Author Archive

Mind Driller – InBolution

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 2nd April 2021 by Pieni

Mind Driller
“InBolution” [EP]
Electronic/industrial rock
Released: 21st January 2021
Via Art Gates Records

InBolution

Despite featuring nine tracks, which is an acceptable number for a full-length album, only three of them are new, hence the EP tag on “InBolution”.

“The Prophecy” is such a vibrant song that it’s totally understandable why they couldn’t wait to release it. The chorus is catchy as usual, but its overall rhythm is something more than that.

“Overthrow”, on the other hand, bears that dark wave seduction Mind Driller’s already shown us in songs like “Deadworld”, for instance, reaching out to your deepest senses rather than make you want to dance.

And then “Denken” offers a heavier beat, sounding more industrial.

The rest of the tracks are remixes (“Calling At The Stars” got a more dance-able one, while “The Game” went more somber) and instrumental versions (which made me go back to my childhood, when the B-sides of singles were often their instrumental tracks).

All in all, “InBolution” isn’t just a treat for the band’s fans but for everyone who appreciates the genre, given its diversity (and excellence) of features.

7,5/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino


The Straddlerz – The Straddlerz

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 1st March 2021 by Pieni

The Straddlerz
“The Straddlerz”
Dirty rock’n’roll
Self-released
On 29th January 2021

thestraddlerz copy

When two strains of Latin blood – Italian and Argentinian – come together to produce rock music, the outcome must be passionate. And that’s what The Straddlerz self-titled debut album is.

The recording is way too raw, so I’m guessing the producer wanted to preserve the original intensity of both Linda Filippin’s yelling and Michael Reynal’s shredding. I understand that, but a little more polish would make the sound less messy without hurting their edge.

Not all songs roll out like a freight train, or not entirely. “Circle Of Insanity” has a less-than-a-minute seductive intro before all hell breaks loose; that same seduction lasts for half of the song “Addiction” but then Michael doesn’t help himself (did I mention there are two solos in “No Changes”?) and there go the guitars at full speed again, with everybody else following suit. Only “Don’t Go Away” has this bluesy seventies vibe and matching tempo, proving that the “pure and dirty” rockers know a thing or two about melody. “Junkie Bastards” has a groovy beat that’s quite catchy, but since it deviates a bit from their general stance it was “Streets Of Love” – a harder catchiness – that made it to a promotional video.

Someone called them “rock and roll with attitude”. I agree, but personally, I need more than that to fully appreciate a band.

6/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Ricky Warwick – When Life Was Hard & Fast

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 16th February 2021 by Pieni

Ricky Warwick
“When Life Was Hard & Fast”
Rock
Release: 19th February 2021
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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Ricky Warwick’s solo career has been a straightforward rock ride and this “When Life Was Hard & Fast” is probably the most genuine in such essence. He invited some friends over, some well-known names in the scene, but the fact that you don’t see “feat. Rockstar X” in any of the titles proves how those invitations weren’t a marketing stunt; just a bunch of buddies celebrating good ol’ rock ‘n’roll. The opening and title-track, for instance. A catchy, spirited tune where Def LeppardJoe Elliott’s crystal voice contrasts perfectly with Warwick’s raspy pitch in the chorus. Or how Andy Taylor (yes, that legend who used to play in Duran Duran) produces a mean guitar solo in the political vent “I’d Rather Be Hit”. Thunder’s Luke Morley also plays a sharp solo on “You Don’t Love Me”, but I’m personally more hooked on the groovy, smooth rhythm provided by the bass on this song.

The Mink Deville cover of “Gunslinger” is pretty loyal to the original but with all the perks of a nowadays recording, meaning it sounds more refined but keeps all the rock’n’roll attitude of the seventies. So it’s kinda funny to talk about “Clown Of Misery” now, as in order to preserve its candid acoustic nature they stuck to the demo version and it sounds like you’re listening to it on an old radio transistor. But it’s “Time Don’t Seem To Matter” that really shows you the graceful side of rock – also acoustic, with some delicate samples in the background and then an electric solo mirrors the chorus modulation sung by Warwick and his youngest daughter Pepper (whom the song was written for).

All the brisk and snappy traits on this record prove how honest Warwick is when he says “rock’n’roll ain’t dead – it’s just lost in its mystery”.

7,5/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Moonspell – Hermitage

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 31st January 2021 by Pieni

Moonspell
“Hermitage”
Dark metal
Released: 26th February 2021
Via Napalm Records

hermitage

I’ve never been quite comfortable in calling Moonspell “gothic metal” as that’s too much of a specific term to grasp all aspects of their music; “dark metal”, covering a broader range of said aspects, sounds more fitting. Especially now, given that “Hermitage” is probably the most somber album the Portuguese band has ever released.

They claim to be aware they’re approaching their final years as musicians and I remember Fernando Ribeiro saying, at Vagos Metal Fest 2016, how he hoped Moonspell would play like Helloween (headliners of that edition of the festival) when reaching their age. The Germans were in their early fifties at the time, so either that’s what Moonspell consider “final years”, or something has shortened the expiration date of their careers. Something like this pandemic, I believe. This whole situation has changed everybody’s perspective on life and “Hermitage” is supposed to be an album where Moonspell put their hearts out and bring them closer to the fans “in these times of distancing”.

Their bass lines have always been intense – more so since Aires Pereira joined back in 2004 – and the groove of “The Greater Good” is quite a highlight among those lines, enhancing the whole omen vibe of its lyrics.

Ricardo Amorim has long proven his ability to make his strings weep (“The Future Is Dark”, out of “Extinct”, pops to mind, but there are others) but the bluesy foundation upon “All Or Nothing” was built simply excels. “Solitarian”, an instrumental track, follows suit in terms of emotional guitar work, but the drums and keys set up a more jazzy rhythm. Now the gloominess of “Entitlement” is endorsed – not solely but mainly – by Pedro Paixão’s piano, in such a seductive way that I found myself in some film noir scenario listening to it…

I hope “The Hermit Saints” is chosen to be played live: the choir of voices in the chorus will certainly give goosebumps when sung along by the audience. But in all honesty, this record is so rich that pretty much everything will work out live – and I promise it’s not my longing for concerts talking…

9/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Echelon – Поехали

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 30th January 2021 by Pieni

Echelon
“Поехали”
Industrial
Released: 10th December 2020
Via Patriot

echelonletsgo

Rammstein have made such a mark that it’s almost impossible not to think of them when the term “industrial” comes up. And when the title-track of Echelon’s “Поехали” (let’s go) reminds you of “Feuer Frei” and the same album features a Russian cover of “Asche zu Asche”, you realize how much Rammstein still inspire younger bands of the genre.

Even if singer… I’m sorry, I don’t have a name for you – I can’t find any info regarding the band’s line-up! I did manage to identify the girl on the promo pic as Alena Meta, but since there’s a couple of songs with the note “feat. Alena Meta, I’m not even sure if she’s just a guest or a glorified band member… Now, as I was saying: even if the singer’s grave pitch and aggressive tone also resembles Till Lindemann’s, Echelon have managed to imprint their own stamp and create a sound of their own. The musical structure is more melodic, and the female voices here and there give it a classy touch: besides the aforementioned Alena Meta on the ballads “Особенный Путь” (special way) and the acoustic version of “Ничего нет дороже любви”(nothing more precious than love), they also have Valentina’s shrills spicing up “Действуй” (take action) and the more rock-oriented “Я Астероид” (I’m an asteroid). Another guest – male this time – is Freng, singing the English version of one of my favorites, “Течение Времени” (the flow of time), with a somewhat punk-ish attitude that, strangely enough, fits!

All in all, they combine the typical electronics with cranky guitar riffs, add occasional beautiful piano pieces and victorious vibes, and the outcome is quite charming.

