Archive for Emperor

Bloodstock Open Air 2014 Review

Posted in Festival, Live, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 24th August 2014 by Hannah

Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2014 [Down, Emperor, Megadeth & more]

Catton Hall, Derbyshire

8th-10th August, 2014

Bloodstock 2014 came and went like an almighty clap of thunder. Before I even knew it, it was August and that time of the year when the bearded horde descends upon the sleepy Derbyshire countryside for the UK’s most metal weekend. A line up chock full of interesting names that promised to deliver crushing sets, more beer than I could comprehend and a surprising number of costumes and Native American accessories awaited me. As always, I’d coughed up the extra money for a VIP ticket- again, I will say that it is WORTH IT- but this year, let me start by giving a negative review. The VIP toilets were shocking. Usually they are cleaned regularly, supplied with toilet paper and soap and all the mod-cons that help to make the price that much more acceptable. This year, however, it was horrific. I realise that with the weather they were going to get dirty- but I would have been okay with mud. Little brown fishes are not so okay.

Anyway…  After being thoroughly slaughtered by the Thursday night pre-party and starting to pick my way through the VIP bar’s 103 real ales and ciders, I awoke on the Friday morning, blinking with bleary eyes into the blazing sunshine. Fitting that the opener was Bloodshot Dawn, then. A good start to proceedings, followed by the always satisfying Entombed A.D. It’s the second time I’ve had the pleasure of watching these guys and they were just as good as before- even though they’re in a different form from last time. Irish extreme metallers Primordial followed, with an absolutely stellar set. I’d caught a bit of their set the last time they played Bloodstock, and made sure I was able to see the whole thing this time round. It was a good choice, because their particular brand of black-ish metal is excellent live. A smidgeon of thrash was added to the mix by Flotsam & Jetsam, who entertained for the whole of their set and were a good choice, as were industrial metallers Prong. Both bands were received enthusiastically by the crowd and there were few heads still during their slot on the main stage.  

Controversial opinion time- I don’t like Triptykon. I will never forgive Tom G. Warrior for the glam metal Celtic Frost ridiculousness, and even though on paper I should appreciate Triptykon’s doomy line of metal, I just don’t like it. It was all very grim and frosty and plenty of people did like it, but it definitely wasn’t my cup of tea. Hatebreed, however, reminded us exactly why they were one of the best received bands of 2012. Perfectly on form, as always, they were energetic and exciting and definitely one of the best acts of the weekend. The same cannot be said for Dimmu Borgir, and frustratingly it wasn’t their fault. I was looking forward to Dimmu Borgir; they are one of my favourite bands and their 2012 set is still one of the best I have ever seen. But this year they were plagued by technical difficulties and a sound mix so bad keyboardist Gerlioz left the stage. Arriving at least twenty minutes late, and forced to stop and start throughout, when they did play they proved that they could have been great this year. Such a massive disappointment. Friday night headliners Down took the stage to an arena buzzing with anticipation and excitement and baying for blood. And, whatever you may think of him as a person, you have to hand it to Phil Anselmo– he is the perennial frontman. They filled Catton Hall with their groovy brand of metal and crushing riffs, and teased the horde with ten to fifteen seconds of Pantera classic Walk.

Saturday morning started with, in my opinion, the performance of the weekend. Evil Scarecrow. I need to take a moment to dedicate this whole review- and, at the very least, an entire paragraph- to Evil Scarecrow. Eleven o’clock in the morning and the arena was absolutely rammed. We’re talking Special Guest to Headliner amounts of people. Very much a story of success against the odds, Evil Scarecrow are something special. They manage to be simultaneously funny and extremely clever, and also just extremely fucking good. They turned Bloodstock into a heavy metal ballroom, filled with waltzing Cyclopes (cyclopi? Just what is the correct plural term here?), they commanded first an army of (totally in sync) shuffling Crab(ulon)s, then an army of Robot(atron)s, and finally managed to get almost every lucky bastard assembled there to war-march around the sound desk. We are talking an arena wide march. Even if we only moved about ten foot forward, that’s still an impressive feat. Every single person there had a huge grin on their face. If you weren’t watching, you missed out on history.

