Italian thrashers Kontra reveal new band line-up

After communicating in March the news of their reunion, Kontra officially present their new line-up.

Next to the only original member Marco Barraco, singer and rhythm guitarist of the thrashers, now there are: Luigi Di Meglio on lead guitar, Luca Buonanno on bass guitar and Francesco Verrazzo on drums (former drummer of Manach Seherath). A first picture of the new formation has been uploaded by the band, too.

The new band line-up 2015. (c) by Kontra, used with kind permission

Kontra is currently rearranging all the old songs and has for the next months a surprise for the fans in store. Stay tuned with them via their official Facebook profile so you won't miss out on that.


CD Review: Swirl - SWIRL

Note:  If you have a own band or project that you think might fit in well here for a review or as a presentation / introduction please drop me a line or two in a E-Mail. Please see my profile for my E-Mail adress. I appreciate new suggestions very much so don't hesitate to contact me. I'm also interested in band news / updates / tourdates so keep the stuff coming. Thanks!

If you're having troubles writing in English please send me a E-Mail in your preferred language or use the free Google Translator to transfer your message to English. I also use that tool, it's of course not perfect but I think it will mostly likely work out for our purposes.

Short Introduction 

Swirl was formed by guitarist Duane “DT” Jones in Washington State. The earliest version of the band scheduled a recording session in Southern California, but due to a scheduling conflict the original drummer was a last minute cancellation. One brief phone call later brother Brian “Bam Bam” Jones was brought in to record drums and became a permanent member of the band. Swirl went on to release their debut CD ‘Out Of Nowhere’. The disc was produced by Carlos Cavazo (RATT/ Quiet Riot) and Matt Thorr (Rough Cutt/ Jailhouse). Swirl toured the United States and Japan in the early 2000’s and achieved moderate success.

In 2008 “DT” entered the recording studio of Cinderella drummer Fred Coury with vocalist Alfred Ramirez. That session gave birth to the songs “Adrenaline” and “Sleepwalker” (both songs were produced by Fred who also played drums on the tracks) and reignited Swirl. The two songs led to management interest and tour offers. “DT”, Brian and Al recruited bassist Shane Carlson to finalize the new touring lineup for Swirl which began criss-crossing the US several times (to the tune of 50,000 miles) as the support act for the bands RATT, Extreme, Slaughter, George Lynch and others in 2008-2010.

Between 2011- 2012 Swirl had a musical makeover and began writing and recording new music. The band removed themselves from the LA area to record at Baxter Rd studios in Wildomar, California. The members of Swirl decided to use the lessons learned from previous recording session mentors to self produce the new material with post production and mastering done in Lake Elsinore, California with James Rieger.

Released on March 25, 2013 worldwide via iTunes, the new hard rock disc, ‘SWIRL’  finally saw the light of day.

(c) by Swirl, used with kind permission

According to Swirl, the “Message” behind the music has to do with standing up for what you believe in – not giving up and going for what you want in the face of those who put road blocks in front of you, it’s staying the course, staying focused and not giving an inch in any other direction, but the road you have carved out for yourself. Sometimes you will fall down, sometimes you will lose your way, but in the end the only way to win is you have to get back on your feet, dust yourself off and carry on so are you ready to “Rise Up”?

Summary / Purchase Link / Player

This album is sort of a special release for me. While on the one hand it's a typical US Hard Rock / Metal band with tracks having a length for airplay on radios it's on the other hand not a commercial release at all.

The band-sound comes very edgy and rough with a very own, raw note and melody. The guitars are set on fire and the solo's sound different and make you want to listen to them closer. It's absolutely not one of those bands that has this soft touch to it where Metal or Hard Rock plays the inferior role with more the party music playing in the front. It shows that this band has more depth to offer than similar acts.

You can listen to the music multiple times and will still find new parts in it. That's something that not too often comes along on those records. If you like the US metal style but look for something more rough and outworked in the details I suggest to check out Swirl. I think you'll be surprised. That's the way it came around for me at least.

You can purchase the physical album CD directly from the bands homepage for 7 Dollar plus 3 Dollar shipping and handling. If you prefer to download the songs directly to your PC you may like to check iTunes to buy your copy of the songs.

For a quick look inside I suggest to listen to the songs "Time to fly (Adrenaline)", "Rise Up" or "Spell". Those give you a good insight into the band's sound while the other tracks will need a bit close listening to fully release it's content to you.

Make also sure to follow the band through their website or check Facebook for updates.

Track-by-track Review

1. Fourth of July
A hard pushing track from the beginning the song is filled with blistering guitars that along with the high vocals give the track a very rough note. The only piece of music that is not so much of my taste on this record.

2. Spell
Yeah, a cool bass solo kicks in to "Spell". A quite fast number that comes in very straight. The refrain comes more edgy than on the other tracks The solo section rips it up nicely. The song feels somehow rougher after the solo and remains in this state for the remaining time. 

3. Rise Up
A cutting sharp short riff opens up this one and groovy drums start to move right in with the tune. The music spreads a uplifting energy fitting to the lyrics. It makes clear that it's here to keep you up and running for what you fight and stand for. The refrain seconds this with it's faster and pushing speed and melody. 

(c) by Joe Schaeffer, used with kind permission

4. We Are Alive
A pushing drum part brings you into a cool tune with easy riffing. The refrain goes in with harder guiatrs and effects. Towards the end there is a calm with vocals and drums only saving the guitars some time to power up before a blast part sets out and brings a even more energetic level towards the end of "We are alive".

5. Message
A clear and hard riff starts this one. Very catchy track, the vocals stick to your mind once you've heard'em. A siren signal shortly before the end comes as a surprise but gives the song a unexpected yet cool round out.

6. Time to fly (Adrenaline)
A compact riff opens up this one. It gives the track instantly something you can remember. The melody and refrain bring up a good vibe so If you're feeling good this one totally fits to that feeling. 

7. Mad disease (Sleepwalker)
A sharp riff opens up this stomping track. Much high pitched variations in the vocals, which are very remarkable. This track needs some repeat to fully bring on it's full power. Very different from the other six songs of the disc.


Rock Hard Festival 2015 Livestream announced for this weekend

Yes! I've had a eye upon this during the last days and nearly lost the hope but finally the announcement has been made that the german TV station WDR is going to broadcast shows of the Rock Hard Festival 2015 online during a livestream!

So far the schedule for tomorrow, Friday the 22th May 2015 has been confirmed.
You can find the startbutton to the stream itself at the homepage of the Rockpalast. Just hit the button labeled "Live Video". A new window on the PC will open up with the video.

Please not that I include the timetable for the other shows as well but can't say if they are going to be streamed, too. As soon as I've have information on that I'll update the article.

Update 2015/05/28: Some nice stuff has been released after the festival closed it's doors.
You can watch accoustic clips from the BLACK STAR RIDERS, REFUGE, SANCTUARY, AVATARIUM, PENTAGRAM and ARCHITECTS OF CHAOZ that have been recorded in the backstage section right here.

HMTV has put together a nice round-up of the festival. They also included stuff of the bands that were not shown during the stream (SPACE CHASER, DESERTED FEAR, MOTORJESUS, VOIVOD and CHANNEL ZERO). Check it out below:

Update 2015/05/22: It's confirmed! All the bands that are listed here in the timetable will be shown during the livestream. Enjoy! :-)

The links underneath the bandnames will take you to interview video footage that can been seen at the homepage of the TV show that makes the stream possible (it's the legendary Rockpalast show).

Friday the 22th May 2015

21.30 - 23.00 (9.30 pm CEST) Venom
19.45 - 21.00 (7.45 pm CEST) Pentagram
18.15 - 19.15 (6.15 pm CEST) God Dethroned
17.05 - 17.50 (5.05 pm CEST) Flotsam And Jetsam
16.00 - 16.40 (4.00 pm CEST) Architects Of Chaoz

Saturday, 23th May 2015

21.30 - 23.00 Kreator
19.45 - 21.00 Doro (Early Days Metal Show)
18.15 - 19.15 Sanctuary
17.00 - 17.45 Kataklysm
15.50 - 16.35 Avatarium

Sunday, 24th May 2015

21.30 - 23.00 Black Star Riders (mit Thin-Lizzy-Classics)
19.40 - 21.00 Overkill
18.00 - 19.10 Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock
16.30 - 17.30 Refuge


Neal Schon reveals new track and free download from upcoming album Vortex

Instrumental band give the listener a lot in my eyes. Compared to other bands they cannot work with the classic structures of a song like intro, 1st verse, bridge refrain and so on but have to find other ways of giving the listener a thrill to keep them on the speakers. That's a heavy task in my eyes. Just take a look at how long a minute of instrumental music is and how hard it is to put something inside that's worth listening without making the song sounding monotone.

Recently a brand new track from Neal Schon (guitarist of the famous band Journey) came across my desk and it gave me a lot of positive freezin' chills as well as it shows the superb musical abilities of Schon with it's blistering guitar work and variations. The solo section is held very extensive while the basics of the music constantly keep the song going. Besides playing the guitars Neal Schon also laid down the bass guitar tracks as well as he produced the whole songs on this and all other songs of the album that is yet to come.

(c) by Kaley Nelson, used with kind permission

The track "Tortured Souls" is a first glimpse into the new double album "Vortex" that is set for release on June 22 in Europe and one day later in UK and North America through the Mascot Label Group.

Stream the song in the widget below. And in case you like what you hear why not pick up a free download of the track? Just push the button underneath the picture and enter your email in the box to receive a download link to a full quality wave (!) file of the song.

If you'd like to keep updated on the further release activities make sure to see Neal Schon's Homepage or connect with him through Facebook.


Impellitteri release second video from the new album "Venom"

How much diversity and technical style can be shown in a duration of only 2:50 minutes? Not much you may say. But having seen the brand new video of the band Impellitteri it seem to be possible to put a lot of finesse and variations in such a limited space of time.

On the first listen the track may come around as one of the typical uptempo metal numbers but listen to it closely and I'm sure you'll find out what I mean. It's also great to hear Rob Rock on vocals, I like his vocals a lot, they fit so perfectly for such a style of music and give so much good vibes when listening to it.

The song "Empire of Lies" is already the second video and track the band put out in support of the brand new studio album "Venom". Make sure to keep track on the further band activities by checking in at Facebook.


CD Review: A Light Within - Body Matter

Note:  If you have a own band or project that you think might fit in well here for a review or as a presentation / introduction please drop me a line or two in a E-Mail. Please see my profile for my E-Mail adress. I appreciate new suggestions very much so don't hesitate to contact me. I'm also interested in band news / updates / tourdates so keep the stuff coming. Thanks!

If you're having troubles writing in English please send me a E-Mail in your preferred language or use the free Google Translator to transfer your message to English. I also use that tool, it's of course not perfect but I think it will mostly likely work out for our purposes.

Short Introduction

A Light Within are a Post Rock/ Post Metal/ ShoeGaze band located at Kansas City, MO. Their first release has been the "Preface" EP which came out in 2013 and featured three tracks. The band created a sound full of atmosphere and emotions along with a lyrical concept which talked about a person whose life fades away. The songs were labeled with track names and side numbers like in a book.

Having released the record the band played continually shows in the area of their hometown and did send a sign every here and there about what happened on their Facebook page. That's also the place where the band began to speak about their second EP. People who followed them could get insights into the recording process by checking out the Youtube videos. A Light Within posted scenes from the studio along with song snippets.

The first single the band released of that record was entitled "Between Shores". A little later a proper video showing a decent visual exposure of the music was released on Youtube.

This coming Saturday May the 15th 2015 will see the band playing a CD celebration show at the recordbar. You'll be able to buy a hand numbered limited edition with extra special packaging of the "Body Matter" EP so don't miss out this very special show. The flyer below should hold all the information you need.

(c) by A Light Within, used with kind permission

If you can't make it to the show you don't need to be sad, there's still a chance to get your hands on one of the "normal" CDs but those are limited, too. Just head over to Bandcamp to otder your copy.

The digital version of "Body Matter" will be released via Static Tension Recordings on July 7th 2015.

Summary / Purchase Link / Player

The EP is a absolute blast! Having heard the single "Between Shores" I had some hopes but never expected this in my wildest dreams. Every song is different and it forms together a great diversity.

Most of all the band has gone through a form of progress which is hard to find anywhere else. While the band happily kept all the trademarks intact they also managed to make progress on each and every point possible. This means that each and every bandmember has tried out new ways on "Body Matter". For instance the vocals show now a much more diverse range of emotions and expressions. The bass guitar pushes the songs more forward and even the drums vary more than on "Preface". All in all it feels as if the new songs move more forwards in a more harder and pushing direction.

(c) by A Light Within, used with kind permission

If you're into hard but also very atmospheric music with a darker haunting vibe you should give this record and band a listen. As for me it's one of the best records in 2015 so far. It's music taking one far beyond and I totally love it for being that way. It's outstanding and takes the listener to another world in a positive way.

A hand numbered limited edition with extra special packaging of the "Body Matter" EP can be bought at the CD celebration show I mentioned above (Saturday 15th May 2015).

Purchase Links

Update 2015/07/28: Finally the digital version of Body Matter can be purchased at the Bandcamp page of A Light Within for only five dollar. The standard CD for 7 dollar is still available,too. Meanwhile the tin-box version is sold out.

If you prefer to use the itunes store for buying music digitally then here is the proper link to purchase the new A Light Within EP. 

Update 2015/05/18: The band has revealed the extra special edition of the EP as a tin-boxed CD that comes with a booklet and is handnumbered. Only 24 of those were made. You can get one of those from the Bandcamp page for the price of 10 Dollar plus shipping and handling.

The "standard" version of the CD is limited to 75 copies and can be bought at the Bandcamp page of A Light Within for 7 Dollar plus shipping and handling.

The digital release is set for 7th July 2015. Make sure to see the band's Bandcamp page around that time. I'm pretty sure you'll be able to pick it up there. I'll also update this review with more info once I have it.

Album Stream

Since the release is still some days away there isn't a proper EP stream available yet. If a public stream should be set up I'll add it here. Please bookmark this page and check back or keep a eye on the Bandcamp page of A Light Within. In the meantime I've added the video for the full album version of "Between Shores" right here. The song gives a good idea of the style and sound of "Body Matter".

Update 2015/07/08: Finally here is the full stream of the EP for you to enjoy.

Update 2015/07/01: The full stream of the brand new EP premiered at Heavy Blog is Heavy. Don't wait any longer - click and discover a great piece of music in these warm summer days of 2015.

Update 2015/05/15: The album stream release date is currently set for July 7 through Static Tension Recordings (information taken from the Facebook page of the band).

Update 2015/05/22: a new track from the EP has premiered over at the Decibel Magazine. It's called "World through the window". Check it out along with some words from the band about the meaning of the lyrics.

Track-by-track review

1. Torn Page #21
This intro slowly takes you away from the world you know. It feels as if you can hear the sound of the sea breaking it's waves on the coast. Mixed in distorted guitars tell you that something new is to arrive near you....

2. Page #22 _No Charge

A soft opening touches in before a constant rhythm begins to play. You'll notice the strong bass guitar elements and much more variations in the drums on this one. The midtempo rhythm comes quite as a sort of surprise on the first listening. Excellent vocals along with fine guitars with the punching rhythm make this a remarkable track. Nearly every little section comes with a different vocal part, some are more decent some are more stretched but they all fit very well in here. The song builds up more and more before it returns to the structure of the beginning at the middle of the track just to begin building up again. A hard scream towards the end then some more of the song before a hard cut marks the end.

