Archive for August, 2011

Lee Rule – Alive EP [2011]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 30th August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Lee Rule
Album: Alive EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Instrumental/Chill Out

”Alive” is the newest release by Driffield-based musician Lee Rule. Lee has described it to be more chilled out compared to the stuff he’s written for Obsolete Tomorrow.

The EP begins with the soothing introduction of “Namaste” which eases the listener into a state of calmness with the beautiful flute medley at the beginning. As the track progresses, the use of other sounds and instruments come into play, keeping it calm yet upbeat at the same time. The song just oozes with emotion. “To Dream” starts with a more solemn introduction, the kind that brings a tear to the eyes of the listener. The piano sections are well composed and very touching on both an emotional and spiritual level, stirring something within the soul.

”To Believe” carries on from where “To Dream” finishes, with a slightly faster tempo it seems. The flute section keeps the song very chilled and soulful. The EP finishes with “L.I.V.E”, which begins with the sound of birds singing and a type of chime or bell being played. The flute medley that follows after is amazing. The drums blend, oddly, well with the flute sections. Towards its end the song does turn heavy – Not brutalising heavy but more of a rock-styled heavy that keeps the atmosphere created by the EP.

It’s a shock to hear Lee Rule compose and play something that isn’t metal yet at the same time it’s a welcome. Alive is a well composed and produced EP and a brilliant record to chill out to on those lazy days. Perhaps Lee might release more records like this. All we can do is hope that he does.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Interview: Ablaz [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 30th August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Nico has a chat with Ablaz [Bassist for Sarah Jezebel Deva and Gods Army] about the upcoming SJD tour, his career with SJD and Gods Army and alcohol.


Nico: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, Ablaz. I hope you’re in good health. You’re due to tour the UK with Sarah Jezebel Deva in October. How are you feeling about this? Excited? Nervous?

Ablaz: You’re welcome. I feel good and I can’t wait to hit the stage again! Our last show was in June in Germany on the Wave-Gotik-Teffen and that’s way too long ago. I’m nosy on how the fans react to our new songs live. We only played some of them on a few festivals and I loved that feeling.

N: Sounds like the stage is like your second home then. Do guys have any plans for festivals next year?

A: Oh yeah it really is and I guess you can see that when you watch our live show. I couldn’t be a studio musician, there’s no special feeling for me – I do music because I love to play gigs and for the after show parties of course. Even after a lot of live shows the feeling is still unbelievable. When I write new songs, I always imagine how they work live. Unfortunately I don’t have any news about festivals next year, but I hope we’ll play some nice ones! Guess the planning starts after our UK tour in October.

N: Well, the tour sounds like it’s going to be awesome. This next question is from one of our readers. What’s it like playing music with Sarah?

A: I guess Sarah will read this, so I have to be careful… [laughter] – I’m joking. This is one of the most asked questions and I have to admit Sarah really is a nice person. Before I ever met her, I was a bit unsure if she may is arrogant, complicated or whatever. But when I met her and especially when we spent a lot of time on our first tour together, I just realised that my fear was unnecessary. I love to work with Sarah and of course also with the rest of my band. I was listening to Cradle of Filth when I was 14 years so at the  beginning it was a kind of strange feeling, playing with someone you  know from other well-known records. But now it’s more than just a musician relation, it’s friendship, too. And when I listen to her old Cradle of Filth stuff now, I always think, that OUR new songs with real lyrics fit much more to Sarah then “ohhh” and “ahhhh”.

N: That’s true. It’s good to know that Sarah is able to use her vocals more freely now. Speaking of music, do you feel that the music you play with Sarah is different to the sort of stuff you play with Gods Army?

A: Yeah it definitely is! With SJD we’re doing Symphonic Metal, God’s Army is a kind of Industrial Rock. Also in God’s Army I don’t play bass, I play the guitar. So there are no overlaps, nor in the music style nor in song writing. And I love doing both.

N: Speaking of Gods Army, a quick Google search on them usually provides our readers with information about the band written in German – A language that not all of our readers can understand. Is there any information you could give to our readers about the band?

A: The most important point: We definitely should do our new homepage in German and English… I joined Gods Army in 2007, but due to BIG line-up problems and a few female vocalist changes we still haven’t released our first album. In 2010 I was very busy with SJD, but now we’re working again on our GodsArmy release and hopefully will have a release next year. If you like to be up-to-date just add us on Facebook: “GodsArmy”.

N: I’m sure your fans will be eagerly awaiting any news on the GodsArmy release – As will us [Valkyrian Music]. This next question is a bit random, on the official SJD website, your favourite beer is listed as “Traugott Simon”. How does British beer compare to it, in your opinion?

A: [laughter] The people who know that German beer will have a laugh now. It’s one of the cheapest beer in Germany – 8 litres for about 5 Euro, that’s about 4 pound – and I love it. Your next question is an easy one: Never ever compare German beer with others, in my opinion the others can’t win. When I came to our very first SJD tour, I tried a lot of new British beer in the pubs every night. At the end of the tour I was asked which is the best British beer. I answered: “There really is one beer I like. It’s much better then the rest…it’s called Foster’s”…  For those who don’t know: Foster’s is an Australian beer. But every beer is better than “no beer”.

N: I’ll drink to that! Or at least I will when I go to the pub. Just a few more questions now. This is one is somewhat random, if you could take the soundtrack from any movie and replace it with your own music, which movie would it be? And why?

A: I guess I wouldn’t replace any film soundtrack or at least I have no idea right now. If  I would, the music and the lyrics should fit into the movie. And I love Zombie movies most, but Sarah’s lyrics are not about zombies [laughter]. But I think “The Corruption Of Mercy” would be a great soundtrack for a sad movie, with a lot of rain.

N: Hmm, true. Okay, final question and once again, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Are there any bands on the UK and German underground music scenes that you’d recommend to our readers?

A: I have to admit, I don’t listen much to the underground scene at the moment, except for some black metal bands [Nargaroth and Fäulnis]. But I guess I will see some nice supporting bands on our next UK tour in October and I also hope to see many of you there!

Ablaz will be touring with Sarah Jezebel Deva in October. For tour dates, click here. More for info on the upcoming tour, check out the Official Sarah Jezebel Deva Facebook page.

Also, to check out Ablaz’s other band, GodsArmy, click here.

Blodravn – Words Of The High One [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 27th August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Blodravn
Album: Sayings Of The High One
Release year: 2011
Genre: True Texan Folk Metal


”Blodravn” is the project of Texas-based musician Anthony Riddle. The lyrics are described as “Asatru belief inspired” while Anthony himself takes musical influence from bands such as “Falkenbach” and “Ensiferum”. The debut release of Blodravn is “Words Of The High One”, the English name of the Eddic poem “Havamal”.

The first track, generically named “Intro”, begins with the sound of roaring thunder and rain. The thunder is soon accompanied by a solemn orchestrated section. Though the orchestration dominated the rest of the track, the sound of thunder can be heard occasionally, adding a very divine atmosphere. “Of Swords And Honour” starts with a cheery, folk-like section – almost sounding like a song that should have been played during Lord Of The Rings. When the guitars turn heavy, the music doesn’t seem to gel well together after a while. The vocals seem to switch between aggressive-like screams and grunts to clean vocals far too quickly. ”Væringjar” starts with a mixture of acoustic guitar and vocals, making for a superb folk-like introduction. The use of heavier guitars does come into play after a while, mixing well with the flute and acoustic guitar. The vocals later on in the track are a mixture of black metal-like screams and folk-sounding clean vocals, giving the song a very tame Ensiferum-meets-Tyr type of sound. The drums don’t seem to really grab the attention of the listener. The only thing that really sticks out about this track is the chorus.

The title track, “Words Of The High One”, starts with the sound of running water followed by a folk-influenced introduction. When the track turns heavy, it sounds similar to a track from Bathory’s “Hammerheart” album. The screams add a dark yet angry touch to the song, though it does seem the symbols are used a bit too much in sections. The folky section about half away through is both a good break and a great composition. The track does return to its Bathory-like sound, which is somewhat eerie and brilliant. “The Golden Hall” begins with the heaviest introduction on the whole album, mixed in with some epic symphonic riffs. The vocals, despite being raw and powerful, seems quiet compared to the music. The choir sections inject a very epic sound to the song.

”A Spell for Chameleon” begins with the sounds of birds and other animals before being drowned out the acoustic guitars. The guitars do turn heavy for a short while before going back to their soft, acoustic medleys. The acoustic medleys and heavy riffs work together through part of the track, creating a beautiful sound. The orchestration through parts of the song is just beautifully mesmerising. The album finishes with a bonus track which is a cover of the main medley for the legendary game series “Legend Of Zelda”. The cover is done in a very metal way, though the vocals would have sounded better either clean or as screams as opposed low guttural growls. None-the-less, it’s a good cover.

Whilst the first few tracks of “Words Of The High One” leave a lot of be desired, the rest of the album is great. With enough hard work and determinations, Blodravn could easily become America’s answer to Windrider, Ensiferum and Tyr.

3.5/5

Nico Davidson

Bloodstock Open Air 2011 [Live Review] Part Two

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 26th August 2011 by Hannah

Bands: WASP, Finntroll, Kreator and more
Location: Catton Hall, Walton-Upon-Trent
Date: 12-14th August, 2011

Onto the Ronnie James Dio Stage, then, and the line up for Friday. The first band I saw was Wolf, and just as they were the first time I saw them, they were awesome. They delivered their specific brand of classic, thrash-tinged heavy metal to the assembled crowds with gusto. A special mention must go out to their roadie, who- having hit his head during set up- was the recipient of a special dedication during the track Skull Crushed. They filled their set with both old favourites and new tidbits, hearing Full Moon Possession from their new album Legion of Bastards, as well as premiering a live version of their new track, K141 Cursed. Coroner were as expected; brutal and loud death-tinged thrash metal. I must admit, I am not such a fan of their music, and it seemed a little bland and generic to me. But they put on a good live show, showed a good level of energy, and were excellent for fans of thrash metal. Speaking of thrash, German thrash legends Kreator did not disappoint. They were definitely on form, and gave the Bay Area elite a run for their money. The German giants had the crowds eating out of their hands and absolutely baying for more, and managed to generate the biggest pit of the day so far. Playing a huge range of tunes, Kreator showed that sometimes, the oldest bands know best. What can I say about The Devin Townsend Project, plus a special appearance from Ziltoid the Omniscient? Devin was as bonkers as ever, and shared words of wisdom such as ‘if you aren’t into MMA and you say you are, then my friend, you’re just a poser’ with the enthralled crowd. A trippy guru of progressive craziness, Devin is a proper entertainer who impressed with his cosmic wall of cinematic sound. The man could easily go into business as a stand-up comedian if he ever decides to give up music. He also helped many members of the audience to discover a hidden desire to be a fire engine! Who knew? Friday headliners W.A.S.P. proved they still have it with a set that spanned decades, and provided fuel for every fan of classic metal in the arena. Young and old, male and female; I don’t think there was anyone who didn’t enjoy their set. So what if Blackie Lawless is looking a little bit fatter round the gills these days- his voice and stage presence still exudes that dangerous sex appeal that had parents quaking in their boots in the 80’s. Playing crowd pleasers like Wild Child, and even pulling up an incredibly excited fan to join them in a chorus of I Wanna Be Somebody, W.A.S.P. were the perfect way to round of the first day of the weekend.

Onto Saturday, and Gravedigger were the first band I saw that day. They were awesome, and for such a short set, they played an absolutely packed set list. They really got the crowd going, which is not easy to do at that time of the day, and whilst nursing hangovers to boot. Tarot were excellent. Nightwish veteran and frontman Marco Hietala had the attention of absolutely everyone in the arena, and it wasn’t just because of their music. Keeping the crowd utterly bewildered with comments about BBQs and tractors, as well as encouraging a chant of ‘More Cock’ in honour of sci fi writer Michael Moorcock, Tarot impressed with their particular brand of power metal. Next up was the band that I was personally most excited about of the whole line up. Finntroll were, in a word, incredible. They played a whole range of songs from their entire back catalogue, including from the days without current frontman Vreth, and absolutely treated the crowd with renditions of favourites such as Trollhammaren and Nedgang. The crowd was chanting their name before, during, and after their set, and could not stop screaming for more when their 45 minutes were up. Even though their appearance was fairly toned down, only daubing the snaking, branch-like body paint on themselves, Finntroll were all I had expected and hoped them to be. Plus, Vreth is a very attractive young Scandinavian, and his appearance is only improved by a beard. Enough about that!

Finally, we come to Sunday, and Celtic metallers Primordial delivered a set that pleased the crowd from start to finish. Playing that special brand of Celtic inspired folk metal, Primordial delivered a fantastically put together set that was altogether too short. A shame, as they were definitely on form. Hammerfall delighted the crowd with their ever-so-slightly-cheesy power metal- but to be honest, that’s all part of their charm. Frontman Joachim’s voice filled the arena with it’s powerful tones, and charmed the crowd through a selection from their entire history. From early track Hammerfall, to recent hits such as Blood Bound and Hearts on Fire, they did not disappoint, and managed to get almost everyone singing or dancing along to their fist-pumping metal. Legends of death metal Morbid Angel, surely amongst the names that drew the record number of people to Catton Hall, delivered a rattlingly brutal set of ‘extreme music for extreme people’, generating wave after wave of crazed crowd surfers, and sparking mosh pits that were actually quite shocking in their brutality, rivalling the record set by Kreator on Friday. The crowd that filled the arena was buzzing and feeding off the energy that the veterans gave out, and they definitely satiated the appetites of all those who had come seeking their brand of spine-shattering music. Sunday headliners, festival closers, and living legends, the behemoths of rock and roll that are Motorhead, were the perfect way to end the weekend. Lemmy, nearly unintelligable in his slurring Stoke drawl, delivered classic songs from all over his career in his trademark gravelly snarl, planting himself in front of his microphone with his bass guitar in hand and his cowboy hat firmly jammed onto his head. Fans from seven years old to seventy rocked out to timeless classics, including the obvious Killed By Death and Ace of Spades, and there wasn’t a head that hadn’t banged, or horns that hadn’t been raised, throughout the entire crowd. Pure adrenaline fuelling hard rock and roll, that only Motorhead can deliver. Raise your bottles of Jack and salute the Sex Legend himself, Lemmy Kilmister.

Bloodstock 2011. Three days. Four stages. Over 10,900 metal fans. An incredible weekend full of incredible performances. Same time next year?

Hannah ‘Hammi’ O’Flanagan

Bloodstock Open Air 2011 [Live Review] Part One

Posted in Live with tags , , , , , , on 26th August 2011 by Hannah

Bands: WASP, Finntroll, Kreator and more
Location: Catton Hall, Walton-Upon-Trent
Date: 12-14th August, 2011

Bloodstock Open Air 2011. A whole weekend (and a bit) dedicated to metal, metal, mud, booze and a bit more metal. A weekend full of dodgy food, over-priced but somehow incredibly delicious beer, and bands at every corner. Bloodstock provides the metal connoisseur with three stages chock-full of music to tickle all fancies; from unsigned but ridiculously talented bands at the New Blood stage, the headliners of tomorrow at the Sophie Lancaster stage, and the big names that draw the crowds on the Ronnie James Dio stage. Plus, as an added bonus, Bloodstock provides a temporary home for the Jaeger-truck and its’ low key acoustic stage, with a limited number of bands performing pared down, unplugged sets for the passing crowds. As I spent most of the weekend ducking and diving between bands I wanted to see on each of the stages, as well as gleefully making my way through security at the VIP section to conduct interviews, my experience of the festival was unlike the experience I had the previous times I had been. In some ways, I regret not enjoying the weekend like that sooner! Rather than stand around all day, trying to get a great spot by the barrier, watching bands I don’t particularly like on the Dio stage, I flitted from stage to stage and discovered a number of bands that I would have been oblivious to before. There’s something to be said about taking the time to go and check out the smaller stages; one of the highlights of my weekend took place in the Sophie stage, but I shall come to that in due course!

It makes sense for one to start off at the New Blood Stage, and work my way up to Ronnie James Dio. The first band I saw on the New Blood Stage was Primital, and what a good find they were. Primital filled the stage with an awesome amount of energy, and they really played well to the crowds. For such a small band, they had managed to pull in quite a number of people, and I think this is testament to the accessible, catchy and melodic metal they were playing. I found myself drawing comparisons with both 36 Crazyfists and fellow Bloodstock artists Wolf; they had good, thrashy riffs and melodic hooks throughout their entire set. My next foray into the New Blood world was with Rannoch, the progressive death metallers from the West Midlands. They were impressively technical, as each of their songs was comprised of neatly harmonised guitar lines and several changes in pace, which helped to keep what can occasionally drag on interesting. Vocalist/guitarist Ian cut an impressive figure onstage, filling the tent with his strong, brutal vocals and fronting a band that were well put together and very successful in delivery; although their set was far too short to gauge the fullness of their range, beyond generic technical death metal. Another of my surprise finds was Haerken, the medieval band hailing from Birmingham. I had seen the members of Haerken, dressed in full Medieval gear, handing out flyers throughout the weekend, and I was glad to say that they were more than just their gimmick. Prithee, their music doth enchant the mightiest of the warriors of Bloodstock of Olde, for they hath procured a crowd most worthy of the noblest bands. Their sound was melodic death metal, and they coupled this with their neatly put together Olde English aesthetic. It must be noted; they managed to draw a significant number of people into the tent and away from mainstagers Therion. Their songs proved that they have the talent and the substance to go with their image, and their short but sweet set proved that they are most definitely in danger of becoming a tour-de-force of the metal world. One last point- any band that comes armed with a plethora of inflateable swords and throws said weaponry into the crowd, in order to spark a war between ‘The Normans’ and ‘The Saxons’ will always be a hit with a Bloodstock crowd! Next up were Sheffield’s Northern Oak; and I must say, with a little more experience under their belts, they will be a blackened folk force to be reckoned with. After their slightly shambolic- but nevertheless entertaining and enjoyable- set on the Jaeger stage the day before, I was looking forward to seeing them in their proper environment. I wasn’t disappointed. They have a great energy live, with each member bringing their own eccentricity into the mix- from bassist Richard bouncing around the stage like a whirling dervish of unending energy, to flautist Caitie ethereally standing in front of the crowds, flute in hand and adding that special edge that sets them apart. Their music was at once both moshable and jiggable, and with a little superficial polishing, they will be great. Last but not least was Sanguine, with a unique sound that is truly all their own. The word unique gets thrown around alot; indeed, it seems to be a bit of a buzzword sometimes, but it is definitely one way in which to describe this band. Frontwoman Tarin commands a voice that is both banshee-like and beautiful, switching effortlessly from clean vocals to a haunting scream throughout song after song. Their sound was at times reminiscent of Tool-ish prog, other times reminiscent of classic metal, and other times even punky and violent. They have a groove and an attitude coupled with a spleen shaking metal sensibility, and an incredibly polished live act to go with it. From the moment the sirens started blaring as Tarin waved a Union Jack upon the darkened stage, to the end of fantastically irreverent song ‘Bangkok Nights’, Sanguine delivered a fantastic set. Their short time on the New Blood stage was not enough.

I only really managed to catch one band on the Jaegermeister stage, apart from Northern Oak’s extra set. Obsessive Compulsive, a Manchester-based band that scream high-energy, managed to tone their set down enough to deliver an accomplished and impressive acoustic set. It takes a special kind of talent to fill such a small stage with so much energy and- as singer Kelii put it- to ‘balls it up’ with such gusto. They drew a significant number of people in, to crowd under the awning of the Jaeger truck and listen intently to their well put-together set. We were treated to songs that Obsessive Compulsive would not normally be able to play live, and to raw, toned-down versions of others. A personal highlight for me was the song The Decay of Hope. Kelii’s impressive voice held an incredible raw passion and emotion that made the song both brutal and moving. An excellent band, with an impressive stage presence.

