Archive for April, 2015

Hardcore Superstar – HCSS

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 28th April 2015 by Pieni

Hardcore Superstar
“HCSS”
Hard rock
Released on 22nd April 2015
Via Gain Music

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Been struggling with the right words to write this for more than a week now. Is it a good album? Pretty much so. Do I like it? Not really. It’s far from the first time that I acknowledge the greatness of an album, even if that particular genre of music isn’t my cup of tea. The issue here is that Hardcore Superstar is one of my favorite bands and it’s hard to leave my personal disappointment out of the way.

First and foremost, “HCSS” lacks edge. The riffing is still heavy, but not vibrant, and it’s now more accurate to mention a “cheesy vibe” than a sleazy one. “Don’t Mean Shit” is probably the only song that still carries the Hardcore Superstar spirit of the last five albums, and maybe the reason why it’s the opening track – a passage between the past and the present. A very retro present. Nothing against the traditional hard rock of “Party ‘Til I’m Gone” (even though I prefer my rock less classic), but the dreamlike, nearly-psychedelic moments are too much Summer-of-the-drugs for me. But one might find those the cherry on top of the cake, the one detail that makes all the difference.

The rhythm in “The Cemetary” embraces another ‘70s facet, sounding just like The Clash’s “London Calling”. It gains a bit more spirit in the chorus, becoming really lively (no pun intended) and catchy. It’s a good song, but something I’d expect from the “No Regrets” era and not the Hardcore Superstar of today. In fact, now that I think of it, there’s a lot of that album and “Thank You (For Letting Us Be Ourselves)” in here. A bit twisted and revamped, but here. Guess music does run in circles.

I don’t know if any of the guys is a Procol Harum fan, but “Fly” surely feels like it was inspired by the English band. A classy melancholy that goes on for almost eight minutes and which will either delight you or bore you – there’s hardly a middle term. As for the groovy/funky “Touch The Sky”, I would go for “delight or annoy” – especially those verses in the beginning of the song, where you don’t understand a thing of what Jocke’s singing. Once again, one may consider that a touch of genius. Me, I’m not convinced.

I do like “Glue”, and once in a while the chorus of both “The Ocean” and “Off With Their Heads” pops happily in my head. But still… As a reviewer, I must congratulate Hardcore Superstar for their diverse and rich songwriting. As a fan, I confess I was expecting something else.

4/5

By Renata “Pieni” Lino

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Doom Over Edinburgh – Doom, the whole doom, and nothing but the doom

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , on 28th April 2015 by Paul Macmillan

This article is the third in a series of interviews with organisers of underground metal festivals in Scotland, previously covering one of the longest running (BOBSTOCK – Bobfest 10), and one of the newest (Sonic Mass). This time around, we’re zeroing in on one of the most niche metal events to be launched in recent times, Doom Over Edinburgh.

If you couldn’t guess by the title, D.O.E. is dedicated in its entirety to the genre of doom, and doom alone! If you’ve been following the other articles, you’ll notice a recurring theme when it’s mentioned that D.O.E. was put together by yet another musician, Miguel Santos. We grabbed a few precious moments with the mastermind of not only Edinburgh based doom metallers, A Dream Of Poe, but also this new yearly event.

Miguel Santos

Valkyrian Music: Hi Miguel! How is life in the wake of the very first Doom Over Edinburgh?

Miguel Santos: Still recovering from a cold but not too bad. Yourself?

VM: Not bad at all! Are you fit talk about Doom Over Edinburgh?

MS: Yeah, absolutely

VM: Brilliant! Well, first of all, it’s a very defined genre. What made you choose doom specifically?

MS: Well, basically, that’s the kind of music that I identify myself with the most. I have been around, playing in doom metal bands since 2003, and since then, and especially since I started to promote events (2007), I always wanted to do a festival with just doom metal bands. That was impossible in the Azores (where I come from), as people are not that keen on doom metal, so as soon as I moved to edinburgh and started to know the scene here a bit more, it was just a matter of time before going for it

VM: One might suspect that such a narrow bracket would restrict turn-out, but what were the numbers like in the end?

