Archive for June, 2011

Dry Pilot – Dry Pilot [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 28th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Dry Pilot
Album: Dry Pilot EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Rock

Dry Pilot are a Leeds-based progressive rock band with all three members originating from Brildington, East Yorkshire. Though being a fairly young band, they have risen to acclaim in the Leeds underground music scene. Their self-titled debut EP is the first in what is hopefully a long line of releases.

The EP begins with “The Need For Money”, a song title that a lot of people can relate to. The beginning section is a genius mixture of guitars and impressive drum work. The vocals are strong but not overly powerful, which is fortunate. The riffs become slightly more technical as the song progresses yet staying simplistic at the same time. Already the EP is at a great start which does beg the question, can the rest of the EP live up to “The Need For Money”. ”Bended Knee” comes next with the answer and that answer is… Yes! It begins with more a funky kind of riff which will no doubt make people want to get up and dance along. Again, the vocals are powerful and the drums are precise to the beat. As the song progresses, it just gets better and better.

“Transparent” has a more drum orientated introduction which is soon accompanied by the bass and guitar. The riffs are intelligently played, blending well with the technicality of the drums and bass, making for a truly superior track. The vocals bring a very emotional feel to the track as well. This one is certainly the best one of the EP. The EP comes to end with “See Me, I’m Gone” which just carries on the musical genius found on the other tracks. The riffs are well composed and the drum sections are brilliant. “See Me, I’m Gone” is certainly chart topping material.

The debut release of any band is usually the defining factor of how well a band will fare in the future. Well, Dry Pilot are certainly going to fare brilliantly in the future. This EP is proof of it. Each track is better than the last, combining strong vocals with genius riffs and great drum work. Dry Pilot are clearly a band to keep an eye – and ear – out for. On stage or on recordings, there are a band that impresses!

5/5

Nico Davidson

Army of the Universe – Mother Ignorance [2011]

Posted in Review on 28th June 2011 by Fireclown

Band: Army of the Universe
Album: Mother Ignorance
Release year: 2011
Genre: Industrial / Electronic / Rock

All I can say is, “Thank goodness”.  This band has members coming from different genres of music and has produced, what I would call, a proper Industrial album.

We have Albert Vorne who is a master of Techno/Trance with his synthesizers.  An amazing lead singer from “Kult of the Skull God”, Lord K.  Davil, who manipulates guitars into sounds only the distortion gods know of. To top these skills and their names, this has been mixed by the well renowned Chris Vrenna who won a Grammy Award as a member of Nine Inch Nails.

I love Industrial music and listen to it most of the time.  Recently I have found there have been a lot of bands releasing music that they like to call Industrial.  Most of this music has been what I would call Rave/Metal.  This is not Rave/Metal, this is the beginning of Industrial music returning to its glory days.

The overture of “Mother Ignorance,” the name of the album, is a simple synthesizer beat which breaks into distortion, then the guitar and drums get to work on an amazing grind.  It’s a tune that makes you move, makes you want to listen.  This song sets the pace for the rest of the album.

“Love Dead”, their second song, is obviously influenced by NiN.  The song has a slow grind until the Chorus which breaks out into a synthetic piano tune underlying distortion.  This song is nothing but “Classic” Industrial music.

The interesting thing about this band is that they don’t stick with the same style of Industrial music.  “Goodnight” isn’t like “Love Dead” the previous song; it’s got more of a “Depeche Mode” influence.  I don’t mean “Depeche Mode” from the early 80’s, I’m taking about when they were doing their darker music in 94`.  The song starts with a strong, dare I say, “dance beat” and with a light hearted piano sound overlaying.  In moments of the song starting however the guitar kicks into action and everything becomes apparent this is not a simple song of light beats but beats with a breath taking grind of metal.

The Vocals throughout the album reminisces of “Billy Idol”.  The voice is light when needed for certain songs but has the power to thrash out the yell.  Perfect for the sound in which this band has created.

One song will always stick out for me in this LP.  It’s the cover of “Björk’s,” “Army of Me”.  I love the original and the cover that Helmet did in the 90’s but to have a band make an Industrial version of the song, it made me very happy.  This version of the song has the right amount of dryness at the start of the song which reminds you of desolation.  The pounding of the synthesiser drives onto the chorus which in turn takes you to another level of the song.

Although I have said that this band has created an amazing Industrial sound I also think they are at a junction of musical differences.  I can hear the Industrial pounds and grinds of bands like, “NiN,” “Gravity Kills” and “Rico” but I can also hear sounds that are different but potentially compatible like, “Depeche Mode” and “SONOIO”.

I certainly think this band will be one too listen to in the future and has a long future ahead of them.  They may struggle with their differences in musical direction but again this could be a pleasant mix of genre which will revitalise the Industrial scene and take it back from the Rave/Metal scene which calls themselves Industrial.

4/5

Alistair ‘Fireclown’ Law

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!

Celtachor – In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 21st June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Celtachor
Album: In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers
Release year: 2010
Genre: Celtic Black Metal

Celtachor formed in the early, wintery months of 2007, combining a mixture of folk, doom and black metal. They have slowly been on the rise in the Irish underground metal scene with their uniquely told version of Irish mythology and other great legends and stories of Ireland. “In The Hall Of Our Ancient Fathers” is the recent addition to their on going saga.

The tribal-like sounds of “Nemed’s Wake” eerily makes itself heard with dark, droning choir-like vocals creating a grim and terrifying atmosphere. A symphonic piece of epic proportions shortly follows, making way for the next track “Rise of Lugh”. The first riff is lacking in speed but has a clear black metal sound. The tempo increases with the vocals and drums entering the fray. There are clear Celtic influences in some of the flute medleys, adding a very legendary mystique to the music. The vocals are raw, untamed and savagely good. Some of the riffs are very crushing and brutal.

”In The Halls Of Nuada” comes next, beginning with a Celtic medley before the demonic onslaught of guitars, vocals and drums. The guitars and drums seem to be lacking in power compared to the vocals, which dominate the track viciously. In certain sections, the riffs are very choppy and whilst the drums seem more barbaric. “A Warning To Balor” blasts its way next with more of an eighties styled rock section which oddly works well with the more aggressive screams. There are a few melodic licks on this track as well. A masterfully played bass riff introduces the next track “Riders Of The Fomor”. The guitar riff that follows is mediocre and weak sounding. The Celtic styled medleys make a return on this track, adding a beautiful sound to the aggressive riffs. The vocals sound more raw and bloodthirsty.

“The Sons of Tuireann and the Blood Fine” is the second to last track, which calmly starts with an enchanting flute medley. The guitars join in soon after, twinning well with the flute. The vocals are still going strong, raw and murderous sounding, fortunately. The drums are sounding more powerful and beastly on this track as well. The final track “The Wavesweeper” begins with an intro similar to the first track, though the riff that follows seems poorly composed. The track improves with the introduction of the vocals, however, bringing a brutal assault of black metal. It is certainly one of the more violent tracks and perhaps the best one.

Celtachor are slowly becoming masters of their trade. “In The Halls Of Our Ancient Ancestors” is a brilliant mixture of Irish sagas, black metal and Celtic influences. If the ancient tribes of Ireland listened to metal, then this would certainly be that they’d approve of.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Episode 13 – Death Reclaims The Earth [2010]

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

Band: Episode 13
Album: Death Reclaims The Earth
Release year: 2010
Genre: Black Metal

Turkey is a country known for its rich history and culture but less known for its metal scene. In 2001, Episode 13 formed, slowly building both a fan base and a name for the Turkish metal with their black metal stylings. “Death Reclaims The Earth” is their latest release.

”Ars Moriendi”, Latin for “The Art Of Dying”, begins with a dirge like guitar riff, which suits the track well considering its name. The vocals aren’t as rough or vicious as expected to begin with, though when the tempo increases the vocals become far more aggressive, fortunately. The drums are heavy, like they should be on any black metal track. the tempo switches between fast and slow, which is slightly irritating to begin with though one soon gets used to it. “Physical Comatose & Mental Overdose” starts with a slightly faster guitar section, whilst the drums are slow but precise to the beat. The vocals come in with a good start, full of aggression and angst. The blast beats are immense, bringing heaviness to the track.

