Archive for November, 2014

Rockbitch Boat 2014 – day 2

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 24th November 2014 by Pieni

Baltic Sea, somewhere between Riga and Stockholm
9th November 2014

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On Sunday, the boat arrived at Riga’s Tallink ferry terminal at 10:30 in the morning, which in Latvia meant 11:00. As the departure back to Stockholm was scheduled for four-and-a-half hours later, most people went on land to sightsee and get cheaper alcohol. Others, like us, also took the chance to have lunch. Now I wish I could tell you that we sat on a typical Latvian restaurant and had a very local meal, but we came across this flashy American-looking place, with a ‘60s-themed interior design, and we obviously didn’t go any further, ending up having burgers, pizza and Caesar salad. Ah well. photo riga_zps3a3d3d73.jpg

Back on board, the first band would take the Sky Bar stage 18:20 but I was interviewing The End Of Grace around that time, so I missed those blue-ish rockers Trainwreck Remedys. As after the interview I lingered chatting with the TEoG boys, I also missed the “heavier harder melodic hardrock” of Haven, who came next on the same stage. But for BatAAr, who was the other band of this cruise that I REALLY wanted to see, I made sure to be on the front row a few minutes before they hit the Starlight Palace stage, at 20:00. They kicked off with their latest single “Riskbreaker” and for the next half hour they delivered a dazzling mixture of sounds in an enthralling performance.

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 photo inspite_zpsbdfd8eef.jpgThe choices began after BatAAr. Dismissing the Guitar Battle on Sky Bar, I just had to choose between InSpite and Kerbera. And since I was already on Starlight Palace, Kerbera it was. Terrible choice! There was a large number of people way before their gig started, so I thought they’d be good, and so the disappointment was bigger. I don’t know if singer Seike was just having a bad day, but he was constantly going out of tune! Now either people just didn’t care like I did, or that’s really his way of singing, as the crowd was all happy about it… After two songs I was sure it wouldn’t get any better so I gave up and went to the Club Hell stage, where I definitely should have gone in the first place – InSpite were kicking ass up there!

Then I went and indulged my rocker side by attending White Trash Heroes. But I still had time to drop by Sky Bar, where the Guitar Battle was still raging and shoot a couple of pics of Herman Frodit from Skitarg.

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 photo wthd_zps04582458.jpgWhite Trash Heroes is not only the name of a band but also the title of the 5th and last album that Fatal Smile released before splitting up. Which is no coincidence as WTH, the band, was born from the ashes of Fatal Smile, featuring the three members that joined the latter in 2007 – Alx, Blade and Philty. With guitarist Snake, they’ve been performing the songs of the three Fatal Smile albums they’ve played on, but I think my broken Swedish caught a few words about something new coming up. Whatever the case, it was a great show.

Fearless would be on Club Hell for just five more minutes when White Trash Heroes were done on Starlight Palace, so I went straight to Sky Bar to catch the second half of the Black Magic Fools gig – their medieval-folk-meets-heavy-metal is always a treat.

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Between Lizette & and Hellshaker, the first won my vote and there I went back to Starlight Palace. It was running late and Lizette apologized, but I didn’t understand what happened (broken Swedish, remember?). But when it started, it was worth the waiting. And their alternative rock was clearly quite popular among the crowd, which contributed to a very good vibe.

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Pray For Locust was another band that I was eager to check out and it totally paid out. Plus, guitarist Jerry is leaving the band so it felt good being there supporting one of his last shows.

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I wanted to check out Dynazty afterwards, but the whole up-and-down between stages (plus the trip to Stockholm from London, where I’d see Deathstars the night before) was starting to get a toll on me. Not to mention that the following day I had two flights and a 5-hour period between them until I returned home. So I called it a night, leaving also Warthog, Sideburn and Von Trath for another time.

The rating? 5/5, of course!!!

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

At The Gates live in Tampere, Finland

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , on 21st November 2014 by izaforestspirit

Rotten Sound, At The Gates
Klubi, Tampere, Finland
20th November 2014

The Swedish melodic death metal legends haven’t played a club gig in Finland for nineteen years and last night was the first night of their tour. This was also the first time that they played the new songs live. The venue was absolutely packed.

The warm-up was a Finnish grindcore band Rotten Sound. They were only on for about half an hour but since their average song lasts about two minutes, I’m guessing that’s long enough by their standards. I’m not the biggest fan of grindcore so I didn’t really enjoy their show that much. Like most grindcore, this was suitably fast, furious and aggressive which, based on the reaction of the crowd, must have pleased their fans. 2/5

At The Gates

Based on how comfortable these guys looked on stage it makes you wonder why they took such a long break from touring. What ever their reasons, I’m just glad that they are back with a new album and newly found energy to put on a great performance. They played a mixture of new and old tracks including: ‘At War With Reality’, ‘Heroes and Tombs’ and ‘The Night Eternal’ from the new album along with some old classics such as ‘Kingdom Gone’, ‘The Burning Darkness’, ‘Terminal Spirit Disease’, ‘World of Lies’ and ‘Under A Serpent Sun’.

It was a really good show. I’m really tempted check out their new album now. 5/5

Iza Raittila

At The Gates release new video for ‘Heroes and Tombs’

Posted in Misc., News with tags on 21st November 2014 by izaforestspirit

Swedish melodic death metal legends At The Gates have returned. They have released a new, animated video for the track ‘Heroes and Tombs’. Check it out here:

‘Heroes and Tombs’ is taken from their new album At War With Reality via Century Media Records.

Rockbitch Boat 2014 – day 1

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 19th November 2014 by Pieni

Baltic Sea, between Stockholm and Riga
8th November 2014

I believe Rockbitch Boat had her maiden voyage in 2011, but I only joined last year. At the time I didn’t write a report (although you can see pics here), as I thought it wasn’t fair to the bands I couldn’t see. But it’s even less fair to the hardworking management/promoting agents who put up this amazing event not to write about it. So with the promise that there was a lot more to it, I’ll give you a general idea of what I’ve witnessed, making sure I mention even the band that I’ve missed, with links to their Facebook pages so you can check them out just the same. It’s the least I can do.

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There are three stages pumping on this cruise between Stockholm and Riga, with pretty much the same schedules – hence the impossibility of covering all bands. I guess I could have watched just a song or two of each band, but then the review would be quite incomplete and sloppy, so no. Besides, there were a couple of bands I really wanted to see in full – the first and foremost being The End Of Grace, which is probably the only one who I’m reviewing with more detail here. They started on Sky Bar stage at 21:00 – same time as Mojo Madness on Club Hell stage – so even if visual rockers Crestillion kicked off ten minutes before that on Starlight Palace stage (and they surely would have been fun to shoot) I preferred to hang around during the TEoG soundcheck. Their first show had been precisely on that stage, one year ago, so this was kind of special. And the band dressed up to the occasion! Did I mention that this is also a Halloween cruise? Yep, almost everybody is wearing a costume, or a mask – bands included. TEoG went little beyond makeup as they soon realized they wouldn’t stand the heat of performing in a full costume.

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I don’t know if it was for being the first band on that stage, being the guinea pigs for the sound tech, but TEoG experienced lots of audio problems in practically all instruments and all songs… but the attitude was there and the crowd appreciated it, moshing like crazy to prove it (it was early, they were all sober enough, so it was for real). Guitarists Jimmy and Robert climbed on the amps, singer Kriss jumped into the crowd and eventually Jimmy joined him… Like the year before, Seb from Bataar helped them out with the Swedish verses in “Fist Face Bleed”, before the band played for the first time ever a new song, “Final Burden”, from their upcoming debut album. Despite the technical problems, one could see the killer potential of that song.

 photo vapenlicensrbb14_zpsa4a0f217.jpgHanged a bit with the TEoG boys after the show and then had to decide between Frantic Amber, Disregard and Vapenlicens. Went for the latter, as I didn’t know them. Groovy death metal sung in Swedish! As cool as it sounds, and a matching live action! A quick overlook at Spotify and I see they have three albums already. Will make sure to listen to them all when I have the chance.

But as a few friends of mine – including my boss here at Valkyrian – like Frantic Amber, I went back to Sky Bar to take a couple of shots of the girls. On my way there, I saw Black Magic Fools warming up for the next day’s show in a hallway. I remember seeing them doing that last year also, so I guess it’s a tradition by now. photo bmfrbb14_zps5c3ca779.jpg

 photo franticamberrbb14_zps7efd21f6.jpgFrantic Amber were also having tech problems (maybe that stage is cursed…) so their gig got delayed and I actually caught the beginning. But no one seemed to mind the waiting. Pretty enthusiastic crowd!

