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

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

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 29th September 2015 by Nico Solheim-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 CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 29th September 2015 by Nico Solheim-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 CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 27th September 2015 by mickbirchy

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 CD, Metal 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 CD, Metal, Rock 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 CD, Metal 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