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animated torch

Monday, December 12, 2011

NEWS: Devastracktor - Warhorsepowers And A Megaton Of Balls release at 14.12

Let me just first state out that there's a free legal pre-listen session available for whole album at set up in co-operation with the band members. Be sure to check it out at here:

Pre-Listen session at (with finnish buy-link): Devastracktor (FIN) - Warhorsepowers And A Megaton Of Balls

Mind you that the page is in finnish, just scroll down the site and you'll find the player with all the songs to be listened! Finnish customers can also order the album at bottom of the page.

English customers please check here about buying the album: Warhorsepowers And A Megaton Of Balls

Album introduction

Finnish thrash metallers Devastracktor are to release their debut album "Warhorsepowers And A Megaton Of Balls" day after tomorrow - 14.12.2011. It will be released by No Sign Of Life Records.

The lyrics are mainly about war, death, destruction and science-fiction. The band plays quite powerful and speedy straight-forward vivid thrash metal, though that's not to say there wouldn't be any cool leads to fill in though, making songs also sound pretty diverse. What I personally hear is definetely some mid-late 80's Slayer and Testament - which meets 80's euro thrashmetal bands like Destruction -- blend with some heavy metal/progressive influenced riffs into the mix also. Vocals are also typical rough Bay-Area style shouts and raspy singing - not forgetting powerful backing vocals on choruses. There's some quite technical leads thrown into the mix, bit progressive even at times. This is your speedy thrash metal massacre with fair amount of melody -- definetely nodding into the old school thrash metal waters..

(No Stories to Tell - one of more "experimental" songs in the album)

Songs in the album:
  • 1. Strike Force 2099 04:16
  • 2. Megasonic Boom 03:59
  • 3. Devastracktor Battalion 04:22 Show lyrics
  • 4. No Stories to Tell 04:48
  • 5. Bring Upon the Fire 04:03
  • 6. Brutallian 03:26 Show lyrics
  • 7. I.D.G.A.S. 04:54 Show lyrics
  • 8. Interlude 02:54
  • 9. Poser Disposer 04:29 Show lyrics
  • Total Running Time - 37:11

Band Line-Up:
  • Jaakko Riihimäki - Vocals
  • Aki Järvinen - Guitar
  • Petri Salmio - Guitar
  • Joni Meriläinen - Bass
  • Kalle Salminen - Drums

Album song by song (I took freedom to translate band's original descriptions into english please butcher me now!):
  • 1. Strike Force 2099:
    • Rock solid opener that kicks straight to the balls. Thrash-song influenced by B-Class Sci-Fi movies and thousands gallons of beer.
  • 2. Megasonic Boom:
    • Tsar Bomba disguised into thrash metal form -- ripping the flesh apart, breaking bones to dust and boiling the blood.
  • 3. Devastracktor Batallion:
    • Step aside for our engines ignite, Fuelled by a million posers blood. Nuff said
  • 4. No Stories To Tell:
    • Slightly more "experimental" and more slow paced tune, with a lengthy instrumental part towards the end. Lyrics are about the horrors of war - "the horror.. the horror..".
  • 5. Bring Upon The Fire:
    • Truely sensitive song about how trigger-happy politicians cover the earth on flames, after chaos swallows civilized World.
  • 6. The Brutallian:
    • Brutallian -- the most brutal man in the world along John Matrix.
  • 7. I.D.G.A.S.:
    • Another song with lyrics and atmosphere describing war, like in "No Stories To Tell", musically having bit more progressive edge. I just Don´t Give A Shit.
  • 8. Interlude:
    • Yngie Malmsteen meets old era Metallica in shadowy alley.
  • 9. Poser Disposer:
    • Needs no introduction what's this songs about!! I have my hacksaw and they know me by the name of…

Thursday, December 8, 2011

REVIEW: Sacrifice (SWE) - Street Fighter/Innocent Victim (Single, 1985)

Sacrifice was a truly obscure heavy metal band from Sweden, only releasing this particular two-track 7" single (Street Fighter/Innocent Victum), thus never gaining much commercial success, and man is that a shame. Sacrifice were originally formed as Metal Muthas in 1984, and they released one Demo before, changing name into Sacrifice. The band played classic old school heavy metal, with quite straight forward style, but with quite melodic approach, often featured by Swedish classic heavy metal bands from the eighties, especially on the vocal department, but also on the part of lead guitars. The music, that would nowadays standards be considered bordering hard rock, was surely heavy enough to be labeled as 'heavy metal' back in the day. Surely, the music had all necessary trademarks of heavy metal: palm-muted riffing, power chords, guitar solos, biting lead guitars.

The recordings for Street Fighter/Innocent Victim were a bizarre event, well, sort of. At the time of the recordings of the single, Sacrifice had not singer in the band, at all. They entered an unknown studio in Sweden, without a singer, to record the single purely as instrumental. The producer/engineer of the studio happened to be Anders Strengberg, who knew the band members previously, and asked them "is the singer showing up later?", and the band told him, that they didn't have one in the band. The guys then asked Anders, whether he would want to do the vocals for the single, and he agreed to do them, and thus, Anders Strengberg became the singer on the "Street Fighter/Innocent Victim" single, without being an actual member of the band, per se. He nailed the vocals on one take; then mixed the album (the similar kind of chain of events happened later on in 2003, when he did vocals on Mercy album 'Victory March'; and Mercy then, according to Anders, put out the album without asking him first, so, he first heard from "a friend", that he was featured on vocals in 'Victory March'). Anders is a singer, producer, and engineer both in studio and as live shows, but has primarily worked with demos - as a side-note) (source: e-mail chat with Anders Strengberg. Thu, Jan 16th of 2014).

The musical style of Sacrifice on this single blends together quite typical classic 80's Swedish heavy metal, that often was found to be quite melodic, with, perhaps, more than averagely powerful rhythm guitar section for a Swedish band of that era. Rhythm guitar section nods towards NWOBHM movement sound, even, with that rock n' roll attitude and stomping rhythms, which can be found on 'Streetfighter' song. Especially, recognizable "power chords" are robust, but typical Swedish vivid melodies by the lead guitars can be found as a layer on top of the rhythm section, with some great shredding and solos. The atmosphere is rather a bit more mellow than all-around-heavy, because rhythm guitars do not really dominate over lead melodies, but it's rather even split. The single contains quite perfect combination of strong in-your-face rhythm section with melodic lead guitars and screaming guitar solos.

The vocals by Anders Strengberg are quite typical, all clean and wailing in style, common for Swedish bands, with soaring touch and tons of melody; yet he packs fair amount of power behind his voice. His notes do hit bit above mid range most of the time, but never really go into high pitched territory such as Halford, nor deeper than upper middle range. However, his above average pitched melodic wailing, with quite much echo effect added in, do sound great! It gives dreamy and dramatic touch to the two melodic songs. Anders Strengberg reminds a bit of Sacrifice's country-mates', Axe Witch's singer Anders Wallentoft, with occasional slight resemble of Anvil's Lips Kudrow of his early career (the wailing), but in more controlled, more mellow manner. Lightly used soft keyboards added on top of Strengberg's longing vocals bring final "acidic" touch to the sound.

Title track 'Street Fighter' has that simple and effective main riff consisting of thick power chords, certain amount of gloom added by lead melodies, and lightly used keyboards, combined with certain amount of rebellious and rocking attitude. Twin guitar attack by Thomas Lundgren and Thomas Axelsson sounds thick and powerful. This atmosphere is supported with totally killer melodic chorus, showing magic of Strengberg's wailing vocals; the best of him. The chorus is made to be echoing in your head on and on, it's very dream-like, and almost hypnotic. The song in it's core is rather simple, but has magical atmosphere built by all the instruments taking part on that not-so-complex melody. Really catchy rebellious track. Street Fighter is one of the best eighties heavy metal tracks from album single releases, that I've heard for quite some time! This is melodic Swedish heavy metal from the eighties at it's prime.

Speedier 'Innocent Victim' is that more rock'n'roll flavored track, that truly nods more towards many NWOBHM bands, yet keeping the Swedish heavy metal feeling present on the vocal department, and with the "acidic" seventies-flavored keyboards, that are quite audible on this track than on the previous. Rhythm guitars play speedy chainsaw-riffs, but they're toned down to the background for only supporting role, keeping the atmosphere, yet again, rather mellow but definitely heavy enough to be 'heavy metal'. Pounding bass line fits perfectly the tone, as well. The track includes some nice lead melodies and short solo. It also features melodic sing-along chorus, that works like magic by Strengberg's vocals:

"I got a meeting with electric chair! 

Innocent Victim - Once again. 
Innocent Victim - Who's to blame?
Innocent Victim - Once again. 
Innocent Victim - Who's to blame?"

Sacrifice's only single is a top quality offering, and what I understand, very, very rare one. Not one of those physical copies, which you can find any day now. It contains one awesome top notch track (Street Fighter), which is god damn hypnotic one, and another good track (Innocent Victim). It succeeds to be mellow and yet heavy enough at the same time, and to have that necessary kick and heaviness to be considered heavy metal. The two tracks offer quite simple song structure at their core, yet all the instruments and vocals shine, making quite basic songs sound more 'full' and 'complex', if you get what I mean. The band really mastered professional way of adding instrumental layers on top of each others, creating that melodic wall of sound. Strengberg's vocal delivery combined with acidic keyboards used to back up the songs create unique dreamy and yearning melodies, mixed with some rebellious and hard rocking attitude. All I can say is, that this little two-track single has it's own exquisite sound, and it's truly worth listening! It's a hidden gem ranked up there along with Charger's 'Desperadoes' and Virtue's 'We Stand to Fight' - another cult classics of eighties heavy metal singles.

If you like medium-heavy, melodic eighties heavy metal, with clean wailing vocals, hard rocking rhythm guitars, and melodic leads, then don't pass this one! Damn good Swedish eighties heavy metal single.

88 | reviewer: Tane Norther

  • Anders Strengberg - Vocals (note: was producer/engineer of the studio that the single recordings took the place at, not an actual band member, did the vocals for the single in one take, as the band asked, since they didn't have a singer at the time!)
    • See also: featured in: Mercy('Victory March', 2003, not an actual band member)
  • Thomas Axelsson - Guitars
    • See also: ex-Metal Muthas, ex-CRIER
  • Thomas Lundgren - Guitars
    • See also: ex-Metal Muthas, ex-CRIER
  • Mats Svensson - Bass
    • See also: ex-Methal Muthas, CRIER
  • Mikael Gustavsson - Drums
    • See also: ex-Methal Muthas, ex-CRIER
Track list:
  • 1. Street Fighter 03:45
  • 2. Innocent Victim 03:34
    • 07:19

Note: There were plans to re-release Street Fighter as a standalone song on a limited and numbered, autographed 7" white vinyl by the original band; probably featuring photos of the band from the eighties and the current day, as well as liner notes of band's history, and other niceties. There were also plans for a new record, but with an updated sound, not the eighties style, according to Anders Strenberg (source: e-mail chat with Anders Strengberg. Thu, Jan 16th of 2014). However, we're not sure if anything has progressed with these plans since then. The autographed, numbered, and limited press of the original Street Fighter song on 7" vinyl surely would be a nice collector's item!

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

sorry - not included in the book

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

REVIEW: Attakk (US) - Attakk (EP, 1989)

Attakk was american traditional heavymetal / powermetal band hailing from California. They were mainly American with one Japanese member, guitarist Hideo Inakuma. None of the members were really known of any other previous bands, except the vocalist Dave Anthony, who sung in Shire previously releasing only one EP. It's a bit surprising really, since the band and guys here have very professional and polished sound, with sharp riffs, far from garage band dirtiness or sloppiness. Yet Attakk only released only this one EP and vanished soon after.

What we have here is late 80's EP considered as traditional heavy metal, mixed with late-eighties-early-nineties powermetal, with definite US powermetal sound. Dave Anthony has kind of a more commercial powermetal-like vocals, with that melodic soaring, from medium to high pitch, and he does occasional glass breaking high screams. Anthony has slightly rougher edge when using more medium than high pitch while singing, while turning pure melodic with higher screams. The latter one is what he uses majorly. He's actually quite good for what he does, and sounds like a professional, managing not to sound whiny while singing those high notes, unlike which happens to several less skilled singers, who attempt to sing power metal with high pitched soar. Nevertheless, Anthony's has perhaps a bit too commercial tone to it.

Guitar tone is very sharp and biting, yet melodic, not really hitting the heavier notes, but is very pleasant nevertheless. Everything is pretty crystal clear in sound-mix, which amazes me a bit from a band with no previous releases. Guitar work of Hideo Inakuma is very energetic and riffs are quite vivid with loads of hooks. Solos are flowing, leads have nice melody, and rhythm section bites when the band plays heavier songs.

Drumwork of Steve Pokory is solid good work, and I like Gary Lee's audible bassplay a lot. Philip Wolfe is credited for keyboards, which shine with their absence most of the time -- and appear just slightly on background with a few songs. This doesn't really bother me though, since the atmosphere might had been overly melodic and mellow, if the keyboards would had been bring too much to front.

What are the low-points of the album? I'd say it does perhaps pack up a few too many more "commercial" sounding songs and moments, so it all depends of the mood. Attakk EP is very vivid and soaring fine heavy / powermetal, but it's not very heavy nor very authentic by style. Well,  except of Inakuma's guitar work, which is almost comparable to something like early Crimson Glory at it's best: very melodic, very catchy, with good leads. As much as I think the singer sounds professional, perhaps more "heavier" vocals could had fit better, but who knows. I think that the EP's main low-point is that occasional over-the-top mellowness that's present in songs like "Not Your Man" and "Never Apart", of which the first mentioned features almost glam-metal-like groove and the latter sounds like overly cheesy Helloween drop-out-ballad. Still the band does very good job most of the time, and this EP generally manages to slightly surprise me by quality. The overall atmosphere is more uplifting and played in "major" scale than in "minor". The main problem with the EP is "inconsistency". Should they had blasted through the whole album, since this is where the band are at their strongest, instead watering down to glam / AOR -like lightweight waters from their medium-heavy sound.

Now that we got the worst songs out of the way...

...that leaves four more songs to it, of which Without A Word is your standard keyboard backed soaring mid-tempo heavy metal song, and, well, it's decently good one too. Luckily the rest three will impress more. Opening track "Thunder In The Night" is bit faster soaring track with those "galloping" rhythm-guitars, played in more mellow powermetal-fashion than in thrashmetal for example, and magical sounding guitar leads with some acoustic guitar fills are added to the background occasionally to spice wall of sound up. A bit like early Crimson Glory, but not quite as epic, or Witch Cross' Fit For Fiight (especially "Nightflight In Tokyo"), but not quite as memorable. Ride The Dragon is more speedy and rocking heavy metal number with chugging guitars leading on the track. Almost eighties Sinner (Ger)-like rhythm guitar riffs can be found here, combined with some more complex melodic leads and shredding by Inakuma. Great chorus and guitarwork! The closing track is titled simply "Attakk!", and has acoustic guitar lead-in, which turns into sort of melodic speed/power track, being speediest moment of the album. Third very good number, and may well be the best of the album with it's most energetic atmosphere.

Very good nice little EP with some inconsistency problems, but is well recommended for any classic soaring heavy/powermetal music fans. Slightly more commercial overall sound and few lackluster songs thin down the album quality a bit, but Attakk EP has some of quite memorable guitarwork and melodies. The band is at their best when they keep glam / AOR flavor down to the minimum and play at their heaviest, where they raise into a level of heaviness comparable to Witch Cross 'Fit For Fight', or something else that's almost medium-heavy, but not quite. If you're not afraid of the high pitched vocals then you're most certainly in safe zone. A pleasant surprise and worth getting for three great songs (and one decently fine).

Rating: 81/100

Sorry - not available through Amazon or Ebay at the moment

  • Gary Lee - Bass
  • Steve Pokory - Drums
  • Hideo Inakuma - Guitars
  • Phillip Wolfe - Keyboards
  • Dave Anthony - Vocals
    • See also: ex-Shire

  • 1. Thunder in the Night 03:54 
  • 2. Without A Word 04:13
  • 3. Not Your Man 03:38
  • 4. Never Apart 04:05
  • 5. Ride the Dragon 05:12
  • 6. Attakk 03:33
    • Total Running Time - 24:35

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Sorry -.not presented in the book