Shining had a bit of a hard act to follow, unfortunately, and it was a shame to see such a reduced crowd watching them. Their somewhat bizarre jazz-extreme metal fusion was quite refreshing, however, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a saxophone on the RJD stage before- or will again. Decapitated were as expected- brutal- and Israel’s Orphaned Land were a nice surprise. I’d never really heard any of their music before, but their progressive tinged metal was much better than I thought it would be. Crowbar were awesome, with bass lines so shuddering and crushing that I could feel my liver shaking. Following their set with Italian pseudo-goths Lacuna Coil seemed a bit of an odd choice- in fact, in general I felt that the line up could have been re-arranged across all three days- but Cristina Scabbia and her cohort were on fine form. There was a nice selection of new and old, including some of the better tracks from latest album Broken Crown Halo. I know a lot of people criticize Children of Bodom for being one-trick-ponies. In my opinion, that just shows that they know what the winning formula is and stick to it. Alexi Laiho and Janne Wirman deliver guitar and keyboard solos with sickening ease that almost borders on laziness, but Laiho was his usual ball of boundless energy. An unexpected setlist including fan favourites such as Hatecrew Deathroll and Lake Bodom, they were fantastic as always.

Controversial opinion time the second- I think Carcass are past it- or at least, Jeff Walker is at any rate. It almost seemed like they were going through the motions, tearing through a set filled with classics with an almost clinical, sterile precision. Apt for a band whose latest release is called Surgical Steel, true, but it seemed like they lacked heart. Saturday evening was all about one band, anyway. Emperor took to the stage to celebrate 20 years since the release of their seminal album, In The Nightside Eclipse. They were flawless. There was an almost reverent atmosphere in the arena as they turned the temperature frosty and filled the venue with their chilly, eerie brand of black metal and reminded us all why they are and will always be one of the best in the business. Plus- when are we ever going to see Ihsahn, Samoth and Faust playing together ever again? It was an incredible moment, something I will never forget.

I will admit something now- I only saw four bands on Sunday. The celebrations from Emperor nearly killed me, and I slept through both Arthemis and Aborted. However, I have it on good authority that Arthemis put on a valiant performance, and that Aborted were savage. I managed to rouse myself from the darkness in order to make it down to watch Valkyrian favourites ReVamp perform in an absolute downpour. Floor Jansen is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s easy to see why she has been nabbed by Nightwish. She had those assembled to watch in the palm of her hand and did well despite the odds. I then returned to my tent to recover some more, only to discover that a veritable tempest was beginning to blow. The first tent to fall victim to the wind was- ironically- the Tangerine Dreams tent-hire company’s reception tent, followed swiftly by a gazebo that took to the skies with captivating elegance before landing with one leg impaled in another thankfully empty tent. A quick conversation led to the decision to pull up camp and leave later that evening, so by the time we had cleared up and packed everything in the car, we’d missed both Biohazard and last-minute stage-switchers Avatar. Obituary, however, were worth catching for some decent, straightforward and relentless death metal.

Saxon were everything I expected them to be- cheesy, fist-pumping and glorious. Good old Biff was on fine form, and they were well received by a crowd of an incredibly diverse age range. By the time they played Denim and Leather, the whole arena had been brought together and it was easy to see why so many people got on board with Saxon’s campaign to have Heavy Metal recognised as a religion in the last UK census. Amon Amarth were absolutely outstanding. Fire-breathing dragonheads, upon which guitar solos were performed,  filled the stage and Johan Hegg led the Viking hordes through a set that perfectly represented their catalogue of greats. They reminded me why they are one of my favourite bands and why I will always throw my horns up in the air when I hear any of their songs. Unfortunately, this is where my Bloodstock experience ended as we made a run for it as the weather worsened and the storm moved in. This does mean that I missed MegaDave- sorry, I mean Megadeth– but controversial opinion the last? I wasn’t particularly bothered. Had I been more in the spirit of things and had imbibed a fair bit of cider I’m sure I would have enjoyed them, but being sober and eager to leave before the wind picked up again it wasn’t much of a loss.

