To look at Gabriel and The Apocalypse, you could be forgiven for thinking they’d be a band who valued style over content, especially when taking into consideration the fact that their videos have been heralded as hugely stylish, visual feasts. An image means nothing if the material isn’t good enough to back it up; there are a lot of gothy and industrial bands out there guilty of spending far too long cultivating an image and then forgetting to invest the same kind of importance into their song writing. Luckily, that doesn’t apply here: Gabriel and The Apocalypse’s 2019 LP ‘Alpha Bionic’ was a fine work. Its ten songs fused goth, metal and industrial grooves with massive choruses and served up something almost guaranteed to please old fans of Orgy and early Disturbed, as well as offering lovers of Lacuna Coil an interesting alternative. A heavy-ish cover of Midnight Oil’s ‘Beds Are Burning’ peppered with vaguely industrial beats and retro synths added something instantly familiar to a selection of already great material.
JoeyDiabolic is a self-described “alternative musician”. At the beginning of 2021, he released an EP entitled ‘Through Soundwaves Vol 3’ where he offered covers of tracks by Anthrax, White Zombie and others, mixing heavy riffs with darkwave synth sounds and occasional gothic vocals. On the negative side, there wasn’t much about any of it you could actually call “alternative” at the time of release. However, for listeners that happened to be in their mid forties, the recordings still offered a welcome nostalgic bent. It also introduced listeners to JoeyDiabolic’s horror fixations. Aside from a tip of the hat to the mighty Rob Zombie, the EP’s self penned intro ‘Son of A Hundred Maniacs’ referenced Freddy Kruger, and it’s that Wes Craven creation that provides the heart of this follow up, released just a short while later.
It must be hard having an older brother who is more famous than you. For Powerman 5000’s Spider One – younger brother of the legendary musician and film-maker Rob Zombie – it has meant constantly playing second fiddle in the rock press. Powerman have received some absolutely scathing reviews over the years – and most of them unfair. They’ve recorded some great work. Their ‘Blood-Splat Rating System’ full length (reissued as ‘Mega! Kung Fu Radio’ with the addition of a couple of earlier EP tracks) featured some cracking songs, even if it showed signs of a band still in need of some refinement. 1999’s mega-selling ‘Tonight The Stars Revolt’ remains an alternative metal classic; its riff heavy and hook heavy style could easily go head to head against Rob’s best work, and its sci-fi obsessed lyrics really helped to give PM5K a strong identity. Had the follow up ‘Anyone For Doomsday?’ not been pulled from release at the eleventh hour, the band’s quest for world domination would have been assured, but with shifting line-ups and varying musical styles dominating the next couple of releases, Powerman became very much more of a cult band.
Nuclear Winter isn’t a band, but the work of just one man. Even with the usage of programmed drums throughout his 2020 release ‘StormScapes’, Zimbabwean metal musician Gary Stautmeister creates as much intensity as a full compliment of musicians. He’s also been smart enough to program those drums in such a way that they never grate, or worse, make his recordings sound cheap. By using them in a way that creates a genuine mechanical tension, it gives this EP the kind of edge you’d find from an extreme industrial band, or perhaps a technical death metal act that are over keen on the use of bass drum triggers.
On this EP, Israel’s Nihilistic Legion shows how much noise a one-man band can make. Playing absolutely everything, the mysteriously named Tohu fuses classic death metal sounds with a touches of grindcore and other extremities to create something incredibly forceful. The five songs – four originals and one cover – shows off an artist whom has utter conviction in his art, but production wise, these tracks aren’t necessarily shown at their best. In fact, the chosen mix is so claustrophobic and abrasive in places, it can be rather hard to pick out the finer points of the sound. It doesn’t make for especially easy listening…but maybe that’s deliberate.