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Overkill – The Grinding Wheel

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 7th February 2017 by Pieni

Overkill
“The Grinding Wheel”
Thrash metal
Release: 10th February 2017
Via Nuclear Blast

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I’m having mixed feelings about Overkill’s new album. Maybe my expectations were too high after Testament’s “Brotherhood Of The Snake” and Kreator’s “Gods Of Violence”, and also an underground project called Infraktor that I’ve been keeping close tabs on; my thrash metal flame’s been rekindled and was eager for “The Grinding Wheel” to keep fueling it. But…

The length of the songs is an automatic downer for me. Yes, it’s not exactly new that Overkill like to shred away longer than the rest of their fellow thrash bands, but I believe it’s the first time they’re pulling an average of six minutes per song (literally, kids – it’s ten songs in one hour; do the math). That’s just too much.

At least they diversify the structure and it’s not the same riff over and over plus a 3-minute solo; it doesn’t get boring out of repetition and here lie my mixed feelings. Crafted compositions are clear, rich with groovy patterns, but some kind of binding agent is amiss. The opening track, “Mean Green Killing Machine”, for instance. The introductory drum beats are promising but soon reveal they’re not getting anywhere; a Judas-Priest-like melody and the rock’n’roll piece that it leads to are both pretty catchy, but fall somewhat adrift among the main riffing.

One of the features I’ve always loved the most in Overkill was their bass line, but D.D. Verni’s presence here is shallower than usual – needless to say, another downer. And as if that wasn’t enough, in “Shine On”, one of the songs where the bass stands out a little, Bobby Blitz sounds like a chicken when singing “come on” in the chorus, ruining the moment.

Curiously enough, one of my favorite tracks is less thrash, as the aforementioned rock’n’roll comes at full force in “Come Heavy”. But the rebellious “Red White And Blue” follows suit in terms of preferences and that one is as thrashy as it goes. The rest of the album… well, let’s just say that it lives up to its title: it… grinds.

3,5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

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Sabaton w/ guests – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 28th January 2017 by Pieni

Sabaton, Accept, Twilight Force
Coliseu, Porto (PT)
20th January 2017
Promoted by Prime Artists

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“The Last Tour” – named after the album “The Last Stand”, not after some early desire of retirement – hit Porto at one of its biggest and renowned venues. A bit bold, as it turned out. True, the last time Sabaton played here, Hard Club sold out its 1000-person capacity, but Coliseu holds six times that number. On the other hand, with the background videowall and all the apparatus, Hard Club’s stage wouldn’t have been big enough.

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dsc_0014-copyThe name Twilight Force hinted of power metal, and the dragon in the backdrop brought a positive certainty, even before the fast, chirpy melodies flooded the halls. A strange mix but they’re from Falun too and Chrileon was even Sabaton’s live backup singer back in the day (and rumor has it that the Spartans in the Sabaton song are played by four of them but I haven’t been able to confirm it) so from a friendship point of view, a fantasy power metal band opening for a militant heavy metal one makes perfect sense.
Chrileon got on stage wielding a sword to the sound of “Battle Of Arcane Might”. I don’t think many people knew them, but their high-spirits were contagious and soon everybody was riding along their “adventurous metal”. Funny blokes too, always teasing each other with a smile on their faces. “Gates Of Glory” was particularly welcomed by the crowd but the whole show left a positive mark.

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www.facebook.com/twilightforce/

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00000196-copyThe “Generation Clash” – song they sadly didn’t play – went wild the moment Christopher Williams stood behind the drums screaming in salute. We have a saying in Portugal that goes something like “old are the rags”, meaning that “old” is a word that shouldn’t be applied to people, and the youthful attitude that Wolf Hoffmann & Co. put on that night could as well be the incarnation of such saying. From recent tracks like “Stampede” and “Stalingrad” to classics such as “Princess Of The Dawn” and the mandatory “Metal Heart” and “Balls To The Wall”, there wasn’t a single moment where “age” meant nothing more than “experience”. The synced headbanging and guitar hero poses, which I usually find so cliche, just felt right this time. I guess it all depends on who’s bringing the cliches to life after all. My heart was full.

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www.facebook.com/accepttheband/

00000426-copyEven though I was happy to see the old schoolers getting off their couches to support Accept, I was sad to see many of them leave and not give a chance to Sabaton. Well, their loss – as usual, the Swedes kicked ass. Even if I appreciated the 2014 gig more, their performance skills are unquestionable.
00000433-copyThey’ve been using their cover of Status Quo “In The Army Now” as intro since the beginning of the tour, so it’s not in memory of the Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt, who died last Christmas Eve. But it was a beautiful coincidence, and nice change – as much as I love Europe’s “The Final Countdown”.
Besides the powerful songs – “Ghost Division”, “Carolus Rex”, “Primo Victoria”, “To Hell And Back”, just to name a few – and their lively presence, their good humor and empathy towards the public are just as popular. When the show was halfway through, a roadie brought a keyboard and Joakim reminded us (well, informed, as some may not know the origins of the band) that he started out as Sabaton’s keyboard player. But when he started playing Van Halen’s “Jump” it became clear he wasn’t going to resume the role that night. Chris Rörland claimed that Tommy Johansson really knew how to play piano and to prove so, the new guitarist played a little of Beethoven’s “Für Elise”. From there, he engaged on their own “The Final Solution”, in a beautiful acoustic version.

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Later on, someone would throw a horned helmet with the Swedish colors that Joakim put on, saying that he probably looked like a “palhaço”. That’s Portuguese for clown, and the whole venue burst out laughing. And in the end, he tied a Portuguese flag on his back, like a cape, super-hero style, wondering if his super power would be being the best football player in the world. Great musicians, great performers and funny – what more could one ask from a metal show?

www.facebook.com/sabaton/

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Kreator – Gods Of Violence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 24th January 2017 by Pieni

Kreator
“Gods Of Violence”
thrash metal
Released: 27th January 2017
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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“Gods Of Violence” or how to make the same thing and still sound fabulous.

When “Phantom Antichrist” was released, I used keywords such as technique, melody and elaborate guitars; now, almost five years later, the same words pop up in my mind. Yet it doesn’t leave a taste of repetitiveness but of… familiarity.

Living up to its name, “Apocalypticon” is an epic promise of war, a promise that starts being fulfilled right afterwards, with the fierceness of “World War Now”. Some sharp melody in-between makes it both classic and classy.

“Satan Is Real” is the other side of the coin – still belligerent, still menacing, but the rhythm is more grinding than shredding. There’s even some symphonic elements here and there to emphasize the throbs.

“Totalitarian Terror” is something I’ll love to hear live, a thrash hymn, with a catchy, sing-along chorus.

Okay, I admit some of the acoustic chords of the title-track are a subtle reminder of Metallica’s “Fade To Black”, but the rest of the song is very Kreator-like and another strong candidate to a live favorite.

The spunky spirit of “Army Of Storms”, the force of “Hail To The Hordes”, the mischief of “Lion With Eagle Wings”, the militant “Fallen Brother”, that weeping solo of “Side By Side”, “Death Becomes My Light” brings over a little more semi-acoustic moments – these not similar to any other band’s – before galloping away at full speed… Kreator are able of pulling out sophisticated tweaks off their sleeves, delivering exactly what is expected of them, both as a thrash metal band and as a veteran, professional act.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

20 years of “Diva” – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 14th January 2017 by Pieni

Heavenwood, La Chanson Noire
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
30th December 2016
Promoted by Raising Legends

Heavenwood’s debut album “Diva” was released on the 27th of August in 1996. I won’t say it feels like yesterday but it certainly doesn’t feel like 20 years ago either. “They went by quickly”, to quote singer Ernesto Guerra.

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Carlos Monteiro, a.k.a. Charles Sangnoir, and his one-man project La Chanson Noire was invited to open up the night. I was surprised with the choice, but then again, after seeing thrashcore and prog-rock acts playing with Heavenwood before, the “bleak pop” of La Chanson Noire made perfect sense. A piano backed up by some samples and a single voice, playing satirical “cabaret goth” songs. A weird mix, yes, but that’s what makes it interesting. The crowd preferred to stay back, but they were clearly enjoying themselves to songs such as “Familia Chantilly” (chantilly family) or “O Bordel de Lúcifer” (Lucifer’s brothel) – the latter even played by request, although it would surely be played later on.

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www.facebook.com/chansonnoire

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Any proper anniversary show includes the celebratory album performed in full and “Diva” was no different. Hmm… no, that’s not right. I mean, they did play the whole album, in the same order as the studio version, but the feeling they put on it wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen by them. Well, in Vagos it was really close, but let’s face it – nothing like a debut album released 20 years ago to make things a lot more special. It’s funny how I hadn’t heard some of those songs in ages and still knew the lyrics word by word. Ah, the power of good music.

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At some point, Ernesto thanked everybody for their presence and also the past members who helped making that record – Zé, Mário, João and Bruno – and also thr.e one member who departed way too early but is always on their minds, Rui Santos (R.I.P.). Last but not least, roadie and jack-of-all-trades Paulo Magalhães. It felt really good to hear all those names acknowledged out loud, after all these years.

 photo DSC_0644 copy_zps99yi7jb9.jpgAfter the stellar performance of “Diva” the band left the stage to return moments later with “The Arcadia Order”. 2016 also saw the birth of “The Tarot Of The Bohemians” and its songs were the ones the crowd knew the lyrics best, but the enthusiasm was equal, no matter which track/album. Blame Zeus-Sandra couldn’t make her usual appearance at “The High Priestess”, and in no way would I ever discredit her, but Ernesto singing her parts sounded quite exotic and the song got a new dynamic. It was one of those nights when nothing went wrong.

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www.facebook.com/HeavenwoodOfficial

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Pieni’s highlights of 2016

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2016 by Pieni

This year it was really REALLY tough to choose just 5 shows (Sam Alone, The Mission and Heavenwood should also be there somewhere):
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  1. Hills Have Eyes at Canecas Bar (Paços de Ferreira)
  2. Sonic Syndicate at Göta Källare (Stockholm)
  3. Moonspell at Pavilhão Multiusos (Guimarães)
  4. More Than A Thousand at Time Out Market (Lisboa)
  5. Testament at Coliseu (Porto)

The albums were easier:
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  1. “Stand Up, Forward, March!” by Sister
  2. “Confessions” by Sonic Syndicate
  3. “Atoma” by Dark Tranquillity
  4. “When Patsy Cline Was Crazy…” by Ricky Warwick
  5. “Brotherhood Of The Snake” by Testament

My video top-5 is “lighter” than last year’s: two emotional, one a kind of tribute, and two funny as hell:

  1. “The Beat” by Satan Takes A Holiday
  2. “Make It Right” by Hills Have Eyes
  3. “I Apologize” by Five Finger Death Punch
  4. “The Great Disillusion” by Betraying The Martyrs
  5. “Call Me” by Pain

Anticipations/expectations for 2017:
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  1. Infraktor – a “gourmet thrash metal” all-star project who I’m proud of being close to, hence keeping tabs on. Let’s see how others will receive them.
  2. Hills Have Eyes – saw some new pictures of the boys in the studio. Needless to say I’m thrilled.
  3. Equaleft – yep, something’s still brewing…
  4. Five Finger Death Punch – “Got Your Six” isn’t my favorite 5FDP album but it’s still good enough. Let’s see if what they’re up to now pleases me more.
  5. Guns N’ Roses – this is a live expectation. I’m having totally mixed feelings about this reunion. Not even sure if I’ll go to the Portugal show, so I’m also expectant on what my final decision will be…

Happy New Year peeps!

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Sister – Stand Up, Forward, March!

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , on 26th December 2016 by Pieni

Sister
“Stand Up, Forward, March!”
sleaze rock
Released: 25th November 2016
Via Metal Blade Records

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Sister’s debut “Hated” is a sleaze punk treat. Then for their sophomore “Disguised Vultures” they went heavier and wilder. And now with “Stand Up, Forward, March!”, they stood somewhere in-between, glamming up the sleaze and the wild.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this happened after Martin Sweet joined the ranks – after all, he’s responsible for all those juicy guitars in Crashdïet. But I don’t want to give him all the credit as the rest of the band has proven their writing skills aren’t raw. Still, once you hear the guitar solos in songs such as “Trail Of Destruction”, “Carry On” or “Endangered Species”, you sense a refinement which you can’t help but associate with Sweet’s work.

The album kicks off with the fiery “Destination Dust” and wraps it up with the joyful “Piece Of Shame” (“I’m too perfect to die” is a hell of a chorus to be sung at any party) – pretty much Sister style. But they also took a few new things and used them in their own way, like the hints of blues they’ve twisted for “Unbeliever”, the ritualistic chants and melancholy that “Let It Bleed” features, or the somewhat old school goth outline melody – as in The Sisters Of Mercy and such – upon which “Liberation Song” was built. And in the end, it all sounded like Sister just the same.

Sister’s best album so far? Probably. Best album of 2016 on my personal list? Definitely!

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Exist Immortal – Breathe

Posted in 'Core, CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 17th December 2016 by Pieni

Exist Immortal
“Breathe”
progressive metalcore
Released: 3rd November 2016
Via Primordial Records

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So, progressive metalcore is a thing, eh? Not sure why these labels still surprise me… A more common one is “experimental metal”, but then again, “Breathe” goes beyond common, making the fancy “progressive metalcore” somewhat more fitting.

This is their second full-length record, and even if “Darkness Of An Age” shaped what they sound like now, “Breathe” exhales (pun intended) a refinement that the debut lacked. Refinement and maturity, as their eagerness in thinking outside the box took them just far enough. For instance, the fooling-around with the tempo in “Saviour” is never too daring; the weeping guitars in “In Hindsight” are never too grieving, the same way the brutality in “Invisible Lines” isn’t too callous. The songwriting was carefully laid out in order to sound exquisite but not weird. There’s also a purpose behind every breakdown of “Follow Alone” and the bluesy hints of the title-track aren’t random, so no matter how elaborate and sophisticated the melodies turn out (the ominosity of “Release” is quite stunning, by the way), they will flow easily through both the most demanding and the more straight-forward ear-drums. But it’s still a piece that I would especially recommend to those with a taste for modern aggression.

4,5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino