Archive for April, 2011

Ravenage – Hardrada’s Fall EP [2008]

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

Band: Ravenage
Album: Hardrada’s Fall
Release year: 2010
Genre: Viking Metal/Folk Metal/Yorkshire Metal

Since making their debut on the UK metal scene, Ravenage have been carving themselves an epic saga of Viking Metal. The latest chapter in their saga is their debut EP “Hardrada’s Fall”, entirely based around Harald Hardrada’s ill-fated invasion of England.

The opening track is “Northern Scheme”, an entire orchestral track which sets a most epic atmosphere before the brutal onslaught begins. “Northern Scheme” is the type of track you’d expect to hear on the soundtrack of a film like “Gladiator”. The second track is “Viking Dream” which begins with a rousing death metal styled war cry combined with a brutal guitar intro and an epic keyboard section. The drums increase the heaviness of the track, while the vocals keep it brutal. The keyboard and guitar sections have a brilliant epic sound to them and the guitar solo just perfects this track.

“Three Hundred Ships, Ten Thousand Men” begins with an excellent combination of drums, choirs and the sound of the tides. The introduction of guitars and vocals on the track elevates the sheer brilliance of the composition and sound. While the bass section near the middle of the track is unexpected, it brings a small amount of excitement upon the ears before the track turns brutal. The keyboard sections keep the melody within the track, whilst adding that extraa hint of epic. The conversation between the character of Hardrada and one of his men towards the end of the track keeps the track interesting while keeping true to the sound and concept of the EP. The track finishes with a piece of poetry speaking of the battle between the Saxons and Vikings at Stamford Bridge.

The title track “Hardrada’s Fall” is next. It begins with an epic keyboard intro, combined with the character of Hardrada speaking of his death and his ancestors awaiting for him in the corpse hall. The track soon turns heavy and brutal. There is a use of clean vocals, which adds a very folk metal element to the track. The drums and guitars work well with the melodic keyboard sections. The guitr solo is one of the highlights of this track.

“Ravenser” begins with the sound of birds singing, combined with a fast-paced keyboard intro which turns out to be the calm before the storm on this track. The track soon turns heavy, with the guitars and drums working with the keyboard sections. With the introduction of the vocals, the track takes more of a melancholy sound but this doesn’t stop it from been a great track. There is more use of clean vocals on this track as well, which gives it that epic folk metal feel. The chorus of this track is very hypnotic, especially when the aggresive vocals perform it. “Ravenser” is certainly the best track of the EP. “The Pyre” is the final track of the EP. Just like the opening track, this is entirely orchestrated. It has some-what of sorrowful sound to it. This track is a brilliant way to end this EP.

“Hardrada’s Fall” is a brilliant combination of metal, historical fact and folklore. Each track breathes new life into the tale of how Hardrada came to England only to meet his ill-fate at Stamford Bridge. The production values of the EP are just amazing and the sound couldn’t get any better. Ravenage have clearly done the tale Hardrada’s fall justice.

5/5

Nico Davidson

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Metieval @ 41 East Coast [Live Review]

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

Eternal Fear – Embraced In Darkness [2010]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Children Of Bodom w/Special Guests @ Manchester Academy [Live Review]

Posted in Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3rd April 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Bands: Children Of Bodom, Amon Amarth, Ensiferum, Machinae Supremacy
Location: Manchester Academy, Manchester
Date: 2nd April 2011

The atmosphere in Manchester Academy was buzzing with excitement. As far as the eye could see there were plastic horned helmets, Mjollnir pendents and band t-shirts with the occasional topless bloke. The first to band to take the stage was alternative metal quintet Machinae Supremacy. They worked their way through a five minute set which consisted of “Truth of Tomorrow”, “Force Feedback” and “Through The Looking Glass”. Despite it being such a short set, the crowd were appreciative enough.  The second band to enter the four way metal foray were Finnish folk metalheads “Ensiferum”. They provided a very energetic performance beginning with “From Afar”. The crowd went wild when they began to play “Into Battle”.  Ensiferum finished off their set with “Iron” and even had the crowd singing the chorus with them.

The third band to play were the main support act Amon Amarth. As they made their way on stage, the crowd went ballistic. Amon Amarth began their set with “War of the Gods” and moved onto “Runes To My Memory”. They also played “The Beast Am I”, “The Destroyer of the Universe” and “Twilight Of The Thunder God” much to the pleasure of their fans. After Amon Amarth left the stage, the crowd began chanting “Bodom, Bodom, Bodom” throughout the interval. When Bodom finally came on stage, cheers echoed throughout the Academy. They began with “Not My Funeral” followed by “Bodom Beach Terror”. Towards the end of their set they performed “Blooddrunk” and “Follow the Reaper”, those these weren’t enough to satisfy the fans who demanded an encore. Bodom happily obliged by performing “Was It Worth It?” and “Hate Crew Deathroll” as the encore.

All four bands put on brilliant performances, though the highlights of the night had to have been the charismatic and energetic performances by Amon Amarth and Children of Bodom. It was also a disappointment that Machinae Supremacy had so little time to perform. Either way, it was a brilliant night for Bodom, Amarth, MS and Ensiferum fans alike.

Nico Davidson

Windrider – A Warriors Tale [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 1st April 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Windrider
Album: A Warriors Tale EP
Release Year: 2010
Genre: Folk Metal/Viking Metal/Yorkshire Metal

“A Warriors Tale” is the latest release from one-man, Hull-based musical extravaganza Windrider. Starting with “The Hall of the Slain”, one is bombarded straight away with the epic sound of keyboards combined with guitars and drums. Straight away the track sounds very Ensiferum influenced. The vocals are top notch. The guitar solo half way through just screams “epic” down the listener’s eardrums.

Straight after, comes the title track “A Warrior’s Tale” featuring some brutal sounding guitar work in its intro with some excellent synth work. The vocals slightly more brutal than on the previous track. The drums have a very technical meets “in your face” kind of sound, which works well with the keyboard and guitar.

The next track is “Across The Sea” and the track title itself gives the images of Nordic warriors braving the seas in quest of women and fame. The track begins with a solemn sounding keyboard melody alongside a guitar riff. The track turns heavier once the vocals are introduced and the use of clean vocals adds to the folkish feel of the EP. This is definitely the best track on the EP.

“Slaughter from the Shadows” is the final track. It begins with a vocal & keyboard intro, which goes on for a good minute or so before the tempo increases and the vocals turn more aggressive. The use of guitars throughout the track works reasonably well with the rest of the instruments and the vocals.

The EP is well produced and composed. It is another part of the legacy in the making known as Windrider and is one of the most epic pieces of musicianship that your ears will ever have the privilege of hearing. Windrider for number one? Hell yeah!

5/5

Nico Davidson