Archive for the Review Category

Existance -Wolf Attack

Posted in Review with tags , on 9th January 2022 by izaforestspirit

Existance
Wolf Attack

Released 29th October 2021
Heavy Metal/Melodic Power Metal
Released via Black Viper Records

Existance - Wolf Attack

Wolf Attack’ is the new album from the French heavy metal band Existance. The group was formed back in 2008 and they have been the opening act for Adrian Vanderberg, Joe Lynn Turner and Skull Fist. This album was mastered by Jacob Hansen who has also worked with U.D.O, Primal Fear and Volbeat.

So what we have here is eleven tracks of very uplifting melodic power metal packed with playful guitar tunes. Highlight Vampire is particularly entertaining thanks to the high-pitched vocals and infectiously catchy guitar riffs. A great start to the album. I also enjoyed Rock n’Roll, another cheerful heavy metal track that is bound to put a smile on your face. The chorus is simple but fun to sing along to and the guitar work is just as lively.

Another track that caught my attention is Sniper Alley which has a varied pace and features some of the most catchy guitar work of the album. Then there’s You Gotta Rock It, a very enjoyable guitar-driven heavy metal song with strong AC/DC vibes.

In summary, I enjoyed listening to ‘Wolf Attack’. It’s a very well executed and highly entertaining album which I would happily recommend to fans of both melodic power metal and classic heavy metal.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Dargor – Descent Into Abyss

Posted in Review with tags , on 19th December 2021 by izaforestspirit

Dargor
Descent into Chaos
Released 6th May 2021
Atmospheric Black Metal
Self-Released

Dargor - Descent into Chaos

Then a lot of people hear the words “black metal” and “Poland”, the first band name that usually comes to mind is Behemoth. Even if their style has shifted away from their black metal roots to create a mixture of black metal and death metal; more commonly known as blackened death metal, they remain the country’s most recognizable and successful extreme metal band. But those who are more familiar with the Polish metal scene will know that there are other black metal bands worth checking out such as Mgła, Vesania or Batushka to name but a few. This brings me to ‘Descent into Chaos’ – the second EP from the Polish black metal band Dargor. The project was launched in 2018. Both their EPs are self-released and available from their Bandcamp page.

So, what we have here are five tracks of melodic atmospheric black metal. There’s a subtle balance between the eerie yet melodic guitar work and the coarse-sounding vocals. The opening track Abysses is a good example of this contrast. The guitars create a haunting atmosphere and the vocalist really does sound like a tortured soul crying out in pain. Another song that caught my attention is Decay which features more eerie and atmospheric guitar tones, ghastly vocals ending with a surprisingly melodic and soothing keyboard outro.

In summary, ‘Descent To Chaos’ is definitely one of the more memorable black metal releases I’ve heard this year. If Dargor continue along the same path they’ll have a bright future ahead of them.

7/10 Iza Raittila

Sorg – Haf Sem Ber Tímans Og Harmanna Farg

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 28th November 2021 by Mickelrath

Sorg
Haf Sem Ber Tímans Og Harmanna Farg
Dark Metal, Black Metal
Released 9th June 2021
Self Released

It’s always interesting looking under the hood of the metal world. Sometimes you dig up gold and sometimes you find something that’s very pure in potential. So let me introduce you to Sorg a one-man metal project from Iceland. Víðir “Mýrmann” Thrastarsonand is an Icelandic painter, musician, and philosopher who put this interesting album together.  Haf sem ber tímans og harmanna farg (roughly translated: A sea that carries time and hare disposal) takes on themes of alchemy, romanticism, folklore, philosophy, and history. I have to say I was engaged and impressed all at the same time. The fact that this was all produced by one person astounds me and it clearly took a powerful vision and great persistence to make. 

Sonically the album is dark and brooding with Víðir’s vocals brewing in the background. The album chugs along at the same pace throughout. The guitar roars to life on all of the tracks and there is just such a heavy presence of bass. The drums are a bit faded in the background and I would have liked them to be a little more present in the mix to give the album a bit more impact. The whole album feels a little one-note. However, Sorg just hits that note as hard as possible. The album is really heavy, so yeah this is not for the average consumer of music. There are no hooks or earworms to be found here. But the dark poetry in this album really hit hard once the iffy production aside.

This is something that you have to be in the mood for. It’s a small project that’s been made outside of the mainstream publishing system. So it doesn’t have that clean sheen of a major label release. It’s definitely difficult to listen to because of that lack of quality production. Also, the songs seem to be missing that big punch of a good hook. However, I still feel the writing that is there is interesting enough. Like I said there’s pure potential here and I hope Sorg continues to improve. 

