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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

VOA Fest 2016 – 2nd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12th August 2016 by Pieni

Kreator, Paradise Lost, Abbath, Schammasch, Equaleft, Soldier
Quinta da Marialva, Corroios (PT)
6th August 2016
Promoted by Prime Artists and PEV Entertainment

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This year saw a new start for Vagos Open Air, now simply known by its acronym VOA – new partnership among the promoters, new venue in a new city… The quality? Same as always. Of course all these changes brought along a lot of complaints (humans…), which I don’t see relevant to talk about; but regarding five out of the twelve bands being “recidivists” in the festival, I will say something. Sure, we live in a little country in the most Southwestern corner of Europe where it’s not always easy for an international band to reach – meaning the list of well-known names that never played here is endless and yes, it would be nice to shorten that list through a fest. But at the same time… if the band’s good, what’s so wrong about seeing it a dozen times? Hell, this was my 10th time seeing Paradise Lost and I loved it!
I’m not sure if this new place is smaller than the previous one. At first glance it seems so, as it’s definitely shorter in length. But it’s considerably larger in width, so… What really matters is that the stage was placed inside a natural amphitheater, surrounded by small hills, and if that prevented the wind to ease up the unholy heat (it’s been said this is the hottest summer since 1931), it also didn’t let the sound wander off beyond the festival zone.

13435327_1189167444435631_4832768569027046350_nBack to its original 2-day format, I sadly could only attend the second day. From what I’ve heard, Dark Oath did pretty well as the opening act. Not in front of the biggest crowd, but everybody knows how unfair playing first can be; still, it seems that a fair share of people enjoyed the symphonic/melodic death metal the national band had to offer, introducing the debut full-length “When Fire Engulfs The Earth”.
Italians Adimiron followed next and apparently also focused just on their latest release “Timelapse” (or so it says on setlist.fm). I confess I had never heard of them before, even if they’ve been around since 1999. Apparently, the same happened with most of the crowd, although eventually they surrendered to the band’s sound and performance.
Mantar’s “Ode To The Flame” has received a good feedback but the duo’s live performance not so much. Or maybe their fusion of black-doom-sludge-rock isn’t the right one for a festival, especially in day light. But then again, so shouldn’t be the depressive metal of Katatonia (I know I’ve seen them live in broad daylight a few years back and didn’t like it, despite being fond enough of the band) but I haven’t heard one single bad comment about the Swede’s performance – by the contrary! But I guess Katatonia will always be Katatonia. Played a few songs from the latest “The Fall Of Hearts” along a bunch of older hits.
When Anathema got on stage it was already dark. They haven’t released anything new in two years, but they’ve got a very special place in the hearts of our metal community – always had, not since Daniel Cardoso joined their ranks. So it’s only natural that I also heard only good things about their gig.
Finally, Opeth. I remember the last time I’ve seen them, precisely at this festival, two years ago, the show was pretty disappointed for the majority of the fans, as the band seemed uninspired. They made up for it now. The title-track of their upcoming album has been rolling on Youtube for over a week but they didn’t play it, sticking to the older stuff their fans love the most.

010Now the second day, that I actually witnessed. I arrived around 15:20, the “Blackhearts” documentary was still playing on the video walls. There were a few people watching it but not many – I’ve mentioned the heat already, haven’t I?
In previous editions, the first band of each day was always Portuguese, so having a Spanish opening act was a first – thrashers Soldier did the honors. VOA is part of their “The Great Western Oligarchy tour 2016”, named after their latest album. Solid riffing, a clear invitation to headbanging, to which the crowd – once again, not that big at that early hour – took pleasure in oblige. Not much talking between songs, as there was only half an hour to play, but one could see how pleased they were for being there, given the constant funny faces and broad smiles. Happy and nice bunch of people, I believe, and competent musicians. “Revolt”, from the debut “Gas Powered Jesus”, closed their set.

www.facebook.com/soldierband

040Equaleft was up next and the national underground could hardly be better represented. I can’t find the right words to express how proud I am for them and their achievements in these past years. After opening for Gojira last month (see here), I believe playing in a fest like this was one of the few milestones they had to reach yet on Portuguese soil and now it’s done. Go Equaleft!
The follow-up to “Adapt & Survive” is in the making but nothing ready to be shared yet, so they focused on their acclaimed debut. It’s “Maniac” now that closes their sets, not “Invigorate” anymore, but this hit still features singer Miguel, a.k.a. Jedi Mig, wielding a light saber. Soldier’s thrash was entitled to some mosh circles, but it was Equaleft’s groove that made “the dust rise up from the ground”, as I heard someone say.

www.facebook.com/equaleft

057The promo pic of Schammasch on the festival page shows us four guys in bare upper-bodies. I bet they regretted deeply not going on stage like that – 34ᵒC is “a bit” too much to wear long robes. Singer/guitarist C.S.R., with black paint on his face and hands and whose robe included a hood, was probably who suffered the most, even if he barely moved throughout the whole gig. He even admitted at some point that it was “boiling” up there. So kudos for their resistance.
The music itself deserves some applause too, even if their avant-garde black metal cut down the adrenaline that both previous bands rose up. Still, mainly songs from their latest “Triangle” and at least one off “Contradiction” (“Golden Light”, if I’m not mistaken) were cheered by the crowd.

www.facebook.com/SCHAMMASCH

078It’s always hard to distinguish a solo artist from a band when the latter is named after said artist – and even so when most of the setlist is comprised of songs the artist played with previous projects. That’s what happened with Abbath. With a 75-minute slot, I understand that even if he/they had played the only released album in full, there would still be plenty of time to kill. But playing four Abbath songs among one of I and six of Immortal… I know they’re not seen exactly as covers by the fans, especially when they were thrilled to listen to “Nebular Ravens Winter” (this one’s even recorded in “Abbath”, the album) and “Tyrants” and “All Shall Fall”, but it still felt weird. Apart from the weirdness, it was super. Black metal lovers were offered a great show of the genre – even if the sun was still high up – and those who didn’t like it particularly could always enjoy Abbath and bassist King’s “evil” faces.

www.facebook.com/abbathband

083As aforementioned, Paradise Lost made my day. Nick Holmes acknowledged the “beautiful new venue” of the fest and said how good it was to be back. And with such a rich and diverse setlist, I doubt someone didn’t feel the same way about their return. From recent songs like “No Hope In Sight” to tracks from “a time when most of you weren’t even born” like “Rapture”, we revisited some of Paradise Lost’s highlights through time.
While drinking Super Bock, probably Portugal’s most popular beer, Nick mentioned its alcohol content – 5,6 % – and said that such beer would be banned in the U.K. because it could turn them into animals. When he associated it with football, the laughter was even louder.
As co-headliners, they could afford an encore, which happened after “Say Just Words” – by the way, from the same album they also played the title-track “One Second” that, according to Nick, they hadn’t played in a while (I checked and apparently the last had been two months prior). ”Flesh From Bone” was one of the four songs of said encore, its death-doom nature – so old-school PL in such a recent song – leading Nick to say “it feels like the last 25 years never happened”. “The Last Time” wrapped it up and I really, really hope this was far from the last time that I’ve seen them.

www.facebook.com/paradiselostofficial

114When entering the photo-pit for Kreator we were advised to stay somewhat away from the stage during the first song – “Enemy Of God”, as it turned out – so we were hoping for some fireworks. Imagine our disappointment when it was just confetti… Oh well. On the other hand, I’m glad it wasn’t anything dangerous, as staying away meant closer to the barriers and that was nearly impossible – the mosh and crowdsurf began with practically the first riff and the security guys needed space to attend to all of them enthusiastic metalheads. Mille Petrozza did ask more than once for circles and screams “Portuguese style” but he really didn’t need to – he was already getting that from the start.
I hadn’t realized until now that their last studio album was already four years old (review here). But worry not – Mille said they were working on the follow-up to “Phantom Antichrist” and that it should be out next year. The reception of this news was loud, but when Mille said he wanted to come back as headliners of their own tour, the crowd’s roar was thunderous. Say what you will about thrash and all these “dinosaurs” like Kreator doing the same thing over and over – legends are legends and will always be welcomed.
VOA experienced “Extreme Aggression” in a “Violent Revolution” brought up by “Hordes Of Chaos” filled with “Pleasure To Kill”, and this year’s edition finished with the “Flag Of Hate” raised by a “Betrayer”. Looking forward for next year’s experiences!

www.facebook.com/KreatorOfficial

A special thanks to the promoters, to Raising Legends and Equaleft for the ride and Mosher Clothing for keeping an eye on my stuff and letting me enjoy the shade of their merch stand.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Full gallery on our Facebook page here.

