Archive for June, 2015

Bloodyard – Darker Rage EP

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 8th June 2015 by mickbirchy

Bloodyard
Darker Rage
Black metal / groove metal
Release date: 27th June 2015
Self-release

Bloodyard are a death/groove metal band based in the North-West of England. The band consists of Donna Hurd on vocals, Nick Adamson on guitar, Dave Cowley on bass and Matty Lee on drums.  After the release of the their 2013 EP, Set To Fall they found reasonable success across the UK. Now, with their follow up EP “Darker Rage” they look to continue in their future and further their potential.  Their sound is this cool combination of groove tones, thrash rhythms and black metal style vocals.  It make for very interesting concoction. I find myself weirdly compelled by the stylistic choices of this EP. They have some great riffs and interesting ideas for songs. I’ve heard comparisons to Arch Enemy and I think that fits well enough.

The EP opens with “Epitaph” which has this really well worked riff and the whole song fits around it.  Along with a good bass groove, this song is fun and drives you to keep listening.  The vocals are well projected and powerful. I can’t say the drum work is spectacular but it does its job. This song, however, would be nothing without that excellent groove. Up next is “Sacred To None”.  Once again a solid riff and great groove.  This one clearly takes some influence from thrash metal.  The drums are well worked and frame the song nicely, and the vocals are still pretty good.  It’s around here, though, that I noticed a problem with this EP: the songs go by too quick.  Maybe that’s just me but just as I’m getting into the song, it ends.  Just as it gets interesting, I’m cut off and left wanting a little more.

Next up we have the title track “Darker Rage” This is just awesome.  Really enjoy this track.  The riff is solid and the whole song just feels rounded. One of those tracks that make you wanna just get up and headbang.  Throughout the EP, the writing is just consistent, everything is solid and it shows as the riffs and grooves are very enjoyable. The solos aren’t anything too special, but they serve the purpose fine, I have nothing against it.  Finally the last track is “Dead Relics” and it’s more of the same.  I don’t think I can add much else talking in a track-by-track sense.

So yeah, this is a pretty decent EP.  Yet, it does have its problems. The first thing you’ll probably notice is the production quality. It’s not great, everything sounds muffled and if it is mixed you couldn’t tell.  I get that not everyone has a big production budget, but yet, I’ve heard self-releases that sounds bloody amazing. So I don’t quite understand that.  Also every song on the EP follows pretty much the same structure.  Slow intro, speed into the song, have a solo, close out the song.  There’s just barely enough tweaks to make each track sound like a different song. Which to me is a little lazy and makes everything sound samey.  With an EP you should try to show off variety, I get the feeling this is a one trick pony.

To summerise, is this good? Well, yes and no.  If you’ve spent a lot of time around under the radar metal bands and you particularly like the sound of cheaper production on a metal record, then I say go get this.  That’s not to say there isn’t anything there, there’s so much potential in this band and I genuinely like the grooves and riff.  Those were the fun moments of the EP.  However, I know not everyone gets excited by a decently composed riff.  I like this EP, I think the band has a long way to go but I also think they have enough to get there.  They just need to be a bit more creative and think of a new structure for the songs.

2,5/5

Mick Birchall

Barshasketh – Ophidian Henosis

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 7th June 2015 by izaforestspirit

Barshasketh
Ophidian Henosis
Released 30th July 2015
Black Metal
Released via Blut & Eisen Productions 

Ophidian Henosis’ is the third album from the black metal band Barshasketh. The band was formed back in 2009 and originates from New Zealand but they are currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland after relocating there a few years ago.

After a quick glance at the tracklist, it soon becomes apparent that this album is essentially one song in seven parts, aptly labeled “Ophidian Henosis I”, “Ophidian Henosis II” and so on. After an atmospheric intro, these guys cut to the chase with part one blasting its way through the speakers with some fast and furious guitars akin to the likes of Marduk. Yet it’s not all about the ferocious pummeling of the drums and guitars, for underneath this mean looking facade lies is a melodic element which softens the blow to the eardrums. As far as the black metal genre styles go, it’s like Marduk meets Ragnarok with a hint of Taake thrown in for good measure.

As the album progresses, the Taake-esque melodic elements remain a key feature of Barshasketh’s chosen style. For example, midway through part II and into the second minute of part V, the guitars are almost tranquil-sounding forming a sharp contrast to Krigeist’s harsh screams. At the same time the harsh and more brutal side is never too far away and each song contains a mixture of the two styles. It’s as though the melodic parts were there to provide a short interlude for the listener to relax for a while before the pummeling resumes. This adds to the variety and makes the album easier to listen to.

Overall this has been an enjoyable experience. Barshasketh’s style is by no means unique but they combine some good influences from more established acts from the black metal scene. I would recommend this to fans of Marduk and Ragnarok.

4/5

Iza Raittila

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Radio City South Park Festival

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , on 7th June 2015 by izaforestspirit
Radio City South Park Festival
Def Leppard, Helloween, Amorphis
Eteläpuisto,Tampere, Finland
6th June 2015

Radio City South Park is a relatively new metal and rock festival held in Tampere. It was created last year after the demise of Sauna Open Air replacing it as the city’s main metal event. This was my first time at the festival and I was only there for the Saturday.

First up on the main stage was the Finnish speed metal band Ranger. They are a young and fairly new band who have only just released their debut album this year. Their show was very energetic and fun to watch, packed with furiously fast guitar riffs and somewhat cheesy lyrics. They reminded me of more establish speed and thrash metal acts such as Exciter and Witchburner. All I can say is that if all their shows are as good as the one I saw, these guys have a very bright future ahead of them. 5/5

Finnish “Rautalanka” heavy metal outfit Viikate were probably the most unique band in the line-up. This particular show was a little unusual because rather than playing their own stuff, they decided to focus primarily on Finnish language cover versions of Motörhead songs. Since this was the very first time that I’ve seen these guys live, it was a bit of a letdown to only hear a handful of original Viikate tracks. Whilst I like Motörhead, hearing the familiar tunes sang in Finnish by another band isn’t quite the same as the real thing. 3.5/5

Melodic metallers Amorphis are one of those bands whom I’ve seen live at least twice already and they are a regular feature at Finnish metal festivals. Whilst I like their older stuff, I’ve lost track of them over the years. Their show was mainly composed of new songs from the latest album so I didn’t really enjoy their show as much as I used to in the past. Luckily they played ‘Silent Waters’ and ‘House of Sleep’ towards the end which cheered me up a little. 3.5/5

I’m not into Def Leppard so the final band I saw was the German power metal band Helloween. The weather wasn’t the best, it had been raining for most of the day, but nonetheless there’s nothing quite like a nice cold beer and some power metal at a summer metal festival. This was definitely my favourite performance of the day These guys really know how to agitate the crowds with their funny stage antics and skillfully executed fast power metal. Sure, some of the lyrics might be a little cheesy but it’s all highly entertaining and fun to watch. 5/5

Overall South Park may not be the biggest Finnish metal festival, but it’s an interesting one. The good thing is that it featured a few bands whom I haven’t seen live before. I discovered the delights of Ranger and Helloween; Amorphis were pretty much what I expected them to be and I might have to give Viikate another try. Kiitos Radio City South Park! See you next year!

Iza Raittila