Archive for the Editorial/Opinionated Category

Pieni’s highlights of 2017

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1st January 2018 by Pieni

2017 was quite the roller-coaster, hence my somewhat absence. But that doesn’t mean I’ve paid less attention. My live highlights this past year were:


  1. W.A.S.P. at O2 Forum Kentish Town (London)
  2. Infraktor at Metalpoint (Porto)
  3. Equaleft at Hard Club (Porto)
  4. Ugly Kid Joe at AgitÁgueda (Águeda)
  5. Hills Have Eyes at River Stone (Penafiel)

In terms of records I might have been a bit careless, but these titles are awesome nevertheless:


  1. “Heartless Oppressor” by Primal Attack
  2. “1755” by Moonspell
  3. “Infinite Shadows Of Memories” by The End Of Grace
  4. “Hegemony” by Samael
  5. “Medusa” by Paradise Lost

Top-5 videos:

  1. “In Tremor Dei” by Moonspell
  2. “Never Quit” by Hills Have Eyes
  3. “Like Orpheus” by Orphaned Land
  4. “Blood And Chaos” by Paradise Lost
  5. “Black Flag” by Iced Earth

And expectations/anticipations for 2018:


  1. The release of “Exhaust”, Infraktor‘s debut album!
  2. After the single “Never Quit” blowing my mind away, can’t wait to see what Hills Have Eyes will deliver next.
  3. The release of “Dropout”, Breaking Today’s debut EP, and how it will turn out live (pretty dynamic, I’m sure).
  4. Crashdïet have a new singer, Gabriel Keyes, and judging by the first single featuring him, “We Are The Legion”, I foresee a bright future for the Swedes.
  5. Just a few days ago, in what I’ve considered one of their best live shows ever, Equaleft played two new songs, two powerful new songs. Hoping to listen to the rest of this upcoming second full-length album in 2018.

Happy New Year folks!

Renata “Pieni” Lino


Iza’s Highlights of 2017 part 2: Industrial & other non-metal

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Industrial, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 30th December 2017 by izaforestspirit

This year saw the return of some of my favorite industrial artists. I also made some new discoveries and I checked out some genres that I would have never thought that I would listen to. So here are my top 10 industrial and other non-metal albums of 2017:

1. Suicide Commando – Forest of the Impaled
Genre: Aggrotech/Harsh Industrial/Harsh EBM


2. Grendel – Age of the Disposable Body
Genre: Aggrotech/Harsh Industrial

Grendel - Age of the Disposable Body - 2CD


3. Blutengel – Leitbild
Genre: Synth-pop/Gothic EBM


4. Aurelio Voltaire – Heart-Shaped Wound
Genre: Dark Cabaret/Goth/Alternative Rock


5. The Crüxshadows – Astromythology
Genre: Dark Wave/EBM



6. Scandroid – Monochrome
Genre: Synth-wave


7. Centhron – Allvater
Genre: Aggrotech/Harsh Industrial

Image result for centhron allvater

8. Blue Stahli – Anti-Sleep Vol.4
Genre: Electro-rock/ Funk-rock/instrumental

Image result


9. Cephalgy – Gott Maschine Vaterland
Genre: EBM

Cephalgy - Gott Maschine Vaterland - CD


10. iVardensphere – Hesitation
Genre: Power noise/Tribal Industrial

One album that didn’t make my top 10 was Celldweller’s ‘Offworld’; a good effort but no match for his earlier work. I prefer his heavier, more metal-oriented albums.

Best Live Show
Nachtmahr live at Lumous Gothic Festival

Biggest New Discovery
Aurelio Voltaire

Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

New albums from God Module and FGFC820.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Iza’s Highlights of 2017 part 1: Metal

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , on 29th December 2017 by izaforestspirit

2017 is almost over which means that it’s now time for my annual “Best of” or “Highlights” as I prefer to call them. This year’s edition will be in two parts – metal and industrial. So without further ado here are my top ten metal releases of 2017:

1. Kreator – Gods of Violence
Genre: Thrash Metal



2. Cradle of Filth – Cryptorina: The Seductiveness of Decay
Genre: Extreme Gothic Metal


3. Lacrimosa – Testimonium
Genre: Gothic Rock/Symphonic Metal

Image result for lacrimosa testimonium

4. Lord of the Lost – Swan Songs II
Genre: Dark Rock/Gothic Rock/Classical

Image result for lord of the lost swan songs ii cover

5. Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal

Ex Deo - The Immortal Wars

6. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black
Genre: Death Metal

7. Mono Inc.- Together Till The End
Genre: Dark Rock/Gothic Metal

Together Till The End

8. Doyle – As We Die
Genre: Heavy Metal

Doyle - As We Die

9. Barathrum – Fanatiko
Genre: Black Metal/Doom Metal

Barathrum - Fanatiko

10. Eisbrecher – Sturmfahrt
Genre: Industrial Metal

EISBRECHER - Sturmfahrt


Marilyn Manson’s ‘Heaven Upside Down’ didn’t make my top ten list but it’s still a good album which I would recommend. I haven’t been to too many gigs this year but out of the metal shows I’ve attended my favorite would have to be Destruction live in Tampere.

Biggest New Discovery: Mono Inc.

Most anticipated albums of 2018

New albums by Powerwolf, Devilment and hopefully Behemoth.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the industrial/other non metal edition coming soon.

Edguy – Monuments (A 25 Year Tribute to Edguy)

Posted in CD, Editorial/Opinionated, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 9th July 2017 by mickbirchy
Power Metal, Hard Rock, Progressive
Released: 14 July 2017
via Nuclear Blast

It’s been 25 years of Edguy. Yes, this band has been going as long as I’ve been alive on this earth. So, I thought that I would pay homage to one of the greatest metal bands that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. What better way to do that than going through the newest release from them. Monuments is a carefully and passionately selected collection of the band’s greatest hits from the last 25 years. Not only that, but the release has five brand new songs from the band. Along with one previously unreleased recording. Mounting up to a staggering 28 track album that will be more than enough to indulge even the biggest fan of the band.

I first discovered Edguy back in 2008 with the album Tinnitus Sanctus. I bought it after reading about them in a Magazine calling this album “the strongest of their career yet”. At this time, the metal press was buzzing around them. I listened to the album and something stirred inside of me. I instantly wanted to hear more from them. So in very quick succession I looked their history in music. I was completely blown away and I think this was the start of my obsession with power metal. As listening to them got me into fellow contemporaries: Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica and Hammerfall. I know I was a little behind but believe I’m caught up now with them all. Yet, there was something different about Edguy and it was all in frontman, Tobias Sammet’s vocals. He sang with such power and conviction still to this day his voice gives me goosebumps. If anyone ever asks me what a metal or rock vocalist should sound like I just turn and point to Tobias. Everyone has their own favourites that they immediately associate with the genre. He’s mine.

Yet, I don’t want to do a disservice to the band that back him up. Edguy has some incredible talent in there. Unlike a lot of bands that go this long; Edguy have had a pretty consistent line up having the same lineup from 1998 onwards. Giving them a fantastic consistency. This is reflected across all their albums. Jens Ludwig and Dirk Saur have been their from the very beginning on guitars. Always producing fantastic riffs and melodies that compliment the tone of whatever album. They were going in to. Be it the more power metal centric albums or the winding twisting more progressive sound. No matter how flamboyant or heavy the song. Ludwig and Saur really deliver in getting music stuck in your head. As for the rhythm section Tobias Exxel on bass and Felix Bohnke on drums has always given Eduy that weight and power to their tunes. There’s just such a commanding presence to their music. When Edguy plays, you listen.

Monuments, includes 5 brand new songs from the band. You’d think that they may get lost amongst all of the classic songs. They sort of do, I don’t necessarily see that as a band thing. I just see it as these songs just feel as good as their iconic work. Which can only be a good thing. All five of the songs are big triumphant anthems and their played with just as much conviction as the big hits. With massive sounding production and the tight musicianship that we’ve come to expect from Edguy by now. Is it any wonder that they sound this good! They fit so nicely on this package of their hits. They feels like songs that have always been here. I guess that’s the real strength of Edguy. Making songs that fit so well into the collective consciousness, making tunes that just sound right.

As for the unreleased song “Reborn In The Waste”. Recorded back in 1995, as part of the Savage Poetry recordings. Savage Poetry being one of their demo albums in the early 90’s. I can understand why it wasn’t included. I don’t think it’s wholly representative of the band’s skill or style. In all honesty I think it’s a pretty lackluster tune. It’s got a nice hook to it and I think if they remade the song today it might be better but I don’t know. I guess I like it just for the fact it’s another piece of Edguy nostalgia more than anything else.

In all honesty. This has been a fun one to look at. Just looking back through Edguy’s back catalogue and remembering the great tunes from yesteryear. They are certainly a band that has stood the test of time with 10 albums under their belts and some of the most enthusiastic fans I’ve ever met. Going through this greatest hits compilation has really made me appreciate how good this band really is. From the heavy hard rock tunes, to their soaring ballads they make some of the finest metal music around. They may not be on the same level as the all time greats of the genre, but they always hold a special place in my music library. I will always think back to the time I first heard them roar into gear with “Ministry of Saints”. If you have never given them a chance do yourself a favour grab Monuments and get acquainted with one of the best metal bands in the world. At least according to this reviewer. Yeah, this might read as a bit of a fluff piece or it could read as a little self-indulgent. I really don’t care. I just wanted to look back on one of my favourites to celebrate 25 years of this band.


Mick Birchall

Iza’s Highlights of 2016 (Part 2: Metal)

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Metal, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2016 by izaforestspirit

Time for the second part of my highlights of 2016, the metal edition. This part was much harder to write than the first because it took me a long time to chose my top ten metal of albums and even longer to decide on the winner. So here are my top ten favourite metal releases of 2016:

1. Vader – The Empire
Genre: Death Metal

This year, Vader strikes back with ‘The Empire’… Let’s face it, they were kind of asking for comments like this with that kind of an album title. Star Wars jokes aside, this is a really good piece of work. If you’re looking for some new death metal to check out, I would strongly recommend this album. Unlike their previous work, the masterpiece that was ‘Tibi et Igni’, ‘The Empire’ shows a back to basics approach. No complex structures or atmospheric intros, just good, old-school thrashy death metal. Best tracks: ‘Iron Reign’, ‘No Gravity’ and ‘Army-Geddon’.

2. Rob Zombie – The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser
Genre: Hard Rock/Industrial Metal

This year’s runner up deserves an award for coming up with the one of the longest album titles in years. I tend to refer to it simply as ‘The Electric Warlock’… Whilst still no match for his first two albums, ‘The Electric Warlock’ is Rob Zombie’s best work in years. Favourite tracks ‘The Hideous Exhibitions of a Dedicated Gore Whore’, ‘In the Age of the Consecrated Vampire We All Get High’ and the ultra cheesy but super catchy ‘The Life and Times of a Teenage Rock God’.

3. Devilment – II- The Mephisto Waltzes
Symphonic Gothic Metal/ Groove Metal

For those of you who read my highlights of 2015, you might remember my comments on the latest Cradle of Filth album. This year their vocalist Dani Filth has been busy working on the second album for his other band Devilment. ‘II- The Mephisto Waltzes’ is a delightful opus which happily mixes a variety of metal genres including Gothic, symphonic and groove metal. There’s even a touch of humour in the lyrics and several references to horror movies, modern horror literature and art – most notably Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King. Best tracks are ‘Hitchcock Blonde’, ‘Dea Della Morte’ and ‘Full, Dark No Stars’.

4. Mortiis – The Great Deceiver
Genre: Industrial Metal

Ever since the Norwegian musician Mortiis started his own band in the mid ’90s, there has been some debate as to what category their music fits into. The older works are very much dark ambient, followed by the synth-pop period of ‘Smell of Rain, turning into the latest era of industrial rock. Their latest effort, the ultra creepy -sounding ‘The Great Deceiver’ is undoubtedly their heaviest and most complex album to date which is why I chose to include it in my metal top 10. Best tracks: ‘Doppelganger’, ‘Demons are Back’ and ‘Shining Lamp of God’.

5. Moonsorrow – Jumalten aika
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

Moonsorrow caught my attention after I saw them live at Tampere Metal Meeting Festival in the summer. I like some of their older material and after hearing some of the new songs live I decided to check out their newest album ‘Jumalten aika’. This is one of those releases where there are no real outstanding tracks, but rather the whole album is worth listening to in full. It’s one of the best pieces of pagan black metal that I’ve heard in a long while.

6. The Vision Bleak – The Unknown
Genre: Gothic Horror Metal

German Gothic horror metal duo The Vision Bleak are back with a new album. ‘The Unknown’ struck me as being somewhat “Lovecraftian”, both in the visual concept of the cover art and the the lyrical themes. Musically it is in every bit that you can expect from a Vision Bleak album; eerie Gothic horror metal with some doom influences added creating the soundtrack to your worst nightmare. Best tracks ‘The Kindred of The Sunset’ and ‘Into the Unknown’.

7. Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct
Genre: Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal

Just in case anyone is wondering why the new Metallica is so low down on this list, the truth is that I expected it to be better than it turned out to be. After all, it’s been eight years since their last studio album. Needless to say that the expectations were high. I wasn’t expecting this to be another ‘Master of Puppets’ or ‘Ride the Lightning’ but I was hoping for something along the lines of ‘Death Magnetic’ which I really enjoyed. Luckily ‘Hardwired…To Self-Destruct’ isn’t as bad as ‘St. Anger’ but it’s hardly a masterpiece. To be honest I think that it would be have been better off as an EP with just four or five tracks instead of the 12 songs and 13 music videos. I definitely like the first disc more than the second one and my favourites include: ‘Moth To The Flame’, ‘Dream No More’ and ‘Spit Out The Bone’.

8. Sabaton – The Last Stand
Genre: Power Metal

Sabaton are one of the very few power metal bands that I like. I’ve always enjoyed their live shows and I’m very fond of the concept album ‘Carolus Rex’. As with all Sabaton albums, their latest piece of work doesn’t disappoint as far as the historical themes go. This one tells the stories of eleven defensive “last stand” battles. Each song focuses on a different battle from various historical events ranging from ancient Greece, medieval Scotland, the two World Wars to Japan at the time of the samurais. That sounds awesome in principal, if only the actual music was that good. Sadly it isn’t. It’s ok but not great and most of the time Sabaton are just recycling old ideas, changing the themes but making similar music. The only tracks that I liked are: ‘Shiroyama’, ‘The Last Battalion’ and ‘Blood at Bannockburn’.

9. DevilDriver
Trust No One
Genre: Groove Metal

DevilDriver - Trust No One

The only real groove metal entry on this list, ‘Trust No One’ is DevilDriver’s best work in years. It is an aggressive beast of guitar-driven groove metal made all the more powerful thanks to Dez Fafara’s vicious growls. Best tracks: ‘Trust No One’ and ‘Daybreak’.

10. Theatres des Vampires – Candyland
Genre: Gothic Metal

It’s been a while since the Italian Gothic metal band Theatres des Vampires have released anything new. I’ve been a fan of their music for many years and so I was keen to get my hands on a copy of their latest piece of work. ‘Candyland’ is somewhat more metal-sounding than its predecessor ‘Moonlight Waltz’. There are notably less vampire themes on here compared to the previous album but other than that not much has changed. Sonya Scarlet is still the key figure in Theatres des Vampires. Whilst I still prefer their older works, back when Lord Vampyr was still a member of the band, I did enjoy this album. Best tracks ‘The Morgana Effect’ and ‘Resurrection Mary’.

Biggest New Discovery: Powerwolf
Best live show of 2016: Powerwolf live in Tampere
Most anticipated albums of 2017:
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
New albums from Cradle of Filth and (hopefully) Behemoth.

That’s all from me for now. Happy New Year!

Pieni’s highlights of 2016

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2016 by Pieni

This year it was really REALLY tough to choose just 5 shows (Sam Alone, The Mission and Heavenwood should also be there somewhere):

  1. Hills Have Eyes at Canecas Bar (Paços de Ferreira)
  2. Sonic Syndicate at Göta Källare (Stockholm)
  3. Moonspell at Pavilhão Multiusos (Guimarães)
  4. More Than A Thousand at Time Out Market (Lisboa)
  5. Testament at Coliseu (Porto)

The albums were easier:

  1. “Stand Up, Forward, March!” by Sister
  2. “Confessions” by Sonic Syndicate
  3. “Atoma” by Dark Tranquillity
  4. “When Patsy Cline Was Crazy…” by Ricky Warwick
  5. “Brotherhood Of The Snake” by Testament

My video top-5 is “lighter” than last year’s: two emotional, one a kind of tribute, and two funny as hell:

  1. “The Beat” by Satan Takes A Holiday
  2. “Make It Right” by Hills Have Eyes
  3. “I Apologize” by Five Finger Death Punch
  4. “The Great Disillusion” by Betraying The Martyrs
  5. “Call Me” by Pain

Anticipations/expectations for 2017:

  1. Infraktor – a “gourmet thrash metal” all-star project who I’m proud of being close to, hence keeping tabs on. Let’s see how others will receive them.
  2. Hills Have Eyes – saw some new pictures of the boys in the studio. Needless to say I’m thrilled.
  3. Equaleft – yep, something’s still brewing…
  4. Five Finger Death Punch – “Got Your Six” isn’t my favorite 5FDP album but it’s still good enough. Let’s see if what they’re up to now pleases me more.
  5. Guns N’ Roses – this is a live expectation. I’m having totally mixed feelings about this reunion. Not even sure if I’ll go to the Portugal show, so I’m also expectant on what my final decision will be…

Happy New Year peeps!

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Iza’s Highlights of 2016 (part 1: Industrial/EBM/darkwave)

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Industrial, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30th December 2016 by izaforestspirit

2016 is almost over which means that it’s now time for my annual “Best of” or “Highlights” as I prefer to call them. This year’s edition will be in two parts – industrial and metal. I’m still working on my list of top ten metal albums so I’ve decided to list the industrial ones first. So here are my favorite industrial/EBM and electro releases of 2016:

1. Lord of the Lost – Empyrean
Genre: Industrial Rock/Dark Rock

Lord of the Lost is a new discovery for me. I’ve been ignoring them for years, thinking that they were some sort of glam rock band. Then this year I had the pleasure of seeing them live when they supported Combichrist and I was totally blown away by their performance. I ended up buying all their albums. They sound like a mixture of HIM and Deathstars. ‘Empyrean’ is their heaviest and most complex album to date. Stand-out tracks: ‘Drag Me to Hell’ and ‘In Silence’

2. Heimataerde – Aerdenbrand
Genre: Medieval Industrial/Aggrotech

The German brotherhood of dark electro Templar knights are back with a new album. Fans of their work will know what to expect from this one; atmospheric dark electro with a medieval tinge. It’s a delightful mix of creepy and catchy Aggrotech with both ballads and dancefloor hits. Favourite tracks: ‘Fühl die Zeit (featuring Joachim Witt)’ and the kids’ nursery rhyme -inspired ‘Hick Hack Hackelbeil’.

3. Combichrist – This is Where Death Begins
Genre: Industrial Rock/Aggrotech

This album was not the easiest one to get into. Fans of Combichrist’s older songs will be shocked to discover just how guitar-driven this band has become. The previous album ‘We Love You’ was just a taster of what’s to come. The industrial and harsh electro elements are still present, but guitars are making inroads and they are here to stay. Combichrist is now an industrial rock band. As soon as you accept that you might actually start to enjoy this album. I did. Favourite songs: ‘Exit Eternity’, ‘My Life My Rules and ‘Skullcrusher’.

4. Memmaker – Let There Be Lasers
Genre – Power Noise/Rhythmic Noise

Eight years is a long time to wait for an album and that’s how long it’s been since Memmaker released their debut ‘How to Enlist a Robot Uprising’. Luckily the follow-up ‘Let The Be Lasers’ was worth the wait. The Canadian power noise band have essentially picked up from where they left off. So if you like power noise and songs about space travel and robots is your thing, then this is the album for you. Best tracks: ‘Doom Ray’, ‘Manipulate’ and ‘Race to Space (feat. Detroit Diesel)’.

5. Nachtmahr – Kampfbereit
Genre: Techno Industrial/Aggrotech

Nachtmahr are a bit controversial band within the industrial scene. Their music has always had a militaristic theme which has led to allegations of fascism. They sure like to harbour a fetish for women in uniform but I never quite got the fascist or misogynistic connections. I personally I like their music and I try not to think too much about their imagery. This year was the first time that I chose not to buy a physical copy of their new album. I have enough coffee-table books and these days I mostly listen to their music at the gym. So I bought the digital version instead. It’s great treadmill/cross trainer music. Best tracks: ‘Kampbereit’, ‘Tempus Fugit’ and ‘Burning Bridges’.

6. Scandroid – Scandroid
Genre: Synthwave

Scandroid is a side-project of the American musician Klayton (Celldweller, Circle of Dust). It was originally a two-man project featuring Klayton and Nick Pittsinger (Varien) who took on the identities of “Red” and “Raven” in the futuristic cyberpunk world of Neo-Tokyo, where the Scandroid story takes place. “Raven” left the project in 2014 which means Scandroid is now a solo project with “Red” as the main character. The music is a mixture of ’80s -style synth-pop/synthwave with a sci-fi tinge. The album tells a story so it’s difficult to pick out any specific individual tracks, but personally I’m very fond of ‘Aphelion’, ‘Empty Streets’ and ‘Neo-Tokyo’.

7. Terrolokaust – Dissensions
Genre: Industrial Rock/Aggrotech/Dark Electro

This year I finally got to see this Spanish harsh electro duo live at Resistanz Festival. That was a good show which served as my introduction to the band. They are similar to Combichrist in a sense as their style has changed from Aggrotech towards a more industrial rock sound. Their latest opus ‘Dissensions’ contains a mixture of both styles. There is something here for fans of either genre – whether it’s dance tracks like ‘Pursuit of Ruin’ or guitar driven industrial rock song such as ‘A Masochist’s Tale’.

Genre: Neue-Deutsche-Härte

I have to be honest here in that I have mixed feelings about this album and Ost+Front in general. They give the impression of being essentially a Rammstein-clone, adapting not only the music and vocal style but also the themes and the imagery of their world-famous countrymen. Despite this I decided to include their new album on this list because of a few tracks that stood out – the sombre and profound ballad ‘Sternenkinder’ and ‘Bruderherz’. ‘Fiesta de sexo’ also deserves a mention due to guest appearance of Erk Aicrag (Hocico).

9. My Own Sorrow – The Entity
Genre: Dark Electro/Occult Ambient

‘The Entity’ is the latest album from the Swedish dark electro artist My Own Sorrow. His music is primarily instrumental, atmospheric dark electro with strong themes of horror and occultism. All the songs have an eerie feel to them. It’s like listening soundtrack to a horror movie. Best tracks ‘Succubus’ and ‘Rats In The Walls’.

10. Blutzukker – The Ultimate Collection
Genre: Dark Electro

Blutzukker is the dark electro project of the German artist Ben Blutzukker. He is currently involved in two projects; a heavy metal band under the name of Ben Blutzukker, who released an EP last year and the aforementioned dark electro act Blutzukker. What we have here isn’t really a new release but rather a collection of all Blutzukker’s works including some rarities and unreleased demos. So if you like dark electro, horror themes with a touch of humour then I would strongly recommend this. Best tracks ‘Fright Club’, ‘Queen of the Nite’, ‘The Vampire Strikes Back’.

Biggest new discovery: Lord of the Lost
Best live show: it’s a tie between Combichrist live in Tampere and Memmaker at Club Infektio, Helsinki
Most Anticipated albums of 2016:
Marilyn Manson – Say10
Blutengel – Leitbild
New albums by Suicide Commando and Grendel

Stay tuned for the metal edition, coming soon!