orchid Queen/Liquid Steel (7Ē/Metal Supremacy/2001)
I suppose this is Germanyís RITUAL STEELís first release. Then again, I could be wrong. Orchid Queen is a (too) short, mid-paced true heavy metal tune. Flipside Liquid Steel is a bit faster & more versatile, thus more convincing. Overall, RITUAL STEEL have a lot more in common with 80ís U.S. metal than the current new wave of German true happy metal. And thatís what I like here, it sets them apart from the masses. On the other hand, Iím not too fond of the vocals; the accent is just too obvious. If theyíre able to work on the vocals & continue to come up with quality songs as Liquid Steel in the future, Iím sure weíll hear a lot more from RITUAL STEEL. The b/w cover art (by T. Rensen) is really cool & a lyric sheet is included as well. This is a limited issue of 500 copies, 100 of which were on clear vinyl. For more info, go to : www.ancientarts.de (Metal Supremacy / Liethberg 28 / 25524 Itzehoe / Germany) or get in touch with drummer Martin Zellmer : zellmer.truemetal@worldonline.de (Lerchenweg 39 / 24787 Fockbeck / Germany).
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

SKULLVIEW / Consequences Of Failure (2LP/Iron Bonehead/2002)
This is a gatefold issue of SKULLVIEWís latest release. It includes all songs from the regular CD release (reviewed elsewhere) & a lyric insert as well. Too bad that insert is very hard to read (purple typing on a black background never really works!) & the same goes for the text on the inside cover. Besides, the cover looks like a bad copy of the original artwork & the inside pictures arenít too clear either. Not the best release as far as looks and layout goes, unless this was intended, but the music rules, and thatís the only thing that matters as far as Iím concerned! www.ironbonehead-prod.de or ironbonehead@surfeu.de.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

SLEEPY HOLLOW / A Legend Retold (EP/Old Metal/2000)
SLEEPY HOLLOW of course was the band that ex ATTACKER vocalist Bob Mitchell joined after his shortlived spell with NIGHTHUNTER. I remember receiving a copy of this demo (for promotional use only) through the bandís management, Ken Helmís Bizarre Entertainment, back in 1989. Bob wrote all lyrics for this release while, guitarist Steve Stegg was responsible for all music. The rhythm section was made up of bassist Steve Brink & drummer Tom Wassman. The entire recording was engineered & co-produced by Doug Conroy, together with the band, at Hobokenís Waterfront Studio. Musically, this is a long lost metal gem; the high-quality stuff on offer here just happened to be released at the wrong time, originally. Now, with the resurgence of true metal , Old Metal Records decided to release it properly, albeit as a limited vinyl-only release. It comes with a really beautiful cover, and the lyrics are reprinted on the back cover too. The material on display here isnít extremely fast, rather mid-paced most of the time, but very energetic and well-structured, including long instrumental passages. Always versatile & of course thereís an excellent vocal performance by Bob, in his usual high-pitched fashion. Clocking in at around 25 minutes, all 4 songs deserve to be heard and are by no means outdated. I for one cannot pick any faves, I like íem all! SLEEPY HOLLOW went on to release a selftitled CD on Iron Works, but that didnít quite reach the same (high) level. Maybe thatís because Steve Stegg was out of the band by then, and being replaced by two new guitarists. Who knows? Doesnít really matter anymore anyhow Ö Of course Bob Mitchell is still active these days, both in ALCHEMY X and VYNDYKATOR, and he still sounds great too! Latest news is that Greek label Unisound Records will release a SLEEPY HOLLOW CD compilation (1989-1992 : Rest In Pieces) in July 2002, containing tracks from both SLEEPY HOLLOW releases.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

SOLDIER - Murderous Night/I'm Taken In (7"/Killer Metal/2004)
SOLDIER are just one of those countless N.W.O.B.H.M. bands that enjoyed a short spell in the early 1980's, then disappeared into obscurity. In those days they managed to have one of their songs (Storm Of Steel) included on the first Heavy Metal Heroes compilation LP, while another two (Sheralee & Force) were released as a 7" on Heavy Metal Records. Soon after the band collapsed and nothing more was heard from SOLDIER ever since, apart from their three 'known' songs being re-issued on compilation CD's. A bootleg vinyl version of the official Live Forces tape saw the light of day as well. Reason enough for former members Garry Phillips (vocals), Ian Alan Dick (guitars), Steve Barlow (bass) and Ian Astrop (drums) to reunite 22 years after their inception. As such they released a 4-song mCD (Infantrycide) in 2003, on their own Starhaven Productions. In the meantime Ian seems to have left again already as session drummer Steve Hamper provided drums for this new 7", and a new permanent drummer has been found in Alex Smith. As a matter of fact, this single is a red vinyl limited edition (500 numbered copies), and it's the maiden release by German Killer Metal Records. And obviously the band is quite active once again, as these two songs are just a preview of their forthcoming Sins Of The Warrior album. Both of these new songs were recorded earlier this year at the band's own Starhaven Studios in Northampton. Musically, nothing much has changed compared to the band's early days, as both tunes are very much in the old-fashioned, traditional British heavy metal style. Murderous Night is twice as long as the flipside, and a bit slower too. In general, both songs seem to be slower, compared to the likes of Sheralee or Storm Of Steel anyhow. But the songwriting is still on par, Garry's voice is still okay and the solos are once again excellent. I'm Taken In is just slightly more up-tempo, has the same trademarks as side A, but is a bit on the short side. SOLDIER proves that not all reunions equal a radical change of style, and I'm glad that's the case. And if the entire Sins Of The Warrior CD will be along these lines, it will have been well worth the long wait! P.S. Also try and get hold of SOLDIER's Heavy Metal Force CD (released through Hellion Brasil), which includes their early 7", the Live Forces live tape, three early studio demo tracks and a 2003 demo version of I'm Taken In.
www.soldierstormtroopers.com
www.killermetalrecords.de
(CD-r promo copy kindly supplied by Garry Phillips / U.K.)

SOLEMNITY / Reign In Hell (Picture Disc LP/Remedy/2002)
Hereís a limited, handnumbered picture disc issue of SOLEMNITYís great debut, the CD version of which I reviewed elsewhere. This version has the same, excellent cover design by Ken Kelly, but there are no lyrics, nor any other extra treats here. No bonus tracks either. As a matter of fact, I was glad to find out that the CD bonus track is not on offer here. Which is only natural, I suppose. After all, Vladi was my one and only point of criticism while reviewing the CD. So in a way this picture disc version is even better than the CD! Just another cool item to recruit for your collection, as most people will already have a copy of the CD version anyhow. www.remedyrecords.de. Remedy Records / Holstenplatz 18 / 22765 Hamburg / Germany.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

SOLSTICE / Halcyon (Picture Disc LP/Invictus Productions/2001)
This 7-song picture disc has almost the same (cool) design as the digipack CD that was released simultaneously. And it includes the same songs & running order as well. Itís a flashback to SOLSTICEís early days (1990-1995) and includes the original Halcyon recordings (tracks 1 - 5) that were supposed to be released as a mCD/10Ē on Germanyís Stormstrike Records. That never happened. Then Italian label Godhead was supposed to release them on a mCD, which did happen, but due to them going bankrupt soon after the release, only very few copies ever saw the light of day. Black Tears did release a 10Ē edition in 1997 (limited to 500 copies). This version however includes two bonus tracks (Only The Strong & Winter Moon Rapture) as well, which are rescued mixes from the bandís 1994 Candlelight Records debut, Lamentations. All remixed in 2000 by Keith Appleton & SOLSTICE. Early SOLSTICE of course is high-quality melodic doom, in the vein of early SOLITUDE AETURNUS. Well worth purchasing, as I believe itís limited to just 300 copies. And also of interest for fans of MANOWAR, as it includes a cover version of Gloves Of Metal. Invictus Productions / P.O. Box 7171 / Dublin 6 / Ireland. Invictusproductions@hotmail.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

SOLSTICE / New Dark Age (2LP/Metal Supremacy/2001)
It seems to turn out that this will be SOLSTICEís swansong, as Albionís finest doom outfit disbanded in early April 2002. This vinyl issue of their 1998 CD (originally released on Misanthrophy Records) is limited to 500 copies on white vinyl. The inside gatefold cover includes all the lyrics, as well as plenty of b/w live pictures from the Wacken 2000 festival. And there are different (coloured) bandmember pictures on the back as well. As for the musical side of things, all songs from the initial CD release are included here, plus two bonus (cover) songs : IRON MAIDENís The Prophecy & Stormchild by N.W.O.B.H.M. legends TRESPASS, which they also performed live. Those two were recorded in the summer of 2000. And for those still unaware, SOLSTICE were in the finest melodic, classic doom metal vein, very epic & melancholic, and at times with references to folk as well. Some of their songs turned out to be rather long (well over 10í) but were nevertheless never boring, but very versatile in stead. But there are also a couple of short(er) instrumentals to enjoy. Looking back on it now, New Dark Age is SOLSTICEís sophomore effort; itís just too bad there wonít be a follow-up, but at least they called it quits with a bang! www.ancientarts.de.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

SOLSTICE/THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG / Gloves Of Metal/Fasttaker (Picture Disc 7Ē/Doomed Planet/2001)
This is a cool picture disc release, including b/w artwork (SOLSTICE-side by TWISTED TOWER DIRE/OCTOBER 31ís Scott Waldrop). Obviously this 7Ē includes two early MANOWAR tunes covered by two cult bands. SOLSTICEís take on Gloves Of Metal was already included on their Halcyon release (reviewed above). Itís close to the original version, and a job well done. THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEGís version of Fasttaker is a bit different in approach, a bit more aggressive, vocally especially. And the Canít Happen Here (RAINBOW) influence is more apparent here, as opposed to the original version. But still an interesting version. I doubt whether there are still copies of this available, but do try your luck by e-mailing Rob Preston : doomedplanet@yahoo.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

SPIRIT CARAVAN / So Mortal Be (7Ē/Tolotta/2002)
I suppose that this may well be the last sign of life from SPIRIT CARAVAN, since the band broke up last year, due to fundamental differences. Then again, who knows whatís still secured away in one or other studio vault? Wino has since joined forces with longtime friend Victor Griffin in PLACE OF SKULLS. I have no clue as to how limited this 7Ē actually is, but it comes on white vinyl. The front cover is very basic (white logo on black background), while the back cover includes three small b/w member pictures, as well as the lyrics. And I donít know when these two tunes were recorded either, but my guess would be sometime in early 2002. So Mortal Be is in the finest SPIRIT CARAVAN, SHINE and THE OBSESSED tradition : classic doom, including Winoís typical voice. Flipside Undone Mind is quite a bit different, as bassist Dave Sherman took care of the vocals on that one. It reminds me a bit of a cross between one of those slower ANVIL tunes and a typical THE OBSESSED song. Doom as well, but a bit different. www.tolotta.com. Tolotta Records / P.O. Box 4412 / Arlington / Virginia 22204 / U.S.A.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

SPIRITUAL BEGGARS/GRAND MAGUS / Itís Over/Twilight Train (7Ē/Southern Lord/2001)
Itís Over is probably a Ďleftoverí from the Ad Astra recording sessions (1999), as itís totally along the same lines of previous SPIRITUAL BEGGARS stuff. Groovy doom, heavy yet melodic & a bit spacy, kind of a style of their own. GRAND MAGUS are also from Sweden, and despite the fact that they have a full CD out as well, this is the only song I know by them. Itís an exclusive song too, culled from their Demo Two Thousand demo-CD. Itís not pure doom, rather on the borderline of doom & stoner rock, with some southern boogie influences (vocally) as well. It works out fine on this tune, but itís hard to judge a band on the evidence of just one song. www.spiritualbeggars.com & www.grandmagus.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

STONE VENGEANCE / Here Lies Stone Vengeance (LP/Doomed Planet/2002)
Based in San Francisco, STONE VENGEANCE is an all black metal trio that has been around since 1978! And it took them 20 years to release a first CD : 1998ís compilation To Kill Evil. Another CD followed in 2000 : The Angel. Both were released on their own. But, in the mid 1980ís, a couple of demos and rehearsals were recorded as well, and Here Lies Stone Vengeance is living proof of it. Side A includes four studio tracks from 1987, originating from a demo that was released on their own Lilac (tape) label at the time. Actually, five test press vinyl copies on Erika Records do exist, as the band was approached to have their material released on that label, but in the end things didnít work out. That demo was engineered by David Denny of THE STEVE MILLER BAND, would you believe it? The four tracks on side B are from the Wrath Cometh rehearsal demo (recorded November 19th 1985). Itís only fair to say that the quality of these four songs is barely acceptable; definitely not above 1980ís demo quality! Musically though, STONE VENGEANCE have plenty to offer, as theyíre rather unique. Michael Coffeyís vocals are extremely high-pitched at times, even reminding me of BLESSED DEATHís Larry Portelli on some occasions. Their style can only be described as original, pure heavy metal, with a few hints of thrash at times. Variable enough to never bore you, and even incorporating some jazzy parts here and there. Their anthem actually brings THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG to mind, but remember that all of these tunes were recorded way before even the earliest incarnation of that band existed! Plenty of unexpected twists and turns make this stuff a delight to listen to. Although all of these songs ended up on the To Kill Evil CD later on as well, itís quite obvious that these early versions are way heavier and more powerful. Anyway, this release is limited to 500 handnumbered copies, 250 of which were on marbled green vinyl. The entire cover design is in black and white, and includes plenty of pictures on the back. Thereís also an small insert with info, but no lyrics. The band is said to be still active today as well. www.stonevengeance.com. Doomed Planet Records / 110 Spetti Drive / Fremont / California 94536 / U.S.A. doomedplanet@yahoo.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

TAUNTED / The Masque Of The Red Death (7Ē/Doomed Planet/2002)
Little is known about Californian outfit TAUNTED. As a matter of fact, I had never heard of the band before. This 7Ē is limited to 500 handnumbered copies (of which 100 copies on white vinyl) and has very few info on the band. The cover design is rather basic as well : black logo on the front, songtitles, line-up and recording info on the back. But no insert, lyric sheet, picture, ... none of that. At least not in my copy ... Anyhow, both songs are culled from a demo that was recorded in September 1992, engineered and co-produced by Doug Caldwell, together with the band. And recorded at Sonic Images Studio. The Masque Of The Red Death is a fine, mid-paced traditional heavy metal song. Taunted is pretty much along the same lines, just a bit more versatile and progressive. I donít know if this band is still (or back) together, but I did find out that they released another 4-song demo in 1994. I have no clue as to how that one sounds like though. But if itís anywhere near as good as this one, Iíd suggest that Doomed Planet releases it as well soon, before it disappears into obscurity forever. Doomed Planet Records / 110 Spetti Drive / Fremont / California 94536 / U.S.A. doomedplanet@yahoo.com. Joey Genodi / 5304 Borneo Circle / San Jose / California 95123 / U.S.A. taunted@sbcglobal.net.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG / Down Among The Deadmen (LP/Doomed Planet/2001)
Down Among The Deadmen is the logic continuation of their selftitled debut (reviewed elsewhere) & Twilight Of The Idols. This vinyl issue is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies. There are no bonus tracks here, but to make up for that there are plenty of extra pictures on the back cover. A lyric sheet is included as well. The frontcover design is the same as the CD version (released by Dragonheart in 2000), although the logo was slightly altered. Doomed Planet tries to keep the spirit of 80ís heavy metal vinyl alive, and THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG fits in perfectly. Doomed Planet also released Down Among The Deadmenís predecessor Twilight Of The Idols on vinyl in 1998. For those still unaware of this original bandís style, some of the keywords are versatility, complexity, Celtic influences, melody, mid-paced to up-tempo, a standout voice, doomy at times, groovy, Ö And Iím glad that the songs have become a bit longer over the years as well. Very original stuff indeed, and still very much in the true heavy metal vein. These guys deserve to be heard by a larger audience! Check them out if youíre into refreshing, original and diverse heavy metal! For more info : doomedplanet@yahoo.com. DOOMED PLANET / 110 Spetti Drive / Fremont / California 94536 / U.S.A. or check out www.slough-feg.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG / The Lord Weird Slough Feg (2LP/Metal Supremacy/2002)
Once again, hereís another high quality release by Metal Supremacy. Of course itís limited to 500 copies, as usual. THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEGís debut (reviewed in DEN OF INIQUITY # 3) was initially released independently on CD in 1996 already. Earlier in 2002 The Miskatonic Foundation re-released it on CD (reviewed elsewhere), including no less than six bonus tracks. This double vinyl edition is basically the same as that re-issue, as it has the same cover design and liner notes, and includes a lyric sheet as well. It all comes in a beautiful gatefold edition, but there are no extra pictures. Martin Hanfordís cover design is really striking, and it beats the original cover hands down! All the more reason to treat yourself to a copy. www.ancientarts.de. Metal Supremacy / Liethberg 28 / 25524 Itzehoe / Germany. www.slough-feg.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

THUNDERSTORM / Sad Symphony (2LP/Metal Supremacy/2002)
And hereís another one! Once again a gatefold edition, but on red vinyl this time. And limited to the usual 500 copies. THUNDERSTORMís debut was first released on CD in 2000, on Northwind Records. This vinyl re-issue has the same front cover design and includes two bonus tracks : demo versions of Vision Of Death and Dark Prophecy, the name of which was later changed to The Prophecy. There is no insert but all lyrics are reprinted on the inside of the gatefold cover. No extra pictures though! For those not yet in the know, THUNDERSTORM produces material that is in the classic, pure doom metal mould, along the lines of BLACK SABBATH, TROUBLE, CANDLEMASS and SOLITUDE AETURNUS, but nevertheless with an identity of their own. For more info on THUNDERSTORM, be sure to check out the interview with vocalist/guitarist Fabio Thunder elsewhere, as well as the review of their second CD, Witchunter Tales! www.ancientarts.de. Metal Supremacy / Liethberg 28 / 25524 Itzehoe / Germany. www.thunderstorm-doom.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

TRAMONTANE / Tramontane (LP/Doomed Planet/2002)
Californiaís TRAMONTANE were a powerful heavy metal band that started out in 1986. And for those wondering, they took their name from an instrumental song that was included on FOREIGNERís Double Vision album. This 8-song release is actually a compilation, including songs from three different sessions. Songs 1-5 are from their second demo (1989), track 6 is from a 1993 demo, while tunes 7-8 date back to a tape from 1992. The overall quality level is well above average, and the same can be said about the music. Not that itís really world shocking, just solid and well-executed pure heavy metal, with some hints of power metal at times. Most of the time TRAMONTANEís material is mid-paced, with a certain melodic edge to it, especially during the plenty of cool solos. It beats me why these guys never went anywhere, as their material was definitely promising. Probably they were too melodic for the thrashers when they started out in the 1980ís, and most likely they were too heavy for the general 1990ís audience. All I know is that the likes of Eve Of Destruction, The Passage, Stalking Shadows, The Hunger and In Dreams I Walk With You (which somehow brings OCTOBER 31 to mind) still deserve to be heard today. Actually, both guitarists soldiered on with TRAMONTANE for several more years, even releasing a CD (December Dark) along the way, before calling it quits in 2000. As usual, this release is limited to 500 handnumbered copies, 100 of which were pressed on red vinyl. The front cover design is in full colour, while the back is a mixture of colour and b/w, including a couple of pictures and flyers. An insert with some of the lyrics (songs 1-5 only!) is included as well. Doomed Planet Records / 110 Spetti Drive / Fremont / California 94536 / U.S.A. doomedplanet@yahoo.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

TWISTED TOWER DIRE / The Curse Of Twisted Tower (2LP/Metal Supremacy/2000)
Some of you may remember I was raving quite a bit about TWISTED TOWER DIREís Triumphing True Metal demo in DEN OF INIQUITYís April í98 newsletter. This limited gatefold edition of 500 copies is a re-release from their same-titled debut CD on The Miskatonic Foundation (1999). It includes all original lyrics & some additional bandmember pictures. Musically, it also includes 5 (five!) bonus tracks; one original (When All Is Said And Done) & 4 covers. Those include Revelation (MANOWAR), Powerslave & Maiden Medley (IRON MAIDEN) and Forgotten In Space (VOIVOD). TWISTED TOWER DIREís own material of course is all in the majestic, epic, mid-paced, true heavy metal style. All songs but one last for well over 5 minutes, and are versatile throughout. The instrumental The Valkyrie Death Squadrons even clocks in at 10í17Ē, and is one of the absolute highlights on here, alongside Hail Dark Rider, The Witchís Eye, The Epic War Never Ends, Ö Unfortunately the production isnít the best, but the high-quality music makes up for that big time. And this was only their debut; follow-up The Isle Of Hydra is a change for the better once again , both as far as music & production is concerned.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

TWISTED TOWER DIRE / The Isle Of Hydra (2LP/Metal Supremacy/2001)
This is another limited (gatefold) edition of 500 copies. This time it includes a lyric sheet and plenty of cool, previously unreleased pictures inside. All songs from the regular CD release are included here, spread over sides A, B & C, in the same running order. But there are two bonus tracks as well : a rendition of an old demo song, Beyond The Gate, which was also included as a hidden bonus track on the Miskatonic Foundation CD release (reviewed elsewhere). And a cover version of MERCYFUL FATEís A Dangerous Meeting, which was included as a bonus track on the Hellion Records CD issue. So, for all you vinyl addicts out there, hereís a chance to have all songs on one release. The layout is really great, similar to the CD releases, but with a lot of extraís. Record 1 is on red vinyl, while the other is on blue. Cool! Metal Supremacy / Liethberg 28 / 25524 Itzehoe / Germany or www.ancientarts.de. Or check out the band at : www.ttd.cjb.net. And check out my TWISTED TOWER DIRE interview as well!
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

TWISTED TOWER DIRE / The Secret Demos (Picture Disc EP/Stormbringer Productions/2002)
I believe that it was Stormbringerís initial idea for this release to include the bandís 3-song demo from 2000 one one side, and another 3-song demo from 2002 on the other. Well, in the end it turned out to be only two songs from the former, plus two cover tunes. Thus side A includes raw demo tracks (recorded March 19th 2000) of When The Daylight Fades and Final Stand, both of which eventually ended up on The Isle Of Hydra as well. The B-side has covers of QUEENSRYCHE (Queen Of The Reich) and RUSH (The Temples Of Syrinx), both of which were professionally recorded at Killabrew Studios in April 2002. Once again this is a release limited to 500 handnumbered copies. A gatefold insert includes the lyrics to both of their original songs, as well as some liner notes by guitarist Scott Waldrop on one side, and no less than 44 flyers from previous TWISTED TOWER DIRE live gigs on the back. The coloured back of the disc includes live pictures of all five members, while the cool (b/w) front was once again supplied by Martin Hanford. Excellent allround release! Stormbringer Productions / Linnťgatan 24 / 380 62 MŲrbylanga / Sweden. www.stormbringer.eu.org. www.twisted-tower-dire.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

TWISTED TOWER DIRE / The Daggerís Blade (7Ē/Maniacal/2002)
Once again the cover artwork for this release is courtesy of Martin Hanford. At first glance youíd say that itís the exact same as on the above mentioned EP, but once you take a closer look youíll discover plenty of differences (facial expressions, clothes, ...). Killer cover anyhow! Anyway, this green vinyl 7Ē is limited to 500 handnumbered copies and has a cool b/w bandpicture on the back, but thereís no sign of an insert, or a lyric sheet. Most people will already be familiar with this version of The Daggerís Blade, as itís identical to the one that already surfaced on The Isle Of Hydra as well. Flipside False Orion is a different story, as itís an exclusive song, recorded early last year. Well along the lines of the material displayed on The Isle Of Hydra, but perhaps a bit more mid-paced and groovy. Excellent! Maniacal Records / c/o Mike Pritchard / P.O. Box 226 / Merrifield / Virginia 22116-0226 / U.S.A. maniacalrecords@aol.com. www.twisted-tower-dire.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

VEXED / HATEWORK - Split (7"/Dream Evil/2003)
Once again : I received the music of this release on a CD-r, so don't expect any details concerning the actual release. And once again it's limited to 333 handnumbered copies on blood red vinyl, and available for U.S. $ or Äuro 5.00 worldwide, including postage. Both of these bands hail from the same region in the north of Italy and are said to rate among Italy's best thrash metal bands these days. Actually, VEXED are labelled as a black/thrash metal outfit, so I'm glad that I don't really care for lyrics at all. Nuclear Babylon is a new studio tune in the vein of classic 1980's German thrash (DESTRUCTION, KREATOR, SODOM), a direction that I never really cared for myself. Those into above mentioned bands will have a ball. There is also a live version of Bringers Of Death, which sounds very messy and the vocals are hardly comprehensable. A song that I'll avoid from now on. HATEWORK on the other hand are kind of a different story. Their aggressive kind of thrash is a combination of late 1980's Bay Area and German 1980's thrash, a style that I can relate to. Both Bastard and Revenge are powerful and in-your-face, and both have been recorded exclusively for this release. A cool collectable release for thrashers into German sounding old-fashioned thrash.
http://dreamevil.batcave.net
www.vexed.3000.it
www.hatework.it
(CD-r promo copy kindly supplied by Dream Evil / Italy)

VORTEX / The Mill (10Ē/Stormbringer Productions/2000)
VORTEX were one of the first heavy metal bands to arise from Holland, having been formed in 1979 already. Their initial spell lasted until 1990, a timespan during which they managed to release 5 demos and 2 albums (1985ís Metal Bats & 1986ís Open The Gate) and were also featured on two compilations, Holland Heavy Metal Vol. 2 and Dutch Steel. They sort of resurrected in the late 90ís, releasing a compilation CD, The Dawning, in 1998 (on Top Hole Records), which included the entire Metal Bats mLP, plus a bunch of re-recorded versions of other, obscure stuff, ranging from 1983 to 1987. The next thing they did was recording these four tunes and Stormbringer Productions was kind enough to release them as a limited edition (500 copies) 10Ē on red vinyl. Thereís also a picture disc version of The Mill, including different cover art, limited to only 200 copies! Musically, VORTEX anno 2000 has come up with some very basic, average stuff. It hardly compares to their 80ís material, which was basic as well, but not average, rather N.W.O.B.H.M. influenced heavy metal. Nowadays itís all rather soulless, hardly innovating, nothing special at all. The guitars are still okay, but the songs are just average, especially I Got Mucho More. If I were a VORTEX member, Iíd be ashamed to release such a song to the public. The band planned to release a live album & video in 2001, but as far as Iím aware that did not materialize yet. I wonder why? Ignore The Mill (surprisingly itís sold out already anyhow) and go for a copy of The Dawning in stead, and find out what real VORTEX was all about! Needless to say that vinyl copies of Metal Bats & Open The Gate are almost impossible to find nowadays, and hardly affordable too!! www.openthegate.nl.or whirlewolf@hetnet.nl.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 3, released in 06/2002)

VORTEX / Metal Bats (Picture Disc mLP/Steelhunter/2002)
Some of you may remember that I sort of Ďslayedí VORTEXís 2000 comeback release ( The Mill 10Ē) in issue 3. That was because it contained four (very) average songs. Anyhow, Metal Bats was the bandís first release, and originally saw the light of day in 1985. Actually, the band started out in the very late 1970ís already, and it shows, as thereís a definite N.W.O.B.H.M. influence noticeable throughout this entire release. Especially the likes of SPLIT BEAVER come to mind on With Witches Help and Metal Bats. Not just as far as the music goes, but as far as the vocals are concerned as well. On the other hand there are already hints of that typical mid 1980ís Euro heavy metal sound to be noticed as well. Itís all rather basic, but a good retrospective as to what European metal was like back in those days. Needless to say that I (still) enjoy this more than The Mill! And itís a chance for all of you that werenít able to score a copy of the original 1985 vinyl release to catch up at last. Unfortunately there are no bonus tracks, nor lyrics, but you do get the original front cover design, and plenty of live pictures on the back. And itís limited to 500 copies, I believe. www.steelhunter.cjb.net. Steelhunter Records / Ďt Erf 22 / 5374 AM Schaijk / The Netherlands.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

VORTEX / Open The Gate (Picture Disc LP/Steelhunter/2002)
Open The Gate was originally released in 1986. Once again it was recorded and mixed at Spitsbergen Studio in Groningen, and produced by Harry De Winter. Of course itís limited to 500 copies, but yet again : no bonus tracks, nor lyrics. Same front cover design and plenty of live pictures on the back. Musically, itís the logic evolution from Metal Bats; just a little bit slower overall, and a bit less N.W.O.B.H.M. influenced perhaps, resulting in a fine dose of basic heavy metal nevertheless. Way better than the stuff that they recorded some 15 years later, at least in my humble opinion. Although I tend to enjoy Metal Bats over this, albeit just barely. www.steelhunter.cjb.net. Steelhunter Records / Ďt Erf 22 / 5374 AM Schaijk / The Netherlands. P.S. For those interested : Greeceís Unisound Records has released Metal Bats and Open The Gate on one CD as well, but once again without bonus tracks, or lyrics for that matter!
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

WARLORD / Deliver Us (Picture Disc LP/Supreme Music Creations/2002)
I guess that I donít have to go into detail concerning this release and its musical side of things, right? Everyone reading this should already have heard this plenty of times, or at least be aware of its existence. And if you arenít, itís about time that you did something about it! By buying a copy of this picture disc re-release version, for instance. It is limited to 700 handnumbered copies and has the same front and back cover designs as the original issue. And it includes an insert with all lyrics as well. To top things of thereís a bonus track as well : Mrs. Victoria, which originally appeared on the Metal Massacre III compilation. All fans of WARLORD in special, and excellent, dark, epic, powerful, melodic, classic heavy metal in general should order a copy of this immediately, as theyíre bound to be all sold quickly, Iím afraid! Supreme Music Creations / P.O. Box 93565 / 18310 Moschato / Athens / Greece. vlanton@otenet.gr. www.warlord.ws.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

WHILE HEAVEN WEPT / The Drowning Years (7Ē/Maniacal/2002)
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT is a band that has been around for quite a while already, albeit inactive for a couple of years in between as well. This new line-up is a quintet, as opposed the trio that weíve always been used to in the past. Besides founder Tom Phillips they now have another familiar face in their ranks as well : bassist Jim Hunter (TWISTED TOWER DIRE, REVELATION, OCTOBER 31). This 7Ē comes on marbled purple vinyl and is limited to 330 handnumbered copies. No lyrics, nor pictures here. And at least one of these songs is set to appear on the bandís forthcoming new album, Of Empires Forlorn, as well. WHILE HEAVEN WEPTís material is not your typical classic true doom stuff, but quite a bit more adventurous : emotional and melodic, as well as progressive and orchestrated. The keyboards definitely help to create this one of a kind atmospheric doom metal, and Tomís mesmerizing voice takes care of the rest. I tend to enjoy this kind of stuff, even more so because the songs are more compact than on their previous releases. Iím looking forward to Of Empires Forlorn already! Maniacal Records / c/o Mike Pritchard / P.O. Box 226 / Merrifield / Virginia 22116-0226 / U.S.A. maniacalrecords@aol.com. www.whileheavenwept.com.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

WOLF / Wolf (LP/No Fashion/2000)
This is the vinyl edition of WOLFís full-length debut, but not their first vinyl release by all means, as Beast Records had already released two 7Ēís prior to this. Check out the WOLF interview elsewhere for more details. This edition is a gatefold one, and has the same cover artwork as the CD release. All lyrics are included as well, but unfortunately there are no extra pictures, nor bonus tracks. Anyhow, WOLF managed to re-create that typical 1980ís pure and traditional heavy metal style for their debut. They may not be 100% original, yet they are very tight, and solid as a rock. All very powerful, but not exactly power metal, if you catch my drift. And with more versatility than you wouldíve expected, as the songs range from mid-paced to fast. Musically, thereís a definite early IRON MAIDEN influence to be discovered on some of the songs; especially during the expressive twin guitar leads! You canít go wrong with doing that in my book. And this was only a preview of better things to come ... MNW Records Group / Textilvšgen 7 / 120 30 Stockholm / Sweden. www.wolf.nu.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

WOLF / Black Wings (LP/No Fashion/2002)
Quite obviously those better things to come surfaced on Black Wings. The music is pretty much along the same lines as on their debut, still ranging from mid-paced to fast, but itís all way more mature here. Like I mentioned before, itís still in that typical 1980ís vein, thus hardly original, but itís delivered with so much dedication that it comes across as being genuine all the time. Be it really fast (Night Stalker, Genocide), up-tempo (I Am The Devil, The Curse) or a bit more mid-paced (Unholy Night, Venom) ... I just like every single song on Black Wings! And I donít mind the obvious resemblances to early IRON MAIDEN when it comes to those excellent dual guitar solos, as can be witnessed on the likes of Night Stalker, I Am The Devil and Unholy Night, either. And as a special bonus the band decided to include an excellent cover version of MERCYFUL FATEís classic A Dangerous Meeting as well. First rate material all the way here! Both the front and back cover designs are identical to the CD issue. All lyrics are included on the insert, but there are no extra pictures to be discovered. No extra songs either, but this release does include a band poster. MNW Records Group / Textilvšgen 7 / 120 30 Stockholm / Sweden. www.wolf.nu.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)

WOLF / Night Stalker (7Ē/Rage Of Achilles/2002)
WOLF are no strangers to vinyl, as Iím sure you have already noticed by now. The original idea was to have two songs from Black Wings on here, plus one surprise. In the end it turned out to be just Night Stalker, one of the most killer tracks from Black Wings, on side A. The special surprise on side B is WOLFís interpretation of SLAYERís Die By The Sword. A heavy metal version of one of the earliest thrash anthems, so to speak. The cover design is totally based on, and thus very reminiscent of, M÷TLEY CR‹Eís Too Fast For Love debut LP. Very cool and fitting in with the songtitles. Just the kind of thing that youíd expect from Swedenís best old-fashioned heavy metallers. From what Iíve heard this black vinyl edition is already sold out, but Rage Of Achilles are said to re-issue it on red vinyl. So if you missed out on this one, make sure you get one of those. www.rageofachilles.com. Rage Of Achilles / P.O. Box 20508 / London NW8 8WT / England / U.K.
(this review originally first appeared in DEN OF INIQUITY fanzine # 4, released in 05/2003)


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