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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PYRESHIP – Light Is A Barrier

As far as most people will be concerned, Pyreship first appeared on the sludge metal scene in 2017 when their ‘Liars Bend Low’ album appeared on Bandcamp. Its five murky sounding tracks immediately signified the band as masters of some of the dirtiest riffs, but for those paying closer attention, the material also suggested a keen interest in wandering, dark atmospherics which – in the hands of talented musicians – might just take their uncompromising noise into more interesting places in the future.

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DIMWIND / BREATHS – Seasons (split EP)

At the beginning of 2022, the world found itself in complete turmoil. Humanity was still battling against the coronavirus pandemic – something that’d threatened to kill everyone – and an escalating war between Russians and Ukraine led to a worldwide tension, fuelled by a power hungry dictator with his finger hovering over the metaphorical self-destruct button. With everyone effectively amid a new cold war, there didn’t seem many reasons to remain positive. Adding to this palate of complete dread and fear, environmental issues were still of a massive concern. The world was now a ticking time bomb in more ways than one.

Drawing attention to those environmental issues that appeared to have taken something of a backseat during the year’s first quarter, US one man band Breaths and Sweden’s Dimwind teamed up for a split release featuring material specifically focusing on the vitally important issue. Amid the two lengthy workouts on their ‘Seasons’ EP, the message of eco-preservation is sometimes telegraphed almost as clearly as the massive riffs themselves, and the results are both harrowing and intensely brilliant in equal measure.

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