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SOS Festival, Day 3 Review

Posted in Festival, Live, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 30th July 2017 by mickbirchy

SOS Festival, Longfield Suite, Prestwich, UK

16th July 2017

Resin, Faith In Glory, Eternal Breath, The Deep, Harriet!, Dorja, Chris Appleton, Fire Red Empress, Fahran, Triaxis & Power Quest.

Day three of a festival is always going to be a slower one. Everyone is worn out and it’s usually the day where the crowd winds down a little. Yeah, the same is true here. Even I was trying to take it a little easier. What wasn’t going easier, was the bands. Once again every band really brought it to the stage. Even if I might not have enjoyed every moment, I can still respect the effort that they put into it. I was once again in and out of the press room so I may miss some bands here and there. Yet, I think the Sunday was still a pretty strong day.

The day kicked off with a hard rock band, Resin. Wow, the feedback. From the get go the set was bogged down with technical issues. The sound was muddy and there was feedback so piercing I think everyone was feeling it. The production was muddy and I felt like the sound was really over cluttered. Even as the production issues were resolved, I just couldn’t get over the songs. It was just bland tunes and over kill on the instrumentation. There was just too much going on in the songs. So nothing felt right. There are too many string instruments into the band and it felt like a calamity. It certainly wasn’t best way to start the day. There maybe a fan-base for this but I’m not in it.

After that disheartening start of the day, salvation came in the form of Faith In Glory. I really loved this set. Their presentation was excellent. Big riffs and a big booming vocal performance from lead vocalist, Jack Collins. It was really impressive. They were a very dynamic band with lots of grooves and lots of tones to keep the audience captivated. All of them were very energetic in their delivery, they looked so enthusiastic when up on the stage. Big smiles on their faces throughout the whole set. They were clearly enjoying themselves and the audience was right their with them. Adding in a cover of Black Stone Cherry’s “Blame It On The Boom Boom” was enough to sell me on them. Let me tell you, anyone that can convincingly cover Black Stone Cherry (one of my favourite bands) then I know they’re doing something right. Keep on rocking lads, that was awesome.

The next act I managed to catch only a little bit of were, Belgium power metal band, Eternal Breath. Like I said I only caught a bit of them but they was spectacular. There was just a great sense of command and power to them. The guitars chugged away and the vocal performance soared over the production. The whole thing reminded me of the real old school metal acts of yesteryear. They paid their respects to the late Philippe Beauprez, from Wizz Wizzard, which got a big ovation from the crowd. Everything about their set was technically perfect. The band was tight, the music was cranked up loud and there was a lot of enthusiasm to go around in the venue. I really liked them. The same can be said for the next band The Deep. It was, once again, a classic type of sound. This was one really fun set. I was standing there with them and  I enjoyed every moment .They brought awesome old style grooves to the table. It was sharp and crisp and the solos blew me away. It was just that real pumping classic rock sound that I grew up with. It got me up and moving. It was loose and fun and and they didn’t look like they taking themselves too seriously. They just worked well. Again not too much to say about them, I just had a really good time.

I think I’ll cover the acoustic stage now as I didn’t really get around to watching much of it. First of all acoustic artist, Harriet!. She was absolutely fabulous. Almost a country style of music, she had a beautiful and soulful voice that was excellent to listen. It was simple and elegant. She threw in a cover of Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life” which actually sounds great acoustic. She had this incredible sound that was so pure and emotional to listen to. This is someone you should check out immediately. The talent parade continued with, Dorja. These girls can really play. I mean really play. The technique on display was impressive. The stripped back set sounded really nice and I would be really interested in hearing them in a cranked up set. The vocal harmonies were absolutely beautiful and the instrumentation was superb. The guitar solos were really nice to listen to and in this more relaxed set the girls just really put on a spectacular show. This was a really nice discovery for me, five really talented musicians playing some really great music.