7/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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

Pieni’s Highlights of 2020

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2020 by Pieni

Usually, my gig highlights are my favorite concerts among dozens I’ve seen during the year. As COVID-19 didn’t allow me to go to more than 4 live events in 2020, they ended up being all highlights just because they’ve happened… To complete the usual top-5, I’ve added a live stream – not my favorite, to be honest, but the no. 1 live stream was by the band already taking the 1st place of this ranking, plus CrashDïet was one of my first cancelled shows due to the pandemic, so being able to see a streamed one meant a lot:

humadrid

  1. Hollywood Undead at La Riviera (Madrid)
  2. Infraktor at Mangualde HardMaetal Fest (Mangualde)
  3. Revolution Within at Hard Club (Porto)
  4. Moonspell at Super Bock Arena (Porto)
  5. CrashDïet at Twenty Studios (live stream)

Records:

HUNewEmpireVol1cover

  1. “New Empire – Vol. 1” by Hollywood Undead
  2. “Obsidian” by Paradise Lost
  3. “Moment” by Dark Tranquillity
  4. “A Whisp Of The Atlantic” by Soilwork
  5. “Titans Of Creation” by Testament

Videos:

  1. “Death Diviner” by Soilwork
  2. “Nightmare” by Hollywood Undead
  3. “The Promise” by Vëlla
  4. “Obey” by Bring Me The Horizon
  5. “Divynils” by The Night Flight Orchestra

Expectations for 2021? CONCERTS! That’s pretty much what I’m waiting/hoping for! Also, the new Hills Have Eyes album, which have been featured in my expectations for the past two years, but this time there’s a title and an artwork, so I guess this time’s for real…

Happy New Year folks!

Renata “Pieni” Lino

HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD House Party – livestream

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , on 28th December 2020 by Pieni

HUhouseparty

Live streams are far – waaaaaay far – from “the same thing” as live on-site’s, but it helps filling the void left by the lack of the latter. So when one of your favorite bands announces one of those shows, you buy the ticket without blinking – not even checking if you can actually make it… After all, 7 p.m. in Los Angeles is 3 a.m. where I live and I’d probably be tired af from another week at that madhouse I call office. Yeah, I know the stream would be active (“raging on“, to use their own words) all weekend – extended till yesterday, as a matter of fact -, but when you love music as much as I do, waiting for the next day is not an option.

HUhouseparty03

The trailer and several promotional photos indicated the stream would be a prerecorded performance, so I don’t understand why so many people were pissed about it. Besides, you’re watching it on a screen, just like any other video. What’s the freaking difference?

Teaming up with Danny Wimmer, they’ve put up quite a scenario to host this event. Well, two scenarios, actually, as “Idol” is quite the must-be-played song but Tech N9ne couldn’t be there and they had to use the original footage of the video featuring the rapper; the cozy rehearsal-room-like background wouldn’t fit in such footage, so they came up with something more stage-ish.

HUhouseparty08

Dead Bite was “controlling the door”, his “no mask, no entry” directive such a rich pun. Then just like the tour Corona virus forced them to interrupt, the gig kicked off with “Time Bomb”. They didn’t play “Enemy” on the Madrid date of said tour but I remember Danny saying on his “Ask Me Anything” video it was one of his new live favorites; it came next and it sounded great indeed.

HUhouseparty24

We knew there would be guests, so when Danny asked 3 Tears if he’d heard anyone banging and then “Heart Of A Champion” came on, it was easy to guess ICE NINE KILLSSpencer Charnas and PAPA ROACHJacoby Shaddix were the ones knocking. But they didn’t come through any door… Not sure what material they had the walls made of (cardboard, maybe?) but both Spencer and Shaddix blasted through them. Afterwards, Dead Bite threw some party crashers through those same holes while HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD cheered from the couch…

HUhouseparty39

After “Another Way Out”, they’ve changed to the aforementioned “more professional” scenario to perform “Idol”. Of course it would be a waste to use that awesome light display on one song only, so three more followed suit – including “Comin’ Thru The Stereo”, with Hyro The Hero joining the party.

HUhouseparty63

Back in the room for the encore (“Bullet” and “Undead”) but not before implying we had drunk/smoked to the point of passing out and dreaming about masked HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD. While J-Dog sang his “Undead” verses, Danny started ripping apart the walls, the show ending with J-Dog picking the “Welcome to Hollywood” graffitied piece and driving a punch through it.

HUhouseparty80

They say they had an “absolute blast getting the entire Undead Army together on a global level and we can’t wait to do it again soon”; I’ve felt the same watching it, so I assure you I’ll be in front of my screen when that “again soon” takes place. It’s a shame that it was a pandemic and the impossibility of playing live that made this happen in the first place.

HUhouseparty90

www.facebook.com/hollywoodundead

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Hollywood Undead – New Empire, Vol. 2

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 6th December 2020 by Pieni

Hollywood Undead
“New Empire, Vol. 2”
Rap rock
Released: 4th December 2020
Via BMG / Dove & Grenade

vol2

“New Empire” is Hollywood Undead’s gold coin – volume 1 showing their heaviest side, and now volume 2 showing the exact opposite. Which one is better? Well, that’s the same as asking if a burger is better than chocolate cake – you can’t compare two things so different in their nature. What you can do is say what you like the most, and for some of you it may even depend on the mood you’re in (hence the food analogy). It’s really a case of personal taste.

“Idol” came out as first single and I can’t stop thinking how the choice marked the transition between the two records, with its dark and imposing pulse just as heavy as any other song on volume 1. I was going to say “intense” but that kind of applies to every track here, just on a more emotional level (as Danny said at some point). And when that powerful ballad “Coming Home” was released next, such emotional reference made total sense.

The opening track “Medicate” flows with an almost childish catchiness, a chipper song in contrast to its lyric content (medication against depression). The upbeat mood follows suit, a bit sharper now, with “Comin’ Thru The Stereo”, Hyro The Hero’s somewhat high pitched tone highlighting the first verses. Just like “Medicate”, singing along this one is almost mandatory.

The synth rap underlying “Ghost Out” adds a juicy rhythm but it’s the edgy riffing in “Gonna Be Okay” and the seductive one in “Unholy” that really rock me out.

There’s always a song or two in each album that I skip, as not even my open mind enjoys all their musical approaches. “Monsters” has some beautiful, deep lyrics but such dark hip hop isn’t my cup of tea at all, even if I’m able to acknowledge its greatness. As for “Worth It”, it is just too mellow. I believe it’s the first time a Hollywood Undead song can be called that, so kudos for the initiative. I just hope it doesn’t happen again.

I’ve left “Heart Of A Champion” for last not because it wraps up the record but because it’s probably my favorite song from volume 1 and I was a bit skeptical the first time I’ve heard of a new version. HU were on tour with Papa Roach and Ice Nine Kills when the pandemic broke out, so it was a nice touch bringing in Jacoby Shaddix and Spencer Charnas, but I was still afraid that it would ruin it. It didn’t (the video is a killer, too) – especially Spencer’s voice in the beginning -, even if I didn’t like to see J-Dog’s “compare me to none” verses cut out. It’s a bit like the two records: not better nor worse, just different.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

American Tears – Free Angel Express

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 6th December 2020 by Pieni

American Tears
“Free Angel Express”
Rock
Released: 23rd October 2020
Via Deko Music

FreeAngelExpress

The first thing you’ll feel when listening to American Tears is how seventies those melodies sound. Well, it’s more than a feeling: the band WAS founded in the early seventies, by songwriter and keyboard player Mark Mangold. I’m not sure if they split up and then reformed or if it was just a very long hiatus; all I know is that after releasing “Powerhouse” in 1977, “Hard Core” would see the light of day 41 (!!!) years later. It seems that Mangold wasn’t happy with the lack of “popular response” and I’m sorry to say that this “Free Angel Express” won’t change that.

The concept is interesting, a rock band based on keyboards, capturing such retro vibe; it’s the outcome that fails to keep up with the expectations. The fact that the album lasts almost one hour and a half doesn’t help, most songs raving for more than five minutes and eventually becoming tedious. A poor attempt to sound progressive? The erratic beats of “Not For Nothing” could indicate so, but such dissonance is more annoying than ingenious. The same with “Blue Rondo”, one of the few “short” tracks (4:02), but being instrumental, the ever-shifting patterns make it feel endless, and not in a positive way. American Tears is the kind of band that really should try the “less is more” adage.

I believe there will be some people happy to sing along the “oh ooooh” parts of “Sledgehammered” or gently rock their heads with their eyes closed to the ballad “Woke”, but it will hardly be a large number of them.

