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Hollywood Undead – New Empire, Vol. 1

Posted in CD, Rock 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 writer 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 CD, Rock 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

The 69 Eyes – West End

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , on 14th September 2019 by Pieni

The 69 Eyes
“West End”
Gothic rock
Released: 13th September 2019
Via Nuclear Blast Records

The 69 Eyes - West End

Over the past 30 years, The 69 Eyes have developed such a characteristic sound that they’re at a point in their career where one can identify a song as theirs, even before Jyrki 69’s unique voice comes through. Yes, 30. The dark balloons on the cover? Best decoration for a goth’n’rock anniversary party.

They’ve also invited a few friends for such party. You’ve probably seen the video for “Two Horns Up” by now, featuring Dani Filth. Those ominous church bells in the first few seconds which lead to that rough bass intro and melt into a rocky melody spiced up with piano keys… that’s the catchy trademark of the Helsinki Vampires.

Curiously enough, “27 & Done” is a lot merrier, despite its dark theme (that apocalyptic age at which so many rock stars have died). Same formula, but merrier.

“Black Orchid” was also released as a video, probably because it has one of the most beautiful guitar solos in the whole album. It took me back to “Dance D’Amour”, believe it or not – so much bolder, so much sharper, and yet my mind brought it up. Go figure.

Then there’s the orchestral arrangements on “Change”, giving a classy touch to an already dandy ballad. It’s like they say, “the devil’s in the details”.

I was surprised they didn’t film a video for “The Last House On The Left”. Jyrki 69 himself says it’s “the perfect Halloween horrorpunk song for this year”. Honestly, I think it’s perfect for any festive occasion. It also features Dani Filth and Wednesday 13 and Calico Cooper as well, making a hell of a vocal mix! I wouldn’t call it punk, though, but definitely rock’n’roll. By the way, “Outsiders” gives away that vibe too. Dancing is not really my thing but I caught myself doing so while writing this review.

These are just a few remarks. I could’ve picked many more but I think you’ve got the picture. I’ll wrap it up with a cheesy but heartfelt “happy anniversary, keep it rollin’!”.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Laurus Nobilis Music Famalicão reveals timetable for this year’s edition

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 10th July 2019 by Pieni

Once again on two stages – the secondary Estrella Galicia and the main one Porminho – the 25 bands will play as follows:

LAURUS TIMETABLE copy

Every day will have a set of DJs keeping the metal pumping.

https://laurusnobilis.pt/en/

In Flames – I, The Mask

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 24th February 2019 by Pieni

In Flames
“I, The Mask”
Metal
Released: 1st March 2019
Via Nuclear Blast Records

inflamesithemask

It’s been a while since I’ve stopped considering In Flames “melodic death metal” (even if I labelled them as such when I reviewed “Battles”, after going with just “melodic metal” on the previous one, “Siren Charms”). The truth is that they’ve developed such a characteristic sound that one would either come up with a genre described in a whole sentence or just fit them in one that pretty much covers it all. Let’s go with “metal” then (which, whoever runs their Facebook page, seems also okay with).

I believe I’ve said this several times – not just regarding In Flames – but I don’t see toning down the aggression as a bad thing; in this case, losing the “death” angle. All I care about is listening to quality music, whatever its nature, and “I, The Mask” is full of that.

Out of the three songs they’ve chosen to promote the album with, the title-track was the one which least impressed me. Curiously enough, one of the fastest tracks. It’s not a bad song, don’t get me wrong. It’s just too straight-forward in the middle of the richness that the rest of the album turned out to be. But then again, come to think of it, maybe that’s precisely its strength. “Burn” is up there as well, but with a less catchy chorus.

“(This Is Our) House” is sort of anthemic, with all that talk of standing your ground and the teen choir’s they’d already used on “The End”. At first I thought a spunkier chorus would sound better, but after hearing it a few times, this one is just right. In fact, this album needs a couple of rounds to grow on you as a whole.

“I Am Above” and the ballad “Stay With Me” are my favorite, as they’ve got that something-I-can’t-put-my-finger-on that just enthralls me. Perhaps the attitude of the first and the depth of the second, but I believe is much more than that, as it usually is when a song hits you hard.

There’s another ballad in the form of “Follow Me”, where you’ll certainly hear an echo of “Come Clarity”, but only on a musical level – the message in it bears a sense of hope that their old classic misses. And even though I can’t remember a title to compare – in a good sense – “Voices” with, you’ll see that the opening track is very much an In Flames song. Not so much with “Deep Inside”, the Arabian hints catching me somewhat off guard, but it worked out in the end. The only song I skip when it comes up is “In This Life”. I’m sure it will be someone’s favorite, but for me, it’s annoying as hell.

When I’ve first listened to this album – their 13th – I’ve automatically given it a “4”. Then, as aforementioned, it started growing on me and I thought a “4,5” would be more accurate. Now that I’ve put into words what I think about it… hell, it deserves a “5”!

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Equaleft’s “We Defy” release party – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 3rd February 2019 by Pieni

Equaleft, Analepsy, Web, Sotz’
Hard Club (Sala 2), Porto (PT)
1st February 2019
Promoted by Raising Legends

equalwedefy0

Despite the ticket presale going on a steady run, Equaleft singer Miguel Inglês never believed he’d have a sold out venue. Now, he has this pet hate of sorts for Manowar and he promised to buy a Manowar album in case the tickets did sell out. Guess who’s adding “Sign Of The Hammer” to their CD collection?

sotzwedefyAs I’ve mentioned before (read here), Sotz’ have been evolving so much and playing in so many events that I didn’t realize this was their first Hard Club show until singer Dan mentioned it. The room still wasn’t at its full capacity – Friday traffic was even more chaotic due to the storm and a couple of other events in the neighborhood – but it was crowded and supportive enough to leave no doubt about the genuineness of Dan’s “thank you for being here”. That gratitude also produced a new song, “The Return Of Kukulcan”, right before the last one “Tzak’ Sotz’”.

https://www.facebook.com/sotzband/

webwedefyFrom a national popularity point of view, it didn’t make much sense to see the legendary Web get on stage next, but Analepsy had to drive about 200 miles to get to the venue – and Web just don’t care about that playing-first BS. Singer/bassist Nando was mourning a relative, who had passed just two days before, but no one could tell – he was his usual self, giving it all, and joking about Filipe’s white guitar and how the cookies Equaleft had brought were all gone by now, eaten in the backstage, so if that was why we were there, then we could go home. He also didn’t flinch when introducing the new song, ironically called “A Grave To Be Dug”. An awesome new song, by the way, bearing a sound you easily recognize as theirs. The chorus to “Mortal Sound” and “(In)Sanity” were sung along by pretty much everybody in the room.

https://www.facebook.com/web.bandofficial/

analepsywedefyBrutal death metal Analepsy, living up to the “brutal” part. Hair running in all directions on stage, while bodies did more or less the same on the floor. And that’s pretty much all I can say about it – as usual – and trust me, it is NOT a derogative report on their performance. I hate writing something as basic as “it was a great show” but in this case it will have to do. At some point there was a kind of a joke involving a rock band who was actually playing next door but it’s a Portuguese thing that even I can’t explain the fun in it, so… nope, nothing more to add.

https://www.facebook.com/analepsyofficial/

equalwedefy1Equaleft’s second full length album was featured in my expectations for 2018 but its release was held for a couple of months more and here it is, in the beginning of 2019. It’s okay, as the waiting was more than worthy (read the review here). And its live presentation…. well, their gigs are always mind-blowing, I can assure you that didn’t change a bit now! “We Defy” was played in full, but with… is 5-year-old songs too young to be considered “classics”? Anyway, “New False Horizons”, “Tremble” and “Maniac” were performed among the new ones, while “Invigorate” wrapped it all up with a golden key – without the Star Wars lightsaber but with two special guests: Sotz’-Dan and Tales For The Unspoken-Marco. Gonçalinho came on stage to play the sax on the new version of “Uncover The Masks”, and while there are no guest singers on the album, Web-Nando was called to sing along “Endless”. By the way, he lied about the cookies, obviously – a few boxes of them were offered to those who survived the violent mosh circles up front. Also, guitarist Miguel had his birthday that night and Inglês got us all singing him the “Happy Birthday” song, but the candles he blew were sitting on a symbolic kind of cupcake, so no cake for us – we deserved the other traditional cookies!

equalwedefy2

The release of “We Defy” was a deserved tremendous success. Don’t know what’s next, but I really hope is something even bigger – maybe selling out Hard Club’s main room? -, worthy not of buying a Manowar album but playing a cover of said band…

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino