Archive for Black Sabbath

Hannah’s 2013 Highlights

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Misc. with tags , , , , , on 4th January 2014 by Hammi

Well, we are now 4 days into 2014, and it’s that time of year again. Time to look back and reflect on 2013, a year of great highs and lows. Personally, 2013 was a crock of shite. Ill health, family and friends dropping like daisies, rubbish chucked at me academically; I’m well shot of it. Musically, however, it was much better! We had a few absolute curve balls chucked at us, but in general I think it was a splendid year for musical releases within the metal world and beyond. So without further ado, here are my Top 10 metal albums of the year. Strap yourselves in and play the Top of the Pops theme tune as we count them down- but in no particular order. Sorry!

Finntroll- Blodsvept

An absolute corker of an album, Finntroll are once again on shining form. I sometimes wonder if the rollicking band of Finnish folk-stalwarts will get one wrong, but they prove themselves time and time again.

Ghost- Infestissumam

In many ways, 2013 could be seen as the year of Ghost (for copyright purposes, in the ol’ U.S. of A., see: Ghost B.C.). Papa Emeritus II (or should that be 1.2?) and his ghoulish brigade seem absolutely unstoppable and this proggy, weird, almost unsettlingly catchy offering gives more fuel to that fire.

Cathedral- The Last Spire

As we shall see in my ‘Top 5 Highs and Lows of 2013’ shortly, this was also the year I was forced to say goodbye to one of my favourite bands, but Cathedral’s last ever offering did not disappoint. As many observed, this seemed to bring them full circle and back to their simple, crushing doomy roots and it was a bittersweet triumph.

Chthonic- Bú-Tik

The Taiwanese black-symphonic metallers offered us this brutal follow up to 2011’s brilliant Takasago Army this year, and what an album! The troupe from Taipei constantly manage to sound fresh and never lose any of that fury, channelling their rage in their music and fleshing their sound out with that distinctive, symphonic blend of metal and traditional Taiwanese refrains.

Black Sabbath- 13

If you know me, then you know I like grinding, crushing, groovy metal. Then it must come as no surprise that this list includes 13, the phenomenal come back from the legends that are Black Sabbath. Sounding as fresh and vibrant as they did on seminal releases such as Black Sabbath or Paranoid, 13 saw Sabbath at their absolute best, and I for one am so happy to see them back.

Amon Amarth- Deceiver of the Gods

I can’t possibly list my favourite albums of the year without Amon Amarth. Some people say they are samey and don’t offer anything new. I think they know what works and stick to that winning formula. The Swedes once again brought their mythological flavoured metal to us on this stonker and I love it.

Fleshgod Apocalypse- Labyrinth

Italian technical death metal band Fleshgod have been around for a while but they are a relatively new thing for me. Having said that, Labyrinth is a great album and well deserving of a place in my top 10. For one, it’s a concept album based on mythology- the legend of the Labyrinth of Knossos, if you didn’t know, but of course you did- and for two, it does it well. Brilliant, from start to finish.

Tyr- Valkyrja

I’ll keep this short and sweet- Tyr are phenomenal. The two covers that round this album out are almost unrecognisable in their execution. The progression shown by Tyr from The Lay of Thrym to this is fascinating and I can’t wait to see where they go next.

Hell- Curse and Chapter

Really, if I’m being honest, 2013 was the year I fell in love with Hell. I can’t say enough good things about this band- they are blasphemous, outrageous, and ridiculously good fun to boot. They serve up a one-of-a-kind blend of NWOBHM and theatrics and Curse and Chapter is just outstanding. I predicted that they will be Bloodstock headliners within five years in this year’s Bloodstock review. I now make that three years.

Satyricon- Satyricon

A rather controversial choice, maybe? I know how unpopular this record has been with a lot of long-time Satyricon fans, but this long-time Satyricon fan loved their eponymous album. The thing I love about Satyricon is that Satyr is never afraid to go to places that make fans uncomfortable and force them out of that safe zone. Their albums are never formulaic and I really appreciate their bravery and daring, and willingness to shake things up. A great album.

Wasn’t that fun? Now, this next Top 5 may be a little unorthodox, but I’m a music lover. I love all music, even- SHOCK HORROR!- that which is not metal. So here are my 5 Top Non-Metal releases of the year!

HIM- Tears on Tape

HIM are one of my favourite bands- okay, you can shoot me if you want- because they do what they do incredibly well and without apologies. Tears on Tape is one of their best albums to date and it’s surprisingly heavy in parts- you can see that Ville Valo really worships a few gothic and doom metal bands in the songs on this record!

AFI- Burials

I was thoroughly mortified by Crash Love. Like, irrevocably mortified. AFI are a band I have loved since I was 12 and whilst Burials is definitely no closer to what they used to be than Crash Love or even Decemberunderground, it manages to make up for it in atmosphere and a healthy dose of gloom. Davey Havok’s voice hasn’t sounded this good in a long time, and neither has Jade Puget’s playing. Welcome back, boys!

David Bowie- The Next Day

David Bowie is the king and I worship him. Seriously, though, The Next Day is a welcome return by the Thin White Duke, 10 years after his last release, and it is an unusual, almost-awkward slice of musical bliss. This album shows more energy and enthusiasm for making beautiful music- to get pretentious, for making auditory art- than bands half his age.

Little Mix- Salute

I love Little Mix, I don’t even care. They were put together on that Christmas-number-one machine that is The X Factor, sure, but they actually work ridiculously well together as a group and they contribute to the writing of their songs to boot. Their second album, Salute, is indeed a salute to the sassy, R’n’B flavoured pop of the nineties. It works, it’s ludicrously catchy, and I love it.

