Archive for Music

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 

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Cryptic Age w/Support @ Stereo [Live Review]

Posted in Live, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Cryptic Age, Lost Effect, Windrider
Location: Stereo, York
Date: 15th July 2011

The night was certainly a most anticipated event as it was Cryptic Age’s first gig as the headlining band. Originally four bands were booked for the night but one of them had dropped out. The doors were due to open at 7:30pm though didn’t open until nearer 8pm – Though this didn’t deter those who had already arrived for a night of metal.

Critically acclaimed folk metal quartet Windrider were the first to perform. Their usual guitarist, Lee, was absent due to injury so Windrider’s bassist Hallam filled in on guitar whilst Cryptic Age’s bassist Tom filled in as bassist for the night. At the beginning of Windrider’s set, the crowd was somewhat small though they soon filled in after the first song “In The Hall Of The Slain”. Despite playing a small stage, the band were extremely active receiving a great reaction from the crowd, especially with the performances of “A Warrior’s Tale” [The title track of the recent Windrider EP of the same name] and “Slaughter From The Shadows”. It was certainly an impressive performance.

The second band of the night were Lost Effect who describe themselves as “melodic metal”. Their set was certainly most interesting as they mixed brutalising riffs with melodic sections topped off with the clean, operatic-like vocals of the front woman and violent grunts and growls of their keyboardist. Lost Effect had a superb stage presence and clearly wowed the crowd with songs such as “Whispers” and “We Are The Damned”. The only down side to their set was that it didn’t seem long enough.

The headliners, as stated above, were York based power-folk quartet Cryptic Age. Their set began with a metal version of the theme song from “Game Of Thrones”. The vocals were strong, as is to be expected. Cryptic Age interacted brilliantly with the audience in between songs. Some of the highlights of their set include “Homeland”, “Paragons Of War”  and “On The Cold Bare Ground” [all of which can be heard on Cryptic Age’s debut EP “Homeland”]. Their performance of “Bring Down The Sky” was mystifying, almost haunting. Cryptic Age also played some new songs including “Aftermath” and “Maelstrom”. “Aftermath” sounded like a combination of Iron Maiden and Ensiferum due to the very melodic guitar riffs while “Maelstrom” had a very tribal sounding chorus, especially when the crowd sang along.

All in all, the night was certainly an energetic, metal fuelled night with immense performances from three bands. Keep an eye out for these bands as they could soon be on Scuzz or playing at Bloodstock.

Nico Davidson

Interview: Alex Brandsen [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Nico sits down with the “Dutch Drumming Machine” Alex Brandsen, talking about Cryptic Age’s tour and other things.

Nico: Good evening, Alex. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. You’re a drummer in two bands, Ravenage and Cryptic Age, how do you find it drumming for two bands? Is it something that’s naturally easy for you or have you, at times, struggled with it?

Alex: I really enjoy being in two bands, because even though Ravenage and Cryptic Age are relatively similar, I can express different styles and a different overall feeling in the two bands, with Ravenage being more straight, aggressive and fun drumming and Cryptic Age being more subtle, symphonic and ‘intelligent’ if you will. I generally don’t have any problems with drumming in two bands, although I did accidentally started drumming a Cryptic Age riff at a Ravenage rehearsal once…

N: That must have being embarrassing. Speaking of Ravenage, you’re due to tour with them [and Cryptic Age] later this year on the “Warhorns over Aengland” tour. Are you excited about it or are you feeling nervous?

A: Very excited! Really looking forward to touring with Nothgard, and doing some gigs outside of Yorkshire. Not nervous about it really, the nerves usually only kick in 10 minutes before a gig!

N: That’s usually the worse time for the nerves to kick. You recently played Metieval Requiem with both Cryptic Age and Ravenage while sharing the stage with Hecate Enthroned and Skyclad. How was it for you personally to share the stage with two big name bands in the underground metal scene like them?

A: It’s of course a great honour to play with big bands like them, especially Skyclad, as they practically invented folk metal.

N: Speaking of folk metal, Cryptic Age are unique within the folk metal scene due to having a female vocalist. Since the scene is more male-orientated, do you feel that this might be help Cryptic Age become more known?

A: Well there are a couple of folk metal bands that have female vocalists (e.g. Arkona), but the thing that makes Cryptic Age special in my opinion is that Jenny’s got a very wide vocal range, and sings entirely clean. We don’t use any harsh vocals, and that is quite unique I think. I definitely think this is something that works in our advantage, and may well get us some more fans along the road.

N: Cryptic Age recently released the “Homeland” EP. Is there any sort of concept or theme running through the entire EP?

A: Well there isn’t an overall theme or concept to the album, but most of our songs are based on either fantasy and/or mythology, especially Manx mythology and folklore.

N: Is there any reason for the influence from Manx mythology and folklore or is it just something that occurred naturally?

A: It definitely came naturally, although the main reason for the Manx influence is that Jenny is from the Isle of Man. We didn’t really have any influences or themes to go on before writing the songs on the EP. The first part of Homeland (sung in Manx Gaelic) was originally going to be a 1-min intro to the EP, and by then the lyrics of Homeland hadn’t been written yet. Then we put it at the beginning of the track and when we did that the rest of the lyrics about Jenny missing her homeland fell into place. We’ve sort of kept the mythology thing going ever since. Also, instead of writing songs about Norse mythology like most folk metal bands, Celtic mythology comes more naturally to us because it’s closer to our origins, and gives the songs a unique twist I think.

N: Well, Celtic and Manx influences certainly are refreshing for some who are bored of the whole Viking based form of folk metal. Just a few more questions now. Before joining Cryptic Age and Ravenage, did you play in any other bands?

A: I was in a mathcore band for a couple of years when I was still living in the Netherlands, but had to quit that band because I moved to York for my degree back in 2009. I didn’t play in a band for a year, but when I finished my masters in the summer of 2010 I wanted to play live again, and started looking for a band. I found Cryptic Age on gumtree, and soon joined Ravenage as well via Tom, who just joined as their new bassist.

N: You certainly don’t look like a mathcore drummer. Regarding Cryptic Age, are there any events you’re looking forward to partaking in with the band? Aside from the EP release show.

A: We’ve got the Metal 2 The Masses final coming up on the 24th, quite excited about being able to play in front of the Bloodstock judges, and really hoping to win it of course. And then there’s a gig with Old Corpse Road in September, which I’m really looking forward to, as OCR are one of the best local black metal acts out there in my opinion.

N: Sounds like it’s going to be a great year for you and the rest of Cryptic Age then. Final question, are there any bands from both the UK and Dutch underground metal scenes that you’d recommend that our readers check out? Or at least keep an eye out for? Also, thanks again for taking the time to talk with us today, Alex.

A: Except for Old Corpse Road mentioned before, I’d recommend giving Onheil a listen, a blackened metal band from the Netherlands. For a band in the local underground scene, I’d recommend Lost Effect, a melodic metal band from York, who will be supporting us on our EP release gig this Friday.

Cryptic Age will be performing at Stereo in York tomorrow night [15th July] with support from Windrider and Lost Effect. £5 OTD. Doors open at 7.30pm

Interview: Graeme Farmer [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 27th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Nico sits down and has an exclusive interview with Graeme Farmer of Lancastrian black metal outfit WOLFTHORN to discuss the up-and-coming album and other things.

Nico: Greetings Graeme. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. The band [Wolfthorn] recently stated on their official Facebook that there’s a full length album in the making. How’s that going for you guys?

Graeme: Cheers mate, thanks for the opportunity to chat and for showing interest in the band! The album is coming along very nicely, thanks. The bulk of it was recorded in Lancaster during the first few months of 2011. At the minute I’m just re-recording some of the lead and acoustic guitar parts at home, and adding small things like keyboard tracks. After that, it’s just a case of mixing and mastering etc, so with any luck it will be released by the autumn. It contains a mix of brand new songs and songs that have been a staple of our live shows for some time, but which were not recorded for the EP. The title of the album will be The Cold Descent of Eternal Winter. I’d say on the whole that it will be a darker, heavier and more progressive record than Echoes was, with the lyrical content continuing to focus on the people, places and events that helped shape the history of the British isles. There’s also a couple of nature-inspired tracks, which is something we haven’t touched upon much before.

N: In regards to the keyboard sections on some of the tracks, will some of the tracks be more symphonic heavy or will the keyboard sections just be there for a more atmospheric effect?

G: They’re there to add atmosphere to the tracks primarily. We don’t have a keyboard player in the band, so we were very conscious that if the keyboard tracks were too prominent the songs would sound totally different when we came to perform them live. We used some synth tracks in Twilight in Valinor and Sworn in Blood on the EP and felt they worked quite well, so they’ll appear in a few more songs on the album, but they’re very much there to thicken out certain riffs rather than to become a dominant element in the song.

N: That’s good then. When the album is out, do you all plan to tour in support of it or just play a big release show in Lancaster?

G: That depends if people in other towns want to see us play! We haven’t played much outside the north west as of yet, but that’s certainly something we’re looking to change. There will almost certainly be some sort of release show in Lancaster though, and I imagine the ale will be flowing! Playing live has been difficult this year as I’ve been living a long way away from the rest of the band and working a job that involves working evenings, so our show at The Flapper in Birmingham on July 30th will actually be our first gig of 2011! But I’m moving jobs in a few weeks, and I’m hoping to be in a position to move back to Lancaster soon, so if all goes to plan so should be able to play live a lot more often before too long. Playing live is by far the most enjoyable aspect of being in a band, so for me personally it’s been something I’ve missed doing a lot these last few months.

N: On the note of live music and gigs, how would you describe the music scene in Lancashire? Are there any bands you’d recommend people to see? Aside from Wolfthorn, obviously.

G: Lancaster always surprised me in that for a small town it has a very large and varied music scene. There are a number of pubs in the city centre that regularly put on live bands, and people in general are very enthusiastic about music. I’m talking music in general here, and not specifically metal. We often see people at our shows that you wouldn’t expect to be into extreme metal, and I’ve always been really impressed by people’s willingness to support local music regardless of genre or style. There’s also a large music scene in nearby Preston that’s worth mentioning too. In terms of bands from the area I’d suggest to others, there are a couple that spring to mind. Firstly, our guitarist Andy would be extremely unhappy if I didn’t use this opportunity to plug his other band, Consecrated Flesh. You owe me a pint if you’re reading this mate! They play a more extreme form of black metal than Wolfthorn, incorporating influences from German thrash bands like Kreator and Sodom. They released a new demo a week or two ago, which is well worth checking out. They’re a band that have come on a lot in the last few years, and are well worth seeing live as well. Their guitar player Will is actually responsible for the recording and mixing of the upcoming Wolfthorn album! And secondly, as a massive fan of traditional Heavy Metal and the NWOBHM sound in particular, I’d highly recommend a local band called Eliminator who are probably my favourite band from the area. Wolfthorn’s first ever gig was opening for them back in 2008, and they’re well worth checking out if you’re a fan of bands like Heavy Load, Gotham City and Sortilege.

N: You mentioned earlier that the upcoming album will be focusing on events and people in British history that helped to shape said history. Is there any reason particular reason for this or is it just one of those things that just happened while writing the songs?

G: Believe it or not, when I started the band I was going for a sort of “grim and frostbitten” vibe and we had songs about Satan and Elizabeth Bathory and stuff like that! It didn’t last long though, as I realised it was totally insincere and unconvincing. History is something that I’ve always been interested in, and I spend a lot of time reading about ancient Britian, so it just seemed the logical thing for me to write about. So we kept some of the riffs and stuff from the original songs, but I totally redid the lyrics with this new theme in mind, and it seemed to work a lot better. I think lyrics always come out better when the subject matter is something their author has an interest in or feels strongly about, and that certainly proved to be the case for us as the quality of our lyrics improved dramatically! I think with this kind of music the lyrics are extremely important, so I’m pleased to be able to stand behind my lyrics rather than have to perform some contrite, cliched black metal nonsense that I feel no connection to. But I suppose you and our other listeners will be the judge of whether or not that early change of direction worked!

N: At least you broke away from the cliché that a lot of black metal bands get trapped in. Throughout the time Wolfthorn has been around, have you or any of the other members been accused of ridiculous antics like “goat sacrifice” or “devil worship” based on the music? Or is it something you fear will happen when the band gets bigger?

G: Haha, not yet I’m afraid! We’ve had a few strange emails from nutjobs in America accusing us of being a racist band and ridiculous things like that, but that happens to a lot of bands that sing about heritage and history these days. It’s a shame that some people jump to conclusions like that, but you just have to ignore it really. As a band we have absolutely no political or religious agendas, and while our lyrics do refer to “British” heritage and identity, this is not intened to convey a sense of superiority over other people, racially or otherwise. We are proud of where we come from, and write songs about periods of history we are interested in, but that’s as far as it goes. Criticism like that is not something that’s ever really bothered me though, if anything I’m pleased that people in America have heard our music, even if they totally missed the point of it! There’s no such thing as bad publicity I guess. Haters gonna hate!

N: It’s good to see that there are bands that keep politics and religion out of the music. Speaking of other countries, are there any countries you’d like to tour in the future when the band has a larger, more international fan base?

G: It’s not something I’ve ever thought about to be honest. If that were ever to happen, I’ve never left Europe in my life so I suppose it’d be cool to visit places like the USA and Canada or Australia and New Zealand. It’d be really cool to play in places like Germany or Scandinavia where Heavy Metal music is still a mainstream force. But that’s all in the future if it ever happens at all, for now I’d quite like play the rest our own country! We’ve never played in the south of England, and we haven’t done Wales, Ireland or Scotland yet either, so we’ll probably try and tick those places off before we start leading the jetset lifestyle!

N: Just a few more questions now. In terms of your writing, aside from history, what influences you the most?

G: A variety of things really. History, along with mythology and folk legends, as you mentioned, is definitely the main influence lyrically. There are a few exceptions, however. Twilight in Valinor, from our EP, is about JRR Tolkien’s epic The Silmarillion. I’m quite proud of the lyrics in that one as I managed to rhyme two Elvish words! Aside from that, there are a few songs on the new album inspired by nature and the countryside, as well as one track that touches on some more personal themes. Musically, I have a wide array of influences. When the band formed the main influence was definitely Dissection, and they continue to be a big inspiration, although I always wanted to incorporate things like guitar solos and twin lead sections from the more traditional Heavy Metal that makes up the majority of my record collection. Whilst writing the second release, I was listening to a lot of Swedish death metal, particularly the record Silence of the World Beyond by A Canorous Quintet, so expect to hear that influence come through more strongly when you hear the album! Most people describe Wolfthorn as black metal with NWOBHM influences, which I suppose makes sense as that is essentially the sound I’m trying to create with my songwriting.

N: They’re certainly some impressive influences. Once again, thank you for your time. Final question now… Aside from the next album release and the Birmingham gig, what else is the band planning for the rest of the year? Any underground festivals or gigs elsewhere in the UK?

G: We’re playing a show in Lancaster on October 28th, which we’re quite looking forward to as it will be our first hometown show since November of the previous year. I would imagine that there will be some kind of release party whenever the album comes out too, which would also be in Lancaster as well. Other than that, there’s nothing else planned, but we’re always open to offers, so if anyone reading this likes our stuff and wants to book us to play their town, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Cheers for talking to me anyway mate, it’s been fun. Best of luck with your website, and hopefully I’ll see you at a Wolfthorn show in the future and we can have a pint together!

66crusher – Blackest Day [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 20th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: 66crusher
Album: Blackest Day
Release year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Thrash Metal

66crusher have been on the rise since the release of their debut album “in 2005. Since then they have been fighting their way to the top of the worldwide metal scene, gaining new fans each year. “Blackest Day” is the next step in their journey.

The title track, “Blackest Day”, is the first track of the album. It begins with a very thrash-influenced guitar riff whilst the drums are more laid back in comparison. The vocals are classic metal in their sound, standing out from the music – In an epic way. The vocals work well with the soft riff about half way through the track, giving the track a slight progressive edge. The track ends in true thrash metal style. “Recreated Destiny” has a slower, more emotional sounding introduction. Both the guitar riff and vocals are soft yet majestic, whilst touching a very deep emotional level not usually found in thrash metal. The track’s pace increases with the appearance of the drums, which again are quite laid back compared to the guitars. The vocals sound more powerful later on during in the track.

Following after is “Unsaid”. The intro is slow, heavy and dominating. The vocals, again, are soft to begin with, as is the piano medley that joins them. The drums slightly overpower the piano, which is somewhat disappointing. The track switches between light and heavy – Which is a nice emotional effect for the song. Next is “Concept of Elimination”, beginning with a choppy guitar section, which soon replaced by a more consistent, melodic guitar riff and an acute drum pattern. The vocals are strong, with a hint of a Judas Priest-sound. There is a good blend of progressive-sounding softer sections and heavier, savage thrash-styled riffs throughout the track, which makes up for it being almost ten minutes long.

”Recreated Reality” blasts next with an immense riff of violent proportions. The drums are barbaric yet precise to the beat. The vocals are still going strong, keeping the track interesting. Some of the riffs leave much to be desired though it is mostly a decent track. “Borderline” is another track that begins with a choppy riff, which can be off-putting for new listeners and just seems to drone on for the first few minutes. Another issue with the track is the length of it – Just over twelve minutes – Which again, can be off-putting for new listeners. The other riffs are well composed and sound great, as do the vocals and drums.

Nearing the end of the album comes “Shipwrecked”. Like some of the other tracks, the intro riff is soft and melodic, though it is short lived. The heavier riff certainly brings more excellence to the track though the drums are lacking in comparison. The vocals seem deeper yet more defined. They seem suitably combined with the acoustic riff. One thing that stands out the most about this track is the emphasis on the acoustic riffs, though the heavier riffs do play an important part of the track. “Shipwrecked” is certainly the best track of the album.

”Diminished Mind” starts with a mediocre sounding riff, which is a let down compared to the previous track. The vocals seem weaker as well and the drums also are lacking in power. The track does improve later on however, with some very Megadeth-styled riffs. “Us Beneath The Sea” is the final track of the album. Like some of the previous tracks, its intro is a soft riff, as are the vocals and drums. The riffs later become more wild west-sounding for a short while but they stay soft for the majority track, making for a good chill out track after eight brutalising tracks. The guitar solo towards the end does make the track slightly heavier though not by much.

”Blackest Days” features a strange yet wonderful mixture of progressive metal and thrash metal combined with some old skool sounds. 66crusher have certainly out-done themselves with this album, though there are some sections that could have done with more work.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Sulphur – Thorns In Existence [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 19th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Sulphur
Album: Thorns in Existence
Release year: 2011
Genre: Blackened Death Metal

Sulphur, who formed from the ashes of nineties black metal band “Taakeriket” and are made up of ex-members of Gorgoroth, Aeternus and Enslaved, have been a fierce, dominating force to be reckoned with in the Norwegian metal scene. Following a few years of laying dormant, Sulphur are back and fiercer than ever with “Thorns In Existence”.

”Revelations” begins with an eerie yet cheesy keyboard introduction, the kind that would be heard in a low-budget horror film. The guitars and drums, while greatly composed, are lighter and more melodic than expected. “True Father Of Lies” follows after, continuing from where “Revelations” finished. The guitars are less melodic and focus more on violent riffs, whilst the drums favour an aggressive approach as well. The vocals are ruthless and unrelenting, keeping the track beastly and heavy. A huge improvement from the first track “Revelations”, though the keyboard section on this track has a hint of cheesiness.

“The Purifying Flame” begins with a very creepy set of sound effects which are soon replaced by ferocious guitar riff and a brutalising drum pattern. The vocals, again are ruthless sounding, unrelenting in their aggression throughout most of the track. The strained whisper-like vocals combined with the slow guitar riff bring a new dynamic to the track. The guitar solo is most impressive, blending well with the stream of double bass pedal. The next track, “Hunting Sickening Seas” starts with a slow, brutalising and shockingly good intro. The vocals have more of a death element which mixes in well with the slow intro. There is a use of clean vocals on the track which gives it more a creepy sound. The acoustic section about half way through the track is a surprise yet a welcome break in between the storm of guitars, vocals and drums.

“Luna Noctiluca” follows after with a slow-paced, brutal and melodic guitar and drums section. The tempo increases with the introduction of the vocals. There is a contrast of clean vocals and screams, which works well with the music. The guitar solo is certainly a highlight of the track and perhaps one of the most enjoyable things about the album. “Into Nothingness” fades its way next. Even after the faded intro, the track seems weak and soft. In some sections, the vocals sound odd and the drums are semi-audible. in the same way it began, it fades out, making way for “Inverted Visions of Eternal Salvation”. It begins with a half-muted intro which soon turns beasty and aggressive. The drum work is intelligent, whilst the guitars are masterfully played and composed. The vocals are still going strong, working well with the synth sections. The track ends on a very creepy note.

“Ravner Beiter I Banesår”, which roughly translated means “Ravens pastures in his death-wounds”, blasts its way next, turning up the level of violence and brutality. The vocals are more slow-paced compared to the guitars and drums, though just as beastly and savage. There are some melodic riff use in one or two sections of the track, which is a pleaser for those who prefer melody over brutality. The track ends with a dramatic symphonic section. “Throne of Illusion” is the second to last track, beginning with a ghastly synth riff, similar to one found in a previous track. The guitars and drums that follow are nothing short of violent, savage and barbaric. The vocals have the bloodthirsty sound to them, as is to be expected. The breakdown towards the end is extremely unexpected however brings a whole new level to both the track and the album.

“A Crimson Line” is the final track of the album. The introductory riff is similar to one found on a Lamb of God album, only with more bite. The brutality and melody contrasts and blends brilliantly and the vocals are still going stronger, perhaps stronger than what they have been for the rest of the album. The use of keyboards and drums only on part of the track is just pure genius. “A Crimson Line” is certainly one of the best tracks on the album.

It’s easy to see why Sulphur have been a dominating force in the Norwegian metal scene. “Thorns In Existence” combines the best of black metal and death metal and mixed in a vast amount of musical genius and talent. This is certainly one of the best albums to come out of Norway since the early days of the Norwegian black metal scene.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Northsong – Winter’s Dominion [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 18th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Northsong
Album: Winter’s Dominion EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Viking Metal

Northsong is the solo project of American musician Cortland Runyon. “Winter’s Dominion” is the debut EP, due for release 24th June 2011.

”Prelude” begins with the sound of wind, which is eventually replaces by a symphonic section, semi-audible drums and a guitar section. The symphonic sections are grand and majestic, giving the EP a very regal feel. The track is very keyboard heavy, as the guitars only have a small part on this track, however the stream of double bass pedal throughout the majority of the track doesn’t blend well with the symphonic elements. “Mountains Of Madness” begins where “Prelude” finishes. The intro keyboard section has a very Gladiator soundtrack feel to it. The drums can be barely heard over the guitars, keyboards and vocals. The vocals are very death metal-influenced. The guitar sections are rough and aggressive whilst the vocal sections sound very distorted.

”Heathen War” begins with a fast paced and brutal guitar riff. The keyboard sections are epic and heroic-sounding, making the track somewhat sagaic. The drums are still semi-audible. The guitars remain fast paced throughout most of the track, stopping only for a symphonic break halfway through the track and one at the end. Next is “Desperation”. The intro riff is slower compared to that of the previous track. The vocals are still going strong, though still sounding distorted in some sections of the track. The keyboard riffs, however, are thing that stand out most about this track.

The title track, “Winter’s Dominion” begins with a calm, melodic intro mixed with an epic symphonic medley. A fast paced drum section joins in soon after, ruining the intro slightly due to the contrast in speed between the two. The track turns heavier with the introduction of the guitars. The drums however remain seemingly weak. The final track is a cover of Windrider’s “Let Death Be Our Pride”. The track is pretty much exactly like the original except for a slower tempo, weak drums and different vocals, though the clean vocals sound eerily similar to the ones found on the original. However, it is a surprisingly good cover.

”Winter’s Dominion” is a good EP though there is much room for improvement. The EP could have been more enjoyable if the drums were heavier and some parts of the tracks were produced better. However, it is a good debut EP and shows potential for Northsong.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Rhapsody Of Fire – From Chaos To Eternity [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Rhapsody Of Fire
Album: From Chaos To Eternity
Release year: 2011
Genre: Power Metal/Symphonic Metal

Rhapsody Of Fire have been a dominating force in both the Italian and European metal scenes. “From Chaos To Eternity” is the last album based on the fantasy saga that started with the band’s 1997 debut album “Legendary Tales” and is the first album to feature the band’s newest member Tom Hess.

