Pure Steel Records

Trauma – As the World Dies Review

Trauma – As the World Dies Review

“Last month I reviewed the latest Very Good release from Flotsam and Jetsam, a band known more for their contribution to Metallica than to thrash music in general. Well, not to be outdone, here comes Trauma, a band that should be known even more so for their contribution to Metallica. After all, it was Trauma that gifted the inimitable Cliff Burton to Metallica, and as we all know, the rest is history. And it was history for this Sunset Strip band: their debut album, Scratch and Scream, came out two years after Burton departed, and it was another three decades before their follow-up, Rapture and Wrath, dropped. Now here they are with As the World Dies, their third album (a mere three years after their second, instead of thirty), and another attempt to establish themselves as more than just a footnote in metal history.” And it certainly won’t be their cover art that does it, so can their music?

Stormhold – Salvation Review

Stormhold – Salvation Review

As a general rule, metal is just plain better in Sweden. Even half-hearted attempts or poor imitations turn out better when sourced from that otherworldly place, with its spike-studded halls and platters of herring, meatballs, and fruit soups. And speaking of fruit soups, the new generation of HammerFall and Iron Maiden praise has arrived in the form of Stormhold’s second studio album, Salvation.” Sweden takes a holiday.

Vescera – Beyond the Fight Review

Vescera – Beyond the Fight Review

“As a kid growing up in the 80s, one of my favorite metal bands was Connecticut’s own Obsession. After getting featured on Metal Massacre II way back in 82 they went on to release a killer EP and two very impressive albums of heavy but melodic metal merging speed with an almost hair metal approach loaded with hooks. A big part of Obsession‘s charm came from the powerhouse, leather-lunged delivery of Michael Vescera. After Obsession folded up shop in 88, he became a kind of metal Ronin, wandering the Earth selling his talents to the likes of Loudness and Yngwie Malmsteen, even putting in a regrettable stint in Animetal USA, as well as fronting several super groups (MVP, The Reign of Terror) and his own eponymous act (Michael Vescera).” Ride on, Metal Gypsy.

Poltergeist – Back to Haunt Review

Poltergeist – Back to Haunt Review

“In a dimly lit basement sits an easel covered by a dust-kissed veil. Beneath it reveals a portrait illustrating denim-clad, leonine-tousled men. Their faces are sunken and scored, their skin sallow and mottled. Whilst the painting’s subjects may be cruelled by time, the actual bands portrayed here are instead brimming with life, churning out quality music that belies their age.” The olde can still be bold(e).

Aska – Fire Eater Review

Aska – Fire Eater Review

“There aren’t many modern bands that pull off that vintage 80s American metal style without sounding contrived or cheesy or both. Aska is an unheralded, mega-obscure band that can count themselves among the few with that magic touch. Though in existence since 1994, they’ve only managed to release six albums, and Fire Eater is the long-awaited (by thirty of us) follow-up to 2007s Absolute Power. Apart from the glaring lack or productivity, they’ve had long-running issues with the consistency of their material. While they were capable of penning some real old school scorchers, they also had a tendency to drop a few stinkers per album that would leave me shaking my head. Still, when they nail their brand of traditional metal, it rings loud and trve across the land.” If Steel Druhm doesn’t get to review retro metal every few weeks he gets all bent out of shape. Maybe the old timey charm of Aska will get him back to his usual grouchy self.

Lanfear – This Harmonic Consonance Review

Lanfear – This Harmonic Consonance Review

Honesty in band promotion is about as common as happy, uplifting Finnish music. Despite this dire paucity, Lanfear keeps things refreshingly real. Their website bills them simply as “underrated metal” and I couldn’t agree more. These German prog-power champs have some impressive albums under their belts, but they aren’t as known or as appreciated as they should be. Herein, Steel Druhm dissects The Harmonic Consonance which is out worldwide now!

Crom – Of Love and Death Review

Crom – Of Love and Death Review

Steel Druhm has been waiting for this for a long time! For the uninitiated, Crom is the brainchild of one Walter Grosse and he functions as a one-man-band, doing it all for the metal masses. His first album, 2008’s Vengeance, was one of those special sleepers that didn’t get nearly as much attention and praise as it deserved. Fusing viking, epic and power metal, it had a unique, engaging style all its own and the songwriting was top-notch (it almost sounded like Tyr mixed with Europe and Hammerheart-era Bathory if you can imagine that). So good was the material, years later, I still find myself singing the immortal line “I swear this oath, this oath of Wengeance…” at least once a week (wengeance, like revenge, is best served cold, with crackers and cheese). While the lyrics were based around viking and mythical themes, it had a dead-serious feeling that most power metal acts couldn’t come close to achieving. After a long wait, we finally get Of Love and Death. So, is it more viking/power with all the sacking and rampaging we expect? Well no, it’s something quite different. Apparently in the three years since Vengeance, Mr. Grosse grew tired of viking battles and blood oaths and turned all introspective and emo. This is an album steeped in the subjects of love, heartache, loss and loneliness. That’s right, he done gone and turned in his war hammer for a big-ass book of love poems. As odd as it seems, it doesn’t totally kill things and Grosse’s writing and performing chops are still there. However, this certainly isn’t the sequel I was hoping for and there are issues that ultimately render it a partial disappointment.

Angrily Unreviewed: Split Heaven – Street Law

Angrily Unreviewed: Split Heaven – Street Law

Our first entry in the Angrily Unreviewed sweepstakes is Street Law, the third release by Mexican retro metallers Split Heaven (available on Pure Steel Records). Following in the footsteps of other 80’s style retro rockers like Steelwing, Enforcer and Wolf, Split Heaven serves up old school metal with a patina of hard rock and more than a little cheese (the album cover alone is worth fifty pounds of Velveeta). Now, before you turn up your elitist metal nose, this is some powerful, authentic stuff from a bunch of hungry youngins and it rocks harder than Thor at a Manowar concert. Songs like “Time Warrior,” “Street Law,” “Lonewolf” and especially “Night of the Jaguar” overflow with unrestrained enthusiasm and exuberance and manage to hit that 80’s style dead on. Closest in sound to Enforcer, they actually remind me a lot of Theatre of Fate-era Viper, old Obsession and Attacker, these guys play fast, loud and with real urgency. Great riffs are everywhere and while there’s that typical Maiden style here and there, they do their own thing as well. The vocals by Eligio Valenzuela are high pitched and a bit shrill but go along quite well with the vintage riffing and soloing style.