Archive for August, 2016

Aktaion – The Parade Of Nature

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 29th August 2016 by Pieni

Aktaion
“The Parade Of Nature”
melodic death metal
Self-released on 29th July 2016

 photo AktaiontheParadeOfNature_zpsuprfeldd.jpg

“The Parade Of Nature”, Aktaion’s sophomore album, is said to be for “fans of Soilwork, Killswitch Engage, Gojira – which I find quite misleading. “Candid Flow Of The Shrapnel Dust” has indeed a whiff of Gojira but it soon vanishes away; it’s mostly the melodic part in “melodic death metal” that’s far too gloomy – almost depressive – that make the aforementioned recommendation unfit. It doesn’t mean fans of those bands won’t like this, of course, but they wouldn’t be the first, or even the second target audience to come to my mind.

I’m having really mixed feelings about this. The technical guitar structure (like in “Gold Coloured Dreams”), with Christopher Amott throwing in some killer solos in a few songs (listen to the title track), all the experiments with the vocals – both clean and rough (“Walrus March”) – plus the occasional almost-prog shifts in tempo and the long duration of the tracks, all these features scream originality, which I always praise. But somehow the final outcome is messy. Maybe that’s Aktaion’s goal, as these songs are meant to reflect “a time with no hope nor a bright future” – and that they surely do.

3/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Voodoo Highway – Pervert County

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 27th August 2016 by izaforestspirit

Voodoo Highway
Pervert County EP
Released: 1st June 2016
Classic Rock/Hard Rock
Self-Released

‘Pervert County’ is the new EP from the Italian hard rockers Voodoo Highway. The band have released two albums prior to this; ‘Broken Uncle’s Inn’ and the critically acclaimed ‘Showdown’ which I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. This release is available from the band’s Bandcamp page as a free download.

Well, I’m not sure what to make of the cover or the title for that matter. It’s hard to know what to expect from the words “pervert county” and a very plump-looking pig on the front cover. Let’s just hope that the music is better or at least less confusing.

This particular EP is rather short with only three tracks, so I will do my best to say something about each of them. First up is NY Dancer starting with a slow, bluesy guitar riff before gradually picking up the pace and revealing its true nature as a good, old school hard rock tune. It’s great to see that the vocalist hasn’t lost his edge either. The single and the track that they made a video for, Grace of the Lord is very much guitar-driven offering a good mix of catchy rocking style with the occasional groove guitar melodies. Last but certainly not least is my favourite, Tears of a Brand New Sea, a very cheerful, classic rock song marking the end to what has been a very enjoyable EP.

Overall, all I can say is “don’t let the cover or the title put you off”. The music is actually pretty good. I’d happily recommend this to fans of classic rock and hard rock. So far, so good – I’m looking forward to the new album.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Twilight Force – Heroes of Mighty Magic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 26th August 2016 by mickbirchy

Twilight Force
Heroes of Mighty Magic
Power Metal
Released 26 August 2016
via Nuclear Blast

This is one spectacular album to try and sum up, but I’ll try my best. Twilight Force bring us their second offering in the form of, Heroes of Mighty Magic. With shades of Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia, Sonata Arctica and DragonForce, Twilight Force have crafted an epic and bold album that completely plays to their strengths. It’s ultimately a fun record that has the right balance of dignified quality and having that sense of fun. I’m not a fan of when power metal bands take themselves too seriously.

The album covers the usual topics that you would expect – mythical warfare, questing and just your usual dungeons and dragons template lyrics. You know, all that good stuff. So not a tonne different in this department. It still works though, without getting tiring. Vocalist, Chrileon just sells what he’s singing with such conviction that it’s hard to think he’s from another dimension.  The production does everything to make him sound awesome and when the choir comes in on the choral parts it really gets you going.

The music is really good as well, don’t think that I’d forgotten. Not only is the metal instrumentation excellent with belting guitar solos and well incorporated synths. When the orchestral instruments swell around the songs it just makes them so much more epic. Seriously there isn’t a dead spot on the entire record. Everything in the production truly comes together to make an entertaining epic. I also have to briefly mention how good the album art is. The design is amazing and the colours just leap out at you. The artist Kerem Beyit has really crafted something beautiful and imaginative

Overall. Wow, just simply wow. This album took (and is continuing to take) my breath away. It’s entertaining in all the right ways. I’ve not wanted to put this album down since the first listen.

5/5

Mick Birchall

HEAVY SCOTLAND announce first bands

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 26th August 2016 by mickbirchy


Brand new heavy metal festival HEAVY SCOTLAND is delighted to announce its first wave of bands for its debut year, to be held in Edinburgh between the 1st-2nd April 2017.

Announced already are the first headliners, melodic death metal legends Arch Enemy; plus acclaimed brutal death metal band Sodomized Cadaver; resurgent death metal favourites Dyscarnate and Scottish thrashers Disposable. Plenty more huge bands to come so stay tuned.

Early bird tickets are now available to purchase from here, for only £70: http://www.ticketor.com/heavyscotland

VIP ticket bundles are available but already close to selling out so get yours while you can!

Set to be the biggest and best new festival dedicated to all things dark, heavy, and vicious, Heavy Scotland is borne out of a love of metal. Aimed at supporting a famously dedicated metal scene but until now without a big festival, Heavy Scotland looks set to put Scotland on the map.

With accommodation options, more bands, and ticket options to announce, Heavy Scotland is already on the way to becoming the surprise festival success of 2017.

For more information:

https://www.facebook.com/heavyscotland
http://www.heavyscotland.com/
https://www.twitter.com/heavyscotland

New video and new album news from Exist Immortal

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , , on 24th August 2016 by izaforestspirit

It’s been a busy year for the London based British metal band Exist Immortal. They have just announced that their second album ‘Breathe’ will be released on 28th October 2016.

You can check out the track-listing below:

1. Saviour
2. In Hindsight
3. Invisible Lines
4. Misconduct
5. Follow Alone
6. Erode
7. Escape
8. Lucid
9. Breathe
10. Release
11. Chi

In addition to this they have just released a video for  ‘Follow Alone’- the first single from the new album . Here is the video:

 

Exist Immortal have just finished their tour of The U.K. but European fans can still catch them live at Euroblast Festival in Cologne, Germany on 2nd October 2016.

For more information check out:

 https://www.facebook.com/existimmortal/

http://existimmortal.bandcamp.com/

 

 

Equilibrium – Armageddon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 24th August 2016 by mickbirchy

Equilibrium
Armageddon
Folk Metal, Symphonic Black Metal
Released 12 August 2016
via Nuclear Blast

Equilibrium’s fifth album, Armageddon is everything that you want out of them. It’s big and bold. It hit’s really hard and gets you going. You will have to understand, going into this album, that I’m relatively new to their work and have only looked up them quite recently. Coming into this review I was completely blown away by the sheer scale of the album. Every part of the production is massive in delivery and even manages to have its fun jaunty moments. All of the songs are good and the writing really shines, even if I did have to look up some of the lyrics online.

The part of this album that I feel lets it down slightly is where is mushes the sounds together to get this muddied sound that’s a little too reliant on the guitars’ distortion. I feel this bogs the sound down somewhat and the guttural vocals aren’t helping. So what you get is this heavy mess of distorted noise. What saves it is the symphonic elements. The big orchestra sound really pulls the album together and gives the songs context. Along with the folk instrumentation, it highlights how fun and exciting Equilibrium are. In fact my favourite parts of the album are just the instrumental parts where there are no vocals.

For me personally Equilibrium’s Armageddon is a mixed goody bag. There are odd thing in it that’s just disappointing and I just don’t really like. Then you have the good moments that I find really impressive and interesting. I do feel the good outweighs the bad, as there is a lot of instrumental sections that have that epic quality to them. Overall I do enjoy this album and it definitely made me curious to check out their older material, so I can recommend it as a jumping on point for their music. It’s intricate enough and has a strong enough sound that you’ll want to listen to it a few times.

3.5/5

Mick Bichall

Helstar – Vampiro

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 18th August 2016 by izaforestspirit

Helstar
Vampiro
Released 26th August 2016
Heavy Metal/Power Metal with Speed Metal elements
Released EMP Label Group

 Helstar are veterans of the American heavy metal scene. The band was originally formed back in the early ’80s and they have released a number of albums including the critically acclaimed ‘Nosferatu.’ Their latest opus ‘Vampiro’ sees them return to the vampire theme with more tales of Dracula and other blood-suckers.

First they lure you in with a deceptively melodic intro to Awaken the Darkness – an eerie tale of Gothic horror brought to you with the aid some thrashing guitar riffs and high-pitched vocals. So that was the bait and now the real hunt begins. For what follows is Blood Lust – a much faster song with pummeling drums and aggressive guitar melodies reminiscent of the band’s early days back when they played speed metal. As for the vocals, singer James Rivera has an impressive range which incorporates all of the following: the clean, story-telling variety akin to the likes of Dio and Iron Maiden, the high-pitched style and the somewhat less pleasant screams.

From The Pulpit to The Pit is a slightly more complex track; featuring a progressive-style bass and drumming intro followed by some viciously fast guitar riffage and more pummeling drums. Yet it’s not all just thrashing and pummeling, this song also has some melodic parts to it, which are mostly audible in the guitars. Then there’s the Repent in Fire – a catchy power metal song packed with playful guitar riffs and powerful vocals which reminded me of Iron Maiden at times.

Overall, it’s great to see a band that’s been around for so long who can still produce something new and exciting. Rather than taking a stab in the dark in an attempt to produce something different or experimental; they have stayed true to their roots. ‘Vampiro’ is classic Helstar but with a new, modern spin on it.

4/5

Iza Raittila

VOA Fest 2016 – 2nd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12th August 2016 by Pieni

Kreator, Paradise Lost, Abbath, Schammasch, Equaleft, Soldier
Quinta da Marialva, Corroios (PT)
6th August 2016
Promoted by Prime Artists and PEV Entertainment

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This year saw a new start for Vagos Open Air, now simply known by its acronym VOA – new partnership among the promoters, new venue in a new city… The quality? Same as always. Of course all these changes brought along a lot of complaints (humans…), which I don’t see relevant to talk about; but regarding five out of the twelve bands being “recidivists” in the festival, I will say something. Sure, we live in a little country in the most Southwestern corner of Europe where it’s not always easy for an international band to reach – meaning the list of well-known names that never played here is endless and yes, it would be nice to shorten that list through a fest. But at the same time… if the band’s good, what’s so wrong about seeing it a dozen times? Hell, this was my 10th time seeing Paradise Lost and I loved it!
I’m not sure if this new place is smaller than the previous one. At first glance it seems so, as it’s definitely shorter in length. But it’s considerably larger in width, so… What really matters is that the stage was placed inside a natural amphitheater, surrounded by small hills, and if that prevented the wind to ease up the unholy heat (it’s been said this is the hottest summer since 1931), it also didn’t let the sound wander off beyond the festival zone.

13435327_1189167444435631_4832768569027046350_nBack to its original 2-day format, I sadly could only attend the second day. From what I’ve heard, Dark Oath did pretty well as the opening act. Not in front of the biggest crowd, but everybody knows how unfair playing first can be; still, it seems that a fair share of people enjoyed the symphonic/melodic death metal the national band had to offer, introducing the debut full-length “When Fire Engulfs The Earth”.
Italians Adimiron followed next and apparently also focused just on their latest release “Timelapse” (or so it says on setlist.fm). I confess I had never heard of them before, even if they’ve been around since 1999. Apparently, the same happened with most of the crowd, although eventually they surrendered to the band’s sound and performance.
Mantar’s “Ode To The Flame” has received a good feedback but the duo’s live performance not so much. Or maybe their fusion of black-doom-sludge-rock isn’t the right one for a festival, especially in day light. But then again, so shouldn’t be the depressive metal of Katatonia (I know I’ve seen them live in broad daylight a few years back and didn’t like it, despite being fond enough of the band) but I haven’t heard one single bad comment about the Swede’s performance – by the contrary! But I guess Katatonia will always be Katatonia. Played a few songs from the latest “The Fall Of Hearts” along a bunch of older hits.
When Anathema got on stage it was already dark. They haven’t released anything new in two years, but they’ve got a very special place in the hearts of our metal community – always had, not since Daniel Cardoso joined their ranks. So it’s only natural that I also heard only good things about their gig.
Finally, Opeth. I remember the last time I’ve seen them, precisely at this festival, two years ago, the show was pretty disappointed for the majority of the fans, as the band seemed uninspired. They made up for it now. The title-track of their upcoming album has been rolling on Youtube for over a week but they didn’t play it, sticking to the older stuff their fans love the most.

010Now the second day, that I actually witnessed. I arrived around 15:20, the “Blackhearts” documentary was still playing on the video walls. There were a few people watching it but not many – I’ve mentioned the heat already, haven’t I?
In previous editions, the first band of each day was always Portuguese, so having a Spanish opening act was a first – thrashers Soldier did the honors. VOA is part of their “The Great Western Oligarchy tour 2016”, named after their latest album. Solid riffing, a clear invitation to headbanging, to which the crowd – once again, not that big at that early hour – took pleasure in oblige. Not much talking between songs, as there was only half an hour to play, but one could see how pleased they were for being there, given the constant funny faces and broad smiles. Happy and nice bunch of people, I believe, and competent musicians. “Revolt”, from the debut “Gas Powered Jesus”, closed their set.

www.facebook.com/soldierband

040Equaleft was up next and the national underground could hardly be better represented. I can’t find the right words to express how proud I am for them and their achievements in these past years. After opening for Gojira last month (see here), I believe playing in a fest like this was one of the few milestones they had to reach yet on Portuguese soil and now it’s done. Go Equaleft!
The follow-up to “Adapt & Survive” is in the making but nothing ready to be shared yet, so they focused on their acclaimed debut. It’s “Maniac” now that closes their sets, not “Invigorate” anymore, but this hit still features singer Miguel, a.k.a. Jedi Mig, wielding a light saber. Soldier’s thrash was entitled to some mosh circles, but it was Equaleft’s groove that made “the dust rise up from the ground”, as I heard someone say.

www.facebook.com/equaleft

057The promo pic of Schammasch on the festival page shows us four guys in bare upper-bodies. I bet they regretted deeply not going on stage like that – 34ᵒC is “a bit” too much to wear long robes. Singer/guitarist C.S.R., with black paint on his face and hands and whose robe included a hood, was probably who suffered the most, even if he barely moved throughout the whole gig. He even admitted at some point that it was “boiling” up there. So kudos for their resistance.
The music itself deserves some applause too, even if their avant-garde black metal cut down the adrenaline that both previous bands rose up. Still, mainly songs from their latest “Triangle” and at least one off “Contradiction” (“Golden Light”, if I’m not mistaken) were cheered by the crowd.

www.facebook.com/SCHAMMASCH

078It’s always hard to distinguish a solo artist from a band when the latter is named after said artist – and even so when most of the setlist is comprised of songs the artist played with previous projects. That’s what happened with Abbath. With a 75-minute slot, I understand that even if he/they had played the only released album in full, there would still be plenty of time to kill. But playing four Abbath songs among one of I and six of Immortal… I know they’re not seen exactly as covers by the fans, especially when they were thrilled to listen to “Nebular Ravens Winter” (this one’s even recorded in “Abbath”, the album) and “Tyrants” and “All Shall Fall”, but it still felt weird. Apart from the weirdness, it was super. Black metal lovers were offered a great show of the genre – even if the sun was still high up – and those who didn’t like it particularly could always enjoy Abbath and bassist King’s “evil” faces.

www.facebook.com/abbathband

083As aforementioned, Paradise Lost made my day. Nick Holmes acknowledged the “beautiful new venue” of the fest and said how good it was to be back. And with such a rich and diverse setlist, I doubt someone didn’t feel the same way about their return. From recent songs like “No Hope In Sight” to tracks from “a time when most of you weren’t even born” like “Rapture”, we revisited some of Paradise Lost’s highlights through time.
While drinking Super Bock, probably Portugal’s most popular beer, Nick mentioned its alcohol content – 5,6 % – and said that such beer would be banned in the U.K. because it could turn them into animals. When he associated it with football, the laughter was even louder.
As co-headliners, they could afford an encore, which happened after “Say Just Words” – by the way, from the same album they also played the title-track “One Second” that, according to Nick, they hadn’t played in a while (I checked and apparently the last had been two months prior). ”Flesh From Bone” was one of the four songs of said encore, its death-doom nature – so old-school PL in such a recent song – leading Nick to say “it feels like the last 25 years never happened”. “The Last Time” wrapped it up and I really, really hope this was far from the last time that I’ve seen them.

www.facebook.com/paradiselostofficial

114When entering the photo-pit for Kreator we were advised to stay somewhat away from the stage during the first song – “Enemy Of God”, as it turned out – so we were hoping for some fireworks. Imagine our disappointment when it was just confetti… Oh well. On the other hand, I’m glad it wasn’t anything dangerous, as staying away meant closer to the barriers and that was nearly impossible – the mosh and crowdsurf began with practically the first riff and the security guys needed space to attend to all of them enthusiastic metalheads. Mille Petrozza did ask more than once for circles and screams “Portuguese style” but he really didn’t need to – he was already getting that from the start.
I hadn’t realized until now that their last studio album was already four years old (review here). But worry not – Mille said they were working on the follow-up to “Phantom Antichrist” and that it should be out next year. The reception of this news was loud, but when Mille said he wanted to come back as headliners of their own tour, the crowd’s roar was thunderous. Say what you will about thrash and all these “dinosaurs” like Kreator doing the same thing over and over – legends are legends and will always be welcomed.
VOA experienced “Extreme Aggression” in a “Violent Revolution” brought up by “Hordes Of Chaos” filled with “Pleasure To Kill”, and this year’s edition finished with the “Flag Of Hate” raised by a “Betrayer”. Looking forward for next year’s experiences!

www.facebook.com/KreatorOfficial

A special thanks to the promoters, to Raising Legends and Equaleft for the ride and Mosher Clothing for keeping an eye on my stuff and letting me enjoy the shade of their merch stand.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Full gallery on our Facebook page here.

Sabaton – The Last Stand

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 8th August 2016 by izaforestspirit

Sabaton
The Last Stand
Released 19th August 2016
Power Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

Sabaton doesn’t need much of an introduction. Since the turn of the millennium, the Swedish group have been entertaining us with their historically themed, highly catchy power metal and energetic live shows. Their concerts are always great to watch; however the same cannot be said about their albums. Whilst they haven’t produced any complete garbage thus far, some of the albums are less memorable than others. As for which is their best effort, that varies depending on who you ask… Personally I’m a huge fan of the concept album ‘Carolus Rex’, which I believe is an absolute masterpiece and their best work to date. The follow-up ‘Heroes’ had its moments but it never matched the same level of excellence. This brings us to their latest effort ‘The Last Stand’, a concept album which tells stories of eleven defensive “last stand” battles.

Each song focuses on a different battle from various historical events ranging from ancient Greece, medieval Scotland, the two World Wars to Japan at the time of the samurais. So that’s the themes explained, now let’s talk about the actual music… The bombastic and “epic”-sounding Sparta has all the features you would have hoped to hear from an opening track. The ultra-catchy keyboard tunes, epic chanting and cries of “Sparta!” and “Hellas!” in the chorus is enough to make you want put on some armour and run down the nearest hill to attack. Oh wait, hold your horses! Before you start your charge you might want to stick around and listen to what else is on here…

Is that bagpipes I hear? Oh yes!! Bagpipes, a hammond organ, heavy metal and cries of “rally all the clans” along with references to The Scottish Revolution. These are all the things that make Blood of Bannockburn one of the best tracks on the album. Another song that caught my attention was Shiroyama mostly due to the chorus and references to the “the last stand of the Samurai”. I don’t know much about the Japanese history, but I’ve always found the samurai culture intriguing and after hearing this song actually decided to do some research about this battle. Arigatō Sabaton!

So those were my choice cuts, now about the rest of the album… Well, sadly there’s a few tracks on here that sound oddly familiar. Take Winged Hussars for instance, the entire structure, everything from the sing-along-narrative, the keyboards, the guitar riffs to the chorus, is very similar to another song with reference to Polish history – Uprising from the ‘Coat of Arms’ album. Then there’s The Lost Battalion which sounds like an leftover from the ‘Heroes’ album.

Overall it’s a decent effort but there’s quite a bit of recycled ideas here. The stories are all unique but some of the music is a case of Sabaton playing it safe and creating something that’s very similar to what they have done before. It’s as if someone took the best tracks from ‘The Art of War’, ‘Coat of Arms’ and ‘Heroes’, stuck them all in a blender and poured the results into new frames. I’ve been there, done that, I won’t be buying the t-shirt but I’ll probably get the album for Sparta, Blood of Bannockburn and Shiroyama.

3.5/5

Iza Raittila

Christopher Shayne – Turning Stones

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 5th August 2016 by mickbirchy

Christopher Shayne
“Turning Stones”
Southern Rock
Release: 12 August 2016
Via Redlyne Records

I was taken back a little when I first heard the rip-roaring sound of Christopher Shayne and his band.  The southern tones resonate with you almost automatically and Chris’s mature yet intense songwriting is fantastic to listen to. Chris, is one of the big musical driving forces behind southern rock band Whisky Six, who have been around for a while and have built up a lot of momentum after breaking out of Phoenix, Arizona. Now with Christopher Shayne’s debut album Turning Stones is one hell of a southern rock ride with a classic rock vibe that will keep you entertained and is very rewarding to repeat listens. Trust me on that I’ve been listening to this since the middle of June.  

Listening to this reminded me of the southern hard rock I loved as a kid i.e. Drowning Pool, Tantric, Saliva etc. Which immediately scored this album point in my book because I still love this type of music.  The heavy distortion mixing with the clean mid range tones, the roaring guitars and the great bass grooves make this a compelling and enjoyable album.  Tunes like Rock Show and the lead in single Give A Damn get you pumped. Also the album has it’s mellow moments like with the track “When I Come Down”.  So the album has a lot of range to it and can be enjoyed by harcore rock fans and casual radio listeners alike.  The album is filled with heartfelt and and powerful songwriting where Christopher Shayne shows his talent and passion for music.

Overall, this album is fantastic.  I tried to find fault but I personally can’t.  It’s fun and creative in all the right ways.  I was immediately hooked by the sound.  I guess if you’re not into southern rock or country-esk rock music then I’d say maybe it isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking to take a chance on something then I highly recommend Christopher Shayne.  Turning Stones is an exciting album filled to the brim with great riffs, insightful lyrics and fun rock tunes.  This maybe my favourite discovery of 2016.

5/5

Mick Birchall