Archive for August, 2016

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.

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Sabaton – The Last Stand

Posted in CD, Metal 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 CD, Rock 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