Battering Ram release new single

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , on 19th January 2021 by izaforestspirit

It’s been almost a year since their debut Ep came out. Now Swedish hard rock band Battering Ram are ready to present some new music. The new single is called ‘Down’ and it is out on Spotify.

Image may contain: text that says "BATTERING RAM BR-21 DOWN"

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/BatteringRamOfficial/

http://battering-ram.com/

Marko Hietala leaves Nightwish

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , on 13th January 2021 by izaforestspirit

Marko Hietala, the bassist and backing vocalist of the world renowned symphonic power metal band Nightwish has recently announced his decision to leave the group. Here’s an extract from his official statement as posted yesterday (12th January 2021) on the band’s Facebook and other social media pages:

Dear people. I am leaving Nightwish and my public life.
For a quite a few years now I haven’t been able to feel validated by this life. We have streaming company big guns demanding 9/5 work from artists of inspiration while unfairly sharing the profits. Even among the artists. We’re the banana republic of the music industry. Biggest tour promoters squeeze percentages even from our own merchandise while paying dividends to Middle East. Apparently some theocrasies can take the money from the music that would get you beheaded or jailed there without appearing as hypocrites. Just a couple of examples here.
This past year forced me to stay home and think. And I found myself very disillusioned about these and a lot of things. I found out that I am in need of that validation. For me to write, sing and play, I need to find some new reasons and inspirations. ”My Walden” so to speak. And it’s even in my book that I’m a chronic depressive. It’s dangerous for me and the people around me, if I continue. Some of the thoughts a while back were dark. Don’t worry, I’m fine. I have my two sons, a wife, the rest of the family, friends, a dog and lots of love.
And I don’t think that I’ll be gone for good.

Conspiracy is the word of the day. For the people who like them I need to say that my 55th birthday is now on 14th of Jan and I’ve certainly done my time for now. Blaming for instance Tuomas is an insult to both him and my free thinking. This is a very sad thing to all of us too. Have a care please.

But of course now we’ll know, if some go there on purpose.
There are a couple of things agreed on that I will do on 2021. Otherwise I kindly and with respect ask the media, bands, artists projects etc. to not ask me for anything within the next year. I have some reinventing to do. I hope to tell you about it on 2022. It’s not a promise though.
I am so sorry about this. “
Marko Hietala

Marco Hietala

Marko Hietala has been involved with Nightwish since 2002 and his departure marks a big change for the band. Nightwish have issued a statement stating that they respect Mr. Hietala’s decision. They will be continuing with their up-coming ‘Human. :II: Nature’ world tour with a session bass player. The full live line-up will be revealed later this year.

For more details go to: https://www.facebook.com/nightwish

https://nightwish.com

https://www.facebook.com/markohietalaofficial/

First single from Vengeant coming next month

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , , on 11th January 2021 by izaforestspirit

Here is something for fans of symphonic power metal. Introducing the Swedish symphonic metal group Vengeant. It was created in November 2019 and the line-up includes Greek singer Danae Komodromou (Scarlet Desire), lead guitarist and bassist Christoffer Holm, rhythm guitarist Dennis Eriksson (Mad Hatter, Darkest Void) and drummer Alfred Fridhagen (Saint Deamon, Mad Hatter and Darkest Void). They cite Magic: the Gathering as an influence on their music.

They are currently working on their debut EP due later this year. Their first single ‘Angel’s Battle Cry’ will be released on 12th February 2021. Check out the cover art:

Image may contain: text

For more details check out: https://www.facebook.com/vengeantofficial/

https://www.instagram.com/vengeantofficial/

Hadal – December

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 9th January 2021 by izaforestspirit

Hadal
December
Released: 5th December 2020
Doom Metal / Death Metal
Released via Planet K Records

Hadal - December

My first review of 2021. I do not normally review doom metal for the simple reason it has never been my favorite metal genre. Not even close. In fact the only doom metal band I listen to occasionally is My Dying Bride. Despite this I decided to give Hadal’s new album a go based on the description of it being a mixture of doom, Gothic and death metal. The Trieste-based, Italian doom metal quintet have been active since 2009 and this is their second album.

So, what we have here is primarily a doom metal album. All the classic hallmarks of the genre are present: a slower, bass-heavy, low-tuned guitar work, melancholic vocals and depressive lyrics. No violins but the music and vocal style bears some similarity to My Dying Bride. If only their singer had the same vocal range as Aaron Stainthorpe… Not quite, but he is doing a pretty good job. There is a hint of death metal audible in the growling vocals at the start of Dark Water, one of the more varied songs on here. I like the contrast between the two vocal styles and the gradual shift between the harsh to the melodic. The low-tuned guitar riffs are still present but at least this is not as ponderous as some of the other tracks on here. Similar things can be said about Without A Word, another song with a hint of death metal in the vocals and some of the guitar riffs.

The rest of the album offers a more varied pace. It’s still slow but the occasional death metal parts are a welcome addition. Speaking of variety, the closing track Stormcrow has some of the most diverse guitar work on the record, happily merging doom, death, Gothic and even thrash metal elements.

Overall, Hadal are not re-inventing the wheel here. Their style does not offer anything dramatically new to the genre. Having said that I reckon that fans of My Dying Bride and early Paradise Lost might enjoy it.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Iza’s Highlights of 2020

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , , , , on 31st December 2020 by izaforestspirit

What a strange year… One of the worst in recent history. 2020 will go down in history as the year of the Covid 19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. A year of lockdowns, cancellations, quarantines, sickness and death. Yet despite all this hardship, 2020 was also a year during which some great music was created. So as we look to a better and healthier 2021, let’s look back at some of the good stuff that came out this year. Here are my highlights of 2020:

1. Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos
Genre: Alternative Rock

MARILYN MANSON | We are chaos - Nuclear Blast
  • Just when I think that Marilyn Manson’s well of creativity has run dry after the last two studio efforts, he returned with what is quite possibly his strongest album in decades. As written in my review ‘We Are Chaos’ “sounds like the spiritual little brother of Mechanical Animals”. Favorite tracks: ‘Half-Way & One Step Forward’, ‘Don’t Chase The Dead’ and the title track.

    2. Vader – Solitude in Madness
    Genre: Death Metal
Vader - Solitude in Madness
  • If you are planning to check out some death metal this year I would strongly recommend giving ‘Solitude In Madness’ a listen. Classic Vader doing what they do best. If you like death metal with thrash metal tinge (aka death-thrash metal) then this is the album for you. Favorite tracks: ‘Shock And Awe’, ‘Emptiness’ and ‘Into Oblivion’.

    3. Carach Angren – Frackensteina Strataemontanus
    Genre:Symphonic Black Metal

Carach Angren - Franckensteina Strataemontanus
  • A new discovery for me. A friend of mine recommended this band to me and after watching some of their videos I was hooked. I’m surprised that it took me this long to find out about them. They are similar to bands such as Dimmu Borgir (old stuff), Cradle of Filth and Chthonic. This symphonic horror masterpiece is my favorite symphonic black metal album of 2020. Favorite tracks: ‘Monster’, ‘Operation Compass’ and ‘Like a Conscious Parasite I Roam’.

    4. Apocalyptica – Cell 0
    Genre: Symphonic Heavy Metal
Apocalyptica - Cell-0
  • Apocalyptica have gone back to basics with this album. ‘Cello 0’ is predominantly instrumental except for the final track. Heavy metal cellos and drum work never sounded so good. Favorite tracks: ‘Ashes of The Modern World’ and ‘Fire & Ice’.

    5. Mono Inc. – The Book of Fire
    Genre: Gothic Rock / Gothic Metal

Mono Inc. - The Book Of Fire (2020, CD) | Discogs
  • I cannot get enough of Mono Inc and their ultra catchy Gothic Metal. ‘The Book of Fire’ came out at the start of the year and I still haven’t got bored of it. I would recommend it to fans of Gothic metal and dark rock. Favorite tracks: ‘Louder Than Hell’, ‘Warriors’ and ‘Shining Light’ (feat. Tilo Wolff from Lacrimosa).

    6. Heimataerde – Eigengrab
    Genre: Aggrotech / Medieval Folk-electronica / Industrial Metal

Out of Line Shop Heimataerde - Eigengrab - 2CD Out of Line Shop
  • Not too many industrial or electronica releases caught my attention this year. There were some good EPs and Suicide Commando’s reworked version of ‘Mindstrip’ known as ‘Mindstrip Redux’. One album that did earn a spot in my top 10 however, is the latest work from the German medieval folk electronica band Heimataerde. The physical version comes with an audio book of a Gothic horror story called ‘Krak Megalon’ on which the songs are based on. If you’re a non-German speaker you will be pleased to know that there is an English version read by Candia McKormack (Inkubus Sukkubus’ available for download and on Youtube. Favorite tracks ‘Kind Der Nacht’, ‘Bei meiner Ehr’’ and ‘Tanz’.

    7. Fjøsnisse – Unleashed Hymns
    Genre: Black Metal

    It’s been a surprisingly good year for black metal. Carach Angren wasn’t my only new discovery. Another band I go into this year was the Norwegian black metal artist Fjøsnisse. Imagine a keyboardless old Dimmu Borgir mixed with Kampfar and you will have a pretty good idea of what ‘Unleashed Hymns’ sounds like. Favorite tracks: ‘The Nine Lords’ and ‘The Wanderer’.

    8. Amduscia – Existe
    Genre: Aggrotech / Electro-Industrial

Amduscia - Existe (2020, CD) | Discogs
  • More electronica. This time it is the Mexican Aggrotech trio Amduscia. Even during the lockdown I had lots of fun dancing to this trance-infused electro-industrial opus. Favorite tracks: ‘Existe’, ‘Muerte Sin Control’.

    9. Lord of The Lost – Swan Songs III
    Genre: Dark Rock, Gothic metal / Symphonic Metal
Swan Songs III | Lord Of The Lost
  • Another successful classic ensemble album from the German dark rockers Lord of The Lost. The only reason why this is so low down on my list is that to me this one was not as memorable as ‘Swan Songs II’. Having said that it’s still a very good album. Favorite tracks ‘Dying on The Moon (feat. Joy Frost)’ and ‘One Ton Heart’.

    10. Auger – Insurgence
    Genre: Darkwave / Industrial Rock

INSURGENCE | Auger | darkTunes
  • The only darkwave entry on my list. The British duo Auger sound like a mixture of Gothminister, Blutengel and Depeche Mode. This album came out during the first lockdown in the United Kingdom. That did not stop these guys from promoting it from the comfort of their homes. Favorite tracks: ‘Insurgence’, ‘November Angel’ and ‘Tell Me I’m Wrong (ft. Imogen Evans)’. If you are interested, check out my interview with Auger https://valkyrianmusic.com/2020/06/29/interview-with-auger/

Metallica and The San Francisco Symphony – S&M2 also came out this year. I really enjoyed it but I decided not include it in my top 10 list as I do not feature live albums. If you are a longtime fan of Metallica and you liked the first S&M album, then I would strongly recommend it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m6smR-M2qg&list=OLAK5uy_kk8e2nZ8vPfY6sYvVAQByjHit_3QdoJQw
Other honorable mentions: Behemoth – A Forest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYZdaYobCSU
VV (Ville Valo) – Gothica Fennica vol.1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kTHdAgxLCg&list=RD5JprzAIKzoc&index=3
and Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuzyA5gDa4E

Concerts were a rarity this year. I am very glad that I got to attend the ones that were not cancelled. So instead of gigs I have decided to include my favorite live streams of 2020:

  1. Behemoth – In Absentia Dei
  2. Metallica – All Within My Hands Helping Hands Charity live stream
  3. Lacrimosa – World Wide livestream
  4. Two Witches – Lockdown Live
  5. Auger – Christmas Live stream

Most anticipated albums of 2021:
New albums from Cradle of Filth, Bodom After Midnight, Suicide Commando and Blutengel plus hopefully many more.

Happy New Year Everyone! Here’s to a better, healthier 2021!

Iza Raittila

Pieni’s Highlights of 2020

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2020 by Pieni

Usually, my gig highlights are my favorite concerts among dozens I’ve seen during the year. As COVID-19 didn’t allow me to go to more than 4 live events in 2020, they ended up being all highlights just because they’ve happened… To complete the usual top-5, I’ve added a live stream – not my favorite, to be honest, but the no. 1 live stream was by the band already taking the 1st place of this ranking, plus CrashDïet was one of my first cancelled shows due to the pandemic, so being able to see a streamed one meant a lot:

humadrid

  1. Hollywood Undead at La Riviera (Madrid)
  2. Infraktor at Mangualde HardMaetal Fest (Mangualde)
  3. Revolution Within at Hard Club (Porto)
  4. Moonspell at Super Bock Arena (Porto)
  5. CrashDïet at Twenty Studios (live stream)

Records:

HUNewEmpireVol1cover

  1. “New Empire – Vol. 1” by Hollywood Undead
  2. “Obsidian” by Paradise Lost
  3. “Moment” by Dark Tranquillity
  4. “A Whisp Of The Atlantic” by Soilwork
  5. “Titans Of Creation” by Testament

Videos:

  1. “Death Diviner” by Soilwork
  2. “Nightmare” by Hollywood Undead
  3. “The Promise” by Vëlla
  4. “Obey” by Bring Me The Horizon
  5. “Divynils” by The Night Flight Orchestra

Expectations for 2021? CONCERTS! That’s pretty much what I’m waiting/hoping for! Also, the new Hills Have Eyes album, which have been featured in my expectations for the past two years, but this time there’s a title and an artwork, so I guess this time’s for real…

Happy New Year folks!

Renata “Pieni” Lino

HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD House Party – livestream

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , on 28th December 2020 by Pieni

HUhouseparty

Live streams are far – waaaaaay far – from “the same thing” as live on-site’s, but it helps filling the void left by the lack of the latter. So when one of your favorite bands announces one of those shows, you buy the ticket without blinking – not even checking if you can actually make it… After all, 7 p.m. in Los Angeles is 3 a.m. where I live and I’d probably be tired af from another week at that madhouse I call office. Yeah, I know the stream would be active (“raging on“, to use their own words) all weekend – extended till yesterday, as a matter of fact -, but when you love music as much as I do, waiting for the next day is not an option.

HUhouseparty03

The trailer and several promotional photos indicated the stream would be a prerecorded performance, so I don’t understand why so many people were pissed about it. Besides, you’re watching it on a screen, just like any other video. What’s the freaking difference?

Teaming up with Danny Wimmer, they’ve put up quite a scenario to host this event. Well, two scenarios, actually, as “Idol” is quite the must-be-played song but Tech N9ne couldn’t be there and they had to use the original footage of the video featuring the rapper; the cozy rehearsal-room-like background wouldn’t fit in such footage, so they came up with something more stage-ish.

HUhouseparty08

Dead Bite was “controlling the door”, his “no mask, no entry” directive such a rich pun. Then just like the tour Corona virus forced them to interrupt, the gig kicked off with “Time Bomb”. They didn’t play “Enemy” on the Madrid date of said tour but I remember Danny saying on his “Ask Me Anything” video it was one of his new live favorites; it came next and it sounded great indeed.

HUhouseparty24

We knew there would be guests, so when Danny asked 3 Tears if he’d heard anyone banging and then “Heart Of A Champion” came on, it was easy to guess ICE NINE KILLSSpencer Charnas and PAPA ROACHJacoby Shaddix were the ones knocking. But they didn’t come through any door… Not sure what material they had the walls made of (cardboard, maybe?) but both Spencer and Shaddix blasted through them. Afterwards, Dead Bite threw some party crashers through those same holes while HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD cheered from the couch…

HUhouseparty39

After “Another Way Out”, they’ve changed to the aforementioned “more professional” scenario to perform “Idol”. Of course it would be a waste to use that awesome light display on one song only, so three more followed suit – including “Comin’ Thru The Stereo”, with Hyro The Hero joining the party.