The last band I want to talk about from the acoustic stage is Chris Appleton. A day removed from playing the headline set with Blaze Bayley, Chris was back at SOS Festival bringing his songs to the acoustic stage with his brother Luke Appleton. The chemistry was excellent and the songs flowed from the stage. Being the final act on this stage for the weekend they really brought it and showed off exactly what they were all about. They had a great chemistry with the audience that made their set feel electric. It was a superb way to end the day, and the weekend on this stage.

Next on the main stage was my MVP’s of the whole weekend, Fire Red Empress. All I can Say is freaking WOW. They just blew me away. I’ve not seen these guys in a while so getting the chance to hear them live again was freaking excellent. Armed with new lead vocalist, Jennifer Diehl they’re a totally different beast now. The bass boom, the guitars roared and the vocal performance was simply incredible! The new songs sounded wonderful and it has just made me really hyped for a new album from them. The band had this vibrant energy to them that looked great and the room filled with enthusiasm for them. The sound was big and impressive and I’m just stoked to hear and see more from them.

The fun didn’t stop because after that we had Nottingham rockers, Fahran. A few years ago I discovered these guys in a small bar in Manchester and every time I see them or hear anything from them they just get better with time. They were full of life and really brought a great show to SOS Festival. Their song have these huge choruses and these really hard hitting riffs. They used this show to debut some new material. The new songs were “Pyre” and “Some Kind of Family”. Which were bursting with riffs and melodies that sound great. I am really excited for new music from them.  They had an instant connection to the crowd. Their classic sound is instantly recognisable and likeable which I think is the secret to their success as a band. They’re just a younger version of the classic rock band we all grew up with. They play with passion and great technique. Genuinely an awesome band.

Unfortunately I missed a lot of Triaxis’s set. It’s a shame too, as Triaxis are on their way out and this maybe the last time I get to see them live. From what I saw they were really good. Like I said I can’t comment on much but I did see that the crowd was really into it.  A well put together band with a really tight sound. Just really nice metal music. The vocal performance was really good and the vocals just floated on top of the production. The metal was fast pace and had a lot of energy to it. Just absolutely intoxicating. As I said I didn’t catch much of the set but I enjoyed what I saw. 

Finishing off the weekend where power metal champions, Power Quest. Everything just sounded so glorious. Every element of the band worked really well and the production came through loud and clear. From the synth and keys to the powerful guitars the booming rhythm it all just hit home. Songs that lept out for me were songs like “For Evermore”, “Better Days” and of course the self-titled songs “Power Quest”. They beamed with confidence and you can tell that the crowd were really into the performance. Vocalist, Ashley Edison really showed off some amazing ability that completely blew me out of my socks. They were a really enjoyable end to an incredible weekend.

Words: Mick Birchall

Photos: Rich Price and Holly Price (Rich Price – Photographer & Music Journalist)

 

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SOS Festival, Day 2 Review

Posted in Festival, Live, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 29th July 2017 by mickbirchy

SOS Festival, Longfield Suite, Prestwich, UK

15th July 2017

Crowsaw, Core of Nation, Vice, Damaj, Sister Rose, Luke Appleton, Primitai, Die No More, Gemma Fox, Pythia, Bad Pollyanna & Blaze Bayley

Day two kicked off a little earlier and a killer line up lay ahead. I was excited for a few of the names and in terms of quality this had to be the strongest day. Saturday was a really busy day because I was in and out of the press room, doing interviews and getting into the main hall for the bands. There were too many highlights to count  for me and I discovered some great bands that I took home some of their music. There’s plenty to talk about so let’s get on with the day two review.

First things first on main stage was, Crowsaw. They were pretty decent three piece heavy metal act and played an all around entertaining set. The music had some excellent blues riffs that carried the set beautifully. The impressive part for me were the three part harmonies. All three members sung together so well and it fitted into the music so nicely. It just added something to their set. The riffs were good and meaty, they had a real groove to them and the bass locked in the drums to create a nice rhythm. I did like them but I don’t really have a lot to say they were a good band with some solid tunes. For me, Core of Nation were one of the biggest surprises of the weekend for me. They were simply stunning. Their sound was bold and atmospheric. Their songs were a doom style sound with thick riffs and a well produced tone. Every moment was packed with great songs and the outstanding musicianship. Core of Nation sparked with precision music, great riffs, well done solos and frontman, Rolf Berg’s vocals were simply breathtaking. Everything was nicely mixed and sounded great. I definitely came away from this set completely in love with their sound.

