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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sarcofagus' new album Back From The Valley Of The Kings available as digital copy, CD for pre-order

Finnish veteran heavy metal band Sarcofagus has announced their release and selling plan for their just released, self-published album "Back From The Valley Of The Kings", which has re-recordings of 12 of their original songs plus one new track, plus four "extra tracks" - seventeen songs altogether. Quite definite collection and presentation of the band's current state. The album is Sarcofagus' second album in the new millennium, a follow-up for Core Values (2007), and is available from their own website. As for now, digital download copy is out for price of £8. Physical copies are coming out on September/October, according to band's main man Kimmo Kuusniemi, and are now available for pre-order, along with direct access to the digital copy. Limited edition CD record is priced at £15 and CD+DVD set for £20, along with some higher tiers with some additional prizes (see the website). DVD will feature audiovisual presentation of the album by artistically talented Kuusniemi & co.

"I prefer to have total creative freedom to do these CD and CD/DVD my way rather than having to negotiate with a record label. [...] Working on this Sarcofagus "Back From The Valley Of The Kings" project has been a a chance for me to create something unconventional. This is why I want to do this directly with you, the people who like Sarcofagus and have been telling me how our songs have influenced you"  (Kimmo Kuusniemi, Sarcofagus official website.

Sarcofagus is, perhaps, the first Finnish pure heavy metal band, along with some other early groups such as OZ, Iron Cross, Zero Nine. Sarcofagus was formed in 1977, taking influences of early heavy metal and, in my opinion, from progressive seventies rock too. Where many of Sarcofagus' Finnish country-mates played more straight-forward style of music, and more rock-oriented, the band developed their own unique, rather doom-laden but crisp sound with rather acid-tastic keyboards and weird surreal illustration in their music. The band surely wasn't one of the most straight-forward and least creative units around! Yet they had seemingly made better impact outside Finland, than in their home country, weirdly enough, remaining quite unknown in Finland. While they may have drawn influences from heavier, darker, seventies bands such as Black Sabbath, Sarcofagus certainly put their own twist into things, and were one of the most unique sounding bands around, releasing three full-length albums between the early and mid-eighties, Cycle Of Life, Envoy of Death and Moottorilinnut (although, one single dates as far as 1978 or 1979, if I don't remember all wrong), of which the last one was released under another band name due legal issues (as Kimmo Kuusniemi Band).

Back From The Valley Of The Kings physical copies (CD and CD/DVD) will be only available as pre-order through the band's website and will not be sold anywhere else later on. The band, according to Kimmo Kuusniemi, aimed to achieve a eighties rooted sound and "live" feeling in this album. Judge by yourselves!

The special DVD includes "a full film" that features the thirteen songs form the album, being some sort of a musical and visual presentation of the album. Kuusniemi describes the film included in DVD version such as this:

"The Film, as you would expect from Sarcofagus, will be something different and surreal! In the video we also return to the original occult, magical and Egyptian world where the Sarcofagus started! I am making the 13 music films (assumption: each music film is about one song) to depict what I had in mind while making the songs in the 80s"  (Kimmo Kuusniemi, Sarcofagus official website.

In glory of Back From The Valley Of The Kings and it's upcoming DVD addon, the band has released a following taster-movie, consisting of an intro spoken by Kuusniemi (philosophy behind the album), as well as of five tracks with filmed illustration. See this mystic film below!

Back From The Valley Of The Kings consist of following line-up:
  • Kimmo Kuusniemi (Guitar) (1978- Present Day) 
  • Jukka Ritari (Vocals) (Moottorilinnut album 1982)
  • Tanja Katinka Karttunen (Vocals) (1996- Present ) 
  • Esa Kotilainen (Keyboards) (1980- Present Day) 
  • Juha Kiminki (Bass) (1978- Present Day) 
  • Anssi Nykänen (Drums) (2010- Present Day)

With a following track-list of re-recorded songs (along with the mention of which album they were originally played on):

1st Single A Side
  • Go To Hell

From “Envoy of Death”
  • Stolen Salvation
  • Insane Rebels 
  • Wheels of Destruction 

From “Cycle of Life”
  • Subconscious Penetrating 
  • Astral Flyer 
  • Here I Am
  • Eternal Silence
  • Back To Black

From “Moottorilinnut”
  • Talo  
  • Metallinen Sateenkaari  
  • 1000 Megawatin Totuus 

 From “Core Values”
  • 2nd Coming 

  • Envoy Of Death (Envoy...)
  • Die To Win  (Envoy...)
  • Deadly Game  (Envoy...)
  • Return From The Valley Of The Kings (New Song)

For more information about the release, visit Sarcofagus website. |  dungeoncrawler

Saturday, August 24, 2013

REVIEW: Vampyr (GER) - Cry Out For Metal (1985)


It's been quite a while since the last written review. Lately, I've been fleshing out some of the years old reviews, as my English has got slightly better during the years (tolerable, I hope!), trying my best to make reviews understandable, even though I know that my English as my second, no, actually third language isn't close to perfect. Still many old reviews to go. However, here's also a totally new one, so lets go!

