Author Archive

The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic II

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 29th August 2021 by Pieni

The Night Flight Orchestra
“Aeromantic II”
Rock
Release: 3rd September 2021
Via Nuclear Blast Records

Aeromantic II

I’m not sure if an “Aeromantic II” was in order when the first one came out, but it seems like the latter’s follow-up wasn’t supposed to be released so early: forced to cancel the “Aeromantic” tour due to the pandemic, all The Night Flight Orchestra could do, as a band, was write new music and record it. And voilá!

“Paying tribute to an influential decade”, revivalising the kind of music they grew up listening to… call it whatever you want, but the truth is that TNFO’s popularity simply lies on extraordinary artists who create stellar songs. They’re certainly not the only ones with this eighties vibe going on – as long as there are people enjoying a certain genre or musical formula, whether its golden age is long past or not, said music will never be so-called dead – but they’re definitely one of those doing it better. The triumphant beat of “Violent Indigo”. That groovy bass line and keyboard solo in “Midnight Marvelous”. The upbeat “How Long” (one of my favorites), worthy of a “Flashdance” kind of soundtrack, followed by the even catchier rhythm of “Burn For Me” (oh, the video they filmed for this!). The seductive main riff of “Chardonnay Nights” and the almost hypnotizing drums of “Change”. The fiery “White Jeans” contrasting against the sweetness of “Moonlit Skies”. Yes, all twelve songs will make you travel back in time to a pretty colorful era, but it’s how they make such journey possible that it’s of essence here.

As Lilith’s RevengePaula told me the other day, TNFO is the kind of band you never thought needed in your life, but when they show up, they turn you into a happier creature”. Word!

9/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

World Of Damage – Invoke Determination

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 15th August 2021 by Pieni

World Of Damage
“Invoke Determination”
Melodic Heavy Metal
Release: 11th June 2021
Via WOD Records

invoke determination

Every now and then, an artist comes up with a solo project and gathers a bunch of singers to participate in it; Chrome Division’s bassist Damage Karlsen thought it was about time to take his turn. And given the melodic heavy metal nature of the songs he’s releasing here – in contrast to the rawer approach of his other band – I believe he just wanted to make something else and not exactly play the frontman role.

I don’t know how the choosing process took place – buddies he wanted to work with, artists he admires? – but what you feel when listening to each song is that it was written to whoever’s singing it. A raspy tone and a strong growl to go along the cranking riffs of “I Will Not Conform”? Maurice Adams (Horizon Ablaze) and Shagrath will ace the trick. A delicate ballad in need of a powerful, emotional voice to sync up with the orchestral arrangements of “Breathe (Little Angel)”? Well, that spells out Roy Khan. A somewhat high, clean pitch for the anthemic catchiness of “Insanity”? Trust Athera (Susperia) to get the job done. Fiery and dynamic, to match the title-track? Who better than Björn Strid?

The heaviest, fastest track is “Unleash The Rage” and even though Shagrath would’ve been a nice option, the sharper pitch of Thebon does indeed sound better here.

I almost didn’t recognize Chrome Division’s Eddie Guz on the acoustic “Spoke Of The Wheel”, given the (heart)broken ring that I’m not used to. But Mr. Damage knows his bandmates, so he knew damn well what he was doing with this sad song of his.

I’m usually not a big fan of long instrumental tracks and I made a face when read “5:48” in front of “Black Moon (instrumental)”. Then I listened to it and surrendered to its beauty. I should’ve known, though. After all, the whole album was built on elaborate guitar foundations, all songs featuring rich solos, classy licks… The mandatory instrumental track on a guitarist project had to be a match to such great work.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Sepultura – SepulQuarta

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 7th August 2021 by Pieni

Sepultura
“SepulQuarta”
Thrash metal
Release: 13th August 2021
Via Nuclear Blast Records

Sepultura - Sepulquarta

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to a new reality regarding live music, with online streaming of concerts and such. Still I’m having trouble considering “SepulQuarta” a live album, whether its tracks have been part of podcasts or not – if the songs were recorded at each musician’s home, that’s about twenty studios… I consider this a compilation album, the treat being the guests instead of that one new exclusive track which will make the fans buy a best-of even if they already have the whole discography. And that’s the kind of thing that totally rocks my boat.

It’s not like Scott Ian made any significant tweaks in “Cut Throat” or David Ellefson added some extra bass line to “Territory”, for instance, but you must admit that just knowing they’re there, knowing you’re listening to “Sepultura feat. Anthrax” and “Sepultura feat. Megadeth (or former Megadeth…)” it’s something else.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of Danko Jones, but I understand why they wanted him for a “clean version” of “Sepulnation”: his voice makes a perfect combination with Derrick’s and the song gets a whole new life.

The doom-ish “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering”, which already featured Emmily Barreto on its original version, gets a second round here, but honestly, it sounds pretty much like in “Quadra”. A little rawer, maybe, but really just a little. In my opinion, in terms of female guests, it’s the screaming – and chanting towards the end – of Fernanda Lira, Angélica Burns and Mayara Puertas in “Hatred Aside” that’s pure gold.

Despite what I’ve said before about Ellefson and Scott Ian – which applies to others like TestamentAlex Skolnick or Death AngelRob Cavestany – there are a few instrument players who make a difference, not jut the singers. João Barone and Charles Gavin add an extraordinary tribal drum solo to “Ratamahatta”, while Rafael Bittencourt replaces the drums in “Kaiowas” with his classic guitar, making a beautiful version of the instrumental track (am I allowed to say “beautiful” and “Sepultura” in the same sentence?).

“Mask” was the first promotional video for this album because, well, Devin Townsend is Devin Townsend. But don’t you think it’s more epic to have the original guitarist of a song you’ve covered 30 years ago playing it with you? I believe that’s why “Orgasmatron feat. Phil Campbell” is the last song on the record – to give it that “grand finale” touch.

9/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 12th June 2021 by Pieni

Fear Factory
“Aggression Continuum”
Industrial Metal
Release: 18th June 2021
Via Nuclear Blast Records

Fear Factory - Aggression Continuum

Sometimes reading the news sideways – or just the headlines, I admit – results in bittersweet surprises. Last autumn, almost at the same time, Dino Cazares announced the 10th Fear Factory album would be released the following year and then Burton C. Bell quit the band. So when Nuclear Blast sent us the “Aggression Continuum” promo for reviewing, I was eager to listen to the new chapter… only to find out that Bell still sings all tracks. My curiosity will have to wait – but the reason for the waiting was worthy.

Some bands have such a characteristic sound/nature that if they try and deviate a notch in order to stop repeating themselves, they risk losing the aforementioned character. The opening track, “Recode”, is brilliant in pushing the balance envelope: it’s definitely a Fear Factory song, taking you back to the “Demanufacture” era, but along the familiar riffing you have synthesized orchestral arrangements adding a classy refined touch. Still brutal as hell, but also refined. And Bell’s voice has a rougher edge here, enhancing the whole same-but-different vibe.

Of course that “Disruptor”, having these arrangements only in the chorus – and even there their presence is subtle – and being overall a much more aggressive song, was the one chosen to promote the album on YouTube. Yes, it’s probably the heaviest – and hence single-material – song, but so many others here offer a better notion of the industrial metal FF are about. The title-track, for instance, with its sci-fi ambiance, or the slamming “Cognitive Dissonance”, just to name a few.

Then there’s a certain groove in “Collapse” and catchiness in “Purity” that feels somewhat refreshing and yet is not exactly new in their writing process. And the guitar solo in “Monolith”? What a treat, but it’s probably the dark-ish ensemble of the song that made it my personal favorite.

So whatever the future holds for Fear Factory, I hope it’s similar to this.

8/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Ledfoot – Black Valley

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 6th June 2021 by Pieni

Ledfoot
“Black Valley”
Gothic blues
Release: 12th March 2021
Via TBC Records

ledfoot

Gothic blues… yeah, that’s a new one for me too – even if Ledfoot’s first release is dated 2007. It is the solo project of artist Tim Scott McConnell, who has been performing for about 40 years now, and it was he himself who came up with the name for this musical genre. True, he’s an old school goth, but I’d like to think the term “gothic blues” is more based in his darker approach to blues rock than in his apparel. Just like his own skilled fingers take more credit for the richness of his songs than the heavy 12-strings of the guitars he uses to create them.  

The melodies are obviously sad and McConnell’s voice brings such sadness alive, with strong and charming tones – whether it’s seductive, singing about a broken heart like in “Take Away The Hurt”, overwhelmed when singing about hopelessness like in “Poor Man’s Lullaby” or just candid like in the story lines of “Crossed My Heart” and “Falling Down”.

In a nutshell, Ledfoot is a more refined version of Johnny Cash and “Black Valley” a ride you don’t want to miss if you’re into these bluesy paths.

8/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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

wlwhnf

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