Archive for Cryptic Age

Cryptic Age announce new flautist as addition to the line-up

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 16th June 2013 by Nico Davidson

York’s premier prog. Celtic metal band Cryptic Age have announced the addition of new flautist and backing vocalist Shendie to their line-up. Cryptic Age are also currently working on their next release – Details to be announced.

Cryptic Age online:

http://crypticage.co.uk
http://facebook.com/crypticage

 

Heidevolk w/Support @ Fibbers, York

Posted in Featured, Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 18th March 2013 by Nico Davidson

Heidevolk, Celtachor, Cryptic Age
Fibbers, York
23rd February 2013

Let’s start at the very beginning (as I have heard tales that it is a very good place to start). The venue. The City of York is a fantastic backdrop; its rich heritage makes it an ideal location for a gig of this nature. (Also, the people in York are fantastic. Twice, in York, I have lost my cell phone [Editor’s note: She means mobile phone] – and twice, in York, it has been returned to me.) ‘Niche-y’ evenings such as tonight tend to draw crowds from far afield: during the course of the evening, I met people who travelled from as far away as Whitby, Newcastle and Luton, to name a few. Therefore, the relatively central location of the venue proved ideal. The venue itself is ideal as well – large enough to hold the ample crowd but small enough to still feel intimate, even when standing at the bar. The sound was top-notch – all the instruments evenly balanced and all three (very different) vocalists cut through like a sword through leather. The line-up was an unusual but well-chosen blend – all three bands had similar lyrical themes of mythology and a folk feeling in their music. All three bands were, however, very different in their approaches to this, which was refreshing – the audience was treated to three very different styles so didn’t become too bored of the same genre by the end of the night. So basically, it was folkin’ well organised! (Okay, that’s the last ‘folkin’ pun…for awhile. Editor’s note: Thank the gods for that!)

Local progressive folk metallers Cryptic Age kicked off the evening in a suitably epic fashion, mixing brand-new songs with tracks from their CD and EP. Their (new) opening track Ad Astra et Ultra brings vocalist Jenny Green out of her normally stratospheric heights at times and proves her vocal versatility with warm, mid-range tones. Tracks like this show that she is more than capable of range as well as clarity in her vocal performance. Her trademark high notes are still dominant – sharp as a razor and clear as glass – and she gives an engaging performance as a frontwoman (not as easy job, when behind a keyboard as well)! Green’s keyboard performance is flawless; well-chosen effects created an ethereal feeling and she shifts effortlessly between using the keys atmospherically and as a lead instrument.Hallam Smith’s lead guitar sings beautifully and his expertise with the instrument is clear – Smith’s solos are technical and complex, yet appear effortless as he grins his way through the gig. He trades and harmonises lead parts with Green’s keys as nimbly as a leprechaun sorts through gold. Well-constructed and never ‘over the top’, Smith’s guitar performance definitely stays on the right side of the line between ‘enjoyable and impressive’ and ‘showing off’ – everything is done to suit the music.

Bassist Tom Keeley has an impressive stage presence – at one point, certainly, his windmilling knocks some dust off of the ceiling. Beyond this, though, he is a masterful musician, ably ‘gluing’ together the drums and the lead sections. In a four-piece band, there is sometimes a temptation for a bassist to simplify; however, Keeley’s riffs are complex and are as interesting to listen to as the lead instruments. Drummer Alex Brandsen drums adeptly, acting as the gears that keep the machine moving forward. He drives numerous time and tempo changes smoothly and his solo and fills are engaging. Brandsen is clearly a drummer who is an artist, rather than a machine; his metronome-like precision is carefully balanced with enough artistry and flair to give the set interest and spontaneity. Overall, Cryptic Age’s performance was tight, creative and delivered with just the right mixture of passion and fun. It was also thoroughly enjoyable – an opinion shared by the crowd, many of whom were Irish jigging to No Folkin’ Way, the final, instrumental track of the set. [5/5]

Few bands would dare to create music that oscillates between brutal, eyeball-popping, balls-out growling and soft, melodic, lilting sweetness. Even fewer can make it work. Celtachor does. Frontman – vocalist and whistle player – Stephen Roche pulls off both faces of the two-headed monster that is Celtachor with style… and just a little bit of scary. With a stage presence that makes him seem like a Klingon transported into medieval times, Roche has a fantastic and mesmerising effect on the crowd. An intensity in his facial expression gives a slightly psychotic impression and when he instructs the crowd to clap, headbang, chant, etc. they do so. For me, this was 75% because I was enjoying the music and 25% because I was a little bit afraid that if I didn’t do as he said, he… might eat my skin while I was still wearing it. (Note – we spoke with him briefly after the show and he was very lovely, gracious and non-psychotic – but the stage act is very convincing.)

Roche shifts instantaneously between vitriolic vocals – with a scream that would melt the lead out of pencils – to a soft-spoken, honeyed baritone enrobed in a hypnotising Irish accent. His (and guitarist Fionn Stafford’s) skill with a small whistle adds an artistic touch that helps to set Celtachor apart from other pagan black metal bands and secures them in a class of their own. Guitarists Fionn Stafford and David Quinn show versatility in their double-barrelled performance. Bold, brash riffs that border at times on thrash are expertly executed and are always precise and controlled. Similarly, softer sections are performed artfully and with elegance, with complex intertwining melodies graciously taking a backseat to allow other instruments to come to the forefront. Solos are shredded like silk curtains through a tiger’s claws and the rhythm parts are a cavalry of riffs that gallop on apace and flatten the room. Both musicians have a remarkable stage presence and are engaging to watch as they own the stage.

The guitar melodies are complex and add interest to the pieces, providing the heart of the band. The melodies are reminiscent of old Celtic folk music – without relying too heavily on this style, proving that they are more than a one-trick pony. The complexity of the guitars also firmly plants the band in the black metal genre, as well as proving that if you’ve got two talented guitarists – you don’t need keyboards to put the ‘melody’ in ‘melodic black metal’!  Bassist  Oliver Deegan is the belly of the beast, with growling riffs that add a sense of darkness and danger to the mixture. His hammering riffs and compelling countermelodies surprise and intrigue the audience – and bring him out of the rhythm section – without distracting from the lead instruments. Quigley’s hand moves up and down the neck of his bass like a hummingbird from flower to flower, darting quickly back and forth.  The warm tone of Deegan’s bass contrasts pleasantly against the icier guitar tones, hinting at green fields and Irish sunshine.

Drummer Anaïs Chareyre proves a savvy timekeeper – and if we’re going to labour the metaphor, her drums are the powerful legs of the monster that is Celtachor. Chareyre adroitly swaps between styles several times throughout the gig. She masters off-time sections with a progressive flair; drives the common time portions with machine-gun-like precision and adds in components of tribal drumming that keep reminding the audience of the Celtic roots of the music. The drums in Celtachor’s music do more than simply keep the time – they are an instrument themselves, driving the songs forward but occasionally pausing to have a spotlighted moment themselves.

Altogether, Celtachor is a force to be reckoned with. With a powerful mix of brutal black metal, haunting pagan influences and serene Celtic accents, Celtachor is definitely a band in a class of its own. [4.5/5]

Heidevolk’s first headline show on UK soil had garnered a lot of support and as the crowd anxiously awaited the band’s entrance, the area near to the stage became a crush of black T-shirts, long hair, drinking horns and pagan relics. The anticipation was a palpable bubble being blown, threatening to burst even as a blue balloon was tied to the drumkit. When the band’s suitably atmospheric introductory music began, the stage was awash in moody blues, setting the ambience.  An eerie hush fell over the crowd, exploding into rapturous cheering as the band took the stage.

Vocalists Joris Boghtdrincker and Mark Splintervuyscht burst onstage like fireworks, each working alternate halves of the crowd and engaging the audience in a singalong straightaway. The crowd reacts enthusiastically – more hardcore fans picking up the call even before being asked, joined later by more reluctant fans and others who weren’t familiar with the melody at the start.  Boghtdrincker and Splintervuyscht are fantastic frontmen, expertly coaxing the crowd (who, to be fair, don’t need much encouragement – they’ve been waiting a long time for this) to shout, pump their fists, show the horns – all fairly standard metal gig interactions – and then to bounce. That was more unexpected. Like rabbits on Red Bull, the vocalists led the way, followed by a more than decent proportion of the crowd. Partially due to alcoholic consumption (but mostly due to the zeal of the frontmen), the crowd eagerly participated and became a teeming, roiling mass threatening to boil over. By the third song, a reasonably sized pit had opened up toward the front in the middle. The crowd had this part of the club heaving: it felt as if it were about a hundred degrees despite the freezing outdoor temperatures – and there were approximately five oxygen molecules left. The crowd response generated by Heidevolk – and led by the two frontmen – was in a world of its own.

In addition to being engaging frontmen, Boghtdrincker and Splintervuyscht are talented vocalists. In a pleasing contrast to many metal bands, neither vocalist is a soaring, Bruce Dickinson-like belting countertenor, nor a growling ball of anger. Boghtdrincker  borders on the rare voice type of contrabass, at times touching an E1. (For non-music types, that’s an extremely low note – when it is written in operas, often all other music stops to allow that note to be heard – because, to produce it at all, it tends to be very quiet. It takes a special talent and years of training to sing this low – and to do so and maintain tone is actually harder than singing up high). Splintervuyscht is a higher, more lyric baritone with a voice reminiscent of Galaxy chocolate. (Can we get a sponsor?) He tends to carry the melodies clearly and strongly, while Boghtdrincker stays down in the dungeons, providing a rumbling presence, like a dragon that is starting to awake.  The harmonies created by the dual vocals are interesting and unusual – they haven’t stuck to the easy (or expected) thirds, fifths or octaves. Rather, they’ve chosen intervals which feel tribal – coinciding with their image and the ancient Germanic mythology that inspires their music. At times, their chosen harmonies evoke a semblance of Gregorian chants – and on occasion, the melodies don’t go quite where you might expect them to, adding interest and surprise. Both men are skilled musicians, alternating between shared harmonised vocals and trading countermelodies. This unusual shared frontmanship is one of several elements that sets Heidevolk apart from other metal bands.

Guitarists Reamon Bomenbreker and Kevin Vruchtbaard have a majestic stage presence that is, at times, theatrical without being over-the-top or distracting from the frontmen. Both men are comfortably at ease onstage and their enjoyment of playing comes over to the audience, encouraging the already frenetic moshing, headbanging and fist-pumping that was happening down front.  Lightning-fast rhythm sections are expertly executed and include a complexity that sits the music perhaps across the street and up the road from power metal. Dagger-sharp tremolo picking and cantering rhythms that bolt forward juxtapose with short, melodic runs that keep pushing the songs forward and break up longer riffs. Longer lead sections often include intricate and technical compositions, occasionally twinned and harmonised with more synchronisation than the 2012 Olympic Synchronised Swimming team. Slower solos melt more faces than a homicidal, telekinetic pyromaniac and soar above the rest of the music. Throughout the set, there is a sense that the guitars are creating their own story – separate to but in conjunction with the stories being told by the vocals and the lyrics.

Bassist Rowan Roodbaert could easily get lost between the complexity of the dual vocals and dual guitars. However – he makes sure this doesn’t happen. Roodbaert’s bass does more than keep the root notes – or keep the time. At times it walks up the guitars’ tremolo-picked chords, giving a melodic focal point for the audience – and interest. At other times, it provides a counterpoint, responding to the guitarists’ riffs. Still at other times, Roodbaert’s bass has its own melody – and indeed during several points in the gig, it is clear that the guitars have taken over the rhythm duties and Roodbaert moves to take a leading role. This particularly works with the composition of the band – since the vocals are so low, having the bass as a lead instrument is effective: it is in the same aural range and doesn’t have as much to cut through as it might in a band made up with a different balance. He capably harmonises with the guitars at some points and consistently keeps the songs driving forward. Roodbaert is the quintessential, flexible bassist – able to master all trades. Drummer Joost den Vellenknotscher seems like he must be a fun guy – possibly the joker of the band, simply judging by his facial expressions and antics onstage (e.g. stick spinning – and the inexplicable blue balloon tied to his kit). However, the theatrics don’t detract from his performance, which was impeccable. He manages time changes and extra bars that – well, if the tremolo picked rhythm guitar sections are across the street from power metal, this drumming is sitting on prog’s front porch. Occasional spurts of almost thrash-quick pounding show that Vellenknotscher isn’t above ‘hitting things’ (to quote Terry Pratchett). Meanwhile, his finesse with other, more intricate sections prove his pendulum-like  (the clock part, not the band) sense of timing, which keeps the whole performance on track, on tempo and on time.

Overall, judging by the crowd reaction – and the cries for more encores – Heidevolk was well and truly overdue for a headline slot in the UK. They more than lived up to the hype they generated. Graciously thanking the support bands, organiser, backstage crew and the crowd, they also proved themselves to be gracious and modest. As the lights came back up after their set and dazed metalheads started to find their ways resignedly to the doors, it was clear that tonight the crowd had witnessed something pretty folkin’ special [Ed – NO MORE PUNS! PLEASE!]. [5/5]

Melissa Adams

Photography by James David Brough.

Jorvik Festival 2013: Let’s get Pillaged

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 20th January 2013 by underthenorthernstar

This February, the annual Jorvik Viking festival will be underway, and those of us who were there last year will be getting very excited indeed around this time. Why? Well, the lovely people at Asgard Promotions brought us a stunning show in the form of the mighty Tyr last year, and they plan to pull it off again; this year, they’ve managed to secure folk metal heavyweights Heidevolk for us, not to mention the devastatingly good Irish black metallers Celtachor and stunning Yorkshire symphonic-y folk-y metal outfit Cryptic Age. Aren’t they brilliant? Go and buy tickets and/or some of their excellent selection of Viking/Celtic jewellery HERE. Tickets are only 15 quid, and we can assure you, VM was there last year; this event is phenomenal.

Celtachor have just released their debut album, Nine Waves from the Shore, which you can purchase/listen to HERE, as did Cryptic Age with the recent Sounds of Infinity. Get it HERE.

Also, Heidevolk just released a new music video; Here is Als De Dood Weer Naar Ons Lacht!



Alasdair “Scotch Egg” Dunn

Brid Rocks 2012: Day One

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 23rd August 2012 by Nico Davidson

First Principle, Cryptic Age, Alice In Thunder and More
Bridlington Sports & Community Centre
Saturday 18th August

And once again, it was that time of year for Brid Rocks Open Air, the low-key, family-friendly and more diverse answer to bigger festivals like Download and Bloodstock. The line-up for this year boasted some of the acts from last year such as Cryptic Age, Alice in Thunderland and Ravenage along with some new, different acts such as Rebecca Arundell and Pandemonium.

Opening up the proceedings were Bridlington’s own young hard rocking upstarts First Principle. This was the first time I’d seen them with new bassist, Patrick Hogg. The young trio bombarded the crowd with an arsenal of clean sounding riffs mixed with punchy basslines and acute drum work. The trio show a lot of potential for such a young band, displaying some well written pieces such as the catchy song Astronaut and the more 50s sounding Into The Blue. Frontman Martin Secker’s vocal stylings went down a treat with the crowd, especially when First Principle paid a powerful, hard rockin’ tribute to Led Zepplin with The Immigrant Song.

https://www.facebook.com/FirstPrinciple

FIRST PRINCIPLE

Bringing a new sound to the stage were covers band Renegade, who despite being an entertaining live act, lacked in the vocal department though their performance of Bye Bye Baby (originally by The Basic Rollers) had a very raw sound that was near-beautifully performed. The frontman beamed with charisma through the entire, almost flawless set.

It was the hour of twilight by the time York’s power-folk metallers Cryptic Age descended down on the stage at Brid Rocks, which added to the haunting and ethereal atmosphere of their set as they conjured forth the dark, symphonic stylings of Perpetually Blind and Eternity Beckons. The sea of lights that illuminated the band added to the haunting feel that radiated from their set. The folk-orientated Horsemen of the Vale encouraged a few members of the crowd to dance as Cryptic Age wrought folkin’ havoc down upon the crowd with a blend of a clean sound, angelic vocals and masterful musicianship.

https://www.facebook.com/crypticage

CRYPTIC AGE

Night had fully fallen as Bridlington’s own classic rockers Alice In Thunderland called forth an enhanced sound. This was their second performance with new guitarist Chris I’Anson, who sounded as if he’d been in the band since they first formed. AIT blasted through tracks such as Hey Hey, which they dedicated to everyone who had bought a ticket, and a thrashy, face-melting version of Crazy Train, while new guitarist Chris incorporated some new exotic sounds in the set such as Arabic-styled solos and some new, fresher modern influence.

https://www.facebook.com/AliceInThunderlandUK

ALICE IN THUNDERLAND

Sadly, I had left before Isengard (Not to be confused with Fenriz’s Isengard) had set up as I due elsewhere for another gig though I had been informed the next day that they had performed well.

Nico Davidson

PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID FERRET TAYLOR – http://facebook.com/DFTPhotography

“Sounds Of Infinity” Album Launch @ Fibbers, York

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , on 17th June 2012 by Nico Davidson

Cryptic Age, Ravenage
Fibers, York
26th May 2012

Having been fans of Cryptic Age since seeing them play the Bloodstock Metal 2 the Masses heat in Selby last year, my friends and I were anticipating the ‘Sounds of Infinity’ launch with excitement. The line-up on the bill did not disappoint. In fact, the evening was so enjoyable that we christened the evening ‘Yorkstock’. Unfortunately, I was not able to see the first or third bands of the evening – due to arriving shortly before Ravenage began their set and human needs for food and alcohol.

Ravenage’s unique blend of medieval-inspired folk metal was catchy and infused the crowd with excitement. Taking to the stage, the band created instant impact with plain medieval tunics. This could be gimmicky for a band who lacked the talent to back it up – however, Ravenage’s members possess talent in spades. They also don’t become too hyperbolic with the image so it adds to the overall effect of their music – rather than detracting – and is fun, rather than cheesy.

When watching Ravenage, their prolific stage experience is clear. They are tighter than medieval churches’ thumbscrews and their stage presence is second to none – even including bands signed to major labels. Their solidity as a unit is driven by the talented drummer ‘Eldgrim’, who engineers the machine steadily forward throughout the set. (More on ‘Eldgrim’ later, in his set as Cryptic Age’s drummer). Bassist ‘Ragnar’ expertly provides the glue that adheres the lead section to the drums. Ragnar does more as a bassist than simply provide root notes, adding a unique dimension to the music.

Guitarists ‘Dagstyrr’ and ‘Einar’ proficiently make their guitars sing, cry, laugh and tell a thousand stories of times long forgotten. Their melodies are catchy, which is necessary for a band that is so close to black metal in genre. It is keyboardist ‘Windrider’ who cements the band’s identifiable sound as so unique. Though rarely used as a lead instrument, the atmosphere generated through well-chosen effects and distinctive harmonies furthers the archaic image of the band. Windrider also skilfully adds deep, growling backing vocals to highlight and counterplay key phrases.

Vocalist ‘Glyn the Heralder’ is a gifted frontman and works the crowd like silly putty, vigorously moving across the stage. Glyn’s powerful, aggressive, growled vocals are melodic and his lyrics are always clear. He adeptly manipulates his voice, both on longer, extended phrases and on faster lyrics that fire, with machine-gun intensity, at the crowd.

Overall, Ravenage were a thoroughly enjoyable experience, like getting out of a bath of mead and wrapping yourself in a blanket of homespun cotton. They certainly left the crowd enthusiastic both for ‘More Beer’ – and for more metal!

The Germans are well known for creating long words that encompass ideas (e.g. schadenfreude). To adapt this phenomenon to English – and to describe Cryptic Age – the best word would be ‘MysteriousepicmelodicfolkCelticdifferentprogressivemetal’.

Adorning the stage were large banners of the album’s cover art, advertising the CD, further adding to the festival atmosphere. Despite somewhat cramping the stage, they definitely looked impressive and professional. There isn’t another band quite like Cryptic Age but their performance on the 26th definitely put them in the league with bands such as Nightwish and Within Temptation.

Drummer Alex Bransden (recovered from his set with Ravenage) was a metronome, ably managing numerous tempo and time signature changes, driving the band’s performance forward. He skilfully shifts between tribal-like drumming, steady, driving beats and faster, almost thrash-like double kick.

The bass guitar is an often overlooked instrument. When bands have only a single guitar (as Cryptic Age does), the bassist’s normal duties double. Tom Keeley provided a solid, driving engine, an almost thrumming, pulsing beat, while still providing some countermelody and harmony. He also seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself, grinning from ear to ear and headbanging his way through the set.

Hallam Smith’s guitar work was spectacular – he pulled double duty both as a rhythm player beneath keyboard solos and as a lead instrument. His rhythm work was solid and driving and he clearly enjoys an intuitive relationship with Keeley. His lead work ranged from intricate and technical to passionate and emotive – while technically an extremely skilled player, Smith is able to express, through six strings, a gauntlet of emotions, adding to the dramatic effect of the music.

As with Ravenage, it is the keyboards (and folky melodies) that really set Cryptic Age apart from other metal bands. Frontwoman and keyboardist Jenny Green utilises well-chosen effects and has skilfully chosen melodies that conjure up a variety of images – from a wind-swept plain to an Irish pub to a fairy realm to a classical concert hall.  Green’s keyboard expertise was clearly prevalent on the 26th – they sounded the same live as they do on the recording. The band makes use of Green’s skills effectively, including long, instrumental sections that still have a lot of variety, holding the audience’s interests.

Of course, Green’s main function is to serve as a vocalist and frontwoman. She has a wonderfully effortless coloratura soprano voice, easily climbing up to top Bs and Cs without sounding like she is straining. The image her voice conjures up is of someone reclining on a cloud – high, relaxed and floating. Her voice easily sits on top of the music, pitch-perfect – and it really is its own instrument, telling its own stories. Fortunately as well, due to clever orchestration (and talent) Green is able to perform both keyboard and vocalist duties to a high standard, so that the one does not detract from the other.

Overall, Cryptic Age’s ‘Sounds of Infinity’ album launch was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, further solidifying their place as a talented, unique band ready to take the world by storm.

“Take me away / let me be free / show me the way / to infinity.” That you did, Cryptic Age. That you certainly did.

Melissa ‘Aonia’ Adams

Cryptic Age – Sounds Of Infinity

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 11th June 2012 by Nico Davidson

Cryptic Age
Sounds Of Infinity
Released 26th May 2012
Power-Folk Metal
Self-Released

Cryptic Age are a relatively young band on the metal scene but they’ve already penned a mighty beginning to what could be a very long legacy which includes sharing the stage with folk metal legends Skyclad and black metal heroes Hecate Enthroned, as well as the release of their debut EP last year and it doesn’t end there, Cryptic Age will be sharing the stage with Latvian folk metal heavyweights Skyforger in September at the first ever Warhorns Festival, as well as playing Metalcamp a month before and this year has seen the release of their first full-length release: Sounds Of Infinity, an album that I’ve been waiting to hear since they announced they were recording it. I think it’s safe to say I may have got a little excited when I received it.

Sheayn ny Feaynid is the first track of the album and what a way to begin the album. The dark orchestration and monologue create a very mythic yet tragic sound which really does set the mood. Maelstrom follows next with a powerful symphonic sound blended in more hard rock styled riffs. The vocals are impeccable, adding an undoubtful spirit to the track. The chorus is very poignant, staying with you long after listening to the song. The tribal-like drumming of Fortuneteller signals in a change of sound for the album, with a use of exotic sounding riffs that tease the ears in a similar manner to a fine wine teasing the taste buds. The vocals are very harrowing, which suits the mystical and exotic soundings of the keyboards and the callous guitar and bass sections. The guitar solo embeds a modern sound into the track, which fortunately doesn’t dampen the track.

Horsemen of the Vale signals another change of sound for the album, ushering grand, majestic and epic riffs. The vocal sections are very arioso and dulcet. The keyboards really shine out in parts of the song, keeping the symphonic element strong. The end of the song has a genius touch with the sound of a glass smashing followed “Bloody Lancashire bastard. I’ll have ya!” – Though I doubt anyone other than Yorkshire folk will appreciate that section. The beginning of The Aftermath sounds like a scene from 300 before the Ensiferum-like riffs ravage through the speakers like a horde of angry Celts. The vocals, much like the guitars and drum sections, are strong yet aggressive. The monologue towards the halfway point of the track is mystifying and enchanting and the section that follows after is a beautiful yet savage mixture of symphonic and heavy elements. The calmer section, composed of flutes leads back into the Ensiferum-like riffs, rather masterfully. Sea Invocation is possibly the most bewitching song on the album, containing a medieval essence. It’s an unexpected track and yet it fits ever so perfectly on the album. It’s certainly a track any fans of Celtic music.

Perpetually Blind (Sounds of Infinity: Part I) begins with an enchanting vocal melody that gradually leads into a mighty symphonic piece. The guitar riffs are interesting, sounding like a twisted power metal riff. The symphonic parts of the track add a very august sound to the track, making it feel more tragic than one of Shakespeare’s plays. The next track Eternity Beckons (Sounds Of Infinity: Part II) carries on the aphotic sound, with the vocals sounding extra gloomy whilst the guitars and drums thrum on like a finely tuned machine. The monologue adds a mystique to the track, fitting in well with the aphotic sound of the quadrilogy. Seeking The Cure (Sounds of Infinity: Part III) begins with a keyboard section that eerily sounds like something from a Final Fantasy game mixed in with a dash of post-Tarja Nightwish. The orchestration and guitars make or an interesting blend throughout the track, as do the drums in certain sections. One of the most interesting sections of the song is the bluesy solo. Sounds Of Infinity (Sounds Of Infinity: Part IV) ushers in the end of the album, beginning with a whisper followed by a callous and heavy barrage of guitars, drums and keys. The Gaelic sound parts of the song certainly conjure up one’s inner Celt (or in my case, one’s Scottish and Irish heritage), adding a unique, hypnotic sound to the album. The vocals are mesmerizing and dynamic, enforcing the unique sound of the song, while the guitars and bass are more on the aggressive, inserting some fierce excitement to the track.

I’m not quite sure how to summarise my thoughts on the album into one last paragraph as I’ve never heard an album quite like this. Each track seems to take on a life of its own and tells a different story through the music. Cryptic Age have surpassed so many bands of their genre with this release and have proven themselves, once again, a folkin’ force to be reckoned with. Cryptic Age are definitely one of the finest folk metal bands on the scene and Sounds Of Infinity might just become an influential album on the scene.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Interview: Jenny Green [Cryptic Age]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , on 5th June 2012 by markssonofjorvik

For York based Folk Metal band CRYPTIC AGE 2012 is going to be one hell of a year and a year that should see them truly emerge and blossom on to the scene. This is the year that Cryptic Age release their debut album entitled ‘Sounds Of Infinity’ and for a teaser if you visit their website you can stream the excellent new track from the album, ‘Eternity Beckons’.

If you think that is all the band have on though you’d better guess again. This year will see Cryptic Age grace the stage at both the Metalcamp Festival in Slovenia as well as the Warhorns Festival right here in York with the mighty Skyforger.

So with all that in mind, here is what keyboard player and vocalist Jenny Green had to say on all things Cryptic Age, from the new album to metalcamp with a stop off on the Isle Of Man for good measure.

With this being your debut album, were there any nerves or worries regarding the writing process?

I wouldn’t say nerves, but I think we took a step up from our EP on the quality of the songs. Sometimes we made up a really good riff really fast, but other times we changed things a lot until we thought they sounded good enough.

How do you feel the overall finished article has come out?

We are personally very happy with it. We’ve managed to accumulate a style we were still trying to find with our EP, the overall sound quality is far better than before and the songs flow together very well. And also the artwork is amazing!

Who was responsible for the artwork?

The artwork was done by two guys who make up a small company called Kogain Art. The album art was up for sale, but it was archived on the website so it was pure chance that we managed to find it.

What was the bands inspiration lyrically and musically for Sounds Of Infinity?

Well our inspiration on both musical and lyrical terms for the album came from countless places. We did stick to a few rules though, in that we wanted the album to maintain its overall folky sound which is the bread and butter, while the more symphonic, black, thrash and progressive elements are extra factors of our music that we think give us a unique style.

With the lyrics, we also had a few rules. We wanted to put more Manx Gaelic on there because of popular demand and of course we wanted them to be memorable and visual. The only difference is the sixth track Sea Invocation, which is an arrangement of a Manx traditional song.

So where does your love of folkish/gaelic styles come from?

For me it comes from my upbringing on the Isle of Man. Manx folk music I suppose sounds very similar to Irish music but still has its unique aspects. So we like to maintain a real sense of folk metal which stems from Manx folk music, which gives our sound subtle differences to possibly the more generic folk sound other bands may use. And of course I love folk metal ever since I got into Finntroll and Eluveitie. In fact it’s probably my favourite metal genre.

So part of the new album is a four parter by the same name as the album, whats it about?

Well it’s based off a Manx legend where if you put your head to the ground on top of Dalby mountain, you can hear the sounds of spirits, known as Sheean ny Feaynid. This loosely translates as ‘Sounds of Infinity’ although it also means ‘Sounds from Space’ so I personally wanted to re-capture this theme in the concept of revelation that there is so much more out there than one may first think. The story itself is something we wrote: I play a Manx woman whose husband is out at sea during a terrible storm. Unfortunately he doesn’t make it back alive and I becoming mad with grief. I then remember the legend of Sheean ny Feaynid and set out to Dalby mountain to find them. I finally reach them and then supposedly they take me up so I can be united with my husband once again. However we left the ending very ambiguous. For all we know she could have committed suicide from madness and these spirits never existed, or it could have actually happened. It’s left to the imagination of the listener.

 

Now the new album isn’t the only exciting thing going on with Cryptic Age right now, how did the Metalcamp Festival slot come about?

Well we were very surprised at this – all we did was register our band on the metalcamp website. Then there was some kind of poll as to which unsigned bands should play and we were on there. We thought nothing of it and there was no word on it for months. But then suddenly Hallam got an email from them and there we have it.

Thats amazing, so which bands on the bill are you looking forward to sharing the stage with?

Well the rest of the bands on the second stage are none we have heard of since most come from Slovakia or Croatia, however I’m looking forward to seeing the Furious Horde since they’re symphonic black metal, which I love, and of course they are a band reigning from familiar territory. We also got a message from Avven who said they were looking forward to seeing us. On the first stage there are so many bands I can’t wait to see: Epica, Finntroll, Eluveitie and Scepticflesh to name a few.

That’s going to be an excellent experience, and then you’ve also got a spot at the Warhorns Festival supporting amongst others Skyforger, so would you say 2012 is really going to be the year that boosts your musical career?

Well I never like to predict the future too much, but I can certainly say that we’ve made great progress this year and hopefully next year will be the same!

The new album from CRYPTIC AGE is out right now and you can buy it HERE!

Cryptic Age – Eternity Beckons

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 24th May 2012 by Nico Davidson

Band: Cryptic Age
Single: Eternity Beckons (Sounds of Infinity II)
Release date: 18th May 2012
Genre: Power-Folk Metal
Label: Unsigned/Self-Released

Cryptic Age have been a rising star in the UK’s metal scene over this year and they’ve done a lot more in their first year than most bands do, including sharing the stage with big names such as Skyclad and the release of their debut EP Homeland. Recently Cryptic Age were confirmed to play Metalcamp this year. So, it’s come to no surprise that their album Sounds Of Infinity will soon be available and just to tease us a little, they released Eternity Beckons (Part two of the Sounds of Infinity series).

Eternity Beckons starts up with a dark, tense symphonic introduction, in a similar vein to Epica, though much more darker. The guitar riffs are heavier than what I’m used to hearing performed by Cryptic Age, but I’m not complaining since they match up well with the atmosphere of the song. The vocals are beautifully performed, though somewhat haunting, almost siren-like. The narrative part, roughly halfway through, creates a certain enchanting mystique. The drums and bass bounce off each other magnificently through the song, working well with the guitars and the occasional keyboard section.

There’s very few songs that send chills up my spines upon hearing them and Eternity Beckons is now amongst them – Of course, I mean that in the good sense since it’s very rare to find a song of such epic proportions. The song has that unique Cimmerian shade about it that helps add the emotion and beauty to the song. Though the song does stray away from what I’m used to hearing from Cryptic Age, it still is a fine composition and has made me somewhat more impatient to hear the album.

Nico Davidson

Interview: Tom Keeley [Feb 2012]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 12th February 2012 by Nico Davidson

Cryptic Age are a York-based folk-power metal band consisting of your members. In the last year, they’ve played several gigs around the UK and have gone onto support acts such as Hecate Enthroned and Skyclad, as well headline our own Valkyrian Festival. With the future looking bright for this young band, Nico catches up with Cryptic Age’s bassist Tom Keeley.

Nico: When did you start learning bass and why?

Tom: Started playing bass when I was about 16. Some mates were big into AC/DC and wanted to start a tribute band and they said I looked a bit like Cliff Williams. So I bought a bass and started learning.

N: How did you become a part of Cryptic Age?

T: I was looking for a band as I had been floating in between bands, nothing special, some dodgy metal bands that were going nowhere. So I saw an ad that looked promising and took it up. I was the first to reply luckily, glad I was.

N: What’s the progress of the upcoming album, Sounds of Infinity?

T: The songs are almost all written, I think we might try for another two, maybe a cover, nothing is set in stone. But the bulk of the song writing is finished and we’re all really happy with the sound and looking forward to recording the new material, it’s going to sound massive! We have about half of the album recorded, songs we’ve had for almost a year. So progress is damn good.

N: Will you be touring when the album is out? If so, will you be touring Scotland as well as England?

T: A tour would be incredible but it all costs money, and with only two of us working it’s difficult to fund for just ourselves. But we certainly have gigs booked in the future, trying to get on some big dates. And we are always looking to play further away from home to spread the word, so Scotland would be great, I’ve heard there’s some fantastic venues in Glasgow.

N: Speaking of touring, which band would you most like tour with?

T: Personally I would love for us to tour with Rhapsody, that would be a dream. But in terms of bands we’ve played with already, I would love to play more with Infernal Creation, they are an awesome live band and the more chances I get to see them the better. Would be going to see them support Fleshgod [Apocalypse] but I already bought tickets for Steve Hughes!

N: Later this month, you’ll be supporting Tyr with your other band, Ravenage. How are you feeling about that?

T: It’s of course a great honour to support such a great band and it’s sure to be fun. Also a special gig for me, but maybe I’ll keep that to myself.

N: It’s still early on in 2012, aside for recording and releasing the new Cryptic Age album, what are your plans for the rest of the year?

T: We don’t really have a plan set out for the year. We had one goal last year that we came close to achieving but got pipped at the last hurdle. Maybe this year we can achieve it. Apart from that I guess the overall goal for the band is to get a label behind us to promote the music and play to larger audiences.

Interview: Jenny Green [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 3rd November 2011 by Nico Davidson

Since March, Cryptic Age have been on the rise in the British metal underground supporting acts such as Hecate Enthroned and Skyclad, as well as Ravenage and Morpheus Rising. The release of their Homeland EP also helped gain them exposure, being reviewed on several different sites. Cryptic Age will also be releasing a new album early next year. Valkyrian Music editor and promoter, Nico Davidson, has a chat with Cryptic Age’s frontwoman “The Manx Maiden” Jenny Green about the new album, the band and their previous gigs.

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Nico: Aside from the concept of the new album, do you feel that it will differ in any way – lyrically or musically speaking – from the Homeland EP?

Jenny: Definitely. The lyrics cover a more expansive range of material – we still keep the Manx folky aspect but we’ve also got other songs that look away from this. Musically, it’ll be a more progressive album overall with more symphonic elements, but still keeping the folk metal as the main feature. We’ll also be getting a few guests to play and sing for us – this album’s gonna be epic!

N: Do you feel that Cryptic Age’s music differs from most folk and female fronted metal bands? If so, why and how?

J: Well in folk metal you normally have a growler or at least someone who sings cleanly but isn’t classically-trained. I also think that the fact I play keyboards while still being the front-woman is a unique edge to our band.

N: Since March, Cryptic Age have shared the stage with a long list of bands and played a number of shows, which one, for you, has been the best one you’ve played so far?

J: For me I’d say it was our second gig at Stereo, which we headlined. It was great to see so many people there and it was one of the gigs we’ve played our best at! The first round of Metal 2 the Masses was pretty good as well – we played our first two songs really badly but then everything changed and we got a really great reaction from the crowd.

N: Are there any shows that you’re looking forward to playing?

J: Well yes – there’s Valk Fest [Valkyrian Festival] of course, and we’ve also got the S.O.P.H.I.E fest in Manchester we’re playing at beforehand. We haven’t really got any more shows planned  for now, however we’re hoping to get a couple lined up with some new bands we’ve never played with before. There is another show we’ve got lined up for February which is VERY exciting, but it’s all hush-hush I’m afraid so I can’t say anymore.

N: Cryptic Age’s lyrics – as you stated in an interview with another site – are mostly influenced by legends from the Isle of Man, so where is it that the influence from the music comes from?

J: Well On the Bare Cold Ground is the best example. It tells the story of the Moddey-Doo (Black Dog) which haunts Peel Castle in the west of the island. Guards normally travelled in groups to lock the gatehouse for fear of being killed by the ghostly dog, and a drunken guard becomes so overconfident he decides to lock the gatehouse on his own. Of course, to the horror of the others, he never returns. The Manx lyrics in Homeland are a poem about a storm in Port St. Mary harbour where a family of fishermen are trapped on their boat. In the four-parter Sounds of Infinity the lyrics are based on a legend even I didn’t know about which consists of travellers being able to hear the sounds of other-worldly men at the top of a mountain. Also another one of our songs in-progress for the new album has been taken from Manx history and we’ve turned it into our own story. There’s many Manx legends so we have a lot to work with.

N: Cryptic Age are booked to play our [Valkyrian Music‘s] charity event – Valkyrian Festival – on 27th, this will be the second show that Cryptic Age will have headlined, how are you feeling about it?

J: Very excited! For me it’s always more fun headlining gigs because you get a bigger audience and more people will have come to see us, in theory. It’s also great we’re headlining a festival – even though it’s not the biggest in the world it’s still something we can tell everybody, and I know there’s lots of our fans coming so it’ll be great!

N: Does the band have any plans – aside from the release of Sounds of Infinity – for 2012?

J: Well we never get out an official checklist and say, “We need to get this done by such and such a time.” and then tick it off. We’re currently in the process of sending out press packs to record labels, and basically promoting ourselves with bigger festivals such as Bloodstock and Metalcamp, the latter of which we might be playing at if we get enough votes!

N: How is the progress with the new album going? Are there any more details you can tell us about it?

J: Well I’ve revealed a lot more stuff already I guess, but the writing is going alright. We’re currently in the process of writing Sounds of Infinity Part III which’ll be a good old instrumental, and we’ve got a few riffs we’re playing around with for some new songs. Part I is coming together quite nicely behind the scenes. It’s going to be folky and mostly acoustic, based on a Manx sea shanty.

N: Cryptic Age are known to perform a metal cover of the “Game Of Thrones” intro medley at live shows and the band have also released a recorded version of it on Youtube, are there any more plans for covers like that?

J: Not really, certainly for now. The cover for GoT was a pretty spontaneous thing – we just liked playing it because it’s such a good tune and then we thought, “Why not cover it?”.

N: Are there any bands from your area that you’d recommend our readers to check out?

J: If you haven’t checked them out already, take a look at Lost Effect. They play melodic death metal and they’ve recently got a new singer. Infernal Creation are a great band too – they play insane Black Metal and put on a great show!

Cryptic Age will be headlining Valkyrian Festival on 27th November at The Ringside in Hull. For more news and information about the band, check out either their official website: http://crypticage.co.uk or their official Facebook: http://facebook.com/crypticage
For live videos for Cryptic Age, go to the official Valkyrian Music Youtube channel: http://youtube.com/user/ValkyrianMusicUK

Band Of The Month [November, 2011]: Aonia

Posted in Band Of The Month with tags , , , , , , , , on 1st November 2011 by Nico Davidson

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Following recent revelations involving the voting being rigged, we were forced to randomly select a BOTM for this month [November]. We are pleased to announce that Aonia are this month’s Band of the Month!

In the Greek mythos, “Aonia” is the place where muses dwell near Helicon mountain. Though their name is derived from classical mythology, Aonia’s music is far from being classical. With riffs that roar like the thunder of Olympus and strong operatic vocals provided by their front woman Mel, Aonia have been on the rise for the past few years sharing the stage with the likes of Evil Scarecrow and Scarlet’s Wake.

Unlike most female fronted bands, Aonia lack a heavy emphasis on the symphonic element, helping add to their unique and mythic sound. f you like bands and artists like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Epica, ReVamp, After Forever, Leaves Eyes, Delain or Tarja then check out Aonia.

Aonia will also be playing Valkyrian Festival later this month with Cryptic Age, XIII, Infernal Creation and many more.

Rating: 5/5

Links:

Official website: http://www.aonia.co.uk/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/AoniaUK/
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/aoniaband
youTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/AoniaBand

Band Of The Month [November – Voting]

Posted in Band Of The Month with tags , , , , , , , on 25th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

It’s that time of the month, where you get to vote for the next Band Of The Month!

Voting will last for one week [25th October – 31st October].

The nominees are:

XIII
Cryptic Age
Windrider
Northern Oak
Her Dark Embrace
Sea Of Giants
Infernal Creation 
Aonia 

From The Depths Compilation Track Listing Finalised

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 16th October 2011 by Nico Davidson


The track list for From The Depths, which will be available for free download on 17th October, has now been finalised. The compilation will feature tracks by The Obscene, Windrider, Aloeswood, Cryptic Age, Escape From and many more from the international underground music scenes. The compilation will also feature an exclusive, currently unreleased track by Lancastrian metal outfit Wolfthorn. The track list is as followed:

1. ESCAPE FROM – Oni
2. THE DOSADI EXPERIMENT – Predestination For The Labyrinth
3. BLODRAVN – Words Of The High One
4. AONIA – Gift Of The Curse
5. CELTACHOR – In The Halls of Nuada
6. WINDRIDER – Hall Of The Slain
7. BAALBERITH – God that Never Was
8. WOLFTHORN – Light The Beltane Fires
9. REPULSIVE VISION – Force Fed Acid
10. EINHER SKALD – Drinking In Valhalla
11. CRYPTIC AGE – On The Bare Cold Ground
12. HER DARK EMBRACE – Flatline
13. GÜRZ – Göç
14. PASTEL JACK – Trojan Horse
15. ZIYOS – Ascension
16. FOREVER AND A DAY  – Heebeegeebees
17. MORLICH – A Throne in the Darkness
18. THE OBSCENE – Embrace Oblivion
19. ALOESWOOD – Nostalgia
20. NORTHSONG – Mountains Of Madness
21. THECITYISOURS – Ghosts
22. DEFORMATION OF MAN – Dust & Sound
23. HRAFNLBLÓÐ – The Battle (Of Teutoburg Forest)

Morpheus Rising w/Support [Live Review]

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 10th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Morpheus Rising, Lost Effect & Cryptic Age
Location: The Duchess, York
Date: 8th October 2011

Morpheus Rising have established a strong fan base with their NWOBHM styling, so with them on the bill, any show is guaranteed to be a good night. The only thing to make it better would be to add fellow York-based bands to the bill in the form of Lost Effect [This was their first gig with their new vocalist] and Cryptic Age.

The night began with the female-fronted folk metal quartet, Cryptic Age, opening up. The crowd was small to begin with though that didn’t stop the band from being in their element up on stage. Cryptic Age’s sound sounded massive as it echoed throughout the venue, as they performed songs such as “No Folkin’ Way” and “On The Bare, Cold Ground”, both of which are from their EP “Homeland”. The bassist’s spoken part in “The Aftermath” created a very epic atmosphere. They also performed for the first time ever “Eternity Beckons”, part two of “Sounds Of Infinity”, which will be featured on their album [Sounds Of Infinity]. The song had a short yet majestic, symphonic sound before turning into a heavy assault of metal – Probably the heaviest song Cryptic Age have ever written and performed. They received a brilliant reaction from the crowd after each song.


Lost Effect were the main support for the night and as mentioned above, this was their first gig with their new vocalist, Emily. Lost Effect’s set was a brilliant mix of mellow and brutal music, sort of like a less symphonic, more Yorkshire styled version of Epica. The new vocalist, with all due respect to her predecessor, seemed to gel with the band superbly – Stronger vocals and great stage presence, though she did seem nervous throughout parts of Lost effect’s set, though this didn’t affect the overall performance. “Whispers” was certainly a highlight of the set.



Morpheus Rising took to the stage shortly after putting on an immense show in true NWOBHM fashion. The vocals of the frontman were nothing short of amazing while the twin guitar work kept the crowd on wanting more from the band. they had a very 80s kind of sound with a modern twist mixed in there as well. “The Gypsy King” – Which caused a slight wave of giggles from some of the audience when it was announced – and “Shades Of Grey” were definitely crowd favourites performed by Morpheus Rising. The only thing that was off-putting about their set was the lack of a crowd, which was both shocking and concerning considering the sheer brilliance of the band.



The overall verdict: Definitely a gig that could easily secure a spot in the top ten gigs of 2011. Both support acts [Cryptic Age & Lost Effect] put on simply amazing performances and there was no better choice for a headlining act than Morpheus Rising. Any promoter with half a brain cell would want to book a show of this calibre for sometime in the future.

Nico Davidson

Photos of the gig are available on the Valkyrian Music Facebook page.

Cryptic Age Album Update

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 1st September 2011 by Nico Davidson

Cryptic Age have released news about their next album “Sounds Of Infinity” on their blog. Though the album isn’t a concept album, the band have stated that there will be an epic four-parter on the new album that will be a concept called “Sounds Of Infinity”, taking its name from the album’s title. According to their blog, the epic four-parter will be about a mysterious Manx spirit. Cryptic Age are hoping to release the new album sometime next year.

You can read Cryptic Age’s update about the album here.

Don’t forget Cryptic Age will be playing at Ravenage’s album release show later this month, as well as the SOPHIE Festival in Manchester in November.

Cryptic Age will also be headlining Valkyrian Festival 2011 in November.

Brid Rocks 2011 [Live Review]

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , on 8th August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Ravenage, Alice In Thunderland, Soulflame, Abbie Lammas, Leanne Burton, Blaming Eddie and many more.
Location: Bridlington Sports and Community Centre, Bridlington
Date: 6th – 7th August

Saturday

The gate opened at 6pm and few people began entering the open grounds of the Sports and Community Centre. The first band to take the stage were Remix. Their performance wasn’t impressive. They relied on sheet music, which seems like they weren’t putting much effort into the music. The vocals were louder than everything else and the female vocals were somewhat mediocre. The only redeeming thing about their set was the saxophone part in the performance of “The Love Motion”. The response from the crowd seemed half-hearted, as they seemed to be paying more attention to the cricket game that happening on the far end of the grounds.

The second band to take the stage were young pop-punk band “Blaming Eddie”. Their set was far more energetic and entertaining than the opening band. They performed a brilliant cover of Enter Shikari’s “Sorry, You’re Not A Winner” as well as some of their own stuff. The original songs they played had a very mixed sound between rock, metalcore and pop-punk – But it was a good sounding mix. Blaming Eddie are certainly a band to see if you like your music raw and energetic.

The third act of the night was none other than Bridlington’s own Leanne Burton! Her performance was simply amazing. She had a strong stage presence and a powerful voice. Her acoustic versions of “Price Tag” [Originally by Jessie J] and “Sex On Fire” [Originally by Kings Of Leon] went down well with the crowd as well. Following Leanne’s act were the mighty Cryptic Age. Their set began with a metal version of the “Game Of Thrones” theme into “Homeland”. The rest of Cryptic Age’s set consisted of songs such as “On The Cold, Bare Ground”. The crowd certainly enjoyed Cryptic Age’s set – Even the kids were dancing to the music, with some of them imitating the bassist’s every move.

Soulflame took the stage afterwards, performing a great set which included songs such as “You’re Safe”, “Last Cowboy” and “Get a Grip”. Their music certainly had a very Black Stone Cherry sound and feel to it, which certainly entertained the crowd. Epic Yorkshire Viking metallers “Ravenage” ascended to the stage afterwards. They performed a great set, which included songs from their upcoming album “Fresh From Fields Of Victory”. One of the most entertaining songs of the set was “Northbound”, a song inspired by Bernard Cornwell’s “Lords Of The North”.


The last band of the Saturday night were Led-Zep/DC, a Led Zeplin and AC/DC tribute band. They were probably the band that the crowd loved the most on the Saturday night and it’s no surprise since they performed each song, such as “The Immigrant Song” and “High Voltage” flawlessly.

Sunday

The first artist to begin the Sunday was Bridlington’s own folk-pop punk singer-guitarist Ben Parcell. He performed mostly his own material, except for one cover. The highlight of his set was “Imaginary Girl”. Ben Parcell demonstrated strong vocals and brilliant guitar playing skills, though it must have been somewhat disheartening for him due to the small size of the crowd. Loose Coverz followed after, performing songs such as “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Mama Mia”. Tom Burgundy performed soon after with Frank Sinatra styled songs.

The acoustic trio known as “Crush” took to the stage with a mixture of calm acoustic riffs and strong and raw vocals. They performed original songs such as “Slow Boat To China”. Bridlington-based cover band “Castles Made Of Sand” impressed the slowly growing crowd with their energetic performance and brilliant covers of old classics such as “Black Magic Woman”. Coz Commando joined them for a few songs on the keyboard as well. Rat pack styled material was performed by the powerful-voiced Frank Martin. East American country music was performed by the likes of Whiskey Dogs, who brought a very country and blues feel to the stage when they performed.

Stranglers tribute band “96 Tears” impressed the crowd with their impressive renditions of old Stranglers classics. After their performance, the frontman of 96 Tears performed a couple of songs with his son, including a Green Day cover. Three piece mod band “The Sonnet” brought an interesting sound to the event. They performed a very tight set and the vocals were outstanding. More covers were brought to the stage by Go Kommando who performed some brilliant versions of songs such as “Rebel Yell” [Originally performed by Billy Idol] and “Enter Sandman” [Originally performed by Metallica]. The crowd certain enjoyed their set.

Bad Panda brought a lot of interest to their set as they performed in panda-styled make up and some of the crowd were even donning the panda faces. They brought with them a very positive stage presence and a brilliant sound. They did a great cover of “White Wedding” and their original song “The Monkey Song” went down well with the crowd. Young band “First Principle” followed after, shocking the crowd musically with a mixture of soft and hard rock riffs. The frontman sang with a very distinctive voice and performed some amazing solos. The bass and drum work were very tight as well – Which is amazing, considering that the musicians are young. Songs they performed include “Not Coming Home”, “Possession” and “Astronaut”.

Classic rockers Alive In Thunderland dominated the stage with their strong, melodic vocals and thundering riffs. The solos were awesome and the drum work was great. They performed three songs from their third album which included “Into The Darkest Night” and “Hush Now” as well as two new songs which will be on their next album. Edge Of 13 were the second to last performance of the night, performing a very energetic set. The night was finished with the majestic performance from “Children Of The Mist” who performed songs such as Amazing Grace and Scotland The Brave on the bagpipes and they never did an immense cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.

Brid Rocks was certainly an interesting event, though the turn out was slightly disappointing due to the weather constantly changing from cloudy and rainy to warm and sunny and vice versa. Some of the acts weren’t as impressive as expected but most of the acts were brilliant. Hopefully, Brid Rocks will be on again next year.

Nico Davidson

Cryptic Age w/Support @ Stereo [Live Review]

Posted in Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Cryptic Age, Lost Effect, Windrider
Location: Stereo, York
Date: 15th July 2011

The night was certainly a most anticipated event as it was Cryptic Age’s first gig as the headlining band. Originally four bands were booked for the night but one of them had dropped out. The doors were due to open at 7:30pm though didn’t open until nearer 8pm – Though this didn’t deter those who had already arrived for a night of metal.

Critically acclaimed folk metal quartet Windrider were the first to perform. Their usual guitarist, Lee, was absent due to injury so Windrider’s bassist Hallam filled in on guitar whilst Cryptic Age’s bassist Tom filled in as bassist for the night. At the beginning of Windrider’s set, the crowd was somewhat small though they soon filled in after the first song “In The Hall Of The Slain”. Despite playing a small stage, the band were extremely active receiving a great reaction from the crowd, especially with the performances of “A Warrior’s Tale” [The title track of the recent Windrider EP of the same name] and “Slaughter From The Shadows”. It was certainly an impressive performance.

The second band of the night were Lost Effect who describe themselves as “melodic metal”. Their set was certainly most interesting as they mixed brutalising riffs with melodic sections topped off with the clean, operatic-like vocals of the front woman and violent grunts and growls of their keyboardist. Lost Effect had a superb stage presence and clearly wowed the crowd with songs such as “Whispers” and “We Are The Damned”. The only down side to their set was that it didn’t seem long enough.

The headliners, as stated above, were York based power-folk quartet Cryptic Age. Their set began with a metal version of the theme song from “Game Of Thrones”. The vocals were strong, as is to be expected. Cryptic Age interacted brilliantly with the audience in between songs. Some of the highlights of their set include “Homeland”, “Paragons Of War”  and “On The Cold Bare Ground” [all of which can be heard on Cryptic Age’s debut EP “Homeland”]. Their performance of “Bring Down The Sky” was mystifying, almost haunting. Cryptic Age also played some new songs including “Aftermath” and “Maelstrom”. “Aftermath” sounded like a combination of Iron Maiden and Ensiferum due to the very melodic guitar riffs while “Maelstrom” had a very tribal sounding chorus, especially when the crowd sang along.

All in all, the night was certainly an energetic, metal fuelled night with immense performances from three bands. Keep an eye out for these bands as they could soon be on Scuzz or playing at Bloodstock.

Nico Davidson

Interview: Alex Brandsen [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Nico sits down with the “Dutch Drumming Machine” Alex Brandsen, talking about Cryptic Age’s tour and other things.

Nico: Good evening, Alex. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. You’re a drummer in two bands, Ravenage and Cryptic Age, how do you find it drumming for two bands? Is it something that’s naturally easy for you or have you, at times, struggled with it?

Alex: I really enjoy being in two bands, because even though Ravenage and Cryptic Age are relatively similar, I can express different styles and a different overall feeling in the two bands, with Ravenage being more straight, aggressive and fun drumming and Cryptic Age being more subtle, symphonic and ‘intelligent’ if you will. I generally don’t have any problems with drumming in two bands, although I did accidentally started drumming a Cryptic Age riff at a Ravenage rehearsal once…

N: That must have being embarrassing. Speaking of Ravenage, you’re due to tour with them [and Cryptic Age] later this year on the “Warhorns over Aengland” tour. Are you excited about it or are you feeling nervous?

A: Very excited! Really looking forward to touring with Nothgard, and doing some gigs outside of Yorkshire. Not nervous about it really, the nerves usually only kick in 10 minutes before a gig!

N: That’s usually the worse time for the nerves to kick. You recently played Metieval Requiem with both Cryptic Age and Ravenage while sharing the stage with Hecate Enthroned and Skyclad. How was it for you personally to share the stage with two big name bands in the underground metal scene like them?

A: It’s of course a great honour to play with big bands like them, especially Skyclad, as they practically invented folk metal.

N: Speaking of folk metal, Cryptic Age are unique within the folk metal scene due to having a female vocalist. Since the scene is more male-orientated, do you feel that this might be help Cryptic Age become more known?

A: Well there are a couple of folk metal bands that have female vocalists (e.g. Arkona), but the thing that makes Cryptic Age special in my opinion is that Jenny’s got a very wide vocal range, and sings entirely clean. We don’t use any harsh vocals, and that is quite unique I think. I definitely think this is something that works in our advantage, and may well get us some more fans along the road.

N: Cryptic Age recently released the “Homeland” EP. Is there any sort of concept or theme running through the entire EP?

A: Well there isn’t an overall theme or concept to the album, but most of our songs are based on either fantasy and/or mythology, especially Manx mythology and folklore.

N: Is there any reason for the influence from Manx mythology and folklore or is it just something that occurred naturally?

A: It definitely came naturally, although the main reason for the Manx influence is that Jenny is from the Isle of Man. We didn’t really have any influences or themes to go on before writing the songs on the EP. The first part of Homeland (sung in Manx Gaelic) was originally going to be a 1-min intro to the EP, and by then the lyrics of Homeland hadn’t been written yet. Then we put it at the beginning of the track and when we did that the rest of the lyrics about Jenny missing her homeland fell into place. We’ve sort of kept the mythology thing going ever since. Also, instead of writing songs about Norse mythology like most folk metal bands, Celtic mythology comes more naturally to us because it’s closer to our origins, and gives the songs a unique twist I think.

N: Well, Celtic and Manx influences certainly are refreshing for some who are bored of the whole Viking based form of folk metal. Just a few more questions now. Before joining Cryptic Age and Ravenage, did you play in any other bands?

A: I was in a mathcore band for a couple of years when I was still living in the Netherlands, but had to quit that band because I moved to York for my degree back in 2009. I didn’t play in a band for a year, but when I finished my masters in the summer of 2010 I wanted to play live again, and started looking for a band. I found Cryptic Age on gumtree, and soon joined Ravenage as well via Tom, who just joined as their new bassist.

N: You certainly don’t look like a mathcore drummer. Regarding Cryptic Age, are there any events you’re looking forward to partaking in with the band? Aside from the EP release show.

A: We’ve got the Metal 2 The Masses final coming up on the 24th, quite excited about being able to play in front of the Bloodstock judges, and really hoping to win it of course. And then there’s a gig with Old Corpse Road in September, which I’m really looking forward to, as OCR are one of the best local black metal acts out there in my opinion.

N: Sounds like it’s going to be a great year for you and the rest of Cryptic Age then. Final question, are there any bands from both the UK and Dutch underground metal scenes that you’d recommend that our readers check out? Or at least keep an eye out for? Also, thanks again for taking the time to talk with us today, Alex.

A: Except for Old Corpse Road mentioned before, I’d recommend giving Onheil a listen, a blackened metal band from the Netherlands. For a band in the local underground scene, I’d recommend Lost Effect, a melodic metal band from York, who will be supporting us on our EP release gig this Friday.

Cryptic Age will be performing at Stereo in York tomorrow night [15th July] with support from Windrider and Lost Effect. £5 OTD. Doors open at 7.30pm

Cryptic Age – Homeland EP [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 13th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Cryptic Age
Album: Homeland EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal/Power Metal

Since their formation, Cryptic Age have been a rising star in the British underground metal scene, having shared the stage with the likes of Ravenage, Hecate Enthroned, Windrider and Skyclad. “Homeland” is the first chapter in their epic saga.

The title track, “Homeland”, is the first track of the EP. It begins with the sound of thunder and rain. Vocals are soon heard over the rain. The Manx Gaelic lyrics are a great touch to the track, giving it a very Celtic feel. With the introduction of the symphonic sections, combined with the drums, bass and guitar the track turns aggressive yet beautiful. The vocals are monumentally powerful, more so than most soprano styled vocals. The symphonic elements bring a very intense, epic sound whilst the guitar, bass and drums bring good ol’ fashioned heaviness. The keyboard solo and the guitar solo that follows can only be described as “sagaic”.

”On The Cold Bare Ground” is the second track of the EP, beginning with a dark and mysterious sounding riff. The riff eventually transforms into a something heavier for a short while before going back to the softer, darker riff. The track does turn heavier again though with an increase in tempo. The vocals ring strongly throughout the track. The drum work is acute and precise. Like the previous track, the solos are mind-blowing.

The third track, “Bring Down The Sky” begins very folky, with an acoustic intro and a long symphonic note. The vocals work very well with this intro, conjuring up images of a small Celtic village. The drums add a new dynamic to the track as well. Whilst the first half of this track is slow paced, the second half increases the tempo. The guitar solo is astounding, brutal and masterfully played. The wittily named “No Folkin’ Way” is the second to last track of this so far majestic EP. Like the previous track, it has an acoustic and symphonic intro, though it is short lived before the electric guitar dominates. The symphonic sections are grand sounding, blending well with the guitar riffs, bass and drums. The only downside to this track is the lack of vocals.

The last track is “Paragons Of War”. Straight from the beginning, there is a somewhat heroic-sagaic sound resonating from the combination of drums, bass, guitars and keyboards. The vocals complete the track, adding a very majestic touch to it. The guitar and bass sections are brilliantly played and the drums are definitely are a highlight of the track. And the solos are nothing short of grand and noble.

Cryptic Age, despite been young, are clearly a talented quartet of musicians. No doubt that “Homeland” is but the first chapter in a long and legendary saga for these Yorkshire lads and lass. Female fronted metal has never sounded so good.

5/5

Nico Davidson