Archive for May, 2016

Hatebreed – The Concrete Confessional

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 31st May 2016 by mickbirchy

Hatebreed
The Concrete Confessional
Hardcore Punk
Released: 13 May 2016
via Nuclear Blast Records

No matter how far away I get from heavy metal I always find that there are a few bands that drag me right back to headbanging and shouting until I have no voice.  Hatebreed are one of those bands.  No matter how long it is since I last listed to the genre, they always give me the one thing that I always look for in music in general.  Passion, integrity and kick ass music. The music of Hatebreed and I go way back now, I think their music is so ingrained into my psyche that I can’t actually turn my head when they bring out new material.  However, there is only one question to answer in this review.  Is this album, The Concrete Confessional better than their previous album The Divinity of Purpose.  The last album was so good and really cemented me as a true Hatebreed fan.

Well I’ll give it this…. There is certainly a more intense, almost overly aggressive, vibe to this. I mean all of Hatebreed’s albums are intense and in your face.  The Concrete Confessional however, is sharper and feels more direct. For the most part Jamey Jasta is quite creative with his wordplay and the language used in his albums.  Here there is more of a direct approach as if Hatebreed are directing their aggression right at the listener.  Some may think that this is antagonising and abrupt.  I think it’s a pretty bold way to get your point across.  Being that this is a very opinionated band, why hold back your though with metaphor and imagery when you can just say how you’re feeling right there and then. The album deals with heavy issues like social injustice, police brutality and drug abuse, so why hold back?

The music is just as direct.  With sharp consistent note changes and tight production the music stands as a way to punctuate the heavy subjects of the lyrics. Though I do feel that something is lost with this album.  I’m not finding it nearly as catchy or musically interesting as the previous records.  Nothing really sticks in your head at all, as if Hatebreed are laying it on a little too thick.  Think of the Hatebreed songs that you know, “Everybody Bleeds Now”, “Destroy Everything”, “In Ashes They Shall Reap” or even newer songs like “Honor Never Dies”, “Indivisible” or “Dead Man Breathing”.  They sticks in your mind because the music was creative and the lyrics catchy.  This album seems to be void of that, barring say a couple of songs “Looking Down the Barrel of Today” being a great example.  Even that only has one phrase though.  What I’m saying is I don’t think there’s a good compromise between the message they’re trying to deliver and the creativity needed to make compelling music.

Is this a good album? Yes absolutely, without question.  Is it Hatebreed? Yes, again it’s exactly what they wanted to give us.  Is it as good as The Divinity of Purpose, Perseverance or The Rise Of Brutality? No, I don’t think so.  The album is too far removed from what made those albums great. However, I’ll pose another question.  Was The Concrete Confessional meant to be a fun heavy metal album or was it meant to make you feel uncomfortable with the way you’re living?… Sure the band may say something in a press statement, but what a band says in interview and what they say on the record itself aren’t always the same thing.

4/5

Mick Birchall

DevilDriver – Trust No One

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 30th May 2016 by mickbirchy

DevilDriver
Trust No One
Groove Metal, Melodic Metal
>Released: 13 May 2016
Via Napalm Records

Trust No One is the seventh release from DevilDriver. The album is certainly the same sound that they have been playing for years now, although it feels more revitalised and energetic. There is a distinct sense of power and command to the songs and the songwriting itself is great. All of the lyrics flowing really nicely and the sharp consistent riffs piercing there way into your head. They really come out swinging here with the tight production and stimulating melodies. I can’t really say it’s their best work, but there is definitely a drive behind this album, whereas the last couple felt a little tired.

Right off the bat DevilDriver hits you with a cavalcade of powerful and commanding groove based riffs, in that familiar way.  It’s all really nicely paced and creates an interesting sound in your head.  Opening on “Testimony of Truth” and “Bad Deeds” the album really starts you off with a blast to your senses. The lead guitar sounds distorted beyond belief with twisted and winding sounds mixed with the amazing bass work, which is really well laid.  All of it just pushes the songs forward with fantastic momentum and makes you want to keep listening.  Seriously the album flies by, forty minutes feels like ten and when you have fist pumping songs like “Above It All”, “Daybreak” and “Trust No One” it’s really no surprise.  I found myself wanting the next song to come on and it turns out that the album was over.  Forcing me to restart the whole thing again.

I’m a massive sucker for well done riffs and yeah, they’re simply spectacular here.  They’re completely solid and uncompromising.  They hit hard and let you just waver in the aftermath of their presence. When you add Dez Fafara’s insane vocal style on top of all of it it makes for one hell of a listening experience. Just simple heavy metal done really well no need for for any fancy gimmicks or weird stylistic choices. Pure heavy metal full on until the end. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed this album, although they haven’t much to change their style or innovate the genre.  They have created something really pure and simple. Why change up a formula that already makes sense?

4/5

Mick Birchall

Temples Festival 2016 cancelled

Posted in News with tags , , on 30th May 2016 by Nico Davidson

Sad news for patrons of all things heavy as this year’s Temples Festivals has been cancelled. Francis Mace, the organiser of the Temples Festival, which was set to take place next weekend, made the following announcement on Facebook:

Patrons of Temples Festival,

After an arduous 48hrs of uncertainty, and with deepest reluctance we have been forced to cancel Temples Festival 2016.

At the beginning of last week, the organisation we had onboard to finance the event pulled their funding, and with limited access to advance ticket sales and no sponsors to back us we have been unable to source the funding required to cover the overheads which would allow Temples Festival to go ahead.

Following Temples 2015, we were left with a sizeable debt and as opposed to dissolving the company and declaring bankruptcy – I decided to take on the debts personally and subsequently pay off all our creditors in instalments as quickly as possible, this meant bands, staff and contractors were all paid late – and it’s had a crippling effect on both my professional and personal life as a whole – truth be told, I made a series of bad business decisions and dealt with the situation very poorly – which I take full accountability for.

I’ve spent the past week trying to gain access to the funds we need to make this year work and avoid the problems we encountered following last year’s event, with our financiers pulling their involvement – it’s been an uphill battle, which I’ve fought to the best of my abilities – and unfortunately, have been defeated.

Over the past weekend, I’ve been attempting to produce the festival’s continuation on a ‘scaled down’ level so we can offer something for those of you who have purchased tickets, accommodation, transport etc and allow the bands who are touring, UK based etc – unfortunately this morning it became clear that even if we were to proceed as such, we’d be left with another huge debt and therefore unable to pay the bands, staff, venue, contractors and a number of other crucial overheads the festival relies on – thus repeating the mistakes that were made last year.

Having already lost in the region of £70,000 throughout Temples Festival’s existence – I’m afraid adding more debt to that will simply cripple both myself and the festival, and after such a difficult year it’s not an option for me to take on such a huge debt personally.

I am deeply deeply sorry to all of those who will lose out as a result of this decision, having put three years of my life and having already lost so much of it to the festival I’m afraid there is no option to continue with Temples Festival 2016 and I take full responsibility for events cancellation. I am truly sorry.

My intention was always to setup a unique UK festival which books bands who are rarely seen in the UK, I’ve tirelessly dedicated myself to this event for a long time now and the decision to cancel this year’s event has been unequivocally the hardest call I’ve ever had to make in my life. My sincere apologies to those of you who will lose out as a result of this, I am truly sorry – but I can’t face another year of debts & damage.

Thank you to everyone who has actively supported Temples Festival from the start, I launched this ambitious event with the best intentions and unfortunately it’s become too damaging for me to oversee single handedly. Although curating the festival is something I’ve been able to do well – managing the business side of the event has proven too much for me. I’ve been promoting concerts for half of my life, and those of you who know of the work I’ve done will hopefully be aware of how upsetting and damaging this decision has been to me on every level.

Our ethos has been No Surrender for the past year, as I was determined to make this festival work and finish what I started. I’ve worked so hard to make this happen for our Patrons in 2016 but against my will and core beliefs – today’s news has forced me to surrender.

Ticket refunds are available from your point of purchase, please contact them for a full refund.

Again, thank you to those of you who have been supporting this event for the past three years – your encouragement and kind words have kept me going through incredibly difficult times and I hope that despite this negative outcome you’ve at least enjoyed the two events we hosted for you. I’m proud of what was achieved with this event, and if there was any way of making this year work I’d be continuing with the same passion and dedication which oversaw the last two editions of Temples Festival.

With the utmost regret & sincerity,

Francis Mace
– Temples Festival

Following this cancellation, a number of bands have been left without dates for the first weekend of June. Rumours are doing the rounds at the moment, implying that one of the reasons for the cancellation is that acts that played last year’s Temples were never paid and the cancellation will have a knock-on effect towards the rest of the UK scene as well.

Hanzel Und Gretyl live in Helsinki

Posted in Gig, Live with tags on 29th May 2016 by izaforestspirit

Dorothy Polonium, Hanzel Und Gretyl
On The Rocks, Helsinki, Finland
27th May 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Helsinki. The last time I was there was late November last year when I walked through some heavy snowfall to see Cradle of Filth live. Since then, I either didn’t have the money or the time to travel even if there was some interesting concerts happening in the city. Then a few weeks ago I discovered that Hanzel Und Gretyl were coming to play two shows in Finland. I’ve been a fan of their music for some time now so I decided that it was worth going to Helsinki to see them live. The gig was at a rock bar/ nightclub called On The Rocks. Like many of gig venues in the city, this one had a good atmosphere but it was fairly expensive.

First up was a Finnish alternative rock band called Dorothy Polonium. I really struggled to get into their music. The guitars sounded decent at times but the vocals were just plain weird. The singer’s melodic vocals sounded ok, but then for some reason she decided to start shrieking and shouting. It went from pleasant-sounding melodic metal/rock to some weird experimental/progressive rock with mismatched and downright odd-sounding vocals. 2/5

Hanzel Und Gretyl were fantastic. They played the newer songs first. I’m not too familiar with their latest album, however. Based on what I heard, their new material seems to be leaning more towards extreme metal rather than industrial. It’s still good but nowhere near as catchy as the older stuff. Luckily they played the hits as well including: ‘Third Reich From the Sun’, ‘SS Deathstar Supergalaktik’ and ‘Fukken Über Death Party’. It was apparently Kaizer von Loopy’s birthday, so the crowd sang something akin to the birthday tune and treated him to some beer. There was lots of funny stage antics which made the whole show great to watch even with some minor problems with the sound system. The best part was ‘Das Boot’ when they invited a few guys from the audience come on stage with them and drink beer from a massive New Rock boot. 4/5

After the show I got to meet the singer Vas Kallas and I had my photo taken with her.

Overall it was a really good show and I had a great time. Even my husband, who isn’t too familiar with Hanzel Und Gretyl’s music, admitted that they were entertaining to watch.

Iza Raittila

Neige et Noirceur – Les Ténèbres Modernes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 26th May 2016 by izaforestspirit

Neige et Noirceur
Les Ténèbres Modernes
Released 24th June 2016
Raw Black Metal/Ambient
Released via Sepulchral Productions

Neige et Noirceur (French for ‘Snow and Blackness’) is a French Canadian raw black metal project which was formed by the singer and multi-instrumentalist Zifond in 2005. It’s part of the growing Quebequois black metal scene or “le métal noir québécois” as it is known as within the francophone metal community. His latest effort ‘Les Ténèbres Modernes’ is a concept album about World War I and it features Schimaera (Industrie Chimère Noire, Portal, Profound Lore) on guest vocals.

The opener Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum sets the scene with its haunting guitars and grim vocals. It’s an interesting mixture of raw black metal similar to Burzum with some ambient and atmospheric elements such as keyboards and operatic-style choir samples at the start. Yet this is actually one of the slower and more melodic tracks on here. What follows is a barrage of nihilistic, harsh and eerie raw black metal that’s as bleak as its subject matter. Even the dark ambient parts such as the keyboard intro to La Saison des Morts or the end of Ciel d’Acier have that ghastly tinge, making the listener feel like one of the survivours of a battle, walking through a desolate field littered with blood and dead bodies.

Then there’s Felgrau – an instrumental which is mostly dark ambient with the only “metal” element being the faint sound of a distorted guitar in the background. Perhaps this marks the point when the battle has ended and the rain has started to wash away the blood from the trenches…The avantgarde-style, ambient final track Adieux acts as a good summary of the overall theme with the sounds of gunfire, bomb blasts, radio broadcast, alarm sirens and absolutely no black metal elements at all.

Overall, to say that I’ve enjoyed this album would an inaccurate assumption. One does not enjoy raw black metal but rather it is something to get engrossed into and admire. It’s just as grim and nihilistic as I expected it to be. Even when sang in French, a supposedly more melodic language, it sounds harsh and bleak.

4/5
Iza Raittila

Akercocke set to no longer play Bloodstock

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 25th May 2016 by Nico Davidson

In a bizarre turn of events, Akercocke, who recently reformed, have announced on their Facebook page that they will no longer be playing at this year’s Bloodstock Festival. The announcement reads:

Dear friends and fiends,

Owing to politics we neither understand nor participate in, we have been pulled from the Bloodstock 2016 line up.

Akercocke

Understandably some Akercocke fans have voiced their displeasure at this news, with some of them referring to the festival as being petty and a joke. While the exact reason is unknown to Akercocke being pulled from the billing, it appears that it has something to do with the organisers of Bloodstock trying to keep an illusion of exclusivity as the band have been confirmed to play Damnation in November and will be touring the UK later this year.

At the moment, Bloodstock have not made a statement to as why Akercocke are no longer on the bill.

***UPDATE***

Adam Gregory, one of the organisers of Bloodstock left the following comment on the band’s post:

As much as we would like to answer your questions with our reasons for being forced to cancel the bands appearance, out of respect for the band, we wont air our laundry in public, but rest assured Bloodstock was left without any option on this occasion.

Akercocke online:

http://facebook.com/akercockeofficial

Volbeat – Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 22nd May 2016 by mickbirchy

Volbeat
Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie
Heavy metal, Hard Rock

Released: 3 June 2016
Via Universal Music Group

Volbeat are one of those bands that just have it.  I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what ‘it’ is, but they definitely have it.  Over the years they have put out splendid record after bombastic hit. Once again I think they’ve done it again, well they have for me at least. Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie, is their 6th studio album and it’s more of what have done over the years, it has a big sound, a lot of emotional power and the songs are catchy and anthemic.  It is also the first album not to feature bassist, Anders Kjølholm who left in November 2015.

This album has a lot to enjoy about it.  From the big sounding production to the consistent and commanding song structure.  All designed to be lodged in your head and to sing at the top of your lungs at live shows. Michael Poulsen’s vocals are crystal clear and have a lot of emotional weight to throw around and it’s matched by his own superb guitar work with Rob Caggiano’s blinding guitar skill as well. Everything on this album sounds big and expansive, it makes me want to track down all of the lyrics and sing them loud as I’m sure you will  too. The pure emotion on the album is wonderful as every song has weight and they’re not just throw away rock songs to get as many people in a concert venue.  The songs are quite frankly beautiful.  Especially songs like For Eveigt (featuring Johan Olsen from Magtens), Mary Jane Kelly & Goodbye Forever.  For Eveigt has this sweetness to it and the addition of Johan’s vocals only serves to add to the power of the song.  Whilst Mary Jane Kelly & Goodby Forever have the aura of real honesty and the anthemic choruses are genuinely fun to sing along to.  By the way the gospel choir on Goodbye Forever nearly brought me to tears, it’s not a sad song, but it just was done so well that it got me emotional.

Then you get to the other thing that Volbeat do exceptional well. Kicking you in the arse with hard rock awesomeness (side note: is it strange my spellchecker recognised that word?).  Oh well,  songs like the album’s lead in single The Devil’s Bleeding Crown and Seal The Deal are sure to keep old school rock fans satisfied. With Caggiano’s signature guitar stings and sweeping solos mixed with the incredible riffs that keep you pumped for hours.  Volbeat really have made something amazing here.  Mixing all rock styles, from hard rock to metal to blues to ballads.  There’s seemingly no style that they can’t take and make their own.  This is a definite must for anyone in 2016.

5/5

Mick Birchall

Dead By Wednesday – Darkest of Angels

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 20th May 2016 by izaforestspirit

Dead By Wednesday
The Darkest of Angels
Heavy Metal
Released: 15th July 2016
via EMP Label Group

‘The Darkest of Angels’ is the new album from the American Heavy Metal band Dead by Wednesday. The band was originally formed back in 2005. Since then they have gone through a number of line-up changes, the most recent being the departure of their singer Joe Morbidelli last year due his addiction problems. This album was recorded with the help of several guest vocals including: Brian Fair (Shadows Fall), Rob Dukes (Generation Kill, ex- Exodus) and Jon Arch (Arch/Matheos, ex-Fates Warning) as well as their new singer Rob Roy on one track. All the songs are centered around the theme of addiction.

The departure of the frontman is the type of thing that can make or break a band. As this is my first encounter with Dead By Wednesday, I don’t know much about how they used to sound prior to the line-up changes. Based on what I’ve read, their older material was a mixture of metal and hardcore. This new album is said to be heavier with more emphasis on metal. So let’s see what we have here…

Well for starters, there’s eleven tracks on here each featuring a different vocalist. The music itself is fairly consistent, melodic and mostly guitar-driven heavy metal. Some of the songs incorporate guitar patterns from both groove metal and even the odd metalcore-style break-down added in the mix.  Self-Medicate (feat. Paul Stoddard) is a good example of how all these elements can be successfully combined to produce something memorable. Sadly it’s the vocals that put me off some of the songs such as Power Troopers (feat. Ceschi & David Ramos) which is a mish-mash of System of Down -esque progressive wailing and shouts. Similar things can be said about the cacophony that is Phoenix Rising (feat. Kris Keys). It’s a shame because the guitar riffs are actually pretty good at times.

Highlights include the title track featuring John Arch and The Surgeon featuring the band’s new singer Rob Roy. Out of these, Darkest of Angels is one of the more melodic songs on here which has a certain power metal feel to it due the playful guitar tunes and Mr. Arch’s melodic vocals. What a relief to my sore ears! The other track that I enjoyed is, oddly enough; an acoustic song The Surgeon, the only song to feature the band’s new singer. Based on this I can see that he’s a good vocalist who seems comfortable and more importantly fully capable of clear vocals. It would have been interesting to hear him have a go at the more aggressive vocal styles that are present on this album. Other notable songs include Defining Fire (feat. Antony Hämäläinen & Waylon Reavis) and the thrash metal -tinged Break When I’m Dead (featuring Eric A.K. of Flotsam & Jetsam)’.

Overall this album is probably not the best one to tune into as an introduction to Dead By Wednesday. With so many different singers and a wide variety of different vocal styles it’s really difficult to deduce what these guys actually sound like. I would have preferred to hear more songs with their new singer Rob Roy. Instead this album feels like the band is still trying to find their feet again and establish a new identity.

3/5

Iza Raittila

Surgical Meth Machine – Surgical Meth Machine

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 19th May 2016 by Pieni

Surgical Meth Machine
“Surgical Meth Machine”
Industrial Metal
Release: 15th April 2016
Via Nuclear Blast Records

 photo Surgical Meth Machine - Surgical Meth Machine - Artwork_zpsdfjnceab.jpg

When Nuclear Blast sent over this album I volunteered to review it simple because a) my musical taste has a fair share of industrial metal in it and b) I thought the name was cool. My first thought when I started listening to it was “what a Ministry rip-off!”. So you can imagine how hard I laughed when I realized this was an Al Jourgensen’s project. It also gives you an idea of the difference between Surgical Meth Machine and Ministry – pretty much none.

There’s a bigger sense of humor though. Starting right off with the opening track “I’m Sensitive”, where that sensitivity regards opinions posted on social media and therefore the title bears a huge amount of sarcasm. “Unlistenable” lives up to its name, sounding extremely annoying, but the lyrics save the day: Jourgensen is asked about some “really cool” bands like Iron Maiden and then bands that “everyone loves to hate” like Nickelback and his verdict is always the same – they all suck. Even Ministry, who the frontman claims to “hate fucking industrial bands”. Devo, on the other hand, rule! And a heavier version – not exactly industrialized – of Devo’s “Gates Of Steel” kicks in. In the same vein, the fun goes on with “Spudnik”, which sounds like an ‘80s arcade video game soundtrack. “I’m Invisible”, the second song made public prior to the album release, if I’m not mistaken, has an unexpected funky vibe, but the rest of the album has that grinding industrial beats that Ministry got us used to. My favorite song is “Rich People Problems”, but “I Want More”, the aforementioned “I’m Sensitive”, “Tragic Alert” or “Smash And Grab” are just as hammer-forged. So yeah, it may lack innovation, but this album surely dwells in high-caliber ground.

4 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Equilibrium reveal new album title and artwork

Posted in News, Studio Report with tags , , , , on 14th May 2016 by izaforestspirit

The German “epic” power folk metal band Equilibrium are back in the studio putting the finishing touches on their latest album. They have recently announced that the new album, follow up to ‘Erdentempel’ will be entitled ‘Armageddon’.

The artwork was designed by Skadi Rosehurst, the same artist who also did the artwork for their previous album. You can check out the cover art below:

‘Armageddon’ is due to hit the shops worldwide on 12th August 2016 via Nuclear Blast Records.

https://equilibrium-metal.net/en/

https://www.facebook.com/equilibrium/

Interview with Wildpath

Posted in Interview with tags , , on 14th May 2016 by mickbirchy

Our writer, Mick Birchall had a chat with the members of French progressive-symphonic metal band Wildpath, who played Quinphonic Festival in March. This interview goes into the band’s unique style, their experiences in the music industry and their first time playing to a UK crowd.

Mick: Coming off of this year’s Quinphonic Festival, how did you enjoy your first show in the UK?

Wildpath: It was a great experience! We met the British audience for the first time. They were curious about our music, attentive listeners and very open-minded. The RoadHouse team gave us a warm welcome, and all the organisation of the Quinphonic Festival was perfect! We left with only one thought in mind : We’re coming back as soon as possible!

Mick: You have such a creative sound, mixing a lot of different styles of music together. What influenced you as a band on the whole?

Wildpath: We all listen to different styles of music, and it probably influences our own music. For us, Wildpath should always be able to evolve. We want to have the same pleasure playing our music, and to do so, we think that renewing, experimenting, mixing styles is a good way to never grow tired. Our next album might be pure symphonic metal, as much as an orchestral or electro album.

Mick: Could you tell us a bit about your creative process from musical and lyrical standpoint?

Wildpath: We always like to work around a concept: One story through all the songs, connected with the same atmosphere, dynamics and narration. It helps us to find the ideas and to know how to lead them. However, we don’t want to impose that concept to our listeners, so each song is made as a stand alone, and takes its place in the common thread.

Mick: When it comes to songwriting, can it be difficult when making new songs not to tread the same water as the past?

Wildpath: We always try to break new grounds. For each album we have a new pace to work at. Nyx Secret was made quite like a “Best of” of a very large number of compositions. Non Omnis Moriar was written as a concept album that could be read in many different ways. Our last album, Disclosure was created especially for live shows, and then arranged and orchestrated for its final studio form. We like to work in that way: It’s really rewarding and exciting to take risks at any time in the creative process.

Mick: When it comes to translating playing in the studio to playing live, do you treat the songs any differently?

Wildpath: Yes we do. For our two first albums, we wanted to share different versions on albums and live shows. Live shows demand a specific energy and clarity, while albums must be listenable tirelessly, with many nuances to reward each additional listening. Since Underneath, we tried to combine both as best as possible, so now there is much more of a resemblance. The audience gave us a really good feedback so we kept this mindset for Disclosure.

Mick: Typically speaking of the genre of symphonic metal. I’m a big fan of this type of music and I’m seeing the genre grow all the time. Have you noticed the increase in interest for this music?

Wildpath: It’s a very dynamic style these days and it’s a pleasant thing to see. We are thrilled to hear bands working on new approaches. Since the emergence of the major names of the genre in the nineties, symphonic metal has known a great evolution, mixed with many other genres, which probably explains why it keeps growing and maturing over time.

Mick: So, Wildpath has been around since 2001 and you have 4 studio albums. What would say you have learned from those experiences?

Wildpath: We have learned to do as many things as possible by ourselves. We have quite precised ideas of what we want, so we work as much as possible independently. It’s hard sometimes, but always rewarding. We learn more each time, doing our videoclips, organizing most of our shows, managing all our artistic direction, our communication and our merchandising. It’s a real involvement in time and energy but we’re really happy with these choices, and we thank all of our fans. This is all the more moving to see that our community grows each time we give it out all on every aspect of the project.

Mick: Following that, what advice would you give to newer bands on the scene?

Wildpath: Musicians are becoming more and more independent thanks to less expensive and more versatile home studios, online distribution and community platforms. Although it demands more work because you have to deal with many aspects of the production. It’s a lot of dedication, time, discipline, learning and investments, but music is a job for passionate people, and as long as the passion is here, it’s one of the most beautiful jobs in the world.

Mick: So, what does the future hold for Wildpath right now, any upcoming plans?

Wildpath: We’re planning to keep promoting Disclosure in France, and if we have the opportunity, in Europe. In 2016, we recorded Still: Acoustic Live Experience. With this album, we want to be able to play our music in any place, not necessarily in a concert hall. Several acoustic shows are already planned. We also try to keep Wildpath active on internet, with music on free streaming, and with videos and various bonuses for our community… We’ve just started thinking about the next album by the way!

Mick: What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Wildpath: Disclosure, our last album, was really risk-taking. The style was different compared to our previous albums. We knew the public would have mixed opinions, but even when you’re prepared to that, it’s always a difficult step. We wanted this change and we had confidence in this new direction. We’re happy to see that we’ve touched new people, and that some of them didn’t even listen to symphonic metal before, and also, we kept a large majority of our fans.

Mick: Thank you for taking the time to chat with Valkyrian Music.

Words and Interview by Mick Birchall

Grand Magus – Sword Songs

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 12th May 2016 by mickbirchy

Grand Magus
“Sword Songs”
Heavy Metal
Released: 13 May 2016

via Nuclear Blast Records

The Swedish power trio return with their newest collection of anthemic Viking anthems, Sword Songs.  After their last release Triumph and Power, Grand Magus have done more than enough to get me listening. As that’s when I was first introduced to them.  I have obviously gone back over their discography since then and it’s fair to say that they’re one of my favourites when it come to this music.

The album opens with the roaring “Freja’s Choice” and the expert instrumentation at takes over your senses. The pure intensity doesn’t let go until the final moment of the album. Janne “JB” Christoffersson’s energy is awesome and every lyric is clear. Everything on this album sound huge. This is standard for Grand Magus but their ability to make everything sound epic is outstanding, if not second nature to them at this point.  Sword Songs is a barrage of non stop anthems. One of the bigger one being the lead in single “Varangian”, which is so damn catchy you’ll be humming it for hours after you’ve heard it. This is a testament to the super tight production of the album. Every moment has impact and weight and the album is filled to the brim with imagination and poetry.

It’s definitely an album that rewards repeat listens. I know once I was done with the first play through I wanted it one again. The tight musicianship, the excellent riffs, the thundering bass and beat and the anthemic choruses. It all comes together here and it just hits you like a tonne of bricks.  All of the songs are brilliant but a few personal favourites “Forged in Iron – Crowned in Steel”, “Frost and Fire” and “Stormbringer”. These songs have grabbed my imagination and really keeps pumped.  

The Viking themes are grounded and interesting.  Although this sub-sub-genre is starting to develop very obvious clichés it doesn’t stop it from being very entertaining. The references to battle and Norse mythology always sound fresh and original coming from Grand Magus (as well as bands like Leaves’ Eyes and Amon Amarth). There’s just such a feeling of command and power in these songs, they’re simply too fun to not enjoy.

I love this record. Grand Magus have pulled off another great record and I know this one was short but I don’t have anything bad to say and the music really speaks for itself.  This one get’s a firm recommendation from me.

4.5/5

Mick Birchall

Arise in Chaos – Terminal Cognition

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 11th May 2016 by izaforestspirit

Arise in Chaos
Terminal Cognition
Released 15th July 2016
Groove Metal/American Heavy Metal
Released via EMP Label Group

‘Terminal Cognition’ is the second album from American groove metal band Arise in Chaos. The band was formed back in 2010 and they released their debut album ‘Civilization Decay’ two years later. This latest piece of work was co-produced by David Ellefson (Megadeth) and Ahrue Luster (ex-Machine Head, Ill Nino).

As soon as the opening track Nero starts blasting it’s way through the speakers, it’s clear that this is all about brutality and aggression. Everything from the thrashing guitars to the relentless pounding of the drums has that violent and hostile feel to them. The vocals, or more accurately growls, are fairly similar to the likes of DevilDriver and Lamb of God. Come to think of it, so is the overall style and structure of the music.

The Divine – the first single, acts as a good show-piece demonstrating all the things that you can expect to hear from these guys. It’s a ferocious beast of a song that reminded me of early Machine Head, only with more thrash and melodic death metal tones in the guitars. And the barrage of guitar riffs, shouting and pummeling drums doesn’t stop there. Oh no… It’s full steam ahead all the way for the rest of the album. Even the occasional melodic intro, such as the instrumental part at the start of Violent Colors, is barely enough for the listener to take a few deep breaths before aggressive growling and thrashing guitars. Reflections caught my attention due to the slightly slower pace and the toned-down thrash metal guitar parts towards the end of the song.

Overall, ‘Terminal Cognition’ is an album that I would happily recommend to fans of DevilDriver and Lamb of God. As far as the style and genre classifications go, it’s essentially a mixture of groove metal with the brutality and aggression of thrash metal and some melodic death metal. My only problem with it is that there’s lots of similar sounding bands out there and Arise In Chaos doesn’t really offer anything dramatically new.

3.5/5

Iza Raittila

Marius Tilly – Nebula Rising

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 8th May 2016 by izaforestspirit

Marius Tilly
Nebula Rising
Released 22nd April 2016
Alternative Rock
Released via M.I.G.-Music GmbH

‘Nebula Rising’ is the third album from the German blues rock artist Marius Tilly. His music has been compared to bands such as Robert Plant and Rival Sons. This is a concept album about the universe and outer space. Marius Tilly cites Douglas Adams’s classic science fiction novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and more specifically states that: “The lyrics are a glance on our world from the outer space.”

Kicking off the album is Dinosaur – an uplifting piece of guitar-driven rock that makes you want to get up and dance along to the catchy chorus. Marius has a very distinctive voice which seems to be perfectly suited for both the blues and rock styles. Take Colder Below for example, his vocals adopt a ballad-like, sombre, bluesy tone to match the slower pace and melancholic sound of the guitars. At the opposite end of the spectrum you get the ‘rocking’ and somewhat more cheerful-sounding songs such as Solar Woman – another tune that I could see myself dancing to if I heard it playing at some rock club or bar.

The space theme continues with song titles such as Orion and Revel outer Space. Orion caught my attention due the slightly progressive-sounding instrumental in the second half of the song. Luckily it’s not long until the guitars pick up the pace and the vocals re-emerge marking the return to the album’s predominant style – alternative rock. Slender Man is a bit of an oddity, being the only song on here to feature some distortion in the guitars and the vocals at the start.

In summary, this album offers a variety of different styles all squeezed inside the “alternative rock” pigeonhole. There’s elements of the blues, classic rock and even progressive rock. I enjoyed certain songs more than others but overall the only consistent feature they all have in common is the vocals. There’s too many changes and inconsistencies in the style and structure for me to appreciate the album as a whole.

3/5
Iza Raittila

Dakesis Confirmed As First Co-Headliner at Northern Symphony

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on 8th May 2016 by Nico Davidson

Birmingham’s premier power metal quartet Dakesis have been announced as one of two co-headliners at Northern Symphony 2017, the UK’s premier festival for all things symphonic metal. With the release of A New Dawn and their recent tours last month in both Finland and the UK, Dakesis are set to reach new heights.

Dakesis are a four piece Progressive Power Metal band from Birmingham, UK. Formed in 2008, with the release of a limited edition four track E.P they soon followed on with their debut album Trial By Fire in 2011 to much critical acclaim. Following on from their success of this album and extensive touring and festival appearances throughout the UK, the band went on to record their second full length album The New Dawn which was released in March 2016.

Their latest release was recorded at Carbon Studios in Birmingham and mixed by Nino Laurenne at Sonic Pump Studios based in Finland (Ensiferum, Wintersun, Stratovarious and Firewind) and sees a marked change in the direction of the band. With more progressive influences and the addition of powerfully epic orchestral backing alongside new session keyboard player Jacob Underwood, Dakesis have sculpted a vast instrumental soundscape alongside the heavier metal influences.

The band have toured the UK extensively and have enjoyed prestigious support and festival slots including playing with Edguy, Thunderstone, Blaze Bayley and Pagan’s Mind and performing at Glastonbudget, Bloodstock Open Air 2012, Valkyrian Festival and headlining the Cackblabbath Stage at Wildfire Festival in 2015.

Northern Symphony will take place at The Venue in Selby on Saturday 15th April 2017. Early bird tickets are set at the low price of £4 and are available from either Northern Wynter Music’s BigCartel store or Skiddle.com.

More bands are set to be announced in the coming months.

Dakesis online:
http://dakesis.com
http://facebook.com/dakesis

Sabaton reveal title and artwork for new album

Posted in News, Studio Report with tags , , on 2nd May 2016 by izaforestspirit

The Swedish power metal band Sabaton have recently announced that their new album, the follow-up to ‘Heroes’ will be entitled ‘The Last Stand’. They are currently in the studio working on this latest piece of work with the help of their producer Peter Tägtgren.

‘The Last Stand’ is scheduled to hit the shops worldwide later this summer, on 19th August via Nuclear Blast Records.

You can check out the cover art below:

http://www.sabaton.net/

https://www.facebook.com/sabaton/timeline

 

The Hyena Kill – Atomised

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 2nd May 2016 by mickbirchy

The Hyena Kill
Atomised
Hard rock
Released: 16 May 2016
Via Proud Cow Records

Manchester based rockers, The Hyena Kill have been making waves recently in the UK. They have a reputation as being one of the best live bands on the independent circuit and when you consider the fact that there only two of them it’s all the more impressive.  The band are raw, intense and uncompromising when it comes to their music.With brutal riffs and screamed melodies, The Hyena Kill could well bring in the next generation of hardcore in the UK. Building off of their influences rather than just blatantly copying them, they’re looking to make their mark on the UK rock scene with their debut album Atomised.

The band consists of Steven Dobb (on guitar and vocals) and Lorna Blundell (on Drums) and they share a fantastic chemistry working off of each other in superb fashion, making these raw and, quite frankly, beautiful tones.  It really strikes in your head and leaves an impression. That’s probably the best way to describe this album, striking.  Everything hits you like a tonne of bricks as the aforementioned, uncompromised sound attacks your senses. Everything feels raw like the album was done in one take and you can really feel the raw passion and emotional weight in every song.  From the blistering “Tongue Tied” to the heavy and powerful title track “Atomised”. All of it is just balls to the wall harcore.  Steven’s heavy vocals complement the heavy twang of the guitar and his more subdued voice works for the most part as well, although I’ll admit I’m not a fan of the vocal effect.  It’s quite echoey and can make the overall production feel muddy.

I don’t have much bad to say about the album. Except that the production can be muddy and that really does hurt the album.  Take a listen to the current state of heavy rock records going around at the moment.  Yes, they’re intense and wild but they still have that polish to them that makes them sound like finished products. Whereas The Hyena Kill’s album feels a little…. Well, middle of the road. I’m not say the songs are bad.  The concepts are there and it’s clear that they are very talented songwriters but the presentation of this album feels quite messy. Overall it’s a mixed bag of sounds that definitely grabbed my attention, but doesn’t hold it all that well.  Which is why it’s taken me two weeks to write this review.  The album wasn’t holding my attention for very long and I found myself moving on to the plethora of other music I have to look at.

If you particularly follow the UK independent rock scene and like the raw intensity, you may like, or even love this.  However, for me it just lacks that polish and flair to keep me coming back for more.

2.5/5

Mick Birchall