MS: Well, it does restrict it a bit. I made a loss on this first edition, and I can’t deny that I was expecting to have more people attending the festival, but it was a loss that still allowed me to look in a positive way at the next edition. We had the cancellation from Solstice, and due to that I had to do some refunds, so that had an impact on the final number. But I believe the doom scene is great. People that like it will travel miles to come to the events. As an example, I had a german couple who flew from Frankfurt to come to the festival! That’s dedication to doom!

VM: That’s pretty cool! Do you think niche genre fests can hold their own with events on a similar scale which appeal to a wider audience?

MS: Of course, on a festival that appeals to not only doom but black, death, thrash and so on, the likeliness of having more people attending is huge when compared to a doom only festival. There are lots of doom only events all over the world, and they are all doing great!

VM: It would be good to see another similar UK event stand shoulder to shoulder with some of them.

MS: Doom Over London, for me, is one of the most important Doom festivals we have in Europe, so yeah, we can indeed get shoulder to shoulder with them. Although, it’s still much easier and cheaper for a promoter in Germany or The Netherlands to put a killer Doom Festival on, as most bands will be able to travel by van instead of having to pay for flights as happens here in the UK

VM: Talking of such things, a lot of new festival type events tend to book some pretty big name headliners. With the first D.O.E., you went for The Prophecy, who, although they have a substantial career behind them, aren’t hugely well known. Can you tell us a bit about that decision process?

MS: The decision process is relatively simple. First of all, I try to book the bands that I like and would like to see live. Then I take into account how much it would cost me, and if the band can generate enough interest here in Scotland to cover the costs.

VM: Personal taste seems to be quite important

MS: Yes absolutely, but then I do like doom as I said, so I kind of like most bands within the genre. I have my preferences, though, but I never rule out others opinions. That’s why last year I asked for suggestions from the public. I mean, at the end of the day, I need to please as many people as I can to try to cover all the costs.

VM: What makes you think ‘I really have to have THAT band?

MS: Well, put like that, I would say personal taste, really, but that’s way before sitting down and thinking about the costs. The Prophecy, for example, are one of my favorite bands! I was trying to get them to play in the Azores, but then the costs of that combined with the  very, very small amount of people who like doom made that impossible. But then, here in Edinburgh, it was a different case, as it would be much easier and cheaper to have them on the bill.

VM: New all-dayers and mini-fests seem to pop up all over the place at the drop of a hat these days. D.O.E. seemed to be getting announcements and promotion out years ago! How important was this extensive lead-up to planning the show successfully?

MS: I always like to do things in advance. It gives me time to plan things ahead and be on top of everything. If something happens, I have more than enough time to react and prepare a solution. Also by starting early – I mean, a week after the end of the first edition I announced the first band for 2016 –  it allows me to build up the interest and reach as many people as possible, so that way I maximize the chances of having a full house, and in that case cover all the costs.

VM: With the second D.O.E. already announced, are you at all concerned that you won’t have the same amount of preparation time?

MS: Well, I’m actually having more time to prepare this time. I started the last year’s edition promotion in July, I believe; this year I started in March, so it pretty much gives me 1 year to get everything ready to doom!

VM: Really? It seemed like so much longer the first time! I apologise.

MS: No worries at all! It did seem a long time indeed. I do hate waiting, but that’s a necessary good I believe.

VM: Maybe it’s just the magic of doom?

MS: Indeed it is! And good things come to those who wait.

Doom Over Edinburgh

VM: Are you hoping to develop the event into a bigger and better version, or is it more or less where you want it to be?

MS: I can’t deny that I want it to grow more, and become bigger and better. I do want to provide a better experience for the bands and the audience, but I’m happy where I stand now. There’s lots of room for improvement, and I’m working on that.

Anyway, there’s just so much you can do. I have to take into consideration the amount of local people interested in attending a festival like Doom Over Edinburgh. So, the thing here is trying to promote it every year the best I can, get the word out so we can get to a point to have more people attending it – people from all over the UK and from mainland Europe as well. But anyway, in my opinion, 2016 is shaping up to be a great one, and an improvement of the 2015 edition.

VM: I think that’s a good place to finish. Thank you very much for your time, Miguel, but before you go, there’s one more question, which is fast becoming a tradition for the end of these interviews: Do you have any closing advice for those thinking of taking on a similar event?

MS: That was my pleasure, thanks very much for the opportunity! My advice would be, know your audience and listen to them, do your homework, and work at trying to be as cost efficient as you can. Be prepared to make a loss, as it can happen, but don’t give up! And don’t trust Facebook that much!

Doom Over Edinburgh II is set to take place on March 11 2016 at Bannermans Bar, Edinburgh.

By Paul Macmillan

Sirenia–The Seventh Life Path

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 22nd April 2015 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Sirenia
The Seventh Life Path
Released 8th May 2015
Symphonic/Gothic Metal
Released via Napalm Records

Norway is the perfect setting for the dusk-coloured symphonies written by Sirenia. Following on from jump to Napalm Records, the band announced the release of The Seventh Life Path, the follow-up to their previous album which was released via Nuclear Blast.

The Seventh Life Path begins slow with the track Seti, painting a crepuscular image in the mind of the listener with a tragic choir and a solemn orchestration. Serpent has a chilling introduction with what sounds to be the twisted speech of children before waves of guitars and symphonic sounds come crashing down with Ailyn’s haunting voice sailing atop them. Morten’s harsher demonstration of vocals adds the final piece to the twilit essence of the song. Once My Light sees an interesting use of synths in work, melding with the howls of Morten’s and Jan’s guitars. The song has it calmer passages that allow for smooth sailing between the raging flurries of guitars and drums.

The guitars on Elixir sound dignified and imposing, giving the track a far more august atmosphere. The use of clean vocals as well as choirs and the occasional bestial snarls deliver a fresh course of unrelenting misty notes. Sons of the North stands out prominently, like a peacock in shades of Gothic colours seeking a new mate. The first verse, growled by Morten, describe a cold, unforgiving setting which is perfect for the song. The symphonies that are placed ever so masterfully in this track are sharp, and biting, as if they were shards of ice falling from the darkening skies during a wintry storm.

Earendel explodes with fierce lashes from the guitars and powerful, lyrical orchestral notes. Ailyn’s and Morten’s vocals are virtually poetic throughout this track, displaying why they make such dynamic partners on the microphone. Consealed Disdain frequents the use of technical compositions that chart the way for the rest of the track, especially the venom-laced screams and the calculated riffs. Insania – which fortunately isn’t a cover of that awful Peter Andre song – isn’t as heavy as other tracks on the album but it still bludgeons the listener with raging guitars that would put even the Hulk to shame and intricate orchestration. Contemptuous Quitus is a melodic track, summoning forth a tactful placement of notes and harmonies, to create a shroud of thick darkness that only Sirenia can pull off. The piano medleys blend in an awe-inspiring manner between the other instruments, sealing the track together into one magnificent musical portrait.

The Silver Eye sails the album towards its end with an introductory of a cluster of everything, ranging from the vicious execution of the guitars to the dual vocals. After that storm, the song eases into smoother sailing, allowing each element its chance to be heard. Sirenia make port with the final track of the album, Tragedienne, a song that weeps with heartbreaking sounds as the chilling vocals of Ailyn are heard within. The piano medley that floats throughout the track offers up a bleak sense of emotion as each note gently steps away.

Sirenia have been on the scene for a number of years now and The Seventh Life Path is possibly one of the greatest albums to be have been recorded within symphonic metal. It offers up a range of elements from the gothic to the mysterious as well as a number of Cimmerian emotions. The musicianship is flawless and the vocals are mesmerising. Forget this being the album of the year, this deserves to be album of the decade.

