Mgła – Age of Excuse

Posted in Metal with tags , on 18th October 2019 by izaforestspirit

Mgła
Age of Excuse
Released 2nd September 2019
Black Metal
Released via Northern Heritage Records

Mgła - Age of Excuse

The Polish black metal outfit, Mgła have come a long way since I first discovered them back in 2006 when the two Eps ‘Presence’ and ‘Mdłości’ were released. The line-up has not changed, Mgła is still a two-man team comprising multi-instrumentalist singer M. and drummer Darkside. They have additional live musicians for the live performances.

So this brings me to the duo’s latest work – ‘Age of Excuse’. There are six tracks, all labelled as Age of Excuse I – VI. A key part of what makes a good black metal song is the atmosphere, the creepier and the more bleak it sounds the better it gets usually. Everything about this album conveys eerie and nihilistic vibes. First there is the ultra-grim looking front cover. Then the first things you hear as soon as you press the play button, are the disturbing sounds of vocalist M. gnashing his teeth just before the guitars kick in. When the guitars enter the frame, they only add to the overall bleak atmosphere as do the vocals. It must be pointed out that this sounds a lot like their other project Kriegsmaschine.

It’s pretty pointless to discuss the tracks individually as the are essentially just six parts of the same concept. These guys have managed to maintain a good balance between the coarse guitar riffs, the drum work and the melodic tones without compromising the overall atmosphere. Even with the odd melodic guitar part, the music still sounds very bleak. It’s like walking through a forest at night, in deep fog. You can get accustomed to it but definitely is not pleasant.

In summary, ‘Age of Excuse’ is easily one of the best black metal albums that I have heard this year. It is great to see just how far Mgła have come and how much their sound has developed over the years. I would happily recommend this to any black metal fan.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Ozzy Osbourne postpones European Tour again

Posted in Metal, Misc., News with tags , , on 10th October 2019 by izaforestspirit

Bad news for Ozzy Osbourne fans… If you were planning to catch him live in Europe next year, sadly you will now have to wait even longer. The legendary heavy metal frontman recently announced that he has been forced to postpone the European part of the ‘No More Tours’ tour until 2021 due to a neck injury.

Here is an official statement from Ozzy:

The new dates have yet to be announced. Ticket holders have been advised to wait for further information.

We wish Ozzy a speedy recovery! For more details go to:

https://www.facebook.com/ozzyosbourne/

Ozzy Osbourne official

CrashDïet – Rust

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , , on 22nd September 2019 by Pieni

CrashDïet
“Rust”
Sleaze/glam rock
Released: 13th September 2019
Via Frontiers Music

Rust

It’s been over a week since “Rust” was released but only now I’ve managed to write about it. Why? Because every time I’ve started doing so, the songs popped up in my head and I just couldn’t stop singing along and moving my whole body to their rhythm. When the single “We Are The Legion” was released on New Year’s Eve 2017, I felt that old school sleaze vibe which CrashDïet have always offered us and knew that whatever came next would be worth the waiting; still I was amazed at such worthiness.

Don’t expect me to compare singers, as that wouldn’t be fair to any of them. I’ll just say that Gabriel Keys has a powerful voice which fits the band like a glove, and even though I’ve only listened to him in the new tracks, I can imagine him singing the old ones as if it had been him who’s originally recorded them. Yeah, that kind of voice.

They’ve recently asked on their Facebook page which was our favorite song off the new album and to me that’s an honest trick question. How can I choose between the enticing riffs and catchy chorus of the title-track and the seductive melody of “In The Maze”? How can I choose between the enthralling beats of “Into The Wild” or the upbeat pulse of “Crazy”? The heart-warming ballad “Waiting For Your Love” in contrast with the sleazy speed of “Reptile”? And what about the hymn-ish “We Are The Legion” or the crowd-friendly “Filth & Flowers”? The latter even has parts as if recorded live because it’s exactly the kind of song that will have the audience cheering and do that now-you-sing-it game that vocalists love to put us through.

CrashDïet have had their fair share of downs but their albums have always been ups in their career. I won’t say “Rust” is the highest up so far but, once again, only out of fairness. I can say, though, that this is the essence of sleaze rock, bearing such purity and class – so hard to find nowadays.

9/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

The SoapGirls – Elephant in the Room

Posted in CD, Pop Punk, Punk Rock with tags , , , , on 22nd September 2019 by mickbirchy

The SoapGirls

Elephant in the Room

Punk Rock, Grunge

Released: 12 July 2019

Self Released

If you’re not acquainted with The SoapGirls, then you’re in luck because neither am I. This is my first real taste of what they are about.  The Debray sisters, Noemie and Camille, have been around for a little while now, bringing their own brand of punk rock to the masses. From what I hear and what I’ve seen, they are an interesting and divisive band that deliver hard rocking tunes. Since their first album back in 2015, they have been pretty consistent release-wise and have garnered a decent fan-base. I say they’re divisive because, when I see conversations about them online, it almost always ends up in squabbling between the quality of their music. From what I can tell, the people that like them, really like them and visa versa.  So, where do I stand? Well since this is my first real exposure to them let’s take a listen and see what the crack is with these punk rock gals.

Pretty much from the get-go Elephant in the Room is a pretty entertaining listen. Not too aggressive or edgy and nothing overly produced. It falls somewhere in the middle of that. The production is clear enough and the music is well written. The melodies just flow so well and the harmonies are well integrated. This is nothing particularly fancy about the instrumentation, it’s all quite serviceable. The guitars are nicely toned with that typical hard rock tone and the drums are tightly locked into a decent rhythm on pretty much all of the tracks. The vocal performances are nice too. Again nothing overtly edgy or aggressive. In fact, they carry a tune really well. There are quite a few songs that really get stuck in your head as the choruses are quite catchy and leave a little bit of an ear-worm. 

However, my biggest problem with the album is the length. Whilst there is nothing bad per se on the album, there really isn’t enough of an incentive to keep listening to 19 songs straight. It’s not like this is a prog-rock opera with massive changes to the tunes. It’s just well played and well-performed punk rock. Yet, a punk rock album should get in and get out as quick as possible and this just drags on for a long time. Even though there is nothing explicitly wrong with the quality of any of the songs, there is just too much here for one sitting. 

This was fine. Though not something I feel I need to return to any time soon. The SoapGirls just aren’t necessarily my thing. I would have preferred it if their music was more intricate, unpredictable or if there was more an over-the-top personality to their character as a band. However, as is, this is just okay. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but not enough to keep me invested in their music or justify the sheer length of this album.

6/10

Mick Birchall

Prime Creation – Tears of Rage

Posted in CD, Metal with tags on 15th September 2019 by izaforestspirit

Prime Creation
Tears of Rage
Released 27th September 2019
Melodic Heavy Metal/Power Metal
Self-Released

Prime Creation - Tears of Rage

’Tears of Rage’ is the second album from the Swedish heavy metal band Prime Creation. The band was formed back in 2015 and it features several former members of Morifade as well as $ilverdollar vocalist Esa Englund.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this based on the description. What exactly do they mean by “melodic heavy metal”? It is one of those vague descriptions that can encompass practically anything from power metal, NWOBHM, melodic thrash metal, classic heavy- and possibly even progressive metal. So where does Prime Creation fit in? Well, after a few listens I would say that they best fit the power metal category. The good news is that it’s not progressive or ultra cheesy and most of the focus is on the vocals and the guitars. So we’re off to a good start…

I enjoyed the opener Fingers Crossed, an uplifting song with a good mix of guitar melodies, especially the rhythm guitar. The vocalist reminded me a little of Andi Deris from Helloween. Then there’s Before The Rain with its symphonic intro, good riffs and melodic vocals. There is also a hint of electronics in the guitars. It’s a kind of inorganic guitar chugging with some distortion added. This style is more commonly used by industrial metal bands such as Fear Factory. So, it’s not exactly what I expected to hear but it seems to work. It gives the music a bit more aggressive edge.

Then last and my least favorite is the peaceful, slow-paced closing ballad Endless Lanes. That song feels like it was initially meant to be an a completely different album. It is all about the vocals and piano. It’s very melodic and atmospheric, which is fine, but it feels somewhat disconnected with rest of album.

In summary, ‘Tears of Rage’ is a multifaceted album which warrants a few listens to fully appreciate its intricate nature. I like some songs more than the others but overall impression I got from it was a positive one.

7/10

Iza Raittila

The 69 Eyes – West End

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , on 14th September 2019 by Pieni

The 69 Eyes
“West End”
Gothic rock
Released: 13th September 2019
Via Nuclear Blast Records

The 69 Eyes - West End

Over the past 30 years, The 69 Eyes have developed such a characteristic sound that they’re at a point in their career where one can identify a song as theirs, even before Jyrki 69’s unique voice comes through. Yes, 30. The dark balloons on the cover? Best decoration for a goth’n’rock anniversary party.

They’ve also invited a few friends for such party. You’ve probably seen the video for “Two Horns Up” by now, featuring Dani Filth. Those ominous church bells in the first few seconds which lead to that rough bass intro and melt into a rocky melody spiced up with piano keys… that’s the catchy trademark of the Helsinki Vampires.

Curiously enough, “27 & Done” is a lot merrier, despite its dark theme (that apocalyptic age at which so many rock stars have died). Same formula, but merrier.

“Black Orchid” was also released as a video, probably because it has one of the most beautiful guitar solos in the whole album. It took me back to “Dance D’Amour”, believe it or not – so much bolder, so much sharper, and yet my mind brought it up. Go figure.

Then there’s the orchestral arrangements on “Change”, giving a classy touch to an already dandy ballad. It’s like they say, “the devil’s in the details”.

I was surprised they didn’t film a video for “The Last House On The Left”. Jyrki 69 himself says it’s “the perfect Halloween horrorpunk song for this year”. Honestly, I think it’s perfect for any festive occasion. It also features Dani Filth and Wednesday 13 and Calico Cooper as well, making a hell of a vocal mix! I wouldn’t call it punk, though, but definitely rock’n’roll. By the way, “Outsiders” gives away that vibe too. Dancing is not really my thing but I caught myself doing so while writing this review.

These are just a few remarks. I could’ve picked many more but I think you’ve got the picture. I’ll wrap it up with a cheesy but heartfelt “happy anniversary, keep it rollin’!”.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Interview with Liv Sin

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , on 28th August 2019 by mickbirchy

Ahead of the release of their new album Burning Sermons on the 6th September, Mick spoke to Liv Jagrell of Swedish heavy metal band Liv Sin. They discussed the production and songwriting of this record in comparison to their previous 2017 album, Follow Me, as well working with some of metal’s heavy hitters. Also, read Liv’s thoughts on women in metal, her biggest piece of advice for new bands and how she has overcome her biggest setback.

 What do you think is the biggest difference between the new album Burning Sermons and your previous album Follow Me?

I think that the biggest difference is in the sound of the album because we’ve brought in electronics and synth sounds. There are more keyboard and orchestral arrangements. This was not present on the first record. Maybe a song or two, but for the first album, it was more just a straight forward heavy metal sound.  However, on this record, we wanted a little bit more of a diverse sound, as a result, we took out some of the guitar-riffing and added in the more electronic sound. So we chose to work with a producer who could help us achieve this. 

I wanted to get on to the production a little bit here. I’ve read that you worked with Emil Nödtveidt  (Deathstars guitarist). What was it like to work with him and what do you feel he added to the album that you really appreciated?

Obviously all of the keyboards, electronics and orchestral arrangements which none of us could have done. He was just a pleasure to work with, it felt like there was no real effort to communicate my ideas with him and he was able to give us the best product possible. I would love to work with him again. I mean, he definitely put his stamp on the music. You can here that Deathstars sound on some of the songs. I feel that he took the songs to another level by adding things that we would not have thought of. 

Another note I have read was that you brought in Björn Strid (singer of Soilwork and The Nightflight Orchestra) for the song “Hope Begins To Fail”. What was it like bringing him into the studio and working with him?

Also, pretty amazing! Björn is an excellent singer, also I am a big fan of Soilwork, I have loved that band since they started. I also like The Nightflight Orchestra too, not 100% my type of music but it shows how versatile he is as a singer. I think that his voice worked really well in the song. We also got him to do the video shoot with us and he is such a funny guy we just had so much fun on set for that music video. Also, I would love to work with him again as well. 

That’s fantastic, I loved hearing that on the album as well. Just moving on to the lyrical aspect of the album. What is your favourite song from a lyrical standpoint on this album and what do you feel is the main message of your lyrics?

Quite hard to say as all of the lyrics are very personal to me. As when I write lyrics, it’s kind of like therapy for me as I try to process my own internal thoughts. However, I always like the idea that these songs can help someone else as well. So, on some the songs, I wrote more from more of my experience or things that I wish would happen. Then, on the other hand, I want to write songs that I think might encourage people. Like the song “At The Gates of The Abyss”, which is a song where I’m trying to inspire people to not give up, at least not today, this is not the day where we all fall. Also, in the song “War Antidote” there’s a line in the chorus ‘Hail To The Freaks’ and I feel this is embracing people who might feel that they don’t belong and try to give them encouragement to continue. That is the main thing I want to get across. That, it’s okay to be different and we can continue together.

That was pretty inspiring. I personally have been loving the album, I just think it’s a more whole and complete album than the first one.

Thank you, yes. Also, we had way more time with this record. I think we worked through the songs much more than on the first album. I think as well, we’ve found a sound that we really like and want to continue with.

Yeah, it feels like a record with more time gone into it. Not that I didn’t like the first album but I thought it was interesting to hear the evolution of your sound. There seemed to be far less fast-paced and intense metal tracks and more of a general grandiose metal sound. What is your process for working the lyrics into the music? Does the idea for the song come first or do the themes of the lyrics come first and then you try an match it?

It depends…. Mostly though, we come up with the melodies and rhythm first then try to piece the words and meaning into that melody. Sometimes, it just does fit and you can become really frustrated and then that leads to “Grahhhhgh, damn it, fuck it!” because you really want that particular rhythm and melody but you also want to say a specific line you can’t find anything to match. I have spent many evenings just staring and working on one sentence and getting nowhere. At that point, I just go “fuck it, it’ll wait until tomorrow”

So with the release of this new record, it’s a given that your new setlist will be mostly new material. Are there any songs from Follow Me that you plan to keep on the setlist?

I think the two that we kinda have to keep are “Let Me Out” and “Killing Ourselves To Live” because they are the main songs from Follow Me. Also, because they are great songs and they work well with the audience. We are also keeping “Hypocrite” as for us, it’s an awesome live song. Also, we’re planning on keeping “Emporer of Chaos” as it fits in very well with the newer songs, because it’s more of a political song and because audiences really like it.

From the last time we spoke, you said that your favourite song on Follow Me was “The Fall”. Any chance that could make it on to the setlist?

It could… But since we have “Chapter of The Witch”, it might be too much as it’s another intense fast-paced song and I don’t want too many of those working their way on to the setlist. So right now we’ve taken away “The Fall” to put in “Chapter of The Witch”. I mean you learn when you tour and “The Fall” has a tendency to be a little too fast, it’s not a really groovy track so we didn’t get the response that we hoped it would have got. I mean I really like the song, but it’s a really hard song to play live. 

Excellent, I mean I really like that song too, so if there’s a chance to hear it live again, I’m always there. Just moving away from songwriting now. What are your thoughts on the progression of women in the metal world, as they are becoming more and more prevalent in a metal context?

It’s interesting that this is even a question but understand why. I hope that it will develop further than it is, it’s definitely better for sure, certainly more so than when I first started in music. You’re seeing many more bands of just women or band with women in them. I hope it will develop further and I hope one day you won’t even have to call attention to it. You know, so we’re at a point where the term “female-fronted” for example is no longer something that is needed.

Yeah, it is kinda silly when you think about it, as long as the music is good, who cares who is playing it. Another question, I think is very interesting. From your experience across your whole career, what is the one piece of advice you give to a new up-and-coming band starting in the industry today?

Since the music business has changed so much since I started, it hard to say. As things that used to be true, aren’t anymore. One thing I will say is you can’t lie to new bands about how much work you have to put into it. Nothing is going to happen for free and if you are not committed, dedicated and not truly ready to sacrifice things, this is not the industry you want to be in. Because you have to sacrifice financial security, friends, families and whatever in order to make it work.  You know, you have to take tours before birthdays, festival slots before weddings. If you’re not prepared to do that, you will be disappointed and you will feel like a failure because you won’t make it very far. I know that sound really harsh because you want to encourage people but it’s also the truth and if you’re not ready there will always be someone who will stand over you. At the same time, I have always been that kind of person to stand on my own and do what my heart tells me otherwise I wouldn’t be here. 

However, if you’re willing to make that kind of sacrifice then it is worth it in the end because music is such a necessary thing, we need it in the world as a world without music would be a hard one to live in.

I couldn’t agree more music is so important, it’s the main thing I use to ignore that fact the world is dying and going to crap. So, just end on and this my favourite question I ask. What is the hardest thing, professionally or personally, you have had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Hmm, that’s a hard question, give me a minute. So, actually, this is it. I’m afraid of flying and aeroplanes in general. Whenever I sit in a plane, which you do a lot on tour, I ask myself “Why am I doing this?” but I’m still doing it anyway. I think that if I didn’t have this passion for music, I would never face that fear as much as I do. I would probably not go on a plane at all. Yet, today I’m facing that fear all of the time. I always wonder to myself, why isn’t flying becoming easier, because I’m doing it so much. Yes, you have fear but having such a strong feeling inside of you to face that fear is important and once you have that, yes it might not become easier but doing the thing enjoy becomes more rewarding.

Interview and words by Mick Birchall