Tales from the Jugular

Metal's Rookie Sensations Vol. #1

By: Maximum Metal Staff
Published: Sunday, April 10, 2005
Metal's Rookie Sensations Vol. #1

Recently I was waiting for my wife's prescription at CVS and I spent some time rummaging through the trendy music mags. It is really incredible to see bands like Children Of Bodom and Arch Enemy gracing the covers of Guitar World, Revolver, Metal Circus, etc. I am now at the point where I can look back at my life and my various listening periods to determine just how valid my predictions were. I won't so much as say predictions, but more or less, I saw the signs and indications that a band was getting ready to break big. I can remember reading short write-ups on Arch Enemy back in the mid-90s. In fact I can remember ordering their debut album through CD Banzai, an off the wall import specialist who could get you those underground gems for about $30 a pop. I bought "Black Earth" back in '96, close to ten years ago and thinking to myself this band should be huge. The same could be said when I purchased the obscure "Jester's Race" from In Flames in '96. I was probably the first person on the planet with a copy of Hammerfall's debut in '97. I had the very first Pyogenesis disc, the first Moonspell, the VERY first pressing of Cradle Of Filth's debut, the first Hypocrisy, the very first Haunted album, the first Edguy, the first Blind Guardian, if I saw potential and talent, I bought it. No questions asked, no second guesses, boom, it was mine.

Now those bands are playing at my local outdoor venues. They are sold at every chainstore, found in every music magazine, and talked about by folks who like Metallica and Slipknot. It is very strange that the bands I was the first in line for are now the talk of the metal world. Not that Moonspell is really selling out in every bin, but the guys like Hammerfall, Hypocrisy, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Blind Guardian, and Cradle Of Filth are huge rock stars. That's right, huge rock stars. But by no means did I call every shot. Hell, I remember telling everyone that Dominus, Sarnath, Cry Havoc, Embargo, Marshall Law, and many other underground veterans were going to be huge as well. So that really got me thinking about all of the new bands that I have been playing the heck out of lately. Those hot rookies that seem to have taken over their genres, or at least helped create a whole new spark. I started pulling out the albums and bands that I felt were real contenders in ruling the kingdom. Keep in mind that I could be completely off base here, but I believe these bands have just a good a shot as any to step up and hit their proverbial stride. These bands have already proved to me they have what it takes. Who in this list will be the next In Flames? The next Children Of Bodom? Hopefully they all will. All of these bands in my opinon deserve to be heard, they deserve to grace magazine covers worldwide. They are great musical acts that have really displayed a tremendous amount of talent and passion for metal. Now we will just kick back, grab a bag of pretzels, and watch the scenario unfold. --EC

Listmania Continues....Metal's Rookie Sensations.

Note - To qualify for this list the band or artist must have no more than two full length albums.

Astral Doors - www.astraldoors.com
I've said it before and I will say it again. This is probably the best new band around right now. Hailing from Sweden, Astral Doors have released two masterpieces in "The Son And The Father" and "Evil Is Forever", both available through Locomotive Records. Building upon the classic metal elements of the past, Astral Doors have created a metal paradise filled with power and intensity. Fueled by icons such as Dio, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and Deep Purple, this band carries the proverbial torch for a whole new generation. Their mesmerizing traditional sound is much like Dio, in fact creating better Dio albums than Ronnie himself. In my opinion this band picks up where "Last In Line" left off, captivating listeners worldwide with their talent and devotion to all things metal. This band will lead the charge of classic metal in my opinion. Hopefully Locomotive's suits and ties will understand just how important AD are and will allow them more exposure and publicity in the next year. Again, this band has the makings to be the next superstar.

Griffin - www.griffin.no
With two albums under their wings, Norway's Griffin have become the next Thin Lizzy. Built around a new wave of heavy metal engine and topped off with a healthy slab of modern production, Griffin are well on their way to superstardom. Led by the talented voice of Pete Beck, Griffin's career got superkicked with "Wasteland Serenades", a fine debut that opened up the doors for the youngsters. With the 2003 release of "No Holds Barred", the band proved that they were the next big thing out of Norway, a country already known for it's past power legends such as TNT and Artch. Now with Griffin on board the whole scene gets shaken and stirred. Keeping the razzle dazzle appeal of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Griffin inject a healthy dose of hard rock and modern appeal, much like Phil Lynott and company in the mid-70s. This band completely blew me away with their sophomore release and I look for great things in 2005. Look for a new record this year!

Hibria - www.hibria.com
Brazil's Hibria are completely out of control. Speed racing out of the 80's song structures, Hibria show off their blinding speed and conceptual storylines with "Breaking The Rules", their debut album released through Germany's Remedy Records. Influenced by the likes of Obsession, Riot, Judas Priest, and Racer X, Hibria redefine speedy power metal, taking it to the next level with soaring leads, rigid bass lines, and the captivating vocals of one Luri Sanson. With one stellar debut under their belts, things can only get better and better. This is an awesome band with unlimited potential.

Hellfueled - www.hellfueled.com
How is this possible? A lost Ozzy/Zakk album? No, not quite. Sweden's Hellfueled completely wash away everything from Ozzy's "Ultimate Sin" on. With a bombastic production job courtesy of Fredrik Nordstrom, Hellfueled's "Volume One" record last year just blistered the competition. With the doomy rock feel of Black Sabbath and Cathedral crossed with the Ozzy-like voice of Andy Alkman, Hellfueled have completely replaced Black Sabbath and Ozzy with a young, intense brand of heavy metal worship. If Astral Doors have replaced Dio, then Hellfueled is the next Ozzy. No doubt about it, this band will be huge if the right people show up to hear it. Amazing band and an amazing debut! This band is just phenomenal!

Thunderbolt - www.thunderbolt.no
Along with Norway's other young superstars in Guardians Of Time and Griffin comes Thunderbolt, a lethal power metal band with one of the finest vocalists of our time in Tony "Thunder" Johannessen, a singer who sounds a bit like Bruce Dickinson crossed with Artch's Eirikur Hauksson. The band released their debut record, "Demons & Diamonds" through Facefront Records in 2002. The album caught so much buzz and hype that they group landed a deal with Massacre Records. "Demonds & Diamonds" combines the sounds of Iron Maiden and Saxon with the modern classics like Edguy and Steel Prophet. The debut displayed an amazing storytelling ability along with the musicianship of seasoned veterans. These youngsters have just started their career and with another album in the works for this year the sky is truly the limit.

Nordheim - www.nordheim.com.br
Just like Hibria, Nordheim bring their power metal sensations all the way from Brazil. Led by the Tony Martin styled voice of Helio Oliva, Nordheim recall the finest moments of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. Combining on a rapid fire assault, this group of young metal hopefuls create a fury filled charge of heavy metal adrenalin. With plenty of fast paced numbers like "River Of Death", Nordheim achieve metal superstardom by creating a rich formation of fine traditional elements. This is a terrific band with a proGomising future.

Godiva - www.godiva.ch
Switzerland's Godiva are power metal monsters! Built from heavy, hard hitting Teutonic metal in the style of Grave Digger, Rebellion, and Warhead, Godiva unleashed the fury on their debut self titled record in 2003. Limb Music released the powerful gem that led the band to support bands such as Vicious Rumors, Shakra, Krokus, and a host of others. Now in 2005 the band are back and ready to record again, this time adding in Victory/Biss frontman Fernando Garcia to the vocal helm. With his hard rock pipes and Godiva's monster machine gallops the two could combine on the finest power metal release of all time!

Guardians Of Time - www.guardiansoftime.com
Norway's Holy Trinity continues with Guardians Of Time, a progressive power metal unit that has released two CLASSIC metal albums in "Edge Of Tomorrow" and "Machines Of Mental Design". With only two albums under their wings the band has proved to the world that they indeed have what it takes to fill the void left by Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. While those bands wither away with a lack of creativity, Guardians Of Time move forward, really creating an inviting world of stellar guitar chemistry and soaring vocals. Hopefully this band will catch on quick, as they need some exposure and publicity right now to solidfy their lineup.

Frank Hill CHOICES
Biomechanical - www.biomechanical.co.uk
Hybrid-metal, omni-metal, we-don't know-what-to-call-this metal...Biomechanical is Pantera and Halford and Queensryche all rolled into one mighty package under the command of lead vocalist John K. Fans of simplistic metal need not apply when John goes mental with a barage of voices and wails behind a psudo-thrash, melodic groove or an introverted musical passage. We reviewed these guys back when they were on Revolver Records and since then, they've stepped up to Earache and got the famed Andy Sneap as a mixer for their latest due out soon "The Empire of the Worlds". We predict that it will crush and raise high the flag for British Steel.

Mother Misery - www.mothermisery.com
SOLID HARD ROCK. That's what Mother Misery is. It almost makes me cry to say a Swedish band is playing better rock than almost anybody here in the states, but MM does that. They just draw you in with natural dynamics, efficient use of spacial elements and an attitude that invites you to climb in and ride along. Mother Misery's debut 'Grandiosity' is too cool; not trendy, mullethead-cool, but cool on it's own like a sunset ride in a '69 Pontiac Firebird.

The Missing: - www.themissing.com
More than just a female-led goth band, The Missing meshes elements of traditional power, industrial and goth into a dark ambiance of mood that eases you comfortably into solace until potent lead vocalist, DM--confident and sure as a cat, scratches the hell out of you, licks the bleeding wounds and sends you off to be battered by the Megadeth-toned guitar work. Scathing and beautiful, this one is highly recommended!

Asmegin - www.asmegin.com
Hands down, Asmegin are the best folk metal band to emerge out of Norway in recent years. With their one full-length release, Hin Vordende Sod & So, they managed to create one of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard. The use of traditional instruments such as violins and flutes, as well as four styles of vocals (grim, death, clean, and female), this album is, to say the least, a masterpiece. Band leader Marius Olaussen was able to recruit some big names from the Norweigen metal scene, such as Lars Nedland (Borknagar, Carpathian Forest) and Sareeta (Ram-Zet) to aide his creation. Also noteworthy is drummer Tommy Brandt’s style, which is interestingly groovy and upbeat. These guys have so many different dimensions to their music that they appeal to every kind of metal fan (or at least every kind I’ve run into). Future release could spell great things for this band.

Elvenking - www.elvenking.net
With only two full-length albums, the Italian band Elvenking has done something incredible. First, they have become one of the leaders in the European (non-Nordic) folk metal scene. More importantly, they have become my favorite band of all time. Only joking (about the more important part, that is!). Skyclad essentially started up this genre, but after Martin Walkyier’s departure they are (at least in my mind) on the decline, and Elvenking have picked up from where they left off. On their first full-length, “Heathenreel,” they created an album that so beautifully infused power metal with Celtic folk melodies (opposed to some of Skyclad’s songs that, while still very good, sound more like barroom ditties) that they took the metal world entirely by surprise. On their second release, Wyrd, singer Damnagoras left and was replaced by Kleid – in the vocals department the material suffered a bit but instrumentally it only improved, with some of the best solos I’ve ever heard. Already stars in the folk metal world, Elvenking would have great appeal in the power metal scene as well. I have often fantasized about them touring the US or even Europe with a huge power metal band (Blind Guardian or Stratovarius maybe)… if this were to happen they would captiviate the majority of fans.

Magica - www.magica.us
Essentially, the Romanian power metal group Magica deserves Nightwish’s spotlight more than Nightwish does. Singer Ana Mladinovici can hit notes just as well as Tarja any day. Bogdan “Bat” Costea solos more often and better than Emppu Vuorinen. I’m not even going to bother comparing Magica’s keyboardist, 6Fingers, to Tuomas Holopainen for fear of insulting the former. 6Fingers is without a doubt one of the elite keyboard players in all of metal. Both of Magica’s releases, “Scroll of Stone” and “Lightseeker” are beautiful representations of what female-fronted power metal is all about. After canceling, re-scheduling, and then again canceling their North American tour, Nightwish’s status seems uncertain. Magica have the capability to capture their niche in the metal world.

Moonlyght - pages.infinit.net/vndiktor/moonlyght
This French-Canadian band creates one of the most interesting sounds I’ve heard in a while. They combine elements of black, folk, and progressive metal in such a way that labeling them is very difficult, making them very unique. On their only full-length release, “Progressive Darkness,” it almost seems that Moonlyght set out to create their very own genre. From my description it might not sound like anything especially different, but trust me, it is. Frontman Roby alternates between a blackish screech and epic-sounding clean vocals. Additionally, the guitar work is creative, and the keyboards melodic. Toss in some violins and female vocals here and there and you’ve got a damn good album. Moonlyght really haven’t ventured out of Quebec, their biggest show probably was when they opened for Cradle of Filth. If they could latch onto a similar (but better) band’s North American tour as openers, it could dramatically increase their fan base. These guys have the potential to alter the boundaries of melodic extreme metal as we know it.

Pantheon I - pantheon-i.tk
The constant stream of identical-sounding new black metal bands spewing from Norway gets a bit annoying after a while. This is why I was elated upon discovering Pantheon I, which contains two members from the better known 1349 – Tjalve and Seidemann. Tjalve’s vocals aren’t overly harsh or brutal, a factor that I like. The band also has full time violin and cello players in Gunhild Mathea Olaussen and Live Julianne Kostøl, respectively. This gives the music some great natural atmosphere; that is, without the use of synthesizers. Keyboard in black metal is often very nice but recently it is abused and bastardized (look at Dimmu Borgir, for example). With the pending release of their first full length (this coming after a demo and an EP), “Atrocity Divine,” Pantheon I have the ability to usher in a new trend for modern black metal – hopefully one that catches on.

Swallow the Sun - www.swallowthesun.net
I’m tired of hearing people lament over Amorphis’ departure from the doom/death genre after “Tales from the Thousand Lakes” for two reasons. One, I like newer Amorphis just fine. Two, why aren’t these people listening to Swallow the Sun instead? Sure, it’s a bit heavier and lacks the minor folk influences of old Amorphis. But if Amorphis had progressed along a different path I have a feeling the would have ended up sounding a hell of a lot like Swallow the Sun. On their only full-length, “The Morning Never Came,” they create an excellent doom/death album which probably leans a bit more toward the death side, since most of the songs are played at mid-pace. I’ve heard critics say that Mikko Kotamäk’s death vocals don’t suit the material, but I have to disagree and tell these people to stop listening to mid-period My Dying Bride. Expect another release from these guys later this year, and be prepared for them to become bigger and bigger as the “Big 3” English doom-death bands (MDB, Paradise Lost, Anathemea) are on the decline.

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