HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Kuias - Winter In June
(Rage Of Achilles)

Love the looks of this one, sorta like that it's a 22 minute, four track EP, had hopes for it, hopes that seemed dashed after the screeching opening keyboards of the title track. But then a profusion of ideas, and a strange outsourcing to various divergent genres took hold. Strange one here, those keys are all COB, but the dark power metal vibe, kinda like Nocturnal Rites, Evergrey or Tad Morose, although this rocks hard and fast like Wolf crossed with melodic death. Last track Across The Snows is a little too power by rote for my liking, but more down this devilish progressive heart attack zone, and the upcoming full-length from this Finnish conundrum (with either short hair or no hair) might satisfy indeed.
Rating 7.5

Notre Dame - Demi Monde Bizarros
(Osmose)

Ex-Mercyful Fate/King Diamond (and more) drummer Snowy Shaw has re-engineered himself as one of metal's more wonderful eccentrics. This album, subtitled "songs about sex, satan and sado-masochism" is the band's second, after an exquisitely groovy debut called Vol 1: Le Theatre Du Vampire, which happened to have contained the greatest song of all 2000, called Vlad The Impaler - riff and rhythm fused so hard, you gotta hear it to believe it. Back with album #2, "Snowy And the Three Stooges" whip up yet another headbanging pastiche of elements never buddy systemed outside of their unique franchise. A combination of Motorhead, Entombed and soundtrack music would be the best way to describe this, smacked upside the head with doses of progressive thrash and Italian doom. Yet indeed, the album is a collection of songs, topped mostly with Vampiric male vocals, occasional female vocals and long stretches with no vocals, all housed within a maelstrom of hypnotic, percussive song states, enveloped in production values which are as uniquely calibrated as the band's weirdo credo. Magnificent, cleverly ironic, full of surprises.
Rating 9

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