I dug up this Vampyr CD from under a rather large pile of records. This full length album which was released back in 1985, called 'Cry Out For Metal', is the band's only official release up to date. The album was later on re-released by Stormspell Records in CD format, which is the version I'm holding in my hands right now. The band has quite close ties to German band 'Tyrant', as guitarist Ralf Hollmer departured from Tyrant around 1983-1984 and joined forces with Tyrant's local support band in city of Ulm, Germany, where two Stertzik brothers played. The support act's name, now also featuring Hollmer, was then changed to 'Alcent' and within a year or so to 'Vampyr'.

Vampyr played quite standard sounding German heavy / speed metal and were known of their outrageously lengthy spiked leather outfits, which the guys built up and created in their garage by themselves. The evil illustration and image wasn't meant to be taken seriously, though:

"we didn't see this image too serious. The whole thing was intended to be seen as let's say 'happy metal'" (Ralf Hollmer interview. Vampyr 'Cry Out For Metal' booklet by Stormspell Records.)

This was rather common approach by several German bands in the eighties who wanted to play for fun, rather than being seriously into satanism. Evil and rebellious image was most likely brought up in favor of flashy stage-shows and for entertaining lyrics.

The review

"If you ain't enslaved to the will of the Vampyr,
You are condemned to live your unreal cruelty life,
As a subject in a kingdom, which is ruled by the prince of the night

Follow me..."

A cheesy spoken prologue called Oath leads us into the album... on that minute you know that this album isn't to be taken seriously by it's lyrics. Loosen up your ties and enjoy the German cheesiness! That's not to be said negatively, either. Cheesy evil lyrics are often fun to listen to, if they're meant to be less serious and cheesy, like in the case with 'Cry Out For Metal'.

'Cry Out For Metal' does feature very pleasant sound mix and production. It's almost the best feature of the album, while the music itself is very standard German eighties heavy metal combined with some speed metal and rather brutal guitar tone. Hollmer described the music to be meant as 'happy metal' in the interview, but I don't think he quite meant it as such per se. Sure, evil image and satanic parts of the lyrics are seen in cheesy and just-for-fun light, but the sound of the album isn't actually quite close to "happy" in terms of Helloween's Walls of Jericho for example.

Guitar sound is actually quite brutal, featuring quite much treble and distortion, being almost thrashy (but not played in such way). That combined with the great sound production makes rhythm guitars sound really powerful and ripping! This is one of the better guitar sound productions from eighties. Rhythm guitars playing speedy chainsaw riffs on fast songs and chugging power chord riffs on more slow songs are the trademark on 'Cry Out For Metal'. Guitar tone and sound really bites through your bones. Lead guitars melodies and shredding are quite minimal, however, and from standpoint of instrumental playing skills, Vampyr plays rhythm section nicely, but their lead section and solos aren't anything special really. They still get the minimum job done without sounding awkward but not really shining either. Lets just say that guitar duo Hollmer and Lubosch Sterzik can stand their ground.

Vocals of Wolfgang Schwarz are very average. He sings with very hoarse and rough voice, with occasional cleaner soaring vocals that feel bit unstable and out of place. Schwarz is like less snotty version of Grave Digger's Chris Boltendahl, or less over-the-top version of Tyrant's Kerrmit, and his German accent is very present. He's bit out of key at times, but not enough to actually ruin it. Schwarz is rather unmemorable singer, just enough to fill his spot, though, his rough style generally fits into the overall heavy sound of the band.

Drumming by Roman Sterzik is generally quite good and powerful, partly due the good production, but he also uses fills (hi-hats and cymbals) well enough to keep the drumming interesting. Also, hollow kettel-like drum-sound, along with powerful bass-drum fits generally well to the heavy sound. Bass playing is also very good, again, partly because of the fine production. Markus Maier's bottom-heavy bass lines can be well heard in the mix and they add thickness to the band's sound.

'Cry Out For Metal' is enjoyable, though not very memorable mixture of heavy metal and speed metal with strong German flavor, reminding of several bands such as their "almost-cousins" Tyrant, Heavy Metal Breakdown and Witch Hunter era Grave Digger, or perhaps Execution Guaranteed era Rage. The sound is more raw, rebellious, and rough than with your average heavy metal band from the era, but thrash metal this is not, although not partially very far from it. The album is generally broken into two different kinds of songs: for one the speedier songs such as Sinner, Indianapolis, Mercy Killing, Warrior, and Vampyr, which are mainly speed metal. Second and slightly smaller part of the album features pure heavy metal songs such as Hell Bent Angels, Metal Hymn '86 and Breaking Metal.

The album is dominated by faster material, which you would think is a good thing, but surprisingly enough the slower material is perhaps the best part of Cry Out For Metal. Vampyr sounds most solid and stable with two of the slower songs Hell Bent Angels and Breaking Metal, which are my favorites of the album. Breaking Metal is some quite brutally heavy and bone-breaking kickass stuff! It features ripping power-chord riffing by rhythm guitars, so simple yet so effective. Storming bass playing by Maier adds finishing touch. Thanks for the great heavy production this track actually shines, being simple as it is. The same applies to Hell Bent Angels, and Metal Hymn '86 continues in similar fashion, though being least memorable of the three.

Best of the faster speed metal songs are in my opinion Sinner, Indianapolis, and Mercy Killing. Sinner opens up with hammering drum-intro along with chugging guitars, that soon turns into speedy ride of good German speed metal. Lack of Schwarz's vocal skills holds the track's quality back a bit. Feel the chainsaw-riff attack on Indianapolis, another good chapter on speed metal department. Rallying Mercy Killing is also decently good speedy track, rushing on like out of control locomotive train, though not as memorable song. Speed metal number called Vampyr closes up the album, and ends it rather awkwardly. The song is far from the best material in the album, with utterly stupid lyrics:

"She a vampyr of a rock'n'roll band, she's bad as a bat, bad as a bat,
Come on, bite me, suck my blood! Come on vampyr, bite me tonight"

...of which I wouldn't even mind about, but Schwarz's lyrics are badly out of key and rhythm in this song, and he mutters out the chorus so awkwardly it's hard not to laugh. Especially, when the song features cheesy "evil laughter" interlude after this. Luckily, it's the only song where vocals totally fail. However, last song, Vampyr, leaves slightly bitter and unprofessional taste behind of the album. The band should had chosen better song for the last or perhaps cut this one out, as it's not up to par with the rest of material.


Vampyr's 'Cry Out For Metal' isnt' really reinventing the wheel, and is in danger to disappear in masses of other records of similar style. Running Wild already topped Cry Out For Metal in 1984 with their debut Gates To Purgatory on heavy/speed metal fields by far. But that's not the say Vampyr are one of the worse bands out there. The band does decent job blasting out heavy power chords and pacey chainsaw-riffs, with some not-bad-but-not-impressive-either guitar solos and lead melodies that are, rather scarce. The guitarists know their rhythm guitar section well and play solid, but lack either some playing or composing skill on lead guitar and solo department, and creativity on rhythm side to make things bit more interesting. Very average rough-edged vocalist doesn't help to raise the band above other "b-tier" bands either, while drumming and bass playing deserve a slight praise. However, Cry Out For Metal does have some standout areas. One is aforementioned fine and quite tight rhythm guitar section, but biggest of all is production and overall heavy tone of the sound ("happy metal" this is not!). The tone is almost thrashy, and this is reasonably heavy record for it's time. From technical standpoint the album is great, as the production is quite top notch for it's time and this really embraces it's the heaviness and thickness. Guitars do actually sound so fine, that it raises a few songs to another level, such as Hell Bent Angels and Breaking Metal.

Cry Out For Metal is quite average German heavy / speed metal record, that has it's high points worth checking out, especially if you're a fan of the genre and German raw sound. Fans of bands such as Tyrant, MP (Metal Priests), High Tension, and Noisehunter should enjoy this one. However, it lacks memorable lead guitars and some complexity on riff department, as well as more professional vocalist, which could had risen the band closer to a-tier bands. It isn't a bad record by any means, but not exceptionally memorable either. But it is quite fun ride if you give it a chance, and the band did have some potential, too. It's one of those records you want to give spin or few sometimes, if you end up randomly browsing the right pile of records. It has couple of bit more memorable songs too, which may pop to your head years later. Bands like Vampyr are always welcomed and interesting discoveries, so thanks for Stormspell Records bringing this out.

Stormspell CD version does also contain a full live gig a video from the same era than release of the album with nine songs, and a booklet with interview featuring guitarist Ralf Hollmer. Both are great bonuses.


After the release of 'Cry Out For Metal', Vampyr had plans for a second album. However, they fell into internal band problems between the members. Gama Records (their label) was pushing them similarly into direction they didn't want to head to. Gama demanded that most of their metal bands, including Vampyr, had to head towards heavier and faster thrash sound of Slayer, whose fame was growing rapidly. Members of Vampyr didn't want to head into thrashier direction at the time. Internal and label problems led the band to disband few years after the release of Cry Out For Metal in 1988:

"we had some material recorded on a 4-track recording, but the tape got lost somewhere, I wish I had a copy for myself. [...] I believe that we gave up with VAMPYR too early. we had achieved quite much within a short time without much effort. it's a shame that we somehow lost the drive to carry on. the second album would have been way better than the debut"  (Ralf Hollmer interview. Vampyr 'Cry Out For Metal' booklet by Stormspell Records.).

...I guess we'll never know.


(An average German heavy/speed metal record that has some high points such as great production and tight rhythm guitars, reasonably heavy for it's time)
Buy Cry Out For Metal at Amazon. | reviewer: dungeoncrawler

(Vampyr - Sinner)


  • Markus "Nil Conan" Maier - Bass
  • Roman Sterzik - Drums
  • Ralf Hollmer - Guitars
    • ex-Tyrant
  • Lubosch "Ironhead" Sterzik - Guitars
  • Wolfgang Schwarz - Vocals

  • 1. Oath (Intro) 00:43  
  • 2. Sinner 04:53  
  • 3. Indianapolis 03:42
  • 4. Hell Bent Angels 03:42  
  • 5. Scytherman 02:58
  • 6. Mercy Killing 03:40  
  • 7. Metal Hymn '86 04:49  
  • 8. Warrior 03:48  
  • 9. Breaking Metal 03:33   
  • 10. Vampyr 03:00
    • Total running time:  34:48

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction, my bet is that you can double them up, but be sure to also check prices from services such as Ebay, Amazon, and
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Hot Blood/941385
Type – LP/G/86
Near Mint – $18
Very Good+ - $10

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Running Wild (GER) releasing new album "Resilient" in October

German veteran heavy metal band Running Wild are going to release their a new album out of the blue in this year's October 31th 2013. The announcement came as a surprise, for me at least, this close to the release date. The album will be called "Resilient" and does consist a quite standard and lengthy amount of ten tracks (which you can view below), along with two additional exclusive tracks featured in Limited Edition of the album only. Other than the track titles, information about the album has been so far very scarce. There (to my knowledge) hasn't been announcement or confirmation about the line-up contributing to the album, or sound samples this far. Yet Resilient is only two and half months away from final release date. The album is already available for pre-ordering in and in standard and ltd. edition, though, those who were upset (me included) with Running Wild's prior, rather poorly received album "Shadowmaker", are well advised to wait for sound samples before placing an order.

(Running Wild: Resilient, album cover)

Most likely, line-up will be the same than on website, unless it's ouf-of-date or everyone won't contribute to the recording and writing sessions. The website states following: Rolf Kaspared (guitar, vocals, writing), Peter "PJ" Jordan (guitar), Peter Pich (bass), Matthias Liebetruth (drums). Personally, I do hope less triggered, more traditional real drum sound, which would be huge improvement to the sound in my opinion!

Tracklist for "Resilient":
01. Soldiers Of Fortune
02. Resilient
03. Adventure Highway
04. The Drift
05. Desert Rose
06. Fireheart
07. Run Riot
08. Down To The Wire
09. Crystal Gold
10. Bloody Island
11. Payola & Shenanigans (Limited Edition Bonus Track)
12. Premonition (Limited Edition Bonus Track)

(A snippet of 'Bloody Island song from the album)

An actual concept of a real band with all members contributing to the records has been a bit questionable, perhaps, ever since "Rivalry" album was released in... 1998 (right?). Many fans seem to think that Running Wild as a band died after "Masquerade", or at the latest, Rivalry lineup in the late nineties, when band seemed to turn more into Rolf Kasparek's (guitarist/singer) personal project. The sound then lost some hooks and turned into rather more repetitious and monotonous. Yet records like "Victory", "The Brotherhood", and "Rogues En Vogue" in my opinion did consist some enjoyable songs, despite that I consider them being lower-tier releases by the band.

Running Wild, known formerly as Granite Heart, will be perhaps best remembered of their heavy-for-it's-time debut release "Gates To Purgatory" with speed metal influences and rather evil image, melodic heavy metal perfection of "Death Or Glory", and more of the same but more heavy and bombastic affair with "Black Hand Inn" in the mid nineties...  with dozen of fine albums ranging from the early eighties to late nineties.

Running Wild discography (only full length releases, no compilations or live recordings):
*click to see if available in
Gates to Purgatory (1984) 
Branded and Exiled (1985) 
Under Jolly Roger (1987) 
Port Royal (1988) 
Death or Glory (1989) 
Blazon Stone (1991) 
Pile of Skulls (1992) 
Black Hand Inn (1994) 
Masquerade (1995) 
The Rivalry (1998) 
Victory (2000)
The Brotherhood (2002) 
Rogues en Vogue (2005) 
Shadowmaker (2012) 
Resilient (2013) | posted: dungeoncrawler

Monday, July 22, 2013

How did I get into heavymetal?

My life began in 1984, so I wasn't there from the earliest years, but I caught up with metal on quite early age. My route into world of heavymetal was rather typical journey from more common bands into the obscure names. Both of the two "worlds" have great records existant. My first introduction to metal was when I was about seven, or eight. I liked to listen a radio secretly (my parents were not into anything heavier, were quite religious, and didn't like me listening anything that was not something of light and mainstream) and heard some old Sepultura. I cannot quite remember name of the song, but I soon figured that, while this music was something weird and different that I hadn't heard before, it sounded tempting, brutal, and I liked it.

Soon after, I went into a near mall with my father to search some C-cassettes of this band Sepultura, but they didn't have anything available. I guess they didn't sell heavy stuff a lot. There was another band that I had heard on a radio though, called Metallica, and the mall had Kill'em All in their selection, so I picked that one. My father probably didn't expect it to be anything so heavy kind of music, and luckily didn't check out that cover-artwork, but once he heard it when I listened the tape, he didn't like it - feeling it was inappropriate music for me -  and thus didn't like me listening this heavy stuff. However, I listened this mostly when my parents were away. Kill'em All was a blast back then.

(My first recordings ever, still have them)

I then remember acquiring also C-cassettes of Metallica's "Master Of Puppets" and "Ride The Lightning". Those were some great records also! Still are. Somehow I persuaded  my parents to give me money for the cassettes. Those were from the era when Metallica didn't suck (in my opinion, anyway). I was eight or nine of age at the time. My friend pirated me "Black Album", it was different, but I liked it, sort of... My next introductions to world of heavy metal were by my memory Iron Maiden and Megadeth. That's pretty logical, since internet hadn't still made it through, Finnish radio stations didn't play that much heavy metal, and stores sold only the most common stuff. Luckily some common bands were rather good, and I'm glad I discovered these bands.

The albums of discovering Maiden and Megadeth weren't the most perfect, however. I got Youthanasia right off when it was released. It's decently good still these days, I think. But, not perhaps the best Megadeth album to start with. I still remember recording "Making of Youthanasia" or something like that on VHS tape and watching it over and over again. It was cool. Of Maiden albums, my first one was X-Factor on cassette. It's okay of an album, but definitely not the best album to introduce oneself with the band either. My second Maiden album was Virtual XI by the way, and perhaps that's why my relation towards Maiden wasn't never really as warm it probably should be. And guess what? Metallica was coming out with Load and Re-Load albums. The moment I heard Load first time was also the last of Metallica I would listen in over a decade or so (until returning to old classics long time afterwards). I was so totally upset felt like seeking something new.

Then, it took me several years without discovering and expanding my musical taste and knowledge of heavy metal any deeper. The thing that took me by storm was when internet broke the limits of discovering new music after mid- to late nineties. I think it was probably around 1996-1997 when we got fast internet connection enough to our house (I was still living at parents) to download single mp3 songs from internet. There were couple of good websites, illegal of course, which allowed a few full tracks per album for users to get a clue about the band's music. I liked it this way. Needless to say those websites went down later on due legal issues. But I discovered tons of new bands, which led me to buy several actual albums. That's why I feel that music sharing online to a certain point is win-win situation for musicians as well as for the fans! Youtube and streaming-services alike were still unavailable at this point, naturally.

My newest discoveries included at least Rage (GER), Grave Digger, Sinner (GER), Testament, Armored Saint, Annihilator, Judas Priest, Saxon, W.A.S.P., Motörhead, Accept and several more! All of those bands I still enjoy up to this day, although my love for Grave Digger has faded quite a bit since then, heh. Judas Priest's Metalworks-compilation was cool introduction to the band, and I still remember getting Rage's "Trapped!" for Christmas present, cranking hell out of it and thinking it had to be one of the best albums I've heard! But, the biggest of them all and yet unmentioned one was German traditional heavymetal / powermetal band Running Wild. That is THE band that changed my life (musically), along the early Metallica, of course. While I heard Running Wild the first time, I instantly had feeling that this is some of the coolest stuff I've ever heard. It topped everything previous at the time. A band that was very stable ass-kicker, whether it was an album from 80s or 90s, with rather raw power and energy, simple but effective riffs, mixed with slight powermetal mellowness and rougher edge vocals. That was --great -- that was true German steel. Running Wild was the first band of which whole discography I bought (now up until Rogues En Vogue). Sadly the newest, Shadowmaker, is rather poor and lifeless. Anything from Gates To Purgatory to Masquerade simply kicks ass.

Those late nineties discoveries were actually the stuff that got me hooked to metal for good. Sure, I had the initial touch with Metallica, Sepultura, Megadeth, and Maiden before this era, but the aforementioned bands discovered after mid-nineties made me a metalhead. Those were also the bands which led me wanting more and got me seeking new heavymetal bands, eventually leading into also more obscure discoveries that I know today, such as Swedish Gotham City and Heavy Load, Polish KAT, British Battleaxe and Overdrive, or Canadian Sacred Blade and Finnish OZ for example. Overall I do enjoy several heavymetal sub-genres, from traditional to thrash, and slightly also doom, death and early blackmetal, where my knowledge is more limited. I am majorly 80s favoring metalhead. I also enjoy a bit of a hardrock, and even some non-metal in small amounts.

Now, if I had to pick the three most influential heavy metal records in my personal life for me ever, they would be:

1. Running Wild - Death or Glory
Running Wild was THE band that got me hooked on metal and made me expand my musical knowledge on the whole genre. This is one hell of a heavy / powermetal album. Pure perfection of German steel!

2. Metallica - Kill'em All
Nostalgic album for me, since it was the first heavymetal album (sub-genre was thrash of course) and an album in general that I ever owned. Besides of that, the album also has a great raw and rather unpolished "whipping" guitar tone that fits perfectly creating brutal atmosphere. That palm-mute! In my opinion this is the greatest Metallica album so far. Surely not the most mature.. but who cares? Those were the times when Metallica was still true to thrash. I picked this album, even while I got so upset in the nineties with Metallica and their new releases, that I entirely lost interest to listen the band for over a decade. Still, Kill'em All contains great memories.

3. TANK - Honour & Blood
There's tons of competition for the third spot. However, I found perfection for a sound I was looking for with TANK, and especially it all comes together with Honour And Blood album. This is heavy and raw, bit in Motörhead-like fashion, but definitely not a clone. There's no single thing I dislike in the album or in the sound of Honour And Blood. Guitar solos are awesome, not in Yngwie Malmsteen-like technical fashion, but due some of the most memorable melodies, and rhythm guitars, Algy's vocals, and heavy drums crush like.. well, a fully armed battle-tank.

(Just listen to this great TANK song from Honour & Blood album)

Now feel free to share your story by posting here, or feel free to join our newly formed forums and posting it there, to introduction-topic for example. :-) | dungeoncrawler

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Jeff Ulmer (ex- Sacred Blade / Othyrworld) has died - paying my respects

I just recently learned, that former Canadian power/prog heavy metal band member of Sacred Blade, Jeff Ulmer, has died after having a stroke in March 22 of 2013, a few months back from now. Jeff Ulmer's sister Jennifer posted a note on Facebook shortly after the death:
"You'll be missed terribly, brother Jeff. We'll keep your memory alive forever in our hearts, in those quiet moments. With friends it will be with stories, laughter and tears, and with music, of course."

(Jeff Ulmer)

I'd like to dedicate this post for Jeff Ulmer and Sacred Blade, as the band was one of those rather obscure bands which really had the playing talent and unique melodies on their music, especially since having the creative Ulmer leading the band, who wrote large amount of the songs, played the lead guitar, and later on after the first album also played bass and keyboards. Jeff was knowingly never involved in any other heavy metal band than Sacred Blade, and later on Othyrworld, which, in fact, is Sacred Blade under another name. Othyrworld may as well be considered to be Jeff Ulmer's solo-career name for Sacred Blade, as he basically continued re-recording some previous and unreleased Sacred Blade songs under the new band name, performing all of the instruments alone, except the drumming, that is.

Jeff Ulmer passed away in 2013 after having a stroke. Rest in piece, Jeff. Your music may inspire us few who enjoy and respect it.

Read also: 
REVIEW: Sacred Blade (CAN) - Of The Sun + Moon (1986, remastered), by (Thursday, March 18, 2010). | Tane Norther

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Personal post - Summer of 2013

It's been a while I've written this blog, but I intend to do it and return writing some reviews. It's been quite hectic year. As you may have noted, forums are down due inactivity of the usage (they shut down automatically), but I will be setting up new forums soon.

First and foremost, I lost my job recently, so it will be one god damn money-less Summer of 2013, but looking the bright side of it, the job was provision-salary based one with almost literally no pay and no free-time, so what's the gain? I'd like to make a few bucks if I'm to be tied to a job 6 days a week with readiness to be called to the work at evenings while days will be at office anyway. I hope to find a new one soon.

What's the bright side? Well, there's some time for myself at the moment and so I have managed to start exercising at gym, running now nine months in row and counting. Physically I feel the best shape I've been so far, perhaps ever, in my life. But, there's still long distance to go as I know I'm yet at the very beginning. I've found right mentality to exercise, though, and it's always nice to see you're able to kick your lazy ass.

...but one thing that always remain is my passion towards heavy metal music! Throughout the first half of the year 2013 I've been hunting cheap used records after the long gap when I didn't really buy much albums. I've been hunting CDs mainly, because at this stage I feel like I want to save in shipment costs ;-)

Here's some stuff I've bargained this year (and hopefully I didn't forget any), and as you can see while it's mainly older 80s heavy metal, there's some variation also like early 90s black metal albums:

  1. Abysmal - The Pillorian Age (Norwegian early black, only full length release '95)
  2. Afterworld - Dark Side of Mind (Finnish power from '99, got it cheap)
  3. Alien Force - Hell and High Water (fine danish nwobhm flavored heavy '85 (Karthago reissue))
  4. Amorphis - Tales From The Thousand Lakes (Finnish quite famous death/doom '94)
  5. Ancient Rites - Dim Carcosa (great folk flavored black metal '01)
  6. Blaze - Silicon Messiah (Blaze Bailey, strong debut)
  7. Bloodlust - Guilty As Sin (fine speed metal from US, if Omen went for speedier and thrashier approach.. not sure if boot? '85 (Old Metal Rec.))
  8. Brainstorm - Unholy (great album from rather average German heavy/power metal band '98)
  9. Bullet - Heading For The Top (Swedish AC/DC from 2000s, not bad)
  10. Christ Agony - Darkside (Polish black metal, unique melodies but letdown album '97)
  11. Death SS - ..In Death of Steve Sylvester (good Italian "horror heavy metal" drawing influences from several genres '88 (Lucifer Rising Rec. reissue))
  12. Gravestone - Back To Attack (band photos aside, decently good cheesy German heavy metal, speedy, melodic and fun! '85)
  13. Hades - The Dawn of The Dying Sun (fine Norwegian black metal from '97, heavy and thick!)
  14. Holy Moses - Disorder of The Order (German female fronted thrash, positive surprise of an album! '02)
  15. Lefay - Symhony of The Damned - Re-Symhonized (re-recording of the original album, fine Swedish heavy/power with a bit darker sound '99)
  16. Lions Breed - Damn The Night (average but enjoyable German trad. heavy metal, some members formed Scanner, '85, Cult Metal Classics reissue)
  17. Manilla Road - Crystal Logic (top notch US epic heavy metal with power and doom influences '83, Iron Glory Rec. reissue)
  18. Master's Hammer - Slagry (Czech quality black metal band, don't know what to think about the album though, weird record, is this any form of metal? '95)
  19. Nuclear Assault - Something Wicked (quality US thrash band, decent album, not their best '93)
  20. Nuclear Assault - Out of Order (quality US thrash band, rather average release '91)
  21. Opera IX - Sacro Culto (folk-ish black metal from Italy, quite unique! '85)
  22. Overdrive - Swords and Axes (quality Swedish melodic heavy metal from '84, 2nd rel., Metal for Muthas/High Vaultage reissue)
  23. Pantera - I Am The Night (Bootleg, needs no introduction though, pre-groove-era Pantera, hell, even pre-thrash '85)
  24. Riot - Thundersteel (real soaring, powerful and speedy US heavy metal with influences of speed and power, great stuff! '88)
  25. Sabbat - Dreamweaver (didn't listen the 2nd release yet, but expecting more than HoTtC has to offer! '89)
  26. Sabbat - History of a Time to Come (RAW and powerful blackened thrash metal from UK with good melodies '88, Martin Walkyier went to create Skyclad after this)
  27. Sarcofagus - Cycle of Life (god fathers of the Finnish doom metal! Good stuff. '80!)
  28. Savage Steel - Begins With a Nightmare (very average speedy power/thrash from Canada '87, numbered edition #360 (but what's pressing amount?) New Renaissance rec.)
  29. Steel Vengeance - Call of The Dogs (decent US trad. heavy metal plagued with quite bad sound quality, '85 debut, BDCD058 '96 reissue Black Dragon Records France, legit?)
  30. Stigmata - The Court of Eternity (aka Stygma IV, killer power/prog from Austria '98)
  31. Thor - Live in Detroit (aka Jon Mikl Thor, quality Canadian cheesy and rocking heavy/power '85, Ektro reissue)
  32. Thor - Only The Strong (aka Jon Mikl Thor, quality Canadian cheesy and rocking heavy/power '85, Ektro reissue)
  33. Torment - Not Dead Yet (German thrash, haven't listened yet '98)
  34. Toxik - Think This (top notch technical speed/trash from US with high pitched vocals and insane melodies '87)
  35. Toxik - World Circus (top notch technical speed/trash from US with high pitched vocals and insane melodies '89)
  36. Ulver - Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler (journey of an album, folk-influenced Norwegian black metal '95)
  37. Vampyr - Cry Out For Metal (decent German heavy/speed release with phenomenal guitar sound and tone, has rough atmoshpere like Tyrant (GER))
  38. Vicious Rumors - Digital Dictator (quality US heavy/powermetal with top notch solos and soaring vocals, powerful! '88, recent reissue by Shrapnel Rec.)
  39. Vicious Rumors - Soldiers of The Night (great debut of this US heavy/powermetal band with top notch solos and soaring vocals '85, recent reissue by Shrapnel Rec.)
  40. Witch - Damnation (compilation of US Witch of L.A., average but interesting to check out, glam-influenced heavy metal bit like WASP)

The Lot of the first half of 2013!

While I haven't fully listened "the lot" yet, I can say that some of my definite favorites of it are the two Vicious Rumors albums, which, although have no real booklets with lyrics, are well remastered by Shrapnel Records few years back! Other than that, I finally managed to get legit copy of Manilla Road's epic Crystal Logic which kicks ass. Mainly good lot of the year 2013 so far, with a few let-downs, too.

You may wonder, why did I buy some average albums, knowing that they're average? Why some albums at that list are worst of the band like Nuclear Assault CDs for example (oh wait, Third World Genocide is a disaster compared to those) above? Or perhaps Christ Agony's "plodder"?

Well, I like many kinds of different releases. I may go for lesser releases of the band for example if I can hunt the down for cheap and they are out of print for instance! In addition, some of the very minor bands and their old releases interest me very much! Even if the album was plain average. Plus it would be fun to review them honestly as I can. CD reissues of old albums are always nice, as long as they are official and no bootlegs.

So you see Pantera's I am The Night CD there on the list. Why the hell, that's bootleg? I fell for a scam. Heh. As I was in haste I browsed auction house and saw the release sitting there, "wow, Pantera's pre-trash era CD, they must have been reissuing it recently". Of course few minutes later after successfully bidding and winning it, I realized that hell, it's never been reissued on CD , "oh wait...". Well, we all collectors make mistakes sometimes. Bootlegs are sadly very common today. You're not safe even with vinyls, if you bargain online. Many of us have them even without knowing in our collections.

What's wrong with boots you may ask? Well, for starters bootlegs are most often straight copies of worn-out Vinyl records ripped into the CD by someone with cheap equipment, versus an official release made of original high quality master tapes. Secondly, bands do not get paid for bootlegs, because they are not authorized by the band by any contract. That's reason enough not to support them. And thirdly, bootlegs rarely have or hold any value, which you might be interested in if you're a collector. Exception, however, might be if the record was never ever reissued again after decades old release and you wanted just to have a way to listening it, even with crappy bootleg quality. In addition, I find no harm on downloading an hard-to-find album, and buying it later when you come across the record.

The best ways to avoid bootlegs would be checking services like or (and additional info of the certain album) for starters. Although they are not 100% reliable sources either always, they are amongst some of the best quick sources we can use to see if the release is legit. Secondly, you can always find your way into heavy metal collectors circles where there are several people who might been collecting for a long time and have some useful tips!

Have a great heavy metal Summer of 2013! | dungeoncrawler

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The second coming of Satan (UK) - new album Life Sentence out 29th April

New Wave of British Heavy Metal legends Satan from Newcastle are about to release their first full-length album under the banner of Satan in 26 years, ever since their previous Suspended Sentence came out in 1987. That's long break for the band members from recording trademark riffs of once great Satan. Of course, the band members remained active between this long period releasing a couple of memorable heavy metal albums under another band name with slightly thrashier style, and afterwards doing gigs under banner of Satan in 2000s.

The upcoming album is called 'Life Sentence' and will be released tomorrow, 29th or April 2013, by a record label called Listenable Records. The record will feature a complete line-up from Satan's first full-length album Court In The Act:

  • Brian Ross Vocals 
  • Steve Ramsey Guitars 
  • Russ Tippins Guitars 
  • Graeme English Bass 
  • Sean Taylor Drums

You can order the album from Listenable Records store
Satan - Life Sentence - Listenable Records Store
or from
Satan - Life Sentence -

(The new album cover art)

Also if you want to preview the album, there's currently a listening session up exclusively on Terrorizer Magazine. Check it out!

Satan and N.W.O.B.H.M. ?

Ever since from 1979 (most accurately) when Punk and Classic Heavy Metal together formed new musical 'direction' in United Kingdom, a movement or genre (which ever you prefer), called N.W.O.B.H.M. (New Wave of British Heavy Metal), the newborn genre that spawned out hundreds of bands out in UK between years of 1979-1985. A few releases later than that might even be considered to belong in the genre.

Most of the bands remained obscure releasing only few demos or 7" vinyl record, or perhaps one full album at the tops. A few bands managed to raise into popularity, of which the most known ones are Iron Maiden, Def Leppard... and perhaps followed with Tygers of Pan Tang, Angel Witch and Saxon.

Few of the bands that gained some reputation but didn't belong among the most popular ones, were for example Blitzkrieg, Cloven Hoof, Avenger...

Among those semi-popular bands in NWOBHM also stood Satan from Newcastle UK, formed in the first years of NWOBHM in 1979. Satan had all elements to stardom I believe, but they never broke through like Iron Maiden, while still highly respected band in old-school adoring heavy metal circles. Satan had memorable singer, Brian Ross (joined Blitzkrieg in 1985), who could match clean vocal range strength of Bruce Dickinson, and they also had powerful guitars playing out strong lead melodies in comparison with Maiden, but adding mode technical approach and even trashy edge at times to the mix. Satan was certainly one of those of the heavier ones among NWOBHM bands, who managed to mix catchy melodies with raw power and speed. Despite their name which could create image of some sort of totally brutal extreme metal, Satan was not heavy in the ways of extreme metal such as pure thrash or death metal. But in terms of NWOBHM, they were on the heavier edge. Not quite as raw and rough as Venom or TANK, though, but coming out with more insane melodies.

(Court In The Act album cover)

After four years of rehearsing and releasing demos (two of them and one single) between 1979-1982, Satan released two full length albums: Court in The Act (1983) and Suspended Sentence (1987, different vocalist called Michael Jackson -- no, not the one!), and one oddity of an album under different band name called Blind Fury in 1985 which was titled as Out Of Reach (with Lou Taylor in vocals). Both Satan albums and the one under name Blind Fury are definitely releases that you should check out if you like British 80s heavy metal or any bands mentioned so far.

After returning as Satan in 1987 and releasing Suspended Sentence, guitarists Tippins and Ramsey decided to change name once again into Pariah. Perhaps reason for the name change was changes in musical direction. Pariah took the band into more thrashy direction, whereas you could still hear the classic NWOBHM elements in the melodies. It was thrash with melodic touch inherited from their past works. Albums The Kindred and Blaze Of Obscurity were release in 1988 and 1989 with their most recent vocalist from Satan, Michael Jackson behind the mic -- after this a decade long break occurred (at which point another of the guitarists Steve Ramsey along with the bassist Graeme English went to form folk metal band Skyclad) and then third Pariah album Unity in came out 1998 with "new" drummer (Ian McCormack from 1982 Satan demo, ex-Battleaxe) and vocalist (Alan Hunter from Tysondog). Rest of the previous line-up remained intact, however. The last Pariah album was never that greatly received, but was considered rather mediocre.

After this Pariah name was buried and the band returned to the stage doing gigs with a live-lineup consisting original vocalist Brian Ross and original guitarist Russ Tippins. From original line-up also Sean Taylor was featured on drums and Graeme English on bass. It was not many years until second formed guitarist Steve Ramsey decided to join the newly formed Satan line-up too. Now after over a decade of doing gigs Satan is coming out with the new album 'Life Sentence' featuring original line-up from the first full length record Court in The Act! | poster: dungeoncrawler