Reviews Archive:

SACRED BLADE - Of The Sun And Moon (lim.)
SAMSON - Survivors
SAMSON - Head On
SAMSON - Shock Tactics
SAMSON - Live At Reading '81
SAXON - Innocence Is No Excuse
SAXON - Metalhead
MICHAEL SCHENKER - Adventures o/t Imagin.
MICHAEL SCHENKER - Dreams & Expressions
SCORPIONS - In Trance / Virgin Killer (2CD)
SEVEN WITCHES - Second War In Heaven
SHADOW KEEP - self-titled
SHADOW KEEP - Corruption Within
SILENT SHADOWS - Transitions
SKULLVIEW - Kings Of The Universe
SKULLVIEW - Consequences Of Failure
SKYLARK - Belzebu
SLEEPY HOLLOW - A Legend Retold (MLP)
SLIGHT OF MIND - self-titled
SODOM - M-16
SOILMOTOR - Soilmotor
SORE PLEXUS - Haptephobic
SPEEED - Powertrip Pigs
SPIRIT WEB - self-titled
SQUEALER - Made For Eternity
STEEL PROPHET - Book Of The Dead
STORMWARRIOR - Metal Victory (demo)
STRATOVARIUS - The Chosen Ones
STREET LEGAL - Thunderdome
SUICIDE CULTURE - Hallowed Be Thy Agony
SYMPHORCE - Truth To Promises
SYMPHORCE - Sinctuary

Of The Sun And Moon (Limited Edition)
(Othyr World Recordingz)

Thirteen long years have come and gone since this classic Metal album got released on a beautiful gatefold vinyl edition for the first time. Thirteen years without an official "Of The Sun And Moon" CD version. But now the wait is finally over! SACRED BLADE mastermind Jeff Ulmer finally released a limited edition CD on his own and came up with a brilliant result! Forget about the poor Reborn Classics bootleg ("Seven Moonz Of Xercez", which featured album and demo tracks), this is the real thing!! It was remastered, has the original artwork, lyrics and additional, individual live pics of the bandmembers. And of course the brilliant music! SACRED BLADE has always been an incredible unique sounding act, with awesome guitarharmonies / -leads, strong songwriting and the unmistakeable voice of Mr.Ulmer himself. His partly kinda shrieky style was either love or hate it. I always enjoyed it immensly! When the album came out originally in 1986, I in particular freaked out on 'Of The Sun And Moon', 'Salem' or 'Master Of The Sun' for their power and melody, mixed with the rather spacy'n'moody rest of the album. Nowadays I would probably categorize SACRED BLADE as a metalized version of PINK FLOYD. And not even that description fits completely. This is eternal Metal you have to experience on your own! These guys did a lot more brilliant stuff on demo and all that might be re-issued on CD as well in the near future, depending on how this CD sells. So, if you are interested in a copy of "Of The Sun And Moon" CD, you better get in touch with Jeff for ordering information at this address immediately: But hurry up, cause due to financial difficulties, there's only very limited quantities available!
Frank Stöver

Head On
Shock Tactics
Live At Reading '81
(Air Raid Records)

It obviously makes commercial sense re-releasing the whole SAMSON back-catalogue with Bruce Dickinson on cd, all albums were already re-released some year ago and on all four cds here bonus tracks are missed sadly. But Bruce is back in the saddle with IRON MAIDEN and many younger fans can check out what Bruce Bruce (Dickinson's old pseudonym when he joined Paul Samson's group) did in his pre-MAIDEN period. SAMSON was never a very successful NWoBHM band but they marked the English Metal movement with some outstanding moments that are surely worth listening to. On the debut "Survivors" in 1980 Paul Samson's Rhythm Blues influences as well as his immature singing delivered the weakest SAMSON album, the eight track record doesn't stand the test of time, it's simply a below average album. It would have made more sense in adding the album as a bonus to the Live one or to "Head On" record. After that Bruce Dickinson joined in and the second album "Head On" in the same year was quite an improvement, sounding heavier, with more crunching guitars and with a young Bruce Bruce on vocals who gave the music that peculiar feeling of being something special. Songs like "Take It Like A Man", "Thunderburst" or "Hammerhead" showed the heavy side of SAMSON, on the other hand the groovy "Vice Versa" still offered the Blues side of the band and it was evident that their development was not finished with this record. No, it got a lot better with the third album "Shock Tactics", a RUSH like cover (therefore I still love the way bigger vinyl albums, not the tiny cd-booklets....) and nine timeless NWoBHM tunes that are among the best works coming out of this great Metal movement, remaining the most impressive SAMSON studio album. More than 20 years later I am still deeply into the timbre and mood of this British Metal sound. Hear tracks like "Earth Mother", "Go To Hell" or "Bright Lights", melodic Metal with balls, fine leads, Dickinson's original kind of interpreting songs and catchy songwriting with the typical rough English sound. Essential New Wave Of British Heavy Metal stuff. The "Live At Reading'81" record was a kind of best-of from the aforementioned three SAMSON albums and there the immense live power of the band was captured in a fine way, again a real great piece of original Metal music and it still send s shivers down my spine when hearing this kind of original Metal.
Heinz Konzett

