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Heavenwood w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 1st April 2016 by Pieni

Heavenwood, The Temple, Blame Zeus, Gates Of Hell
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
26th March 2016
Promoted by Raising Legends

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In late February, Heavenwood released their fifth record “The Tarot Of The Bohemians” (review here) and the first release party took place about a month later, in a full-enough Hard Club. Other three top-notch bands from the national scene were on the bill, all of them so different from each other, making this a diverse event, even more interesting than “just” a release show.

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First band on stage was Gates Of Hell, delivering their thrash-death-’core like they owned the place. I guess one can still call Márlon “the new guy”, as he was introduced as the new singer only last December (report here), but to me it feels like he’s been there all along.
There was a couple of missteps but I believe it wasn’t entirely their fault – trust me, I’ve seen them over a dozen times by now; the sound was a bit messy at first, so my guess is that they were having trouble listening to each other. Whatever or whoever was to blame, they went on so passionately that no one cared about such slips.
The show had begun at nine, half an hour later than scheduled, but still Márlon thanked the crowd for getting there so early to see them (20:30 is pretty early for a gig here in Portugal). The title-track of their debut (and so far only) album “Critical Obsession” closed their set.

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www.facebook.com/gatesofhellband

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Things cooled down considerably with Blame Zeus, as their more progressive approach is spirited but much less aggressive. They’re about to go through some major line-up changes – both guitarists and the bassist still played the show but have already announced their departure – which Sandra called “a new cycle”. And with the beginning of that cycle, she introduced a new song, “Queen”, about her career and what she had done to get that far and how it meant having to be mean sometimes… The new song has pretty much the same vibe, so the fans don’t need to worry about these changes, as Blame Zeus will continue the path of their usual sound.
Speaking of fans, there were plenty there that night and one in particular was celebrating his birthday. Sandra spared us from singing the happy birthday theme, dedicating him his favorite song instead, “Incarnate”.

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www.facebook.com/BlameZeus
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Then veterans The Temple brought down the house with their fiery alternative rock. Personally, it was the band I was most eager to see, since it had been eleven years (yes, eleven!) since I’d last seen them. And they didn’t let me down, nor the public in general. I believe they’ve made a lot of new fans. And spicing up their own great music with a cover of Mão Morta’s “Budapeste” (yeah, I know this won’t say anything to people outside of our country, but to us, it does a lot) and a tribal drum solo to which singer João and guitarist Marcelo gave both of their helping hands, their performance was a 5-star one.

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www.facebook.com/thetempleband

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I’m having mixed feelings about Heavenwood’s gig. Maybe I had set my expectations too high, maybe I was still in an adrenaline rush from The Temple show, but the truth is that I felt something was missing. The setlist was perfect; they’d promised to revisit their whole discography and so they did, and not just one song from each previous album, as some people had joked. However they tweaked the synths of the older ones to the point that I didn’t even recognize them at first. It seems the idea was to make them  photo _DSC0141 copy_zpsubhe4jzm.jpgsound heavier, but at least “Emotional Wound”, my all-time favorite, sounded anything but. I already didn’t like its softer version in “Diva”, as the original, while they still went by Disgorged, was way heavier; and somehow they managed to tone it down even more that night. That might have helped with my mild disappointment.
The new live musicians made an impression – drummer Eduardo is quite skillful; guitarist Victor smiled and headbanged all the time; there isn’t a spot on stage that bassist André didn’t cover. Frontman Ricardo also looked to be “feeling it” deeper than usual, but his voice went out of tune a few times. As for Ernesto, it was the other way around: his voice sounded better than ever, but his mind seemed somewhere else. Something missing, I keep saying. Me and a few others, but luckily, the majority of the fans left with a smile on their face, after the “Frithiof’s Saga” and “Suicidal Letters” encore. And I won’t let one less good gig destroy my belief in them. Plus, at some point Ricardo said that “stopping is dying”, referring to the band’s sound evolution. I’ve been keeping tabs on that evolution since the first album, I definitely won’t stop now.

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www.facebook.com/HeavenwoodOfficial

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Man.Machine.Industry – Box Of Horrors

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 16th March 2016 by Pieni

Man.Machine.Industry
“Box Of Horrors”
Metal
Release: 4th March 2016
Via KMP

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Man.Machine.Industry’s new album “Box Of Horrors” gives you a little of everything the band stands for – all strains of metal.

Even though their sound has always been braided with an industrial thread, frontman Jhonny Bergman is a pretty old-school soul. I believe “Trend Killer” is the one song – not only in this album but in all M.M.I.’s discography – that mirrors it, thrashing away like there’s no tomorrow.

Now “Let It Burn” has the aforementioned industrial twist to it, not compromising the aggression at all. It just adds some texture, that’s all. It’s go the same vibe of the previous (and my favorite) LP, “Lean Back, Relax And Watch The World Burn” and the chorus is catchy, not in a melodic way but in the sense that will make you want to scream along with it. Powerful!

“20.000 Horns At The Sky” may not be as speedy, but its marching beat and groovy bass line make it quite belligerent just the same. As for the exquisite melodies that M.M.I. have gotten us used to, in songs like “Vivete et Sinete Mori” or “Colours”, take a listen to “Rise Above”. Plenty of melodic exquisiteness there.

Living up to its name, the title-track is a creepy ballad, heavy on guitars. Some string arrangements, acoustic notes and somber choirs make a hell of a combination.

I was surprised to hear another ballad right after this one, but “Destroyers Of Gods And Man” carries such a sadness and despair that you’ll put aside the slow pace and will keep in mind just its weight.

The rhythm is spicy again in “Too Close To The Sun”, with hints of Arabian cadences. “Rise Of The Fallen” is one of those in-your-face kind of songs and the album closes up with yet another ballad, “Heading For Nowhere”, with some keys that somehow remind me of R.E.M. “Everybody Hurts”, so yeah, a ballad in the full sense of the word.

So now you know what I meant by “all strains of metal”. “Box Of Horrors”, like its predecessor “Lean Back…”, is a diverse and solid album, better appreciated if listened to at a high volume.

4,5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Heavenwood – The Tarot Of The Bohemians

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 6th March 2016 by Pieni

Heavenwood
“The Tarot Of The Bohemians – Part 1”
Gothic metal
Released: 22nd February 2016
Via Raising Legends Records

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For the first time, Heavenwood venture into the land of conceptual albums. That’s not, however, what makes “The Tarot Of The Bohemians – Part 1” their boldest record so far. Heavenwood is one of those bands that manages to reinvent themselves with each release but keep their essence intact, and this time frontman Ricardo Dias enhanced every treat and entwined them with orchestral arrangements, in an exuberant outcome.

Ricardo has always taken care of the clean vocals, but the role of his strong pitch is now as leading as Ernesto Guerra’s growls’. Such balance between them bears a refreshing dynamic. And while featuring female guests is nothing new to them, one song – “The Hanged Man” – solely sung by Blame Zeus-Sandra Oliveira (well, almost solely – there are a few male backing vocals) was quite a surprise. Her deep, firm voice couldn’t fit better in such fused melody.

Speaking of melodies, these are overall heavier. The guitars are somewhat more elaborate – hence the lengthy tracks – and a tad less somber. Still within what can be considered as “gothic metal”, but there’s such a vibrancy to the more melodic parts and such a rage to the most aggressive ones that once again the adjective “bold” comes to mind.

It was the previous record that featured “masterpiece” in its title, but it’s “The Tarot Of The Bohemians” that’s living up to that name.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Rage’s “The Devil Strikes Again” to include bonus live CD

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 29th February 2016 by Pieni

As you’ve probably suspected, RAGE‘s EP “My Way” (review here) precedes the release of the band’s 22nd studio album (23rd if you count with the one in collaboration with LINGUA MORTIS ORCHESTRA). “The Devil Strikes Again” will see the light of day on June 10th, via Nuclear Blast. Artwork and tracklist as follows:

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01. The Devil Strikes Again
02. My Way
03. Back On Track
04. The Final Curtain
05. War
06. Ocean Full Of Tears
07. Deaf, Dumb And Blind
08. Spirits Of The Night
09. Times Of Darkness
10. The Dark Side Of The Sun

Bonus CD:
01. Bring Me Down
02. Requiem
03. Into The Fire
04. Slave To The Grind (SKID ROW Cover)
05. Bravado (RUSH Cover)
06. Open Fire (Y&T Cover)

Today, RAGE announced that there will also be a limited edition (1.000 copies) of a 3CD DIGI, the third disc recorded live during the latest European tour with HELLOWEEN. Here’s the tracklist of said disc:

Bonus Live CD
01. Black In Mind
02. Sent By The Devil
03. End Of All Days
04. Back In Time
05. Down
06. My Way
07. Until I Die
08. Don’t Fear The Winter
09. Higher Than The Sky

“The Devil Strikes Again” was recorded in September/October 2015 at Megafon Studios (Burscheid, Germany) and at Soundchaser Studios (Zandhoven, Belgium). Its production was handled by Marcos Rodriguez and Peavy Wagner, whilst renowned the Dan Swanö (MARDUK, OPETH, DISSECTION, KATATONIA) took care of the mix and mastering at Unisound Studios (Grefrath, Germany). The stunning cover artwork was created by Karim König (photo credit: Ivan K. Maras, director of the “My Way” music video).

You can pre-order the Limited Edition 3CD Digibook here.

www.rage-official.com
www.facebook.com/rageofficialband
www.nuclearblast.de/rage

Ricky Warwick – When Patsy Cline Was Crazy…

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

Ricky Warwick
“When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)” / “Hearts On Trees”
Hard Rock
Released: 26th February 2016
Via Nuclear Blast

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I’ve been listening to this album on a daily basis for the past two weeks, trying to come up with the right words to describe it, but always ended up losing myself in the melodies and Warwick’s voice. As the album is out today, I decided I couldn’t postpone this review any longer and it was better to write it by heart – by now I definitely can do that – as pressing “play” would distract me again.

That’s what you must be prepared for when listening to this double album – to have your senses enthralled and be taken away to that place in your mind where everything will be fine. Even if you’re listening to “Psycho”, a song depicting a troubled mind reaching out to his mom.

The first CD “When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)” comprises the electric songs, while “Hearts On Trees” offers the acoustic ones. Which doesn’t mean that the latter is less fiery than the former. Born in Northern Island, Warwick brought the high spirited Irish music in the form of the title track and “Schwaben Redoubt” (although the story here ends with death). “Disasters” is pretty upbeat too.

Living up to its title, “Presbyterian Homesick Blues” is a blues song, but not exactly sad – it’s one of those that touches your feelings. And “Way Too Cold To Snow”, despite the somewhat melancholy, is just too beautiful to stir anything but life inside of you.

In “When Patsy Cline…” you’ll find that pure, classic rock that Warwick’s gotten us used to for years. The heavy opener “The Road To Damascus Street”, the catchy “Celebrating Sinking”, the sharp “Toffee Town”, the horn section in “That’s Where The Story Ends”… Twenty songs (plus eight bonuses!) to love.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

To The Rats And Wolves – Neverland

Posted in 'Core, Alternative, CD with tags , , , , , on 23rd February 2016 by Pieni

To The Rats And Wolves
“Neverland”
Trancecore
Release: 19th February 2016
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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I’m not surprised that trancecore is a thing, as anything goes nowadays. What I’m surprised is that To The Rats And Wolves is included in that category as electro-pop-core is way more accurate. Their homeland Germany is a country where you have a rave in one corner of the block and a metal gig in the other (yes, kids, it’s a hyperbole) and it is said that many go to the former after the latter is finished. Nothing against it, open-mindedness is something to be treasured. I’m just not sure if it’s a good idea to merge both, no matter how out-of-the-box the concept might be.

