Archive for October, 2015

Annihilator w/ support – Porto, Portugal

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

Annihilator, Harlott, Archer
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
9th October 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists
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“Suicide Society”, Annihilator’s 15th studio album, was released on September 15th 2015. And 15 days later, the Canadian band kicked off the In The Blood European Tour in Birmingham. Maybe 15 is their lucky number.

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This tour hit only one city in Portugal – which happened to be my hometown – so a fair share of people from across the country (and I believe from the north of Spain as well) headed towards Porto that evening. The roadtrip and the fact that it was a working day might explain why the venue was roughly half full when the first band Archer got on stage. Well, their loss – the Santa Cruz, CA, heavy metal band delivered one hell of a show. It was clear that the majority of the audience didn’t know them, but if you’re attending an Annihilator show, it means you like heavy and fast stuff, right? Archer don’t play thrash, but their metal is speedy and thick enough to please the most demanding thrashers. And among songs from both their releases (“Doom$day Profit$” and “Culling The Weak”), they also offered a cover of Megadeth (“Tornado Of Souls” – because they “come from a certain part of California and felt like they should play something related to that”), where singer Dylan Rosenberg sounded exactly like Dave Mustaine did when he recorded the song back in the day.

Bassist Dave Da Silva also addressed the audience, saying that playing in Portugal had a special meaning for him, given his last name (in case you don’t know, Silva is the most common surname around here). So they not only know how to play good metal live, they also know how to bond with the crowd – which are the two goals a band must achieve on stage. Mission accomplished here.

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Harlott were more popular – at least I noticed a handful of metalheads singing along. Their “down-under” accent made some of the words indistinguishable, but when it came down to music, the communication was flawless. Thrashing out since 2006, Harlott brought us some sharp, spirited songs from both their albums “Origin” and “Proliferation”, although they focused naturally on the latter, being their most recent release. There was also a funny song – in terms of lyric content; musically, it was straightforward, serious thrash – called “Hairy Dick” that I can’t find anywhere. So it’s either some unrecorded song, just meant for live shows, or it’s included in a certain “Pain Emblem” EP that was never officially released (thanks for the info, Metal Archives).

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The place had been filling in and it was pretty packed by the time Annihilator got on stage. Not a sold-out venue, but still a number beautiful enough.

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Even though I liked Dave Padden very much, I must confess I’ve never understood why Jeff Waters didn’t remain on the role as a singer. I can imagine it’s more comfortable to just play guitar when on stage, but it did work out those few times in the past. And it clearly still does. The opening track was precisely “King Of The Kill”, the title-track of the first album where Waters sang lead. 21 years later, Waters just nailed it. And closer to the end, after almost one hour and a half, he still had it in him to shout those high-pitched “Alison”, from the “Alison Hell” chorus – even if he begged us to sing it for him.

Now that the vocal part is cleared… well, I don’t think the instrumental part needs any kind of introduction regarding its quality. A few songs from the new album, including the title-track, a few all-time classics, some in-between hits, a drum solo… oh, and those “food songs”, that I personally find annoying but the majority of the crowd thrills with – “Chicken and Corn” and “Kraft Dinner”.

When introducing the band, Waters made sure to tell us where the guys came from – in case the little country flags on the drunkit didn’t give away how important that was for them. So him, drummer Mike Harshaw and guitarist Aaron Homma come from Canada, and then bassist Rich Hinks, who doesn’t come from Canada but from a “little island called United Kingdom”. The look on Hinks’ face when Waters said “little” was priceless. Because metal isn’t all about anger and demons – it can be funny too.

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Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino


Devil In Me – Soul Rebel

Posted in 'Core, CD with tags , , , , on 12th October 2015 by Pieni

Devil In Me
“Soul Rebel”
Release: 20th November 2015
Via Impericon Records

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Rumor has it that “Soul Rebel” is one of the most expected albums in the European hardcore scene. Whether that’s true or just publicist talk, this piece will certainly make big waves. And not just among the hardcore fans – “Soul Rebel” is more accurately described as a crossover album, so it has a lot of tweaks prone to thrill a fair share of the metal community as well. Like those thrash-oriented riffs in “Break The Chain” or “Blood & Rage”, for instance – the latter including a guitar solo just as juicy. But even the hardcore-anthem-material of the title-track, “Monster” or “Warriors” has something about it that will make people outside the hardcore sphere want to shout along those gang vocals, if not the choruses or the whole songs. That’s what makes Devil In Me stand out from the rest of their fellow bands – the ability of turning their rough and brisk sound into a catchy earworm.

And no matter how top-notch the work of a musician may be, special guests are always a treat. Poli’s voice is quite unique, raspy and full of the rebellious attitude that both lyrics and music of DIM bear, but getting Freddy Cricien from Madball to add some vocal power to the aforementioned “Warriors” is a sweet cherry on top of the icing. “Monster” is a DIM-meets-Biohazard blast of a thing, as singer Billy Graziadei, guitarist Bobby Hambel and bassist/singer Scott Roberts give their straightforward input in it. And a not-so-popular name but in no way less talented is Orlando Santana, from the also Portuguese Atlântida On Demand, who helps Poli with “SYG” (stand your ground).

That being said, this is then a thick, well-woven album, comprised of eleven defiant and spirited songs, aimed at open-minded but strong-willed people. Soul rebels. Like lions.

5 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Metal Allegiance – Metal Allegiance

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 9th October 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Metal Allegiance
“Metal Allegiance”
Released 18th September 2015
Released via Nuclear Blast Records

Metal Allegiance - Metal Allegiance

Ok, I hit play expecting this to be utterly terrible; a seismic collision of super-egos in a tumultuous ocean of abyssal phalli. I’m not saying that every successful metal musician ever is a complete tool, but I do think there’s only so much room for the necessary swagger which comes hand-in-hand with that line of work. This shouldn’t work! Yet, it kind of does…

This revolving door conglomerate of many of the biggest names in modern metal, is hardly ground-breaking, but there doesn’t appear to be any battle of wills in the forming up of the songs. I mean, there are some seriously big names involved here; Phil Anselmo, Randy Blythe, Troy Sanders, Mike Portnoy. It would only be natural to expect friction, but if there was any along the way, it has been lost on its path to the listener.

True, the recording in total doesn’t sound like one band. That would be incredibly hard to achieve with even just the different vocalists throughout. However, there is certainly a consistent energy, and whether the music itself rocks your boat or not, there’s no denying that the quality is right up there with any release offered up by the participating musicians in recent years.

In examining the music, it seems like each vocalist has brought a certain expectation to the band behind them in regards to the direction the music should take. For example, with Anselmo fronting, there is a definite echo of Down’s Over The Under, but when Chuck Billy takes the reigns, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Can’t Kill The Devil for a bonus Testament track, left out of Low at the last minute.

All in all, I’m actually pleasantly surprised by this release. For a fan of many of the artists involved, it’s fantastic to see and hear such a coherent piece of work. It’s not just more of the same from each musician so much as a little something extra you missed along the way. If you don’t like them, though, this definitely isn’t for you. You’re not going to suddenly find that one new thing that turns you on to any of the contributors. Familiar faces, characters easily identified from behind, whether you loved or hated them to begin with.


Paul Macmillan

Grave Digger – Exhumation The Early Years

Posted in CD with tags on 9th October 2015 by izaforestspirit

Grave Digger
Exhumation – The Early Years
Released 23rd October 2015
Heavy Metal/ Speed Metal
Released via Napalm Records

‘Exhumation – The Early Years’ is the new album from the German heavy metal band Grave Digger. Released only a year after their previous work ‘Return of the Reaper’, ‘Exhumation..’ features mostly re-recorded versions of old tracks from the band’s first three albums.

The clue is in the title ‘The Early Years’, and by early Grave Digger are referring to the their humble beginnings in early ’80s when their debut album ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’ was released. So if you are old enough to have followed the band’s career from the start, this doesn’t offer anything new other than a fancy CD cover art, booklet and possibly better production levels. In my case however, I only got into this band recently, so this release was a useful way to get to know some of the Grave Digger classics.

Witch Hunter caught my attention due to the catchy chorus, Chris Boltendahl’s coarse shouting “He’s a witch hunter, witch hunter witch hunter, witch hunter” and the ultra heavy and furious, speed metal style guitars. Similar things can be said about ‘Stand Up and Rock’ which is so catchy that it’s difficult not to head-bang and sing along to the chorus. Then there’s the heavy metal anthem Heavy Metal Breakdown with its furious barrage of thrashing guitar riffs and a chorus that’s likely to stay in your head for some time after the album has finished.

There’s some hints of both speed and thrash metal on here; particularly in the aggressive style of the guitars, audible in tracks such as Get Away and We Wanna Rock You. If you’re looking for some slower, power metal style ballads, you won’t find any on this album. It’s all about the aggressive, “in your face” heavy metal, the choice cuts picked out by the band for their fans.

In summary, I’ve really enjoyed this album. For someone who is only getting to know Grave Digger’s music, ‘Exhumation – The Early Years’ serves as a great introduction. If I ever get the chance to see them live I’ll know which songs to sing along to.


Iza Raittila

Satyricon vocalist diagnosed with a brain tumour

Posted in Metal, News with tags on 7th October 2015 by izaforestspirit

Bad news for Satyricon fans… The band’s frontman, Sigurd “Satyr” Wongraven has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. He broke the news a few days ago via his Instagram account. Here’s an extract from the statement:

“I got extremely sick eight days ago and was rushed to hospital. Scans have shown that there is a blind passenger in my head. Most likely it is benign. I can live with it as long as it does not grow bigger. Removing it is extremely complicated and should only be done if it grows into a size where it is a matter of life and death.”

“I will spend the next two weeks trying to get my strength back, then try to starting writing on the new Satyricon again and pick up where I left on all my wine projects.”

The band’s new DVD, ‘Live At The Opera’ is available now via Napalm Records.

Wucan – Sow The Wind

Posted in CD, Folk, Rock with tags , on 5th October 2015 by izaforestspirit

Sow The Wind
Released 25th September 2015
Blues Rock/ Retro Rock
Released via Hänsel & Gretel, division of M.I.G-Music GmbH

‘Sow The Wind’ is the debut album from the German blues rock band Wucan. The band describes their sound as “Kraut-fueled Heavy Flute Rock” and cites Jethro Tull, other blues rock and psychedelic musicians amongst their influences.

The sound of a flute isn’t exactly the first instrument that comes to mind when you hear the term “blues rock”… And “what on earth is retro rock?” I hear you ask… Well, if the opening track Father Storm is anything to go by, then I can state that in this case the term retro rock means playing songs which sound like they were recorded by a group of hippies in the early 1970s rather than a modern rock band in 2015.

There is a fair amount of folk influences in here. Flute sounds and acoustic guitars blend in with melodic, blues rock style female vocals on most of the songs to create that “retro” feel. In addition to this, some of the tracks feature elements of funk music – for example the groove sounds of rhythmic guitar and the Hammond organ on Looking In The Past. Then just in case that’s not enough to make you feel like you have traveled back to the 1970s, the guitar work on their final piece Wandersmann has a certain experimental flair to it which gives the song a weird, psychedelic quality.

In summary, listening to ‘Sow The Wind’ felt like traveling back in time to an era when these types of music were in vogue. So if you’re a fan of either folk music, blues rock or ’70s style psychedelic rock then you could enjoy this. Personally it’s not my kind of thing but I appreciate the effort that they put into creating that “retro”, nostalgic sound.


Iza Raittila

Hills Have Eyes – Antebellum

Posted in 'Core, CD with tags , , , , , , on 2nd October 2015 by Pieni

Hills Have Eyes
Metalcore / post-hardcore
Release: 2nd October 2015
Via Hell Xis Agency

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Formed over a decade ago, I only took notice of Hills Have Eyes early last year. But they caused such an impression, both on stage and in studio, that I’ve been dearly referring to them as “probably the best Portuguese metalcore band” (the “probably” being there just so I won’t sound pretentious – to me, they are indeed the best). So even though my rational side tried to control my expectations, I’m only human and they sky-rocketed pretty much on the same day I learnt a new album was on the way. Luckily for me, these guys seem to never disappoint.

If I had reviewed the debut “Black Book” and the sophomore “Strangers”, both would have got 5 stars; but in “Antebellum” HHE stepped up their game. They’ve always exceled in combining the most in-your-face riffage with the catchiest choruses – probably because even the more melodic passages kept a spunky spirit to them. But here there’s a bigger balance between those elements, producing a more mature sound.

Whenever they’re shredding away like there’s no tomorrow and entwine a certain darkness in the process, in songs such as “Eternal Bond” or “Answers In Blood”; when the heaviness of “Oathkeeper” or “Hide Your Scars” mingles with an upbeat rock vibe; the vibrancy of “Red Serpent” or the title-track; the silky touch of a female voice amidst the sharpness of “The Bringer Of Rain”; the molten guitar solo in “The Outspoken King” or the power in the ballad “Make It Right”; all songs were carefully written, filled with unique details, so that each and every one of them leaves an imprint of its own. What more can a music lover ask for? And when Hills Have Eyes say they’ve put their hearts and souls on this album, as much cliché as it may sound, you just know that there are hardly better words to describe it.


by Renata “Pieni” Lino