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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

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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

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

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