Archive for December, 2012

Seduce The Heaven–Field of Dreams

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 31st December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Seduce The Heaven
Field Of Dreams
Released: 15th January 2012
Metal
Self-Released

Hailing from the virtually unsung metal scene of Greece, come Seduce The Heaven, who were formed in mid 2009 by guitarist Alex Flouros. The band, however, didn’t make their debut on the stage until earlier this year when they supported Dutch metallers Epica in Athens, Greece. Seduce The Heaven then went onto play the Female Metal Voices Festival X in Belgium as well. With big things already happening for the band, it looks like 2013 will be their year.

Field Of Dreams isn’t your typical metal album, nor is straight forward. If anything, the album strays from the “norm” of most bands on the metal scene by incorporating new elements. Of course, the driving use of guitars and heavy emphasis on the “beauty and the beast” vocals are very present throughout but it’s the use of deathcore elements, amongst others, that really adds flavour to the album. The drums, provided by John Thomas, thunder back and forth almost hypnotically, laying the ground work for the more intricate guitar stylings and breath-taking vocals. Leave Me Alone is a perfect example of how well the soprano vocals of Elina Laivera and the harsh, demonic growling of Marios Mizo blend together in perfect harmony whilst its the title track of the album, Fields Of Dreams, where I think the guitar stylings of Alex Flouros and Sinnik Al are the strongest.

Each track has a number of good points that I could list all day long but I’m sure you’d all get bored halfway through the lists. Anyway, back to the points at hand. For me, the strongest tracks on the album are Falling, because of its striking bass work as well as the power of the vocals, and Ignorance due to the callous but melodic sound of the guitars and the gritty sound of the growls. The final track of the album, In Close Distance, is one of the most graceful and emotive endings to an album I’ve ever heard and it is simply divine.

Being a part of a scene where the bands are fronted by women, it can be very hard to stand out above the rest but Seduce The Heaven have done just that. Creating a truly unique blend of sounds and emotions, Field Of Dreams could easily be album of the year in 2013. Already with one festival show beneath their belts and supporting Epica earlier this year, Seduce The Heaven will no doubt conquer every mountain they climb in their career.

5/5

Nico Davidson

 

Five reasons to get your ass to Dames of Darkness

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on 30th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

With The Dames of Darkness Festival return in less than six months time, we decided it would be a great reason to list a few reasons to as why you should get your asses to it.

5. VISIONS OF ATLANTIS PLAYING THEIR FIRST UK FESTIVAL

That’s right, folks. Austrian symphonic metallers are finally playing a UK festival.

4.  BOOBS

Yeah, I said boobs. But let’s get serious now. You can everyone you talk to on Facebook at the event. C’mon, don’t lie. We all know you talk to other fans of “female-fronted metal”.

3. NO DRUNKS DESTROYING YOUR TENTS

Because you won’t need tents for the fest, which means less time setting up and more time drinking!

2. TO MAKE THE EVENT A SUCCESS

So then we can start seeing bigger bands from the UK and Europe (i.e. Leaves’ Eyes, Epica, etc)

1. DELAIN ARE HEADLINING

And they’re playing for over an hour from what we’ve been told.

The Dames Of Darkness Festival will take place at The Robin 2 in Bilston, near Wolverhampton on Saturday 11th May. Advance tickets are available for £22 from this location. Hopefully, we’ll see you guys there.

Heavenwood – 20th anniversary concert

Posted in Gig, Live on 29th December 2012 by Pieni

Location: Hard Club, Porto (PT)
Date: 28th December 2012

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Feels like it was just the other day that I convinced my mom to take me to the airport and wait for Heavenwood, who were returning home from the recording sessions of their debut “Diva”, in Germany. But it wasn’t “just the other day” – it was 16 years ago, after they changed their name from Disgorged and signed with Massacre Records. And since the 2 years they went by the name Necroside (1990-1992) don’t seem to count, that’s what we were celebrating that night – the 20th anniversary of the band formerly known as Disgorged.

The show was scheduled for 10 p.m. but there wasn’t that many people at that time yet – Portuguese audience, always running late… So the band waited for about half an hour before kicking off the show precisely with a song from “Diva” – a song I can’t remember when I last heard it live – “Moonlight Girl”. The lyrics seemed to be forgotten by most, but when it came to the chorus, that it was pretty vivid in everybody’s mind, resulting in a massive roar.

Beginning with something from their debut was a random act, in the terms that they weren’t following any kind of “timeline setlist”. From there they jumped to their third album “Redemption”, with “13th Moon”, and then went back to their second “Swallow” with “Rain Of July” – one of the many highlights of the show. This back-and-forth through their discography went on for the two hours that the concert lasted (give or take) – a lot more fun that way than a chronological performance, in my humble opinion.

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Between rarely played tracks – at least in the last few years – such as “Soul Sister”, “Me & You” or “Season ‘98” (dedicated to all of us) and the mandatory hymns like “Flames Of Vanity”, “Bridge To Neverland” or “Emotional Wound” (among others), we also witnessed a drum solo by the talented Marcelo Aires. Also very skilled is the new session bass player Ricardo Oliveira, who was playing with the band for the first time. First of many, I hope.

