Novacrow – Look At Me Now

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 24th September 2022 by Mickelrath

Novacrow
Look At Me Now
Alt. Rock, Hard Rock, Alt. Metal
Released: 30th September 2022
Self Released

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I’ve written about Novacrow. Since I first heard about them, I’ve always thought that their music is special. Their unique mix of alternative rock horror-core, industrial and stoner rock makes for an enjoyable listening experience. Basically, if you like Black Moth but think it could do with more Arthur Brown and Alice Cooper influences, then Novacrow might be a band you would want to listen to. Their new album Look At Me Now is an absolute hoot of a record with fun catchy hooks, playful lyricism and creative production choices that stand far above any previous releases. I can’t tell you how much I’ve been waiting for an album like this again. Music that takes extreme pleasure in being entertaining without being bogged down in its own themes or concepts. It’s like the musical version of a B-movie. Fun, engaging and memorable. 

Genuinely, I think this album is in a whole other ballpark compared to previous albums. Novacrow has really done something with this album. The album hits all areas of the rock and metal genres and still comes out as one cohesive whole. I mean they’ve always been a playful band, dipping their toes into elements of horrorcore and coming up with weird concepts like “Fever Swamp” and “Fight The Horde”. Yet, this album feels like it stands heads and shoulders above them. For a starter, they’ve clearly tightened up their production. The instrumentation sounds absolutely amazing. All the musical elements blend so well together. The ominous guitars, the booming bass and drums and the vocals make such an impact. It all feels so glorious. Even the moments where the growled vocals come in, it feels like a natural extension of the songs. I especially like the electronic elements that twinkle and sparkle all over the tracks. Giving the music that literal extra character. 

But Mick… What about the lyrics and songwriting? Yeah, they absolutely nail that too. You see Novacrow are an atmosphere-driven band. So, if the atmosphere feels like a bad Halloween dug trip, I think they would call that mission accomplished. I think the songs work in their own little bubble to as they have a really good knack for writing catchy hooks and riffs that will get stuck in your head. Songs like “Medusa Medusa” and “It’s Alive” are certainly strong contenders for the best tracks on the album if you’re looking for straight-up solid rock songs. However, they have made some more, shall we say, out-there songs that are just flat-out fascinating to listen to. “Frankenfiiine” fits this a lot more, with its 60s-inspired groove that feels like it’s out of the jam-band era. 

Needless to say, I absolutely loved this album. It feels so good to have new music from Novacrow. Their brand of unique insanity is just what is needed in a sea of bands that are either trying too hard to sound like their idols or just sound like everything else on rock radio. Not them though, they are just being them. Which I really admire. So if you want something a little out there but still well within the confines of hard rock, this is an album worth checking out at least once. 

9/10

Mick Birchall

Laurus Nobilis Music Fest 2022 – 1st day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 22nd September 2022 by Pieni

Manowar, Vëlla, Rhapsody Of Fire, Jardim Letal, DarkTribe, M.E.D.O., Via Sacra
Louro, Famalicão (PT)
Promoted by Associação Ecos Culturais do Louro
21st July 2022

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The two-year hiatus COVID-19 forced into Laurus Nobilis Music  Famalicão – now Laurus Nobilis Music Fest – is over and they’re back… well, not stronger than before, but just as strong. Sure, Manowar is probably the biggest name they’ve had in all their six bills and their fans gathered the biggest audience so far, but it’s just one band – it shouldn’t define a whole festival.

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Portugal has a rich rock and metal underground, so promoters try not to repeat names as much as they can. But Via Sacra is a local band and has been working on some new material (finally, as “The Road” is still their one and only full-length album after 10 years of its release), so it made perfect sene that they were back at opening the festival, just like they did in 2016. A more vivid performance (more because of the line-up changes rather than experience acquired) which ended with the new single “Rock ‘N’Roll”. This should be worth of mentioning just for the novelty itself, but the real highlight stands in the fact that little Gabriel (singer Jimmy’s son) got on stage to play guitar, with such a rock star attitude that melted everyone’s hearts.

www.facebook.com/viasacraband

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Despite the two stages, the slightly bigger one was destined just for the two “main” bands (Manowar and Rhapsody Of Fire) of this first day, meaning the action kept taking place on the smaller one. So no need to get far – unless you didn’t like hardcore, which was what came next. M.E.D.O. were one guitarist short for this gig but that didn’t slow them or the slamdancers down. I honestly don’t know if the latter were specific fans of the band or just the genre’s, but they seemed to have a lot of fun to some of the most popular songs, like “Órfão Orgulhoso”, “Apartheid Ambiental” or “Cegueira”.

www.facebook.com/medofshc

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When DarkTribe got on stage next, I noticed the drummer kept looking at the computer by his side and I joked to myself “the drummer needs a cheat sheet”. Then I saw his face and I thought he was familiar, but since DarkTribe was a French power metal band that I was seeing for the first time, chances of knowing the guy were pretty slim. And THEN I saw he was wearing a t-shirt of Metalpoint (a famous underground venue in Porto). So I looked at his face again and finally recognized Gaspar Ribeiro, the Portuguese drummer of Equaleft and Wrath Sins. Singer Anthony Agnello would say at some pont that their own drummer told them he couldn’t make it to Laurus just the day before and they almost cancelled the trip. But the promoters promised they knew just the right guy for the job and just in a couple of hours, Gaspar learnt the set list and nailed it. “Fire your drummer!” someone yelled from the audience, making everybody laugh, but the way he played songs like “Prism Of Memory” or “Voici L’Homme” (title-track of their third and latest album) was no joke.

www.facebook.com/DarktribeOfficial

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What seemed like a joke was the band that came next (no offense). Jardim Letal fit more in some town festivities than a metal festival, sounding more like a pop band than the rock one they claim to be. And not even mainstream pop, which could somehow entertain the crowd. Their only album “Silêncio” was released in 1996, which puzzled me even more regarding their presence, but there they were – and people took the chance to grab something to eat.

www.facebook.com/jardimletal

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Rhapsody Of Fire, on the other hand, was a great choice. I confess I had no idea there were so many fans of theirs in Portugal, but then again, a lot of Spanish were present, and no matter how many albums they release, the Rhapsody legacy left by Luca Turilli and Fabio Lione will always have its weight. The proof is how much louder the crowd sang “Dawn Of Victory” or the mandatory “Emerald Sword”, even if they got a major feedback throughout the whole set list (“I’ll Be Your Hero” and “Son Of Vengeance” seemed to be favorites). It was great to see so much happiness on and off stage. They should have played longer.

www.facebook.com/rhapsodyoffire

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A lot of people stayed in front of the main stage, saving their spot for Manowar, but Vëlla had a considerably large crowd watching them – enough to build the first real mosh circle of the festival and first wave of crowdsurfers making their way into the security’s arms. Call them modern, call them alternative – what really matters is that both “Coma” and the latest “Entity Vol. 1” have received great reviews, and when it comes to live performances, everybody goes wild. Equaleft-Miguel co-sang “The Promise” but one presence I’d have happily dismissed was the girl filming the gig with her phone, always popping up in different places of the stage. Pretty annoying.

www.facebook.com/vellamusicofficial

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We were first told that there would be no photographers in the pit for Manowar (well, we could for thirty seconds – ha ha ha – so none of us would bother…). Then we were told that we could shoot the usual first three songs after all (which surprised us more than the thirty seconds joke, in all honesty). But when we were all already lined up in front of the stage, the head security came rushing us out of there, saying Manowar didn’t want anyone in the pit. In a later statement though, the festival promoters apologized, saying that it had nothing to do with the band but problems with the fire machine – which ended up not working at all – and they were afraid it would spit flames right on us… Whatever the truth was, I didn’t bother and try shooting from the crowd – just a few pics of the monitors with my phone. I’m not exactly the biggest Manowar fan myself, although of course I remember some songs from my highschool years, but watching that legion of fans go ecstatic was a blissful sensation. “Manowar”, “Kings Of Metal”, “Warriors Of The World United”, “Carry On”, “Black Wind, Fire And Steel”… almost everyone sang along every single word, I dare saying even louder than the “one-million-dollars PA” the band had on stage. The encore included a “small” speech from Joey DeMaio, where he explained how hard was to produce a good show and that’s why they sometimes cancelled them, how he and the whole band didn’t care about haters, that they should live a long and miserable life knowing that Manowar had the best fans in the world. Then he called on stage the three men behind Laurus (there’s more, obviously, but those were the ones he had direct contact with), responsible for bringing Manowar to that small town of Famalicão. I confess I was touched. Attending this festival since its first edition and witnessing it growing to the point where a renowned artist such as DeMaio acknowledges the promoters’ efforts was way better than listening to “Heart Of Steel” (the one song I know the full lyrics to and which they didn’t play).

www.facebook.com/manowar

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Fallujah – Empyrean

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 19th September 2022 by Pieni

Fallujah
“Empyrean”
Progressive/technical death metal
Released: 9th September 2022
Via Nuclear Blast

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Fallujah have been releasing new material every 2-3 years but I was really curious about this “Empyrean” – after seeing them live back in 2019 and both bassist Rob Morey and singer Antonio Palermo making quite an impression, learning about their departure made me want to check how the new line-up would do. Well, it does pretty good – the bass lines are grooving loudly and the vocals still brutal.

I don’t know if it’s because they started out as a deathcore band, but their technical traits don’t go over the edge. Sure you have tempo twists and elaborate spinning riffs, but not in a wait-what-happened kind of way; the songs grow naturally towards such intersections and lead into beautiful pieces such as “The Bitter Taste Of Clarity” or “Duality Of Intent” (the latter bearing a slight jazzy vibe quite interesting).

They’ve worked with Tori Letzler before and brought her back for the brilliant “Radiant Ascension” and the brisky “Artifacts”, inviting also Katie Thomson for the seductive “Embrace Oblivion” and the melting “Into The Eventide” (my personal favorite). But I believe these guest appearances are more intended for a contrast/completing effect with Kyle Shaefer’s voice than actually adding a female touch; as for the demonic pitch of Chaney Crabb on “Soulbreaker”, well, that’s definitely extramundane.

All in all, “Empyrean” offers the right combination of features to make happy a prog & tech death metal fan.

8/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Hate and Vader live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 6th September 2022 by izaforestspirit

Thy Disease, Hate, Vader
YO-Talo, Tampere, Finland
5th September 2022

I may have said this before, but it feels awesome to be able to attend a live show without having to worry about any of the pandemic restrictions. There’s something special about a physical concert that you just can’t recreate with a live-stream, no matter how good the production quality might be. This time I opted for a night of Polish death metal. I’ve been a fan of Vader ever since I was a teenager. The blackened death metal band Hate was one of the last bands I went to see in early 2020 just before the coronavirus pandemic began. So needless to say I was looking forward to seeing them live again.

I arrived at the venue just as the opening act Takalaiton were playing their final song. I can’t comment much on their performance other than that sounded like fairly decent Finnish thrash metal. So not a bad start to the night.

Next up was an American melodic black metal band called The Noctambulant. They may not have had the biggest crowd, but their music was definitely my kind of atmospheric black metal. I enjoyed their show, particularly their cover of Sisters of Mercy’s ‘Lucretia My Reflection’.

Industrial death metal isn’t my favorite genre, but I have to admit that Thy Disease were good at what they do. They managed to attract a sizable crowd and keep everyone entertained. It was an energetic show, which was fun to watch even if the music isn’t exactly my style.

The first time that I saw Hate live two years ago, they were one of the support bands and their performance lasted only half an hour. This time they were one of the main acts, so I really got my money’s worth. This was a terrific show filled with bleak blackened death metal tunes both old and new ones from their latest album ‘Rugia’. They really know how to agitate the crowd too. It didn’t take long before I was head-banging along with the others.

Then it was time for the main act, my favorites Vader. They managed to get a mosh-pit going at the start of the second song, and it was full steam ahead from that point onward. It’s great to see how much energy their front-man Peter still has, even after thirty years in the death metal scene. Their guitarist Spider did a fantastic job too. They played many of the hits including: my personal favorite ‘Carnal’, ‘Black To The Blind’, ‘Chaos’, ‘Silent Empire’ and many others.

In summary, it was a very entertaining way to spend a Monday night, head-banging to my favorite death metal bands. I’m glad that I finally got to see a full performance by Hate. I made a new discovery with The Noctumblant. Let’s hope that there will be more memorable live shows this year.

Santa Cruz – The Return Of The Kings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 4th September 2022 by Mickelrath

Santa Cruz
The Return Of The Kings
Sleaze Rock, Hard Rock, Glam Rock
Released: 26th August 2022
via M-Theory Audio

Oh wow! Santa Cruz is back with a brand new lineup and attitude. This band has definitely had its highs and lows. However, throughout the turmoil, they managed to keep a fairly consistent output over the year. This new record, The Return Of The Kings, is the follow-up to the 2019 album Katharsis which in itself was a rebranding of the band. So, let’s call this Santa Cruz version three. For this record front-man, Archie Cruz put together a new lineup that consisted of Jerry Jade on guitar, Tommy Bradley on bass and Randy McDemian on drums. Say what you will about the new lineup, but the new songs are relatively enjoyable. 

The album opens on the lead single “Here Comes The Revolution” and this sets the album up pretty well. From the first riff, you know exactly what you’re in store for, it’s a hard rock record with elements of sleaze and glam rock. It hits quite hard and from the first few moments of the album, I was enjoying myself and it kept escalating from there. One thing I know about Archie Cruz is that he knows how to write a hook. On every single track here there’s an insidious little ear-worm that keeps you locked into the song. In particular, on the closing track “Stay”, which got stuck in my head long after my listening sessions with this record. I feel like everything is so tightly written here. Every song has that little punch that keeps the momentum going. Be it the anthemic qualities of “1000 Cigarettes” and “Disarm” to the hard-hitting and tight-sounding “Take Me To America” from a writing perspective the music is great. It’s definitely something that I can listen to on repeat without getting bored. 

The production is fine however not spectacular. It’s pretty much the standard for hard rock. A lot of guitar and drums in the foreground with the bass in the mix but not really punching through. Not a bad thing but it feels pretty plain. Archie’s vocals are a mixed bag. I could perfectly understand someone not liking his voice. If you’re not into a lot of sleaze rock or modern glam rock this vocal style could get pretty grating. I’ll admit at times I wasn’t into it as he can be a little grating. However, the songs are so well-written that it almost saves it. In terms of the production, everything is clear. I mean, it’s not like the production was muddy or too heavy, it just didn’t land as effectively as I think they wanted it to. 

Yeah, this one is fine. Santa Cruz will always be a jack of all trades in rock music. They’re proficient at most things but never really excel at anything. They’re somewhere in the middle. The new lineup is mostly doing the same as the previous ones. It’s very clear Archie is at the wheel of the helm as so many different lineups shouldn’t sound this much alike. However, it’s fairly consistent with the rest of their material. I like the album, there are enough catchy songs and the production is good enough that it doesn’t make me turn it off. Like I said, I was never bored or had any super negative reaction to the music. It’s fine but I don’t think I can go much higher than fine. Out of 10, this album is between a 6 and 7 but closer to a 7. Though, that could change on re-listens in the future for me.

7/10

Mick Birchall

Hollywood Undead – Hotel Kalifornia

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 13th August 2022 by Pieni

Hollywood Undead
“Hotel Kalifornia”
Rap rock
Released: 12th August 2022
Via BMG / Dove & Grenade

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Every Hollywood Undead record is a box of surprises. If you thought “CHAOS” meant “Hotel Kalifornia” would follow the heaviness of “New Empire – Vol. 1”, then “Wild In These Streets” came and delivered that hip hop vibe they’ve started with in “Swan Songs”. In the end, all 14 tracks fire up in every kind of direction – pretty much like their whole discography – but with a feeling of “more” to each trait.

The drum patterns are more vibrant (“CHAOS”, “Hour Glass”), the guitars and bass are rougher and more striking (“Reclaim”, “Dangerous”), there’s more actual singing – not just from Danny (“City Of The Dead”, “Alright”) – while the rapping sounds more intense (“Trap God”, “Go To War”), the catchiness of songs such as “Happy When I Die” or “Alone At The Top” so much richer… Everything’s heightened, whether it comes from a more menacing nature or a more fetching one. And it’s funny how Hollywood Undead fuse so many styles, to the point where calling them “rap rock” doesn’t cover it (even if it’s the closest label to what they do), and yet manage to craft such a unique identity. The chorus to “Dangerous”, for instance, could fit in any Rage Against The Machine or Clawfinger track, but the song as a whole is definitely HU.

I won’t say it’s their best album so far, as each has its own signature, making it senseless to compare works so different from one another. But I will say that “Hotel Kalifornia” is probably the one where they’ve got the most out of their songwriting and performance skills.

9/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

SOiL – Play It Forward

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

SOiL
Play It Forward
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Released: 26th August 2022
via Cleopatra Records

It’s been quite a long time since we’ve heard from cult heavy metal, SOiL. They have kept their following for over 20 years now. Since their 2 mammoth hits “Halo” and “Unreal”. After their 2013 album Whole and the unfortunate health concerns of singer Ryan McCombs, they have stayed largely quiet. Now, they’re back with a new album Play It Forward. A new album filled with covers of songs that the band have found meaningful and have helped them through the rough times of the past few years. As much as I was craving new material from the band, I have to admit it’s really good to hear them playing again. Even if it’s hit songs from the likes of Neil Young, Foo Fighters and Halsey

There should be no surprise that they took the original songs and added their own individual flair to the tracks. The production is loud on muddy in that early 2000’s nu-metal way. The guitars grind away with the thumping bass pounding on the low end of the production. For some songs like White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss ‘65” and Motörhead’s “No Voices In The Sky” this works fine and sounds pretty much like a straight-up like-for-like cover version. However, when you give this tuned-down bombastic production to Halsey’s “Nightmare” or “What’s It Like” by Everlast, it changes the core foundation of the songs and really gives them a new identity. 

Ryan McCombs’ vocals add a pretty interesting layer to these songs. You’ve never heard these songs sung like this before. His low temperate growls and unique inflections add a great final touch to these songs. Giving that growl and intensity to Foo Fighters’ “Monkey Wrench” and The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated”. It all comes together in such a magical way. A real mixtape adventure of a listening experience. 

After so long with no new music from SOiL it’s really great to have them back. It’s nice to know that band played these covers with so much vigour and passion. Songs that clearly mean a lot to the band. That’s the magic of music. It can lift us out of the dark times and with these covers, the band could potentially allow their audience to discover songs they may never had the chance to. Would I have preferred a new album of original material? Yes, absolutely! However, I feel this could tide the fans over until that day arrives.

7/10

Mick Birchall

Iron Maiden live in Warsaw

Posted in Gig, Interview with tags , , , , , on 27th July 2022 by izaforestspirit

Lord Of The Lost, Within Temptation, Iron Maiden
PGE Narodowy (National Stadium),
Warsaw, Poland
24 July 2022

It’s been a long while since I’ve written anything for this site. I’ve been busy with other projects. I’m about to release my debut book, an anthology of fantasy short stories inspired by Tolkien and mythology on Amazon this autumn. I’m also writing a new novel set in the same universe and a sequel is already at the editing phase. With a bit of luck I can release it next year.

I recently went on holiday with my family to Poland. As well as to visiting the zoo in Łódz; an interactive science museum; a military museum and lots of fun stuff for kids, the undisputed highlight of the holiday for me and my husband was the Iron Maiden gig at the stadium in Warsaw.

We arrived there a little early, with plenty of time to grab some cold beers and a zapienkanka (one of my favorite vegetarian snacks) which is an elaborate form of cheese on toast with mushrooms and a generous amount of ketchup. Then it was time to check out the first band, German Gothic metal band Lord of the Lost. I’m a big fan of their work but this time their set had a little too many ballads for my liking. Luckily they played some of my favorites including ‘Dry The Rain’, ‘Loreley’, ‘Die Tomorrow’ and ‘Born With A Broken Heart’. So, a decent show but I’ve seen better from these guys.

I never understood the hype behind Within Temptation. As far as Gothic metal goes, for me they have always been in the ‘solid but nothing groundbreaking’ -category. No match for bands like Nightwish or Epica. At least they played ‘Stand My Ground’ as that’s the only song I recognized.

Then it was finally time for the headliners. Iron Maiden started out slow with some ballads from the new album ‘Senjutsu’. Then after ‘The Writing On The Wall’, they began a cavalcade of hits including most of the crowd favorites such as ‘Run To The Hills’, ‘Fear of The Dark, ‘Hallowed By They Name’ and ‘Number of The Beast’. Their show had an impressive range of pyrotechnics and stage props including a samurai Eddie, sword-fighting Eddie and a fighter plane replica for ‘Aces High’.

In summary, both me and my husband had a great time. It was one hell of an evening and a great way to celebrate the end of a good holiday.

New Suicide Commando album out later this month

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 4th July 2022 by izaforestspirit

Good news for fans of Harsh EBM and industrial music. The new album from Belgian Harsh EBM artist Johan van Roy, better known as Suicide Commando. The long awaited follow up to ‘Forest of The Impaled’ will be entitled ‘Goddestructor’. This will be a double record with a 11 new songs and a bonus remix album featuring artists such as C-Lekktor and Assemblage 23.

You can check out the cover and track-listing below:

CD1
01 KILL ALL HUMANITY
02 I’D DIE FOR YOU (v2.0)
03 GOD OF DESTRUCTION
04 JESUS FREAK
05 STERBEHILFE (EUTHANASIA 2021)
06 DESTROYER OF WORLDS
07 LAND OF ROSES
08 BANG BANG BANG
09 SIN
11 BUNKERB!TCH (CENSORED)

CD2
01 God of destruction – Cryo remix
02 Sterbehilfe – Rob Dust remix
03 I’d die for you – Assemblage 23 remix
04 Jesus freak – Dead When I Found Her remix
05 Bang bang bang – C-lekktor remix
06 Bunkerb!tch – F U C K B O T remix
07 Jesus freak (die in agony)
08 Sterbehilfe – FGFC820 remix
09 Destroyer of worlds – Nano Infect remix
10 Kill all humanity – Tactical Sekt remix
11 I’d die for you – Elektro Terapi remix

‘Goddestructor’ will be released in a range of digital and physical formats on 22 July 2022 via Out of Line Records.

For more information visit:

https://suicidecommando.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/IIXIII

Less than a month until Laurus Nobilis returns

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 25th June 2022 by Pieni

In 2015, we brought you coverage of the 1st edition of Portuguese Summer festival Laurus Nobilis Music Famalicão – back then, with only one day dedicated to metal (see here). It would take them two more years/editions until they went full metal and fill the bill with only the kind of bands we most like. And then in 2020 COVID happened. 

Like so many other festivals and concerts in general, the festival was forced to postpone its edition, and if it had been possible to make it in 2021, the bill would have be the same. But for the same reason it wasn’t and for 2022 it suffered some major changes, like headliners As I Lay Dying not making it. On the other hand, it was the right opportunity for legendary Manowar to step in and include Portugal on their farewell tour – a country where they have a legion of fans and haven’t played in quite a while. That combined with all the other bands, our guess is that it’s going to be a blast of a return.

All detailed info can be found at https://www.laurusnobilis.pt/, in English, French, Portuguese or Spanish.

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R.A.M.P. w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 17th June 2022 by Pieni

R.A.M.P., Equaleft, Blame Zeus
Hard Club (Sala 2), Porto (PT)
10th June 2022
Promoted by Notredame Productions

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The name R.A.M.P. may not mean much (or anything at all) to you, but ask any Portuguese metalhead about them and you’ll realize they’re quite a legend in their home country. So when they release a new album – especially since it’s been 13 (?!) years since the last one -, crisis or not, you can count with an almost sold out venue.

It wasn’t really full when Blame Zeus got on stage though. Despite being a national holiday and I’m-running-late-because-I’m-working not being a valid excuse, people have this weird tendency of skipping the opening act..

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First thing I’ve noticed was the absence of bassist Bruno Branco, and I feared that another line-up change was on the way, but no – right after the first song “How To Successfully Implode”, Sandra Oliveira explained he “just” had tested positive for COVID (yes, kids, it is still a thing) the night before, giving them no time to find a suitable replacement. So backtracks and guitarist Tiago Lascasas swapping instruments on a couple of songs did the trick.

As they didn’t have long, they went with a classy selection mostly focused on their latest work ”Seethe”. Sandra first mentioned it as “new” but admitted right away that it didn’t make sense to call it such, as it had been released in late 2019 already; it just felt like that since the pandemic didn’t allow them to promote it properly.

R.A.M.P.-Rui Duarte is featured in the studio version of “Down To Our Bones”, so I knew who and which song would follow when Sandra announced a “very special guest”. I won’t say it was the highlight of the show, as it would wrongly take away Blame Zeus’ own merit, but it was indeed special.  “Burning Fields” ended a heavy-rock-prog performance that, even as a 4-piece, they delivered distinctively.

https://www.facebook.com/BlameZeus

equaleft22When Equaleft got on stage the place was already packed. After their concert in November 2021, they were supposed to stay off the road and work on the successor to “We Defy”, but this is already their second show (and more are to follow) without any news of the 3rd full length album; I guess the “call of the live” is just too strong to these groovers, and given the response they get every time, I can say we all love them for that. Even if it’s been quite a while since they’ve played “Invigorate”, with singer Miguel Inglês commanding the mosh circles with a Star Wars lightsaber (got the hint, lads?). Now that command is done more directly, with him and bassist André Matos jumping into the crowd and moshing around with them.

From the opening “Fragments” to the closing “Strive”, going through “Human” or “We Defy”, the frenzy on and off stage was everlasting. And it went on a bit after the last chord, as everyone struggled to reach forward and get one of the cookies that Miguel gives at the end of each Equaleft show.

https://www.facebook.com/equaleft

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It was then time to get to know how “Insidiously” sounded live. Released on April 1st via Rastilho Records, it’s no fool’s treat, believe me.The show began just like the record, with “Catatonic”, but it wasn’t a played-in-full kind of presentation; they just picked the songs which would work better on stage and mixed them with classics such as “How” or “Black Tie”. Of course these were the ones who almost made Hard Club come tumbling down with our roaring-along, but most of us also sang the newest. Hell, there was a guy next to me who knew all the lyrics better than Rui Duarte himself!

There were also all kinds of dedications – songs dedicated to those who don’t “follow the herd”, songs dedicated to those who have been betrayed, songs dedicated to those who keep on giving their best… I thought it was really funny dedicating“Alone” – probably their most sentimental ballad – to their “pals in the festival Um Metaleiro Também Chora” (which is Portuguese for “metalheads cry too”, and yes, such festival does exist), but even though I can’t remember which one it was (like I said, too many dedications…), what touched me the most was the one to Nando, former singer of another legend – currently extinct – W.C. Noise, who was there enjoying the show like there was no tomorrow. What can I say? I’m a sucker for these old school bonds.

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After the very last “Try Again” (featured in a 3-song encore), Rui introduced the band, leaving guitarist and founding member Ricardo Mendonça (“a man who needs no introduction”) for last – and I swear I saw his eyes watering with grateful happiness. Rui thanked us for these 34 years of full support and that even being far apart (well, nowadays 300km isn’t really that far, but “back in the day” it was), Porto was always in their hearts. Who cares if it sounds like a cliché when we know it’s true and feel exactly the same way?

https://www.facebook.com/rampoficial

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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 w/ support – Madrid, Spain

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 29th May 2022 by Pieni

CrashDïet, Shiraz Lane, King Zebra
Sala Caracol, Madrid (ES)
25th May 2022
Promoted by Madness Live

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The golden age of glam & sleaze rock may have officially been the eighties, but there are a handful of bands capable of convincing you that such age is now. CrashDïet is one of them. After the “Rust” tour being cancelled due to the heinous pandemic in 2020, the release of “Automaton” late last month provided a payback in spades.

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The doors opened about 15 minutes after scheduled, but King Zebra got on stage at the announced time (19:30). Not sure of how many people knew the Swiss – I didn’t and yet I found myself singing along the catchy choruses of songs such as “We’re The Survivors” or “Under Destruction”, so maybe the words also got easily into other people’s brains – but everybody seemed real happy to see them. Thundermother’s Guernica Mancini wasn’t at the show, but King Zebra played “Wall Of Confusion” just the same and singer Eric St. Michaels was clearly proud of having such collaboration in the band’s discography. It was “Firewalker”, however – a song “very popular on Spotify” – that raised the spirits of the crowd a bit higher than they already were.

https://www.facebook.com/KINGZEBRA.band

shzln20221Shiraz Lane, on the other hand, had a lot of enthusiastic fans waiting for them. What a roar exploded at Sala Caracol when they hit the stage! They haven’t released a full-length album since “Carnival Days”, back in 2018, but its follow-up should be out soon, as a few new songs are already rolling on YouTube. One of them, “Disconnect From The Matrix”, was posted two days after this show but the Finns already graced us with it. Such a fiery performance from all members, but it was obviously singer Hannes Kett who had the chance to dance and jump around more, as well as bond with the audience with heartfelt speeches. When announcing the last song – which got a loud “NO!” in response, especially when Hannes said they had to play the following night for “your friends in Barcelona” (I wonder if there’s any country with no rivalry between its major cities…) – he said we must remember that love is the most important thing, more than ever. Then their own version of Savage Garden’s “To The Moon And Back” was on and in the last moments of it, Hannes went into the crowd to sing among us.

https://www.facebook.com/ShirazLane

CDT20223I believe Gabriel Keyes was somewhat sick, or at least tired. Wait, let me rephrase it – his voice might have been tired, ‘cause the way he rocked that stage through and through was evidence of a powerful energy. It was the first time I was seeing him live, but I’d seen videos – including the Quarantine Thrills – so I know what his voice is capable of outside a recording studio. Changing the higher pitches into lower ones in order to not go out of tune was a bit disappointing at first, but eventually I got used to it and had to appreciate the effort (one CrashDïet gig cancelled was enough in my book). I’m still bummed that they didn’t play “Shine On”, though, as it’s probably my favorite song out of “Automaton” and I know they had played it in the previous dates of the tour. But listening to so many “oldies” such as “Tikket”, “It’s A Miracle” (dedicated to all of us, for being there after all the world’s been through in the past couple of years), “Breakin’ The Chainz” and “Queen Of Obscene” (yes, and “Riot In Everyone”, of course, but that one is mandatory) certainly made up for the absence of my most recent fav track. Curiously enough, despite being the “Automaton Tour”, they’ve only played two songs off it – “Together Whatever”,which opened the show and made everyone go wild right from the start, and later on “No Man’s Land”. And from “Rust”, the first album featuring Gabriel, only “Reptile” came up. It’s great to see he feels so comfortable singing all those songs he didn’t originally record – they’re CrashDïet songs and he’s their current (hopefully last!) lead singer. Period!

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More or less in the middle of the show, he stepped off stage (maybe to rest his voice?) and let guitarist Martin Sweet sing a Nirvana song (“Territorial Pissings”). What an unexpected blast, and I don’t even like Nirvana that much! What I wasn’t expecting either was to see both King Zebra and Shiraz Lane members getting on stage and singing “Generation Wild” at the end of the show That’s the kind of thing that usually happens when wrapping up tours so it’s quite an understatement to say I was really glad that these bands don’t go by “the usual”.  

https://www.facebook.com/realcrashdiet

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

New Behemoth album coming in September

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , on 11th May 2022 by izaforestspirit

The legendary Polish blackened death metal band Behemoth have just announced that their new album, the follow up to ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ will be entitled ‘Opvs Contra Natvram’. Here’s what their front-man Nergal had to say about it:

The album title means ‘going against the current’. It’s the negative of the values and morals and ethics that I, Nergal, stand against. I’ve seriously been wrestling with destructive tendencies in pop culture – cancel culture, social media, and tools which I feel are very dangerous weapons in the hands of people who are not competent to judge others. That’s something which I find very destructive and disturbing – and extremely limiting coming from an artists’ perspective.

This album is my middle finger to that.

Here’s the cover art and track-listing:

  1. Post-God Nirvana
  2. Malaria Vvlgata
    3.The Deathless Sun
  3. Ov My Herculean Exile
  4. Neo-Spartacvs
  5. Disinheritance
  6. Off To War!
  7. Once Upon A Pale Horse
  8. Thy Becoming Eternal
  9. Versvs Christvs

‘Opvs Contra Natvram’ will be out in digital and a variety of physical versions on 16th September 2022 via Nuclear Blast Records. Those who opt for the physical formats will have a choice of a white or black covers for the limited vinyls and the CD digibooks.

For now you can check out their video for the new single ‘Ov My Herculean Exile’:

For more information go to:

https://www.behemoth.pl/

https://www.facebook.com/behemoth

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

Hevisaurus live in Lempäälä

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , on 18th April 2022 by izaforestspirit

Hevisaurus
Idea Park, Lempäälä, Finland
18th April 2022

It’s been two years since my last live show. Back in the first year of the pandemic I went to see The 69 Eyes live under coronavirus restricted conditions. Back then it was all about the face-masks, crowd control and hand-sanitizer. Live-streams became the new normal and live shows were a rare treat. Now two years on there’s a vaccine available and the new strands of the virus are more mild which means that live shows and other events are now back on the agenda.

Hevisaurus is a Finnish heavy metal band who specialize in playing fantasy-themed heavy metal music for children, dressed in dinosaur costumes. My children are both fans of the band. This particular show was a free event held at the IdeaPark shopping mall in Lempäälä on the last day of the Easter period. The show was geared up for children, taking place in the afternoon with an allocated slot for the young audience. The parents were encouraged to move to the sides so that the children could get a good view of the band.

One of the things that’s great about Hevisaurus is that the music itself is actually really good, old school heavy metal which makes it fun for people of all ages to listen to. My kids had a great time rocking out to some of the biggest hits including: Räyh!, Ugala Bugala, Liskodisko and my daughter’s personal favorite, the lullaby ‘Viimeinen Mammutti’. It was heartwarming to see the whole crowd singing along.

In summary, this was a fun day out for me and my family. It was the very first show my daughter has ever been to and I’m glad that she enjoyed it. I’m really happy that I got to see a live show after such a long break. Hopefully this won’t be my only gig this year.

Iza Raittila

New Lord of the Lost EP coming next month

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , on 17th April 2022 by izaforestspirit

Less than a year since the release of their latest album ‘Judas’ and the German Gothic metal band Lord of The Lost show no signs of slowing down. They have new EP called ‘The Heartbeat of The Devil’ coming next month. This is a companion piece to ‘Judas’ with the title track being from that album. Check out the full track-listing and cover art:

1.The Heartbeat Of The Devil
2.Judas (Lady Gaga Cover)
3.Children Of The Damned (Iron Maiden Cover)
4.Wig In A Box (Hedwig And The Angry Inch Cover)
5.The Heartbeat Of The Devil (Piano Version)

‘The Heartbeat of The Devil’ will be out in both physical and digital formats on Napalm Records on 6th May 2022. For more information go to:

https://www.facebook.com/lordofthelost

https://lordofthelost.de

https://lordofthelost.bandcamp.com/

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

Interview with Johan van Roy from Suicide Commando

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , on 31st March 2022 by izaforestspirit

Iza had a chat with Belgian artist Johan van Roy from the Harsh EBM/ industrial band Suicide Commando about touring during the COVID 19 pandemic, live streams and his upcoming single and new album.

Here’s the full interview:

Last year you released a new single called ‘Trick or Treat’ and now there’s a new album in the works. Can you tell more a bit more about what can we expect from the new album?

Meanwhile the album is completely finished. Most of the songs were written during the pandemic and I think you can also hear it in the result, it sure did not become a “happy” album nor an easy listening album.
It still has the typical suicide commando ingredients but I also think this became the hardest suicide commando album to date, somehow you can feel the frustration of the last 2 years in the new songs. So it will be a bitter black album !

Suicide Commando’s music tends be very harsh sounding for EBM with lots of violent themes. Where does all violence come from?

I think we all have violence inside of us, it’s just a matter how to deal with aggression and violence, and for me my music is the perfect way to get rid of my aggression, my violent emotions … for me my music is also my therapy.
Furthermore we’re living in a world full of aggression and violence, just switch on the radio or the television and you get bombed with violence in the news, open the newspaper and you get confronted with violence … so my music is just a reflection of what we see or hear in every day life.

The pandemic has caused lots of distruptions with tours and shows being cancelled. Even the shows that weren’t cancelled went ahead with lots of restrictions. What are your thoughts on playing live shows under Covid 19 restrictions?

Well I considered it as a necessary evil. Of course it was really frustrating not being able to go on tour and have contact with our fans and audience. But on the other hand I’m happy we at least could do a few live shows, even those with a sitting audience. It was a weird feeling to play in front of a sitting audience, but I’m still happy we could do these few shows.
We now finally can start doing live shows again in more normal conditions, it’s still a bit strange as you notice people are still cautious and reluctant, and some people still prefer to stay safe at home, but slowly things will get back to normal … I hope !

Archive footage – Suicide Commando live at Electrowerkz, Slimelight London, UK in 2013.

Another thing that the pandemic has brought about was the rise in popularity of livestreams. Have you ever considered doing a Suicide Commando livestream?

We got a few requests to do such livestreams but in our constitution it was as get as impossible as we all live pretty far away from each other, and Torben (my live keyboarder) even lives in Germany, so coming together for such a livestream wasn’t even possible.

Has the Russian war with Ukraine had any influence on your new song Bang Bang Bang?

The song “Bang Bang Bang” was written already some months ago, so the song itself has nothing to do with the current war in Ukraine. The song actually is about gun violence, but of course it also got a new dimension with the current war. But no matter what, the message is clear, guns kill !

Finally once this pandemic is over and all the restrictions have been lifted are there any countries which you would like to tour for the first time?

Tour for the first time won’t be an easy thing as we already played in so many different countries all over the world, but of course I still have some dream locations left, for example I’d love to tour Australia or Japan one day.

Suicide Commando’s new single ‘Bang Bang Bang!’ will be released on April 14 in digital download and limited edition MCD via Out of Line Records (Europe) and Metropolis Records (USA & rest of the world).

Meanwhile you can check out his new video for ‘Trick or Treat’:

For more details visit:

https://www.facebook.com/IIXIII

https://suicidecommando.bandcamp.com/

New album from Michael Monroe coming this summer

Posted in News with tags , , , on 25th March 2022 by izaforestspirit

The Finnish hard rock musician Michael Monroe has recently announced that his new album ‘I Live Too Fast Die Young’ will be out in both digital and physical formats this summer on 10th June 2022 via Silver Lining Music.

Here’s the cover and track-listing:

1.Murder The Summer Of Love
2.Young Drunks & Old Alcoholics
3.Derelict Palace
4.All Fighter
5.Everybody’s Nobody
6.Antisocialite
7.Can’t Stop Falling Apart
8.Pagan Prayer
9.No Guilt
10. I Live Too Fast To Die Young
11. Dearly Departed


For now you can check out the video for his new single ‘Murder The Summer of Love’.

The band will also be touring Europe this spring. Here’s the full schedule:

08 Apr – House of Rock Bar, Kouvola (FI)
14 Apr – Möysän Musaklubi, Lahti (FI)
15 Apr – Hyvinkääsali, Hyvinkää (FI)
16 Apr – Olympia, Tampere (FI)
21 Apr – Tavastia Club, Helsinki (FI)
22 Apr – Ikaalinen Spa, Ikaalinen (FI)
04 Jun – ROCK HARD FESTIVAL, Gelsenkirchen (DE)
06 Jun – K.B. Hallen, Copenhagen (DK)*
9-11 Jun – SAARISTO OPEN AIR, Kaarina (FI)
10 Jun – ROCK IN THE CITY, Kuopio (FI)
11 Jun – SWEDEN ROCK, Sölvesborg (SE)
15 Jun – Dolina Charlotty, Charlotta (PL)*
17 Jun – Stadthalle, Zwickau (DE) *
18 Jun – AZKENA FESTIVAL, Vitoria-Gasteiz (ES)
21 Jun – Mitsubishi Electric Halle, Dusseldorf (DE)*
22 Jun – Jahrhunderthalle, Frankfurt (DE)*
25 Jun – HELLFEST, Clisson (FR)
29 Jun – Ippodromo San Siro, Milan (IT)*
07 Jul – SAUNA OPEN AIR, Tampere (FI)
08 Jul – ROCK IN THE CITY, Oulu (FI)
14-17 Jul – VAUHTIAJOT, Seinäjoki (FI)
16 Jul – ROCK IN THE CITY, Rovaniemi (FI)
29-30 Jul – SKOGSROJET FESTIVAL, Rejmyre (SE)
04-06 Aug – WACKEN OPEN AIR, Wacken (DE)
04-06 Aug – VAASA FESTIVAL, Vaasa (FI)
27 Aug – HRH Sleaze, Sheffield (UK)
*Supporting Alice Cooper

For more information go to:

http://michaelmonroe.com

https://www.facebook.com/michaelmonroeofficial