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

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Moonspell – Extinct

Posted in CD, Metal 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 CD, Metal 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 CD, Metal 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