Archive for December, 2015

Iza’s Highlights of 2015 (part 2: Metal)

Posted in Metal, Misc., Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2015 by izaforestspirit

Metal music has been close to my heart since I discovered the genre as a teenager. This year many of the bands that I grew up listening to have released some new material. Although this section of my highlights is entitled “metal”, my top 10 list also features two rock albums which didn’t fit the industrial category. So here are my favourite albums of 2015:

1. Lindemann – Skills in Pills
Genre: Industrial Metal

Prior to writing the first part I wasn’t sure whether I should stick this in the industrial or the metal section. In the end I went with metal because I’ve always regarded both Rammstein and Pain as metal, so naturally a collaboration between Mr. Lindemann and Mr. Tägtgren belongs in that category too. I can’t think of any better way of describing this album than how I summarized it in my review: “It takes you on a journey during which you will experience a whole range of emotions including fear, laughter and disgust.” Best tracks: ‘Fish On’, ‘Praise Abort’ and ‘Yukon’.

2. My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery
Genre: Gothic Doom Metal

The second entry on my list couldn’t be much more different than the first. Whereas ‘Skills in Pills’ was fun to listen to, making me dance and laugh along to the outrageous lyrics, ‘Feel the Misery’ is true its namesake. There’s nothing uplifting about this album, just eight beautifully crafted songs of doom and gloom. In short, it’s a classic case of My Dying Bride doing what they do best. Best tracks: ‘And My Father Left Forever’, ‘Feel the Misery’ and ‘I Celebrate Your Skin’.

3. Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches
Genre: Extreme Gothic Metal

At the time when I reviewed this album, I gave it a very conservative rating of 3.5/5. Since then I have listened to it on numerous occasions and I’ve grown to appreciate it. If I were to do the same review today I would probably rate it much higher. ‘Hammer of the Witches’ is easily Cradle of Filth’s best album in years. The best tracks are ‘Blackest Magick in Practice’, ‘Enshrined in Crematoria’ and ‘The Right Wing of the Garden Triptych’.

4. Apocalyptica – Shadowmaker
Genre: Symphonic Heavy Metal

This was a tough album to review mostly because it’s so distinctively different to anything that Apocalyptica has ever done before. As with the new Cradle of Filth, it took me a few listens to fully appreciate it. The cello sounds were an instant hit but Franky Perez’s vocals are not the easiest thing to get used to. Luckily I discovered that once you do become accustomed to it, you will be rewarded for your patience. Best tracks: ‘Shadowmaker’, ‘Cold Blood’ and ‘Riot Lights’.

5. Lacrimosa – Hoffnung
Genre: Gothic Rock/Gothic Metal

Lacrimosa is one of my favourite bands. Their music isn’t the easiest to classify. I and many other people I know have always regarded them as Gothic rock, but if you ask anyone from the Goth scene they are viewed as Gothic metal. ‘Unlike its predecessor ‘Revolution’, which had a lot of metal influences, Hoffnung’ marks a return to the symphonic and orchestral style of Lacrimosa whilst still retaining the Gothic elements. Best tracks: ‘Unterwelt’, ‘Die Unbekannte Farbe’ and ‘Thunder and Lightning’.

6. Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor
Genre: Alternative Rock

Whilst Lacrimosa’s classification as “metal” may be subject to debate, this one is definitely not metal. However since Marilyn Manson’s latest album has nothing in common with industrial music I decided that it was better suited for the “metal edition”. ‘The Pale Emperor’ isn’t a masterpiece like ‘Antichrist Superstar’, but it’s the best album I’ve heard by him since ‘Eat Me Drink Me’. Best tracks: ‘The Third Day of a Seven Day Binge’, ‘Deep Six’ and ‘Cupid Carries a Gun’.

7. Children of Bodom – I Worship Chaos
Genre: Melodic Death Metal/Power Metal

I Worship Chaos’ is another solid effort from the world-famous Finnish extreme metal band. I must admit that I was apprehensive when I heard some of the previews on Youtube. Luckily after getting my hands on a physical copy and listening to it in full, I’m happy to report that it’s better and more memorable than their previous work ‘Halo of Blood’. Best tracks: ‘Morrigan’, ‘Horns’ and ‘I Worship Chaos’.

8. Melechesh – Enki
Genre: Black Metal

I only discovered Melechesh recently after reading one of the reviews on this album. I like their unique style and the mixture of middle eastern folk music elements with black metal. It’s also a great way to learn about Sumerian mythology. Best tracks: ‘Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged’, ‘Lost Tribes (feat. Max Cavalera) and ‘Metatron and Man’.

9. Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed
Genre: Technical Death Metal

For those who don’t know death metal is one of my favourite metal sub-genres. Nile is one of the bands that I grew up listening to. I briefly lost track of them after the mediocre ‘Ithyphallic’ album but after reading a review of this album I decided to give them another go. I’m glad that I did. It’s great to see that these guys haven’t mellowed down or changed their style drastically. Best tracks: ‘Evil to Cast Out Evil’ and ‘In the Name of Amun’.

10. Ranger – Where Evil Dwells
Genre: Speed Metal

I don’t know much about speed metal. The chances are had it not been for Ranger’s highly entertaining performance at Radio City South Park festival, I wouldn’t have paid any attention to this album. Their debut ‘Where Evil Dwells’ treats you to seven tracks of ultra fast and energetic speed metal. A must for fans of the likes of Exciter and Witchburner.

Best New Discovery of 2015: Helloween (not new but new to me!)

Best live show: Cradle of Filth live in Helsinki

Most Anticipated Albums of 2016:

The Vision Bleak – Into the Unknown

And who knows… maybe we will finally get a new Metallica album?

Happy New Year Everyone!

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Mick’s Highlights of 2015

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , on 31st December 2015 by mickbirchy

This year has been really awkward.  Last year I managed to make a full top 50 list, this year I struggled to find 10! Well, when everything around is quite mediocre the really good stuff rises to the top and that makes for a more definite list.  Same rule as I always have for these lists and yes I only have one rule.  It’s all dependant on how much I enjoyed the album… No other criteria just that. If I really enjoyed it then it’s on this list!  So let’s not waste any more time here are my top 10 albums of 2015.

  1. Artist: Kadavar   Album: Berlin

Released: 21st August 2015 via Nuclear Blast Records

I will admit that I’m a sucker for some good old fashioned riff-rock and Kadavar certainly scratched my itch with Berlin. It has some great riffs and weird lyrics that don’t really make any sense upon first listen but have a deep meaning once you really open your mind and feel the music. I was really impressed with the overall sound of the album, all 70’s style groove with a modern twist, just a shining example of their really inventive writing. Also some praise for Simon Bouteloup, being that this was his first time recording a full length Kadavar album, he really does a splendid job in making some interesting and fun bass grooves. From start to finish, the album just feels right to listen to. I really would recommend this to anyone in seek of some great riff-rock and I look forward to whatever comes next from them. It’s not a bad number 10 for this list I suppose.

  1. Artist: Lancer   Album: Second Storm

Released: 10th April 2015 via Despotz Records

I didn’t actually realise how much I really enjoyed this album.  After about 90 or so playthroughs this has just ended up being a real comfort to me this year.  This is a really well crafted album with some astonishingly good solos and a really familiar yet invigorating sound. Lancer have shot up in my estimation.  Really, Second Storm is something that you may want to to check out.

Link to the review: https://valkyrianmusic.com/2015/05/25/lancer-second-storm/   

  1. Artist: Monster Magnet   Album: Cobras and Fire (The Mastermind Redux)

Released: 2nd October 2015 via Napalm Records

If you read my review of this album you will know that I was initially intrigued by the very concept. However, this album has only gone up in my opinion the more I’ve listened to it.  I haven’t had this much fun analysing an album since Sonata Arctica, with all of the fantastic lyrical skills of Dave Wyndorf. I just want to spend a day inside his mind, just to see how it works because this album is just one weird concept.  Firstly they “reimagine” Last Patrol, and now they have remade Mastermind with Cobras and Fire. How did Monster Magnet take an album that sounds like that and turn it into this?  I said this in my review and I’ll say it again.  If you’re interested in songwriting then get yourself a copy of Cobras and Fire and while you’re at it get the original Mastermind as well! Link to the review: https://valkyrianmusic.com/2015/11/22/monster-magnet-cobras-and-fire-the-mastermind-redux/

  1. Artist: The Gentle Storm   Album: The Diary

Released: 23rd March 2015 via Inside Out Music

What do you get when you take two of the most talented songwriters in metal stick them together and get the to make an album.  Well, it sounds like The Diary by The Gentle Storm. Anneke Van Giersbergen and Arjen Lucassen have produced, what I believe to be, one of the very best progressive metal albums ever (coming from someone who’s not that into prog-metal, and knows very little about the genre). I love the concept in itself of having two versions of the album, one in folk arrangements and one with metal. It sounds great either way you listen to it. The whole thing is very grandiose and captivating.  Also I found the central story of the album quite emotional and impactful. Anneke’s voice perfectly complements the musical arrangements that Arjen provides and every song is a delight to listen to.  If you missed this one, do yourself a favour and buy it now.

  1. Artist: Gloryhammer   Album: Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards

Released: 25th September 2015 via Napalm Records

Well, you definitely couldn’t get any sillier in the world of metal this year.  Well there may have been something that I just didn’t get around to. Anyway, in all honesty my opinion hasn’t changed much since my review so go read that.  This is just a fun record with some fun concepts and themes and the band go all the way with it!  Very enjoyable.

Link to the review: https://valkyrianmusic.com/2015/09/27/gloryhammer-space-1992-rise-of-the-chaos-wizards/

  1. Artist: Zebrahead   Album: Walk The Plank

Released: 8th October 2015 via Rude Records

In a year that has been honestly quite depressing in this country. With the UK government strangling the country itself, the rise of terrorism paranoia that came with the infamous Paris attacks and all of the flooding in the north of England. Wasn’t it really nice that we had one of the best party rock albums since Andrew WK’s – I Get Wet (at least in my opinion).  Zebrahead really shocked me this year as I wasn’t expecting the album to be so good.  I haven’t listened to Zebrahead in a long time but found my way back to them this year with Walk The Plank. This is a fantastic album that is just bursting with energy and fun.  As soon as I bought it I must have listened to it about 20 times in one day and every day since I find a reason to play at least one song off of it.  Something I haven’t done with any album in quite a while. Songs such as “Who Brings a Knife to a Gunfight?”, “Headrush”, “Keep It to Myself” and “Freak Show” are all great songs that I couldn’t get enough of and tunes I kept singing long after I turned off the album.  This was just the fun of 2015.

  1. Artist: Black Star Riders   Album: The Killer Instinct

Released: 20th February via Nuclear Blast

This is an album that has just got better and better as the year has gone by.  This was the first album that I reviewed for Valkyrian this year and I still hold the opinion that I had at the time. However, I also feel that my point of view has matured as well.  At the time of writing my review I was very much writing a first impression of the album more than an actual “review”. Now that the album has had some time to sit and I’ve had opportunities to return to it at will, rather than the pressure of writing a review, I can honestly say that this is fantastic.  I really seems like BSR have gelled and really created an album album the feels timeless.  The riffs and solos are well crafted and the music as a whole is well composed. This has really been another comfort album for me in 2015, something that I could go back back to again and again and never really get tired of it.

Link to the review: https://valkyrianmusic.com/2015/03/08/black-star-riders-the-killer-instinct-deluxe-edition/

  1. Artist: Gus G  Album: Brand New Revolution

Released: 24th July via Century Media

Yup… Pretend like you didn’t see this one coming from a mile off.  I think I’ve already said everything I wanted to say about this album in my review so just go and read that.  However, I’ll say this, Brand New Revolution is one awesome album that rewards repeated listens and it put a big smile on my face this year!

Link to the review: https://valkyrianmusic.com/2015/06/21/gus-g-brand-new-revolution/

  1. Artist: Tremonti  Album: Cauterize

Released: 4th June 2015 via Fret12 Records

If you know me on any sort of level you’ll have probably know that Mark Tremonti is one of my icons of music.  In my opinion there is not a single song-writer in the industry today that is more consistent when it comes to the quality of their releases.  Anytime this man puts his name to a record it’s almost a seal of quality (in my eyes at least), and Cauterize is no exception. The album hits you right away with stunning guitar work and amazing songwriting. Tremonti delves deep into emotional and dark issues and moves between them seamlessly with ease with songs like “Flying Monkeys”, “Tie The Noose”, “Another Heart” and “Dark Trip”. After listening to this album a hundred times and seeing the songs played live in concert, in Manchester. I can safely say that Cauterize defined my 2015 in terms of heavy rock.

  1. Artist; LiSA  Album: Launcher

Released: 4th March 2015 via Aniplex Inc.

This really has been the year of of discovery for me and by far the best discovery that I could have made this year is the Japanese singer-songwriter known as LiSA. From the moment I heard her music this year I was instantly hooked by the upbeat catchy nature and the album Launcher is really one that grabbed my imagination.  So I watch a lot of anime, and I have always been fascinated with the music that accompanies the shows. So rather than becoming a fan of the shows themselves, I hunt the music down with a passion. LiSA, has created many theme songs for many shows that I’ve enjoyed and when I heard the song “Crossing Field” for the show Sword Art Online, I wanted to know who made the song. That’s where I discovered LiSA. I found her music online and instantly bought her entire discography, there and then, and I discovered a whirlwind of interesting sounds and magical atmosphere that I have never heard before in my regular music taste.  Launcher, her most recent full length album is a delight, with songs like “Raising Hope”, “Fragile Vampire” and “L.Miranic” it all just instantly jumped out and made me smile.  Anytime I’ve been feeling down this year, I have turned to LiSA’s music. Also not to mention her three separate single releases this year would be a crime… “Rally Go Round”, “Empty Mermaid” and “ID” are all pumping tunes that get me going and just inspire me to do new things with my time.  This was not only my album of 2015 but my favourite discovery.  

I hope you enjoyed the list and I hope you keep well and have a happy 2016.  A plethora of new music is coming out this year that I’m more than excited for.  Artist like Tantric, Sick Puppies, Hatebreed, Flogging Molly, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, Avantasia and Volbeat have all confirmed new releases for next year and I simply can not wait!.

All the best

Mick Birchall

Pieni’s Highlights of 2015

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , , , , on 30th December 2015 by Pieni

Following the tradition of the last couple of years, here’s my top 5 gigs of 2015:
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  1. Hills Have Eyes at Hard Club (Porto)
  2. Mötley Crüe at Mediolanum Forum (Milan)
  3. The End Of Grace at Sticky Fingers (Gothenburg)
  4. Equaleft at Hard Club (Porto)
  5. Alice Cooper at Mediolanum Forum (Milan)

The albums (to which I must add how happy I am to notice that 4/5 come from my homecountry):
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  1. “Antebellum” by Hills Have Eyes
  2. “That’s The Spirit” by Bring Me The Horizon
  3. “Extinct” by Moonspell
  4. “Everything Ends” by Web
  5. “Soul Rebel” by Devil In Me

My choice for videos was pretty somber – two focusing on child abuse, one on bullying and another one just being creepy. The last one is funny, but in an aggressive way:

  1. “Don’t You Worry Child” by We Are The Catalyst
  2. “Omotenashi” by The Year
  3. “Diabolical Work Of Art” by Sonic Syndicate
  4. “Yara’s Song” by Mustasch
  5. “Jekyll And Hyde” by Five Finger Death Punch

Anticipations for 2016? Yeah, I have a few:
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  1. Equaleft – a new chapter is being written, with a new guitarist. Not sure if the new album will be released already in 2016, but something new will certainly be introduced to us.
  2. The End Of Grace – it was postponed, again, but I believe it was for the last time.
  3. Hashtag Yolo – they’re getting serious about this, so let’s see how that goes.
  4. The 69 Eyes – new album from the Helsinki Vampires!
  5. Sister – with their 10th anniversary, the sleazy punks announced “something huge” for 2016…

Happy New Year, folks!

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Iza’s highlights of 2015 (part 1: Industrial, EBM, Darkwave)

Posted in Industrial, Misc., Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 27th December 2015 by izaforestspirit

Christmas is over, which means that it’s now time for my annual “Best of” or “Highlights” as I prefer to call them. This year’s edition will be in two parts – only this time I’ve decided to do the Industrial edition first. I struggled to come up with a list of top ten albums, so here are my favourite songs of 2015:

1. Celldweller – New Elysium

Album: End of An Empire
Genre: Industrial Rock, Electro, Drum’n’Bass, Trance, EDM

Celldweller is probably the most diverse artist that you will find in my personal music collection. Since the project’s humble beginnings back in the late 1990s, the multi-instrumentalist Klayton, Celldweller’s sole member, has been experimenting with a vast variety of genres ranging from industrial rock, metal, trance, ambient, EDM and even dub-step. ‘New Elysium’ is taken from his third “vocal” album ‘End of An Empire’ (if you don’t count the movie and video game soundtracks). This song reflects the things that I love about Celldweller – industrial rock and trance have never sounded so good mixed together.

2. Blue Stahli – Down in Flames

Album: The Devil
Genre: Electro Rock

Blue Stahli was introduced to me by the same person who got me into Celldweller. The two artists also happen to be on the same record label, they are friends and they have toured together in the past. Blue Stahli is also a one-man industrial brain child of Bret Autrey. ‘Down in Flames’ has been selected from his second album ‘The Devil’, and it has become one of my favourite songs to play when I’m at the gym. No trance or ambient melodies, just good old “ready or not here comes The Devil” “burn baby burn”! Electro Rock…

3. Suicide Commando – My New Christ

https://pro.beatport.com/track/my-new-christ-original-mix/6630162

Album: TBA/Electro Storm vol.6
Genre: Aggrotech/Electro-Industrial/Harsh EBM

‘The Pain That You Like’ may have been this year’s single but ‘My New Christ’ was the track that caught my attention. Profound and complex lyrics to match the dark atmosphere and intensive synth melodies. In short, this song features all the things that make Suicide Commando one of my favourite artists. His new album won’t see the light of day until 2016, but you can get this track and many others by various industrial artists from the Out of Line label’s ‘Electro Storm vol.6’ -compilation CD.

4. Hocico – Bienvenido A La Maldad

Album: Ofensor
Genre: Aggrotech/Electro-Industrial/Harsh EBM

My favourite Mexican Aggrotech duo are back with a new album. It was tough to pick a favorite song from ‘Ofensor’ since I love the whole album. In the end I decided to go with ‘Bienvenido A La Maldad’ due to the vibrant and fantastically choreographed music video. It’s also a great dance tune.

5. Blutengel – Asche Zu Asche

 

Album: Omen
Genre: Gothic Synth-pop/Darkwave

I have to be honest here… The first time that I came across Blutengel, I couldn’t stop laughing at their ridiculously cheesy vampire video for ‘Reich mir die Hand’. As cheesy as it was, the song did stick in my head and after a few weeks I ended up buying one of their live DVDs followed by most of the discography… Given my general dislike for synth-pop, the chances that if these guys didn’t sing in German about vampires and other Gothic themes, I probably wouldn’t pay any attention to them. ‘Asche Zu Asche’ is my favourite track from the latest album ‘Omen’.

6. Eisbrecher – 1000 Narben

Album: Schock
Genre: Industrial Rock

I’ve been listening to Eisbrecher for a few years now. Earlier this year I finally had the pleasure of seeing these guys live in Helsinki for the first time. It was one hell of a show. They played a lot of the new songs from their latest album ‘Schock’ but ‘1000 Narben’ is the one that I found the most memorable.

7. Zombie Girl – Panic Attack

https://alfamatrix.bandcamp.com/track/panic-attack-4

Album: Killer Queen
Genre: Electro-Industrial, EBM

There’s not an awful lot of female electronic artists that I regularly listen to. What I was hoping for this year was a new album from the Unter Null. Sadly that was not to be but I discovered that Zombie Girl, an artist who been away from the scene since 2009 had just released a new album. ‘Panic Attack’ was the first single and my favourite track from her latest opus ‘Killer Queen’.

8. Alien Vampires – All Fakes Must Die

Album: Drag You to Hell
Genre: Aggrotech/Electro-Industrial/ Harsh EBM

When it comes to sinister sounding Harsh EBM and risqué imagery based on either drugs, BDSM and infernal blasphemy, nobody does it better than this dark electro duo. “Evil Bloody Music” it sure is and it’s damn catchy as well. The whole album is really good but ‘All Fakes Must Die’ is my personal favourite.

9. Noisuf-X – Big Bang (2015 Demo Version)


Album: 10 Years of Riot
Genre: Power- Noise

Noisuf- X is a relatively new discovery for me. I’ve been a fan of Jan L.’s main project, the wonderfully eerie and atmospheric harsh EBM that is X-Fusion. Noisuf-X is the slightly younger brother; the music tends to be more dance-oriented and club-friendly falling under the category of power-noize. I always dance to it when I hear it at a night club but with this album being a best of, I decided to buy a copy to play at home. ‘Big Bang (2015 Demo Version)’ is one of the new track from the bonus disc.

10. Blutengel & Meinhard – Kinder der Sterne

Album: In alle Ewigkeit (EP) – the Blutengel version
Genre: Gothic Synth-pop/Darkwave

Normally when I prepare these lists for my annual highlights, I try to avoid mentioning the same artist twice. This year I’ve decided to make an exception. ‘Kinder der Sterne’ isn’t just a Blutengel song, it’s a collaboration between them and another German electronic artist, the eccentric and theatrical Meinhard. The song was actually written by Meinhard who then asked Chris Pohl of Blutengel to join him and create this superbly catchy piece of Gothic electro. You can find the Meinhard of this track on his new album ‘ALCHEMUSIC II – coagula’. Personally I prefer the Blutengel version.

Best New Discovery of 2015: My Own Sorrow

Best live show: it’s a tie between Das Ich at Lumous Gothic Festival and Eisbrecher live in Helsinki.

Most Anticipated Albums of 2016

New albums by Suicide Commando, Heimataerde and Unter Null

That’s all for now… Stay tuned for part 2. The Metal edition, coming soon

Raising Legends Xmas Special – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 24th December 2015 by Pieni

Equaleft, Gates Of Hell, Tales For The Unspoken, Wrath Sins
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
19th December 2015
Promoted by Raising Legends

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Raising Legends Records, by the hands of its CEO André Matos, gathered its finest bands and put up a 2-day festival, naming it after the current season – after all, Christmas is about love and joy and family, and Raising Legends Xmas Special was full of those, along with the top-notch music.
Sadly, I couldn’t attend the first night, where the alternative/more-rock-oriented bands played. Would have loved to witness Cristovão Siano’s (PROJECTO SEM NOME) on-stage reveries, as well as EQUALEFT-Malone debut as the new BLAME ZEUS bassist, but I had already confirmed my presence at another gig.

 photo _DSC0618 copy_zpsyhice6a3.jpgPeople here are used to underground events starting late but forgot that Hard Club is an on-time venue (especially when it has other shows taking place afterwards). Such neglect resulted in WRATH SINS being welcomed by a far smaller audience than they deserved, but their performance didn’t suffer from it – they still thrashed away like there was no tomorrow. Which is where they got most of their popularity, actually – their debut album, “Contempt Over The Stormfall”, was released late September (review on the way) but they already had a solid fan base due to their heated live shows, the aggression of Miguel’s main vocals backed up by the graver tone of bass player Ricardo’s working pretty swell. That and the medley of cartoon themes, thrash metal style, which pumped the mosh squad that night as well. Promoting the aforementioned album, the rest of the set was comprised of songs from it, like the title-track and “Watching Time Collapse”.
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www.facebook.com/Wrathsins

 photo _DSC0788 copy_zpsfll2zcce.jpgWhen TALES FOR THE UNSPOKEN got on stage, the crowd had considerably grown bigger, but it wasn’t at its full yet. The absentee’s loss – TFTU are always great live but there was something about this gig that made it better than the several others I’ve seen of them.
2015 saw the release of the band’s sophomore album, “CO2” (review here), which features EQUALEFT-Miguel Inglês – who went by “Jedi Mig” that night… – in the song “I, Claudius”. He was obviously called on stage and singer Marco Fresco told the crowd that later it would be EQUALEFT’s last show with drummer Marcos, as the band had already found a replacement named Miguel. It was a joke, of course, regarding the recent announcement of new guitarist Miguel, making him the third member in the band with the same name. The singer called it the “Miguelification process”. Fresco, the everlasting amuser.
Other recent songs included “Taken” and “Soul For A Soul” (introduced as “soul for a fucking soul”…) but also oldies, from “Alchemy”, like “Say My Name” or “N’Takuba Wena”, had a major role in this party.
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www.facebook.com/talesfortheunspoken

 photo _DSC0272 copy_zps7donk7gy.jpgGATES OF HELL’s show was highly anticipated – not just because they’d been away for a while, but also because they would finally reveal the identity of their new singer. A new song/single, “My Path”, from the band’s upcoming second album, had been made available about a week before, but the name of the singer remained a secret. We were teased to guess, but no one could, since he indeed has some name in the underground scene but for his work behind the drumkit! The new GATES OF HELL singer is no other than Diogo Márlon, the WRATH SINS drummer. And boy, can he sing! Also, if he was any nervous – I can only imagine the difference between holding the mic instead of the drumsticks – one couldn’t tell. He just belonged there – in that role, in that band. Without any kind of disregard for the previous singers, but I feel like Márlon is the best fit in GOH so far – third is the charm indeed.
“My Path” was the only new song performed, everything else came from the debut “Critical Obsession” – the title-track finishing the set – but they also played “happy birthday” to a fan named Jessica. What a great comeback!
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www.facebook.com/gatesofhellband

 photo 2904_zpsv2fqtvjy.jpgIt wasn’t Marcos last show with EQUALEFT but it was Veggy’s. We told you about the guitarist’s departure (read article here) but since he had come to visit family and friends for Christmas, he took this chance to say a proper goodbye to the fans. EQUALEFT is one of those bands that never lets you down, but given the significance and emotional level of such show, it’s impossible to put into words just how intense their performance was. And the matching response of the crowd.
Near the end of the show, for “Hymns Of Obedience” and “Invigorate”, Veggy gave place to Miguel Martins, making this also a welcome party and official introduction of “the new guy”. And while Jedi Mig was wielding his lightsabre in the last song, Veggy stagedived and crowdsurfed.
But there was still one minute and half left, and they wanted to make the best of every second; so they went back to the EP “… The Truth Vnravels” and played “Uncover The Masks” – a song that originally lasts 2:11. Not sure if they simply played it faster or improvised some tweaks – the whole night had been a bliss for me to notice – but whatever it was, it worked wonders.
Before the group pic with the fans in the back, Jedi Mig gave away cookies to the fans in the front. He gives a whole new meaning to “Come to the Dark Side – we have cookies”…
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www.facebook.com/equaleft

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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Interview with Vaarwel of Frozen Ocean

Posted in Interview on 23rd December 2015 by Paul Macmillan

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Somewhere in the cold wilderness of Russia, a man going by the name of Vaarwel has been cultivating a complex musical concoction for the last decade. His is an intriguing blend of many influences, culminating in a unique identity, nesting in the realms of extreme metal. Rather allowing it to become a burden, Vaarwel has channelled his isolation in art unhindered by current tropes, to deliver Frozen Ocean, whose first release with label Apocalyptic Witchcraft, The Prowess Of Dormition, was covered recently at Valkyrian. Intrigued by his strange tale, we dug deeper into the thoughts and processes of the man behind the music, starting with his mild – yet reasoned – rejection of the ‘black metal’ tag.

Vaarwel: “There’s a lot of talk about “blackness” of metal nowadays: holy wars of trve vs hipsters, discussions about experimentation within style, invention of “new” subgenres (like, for fuck’s sake, “transcendental black metal”), et cetera. And I remember that it always was like that. I had been listening to black metal of all possible kinds for some time, and found that I am relatively close to (a) conservative position in this respect. Black metal should be devoted to Satanism/misanthropy/occultism/hatred/ intolerance, or at least to something that is close to one of those subjects, otherwise it is not actually black. Being a bit purist here, Frozen Ocean’s music does not match such a requirement, maybe only “Norse” trilogy (which is an homage) and “And Hoarfrost Blooms Henceforth” could fit, but I don’t insist. So, that’s why I prefer to specify it as vague as “atmospheric metal”. Moreover, style tags are relatively powerful instrument of promotion. Too many people want to jump the train of black metal, because (of) its history and attractive, badass image. I would like to walk my own way, (and) it is evident for me that it doesn’t belong to black metal.”

This is a musician with very solid, if not forceful, opinions on how his creative ouput fits into the world. Still, he seems open to experimentation, such as the use of traditional instrumentation.

Vaarwel: “Well, honestly I don’t very much like both pure folk music and its fusions with something else (folk metal, for example). If one can see an influence, it is perhaps unintentional. On the other hand, folk music melodies, and folk instruments are considered, and will be considered, as a good tool for building the music of Frozen Ocean – as well as such for electronic music.”

It seems like a massive thought process to go through for just one person, and you have to wonder if it is as demanding as it appears. Does he find that this is a struggle?

Vaarwel: “It is hard to say, because one can scarcely see a challenge here. Somebody is satisfied with raw, and what is offensively called “bedroom” sound, and if this fits the goal – why not? Some just make music with dense studio, or studio-like sound, because it seems necessary – again, why not? I doubt that there is somebody who intentionally accepts the challenge to make the music alone, but make it sound like the whole band. Yes, I would like to manage the sound of Frozen Ocean releases as good as possible, but this is not a competition.”

…but what comes first? Where does it begin?

Vaarwel: “Like gangrene, from scratch. It is always the music. I guess that’s why Frozen Ocean has so many instrumental compositions recorded. I fully record the music of a new track, and only then write the lyrics. As a musician, it is vital for me to describe necessary emotions, images and visions by means of music, and lyrics should be just assistance, and nothing more. Otherwise, one can just declaim the lyrics as poem, with minimum accompaniment (and so we get dark folk!)”

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With Frozen Ocean’s music being fairly open to variety, within its own world, past releases have seen more loose, jangly atmospherics. Does he see a return to the likes of the tripped-out style of Space Orchards?

Vaarwel: “I do. Although I consider post rock generally a stillborn style, with several lodestars and hordes of copycats, it can surely bring some useful tools and approaches to new music from Frozen Ocean.”

Are there any other musical genres he might try with Frozen Ocean, which he hasn’t used before?

Vaarwel: “You will never know, neither will I. For now, I have an unfinished IDM album with elements of folk music and metal; death metal always attracts me, being a music that I generally listen to. Everything that can be integrated, and give advance to Frozen Ocean’s artistry can be used. Speaking of what will never be used, there are Russian chanson (pop music about prison culture), hip-hop and club electronics such as bigroom, house of all kinds, etc.”

Russian chanson is new one to me! Then again, Moscow, and Russia in general, isn’t a place that people in the west hear much about in terms of metal, but it is massive. How has the metal scene over there treated him? Is Frozen Ocean well received at home?

Vaarwel: “Frozen Ocean is unclaimed and unknown in Russia. I seem to have twenty, maybe thirty Russian listeners that are not friends of mine or familiar with me. I am happy that these people found Frozen Ocean and appreciated its music legacy. Speaking of the scene, it is well-developed and indeed has some good music acts, bands and projects. I know, personally, some people, and I am in good relationships with them, but Frozen Ocean still remains obscure and unclaimed, even for the scene. I can do nothing with that, and will not do, thus turning my expectations towards Western audiences.”

So, can we expect to see a live incarnation of Frozen Ocean coming our way any time soon?

Vaarwel: “I did consider it several times, but I am not a big fan of live music, both listening and playing. Besides, making a gig makes sense when you are sure that somebody will visit it, and I am not sure. Maybe in next decade.”

If not live, then does he have plans for future releases already in place?

Vaarwel: “I do, as always, and plans are totally beyond the possibilities. Now I am recording the next Frozen Ocean full-length named “There Will Come Soft Rains”, named after Sarah Tisdale’s poem, which was used by Ray Bradbury in his famous short novel. It will be another recording of atmospheric metal, similar to material on “The Prowess Of Dormition”, but faster, better and more emotional.”

by Paul Macmillan

Ripper – Third Witness

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , on 18th December 2015 by izaforestspirit

Ripper
Third Witness
Released 14th April 2015
Heavy Metal
Released via Black Widow Records

‘Third Witness’ is the third album from the American heavy metal band Ripper. The band was originally formed back in 1977 but they didn’t release anything until their first self-titled demo in 1985, followed by their debut album ‘..And the Dead Shall Rise’ a year later. They split up during the ’90s and re-formed again in 2005. This release includes a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ featuring Steve Sylvester (Death SS) as a guest vocalist

This is my first encounter with Ripper… After some research I learned that they’re an old heavy metal band from Houston, Texas; not the speed/punk act from Portland and that they use horror themes in both their lyrics and imagery. Prior to starting this review I also had a look at some of their band pictures which reminded me of rock artists such as KISS, Alice Cooper and to some extent Black Sabbath. So that’s the influences figured out, now onto the music…

We’re off to a good start with good old school heavy metal guitar riffs, mid-paced drumming and clear, story-telling vocals. Yet unlike most classic heavy metal bands, Ripper’s music has this unpolished, abrasive feel to it. Their songs have a certain eerie quality to them as though they were recorded in some creepy dungeon or cellar, hidden deep in the woods. Take Morphinia for instance, there’s very faint sound of creepy, ghost movie -style keyboards in the intro and the relatively simple but highly effective, haunting lines of the chorus. Even the guitars have a certain Gothic horror tinge to them.

Yet that’s not all what this album has to offer. It also has some catchy, guitar-driven tracks such as Cryptonight which made me think of Mercyful Fate’s ‘Melissa’ album for some reason. Luckily their singer’s voice is not as squeaky as that of King Diamond. Then we come to the closing song, a Black Sabbath cover, which stays true to the original. I can see why they want to use another singer for this, as Steve Sylvester’s voice is much more similar to Ozzy Osbourne’s. The “crunching”guitar work is pretty good too.

In summary, this has been a pleasant first encounter with Ripper. As far as classic heavy metal bands go, they may not be as renowned as Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath but that doesn’t make them any less interesting. So, if you like heavy metal with a touch of Gothic horror then you should give ”Third Witness’ a try.

4/5
Iza Raittila