Archive for March, 2011

DEMONAZ – March of the Norse [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 31st March 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: DEMONAZ
Album: March of the Norse
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Black Metal

DEMONAZ is the solo project of former Immortal guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta. The debut album is “March of the Norse”, which is due or release 1st April.

“Northern Hymn” is the first track of the album, composed of acoustic guitar riffs and a haunting choir, setting a very tense atmosphere. “All Blackened Sky” comes blasting next, starting with a heavy and brutal guitar riff which is combined with heavy pounding drums. The vocals have a very rough Dimmu Borgir sound to them. The riffs throughout the track repeat themselves, which adds a certain simplistic brilliance to the track. The guitar riffs also have a slightly melodic touch to them. The guitar solo isn’t great but it’s not exactly bad. The title track “March of the Norse” is next. It’s intro riff has a Trivium-gone-black metal sound. The vocals don’t sound powerful on this track, with them being almost over-powered by the guitars and drums. In certain parts of the track, the bass can be heard clearly over the sound of distorted guitars.

The next track is “A Son of the Sword”. Beginning with a brutal intro, which is soon accompanied by a melodic riff, this track all ready sounds to be one of the best tracks on the album. The vocals sound much, much stronger – Matching the guitars and drums for brutality and power. The guitar solo is good, near to perfection. The track ends on a faded out yet brutal note. “Where Gods Once Rode” bursts in next, with a melodic intro which could easily be mistaken for a power metal riff. The vocals are still going strong and the guitar riffs seem to have taken on a more melodic sound for this track. The bass can be heard clearly in sections but the drums seem to be lacking in power and heaviness. There is a use of haunting choir-like vocals when the track turns softer, giving the track a more melancholy sound.

“Under Great Fires” starts with a brutal mix of guitars, drums and vocals.  The track turns melodic for a while before turning soft, though the vocals still stay brutal. The heaviness returns to the track eventually, though the guitars and drums begin to overpower the vocals. The guitar solo is sheer brilliance. After the solo, the vocals come back stronger than before. Disappointingly, the track finishes with an acoustic guitar section. The next track is “Over The Mountains” which enters the fray with a heavy intro riff. The vocals sound too strong for the guitars to compete with in terms of heaviness and brutality. There is a mixture o melodic and brutal riffs throughout the track, giving it a brilliant sound. The track finishes on a faded, melodic note. “Ode To Battle” comes next, composed entirely of choir-like vocals and acoustic guitars – Though the acoustic guitar sounds stronger than the vocals.

“Legends Of Fire And Ice” comes next, bringing a level of brutality and heaviness back to the album with a guitar and drum intro. The vocals sound somewhat raspier than what they have been on the previous tracks. There’s a use of choir-like vocals alongside the main vocals, which adds a very epic element to the track and the guitar solo is mind blowing. This track is clearly the best track on the album. The album finishes on the extra track: “Dying Sun” which begins with a slow yet brutal guitar intro. In sections, the drums leave much to be desired, though the guitars keep things interesting. With each development during in the track, it seems like the vocals will jump in at any moment but unfortunately they don’t.

“March Of The Norse” is undoubtedly one of the best albums that is going to come out of the Norwegian Black Metal for along time. There are parts which have room for improvement but Demonaz clearly hasn’t lost his ability to write black metal anthems. It is, however, strange hearing him perform vocals rather than guitar – Though with this album he could give a lot of vocalists in the black metal scene a run for their money.

4/5

Nico Davidson

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Symfonia – In Paradisum [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 29th March 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Symfonia
Album: In Paradisum
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Power Metal

Symfonia is a power metal super group formed by Andra Matos (ex-Viper, ex-Angra, ex-Shaaman), Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius, ex-Revolution Renaissance), Jari Kainulainen (ex-Stratovarius, ex-Evergrey), Mikko Härkin (Cain’s Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica, ex-Kotipelto, ex-Solution .45) and Uli Kusch (ex-Holy Moses, ex-Helloween, ex-Gamma Ray, ex-Masterplan). Their debut release “In Paradisum” was released 25th March 2011. Its title, translated into English, means “Into Paradise”.

The first track of the album is “Fields of Avalon” which begins with a rough, thrash-sounding intro. The drums soon accompany the riff, followed by the vocals. In the chorus, the vocals sound strained, almost struggling to sound powerful. The use of keyboards is little, but when used, works fairly well in between guitar riffs. The guitar solo sounds somewhat incomplete and choppy in parts. “Fields of Avalon” clearly wasn’t the ideal choice track to begin the album with.

Next is “Come By The Hills”, beginning with a harpsichord intro, which soon begins working alongside the guitars and drums, adding for an epic sound. There is a use of acoustic guitar which brings a certain gentleness to the track. The vocals, to begin with, sound feminine. During in other sections, the vocals sound strained again. The use of keyboards throughout the rest of the track leads of a mediocre sound at best. The guitar solo is an improvement compared to the one on the previous track, as it sounds as if the notes all flow together rather than being randomly put together.

Beginning with a rough sounding intro is the third track “Santiago”, which turns heavier with the introduction of drums to the track. The vocals sound stronger on this track to begin with, though they soon lose their power. There is a little use of keyboards during in the chorus which does little to improve the track. The slow guitar section which leads into a solo about halfway through adds for a welcome change in the track and improves the track slightly as it sounds well composed to begin with but soon turns choppy. “Alayna” is next, beginning with a keyboard-and-acoustic guitar intro. The vocals soon make themselves heard, ruining the track completely. The track keeps a slow pace, even when the electric guitars and drums are introduced. It is the lightest track on the album. When the vocals attempt to go more powerful, the track turns slightly heavier.

“Forevermore” comes next, bringing heaviness back to the album with it’s “System of a Down” styled intro. The track takes a lighter turn sometime after the introduction of drums to the track. The vocals, again, sound strained. The keyboards don’t do much on this track, except add a faint chorus effect and a slight harpsichord which can be barely heard only the strained vocals and pounding drums. The guitar solo is enough to make ears bleed with its lack of decent composition. Following after is “Pilgrim Road” which has a medieval-pirate sounding  guitar and keyboard intro, which is soon replaced by strained vocals and synths. The guitars and drums soon make a re-appareance, followed by a harpsichord effect. The chorus is as bad as a Justin Bieber tracker. The guitar solo is choppy and lacks energy.

The title track “In Paradisum” is next. It’s intro is composed of harmonic choir-like vocals, guitars, drums and orchestration, making for a brilliant introduction to a track. The vocals sound more strained than they have been on the previous tracks, working not so well with the acoustic guitars. The choir-like vocals make a reappearance when the track turns heavy again. There is also a use of female sounding choir-like vocals, adding a certain Gothicism to the track.  The guitar solo is probably the worse part of the track, whilst the drums sound as if they’ve been half-heartedly played. There is some narration by children, speaking of depressing subjects. The major problem with this track though is the fact that it’s over nine minutes long and one can only endure the sound of strained vocals for so long.

“Rhapsody of Black” is next, starting with a hard rock styled intro riff combined with pounding drums. The track turns lighter with the introduction of the vocals, which sound weak but less strained. When the track turns heavy, the vocals begin to sound strained again. The solo is poorly composed, with areas that need vast improvement. The overall track seems to lack energy and decent musicianship. Next is “I Walk In Neon”, with a harpsichord intro alongside a slight use of drums, just before the guitars and bass make themselves heard. The track turns light, with just the use of vocals, synths, drums and acoustic guitar. The vocals seem to keep switching between weak, strained and out of key.  The guitar solo sounds above average for the most part, but still needs some work. The track finishes soon after. The last track is “Don’t Let Me Go”, which begins with a cello and acoustic guitar intro, soon accompanied by the vocals, which sound slightly stronger. There is a little use of drums, though they can be barely heard due to the effects used on them. Oddly enough, this is probably the best track on the album, as the vocals sound half-decent.

For a debut album by musicians who all have experience in the metal scene, this is a poor excuse for a release. The vocals at best are weak and strained, whilst the instrumentation is fairly decent on half of the tracks. The guitar solos need a lot of work. The sound quality and production of the album is absolutely brilliant though. Perhaps Symfonia’s next release will have better composition and vocals.

2/5

Nico Davidson

Ziyos – Master of Sin EP [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 21st March 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Ziyos
Album: Master Of Sin
Release Year: 2010
Genre: Metal

 

“Master Of Sin EP” is the debut release by British metalheads “Ziyos”. It was released in October 2010 via Emania Productions.

The first track of the EP is the title track “Master Of Sin”, which begins with a choppy guitar intro which leads into a more thrash sounding guitar riff. The vocals sound like a mixture of Dave Mustaine and Alice Cooper. The drums well played and bang on the beat. The bass fits in well with the rest of the track as well. The guitar solo has a very thrash metal sound to it, sort of like an old skool Metallica-meets-Megadeth sound. The guitar riffs throughout the track are just brilliant. The next track, “Blood Of The Aggressor”, starts with a bass intro which is soon accompanied by a pretty good guitar riff. The track soon turns heavy, which some lovely melodic parts as well. The vocals, again, have a very Alice Cooper/Dave Mustaine sound. Even the lyrics have a slight Megadeth element to them. “Blood Of The Aggressor” is clearly the best track on the EP and has the potential to be a mosh pit anthem!

“Ascension” is next. Beginning with a partially brutal guitar intro, which leads into a more intense, heavier riff. The use of double bass pedals are astounding as well. The vocals sound more like Mustaine on this track. The drums sound heavy and bang on the beat. There is a soft section during in the track, which just adds a whole new level of sheer immenseness to the track, especially as an amazing guitar solo follows straight after it. The last track “No Honour For The Fallen” comes next. It begins with the sound of planes flying overhead, alongside air raid sirens and gun fire. The guitars soon take over afterwards, setting the mood with a solemn guitar riff mixed with the tapping of symbols. The vocals are soft, which fits in so well with the soft guitar riff. The track soon turns heavy, with a high-pitched melodic guitar section.  The guitar solo is simply mind blowing. Afterwards, the track turns soft again, working it’s way to turn heavy again. The track finishes in a damn epic way as well.

“Master Of Sin EP” is perhaps one of the most impressive releases in the British metal scene since the days of the NWOBHM. It has everything a metal release should have: Solos, amazing riffs, great vocals and heavy drums. Ziyos have proven themselves to have the potential to become a household name in the British metal scene.

4.5/5

Emerald Sun – Regeneration [2011]

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

Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising [2011]

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

Band: Amon Amarth
Album: Surtur Rising
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Death Metal

“Surtur Rising” is the eighth studio album Swedish melodic death metal quintet “Amon Amarth”. It is due for release on 29th March 2011 through Metal Blade Records.

The album begins with “War of the Gods”. The track begins with a distorted yet melodic guitar riff which is soon accompanied by a beasty scream and a brutal drum assault.  The vocals are as brutal as they should be, working very well with the distorted guitar riffs. The tempo and riffs keep switching throughout the track, making it a brilliant beginning to an album. The lyrics, which speak of the battle between the tribes of Norse gods, are well composed. The guitar solo is simply amazing, perhaps one of the best ones to be heard on an “Amon Amarth” album. The track ends on a very brutal note.

“Tock’s Taunt – Loke’s Treachery Part II” is next. It begins with a melodic riff, which is much lighter than the riffs from the previous track. The vocals are still brutal but don’t seem to work well with the lighter riff. Even the drums seem to have lost their brutality. The can be heard clearly as well. The riff changes and gets a tad heavier as the vocals go more brutal, but still failing to work well with one another. Even the guitar solo fails to impress on this track. “Destroyer of the Universe” follows next and it is far heavier than the previous track. The guitars, drums and vocals are all as brutal as each other, the vocals certainly sound more powerful. The use of a shredding guitar section near towards the middle of the track is brilliant. The guitar solo is a huge improvement from the previous track as well.

Next is “Slaves of Fear” which begins with a semi-heavy intro riff mixed with some light drums. The track does turn heavier though, with increased brutality from the drums. The vocals still sound powerful, which is always a good thing. The riffs played on this track are astounding. Just over half way through the track turns extremely light for a few seconds before a funky guitar riff kicks in to bring back the brutality. The guitar solo pretty much completes this track. The next track is “Live Without Regrets” which begins with a heavy and brutal guitar-drum intro which soon turns slightly melodic. The vocals work really well with the guitars and drums, giving the track that extra dash of Swedish-styled brutality. The track turns light near the end with the low guttural screams of “When we die!” echoing throughout.

“The Last Stand Of Frej” is next. It begins with a slow yet brutally heavy and melodic guitar intro. The vocals bring in another level of brutality to the track, working welll with the slow paced tempo of the guitar and drums. The vocals sound extremely aggressive in some sections of the track as well. The pace of the drum increases slightly whilst the guitars stay at the pace they began with. Even the guitar solo is slow, but that somehow adds to the sheer awesomeness of the track. “For Victory Or Death” comes straight after, beginning with a fast paced and brutal intro. There is a use of clean guitar shortly after the intro and just before the vocals kick in. The vocals don’t seem to work too well with the melodic riff. The drums are well played and heavy compared to the melodic guitar riffs.

Next is “Wrath of the Norsemen”. It begins with a faded guitar intro which gets louder and louder.  The guitars sound heavier compared to the guitars in the previous track and the vocals are just as strong. The guitar solo fits in really well with the rest of the track as well. “A Beast Am I” comes next, beginning with a melodic and semi-brutal intro. When the vocals come in the brutality increases in a slight bit. In parts, the vocals sound as if they’re having a hard time keeping up with the fast tempo of the guitars. The drums sound as good as ever and they pretty much complete the section for the guitar solo. The track seems to end on a fast but brutal note but carries on into a slow acoustic riff which is accompanied by a slow, overdriven guitar riff.

“Doom Over Dead Man” is the final track. It begins heavier than how the last track ended, featuring a bit of orchestration in the intro riff as well. The drums seem light compared to the previous tracks. The drums don’t improve in heaviness throughout most of the track. The vocals are still strong. About halfway through the track, everything turns heavier, including the drums. The track turns light in terms of the drums again for a short while but that soon changes towards the end of the track. The track ends with a faded out guitar-and-drum section.

“Surtur Rising” has both its good qualities and its bad qualities. However, despite the bad qualities, it is a great album. The production values are fantastic and the vast majority of the album is well composed.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Erutan – Raindancer [2011]

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