My one experience of the Sophie Lancaster Stage has to be one of the highlights of the weekend, period. Evil Scarecrow. To try and put into words how brilliantly entertaining and- to be frank- fucking awesome their set was seems almost impossible. But try I shall. They were a rare entity- a comedy band with both the wit and the slick showmanship, not to mention pure, epic talent, to back up their intense metal sound. Perfectly put-together, their stage show was full of nuances and choreographed moves that showed they were taking not taking themselves seriously, very seriously indeed. From goose-stepping during their opener, to running through the crowd and launching onto the bar to deliver an epic solo (that nearly eclipsed the four-note solo from earlier in the set, but not quite), they knew what they were doing, and they did it well. When they called for claws to be raised during Vampire Trousers, even toddlers complied. From breaking a Guiness World Record during the genius Robotatron, to covering motherfucking Thunder Cats, there wasn’t a low point during their set. Finishing with an almighty cover of Europe’s The Final Countdown, complete with singalong from the crowd, Evil Scarecrow were amazing. Enough said.

Hannah ‘Hammi’ O’Flanagan

Interview: Sanguine [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , on 26th August 2011 by Hannah

14/08/2011

Hannah talks to Sanguine during Bloodstock Festival, 2011

Hannah- Hi guys! So we saw you performing on the New Blood stage earlier. You’ve got a very unique sound; I know unique gets bandied about a lot! I was thinking earlier, normally when  you get a female fronted band, they either have the Nightwish style operatic vocals or the Angela Gossow manly vocals. Whereas Tarin has a very femine, harpy sort of sound.
Tarin- Banshee! That’s what I’ve been compared to!
Hannah- So, given that you have this very feminine front to you, how would you describe your sound?
Tarin- I don’t put on a voice, I just sing with my natural voice. The screaming is just something that I found that I could do, and it’s a very high pitched scream. I just love that. It’s two elements of the voice coming together; where you have a really singular note and then a rattle behind it.
Hannah- Yeah, it really adds to the emotion of your songs. Some of them have a really groovy bit, and when I was watching your set, I was reminded in places of Tool and similar bands.
Tarin- You noticed that? That’s insane, because we’re big Tool fans, but we also love lots of other genres, and lots of different bands within the metal scene. We started off as a prog rock band! And then we got heavier, and heavier, and heavier; the second guitarist left because we got too heavy! Then we ended up with the sound we’ve got now.
Hannah- Ah, so obviously Tool and proggy stuff are some of your main influences; who else would you say are big influences on you as a band, and as artists?
Tarin- We’re big grunge fans, so everything from Nirvana…
Nick- Soundgarden!
Tarin- Yeah, Soundgarden, everything like that. And then we’re metal fans, stuff like Metallica.
Nick- I’d say Faith No More is a really big influence for me.
Tarin- Oh, yeah in terms of vocals, he’s my hero. I want to be able to do everything he can do.
Hannah- I liked your range. I know you didn’t have a very long set, but the range of all your songs and stuff, and you’ve got your single and your album coming up… Do you like to ensure you have that? Without trying to haphazardly put it all together, yours seems to flow really well. Do you try to put the many faces of Sanguine on record?
Nick- I think the joy with Tarin is you can always recognise her voice. It gives us a lot of license to play around with different genres. Our default setting is heavy; but that’s more to do with us just happening to be heavy.
Tarin- We didn’t set out and say ‘Let’s go and be a metal band!’ We just set out and said ‘let’s create some sound’; it all happened very naturally.
Hannah- You can tell that, definitely.
Tarin- Thank you!
Hannah- So, is Bloodstock the biggest thing you’ve done?
Tarin- In terms of festivals, yeah. Professionally, the biggest thing I’ve done is work with Adrian Smith, which was a big honour. But in terms of gigs? Yeah.
Nick- We’ve also played with some pretty big bands, like Pitchshifter and Skindred, Evile; all sorts of bands. That’s been really good fun, ‘cos you get to perform, and then watch them afterwards!
Hannah- I guess the good thing about playing with such diverse bands like that, and with festivals like this, is that you get exposure to alot of people that might not look at you and want to pick up a CD.
Tarin- We appeal to all ages and all backgrounds. Our influences are quite eclectic, and with Faith No More being such a big influence… That’s eclectic in itself, with what they did with that project. I think we just want to make songs. We want to continue a theme of ‘let’s write a driving song’ and producing a song that you want to play when you’re driving your car.
Hannah- I think that’s a good theme and a good formula to have. Thanks for your time, good luck with the single and the album!

www.sanguineband.com

Sanguine’s single, For Love, is released on October 3rd. Their as yet untitled album is due for release in January 2012.

Interview: Northern Oak [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , on 25th August 2011 by Hannah

13/08/2011

Hannah nabs Northern Oak for a chat during Bloodstock Festival 2011

Hannah- Hi guys! You’re playing the New Blood stage tomorrow. Have you guys played this sort of festival before, or is it your first time at something of this size?
Chris- It’s the biggest thing we’ve played. I know a lot of people at Bloodstock will just wander around and stop to see a band; it’s pretty rare that you’d get that anywhere else.
Martin- The other thing we’ve done recently is Pagan Pride, but it’s not quite as big!
Chris- Yeah, that was last weekend. It was quite cool, it was in a bandstand in a park, with lots of people standing around.
Catie- I think we were maybe slightly too heavy for that crowd, though. All the other bands were a lot more folky and rocky.
Martin- There have been quite a few people here at Bloodstock that have come up to us and said ‘Ah! You were are Pagan Pride!’
Chris- Yeah, from our acoustic set earlier you wouldn’t have got that we’re quite so heavy. It was very stripped back. We’re going to play one of the songs tomorrow, Arbor Low, and you’ll see it in full power. It’s a lot more…
Martin- The amps are up to 11!
Rich- I’ll actually have room to run around on the stage.
Chris- He needs a runway. We have to actually plan a runway for him to go back and forth.
Digby- And I’ll be playing keys, which will be nice, because I’ll actually know the pieces.
Chris- Yeah, today we amped up the folk side. We’ve got some really talented multi-instrumentalists.
Martin- Yeah, Caitie can play more than one, Digby can play more than one…
Hannah- I must say, I got quite excited when you brought out the recorders!
Catie- They have a really bad press, because people associate them with squeaky primary school children.
Chris- We definitely upped that. We walked past earlier in the day, and we thought it was an acoustic stage, but there were people that were playing metal! Fair enough, but we’re going to ramp up the acoustic. It was a lot more twinkly than normal, we thought we’d concentrate on the cleaner bits.
Hannah- I think it’s good, because it will give people a chance to see the different sides of your stuff. I think you’ve been described as folk, black, progressive metal! Would you say that was fitting?
Rich- I hope not, because I hate prog!
Martin- I’m with Rich there! I suppose maybe in the mix of things, there’s prog.
Hannah- You can definitely see the the folk and the black sides, and I guess you can see the prog in your instrumentals and that…
Chris- I like prog!
Caitie- There are aspects. Normally when people see ‘folk metal’ I think they expect sort of jiggy Korpiklaani stuff, but we’re not really like that.
Chris- I think it’s the lyrics that are the most progressive part of it. A lot of progressive lyrics explore weighty concepts, and I don’t want to speak for Martin’s lyrics, but they’re definitely heavy! The last album was a concept album.
Digby- But thankfully we don’t do dragons.
Hannah- I was going to say, your music is very English in its’ folk sensibilities, because unlike the Scandinavians and their dragons and monsters, English folk tends to be about people.
Chris- I spent some time looking up a lot of English folk stories, to see what we have over here, and it’s not really got many mythical creatures.
Martin- There is a song about Gawain and the Green Knight.
Digby- Having said that, Chris, the one on this album that you wrote the lyrics for is about mythical creatures, is it not!?
Chris- It is! It is, I will admit. It’s Sylvan Lullaby, it doesn’t sound like trolls and elves and that. I’m reading the Hobbit, actually, and I like the bit about Mirkwood. I thought- I’m not going to write about Tolkein, but I’m going to take the thing about being trapped in the forest and trying to escape before dark.
Hannah- So, when you’re live and you’re all plugged in- it’s not just the mics and the bass guitar, would you say that it’s really different?
Rich- Oh, it’s more brutal. I would say so. There’s also the thing when we have four vocal parts in certain songs.
Chris- He’s very proud about his vocals.
Digby- I can’t sing, so I just play the keys.
Caitie- I can’t sing, but they force me to anyway.
Martin- The good thing about doing an acoustic set is we can do things we haven’t really played.
Chris- The first track was the intro track off of our album, and we haven’t played that live in ages. We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for it- we got told three weeks ago! They rang us and asked if we wanted to do an acoustic set, and we were like great! Now lets work out an acoustic set… argh!
Hannah- No pressure then! It worked out really well, though, you couldn’t tell! Anyway, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me guys, looking forward to seeing you ‘properly’ and plugged in tomorrow.

www.northernoak.co.uk

Northern Oak’s second full-length album, Monuments, is out now.

Interview: Obsessive Compulsive [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags on 25th August 2011 by Hannah

11/08/2011

Hannah sits down for a chat with Obsessive Compulsive at Bloodstock Festival 2011

Hannah- Hello guys! Cheers for chatting with me. So, obviously you are playing on Saturday; but, this time, you’re playing the Jaegermeister stage, which is acoustic!
Pete- Yeah, and it’s not even a stage!
Hannah- Oh, so should we call it the Jaegermeister piece of ground?
Kelii- The Jaegermeister yard.
Pete- Really, we’re just going to take over the whole arena.
Hannah- Quite right, just jump on! How do you think you’re going to translate into acoustic?
Giz- Well, we played an acoustic set at Download Festival, which was the first time we’d ever done acoustic.
Hannah- How was that?
Dani- Daunting.
Kelii- It won’t be quite as terrifying this time, will it?
Giz- It is kinda different, because obviously we aren’t an acoustic band, but we’ll just get up there and do our thing, and it’ll be cool.
Pete- We’re the heaviest acoustic thing you’ll ever hear!
Hannah- Well, I was going to say, actually, because your music is quite high energy, and acoustic tends to be really laid back and trippy.
Kelii- Yeah, our music is quite high energy, but we are quite eclectic; the whole album is very eclectic. It is quite different. We have a lot of slow songs that we don’t really want to play live, ‘cos we don’t really want to bring the mood down in the middle of a punky set, so it’s really good that we get to do something different.
Hannah- It gives you a chance to spread your wings.
Kelii- Yeah!
Pete- It translates surprisingly well; you’ve got the highs and the lows.
Giz- It’s really nice to do something like this as well, because people get to come and see a different thing, a different side to us.
Hannah- I guess what’s also different with acoustic is that everyone is so much closer, as well.
Kelii- This one will be really intimate, yeah. We can see their ugly mugs…
Giz- They can see our ugly mugs, too!
Hannah- So, your album has lots of different influences; would you say that you as a band have a particular sound?
Pete-  As said, it’s very eclectic. We have lots of different influences between all of us. It comes in from every different area and different genres.
Kelii- We all like really vastly different things. Between us all, we all like lots of different  styles. I’m not saying that we’re some kind of crazy band that sounds like nothing you’ve heard before!
Pete- We’re not trying to do everything in one go.
Kelii- Yeah, we don’t go out of our way to write really crazy shit, we just write what comes out. Sometimes it might take a grungey sort of sound, sometimes it might be more metal or punk, or even a bit of glam rock! We don’t really think about it too much.
Giz- Whatever comes out, comes out. We’re not trying to put any pressure on it, we’re just making our music; we’re just being creative.
Hannah- You can really hear that, because it all sounds really natural. Sometimes when bands try and do a different sound, it sounds really forced, but yours doesn’t, it all flows really well.
Kelii- Thank you! It all just sounds like us.
Giz- It’s ‘cos we’re all really rubbish at playing our instruments! Apart from Dani, Dani pulls it all together for us.
Hannah- So, how different is it then playing live than playing in the comfort of a studio, where it doesn’t matter if you get it wrong!?
Giz- Live’s always different because you’ve got the audience in front of you, and you’re feeding back off them.
Kelii- And you’ve only got one shot.
Giz- It’s all there in the moment, whatever happens happens. But playing live is what we’re all about. We love being on the road, touring and playing shows.
Hannah- Are festivals different yet again?
Pete- Yeah, you don’t have to go outside to smoke.
Giz- Festivals are really good fun, we really do enjoy playing festivals. If we can, we always love to come down and have a few beers with people.
Kelii- It’s especially nice to get out of Manchester where there are a bunch of knobheads being knobheads.
Hannah- A good thing about festivals like Download and Bloodstock is that you get heard by people who wouldn’t normally pick up your CD in a shop.
Giz- Yeah, it’s really important for us to get new people listening to our music.
Kelii- We’re still a tiny band.
Giz- Yeah, we still want to hand out flyers and talk to people, get them to come and check us out.
Pete- Everything’s so over-saturated in the media, there’s so much going on. So to actually get face to face with people and to get to show them what we’re made of.
Giz- It’s really great because we get to hang out with people. We’re here all weekend- if people want to come down and see us, then great. If people want to come and have a drink with us, then even better!
Pete- If people want to buy us beer, then ever better still!
Kelii- There are bands that are our size who are only here for the one day, and I don’t understand it! I will be there for as long as I possibly can.
Hannah- Exactly. Well, thanks very much for taking the time to talk to me, guys! I look forward to watching your set.

www.obsessivecompulsiveband.com

Debut album, Dreams Of Death And The Death Of Dreams out now, via Vociferous Records.

Band Of The Month [September – Voting]

Posted in Band Of The Month on 25th August 2011 by Nico Davidson

It’s that time of the month, where you get to vote for the next Band Of The Month!

Voting will last for one week [25th August – 31st August].

The nominees are:

Ziyos
Blodravn
Aonia
Ravenage
Entity

Bloodstock Open Air 2011 [Live Review]

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , on 21st August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Wasp, Therion, Motorhead and more
Location: Catton Hall, Walton-Upon-Trent
Date: 12-14th August, 2011

It’s August again – and time for the Metal Militia to mobilise, monster-like, and materialise in the munificent meadows of Catton Hall, Derby for another magnificent Bloodstock Festival.

Bloodstock is a festival ‘by the fans, for the fans’ and the organisers genuinely cater for this by running active online forums and IRC chatrooms (in which they participate), taking into account the festival-goers’ suggestions each year to improve the event. Having attended four previous Bloodstocks (2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010), Bloodstock 2011 was, by 12 parsecs, the best Bloodstock I have attended.

Disclaimer – I attended this festival as a fan and a punter rather than as official press. I was not able to see every band due to conflicting stage times, hangovers and basic human needs such as food, water and ale.  Additionally, while this review does cover bands in the black / death / grindcore genres, due to my personal preferences in music, I saw many more power / melodic metal acts, so the review will tend toward these bands.

Overall organisation

Having queued in the past for – literally – hours to enter, I was pleasantly surprised at the efficiency and organisation of the door staff. Arriving approximately half an hour after the gates opened, we were through the entrance and pitching our tents within 15 minutes.

The layout of Bloodstock was well thought-out, with the camping areas clustered around the main arena and festively named ‘Valhalla’, ‘Asgard’, ‘Midgard’ and ‘Hel’. ‘Hel’ was the quiet camp and provided a positive environment for families and others who did not wish to be disturbed by revellers late into the night.  A small fairground was set far enough back that the noise from the rides did not disturb the enjoyment of bands on the Ronnie James Dio (main) stage and a market brimming with music stalls and alternative clothing and jewellery offered a variety of products that can be difficult to find out in the mundane real world.

The only negative aspect of the layout is that, for the past two festivals, the New Blood stage is at the side, beyond the Ronnie James Dio stage and near the Bloodstock Arms bar. In 2008, the stage was placed between the arena entrance and the main stage, which meant that many bands drew in a crowd due to simply overhearing something they were interested in listening to. Its current placement meant that crowd members had to make a conscious effort to go and check out unsigned talent and this meant that some acts which could have had bigger crowds simply didn’t.

Four stages offered a variety of acts, with the Jaegermeister stage and Ronnie James Dio stage alternating showtimes, which meant that, without moving from a vantage point just behind and to the right of the sound desk, patrons could enjoy eight hours of almost interrupted music – without even venturing to the Sophie Lancaster tent (second stage) or the New Blood stage (which housed unsigned acts).  In general, as well, acts on Sophie and New Blood stages were of a different genre to the Ronnie James Dio stage, which meant that there was always something of interest to watch, catering for the wide variety of tastes that rockers have cultivated.

Security at the arena entrance was tight as they searched bags / pockets for weapons and alcohol (got to protect the beer sales in the arena!). Showsec staff, mostly, were pleasant, friendly and joked with the crowd as they filtered through. The proximity of the campsite and the efficiency of the Showsec staff meant that it was easy to move quickly between the camping areas and the main arenas. The festival cloakroom also provided a secure place to store bags, phones, coats and purchases from the market stalls – my husband and I purchased a weekend ticket at £16 and found the service invaluable for keeping our goods protected while he went to play in the circle pits for…pretty much the entire weekend.

Toilets, while offensive to the olfactory sense, were generally clean and well-stocked, especially in comparison to Download, Sonisphere and previous years.  Showers were available in the Midgard camp for £3.00, though a ‘no time limit’ policy meant that queues were longer than the M1. (I did not partake. I don’t have to smell myself.)

Jaegermeister stage

The Jaegermeister stage provided an acoustic venue and offered the opportunity to see bands in a different light and in what felt like an intimate environment.

Alternative Carpark – Mark (vocals) started the gig with a good crowd rapport, offering good-natured abuse to festival-goers as they walked past the stage following Coroner’s set. His clear baritone voice and easy nature drew in an audience, who appreciated friendly banter and the band’s distinctive, eclectic style. The mixture of metal and blues with a funk-style slapping bass got the audience grooving and created a feel-good atmosphere.

Rannoch – Unfortunately, I was not able to see this band ‘plugged in’ but their acoustic set showed their strength as musicians, with interplay and harmonies between the guitars and bass. The vocals oscillated between an accomplished death metal growl and occasional, contrasting clean vocals. The band seemed at ease on stage and the addition of an Irish drum (and drummer) borrowed from Middle Age-inspired death metal band ‘Haerken’ added a folk element that gave the music a unique dimension.

Obsessive Compulsive – Energetic and driving, Obsessive Compulsive’s set comprised dark, anthemic tunes complimented by Kelli’s powerful, gravelly, alto vocals. A confident frontwoman, she genuinely appreciated the audience’s enthusiastic response and expressed her gratitude to the festival for their work with unsigned musicians. As the bass pulsated, driving riffs and intricate guitar work got the crowd’s heads banging

Guardians of Andromeda – This band is one of my favourite finds of the weekend. An easy nature and sense of humour go a long way in a cosy environment like the Jaegermeister stage – and frontman Mikael has both in spades, along with a tenor voice that is reminiscent of Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian fame. Confident guitar work and haunting melodies with a tribal undertone further sustain the fantasy-world feeling of being transported to realm of mystery, honour and valour.  Layers of vocals gave a more orchestral feeling to the acoustic set. Joined by Sarah, of Zocolo fame for the last songs, intertwining tenor and alto vocals wrote a story which was supported by inter-band interactions reminiscent of powerful, classic musical theatre duets. Guardians of Andromeda’s music is a gourmet recipe, drawing ingredients from the whole world of music, rather than simply metal and the final product is nothing short of extraordinary.

New Blood Stage

The New Blood stage showcased some of the best unsigned metal acts that the UK – and Europe – have to offer. Venues across the nation and in Norway hosted ‘Metal 2 the Masses’ heats and the winners of these competitions were handpicked by Bloodstock organisers and the founder, Simon Hall.

Entro-P – Jake’s dark, driving bass pushes Entro-P’s songs forward and several tempo changes into Meshuggah-like non-standard time signatures are ably managed by Sean, giving Entro-P’s music a sensation that takes them out of the realm of normal run-of-the-mill death metal bands. Expert tremolo picking by the guitarists, along with several complex articulations combined to create a bed of nails upon which the growling vocals can rest. All elements merged to create a gritty, doom-laden sound that is heavy as a two-tonne weight in a black hole.

Training Icarus – Vacillating between dark, heavy songs and lighter, happier tracks, Training Icarus showed a breadth and depth to their repertoire and musical talent. Frontwoman Leigh displayed a strong passion throughout the entire set. Enchanting mezzo/alto/belter vocals rested comfortably on top of Maidenesque guitars and metronone-like, driving drums. Infectious, anthemic choruses became brainworms that refused to leave. (I found myself humming ‘Nightmares’ days after the performance.)  Orchestral accompaniments provided atmosphere between the songs. The backing track also sat low enough in the mix to add a subconscious feeling of fullness while sampled harmonised vocals emphasised key phrases and gave Leigh the opportunity to provide soaring descant ad-libs over repeated choruses. In a day when metal bands often never find their way out of minor keys, the bouncy, quick-tempo, major-key tracks provided a welcome contrast that left a happy, lively feeling.

Brezno – ‘Innovative, exciting and stunning’ are the three best adjectives to describe this band. Hailing from Slovenia, the seven-piece band’s half hour set on the New Blood stage took the crowd by surprise and by storm. Keyboards, violins, wind instruments and four vocalists, ably led by Sara wove a tribal blanket of sound that was comfortably worn by everyone in the New Blood tent. A traditional Irish folk feeling haunts Brezno’s music and the lilting melodies call forth images of warriors fighting for honour, justice and truth.

Soulsphere – Despite their vocalist being unable to attend, atmospheric doom metallers Soulsphere pulled off an energetic performance with ably ad-libbed lyrics provided by stand-in Gary from the band Fallen Few. Brutal, heart-pounding riffs overdriven by a thumping bassline and jackhammer-like drums offered a suitably aggressive base for Gary’s throaty growls. Soulsphere’s brand of in-your-face metal is like a left hook to the jugular – swift, brutal and leaves you gasping for breath.

Sacred Illusion – If Iron Maiden ever decide to retire and create a reality TV programme where the younger generation audition to replace them, these guys are it. The frontman – Bruce – beyond being the namesake of one of the best voices in metal, shares with Dickinson a stunning tenor voice with an operatic tone found in the very best power metal bands. A driving rhythm section created a strong foundation, which face-melting lead work uses as a launch pad into the heavens with spiralling riffs and anthemic melodies. Tighter than many signed bands, if Sacred Illusion carry on delivering blistering performances as they did on Sunday, they will skyrocket to the top of the metal mountain in no time.

Twilight’s Embrace – Dark doom metal with some floating melodies over the top comprised Twilight’s Embrace’s set. Frontman Dee effortlessly switches between clean vocals and a powerful, death metal-inspired growl. Clean guitar behind chugging power chords creates an ethereal sensation and lonely distorted lead creates echoes of emptiness reminiscent of some Opeth tracks.

Sophie Lancaster Stage

A new addition last year, the Sophie stage this year was much more effectively used to showcase a range of bands, giving crowdgoers an alternative to the music on the Ronnie James Dio stage.

Evil Scarecrow – Parody black metal is a risky style of music. Black metal in itself is quite obscure and oftentimes black metal fans can be somewhat elitist about the genre, rejecting what could be seen as an attempt at poking fun. However, Evil Scarecrow have persevered through being ignored by metal record labels and have, grass roots style, cultivated a massive fan base who packed out the Sophie tent (capacity approximately 3,000) on Sunday. Post-gig Facebook updates have also hinted that the band members themselves handle all merchandise sales – they are the very definition of a DIY metal band. Tight as a watch spring, the five-headed, ten-legged monster appeared overwhelmed and humbled by the response of the crowd, including several crowd members who came decked out in full robot regalia for the band’s signature tune ‘Robototron’. Tracks with interweaving melodies such as ‘Blacken the Everything’ and challenging changes between time signatures such as ‘Vampyre Trousers’ affirmed that the best way to parody any sort of music is to be accomplished musicians who write good music – then add in satirical lyrics and a ‘bloody’ good stage show! Doctor Hell’s sung introduction to the most metal cover of all – ‘The Final Countdown’ –  in a clean, strong baritone voice also proved what black / death / thrash metal fans have known for years: to be a good growler, you must first be a good vocalist! True fans of metal, the band members could be seen throughout the festival not just on the Sunday but throughout the weekend – and despite the overwhelming response to their music they were still humble, down to earth and genuinely thankful to the crowd.

Powerquest – With soaring, screaming guitar riffs that flew fast as lighting from the fingers of Andy Midgley and Gav Owen, melodic and atmospheric keys from Steve Williams and some frenetically fast drumming from Rich Smith, melodic metallers Powerquest unleashed a tsunami of sound that reverberated throughout the Sophie tent. Elevated over the top of this frenzied orchestration were supreme vocals from Chitral Somapala that cut through the music like a hot knife through butter. Reminiscent of Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire) and ZP Theart (ex-Dragonforce), Chitral’s operatic tenor voice and passionate performance provided the icing on the cake (an extremely powerful cake) of a musically accomplished band.

Amaranthe – An unusual blend of three vocals – a male growler, a clean tenor and a mezzo / belter female – Amaranthe has a very unique sound. With thundering bass and melodic guitars providing a scaffolding for these three to climb to the stars, the mixture of vocals was novel. I was disappointed to say that the sound during this set was of less quality than previous performances (at one point the left speaker stack cut out completely) so at times it was difficult to differentiate between Elize (female vocals) and Jake’s (clean male) vocals. Animated interactions between the vocalists onstage made the band fun to watch as well as listen to – a strong performance from all involved.

Ronnie James Dio Stage

Named after the fallen legend, the RJD stage was the main stage in the arena, housing the very best of metal talent from all over the world.

Wolf – Classic metallers Wolf, hailing from Sweden, put in a solid performance that was full of fun and life. Niklas and Simon’s lead and backing vocals intertwined like ivy and the guitars and bass provided a thrumming support that was like a magnetic draw to headbang. The band draws clear influences from 70s and 80s metal bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest which could be heard in their galloping riffs and seen in their enthusiastic stage show.

Forbidden – Circle pits erupted almost instantly during Forbidden’s set as Matt Camacho’s gritty bass thundered. Craig Locicero and Steve Smyth provided sweeping, face-melting accompaniment on the guitars with brutal, in-your-face riffs. Forbidden is a band grounded firmly in American early 90s thrash –reminiscent of very early Metallica – and these guys have stuck to this overall feeling in their music. Russ Anderson’s vocals – almost a scream, almost a shout and almost sung – add to the aggressive and brutal tone, building a 45 minute wall of anger that swept over the cloud like a thunderstorm.

Triptykon – Arising, phoenix-like, from the ashes of Celtic Frost, Triptykon’s heavy, doom-laden sound slowed down the pace of the day and provided a welcome rest from the circle pits and frenzied pace from earlier. Tom Gabriel Warrior’s part whispered, part growled, part sung vocals created a sense of intimacy in an open field designed for 10,000 people – not an easy task! Slow, heavy guitars painted a backdrop of darkness for the anger-fuelled lyrics and created a sense of trepidation in the crowd. Solos drifted over the top like a murder of crows, hanging heavy in the air.

Coroner – With a slow, melodic, acoustic introduction, Coroner misled audience members unfamiliar with their work to believe that their set would be a laid back one – this was definitely not the case! Self described as ‘technical thrash metal’, Ron Broder (bass) and Tommy Vetterli (guitars) illustrated this expertly, alternately juxtaposing intricate melodies and layering complex, galloping riffs that ploughed forward like a steam train. Marky Edelmann’s drums drove the music forward while never drawing emphasis from the melody at hand. Ron’s vocals were strong, a gravelly tone – almost a scream – and they rested comfortably on top of the guitars.

Wasp – Enthusiastic crowd interactions from front man Blackie Lawless created a feeling of togetherness in the crowd. The band seemed genuinely pleased to play the festival and they involved the crowd by running competitions and even pulling a fan from the crowd to sing ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’. Catchy songs and natural showmanship left the audience calling for more. Their choice of a ballad encore was unusual but finished off the day quite nicely, in a peaceful and happy ambience.

Tarot – Marco Hietala, of Nightwish fame, fronts this classic style metal band that were widely requested on the Bloodstock forums. Marco’s voice is incredibly unique – a gravelly baritone that often spirals into a higher, distorted tenor. Contrasted with Tommi Salmela’s classic rock style falsetto, the two men’s voices criss-crossed into a tapestry of pure energy. Zachary Hietala’s melodic guitar and Janne Tolsa’s keys similarly supported each other, alternating lead that floated above Marco’s metronome-like bass. Despite tripping over Tommi and one point and falling down backward onto the stage, Marco’s playing was solid and his frontmanship is second to none with humorous stories between songs and enthusiastic interaction with the crowd. The members are all clearly at ease and comfortable with each other, laughing their way through the set and genuinely enjoying each other’s company onstage, interacting effortlessly and occasionally poking fun at each other in a light-hearted way. Tarot appeared to really enjoy playing Bloodstock and the overwhelming sensation of happiness swept over the crowd, who eagerly chanted for them to return.

Finntroll – Black folk metallers Finntroll are repeatedly one of the most requested bands on the Bloodstock forum. With two keyboardists and three guitarists (‘Trollhorn’ doubles), intricately intertwining melodies rolled forth at the speed of light, evoking images of Middle Earth or of days long gone by. Catchy melodies flowed easily over heavy guitars and several pits erupted at once when they played their signature tune ‘Trollhammaren’ with several crowd members dancing Irish jig-style. Windmilling instrumentalists added to the spectacle and Vreth’s growling vocals fit easily into the mix, loud enough to be heard but not so loud as to distract from the melodies cascading from the keys and guitars. While it would have been nice to see the band in full regalia (fake troll ears and all), they put in an exciting and energetic show.

Ihsahn – Black / progressive metal, Ihsahn (from Emperor stock) provided – at times – screaming, blistering riffs that exploded off the stage, with aggressive, growling vocals and melodic keyboards. The machine gun-like staccato of the drums carried the melody forward in these tracks. Contrasting, slower songs carried a sense of trepidation, supported by the rasping black metal inspired vocals.

Wintersun – Hotly anticipated by fans who feared that the band would pull out of the festival, as they have in the past, Finnish folk metallers Wintersun did not disappoint. Switching between lightning-fast, syncopated, tremolo-picked, euphoric riffs that burst from the stage and slower, sweeter melodies that evoked a sense of peace and sorrow, Wintersun truly showed their range as musicians. Enthusiastic frontmanship accompanied a tight set. Jari Mäenpää’s vocals provided a rougher contrast to the smoothness of the music; his clear enunciation meant that his lyrics could be easily understood. Solid double kick drumming from Kai Hahto added to the frenetic feeling of the faster songs, while providing articulation and accompaniment to the slower tunes. The melody lines are infectious and memorable, providing a testimonial to the fans that their pleas for Wintersun’s appearance have not been in vain.

Therion – If Wagner had Marshalls, he would have written this. Combining the very best elements from classic opera and heavy metal, Therion is the most innovative band I saw throughout the weekend. Each song told a story, ably pantomimed and staged by four talented vocalists. Samples added to the orchestral, operatic feeling of the music, in addition to a melodic flute solo. The set started off slowly with ballads, and the band’s new mezzo soprano vocalist (Linnéa Vikström – Thomas Vikström’s daughter) was introduced. Lori Lewis’ coloratura soprano easily soared over the top of the other three vocalists, providing descants that spiralled into the stratosphere in a clear, piercing tone that would make Sarah Brightman jealous. As the band moved to heavier songs, the instrumentalists struck traditional metal poses, headbanging and interacting with each other, which juxtaposed effectively with the vocalists’ theatrical performances. The pent-up energy of the crowd exploded. The best way to describe this performance would be as a Gothic rainbow of energy and sound – eclectic, powerful and amazing.

Rhapsody of Fire – Possibly the most technically accomplished guitarist in the metal scene (if not the world), Luca Turilli’s fingers of flame did not disappoint the thronging crowd. With such an accomplished musician in a band, it can happen that other musicians become overshadowed – however, this was distinctly not the case! Patrice Guers’ jackhammer-like bass seemed glued with industrial strength adhesive to Alex Holzwarth’s drums, over which the guitars could leapfrog. Fabio Lione’s vocals were strong and clear, like golden laser beam shooting over the crowd. Christopher Lee’s voice provided a suitably epic introduction. The inclusion of the Italian language ballad ‘Lamento Erocio’, while a strange choice, was a fantastic performance, delivered with sentiment and intensity that brought a tear to the eye. Finishing strong with the frenetic, harmonised ‘Emerald Sword’, Rhapsody of Fire’s performance lifted the mood in the audience to euphoric levels and left them begging for more.

Hammerfall – With a slightly odd set list that left out a number of old classics (‘Renegade’ for one), Hammerfall, nevertheless, gave an enthusiastic performance with a number of songs that got the audience singing along, including the Quiet Riot cover ‘Bang Your Head’. Joacim Cans’ voice was on top form and his easy nature with the audience created a lively, fun atmosphere of celebration. Changing between slower, heavier songs (‘Last Man Standing) and technical, intricate songs that sped faster than a speeding bullet, Hammerfall clearly demonstrated their range as musicians. As they ended with the anthemic ‘Let the Hammer Fall’, the 45 minute set seemed far too short.

Motorhead – A statement released after Bloodstock explained that the three-piece hard rock band had been suffering from a virus which explains why their performance was not up to the standard expected by their fans. Firebreathing girls added some spectacle and guitarist Phil Campbell did his best to take over frontman duties, offering an extended guitar solo. Drummer Mikkey Dee had to leave the stage at one point but returned to perform a phenomenal drum solo from his perch high above the stage. Disappointingly, the band finished 20 minutes early after a somewhat lacklustre performance – while this was explained in retrospect on the Bloodstock forums, it would have been preferable to have that explanation on the night because, after the quality of music heard all weekend, the disappointing act of the final headliner left the festival on a bit of a down note. If there had been an official explanation before or just after Motorhead’s performance, the crowd would have been grateful to the band for making the effort to come on and play, despite less than ideal circumstances, rather than disappointed and annoyed.

Overall, Bloodstock this year was the best Bloodstock I have attended in terms of organisation, variety of bands and atmosphere. Well done to the organisers and roll on BOA 2012!

Melissa Adams

Home From Home Festival [Live Review]

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , on 21st August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Shadows Chasing Ghosts, Tides Of Virtue, The Demoraliser, The Colour Line, Sea Of Giants, The Departed, Forever And A Day, Hey! Alaska, Not Another Code Red
Location: Shades Night Club, Bridlington
Dates: 20th August 2011

Home From Home Fest, the second annual DIY festival, hosted by the East Coast Collective, was already off to a bumpy start as Swedish hardcore outfit Saving Joshua had dropped off the bill last minute – Not that this prevented all those in attendance from having a good time. The first band on stage were Bridlington’s own “Sea Of Giants”. They performed a good, solid set and were very active on stage. They received a good reaction from the crowd. Towards the end of the set, they performed an immense cover of “Pure F**king Hate” by Annotations Of An Autopsy. Sea Of Giants were a great choice to open the festival with, it was just a shame about the small numbers in attendance for their set.

The second band to perform were Hull-based “The Colour Line”. The entire band had brilliant showmanship and clearly a lot of energy to have remain active through out their entire set, especially their front man who moved in and around the crowd. Their set was tight and brilliantly played. The highlight of their set had to be “Glitter, Spandex And Egos”. Forever And A Day took the stage afterwards. Their set was energetic and tight and the frontman demonstrated great showmanship and crowd interaction. They played brilliant songs such as “If It Pleases You Darling (Pretend I’m Saying It)” and “We See Everything, So Play Nice” [Which can be found on their album “Last Orders”]. Forever and a Day’s set was great though lacking as their bassist was absent.

Hey! Alaska put on a good show, with the frontman interacting with the crowd between songs. Like the other bands, they played a good, heavy set which beamed with energy. Not Another Code Red had a heavy start to their set. They performed a brilliant hardcore rendition of Black And Yellow as well as some of their own songs such as All Or Nothing and Foundations. The Departed brought a great stage presence and positive attitude with them to the stage as they performed a very hyper set in which the crowd began a mosh pit to it. The Demoraliser performed an amazing, brutalising set which sounded raw and violent. they were one of the best bands of the night, which says a lot due to the immense quality of all the bands who played.

Tides Of Virtue performed a very active set, virtually bouncing all around the stage. They received positive feedback from the crowd for their violent and skull-crushing set. The headliners “Shadows Chasing Ghosts” finally took the stage, only to be greeted by a small crowd, which must have been upsetting for the band members though they still performed an awesome set which was very heavy, very tight and pleased the crowd.

Home From Home Fest was clearly an enjoyable experience for all those who performed and those who attended. Fans of hardcore and metalcore missed on a truly great festival. Hopefully, the next Home From Home Festival will be just as great, if not better.

Nico Davidson

Cerebral Bore – Manical Miscreation [2011]

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

Band: Cerebral Bore
Album: Manical Miscreation
Release year: 2011 [Re-release]
Genre: Death Metal/Grind


Glaswegian’s Cerebral Core are certainly doing nothing to rid the city of its hard man image, especially with their first full length album ‘Manical Miscreation’, re-released this April on Earache Records.

The album kicks off with the aptly name ‘Epileptic Strobe Entrapment’ with violently catchy riffs and drumming that makes you feel as if might fall into said epileptic fit at any moment. The riffing slides in perfectly alongside the rest of the instruments to create an odd sense of unease but in a very pleasant way.

The whole album exudes this frantic and energetic pace but with an underlying groove and holds not only the album together but makes it difficult to tear your ears away. It is violent, brutal and yet addictive listening.

Something very present in this album is a tongue planted firmly in cheek, which is very evident in the lyrics such as “Dead people taste good, just like chicken” from ‘Entombed in Butchered Bodies’. And of course, how can you not laugh at ‘24 Year Party Dungeon’ a song about Joseph Fritzl that has lines like “Joseph Fritzl, Fritzl, he is nice, Joe, Fritzl, 24 years of fun” and “She’ll see his evil pee pee.” They they don’t take themselves too seriously gives this album a fun atmosphere and makes it even more enjoyable
Cerebral Bore are certainly very talented musicians and manage to create something very catchy amongst the violent mayhem. The bass brings a groove that you don’t always hear in death metal nor grind and the guitars are vibrant and well written for. The drumming too is very well paced and uses more unusual rhythms rather sticking with the tried and tested.

Having a female vocalist adds another level to this band that works very well, her style is as savage as the rest of the band, if not more so. On ‘Flesh Reflects the Madness’ her vocals as vicious as a wolf attack and her pig squeals are very well performed.

There is also plenty of variation on this album, with the track ‘Manical Miscreation’ pulling back from the face crushing to slow down a little and allow the album breathing room. Many things on this album could drift easily into the generic and forgettable but is saved by clever writing and choosing their riffs and rhythms very carefully, helping this album to stand out from a crowd of faceless noise.

The flow of this album works extremely well, something that is helped by being very sharp, the right side of clean and very well executed. Cerebral Bore have all the right ingredients here to become huge.

4.5/5

Jade Hunter

Diamond Plate – Generation Why? [2011]

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

Band: Diamond Plate
Album: Generation Why?
Release year: 2011
Genre: Thrash Metal


Diamond Plate, hailing from the US, made their debut on the scene at in ‘04 with perfect timing as thrash metal was once again becoming popular. They established themselves as a top band in the newly emerging American Thrash Metal scene despite being a young band. Their first EP [Mountains Of Madness] was released when they were only 15 and now Diamond Plate are making a bigger name for themselves with the release of their debut album “Generation Why”.

The album begins with a mixture of radio skits and various other sound effects and voiceovers in the form of “Entertainment Today”. The radio skits and voiceovers are replaced towards the end by a face melting guitar riff mixed with powerful drums. The riff and drums carry on into the title track “Generation Why”. The vocals are somewhere between death metal sounding and metalcore sounding, to as whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen for the time being. The riffs and drum are passionately played with that good ol’ fashioned thrash-styled angst. “Pull The Trigger” brings about more thrash oriented aggression. The vocals are raw and the guitars are violent sounding, working well with the precise-to-beat drums. The guitar solo is very melodic with some brilliant composition whilst the drums in parts don’t seem to work with the solo.

“Tomb With A View” blasts next with more emphasis on a brutal, chugging riff mixed with the strong and rough vocals. There is some use of slightly melodic riffs as well adding a bit of flavour to the song as it seems to de dominated by the chugging riffs and death metal & metalcore sounding vocals. The drums would have to be the most impressive thing about this song though. “Fool’s Paradise” pulls no punches with thrash-orientated violent riffs though does to seem to lack a certain level of aggression and passion compared to the previous songs. The vocals are okay but don’t really mix well with the semi-heaviness of the song. The guitar solo seems half-composed and choppy in sections. The drum-dominated introduction of “Relativity” comes next. The riffs come crashing down on the listener’s ears like a tidal wave, full of passion and hostility. The foray of drums add emphasis to the driving force of the song as well. The guitars play some partially melodic sections, though most of the riffs are very thrash metal sounding.

”Waste Of Life” is a very brutalising track. The riffs are well composed, oozing with passion, energy and violence whilst have some melodic points to them as well. The vocals are sounding stronger, a great rebound from one of the previously mentioned tracks. The drums are precise and the riffs are mind blowing, just like the solo. “Causality Of War” begins with a heavy version of an old-skool sounding into which leads into a face-melting guitars-and-drums section. The vocals sound very primal that just adds extra bite to the both the song and the album. The drums are savage, barbaric and intelligently played. “More Than Words” takes a more chilled approach to the music, which in all honesty, was bound to happen somewhere on the album. The track does go partially heavy with what sounds to be some effects on the guitars every now and then. There are no vocals as the track is more like one long guitar solo – One amazing solo to be exact.

“At The Mountains Of Madness” brings the barrage of thrash back onto the album. The vocals are bloodthirsty and savage, blending well with the hurricane-like riffs and pounding drums. The use of gang vocals are great, adding a new sound to the song. The bass-only section about halfway through  is genius but very surprising though the guitar solo that shortly follows is the track’s highlight. The album finishes with the lengthy song “Empire Tomorrow” which begins in typical thrash metal style. The vocals are beastly and rage-fuelled, much like the guitar riffs. The music changes several times though still keeping the thrash elements assaulting the listeners’ ears. One thing that really does stand out about this song is some of the fancy bass work in sections. “Empire Tomorrow” is best song on the album, hands down.

”Generation Why?” is a clear sign of things to come from the American Metal Scene for a while and by the sounds of it… It’s going to be some majorly great stuff. Diamond Plate really do raise the bar for other bands to try reach and no doubt Diamond Plate will carry on raising that bar in years to come. If anything, “Generation Why?” is the first step in a long and successful run for this young band, who have the potential to become the Iron Maiden of thrash metal.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

White Wizzard – Flying Tigers [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 19th August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: White Wizzard
Album: Flying Tigers
Release year: 2011
Genre: Classic Heavy metal


Though being a long time listener to Heavy Metal the album „Flying Tigers“ (released via Earache) is my first contact to White Wizzard which was founded in 2007 in Los Angeles. Before listening to the music I’ve tried to get some information about the band it’s history and it´s current members. My first attempt led me to the band’s homepage (http://whitewizzard.net/) and (surprise) there is almost not a single information to be found. So I followed the MySpace link that is placed on the homepage and (surprise again) the last update of the band’s MySpace-Site was made in October 2010. No further information wherever you look. Next I checked out Google and (why am I not surprised anymore?): no relevant hints.

Only Wikipedia knows little about the band, but I don’t want to bore you with it because it is hardly worth mentioning.
So finally I came to the conclusion, that White Wizzard is not the most lively band in the world.

But now let us take a closer look at the music now. After first listening to the album I thought it was a little boring. But being a great fan of fair play I decided, to give White Wizzard a few more listening sessions. And after one day of heavy rotation I knew it´s a little boring. White Wizzard play classic Heavy Metal. The songs are always melodic, some are faster, some are not. Thirty years ago they would have been exciting but nowadays they are only one among millions. Please do not misunderstand: The music is not bad, the songs contain a lot of sing-along tunes, the arrangements sound professional, the production is powerful (yet a little too polished), the musicians know how to play their instruments and the singer is really good. They play their music in the tradition of early Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, etc., unfortunately without the rough and aggressive attitude that characterized those pioneer bands. And even the classic Heavy Metal has undergone some changes and developments (see Hammerfall, Edguy or Sabaton) and these influences seem not to have touched White Wizzard. If you asked me about any outstanding song on this album you could see me shrug. Sure, “Starchild”, “Demons and diamonds” (more than 9 minutes long), “Dark alien overture” (jazzy influences and great guitar works) and “War of the worlds” with a slightly oriental touch (by the way: the second half of the album is definitely the better one) are remarkable pieces of hard rock music but all songs lack the special something that makes them being a classic song.

So who should buy this album? I think it´s an album for all those who liked the early metal albums, especially those that were released during NWOBHM. If you don’t expect to discover a new “Frost and fire”, a yet unknown “Melissa” or another “Angel witch” you’ll probably be satisfied.

All other friends or pure Heavy Metal: At first try the originals.

3/5

Thorsten

Rival Sons- Pressure & Time [2011]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 16th August 2011 by izaforestspirit

Band: Rival Sons
Album: Pressure & Time
Release year: 2011
Genre: Blues Rock

‘Pressure & Time’ is the second album from Californian blues rockers Rival Sons. Now before I start I would like to say that I’m not really familiar with this kind of music and this is the first time that I’ve heard of the band. So for the next few minutes close your eyes and pretend that you’re in a small American diner. You’re still waiting for your quarter pounder/veggie burger and fries when a local band starts their set…

First up is a catchy little number ‘All Over the Road’. This is destined to be a crowd pleaser with a chorus anyone can sing along to and some good guitar riffs.  Same goes for the next track ‘Young Love’ which for some reason reminds me of Elvis mostly due to the vocal style.

Other notable tracks include the ‘Pressure and Time’ where the ‘rock n’ roll’ influence becomes is plain for all to see.  This has all the ingredients you need for a good ‘rock n’ roll’ song:  catchy guitar tunes complemented by an equally catchy chorus and good backing vocals. The same can be said for ‘Get Mine’ and ‘Save Me’.

Overall whilst it may not exactly be my style I do acknowledge the quality of this album. If Rival Sons turned up to play at my local pub I would probably stick around to watch.

3/5

Iza Lesniak

Powerwolf – Blood Of The Saints [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 16th August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Powerwolf
Album: Blood Of The Saints
Release year: 2011
Genre: Power Metal/Werewolf Metal 


Powerwolf, well known for their grim sounding music, are back with their latest album “Blood Of the Saints”. The band’s keyboardist Falk described the album as “100% Powerwolf” and stated it will take off from where “Bible Of The Beast” finished. The new album [Blood Of The Saints] was recorded in five different studios and a church and brings back the use of classical elements that were also found on the previous album.

”Angus Dei” [Latin for the Lamb of God] is the introductory track of the album. The choir and church bells create a very grim, dark and eerie sound and atmosphere. The narrated voiceover adds emphasis to the haunting sound, as do the organs that soon follow. The track ends somewhat terrifyingly when the voiceover grimly says “Blood Of The Saints”. “Sanctified With Dynamite” starts brilliantly with the combination of vocals, guitars, organs and drums. Shortly after, the track is soon more guitar and drums orientated, speeding up the pace of the song. The vocals mix a strong operatic sound with a raw, almost-thrash metal sound which is interesting – Though in some sections, the vocals are purely operatic. The organs add the dark sound to the music which Powerwolf are so famous. The drums mix well with the changing sounds in the song as well.

The grizzly titled “We Drink Your Blood” begins with an interesting keyboard medley that is soon enough replaced by a heavy, face-melting guitar section – Fortunate for those who may not like keyboard medleys. The vocals are still raw sounding with that touch of operatic sound, though much lower on this song – Which isn’t a bad thing. The chorus well composed, adding a grim touch to the lyrics. The organ sections help bring a touch of Victorian-styled horror to the song and the drums are precise to the beat. The choir style vocals help the song sound extra Gothic.

“Murder At Midnight” seems like a name for a cheesy 1950s horror movie but the track is far from cheesy. Beginning with a slow, atmospheric guitar riff, the vocals creep in softly, painting the musical canvas with brilliant lyrics. After the first vocal section, the song picks up the pace and becomes heavier as well. Musically, the song seems a tad cheery for what a Powerwolf track though the vocals assure the listener that it is still Powerwolf that they’re listening to. The organs add a gloomy touch to the song when they’re played. Some of the riffs are pretty melodic, adding a brilliant sound to the song. The guitar solo virtually completes the song. The use of a wolf’s howl after the solo is a great effect for the song. The next track, “All We Need Is Blood”, begins with strong, low-sounding operatic vocals, choirs and organs. The guitars and drums, fortunately, follow straight after bringing an assault of metal of with them. Lyrics that are heard in the song such as “All we need is blood” makes the song sound like a vampire metal anthem, though any fan of Powerwolf will know there’s another story within the lyrics. “All We Need Is Blood” is certainly one of the best songs on the album, both lyrically and musically, as it changes sounds several times, making it a worthy power metal anthem!

”Dead Boys Don’t Cry” has a haunting introduction made up of primarily organs and vocals with a slight use of guitars. When the guitars begin to dominate the track, the temp increases massively. The vocals are more raw and aggressive than they have been. Even the music seems to have more bite to it. “Son Of A Wolf” brings back the use of melodic riffs with a raw edge. The vocals and organs add a very grim atmosphere and sound to the song. The guitars and drums are well played and the guitar solo is amazing. “Night Of The Werewolves” starts with a soft, palm-muted intro which is slightly drowned out by the organs and vocals. The power metal sound comes belting out of the speakers straight after however, favouring aggression and speed over melody it seems. The vocals mix their raw sound with an operatic sound once more. The riffs sound violent and bloodthirsty and the drums despite being precise, have a hint of barbaric aggressiveness to them. The vocal melodies in the chorus are hypnotic and catchy. The raw sounding narration, spoken in Latin, adds a very unique sound to the song.

”The Phantom Of Funeral” begins with choirs and organs, giving it a very dramatic feel. The vocals are, again, raw and angsty. The guitars don’t have much punch to them on this track in some sections. The vocal are extremely impressive throughout this track and the drums are masterfully played. “Die, Die, Crucified” begins with a very catchy riff which stays in the listener’s head for hours on end. The vocals are back to sounding more operatic. The use of melodic riffs make their return to this track as well for the chorus. The vocals are very majestic sounding, which is strange for Powerwolf but works awesomely at the same time.

The album finishes with “Ira Sancti (When The Saints Go Wild)”. The intro organ section sounds eerily similar to the keyboard riffs of “Nymphetamine” by Cradle Of Filth. The vocals blend well with the organ section before the guitars and drums kick in. The organ and vocals carry on doing their part even when the chaos of guitars and drums break in. The track is mostly dominated by organs and vocals, though the other instruments do appear in various sections. “Ira Sancti (When The Saints Go Wild)” brings a very mystical end to the album.

”Blood Of The Saints” is an interesting album from the Teutonic-Romanian metallers that are “Powerwolf”. They have outdone themselves with the mixture of metal, choirs and classical elements. While some tracks are fairly mellow, the others have plenty of bite, so there’s plenty for everyone on this album – even if you’re not a fan of Powerwolf’s unique form of power metal, this album is worth every penny and would make a great addition to your album collection.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Eyecult – Morituri Te Salutamus [2009]

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

Band: Eyecult
Album: Morituri Te Salutamus
Release year: 2009
Genre: Black Metal/Death Metal

”Eyecult” features members of dark metallers “Anachronaeon”. Their album “Morituri Te Salutamus” was released via Ewiges Eis Records in 2009.

“Aeternum”, which is Latin for “to eternity”, starts the album with a loud and brutalising sound. The double bass drums and guitar riffs work brilliantly together and the vocals are raw and angsty. The energy and heaviness of the track flows like a tidal wave onto the eardrums of the listener. “Saligia” blasts its way next more vehemently than the previous song. The aggressiveness and violence seems to have been turned up a notch as well. There’s a use of melodic riffs that add a certain beauty to the chaos of the music. The vocals are an extremely enjoyable part of the song as well.

The third track, “Furor”, starts with a fast-paced, bone-smashing intro – the kind that would make the listener go deaf if listening to it on full volume with headphones in. The vocals are much louder and heavier as well. The drum work is very technical and precise to the beat. There are one or two slow-ish, melodic parts that add a new dynamic to the song. “Skuld” begins with a similar intro to “Furor”, only much more bloodthirsty, violent and hateful. The use of slightly melodic riffs works well with the brutality of the song as well, strangely enough.

”Oblivaeon” has a very drum-heavy introduction with a good use of guitars. The vocals, raw and untamed, are simply brilliant adding a great touch to the song. The whispered section that turns into growls adds a very haunting and mystifying sound to the song, which is both unexpected yet pure genius. “Ashes” brings a more melodic sound to the album with its introductory riff. It does take a brutalising turn into some seriously angry death metal riffage though there is still a lot of emphasis on the melodic sections. The album finishes with the song “Slave”. The intro is an odd one as it mixes slow drum work with fast-paced guitar riffs. Despite being an odd intro, it sound amazing. When the vocals come in, the drum work speeds up. The guitars are raw and powerful, much like the vocals and drums.

The only negative point to be made about this album [Morituri Te Salutamus] is the sound quality. It’s too clean and well-produced in terms of the sound quality, which does take a lot away from the strong, raw and aggressive sound of the music. However, overall, the album is an ingenious death metal release and will get any death metal lover banging their heads along to the music.

4/5

Nico Davidson

UNEARTH – Darkness in the Light [2011]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 13th August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: UNEARTH
Album: Darkness in the Light
Release year: 2011
Genre: Melodic Metalcore

It’s hard not to detect the Machine Head influence when listening to this album. Not only does the opening track ‘Watch it Burn’ feature Machine Head style- guitar riffs it also has “burn your eyes” in the lyrics. Shame they had to add the yelping backing vocals which ruin an otherwise catchy and well composed track.

‘Last Wish’ suffers from a similar problem. It starts off well, the guitar solos are good but once again the backing vocals ruin the effect. Luckily the album has a few hidden gems – ‘Arise the War Cry’ is quite possibly the best track on here with a great intro and several catchy guitar solos. At times I almost forgot that this is a Metalcore album.

‘Equinox’ offers an interesting change in style. I really wasn’t expecting to hear a piano on here. The intro is surprisingly melodic and it’s not until the vocals kick in half-way through the song that you realise this is still Unearth and not some gothic metal band.

Overall this isn’t too bad and I’m actually surprised to say this.

Iza

3.5 /5

Arcane Grail – Arya Marga [2009]

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

Band: Arcane Grail
Album: Arya Marga
Release year: 2009
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal


Russia, once home to the most known communist dictatorship, is fast becoming the home of a an ever growing Extreme Metal scene featuring bands such as Blackthorn, Artania and Arcane Grail. 2009 saw the release of Arcane Grail’s most recent album “Arya Marga”.

The album begins with the self-titled track “Arcane Grail”. The intro is now what would be expected of a black metal band, as the intro is more clean and less aggressive than most tracks classified as track metal. The female vocals are unexpected though when their first part finishes the track transforms into a raging demon. The vocals that follow after sound almost like Nergal’s [Behemoth’s frontman] vocals. The use of double bass pedal adds a certain devilry to the track, whilst the keyboard sections are somewhat gothic in their style and the guitars scream aggression. The female vocals add a new sound to the song overall, though they sound too operatic in sections.

”Of Snake And Raven” begins with a calm, melodic piano medley and strong soprano styled vocals – A tad cliché in terms of the symphonic elements. The guitar sections are heavy and the male vocal parts are raw and aggressive, though the track seems to be more symphonic than metal. “Autumn Wed Us, Sinned And Lone” has a very dramatic and tense symphonic introduction, similar to those of old Nightwish. The guitar riffs are more akin to progressive and power metal as opposed to black metal. The female vocals make another appearance alongside the harsher, more raw male vocals. The keyboard medleys and riffs add a very Gothic-like element to the song, whilst the male vocals add a very death metal sound.

“Renaissant The Reverie” has a very thrash-black metal sound to begin with, mixed with the dramatic symphonic sounds. The vocals are like the demonic wailings of a banshee whilst the female vocals add a very Heavenly touch to the song. The drum riffs are precise to the beat, almost like a machine in their playing. The symphonic elements are very dominant as well with a heavy use of guitars as well. The sorrowful piano beginning of “Sorrow Of Forgotten Pride” follows after. The piano medley does much to create atmosphere. Clean male vocals and soft acoustic guitar riffs follow after, carrying on the solemn sound of the song. The female vocals work magically alongside the clean, male vocals. The track does turn heavy and there’s a use of flutes as well which adds a very mystifying effect to the music. The harsher vocals are featured towards the end, adding a very aggressive touch to the song.

“Imprisoned In The Greatest War” has a very interesting introduction, being composed of the sound of soldiers marching and a military drumroll. The track turns heavy after the sound of a bomb exploding. The riffs have a more black metal sound, combined with the grim screams. The symphonic sections seem to be drowned out by the guitars, drums and vocals – To as whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is something for the listener to decide. “Die Sonnenhymne”, put bluntly, is a buzzkill if the listener if expecting more Russian brutality as the track is composed only of soprano vocals singing in Russian.

“Iniquitous Yoke” brings the brutality and aggressiveness back in full blitzkrieg-like force beginning with a beastly guitar section and demonic vocals. The keyboard sections are astounding and the operatic vocals add a very dramatic touch to the song. The album finishes with “Svyatoy Graal’”. The intro is slower and cleaner than expected and there seems to be a slight more emphasis on the female vocals than the previous track. However the track does take a dangerously violent twist and become more bloodthirsty and rage-fuelled. The track does switch between calm and angry however and there is a wonderful section with a voiceover in what sounds to be Russian.

Though the album seems incorrectly labelled as “symphonic black metal”, Arya Marga has plenty of brutal riffs and brilliant symphonic sections to keep the listener entertained. Arya Marga is a sure sign that many great things will be coming from both Arcane Grail and the Russian Metal Scene.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Malefice – Awaken The Tides [2011]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 12th August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Malefice
Album: Awaken The Tides
Release year: 2011
Genre: Thrash/Death Metal/Deathcore


I’ve really tried to like this album yet despite my best efforts there’s just too much metal-core influence here for me to give it a good review.

Here’s why:

Like most of the album, the opening track ‘Awaken the tides’ starts off well. The guitar riffs remind me of Immortal whilst the vocals and the melodic parts reflect At the Gates’ “Slaughter of the Soul”. Sadly this is the only decent song on here.

There are other tracks that stand out but they do so for all the wrong reasons. Take ‘Minutes’ for example. It starts off like a disco track, followed by a progressive part complete with metal-core vocals then there’s what can only be described as an attempt at a ‘rock ballad’, followed by more metalcore. To top off this cacophony is a tranquil instrumental bit at the end. Quite possibly one of the weirdest songs I’ve heard in a long while. It sounds like a jamming session at the studio only somebody accidently pressed the ‘record’ button!

The opening guitar riff on ‘Baying for Blood’ that sounds like it’s been taken directly from Tyr’s ‘Hold the Heathen Hammer High’. The guitar solos halfway through the song offer are a welcome relief from the metal-core vocals. Same can be said for ‘Flood of Red’. Sadly in both cases this is short lived as any atmosphere created is ruined by the vocals.

The intro on ‘The Day the Sky Fell’ sets an eerie atmosphere with melodic undertones and an apocalyptic movie soundtrack feel to it. That is until the vocals kick in and once again the atmosphere is ruined. Such a shame!

Iza Lesniak

2/5