Archive for January, 2019

At The Gates and Behemoth live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal with tags , , , , , on 31st January 2019 by izaforestspirit

Wolves In The Throne Room, At The Gates, Behemoth
Pakkahuone, Tampere, Finland
30th January 2019

My first gig of 2019! I have been waiting for a long time for a chance to see Behemoth again. The last time I saw them live was Tuska Open Air 2012 on their first tour shortly after their front-man Nergal’s recovery from leukemia. I have kept up to date with all their releases and news and last year I could not believe my luck when I discovered that they are coming to my home town.

The venue was sold out on the night and the there was already a sizable crowd right from the start. I could not really get into the first band – Wolves In The Throne Room. Their sound can be described as a mixture of atmospheric black metal and dark ambient. Some of the songs they played were incredibly slow and more ambient than black metal. While this kind of music might be fine to listen to at home, it’s not really something that I want to hear live 2.5/5

I guess that most people who are into melodic death metal are familiar with At The Gates. They are after all one of the forefathers of the genre with some genre-defining releases to boot. This was not the first time that I have seen them live and I hope that it will not be my last. They had a few issues with their performances. First, their vocalist Tomas got the name of the city wrong, a minor mistake which he spent the rest of the night apologizing for. The other issue they had turned out to be more serious – a broken drum set.


It took some time to fix the problem but luckily they managed to sort it out in time to play a few more songs. A very good show overall despite the setbacks. 4/5

Finally came the moment I have been waiting seven years for. Behemoth started their set a little later than planned but it was definitely worth the extra time. They had an impressive amount of visuals and various props all contributing to a wonderful performance. They played some of the hits such as ‘Decade of Therion’(my personal favourite), ‘Chant For Eschaton 2000’, ‘Slaves Shall Serve’, ‘Lucifer’ along with lots of songs from the new album including ‘Bartzabel’ and ‘Wolves of Siberia. What a fantastic show! It was even better than the last time that I saw them live. 5/5

In summary, the only band I did not enjoy watching live was Wolves In The Throne Room. It was a little too slow for my liking. At The Gates managed to overcome their technical problem and put on a great show. Behemoth were everything that I hoped for and more. I absolutely loved their show. This was their first time in Tampere and I really hope that they came back again in the future.

Iza Raittila

 

Equaleft – We Defy

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 27th January 2019 by Pieni

Equaleft
“We Defy”
Groove metal
Release: 1st February 2019
Via Raising Legends

wedefy

Equaleft are labelled – even by themselves – as “groove metal”, but their sound has always been too exquisite to be defined by just two words; but since we had to go for something, given the intense throb of said sound, “groovy” is a good broad definition as any. Now “We Defy” lives up to its name and keeps pushing the envelope, but I still won’t dare coming up with a new label.

I will say, though, that the somberness has reached a new level. The very first song on the album, for instance. If prog-doom isn’t a thing yet, “Before Sunrise” could be its genesis. But then again, there’s a certain… glow in its musicality, making it sound sad but not depressing, so I guess not so doom-ish after all.

In “Once Upon A Failure” there’s this heaviness and rawness that mingle oh-so-well with the ominous echoes of its melodic chorus, while the enthralling solo, by the hands of Sullen guitar player, André Ribeiro, gives off such a vibrant darkness. The title-track’s is even more mesmerizing, as the heaviness in “Fragments” is bolder – they all have something in common and something unique which, in the end, makes us recognize it as Equaleft.

There are two other guests but none of them performing vocal parts, even though in songs such as “Endless” or “Strive” you may wonder if it’s really Miguel Inglês singing. Trust me, it is. Many people don’t know, and those who do often forget, that Miguel used to sing in a gothic/doom band (Mysterium) and that this lower, deeper pitch is very much his and fits perfectly in the darker direction some parts of this new album have taken.

It’s not even about maturity, as the previous “Adapt & Survive” was already a pretty seasoned work. It’s simply moving forward and achieving greatness once again.

[On an additional note, their former guitarist Nuno “Veggy” Cramês takes the lead on “Realign” while the third aforementioned guest is José Pedro Gonçalinho, who plays a killer sax on the revamped “Uncover The Masks” (originally featured on the 2010 EP “… The Truth Vnravels”).]

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Blood Times – On A Mission

Posted in Metal with tags , , , on 26th January 2019 by izaforestspirit

Bloody Times
On A Mission
Released 11th January 2019
Heavy Metal
Self-Released

Bloody Times - On a Mission

‘On A Mission’ is the second album from the German heavy metal band Bloody Times. The band started as a solo project of bassist Simon Pfundstein back in 2014. He was later joined by two former members of Iced Earth, drummer Raphael Saini and vocalist John Greedy. This album also features guest performances from various heavy metal musicians including Ross Friedman aka Ross the Boss (ex-Manowar).

The first thing that struck me when listening to this album was how much it reminded me of old Iced Earth. Luckily I happen to like old Iced Earth, so it’s good to hear John Greedy behind the mike again. The mid-paced opening track Alliance is one of the more melodic songs on here. I guess that this was meant to be some sort of classic metal ballad and as such it works reasonably well. I just wish that they would have omitted the progressive, ponderous and slow guitar parts mid-way through the song. It’s not the best start to the album but luckily what follows is the energetic, thrash metal style Fort Sumter– easily my favourite song on here due to excellent guitar work and powerful vocals. Now that’s more like it! If only this track was the first one….

Die In A Hole also has that thrash metal vibe to it; it is more varied in pace, not quite as fast ‘Fort Sumter’ but not too slow either. There is a good range of guitar riffs and Mr. Greedy manages to find the right balance between low pitched shouting and clean vocals to match the tone of the music. I also like the reworked version of Curse of Genevieve. What lets this album down is a short track called The Warning (Until Blood Boils pt.1) which falls under the category of what I commonly refer to as “filler”. I honestly do not know what I found more irritating, the strange vocal effects or the ultra dull-sounding, doom metal style guitar riffs plodding along in the background. Time to skip this. Next! Luckily the part 2 marks a return to the fast and aggressive heavy metal.

Overall, despite its flaws, ‘On A Mission’ is a good heavy metal album which I would recommend to fans of old Iced Earth.

3.5/5
Iza Raittila

Joakem – Mind Matter

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 26th January 2019 by mickbirchy

Joakem

Mind Matter

Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal

Released 7th December 2018

Self Released

It’s been a hot minute since took a listen to anything from the heavy metal community beyond the UK, so I feel it’s about time to rectify that. The Cyprus based progressive metal musician, Joakem has recently released his debut album Mind Matter and from the first moments of the album, I liked the sound. Musically the album is a blend of complex melodies and time signatures, heavy synth sounds, rough guitars, intricate and precise drum patterns and a blend of different vocal styles. It immediately leaves its impact on you and since the sound is so distinctive, you can quickly make up your own mind on whether it sticks with you or not. The album was recorded/mixed by Chris Charalambides at “Soundscape Studios” and mastered by 3x Latin Grammy-nominated, Alex Psaroudakis at “Alex Psaroudakis Mastering” in New York. So, you can bet the album packs that punch.

The album is certainly a gripping listen. The production is top-notch, with a great mix of all the instrumentation with Joakem’s vocals standing out. The complex and diverse rhythm patterns keep you hooked as you can never really guess where the song is going to go next. Also, the great balance of blasting synths and heavy guitars work well together. It comes together quite nicely and works for the range of styles that this album tries to tackle. Each song feels like a different sub-genre of rock and metal and no matter the style it still feels natural and the records keeps flowing. From all-out prog-metal to alt-rock and even some post-grunge elements work their way on to the album and it’s strange but all of the pieces work together and each song complement, as well as contrasts, with the previous.

Joakem’s vocals are indeed diverse as he manages to be competent in a variety of vocal techniques. I prefer his clean vocals over his guttural singing but that’s just me. I generally prefer clean vocals in music. It’s difficult to point at an element that lets the album down in a great way. I will say, that if you’re not into progressive music with changing time signatures and musical styles then this really isn’t the album for you. That’s sort of the let down for me, although it’s impressive, I prefer music to remain in a consistent style throughout. The high-points of the album are the more alt-rock and post-grunge style songs where he maintains more consistency, such as the opening track “A Peaceful Place” and the closing track “Departure”. However, I do think there is a happy medium for any fan of rock and metal.

Definitely an impressive and solid effort from an interesting artist. I would be more than happy to keep paying attention to him for future releases. Mind Matter is a decent record with a lot of positive aspects to it. It’s not something I would play all of the time, but if I’m in the right mood this is something I would consider putting on. If you’re interested in genre-mixing artists that break from normal convention, then Joakem might be up your alley.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Bring Me The Horizon – amo

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , on 22nd January 2019 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Bring Me The Horizon
amo
Released January 2019
Hard Rock/ Electro-rock
Released via Sony Music/RCA Records

01-343969

Hailing from God’s Own County of Yorkshire, Bring Me The Horizon return to the forefront with their latest album, amo. With an ever changing sound, Bring Me The Horizon have become one of the biggest acts to come from South Yorkshire, gaining themselves admirers and haters from all across the globe.

I Apologise If You Feel Something starts up the album with a hypnotic electronic medley and soft, almost-choir like vocals that build up to the electro-rock vibes of Mantra. Mantra has plenty of hooks to keep the listener engaged, as well as energetic riffs and some very memorable vocal lines. Nihilist comes in strong with a dark pulsing rhythm, and catchy melodies. The softer vocal duet between Sykes and Grimes suit the track well, dancing elegantly with the lashing synths and shadowy beats.

In The Dark stands out with its laid back pace and notably fetching riffs. Wonderful Life is one of the singles from the album. The track itself is interesting but doesn’t sound as strong as the rest of the album. Sykes’ are admirable throughout the track and stand out more than the guest vocals of Dani Filth. Ouch acts as interlude between the last track and the next one, appearing more as a chaotic whirlpool of differing beats with the odd vocal section thrown in.

Medicine bounces back from the previous two tracks, with medleys and riffs that one can quite easily dance to. Sugar is a track that employs satisfying hooks and active vocals that meld almost perfectly with the rhythm section. Why You Gotta Kick me When I’m Down sounds almost like a hip hop track due to the mesmerising beats and whippings of electronic sections but the vocals show that it is very  much a Bring Me The Horizon track.

Fresh Bruises has an emotive atmosphere radiating from its introduction before the spellbinding electro-like percussion kicks in, carrying the otherworldly vocal sections. The keyboard passages in Mother Tongue stand out valiantly, weaving all other parts of the song together into a majestic composition. Heavy Metal is an interesting song all on its own, turning heavy with synth-laden movements and vocal duets from Sykes and Rahzel.

amo finishes on a very orchestral orientated note with I Don’t Know What To Say, contrasting the grandoise sound of classical instruments with soothing vocals, acoustic guitar, and hints of electronic influences.

amo makes it clear that Bring Me The Horizon are still on top of their game, blending different styles into their music. While it might be as heavy or as aggressive as their older albums, it shows how far the band have come since their early days, and it clearly demonstrates the band’s versatility and talent.

4.5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

More details about the new TYR album

Posted in Metal, Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , on 18th January 2019 by izaforestspirit

It’s been six years since their previous effort ‘Valkyrja’… Now the Faroese progressive folk metal band TYR have announced that their new album will be called ‘Hel’ and it is scheduled to be released on 8th March 2019 via Metal Blade Records.

You can see the cover-art and tracklisting below:

1. Gates of Hel
2. All Heroes Fall
3. Ragnars Kvæði
4. Garmr
5. Sunset Shore
6. Downhill Drunk
7. Empire of the North
8. Far from the Worries of the World
9. King of Time
10. Fire and Flame
11. Against the Gods
12. Songs of War
13. Alvur Kongur

In the meantime here is a preview of one of the new tracks:

For more information go to:

http://www.tyr.fo

https://www.facebook.com/tyrband

Belle Morte – Game On

Posted in Metal with tags , on 15th January 2019 by izaforestspirit

Belle Morte
Game On
Released 11th April 2018
Gothic Metal / Symphonic Metal
Self-Released

Belle Morte - Game On
‘Game On’ is the first EP from the Belorussian Gothic metal artist Belle Morte. This one-woman project was launched in 2015 and all her music is available for streaming and download from the Bandcamp page.

Female-fronted Gothic metal bands are a dime in a dozen these days. It almost seems that everyone wants to become the next Nightwish. Well, not quite everyone. If you’re looking for another Nightwish clone with over-the-top symphonic, Disney soundtrack -style tunes, operatic vocals under the guise of a metal band you have come to the wrong place… Belle Morte has a very melodic, ethereal voice but is not quite as powerful as that of Tarja Turunen or Floor Jansen. So forget the Nightwish comparisons. Her vocal style is more like that of Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation).

The one thing that I enjoyed most about this EP was the keyboards, the sombre sounds of the cello and violin sandwiched neatly between the guitars and drumming. It is impressive just how well all this works together. Devilish Deal is the most prominent example of this. The instrumental arrangements are absolutely beautiful as are the vocals.

Overall, the only issue I have with this EP is that it is too short. ‘Game On’ offers four tracks of beautifully arranged and skillfully executed Gothic/symphonic metal. I cannot wait to hear a full album.

4/5

Iza Raittila