Archive for the Rock Category

Gorilla Riot – Peach

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 14th February 2020 by mickbirchy

Gorilla Riot

Peach

Southern Rock, Groove Rock

Released 31st January 2020

via Off Yer Rocka Recordings

I have been following this band for a while now. If you are from Manchester then you should know who these guys are. Gorilla Riot are the premier southern rock band of the northwest. They have been tearing up the underground rock scene in the UK for a while playing some of the biggest festivals and headlining venues around the country. I have been interested in their music for a while and was intrigued to get this album. Peach is the first full-length album from the band. I have to say I am pretty pleased with the outcome and if you have never heard of these guys before, then this is the time to get into their music.

The album is filled with all sorts of riff-rock goodness including tight grooves and a real old-school feel. They have the groovy rhythms of the ’70s infused with the style, flair and production of modern hard rock. If you’re into the likes of Sturgill Simpson or Steve Earle then this is something right up your alley. There’s that real down ‘n’ dirty hard rock with burning passion and soul.  The production just feels massive with a lot of depth to the music. You can really feel the impact of the three guitars in the band with sharp and concise riffs, blistering solos and co-ordinated harmonies. The bass adds this massive bottom to the songs and the drum work packs a punch as it forms the framework of each song.

Saying all of that, I could definitely understand how this kind of music is not everyone’s cup of tea. The twangy blues rhythm is really slow-paced and when listening to the album all the way through. It never really feels like it picks up with every song hitting the same groove, or at least it feels like it. It could have done with an acoustic country-style ballad or a high octane super-charged track. Just something to break up the album and give it some more flavour. It’s not that any of the songs are bad, I just think it needed some other style of rock to give the band some more character and to show they can be more versatile.

I quite liked this album. I think it does more than enough to entertain. It’s not going to be to everyone’s liking and that’s fine. I think the band knows their audience and they’re not out to please everybody. They’ll keep right on trucking and I think that’s fair. They’re a really fun band to watch live and their music pretty much speaks for itself. It’s a solid album and definitely worth a listen.

7/10

Mick Birchall

Hollywood Undead – New Empire, Vol. 1

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , on 12th February 2020 by Pieni

Hollywood Undead
“New Empire, Vol. 1”
Rap Rock
Released: 14th February 2020
Via BMG / Dove & Grenade Media

HUNewEmpireVol1cover

Whether one likes Hollywood Undead or not, their ability to combine all kinds of musical traits can’t be ignored. So when many people said – Johnny 3 Tears himself included – that “New Empire, Vol. 1” would be heavier than ever, and then “Already Dead” was out, with all such Linkin Park-vibe, I was momentarily afraid they’d changed their focus to an “alternative metal” direction and forgot everything else that’s always made them somewhat unique. Well, they didn’t.

“Time Bomb” was the second single and proof of this heightened nature, laced with a fiery party-mood. Also “Empire” was released beforehand, built on enthralling drums and strong bass lines, revealing how intact is the band’s diversity.

“Heart Of A Champion” falls more or less in the same description as “Empire”, but is a tad more intense, more seductive – a mandatory sing-along chorus if played live. “Killin It” is way too hip hop for my personal taste, but while the metalhead in me will skip this track, the music writer must acknowledge its edgy composition, as well as the aforementioned mix of traits I’ve always admired in this band. The final track “Nightmare” is also a hip hop tune, but the soft piano keys and bitter chorus make it more alluring to my ears – and surely a grand finale for most fans.

And while “Enemy” goes blasting pretty much through and through, “Upside Down” gets the prize for the catchiest melody in this record. It features Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, even though I believe Danny would’ve covered that perfectly (sorry Quinn!). And “Second Chances” is the most beautiful – in that somber kind of way – piece. At some point, a sharp breakdown highlights such somberness.

Yes, “New Empire, Vol. 1” is heavier, but it’s unmistakably Hollywood Undead. I don’t like labels, but the rap-rock one they go by still fits – it’s just that the rap got darker and the rock got thicker.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Game Zero – WAR – We Are Right

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , on 4th February 2020 by izaforestspirit

Game Zero
W.A.R. – We Are Right
Released 28th February 2020
Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Released via Art Gates Records
GAME ZERO - W.A.R. - We Are Right

’W.A.R. – We Are Right’ is the second album from the Italian hard rock band Game Zero. The group was founded in 2013 by vocalist Mark Right and guitarist Alexincubus (ex- Theatres des Vampires). Their debut album ‘Rise’ came out in 2015. Since then they have had some successful tours, supporting bands such as Sabaton, Amorphis and Equilibrium.

First up is the title track, an energetic rock anthem packed with powerful vocals and lively-sounding, uplifting guitar riffs. So far so good… One thing that I’m not so keen on here are the stop-start, nu-metal-styled guitar parts. In certain songs such as Goodbye they seem to disrupt the flow of the music. The same track also features an acoustic guitar part towards the end, which also seems a little out of place. Luckily the chorus is good enough for the listener to forget about the chaotic structure. Is it just me or does anyone else think that Mark Right sounds a bit like Dave Mustaine from Megadeth on here? I mean that as a compliment.

I wasn’t expecting a Simple Minds cover but I have to admit that Game Zero’s take on Don’t You Forget About Me works pretty well. I also liked the groove guitar style guitar work on You Choke Me, one of the heavier, more metal-sounding tracks on here. I was quite surprised by the changes in pace on the closing song Full of Nothing. After an aggressive start, they really mellow things down midway through the track, only to pick up the pace later on.

Overall, ‘W.A.R. -We Are Right’ takes a few listens to get into. Even after a few listens, I have mixed feelings about it. There are a few catchy hard rock songs on here but the overall structure seems a little disjointed at times. It’s almost like they had a bit too many ideas and tried to squeeze them all into one album.

6/10

Iza Raittila

Battering Ram – Battering Ram

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , on 26th January 2020 by mickbirchy

Battering Ram
Battering Ram
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Released: 24 January 2020
 Self Released

It’s always fun when a band immediately catches your attention. The Swedish rockers, Battering Ram have been building some momentum since 2017 and now are ready to strike with their debut self-titled album. The band consists of Johan Hallström on vocals, Jonas Edmark on guitar, Tony Trust on drums and Jocke Ståhl on bass. I have been really enjoying listening to this album, it gives me vibes of early 90’s hard rock or early 2000’s riff-rock. I think their sound is heavy enough to get the purist-headbangers listening but broad sounding enough that they could reach a much larger audience of casual rock listeners.

The tight delivery and commanding energy hits hard with well crafted and memorable riffs. Jonas on vocals gives a great performance and sings with passion as the instruments really support him. The electrifying guitar solos and the great rhythm work are a simple joy to listen to. They’re not reinventing the wheel, a lot of what their doing is pretty standard fare for hard rock. Yet, their music just gets you pumped in the right way with booming bass and drums, well-performed melodies and well-executed harmonies. The best thing about their music is its simplicity. Standard song-writing structures, a focus on big hooks and keeping the whole record feeling well-paced. It kept my attention all the way through and never had any real down moments.

There isn’t much more to really say about this record. It’s good and I think that Battering Ram would make a great addition to any gig or festival lineup. These are songs that will get a crowd moving and singing. Songs like “Chase The Fire”, “Stronger Forever” and “Scared For My Life” are definite hits in my eyes. Their focus on tight musicianship and a bold sound suit them well. They are able to craft some big sounds with great writing. They have a great sense of groove and rhythm that makes then very enjoyable to listen to. It’s the kind of band you see on a Friday night with a beer in hand and headbang all the way through their set. Great album and I look forward to more from them.

8/10

Mick Birchall

Apocalyptica – Cell-0

Posted in CD, Instrumental, Metal, Rock with tags , , on 22nd January 2020 by izaforestspirit

Apocalytica
Cell-0
Released 10th January 2020
Neoclassical Metal/Symphonic Heavy Metal/Instrumental
Released via Silver Lining Music
Apocalyptica - Cell-0

Apocalyptica don’t need much of an introduction. There are very few bands who have achieved what these guys have – bridging the gap between classical music and heavy metal with their unique mixture of the two styles. I’ve been following their career from the very start, the humble beginnings when the quartet played cello covers of Metallica classics. There has been some line-up changes, a few collaborations with guest rock and metal vocalists… But the real surprise came in 2015 when an American singer called Franky Perez joined the ranks for the album ‘Shadowmaker’. In many ways the ‘Shadowmaker’, however good it might be, seems like the odd one out in Apocalyptica’s discography – like an experiment that worked though it may never be repeated. With the exception of a handful of successful collaborations with guest singers, the band’s best work is predominantly instrumental. This brings me to their latest effort- ‘Cell-0’, an instrumental album with the old line-up sans Franky Perez.

And we’re off to a good start with Ashes of The Modern World, delivering everything that I was hoping hear from the Finnish quartet. It’s a beautiful song with lots of variety in terms of style and pace. It starts off slow with a sombre sounding melody, then picks up the pace half way through the track. As soon as the drums kick in the music takes on a more aggressive, “heavy metal” sound, with the cellos crushing through at full speed. Then they mellow things down again towards the end. I also really liked Fire & Ice. True to its title, it comprises two contrasting styles: the melodic part with mostly cellos and a keyboard at the forefront and the more aggressive part with faster paced cello and drums. So the latter was the fire I guess… Then it’s back to the “icy” sombre cello work at the end. The title track also deserves a mention being the longest and the most complex song on the album. Again, there are lots of changes in pace, mixing the melodic classical cello sounds with a touch of metal. The chorus is easily one of my favorite parts of the whole album.

I’m not going to discuss all the songs in detail but generally speaking I am pleased that Apocalyptica chose to go back to basics with this album. They are sticking to what they do best. No need for singers or guest appearances. It encompasses all the aspects that make this band special. There is not a single track on here that I do not like. Some, such as the title track require a bit of patience to fully appreciate.

Overall, I really like this album. Unlike ‘Shadowmaker’, which took me a few listens to get into, ‘Cell-0’ immediately drew me in and kept me interested throughout. It’s the best album Apocalyptica has made in years.

9/10

Iza Raittila

 

Mick’s Gig Highlights of 2019

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Gig, Live, Metal, Misc., Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , on 5th January 2020 by mickbirchy

2019 was a great year for going to gigs and an even better one for seeing band I never thought I would have the opportunity to see. Great discoveries and fun bands that I wouldn’t have had the chance to see if I didn’t take a risk and just get to the shows. So I thought to round off the year and to relive some memories. This is not a complete list of everything I went to see, just some really great highlights.

February

Godsmack w/ Like A Storm @ The Ritz, Manchester

Starting of 2019 was a real dream come true. I finally got to see a metal band that I have long admired. It had been over 14 years since the last time, Godsmack had actually toured in the UK. So with the release of their latest album, When Legends Rise they finally made the time to get out to the UK. I got my ticket and got to this show. Yeah, it blew me away. Opening the show was another band that I had always wanted to see, Like A Storm. So overall, this looked like it was going to a gig that was handcrafted for me.  Both bands freaking nailed their set! As for me, finally getting to see Godsmack live in concert, was such a treat. Getting to hear some of my favourite songs like, “Voodoo”, “I Stand Alone”, “Awake”, “Cryin’ Like A Bitch” was great and it’s so nice to report that Godsmack is an incredible live band. I had heard mixed things for so long about their live sets but on the night, the band, the crowd and the atmosphere was truly excellent.

March

Skarlett Riot w/ Sister Shotgun and Fahran @ The Flapper Birmingham

What a birthday treat. Getting to see one of my favourite bands with some excellent support acts to boot. It was my first time checking out Sister Shotgun and I have to say that I was really impressed, their mix of glam rock and heavy metal reached me and I ended up picking up their albums after the show. Fahran is always a treat when they play live and by this point, in the night the crowd was building up a little so there was a little bit of an atmosphere. Then you Skarlett Riot… Well, there’s a reason they’re one of my favourite bands. They really bring their A-game to every show. They’re one of those bands that love being on stage and entertaining the fans. With every song, the crowd was singing along with the band and at times the crowd was louder. They continue to be one of my favourite bands and with the announcement that they will be getting around making some new music, you know I’ll be front and centre whenever they return to the stage.

 

 

May

Mutant Monster w/ The Innocent Bystanders and The Papashangos @ Jimmy’s, Manchester

This is the result of deciding to go to a gig at the last minute. I heard about this gig on a Monday, bought the ticket on a Wednesday, went to the show on Friday and wrote and uploaded the review on Saturday. This was a crazy experience. Before going to the show I didn’t know any of the bands playing and yet, when I got to the show, I felt right at home in the crowd. The drinks were flowing, the music was loud and the atmosphere felt just right. The opening bands were enough to get the energy flowing in the venue, with the rough sounds of The Innocent Bystanders was a great welcome for punk fans. The Papashangos injected the venue with a lot of life and energy. Then you have Mutant Monster, oh what to say about them? They were excellent. The Japanese punk-rock trio lifted the spirits of the Manchester crowd and got them moving and shouting. They were truly something else, playing right through an hour and forty-five minute set with little to no breaks or even slowing down. I was impressed by the mere stamina of them. Trust me, you’ll want to see all three of these bands if you get the chance.

 

June

Muse w/ Tom Morello and Pale Waves @ Etihad Stadium, Manchester

So this was the centre-piece of the year. Also the most expensive show of the year, with a £75 price tag. Let me say this right now, it was definitely worth it. This wasn’t just a concert, it was a spectacle. Opening up the show was Manchester-based rockers, Pale Waves. Who were decent though I feel their set was dampened by the rain. That being one of the pitfalls of playing an open-top stadium. However, the night dried up and Rage Against The Machine legend Tom Morello took the stage by storm. His guitar skill is something to be envied. Also, he brought a charity group on stage to sing the anthem “Killing In The Name”. Then you have, Muse, another band that I have always wanted to see, so finally getting to see this show was an amazing experience. They are just such an enigmatic act to watch. Their stage show in itself was amazing with a giant catwalk going to the middle of the crowd, backing musicians and a giant cyborg mutant creature. The set was a great mix of new and old material with the main part of the set dedicated to the latest album Simulation Theory. It was one night that I will never forget.

 

November

Anneke Van Giersbergen @ Effenaar, Eindhoven

I bought the tickets for this show as soon as it was announced and I made an entire holiday around this concert. For the longest of time Anneke Van Giersbergen has been one of my favourite singers, songwriters and performers. So, flying to the Netherlands for her 25th Anniversary show was a pleasure. Getting to see the great city of Eindhoven was a really nice part of my holiday and then there’s this show. The show was broken down into four parts. The classical part, where Anneke performed with a string orchestra and Within Temptation singer Sharon den Adel came on to play “Somewhere”. That honestly brought a tear to my eye. Then the rock part with Agua de Annique and playing some of her songs from her solo career and The Gathering. Next was the acoustic segment with Danny Cavanagh from Anathema, a beautiful moment of the set. Then ending on the metal set with Vuur. The variety of the show and Anneke’s genuine and soulful performance made this a night for the ages.

 

December

Tantric w/ Scarcasm and Attic Theory @ Fac251, Manchester

Finally, the show that I had waited for pretty much all my life. My all-time favourite band finally toured the UK and I got to see them play! The openers Scarcasm and Attic Theory rocked the night and set the crowd up well. However, actually seeing Tantric was such an experience. I still can’t believe this happened. Getting to hear the classic hits like “Breakdown” and “Mourning” and mixed with a great set that represented their whole career, for me this was the ultimate experience. The only sad thing is that there wasn’t much of a crowd to speak of. Maybe playing on a Sunday at the start of December in Manchester wasn’t the best time to get people out to a venue. So that was kinda bad, but I didn’t care and I don’t think the band did either. They were just happy to be playing to new people in a different country and I was happy for them. This was their first time in the UK and hopefully not their last!

Mick Birchall

Iza’s highlights of 2019

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Instrumental, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2019 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. 2019 was a eventful year for alternative music. There was a lot of new material that caught my attention which made selecting a top 10 much more difficult than last year. After much deliberation I have narrowed it down to the following albums:

1. Eluveitie – Antegnatos
Genre: Folk Metal
Eluveitie - Ategnatos
2. Children of Bodom – Hexed
Genre: Melodic Death Metal/ Power Metal
Children of Bodom - Hexed

3. The 69 Eyes – West End
Genre: Goth n’Roll/ Gothic Rock
The 69 Eyes - West End

4. Mgła – Age of Excuse
Genre: Black Metal
Mgła - Age of Excuse
5. Combichrist – One Fire
Genre: Industrial Metal/Electro-Industrial
Combichrist - One Fire - CD

6. Hocico – Artificial Extiction
Genre: Electro- Industrial/ Aggrotech
Hocico - Artificial Extinction - CD

7. Blutengel – Un:Gott
Genre: Synth-pop/Darkwave

8. Darkthrone – Old Star
Genre: Black Metal/Blackened Heavy Metal/Doom Metal
Darkthrone - Old Star

9. Sabaton – The Great War
Genre: Power Metal
Sabaton - The Great War
10. Ad Inferna – Des Diables et Des Dieux
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

Honorable mentions:
Aurelio Voltaire – She’s Glowing
Taken from the album What Are The Oddz?

God Module – Cross My Heart
Taken from the album The Unsound

Scandroid – The Writing’s On The Wall
Taken from the album The Light

The long-awaited new Rammstein album also came out this year. Sadly, despite a having handful of great songs including ‘Deutschland’, it was a little disappointing. I expected more from them after a decade of waiting.

Best live show of 2019
Metallica live in Hämeenlinna

Runners up, honorable mentions go to: Behemoth live in Tampere and Blutengel live at Hellsinki Industrial.

New discoveries for 2019
Raven Said, Priest and Cygnosic

Most anticipated releases for 2020
a new albums from Helloween and Vader
Mono Inc- The Book of Fire
Celldweller – Satellites

That’s all from me. Happy New Year Everyone!

Iza Raittila