Archive for the CD Category

Iza’s Highlights of 2018

Posted in Alternative, Editorial/Opinionated, Industrial, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2018 by izaforestspirit

It’s that time of the year again! Time for my annual best of list or “highlights” as I prefer to call them. This year I have decided to do just one list rather than two separate ones for metal and non-metal. The main reason for this is that there have not been too many industrial/EBM releases that caught my attention this year. So without further ado, here are my top ten albums of 2018:

1. Powerwolf – The Sacrament of Sin
Genre: Power Metal
Powerwolf - The Sacrament of Sin

The German power metal wolves are back with a new album. And what an album it is!! I honestly cannot get enough of it. It may not be very profound as far as the themes go but it is hell of a lot of fun. Stand-out tracks are ‘Fire & Forgive’, ‘Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ and ‘Nightside of Siberia’.

2. Lord of The Lost – Thornstar
Genre: Dark Rock/Gothic Industrial Metal
Image result for lord of the lost thornstar
I absolutely adore this band. They combine the best of dark rock with Gothic metal and Deathstars-like industrial metal. ‘Thornstar’ has to be their greatest and most complex album to date. In order to fully understand the concept, I would recommend that you download the 21 paged ‘Thornstar backstory’ from the band’s website. It’s a fascinating read that offers some insight into Pangaean history and culture. Alternatively you can simply enjoy music. Stand-out tracks are ‘On This Rock I Will Build My Church’, ‘Haythor’ and ‘Black Halo’.

3. Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest
Genre: Blackened Death Metal

Behemoth are back with their long-awaited new album. As I mentioned in my review, this is not ‘The Satanist part 2’ but rather a mixture of both old and new Behemoth styles. It takes a few listens but once you get into it your patience will be rewarded. Stand-out tracks are ‘Wolves ov Siberia’ and ‘Bartzabel’.

4. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura
Genre: Melodic Black Metal/Oriental Metal
閃靈 - 政治 / Battlefields of Asura
My favourite oriental metal band are back. Their latest album might not be a memorable as ‘Bú Tik’ but it has its moments. Music-wise it offers more of Chthonic’s unique blend of melodic black metal, death metal and oriental folk music with the addition of some choirs and guest vocals from the Cantopop singer Denise Ho. Stand-out tracks are ‘A Crimson Sky’s Command’ and ‘Millennia’s Faith Undone’.

5. MONO Inc. – Welcome to Hell
Genre: Gothic Rock/Dark Rock
Image result for MONO INC WELCOME TO HELL cover
More Gothic rock…’ Welcome to Hell’ is my favourite MONO Inc. album to date. Their music is essentially melodic hard rock but it also has this wonderful, eerie Gothic feel. Stand-out tracks are ‘Long Live Death’, A Vagabond’s Life’ and Reign of Rats’.

6. Grimner – Vanadrottning
Genre: Folk Metal/Viking Metal
Grimner - Vanadrottning

I had the pleasure of reviewing this album earlier this year. It’s been a long while since I’ve heard any folk metal that was this good. I would recommend this to fans of Finntroll, Ensiferum and Månegarm. Stand-out tracks are ‘Vanadrottning’ and ‘En Fallen Jätte’.

7. Monstrosity – The Passage Of Existence
Genre – Death Metal
Monstrosity - The Passage of Existence
My kind of death metal and my favourite death metal album of 2018. It is hard to pick out a stand-out track since in all honestly I like them all but ‘Kingdom of Fire’ and ‘Maelstrom’ are the ones that stuck in my head the most.

8. Hanzel und Gretyl – Satanik Germanik
Genre: Industrial Metal/Groove Metal/Extreme Metal
Hanzel und Gretyl - Satanik Germanik
‘Satanik Germanik’ is Hanzel und Gretyl’s heaviest and most metal album. As mentioned in my review it is darker and more serious than the material from the “Fukken Über’ era, much like its predecessor ‘Black Forest Metal’. Luckily that does not make it any less fun. Stand-out tracks are ‘I Am Bad Luck’ and the party song ‘Trinken Mit Der Kaizer (Die Bierz From Hell)’

9. Scandroid – The Darkness
Genre: Synthwave
Image result for scandroid the darkness
One of the few electronic releases that made it to my top 10. ‘The Darkness’ is the third album from Klayton (Celldweller/Circle of Dust)’s synthwave project Scandroid. Delightful retro synthesizer tunes, a little guitar and melodic vocals all with a futuristic feel. Stand-out tracks ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Red Planet’.

10. Auger – The Awakening
Genre: Darkwave
Image result for auger the awakening
A new discovery for me. I really enjoyed Auger’s show at Lumous Gothic Festival 2018. This British dark wave duo combine the best of darkwave and Gothic rock. I would recommend their debut album to fans of Blutengel, Gothminister and The Vision Bleak. Stand-out tracks are ‘Monster’ and ‘My Guardian’.

Honourable mentions:

Xentrifuge – Desensitized Parallels, Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods, Psyclon Nine – Icon of The Adversary. All good albums but with only a few outstanding tracks they missed out on a space in my top ten list.
IAMX’s latest album ‘Alive in The New Light’ also came out of the start of this year. While it didn’t make my top ten I did enjoy it, especially the track ‘Mile Deep Hollow’.
Check out the video here:

Best live show of 2018: Helloween live at South Park Festival in Tampere.
Biggest New Discovery: Auger
Most anticipated albums in 2019:
Blutengel – Un:Gott
Blue Stahli – Obsidian
Also hopefully new albums by Helloween and Rammstein.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Iza Raittila

Advertisements

Igniter and Lost Society live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal with tags , , , on 29th December 2018 by izaforestspirit

Igniter, Lost Society
Olympia, Tampere, Finland
28th December 2018

Last gig of 2018! The Christmas holidays are over and the New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. The days in between these two holidays tend to be rather dull and there is not a hell of a lot do. So I had a look to see what metal shows were on. Mortiis was in town but since this was part of their Era 1 tour (the dark ambient albums) I decided to give it a miss. I am not that much into dark ambient and it is not something that I would like to hear live. Then I spotted an advert for a thrash metal night at Olympia. I’ve seen Lost Society live at South Park Festival back in the summer but I did not know anything about the other band Igniter other than that they also play thrash metal.

After some research I discovered that Igniter are a local band with only one self-released EP. Luckily that did not stop them from putting on one hell of a show. They played some solid, old-school thrash metal, fast and full of energy just like it should be. I was really impressed with their performance and I hope to hear more from them soon. 4.5/5

Lost Society is one of those bands who command a sizable fan-base though I honestly cannot comprehend why. It is not so much that their music is bad. It is fairly decent-sounding thrash metal but I simply could not get into it. All the songs sounded similar and it felt as though the band were trying too hard to act like some major rock stars on stage. For example the singer was often switching from Finnish (his native tongue) to Americanized English while addressing the crowd. There were only a handful of memorable moments during the show: the part when they got a running mosh-pit going and a guitar solo towards the end of their set. 2.5/5

Overall it was a fun night out. Igniter far exceeded my expectations and their show was the better one of the night. Lost Society have their fans but after watching another mediocre performance by them I do not count myself among them.

Iza Raittila

Gates Of Paris – Gates Of Paris

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , on 28th December 2018 by mickbirchy

Gates Of Paris

Gates Of Paris

Symphonic Metal, Progressive Rock

Released: 30th November 2018

 Self Released


I have to say I’m pretty damn impressed by this French symphonic metal act, and their new self-titled record is something to shout about. I have to admit, I don’t go hunting for new symphonic metal acts, but they always seem to find me, one way or another. Gates Of Paris are a metal outfit, funnily enough, from France and they bring everything that is interesting and fun about this genre to the forefront on this record.  Their debut album is quite interesting, mixing a variety of different styles of music to create their own unique blend of what I can only call, evil-metal carnival music. It’s epic and weird all at the same time.

I was hooked from pretty much the first moments. The stylistic atmosphere is excellent and sound beautiful right out of the gate. The sound of the band is great with excellent riffs and wonderful musical progressions. I like all of the musical elements that they include on the record, in particular, the Spanish guitar which makes it on to the record on several occasions. It’s always pleasant and great to hear whenever it comes in. Every level of the production is smooth and well integrated. From the great guitar licks, the powerful bass lines to the commanding drums, it all feels so glorious. I really like the way the album flows together, it almost has a serial or concept nature it and every song flows into the next seamlessly.

The album also has interesting musical cues here and there. All of these moments really shine a light how much fun this band can be. Such as having their own version of circus music in there. There really isn’t a lot here that bugs me or annoys me. Really, the only thing that got under my skin is that I never felt the need to return to the album once I listened to it. The music doesn’t have that “re-playability” factor, at least not for me. If you really like this style of music, then maybe there’s more “re-playability” in this for you, but this is a once in a while record for me.

In summary, I do like this album. Gates Of Paris are seriously impressive, considering that this their first record. The sound is crisp and well put together. The production is excellent and overall it’s really a well put together record. It may not be overly captivating to me but I can definitely hear other people really getting into this style of music. If you like your symphonic rock and progressive grooves this is certainly a record that you sink your teeth into.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Guardians of Time – Tearing Up The World

Posted in Metal with tags , , on 22nd December 2018 by izaforestspirit

Guardians of Time
Tearing Up The World
Released 19th October 2018
Power Metal
Released via ROAR! Rock of Angels Records

Guardians of Time - Tearing Up the World

‘Tearing Up The World’ is the new album from the Norwegian power metal band Guardians of Time. The band has been around since the late 1990s and their line-up includes the current vocalist of Suspiria as well as guitarist Paul Olsen (ex-Trail of Tears). This release features guest performances from Abbath and Tim “Ripper” Owens (ex-Judas Priest/ ex-Iced Earth).

Power metal is one of those genres that I prefer enjoy in small doses. There are a few notable exceptions; power metal bands that I happily tune into all year around including Sabaton, Powerwolf and Helloween. Generally speaking though, this is the type of music that sounds best on a sunny, summer day at a festival when enjoying a cold beer. I have the beverage part sorted but it does not change the fact that I am listening to this on a cold, snowy, December night in Finland with maximum of 5 hours of daylight in this season… What does fit this setting though are Abbath’s backing vocals in the title track. After all, Abbath is best known for his work with the black metal band Immortal who are all about the grim and the frostbitten. Then there are the references to snow, ice and Norse mythology in Valhalla Awaits. Now that’s more like it…

Yet there is no getting away from the predominant style of slightly cheesy but ultimately very traditional power metal. Luckily there are no overblown keyboard tunes and the vocals are not overly squeaky and the guitar work is pretty good. I could list a whole bunch of power metal bands that sound similar but I honestly do not see the point. Even for those who are not familiar with the band, the band name and the album cover should be a big clue of what kind of music you can expect to hear. Oh yes, what we have here are twelve tracks of energetic, fast and catchy power metal with the focus being principally on the guitars. It is full steam ahead from start to finish with not a single slow track or ballad in sight. Take the aforementioned Valhalla Awaits for example – it is probably the fastest track on the album, with guitar riffs galore and powerful vocals, all of which combined make the song just perfect for headbanging. So what if the lyrics are a little cheesy… As I Burn also deserves a mention with Tim “Ripper” Owens doing guest vocals. His vocal style is a touch more aggressive than Mr. Fjellestad’s and the dual vocals work well with the crunchy guitars and the pounding drums to create a powerful song.

In summary, the season might be wrong but I’ve had lots of fun reviewing ‘Tearing Up The World’ and it definitely put me in a good mood. If power metal is your thing then there is a lot to like on here especially if you are a fan of bands such as Three Inches of Blood and Helloween.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Full House Brew Crew – Me Against You

Posted in Metal with tags , , , on 17th December 2018 by izaforestspirit

Full House Brew Crew
Me Against You
Released 16th November 2018
Groove Metal / Heavy Metal
Released via ROAR! Rock of Angels Records

Image result for full house brew crew me against you

We Against You’ is the second album from the Greek groove metal band Full House Brew Crew. The band was formed back in 2009 by guitarist and vocalist Vagelis “Van” Karzis who currently plays bass for Rotting Christ. Their music has been compared to the Black album -era Metallica, Godsmack and Black Label Society.

Groove metal is not a genre that I listen to that much. In fact, the only groove metal band I occasionally tune into is DevilDriver. I never really got into Black Label Society and Godsmack has always been a little too grunge / nu-metal for my liking. So hopefully this album has a least a hint of Metallica in the guitars, otherwise it will be a complete waste of my time…

Well aside from some of the guitar patterns there is not much similarity to Metallica on here. What is fairly easy to detect though is the Southern metal, bluesy groove metal akin to the likes of Black Label Society. Even the vocal style is similar. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. This record has its moments such as the catchy, groovy guitar harmonies in the chorus of No One’s Safe or heavier, more aggressive, metal-sounding Hollow God. Once again the guitar work is pretty good and the vocals work well with the music.

Those are the positives, now for the negatives… Some of the slower, ballad-type tracks on here reminded me of bands such as Nickelback and Disturbed. Take When I Crossed That Door! for example, it’s your typical hard rock ballad that you might hear on the radio. It falls in the category of melodic, radio-friendly rock that works ok as a background noise but ultimately doesn’t fill me with any kind of excitement. It is songs like this one that make the album seem a bit too long and lacking in energy.

In summary, ‘We Against You’ features a mixture of styles ranging from groove metal, Southern rock/metal through to heavy metal and hard rock. I wish that there was more of the groove metal and less of the slow hard rock ballads which drag the album down.

2.5/5
Iza Raittila

Corrosive Sweden release new single

Posted in Metal, Misc., News with tags , on 12th December 2018 by izaforestspirit

Here is something for fans of melodic death metal. Introducing Corrosive Sweden, a melodic death metal band from Iggesund, Sweden. They are currently working on their latest album which is scheduled to released in March 2019 via BMP Records.

For now you can check out their latest single ‘Angry Me’.

Or the original version of the song:

The single is available on itunes, Spotify as well as other digital platforms.

For more details visit:
https://corrosivesweden.se/

https://www.facebook.com/CorrosiveSweden/

BillyBio – Feed The Fire

Posted in CD, Metal, Punk Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 8th December 2018 by mickbirchy

BillyBio

Feed The Fire

Thrash Metal, Rapcore, Hardcore Punk

Released: 30th November 2018

via AFM Records

 

It’s really cool being able to listen to the new project from the frontman of Biohazard, Billy Graziadei. Going under the new name BillyBio, he has released the new record Feed the Fire and I have to say it’s pretty good. I was interested to listen to this right off of the bat as I am a big fan of Biohazard and I’ve always like their mix of thrash metal, punk and rap metal. So, I wanted to hear what Billy could do on his own. This record is an interesting listen, it’s fast pace, heavy and filled with political statements. It’s clear Billy is a great songwriter and I have always appreciated him as a musician.

I like the production and the overall sound of the record. Right from the first song, the album hits you in the face with a blast of heavy guitars, bass and drums & the forceful presence of Graziadei. There are lots of moments on the record that get you amped up and raring for more. My particular favourite song in this regard is “Generation Z”. Which, along with the intensity, it has a catchy chorus. Everything presented here hits hard and fast. The general writing quality on display is great with Graziadei throwing in rap verses over thrash metal tones and it all fits together so well.

Although, the problem I have with the album is the guitar tone. It’s pretty much the same all the way and it can feel a little samey, hearing the same tone over and over again. It makes the album drag just a little bit. It just grinds away and that can get just a little boring here and there. Even though all of the songs are short and sweet, the never-changing tone just makes it feel like it’s longer than it really is. Only a few songs ended up sticking with me and that because of the great hooks and choruses.

So, I am a little mixed when it comes to this album. There are some really good songs when you take them individually but they just become one long mesh when put together on an album. So the album doesn’t really work as a cohesive whole. There is a lot to like, the strong social commentary, the harsh guitars and the commanding bass and drums. Billy is a fantastic frontman and his personality is what sells the album for me. If this was made by a band that didn’t know how to make these elements work it would just be so weak. Yet, Graziadei can take all these elements and throw them together to make a decent album. He’s such a forceful presence, you have to pay attention to him at the end of the day. It’s definitely worth picking up, though I wouldn’t advise sitting through it in one go.

3/5

Mick Birchall.