Innocence Is No Excuse
(Axe Killer Records)

For me as a SAXON die hard fan during their "Wheels Of Steel" / "Strong Arm Of The Law" heydays it was almost like a slap in the face when Biff and company originally released their highly controversial "Innocence Is No Excuse" album in 1985. Apart from the brilliant coverart I already didn't really enjoy "Crusader" (I still don't!), but somehow "Innocence..." seemed to me even worse and I still remember how much I hated SAXON's decision to go for a change of style. The guys were obviously trying to make it big in America and therefore came up with a more polished production and a slightly different (speak: more commercial) way of writing. While listening to the same album almost fifteen years later now I have no clue why I actually didn't like it back then. Have I simply become more openminded? Did I learn to appreciate melodies a lot more? Or was "Innocence Is No Excuse" already another (undiscovered) SAXON milestone in the 80's?? I have no aoppropriate answer for that, but fact is, that I really like the m ajority of the featured songs quite a lot now! No matter if you're gonna choose 'Rockin' Again', 'Call Of The Wild', 'Back On The Streets', 'Rock'n'Roll Gypsy' or 'Broken Heroes' - they're all strong melodic and catchy compositions with typical SAXON trademarks. Of course not the entire album is able to convince and crap like 'Gonna Shout' still remains pretty ridiculous. But all in all this is definitely a highly underrated album! The Axe Killer re-issue comes up with a wellknown deluxe packaging and two additional songs ('Just Let Me Rock' and 'Do It All For You'). So, if you shared my thoughts in the 80's - feel free to give this album a second chance. You might be surprised!
Frank Stöver

(Steamhammer / SPV)

The majority of the old, still existing NWOBHM bands have never really been able to live up to their classic material, but SAXON are luckily still going strong, even in the 90's! So, it's good to hear that their newest full length "Metalhead" neither really offers any negative surprises nor a progression towards a more modern sound. The main difference to their last effort is probably the change in the record label department. The production once again turned out really fat and the entire album is pretty heavy and catchy at the same time. Strong melodies go hand in hand with a massive wall of effective riffing and on top you'll get Biff's typical vocal-lines. In other words: "Metalhead" is another undeniable SAXON offering, that their fans will certainly eat up like crazy, as usual! Even though the album is almost perfect, my favorites from beyond the "Wheels..." / "Strong Arm..." / "Denim..." - period will probably always remain "Solid Ball Of Rock" and "Unleash The Beast". They both simply carried a little bit more of the old magic in the songwriting. But nevertheless - this is another fine offering for SAXON maniacs.
Frank Stöver

Adventures Of The Imagination
(Steamhammer / SPV)

I can't really understand MICHAEL SCHENKER's behavior these days. Instead of seriously trying to work on his comeback with MSG, he didn't seem to give a fuck about a convincing live performance while supporting THIN LIZZY in Germany at the end of last year (which was nothing but disappointing). Plus he seems to be in an extremely greedy mood at the moment, selling highly expensive merchandise (not even willing to sign anything else at his shows) and is now releasing a kinda superfluous instrumental album. Don't get me wrong - I still consider MICHAEL SCHENKER as a highly talented musician and worship his work with UFO, SCORPIONS and especially the vintage MSG records, but this release simply doesn't make any sense to me. The songs on "Adventures Of The Imagination" are all in the typical old MSG style (you'll even recognize some familiar sounding melodies), minus the vocals. And that' s exactly the problem here. It just gets boring after a while, even though SCHENKER's instrumental stuff is still more enjoyable than most of the stuff that gets released by other so called guitar heroes again and again. I just wished MICHAEL would re-unite with his old bandmates Gary Barden and Chris Glenn for another MSG record instead of coming up with stuff like this here.
Frank Stöver

Dreams And Expressions

"Dreams And Expressions" is a 43 minute instrumental effort by the German god who still comes up with riffs, melodies and lead work that leaves me breathless just like in the old days. And even if some of his leads have lost some of their initial raw attack from the glorious '74- '82 period, the man is still GOD! I'm not gonna name any tracks as there's no song titles, each track being a letter from the album title, but the whole thing rules if you love Michael's work. Even if his solo albums don't do anything to me since the weak "Built To Destroy" release (so that's a long time ago!), when he does a pure instrumental effort or work with the revamped U.F.O., he's still number one along with Mr Roth to me! What's really enjoyable also with this album is the fact that the songs are all clocking around two or three minutes and they're almost all chained together so it sounds almost like a long track with lots of changes, very enjoyable unlike so many other instrumental releases! Schenker is backed up with Barry Sparks on bass and Shane Gaalaas on drums, a powerful and effective rhythm section. But yeah the man really smokes on this new recording! Reign of the Flying V!
Laurent Ramadier

In Trance / Virgin Killer (2CD)
- The Back To Black Collection -
(Axe Killer Records)

I don't give a shit at all about the activities of the SCORPIONS since the 90's. To me they have more than once made fools out of themselves by releasing boring and uninspired music over and over again. But whenever you listen to their early material, you will easily understand why these Hannover guys once made it so big. Just take my three personal fave SCORPS albums "Tokyo Tapes", "Lovedrive" and "Animal Magnetism". All of them had great Hardrock songs, heavy and melodic and the same time and bound to become classics. Well, the majority of songs on the "Tokyo Tapes" live record originally got released on "In Trance" (from '74) and "Virgin Killer (from '76). Both have just been re-issued by French Axe Killer Records as a deluxe double CD edition (if you ever saw the Axe Killer QUEENSRYCHE re-issue you'll know what I'm talking about). A massive booklet which includes a short bio, the original covers, all lyrics and some great vintage pics as well as no less than seven bonus tracks (in total) make this release a worthy purchase. Not all of the songs are great (I never liked Uli Jon Roth's lead vocals), but there's still a long list of killer songs that our old men unfortunately don't have in their setlist for ages anymore, like for instance ,Top Of The Bill', ,Speedy's Coming', ,Pictured Life', ,Fly To The Rainbow' or ,Robot Man' (just to name a few). Great stuff which easily stood the test of time and should be known (better: owned) by everyone reading this.
Frank Stöver

Second War In Heaven
(Massacre Records)

Who does not like old SAVATAGE or old ACCEPT? I guess no one, otherwise (s)he would read the false magazine. And if you read the interview (the first one they ever gave) and the review of their first demo in our last issue, you already know what you can expect - godly riffs, a classic voice who is a cross between Jon Oliva, Eric Adams and the T.T. QUICK vocalist, and catchy songs, yes songs, which are hard to describe - hear it, feel it - enjoy! True Metal at its best with a strong 80's feeling and reminding of the two mentioned bands ten years ago. The band also covers the FLEETWOOD MAC track "The Chain" and a rather original sounding "Metal Daze" from MANOWAR. The other eight tunes are all of the same quality, proud Metal with no modern influences, definitely sounding ageless, for instance astonishing tracks as "Dying Embers", "Camelot" or the title track. There are few bands which release such perfect music, and bands like SEVEN WITCHES make it still worth to look out for new bands. To make it short - this is an essential release for every Metal maniac who wants to hear METAL. Basta.
Heinz Konzett


The British metal wave hasn't rode high in the past decade or so- outside of the veteran acts who've continued from the NWOBHM scene we've rarely experienced a killer act worthy of admiration. That's going to change with SHADOW KEEP- a quintet delivering jaw dropping power metal with a darker overtone that fans of CRIMSON GLORY and SANCTUARY will froth over. Cuts like opener "Dark Tower" and the mind numbing "Altar Of Madness" (with quick lifting twin soloing from guitarists Chris Allen and Nicki Robson) are just a sample of their musical prowess and skill at crafting memorable, entertaining songs. The production has a beefy feel and accents the proceedings, as you'll be mesmerized by vocalist Rogue M.'s melodies- a confident high range versatility coupled with an eerie warbling low range that could lead to Midnight recollections. I've listened to this 6 song/ 30 minute plus recording twice a day minimum since receiving it- and only wonder which label will be smart enough to sign this act to a long term deal. Nothing to criticize about SHADOW KEEP- I think everyone should buy this CD or check out their website and be prepared for the best new band to take ahold of your stereo and change your metal world. Contact: Shadow Keep/ Suite 52/ 95 Wilton Rd/ London SW1V 1BZ/ ENGLAND Website:
Matt Coe

Corruption Within
(Limb Music Products / SPV)

This album immediately brought back some exciting memories to me... Memories, that the older ones of you probably will share with me... Memories on times when new Metal acts still had to be discovered in a record store directly. Back in those days you had to find out about all the great releases either through word of mouth or completely on your own, but certainly without any record label hype or the manipulating power of full colored, specialized magazines. So, it was often the really obscure releases on even more obscure small labels that caught my attention and then ended up in my collection. A lot of those gems came from (at the time) totally unknown American Power Metal bands and believe it or not, but SHADOW KEEP's recently issued debut full length would easily fit in between there! Even though the band gets labeled a Prog Metal act, I would consider "Corruption Within" a classic Power Metal release with great MAIDEN-esque guitar harmonies, a driving rhythm section and a charismatic, powerful vocal perf ormance. Singer Rogue M. is blessed with a voice that may not be the most perfect (yet), but his timbre is so incredibly unique that he could turn into a similar trademark for SHADOW KEEP as Midnight used to be for CRIMSON GLORY, Harry Conklin for JAG PANZER, Warrel Dane for SANCTUARY or Steven Patrick for HOLY SOLDIER. Which means you will easily recognize his lamenting, yet very powerful and clear way of singing among tons of other, similar sounding acts! Even though SHADOW KEEP perform their material in the wellknown American style of the 80's, this bunch is of British origin (except for Rogue, who's from Belgium!), which might turn into another publicity bonus for them. Next to the six tracks off their excellent self-financed '99 mini album, "Corruption Within" comes up with five brand-new compositions as well as a "secret bonus" track, which turns out to be SHADOW KEEP's killer version of the QUEENSRYCHE classic 'Queen Of The Reich'! So, now it's up to you - check them out and discover the brilliance of this highly promising band!
Frank Stöver

