GATEKEEPER – Grey Maiden EP

Metal has gone through various different fashions over the decades. No longer just typified by the big vocals and studs ‘n’ leather of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, it has taken in different influences and spawned several subgenres, with each giving a very different listening experience. Very little of this seems to have been noticed by Canada’s Gatekeeper, whose debut album ‘East of Sun’ relied heavily on some very 80s riffs and the lyrical themes of an old Helloween LP.

Offering a couple of new recordings alongside an acoustic re-working of an old favourite and an obscure cover tune, their 2019 EP ‘Grey Maiden’ is similarly rooted within the 80s and although incredibly old fashioned in style, this four tracker is actually great at what it does. For those whom enjoyed the previous LP, it’ll be a more than welcome stop-gap.

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PINK COCOON – Alienation

For the purposes of this studio recording, Montreal’s Pink Cocoon isn’t a band, but the work of multi-instrumentalist Zolla Marc. He’s a man who cites a fairly diverse selection of rock and blues acts among his influences, ranging from the predictable Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard, to the more unexpected – quite often, metal based performers won’t take time out to praise Robin Trower, especially when praise for Hendrix seems likely to get more attention. He also name-checks The Distillers and The Pretty Reckless among bands who’ve helped shape his playing and sound. For most stoner practitioners, the musical sphere starts with the first four Sabbath albums, moves into Hawkwind and then goes back to Sabbath’s ‘Never Say Die’…y’know, for variety, so while you’d be hard pushed to hear the influence from Brodie Dall or Taylor Momsen on this debut release, it’s still thrilling to know Zolla isn’t stuck in a musical rut.

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OUTTACONTROLLER – No Echo EP

Having previously regaled the world with tales of TV Zombies, R. Stevie Moore and Pizza on their ‘Television Echo’ LP in 2015, Canada’s Outtacontroller begin 2018 on a similarly energised and fuzzed out wave with four more more songs of trashy debauchery.

Although comprised of recordings made at a brand new session, thematically speaking, there’s common ground covered on their ‘No Echo’ EP, since ‘Prime Time’ echoes their love of TV and ‘Something Wild’ hints at a band who believe firmly in the old Spinal Tap maxim “have a good time, all the time”. There may only be ten minutes’ worth of new music here, but this disc represents quality over quantity.

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BRUTAL YOUTH – Sanguine

Hailing from Toronto (via St. Johns, Newfoundland), Brutal Youth have shared stages with Sick of It All, Descendents and old-school UK shouters Cock Sparrer. This third release – mixed by the legendary Mass Giorgini – captures their aggressive and insanely focused sound on a studio disc without losing too much of the intensity you’d expect from a great live set. With a sound that fuses hardcore roots with a touch of skate punk, then combines that with a distinctly Canadian edge – as per Propagandhi and Ste. Catherines – ‘Sanguine’ is one hell of a punk record.

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