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Special thanks were given to former members “who are part of these 20 years”José Barbosa (drums), Mário Rui Lemos (guitar) and João Soares (keyboards) from the original line-up under the name Heavenwood, and Daniel Cardoso (drums, now keyboard player in Anathema) and Pedro Mendes (bass) who even though were “just” session musicians, they played a very important role in Heavenwood history.

A devoted fan, Sérgio Rocha, forged an “H” in some kind of metal and framed it in the same material as a gift to the band. “Because you (the fans) are also part of this. Thank you”, said Ernesto Guerra.

The encore featured “Poem For Matilde”, “Suicidal Letters” (that someone in the crowd had been asking for since the beginning…) and a surprising “Heartquake”.

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When saying goodbye and announcing the free after-show party at Metalpoint – where the “heavencake”, an anniversary cake with a guitar (edible I think) on it, would be served – guitarist Ricardo Dias said that he hoped it wouldn’t take another 20 years to see us all together like that again. Nah! I think we will be there THROUGH the next 20 years, supporting this band as it so well deserves.

official website

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by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Nightvision bassist Dean Hocking killed in car accident

Posted in News with tags , , , on 28th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Nightvision bass player Dean Hocking has passed away in a car accident in the early hours of Thursday 27th December. The accident occurred near Sleaford, Lincolnshire where Nightvision is based and although the accident proved fatal for Dean who was  passenger in the car, we understand the driver and one other passenger survived.

Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Daryl Hocking, Dean’s brother and fellow band member (drummer), as well as the rest of his family and friends.

Dean was an exceptional and gifted young bassist with his own style, greatly admired by his peers and an integral part of the Nightvision sound.  Dean will be hugely missed and always remembered with affection not only for his skills but also for some great times on the road where his sense of fun and thirst for life came to the fore.

 

Godlike – Malicious Mind

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 26th December 2012 by mariadodarmata

Godlike
Malicious Mind
Alternative/Melodic Death Metal
Released: October 2012
Released via Inverse Records.

Godlike is a new Finnish band. Malicious Mind is their debut album. As soon as you start playing it you guess the kind of influences they have… Made me have a regression to the early 2000’s.

With strong nu metal references mixed with melodic death, kind of in a Five Finger Death Punch way, they manage to take that Limp Bizkit sound and put make it sound a bit fresher.

The album goes down the nu metal road the first 4 songs. In Original Rebel takes a turn more to the death metal side with heavier sounding elements on the music and a song theme that made me think of Destruction’s The Antichrist. Then comes Shi No Negai and stirs the album back in the previous direction.

The album doesn’t have a central topic that the songs revolve around, at least an apparent  one. Some songs talk about the Catholic Church and the original sin, same others talk about this chick who is a hot mess, or how someone betrayed them. I find these last ones extremely cheesy but they melody and rhythm are quite catchy.

The album sounds solid and like an album made of t best songs they wrote during the years. I am a bit excited to see how they do next, for I believe their next album will be deciding on their future. I am not such a big fan of this kind of music, but keeping an objective eye on that aspect, the album is not bad.

3.5/5

María Mata

 

Mike Scaccia dies on stage

Posted in News on 23rd December 2012 by Pieni

Last night, Mike Scaccia, famous for his guitar playing in MINISTRY, RIGOR MORTIIS and REVOLTING COCKS, suffered a seizure on stage that resulted in his death.

Scaccia was performing with RIGOR MORTIS at The Rail Club in Fort Worth, Texas at the 50th-birthday celebration for RIGOR MORTIS singerBruce Corbitt when he reportedly asked for the strobe lights to be turned off moments before he collapsed onstage and could not be revived. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was only 47.

Valkyrian Music sends their condolences to his family and friends and hopes his mind will rest in peace.

Marduk and Moonspell Announce North American Tour for 2013

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23rd December 2012 by hammersmashedlauren

After the release of their newest album Serpent Sermon this last year, black metal band Marduk has announced that they will be coming back to North American for their Voices of the Dark tour with Moonspell as a co-headliner. With them will be Inquisition, The Foreshadowing, and Death Wolf as supporting bands. Below are a list of dates:

2/20 – Springfield, VA @ Empire
2/21 – Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
2/22 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
2/23 – New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
2/24 – Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
2/25 – Toronto, ON @ Wreck Room
2/26 – Millvale, PA @ Mr. Small’s Theatre
2/27 – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
2/28 – Saint Paul, MN @ Station 4
3/01 – Winnipeg, MB @ Osborne Village Inn
3/02 – Regina, SK @ The Exchange
3/03 – Edmonton, AB @ Pawn Shop
3/04 – Calgary, AB @ Dickens
3/05 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
3/06 – Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
3/07 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
3/08 – Oakland, CA @ Oakland Opera House
3/09 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Vex
3/10 – Tempe, AZ @ 910 Live
3/11 – Albuquerque, NM @ TBC
3/12 – Dallas, TX @ Tomcats West
3/13 – San Antonio, TX @ Korova
3/15 – Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
3/16 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade

Before this tour, Marduk will be playing a few shows in Australia and New Zealand. They will also be headlining Deathkult Open Air in Germany and will also be playing Hellfest, With Full Force Open Air Festival, Brutal Assault Festival, and Summer Breeze Open Air Festival in the summer of 2013.

