Archive for the Folk Category

MAKS – 3ft No Diving

Posted in CD, Folk, Rock with tags , , , , , , on 2nd February 2018 by mickbirchy

MAKS

3ft No Diving

Rock, Southern Rock, Adult Alternative

Released: 23 June 2017

Self Released

This is definitely an interesting release to listen to. MAKS is a Dutch multi-instrumentalist singer songwriter with a very distinct sound. It’s a big old mixture of rock, new wave, country and adult alternative. His new album 3ft No Diving is certainly something very unique, I guarantee you haven’t heard anything like this. It’s an album that really stretches the length of what you’d call “rock music”. The type of album you get here is an interesting musical soup of different instrumental styles and genres which when combined make for something really interesting to listen to. All of the songs are written by him, barring the two covers which I’ll mention later, so there’s some real personal ideas here which I feel are executed well. OK, this album is not going to be to everyone’s taste, I’ll tell you now but there’s some fantastic songwriting here.

The album opens with the foreboding tone of “Portal”. However this is quickly moved into the first song on the album “Lay Down Low” and automatically you learn what type of album you’re getting. A nice fusion of electronic new wave and folky southern rock and it actually works quite well. Obviously he’s not the first to make this odd pairing but he definitely has his own vision of how it should work. The guitar being very prominent and most of the other instruments falling into the background somewhere. MAKS voice is really good, a very soothing tone for the melodies and every so often he has that blues scratchiness to his voice which is great. In particularly for his cover of “Stones in my Passway” a blues classic by Robert Johnson. The other cover “Waiting for the Man” by Lou Reed is nicely performed as well, although I’m not the biggest Lou Reed fan, I can appreciate this. It’s very clear from the sound on the album that this was a passion project and the passion definitely shines through.

However, the production is not all there, at least not for me. Everything is quite tinny and there sounds like there’s a lot of audio filters. Hey, if this is your thing then fine but for me, I like a little bass and more of a bottom to the production. The acoustic guitar sounds lovely, however everything else is quite muted and feels synthesised to a degree and that gets annoying after a while. If the drums had a little more impact to them and the bass filled the bottom of the sound, then this maybe a little easier to listen to. Other than that, I have very little problems, the songwriting is great and I love how the melodies flow, it sounds well put together on a writing level, also the riffs are well executed.  

For me I like it. I didn’t love it, but I look forward to hearing him create more music. He obviously has an ear for lyrics, melody, harmony and rhythm and with that comes something that truly sticks with you. Again, the production may not be to everyone’s taste but I think with a little bit more of a punch and a thicker tone this could be something I could say I love.  Definitely worth checking out anyway. Hope you listen and enjoy.

3.5/5

Mick Birchall

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Eluveitie – Evocation II: Pantheon

Posted in CD, Folk with tags , , on 12th August 2017 by izaforestspirit

Eluveitie

Evocation II: Pantheon

Released 18th August 2017

Folk/Acoustic

Released via Nuclear Blast

Eluveitie - Evocation II: Pantheon

Swiss folk metallers Eluveitie are back with a new female singer and a new album. Now for those who have been following the band for some time, the name ‘Evocation’ will be familiar because the band has already released one album under that moniker back in 2009. What we have here is part two of that concept – ‘Evocation II: Pantheon’, which offers more acoustic folk tunes. So, for those who enjoyed the first ‘Evocation’ album, you’re in for a treat. If, like me, you prefer the more metal-oriented works such as ‘Slania’ then you might have a hard time adjusting to the lack of metal elements on here.

That’s not the only thing that makes this album stand out. Another feature I’ve noticed is the distinct lack of male vocals on here. As much I appreciate Fabienne Erni’s melodious vocal talents, I actually miss the dual vocal configuration with their frontman Chrigel Glanzmann’s harsh semi-growls providing a sharp contrast. Then again, that would make it more metal-sounding, which is clearly is not the aim here. No, this is definitely a folk album with tin whistles, acoustic guitars, bagpipes,harps etc. being the order of the day.

Epona caught my attention, as one of the catchiest songs on here. So catchy in fact that it makes you want to get up, dance and possibly even sing along. I honestly have no idea what the lyrics mean but that chorus has been stuck in my head for several days now! There’s quite a few purely instrumental tracks on here too, all bearing that distinctive Celtic feel to them due to the tin whistles and harps. Lvgvs sounds like Eluveitie’s rendition of the Breton drinking song ‘Son ar chistr’. And what a great job they did on it. Yet there’s more to ‘Evocation II’ than just drinking songs and catchy folk tunes; there are a few more sombre songs on here as well such as the Cernvnnos, and the beautiful Artio which really shows off Erni’s vocal talents. Then there is Cavtrix which includes some rather creepy-sounding war chants and drumming as if to mimic the eve of a battle. Last but not least I want mention Ogmios, which sounds like a new, re-lyricized acoustic version of one of the tracks from their earlier albums.

In summary, the clue is in the name – ‘Evocation II: Pantheon’ is a logical continuation of where the first ‘Evocation’ album left off. It’s all folk music with not even the slightest hint of metal. So if you enjoyed the first ‘Evocation’ album then you’re bound to like this. Personally I liked some of songs but after listening through to all eighteen tracks of acoustic folk, I really missed the sounds of an electric guitar and harsh growling. Good work Eluveitie! How about a metal album next time?

3.5/5

Iza Raittila

Cellar Darling – This Is The Sound

Posted in CD, Folk, Metal, Rock with tags , , on 25th June 2017 by mickbirchy

 

Cellar Darling

This Is The Sound

Folk rock, Folk metal

Released: 30 June 2017

via Nuclear Blast Records

OK, to address the elephant in the room. I was, and still am, not a fan of Eluveitie. Never got into their music like people said I should. So, I really don’t know much of the politics or behind the scenes of why Anna Murphy, Merlin Sutter and Ivo Henz decided to leave the band. Yet, that is the situation we’re in and now from those three, we now have, Cellar Darling. Their debut album is a pretty fun listen. I have to admit the sharp tones and the catchy melodies were enough to whet my appetite. Yet, when I listened more and more I found that this album has a lot to offer both in music and in the lyrics.

First off, to reiterate, This Is The Sound, sounds wonderful. The production is full of big guitars and, massive bass lines that get the blood pumping. All of the folk instrumentation sound great too. Weaving in and out so seamlessly. Everything on the album is designed to make the band seem a big a possible. So as you can imagine it’s quite an impactful album with every clash of the drums and every blast of the guitars feel larger than life.  Genuinely a good feeling to my ears when you hear a band like that. You can hear this from the first track  ‘Avalanche’. Anna Murphy’s vocals hit hard too. Her voice is powerful, but it’s not all power there are some dynamics here. The way her vocals alone manipulate the emotion, tension and intensity of the songs is a testament to her charisma as a front woman.

This album oozes with great riffs, beautiful atmosphere and infectious melodies. Yet, none of it feels overdone. It just flows very nicely and the band have great chemistry, everything just feels like it blends together really nicely. The harshness of the rock instruments provide the songs with a lot of weight. While the folk element complements the heavy sounds and really gives the music another layer. Again it never feels like it’s too much, it always has that nice balance so every element works off the other rather one. As a whole I’ve really like this album, it’s a nice pleasant listen.  I wouldn’t say it’s the most amazing thing in the world but it’s definitely been worth a listen or two.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Siena Root – A Dream of Lasting Peace

Posted in CD, Folk, Rock with tags , , , , on 22nd May 2017 by mickbirchy

Siena Root

A Dream of Lasting Peace

Rock, Folk, Psychedelic

Released 26th May 2017

via Hänsel & Gretel, MIG-Music

 

This has been a listen for me. Lately I’ve been really into my mellow music, instead of in your face heavy metal. When I first played the album I was immediately interested in the sound that was coming from the speakers. The sheer imagination these guys bring to the table is outstanding. The music is this psychedelic folk sound that’s really hard out of your head.  Their tone is just unlike anything I’ve really listened to in recent memory. The sweeping guitar tones, the excellent production and the fantastic songwriting. It all sounds so glorious. A Dream of Lasting Peace is a just a excellent listen from start to finish.

