VYPERA – Eat Your Heart Out

Vypera, a melodic metal band from Sweden, began life in 2016 as Madhouse, a covers band working the local circuit. On the basis of their debut release under the new name – their first to feature all new, self penned material – you might find yourself wondering if they were better when hammering through other peoples’ hits, since the bulk of ‘Eat Your Heart Out’ is…fairly bad, to put it mildly.

Sweden have a great track record for rock and metal exports, and the Scandinavians have more than shown an easy knack for great riffs and choruses over the years, very much providing a strong backbone for the melodic rock and metal scene. On on the basis of this debut, though, as much as some people would like to purport such a notion that the Swedes are infallible, such talents aren’t guaranteed. Although the bulk of this debut rehashes some old style riffs fairly solidly, Vypera’s song writing isn’t amazing; the record’s production values are decidedly average, and vocally, seventy five percent of the time, an ugly voice derails most of the good elements there might have been. Faced with something that sounds like polished demo with half of the guitars sounding really trebly, as if they’re bleeding in from another room, it’s immediately hard on the ears.

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BANG BANG FIRECRACKER – Hear Evil EP

In a world where attention spans are shorter, and streaming has meant listeners have a whole universe of new music waiting at the push of a button, British rock band Bang Bang Firecracker hit upon the idea of splitting their second album into three EP releases, giving fans a succession of bite-sized material that would present the songs a short and punchy fashion, but never sell fans short on massive sounds. The first EP, ‘See Evil’ did, indeed, deliver very highly in the riff stakes, placing BBF somewhere between The Almighty and Black Label Society. For some fans, those riffs were enough alone to make an impression – and, granted, they were often bloody excellent – but a fondness for old school macho, expletive-driven lyrics occasionally let the side down.

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BLACK EYE – Black Eye

David Readman will be familiar to many rock fans for being the vocalist with German band Pink Cream 69. He replaced Andi Deris as their frontman in 1994 and has since contributed to some of the melodic rock/metal band’s strongest work, with 2013’s ‘Ceremonial’ providing something of a late career high point. In addition, he’s been the vocalist for Voodoo Circle and Room Service, and guested on cult works by Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, Place Vendome, and Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall. In 2021, he released a well received solo album ‘Medusa’, which showed how he’d lost none of his vocal power over the years.

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ILLA – The Body Keeps The Score EP

Formed by Tan (the ex-frontman for death metal band By The Patient) and Martin (the ex-vocalist for Danish black metal act Lupus), Illa presents something of a departure for both musicians. Combining a groove metal heart with some serious hardcore/metal crossover chops, this EP retains the kind of intensities you’d expect from both men, but uses their talents in a very different – and more accessible – way. Their four track debut is a riff heavy affair that’ll pretty much appeal to anyone with any interests in hardcore and crossover sounds, since its four tracks are a sharp reminder of why the metal infused influences from bands like Strife and Earth Crisis never seem to go out of fashion.

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