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W.A.S.P. – Golgotha

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , on 24th September 2015 by Pieni

Hard Rock
Release: 2nd October 2015
Via Napalm Records

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Over the 33 years of W.A.S.P.’s existence, mastermind Blackie Lawless has managed to forge a very characteristic sound – although his unique voice is quite the trademark already. Sure, he often cheats, by recycling some riffs and licks (if you’re familiar with the band’s discography, you’ve surely experienced some déjà vu moments), which means that’s what’s built around those “recovered pieces” that ultimately determine how good the album is. And the general outcome of “Golgotha” is pretty satisfactory.

So when “Shotgun” and “Slaves Of The New World Order” bring back memories from past songs, there will always be a refreshing tweak reinventing them. I must highlight the guitar solo on “Slaves…”, as it’s one of the most spirited in “Golgotha”. In fact, the guitar work is still the band’s strongest asset, the sound of those strings so enthralling that you won’t even realize how long the songs are – never shorter than five minutes, and three of them pretty close to eight! One of the latter is the beautiful “Miss You”; it’s quite uncommon for a ballad to be so lengthy, but then again, Blackie came up with the idea for this one when he was composing the legendary “The Crimson Idol”, so it’s only natural that “Miss You” has some uniqueness to it…

The darker, seductive rhythm of “Eyes Of My Maker” also stands out, but still my personal favorite is “Last Runaway”, for its spunky rock vibe. It also features a top-notch guitar solo, and the bass line is pretty much alive, but it’s overall more straight-forward and catchier than the other tracks.

There have been a few low-points in W.A.S.P.’s career, no doubt about it, but right now, 33 years and 15 albums later, yeah, they still got it.

4 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Mind Driller – Zirkus

Posted in CD, Industrial with tags , , , , , , , on 19th September 2015 by Pieni

Mind Driller
Industrial rock
Release: 25th June 2015
Via Red Mutante

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A few months ago, Mind Driller released their sophomore album “Zirkus”. And even if they have stronger tracks here to name the album after, I find “Zirkus” a title more than appropriate – once you hear it, you’ll find yourself dealing with a circus of emotions. Three voices (two male and one female) singing in three languages (English, German and Spanish) is already an interesting feature, but the music itself is just as attractive. I know that “industrial” and “German” in the same sentence will automatically light a neon sign reading “Rammstein” in your head (and okay, I admit there are a few occasions when the sound is somewhat similar), but the general outcome of Mind Driller is more vibrant and melodic than the grinding beats of Rammstein. Like “Lüg Mich An” or “Ich Bin Anders”, with their rock-ish vibe and catchy choruses. And Mind Driller are also able to seduce you into a goth/dark wave realm, through songs such as “Deadworld” and “Memories”. Rich in details and variations, “Zirkus” is a thorough and intense industrial album, from which I highlight “M4R10N3T4”, the aforementioned “Memories”, “Escape” and “Together (Chapter II)”.

I’m not very familiar with the Spanish industrial scene, but after listening to “Zirkus”, I dare saying that Mind Driller – along with Killus – are among the top bands that country produces within this genre.

4,5 / 5

By Renata “Pieni” Lino

Clan Of Xymox w/ Tracy Vandal – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 18th September 2015 by Pieni

Clan Of Xymox, Tracy Vandal
Hard Club (Sala 2), Porto (PT)
13th September 2015
Promoted by Muzik Is My Oyster

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Last Sunday, Clan Of Xymox and Tracy Vandal offered some unforgettable moments to the couple of hundred goth lovers who headed out to Hard Club that night.

 photo tracy_zpseazbkprl.jpgTracy – who made sure of letting us know that Tracy Vandal was a band, not just her, while pointing towards Pedro and Miguel – proved that not only she has a wonderful voice but also a bright sense of humor; the contrast between that and the sad, dream-like sound of her music was simply brilliant. Complaining about the high-heels and the tight dress the boys made her wear (“they don’t let me dress as a boy, they don’t understand how hard it is”) and saying she was only goth when she sang were just some of the most amusing lines. Then when she got into the middle of the crowd, to slow-dance among the delighted crowd, and the dress didn’t allow her an easy climbing back on stage, she leaned towards a young boy, clearly seeking for help. But the kid was so startled he didn’t move. When the song was over and Tracy was able to put the mike down and use both hands to get up there, she addressed the boy saying that when a fat, Scottish old woman needs help and you’re not strong enough to do it, you call a stronger guy. Obviously, everybody laughed. After consulting with Miguel – which she did all the time, actually, claiming that the boys kept the setlist a secret from her –, she announced “Explosions” as the last song.

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 photo _DSC0362_zpsdfjwahb5.jpgThen Clan Of Xymox was everything one could expect from a dark wave / gothic rock band – seductive, emotional, gloomy here, vibrant there… At 54, Ronny Moorings can be proud of being able to cause such an effect on people with both old and new songs, after almost 35 years with this band. Although, of course, the classics had more history, brought up more memories, and were naturally welcomed with more enthusiasm. “Louise”, “A Day”, “Jasmine & Rose”, “Muscoviet Mosquito”… and yet so many others were left out. But at the same time, every single song was worth it – covers of “Venus” (Shocking Blue) and “Heroes” (David Bowie) included – the latter closing the show. There’s not much more I can say, as magic can hardly be put into words.

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Kadavar – Berlin

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , on 15th September 2015 by Pieni

Psychedelic/stoner rock
Release: 21st August 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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Kadavar don’t recreate the psychedelic rock of the seventies – they actually live it, in this moment. So whilst is necessary to mention that period of time in order to make you aware of what you’ll hear here, it’s not entirely accurate to bring it up, because these Germans play it naturally now, in the second decade of the year 2000.

“Berlin” is the band’s third album in four years, so at least for now, the creativity is flowing swiftly. And widely. Their song-writing isn’t static, going from raw rock’n’roll (“Lord Of The Sky”, “Filthy Illusion”, “Into The Night”) to light stoner (“Last Living Dinosaur”, “Stolen Dreams”), and then it tops in the sweet in-between where both sounds meet and complete each other with the best they have to offer – the riffs. It’s all about the riffs and solos, to be honest. It’s the band’s richest feature and “Berlin” is like a treasure chest of them; no point in naming songs as, one way or the other, all tracks comprise an intense and dazzling work. But I do have to mention “Reich Der Träume”, a cover of the late avant-garde artist Nico. Instead of making a psychedelic version of it, so it would sound more like them, this turned out close to a lullaby. But then again, Träume is German for dreams… What I mean is that it was a surprise to hear something like this performed by Kadavar, but a very pleasant one.


By Renata “Pieni” Lino

We Are The Catalyst w/ Through The Cracks – Gothenburg, Sweden

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 13th September 2015 by Pieni

We Are The Catalyst, Through The Cracks
Klubb Defused, Gothenburg
4th September 2015
Promoted by Kriss Clark/Klubb Defused

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After rating their debut EP, “Hateful Things”, 5/5 (read here), I wanted to see if Through The Cracks could match it up live. They can.

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In support of We Are The Catalyst, Through The Cracks took the stage for the first time last weekend, at Klubb Defused/Sticky Fingers, in Gothenburg. It was precisely the title-track of their EP that kicked off the show, the first notes extended and revamped to form an intro. The crowd didn’t stand that close to the stage, which disappointed me a bit, but every time I glanced back, they were moving their bodies to the rhythm, and would cheer loudly at the end of every song – so the distance, in this case, wasn’t a bad sign after all. All members of the band were quite restless themselves, Jimmy (guitar) and Niklas (bass) even synch-jumping at some point, and Sara headbanging that red hair of hers, as beautiful as her voice, never going out of tune once, not even at the highest notes. After the songs from the aforementioned EP, they closed the gig with a thrilling new song, “Soulless Man”, that follows the heavier path Through The Cracks have announced wanting to ride on. “Soulless Man” should be released as a single this fall.

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We Are The Catalyst were more popular among the crowd, as they’ve been around for about three years now and have a longer discography – an EP from 2013, “Panem et Circenses”, and a full-length from last year, “Monuments”. There was even a group of what seemed to be die-hard fans (and probably friends) of bass player Joni, as they kept screaming his name. But friendships apart, the band’s good, really good. They play alternative rock, just like their support act, and also have a girl – Cat – as lead singer; but guitarist Kenny take a big part in the singing, and the combination of both is quite powerful. Songs such as “Never Fall”, “Not Alone”, the catchy “Fight For Air” and the brilliant cover of Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” kept everybody in high spirits.

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In a nutshell, I had a blast: witnessed the live premiere of a promising act, and got to know another dynamic rock band. My trips to Sweden always pay off.

Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

Five Finger Death Punch – Got Your Six

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 10th September 2015 by Pieni

Five Finger Death Punch
“Got Your Six”
Release: 4th September 2015
Via Prospect Park
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I confess I was taken aback by the level of… restraint in the new Five Finger Death Punch album, and not in a good way. But after listening to it a few times, “Got Your Six” has grown on me. The more melodic approach I, at first, saw as shallow is actually a refinement process.

The band’s respect for the USA army is well known so I was surprised that it took them so long to name an album after a military expression. And given its strong meaning, it’s also natural that “Got Your Six”, the opening track, is one of those songs that you immediately identify as Five Finger Death Punch’s when you first hear it. The punching beat (no pun intended), the fluid guitars… somewhat less aggressive than usual, but it still has the band’s trademark sound all over it.

“Jekyll And Hyde” is intense rather than brisk, the drums in the chorus almost like a hypnotic mantra and the “oyoyo!” a clear invitation to sing-along. It was on the next track, “Wash It All Away”, that the doubt started to bite, as I found the chorus way too much pop-ish. The main riff is quite melodic too, but in a way that will win you over immediately. The catchiness of the chorus eventually triumphs and you realize how good this song actually is, but it takes a while. Pretty much the same with “Question Everything”, where somberness and heaviness take turns as the leading role of the melody. Once again, not really an edgy song, but very well written. And the acoustic solo is stellar!

You’ll find plenty of edginess on “No Sudden Movement” though, so it’s not like they dismissed the fast lane completely. And the cranking guitars on both “Meet My Maker” and “Hell To Pay” bear that dear ol’ feisty spirit of 5FDP – not to mention “Boots And Blood”, an ode to the F word. It’s only “Ain’t My Last Dance” and the ballad “My Nemesis” that I’m still struggling with, both being somewhat too average for my taste (and the sudden change of pace in the chorus of the first doesn’t feel right to me). The other ballad, “Digging My Own Grave”, may not be exactly spectacular, but the seductiveness of its melody will linger in your ears.

“Got Your Six” is definitely Five Finger Death Punch’s more polished album so far and that’s why one might be skeptical. But give it a couple of tries and you’ll see how toning down the rage isn’t that bad after all.


By Renata “Pieni” Lino

Casainhos Fest 2015

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 7th September 2015 by Pieni

Mata-Ratos, Angelus Apatrida, Devil In Me, Simbiose, Hills Have Eyes, Reality Slap, Viralata, Tales For The Unspoken, Backflip, Dimension, Artigo 21, As They Come
S.C.Casainhos, Loures (PT)
29th August 2015
Promoter: Tiago Fresco

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Casainhos is a small village in the central region of Portugal (less than an hour to the north of Lisbon) that has been holding this commendable festival since 2012 – more than supporting/promoting the underground scene, it brings together its different subgenres, showing how metal, punk and hardcore are all part of a big, happy family. Like Poli (Dimension, Devil In Me) would say, a festival for open-minded people, people who won’t judge you, whether you’re wearing black or pink.

Stoner/Southern rockers As They Come opened this year’s edition, at 3:30 p.m. sharp. The punctuality at this fest gets another thumbs-up, by the way. And it proved that 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time for intermission between sets.

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Despite the unholy heat, As They Come fans were restless. After all, most of them had contributed to the band’s presence at the festival, by voting in a contest promoted by Rock On Música music shop – the same shop that got a bus and organized a roadtrip from São João da Madeira to Casainhos. Singer Sick Danny even dedicated the last song, “50 Miles”, to the shop owner Vitinha, who was then carried by the crowd. Soon afterwards, that crowd would invade the stage to party up there with As They Come. The fest could have hardly begun in a better way.

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Punk rockers Artigo 21 came next and they also had a fair share of fans singing along songs such as “Contradição” (contradiction) or “Espera Por Mim” (wait for me). The band is somewhat recent (2012) but the musicians aren’t exactly kids – at some point, when tuning a guitar took a little longer and someone in the audience complained, one of them said something like “take it easy, we’re old people”. On a more serious note, they announced that bassist Aureo had just become a father, to which everybody applauded. All the best to him and his family!

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Another new band featuring veteran members is Dimension. Groovy hardcore “straight outta the nineties” – and for those who grew up in that decade, Poli dedicated the Sepultura cover “Slave New World”. But that was just a bonus, as their original songs, taken from the debut “Life Is A Mystery”, were enough to win the crowd over, proving the band’s worth both on stage and in the studio.

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Backflip play a more straight-forward hardcore, with a female lead singer that kicks as much ass as any guy in the same position. Not sure when they were formed, but they’ve played in all editions of Casainhos so far, and their EP “New Ticket, New Journey” was released in 2011, so they’ve been around at least since then. The debut self-titled full-length saw the light of day in 2013 and features a few guests from other great underground bands, but that afternoon it was the crowd who helped Inês Oliveira (and guitarist Pedro Morais and bassist João Vidigal) sing along.

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Tales For The Unspoken, on the other hand, had Raça from Revolution Within sharing the stage with them and singing “Taken”, from the band’s second album “CO2”. Their mix of thrash and death and groove metal kept the moshers busy. “CO2” was released in April, so they focused the set on it, but revisited the debut “Alchemy” with “Say My Name” and the usual closing theme “N’Takuba Wena”.

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Back to punk rock, Viralata took the stage. A few problems with Ulisses’ guitar cable delayed the show for a few minutes, leading the singer to joke “what a grand start-up”. Their music is great, but it’s the lyrics – amusing as hell – that make them so popular, meaning that if you don’t speak Portuguese, you’ll miss the essence of Viralata. But if you were there, you’d certainly be carried away by the high spirits of both band and crowd. There was even a fan who climbed on stage and sang the lyrics to “Carocho” (if memory serves me well), totally unexpected but welcomed by the band. Huge fun!

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Hardcore act Reality Slap latest album, “Necks & Ropes”, dates from 2012 but the band’s been working hard on its successor, hoping to release it this year still. Singer Johnny (or at least I think that’s his name – guys, please add who does what in the band in your Facebook page!) said something about not playing live in a while, but either “a while” is a little less than four months to him, or he meant playing in national territory, as the band toured through a few European countries last Spring. Whatever the case, this return to the stages was flawless, and when Johnny jumped to the middle of the crowd, pointing the mike to the fans, many were eager to take on the singer’s role.

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Despite the rich bill of the festival, I confess it was only Hills Have Eyes that made me ride those 190 miles. So I won’t say their concert was the best, as more than presumptuous it would sound biased; but since I had people coming to me in the end – people who had never seen HHE before, despite their +10-year career – saying that now they understood why I liked that band so much, that I had good taste in music, it’s not the fangirl but the reporter that tells you WHAT A HELL OF A SHOW! This was probably the last gig before the release of their third album, “Antebellum”, scheduled for this month, but still only the first single “The Bringer Of Rain” was performed. The title-track of the previous album, “Strangers”, closed their set.

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From the metalcore of Hills Have Eyes, the festival moved on to the crust/metal/punk of Simbiose. Formed in 1991, it was the band on the bill with the longest career, after headliners Mata-Ratos (the latter born in 1982). “Trapped” is the title of their latest, sixth album (released in March) and songs such as “Ignorância Colectiva” (collective ignorance), “Acabou A Crise, Começou A Miséria!” (the crisis is over, the affliction has started) or “Modo Regressivo” (regressive mode) are some of the new tunes – with the same old social and political critique – that were part of one of the most brutal sets of the fest.

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Devil In Me are among the high-rank Portuguese hardcore bands and it will only take a couple of songs for you to understand why. Once again, Poli brought up the open-mindedness (and lack of it) subject, and staying true to one’s self – how he still loved hardcore now, as a grown man and family man, as much as when he was 15. Adding how much he missed his daughter that night, he invited all parents present to come up front and party. It seems that their new album will be out in October (“Soul Rebel”), but the title-track has been performed live several times now and everybody knew how to scream the chorus verse: “soul rebel… like a lion”.

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Angelus Apatrida was the only non-Portuguese band of the fest, old school thrash metal from “country next door” Spain. But they’re part of the family, not just for the solid fan-base they’ve built here over the past years but also for recording a couple of albums here, at Ultrasound Studios, and becoming good friends with many local underground bands. One of the most notorious is Switchtense and singer Hugo Andrade even got on stage to sing “Fresh Pleasure” with Guillermo Izquierdo. Whether they were songs from the new album “Hidden Evolution” or oldies like “Vomitive” or “Give ‘Em War”, the circle pits were as restless as the thrash that was fueling them.

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A lot of people left after Angelus Apatrida – not exactly because Mata-Ratos aren’t good at what they do (hardcore punk) but because they haven’t released anything new in eight years, and after eleven bands, half of them performing  while the sun burnt at an average of 86ºF, it became easy to dismiss the headliners. But there was still a good handful of survivors, ready to scream their lungs out at classics like “C.C.M.”, “A Minha Sogra É Um Boi” (my mother-in-law is a cow) or “Deus, Pátria E Família” (God, homeland and family).

According to the promoters, circa 800 people attended this fest. Don’t think any had a single reason to be disappointed. I hope this fest will continue to thrive and many more editions will follow. I also hope every country has someone committed to their underground scene like we have Tiago Fresco and his crew here (among others) in Portugal.

Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

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