Lorde- Pure Heroine

I hated Lorde the first time I heard her. Her lyrics are stupid and non-sensical (see: Tennis Court), the kind of faux-intellectualism loved by the stylish hipster crews that are the current ‘in’ crowd. She’s a clever girl with some fierce ideas, though, and by GOD did this album get under my skin after a while and now I can’t get enough of it and I’m sorry.

Okay, I’ll get back to the metal now. Rounding up my 2013 retrospective is a look at five of the most important events of the year. These are my Top 5 Highs and Lows of 2013.

Randy Blythe is acquitted

Of course, the story most people will remember this year is that Randy Blythe was acquitted of all charges on the 5th of March this year. Blythe had been facing jail after 19 year old Daniel Nosek died after being pushed from the stage at a Lamb of God show in Prague in 2010. Whilst the courts agreed that Blythe was morally responsible for Nosek’s death, they did not find him guilty of any criminal liability.

Emperor Reform for 2014 Festival Season

Yes, my friends. Legendary black metal outfit Emperor officially announced a reunion for a series of special performances, including Wacken’s 25th anniversary, BOA 2014 and Hellfest 2014. I have my ticket to Bloodstock and I can’t fucking wait, because Emperor are the bee’s proverbial knees. Oh yes.

Cathedral Call it Quits

30th April 2013 was a sad, sad day in the world of doom metal, as protectors of the groove Cathedral called it a day on the release of their tenth studio album, The Last Spire. After waving the flag for crushing, gloomy, often psychedelic doom for twenty-one years, Lee Dorrian, Brian Dixon, Gaz Jennings and Scott Carlson took their final bows. Their legacy lives on.

Joey Jordison Slipknot Shock

In a rather bizarre turn of events, the 12th of December saw the shock announcement of Joey Jordison’s departure from his ‘main’ band of 18 years for ‘personal reasons’. The plot however thickens as it has been revealed in the last 24 hours that Jordison himself had no idea of his apparent departure. Will we ever know what’s going on? Will this cause a duel to the death between Corey Taylor and Joey Jordison before Mick Thompson steps in and holds them apart by the scruff of their necks whilst the rest of the band talks sense into them? Who knows?

Black Sabbath Top Charts

Yeah, if producing an album as impressive as 13 wasn’t enough, Black Sabbath also went and topped the UK Album Charts with it. Their first offering in 18 years managed the rare feat of placing top in the mainstream charts, and how often does a bunch of hairy, lairy old metalheads do something like that? Keep going, boys.

So that was 2013. There’s a lot I’m looking forward to in 2014, but my highlight will most certainly be Bloodstock 2014. I shall see you there! To all Valkyrian readers- I wish you a Happy New Year and have a good one!

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The Vintage Caravan confirm UK dates

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 10th December 2013 by Nico Davidson

Iceland’s answer to the likes of Black Sabbath and Led Zeplin, The Vintage Caravan, are finally making their way across the oceans to introduce the UK to their own brand of riffs. And bunny-licking. The three Icelandic youngsters, who are aged 19, 19 and 20, will be touring as support to Grand Magus, in March next year. Their debut album Voyage will be released via Nuclear Blast in January 2014. Bassist Alex comments:

We are so incredibly excited to finally be touring the UK with a great band like Grand Magus, meeting British people, drinking British ales. This is going to be one hell of a trip!

There has been a huge resurgence of ‘retro rock’ over the last few years, but these boys have explored a path that no one else has found yet. Youth is on their side, they have drawn musical influences from the greats of our generation and added to them their acid laced, trippy lyrics, relatable to the silly side that’s hopefully still in all of us. If not, these guys will certainly help you find it!

Tour dates are as follow:

March 12th – Manchester, Sound Control - www.seetickets.com
March 13th – Dublin, Voodoo Lounge - www.ticketmaster.ie
March 15th – Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms – www.tickets.com
March 16th – London, The Underworld – www.seetickets.com

The Vintage Caravan online:

http://www.facebook.com/vintagecaravan

In Solitude announce new album and stream title track; Sister

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 19th August 2013 by Nico Davidson

Swedish metallers In Solitude have announced their third studio album, Sister, which will be release in the UK on 30th September via Metal Blade Records. The title track, Sister, is now streaming at this location. Vocalist Pelle Åhman speaks on behalf of In Solitude:

It’s time to release our third album, and things have never felt this clear and pervasive before. This is a feeling that has permeated our whole lives during the latest year of writing and recording this album, as well as digesting and dealing with its consequences. And it has been wonderful, overwhelming and utterly devastating. Which, in the world of In Solitude, are very positive things, and exactly what was required.

It is a very special album for us, and I am very thankful and proud of my brothers (including our great friend, and producer, Martin Konie Ehrencrona), for this is truly the most visceral music we’ve ever made, and we can’t wait for you to experience it too.

You come without. And all falls within. There is a light in the world. There is a stone to the head.

Sister was recorded at Studio Cobra in Stockholm, Sweden during March 2013. The album was produced and mixed by MartinKonieEhrencrona and stands as a logical next step above and beyond its predecessor, The World.The Flesh.The DevilIn Solitude‘s strength resides in their ability to craft dark and oppressive atmospheres within the auditory realm of classic heavy metal.Sister compounds this trademark sound further, beginning with the acoustic intro, He Comes and saturates the record in an aura of uniqueness; see: Lavender and the title track.

The album concludes with an 8-minute, driving, near trance-like opus that features guest guitarist Pelle Forsberg (Watain). Additionally, Jarboe of Swans fame can be heard on Horses in the Ground. Moods range from Mercyful Fate-esque guitar flavors, shadows of Black Sabbath, the heavy dissonance of Swans, to straight-forward, ear worm riffs. In any case, one thing can be said for certain: their delivery is as genuine as it is impressive.

North American fans will have an opportunity to see In Solitude live this Fall. The band will be supporting Watain on their Wild Hunt tour beginning on October 8th in New York City. The tour also features support from Tribulation.

In Solitude online:

http://facebook.com/insolitudeofficial

Huddersfield Heavy Metal Festival completes line-up

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 8th August 2013 by Contra Mundi

The Huddersfield Heavy Metal festival now boasts a wholesome and intimidating line-up, headlined by symphonic death metal legends Fleshgod Apocalypse and Polish extreme death metal icons Hate. Within the diseased ranks as support acts are a selection of bands that are a true showcase of talent. First of all Scottish Death Metallers Scordatura, whose bludgeoning sound showcase all of death metal’s finer qualities and creates a symphony of madness. Joining them are Southerners Bound By Evile who will unleash their destructive brand of death metal upon the already tainted public and make them run for cover.  Grieve, with their groovy and heavy riffs encourage headbanging in the most seasoned of metal fans and hearken back to the likes of Black Sabbath.  Londoners Hades Lab offer blackened Grind and a suffocating cacophony of impressive technicality . Also featured are Yorkshire Old school Death metal plague Narcotic Death whose embodiment of possession and misery will make fans wish they’d never graced the good earth. Scouse Black Metal artists Ninkharsag also grace the line-up and offer the early 90’s Black metal scene nostalgia with a modern twist in their unique brand of frozen metal. As an ode to Thrash Yorkshire-men Redmist Destruction will bring down the walls with their furious music and fellow Grim Northerners Wort will serve to provide a melancholy and sludgy form of doom for the audience to be slowly murdered by. Huddersfield Heavy metal Festival, although still in its infancy, is already a pioneering festival and will undoubtedly attract a legion of a crowd to Huddersfield’s most impressive venue; The Parish.

The festival organiser Luke Diesektor, had this to say:

We only wish we could make this bigger, were looking at possibly taking this outside next year, if not, well be having it at another location. Works are already underway in terms of getting licensing and looking at sites but if we don’t have enough PR time well be doing another indoor event next year but at a much bigger venue and the open air in 2015. We’re hopeful to make this one of the premier metal festivals in Yorkshire and the quality of bands we have on is fantastic. Tickets are selling really well so folk need to get in quick to avoid disappointment. Everyone including the bands has been working really hard to make this a success so we predict it’s going to be a great day. People can check us out and the bands via our Facebook, Twitter and the usual places.

The festival takes place on sat 12th October at the Parish Huddersfield and is £20 advance or £25 OTD.  For any enquiries or more information please email: huddersfieldheavymetalfest@gmail.co.uk

Huddersfield Heavy Metal Festival online:

http://www.facebook.com/huddersfieldheavymetalfest2013
http://www.facebook.com/HuddersfieldHeavymetalfest
http://twitter.com/HH6662013

 

Iron Man announce details for fifth studio album

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 19th July 2013 by Nico Davidson

Doom legends Iron Man have recently announced details for, as well as the completion of, their fifth studio album which is to be titled South of the Earth. The album is scheduled for release on 30th September via Rise Above.

Recording and mixing took place at Hudson Street Sound in Annapolis, Maryland with producer/engineer Frank Marchand III. The band’s guitarist, Al Morris, commented on the band’s creative process:

Every time Iron Man goes into the studio, we treat it like a blank canvas. As things progress, the art form takes shape. We wrote this album in about 2 months. Then we practiced our asses off to perfect the performance of the songs. This CD was done with Frank Marchand, an engineer/producer with a head full of ideas! He enhanced every element of this CD. We have great trust in Frank and followed his ideas. This is what came out!

Rising out of the same Maryland/DC mean streets as fellow US doom pioneers Pentagram and The Obsessed, Iron Man formed in 1988 as a Black Sabbath tribute band by guitarist Alfred Morris III, whose musical career began in 1977 with mysterious proto-doom cult Force. Al’s legendarily heavy, unearthly guitar tone was already much in evidence on Force‘s ultra-rare 1981 debut EP – and it has only deepened, hardened, improved and refined in the ensuing 32 years.

Iron Man online:

http://www.ironmanband.com/

 

Babylon Fire – Dark Horizons

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , on 10th January 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

Babylon Fire
Dark Horizons
Released: 12th November, 2012
Heavy Metal
Released via Rocksector Records

Babylon Fire is a band who says they are influenced by older metal bands such as Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath and also by the newer bands like Stone Sour, Machine Head, and Five Finger Death Punch. This blend of older heaviness with a new, clean vocal style has created a unique sound that goes beyond standard metal to create something with a bit more groove and rhythm to it. Although they’ve been a band for five years now, their first full length album Dark Horizons depicts their influences very well.

Every song on this album had a medium to fast tempo that kept it diverse and exciting to listen to. The first song on this 12 track album, The Clarion Call, wasted no time in drawing you in with fast paced riffs and that made you instantly hooked into the song. However, I found it hard to enjoy the music itself because of the vocals. While I am not opposed to mixing clean vocals with fast and melodic riffs, I felt that the vocals were too overpowering in every song. Also, the mix of clean vocals with growling vocals made it confusing at first, in my opinion, as to what kind of band they were trying to be.

