Kill Ritual – The Opaque And The Divine

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , on 18th April 2020 by izaforestspirit

Kill Ritual
The Opaque And The Divine
Released 27th March 2020
Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal
Released via Dissonance Productions

Kill Ritual - The Opaque and the Divine

‘The Opaque And The Divine’ is the latest album from the American thrash metal band Kill Ritual. The band was set up a decade ago and they have gone through a number of line-up changes. This is their first album with new vocalist Chalice Blood a.k.a Brian Betterton (also of Dirt and Enchanter).

I was expecting this to be a straightforward old-school thrash metal album. It is that to some extent, but a little bit more complicated. It’s very guitar-driven and some of the songs have that aggressive thrash metal feel such as the opener Rest In Pain and World Gone Mad. In addition to these, there are songs which take on a more melodic tone such as Praise The Dead with acoustic guitars and ballad-style vocals in the intro. Yet do not let the intro fool you, this is very much in the thrash metal category; the guitar work bears a lot of resemblance to bands like Merciful Fate.

Veil of the Betrayer stands out as the longest, most complex and the only progressive type song on here. Personally I found it a little too ponderous at times but luckily it got better towards the end once they picked up the pace.

In summary, ‘The Opaque And The Divine’ turned out to be different than what I expected. The guitar work is good enough to please any thrash metal fan. There is enough variety to keep the listener interested until the end. I like some tracks more than others but it was a good effort overall.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Bullets and Octane – Riot, Riot Rock N Roll

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 4th April 2020 by mickbirchy

Bullets and Octane

Riot, Riot Rock N Roll

Hard Rock, Sleaze Rock

Released 24th April 2020

via Bad MoFo Records / Cargo Records UK

It’s always cool when you get a chance to review a band you’ve been listening to casually for years. It’s a weird feeling because all I want to do is enjoy the record. Yet, I’ll have to put my reviewer cap on for this one, as much as I just want to listen to it and have fun. Bullets and Octane are one of those bands I got into as a teenager and that I gravitated to instantly. I have also seen them in concert and I have to say they are one of the wildest and fun bands out there today. So how is the new album Riot, Riot Rock N Roll?  It’s pretty darn good. It’s a lot of the same from this band. Fast-paced and aggressive tone but it has that fun party rock n roll tone that will keep you coming back for more.

The whole album has that really powerhouse feeling to it. With every instrument sounding larger than life. It feels like you’re in their jam session room and they’re coming up with the songs off the top of their heads. IT has that wild and rowdy feeling to it. The intense tone coupled with the tight musicianship is infectious and, like their other albums, extremely re-playable. As soon as you’re done with this record, you’ll put it on again and again. Or you’ll take my advice and look up their previous records and play it all. The production is good, I mean it’s not the finest production in the world, yet it suits this style of music. Everything is turned up and each piece of each song is presented in a way to get you headbanging.

There’s a good variety of rock n roll tunes here. From fast and furious punk-rock-like to the more groovy riff-based tracks. All coated in a sleaze rock style that gives the music a dirty and gritty edge. The riffs are fun, the grooves are slick, the guitar solos are over-the-top and the choruses are infectious and easy to sing along to. Perfect for a concert, lots of moments left open for crowds to sing along and other moments to allow mosh pits to develop. You can tell that Bullets and Octane know their audience as nothing really new is here. It has the same feeling as their last couple of records but who needs to reinvent the wheel still turns so well.

They’re back and it feels so good to be getting some new music from the veteran rockers. It feels like they’ve hit their stride as a band and they know how to make this style of music. They have just made it look so easy when they keep making music this consistent and this fun. This is a solid reminder of why I have been a fan of their music for so long. The grit, the intensity and the engaging fun of their music should be enough to keep any fan of rock music coming back for more.

10/10

Mick Birchall

Ville Valo – Gothica Fennica vol.1

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 3rd April 2020 by izaforestspirit

Ville Valo (VV)
Gothica Fennica Vol.1 EP
Released 20th March 2020
Gothic Rock/”Love Metal”
Released via Heartagram Ltd

Gothica Fennica Vol. 1

These past few weeks have been tough. All that time spent indoors has taken a toll on my mental health and it’s been a struggle at times to remain calm. I’ve always found music to be very therapeutic in times like this so I had a look at what new stuff has come out recently. I have a copy of the new My Dying Bride album, but as good as it may be, the current atmosphere of fear and uncertainty means that the last thing that I want to hear right now is doom metal. So I looked around a bit more and I came across this. My teenage idol the Gothic rock singer Ville Valo is back with a new EP. It’s been three years since HIM called it a day, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when I heard these new songs.

There are only three tracks, so I figured that I can write something about each one. Salute The Sanguine is probably the most catchy. It has a good chorus, Ville Valo’s emotional vocals work well with the keyboards and the guitar. Run Away From The Sun sounds like one of the classic HIM hits that I used to dance to as a teenager. This time the guitars fade into the background with most of the focus being on Mr. Valo’s voice. I feel like I’m sixteen again, dancing to the music while staring at HIM poster on my wall. Then last but not least we came to Saturnine Saturnalia, the slowest and most ballad-esque track on the EP. It’s a little melancholic and slow-paced but not entirely without its charms.

Overall, ‘Gothica Fennica Vol.1’ is an absolute delight to listen to and a must have for all HIM fans. This is technically a Ville Valo solo project and not HIM, but who cares? It may just be the next best thing.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Testament – Titans Of Creation

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

Testament
“Titans Of Creation”
Thrash metal
Released: 3rd April 2020
Via Nuclear Blast

Testament - Titans Of Creation - Artwork copy

“Titans Of Creation” isn’t just a powerful title; it’s also the definition of its songwriters. Not that it took 13 albums to recognize their grandeur – in all honesty, none of Testament’s members has had anything else to prove to anyone for a long time – but the fact they could push the envelope just a bit further this time is impressive. From what I gathered reading the press release, it seems the writing process was more dynamic, hence the little tweaks that are making all the difference.

I’ve always admired Peterson’s and Skolnick’s classy guitar work, but now it sounds even more elaborate – check out the solos and general riffing in songs such as “Children Of The Next Level”, “WW III” or “Symptoms”… hell, check out those in ALL tracks and you’ll see what I mean. It’s more diverse, so you get a better sense of what they’re capable of doing with those strings.

Peterson shows another side of him as he voices some parts of “Night Of The Witch” and “Curse Of Osiris”, in a demon-like pitch. The contrast between his and Billy’s tone is just perfect for the songs in question.

You’ll recognize the catchy chorus of “Dream Deceiver” as pure Testament, but the ominous vibe of “City Of Angels”, enhanced by its slower tempo and somber bass line, that will be new. But then again, as the lyrics refer to serial killer Richard Ramirez, it had to be something dark…

“The Healers” also sound somewhat different, with a more intense approach rather than a feisty one, its beat prone to become an earworm as well. It talks about Billy’s personal experience with his past cancer, but given the Corona pandemic situation the world is going through at the moment, it will probably become a hymn of hope to many metalheads.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Collateral – Collateral

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

Collateral
Collateral
Rock
Released 21st February 2020
Released via Roulette Media Records

‘Collateral’ is the debut album from the British rock band of the same name. They have already made a name for themselves in the rock industry last year when they won a competition to support Bon Jovi on their Runaway to Paradise Mediterranean Cruise.

Everything about this album is pretty much textbook stadium rock. There are big, bold vocals, easy to sing along choruses and uplifting guitar work. I enjoyed the opening track ‘Mr. Big Shot‘. It has definitely got that playful feel to it thanks to the rocking guitars and the catchy chorus. ‘ You also get some Bon Jovi vocals on track such as ‘Lullaby’, another highlight of this album. Similar things can be said about ‘Midnight Queen’, though that one has a slight country rock feel to it in the guitars. It’s not exactly my style but it has its moments.

Then they mellow things down for the reminder of the album, closing off with a few slow ballads. Once again the vocals work well and I cannot find any faults in the guitar work. Yet even after several listens, none of the last few songs stand out as much as the ones at the start of the album.

Overall, Collateral have created a promising debut album which will please rock fans everywhere. If they continue along this path, they have bright future ahead of them.

7/10
Iza Raittila

Metsatöll Live Stream Concert this weekend

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , on 20th March 2020 by izaforestspirit

The music and entertainment industry has been hit hard in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic. With thousands of people stuck at home and all events being cancelled or rescheduled, musicians are trying to find other means to reach their audience. In the absence of concerts many have switched to live streaming shows online.

Estonian folk metallers Metsatöll have recently announced one such event. They have teamed up with  RGB Baltics to host live stream show “Party Time During The Plague” today (20.03.2020) and tomorrow (21.03.2020) via their official media channels.

You can tune in to the stream on the following the times:

Image may contain: 3 people, possible text that says 'Tallinn 1:00 AM SAT London 11:00 PM FRI Moscow 2:00 AM SAT Berlin 12:00 AM SAT Budapest 12:00 SAT Paris 12:00 AM SAT Rome 12:00 AM SAT Toronto 7:00 PM FRI New York 7:00PM FRI Dallas 6:00 PM FRI San Francisco FRI Seattle 4:00 PM FRI Vancouver 4:00 FRI Tokyo 8:00 AM SAT Melbourne 10:00 AM SAT Sao Paulo 8:00 PM FRI Santiago 8:00 PM FRI This Friday / Saturday Free Live Stream Concert "Party Time During The Plague"'

The stream is free to watch but if you wish to make a donation to support the band and their crew you can send it via PayPal to pood@metsatoll.ee

You can catch the live stream at:

https://www.facebook.com/Metsatoll/
https://www.facebook.com/events/656446718515539/?active_tab=about

https://www.youtube.com/user/MetsatollOfficial

Meet Alexi Laiho’s new band Bodom After Midnight

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , , on 16th March 2020 by izaforestspirit

So it’s official… Children of Bodom is no more. The well renowned Finnish melodic death metal group played their last show in Helsinki, Finland in December last year. With their front-man Alexi Laiho loosing the rights to the name, a decision was made for the band to call it a day.

Luckily, there is some good news for their fans. Alexi Laiho has recently formed a new band called Bodom After Midnight. He will be joined by former CoB band-mate guitarist Daniel Freyberg, drummer Waltteri Väyrynen (Paradise Lost) and bassist Mitja Toivonen (Santa Cruz). The band have yet to find a full time keyboard player, but for now the keyboards will be performed by a session musician called Lauri Salomaa.

Bodom After Midnight are scheduled to play their first show at Tuska Open Air Festival on 27th June 2020 with other festival dates to follow this summer including John Smith Rock Festival and Summer Breeze Festival.

For now check out their new Facebook page for more details:
https://www.facebook.com/bodomaftermidnightofficial/#

 

Vader reveal new album details

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , on 6th March 2020 by izaforestspirit

The Polish death metal group Vader have a long tradition of releasing an EP as a teaser to an upcoming album. So when ‘Thy Messanger’ came out last year I suspected that there was a new Vader album in works. Well, there is… Now the new opus has a name, cover art and a release date. Peter and the gang recently revealed that the follow-up to ‘The Empire’ will be entitled ‘Solitude in Madness’.

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

Vader - Solitude in Madness

1. Shock and Awe
2. Into Oblivion
3. Despair
4. Incineration of the Gods
5. Sanctification Denied
6. And Satan Wept
7. Emptiness
8. Final Declaration
9. Dancing in the Slaughterhouse
10. Stigma of Divinity
11. Bones

‘Solitude in Madness’ will hit the shops both in physical and digital format on 1st May 2020 via Nuclear Blast Records.

For further details visit:
https://vader-band.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/vader

Prime Creation announce UK Tour in April 2020

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , on 4th March 2020 by izaforestspirit

The Swedish power metal band Prime Creation will be coming to British shores this spring.

Here is the schedule:

April 9th – Bannermans Bar, Edinburgh, Scotland, The UK
April 10th – Alma Inn, Bolton, The UK
April 11th – Sanctuary Burnley, Burnley, The UK
April 12th – The County Music Bar, Chesterfield, The UK

The tour follows the release of the band’s second album ‘Tears of Rage’, which came out last year.

For more information go to:
https://www.facebook.com/primecreationofficial
https://primecreationband.com/

 

Ex Deo return with ‘The Philosopher King’

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , on 29th February 2020 by izaforestspirit

It’s been three years since their last studio album ‘The Immortal Wars’. Now the Canadian  symphonic metal band Ex Deo are back with a new single called ‘The Philosopher King’. The song tells the story of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and it features additional orchestrations by Francesco Ferrini from Fleshgod Apocalypse.

You can check out the cover art below.

Ex Deo - The Philosopher King

‘The Philosopher King’ digital single will be out on 13th March 2020 via Napalm Records. Keep an eye out for the video coming soon.

In the meantime, for more information go to:
https://www.facebook.com/exdeo/
https://exdeo.bandcamp.com/

Hate, Belphegor and Suffocation live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 24th February 2020 by izaforestspirit

Hate, Belphegor, Suffocation
Klubi, Tampere, Finland
23rd February 2020

I usually tend to avoid attending gigs on a Sunday as it makes the next day difficult. This time however, I was lucky enough to have the next day free which made it possible for me to go. My husband decided to tag along to see Belphegor hoping that they would play some of the old material. I was mainly interested in the Polish blackened death metal act Hate. I like their old stuff and I recently managed to check out the newest release prior to going to the show.

The event started rather early and sadly we missed the first band, a Swedish death-thrash metal group called Carnosus. We arrived just in time to see the German death metal band Betrayal. They played a good, albeit somewhat short set of solid death metal with a thrash metal tinge. One of their songs featured a short melodic part guitar instrumental which was somewhat unexpected but it worked surprisingly well. So not a bad start to the night.

Next up was the main band that I came to see. The Polish blackened death metal outfit Hate put on a hell of a show. These guys hail from the same country as Behemoth and they often get compared to their Gdansk-based brethren due to the similarities in the music style. This show proved though they have developed their own style and they have earned their place in the extreme metal scene on their own merit. This is definitely my kind of metal and I am looking forward to hearing more from these guys. The only issue I had with the performance was that it was too short. They were only on for half an hour. I would have wanted to hear more from Adam the First Sinner and the gang.

The Austrian blackened death metal act Belphegor sure do like their props. The stage was decorated with animal skull motifs and burning incense. They seem to have quite the following too, they actually attracted a bigger crowd than the night’s headliners. Sadly they mostly played newer material which neither me nor my husband were familiar with. The only song I recognized was ‘Lucifer Incestus’. Some of the new tracks sounded decent such as ‘Baphomet’ but a lot of them seemed a little slow and not super memorable.

Suffocation were pretty much what I expected them to be. They played some very solid brutal death metal. That is the main problem that I have with American death metal in general, most of the bands sound the same. There is only a handful of American death metal bands that I like. Most of them do their best to make their music sound as brutal, fast and ferocious. Ultimately though, after minutes of head-banging along to a few of the tracks, you realize that they all sound very similar to each other. It was like listening to one very long song throughout the show. I have to admit that they did a good job of agitating the crowd and getting the mosh-pit going.

Overall, it was a fun way to spend Sunday night. Betrayal were pretty good. Hate were my favorite performance of the night and it’s shame that their set was so short. Belphegor have changed their style quite considerably over the years and I do not like their new stuff as much as the older albums. As for Suffocation, they were decent live but I do not think that I will be checking out their music anytime soon.

Iza Raittila

 

 

Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , on 22nd February 2020 by izaforestspirit

Ozzy Osbourne
Ordinary Man
Released 21st February 2020
Heavy Metal
Released via Sony Music

Ozzy Osbourne - Ordinary Man

The past few years have not been easy for the legendary heavy metal front-man Ozzy Osbourne. He has suffered from various health problems and injuries forcing him to postpone and cancel tours but he has managed to vent all that frustration and anguish into his latest studio effort – ‘Ordinary Man’. It is his first full-length album since 2010’s ‘Scream’. I have to admit that I had a little bit of catching up to do prior to listening to this. I’m a big fan of the old Ozzy albums, especially ‘No More Tears’, but the last album of his that I remember was ‘Down To Earth’. Luckily I managed to get hold of the ‘Memoirs of A Madman’ compilation to check out the stuff I missed.

So now that I’ve caught up on the past releases, it’s time to tune in to his latest opus… Straight to Hell marks a good start to the album, treating the listeners to an energetic and catchy heavy metal song. The guitars have playful, rocking feel to them, and Ozzy’s vocals work well with the music. So far so good. Then we get to the title track, which even after several listens, I still have mixed feelings about. It’s not so much that it’s a ballad. I have no issue with ballads. Ozzy has done a few good ones in the past including ‘Mama, I’m Coming Home’ and ‘Dreamer’. But this? I mean, the song itself is decent. I like the Beatles-style melody and Ozzy’s emotional vocals. But what the hell possessed him to to sink as low as to do a duet with Elton John? Seriously this is almost as bad as when Metallica decided to collaborate with Lou Reed. No! Just no.

Luckily the next track Under The Graveyard works much better. Now that’s the type of Ozzy song that I was hoping to hear. It reminds me of his earlier works and it is easily my favorite track on here. I also enjoyed It’s A Raid featuring Post Malone – another energetic and uplifting heavy metal song. Then the high descends into the low with the album drawing to a close with Take What I Want (feat. Post Malone & Travi$ Scott). Did I ever mention how much I hate rap and hip-hop? There is not a single good thing I can say about that song and vocals sound atrocious. Must skip. Oh wait! That was the final track!!

In summary I am a little disappointed with how this album turned out. There are a handful good tracks on here, about three of which I would happily play again. The rest range from the mediocre to the downright awful. I think that it would have been better without some of the collaborations. I really hope that this will not be his last album because Ozzy can do better.

5/10

Iza Raittila

3Teeth live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , on 16th February 2020 by izaforestspirit

Khroma, 3Teeth
Olympia, Tampere, Finland
15th February 2020

My first gig of 2020! The American industrial metal group is a recent discovery of mine. I only got into their music at the end of last year after a few of my friends recommended it to me. They have been around since since 2013 and their music has been compared to the likes of Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Nine Inch Nails. I found out that they were playing in Tampere so naturally I decided to go and see them.

The show took place at Olympia, a.k.a. Olympia-kortteli, a restaurant and gig venue in Tampere city centre. It was not super busy when I arrived but the main act drew in a sizable crowd.

First up was a Finnish alternative/electro metal band called Khroma. I normally like various forms of electronica and electro metal, but something about this band just did not work for me. The keyboards sounded decent and some of the guitar work was ok at times. Sadly the vocal style and the weird mish-mash of trip-hop and metal-core got on my nerves. The parts I liked were the instrumentals.

Then it was time for the headliners 3Teeth. They started a little later than scheduled and they encountered some technical issues during the performance. Luckily that did not stop them from putting on a good show. The singer Alexis admitted that he has never heard of Tampere before but he was glad to see a large crowd gathered to watch his band. They put on a good show. My kind of industrial metal. I particularly enjoyed hearing the older tracks such as ‘Master of Decay’ and ‘Atrophy’.

In summary, I am glad that I got to see 3Teeth live. It’s rare for new, up-and-coming bands from foreign countries to come to Finland, especially those from as far away as the USA. I hope that there will be more bands like this in the future.

Iza Raittila

Gorilla Riot – Peach

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 14th February 2020 by mickbirchy

Gorilla Riot

Peach

Southern Rock, Groove Rock

Released 31st January 2020

via Off Yer Rocka Recordings

I have been following this band for a while now. If you are from Manchester then you should know who these guys are. Gorilla Riot are the premier southern rock band of the northwest. They have been tearing up the underground rock scene in the UK for a while playing some of the biggest festivals and headlining venues around the country. I have been interested in their music for a while and was intrigued to get this album. Peach is the first full-length album from the band. I have to say I am pretty pleased with the outcome and if you have never heard of these guys before, then this is the time to get into their music.

The album is filled with all sorts of riff-rock goodness including tight grooves and a real old-school feel. They have the groovy rhythms of the ’70s infused with the style, flair and production of modern hard rock. If you’re into the likes of Sturgill Simpson or Steve Earle then this is something right up your alley. There’s that real down ‘n’ dirty hard rock with burning passion and soul.  The production just feels massive with a lot of depth to the music. You can really feel the impact of the three guitars in the band with sharp and concise riffs, blistering solos and co-ordinated harmonies. The bass adds this massive bottom to the songs and the drum work packs a punch as it forms the framework of each song.

Saying all of that, I could definitely understand how this kind of music is not everyone’s cup of tea. The twangy blues rhythm is really slow-paced and when listening to the album all the way through. It never really feels like it picks up with every song hitting the same groove, or at least it feels like it. It could have done with an acoustic country-style ballad or a high octane super-charged track. Just something to break up the album and give it some more flavour. It’s not that any of the songs are bad, I just think it needed some other style of rock to give the band some more character and to show they can be more versatile.

I quite liked this album. I think it does more than enough to entertain. It’s not going to be to everyone’s liking and that’s fine. I think the band knows their audience and they’re not out to please everybody. They’ll keep right on trucking and I think that’s fair. They’re a really fun band to watch live and their music pretty much speaks for itself. It’s a solid album and definitely worth a listen.

7/10

Mick Birchall

Hollywood Undead – New Empire, Vol. 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 12th February 2020 by Pieni

Hollywood Undead
“New Empire, Vol. 1”
Rap Rock
Released: 14th February 2020
Via BMG / Dove & Grenade Media

HUNewEmpireVol1cover

Whether one likes Hollywood Undead or not, their ability to combine all kinds of musical traits can’t be ignored. So when many people said – Johnny 3 Tears himself included – that “New Empire, Vol. 1” would be heavier than ever, and then “Already Dead” was out, with all such Linkin Park-vibe, I was momentarily afraid they’d changed their focus to an “alternative metal” direction and forgot everything else that’s always made them somewhat unique. Well, they didn’t.

“Time Bomb” was the second single and proof of this heightened nature, laced with a fiery party-mood. Also “Empire” was released beforehand, built on enthralling drums and strong bass lines, revealing how intact is the band’s diversity.

“Heart Of A Champion” falls more or less in the same description as “Empire”, but is a tad more intense, more seductive – a mandatory sing-along chorus if played live. “Killin It” is way too hip hop for my personal taste, but while the metalhead in me will skip this track, the music writer must acknowledge its edgy composition, as well as the aforementioned mix of traits I’ve always admired in this band. The final track “Nightmare” is also a hip hop tune, but the soft piano keys and bitter chorus make it more alluring to my ears – and surely a grand finale for most fans.

And while “Enemy” goes blasting pretty much through and through, “Upside Down” gets the prize for the catchiest melody in this record. It features Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, even though I believe Danny would’ve covered that perfectly (sorry Quinn!). And “Second Chances” is the most beautiful – in that somber kind of way – piece. At some point, a sharp breakdown highlights such somberness.

Yes, “New Empire, Vol. 1” is heavier, but it’s unmistakably Hollywood Undead. I don’t like labels, but the rap-rock one they go by still fits – it’s just that the rap got darker and the rock got thicker.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Game Zero – WAR – We Are Right

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 4th February 2020 by izaforestspirit

Game Zero
W.A.R. – We Are Right
Released 28th February 2020
Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Released via Art Gates Records
GAME ZERO - W.A.R. - We Are Right

’W.A.R. – We Are Right’ is the second album from the Italian hard rock band Game Zero. The group was founded in 2013 by vocalist Mark Right and guitarist Alexincubus (ex- Theatres des Vampires). Their debut album ‘Rise’ came out in 2015. Since then they have had some successful tours, supporting bands such as Sabaton, Amorphis and Equilibrium.

First up is the title track, an energetic rock anthem packed with powerful vocals and lively-sounding, uplifting guitar riffs. So far so good… One thing that I’m not so keen on here are the stop-start, nu-metal-styled guitar parts. In certain songs such as Goodbye they seem to disrupt the flow of the music. The same track also features an acoustic guitar part towards the end, which also seems a little out of place. Luckily the chorus is good enough for the listener to forget about the chaotic structure. Is it just me or does anyone else think that Mark Right sounds a bit like Dave Mustaine from Megadeth on here? I mean that as a compliment.

I wasn’t expecting a Simple Minds cover but I have to admit that Game Zero’s take on Don’t You Forget About Me works pretty well. I also liked the groove guitar style guitar work on You Choke Me, one of the heavier, more metal-sounding tracks on here. I was quite surprised by the changes in pace on the closing song Full of Nothing. After an aggressive start, they really mellow things down midway through the track, only to pick up the pace later on.

Overall, ‘W.A.R. -We Are Right’ takes a few listens to get into. Even after a few listens, I have mixed feelings about it. There are a few catchy hard rock songs on here but the overall structure seems a little disjointed at times. It’s almost like they had a bit too many ideas and tried to squeeze them all into one album.

6/10

Iza Raittila

Sepultura – Quadra

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 3rd February 2020 by mickbirchy

Sepultura

Quadra

Thrash Metal, Groove Metal

Released: 7th February 2020

via Nuclear Blast Records

The Brazillian purveyors of heavy-ass thrash metal return to the limelight in 2020. I’ve been excited for this album for quite some time now. I have always appreciated Sepultura. They are by far my favourite thrash metal band. Their unique blend of groovy riffs and sharp, hard-hitting rhythms make them a true powerhouse of a band. The way they inject their music with interesting ideas and concepts always makes them an enjoyable act to listen to. They are now back with their fifteenth record, Quadra, their follow up to 2017’s Machine Messiah. I have to say that this album is quite good.

Once again, this album was produced in Sweden with Jens Bogren at the helm. As with the previous record, there’s some really great production here. Especially considering the concept of the album. The album itself is based on numerology, the number four and its significance as depicted on Quadrivium (the four subjects, or arts namely arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). So, as you could probably tell this is quite a heavy-handed record. The album is broken into different pieces and each part is a representation of the different teachings of Quadrivium. Making this an album that you can listen to one so many different levels. It’s an album that I have been playing all week and I am still hearing it in new ways.

I love the way this album grooves. The bass and rhythm work is outstanding with lots of great moments throughout the album that just caught me and I was engrossed for a while just listening to certain parts of the record. From the clever acoustic moments to the slower ballads type moments and, of course, the all-out brutal heavy moments. Sepultura just knows how to keep a listener’s interest for hours on end.  Also, you have to appreciate the amazing guitar work of Andreas Kisser. He is simply incredible on the album bringing the energy where needed but also giving moments of the atmosphere. All of that is backing the powerful performance of Derrick Green, who really brings it on this record and sounds like he’s having fun with the record.

An absolute powerhouse of an album. A well-thought-out concept, excellent performances and great production… It all adds up to something powerful that can keep hardcore fans and casual listeners interested for a while. I genuinely enjoyed this album and I know it’s early but this is one of the best records of the year so far.

10/10

Mick Birchall

Battering Ram – Battering Ram

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 26th January 2020 by mickbirchy

Battering Ram
Battering Ram
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Released: 24 January 2020
 Self Released

It’s always fun when a band immediately catches your attention. The Swedish rockers, Battering Ram have been building some momentum since 2017 and now are ready to strike with their debut self-titled album. The band consists of Johan Hallström on vocals, Jonas Edmark on guitar, Tony Trust on drums and Jocke Ståhl on bass. I have been really enjoying listening to this album, it gives me vibes of early 90’s hard rock or early 2000’s riff-rock. I think their sound is heavy enough to get the purist-headbangers listening but broad sounding enough that they could reach a much larger audience of casual rock listeners.

The tight delivery and commanding energy hits hard with well crafted and memorable riffs. Jonas on vocals gives a great performance and sings with passion as the instruments really support him. The electrifying guitar solos and the great rhythm work are a simple joy to listen to. They’re not reinventing the wheel, a lot of what their doing is pretty standard fare for hard rock. Yet, their music just gets you pumped in the right way with booming bass and drums, well-performed melodies and well-executed harmonies. The best thing about their music is its simplicity. Standard song-writing structures, a focus on big hooks and keeping the whole record feeling well-paced. It kept my attention all the way through and never had any real down moments.

There isn’t much more to really say about this record. It’s good and I think that Battering Ram would make a great addition to any gig or festival lineup. These are songs that will get a crowd moving and singing. Songs like “Chase The Fire”, “Stronger Forever” and “Scared For My Life” are definite hits in my eyes. Their focus on tight musicianship and a bold sound suit them well. They are able to craft some big sounds with great writing. They have a great sense of groove and rhythm that makes then very enjoyable to listen to. It’s the kind of band you see on a Friday night with a beer in hand and headbang all the way through their set. Great album and I look forward to more from them.

8/10

Mick Birchall

Apocalyptica – Cell-0

Posted in Review with tags , , on 22nd January 2020 by izaforestspirit

Apocalytica
Cell-0
Released 10th January 2020
Neoclassical Metal/Symphonic Heavy Metal/Instrumental
Released via Silver Lining Music
Apocalyptica - Cell-0

Apocalyptica don’t need much of an introduction. There are very few bands who have achieved what these guys have – bridging the gap between classical music and heavy metal with their unique mixture of the two styles. I’ve been following their career from the very start, the humble beginnings when the quartet played cello covers of Metallica classics. There has been some line-up changes, a few collaborations with guest rock and metal vocalists… But the real surprise came in 2015 when an American singer called Franky Perez joined the ranks for the album ‘Shadowmaker’. In many ways the ‘Shadowmaker’, however good it might be, seems like the odd one out in Apocalyptica’s discography – like an experiment that worked though it may never be repeated. With the exception of a handful of successful collaborations with guest singers, the band’s best work is predominantly instrumental. This brings me to their latest effort- ‘Cell-0’, an instrumental album with the old line-up sans Franky Perez.

And we’re off to a good start with Ashes of The Modern World, delivering everything that I was hoping hear from the Finnish quartet. It’s a beautiful song with lots of variety in terms of style and pace. It starts off slow with a sombre sounding melody, then picks up the pace half way through the track. As soon as the drums kick in the music takes on a more aggressive, “heavy metal” sound, with the cellos crushing through at full speed. Then they mellow things down again towards the end. I also really liked Fire & Ice. True to its title, it comprises two contrasting styles: the melodic part with mostly cellos and a keyboard at the forefront and the more aggressive part with faster paced cello and drums. So the latter was the fire I guess… Then it’s back to the “icy” sombre cello work at the end. The title track also deserves a mention being the longest and the most complex song on the album. Again, there are lots of changes in pace, mixing the melodic classical cello sounds with a touch of metal. The chorus is easily one of my favorite parts of the whole album.

I’m not going to discuss all the songs in detail but generally speaking I am pleased that Apocalyptica chose to go back to basics with this album. They are sticking to what they do best. No need for singers or guest appearances. It encompasses all the aspects that make this band special. There is not a single track on here that I do not like. Some, such as the title track require a bit of patience to fully appreciate.

Overall, I really like this album. Unlike ‘Shadowmaker’, which took me a few listens to get into, ‘Cell-0’ immediately drew me in and kept me interested throughout. It’s the best album Apocalyptica has made in years.

9/10

Iza Raittila

 

Marko Hietala – Pyre of the Black Heart

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 19th January 2020 by mickbirchy

Marko Hietala

Pyre of the Black Heart

Heavy Metal, Progressive Rock

Released: 24th January 2020

via Nuclear Blast Records

I have never claimed to be the biggest fan of Nightwish. However, I have always appreciated the vocal talents of Marko Hietala. He’s a spectacular singer and musician. So, imagine my surprise to find out that he’s releasing his debut solo album this year. Pyre of the Black Heart is a pretty mixed bag of material. I guess he wanted to throw a bunch of different styles at the wall to see what stuck. The album is a mix of prog-rock, heavy metal and some clear folk inspiration here and there. It feels quite personal and hits pretty hard.

Right from the opening track “Stones” Marko shows everything that he’s trying to do on the album. You can really feel that forceful presence that has made him such a fantastic performer over the years. The tone of his vocals is damn-near perfect and really hit you in the gut. Songs like “The Voice of My Father” and “I Dream” grab your attention and the emotion just took hold of me when I was listening. The production is simply outstanding with every part of the arrangement shining. The bombastic bass and drums, with the heavy electric guitar, is really gut-busting and coupled with Marko’s pure intense vocal performance really made this a larger than life album. Even the quieter, acoustic sections hit hard due to the purity and richness of the production.

His use of poetic license suits this music well. The weary and emotional language used kept me engaged throughout. It’s almost like dark-twisted lullabies in the quieter sections. The heavier moments it feels like dark prog-rock epics of the past. The passion and conviction that this album presents certainly delivers, with Marko giving his all with his commanding and forceful voice. It gives the words a great sense of urgency and left me speechless at times.

I think if you like rock or metal music of any sort you’ll like something here. It’s progressive rock without the fluff, folk-rock without going overboard, heavy metal with more complexity and almost has a stoner rock vibe to the riff. I think the only thing that most people wouldn’t like about the album is that it moves a little slow. There aren’t many songs with a lot of vibrant energy, the one exception being “Runner of the Railways” which definitely rocks. It’s definitely an album that takes some time to digest. I mean, it’s not a power metal or thrash metal record. So, if you’re looking for something with a lot of fast-paced, in your face metal, then this isn’t for you. However, I think there’s enough energy and heaviness that most rock and metal fans will be impressed.

Overall, a solid album from a man that has earned his place in the annals of heavy metal history. If you’re in the mood for something powerful and captivating, then this might be right up your ally.

8/10

Mick Birchall