Archive for November, 2011

Spires + Incassum + Support @ The Ringside, Hull [Live Review]

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 27th November 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Bands: Spires, Incassum, Infernal Creation
Location: The Ringside, Hull
Date: 26th November

As part of their Terrorizer-sponsored tour, the Manchester-based Spires and Incassum arrived in the grim city of Hull. The original line-up for the night consisted of Mister Sister Fister, Infernal Creation, Incassum and Spires. Unfortunately, Mister Sister Fister had to pull out last minute due to their drummer already being booked for at work for the night. After reviewing Incassum and Spires earlier this week for the site – and Infernal Creation for my “rivals” over at Denim and Leather, I already had an idea of what the night would consist.

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Though I was tending the doors for the promoter, I had a perfect view of the stage as Hull’s very own misanthropic beast of a metal band, Infernal Creation, graced the room with their presence of stage. They’re definitely a band who need no introductions, however when the voice of misanthropy, Neiph, did introduce the band, he took the opportunity to announce their next song as well, by stating in a grim, almost-messianic way: “We are Infernal Creation… And we speak of the Insidious Gospel”. As I stated earlier, I already had an idea of what to expect for tonight but I didn’t expect Infernal Creation’s sound to be so aggressive and heavy live. The snarling screams and roaring of guitars, topped off with thunderous drums just made their performance so much better. The band played a few songs such as “War Is Worship” and “The Angel Of Endless Hunger” from the new album, The Serpent Seed Doctrine, and in all honestly, they sounded as good as the studio versions.

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The female-fronted force of violent melodic metal that is Incassum wasted no time getting to the stage – Something that did impress since some bands do like to pansy foot around in the interval. In fact, they were all set to play when I was half way through smoking a roll-up. Fortunately I could hear them clearly outside while I was smoking. With female-fronted bands, there seems to be a stereotype that they all have operatic vocalists but the good thing about Incassum is that they don’t cater themselves to such stereotypes. Their In Vain EP is an example of this and their live performance certainly showed that they’re better than most female-fronted bands. The violent sounds of the guitars echoed well throughout the venue and the band’s set showed some clear influences of melodic and technical death metal. The thing that really did impress me the most about Incassum’s set – aside from the music – was the way that the frontwoman, Sharleen, so easily transited between roaring vocals mightier than thunder and a softer, more angelic vocal style almost as if it was as natural as breathing. Incassum made Arch Enemy sound like pop rock, a potentially blasphemous comment no doubt but if you’ve seen them live, you’ll agree. Their song “Cut Loose” certainly seemed to go down well with the crowd.

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The headliner of the night were the extreme-prog. metal quartet that are Spires. I had already been assured by the guys in Infernal Creation that these guys are great live as Infernal had done a gig with them roughly a year and a half ago. They performed a truly tight set that displayed a masterful combination of progressive elements, more brutal sounds and a strong use of vocals. The solos were easy of the ears as well. Spires performed a new song as well – I think they said it was called “The Fevered Spirit”, either way, it was a masterful combination of aggression, progressive metal and strong vocal work. These guys are definitely a band I’d recommend everyone go see live. Though the opening act had dropped out last minute, the night’s entertainment was still provided by three great bands. Any of them would have gone down well as the headlining act as well and the people certainly got their £3’s worth.

Nico Davidson

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Sworn To Oath – Leave You For Dead [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 25th November 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Sworn To Oath
Album: Leave You For Dead EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Metal

Sworn To Oath are one of the UK’s most talked about live bands since their formation two years ago with their sound being compared to bands such as Pantera, Audioslave and 36 Crazy Fists. Their hard work ethic has seen them play over 300 shows and festivals including their current UK tour – one of which brought them to my town of Bridlington. They’ve supported acts such as Hatebreed, Meshuggah and Young Guns. After handing the band my contact details at the Brid show, I was quite surprised when their new EP arrived through the post, courtesy of their management Skratch The Surface.

The EP begins with the fierce snarling guitars of “Last Call”, a track that features some seriously thunderous drum sections. The vocals are like a mixture of hard rock and power metal. The song pretty much slams itself into the listener’s ears like a door to the face – Only it being much easier on the face and ears. “(Everything) Reminds Me Of You” might sound like the name of some whiney emo song about heartache but I assure you, it doesn’t even come within a mile of being emo. The drums pound their way through each section like Thor’s hammer cracking a jotun’s skull. The guitar riffs throw in a powerful, raw sound full of pure aggression while the bass creates a happy medium of the two. Vocally, the song is mighty, adding a “36 Crazy Fists”-like element to the music. “(Everything) Reminds Me Of You” finishes with a very destructive sounding verse with back-up from some very angry gang vocals.

”False Promise” focuses more on the bass, drums and vocals for a lot of the time. Fear not though, the guitars do still bring the metaphorical thunder in an Olympianesque style, adding the power of an earthquake to the music and vocals. The distorted bass stylings introduce the final track “Leave You For Dead”, taking the tempo down several notches but increasing the strength like steroids being injected into a muscle-bound weight lifter. The bass riffs feel somewhat very-Pantera styled along with some of the guitar riffs in the second half. The vocals border on a thrash-stylised snarl in a similar vein to Mustaine or Hetfield [Before the St. Anger release].

Not only do Sworn To Oath put on an exciting live performance, they also make their recorded material just as exciting. Listening to the “Leave You For Dead” EP felt like being back in the underground venue that is Shades in Bridlington. If you like riffs that would tear the face apart of the average Joe, drums that could easily topple the Walls of Jericho and vocals that can toe-to-toe with the of Dickinson [Iron Maiden] and Hetfield [Metallica], then this is an EP for you. I see big things for these guys in the near future. Sworn To Oath could be the next Iron Maiden minus the skeleton mascot.

Not Above Evil- The Transcendental Signified

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 23rd November 2011 by izaforestspirit

Band: NOT ABOVE EVIL
Album: THE TRANSCENDENTAL SIGNIFIED
Release year: 2011
Genre: MELODIC DEATH/BLACK METAL

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‘The Transcendental Signified’ is the second album from British melodic death metal band Not Above Evil.

The opening track ‘Crossroads’ features a very promising melodic intro proceeded by fast guitar riffs and black metal vocals similar to those of Dimmu Borgir or even old Agathodaimon. There is also a clear Lamb of God influence in the bass guitar riffs and drums structures in tracks such as ‘Capture the Dawn’.

‘Against The Tides’ is one of the best tracks on here with memorable guitar solos that allow you to look past the slightly cheesy sounding lyrics. The only major let down is the progressive intro to ‘Nexus’ which doesn’t seem to fit the style set by the rest of the album. I’m not quite sure what they were trying to achieve with this. Luckily that track does have certain redeeming features such as the guitar solos towards the end.

Another notable track is ‘As The Curtain Falls’ which continues where ‘Against The Tides’ left off with more memorable guitar riffs and solos that have enormous mosh-pit potential. The final track ‘The Duel’ seems like the perfect way to end this album with its deceptively slow and melodic intro that ensures the listener is all the more unprepared for the intensity of the remainder of the song.

Overall this is a very solid release.

4/5
Iza Raittila

Odessa w/Support @ The Ringside [Live Review]

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 22nd November 2011 by conorclaustrophobia

Bands: Odessa, Calasis, Not Another Code Red, Gratitude, Scrimshaw, The Stanford Prison Experiment, A L E T H E I A, The Colour Line
Location: Ringisde, Hull
Date: 20th November 2011

Odessa’s UK tour them to the musically diverse city of Hull at the Ringside as part of an all-day event. The first act of the night were a new band known as A L E T H I A. This was their first gig and it was no surprise that their stage presence was poor, though this might have something to do with it being their first gig as well as the nerves getting to them. They struggled to get the crowd excited with their metalcore sounding set – a feat only accomplished by bands that the Hull folk are used to seeing. The roaring of their guitars sounded more akin to a distorted explosion of unpleasant sounds as opposed to something the crowd could get into and the snarling vocals left much to be desired. Another notable thing about this new band’s set was the lack of song names being announced, almost as if they expected the crowd to automatically know the names of their songs, in some form of vain arrogance, despite it being their first gig.

The Stanford Prison Experiment took to the stage afterwards and they weren’t any better than the first band. The frontman had his back to the crowd throughout most of the set, almost like he was just performing to the rest of the band – Not really something that should be done if a band wants to entertain people or even gain some new fans. The next band Scrimshaw completely upped the quality of the show so far with a mixture of good stage presence and some humourous statements that lightened up the mood of the crowd. So far, they were the best ‘core band of the night. Gratitude were next in line to play. Before they went on stage, a lot of people were outside having a quick smoke but the second they knew Gratitude were on a lot of them came rushing back. They played an energetic and heavy set that had some progressive rock sounds to it and an even a song that sounded like a Foo Fighters track. “Relentless” and “In Smoulders” went down well with the crowd.

The Hull based pop-punk-meets-post-hardcore outfit Not Another Code Red were on of the definite crowd pleasers of the night, especially with their cover of “Black And Yellow”. Calasis were a no show due to a run-in with the long arm of the law at a gig the night before, so let’s move onto the main support The Colour Line. Without a doubt, they stole the show on Sunday night with great sounding vocals, a strong, post-hardcore sounding set and a lot more energy and charisma than the other bands. The headliners, Odessa, failed to reach the bar set by The Colour Line. The performance was lacking heavily and there’s definitely room for improvement.

The show was mediocre at best due to the differing quality of performances from each band and the headliner really did fail to impress – Perhaps The Colour Line should have had their slot instead.

Conor Taylor

Spires – Spiral Of Ascension [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 22nd November 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Spires
Album: Spiral Of Ascension
Release year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Metal

Manchester based prog. metallers Spires began initially as the brain child of vocalist, frontman and producer Paul Sadler [ex InSlience/Tomb]. After completing the line-up, consisting of Paul Cuthbert [Guitar], Alex Jolley [Bass] and Chris Barnard [Drums] the band soon began gigging, making their live shows a testament to their dedication and passion for the music they write. November 2010 saw the release of their highly anticipated album Spires Of Ascension.

“Equilibrium” starts with a very progressive sounding introduction, similar to those that can be found on an Opeth track. The vocals are calm and soothing, an odd contrast with the guitars – Well, that is until the vocals turn more raw and aggressive with elements of a death metal style thrown in as well just to spice things up. The drums hold their own nicely through out the track. The guitar solo feels too early on in the track, being virtually at the halfway point. The second guitar solo feels more at home towards the end. The album moves onto “The Infinite End”, beginning calmly before slowly changing into a hulk-like raid of furious metal. The vocals keep things interesting with their death metal stylings, especially when combined with the technical and melodic guitar licks.

“Nightfall” starts with the relaxing sound of rain before the acoustic riffs coolly walk into the song, giving the listener a small break before 13 and a half minute track that is “Broken Hourglass”. The use of thunder during in the song gives the track some form of atmosphere. “Broken Hourglass” is quite eerie at the beginning – Whether this is due to the sound of the guitar or the riff being played, I will never know unless I ask the band, which at this time of morning would be a stupid idea. Anyway, back to the review – The song progresses into heavier and technical musings but still retains that eerie sound in certain sections. The clean use of vocals make a mighty return to the album during in the track. The guitars switch between clean and heavy, though mostly staying clean and melodic adding for a very progressive sound for the first half of the track. The main negative issue with the track is its length – It’s too long for the casual listener of progressive metal and may even seem dull after a few minutes. Roughly half way through, the demonic-like growls can be heard, adding a spark of freshness to the song.

”Symmetry” has a very soft rock ambience to its sound, perfect for chilling out to though this may or may not have been the intention of the band during its composition. The vocals are strong, blending well with the music. The ten piece composition that is “Martyr” follows after, beginning in a more progressive and alternative vein before evolving into something heavier and more technical. After a while, it does revert back to the softer, progressive sound, which a shame since the death metal sound is catchy in a weird sense. The vocals are diverse, like the music, which is to be expected and there’s even a cheeky use of female vocals as well to add that extra bit of spice to the already tasty mix of sounds. Coming towards the end of the album is none other than the title track, “Spiral Of Ascension”. Like the previous tracks, it has a soft, progressive sounding introduction that is both melodic and easy on the ears. The vocals begin out clean and it is a while before the song turns from a Dr Jekkyl-like sound into a more beastly Dr Hyde-like sound. The track definitely demonstrates the different influences the band have and they clearly merge them together into a masterpiece with this one track.

“A New Prayer”, which is the bonus track, finalises the album with a soft but mystifying guitar riff that slowly grows into a loud, volcanic roar of unrelenting force and power with little nibbles of melodic compositions. The other parts of the track are more along the lines of a furious assault of gunfire-styled drums and guitars before retreating back into a soft section.

“Spires Of Ascension” is kind of like the British offspring of Emperor and Opeth minus the symphonic elements. The album is enjoyable for the most part though a fan of progressive metal might struggle to find the enjoyment straight away. Definitely an album worth checking out for fans of Emperor, Opeth and Mastodon.

4.8/5

Nico Davidson

Spires will be touring with Incassum later this month. See below for dates:

24/11 NEWCASTLE TRILLIANS – FREE ENTRY!
25/11 BRADFORD RIOS
26/11 HULL RINGSIDE
27/11 GRIMSBY YARDBIRDS
30/11 KINGSTON THE PEEL
01/12 READING FACE BAR
02/12 DERBY OLD BELL
04/12 MANCHESTER ALTER EGO + ‘SWORN TO OATH’

Incassum – In Vain [2008]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 22nd November 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Incassum
Album: In Vain
Release year: 2008
Genre: Melodic Metal/Gothic Metal

Incassum are a five piece female-fronted melodic Gothic metal outfit hailing from Manchester. They’ve supported big acts such as Blaze Bayley [Former Iron Maiden frontman], Breed 77 and others. The band have also headlined their own shows at venues such as Manchester Academy. 2008 saw the release of their EP “In Vain”.

The EP takes up a dark and tense beginning in the form of “The Beckoning”. Before the vocals are heard, the guitars display a beautiful use of melodic riffs that are combined an intelligent use of drum work. The guitars create a very tense, dramatic and atmospheric feel that is usually only achieved by keyboards. The vocals do take the listener by surprise. The vocals are along the lines of death metal and black metal, so definitely a bonus for fans of Astarte and Arch Enemy. In true Gothic metal style, there is a use of clean, harmonic vocals as well, though not overly operatic as is the stereotype with Gothic metal these days. Musically, the track is like a raging bull charging its way through the crowds at the “Running of the Bulls”.

“History Repeats” hits the listener like a mortar hitting a tank, beginning with a catchy, face-melting riff followed by a powerful vocal section. The drums offer up a deliciously rhythmic taster of what’s to come during in the rest of the track. The guitars tease the listener, keeping their attention while the vocal sections progress into a happy medium of harsh and clean. The most hypnotic and enchanting aspect of the track is the solo. “Space To Breathe” takes the listener down a heavier, brutal path with a masterful combination of clean female vocals and harsher male vocals. The guitars conjure together a well-constructed wall of musical genius and the drums force upon the listener an assault of metallic proportions. “So Red” ambushes the listener’s ears with a delicate guitar intro which is joined by strong yet gentle vocals and a calm drum section. The song hints at heavier progressions though the real heaviness doesn’t occur until the second half of the song.

“All These Lies” starts with drums and bass – Not the techno/dance music kind either – before a crash of thunderous guitars shred their way through the track. The clean vocals are powerful, strong and oddly more impressive than the growls – Which are still pretty beastly. The drums fit their placement well, keeping everything tight. The use of backing growls fits in perfectly with the cleaner vocal style as well, adding a certain beauty and the beast effect to the music. The breakdown – Well, I’m assuming it to be a breakdown since I have difficulty recognising one – does throw the track off a little. The EP comes to a melodic end with the title track “In Vain”. The melodic-styled intro lulls the listener into a calm state of mind before unleashing a raging storm of metal that sounds like a combination of death metal and speed metal – Not that there’s anything wrong with that! The drums certainly add that extra special vitamin known as pure brutality to the song while the contrasting vocal styles keep the track diverse – on a vocal level at least. The guitars are intelligently structured and awe-inspiring like the metal version of the pyramids. After a massacre of aggressive solo work, the track sadly comes to a slow, melodic end.

”In Vain” is definitely not your typical Gothic metal release – In fact, it’s probably better than your typical Gothic metal release. The music shows strong elements of death, black and speed metal while the vocals portray a more Arch Enemy meets Astarte meets Evanescence sound. Each part of the EP has had a lot of thought and work put into it. Its hard to believe that “In Vain” is their only release!

4.7/5

Nico Davidson

Incassum will be touring with Spires later this month. See below for dates:

24/11 NEWCASTLE TRILLIANS – FREE ENTRY!
25/11 BRADFORD RIOS
26/11 HULL RINGSIDE
27/11 GRIMSBY YARDBIRDS
30/11 KINGSTON THE PEEL
01/12 READING FACE BAR
02/12 DERBY OLD BELL
04/12 MANCHESTER ALTER EGO + ‘SWORN TO OATH’

An Evening With Dimmu Borgir [Live Review]

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 21st November 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Bands: Dimmu Borgir
Location: The Cockpit, Leeds
Date: 19th November 2011

In celebration of “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”, an album released 14 years ago, Dimmu Borgir embarked on their “An Evening With” tour which took them to the musically diverse heart of West Yorkshire known as Leeds. With a band as well-established as Dimmu Borgir, there comes a certain expectation of their performance and judging by the crowd’s reaction, they lived up to those expectations.

As they took their place on the stage, they looked somewhat sinister, almost demonic, thanks to the smoke and the lights, which helped add to the ethereal and mystifying atmosphere that had come over the crowd in the Cockpit. The first set of the night was composed entirely of the tracklisting from “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”. Starting with “Mourning Palace”, Dimmu progressed into “Spellbound (By The Devil)” in which Shagrath encouraged, demanded even, the showing of horns in the air, to which the crowd happily obliged. “The Night Masquerade” was the most entertaining song of the first set.

After a short interval, Dimmu Borgir soon returned to the stage – Well, it was more like Daray at first who entertained the crowd with a drum solo before the band fully returned to the stage blasting their way through “Vredesbyrd”. After that, Shagrath recited the words “Left are the kings of the carnival creation, carrying out the echoes of the fallen” to announce the next song, which was “Kings Of The Carnival Creation”. The next three songs were taken from the new album “Abrahadabra” – The first of which was “Dimmu Borgir”, which hagrath described as a song about “strength, unity and the ever lasting flame flame that is Dimmu Borgir”. The band finished the set with a great rendition of “Puritania” which wasn’t enough for the horde of Dimmu fans who demanded more.

The encore was comprised of only three songs, “The Serpentine Offering” – which sounded strange with Vortex’s vocals being played back – “Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse” and “Perfection of Vanity”. It was strange seeing Dimmu in such a small venue considering their status as one of the biggest international black metal bands, whch was one of two down sides to the show. The other being the poor sound system which clearly wasn’t suited for the band. Aside from those two issues, it was a truly mystifying performance and a show of epic proportion. Hopefully, Dimmu will tour the UK again next year.

Nico Davidson