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Havamal – Call Of The North

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 15th August 2017 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Havamal
Call of the North
Released June 2017
Viking Metal/Melodic Death Metal
Self-Released

Hailing from Sweden come Viking-themed death metallers Havamal. It’s kind of fitting that a band that has Viking themes would name themselves after one of the books in the Poetic Edda but now is not the time to be discussing Old Nordic literature. Formed in 2016, in the city of Stockholm, Call of the North is Havamal‘s first release.

The grandoise opening of the track Havamal sets the pace for the EP with its majestic and powerful orchestration coupled up with the spoken word. The other five tracks on the EP have a very Ensiferum-inspired sound, especially in the feral vocals that come screaming out like an enraged berserker. Dread Age stands out immediately with its savage assault of guitars and furious orchestral elements whereas Jotun War follows up with as a standard Viking metal anthem with hints of power metal thrown in for good measure.

Ragnarok is quite the dark composition, with the odd headbanging moment here and there and some Dimmu Borgir-esque moments. Call For Revenge gets the blood pumping with the Ensiferum influenced sound and powerful use of orchestration in the background. Call of the North ends with the memorable track Force of Judgement, which is a melting pot of sounds with catchy riffs and melodic verses.

Havamal show a lot of potential with this first release, though the band have still yet to find their sound. With their guitar driven sound combined with their orchestral moments and bestial vocals, Havamal could easily become a stand out band in the metal community.

4/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Call of the North can be purchased at this location.

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Ward XVI – The Art of Manipulation

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , on 12th July 2017 by Nico Solheim-Davidson
Ward XVI
The Art Of Manipulation
Avant-Garde Rock
Released 1st July
via Rock’n’Growl
Earlier this month, northern metal outfit – though they describe themselves as “theatrical avant-garde rock” – Ward XVI released their debut album, The Art of Manipulation, which follows the story of a female psychopath locked away in a high security asylum. Having seen this band before, when the news came out that Ward were releasing this album, I immediately knew I had to listen to it.

Starting with the generically named Intro, the track starts the story written within the album, as a rather sinister and villainous psychiatrist is heard talking to his patient, who replies stating that she’s “not insane”. Take My Hand is a light trance inducing track before it changes at the flip of a coin into a pure, chaotic guitar barrage. The title track, The Art of Manipulation, stands out with its ephemeral passages that appear between the faster, hard hitting sections of the song. The vocals come across exquisitely with the ebb and flow of the track.

There are three interludes on the album, each of which serve the purpose of moving the story forward with more dialogue. As the first interlude finishes, The Flight comes bursting in like a hand grenade, as the the guitars merciless blare out their rhythmic, almost hypnotic riffs. The use of keyboards on this track comes as a welcome surprise, adding a new dynamic to it. The vocals are very much good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll as they race along side the keys and guitars. Crystal Ball  has its own little charm as the sounds of accordions blare over the driving guitars and thundering rhythm sections. A reassuring and warm piano melody leads the way in Hold Me, adding an expected emotional feel to not only the song but the album as well.

Blackened Heart is a poignant track, with memorable vocal lines and a contrasting use of guitars, the rhythm section and keys, with one section being quite nu-metalesqe in its composition while Run For Your Lives  jumps in the sound of wailing sirens before a haunting accordion melody is heard. The track being proceeds into barrage of drums flanked by raging guitars and energetic vocals. Adrenochromania is quite a misty and cimmerian track with a lot of mesmerising passages.

Cry of the Siren is an aggressively energetic track as the guitars and keys go toe-to-toe with one another between vocal lines. Toy Box however contrasts greatly, taking a slower pace verging on the edge of a traditional and folkier sound with the accordion commanding the song. Inner Demon diverges onto a different route with a unique sound that really shows the theatrics of the band. The Art of Manipulation closes its curtains with a song named after the band: Ward XVI. It is quite a solemn listening affair, as the vocals call out like a Plutonian requiem while the keys and guitars have become the musical incarnation of a somber midnight sky.

Ward XVI have done something spectacular with The Art Of Manipulation, while their on-stage theatrics don’t translate well into recorded form, their story telling and unique melting pot of different styles and influences speaks for themselves.

3.5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Semblant – Lunar Mainifesto

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 27th April 2017 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Semblant
Lunar Manifesto
Released on 28th April 2017
Gothic Metal
Released via EMP Label Group

Formed in 2006, Semblant hail from the South American nation of Brazil. After a few line-up changes, they are now considered one of the country’s most important Gothic metal outfits, even going as far as being classified as Brazil’s first vampiric metal act. Lunar Manifesto is the latest in their string of releases.

Incinerate  opens up the album with a demonic assault of fast, heavy and unforgiving riffs that lay siege to the ears. The screamed vocals capitalise on the demonic sound of the track, while the cleaner vocals add a melodic, almost angelic touch to the song. Dark of the Day keeps the vicious heavy riffing of the preceding track while marching at a slower tempo. The contrasting use of vocals entwine themselves almost lyrically with the fury of the music.

What Lies Ahead has a more melodic sound, the guitars and keyboards dancing beautifully together, allowing for more focus on the clean vocals whereas The Shrine sounds very power metalesque in its introduction, before the bestial screams make themselves heard. Bursting Open has a very dramatic opening, focusing on an eerie orchestration and clean vocals that border on spoken word. The rest of the track appears to have lost the momentum found in the previous tracks, sounding less passionate.

Mist Over The Future makes a strong use of stormy guitar riffs and gentler keyboard sections, and the screams and growls are as vehement sounding as can be. Though the drums are cold and calculating, a noticeable difference from the rest of the track. Keyboards are more prominent in  The Hand That Bleeds, creating a cryptic atmosphere whereas the guitars and vocals are more esoteric in their sound. Selfish Liar is the perfect combination of savage, destructive riffs and sorrowful yet creepy keyboards. The vocals on this track are near magical, fitting in well with the song’s composition.

Ode To Rejection mixes ominous keyboards with hypnotic riffs, creating a sombre sound that is reflected in the lyrics., while The Blind Eye bursts in with a near-majestic sound built up by the heavy-hitting guitars and commanding use of vocals. Scarlet Heritage is the album’s ending, finishing the 11 track release with a blistering onslaught of cumbersome guitars and bold vocals. The keyboards weave into the track beautifully, adding beauty to the beast-like nature of the song.

Lunar Manifesto has its good moments and its bad ones. For the avid Gothic metal fan, it is a release that would fit in well into their collection.

3.5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

 

EARTHBREAKER – Voice of the Voiceless

Posted in 'Core, CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 11th January 2017 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

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

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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

Temples Festival 2016 cancelled

Posted in News with tags , , on 30th May 2016 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Sad news for patrons of all things heavy as this year’s Temples Festivals has been cancelled. Francis Mace, the organiser of the Temples Festival, which was set to take place next weekend, made the following announcement on Facebook:

Patrons of Temples Festival,

After an arduous 48hrs of uncertainty, and with deepest reluctance we have been forced to cancel Temples Festival 2016.

At the beginning of last week, the organisation we had onboard to finance the event pulled their funding, and with limited access to advance ticket sales and no sponsors to back us we have been unable to source the funding required to cover the overheads which would allow Temples Festival to go ahead.

Following Temples 2015, we were left with a sizeable debt and as opposed to dissolving the company and declaring bankruptcy – I decided to take on the debts personally and subsequently pay off all our creditors in instalments as quickly as possible, this meant bands, staff and contractors were all paid late – and it’s had a crippling effect on both my professional and personal life as a whole – truth be told, I made a series of bad business decisions and dealt with the situation very poorly – which I take full accountability for.

I’ve spent the past week trying to gain access to the funds we need to make this year work and avoid the problems we encountered following last year’s event, with our financiers pulling their involvement – it’s been an uphill battle, which I’ve fought to the best of my abilities – and unfortunately, have been defeated.

Over the past weekend, I’ve been attempting to produce the festival’s continuation on a ‘scaled down’ level so we can offer something for those of you who have purchased tickets, accommodation, transport etc and allow the bands who are touring, UK based etc – unfortunately this morning it became clear that even if we were to proceed as such, we’d be left with another huge debt and therefore unable to pay the bands, staff, venue, contractors and a number of other crucial overheads the festival relies on – thus repeating the mistakes that were made last year.

Having already lost in the region of £70,000 throughout Temples Festival’s existence – I’m afraid adding more debt to that will simply cripple both myself and the festival, and after such a difficult year it’s not an option for me to take on such a huge debt personally.

I am deeply deeply sorry to all of those who will lose out as a result of this decision, having put three years of my life and having already lost so much of it to the festival I’m afraid there is no option to continue with Temples Festival 2016 and I take full responsibility for events cancellation. I am truly sorry.

My intention was always to setup a unique UK festival which books bands who are rarely seen in the UK, I’ve tirelessly dedicated myself to this event for a long time now and the decision to cancel this year’s event has been unequivocally the hardest call I’ve ever had to make in my life. My sincere apologies to those of you who will lose out as a result of this, I am truly sorry – but I can’t face another year of debts & damage.

Thank you to everyone who has actively supported Temples Festival from the start, I launched this ambitious event with the best intentions and unfortunately it’s become too damaging for me to oversee single handedly. Although curating the festival is something I’ve been able to do well – managing the business side of the event has proven too much for me. I’ve been promoting concerts for half of my life, and those of you who know of the work I’ve done will hopefully be aware of how upsetting and damaging this decision has been to me on every level.

Our ethos has been No Surrender for the past year, as I was determined to make this festival work and finish what I started. I’ve worked so hard to make this happen for our Patrons in 2016 but against my will and core beliefs – today’s news has forced me to surrender.

Ticket refunds are available from your point of purchase, please contact them for a full refund.

Again, thank you to those of you who have been supporting this event for the past three years – your encouragement and kind words have kept me going through incredibly difficult times and I hope that despite this negative outcome you’ve at least enjoyed the two events we hosted for you. I’m proud of what was achieved with this event, and if there was any way of making this year work I’d be continuing with the same passion and dedication which oversaw the last two editions of Temples Festival.

With the utmost regret & sincerity,

Francis Mace
– Temples Festival

Following this cancellation, a number of bands have been left without dates for the first weekend of June. Rumours are doing the rounds at the moment, implying that one of the reasons for the cancellation is that acts that played last year’s Temples were never paid and the cancellation will have a knock-on effect towards the rest of the UK scene as well.

Akercocke set to no longer play Bloodstock

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 25th May 2016 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

In a bizarre turn of events, Akercocke, who recently reformed, have announced on their Facebook page that they will no longer be playing at this year’s Bloodstock Festival. The announcement reads:

Dear friends and fiends,

Owing to politics we neither understand nor participate in, we have been pulled from the Bloodstock 2016 line up.

Akercocke

Understandably some Akercocke fans have voiced their displeasure at this news, with some of them referring to the festival as being petty and a joke. While the exact reason is unknown to Akercocke being pulled from the billing, it appears that it has something to do with the organisers of Bloodstock trying to keep an illusion of exclusivity as the band have been confirmed to play Damnation in November and will be touring the UK later this year.

At the moment, Bloodstock have not made a statement to as why Akercocke are no longer on the bill.

***UPDATE***

Adam Gregory, one of the organisers of Bloodstock left the following comment on the band’s post:

As much as we would like to answer your questions with our reasons for being forced to cancel the bands appearance, out of respect for the band, we wont air our laundry in public, but rest assured Bloodstock was left without any option on this occasion.

Akercocke online:

http://facebook.com/akercockeofficial

Dakesis Confirmed As First Co-Headliner at Northern Symphony

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on 8th May 2016 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Birmingham’s premier power metal quartet Dakesis have been announced as one of two co-headliners at Northern Symphony 2017, the UK’s premier festival for all things symphonic metal. With the release of A New Dawn and their recent tours last month in both Finland and the UK, Dakesis are set to reach new heights.

Dakesis are a four piece Progressive Power Metal band from Birmingham, UK. Formed in 2008, with the release of a limited edition four track E.P they soon followed on with their debut album Trial By Fire in 2011 to much critical acclaim. Following on from their success of this album and extensive touring and festival appearances throughout the UK, the band went on to record their second full length album The New Dawn which was released in March 2016.

Their latest release was recorded at Carbon Studios in Birmingham and mixed by Nino Laurenne at Sonic Pump Studios based in Finland (Ensiferum, Wintersun, Stratovarious and Firewind) and sees a marked change in the direction of the band. With more progressive influences and the addition of powerfully epic orchestral backing alongside new session keyboard player Jacob Underwood, Dakesis have sculpted a vast instrumental soundscape alongside the heavier metal influences.

The band have toured the UK extensively and have enjoyed prestigious support and festival slots including playing with Edguy, Thunderstone, Blaze Bayley and Pagan’s Mind and performing at Glastonbudget, Bloodstock Open Air 2012, Valkyrian Festival and headlining the Cackblabbath Stage at Wildfire Festival in 2015.

Northern Symphony will take place at The Venue in Selby on Saturday 15th April 2017. Early bird tickets are set at the low price of £4 and are available from either Northern Wynter Music’s BigCartel store or Skiddle.com.

More bands are set to be announced in the coming months.

Dakesis online:
http://dakesis.com
http://facebook.com/dakesis