Archive for September, 2015

Interview with Through The Cracks

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 30th September 2015 by Pieni

Just a little more than a year has passed but a lot has changed in Through The Cracks since I’ve last talked to founder Jimmy Bergman about it (read here); a new interview was in order. I amended that on the day the band played their first show (report here), catching up with them before soundcheck. It was a sunny afternoon in Gothenburg, so we had our interview outside, near the canal that runs close-by Sticky Fingers.

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Renata: hello boys and girl. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me on such an important day for you. When I interviewed Jimmy last year, Through The Cracks had a whole different line-up, so I’d like to start there. Sara, how did you join the band?

Sara Lindberg: Well, I knew Niklas (Aggemyr, bass) from before. He recorded me with my old glam rock band, Lazy Lizard, when I was just 16 years old. Then on Facebook he wrote me a couple of times “oh, come down and try out for my band”. But I was skeptic at first. I didn’t like what they were doing at the time, the song that he sent me, so I was always coming up with excuses like “I don’t know if I have the time”(laughs) But I ended up going to the studio and it was great fun. Especially because they said I could make changes, write new lyrics and new melodies, so it turned out a really good match.

Renata: I guess that’s an automatic “no” to my question regarding hearing the first two singles (“Breathless” and “Marionette”) with your voice…

Sara: Exactly! We’re not playing those songs!

Renata: I also read on Jimmy’s blog that you wanted to go heavier. How heavier?

Jimmy Bergman: Death metal! (everybody laughs)

Sara: A little bit more… progressive. I really like Alter Bridge because I love the way Myles Kennedy sings, with a lot of heart, a lot of soul… it’s beautiful! And the riffs and the music are heavy and still groovy… I think they’re more advanced than some of the other bands. And that’s the direction I want us to go. I want our music to touch people.

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Renata: Niklas, your turn: how did you go from producer to bass player? Do you even know how to play (laughs)?

Niklas: Yes, I promise! You’ll see it tonight. I’ve actually played bass for some 20 years now. I think it was when we recorded “Marionette” in my studio that Jimmy asked me to join the band. I thought “yeah, what the hell”.

Jimmy: But it was when he toured with The End Of Grace (Jimmy’s other band – Niklas replaed bass player Johan Hagman while the latter was on paternity leave) that I thought of it. That tour was his trial by fire. (grins)

Renata: And since we’re talking about TEoG… Andreas, how did you ended up replacing Daniel (Holmgren, currently studying in U.S.A.)? You actually like it or you’re just giving a helping hand to your band mate Jimmy?

Andreas Hagman: Well, to be honest… this sucks. (everybody laughs) No, it was Sara who came to me at a gig and said they needed a stand-in drummer. I don’t know if they were desperate or if she wanted me…

Sara, interrupting: No! I really thought Andreas was good.

Andreas: So she asked me if I wanted to join the band, I said I’d think about it… But then I heard the demos she sent me and I really liked it. I think this band is stepping up their game and can go far, so even just as a stand-in member, I’m stoked.

Renata: Well, you’re in the promo shots, so…

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Sara: Yeah, he’s part of the band! (Note: meanwhile, it seems that Daniel isn’t coming back and Andreas was made full-time member of Through The Cracks).

Renata: And how’s the songwriting process? Everybody’s involved or Jimmy’s the big boss?

Niklas: The thing is that Jimmy works like two hours a day… (everybody laughs) No, I’m joking, but he has more free time than the rest of us and so he sits down and works on the songs. But that’s cool ‘cause he has great ideas and records many great songs. Then he sends them to the rest of us and we let Sara take on the lyrics and the melodies, but we all add a little something to the process, we all have a saying in it.

Sara: Jimmy isn’t a dictator. (grins)

Renata: And how do you write the lyrics, Sara? You think of a theme you want to approach and you adapt it to the song, or it’s the song that inspires the lyrics?

Sara: The latter. When Jimmy sends his stuff over, I try to figure out some fitting lyrics to that melody, to that vibe. If it’s a sad song it’s got sad lyrics, if it’s an angry song, I’ll write about something that makes me mad…

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Jimmy (joking): She writes angry songs about meatballs. (everybody laughs)

Sara: I write songs about Jimmy being a dork. (grins) But my dad actually said to my mom that if “Mother” was about her, then “Hateful Things” had to be about him. (laughs) But he was joking.

Renata: And favorite songs? Which is your favorite?

Sara, Jimmy and Andreas: “Soulless Man”!

Niklas: Yeah, the new song is good, but my favorite is “Learn To Run”.

Sara: That’s because you sing on it!

Niklas: No, it’s not because of that! I really think that that song has something more than the others, much more spirit in it.

Sara: Well, one of the reasons I prefer “Soulless Man” it’s because it’s challenging to sing it. It’s not hard but it gives me the chance to show a side of my voice that I really like to use, that it’s fun to use.

Renata: And when will we be able to hear this new song?

Niklas: Well, you’re going to hear it tonight (grins). We’ll release it as a single this autumn. Then after the New Year we should return to the studio. We haven’t decided yet if it’s going to be an EP or a full album; we’ll see how many songs we come up with. But we’ll be working on it and we’ll be posting updates on Facebook, so stay tuned.

Renata: Jimmy, Through The Cracks is your baby. When you started it out a little over a year ago, did you think this is where you’d be today?

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Niklas: Did you think you’d have me in your band? (everybody laughs)

Jimmy: No, to be honest no. Through The Cracks started as a ballad project, with lots of string arrangements. But I like heavier songs and I think that now we have a great mix of both, so we’re going in the right direction. Our new song, for instance. “Soulless Man” is groovy, has more riffing and not so many back tracks. That’s what I want for Through The Cracks now.

Renata: And expectations for tonight?

Jimmy (quoting The End Of Grace): World domination! (everybody laughs)

Sara: That nobody fucks up. And that there will be a lot of people coming to see us. This is my first gig outside of Stockholm so I’m a bit nervous but also excited for having new faces seeing me. I hope they see us and think “look at them, what a cool band!”. I hope they’ll like us.

Renata: I’m sure they will. Thanks again for this little chat and see you in a couple of hours, on stage!

Through The Cracks: Thanks for your support!

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www.facebook.com/ThroughTheCracksBand

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Theatres des Vampires set to return to the UK after five years

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 29th September 2015 by Nico Davidson
Theatres Des Vampires – Italy’s leading metal band for all things vampyric – are set to return to the UK in April 2016 for their first UK show in five years. The vampire metal coven, fronted by Sonya Scarlett, have been announced to headline the Midnight Waltz at the Northern Symphony Festival, where they will join the likes of Alwaid, Suddenlash and Orpheum plus a whole range of bands that are still to be announced.
Formed in 1994 by former vocalist Lord Vampyr, Theatres Des Vampires have rose through the ranks of Europe’s metal scene and have gone onto release several studio albums with another currently in the works.
The line-up for Northern Symphony Festival is currently as follows:

Midnight Waltz Stage:

Theatres Des Vampires
Alwaid (Special guest appearance)
Orpheum
Suddenlash (UK festival debut)

Infernal Orchestra Stage:

TBA
Further bands are still to be announced.
A limited number of early bird tickets are still available for £10 from this location. Tickets will be priced at the full price of £15 at midnight 15th November or when all early bird tickets sell out.
Northern Symphony Festival is the UK’s only symphonic metal festival and will take place on Saturday 16th April 2016 at The Venue and The Riverside in Selby, North Yorkshire.
The event is 14+. Further details can be found at the festivals Facebook page.

Theatres des Vampires online:

http://facebook.com/TheatresDesVampires

Leaves’ Eyes – King of Kings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 29th September 2015 by Nico Davidson

Leaves’ Eyes
King of Kings
Symphonic Metal/Gothic Metal
Released: September 2015
via AFM Records

If you call yourself a symphonic metal fan and you’ve never come across Leaves’ Eyes, then clearly, you live under a rock. Formed by former Theatre of Tragedy vocalist Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes have become an established act known for their fusing of folky elements, crestfallen symphonies and straight up metal. Following their arrival at AFM Records, King of Kings became one of the most anticipated albums within the symphonic metal genre this year.

Sweven opens up the track with an almost mournful composition that clearly shows traditional elements of Norse music. The soaring vocals of frontwoman Liv add to the mourning emotion of the song. The title track, King of Kings, marches with a regal use of orchestral compositions, that bolster the ranks of the song while the differing use of vocals – choir, Alexander’s and Liv’s – make the song ever more enchanting.

Halvdan the Black lunges forward with a tragic sounding choir and the rune-binding voice of Liv. Alexander’s bestial voice adds a fierce, war-like edge to the song, joining the antagonistic riffs and narrative symphonies. The Waking Eye dances ever so gently with its alluring concoction of different elements, each note more winsome than the last and the vocals sound so sirenic during this track.

Feast of the Year acts as a good-natured interval before the more Celtic-orientated waltz that is Vengeance Venom enters the ballroom. The Celtic-styled melodies bring an upbeat atmosphere to the album while the lyrics, poetically sang, appear to be of a darker nature. Sacred Vow has all the makings of a heroic piece: A powerful story involving the love of a fair maiden, a war between clans and awe-inspiring music. Everything just seems to fall together, as though this song was meant to be.

Leaves’ Eyes have been known to have guest appearances on their albums in the past, so it comes as no surprise that Edge of Steel features none other than Epica vocalist Simone Simons. The track comes across as an anthem of war, one to be sung by Nordic warriors as they charge into fray armed only with an axe and shield. The orchestral aspects of the song sound quite lion-hearted, adding renewed vigor to the vocals and potency to the already snarling guitars. Simone’s saintly voice cuts through the track like a knife through butter – The duet between herself and Liv Kristine is better than imagined.

Haraldskvædi – which appears to be based on the Old Norse poem Hrafnsmal (Raven’s Song) – combines both English and Norwegian lyrics with eerie whispering, low-spirited vocals and traditional folk elements, with flows smoothly from the previous track and into the next song. Blazing Waters also features a special guest, Lindy-Fay Hella, who is best known for her work with Wardruna.  The song begins with the alluring sounds of traditional folk instrumentation and hypnotic vocal lines before the guitars and drums jump forward, roaring like Fenrir at Ragnarok. The contrast of three vocalists with the differing elements of folk and metal really shows the adaptability of Leaves’ Eyes both in talent and sound.

The album finishes with Swords In Rock, another song that makes a powerful use of Celtic-inspired medleys. The pace and feel of the song makes the listener want to jump up and start dancing some sort of Irish jig, while guzzling whiskey or something of the like from a horn. A fine way to finish the album.

With King of Kings, Leaves’ Eyes appear to have gone back to their earlier roots – not just with the Viking inspired lyrics but the folk influences as well though there are a lot of new aspects for the band found in the album as well. King of Kings is a testament to the continuing saga of Leaves’ Eyes as well as their talent and adaptability, clearly they’re a band that won’t stay within the borders of their safe zone when there are new musical lands to be discovered and conquered by these fine warriors.

5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Leaves’ Eyes online:

http://leaveseyes.de
http://facebook.com/leaveseyesofficial
http://twitter.com/leaves_eyes

Gloryhammer – Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 27th September 2015 by Mickelrath

Gloryhammer
Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards
Power Metal / Space Metal
Released: 25th September 2015
via Napalm Records

The Scottish-Swiss metallers Gloryhammer return with their follow up to 2013’s immensely successful Tales From The Kingdom of Fife with this newest offering Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards; yes that is the full title. It just wouldn’t be power metal without being over the top. I have to say though, this album is a massive improvement over the first. Gloryhammer have taken every good aspect of the first record and capitalised on it ten fold. The production is more grandiose and the plotline of the music is more outrageous.  I have been absolutely overwhelmed by this album and just as some fair advice, I would recommend going out and buying this album.

The album opens with some very ominous sounds as the narrator tells you of what you’re about to hear. What’s better than sword and sorcery fantasy stories? Sword and sorcery fantasy stories… in space! Right from the get go, I became intrigued with this concept and the band pull it off with style and flair, everything about this album from the sound design to the lyrics is created with the intention of sucking you into this fantasy world and keep you entertained. There is just so much good about this album that I truly do not know where I should begin.  The first single to come off this record ‘Rise of the Chaos Wizards’ is quite epic with a heavenly choir and a heavy riff, it almost feels like an Epica song. However, their music is engineered with a plotline, it’s near impossible to follow but it’s really cool just listening to something this complex and ridiculous at the same time.

Highlights of the album for me have to be songs like ‘Questlords of Inverness Ride to the Galactic Fortress!’ yes that is a stupidly long name for a song, yet it has a big sounding production that really gets you pumped.  Also songs like ‘Heroes (of Dundee)’ and ‘Goblin King of the Darkstorm Galaxy’ have the cheese factor turned up and are just genuinely fun songs. The only problem I have with this album is that sometimes it can get a bit repetitive, I mean I know they’re not going to write a hit with every song. However, some melodies and choruses get a tad too overplayed with in the short runtime of the songs and it can get a bit boring when that happens, such as in the song ‘Universe on Fire’. Nevertheless, the music is so over the top silly that you really can’t be mad at their music.

I can’t recommend this to everyone. However, if you’re like me and have a tolerance for silly gimmicky metal then this album shouldn’t give you too much trouble.  The band’s performance on this is completely stellar and they do everything in their power to make this album entertaining and it is. I was completely sold and I’ve been having a bunch of fun with this album. Go have a listen and enjoy the fun that is Gloryhammer.

4.5/5

Mick Birchall

Millarium – First Blood Running

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on 26th September 2015 by izaforestspirit

First Blood Running
Released 23rd October 2015
Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal
Released via Hänsel & Gretel, division of M.I.G-Music GmbH

‘First Blood Running’ is the debut album from the Hannover-based, German heavy metal band Millarium. The band was formed in 2009 and they also have an EP titled ‘Rise High’, which was released in 2012.

After a melodic and mostly guitar-driven instrumental intro, comes the title track offering a healthy dose of old school style thrash metal. The guitar riffs have that “bouncy”, bluesy feel to them whilst the vocals are catchy and easy to follow, but more melodic than the shouting style of classic thrash metal bands such as Slayer. Oh, and by melodic, I’m not referring to the story-telling vocal variety favoured by the likes of power metal bands including Iron Maiden but something more akin to the clear, heavy metal style of early Anthrax.

In many ways it’s the guitars more than the vocals that make the songs memorable. Take Insidious for example, it starts off with some downtuned and deceptively slow guitar melodies before gradually picking up the pace back to the playful, headbanging-friendly style featured in the previous tracks. Wasted is another track which has that playful feel to it, only this time the vocals have shifted towards the more aggressive, shouting style. Yet what caught my attention on this particular song was not the singing, but the enticing, mid-paced bass intro which offers you a chance to regain your balance again after several minutes of frequent headbanging; just so that you can resume the same stance by the time you heard the chorus. Then there’s their cover of Steppenwolf’s classic Born To Be Wild, which seems like a very fitting way to close what has been a very enjoyable album.

Overall, this album sounds like it was recorded to be played live at a festival. Millarium’s style has a certain amount of melody to it which sets them apart from the more aggressive and faster thrash metal bands, but that doesn’t make their songs any less catchy.

4/5

Iza Raittila

W.A.S.P. – Golgotha

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

W.A.S.P.
“Golgotha”
Hard Rock
Release: 2nd October 2015
Via Napalm Records

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Over the 33 years of W.A.S.P.’s existence, mastermind Blackie Lawless has managed to forge a very characteristic sound – although his unique voice is quite the trademark already. Sure, he often cheats, by recycling some riffs and licks (if you’re familiar with the band’s discography, you’ve surely experienced some déjà vu moments), which means that’s what’s built around those “recovered pieces” that ultimately determine how good the album is. And the general outcome of “Golgotha” is pretty satisfactory.

So when “Shotgun” and “Slaves Of The New World Order” bring back memories from past songs, there will always be a refreshing tweak reinventing them. I must highlight the guitar solo on “Slaves…”, as it’s one of the most spirited in “Golgotha”. In fact, the guitar work is still the band’s strongest asset, the sound of those strings so enthralling that you won’t even realize how long the songs are – never shorter than five minutes, and three of them pretty close to eight! One of the latter is the beautiful “Miss You”; it’s quite uncommon for a ballad to be so lengthy, but then again, Blackie came up with the idea for this one when he was composing the legendary “The Crimson Idol”, so it’s only natural that “Miss You” has some uniqueness to it…

The darker, seductive rhythm of “Eyes Of My Maker” also stands out, but still my personal favorite is “Last Runaway”, for its spunky rock vibe. It also features a top-notch guitar solo, and the bass line is pretty much alive, but it’s overall more straight-forward and catchier than the other tracks.

There have been a few low-points in W.A.S.P.’s career, no doubt about it, but right now, 33 years and 15 albums later, yeah, they still got it.

4 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Children of Bodom – I Worship Chaos

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on 23rd September 2015 by izaforestspirit

Children of Bodom
I Worship Chaos
Released 2nd October 2015
Melodic Death Metal / Power Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast Records

Here comes the Reaper with his Hate Crew…! The Finnish extreme metal band Children of Bodom are back with a new album, the follow up to ‘Halo of Blood’. This is the first album to feature just Alexi Laiho on guitars following the departure of their rhythm guitarist Roope Latvala back in May. Janne Wirman’s younger brother Antti Wirman will be playing guitar at their live shows until the end of the year. The band will then decide who replaces Roope Latvala on a permanent basis.

After a somewhat unexpected, eerie dark ambient intro I Hurt kicks off with the familiar sounds of Wirman’s ultra fast, yet melodic keyboards and Laiho’s equally fast guitar riffs. Mr. Laiho’s vocal style hasn’t changed since the previous album, he is still using the melodeath-esque semi-growls. Luckily the unimaginative filler phrases such as swear words and shouts of “yauuu!!” have been kept to a bare minimum. Morrigan is a catchy song in which the keyboards enter the spotlight offering a strong contrast to the harsh vocals. For those who prefer something a little heavier, more aggressive and more guitar-driven, then Horns will not disappoint. That track sounds like it was written with the mosh-pit in mind and personally I can’t wait to hear it live.

The title track acts as a showpiece, demonstrating all the things that make Children of Bodom so unique. It’s all here: the ultra-fast, power metal style keyboards, furious guitar riffs, the aggressive drum work and of course Laiho’s relentless vocals. Another track that caught my attention is the melodic All For Nothing, which sees a dramatic change to a slower and somewhat “softer” pace in both the instruments as well as Alexi Laiho’s vocals. It sounds like he is whispering at the start and shrieking rather than growling as the song progresses.

In summary I have really enjoyed this album. It’s rare for a band that has been around for many years to re-invent themselves and come up with something memorable. Just like its predecessor, ‘I Worship Chaos’ marks another step in the right direction. So, for those who hated their weaker albums such ‘Blooddrunk’ but now want to give the band another chance to redeem themselves, you should definitely check out ‘I Worship Chaos’.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Ureas – The Black Heart Album

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 19th September 2015 by izaforestspirit

Ureas
The Black Heart Album
Released 23rd October 2015
“Gothic” Power Metal/Progressive Metal/ Experimental Crossover
Released via Hänsel & Gretel Records, a division of M.I.G-Music Gmb

The Black Heart Album’ is the second release from the Danish Gothic power metal band Ureas. It is the follow-up to their debut album ‘The Naked Truth’. The band was founded back in 2006 by the husband and wife team Heidi and Per Johansson.

Ureas’s style is rather difficult to classify and the term “Gothic power metal” can be very misleading. These days it seems that any melodic metal band with a female singer will be labeled as “Gothic” or a Nightwish-clone even though it might not have anything to do with either the band or the genre. For those expecting another Nightwish-clone, prepare to be disappointed (or relieved). I can safely say that Ureas has very little in common with the world-renowned fantasy metal band. For one thing they have actually two singers; both Heidi and Per contribute an equal amount when it comes to the vocals. Whether they are singing on their own or as a duet, they both leave their mark on each song. Secondly, the power metal elements account for only a small fraction of a wide variety of styles present on this album.

The Gothic element comes from Heidi’s angelic and melodic voice, which contrasts the harsher and more aggressive vocals of her husband. Oh, by “melodic” and “angelic” I don’t mean operatic but rather soft and innocent sounds akin to early Within Temptation. Seven Deadly Sins is a good example of how well they work together to create a song that is memorable for all the right reasons. That particular track has a fairly simple construction: uplifting and playful, power metal -esque guitar riffs, symphonic keyboards, melodic female vocals and the brawny sounds of Mr. Johansson.

If only they stuck to the same style throughout the album I would have been happy. Alas but no. What comes next is the jaw-dropping abomination that is the title track, which sounds as though Jonathan Davis from Korn started rapping to groove metal playing in the background. Luckily Seal This Moment marks a return to the more familiar (and in all honesty better) Gothic power metal style. This particular song is more complex and progressive-sounding than ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ but it still captures that lovely symbiosis of the two vocal styles. Sadly my relief is short lived for it is not long until these guys start experimenting again. The subsequent tracks feature everything from lullabies, groove metal guitars, techno/electronica and Shut The Fuck Up – a cringe-worthy nu-metal track with highly unimaginative lyrics consisting of mostly swear words.

To conclude, I think that the best words to sum to my thoughts on this album would be “confusing” and “inconsistent”. At times they sound like a completely different band. Some songs are decent but on the whole it feels as though Ureas are not sure as to which style they want to focus on.

2/5

Iza Raittila

Mind Driller – Zirkus

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 19th September 2015 by Pieni

Mind Driller
“Zirkus”
Industrial rock
Release: 25th June 2015
Via Red Mutante

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A few months ago, Mind Driller released their sophomore album “Zirkus”. And even if they have stronger tracks here to name the album after, I find “Zirkus” a title more than appropriate – once you hear it, you’ll find yourself dealing with a circus of emotions. Three voices (two male and one female) singing in three languages (English, German and Spanish) is already an interesting feature, but the music itself is just as attractive. I know that “industrial” and “German” in the same sentence will automatically light a neon sign reading “Rammstein” in your head (and okay, I admit there are a few occasions when the sound is somewhat similar), but the general outcome of Mind Driller is more vibrant and melodic than the grinding beats of Rammstein. Like “Lüg Mich An” or “Ich Bin Anders”, with their rock-ish vibe and catchy choruses. And Mind Driller are also able to seduce you into a goth/dark wave realm, through songs such as “Deadworld” and “Memories”. Rich in details and variations, “Zirkus” is a thorough and intense industrial album, from which I highlight “M4R10N3T4”, the aforementioned “Memories”, “Escape” and “Together (Chapter II)”.

I’m not very familiar with the Spanish industrial scene, but after listening to “Zirkus”, I dare saying that Mind Driller – along with Killus – are among the top bands that country produces within this genre.

4,5 / 5

By Renata “Pieni” Lino

Clan Of Xymox w/ Tracy Vandal – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 18th September 2015 by Pieni

Clan Of Xymox, Tracy Vandal
Hard Club (Sala 2), Porto (PT)
13th September 2015
Promoted by Muzik Is My Oyster

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Last Sunday, Clan Of Xymox and Tracy Vandal offered some unforgettable moments to the couple of hundred goth lovers who headed out to Hard Club that night.

 photo tracy_zpseazbkprl.jpgTracy – who made sure of letting us know that Tracy Vandal was a band, not just her, while pointing towards Pedro and Miguel – proved that not only she has a wonderful voice but also a bright sense of humor; the contrast between that and the sad, dream-like sound of her music was simply brilliant. Complaining about the high-heels and the tight dress the boys made her wear (“they don’t let me dress as a boy, they don’t understand how hard it is”) and saying she was only goth when she sang were just some of the most amusing lines. Then when she got into the middle of the crowd, to slow-dance among the delighted crowd, and the dress didn’t allow her an easy climbing back on stage, she leaned towards a young boy, clearly seeking for help. But the kid was so startled he didn’t move. When the song was over and Tracy was able to put the mike down and use both hands to get up there, she addressed the boy saying that when a fat, Scottish old woman needs help and you’re not strong enough to do it, you call a stronger guy. Obviously, everybody laughed. After consulting with Miguel – which she did all the time, actually, claiming that the boys kept the setlist a secret from her –, she announced “Explosions” as the last song.

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www.facebook.com/onthishill

 photo _DSC0362_zpsdfjwahb5.jpgThen Clan Of Xymox was everything one could expect from a dark wave / gothic rock band – seductive, emotional, gloomy here, vibrant there… At 54, Ronny Moorings can be proud of being able to cause such an effect on people with both old and new songs, after almost 35 years with this band. Although, of course, the classics had more history, brought up more memories, and were naturally welcomed with more enthusiasm. “Louise”, “A Day”, “Jasmine & Rose”, “Muscoviet Mosquito”… and yet so many others were left out. But at the same time, every single song was worth it – covers of “Venus” (Shocking Blue) and “Heroes” (David Bowie) included – the latter closing the show. There’s not much more I can say, as magic can hardly be put into words.

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www.facebook.com/clan-of-xymox

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Ex Deo returns with a new album and tour plans

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 17th September 2015 by izaforestspirit

Brace yourselves… The Roman legions have returned and they are coming to a city near you.

The ancient Rome themed, symphonic death metal band Ex Deo are back after over a year of absence. The band been on a hiatus since February 2014 due to complications and time constraints between the project and  frontman Maurizio Iacono’s main band Kataklysm. Here is a statement from Iacono:

“Yes, it’s true. EX DEO is returning with a new album. But there’s a twist and we will keep it condential for now.”

Ex Deo has began working on a new album, the long awaited follow up to ‘Caligvla’ which was released back in 2012. They are also planning to tour again.

https://www.facebook.com/exdeo

Kadavar – Berlin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 15th September 2015 by Pieni

Kadavar
“Berlin”
Psychedelic/stoner rock
Release: 21st August 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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Kadavar don’t recreate the psychedelic rock of the seventies – they actually live it, in this moment. So whilst is necessary to mention that period of time in order to make you aware of what you’ll hear here, it’s not entirely accurate to bring it up, because these Germans play it naturally now, in the second decade of the year 2000.

“Berlin” is the band’s third album in four years, so at least for now, the creativity is flowing swiftly. And widely. Their song-writing isn’t static, going from raw rock’n’roll (“Lord Of The Sky”, “Filthy Illusion”, “Into The Night”) to light stoner (“Last Living Dinosaur”, “Stolen Dreams”), and then it tops in the sweet in-between where both sounds meet and complete each other with the best they have to offer – the riffs. It’s all about the riffs and solos, to be honest. It’s the band’s richest feature and “Berlin” is like a treasure chest of them; no point in naming songs as, one way or the other, all tracks comprise an intense and dazzling work. But I do have to mention “Reich Der Träume”, a cover of the late avant-garde artist Nico. Instead of making a psychedelic version of it, so it would sound more like them, this turned out close to a lullaby. But then again, Träume is German for dreams… What I mean is that it was a surprise to hear something like this performed by Kadavar, but a very pleasant one.

4/5

By Renata “Pieni” Lino

We Are The Catalyst w/ Through The Cracks – Gothenburg, Sweden

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

We Are The Catalyst, Through The Cracks
Klubb Defused, Gothenburg
4th September 2015
Promoted by Kriss Clark/Klubb Defused

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After rating their debut EP, “Hateful Things”, 5/5 (read here), I wanted to see if Through The Cracks could match it up live. They can.

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In support of We Are The Catalyst, Through The Cracks took the stage for the first time last weekend, at Klubb Defused/Sticky Fingers, in Gothenburg. It was precisely the title-track of their EP that kicked off the show, the first notes extended and revamped to form an intro. The crowd didn’t stand that close to the stage, which disappointed me a bit, but every time I glanced back, they were moving their bodies to the rhythm, and would cheer loudly at the end of every song – so the distance, in this case, wasn’t a bad sign after all. All members of the band were quite restless themselves, Jimmy (guitar) and Niklas (bass) even synch-jumping at some point, and Sara headbanging that red hair of hers, as beautiful as her voice, never going out of tune once, not even at the highest notes. After the songs from the aforementioned EP, they closed the gig with a thrilling new song, “Soulless Man”, that follows the heavier path Through The Cracks have announced wanting to ride on. “Soulless Man” should be released as a single this fall.

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www.facebook.com/ThroughTheCracksBand

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We Are The Catalyst were more popular among the crowd, as they’ve been around for about three years now and have a longer discography – an EP from 2013, “Panem et Circenses”, and a full-length from last year, “Monuments”. There was even a group of what seemed to be die-hard fans (and probably friends) of bass player Joni, as they kept screaming his name. But friendships apart, the band’s good, really good. They play alternative rock, just like their support act, and also have a girl – Cat – as lead singer; but guitarist Kenny take a big part in the singing, and the combination of both is quite powerful. Songs such as “Never Fall”, “Not Alone”, the catchy “Fight For Air” and the brilliant cover of Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” kept everybody in high spirits.

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www.facebook.com/WATCofficial

In a nutshell, I had a blast: witnessed the live premiere of a promising act, and got to know another dynamic rock band. My trips to Sweden always pay off.

Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

Insanity – Visions Of Apocalypse

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 12th September 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Insanity
Visions Of Apocalypse
Released 13th November 2015
Extreme thrash
Released via Unspeakable Axe records

Insanity - Visions Of Apocalypse

Well, insanity is as insanity does, and this bunch of original bay area movement death-thrashers do more than a little of that. Furious energy, blazing leads, and venomous vocals are slathered over liberally, and all truly does come across as a little unhinged. However, that isn’t the be all and end all of a great metal band for me. The disjointed must be hammered together in function as well as form, and this particular promethean project is somewhat of a lumbering monster rather than a slick reflection of god, lacking the smooth grace of today’s polished icons.

It’s surprising that this is only Insanity’s second album, and that their sound is still “of its age”. The inexorable march of time seems to have left them to the dusty labyrinths of history, still following the thread that will eventually lead them to the light of day and the modern metal world. That’s in no way a fatal flaw, and many will certainly see the stoically traditional approach that Insanity continue to employ as endearing and charming. Furthermore, it is to be admired that they have released this opus at all, as the intended re-recording was sadly put to rest with the passing of drummer Bud Mills in 2007.

Where ingenious ideas flare up, they are really noticeable, but they do seem a little unfinished, and the production is so cushioned that it takes the edge off the impact that these moments could have had. It’s possible that if this issue was pulled up to date that the entire thing would take on a new life. Visions… is definitely worth a listen or ten, but it kind of seems like the demo version of what it could have been, especially when compared to their 1994 full-length Death After Death. A nice collector’s piece for the heavy thrash connoisseur at any rate.

3.5/5

by Paul Macmillan

Five Finger Death Punch – Got Your Six

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 10th September 2015 by Pieni

Five Finger Death Punch
“Got Your Six”
Metal
Release: 4th September 2015
Via Prospect Park
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I confess I was taken aback by the level of… restraint in the new Five Finger Death Punch album, and not in a good way. But after listening to it a few times, “Got Your Six” has grown on me. The more melodic approach I, at first, saw as shallow is actually a refinement process.

The band’s respect for the USA army is well known so I was surprised that it took them so long to name an album after a military expression. And given its strong meaning, it’s also natural that “Got Your Six”, the opening track, is one of those songs that you immediately identify as Five Finger Death Punch’s when you first hear it. The punching beat (no pun intended), the fluid guitars… somewhat less aggressive than usual, but it still has the band’s trademark sound all over it.

“Jekyll And Hyde” is intense rather than brisk, the drums in the chorus almost like a hypnotic mantra and the “oyoyo!” a clear invitation to sing-along. It was on the next track, “Wash It All Away”, that the doubt started to bite, as I found the chorus way too much pop-ish. The main riff is quite melodic too, but in a way that will win you over immediately. The catchiness of the chorus eventually triumphs and you realize how good this song actually is, but it takes a while. Pretty much the same with “Question Everything”, where somberness and heaviness take turns as the leading role of the melody. Once again, not really an edgy song, but very well written. And the acoustic solo is stellar!

You’ll find plenty of edginess on “No Sudden Movement” though, so it’s not like they dismissed the fast lane completely. And the cranking guitars on both “Meet My Maker” and “Hell To Pay” bear that dear ol’ feisty spirit of 5FDP – not to mention “Boots And Blood”, an ode to the F word. It’s only “Ain’t My Last Dance” and the ballad “My Nemesis” that I’m still struggling with, both being somewhat too average for my taste (and the sudden change of pace in the chorus of the first doesn’t feel right to me). The other ballad, “Digging My Own Grave”, may not be exactly spectacular, but the seductiveness of its melody will linger in your ears.

“Got Your Six” is definitely Five Finger Death Punch’s more polished album so far and that’s why one might be skeptical. But give it a couple of tries and you’ll see how toning down the rage isn’t that bad after all.

4/5

By Renata “Pieni” Lino

Immortal start working on new album without Abbath

Posted in News with tags , on 8th September 2015 by izaforestspirit

It’s been a few months since their singer Abbath left the band. Now the Norwegian black metal duo Immortal, which currently consists of lyricist and guitarist  Harald Nævdal “Demonaz” and drummer  Reidar Horghagen Horgh”, have began working on their new album. The long-awaited follow-up to ‘All Shall Fall’ will be released via Nuclear Blast Records. It is still unknown as to who will replace Abbath as Immortal’s new vocalist. So far the album title hasn’t been announced and there is no information about the release date but the band revealed three new song titles: ‘Northern Chaos Gods’, ‘Called To Ice’ and ‘Blacker Of Worlds’.

Here is an official statement which the band gave to blabbermouth:

“IMMORTAL is much more than just a band, and much more than just a form of music. The departure of one member cannot change that, no matter. We will continue what we believe in, and the power of ‘Blashyrkh’ shall live on.”

Casainhos Fest 2015

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 7th September 2015 by Pieni

Mata-Ratos, Angelus Apatrida, Devil In Me, Simbiose, Hills Have Eyes, Reality Slap, Viralata, Tales For The Unspoken, Backflip, Dimension, Artigo 21, As They Come
S.C.Casainhos, Loures (PT)
29th August 2015
Promoter: Tiago Fresco

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Casainhos is a small village in the central region of Portugal (less than an hour to the north of Lisbon) that has been holding this commendable festival since 2012 – more than supporting/promoting the underground scene, it brings together its different subgenres, showing how metal, punk and hardcore are all part of a big, happy family. Like Poli (Dimension, Devil In Me) would say, a festival for open-minded people, people who won’t judge you, whether you’re wearing black or pink.

Stoner/Southern rockers As They Come opened this year’s edition, at 3:30 p.m. sharp. The punctuality at this fest gets another thumbs-up, by the way. And it proved that 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time for intermission between sets.

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Despite the unholy heat, As They Come fans were restless. After all, most of them had contributed to the band’s presence at the festival, by voting in a contest promoted by Rock On Música music shop – the same shop that got a bus and organized a roadtrip from São João da Madeira to Casainhos. Singer Sick Danny even dedicated the last song, “50 Miles”, to the shop owner Vitinha, who was then carried by the crowd. Soon afterwards, that crowd would invade the stage to party up there with As They Come. The fest could have hardly begun in a better way.

www.facebook.com/AsTheyCome


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Punk rockers Artigo 21 came next and they also had a fair share of fans singing along songs such as “Contradição” (contradiction) or “Espera Por Mim” (wait for me). The band is somewhat recent (2012) but the musicians aren’t exactly kids – at some point, when tuning a guitar took a little longer and someone in the audience complained, one of them said something like “take it easy, we’re old people”. On a more serious note, they announced that bassist Aureo had just become a father, to which everybody applauded. All the best to him and his family!

www.facebook.com/artigo21punk


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Another new band featuring veteran members is Dimension. Groovy hardcore “straight outta the nineties” – and for those who grew up in that decade, Poli dedicated the Sepultura cover “Slave New World”. But that was just a bonus, as their original songs, taken from the debut “Life Is A Mystery”, were enough to win the crowd over, proving the band’s worth both on stage and in the studio.

www.facebook.com/dimensionptband


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Backflip play a more straight-forward hardcore, with a female lead singer that kicks as much ass as any guy in the same position. Not sure when they were formed, but they’ve played in all editions of Casainhos so far, and their EP “New Ticket, New Journey” was released in 2011, so they’ve been around at least since then. The debut self-titled full-length saw the light of day in 2013 and features a few guests from other great underground bands, but that afternoon it was the crowd who helped Inês Oliveira (and guitarist Pedro Morais and bassist João Vidigal) sing along.

www.facebook.com/backfliphardcore

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Tales For The Unspoken, on the other hand, had Raça from Revolution Within sharing the stage with them and singing “Taken”, from the band’s second album “CO2”. Their mix of thrash and death and groove metal kept the moshers busy. “CO2” was released in April, so they focused the set on it, but revisited the debut “Alchemy” with “Say My Name” and the usual closing theme “N’Takuba Wena”.

www.facebook.com/talesfortheunspoken


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Back to punk rock, Viralata took the stage. A few problems with Ulisses’ guitar cable delayed the show for a few minutes, leading the singer to joke “what a grand start-up”. Their music is great, but it’s the lyrics – amusing as hell – that make them so popular, meaning that if you don’t speak Portuguese, you’ll miss the essence of Viralata. But if you were there, you’d certainly be carried away by the high spirits of both band and crowd. There was even a fan who climbed on stage and sang the lyrics to “Carocho” (if memory serves me well), totally unexpected but welcomed by the band. Huge fun!

www.facebook.com/viralatapunk


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Hardcore act Reality Slap latest album, “Necks & Ropes”, dates from 2012 but the band’s been working hard on its successor, hoping to release it this year still. Singer Johnny (or at least I think that’s his name – guys, please add who does what in the band in your Facebook page!) said something about not playing live in a while, but either “a while” is a little less than four months to him, or he meant playing in national territory, as the band toured through a few European countries last Spring. Whatever the case, this return to the stages was flawless, and when Johnny jumped to the middle of the crowd, pointing the mike to the fans, many were eager to take on the singer’s role.

www.facebook.com/realityslap


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Despite the rich bill of the festival, I confess it was only Hills Have Eyes that made me ride those 190 miles. So I won’t say their concert was the best, as more than presumptuous it would sound biased; but since I had people coming to me in the end – people who had never seen HHE before, despite their +10-year career – saying that now they understood why I liked that band so much, that I had good taste in music, it’s not the fangirl but the reporter that tells you WHAT A HELL OF A SHOW! This was probably the last gig before the release of their third album, “Antebellum”, scheduled for this month, but still only the first single “The Bringer Of Rain” was performed. The title-track of the previous album, “Strangers”, closed their set.

www.facebook.com/hillshaveeyes


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From the metalcore of Hills Have Eyes, the festival moved on to the crust/metal/punk of Simbiose. Formed in 1991, it was the band on the bill with the longest career, after headliners Mata-Ratos (the latter born in 1982). “Trapped” is the title of their latest, sixth album (released in March) and songs such as “Ignorância Colectiva” (collective ignorance), “Acabou A Crise, Começou A Miséria!” (the crisis is over, the affliction has started) or “Modo Regressivo” (regressive mode) are some of the new tunes – with the same old social and political critique – that were part of one of the most brutal sets of the fest.

www.facebook.com/SimbioseCrustBand


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Devil In Me are among the high-rank Portuguese hardcore bands and it will only take a couple of songs for you to understand why. Once again, Poli brought up the open-mindedness (and lack of it) subject, and staying true to one’s self – how he still loved hardcore now, as a grown man and family man, as much as when he was 15. Adding how much he missed his daughter that night, he invited all parents present to come up front and party. It seems that their new album will be out in October (“Soul Rebel”), but the title-track has been performed live several times now and everybody knew how to scream the chorus verse: “soul rebel… like a lion”.

www.facebook.com/devilinmeband


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Angelus Apatrida was the only non-Portuguese band of the fest, old school thrash metal from “country next door” Spain. But they’re part of the family, not just for the solid fan-base they’ve built here over the past years but also for recording a couple of albums here, at Ultrasound Studios, and becoming good friends with many local underground bands. One of the most notorious is Switchtense and singer Hugo Andrade even got on stage to sing “Fresh Pleasure” with Guillermo Izquierdo. Whether they were songs from the new album “Hidden Evolution” or oldies like “Vomitive” or “Give ‘Em War”, the circle pits were as restless as the thrash that was fueling them.

www.facebook.com/angelusapatrida


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A lot of people left after Angelus Apatrida – not exactly because Mata-Ratos aren’t good at what they do (hardcore punk) but because they haven’t released anything new in eight years, and after eleven bands, half of them performing  while the sun burnt at an average of 86ºF, it became easy to dismiss the headliners. But there was still a good handful of survivors, ready to scream their lungs out at classics like “C.C.M.”, “A Minha Sogra É Um Boi” (my mother-in-law is a cow) or “Deus, Pátria E Família” (God, homeland and family).

www.facebook.com/infamesmr

According to the promoters, circa 800 people attended this fest. Don’t think any had a single reason to be disappointed. I hope this fest will continue to thrive and many more editions will follow. I also hope every country has someone committed to their underground scene like we have Tiago Fresco and his crew here (among others) in Portugal.

Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

Gallery on our Facebook page here.