Archive for November, 2016

Klaus Schulze – Another Green Mile

Posted in CD, Experimental, Instrumental with tags , , on 30th November 2016 by izaforestspirit

Klaus Schulze
Another Green Mile
Released 30th November 2016
Experimental Electronica, Ambient
Released via M.I.G. (Made in Germany) Music

Another Green Mile’ was originally released back in 2002 as a part of a very limited edition and long out-of-print 5CD box set known as ‘Contemporary Works vol. I & II’ by the German electronic artist Klaus Schulze (ex- Tangerine Dream). This is a re-issued version of that album featuring the bonus track ‘Voice’n’Harmony’ (which was originally released on ‘Contemporary Works II’ CD 10 – ‘Adds & Edits’.

The music on here is primary instrumental comprising a mixture of acoustic instruments: an oboe, a cello, a guitar and the electronic, ambient sounds of a synthesizer. There are three vocalized tracks: In The Streets, in the Rain, The Story Does Unfold and Vox’n’Harmony; all featuring operatic-style vocals from Julia Messenger. Her beautiful singing is precisely the reason why these songs caught my attention. Her range is very versatile, comfortably hitting the high notes as well as the more mellowed-down, tranquil whispers to match the speed of the music. The complete absence of the lyrics means that the vocals’ sole purpose is to convey emotion and add emphasis to the ambient music.

All the songs have this serene and atmospheric quality creating a calming effect on the listener. This this the kind of music that you might encounter at an art gallery or a lounge. The instruments, especially the synthesizer and the cello, have this sombre yet strangely soothing tone to them. I just wish that the performance itself was a bit more energetic. This just sounds like a soundtrack to an Sunday afternoon stroll in the park.

Overall, ‘Another Green Mile’ is a very atmospheric and tranquil ambient album. Some might find this type of music relaxing but personally I found it challenging to adjust to the slow pace. It’s all very melodic and emotional but ultimately it is quite purposefully low on energy.

3/5
Iza Raittila

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Metallica – Hardwired… to Self-Destruct

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 25th November 2016 by mickbirchy

Metallica

Hardwired… To Self-Destruct

Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal

Released: 18 November 2016

via Blackened Records

So, it’s been 8 long years of buildup and hype. For many metal fans though, some trepidation. As Metallica don’t have a sparkling reputation for album releases. In my opinion, they haven’t made a solid album since “The Black Album”. I mean they’ve had the odd decent tune here and there. They just haven’t made a solid full album. So this album, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct was met with a lot of ears. How is it?…. It’s good. I’m not going to say great but it’s good. I think the whole thing is really damn good and definitely their best work in a long time. I guess it was too much to expect them to release a full on thrash album. Then again I don’t think they needed to.

The album sounds great. The production is sharp and they sound tight. Particularly on the title track ‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’ and on ‘Atlas, Rise’. The riffs are nice and they actually sound somewhat like Metallica. Weird, I know. Through both discs they’re pretty damn consistent. With a well composed and well arranged sound. It feels like someone took the time to put it together. I like the experimentation with other types of metal too. Ok, they’re not going crazy with this album, they’re playing it pretty safe, still it’s nice to hear.

Saying that though. I do feel that this album plods along at points. Never enough to get boring but it does feel a little long winded. This is way more apparent on disc two. Which feels like Metallica are overstaying their welcome. There are some nice riffs though, like the opening to ‘Confusion’ and I quite like the last song ‘Spit Out The Bone’ it was a good way to cap off the album. So hey not all bad there.

So, yeah Metallica are back. I’m not going to say this is a return to form. However, it is a solid album, and that’s all I really wanted from them. Just something that I can play and have a little fun with. Hardwired… works quite nicely. It’s got some brilliant songs, excellent guitar solos and it sounds like Metallica actually wanted to make this album. Which makes this a good album in my books.

3/5

Mick Birchall

As Lions reveal details about their new album

Posted in Metal, Misc., News, Rock, Studio Report with tags , on 23rd November 2016 by izaforestspirit

Good news for fans of the British hard rock band As Lions. This year witnessed the release of the band’s first EP ‘Aftermath’ and now they are happy to announce that their debut album will be out in early 2017. Their debut album will be entitled ‘Selfish Age’.

You can check out the artwork and the track-listing below:

1.     Aftermath
2.     The Suffering
3.     Bury My Dead
4.     Deathless 
5.     Selfish Age
6.     White Flags
7.     Pieces
8.     World On Fire
9.     One By One
10.  The Fall
11.  The Great Escape

Here is a short teaser video of what is to come:

‘Selfish Age’ is scheduled to hit the shops on 20th January via Better Noise Records.

For more information visit:

http://aslionsband.com/

Inquisition live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal with tags , , , on 20th November 2016 by izaforestspirit

Korgonthurus, Inquisition
Klubi, Tampere, Finland
19th November 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a black metal gig. The last two were in the summer when I saw Baptism and Barathrum live at a festival. I’ve seen a fair few of black metal shows in the past; only a handful of which were memorable in any way. Lately it’s been mostly the local black metal acts such as Horna and Barathrum that tour here, most of whom I’ve seen live before. So a foreign black metal band such as Inquisition is a rare treat since they do not tour Finland very often.

The venue was still filling up when the support act Korgonthurus started their set. I was actually pleasantly surprised as to how melodic they sounded as I was expecting some ultra harsh and raw black metal. Instead, this sounded more like old Horna. Only later did I discover that two of the band members including the singer used to play in Horna for several years. It was a good start to the night and it was definitely much better than I expected. 3.5/5

Inquisition drew in a sizable crowd. Unlike the previous band they started off rather slow, picking up the pace as the show went on. I’m not familiar with their latest albums but I did recognize one of the older songs ‘Dark Mutilation Rites’. It was good to see that they haven’t changed their style over the years. The new material has the same thrash metal tones in the guitar riffs mixed with a dark atmosphere and Dagon’s ghastly-sounding croaky vocals. The drumming was so accurate and perfectly timed that there was no need for any bass. Very impressive performance from this black metal duo. 4/5

Overall this was a good night and I’m glad that I got to see Inquisition live. Korgonthurus turned out to be better than I expected. This was one of the better black metal gigs that I’ve been to and it would be great to watch more shows like this in the future.

Iza Raittila

Heaven Below – Good Morning Apocalypse

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , on 13th November 2016 by izaforestspirit

Heaven Below

Good Morning Apocalypse

Released 14th October 2016

Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal

Released EMP Label Group

‘Good Morning Apocalypse’ is the third album from the Los Angeles -based, American hard rock band Heaven Below. The band was formed back in 2008 by singer Patrick Kennison (Union Underground) and Marty O’Brien (Disturbed, We Are the Fallen). After two albums, various line-up changes and extensive touring, Heaven Below began to work on what has been described as the “most ambitious” album of their career – Good Morning Apocalypse. This is a concept album about a modern day Dr. Faust and his dealings with the devil. It features guest appearances from Udo Dirkschneider (U.D.O., Accept), Kobra Paige (Kobra and the Lotus), Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, Broken Teeth, Watchtower) and Lita Ford.

As with any concept album, if you want to find out more about the story then I suggest that you check out the band’s website or read the song lyrics. That’s precisely what I did and I can say that the story itself is worth reading but I’m not going to talk about it here. After all, this isn’t a book review… So let’s discuss the music instead.

Now, I’ not particularly fond of the term “epic” since it’s grossly overused and it has essentially become a fancy way of describing something larger than life with very little meaning. In this case however, I can’t think of a better way to sum up the overall feel of the opening track Nefarious Angels feat. Jason McMaster — an epic and passionate heavy metal song with explosive guitar tunes and catchy choruses. A great way to start an album. Renegade Protest Movement has the atmosphere of a rebellion in the works with a simple call to action “come, join the Renegade Protest Movement!” It is like a forceful and aggressive blow that hits you right in the face. Ready or not, here it comes!

Devilina And The Damage Done (feat. Kobra Paige) caught my attention as one of the more melodic tracks on here. Kennison’s duet with Kobra Paige adds an extra dimension to the song giving it a somewhat softer feel without losing any of the power in the vocals. For those who prefer a more aggressive style then Killing The Deadman is the song for you – a straightforward yet highly effective onslaught of guitar riffs and compelling vocals with a very brief melodic interlude towards the latter half of the track. And let’s not forget Udo Dirkschneider’s appearance on Black Sunrise/War of The Gods, which transforms the song giving it a more dynamic feel.

In summary ‘Good Morning Apocalypse’ is a multi-faceted and complex album which mixes traditional heavy metal with elements of both modern and classic hard rock. Each one of the guest musicians leaves his or her own mark on the music. Heaven Below have created a winning formula of powerful vocals, catchy choruses and skillfully executed guitar melodies.

4/5
Iza Raittila

 

Civil War – The Last Full Measure

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 10th November 2016 by mickbirchy

Civil War
The Last Full Measure
Power Metal, Heavy Metal
Released: 04 November 2016
via Napalm Records

My God, this has been a great year for power metal. It’s been awhile since I’ve listened to Civil War, they’re a band that I’ve seen live and I think they’re a lot of fun. Mixing the traditional power metal formula with other musical ideas to make a new tone. So  when I heard there was a new album on the way I was quite interesting. I’ve like their previous work so hopefully the new record The Last Full Measure works.

Well I like this one. It’s definitely their sound. That heavy handed power metal with a noticeable twang that brands their signature. The grooves and riffs are fun and build to their respective choruses. These are usually pretty grandiose. The sheer presence that these guys have it great. Everything is full force, the songs don’t such worm their way in as the band beat the melodies in. Songs like A Tale That Should Never Be Told and Tombstone are brilliant tracks. They definitely hook in listeners for a fun ride. I can imagine getting pretty hyped during these songs at a concert.  

Although I have praised this album it has a few shortcomings. I will admit as much as I like some of the songs, this album was such a chore to get through. The album plateaus in intensity and there a lot of moments where I should be getting amped. Yet, I never get true satisfaction as the song has lost the luster. Gangs Of New York has this problem. I want to just love it but I get bored quite easily.

This isn’t the best album. With the slew of great power metal this year. This album just gets lost in the shuffle and in my opinion doesn’t do enough to dig itself out. There are some great songs but the album as a whole is just OK. I’d recommend it if you’re interested. If you’re looking for something massive an album experience that sticks with you. Then maybe look somewhere else. It’s OK.

2.5/5

Mick Birchall

In Flames – Battles

Posted in Metal with tags , , , , , on 10th November 2016 by Pieni

In Flames
“Battles”
Melodic death metal
Released: 11th November 2016
Via Nuclear Blast

 photo battles_zpsc8tejepy.jpg

When “Siren Charms” was released a couple of years ago, I complained about “its lack of ability to embrace my senses and leave a positive remark” (review here). Well I’m happy to say that ability has returned. Not that “Battles” is a masterpiece, but it features some memorable tweaks, in both ear-worm and impressive meanings of the word.

I remember a lot of people complaining when Anders Fridén gave up on growling. I wasn’t one of them not only because I appreciate Fridén’s current tone but also because I don’t think that measures a band’s level of heaviness – listen to all those pop-metal acts with a growler and you’ll know what I mean. Plus, the desperate inflection his voice carries is just as brutal; the opener “Drained” will prove me right.

Still on a vocal analysis, but the teen choir’s in “The End” and the ballad “Here Until Forever”. I’m a sucker for gang backing vocals, but the cheer of this 2.0 version of it has been growing on me; it’s just as catchy and it will have a hell of an effect live, as I doubt anyone will be able not to sing along. That and the march-wise clapping hands in “The Truth”.

There’s a loud guitar work in here as well, but that has never been an issue for In Flames, so it’s really no surprise. Still I’d like to mention “Underneath My Skin” and the 2-minute dark, almost experimental instrumental piece featured in “Wallflower”. Oh, and the seduction of “In My Room” – no sexual pun intended. It just gives away this enthralling vibe.

So again, no, this isn’t In Flames best work, but it definitely has its moments – lots of them.

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino