Archive for the CD Category

Sabaton – The Great War

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , on 26th July 2019 by izaforestspirit

Sabaton
The Great War
Released 19th July 2019
Power Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast Records

Sabaton - The Great War
Swedish power metal brigade are back with yet another historically themed album. As the title suggests it is The First World War, also known as The Great War. According to their official website they have been planning to make an album on this topic for quite some time. I wasn’t too impressed with their previous work but I decided to give this a go. After all it’s Sabaton, even their so-called bad albums have a least a few good tracks on them…

Well, after a few listens I can happily say that this album is a bit better thought-out and structured than their previous effort ‘The Last Stand’. While that album felt more like a collection of various ideas crammed into one full length, the songs on this one all sound like they belong together. Many of the tracks also feature a choir in the chorus making the music sound more dynamic. I quite enjoyed the opening song The Future of Warfare. It reminds me a little of ‘Night Witches’ from the ‘Heroes’ album. As far as the music goes, it’s classic Sabaton, with most of the emphasis being on Mr. Brodén’s powerful vocals and the catchy guitar riffs. Luckily they did not overdo it on the keyboards. Seven Pillars of Wisdom is one of the tracks that stood out the most for me. It’s very guitar-centric and the guitar work is pretty good as are the vocals. Also the lyrics are very well though-out and a serious improvement compared to some of their previous songs. As much as I enjoy Sabaton’s music, some of their lyrics are a little too cheesy for my liking. The title track is easily the best song on the album. Lots of energy, catchy guitar work, good use of a choir and powerful vocals. Nice work there, Sabaton!

If only the rest of the album were as good as those three tracks. Sadly that is not the case. There are several moments on here where I had this odd sense of déjà vu. Many of the songs sound like something that Sabaton has done before, albeit slightly modified and with different lyrics. I’m not going to list which tracks sound similar to older Sabaton songs because that would make this review into an essay. Let’s just say that there are many and if you have been listening to Sabaton for as long as I have, they are pretty hard to miss. There are also two songs that I simply couldn’t get into – the ultra cheesy -sounding The Red Baron and disco-metal of The Attack of The Dead Men. The latter really overdoes it with the keyboards and that chorus is just so irritating… I’m not sure why if find it so annoying, maybe it’s the frequent repetition of “again” and “hundred men”.

Overall, ‘The Great War’ is an improvement compared to Sabaton’s previous album but it’s still a far cry from the best work. It is a good album but not brilliant one. I wasn’t expecting them to make another ‘Carolus Rex’ but this is really the best that they can do?

4/5
Iza Raittila

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Metallica live in Hämeenlinna

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , on 17th July 2019 by izaforestspirit

Bokassa, Ghost, Metallica
Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto, Hämeenlinna, Finland
16th July 2019

Metallica, it’s been a while… The last time I was at a Metallica show was back in 2007 when I still lived in The U.K. They were and, in many ways, still are one of my favourite bands. I have always hoped that some day I will get to see them live again and this year I finally got that opportunity. This was one of the main events that I was looking forward to. This time the venue was Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto (Kantola Event Park) near the city centre of Hämeenlinna. I do not normally travel to Hämeenlinna and this was my very first time at the venue so I planned my trip well in advance.

Everything went as planned. The one thing that I cannot predict too well however is the weather. It was sunny when I arrived, then there was some heavy rain and thunder just I approached to the entrance. Luckily it did not last long and it had mostly cleared up by the time Bokassa took to the stage. I’m not really into stoner-punk but I have to admit that they were entertaining to watch. It was far more energetic than your average stoner rock, so not a bad start to the night. 3/5

I never really understood the hype surrounding the Swedish hard rock band Ghost. I keep hearing their songs on the radio and seeing their videos on Youtube. Yet I find it hard to fathom why they are so well regarded. I mean if you ignore the elaborate outfits and the imagery, the music itself is good but nothing ground-breaking. This was the first time that I have seen them live and I actually liked the performance. Their singer, Cardinal Copia, as he now calls himself, has a very charismatic stage presence. 4/5

Then it was time for the main event. The Metallica show was absolutely spectacular. They played most of the classic hits including: ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘One’, For Whom The Bell Tolls’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’, ‘Seek and Destroy’. The set also featured some songs from the mid-career period and several from the latest release ‘Hardwired to Self-Destruct’. There was pyrotechnics, lots of visual displays and even fireworks at the end. One of my favourite moments was the Rob and Kirk guitar medley when the performed a cover a Finnish rock classic – Popeda’s ‘Kuuma Kesä’. I could have done without ‘Frantic’ from the dreaded ‘St. Anger’ album and perhaps played more songs from ‘Death Magnetic’ instead, but that is the only extremely minor fault with what was otherwise a flawless performance. 6/5

Overall, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to see Metallica live again. Twelve years is a very long time to wait but it was totally worth it. The show was an experience that I will cherish for many years to come.

