Archive for August, 2015

Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 30th August 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Nile
What Should Not Be Unearthed
Released August 28th 2015
Technical death metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

Nile - What Should Not Be Unearthed

Nile are just one of those bands who have miraculously passed me by. I’ve always known of them, and even more or less what their sound and content is all about. It’s just that the jigsaw pieces were never quite in the same place at the same moment, so this is one of those occasions where I get to make up for lost time and broaden my musical horizons in a very enjoyable way; the way of theologically horrific death metal!

Spin one, and it’s instant, visceral blast after visceral blast, direct to the face, and I instantly regret not having followed this band more closely in the past. It’s all about investigation and discovery, though, so back I go, through the sands of time, right back to the beginning. In truth …Unearthed 100% plays the older and more cultured brother to all of their previous releases; a natural progression point to be expected from a band of Nile‘s vintage. There’s an obvious easy confidence carrying this thunderous uproar that comes with settling into self-assurance in one’s abilities; not arrogance or cockiness, but a belligerent nonchalance, blazing through mind-bending intricacies with a comfort not previously displayed.

Yet behind every blinding flash of frenzied frettage is an undeniable musical intelligence. Too often bands which fall under the ‘technical death’ banner are only really any good for one thing – shredding. While anyone who claimed that Nile couldn’t give these musicians more than a run for their virtuoso money would be, quite rightly, decried as a fool, they are leagues and aeons away from being branded in the one-trick-pony trap. They seem to be at a stage where they are more happy than ever to slip into a thick riff, owning it entirely, and there’s plenty of the atmospheric character shown in previous works such as (the reportedly less-well-received) At The Gates Of Sethu.

Some of the best recordings in extreme music are those which you can listen to in quiet reflection, but which also grow arms and legs of engagement when the volume is cranked up to the point of a physical sensation of sound. This is definitely one such, and more, it is razor-sharp precision work, with youthful intent and intensity. In terms of quality, 2015 has been a somewhat golden age of metal so far. What Should Not Be Unearthed is simply the latest nail in the sarcophagus.

4.5/5

Paul Macmillan

Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 28th August 2015 by Pieni

Amorphis
“Under The Red Cloud”
Melodic metal
Release: 4th September 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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First thing you need to know – in case you’ve missed both singles “Death Of A King” and “Sacrifice” – is that Amorphis are still on the melodic metal path. Touring in celebration of the 20th anniversary of “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” was just that – a celebration of the past. They’re not returning to the death-ish doom of those early days, although the melancholy is still there in full (as it’s always been). Mind that I’m not complaining; personally, I prefer this smoother approach. I just thought I should warn the old school fans who went bananas with the aforementioned tour. I will complain, though, about the somewhat disappointing album that “Under The Red Cloud” turned out to be, regardless its genre.

The opening title-track is quite good, the keys combined with the guitars building that typical Amorphis atmosphere. The riffs and Tomi Joutsen’s growls make a hell of a chorus and the song eventually sticks to your brain. But sadly, that doesn’t happen much more throughout the rest of the album.

“The Four Wise Ones” has some spirit to it, having the faster and heavier rhythm. “Death Of A King” was a brilliant choice for single, as the sound that Amorphis got us used to is played in Arabic variations and the result is positively interesting. As for “Sacrifice”… well, that’s more radio-friendly and probably why it was released as a single. Apart from an elaborate guitar solo, its composition is not very impressive. The folkish “Tree Of Ages”, that features Eluveitie-Chrigel Glanzmann playing flute, is pretty catchy and I guess that “White Night” may stand out for the participation of Aleah Standbridge, although the song itself is a bit dull. And that’s about it. It’s not that “Under The Red Cloud” is a bad album, but there’s something missing to make it a great one. The everyday fan of the band will probably enjoy this, but the most demanding music lovers will sense that “lack of something”.

3/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

An Autumn For Crippled Children – The Long Goodbye

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 28th August 2015 by izaforestspirit

An Autumn For Crippled Children
The Long Goodbye
Released 23th February 2015
Atmospheric Black Metal
Released via Wickerman Recordings

‘The Long Goodbye’ is the new album from the Friesland-based Dutch black metal band An Autumn For Crippled Children. It is the follow up to ‘Try Not to Destroy Everything You Love’. The band’s name is derived from a song by the avantgarde Gothic metal band Ebonylake.

Now, they say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this particular case the cover is a perfect depiction of An Autumn For Crippled Children. Their sound is melancholic and eerie, just like the gloomy looking clouds and the dark mountains on the front cover, but despite this it also offers that strangely soothing feeling that you might experience when observing this type of landscape.

Amidst the singer’s raw shrieks there’s a certain beauty and tranquility to be found in the sombre melodies; the soft guitar tunes working with the atmospheric keyboards to create a pleasant and (dare I say it) “relaxing” effect. Only Skin is a good example of just how well the other instruments diffuse and soften the blow to the eardrums that were caused by the harsh vocals. It’s a delicate balance which is very hard to maintain but these guys make it work. In fact it’s fair to say that the predominant and often the only black metal elements here are the vocals because the music itself is rather mild and more akin to radio-friendly rock than extreme metal. For example, the atmospheric and serene She’s Drawing Mountains is one of those; without the shrieking vocals it would be just a pleasant instrumental track which you could easily play in a café. Gleam caught my attention as one of the few tracks on here which has that catchy, “rocking” tinge to it thanks to the keyboards, making it one of the more memorable tracks on here.

Overall, the main problem that I have with this release is that there is very little distinction between the tracks. You can go through over half of the album without even noticing the songs change. An Autumn For Crippled Children tend to play it safe and stick to the same tried and tested formula of non-offensive, melancholic and pleasant-sounding, atmospheric metal with black metal shrieks. It works well as a background noise to tune into whilst you’re concentrating on something else.