The next choice was the hardest as I knew and liked all three bands playing around 23:00 – the “clown metal” of Skitarg, the death metal of Monoscream and the glam & sleaze of Rockstars On Mars. Skitarg released a new album early this year (“Tarmageddon”), Monoscream are recording their second album, and Rockstars On Mars have a new drummer, so not even their “recent history” helped me out. Ended up going for the most popular – when you make the reservation for this trip, you must tell which band you’re supporting (or supporting the most, in case you have more than one option). And Skitarg managed more than 130 names! So I thought I should go check them and their crowd out. Since I took a bit to decide, that crowd was already everywhere and I couldn’t get near the stage… But I had fun just the same watching from a distance, as these guys know how to put up a show.

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After that, I just hanged around and socialized – it’s so easy to get happily distracted on this boat! I missed Years Of Falling, Grande, Facebreaker, Defueld, Ave Nova and Intestinal. But since most bands return the following year, maybe I’ll catch them in 2015.

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Hellscream – Made Immortal

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 14th November 2014 by izaforestspirit

Made Immortal
Released March 2013
Heavy Metal/ Power Metal
Released via Dead Inside Records

‘Made Immortal’ is the debut album from the American power metal band Hellscream which features Norman Skinner (ex- Imagika, Skinner, Dire Peril) on vocals and Dave Garcia (Cage).

First up is the band’s theme tune Hellscream which sounds like a mixture of cheesy (read “squeaky”) power metal akin to the likes of King Diamond with the guitar riffs, speed and “epic” thrash metal feel of Iced Earth. Come to think of it, the vocals are also a weird combination of these two styles. These guys also like really their narratives and voice-over intros – think Manowar meets Bal Sagoth, and you will have a pretty good idea of what I’m referring to. Luckily the second track, Mind Reaper, is less squeaky and much darker than its predecessor not to mention that the guitar melodies and solos are nothing short of impressive.

In fact, it’s safe to say that the guitars are the main good thing about this album. In many ways they are everything that you want from a good power metal band – fast or at least mid-paced, energetic guitar riffs and catchy solos that are easy to headbang or air-guitar along to. Last Charge Of A Bloody Brigade is a good example of how all these elements come together to make a great power metal song. As for the vocals, the singer’s full range can be heard on tracks like Phoenix: We Will Rise. This track sees him attempt not only the squeaky, stereotypical power metal style vocals and the clearer heavy/thrash metal variety, but also growling in order to make the chorus sound more powerful. I must say it’s not a bad effort and it came as somewhat unexpected.

Yet for some reason there is one main thought which sticks in my mind as the album progresses – this reminds me so much of mid-career Iced Earth. Yet unlike their fellow countrymen, Hellscream’s style is not quite as consistent especially when it comes to the vocals. It’s a shame really because the guitars are really top notch on every song.


Iza Raittila

Tune – Identity

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on 9th November 2014 by izaforestspirit

Released: 14th November (The UK), 17th November (the rest of Europe), 2nd December (the USA) 2014
Progressive Rock/ Art Rock
Released via Dust On The Tracks Records

‘Identity’ is the second album from the Polish progressive rock band Tune. It is the follow up to their debut ‘Lucid Moments’. The band’s style has been compared to the likes of Muse, Pink Floyd and David Bowie.

After the electronic-style instrumental intro ‘On’, we are treated to some melodic rock featuring the pleasant-sounding clean vocals, the odd guitar solo along with the faint sound of keyboards in the background. Yet as the subsequent tracks show, there is more to these guys than just melodic prog-rock. For example Disposable has a deceptively slow start but it also features some faster, more energetic guitar riffs towards the end. Then there’s the tranquil keyboard-infused Change, one of the slowest songs on here, which features a mixture of both acoustic and electric guitars.

The guitar takes the spotlight on Trendy Girl in which a combination of a catchy, easy to follow chorus and “rocking” guitar riffs make this song one of the best ones on this album. I can foresee this track becoming a big hit at the live shows. Then there’s Crackpot, which starts off deceptively slow and melodic with the keyboards in the background before returning to the catchy “rocking” riffs towards the latter half of the track. I guess that’s the beauty of Tune’s music; just as soon as you think that you have got them figured out, they suddenly add an experimental flare into a song to keep you on your toes. The songs vary not only in pace but also in style ranging from progressive, indie and experimental rock.

In summary this album takes a few listens to appreciate fully. I wasn’t sure what to make of it the first time that I heard it. After another listen I can safely say that I like certain tracks more than others but it’s not a bad effort overall.


Iza Raittila

Monumentomb – Ritual Exhumation [EP]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 2nd November 2014 by Paul Macmillan

“Ritual Exhumation”
Old school death metal
Released 11 August 2014
Via Metal Music Austria

Monumentomb - Ritual Exhumation

Seriously? This is Monumentomb’s first recording? You’ve got to be f***ing kidding me! Musically speaking, Ritual Exhumation is so well written, and so well produced, it’s worthy of a rising name on their third or fourth offering! The riffing is actually giving me shudders up and down the spine. Remember a little album called Black In Mind by a certain German band going by the name Rage? If not, you should really go check that out. I loved it in the nineties, and I still do now. The package herein isn’t a carbon copy of that sound by any stretch, but it encapsulates the drive, bite and enthusiasm in the same way. It’s also a potential future classic of the genre, showing all the early signs of greatness in the making.

This debut EP is packed to the grimace with tooth-splitting aggression, and it is utterly brutal: not in the overly technical understanding of the word many in modern metal have come to embrace – more the slap-me-silly-with-a-metal-stick-that-was-beefy school of metal. Washed in Carcass and Destruction, towelled down with Entombed’s Left Hand Path, and spritzed with a mild spatter of the heavier end of turn-of-the-century Swe-death, this is fresh and fit to rip you a new one!

The band originally self-released this EP earlier in 2014 in a digital only format, but due to some fantastic and well deserved positive press, it is now out in physical form from Metal Music Austria. Although the line-up features a former member of Spearhead (no, not the Michael Franti band), it is far more focussed on the death metal character of extreme music, foregoing the white-noise black metal of the aforementioned group.

Their willingness to let songs peak and trough with a natural flow does them great favours in allowing their song-writing talent and sensibilities towards organic, musical texture shine through. Sure, there are plenty of blasts and d-beats that could have been half pinched from the first two Haunted albums, but these are masterfully counterbalanced with moments of treacly doom to shake the Pallbearer tree for more riffs.

If there’s one thing that draws this release back down a little, it’s the consistently sparse vocals, which also lack a little something in diversity… until you hit the middle of penultimate track Perpetual Execution Torment, and are treated to a glimpse of what the future might hold as this band grows. It would be great to see more of this ingenuity displayed throughout, but like it says at the start, this is Monumentomb’s introduction, and as far as entrances go, this one is a bit of a show-stopper!


Paul Macmillan

Amaranthe – Massive Addictive

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 2nd November 2014 by Mickelrath

Artist: Amaranthe
Album: Massive Addictive
Genre: Melodic Metal/Power Metal
Released on 20th October 2014
Via Spinefarm Records / Universal Music

Amaranthe Massive addictive

So after The Nexus did really well for them, Amaranthe comes back with their new record “Massive Addictive” and I’m not going to lie, this is not the best of follow ups.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent album but I feel they could have delivered so much more.  However, there is still a fair share of absolute belters. There are some well some well constructed riffs and melodies that keep this album interesting and fun.

The album opens on the track “Dynamite” which is a big sounding tune with a very pretty decent chorus, but it’s not really impressive, it’s  just an OK tune.  In fact I feel that’s the biggest compliment and the biggest insult I could give this album, it’s just OK.  With the exception of a few tunes it’s just mediocre with no surprises.  The next couple of songs are the two that served as the lead in, to this album, and both a catchy, fun tunes.  “Drop Dead Cynical” & “Trinity” just simply glorify everything that Amaranthe strive to be.  Solid riffs and a catchy chorus with alot of synth sound-fx that just elevate these song to great songs.  There some other really great tunes like “Digital World” and “Danger Zone”, which again capture that fun essence that Amaranthe is all about.

However with the good comes the average, and to be honest there’s a lot of that on this album.  I don’t hate any of these songs, hell, I don’t even dislike them.  Nevertheless, when you know what a band is capable of you want them to get better, and so many of these songs don’t really work all that well.  The two ballads of this record “True” and “Over and Done” just drudge along and don’t really give you anything interesting to keep you in the song.  Other tracks on this record just feel like generic power metal and offer little else.

All in all, this is an OK album. I enjoy it fine, but after The Nexus, I feel the band could have done more.  The songs that are good are really good and fun.  I look forward to anything this band puts out, and I look forward to seeing them live. This album however will tide me over, I would recommend this to fans of the band and the genre only, I don’t think this album could reach anyone else.


Mick Birchall