The production of this album is really damn good. The instrumentation is exquisite, with every member really making an impression on you. Samuel Björö’s vocals are just so emotional and they soar above the production and really resonates with you. He is just one of those front men that can really paint a picture with his word and draw you into the world he creates. All the while the band plays an amazing score to accompany the great lyrics. The way the music swells around the lyric is a magical experience, particularly on tracks like “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay” & “Empty Streets”. I was simply entranced the whole time. It’s just excellent from start to finish. I really can’t stop listening to it.

This feels like a band that just know how to create a great musical experience, This being their sixth studio album, the band have just gelled at this point. Everything about their sound is so natural and almost comes off as effortless. It’s such a nice album just to play and have a good time to. Just let the music entrance you into a state of euphoria. It’s seriously a great trip.  I’m so happy to have found this band. This one album is definitely worth your time.

5/5
Mick Birchall

Perfect Blue Sky – The Eye of Tilos

Posted in CD, Folk, Rock with tags , , , , , , on 6th May 2017 by mickbirchy

 

Perfect Blue Sky

The Eye of Tilos

Soft Rock, Psychedelic Rock

Released: 19th May 2017

via Scarecrow Music Group (SE) Right Recordings (UK)

Perfect Blue Sky, is the highly anticipated collaboration between one of the founding members of the Swedish metal act Netherbird Pontus, Pna Andersson and Australian solo rock vocalist, Jane Kitto. Together they formed the band in 2014 based out of Stockholm, Sweden. I have to say going into this album, The Eye of Tilos, I knew little to nothing about them. With that, I had absolutely no expectations when first playing this. On first listen I had no idea what I was in for.  Just vague non-descriptors from a PR statement. With a clear mind I listened on and found that this is one of the most pleasant sounding albums I’ve listened to in a while.

I was hit with tight songwriting and smooth production.  The music was this 70’s style soft rock, you know the kind of stuff that we don’t usually cover here on Valkyrian Music. This really beautiful soft acoustic soft rock, with light elements of psychedelic indie rock music. The sounds are so fluent and cerebral.  It has this way of getting lodged in your brain. It’s not catchy as such, there are no real ear worms here. More just beautiful tones that sink into your memory without you even realising it.  There’s some creative riffs and superbly simplistic, but effective, writing ideas. The harmonies really grab your attention in a way that you wouldn’t think.  All of the songs are designed so that you pay attention to them as a whole, instead of nitpicking the individual aspects. It’s the same joy I feel from listening to stoner metal or outlaw country music.  Just music that switches off my overthinking capacity and switches on my pure enjoyment.

I don’t want you to think that this production is small scale or under planned.  There’s a lot of work that goes into making music that sounds like this.  To achieve this the duo have recruited a pretty nice backing band that really bring all of the elements of this album together. Names like, Frank Bessard (Joe Satriani, Stanley Clarke) and Dave Getz (Big Brother Holding Co.) on Drums. Danny Oakhill on Keyboards (Queen Tribute, Turk Tresize).  Jerry Donahue on Guitar (Fairport Convention, Hellecasters). All of them bring their energy to the album, yet like I’ve said the production never lets any one member really over shine the others.  There is is this really nice balance to it all. So the listener never feels overwhelmed by any one part of the production.

Genuinely, I have loved this album. It’s a beautiful sounding record with a lot to offer in its production and in its songwriting. With songs of passion, abstract concepts and social commentary. The Eye of Tilos is such a nice sounding album.  It mixes old school hippie jams with classic rock and adds some modern style production to really keep it in today’s market. I am really liking this band.  Hopefully this won’t be the last I hear from them. Also, it makes for awesome driving music.

5/5

Mick Birchall

Behemoth’s Nergal launches dark folk side-project Me And That Man

Posted in Folk, Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , , , , , on 20th January 2017 by izaforestspirit

The Behemoth frontman Nergal has recently formed a new side-project with rock musician John Porter. The project is called Me And That Man and it is completely different from Nergal’s main band.

There are no metal elements, instead Me And That Man is more akin to the works of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave. Dark folk is the best description that I can think of.

The duo are currently working on their debut album ‘Songs of Love and Death’, which is scheduled to hit the shops on 24th March 2017 via Cooking Vinyl.

In the meantime you can check out their first video here:

For more information about the project visit:

https://www.facebook.com/meandthatman/?fref=ts

http://www.meandthatman.com/

Equilibrium – Armageddon

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

Equilibrium
Armageddon
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.

3.5/5

Mick Bichall