Bloodstock 2014 was a rollercoaster ride of technical problems, triumphant performances and crazy weather. But I would not have missed it for the world. The performance of the weekend, as I feel I have already clearly shown, was definitely Evil Scarecrow, and I will give them less than five years until they are special guests, if not headliners. Even though we’re still waiting for any announcements, there’s nowhere I’d rather be from the 6th to the 9th of August next year. I will see you then.

 

Hannah O’Flanagan

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Tartarus – Of Grimness and Atrocity

Posted in CD, Metal, Uncategorized with tags , , on 24th August 2014 by izaforestspirit

Tartarus
Of Grimness and Atrocity EP
Released 31st July 2014
Black Metal
Released via Haarbn Productions

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‘Of Grimness and Atrocity’ is the debut EP from the Dubai based black metal band Tartarus.
There are many things that spring to my mind when I hear the words “Dubai” or “United Arab Emirates” but black metal isn’t one of them. Then again, music knows no boundaries and based on a quick search on the Metal Archives, Tartarus are not the only band from that region and there is a small metal scene in there.

After the eerie, dark ambient style intro featuring some unintelligible shrieks, comes the first real song ‘Axes (of Hatred)‘ which sounds like a homage to the Nordic black metal bands. I can detect two very distinctive influences in the song: Immortal for the vocal style and Gorgoroth for the ferocity and speed of music. The title track is true to its namesake thanks to the haunting howl-vocals which remind me of early Mayhem. The pace tends to vary a lot during the course of the track, ranging from ferocious pummeling of the guitars and drums to a slower, more melodic style of black metal. Last but not least is their cover of Emperor’s I am The Black Wizards – a very good interpretation of the song which is very close to the original in terms of style.

Overall this is a very promising black metal EP. I’m looking forward to hearing more from these guys in the future.

4/5
Iza Raittila

Hannah’s 2013 Highlights

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Misc. with tags , , , , , on 4th January 2014 by Hannah

Well, we are now 4 days into 2014, and it’s that time of year again. Time to look back and reflect on 2013, a year of great highs and lows. Personally, 2013 was a crock of shite. Ill health, family and friends dropping like daisies, rubbish chucked at me academically; I’m well shot of it. Musically, however, it was much better! We had a few absolute curve balls chucked at us, but in general I think it was a splendid year for musical releases within the metal world and beyond. So without further ado, here are my Top 10 metal albums of the year. Strap yourselves in and play the Top of the Pops theme tune as we count them down- but in no particular order. Sorry!

FinntrollBlodsvept

An absolute corker of an album, Finntroll are once again on shining form. I sometimes wonder if the rollicking band of Finnish folk-stalwarts will get one wrong, but they prove themselves time and time again.

GhostInfestissumam

In many ways, 2013 could be seen as the year of Ghost (for copyright purposes, in the ol’ U.S. of A., see: Ghost B.C.). Papa Emeritus II (or should that be 1.2?) and his ghoulish brigade seem absolutely unstoppable and this proggy, weird, almost unsettlingly catchy offering gives more fuel to that fire.

CathedralThe Last Spire

As we shall see in my ‘Top 5 Highs and Lows of 2013’ shortly, this was also the year I was forced to say goodbye to one of my favourite bands, but Cathedral’s last ever offering did not disappoint. As many observed, this seemed to bring them full circle and back to their simple, crushing doomy roots and it was a bittersweet triumph.

Chthonic- Bú-Tik

The Taiwanese black-symphonic metallers offered us this brutal follow up to 2011’s brilliant Takasago Army this year, and what an album! The troupe from Taipei constantly manage to sound fresh and never lose any of that fury, channelling their rage in their music and fleshing their sound out with that distinctive, symphonic blend of metal and traditional Taiwanese refrains.

