Archive for January, 2016

Avantasia – Ghostlights

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 29th January 2016 by Pieni

Avantasia
“Ghostlights”
Symphonic power metal
Release: 29th January 2016
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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It seems like yesterday that Tobias Sammet brought the term “metal opera” to a new level but it’s been 15 years already. And he keeps pushing the envelope.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s different from the previous albums, as the symphony-meets-power-metal is still the formula. But somehow the outcome this time is more… elegant.

Even the +12-minute “Let The Sun Descend Upon You” unfolds gracefully, making every minute worthy – I’m not big on lengthy songs, but with this one, time flew. Also, Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) and Robert Mason (Warrant) brightened up the melody with their hard-rock-vibe vocals.

There’s also a somber and mysterious tone in both “The Haunting” and “Seduction Of Decay”, the first a bit creepy, living up to its title, the latter somewhat Middle-Eastern influenced. They’re both enthralling, the participation, respectively, of Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) and Geoff Tate (Operation: Mindcrime) the sweetest icing for such cakes.
I won’t talk of every guest on this record, but since we’re speaking of perfect fits, this review cannot go without mentioning the amazing job that Herbie Langhans (Beyond The Bridge and Sinbreed) did on “Draconian Love”. His deep voice makes of this track the closest to a goth rock one.

The sadness on the ballad “Isle Of Evermore” is pretty touching, while the happy speed of the title-track will make the day of the power metal fans. Yes, “Ghostlights” is a very thorough album, hitting all the right marks in diversity, style and spirit.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

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Savage Machine – Event Horizon (single)

Posted in Metal with tags on 29th January 2016 by izaforestspirit

Savage Machine
Event Horizon (single)
Released 19th January 2016
Old School Heavy Metal
Self-Released

Savage Machine - Event Horizon

‘Event Horizon’ is the new single from the Danish heavy metal band Savage Machine. The band was formed in 2014 and has released an EP called ‘Through the Iron Forest’ prior to this. They are currently working on their debut album which is due later this year.

There’s only two songs on here so I’ll do my best to say something about both of them. The title track is the faster, more catchy one and I can see why they chose to make a video for it. It might be short in length but it’s a very well executed, head-banging friendly and packed catchy guitar riffs, piece of old school heavy metal.

Savior is the longer, more complex one of the two. This song puts more emphasis on the vocals which tell a story. The story-telling vocals made me think of Iron Maiden. The guitar work isn’t half bad either.

Overall, I like what I’ve heard from these guys so far. It’s difficult to judge a band based on just two songs. It would be interesting to hear the full album. Keep up the good work guys!

3.5/5

Iza Raittila

 

Rage – My Way [EP]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 26th January 2016 by Pieni

Rage
“My Way” [EP]
Heavy metal
Released: 22nd January 2016
Via Nuclear Blast

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Nowadays, EPs and singles are mistaken for one another quite often. Rage’s “My Way” is one of those cases; at least I wouldn’t call EP to a 4-track recording comprised of two versions of the same song plus two new versions of 20-year-old songs. But it’s still worth saying a few words about it, as “My Way” is an upbeat, classy piece of heavy metal. Vibrant riffs upon a sturdy rhythm, an ear-worm chorus with a defiant attitude (“it is my way or nothing at all”) and a flowing, rich solo – everything a fan of the genre appreciates.

The aforementioned “new versions” are actually just re-recordings of “Black In Mind” and “Sent By The Devil”; nothing, or almost nothing, has been changed. Sure, the recording and production have a clarity now that wasn’t possible back in 1995, making the sound of each instrument much more distinct. But on the other hand, those rough edges were part of the era these songs were born in in the first place, and taking away that rawness wasn’t exactly necessary.

As for the Spanish version of “My Way”, by the name of “Apuesto A Ganar” (determined to win)… well, unless Spanish is your native tongue or you really like this Latin language, I don’t see a reason for you to not stick with the original version…

3 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Royal Republic – Weekend Man

Posted in Alternative, CD, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 25th January 2016 by mickbirchy

Royal Republic
Weekend Man
Garage Rock, Alt. Rock
Released: 26 February 2016
via Spinefarm Records

The Swedish rockers, Royal Republic return with a new powerhouse of an album in the form of “Weekend Man”.  Such an appropriate title as I haven’t listened to an alt. rock album in quite some time that makes me want to just get up and dance as much as this one does. The energy is just contagious, the band sounds like they’re having the time of their lives while making this album and it really shows because I’m having so much fun just listening to it.  “Weekend Man” is for people who want to switch off and just have fun, with the crazy lyrics and the light production work so the music isn’t really in your face.  Also, the simple but incredibly catchy hooks will have you singing and dancing all night.

It feels like a Britpop album, in the way that the sound is very cerebral and impactful but at the same time it has that thumping beat that Euro-pop seems to favour.  All wrapped up in a rock’n’roll style sound.  So there are lots of layers here. With all that mix of styles it’s nice that the songwriting is so simple, standard verse-chorus structure with catchy hooks and a hefty amount of repetition, it all makes for an album that will stick in your head for a while.  Songs like “Walk!” and “My Way” bring that heavy garage-rock style that made them popular to start with. Yet, tunes such as “Kung Fu Lovin” and “ When I See You Dance With Another” have that pop style that makes them such a versatile band. “Kung Fu Lovin” in particular is an interesting specimen with its rock sound very much downplayed for an upbeat tone.  Come to think of it, there isn’t a somber moment in the album, it’s all very much get up and go.

My own personal favourite tracks and the songs I would recommend checking out are the title track “Weekend Man” and “Baby”.  Both of these songs are tunes that would give you a good insight into what this album, and indeed the band, is all about.  Upbeat fun tunes that you can bop and groove along to.  Thinking of these songs makes me realise how much the funk genre must have influenced their sound, as they have that mid-80’s disco funk sound to them as well. Really, I can’t sing this album praises enough.  In a time where most hard and alternative rock music is deep and brooding, Royal Republic have made a fun party album. Only a few songs really deviate from this on this album. “American Dream”, “Follow The Sun” and “On Any Given Sunday” all have a more serious tone to them.  It’s definitely not unwelcome, in fact it’s really where my Britpop comparison stems from.  These are the songs that carry that cerebral sound.  It also has a jangly college rock sound that’s pretty endearing.

This is a cracking album and something that I think may brighten up your day no matter what mood you’re in.  Superb music and something I would be comfortable recommending to anyone.

5/5

Mick Birchall

Toothgrinder – Nocturnal Masquerade

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 24th January 2016 by mickbirchy

Toothgrinder
Nocturnal Masquerade
Progressive Metal
Released 26 January 2016
via Spinefarm Records

The American prog-metallers hit us with their newest offering Nocturnal Masquerade and I’ll say this before anything else: this is one amazing record.  Never before have I listened to such brutality-meets-musical-brilliance like I have with this album.  At first it was a little jarring and I wasn’t too sure what to make of it, but I kept listening on and I really got into it once I knew where it was going.  

The album has a very mixed range of styles, as you would full well expect on a prog-metal album.  The opening track “The House (That Fear Built)”, like an overture, sets the mood pretty well for what is to come and the power and intensity is displayed throughout the whole album. The intricate guitar work makes for some great riffs and well crafted melodies. The broken riff patterns are great and coupled with the excellent drum work from Wills Weller; it creates a dynamic and powerful listening experience. The songs just have that hardcore and intense feel to them which is fun to listen to, being a fan of hardcore myself, at the same time the wonderful melodies just grab hold of you and the passion in Justin Matthews and Matt Arensdorff’s vocals just shine through so well.  To be honest, it’s hard to believe that there are only 4 members, there’s just so much going on.

For the more heavy of the performances on this album, Toothgrinder just really came together and created some spectacular tunes like “Blue” and “Coeur d’Alanse” which have this really relentless approach to them and I was left hooked. It really is difficult to fully grasp how interesting and diverse this album is, once you think you’ve got this band figure they go and add something into the song you just didn’t see coming.  Such as the odd quiet and unsettling moment before they kick straight back into gear, the anthemic clean vocals just cut off so suddenly by the rough guttural vocals.  This can be a little jarring and I did have a sense of tonal whiplash at times and this could throw some people off them.  

Overall, I have really enjoyed rocking out to this record and it has so many aspects that I love.  The technical mastery of the band is great and the music is so tight that it will just grab your attention and won’t let go. Fantastic work!

4.5/5

Mick Birchall

DevilDriver to support Ministry in the UK

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 20th January 2016 by Pieni

DevilDriver have finished their 7th studio album, “Trust No One”, which is set to be released on May 13th via Napalm Records. In order to promote it in the UK, the Californian groove metal band will hit the road in support of Ministry in August:

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Ministry and DevilDriver on the same bill , that’s a fucking concert worth showing up to! Al is a close and dear friend and Ministry is an iconic band for me and helped form my youth , I look forward to sharing the stage with one of the most legendary frontmen of all time! Thanks for having us aboard Al, let’s give em HELL!”, says Dez Fafara.

Pre-orders for “Trust No One” will be available shortly and tour dates announced soon.

facebook.com/devildriver

Two New Additions For Northern Symphony 2016

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on 20th January 2016 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Two more bands have been announced to join the likes of Theatres des Vampires, Old Corpse Road and Alwaid at the second edition of the UK’s leading symphonic metal festival: Northern Symphony.

Scottish suited-and-booted black metal corporation Maelstrom, who have supported the likes of Alestorm and Tyr in the past, have been announced to headline the Infernal Orchestra stage on 16th April this year. The band’s keyboardist Jaime Cross comments:

It’s a massive honour to have been picked to headline the Infernal Orchestra stage. We’re all excited about the festival and we always enjoy our shows in England. We look forward to seeing you all there!

Joining Maelstrom on the Infernal Orchestra stage are Ward XVI, who describe themselves as theatrical avant-garde rock. Mixing haunting melodies and female vocals with heavy guitar passages and the occasional segment of accordions, Ward XVI are an interesting addition to the festival.

Northern Symphony Festival will take place on Saturday 16th April at The Venue in Selby. In total, there will be 14 bands across 2 stages. The Midnight Waltz stage will be headlined by Italy’s legendary vampire-themed metal band THEATRES DES VAMPIRES.

Advance tickets are available for £15 from the festival’s BigCartel store.Further information is available at the festival’s official Facebook page.