Archive for January, 2021

Immortal Guardian – Psychosomatic

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 24th January 2021 by Mickelrath

Immortal Guardian
Psychosomatic
Power Metal, Progressive Metal
Released: 21st February
Via M-Theory

Oh man, I needed something like this right about now. This is the long awaiting second album from the epic power metallers, Immortal Guardian. I was genuinely blown away from the very first moments of this album. It’s certainly a really positive way to kick off my 2021. The band started the recording in early 2020 and would continue to update and add to it over the year, eventually scrapping the original theme and creating something completely new. This album truly is a product of 2020. At least that blasted year gave us something as powerful and as entertaining as this record. Psychosomatic has this real infectious energy to it and you can truly feel the passion, time and effort that went into this. Let me say this right now, I really appreciate this band and everything they put into this record. 

From a production standpoint, it sounds awesome. The music has this real polished tone to it. Everything feels clean and stands out. With each piece of instrumentation shining on its own but also it comes together to become something much bigger and bolder. The glistening guitar work is complemented by the twinkling keyboard and it’s all made bold by the strong bass and drum combination which gives the music that booming presence. Then you have the vocal performance which is so stellar and site right on top of the already impressive music. It’s power metal done right. If you want a powerful listening experience that grabs you and keeps you hooked in then I don’t think you can go far wrong here. It reminds me of Tobias Sammet albums, epic but also consistently engaging. 

Like I said earlier the band threw away the original concept they had planned for this record and started again. Well, you can tell that this was written in a worldwide pandemic. Not only do you have the song “Lockdown”, which is literally about the global lockdown but other lyrical moments of this record give you a real gut punch. Songs like “Read Between The Lines”, “Self Isolation” and “Phobia” have a surreal quality to them that really capture that feeling of dread, despair and the harsh reality we found ourselves in. At the same time, they manage to balance that out with themes of hope and optimism with “Find a Reason” and “New Day Rising”. 

This is an enigmatic and engaging album that really kept my attention. Immortal Guardian definitely has my attention. I even looked up their previous album Age of Revolution and I will admit that they are legitimately impressive. They craft songs that get stuck in your head and make you want to get up and move. This was quite a nice surprise to start 2021 with.

8/10

Mick Birchall

Therion – Leviathan

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 23rd January 2021 by Pieni

Therion
“Leviathan”
Symphonic metal
Released: 22nd January 2021
Via Nuclear Blast

Therion - Leviathan

Not sure what Christofer Johnsson meant with “giving the people what they kept asking for”, but it worked. Rumor has it they’ve analysed their most played songs on Spotify and inspired the new ones on those, but I honestly can’t see a direct connection between any except that they all sound like Therion. For instance, has the spunky rock rhythm of “The Leaf On The Oak Of Far”, mingled with symphonic choirs, the band’s old school vibe? Sure it has, but it’s not like you can say it’s a “To Mega Therion 2.0”.

There are a couple of songs that could be featured in a soundtrack of some Tolkien-style movie given the enchantment their melodies carry: the ballad “Die Wellen der Zeit” and the not-quite-a-ballad-but-just-as-graceful “Nocturnal Light”. Despite the German title of the first, only the chorus is sung in that language, just like you won’t hear that much Spanish in the catchy “El Primer Sol”. On the other hand, the only Finnish traits on the striking “Tuonela” besides the title are Marko Hietala on vocals and the “feeling” in the guitar solo. Add the Arabic hints in “Marquis Of Hell” and the Asian ones in “Ten Courts Of Diyu” and this record isn’t simply diverse – it’s multicultural.

As for the title-track, it is indeed the most powerful song of the album, its four minutes proving wrong the idea that a piece must last twice as much to be “epic”. Like I’ve said before, all songs sound like Therion, but this is the one with their name all over it. Is it “deliberately packed with hit songs”, like Johnsson assured? I wouldn’t go that far, but I bet the fans will be pretty pleased with the outcome.

8/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Smerdead – Во Тьме Лесов

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 22nd January 2021 by Paul Macmillan

Smerdead
Во Тьме Лесов
Released 12th December 2020
Melodic death metal
Released via Sound Age Productions

Maybe something is lost in translation from the Russian, but I was not 100% sure what to expect from “zombie metal”. The nomenclature alone, however, was enough to pique curiosity. As it turns out, I doubt could have successfully predicted the sound.

What Smerdead offer is surprisingly melodic, given the brutal sounding, self-applied genre tag. Yes, it is heavy. However, it is most definitely not the knuckle-dragging, caveman variety of metal I imagined would greet me. Given my Russian language skills are absolute zero, I have no idea what frontman, Kozlodyor, is on about. One might assume the undead..? He is, though, a superb death metal vocalist, and his timbre is very easy on the heavy music ear.

The rest of the crew counter this with a highly accessible extreme metal backdrop. As a relatively new band, formed only in 2018, they are a completely fresh discovery for me. Во тьме лесов is, though, the second album of their short career, and it seems they have hit on a trademark “gallop and grunt” from day one. It’s well written, nicely produced, and deserves some widespread attention.

There is something of their sound which is particular to colder regions of the world. As much as they draw on traditional British metal, one can also feel a tundra-esque sway, and, at times, it can be a little like the music of the Steppes. It is, though, always metal, never drifting too far into the twee.

This is maybe what Skámöld would sound like, if their folk elements were to be extracted. Or if Týr ditched their clean singing in favour of a deadite snarl. Their slightly alien aspect allows for a little more escapism than the norm in metal, but doesn’t get too outlandish. This is a band who already know exactly who they are, and show great potential at a very early stage. Keep an eye on them.

7/10

Paul Macmillan

Avenger Kills – The End Has Come

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 22nd January 2021 by izaforestspirit

Avenger Kills
The End Has Come
Released 10th December 2020
Thrash Metal/Power Metal/
Self-Released

The End Has Come’ is the third album from the Russian power metal band Avenger Kills. The group was formed in 2011 by guitarist Alexander Krasilnikov. All their releases are available from their Bandcamp page.

After just a couple of tracks I can state that this is a guitar-centric album within the thrash metal genre. The vocalist reminded me of Dave Mustaine of Megadeth while the guitar style made me think of the Finnish thrash metal band Stone with elements of old Iced Earth thrown in. Metal Child caught my attention due to the well-timed and reasonably well executed guitar passages. I’m not not sure what is happening on Hangover but it sounds like a completely different band! From thrash metal to hard rock…

Then it is back to thrash metal again for the remainder of the record. The songs maintain a good balance of aggression, speed and melody but mostly they sound very similar to each other. Notable exceptions include the cheerful-sounding power metal style on The Savior and the ballad-like closing track Time of Sins. The latter is also the slowest and most sombre-sounding track on the album. It works well as a closer, mellowing things down towards the end but I’m glad that it is the only track of this type on here.

Overall, what we have here is a fairly decent thrash metal album which I reckon would please fans of early Megadeth and Iced Earth. I emphasize the word ‘decent’ here as this style is not unique in a way but it is a pretty good effort.

6/10

Iza Raittila

Battering Ram release new single

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , on 19th January 2021 by izaforestspirit

It’s been almost a year since their debut Ep came out. Now Swedish hard rock band Battering Ram are ready to present some new music. The new single is called ‘Down’ and it is out on Spotify.

Image may contain: text that says "BATTERING RAM BR-21 DOWN"

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/BatteringRamOfficial/

http://battering-ram.com/

Marko Hietala leaves Nightwish

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , on 13th January 2021 by izaforestspirit

Marko Hietala, the bassist and backing vocalist of the world renowned symphonic power metal band Nightwish has recently announced his decision to leave the group. Here’s an extract from his official statement as posted yesterday (12th January 2021) on the band’s Facebook and other social media pages:

Dear people. I am leaving Nightwish and my public life.
For a quite a few years now I haven’t been able to feel validated by this life. We have streaming company big guns demanding 9/5 work from artists of inspiration while unfairly sharing the profits. Even among the artists. We’re the banana republic of the music industry. Biggest tour promoters squeeze percentages even from our own merchandise while paying dividends to Middle East. Apparently some theocrasies can take the money from the music that would get you beheaded or jailed there without appearing as hypocrites. Just a couple of examples here.
This past year forced me to stay home and think. And I found myself very disillusioned about these and a lot of things. I found out that I am in need of that validation. For me to write, sing and play, I need to find some new reasons and inspirations. ”My Walden” so to speak. And it’s even in my book that I’m a chronic depressive. It’s dangerous for me and the people around me, if I continue. Some of the thoughts a while back were dark. Don’t worry, I’m fine. I have my two sons, a wife, the rest of the family, friends, a dog and lots of love.
And I don’t think that I’ll be gone for good.

Conspiracy is the word of the day. For the people who like them I need to say that my 55th birthday is now on 14th of Jan and I’ve certainly done my time for now. Blaming for instance Tuomas is an insult to both him and my free thinking. This is a very sad thing to all of us too. Have a care please.

But of course now we’ll know, if some go there on purpose.
There are a couple of things agreed on that I will do on 2021. Otherwise I kindly and with respect ask the media, bands, artists projects etc. to not ask me for anything within the next year. I have some reinventing to do. I hope to tell you about it on 2022. It’s not a promise though.
I am so sorry about this. “
Marko Hietala

Marco Hietala

Marko Hietala has been involved with Nightwish since 2002 and his departure marks a big change for the band. Nightwish have issued a statement stating that they respect Mr. Hietala’s decision. They will be continuing with their up-coming ‘Human. :II: Nature’ world tour with a session bass player. The full live line-up will be revealed later this year.

For more details go to: https://www.facebook.com/nightwish

https://nightwish.com

https://www.facebook.com/markohietalaofficial/

First single from Vengeant coming next month

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , , on 11th January 2021 by izaforestspirit

Here is something for fans of symphonic power metal. Introducing the Swedish symphonic metal group Vengeant. It was created in November 2019 and the line-up includes Greek singer Danae Komodromou (Scarlet Desire), lead guitarist and bassist Christoffer Holm, rhythm guitarist Dennis Eriksson (Mad Hatter, Darkest Void) and drummer Alfred Fridhagen (Saint Deamon, Mad Hatter and Darkest Void). They cite Magic: the Gathering as an influence on their music.

They are currently working on their debut EP due later this year. Their first single ‘Angel’s Battle Cry’ will be released on 12th February 2021. Check out the cover art:

Image may contain: text

For more details check out: https://www.facebook.com/vengeantofficial/

https://www.instagram.com/vengeantofficial/

Hadal – December

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 9th January 2021 by izaforestspirit

Hadal
December
Released: 5th December 2020
Doom Metal / Death Metal
Released via Planet K Records

Hadal - December

My first review of 2021. I do not normally review doom metal for the simple reason it has never been my favorite metal genre. Not even close. In fact the only doom metal band I listen to occasionally is My Dying Bride. Despite this I decided to give Hadal’s new album a go based on the description of it being a mixture of doom, Gothic and death metal. The Trieste-based, Italian doom metal quintet have been active since 2009 and this is their second album.

So, what we have here is primarily a doom metal album. All the classic hallmarks of the genre are present: a slower, bass-heavy, low-tuned guitar work, melancholic vocals and depressive lyrics. No violins but the music and vocal style bears some similarity to My Dying Bride. If only their singer had the same vocal range as Aaron Stainthorpe… Not quite, but he is doing a pretty good job. There is a hint of death metal audible in the growling vocals at the start of Dark Water, one of the more varied songs on here. I like the contrast between the two vocal styles and the gradual shift between the harsh to the melodic. The low-tuned guitar riffs are still present but at least this is not as ponderous as some of the other tracks on here. Similar things can be said about Without A Word, another song with a hint of death metal in the vocals and some of the guitar riffs.

The rest of the album offers a more varied pace. It’s still slow but the occasional death metal parts are a welcome addition. Speaking of variety, the closing track Stormcrow has some of the most diverse guitar work on the record, happily merging doom, death, Gothic and even thrash metal elements.

Overall, Hadal are not re-inventing the wheel here. Their style does not offer anything dramatically new to the genre. Having said that I reckon that fans of My Dying Bride and early Paradise Lost might enjoy it.

7/10

Iza Raittila