Archive for Within Temptation

Interview with Martijn Westerholt [Delain]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , on 25th April 2014 by Nico Davidson

Valkyrian Music editor Nico Davidson catches up with Delain’s founding member and main man Martijn Westerholt in Manchester before the band’s first UK show of 2014 with Within Temptation.

Special thanks to April Mccaffrey for filming the interview.

Delain online:

http://delain.nl
http://facebook.com/delainmusic

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Delain – The Human Contridiction

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , on 3rd April 2014 by Nico Davidson

Delain
The Human Contradiction
Released 7th April 2014
Symphonic Metal
Released via Napalm Records

Delain have become one of the most recognised names in symphonic metal following the release of We Are The Others back in 2012, which was also the last album the band released through Roadrunner Records before jumping ship to Napalm. With their UK tour supporting Within Temptation just around the corner, it makes sense to release the album in the run up to the tour.

Here Come the Vultures creeps in at the beginning of the album with Charlotte’s strong and emotive voice accompanied by Martijn’s eerie style of keyboard playing. The heavier sections of the song blast in unexpectedly, taking Delain down the dark and cumbersome sound of their pre-We Are The Others repertoire. Your Body Is A Battleground rings out with its catchy vocal melodies and memorable lyrics, underlined by a fistful of unrelenting riffs and keyboard strikes. The vocal duet between Charlotte and Marco (Nightwish/Tarot) add a very empathic characteristic to the track, bringing life to the dramatic lyrics.

Stardust follows up with a calmer combination of keyboard ballets and soaring vocals, that dance perfectly together in the sea of sharp, driving metal elements from the guitars and rhythm sections which makes it a prominent track on the album. My Masquerade soars like a raven in the night sky, bringing about a sound reminiscent of Theatres Des Vampires due to the way the song is portrayed throughout the instrumentation. The halfway point of the album, Tell Me, Mechanist, fuses the modern Gothic elements and fierce pounding stylistic characters of Delain’s music into poignant track full of plenty of clean vocals and bestial growls. The gentle swaying keyboards really stand out on this track, adding a truly unique flavour to the song.

Sing To Me really displays the emotional depth of Charlotte’s voice as well as the vigorous sound of the band’s music, keeping the harrowing sound blazing like a bonfire during a cold November dusk. Marco makes an appearance on this track as well, adding to the depth of Charlotte’s enchanting vocals. Army Of Dolls echoes with the sounds of the Lucidity and April Rain albums while bringing Delain’s newer sound into the fray as well, demonstrating how much the band’s sound has evolved since its formation. There are new aspects thrown into this song as well that will drag the listener out of their comfort zone and into a strange new land of ethereal keys and soulful guitar passages.

Lullaby is another song that will drag the listener from their comfort zone but rather than leaving them in a new land, it will take them by the hand for a stroll down through a haunting forest of tainted riffs and shaded lyrics as well Plutonian symphonies. The atmosphere created by this track is like that found within Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. The Human Contradiction comes to a passionate and unrestrained close with The Tragedy Of The Commons which flows smoothly like a river, allowing tides of symphonic passages and riffs wash over the listener. Alissa White-Gluz’s hungry, demonic growls are a suprise on during the song, blending well with the atmospheric choir vocals and the twilit sound of the track.

Delain have become such a recognised name in symphonic metal for a long list of reasons and The Human Contradiction can be added to the list of reasons as it could easily rival the likes of Leaves’ Eyes recent album as well as Within Temptation’s discography. If anything, The Human Contradiction could be the best symphonic metal release of the decade as well as one of the greatest albums to be released through Napalm Records.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Delain online:

http://delain.nl
http://facebook.com/delainmusic

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Delain premiere lyric video for Your Body Is A Battleground

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 7th March 2014 by Nico Davidson

Yesterday saw the unveiling of Dutch symphonic metal band Delain’s lyric video for their new single Your Body Is A Battleground, which is taken from their upcoming fourth studio album The Human Contradiction. The video can be viewed below.