5/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Soilwork – A Whisp Of The Atlantic

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 1st December 2020 by Pieni

Soilwork
“A Whisp Of The Atlantic”
Metal
Released: 4th December 2020
Via Nuclear Blast Records

ATLANTICWHISP

Soilwork have been pushing the envelope of classy with every release for a few years now and “A Whisp Of The Atlantic” (even the title has a ring to it, hasn’t it?) keeps the tradition, this time sounding even more exquisite than before. I won’t talk about new directions as I don’t believe that’s what’s happening here – after all, they’ve always juggled with heavy and melodic; but the outcome is indeed… different.

Starting with the title-track, which is also the opening one. Sixteen and a half minutes?! But don’t worry, they haven’t gone progressive, the song just unfolds naturally for that long. The initial sound of the ocean mingles with a soft intro where you’ll recognize Soilwork’s signature right away, and then it takes an ominous turn with cranking guitars and all of a sudden you’re being blasted with fierce drum beats. Yep, “epic” turned out to be a literal term here. Also, the whole EP is a reminder of why Björn Strid is one of the best metal singers around, but the contrasts in this particular song between his coarse, harsh tones and the angelic ones are more highlighted, and so is the excellence of his vocal capacity. Finally, I have to mention the sax in the background during the last minute of the song, as we’re used to sad orchestral arrangements (like in the following song, “Feverish”) and having a sax, New-York-street style, was yet another refreshing trait, even if so subtle.

The other four songs have been rolling on YouTube for about a month (incredible videos, by the way) so I’ll just sum up what you’ve already had the chance to check for yourselves: between the feisty aggression of both “Feverish” and “Desperado”, and the edgy catchiness of “Death Diviner” and “The Nothingness And The Devil” (a Southern rock vibe in the former and a hint of NWOBHM in the guitars of the latter), you’ll find one of the boldest and most vibrant works in Soilwork’s discography.

9/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Goldray – Feel The Change

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 27th September 2020 by Pieni

Goldray
“Feel The Change”
Psychedelic Rock
Released: 31st July 2020
Via AKA Shic Records

goldrayfeelthechange

Goldray’s sophomore album may be called “Feel The Change” but that’s something that won’t happen when it comes to its nature and its quality. Leah Rasmussen’s mesmerizing voice will once again lead you into a dreamy dimension, under a top-notch psych rock soundtrack. There’s the groovy “Oz”, with all that rich guitar work Kenwyn House has gotten us used to and the kaleidoscopic effects that I like to call “laser gun shots” (seriously, they sound like those sci-fi eighties movies!). Then the straightforward emotion of the ballad which the album is named after. The hippie-vibe “The Forest”, and its sequel (literally: “The Forest – Part 2”) in a heavier approach, resembling something in-between Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The seduction of “How Do You Know”. “The Beat Inside” living up to its name – such an enthralling rhythm, coming from the artist’s heart and aiming at yours. The bluesy “Come On”. And then the ethereal “Phoenix Rising” wrapping it all up. Yes, I am aware I’ve used a lot of positive adjectives and remarks, but this is really an outstanding record within the genre. Is it perfect? Maybe, but I’ll leave that part for every listener to decide.

9/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Kataklysm – Unconquered

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 21st September 2020 by Pieni

 

Kataklysm
“Unconquered”
Melodic death metal
Release: 25th September 2020
Via Nuclear Blast Records

 

unconquered

Kataklysm’s studio discography has grown more or less every two years and, despite the pandemic, 2020 didn’t miss the mark. In fact, “Unconquered” was written based on the current struggles the world is facing and the band describes this album as “a rebirth of aggression”, as a response to said struggles. In all honesty, I don’t think this is THAT much more violent than before, but it’s pretty clear we’re listening to a more elaborate work, richer in features – both modern and old-school – that enhance the melodic part in their melodic death metal nature. Also Jean-François Dagenais gave 7-string guitars a shot, and that alone offers new textures.

“The Killshot” lives up to its title, such brutality embedded in that riffing and double bass drumming – and yet its musical pattern lingers in your ear. That’s probably why it was released as first single, but for similar reasons, so could have been “Defiant” – the latter somewhat fiercer and more straightforward.

It’s funny how Kataklysm consider “Cut Me Down” a “haunting and melodic” song (featuring WolfheartTuomas Saukkonen, by the way), when I think those words best describe “The Way Back Home” (one of my favorites). But it’s the doomsday vibe of “When It’s Over” that makes it the most ominous track (and therefore another favorite of mine).

I won’t say this is their best record so far, but I can assure you the Canadian quartet is right to feel proud of it.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Breaking Today – It Dies Today

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 28th August 2020 by Pieni

Breaking Today
“It Dies Today” (EP)
Punk rock
Self-released on 13th July 2020

breakingtoday

He may be the bass player in a metalcore band, but Luís Silva is a punk rocker. And he plays guitar. And he sings! And so Breaking Today was born.

The single for the title-track was released three years ago already – the original idea was for the EP to follow suit but, well, life happened… – and it’s indeed its most “single material”. All four songs have their own way of rocking your senses and lingering in your ear, but “It Dies Today” has that upbeat catchiness that sticks right away; you listen to it once, and by the second time you do, you’re already singing along the chorus. At least that’s what happened with me.

But first comes “Dropout”, faster, feistier, and therefore the right choice for opening track. And because punks have feelings too (please see a joke here and not an offense), the ballad “Save Me” delivers the right mellow touch. The strongest bass line – I won’t say the backbone but certainly one of the essences of punk rock – comes last, in the founding layers “Heavy Lies The Crown” was built on.

I won’t say Breaking Today is recommended for fans of this or that band, because a) it would look like I’m making comparisons and that’s just not fair, and b) every time someone tells me “oh if you like this you’ll definitely like that”, they fail miserably. So I’ll just say “It Dies Today” covers all the juicy feats of good ol’ punk rock and everyone who’s into that should at least give it a try – even if this turns out to be an “only child”. Not sure about this last part, mind me. All it’s been said is they don’t have any plans of playing live, and that frontman Luis’ dream has been fulfilled. Personally, I would like pretty much to listen to a follow-up, but if it doesn’t happen, this one’s worth it.

 7,5/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

American Jetset – Saloon Rock Whiskey Pop

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 15th June 2020 by Pieni

American Jetset
“Saloon Rock Whiskey Pop”
Rock
Self-released on 8th April 2020

saloon

“Saloon Rock Whiskey Pop” is said to be American Jetset’s first full length album, but as it features only six songs, I’d call it an EP instead… Whatever the term, its contents live up pretty much to its title, delivering that kind of rock which isn’t exactly hard but it’s harder than pop and that you expect to hear in a bar, while having a few drinks with a bunch of friends.
Personally, I’d like the voice to sound a bit more… passionate, but then it would probably make it feistier and closer to hard rock, and that’s probably not American Jetset’s goal. They play rock – period. And the whole guitar work – meaning solos, riffs, licks… – it’s already spicy enough to ignite a sparkle in your ear and then the rest just follows naturally. I must highlight the bass line in “Walking Contradiction”, as it’s very bold, but sadly it stays in the background in the other songs. Still plays an important role in the whole outcome, but it doesn’t stand out as in that first song. “1000 Ghosts” shows a more upbeat side of the band and “Never Be Goodbye” is the mandatory ballad, all acoustic, clapping hands on the chorus – which features the album title – and on the non-clapping parts you easily imagine the hands of the crowd holding a lighter (yeah, a lit cellphone will probably be more accurate, but a lighter gives out a more traditional vibe, fitting better in the mood). Meaning they cover all key bases of rock in about half an hour of juicy music.

7/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Paradise Lost – Obsidian

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 10th May 2020 by Pieni

Paradise Lost
“Obsidian”
Gothic metal
Released: 15th May 2020
Via Nuclear Blast 

obsidian

I believe that in all 17 studio albums Paradise Lost have released so far, this is the one with the most accurate title – its songs are deep dark and their refinement pretty clear-cut, just like an obsidian rock. And since we use the word “rock” in a metaphorical sense to describe something strong we can rely on, and “Obsidian” is, in my humble opinion, the strongest record these guys have done in years…

Paradise Lost have always managed to write sorrowful songs that will otherwise bring you elation rather than depression, and just a few seconds into that acoustic intro of “Darker Thoughts” will prove this statement right. Nick Holmes sings in a heartfelt clean pitch here, and as the electric, heavy part kicks in, so does his harsh growl. There are orchestral arrangements in the background throughout the whole song – violins, if my ears got it right – which a sucker for details such as me must point out. And as the two following songs are the ones I already knew from YouTube – the stricken “Fall From Grace” and the homage to The Sisters Of Mercy “Ghosts – it was already clear I was facing a masterpiece. A lot of “old school PL vibe” revamped, which I admit probably helped with the impact it caused on me – but I still think “masterpiece” is the right word.

The keyboard line and guitar work of “The Devil Embraced” are particularly riveting, while “Serenity” bears a more straight-forward and rawer heaviness that turns out quite catchy. And while the melody of “Ending Days” bears the beautiful sadness that I’ve implied before, “Ravenghast”’s nature is gloomier, almost ominous.

Saying “all gothic metal fans” may sound presumptuous, so I’ll stick to “the majority of gothic metal fans” will fall in love with this record; but for those whose lives were touched by “Icon” and/or “Draconian Times”, “Obsidian” will also be a blissful revival of the past.

9/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Testament – Titans Of Creation

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 1st April 2020 by Pieni

Testament
“Titans Of Creation”
Thrash metal
Released: 3rd April 2020
Via Nuclear Blast

Testament - Titans Of Creation - Artwork copy

“Titans Of Creation” isn’t just a powerful title; it’s also the definition of its songwriters. Not that it took 13 albums to recognize their grandeur – in all honesty, none of Testament’s members has had anything else to prove to anyone for a long time – but the fact they could push the envelope just a bit further this time is impressive. From what I gathered reading the press release, it seems the writing process was more dynamic, hence the little tweaks that are making all the difference.

I’ve always admired Peterson’s and Skolnick’s classy guitar work, but now it sounds even more elaborate – check out the solos and general riffing in songs such as “Children Of The Next Level”, “WW III” or “Symptoms”… hell, check out those in ALL tracks and you’ll see what I mean. It’s more diverse, so you get a better sense of what they’re capable of doing with those strings.

Peterson shows another side of him as he voices some parts of “Night Of The Witch” and “Curse Of Osiris”, in a demon-like pitch. The contrast between his and Billy’s tone is just perfect for the songs in question.

You’ll recognize the catchy chorus of “Dream Deceiver” as pure Testament, but the ominous vibe of “City Of Angels”, enhanced by its slower tempo and somber bass line, that will be new. But then again, as the lyrics refer to serial killer Richard Ramirez, it had to be something dark…

“The Healers” also sound somewhat different, with a more intense approach rather than a feisty one, its beat prone to become an earworm as well. It talks about Billy’s personal experience with his past cancer, but given the Corona pandemic situation the world is going through at the moment, it will probably become a hymn of hope to many metalheads.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Hollywood Undead – New Empire, Vol. 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 12th February 2020 by Pieni

Hollywood Undead
“New Empire, Vol. 1”
Rap Rock
Released: 14th February 2020
Via BMG / Dove & Grenade Media

HUNewEmpireVol1cover

Whether one likes Hollywood Undead or not, their ability to combine all kinds of musical traits can’t be ignored. So when many people said – Johnny 3 Tears himself included – that “New Empire, Vol. 1” would be heavier than ever, and then “Already Dead” was out, with all such Linkin Park-vibe, I was momentarily afraid they’d changed their focus to an “alternative metal” direction and forgot everything else that’s always made them somewhat unique. Well, they didn’t.

“Time Bomb” was the second single and proof of this heightened nature, laced with a fiery party-mood. Also “Empire” was released beforehand, built on enthralling drums and strong bass lines, revealing how intact is the band’s diversity.

“Heart Of A Champion” falls more or less in the same description as “Empire”, but is a tad more intense, more seductive – a mandatory sing-along chorus if played live. “Killin It” is way too hip hop for my personal taste, but while the metalhead in me will skip this track, the music reviewer must acknowledge its edgy composition, as well as the aforementioned mix of traits I’ve always admired in this band. The final track “Nightmare” is also a hip hop tune, but the soft piano keys and bitter chorus make it more alluring to my ears – and surely a grand finale for most fans.

And while “Enemy” goes blasting pretty much through and through, “Upside Down” gets the prize for the catchiest melody in this record. It features Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, even though I believe Danny would’ve covered that perfectly (sorry Quinn!). And “Second Chances” is the most beautiful – in that somber kind of way – piece. At some point, a sharp breakdown highlights such somberness.

Yes, “New Empire, Vol. 1” is heavier, but it’s unmistakably Hollywood Undead. I don’t like labels, but the rap-rock one they go by still fits – it’s just that the rap got darker and the rock got thicker.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Pieni’s highlights of 2019

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2019 by Pieni

2019 was a bumpy ride and despite attending fewer shows and writing less for Valkyrian Music, this past year still had plenty of memorable moments. Here’s my favorite live ones:

samaellnmf19

  1. Samael at Laurus Nobilis Music Famalicão (Louro)
  2. Infraktor at Vagos Metal Fest (Vagos)
  3. Equaleft at Hard Club (Porto)
  4. D.A.D. at Hard Club (Porto)
  5. Overkill at Hard Club (Porto)

Records:

Rust

  1. “Rust” by CrashDïet
  2. “We Defy” by Equaleft
  3. “Verkligheten” by Soilwork
  4. “West End” by The 69 Eyes
  5. “I, The Mask” by In Flames

Thank you Ozzy for filming the kind of music video I like the most – with an actual story to it. In the absence of that, something amusing and/or featuring visual impact will do:

  1. “Under The Graveyard” by Ozzy Osbourne
  2. “Idiots” by CrashDïet
  3. “Deutschland” by Rammstein
  4. “Trve As Fvck” by Hills Have Eyes
  5. “Already Dead” by Hollywood Undead

I have a handful of expectations for 2020 but, at the moment, I believe these are the ones I’m most eager about:

HHE2019

  1. The Hills Have Eyes new album and its release show (no date announced yet but hopefully it won’t be postponed much longer).
  2. The Hollywood Undead new album, “New Empire, Vol. 1”, and their gig in Madrid which I’ll be attending in a couple of months.
  3. W.A.S.P. will embark on a tour where they’ll only play songs out of their first four albums. Already got my ticket for the Barcelona show.
  4. Sister posted something on their Facebook page which included a #newalbum, so I’m looking forward to that as well.
  5. Seems like Kiss are saying goodbye to the stages. Whether this is indeed their last tour or not, I won’t miss it.

Happy New Year!

Renata “Pieni” Lino

CrashDïet – Rust

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 22nd September 2019 by Pieni

CrashDïet
“Rust”
Sleaze/glam rock
Released: 13th September 2019
Via Frontiers Music

Rust

It’s been over a week since “Rust” was released but only now I’ve managed to write about it. Why? Because every time I’ve started doing so, the songs popped up in my head and I just couldn’t stop singing along and moving my whole body to their rhythm. When the single “We Are The Legion” was released on New Year’s Eve 2017, I felt that old school sleaze vibe which CrashDïet have always offered us and knew that whatever came next would be worth the waiting; still I was amazed at such worthiness.

Don’t expect me to compare singers, as that wouldn’t be fair to any of them. I’ll just say that Gabriel Keys has a powerful voice which fits the band like a glove, and even though I’ve only listened to him in the new tracks, I can imagine him singing the old ones as if it had been him who’s originally recorded them. Yeah, that kind of voice.

They’ve recently asked on their Facebook page which was our favorite song off the new album and to me that’s an honest trick question. How can I choose between the enticing riffs and catchy chorus of the title-track and the seductive melody of “In The Maze”? How can I choose between the enthralling beats of “Into The Wild” or the upbeat pulse of “Crazy”? The heart-warming ballad “Waiting For Your Love” in contrast with the sleazy speed of “Reptile”? And what about the hymn-ish “We Are The Legion” or the crowd-friendly “Filth & Flowers”? The latter even has parts as if recorded live because it’s exactly the kind of song that will have the audience cheering and do that now-you-sing-it game that vocalists love to put us through.

CrashDïet have had their fair share of downs but their albums have always been ups in their career. I won’t say “Rust” is the highest up so far but, once again, only out of fairness. I can say, though, that this is the essence of sleaze rock, bearing such purity and class – so hard to find nowadays.

9/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino