Friday, October 21, 2016

Iotunn- The Wizards Fall (EP-2016)

Post #344

Iotunn are a metal band from Copenhagen, Denmark. I don't add them to any subgenre of metal off the top of my head, and their own page cites 'all the history of metal' as their influence. Indeed there are several styles you can hear them drawing from by just listening to one song. Perhaps the closest style you could put them in is power metal, but they have an edgier sound than a stereotypical power metal band. They do not quite approach the extremity of 'hardcore' metal, and although they're close to thrash, their music contains a few lighter elements so that's why I leave them as undifferentiated 'metal'.

The Wizard Falls is Iotunn's debut EP. It is also produced by Flemming Rasmusson, renowned for his production work on some of Metallica's early albums. Right away the title track gives you an impression of their sound: deep heavy riffs, soaring lead guitars, and a clean vocal style to match. THe next couple tracks follow pretty much the same formula, but the last track, Frost, has a melodic clean guitar intro and a more progressive song structure that shows more versatility from Iotunn.

For an independent release the production on this EP is fantastic. Each and every track is dripping with quality. If there is anything to hold them back from major success in the near future, I don't hear it. Check out this band. Stream this EP on their website or social media pages, download the tracks or buy it on CD. You will thank me for it.

My top recommendations from The Wizard Falls:
-The Wizard Falls
-Hammer of Injustice

Iotunn's links for...

And here's a little bonus. Their documentary of the making of this EP (with English subtitles).

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rest In Peace- Brian O'Callaghan of Sutured Psyche (1982-2016)

Post #343

There's an Iron Maiden song that says 'Only the Good Die Young', and the phrase could not be more true for Brian O'Callaghan, who played bass guitar in Sutured Psyche for several years. Brian lost a 3 year battle with cancer on October 13th. He was an upbeat person who always brightened the room he was in. Anyone who has ever met him remembers him fondly.

Though he was taken from us far too soon, his memory will live on through his friends, family, and band mates who remember him fondly, as well as through the music he created and performed on the local scene in Chicago and the surrounding area. Sutured Psyche recorded an EP, 'Bastard Nation', and 2 live recordings, 'None the Wiser' and 'One for the Road'. You can find these recordings through Sutured Psyche's various online websites and music outlets. Brian played on each of them. The best song to highlight his talent on the bass guitar is perhaps 'Crecy'. Live versions of that song are on each of the live recordings mentioned above.

 If you were lucky enough to have seen Brian perform with Sutured Psyche, or even better, to know him as a person, then you know what the world is missing now.  His family and friends are mourning his loss, as well as the local scene in Chicago. He may not have been a 'spotlight' type of player, mostly content to stay in the background while his band mates drew the attention of the crowd, but he was an integral piece of the bands he played in. In that respect, he was like a 'quiet legend' on the north-side local scene.

If you want to track down the music that Brian created as a part of Sutured Psyche then visit some of these links:

If you want to contribute to a cause in his honor, the family has asked for donations be sent to The Lynch Syndrom International- PO Box 19, Madison, CT 06443

Rest In Peace, Brian. You'll always be remembered!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

2016 Independent Band of the Year Reader's Poll

Post #342

It is time once again for the Independent Band of the Year poll here at! From now through November 15th the poll is open for voting. This year we have a field of bands that in addition to the music scene in Chicago and the surrounding ares, also reaches out to some countries in Europe! I think you'll enjoy all of these bands if you take a couple minutes to listen to a song from each of them. Vote for your favorite! Vote for a couple favorites! Share with your friends and on your favorite social media platform. At the end of the polling period, only 1 will become HappyHeadbanger's next Independent Band of the Year...

-DISSONA (Chicago IL, Progressive Metal)
This band is a progressive metal band from Chicago who put their own spin on the tones and song structures that you can have in metal. Parts of their songs sound like some elements of thrash, or ambient progressive rock, or hardcore, or symphonic metal, but then they go beyond and deliver something completely new.

Check out the song 'Another Sky'

-OCCULT DECEIVER (Indianapolis, IN, Blackened-Death Metal/Thrash Metal)
This Indiana band is perhaps the mot extreme metal band I've featured yet. Their vocal style ranges from the true guttural growls of death metal to the shrieking screams of black metal. If death metal is your preference, you need look no further. Check out Occult Deceiver and prepare for some serious extreme metal!