Iza Raittila

Lumous Gothic Festival 2019

Posted in Festival, Instrumental, Live, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 14th July 2019 by izaforestspirit

Golden Apes, Danse Society, Das Ich
Pakkahuone and Dog’s Home, Tampere, Finland
12-13th July 2019

Summer is here again. One of my summer traditions since 2012 has been to attend the Lumous Gothic Festival. This year was no exception. The only minor change was that of the main venue. Throughout the time that I have been going there it the main acts have always performed place at Klubi. However Klubi is currently being renovated so the event was moved to Pakkahuone, a much larger venue located in the same building. I have seen several metal shows there before but this was a first for Lumous Gothic Festival.

Friday
This was the main day for me as most of the bands which I wanted to see were playing then. I was mostly looking forward to Das Ich and I had limited knowledge of the other bands.

First up was a Spanish darkwave band called My Own Burial. These guys are really into old horror movies and the performance had lots of eerie visions. The music was catchy and fun to dance to. They reminded me a little of Los Carniceros del Norte minus the punk elements. So a good start to the night. 3.5/5

Then it was time for a German Goth rock band Golden Apes. I’m not a massive fan of Goth rock but I have to admit that the vocals were pretty good. Their singer’s vocal style sounded like a cross between Elvis and Jyrki from The 69 Eyes. 3.5/5

Finally it was time for the main band that I came to see. I discovered Das Ich at the same festival four years ago and it was great to see them live again. I loved the stage actics and the music was fantastic. They played some new material plus some classic hits including ’Destillat’, ’Gott ist tot’, Das dunkel Land’ and my personal favourite ’Reaminat’. 5/5

Saturday

Day Two of the festival started a little earlier since I decided to catch some of the bands playing on the second stage located at a different venue called Dog’s Home. Dog’s Home is essentially a pub or bar near the train station. Unlike Pakkahuone which is primarily an event venue, Dog’s Home is mostly used as a bar but it also doubles as a small gig venue. The stage is pretty small and rather low down.

The Swedish occult dark electro solo artist Blood Magick was on first. The project was originally known as My Own Sorrow and the lyrical themes are centered around horror and the occult. Sadly the venue didn’t do the performance justice. That place really isn’t ideal for an electronic show. For instance, the stage is tiny and there is limted space for props and no means to project any visual imagery. Still, Blood Magick did his best with the limited resources. He managed to convey the creepy atmosphere through which was good. 3.5/5

Next up was a Finnish goth rock band called Murnau’s Playhouse. These guys drew in a bigger crowd and they put on an entertaing show. 3.5/5

Then it was time to move to Pakkahuone for the remainder of the night. The main band that caught my attention, my new discovery was the Russian Gothic rock duo Raven Said. The clue is in the name, Raven Said… I guess that ”Quoth the Raven” might have been a bit too obvious. Oh yes, this band is all about Gothic horror and the works of Edgar Allan Poe. They even have a song called ’Lenore”. The visuals worked a treat too. I will definitely have to give their music a listen. 4/5

Sadly I was unable to stick around for the main headliners, Inertia. So the last band I saw was a British Goth rock band called The Danse Society. More Goth rock… There is not a lot that I can say about their performance. It was fairly good as far as Goth rock goes, I’m just not a massive fan of the genre. Also with a name like The Danse Society, I expected something a bit more dance-inspired. 3.5/5

In summary I had a great time at Lumous Gothic Festival. Das Ich were excellent and I made a new discovery in Raven Said. Blood Magick’s performance would have worked better at a different venue. Kiitos Lumous Gothic Festival! See you next year!

Iza Raittila

Thunderfuck and the Deadly Romantics – Dirty, Sleazy, Rock ‘n’ Roll

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , on 6th July 2019 by mickbirchy

Thunderfuck and the Deadly Romantics
Dirty, Sleazy Rock ‘n’ Roll
Sleaze Rock, Hard Rock
Released: 26th July 2019
via Cargo Records

OK, I was not expecting what I actually heard on this album. Then again, I really didn’t fully understand what I was getting this one. I mean, what would you expect from a band called Thunderfuck and the Deadly Romantics? The band comes from Ontario, Canada and have spent quite a lot of time here in the UK. Everything that I’ve heard about them so far is relatively positive, with a great hype building behind them, consistent gigs and good feedback. It really feels like a band that has taken their time and grown on their own accord rather than forcing a quick fix to success. After taking a listen to this album, I have definitely thought about it and the first impressions were mixed to positive. However, now I have had some time to let this one settle, let’s talk about this one.

The album sounds decent from the get-go, great rock tone with well-produced instrumentation all the way through. The balance of the instrumentation is great with all of the instruments coming through clear. Then you get the vocals and, well I’m not a fan. Don’t get me wrong, if you like this style of singing then that’s awesome but if you’re like me, then it’s truly going to grate on you quite quickly. He’s not out of tune but the vocals are incredibly coarse and it doesn’t really fit in with the slick instrumentation. For me, it ruins the sound of the songs. Now, this is just me, I realise that there are people that like the way the rough vocals contracts with the slick and well-executed music. 

Most of the lyrics are about your typical rock ‘n’ roll topics such as sex, drugs, drinking and working-class life. Which is fine, I mean I don’t expect much from sleaze rock, in terms of lyrical content. Usually, sleaze rock mainly focuses on light-hearted, easy to grasp subjects that audiences can immediately identify. However, when one of your songs literally starts with a woman moaning in orgasm, I think you’re going to have a good sense of what album you’re getting into.

Overall, this is not a bad album. I can’t say I personally like the vocals but I can certainly understand the appeal. The rock is great and there are some damn catchy and fun tunes to listen to. If you’re looking for a band that delivers rough and dirty sounding rock music, then Thunderfuck and the Deadly Romantics are something to behold.

2.5/5

Mick Birchall

Darkthrone – Old Star

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 5th July 2019 by izaforestspirit

Darkthrone
Old Star
Released 31st May 2019
Black Metal/Blackened Heavy Metal/Doom Metal
Released via Peaceville Records
Darkthrone - Old Star

My favorite Norwegian black metal duo are back with a new album. It is hard to keep track of all their releases. The one thing that I have always admired about them is that they do not follow any specific trend unlike many other bands in the extreme metal scene. Like where other black metal bands aim to shock, pile on more corpse-paint and act all grim and satanic; Darkthrone just do what they have always done. They play the style that suits them and they do not do live shows. If they release a music video, it might be a cartoon or just clips of Nocturno Culto or Fenriz hanging around in the woods or jamming the studio. Oh and they haven’t worn corpse-paint since the mid-1990s.

I enjoyed their previous studio effort ‘Arctic Thunder’, so I have high hopes for this one. These guys are no strangers when it comes to experimenting with other music genres. Even though Darkthrone are best known for the early black metal works, if you re-visit their discography you will find everything ranging from death metal, black metal to Motörhead-style heavy metal, speed metal to crust punk. Their latest piece of work bears some similarity to its predecessor ‘Arctic Thunder’, only this time there are some doom metal parts added to the mix.

Take the Alp Man for instance. It’s probably my least favorite track on here and one of the slower ones. It is a little too doom metal -inspired for my liking. While I have no problem with the odd droning guitar riff and slow drumming, this one just doesn’t seem to get going at all. It might have worked for bands like Tiamat or even Entombed in the past, it’s a little too slow for Darkthrone. Luckily the rest of the songs are much more to my liking. Overall, my favourite song is the opener I Muffle Your Inner Choir. I really like Nocturno Culto’s rocking guitar riffs on Duke of Gloat. The drum work on it is pretty good too. Then there is The Hardship of The Scots with its unique blend of doom metal, heavy metal and black-thrash metal to illustrate the other end of the spectrum. It took a while to get going, and I particularly enjoyed the rhythm guitar passage towards the latter half of the song.

In summary, ‘Old Star’ is another solid album from the Norwegian black metal duo. It has its flaws but overall I am pleased to say that it was worth the wait. I’m not sure what to call this style… “Blackened heavy, death metal with hints of doom metal…” To hell with genre categorization! It’s Darkthrone, doing what they do best. Rock on!

4/5

Iza Raittila

Moonlight Haze – De Rerum Natura

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 28th June 2019 by mickbirchy

Moonlight Haze
De Rerum Natura
Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
Released 21st June 2019
via Scarlet Records

It really is funny, if you follow the scene enough you start to see familiar names here there and everywhere. To the point that it will lead you to more music. This is very much my relationship with the Symphonic and Power metal scene in Europe. It’s a scene where everyone knows everyone, or at least it feels that way. Which is what lead me to Moonlight Haze.  I’ve been a fan of the singer Chiara Tricarico for a while, I first heard her singing in the band Temperance. I just find her vocals really enjoyable and pleasant to listen to and I’m a fan of pretty much any project she lends her name to, so when I heard she was starting a new band with Giulio Capone and includes members (and ex-members) of Temperance, Elvenking, Sound Storm, Teodasia and Overtures. You could probably have won a bet, that I would have taken the time to listen to it at some point. 

From my first listen I immediately gravitated to their music. Tonnes of energy, great production with charm and passion, De Rerum Natura makes a great first impression for fans of power metal who like that little more grandiose tone to the sound. The album wastes no time with engaging and commanding rhythm and tight sounding production that keeps you listening, track after track. The band sounds awesome, with great sounding instrumentation which is mixed really well. The guitars and drums, in particular, hit hard and the bass keeps the rhythm nice and tight and the keyboards set a really nice atmosphere that elevates the music to another level. As great power metal usually does. 

As for the vocal performance from Chiara, well, it’s excellent. As usual, she displays such excellent technique and it makes the lyrics just shine with personality. With this excellent vocal performance, it really brings the entire thing together really nicely. I love the mix of style on the record to with powerful and heavy rhythms and slick, well-executed guitar solos, all packaged in a great power metal experience. I quite like some of the more jazzy and groovy parts between the main parts of the songs, that little bit of intricacy really adds to the enjoyment of listening to this album.

I love the way the overall sound feels to listen to. It has this excellent energy and it’s entertaining from start to finish with lots of replay value. I will admit that I have been playing this album a lot since it’s release and plan one listening to it a whole lot more. If you like your power metal blended well with other musical styling, that also packs that little extra punch, then definitely give De Rerum Natura a listen.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Gravefields – Embrace The Void

Posted in Metal with tags , , on 23rd June 2019 by izaforestspirit

Gravefields
Embrace The Void
Released 7th June 2019
Death Metal/Blackened Death Metal
Released via Redefining Darkness Records

Gravefields - Embrace the Void

Embrace The Void’ is the debut album from death metal duo Gravefields. The band was originally known as Dirtyprotest and they have been around since 2006. They released one album under that name two years ago before re-emerging again as Gravefields. Throughout this time there hasn’t been any changes to the line-up. Gravefields comprises Irish multi-instrumentalist Alan Hurley and French vocalist known as DM.

It took me a few listens to fully get into this album and it turned out to be far more complex than I expected. I thought this was going to be your standard Death, Morbid Angel, Dismember (insert old-school death metal band name here)_____ -style death metal but that’s not the case. In addition to the pummeling drums, bulldozing blast-beat guitar riffs and growls, there is also some elements of black metal. The record is a mixture of the two styles. For example Sulphur Injection is a vicious piece of fast-paced death metal packed with aggressive blast-beats and ferocious growls. So far, so very typical death metal…

Then halfway through the album, things change. You get to Mind Leech and the black metal parts start to creep their way in. For a brief period, the growling becomes shouting and the guitars slow down a little, adapting a more medium pace with the occasional melodic guitar part. It actually reminded me of old Marduk at times. These guys never really slow down but songs like this one add some variety to their sound. Void also caught my attention due to the multi-faceted guitar structures and variation in pace, combining the best parts of both black and death metal.

In summary, ‘Embrace The Void’ is a well executed blackened death metal opus which ought to please fans of both genres. There is a lot more to this than just nine tracks of solid, fast blast-beats and growling, which is refreshing to hear.

3.5/5

Iza Raittila