The Human Contradiction will be release 7th April via Napalm Records, ahead of the band’s UK tour with fellow Dutch metallers Within Temptation. Tour dates are as follow:

11th         MANCHESTER – Apollo
12th         LONDON – Wembley Arena
14th         NEWCASTLE – Academy
15th         GLASGOW – Academy
16th         BIRMINGHAM – Academy

Delain online:

http://delain.nl
http://facebook.com/delainmusic

 

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Ex Libris – Medea

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 13th January 2014 by Nico Davidson

Ex Libris
Medea
Released 18th January 2014
Progressive Metal/Symphonic Metal
Self-Released

Holland has become a country known for its female-fronted talent, such as Within Temptation, ReVamp, Epica and Delain, so it won’t come as a surprise to many when I say that’s the country that progressive powerhouse Ex Libris hail from. Having played as support to a few of the above mentioned bands, Ex Libris, who are fronted by the talented Dianne van Giersbergen, are slowly building a reputation for themselves on the international metal scene for their unique and bombastic sound sound. Whilst Medea is their second album, the band have achieved a lot more than most bands have.

Named after the Medea of Greek mythology, the album is kick started by the title track, Medea, which is a raging storm composed of swaying guitar passages and crashing waves of percussion, lined with vocals sharp enough the cut Mount Olympus in two. The lashings of orchestration help add to the tragic and dramatic character of the song. Sailing from the seas of the tragic Medea into the fearsome ocean that is Murderess In Me, the album’s atmosphere morphs into something more sinister, allowing for the music to become more cut-throat whilst retaining its classical and mythic vibe. The riffs have a sharper edge than the previous track, allowing for Dianne’s vocals to glide swiftly over the ocean of the music without hindrance.

On The Ocean’s Command begins with the soothing sound of the sea and the creaking wood abroad a ship as the climatic use of guitars, courtesy of Paul, make themselves heard before the vivid keyboards, as supplied by Koen, make their striking entrance. The song builds itself up into a tense masterpiece, tightly knitting each element of the song together. Dianne’s vocal work is particularly impressive during this track, changing like the winds, expectedly and unexpectedly. The following song, My Dream I Dream, focuses more on the emotion than the dramatics, allowing for a vast river of feeling to flow through each aspect of the track. Peter’s basswork sound more profound, making itself known from beginning to end, especially in sudden thrilling and heavy portion of the track, colliding smoothly with Eeclo’s clear-cut and strict drumming.

Song Of Discord marches in like a column of hoplites on their way to war. There is a powerful and harrowing atmosphere conjured up throughout the song, giving the music more punch than would be expected. The vocal duet of Dianne van Giersbergen and Damien Wilson opened up new possibilities for this song, not just vocally but throughout its performance in which the two vocalists play the parts of Medea and her husband, the hero Jason. It will be interesting to see how Ex Libris can pull this one off live. A Mother’s Lament begins straight away with a hook, grabbing attention from every angle and refusing to let go. The guitars and rhythm sections hammer away, fortifying the song whilst the vocals and keyboards add the glitz and the glam to the song, keeping it from becoming a dull affair.

Daughter Of Corinth sees another drastic change in the pace and sound of Medea, turning into a fearsome hydra of progressive riffs, eerie vocals and hypnotic drum passages while other aspects of the song are more shadowy, keeping withdrawn like a Gorgon hunting their victim. A Tale Told makes use of other elements but remains true to Ex Libris’ overall sound as well before the album moves onto the ten minute and fifty second long epic From Birth To Bloodshed which like some of the previous tracks paves way for a drastic change in the album. The riffs during this track are callous, leaving no room for mercy whilst the vocals are at their pinnacle, adding emphasis to the rest of the song. The instrumentation throughout the song take sup the spirit of the ocean, changing from the violent crashing of waves to gentler sailing.

Ex Libris have a knack for writing good music and Medea takes you down more twists and turns than the Labyrinth, keeping focus on the music as new life is breathed into Medea’s impressively tragic story by one talented band.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Ex Libris online:

http://exlibrismusic.com
http://facebook.com/exlibrismusic

 

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Within Temptation unveil title of sixth studio album

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 8th November 2013 by Nico Davidson

Dutch symphonic rockers Within Temptation have revealed that their sixth studio album will be released on 31st January 2014 and shall be titled Hydra. For those who are unfamiliar with Greek mythology, Hydra is the name of a nine-headed monster that apparently could not be killed. Guitarist Robert comments on the album title:

It’s like us. What’s more, Hydra is a perfect title for our new album, because like the monster itself, the record represents the many different sides of our music.

Within Temptation collaborated with several special guests on Hydra: Tarja Turunen, Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum and metalcore hero Howard Jones, formerly of Killswitch Engage as well as US hip-hop icon Xzibit. Robert also comments:

Xzibit is amazing. And We Run song is about how you’ve got to live your life now. He’s rapping at full force on this song, it’s really heavy.

Sharon adds:

Xzibit brings a new element to our music that we’ve never had before! It’s a new cross-over and we love it!

As for the near-legendary Tarja, Sharon recalls:

The way she delivers those high melody lines left us all speechless. We had a great time, and the fans responded beyond our expectations.

One of the album’s heaviest tracks, Dangerous was recorded with the former Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones, whose epic vocals are a perfect fit for Sharon’s. Frontwoman Sharon comments about Howard:

I always loved Howard’s voice. He makes the song even heavier than it already is. That song is one of my favorite songs on the record and one of the fastest we’ve ever written. It has the most bass drums we’ve ever used, too, and a very fast riff which we doubled with synths. It’s not a typical synthesizer, though – it’s distorted like a guitar, and it’s very aggressive.

Hydra goes from strength to strength with Whole World Is Watching, featuring Soul Asylum’s singer Dave Pirner.

Right now, Hydra can be pre-ordered in two luxury formats: the Digital premium version and a Deluxe Box Set including extra Hydra products.

The digital premium album, complete with digi-booklet, will be available on iTunes and includes 18 audio tracks and a music video. The digital premium album features bonus Evolution Versions of four new songs, which contain audio commentary from Robert and Sharon and give you unique access to the development of the songs, their lyrical inspiration and the sound of the initial demos and vocals.

Tracklist:

1. Let Us Burn
2. Dangerous feat. Howard Jones
3. And We Run feat. Xzibit
4. Paradise (What About Us?) feat. Tarja
5. Edge Of The World
6. Silver Moonlight
7. Covered By Roses
8. Dog Days
9. Tell Me Why
10. Whole World Is Watching feat. Dave Pirner
11. Radioactive (originally performed by Imagine Dragons)
12. Summertime Sadness (originally performed by Lana del Ray)
13. Let Her Go (originally performed by Passenger)
14. Dirty Dancer (originally performed by Enrique Iglesias)
15. And We Run- evolution track
16. Silver Moonlight – evolution track
17. Covered By Roses – evolution track
18. Tell Me Why – evolution track
19. Paradise (What About Us?) feat. Tarja – Music Video (exclusive to iTunes premium version)

Pre-order the digital premium version of Hydra here.

Digital pre-orders in North-America will start soon.

Within Temptation online:

http://within-temptation.com
http://facebook.com/wtofficial

Delain’s tour with Within Temptation postponed until April 2014

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 18th September 2013 by Nico Davidson

In a recent post on their website, Within Temptation stated that their tour with Delain is to be postponed until April 2014. Delain keyboardist Martijn Wesserholt comments:

As many of you know we’re joining Within Temptation on their European tour early 2014. Today, Within Temptation announced that their tour will be postponed. You  can read all about it here:

http://www.within-temptation.com/headlines/within-temptation-paradise-what-about-us-featuring-read-more/

Delain will of course still be joining so we’re looking forward to seeing you in April 2014 instead!

New tour dates are as follow:

06.04.14 DE – München / Tonhalle
07.04.14 DE – Hamburg / Sporthalle
08.04.14 DE – Köln / Palladium
09.04.14 DE – Ludwigsburg / Arena
11.04.14 UK – Manchester / Apollo
12.04.14 UK – London / Wembley Arena
14.04.14 UK – Newcastle / Academy
15.04.14 UK – Glasgow / Academy
16.04.14 UK – Birmingham / Academy
18.04.14 DE – Frankfurt / Jahrhunderthalle
19.04.14 DE – Erfurt / Thüringenhalle
20.04.14 DE – Berlin / Columbiahalle
22.04.14 FR – Toulouse / Bikini
24.04.14 FR – Lyon / Radiant
25.04.14 FR – Paris / Zenith
27.04.14 FR – Nantes / Zenith
28.04.14 FR – Lille / L’Aéronef
29.04.14 BE – Antwerp / Lotto Arena
02.05.14 NL – Amsterdam / Heineken Music Hall

Delain online:

http://facebook.com/delainmusic

 

Delain announce release date for new video for Are You Done With Me?

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

Dutch symphonic rockers Delain have announced the release date for the video for their latest single Are You Done With Me? The video will be release tomorrow (20th June).

Delain online:

http://www.delain.nl
http://www.facebook.com/delainmusic

 

Interview with Martijn Westerholt [Delain]

Posted in Featured, Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 17th May 2013 by Nico Davidson

Delain recently headlined the Dames of Darkness Festival in Bilston, near Wolverhampton and Nico was able to grab hold of the band’s founding member, main songwriter and keyboardist, Martijn, for a chat about all things Delain, the band’s recent move to Napalm Records and other things.

Nico: Hi Martijn, it’s nice to finally meet you. How are you doing?

Martijn: I’m fine, I’m great thanks.

N: Good to hear. Our first question actually comes from a fan: which albums have inspired you to become a musician?

M: That’s a good one..Well I don’t know if albums triggered me to become a musician, but my first albums I bought were We Can’t Dance, by Genesis, an album from The Police I think. And slowly the music became a little bit harder and noisier. So it just evolved like that.

N: In your opinion, what are the best and worst parts about being in a band?

M: The best parts are that you meet a lot of people from a lot of cultures. You come in a lot of places. It’s not like people think, that you do a lot of sightseeing, because most of the time you don’t have time for that. But in general of course you do see a lot of places and that’s very nice. Perhaps the best thing about being a musician is that if you write music, it ends up on your album and you see an album being born. That’s terrific, that’s magic. And that’s one of the best parts I think. The worst is that its hard work and you have to be creative with financial means. It’s a lot of pressure. People always have an opinion about you or about your music so you have to deal with that otherwise you shouldn’t be a musician. I think that’s the bad thing.

N: Delain’s most recent two albums, We Are The Others and Interlude have a more accessible sound than the previous two albums. Do you think this is the sort of sound Delain is going to be going for in the future?

M: To be very honest, it’s not that we do something like that deliberately; like ‘okay let’s make a softer album now’. For example with Interlude we had a lot of material which we didn’t use yet and we had a lot of requests from fans asking for releasing a DVD, releasing special material and that’s what we did. Coincidence had it that this was more of the softer material. And with our last full album We Are The Others, we just went with the flow and it can be open to use grunts again in the next album for example. I just don’t know, it’s about what comes out of your mind and then we go with the flow and see what happens.

N: Earlier this year Delain signed to Napalm Records. What were the reasons behind moving from Roadrunner Records to Napalm?

M: Well, Roadrunner was bought by Warner, like the big label who people also know from movies for example. Their music department is Warner Music and they bought Roadrunner. They fired a lot of people and I actually saw this label going down, which was a shame. They originated in Holland actually, they were a really big label, a really good label. But when we released We Are The Others there was a transition going on and for us it was really, really bad. It were really hard times and fortunately at a certain point we were free to go. And then we talked to a lot of other labels and we ended up with Napalm because Napalm thought the same about what direction we wanted to go. It was the best deal and I think this label fits us really well. We are also as of yet still very satisfied to work with them and from what I understand also the other way around. So it’s good that we changed.

N: Recently you [Delain] released Interlude and just last year you released We are the Others. Have Delain started writing any new material for the next album?

M: Absolutely, we’re very busy with that right now because we would like to release a new album beginning 2014. Then we’re going to play with Within Temptation. It would be very nice if we can release around that time. On the other hand you can never control a creative process. You can stimulate and guide it to a specific direction and the more time you have to write the faster it will go of course. But it’s going to be a challenge to get it done but we’re working on it. So we’re writing new material as we speak.

N: Will there be any main concepts within the new material, like with We Are The Others it was celebrating being different and not being part of what society classifies as the norm.

M: In general we do aim to have a general theme in an album, but we’re not there yet. So for now I don’t know, I just don’t know.

N: Obviously big things have been happening for Delain this year: signing to Napalm Records and being announced being to tour with Within Temptation early next year. What does it feel like to suddenly have a huge buzz around you since the release of We Are The Others?

M: That’s of course very good, it’s always good for a band to have a big buzz going on. Actually, last year was very difficult for us when we were still at Roadrunner. I even thought about quitting completely because what we wanted with that album didn’t happen. People who we worked with for a very long time were going and now it’s completely turned around, flipped over to a very positive vibe and it can go very fast. I’m very happy about that and it supports the band members as well of course, having this buzz going on. I’m really happy with that.

N: When it comes to writing new material, where do you draw your inspiration from?

M: It can be a lot of things. It can be a song I heard, a movie I’ve seen. Most of the time it’s just feeling like writing and then things come out. There’s not really a concrete thing which makes me write. It’s just a general urge to make some music. Most of the time we’re together: me, Charlotte and our current writer Guus. We work together on it and it just happens.

N: Which band, excluding your own band Delain, would you say is your favourite on the symphonic metal scene at the moment?

M: That’s a good one! I’ve always been a fan of Nightwish. I’ve been a fan of the writing of Tuomas, so I would say Nightwish.

N: Are there any other plans for Delain this year besides playing at Dames of Darkness and playing the Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium in October?

M: We’re doing a really special show, it’s actually our last show, in November in Holland. That’s going to be a really special one with special effects, guests etc. And we’re going to do the support tour of Kamelot for the US in September. And then it’s writing and recording new material.

N: Out of the two current tours that you’ve got coming up, which one would you say is the one you are looking forward to the most?

M: That’s a good one..I think our special show is one I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to all of them actually. And I’m looking forward to the tour for the US because I like the country a lot. And I’m looking forward to seeing new places so I look forward to that as well.

N: If you could replace the soundtrack to any film with your own music, which one would it be and why?

M: The soundtrack? That’s a good one…That’s a difficult one…I think We Are The Others would fit a movie very well. So I would take We Are The Others but if I have to choose one movie now… Perhaps a Marvel movie, like The Avengers or something like that, or Iron Man. I would like that very much.

N: Sounds like good choices. Do you have anything you would like to say to our readers before we finish up?

M: I hope that they like our latest release very much. I hope they can enjoy it and I hope to see them soon at a show. That would be nice.

N: Thank you for your time Martijn, have a good show tonight.

M: Thanks a lot!

 

Delain online:

http://www.delain.nl
https://www.facebook.com/delainmusic/
https://twitter.com/delainmusic

 

Delain – Interlude

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 3rd May 2013 by Nico Davidson

Delain
Interlude
Released 6th May 2013
Symphonic Metal
Released via Napalm Records

Delain have fast become one of the most talked about bands on the global symphonic metal scene, with an appearance coming up at Metal Female Voices Festival later this year, and a headline slot at The Dames of Darkness Festival in the UK, as well as the recent signing to Napalm Records and being announced as support on the first leg of Within Temptation’s 2014 world tour. Interlude is the band’s fourth official release, featuring a mixture of new and live material.

The new material on the album shows another change in the band’s sound, whilst still retaining some of the accessible sound that was heard on We Are The Others. Charlotte’s vocals prove to be heavenly yet powerful, piercing through the music like an arrow breaking through flesh. The symphonic passages, conjured by Martjin, are heavier than expected with subtle dashes of tragedy and sorrow here and there. Martjin’s use of the keyboard really shines out on the track Collars And Suits, providing emphasis on the song’s sound and weaving between the guitars and bass, provided by Timo and Otto respectively. The new single mix version of Are You Done With Me blasts out a new level of emotive sounds.

Such A Shame is the track that lacks in strength for the most part, being unsuccessful in being an exciting or memorable track, which is a shame as Sander’s drum workings have quite the flare to them through the song. The acoustic medleys of Cordell make for gentle listening, displaying a new dynamic with Charlotte’s voice. The title track from Delain’s 2012 release, We Are The Others, makes an appearance as a refreshingly entrancing ballad version where the chilling piano work and soulful vocals make quite the team, making for a touching sound.

The live tracks on the album are made up mostly from the band’s 2012 release, with only Invidia take from the April Rain album. The live atmosphere of the songs give them more oomph, for lack of a better word and they really demonstrate the strength of Charlotte’s vocals, as well as the precision that the band execute in their songs.

On the first listen of Interlude, it’s easy to see why Delain have become one of the biggest bands on the symphonic metal scene. With an accessible sound and solid song writing, the band clearly have a bright future ahead of them and if they keep belting out tracks like Collars And Suits and Breathe On Me, Delain will soon be reaching the same heights as Within Temptation and Nightwish.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Delain will be headlining the Dames of Darkness Festival in Bilston, near Wolverhampton, on Saturday 11th May. Delain have also been confirmed to support Within Temptation on the first leg of their world tour. Tour dates can be found here.

Delain online:

http://site.delain.nl
http://www.facebook.com/delainmusic
http://www.myspace.com/delainmusic

 

“Sounds Of Infinity” Album Launch @ Fibbers, York

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , on 17th June 2012 by Nico Davidson

Cryptic Age, Ravenage
Fibers, York
26th May 2012

Having been fans of Cryptic Age since seeing them play the Bloodstock Metal 2 the Masses heat in Selby last year, my friends and I were anticipating the ‘Sounds of Infinity’ launch with excitement. The line-up on the bill did not disappoint. In fact, the evening was so enjoyable that we christened the evening ‘Yorkstock’. Unfortunately, I was not able to see the first or third bands of the evening – due to arriving shortly before Ravenage began their set and human needs for food and alcohol.

Ravenage’s unique blend of medieval-inspired folk metal was catchy and infused the crowd with excitement. Taking to the stage, the band created instant impact with plain medieval tunics. This could be gimmicky for a band who lacked the talent to back it up – however, Ravenage’s members possess talent in spades. They also don’t become too hyperbolic with the image so it adds to the overall effect of their music – rather than detracting – and is fun, rather than cheesy.

When watching Ravenage, their prolific stage experience is clear. They are tighter than medieval churches’ thumbscrews and their stage presence is second to none – even including bands signed to major labels. Their solidity as a unit is driven by the talented drummer ‘Eldgrim’, who engineers the machine steadily forward throughout the set. (More on ‘Eldgrim’ later, in his set as Cryptic Age’s drummer). Bassist ‘Ragnar’ expertly provides the glue that adheres the lead section to the drums. Ragnar does more as a bassist than simply provide root notes, adding a unique dimension to the music.

Guitarists ‘Dagstyrr’ and ‘Einar’ proficiently make their guitars sing, cry, laugh and tell a thousand stories of times long forgotten. Their melodies are catchy, which is necessary for a band that is so close to black metal in genre. It is keyboardist ‘Windrider’ who cements the band’s identifiable sound as so unique. Though rarely used as a lead instrument, the atmosphere generated through well-chosen effects and distinctive harmonies furthers the archaic image of the band. Windrider also skilfully adds deep, growling backing vocals to highlight and counterplay key phrases.

Vocalist ‘Glyn the Heralder’ is a gifted frontman and works the crowd like silly putty, vigorously moving across the stage. Glyn’s powerful, aggressive, growled vocals are melodic and his lyrics are always clear. He adeptly manipulates his voice, both on longer, extended phrases and on faster lyrics that fire, with machine-gun intensity, at the crowd.

Overall, Ravenage were a thoroughly enjoyable experience, like getting out of a bath of mead and wrapping yourself in a blanket of homespun cotton. They certainly left the crowd enthusiastic both for ‘More Beer’ – and for more metal!

The Germans are well known for creating long words that encompass ideas (e.g. schadenfreude). To adapt this phenomenon to English – and to describe Cryptic Age – the best word would be ‘MysteriousepicmelodicfolkCelticdifferentprogressivemetal’.

Adorning the stage were large banners of the album’s cover art, advertising the CD, further adding to the festival atmosphere. Despite somewhat cramping the stage, they definitely looked impressive and professional. There isn’t another band quite like Cryptic Age but their performance on the 26th definitely put them in the league with bands such as Nightwish and Within Temptation.

Drummer Alex Bransden (recovered from his set with Ravenage) was a metronome, ably managing numerous tempo and time signature changes, driving the band’s performance forward. He skilfully shifts between tribal-like drumming, steady, driving beats and faster, almost thrash-like double kick.

The bass guitar is an often overlooked instrument. When bands have only a single guitar (as Cryptic Age does), the bassist’s normal duties double. Tom Keeley provided a solid, driving engine, an almost thrumming, pulsing beat, while still providing some countermelody and harmony. He also seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself, grinning from ear to ear and headbanging his way through the set.

Hallam Smith’s guitar work was spectacular – he pulled double duty both as a rhythm player beneath keyboard solos and as a lead instrument. His rhythm work was solid and driving and he clearly enjoys an intuitive relationship with Keeley. His lead work ranged from intricate and technical to passionate and emotive – while technically an extremely skilled player, Smith is able to express, through six strings, a gauntlet of emotions, adding to the dramatic effect of the music.

As with Ravenage, it is the keyboards (and folky melodies) that really set Cryptic Age apart from other metal bands. Frontwoman and keyboardist Jenny Green utilises well-chosen effects and has skilfully chosen melodies that conjure up a variety of images – from a wind-swept plain to an Irish pub to a fairy realm to a classical concert hall.  Green’s keyboard expertise was clearly prevalent on the 26th – they sounded the same live as they do on the recording. The band makes use of Green’s skills effectively, including long, instrumental sections that still have a lot of variety, holding the audience’s interests.

Of course, Green’s main function is to serve as a vocalist and frontwoman. She has a wonderfully effortless coloratura soprano voice, easily climbing up to top Bs and Cs without sounding like she is straining. The image her voice conjures up is of someone reclining on a cloud – high, relaxed and floating. Her voice easily sits on top of the music, pitch-perfect – and it really is its own instrument, telling its own stories. Fortunately as well, due to clever orchestration (and talent) Green is able to perform both keyboard and vocalist duties to a high standard, so that the one does not detract from the other.

Overall, Cryptic Age’s ‘Sounds of Infinity’ album launch was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, further solidifying their place as a talented, unique band ready to take the world by storm.

“Take me away / let me be free / show me the way / to infinity.” That you did, Cryptic Age. That you certainly did.

Melissa ‘Aonia’ Adams

Delain – We Are The Others

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 6th June 2012 by Nico Davidson

Delain
We Are The Others
Symphonic Metal
Released: June 2012
Released via Roadrunner Records

Delain, founded by former Within Temptation keyboardist Martijn Westerholt and ex-To Elysium frontwoman Charlotte Wessels, have become one the most recognised symphonic metal bands in recent years. The band have toured extensively around the globe and have played high profile festivals such as Wacken Open Air and Sonisphere. Up until recently, Delain were touring in support of their newest release: We Are The Others.

The album starts with eerie, almost Gothic and industrial sounding introduction of Mother Machine, which creates somewhat of a mystifying and enchanting atmosphere as the eerie keyboard section and machine-like sounds progress into the fierce guitar riffs. The drums are almost machine-like while the vocals are sultry but ghostly, a strange combination, to say the least but it works. The melodic parts are unexpected but a welcome addition to the song. Electricity begins with a solemn keyboard intro before the guitars kick in, bringing a heavy but laid back sound to the song. The vocals breathe a lot of life into the song, straying it from becoming dull. The keyboard sections, and the guitar solo, are the parts that stand out the most, however. The title track, We Are The Others, begins with a catchy and memorable hook in the form of a keyboard section. The guitar riffs add a lot of emphasis to the keyboards, bringing that hopeful and uplifting sound and atmosphere to the song. The child-like choir brings a quite spine-chilling effect to the track but it fits in well with the piano medley and Charlotte’s vocals. Milk And Honey strays from the sounds of the previous track, starting with an odd synthesiser section that gradually brings it into something more industrial metal based. Fortunately, the track does contain an essence of Delain’s symphonic metal sound as well.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot, overall, is very symphonic rock orientated, straying away from the band’s usual sound. The differing synth and keyboard medleys add a certain level of emotion, which contrasts with the somewhat bland guitar riffs. The vocals are very poignant, working well with the more emotional sounding synth and keyboard sections. The sober combination of vocals and piano, that makes up the intro of I Want You, masterfully paints a tragic, romantic image of emotion. The keyboard sections ring out a very classical sound and the guitars are heavier and more exciting than the previous track. Where Is The Blood might sound like the title of a cheesy vampire film but the song is far from being cheesy. The track features Fear Factory frontman Burton C. Bell, whose vocals add a very aggressive touch to both the song and the chorus. The track rings out a histrionic and fervid sound that is reflected well in the guitars and keyboards. The chorus is memorable, catchy and has a great hook, though it does feel lyrically limited.

Following after is the atmospheric song Generation Me. The strongest point of the song, without a doubt are the keyboard sections. The vocal work isn’t overly impressive or exciting, with most of the energy and excitement being generated by the symphonic musings of the track. Babylon brings a very sinister aspect to the album, with a very evil sound echoing from the guitar and bass work. The lyrics and vocals paint some very sombre imagery as the song progresses on. Following in a similar vein to the last song, Are you Done With Me has a very cold and dark sound, one that even Charlotte’s vocals fail to bring some amount of warmth to. The vocals sound rather diverse, compared to how they’ve been on the vast majority of the album. The intro for Get The Devil Out Of Me rings in similar veins to that of Nightwish though the guitar and vocal sections that follow are typically that of Delain. The keyboard riffs add a dash of freshness to the song, keeping it from turning completely stale. The album finishes with the more symphonic rock-orientated Not Enough that follows down the same musical routes as the vast majority of the album. The vocals are the only part of the song that have some life to them, as the rest of the track seems very bland and flavourless in comparison.

Judging by what I’ve heard from the first two albums by Delain, I see why they’ve got to the point they’re at and why they’re one of the most successful female fronted acts on the scene, however We Are The Others doesn’t do the band any justice. The album, for the most part, is bland and almost every track sounds like the previous one, save for the odd track like Where Is The BloodMother Machine and Babylon. The album is worth adding to the collection for any hardcore Delain fan but I don’t think the band will win over any new fans with this.

2.5/5

Nico Davidson

Lost Effect – Salvation Of One

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

Band: Lost Effect
Album: Salvation Of One EP
Release year: N/A
Genre: Melodic Metal/Femme Metal/Yorkshire Metal

Hailing from the historic city of York (well, near York), come female fronted melodic metallers Lost Effect. Formed in 2008, the Yorkshire quintet have grown to fame in the North Yorkshire area, supporting acts such as Cryptic Age and Morpheus Rising. Following the departure of former frontwoman Beth Parkinson, Emily Burt joined the band in September. Since then, Lost Effect have gone to record their new upcoming EP “Salvation Of One”.

The first track of the EP is none other than the title track “Salvation Of One”. While Lost Effect have a modern sound, I was surprised to hear a hint of classic metal influences in Steven’s guitar work. The keyboard melodies by Dave work wonders alongside the guitar riffs. The biggest shock I found with this track was the eerie similarities between Emily’s vocals and those of Cristina Scabbia. Dave’s vocal work reinforces the Lacuna Coil-like sound of the vocal sections.

“Whispers” is the longest track of the EP, featuring a very symphonic sounding introduction, similar to that of bands such as Epica and After Forever. The bass work is damn powerful with its strength being reinforced by the hypnotic drum work of Pete. The ‘beauty and the beast’ vocals create a very Gothic sound but the song retains its metal sound. The EP comes to its grand finale with “Martyr”, bringing the thunder back after the softer melodic intro section. Though being a heavier track, there is still a sweet use of melodic riffs that blend well with Emily’s vocals. However, I will admit that I found some of the guitar work towards the end a tad bland.

It’s always nice to see more female fronted metal bands appearing on the metal scene, especially in the UK. Though I don’t think “nice” is the correct word to use for Lost Effect. “Salvation Of One” is one of the best releases to come out of the British metal scene. Though the vocal work is similar to that of Lacuna Coil, Lost effect have done well retain their own unique sound considering how many influences the members have. Epica, Lacuna Coil and maybe Within Temptation fans should definitely give “Salvation Of One” a listen.

4.8/5

Nico Davidson

Don’t forget, Lost Effect are playing the Valkyrian Music Birthday Bash 25th February @ Hollywood & Vine, Hull. Entry is free.

Band Of The Month [November, 2011]: Aonia

Posted in Band Of The Month with tags , , , , , , , , on 1st November 2011 by Nico Davidson

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Following recent revelations involving the voting being rigged, we were forced to randomly select a BOTM for this month [November]. We are pleased to announce that Aonia are this month’s Band of the Month!

In the Greek mythos, “Aonia” is the place where muses dwell near Helicon mountain. Though their name is derived from classical mythology, Aonia’s music is far from being classical. With riffs that roar like the thunder of Olympus and strong operatic vocals provided by their front woman Mel, Aonia have been on the rise for the past few years sharing the stage with the likes of Evil Scarecrow and Scarlet’s Wake.

Unlike most female fronted bands, Aonia lack a heavy emphasis on the symphonic element, helping add to their unique and mythic sound. f you like bands and artists like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Epica, ReVamp, After Forever, Leaves Eyes, Delain or Tarja then check out Aonia.

Aonia will also be playing Valkyrian Festival later this month with Cryptic Age, XIII, Infernal Creation and many more.

Rating: 5/5

Links:

Official website: http://www.aonia.co.uk/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/AoniaUK/
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/aoniaband
youTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/AoniaBand

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

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