Atragon – Volume 1

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 22nd December 2012 by hammersmashedlauren

Atragon
Volume 1
Released: 14th December, 2012
Doom Metal
Released via Witch Hunter Records

Although doom metal really isn’t my preferred choice of metal, I was thoroughly impressed by how well executed Atragon’s EP Volume 1 was. With only two tracks that add up to a total of almost 25 minutes, I was drawn to the slow, melodic riffs paired with vocals that had the perfect amount of drone and brutality. In their faster riffs, you can hear a definite influence of Candlemass who are just epitome of doom metal, and it’s those riffs paired with the slower parts that made this EP worth listening to.

Both songs, The Sound in the Halls and Jesus Wept, are both similar in delivery and in depth, although Jesus Wept is the longer of the two. That song was dragged out more with a doomy part placed in the middle of it that really added, in my opinion, to the entire song itself. The slower and doomier parts in both songs actually gave me chills by how beautiful they were, and it’s very hard to give me chills especially with this kind of metal that I’m not entire familiarized by. I’ll admit that I was not really into the music at first, but as I kept listening to it, I felt myself loving it more and more. This band has great musicianship that can be clearly heard in this EP.

I highly recommend checking this EP out. There’s only 150 copies but you can also pay for both songs on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon. I feel that this band will flourish in their music and eventually progress into a successful doom metal band in the way they’re making their music now.

4.7/5

Lauren Gowdy

Fleshgod Apocalypse release new video for The Forsaking!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 22nd December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Fleshgod Apocalypse have released their new video for The Forsaking, taken from their most recent album Agony.

The video was originally meant to premiere on Metal Hammer’s website but  the band released the video via Nuclear Blast’s YouTube channel. The video can be viewed below. The band stated the following on their official Facebook regarding the change of plans for the video’s release: “Folks! Apparently we must fix this Fleshgod Apocalypse style. The wait is enough for everybody. Since nothing seems to move on Metal Hammer, we decided to release the video through the Nuclear Blast channel! It’ll be featured on many zines and portals. We want to thank you all for being patient and for keeping on supporting us. We’re sure the wait has been worthy. Now it’s up to you: SHARE AND MAKE SURE ALL THE FUCKING PEOPLE YOU KNOW SHARE IT!!! \,,/”

 

Victory announce top ten videos of 2012

Posted in News with tags , on 20th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Victory Records have announced your favourite Top 10 Victory music videos of 2012.You can watch the video announcement below and prepare for an amazing New Year!

 

Hammerdrone – A Demon Rising EP

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 20th December 2012 by izaforestspirit

Hammerdrone
A Demon Rising EP
Released: July 2012
Blackened Death Metal/Death Metal
Self-released

‘A Demon Rising’ is the debut EP from the Canadian blackened death metal band Hammerdrone.

First up is the title track with some Behemoth-style death metal guitar riffs. The singer’s growling or more accurately gurgling reminds me a little of other death metal acts such as Six Feet Under. There’s also hints of early Amon Amarth in some of the guitar patterns and the vocal style which can be heard on ‘Last Stand On Gibraltar’. Though unlike Amon Amarth, these guys have also incorporated a thrash metal tinge to their guitars, hence the Behemoth comparison.

‘Another Winter’ has an atmospheric intro in which the guitars provide a contrast the eeriness of the howling wind in the background before the vocals kick in. That particular track offers some pleasant sounding melodic guitar riffs. In ‘Annihilation In Equilibrium’ the emphasis shifts briefly towards the vocals which vary from growls to the occasional shout before the EP reaches its climax with an impressive guitar solo towards the latter half of the track.

Overall this is EP offers a range of different styles from death metal, melo-death to blackened death metal. Their style may not be the easiest to categorize but that only adds to the appeal.

3.5/5

Iza Raittila

 

Epica confirmed for Asia shows in 2013

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 20th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Dutch symphonic metal outfit Epica, who have just finished their France and UK tour with Stream of Passion, have been confirmed for three shows in China and Taiwan in April 2013. All three shows will be the first ever Epica shows in China and Taiwan.

Dates are as followed:

April 2013

11 – Yu Gong Live House, Beijing, China.
13 – Mao Live House, Shanghai, China.
14 – KHS Hall, Taipei, Taiwan.

Further info on Epica’s 2013 shows and tour dates can be found at this location.

 

Epica w/Stream of Passion @ Corporation, Sheffield

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 20th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Epica & Stream of Passion
Corporation, Sheffield
12th December 2012

T’was a cold night as we waited outside Corporation in Sheffield, following our interview with Marcela Bovio of Stream of Passion [Interview can be read here], so by the time we had found ourselves in the venue we were more than excited for what was to come.

I find myself very fortunate to see every band that I do live, however I feel especially fortunate to of seen Stream of Passion not only this year but also last year while they toured with Leaves’ Eyes due to Visions of Atlantis cancelling to prepare for the festival they had a few weeks after. The band opened up with the song Lost which is the opening track to their latest album Darker Days – an energetic starting with mixes of both guitars and the violin bringing that distant Latino feeling until later in the song when they hit the first verses does that feeling come back. I was surprised that Marcela didn’t walk on and perform this song with band (like she does later) with the violin, though the energy was probably needed as not many of the audience members had heard of Stream of Passion, so with that it was probably the best song to start with and get them going.

Moving onto the next song, Passion, which belongs to the first album the band’s set takes a slower pace whilst displaying the vocals of leading lady Marcela Bovio. The performance picked up its pace with the performance of Collide. Later on in their performance, Marcela picks up the violin situated on the stage and plays the emotive introduction to Scarlet Mark while the guitars echo softly in the background. Stream of Passion continued on with songs such as My Leader and their rendition of Street Spirit (originally performed by Radiohead). I praise the vocals of Marcela on this a lot the women can really hold a tune. Over all I was little disappointed with the performance as that they had a very similar setlist to which they did with Leaves’ Eyes. On a more positive note I really enjoyed the song s that were performed and how they really were (the band connected to the music) which like I mentioned rubbed off on the audience.

[4/5 – Danielle Eley]

Having seen Epica on their last UK tour in March 2011, it’s safe to say I was overly excited to see them again which would explain the lack of sleep I had for several days before the show. The crowd were already more than warmed up from Stream of Passion’s performance which I sadly missed most of it as I was interviewing Isaac Delahaye from Epica [The interview can be found at this location]. While this was the second time I would see Epica, it was the first time I had seen them with their new bassist Rob van der Loo [ex-Delain] who did a brilliant job on bass duties throughout the night.

Opening up with the mystifying Monopoly On Truth, the band moved onto Sensorium which garnered a huge reaction from the crowd as it displayed the emotion in Simone’s voice. Symphonic medleys were blasted out aplenty by Coen throughout Epica’s set as the staunch combination of thundering bass and snarling guitars tore Sheffield a new one. Mark and Isaac certainly are a dynamic duo when it comes to guitar playing. The emotive performance of The Obsession Devotion went down well with the crowd as the beautiful mix of Simone’s and Mark’s vocals shined out while Epica’s performance of Cry For The Moon was very soulful. One thing that did catch me off guard was the disco rendition of The Phantom Agony – Which was performed after Ariën’s heavy but acutely played drum solo. It was an entertaining part of the set indeed as most of the band had their own little rave on stage. The encore was comprised of Sancta Terra, Storm The Sorrow (taken from Requiem for the Indifferent) and Consign to Oblivion. All three of which were powerfully performed and were a truly epic(a) end to the show.  Hopefully Epica will be back in the UK next year!

[5/5 – Nico Davidson]

The Sorrow – Misery-Escape

Posted in Review on 19th December 2012 by izaforestspirit

The Sorrow
Misery-Escape
Due for release/Released: October 2012
Melodic Death Metal/ Metalcore
Released via Label: Napalm Records

‘Misery-Escape’ is the fourth album from the Austrian melodic death metal band The Sorrow. It is the follow up to their self-titled album from 2010.

As soon as the vocals kick in after the intro to ‘Retraced Memories’, it’s pretty that this is more ‘core’ than melodic death metal! I mean, don’t get me wrong as the music isn’t bad; there’s some decent guitar riffs, if you ignore the occasional bread-down that is, but the vocals piercing through the song just make my ears sore. If it’s not the half-arsed, badly executed attempts to melodeath-style growling, it’s the evermore irritating clean vocals which have a habit of wrecking even the most promising of songs. ‘Burial Bridge’ being a good example of this; decent guitar riffs and good atmosphere right before the vocals enter the fold. Such a shame!

That pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album. You really have to listen out for that unique, melodic guitar riff or the atmospheric intro to a track and cherish that brief moment of joy before the vocals start and destroy everything their path. Take ‘Buried In The Deep’ for instance, it has some really pleasant sounding guitar melodies, if only they would have left it as an instrumental. Then there’s the soothing, atmospheric guitar part half way through ‘A Thin Red Line’. Sadly it’s not long before that too is eradicated by the appalling vocals and the break-downs storming through like a tornado.

Another example of this problem is ‘Lost Chapters’ which offers another promising, melodic guitar intro and outro. It’s a shame that they had to add the squealing vocals to what was an otherwise decent sounding melodic death metal ballad.

2/5

Iza Raittila

Absolva – Flames of Justice

Posted in Review on 19th December 2012 by izaforestspirit

Absolva
Flames of Justice
Released: November 2012
Heavy Metal
Released via  Rocksector Records

‘Flames of Justice’ is the debut album from the Manchester-based, British heavy metal band Absolva. The band features two members from the classic metal band Fury UK and has already started to gain recognition after their performance at Bloodstock Open Air last summer.

First up is the title track ‘Flames of Justice’ with some catchy guitar riffs and standard heavy metal style clean vocals. There’s even a few guitar solos added to the mix. Speaking of guitars, one interesting fact about this band is that they have two lead guitarists; an unusual mix but it seems to work well. In many ways this is a very guitar-focused album with tracks such as ‘Hundred Years’ highlighting the reasons why this particular guitar combination is so powerful. There’s something special about the synchronized melodies produced by the two guitars which makes each one’s individual pattern all the more noticable.

There’s also tracks like ‘Breathe’ where the focus shifts briefly towards the vocals as the guitars turn on to the progressive side and the overall pace slows down a little. One thing I wasn’t expecting was the acoustic style instrumental ‘State Of Grace’ which, once again highlights the skills of the guitarist. Unexpected but pleasant-sounding nonetheless. Then it’s back to good old, classic heavy metal with ‘From Beyond The Light’ offering a fair share of good guitar solos. Another noteworthy track is the catchy and energetic ‘Empires’ in which the guitar solos and the combination of leads and vocals ensure that the album ends on a high.

