TONIC BREED – Fuel The Fire EP

Tonic Breed is the brainchild of Norwegian musician Patrik K. Svendsen. On the band’s previous releases, he and his band gave metal fans a whole world of technical, thrash based sounds, but with this EP, he pushes even further into the realms of heavy melody. Now a one man metal juggernaut, he plays pretty much everything on ‘Fuel The Fire’, but by roping in a few friends along the way, it results in a short blast that could just be his finest work to date.

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ABOUT US – About Us

Hailing from India, About Us play a variety of rock styles, but often centre their songs around hard edged melodic rock with proggy flourishes. Despite their desire to give AOR a kick, the proggy moments won’t be enough to win over the average prog fan, and might be a little distracting for the melodic rock purist. However, if you’re able to get your head around their sometimes very busy and occasionally quirky sound, their debut album presents some very strong melodies and great songs.

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MUNROE’S THUNDER – The Black Watch

Best known as the frontman with Metal Church, Ronny Munroe has one of those voices that absolutely encapsulates the sound of “classic metal”. It might not have been so obvious on the thrash-centic output of his former band, but via a run of solo releases, his vocal power has become more than clear. His huger notes convey a Bruce Dickinson inspired wail, some of the harder edged, theatrical elements occasionally capture a gruffer take on Geoff Tate, and when dropping into something a little more angry, his darker tones have even managed to sound a little like Russell Allen, if only the sometime Symphony X man were coasting rather than attacking everything at full volume and full pelt. There’s no escaping the fact that most of Munroe’s style relies on some very 80s influenced stock, but since the bulk of the material on ‘The Black Watch’ centres around a very busy, very retro sound, Ron’s performances are more than suitable. They’re also one hundred percent committed – both in terms of energy and volume. This album’s blend of classic and power metal is many things, but subtle it really isn’t.

‘The Black Watch’ marks the end of a hibernation period for Munroe. Last heard bellowing on his solo release ‘Electric Wake’ in 2014, his voice retains a lot of that voluminous style, but aided a much more adventurous band – unafraid to explore a hugely bombastic canvas – he’s able to abe both grander and more melodic. Things never shift too far from an old school metal core, but it often feels as if there’s far more here at stake for his fans.

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RivetSkull cover Aerosmith classic on reworked version of ‘Trail of Souls’

In their own words, RivetSkull are a band committed to “bringing classic heavy metal into the future”, but their range of influences often sets them apart from being yet another leather trousered band of blokes recycling traditional sounds.

Their ‘Trail of Souls’ album was recorded in 2020 in less than ideal conditions, as a global pandemic took hold. The album’s production obviously showed these limitations, especially through a slightly muddy guitar tone and flat drum sound, but the best songs shone through the murk, often suggesting the work of a band who understood the importance of melody.

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