5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Sirenia online:

http://sirenia.no

Epica announce small run of UK shows

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 22nd April 2015 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

The Dutch titans of symphonic metal, Epica, have announced that they will return to the UK in November for a small run of shows. The UK tour will be in support of the band’s most recent masterpiece, The Quantum Enigma, which saw a change of style for the band which modernised their sound while sticking to their roots in symphonic metal. Epica’s mainman, guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen comments:

We had such a great time when we played an one-off UK show at The Forum last year that we will come back for a short run of UK dates this autumn. We will be joined on this run by Eluveitie and Scar Symmetry. I am very pleased to tour with this strong package. I’m sure you all won’t regret coming out to one of these shows and partying with us. See you!!!

Support comes from 2 Nuclear Blast label mates. Switzerland’s Eluveitie released a new album last year, the Celtic Folk influenced ‘Origins’, which they performed at a string of sold-out UK dates last Autumn. Swedish melodic Death Metal band Scar Symmetry complete the bill, performing their first UK dates since the release of their new album ‘The Singularity Phase I: Neohumanity’ , also released in 2014.

Tour dates are as follow:

11-11-2015 UK-Bristol O2 Academy
12-11-2015 UK-Manchester Ritz
14-11-2015 UK-Glasgow Garage
15-11-2015 UK-London Forum

Epica online:

http://epica.nl
http://facebookc.com/epica
http://twitter.com/_epica

Cradle of Filth reveal artwork for ‘Hammer of The Witches’

Posted in News with tags on 20th April 2015 by izaforestspirit

The British extreme Gothic metal band Cradle of Filth have recently unveiled the cover art for the new album ‘Hammer of The Witches’. Check it out here:

The cover was designed by the Latvian postmodernist artist Arthur Berzinsh. Here’s what the band’s frontman Dani Filth had to say about it:

“The artwork for »Hammer Of The Witches« was created by Latvian Artist Arthur Berzinsh and is a lavish walk-through of the lyricism, drawing on rich Renaissance themes and displaying them in beautiful yet unsettling scenarios. Half of the detailed pieces are totally original for the release, others are Berzinsh classics cunningly tailored to the themes of the album, which are themes rife with heady witchcraft, be it persecution, retribution or unfettered spiritual liberation. The female form is rampant throughout the artwork, unashamedly displayed in its classical rendition of beauty… and horror.”

The long-awaited follow up to ‘The Manticore and Other Horrors’ is due to hit the shops in July via Nuclear Blast.

Apocalyptica – Shadowmaker

Posted in CD, Metal on 19th April 2015 by izaforestspirit

Apocalyptica
Shadowmaker

Released: 20th April 

Symphonic Heavy Metal

Released via Better Noise, part of Eleven Seven Music Group & Harmageddon Records

Apocalyptica is one of those bands whose career I’ve followed right from the start. I still remember the time when they only played cello covers of Metallica songs. They revolutionized the cello, a classical and primarily orchestral instrument by making it “metal” and as much a part of alternative music as the drums or the guitar. They quickly moved on from just covering metal songs to writing their own material. Several albums, a handful of line-up changes and various guest vocalists later, they have undergone yet another transformation – for the first time in the band’s history they have a full-time singer, an American called Franky Perez. ‘Shadowmaker’ is the first album to feature him on vocals. This review is for the limited edition CD, which contains two extra tracks.

After the eerie-sounding instrumental intro I-III-V Seed of Chaos comes the first full track, Cold Blood which underlines just how well Franky Perez’s singing works with the cellos and the drums. However, it is title track that deserves the spotlight. Once again the vocals are perfectly adjusted to the speed and the overall tone of the instruments. The cellos are melancholic and slow at the start but then they pick up the pace and the latter part of the song sounds almost playful as though it were meant for a dance. I can actually imagine some sort of shadow puppet play with this music in the background. Perez’s vocal style ranges from soft and melodic as evident on the ballad Sea Song (You Waded Out), to the harsh, near growl variety audible on songs such as House of Chains.