(independent CD)

Guitarist Wayne Petroskey kindly handed this 5 song CD to me on the first day of Powermad, informing me that these songs go back a few years and are more 'old school' sounding. No problems for the writers or the readers of this magazine! "Transitions" could fit well in the mid 80's progressive/ traditional metal mold- lots of power riffing, subtle off time rhythm tempos and high reaching vocals from these Conn. gentlemen. Songs like "Lonely" and "She Kissed Jesus" would fit well on albums like "Graceful Inheritance" or "The Warning", along with the soloing talents of Rob D'Antonio- he's very understated and willing to lay off arpeggio runs to favor the pacing of each song. The recording at Max Trax Studios is competent (where ENERTIA also records) and this band also has a veteran of the underground in their ranks with bassist Duke Gunn (formerly of BEYOND REALITY). Another band to look for in the future- as they play their metal from the heart and aren't afraid to take 80's influences from FATES WARNING to HEIR APPARENT into the year 2000 and beyond. Contact: Silent Shadows, 24 New Street, West Haven, CT, 06516, USA Email:
Matt Coe

Kings Of The Universe
Massacre Records

The second offering of this US outfit starts in a powerful fashion with the title track, the kind of opener which immediately rips your face right away. There's few albums released these days that do not include at least one bum track but "Kings..." is consistent throughout. I liked their first effort but this new one just blows away easily each minute of the previous effort, everything sounds so much better with some great singing delivered by Quimby Lewis. This is how classic Heavy/Power Metal should be always played and once again it seems Illinois is at the forefront of the US Metal movement. If you like devastating, powerful, memorable songs and you don't want to hear happy overtones, then check out this album.
Laurent Ramadier

Consequences Of Failure
(RIP Records)

First off I feel for these gentlemen getting hosed by not being able to play the second night of the Classic Metal Festival due to scheduling mishaps and a 1am Kalamazoo curfew. Second of all these IL madmen play true to the bone metal with no hype, no false bravado and definitely no worries about who likes them and who doesn't. Moving forward, the 3rd album from SKULLVIEW kicks much in the same way that "Kings Of The Universe" did- its 10 songs dig deep into your cranium and make you pound around parts of your body you never knew could move anymore. "Time For Violence" instantly surges forth from the get go and the vocals of "Earthquake" Quimby Lewis command your rapt attention just as the old mentors did when I grew up on metal in the early 80's. The band know how to make the mood of the album change from song to song, as quick numbers like the 5 minute "Skullview (Warrior)" set comfortably next to the longer 9 minute "Palace Of The Boundless Cold" that features some killer Dio-era SABBATH like riffing/soloing during the bridge section from guitarists Dean Tavernier and Dave Hillegonds. I also enjoy the Egyptian thematic approach to "Wrath Of The Sorcerer" and the unusual cover choice that closes the disk "Digital Bitch" from BLACK SABBATH's "Born Again" album. Another killer Sheffield Studios recording and enticing dark cover art means that SKULLVIEW have produced their best album to date. I'll savor this hour-long album until eternity- and indoctrinate my children into the metal realm with "Consequences Of Failure".
Matt Coe

(Underground Symphony)

This EP shall shorten the waiting time for the next full length album of the Milano-based symphonic speedsters around mainman/key-wizard Eddy Antonini. It is a 4 track EP with 2 new songs and 2 previously released ones. The band has kept its musical direction, being very symphonic and classically influenced Speed Metal. The production, done by Frank Andiver (ex-LABYRINTH) in his own Zenith studios, is for the first time up to the standard of the music and underlines the power and technical abilities of the band-members. The opener "Belzebu" is the appetizer for the forthcoming album. It is an eight minute track, full of powerful speed and symphonic/baroque influences. The song is performed very tight and in addition Vic Mazzoni (PROJECTO) plays some guitar parts. The next song is "Above The Clouds", a typical melodic speed track made in Italy. It reminds me a little bit of the style LABYRINTH tends to play - no wonder, Olaf Thorsen plays some guitar parts on this track. Following is the '99 version of "A Star In The Universe", a short balladesque song just accompanied by the piano. The main difference are the vocals as they are sung by no other than Rob Tyrant (LABYRINTH). The closing track "Twilight" , being a powerful melodic metal song with speed influences, is one of the best tracks of Eddy Antonini's great solo album "When Water Became Ice". This is - thanks to the clear and dynamic production - the best SKYLARK-release under the banner of SKYLARK (it's not easy to top Eddy's solo disk) (but quite easy to top the previous rather bad SKYLARK albums, in particular the singer sucked on these - Heinz) and definitely makes me looking forward to "Gate Of Hell" and "Gate Of Heaven".
Helmut Posch

A Legend Retold (MLP)
(Old Metal Records)

Not being a specialist of S. HOLLOW's history by any means, and basing on the interview Matt did with Bob Mitchell in issue 5, I would say that it's the famous '89 demo which havs been pressed on vinyl by good old King from Old Metal Records. Just like the excellent RAT ATTACK demo released two years ago by him on vinyl, this one is much better packaged as it features an excellent cover artwork and the lyrics are even printed on the back! As for the music, well it simply shreds! Nothing else! The killing starts with "Hypnosis" a medium paced Power Metal track with excellent riffing and singing all the way, "The Final Conflict" (the only song used later on their one and only CD) have a doomier feel and it truly captivates your mind, GODLY! "Winners Take All" is the only filler track, ordinary Heavy/ Power Metal. The MLP ends with "Sleepy Hollow/Dementia", a nearly eight minutes shredder which starts in a very heavy and quite slow way but it soon changes for a fast paced Power Metal tune featuring more raging vocals work from Bob Mitchell and absolute raging riffing courtesy of Steve Stegg- who wrote all the music here, killer stuff! At the time this issue will be out, that release will be probably sold out as I understand it was limited to 500 copies but if you happen one way or another to see it, then don't wait any longer and BUY IT! Killer traditional Heavy/ Power Metal! We need more demos pressed on vinyl like that King! What about the fabulous DEATH DEALER demo next time huh?!
Laurent Ramadier

(independent CD)

Witnessing one of my favorite shows in 2000 (U.D.O./Raven), this southeastern MA quintet put on an impressive opening set of traditional metal with medieval leanings. After the set I locked onto one of their CD's- a 6 song offering that should appeal to people who have albums from CAGE or SEVEN WITCHES. Lead vocalist "The Hankster" has a nastier edge to his delivery, able to shriek will on a cut like "Selected" while remaining emotive on a ballad like "Scarborough Rain". Unlike most independent CD's where bands have difficulty writing songs of differing tempos, SLIGHT OF MIND can create individual tunes that mix up dynamics/ contrasts. I can tell guitarist/keyboardist Gary Gordon must have SAVATAGE as an influence- the whole era of Criss Oliva pops up in a song like the 6 minute plus "Dreamstate" with the clean intro and the pounding main riff. You'll have to crank the stereo a little for ideal listening (as this CD was recorded clear but a little low). Not many US bands are willing to take 80's roots and try to produce fresh metal in 2000- SLIGHT OF MIND deserves more listeners and I await more good shows/ recordings to come. Contact: Slight Of Mind, c/o D.A.King, 152 Buffinton St., Fall River,MA, 02721, USA Email:
Matt Coe


The legendary kings of non-comprimising German Thrash Metal are back in the saddle with strong music. "M-16" is SODOM's best since, well it's a long ago, "Agent Orange" though it can not compete with their classic. Angelripper luckily went back to his rough Thrash Metal roots and skipped all the annoying Punk parts. The concept of the cover and the lyrics tend to the Vietnam themes of "Agent Orange" as well, and with pure Thrashers as "Napalm In The Morning", "Little Boy" or "Marines" Tom wrote nearly the same stuff he did ten years before. The guitars sound rather moody and I prefer more crystal sounding guitars in general (like "Tired And Red" from "Agent Orange"). To make it short, SODOM's "M16" is classy Thrash Metal but stands behind the new fabulous KREATOR and the convincing second one from the Germany's Bay Area Thrashers DELIRIOUS and near behind the speed inferno of DESTRUCTION's "The Antichrist" and the blistering "Inwards" of DEW-SCENTED.
Heinz Konzett


TESLA was an okay Hard Rock band. But the new band of Brian Wheat (ex- TESLA bass guitarist) can not compete with the deceased mega sellers, sounding like a rather talented Hard Rock band on the dull alternative trip. It's a dissipation of their obvious skills and the cool characteristic Rock voice of singer Darin Wood to deliver such an ordinary album. Mainly the songwriting lacks in any good ideas and the aforementioned alternative touch annoys me deeply. Tracks as the opener "Guardian Angel" or "Kali" are surely enjoyable ones but you can feel in every second of their music that the band would be able to come up with a killer Hard Rock album if the musical direction would be more inspiring. Not this time.
Heinz Konzett

(Century Media)

Neo-classical Metal is the name of the game. Celebrated as a new super-group and after reading rave reviews in Germany's Rock Hard and other magazines, I was curious if they are only another hyped European band or the real thing. Like their forerunners STRATOVARIUS these young guys hail from Finland and sound exactly as Timo Tolkki's band some years ago. Hence their little brothers do not win the world cup in originality and it's obvious that their commercial approach is immense, on the other hand the musicianship is top notch, the high pitched singer highly talented, some of the ten tracks in the speed vein ("Blank File"), some mid-paced ("8th Commandment"), most refrains catchy and memorable (for instance the balladesque "Replica" or the excellent "Letter To Dana") and they know how to write songs. I really like this perfectly performed melodic Speed album, even if it's a bit too light-weighted sounding. Music has to be a little more aggressive to be labelled as pure Metal, but this is sadly missed by most of the European Metal bands these days.
Heinz Konzett

(self financed)

We already had a review on these German weirdos in our second issue. Back then they had just released their mini CD "Visual Agnosia". Now, two years later, they've come up with their first full length album "Haptephobic" which features twelve extremely complex progressive Metal tracks. I mentioned names like PSYCHOTIC WALTZ and WATCHTOWER as comparisons back then and these influences are still pretty much present in SORE PLEXUS' new stuff. But, that doesn't necessarily mean that this fourpiece is just a simple rip off - it's more like they seem to share a similar vision of this highly technical music. In 1999 SORE PLEXUS have also incorporated trumpets, sitars and violins into their songwriting, which makes them even more unique sounding, but of course also lesser accessible. Luckily they still focus on heaviness instead of wimpy DREAM THEATER-esque keyboard-loaden Progrock. They definitely have their roots in Metal and their overall musical potential is just incredibly strong! Too bad that the vocalist still isn't able to compete with the rest of the band. He may use a totally different type of singing than the majority of Prog / Techno Metal singers, but it's still not convincing enough for my taste. Instrumental wise these guys already belong to the biggest undiscovered talents out of Germany! The CD sells for 20,-DM (ppd. in Germany) and includes an infosheet and a bandsticker. Kontakt: Dirk Nowak, Sombornerstr. 89, 44894 Bochum, Germany, e-mail:,
Frank Stöver

Powertrip Pigs

SPEEED is mainly the new band of Aaron Randal (ex-ANNIHILATOR singer). A highly promising line-up - his old band mate Ray Hartmann, Jack Frost (SEVEN WITCHES) on guitars and Bernie Altman (SPIRAL TOWER) on bass - and a cool name for a Metal band made me very curious to hear their debut record. What can I say - I am disappointed. Already the opener "What Dya Want" gives you a knock out in the first round, a brutal sounding PANTERA rip-off comes off the speakers, growling vocals, an non-Metal riff, all in all aggressive so-called modern Metal (?). Hey, this bandwagon train exploded on the way to nowhere two years ago, nobody whose Metal heart is honestly pumping wants to listen to such stuff. Hey Aaron, with skilled guest musicians as Frost and Altman, the album could have become a really good record, but not by writing anti-songs and copying the annoying brutal as possible stuff from PANTERA, MACHINE HEAD.....Even if not all songs (the okay "I Used To Believe") are as terrible as the opener - in fact that's not very difficult - I condole on this album.
Heinz Konzett

(Stentorian Records)

For music like this we run Snakepit. For music like this it's worthy to support pure Metal. For music like this I am proud to be a Heavy Metal fan. SYRIS, SLAUTER XSTROYES, STYGIAN, WINTERKILL, LORDS OF MEAT members found SPIRIT WEB and created a true US Metal album. Guitarist Paul Speredes and singer Scott Huffman as the two mainmen behind the band wrote some classic US Metal pieces in the vein of old HELSTAR and very old QUEENSRYCHE ("Queen Of The Reich" times). Progressive speedy Power Metal is the name of the game, proving that with "Osiris By The Judge", "Ghostly Chill" or "Foolish Hope". Music for everyone into traditional US Metal (and I am sure most of us are). Music to deep into Metal's history, music to dream and freak out, music for the eternity.
Heinz Konzett

Made For Eternity
(AFM Records)

SWORD. Every time I hear the singer Henner the vocalist of those deceased Canadian legends comes to my mind. Their music on the third full-length blends from typical German Metal ("The Final Daylight") to thrashy sounds ("End Of The World", "Free Your Mind") and even a few PINK FLOYD parts (the beginning of the ballad "Don't Fear Your Life") , so the diversity is astonishing and even if the band has to be categorized as a traditional German Metal band, it's obvious that they want to widen up their music with more variation than most of their landmates do (GRAVE DIGGER, RUNNING WILD, etc.). For the first time, the production has major status and you can hear that the money was worth investing - it rocks. Only the sense in doing a mediocre cover version of the crappy "People Are People" is not understandable for me as well as three ballads out of ten tracks represents too much sweetness. The remaining six heavy tracks are above average teutonic Metal stuff, it's up to you if that's enough for a buy.
Heinz Konzett

Book Of The Dead
(Nuclear Blast)

With "Book Of The Dead", STEEL PROPHET returns to their roots again. Complex structures, catchy riffs and refreshing hooks fill their sound. Touches of IRON MAIDEN may still be present, but who's without influences these days. Twelve songs with a running time of forty powerful minutes fill this new CD. A masterpiece containing eight lengthy songs and four instrumental tracks. These four tracks can't too easily be seen as fillers. They enlarge the contrast between the different songs. Without these interludes, "Phobia" wouldn't sound as brutal and powerful as it does now for example. It's a killer track, which was the ultimate highlight for me on this CD, together with the ballad "Burning Into Blackness". A song in which Rick shows what a vocal talent he is. But also the switch to the part where the guitar solos come is very well done. The guitar solos of Steve Kachinsky Blakmoor in this song, are not from this planet, by the way. My God, how beautiful can Heavy Metal sound!! "Book Of The Dead" definitively has become the most mature CD of STEEL PROPHET until now. The packaging of it all (bookform) is really cool too. The book contains liner notes, lyrics, thanks lists and the story of STEEL PROPHET so far, written by Detlef Dengler of Hammer Magazine. "Book Of The Dead" is a must for all the headbangers out there that still like a piece of good old fashioned Heavy Metal, instead of the Alternative shit that we hear and read about today.
Toine van Poorten

Metal Victory
(Demo 1999)

Traditional Metal has returned with a vengeance lately and more and more bands are claiming to play it from the heart. I just wonder where they all have been before HAMMERFALL re-established this type of music. Oh well, I couldn't care less... But I always get kinda suspicious, especially when a new band comes up with way too many clichés in order to prove how "true" they are. Hamburg's STORMWARRIOR is one of those bands, image wise pretty much in the same tradition as German fellow warriors SACRED STEEL and WIZARD. Which means, you'll find a lot of "steel", "leather", "swords", "metal", "chains" etc. etc. in their lyrics and of course they also present themselves the old-fashioned way with denim & leather, spikes etc. But hey, I'm not here to judge whether they are true or not - just let the music do the talking which actually is not bad at all. There's five songs on this tape (plus a kinda average cover of RUNNING WILD's "Under Jolly Roger") and especially the guitarwork is really impressing. Imagine old cr ushing HELLOWEEN circa "Walls Of Jericho" minus the happy melodies, add RUNNING WILD's typical guitarwork and a vocalist somewhere between LIVING DEATH's Toto and WARRANT's Jörg Juraschek (but never reaching the qualities of those two). Powerful, mainly speedy Heavy Metal with a strong old feeling and several good ideas. Not great all the way through yet and with a still way too immatured sounding voice, but if you consider that these guys have an average age of 19, there's still enough time to progress. Maybe their upcoming second demo "Barbaric Steel" already knows to convince a bit more. Contact: STORMWARRIOR, c/o Lars Ramcke, Erlenweg 20, 25462 Rellingen, Germany.
Frank Stöver

The Chosen Ones
(Noise Records)

The commercial mega-sellers of the neo-classical Metal section release their last album for Noise as a kind of "Best-of" before they go to Nuclear Blast. 16 tracks of the well-known career give the listener a good overview what Timo Tolkki's band is meant to be, from "Dreamscape" of the same-titled album to "4000 Rainy Nights" from their latest output "Destiny". Any songs of the debut "Fright Night" are missed here as well as some unreleased material or special versions which would have been a good decision to make this record worth buying for the real fans. So, this record is only for people that wanna add one STRATOVARIUS album to their collection, but in this case the amazing "Live - Visions Of Europe" double cd is to prefer, there the atmosphere and the band's performance is more captivating.
Heinz Konzett

(Nuclear Blast)

8th studio album in a lengthy career for these gentlemen- who've defined symphonic/ melodic metal through the years. New label, new dolphin adorned artwork courtesy of Derek Riggs- but has anything changed musically from STRATOVARIUS? "Infinite" represents a 9 song extension into the mid-tempo minded elements- the huge choruses, the lofty hook lines and understated guitar work where Timo Tolkki reaches for the song, not the solo. "Hunting High And Low" could be the long lost twin of "S.O.S." from the "Destiny" album- with a keyboard refrain that can't shake your headspace loose. Speedier fare like the killer "Millenium" and "Freedom" gets the juices flowing nicely- just appreciate the accents and fill work from drummer Jorg Michael on these cuts. And of course the epics abound like "Mother Gaia" that travels a slower, classical type feel and the grandiose 9 minute plus "Infinity" where choirs and strings join the STRATOVARIUS camp. While I believe this album is stellar from STRATOVARIUS fans one wonders when they will try to stretch their style into new pasture- as you don't really grasp anything you haven't come to expect. You'll get melody, speedy guitar, high pitched vocals- lyrics that look towards the future and a band poised to remain firm in its love of Yngwie, HELLOWEEN and QUEENSRYCHE. It's good- I'll play it endlessly- but I wouldn't consider "Infinite" a classic.
Matt Coe

(Frontiers Records / Point Music)

Hell yes, this is it! This is the album all fans of John Sykes probably have been waiting for! STREET LEGAL is a Norwegian threepiece and their debut offering "Thunderdome" has enough class and potential to make them famous within a short period of time. You will find all necessary info on the guys in the interview section, so let me just tell you that this is well played, pro-written Hardrock with a great production and several hints of BLUE MURDER (the titletrack for instance is of the same class as 'We All Fall Down', which should already give you an idea), late WHITESNAKE and THIN LIZZY! Powerful and melodic with vocalist / bassist Björn almost sounding like John Sykes' younger brother! As guitarist Ken already mentioned in the interview, this European edition of the album has a different bonus track to the Japanese version ('Wasted Love' got replaced by 'Folly Town') and also an additional live video of the song 'Red Light District', so you better get this instead of spending a lot of money on the expens ive import (which I already had done... grrr!). Can't praise these guys enough! So, now it's up to you - go out and fuckin' buy "Thunderdome"!!!
Frank Stöver

Hallowed Be Thy Agony
(independent CD)

Wagging a war on Christianity comes the savage thrash trio from Washington called SUICIDE CULTURE. Highly inspired from CELTIC FROST (pre-Pandemonium period) and early thrash of the Bay Area (a la EXODUS/ METALLICA), I enjoy most of the furious music as it conveys a band set to explode upon the underground. The gruff vocals of guitarist Kevin Bedra may set most off from obtaining this- as they fall prey to monotone lyrical deliveries that you could life from one song into another. I like the jamming middle section of "God Forbid" that showcases an excellent rhythm tandem in bassist Greg Hartung and drummer Joshua Hanenburg. Also included is a thrashier cover of "Jewel Throne" from CELTIC FROST- adequate but I would have preferred another original over recycling classics, especially from an unknown act that's trying to gain more attention. It's not horrid- it's not exciting- "Hallowed Be Thy Agony" sits in the depths of your stomach...never really settling beyond mediocrity. Contact: Suicide Culture, PO Box 70566, Seattle, WA, 98107, USA Email: Suicide
Matt Coe

(Inside Out)

When this album started, I thought I had put on a RHAPSODY album because of the prelude track which sounds like that symphonic crap, but once the first track started, I knew it would be something else because the guys have alot to offer and it's particularly evident on this new opus. I do understand now why more and more people get into them everyday as they deserve it with their relatively inspired brand of Progressive Metal. Songs like "Communion And The Oracle", "The Bird Serpent War/ Cataclysm", "Absence Of Light" are my personal faves as they contain a good amount of feeling and technicality. These guys deserve attention because they've proven again that they have the talent and intelligence to write real songs but I hope the keyboards will be put in the back a bit more next time as guitars must dominate.
Laurent Ramadier

Truth To Promises
(Modern Music)

Ex-IVANHOE singer Andy B. Franck founded a new band and is back in business with SYMPHORCE. The DREAM THEATRE clones IVANHOE were never of my very liking, though I enjoyed their live performance, supporting ICED EARTH in 1997. Fortunately the progressive elements are nearly gone and the way leads to more easy to grasp music. Self-produced Melodic Metal in tradition of bands as old QUEENSRYCHE or more commercial VICIOUS RUMORS is delivered. Especially the heavier stuff ("Drifted" and "Circles Are Broken") offers a lot of potential, unless not all songs can hold these qualities ("Sea Of Life"). The music could be a bit more spectacular, though the astonishing vocals are to be appreciate. A new, hopeful band. Give them a listen.
Heinz Konzett

(Modern Music)

The currently released new albums by ANGEL DUST, EDGUY, DESTILLERY, METALIUM, BRAINSTORM and PARADOX (just to name a few) impressively prove that the German Metal underground is finally getting a lot stronger again. And now you also have to add SYMPHORCE to the list of new hopefuls! Well, I gotta admit that I previously didn't really care for the band as (for some strange reason) I always considered them a Prog Metal outfit. But luckily "Sinctuary" caught my attention (due to an awesome cover of the old POWERMAD classic 'Nice Dreams') and not only completely proved me wrong, but also turned me into a die hard fan of the band! Ha, these guys are far away from being another cheap DREAM THEATER clone - they perform totally crushing, hymn like Power Metal with strong melodies and lots of energy on a really high musical level! SYMPHORCE is neither another useless happy Metal nor an extremely technical act, and they can't be labeled "True Metal" either. All of their songs are really straight and catchy, but always very powerful, with great guitarwork and a pounding rhythm section. The voice of Andy B. Franck (some of you probably known through his work with IVANHOE and BRAINSTORM already) often reminds me on Mike Lee (BARREN CROSS), Bruce Dickinson or (in the higher notes) partly on Tom Gattis (ex-DEUCE / TENSION, now WARDOG). Even though the band has a keyboard player in the line-up, SYMPHORCE is a guitar dominated band in the first place and you hardly ever hear him (except for some sound fills). It's really scary, but everything just seems to fit perfectly on this album (yes, the packaging and production also lives up to the overall high musical standard), so it's highly recommend to everyone into high quality Metal outthere!
Frank Stöver