3/5

Iza Raittila

Soilwork – The Ride Majestic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 18th August 2015 by Pieni

Soilwork
“The Ride Majestic”
Melodic death metal
Release: 28th August 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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Soilwork haven’t had the need to prove themselves to me for a long time now. After albums such as “Figure Number Five”, “Stabbing The Drama” or the previous “The Living Infinite”, they’ve achieved a solid rank on my list of bands. But I confess I didn’t think they could impress me more either. Well I’m biting my tongue right now.

The richness in details was taken to the next level and the result is a classy mix of extreme rhythms with vibrant melodies. The first title track (yes, first – there are two, although the second adds “(Aspire Angelic)”, to make the difference) is the bridge between “The Ride Majestic” and “The Living Infinite”, given the similarity in riffs and licks. If you listen to one album after the other, this track makes a smooth, natural transition between them. Because “Alight The Aftermath” will then sound like an outburst of power; way faster, way heavier, way darker.

“Death In General”, on the other hand, is the least heavy track (which doesn’t necessarily mean light). Its composition is too enthralling and seductive, the drums achieving a tribal beat on a couple of occasions, and Mr. Speed showing he can do whatever he wants with his voice.

The bluesy intro of “Enemies In Fidelity”, which underlines some further parts in an otherwise thrash/death composition. The earworm-ish chorus and break of “Petrichor By Sulphur”. The epic, extreme piece that “The Phantom” is through and through (definitely my favorite). The sharpness of “The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)”, in contrast with the gloominess of “Whirl Of Pain”. A gloominess that continues on “All Along Echoing Paths” but at a heavier pace. The mosher-friendly of “Shining Lights”, featuring a massive guitar work. And the deep grand finale of “Father And Son Watching The World Go Down”. Eleven new tracks, all majestic indeed.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Blackwelder – Survival of The Fittest

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 16th August 2015 by izaforestspirit

Blackwelder
Survival of the Fittest
Released 24th April 2015
Power Metal
Released via Gold Core Records/ ZYX Music

‘Survival of the Fittest’ is the debut album from the international power metal super group Blackwelder. The band features Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear as well as former members of Gamma Ray, Angra and Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Blackwelder was originally formed by the American heavy metal guitarist Andrew Szusc (Seven Serafim) back in 2012.

So, after reviewing some melancholic Gothic doom metal lately, I decided that it was time to lighten things up a bit. It is still summer after all, the sun is shining and everyone is out there sunbathing, swimming in the nearby lake or river or heating up the BBQ. There’s no better music for times like this than power metal. My personal power metal collection is limited to a handful of Sonata Arctica albums along with several releases by Sabaton and Helloween. Having said that, I have been to a Primal Fear show a few years ago, so when I heard about their singer’s new project I decided to check it out.

First up is The Night of The New Moon which is packed with lots of catchy guitar riffage and fast drumming paired with Ralf Scheepers’s high pitched, storytelling vocals. As far as this genre goes, Blackwelder’s signature sound tends to be a little slower than the speed-power metal style of Primal Fear and more akin to that of Helloween. They do pick up the pace at times though, such as the ultra fast “catch this if you can” guitar shredding at the start of Freeway of Life or the headbanging-friendly guitar solo at the start of Remember The Time.

Yet no matter how fast or aggressive the music gets, the vocals remain melodic and the chorus of each track is easy to sing along to. With Flying Colors is a good example of just how well the vocals fit in with the rest of instruments. Whilst the song is still very guitar-driven, the vocals are powerful enough to make the chorus linger in your head and to tempt you to start headbanging along to the tune.

Overall, this album was fun to listen to and it definitely has that “summer metal” feel that I was hoping for. It’s great to see that a bunch of experienced musicians from various corners of the world can get together to create something new and fresh. I’d recommend this to fans of Gamma Ray, Primal Fear and Helloween.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Krysthla – A War Of Souls And Desires

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

Krysthla
A War Of Souls And Desires
Release: September 28th 2015
Metal
Released via Initiate Audio and Media

Krysthla - A War Of Souls And Desires

Holy shit sticks! This is heavy! I mean, it was always going to be a hefty slab of meat, coming from former members of Gutworm (as well as Deadeye), but this is HEAVY heavy. Be prepared to be smashed in the face with a dump-truck’s worth of satisfaction. Then wait with glee for it to back up again.

There are a number of essentially British characteristics raised to the fore in this offering, the hardcore vocal timbre of Adi Mayes being the most prominent. However, this Wellingborough based quintet are far from being tied down to geographically dictated audio trends, and there is a panoply of international vibrations laid out; Meshuggah-esque jazz metal collides with the freneticism of City era Strapping Young Lad, with hints of the twisted simplicity of Gojira. Yes, it does sound that big, that hard, and that clever, and with more influences and personal touches to boot.

Certainly, a number of the djenty riffs employed here simply won’t appeal to those detractors from the genre as a whole, but to me they are utilised to great effect. If you’re more open-minded as to the means of deriving pure heaviness, these occasions will set your head bobbing with a gurn of approval. It’s like any other cross-section of music, in that you can cherry-pick the stuff you like. E.g., I really like Xerath’s first two albums, but this is, in my opinion, a superior work. Krysthla create less of a modern, generic effect, and instead, as hinted at above, deliver a rather more Duplantier/Hagström feel.

Having heard a few snippets and teasers in the run up to the release of A War Of Souls And Desires, I have to admit, I was already expecting something a bit special, but this is a truly and surprisingly monstrous sounding band, with a lot of potential to offer the UK and global metal scene. To sum it up in the most basic of two word phrases: Unbelievably good!

5/5

Paul Macmillan

Potergeist – Crocodile Tears

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 15th August 2015 by mickbirchy

Potergeist
Crocodile Tears
Southern metal / stoner rock
Released: 1st May 2015
via G.O.D. Records

The down and dirty Greek rockers Potergeist return with their fourth offering of riffy goodness.  The four piece, consisting of Alex S Wamp (vocals), Nick XP and Stratal (guitars), Kostis Vihos (bass) and Tolis Toleas (drums), have delivered some great work over the years producing three great albums. This new studio album Crocodile Tears was produced and mixed by Pete Rutcho (Falling In Reverse,The Ghost Inside, etc) and is released on G.O.D. records. Crocodile Tears is just the next chapter in this band’s amazing story as their name keeps growing all the time. They have even supported some of the biggest names in the genre such as Black Label Society and Corrosion of Conformity. .

The album begins with the haunting little opening “Swamp Muse Summoning” which is atmospheric and sets the tone brilliantly. Then the music roars in with the title track “Crocodile Tears” which I actually find to be the weakest song. Don’t worry, the album gets much better from here. I just find the title track to be a little drudging and non-interesting, it’s not bad necessarily, it’s just weak. However, once the album kicks into high gear it doesn’t let up for a second.  The song “Visit from a Swampire” is a nice call back to their previous record Swapires and contains all of the same southern style metal.  Their riffs sound big and are very fluent. Every song just flows with bluesy licks and stoner riffs seamlessly matching up.  The melodies are really catchy and get stuck in your head with ease. Like their past work, this album is very accessible with tunes such as “Eve” and “The Preacher and The Witch”. I think people who aren’t even into this style of music could groove to these riffs.

In all honesty though, I don’t feel this is the band’s strongest work to date. Whilst it is a worthy follow up to their 2013 effort Swampires, this record isn’t a patch on the 2012 album Muddy Mermaids. It’s quite difficult to explain but I feel that their work in 2012 had a lot more power and scale in it’s execution. This record is still one fun album to listen to but there are just one too many moments where it feels like you’re being pulled through it rather than wanting to hear it. Also there are a couple of times on the album where the production gets really muddy and hard to hear. That might not be the worst thing on a southern style stoner rock album, but when you compare this to bands like Godsized, Orange Goblin or Planet of Zeus you can certainly hear a noticeable difference in the quality of the sound.

Yes, this is a cracking album but there are just a few points that bring it down.  However I still have fun listening to this band and this album does have some great riffs and well executed solos.  There’s enough here to keep me, and I’m sure many others, entertained. I look forward to whatever else this band brings to the table.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Vagos Open Air 2015 – 3rd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15th August 2015 by Pieni

Ironwsword, Bloodbath, Overkill, Orphaned Land, Alestorm, Ne Obliviscaris, Midnight Priest
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
9th August 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists

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Bloodbath

Last year, Prime Artists added one more day to the festival and the change was meant to stay. So here we were, on the third, last and more diverse day of Vagos Open Air 2015.

Personally, I still see Midnight Priest as an Iron Maiden and Judas Priest rip-off, but whether the crowd thought the same or not, they didn’t seem to care, banging those heads to songs like “Into The Nightmare” or “Rainha da Magia Negra” (Black Magic Queen). It’s a festival, a party, and they’re making copy+paste of some legendary riffs, so not even the broken high pitches of singer Lex Thunder ruined the mood. It was the shortest set of the day and it finished with “À Boleia Com o Diabo” (Hitchhiking with the Devil).

www.facebook.com/midnightpriest

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Ne Obliviscaris

Ne Obliviscaris are touring the world thanks to a crowdfunding but I didn’t know so many of their fans came from Portugal – besides the wild crowd they had during the show, the signing session/meet & greet lasted more than the one-hour gig itself! I guess the guys from down under were just as surprised, but obviously happy. And it was deserved. Their extreme prog is exquisite and seductive enough to stand out from the other bands on the bill, but then the way they performed it – even in hot daylight – was more than enthralling to everyone who’s into that kind of music. And some of them had the chance to hold singer/violinist Tim Charles on the last song, “And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope”, as he jumped into the crowd and crowdsurfed.  Promising to come back as soon as possible, they all left the stage smiling.

www.facebook.com/NeObliviscarisBand

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Alestorm

The original bill featured Halestorm and, as I think I’ve told you before, here in Portugal we like stronger stuff. There was a lot of moaning on how they should bring Alestorm instead. Then Halestorm had to cancel – not sure why and don’t really care, as cancelling a gig due to “a scheduling conflict” sounds like a poor excuse, and therefore disrespectful to their fans – and the “bring Alestorm, you only have to remove the H!” request was all over the place. And Prime Artists answered the call! The Scottish pirates (who claim coming from the “darkest depths of the Caribbean”) came and conquered with their inebriating (yeah, pun intended) folk. Talking about how they could sense our smell when introducing “The Famous Ol’ Spiced” or how they weren’t here to steal our potatoes but to drink our beer (“Drink”), this was probably the happiest show of the whole fest.

www.facebook.com/alestormband

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Orphaned Land

I’ve seen Orphaned Land a few times and know how popular they are here, but still Kobi Farhi felt the need to explain to the crowd that he wasn’t Jesus Christ, he only looked like him. In fact, he couldn’t be Jesus as he wasn’t a virgin and made a lot of sex.  After such a fun gig of Alestorm, so much different from the soberer Middle Eastern metal of Orphaned Land, I guess an ice-breaking remark like this was needed, but Kobi always has something amusing to say. Not sure which song he introduced by singing some The Doors verse, but that early evening we could hear oldies such as “Sapari”, “In Thy Never Ending Way” or “Norra El Norra” mixed with more recent ones like “All Is One”, “Let The Truce Be Known” or “The Simple Man” (the latter dedicated to us). All with a lot of clapping-to-the-rhythm and sing-alongs. Beautiful concert, so the news of an upcoming acoustic tour, which will include Portugal, was more than welcome.

www.facebook.com/OrphanedLandOfficial

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Overkill

Thrash metal returned to Vagos in the form of Overkill – our “ugly cousins from New Jersey”, as Bobby Blitz himself described them. They indeed have a solid, crazy fan-base here – fans that make Bobby feel like he’s fifty again. Yes, fifty, not fifteen – he’s not only a top thrash metal singer and owner of a chocolate shop, he’s also a humorist. The chosen tracks to represent their latest “White Devil Armory” were “Armorist” and “Bitter Pill”; the rest were the usual classics such as “Necroshine”, “In Union We Stand”, “Rotten To The Core”, “Horrorscope”, “Hello From The Gutter”… I confess that after the little speech about brotherhood, my brain whispered “bastard nation” when Bobby said “’cause we are”, but the sentence finished with “Ironbound” after all. I wonder if I’ll ever hear “Bastard Nation” live ever again. The gig finished with the mandatory “Fuck You”, and just like three years before (see here), Bobby provoked us with “is this Portugal or España?”, when he wanted to hear us louder. And just like in that other V.O.A. edition – in fact like every time someone tells us such words – it worked.

www.facebook.com/OverkillWreckingCrew

If you’re one of those who saw Nick Holmes joining Bloodbath with very skeptical eyes, it’s about time to dismiss that feeling: the guy is definitely up to it! I had the confirmation with the release of “Grand Morbid Funeral” last November, but the ultimate trial by fire is always on stage. And when you’re a Paradise Lost fan for about 20 years, like I am, you also know that it may take you a couple of shows to get that proof, as Nick’s mood affects his performance proportionally.

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Bloodbath

But as soon as “Old Nick” addressed the audience, by the way he said “We’re Bloodbath from Sweden and Yorkshire. I’m the one from Yorkshire” I could tell he was in an excellent mood, meaning he would also excel in this show. And he did. Bloodbath played a little something from the four albums they’ve released so far, pleasing old and new fans, and giving Nick the chance to show how the songs once sung by Mikael Åkerfeldt and Peter Tägtgren weren’t lessened at all by his vocal tone and skills. “Eaten” and “Cry My Name” were the encore of the probably most brutal gig of Vagos 2015.

www.facebook.com/bloodbathband

It’s not easy for an underground band to wrap up a festival with so many international famous names. Many people left after Bloodbath, but many also stayed to see national heavy metal veterans Ironsword. Along with Filii Nigrantium Infernalium the previous night, they were also special guests in this festival, and once more I believe it was anniversary related – the band celebrated their 20th this year. But also have a new album out, “None But The Brave”, released last May, which their setlist was pretty focused on. In the end of its title-track, singer/guitarist Tann said something about how we were entitled to a special version of this new song, but since I’m not that familiar with their work, I don’t know if it was really some “special version” or if someone messed up and they had to improvise. Whatever the case, they did good and some vigorous fans screamed IRONSWORD, IRONSWORD!”. “Burning Metal” wasn’t just the last song but also the description of the show.

www.facebook.com/IronswordOfficial

And it was over. Three days that seemed to last forever and, at the same time, so quickly went by. That’s how good memories feel like, I suppose. Well, let the preparations for Vagos 2016 begin!

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Note: we weren’t granted access to the photopit, so no gallery this year.

Vagos Open Air 2015 – 2nd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 13th August 2015 by Pieni

Filii Nigrantium Infernalium, Venom, Black Label Society, Triptykon, Destruction, Mutant Squad, W.A.K.O.
Quinta do Ega, vagos (PT)
8th August 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists

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Black Label Society

The second day of Vagos Open Air was the heaviest in sound and numbers. Saturdays are always prone to attract more people, but I’m pretty sure it was the names on the bill that gathered so many metalheads

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W.A.K.O.

If memory serves me well, I hadn’t seen W.A.K.O. in four years. Not that they’ve inactive all that time, no. I just haven’t had the chance to see them lately. And damn, what I’ve been missing! Sure, the aforementioned gig I attended at Hard Club was a killer (no pun intended – did I mention that W.A.K.O. stands for We Are Killing Ourselves?), but this one at Vagos was simply devastating! As well as the mosh circles the crowd put up restlessly, from the opener “Abyss” to the closing “The Shadows Collapse Within”. Any thumbs-down? Sure – too short. Such a show deserved to last longer.

www.facebook.com/Extispicium

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Mutant Squad

Next, from country next door, came Mutant Squad. Straight-forward thrash metal always works when played live, whether you’re familiar with the band or not (which I think was the case of many in the crowd). The Spanish continued fuelling the mosh frenzy that W.A.K.O. had started with songs from their debut full-length “Titanomakhia”, and also one (“Remember”) from the 2012 EP “Social Misfits”. Using a few Portuguese curse words also helped them winning over the crowd, as well as praising the W.A.K.O. gig and their guitarist Pedro Mendes. The set ended with “Mutants Will Rise”, but before leaving the stage, singer/guitarist Pla announced they’d return to Portugal in November, for the Mosher clothing fest, and the people seemed happy about it.

www.facebook.com/mutantsquadband

The thrashing went on in a much more old-school vein. Both previous bands had a pretty packed crowd waiting for them, but Destruction had an army! The action on and off stage lived up to the band’s name. This is another band that hasn’t released anything new in three years (the Saxon cover on “The Big Teutonic 4” split can’t obviously count) but whose presence in this or any other festival is more than justified, as their performances are what live shows are all about. Even when the sound goes down… Not sure what happened, but at some point closer to the end, only the drums were audible. As the band played on, I believe they still heard what they were doing on stage, but we didn’t. One thing I noticed and appreciated was that no one booed – they did cry out in disappointment, but not in angry accusation, understanding that this kind of thing happens. Eventually the sound came back, its volume still on a rollercoaster ride, but everything was back to normal when Schmier announced the last song “Bestial invasion”.

www.facebook.com/destruction

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Triptykon

Triptykon stirred another kind of turmoil – an emotional one. Although the crowdsurfers kept the security guys busy during the black metal parts that spice the doom nature of the band. Thomas Gabriel Fischer was particularly talkative and clearly happy to be there – the “it’s so good to be back” that we so often hear seemed honest. They played an excellent gloomy show that I just wished was a bit more Triptykon and less Celtic Frost. They have two great full-length albums, why dwell in past bands? One song would be enough, for old times sake – that I understand. But three? Plus a Hellhammer cover (“Messiah”) that Celtic Frost already used to cover – as Hellhammer was the band Thomas and Martin Ain were in before Celtic Frost. Even the “are you morbid?” expression was used that night. A flawless and enthralling performance, yes, but a little too much “double identity” for my personal taste.

www.facebook.com/triptykonofficial

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Black Label Society

Even though not closing the bill, Black Label Society were the headliners – the number of people waiting for Zakk Wylde (with no disrespect for the other musicians, just stating the truth) left no doubt about that. Not even the 20-minute delay (that wasn’t apologized for or explained) seemed to bother the fans. But then again, those same fans go bananas with Wylde’s 20-minute solos, so we clearly don’t agree on several things.
The show was impeccable, no one can say otherwise. There’s a reason why Wylde is considered such a guitar god and that reason was palpable that night. But like everything in life, when you’re not drinking your cup of tea… I’ve heard more than one person complaining about the extensive guitar work, but come on, that’s what Wylde does! That’s what his fans where there to see and that’s what they got. Now the “lesser fans”… well, not even guitar gods can please everyone. He didn’t talk much, except when introducing the band – he talked A LOT then, although I didn’t understand half of it, given that Southern accent of his (that I’m still trying to figure out where he got it from, as the guy was born and raised in New Jersey…). I did understand clearly the “We love you Dimebag!” at the end of “In This River”.

www.facebook.com/blacklabelsociety

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Venom

Only now, as writing this, did I realize that the oldest band of the bill was the only with material released in 2015. Funny. Not that it mattered that much, as Venom didn’t focus on that new album, “From The Very Depths”. If I’m correct, only “Rise” and “Long Haired Punks” were played. But we’re talking about a band that was founded 36 years ago and has released killer black/speed hits ever since – there’s no such thing as promoting an album nowadays, only mingling a couple of new tracks with a roll of classics.
Despite the late hour, and after so many mosh-friendly bands, the circle pits were back in full, matching the violence that the trio “out of Hell” unleashed.

www.facebook.com/pages/Venom-Band/197558207048784

There was still one more band left, “special guests” Filii Nigrantium Infernalium, who, as the name indicates, play black metal. For over two decades now. This year their debut EP “A Era do Abutre” (The Vulture’s Era) turned 20 years and they played a few shows to celebrate it. I believe they were invited to Vagos precisely for that anniversary. Still, black metal isn’t for everybody and the crowd wasn’t as big when they got on stage. And then there were those who wished they had left, as a desperate voice started screaming “go away, please!” at some point. Everybody – band included – laughed, but as the following song was “Morte Geométrica” (geometric death), singer/guitarist Belathauzer introduced it by saying that death wasn’t a bad thing, some people deserved death. Sounded to me like it was aimed at someone specific… The gig ended with “Labirito” (labyrinth), dedicated to “all our families”.

www.facebook.com/FiliiNigrantiumInfernalium

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Note: we weren’t granted access to the photopit, so no gallery this year.

Thanks to Hugo Delgado for the memory card.

Vagos Open Air 2015 – 1st day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 12th August 2015 by Pieni

Within Temptation, Amorphis, Heaven Shall Burn, Vildhjarta, Moonshade, Scar For Life
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
7th August 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists

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Within Temptation

There’s a handful of great metal festivals in Portugal, but Vagos Open Air is the one that focus on international acts (without disregarding the local ones) and reaches out to a broader, not always so-extreme audience. This year we even had Within Temptation headlining the first day, while Bloodbath had the honor of doing so on the third. And if you’ve read some of my previous articles, you might know how one of my favorite quotes is “diversity is the spice of life”.

It was precisely due to Within Temptation’s busy schedule that the festival was anticipated one hour. I don’t know why they simply didn’t swap slots with Amorphis – it’s not like they’d lose the headliner status – but in the end I was glad they didn’t. Vagos is a somewhat windy town, but this year one could drop the “somewhat” out of the sentence. And add cold. So that extra hour in the sun was more than welcome, for a change.

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Moonshade

Not sure if Scar For Life share my opinion though. But then again, despite their 7-year-old career and 4-album discography, they’re not exactly the most popular alternative/groovy metal band around here – even if they’d got on stage at 5 p.m., as originally announced, I doubt there would be a lot more people attending their show. And then they had some sound problems, which may have (or may have not…) led singer Rob Mancini to go often out of tune, and the crowd eventually got even scarcer. It’s a shame, really.

www.facebook.com/scarforlife

Moonshade, on the other hand, proved worthy of V.O.A.’s stage. “A small band”, as singer Ricardo Pereira described themselves, when thanking the crowd for coming and seeing them, but with a good live posture and performance. I was at the release party of their latest EP (see here), so I knew what to expect; still, it was a positive surprise to see how well it worked in a less intimate atmosphere and before such a more numerous audience.

www.facebook.com/moonshadeofficial

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Vildhjarta

I was a little puzzled by Vildhjarta’s presence in this festival. A Meshuggah-like band who hasn’t released anything new in two years nor have near-future plans except for a vinyl edition of their only full-length “Måsstaden”. An experimental metal band who doesn’t even appear to play live that much, Brutal Assault in Czech Republic and Vagos itself apparently being the only dates this year. I guess that “little puzzled” is an understatement after all. But you know what? The crowd loved them! What I and many were skeptical about ended up in a big party, not only for the exquisite music but for the amusing guys who performed it. One of them – not sure if Vilhelm or Mynd – asking if we’d like some tea was kind of priceless.

www.facebook.com/vildhjartaofficial

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Heaven Shall Burn

But it was Heaven Shall Burn who swept Vagos off its feet. Literally. The moshers and crowdsurfers had a field day. And the screamers too, as I believe this was the show with the loudest chorus sing-alongs in songs such as “Forlorn Skies”, the Edge Of Sanity cover of “Black Tears” or “Like Gods Among Mortals”. 15 years had passed since the last (and actually first) time the Germans had played in Portugal but as soon as singer Marcus Bischoff announced “Voice Of The Voiceless”, the fans knew exactly what to do and aligned for a wall of death, with no need for further instructions.  Still regarding that first show, it seemed that no one had been there. Well, almost no one. One hand was raised when Marcus asked about it, joking then with the guy in response “oh yeah, you’re old enough”. But they also had the “youngest metal fan”, a 6-year-old kid who they called on stage close to the end. The kid was a bit confused, but headbanged his long hair here and there, marking the cutest moment of the whole festival.

www.facebook.com/officialheavenshallburn

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Amorphis

Amorphis‘ show was as brilliant as HSB’s, but on another kind of level – whereas the Germans exceled in adrenaline, the Finns did it in intensity. The main reason is, obviously, the nature of each band, but the fact that Amorphis were celebrating 20 years of the legendary “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” added an unmatched emotional weight. Performed in its entirety in such a flawless, heartfelt way, you even forgot that Tomi Joutsen wasn’t the singer who recorded the album. The setlist was completed by a couple of songs from the very first “The Karelian Isthmus” (“Signs From The North Side” and “Vulgar Necrolatry”) and the most classic tracks from “Elegy”.

www.facebook.com/amorphis

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Within Temptation

Then Within Temptation soothed the moods down. Well, the “most metal” fans’ moods that is. The ones who liked the band were quite hyped by the pop-ish vibrancy of the Dutch. As headliners, they had enough time to promote their latest album, “Hydra”, and still visit all the others (except for the debut “Enter”, which I doubt they’ll ever play again, given the so much different style). One of the old ones was “Memories”, that Sharon den Adel said they hadn’t played in a long while and liked to dedicate to us. Among the newest we could hear “Paradise (What About Us?)”, “Dangerous” and “Covered By Roses”, and the Lana Del Rey cover of “Summertime Sadness”. No, not a metal gig, but that proverbial expression “they rocked!” was brought to life. Plus, Sharon is still able to jump around and sing at the same time without missing a note, not to mention the interaction she engages on with the crowd. So give it up, haters. It was a good show, that ended with the mandatory “Ice Queen”.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Note: we weren’t granted access to the photopit, so no gallery this year.

Sonic Syndicate: new video and official new line-up

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on 8th August 2015 by Pieni

Yesterday, Sonic Syndicate launched a new video for “Diabolical Work Of Art”, a song that, and quoting the band:

“People pretend to be something they’re not. That’s what makes the world go ’round. I’m willing to bet every single person that reads this has had a person come into their lives who was either drop-dead beautiful, someone they looked up to, or someone that promised the world. Only to be revealed as an ugly deceiving cunt.
The lyrics tackle this head-on. I know who I’m talking about, but to you it could be a relationship, a job, a best friend or whatever. The point being, I would rather people just wore their real skin rather than hiding behind a mask.
However, with the video we wanted to show this in an abstract way. I’ve seen too many videos with cheesy effects and violence. We wanted to show pristine, sheer beauty. How immaculate on the outside doesn’t mean pure on the inside. How society and people, however well hidden, have a darkness inside that sooner or later finds its way out.”

 photo sosyz05_zpsecnwsvan.jpgIt also served to introduce Michel “Miche” Bäzén (bass player at Degradead) as a permanent member of the band. Miche has been on tour with Sonic Syndicate for over a year now, replacing founding member Karin Axelsson, so most fans already saw him as a SoSy member and this doesn’t come as a big surprise (hence the “official” on the title of this article). Karin explains and asks of the fans the following:

“Dear friends,

As most of you know by now I haven’t been touring with my boys in SONIC for a while. SONIC SYNDICATE has been my family and my life for many years and I’ve met so many great people and experienced things I never thought I would.
I’ve had the time of my life, so many of my dreams have come true in so many ways but sometimes you have to make hard choices in life and it’s time for me to move on because I am in a place where I need to focus on my family and private life, I hope you understand my decision.
I would like to thank all you guys who came out to our shows, for your endless love and support, it has meant so much to me and the guys that we could never express in words how we feel.
 photo 0812_zpsnesmizc4.jpgBefore I officially go and start my new life I’d like to ask you one more thing. Please take care of the boys, my brothers, because I love them with all of my heart and although we’ll keep contact and see each other from time to time I will truly miss them and the music we’ve made together.
So, with everything above said and done, I would like to officially introduce Michel to the SONIC SYNDICATE family. What I ask from you guys is to please open your hearts for this great guy who’s an awesome bass player and give him a warm welcome.

With all my love”
– Karin”

Here’s the first promotional photo of the new line-up, taken by Daniel Djuric:
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www.facebook.com/SonicSyndicateBand

Dirty Judas – Every Bullet Is Another Nail

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 7th August 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Dirty Judas
Every Bullet Is Another Nail
Self-released July 03rd 2015
Metal

Dirty Judas - Every Bullet Is Another Nail

I keep a very close eye on the local underground scene when it comes to metal. Dirty Judas, from Dundee, have been floating around the Scottish metalsphere for a while now, but it’s only with the release of debut full-length, Every Bullet Is Another Nail, that we start to see their potential. There’s a fire in the eyes in this release, and a will to deliver the vitriol with strokes made against the flow.

Influences are immediately on display here that may seem obvious to some, and not so much to others. The album as a whole sways from left to right, light to dark, and it’s most certainly an enjoyable ride. Epic, goth-washed choruses give way to chuntering hooks, and brutal growls are complimented by grungy harmonies. Even the spoken word sections make the Scottish accent sound cool; no easy task, it has to be said.

The character continues to shift throughout, from an enthusiastic bounce to a cold morbidity, not unlike Paradise Lost caught some audio-venereal groove syndrome from Pissing Razors or Konkhra. Yup, definitely Paradise Lost, and those moments truly send an ethereal shiver up the spine, before diving into, dare I say it, proto-nu-metal waters. Think really early Faith No More, beefed up to almost death metal levels, and maybe the first Korn album, re-written by Pepper Keenan.

Flipping the bird to genre boundaries, Dirty Judas have managed to walk the tightrope between variety and identity like a jaguar on crank; intense, and perfectly balanced between the two. Incredibly well rounded, and with a uniqueness which should inspire jealousy, Every Bullet… is a fantastic starting point for a band showing real personality. The chances are pretty much against you having heard them before now, but all serious metal fans should put giving this a spin on their to-be-achieved list.

4/5

Paul Macmillan

My Dying Bride – Feel The Misery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on 6th August 2015 by izaforestspirit

My Dying Bride
Feel the Misery
Released 18th September 2015
Gothic Doom Metal
Released via Peaceville Records

‘Feel the Misery’ is the latest album from the British gothic doom metallers My Dying Bride. It is the follow up to ‘A Map of All Our Failures’ and ‘The Manuscript’ EP. This release marks the 25th anniversary since the formation of the band as well as the return of their original guitarist Calvin Robertshaw.

First up is the sombre, doom metal ballad ‘And My Father Left Forever‘ which highlights all the elements that make My Dying Bride such a great band. Everything from the heavy, death metal -style guitar riffs, Gothic metal keyboards, the beautiful and melancholic sound of the violin down to Aaron Stainthorpe’s haunting and wonderfully melodic vocals can be found in this song. Similar things can be said about the title track.

Yet as usual with this band, there’s always a balance between the harsh and the soft melodic sounds. For those who are craving to hear some of that harsh, death metal -style growling can rest assured that there is plenty of it to be found on this album, for example on the tracks ‘A Cold New Curse‘ and ‘Within A Sleeping Forest‘.

Another thing which makes this release fairly typical for My Dying Bride is the complex structure and the long duration of the songs. As with many of their albums, this one requires a lot of patience from the listener. Then again, if you’ve been listening to them for as long as I have, you’re probably accustomed to such lengthy ballads. Based on my experience, their music sounds best on a cold and stormy autumn night when you’re sat down with a good book and either a glass of red wine or a hot beverage of your choice.

In summary, ‘Feel the Misery’ is every bit as good as its predecessor ‘A Map of All Our Failures’. It’s a fantastic way for the band to celebrate 25 years of Gothic doom metal. I can safely say that this is easily one of my favourite releases of 2015. As a long-time fan of their music, I’d like to add that it’s one of the best My Dying Bride albums along with ‘The Dreadful Hours’ and ‘Songs of Darkness, Words of Light’.

4.5/5

Iza Raittila

Extra Every Time I Die show in London – but only for some

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

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If you think that playing 4 shows in a row in the same city is too much, think again – Every Time I Die managed to sell out almost immediately the previously announced 3 gigs in London, hence the need for a fourth. But tickets won’t be available for everybody:

“If you purchased a ‘season ticket’ to the London shows we’re doing in November you should check your email now. We will be doing a fourth show at Old Blue Last on Sat 21 Nov and in the email there will be a private code & link as you’ll be the only ones who can buy tickets. First come first served. Maximum 3 tickets per person. Superheaven will join us for this extra show. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Friday) at 9am. The other 3 London shows are now sold out with other UK cities selling fast”.

The full UK tour hits the following places, the London dates featuring different sets each night:

Nov 06 Southampton, Talking Heads
Nov 07 Plymouth Underground
Nov 08 Bristol The Fleece
Nov 09 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Nov 11 Manchester Sound Control
Nov 12 Glasgow Kings Tuts
Nov 13 Aberdeen Tunnels
Nov 14 Newcastle Riverside
Nov 15 Sheffield Corporation
Nov 17 Birmingham Asylum
Nov 18 London The Dome ETID TAKEOVER SOLD OUT
Nov 19 London Borderline ETID TAKEOVER SOLD OUT
Nov 20 London Underworld ETID TAKEOVER SOLD OUT
*Nov 21 London Old Blue Last ETID TAKEOVER* (SUPERHEAVEN ONLY)

“If you’ve ever been to an Every Time I Die show in the UK, you’ll understand why we would want to spend almost an entire month playing shows there. Intimate venues, cold pints, good mates. Don’t miss out. These gigs will be ledge”, says frontman Keith Buckley. 

http://everytimeidie.net/
http://epitaph.com/
https://www.facebook.com/everytimeidie

New Queensrÿche album in October

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

Queensrÿche have revealed the details of their upcoming studio album. Scheduled to be released on October 2nd, via Century Media Records, and produced by Zeuss, “Condition Hüman” will feature the following 12 tracks:

1. Arrow of Time
2. Guardian
3. Hellfire
4. Toxic Remedy
5. Selfish Lives
6. Eye9
7. Bulletproof
8. Hourglass
9. Just Us
10. All There Was
11. The Aftermath
12. Condition Hüman

“The artwork depicts a beautiful innocence surrounded by the darkness of a jaded unpredictable world”, says singer Todd La Torre:

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The opening track, “Arrow Of Time”, is available for streaming on the label’s Soundcloud account here.

www.facebook.com/QueensrycheOfficial

New chapter for Equaleft

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 4th August 2015 by Pieni
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the last rehearsal with Veggy

Portuguese groove metal act Equaleft has parted ways with Nuno “Veggy” Cramês, as the guitarist and founding member is about to move to Brazil. Last night was his last rehearsal with the band, which ended up in a private concert/surprise farewell party with some of Equaleft’s friends and fans. Afterwards, Veggy posted on Facebook:

“Tonight was my last rehearsal with Equaleft. Soon I’ll be moving to the other side of the Atlantic, but I’ll always be connected to Inglês (singer), Mark (drummer), Malone (guitarist) & Mike (bassist), especially by the strong friendship we’ve built over the years. Together with these four people, and recently one more – André Matos (producer) – I’ve lived my best moments as a musician and accomplished many teenage dreams. In the future, I’ll keep track of the band and help them achieve all their goals. Thank you all!”

Equaleft are currently writing material for the successor of “Adapt & Survive” (read review here) as a 4-piece, but will start looking for a new 8-string guitarist soon.

www.facebook.com/equaleft

Kataklysm – Of Ghosts And Gods

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 3rd August 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Kataklysm
Of Ghosts And Gods
Released July 31st 2015
Melodic Death Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast Records

Kataklysm - Of Ghosts And Gods

Does more or less exactly what you’d expect from the label on the tin, this one; melodic death metal, via In Flames/Arch Enemy territory. Opener, Breaching The Asylum, is particularly thick with the incense of Swedish melodeath. The initial effect is solid, but leaves me feeling somewhat un-gripped.

Things do improve a bit throughout. The pace certainly picks up, and the second half of the album kicks the pants off the first. Carrying Crosses and Shattered feature glimmers of greatness in the axe-work and vocals, but sadly smudge back into tepid watercolour. It’s a bit of a shame, because some of their recent material has been quite promising. 2013’s Waiting For The End To Come was really quite brutal, and Heaven’s Venom in 2010 was brimming with intelligent song-writing snatches. I personally feel they would have benefited from concentrating on progressing with music of this level rather than creating a concept video for each song on the album.

Soul Destroyer stands out by far as the best track within. It’s got smart riffs that differentiate it from the rest of the songs, vocals with rhythmic intelligence, bass heavy outro with swagger; basically everything that’s missing elsewhere. The album as a whole also ends on a high note in The World Is A Dying Insect.

While professionally played, I found this release somewhat uninspiring and a little predictable, which, although not cardinal sins, are amplified by such similar, prevalent artists overcoming those obstacles. This could be just the ticket for life-long devotees of the band, but I personally think they could have achieved more lion-and-shark-surf-and-turf, rather than the standard pub fare offered up herein. Not for me, but with about half a million Facebook likes, I reckon I’m in the minority here.

2.5/5

Paul Macmillan

Fear Factory – Genexus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 3rd August 2015 by Pieni

Fear Factory
“Genexus”
Industrial metal
Release: 7th August 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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Whatever breaks they may take, whatever line-up they may feature, you know that any Fear Factory release is an industrial metal one; with a more extreme approach or more mainstream-oriented, but industrial metal nevertheless. So you’re left with just one obvious question: is it good? This time it’s great!

In the year that “Demanufacture” celebrates 20 years, Fear Factory pay tribute to it in the form of “Autonomous Combat System”, the opening track of this “Genexus”. The violent drumming and cranking riffing embedded with such regal electronics sound like a version 2.0 of something that could have been featured in that breakthrough album of theirs. I’m still wondering how this didn’t make it to single.

The synths in “Anodized” are more vibrant and the chorus is more melodic, but it doesn’t make this track, as a whole, less heavy than its predecessor.

On a second thought, when listening to “Dielectric”, I understand why this was the third single and not “Autonomous Combat System” – its eager intro and richer structure are somewhat more compelling.

“Soul Hacker” – another single – has that nu metal vibe that earned them new fans during the “Digimortal” era. I’m already picturing a massive jumping crowd when played live.

“Protomech” is probably my personal favorite, having a killer rhythm combined with classy synths – the proverbial neon sign that glows “FEAR FACTORY!” in your mind. The same can be said of the title-track, hence the “probably” in my previous sentence – although with a distinctive identity, the adjectives to describe both songs are similar and are exactly what I like the most about the band’s sound, becoming hard to say which one I prefer. But that’s a good thing, as it is proof of the creative quality of the album.

“Church Of Execution” is yet another example of the more alternative vein of the band. Less sharp than “Soul Hacker”, but a lot groovier and catchier. Still, it’s “Regenerate” that represents the most melodic track. Of the regular aggressive songs, that is – the album finishes with a beautiful electronic ballad, “Expiration Date”. But before that there’s still room for one more straightforward electrical discharge that goes by the epic name of “Battle For Utopia”.

In sum, “Genexus” gathers ten tracks that deliver a little bit of everything that the band’s done so far. And therefore I believe it will please both old-school and modern fans, as the general outcome stands in-between the aforementioned extreme and mainstream styles.

4,5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Sonata Arctica, Children of Bodom and Nightwish live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , on 1st August 2015 by izaforestspirit

Sonata Arctica, Children of Bodom, Nightwish
Ratina Stadium, Tampere, Finland
31st July 2015

A cloudy Friday night in central Tampere. The weather might have not been great but there was a sizable crowd of metalheads gathered at the local stadium. Why, you might ask? Three of the country’s biggest metal bands have come here to play a show.

Sonata Arctica were almost half way through their set by the time I arrived at the venue. I like some of their old albums but I’ve never been a massive fan. I’ve also seen them live many times before so I knew what to expect from their show. They play energetic power metal with very fast keyboards and squeaky vocals. I’m not familiar with their recent albums but I’m glad that they played ‘Don’t Say A Word’ towards the end because that is one of the very few songs that I recognized. 3/5

I’ve been a Children of Bodom fan since my early teens and I was really looking forward to see them live again. The last time that I saw them was at Sauna Open Air back in 2013. This time they played more songs from their newer albums which was a bit of shame because I actually prefer the old songs. Luckily their set also featured some of my favourites including ‘Lake Bodom’, ‘Hate Me’, ‘Needled 24/7’ and ‘In Your Face’. 4/5

The last time that I saw the headlining act, Nightwish, was in 2013 just before they announced that Floor Jansen was going to be their full-time singer. I don’t own a copy of their latest album, but I’ve heard some of the songs on the radio such as the single ‘Élan’. I actually danced along to the tune when I heard it. They put on an elaborate performance complete with large backdrop artwork display, pyrotechnics and fireworks. I was really happy to hear some of the old classics, such as ‘Stargazers’, ‘Sleeping Sun’ and my personal favourite ‘She Is My Sin’. These were songs which I never thought that I would get to hear live since their previous singer Anette couldn’t handle the operatic vocals. Luckily her replacement, Floor Jansen is a much more skilled vocalist and a better performer. Not only could she sing all the classic Nightwish songs but also their mid-career stuff such as ‘Amaranth’ (originally written with Anette on vocals) sounded good. All the fancy stage props really helped to build up to the grand finale, the unforgettable opus that is ‘The Greatest Show on Earth. 5/5

Overall, it’s been a memorable evening. Sonata Arctica’s show was pretty much what I expected it to be. Children of Bodom put on a good show but they were better the previous time that I saw them. Nightwish exceeded my expectations with a fantastic show that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Iza Raittila