7/10

Mick Birchall

Theatres des Vampires – In Nomine Sanguinis

Posted in Review with tags , on 25th November 2021 by izaforestspirit

Theatres des Vampires
In Nomine Sanguinis
Released 19th November 2021
Gothic Metal
Released via Scarlet Records

Theatres des Vampires - In Nomine Sanguinis

With the notable exception of Lord of the Lost’s ‘Judas’ and the upcoming Lacrimosa album, not too many Gothic metal releases caught my attention this year. Then I discovered that Theatres Des Vampires are back with a new album so I decided to check it out. They’re a band I’ve been following for some time, but I tend to prefer their earlier stuff back when they had Lord Vampyr as their main vocalist. Since he left and Sonya Scarlet became their main singer, their albums have been hit and miss for me. I liked ‘Pleasure and Pain’ and ‘Moonlight Waltz’ but the last one they released in 2016 failed to impress me. So I’m hoping that ‘In Nomine Sanguinis’ will be better.

After a few listens I can safely say that this is a marked improvement when compared to their previous album ‘Candyland’. In many ways it reminds me of the mid-career albums, particularly ‘Moonlight Waltz’. The vampire themes are back and Sonya Scarlet’s haunting vocals have regained their mojo. The album offers a good balance of atmospheric keyboards, melodic vocals and more guitar-driven songs such as The Bride of Corinth. I really liked that eerie and atmospheric keyboard intro on that one. Other memorable tracks include ‘Christina’ thanks to its catchy melodic chorus that really makes me feel like dancing along. My personal favorite is Lady Bathory. Here the vocals take on a harsher, more eerie tone, the guitars are more prominent while the keyboards are more subtle, creeping into the background. The chorus is great too.

Overall, there’s a lot to like here if you’re into Gothic metal. While it doesn’t offer anything dramatically new , as far as Theatres des Vampires albums go this is one is definitely one of the better ones. Good to see that Scarlet and her vampire coven are back in blood.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Hypocrisy – Worship

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 21st November 2021 by Pieni

Hypocrisy
“Worship”
Death metal
Release: 26th November 2021
Via Nuclear Blast Records
worship

I was sure “End Of Disclosure” had been released in 2013 but when doing the math… I had to double-check on Google, as it seemed surreal that it took eight years for Hypocrisy to come up with something new. So the inevitable question is: was it worth the wait?

Peter Tägtgren’s growls have always had a screeching pitch underlining them, but this time he generally goes for a graver, thicker tone, and that alone gives the whole thing a more somber vibe. I understand you may think it compromises his trademark vocals, but in the end you’ll agree it simply suits with those songs. And mind that I’ve said “generally” – if you’ve checked the three videos that were released in the past couple of months, you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I say “graver and thicker” by listening to “Chemical Whore” or “Dead World”; but then in the brilliant “Children Of The Gray” (oh, how intense this one is! Made me feel exactly how I’ve felt as a teenager, when listening to “Roswell 47” for the first time!), this tone comes on only in the chorus, while Tägtgren hits the rest of the song with his dear ol’ voice. The title-track, which opens the record with a beautiful acoustic intro before merging into an electric version of it and then exploding into the fastest and most shredding song here, has also glimpses of that higher pitch – not to mention straightforward terrorizing screams in the beginning. And still regarding the singing parts, being a sucker for choirs and gang vocals, backing up a handful of choruses with these gave the album a richer and more mature sound.

Musically, well, it’s Hypocrisy. They don’t write exactly the most top-notch riffs or the most elaborate solos and beat patterns, but the way they combine them has always been the key to their creativity and popularity – and it still is. Along with “Worship” and “Dead World”, “Another Day” brings you the most aggressive side of death metal, just as “Brotherhood Of The Serpent”, “Greedy Bastards” or “Gods Of The Underground” remind you that toning down the tempo can be just as fierce. And while “They Will Arrive” bears a triumphant stride, “We’re The Walking Dead” will make you feel like you’re walking on a death row…

So I guess by now you already know my answer: oh yes, it was worth it!

8,5

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Duindwaler – Landloper

Posted in Review with tags on 2nd November 2021 by izaforestspirit

Duindwaler
Landloper
10th March 2021
Raw Black Metal

Duindwaler - Landloper

‘Landloper’ is the debut EP from the Dutch black metal artist Daan Bleumink (Hellevaerder, Throne of Time, Whore of the Underworld). The project was launched earlier this year.

So, what we have here are four tracks of raw and extremely bleak-sounding black metal. The vocals resemble monstrous howling and guitars are very rough and harsh. Each song has the same violent and nihilistic feel to it. It reminded me a little of Ildjarn but this is even more crude-sounding. The track that caught my attention was Ontwaakte vlam. It’s easily the most memorable song on the EP with a varied pace and long instrumental guitar parts.

In summary, I like black metal but raw black metal isn’t really my thing. As far as the genre goes ‘Landloper’ is a decent EP which I would recommend to fans of the genre.

6/10

Cradle of Filth – Existence Is Futile

Posted in Review with tags , , on 22nd October 2021 by izaforestspirit

Cradle of Filth
Existence is Futile
Released 22nd October 2021
Symphonic Black Metal/ Extreme Gothic Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

Cradle of Filth - Existence Is Futile

The leaves have fallen, the nights are getting colder and autumn is now truly upon us. As we approach the Halloween season it seems like the perfect time to check out the latest album from the world renowned British extreme metal band Cradle of Filth. This delightfully eerie-looking opus is entitled ‘Existence is Futile’ and it’s the first album to feature the band’s new keyboard player Anabelle Iranti (also of Devilment). I’ve been a fan of their music since my early teens, so I’ve been really looking forward to this.

Now let’s just take a moment to adore the marvelously nihilistic cover art and Dani Filth’s song titles of lyrical poetry. You can’t really get more Gothic horror than a title like ‘How Many Tears To Nurture A Rose’. Music-wise this album feels like a continuation of ‘Midian’ with dose of ‘Nymphetamine’ mixed in. Crawling King Chaos first caught my attention due to infectiously catchy chorus, impressive riffs and symphonic keyboards. That chorus has been stuck in my head ever since I saw the music video. The aforementioned How Many Tears To Nurture A Rose is packed with thrash metal -style guitar riffs, well placed ethereal backing vocals and Dani Filth’s screams sound as creepy as ever.

The global warming -themed Suffer Our Dominion really reminded me of ‘Midian’, partially due to Doug Bradley’s spoken word intro. In a way it feels like a continuation of where they left off with ‘Her Ghost In The Fog’. It has the same atmosphere with the eerie keyboards creeping in the background paired with Anabelle Iranti’s angelic vocals which provide the ideal contrast to Dani Filth’s abrasive shrieks. The Hellraiser actor then returns to lend his voice for one of the bonus tracks Sisters of the Mist which concludes the trilogy that began with ‘Her Ghost In The Fog’. The spooky keyboards are an absolute treat. I adored Dani Filth’s haunting whispers midway through the track. A true masterpiece of Gothic horror.

In summary, despite of the bleak concept behind it, ‘Existence Is Futile’ is a surprisingly entertaining album to tune into. As far as symphonic black metal goes it ticks all the right boxes. The songs get better with each listen. It’s impressive that even after this many years and several line-up changes Cradle of Filth are still able to create a strong record that’s worth going back to.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Spirit of Rebellion – Time for Global Refusal

Posted in Review with tags on 14th October 2021 by izaforestspirit
Spirit of Rebellion 
Time For Global Refusal
Released 28th July 2020
Death Metal
Released via PRC Music

‘Time For Global Refusal’ is the new album from the Quebec-based Canadian death metal outfit Spirit of Rebellion. They have been active since 2001.

As far as the genre goes, Spirit of Rebellion falls into the brutal and mid-paced variety with the occasional thrash metal riff thrown in. Most of the time it sounds like old school death metal and at times it reminded me of Cannibal Corpse. Having listened to the album a few times, I had some serious trouble telling the songs apart. A lot of them sound very similar. There are no real moments which would allow the listener to have a breather and relax for a while. It’s pretty much a full barrage of relentless drumming, ferocious guitar shredding and guttural growls from the moment that you hit the play button.

Collateral Damages caught my attention due to the thrash metal -style guitar work. The song itself is still very much in the old school death metal category with more brutal growls and more merciless drumming. Apart that none of the other songs really stood out.

Overall, ‘Time For Global Refusal’ is a decent old school death metal album. Sadly for me it doesn’t really offer anything dramatically new or exciting. If I wanted to listen to something similar I would probably listen to some Cannibal Corpse instead.

6/10

Iza Raittila

Ministry – Moral Hygiene

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 1st October 2021 by Mickelrath

Ministry
Moral Hygiene
Industrial, Nu-Metal
Released: 1st October 2021
via Nuclear Blast

Ok, this album is pretty intense. They have never been the sort to hide away from their views and thoughts on the world. On this album they really go for the jugular and hit home. Their unique blend of eletronica and metal is present and their industrial sound is very stylish and works well here. Ministry is one of those bands that I could never truly get into fully. They make music that is slightly out there music and it can be quite difficult to get into at times. I guess I just have to be in the mood for it. However, this new record Moral Hygiene is an interesting listening experience… in 2021. It really does feel that the band should’ve released this in Donald Trump’s presidency. As some of the lyrics are questionable.

As always with Al Jourgensen and his merry band of industrial insanity, the music is pretty heavy. Both in lyrical theme and in production. The production itself reminds me of all of the good things in the industrial genre. Heavy toned chords, electronica and heavy percussion that hits hard. The music is really abrasive and confronts you directly. It’s a Ministry album, to say the least. I really like how the album flows together from one song to another. Like the intro “Alert Level” goes straight into “Good Trouble”, which makes the album more bingeable, and allows the listener to go through repeat listens without too much stop, start. You can tell that Ministry has a clear influence in EDM as they integrate EDM into heavy metal quite well and pretty seamlessly. 

Lyrically, you can tell that the band wanted to put this album out during the Trump administration as quite a few lyrics seem to be directed to him and the support for the republican. It ultimately still works. Though it’s still jarring in 2021 after Trump is no longer in power. The same can be said for the previous album AmeriKKKant. It’s not bad but it makes the album pretty dated. Unlike other political rock albums they don’t really make much of an effort to make the songs timeless. An example of political albums that stood the test of time would be The Clash’s London Calling

Overall, not a bad album. Again, I’m not much of a fan of Ministry but this was a bit more listenable than a lot of their work that I’ve been exposed to. It’s a good album and for Ministry fans, it’s more to add to the back catalogue. 

6/10

Mick Birchall

Eyes – Perfect Vision 20/20

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 24th September 2021 by Pieni

Eyes
“Perfect Vision 20/20”
Melodic rock/Rock FM
Released: 4th June 2021
Via GMR Music

perfectvision2020

Remember Starship? Or the first three Bon Jovi albums? Or any other band/record with that catchy harder-than-pop-but-not-really-hard-rock eighties sound? There you go!

The tenacity of the bass in “Playing To Win” gives the song the attitude its title preaches, and that’s probably why it’s the opening track; still I think the bundle of mysterious keyboards and wailing guitars of “Turn Of Your Life” would make a bigger impact as an intro.

While the grace of the mandatory ballad, “This Is Us”, feels like a tribute to Whitesnake, the sharp gait of “Falling In Between (The Joker)” is for Eyes what “Addicted To That Rush” was for Mr. Big. Please mind that I’m mentioning all these other bands just as a reference, in order to give you context – I’m not even sure if they’re among Eyes’ influences. Yes, there’s a familiar note throughout this record but it comes from the aforementioned eighties/early nineties vibe, not from some kind of Xerox of someone else’s music.

The perky rhythm of “Never Back Down” or “Shot Down In Flames”, or the upbeat groove of “More Than Meets The Eye” and “Cry Another Day”, those are the kind of formulas used so many times before, and yet worthy of being used some more. Not exactly perfect as the title claims (although, given the band’s name, it was a brilliant choice), but good enough to be recommended to all melodic rockers out there.

7/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Iron Maiden – Senjutsu

Posted in Featured, Review with tags , , , , , , , on 7th September 2021 by Mickelrath

Iron Maiden

Senjutsu

Heavy Metal

Released: 3rd September 2021

via Parlophone

Like a lot of metalheads worldwide, my music taste was heavily shaped by Iron Maiden and the influence they’ve had on the metal world since. I feel safe in saying the majority of British metal bands were influenced by the iconic titans. Yet, like any other massive cultural media phenomena, the internet discourse seems to be rife with opinions about their output in recent years. I’ve met fans of the band that haven’t listened to them since Somewhere In Time, some stopped coming back to the band from Brave New World and others, like myself, have always stuck by the band and all their releases all the way to this latest release. Senjutsu is the seventeenth feature length album from Iron Maiden and, like all their releases of recent years, appears to have split the fanbase down the middle. Some proclaim this is a disappointing follow to 2015’s The Book Of Souls, some saying this is their best work in years and some dismissing the fact that they actually have put out a new album as they stopped coming back to Iron Maiden some time ago. So, what do I think?

I found Senjutsu to be a pretty pleasant listening experience. There’s that special quality to it that only Iron Maiden can seem to bring to an album. The lyrical themes that run through the course of the entire album. Music that complements the subject matter they’re singing about and guitar solos that still blow my mind in how they find complexity in simplicity. Obviously, the album is really well produced, at this point they have been through the album making process so much that you really can’t point to any glaring flaws. Also they brought Kevin Shirley back to produce, who has been working with them since Brave New World in 2000. So, obviously the album sounds amazing. Also, Steve Harris is behind all of the songs from a writing standpoint, and if anyone should know what Iron Maiden should sound like, Harris is really the guy. So for all things technical, this is, for lack of a better term, an Iron Maiden album. Yet, this album feels like such a different world from The Book of Souls, not bad, different.

To be honest, on first listening, not a lot feels that different. It feels like the grandiose music that they have been famous for so long. Yet, I couldn’t keep my enthusiasm going for the entire 80 or so minutes of the run time. Sure, there are a couple of standout songs. My personal favourites being “Days of Future Past”, “ Lost in a Lost World” and “Stratego”. However, I don’t think it comes together as an album that well. All of the songs run the same themes, concepts, and ideas, the songs are well written, but when put all together in an album the songs don’t feel like they naturally fall into place. That can really be blamed on the opening track, which is the title track “Senjutsu”. It’s a meandering plodding song that wears off it’s welcome pretty quick. Where I feel a song with a little bit more energy like the aforementioned “Stratego” would have worked better to hype you up for the rest of the album. And it keeps going like that for a little while. The whole album has some pacing issues and to listen to the album for the full run time, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself dropping off it a little.

Still, I feel the song quality is there. Put some of the harder hitters into a live set mixed with some of the other Maiden standards and I think they’ll work pretty darn well. The powerful command of “The Writing on the Wall” would sound a lot better following something like “Wasted Years” and I think that’s ultimately the way I’m choosing to look at this album. More songs that they can interweave into their set lists rather than an individual listening experience unto itself. Iron Maiden has been in my life since I was a little kid and listening to them will always transport me back to being a little kid excited to discover their music. I will probably always get excited to hear new music from them because they always deliver that one special new song into my life that no other band will ever bring and for that, I will always love them. As for Senjutsu… Well, I can’t say it’s my favourite, nor can I fully dismiss it. It shows that even seventeen albums in, music is always a work in progress and no one has the formula fully nailed. Not even a band as immortal as Iron Maiden.

7/10

Mick Birchall

Ex Deo – The Thirteen Years of Nero

Posted in Review with tags , on 4th September 2021 by izaforestspirit




Ex Deo
The Thirteen Years of Nero
Released 27th August 2021
Symphonic Death Metal
Released via Napalm Records

‘The Thirteen Years of Nero’ is the new album from the Canadian symphonic metal band Ex Deo. This is the first release to feature their new drummer Jeramie Kling. For those new to the band, Ex Deo is the side project of Kataklysm’s Maurizio Iacono and their main themes are ancient Roman history.

I’ve been listening to Ex Deo ever since their first album so when it comes to their releases, I pretty much know what to expect. Each of their albums offers a symphonic death metal soundtrack to a lesson in ancient Roman history. The last one was about the Punic wars, this one is about the Emperor Nero.

Personally I think that the opening track The Fall of Claudius would have been better off without the movie sample at the start. The song itself is decent once it gets going but I was really tempted to fast forward the speech. Luckily the next track Imperator is much better. Iacono’s harsh growls and the abrasive guitar work offer a sharp contrast to the symphonic parts. Speaking of the orchestrations, as with the previous album, they were performed by Clemens Wijers, better known as Ardek from the Dutch symphonic metal band Carach Angren. I’m a fan of both bands so this is an absolute joy to hear.

Another track which got my attention was Boudicca- Queen of the Iceni feat. Brittney Slayes. The horns in the intro really sound like the start of a battle. The song is fairly melodic due to the guitar work and the orchestrations. Regarding the vocals, the duet between Maurizio Iacono and Brittney Slayes works surprisingly well, creating a balance between the harsh and melodic with some angry growls and shouts to contrast the symphonic orchestrations.

The Fiddle & The Fire deserves a mention. It’s the most melodic track on the album and the intro sounds like a start of a folk song. Yet despite the seemingly pleasant sounding intro, the song has a very eerie atmosphere and the orchestrations give it a certain melancholic feel. It’s easily one of the more memorable tracks on here.

In summary, it took me a few listens to fully appreciate ‘The Thirteen Years of Nero’. Thankfully my patience was rewarded. I discovered that it’s an enjoyable symphonic death metal album with skillfully executed orchestrations. I would recommend it to fans of Septicflesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse.

7/10

Iza Raittila

The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic II

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 29th August 2021 by Pieni

The Night Flight Orchestra
“Aeromantic II”
Rock
Release: 3rd September 2021
Via Nuclear Blast Records

Aeromantic II

I’m not sure if an “Aeromantic II” was in order when the first one came out, but it seems like the latter’s follow-up wasn’t supposed to be released so early: forced to cancel the “Aeromantic” tour due to the pandemic, all The Night Flight Orchestra could do, as a band, was write new music and record it. And voilá!

“Paying tribute to an influential decade”, revivalising the kind of music they grew up listening to… call it whatever you want, but the truth is that TNFO’s popularity simply lies on extraordinary artists who create stellar songs. They’re certainly not the only ones with this eighties vibe going on – as long as there are people enjoying a certain genre or musical formula, whether its golden age is long past or not, said music will never be so-called dead – but they’re definitely one of those doing it better. The triumphant beat of “Violent Indigo”. That groovy bass line and keyboard solo in “Midnight Marvelous”. The upbeat “How Long” (one of my favorites), worthy of a “Flashdance” kind of soundtrack, followed by the even catchier rhythm of “Burn For Me” (oh, the video they filmed for this!). The seductive main riff of “Chardonnay Nights” and the almost hypnotizing drums of “Change”. The fiery “White Jeans” contrasting against the sweetness of “Moonlit Skies”. Yes, all twelve songs will make you travel back in time to a pretty colorful era, but it’s how they make such journey possible that it’s of essence here.

As Lilith’s RevengePaula told me the other day, TNFO is the kind of band you never thought needed in your life, but when they show up, they turn you into a happier creature”. Word!

9/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Sorceress of Sin – Constantine

Posted in Review with tags , on 21st August 2021 by izaforestspirit

Sorceress of Sin
Constantine
Released 6th August 2021
Melodic Power Metal
Self-Released

Sorceress of Sin - Constantine

It’s only been a year since Sorceress of Sin released their debut album. Now the British melodic power metal quintet are back with their second studio effort ‘Constantine’. I’m always a bit apprehensive when a band releases an album within a year of the previous one as there is a big risk that it might seem rushed.

One of the great things that you sometimes get with a good power metal album is that it has the ability to take the listen away on some fantasy adventure. And this is precisely what you get here with front-woman Lisa Skinner acting as the narrator to a series of tales about mystical lands and sorcerers. As a lover of fantasy stories I’m keen to tune in. And straight away the intro ‘Necropolis’ sweeps you away to a mystical city of the dead with what sounds a series of spells before the heavy metal enchantress Ms Skinner begins her tale.

The powerful vocals might be the main focus here but the guitar work is also impressive and uplifting. Another catchy track that caught my attention is ‘Realms of Elysium’ which really shows off the singer’s stunning vocal range. ‘Pathogenic Parasite’ is the first track that really made me pay more attention to drums which dominate the intro right before the soaring vocals take centre stage. It’s great to hear the other band members getting their chance to shine as the album progresses.

Overall I loved the fantasy themes and this has been an entertaining album. I am pleased to say that there were no tracks that I had to skip. So another win for Sorceress of Sin. Keep on rocking!

8/10

Iza Raittila

World Of Damage – Invoke Determination

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 15th August 2021 by Pieni

World Of Damage
“Invoke Determination”
Melodic Heavy Metal
Release: 11th June 2021
Via WOD Records

invoke determination

Every now and then, an artist comes up with a solo project and gathers a bunch of singers to participate in it; Chrome Division’s bassist Damage Karlsen thought it was about time to take his turn. And given the melodic heavy metal nature of the songs he’s releasing here – in contrast to the rawer approach of his other band – I believe he just wanted to make something else and not exactly play the frontman role.

I don’t know how the choosing process took place – buddies he wanted to work with, artists he admires? – but what you feel when listening to each song is that it was written to whoever’s singing it. A raspy tone and a strong growl to go along the cranking riffs of “I Will Not Conform”? Maurice Adams (Horizon Ablaze) and Shagrath will ace the trick. A delicate ballad in need of a powerful, emotional voice to sync up with the orchestral arrangements of “Breathe (Little Angel)”? Well, that spells out Roy Khan. A somewhat high, clean pitch for the anthemic catchiness of “Insanity”? Trust Athera (Susperia) to get the job done. Fiery and dynamic, to match the title-track? Who better than Björn Strid?

The heaviest, fastest track is “Unleash The Rage” and even though Shagrath would’ve been a nice option, the sharper pitch of Thebon does indeed sound better here.

I almost didn’t recognize Chrome Division’s Eddie Guz on the acoustic “Spoke Of The Wheel”, given the (heart)broken ring that I’m not used to. But Mr. Damage knows his bandmates, so he knew damn well what he was doing with this sad song of his.

I’m usually not a big fan of long instrumental tracks and I made a face when read “5:48” in front of “Black Moon (instrumental)”. Then I listened to it and surrendered to its beauty. I should’ve known, though. After all, the whole album was built on elaborate guitar foundations, all songs featuring rich solos, classy licks… The mandatory instrumental track on a guitarist project had to be a match to such great work.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Sepultura – SepulQuarta

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 7th August 2021 by Pieni

Sepultura
“SepulQuarta”
Thrash metal
Release: 13th August 2021
Via Nuclear Blast Records

Sepultura - Sepulquarta

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to a new reality regarding live music, with online streaming of concerts and such. Still I’m having trouble considering “SepulQuarta” a live album, whether its tracks have been part of podcasts or not – if the songs were recorded at each musician’s home, that’s about twenty studios… I consider this a compilation album, the treat being the guests instead of that one new exclusive track which will make the fans buy a best-of even if they already have the whole discography. And that’s the kind of thing that totally rocks my boat.

It’s not like Scott Ian made any significant tweaks in “Cut Throat” or David Ellefson added some extra bass line to “Territory”, for instance, but you must admit that just knowing they’re there, knowing you’re listening to “Sepultura feat. Anthrax” and “Sepultura feat. Megadeth (or former Megadeth…)” it’s something else.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of Danko Jones, but I understand why they wanted him for a “clean version” of “Sepulnation”: his voice makes a perfect combination with Derrick’s and the song gets a whole new life.

The doom-ish “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering”, which already featured Emmily Barreto on its original version, gets a second round here, but honestly, it sounds pretty much like in “Quadra”. A little rawer, maybe, but really just a little. In my opinion, in terms of female guests, it’s the screaming – and chanting towards the end – of Fernanda Lira, Angélica Burns and Mayara Puertas in “Hatred Aside” that’s pure gold.

Despite what I’ve said before about Ellefson and Scott Ian – which applies to others like TestamentAlex Skolnick or Death AngelRob Cavestany – there are a few instrument players who make a difference, not jut the singers. João Barone and Charles Gavin add an extraordinary tribal drum solo to “Ratamahatta”, while Rafael Bittencourt replaces the drums in “Kaiowas” with his classic guitar, making a beautiful version of the instrumental track (am I allowed to say “beautiful” and “Sepultura” in the same sentence?).

“Mask” was the first promotional video for this album because, well, Devin Townsend is Devin Townsend. But don’t you think it’s more epic to have the original guitarist of a song you’ve covered 30 years ago playing it with you? I believe that’s why “Orgasmatron feat. Phil Campbell” is the last song on the record – to give it that “grand finale” touch.

9/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Vader – De Profundis

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 30th July 2021 by izaforestspirit

Vader
De Profundis
Released 30th July 2021
Death Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

Vader - De Profundis

As a long time Vader fan I’ve been really looking forward to this for some time. For those who are less familiar with the band, I would like to explain that this is not a new album but a newly remastered version of Vader’s second record which was originally released by Croon Records back in 1995. The record label is no longer active and the album has been out of print for decades. This year the remastered version was finally released by Nuclear Blast Records in limited edition CD, vinyl and digital versions.

This is the record that defined Vader’s signature death-thrash metal sound. It features some of the classic songs including Sothis, Silent Empire and Reborn In Flames, all of which are crowd favorites at Vader shows. There’s not a single moment on here where the listener gets a chance to relax and unwind with a slow ballad. Each track is packed with ferocious guitar riffs, Peter’s brutal guttural growls and Doc’s relentless drumming. Ready or not you better buckle up and prepare yourself for a rough ride as this is full steam ahead right until the end!

Sothis and Reborn In Flames are my personal favorites. Both are great examples of classic Vader with their impeccable thrash-tinged death metal guitar work. It’s so good to finally be able to enjoy them on this record.

In summary, ‘De Profundis’ is an absolute joy to listen to. It’s classic Vader doing what they do best. It has taken decades to finally get a remastered version of this album out but for Vader fans like me it has been well worth the wait. If you’re a new listener, this album is a great introduction to the band. If fast-paced death metal with thrash metal guitar riffs is your thing, then don’t hesitate to grab a copy.

10/10

Iza Raittila

Darkthrone – Eternal Hails…..

Posted in Review with tags , , on 10th July 2021 by izaforestspirit

Darkthrone
Eternal Hails…..
Released 25th June 2021
Doom Metal/ Blackened Heavy Metal
Released via Peaceville Records

Darkthrone - Eternal Hails......

The Norwegian duo Gylve Fenris Nagell and Ted Arvid Skjellum, better known as Fenriz and Nocturno Culto, have been making heavy metal music as Darkthrone since 1987. I’m using the term heavy metal music deliberately as their style has changed a lot over the years. Though their first album was death metal, they are best known for the black metal albums released in the early 90s, some of which are regarded as the genre’s classics including ‘Under A Funeral Moon’. Since then they have experimented with a variety of genres including crust punk, thrash metal, hard rock and Motörhead-style heavy metal.

Personally I’m particularly fond of their black metal era. They are a band which I have continued to follow for many years. I can’t say that I enjoy all their works though, some of the more experimental albums are not to my liking. When it comes to Darkthrone, some things always remain the same. They have never followed any specific trends, they just play what they want and they never do live shows. So where do they stand in 2021 with ‘Eternal Hails…..”, let’s find out shall we?

The first two things that got my attention were the beautiful cover art and the song lengths. It is worth noting that there are only five tracks on here and the shortest one clocks in at just over seven minutes. The opener His Masters Voice has a varied structure starting off slow and atmospheric before the thrash metal style guitar riffs hit the spotlight later on. Then they mellow things down again at the end. It’s a decent start but nothing super memorable. Hate Cloak offers some old school Candlemass-esque doom metal with a bleak atmosphere and droning guitars. This might be great for those who love this style but I’ve never been a massive fan of the genre. While it may have the right atmosphere, over nine minutes of droning guitar riffs is a little too tedious for my liking.

Even when the pace picks up half way through the album, the only track that I actually enjoyed was Wake Of The Awakened. Not only does it feature slightly faster thrashing guitar work and less ponderous riffs but it is also the closest thing on here to their old black metal sound. Like most of the album, this one is very guitar-driven but it is more energetic than the others.

In summary, if you are a fan of doom metal then you will most likely enjoy ‘Eternal Hails…..’ In my case, I enjoyed ‘Wake of The Awakened’ and I like some of the thrash metal guitar parts in a few of the other tracks but on the whole the album is too cumbersome for me. I found the song structures difficult to grasp and it took some serious effort to stay focused.

6/10

Iza Raittila

Bridear – Bloody Bride

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Review with tags , , , , , on 21st June 2021 by Mickelrath

Bridear

Bloody Bride

Heavy Metal

Released: 7th May 2021

via Avex Trax

Hello Bridear! This album is a real treat to listen to. Every song is steller and sounds so damn good. First up though… Who is Bridear? Formed in Fukuoka, Japan in 2012, they are one of Japan’s premier heavy metal bands and now they are setting their sights on the global stage. After releasing the album in Japan on April 14th, they released it internationally on May 7th which is when I got a chance to listen to it. I was immediately blown away by this record. I’ve had a somewhat fascination with music from Japan for a long time. As part of the generation that was hit by the anime boom of the late 90’s, Japanese culture is always something I’ve loved and I, in particular, love the music that comes out of Japan. Bridear definitely feels more like a band that would feel at home in the European Power Metal scene. I got serious vibes of Dragonforce and Sonata Arctica while listening to this album.

The production is crystal clear on this record with every part of the production glistening. You truly feel the impact. The sound of the drums alone is so hard hitting, you really feel the impact of each drum kick and hit. The guitars glisten in the production and the riffs are so well performed. The music is instantly likeable and definitely accessible. If you’re into this sort of thing already then, then I would highly recommend giving them a chance. With sweeping melodies and excellent musicianship Bridear brings their A game to this record. Songs like “Daybreak” and the title track “Bloody Bride” are captivating with catchy hooks and insanely fun riffs that get stuck in your head. Then you have the vocal performance which is so stellar and sits right on top of the already impressive music. It’s power metal done right.

I have honestly been blown away by the presentation of this record. The women of Bridear are talented and clearly have a passion for their music. The sound is clean and clear. My favourite track from the album so far is “Ashes” with its slow build and then the song hits you with a straight up metal tune. It feels like a page ripped from the Iron Maiden guide to songwriting. This album just feels like the complete package. For me, this is one to check out this year and one I need to see live sooner rather than later…. When covid goes away and allows for live shows again!

9/10

Mick Birchall

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 12th June 2021 by Pieni

Fear Factory
“Aggression Continuum”
Industrial Metal
Release: 18th June 2021
Via Nuclear Blast Records

Fear Factory - Aggression Continuum

Sometimes reading the news sideways – or just the headlines, I admit – results in bittersweet surprises. Last autumn, almost at the same time, Dino Cazares announced the 10th Fear Factory album would be released the following year and then Burton C. Bell quit the band. So when Nuclear Blast sent us the “Aggression Continuum” promo for reviewing, I was eager to listen to the new chapter… only to find out that Bell still sings all tracks. My curiosity will have to wait – but the reason for the waiting was worthy.

Some bands have such a characteristic sound/nature that if they try and deviate a notch in order to stop repeating themselves, they risk losing the aforementioned character. The opening track, “Recode”, is brilliant in pushing the balance envelope: it’s definitely a Fear Factory song, taking you back to the “Demanufacture” era, but along the familiar riffing you have synthesized orchestral arrangements adding a classy refined touch. Still brutal as hell, but also refined. And Bell’s voice has a rougher edge here, enhancing the whole same-but-different vibe.

Of course that “Disruptor”, having these arrangements only in the chorus – and even there their presence is subtle – and being overall a much more aggressive song, was the one chosen to promote the album on YouTube. Yes, it’s probably the heaviest – and hence single-material – song, but so many others here offer a better notion of the industrial metal FF are about. The title-track, for instance, with its sci-fi ambiance, or the slamming “Cognitive Dissonance”, just to name a few.

Then there’s a certain groove in “Collapse” and catchiness in “Purity” that feels somewhat refreshing and yet is not exactly new in their writing process. And the guitar solo in “Monolith”? What a treat, but it’s probably the dark-ish ensemble of the song that made it my personal favorite.

So whatever the future holds for Fear Factory, I hope it’s similar to this.

8/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino