Author Archive

Hollywood Undead – Hotel Kalifornia

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 13th August 2022 by Pieni

Hollywood Undead
“Hotel Kalifornia”
Rap rock
Released: 12th August 2022
Via BMG / Dove & Grenade

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Every Hollywood Undead record is a box of surprises. If you thought “CHAOS” meant “Hotel Kalifornia” would follow the heaviness of “New Empire – Vol. 1”, then “Wild In These Streets” came and delivered that hip hop vibe they’ve started with in “Swan Songs”. In the end, all 14 tracks fire up in every kind of direction – pretty much like their whole discography – but with a feeling of “more” to each trait.

The drum patterns are more vibrant (“CHAOS”, “Hour Glass”), the guitars and bass are rougher and more striking (“Reclaim”, “Dangerous”), there’s more actual singing – not just from Danny (“City Of The Dead”, “Alright”) – while the rapping sounds more intense (“Trap God”, “Go To War”), the catchiness of songs such as “Happy When I Die” or “Alone At The Top” so much richer… Everything’s heightened, whether it comes from a more menacing nature or a more fetching one. And it’s funny how Hollywood Undead fuse so many styles, to the point where calling them “rap rock” doesn’t cover it (even if it’s the closest label to what they do), and yet manage to craft such a unique identity. The chorus to “Dangerous”, for instance, could fit in any Rage Against The Machine or Clawfinger track, but the song as a whole is definitely HU.

I won’t say it’s their best album so far, as each has its own signature, making it senseless to compare works so different from one another. But I will say that “Hotel Kalifornia” is probably the one where they’ve got the most out of their songwriting and performance skills.

9/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Less than a month until Laurus Nobilis returns

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 25th June 2022 by Pieni

In 2015, we brought you coverage of the 1st edition of Portuguese Summer festival Laurus Nobilis Music Famalicão – back then, with only one day dedicated to metal (see here). It would take them two more years/editions until they went full metal and fill the bill with only the kind of bands we most like. And then in 2020 COVID happened. 

Like so many other festivals and concerts in general, the festival was forced to postpone its edition, and if it had been possible to make it in 2021, the bill would have be the same. But for the same reason it wasn’t and for 2022 it suffered some major changes, like headliners As I Lay Dying not making it. On the other hand, it was the right opportunity for legendary Manowar to step in and include Portugal on their farewell tour – a country where they have a legion of fans and haven’t played in quite a while. That combined with all the other bands, our guess is that it’s going to be a blast of a return.

All detailed info can be found at https://www.laurusnobilis.pt/, in English, French, Portuguese or Spanish.

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R.A.M.P. w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 17th June 2022 by Pieni

R.A.M.P., Equaleft, Blame Zeus
Hard Club (Sala 2), Porto (PT)
10th June 2022
Promoted by Notredame Productions

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The name R.A.M.P. may not mean much (or anything at all) to you, but ask any Portuguese metalhead about them and you’ll realize they’re quite a legend in their home country. So when they release a new album – especially since it’s been 13 (?!) years since the last one -, crisis or not, you can count with an almost sold out venue.

It wasn’t really full when Blame Zeus got on stage though. Despite being a national holiday and I’m-running-late-because-I’m-working not being a valid excuse, people have this weird tendency of skipping the opening act..

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First thing I’ve noticed was the absence of bassist Bruno Branco, and I feared that another line-up change was on the way, but no – right after the first song “How To Successfully Implode”, Sandra Oliveira explained he “just” had tested positive for COVID (yes, kids, it is still a thing) the night before, giving them no time to find a suitable replacement. So backtracks and guitarist Tiago Lascasas swapping instruments on a couple of songs did the trick.

As they didn’t have long, they went with a classy selection mostly focused on their latest work ”Seethe”. Sandra first mentioned it as “new” but admitted right away that it didn’t make sense to call it such, as it had been released in late 2019 already; it just felt like that since the pandemic didn’t allow them to promote it properly.

R.A.M.P.-Rui Duarte is featured in the studio version of “Down To Our Bones”, so I knew who and which song would follow when Sandra announced a “very special guest”. I won’t say it was the highlight of the show, as it would wrongly take away Blame Zeus’ own merit, but it was indeed special.  “Burning Fields” ended a heavy-rock-prog performance that, even as a 4-piece, they delivered distinctively.

https://www.facebook.com/BlameZeus

equaleft22When Equaleft got on stage the place was already packed. After their concert in November 2021, they were supposed to stay off the road and work on the successor to “We Defy”, but this is already their second show (and more are to follow) without any news of the 3rd full length album; I guess the “call of the live” is just too strong to these groovers, and given the response they get every time, I can say we all love them for that. Even if it’s been quite a while since they’ve played “Invigorate”, with singer Miguel Inglês commanding the mosh circles with a Star Wars lightsaber (got the hint, lads?). Now that command is done more directly, with him and bassist André Matos jumping into the crowd and moshing around with them.

From the opening “Fragments” to the closing “Strive”, going through “Human” or “We Defy”, the frenzy on and off stage was everlasting. And it went on a bit after the last chord, as everyone struggled to reach forward and get one of the cookies that Miguel gives at the end of each Equaleft show.

https://www.facebook.com/equaleft

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It was then time to get to know how “Insidiously” sounded live. Released on April 1st via Rastilho Records, it’s no fool’s treat, believe me.The show began just like the record, with “Catatonic”, but it wasn’t a played-in-full kind of presentation; they just picked the songs which would work better on stage and mixed them with classics such as “How” or “Black Tie”. Of course these were the ones who almost made Hard Club come tumbling down with our roaring-along, but most of us also sang the newest. Hell, there was a guy next to me who knew all the lyrics better than Rui Duarte himself!

There were also all kinds of dedications – songs dedicated to those who don’t “follow the herd”, songs dedicated to those who have been betrayed, songs dedicated to those who keep on giving their best… I thought it was really funny dedicating“Alone” – probably their most sentimental ballad – to their “pals in the festival Um Metaleiro Também Chora” (which is Portuguese for “metalheads cry too”, and yes, such festival does exist), but even though I can’t remember which one it was (like I said, too many dedications…), what touched me the most was the one to Nando, former singer of another legend – currently extinct – W.C. Noise, who was there enjoying the show like there was no tomorrow. What can I say? I’m a sucker for these old school bonds.

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After the very last “Try Again” (featured in a 3-song encore), Rui introduced the band, leaving guitarist and founding member Ricardo Mendonça (“a man who needs no introduction”) for last – and I swear I saw his eyes watering with grateful happiness. Rui thanked us for these 34 years of full support and that even being far apart (well, nowadays 300km isn’t really that far, but “back in the day” it was), Porto was always in their hearts. Who cares if it sounds like a cliché when we know it’s true and feel exactly the same way?

https://www.facebook.com/rampoficial

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

CrashDïet w/ support – Madrid, Spain

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 29th May 2022 by Pieni

CrashDïet, Shiraz Lane, King Zebra
Sala Caracol, Madrid (ES)
25th May 2022
Promoted by Madness Live

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The golden age of glam & sleaze rock may have officially been the eighties, but there are a handful of bands capable of convincing you that such age is now. CrashDïet is one of them. After the “Rust” tour being cancelled due to the heinous pandemic in 2020, the release of “Automaton” late last month provided a payback in spades.

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The doors opened about 15 minutes after scheduled, but King Zebra got on stage at the announced time (19:30). Not sure of how many people knew the Swiss – I didn’t and yet I found myself singing along the catchy choruses of songs such as “We’re The Survivors” or “Under Destruction”, so maybe the words also got easily into other people’s brains – but everybody seemed real happy to see them. Thundermother’s Guernica Mancini wasn’t at the show, but King Zebra played “Wall Of Confusion” just the same and singer Eric St. Michaels was clearly proud of having such collaboration in the band’s discography. It was “Firewalker”, however – a song “very popular on Spotify” – that raised the spirits of the crowd a bit higher than they already were.

https://www.facebook.com/KINGZEBRA.band

shzln20221Shiraz Lane, on the other hand, had a lot of enthusiastic fans waiting for them. What a roar exploded at Sala Caracol when they hit the stage! They haven’t released a full-length album since “Carnival Days”, back in 2018, but its follow-up should be out soon, as a few new songs are already rolling on YouTube. One of them, “Disconnect From The Matrix”, was posted two days after this show but the Finns already graced us with it. Such a fiery performance from all members, but it was obviously singer Hannes Kett who had the chance to dance and jump around more, as well as bond with the audience with heartfelt speeches. When announcing the last song – which got a loud “NO!” in response, especially when Hannes said they had to play the following night for “your friends in Barcelona” (I wonder if there’s any country with no rivalry between its major cities…) – he said we must remember that love is the most important thing, more than ever. Then their own version of Savage Garden’s “To The Moon And Back” was on and in the last moments of it, Hannes went into the crowd to sing among us.

https://www.facebook.com/ShirazLane

CDT20223I believe Gabriel Keyes was somewhat sick, or at least tired. Wait, let me rephrase it – his voice might have been tired, ‘cause the way he rocked that stage through and through was evidence of a powerful energy. It was the first time I was seeing him live, but I’d seen videos – including the Quarantine Thrills – so I know what his voice is capable of outside a recording studio. Changing the higher pitches into lower ones in order to not go out of tune was a bit disappointing at first, but eventually I got used to it and had to appreciate the effort (one CrashDïet gig cancelled was enough in my book). I’m still bummed that they didn’t play “Shine On”, though, as it’s probably my favorite song out of “Automaton” and I know they had played it in the previous dates of the tour. But listening to so many “oldies” such as “Tikket”, “It’s A Miracle” (dedicated to all of us, for being there after all the world’s been through in the past couple of years), “Breakin’ The Chainz” and “Queen Of Obscene” (yes, and “Riot In Everyone”, of course, but that one is mandatory) certainly made up for the absence of my most recent fav track. Curiously enough, despite being the “Automaton Tour”, they’ve only played two songs off it – “Together Whatever”,which opened the show and made everyone go wild right from the start, and later on “No Man’s Land”. And from “Rust”, the first album featuring Gabriel, only “Reptile” came up. It’s great to see he feels so comfortable singing all those songs he didn’t originally record – they’re CrashDïet songs and he’s their current (hopefully last!) lead singer. Period!

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More or less in the middle of the show, he stepped off stage (maybe to rest his voice?) and let guitarist Martin Sweet sing a Nirvana song (“Territorial Pissings”). What an unexpected blast, and I don’t even like Nirvana that much! What I wasn’t expecting either was to see both King Zebra and Shiraz Lane members getting on stage and singing “Generation Wild” at the end of the show That’s the kind of thing that usually happens when wrapping up tours so it’s quite an understatement to say I was really glad that these bands don’t go by “the usual”.  

https://www.facebook.com/realcrashdiet

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

CrashDïet – Automaton

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 5th May 2022 by Pieni

CrashDïet
“Automaton”
Glam/sleaze rock
Released: 29th April 2022
Via Dïet Records

crashdiet-automation

As many shades as glam & sleaze music can take, one can only go too far without stepping out of character and keeping the outcome fresh at the same time. But six albums later, CrashDïet still nail it.

“Together Whatever”  has the carefree rhythm and triumphant message of a rock anthem – the same formula they’ve used in the past with “Riot In Everyone” or “Generation Wild”, and yet sounds so state-of-the-art.

I’ve once said something about CrashDïet taking in the traits of the golden ages of glam rock and making them their own in the present day, and “Shine On” is the epitome of such statement – a tribute to the eighties, the electronic undertones and the defiant chanting finishing a true earworm with class.

The beginning of “Dead Crusade” is a dead ringer (no pun intended) of “Anarchy”, true, but it soon evolves to something more seductive, something you’d want to sway to instead of acting up. In fact, the melodies of this album are the richest (so far) in their discography – no, I don’t mean just the weeping of the acoustic guitar in “I Can’t Move On (Without You)” but, for instance, every catchy bit of “Darker Minds” or “We Die Hard”. The same fiery songwriting but a more elaborate, more mature result. The older, the wiser?

And speaking of wise… to say I’m not the biggest fan of Steel Panther is an understatement, but I acknowledge the legends they’ve become, and if the Swedes needed a somewhat-husky-sexy voice to contrast with Gabriel’s bright pitch in the pulsing “Powerline”, Michael Starr was definitely the smartest move.

Wherever Dave Lepard’s soul may be, I’m sure it’s proud.

9/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Warrior Soul – Out On Bail

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 17th April 2022 by Pieni

Warrior Soul
“Out On Bail”
Hard Rock
Released: 4th March 2022
Via Cargo Records

warrior-soul-out-on-bail

As factual as the expression “Out On Bail” may sound, given that it was the title chosen by Warrior Soul for their latest album, it must be seen as some kind of defying statement. When listening to the opening track, “We’re Alive”, one can clearly hear the “we’re back in the game” message of someone who has just done time. The cliché motto of every insurgent in “One More For The Road”. The scorn towards white-collar offenders in “Hip Hip Hurray”. A whole rebel speech/attitude, and so I guess the raw, almost punk approach fits. The same with Kory Clarke’s voice, which is way hoarser than I remember. No, scratch that – it IS hoarser than it used to be, nothing to do with my memory; time’s just gone by and wasn’t at all kind to his singing skills. And after two or three songs, you can’t help but reconsider that “broken” is more accurate than “hoarse”. Especially when the songs themselves are played in a somewhat sloppy manner. Yes, I know I’ve mentioned a punk-ish approach and so a reckless performance could be part of the picture. But something feels off. “Cancelled Culture”, however, has a pretty catchy rhythm – that bass intro bringing a smile to my face – but then Clarke tries to sing along such catchiness and he just can’t keep up, and what could’ve been the one song I’d actually enjoy, turns out to be another disappointment. So I choose “End Of The World” as the best track here, as it shows a more elaborate and melodic guitar work, with an edgy vibe to it, where Clarke spoils it a little but doesn’t ruin it completely…

4.5/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Pieni’s Highlights of 2021

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2021 by Pieni

2021 was way less tough than 2020 but it was still tough enough. In November I’ve finally attended some gigs with no restrictions, but in December this new COVID-19 strain brought some new rules and I’m getting a little apprehensive regarding some plans I’ve made.. But I’ll talk about it in the “expectations for 2022”. I’m still including one live stream in my top-5 gigs because the “real” ones didn’t happen before June and that one in April (which included an unplugged section and stories about the songs they’ve performed) still meant a lot to me:

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  1. Infraktor at Metalpoint (Porto)
  2. Equaleft at Hard Rock Cafe (Porto)
  3. Hollywood Undead at MixOne Sound (“Undead Unhinged” live stream)
  4. GoDark at Metalpoint (Porto)
  5. Sugiru at Metalpoint (Porto)

My favorite records:

Aeromantic II
  1.  “Aeromantic II” by The Night Flight Orchestra
  2. “Worship” by Hypocrisy
  3. “Hermitage” by Moonspell
  4. “SepulQuarta” by Sepultura
  5. “Aggression Continuum” by Fear Factory

From big movie-like productions to the simplicity of the ocean, going through animation, here are the videos whose producers I tip my hat to the most:

  1. “Burn For Me” by The Night Flight Orchestra
  2. “Funeral Derangements” by Ice Nine Kills
  3. “Treading Water” by Danny Rose
  4. “Ich hasse Kinder” by Till Lindemann
  5. “Children Of The Gray” by Hypocrisy

My expectations for 2022 are, in general, all the postponed concerts and festivals that should have taken place in the last couple of years. But then there are these specific items:

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  1. This is the 4th time I put here the 4th Hills Have Eyes album, so let’s hope that the matching number 4 is the lucky strike…
  2. The Hollywood Undead headlining gig in Hanover (June).
  3. The W.A.S.P. 40th anniversary gig in Madrid (March).
  4. Really curious about The Halo Effect album (and gig in Lisbon).
  5. A chance to see Pitch Black live, after missing their long-awaited return due to health issues.

Enjoy 2022 as much as possible, peeps. Stay safe.

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Hypocrisy – Worship

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 21st November 2021 by Pieni

Hypocrisy
“Worship”
Death metal
Release: 26th November 2021
Via Nuclear Blast Records
worship

I was sure “End Of Disclosure” had been released in 2013 but when doing the math… I had to double-check on Google, as it seemed surreal that it took eight years for Hypocrisy to come up with something new. So the inevitable question is: was it worth the wait?

Peter Tägtgren’s growls have always had a screeching pitch underlining them, but this time he generally goes for a graver, thicker tone, and that alone gives the whole thing a more somber vibe. I understand you may think it compromises his trademark vocals, but in the end you’ll agree it simply suits with those songs. And mind that I’ve said “generally” – if you’ve checked the three videos that were released in the past couple of months, you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I say “graver and thicker” by listening to “Chemical Whore” or “Dead World”; but then in the brilliant “Children Of The Gray” (oh, how intense this one is! Made me feel exactly how I’ve felt as a teenager, when listening to “Roswell 47” for the first time!), this tone comes on only in the chorus, while Tägtgren hits the rest of the song with his dear ol’ voice. The title-track, which opens the record with a beautiful acoustic intro before merging into an electric version of it and then exploding into the fastest and most shredding song here, has also glimpses of that higher pitch – not to mention straightforward terrorizing screams in the beginning. And still regarding the singing parts, being a sucker for choirs and gang vocals, backing up a handful of choruses with these gave the album a richer and more mature sound.

Musically, well, it’s Hypocrisy. They don’t write exactly the most top-notch riffs or the most elaborate solos and beat patterns, but the way they combine them has always been the key to their creativity and popularity – and it still is. Along with “Worship” and “Dead World”, “Another Day” brings you the most aggressive side of death metal, just as “Brotherhood Of The Serpent”, “Greedy Bastards” or “Gods Of The Underground” remind you that toning down the tempo can be just as fierce. And while “They Will Arrive” bears a triumphant stride, “We’re The Walking Dead” will make you feel like you’re walking on a death row…

So I guess by now you already know my answer: oh yes, it was worth it!

8,5

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Eyes – Perfect Vision 20/20

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 24th September 2021 by Pieni

Eyes
“Perfect Vision 20/20”
Melodic rock/Rock FM
Released: 4th June 2021
Via GMR Music

perfectvision2020

Remember Starship? Or the first three Bon Jovi albums? Or any other band/record with that catchy harder-than-pop-but-not-really-hard-rock eighties sound? There you go!

The tenacity of the bass in “Playing To Win” gives the song the attitude its title preaches, and that’s probably why it’s the opening track; still I think the bundle of mysterious keyboards and wailing guitars of “Turn Of Your Life” would make a bigger impact as an intro.

While the grace of the mandatory ballad, “This Is Us”, feels like a tribute to Whitesnake, the sharp gait of “Falling In Between (The Joker)” is for Eyes what “Addicted To That Rush” was for Mr. Big. Please mind that I’m mentioning all these other bands just as a reference, in order to give you context – I’m not even sure if they’re among Eyes’ influences. Yes, there’s a familiar note throughout this record but it comes from the aforementioned eighties/early nineties vibe, not from some kind of Xerox of someone else’s music.

The perky rhythm of “Never Back Down” or “Shot Down In Flames”, or the upbeat groove of “More Than Meets The Eye” and “Cry Another Day”, those are the kind of formulas used so many times before, and yet worthy of being used some more. Not exactly perfect as the title claims (although, given the band’s name, it was a brilliant choice), but good enough to be recommended to all melodic rockers out there.

7/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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