Archive for December, 2013

Robert Åkerlund becomes permanent member of The End Of Grace

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 31st December 2013 by Pieni

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The End Of Grace finish 2013 announcing that Robert Åkerlund is now a permanent member of the band. Original guitarist Sulan Von Zoomlander had some personal affairs to take care of that prevented him to play TEoG‘s debut live performance at Rockbitch Boat and its follow-up at Göta Källare. Robert, who had played in Road To Repent along guitarist Jimmy Bergman and bassist/clean singer Johan Hagman, was called to fill in. Now that Sulan is leaving for good, Robert is the undoubtful perfect choice.

Quoting drummer Thomas Manell in the interview which Valkyrian did with the band last month, » One thing I can say about Robert is you can really tell that they’ve played together before. It’s a thing of magic. It’s like kindergarten all over.« Johan added: » Robert’s a great guitar player and he can feel the rhythm like Sulan does. «

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Nico’s Highlights of 2013

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Featured with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

So, it’s that time of year when everyone picks out their highlights of the year. I figured that this year, I’ll jump on the bandwagon. So here are my highlights of 2013… Including a few non-metal releases!

Best Albums Of 2013:

1. Leaves’ Eyes – Symphonies Of The Night

2. Azylya – Sweet Cerebral Destruction

3. Wretched Soul – Veronica

4. Seduce The Heaven – Field Of Dreams

5. Hecate Enthroned – Virulent Rapture

Best Live Acts of 2013:

1. Re-Armed

2. Azylya

3. Delain

4. The CockRockets

5. Bharghest

Best Yorkshire Bands of 2013:

1. Severed Heaven

2. Bharghest

3. Narcotic Death

4. XIII

5. Skull Branded Pirates

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Best Non-Metal Albums of 2013:

1. Janet Devlin – Hide & Seek

2. Kelly Clarkson – Wrapped In Red

3. Ben Parcell – Expectations

Pieni’s Highlights of 2013

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated on 30th December 2013 by Pieni

Given my passion for live music, I’ll start by listing the 5 gigs I’ve enjoyed the most this year:
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  1. Hardcore Superstar at Koko (London)
  2. The End Of Grace at Rockbitch Boat (Baltic Sea)
  3. Hypocrisy at Hard Club (Porto)
  4. Skid Row at Electric Ballroom (London)
  5. Def Leppard at Palacio Vistalegre (Madrid)

Of course the shows can’t roll on without new music here and there, so now I give you my top-5 of releases:
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  1. “Lost in Transition” by The End Of Grace
  2. “Wrong Side Of Heaven and Righteous Side Of Hell – vol. 1” by Five Finger Death Punch
  3. “C’mon Take On Me” by Hardcore Superstar
  4. “Daggers” by The Defiled
  5. “The Living Infinite” by Soilwork

In a time where live and lyric videos are getting so much popular, I’d like to show my appreciation for those who can afford to go beyond that:

  1. “Unspoken” by The Defiled
  2. “There Are Those Who Kill Violently” by Dementia 13
  3. “Hit On The Radio” by Blowsight
  4. “Rise Above The Sentiment” by Soilwork
  5. “California” by CrashDïet

Last but not least, my top-5 anticipations for 2014:
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  1. The End Of Grace – if I was all hyped with just an EP, I can’t wait to hear the full length!
  2. Sonic Syndicate – their hiatus is finally over, I’m super excited about their return.
  3. Sister – I only paid attention to them recently, but they won me over! I sure want to know what else they’ve got.
  4. Equaleft – those groovy Portuguese guys are preparing something big.
  5. Man.Machine.Industry – it’s been announced they’re changing things a bit… Let’s see what those changes are.

Happy New Year everyone!

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Iza’s Highlights of 2013

Posted in Industrial, Live, Metal, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 30th December 2013 by izaforestspirit

It’s been one hell of a busy year in the world of alternative music. Lots of great new releases, memorable shows and festivals. I’ve decided to write a short summary of some of the highlights of 2013. Here are some of the albums that caught my attention this year:

1. Chthonic – Bú Tik
Genre: Melodic Black Metal/ Oriental Metal

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This is easily my favourite metal album of 2013. ‘Bú Tik’ brings together the aggression of black and death metal with the melodic oriental sounds of the erhu for that unique mix that only Chthonic are renowned for. The results of this combination are both complex and beautiful in their design. Best tracks: ‘Supreme Pain For a Tyrant’, ‘Sail into The Sunset’s Fire’ and Defenders of Bú Tik Palace’.

2. Suicide Commando – When Evil Speaks
Genre: Industrial/ Aggrotech/ Harsh Electro

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I’ve been a fan of Suicide Commando for a number of years now. ‘When Evil Speaks’ is the long-awaited follow-up to ‘Implements of Hell’. Based around the overall subject of hate and evil in today’s society; the album features dark and sinister lyrical themes, old-school EBM tunes and Aggrotech dance-floor hits. Best tracks: ‘My Blasphemy’, ‘Unterwelt’ and ‘Monster’.

3. Children of Bodom – Halo of Blood
Genre: Melodic Death/Power Metal

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I’ve been of a fan of this band since my early teens, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to review their latest album. Aside from the odd surprise such as the ballad ‘Dead Man’s Hand On You’, ‘Halo of Blood’ features the signature Bodom sound and is without a shadow of doubt their strongest release in years. Best tracks: ‘Transference’ , ‘Bodom Blue Moon’ and ‘Dead Man’s Hand On You’.

4. Psyclon Nine – [Order of the Shadow : Act I]
Genre: Aggrotech/ Industrial Metal

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This band is not an easy one to categorise into a specific genre. Some industrial and EBM fans dismiss their style by saying that their black metal influences are too strong to earn them a place in the industrial scene. Not that I give a damn since that’s precisely why I like them. ‘Order of The Shadow…” is their harshest and most aggressive release to date. After 10 tracks of intense, adrenaline fueled, blackened industrial, I was shocked to hear the sombre ballads at the end. Best tracks: ‘Shadows Unveiled’ , ‘Use Once and Destroy’ and ‘The Saint and The Valentine’.

5. Agathodaimon – In Darkness
Genre: Melodic Black Metal/ Symphonic Black Metal

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This album marks a departure from the gothic metal days of its predecessor ‘Phoenix’ and a return their older, melodic black metal sound depicted in earlier releases such as ‘Chapter III’ and ‘Higher Art of Rebellion’. Whilst not quite reaching the greatness of ‘Chapter III’ (an album which holds a special place in my heart); ‘In Darkness’ is definitely a step in the right direction, offering a mixture of agression and melancholic melodies. Best tracks: ‘In Darkness (We Shall be Reborn), ‘I’ve Risen’ and ‘Favourite Sin’.

Best Live Shows of 2013

1. Sabaton live at Sauna Open Air, Tampere, Finland.

2. Children of Bodom live at Sauna Open Air, Tampere, Finland.

3. Chthonic live at Klubi, Tampere, Finland.

4. Suicide Commando live in London, the U.K.

5. Heimataerde live at KOMA festival, Oslo, Norway.

Best New Discovery of 2013: ErilaZ
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This Finnish band caught my attention during their performance at this year’s Lumous festival in Tampere, Finland. What do they sound like? Imagine a mixture of Fear Factory, Front Line Assembly with the combined lyrical themes of Amon Amarth. Impossible, you say? Go on, I dare you to give them a try!

To finish off I’d like to list some of the releases that I’m looking forward to in 2014:

Most Anticipated Albums of 2014:

1. Behemoth – The Satanist
Genre: Blackened Death Metal
Release Date: 3rd February 2014

2. Vader – TIBI ET IGNI “For You (and only You) and Fire
Genre: Death Metal
Release Date: Spring 2014

3. Kampfar – Djevelmakt
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

Release Date: 27th January, 2014

4. Combichrist – We Love You
Genre: Industrial/ Aggrotech
Release Date: 15th March 2014

5. Nachtmahr – Feindbild
Genre: Industrial/ Aggrotech
Release Date: 14th February 2014

That’s all for now. Happy New Year!

Equaleft reveal title for upcoming debut album

Posted in News with tags , , , on 25th December 2013 by Pieni

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In a 33-second teaser, Equaleft have revealed on this Christmas day the title of their upcoming debutl album (a “kind of” studio report can be seen here). “Adapt & Survive” will be released through Raising Legends and Raging Planet in the Spring of 2014.

Equaleft’s MySpace
Equaleft’s Facebook

SOS Festival announces 2nd day headliners

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 25th December 2013 by Pieni

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Radcliffe Civic (Radcliffe, North Manchester) will hold for the 7th time the SOS Festival. On the 19th and 20th of July a bunch of rock and metal acts will perform on two stages and the headliners of both have just been announced for the second day: I Am I will closing the line-up of The Dean Hocking Stage, while Blaze Bayley will make the honors on The Acoustic Stage.

Here’s how things are looking up so far:
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For more info check the official website: www.sosfestival.net

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Suffocation – Pinnacle of Bedlam

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 24th December 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Suffocation
Pinnacle of Bedlam

Released 15th February
Death Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

Hailing from Long Island, New York, Suffocation is a band that should be familiar to all death metal fans. If not then this album needs to be put into your CD player and cranked up! Formed in 1990, they have gone on to be one of the most recognised bands in Extreme Metal today, with their superior fire-power of brutal vocals, technical riffs, catchy hooks; psych’s, slams, bombs and blasts. A truly innovative band that takes you to the edge of reason, and then cuts you deeply with their infectious groove.

The band has had many line-up changes, whilst Terrence Hobbs has kept the ship afloat with Frank Mullen screaming orders to the ever growing audience. The line up for Pinnacle of Bedlam features the solid unit of the returning Dave Culross on drums, providing the intense blasts, stabs and beat-downs fans of Suffocation have come to expect. Derek Boyer holds down the intense bass playing, grinding with the best of them and finally Guy Marchais playing second but equal fiddle to Hobbs. There is no doubt about the bands insane tightness, and this album is a perfect accompaniment to their back-catalogue, but it also makes a damn good introduction to the band if you are just getting into Suffocation.

The opening track is a hammer blow to split you cranium, cause momentary loss of motor functions and give you un-ending pain. The aptly named Cycles of Suffering bursts into your ears and keeps punishing you throughout. The relentless riffs are the cycles to your suffering and complement the drums with inch perfect precision. Frank’s vocals rumble away, shattering your dreams and crushing your aspirations. The masterpiece to this song is the solo, which shrieks and wails, whilst sitting so comfortably over the fast rhythm. We are then put back in our place by the continuing barrage of riffs.

As Purgatorial Punishment opens, you could be mistaken for actually being in purgatory, especially with the way the songs sound to flow together even with the short reprieve. A well thought out groove of triplets from the guitars, and off-kilter drum beat keep you on your toes for the entire opening section. The odd rhythm to the accompanying section confuses but works to add a major contrast. Back in more familiar territory with the straight death metal feel is the only blessing you will receive before being subject to Terrence Hobbs’ shred chops.

Another small pause before Mr Hobbs scares the daylights out of you with a face melting lead, and then proceeds to show the Eminent Wrath. This song fires on all cylinders and showcases every element of Suffocation’s song-writing prowess. Dave Culross pounds his way through numerous blast beats and fast double bass work. The riffs are infectious, and every beat-down feels like it will break your bones. Certain elements have a distinctly punk feeling to them, which breaks up the full on death of the song and makes you want more.

As Grace Descends is the most well-known song on the album, as it was released as a video single. The video depicts the last party to end all parties before a giant asteroid wipes us all off the face of this wretched cesspit that we call our planet, with Suffocation providing the evening’s entertainment. It could well be a sign of things to come for all you conspiracy theorists out there. The songs unrepentant speed shows off incredible endurance from the band, even the slow section leading up to the solo feels fast thanks to Culross’ drumming. This track just screams end of the world as we know it.

We now come to a rare item on an extreme metal album, a veritable ballad if I may be so bold. I say ballad in term so loose, it makes a wizards sleeve look like a skinny fit jumper. Suffocation have taken their inspiration from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and offer up a song soaked in melancholy, with frozen lyrics, and soul shuddering feeling. This song has a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde moment, with its faster side making a break for it, only to be pulled back to its morbid centre clawing at the fabric of its lyrics.

The title track does what it says on the tin. Pinnacle of Bedlam features many chaotic rhythms, all fighting for supremacy, which reaches its focal point of the lead guitar trade-off between Marchais and Hobbs. It is an excellent outing for Marchais showing that he can hold his own on the shred stage. The lyrics reflect the idea of bedlam, that it is all over the shop and can tip the scales from crazy to psychotic at any time. It also weaves the ideas that we will all meet some catastrophic ending of life, and we are helpless to this purge.

My Demise comes in full force with a battering rhythm right from the off, and is quite possibly the most groove laden track on the album. From the half-time riffs running alongside the drum barrage. Again Marchais shows his chops, and plays one of the most brutally beautiful solos on the album, with a true sense of harmony to match the music. The half-time feel of the song is one of those nice rests within a fast album and takes the pace down a peg or two.

In contrast, Inversion is totally the opposite of My Demise. The first riff opens with Frank growling his way along with the guitars. The fast riffs contained within are uber technical and precise. Hobbs lead takes cues from Marchais’ playing but adding his own flavour to the mix and building on-top of an already strong format. The large, tormenting breakdown adds what i like to call bollocks to an already ballsey song.

Rapture of Revocation starts like a breakdown, and then takes you down a dark lyrical path that questions ones beliefs. The fast pace in later parts is accented with a heavy chug, and keeps drawing you in with harsh speed and pain in your ears. It also serves up a nice amount of religious questioning without being so straightforward. As with the rest of the album, the bass guitar and drums lock in, and harmonise with the guitars in perfect timing and note choice. The end fades on a well chosen breakdown with last lyrics being fed to you one last time before fading into oblivion.

Beginning of Sorrow closes the album with an unbridled brutality. The groove sections have a massive impact and add a good sense of space to the torture. The song acts as more than just an album closer, as it was written as a collaborative effort. It shows what each individual member can bring to the table. The sickening ending twists your innards into submission and should carry a health warning of its own. As a friend of mine once commented on a similar idea, it is a vomitous piece of work.

And so in closing, this album needs to be in your expanding collection of extreme metal. Whether it is your first look at Suffocation, or just one to add to the back catalogue, you need this album to rip out your soul, feed it to the demons in your psyche and give you nightmares of the end of the world. There will come a time where we all reach the Pinnacle of Bedlam.

4/5

Dan Eastwood