The world of metal would not be complete without cover versions, right? And the world of metal would most definitely not be the same (or complete) without Iron Maiden. So today we are taking a look at 10 very different cover versions of the same track, in this case classical Iron Maiden with “The Trooper”!
The focal point of the album and the songs is: the almighty riff. Not sure about the water in Albacete, but there must be a riff infestation, if this lot can belt them out in impressive density, but despite all the parallels to especially Testament, Cabaret de la Guillotine is anything but a clone, quite the contrary. Where Chuck Billy has displayed quite the vocal prowess throughout the past few years and albums, Guillermo Izquierdo masters the mighty thrash metal bellow as much as great clean vocals that contrast the intense delivery otherwise.
Another point where Angelus Apatrida can score big times is the songwriting. They can thrash with the best of them, but at the same time they also manage to weave in more power metal choruses, where Izquierdo’s cleans come into play, like in the opening title track that sets out with acoustic guitars, but then quickly builds up into an all-out thrasher with tons of power, the driving bridge and then the melodic chorus, all in one immensely tight package and dynamics to power Spain.
“Downfall of the Nation” shows the Spaniards’ bottom-laden heaviness, whereas high octane “One of Us”has enough power to pin the listener against a wall and “The Die is Cast” injects the by now typical Angelus Apatrida sense of melody into a tight thrashfest. Izquierdo’s shining moment comes in the form of “Farewell”, which is what could be called a thrash ballad with ominous guitar runs and an exceptional delivery on the microphone. Well, until the riff decides to break down the wall and take the song into a tight thrash attack to break up the serenity, injecting some awesome dynamics into the song, before “Martyrs of Chicago” throws all of that out of the window and bashes the fan over the head with a spiked thrash metal bat (but still with melodic guitar lines to soften the blow a bit) as final goodbye.
Embedded into a very tight and powerful production that allows plenty of space for the songs to unfold their power, Cabaret de la Guillotine is another proud notch in the belt for Angelus Apatrida that has the potential to draw in listeners from outside of thrash metal as well. Keeping a great balance between aggression and melody these songs should be a blast live and maybe check if the neighbours are home before putting this one on…
The main two defining Striker elements are still the same, that being Daniel Cleary’s voice and the very detail oriented guitar work of Chris Segger and Tim Brown that likes to introduce little runs and melodies into the songs and add this little something to set them apart. Now when saying that the main focus of the sound has changed a bit does in no way mean that there is any less energy or power to them, but back in the days Striker would surely have been one of these arena bands that would sell out the big ones, which unfortunately is not quite the case anymore in the here and now.
Leading in with “Heart of Lies”, the Canadians come off a furious start that gives way to beautiful dynamics, soaring melodies and the already mentioned melodic lead guitars, above which Cleary takes a commanding presence and by the end of the song one is already able to sing along with the chorus, representing the power metallic side of the album, together with intense “Summoner”. What each of the songs, though, regardless of the musical focus, have in common are the Albertans’ uncanny knack for catchy melodies and dynamics that impose themselves over the glossier and slicker approach, which might be a detractor to some, as the production undoubtedly sees more layering (especially in the vocals) and the keyboards playing a bit more of a stronger role in the songs.
Take the hook of “Position of Power”, the arena anthem feeling of “Head First” or dynamic “Heavy is the Heart”, they all are unmistakably Striker and even when they venture into the terrain of (power) ballads they can keep their stamp on the songs. As so often when a certain subgenre picks up steam and other bands jump on, the danger of bands losing their identity and just becoming another face in the mass is prevalent, but despite their shift towards a what once would have been a more radio friendly sound, this troop still sticks out and for all the right reasons.
Some may hold it against them that they lost a bit of an edge, but there still is so much talent at play here that they make it believable. Whoever needed any proof that the 80s are still alive and kicking, Play to Win is a strong manifesto to this claim and keeps Striker firmly entrenched at the forefront of the NWoTHM!
For decades now Finland has been a veritable hotbed for top quality metal and power metal, obviously, is no exception. Even just a cursory glance reveals a plethora of names that most metalheads at least recognize by name, such as Stratovarius, Nightwish or Sonata Arctica, immediately jump out. Some bands took different roads from their power metallic beginnings, yet there never was a shortage of new bands pushing through, which leads to Frozen Land. Offering their self-titled debut album via Massacre Records they fall into the category of new young band that does not necessarily bring anything new to the table, but delivers their shtick in such a convincing manner that said fact does not even matter.
Leading in with “Loser’s Game”, Frozen Land forgo any kind of intro or preparation, but go full speed ahead from the get go, channeling older Stratovarius to the core, yet without sounding like a mere rehash of their compatriots, all the way into the chorus, the doubled guitar/keyboard work and the energy and melodies, kicking things off in style and definitely setting the pace of what the following 40 minutes will bring.
While some people do not quite subscribe to the “rather an outstanding copy than a crappy original”, the sheer quality of material like driving “Delusions of Grandeur”, pounding “Underworld (Manala)” or all-out double-bass cracker “The Rising” will bring the name Stratovarius to the mind more than once, but where the original, while still putting out outstanding albums, has shifted their style somewhat, it actually is refreshing to hear the “old” sound brought back to life in such convincing manner.
The biggest strengths lie in their all-out power metal anthems like the above mentioned songs or also “Unsung Heroes” or “Mask of the Youth” and complete their flashback mode with a cover version of the E-Type eurodance song “Angels Crying”, which not unlike Labyrinth’s “Vertigo” cover off their No Limits debut shows that eurodance and power metal might be closer related than some people might dare to admit.
For a debut Frozen Land surely is an impressive first step and it does not come surprising that a label as established as Massacre has decided to take it on, this quintet has everything a power metal band needs to succeed and it is just another gemstone in the already rich 2018 harvest.
Welcome to Secret Steel, the fifth chapter, “Black Metal 1: An Unholy Union”
Larry breaks down each album by the German industrial goliaths to decide which one sits on top.
Interview with Mikko Aspa of Clandestine Blaze
Conducted by Colonel Para Bellum of Blackdeath.
Larry rounds up all the decent (and some not-so-decent) thrash releases for the headbang-happy year of 2017.
This was a banner year for death metal by any measure.
Here are some of our favorite death metal releases from 2017.
The diverse spectrum that encompasses metal music’s many sub-genres could be likened to various mythical races united under two opposing banners, staring each other down as they make ready to charge and turn the field red with the other’s blood. From one year to the next, the advantage may tip from one side to the other, but in the grand scheme of their eternal conflict, the forces of light and darkness have tended to be equally matched. 2017 saw the forces of melody and order take the advantage in the eyes of the reclusive bard that tells this end of the year tale, though naturally his is not the final word on such things, and other codices in the grand archives of metallic exploits deserve your consideration. Still, these are the 50 acts of heroism that defined the year, because too much has occurred to settle for a mere 30.
2017 has proven to offer up the tightest race we have seen in a long time in the quest for the gold! So without any further ado, here is the creme de la creme of the year!
December’s still a month, right?