Archive for the Review Category

Goldray – Feel The Change

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 27th September 2020 by Pieni

Goldray
“Feel The Change”
Psychedelic Rock
Released: 31st July 2020
Via AKA Shic Records

goldrayfeelthechange

Goldray’s sophomore album may be called “Feel The Change” but that’s something that won’t happen when it comes to its nature and its quality. Leah Rasmussen’s mesmerizing voice will once again lead you into a dreamy dimension, under a top-notch psych rock soundtrack. There’s the groovy “Oz”, with all that rich guitar work Kenwyn House has gotten us used to and the kaleidoscopic effects that I like to call “laser gun shots” (seriously, they sound like those sci-fi eighties movies!). Then the straightforward emotion of the ballad which the album is named after. The hippie-vibe “The Forest”, and its sequel (literally: “The Forest – Part 2”) in a heavier approach, resembling something in-between Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The seduction of “How Do You Know”. “The Beat Inside” living up to its name – such an enthralling rhythm, coming from the artist’s heart and aiming at yours. The bluesy “Come On”. And then the ethereal “Phoenix Rising” wrapping it all up. Yes, I am aware I’ve used a lot of positive adjectives and remarks, but this is really an outstanding record within the genre. Is it perfect? Maybe, but I’ll leave that part for every listener to decide.

9/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos

Posted in Review with tags , on 25th September 2020 by izaforestspirit

Marilyn Manson
We Are Chaos
Released 11th September 2020
Alternative Rock
Released via Loma Vista

MARILYN MANSON | We are chaos - Nuclear Blast

So here we are in the autumn of 2020- a terrible year for many people and one that we all probably wish would be over soon. The pandemic is still causing havoc with our lives. While we do our best to cope with the new challenges sometimes the best remedy for stress and anxiety is a suitable distraction. I for one, have used this time to revisit some of the things that used to bring my joy when I was younger be it books, films and of course music. However bad 2020 has been, it has also witnessed the birth of some really good new music. This brings me to the latest album from Marilyn Manson, a band who’s career I have been following since my early teens. I was pretty much ready to give up on them after ‘Eat Me, Drink Me’. The two albums that followed were unmemorable and I had serious doubts whether Brian Warner was cable of writing decent songs . Then ‘The Pale Emperor’ came along and I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I liked it. Three years ago he repeated the success with ‘Heaven Upside Down’. Now this year he is back with ‘We Are Chaos’ featuring the country musician Shooter Jennings along with a variety of session musicians.

The CD version comes with a copy of a painting by Marilyn Manson, which suits of the overall sombre tone of the album. It’s a bit of a slow start with the opener Red Black And Blue. Personally I found the speech at the beginning a little off-putting and I was almost tempted to skip the song completely. It is good that I didn’t though, as song itself is decent but hardly one of the highlights of the album. Luckily the title track is much better. I cannot get enough of the chorus and the emotional yet haunting vocals. I already liked it when I first saw the video and even after a few listens it still hasn’t lost it’s appeal. Now that’s more like it. Half-Way & One Step Forward also got my attention thanks to the melancholic piano intro and the creepy vocals. I also really liked Don’t Chase The Dead, another great alternative rock track that captures the right balance of a haunting atmosphere and dancefloor-friendly melodies. There are many moments that reminded me of Marilyn Manson’s ‘Mechanical Animals’ era. In many ways the songs on here contain the same vibe as that album, which just happens to be one of my favorites.

In summary, ‘We Are Chaos’ is a surprisingly accessible album that gets better with every listen. Each song is packed with emotion and there is certain melancholic vibe present throughout. It sounds like the spiritual little brother of ‘Mechanical Animals’, the next phase of Marilyn Manson’s evolution as an artist and his best work in years.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Kataklysm – Unconquered

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 21st September 2020 by Pieni

 

Kataklysm
“Unconquered”
Melodic death metal
Release: 25th September 2020
Via Nuclear Blast Records

 

unconquered

Kataklysm’s studio discography has grown more or less every two years and, despite the pandemic, 2020 didn’t miss the mark. In fact, “Unconquered” was written based on the current struggles the world is facing and the band describes this album as “a rebirth of aggression”, as a response to said struggles. In all honesty, I don’t think this is THAT much more violent than before, but it’s pretty clear we’re listening to a more elaborate work, richer in features – both modern and old-school – that enhance the melodic part in their melodic death metal nature. Also Jean-François Dagenais gave 7-string guitars a shot, and that alone offers new textures.

“The Killshot” lives up to its title, such brutality embedded in that riffing and double bass drumming – and yet its musical pattern lingers in your ear. That’s probably why it was released as first single, but for similar reasons, so could have been “Defiant” – the latter somewhat fiercer and more straightforward.

It’s funny how Kataklysm consider “Cut Me Down” a “haunting and melodic” song (featuring WolfheartTuomas Saukkonen, by the way), when I think those words best describe “The Way Back Home” (one of my favorites). But it’s the doomsday vibe of “When It’s Over” that makes it the most ominous track (and therefore another favorite of mine).

I won’t say this is their best record so far, but I can assure you the Canadian quartet is right to feel proud of it.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

White Virgins–No Safe Word

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 21st September 2020 by Nico Davidson

White Virgins
No Safe Word
Released 2020
Sludge Metal
Self-Released

Hailing from Germany, White Virgins formed in 2019. No Safe Word is the band’s debut EP.

The EP opens up with Glitter Dick. Though the track’s name may sound like some dodgy porno, the track is anything but dodgy as it hits hard and heavy with an assault of riffs., and thundering bass lines. Leatherwhip comes in with a gritty, almost offensive sound, whilst Double Slut Experiment fails to entice the ears with its trying-hard-to-be-crunchy riffs. Snuff Rider features more prominent percussion work but the riffs feel and sound very mismatched, leaving the track with much to be desired. Pussy Melter is another track that sounds like a dodgy porn title but there is definitely nothing pornographic about the lacklustre riffs or unexpected tempo changes. The EP ends on I Want To Have Sex o Marilyn Manson, which has a total change of a pace from the rest of the release. The sound of this track is much darker than the rest of the EP, with a certain melody running through the guitars.

No Safe Word is a very hit and miss release, with some tracks feeling rushed and written last minute. White Virgins show potential but overall the EP feels very lacking.

5/10

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Crushing Force – Remnants of Devastation

Posted in Review with tags , , on 21st September 2020 by izaforestspirit

Crushing Force
Remnants of Devastation
Released 25th July 2020
Melodic Death Metal
Self-Released

Crushing Force - Remnants of Devastation

’Remnants of Devastation’ is the debut EP from the New York based melodic death metal band Crushing Force. The band was originally a one man project of Bill Rotach (Desekrator, ex-Nazgül) created in 2016 with the aim of making instrumental music for video games. One of the tracks, ‘Inferior Humans’ features a sound clip of Fawkes from the video game Fallout 3.

Now I have never played Fallout 3 and I am not really into video games, so I cannot comment on how well this would work as a soundtrack. What I can say, is a few things about is the music itself. The EP is full of shredding guitar riffs along with a few well constructed melodic guitar parts. Mr. Rotach is clearly a skilled guitarist and guitars are definitely the main focus of the EP. The aforementioned Inferior Humans is the most aggressive song in here with crushing guitars and savage drums hammering away. At the other end of the spectrum, we have songs like the title track which is more thrash metal -esque and melodic in nature.

Overall, this is a well made EP from a promising melodic death metal artist. The lyrical themes and the overall tone of the music would not be out of place in a post-apocalyptic landscape. As to how well it works as a soundtrack, I guess that’s up to the gamers to decide.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Joe Bouchard – Strange Legends

Posted in Review with tags , on 8th September 2020 by izaforestspirit

Joe Bouchard
Strange Legends
Released 31st July 2020
Hard Rock
Released via Deko Entertainment

‘Strange Legends’ is the latest solo album from the American hard rock artist Joe Bouchard. He is best known as one of the founding members of Blue Öyster Cult. This record features drummer Mickey Curry (Alice Cooper, Bryan Adams) along with lyrical contributions from the the sci-fi writer John Shirley, co-screenwriter for the movie ‘The Crow’.

I have to admit that I’m not too well versed when it comes to Blue Öyster Cult. I am mostly familiar with just two of their songs – ‘Don’t Feat The Reaper’ and ‘Astronomy’ thanks to the Metallica cover. Despite this I decided to give the album a go… So, what we have here are eleven tracks of melodic and uplifting hard rock. The pace is varied but generally speaking the more energetic tracks are mostly in the first half of the record, then Mr. Bouchard mellows things down with a few ballads towards the end.

I enjoyed the guitar parts on African Queen and the chorus is pretty good too. It’s catchy, almost to the point where you are tempted to swing along to the guitar tunes. Speaking of guitars, if you like like jazz style guitar work then you should definitely check out the instrumental Racing Thru The Desert. The guitar riffs are very well done, but personally I’m not so keen on the trumpet noise on the background. Perhaps a little too much like a jazz jamming session for my liking. She’s a Legend is another standout track with a memorable chorus. The overall tone is a little darker thanks to the creepy synthesizer sound in the background. That the doesn’t make the track any less catchy than the others on the album, though. In many ways that song reminded me of some of Blue Öyster Cult’s best known hits.

In summary, ‘Strange Legends’ is a catchy, guitar-driven hard rock album. I enjoyed it despite my limited knowledge of Blue Öyster Cult and Joe Bouchard’s solo work. If you are a fan of Blue Öyster Cult, the chances are that you already have this record. I reckon that most hard rock fans will like it too.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Valkyrian Music

Breaking Today – It Dies Today

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 28th August 2020 by Pieni

Breaking Today
“It Dies Today” (EP)
Punk rock
Self-released on 13th July 2020

breakingtoday

He may be the bass player in a metalcore band, but Luís Silva is a punk rocker. And he plays guitar. And he sings! And so Breaking Today was born.

The single for the title-track was released three years ago already – the original idea was for the EP to follow suit but, well, life happened… – and it’s indeed its most “single material”. All four songs have their own way of rocking your senses and lingering in your ear, but “It Dies Today” has that upbeat catchiness that sticks right away; you listen to it once, and by the second time you do, you’re already singing along the chorus. At least that’s what happened with me.

But first comes “Dropout”, faster, feistier, and therefore the right choice for opening track. And because punks have feelings too (please see a joke here and not an offense), the ballad “Save Me” delivers the right mellow touch. The strongest bass line – I won’t say the backbone but certainly one of the essences of punk rock – comes last, in the founding layers “Heavy Lies The Crown” was built on.

I won’t say Breaking Today is recommended for fans of this or that band, because a) it would look like I’m making comparisons and that’s just not fair, and b) every time someone tells me “oh if you like this you’ll definitely like that”, they fail miserably. So I’ll just say “It Dies Today” covers all the juicy feats of good ol’ punk rock and everyone who’s into that should at least give it a try – even if this turns out to be an “only child”. Not sure about this last part, mind me. All it’s been said is they don’t have any plans of playing live, and that frontman Luis’ dream has been fulfilled. Personally, I would like pretty much to listen to a follow-up, but if it doesn’t happen, this one’s worth it.

 7,5/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

The Lightbringer of Sweden – Rise of The Beast

Posted in Review with tags , , on 18th August 2020 by izaforestspirit

The Lightbringer of Sweden
Rise of The Beast
Released 15th July 2020
Power Metal
Self-Released

The Lightbringer of Sweden - Rise of the Beast

’Rise of The Beast’ is the debut album from the power metal band The Lightbringer of Sweden. As the band name suggests, the group hail from Sweden and they have been around since 2017. The line-up includes the German vocalist Herbie Langhans (also of Firewind, Beyond The Bridge and Avantasia live).

Now, when it comes to Swedish power metal the first name that always pops into my head is Sabaton. I can honestly say that I would struggle to name any others, except for Civil War which comprises several former Sabaton members. It’s good to know that there is more to the Swedish power metal scene than just these two bands. For starters The Lightbringer of Sweden sound nothing like their Falun-based brethren. There are no keyboards and Langhans’s vocal style reminds me of Andi Deris of Helloween.

I’m not sure what to make of the intro track ‘The Moon’… Church bells, something burning in background and the narrator’s voice informing you that the beast known as The Lightbringer is here to stay. Good to know, moving swiftly on. What follows is some fairly enjoyable melodic power metal complete with crunchy guitar, good drum work and powerful vocals. What’s not to like? The tempo varies from the mid-paced catchy songs such as Fallen Angels to the slower, ballad-esque title track. One of the highlights for me is ‘Skeletor’, probably my favorite track on here despite the somewhat cheesy lyrics. The chorus is super catchy, the raspy vocals are full of emotion and very well executed and the guitar work is top notch. I also enjoyed Into The Night, another catchy power metal tune. I’m not going to do a track-by-track review, I like some tracks more than others but, generally speaking there are not too many filler songs on here.

Overall, I enjoyed ‘Rise of The Beast’. This is one of the better power metal albums I’ve heard this year. As far as the genre goes, The Lightbringer of Sweden aren’t exactly re-inventing the wheel, but they are good at what they do. If they continue along the same path they will have a bright future ahead of them.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Battle Born – Battle Born

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 20th July 2020 by Nico Davidson

Battle Born
Battle Born
Released 26th June 2020
Power Metal/Skyrim Metal
Self-Released

Hailing from Windhelm (Apparently), Battle Born are a new power metal act on the scene. Described as “true Skyrim Metal” by some, I have to admit my curiosity was piqued. The self-titled EP is said to take the listener on an adventure through the rolling mountains of the frozen land of Skyrim.

The EP charges straight in with the gallant title track, Battle Born. It’s a strong enough opening for the EP, featuring the standard trademarks of European power metal. Bring The Metal Back is a catchy track with memorable riffs and an overall grandiose chorus, though some of the lyrics do sound quite cheesey. Man Of War takes on a more classic metal sound, with a styling that would be closer to early Manowar, or Judas Priest, than modern power metal. The chorus is poignant enough to have you singing it for days. For Our Home is a far gentler song, making use of more emotional keyboard passages and moving vocal lines. The guitars add to the uplifting sound of the track. The EP ends on Sovngarde Awaits, which despite the name, isn’t as mournful as one would assume. Instead, it thunders in with encouraging guitar riffs, exhilarating keyboards, and boisterous vocals. Such an enlivening song makes you want the EP to carry on.

For a Skyrim Metal band, the lack of Thu’um usage and sweetrolls which is disappointing, however the EP shows promise these sons of Skyrim. With an arsenal of fun choruses, and uplifting songs, Battle Born is a mighty release and just the soundtrack you need when taking the fight to the Imperials!

9/10

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Battle Born online:

http://www.facebook.com/battlebornuk

Damnation Angels – Fiber of Our Being

Posted in Review with tags , , on 17th July 2020 by izaforestspirit

Damnation Angels
Fiber of Our Being
Released 31st July 2020
Symphonic Power Metal
Self-Released

Damnation Angels - Fiber of Our Being




So here we were in the heat of the summer… Ok, so there is still a pandemic going on and many of us may not be in a “happy place” at the moment. But it’s still summer and I’m in the mood for some power metal. I’m in need of some escapism. I want to hear some uplifting tunes and to listen tales of epic battles or fantasy adventures. Helloween, Sabaton and Powerwolf are my favorite choices for the genre. This time though, I decided to take a break from those and to check out something new – the new album from the British symphonic power metal act Damnation Angels. These guys have been around since 2006 and their music has been compared to the likes of Avantasia and Blind Guardian. So far all their albums have been well received by the metal community both the fans and the critics alike, including Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. Let’s see how the third full length ‘Fiber of Our Being’ measures up to its predecessors.

Well if it’s uplifting and epic power metal you are after, then you have come to the right place. Railrunner definitely has a positive feel to it thanks to the melodic guitar work, symphonic undertones and Iggy Rodriguez’s powerful vocals. Great chorus too. They managed to achieve the right balance between the the guitars and the orchestrations without overdoing it on the symphonic parts. The title track is by far the catchiest song on here. I’ve listened to the album a few times now and this is one of the tracks that I keep going back. It has the best chorus and the most memorable orchestrations as well as guitar riffs. In fact, come to think of it, there isn’t really anything that I dislike about this track. I also enjoyed Rewrite The Future – another energetic, uplifting and catchy power metal track. The guys probably had lots of fun recording this.

They occasionally slow things down too, as demonstrated in the slower tracks like the closing ballad ‘A Sum of Our Parts’. Here the vocals have a somewhat softer tone and the keyboards are more prominent than the guitars. It’s probably my least favorite track on here but it works well as a closing song, the final chapter of the story.

Overall, there is a lot to like on here and I enjoyed listening to ‘Fiber of Our Being’. I would recommend it to fans of symphonic power metal, particularly if you are into bands like Kamelot and Avantasia.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Carach Angren – Francksteina Strataemontanus

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , on 22nd June 2020 by izaforestspirit

Carach Angren
Franckensteina Strataemontanus
Released 26th June 2020
Symphonic Black Metal / Horror Metal
Released via Seasons of Mist

Carach Angren - Franckensteina Strataemontanus

The Dutch symphonic horror metal masters Carach Angren are back with a new album. Their latest opus ‘Franckensteina Strataemontanus’ is a concept album focusing on the story of German occultist Johann Conrad Dippel, whose experiments allegedly inspired Mary Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein’. This is also the last album to feature the band’s drummer Ivo “Namtar” Wijers.

Carach Angren are a fairly new discovery for me. I only got into their music a couple of months ago. I’m surprised that it took me this long to check them out considering that I am a fan of several bands who make similar music including Cradle of Filth and Chthonic. The main things that make Carach Angren stand out are the frequent use of orchestrations in the music and Seregor’s storytelling. I wouldn’t really call what he does “singing”, it’s more like he is reading or narrating a horror story complete with all the theatrical antics and creepy voices.

The intro track ‘Here in German Woodland’ sets the scene for an eerie tale of Gothic horror. Speaking of spooky, there is something disturbing about the distorted guitar and keyboard noises in the introduction to the title track. It definitely conveys an eerie atmosphere, sending chills down the listener’s spine. Seregor does a good job playing the mad scientist in the story. Full marks for the theatrics. As far the lyrics go, Operation Compass seems a little disconnected from the rest of the album concept but the bombastic yet creepy orchestrations make you forget the confusion. Monster is one of the highlights on the album for me. The keyboards and the vocals really convey that feeling of something sinister coming towards you. They even added some cinematic style orchestrations and screams to create the right atmosphere.

Then there is the ultra-quirky Der Vampir von Nürnberg, one of those symphonic black metal songs that you’re either going to love or hate. The orchestrations sound fantastic in all their Gothic horror glory but the vocals might divide opinions. I am accustomed to Seregor’s creepy narrations but the ghastly (not in a good way) backing vocals and howling in the chorus started to get on my nerves. Dimmu Borgir did this too and I disliked it. Also is it just me or does anyone else think that the singer sounds like a bit like Till Lindemann when he is speaking in German?

Overall, ‘ Franckensteina Strataemontanus’ is a really good soundtrack to a horror movie that has yet to be made. As far symphonic black metal goes, Carach Angren are bit of an oddity, but as this album proves they are a force to be reckoned with. I would recommend this to fans of Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Chthonic.

8/10
Iza Raittila

Beyond Shadows – Wolf’s Blood

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , on 16th June 2020 by izaforestspirit

Beyond Shadows
Wolf’s Blood
Released May 2020
Melodic Death Metal
Self-Released

Beyond Shadows - Wolf's Blood

Wolf’s Blood’ is the new EP from the New York -based, American melodic death metal duo. The band comprises vocalist and guitarist Daniel Shepard and drummer Chris Hawkins (ex-Midian). Their music is heavily influenced by the Gothenburg melodic death metal movement and they are inspired by bands such as At The Gates and Carcass.

This EP certainly does not lack aggression. Right from the opening riff on Never An Answer you are greeted by an onslaught of shredding guitars, blast beats and abrasive shouting. Yet in addition to the aggression, they also managed to sneak in some melodic guitar parts towards the latter half of the song adding some variety to the overall structure and pacing. The title track also features melodic undertones and lots of pace changes. The transitions between the vicious death metal and the melodic guitar work are very well timed. I particularly liked the acoustic guitar part at the end.

Just when you think that you know what Beyond Shadows is all about, they surprise you again. Based on what the first two tracks sounded like, the last thing that I expected was a keyboard intro on Regret Is My Name. It’s short but long enough to give the listener a chance to get ready for the next attack of thrashing guitars and blast beats. At The Gates made songs like this back in the ‘90s. Last but not least is Screaming Eyes (Go Unheard) which features another melodic guitar intro which reminded me of old Metallica for some reason. The guitar riffs are good but I could have done without the clean vocals.

In summary, ‘Wolf’s Blood’ is a well made melodic death metal EP, which is likely to please fans of Gothenburg variety of the genre. It has a few flaws but luckily they are minor and easy to overlook.

7/10

Iza Raittila

American Jetset – Saloon Rock Whiskey Pop

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 15th June 2020 by Pieni

American Jetset
“Saloon Rock Whiskey Pop”
Rock
Self-released on 8th April 2020

saloon

“Saloon Rock Whiskey Pop” is said to be American Jetset’s first full length album, but as it features only six songs, I’d call it an EP instead… Whatever the term, its contents live up pretty much to its title, delivering that kind of rock which isn’t exactly hard but it’s harder than pop and that you expect to hear in a bar, while having a few drinks with a bunch of friends.
Personally, I’d like the voice to sound a bit more… passionate, but then it would probably make it feistier and closer to hard rock, and that’s probably not American Jetset’s goal. They play rock – period. And the whole guitar work – meaning solos, riffs, licks… – it’s already spicy enough to ignite a sparkle in your ear and then the rest just follows naturally. I must highlight the bass line in “Walking Contradiction”, as it’s very bold, but sadly it stays in the background in the other songs. Still plays an important role in the whole outcome, but it doesn’t stand out as in that first song. “1000 Ghosts” shows a more upbeat side of the band and “Never Be Goodbye” is the mandatory ballad, all acoustic, clapping hands on the chorus – which features the album title – and on the non-clapping parts you easily imagine the hands of the crowd holding a lighter (yeah, a lit cellphone will probably be more accurate, but a lighter gives out a more traditional vibe, fitting better in the mood). Meaning they cover all key bases of rock in about half an hour of juicy music.

7/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Behemoth – A Forest

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , on 5th June 2020 by izaforestspirit

Behemoth
A Forest
Released 29th May 2020
Blackened Death Metal
Released via New Aeon Music

Behemoth - A Forest

The ongoing worldwide pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the music industry. With thousands of shows and festival cancelled or postponed, musicians have found themselves with a lot more time their hands. Many have returned to the studio and created something new. The Polish blackened death metal trio Behemoth are one such band. They have teamed up with Niklas Kvarforth (Shining, Skitliv) to bring you a cover of The Cure’s ‘A Forest’. The EP also features to previously unreleased songs from the ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ recording sessions.

I have to admit I am not that familiar with The Cure’s music. I actually had to check out the original version of A Forest prior to this review. The Cure’s original post-punk song isn’t exactly cheerful but it’s nowhere near as creepy as Behemoth’s version. The eerie guitar work in the intro is enough to send chills down your spine. Orion really does a great job with the bass. Then there’s Mr. Kvarforth’s ghastly screams along with Nergal’s growls. This is definitely not a gentle stroll in the woods. These are the sounds of someone lost in a forest running for his/her life. The live version is faster, more energetic but it loses some of the eerie atmosphere in process.

Then we come to the two new songs. ‘Shadows Ov Ea Cast Upon Golgotha’ is a brutal piece of blackened death metal with harsh guitar riffs and varied pace. It is a decent song but it feels a little unrefined. I can see why they chose not to include on the last album. ‘Evoe’ is much more dynamic, well rounded and stronger in structure. Now this is the kind of Behemoth track that I was hoping to hear.

Overall, ‘A Forest’ is a good addition to Behemoth’s discography. They did a great job with the cover and the other songs are not without merit. I think that their fans will enjoy this release. I sure did.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Ravenscry – 100

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , on 27th May 2020 by izaforestspirit

Ravenscry
100
Released 15th May 2020
Gothic Metal / Progressive metal
Self-Released

Ravenscry - 100

100’ is the latest album from the Milan-based Italian Gothic metal band Ravenscry. They were formed back in 2008. This is the first studio release to feature their new guitarist Federico Schiavoni, who joined the band in 2017.

So, based on the description, I was expecting this to be another Nightwish type, female fronted band. How wrong could I be? For starters, the vocals are melodic but their singer Giulia Stefani sounds more like Amy Lee (Evanescence) or Silje Wergeland (The Gathering, ex-Octavia Sperati) than any of the Nightwish singers. Secondly there are no symphonic elements. Instead, the guitars are low pitch, distorted and have a progressive metal feel to them. Keyboards are kept to a minimum, with the exception of the opening track ‘Maybe’, where they maintain the balance between the chugging guitars and Ms. Stefani’s angelic singing.

As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, I have never been fond of anything progressive and that is my main issue with this album. I like the vocals but the stop-start, distorted guitar work seems to disrupt the flow on the songs. I think that the symbiosis between the two is not as smooth or as efficient as it should be. They work on some tracks better than others. ‘The Entertainer’ is one of the better ones. Here the guitars take a backseat and the vocals are the main focus on the song. I really like Giulia Stefani’s vocal performance on that particular track. The melodic keyboard outro is a good addition too.

Overall, ‘100’ offers a mixture of progressive and Gothic metal. There is enough variety to keep the listener on his or her toes. Unfortunately the combination of the two might not be to everyone’s taste.

6/10

Iza Raittila

Raven Said – Beyond The Darkest Hour

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 13th May 2020 by izaforestspirit

Raven Said
Beyond The Darkest Hour
Released 17th April 2020
Goth Rock/Post-Punk
Released via Secret Sin Records Ltd.

’Beyond The Darkest Hour’ is the debut album from the Russian Goth rock duo Raven Said. The band was founded in 2014 in Ekaterinburg by vocalist-guitarist Andrey Agapitov and Maria Agapitova (piano, synth, violin and percussion). I first discovered them after watching their performance at Lumous Gothic Festival. They cite ‘80s Goth rock, post-punk and new wave as their main influences along with an interest in the occult and spooky Gothic themes. Oh and in case the name wasn’t enough of a clue they are also fans of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Some of the songs were previously released as EPs and their entire discography is available from their Bandcamp page.

Well, if old school Goth rock is your thing, then you are in for a treat. This album has all the hallmarks of a classic Goth rock record including melancholic vocals, eerie, scything guitar work and spooky synth melodies. Lenore was part of the live set at Lumous Gothic Festival. It’s one of the songs that stood out for me and what made me check out the band’s music after the shows. Ok, it’s a little slow but I really like the spooky atmosphere. There are also some more dance-friendly tunes such as Love That Black As Coal. This one is more keyboard-oriented and a little less melancholic.

Another song that caught my attention was Fragile Hope; the most dance-friendly track on here. It’s catchy with a good keyboard intro and the guitar sounds less gloomy. The guitar riffs can even been described as….(dare I say it..?) – uplifting. Yes, that’s right, I’ve just used the term “uplifting” in a Goth rock review! Oh no… Oh the horror! What ever shall we do? I say that we just keep listening and dance along, that’s my plan at least.

To conclude, ‘Beyond The Darkest Hour’ is a very well executed Goth rock album that is bound to please fans of the style. There are only a handful of Goth rock bands that I like and I am pleased to say that Raven Said is one of them.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Paradise Lost – Obsidian

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 10th May 2020 by Pieni

Paradise Lost
“Obsidian”
Gothic metal
Released: 15th May 2020
Via Nuclear Blast 

obsidian

I believe that in all 17 studio albums Paradise Lost have released so far, this is the one with the most accurate title – its songs are deep dark and their refinement pretty clear-cut, just like an obsidian rock. And since we use the word “rock” in a metaphorical sense to describe something strong we can rely on, and “Obsidian” is, in my humble opinion, the strongest record these guys have done in years…

Paradise Lost have always managed to write sorrowful songs that will otherwise bring you elation rather than depression, and just a few seconds into that acoustic intro of “Darker Thoughts” will prove this statement right. Nick Holmes sings in a heartfelt clean pitch here, and as the electric, heavy part kicks in, so does his harsh growl. There are orchestral arrangements in the background throughout the whole song – violins, if my ears got it right – which a sucker for details such as me must point out. And as the two following songs are the ones I already knew from YouTube – the stricken “Fall From Grace” and the homage to The Sisters Of Mercy “Ghosts – it was already clear I was facing a masterpiece. A lot of “old school PL vibe” revamped, which I admit probably helped with the impact it caused on me – but I still think “masterpiece” is the right word.

The keyboard line and guitar work of “The Devil Embraced” are particularly riveting, while “Serenity” bears a more straight-forward and rawer heaviness that turns out quite catchy. And while the melody of “Ending Days” bears the beautiful sadness that I’ve implied before, “Ravenghast”’s nature is gloomier, almost ominous.

Saying “all gothic metal fans” may sound presumptuous, so I’ll stick to “the majority of gothic metal fans” will fall in love with this record; but for those whose lives were touched by “Icon” and/or “Draconian Times”, “Obsidian” will also be a blissful revival of the past.

9/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Vader – Solitude in Madness

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , on 2nd May 2020 by izaforestspirit

Vader
Solitude In Madness
Released 1st May 2020
Death Metal/Death-Thrash Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast Records

Vader - Solitude in Madness

My favorite death metal quartet, Vader are back with a new album. It’s been four years since their last full length ’The Empire’. Last year they released a teaser EP called ’Thy Messenger’ and now the wait is finally over. ’Solitude in Madness’ has been unleashed onto the world. What a fitting title given the present circumstances which many of us find ourselves in during this turbulent time…

Right from the moment you press the play button, you are greeted by a ferocious barrage of guitar riffs, relentless drum work along with Peter’s brutal growling. The opener Shock And Awe sets the tone for the rest of the album. What we have here are eleven tight-knit tracks of brutal death-thrash metal. The songs are short, fairly simple in structure and lacking the intricate atmospheric parts and intros featured on ‘Tibi et Igni’. They were already heading this direction with ‘The Empire’. However this change of style is not a new thing for Vader. In many ways this bears a lot of similarity to their earlier works, particularly their third release ‘Black To The Blind’, a personal favorite of mine.

For those who are not familiar with the band’s history, Vader started out as a thrash metal outfit and so this is a return to their roots. The thrash metal guitar riffs have always played a key role in what makes Vader stand out and this album is not an exception. Into Oblivion is a vicious beast packed with crushing guitar work and savage drumming. Ready or not, here it comes. You have just two options: either stand and fight it or run for your life! Emptiness and Despair were featured on the ‘Thy Messenger’ EP which I reviewed last year so I will not be discussing those songs. Then there is their cover of Acid Drinkers’ Dancing In The Slaughterhouse. No death metal here, this song is essentially speed-thrash. Full speed ahead, lots of shouting and vicious riffs.

In summary, ‘Solitude In Madness’ doesn’t offer too many surprises. For better or worse it is very straightforward, “textbook” Vader. More of the same death-thrash metal blend, the formula which they have stuck with for decades. For Vader fans like myself, it ticks all the right boxes. It sounds exactly like I was hoping that it would. It is a little short, clocking in at just under thirty minutes but there is not a single weak track on here.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Overlaps – In Your Room

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags on 27th April 2020 by izaforestspirit

Overlaps
In Your Room
Released 27th March 2020
Alternative Rock/Nu Rock
Released via Time to Kill Records

’In Your Room’ is the second album from the Italian alternative rock band Overlaps. They were formed back in 2015. Their debut album saw the light of day two years later. The band have also accompanied The Rasmus on their Dark Matters tour in 2018.

Right from the very first guitar riff I can already feel that this album is going to be fun. The opener Your Eyes features some catchy guitars and powerful vocals. Their singer Gloria Piccinin has a good, dynamic voice and she puts a lot of emotion into each song. I particularly liked the chorus of In This Room. It has that uplifting feel to it which puts the listener in a good mood. One thing I didn’t like though are the rapping vocals mid-way through Spleen. What a waste of a good song. I have no issue with the poetic lyrics and references to Baudelaire but I really can’t get past the rapping. Luckily that is the only time that they do this on here and what follows is more well-executed alternative rock.

As mentioned previously, I like the vocals and I think that they are part of what makes Overlaps stand out. As far as alternative rock goes, this is fairly melodic and radio-friendly, verging on power-pop at times. But enough about the vocals, let’s talk a bit about the guitars. There is some good riff work on here too. Take Wasted for instance, it is one of the heavier tracks on here with multifaceted guitar passages and varied pace.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to ‘In Your Room’. It offers a good balance of melodic, energetic and uplifting guitar work with powerful vocals to convey their message to the masses. Gloria Piccinin is a talented singer and with her at the helm, Overlaps have a bright future ahead of them.

8/10
Iza Raittila

Bloodyard – Orchard of Corpses

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 26th April 2020 by mickbirchy

Bloodyard

Orchard of Corpses

Heavy Metal, Groove Metal, Death Metal

Released: 1st May 2020

Self Released

Bloodyard is one of those bands that have always been on my radar but I have not really given much attention to. Not for any malicious reason, mind you, I just find it hard to keep up with all of the music I want to listen to and inevitably some bands fall through the cracks. So, it was nice that I could spend some time giving their music a thorough listen and where better to start than their latest album Orchard of Corpses. A twisted and heavy album that incorporates a thick tone, an in-your-face presence and tight musicianship to make a fun listening experience that I bet would sound good live. Bloodyard have a really decent album here, that I think a lot of metal fans should get behind. You can clearly hear their influences in the music and how they use those influences to manufacture their own sound.

As much as I like their music, I do have to comment on the production. Whilst, not the worst I have ever heard, it is noticeable. If there is one thing that I would say is standing out is the sound of the drums. They completely lack impact, with the other instruments overshadowing them. In fact, the production as a whole feels a little washed out and flat. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the tone or the way it was recorded. I just feel the assembly of the mix was a little off. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something holding the full impact of these songs back and it’s in the production. I think all of the musicianship itself is great though. Not a bad performance here, with solid guitar work and well-performed rhythm and bass. The vocals sound great, very commanding and direct. All in all the production is a mixed bag.

However, I do like the songs themselves and I think they would work in a live setting. I could really see myself headbanging the night away with how these songs play out. Lots of tight rhythm with not much breathing room, so the album just goes from song to song in a very fluid way which makes the album a great listen-through and makes it re-playable. The band gets in, does their thing and gets out. So, yeah I think the songs themselves are pretty damn good.

This is a decent record. Sure, it has some rough edges, but those are things that can be worked out. I like the tunes and the pure intensity of the record. The music is fine and though not the typical band that I usually listen to, I still found this album to be an enjoyable experience. I would like to hear this band live as I think that is a better context for these songs and where the band would be more in their element. It’s a good listen and I’m sure the underground metal scene here in the UK will love it. If you like like you home-brew heavy metal then this is the band for you.

6/10

Mick Birchall