Archive for September, 2015

Ureas – The Black Heart Album

Posted in CD, Experimental, Metal 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 CD, Industrial 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 Metal, News 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 CD, Metal, Rock 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 CD, Metal 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