Archive for the Folk Category

Lumous Gothic Festival 2014

Posted in Alternative, Festival, Folk, Industrial, Live, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on 6th July 2014 by izaforestspirit

Lumous Gothic Festival 2014 @ Tampere, Finland

Two Witches, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Leaether Strip
Klubi, Tampere
4-5th July

Lumous Gothic Festival is Finland’s largest goth event. It was established back in 2001 and has become an annual event held in central Tampere. The music on offer is strictly non-metal, ranging from goth rock, darkwave, industrial and EBM to neofolk. The actual festival is a four day event but the main shows take place on the Friday and Saturday.

Friday
The opening act was meant to be the Russian Harsh EBM band Steelgrout. Sadly they were unable to make it due to some problems with their Visas. Their replacement was the Jyväskylä-based Finnish EBM act Unzyme. Before their substitutes started, they actually played a message from Steelgrout to the audience in which the Russian band apologizes for not being able to make it. Unzyme describe their sound as “biomechanical pop” which is essentially synthpop with lab experiments as a their main theme. Their set was entertaining and it was a good start to the night. 3.5/5
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Next up was the Swedish goth rock band Malaise. I’m not a massive fan of goth rock, but these guys were better than I expected. They combined the classic goth rock sound of bands like The Sisters of Mercy and Fields of The Nephilim with EBM for a sound that is truly unique and memorable. I really enjoyed their set and this was my favourite performance of the night. 4/5
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The final act of the night was another Swedish band – Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio. Their sound is not an easy one to classify; it’s a mixture of dark ambient, neofolk and industrial. They are a returning act to Lumous having played their before back in 2002. Their music has this eerie, soundtrack feel to it and the pace is mostly slow. The problem I had with them is that they were playing dark ambient in the early hours of the morning, by which time my energy was running out. I was too exhausted to stick around until the end of their set. 3/5
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Saturday
The night started with a performance by the Latvian industrial band Autogen. Their style is a mixture of industrial noize and rhythmic/powernoize with an experimental flare akin to the likes of The Klinik. Some tracks were more danceable than others. They also had an interesting range of stage props ranging from fake blood, a fire extinguisher and a contraption that looked like a defibrillator. Their set was definitely entertaining as a result, but I wasn’t super keen on the music itself. 2/5
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Next up was the Finnish rock band Two Witches. Their lead singer Jyrki Witch is one of the organizers of the festival. I like their old songs but I’m not too familiar with their new work. Luckily they played a mixture of old and new material including “Zombie Walk” (from the latest album) along with some old classics such as “Vampire Empire” and “Burn The Witch”. They are one of the best and the most energetic goth rock bands that I’ve seen in a while. 4/5
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The night ended with a performance from the main band I came to see, the Danish harsh EBM duo Leaether Strip. I’ve seen them live last year and it was great to see them again. These guys really give it their all, playing all their hit tracks including “Evil Speaks”, “Strap Me Down” and “Don’t Tame Your Soul”. It didn’t take long before I joined in, dancing along with the rest of the audience. 5/5
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

So there you have it. Another summer, another Lumous Festival. It’s always great to see that the goth and industrial scene in Finland is alive and well. I just wish that they would organize more events like this in the future.

Iza Raittila

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Tuomas Holopainen – The Life and Times of Scrooge

Posted in CD, Folk, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on 14th March 2014 by hammersmashedlauren

Tuomas Holopainen
The Life and Times of Scrooge
Released: 11th April, 2014
Folk/Symphonic Rock
Released via Nuclear Blast

Being his first solo record, Tuomas Holopainen did an outstanding job of creating a masterpiece that is very different from anything he has ever done in his primary band, Nightwish. This is a concept album that is based off of the Disney novel, The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, and if this book did have a movie, I’m confident that this album would be the soundtrack. There are, of course, keyboards and a symphony which doesn’t branch too far from Nightwish, but there are also elements of folk heard at different times which gave this the light-hearted, childish feel you might get from a Disney movie.

Many musicians helped to create the album, and most of them were not from metal bands. However, Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica played the part of the “storyteller” and one of Nightwish’s newest members, Troy Donockley, played the pipes and whistles. I like that even with the help of metal musicians, it still did not derive away from the over feel of the album. There are some times when songs definitely were a bit more aggressive and heavier, and that subtle influence was enough to remind me that this album was made by a metal musician.

One track in particular, Cold Heart of the Klondike, had an intro that reminded me a lot of something that Nightwish would have written. This is probably because it starts out with primarily the keyboards and then gradually goes into violins paired with dramatic choir vocals, and that’s something I would expect to hear on any kind of symphonic metal album. While I greatly enjoyed these small bits of fast and epic music, it’s primarily what I looked forward while listening to this album. I felt that the tracks were much too long and kind of dragged out after a while. The only tracked I really enjoyed listening to was their single release, A Lifetime of Adventure. To me, it was the most memorable because it had the most vocals and didn’t drag out for too long. While the other songs were done beautifully, they were just entirely too long and repetitive for my liking.

Overall, this album was a great listen. I highly recommend picking it up once it is released next month if you are a fan of symphonic, folk, or power metal. A Lifetime of Adventure has a music video out if you want to preview what the album actually sounds like as well. I was impressed by the musicianship and overall quality of this album, and I hope Tuomas Holopainen continues to make more solo records.

4.5/5

Lauren Gowdy

Ben Parcell – Expectations

Posted in CD, Folk, Pop Punk with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 5th September 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Ben Parcell
Expectations

Released 14th September 2013
Acoustic/Folk/Pop Punk
Released via By The Sea Records

Since becoming a solo act, Ben Parcell has gained a relative amount of fame through the East riding area and beyond for his soul-fuelled songwriting, distinctive voice and hard working attitude. Ben has clocked over 250 shows around the UK, playing both gigs and festivals. Taking influence from a wide range of different acts and genres such as Frank Turner, The Beatles and Green Day, Ben has established his own sound whilst staying true to his roots.

Opening up the album is the title track, Expectations, which proves to be a gentle yet honest song filled with emotive lyrics as well as distinctive accompaniment of piano. Out Of Here has a different sound all together, with a new pulse added to it by the use of percussion while the lyrics and vocals a certain tension to the music that rings out with all the strength of church bells minus the inducement of headaches. The use of guitar has a slight jig to it, blending in elements that are hard to explain. Gracie Falls‘ vocals inject a docile but rare touch into the song.

Forget The Pain has a misty, Stygian atmosphere that is reflected gracefully through each note and dances seductively with the lyrics. Given the darkish sound of the song, would it be safe to classify this as doom folk? Painted By Numbers is the upbeat number that appeared on Ben‘s EP of the same name (the review of which can be found here). The backing vocals, as provided by Edwina Hayes, adds a pillar of strength to the song while Ben‘s vocals and guitar work laid the foundations. I Don’t Need You continues with the upbeat tempo though the lyrics and vocals leave a trail of dusk and solemn feelings in their wake – A contrast that clearly works well for Ben. The piano medleys add a handsome sound to the song, keeping it fresh yet gloaming.

Undertow sails down a similar route to that of the opening and title track Expectations but some interesting changes of course throughout its journey whereas Jetsam a stable and silky campaign from beginning to end – A perfect chill out song. Stay In Touch is another song from Ben‘s Painted By Numbers EP and makes for easy and pleasant listening, though the pace picks up ever so slightly after the introduction. Too Late To Say Goodbye also appeared on Painted By Numbers, capturing the sobering and reflective side of Ben‘s music. The last song to feature on the album from Painted By Numbers is Love Song, which rings out with emotional lyrics and soul-filled music.

The album finishes up with Light At The End Of The Tunnel. The guitar passages whistle out a partially majestic sound, underlying the subtle emotional tones in Ben‘s voice. The organ sounds summon up a thoughtful, somber sound that makes the song almost infused with doom-flavoured elements which are eventually added by the grave use of Black Sabbath-based electric guitars.

Since his career began as an acoustic act, Ben Parcell has slowly become one of the well known musicians of East Yorkshire’s acoustic and folk scene and Expectations is a testament to Ben‘s talent and is one of the most important albums in the East Yorkshire’s folk scene – If not, the UK’s. Blending influences and elements from different genres and musicians, Expectations also clearly shows an evolution in Ben‘s sound and style.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Ben Parcell online:

http://www.benparcell.com
http://benparcell.blogspot.com
http://gplus.to/benparcell
http://benparcell.bigcartel.com
http://benparcell.bandcamp.com
http://www.twitter.com/benparcell
http://www.reverbnation.com/benparcell
http://www.myspace.com/benparcell
http://www.soundcloud.com/benparcell

Katatonia – Dethroned And Uncrowned

Posted in CD, Folk, Instrumental, Metal with tags , , , , , on 9th August 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Katatonia
Dethroned And Uncrowned
Released 9th September
Ambient/Atmospheric
Released via Peaceville Records

Kings of the Swedish metal scene, Katatonia have been regarded by many as the forerunners of doom with last year seeing the release of the band’s ninth studio album Dead End Kings, which was praised throughout the metal community. A year on and Katatonia are ready to release a new and redefined version of their ninth album: Dethroned And Uncrowned.

The dreary vocal lines and misery-soaked pianos begin The Parting which is made by entrancing by the rainfall of acoustic guitars, gently easing their way through the song. The subtle orchestrated passages add to the strength of the emotion that flows throughout the track. The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here features a hypnotic vocal melody that glides with a certain mystique and elegance alongside the haunting pianos and tides of acoustic guitars. The piano sections in Hypnone are truly spine-chilling,  whereas as the guitars add an element of warmth to the song which is countered by the could vocals.

The Racing Heart is a slow, emotive song displaying the staunch use of vocals clearly, mixing them almost breathtakingly with the orchestrated sections and guitars. Buildings and Leech sail down similar routes, over subtle waves of misery and other emotion. The vocals on Ambitions sound colourless compared to the other tracks but this adds to the forlorn sound of the guitars and piano. The destitute soundings of Undo You show a change in the album whilst staying in the same vein of the album as well, something that is carried on by Lethean.

First Prayer sound eerily upbeat when played against the rest of the album but there is still that twang of despair that screams through the guitars and the album comes to its dreary finish with Dead Letters, which like the preceding track, is more upbeat in comparison to the other songs. The vocals prove to be at their most prominent on this final track, injecting new life into the album.

Dethroned And Uncrowned creates an atmospheric yet dark tranquillity, allowing for ambiance to create and set new moods and stir new emotions. It’s an interesting change in direction for Katatonia but one that have no difficulty with following and no that has breathed new life into their sound.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Katatonia online:

http://www.katatonia.com
http://www.facebook.com/katatonia

 

Cnoc an Tursa – The Giants of Auld

Posted in CD, Folk, Metal, North of the Wall with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 2nd March 2013 by underthenorthernstar

Cnoc an Tursa
“The Giants of Auld”
Released: 25th February 2013
Folk/Black Metal
Released via Candlelight records

I’ve been waiting for the new Cnoc an Tursa album to be released for a good while now; their 2008 demo has sterling songwriting, and their sound was begging for a bigger release. So when I heard that they had been signed to Candlelight Records in October last year, I started getting excited; the number of folk/black metal bands who have released near-perfect albums on candlelight is staggering – Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone, Falloch, Altar of Plagues, the list goes on. So, what was the result of such an immaculate pairing? The newly released The Giants of Auld, of course.

With a scream of “Sons of Alba, rise in the face of tyranny!” the album begins. And what an album; the sound is an intense blend of folky melodies, intense black metal and haunting, deeply emotional choirs and flute – the closing track, Blаr na h-Eaglaise Brice, is a purely instrumental, minimalistic celtic folk piece, and one of the best of its kind that I have heard – bringing together a hugely immersive atmosphere. Despite Cnoc an Tursa not being a band in quite the same pigeonhole as their contemporaries, the achieve a very similar sound that, to me, is equally conveying of the band’s passion for its country’s history. One could be forgiven for worrying, having listened to the 2008 demo, that their earlier songs (which, for the most part, comprise the first half of the album) could have become over produced, too clean. Thankfully, this is not a problem; the album is not without an edge, not without its humanity.

The songwriting (let me leave no doubts about this) is flawless. The Lion of Scotland and Hail Land of my Fathers are completely full of hooks, and you will find yourself humming each and every individual melody in those songs, which is something very hard to achieve on what is very predominantly a black metal album. Something that this album “gets”, is that you can have huge, catchy melodies without being at all cheesy. I never for one moment found myself saying that a particular section was misplaced. In addition to this, the band never lets melody cheapen the album; a problem that many bands have is they oversaturate their sound with keys, making the songs “catchy”, but far less powerful. Keys are definitely present in this album, but they very much provide a supporting role, building the sound from the foundations up.

So, I have not been disappointed; more encouraged. Cnoc an Tursa continue to be a fantastic band. This album is consistent, immersive, and above all, genuine. Very few metal bands can communicate quite this level of passion through their music, and I will come back to this album time and time again. Fantastic work, and one of the best releases of the year from one of the best bands to come out of Scotland.

5/5
Alasdair “Scotch Egg” Dunn

Æther Realm – One Chosen by the Gods

Posted in CD, Folk, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 4th February 2013 by Hammi

Æther Realm
One Chosen by the Gods
Released 8th January 2013
Folk/Death Metal
Self-Released

North Carolina’s Æther Realm- no, they’re not from Finland- are a brilliant band that play no holds-barred, folk spirited metal that rouses the soul and provides an excellent soundtrack for generally epic activities- from pillaging villages to playing Skyrim. Their debut album, ‘One Chosen by the Gods’ is a solid and impressive offering that is incredibly atmospheric, and very strong from the first track to the last.

Opening on the mighty ‘Oak’, the album dives headfirst into epic folk melodies that are intertwined expertly with harsh vocals and an excellent use of both hard, metallic riffs and a softer, instrumental sound. As with the rest of the tracks, the lyrics are effective and play along to the ‘Viking’ theme exceedingly well. Second track ‘Journey of Discovery’ begins with an atmospheric, almost cinematic sound. In fact, this wonderful song in its entirety would be suitable for a fantasy epic. Fantastic effort here, with a good use of vocals and instrumentation throughout. This epic quality continues with ‘Hourglass’, which also contains a nice variation in tempo throughout, and helps to keep the album as a whole even more interesting. There are some very intricate melodies at play here, which adds to the multi-layered feeling of the track altogether. The band’s namesake song, ‘Æther Realm’ is a much faster paced track, with a heavy, stomping tempo that is reminiscent of horses galloping into battle. As heard on the previous song, this track contains some nice tempo changes and this helps to showcase the talent of the band well.

If I had to pick a favourite of the nine tracks on offer here, track number five would probably be it- but the fact it was so difficult for me to decide this shows how strong all of the songs on this album are! ‘Swampwitch’ is an incredibly catchy tune, with an infectious refrain and an impressive and not too excessive guitar solo. I particularly like the group of voices shouting the title throughout the chorus. Eponymous track ‘One Chosen By The Gods’ has a ferocious beginning, and it doesn’t disappoint as the track progresses. It’s a fantastic, rasping battle-cry of a song, complete with pounding, machine-gun drums. There’s an interesting use of symphonic keys in the mix here, which adds another melodic element to the track and lends it an almost video game-esque quality to the sound. Next song, ‘Ravensong’, includes a great use of choral vocals, with (the almost signature) sweeping melodic background- another excellent song, which is becoming something of a trademark for Æther Realm! The penultimate offering, ‘Winter’s Grasp’, is almost progressive in parts, and lends itself well to comparisons with Wintersun. Even so, in some ways this would be the weak link of the album, if it was at all possible to single out any of these songs as being ‘weak’- I merely feel, personally, that a slightly rawer, folk edge would have lent itself to the song a little better. Album closer ‘Odin Will Provide’, however, is a truly epic way to bring this triumph of an album to a close. Here are, once again, a strong melody, supported by fantastic and intelligent lyrics and another catchy refrain. This track ensures that the album makes its mark on your memory!

Overall, ‘One Chosen by the Gods’ is an excellent debut offering from a band that is well on their way to taking their place in the glorious ranks of the other Viking-clad folk metal behemoths. Æther Realm’s sound is somewhere in between Ensiferum and Wintersun, and if they can constantly deliver goods as solid as this, they will have nothing to worry about. A fantastically impressive set of songs, with no real weak link among them, and it has certainly whetted my appetite for more. I look forward to seeing what more Æther Realm have in store.

5/5

Hannah O’Flanagan

 

Spires–Lucid Abstractions

Posted in CD, Folk with tags , , , , , , , on 21st July 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Spires
Lucid Abstrctions
Released: July 2012
Acoustic
Self-Released

Hailing from the rich and diverse metal scene of Manchester, come the progressive metal quarter Spires, a band who have received critical acclaim from radio, printed and online media since their debut release of Spiral Of Ascension, back in 2010. Following their recent tour of Ireland and a busy 2011, where they toured with Incassum and two slots at the UK’s biggest metal festival Bloodstock, Spires have released their highly anticipated acoustic EP.

The grimly titled Under Bloodstained Skies opens the EP under with calm riff and intense set of vocals that add that eerie touch to the lyrics. The title track Lucid Abstractions follows next, in three parts. The track begins rather mystically with almost jazz-like musicianship that leads into the more progressive styling of the band. The main vocals are soothing, whilst the guest vocals, provided by Talena Cuthbert, add a certain warmth to the song.

Perception takes a subtle approach to the music but keeping true to the progressive spirit of the band’s sound. The vocals really stand out yet blend in well at the same time. The cello sections, provided by Jacqueline Wilson, adds a unique touch to the song. The melodic riffs of Inevitability bring a very enchanting aspect to the EP. The final track is none other than Sprial Of Ascension, which does take some getting used to when listening to this version if you’ve already heard the original version on the album of the same name. However, the acoustic version does really capture the essence of the song and project across quite brilliantly, though when I listen to it, I can’t help but epect to start hearing some major extreme metal styled riffs.

Acoustic music isn’t really my thing, save for a few artists, but Spires really have proven to be a band with a diverse and unique style. Each track contains its own unique sound and spirit without betraying the band’s sound.

5/5

Nico Davidson

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