Formed in 2010, Helsinki based rockers Damage Limit spent six years plying their trade on the live circuit and released a couple of demo EPs before taking the plunge and entering the studio to record their first professional release. The years of stage toil and sweat shows, too, since ‘Crank’ has an edge that very much sounds like the work of a hard-driving live act. Throughout the seven tracks, the riffs come thick and fast – aided by a reasonable crunch, too – and some of the hooks not only feel like they’ve been honed not just in front of an audience, but created very much with that audience in mind; a more than reasonable translation from stage to disc.
Despite claiming to draw influences from early Queen, ELO and Genesis, on their 2015 LP ‘Beth Out of Hell‘, The Murder of My Sweet came across as a really overbearing, second rate Nightwish. The album introduced listeners to a concept about a love affair between good and evil; a theatrical narrative made the material harder to digest than it already would have been…and in terms of both good taste and sanity, a children’s choir was the final straw. In short, ‘Beth Out of Hell’ was an egotistical, bloated effort that once heard (and once was enough) had the potential to cause long term mental trauma.
Originally featuring members from the Ukraine and Hungary, NordWitch formed at the beginning of 2015. Although firmly selling themselves as blackened death metal, it’s only ever really frontwoman Masha’s vocal style that holds them to that, since so many of the tunes on their debut ‘Mørk Profeti’ have more variety than your average blackened death band. For starters, none of this release is blighted by the cold sheets of sound so often associated with black metal; the band much prefer to concentrate on classic contemporary death styles, but take things further by mixing those traditions with the melodicism associated with early In Flames and the more extreme elements of Soilwork.
Having released a string of albums in the 90s and subsequently retreated from performance into the world of song writing, Swedish rock singer Erika Norberg marked the end of an eighteen year recording hiatus with the release of 2016’s ‘Deaf, Dumb & Blonde’. There’s always a lot riding upon a performer’s return…but on the basis of these dozen hard rock tracks, she probably shouldn’t have bothered.
Back in the 90s when progressive metal was very much still a niche genre as opposed to a dominant force within prog music, Symphony X and Eldritch were at the more extreme end of the scale. Eldritch’s 1997 outing ‘Headquake’ in particular, was very much a headcrusher in places, with the band’s blend of prog metal and power metal taken to extremes. Ensight brings together ex-Eldritch keysman Gabriele Casale, drummer Raffahell Dridge and ex-Fallen Angel vocalist Antonio Cannolletta, in a union which works exceptionally well indeed. The eight songs (plus intro) on this debut album should appeal to ardent fans of Symphony X, Aeon Zen and Silent Call, as well as potentially appealing those open to some very technical and rather heavy riffing.