HUhouseparty63

Back in the room for the encore (“Bullet” and “Undead”) but not before implying we had drunk/smoked to the point of passing out and dreaming about masked HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD. While J-Dog sang his “Undead” verses, Danny started ripping apart the walls, the show ending with J-Dog picking the “Welcome to Hollywood” graffitied piece and driving a punch through it.

HUhouseparty80

They say they had an “absolute blast getting the entire Undead Army together on a global level and we can’t wait to do it again soon”; I’ve felt the same watching it, so I assure you I’ll be in front of my screen when that “again soon” takes place. It’s a shame that it was a pandemic and the impossibility of playing live that made this happen in the first place.

HUhouseparty90

www.facebook.com/hollywoodundead

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Finsternis – The Old Tongue

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

Finsternis
The Old Tongue
Released 25th September 2020
Melodic Black Metal/Atmospheric Black Metal
Self-Released

‘The Old Tongue’ is the debut EP from the Alabama-based American melodic black metal band Finsternis. The band was formed in 2018 and it features two members and one former guitarist from the melodic death metal band Curse The Flesh. This EP and their other demos are available from their official Bandcamp page.

It never ceases to amaze me as to which odd corners of the world might spout out some decent-sounding black metal music. This time it’s Mobile, Alabama in the United States of America. I cannot say that I have heard of it before and it is definitely not a place that I would think of as being associated with the genre. Based on the three songs on this EP it sounds like one of their primary influences is Swedish black metal, particularly old Marduk and to some extent Dissection.

All three songs are fairly similar in structure with only a handful of nuance differences to tell them apart. The opener We Unholy Few draws you in with a slow, eerie intro before the aggressive guitars enter the fold. The vocals are pretty much the usual coarse-sounding, distorted shrieks normally associated with the genre. Then, as the song progresses, they balance things out with some melodic parts towards the end. I liked the atmospheric guitar passages on Of Burden and Lament, which is quite possibly best track on the whole EP.

Overall, it’s hard to judge a band based on just three tracks. ‘The Old Tongue’ is a promising melodic black metal EP which I would recommend to fans of the aforementioned bands. They managed to create the right kind of dark atmosphere and the production is remarkably good. I look forward to hearing a full length album from these guys.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Garagedays – Something Black

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

Garagedays
Something Black
Released 13th November 2020
Heavy Metal
Released via El Puerto Records

Garagedays - Something Black

‘Something Black’ is the new album from the Austrian heavy metal band Garagedays. The band was created back in 2005 by vocalist and rhythm guitarist Marco Kern. In the past they have supported bands such as Exodus, Grave Digger, Rotting Christ and U.D.O. This release was mixed and mastered by Andy Laroque who is known from his work with King Diamond. The music style is similar to that of Metallica and Motörhead.

We’re off to a good start with Back In Line, a guitar-centric and energetic heavy metal song filled with catchy riff work. I can understand why this has been compared to Metallica. Both the guitar styles and to a lesser extent the vocals are similar to Metallica’s mid-career work, particularly the black album and ‘Reload’. Then there is thrash metal -style title track with the most memorable chorus and some of the most lively, thunderous guitar passages on the album. This one is definitely for headbanging. Some of the songs have a hint of groove in the guitar tones, especially audible on tracks such as And Again.

They maintain the same tone and style for the majority of the record with the notable exceptions of the ballads My Own Way and To My Soul. In these two the pace slows down and there is a greater emphasis on the melodic vocals. While these are not my favorite tracks on here, they are not out of place and I can see why they deserve a spot on the album.

In summary, ‘Something Black’ is an enjoyable heavy metal album. The style is nothing groundbreaking or new but it demonstrates that Garagedays are skilled musicians who know how to produce memorable songs.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Mork announces new album details

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , on 12th December 2020 by izaforestspirit

Time for some black metal news. If you are fan of the Norwegian black metal scene, particularly bands such as Darkthrone and Taake, there is a very good chance that you might also enjoy Mork. The one man project was launched back in 2004 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Thomas Eriksen. His first album ‘Isebakke’ came out in 2013.

This year saw the release of his latest EP ‘Pesta’ via Peaceville Records. Check out the title track here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFtzp3vH37Y&list=OLAK5uy_mgvk-Of-B8o39u306OzqdG9zJ5_7Hz7CY&index=1

Since then he has been busy in the studio working on Morke’s fifth album ‘Katedralen’. The cover art has been created by the French artist David Thiérrée and the record features guest performances Nocturno Culto (Darkthrone), Dolk (Kampfar) and Eero Pöyry (Skepticism).
The track-list will be as follows:

1 Dodsmarsjen
2 Svartmalt
3 Arv
4 Evig Intens Smerte
5 Det Siste Gode I Meg
6 Fodt Til A Herske
7 Lysbaereren
8 De Fortapte Sjelers Katedral

Mork - Katedralen

‘Katedralen’ will be available in both physical and digital formats on 5th March 2021 via Peaceville Records.

For more information go to:
https://www.facebook.com/MORKOFFICIAL
https://www.morkisebakke.no/

Nox Rocks II Lucia Metal Party livestream this weekend

Posted in Gig, Misc., News with tags , , , , , , , , on 8th December 2020 by izaforestspirit

The Swedish broadcasting media & production company Nox Rocks Live Events have teamed up with Stagedip, King2Music Records and Kingart Music Management to bring you a unique live stream experience called Nox Rocks II Lucia Metal Party. The event will be streamed worldwide live via the Nox Rocks website on 12th December – 13th December 2020 (Lucia Night) and it is scheduled to run for a grand total of 6 hours, 6 minutes and six seconds.

The line-up features a number of well renowned Swedish hard rock and metal artists including Europe, Hammerfall, Therion along with international artists such as King Diamond, Pretty Maids, Rainbow, Manowar and many others.

Italian Trulli

For tickets and more information visit: http://www.noxrocks.nu/
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/495643994747327

Hollywood Undead – New Empire, Vol. 2

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 6th December 2020 by Pieni

Hollywood Undead
“New Empire, Vol. 2”
Rap rock
Released: 4th December 2020
Via BMG / Dove & Grenade

vol2

“New Empire” is Hollywood Undead’s gold coin – volume 1 showing their heaviest side, and now volume 2 showing the exact opposite. Which one is better? Well, that’s the same as asking if a burger is better than chocolate cake – you can’t compare two things so different in their nature. What you can do is say what you like the most, and for some of you it may even depend on the mood you’re in (hence the food analogy). It’s really a case of personal taste.

“Idol” came out as first single and I can’t stop thinking how the choice marked the transition between the two records, with its dark and imposing pulse just as heavy as any other song on volume 1. I was going to say “intense” but that kind of applies to every track here, just on a more emotional level (as Danny said at some point). And when that powerful ballad “Coming Home” was released next, such emotional reference made total sense.

The opening track “Medicate” flows with an almost childish catchiness, a chipper song in contrast to its lyric content (medication against depression). The upbeat mood follows suit, a bit sharper now, with “Comin’ Thru The Stereo”, Hyro The Hero’s somewhat high pitched tone highlighting the first verses. Just like “Medicate”, singing along this one is almost mandatory.

The synth rap underlying “Ghost Out” adds a juicy rhythm but it’s the edgy riffing in “Gonna Be Okay” and the seductive one in “Unholy” that really rock me out.

There’s always a song or two in each album that I skip, as not even my open mind enjoys all their musical approaches. “Monsters” has some beautiful, deep lyrics but such dark hip hop isn’t my cup of tea at all, even if I’m able to acknowledge its greatness. As for “Worth It”, it is just too mellow. I believe it’s the first time a Hollywood Undead song can be called that, so kudos for the initiative. I just hope it doesn’t happen again.

I’ve left “Heart Of A Champion” for last not because it wraps up the record but because it’s probably my favorite song from volume 1 and I was a bit skeptical the first time I’ve heard of a new version. HU were on tour with Papa Roach and Ice Nine Kills when the pandemic broke out, so it was a nice touch bringing in Jacoby Shaddix and Spencer Charnas, but I was still afraid that it would ruin it. It didn’t (the video is a killer, too) – especially Spencer’s voice in the beginning -, even if I didn’t like to see J-Dog’s “compare me to none” verses cut out. It’s a bit like the two records: not better nor worse, just different.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

American Tears – Free Angel Express

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 6th December 2020 by Pieni

American Tears
“Free Angel Express”
Rock
Released: 23rd October 2020
Via Deko Music

FreeAngelExpress

The first thing you’ll feel when listening to American Tears is how seventies those melodies sound. Well, it’s more than a feeling: the band WAS founded in the early seventies, by songwriter and keyboard player Mark Mangold. I’m not sure if they split up and then reformed or if it was just a very long hiatus; all I know is that after releasing “Powerhouse” in 1977, “Hard Core” would see the light of day 41 (!!!) years later. It seems that Mangold wasn’t happy with the lack of “popular response” and I’m sorry to say that this “Free Angel Express” won’t change that.

The concept is interesting, a rock band based on keyboards, capturing such retro vibe; it’s the outcome that fails to keep up with the expectations. The fact that the album lasts almost one hour and a half doesn’t help, most songs raving for more than five minutes and eventually becoming tedious. A poor attempt to sound progressive? The erratic beats of “Not For Nothing” could indicate so, but such dissonance is more annoying than ingenious. The same with “Blue Rondo”, one of the few “short” tracks (4:02), but being instrumental, the ever-shifting patterns make it feel endless, and not in a positive way. American Tears is the kind of band that really should try the “less is more” adage.

I believe there will be some people happy to sing along the “oh ooooh” parts of “Sledgehammered” or gently rock their heads with their eyes closed to the ballad “Woke”, but it will hardly be a large number of them.

5/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Soilwork – A Whisp Of The Atlantic

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 1st December 2020 by Pieni

Soilwork
“A Whisp Of The Atlantic”
Metal
Released: 4th December 2020
Via Nuclear Blast Records

ATLANTICWHISP

Soilwork have been pushing the envelope of classy with every release for a few years now and “A Whisp Of The Atlantic” (even the title has a ring to it, hasn’t it?) keeps the tradition, this time sounding even more exquisite than before. I won’t talk about new directions as I don’t believe that’s what’s happening here – after all, they’ve always juggled with heavy and melodic; but the outcome is indeed… different.

Starting with the title-track, which is also the opening one. Sixteen and a half minutes?! But don’t worry, they haven’t gone progressive, the song just unfolds naturally for that long. The initial sound of the ocean mingles with a soft intro where you’ll recognize Soilwork’s signature right away, and then it takes an ominous turn with cranking guitars and all of a sudden you’re being blasted with fierce drum beats. Yep, “epic” turned out to be a literal term here. Also, the whole EP is a reminder of why Björn Strid is one of the best metal singers around, but the contrasts in this particular song between his coarse, harsh tones and the angelic ones are more highlighted, and so is the excellence of his vocal capacity. Finally, I have to mention the sax in the background during the last minute of the song, as we’re used to sad orchestral arrangements (like in the following song, “Feverish”) and having a sax, New-York-street style, was yet another refreshing trait, even if so subtle.

The other four songs have been rolling on YouTube for about a month (incredible videos, by the way) so I’ll just sum up what you’ve already had the chance to check for yourselves: between the feisty aggression of both “Feverish” and “Desperado”, and the edgy catchiness of “Death Diviner” and “The Nothingness And The Devil” (a Southern rock vibe in the former and a hint of NWOBHM in the guitars of the latter), you’ll find one of the boldest and most vibrant works in Soilwork’s discography.

9/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Vörst – Roots of a Frostbitten Land

Posted in Review with tags , on 1st December 2020 by izaforestspirit
 Vörst
 Roots of a Frostbitten Land
 Released 4th October 2020
 Raw Black Metal
 Self-Released
Vörst - From the Roots of a Frostbitten Land

‘Roots of a Frostbitten Land’ is the first EP from the Texas-based, American black metal artist Vörst. What an interesting location, and definitely not one that you would typically associate with black metal… The project was launched last year and the artist claims to have been brought up in the mountains by a family of “deathtrolls”. Right, this is going to be fun!

So after a few listens I can safely state that this belongs in the raw black metal category. It really sounds like it was recorded in someone’s basement to an audience consisting of the artist’s cat or dog and a possible sacrificial goat. The vocals, if I can even call them vocals, are grim as hell. They sound more like a wolf howling. My guess is that he was trying to sound like Abbath (ex-Immortal) but with only limited success. There is not much that I can say about the drums as they are mostly in the background, with the notable exception of Inside Satan’s Abyss where they add more variety to the song. The guitar work is gritty and unrefined but ultimately the best part of the music. I liked the guitar parts on City Witch, one of the more memorable tracks on here.

Overall, raw metal not meant to be pleasant to listen to. This is pretty much much what I expected to hear based on the description. Hardly a masterpiece but not an entire disaster for an artist allegedly raised by trolls.

5/10

Iza Raittila

Moonspell reveal new album details

Posted in Uncategorized on 21st November 2020 by izaforestspirit

The Portuguese Gothic band band Moonspell have recently announced that their new album, the follow-up to ‘1755’, will be called ‘Hermitage’. The album cover was designed by the Latvian artist Arthur Berzinsh.

Here’s the cover and track-listing:

Moonspell - Hermitage
  1. The Greater Good
  2. Common Prayers
  3. All or Nothing
  4. Hermitage
  5. Entitlement
  6. Solitarian
  7. The Hermit Saints
  8. Apophthegmata
  9. Without Rule
  10. City Quitter (Outro)

‘Hermitage’ will see the light of day on 26th February 2021 via Napalm Records in both physical and digital formats. The band have also made a video for the first single ‘The Greater Good’. Check it out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv-zHPEkZ4c&fbclid=IwAR0XCOrlE4VPav5-2fwkd_C-ccklJIH5jIEz_sf5Fha5QDRfcTrV3b46GEA

For further information go to: https://www.facebook.com/moonspellband

https://www.moonspell.com/

Peter Tägtgren leaves Lindemann project

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , , on 18th November 2020 by izaforestspirit

Till Lindemann and Peter Tägtgren have decided to end their partnership on the industrial metal project Lindemann after seven years and two successful albums. The Rammstein front-man Till Lindemann has retained rights to the Lindemann name and plans to continue project with a possible new line-up.

Lindemann was formed in 2013 as a collaboration between Till Lindemann (Rammstein) and Peter Tägtgren (Pain, Hypocrisy). Their last album ‘F & M’ was released last year. Their final work as a duo will be a live DVD of their show in Moscow 2020 which is expected to hit the shops in the spring 2021.

For more information visit: https://lindemann.band/

https://www.facebook.com/Lindemann/

Sorceress of Sin – Mirrored Revenge

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

Sorceress of Sin
Mirrored Revenge
Released 27th November 2020
Melodic Power Metal
Self-Released

Mirrored Revenge

‘Mirrored Revenge’ is the the debut album from a new addition to the British melodic power metal scene – Sorceress of Sin. The line-up includes singer, songwriter Lisa Skinner, her husband Paul Skinner on drums, guitarist Constantine Kanakis, bassist Topher O’Meagher (ex-Gehitka) and Tom Maclean (bass orchestrations). Their sound has been compared to the likes of Firewind, Helloween and Iron Maiden.

The main focus of this album appears to be the guitar work and Lisa Skinner’s powerful vocals. She has a good vocal range hitting the high notes with relative ease. So if you are fan of power metal with strong vocals, then this is the album for you. Luckily the vocals are not operatic and music is guitar- rather than keyboard-centric; otherwise this review would be riddled with Nightwish comparisons. There are keyboards but they are mostly in the background. The pace is varied but mostly energetic with the exception of one slower ballad-esque track Echoes of Existance. Speaking of that track, playing this was one of those moments that really reminded me of old Nightwish, mostly due to the vocals.

The rest of the album sounds much more uplifting, energetic and more importantly more like Iron Maiden than Nightwish. The title track, for instance, is packed with aggressive guitar work and dynamic vocals. Watch out, this vixen might have some virtue but she sure can bite! I also liked Aradia, another uplifting track with brisk guitar work and soaring vocals. Then there is fast and aggressive-sounding closing track Empyre of Stones – one of my favorites on here due to the catchy guitar riffs and powerful vocals. What a fun way to end the album on a high note. If you are not headbanging by this point, then you clearly do not like heavy metal.

Overall, ‘Mirrored Revenge’ was a pleasure to review. I didn’t enjoy the ballad but the rest of the album was definitely entertaining. Some power metal has the tendency to become cheesy after a few listens, this is not the case here. I would recommend it to fans of Iron Maiden and Helloween.

8/10

Iza Raittila





 

Dio – The Studio Collection 1996 – 2004

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Review with tags , , , , , , , , on 12th November 2020 by Mickelrath

Dio
Angry Machines / Magica / Killing The Dragon / Master of the Moon
Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Heavy Metal
Originally Release Year: 1996/2000/2002/2004
Release Date:  February 21, 2020 via BMG and Niji Entertainment Group Inc

If there is one band that I can safely say shaped how I hear music to this day I would definitely say Ronnie James Dio and his hard rock/heavy metal collective. Dio are up there as one of the many bands I would sit and listen to for hours on end. I remember my Dad playing me songs like Holy Diver, Rock ‘n’ Roll Children and many others which captivated my attention and informed my music taste. Ronnie James Dio, is an icon to the world of heavy metal. His distinct vocals and descriptive poetry are just the stuff of dreams for the genre. His heavy metal stories are still looked fondly upon today for any and all musicians. Simply put, if you listen, play or even pay the slightest attention to the genre then Dio is a famous and influential name. I remember sitting at my Dad’s computer desk listening to song after song from him and unknowingly learning how his influence is seen everywhere in the genre then and still to this day. 

As much as I would love to spend all day looking over the entire career of Ronnie, and maybe one day I will. Here, I will only be discussing 4 albums. The last four albums of the band Dio. 1996’s Angry Machines, 2000’s Magica, 2002’s Killing The Dragon and 2004’s Master of the Moon. Now, in 2020 we have been given remasters of these four albums and I have to say they sound really good. I mean, get yourself an up-to-date sound system and enjoy heavy metal in its purest form. Those last two albums are both albums that I got on their original release and listened to with my Dad but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’ll get to those.  Just as an opening statement about these remasters before we get properly started. They’re pretty good. If you like classic heavy metal done well and sounding nice and crisp, I would highly recommend picking up the new remasters.

Firstly, let’s cover the 1996 album Angry Machines. This would be the last studio album with the original drummer Vinnie Appice. It would also serve as the last studio album appearance from guitarist Tracy Grijalva. The main remaster of the original songs is really good. You get this fresh crisp sound to the songs and it sounds a lot better. The bass booms and the drumwork sounds commanding. The overall tone of the album feels bigger and some of my favourite tunes from the record like “Hunter of the Heart” and “Big Sister” sound so good in a whole new way. The opening song “Institutional Man” is a cold mechanical song that leads into the heart of the album’s themes really nicely. Themes of the de-humanisation of mankind and the really oppressive overtone. It’s one of the heavier albums from Dio. A mix of doom and stoner rock that thud along. The riffs coming through loud and powerful with the commanding vocals of Dio captivate and enthrall. This would probably be the album that most general hard rock fans might miss in the Dio repertoire and is certainly not the album that I would say best represents his finest work. However, I feel like as part of the 90’s metal scene it was a good fit. Metal being in that period of crossover between old school and new school. That battle rages on this record as you can hear glimpses of Dio’s old-school ways mixed with a smattering of different metal styling. It feels very much like a band that was throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck. Unless you’re a hardcore fan of Ronnie, this might be one to skip. 

5/10

Moving forward a few years let’s cover Ronnie’s record from 2000, Magica. This album marked the return of guitarist Craig Goldy, who also had performed on Dio‘s 1987 album Dream Evil and in the 2004’s Master of the Moon. Magica also features Jimmy Bain on bass and Simon Wright on drums. Ronnie produced this album and originally planned for it to be the first as part of a trilogy of concept albums and was planning to release them after touring with Heaven and Hell. Sadly, Dio passed away on May 16, 2010 and the only song released from this potential project was titled “Electra”, which is included on this remastered edition. This album feels like a Dio album of old with themes and stories of mysticism, swords and sorcery, tales of otherworldly places and pure fantasy. This is Dio’s bread and butter. The album contains a much brighter and more hopeful sounding band than Angry Machines with lighter guitar and tighter production. It feels so much more consistent and, for lack of a better term, like a Dio album. The guitar solos that Goldy provides are hard-hitting and powerful and coupled with the strong rhythm section played by Bain and Wright and you get music that has more of a beating heart. The opening selection of tunes really set a great tone and get you captivated in this concept album and get you invested in the story that Ronnie is trying to convey. The album just allows you to become lost in its aura, making the story moments intriguing and the pure rock ‘n’ roll moments a real treat. I could personally do without the small interludes breaking up the album, I suppose it’s to flesh out the concept but they don’t add much to the overall listening experience. It feels like it’s more there to pad out the run time. Which isn’t really necessary as the album is pretty lengthy as is. It’s weird listening to “Electra” today. A hint as to what was to come from this icon before his demise. Although the audio quality is not great from a musical perspective, Dio’s vocals are sublime and I feel robbed from the potential project that never was. I would love to hear what Magica II and III would have been. However, Magica itself was a pleasant listen and one worth revisiting to this day.

8/10

Jumping right along now to 2002 and what was my personal introduction to the master himself. It’s definitely up there as one of my favourite albums from Dio, Killing The Dragon. I was a 10 year old kid when this was initially released and I can remember spending time at my dad’s computer playing video games and listening to this record. This album introduced guitarist Doug Aldrich (of Whitesnake fame) to the band. Goldy co-wrote some of the songs before leaving the band and you can hear his fingerprints in places here. This would be their final album with bassist Jimmy Bain. I love this album so much. Like everything about it. This album was such a huge part of my heavy metal christening. It led me to so many bands and informed so much of my personal music taste that I couldn’t really put it into words. Hearing this remaster is quite nice, the songs are just as powerful today as they were back in the day. Aldrich’s solos are very different from previous guitarists. Much more flash and flair to them, more effect pedals were used and they feel much more freeform. It’s like Aldrich was improvising on the day of recording. Though, if you listen carefully, each part is so well constructed and he uses the songs to just build and build. Songs like “Better in the Dark” and “Along Comes a Spider” just evoke that classic Dio sound that old fans, no doub, would love. Dio, sounds so lively here. His vocals are as excellent as ever and you are reminded of why he is the legend he is. The titular “dragon” of the album title refers to modern technology. Dio has expressed his concerns with it possibly threatening society in the future and felt like we needed to rebel against it. I think that in 2020 and the world now revolving around smart technology and peoples reliance on it, this album is more prevalent than ever. The album has some dark themes amongst the bright hopeful rock n roll. Songs like “Throw Away The Children”, “Guilty” and the title track “Killing The Dragon” have very foreboding lyrics. Yet, the heavily charged rock music keeps the pace of the album going and at no point does it linger. Dio gets in, makes his points and gets out. Leaving you with heavy moral questions and entertaining you at the same time. There’s just so much to ponder and enjoy with this album and it’s why I love it so much!

10/10

Finally on this review-rollercoaster, our last section will take us to 2004 and the final ever Dio album, Master of the Moon. If Ronnie has to leave his name-saken band with any sort of legacy, Master of the Moon is not a bad one to leave it on. For this album we see the return of Craig Goldy on guitars, Simon Wright on the drums and long time collaborator Scott Warren  on the keyboard. On bass guitar for this record Dio had Jeff Pilson, from Dokken. A commanding line up and one that delivered a damn fine album. Though, for me personally I don’t enjoy it as much as Killing The Dragon, objectively this is a good record. Deep themes interlaced with well constructed hard rock music with well performed instrumentals and Dio singing his heart out. The production is well put together with every piece of instrumentation doing their work and it all comes together really nicely. Yet, ultimately there feels like there’s something missing. There’s no standout songs, the album just blends together. If we’re comparing all of the remasters in this review, this lacks the aggression of Angry Machines, the imagination of Magica and the passion and persistent drive of Killing The Dragon. It mostly serves its purpose of more Dio music. It’s decently written and competently performed however it lacks that real power that would capture your attention. It’s not even hitting that nostalgia vibe as it doesn’t really capture the 80’s Dio sound that made him famous. It’s not bad by any means however, revisiting this albumin this remaster it just hits the middle of the road. Which is not what you want from the larger than life metal icon. 

6/10

This remaster adventure has been really fun and made me really think about what I look for in a Dio record which makes me think about my taste in heavy metal in general. The man was a legend, no doubt. His star will never fade and my love for his music will never die. He had one of the most complete and commanding careers in the genre. He worked with so many musicians and was a complete product of his era, which informed the genres of rock and heavy metal to a great extent. For me, he was an eye opener. Someone I truly looked up to and it pains me to this day that I never got the opportunity to see him in concert. A true master of his craft and a respective icon for generations to come.

Mick Birchall

Bodom After Midnight enter the studio

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , , , on 11th November 2020 by izaforestspirit

Good news for Children of Bodom fans. When the band split up last year, their front-man Alexi Laiho formed a new band called Bodom After Midnight with rhythm guitarist Daniel Freyberg (also ex-Children of Bodom), drummer Waltteri Väyrynen (Paradise Lost) and bassist Mitja Toivonen (Santa Cruz).

Now after a handful of small but successful shows in their native Finland the quartet have entered Finnox studio in Helsinki to record their debut album. The latest update is that the drum work is complete. The album has no title nor has there been any mention of whether there will keyboard player joining the line-up. They have yet to announce when the new album will be released but it will most likely not happen until 2021.

Photo by Mika Jussila
Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/pg/bodomaftermidnightofficial/