Archive for October, 2011

Svikt – I Elendighetens Selskap [2011]

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

Band: Svikt
Album: I Elendighetens Selskap
Release year: 2011
Genre: Black Metal

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Svikt (Norwegian for “impairment”) are a virtually new band within the Norwegian Black Metal scene. “I Elendighetens Selskap” (Roughly translated as “Of misery company”) is their debut album.

The first track of the album is Morkne Røtter (Loosely translated as “decayed roots”). Straight away, there is a strong hint of influences from the Norwegian black metal scene of the early 90s. The guitars have a raw, unpolished sound whilst the vocals are guttural and grim. The drums aren’t particularly impressive but they do keep up with the guitar and bass easily enough. Following straight after is the more barbaric sounding “Maktesløs” (“Powerless”). There is a heavy emphasis on the use of cymbals – An odd thing to combine with the savage riffs being cruelly executed on the guitar and bass. The vocals are reminiscent of early Dimmu Borgir, Gorgoroth and Immortal. The lighter guitar section in the second half of the track comes as an unwelcome change, ruining completely the adrenaline that the track had got flowing.

”Nattfall” (“Nights fall”) begins in a similar vein as “Maktesløs”. The drums, however, are more technical with an added touch of cymbal overkill and blast beats. The guitar sections have a very rough edge mixed with a dirty sound. It’s certainly one of the more better parts of the album. “Vi knekker sammen” (We are cracking up”) has the feeling of a Satyricon track for some unknown reason with a near enough copy-cat sound of the previous track. The fifth song of the album comes next, entitled “Lemlestet fordumssyn” (“Mutilated ancient vision”) ripping through with a much heavier element than the last four tracks. The guitars seem to have taken on a more gut-wrenching sounding while the drums are more fierce, violent and demonic in their playing. The vocals sound blasphemous as well, adding that special black metal element to the song.

”Gråbein I Fåreklær” (“Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”) comes in with a weak introduction. The guitar riffs can’t seem to choose between heavy or melodic and poorly attempting to fuse the both. The vocals sound strained to an extent – Truly disappointing as they sounded great on the previous tracks. The guitars come back stronger later on in the track, fortunately – Even if they do overpower the drums several times. The second to last song on the album is none other than “A misteg in the wind” (“A Step In The Wind”). The introduction feels like a Gorgoroth track from the “Pentagram” album of ‘94. The drums are truly aggressive, virtually dominating the entire song but they are overused heavily. The album finishes with “La tonene tale” (“Let your voices note”). The introduction is soft like a Nickleback track until the distortion of the guitars booms out of the speakers. The drums seem to be filling places they shouldn’t be played in at all but the guitars have some truly strong parts on the track. One key thing about the track is the lack of vocals.

”I Elendighetens Selskap” isn’t anything special. The crude sound quality places emphasis on the band’s old school Norsk svart metall sound but the album sounds like any old black metal album. The drums are heavily overused which doesn’t do any justice for the band or the album. If Svikt want to get somewhere then they’ll have to up their game and try bring something new to their music rather than repeat what was done in the ‘90s.

3/5

Nico Davidson

All translations of the song titles are loose translations and should not be taken as the literal or correct translations.

Vikings Set To Ravage York (Again!)

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 18th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

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The Vikings are invading York! Next February sees the Jorvik Viking Festival take place once again. And once the battle is over on Saturday 18th Feb, the mighty Faroese Viking Metal band Tyr will be performing their first ever U.K headline show. Could there be a more fitting culmination to this event? We think not!

The concert, in association with Asgard and the Jorvik Viking Festival will take place at Fibbers on Stonebow – a mere axe throw from the famous Viking Centre itself.

The line-up is confirmed as Tyr, with support from Yorkshire heathen metallers Ravenage and the Glasgowegian black metal band Maelstrom.

Tickets are priced at £16 and can be purchased from the venue, the usual outlets or direct from Asgard’s event page at: www.asgardonline.co.uk

Asgard Online are also sponsoring Valkyrian Festival 2011. 

Malefice Announce New Guitarist!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 17th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

After standing in for Alex Vuskans on the band’s recent UK tour with Sylosis, Malefice have announced that Andy Wilson will take over on a permanent basis.

Andy Wilson had the following to say: “I am very excited to be taking on the Malefice slot full time, the Sylosis tour couldn’t have gone any better and the musical chemistry is undeniable. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the band.”

Frontman Dale Butler also added: “There’s always controversy surrounding a band member leaving in any band. But I can’t stress enough how there is none in this situation. Alex felt he could no longer continue to give 100% to Malefice, and between us we decided that it would be better for him to leave. Alex is closer to me than most of my family, he’ll always be my brother no matter what and nothing will change between us all on a personal level.

Those of you that saw us on the Sylosis tour will have seen Andy at work. The guy is a fucking machine, and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have as my lead guitarist! Andy has already brought new ideas to this band that we’ll be working on together in the future!”

Upon his departure from the band Alex Vuskans bows out with this: “I just want to say a massive massive thank you to everyone that’s come to the shows, bought our albums and supported myself and the boys over the last 10 years that I’ve been in Malefice. You guys are awesome and have helped create memories that last with me for a lifetime. I also want to go on record and state that there is NO bad blood between myself and the other members in the band; they still and always will be my brothers no matter what. I simply feel that now is the time for me to try new things in my life, whatever they may be. I wish nothing but success to the guys for the future and look forward to following their continued journey as a fan and not an active member. It’s been emotional!”

Malefice have announced they will play two very special shows in October. Having just finished up a monstrous tour with Sylosis and label mates Anterior the Reading outfit have been added to the bill of the Metal Hammer 25th birthday party in London along with Orange Goblin, Dirty DC and more to be announced. Tickets are at a 1986 price of £2.50!

A week later they will join Skindred, Therapy?, Rolo Tomassi, Yashin and The Treatment at the Jagermeister ‘Ice Cold In Birmingham’ special on the 31st.

From The Depths Compilation Track Listing Finalised

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 16th October 2011 by Nico Davidson


The track list for From The Depths, which will be available for free download on 17th October, has now been finalised. The compilation will feature tracks by The Obscene, Windrider, Aloeswood, Cryptic Age, Escape From and many more from the international underground music scenes. The compilation will also feature an exclusive, currently unreleased track by Lancastrian metal outfit Wolfthorn. The track list is as followed:

1. ESCAPE FROM – Oni
2. THE DOSADI EXPERIMENT – Predestination For The Labyrinth
3. BLODRAVN – Words Of The High One
4. AONIA – Gift Of The Curse
5. CELTACHOR – In The Halls of Nuada
6. WINDRIDER – Hall Of The Slain
7. BAALBERITH – God that Never Was
8. WOLFTHORN – Light The Beltane Fires
9. REPULSIVE VISION – Force Fed Acid
10. EINHER SKALD – Drinking In Valhalla
11. CRYPTIC AGE – On The Bare Cold Ground
12. HER DARK EMBRACE – Flatline
13. GÜRZ – Göç
14. PASTEL JACK – Trojan Horse
15. ZIYOS – Ascension
16. FOREVER AND A DAY  – Heebeegeebees
17. MORLICH – A Throne in the Darkness
18. THE OBSCENE – Embrace Oblivion
19. ALOESWOOD – Nostalgia
20. NORTHSONG – Mountains Of Madness
21. THECITYISOURS – Ghosts
22. DEFORMATION OF MAN – Dust & Sound
23. HRAFNLBLÓÐ – The Battle (Of Teutoburg Forest)

Cradle Of Filth – Evermore Darkly [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 15th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Cradle Of Filth
Album: Evermore Darkly EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Extreme Gothic/Extreme Metal

Cradle Of Filth have been dubbed the most successful British metal band since Iron Maiden and have forever been the subject of controversy regarding their genre. Following the 2010 release of “Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa”, the new EP “Evermore Darkly” is the companion piece to the 2010 album release, featuring two new tracks and some alternative versions of some of the tracks from “Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa”.

The first track of the EP is none other than “Transmission From Hell”. It really does leave the listener wondering what the point in the track is as it’s nothing than the sounds of electricity and someone talking about copies of “The Sounds From Hell” – a hoax regarding Russian scientists and a supposed “well to hell”. “Thank Your Lucky Stars” carries on from “Transmission From Hell”, beginning with a typical Cradle Of Filth styled intro. The vocals are mediocre and weak sounding but you can easily tell that it’s Filth. The higher pitched screams of Filth sound very strained. The guitars favour melody over heaviness, not that that there is much melody in their playing. The drums are the part of the track that actually keep any sort of excitement flowing through in the music though the guitar solo does offer up some enjoyment for the listener’s ears.

The third track is the “elder version” of “Forgive Me, Father”, the final track from “Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa”. The guitars sound like fingernails being dragged down a chalkboard. Dani’s vocals don’t sound that much better compared to the album version of this song. One key difference is the female vocal sections being performed by Filth, which, put in the nicest way possible, is like being forced to listen to Black Veil Brides. The lack of keyboards gives the song a more raw feel but takes away the symphonic element that COF fans are used to.

The extended version of “Lilith Immaculate” follows after. The keyboard and orchestrated sections perhaps offer the most pleasurable sound to the listener’s ears as the vocals sound like Justin Bieber attempting metal. The female vocals sound oddly like those of Sarah Jezebel Deva’s, which is strange as she’s not been apart of COF since the recording of “Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder”. The guitars don’t seem as aggressive as they could be. The long symphonic break halfway adds a faux-dark touch to the song before the guitars come back into the song. The guitar solo causes a flurry of exhilaration for the listener’s ears though it unfortunately, does not last long. The elder version of “The Persecution Song” is next. The song is virtually stripped of a lot of the symphonic elements, leaving a bare, raw sound of guitars, bass and drums mixed with the far-from-extreme vocals. The song is definitely better with all the symphonic elements included.

“Forgive Me, Father” makes another appearance on the EP, only this time it is the “I’m In A Trance” version. The listener will be in for a shock with this one as it is a trance remix of the original song. It’s weird how Filth’s vocals blend well with the music. The beats are very hypnotic and would definitely go down well in a rave of some description. So far, this one is the only decent track on the EP. Coming towards the end of the EP is the elder version of “The Spawn Of Love And War”. Like the elder version of “The Persecution Song”, this song has been stripped bare of most, if not all, of its symphonic elements except for the introduction leaving the song sounding barren. Filth’s vocals sound strained in several parts, leaving the listener disappointed. The guitars bring very little zest to the song as well.

The EP comes to an end with the orchestrated rendition of “Summer Dying Fast” which is the “Midnight In The Labyrinth breadcrumb trail” version. The song is better than what one would originally expect it to, containing emotions that haven’t haven’t been felt in a Cradle Of Filth song since the Midian era. For an orchestrated track, it is perhaps one of the darkest things ever put onto a Cradle release.

One can’t help but feel that “Evermore Darkly” was released for the sake of lining COF’s pockets some more, as well as the pockets of their label. The EP is a poor excuse for a release, being as bad as “Thornography”. If Stephanie Meyer were to release an album it would probably sound something like this – With faux-darkness and teenage depression included.

2/5

Nico Davidson

Iced Earth – Dystopia [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 15th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Iced Earth
Album: Dystopia
Release year: 2011
Genre: Power Metal

Iced Earth are perhaps one of the most well known and well regarded American power metal acts, having toured both the US and Europe. Dystopia is the first album to feature new vocalist Stu Block [Into Eternity], following the departure of Matt Barlow.

The first track of the album is none other than the title track “Dystopia”, beginning with a mighty guitar riff combined with drums. The joining of a second guitar adds more power to the music of the song. The first wail of the song that is heard sounds likes a poor attempt at imitating Gaahl. The tempo increases, adding a thrash element to the music. The vocals aren’t what they’re expected to be – Stu is clearly trying to imitate his predecessors. Though he sounds similar to Barlow in some parts, his attempt to perform similar high pitch vocals to The Ripper do spoil the track for the listener. Already, the album is at an okay start.

“Anthem” has a mesmerising soft introduction that only gets better with the slow, thundering sound of the bass mixed with the tapping of cymbals. The soon turns heavy with a partially melodic twist. The bass stays powerful and thunderous throughout the song working well with the drums – Which is no surprise for an Iced Earth track. The guitar solo adds some new life to the album as well, helping the listener forget about the vocals for a short while. The gang vocals towards the end, with all due respect to the new vocalist, are much better. “Boiling Point” storms its way next like a furious thrash metal anthem. The riffs are violent and angry whilst carrying a certain touch of classic metal. The use of church bells at the beginning adds a very dramatic tension to the music. The use of constant double bass pedals gets tiring after a while as they can be heard from beginning to end. The vocals don’t really add anything special to the song either.

The acoustic beginning of “Anguish Of Youth” takes the listener by surprising and the vocals sound so much different and more distinct. Even when the song takes that heavy twist the vocals don’t change their sound – Its good to hear Block using his own vocal style. The contrasting acoustic and heavy sections are truly brilliant, as is the solo. Following straight after is “V”. The introduction is monstrous – in the good sense – and has a very traditional metal feel to it. The vocals are a let down as they are back to sounding like Barlow. The melodic sections and solo are typically Iced Earth sounding, which will no doubt be a bonus for the more hardcore fans of the band.

“Dark City” is another song to have a soft introduction. The high pitched vocals sound almost like The Ripper – To as whether this is a good thing or bad thing will be left for the fans to decide. The riffs pack a truly powerful punch. The guitar solo has a very old school sort of sound to it, like a Black Sabbath meets Judas Priest meets Saxon kinda sound. The melodic-like riff towards the end teases the listener’s ears with excitement – It’s a shame it comes to a sudden end. The start of “Equilibrium” seems a tad like a slowed down Judas Priest track til the tempo increases. For the most part, the song is as bland as a cucumber sandwich. The solo is the one of two exciting parts of the song – The second exciting part of the song being the vocals after the solo.

The beasty intro of “Days Of Rage” tears its way next as the album draws closer to the end. The vocals are rage-fuelled and raw while the guitars just scream with angst and energy. The one and only flaw to “Days Of Rage” is its short lived length. “End Of Innocence” is the second track on the album to start with an acoustic section. The vocals are lacking the Barlow-Ripper-esque sound though they do become more rough sounding when the heavier sections of the song kick in. The album finishes with “Tragedy and Triumph” which sounds similar to the title track at the beginning. The song feels heavier when the tempo gets turned up by a few notches. Everything during in this song seems to gel well together drums. This one would definitely be the perfect song for driving down the motorway at 70MPH.

For most of the album, the vocals are off-putting due to their similar sound to Barlow and The Ripper though towards the end of the album they work well with the music. Block’s use of his own vocal sound helps improve the album and most of the songs are well composed and have the typical Iced Earth sound. However, there probably will be some division between the fans over this album – Something that generally happens with a new vocalist.

3.5/5

Nico Davidson

Soulgrind – The Tuoni Pathway [2010]

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

Band: Soulgrind
Album: The Tuoni Pathway
Release year: 2010
Genre: Black Metal/Pagan Metal

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Soulgrind are one of many bands on the Finnish metal scene, though their members have each played with other well known bands such as Nightwish and Finntroll. Soulgrind’s most recent album “The Tuoni Pathway” was released via Femme Metal Records.

“The Call of the Dancing Waters” begins the album with an atmospheric piano medley though the overdriven guitar that plays along side it ruins it slightly. The track takes a heavy turn soon after, improving upon the overdriven guitar fortunately. The vocals sound weak compared to the music, almost as if they’re not suited for the genre. The piano medleys are the one thing that stick out the most about this song.

”Rain Before The Dawn” follows after. The introduction is quite interesting, being composed of various sounds on a synth, which blend in well with the guitar riffs. The vocals are still lacking in strength which is unfortunate. The use of aggressive vocals doesn’t quite work with the music on this track in certain sections which is disappointing since they’re impressive. Musically, this song is good as the riffs are well composed. “March Butterfly” starts with a wondrous blend of piano, guitars and drums which fades into just drums and synths when the vocals first make themselves heard, dampening the energy of the song. The growls make an appearance again, fortunately, helping add a bit of energy back into the song. The female vocals sound slightly stronger as well.

The heavier styling of “Song Of Tomorrow” comes next, bringing a semi-black metal sound with it. The semi-growls are the first form of vocals to be heard, adding a touch of aggression to the song whilst the mediocre sound of the female vocals adds a subtle calmness to the song. The guitars feel like they want to be heavier and the drums seem quite soft. The piano sections are the only sections of the song that there’s no flaw with. “My Sweet Thought Of Death” gradually fades with a sound that isn’t as dark as what would be expected, considering the title of the track. The female vocals sound similar to those of Sarah Jezebel Deva’s, though not as strong. The guitar work is lacking in any form of energy, passion or technical composition, with the keyboard sections being heard more than the rest of the instrumentation.

“Tulikannel” has a raw, angsty guitar introduction, combined with harsh, violent growls. The cleaner vocals are pretty weak, for the most part and opposing the heavy instrumentation. There also seems to be a massive overuse of the double bass pedals throughout the vast majority of the track. “Among The Graves” has a symphonic heavy intro that is soon accompanied by the heavier work of the guitars and drums. The aggressive growls are powerful and rage-fuelled, while the cleaner vocals struggle to match the power of the growls. The drums are well played, very precise. The guitars certainly play some interesting parts as well.

Towards the end of the album comes “Farewell To Misery”, a bland track to begin with as the piano and symphonic sections don’t offer much excitement in their playing. The clean vocals are partially out of key, not match the music at all. The track seems very symphonic orientated with little emphasis on the guitars. The more aggressive death metal styled vocals are the only part of this song that are really worth mentioning.

The album finishes off “Vuoret La Metsanmaa”, which starts with an okay guitar section topped with the sound of thunder. The clean vocals sound very Russian in their accent, which is interesting to say the band are Finnish. The guitar section stays the same throughout the vast majority of the song, barely changing at all, leaving the listener tempted to press the stop button and on the few parts when the guitar riffs change, the track doesn’t seem to become anything special . There are some symphonic elements though these don’t improve the track that much.

To say that Soulgrind is composed of ex-members of bands such as Finntroll and Nightwish, “The Tuoni” Pathway” is a weak album with only a few highlights. Perhaps it’s the varying styles of the musicians that has made the album weak, if so, then they’ll have to seriously put their heads together and work on a way for their styles to gel together as opposed to clashing like dogs fighting over a bone.

2/5

Nico Davidson

Morpheus Rising w/Support [Live Review]

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 10th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Morpheus Rising, Lost Effect & Cryptic Age
Location: The Duchess, York
Date: 8th October 2011

Morpheus Rising have established a strong fan base with their NWOBHM styling, so with them on the bill, any show is guaranteed to be a good night. The only thing to make it better would be to add fellow York-based bands to the bill in the form of Lost Effect [This was their first gig with their new vocalist] and Cryptic Age.

The night began with the female-fronted folk metal quartet, Cryptic Age, opening up. The crowd was small to begin with though that didn’t stop the band from being in their element up on stage. Cryptic Age’s sound sounded massive as it echoed throughout the venue, as they performed songs such as “No Folkin’ Way” and “On The Bare, Cold Ground”, both of which are from their EP “Homeland”. The bassist’s spoken part in “The Aftermath” created a very epic atmosphere. They also performed for the first time ever “Eternity Beckons”, part two of “Sounds Of Infinity”, which will be featured on their album [Sounds Of Infinity]. The song had a short yet majestic, symphonic sound before turning into a heavy assault of metal – Probably the heaviest song Cryptic Age have ever written and performed. They received a brilliant reaction from the crowd after each song.


Lost Effect were the main support for the night and as mentioned above, this was their first gig with their new vocalist, Emily. Lost Effect’s set was a brilliant mix of mellow and brutal music, sort of like a less symphonic, more Yorkshire styled version of Epica. The new vocalist, with all due respect to her predecessor, seemed to gel with the band superbly – Stronger vocals and great stage presence, though she did seem nervous throughout parts of Lost effect’s set, though this didn’t affect the overall performance. “Whispers” was certainly a highlight of the set.



Morpheus Rising took to the stage shortly after putting on an immense show in true NWOBHM fashion. The vocals of the frontman were nothing short of amazing while the twin guitar work kept the crowd on wanting more from the band. they had a very 80s kind of sound with a modern twist mixed in there as well. “The Gypsy King” – Which caused a slight wave of giggles from some of the audience when it was announced – and “Shades Of Grey” were definitely crowd favourites performed by Morpheus Rising. The only thing that was off-putting about their set was the lack of a crowd, which was both shocking and concerning considering the sheer brilliance of the band.



The overall verdict: Definitely a gig that could easily secure a spot in the top ten gigs of 2011. Both support acts [Cryptic Age & Lost Effect] put on simply amazing performances and there was no better choice for a headlining act than Morpheus Rising. Any promoter with half a brain cell would want to book a show of this calibre for sometime in the future.

Nico Davidson

Photos of the gig are available on the Valkyrian Music Facebook page.

Severed Heaven – Incessant Darkness [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 6th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Severed Heaven
Album: Incessant Darkness
Release year: 2010
Genre: Extreme Metal/Yorkshire Metal

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Metal has always been a male-dominated scene, especially within the extreme metal scenes, though that hasn’t stopped the all-female brutalising force known as “Severed Heaven” from dominating the metal scene in their native Leeds and West Yorkshire. Severed Heaven have established a solid fan base and made a big name for themselves in the North of England.

The album starts with the intro track “The Fading Light”, composed of a majestic yet angry guitar medley. The album properly starts with the introduction of “Soul Desecration”, which has a very early Gorgoroth-like sound to it terms of the vocals. The slow use of drum and guitars at the beginning adds emphasis on the vocal work, giving them an extra bite. As the tempo of the instruments increases, the song becomes ever so much more violent sounding. The guitars are certainly impressive due to their crunchy and chugging sound, virtually multiplying the heaviness of the song. There are some slower moments in the second half of the track, which like the introduction, reinforce the vocals with an extra dose of aggression.

“Alone I Perish” blasts its way next, with a fast-paced tempo and a violent riff. The vocals are raw and harsh, adding that obscenely aggressive touch to the music. The track is basically as brutal and devastating as a collision between a monster truck and a bus. The slower sections flow nicely with the music. The introduction of “Autumn” packs a sluggish punch, heavy yet slow. The vocals stand out the most during in this song. The guitars help to keep the bloodthirsty edge of the song going from beginning to end, though the drums seem to be more enjoyable to hear.

“Desolation” brings about an old school death-meets-black metal kind of sound with a slight modern influence. Musically, it is fierce and unrelenting, like cornered wolf fighting to survive. Vocally, it could easily be mistaken for a song by Astarte. This is definitely one of the superior tracks on the album, virtually a masterpiece, due its brutalising sound and passionate composition. “Edge Of Despair” has a very melancholy sound and feel to it throughout the intro section. The melancholy sound seems to the calm before the storm as the song takes a sudden and sinister twist into something far heavier, aggressive and barbaric whilst showing signs of intelligent composition and soulful talent. The vocals sound like the hateful growls and screams of a demonic legion – Making this song that more sinister.

”Seal The Cavity” seems to lack in the heavy department, compared to the previous tracks, leaving the vocals feeling too powerful in sections. “Fallen Flesh of Worthlessness” starts with a riff too mellow for an album that has so far brought the thunder. Fortunately, the mellowness is stopped dead in its track and completely sodomised by the unexpected occurrence of a bloodthirsty guitar riff, mixed with the heavy drum work and very Hellish vocals. The bass lines are simply amazing throughout out the song, certainly adding some major low-end thunder to the guitar work.

Nearing the end comes “Traumatic Period”. The introduction is heavy, brutal and raw yet feels like its missing something. The feeling carries on throughout most of the track. Some of the guitar work during in the second half is interesting, to say the least. The album finishes with “Earth Decayed”. The intro is very old school black metal sounding in its style and the bass adds a unique sound to it as well. The riffs are well composed, bringing a certain fire to the track whilst the drums keep that ravenous, aggressive sound flowing. The vocals are impressive as well, switching brilliantly between screams and growls.

”Incessant Darkness”, put simply, is pure ingenious extreme metal in its prime – And the fact it’s an album by five lovely ladies in just a bonus. For the most part, the album excites the listener’s ears like drugs excites an addict. It’s hard to believe, after hearing this album [Incessant Darkness], that Severed Heaven aren’t being the main support for bands like Dimmu Borgir or Gorgoroth. Incessant Darkness is certainly a great addition to the extreme metal fan’s collection.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Nouvelle – Home EP [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , on 6th October 2011 by izaforestspirit

Band: Nouvelle
Album:  Home EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Hardcore

Home is the new EP from the British hardcore band Nouvelle.  There’s only one major problem I have with this EP and that’s the fact that the vocalist sounds like a very hungover Andrew W.K.  Music wise, it has some good moments such as the catchy guitar riffs in the intros to ‘No Pain’ and ‘Barriers’.  I fail to see the point of the instrumental track at the end; as a statement it might fit the overall theme but why make it into a song?

Is this good hardcore? Maybe… then again as it’s the first time I’ve actively attempted to listen to this kind of music.

2.5/5

Iza Raittila

Illflower – Stigmata EP [2011]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 5th October 2011 by Pieni

Band: Illflower
Album: Stigmata EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Hard rock/Heavy Metal

Although I’ve never heard about Illflower before, it seems they’ve been around for over 15 years. So will to rock is something these Brits definitely don’t lack.

These five tracks aren’t that much impressive, but I think they’ll work really well live. It’s got that “rock’n’roll rebel attitude”, with the loud guitars, the non-stop rhythm attacks on bass and drums, and the rough vocals. Mr. Craig Spencer is far from being a great singer, but it suits Illflower – that raspy and low tone of bad-ass guys. And on the choruses, the rest of the gang backs him up, emphasising the rebellion idea I’ve mentioned before.

The intro to the title-track, “Stigmata”, is a couple of quotes taken from the movie with the same name, featuring Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne. And then the guitar starts with this catchy riff that really sticks to your ears. In my humble opinion, the choice to name the EP after this song wasn’t casual, as I believe it’s its best track.

“Bone Collector” and “Longevity” are a bit harder, faster, the first one having a quite biting guitar solo. And “Kingdom Hospital” slips through the borders of punk rock.

They finish this work with a surprising cover of “If I Die Today”, by country singer Tim McGraw. I must say this song sounds a lot better with Illflower’s energy on it.

3/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Interview: Masha [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on 4th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

E-mail interview conducted with Masha of Arkona.

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Nico: As folk and pagan metal are getting more popular in the US, is there any chance you’ll be touring the US in the future? Or perhaps a South America tour?

Masha: We will go in big North American tour in November-December this year. Firstly, we will have headliner tour in Canada(9 shows) and then will join to Korpiklaani and will play 30 shows in Canada, US, and Mexico. All dates you can find on our website: http://www.arkona-russia.com

N: How do you feel heavy metal has developed since the days of the USSR?

M: Heavy music in Russia was always not so strong as in EU or US. It have no evolution because of isolation of Russia from main music market.
Now, situation is start to be normal, bands are having good instruments and possibility to make a good record.
Local scene quite strong, especially in Russian heavy/power metal. Also, pagan and black metal are not weaker than in Europe.

N: Do you feel that the new album [Slovo] differs from your previous releases? If so, how?

M: Slovo – it’s completely new stage for us, which differs from Goi, Rode, Goi and from other albums of Arkona. Firstly, because we didn‘t set any stylistic frames. Those, who did not like the musical diversity of the two previous albums, will not like new album too,  but it will bring those who appreciate us for our courage in the experiments.
Our main goal was to create an atmosphere in the album, that even man, who is far from the pagan attitudes in the music, would love it and of course, as always, we wanted to do something new, something, which is not like our previous works.

N: How are you feeling about the upcoming show with Turisas, Alestorm and Fintroll in London?

M: We played in London in Paganfest tour 8th march 2010. It’s was a normal show with a lot of people and great support of fans. Those who knew our band, came especially for us.
Also, I want to tell, that for us is very difficult to go for one show in UK, because we must get separate visa and we can’t go with normal Shengen cultural visa. So let’s speak about all after show, our agency is working on that, and we hope, that all will be ok!

N: What would say is the song that defines Arkona as a band?

M: We have no one musical conception, all songs absolutely different and it changes from album to album. That’s why it’s impossible to define Arkona with any song.

N: If you could take the soundtrack from any film and replace it with your music, which film would you choose and why?

M: This movie is “Rus Iznachalnaya”. It’s about campaign of Kniaz Oleg on Konstantinopol. It was created in the middle of 80’s and it’s one of the best movies about pre-christian Russia. We have a song with the same name from the 2005th album, which was created under impression of this movie. I think, If would be some remake, our song will fit the best for soundtrack.

N: Where do you find the inspiration for your songs? Could an idea come to at anytime like when you’re in the street or at home relaxing? Or do you get the ideas in the studio?

M: For me, any external emotional factor can force me to write something: the anger, sadness, beauty sunset, view of dead tree, watching the flight of an eagle … many, many things. All my songs were born spontaneously, but always under the influence of any factor.

N: Are there any bands in the Russian metal scene that you’d recommend our readers to check out?

M: Svarga, Rarog, Alkonost, Kalevala, Ruyan, Rossomahaar

Questions asked by our readers:

1: Your last album Goi, Rode, Goi! had a great deal of guest vocalists, will there be a similar spew of guest artists in the upcoming album, Slovo?

M: Vocalist of Rarog band, Alexandra Sidorova – a student of the Moscow Conservatory. She told us that she can get enough students who would be interested to participate on our album. So we got a full professional choir (on Goi, Rode, Goi was only a female choir, male choirs was recorded by 2 people separately).
About guest vocalists on Goi, Rode, Goi – yes, we have more guests because of song „In my land“, where members of Skyforger, Mengir, Manegarm, Obtest, Heidevolk are sang their part on their languages. We have no idea like that on a new album, so we didn’t ask to sing vocalists from other bands.
2: In the past you’ve been known to depict Slavic mythology through your music, which Slavic gods or myths inspire you most?

M: I’m not inspired by some myths. Of course, I know a lot of myths from childhood, but I’m not singing about it. In my songs I always show my respect to one of the faces of Rod – Veles. Veles – is God of wisdom and poetry.
In Slavic mythology God is Rod – he is creator of the all World. All other Gods are his faces.

3: The Ep Stenka Na Stenku I heard is about a Russian group that’s known for its fist fights. Why did you select them? Have you had any run ins with them?

M: I’m woman, you think it’s normal for woman to take part in fist fighting? J
Fist fighting – is ancient tradition, which is growing from the depths of the centuries. Now, it is going on Maslenitsa,  before, it was dedicated to Perun’s day, Perun is God of war. It’s not just fighting, it’s a ritual fighting with special rules.
Such an entertainment was believed to be good for strengthening the fighting spirit.

4: The new album will be released in two days, what can we anticipate from the new album? Are there any new ideas you’ve incorporated in this album?

M: I already told, that Slovo is absolutely new stage for us. Songs and atmosphere on it is different that on other albums. We used many new instruments and recorded orchestra and choir.
Album released more than one month ago, so I think you can hear all by yourself!

5: What did you enjoy most from recording the new album?

M: Recording the album took six months, there were many difficult and controversial issues, also was a lot of interesting things. I had to travel a lot to record a lot of new musicians in different studios of Russia.
The vocals on this album I recorded at home by myself, because I needed a full solitude to concentrate on my vocals. Mixing and the whole process of producing from beginning till the end was controlled by me.
A lot of efforts we had to put into this album, but it’s part of me and I can say that all this work has brought me great satisfaction.

6: What do you plan on doing next?

M: Now we will have neverending shows and first aim is to be alive after tours. I think, that I will create a new songs in future and in 2 years we will release our next album.

Illnath Joins Pitch Black Records

Posted in News with tags , , , on 4th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

PITCH BLACK RECORDS announces the addition of Danish female-fronted melodic death metal outfit ILLNATH into its roster of artists with the band’s third release, “Third Act in the Theatre of Madness” scheduled for release on November 18th (21st in the UK) 2011.

Formed in 1999, ILLNATH are a band which has evolved explosively through the years. Initially labeled as a symphonic black metal act their style is now a “mature” blend of melodic/symphonic death metal.

Having released a demo in 2000, IILLNATH’s debut album (“Cast into Fields of Evil Pleasure”) came in 2003 with the follow-up (“Second Skin of Harlequin”) in 2006. The band toured extensively in Europe and has also played in various European festivals. The band’s third album (“Third Act in the Theatre of Madness”) is the band’s most melodic yet at the same time extreme offering to date.

The band has a completely new lineup comprised of original member Pete Falk on guitars (also handling the main songwriting tasks), the powerful voice of Mona Beck, the killer basslines of Kenneth Frandsen and session drummer Reno Killerich.

“Third Act in the Theatre of Madness” will be available worldwide through Pitch Black Records and its distribution partners as well as through all major mp3 stores. The CD version will also feature a bonus track.

Subscribers to the Pitch Black Records mailing list were the first to check out a track off the album and that track is now available at http://www.pitchblackrecords.com.

Tracklisting:
1. Third Act
2. Scarecrow
3. Lead the Way
4. Snake of Eden
5. Shorthanded
6. Spring Will Come
7. Tree of Life and Death
8. Fall of Giants
9. Vampiria
10. Kingship Incarnate (CD Bonus)

More information at www.pitchblackrecords.com.

Abercion – Depth And Perception [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 3rd October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Abercion
Album: Depth And Perception
Release year: 2011
Genre: Melodic Progressive Hardcore

Abercion are a five-piece hardcore out from Birmingham, UK. 2011 saw the release of their EP “Depth And Perception”.

”Words Can Only Hurt From The Inside” is definitely not a song you want to be listening to via headphones on full volume when it begins, due to the sheer of aggression of the introduction. The vocals are raw, bloodthirsty and untameable, while the guitars are full of pure angst and anger, adding to that heavy hardcore sound. The vocals do sound frail in one or two small sections of the song but the drums make up for that. The acoustic section comes as a massive surprise, putting a halt to the brutality of the song.

”See You Next Tuesday” follows after, starting with a unique sound. The guitars eventually kick in properly, though this song is lacking in comparison to the opening song. The guitars just don’t seem to be as aggressive or have that certain bite and the vocals seem to be extremely strained for the most part. The drums are the more interesting aspect of the song. The EP finishes with “From dusk ‘Till Dawn” which brings the angst and energy back onto the EP fortunately. The acoustic section is probably something that should have been expected yet wasn’t, the heavy section that follows after it brings the energy back into the song and the vocals add that extra bite to the song.

”Depth And Perception” is an interesting EP, as it displays a mixture of progressive, melodic and hardcore elements and influences. Abercion show potential, at least, with this EP and with some more hardcore they’ll definitely fuse the different elements and influences together for a truly unique sound – Hopefully they’ll be less acoustic passages.

3/5

Nico Davidson

Collisions – Heavy Echo [2011]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 3rd October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Collisions
Album: Heavy Echo EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Metalcore

Collisions are a metalcore band from Hull, East Yorkshire who started playing shows in February 2011. They their EP “Heavy Echo” was produced by Lee Rule [Obsolete Tomorrow, Ravenage, Windrider, e-Divine Sinn].

”XII” is the first track of the EP, only being a breakdown-styled instrumental lasting for half a minute. “Seige” continues on where “XII” ended. The vocals seem weak and strained and the excessive use of drums doesn’t seem to blend well with the guitars in some parts – Truly disappointing as the drums are beasty. The guitars are powerful and on the verge of being real face melters in certain sections.

“Old Wounds” starts with a very drum dominated sound combined with raw vocals and some guitar riffs. The use of melodic riffs inserts an interesting sound to the track, mush more enjoyable than the overuse of drums. Energy quite literally bursts from this song, this could definitely be a mosh pit anthem at a live show – Let’s hope so. The vocals definitely give the song a brutalising edge. The halfway point of the EP comes in the form of “Don’t Pity Me”, beginning with a loud, aggressive vocal section followed by angsty guitars and drums. The big issue with this song is its length – It’s too short!

”Empty Threats” follows after, starting with an intro that has less emphasis on the drum work, which is fortunate for those who aren’t keen on drum overuse. The guitars have subtle hints of melodic stylings in their composition whilst the vocals and drums bring the powerful, destructive sound. The riffs do progress into something more openly melodic yet keeping true to a heavy touch for the song as well. “The Vigil” is a very calm instrumental for the most part, being somewhat similar to a natural high feeling in its atmosphere. There is a heavy section towards the end but nothing to heavy, keeping the mellow sound there. “IWIHMH” is the final part of the EP, sending the EP out with a loud and face breaking roar of guitars and drums, similar to the way “XII” began the EP.

Though having a somewhat distasteful start, the EP is definitely a treat for fans of metalcore and might even wow some non-metalcore fans as well. The production values are simply amazing as well, giving “Heavy Echo” that crisp, clean sound without betraying the style of the band.

4/5

Nico Davidson

ReVerbed – Lies You Can Believe [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 2nd October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: ReVerbed
Album: Lies You Can Believe
Release year: 2011
Genre: Alternative Rock

ReVerbed are a Doncaster-based alt. rock band, who despite being young have already played in venues around the UK, including in London, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham and so forth. “Lies You Can Believe” was released earlier this year.

”What Went Wrong” begins with an interesting piano medley which finds itself eventually replaced by an energetic, slightly-punk orientated riff. The vocals are an odd combination of gruff and soft pop-punk stylings that don’t agree with one another. The female vocals harmonise the leads vocals slightly but not enough to stop the lead vocals ruining the track. The riffs are well composed and the drums are soulfully played. The short acoustic section would have been more enjoyable without the vocals.

”Obsession” starts with a strange riff, which weirdly sounds similar to a small extent, like a part of “Enter Sandman”. The female vocals do the lead vocal work on this track, fortunately for the listener’s ears. The track feels lifeless and lacking of any sort of passion – Listening to it is kind of like being forced at gunpoint to listen to Justin Bieber. The third song of the album, “Run”, injects a bit of life back into the album though not much as the male vocals are doing most of the work. The guitar riffs are well enough composed, though it still feels like they need something adding to them like an extra dose of adrenaline. In all honesty, the drums are the most entertaining aspect of this song.

”You” has a typical bland sort of grunge sound, which would no doubt cause even the most active of people to slowly drift off to sleep. The vocals seem to drown out the guitars. The good sections of the song would have to be when there is no vocal work, as the music can actually be heard properly. “Scream” has a better start, bringing some kind of passion to the music, keeping it from being a tiring, droning sound. The female vocals are once again the lead, thankfully, though they don’t quite gel with the backing vocals on this track. The only major issue is the drums in one section of the track, as they don’t work well aside the guitar section in one part.

The sixth song “Not Alone” has the generic pop-punk sound that a lot of young bands seem to establish. The track as a whole lacks musical and emotional maturity, as well as substance, sounding more akin to something that a twelve year old would write. There really isn’t a redeeming thing about this song. It’s one of those tracks that would have been better off not being written – or recorded. “Shadow” is the halfway point of the album and is another part of the album with the overly generic pop-punk sound, which is heard loud and clearly in the vocals, to the point where it sounds like the band are trying to be the next Blink 182. The guitar riffs sound half-composed and the drums don’t really add anything interesting to the song either.

”Through The Rain” is an improvement to the previous tracks, though only by so much. Some of the riffs have real bite to them though some of the other riffs seem to be the leftovers of an MCR album. The lack of male vocals is a bonus for the song as well. Following after, beginning with a few samples, is “No Hero”. The riff that follows the intro is a fairly mediocre sounding composition and the vocal section is in need of major tweaking. The drum work sounds familiar to some of the drum work in the other parts of the album – Disappointing to say the least.

Nearing the end is “Burn”, bringing a tiny Bryan Adams sound at the beginning – To as whether this is an intentional part of the composition remains to be seen. The female vocals add life to the song while the male vocals ruin it, kind of like the way police ruin parties. The chorus drains a lot of the energy out of the music, which is unfortunately as this one could have been a party anthem, despite the lyrical content.

”Don’t Look Back” sounds more like a mature composition and the male vocals actually work with the music – For once. Shockingly, it’s the female vocals that don’t do this song any justice. The guitar work is well written and played, as are the drums. “Beautiful Lie” has a semi-mature sound to it mixed with a hint of punk, which the male vocals, again, work with well the music. “Tomorrow” is the final track on the album and is a poor choice to finish the album with. Nothing seems to blend well with anything else, the vocals sound out of key and dissonant and the song just seems to be the kind of song that you’d “accidentally” delete on your media player device.

”Lies You Can Believe” is definitely not a masterpiece, if anything, it’s more akin to a disasterpiece. The vocals are one of the biggest negative factors as neither vocalist seems to harmonise with the other – They could invest in vocal lessons or find a new vocalist – and the music sounds too similar to each track combined with the generic sound of pop-punk, which may or may not have been intentional in the composition. The sound quality of the album is excellent, however. The album doesn’t really say much about ReVerb’s talent as a band who have played all over the UK. Perhaps they should take more time writing songs and perfecting their craft than playing shows.

1.5/5

Nico Davidson

Band Of The Month [October, 2011]: Old Corpse Road

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


The voting for October’s Band Of The Month began as a fierce competition between The Colour Line and ReVerbed, however, Darlington-based blackened folk metal quintet Old Corpse Road swooped in at the last minute and snatched victory quite unexpectedly gaining the majority of the votes. Old Corpse Road avoid the cliché black metal style of Satanic imagery, instead, their songs are about British folklore with masterfully written music and lyrics. Old Corpse Road have shared the stage with the likes of Hecate Enthroned, Northern Oak, Windrider and Skyclad.

Rating: 5/5

Links:

Official site: http://www.oldcorpseroad.co.uk/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Old-Corpse-Road/22944789821
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/oldcorpseroad

Aloeswood – Forsaken Landscapes [2011]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 1st October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Aloeswood
Album: Forsaken Landscapes EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Post-Black Metal/Folk/Yorkshire Metal

Aloeswood is the solo project of Yorkshire-based musician Danny Downing [Windrider, Ravenage]. Forsaken Landscapes was recorded at Danny’s home and produced by Danny Downing and Elliot Vernon [Windrider, Ravenage] in Muspelheim Studio, Yorkshire.

The first track of the EP is “Farewell”, which begins with a heavy and aggressive riff mixed with precise, barbaric drum work. The guitars have a slight melodic touch that echo through their composition, adding a unique sound to their black metal styling. The vocals are raw and bloodthirsty, mixing well with the riffs. The outro piano medley adds a very solemn sound to both the song and the EP. The solemn sound continues on into the title track “Forsaken Landscapes”, in the form of a clean guitar section. The hate-fuelled shredding of guitars soon takes over though, ruining the mood that had been created slightly. The bass section comes as shock, taking away some of the energy of the music though the guitars soon plough their way back into the song. The vocals are welcomed almost instantly with the melodic riffs, bringing an interesting sound with them. The acoustic sections bring about a certain enchanting folk sound to the song before being replaced by the heavier, distorted guitar riffs.

”The Lake Of Shattered Hope” is one of two instrumentals on the EP and despite the somewhat emo-like name, the track is far from being emo. The entire song is like a slow, mesmerising folk song composed entirely of an acoustic guitar with a touch of viola and cello. “Nostalgia” follows after, carrying on the use of acoustic guitars. The heavy section that follows after builds up towards the introduction of the vocals. There is a brilliant use of female vocal work on this track, provided by Shamsi Modarai. Her voice just seems perfect for the song and style of music. The keyboard sections inject a much-needed atmosphere into the song as well, keeping the track sounding fresh. The EP finishes with the second instrumental “Like Rain To The Ground”. It begins with a calm yet partially heavy guitar part, slowly building up to the introduction of the keyboard voices, adding a subtle beauty to the song.

“Forsaken Landscapes” is different to what you’d expect from a musician who plays in two folk metal bands. While there are elements of folk music, the EP is more black metal orientated with hints of progressive music as well. For the most part, this is a sweet EP and a damn good release in terms of the Yorkshire metal scene. It was everything a good EP should have: Decent tracks, good composition, excellent sound quality and a unique sound.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Forsaken Landscapes is available for free download here.