Author Archive

Apocalypse – Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Posted in Metal with tags , on 10th March 2019 by izaforestspirit

Apocalypse
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
Released December 2018 (original version) / January 2019 (re-press)
Epic Black Metal
Self-Released

Apocalypse - Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

‘Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum’ is the debut album from the Italian, one-man black metal project Apocalypse. It was originally set up in 2015 as a full band playing power metal but the line-up did not last too long. After numerous line-up changes and rehearsals the founding member, multi-instrumentalist Erymanthon, made a decision to continue Apocalypse as a solo project drawing inspiration from black metal – particularly Bathory.

It’s pretty hard to miss the Bathory influence on this album. Starting with the cover art which looks remarkably similar to that of Bathory’s ‘Blood Fire Death’ album. Even the band name is written in the same font as Bathory. Also Erymanthon adapts a similar vocal style to Quorthon’s. The music itself is pretty much what I expected it to be from the description. I am not too comfortable using the term “epic black metal”; instead I would class this as atmospheric black metal with hints of thrash metal in guitars. There is an ongoing theme of war and battle scenes (as you would expect from the title) but there are no direct references to Vikings or Norse mythology. The pace varies depending on the song with the slowest being Chant of Glory Eternal which features an acoustic guitar and ballad-style clear vocals.

Soldiers of Rome has a definite thrash metal tinge to it due to the guitar work. It starts off slow with some acoustic guitar in the intro, then it gradually builds up the pace with some thrashing riffs and a few groove parts midway through the song. It reminded me of Bathory’s ‘Shores in Flames’. Erymanthon has a good vocal range and he seems to be fairly comfortable performing both the harsh black metal shouts and the clear vocals.

In summary ‘Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum’ is clearly a labour of love created in admiration and with the intention of paying homage to Bathory. In that Apocalypse has definitely succeeded. This album feels like a continuation of what Quorthon started.

4/5

Iza Raittila

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Alestorm live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on 4th March 2019 by izaforestspirit

Bootyard Bandits, Skálmöld, Alestorm
Klubi, Tampere, Finland
3rd March 2019

Alestorm… It’s been a while. Nine years to be exact. The last time I saw these guys live was in 2010 when they supported Sabaton. I was also at their show at Wacken Open Air in 2008. They have always been one of those bands that I enjoy watching live but I have never actually listened to any of their albums in full. I might play the odd song or video but that is all. They are a party band that is fun to watch live while enjoying a nice cold beer. This was their first headlining show in Finland and it was sold out.

First up was a British band called Bootyard Bandits. These guys clearly like all things Wild West ranging from cowboy hats, country music to banjos. I’m not sure how to describe their style – “comedy country rock?”, hard rock…They were definitely fun to watch. I especially enjoyed the heavy metal banjo solo featuring a cover of AC DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ and other hard rock classics. 4/5

Next up was an Icelandic Viking folk metal band called Skálmöld. Their show was a bit more serious but still good. They sound like a mixture of Týr and Falkenbach. All their songs are in their native Icelandic. Good vocals and some of the songs were catchy but I could have done without the Týr-style progressive guitar parts. 3.5/5

Then it was time for the headliners. When Alestorm took to the stage I found myself on the edge of a mosh-pit. The crowd really went wild during the show. There was everything from the usual head-banging, air guitar to rowing inside the mosh-pit during one of the slow songs. The Scottish pirates played some new material including ‘Mexico’ along with some old hits such as ‘‘Keelhauled’, Captain Morgan’s Revenge’, ‘Drink’ and a cover of ‘Wolves of The Sea’. 5/5

 

In summary I had a great time and I enjoyed all of the performances. Bootyard Bandits were better than I expected. Skálmöld had a few memorable moments. Alestorm were entertaining as always. Pirate metal is fun to watch, just do not take it too seriously.

Iza Raittila

Children of Bodom – Hexed

Posted in Metal with tags , , on 27th February 2019 by izaforestspirit

Children of Bodom
Hexed
Released 8th March 2019
Melodic Death Metal/Power Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast Records


Children of Bodom - Hexed

Mr. Laiho and the Hate Crew are back with a new album. It’s been four years since ‘I Worship Chaos’, an album which I initially liked when it came out but after more listens it got a little repetitive. I still own it of course; I have all their albums, even the not so good ones. I guess that somewhere deep down I’m still that teenage Children of Bodom fan girl who had a crush on Alexi Laiho and dreamed of going to Finland to see them live. I used to listen to ‘Follow The Reaper’ on repeat for days and that album still holds a special place in my heart. If there is one band that has contributed the most to my obsession with all things Finnish and Finland it’s these guys. Not only did I visit Finland, I ended up relocating there and learning the language. I’ve seen Children of Bodom live on numerous occasions and I have even visited the Lake Bodom murder site in Espoo.

This brings me to ‘Hexed’, album number ten in Children of Bodom’s discography and the first to feature their new rhythm guitarist Daniel Freyborg. It’s astonishing just how much difference a second guitarist can make. Alexi Laiho is a great frontman and an exceptionally talented guitar player but there is more to this band than just him. Freyborg has his own unique style and he has definitely left his mark on this album. For example on Under Grass And Clover, the dual guitar harmonies work very well together, creating a smooth-sounding, catchy, melodeath metal song. Want something a little faster? Then skip right over to the next track Glass Houses – a classic COB track, with their signature ultra-fast keyboards and impressive guitar work. Speaking of keyboards, the title track features some of the best keyboard passages I have heard from Mr.Wirman in years.

There are quite a few moments on here that reminded me of their mid-career albums ‘Hate Crew Deathroll’ and ‘Are You Dead Yet?’. It is not all same old Bodom, though. There are parts that display the band trying new things such as the technical guitar work and melodic keyboards on Hecate’s Nightmare. It is not something that I would have expected to hear from these guys but it works surprisingly well.

In summary, ‘Hexed’ shows how much Children of Bodom have evolved over the years. Where some of their previous albums failed to leave a lasting impression, getting stale after a few listens, here the songs stand out. While it lacks the “WOW!” factor of their best work, it is a strong album that will definitely please their fans both old and new.

4/5

Iza Raittila

 

Lord of The Lost live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal, Rock with tags , , , on 22nd February 2019 by izaforestspirit

Rain Diary, Lord of The Lost
Jack The Rooster, Tampere, Finland
21st February 2019

I originally had two live shows planned for this week. Sadly one of them got cancelled and re-scheduled for the autumn. So I will have to wait until September to catch Ozzy Osbourne live in Helsinki. Get well soon Ozzy!!

This brings me to the other gig that I have been looking forward to for weeks – Lord of The Lost. I first discovered them three years ago when they came to Tampere supporting Combichrist. I was totally blown away by their performance and since then I have acquired most of their releases. Their latest album ‘Thornstar’ was one of my top 10 albums of 2018. So, needless to to say I jumped at the opportunity to see them live again. This time they played at a rock pub called Jack The Rooster, one of the few music venues in the city centre that also serves food during the day.

First up was a Finnish dark wave band called Rain Diary. I have seen them live before; just last year when they supported Vlad in Tears. This time they had a much bigger audience – the show was sold out and there was already a sizable crowd gathered when they started their set. It was a good show and enjoyed dancing to their music. 3.5/5

Then it was time for the night’s headliners – Lord of The Lost. The venue was packed by then. Their frontman Chris Harms made some comments about how small the stage was. Apparently it’s been many years since they have played on a stage this small. Luckily it did not affect their performance. They played many songs from ‘Thornstar’ including ‘On This Rock I Will Build My Church’, ‘Haythor’, ‘Loreley’ along with some old crowd-pleasers such ‘Dry The Rain’, ‘Six Feet Underground’, Drag Me To Hell’ and many more. They even did a rather amusing “metal” take on Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’. Fantastic show! 5/5

In summary, it was a really good night and I am glad that I got to see Lord of The Lost live again. As I mentioned at the start of this report the band has been a bit of an obsession of mine lately. I cannot get enough of their music. I would recommend their music to anyone who likes dark rock or Gothic industrial metal.

Iza Raittila

Omicida – Defrauded Reign

Posted in Metal with tags , , , on 19th February 2019 by izaforestspirit

Omicida
Defrauded Reign
Released 15th March 2019
Thrash Metal
Self-Released

Omicida - Defrauded Reign

‘Defrauded Reign’ is the debut album from the thrash metal band Omicida. The band was originally formed in Los Angeles, US in 2014 by drummer Giovanni Durst (ex-White Wizzard). They relocated to The UK in 2018, a few years after the release of their first EP ‘Certain Death’.

This is one of cases where the content is an exact match to its description. If it is classic thrash metal you are after then you have come to the right place. Most of the focus is on the guitars, with powerful and fast riffs dominating the album. The vocals are what you would expect to hear from your average thrash metal band, in other words aggressive shouting to match to overall pace of the music. These guys rarely slow down and they do not play any ballads. Most of the tracks are either medium or fast paced with the exception of the ambient, instrumental intermission Burn The Cross and melodic guitar parts in the intro to Divide Uncertainty.