Local lads, Vice were up next on the stage. Their set was pure fire with lots of energy and tonnes of passion thrown into it. The guitar tone was crisp and the solos were coming through fast and thick. The production was clear cut and it really hit hard. Every member really brought the passion to the stage with them and the band making for a fun set that everyone was getting into. Being the hometown lads they certainly got the punters in the door and the room felt like it had that vibrant energy to it. The new album tracks went down a storm. They filled the stage and boasted an impressive stage presence. They felt so impressive and I hope they have a good future ahead. They are an excellent live and with the tunes to back it up. After a short break and turn around, we had Damaj take the stage and for the first time this weekend I was a little disappointed. OK, they’re not bad per say, but it was a little bland. The music was simply ok. From a technical standpoint they were really good. Great guitars, great flow, amazing vocals. However talent is not the same thing as quality and I just don’t think the songs were there. I’ll say this for them they had passion and were really into their songs. Yet, I just could not get into them. It all felt very generic. There wasn’t much of a bite to their sound and it left me a little cold. I’m sure there is a market for them, however, I could not get into this.

Meanwhile, on the acoustic stage. Instead of Regulus, who were unable to make it. We had Iced Earth’s, Luke Appleton performing an acoustic set. His set was beautifully put together. Luke’s vocals were really nice and he sounded great. He was very humble and his personality shone through. It made me enjoy his music even more. The sound was almost country with all the emotion in his vocals. His vocals are amazing and has a lot of power to his voice. The guitar was very simplistic but effective all of the same. A powerful set for something that was put on in such short notice. After that we were treated to the glam rock stylings of Sister Rose. I have to say the thing that caught my eye straight away was their merchandise. Bright and colourful and I think they were the only band of the weekend with something other than just t-shirts and CD’s. How was their set though? In a word… Solid. They had this fantastic glam rock sound that filled the room. The songs flowed really nicely into each other with that sleaze rock style that they make. Every tunes had this real grittiness to it, every twang of the guitar and every pulsating beat of the bass had a lot of drama in there. They definitely had a classic rock meets sleazy punk thing going on. Every second they were on stage the they just sold themselves. Somehow though, it just didn’t work for me. I don’t know, maybe because the market for this type of music has been completely oversaturated over the years and if you’re going to make this style of music you have to do something to really stand out. Unfortunately, nothing did. They were just another band. They were kind of unique for this weekend, but as for the genre in general, they’re not exactly pushing boundaries. Like I said, really good set and strong performance but I’ve just heard this type of music way too much.

 

I was slightly blown away by the technical stylings of Primitai. Every moment of their set was filled with impressive, riffs, licks, solos and powerhouse choruses. The sheer energy and intensity from them was simply brilliant. Primitai weave in and out of metal stylings like it was nothing. It was really impressive how they went from style to style like it was nothing. Every part of this performance was excellent. From the technical ability on display to their enjoyment that was blatantly apparent through their set. Again they were another one of these bands were I didn’t take notes and enjoyed the music and yeah this is great. It was amazing to watch these just show off what they can do. Songs like “Black Rider” and “Power Surge” just flowed so well out of the speakers and I loved it. Primitai were really enjoyable, just a brilliant band that have really great on stage chemistry and presence. One to check out for sure. Nothing got my blood pumping more than the heavy metal stylings of Die No More. There was so much to the set and the sound. Every song just crackled and popped with excitement and had a real power to it. They had a command of the stage and the music was tight with sharp guitar tones and a crashing beat. It was aggressive yet clean. It’s really sad that is the last show from them as I would be interested to see them again and I would recommended them. If you can, definitely check them out. They were very different from what expected and I don’t think they were explained to me quite right. They were far more heavy than I expected, which was a good thing. With a booming set of drums and well executed guitars. I really did enjoy this one. Not much to say here. Just a really fun band.

 

Over on the acoustic stage Collibus frontwoman, Gemma Fox. She played a bunch of covers from “Feels Like Making Love” by Bad Company to “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. As you can tell there quite the range of songs in the set. Gemma is known for having an amazing voice. I have heard her before with her band and I have always been blown away by her voice. Once again there was no difference here. She is absolutely stunning. Also a stripped back performance was really nice. Just and acoustic guitar and her voice and it sounded beautiful. It was simple yet effective. It was such a passionate and pure set set from Gemma. Just a nice small set from her and that was all that was needed. Up next, was a superb treat. Pythia, was incredibly impressive. It was something a little different. Having a symphonic metal band in the middle of all of the thrash, glam and NWOBHM was so refreshing for my ears. The sound was big and bold, and frontwoman, Sophie Dorman’s voice was absolutely pitch perfect. The crowd was 100% behind them and they belted out tune after tune. Songs like “Betray My Heart” were real crowd pleasers. Every element of the band just clicked and the synth and keys created this atmosphere that the metal was overlaid onto. They are a very technically gifted band and they had bundles of chemistry that you could just see click on stage. They also debuted a new song “Ancient Soul” which sounded really nice and made me excited for a new album. Pythia worked so well on this stage a I really want to see them again.


Finally on the acoustic stage today was one of my absolute favourite bands, Bad Pollyanna. I’ve heard them a few time but always in a full band. In this more stripped down acoustic performance they really stepped up to the plate. I am very familiar with there songs but usually in this loud confident style. Here these songs almost took on new meanings. This more exposed subtle sound really fitted them. Vocalist, Olivia Hyde’s voice was incredible. Such power and emotion behind her voice. The sheer passion was clear and it was matched by the harmonising vocals of Nikki Kontinen. The acoustic guitar sounded really nice and it all came together so beautifully. I loved the way they transformed their songs like “Awake Now” and “Define Me” into these deep and powerful ballads by stripping the production back. It really worked and it just made think, damn I want more Bad Pollyanna music.

 

Finishing off the day was a legend of the industry. Blaze Bayley, was so captivating. It’s clear that he’s been doing this for so long. The calm control he had on the crowd was amazing. Just the way he held himself on that stage was awesome. His voice was excellent. His band played a blinder too with Chris Appleton manning the guitar duty. He belted out riffs and solos like it was nothing. The thick tones and imposing presence,  it all felt so huge. Then you have Karl Schramm on bass and Martin McNee on drums. The two locked in together and created some amazing grooves and rhythms that got the place jamming and moving along. It was so awesome to see the connection that Blaze has to his fans and he was clearly enjoying himself as he did what he does best.

Overall it was an incredible set that blew me away. The music was great, the atmosphere was awesome and the band were relaxed and looked like they were enjoying themselves. It was a great way to end a Saturday at a festival. Bravo.

Words: Mick Birchall

Photos: Laura Piggford (LorathNahhr Photography)

Kreator – Gods Of Violence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 24th January 2017 by Pieni

Kreator
“Gods Of Violence”
thrash metal
Released: 27th January 2017
Via Nuclear Blast Records

godsofviolence_zps28ifmxs8

“Gods Of Violence” or how to make the same thing and still sound fabulous.

When “Phantom Antichrist” was released, I used keywords such as technique, melody and elaborate guitars; now, almost five years later, the same words pop up in my mind. Yet it doesn’t leave a taste of repetitiveness but of… familiarity.

Living up to its name, “Apocalypticon” is an epic promise of war, a promise that starts being fulfilled right afterwards, with the fierceness of “World War Now”. Some sharp melody in-between makes it both classic and classy.

“Satan Is Real” is the other side of the coin – still belligerent, still menacing, but the rhythm is more grinding than shredding. There’s even some symphonic elements here and there to emphasize the throbs.

“Totalitarian Terror” is something I’ll love to hear live, a thrash hymn, with a catchy, sing-along chorus.

Okay, I admit some of the acoustic chords of the title-track are a subtle reminder of Metallica’s “Fade To Black”, but the rest of the song is very Kreator-like and another strong candidate to a live favorite.

The spunky spirit of “Army Of Storms”, the force of “Hail To The Hordes”, the mischief of “Lion With Eagle Wings”, the militant “Fallen Brother”, that weeping solo of “Side By Side”, “Death Becomes My Light” brings over a little more semi-acoustic moments – these not similar to any other band’s – before galloping away at full speed… Kreator are able of pulling out sophisticated tweaks off their sleeves, delivering exactly what is expected of them, both as a thrash metal band and as a veteran, professional act.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Pieni’s highlights of 2016

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

This year it was really REALLY tough to choose just 5 shows (Sam Alone, The Mission and Heavenwood should also be there somewhere):
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  1. Hills Have Eyes at Canecas Bar (Paços de Ferreira)
  2. Sonic Syndicate at Göta Källare (Stockholm)
  3. Moonspell at Pavilhão Multiusos (Guimarães)
  4. More Than A Thousand at Time Out Market (Lisboa)
  5. Testament at Coliseu (Porto)

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

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

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

Anticipations/expectations for 2017:
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  1. Infraktor – a “gourmet thrash metal” all-star project who I’m proud of being close to, hence keeping tabs on. Let’s see how others will receive them.
  2. Hills Have Eyes – saw some new pictures of the boys in the studio. Needless to say I’m thrilled.
  3. Equaleft – yep, something’s still brewing…
  4. Five Finger Death Punch – “Got Your Six” isn’t my favorite 5FDP album but it’s still good enough. Let’s see if what they’re up to now pleases me more.
  5. Guns N’ Roses – this is a live expectation. I’m having totally mixed feelings about this reunion. Not even sure if I’ll go to the Portugal show, so I’m also expectant on what my final decision will be…

Happy New Year peeps!

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Iron Maiden continue The Book of Souls tour in 2017

Posted in Metal, Misc., News, Uncategorized with tags , , on 27th October 2016 by izaforestspirit

Iron Maiden will be continuing the European leg of The Book of Souls World Tour in the spring of next year. The support for all the dates will be the American hard rock band Shinedown. The first show will be in Antwerp, Belgium on 22nd April 2017 followed by a few shows in Germany before moving on to The UK and Ireland.

Here’s an official statement from their bassist and founding member Steve Harris:

“As it’s been so long since our last full UK arena tour, we really wanted to get to our fans in as many cities as possible. We’re really looking forward to it, especially visiting places we haven’t been to for a very long time like Leeds where we haven’t played since 2005 and Liverpool where we haven’t played since 1990. The whole band is really enjoying this tour and although we love playing festivals and stadiums, it is terrific to return to the intimacy and atmosphere of arenas. The songs from The Book Of Souls album and the new Maya-themed Eddies and stage sets have gone down really well and fan reaction has been amazing. And of course we know our fans appreciate us playing a lot of the older songs too, which we will continue to do.”

Here is the full tour schedule for 2017 along with a poster for the UK Tour:

Apr 22              Belgium                        Antwerp, Sportpaleis
Apr 24              Germany                      Oberhausen, König-Pilsener-Arena
Apr 28              Germany                      Frankfurt, Festhalle
May 02             Germany                      Hamburg, Barclaycard Arena
May 04             England                       Nottingham, Motorpoint Arena
May 06             Ireland                         Dublin, 3arena
May 08             England                       Manchester, Arena
May 10             England                       Sheffield, Arena
May 11             England                       Leeds, First Direct Arena
May 14             England                       Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena
May 16             Scotland                      Glasgow SSE Hydro Arena
May 17             Scotland                      Aberdeen, AECC GE Oil & Gas Arena
May 20             England                       Liverpool, Echo Arena
May 21             England                       Birmingham, Barclaycard Arena
May 24             Wales                           Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena
May 27             England                       London, O2 Arena

For more information visit:

https://www.facebook.com/ironmaiden/

http://ironmaiden.com/

 

Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder

Posted in CD, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 16th October 2016 by izaforestspirit

Darkthrone
Arctic Thunder
Released 14th October 2016
Blackened Heavy Metal
Released via Peaceville Records

The Norwegian metal duo Darkthrone doesn’t need much of an introduction. Their early albums such as ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky’ are regarded as classics of the black metal genre. Also, let’s not forget their drummer Fenriz’s witty comments and his passion of underground music. They’re one of those bands who isn’t afraid to alter their style and experiment with something new. Since the start of their career they have gone through various transformations ranging from death metal to black metal followed by experimentation with punk and heavy metal music. Personally I lost track of them after ‘The Cult is Alive’ album back in 2006. Then recently I heard their new song ‘Tundra Leech’ on Youtube and I decided to give them another go.

First up is the familiar, eerie sounding Tundra Leech – the track which convinced me to obtain a copy of this album. It’s great to hear Nocturno Culto’s haunting voice again, sounding just as grim as he did in the band’s early days of black metal. Nocturno Culto is singing on all the tracks on here which is really good in my opinion. I’ve always preferred his harsh and creepy vocal style to Fenriz’s hooting clear vocals. As for the music, the guitars have this old school feel to them as if they were trying to replicate similar riff patterns as they used in the 90s. By ‘old school’ I mean a mixture of old school black metal with a slight thrash metal tinge audible in the guitars.

In other words it’s still very grim-sounding but it’s way too fast and too catchy to be considered “true” and “kvlt” black metal any more. Boreal Fiends stands out due the melodic instrumental intro at the start; slowly drawing you closer into the deep dark forest with the grim guitars, drums and Nocturno Culto’s haunting howls as your only guides. Then there’s Inbred Vermin, a bit of an oddity, which sees the band play around with some heavy metal and (dare-I-say-it?)…Motörhead-esque guitar patterns mid-track, neatly sandwiched between frostbitten, ultra-haunting howls and black metal guitar riffs. These guys clearly enjoy both these styles, so why not combine those two? And why not? Who says that Motörhead doesn’t go well with Hellhammer or Celtic Frost? Also why stop there when you can also add some thrash metal into the mix? That pretty much sums up what the managed to achieve rather successfully with the title track.

Overall this ‘Arctic Thunder’ sees Darkthrone revisiting their roots – the sounds that have influenced them in the early days and putting a new spin on it. It’s got the same eerie and cold atmosphere as their highly regarded black metal albums, but it’s not restricted to one specific metal genre. The closest thing I can think of to describe their current sound would be something like ‘blackened heavy metal’. Luckily I’m not any kind black metal purist, so grim and frostbitten ‘blackened heavy metal’ sounds just as good to me.

4/5
Iza Raittila

Assassinner – Another Sucker Subscribes To The Norm [single]

Posted in CD, Metal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 30th September 2016 by Pieni

Assassinner
“Another Sucker Subscribes To The Norm” [single]
thrash/crossover
Self-released in May 2016

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Assassinner’s “aggressive music for aggressive people” seems to have toned down a little bit in this 2-track single; either that or producer Carlos Barbosa made each instrument sound so sharp that I’m mistaking classy, high definition for less raw music. Whichever the case, the outcome is what I want to hear in the next full-length record.

I remind you that I said “less aggressive than usual”, not that the aggression was gone, so don’t be fooled by the A-Side title “Sweet Lullaby”. Unless you use “sweet” as “cool/great/peachy” when expressing your appreciation for that ominous mantra-like guitar piece towards the end, which can turn this song into an ear-worm.
Still my favorite is the B-Side, “Hate Over Grown”, as I’m a sucker (no pun intended…) for a vibrant bass line and there’s also something about the main riff. In a time when singles are somewhat underrated, Assassinner came up with something worthy.

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino