Reviews Archive:

BATTLEMAGE - A Dragon's Tale
BK 49 - Zombified
BLACKEND - Mental.Game.Messiah.
BLACK KNIGHT - Tales From The Darkside
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY - Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live +5
BLAZE - Tenth Dimension
BLITZENHAMER - Pawns Of The Predator
BLIZZARD - Hellish Rock'n'Metal
BORN OF FIRE - Transformation
BRAINSTORM - Ambiguity

A Dragon's Tale

This Swedish quintet have been together since November 1998, releasing one previous demo in August of last year titled "The Chosen One" before putting forth this new 3 song CD. Given that the average age of the band is 17 (the drummer Viktor Jonas is 16, while bassist Sebastian Gustafsson and guitarist Chrisitan Bard are 18, as vocalist Michael Bonta and second guitarist Kim Johnsson check in at 17) I can forgive the poorer production standards (it sounds like this was recorded on an 8 track) but what I have a big problem with is a band that plays power/speed metal without having the instrumental skill to pull this off or a vocalist that can't sing so he prefers to talk through the lyrics in an uninspired way. Some of the solos on "Sailing The Seven Seas" were out of key, and the pacing of a song like "The Chosen One" needs to be tightened as the riffs sound too choppy before the solo section. Maybe with more practice and time BATTLEMAGE can escape from the Sweden underground and gain a record contract, but i f "A Dragon's Tale" is the best that they can achieve, they need to go back to the drawing board as they haven't made a killer effort, only a substandard one next to the leaders of power/speed metal. Contact: BattleMage/ c/o Viktor Jonas/ Konvaljevagen 10/ S-603 66 Norrkoping/ SWEDEN. Email:
Matt Coe

BK 49

I've never heard such a good self-financed brutal Thrash Metal album in the vein of old SLAYER with RAZOR and EXHORDER resemblances for years, that's for sure. These Germans have won my still pumping Thrash Metal heart with non-compromising fast riffing, an aggressive voice that delivers some Death grunts but is still enjoyable (though a little more expression and less growling could be an improvement), double basses to the book and a compact production. The killer tune "Cemetary Slaughter" even reminds me of - better produced - early DEATH stuff as well as the title track, "Attack Of The Vampire", "Trapped In Eternity" or "R U Morbid" could be from SLAYER in their legendary "Reign In Blood" times. That's a straight into your face, honest Thrash album and if you like the above mentioned bands, BK 49 are a must. You can order this seven track cd for only DM 15 or $ 10 from: BK 49 Headquarters, Thomas-Dehler-Str. 3, 26131 Oldenburg, Germany. Email:
Heinz Konzett

(MDD/Massacre Records)

The Bay Area is dead (besides the survivors IMAGIKA and TESTAMENT as the exceptions of this truth), the four big ones of the 80's - MEGADETH (parted ways with Thrash Metal a long time ago and with Metal in general with their last annoying, sell-out album), ANTHRAX (far, far away from their heydays, everybody knows - a drummer can't write good music....), METALLICA (needed a cover album to release good music) and SLAYER (came up with their weak and trendy "Diabolus.." offering, though there's still hope for them) disappointed their fans with mainly dull music in the late 90's. So, it's time for a new Thrash Metal generation. No, I am not speaking of the retro Thrashers (INFERNO and co.), I am speaking of bands as BLACKEND, delivering timeless Bay Area Metal that could be also played by TESTAMENT, HEATHEN or sometimes METALLICA in their enjoyable "And Justice..." times. The mid-paced Thrash Metal offers a lot of quality and most riffing ("The Eye Of The Observer") is directly imported from San Francisco in the year 1987. Maybe they should increase the speed factor a bit to compete with the sheer power of their models in their heydays (and TESTAMENT still has), skip both some not so good slow parts ("Freezing The Skin") and METALLICA rip off tracks as "Save Our Souls" , but apart from these three critical points, "Mental.Game.Messiah." is the promising German Thrash Metal output in 1999 and that's to appreciate. A very hopeful band and when they kick asses at their live gigs, the German scene has its new Thrash Metal star.
Heinz Konzett

Tales From The Darkside

BLACK KNIGHT is from Holland and they've just released their debut CD "Tales From The Darkside". Nine solid Metal songs are on this 45 minute CD. Think about IRON MAIDEN mixed with the old QUEENSRYCHE and you'll get the idea of the sound of BLACK KNIGHT. The songs are all compositions of their own. BLACK KNIGHT consists of Rudo Plooy - drums, Hans Heider - bass, Gertjan Vis - guitars, Romke Boschma - guitars and last, but not least vocalist Pieter Bas Borger. But it seems that they now have Olaf Smit as their new guitarplayer, he replaces Romke Boschma. The CD opens with the short "Story of the Day". "Irish Boy" is a ballad, which I think is an exact copy of the old LOUDNESS song "To be Demon". And in "Profound" I found back a riff which belonged to HIGHWAY CHILE's "Carol (Lady Of The Dark Room)" (raise your hands, if you still remember this one!). It has the same speed switch a t the end and it's built up the same way. The singer is a real talent. He easily sounds like Geoff Tate in his early days complete with the (sometimes) very high screams ("Rival"). Title track "A Tale From The Darkside" starts as a ballad, but that's just an intro to the uptempo song it really is. Again with the high vocals of Pieter Bas. It's a shame, that a talented band like BLACK KNIGHT had to wait seventeen (!!!!!) years to finally release their debut CD. The band already excisted in 1982. That's simply why it all sounds so professional. It might have taken them a hard and a long road to finally get there, but the result is great. And I think it's better to make one great CD than to bring out a handfull of shitty releases. BLACK KNIGHT obviously chose for the first option, because "A Tale From The Darkside" is certainly a release, they can be very proud of. Hopefully, it won't take them another seventeen years to bring out a follow up to this one.
Toine van Poorten

Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live +5

Finally you can enjoy ZAKK WYLDE's live spirit on CD now. Thirteen live tracks with the firespitting guitarplaying of this alcohol brewing, beard growing, beer drinking, hell raising guitar exorcist. There's not too much information available on where the live section of the album was recorded, but who gives a shit anyway? If you like the music of this neanderthaler of guitar rock, you'll not be disappointed. The sound is very good and the songs contain a lot of monsterous guitar playing. Not only the solos of Zakk are fantastic, but also the heavy riffing is very spectacular too sometimes. Of course, Zakk also added his version of the OZZY OSBOURNE classic "No More Tears" on this album. His singing may not be too good, but it fits with the dark, heavy , demonic music of this man. If you take a closer look at the album title, then you'll see that it says "+ 5". These are five studio recordings which are added on the second disc of this two CD set. They form a nice extra to the live part of this CD. Among these five songs is a ZAKK WYLDE version of the BLACK SABBATH song "Snowblind". No time to lose, 'cause now it's time for some booze! Pass me the whiskey, will you?
Toine van Poorten


All have been said about the return of the original BLACK SABBATH line-up. It is very difficult to review an album like this because "Reunion" is nothing more and nothing less than a bunch of classics tunes put together like pearls on a necklace! So here are the plain facts: this double live album was recorded in december 1997 in the band very hometown, Birmingham U.K. (the cradle of Heavy Metal you can say). It features 16 live tracks plus 2 new studio tracks (the latter ones reviewed in Snakepit 4). What stroke me at once is the incredible heaviness displayed on this recording. BLACK SABBATH appear totally rejuvenated here. Bill Ward in particular hits his drums with a sort of inhuman strenght enhanced by the unrelenting rumble of Geezer Butler bass playing; never before on record this rhythm section (the best in the world?) sounded so tight. Tommy Iommi stays equal to hims elf, playing his back catalogue strictly by the book. Due to the fact that I am a fan of latter incarnations of the band, when Iommi managed to work with class singers as Ronnie James Dio and Tony Martin, I would prefer not to judge the Osbourne vocal performance. This man escapes all form of criticism anyway, being the legend he is. It is not a surprise the tracks list favors the four first albums, and therefore not a single track can be pointed out. The album comes complete with a booklet featuring a comprehensive story of the original line-up (and their love/hate relationship) along with interesting pictures (Iommi without his mustache!). Well, enough said because you certainly owns this album already!
Edouard Vergriete

Tenth Dimension

His second one. And after he showed all non-believers on his first solo effort "Silicon Messiah" and the crisping live shows that he was not responsible for the weak IRON MAIDEN music (it shoud be clear that Steve Harris is the man to blame), "Tenth Dimension" is again a strong Heavy Metal album, with a motivated band and Blaze himself in good shape. "Leap Of Faith", "Stealing Time", "Speed Of Light" or the fantastic "Stranger To The Light" are fat produced Metal with an angry but melodic view, fine double leads and even the ballade "Meant To Be" can transport the feelings of what Metal is all about.....BLAZE - not to be confused with an ex-singer of an ex-Metal legend.
Heinz Konzett

Pawns Of The Predator

WOW! Great CD cover, cool name, can we go wrong here? No, these guys play an ultracool mix of good old Thrash in the well known Bay Area style and Heavy Metal. The band was formerly known as SS DAGGER. And already from the intro on you know that this is great stuff. It grabs you by the throat once the alarm goes off in the beginning of opener "The Major". "Tunnel Rat" is fast and speed records are broken here. The ending of "Chamber Of Horrors" is a bit chaotic maybe. But who cares when you hear the rest of these great songs. And when you hear the air raids go off in "Alienus Maximus", then you'll know it for sure. There's absolutely no one who can escape from the claws of BLITZENHAMER. Once they've caught you, they simply won't let loose. "The Northstar Rapist" has a strong piece of guitar playing at the end. "WW III" ends this fifty minutes Thrash attack. After that I suggest you just press the replay button for the best result. Here and there the vocals reminded me of good old SACRED REICH singer Phil Rind, which is a compliment. The band consists of Fritz Patrick on vocals, eyes painted black so he won't be recognised when he's out up front chasing his innocent victims. Drummer is Douglas Texeira, who's dressed in an old SS DAGGER t-shirt. On bass we have the Tim Cardoza, together with Douglas he forms the unbeatable rhythm section. The guitarplayer of this very talented band is Len Goldschmidt. Watch his guns 'cause he's a sharp shooter. Don't mess with this band, 'cause they have only one goal. They put it in one short slogan which is easy to remember: HEAVY METAL FOREVER. What more can I say? Anything that isn't said here about BLITZENHAMER can be found at Hail BLITZENHAMER, they're gonna get you, no matter when. Thanks go out to Len and the rest of the band for making this review possible. Look out for an interview with this band in one of our upcoming issues!!!!
Toine van Poorten

Hellish Rock'n'Metal (7")
(Iron Bonehead Productions)

BLIZZARD is the new home of former MAYHEMIC TRUTH drummer Balor. The band got together in October 1998 and released a pretty entertaining 6-song rehearsal demo ("Alcoholic Metal Mayhem") in May 1999. Musically BLIZZARD is completely different to MAYHEMIC TRUTH and has nothing to do at all with the BATHORY-influenced Black Metal Balor used to play in the past. This is alot more in the raw'n'dirty style of bands like AT WAR, TANK, VENOM or MOTÖRHEAD. While the demo still sounded a bit inmature, this 7" is highly recommended to fans of the aformentioned musical style. A big benifit for the guys certainly is the change in the vocal department (original singer Faxe left the band shortly after the release of the demo and guitarist Atze took over the vocals as well). Everything sounds a lot more powerful and tight nowadays and even the production on these 4 new songs is perfect. So everyone who dislikes "happy Metal" in the HAMMERFALL vein should order straight away. The 7" is limited to 500 copies, so you better hurry up! The rehearsal tape still sells for 8,-DM / $6 - unfortunately there's no price mentioned for the 7", but you can easily find it out yourselves by writing to one of the following addresses: BLIZZARD, c/o Balor, Albstr. 36, 72663 Großbettlingen, Germany (you can also contact vocalist / guitarist Atze by e-mail: IRON BONEHEAD, Brunnenweg 9a, 36160 Dipperz, Germany
Frank Stöver

Adv. of Split 7"
(Iron Bonehead Productions)

This is a really cool item for all oldschool metalheads. BLIZZARD and WITCHBURNER, two of Germany's biggest new hopes when it comes to honest Thrash Metal, finally combined on a little piece of black (?!) plastic. Both bands deliver two exclusive and brand-new tracks and should appeal to everyone into the more aggressive side of things. BLIZZARD continue on in their raw, almost punkish WARFARE -, old VENOM -, TANK kinda direction with 'Hell Ain't A Bad Place' and the hymn like 'Alcoholyptic Nightmare', while WITCHBURNER come up with 'Return Of The Witchburner' and 'I Saw The Horoscope', two tracks in the aggressive early KREATOR / MERCILESS vein. So, no wimp shit, or fuckin' retro here - just straight ahead and into your face pure and extreme METAL! The EP is strictly limited to 666 copies, so hurry up and contact Balor (drummer for both, BLIZZARD and WITCHBURNER) for further ordering information at: BLIZZARD / WITCHBURNER, c/o Balor, Albstr. 36, 72663 Großbettlingen, Germany, e-mail:
Frank Stöver

(independent CD)

Arizona has a new metal quintet that you can look forward to enjoying if traditional metal with occasional blasts of speed is your preferred music of choice. Following up an appearance on an IRON MAIDEN tribute CD and a 4 song demo release last year, "Transformation" pulls out 9 songs that should have most people thinking they've heard a pinch of early FLOTSAM and JETSAM plus lots of HELSTAR and IRON MAIDEN. The vocals from J.Davis have a slithering nature, adequately evil in the lower range ("Gemini") but commanding immediate attention when he hits James Rivera-like highs in epic songs like "The Storm" or "Those Beyond". You'll find an abundance of old school conventions throughout this album- from longer instrumental parts that begin the songs to the killer melodic solos that aren't afraid to move outside of 8 measures. Most of the songs hit the 5 minute mark, and the only qualm one might have lies in the lower, muffled production. You can still hear everything- but I suggest you crank your stereo a little and play with the EQ. Choice cuts: opener "After The Fire", the acoustically fueled "Eclectic Ones" and closer "Fire And Brimstone". Buy- support the underground. Contact: Born Of Fire, PO Box 35130, Phoenix,AZ, 85069, USA Email:
Matt Coe

(Metal Blade)

Things have been silent for a while because of the singer search, but beware... they're back with a vengeance! I was very pleased when I heard that the new man on board is Symphorce-frontman Andy B. Franck. I knew he would be perfect for the job, but I never fully realized what an asset Andy would be to this band! His voice is in the same vein of Markus', but his vocal lines are much more diverse! And so is the music... it's still that perfect combination of melody and the typical aggressive Brainstorm crunch, but more epic and so much more refined (as well as the songwriting). At times it reminds me of Angel Dust's jewel "Bleed". Crush Depth starts with a crushing intro and has those US metal influences that make Brainstorm so different from most German power metal bands. The thrashier songs, e.g. Tear Down The Walls and Coming Closer (killer drums!), but also mid-tempo songs like Arena, are even more powerful with Andy's somewhat darker and sometimes aggressive vocals; in Beyond the Destiny, a beautiful epi c song in the vein of "Bleed", the vocals are very melodic. Darkest Silence/Maharaja Palace is an extremely heavy song with an oriental touch. The beautiful ballad Far Away is followed by the crunchy Brainstorm riffs of Demonsion and Lost Unseen has some very progressive parts that even remind me of my old faves Deathrow! Ambiguity closes with a ripping Perception Of Life, unfortunately (for me personally) with a way too 'happy' refrain. My favorites are Maharaja Palace (h e a v y !!) and Crush Depth (KILLER intro!!!) and in general, as always, that typical Todde & Mille guitarstyle I love so much:) Get this CD, this is what metal is all about!!!
Marlies Wobben