The short lived track “Ad Infinitum” , which is Latin for “Endlessly”, is the first track of “From Chaos To Eternity”. The track is mainly composed of the technical guitar work of Luca Turilli combined with the epic narration of Christopher Lee. It is a brilliant opener for the album in true Rhapsody fashion. The title track, “From Chaos To Eternity” carries on from where “Ad Infinitum” finishes.  The track is already at a good start with the acute riffs and epic sounding piano sections. Fabio’s vocals are stronger than ever, the drums are masterfully played and the bass sections are pure genius. The third track, Tempesta Di Fuoco, which roughly translated means “Firestorm” in Italian, shreds its way next with a fast paced, technical intro riff mixed with some epic symphonic sections. There is use of some acoustic sections which brings a certain calm to the track whilst the piano only section takes away something from the track.

“Ghosts Of Forgotten Worlds” like the previous tracks, starts fast paced and technical, though some of the guitar sections on this track seem to have more bite and aggression.  The vocals blend well with the acoustic sections. The symphonic sections contrast superbly with the violent sound of the track. Even the drums seem to have more punch. The synth and guitar solos make this track one of the best ones on the album. “Anima Perduta”, Italian for “Lost Soul”, begins with the sound of wind followed by a beautiful combination of piano, flute and harpsichord. The vocals are soothing, blending with the solemn atmosphere and sound of the track. The symphonic sections make the track more majestic sounding. The guitars sound as if they don’t belong on the track however. Next is “Aeons Of Raging Darkness”. The introduction is mightily played bass section followed by an epic guitar riff mixed with a sagaic symphonic section. The guitar sections have more a speed metal element to them whilst the piano medleys add a hint of neoclassical to the track. The vocals, to begin with, are raw, aggressive and brutal, blending exceedingly well with the cleaner, operatic vocals. “Aeons Of Raging Darkness” is certainly one of the most aggressive, violent tracks ever to be performed by Rhapsody Of Fire and its a sound that works well for them.

“I Belong To The Stars” begins with a calmer introduction compared to the previous track though the track does soon turn heavy and symphonic. There seems to be more emphasis on the choir and symphony on this track, mixed in with some great piano medleys and strong vocals. Some of the guitar riffs leave much to be desired, as do some of the drum sections, however, the synth solo makes up for it. “Tornado” begins with a dramatic intro and the guitar riffs that follow are great. Like “Aeons Of Raging Darkness”, this track has a very aggressive and violent sound, complete with more harsh black metal screams mixed with the cleaner, more operatic vocals. The drum and guitar sections have improved since the previous track as well.

The last of the album is the almost twenty minute long epic “Heroes Of The Waterfalls’ Kingdom”. Christopher Lee’s narration is the intro, setting a certain legendary atmosphere. The vocals bring a very medieval sound, whilst the slight use of flute works well with the acoustic guitar.  The violin sections are well composed, making the track that much more pleasant to listen to. The symphonic sections signal the approaching metal assault, which was to be expected eventually. Fabio demonstrates his full range on this track, whilst the riffs are more acute and technical than they have been on the album. The harsh vocals can be heard in parts of this track, giving it more bite. The choir sections do seem to ruin the track ever so slightly, however everything else makes up for that. Some of the other guitar sections are more aggressive and barbaric, clearly demonstrating the masterful skills of the guitarists. Christopher Lee’s narration can be heard half way through the track, making it more and more sagaic. There is a conversation between the characters of the saga, which helps bring about a very legend-like feel, especially as it works well with the guitar riffs and symphonic sections. The track ends very solemnly and grandly. A perfect end to the saga.

“From Chaos To Eternity” fully demonstrates how much Rhapsody Of Fire’s sound has changed and mature since their first album. This album is perhaps the best one they’ve written and probably will be the best for a long to come. This is certainly a jewel to have for any fan of symphonic and power metal.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Sister – Hated [2011]

Posted in Punk Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , on 13th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Sister
Album: Hated
Release year: 2011
Genre: Punk Rock

Sweden is known, musically, for two things: Pop and death metal. However, there is a strong punk rock scene growing in the depths of Sweden and “Sister” are one of the pioneers, with their recent release “Hated”.

The short-lived “Radioactive Misery” is the first track of the album, composed of a distorted guitar section and various sound effects. “Body Blow” comes next, beginning with a violent riff. The vocals are strong and bloodthirsty, adding that hint of raw energy to the track. The drum work is acute and the riffs are sheer brilliance. The third track “Bullshit & Backstabbing”, begins in a similar to the previous track with a rough and raw riff, though the intro riff is more heavier and aggressive – The way punk rock should be. The vocals keep the track interesting, whilst the riffs are most impressive.

The title track, ”Hated”, blasts its way next with a ferocious intro. The track seems lighter compared to the previous tracks, which is a little bit disappointing, though the drums are well-played and in time. The guitar solo, however, makes up for the lightness of the track. “Motherfuckers (Like You)” begins with a merciless riff, which increases in tempo and aggression with the introduction of the drums. The vocals sound like a rough form of pop-punk vocals, which takes away the rough energy of the track slightly. Next is “Werewolves On Blackstreet”, beginning with an in-your-face, take no prisoners styled riff. The vocals have improved since the previous track and the drums seem more acute. This is certainly one of the best tracks on the album.

”Spit On Me” has a brilliant slow-paced riff to start with which transforms into something more technical and fast paced. The vocals have more of a hardcore sound to them which gives the track extra edge. “The Unlucky Minority” seems to have more an old-skool punk feel, especially in terms of the vocals and drums. The guitar sections aren’t as aggressive as they could be. The last three tracks, “Would You Love A Creature”, “Too Bad For You” and “Drag Me To The Grave” are brilliant tracks, showing the full abilities and skills of the band, though “Would You Love A Creature” would have to be the best of the last three tracks due to its emotional atmosphere and use of acoustic guitar and piano.

”Hated” is one of the best albums to be released in the punk rock scene since the glory days of bands like UK Subs and Anti-Nowhere League. The vast majority of the album contains the raw, aggressive, middle finger in the air kind of energy one expects to find in punk music. Great things are clearly on the horizon for “Sister”.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Euphoreon – Euphoreon [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Euphoreon
Album: Euphoreon
Release year: 2011
Genre: Death Metal

“Euphoreon” is the self-titled debut album of two piece German-New Zealander death metal project “Euphoreon”. The band originally started as a solo project formed by Matt Summerville from New Zealand. “Euphoreon” have been described as having influences of European and Scandinavian metal with “melodic hooks” and “harsh vocals”.

The first track of the album is the optimistically named “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining”. The intro riff is very solemn and turns melodic with the introduction of a more technical riff. Soon after, the track increases its pace as the drums join in. The guitar riff brings a more uplifting sound to the track, along with the use of synths. The vocals are harsh and aggressive. The most impressive thing about this track would have to be the intelligent composition of the guitar riffs and the the guitar solo, whilst having a power metal element to it, is mind blowing. Already, “Eurphoreon” is proving to be masterpiece.

”Before The Blackened Sky” is the second track of the album, beginning with a fast, brutal and melodic riff combined with some technical drum work. The synth sections are similar to that of a Children Of Bodom track. The guitar riffs can only be described as face melting brutality. The vocals make for some impressive sections, such as the whispered styled screams and the clean vocals. The third track, “Forever Being”, has an amazing piano medley for an introduction. The track only gets better when the guitars make their appearance. Their is another use of clean vocals on this track, which gives it more of a symphonic power metal feel, however the harsher vocals can be heard on this track as well. This track seems to be more keyboard dominated, though the guitar riffs are heavy and brutal, which is enough to keep the listener happy.

Next is “Eleventh Heaven” which begins with a calm acoustic riff combined with the light tapping of the hi-hat and a piano medley. The introduction of the electric guitar riff makes it seem like this is going to be a ballad-type of song, however the drums soon say otherwise when they turn more fast paced and brutal. A more aggressive guitar riff soon follows with a more epic synth section and brutal vocals. Just over half way through, the track soon turns slow and calm again with some clean vocals been featured. However, it is only the calm before the onslaught of a melodic solo. This is certainly one of the best tracks on the album. “Where Dead Skies Dwell” blasts its way next, sounding more darker than the previous tracks, which seems only fitting considering the song title. The riffs are more aggressive and the drums are more heavy as well. When the vocals seem to be more hostile. One of the more impressive sections of this track would certainly be the guitar solo.

A calm and soothing piano medley introduces “From The Netherworld”, setting a very solemn atmosphere. The solemn atmosphere is dispersed when a heavy but melodic riff rings out, increasing the tempo of the track. The drums are masterfully composed and played on this track and the vocals are more warlike. The second to last track is “Starnight Rider”. The intro is acoustic, which in a way is fitting for the track though the brutality and aggression of the track soon dominate. This is certainly one of the more fast paced tracks on the album, which makes it that much more enjoyable. There is a use of keyboards and orchestration in parts of the track, making for a very dramatic sound. It ends on a very solemn note. The last track, “Road To Redemption”, starts with a strange sounding organ intro, which seems to take away from the brilliance of the album so far. Thankfully the guitars soon replace it, with a military styled drum pattern. The riffs are extremely melodic and the vocals are as aggressive as they can get, it seems. The keyboard sections are beautifully composed. Cleans vocals can be heard as well, about half through alongside the organ medleys. The track comes to a brilliant and epic end.

”Euphoreon” have proved themselves to be quite the musical genius’ with their debut album “Euphoreon”. It has everything a metal fan could ask for, riffs with aggression and melody, technical and intelligent drum work, epic synth and keyboard sections and great vocals. New Zealand isn’t known for its metal scene, however, “Euphoreon” have the potential to make the New Zealand metal scene world famous if they carry on releasing masterpieces like this.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Theatres Des Vampires @ Asylum [Live Review]

Posted in Live with tags , , , , , , , on 9th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Theatres Des Vampires
Location: Ayslum, Birmingham
Date: 29th May 2011

It had been a couple of years since the return of the vampyric Italian five piece. Theatres Des Vampire had returned to the UK, and with local legislation banning them from what is a ‘routine’ performance for them, (Lead singer Sonya Scarlet, cutting herself to freely let her fans drink in exchange for immortablity), maybe that was a good idea for the faint hearted! and with a few UK dates (Newcastle and Islington) under their belt there was only Birmingham left for the final leg of the Moonlight Waltz European Tour and eagar with new stuff from their debt album Moonlight Waltz they were sure to leave their mark!

The first song started off with “Keeper Of Secrets” and as each member slowly appeared onto the front on the stage wearing masks similar to John Carpet’s horror villian “Michael Myers”. They stood into positions to where Sonya Scarlet made her appearance from behind the stage covered from head to toe (including head dress) in black, glided across the stage until the guitar kicked in, removed her arms and attended to her microphone. The next song was Bring Me Back, a song off there 2007 live album Desire of Damnation. This saw Sonya going up to the audience and touching and stroking their heads. The removal of the masks started at the beginning of the song revealing band members Stephan Banfante, Fabian Varesi, Zimon Lijoi  and Gabriel Valerio, though Sonya kept most of the attention by twisting and swerving her body around, it would be very difficult not see the sex appeal especially after dressing down to some PVC bras and knickers, New Rocks, ripped tights with loose chains dangling from her body, it is amazing how comfortable Sonya was, especially with a male dominated audience.

The next two songs were off previous albums Suicide Vampire (Lilith Mater Inferorum) and Nightbreed of Macabria (Angel of Lust), before returning to Sangue a new song featuring on the new album, Sangue translate to the Italian word ‘blood’ so the chorus consisted of “Blut… Blood… Blood …. Blood” which got alot of the crowd singing along to and again Sonya returning to swirving her body. The next two songs that they performed were La Grand Guignol (Moonlight Waltz 2011) and Wherever You Are (Anima Noir 2008). The next song was ‘Rain’ which got a lot feedback from the audience and at the end of the song saw Sonya leave while the band continued to play “Dracula”. The return of Sonya to the stage saw her dressed in a  Medusa style of costume, as well as some more PVC bras (with straps across her stomach) and pants. This when we saw them perform another song “Medousa”, from their new album though once the song was done with and moved to the next.

The next two songs, Unspoken Words and The Gates of Hades, were a success with the audience singing along, though Blood Addiction seemed to be the best performance of the night. The song  began with Sonya encouraging the audience to clap along with Zimon Lijoi throwing his fist up in the air to the rhythm of the song, we seemed obliged to do so, as well as sing along. This is one of the few songs that that the audience could hear Stephan Banifante’s vocals and they sounded exactly as they do on each of the albums. During the instrumental part of this song, Sonya was seen retreating to the centre of the stage by the drums were she quickly returned, it appeared that she was choking on stage before spitting out a mouthful of fake blood, then covering herself with the remainders onto the audience while they cheered on in delight. There was a quick costume change again for Sonya into a long white dress. As Sonya continued to sing under a veil of white she soon discarded it just after the chorus and decided to come to one of the sides of the stage.

That was meant to be the Theatres Des Vampire set finished until one of the members of the audience decided to start singing La Danse Macabre du Vampire to which led the band to smile and continued performing this song as an encore, Sonya sang most of the song but when it chorus Sonya passed it down to sing to the audience which brought them to a Grand Finale in which to end their European Tour. It was a brilliant performance and one that will be remembered for a long time to come.

Danielle Eley

Theatres Des Vampires – Moonlight Waltz [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Theatres Des Vampires
Album: Moonlight Waltz
Release year: 2011
Genre: Gothic Metal/Vampire Metal

Italian Gothic Metal quintet “Theatres Des Vampires” are back with their newest studio release “Moonlight Waltz” which features an array of guests including Snowy Shaw [Therion], Cadaveria [Opera IX] and Marco Benevento [The Foreshadowing].

The eerie keyboard intro of “Keeper Of Secrets” begins the album, which is soon accompanied by Sonya’s vocals and a dark strings section. The track increases in pace and heaviness with the introduction of the guitars and drums. Sonya’s vocals sound very hypnotic and grim. Snowy’s vocals bring an extra touch of Gothic feeling to the track. The keyboard sections are brilliantly composed. This track certainly keeps the attention of the listener, making for an immense intro track. “Fly Away” is the second track of the album. The intro has a very symphonic metal sound, due to the combination of melodic guitar riffs and keyboards. As can be expected of any TDV track, the vocals bring a certain eeriness to the music. The keyboard sections bring a very dramatic sound to the track, whilst the guitar riffs keep the metal element of the track alive. The drums seem lighter compared to the previous track however.

The title track, “Moonlight Waltz” is next beginning with a soothing piano and strings introduction. When the vocals and drums occur, the track begins to sound like a ballad, adding a very unique touch to the album. The soft guitar riffs are beautifully composed, allowing this track to live up to it’s title. The acoustic guitar towards the end of the track brings it to a wonderful yet sorrowful finish. The fourth track, “Carmilla” takes its name from the short story of a lesbian vampire by the same name written by “Sheridan Le Fanu”. The first section of the track sounds epic and dramatic. The vocals add to the dramatic effect of the track, while the guitars keep a raw energy flowing through the track. The strings solo is unexpected but makes this track so much more enjoyable. This track has certainly added a new level of beauty to the already great story of Carmilla. Next is “Sangue”, beginning with a synth intro which is soon joined by an aggressive riff. The vocals sound very ghastly and the drums sound powerful. The male vocals add another element of aggression to the track, sounding almost like death metal grunts.

The cover of Mecano’s “Figlio della Luna”, follows after composed mainly of keyboards, strings and vocals. Sonya’s vocals sound amazing alongside the keyboards. The use of guitars and drums adds a very TDV sound to this cover. Next is “Black Madonna”, beginning with hypnotic, almost-siren like vocals and an acoustic riff. About half a minute in, the track turns heavier and more symphonic. The use of acoustic guitars is quite frequent throughout the track, making it one of the more lighter tracks of the album. The keyboard sections are outstanding. “Illusion” is next, with a simple yet beautiful keyboard intro. The keyboard medley turns more melodic when the drums begin to be played, which work well with the keyboard. The guitars soon make themselves heard, bringing a more rockier sound to the track. The guitar riff gradually becomes heavier for a while before stopping for a short break before returning with an epic solo.

“Le Grand Guignol” featuring Cadaveria is next already bring the level of heaviness up a notch. The use of screams improves the track, whilst the drum work is intelligently composed. There are some obvious industrial elements and influences which can be heard on this track, just like with some of the previous tracks. “Obsession” is next. The intro is very industrial sounding,. Like the intro, the vocals and drums have an industrial sound to them, which work strangely well with the string sections. There is a use of operatic styled vocals as well which makes the track more dramatic and intense. The only down side to this track is the lack of guitars. The second to last track, “The Gates Of Hades” is next, which like some of the previous tracks begins very eerily though the guitars soon remedy this alongside the string sections. There seems to be more emphasis on the keyboard medleys on this track, whilst not a bad thing, it may not be approved of by some. There is a slight use of Latin lyrics on this track as well, bringing a very Gothic atmosphere with them. The final track “Medousa” begins with a slight industrial sound, combined with some creepy whispered vocals. The guitars and keyboards can soon be heard. The guitars and drums are intelligently composed on this track, combining both heaviness and brilliant musicianship. There is a brutal use of double bass drums on the track, which makes it a perfect end to a brilliant album. The keyboard sections certainly bring a calm to the storm of metal that is heard on this final track, especially with the outro medley.

With a mixture of symphonic, Gothic and industrial elements, this is certainly a most enjoyable album. Everything seems to fit together so well and it’s good to see that Sonya’s vocals are still on top form. This is a must have album for old and new Theatres Des Vampires fans alike. One can only wonder how they will top this album.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Alestorm – Back Through Time [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Alestorm
Album: Back Through Time
Release year: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal/Power Metal/Pirate Metal

“Back Through Time” is the latest chapter in the legacy of Scottish pirates “Alestorm”.  It was released through Napalm Records earlier this month.

Beginning with the title track “Back Through Time”, this album already begins to sound promising. The track starts with the sound of waves followed by a pirate warning his captain of Vikings approaching. The track is then dominated by a fast paced drum section which is soon accompanied by a power metal-influenced keytar riff combined with an aggressive guitar riff. The track soon turns into a typical Alestorm track. The vocals retain their rough sound from previous Alestorm releases, giving this track a very piratey feel. The guitar solo is very hypnotic and old-skool sounding while the keytar solo brings more of a folk metal element to this track. “Back Through Time” has proven itself to be a worthy choice as he opening track of the album.

The second track is “Shipwrecked”. Its intro riff has a very raw sound to it, which is soon overpowered by the intelligent keytar riffs. The vocals are strong, keeping that pirate touch. However, the thing that stands out the most about this track are the drums as they seem to have more power than the guitar and bass and are virtually as loud as the keytar riffs. The next track is “The Sunk’n Norwegian” which begins with a very Celtic styled riff. The vocals sound more raw and aggressive, whilst the keytars have taken on more of an epic power metal sound. The guitar riffs seem more simplistic but heavier compared to the previous track. The bass work has improved since the previous track as well.

“Midget Saw” is the fourth track of the album, beginning with a more folkish keytar riff. The guitars and drums dominate this track in terms of aggression and heaviness whilst the keytar riffs bring some immense melodies. The bass sections are the most impressive thing on this track however, followed of course by the brilliantly composed guitar solo. Blasting its way next is “Buckfast Powersmash” which certainly does live up to its name with a fast paced, aggressive guitar intro. A keytar riff eventually joins it, bringing that folk sound to the track. However, the impressiveness of this track soon dies out. “Scraping The Barrel” comes next, bringing a very calm Celtic sound before the guitars and drums blast their way in. This track has a very solemn sound yet there’s a little bit of humour to found in this track as some of the lyrics have a very straight forward stab at the Alestorm haters. The guitar solo has a majestic touch to it, which pretty much completes this track.

The next track, titled “Rum”, starts with a very thrash styled riff before the keytars bring a piratey sound. This track has the potential to become a modern day drinking song, likely to be heard in pubs all around the world. “Swashbuckled”  blasts its way next with a combination of keytars and double bass pedals. The guitars bring the metal element to this track, whilst the vocals add an aggressive touch to the track. Despite been slow paced compared to some of the other tracks, this is one of the best tracks on the album, which is proven by the masterfully played guitar solo. “Rumpelkombo” speeds its way next in the space of six seconds, leading straight into the next track “Barrett’s Privateers”, which is originally performed by Stan Rogers. Alestorm have virtually made this track one of their own with their unique pirate sound.

“Death Throes of the Terrorsquid is next, featuring Ken Sorceron of Abigail Williams. The track begins with a very power metal sounding keytar intro riff which is soon accompanied by an immense and melodic guitar riff. The vocals seem to have much more power than the previous tracks. Some sections of this track seem poorly composed but overall the vast majority of it has been soulfully written for an extremely epic sound. Ken’s vocals bring a very black metal sound to the track, especially as the music turns dramatic. While this is an unusual sound for Alestorm it works brilliantly well!

The next track, a bonus track and a Wurzels cover all in one, is next in the form of “I Am A Cider Drinker”. Its intro sounds like an Irish jig while the vocals make it sound like a drinking song. This is a most suitable track for the album and one can only imagine Strongbow drinkers all around singing along to this. The last track of the album is a cover of Lazy Town’s “You Are A Pirate”. Surprisingly it sounds great. It certainly has a very piratey feel and is clearly superior to the original version. The only downside to it is that it’s too short.

Alestorm have proven themselves to still be ready to crank out the pirate metal with “Back Through Time”. Despite a few not so good parts of the album, it is a jewel in the folk metal scene. So, kick back and enjoy a shot of rum or bottle of cider with “Back Through Time”. It’s certainly worth it.

4/5

Nico Davidson

MaYaN – Quarterpast [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3rd June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: MaYaN
Album: Quarterpast
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal/Progressive Metal

Dutch symphonic death metal sextet is the latest project by Epica guitarist Mark Jansen.  Their debut album is “Quarterpast” which features some well known names from the European Metal scene including Simone Simons [Epica], Floor Jansen [ReVamp, ex-After Forever] and Henning Basse [Sons of Seasons]. The subtitle for the album is “Symphonic Death Metal Opera” which promises a brilliant story behind the songs.

The album begins with “Symphony Of Aggression” which already hints at pure death metal styled brutality. The intro riff pulls no punches, bringing a heavy barrage of double bass drum and distorted, skull-crushing guitars. The introduction of Mark’s grunts completes the track. The symphonic sections add a certain calm to the storm that is “Symphony Of Aggression” whilst the whispered section brings a touch of eeriness to the track. The most shocking thing about this track is the use of Simone’s vocals soon into the album, however, it doesn’t take away from the brilliance of the musicianship or composition of the track. “Symphony Of Aggression” is perhaps one of the best opening tracks ever to have been written and recorded.

The second track, “Mainstray Of Society – In The Eyes Of The Law Corruption”, begins where the previous track finished, bringing melodic riffs to the album rather than beasty riffs. Mark’s grunts work well with the symphonic and guitar sections. The highlight of this track would definitely have to be the drums and vocals. The album soon takes a turn into a more gentle track which takes its name from the album title “Quarterpast”. The track is a Gothic-sounding orchestral track, which unfortunately doesn’t last too long.

“Course Of Life” bombards its way on to the album next, starting with a heavy and aggressive yet melodic and beautiful guitar riff mixed with some intelligent drum work. Henning’s vocals are the first ones to be heard on this track and they are as strong as ever, bringing a whole new sound to the album. Mark’s grunts and Simone’s and Floor’s vocals work well as backing vocals on this track, though the track could have been better with some more vocals from Mark. The symphonic sections, like the first two tracks, work well with the guitars and drums, adding a tragic sound to the track. The track finishes with a very tense and dramatic symphonic outro. “The Savage Massacre – In The Eyes Of Law Pizzo” is the fifth track. Its intro is composed of ear-splitting riffs, melancholy symphonic sections and heavy drums. Mark’s grunts seem to have become more aggressive and angry-sounding for this track. The guitars also seem to have become more heavy, whilst some of the symphonic sections sound repetitive of the previous tracks. The soft section half way through, composed of people talking with strong operatic vocals singing over them adds mystique to the track before the heavy onslaught of riffs, drums and grunts returns.

“Essenza Di Te” is one of the more softer tracks on the album,  featuring vocals from up-and-coming opera star Laura Macri. This track is beautiful composed, featuring a lot of classical-styled music mixed with very strong vocals which bring a very touching essence to the album. “Essenza Di Te” leads into the aggressive and melodic intro of “Bite The Bullet”. This track has more of a power metal sound to it, in terms of the music and the vocals of Henning add to the power metal sound. Mark’s grunts can be heard a fair bit on this track as well, which brings that needed death metal element. The guitar solo on this track is the best one on the album. The next track is “Drown The Demon”, which is more of a ballad-styled song. It begins with a dark symphonic intro which brings about a very tense musical atmosphere. The guitars soon follow, while not as heavy as previous tracks, they still pack a punch combined with the drums and bass. The combination of Mark’s grunts and Floor’s vocals are reminiscent of After Forever, however this track is far from been an After Forever track. The guitars work beautifully with the symphonic sections. In fact, the guitar riffs are almost hypnotically catchy. The guitar solo is epic and the voice over just after it brings a whole new level to the track.

“Celibate Aphrodite” brings the aggression back to the album with a thrash-sounding intro riff. The piano sections that follow the intro add a very Gothic touch to the track, which works brilliantly with Mark’s grunts and the guitars. The voice over, followed by the female vocals is an astounding touch to the album, especially as it’s followed by a short but expertly played solo. A longer solo comes after another section of female vocals, adding a very aggressive sound to the track. This track is one of the best ones on the album. The orchestrated intro of “War On Terror – In The Eyes Of The Law Pentagon Papers” comes next, with a very Romanian gypsy sound before the brutal assault of guitars, drums and bass begins. This track seems more fast paced compared to the previous ones and Mark sounds as if he’s struggling to keep up with the music in some sections, which is the only flaw with this track. The symphonic sections would have to be the most impressive thing about this track, followed by the guitar riffs. “Tithe” is next, been composed of a piano medley which sounds a tad like the Harry Potter theme to begin with. This track is the last soft track of the album, bringing it with an eerie sound. The bonus track, “Sinner’s Last Retreat – Deed Of Awakening” comes blasting next, with a heavy intro combined with strong vocals. The orchestration seems to have become heavier, virtually matching the guitars and drums in brutality and aggression.

“Quarterpast” has proven itself to be a most impressive debut album. Mark Jansen has outdone himself with this album. Each track leaves the listener wanting more and with an array of big names from the European metal scene, it’s no wonder that this is a brilliant album. For those who are worried that this is going to be an “Epica-sounding album”, you need not worry. This album has more bite and aggression, a true jewel in today’s death metal scene.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Metieval @ 41 East Coast [Live Review]

Posted in Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 17th April 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Skyclad, Hecate Enthroned, Windrider, Cryptic Age, The Occupier, Pastel Jack, XIII and many more
Location: 41 East Coast, Hull
Date:  16th April 2011

Metieval is known for been one of the greatest music events in the Yorkshire region and it held true to that fact on 16th April in Hull. There was a buzz of excitement for this epic 12 hour event. The opening band for this epic 12 hour fray of rock and metal were Scunthrope rockers “The Occupier”. They performed a brilliant set which included songs such as “Sonny Chiba”, “Spoils of War” and “Addict in Wonderland”. Their set was one of the best of the night, they were good good to have been the opening band but certainly kept the crowd excited for the rest of the day!

The second band to perform were the mighty “Immolator” who proved to be heavy and brutal performers. Pastel Jack performed shortly after “Immolator”; making for an exciting festival so far especially with a cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver” and a brilliant performance of their own song “Condemned From The Start”. York based power-folk metallers “Cryptic Age” were the next to enter the fray bringing their immense mixture of pure folk metal-styled brutality and strong soprano vocals. They performed great songs like “Paragons of War” and “No Folkin’ Way”. Cryptic Age were certainly one of the best bands of the night and the crowd clearly enjoyed their amazing set.

Hull death metal quartet “Scatorgy” brought more brutality to Metieval with songs like “Traumatic Vaginal Escapades” and “Offspring Enslavement”. They certainly kept the crowd entertained with their heavy, in-your-face riffs. The critically acclaimed “Windrider” soon entered the fray performing songs their newest EP “A Warrior’s Tale”. The set was greatly performed, though some in the crowd were disappointed by the playback of the keyboard sections. “Violent Deception” performed just after “Windrider”.

More folk metal was performed at Meteival in the form of Sheffield-based “Northern Oak”. The best songs of their set were “Madness of the Feral Moon” and “Silvan Lullaby”. Hull-based “XIII” were the next to perform with their thrash-styled anthems such as “Eclipse” and “Longest Day”. “Old Corpse Road” soon performed after with brilliant songs such as “Devils Footprints” and “The Old Corpse Road”.

One of the highlights of the night was the performance by Bridlington classic rockers “Alice In Thunderland”. They performed four tracks from their album “Into The Darkest Night”, which were Into The Darkest Night, In The Beginning, Hush Now and  Always Forever. They also performed “Frozen” and “Take To The Limits” which are from their up and coming album. “Infernal Creation” played after them and Soulflame took to the stage after that with a very bluesy styled set which was brilliant for those in the crowd who needed a rest from the neck breaking brutality and ear-splitting heaviness of the other bands.

The highly anticipated “Hecate Enthroned” took the stage, bringing with them a grim and dark atmosphere. The best part of their set was the performance of “Beneath A December Twilight”. “Sworn Amongst” took the stage afterwards who were followed by folk metal outfit “Skyclad” who performed a song from each of their albums including “Spinning Jenny”, “Another Drinking Song” and “Parliment of Fools”.

Metieval has earned its reputation as Yorkshire’s best metal event and for good reason. Each band were amazing and the quality of their music is astounding. Those who missed it, missed out on something extremely epic.

Nico Davidson

Emerald Sun – Regeneration [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 19th March 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Emerald Sun
Album: Regeneration
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Power Metal

Emerald Sun have been a part of the Greek power metal for thirteen years now, with a surprisingly small discography. “Regeneration” is the newest addition to said discography.

The album begins with the track “We Won’t Fall”, which begins with a rhythmic drum intro which is soon accompanied by a rock sounding riff. The guitar goes slightly more metal when the synths make themselves heard. The vocals have a very Judas Priest-meets-Iced Earth sound to them. The synth riff gets irritatingly repetitive throughout the track. There is a technical use of guitar work which improves the track a fair bit. However, the highlight of the track is the guitar solo. “Theater of Pain” follows after. It begins with the sound of clapping followed by a drum intro. The guitar riff that follows has a slight Dragonforce sound to it. There is a great use of double bass pedal throughout the track and the synth riffs work well with the guitars. The guitar solo sounds choppy to begin with but soon improves. There is a line of narration towards the end of the track, which gives the track a little bit of a Gothic novella sound.

Next is “Where Angels Fly” which begins with a heavier riff than the past two tracks. The vocals sound a tad lower as well and the synths work extremely well with the guitars. The drums on the other hand do sound quiet compared to the synths, guitars, bass and vocals. Some of the guitar sections on this track aren’t exactly impressive, as they lack technicality and musicianship. The solo, however, is good. The title track “Regeneration” comes after, being composed entirely of eerie and epic sounding synths. “Starchild” comes blasting in next with a fierce combination of guitars, drums and keyboards. The vocals, again, sound slightly lower. The keyboard riffs are more impressive on this track than they have been on the previous ones.

“Speak of the Devil” is next, beginning with a synth-and-drums intro. The guitars soon make themselves heard. The vocals sound like a harsher version of those found on a Manowar album to begin with and go back to sounding like a Judas Priest-Iced Earth combination. The synth sections sound great, especially when combined with the vocals and drums. Next is “Planet Metal” which begins with a heavy intro which is soon accompanied by synths and vocals. There is a slight use of squeaky vocals as well which kind of ruins the song. Aside from that, it is an okay track.

“Chasing The Wind” is next, which begins with a mixture of guitar, drums and synth. It isn’t exactly a heavy track, as it sounds more like a hard rock track rather than a metal track. The guitar solo, however, does add an element of metal to the track. Next is “Fantasmagoria” which begins with a slow synth intro, which is soon accompanied by a slow guitar riff and female vocals. The male vocals come in when the track turns heavier. There is also a use of harsher vocals, which sound eerily familiar to that of Marco from Nightwish. The guitar solo is similar to that of something that Megadeth would perform. After the guitar solo, there is another vocal section in which a new set of vocals come in, which sound a tad bit like those of the late, great Dio. The only problem with this album is that it’s far too long.

The last track of the album is the bonus track, which is a cover of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero”. It begins with a few chords played on the keyboard and a few quick blast-beats. After that the main keyboard riff begins. The guitars soon come in, bringing the metal element to the track. The vocals soon follow, sounding very much like Bonnie Tyler, almost to the point where the the vocals sound like female vocals. The guitar solo, however, is absolutely immense. If anything, this cover is probably more of a comical cover than a serious tribute to Bonnie Tyler.

Most bands normally get their sound perfect by their third album. Emerald Sun however have failed to do so. “Regeneration” is a great album but it sounds as if it is lacking in parts. Hopefully, Emerald Sun will have their sound perfected by the next album release.

3.5/5

Nico Davidson

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

Within Temptation – The Unforgiving [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 16th March 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Within Temptation
Album: The Unforgiving
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Metal/Gothic Metal

“The Unforgiving” is the fifth studio release by Dutch symphonic metal sextet “Within Temptation”. It is due to be released along side a series of short films and a comic book series to encompass a concept story.

The album begins with “Why Not Me” which is composed entirely of orchestration and female narration which makes for a very mystical and epic atmosphere. “Shot In The Dark” follows soon after, beginning with the haunting sounds of a soft choir mixed with some very powerful vocals from Sharon. About a minute in, the drums and guitars make themselves heard, making the track heavier. The track turns soft again for a short while later on, which is followed by an amazing guitar solo. Next is “In The Middle Of The Night”. It begins with a hard rock sounding guitar riff. The vocals soon come in after the keyboards, drums and bass. The vocals are astounding on this track and the keyboard parts are simply brilliant. The track turns more Gothic sounding in terms of the guitar riffs about half way through, giving the track a more sinister sound for a short while.

“Faster” comes next, beginning with another hard rock sounding guitar riff which is soon accompanied by drums. Once again, the vocals are astounding and full of energy and power. This track is certainly one of the less symphonic and lighter tracks on album, featuring a small amount of emphasis on the keyboards as such.  Straight after is “Fire and Ice”, which begins with a very cold and dark orchestral section before the piano and vocals take over, bringing some warmth to track. However the lyrics keep a cold touch on the track. The piano is eventually replaced by a heavy orchestral piece, bringing a certain epicness to the track and album. The track finishes on a beautifully slow outro.

“Iron” comes blasting in next with another hard rock sounding guitar intro, which is soon accompanied by drums, bass and orchestration. The vocals soon come in making the track complete. The vocals are absolutely amazing and the orchestrated sections are beautifully composed. There is a use of female narration which just makes the track more enjoyable. The track does slightly heavier after the narration, leading straight into a guitar solo of immense proportions. Next is “Where Is The Edge” which begins with haunting beautiful female vocals and an amazing orchestrated medley before the guitars, drum and bass kick in. Like the previous tracks, the vocals are again astounding and full of power. The use of a synth riff just makes this track seem that much more dramatic.

“Sinead” is next, which begins with a choir sound and soft orchestration, accompanied by Sharon’s vocals. The drums soon make their way onto the track, working very well with the orchestration. The guitars bring a more rock sound to the track when they finally make themselves heard. The drums stay oft, whilst the orchestration pretty much dominates the track alongside the vocals. After is “Lost” which begins with a calming acoustic intro. Sharon’s vocals work amazingly well with the acoustic section. The orchestration gives the track a more mystical feeling. “Murder” comes next and it begins with a very dramatic sounding orchestral sound. Sharon’s vocals seem to sound more aggressive on this track as well. The use of synth works well with the guitars, drums and bass.

The second to last track “A Demon’s Fate” comes next, beginning with an intro similar to that of “Fire and Ice” until the guitars come blasting in. The orchestration on this track is simply amazing. It works well with everything else going on in the track. The use of double bass pedal works extremely well with the orchestration as well and the guitar solo just makes this track so much more amazing. “Stairway To The Skies” is the last track. It begins with orchestration and a piano medley, setting a very sombre yet tense atmosphere, which leads the way for the guitar and drums which stay soft. The vocals soon follow, before the track turns slightly heavier. The track switches between heavy and light, keeping a nice balance of the two.

“The Unforgiven” is far from being a symphonic metal album, however, it does have the Within Temptation sound. The orchestration and guitar riffs are simply mind blowing and Sharon’s vocals are as powerful as ever. It is well produced and well presented. This is certainly one for any fan’s collection.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Weak of Wanting [Band Review]

Posted in Alternative with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 11th March 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Weak of Wanting
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative
Site: Weak of Wanting @ VF

One can find many jewels of alternative music when searching the internet and that is certainly the case with Milton Keynes-based alternative band “Weak of Wanting”. The band are influenced by a wide range of bands from Slipknot and Led Zeppelin to Bowling For Soup, Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails. Despite the varied influences, Weak Of Wanting certainly have achieved their own unique sound. The vocals themselves bring a lot to the unique sound that the band has worked hard at creating. The guitars have a very raw sound to them, which perfectly demonstrated on their songs “Bruised” and “North of Misery”. A lot of their songs are very laid-back sounding, aside from “North of Misery” which sounds like an old-skool punk anthem crossed with a Darkthrone due to the aggressiveness of the vocals and the raw guitar riff. The sound quality of their tracks isn’t brilliant but that adds to the immensity of Weak of Wanting’s music.

Weak of Wanting are clearly a very talented band with a lot in store for them. With enough hard work and dedication, combined with their raw guitar riffs, laid back acoustic sections and unique sounding vocals, they could easily become as big as Slipknot, Nine Inch Nails or Bowling For Soup. So, keep an eye out for them on Kerrang and Scuzz.

Power Quest – Blood Alliance [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 25th February 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Power Quest
Album: Blood Alliance
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Power Metal

 

“Blood Alliance” is the fifth and upcoming album by British power metal sextet “Power Quest”. The album features a whole new line-up.

The first track “Battle Stations” proves to be the beginning of a promising album with it’s drums and guitars intro which lead into a brilliant guitar solo. Despite being a two minute long instrumental, it is a very good track. The second track “Rising Anew” begins with a melodic guitar intro which is soon accompanied by some well-played drums. The keyboards fit themselves perfectly in as well. The vocals however don’t seem to sound powerful enough for this kind of music.

“Glorious” comes next. It begins with a very old-skool punk-ish sounding riff. The vocals soon kick in after and the riff turns dull. The track lacks energy during the vocal parts. Even the drums sound bleak alongside the vocals. The only really exciting part of the track is the guitar solo. “Sacrifice” is next and it begins with an old skool metal sounding riff which is soon accompanied the drums, the second guitar and keyboards. The riff retains some of it’s energy during in the vocal sections and this track is a slight improvement from the previous track. Like the previous track, the only exciting part of the track is the guitar solo.

After is “Survive” which begins with a wonderful mix of guitar, drums and keyboards, though this exciting combination is soon ruined by the vocals.  The guitar riffs on this track aren’t exactly well composed and they sound repetitive of the previous two tracks. The guitar solo sounds repetitive and dull as well. “Better Days” comes after and it begins with a slow synth-styled intro, something reminiscent of “Journey”, especially when the guitars kick in. The vocals sound more old skool on this track as well, which is an improvement compared to the other tracks. “Crunching the Numbers” begins with a fast-paced synth intro, mixed with some shredding guitars. The guitar riff sounds similar to a Dragonforce track, though this soon changes when the vocals some in.

“Only In My Dreams” and the title track “Blood Alliance”, like the previous tracks begin with synth intros before the guitars kick in. Both are dull and uninteresting tracks. The final track “City of Lies” begins with a guitar intro which is a welcome change, however, the track does revert back to synths dominating the music when the vocals come in. The guitar solo seems to be the only good part of this track. The rest of the track is just bleak.

“Blood Alliance” is a disappointing album. If the vocals had more power and less of a droning effect and if there was less use of synths, then this would be a much more enjoyable album. But if you enjoy synths and keyboards dominating metal, then this album will be right up your street. “Power Quest” are going to have to try a lot harder to release an album better than this mediocre production.

2.5/5

Nico Davidson

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