Archive for February, 2015

Nightrage: new album with new singer

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 25th February 2015 by Pieni

Four years after “Insidious”, death metal act Nightrage is back with a new album, recorded with a new singer in a new studio, and to be released under a new label – Ronnie Nyman (from Swedish hardcore band Always War) gives voics to “The Puritan”, that shall hit the stores on April 24th, via Despotz Records. Artwork and track listing below:

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1. The Puritan
2. With a Blade of a Knife
3. Desperate Vows
4. Endless Night
5. Foul Vile Life
6. Stare into Infinity
7. Lone Lake
8. Son of Sorrow
9. When Gold Turns to Rust
10. Fathomless
11. Kiss of a Sycophant

‘The Puritan’ is an uncompromising, dramatic and melodic death metal journey in its purest form. Eleven tracks crammed with brutal riffs, unforgettable hooks and the biggest production on any Nightrage release. Trends come and go but Nightrage always deliver!”

www.facebook.com/nightrage

Moonspell – Extinct

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 24th February 2015 by Pieni

Moonspell
“Extinct”
Gothic metal
Release: 6th March 2015
Via Napalm Records

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I’ve never liked labelling Moonspell as gothic metal as I’ve always felt they were much more than that. Until now. Well, actually, until “Omega White”, but since its counterpart “Alpha Noir” had that much-more in it, I still went for the vague “dark metal” at the time. Three years later, “Extinct” follows the path of “Omega White” and it leaves no room for vague descriptions – it’s gothic metal.

Reading what I’ve just written and listening to the first single – a very pop-ish first single – “The Last Of Us” might give you a false impression of mainstream, so please read this until the end. Because “Extinct” is quite a masterpiece. Me being able to pinpoint what genre of music they’re playing doesn’t mean they’ve lost that little je ne sais quoi that makes them unique.

There aren’t best songs here. Sure, everyone will have their favorites, but all tracks have been carefully crafted to a prime state. So despite the epic orchestral arrangements of “Extinct” and the fact that it’s the heaviest track, I believe the album was named after it due to the fatality ring such title bears and which echoes through others – “Breathe (Until We Are No More)”, “The Last Of Us”, “Funeral Bloom”, “A Dying Breed”, “The Future Is Dark”… See the pattern? And let me tell you that “La Baphomette” is macabre enough for your mind to associate it with the end of days. The short final track sung in French seems like it came straight from one of those horror-themed fairgrounds.

“Medusalem” will bring you vivid memories of The Sisters Of Mercy but only for a short while. It soon starts making new memories of Moonspell alone, with the richness of its guitars and some Arabian sounds. In fact, the whole guitar work is to be praised. Turning to a more gothic direction gave them the chance of putting the roughness aside and producing elaborate but fluid pieces. A special highlight on the solo of the enthralling “The Future Is Dark”, where, as I like to say, the guitar weeps its strings out. In “Domina”, they cry with a bit more vigor.

“Malignia” will seduce you with its dreamy nature, even if an ominous nightmare lurks around the chorus. This song comes right after “The Last Of Us”, which I’ve previously referred as pop-ish, so it’s quite the contrast. And mind that I’m not complaining about “The Last Of Us”, as its easy-going vibrancy is catchy and very pleasant. I was just concerned at the time of its release as a single that the whole album would be like that. After 10 albums – a double one included – I guess I should’ve known better, eh?

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Árstíðir lífsins – Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 22nd February 2015 by izaforestspirit

Árstíðir lífsins
Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn
Released 11th December 2014
Pagan Black Metal
Released via Ván Records

‘Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn’ is the third album from the Icelandic pagan black metal band Árstíðir lífsins whose name translates as “The Seasons of Life” in English.

The opening track ‘Kastar heljar brenna fjarri ofan Ǫnundarfirðinum‘ features a long, ambient style intro enhanced by narration, Icelandic chanting and the melancholic sounds of what appears to be either a violin or a cello. It’s not until well into the second minute of the song that the guitars finally enter the fold followed by the pounding drums and black metal screams. Despite this, the melodic ambient and folk-style elements remain an integral part of the Árstíðir lífsins’s unique sound.

This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album. All the lyrics are in the band’s native Icelandic, and the songs are long and complex just like any good saga should be. The storytelling narrative reminds me of Wardruna; yet unlike their Norwegian brethren these guys combine this with black metal. Their music maintains a very delicate balance between the two styles; the beautiful and melodic Icelandic folk tunes and the harshness of black metal. The structure varies depending on the song, for example ‘Þeir heilags dóms hirðar‘ actually starts with the harsh black metal guitars before a pause for some narration accompanied by the sombre sounds of the cello.

Each track sounds like it’s a story. The black metal guitar riffs and screams mimic the sounds of a battle or the start of a voyage while Mársel’s deep, melodic vocals and the cello act as a reflection on the aftermath and the long journey home. One noteworthy track is ‘Tími er kominn at kveða fyrir þér‘ which features more narrative along with Icelandic chanting, and the beautiful yet sombre sound of the violin. This is also the only song that completely omits the black metal elements and puts an emphasis on to the folk style. Once again the use of their native tongue works to their advantage as it fits the music perfectly. The rest of the album marks a return to black metal, though the folk elements are still present along with the narration.

Overall this album has been an absolute pleasure to review. Árstíðir lífsins is not the first pagan black metal band that has caught my attention but they are definitely one of the most unique within the scene.

4.5/5

Iza Raittila

European headlining tour for Of Mice & Men

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 19th February 2015 by Pieni

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In promotion of the reissue (or deluxe edition, if you prefer) of “Restoring Force”, now “Restoring Force: Full Circle”, Of Mice & Men will embark on an European headlining tour in March:

March 11 – Machine Moulin Rouge/Paris, FR
March 12 – Live Music Hall/Cologne, DE
March 13 – Melkweg/Amsterdam, NL
March 14 – Gruenspan/Hamburg, DE
March 16 – Tyrol/Stockholme, SE
March 17 – Tradgarn/Gothenburg, SE
March 19 – C Club/Berlin, DE
March 20 – Backstage Halle/Munich, DE
March 21 – Kofmehl/Solothurn, CH
March 23 – Substage/Karlsruhe, DE
March 24 – AB/Brussels, BE
March 26 – O2 Guildhall/Southampton, UK
March 27 – O2 Academy/Bristol, UK
March 28 – O2 Brixton Academy/London, UK
March 30 – Barrowlands/Glasgow, UK
March 31 – O2 Academy/Newcastle, UK
April 2 – Rock City/Nottingham, UK
April 3 – O2 Academy/Birmingham, UK
April 4 – Academy/Manchester, UK

The 2015 version of the album will hit the stores next Monday (23rd February) and includes three new songs and an acoustic version of “Feels Like Forever”, the full tracklist as follows:

 photo x7y3py34_zpstr1szmny.jpg01. Public Service Announcement
02. Feels Like Forever
03. Bones Exposed
04. Would You Still Be There
05. Glass Hearts
06. Another You
07. Break Free
08. You Make Me Sick
09. Identity Disorder
10. You’re Not Alone
11. Space Enough to Grow
12. Broken Generation
13. Something To Hide
14. Never Giving Up
15. Feels Like Forever (Acoustic Version)

Under the direction of Max Moore, the Orange County band has also filmed a video for one of the new songs, “Broken Generation”:

www.ofmiceandmenofficial.com/

www.facebook.com/ofmice/

European tour dates for Hirax

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 16th February 2015 by Pieni

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Californian thrashers Hirax will hit Europe next month, still promoting the latest album “Immortal Legacy”, which has been released one year ago:

13.03. UK-Gwynedd – Hammerfest Festival
14.03. UK-Glasgow – Ivory Blacks
15.03. UK-Birmingham – Asylum 2
16.03. UK-Manchester – Sound Control
17.03. UK-Winchester – Railway Inn
18.03. UK-London – Black Heart Camden
19.03. B-Deinze – Elpee
20.03. NL-Tilburg – Little Devil
21.03. NL-Katwijk – Scum
24.03. E-Zaragoza – Sala Utopia
26.03. E-Madrid – Sala Lemon
27.03. E-Palencia – At Mosh Phera Zero
28.03. E-Granada – La Petite
30.03. F-Toulouse – Les Pavillions Sauvages
03.04. I-Milan – Blue Rose Saloon
04.04. SVK-Bratislava – Randal Club
05.04. D-Hamburg – Bambi Galore

09.07. CZ-Trutnov – Obscene Extreme Festival
10.07. PL-Zori – Ozi Pub
11.07. PL-Gdynia – Atlantic Club
12.07. PL-Szczecin – Slowianin Club
13.07. PL-Warsaw – Progressja
14.07. D-Berlin – SO36
16.07. SVK-Kosice – Colliseum Club
17.07. CZ-Pohori – Agressive Fest
18.07. D-Balingen – Bang Your Head Festival
19.07. D-Egelsee – Schwarzer Adler
20.07. CH-Olton – Coq d`Or
21.07. SLO-Tolmin – Metal Days Festival
22.07. A-Dornbirn – Conrad Sohm
23.07. D-Kassel – K19
24.07. D-Brande/Hörnerkirchen – Headbangers Open Air
25.07. NL-Steenwijk – Stonehenge Festival
26.07. B-Ostend – JH Ohk

The band has recently filmed a new video for the track “Hellion Rising”, for which singer Katon W. De Pena said the following: “The new HIRAX video ‘Hellion Rising’ is a visual thrash metal experience. We filmed on location in the historic Battery Bunkers built in 1942 hidden in the hills of San Pedro, California. This is our second video directed and produced by Donovan Vim Crony. The scenery is the perfect backdrop for HIRAX‘s brand of intense thrash metal. No green scenes, fake production or props were used in the making of this high definition video / film. The release will coincide with the announcement of our upcoming European tour / concert dates 2015. We are very excited to hit the road again and play our music for all the die hard, European, thrash metal maniacs!”

www.hirax.org
https://www.facebook.com/hiraxthrashmetal

Interview with Gehennah’s Rob Stringburner

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , on 16th February 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Having a history of active service in the ranks of metal stretching back to the early 1990s, Swedes Gehennah have seen their fair share of ups and downs over the years. However, the recent high point in signing with Metal Blade records seems to have breathed new life into this particular sleeping dragon. Valkyrian Music quizzes guitarist Rob Stringburner.

Gehennah

Paul: First up, while the Metal Police title was used on last year’s EP, the material on the 2015 long player also consists of re-recorded versions of older tracks, and the sound is pretty different. Is it more in line with what you had originally imagined?

Rob: That’s a good question. Back in the day we didn’t care that much about the sound, we just played on any equipment we stumbled upon, and, once in the studio, we got in and out as fast as we could, with just a few moments of setting up the sound. I remember that I specifically asked for ear-splitting cymbals like on ”Blood Fire Death” at one point, but I don’t think we ever managed that. In the end, the drinks were a lot more interesting.
Regarding the new versions, I think we play them a bit better, more groovy, but, yes, perhaps a bit slower. The actual production of those six songs didn’t turn out exactly as we wanted, not like the other 6 from the original EP-session, but it’s OK I guess. Mostly, we had a lot of issues with the mixing phase, and also this time around we only spent three or four hours in the studio recording!

Paul: When I listened to the album, I heard an obvious leaning towards the Venom sound, but there seem to be a lot more intangible influences throughout. Who else has helped to shape the sound?

Rob: Yeah, Venom was the main influence from the beginning, and we were huge fans of the ’80s harder metal scene, with bands like Destruction, Sodom and Celtic Frost, but we also grew up straight into the Death and Black Metal scene, so we took a lot of influences from there as well. For example, the first song we ever rehearsed back in ’92 was a cover of Beherit’s Unholy Pagan Fire, since we found Venom too complicated, and we’ve listened to a lot of punk and hard-core, too! Can’t forget about Motörhead either! Anyway, I’d have to write a way too long list to include all the obscure bands we’ve taken ideas from.

Paul: Have you picked up any new influences in recent years?

Rob: Well, we have of course listened to music for another 20 years so I guess it’s bound to happen, but as far as the song writing goes, we try to stay in the same style as we did before. I think for my part that my solos have become even more rock ’n’ roll and country-influenced, perhaps, but then again I could never play ”metal”-type solos.
Ronnie Ripper was one of our main songwriters before, so his departure has obviously changed things a bit, but I think that Charley has added a thing of his own that fits perfectly into our sound.

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Paul: Kicking off in 1992, you landed smack bang between the original wave of NWOBHM and the current musical climate which seems to crave more and more retro styles. Do you think you were born too early or too late?

Rob: Always wondered that myself. We were certainly born wrong in some way! Even if we took a lot of influences from the ’80s, when we started out I don’t think we’ve ever been retro. We just didn’t include the keyboards, angeline female vocals or rap into our music like others did at the time.

Paul: A lot of bands aim for that old school sound, but few actually achieve it without sounding a bit contrived. Do you think it’s possible to emulate the vibe, or is it just something you grew up with?

Rob: I guess for us we have never tried to sound ”old”, we just did what we wanted to do and had mostly old favorite bands, but perhaps you end up sounding contrived when you set your sights on a certain sound that has already been done, in any way, it will not be entirely you. I think that there are perhaps a bit too many “role playing” bands around these days. We like a lot of old bands but I don’t think we aim to sound old specifically, just right.

Paul: I think one of the great things about the Gehennah is that you have fun with the lyrics and subject matter, but still have serious song-writing as a back-bone. Do you think some bands take the ‘having a laugh’ thing too far?

Rob: Thanks, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do! I agree that it’s a fine line between being a band that have fun and being a comedy band.

Paul: As a collection of new material and classic tracks, Metal Police seems like a full release unto itself. Are there any murmurings in the Gehennah camp of a complete album of new material?

Rob: Yeah, we’re writing a new album as we speak! Why this release ended up as it did was more of a coincidence. When we recorded the EP in 2013 we just recorded the first songs we wrote with the new line-up to get something out there as soon as possible, and when Metal Blade picked it up they asked us to fill it out with something so they could do a proper release.

Paul: Underground thrash is on the rise again, at least in the UK. Would you ever consider doing another Headbangers Against Disco, like you did with Sabbat and others in the late 1990s?

Rob: Of course that would be cool! It was actually our old label Primitive Art Records’ idea to do the releases, and I guess we’d need devoted people like that again to realize such plans. As far as the actual HAD-membership club goes, I don’t think we’ll ever have the time to start that up again, but it was great times with cool parties while it lasted.

Paul: What plans, if any, do you have to take this on the road (or to Britain, to be precise)?

995031_697785776938673_588357176_nRob: As I’m writing this, we have just got back from a small tour in Italy, and we’re gonna focus on the album a while now, with just the odd gig in Sweden during the spring, but as soon as we get the new album recorded we’ll try to hit the road! Hopefully UK of course. Never played there before, and that’s of course a cryin’ shame as it’s the home of so much legendary stuff. Promoters get in touch!

Paul: Do you have anything else to say before we wrap up?

Rob: Thanks a lot for the support, and watch out for a new album, and perhaps even Gehennah showing up at your doorstep in the future!

Interview by Paul Macmillan

Dr. Living Dead – Crush The Sublime Gods

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 16th February 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Dr. Living Dead
Crush The Sublime Gods
Release: 23rd February 2015
Thrash / crossover
Released via Century Media Records

Dr Living Dead - Crush The Sublime Gods

More thrash!?!?! Looks like 2015 is going to be a year of it, and, yet again, this is a solid release for the genre. Dr Living Dead’s third album, Crush The Sublime Gods, is 99% pure, unrelenting, high-speed thrash riff-worship. The opening moments of first track Final Broadcast may lead listeners to believe they are about to witness the second coming of Megadeth’s last true great, Count Down To Extinction, but the mid-paced chug of developed thrash is left to the minimum throughout.

Far more prevalent is this employment of the Slayer style chainsaw attack, albeit to the accompaniment of nicer vocals and Annihilator’s slightly dark tongue-in-check sense of humour. I don’t think Araya and co. ever really got how inseparable some riffing is from a comical feel, or if they did, they never embraced it. Not that Dr Living Dead are a joke band. Far from it. Some people might not even get the ‘laughs’ herein. I might even be imagining them, but if I’m not, it’s nice to see a non-native English speaking band manage it so well.

It seems all the more likely that it is the case when hearing such invitations to stomp as on the intro to Triggerkiller, instantly bringing Stormtroopers Of Death to the mind of the connoisseur. There are plenty of these moments spattered throughout Crush The Sublime Gods, but they quickly subside and give way to rapid-fire, precision guitar work, which overflows with the spirit of old-school thrash.

As a whole, most other sub-genres of metal could learn a lot from the production values on many recent thrash releases – such as ‘things sound heavier when they’re clearer and played well’ – and this is no exception. Crisp and raw, with a sweet bottom shelf, all at the same time, the producer has done sterling work here. It helps that the band themselves are on fire, and if there is even half the amount of energy involved in their live shows as there is captured on record, they are going to destroy when they go out this March with Suicidal Angels. I’m thinking they may well be interested in all things fast, so the autobahn should keep them entertained for a bit.

Wrapping up, this is a peach of a release, and with just a tiny little bit more originality/diversity, it would have been a 5/5 from me. Hopefully, if there is a change, that’s all it is, because the rest of the mix is perfect, and Dr Living Dead appear to be on to something really special.

4.5/5

Paul Macmillan

Apocalyptica release new song and tracklist for ‘Shadowmaker’

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , on 14th February 2015 by izaforestspirit

Apocalyptica have released a lyric video for the second song from the upcoming album ‘Shadowmaker’. The track is entitled ‘Cold Blood’ and features Franky Perez on vocals. Check it out here:

The tracklist for the new album will be as follows:

1. “I-III-V-Seed of Chaos”
2. “Cold Blood”
3. “Shadowmaker”
4. “Slowburn”
5. “Reign of Fear” (bonus track)
6. “Hole in My Soul”
7. “House of Chains”
8. “Riot Lights”
9. “Come Back Down” (bonus track)
10. “Sea Song (You Waded Out)”
11. “Till Death Do Us Part”
12. “Dead Man’s Eyes”

‘Shadowmaker’ will be out April 21st 2015 through the band’s label with Eleven Seven Music imprint, Better Noise.

https://www.facebook.com/Apocalyptica?ref=ts&fref=ts
http://www.apocalyptica.com/en/

Amon Amarth w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 13th February 2015 by Pieni

Savage Messiah, Huntress, Amon Amarth
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
11th February 2015
Promoted by Prime Artits

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Amon Amarth are very dear in my country, but it still positively surprised me that the show in Lisbon sold out a couple of weeks before the event. It didn’t sell out in Porto but it was close enough. And considering that both venues hold 1.000 people each, we’re talking about almost 2.000 metalheads “deceiving the gods” in this little corner of Europe. Not bad, huh?

 photo _DSC0110_zpsv9f8aanv.jpgEven though they could have pulled that off totally on their own, they obviously didn’t, bringing along two other bands. First one was Savage Messiah, who were playing in Porto for the first time. I don’t know how popular they were around here, but Portugal has a fair share of thrashers. And since Savage Messiah were formed in 2007 and last year were awarded as part of the Music Export Growth Scheme by the British Government, I’m pretty sure that many had at least heard of them. Still I didn’t notice the lyrics being sung along, hence my doubt. But I did listen to how loud they screamed their “Hey! Hey!” and how high they raised their fists, so if they didn’t know them before, they certainly do now, and in a very good way. Really a shame that they’ve played for such a short time – so short that photographers were rushed out of the photopit after just two songs instead of the usual three, as three would have literally meant half of the show. So it’s understandable that they’ve only played songs from their latest album, “The Fateful Dark”, even though they have two more in their baggage. The half-an-hour setlist included the opener “Iconocaust”, the “inspired by Satan” song “Hellblazer”, the title-track and “Minority Of One”, which was the last one. (5 / 5)

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https://www.facebook.com/SavageMessiahMetal

 photo _DSC0343_zpsblrxhhrr.jpgI wasn’t so stoked about Huntress and remained that way when the show was over. No, wait, I was stoked at the end BECAUSE it was over. At the time of their debut album, I wrote a review for another webzine and rated it 4/10. I’m looking at it right now and the first paragraph reads: « Huntress is a Californian heavy metal band highly overrated. Napalm Records took them in as “the undisputed newcomer of 2012” and I’m still wondering why. But then again, heavy metal always works on stage, and if you have a hot blonde with a very exposed cleavage screaming her lungs out, well, that surely calls a lot of attention. My question is – in the end of the show, do you remember any song? Did any solo, chorus or even a simple riff stick to your brain? Probably not. At least that’s what happened to me after listening to their debut “Spell Eater”. » What would you know? I was so right! Except for “I Want To Fuck You To Death”, that is, as the chorus is not just explicit but really catchy. But then again, as Jill Janus was so happy to inform, the song was co-written by Lemmy from Motörhead – so maybe the reason why it sounds distinctive.
Anyway, Jill was very energetic (as an aerobics instructor, as a friend would point out) but sadly her high pitch was far from steady. And the long screams were supported by the microphone effects. Then the guitar-hero poses of both guitarists were way too much for my personal taste. Mine and about a dozen friends who I’ve exchanged ideas with afterwards. But I guess we were a minority as the crowd gave a fiery response to Huntress (“We’re from California and we smoke a lot of weed”). So I can’t say that it was a bad concert, just that I didn’t like it.
Jill said “obrigada”, very pleased with herself by knowing the difference between “obrigada” and “obrigado” (it’s a gender thing – as a woman, she had to say the first, the latter is for men). She failed later, however, when she dedicated a song (“Zenith”, I think) to the girls, whom she called “muchachas”. That’s Spanish, Jill. But the crowd was hyped, and a crowdsurfing girl was praised by the singer: “that’s right, sister!”.
A new song, “Flesh”, was also introduced, and the set ended when “it was time to call the witches”“Eight Of Swords”. They left the stage with Jill saying “stay high”. Quite the advice… (3,5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/HuntressKills

 photo _DSC0497_zpsvsxejzdr.jpgWe always associate Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills” to Indians and cowboys because of the music video. But if we look into the lyrics – “one man came across the sea…” – it could be any invader. So given the Vikings’ history, it was only suitable that this song served as intro for Amon Amarth.
Whatever I say about this show, it won’t do it any justice – regarding both the band and the crowd. It was the fifth time I was seeing these Swedes and I’ll make sure it wasn’t the last – they’re THAT kind of band. Right on the first song, “Father Of The Wolf”, I felt a boot on my head, as the crowdsurfers got into action practically in sync with the first riff.
It also didn’t take long for Johan Hegg to say good evening and welcome us to their party – in perfect Portuguese! Trust me, it’s not easy to catch our accent. That he took the time to practice meant a lot to everyone in that room. photo _DSC0458_zpsqxdwuax7.jpg
For one hour and a half, the frenzy only slowed down when Hegg introduced the songs, drank to us from his horn, and the few moments that followed “Victorious March”, marking the encore. Notice that I said “slowed down”, not “quieted”, because the crowd kept screaming and applauding, such was the frenzy. And even despite the heat, that spiked to sauna-levels.
The aforementioned encore started with the sound of thunder, the lights still dim. Then the band returned, with Hegg holding a Mjölnir in the air. Then he hammered the ground with it, Thor-like, before starting to sing “Twilight Of The Thunder God”. In the end he said it had been the last song, getting a desolated roar as response. To get one more, we had to scream our lungs out loud enough. I think it was the first time I saw a singer satisfied with our loudness on the first take. “Of course we have one more song for you!”, Hegg said, asking bassist Ted Lundström to take the lead. As expected, “The Pursuit Of Vikings” echoed, and in the last chorus, Hegg wasn’t as easily pleased with our vocal performance, pushing us further… and achieving his goal, of course.
The whole band had a smile of their faces when they left the stage, with Hegg claiming we were “fantastic” and promising to come back. The next day, they posted a thank-you little video, with the caption “Oporto should now be called Oparty”. For this kind of pun, I didn’t mind the stupid “O” that, for some reason, the English language added to the original name of my hometown. (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/OfficialAmonAmarth

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Details on new Unleashed album revealed

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 10th February 2015 by Pieni

Swedish death metalheads – and founders of Viking death metal – Unleashed have revealed details of their upcoming 12th studio album. “Dawn Of The Nine” is its title and the cover looks like this:

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Recorded by producer and guitar player Fredrik Folkare in his own Chrome Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, “Dawn Of The Nine” features ten tracks with “riffs that are pure shrapnel” and “epic choruses”:

1. A New Day Will Rise
2. They Came To Die
3. Defenders Of Midgard
4. Where Is Your God Now?
5. The Bolt Thrower
6. Let The Hammer Fly
7. Where Churches Once Burned
8. Land Of The Thousand Lakes
9. Dawn Of The Nine
10. Welcome The Son Of Thor!

“The artwork represents the continuation of our previous album, which ended with ‘The Great Battle of Odalheim’. The battle took place at Uppsala fields in Sweden, and you can clearly see the ‘kings graves’ at the cover art work which is present at Uppsala also in the future. You can also see the bombed out Church in the far distance.
Then of course, you see the place of Blot in the front and the rune stone with the runic symbol of courage of the new dawn”, comments frontman Johnny Hedlund.

Set for release on the 27th April via Nuclear Blast, pre-orders are now available in the following formats:

Limited White Vinyl from NB UK store: http://www.nuclearblaststore.co.uk/shop/nuclearblast/proddetail.php?prod=NBL_unleashed_dawnLP

Limited Black Vinyl from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/gp/product/B00T63YHX8

Limited Digipack CD from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/gp/product/B00T63YBPM

unleashed.se 

facebook.com/unleashed

nuclearblast.de/unleashed

Code to release new album later this month

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 10th February 2015 by Pieni

Progressive post-rockers Code will release their 4th album on the 27th February in Europe and 10th March in North America, via Agonia Records. Recorded in the Brighton Electric Studios with producer Paul ‘Win’ Winstanley, the follow-up to “Augur Nox” is called “Mut” and presents itself with the following artwork and tracklist:

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1. on blinding larks
2. undertone
3. dialogue
4. affliction
5. contours
6. inland sea
7. cocoon
8. numb, an author
9. the bloom in the blast

“The new album really sees us free ourselves from any self imposed restriction for the first time and for us is the most honest and rewarding album we have released. Although this isn’t a metal album by any stretch of the imagination, it is the most confrontational move we could have made and we hope that it’s honesty and freshness will appeal to those who like sounds out of the norm”, says the band.

They have recently released a video for “Affliction”, which they claim to be “the most foreboding track on the album”:

Make your pre-order at: https://www.agoniarecords.com/index.php?pos=shop&lang=en

https://facebook.com/codeblackmetal

Vallenfyre w/ Foscor – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 9th February 2015 by Pieni

Foscor, Vallenfyre
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
7th February 2015
Promoter: Prime Artists

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Last autumn, Vallenfyre played a few shows across central Europe and England, in support of their second and most recent album “Splinters”. They left the Iberian Peninsula for the winter, in a total of eight shows in Spain and two in Portugal, under the suitable name “Splinters Over Iberia Tour”. The last one was in my hometown, Porto – courtesy of Prime Artists.

 photo foscor3_zpsrobyqpnh.jpgThey also decided to choose an Iberian band to support them and the lucky ones were Barcelona-based Foscor. Not that it was just luck – they actually deserve it. Formed in 1997 and having released four albums – the latest, “Those Horrors Wither”, last November, so it’s quite fresh – Foscor play a mix of black and death metal, with some melody in-between. Plus, singing in both growling and clean tones, in English and Catalan, the outcome is exquisitely good! And Foscor means “darkness” in Catalan, by the way.

They focused mostly on “Those Horrors Wither”, of course, but played a couple from the previous “Groans To The Guilty” and the title-track of their second album “The Smile Of The Sad Ones”. Singer/bass player Fiar addressed the audience often, in Spanish, which was totally fine since Spanish and Portuguese are very similar; but still he apologized for not being able to speak Portuguese. How nice of him! He did say “obrigado” (thank you), and then spoke in English when it was time to thank the crew and their Vallenfyre “brothers”.

Too bad there wasn’t that many people to welcome them, and the few who were present were a little cautious at first. Eventually the applauses became more vigorous and genuine, but still too far from what it should have been, given the quality of the show. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/foscor.official

 photo _DSC0393_zps8sfgisr1.jpgI’ve seen Paradise Lost almost as many times as they’ve played in Portugal (having only missed the first one), so I knew how expressive Gregor Mackintosh could be. Or I thought I knew. As much as I’d imagined he would have more liberty to move around without the guitar in his hands, I confess I’ve never expected THAT! The man is restless! And funny too! Among the quotes that made me laugh the most, there’s the one where he claimed to love God with all his semen running down His back; that he believed we were all born equal – except for their bass player Scoot; Obrigado! See? I can speak Portuguese. Took me twenty years to learn how to say ‘thank you’. Give me another twenty and I’ll learn how to say ‘please’.”; how the following song (“Bereft”) was a calm one so “there’s the bar. Go have a drink and come back in eight minutes”; how he asked some (supposedly) upper middle-class guy in the crowd for some borrowed money, adding right away that he was joking, as he had more money than any of us could possibly imagine, “that’s why I’m wearing these pants”; or how another guy could buy him a pint at the end of the show for knowing the name of their first single (“Desecration”) – something Mackintosh was certain no one knew. Oh, and how they would play a song about beef (“Cattle”). Having such humorous moments mixed with the abrasiveness of Vallenfyre’s death metal and the heavy sorrow of their doom was just priceless. Amazing performance in all fronts!

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On a less-of-a-joke note, he said Porto was his favorite city in Europe; that he’d been here for gigs, on vacation… although he had a drinking problem (this because we have very good wine – not just our trademark Port – and beer). Now I don’t know if he really meant that – the favorite part – but it obviously put a smile on my face and brought out a roaring ovation from the crowd.

Despite promoting “Splinters”, as they only have one other full-length album (“A Fragile King”), the one-hour-and-a-half setlist was equally divided between the two, but starting and finishing with the opening and final tracks from “Splinters”“Scabs” and the title-track, respectively, the latter “a video you might have seen. It has demons.”

Everyone hoped for an encore, especially when the lights took so long to be turned on, but it didn’t happen – either because they hadn’t rehearsed any other song or because of the “Techno Lovers” night that was taking place at Hard Club afterwards. Anyway, no one can complain – the show was perfect as it was (except for the low number of people, that is, but at least we made it count). (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/Vallenfyre

Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

Reign Of Fury – Death Be Thy Shepherd

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 8th February 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Reign Of Fury
Death Be Thy Shepherd
Release: 27th February 2015
Thrash metal
Self released

Reign Of Fury - Death Be Thy Shepherd

I love thrash! Always have, always will! However, the resurgence of its popularity in the last decade or so has seen an ocean of filler unleashed on the world. It was a disappointing end result to say the least: song writing was ditched by the wayside in favour of constant imitation of the genre’s founding bands, sometimes note for note. The whole scene seemed to have been hi-jacked by a strange breed of hipsters who sneered at any hint of originality, swamping the web with derogatory nonsense, should a thrash band stray from the path in any way.

I’m thankful to say that, on their second album, Death Be Thy Shepherd, Midlands mob Reign Of Fury continue to turn their backs and raise a firm middle-finger to such unfounded buffoonery. From the very first track, Faustian Mastery, you can almost smell the words ‘Don’t give a f***!’ wafting through the air. While ROF comfortably incorporate the essence of the original thrash movement, they deftly side-step the ‘re-thrash’ tag, indulging the influence of both its roots and its later development.

Snatches reminiscent of Megadeth’s Countdown To Extinction twist into Maiden like guitar harmonies. For those of you who stuck with Anthrax throughout their discography, this release will feel like a new home for your ears, although I’m also sensing the air of personal favourite and underrated Arizonans Flotsam & Jetsam sneaking into the axe work. There is plenty of diversity herein, the vocals even venturing into extremely well executed death metal vocals in Gates Of Sanity, which batters its way through an ultimately addictive chorus and musical flavours only found in the Testament cookbook.

It’s a unique musical personality for sure, but one that wears its influences with unashamed pride. If Jeff Waters, Nick Menza, Alex Skolnick, Peavy Wagner and John Bush stepped out of the past together to show the young uns how to write an album, it might not sound too different to this.

It must be a challenge to go against the grain when putting out music which is to any degree retro. As I mentioned to begin with, there will be a certain number of detractors if it isn’t a carbon copy of the original style. However, if you’re having as much fun and care as little about those opinions as this lot seem to, it doesn’t seem like something that would be a chore. Without losing track of their roots, Reign Of Fury have managed to seal the deal on a fresh sounding long player which is absolutely thrash, absolutely relevant, and an absolute neck-snapper! Top drawer stuff!

5/5

Paul Macmillan

Shadowquest – Armoured IV Pain

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 8th February 2015 by mickbirchy

Shadowquest
Armoured IV Pain
Power metal
Release date: 20th February 2015
Self-release

Shadowquest is the the new power metal band started by former Dionysus members Ronny Milianowicz & Kaspar Dahlqvist. The band also features Patrik Johansson (Bloodbound and Dawn Of Silence), Peter Huss (Sinergy & Issa), Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius, Symfonia, Evergrey & Masterplan) & Ragnar Widerberg (Witherscape).  With all those names on your side you’d expect the album to sound great!  Well let’s take a look.

The album itself is a very strong release. “Armoured IV Pain”, carries a lot of great attributes that make for a power metal record such as: soaring vocals, great guitar work, atmospheric keyboard and much more goes into making this one enjoyable album.  Right from the opening track “Blood of the Pure”  I was injected with amazing use of lyrical imagery and a great sense of presence and tone.  Not a second of time is wasted on the record, and I don’t mean they just play and they allow time for the atmosphere to set in and for the listener to fully grasp the themes and concepts being presented.  At times this album feels like an old school Judas Priest or Dio album, it like they mixed all the best part of old and new metal and just blended them together.

Speaking of old school there is a really well handled cover of Judas Priest’s iconic classic “Freewheel Burning” but really they don’t change enough from the original to make it stand out on it’s own, and if you’re not going to cover a classic song in your own way way then why should I, the listener, care about your version? I might as well listen to Judas Priest.  That’s actually a major problem with this record, there may be great lyrical imagery, and cool guitar solos but it’s nothing I can’t get from someone else.  What separates them from the like of Sonata Arctica or Edguy or Firewind?  What can I get from Shadowquest that I can’t from other power metal bands?  The answer is very little.  In this genre you have to have your own independant voice otherwise you’ll lose out to the competition.

Overall, if you like power metal you’ll probably like this record just fine. Don’t get me wrong I had fun with the album but it’s quite easy to get bored with it.  It has some rather impressive moments but not enough in its execution for people who aren’t familiar with this music, or even the ones who are, to say “hey, this band sounds like nothing else”.  It’s great, well polished and very fun. I recommend it, but, with a disclaimer, if you’re expecting something brand new, you won’t find it here.  However, if you’re just looking for something else to throw in to your power metal play list then I say go check it out.

3/5

Mick Birchall

Letz Zep – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 7th February 2015 by Pieni

Letz Zep
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
6th February 2015
Promoter: Clap/-Box

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It’s not always bad to get “the second best”. In this case, it was amazing to get a tribute/cover band instead of the original. And don’t think that the fact that Led Zeppelin are retired, leaving you no other option than cover bands, takes away any credit from Letz Zep.
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When they started the show at 10 pm with “Rock And Roll”, the crowd wasn’t yet totally “at it” – such a classic as this, I would expect the whole room (which was full, by the way) to sing along at the top of their lungs. Maybe they were caught off guard, because when I looked up for information on Letz Zep, I saw that “Rock And Roll” is usually saved for the encore. Whatever the case, it served to warm people up, as from that song on, they quickly fell in pace with the band and that collective voices I was hoping for was a constant until the end.

I keep reading articles mentioning Billy Kulke’s physical resemblance to Robert Plant himself, but they fail to mention his mannerism on stage. The way he moves, the way he gestures his hands, including placing them in his hips. And he does it so naturally that you don’t feel like he’s mimicking Plant. Not to mention the voice, of course. Not just the pitch but the strength, the endurance. Especially when Kulke is not exactly a kid. It was a good ten minutes past midnight when they played the last song, meaning they’d been up there for more than two hours, and still the “aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh” of “Immigrant Sont” came out sharp and steady.

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Also drummer Peter Tulloch (Simon Jeffrey was unavailable for this tour) played such a solo that would turn many 20-year-olds green with envy. It was his first time in Portugal and apparently he was in love with my country. Kulke himself mentioned how good the food and wine were, how warm the people… and how pretty the girls. And how they could dance, added Tulloch. That was because of this girl, Catarina, who had been unstoppable since the beginning. During one song, that I can’t quite remember which, Kulke even held her hand. It was also her who asked for “Black Dog” at some point, to which Kulke asked “is that time already?”. No, it was way too soon, since they played that one together with “Whole Lotta Love” in the end, before the encore. They did play “Thank You” when she asked for it, with the singer saying he couldn’t say no to a pretty face, but I’m sure they would play it anyway – in that moment or later.

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Andy Gray’s guitar playing was flawless, his flashy jacket and pants completing the whole JimmyPage-aura. And Shaun Herd“as talented as he is handsome” – was just as perfect behind the bass, the keyboards and a couple more string-instruments (one that looked like an upright bass and another like a mandolin, but not quite, for the country-ish “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”).

There were a few technical problems that we didn’t notice – not just because it was regarding the equipment they use to hear themselves (Kulke couldn’t hear his own voice at some point, Gray had trouble listening to his guitar, the lower keys of Herd’s keyboard were inaudible to him) but because despite all that, they’ve never missed a note.

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I’m usually skeptic when I’m told something is the best. With Letz Zep, however, I have no problem believing that they are indeed the number one tribute band to Led Zeppelin. A big thank you to promoters Clap/-Box for bringing them here and providing such a magical night. (5/5)

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www.letzzep.com

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Shining – streaming of new song available

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 6th February 2015 by Pieni

“The time has come to share a little bit of the darkness that will infect the world’s population in a few months. The song chosen for this specific event is called ‘Vilja & Dröm’ (Will & Dream). The track reminds me of our earlier days, when I was still mostly focusing on metal. However, it also represents a great leap into the terrible shift-shaping darkness that is our ninth album!” – these are the words of Shining-frontman Niklas Kvarforth regarding the new song that will be streaming on several European webzines until Sunday, before being available on the band’s official SoundCloud account (http://soundcloud.com/shining-official). In the UK, the webzine is Terrorizer: http://www.terrorizer.com/news/streams/shining-premiere-brand-new-song-exclusively-terrorizer

“IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends” will be released on the 20th of April via Season of Mist, with the following artwork and tracklist:

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1. Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten
2. Vilja & Dröm
3. Framtidsutsikter
4. Människotankens Vägglösa Rum
5. Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna
6. Besök Från I(ho)nom

It will be available in several versions:

– Regular Jewel Case with 12 page booklet
– Limited Edition Deluxe Digibox which includes 2 bonus tracks, 12 page booklet, a mirror in a blue velvet pouch and a goat leather patch, limited to 3,500 copies
– Double vinyl in deluxe gatefold
– Transparent red double vinyl in deluxe gatefold, limited to 620 copies
– Orange/Black marbled double vinyl in deluxe gatefold, limited to 250 copies
– Opaque white double vinyl in deluxe gatefold, limited to 100 copies (exclusive to Shining Legions)
– Red/Black marbled double vinyl in deluxe gatefold and collectors 7″ vinyl, with exclusive back patch with logo and title, limited to 100 copies

Pre-orders can be already made at http://www.shininglegions.com and http://www.season-of-mist.com/, along with T’s and exclusive bundles.

In promotion of “IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends”, under the direction of Martin Strandberg, a video is currently on the making (check Shining’s Facebook page for photos) and a string of festival appearances is confirmed, on the following dates and locations:

02 April, Messe des Morts Festival, Montreal, Canada
30 April, SWR Barroselas Festival, Barroselas, Portugal
09 May, Incineration Festival, London, England
03 July, Hard Rock Laager, Vana-Vigala, Estonia
30 July, Wacken Open Air Festival, Wacken, Germany
25 Sept, Mörkaste Småland, Hultsfred, Sweden

www.shiningasylum.com
www.facebook.com/shiningofficial
www.shininglegions.com
soundcloud.com/shining-official
www.youtube.com/OfficialShining

Behemoth’s official biography to be released later this month

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 5th February 2015 by Pieni

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Lukasz Dunaj gathered in 490 pages what he considers to be “Poland’s response to Mötley Crüe‘s biography ‘The Dirt’. “Behemoth: Devil’s Consquistadors” tells the history of the (in)famous blackened death metal band, with quotes and anecdotes from current and former members, old photos, flyers, lyric sheets and even interviews with Tomas Krajewski, Rob Darken, Graal and Havok, to name a few. Here are a couple of glimpses at it:

From the foreword by Krzysztof Azarewicz:
“If, as a cultural anthropologist, I were to point to a single cosmic force which Behemoth‘s music expresses, I would name it not Satan but Dionysus. A deity that represents not only the intoxicating influence of cosmic energies and earthly benefits, but also their benevolent healing properties. A deity of strength and pride. A deity of creative might.”

Nergal discusses the acquisition of his first electric guitar:
“The first communion was a very important moment for me. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Of course, not as a religion experience – I didn’t understand anything and couldn’t care less. Same as all the other kids. We all stood there with our votive candles and waited for one thing. Cash. The first communion must be one moment when you get the most money you’re ever going to get as a child. And for this money, I bought myself my first electric guitar. Not a bike, no Legos – a guitar.”

Metal Blade Records is proud to release this work of art on the 24th February, pre-orders already available at metalblade.com/behemoth

http://www.facebook.com/behemoth
http://twitter.com/BehemothBand
https://www.youtube.com/Behemothofficial

Soilwork to release first live DVD/BlueRay

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 5th February 2015 by Pieni

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After an almost-20-year career and 9 studio albums, Soilwork are about to release their first ever live DVD/BlueRay, with its corresponding audio CDs – “Live In The Heart Of Helsinki”.

23 songs were recorded at Circus Club, on the 21st March last year, two of them including guest appearances by Floor Jansen from Nightwish and Revamp and Nathan J. Biggs from Sonic Syndicate:

01. This Momentary Bliss
02. Like The Average Stalker
03. Overload
04. Weapon Of Vanity
05. Spectrum Of Eternity
06. Follow The Hollow
07. Parasite Blues
08. Distortion Sleep
09. Bastard Chain
10. Let This River Flow (feat. Floor Jansen)
11. Long Live The Misanthrope
12. Tongue
13. Nerve
14. The Chainheart Machine
15. The Living Infinite I
16. Rise Above The Sentiment
17. Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter
18. Rejection Role
19. Black Star Deceiver (feat. Nathan J. Biggs)
20. As The Sleeper Awakes
21. Sadistic Lullabye
22. As We Speak
23. Stabbing The Drama

The setlist will be divided in two CDs, while the DVD/BlueRay will also include two documentaries (“Spectrum Of Eternity: A Brief History Of Soilwork” and “Behind The Scenes Of The Living Infinite”) and drumcam videos filmed during the songs “Long Live The Misanthrope”, “Rise Above The Sentiment”, “Spectrum Of Eternity” and “Tongue”.

Frontman Björn ‘Speed’ Strid commented: “There could’ve not been a better time than now, with 10 albums out and a very varied back catalogue to choose from. Our line up now is 50 % original members and 50 % fresh blood, which makes it all more interesting. Especially since the newest members have brought so much to our sound and have continued to inspire us to write new and exciting music and also brought a new found energy on stage. Now is definitely the time to see us. Trust me.”

Set for release on 16th March, via Nuclear Blast, a trailer for the DVD has been pumping on YouTube for a few days now:

Pre-order your copy:
DVD + 2 CD –  http://bit.ly/LITHOHbase
BlurRay + 2 CD –  http://bit.ly/LITHOHblubase

www.soilwork.org

www.facebook.com/soilwork

Terror Empire’s debut album streaming in full

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 4th February 2015 by Pieni

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Formed in 2009, Portuguese thrashers Terror Empire would release their first EP 4 years later, named “Face The Terror”. By then they had already gained a solid fan base with their live shows, a base that grew bigger and stronger with the EP release. This is bound to happen again when their debut full-legth hits the stores, later this month (23rd February via Nordavind Records). But until then, you can enjoy it in full at Pure Grain Audio, where “The Empire Strikes Back” is available for free streaming: http://puregrainaudio.com/audio/terror-empire-the-empire-strikes-black-exclusive-premiere-album-stream.

Cover art and track listing are as follows:

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1. The Empire Strikes…
2. …Black
3. The Servant
4. Skinned Alive
5. Revolution Now
6. The Route of the Damned
7. Man Made of Sand
8. Reality Check
9. Protective Wolves
10. Strings of Rebellion
11. Good Friends Make the Best Enemies
12. Break the Cycle

www.facebook.com/terrorempire

Through The Cracks announce new singer

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 3rd February 2015 by Pieni

Last Christmas, soulful-rock act Through The Cracks announced that singer Tillie Grundel and keyboard player Emmy Åsblom had parted ways with the band as their personal life and other projects they both had were taking too much of their time, leaving none left for TTC. So until they found at least a new singer, the recordings for their debut EP had to be put on hold. Well the waiting is over! Today, Through The Cracks are proud to introduce you to Sara Lindberg and that the recordings have resumed.

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https://www.facebook.com/ThroughTheCracksBand