Hard Rock

Mirage – The Sequel Review

Mirage – The Sequel Review

“A couple of weeks ago I lamented the fact that the band I was reviewing was releasing albums too fast. Thankfully Mirage are here to average things out. The Sequel is the Danish band’s second album, hot on the heels of their 1985 debut, …And the Earth Shall Crumble. Now that’s an album cycle I can get behind! With eight songs spanning forty-two minutes, that’s an average of 1:08 of songwriting per year. A pretty relaxing schedule to be sure.” Suprise reprise.

Mirror Queen – Inviolate Review

Mirror Queen – Inviolate Review

Inviolate is NYC band Mirror Queen’s fourth album. I’ve never heard of them, nor of the group they rose out of, Kreisor. Therefore, I have no preconceived notions of what to expect. The group claims to be influenced by Blue Öyster Cult, Hawkwind, and more, so that’s a promising start, and I’m always happy to jump into some retro metal to hear what’s shaking, especially if the band also professes to lean into some psychedelic realms.” Oyster Queens and Hawk Kings.

Big Muff 68 – Swing Metal Review

Big Muff 68 – Swing Metal Review

“Do you know what a big muff pedal does? Well, if you don’t, it essentially can turn electric guitars into fat fuzzy rock machines. Over the decades, that sound has found a home across all genres that riff, stomp, and tear blues licks a new one. As such, the pedal name lends itself well to the mission of the wacky Norwegian outfit Big Muff 68, who seeks to give us a fresh new genre view with Swing Metal. If you hadn’t guessed yet, that genre is none other than… swing metal!” Tough Muff.

Moon Tooth – Phototroph Review

Moon Tooth – Phototroph Review

“I wrote a gushing review of New York rockers Moon Tooth‘s supercharged 2019 sophomore album Crux, copping some flak amongst the readership in the process. Moon Tooth scratch the modern hard rock meets prog metal itch nicely, and third LP, Phototroph, comes with plenty of anticipation. The heavier rock stylings of their earlier material is smoothed over, squarely placing Moon Tooth in metal adjacent hard rock territory. And listeners not enamored with their previous work, especially Crux, will find nothing here to change their minds. I imagine the Moon Tooth fanbase will continue to swell and their profile rise, however, this will be a divisive effort amongst the AMG community.” Moon bite.

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell Review

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell Review

“Since 2005 Audrey Horne have been showing the world that some of the best American-style rock n’ roll comes from Norway courtesy of black metal and stoner doom musicians. Yeah, I know, go figure, but damn if that’s not how things played out. On the strength of albums like Youngblood and Pure Heavy the band carved out a sizeable niche of hard-rocking good times music with a strong NWoBHM flavor and they’ve been in heavy rotation in my neck of the woods for many a year. They’ve been quiet since 2018’s Blackout, but 2022 sees them return with seventh album, Devil’s Bell.” Bell’s end.

Reckless Love – Turborider Review

Reckless Love – Turborider Review

“Sometimes you just know when a record is for you. When it rises to the turgid surface of the promo sump using words such as “hair/sleaze/electro,” brazenly marketing itself with outrun pink and a cyborg character. I had absolutely no choice in picking out Reckless Love’s fifth full-length album entitled Turborider, in all its neon resplendence. Finland is not a country known for its excess, color and happiness and yet has somehow produced the most excessive, colorful and happy metal release you’ll hear all year.” Turbo Brother.

Sanhedrin – Lights On Review

Sanhedrin – Lights On Review

“I am wholly unfamiliar with Sanhedrin the band aside from remembering that I almost reviewed their 2019 album The Poisoner but ended up not doing so for some reason I can no longer remember. Apparently, the album impressed many, earning Sanhedrin a place on Metal Blade’s roster. This time around, I was bound and determined to not let these New Yorkers slip through my fingers again, so now you get to watch as Judge Holdy hands out his verdict on the band’s third full-length, Lights On. All rise!” Judge not, lest you be judged.

The Neptune Power Federation – Le Demon De L’amour Review

The Neptune Power Federation – Le Demon De L’amour Review

“Love songs are not metal’s forte. The last album I reviewed, as far as I can remember, that devoted significant attention to the subject was Hemina‘s Venus, near the start of my tenure. That makes Le Demon De L’amour the first in over half a decade. If I hadn’t already been familiar with The Neptune Power Federation, I might’ve been skeptical. But Memoirs of a Rat Queen was the highest 3.5 I ever gave. I still wonder whether it should have been a 4.0, and a big reason for that was the album’s pinnacle love song, “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You.” So if anyone could ‘reclaim the love song,’ as the band proclaims, it’d be these eclectic Aussie rockers.” Demon love in the deep blue sea.

Guild of Others – Guild of Others Review

Guild of Others – Guild of Others Review

“Too many bands today make progressive music for the sake of being progressive, prioritizing meandering exploration over songcraft, and this is akin to a chef filling a bowl with flavorful seasonings and serving it as a full meal. Guild of Others seem intent on dishing out hearty meals seasoned with proggy goodness, their promo even going so far as to quote prolific music critic Martin Popoff, who is supposed to have said, “Guild of Others accomplish the near impossible, and that’s make progressive metal that is accessible.” Let’s see if there is any truth to these words, or if they’re merely promospeak.” Guild to last.

Autumn’s Child – Zenith Review

Autumn’s Child – Zenith Review

Night Flight Orchestra’s sizable following in the metal community has evidently attracted the attention of Swedish AOR (always on radio) scene fixture Mikael Erlandsson. Erlandsson has been prolific in the Swedish AOR scene over the past two decades, releasing fourteen studio albums with Last Autumn’s Dream and now three albums with successor Autumn’s Child. For Erlandsson’s most recent project to reach its Zenith, he must walk the knife’s edge of writing songs that fit within a commercialized framework without simultaneously sounding tired and rote. To pull off this magic trick again and again in front of AOR audiences that have seen it all would be impressive indeed.” Hard rock in a hard place.