Check out the song 'Shattered Soul'

-ARES (Indianapolis, IN, Metalcore/Hardcore)
This band is a metalcore band in a style similar to bands like Fit For a King, or The Devil Wears Prada. Ares keep the vocal ratio heavily in favor of the hardcore screams, but melodic vocals are interspersed here and there.

Check out the title-track from their new CD, 'Fall of the King'

-EVIL ENGINE (Chicago, IL, Punk Rock)
This band delivers Punk Rock music akin to Bad Religion, with the twist of a female vocalist. They hit on all cylinders and fuse raw emotion with riffs and melody.

Check out their song 'Father'

-PROUDEST ANGEL (Chicago, IL, Metal/Hard Rock)
This band hits you with a raw and heavy tone, rocking out riffs that are right between a heavy punk rock and groove metal. Some melodic guitar phrases bring texture to a couple songs, and a deep vocal melody round out their formula.

-Check out their song 'Civilly Feral'

-WARG (Zaragoza, Spain, Epic Thrash Metal)
This band from Spain call their style 'Epic Thrash Metal', and true there are thrash riffs at the base of each song's foundation, but they incorporate elements of hardcore, folk, symphonic and operatic metal into different songs. Hearing is believing, so click the link below to hear for yourself

Check out the song 'Ancient Times'

-SUFFER NO FOOLS (Ealing, London, UK, Metalcore)
A melodic metalcore band from the London are of the UK, Suffer No Fools. Mix it up with some heavy riffs, melodic phrasing, clean tones, and a scratchy vocal performance that sometimes could fit in with 'post-grunge'.

Check out the song 'Prey'

Click the box next to your favorite band(s) in the right hand column to record your vote. Share this link with more and more friends to spread the word and encourage them to vote as well!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest 2016: Live at Elbo Room, September 3rd.

Post #341

On September 3rd, 2016, history was made as the first-ever Happyheadbanger Fest was held in Chicago at the Elbo Room on the north side of the city. 5 bands came out and played their hearts out for the faithful followers of independent music who came, saw, and rocked out with them. The evening was recorded live, and may be available in the future either through this blog or directly through the bands who performed. For now, I'll review the music that was played on this night.

The opening act was Fist to the Sky, the band who won my Independent Band of the Year contest in 2012. Brothers Mike and Phil Sylvester played an 'acoustic' set to open the show, as their drummer was unavailable for this night. They started off the night with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Simple Man'. They actually sounded close to the Shinedown version of this song. From there they mixed it up with some of their old songs, some newer original songs, a couple more covers, and even a song or two from their own side-projects.

With the crowd warmed up it was time for the next act... Next band up was Threatening The Order, a female-fronted metal band from Chicago. They played a fast and heavy set. The crowd got into it, there were fists in the air, and heads were banging. Their songs were driven by heavy riffs, and the singer brought a melodic element to each song. They did perform both songs they have available on their Reverbnation page to stream/download; 'Something to Prove', and 'Soul Inside'. They closed with another favorite track, 'Hold Your Breath'

Third band up, right in the middle of the line-up, was MEDIUMS. This was another change of pace for the evening. Mediums are a blues-rock band who have already drawn comparisons to Ben Folds with their sound. Having just started playing shows earlier this year, they filled in on short notice for another band that had to cancel. They kept things up-beat and kept the crowd into the music. They were quite entertaining, particularly their guitarist Henry Van Loon, who played a Hendrix-ish guitar solo at one point, complete with teeth-picking and behind-the-head playing. Even when one guitarist had a string break during their set, the rest of the band improvised a drum-solo and jam session while he re-strung his instrument, and they never missed a beat!

 The penultimate band of the night was Scars Of Armageddon, the current Independent Band of the Year on this site. They also played the most intense style of metal thus far, and they melted faces with their shredding progressive power metal. I recently reviewed their debut CD Never Sleep... Again, and they played 2 tracks from that release, including my personal favorite, 'Our Dying Day'. They also played several new songs from their follow-up CD which they are recording currently. Fists were pumping, heads were banging, and the crowd's energy was at its peak thus far.

Last but not least, was Proudest Angel, a Chicago-based metal-rock-punk band that gave the first ever HappyHeadbanger Fest an energetic and thrilling final set. Prior to their latest release, The Soundtrack to Your Next Bad Decision, Proudest Angel last released new music back in 2003. They played a couple songs from both their newer and older releases, but they also surprised us with a cool cover of Stabbing Westward's 'Shame', cleverly arranged as part of a medley with their own original song 'Starlight'. They hit us early and often with heavy riffs and powerful vocals. They closed their set with one of their older classics, 'Brink'.

And then it was in the books. HappyHeadbanger Fest 2016 had become reality, and hopefully marks the beginning of a tradition. In any event, this show was filmed and recorded. There may be audio and/or video material from this evening of independent rock and metal music available for you at some point in the future. Keep following, and keep up with local and independent bands near and far. Support your local scene wherever you are... Happy Headbanging to all!

Setlists for each band were as follows:
-Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
-Count Your Blessings
-Life So Free (War Horseman cover)
-Done With You
-One Dance (Drake cover)
-Forever We Will Stand
-Forever and After
-Not After Tonight

-Price to Pay
-Something to Prove
-Soul Inside
-Casting Molds
-Hold Your Breath

-If You Love a City
-Let Me In
-I Can't Take It Any More
-Only in Moonlight
-No Name #7
-Well Wishing
-Good Time
-Chasin' The Blues

-Dead End
-Never Sleep Again
-Our Dying Day
-A Good Day To Die

-Shoulda Known Better
-The Hyena
-Whole Again
-Civilly Feral
-Shamelight (A medley of Starlight and Shame by Stabbing Westward)
-We Had Fun

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Congrats to Kryssie from Evil Engine

Post #340 would like to congratulate Kryssie, from Evil Engine, for landing a spot on CBS's Big Brother: Over The Top. First episode premiers Wednesday September 28th at 9pm central time. There will be weekly 'episodes' Wednesday evenings, however it seems that Big Brother: Over The Top is intended more as a live event, to be accessed around the clock by CBS All Access subscribers. Curious? Learn more Here.

The HappyHeadbanger connection with Kryssie goes back to 2009 when I first heard of the band DEADMANSWAKE. Kryssie sang lead vocals for this band prior to her current punk-rock band Evil Engine. Both bands have been reviewed here at, and I look forward to reviewing Evil Engine's debut release, 'Nullius In Verba' soon after it becomes available. DEADMANSWAKE were my 2010 Independent Band of the Year, and Evil Engine will be featured this year, polling to open early in October... stay tuned for details. DMW still holds the record for most votes received by a single band in this annual contest. Will Evil Engine fare as well this year? Time will tell.

For now, enjoy Kryssie's 'introduction' video, and root for her in this Big Brother: OTT season!

 See my previous reviews of DEADMANSWAKE

and Evil Engine.

Friday, September 2, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 5: Proudest Angel

Post #339

Proudest Angel are a re-formed groove-metal/punk-metal band from Chicago. Performing at the first-ever HappyHeadbanger Fest, they're promoting their first album of new material since 2002. Entitled 'The Soundtrack to Your Next Bad Decision', it is available on their bandcamp page to stream or download. Here is their new music video: Civilly Feral.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 4: Scars of Armageddon

Post #338

Scars of Armageddon, The current Independent Band of the Year, are a power-thrash metal band, incorporating a classic metal vocal style akin to Iron Maiden or Metal Church. Check out this youtube audio track from their full length album Never Sleep... ...Again.

Monday, August 29, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 3: Fist To The Sky

Post #337

Fist to the Sky are a metalcore band from the suburbs of Chicago. At HappyHeadbanger Fest they'll be performing an acoustic set. A former 'Independent Band of the Year' from the 2012 contest, you can see my previous reviews of their music here.

Check out their official video for 'Another Lesson Learned'

Friday, August 26, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 2: Threatening The Order

Post #336

Threatening The Order are a female fronted heavy metal band, and graciously will be part of the festivities at Happyheadbanger Fest at Elbo Room in Chicago on September 3rd.Their sound is a bit comparable to the likes of Halestorm or Lacuna Coil, but a bit heavier.

Check out their song 'Hold Your Breath' here on their Facebook page.

Other songs available to stream on their Reverbnation Page.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview: Mediums

Post #335

Happyheadbanger Fest is rapidly approaching. On Saturday September 3rd, the Elbo Room in Chicago will host this brand new music fest. The bands in this line-up represent a wide range of the rock-metal spectrum. From indie-rock, to melodic metal, to extreme metal, Happyheadbanger Fest will feature a little of everything.

Here is a preview of MEDIUMS, the newest band added to the line-up. They're a melodic indie-rock band that are comparable to such acts as Ben Folds or Lucky Boys Confusion. This is from their debut performance "Only in Moonlight".

Follow MEDIUMS on Facebook.
Get your tickets for HappyHeadbanger Fest at the Elbo Room event page!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Suffer No Fools-Songs for the Restless Youth (2015)

Post #334

Suffer No Fools are a heavy metal band from Ealing, England (a borough of London). Fusing elements of melodic metalcore and classic heavy metal from thrash to NWOBHM, they offer a pure metal structure and deliver on headbanging riffs as well as shredding solos and a vocal style that has both aggression and hooks.

Songs for the Restless Youth is their debut album, however it could double as their mission statement! They write lyrics that frequently address current socioeconomic issues of today's youth. Their strength is in mid-tempo, heavy groove songs with  a hard-edged vocal delivery. They remind me at times of Avenged Sevenfold's sound on the 'Hail to the King' album, but other times are comparable to the melodic side of All That Remains. In any case you're in for some catchy and heavy songs that display both an innate talent and a social consciousness.

You can stream or download Songs for the Restless Youth at the Suffer No Fools Bandcamp page. Follow them on facebook for their schedule of shows in the greater London area, as well as updates on any new material they may be working on.

Recommended Tracks:
-The Bombing Campaign
-Forgiven or Forgotten
-Dirge of the Old Gods

Sunday, August 14, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest - 2016, at Elbo Room, Chicago. Saturday, September 3rd.

Post # 333

A rock and metal music fest that will primarily feature the independent bands featured here on this blog for the past seven years... HappyHeadbanger Fest will be sure to satiate every Chicago metal-head's need for headbanging! Featuring 3 previous winners of my 'Independent Band of the Year' annual contest, plus members from other previously featured bands, and a couple bands to be featured in this year's upcoming Independent Band of the Year Reader's Poll, this fest is as much about promoting the Chicago and surrounding area's music scene as it is about that scene supporting this blog in return.

In just under 3 weeks, Scars of Armageddon, the current Band of the Year, will be performing, along with previous Bands of the Year Her Name Is Mercy and Fist To The Sky. Other bands performing include Threatening The Order, Mediums, and Proudest Angel!

6 Independent Metal and Punk Rock bands! Fully Amped and Unplugged sets on 2 stages! MC'd by the Happy Headbanger Himself! This brand new music fest will have something for everyone...

HappyHeadbanger Fest will be at Elbo Room in Chicago on September 3rd at 8pm (doors open at 7pm). Tickets are $9.00 in advance through the Elbo Room's Ticket page, or direct from them bands if you're following them. Tickets will be $10 at the door.

Follow HappyHeadbanger on Facebook, the HappyHeadbanger Fest event page, The Elbo Room, and any of the bands performing to keep updated on this one-of-a-kind, and First Ever HappyHeadbanger Fest!

(Recent Update: Due to unforseen circumstances there has been a change in this line-up. Mediums has replaced Evil Engine for HappyHeadbanger Fest 2016.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WARG-In The Dusk Of Men (2016)

Post # 332
Warg are a metal band from Zaragoza, Spain. I might initially label them as a thrash metal band, but they incorporate many different subgenres into their sound including classic metal, death metal, progressive metal, symphonic metal, and folk metal. They have true diversity to their sound.

Their newest release, In The Dusk Of Men, is an excellent example of their metal capabilities.
They amaze me by their ability to sound eerily like In Flames in one song, Amon Amarth in another, and Epica in yet another!

One last interesting fact I'll mention pertains to their name. For those of you curious, it is indeed inspired from George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books, which in turn are the basis of HBO's hit fantasy series Game Of Thrones. They even have a couple songs that are inspired directly from the series.

This album seems to have something in store for almost any heavy metal fan. The vast array of styles they incorporate into their songs are woven seamlessly together. There are great guitar solos, complex song structures, melodic segments as well as hardcore. The vocal styles are varied even within songs. They even have a guest vocalist who helps round out the melodic side of vocals. This impressive fusion of several diverse heavy metal elements is something that truly mush be heard to be believed.

Stream and/or download at Warg's Bandcamp Page!

Recommended Tracks:
-I Am Death (The opening track is a fusion of thrash, folk, death, prog and melodic elements.)
-Ancient Times (an amazing blend of operatic and death metal!)
-Light Under the Shadows (Parts of this song may be categorized as a ballad, but at the same time it is much more than that!)
-In The Dusk of Men
-Wargs on the Horizon (a true thrahser! plus they have a music video for it!)
-Fate of Kings (this is one song with lyrics inspired by Game of Thrones!)