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Arch Enemy w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 24th May 2015 by Pieni

Drone, Unearth, Arch Enemy
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
22nd May 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists

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Last time Arch Enemy played in Portugal, Angela Gossow and Nick Cordle were still in the band. So more than a concert by a great band promoting their latest album, this was also a welcome party to the amazing Alissa White-Gluz and the legendary Jeff Loomis. Oh, and double birthday party, since it was the b-day of Daniel Erlandsson and someone in their crew who I didn’t get the name of (sorry!).

 photo _DSC0089_zpsb9uzq3ud.jpgGerman post-thrashers Drone were the first ones on stage, bringing to life the expression “warm-up act”. The venue was far from full yet, but the response they got from the crowd made it sound like the almost sold out gig it later turned out to be. Singer/guitarist Mutz asked for a big mosh pit in “Welcome to the Pit”, as if to illustrate its title. Even being one of the early songs, when usually people are still “getting in the mood”, the crowd circled viciously.

During the following song (“Format C”, I think), both Mutz’s mic and guitar went mute. But the rest of the band didn’t hesitate in continuing, as well as the crowd, who started screaming loud heys to compensate the la ck of vocals. Bassist Fabian and guitarist Marcelo couldn’t stop smiling, and neither could I, happy to see how a technical problem was so easily turned around. But I guess metalheads know how to show their support when a band is delivering a great show. “Theopractical”, from their 2007 debut “Head-On Collision”, closed their half-hour set with a golden key. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/DroneMetal

 photo _DSC0353 copy_zpscdwtfovg.jpgA big part of the crowd had high expectations regarding Unearth and those expectations were totally met. And the Massachusetts metalcore band also seemed very pleased with the Portuguese – I couldn’t see Trevor Phipps’ face when he said how amazing both Porto and Lisbon (in the previous night) were, as the lights were extremely dim (alternated with blinding strobes) during their show, but one could sense the honesty in his words.

Officially promoting their latest “Watchers of Rule”, they didn’t focus entirely on it, performing a quite diverse setlist. But whether it was an oldie or a new song, they all fueled the crowd’s fire. In the last song, “The Great Dividers”, Trevor himself crowdsurfed over the thrilled audience. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/unearthofficial

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Despite all the craziness shown during both supporting acts, there was still a lot more in store for the headliners – the security guys had their hands even fuller now. I know the opinions divided when “War Eternal” came out, not just regarding the change in vocals but also the non-change in songwriting, but I doubt anyone can point a finger when it comes to live shows. At least this one in Porto was flawless. Well, okay, Alissa could have picked up the band’s flag in front of the audience during “We Will Rise”, in a victorious pose, mimicking the video, but let’s not be picky.

 photo _DSC0588 copy_zpsgzy2bika.jpgOf course Alissa isn’t Angela. Why should she be? She has a totally defined identity that actually suits Arch Enemy – it would be senseless to lose that and become a shallow rip-off of her predecessor. Listening to old songs such “Ravenous” with this new energy was surprisingly refreshing. Angela had a dominant posture and a powerful growl, and Alissa has a vibrant attitude and a vocal pitch somewhat higher – it’s not better or worse, just different. And it works damn well live.

She also made us scream along the choruses all the time, and incited to mosh circles, and, of course, asked to sing “happy birthday” to Daniel. And this time, it wasn’t just Michael Amott who shone in “Snow Bound”Jeff Loomis delighted all the guitar-freaks in the house. And always in those uniforms of theirs, despite the sauna-heat felt in the venue.

“Fields of Desolation” finished the set, but the show was only over after the trendy selfie, with the band holding a Portugal flag that a fan offered them. Sweet! (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/archenemyofficial

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Melechesh & Keep Of Kalessin w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , on 23rd May 2015 by Pieni

Embryo, Tribulation, Keep Of Kalessin, Melechesh
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
16th May 2015
Promoted by SWR Inc.

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Even if a co-headlining tour of Melechesh and Keep Of Kalessin sounded pretty good – and it was, oh how it was! – it’s probably a stretch to say the venue was half-full. It wasn’t lack of promotion or even lack of fans, as both bands have a somewhat solid fan-base around here. There’s just been a fair share of gigs, and Summer festivals are around the corner, and Portugal’s economic situation is far from great – people must make tough choices.

 photo _DSC0048 copy_zpsewygqo4h.jpgThey brought along two support acts, the first on stage being Italian Embryo. They add some synths to their death metal, but I’m not sure if “melodic death metal” is the most accurate to describe their sound. Whatever the label, they did good – even if the aforementioned small crowd was even smaller at the early hour they played at. On the other hand, the few people there gave a great response to Embryo’s performance, making them feel welcome, which always help with a band’s confidence.
They have recently (February) released their third and self-titled album, five years after the previous “No God Slave”. Apart from the title-track of the latter, the setlist was, understandably, comprised of songs from “Embryo”. (4/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/EMBRYO.DeathMetal

 photo _DSC0421 copy_zpsevyssxt7.jpgNow Tribulation, that was the undoubtful surprise of the night! I had heard of them recently – they’re featured in last month’s Sweden Rock Magazine – but it didn’t compel me to listen to their music; their image screamed black metal and I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the genre. Kids, never judge a book by its cover nor a band by its looks. Yes, their sound is rooted in black metal, but they add so many metal & rock elements to it, and play it live with such passion that they will enthrall even those who aren’t big on black metal (like me).
Like Embryo, Tribulation were promoting their latest third album, “The Children Of The Night”, which seems to be getting a quite good acclaim. I still didn’t listen to it, but I can totally vouch for the excellence of their shows. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/Tribulationofficial

 photo _DSC0648_zpsotiwuyi7.jpgIt had been a while since Keep Of Kalessin last visited our country (also with Melechesh, funny thing). In those four years, mastermind Obsidian Claw took the role of lead singer, and even though I liked Thebon, this 3-piece line-up suits the band. Plus, with Wizziac doing the many backing vocals that once were done by Obsidian, he’s forced to headbang less and you can finally get clean shots of the face behind that immensely long hair… Seriously, Obsidian has a great voice and having to play guitar at the same time didn’t jeopardize his wielding stage presence. In fact, it strengthen it – during the instrumental parts, he and Wizziac move around, trade places, occasionally play together, and then as if they’re battling each other… Yeah, this works better for Keep Of Kalessin.
And if there’s been mixed feelings among the fans regarding their latest “Epistemology” album, mainly complaining about how their “epic extreme metal” is not so extreme after all, the truth is that it’s a killer when played live.
I believe it was during “The Divine Land” that Obsidian’s guitar broke a string, leaving up to the other two members to finish the song on their own. As the problem wasn’t solved yet (Obsidian explained something about different tunes, which was kind of senseless to me and everyone else who doesn’t play guitar), Vyl got to entertain us with a drum solo. When the guitar was ready, Keep Of Kalessin finished their set with “Ascendant”. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/keepofkalessin

 photo _DSC0984_zps5znqmdrw.jpgAnd then came Melechesh, living up to the “fire” part of their name. Ashmedi was happy to be back in Porto, and since they’d be heading to Lisbon only at 8 am the next day, he was planning on partying all night, inviting the fans to join him. One thing he wasn’t so happy about, in fact he stated several times how much he hated it, was having to tune his guitar all the time. Funny guy.
At that other gig I’ve already told you about, with Keep Of Kalessin, back in 2011, I remember guitarist Moloch getting on stage with a black kerchief around his head and keeping it for a handful of songs until the heat forced him to remove it. This time, both his “Nomadic Soul” replacement and bassist Scorpios got on stage with that desert garment, but didn’t keep it past the first song “The Pendulum Speaks”. Shame, but totally understandable.
Between the songs of the recent “Enki” and classics such as “Genies, Sorcerers and Mesopotamian Nights”, “Triangular Tattvic Fire” and “Ghouls of Nineveh” – a song to which Ashmedi referred with a bit of sadness, as Nineveh was an ancient Mesopotamian city destroyed in a civil war – it was clear that Melechesh was the most awaited band of the night. And that’s why we were sad ourselves when their gig was over, after just one hour. Apart from that, it was perfect. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/melechesh

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Vagos Open Air 2015 closes its bill, adding two special guests

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 12th May 2015 by Pieni

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Portugal’s Vagos Open Air continues to grow. Last year, it extended its original two-day festivities to three, and this year opened up one more slot on the Saturday and Sunday line-ups. Those slots were taken by two Portuguese bands, granting promoters Prime Artists a thumbs-up for supporting the country’s metal scene. So this is how it’s going to play out (headliner-to-opener order):

Friday, 7 August:
WITHIN TEMPTATION (NL)
AMORPHIS (FI)
HEAVEN SHALL BURN (DE)
VILDHJARTA (SE)
MOONSHADE (PT)
SCAR FOR LIFE (PT)

Saturday, 8 August:
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY (USA)
VENOM (UK)
TRIPTYKON (CHE)
DESTRUCTION (DE)
MUTANT SQUAD (ES)
W.A.K.O. (PT)
FILII NIGRANTIUM INFERNALIUM (PT, special guests)

Sunday, 9 August:
BLOODBATH (SE)
OVERKILL (USA)
HALESTORM (USA)
ORPHANED LAND (IL)
NE OBLIVISCARIS (AU)
MIDNIGHT PRIEST (PT)
IRONSWORD (PT, special guests)

Taking place once again at Quinta do Ega, you can find all info on its official homepage: http://www.vagosopenair.eu/index_en.html

Through The Cracks – Hateful Things [EP]

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , on 10th May 2015 by Pieni

Through The Cracks
“Hateful Things” EP
Alt. rock
Self-release on 29th May 2015

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I’ve been keeping tabs on Through The Cracks ever since their first single “Breathless” was released – not only that’s a killer rock ballad, but I’m also well aware of Jimmy Bergman’s talent, from his work with The End Of Grace and other projects. And here I am now, listening to that faith being paid off.

“Learn To Run” follows the same path as “Breathless” (and “Marionette”, a second single that still featured Tillie Grundel on vocals), also flowing at an easygoing rhythm, but the fingering of the acoustic guitar sounds more delicate. On the other hand, the chorus has much more spirit, although always with that silky touch, intended to enthrall your sentimental side.

But as much power as they might put in their ballads, I was sure their writing would go beyond that. I must confess the dubstep in “Hateful Things” caught me a little off guard, but I should’ve known by now that there are no limits for Bergman’s creativity. Of course you’ll soon notice that no DJ is in the house, as the electronics are just spicing things up here and there. But the rest of the instruments already produce a loose, vibrant sound, making this the liveliest track in the EP. And the “more spirit” expression I used before? Well, those are pretty much the accurate words to describe Sara Lindberg’s wonderful voice and therefore more suitable than her predecessor for the wider goals this band intends to achieve.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always have the feeling that a piano can make a sad piece sound even sadder, melancholic even. And in music, such sadness is beautiful. That’s what you’ll hear coming out of the piano keys in “Mother” – a heartbreaking melody with a solid pulse. Just like its story, that tells you of a girl in a dark place holding on to hope by reaching to her mom.

If the latter is the most dramatic and “Hateful Things” the most cheerful, “Fail The Light” is the heaviest and sharpest song here, irreverence and determination in every note. Even that break with the string arrangements sounds defiant. Plus, towards the end, an extra touch of heaviness is added, courtesy of the boys’ harsh screams.

Four tracks, four flavors. Through The Cracks‘ songwriting trademark is not having one and I love them for it. After all, “variety is the spice of life”.

5 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Hardcore Superstar – HCSS

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 28th April 2015 by Pieni

Hardcore Superstar
“HCSS”
Hard rock
Released on 22nd April 2015
Via Gain Music

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Been struggling with the right words to write this for more than a week now. Is it a good album? Pretty much so. Do I like it? Not really. It’s far from the first time that I acknowledge the greatness of an album, even if that particular genre of music isn’t my cup of tea. The issue here is that Hardcore Superstar is one of my favorite bands and it’s hard to leave my personal disappointment out of the way.

First and foremost, “HCSS” lacks edge. The riffing is still heavy, but not vibrant, and it’s now more accurate to mention a “cheesy vibe” than a sleazy one. “Don’t Mean Shit” is probably the only song that still carries the Hardcore Superstar spirit of the last five albums, and maybe the reason why it’s the opening track – a passage between the past and the present. A very retro present. Nothing against the traditional hard rock of “Party ‘Til I’m Gone” (even though I prefer my rock less classic), but the dreamlike, nearly-psychedelic moments are too much Summer-of-the-drugs for me. But one might find those the cherry on top of the cake, the one detail that makes all the difference.

The rhythm in “The Cemetary” embraces another ‘70s facet, sounding just like The Clash’s “London Calling”. It gains a bit more spirit in the chorus, becoming really lively (no pun intended) and catchy. It’s a good song, but something I’d expect from the “No Regrets” era and not the Hardcore Superstar of today. In fact, now that I think of it, there’s a lot of that album and “Thank You (For Letting Us Be Ourselves)” in here. A bit twisted and revamped, but here. Guess music does run in circles.

I don’t know if any of the guys is a Procol Harum fan, but “Fly” surely feels like it was inspired by the English band. A classy melancholy that goes on for almost eight minutes and which will either delight you or bore you – there’s hardly a middle term. As for the groovy/funky “Touch The Sky”, I would go for “delight or annoy” – especially those verses in the beginning of the song, where you don’t understand a thing of what Jocke’s singing. Once again, one may consider that a touch of genius. Me, I’m not convinced.

I do like “Glue”, and once in a while the chorus of both “The Ocean” and “Off With Their Heads” pops happily in my head. But still… As a reviewer, I must congratulate Hardcore Superstar for their diverse and rich songwriting. As a fan, I confess I was expecting something else.

4/5

By Renata “Pieni” Lino

Skitarg w/ support – Gothenburg, Sweden

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 14th April 2015 by Pieni

BatAAr, The End Of Grace, Skitarg
Sticky Fingers, Gothenburg (SE)
10th April 2015
Promoted by NEMIS GBG

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Clown metal is a big thing in Sweden, at least when it comes down to Skitarg. But support acts BatAAr and The End Of Grace caused quite a fuss as well that night.

 photo bataar1_zpsvgxsjmry.jpgDespite my often trips to Sweden and the crash-course I’ve taken last year on its native language, I’m still not able to maintain a conversation in Swedish (reading is okay, talking not so much). This means I can’t tell you what BatAAr-Seb said to the screaming crowd that welcomed the band. But then again, it’s the music that counts, right? They themselves must think the same, as their borderline visual kei image is toned down once they’re on stage, in comparison to what you see in their videos and promo photos.
Between the exquisite prog of “Riskbreaker”, the spirited melodies of “The Distance” and “Owls And Snakes”, or the extremeness of “Refrain From Your Porcelain”, BatAAr’s sound may be hard to label in matters of genre, but pretty easy to do so in terms of quality: DAMN GOOD! Adding that to how comfortable they are on stage and how they give themselves to what they’re playing, it all can only result in a show worth attending to. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/BatAAr

 photo teog1_zps52y9pbfy.jpgJust like BatAAr, The End Of Grace also come from Gothenburg, but since Kriss is British and addressed the audience in English, I can be a bit more thorough regarding the singer’s speech. For instance, I can tell you about the at least half a dozen times he said “oh my God you’re fucking crazy” and “we love you all”. If you’ve been following our posts on these guys, you know I’ve been to quite a few TEoG shows, so trust me when I say that Kriss wasn’t kissing ass – this crowd was the most vibrant I’ve ever seen on a TEoG show. There was even a wall of death at the beginning of “Beneath The Waves”, right after a cool, melodic new intro – guess they got inspired by Frodd‘s remix of it for the B-side of their latest single “Final Burden”.
They’ve been hard-working on their upcoming debut album and less than a month since the release of the aforementioned “Final Burden”, they were ready to introduce another new song – a song about being in a band, how that means “brotherhood”, and so it’s only natural that it was named after the band itself. The response to “The End Of Grace”, the song, was as massive as to the rest of the gig, which makes me believe the album will get a killer feedback once it’s finally out.
And because of that brotherhood, this being drummer Thomas last show felt like “losing an arm”. He got quite an ovation from the crowd and then BatAAr-Seb got on stage to help Kriss sing the last song “Fist Face Bleed”. Thomas couldn’t have asked for a better farewell show. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/TheEndOfGrace

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The house had been crowded for both supporting acts, but for Skitarg it was fully packed, leaving no doubt that they lived up to their headlining status.
Sure, their creepy-clown makeup and flashy outfits cause an impressive visual impact, but if we strip those away, we’re still left with a very active and powerful performance. So if you’re thinking that Skitarg’s popularity is only due to their looks, think again. And songs such as “Jag Bryter Nacken Av Din Häst”, “Du Har Keps Och Knarkar” or “Utvecklingsstörd” made the crowd go wild in mosh circles and loud sing-alongs, proving my point.
At some point, close to the end, TEoG-Kriss joined on stage, not to sing but just to fool around with Barnet. Sadly I had already put away the camera, as the aforementioned mosh was too vicious for my bones’ sake and I had retreated to a safe point at the back. Yeah, it was that kind of show, that kind of party. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/skitarg

A big thanks to Martin Efternamn for the help with the Skitarg song-titles.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino.

Pentagram to release “When The Screams Come” on vinyl

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 5th April 2015 by Pieni

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In 2011, Pentagram released a live DVD recorded at Sonar, during the Maryland Deathfest VIII, at the end of the Liebling / Griffin reunion. Named after one of their most popular and oldest tracks, “When The Screams Come” will now (17th April, via Metal Blade Records) be released in vinyl, in three different versions – 180 g black, clear/blue splatter and red. All of them include a free poster.

The concert was too long to fit in just one record, but not long enough to fill two. So the B-side of record no. 2 features five bonus track, recorded at Heavy Halloween Show last October, Arts Riot, Burlington. The full tracklist is as follows:

Side A:
Day Of Reckoning
Forever My Queen
Ask No More
Run My Course
You’re Lost, I’m Free
Review Your Choices

Side B:
Petrified
Relentless
All Your Sins
Total

Side C:
20 Buck Spin
Sign Of The Wolf
When The Screams Come

Side D:
Death Row
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (cover)
Vampyre Love
Nothing Left
Relentless Reprise

Pre-order your copies at EMP or Metal Blade‘s EBAY-STORE.

In May, Pentragram will be playing live in central Europe:
May 21 – Antwerpen, Belgium
May 22 – Rock Hard Festival, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
May 23 – Backstage Halle, Munich, Germany
May 24 – Club Vaudeville, Lindau, Germany
May 25 – Arena, Vienna, Austria
May 27 – UT Connewitz, Leipzig, Germany
May 28 – SO36, Berlin, Germany
May 29 – Klubsen, Hamburg, Germany

https://www.facebook.com/pentagramusa
http://pentagramusa.com

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