AFM Records

Brainstorm – Wall of Skulls Review

Brainstorm – Wall of Skulls Review

“Ever since I stumbled upon Brainstorm by way of Symphorce by way of Ivanhoe, I’ve found these German heavy metal masters to be one of the most reliably ass-kicking acts running. And what a run they’ve been on of late. Every album since 2014s Firesoul has been extra-inspired and brimming with fist-pumping, blood-angering metal classics. 2018s Midnight Ghost was the best in a long line of very good to great outings and it gave me everything I crave from a traditional metal album. Led by powerhouse vocalist Andy B. Franck, Brainstorm have long shown a knack for crafting tunes loaded with hook after hook, infused with beefy, muscular riffage in the Nevermore / Iced Earth vein, and few bands can match their ability to craft a monster chorus. On thirteenth opus Wall of Skulls, absolutely nothing has changed.” Trophy metal.

Flotsam and Jetsam – Blood in the Water Review

Flotsam and Jetsam – Blood in the Water Review

“A man’s real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor. Wise words but, what wisdom giveth, it may also taketh away. That first time Steel slides a selfie into your dms holding something unspeakable in one hand and a promo in the other is forever etched into each staffer’s mind. While fortunes fade and that furry memory remains, at least the promo material tends to improve with time.  Case in point, Blood in the Water by thrash stalwarts Flotsam and Jetsam.”” Blood and Steel in the water.

Bloodbound – Creatures of the Dark Realm Review

Bloodbound – Creatures of the Dark Realm Review

“As Lord Protector of the Dark Angry Metal Realm, Steel Druhm is entitled to the right of primo promo. He can often be seen pushing his massive haul of pre-picked albums around the AMG office in a giant flaming wheelbarrow, its spiked wheel crushing the skulls of failed n00bs littered about the floor as it rolls. His dragon’s hoard of promos is so large that some inevitably fall to the ground, where sniveling peons like myself snatch them up for our own reviewing pleasure. So it goes with Bloodbound‘s newest release. In his 2019 review of the band’s eighth studio album, Rise of the Dragon Empire, Lord Steel recounted the transition that the band has made over the years, moving from a more traditional heavy metal sound to a syrupy-sweet Euro-infused iteration of power metal.” Fanbound glory.

Motorjesus – Hellbreaker Review

Motorjesus – Hellbreaker Review

“Windshield time also gives me the chance to re-explore my favorite albums. I rarely listen to new promos on the road. This time is dedicated to albums from the Road Gods. Give me something bluesy, something rocking, something upbeat, something I can blare with windows down and my foot inching closer to the floor. Give me something I can scream at the top of my lungs and shift gears to. The simpler, the better. The groovier, the sweeter.” Jesus repossessed your hot rod.

Arion – Vultures Die Alone Review

Arion – Vultures Die Alone Review

“I don’t put much stock in award shows or competitions. Really, who amongst us does? Ever since the first Metal Grammy went to Jethro Tull metal fans around the world have viewed these sorts of things with more than a little trepidation. So when a band comes my way that came to fame in a competition, it’s more a curse than a blessing. Power metal act Arion (the Finnish act, not the Greek) is such a band. As teens these guys were finalists in UMK, the Finnish qualification program for Eurovision, eight years ago.” Beauty pageant meets the metal world.

Orden Ogan – Final Days Review

Orden Ogan – Final Days Review

“For the last 6 months or so it seemed as if the AMG promo sump was almost entirely composed of one-man basement dwelling black metal outfits and black-adjacent endeavors of dubious merit. Perhaps that’s a reflection on the zeitgeist of our current pandemic-burdened existence, but it gets extremely tedious for those not big on the dark arts of low-fi aural destruction. Paradoxically there’s been a dire paucity of power metal just when we need that genre’s buoyant, cheese-fueled charm the most. Perhaps that explains why I found myself looking forward to Orden Ogan‘s seventh album more than I expected.” Ogan donors.

Evergrey – Escape of the Phoenix Review

Evergrey – Escape of the Phoenix Review

“2021 will see the release of a wealth of albums written and recorded during the COVID pandemic. This phenomenon will likely impact records in a myriad of ways. Some will directly reflect the times in concept, lyrics or atmosphere. Others may benefit from bands having additional time stuck in lockdown together to hone their compositions. In the case of Evergrey‘s 12th album Escape of the Phoenix, the latter appears to be the case.” Firebirds, energy weapons.

Lake of Tears – Ominous Review

Lake of Tears – Ominous Review

“Sweden’s Lake of Tears may be one of the most chameleon-like bands in metal history. Over their 27 year career they’ve morphed from Gothic doom to prog, stoner space rock, and onto dark prog with blackened edges. Somehow they always did justice to the disparate styles they tinkered with, and like those many flavored jelly beans in Harry Potter, you never knew what you would get from album to album. It’s been almost ten years since 2011s Illwill and I’d started to think of Lake of Tears in the past tense. Then along came ninth album Ominous.” Buying tears in bulk.

Iron Mask – Master of Masters Review

Iron Mask – Master of Masters Review

“Twenty-twenty has been the year of ore. Iron ore, that is. We’ve seen it extracted from the earth, thrown into the blasting furnace, and molded into steel. From that steel, we’ve seen so many swords forged, that it’s practically raining the motherfuckers. There’s Ironsword and Megatron Sword, Possessed Steel and Blood Hails Steel – Steel Hails Fire, to name a few. And it won’t fucking end as long as Steel is fanning the furnace.” Mask ore die.

Iron Savior – Skycrest Review

Iron Savior – Skycrest Review

Iron Savior may not have started the whole Euro-power genre, but founder/vocalist/guitarist Piet Sielck certainly had his hands on the original putty as a member of the early version of Helloween. Though he never ended up recording with them, you can hear the influence of that protozoic era of power metal in everything Iron Savior does. Since their 1997 debut they’ve consistently churned out quality Euro-power with strong links to classic metal and they’ve always delivered it with more heft and muscle than 99.999% of their frilly be-shirted peers. Skycrest is their 12th platter of metallic anthems to the Metal Godz and things are as they should be.” Iron sharpens other iron.