Archive for the Review Category

Desert Gatan -Mental War

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 2nd June 2022 by Mickelrath

Desert Gatan
Mental War
Stoner Metal, Sludge Metal
Released: 5th April 2022
Self Released

On my global travel through the metal world, it seems I have ended up in the great nation of Switzerland and the band Desert Gatan. I’ve had an opportunity to really dive into their new album Mental War. When I saw that five songs were going to be forty minutes long. I thought to myself that I would be in for a treat. I mean long songs aren’t for everyone. However, I always think that as long as the composition and pacing are fine, then the song is overall good. So I was interested in how this would come across in terms of a full album. Also, I have always appreciated the art of stoner rock and the like of this genre. So let’s see what these Swiss metallers bring to the table.

Opening up the album is the mammoth title track “Mental War”. A powerful commanding track that really sets up what you’re in for. The production is great with the sludgy guitars and heavy bass hitting your ears. It’s everything you could want, the heavy tones the growling vocals and all packaged in this atmospheric, mesmerising record. I love the way the guitars sound on this record. The riffs feel so natural and sound great to the ear. It’s one of those records that just kept me engaged throughout. The spacey out there production and the excellent composition and sound mixing make for a well balanced and interesting record. The album is book-ended with two gargantuan eleven-minute long tracks that show off the versatility, talent and creativity. 

I have to say this is definitely one of the more compelling and artistic albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to recently. Desert Gatan are a genuine delight to listen to. It’s one of those albums that you can just sit in a dark room and listen to the moody, brooding tones and just enjoy the atmosphere that band present. If you’re not one for dark stoner rock then this might not be something to get you into the genre. However, for veteran listeners of stoner and sludge metal. This album will keep you engaged. It rewards you for the listening experience time and time again. 

8/10

Mick Birchall

CrashDïet – Automaton

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 5th May 2022 by Pieni

CrashDïet
“Automaton”
Glam/sleaze rock
Released: 29th April 2022
Via Dïet Records

crashdiet-automation

As many shades as glam & sleaze music can take, one can only go too far without stepping out of character and keeping the outcome fresh at the same time. But six albums later, CrashDïet still nail it.

“Together Whatever”  has the carefree rhythm and triumphant message of a rock anthem – the same formula they’ve used in the past with “Riot In Everyone” or “Generation Wild”, and yet sounds so state-of-the-art.

I’ve once said something about CrashDïet taking in the traits of the golden ages of glam rock and making them their own in the present day, and “Shine On” is the epitome of such statement – a tribute to the eighties, the electronic undertones and the defiant chanting finishing a true earworm with class.

The beginning of “Dead Crusade” is a dead ringer (no pun intended) of “Anarchy”, true, but it soon evolves to something more seductive, something you’d want to sway to instead of acting up. In fact, the melodies of this album are the richest (so far) in their discography – no, I don’t mean just the weeping of the acoustic guitar in “I Can’t Move On (Without You)” but, for instance, every catchy bit of “Darker Minds” or “We Die Hard”. The same fiery songwriting but a more elaborate, more mature result. The older, the wiser?

And speaking of wise… to say I’m not the biggest fan of Steel Panther is an understatement, but I acknowledge the legends they’ve become, and if the Swedes needed a somewhat-husky-sexy voice to contrast with Gabriel’s bright pitch in the pulsing “Powerline”, Michael Starr was definitely the smartest move.

Wherever Dave Lepard’s soul may be, I’m sure it’s proud.

9/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Warrior Soul – Out On Bail

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 17th April 2022 by Pieni

Warrior Soul
“Out On Bail”
Hard Rock
Released: 4th March 2022
Via Cargo Records

warrior-soul-out-on-bail

As factual as the expression “Out On Bail” may sound, given that it was the title chosen by Warrior Soul for their latest album, it must be seen as some kind of defying statement. When listening to the opening track, “We’re Alive”, one can clearly hear the “we’re back in the game” message of someone who has just done time. The cliché motto of every insurgent in “One More For The Road”. The scorn towards white-collar offenders in “Hip Hip Hurray”. A whole rebel speech/attitude, and so I guess the raw, almost punk approach fits. The same with Kory Clarke’s voice, which is way hoarser than I remember. No, scratch that – it IS hoarser than it used to be, nothing to do with my memory; time’s just gone by and wasn’t at all kind to his singing skills. And after two or three songs, you can’t help but reconsider that “broken” is more accurate than “hoarse”. Especially when the songs themselves are played in a somewhat sloppy manner. Yes, I know I’ve mentioned a punk-ish approach and so a reckless performance could be part of the picture. But something feels off. “Cancelled Culture”, however, has a pretty catchy rhythm – that bass intro bringing a smile to my face – but then Clarke tries to sing along such catchiness and he just can’t keep up, and what could’ve been the one song I’d actually enjoy, turns out to be another disappointment. So I choose “End Of The World” as the best track here, as it shows a more elaborate and melodic guitar work, with an edgy vibe to it, where Clarke spoils it a little but doesn’t ruin it completely…

4.5/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Posted in Review with tags , on 7th March 2022 by izaforestspirit

Sabaton
The War To End All Wars (History Edition)
Released 4th March 2022
Power Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast Records

World-renowned Swedish power metallers Sabaton are back with yet another historically themed album. ‘The War To End All Wars’ is the sequel to their 2019 release ‘The Great War’, continuing with the theme of World War I. This time time I opted to check out the limited ‘History Edition’ version which includes some voiceover narrative intro about the historical events which inspired the songs. It’s an optional extra treat for the history buffs among the metalhead population but entertaining nonetheless.

So anyway, moving on to the music. Unlike their previous opus, this album seems to be big on the ballads. I’ll start with my favorites; the best of the ballads is the anthemic, piano-centered Christmas Truce with an emotionally charged chorus that is both sombre and memorable. Stormtroopers is another good non-ballad with some decent guitar riffs. Then there’s the energetic and bombastic The Unkillable Soldier, which is easily my favorite track on the album. It is the fastest song, packed with great guitar work and a showcase for Joakim Brodén’s melodic vocals. I really enjoyed reading about the soldier who inspired the song too. Then there’s the keyboard-driven Soldier of Heaven, another catchy song that I enjoyed singing along to.

In summary, ‘A War To End All Wars’ is a decent effort from Sabaton. Music-wise it’s not dramatically different from its predecessor ‘The Great War’. For a long time fan like me I pretty much knew what to expect from it. Not all the songs are great but I find myself discovering new favorites with every listen.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Zwaremachine – Conquest 3000

Posted in Review with tags , , on 1st March 2022 by izaforestspirit

Zwaremachine
Conquest 3000
Released 17th July 2021
EBM/Industrial
Self-Released

‘Conquest 3000’ is the second album from the American EBM band Zwaremachine. The project has been around since 2011. They describe their style as “minimal hypnotic industrial body music”.All their releases are available from the Bandcamp page.

So after a few listens I can state that what we have here is a classic EBM album with a futuristic, dystopian theme. The vocals remind me of Sascha Konietzko from the German industrial metal band KMFDM. “Minimal” seems to be the keyword here as this album is full of catchy yet simple synth-driven EBM songs. The vocals are more spoken word rather than actual singing but they work well with the music.

One of the tracks which caught my attention was Toymaker, which features a memorable chorus and works as a dance track. Speaking of dance tracks, Parasol is definitely a good one. It’s hard to listen to it without being tempting to sway and stamp your feet to the tune. I also enjoyed Resist where the heavy bass lines are paired with synth melodies to produce a very danceable song.

In summary, ‘Conquest 3000’ is a well-executed classic EBM industrial album which I would recommend to fans of early KMFDM and bands such as Front 242. Retro, minimal yet very catchy.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Efpix – No More Remorse

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 20th February 2022 by izaforestspirit

Efpix
No More Remorse
Released 15th December 2021
Industrial Metal/Melodic Death Metal
Self-Released

‘No More Remorse’ is the second album from the Russian industrial death metal band Efpix. Alexander Kondrashov came up with the project concept back in 2009 but it wasn’t until 2013 when the band was formed.

Now, I like industrial and I like death metal but, based on my experience a good combination of these two genres is incredibly rare. The results can range from the sublime such as Zyklon’s debut ‘World Ov Worm’ to the downright ridiculously bad such as Morbid Angel’s ‘Illud Divinium Insanus’. So where does Efpix fit in?

Well, there’s only one way to find out.

Efpix’s signature brand of industrial is the Gothic style, industrial rock variety used by Deathstars or The Kovenant. The keyboards provide a good contrast to the harsher-sounding, melodeath growls. For example, on Erasing The Stars they managed to maintain a healthy balance between the two with the keyboards complementing the guttural vocals and guitar work rather than sounding like a cacophony. One thing I’m not so keen on are the clean vocals on some of the tracks as Watch. That song is a little too pop-ish for my liking. Luckily most of the other songs are more metal-sounding and guitar- rather than keyboard-driven. My personal favorites include: the vicious yet oddly catchy electronics-infused, death metal track Mankind Anthem and the symphonic and atmospheric Scorched.

In summary, ‘No More Remorse’ turned out to be better than I expected. It has some flaws and there’s a couple of songs which I dislike but as far as industrial death metal goes it’s a pretty decent album. I would recommend this to fans of The Kovenant and Deathstars.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Kreator – Violent Revolution (Re-Issue)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 31st January 2022 by Mickelrath

Kreator
Violent Revolution (Re-Issue)
Thrash Metal
Released 21 January 2022
via Nuclear Blast Records

When German thrash super-titans, Kreator want to treat their fans. They sure know how to do it. In these Covid times, you can’t just embark on a massive anniversary tour. So what can you do? Well, remind them of how good you are by re-releasing one of your most iconic albums and adding on a second part with live cuts to prove that you still rule the stage. Yeah, that would about do it. So we have Violent Revolution, an album that is widely considered to be the spark that kicked off the 2000’s thrash metal revival. Also, guess what, I’ve never actually listened to it until now, well not in full. I’ve seen Kreator live so I know they’re a top-tier band. However, I’ve never taken the chance to listen to this record in full. So now’s a better time than any.

The album is definitely something else. I can hear how this was so influential to the thrash metal community. The riffs are tight and the energy the album produces is relentless. The songs are really well constructed with excellent structure and creative guitar work. The bass and drums lay an excellent foundation and are perfectly in sync. Something that definitely translates to their live show. The pulse-pounding songs hit that sweet spot of heavy and melodic where you can feel every beat of the drums but it still has somewhat of an anthemic quality. Then when the lead guitar kicks in it just put the power levels over the top. Simply put, there are excellent examples of musicianship laced through every part of the record. 

Then when you get to the second part of this reissue, aptly named Bootleg Revolution. You hear the band put all of that into practice. Living proof that it wasn’t “studio magic” that made them this good. You feel that genuine passion in each recorded live performance on the album. That musicality lives in them and you feel the energy of the crowd headbanging away. I must say that these are some of the best live recordings I’ve heard on any “live” album. You get just the right amount of live band, talking between the set and crowd noise. All are so well balanced. Looking at the list of places the recordings are pulled from, you really get a grasp of their impact on the metal community at large. Brazil, Korea, Istanbul & Wâldrock Festival. Hearing the reception and how loved they are, really speaks to the metalhead in me.

Obviously, the album is a 10. There’s a reason it still holds up and it is still so loved all these years later and something I would feel comfortable recommending to any newcomer to the thrash metal world. Keep rocking Kreator and I look forward to the next time I can get in a mosh-pit at your show.

10/10

Mick Birchall

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