Archive for January, 2017

Evil Scarecrow w/ Supports – Manchester, UK

Posted in Gig, Live on 31st January 2017 by mickbirchy

Evil Scarecrow, Dog Tired, The Empty Page
The Ruby Lounge, Manchester (UK)
27th January 2017

img_1009

God, it’s been awhile since I’ve had this much fun.  I’ve woken up with a sore neck and a ringing in my ear.  Yup, it must have been a good one! Evil Scarecrow are one of those bands that just pull in great crowds, regardless of where they are. However, the Manchester audience were on fire.  The Ruby Lounge was packed to the brim with mad hatter metal heads ready for a great show.  

img_0796The Empty Page

img_0808The rock n roll trio hit the stage with booming bass and a grungy, garage band style sound.  For the most part they were really enjoyable with an “all guns blazing” attitude they certainly caught my attention. The guitar roared into life as the drum work framed everything out really nicely. The band were really at their best when they were unruly and wild. They had this old style college rock sound that suited me very well and I really enjoyed.  Although the singer did hit some bum notes here and there.  Not enough to make the set weak or anything, but very noticeable with the quieter moments of the set. The simplicity of their songs was their biggest strength.  Nothing overly complicated just all-out rock and roll. I really liked it, Definitely worth checking out.

img_0890Dog Tired

The Scottish metallers were up next and boy did I enjoy them.  There’s something to be said for a band that near-deafens you, yet the first thing you do after the set is over is head to the merchandise stand and buy their music. Right from the start the energy and intensity emanating from them was so infectious you couldn’t help but love them. The riffs were consistent, the bass filled out the sound wonderfully, the drums were like gunshots. Just leave it to front-man, Chris Thomson to completely sell the performance, he was immediately captivating and interesting to watch. The band came across as so humble to the Manchester crowd, the glee in their faces when the crowd was screaming on through the performance and asking for more. Dog Tired, looked like they were having a blast which just made the performance so much more enjoyable. I was completely blown away and as I sit here writing this review, their album “It Came From The Sea” is on full blast. Genuinely, one to check out.img_0902

img_0975Evil Scarecrow

img_0971Now, one to the reason everyone came out on a dismal Manchester Friday night. The modern masters of performance metal. In support of the new single “Hurricanado”, the band comes on to The Scorpions classic “Rock You Like A Hurricane (nado)”, pretty sure that’s how it goes…  The Nottingham five piece launch into a mind-meltingly good set with their theatrics integrated to make for, yet another, great set. I think the blend of heavy metal, sci-fi and horror tropes mix really nicely.  Like any popular act they have the familiar staples to chew threw and they did so with expertise and obviously the crowd went into a frenzy for them.  The sold-out crowd created an amazing atmosphere and the participation was wonderful.  The sound was well balanced with every member sounding brilliant.  Truly, nothing compares to an Evil Scarecrow set. The connection they have with their fans is excellent.  Every time you see them you’re guaranteed a great stage show and a great set full of dancing, laughing and fun. One super fun night.

Text by Mick Birchall
Photos by Laura Piggford

Social Stain – Social Stain

Posted in Review with tags , , on 30th January 2017 by izaforestspirit

Social Stain
Social Stain
Released 13th January 2017
Hard Rock
Self-Released

‘Social Stain’ is the debut album from the Finnish hard rock band of the same name. The band was formed in 2014 by bassist Toni Broman and their sound is heavily influenced by ’90s hard rock and metal bands including Alice in Chains, Guns’N’Roses and mid-career (The Black Album/Load-era) Metallica.

We’re off to a good start with the first two tracks Breakout and Dead Man Talking paving the way towards what promises to be an action-packed joyride fueled by catchy guitar tunes and “sing along with your hands in the air” hard rock vocals. The Metallica influence is fairly easy to detect – both the guitars and the vocals have that Load-era Metallica vibe. Vocalist Teemu Kokkonen also likes to add the occasional “yeah!” to some of the songs, though nowhere near as often as Mr. Hetfield does. Social Stain have a fairly relaxed, rock’n’roll/punk attitude with the emphasis being more on having a good time rather creating any complex structures or dark and profound lyrics.

Then just when you think you have figured out what Social Stain are all about, they suddenly decide to slow down the pace and deliver a slower ballad, At Peace. This song proves that if you look past the easy going, punky attitude, you will discover that these four guys are skilled musicians who are totally committed to bringing you the best hard rock album that they can offer. But don’t worry if ballads aren’t your thing, just move on to the next song for more catchy, guitar driven hard rock tunes including the title track.

In summary, Social Stain clearly like their ’90s -style hard rock – denim, leather, beer, motorbikes etc. Yet there is nothing vintage about their music. Whilst this debut album definitely has that playful feel to it, it is also very well composed and performed. What’s great about it is there are no real filler tracks on here.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Sabaton w/ guests – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 28th January 2017 by Pieni

Sabaton, Accept, Twilight Force
Coliseu, Porto (PT)
20th January 2017
Promoted by Prime Artists

00000518-copy

“The Last Tour” – named after the album “The Last Stand”, not after some early desire of retirement – hit Porto at one of its biggest and renowned venues. A bit bold, as it turned out. True, the last time Sabaton played here, Hard Club sold out its 1000-person capacity, but Coliseu holds six times that number. On the other hand, with the background videowall and all the apparatus, Hard Club’s stage wouldn’t have been big enough.

dsc_0080-copy

dsc_0014-copyThe name Twilight Force hinted of power metal, and the dragon in the backdrop brought a positive certainty, even before the fast, chirpy melodies flooded the halls. A strange mix but they’re from Falun too and Chrileon was even Sabaton’s live backup singer back in the day (and rumor has it that the Spartans in the Sabaton song are played by four of them but I haven’t been able to confirm it) so from a friendship point of view, a fantasy power metal band opening for a militant heavy metal one makes perfect sense.
Chrileon got on stage wielding a sword to the sound of “Battle Of Arcane Might”. I don’t think many people knew them, but their high-spirits were contagious and soon everybody was riding along their “adventurous metal”. Funny blokes too, always teasing each other with a smile on their faces. “Gates Of Glory” was particularly welcomed by the crowd but the whole show left a positive mark.

dsc_0179-copy

www.facebook.com/twilightforce/

00000122-copy

00000196-copyThe “Generation Clash” – song they sadly didn’t play – went wild the moment Christopher Williams stood behind the drums screaming in salute. We have a saying in Portugal that goes something like “old are the rags”, meaning that “old” is a word that shouldn’t be applied to people, and the youthful attitude that Wolf Hoffmann & Co. put on that night could as well be the incarnation of such saying. From recent tracks like “Stampede” and “Stalingrad” to classics such as “Princess Of The Dawn” and the mandatory “Metal Heart” and “Balls To The Wall”, there wasn’t a single moment where “age” meant nothing more than “experience”. The synced headbanging and guitar hero poses, which I usually find so cliche, just felt right this time. I guess it all depends on who’s bringing the cliches to life after all. My heart was full.

00000351-copy

www.facebook.com/accepttheband/

00000426-copyEven though I was happy to see the old schoolers getting off their couches to support Accept, I was sad to see many of them leave and not give a chance to Sabaton. Well, their loss – as usual, the Swedes kicked ass. Even if I appreciated the 2014 gig more, their performance skills are unquestionable.
00000433-copyThey’ve been using their cover of Status Quo “In The Army Now” as intro since the beginning of the tour, so it’s not in memory of the Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt, who died last Christmas Eve. But it was a beautiful coincidence, and nice change – as much as I love Europe’s “The Final Countdown”.
Besides the powerful songs – “Ghost Division”, “Carolus Rex”, “Primo Victoria”, “To Hell And Back”, just to name a few – and their lively presence, their good humor and empathy towards the public are just as popular. When the show was halfway through, a roadie brought a keyboard and Joakim reminded us (well, informed, as some may not know the origins of the band) that he started out as Sabaton’s keyboard player. But when he started playing Van Halen’s “Jump” it became clear he wasn’t going to resume the role that night. Chris Rörland claimed that Tommy Johansson really knew how to play piano and to prove so, the new guitarist played a little of Beethoven’s “Für Elise”. From there, he engaged on their own “The Final Solution”, in a beautiful acoustic version.

00000466-copy

Later on, someone would throw a horned helmet with the Swedish colors that Joakim put on, saying that he probably looked like a “palhaço”. That’s Portuguese for clown, and the whole venue burst out laughing. And in the end, he tied a Portuguese flag on his back, like a cape, super-hero style, wondering if his super power would be being the best football player in the world. Great musicians, great performers and funny – what more could one ask from a metal show?

www.facebook.com/sabaton/

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Kreator – Gods Of Violence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 24th January 2017 by Pieni

Kreator
“Gods Of Violence”
thrash metal
Released: 27th January 2017
Via Nuclear Blast Records

godsofviolence_zps28ifmxs8

“Gods Of Violence” or how to make the same thing and still sound fabulous.

When “Phantom Antichrist” was released, I used keywords such as technique, melody and elaborate guitars; now, almost five years later, the same words pop up in my mind. Yet it doesn’t leave a taste of repetitiveness but of… familiarity.

Living up to its name, “Apocalypticon” is an epic promise of war, a promise that starts being fulfilled right afterwards, with the fierceness of “World War Now”. Some sharp melody in-between makes it both classic and classy.

“Satan Is Real” is the other side of the coin – still belligerent, still menacing, but the rhythm is more grinding than shredding. There’s even some symphonic elements here and there to emphasize the throbs.

“Totalitarian Terror” is something I’ll love to hear live, a thrash hymn, with a catchy, sing-along chorus.

Okay, I admit some of the acoustic chords of the title-track are a subtle reminder of Metallica’s “Fade To Black”, but the rest of the song is very Kreator-like and another strong candidate to a live favorite.

The spunky spirit of “Army Of Storms”, the force of “Hail To The Hordes”, the mischief of “Lion With Eagle Wings”, the militant “Fallen Brother”, that weeping solo of “Side By Side”, “Death Becomes My Light” brings over a little more semi-acoustic moments – these not similar to any other band’s – before galloping away at full speed… Kreator are able of pulling out sophisticated tweaks off their sleeves, delivering exactly what is expected of them, both as a thrash metal band and as a veteran, professional act.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Behemoth’s Nergal launches dark folk side-project Me And That Man

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , , , , , on 20th January 2017 by izaforestspirit

The Behemoth frontman Nergal has recently formed a new side-project with rock musician John Porter. The project is called Me And That Man and it is completely different from Nergal’s main band.

There are no metal elements, instead Me And That Man is more akin to the works of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave. Dark folk is the best description that I can think of.

The duo are currently working on their debut album ‘Songs of Love and Death’, which is scheduled to hit the shops on 24th March 2017 via Cooking Vinyl.

In the meantime you can check out their first video here:

For more information about the project visit:

https://www.facebook.com/meandthatman/?fref=ts

http://www.meandthatman.com/

Destruction live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , on 18th January 2017 by izaforestspirit

Gonoreas, Nervosa, Destruction
Klubi, Tampere, Finland
17th January 2017

My first gig of 2017! I opted for some thrash metal this time. Old school German thrash metal to be precise…I have technically seen Destruction live before, a long time ago at a festival in a small town in Spain during my year abroad as a student. Now, a decade later I got the opportunity to see them live again this time in Tampere.

First up was a Swiss heavy/power metal band called Gonoreas. The crowd was still gathering when these guys started their set but it didn’t take them long to agitate the audience and even get a small mosh-pit going. At one point their singer came off the stage and he started wreaking all sorts of havoc, encouraging people to move. It was a good way to start the night. 4/5



I had no idea what to expect from the Brazilian thrash metal trio Nervosa. They are an all-girl band and they really know how to rock. Their style is essentially old-school thrash metal, similar to the headlining act. Brutal, fast and highly entertaining. So brutal it actually reminded me of death metal at times. I definitely need to check out some of their music. 5/5

Thrash metal is one of the best metal sub-genres to see live. Destruction are veterans of the thrash metal scene and they sure know how to put on a great show. I’m not too familiar with their latest album ‘Under Attack’ and so I was glad that they also played some of their older material such as ‘The Butcher Strikes Back’, ‘Nailed to the Cross’ along with a few classics from the start of their career. It was a great performance, even better than the first time that I saw them live. 5/5

In summary this was a great way to spend what would have otherwise been an uneventful Tuesday night. I really enjoyed Nervosa and Destruction are always entertaining to watch. What a great start to the year!

Iza Raittila

Dio, Lemmy and others to be inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , , , , on 16th January 2017 by izaforestspirit

The very first Hall of Heavy Metal History awards gala and induction ceremony will be held at the Anaheim Expo Center in Anaheim, California, USA on this Wednesday (January 18th 2017).

The following artists have been nominated for the induction:

Ronnie James Dio, (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio)


Lemmy Kilmister, (Motörhead)

Randy Rhoads, (Ozzy Osbourne)

Vinny Appice ( ex-Black Sabbath and Dio)

Ross “The Boss” Friedman, (ex- Manowar)

Scorpions

Don Airey  (Deep Purple)

Metal Blade Records (With Brian Slagel accepting the induction)

Rudy Sarzo (ex-Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake)

and others.

There will also be some live music during the ceremony with a variety of bands including Dio Disciples, Ross “The Boss” and Mike LePond.

The money raised by the event will be donated to Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund.

For more details about this event visit:

https://www.thehallofheavymetalhistory.org/

 

 

As Lions – Selfish Age

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 15th January 2017 by mickbirchy

Artist: As Lions

Album: Selfish Age

Genre: Rock

Released: 20 January 2017

via Eleven Seven Music

 

I’ll admit I was a fan of the past project of Austin Dickinson, Rise To Remain.  I thought they were a fun group. Austin always came across as a competent and energetic front man. Every time I saw him live he did everything keep the show moving at a good pace and kept the crowd involved. I’ll admit I’ve not taken that much notice of his new band As Lions. So, when I saw the new album was up for a review, I thought that it might be worth checking out. I’ve heard bad things here and there but I’m going to listen to this album with fresh ears and relay some thought.

Selfish Age, for the most part is a pretty average album. I wouldn’t say bad, as they’re not doing anything wrong. There are nice melodies. The singing is clear and in tune, and there are flashes of inspiration here and there. Yet, there isn’t a point that I became invested in the album or what they’re singing about. Save for a few tunes that did stick with me a little. I just feel that this album could be much better.  The guitars feel watered down a touch and all the songs have this really processed feel to them. It feels like a pop-rock album that wants to be treated like a heavy metal album and it doesn’t work like that. All the songs just meld together into one melody at times. Seriously, on certain play-throughs they do just mash up together.

I’ve been bad mouthing this album a little too much. There are good songs on the record. In fact, there are moments that I really enjoyed myself. Austin Dickinson’s vocals are absolutely brilliant. He brings so much emotion and finesse to the album. He oozes with charisma and brings a lot of energy. I like some of the tunes and some of the choruses are rather ear-wormy. It does come together at times. Although, it does come off as a little bland for my taste.

I liked it and I’m sure that they’ll have their fans. Though lyrics are powerful and deep with a strong focus on the problems of the current day. The production is a little flat and it feels washed out. It could have been so much more than what it is. If it was more full force rock, with more of a crunch to the guitar tone, it could have really work. Yet, as is it’s just an okay album. Not amazing but not terrible either. Just meh.

3/ 5

Mick Birchall

Ann My Guard – Ourania

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 14th January 2017 by izaforestspirit

Ann My Guard
Ourania
Released 13th January 2017
Melodic Metal/ Alternative Rock
Released via Rock’N’Growl Records

‘Ourania’ is the second album from the Hungarian metal band Ann My Guard. The band was formed in 2007 by singer-bassist Eszter Anna Baumann-Toth. The singer has described their new album as “mixing the ethereal feminine vocals with heavy guitar riffs and dark melodies”. I am not very fond the term “female-fronted metal” so I’ve decided to classify this as melodic metal for the purpose of this review.

Based on the album titles, there seems to be a fair few references to mythology, most notably Greek in songs such as ‘Callisto’ and ‘Hekate’. Let’s talk about Callisto first, shall we? It’s a very melodic track that really highlights Eszter Anna Baumann’s vocal skills. Now I have a better understanding what she meant by the “ethereal” vocals, for her voice has a certain celestial or dare I say it nymph/siren-like quality to it. I’ll probably just stick with the nymph analogy as references to “heaven” or “angels” do not seem to fit here. The vocals and the playful guitar riffs make this track one of the most catchy on the album. You could definitely picture yourself dancing along to this tune. Obsidian Tears caught my attention as one of the more ‘metal-sounding’, guitar-driven tracks on here. The guitars seem to act as a contrast, representing Ann My Guard’s harsher, heavier side while the vocals symbolize the melodic, more ‘innocent’ side. Then there is Hekate – a really well executed mix of heavy metal guitars, the aforementioned ethereal vocals with the sombre sounds of a string quartet.

Overall, listening to ‘Ourania’ has been a pleasant and somewhat uplifting experience. It’s refreshing to hear a new band with a female singer who isn’t trying to join the already rather full club of Nightwish-wannabes playing the same symphonic/Gothic metal with their best attempt at operatic vocals. Ann My Guard actually reminded me more of the early works of Evanescence and to some extent folk metal bands such as Dalriada.

4/5

Iza Raittila

20 years of “Diva” – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 14th January 2017 by Pieni

Heavenwood, La Chanson Noire
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
30th December 2016
Promoted by Raising Legends

Heavenwood’s debut album “Diva” was released on the 27th of August in 1996. I won’t say it feels like yesterday but it certainly doesn’t feel like 20 years ago either. “They went by quickly”, to quote singer Ernesto Guerra.

 photo DSC_0371 copy_zpsrh02pci9.jpg

Carlos Monteiro, a.k.a. Charles Sangnoir, and his one-man project La Chanson Noire was invited to open up the night. I was surprised with the choice, but then again, after seeing thrashcore and prog-rock acts playing with Heavenwood before, the “bleak pop” of La Chanson Noire made perfect sense. A piano backed up by some samples and a single voice, playing satirical “cabaret goth” songs. A weird mix, yes, but that’s what makes it interesting. The crowd preferred to stay back, but they were clearly enjoying themselves to songs such as “Familia Chantilly” (chantilly family) or “O Bordel de Lúcifer” (Lucifer’s brothel) – the latter even played by request, although it would surely be played later on.

 photo DSC_0007 copy_zpsatlduytq.jpg

www.facebook.com/chansonnoire

 photo DSC_0357_zpsr2v3xeqj.jpg

Any proper anniversary show includes the celebratory album performed in full and “Diva” was no different. Hmm… no, that’s not right. I mean, they did play the whole album, in the same order as the studio version, but the feeling they put on it wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen by them. Well, in Vagos it was really close, but let’s face it – nothing like a debut album released 20 years ago to make things a lot more special. It’s funny how I hadn’t heard some of those songs in ages and still knew the lyrics word by word. Ah, the power of good music.

 photo DSC_0535 copy_zpsqaqrcfb6.jpg

At some point, Ernesto thanked everybody for their presence and also the past members who helped making that record – Zé, Mário, João and Bruno – and also thr.e one member who departed way too early but is always on their minds, Rui Santos (R.I.P.). Last but not least, roadie and jack-of-all-trades Paulo Magalhães. It felt really good to hear all those names acknowledged out loud, after all these years.

 photo DSC_0644 copy_zps99yi7jb9.jpgAfter the stellar performance of “Diva” the band left the stage to return moments later with “The Arcadia Order”. 2016 also saw the birth of “The Tarot Of The Bohemians” and its songs were the ones the crowd knew the lyrics best, but the enthusiasm was equal, no matter which track/album. Blame Zeus-Sandra couldn’t make her usual appearance at “The High Priestess”, and in no way would I ever discredit her, but Ernesto singing her parts sounded quite exotic and the song got a new dynamic. It was one of those nights when nothing went wrong.

 photo DSC_0084 copy_zpsdx3c6s3v.jpg

www.facebook.com/HeavenwoodOfficial

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Blutzukker calls it a day

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , on 11th January 2017 by izaforestspirit

The German musician Ben Blutzukker has recently announced the decision to end his horror themed dark electro project Blutzukker. This news comes just a month after the dark electro project released their greatest hits collection via their Bandcamp page.

The artist has decided to focus all his efforts on his solo heavy metal project Ben Blutzukker. He has also added that he is currently working on some new material for Ben Blutzukker which will be influenced by bands such as The Vision Bleak, Abbath and Cradle of Filth.

 

More details about Ben Blutzukker coming soon. In the meantime, fans of his dark electro project can enjoy the band’s last video here:

For more information visit:

https://www.facebook.com/blutzukker/

http://ben.blutzukker.com/

https://blutzukker.bandcamp.com/music

EARTHBREAKER – Voice of the Voiceless

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 11th January 2017 by Nico Davidson

EARTH BREAKER
Voice of the Voiceless
Hardcore/Metal/’Ullcore
Self-Released: November 2016

a2784817356_16

Hull – Otherwise known as the City of Culture – has a lot going on for it, especially in the music scene, which is where a promising young band known as Earthbreaker are currently making makes and lots of noise. Having only been around for just over a year, this melodic metal quintet have already made their presence felt – and heard – in North England.

Voice of the Voiceless opens straight up with the powerful and memorable track The Vipers Nest, which features an energetic and tenacious breakdown and some bestial vocal work. Family follows up almost seductively, with its overwhelming assault of guitars and differing and unique vocal sounds.

Misanthropy is a melodic track which is as catchy as the common cold but that doesn’t stop it from being heavier than an elephant’s arse. The guitars are heavy-duty, paving a path of broken bones whilst the rhythm sections lay down the gritty foundations. Whereas Deathwish brings a more emotive but just as unyielding sound to Voice of the Voiceless.

The EP finishes on Psychosis, with its enchanting dance between the guitars, bass and drums, making it a good track to finish on.

Voice of the Voiceless demonstrates Earthbreaker‘s well-founded sound in a way that leaves the listener wanting more and shows that this young quintet can go toe-to-toe in the pit with some of the heavy hitters on the scene.

4.5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Forbidden Lore – Forbidden Lore EP

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 6th January 2017 by izaforestspirit

Forbidden Lore
Forbidden Lore EP
Released 13th October 2016
Symphonic Metal
Self-Released


‘Forbidden Lore’ is the first EP from the Greek symphonic metal band of the same name. Forbidden Lore describe their style since as a mixture of symphonic metal with progressive metal and soundtrack music.

There are only three tracks on here, which is just about enough for the listener to get an idea of what this band is all about. First up is the melodic Endless Run which definitely has that fantasy soundtrack feel to it. Nightwish and Epica comparisons are pretty much inevitable due to the melodic female vocals (please note that “melodic” in this case doesn’t mean “operatic”). Luckily Georgia Mavrantza has a good voice which suits the music. There are some progressive elements audible in the guitars. Shadows on Ice is a much more straightforward piece of symphonic metal with equal emphasis on both the vocals and the orchestration. There is only a small portion of the song that features the progressive guitar parts. Last one is Grace In Our Fall, which really brings out the high notes in the vocal department demonstrating the singer’s impressive range. This is probably the most symphonic, orchestral and the most fantasy soundtrack -esque song on the EP.

In summary, it’s difficult to judge a band based on just three tracks. I now have a better understanding of what Forbidden Lore are trying to be. Their music can be described as being metal in the same vein as the more established bands Epica and Nightwish. So if you like these then there is a very good chance that you will enjoy Forbidden Lore.

3/5

Iza Raittila