Archive for May, 2016

Dead By Wednesday – Darkest of Angels

Posted in Metal 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 CD, Industrial, Metal 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 Metal, 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 CD, Metal 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 Metal 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 CD, Rock 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