Author Archive

In Flames – Battles

Posted in Metal with tags , , , , , on 10th November 2016 by Pieni

In Flames
“Battles”
Melodic death metal
Released: 11th November 2016
Via Nuclear Blast

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When “Siren Charms” was released a couple of years ago, I complained about “its lack of ability to embrace my senses and leave a positive remark” (review here). Well I’m happy to say that ability has returned. Not that “Battles” is a masterpiece, but it features some memorable tweaks, in both ear-worm and impressive meanings of the word.

I remember a lot of people complaining when Anders Fridén gave up on growling. I wasn’t one of them not only because I appreciate Fridén’s current tone but also because I don’t think that measures a band’s level of heaviness – listen to all those pop-metal acts with a growler and you’ll know what I mean. Plus, the desperate inflection his voice carries is just as brutal; the opener “Drained” will prove me right.

Still on a vocal analysis, but the teen choir’s in “The End” and the ballad “Here Until Forever”. I’m a sucker for gang backing vocals, but the cheer of this 2.0 version of it has been growing on me; it’s just as catchy and it will have a hell of an effect live, as I doubt anyone will be able not to sing along. That and the march-wise clapping hands in “The Truth”.

There’s a loud guitar work in here as well, but that has never been an issue for In Flames, so it’s really no surprise. Still I’d like to mention “Underneath My Skin” and the 2-minute dark, almost experimental instrumental piece featured in “Wallflower”. Oh, and the seduction of “In My Room” – no sexual pun intended. It just gives away this enthralling vibe.

So again, no, this isn’t In Flames best work, but it definitely has its moments – lots of them.

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

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Dark Tranquillity – Atoma

Posted in CD with tags , , , , , on 5th November 2016 by Pieni

Dark Tranquillity
“Atoma”
Melodic death metal
Released: 4th November 2016
Via Century Media

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I’m all pro-change and moving forward in a different direction, but when a band manages to keep doing the same and still sound awesome, said band gets kudos from me. So congrats, Dark Tranquillity, you’ve just earned a ton of them.

“Atoma” is their 11th album and still features all the traits that Swedish melodeath fans love. So if the title-track and “Our Proof Of Life” both bear some upbeat melodies and can still sound pretty somber, you’ll face straightforward ominous and obscure vibes in songs like “Forward Momentum” or “A Force Of Hand”“Merciless Fate” even borders the goth metal zone.

Or those fast outbursts in “The Pitiless” and “When The World Screams” and then the catchy choruses in “Clearing Skies” and “Neutrality”. And the epic grand finale in the form of “Caves And Embers”.

It’s such a rich combination of vocals, guitars (bass included) and keyboards – so Dark Tranquillity – that the outcome could only be 5/5. In fact, those are the key-words here: Dark Tranquillity style. ‘Nuff said.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Porto Best Of – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Festival, Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 31st October 2016 by Pieni

Tarantula, Equaleft, Redemptus
Rivoli Theatre, Porto (PT)
19th October 2016
Promoted by Miguel Guedes and Porto City Hall

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In a country with deep roots in metal but where such music is still much frowned at, having the City Hall backing up a metal event is a big thing. Even if we had to watch the concerts sitting down… I confess I was expecting the audience would eventually stand up, but that didn’t happen. Guess we wanted to prove the City Hall and the classy Rivoli theatre staff that we were all civilized, law-abiding citizens.
Calling it “Porto Best Of” is probably a tad pretentious, especially when there was only three bands on the bill, but then again, it showed respect for who was performing.

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The first of those bands was Redemptus, a sludge/post-metal act that was formed two years ago in S. João da Madeira (yeah, the “Porto” part is also misleading). Why them and not some other with a longer career? Well, first, they’re good, and that’s reason enough; but there’s a second, which lies in their members having been around way longer and built quite a career in several different projects. Surrounded by smoke and dim-lit by red lights, the trio performed pieces featured in their debut “We All Die The Same”, released by Raging Planet Records early last year.

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For Equaleft the darkness remained but now in shades of blue. At least now we had permission to shoot the first two songs in front of the stage (thanks for that, André). This was the second to last show promoting “Adapt & Survive” (review here) and, sadly, also the next-to-farewell performance of drummer Marcos – his personal life got to a point where playing in such an active band as Equaleft wasn’t possible anymore.
It was really weird watching Equaleft sitting down. While it’s easily manageable to headbang in that position to Redemptus’ sound, Equaleft’s groove makes your whole body pulse and the urge for movement is harder to control. But we did it, somehow. As for the band themselves, they didn’t stop and the floor literally throbbed to songs like “New False Horizons”, “Invigorate” (the light-saber song) or “When Ruin Becomes A Bliss”.

 photo JORGEMARQUES_zps265pomke.jpgTarantula is one of the biggest names in our heavy metal history so even though they haven’t been playing much and their latest record dates from 2010, it made sense to have them headlining this event. Their career hits the 35-year mark, if we count the four years going by Mac Zac. In 1990 they would release what’s considered their most significant album, “Kingdom Of Lusitania”, and that’s the album they celebrated that night. Among the big hits of the rest of their discography, that is, such as “You Can Always Touch The Sky”, “Freedom’s Call” or “Face The Mirror”. No “Power Tower”, though a few fans asked for it… Still, in the end, I didn’t see any disappointment in the almost sold out theatre except for that – that it had ended. After more than three decades, Tarantula still know how to pull a great heavy metal show and make you sing along and raise your fists like there’s no tomorrow.
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I believe bands and audience proved that metal is something worth supporting and that more events like this will follow. I just hope they reconsider the chairs…

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 27th October 2016 by Pieni

Testament
“Brotherhood Of The Snake”
thrash metal
Release: 28th October 2016
Via Nuclear Blast

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Formed in 1983 as Legacy, Testament were forced to change their name – the usual there’s-already-a-band-with-that-name thing – and that change happened three years later. So even if their whole history is a bit older, Testament turn 30 this year. What better way to celebrate than releasing a pure thrash metal record, probably the best they’ve done in years?

‘Cause that’s what “Brotherhood Of The Snake” is – a thrash metal bliss. We use the expression “breath of fresh air” whenever a band adds something new to the genre, but it’s just as refreshing when a band manages to stay in character and makes it sound like a novelty.

The fierceness and excellence of their songwriting is surely well known, but you still won’t be expecting the blow that your ears will take with the title-track or “The Number Game”.

The machine-gun speed with which Chuck Billy sings “Stronghold” will remind you of songs such as “Over The Wall” and the gang chorus has the same power as the one in “Into The Pit”; similar formula, including the hit-potential, but you won’t feel like you’ve heard it all before. “Refreshing”, remember?

Same with “Seven Seals”, where they go for something less aggressive but still heavy, like they did with “Souls Of Black”, or the headbang-friendly “Neptune’s Spear” that’s as catchy as “Electric Crown”, but it’s just the nature that’s comparable – “The Brotherhood Of The Snake” offers ten distinctive, killer songs which will renew your faith in thrash metal.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Assassinner – Another Sucker Subscribes To The Norm [single]

Posted in CD, Metal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 30th September 2016 by Pieni

Assassinner
“Another Sucker Subscribes To The Norm” [single]
thrash/crossover
Self-released in May 2016

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Assassinner’s “aggressive music for aggressive people” seems to have toned down a little bit in this 2-track single; either that or producer Carlos Barbosa made each instrument sound so sharp that I’m mistaking classy, high definition for less raw music. Whichever the case, the outcome is what I want to hear in the next full-length record.

I remind you that I said “less aggressive than usual”, not that the aggression was gone, so don’t be fooled by the A-Side title “Sweet Lullaby”. Unless you use “sweet” as “cool/great/peachy” when expressing your appreciation for that ominous mantra-like guitar piece towards the end, which can turn this song into an ear-worm.
Still my favorite is the B-Side, “Hate Over Grown”, as I’m a sucker (no pun intended…) for a vibrant bass line and there’s also something about the main riff. In a time when singles are somewhat underrated, Assassinner came up with something worthy.

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Pain – Coming Home

Posted in CD, Industrial with tags , , , , on 8th September 2016 by Pieni

Pain
“Coming Home”
Industrial metal
Released: 9th September 2016
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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After Peter Tägtgren’s adventure with Till Lindemann last year, I thought he would focus on his “metal side” and release something with Hypocrisy. He didn’t. He stayed on the industrial track and Pain’s 8th studio album, “Coming Home”, came to life. Not that I’m complaining – I’m not included in the “you” that the opener “Designed To Piss You Off” targets – as this record is quite something. With big emphasis on orchestral arrangements, the melodies achieve a new level of dynamics; not enough to come up with a term like “symphonic industrial metal”, but its presence is strongly embedded – from the background of the grinding beat of “Pain In The Ass” to the highlights in the chorus of the acoustic, title-track ballad.

“A Wannabe” is also a ballad that starts up acoustic but has more spirit to it, very Pain-ish; and “Starseed”’s slow tempo sounds… haunting, like the soundtrack of old horror movies.

“Call Me” and “Final Crusade” are the heaviness prime ambassadors here, the former featuring Sabaton-Joakim Brodén to enhance the metal vibe – which doesn’t affect the catchiness of the chorus -, the latter literally marching down our ear canal. The aforementioned “Designed To Piss You Off” follows suit, although a great part of it is more rocky than heavy, with a whiff of American Old West. “Absinthe Phoenix Rising” is a nice rock tune as well.

And then “Black Knight Satellite” (ha, Peter and his alien conspiracy theories…) and “Natural Born Idiot” deliver some fetching electronic pieces, with that infectious rhythm your body just can’t resist to.

But despite all this diversity, all tracks blend together and fit naturally as “a part of the whole” that is “Coming Home”. Tägtgren and friends – including his own son Sebastian on the drums – took Pain one more step forward, introducing new elements without compromising the original identity of the project. Go Pain!

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Aktaion – The Parade Of Nature

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 29th August 2016 by Pieni

Aktaion
“The Parade Of Nature”
melodic death metal
Self-released on 29th July 2016

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“The Parade Of Nature”, Aktaion’s sophomore album, is said to be for “fans of Soilwork, Killswitch Engage, Gojira – which I find quite misleading. “Candid Flow Of The Shrapnel Dust” has indeed a whiff of Gojira but it soon vanishes away; it’s mostly the melodic part in “melodic death metal” that’s far too gloomy – almost depressive – that make the aforementioned recommendation unfit. It doesn’t mean fans of those bands won’t like this, of course, but they wouldn’t be the first, or even the second target audience to come to my mind.

I’m having really mixed feelings about this. The technical guitar structure (like in “Gold Coloured Dreams”), with Christopher Amott throwing in some killer solos in a few songs (listen to the title track), all the experiments with the vocals – both clean and rough (“Walrus March”) – plus the occasional almost-prog shifts in tempo and the long duration of the tracks, all these features scream originality, which I always praise. But somehow the final outcome is messy. Maybe that’s Aktaion’s goal, as these songs are meant to reflect “a time with no hope nor a bright future” – and that they surely do.

3/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino