Archive for the Folk Category

Equilibrium – Armageddon

Posted in CD, Folk, Metal with tags , , , , , on 24th August 2016 by mickbirchy

Folk Metal, Symphonic Black Metal
Released 12 August 2016
via Nuclear Blast

Equilibrium’s fifth album, Armageddon is everything that you want out of them. It’s big and bold. It hit’s really hard and gets you going. You will have to understand, going into this album, that I’m relatively new to their work and have only looked up them quite recently. Coming into this review I was completely blown away by the sheer scale of the album. Every part of the production is massive in delivery and even manages to have its fun jaunty moments. All of the songs are good and the writing really shines, even if I did have to look up some of the lyrics online.

The part of this album that I feel lets it down slightly is where is mushes the sounds together to get this muddied sound that’s a little too reliant on the guitars’ distortion. I feel this bogs the sound down somewhat and the guttural vocals aren’t helping. So what you get is this heavy mess of distorted noise. What saves it is the symphonic elements. The big orchestra sound really pulls the album together and gives the songs context. Along with the folk instrumentation, it highlights how fun and exciting Equilibrium are. In fact my favourite parts of the album are just the instrumental parts where there are no vocals.

For me personally Equilibrium’s Armageddon is a mixed goody bag. There are odd thing in it that’s just disappointing and I just don’t really like. Then you have the good moments that I find really impressive and interesting. I do feel the good outweighs the bad, as there is a lot of instrumental sections that have that epic quality to them. Overall I do enjoy this album and it definitely made me curious to check out their older material, so I can recommend it as a jumping on point for their music. It’s intricate enough and has a strong enough sound that you’ll want to listen to it a few times.


Mick Bichall

Lumous Gothic Festival 2016

Posted in Festival, Folk, Industrial, Live, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , on 17th July 2016 by izaforestspirit

Shiv-R, Two Witches, Aesthetic Perfection

Klubi, Tampere, Finland

1516th July

For the past few years, Finland’s biggest Gothic event – Lumous Gothic Festival – has been one of the highlights of my summer. There was some rumours going around that last year’s 15th anniversary edition was going to be the last one. Luckily that was not the case. Not only is Lumous still running, they actually sold out the Saturday’s show. This year the music on offer was a mixture of EBM, Harsh Electro/Aggrotech, Goth Rock and neo-folk.


First up was the futuristic-styled EBM duo Blastromen. These two really looked like extras from one of the Tron movies, thanks to their luminous “space robot” suits. They played some catchy EBM enhanced with robotic vocals and plenty of flashing lights. The flashing lights were a bit too much for my little camera to handle but I enjoyed the performance. 3/5

Goth rock is one of the most popular genres at the festival. I’ve seen a number of good Goth rock bands at Lumous and Canis Lupus was no exception. Unlike some goth bands who tend to overdo the melancholic and gloomy atmosphere, these guys actually looked like they were enjoying themselves. Their vocals and overall style reminded me of Sisters of Mercy. 4/5

The night’s headlining act, the Australian Harsh Electro band Shiv-R was the main band that I came to see. I’ve only discovered them recently so I was keen to see what they are like live. Their show was very energetic, filled with lots of creepy imagery projected from the screens and lots of very catchy dark electro tunes. I was dancing pretty much throughout the show. 5/5



Every year Lumous Gothic Festival features at least one “wild card” – a band or solo artist who sounds or sometimes looks dramatically different from all the others. This year that “wild card” was the British neo-folk artist Naevus. This was a special “solo set” featuring just the band’s singer on acoustic guitar. Whilst I can fully acknowledge that Mr. Lloyd James has a good voice and he is a talented guitar player, this type of music is simply not my style. 3.5/5

Local favourites, the renowned Finnish goth rock band Two Witches are big part of the local Goth scene and they are heavily involved with the festival. Last night was the official release party for the brand new live album ‘Voodoo Wytches -Live. I’ve seen them live before but each show is a little different… This time they played at a venue packed full of cheering fans at a sold.out show. Their set consisted primarily of old songs including several classics such as ‘Vampire Empire’, ‘The Dark Angels of Sin’, ‘The Omen’ and ‘Burn The Witch’. It was really good to see them live again. There’s not that many Goth rock bands that I enjoy but Two Witches is definitely one of them. 5/5


Whilst I’m not a massive of their latest work, I have to admit that American electro- industrial Aggrotech band Aesthetic Perfection are always entertaining to watch live. I’m a big fan of the first three albums so I was really happy when they played most of the hits from that era including: ‘Spit It Out’, The Great Depression’, ‘Inhuman’ and ‘The Ones’. ‘Antibody’ wasn’t bad either but I’m not super keen on their mellow ballads. 4.5/5


So there you have it. Another great weekend at Lumous Gothic Festival. Two Witches is always fun to watch live, Aesthetic Perfection put on another great show, Shiv-R was a new discovery and my favourite performance of the festival.

Iza Raittila


Grimner – Frost Mot Eld

Posted in CD, Folk, Metal with tags , , , , , on 20th March 2016 by mickbirchy

Frost Mot Eld
Folk-Metal, Viking Metal
Released: 25 March 2016
Via Despotz

So I’ve found myself in this predicament.  Reviewing an album in a language that I don’t speak and trying to discuss a sub-genre that I enjoy but don’t fully understand.  This should be a treat. Well before I get started, I will underline this review with this statement: I like this album, I think Grimner are a good band with a lot of potential.  There, with that being said.  Let’s discuss this album.

Grimner for the uninitiated are a Viking folk metal band from Motala, Sweden. They have been around for the better part of a decade and their music consists of mixing metal with folk instrumentation. The only real experience I have of this is with the bands Turisas, Korpiklaani and Ensiferum and even that is limited. All of those bands I enjoy just fine but however I think there is a fine line between this music being good and it just not working and all of these band cross that line from time to time. However I think Frost Mot Eld is a perfectly acceptable effort.  The production is nice and there is a really nice balance of the metal elements and the folk instruments all the while nothing feels overshadowed everything just hits the right note.

The melodies a beautifully written and well arranged.  The music encompasses you and while listening to the record I got caught up in the musicianship as I am sure anyone would be.  The music is great.  The more “metal” elements are catchy and give the album an intensity and harshness which counters the pleasant, clean tones of the folk instrumentation.  The only thing that I’m not a fan of is the guttural vocals, don’t get me wrong, they’re not badly executed or anything but when compared to the clean vocals on the album they seem a little lackluster. Even the big choir like vocal stylings shine in comparison.  If you’re into that type of vocals with this music then fine.  However I feel the clean vocals are just too nice to be pushed to the side for the heavy guttural vocals.

Anyway, I’ve been enjoying this album a lot lately and maybe I need to get into it a little more.  I like the sound and it’s certainly different to a lot of music I usually listen to. The music is nice and the songs are very well written.  I find myself humming the melodies long after I’ve turned it off.  If folk metal is your sort of thing and what I’ve described sounds good to you then go check it out.


Mick Birchall

Wucan – Sow The Wind

Posted in CD, Folk, Rock with tags , on 5th October 2015 by izaforestspirit

Sow The Wind
Released 25th September 2015
Blues Rock/ Retro Rock
Released via Hänsel & Gretel, division of M.I.G-Music GmbH

‘Sow The Wind’ is the debut album from the German blues rock band Wucan. The band describes their sound as “Kraut-fueled Heavy Flute Rock” and cites Jethro Tull, other blues rock and psychedelic musicians amongst their influences.

The sound of a flute isn’t exactly the first instrument that comes to mind when you hear the term “blues rock”… And “what on earth is retro rock?” I hear you ask… Well, if the opening track Father Storm is anything to go by, then I can state that in this case the term retro rock means playing songs which sound like they were recorded by a group of hippies in the early 1970s rather than a modern rock band in 2015.

There is a fair amount of folk influences in here. Flute sounds and acoustic guitars blend in with melodic, blues rock style female vocals on most of the songs to create that “retro” feel. In addition to this, some of the tracks feature elements of funk music – for example the groove sounds of rhythmic guitar and the Hammond organ on Looking In The Past. Then just in case that’s not enough to make you feel like you have traveled back to the 1970s, the guitar work on their final piece Wandersmann has a certain experimental flair to it which gives the song a weird, psychedelic quality.

In summary, listening to ‘Sow The Wind’ felt like traveling back in time to an era when these types of music were in vogue. So if you’re a fan of either folk music, blues rock or ’70s style psychedelic rock then you could enjoy this. Personally it’s not my kind of thing but I appreciate the effort that they put into creating that “retro”, nostalgic sound.


Iza Raittila

Lumous Gothic Festival 2014

Posted in Alternative, Festival, Folk, Industrial, Live, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on 6th July 2014 by izaforestspirit

Lumous Gothic Festival 2014 @ Tampere, Finland

Two Witches, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Leaether Strip
Klubi, Tampere
4-5th July

Lumous Gothic Festival is Finland’s largest goth event. It was established back in 2001 and has become an annual event held in central Tampere. The music on offer is strictly non-metal, ranging from goth rock, darkwave, industrial and EBM to neofolk. The actual festival is a four day event but the main shows take place on the Friday and Saturday.

The opening act was meant to be the Russian Harsh EBM band Steelgrout. Sadly they were unable to make it due to some problems with their Visas. Their replacement was the Jyväskylä-based Finnish EBM act Unzyme. Before their substitutes started, they actually played a message from Steelgrout to the audience in which the Russian band apologizes for not being able to make it. Unzyme describe their sound as “biomechanical pop” which is essentially synthpop with lab experiments as a their main theme. Their set was entertaining and it was a good start to the night. 3.5/5
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Next up was the Swedish goth rock band Malaise. I’m not a massive fan of goth rock, but these guys were better than I expected. They combined the classic goth rock sound of bands like The Sisters of Mercy and Fields of The Nephilim with EBM for a sound that is truly unique and memorable. I really enjoyed their set and this was my favourite performance of the night. 4/5
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The final act of the night was another Swedish band – Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio. Their sound is not an easy one to classify; it’s a mixture of dark ambient, neofolk and industrial. They are a returning act to Lumous having played their before back in 2002. Their music has this eerie, soundtrack feel to it and the pace is mostly slow. The problem I had with them is that they were playing dark ambient in the early hours of the morning, by which time my energy was running out. I was too exhausted to stick around until the end of their set. 3/5
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The night started with a performance by the Latvian industrial band Autogen. Their style is a mixture of industrial noize and rhythmic/powernoize with an experimental flare akin to the likes of The Klinik. Some tracks were more danceable than others. They also had an interesting range of stage props ranging from fake blood, a fire extinguisher and a contraption that looked like a defibrillator. Their set was definitely entertaining as a result, but I wasn’t super keen on the music itself. 2/5
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Next up was the Finnish rock band Two Witches. Their lead singer Jyrki Witch is one of the organizers of the festival. I like their old songs but I’m not too familiar with their new work. Luckily they played a mixture of old and new material including “Zombie Walk” (from the latest album) along with some old classics such as “Vampire Empire” and “Burn The Witch”. They are one of the best and the most energetic goth rock bands that I’ve seen in a while. 4/5
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The night ended with a performance from the main band I came to see, the Danish harsh EBM duo Leaether Strip. I’ve seen them live last year and it was great to see them again. These guys really give it their all, playing all their hit tracks including “Evil Speaks”, “Strap Me Down” and “Don’t Tame Your Soul”. It didn’t take long before I joined in, dancing along with the rest of the audience. 5/5
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

So there you have it. Another summer, another Lumous Festival. It’s always great to see that the goth and industrial scene in Finland is alive and well. I just wish that they would organize more events like this in the future.

Iza Raittila

Tuomas Holopainen – The Life and Times of Scrooge

Posted in CD, Folk, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on 14th March 2014 by hammersmashedlauren

Tuomas Holopainen
The Life and Times of Scrooge
Released: 11th April, 2014
Folk/Symphonic Rock
Released via Nuclear Blast

Being his first solo record, Tuomas Holopainen did an outstanding job of creating a masterpiece that is very different from anything he has ever done in his primary band, Nightwish. This is a concept album that is based off of the Disney novel, The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, and if this book did have a movie, I’m confident that this album would be the soundtrack. There are, of course, keyboards and a symphony which doesn’t branch too far from Nightwish, but there are also elements of folk heard at different times which gave this the light-hearted, childish feel you might get from a Disney movie.