Laurus Nobilis Música Famalicão 2016 – metal day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 29th July 2016 by Pieni

Moonspell, Bizarra Locomotiva, Quinteto Explosivo, Via Sacra
Louro, Famalicão (PT)
22nd July 2016
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The second edition of Laurus Nobilis Music took place this past weekend and, like last year (report here), the first day was dedicated to the “heavier sounds” – the alternative rock of Via Sacra, the “progressive punk” (you’ll soon understand the quotes) of Quinteto Explosivo, the industrial metal of Bizarra Locomotiva and the dark metal of Moonspell.

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It was a little past seven when Via Sacra got on stage with a long and somewhat mystic intro – that sadly everyone heard from the outside. This is probably the only complaint I have about this year’s festival: how misinformed the security staff was regarding when they should let the people in… Anyway, there they were, in their 16th century clothes (maybe later – I’m not really good in ancient fashion), joyfully rocking out. The first act of every day was chosen after a national contest but the fest promoters must have felt a little proud of Via Sacra since they are a local band. Still I didn’t see many fans of them – people singing along and such – which doesn’t mean they weren’t welcomed by the crowd; songs like “Baby, Baby” and “Secret Garden” seemed to please everyone, even those who were listening to them for the first time. Via Sacra thanked them all, of course, but also their friends, family and even their parish.

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www.facebook.com/viasacraband

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Quinteto Explosivo is Portuguese for “explosive quintet”. If that doesn’t hint you about their goofiness, check out the Deadpool and Captain America outfits… The lyrics are also mischievous, full of offensive slang, and while some are pure nonsense, others have some raw truths beneath… When you live in a country with so much corruption and hypocrisy, laughing is one way of dealing with it. But don’t think that such shocking posture hides lack of talent, which doesn’t. On the other hand, call it “progressive punk” is quite a stretch; it misses the sophistication for it, but it surely is a hell of a well written irreverent punk. With only one album out, “Hinos Politicamente Incorrectos”, they went back to their previous bands Comme Restus and Kalashnikov, with toilet paper flying around. Muffy from Karbonsoul joined them for the song “Queres Caralho Vai Ao Talho”.

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www.facebook.com/QuintetoExplosivo

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I’ve been to a fair share of Bizarra Locomotiva gigs (the first one in 1999) but had never seen them with a bass player before – apparently the majority of their fan club was just as surprised, so I believe it’s a recent acquisition; don’t even know if it’s just a live one or if Carlos joined the band for good. I recognized him from Assemblent so I knew right away he was the right guy for the job – not just for his musical skills but also for his attitude on stage.
The sound was good, but something sent the power down right on the middle of the first song (“A Febre De Ícaro”) and while they were fixing the problem, singer Rui Sidónio jumped into the crowd, saying he would resume the gig from there when the power came back on. And so he did, with the next song on the set, “Gatos Do Asfalto”. After that, no more bumps stopped the massive adrenaline the guys in Bizarra Locomotiva always deliver – and the crowd returns.
Towards the end, Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell) joined for “O Anjo Exilado” and once again Muffy got on stage – and on Sidónio’s shoulders, like their former keyboard player BJ used to do – to help out with “O Escaravelho”. Another “surprise” was Sidónio singing “Hecatombe” without a cheat sheet – it seems he finally learned the lyrics…

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www.facebook.com/bizarralocomotiva

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Still promoting “Extinct”, Moonspell’s setlist was mostly focused on it. And then on “Irreligious”, which turns 20 precisely today. Not the whole albums, no – that is reserved for a special concert in December, in Guimarães, where both and also “Wolfheart” will be played in full; sounds promising, uh? But for this night in Famalicão, they offered just a bit of each, plus a few other hits off their discography, like “Night Eternal” or “Everything Invaded”.
Rui Sidónio repaid the previous “featuring favor” by doing the same on “Em Nome Do Medo”, dressed in something similar to a hazard suit. Since he usually starts his own shows wrapped in black plastic, that gradually unwraps itself and the man ends up in his boxers, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so… covered up on stage.
At some point, talk of football came up and Fernando said that it felt good to finally be able to celebrate the UEFA championship with the crowd – he said he had introduced the band in a previous show in Spain as “European champions” and they didn’t like it that much… So for a moment the music was different, with everybody singing some football chants, and eventually demanding that Fernando would jump. He complained about his hernias but he did jump a bit – and those hernias didn’t seem to bother him much when dancing to the sound of “Ataegina” with guitarist Ricardo Amorim. On a more serious note, the shooting in Munich that happened that very same day was mentioned with sadness and how Moonspell would still be heading to Germany soon, as they – all of us – shouldn’t stop living our lives out of fear.

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www.facebook.com/moonspellband

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Gojira + Equaleft – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 9th July 2016 by Pieni

Gojira, Equaleft
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
7th July 2016
Promoted by Prime Artists
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July and this was the first time this year that I’ve worked with Prime Artists. They’ve promoted several gigs lately but all in Lisbon and I haven’t had the chance to cover those almost 200 mi. And even though it makes sense to promote a show in a more central, strategic city like the capital, after last night I start wondering if it isn’t also related to the conditions offered by the venues. Hard Club, seriously, what the hell happened to you?! After Ghost, last November, I thought you’d realized it was time to do something about the sauna-temperatures that place can achieve. You indeed bought huge fans to help the AC system in its job, but unless you actually turn them on… And you may think that I’m overreacting, that just a couple of lines on the subject would suffice, but when a band like Gojira is playing a sold-out show and it’s forced to shorten the set because the musicians are close to passing out due to the heat, yeah, a whole paragraph on Hard Club’s greed and lack of professionalism is appropriate.

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Now let’s focus on the good things – the concerts. There’s always some disregard for local, smaller bands, but this time almost everybody was present when Equaleft got on stage, at nine o’clock sharp. When Gojira headlined Vagos Open Air a couple of years ago, there was a petition for Equaleft to be included in the bill, as their sound is the best match to the French’s. At the time it wasn’t possible but I guess you can’t fight what’s meant to be. This was also the first gig of guitarist Miguel Martins, after a short introduction in December, when he played just a couple of songs (report here), but it was such a milestone in Equaleft’s career that former guitarist Veggy flew all the way from Brazil to take part in it.
 photo _DSC0635 copy_zps5jodxrcg.jpgI’ve been to too many Equaleft shows to know how good they are and what kind of positive feedback they get from the crowd, but this being their first time playing in front of so many people, it brought me a special sense of joy & pride – there was a fair share of longtime fans, but they were a novelty to the majority and I saw them surrender to their power groove. And to the chocolate butter cookies they gave away in the end of the show, as it’s their tradition, when singer Miguel returned on stage after a little crowdsurfing (also his usual).

www.facebook.com/equaleft

 photo _DSC0766 copy_zpsn7lmusgx.jpgIn thick smoke, strobe lights and louder-than-hell roars, Gojira took the stage with “Toxic Garbage Island” – and from the very first second to the last, the crowd gave a new meaning to the words enfants sauvages. They were restless ven during the tribal drum solo of Mario Duplantier, clapping their hands to the rhythm nonstop.
When Joe Duplantier addressed the audience, apart from the little pleasantries that he knew how to say in Portuguese, he said they loved our country and compared the city of Porto to a fairy-tale. Later he would mention the UEFA Euro 2016, saying “congrats on the final”, and as France had beaten Germany minutes before the show, he said how the victory would be good to France, given all the social-economical crisis their country was going through. We didn’t take it bad – there wasn’t a single whistle or boo – but the way “POR-TU-GAL! POR-TU-GAL!” echoed through the venue, showed him we weren’t keen on letting them win easily.
“Shooting Star” would end the show after about one hour and a quarter, with Mario stage-diving into the eager crowd. “Explosia” should have been the last, but they couldn’t take the heat any longer, as aforementioned. Still, band and audience left “hot club” (as Joe called it) with their hearts full.

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www.facebook.com/GojiraMusic

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Full gallery in our Facebook page here.