The third track, “Unmensch”, which is German for either “brute” or “monster”, comes next, turning up the aggression, brutality and heaviness by a few notches. Everything sounds more violent and savage on this track, which is always a good thing. “Ignorance Is Bliss” turns things down a notch whilst staying murderous sounding. The drums sound disappointing at first though they gradually improve. The vocals, on the other hand, sound more grim and bloodthirsty. “Ultimate Sterilization” brings things back up a notch with a brilliant opening section that assaults the ear drums like a blitz over London. The riffs have a very old skool black metal sound to them, similar to a mixture of Venom and Gorgoroth. The drums are savagely intelligent whilst the bass work is immense and somewhat different in some sections.

Nearing the end of the album is the second track “Worthless”. It is lighter compared to the previous track though still heavy enough to considered metal. The tempo has slowed down as well which is a nice touch. The vocals, on this track, could be compared to the dying groans of a cow being mutilated – Which is pretty damned kvlt. A faster tempo does occur on this track, though it still stays light. The final track is “Spread His Word”. The introduction sounds like a stampede of a demonic legion due to the sheer brutality of it. The vocals sound more powerful, more aggressive and more violent while the riffs are like the hellish anthems of the underworld. This track is virtually unrelenting in its brutality, aggression and musical genius.

Episode 13 have proved themselves to be one of the best bands rising in the black metal scene. With a raw, untamed sound combined with unrestricted brutality, “Death Reclaims The Earth” is a gemstone of an album, worth every penny. Episode 13 are a band to keep an ear out for as we’ll certainly be hearing more great things from these guys!

4/5

Nico Davidson

66crusher – Blackest Day [2011]

Posted in Review 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 Review 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 Review 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

Helheim – Heiðindómr ok mótgangr [2011]

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

Band: Helheim
Album: Heiðindómr ok mótgangr
Release year: 2011
Genre: Black Metal/Viking Metal

Helheim, named after the world in Norse mythology, are one of Norway’s oldest and most revered Viking Black Metal bands. “Heiðindómr ok mótgangr”  is the follow up to their mini album “Asgard’s Fall” which was released last year. “Heiðindómr ok mótgangr” has been described as their most grand, epic and monumental release to date so far. It is also the first Helheim album since 1999 to feature only Norwegian lyrics.

The album begins with the slow and brutalising guitar intro of “Viten Og Mot (Sindighet)”, which is mixed in with some French horn, making for a dramatic yet violent introductory track. The guitar riff that follows is lighter but more fast paced. The drums are also fast paced but are weak compared to the vocals. In some sections, the French horn overpowers the guitars which is disappointing. The vocals, however, are just as they are expected to be – Aggressive, bloodthirsty and grim. The use of a guitar solo does slightly improve the track, though not by much. The other major issue with this track is that it’s too long and repetitive for the most part. The use of clean vocals is surprising though it doesn’t do much for the track. It is not a great start for the album.

”Dualitet Og Ulver” comes next, beginning with an acoustic guitar section which is soon replaced by a violent, window-breaking guitar section accompanied by drums. The vocals are still aggressive and sounding more powerful than the previous track. The drum sections seem to have improved a fair bit as well, though they are still overpowered by the guitars and vocals in some sections. This track is a vast improvement from the previous one. “Viten Og Mot (Stolthet)” begins with a similar intro to “Viten Og Mot (Sindighet)”. The vocals are a mixture of grim, narrated styled vocals and raw, aggressive black metal screams which isn’t a great combination. The French horn makes its return on this track, bringing a doomsday atmosphere with it. Musically, this is a great track, though, vocally it leaves much to be desired.

”Maðr” begins with an intro similar to the riffs found on Helheim’s first album. The vocals sound barbaric, angry and fierce, contrasting well with the murderous and savage riffs. The drum sections sound more beastly and heavy as well. There is a slow, soft riff half way through the track which combines the use of clean vocals and grim screams, making for a perfect break between the onslaught of the guitars and drums. The next track is “Viten Og Mot (Årvåkenhet)”. Like the previous track, it begins with an old skool Helheim-styled riff topped off the demonic screaming. The drums are more vehemently played whilst the guitars have more bite. There is also a calm riff about halfway through, adding some diversity to the track. The grim and ghastly narration reappears on this track, followed by some shouting, which certainly adds a new sound to the album.

“Element” begins with a very soft and slightly melodic intro. There is a use of strained, clean vocals which ruins the track slightly. The track gradually becomes heavy, improving it vastly. However, it is one of the poorer tracks of the album. “Nauðr” follows after, beginning with a melodic yet destructive intro. The guitars and drums are fast paced, in a traditional black metal way, whilst the vocals are full of aggression and violence, as is to be expected. The rest of the track, however, is mediocre.

Nearing the end of the album, comes “Viten Og Mot (Bevissthet)”. Straight away, the heavy brutality bombards its way along with a beastly guitar section and terrifying vocals. The drums are very acute and on time, though lacking in power. There is a lighter section which takes away a lot from the track. Though when the heaviness returns to the track, it sounds so much better again. The dramatic sound of the French horn can be heard towards the end, making the track slightly more enjoyable. The final track of the album is “Helheim 8”, which begins with an acoustic intro. The French horn makes itself heard on this track as well, combined with folk-styled clean vocals. “Helheim 8” is certainly an interesting end to the album.

”Heiðindómr ok mótgangr” has its good points and its bad points and they seem to even out an awful lot. The album combined the best of Helheim’s roots with a newer sound. The combination of the two differing sounds has potential once Helheim work out how to combine the two without ruining the quality of the music too much. All in all, it is an above average album which has room for improvement.

3.5/5

Nico Davidson

Nordagust – In The Mist Of Morning [2010]

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

Band: Nordagust
Album: In The Mist Of Morning
Release year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Rock

Musically, Norway is known for its infamous black metal scene, however there are some rising stars in the other music scenes of Norway and one of those rising stars are the progressive rock band known as “Nordagust”, whom take their name from the mythological spirit of the North wind. Their most recent release is “In The Mist Of Morning”.

The title track, “In The Mist Of Morning” is the first track of the album beginning with a gentle keyboard intro which is gradually accompanied by a slow paced guitar riff. The drums gently join in at the same time as the guitar. The vocals are soft yet powerful, blending well with the music. The keyboard sections add a very calming yet eerie atmospheric feel whilst the guitar riffs are very melodic. This track conjures up images of a mist hanging around the mountain ranges of Norway and along the coast. One couldn’t ask for a better track to begin the album.
“Expectations” is the second track, carrying on the eerie atmosphere created by the keyboard sections. Again, the vocals are soft yet powerful whilst the guitars are, again, melodic and are heavier and more rocky than the previous track in some sections. The drums seem to have more of a part on this track as well. The track is beautifully and well composed. Next is “Mysterious Ways”, beginning with a dark and terrifying keyboard section mixed with some strange sounds. The guitar riffs are slow but strong and melodic in some sections. However, the drums are the thing that stand out most about this track as they match up to the guitar riffs for strength and power. “Mysterious Ways” certainly sets a mystifying atmosphere and feeling.

”In The Woods” begins with the intelligently combined sound of running water and a slow guitar riff, setting a calm mood. The riff is masterfully composed and played. The keyboard section brings a more dramatic sound to the track, making ever more enjoyable to listen to. The only downside to this track is the lack of bass, vocals and drums. “Elegy” seems to carry on from where “In The Woods” finishes. The guitars are soft yet sorrowful, whilst the drums are too light, almost been fully overpowered by the guitar riffs in some sections though they do increase in power and strength is other sections of the track. The vocals, however, make up for the lightly played drum sections, bringing a new level of power to the track. The keyboard sections are brilliant.

“Forcing” is one of the more aggressive sounding tracks of the album. The riffs seem to have more bite than the previous tracks whilst maintaining their melodic flair. The drums and keyboards virtually match the guitar riffs for power, strength and heaviness. The lack of vocals on this track is disappointing but nevertheless it is still an immense track. The next track is “Frozen” which seems to continue on from “Forcing”. The keyboard sections seem to dominate this track for the first minute. The vocals contrast well with the guitar and keyboard sections, while the drums beautifully switch from light to heavy throughout the track, making it more interesting.

“The Tide” begins with a very synth/keyboard orientated intro which is soon accompanied by a wonderful guitar section. The vocals work well with the keyboard sections. The drums are masterfully played throughout the track. The second to last track, “Make Me Believe”, begins with a very dramatic and tense keyboard section. The guitar riff that follows adds a certain brilliance to the track. The vocals are still going strong. The track has some very powerful sections, which contrast greatly with the more lighter sections. The final track of the album is “Elegy Epilogue”. The intro is very atmospheric, whilst the piano section is very calm and soothing. It is a beautiful end to a great album.

”In The Mist Of Morning” is a testament to the talent and musical genius of “Nordagust”. The album is very atmospheric and melodic and captures the very soul of Norway while at the same time retains the progressive rock sound. This is a great addition to any progressive rock fan’s collection.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Rhapsody Of Fire – From Chaos To Eternity [2011]

Posted in Review 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

Consecrated Flesh – From The Dying Earth [2011]

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

Band: Consecrated Flesh
Album: From The Dying Earth [Demo]
Release year: 2011
Genre: Black Metal/Thrash Metal

Consecrated Flesh are a thrash and black metal influenced quarter from Lancaster. “From The Dying Earth” is their most recent release.

The demo is already at a good start with the crushing and fast paced riffs of “Bow Down at the Altar Throne”. The drums are a full-on brutal assault and the vocals are grim and terrifyingly good. This is clearly a track that would make for a great mosh pit anthem. Even the length of it makes it immense. “Ethnogenesis” blasts its way next with an aggressive and bloodthirsty sounding intro section. Fast paced riffs and enraged drum sections feature heavily on this track as well, though there is a tremendous slow, light section half way through. The vocals are beastly and remarkable.

The third track, “Meteotsunami” starts with a slower paced riff compared to the previous tracks though the drums and vocals bring the barbaric assault of metal when they make themselves heard. The only problem with this track is that it’s too short when compared to the other three tracks on the demo. The final track, which is also the title track, “From The Dying Earth”, is pretty much the best track of the demo. The violent riffs, brutal and speedy drum sections and extreme and vehement vocals embody what black metal is meant to sound like.

”From The Dying Earth” displays and glorifies the talent of Consecrated Flesh. Each track seemed to be more violent, more aggressive and more passionately played than the previous one. “From The Dying Earth” is a great addition to any black metal fan’s collection.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Sister – Hated [2011]

Posted in Uncategorized 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

Cryptic Age – Homeland EP [2011]

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

Band: Cryptic Age
Album: Homeland EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal/Power Metal

Since their formation, Cryptic Age have been a rising star in the British underground metal scene, having shared the stage with the likes of Ravenage, Hecate Enthroned, Windrider and Skyclad. “Homeland” is the first chapter in their epic saga.

The title track, “Homeland”, is the first track of the EP. It begins with the sound of thunder and rain. Vocals are soon heard over the rain. The Manx Gaelic lyrics are a great touch to the track, giving it a very Celtic feel. With the introduction of the symphonic sections, combined with the drums, bass and guitar the track turns aggressive yet beautiful. The vocals are monumentally powerful, more so than most soprano styled vocals. The symphonic elements bring a very intense, epic sound whilst the guitar, bass and drums bring good ol’ fashioned heaviness. The keyboard solo and the guitar solo that follows can only be described as “sagaic”.

”On The Cold Bare Ground” is the second track of the EP, beginning with a dark and mysterious sounding riff. The riff eventually transforms into a something heavier for a short while before going back to the softer, darker riff. The track does turn heavier again though with an increase in tempo. The vocals ring strongly throughout the track. The drum work is acute and precise. Like the previous track, the solos are mind-blowing.

The third track, “Bring Down The Sky” begins very folky, with an acoustic intro and a long symphonic note. The vocals work very well with this intro, conjuring up images of a small Celtic village. The drums add a new dynamic to the track as well. Whilst the first half of this track is slow paced, the second half increases the tempo. The guitar solo is astounding, brutal and masterfully played. The wittily named “No Folkin’ Way” is the second to last track of this so far majestic EP. Like the previous track, it has an acoustic and symphonic intro, though it is short lived before the electric guitar dominates. The symphonic sections are grand sounding, blending well with the guitar riffs, bass and drums. The only downside to this track is the lack of vocals.

The last track is “Paragons Of War”. Straight from the beginning, there is a somewhat heroic-sagaic sound resonating from the combination of drums, bass, guitars and keyboards. The vocals complete the track, adding a very majestic touch to it. The guitar and bass sections are brilliantly played and the drums are definitely are a highlight of the track. And the solos are nothing short of grand and noble.

