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Metal Bulletin Zine #183 Washington state, US July 24, 2019 (#5 in July) FREE



Hellscream Eternal Storm

Sinheresy: Out of Connection Scarlet Records 26 July 2019
The Italian band, which began in 2009 by doing covers
of the symphonic band Nightwish, issued its first demo
in 2010 and quickly had its promising debut EP The
Spiders and the Butterfly that was inevitably
compared to the famous Finnish band. Fortunately,
despite the criticism they pressed on to the debut
album Paint the World (2013) and the comparisons to
the Finns mostly stopped because the Italians were
onto a different path by then. However, it wasn’t until
2017 that the next album Domino came out. Luckily,
they have returned in a more timely manner with
2019’s Out of Connection. At this phase, they are very
adept at their sound. The main goal, as the album
shows, is very catchy, fun songs that appeal to a wide audience. They keep the
compositions compact and direct, generally staying around the 3:30 to 4:30 mark, and
only the last song pushes the duration to beyond seven minutes. Their music says they
understand that many people want good, simple songs. The band is also aware of the
efficiency of pop music. The keyboards, the catchy melodies, the soft nature of the
music, the bounce that the songs have, the fun, dance feel, are all important in their
objective. The big, catchy choruses of pop and heavy music meet up in this melodic,
fan-friendly Europop metal that is feel-good, bouncing songs with big beats.

The album has male and female singing. The male voice is the lower, gentle,
comfortable, midrange and melodic voice that is very appealing. The female voice is
higher but stays at a soft comfortable zone, without going into screaming or things that
cause irritation for some listeners. The combination, again, is very appealing. Some of
the songs have a bit more guitar and others don’t have them very prominently for some
segments. The guitars are there mainly for rhythm, and when possible, to add melodies
that go hand in hand with the keyboards and the vocals. The drumming is gentle on
the ears, and it’s not real, live drums but the sounds of modern/current computerized
drumming. The entire work is based on the melding of pop-goth-symphonic
components for a generally upbeat collection of songs, with a couple of exceptions,
like the last track, a slower tune. The commercial potential has not been reached, not
by a long shot. Once more fans hear this band, especially the fans who enjoy the lighter
side of heavy rock, the popularity is going increase, perhaps much faster than

STRIKER Is the Road Crew

This publication caught up with the Canadian good-time heavy metal rockers Striker
before they went on stage at their show in Seattle on July 5th, 2019. The band began
some 12 years ago and issued a demo in 2008, an EP in 2009, and then they have
followed up with an impressive list of six studio albums, the last being October 2018’s
Play to Win. Besides being an easy and interesting band to interview, they put on a
fantastic show with professionalism that night at the Funhouse. They tour as much as
they are able to, building their name the old-fashioned way of performing for the
people. They are on tour now until early August.
The spring and summer of 2019 has been a busy
time on the road for them, according to guitarist
Chris Segger and singer Dan Cleary. Back in May
they were touring with Death Angel, but things
did not start out well for the Canadian band.
They had a problem at the Canada-U.S. border
and they had to leave behind their merch be-
cause of U.S customs rules at the particular mo-
ment. Not to worry, though, because, as Chris
explains, “This [July] tour we're fine. Where the is-
sue happened was on the Death Angel tour that
we did in May when we first crossed into the States on our current visa.” The U.S.
customs officials found something problematic, “I think we had a very small amount of
merchandise that was made in China, which at that week the tariffs were raised in the
States,” continues Chris.

They left the merch behind, but in Phoenix, Arizona they found a place that printed
some 50 shirts in a hurry, thankfully. With some experience and creativity a band can
solve such problems. It’s no use whining, anyway. “We made it work. Your merch is how
you pay for stuff. It's tough because you can prepare as much as you can and have a
different experience every time you cross the border. You can't complain to anybody.
You have to deal with it,” explains the guitarist.

That’s one example of the problems that bands on tour encounter. The road becomes
a good teacher for bands learning to survive. Dan gives a bit of insight into some
practical things that they have learned over the years. “We drive around in this
(pointing to the vehicle parked outside the venue where we're talking) van and trailer.
One thing we've done is minimize our gear and stuff like that because the stuff we have
to take in and out of venues, up and down the stairs and drag all over the place, it'd be
a lot after a while. Touring is a definitely a grind. A lot of it is just waiting around. That's
the hardest part. I bet it's easier now because people have phones” to entertain
themselves. Musicians on the road often have to figure out what to do with time on
their hands. They have to “just kill time on social media. Stuff like that. We listen to
podcasts and stuff like that to kill time in the van. We have a DVD player so we can
watch movies.”

Dan talks about the toll on the body, too. This can range from pain in the body, hands,
or it can be vocalists having problems with the voice going out. Your attitude about life
on the road is crucial, too, as the singer emphasizes, “One thing that we have thought
about. You have to change your mindset from 'I have to do this' to 'I get to do this.'"
Chris adds, "It's everything that you make it to be. Instead of being like 'Oh, man, this is a
real grind. I mean, we stay in hotels now. On the first couple of tours that's not a thing
that happened. It was sleeping in the van. I could always be way worse. You have to
focus on the positive. Every single day on tour I get to shower. That wasn't a thing. It's
wherever you put your headspace. There's days where it's harder to put your
headspace there because it is a grind, doing 15 shows in 15 nights, and you're driving,
but you wouldn't do it if you didn't enjoy it. To make a conscious effort to always enjoy
it. There's no point to it if you're not having fun."
Another important thing they have done is to release their own recordings on Record
Breaking Records. Dan goes a bit into detail. "When we talk about our label, we're the
only band signed to our label. It's a way to contain our business deals. We were signed
to a label for two albums. At the time we were that young band that didn't know how it
was going to work. We figured you get signed to a label and they get you on tours and
promotion and all this stuff. What it really is that it gets you to another level of distribution
and reputation and stuff like that. Really, that's it. A lot of the rest is up to you still, and
that's something I don't think we understood when we signed to the record label. So
that was a learning experience. Eventually we thought, we are not obligated to sign, so
we figured, let's try, we had a meeting, we said let's do an independent release and
see how it goes and it went really well.”

However, that has been a learning

experience, too. Dan smiles thinking about
what is like to do thing yourselves, “Lots of
work. Lots of work that we used to pass
along to someone at the label, but in the
end you get more reward, too. We make
more money now than we did before.
That's one of the reasons that we have
been able to put albums out so
consistently. We do get a return on the
investment we put in. It doesn't disappear
into labelland. It comes back and we have
money to use for the next record.”
Naturally, the balance between having a band and having a job is a challenge,
especially when there are opportunities to tour. They’re not millionaires, after all. Dan
continues, “We have been working. That's the stereotype of musicians who don't work.
Where we're from, we have worked since we are able to. Having said that, coming
home with no money can be brutal, especially if you lose money.” If you come home
broke or in debt after doing tours, that complicates things. “We had people who leave
the band. Sometimes it becomes too stressful. It's hard to find a job, and finding a job
that lets you go on tour, it can be really difficult.”

A question that comes up is the matter of having a job and touring. Does Striker have a
secret to doing that? Both Dan and Chris say “Luck!” at the same time. Dan adds,
“Absolute luck. Pure Luck. We try to work hard when we are at home. Once you have
the motivation, OK, I have this job because I want to be able to afford to go on tour.
You work hard, you work harder than you normally would if you're working for the
weekend. I think we try to do a good job at our various jobs when we are home and
then hopefully they're ok with having us back. Give them some value in return so that
we have the ability to come back to work.” Chris jumps in, “It's basically the same thing
[for me]. It's a mix of just luck, meeting the right people who allow you to do it and try to
do the best when you're there, be as valuable as you can when you do it, and you
hope that by doing that, it works. It's worked out for us. We've been lucky working for
the right people.”

Striker has established a reputation for being reliable about making albums on a regular
basis. When asked about the prospects for a new album, Dan says, “We've got some
new ideas,” but he points out that they want to do some things differently this time
around. Like what? They are seeking a more “collaborative spirit. More than just me
writing music at 8 in the morning. That might different than the music you make at 8 at
night with the band. Collaborative, more than just using a computer to write,” because
at this phase of their career, after six albums, they are thinking about how to keep
things fresh for themselves.

Perhaps they are feeling some pressure to deliver a great album. They needn’t worry.
The discography so far has been getting better and better! There’s no need to worry
when you have the work ethic, the experience, and knowledge that Striker has in
making fun and memorable albums.

Hellscream: Hate Machine Pure Steel Records July 26th, 2019

This U.S. entity assembles a very consistent album for die-hard fans of traditional heavy
metal. They eliminate the weak points of various subgenres and reconstitute it as a
thrashy form of heavy metal. What are the things that fans don’t like about thrash?
Very often people complain about the punk yelling, the nasal screaming, the lack of
singing skill in the hollering. On the other hand, traditional and melodic subgenres like
power metal often have mojo-destroying ballads. They frequently also lack horsepower,
and seem like bands who want to be boy/pop bands with a little bit more guitars. The
happy keyboards only confirm those suspicions.

Enter the music of Hellscream. It is David Garcia on guitar from the long-running band
Cage, and Imagika’s singer Norman Skinner whose versatile skills have impressed due to
a wide variety of vocal styles and abilities. They are joined by Casey Trask on guitar,
Sean Elg on drums, and Alex Pickard on bass. Imagine a band that likes the speed and
tempos of thrash, but gets rid of the substandard singing and punk elements, and
imagine a band that wants the catchiness and the singing of traditional heavy metal
and power metal, and makes it thrash power metal with strong singing—with no
ballads, no love songs—an album that personifies headbanging music. If you do not like
high screams, this is probably not for you. There are various tones to the voice, and air
raid siren is a fundamental part of it. The voice also has a lower tone that fits the
heavier, faster or somber segments. In addition, there is a more melancholic tone that
offers a third contrasting mood. A very convincing album. face-

Eternal Storm: Come the Tide Transcending Obscurity Records 23 August 2019
1.Through the Wall of Light Pt.I (The Strand) 06:49 2.Through the Wall of Light Pt.II
(Immersion) 07:16 3.Detachment 06:34 4.The Mountain 07:16
5.Of Winter and Treason 10:36 6.Drifters 01:24 7.The Scarlet Lake 07:55
8.Embracing Waves 11:18 total time 59:08

Perhaps the biggest factor working in favor of this album is the sensation of not only the
way the parts of the whole are put together but also the way that the music is
executed. The band has worked a lot towards reaching the level in which the music
sounds professional, ready for a bigger stage, even though they are not famous
internationally. It takes a good team of knowledgeable people to give the music a
platform that shows professionalism, and that’s the case here. In other words, for a
band that is not an international touring act, this album’s production is solid, and should
be a good experience for listeners into current melodic extreme metal. The band’s style
is extreme metal with emphasis on melodic and progressive songwriting. Comparing this
new album with their 2013 debut recording, the difference is stark. The 2013 recording is
very cool DIY melodic death metal in the style of the classics of that particular genre.
It’s a headbanging work, with lots of downtuned thrashy riffs and catchy songs. For fans
of classic-style melodeath, there is very little negative to say about the debut, if
anything. However, this 2019 album is a different situation. The atmosphere, the
progressive and the epic elements have come to the forefront much more now.

As of this writing (July 17th, 2019), there are two full

songs available now at Bandcamp. “Detachment”
has these bluesy, melancholic melodies that will
seal the deal for fans of the genre. In addition, at
the end, the band finds this simple melody and
they decide to hit it one time, then a second time,
then again repeatedly, and it is very effective. This
song is a good illustration of the essence of what
the band does.

The album’s second half, while done superbly, loses

a bit of steam. The progressive elements are a little
overbearing for non-prog audiences. The slow and
midtempo way that the songs are constructed
results in a shortage of headbanging metal moments. The first half of the album is a
good balance of headbanging, atmospheric, epic and progressive metal music, while
in the second the progressive side dominates, especially on the songs “Of Winter and
Treason” and “Embracing the Waves,” which are strong examples of the band’s push
towards longer, drawn out compositions that entertain and also invite repeated listens
to be understood better.

In conclusion, the album is a wonderful 2019 example of skilled melodic and progressive
death metal. For paying customers who are not die-hard prog fans, the second half of
the album may be less attractive due to the omission of the fast headbanging music.
Having said that, the album is a serious achievement for the band. Dedicated
customers of classic-style melodic death metal interpreted in 2019 are advised to put
this album on the purchase list, and as a candidate for a top ten album of 2019. This
band wants your business.

metal programs in Washington (Pacific Times)

Excuse All the Blood (Olympia, WA): Friday night 10pm-1am
Metal Shop (Seattle, WA): Saturday 10pm-3am KISW 99.9fm

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