Archive for the Folk Category

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

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Ben Parcell – Expectations

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

Interview with Metsatöll

Posted in Festival, Folk, Interview, Metal on 5th July 2012 by izaforestspirit

Metsatöll have been entertaining audiences with their unique blend of metal and traditional Estonian instruments since the turn of the century. Iza caught up with the Estonian wolf-pack after their performance at Tuska to discuss folk metal, wolves and playing underwater.

Iza: Hi there!

Metsatöll: Hi!

I: I actually saw you guys during my very first Tuska back in 2006 when you played ‘Sõjahunt’. How does it feel like to be back here now? How do you like the new venue?

Markus (vocals): Yeah, Markus here. (laughs) Actually we’re really honored to play here because 2006 was fabulous but this time it was double. We had a big stage, the best stage I have ever performed on and erm…we still look ugly and this is good. (laughs)

Raivo (bass): And in the middle of the day the crowd was very good and so was the feeling, so was the sound. So we are very, very satisfied.

Atso (drums): Yes, same here. I’m Atso and I play drums…with this voice.

M: This voice is owned by Atso. He has the biggest dick in Estonia, probably in the whole of Europe. We have a huge problem with it in the whole of Europe. It’s funny, you know, with the condoms you know…(laughs)…But we’re not Manowar. (laughs)

I: Ok then. Next question- I wanted to ask about the origins of the name ‘Metsatöll’ because I read it somewhere that it’s an ancient Estonian word for ‘wolf’. Could you tell me a bit more about that? How did you come up with it and what does it mean to you?

Lauri (torupill, kannel, ängipill, flutes and mouth-harp): Metsatöll is one of the ancient Estonian names for ‘wolf’. The wolf has many, many names. It’s like when you call the wolf with its real name it comes and eats the lambs. So the ancient Estonians came up with many names for this like ‘forest-animal’ and ‘forest-being’, ‘forest-creature’ meaning ‘a wolf’. Of course wolf is…ok too much talk, but yeah…’metsatöll’ is ‘wolf’.

I: Obviously you play folk metal and you’re quite unique in terms of your sound. You incorporate a lot of traditional instruments and I just wanted to ask how do you feel about the current folk metal scene?

M: Actually we do not consider ourselves to be a folk metal band. And we use these traditional instruments as a ‘second guitar’.

L: So I’m Lauri and I’m the ‘second guitar player’. (laughs)

R: Folk instruments? Some might consider us to be a folk metal band.

L: We just play music. It doesn’t matter what the people are saying… We are ‘thrash metal’, ‘folk metal’, ‘heavy metal’ or ‘whatever metal’. We just play music.

R: The traditional music is what we use…

L: We make traditional metal music.

R: Yeah.

M: We had this problem and maybe we have to do something with the fact that we are ugly. So let’s stick some other instruments in and it doesn’t work still. We are Metsatöll.

R: We play metal but with a big variety of instruments.

M: Yes

I: Ok. So what do you think of other bands, like Korpiklaani or Skyforger?

A: They are very good drinking partners and with them it’s always like… We do very good black humour jokes and it’s always very good.

L: Yeah Korpiklaani and Skyforger are very good bands. We have been on a little tour with Skyforger and we are going on tour with Korpiklaani in the end of the summer.

R: So we cannot say anything bad… (laughs)

A: They are good bands.

I: Ok. You’ve got the new album out called ‘Ulg’. How do you think it compares to be previous one ‘Äio’?

L: ‘Ulg’ is our best work, because it is all natural…Natural… We chose our spectrum of music we listen to and stuff like that and it’s so full of Estonian spirit that…If you listen to ‘Ulg’ then you feel like…Estonian in the morning. (laughs)

R: For me ‘Ulg’ is…it’s not a second part but…With ‘Äio’ we came with the same feeling and lots of the same atmosphere so they are very similar but done in very different conditions.

M: With ‘Ulg’ we went into the studio to make the record and we were trying not to do two albums which sound similar. And that’s the main reason why we are always changing the studio and always looking to…erm…because with ‘Äio’ it was the most produced and the most like, you know…album. And with ‘Ulg’ we didn’t do that. We went to the countryside and we had a couple of riffs and we didn’t even do the full demos. We just thought about the parts there and we recorded them after ten minutes to this record. And that’s… in a way what’s gone in through the mind the first is the right thing. But with ‘Äio’ we did all the production and the pre-demos until the end but with ‘Ulg’ we did it the other way round.

I: Ok. You’ve got this interesting video for ‘Küü’, one of the tracks from ‘Ulg’. I was wondering how did you came up with this. It looks like you’re hunting for something in the river…Could you tell me a bit about that?

A: The concept goes like…it’s all of us as ourselves…

L: The concept is like…how to get a decent wife for yourself. How to get a decent fucking woman… (laughs) Actually, the idea is a mad idea, to shoot underwater. The idea was Atso’s as I remember. Sometime ago we talked with some friends from the movie and film business and so they were very switched on with this idea. We made the song and they made the concept. If you look at it, they are in some parts of the video. The song concept and the video go together sometimes. Then sometimes they are like two different things. It’s a band, who are like..coming back from the battle and then they go underwater. We started playing that song, the ‘Küü’ song, which has a little bit different concept but we have…

A: And a couple of people asked me “are you really underwater in the video?” and I said “we really are underwater, in the river.” We took lessons…No really, we took lessons so we could learn how to be underwater with special people who put…who taught us how to be underwater for over an hour…

L: Actually it was hard…

A: Yeah it was a little hard…It was the most like…scary thing that I have done in my life and after that we slept for two, maybe three days after the shooting. But the main thing is that we had with us, underwater, brand new instruments and after that we did an auction for these instruments. Then we gave all this auction money to the Estonian zoo so they could build a new wolf-cage and from this money they started to do all these things. Because in Estonia we have a zoo but no wolves and that’s sad.

L: Yeah.

I: Ok so helping the wolves then. Nice.. Ok, earlier you mentioned touring with Skyforger and others. If you had to pick one, who would be your favorite band to tour with?

L: I think the best band to tour with is a band you know already. So far with have been on tour with old friends – that’s the best way. If you go on tour with an unfamiliar band it could be good music but you never know the guys. If you know the guys and they are really good pals whatever music they they make.

A: And I think anyway that so far all… all my Finnish friends or all my German and English friends and musicians whom I know are, I think, all very good people. I think the thing about touring is that whatever band it is… I think and I hope that there is always at least one good guy.

R: When you tour it’s very important….So that the company, the people are…it’s very important that they are good guys because touring is hard. Being apart from your family, from your home is hard work actually. You always in need of support and it’s very important that the people around you are professionals. So they know what they are doing and what touring is about. Then if that’s ok then the tour is ok.

A: Yes.

M: Don’t do it if you’re not into black humour.

I: Ok. So what’s been the highlight of your career so far?

M: Making the interview with you right now. (laughs)

A: Actually touring is fun…

M: Stop it “Antonio”!

A: Ok, ok. (laughs)

I: Ok. Going back a bit to the origins of Metsatöll, what inspired you to sort making the music that you do?

L: Normal daily life, love for metal music and it just happens, you know… It’s not a good answer for this but it just happened. You just want to make the music that you want to play and it’s…it’s a miracle! (laughs)

M: I speak only for myself. I’ve been ugly all my life and I wanted to get laid. So thought: “maybe I have to get a job?” “No, I’ll just form a band”. (laughs)

I: Ok. Last question: Could you tell me a bit about the metal scene in Estonia? I can honestly say, and I don’t think I’m the only one, that you’re the only Estonian metal band I know.

M: http://www.estonianmetal.com You’ll find all the history of Estonian metal. All the bands, really interesting bands, better bands than ours and of course they also look ugly. (laughs) Ok, not all but there are so many variations, so many good bands. Just go to http://www.estonianmetal.com and you’ll find everything.

A: But, but you know, they started to do metal in Estonia before the Iron Age you know. (laughs)

I: Anything else you want to add, to your fans and the people who came to see you today?

M: Where are you from, by the way?

I: I’m from Poland originally.

M: We know a Polish girl working as a mixing-engineer who’s very good so we just want to say “hi”. Polish women are truly beautiful so…a biiiig huuuuuuuuuuuuuug for them all from here…rrrrrrrrr! (laughs)

I: Oh ok. Thanks!

Metsatöll: Thanks a lot!

http://www.metsatoll.ee

Aloeswood – Forsaken Landscapes [2011]

Posted in Folk with tags , , , , , , on 1st October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Aloeswood
Album: Forsaken Landscapes EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Post-Black Metal/Folk/Yorkshire Metal

Aloeswood is the solo project of Yorkshire-based musician Danny Downing [Windrider, Ravenage]. Forsaken Landscapes was recorded at Danny’s home and produced by Danny Downing and Elliot Vernon [Windrider, Ravenage] in Muspelheim Studio, Yorkshire.

The first track of the EP is “Farewell”, which begins with a heavy and aggressive riff mixed with precise, barbaric drum work. The guitars have a slight melodic touch that echo through their composition, adding a unique sound to their black metal styling. The vocals are raw and bloodthirsty, mixing well with the riffs. The outro piano medley adds a very solemn sound to both the song and the EP. The solemn sound continues on into the title track “Forsaken Landscapes”, in the form of a clean guitar section. The hate-fuelled shredding of guitars soon takes over though, ruining the mood that had been created slightly. The bass section comes as shock, taking away some of the energy of the music though the guitars soon plough their way back into the song. The vocals are welcomed almost instantly with the melodic riffs, bringing an interesting sound with them. The acoustic sections bring about a certain enchanting folk sound to the song before being replaced by the heavier, distorted guitar riffs.

”The Lake Of Shattered Hope” is one of two instrumentals on the EP and despite the somewhat emo-like name, the track is far from being emo. The entire song is like a slow, mesmerising folk song composed entirely of an acoustic guitar with a touch of viola and cello. “Nostalgia” follows after, carrying on the use of acoustic guitars. The heavy section that follows after builds up towards the introduction of the vocals. There is a brilliant use of female vocal work on this track, provided by Shamsi Modarai. Her voice just seems perfect for the song and style of music. The keyboard sections inject a much-needed atmosphere into the song as well, keeping the track sounding fresh. The EP finishes with the second instrumental “Like Rain To The Ground”. It begins with a calm yet partially heavy guitar part, slowly building up to the introduction of the keyboard voices, adding a subtle beauty to the song.

“Forsaken Landscapes” is different to what you’d expect from a musician who plays in two folk metal bands. While there are elements of folk music, the EP is more black metal orientated with hints of progressive music as well. For the most part, this is a sweet EP and a damn good release in terms of the Yorkshire metal scene. It was everything a good EP should have: Decent tracks, good composition, excellent sound quality and a unique sound.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Forsaken Landscapes is available for free download here.

Ben Parcell – Painted By Numbers [2011]

Posted in Folk with tags , , , , , , on 25th September 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Ben Parcell
Album: Painted By Numbers
Release year: 2011
Genre: Folk/Pop-Punk
Ben Parcell has been on the rise in the British acoustic scene since the recording and release of his debut album “Humble Beginnings” though he had already established a name for himself with his old band “The Trailers”. His song “The Only One” is featured on the benefit compilation ‘Unity’ by Engineer Records which features mainstream acts such as ‘The Gaslight Anthem’ ‘Fightstar’, ‘Funeral For a Friend’ and ‘Luke Pickett’. “Painted By Numbers” is his latest release.

The title track “Painted By Numbers” starts the album with a brilliantly composed guitar section with a slight use of percussion. The vocals soon follow adding a mellow sound on top of the soothing acoustic riffs. The song has a soulful flow, enchanting the listener. The backing vocals, provided by Edwina Hayes, are powerful yet subtle, adding emphasis to the lead vocals, giving the song a certain warmth in the sound. The small use of piano is unexpected and surprising but a brilliant addition to the song. “Too Late To Say Goodbye” follows after with a solemn sound in both the vocals and music. The track is slower compared to “Painted By Numbers”, capturing the essence of Ben’s talent and musical style in a deep, emotional way. The lyrics help bring a certain touch of emotion to the song as well bringing a tear to the eyes of the listener. The vocals are very distinct and strong throughout “Too Late To Say Goodbye”, helping add to its sound and masterful composition.

“Stay In Touch” picks up the pace though staying slow and steady during in the introduction. The vocals adapt well to the changed tempo, working well with the acoustic riffs. Parts of the song make the listener feel like having a small jig along to the music. The tempo changes add character to the music as well, giving it a very original edge. The EP finishes with “Love Song” which brings back the slow pace combined with awe-inspiring vocals and well-written lyrics. The calmness of the music could easily ease the listener into a relaxed state of mind. The combination of lead and backing vocals brings about a very soothing atmosphere and the use of keyboards throughout the song add a touch of brilliance.

After hearing “Painted By Numbers”, the listener will no doubt know why Ben Parcell has been doing so well. Each track is composed in such a way that it would be near enough impossible to try replicate the sound that Ben creates with his talent. “Painted By Numbers” is certainly an EP that one could listen to over and over again without growing bored of it. Even if you’re not a fan of acoustic music, this is a brilliant EP with a happy medium of pop-punk and folk music. The only downside to it is that it’s not a full-length release, though no doubt Ben will have a full-length release somewhere in the pipelines.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Raeven Irata [Band Review]

Posted in Folk, Industrial with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 19th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Raeven Irata [Crimson Eden]
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Electronica/Classical/Folk
Site:
http://www.crimsoncreatives.com/

Yorkshire is known amongst many for its rich and diverse music scene, in which many great bands and musicians have appeared and risen to the top. A part of this diverse music scene is the multi-talented solo artist and composer Raeven Irata who has three different musical projects: An electronica project, a classical project and a traditional folk project.

The electronica project is different to how many people would perceive it to be. While having the typical beats and synth sounds found in said genre, Raeven Irata adds a twist which features the use of both haunting male vocals and dark yet angelic soprano vocals along with some eerie sounding sections. “Not Destroyed” and “I Sow In Sorrow” are perfect examples of this, though the latter features only the female vocals. “The Zombies Are Coming”, however, has a different sound to “Not Destroyed” and “I Sow In Sorrow”. The track seems to have more of a cyber-industrial feel and sound to it, as opposed to the haunting Gothic effect of the other two tracks, though it is still a brilliant composition.

Raeven’s classical compositions are certainly not what a new listener to classical music would expect them to be. Rather than containing the stereotypical “grand and majestic” sound, they are more solemn, sorrowful and melancholy. “The Forbidden Forest” is both a testament to Raeven’s skills and talents as well as a piece of music that many can enjoy. “Waltz Of The Shadow Fae” is a brilliant strings-orientated composition combining an epic feel with a sorrowful sound and atmosphere topped off with a hint of gloom. Whilst the previous two seem sorrowful, “Vaults Of Heaven” is perhaps the more grand-sounding though it still brings that sadness with it, making it a most enjoyable track as it seems to capture real feeling and certainly brings a tear to the eyes.

The folk project is an interesting one to listen to. “My Young Love” is composed entirely of Raeven’s strong, powerful and emotional soprano vocals. The only issue with the song is that it’s too short though it does seem to last an eternity, it is a let down when it ends. “She’s Like The Swallow” is another one featuring only Raeven’s vocals. It has a very warm and welcoming sound to it, bringing a small smile to the listener’s face. “All Things Are Quite Silent” is slightly more fast than the previous two tracks, bringing the warm feeling with it. Raeven’s vocals are certainly very impressive when singing “All Things Are Quite Silent”.

Raeven Irata is clearly one of the most talented individuals in the Yorkshire music scene at the moment and perhaps one of the most talented in the UK. Each of her projects bring something new to their designated genres, containing emotion and intelligence that one won’t find in the mainstream music of today. Good things are ahead for this talented individual.

Nico Davidson

The official name of Raeven Irata’s music projects is “Crimson Eden”.

Raeven Irata is currently looking for paid composition work. Raeven is also looking for a producer and a sound engineer for her musical projects. Anyone interested in enquiring about this, e-mail Raeven at: raevenirata@crimsoncreatives.com 

Erutan – Raindancer [2011]

Posted in Folk with tags , , , , , on 18th March 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Erutan
Album: Raindancer
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Celtic/Medieval/Folk

“Raindancer” is the debut album medieval folk singer-songwriter “Erutan”.

The first track of the album is “The Willow Maid” which begins with a calm flute intro mixed with what sounds to be lute or acoustic guitar. The vocals are powerful and  very Celtic-sounding. The flute makes more appearances through the track, adding a certain mystique to the album. The track finishes slowly, making way for the next track “Song Of Joy”, which begins with folk styled percussion and some very cheery sounding vocals. The use of a lute adds a very Celtic atmosphere to the track. “No One But You” comes next, beginning with a slow, depressed sounding piano medley which is soon accompanied by some very strong but slow vocals. This track is certainly one of the best on the album, due to it’s brilliant composition and emotional level.

“Round and Round” comes next beginning with a beautiful Celtic-Medieval sounding intro. The vocals  are still going strong and bring an emotional atmosphere to the track. Next is “Butterfly’s Dream”, which begins with a melancholy sounding intro mixed with very strong vocals. The title track “Raindancer” comes after, beginning with the sound of rain, thunder and birds singer. The instrumentation is absolutely astounding on this track, especially as it’s mixed with the sound of rain and thunder, giving it a more natural sound. Again, the vocals are very strong.

“Temple of the Sky” follows, beginning with a lute and piano intro. This track isn’t as good as the previous tracks. Next is “Birds of a Feather” which is somewhat of a medieval sounding love song. The vocals seem softer and the instrumentation also seems to be lacking as well. The next two tracks “Will o’ the Wisp” and “Winter Moon” aren’t exactly impressive tracks, nor are they exactly bad ones. The album finishes on “So Far Away and So Near” which begins with a beautiful intro mixed with powerful yet soft vocals. The instrumentation is brilliant on this track. The flute sections add a certain beauty to the track and the piano add a very classical mystique to the track as well. “So Far Away and So Near” is a brilliant finish to the album.

For a debut album, this is pretty impressive despite a few not so impressive tracks. The album, mostly, is well composed and overall has great production values. Hopefully, “Erutan” will be releasing more albums in the near future.

4/5

Nico Davidson

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