Overall this is a very promising debut. It’s good to see new bands producing this type of heavy metal rather than following the metal-core trend that seems to dominate the scene nowadays.

4/5

Iza Raittila

New Enforcer track available for free download

Posted in News with tags , , , on 19th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

In anticipation of their new studio album Death By Fire (due to be released by 4th February 2013), Enforcer have released a free download of their new track Mesmerized By Fire.

Click here to download the track.

On January, 18th Mesmerized By Fire will also be released on a limited vinyl version – the tracklist is as follows:

A: Mesmerized By Fire
B:  You Can Be (non album track)

Olof Wikstrand comments:  Mesmerized by Fire is more or less the title track from the Death By Fire album. I think within four minutes it captures pretty much everything about Enforcer:  intensity and power mixed with a touch of melody and melancholy. The B-side is a cover of Nagazaki‘s You Can Be. It is a track with mega potential from a band that unfortunately never made it in the 80s.” 

Pre-order your copy of Enforcer‘s upcoming album at this location.

JFAC to headline Bonecrusher 2013

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 19th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Job For A Cowboy will return to Europe in March to headline this year´s Bonecrusher Fest tour!

They’ll be joined by Beneath The Massacre, War From A Harlots Mouth, Gorod, As they Burn and Make Them Suffer.

Tour dates are as followed:

01/03/13 – DE – Köln – Underground
02/03/13 – NL – Drachten – Iduna
03/03/13 – UK – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms
04/03/13 – UK – Glasgow – Cathouse
05/03/13 – UK – Leeds – Uni Mine
06/03/13 – UK – London – Underworld

07/03/13 – BE – Antwerpen – Trix
08/03/13 – FR – Savigny le Temple – Empreinte
09/03/13 – FR – Montauban – Rio
10/03/13 – ES – Madrid – Sala Caracol
11/03/13 – ES – Badalona – Sala Estraperlo
13/03/13 – LU – Esch-Alzette – Kulturfabrik
14/03/13 – CH – Yverdon-les-Bains – L’Amalgame
15/03/13 – CH – Aarau – Kiff
16/03713 – DE – München – Backstage
17/03/13 – AT – Graz – Explosiv
18/03/13 – DE – Würzburg – Posthalle
19/03/13 – DE – Berlin – Lido
20/03/13 – PL – Warsaw – Progresja
21/03/13 – CZ – Brno – Melodka
22/03/13 – DE – Chemnitz – Talschock
23/03/13 – DE – Rostock – Alte Zuckerfabrik
25/03/13 – FI – Helsinki – Nosturi
27/03/13 – SE – Stockholm – Göta Källare
28/03/13 – SE – Gothenburg – Brewhouse
29/03/13 – DK – Copenhagen – Pumpehuset
30/03/13 – DE – Bochum – Matrix

Check out the video for Tarnished Gluttony at this location.

Monolithe – Monolithe III

Posted in Review with tags , , on 19th December 2012 by Paul

Monolithe
Monolithe III
Released: November 16th 2012
Doom Metal
Released via Debenmur Morti Productions

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Monolithe are a Funeral Doom band hailing from Paris, France. To date, they have produced three full length albums, titled simply Monolithe I, Monolithe II, and now Monolithe III. Each album features one 50 minute track, named after the album. This is a band that doesn’t mess around.

Monolithe III is 52 minutes of epic, crushing doom. Like Sleep’s renowned Dopesmoker album, it rolls onward from riff to riff, somehow managing to get heavier as it goes along. This is intermittently broken up by numerous atmospheric interludes, as the album gradually fluctuates from heavy to light, fast to slow. The album slowly builds and builds as the song becomes more immediate and fast as time rolls on, and the ending is incredibly dramatic, though still retains its dark, menacing sound as the journey comes to an end and the song fades away. Whilst a lot of Epic Metal such as this attempts a sound that is more emotionally moving, like the sound of a great battle, Monolithe instead create a huge and mysterious sound that is more distant from the listener. This is more guitar based and less keyboard-laden than a lot of atmospheric metal, but there is a haunting sparseness to much of the music which conjures up mental images of the vastness of space and the ominous monolith that adorns the album artwork.

The band’s lyrical themes are listed on Metal Archives as “Origin of Mankind” and by taking a look at past album lyrics, and bearing in mind the band’s chosen moniker, I suspect there may be a Stanley Kubrick/Arthur C Clark influence here. Either way I find this far more interesting than the usual self-pitying doom and gloom lyrics that the Funeral Doom genre is saturated with. It’s this conceptual integrity that holds everything together, despite its ambitious scope and allows the band to tell a surreal story through their music. I wouldn’t recommend this to the average listener, but this album is a rewarding journey and I only wish more bands had this kind of singular focus.

4.3/5

Paul Gibbins

 

Interview with Marcela Bovio [Stream of Passion]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , on 18th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Danielle Eley catches up with Marcela Borvia, frontwoman for Mexican/Dutch symphonic metal band Stream of Passion a couple of hours before their show at Sheffield on 12th December.

Danielle: Hi Marcela, it’s nice to meet you finally. I saw you [Stream of Passion] last time when you toured with Leaves’ Eyes. This is your second [UK] show with Epica on the tour, how’s it going?

Marcela: It’s going great. We’ve had three shows so far – two in France and one, yesterday, in Nottingham – So yeah, it’s going great. We knew the combination works really well, from this year in April with the European tour, together with Epica. The audiences are fantastic. We share a bus with them [Epica], so it’s also a lot of fun, so yeah, we’re really enjoying it.

D: That’s great. Like I mentioned before, you toured with Leaves’ Eyes, but this year you’re doing more UK dates. Are you excited?

M: Oh, definitely! Especially since it’s a country that we haven’t had the chance to tour properly, especially back in the beginning when the band was just starting, so it’s always nice to see some different places. We also had time to visit the city a little.

D: So you’ve been for a look round Sheffield then?

M: Yeah!

D: Did you enjoy it?

M: Yeah, I did. I found a place that did falafels and bought some stuff, which is always nice, if you have the chance to do that.

D: The perks of touring?

M: Yeah.

D: I’ve been doing my research and language is a big part of Stream of Passion. You conduct in both English and Spanish, whose idea was that?

M: Funnily enough, originally the idea came from Arjen Lucassen who was in the band at the beginning. Well, he’s Dutch and he thought it would be nice if you’d put some Spanish into the songs, so I was like okay. Of course, I like the idea of singing in my native language. The audiences in America aren’t used to hearing something that’s not in English but in Europe, it’s way more well received and people actually enjoy it a lot. So, yeah, that’s great and I went ahead and did and nowadays, I just go ahead and give myself the freedom to write whatever language I feel like.

D: It’s the same in the UK though, isn’t it?

M: Yeah, I think it’s really great that people over here are able to appreciate that. Even that maybe you don’t understand the words, there’s the musicality and the ring to it and the musicality of the language is completely different. Well, for me, it’s a nice way of expressing myself.

D: On the topic of language, have you thought about bringing any others in as you speak French a little bit and you also speak Dutch?

M: Yeah but my Dutch is way better than my French. For some reason, I don’t think any Dutch bands think it’s cool to sing in Dutch.

D: Really?

M: Yeah! It’s really funny because basically most Dutch is very popular or like folky or kinda tacky music – At least that’s the impression I get from the metal bands anyway. But I like it. We might have the first Dutch symphonic metal song written by a Mexican.

D: Well, why not? While we’re on that subject, you did Nadie Lo Ve in Spanish. Why just that song? Because the other songs are in both English and Spanish. This one is completely in Spanish.

M: Well, you know when I’m writing the songs, I usually start with the music and the melodies for them and when I’m creating the melodies, I already have an idea like “okay, this has to be in language” or “this has to be in another language”.  That also gives me ideas of what the song should be about. But basically that song I had written along time ago but I hadn’t put any words to it, but I had basically come up with the inspiration for the words a few years ago when my grandmother passed away, so it was a very obvious choice to make it in Spanish. I felt it was right.

D: I thought it would have been because there’s a lyric in it which goes “He speaks words I don’t understand” because the vast majority speak English.

M: Actually, that idea, that image, is basically about things happening that you can’t comprehend and when someone passes away, it’s always beyond our understanding. It’s kinda like a metaphor, not being able to understand some words. I like your interpretation of it! It’s really nice, it’s…

D: It shows I’m interested.

M: Yeah!

D: Even though Darker Days was released last year, are there any ideas for a new album?

M: Yeah, actually, we’ve been writing for a little while so we have some new songs already but we’re not gonna be playing any of them tonight but we are gonna be playing some new stuff at the end of the year in Holland, where we have this end of the year show where we have all sorts of guests, joining us for songs and stuff. So, it’s nice to keep working on new stuff.

D: That does tie with our next question because there’s rumours you’ve left Napalm Records.

M: That’s true, yes.

D: So have you found a new record label that you want to work with or are going to work with?

M: We’re still figuring that out, reaching out and figuring out what the best options would be for us. So there is still a lot of uncertainty in that area. We’re not discarding the idea of going, maybe. But yeah, we’re still figuring that out.

D: As I was saying, I’ve been doing my research. You featured on Ayreon’s album. How did that happen because you weren’t known before that and it was before Stream of Passion formed?

M: Well, actually, the whole thing happened with Arjen Lucassen, the man behind Ayreon. It was this kind of rock opera thing with all different singers. He started a contest through his website, he asked you know “if you’re a singer and you wanna be apart of Ayreon, just send me a CD and I’ll pick someone”. A friend told me about this and I had a band in Mexico, so I sent him a CD and he ended up picking me for the part. From like a couple of hundred CDs that he got, he picked me and flew me over to Holland – He’s also Dutch – And I ended up recording on this album of his and along with James LaBrie from Dream Theatre and Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth and for me, it was just this insane experience. The whole thing with the two of us triggered Stream of Passion because at the beginning Arjen and I, we wrote this album together – the first album, Embrace the Storm – It’s also how Stream of Passion came to exist.

D: As you said, you wrote Embrace The Storm with Arjen, was it different when you wrote The Flame Within, as he wasn’t there?

M: I had always co-written with someone so The Flame Within was the first time I had to write on my own. It was a very big step but it was also very satisfying period for me because it was a challenge, but it was also very rewarding, especially looking back to it and seeing what the record became.

D: Would you go back and change anything, now that you’ve gained more experience?

M: Well, I wouldn’t change anything about it, I like it the way it is because it’s what I had to say at the time but these days I’m writing a little bit more complicated stuff, a little more ambitious. It’s all part of a process basically.

D: As you had said before, you had a bit of musical experience because you had a band in Mexico, are there any others in the band that had experience before joining Stream of Passion?

M: They can tell you themselves but basically, everyone has had other bands or projects before this one. For that matter, we’ve all seen the beginnings with other bands, so we all know what it’s like, and that’s nice because we all know how hard it is  to make your way in the music business and we all know what to expect. So, that’s good.

D: It is hard in the music business but do you feel that as you’re described as femme metal, it discriminates you?

M: It’s funny because it’s a two edge sword, there are people who are gonna easily listen to heavy metal that is led by a woman’s voice and that can be an advantage. Like for instance, I don’t know if you guys have been to Metal Female Voices Festival in Belgium but it’s this huge festival that covers everything that is heavy metal fronted by a woman. There are like thousands of people who are looking forward to discovering more of these bands because they like this. I don’t think it’s a genre because it doesn’t say anything about the music itself. Sometimes, it can be a disadvantage like you wanna play somewhere and they’re like “sorry, we already have a female fronted metal band”. Then it becomes a flotilla because the music is so different – Like Epica and us, because I don’t think we have all that much in common. But then again, their fanbase can appreciate what we do as well, so far. So yeah, it’s a two edge sword.

D: So, which song do you feel defines Stream of Passion as a whole?

M: Uh, wow. There are a couple of ones, from the last album. I really like, Lost, the opening track because I think that one of its main characteristics – especially with music I like to write – is that it’s very dramatic, kind of driven and also… Kind of melancholic in some ways. So, Lost is one of those tracks that from my feeling has that kind of atmosphere I really want to impress on music I make and I like Darker Days, the title track from the album, it has a little bit of Spanish in there and that vibe which I think makes it our own.

D: If you could replace the soundtrack to any film with your own music, which one would it be and why?

M: Oh my goodness. That’s a very good question. I think it would have to be… Something rather dark for it to fit. I have no idea. I guess like a horror movie or something. Or a thriller. Silent Hill!

D: I was watching that last night, how funny.

M: Or The Ring or something. But yeah, Silent Hill. Someone made this whole video montage with one of our songs with Silent Hill images. That was really cool.

D: The last question; your latest question, Scarlet Mark, it says on the YouTube link that you had 48 hours to make it all. How did that happen? Did you have to write all and then film it and produce it?

M: Basically, it was this brilliant project – I think it’s a global thing – the 48 hour film project and they have this sub-category which is the 48 hour music video. Which basically meant that we went to somewhere in Holland and we were there with like five other different artists, bands. So it was all completely different kinds of music and there were also five different video production teams and we basically got to pick from a hat the name of the team that we were working with and we got the 48 hours to make a music video. Of course, we didn’t know what to expect but it was really cool and Careface Productions are the name of the company we got to work with and they’re these really cool, young guys. We just sat down that very same evening and started discussing the ideas behind the song and they were like “okay, got it”. That was a Friday evening and we spent Saturday – almost all day – shooting. Just like work, constantly, throughout the day and night through to Sunday to get this video done. We’d never heard of this project before and when we did,we just wanted to give it a try. It was awesome and we wanna work with them again. So, it was actually a win-win situation.

D: Well, that’s the end of it. Thanks for your time.

Interview with Isaac Delahaye [Epica]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , on 18th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Nico Davidson has a last minute interview with Epica lead guitarist and co-songwriter, Isaac Delahaye at Corporation, Sheffield. The two discuss the next Epica album, Requiem for the Indifferent and other things.

Nico: Hi Isaac, it’s an honour to meet you. How are ya doing?

Isaac: I’m doing great, thank you.

N: Good, good. How’s the tour gone so far then?

I: Well, it’s still starting. We went to Switerzland and then France, did a couple of shows there, so yesterday was really the first one in the UK.

N: Requiem For The Indifferent was released earlier this year, what are the main concepts surrounding the album?

I: You mean lyrically?

N: Yeah.

I: Well, basically, it’s not a concept album but the main topics are concerning like if you look around at what’s happening. It seems like the world is going down, it’s not going that well with the financial crisis, all the oil leaks and tsunamis, other natural disasters and all that kinda stuff, dictators and stuff and all that is very present lately. To us, it seems like the concept, the title; Requiem For The Indifferent and the people who are just like “ah, I don’t care what’s happening around me” and “it doesn’t make a difference if I do this” and that’s being indifferent, basically, so that’s a very big part of people who basically don’t care what’s happening around them and because of that, the people who have the power, which is a very small amount of people, they just get more and more power. Even if, say the financial bubble explodes, and if we wouldn’t care about anything, these same people will take power again and the whole thing will not change eventually. So basically, it’s sort of a wake-up call for people to actually do something about things, if they don’t agree on what’s actually then maybe it’s time to just do something about it. It’s basically the same theme as Design Your Universe [2009], like if you design your own universe you can’t really blame yourself for trying and if your motives are right then eventually you’re gonna live your dream or gonna get where you want to be, if you do it with the right attitude and the right goal.

N: How would you say Requiem For The Indifferent differs from the previous album, Design Your Universe?

I: Well, thing with Design Your Universe, it was seen, to many people, as a sort of masterpiece within the genre, so that obviously puts quite some pressure on our shoulders. Therefore, the first thing we agreed on was to not try do something similar, so it’s obviously still Epica and still has all the same elements, but we wanted to start really fresh and with new ideas and not really compare it to what we did in the past and I think one of the main differences was writing the album, incorporating the vocal lines really early in the whole process and I think eventually in the whole album, the whole music supports more and more of the vocal lines and therefore, they appear to be a little bit more catchy, I think and the overall atmosphere of the album is more dark than ever before. I think that’s also due to the lyrics because we wanted it to match. So yeah, it’s a little darker and there’s a little more grunts and more heavy parts, so the dynamics are a little wider. But apart from that, it’s still the standard Epica stuff – choirs, symphonic orchestras, grunts, normal vocals. So, it’s not that we’re a different band.

N: What would you say is your favourite track from Requiem For The Indifferent?

I: I think the opening track, after Monopoly On Truth, is really cool because it basically has what any opening track from any album has – For an Epica album, it contains all the elements right there, it’s aggressive, it’s pretty intimate sometimes, a lot of orchestration and choirs and a song like Deter The Tyrant is cool because it’s a little different from what Epica has done so far because there’s guitar melodies, which are still kinda new to Epica’s music, so there two are cool. I think it’s always hard to pick one because Epica makes albums, not songs. So, it’s like the whole album is seen as one thing.

N: Epica has had a really busy schedule this year touring Europe, the US, South America, Australia and now, obviously, the UK. So far, for you, what’s been the best show of the year?

I: It’s hard to say. The thing is if you do festivals, like in the summer, it’s good weather, you see your friends from other bands, other bands you’ve toured with in the past and it’s kind of a holidays feeling and you play for a shit load of people at once, so that’s cool but by the end of summer season, “oh, I’m looking forward to these club shows again” but at the end of a tour, it’s the other way round like now, with it being the end of the year, you’re like “yeah, it would be cool to play a big festival again”. So, it’s really hard to answer that question because it all has a certain atmosphere, good or bad. I think that basically, if you go to a show or if I go on a stage, people are enthusiastic, even if it’s ten people or ten thousand people, as cheesy as it sounds but I’m not picky when it comes to having a good time on stage and it’s not always perfect, but I learn to deal with it. Yeah, as long as the people are having a good time and are basically happy – Lately, most of the shows are like that, luckily, so I can’t complain. I’ve had a really good year touring. Apart from that, it’s also about the production. The UK, for instance, like this tour, we’re in a market where we still have to grow – It’s not our main market but we still try to bring as many things as we can like little details for the stage, the lights and we have our own light engineer and stuff. So we always try to do something special and I really like it when you can see it coming alive during the show and you hear afterwards from people who are like “I really liked the lights” or this or that element. So yeah, I can’t complain. I like playing more than being in a studio. They’re all cool in a certain way.

N: Even though Requiem For The Indifferent was released earlier this year, does Epica have any plans for new material?

I: We’ve almost wrote a whole new album ready. We have kind of a crazy schedule but still, like in the meantime, when we’re home, especially me and Mark [Rhythm guitarist]. We write a lot. We sit sit down and start writing more and more ideas, one after the other. For some reason, it matches really well when he composes starting from the orchestration while I compose starting from the guitars, so the match is really good. So far, we have something like ten songs but with really basic structures. I guess after this tour, we have some rest but then we start doing pre-production and then I think we’re gonna start recording somewhere late summer next year, for end of the year release, maybe or early 2014 or something like that if we survive, because you know, the whole world is gonna go down.

N: Like you’ve just stated, you’ve pretty much wrote an entire new album, is there any lyrical themes surrounding the new material at this point?

I: We don’t really have anything lyrically yet because that’s the next step. With the basic structures, we’re gonna start incorporating vocals and all that, so concerning lyrics, we don’t know yet. From what I hear now and from what we have now, it’s gonna be like what I said with Requiem For The Indifferent, a little dark, you know, it has some quite progressive elements. Sometimes, over-the-top elements but I think with the new album, from what I hear now, it will be a little less dark and more catchy and easier to grab. Requiem was an album that if you didn’t listen to it ten times, you didn’t get it. It’s not something you pick up right away, which is what we like but some people just listen once and they go “ah, it’s shit” and they just leave it for what it is. So I think the next album is gonna be a little more straight forward, so we’re probably going back to the beginning for next album. But there’s still so much pre-production to be done, so it’s hard to say. That’s how I see it right now. You know, you’re never gonna do the same album twice and it’s a good counter for what we did with Requiem.

N: If you could replace the soundtrack to any film with your own music, which one would it be and why?

I: Well, I wish I would have made the one for Gladiator. But replace? I wouldn’t replace it, it’s brilliant. I don’t know, I guess if I don’t remember the music then it’s to be replaced. If I don’t like it then I don’t really notice the music.

N: Last question then. What song do you feel defines Epica as a whole?

I: I don’t know. I guess if you put all the opening tracks together, like I said, and the last tracks of every album then that would basically be every song that represent Epica, like all the elements and stuff.

N: Thanks for your time, Isaac and good luck with the show tonight.