Cryptic Age, despite been young, are clearly a talented quartet of musicians. No doubt that “Homeland” is but the first chapter in a long and legendary saga for these Yorkshire lads and lass. Female fronted metal has never sounded so good.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Wolfthorn – Echoes Of A Forgotten Past EP [2010]

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

Band: Wolfthorn
Album: Echoes Of A Forgotten Past
Release year: 2010
Genre: Black Metal

”Wolfthorn” are a black metal quintet from Lancaster, United Kingdom. They describe themselves as “True Lancastrian Black Metal”. British folklore from the times before the Roman and Saxon invasions is to be the inspiration for their music, including their debut EP “Echoes Of A Forgotten Past”.

“Sworn In Blood” is the first track of the EP and begins in true black metal style with a merciless guitar riff and brutal double bass pedals. The vocals are beastly, bloodthirsty and aggressive which is to be expected of any of black metal band. The track is fast paced mostly, aside from the section half way through where the pace decreases a fair bit. One thing that makes this track unique compared to most black metal releases is the use of a face-melting guitar solo. “Sworn In Blood” is a great opening track.

The second track is “Twilight In Valinor”. The intro is slow paced paced yet heavy, though it seems to be lacking of a certain musical element. However, the track improves when the tempo increases and the vocals come screaming in like a berserker. The drums are sharp and intense whilst the riffs are violent. The use of whispered vocals adds a touch of eeriness to the track. “The Mists Of Avalon” comes next with the sound of water and an echoed narration. A soft, acoustic riff follows after which is then replaced by the more aggressive electric guitars, drums and bass. The acoustic guitars reappear again, mixed with clean vocals which make the track sound more folky but the screams can still be heard on the majority of this track alongside the more brutal sections of the track, making for a contrast of sheer brilliance. “The Mists Of Avalon” is probably the best track of the album.

”Thousand Blades” is the second to last track of the EP which begins with an unrelenting riff and an aggressive yet acute drum section. The vocals are still going strong, sounding more raw and bloodthirsty than the previous tracks, which is always a good thing. The last track of the EP is “Thus Spoke The Morrigan”, which begins with the sound of footsteps treading on snow and the cawing of ravens. A calm piano medley slowly lures the listener into a ruthless onslaught of guitars, drums and screams. “Thus Spoke The Morrigan” is the perfect end to a great EP.

Wolfthorn mix a variety of old skool black metal influences combined with good ol’ fashioned British aggression to make some seriously beasty music. Wolfthorn have got the potential to usher in and pioneer the next generation of black metal and “Echoes Of A Forgotten Past” proves just that.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Aonia – City Of Shadows EP [2009]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 12th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Aonia
Album: City of Shadows EP
Release year: 2009
Genre: Symphonic Metal/Power Metal

Aonia, named after the land held sacred to the Muses in Greek mythology, are a six piece female-fronted symphonic/power metal band from Worksop, United Kingdom.

The title track “City Of Shadows” is the first track of the EP. The introduction is very dark sounding, with a combination of a dark symphonic section and a light guitar riff. The track only gets better when the guitars turn aggressive. The drums give the track that extra edge as well. The vocals have are greatly contrasted from high-pitched operatic vocals to more hard rock-styled vocals. The guitar solo keeps the track interesting as well. “Gift of the Curse” comes next with a melodic intro riff. A second guitar, keyboards and drums soon join in leading into the onslaught of metal that is due to come. The drums are extremely intelligently played on this track. The guitar solo is masterfully performed on this track. It’s good to see that the epic sound from the first track has carried on.

The next is ”Prophecy of the Fallen Kingdom”. The intro, straight away, sounds sagaic. The riffs are powerful and astounding. This track, in terms of vocals, has more emphasis on the operatic vocals, which is a pleaser for anyone who is a fan of operatic vocals in metal. The fourth track of the EP is “Rabbit Hole”, which begins with a different sound to the previous three tracks. The riffs sound slightly more violent. Piano medleys can be heard through out the track, which contrast well alongside the cutthroat riffs and aggressive drums. The piano medley just over half way through is perhaps the best section of the track, bringing a certain calm before the storm that is the guitar solo shreds its way in.

“Liberate Mei” is the second to last track of the EP. The guitars domineer their way in straight from the start, along side the drums. The vocals contrast beautifully from an aggressive styled vocal section to the angelic operatic vocals. The guitar solo is expertly performed, making the track more fast paced and brutal. The final track of the EP is “The Song”, which starts with a heavy, slow-paced melodic intro. The track eventually turns fast paced, with some technical sections from the guitars. The keyboards bring a very symphonic sound to the track, working well with the brutal onslaught on the guitars and drums. The vocals are still going strong as well, thankfully.

It would be a mistake to describe Aonia as a band similar to Nightwish, as Aonia clearly have their own defined sound. With masterfully composed riffs and powerful vocals, City Of Shadows is a must have EP for any fan of female-fronted metal.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Thurisaz – The Cimmerian Years [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 12th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Thurisaz
Album: The Cimmerian Years
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Atmospheric Blackened Death Metal

Thurisaz, named after the rune of the same name, have been dominating the Belgian metal scene since 1997 with their blend of atmospheric black metal and death metal. The blackened death metal quintet have returned with their most recent album “The Cimmerian Years”.

“Broken” is the first track of the album. It’s not an impressive track as such, due to slow drum section at the beginning and the use of bass and acoustic guitar mixed in with some strange sounds. However the track doe improve within the last few seconds of the track with the introduction of a heavier, more distorted guitar riff.  Fortunately, it’s only a short track. “My Precious Unknown” begins where “Broken” finished. The guitar riff has a touch of old skool black metal to it’s composition and the drums are brilliantly played. The riff changes before the vocals can be properly heard. The harsh vocals aren’t as good as one would expect, as they sound very strained. The clean vocals, however, are pretty good, blending well with the grunts and screams.

The third track, “Second Mirror”, is next beginning with a faded in guitar intro which gradually become louder. The keyboard sections work brilliantly with the drums and guitars and the screams sound much better than the previous track. The riffs seem to have more technicality to them. The clean vocals make an appearance on this track as well, bringing some softness to the brutality of the track. “Second Mirror” is certainly an improvement in the album, especially after the two previous tracks. The track ends on an aggressive yet symphonic styled note.

”No Regrets” comes next, beginning with a strange voice talking. The aggression of the guitars and drums come bursting on straight after, combined with the calmness of the keyboards which bring about a very dramatic atmosphere. The screams are still going strong and the grunts have become more powerful as well. Parts of this track have a very “Hecate Enthroned” styled sound which makes it more enjoyable. The last half of the track is dominated by clean vocals though the screams and grunts can still be heard, fortunately enough for those you aren’t a fan of clean vocals. “Fare Thee Well”, the fifth track on the album, begins with clean vocals which are followed by a slow paced riff and drum beat. The use of deep clean vocals gives the track a very bleak and depressing sound while the grunts bring the much needed aggression. The track increases in pace and heaviness eventually, though towards the end it goes back to been slow placed and lighter.

”The Carnival of Miscreation” has a power metal sound to begin with which is soon replaced when the vocals make themselves heard. The track has a brilliant contrast in sound between the melodic sections and brutal riffs. The clean vocals slightly ruin the track in certain sections however the screams make up for it. The piano section half through is both solemn and hypnotic. “Inner Voices” follows after, composed entirely of vocals and acoustic guitar, which sets a very calm mood for the listener. The clean vocals work well with the acoustic riff, which is no surprise. “Unhealed” brings back the aggression and brutality. The screams are a welcome change to the previous track as well. Part of the track turns softer for a while, with just piano and drums and some female vocals. The brutality does return however, combined with clean vocals and screams.

The last track of the album is “A Glance of Misperception”. The intro is eerie and soft. The brutality comes in eventually at a slow pace. The guitars bring some melody to the track as well. It’s almost three minutes into the track before any vocals are heard. After the first vocal section, the track turns soft again. Vocals can be heard of the eerie piano medley as well during in the second soft section of the track. Fortunately the track turns brutal again with the introduction of the grunts.

Despite the first two tracks, “The Cimmerian Years” is a brilliant album and it’s easy to see why “Thurisaz” have dominated to the Belgian metal scene. This is a must have album for any fan of atmospheric blackened death metal.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Euphoreon – Euphoreon [2011]

Posted in Review 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 Review 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