Many musicians helped to create the album, and most of them were not from metal bands. However, Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica played the part of the “storyteller” and one of Nightwish’s newest members, Troy Donockley, played the pipes and whistles. I like that even with the help of metal musicians, it still did not derive away from the over feel of the album. There are some times when songs definitely were a bit more aggressive and heavier, and that subtle influence was enough to remind me that this album was made by a metal musician.

One track in particular, Cold Heart of the Klondike, had an intro that reminded me a lot of something that Nightwish would have written. This is probably because it starts out with primarily the keyboards and then gradually goes into violins paired with dramatic choir vocals, and that’s something I would expect to hear on any kind of symphonic metal album. While I greatly enjoyed these small bits of fast and epic music, it’s primarily what I looked forward while listening to this album. I felt that the tracks were much too long and kind of dragged out after a while. The only tracked I really enjoyed listening to was their single release, A Lifetime of Adventure. To me, it was the most memorable because it had the most vocals and didn’t drag out for too long. While the other songs were done beautifully, they were just entirely too long and repetitive for my liking.

Overall, this album was a great listen. I highly recommend picking it up once it is released next month if you are a fan of symphonic, folk, or power metal. A Lifetime of Adventure has a music video out if you want to preview what the album actually sounds like as well. I was impressed by the musicianship and overall quality of this album, and I hope Tuomas Holopainen continues to make more solo records.


Lauren Gowdy

Ben Parcell – Expectations

Posted in CD, Folk, Pop Punk with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 5th September 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Ben Parcell

Released 14th September 2013
Acoustic/Folk/Pop Punk
Released via By The Sea Records

Since becoming a solo act, Ben Parcell has gained a relative amount of fame through the East riding area and beyond for his soul-fuelled songwriting, distinctive voice and hard working attitude. Ben has clocked over 250 shows around the UK, playing both gigs and festivals. Taking influence from a wide range of different acts and genres such as Frank Turner, The Beatles and Green Day, Ben has established his own sound whilst staying true to his roots.

Opening up the album is the title track, Expectations, which proves to be a gentle yet honest song filled with emotive lyrics as well as distinctive accompaniment of piano. Out Of Here has a different sound all together, with a new pulse added to it by the use of percussion while the lyrics and vocals a certain tension to the music that rings out with all the strength of church bells minus the inducement of headaches. The use of guitar has a slight jig to it, blending in elements that are hard to explain. Gracie Falls‘ vocals inject a docile but rare touch into the song.

Forget The Pain has a misty, Stygian atmosphere that is reflected gracefully through each note and dances seductively with the lyrics. Given the darkish sound of the song, would it be safe to classify this as doom folk? Painted By Numbers is the upbeat number that appeared on Ben‘s EP of the same name (the review of which can be found here). The backing vocals, as provided by Edwina Hayes, adds a pillar of strength to the song while Ben‘s vocals and guitar work laid the foundations. I Don’t Need You continues with the upbeat tempo though the lyrics and vocals leave a trail of dusk and solemn feelings in their wake – A contrast that clearly works well for Ben. The piano medleys add a handsome sound to the song, keeping it fresh yet gloaming.

Undertow sails down a similar route to that of the opening and title track Expectations but some interesting changes of course throughout its journey whereas Jetsam a stable and silky campaign from beginning to end – A perfect chill out song. Stay In Touch is another song from Ben‘s Painted By Numbers EP and makes for easy and pleasant listening, though the pace picks up ever so slightly after the introduction. Too Late To Say Goodbye also appeared on Painted By Numbers, capturing the sobering and reflective side of Ben‘s music. The last song to feature on the album from Painted By Numbers is Love Song, which rings out with emotional lyrics and soul-filled music.

The album finishes up with Light At The End Of The Tunnel. The guitar passages whistle out a partially majestic sound, underlying the subtle emotional tones in Ben‘s voice. The organ sounds summon up a thoughtful, somber sound that makes the song almost infused with doom-flavoured elements which are eventually added by the grave use of Black Sabbath-based electric guitars.

Since his career began as an acoustic act, Ben Parcell has slowly become one of the well known musicians of East Yorkshire’s acoustic and folk scene and Expectations is a testament to Ben‘s talent and is one of the most important albums in the East Yorkshire’s folk scene – If not, the UK’s. Blending influences and elements from different genres and musicians, Expectations also clearly shows an evolution in Ben‘s sound and style.


Nico Davidson

Ben Parcell online: