Archive for the Review Category

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

Steignyr – The Legacy Of Wyrd

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 7th June 2021 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Steignyr
The Legacy of Wyrd
Releases 23rd July 2021
Celtic Death Metal/Folk Metal
Art Gates Records

Hailing from Spain come Steignyr, a Celtic Death Metal warband, formed by vocalist and lead guitar Jon Thorgrimr Fjonir. With a handful of releases to their name already, and tours that have happened as far away as China, Steignyr have renewed their lineup and are set to return with The Legacy Of Wyrd, which already promises to be an interesting album.

The album opens with Prologue, a series of sounds setting the mood, before a solemn and mournful narration by Sarah Owen becomes the main focus of the track, accompanied by the sound of a quill scratching ink on parchment, and the sombre sound of ravens weaved within the haunting medleys. Mendo has a more up-beat sound, combining beauty and the beast vocals, with driving guitar medleys and jig-worthy folk instrumentation.

The Coming Of Aland sounds almost power metalesque in its delivery, presenting a grandiose, inspiring sound that is reinforced with darker lyrics and the bestial vocals of Fjonir. The orchestrated sections, with the folk elements, really shine through on this track. The dialogue between Kit Harington and Peter Dinklage with ethereal choir voices in the background are what really give this track its atmosphere. The title track, The Legacy of Wyrd, invokes a mystical sounding, focusing on the enchanting vocal work of Kathonya, as it dances with gentle yet staunch folk melodies and discreetly powerful orchestration. The track is essentially the eye of the storm within the album.

The Rise Of Death is a vigorous track, making use of Celtic-influenced passages, conjuring an urgency that can be heard through the vocal lines, whilst Edevane has the sounds of a slowed down sea shanty. Travellers comes across as quite chaotic sounding, as though there’s too much happening at once. Immortal Family begins with the alluring notes born of Celtic inspiration before bursting into a majestic onslaught of Fjonir’s guitars, with the staunch dual vocal workings that have been prominent throughout the album.

Rhythm of Time is a ravishing assault on the listener, mixing together beguiling vocals, and relentless guitar passages. The dual vocals work especially well on this track, like an enthralling chant. The Well Of Ice channels an inner primal energy throughout each note, resonating with the rhythm work of drummer Zelther. The Giant Pillar Of Rock really demonstrates a melodic aspect to Fjonir’s guitar playing, highlighting his skills especially well. The soaring folk elements help create a fascinating, dynamic sound on this track, complementing the vocals, and the bass work of Kilau, fully.

The forlorn soundings echo loudly throughout Everything Silent, seeping into every aspect of the song. Though it is a fast-paced and energetic track, the sorrow can be heard especially within the instrumentation, giving it a very powerful emotional feel. Coming towards the end of the album is Aftermath, another track that shows displays the more melodic side of Fjonir’s guitar playing, creating memorable passages throughout. The other instrumentation also comes across as robust, filling parts of different parts with fresh,and almost hypnotic sounds.

The Legacy of Wyrd finishes with Epilogue, a closing track similar to that of the opening one. It is filled with emotive sounds and the steely voice of Sir Ian McKellen, as he monologues about the end of the story throughout the album. His words are especially powerful, speaking of waiting in another life, as though his character is full of regret and mourning. Epilogue is truly the best way for the album to finish.

The guest appearances by the likes of Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage, and Sir Ian McKellen help add to the narrative of the story, and though the album could have worked without those appearances, they are a welcome sound. The Legacy of Wyrd is a noble offering of folk metal, though it does feel lacklustre in some parts but it still has the potential to be on the best folk metal albums to be released this year.

8/10

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Steignyr online:

https://www.facebook.com/Steignyr
https://www.instagram.com/steignyr/
https://twitter.com/steignyr

Ledfoot – Black Valley

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 6th June 2021 by Pieni

Ledfoot
“Black Valley”
Gothic blues
Release: 12th March 2021
Via TBC Records

ledfoot

Gothic blues… yeah, that’s a new one for me too – even if Ledfoot’s first release is dated 2007. It is the solo project of artist Tim Scott McConnell, who has been performing for about 40 years now, and it was he himself who came up with the name for this musical genre. True, he’s an old school goth, but I’d like to think the term “gothic blues” is more based in his darker approach to blues rock than in his apparel. Just like his own skilled fingers take more credit for the richness of his songs than the heavy 12-strings of the guitars he uses to create them.  

The melodies are obviously sad and McConnell’s voice brings such sadness alive, with strong and charming tones – whether it’s seductive, singing about a broken heart like in “Take Away The Hurt”, overwhelmed when singing about hopelessness like in “Poor Man’s Lullaby” or just candid like in the story lines of “Crossed My Heart” and “Falling Down”.

In a nutshell, Ledfoot is a more refined version of Johnny Cash and “Black Valley” a ride you don’t want to miss if you’re into these bluesy paths.

8/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Silver Talon – Decadence And Decay

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

Silver Talon
Decadence and Decay
Released 28th May 2021
Power Metal
Released via M-Theory Audio


Silver Talon - Decadence and Decay

‘Decadence and Decay’ is the debut album from the American power metal band Silver Talon. The group was launched back in 2017. The line-up includes: vocalist Wyatt Howell (Sanctifyre,ex-Toxic Witch), two former Spellcaster guitarists Sebastian Silva and Bryce Adams Vanhoosen, bassist Walter Hartzell (Mordant Rapture), drummer Michael Thompson and guitarist Devon Miller (ex-Sabateur).

There’s nothing quite like some good old power metal on a hot summer’s day. The thing with this particular album is that it starts off rather slow. The first few tracks actually made me think that I was listening to some progressive groove metal. Then half way through the record something changed and they decided to speed things up a little. Divine Fury delivers the cheerful and bombastic guitar melodies that I was craving for. It’s about time. Next up is the ultra-catchy, riff- extravaganza Kill All Kings – easily the fastest song on here and my personal favorite. Now this is what I call power metal.

And no power metal album is complete without a ballad track, in this case that is the rather melancholic-sounding What Will Be. Whilst I cannot fault the guitar work or the melodic vocals on here; the majority of the song is a little too lullaby-esque for my liking.

In summary, ‘Decadence And Decay’ is a promising power metal debut. Sadly only handful of the tracks caught my attention so I doubt that I will listen to it again. If Silver Talon produce more songs like ‘Kill All Kings’ then I might consider giving them another go.

6/10

Iza Raittila

Daybreaker – Sanctuary

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 19th May 2021 by Mickelrath

Daybreaker
Sanctuary
Groove Metal, Heavy Metal
Released: 21 May 2021
Self-Released

You guys know me at this point. I love some groovy riffs infused with the heaviest of metal tracks. Hoo boy, do I have an awesome recommendation for you today. I’ve been aware of Daybreaker for some time, I’ve even seen them live a couple of times. They’re one of those bands that I always wanna checkout if they’re in town. Meaty riff-tastic metal music that is packed with energy.  The North-West metallers are set to release the new EP, Sanctuary. A powerful and commanding release that keeps you hooked from start to finish. They took what has worked in the past and amplified it all the way to 11. 

The EP opens on bright sunny intro “Enter Salvation” that quickly turns into disaster with an explosion and sirens to set the apocalyptic mood for the brutality to follow. This then cranks into “The Redeemer”. There’s something very ‘mid-2000’s’ metalcore sounding about this track. The booming bass and tight drum work lock into place and keep the pace as the guitars churn out the riffs and the vocal performance goes into full gear. The EP literally goes from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds and it doesn’t come down for the duration. Following that up are the tracks “Decent” and “In Death”. Two meaty tracks with plenty of groove to them as well keeping the EP feeling fresh and dynamic, rather than just balls to the wall brutality. 

Following that up is, for me, the stand out track to the EP “Path of Righteous”. The blast of drums to open the track get you ready for the following beat down. The track goes through a few different and distinct parts that make it a worthy listening experience. The high energy, the brutal breakdown and an atmospheric guitar outro. Man, this song really hit me. Finally rounding out the EP is “MOAB” and “Used God Salesman”. “MOAB” has a strong riff and keeps a tight groove throughout. Then “Used God Salesman” caps off the EP on a high note. It’s just a balls to the wall metal track that makes you wanna get up and mosh around.

Yeah, I rather enjoyed that EP. A fierce listening experience that I want to come back to time and time again. It might not be to everyone’s liking, I mean if you’re not into groove metal, metalcore or its subsidiaries then, this won’t be for you. I wish there was more to it. However, as far as criticisms go, they’re not bad problems to have. An excellent outing for the band and I look forward to hearing these songs live in concert. 

9/10

Mick Birchall 

Black Sigma – Lost

Posted in Review with tags , , on 17th May 2021 by izaforestspirit

Black Sigma
Lost
Released 1st April 2021
Atmospheric Black Metal
Self-Released

Black Sigma - Lost



‘Lost’ is the debut album from the Belgian atmospheric black metal artist Black Sigma. The project was launched last year by the musician known as Occulta, who used to be the vocalist of the symphonic black metal band Avatar back in the ‘90s.

After several listens I can state that the main two adjectives I would use to describe this album would be ‘atmospheric’ and ‘melancholic’. There is a fair bit of melody in the guitar work and it is paired with haunting black metal shrieks. Occasionally Occulta mellows things down like in the piano outro to Always Alone and the ambient-esque closing track Desolation. The style is fairly similar to the German ambient black metal duo Bann. A lot of the songs have long instrumental parts with the vocals being used sparingly.

The second half of the album includes some subtle doom undertones in the guitar patterns ,for example in the title track. That particular song also features a variety of vocal styles ranging from shrieks at the start, to My Dying Bride -style semi-growls and eerie whispers. I also enjoyed the ambient keyboard and guitar passages on Apocalypse 3.0.

In summary I can confirm that this is definitely my kind of black metal. Black Sigma is one of the most promising newcomers to the scene and I look forward to hearing more from him.

9/10

Iza Raittila

Skarlett Riot – Invicta

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Review with tags , , , , , on 6th May 2021 by Mickelrath

Skarlett Riot

Invicta

Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Metalcore

Released 7 May 2021

Via Despotz Records

It’s a special feeling when you see one of your favourite bands rise up and release an album this good. Yes, this will probably be somewhat of a biased review as I really do like this band and I can confidently say that I’m almost proud of Skarlett Riot for making this album. Invicta is their third album and it’s been quite the journey listening to them grow and develop into the band they are today. They have always had a way with lyrical themes intertwined with heavy dark tones with a good measure of catchy melodies and this record is no exception with songs that will no doubt be taking centre stage of their setlists when the world goes back to normal and gigs are once again attendable. It could have been really easy for the band to not do anything during the lockdown, however they were laser-focussed on this new project and, armed with this new album, they’ll be ready to take over the hard rock scene.

The album opens with “Breaking the Habit” and it sets the tone for what to expect throughout. Dark and heavy melodies with impactful hard-hitting lyrics. It goes full-force and doesn’t really slow down except for the magnificent crescendo that is the ballad “Into Pieces”, which for my money, is really the centre piece of the album. A soft acoustic intro that builds into a solid hard rock ballad that really caught me off guard but I really enjoy listening to it. While listening to this, I found myself relating to a lot of the lyrics on here. Skarlett Riot work their magic with the lyrics. I especially like the dark lyrics in “Black Cloud” which perfectly sums up how depression and anxiety feels, it really hit me hard and the vocal performance really sells it to you with a lot of conviction and passion. 

The production absolutely packs that extra punch. The big difference on this record is the addition of guttural vocal work, which has never really been in Skarlett Riot’s previous work. Thanks to new bassist, Tim Chambers. He really works off of Chloe’s vocal work and complements it with big bassy sounding guttural vocals that really gives this album so much more of an edge. The guitar riffs are excellent and create a solid framework for the songs. Then you have the drums which feel so punchy on this release. The drum-fills are well worked and they add so much depth to the overall sound.

Okay, this was an outright advertisement for the album rather than a review. Yeah, it goes without saying that I recommend this album. It’s more Skarlett Riot with more of a punch and the new addition of the vocal work is so welcome in the band’s sound. Just an excellent listen and one already in my top ten albums for 2021

10/10

Mick Birchall

Indus Valley Kings – Indus Valley Kings

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Review with tags , , , on 28th April 2021 by Mickelrath

Indus Valley Kings
Indus Valley Kings
Stoner Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Released: 22 January 2021
Self-Released

This was a neat little surprise of a record. I love looking up weird and interesting stoner rock music. It’s a sub-culture that I really adore ever since I discovered Kyuss and Orange Goblin. So I always take the opportunity to listen to new bands in the genre. So let me introduce you to Indus Valley Kings. They advertise themselves as “heavy, down-tuned music” and that is something that I kind of agree with. The band consists of Billy Fridrich on guitar & vocals, Dan Lofaro on drums and Jonathan Lesley Habers on bass and vocals. It’s definitely heavy but it has a laid back attitude like a band in a jam session. Sure, jamming out for a whole album might be off-putting to some. However, if you’re willing to chill out, it’s a fun ride of a record. 

The first thing you’ll notice about this album is… The bass! My god the bass is oozing and powerful. It encompasses all elements of the record and creates the framework for all of the songs and keeps the energy chugging throughout. It’s just so in your face that I couldn’t help but point it out. I listened to this on several pairs of headphones and it was just the most powerful part of the album. There’s something very primal and hard-hitting about the tunes. I love the vocal performance on this record, especially the hook to the song “Scapegoat”, it packs such a punch with Billy’s forceful voice kicking ass. Then you have the guitar solos. They are so good. Carrying on from the heavy and down-tuned music, the solos have that vibe at heart. 

It might be a little hard to listen to for people not used to this sort of music. The production isn’t amazing. I do understand the tone they were going for but I don’t think the execution was necessarily the best as the production feels a little stodgy and the bass swallows up all of the other instruments. There are times where the drums aren’t audible because the bass is too in your face. I like bass but there is such a thing as too much. 

It’s still a very enjoyable album as it is. I have the songs playing in my shuffle playlist for the last few weeks in the mix with the likes of Black Sabbath, Brant Bjork, Planet of Zeus and Black Moth and I feel like it fits in quite nicely with that sort of sound. It’s a free-flowing jam session condensed into their best moments for an album. Well worth the listen if you like your bass-heavy stoner rock.

7/10

Mick Birchall

Bodom After Midnight – Paint The Sky With Blood

Posted in Review with tags , , on 23rd April 2021 by izaforestspirit

Bodom After Midnight
Released 23rd April 2021
Melodic Death Metal/Power Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

Bodom After Midnight, Paint the Sky with Blood, 10" Vinyl - Backstage Rock  Shop

The tragic death of Alexi Laiho late last year meant that his new band’s album was never finished. He did however manage to record a few tracks with Bodom After Midnight. His bandmates decided to release these as an EP dedicated to his memory. So here we have Alexi Laiho’s swan song – ‘Paint The Sky With Blood’.

The title track is by far the highlight on here. Laiho’s vocals sounds as sharp as ever and the guitar work is simply flawless. The keyboards work well in the background. Next up is Payback’s a Bitch, another solid melodic death metal track which reminded me of Children of Bodom’s mid-career work. Once again the guitar work is the prime focus. Last but not least is a cover of ‘Dissection’s Where Dead Angels Lie. This is not the easiest of songs to cover but they did a pretty good job of it. They successfully managed to capture the original atmosphere of the track.

In summary, as a long time Children of Bodom fan I am very happy that Mr. Laiho left his fans with one final parting gift. RIP Alexi Laiho. One wild child gone far too soon…

9/10

Iza Raittila

Sadistic Demise – Your Chosen Way of Sadistic

Posted in Review with tags , on 17th April 2021 by izaforestspirit

Sadistic Demise
Your Chosen Way of Sadistic
Released 21st February 2021
Death Metal
Self-Released

Sadistic Demise - Your Chosen Way of Sadistic

‘ Your Chosen Way of Sadistic’ is the first EP from the Russian death metal band Sadistic Demise. The group was formed last year. Three of the band members are also in the thrash metal crossover band Impress.

After a couple of listens I can safely say that this sounds pretty much exactly like I expected it to. Brutal, mid-paced death metal packed with gore themes. The growling style is fairly typical of the genre as is the guitar style. The main issue I have with this is that with the notable exception of the intro, all the songs sound very similar to each other. There is some decent riff work on songs such as Violent Autopsy but other than that, unless you have the track-listing in front of you, it’s difficult to tell when one song ends and another begins.

Overall, there is not much else that I can say about this EP. It is very much your standard brutal death metal. While this in itself is not a bad thing, if you like the genre, that doesn’t change the fact that bands like this are a dime in a dozen. In all honesty if I want death metal, I would rather listen to Cannibal Corpse or old Morbid Angel.

5/10

Iza Raittila