LEGION OF THE DAMNED       Sons Of The Jackal
Massacre Records (release: January 5th, 2007)

Just one year after the release of Malevolent Rapture, it's the second misdeed of LEGION OF THE DAMNED (ex-OCCULT), produced by Andy Classen once again. Thrash without concessions from start to finish, in the tradition of 90's wave, huge sound in addition. Effectiveness above all !Laurent

BLINDED COLONY       Bedtime Prayers
Pivotal Rockordings (release: January 9th, 2007)

Obviously, they play well. Obviously, there's a huge production. Obviously, it's dynamic. Obviously, there are well-crafted songs. Obviously, they are Swedish. Obviously, it sounds like SOILWORK…Laurent

FEAR MY THOUGHTS       Vulcanus
Century Media (release: January 15th, 2007)

In opening, three tracks and three different styles: it's the surprise with FEAR MY THOUGHTS ! Hard at first to figure out this band moving between ultra fast Thrash on Accompanied By Death or Survival Scars, melodic Death Metal (Stamp Of Credence, Soul Consumer) or still atmospheric Culture Of Fear or Vulcanus, an instrumental exploring lands of Prog'. And it's not the intervention of DESTRUCTION's Schmier and Mike on Accelerate Or Die which will break this good unity.Laurent

HE IS LEGEND       Suck Out The Poison
Century Media (release: January 15th, 2007)

The American Hardcore scene has gone through radical changes for a couple of years. And it’s all for the best as there are new winds blowing from various horizons, bringing scents of distant musical shores.
Ok, let’s get rid of cheap poetry: HE IS LEGEND is goddamn power music, what ya think ! These five guys from North Carolina (anyone got a map ?) are coming forward with their second album and a subtle mix of HxC and Southern Rock with Grunge accents. The guys manage to keep our attention along these 14 tricky tunes, balancing between raging guitars/voices and enlightening melodic choruses. Schuylar Croom’s voice is as unconventional as his name (imagine Ozzy Osbourne getting Screamo) and I don’t even mention the titles of the songs: Attack Of The Dungeon Witch, Mushroom River, The Widow Of Magnolia, The Pot Bellied Goddess, Goldie’s Torn Locks… Too bad it’s rather hard to make out the lyrics (HxC, you know…), but I really wonder what kind of literature they’re into. Don’t miss the grand finale of 8:40 Louds, with this surprising mix of female bluesy vocals, wild guitars and raging voice. Nice stuff, guys… call again !David

FAITH AND FIRE       Accelerator
Metal Heaven (release: January 19th, 2007)

One more band with defectors: Tony Moore (vocals) and Mike Flyntz (guitar), who played on two RIOT albums (Thundersteel and The Privilege Of Power). You can find here a couple of songs their former band would be proud of, and some others heavier and more groovy, still keeping the aggressiveness of American Metal.Jean-Luc

HEARSE       In These Veins
Dental Records (release: January 19th, 2007)

You deal with a Swedish group here, on a Swedish record company and which plays… Swedish Metal ! That means Thrash, nearly Death Metal, with a little Rock 'n Roll side as MOTÖRHEAD will do. One should notice the presence of Johan Liiva, former singer of ARCH ENEMY, who has been substituted for "you know who". Don't you really know ? So, here's an indication for you: she's a blonde…Laurent

SULPHUR       Cursed Madness
Osmose Productions (release: January 24th, 2007)

SULPHUR must be classified in the Black Metal category although the rather low singing on both tracks that open Cursed Madness may confuse. Everything is revealed then: neither as symphonic as DIMMU BORGIR fellow countrymen, but then, because you have quality arrangements here, nor "true Black" but a nice bit of work which should delight everybody. Well… everybody… it's just a manner of speaking !...Laurent

VEHEMENTER NOS       Vehementer Nos
Osmose Productions (release: January 24th, 2007)

As the international Black Metal scene is growing seriously overloaded (what ? Is it already done for a long time ?), it's a pleasure to see more and more French bands working hard to bring us something quite new. VEHEMENTER NOS is one of them, and the five long lasting tracks from the first self-titled album of this duet waver between Black, Dark and Folk Metal, with some arrangements they've been touching up during six years. For your personal knowledge, you will also find out what the name of the band means.Laurent

BIRDFLESH       Mongo Musicale
Dental Records (release: January 26th, 2007)

A band in the Grindcore spirit, really. Intensity, aggressiveness but also a good dose of humour, as regards the funny look of this Swedish trio. To describe: the MARCEL ET SON ORCHESTRE of Grind, but you might not know this famous French group !...Laurent

HARTMANN       Home
Frontiers Records (release: January 26th, 2007)

OK, it's only January, but this one's heading straight for the title of best A.O.R. album of the year.  Oliver Hartmann has been charting in my Top Ten favourite singers for a couple of years. Once the frontman in AT VANCE, he committed a great Prog' Metal album with Italian keyboards virtuoso Daniele Liverani (GENIUS) under the name of EMPTY TREMOR in 2004.
Same voice, different music: Home is A.O.R., right (or Melodic Rock, if you prefer), but never that kind of "sweeties for my sweety" that gets so boring or even a little ridiculous after two or three songs.
Even though it's different somehow, Home sometimes reminds me of the early MR. BIG, not only by the voice, but also with this little taste of Rythm'n Blues or Soul Music that comes around here and there in songs like Just For You, Why Do I and, of course, the choirs of Crying.
No one's playing the star behind the voice, but every musician is perfectly in place and the sound is undoubtedly Rock (with best regards from the production convict Sascha Paeth). David

AGE OF NEMESIS       Terra Incognita
Magna Carta (release: January 29th, 2007)

This album was originally released in 2002 in Hungaria, homeland of these five guys. They had already recorded two albums with Hungarian lyrics under the moniker of NEMESIS (Nemesis, 1998 and Abraxas, 1999). Terra Incognita often sounds like one of the best copycat of DREAM THEATER I've ever heard: the sound, the voice and musical virtuosity are just perfect. Imitation… so what ? The music's good and the guys don't claim they are the next big thing in Metal. Terra Incognita is only a little too long: had it been shorter, the whole thing would have been stronger because some songs (the latest) sound a little dispensable, like "OK guys, we have 70 minutes to fill in so let's not waste one second of the CD".
Anyway, you should keep an eye on AGE OF NEMESIS and give the guys a chance to work their personality out in the long run.David

DREAMLAND       Eye For An Eye
Dockyard 1 (release: January 29th, 2007)

This is their second album, the first one came out in 2005 (Future’s Calling) on the same record company. Their melodic Heavy Metal is typical as Swedish groups use to play, straightforward and well hung. These young guys will go further if Metal world trust 'em. So, a band to be followed closely…Jean-Luc

IMPIOUS       Holy Murder Masquerade
Metal Blade Records (release: January 29th, 2007)

Before listening to the musical content, let's have a look at the booklet supplied with the CD. It's a comic strip where the dialogues are actually the songs lyrics. So, Holy Murder Masquerade is a concept album, but without revealing the end obviously, which relate the peregrinations of a serial-killer. Be sure, IMPIOUS won't play A.O.R. but huge Thrash with all of usual features: fast most of time but also heavy sometimes as on Dark Closure, to create atmospheres which will stick to the story. You'll just have to immerse in the reading and the listening simultaneously for an original experience.Laurent

KHALLICE       The Journey
Magna Carta (release: January 29th, 2007)

There goes another band with the DREAM THEATER touch, especially when it comes to technical parts here and there in the songs. That's the point: too much skill will never balance uncatchy songs, as is often the case with this kind of Metal. The KHALLICE guys are undoubtedly skilful musicians, but they should work more on their music so that each song will sound like it's unique and not only like a "guitar clinic".David