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The End Of Grace – Infinite Shadows Of Memories

Posted in 'Core, CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 9th May 2017 by Pieni

The End Of Grace
“Infinite Shadows Of Memories”
metalcore
Released: 10th May 2017
by Illumnirec

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Where I come from there’s a saying that goes something like “who awaits always achieves”. And then someone twisted it, creating a new and pretty negative version, that says “who awaits gets desperate”. The latter translated my state of mind in the recent past regarding a full-length record by The End Of Grace, which I’ve been waiting for since the band got together. But it’s finally here and I’m living the original version of the saying, as waiting for “Infinite Shadows Of Memories” totally paid off. Between the two EPs “Lost In Transition” and “Unity”, there had already been an evolution in the songwriting, its features emboldened; but “Infinite…” is more than an upgrade of said features, it’s a new path straying away from the traditional metalcore they’ve begun with.

The crystal-clear clean tones have been replaced by somber, deep ones, still contrasting perfectly with Kriss’ growls; the focus on breakdowns is water under the bridge, the main priority now based on the musicality and not on sounding tougher than leather – even if they do sound relentless nevertheless. It’s just a whole new level of melody, more mature.

The ominous catchiness of “Life On The Line”, the yearning of the title-track, the collision of opposites of “Breathe”, the daring “Ride The Dark”… This record is a rollercoaster of emotions and shows TEoG pushing the proverbial envelope with their music. Hell, a whole stack of envelopes! It’s not even clear what it should be called anymore, but whether you go for “blues-core, deathcore or metalcore” (quoting the upbeat “We Really Don’t Know Yo”), this is The End Of Grace.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

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Blindagem Metal Fest – Ponte de Vagos, Portugal

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 7th May 2017 by Pieni

Chaos Synopsis, Aneurose, Nuclear Warfare, Infraktor
Origens Caffé, Ponte de Vagos (PT)
29th April 2017
Promoted by Paulo Perdiz & Blindagem Metal Show

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Blindagem is Paulo Perdiz’s baby, a radio show that’s been promoting metal since 1990. At some point the spreading of news wasn’t enough and concerts were added to the bill, giving birth to these Blindagem Metal Fests. Last weekend, Origens Caffé witnessed another one of these events with a quite packed house.

www.facebook.com/blindagem

DSC_0091 copyFirst band getting on stage was Infraktor, “ferocious thrash” straight out of Escapães. It was the only national band on the bill and made it right by their country – I used the quote marks in “ferocious” because that’s the band’s own tag line, but they lived up to it and there’s no better word to describe the show.
Their debut “Exhaust” has no release date yet but the recordings are done. In a perfect world, that should mean the album would soon be blasting off your listening devices, but I’ve been engaged in this biz for way too long to know that there are no accurate predictions until all processes are complete. What I can assure you is that I will let you know as soon as it’s announced.
They were asked to play 45 minutes instead of the usual 30, so “Unleash The Pigs” was back on the set (it had previously been replaced by “Son Of A Butcher”) and “Confront” got its riff sequence altered in order to extend it a little bit. Infraktor topped my expectations-for-2017 list (see here) and they’ve been meeting said expectations so far.

www.facebook.com/infraktor.metal

DSC_0349 copyThere’s a reason for German thrash to be so popular and Nuclear Warfare reminded us why, inflaming mosh circles practically from the first minute. Singer/bassist Fritz knew a few words in Portuguese – after all, the band has a Brazilian drummer, Xandão – but we were happy to teach him some more. Cursing words, obviously, in good ol’ cheerfulness.
The hymn “Just Fucking Thrash” and The Ramones’ cover of “Rockaway Bitch” were probably the catchiest moments of a fierce and beer-drenched gig.

www.facebook.com/ThrashMetalTank

DSC_0443 copyBrazilian thrashers Aneurose released their sophomore album, “Juggernaut”, last July and Blindagem was one of the Portuguese dates in its promotional tour. I don’t know if they already had fans here, as the reaction of the crowd was so fulsome; but then again, it was my first time watching them and the adrenaline rush I’ve felt was simply overwhelming. Straight-forward, in-your-face metal music, headbanging and mosher friendly, lots of rebellious gang backing vocals to sing along… And speaking of “along”, singer Wallace joined the circle pit at some point. Songs such as “Butcher” or “Drunk As Skunk” got such a crazy feedback that all of a sudden it seemed that we were in a sold-out show, people pushing everywhere to stand up front. To the point that when Wallace called Infraktor-Popas on stage to help him sing Sepultura’s “Roots Bloody Roots” I couldn’t even see them – just listening to them. And what a duet that was.

www.facebook.com/aneurose

DSC_0490 copyLast but not least, also hailing from Brazil and also playing thrash metal – although with a bit more death to it -, Chaos Synopsis. “Gods Of Chaos” is their most recent work, released a little over a month ago, but three others have come before it and therefore they had a rich set for us. “Burn Like Hell”, “Storm Of Chaos” or “Gods Upon Mankind” are just some of the songs that you should look into if you’re in this genre. The crowd that night surrendered to them.

www.facebook.com/chaossynopsis

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Projecto Sem Nome – Bulas Para Dedos E Coração

Posted in Alternative, CD, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 23rd April 2017 by Pieni

Projecto Sem Nome
“Bulas Para Dedos E Coração”
alternative rock
Released: 8th October 2016
Via Raising Legends Records

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Projecto Sem Nome is Portuguese for “nameless project”, and while some of you may see it as a tacky lack of imagination, I think it’s quite ingenious and liberating – “nameless” but it’s still the name they go by, so it’s a clever pun, and at the same time, having such an empty meaning, it’s up to you to give it one. Just like with their lyrical content, which is so full of metaphors that even if Portuguese is your mother tongue, you’ll be left wondering about what singer/lyricist Cristovão Siano really means with those words.

Musically, it’s not so hard to label them as “alternative rock” is probably the most comprehensive and vague genre ever. “Até Amanhã” (see you tomorrow), for instance, is a rough post-grunge piece seasoned with delicate acoustic guitar fragments. “Detalhes” (details) has a more upbeat and catchy main riff but eventually sounds somewhat heavier, and then the guitar solo is pretty dire, as if out of one of those eighties hard rock hits. The ballad “Identidade XXX” (identity XXX) features a xylophone and an intense vocalization, while “Havia Lá” (there was) is probably the fiercest track, a double bass drum backing up Cristóvão’s high-pitch lament towards the end. And the duet with Blame ZeusSandra in “Marcha Gole” (sip march) gives the song an extra refinement.

Is therefore safe to say that “Bulas Para Dedos E Coração” (leaflets for fingers and heart) offers a batch of rock songs written and performed on a basis of a myriad of styles and influences. One word: classy.

4 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Blame Zeus – Theory Of Perception

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , on 4th March 2017 by Pieni

Blame Zeus
“Theory Of Perception”
Alternative Rock
Self-released on 4th March 2017

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Blame Zeus started out as progressive rock but have now engaged in a more straight-forward direction – less technicalities, same elegance. Maybe that’s why “Queen” wasn’t included in this new album (either that or they totally revamped it and renamed it, but I honestly doubt it). “Queen” was a song they introduced live almost a year ago, at the last gig with the line-up they had at the time, and I remember saying that whatever changes were on the way, that song sounded pretty much like the Blame Zeus we all knew. I’m glad I was wrong. Not that I didn’t like their original sound, don’t get me wrong! I just find it more interesting when a band has more than one side (if you’ve read my reviews before, you’ve probably seen me using the expression “diversity is the spice of life” more than once). And “Theory Of Perception” offers some heavy, feisty stuff (“Slaughter House”, “Miles”) contrasting with gracious melancholy (“More Or Less”, “Entertainment Clown”); the rough seduction of “All Inside Your Head” and the loose rock of “Redemption”; the weepy electric solo in “The Moth” and the seventies acoustic heartache of “Signs”. Twelve new songs with distinct traits but one in common – the strong but very feminine voice of Sandra Oliveira.
Tonight I’ll see how this works live. In the studio it works peachy.

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

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

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