In modern metal and heavy music, there seems to be this pattern now where bands want to incorporate so many different influences into their music. I feel that Babylon Fire shows each of their influences throughout this album but with the newer influences definitely being the more dominant sound. I would recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of Five Finger Death Punch, Stone Sour, or any other band that sounds like them. While I could hear subtle influences of older heavy metal throughout Dark Horizons, I feel that they are definitely a newer sounding band.

3.8/5

Lauren Gowdy

 

Graveyard – Lights Out

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , on 19th October 2012 by izaforestspirit

Graveyard
Lights Out
Released: October 2012
Hard Rock/Blues Rock
Released via Nuclear Blast

‘Lights Out’ is the third album from the Swedish hard rock band Graveyard. It is the follow up to last year’s award-winning ‘Hisingen Blues’.

The opening track ‘An Industry of Murder’ takes a while to get going. Once the vocals kick in it’s pretty evident where the Black Sabbath comparisons stem from. Everything from the riffs to the vocal style sounds similar, though this has the additional blues rock feel to it. ‘Slow Motion Countdown’ is true to its name, as a slow and melancholic ballad. By contrast ‘Seven Seven’ is far more energetic, and dare I say it…a ‘happy’ rock song with some catchy riffs.

Other noteworthy tracks include: the blues rock style ‘The Suits, The Law & The Uniforms’ where the groove guitars complement the hard rock vocals, the catchy riff infused ‘Endless Night’, which features some progressive elements in the middle and ‘Goliath’ which has the most original lyrics and some catchy guitar tunes to match.

Overall, I must admit that this type of music isn’t really my specialty and I really did step out of my comfort zone whilst reviewing this. My personal preference leans more towards the catchy, rocking tracks on this album rather than the ballads. Having said that it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with this album.

3/5 – It’s not my style, but if you’re a fan of bluesy hard rock then I would strongly recommend this.

Iza Raittila

 

Glowsun – Eternal Season

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 24th September 2012 by Paul

Glowsun
Eternal Season
Released September 28th, 2012
Stoner Metal
Released via Napalm Records

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Stoner Metal has a tendency to be an American and British phenomenon, so as it was I found myself surprised to learn that “Glowsun” are from France, a country not particularly known for its output within the Stoner/Doom spectrum of the Metal genre. If you hear the name “Glowsun” and think of bizarre, psychedelic atmospheres, you’d be right – that’s exactly what’s going on here. The album begins with “Death’s Face” featuring light and echoey melodies, then towards the end of the album’s first song, the guitars really start to kick in and things get a little heavier. It’s a creepy psychedelic song that builds to a crushing crescendo. Much of the rest of this album follows this formula of blending the soft with the heavy into a strange brew that is crushingly heavy and also strangely calming and meditative. The album chugs along at a medium pace for much of its duration and achieves that great paradox of Stoner Metal that is to sound huge and intense whilst also relaxing. This is attained through the repetition of simple melodies at a slow to medium pace. This isn’t a very exciting album, but that isn’t usually what the genre is all about.

Judging by the colourful album cover, I assumed this album would sound more “warm” than it does. Instead much of the music here is intentionally atmospheric and strange. The vocals are sparse to say the least, and mostly unintelligible, this being primarily an instrumental release; however the song titles such as “Death’s Face” “The Thing” and “Sleepwalker” give away the darker theme that fits the style present on the album. Legend has it that Black Sabbath decided upon their sound when going to see a horror movie and wondering if people would appreciate the same kind of atmosphere in a musical format; and in truth the music here has more in common with the dark, apocalyptic riffs of early Black Sabbath than it does with the desert rock of Kyuss. That is not to say the album is totally dark and dismal however, and admittedly it is more psychedelic than anything else. The songs plod along at a comfortable pace and feature a more open composition than the pop sensibilities of bands like Spirit Caravan and Orange Goblin. Unlike their contemporaries Om, who build a spiritual, meditative sound, this has more in common with traditional riff based Heavy Metal. This record sort of straddles the line between obvious throwback retro metal and the more modern approach of largely instrumental, atmospheric and avant-garde Stoner Metal with long and repetitive, drawn out song structures. Like a soundtrack to a 70s horror movie played with heavily distorted guitars, it’s creepy, atmospheric and psychedelic in all the right ways. I don’t think this kind of thing will win any converts to the genre, but this is really quite enjoyable to anyone who has the patience for this style of music. I can see myself listening to this release many more times over the coming months. An acquired taste, but a taste to savour.

3.9/5

Paul Gibbins

Saint Vitus – Lillie: F65

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 9th September 2012 by Paul

Saint Vitus
Lillie: F-65
Released April 27th 2012
Doom Metal
Released via Season of Mist

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California Doom legends “Saint Vitus” are back after a long hiatus, with their first album since 1995’s “Die Healing”, “Lillie: F-65” seeing the return of vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, who joins founding members Mark Chandler and Dave Adams to produce a record that includes a total of three of the band’s classic eighties line-up. Good news for any fan. It’s a shame that long time drummer Armando Acosta sadly died of a brain tumor in 2010, otherwise I’m sure we’d be seeing the whole band together again. Fortunately for the others, it’s as if they had never been away.

The album begins with “Let Them Fall” – a textbook Saint Vitus song, and “The Bleeding Ground” which rightfully speeds things up with a good old bluesy solo. As soon as the distortion drenched guitar tone kicks in, you’re transported back to the eighties. “Vertigo” however, is an unexpected strange little atmospheric instrumental, a half-time slowdown that comes out of leftfield. The band is not entirely resting on their laurels with this gloomy instrumental. The remaining three songs are all enjoyably solid slabs of old school Doom Metal. “Dependence” is perhaps the standout track and opens with an eerie acoustic intro which opens into a predictably depressing song – the slowest on the album, and the band round off the record with a disturbing psychedelic instrumental “Withdrawal” that I think runs for just a minute too long.

With the laid back, droning pace of Saint Vitus’ signature style and catchy riffs, the band makes it seem easy. The album is short (just over half an hour), but after waiting 17 years for this release, I think the band can be forgiven, especially as some of the band’s best work such as “Born Again”. “Hallows Victim” and their self-titled debut also finish up around the 34 minute mark. This is not a band in their prime producing an innovative work of art, but rather a more or less direct continuation of an otherwise winning formula. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

This album features two things that have been (with the exception of a few niche genres) sorely missing from the Metal world since the beginning of the 80s: The first being blues influence, and the second being a sense of fun. This album is set squarely in the Black Sabbath style of early, featuring bluesy-rock guitar based metal that is equal parts Doom, Traditional and Stoner Metal. Yes – this is Doom Metal, and the lyrics feature the usual doom and gloom that is expected (the albums strange title is named after a depressant), but in a genre that has been dominated by 30 minute Atmospheric Funeral Doom songs for the past decade, this is a breath of fresh air. Band’s such as Ghost, Witchcraft and Orchid have been spearheading a retro/stoner/doom movement in recent years, but old legends Saint Vitus show them how it’s done. As nice at it is to listen to new bands inspired by the late 70s and early 80s Doom and Heavy Metal sound, it’s even better to hear the return of one of the genres great pioneers. If you were expecting some kind of shift towards modern sounding Metal music – perhaps cleaner sounding guitar tones or the more guttural, Death Metal influenced vocals that have leaked into just about every genre of metal in the past decade, then look elsewhere. This is a band returning the vintage Heavy Metal music that they helped to create, and the world of Metal in 2012 is better for it.

3.7/5

Paul Gibbins

Bedemon premier new track from Symphony of Shadows

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 17th August 2012 by Nico Davidson

Today, Svart Records announces October 23rd as the North American release date for Bedemon‘s long-awaited Symphony of Shadows, the first-ever set of all-new material by the band regarded by many as the original true U.S. doom band. While the album will be hitting major retail outlets on that date, it can be ordered immediately through the Housecore website (the label of Down frontman Phil Anselmo) here.

To celebrate this event, esteemed doom authority TheObelisk.net is exclusively premiering the track The Plague from Bedemon‘s Symphony of Shadowshere.  An extensive interview with Bedemon drummer/songwriter (and original Pentagram member) Geof O’Keefe shall be appearing shortly on TheObelisk.net.

Inspired by the goriest of fright films and the most menacing of music at the time, guitarist/composer/journalist/author Randy Palmer churned out the very first doom songs written on North American soil. This understated innovator recruited the help of his bandmates, Pentagram co-founders Geof O’Keefe (drums) and Bobby Liebling (vocals) as well as schoolmate Mike Matthews (bass). Throughout the 1970s, the band recorded numerous sinister, doom-drenched slabs of metallic gold — Black Sabbath were Palmer’s idols — that illegally floated around on sub-standard bootlegs for decades. Finally, in 2004 to much fanfare, these rough, never-intended-for-public recordings were collected, repaired, and released as Child of Darkness: From the Original Master Tapes.

Since then, Bedemon has seen a surge in popularity due to their intertwined history with the original Pentagram, in addition to their music being featured in the critically acclaimed award-winning documentary, Last Days Here (Sundance Selects/914 Pictures), chronicling the life and times of Pentagram and original Bedemon vocalist Bobby Liebling.

Literally a decade in the making, Bedemon now proudly issues their sophomore release, Symphony of Shadows. Shortly after completing recording of the basic rhythm tracks in April 2002, band founder Randy Palmer was involved in a tragic car accident and passed away in August of that year. O’Keefe, Matthews, and new vocalist Craig Junghandel worked with recording engineer Shawn Hafley over the next decade to finish the project both in tribute to Randy and also because they felt so passionately about the strength of the material; the result is nine bone-crushingly heavy slices of pure ’70s-flavored doom metal.

Clocking in at just under 60 minutes, Symphony of Shadows will be released as both a single CD and deluxe 2-LP vinyl set, chock-full of photos, lyrics, liner notes, and intimate stories from the surviving members of this very special band.

Regarding the album, drummer/guitarist/composer Geof O’Keefe says,“This is dedicated to Randy. His songwriting is so far advanced beyond the Child of Darkness material. The album sounds like a classic ’70s metal release, which is very intentional! 

Svart Records president Tomi Pulkki heard the album and knew it was perfect for SVART, saying, “As a label that is perhaps best known for releasing Pentagram and Reverend Bizarre on vinyl, I didn’t think twice when the chance to work with Bedemon was offered. We’re happy to help bring their final opus to the world.

Essenz – Mundus Numen

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 15th August 2012 by izaforestspirit

Essenz
Mundus Numen
Released: May 2012
Doom Metal/ Black Metal
Released via Svart Records

‘Mundus Numen’ is the second album from the German occult metal band Essenz. According to a recent press release the album is built around the overall theme of: “The acquisition of ones deepest will, which enables to transform the world from an instance to a suggestible setting. A manic boundary experience.”

First up is ‘Extinguishing Shapes: Innermediate’ which combines the classic doom metal guitar riffs akin to Candlemass and to some extent Black Sabbath with eerie whispering vocals. Then there’s some atmospheric parts, and what appears to be a sample from German chant or spell. By contrast to this we have ‘Sea of Light: Pleroma’, which sees not only a change in pace but also in guitar and vocal style from doom towards black or death metal. Even when the pace slows down again temporarily, half way through the track, the doom metal riffs are still shadowed by the death metal style growls. In fact I’d say that ‘Sea of Light: Pleroma’ is probably the least doom metal sounding track I’ve ever heard. Not that it’s a bad thing per se, just not what I expected.

Indeed there are several moments in this album that challenge my view of doom metal as being all slow and droning. One such moment is the fast, black metal style drumming half way through ‘Extricate Spirits: Amor’. If there was ever such a genre as blackened doom metal, Essenz would be the its forefather. That’s not to say that there’s no real doom metal tracks on here. Most of them feature elements of the genre such as the guitar riffs in the first half of ‘Observed By Spectres – Paranoia’ or the creepy, ponderous instrumental ‘Observing Spectres – Schizophrenia’, which sees a fusion of doom metal with ambient noise.

Overall this is a very interesting mix of various genres which makes for some very uneasy listening. If you’re tuning into this expecting to hear some orthodox doom metal, you’re in for a massive shock!

3/5

Iza Raittila

New Bedemon album release date announced

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 10th August 2012 by Nico Davidson

Today, Svart Records announces August 24th as the worldwide release date for Bedemon‘s long-awaited Symphony of Shadows, the first-ever set of all-new material by the band regarded by many as the original true U.S. doom band. The UK release date shall be September 3rd, while a special North American release date for later in the fall shall be announced soon.

Inspired by the goriest of fright films and the most menacing of music at the time, guitarist/composer/journalist/author Randy Palmer churned out the very first doom songs written on North American soil. This understated innovator recruited the help of his bandmates, PENTAGRAM co-founders Geof O’Keefe (drums) and Bobby Liebling (vocals) as well as schoolmate Mike Matthews (bass). Throughout the 1970s, the band recorded numerous sinister, doom-drenched slabs of metallic gold — Black Sabbath were Palmer’s idols — that illegally floated around on sub-standard bootlegs for decades. Finally, in 2004 to much fanfare, these rough, never-intended-for-public recordings were collected, repaired, and released as Child of Darkness: From the Original Master Tapes.

Since then, Bedemon has seen a surge in popularity due to their intertwined history with the original Pentagram, in addition to their music being featured in the critically acclaimed award-winning documentary, Last Days Here (Sundance Selects/914 Pictures), chronicling the life and times of PENTAGRAM and original BEDEMON vocalist Bobby Liebling.

Literally a decade in the making, Bedemon now proudly issues their sophomore release, Symphony of Shadows. Shortly after completing recording of the basic rhythm tracks in April 2002, band founder Randy Palmer was involved in a tragic car accident and passed away in August of that year. O’Keefe, Matthews, and new vocalist Craig Junghandel worked with recording engineer Shawn Hafley over the next decade to finish the project both in tribute to Randy and also because they felt so passionately about the strength of the material; the result is nine bone-crushingly heavy slices of pure ’70s-flavored doom metal.

Clocking in at just under 60 minutes, Symphony of Shadows will be released as both a single CD and deluxe 2-LP vinyl set, chock-full of photos, lyrics, liner notes, and intimate stories from the surviving members of this very special band.

Regarding the album, drummer/guitarist/composer Geof O’Keefe says,“This is dedicated to Randy. His songwriting is so far advanced beyond the Child of Darkness material. The album sounds like a classic ’70s metal release, which is very intentional! 

Svart Records president Tomi Pulkki heard the album and knew it was perfect for SVART, saying, “As a label that is perhaps best known for releasing PENTAGRAM and REVEREND BIZARRE on vinyl, I didn’t think twice when the chance to work with BEDEMON was offered. We’re happy to help bring their final opus to the world.”

Full tracklisting for Symphony of Shadows

1. Saviour
2. Lord of Desolation
3. Son of Darkness
4. The Plague
5. D.E.D.
6. Kill You Now
7. Godless
8. Hopeless
9. Eternally Unhuman

Agonia take on Italian doomsters Tombstone Highway

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 13th July 2012 by Nico Davidson

TombstoneHighway_band_xXxItaly’s very own Tombstone Highway is the newest member of the Agonia Records roster and a fresh addition to the label’s expanding profile. The band emerges from the muddy shores of The Po River in Piacenza and draws strong inspiration from the rural and folklore parts of its homeland. Their upcoming debut album is a classic blend of feisty Stoner/Southern Rock and Doom Metal, with catchy guitar solos and old-school heavy metal parts that may remind of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Corrison Of Conformity, Pride and Glory, Down, Black Sabbath, or even ZZ Top riffage. Apart from Hard Rock instruments, the band uses also a banjo and Hammond organs.

3 songs (raw and unmastered versions) from TOMBSTONE HIGHWAY can be heard at their Reverb Nation profile.

The release date of the debut album entitled Ruralizer is scheduled for this Autumn. The band has issued the following statement with regards to the signing: We are pleased to announce that we signed with Agonia Records for the release of our first album ‘Ruralizer’. We’re very proud of how the album came out and we strongly believe it’s the perfect way to begin our legacy. People into heavy, ballsy southern-tinged Hard Rock should take note!

You can check out TOMBSTONE HIGHWAY over at their Facebook as well: http://www.facebook.com/Tombstone.Highway

Alice In Thunderland – Hellfire

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 27th March 2012 by Nico Davidson

Band: Alice In Thunderland
Album: Hellfire
Release date: 23rd March 2012
Genre: Classic Rock/NWOBHM
Label: Unsigned/Self-Released

Alice In Thunderland have been an active part of the Yorkshire music scene for several years, supporting acts such as NWOBHM legends Blitzkrieg and Tygers Of Pan Tang, as well bands such as Ravenage, Clown Corpse and Cryptic Age. After two years of being recorded and produced by Mikey Bolton at Powerstage Studio, the band’s fourth album Hellfire is finally available.

The album begins with the thundering roar of guitars that kick start Something Is Coming. Frontwoman Kala’s are both powerful and emotive as they echo throughout the song, adding a feeling of melancholy to the music. The bass adds extra punch to the song, whilst the solo injects a very NWOBHM sound. Hey Hey takes on a darker approach with the guitars in the intro, sounding almost like a mix of Black Sabbath and Paradise Lost. Kev’s bass work blends handsomely with Kala’s vocals and Stu’s drumming. The guitars are overwhelmingly raw and meaty, keeping the track sounding strong.

The third track Take To The Limit turns the tempo of the album up several notches, sounding ever so slightly like a faster edition of a Whitesnake track but only heavier and more aggressive. Of course, the track does contain a mellow section that I find to be a quite genius part of the song, due to the emotional and embracing atmosphere of the softer, melodic guitar section that are carried ever so gently by the drums into the first, sagaic-sounding solo of the track, provided by Tony Dixon. The second solo of the track, performed by Tony Dean, has a more classic rock meets thrash metal sound flowing throughout it, adding an admirable contrast to the song.

Control has the previous sounds of Alice In Thunderland’s discography mixed into the guitars with a dash of elephantine riffs. The vocals are as hypnotic as a swinging pendulum, whilst the drums are crisp, like freshly lain snow. The solo, performed by Dixon, has a very behemothic sound which thunders through the speakers like Thor’s chariot racing through the sky. Always Forever is a song I’m delighted to hear on the album, as it’s one of my favourite songs that the band perform at shows. The intro is slow, melodic and soothing before leading the song into its staunch, classic rock sound. Kala’s vocals adapt to the changes in the song, infusing them with the soft and heavy sections. The heavy riffs of Are You Ready are another one of my fond memories of previous Thunderland performances. The guitar and bass sections bounce off each other masterfully, creating that unique AIT sound that the band’s fans are so well accustomed to.

I’m not gonna lie, the second I heard Voices blast through my speakers, a smile slid across my face. The song has always been my favourite track performed by Alice In Thunderland. The guitar riffs, masterfully played by Tony Dean, have a crisp, melodic sound that really bring out the emotion in Kala’s vocals, especially during in the chorus. The song has a certain energy that bursts from the music, enhancing the strength of the song. The one thing really sticks out the most though is the use of a clean guitar section, over the heavier riffs, that leads into the 70s stylised solo. The album comes to one of its last stops, before the end, in the form of Frozen, which despite the name is a spirited but dark track. Kala’s vocals truly reflect the spirited sound whilst the music portrays the dark part of the song. The chorus is one of those that will stick to you like glue, due to it being so memorable. The lyrics are very invoking of emotions, adding to the darkness that the music provides. The solo brings a very modern sound to the album, which is both surprising and pleasant.

No album is ever complete without a title track and so the album finishes on its title track Hellfire. The music differs greatly from the last track, bringing a potent atmosphere and rugged sound to the sound, which in my opinion, works well with what the song deals with lyrically. Mikey Bolton guest stars on this track, providing some very punchy backing vocals that help a dynamic sound to both the song and the album. Kev’s bass work is undeniably well performed and passionate, much like Dean’s playing and Dixon’s solo. Stu’s drumming on this track feels more zealous and alert than I’ve ever known it to be. Kala’s are on top form as well, throughout this track, adding a gentle feel to the rawness of the music.

After hearing the album in its entirety I am left wondering why Alice In Thunderland aren’t playing some of the big festivals or touring with the likes of Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and at a push, Megadeth. The band have managed to incorporate a healthy mix of classic rock and NWOBHM with a dash of modern influences and the production values on the album, thanks to Mikey Bolton, deserve an entire review of their own as the album sounds beyond epic but still retains that raw, untamed sound. Alice In Thunderland really do deserve more recognition for their work and Hellfire is bona fide evidence of that.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Hellfire is available from the band via their Facebook page, which can be found here.

Don’t forget to that Alice In Thunderland are supporting Severed Heaven at The Lamp on April 29th. Tickets are available £3 in advance from the band.

Alice In Thunderland w/Support @ Shades Nightclub

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , on 25th March 2012 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Alice In Thunderland, Lipstick Sunbeam
Location: Shades Nightclub, Bridlington
Date: 23rd March 2012

After two years in the making at Powerstage Studio, Alice In Thunderland’s fourth album Hellfire was ready to be launched and so it was at Shades Nightclub in Bridlington. Opening the night were Driffield-based alternative rock trio Lipstick Sunbeam. This was the second time I had seen them perform – the first time was in Hull at Denim and Leather’s Rock The Ringside. They had improved vastly since I last saw them, mixing up their set with a combination of hard rocking riffs and funky basslines, topped off with some raw, powerful vocals. The early part of their set had a certain flair of early Black Sabbath while the last few songs had a touch of doom metal meets alt. rock to the sound. Lipstick Sunbeam was certainly well received by the crowd and no wonder. They played a very staunch set that masterfully showed the band’s musicianship.

After a short interval, local heroes Alice In Thunderland made their way to the stage. Alice In Thunderland are one of those rare and unique bands that are like a fine wine – they get better with age. Like previous shows I’ve seen them at, their set was dominated with a strong barrage of classic rock styled-riffs and melodic vocals. Their sound has been enhanced with the addition of guitarist Tony Dixon who’s guitar work blends in well with Tony Dean’s riffs and Kevin Truelove’s bass work. It was difficult to see the band play due to a mixture of smoke and the crowd. Hush Now went down a treat with the crowd, as did their blistering cover of Crazy Train.

One of my favourite parts of AIT’s set was the performance of Something Is Coming, a song that contained untamed guitar work and truly showed frontwoman Kayla’s vocal talents. Hey Hey had a very thundering use of bass, provided by Kev, and the intelligent yet destructive drum stylings of Stu Millington. As always, AIT provided a brilliant and charismatic performance and were supported by one hell of a band.

Nico Davidson

Photography by David Ferret Taylor.

Bulletproof w/Fable @ Hollywood and Vine, Hull

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , on 29th January 2012 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Bulletproof, Fable
Location: Hollywood and Vine, Hull
Date: 27th January 2012

The show originally had four bands on the bill: Clown Corpse (whom I was really looking forward to see), Promethium, Bulletproof and Fable. Unfortunately, Clown Corpse had dropped off the bill [something about a member being ill] and Promethium had been delayed by an accident on the M62 and so had arrived and played after I’d left the venue to head for home.

Fable started up the night, beginning with a cover of Queens Of The Stone Age’s “Go With The Flow”. I’ve never been a fan of QOTSA, so I found this cover to be more entertaining than that of the original. They continued the set with an average rendition of “I Feel Like A Monster” by Three Days Grace [I think]. The rest of their set was built up by covers – though I’m not so sure about the fourth song they played. The vocals through out the entire set seemed to go from strong sounding to more weak throughout several of the songs, which is a shame since the frontman has potential. The only other thing that irked me about Fable’s set was the lack of energy and charisma, though it was their first gig so the nerves might have affected the overall performance.

After a long hour or so, Bulletproof made their way to the stage at long last though we were all left waiting a bit longer as some photographer was preventing the band from playing by getting in their faces with his camera, though the frontman didn’t seem that bothered by it. When they finally began playing, they took us all by surprise with a great use of riffs and strong clean vocals – except for the shouting-like vocals. The drummer displayed a lot of talent, keeping his sections tight. The highlight of their performance was that of a song called “Bacon Strips”. Bulletproof finished off with an almost perfect rendition of Motorhead’s “Rock Out” and a brutalising version of “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath.

As I stated above, I had left before Promethium had arrived at the venue, so I missed their set which is disappointing since I’ve heard their recorded material and quite enjoyed it. Bulletproof are definitely a band I’d recommend people to go see, as are Fable.

Nico Davidson

Eternal Fear – Embraced In Darkness [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , on 4th April 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Eternal Fear
Album: Embraced In Darkness
Release Year: 2010
Genre: Metal

Eternal Fear are one of those rare metal bands that don’t seem to fit into any sort of sub-genres in the metal scene. With influences from Paradise Lost, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden to Running Wild, Megadeth and Motorhead, Eternal Fear have broken out o the stereotype that all Swedish metal bands perform death metal. “Embraced in Darkness” is their newest release.

“Exit:Darkness” is the first track of the album; composed entirely unique percussion sounds and the use of a synth, setting a very macabre atmosphere. “Wasted Life” comes next, which begins with a very death metal-sounding intro which soon accompanied by rough power metal-styled vocals. The drums are well played and certainly heavy enough to go toe-to-toe with the guitars. The guitar solos certainly add some new flavour to the track as well. The track finishes on the last note of the second solo, making way for the title track “Embraced in Darkness”. Its intro is loud and brutal, just the way metal should be. The intro riff soon changes into a Iron Maiden-meets-progressive metal style of riff. The vocals sound more raw and rough. The drums and based also seem to have an Iron Maiden sound to them. The guitar solo is astounding, fitting in well with the main riff of the track.

“Cold Rays” come next, with a heavy guitar intro. The drums soon join in, along with the bass and vocals, which pretty much complete the track. The vocals get rougher in sections of the track, giving it an old skool kind of feel. The guitar solo leaves room for improvement. Next with a hard rock sounding intro is “Piece Of Me”, which sounds like an old skool fighting song. It is slightly softer compared to the previous tracks but it is still a brilliant piece of music. The guitar solo is simply brilliant, with plenty of melodic parts. “No Quarter” is next, start with just a drum intro which is soon accompanied by bass and a Trivium-styled guitar riff.  The vocals don’t seem as rough on this track, but they are just as powerful. The thrash-styled guitar solo would have to be the best part of this track.

Next is “Beast Within”. The intro is slow but heavy, though the guitars do sound as if they’re overpowering the drums ever so slightly. The vocals seem to have opted for less roughness again. For the most part, this track seems to have a power metal sound. The only down side to the this track is that the drums don’t seem that heavy. The guitar solo, for the most part, is great. Beginning with the fast-paced but consistent tap of the high-hat the track “Bleed” makes itself known. A very melodic guitar riff soon accompanies the intro, bringing heaviness to the track. The vocals have gone back to being rough, which is always a good thing. “Burn” comes next, with an intro heavier than a ton of steel. The bass can be heard clearly when it makes its appearance on the track. The vocals are rough again, added an element of aggressiveness to the track. The guitar solo pretty much makes the track perfect. The final track is “Look Inside” which begins with a heavy yet slightly melodic guitar riff, followed by the drums.  The track itself isn’t too impressive and it is a bad way to finish the album. Only the guitar solo is the interesting part of the track.

“Embraced In Darkness” is proof that Swedish blokes know how to perform metal that isn’t “death metal”. It’s a well-produced album with plenty of ear-splitting brutality and face-melting riffs. Most of the tracks have the potential to become mosh pit anthems and instant classics.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

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