Especially when only the trance is shaping the songs, while the hardcore is pretty much repeating itself in every track – similar cranking riffs, predictable breakdowns… It’s in the electronics that you’ll hear different patterns defining different melodies (and not exactly outstanding ones). When it comes to vocals, even though the growls and screams assume a big role, it’s the pop-ish clean tones that always take lead in the choruses. So eventually you feel like this is not a real fusion but just the addition of some elements of one genre into the basic structure of another. The opener “Suburban Romance” is the most balanced track, followed by “Schoolyard Warfare”, but the majority of the album heads towards the dancefloor – especially “Wild At Heart” and “Kill The DJ”. And then there’s the ballad “Ghosts” which… Well, it’s a ballad. ‘Nuff said.

On the other hand, the nature of “Neverland” is so mainstream that it may actually cause some fuss. I still think it lacks substance.

2/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

More Than A Thousand w/ support – Madrid, Spain

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

More Than A Thousand, Hills Have Eyes, Cannibal Grandpa
Starving Conciertos, Madrid (ES)
2nd February 2016
Promoted by HFMN Crew/Avocado Booking

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After the announcement of a no-end-in-sight hiatus, the time has come for the “Before We Go” farewell tour of More Than A Thousand. It kicked off last Tuesday in Madrid (Spain), along with their long-term buddies Hills Have Eyes. Swiss hardcore act Promethee would join from the third date on, leaving the two Spanish dates to be supported by Spanish bands. In Madrid, deathcore Cannibal Grandpa had the honors of doing so.
 photo _DSC0122 copy_zpsjcuib21z.jpgFounded in 2013 and having released their debut album, “Feed Your Food”, a few months ago, these youngsters seem to already have a considerable number of followers. Some of them were there, singing along and slamdancing like there was no tomorrow. Well deserved, as Cannibal Grandpa are indeed good in what they do. Too bad the stage was too small, otherwise I’m pretty sure there would’ve been more movement up there. Still, they managed to put up a vigorous performance, living up to the brutality of songs such as “Face To Face”, “Grey Man” or “Legacy”.

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www.facebook.com/cannibalgrandpa

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More than wanting to say goodbye to More Than A Thousand – I believe I’ll have a chance to do so in our homecountry – I wanted to see/support Hills Have Eyes outside our borders. I was even wearing my “Antebellum” tee, but the venue was freezing (the damn AC was unnecessarily in full mode) and eventually I had to put on my jacket. Oh well.
HHE’s setlist was quite even between “Strangers” and the latest “Antebellum”. When you have three amazing albums and you’re not playing as headliners, the choice gets tough, but the guys did a great job, performing the “most mandatory” songs.
“Anyway, It’s Gone” was one of them, although Vasco from More Than A Thousand didn’t join Fábio on the vocals, as he does in the studio version (and often live as well). That was kind of bittersweet – it would have been something to see those two forces together once again, but HHE didn’t have that many fans in the house, and inviting Vasco over would have felt like a cheap trick to win the crowd’s affection. And given the general response throughout the show, they did win it.

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www.facebook.com/hillshaveeyes

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When the lights went out, hinting the beginning of More Than A Thousand’s last concert in Madrid, the people clustered so tightly around the stage that it felt like their number had doubled. And then the first echoes of “Feed The Caskets” brought the place down. Like their “brothers” HHE – a title Vasco dearly used more than once – MTAT also focused on just their two latest albums. Nothing against what they’ve played – me and everybody else sang loudly along the whole time – but more like what they haven’t played. As a farewell tour, I was hoping for a longer show and a bit of every phase in their discography (although we did listen to a snippet of “The Red River Murder”, as someone in the crowd screamed for it whenever he had the chance). But it was still an intense goodbye, with Vasco using some funny Spanish expressions he apparently had just learned, or more serious remarks like the song he dedicated to The Ghost Inside and the heartfelt advice about never giving up of our dreams, no matter what/who. Those verses from the chorus in “No Bad Blood” – “this is who we are / these words will last forever” – came truly alive that night.

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www.facebook.com/morethanathousand

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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