The bonus instrumental track Reign of Fear is reminiscent of older Apocalyptica songs. That track has a haunting feel to it due to the sinister cello riffs and the gradual shift in pace from slow to quick. Then there’s the melodic and sombre-sounding love song ‘Hole in My Soul’ which is far more gentle and pleasant compared to its predecessor. Another track that caught my attention is the catchy and fast-paced instrumental Riot Lights. It illustrates just how versatile a cello can be offering an impressive range of multifaceted sounds which are then paired with the drums to create a true masterpiece of a song. Then there’s the final song, the sombre-sounding yet beautiful Dead Man’s Eyes which seems like a fitting end to what has been an emotional experience.

Overall, if you’re a fan of Apocalyptica’s earlier works, this album may not be an instant hit. It took me a while to get accustomed to Franky Perez’s vocals and only after the second (and with some songs even the third listen), did I actually start to fully appreciate ‘Shadowmaker’. Yes, Apocalyptica has changed a lot over the years but luckily the addition of a singer has proven to be a good move for the band.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Nightwish – Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 19th April 2015 by mickbirchy

Nightwish
Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Symphonic metal
Released on March 30, 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

OK, so I’m not going to pretend like I’m the biggest Nightwish fan. However, I am a fan of the symphonic metal genre and they are a big part of that world of music and I did enjoy their last outing Imaginaerum, like, a lot. So, when I got Endless Forms Most Beautiful I was wondering what the band had in store, as this is the first album with new singer Floor Jansen, who to me seemed like a good match for them; she has a fantastic voice and I was wondering how the band were going to use her for this album.

Now the intro is out of the way, I’ll just say it: this album is bad, really bad, but… The bits that Nightwish get right are pretty fantastic.  I can honestly say that some of the riffs and melodies on this record are actually really good. It’s like a bad Disney movie, bad and hard to sit through, but dammit, when they get it right, they get it right.  Same can be said for this album, it’s all pretty hit and miss. Believe when I say, I hate that I have to hate this album, because a few changes here or there and this would have been solid, or at the very least listenable. The album opens with the tune “Shudder Before the Beautiful” which is actually pretty catchy and works pretty well. Same can be said for a range of song on the record, catchy and definitely show signs of interest and promise but ultimately don’t leave much of an impression on me. Tuomas Holopainen’s compositions always have this weird charms to them but it’s the song he wrote with Marco Hietala that particular stand out for me, especially Yours Is An Empty Hope.

To be perfectly honest, I think it’s because the album feels mostly lifeless. I’m willing to concede that yes, a lot of work went into this record, but everything feels so lifeless and non committal. It just feels empty. Also I don’t think Floor Jansen is used to her fullest potential, I know that was the intention but why? It’s like a pirate ship having 50 cannons and then choosing not to use 25 of them, it makes no sense. Also the production sounds a little muted, I always find myself having to turn the volume up, I couldn’t explain this to save me it’s weird.  Alot of it just sounds like their trying way too hard to sound big and symphonic, and when you’re struggling to sound symphonic, it makes everything sound so fake around you and it’s hard to be invested in the music.

The only couple of songs that I really enjoyed on this album are, Yours Is An Empty Hope, which is this high octane rush of a song, it gets you pumped and the music is vaguely interesting here.  Also the title track, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, is pretty decent too, well paced and balanced.  Other than that, I couldn’t recommend this at all.

Overall, well no, I don’t like it.  I know that sometimes different doesn’t always mean bad, but here I feel Nightwish kept too much the same from their records with Anette Olzen. If she was singing here, this might have been salvageable, but you can’t change the singer and keep the old song writing patterns, that makes no sense.  Ultimately I can’t say I like this album, but this has had high critical praise elsewhere, so what do I know…

2/5

Mick Birchall