If you like the fast and ferocious side of thrash metal, then State of Terror is the song for you. I reckon that Slayer fans would enjoy this one. It follows a fairly straightforward formula of aggressive vocals, a barrage of guitar riffs and fast drumming. It’s full steam ahead right from the start so you better hold on tight… Then there are a few songs with a more complex structure such as the aforementioned Divine Uncertainty with its deceptively melodic instrumental intro and the more technical-sounding guitars on The Supremacist. So there is more to this than just Slayer worship. It would appear though these guys have been listening not just Slayer but a whole range of old-school thrash metal bands including Kreator and Testament, all of which have left a mark on their signature sound.

Overall, ‘Defrauded Reign’ offers eleven solid works of uncompromising modern thrash metal. It maintains the right balance of aggression, speed and melody without becoming too fast or overly complex.

4/5

Iza Raittila

 

Calea Dreaming – The Rainforest Canopy

Posted in Instrumental, Metal with tags , , on 4th February 2019 by izaforestspirit

Calea Dreaming
The Rainforest Canopy
Released 9th December 2018
Atmospheric Post Black Metal / Ambient
Self-Released

Calea Dreaming - The Rainforest Canopy

‘The Rainforest Canopy’ is the debut album from the Australian post-black metal one-man project Calea Dreaming. All his music is instrumental and it is inspired by nature, specifically the landscapes surrounding the New South Wales region of Australia where the musician is based.

I’m not all that well versed in post-black metal but based on my limited exposure to this sub-genre, anything with a “post” prefix, be it metal or rock tends to imply that it is a mixture of that style with some added ambient. This is definitely the case here. Aside from the guitar riffs and some of the drum work, this album has very little to do with black metal. As stated in the intro, there are no vocals on this album. The songs are melodic, atmospheric and very long, with the shortest track Rivers of Rosewood clocking in at over nine minutes. This is what I would describe as “chill-out” music, the kind that you might want to put on when you want to relax, enjoy a hot drink and a good book. I almost dozed off in my chair while writing this review!!

If any of you suffer from insomnia I would recommend that you give this album a go. It creates this tranquil mood, inviting the listener to close his or her eyes and picture themselves in one of the landscapes referred to in the songs. You can actually hear the sound of rain falling in the background on A Storm In The Mountains. There are also violins and other string instrumentals present on here, all contributing to the relaxing atmosphere.

Overall, ‘The Rainforest Canopy’ is a very atmospheric album which I would recommend to those who enjoy ambient and instrumental metal. It’s very relaxing and pleasant to listen to. It is not really my type of music though so I am unlikely to play it again unless I have trouble sleeping.

4/5

Iza Raittila

At The Gates and Behemoth live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal with tags , , , , , on 31st January 2019 by izaforestspirit

Wolves In The Throne Room, At The Gates, Behemoth
Pakkahuone, Tampere, Finland
30th January 2019

My first gig of 2019! I have been waiting for a long time for a chance to see Behemoth again. The last time I saw them live was Tuska Open Air 2012 on their first tour shortly after their front-man Nergal’s recovery from leukemia. I have kept up to date with all their releases and news and last year I could not believe my luck when I discovered that they are coming to my home town.

The venue was sold out on the night and the there was already a sizable crowd right from the start. I could not really get into the first band – Wolves In The Throne Room. Their sound can be described as a mixture of atmospheric black metal and dark ambient. Some of the songs they played were incredibly slow and more ambient than black metal. While this kind of music might be fine to listen to at home, it’s not really something that I want to hear live 2.5/5

I guess that most people who are into melodic death metal are familiar with At The Gates. They are after all one of the forefathers of the genre with some genre-defining releases to boot. This was not the first time that I have seen them live and I hope that it will not be my last. They had a few issues with their performances. First, their vocalist Tomas got the name of the city wrong, a minor mistake which he spent the rest of the night apologizing for. The other issue they had turned out to be more serious – a broken drum set.


It took some time to fix the problem but luckily they managed to sort it out in time to play a few more songs. A very good show overall despite the setbacks. 4/5

Finally came the moment I have been waiting seven years for. Behemoth started their set a little later than planned but it was definitely worth the extra time. They had an impressive amount of visuals and various props all contributing to a wonderful performance. They played some of the hits such as ‘Decade of Therion’(my personal favourite), ‘Chant For Eschaton 2000’, ‘Slaves Shall Serve’, ‘Lucifer’ along with lots of songs from the new album including ‘Bartzabel’ and ‘Wolves of Siberia. What a fantastic show! It was even better than the last time that I saw them live. 5/5

In summary, the only band I did not enjoy watching live was Wolves In The Throne Room. It was a little too slow for my liking. At The Gates managed to overcome their technical problem and put on a great show. Behemoth were everything that I hoped for and more. I absolutely loved their show. This was their first time in Tampere and I really hope that they came back again in the future.

Iza Raittila