Iron Maiden

Darkest Era – Wither on the Vine Review

Darkest Era – Wither on the Vine Review

“Talk about making fans wait for a new album. Way, way back in 2014 I was gobsmacked by Severance, the sophomore release by Irish epic doom act Darkest Era. It had a near-perfect blend of doom, black, goth and Viking genres and felt like a heavy-duty emotional journey through dark, trying times. It stitched together the best parts of Primordial, Atlantean Kodex, Ereb Altor, and Iron Maiden to create an album grander than the sum of its parts. There was a brooding, melancholic beauty and power to it that few albums could equal. I was very anxious to get a followup, and nearly 8 long years later, it finally shows up.” Dark days.

Hell Fire – Reckoning Review

Hell Fire – Reckoning Review

“I vividly remember writing the review for Hell Fire’s 2019 release Mania. I was sitting in a folding chair in my empty, about-to-be-sold house, passing the time while an HVAC person repaired my apparently damaged furnace. I sat there typing with my headphones on, letting the San Francisco band’s beautiful guitar harmonies and journeyman heavy/speed/thrash metal soothe my heart, a heart still aching from an unanticipated $2000 bill. I remember at the time thinking that I might be underrating Mania, wondering if the stress of moving wasn’t affecting my ability to be objective.” Hell bills coming due.

Birth – Born Review

Birth – Born Review

“As I listened to Born by Birth, it became clear I was witnessing another throwback progressive rock band being, well…born; one which harkens back to a bygone era of English prog majesty; less identified by the harder-edged, complex compositions of early Rush and more by the extended jams and intricate, less metallic instrumentation of King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Genesis. These were the bands I’d fallen in love with during my earlier sojourns, and it’s clear the Birth boys feel similarly.” Born too late.

postcards from new zealand – Nin-an-ak Review

postcards from new zealand – Nin-an-ak Review

“What does New Zealand have to do with Ancient Sumeria? Not a damn thing, but then again, the Brits didn’t play much of a role in the conquests of Alexander the Great and no one batted an eye when Maiden wrote a track about him. So the subject of choice for Nin-an-ak, an ancient Sumerian goddess of kink and war, doesn’t require much justification. Not as much as the name postcards from new zealand, anyway, nor their preference for not using capitals. And definitely not as much as the genre this promo came tagged with: post-sumerian-chamber-death-prog-core.” Dead tongues, dead letters.

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.

Ironflame – Where Madness Dwells Review

Ironflame – Where Madness Dwells Review

“About two and a half years ago, I covered Blood Red Victory, the third full-length album from Ironflame, and I nearly dropped the 4.0hammer™ on it. That record had some incredible traditional anthems on it, and the chorus of “Honor Bound” still runs through my head every so often—usually when I’m forced to deal with a commitment that I regret making. The Ohio-based Ironflame is the brainchild of one Andrew D’Cagna, an artist probably best known for his work as a drummer in blackened bands like Nechochwen and Obsequiae, but this project reveals that D’Cagna’s abilities cannot be contained to just one instrument or just one style of music. When I reviewed Blood Red Victory, I felt like D’Cagna was on the verge of true greatness, and I’m happy to report that follow-up Where Madness Dwells proves that, as usual, I was right.” Iron evens the score.

Yer Metal is Olde: Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer

Yer Metal is Olde: Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer

“To put things ever so gently, the 1990s were not a good time for heavy metal, especially not the classic triumvirate of British heavy metal. Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, both riding the winds of success of the 1980s, were struggling to stay afloat due to dips in quality of music, the change of musical tastes in people, the looming flannel-cloaked spectre of grunge, and both their vocalists leaving to pursue solo careers. Black Sabbath, though… hoo boy.” More Humanizer than a human, man.

Mirror – The Day The Bastard Leaders Die Review

Mirror – The Day The Bastard Leaders Die Review

Mirror plays a NWoBHM-inspired brand of retro metal. They also reflect a variety of influences from 70s prog to early 80s metal. Their third album, The Day Bastard Leaders Die, offers up a 44-minute tour back to the time when class was stained, and killers were running free. The band is a passion project for Greek bassist, Tasos Danazoglou – most famously known for his short stint in Electric Wizard. Here he’s under the influence again paying tribute to the music he clearly loves.” Faded reflections and bad luck.

Vanum – Legend Review

Vanum – Legend Review

“When I reviewed Ageless Fire on this very site, I described Vanum’s sound as “black metal without cross-genre bells and whistles,” and this is absolutely still true. It’s a different beast than Yellow Eyes or Ash Borer,, principle members M. Rekevics and K. Morgan’s other bands, in that it has never tried to be anything but a love letter to black metal days of yore. Bathory has always been a touchpoint, but perhaps the most noticeable change on Legend is just how hard Vanum lean into their Quorthorniness.” Quorthorn the raven, eat my sword!