(c) by A Light Within, used with kind permission

3. Page #51 _Between Shores
This one builds up slowly, crawling towards you. The drums play a cool pattern fill and the full song theme and haunting melody unfolds towards the listener. The vocals take a darker and harder tone than on No Charge. The distorted guitars contribute to this heavier attitude. The second part of Between Shores cleans out the melody to give the drums and spoken vocals more room. It brings in some sort of silent and clearing effect to the listener. The small melody softly played to it gives it a calming effect. A dark and hard voice lifts up the track to a more moving piece of music again. The drums give it a harder punch towards the end which is a bit suprising before a clean yet abrupt ending comes in.

4. Page #29 _World Through the Window
Epic, long dark and hard guitar riffs blowing out on the beginning. Clean and direct vocals push in to straighter song. Much variations and direct drumming in here which were not too often audible on A Light Within songs before. A beautiful melody comes in towards the middle of World Through the Window before some crushing guitars step in with the clean vocals. Some hard pushing riffs to the end give this one a very heavy and groove-oriented feeling.

(c) by A Light Within, used with kind permission

5. Page #13 _To Have; To Hold
The shortest number on Body Matter gives you some time to breathe and relax with it's soft and feeling lost melody and soft vocals. A dreaming moment in the vast ocean of time we are all living in...

6. Page #47-48 _Glaso
A slow and very silent fade in at the beginning before a hard rhythm kicks in. Some more silent notes before the track changes to a pushing beat going back and forth while bringing in various vocal elements. The edgy guitars give it a special note like some sort of screams mixed in. The second half is filled with a even more punching beat giving the track a more direct note. Maybe the most direct song of the band so far. Some hard riffs at the end form a good outro and leave one behind with a smiling face.

A Light Within made it once again. A band I hope many people will listen to. They would surely miss out a lot otherwise...


Legendary thrash metal band Kontra from Italy reunites

I love Thrash! Yeah, legendary thrahsers Testament printed this saying once on one of their band T-Shirts. I'm very happy to be able to say there is a active underground scene alive these days that constantly provides us with fresh stuff from the heavier and straighter side of Heavy Metal.

Recently I've received a message that one of the legendary thrash underground acts from Naples, Italy did reunite.

They are called Kontra and did exist from 1999 to 2007. The band influenced both by Bay Area Thrash and by German Thrash Metal now has a new line-up of 3 members which the only original one is the singer/rhythm guitarist and founder of the band Marco Barraco.

(c) by Kontra, used with kind permission

Kontra played live on many stages in Naples and suburbs producing also 2 demos: “Strike Zero” in 2003 limited to only 100 copies,and ‘’Demo 2005’’ never published because the band splitted up. The band has been influeneced by acts like Metallica,Slayer,Kreator,Sodom,Destruction, Venom,Sepultura (the old ones), and Motörhead.

I'm looking forward to see what the band will do next and keep you guys out there updated on the further progress. In the meantime you can also hold an eye on Kontra's Facebook page by hitting the famous like button on their site.


Tad Morose release first videoclip for the new album St. Demonius

Yes, this time it happily didn't took that long. ;-) After a 10 year's break from releasing a new album Tad Morose returned in 2013 with a powerfull, hard and riff-filled album called "Revenant".

Having played some shows in the meantime the band didn't hesitate to write new songs and has now announced that the next .album "St. Demonius" is ready for release on August 28th 2015. The tracklist goes like this:

1. Bow to the Reaper's Blade
2. Forlorn
3. Where Ignorance Reigns
4. Remain
5. Black Fire Rising
6. Day of Reckoning
7. The Shadows Play
8. Darkness Prevail
9. Fear Subside
10. Dream of Memories
11. The World Is Growing Old
12. Your Own Demise

The album can be pre-ordered through the webshop of Depotz Records in two configurations, one of them is a bundle of the Digipack CD with a poster handsigned by the band along with a proper band T-Shirt with the new album cover on it.

And how is the record going to sound like? Well this question can easily be answered with the brand new video the band has released for the song "Forlorn".

If you want to see the band live you may be happy enough to see them on a European tour that has been announced for September 2015 on Facebook. Check back for the exact dates on that page or keep an eye on this article.


Darling Down release cinematic video for "Never Tell"

Music videos have become a important part to all the musicians out there. It looks sort of "common" to put out a video if you have a new release coming or already out.

But it's seldomely coming along that these videos have a quality that could even fit for showing off in a cinema. Such came to my mind when I saw Darling Down's video of "Never Tell". It could be taken out of one of those hard action films where things are set on trial and survival or death is what is the question.

While musically held as a strong symphonic metal band with very intense, female vocals the clip not "only" has a story which is worth following but it also makes use of special effects.

Those were also a big surprise to the band. By the end of the day the drummer of the band Ryan Hudson had to say about doing the movie:

"The best part of the video is all the gore. We filmed it with inspiration from Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino. I was surprised to learn how the special effects makeup artist made blood splatter. Let’s just say there was a lot of spitting."

(c) by Darling Down, used with kind permission

The band has some shows on the list in the USA, you could be happy to be able to check them out very soon (please note that the Nashville show already takes place today):

 May 05  FooBar Nashville, TN    
 May 15  MVP Sports Bar & Grill , OH    
 May 24 Brauerhouse Lombard, IL    
 May 29 Blacklite Lounge , MI    
 May 30 Betsie River Music Festival Thompsonville, MI    
 Jun 12  Here's To You Pub and Grub Hillsdale, MI    
 Jun 13  The Playground Stony Lake, MI    
 Jun 18  5th Quarter Lounge Indianapolis, IN    
 Jun 19  The Music Factory Battle Creek, MI    
 Jun 20  Jersey's Tavern Tecumseh, MI  
 Jul 10  Czars 505 St Joseph, MI

The album of the same name like the video "Never Tell" has already been released and can be purchased on all digital retail stores for example via itunes.

Make sure to follow the band on social channels like Facebook or Twitter or have a look on their homepage.


Google opens the doors to the world-famous Abbey Road Studios

Have you ever dreamed of being in a recording studio yourselves? How is it to work on songs and sounds? The legendary Abbey Road Studios have opened up the doors for everyone with a internet connection and a proper device. Check in to see how it's like to be there...

Google is opening the doors of Abbey Road Studios to everyone for the first time.  
INSIDE ABBEY ROAD is an interactive experience that lets fans around the world explore the legendary studios, hear its stories and play with some of its famous equipment right from their computer, tablet or phone.

Ever since 1931, Abbey Road Studios has consistently reinvented recording to create sounds the world hasn’t heard before. The studios hosted the world’s first live global broadcast (with The Beatles no less). They played a role in the invention of stereo by EMI engineer Alan Blumlein and countless epic and extraordinary moments in music have been created in Abbey Road Studios.

But until now, the famous crossing was about as close as most people could get to the studios.

INSIDE ABBEY ROAD is a new site created by Google and Abbey Road Studios which lets people explore every nook and cranny of the three main studios and one mastering suite for the first time. Throughout the site there are more than 150 different 360-degree panoramic images for visitors to explore. As they walk through the studios, they’ll see YouTube videos and archival images from Abbey Road’s history—right where they originally happened. From footage of Elgar and the London Symphony Orchestra opening the studios in 1931 to Jay Z discussing his Magna Carta album with Zane Lowe.

Users can play with pioneering equipment in specially designed interactive gadgets, such as the J37 4-track recorder that was used to record the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and learn about historical milestones such as how to cut vinyl.

There is also the option for users to join producer Giles Martin, engineer Mirek Stiles, the studios’ Head of Audio Products, or BBC Radio 6 Music presenter and Abbey Road recording artist Lauren Laverne for their very own interactive tour.

Select albums and songs featured in the experience will be available to download on Google Play via the discography sections in each studio in the tour.

INSIDE ABBEY ROAD is accessible via desktop, tablet and phone: g.co/insideabbeyroad