Black Sabbath- 13

If you know me, then you know I like grinding, crushing, groovy metal. Then it must come as no surprise that this list includes 13, the phenomenal come back from the legends that are Black Sabbath. Sounding as fresh and vibrant as they did on seminal releases such as Black Sabbath or Paranoid, 13 saw Sabbath at their absolute best, and I for one am so happy to see them back.

Amon Amarth- Deceiver of the Gods

I can’t possibly list my favourite albums of the year without Amon Amarth. Some people say they are samey and don’t offer anything new. I think they know what works and stick to that winning formula. The Swedes once again brought their mythological flavoured metal to us on this stonker and I love it.

Fleshgod Apocalypse- Labyrinth

Italian technical death metal band Fleshgod have been around for a while but they are a relatively new thing for me. Having said that, Labyrinth is a great album and well deserving of a place in my top 10. For one, it’s a concept album based on mythology- the legend of the Labyrinth of Knossos, if you didn’t know, but of course you did- and for two, it does it well. Brilliant, from start to finish.

Tyr- Valkyrja

I’ll keep this short and sweet- Tyr are phenomenal. The two covers that round this album out are almost unrecognisable in their execution. The progression shown by Tyr from The Lay of Thrym to this is fascinating and I can’t wait to see where they go next.

Hell- Curse and Chapter

Really, if I’m being honest, 2013 was the year I fell in love with Hell. I can’t say enough good things about this band- they are blasphemous, outrageous, and ridiculously good fun to boot. They serve up a one-of-a-kind blend of NWOBHM and theatrics and Curse and Chapter is just outstanding. I predicted that they will be Bloodstock headliners within five years in this year’s Bloodstock review. I now make that three years.

Satyricon- Satyricon

A rather controversial choice, maybe? I know how unpopular this record has been with a lot of long-time Satyricon fans, but this long-time Satyricon fan loved their eponymous album. The thing I love about Satyricon is that Satyr is never afraid to go to places that make fans uncomfortable and force them out of that safe zone. Their albums are never formulaic and I really appreciate their bravery and daring, and willingness to shake things up. A great album.

Wasn’t that fun? Now, this next Top 5 may be a little unorthodox, but I’m a music lover. I love all music, even- SHOCK HORROR!- that which is not metal. So here are my 5 Top Non-Metal releases of the year!

HIM- Tears on Tape

HIM are one of my favourite bands- okay, you can shoot me if you want- because they do what they do incredibly well and without apologies. Tears on Tape is one of their best albums to date and it’s surprisingly heavy in parts- you can see that Ville Valo really worships a few gothic and doom metal bands in the songs on this record!

AFI- Burials

I was thoroughly mortified by Crash Love. Like, irrevocably mortified. AFI are a band I have loved since I was 12 and whilst Burials is definitely no closer to what they used to be than Crash Love or even Decemberunderground, it manages to make up for it in atmosphere and a healthy dose of gloom. Davey Havok’s voice hasn’t sounded this good in a long time, and neither has Jade Puget’s playing. Welcome back, boys!

David Bowie- The Next Day

David Bowie is the king and I worship him. Seriously, though, The Next Day is a welcome return by the Thin White Duke, 10 years after his last release, and it is an unusual, almost-awkward slice of musical bliss. This album shows more energy and enthusiasm for making beautiful music- to get pretentious, for making auditory art- than bands half his age.

Little Mix- Salute

I love Little Mix, I don’t even care. They were put together on that Christmas-number-one machine that is The X Factor, sure, but they actually work ridiculously well together as a group and they contribute to the writing of their songs to boot. Their second album, Salute, is indeed a salute to the sassy, R’n’B flavoured pop of the nineties. It works, it’s ludicrously catchy, and I love it.

Lorde- Pure Heroine

I hated Lorde the first time I heard her. Her lyrics are stupid and non-sensical (see: Tennis Court), the kind of faux-intellectualism loved by the stylish hipster crews that are the current ‘in’ crowd. She’s a clever girl with some fierce ideas, though, and by GOD did this album get under my skin after a while and now I can’t get enough of it and I’m sorry.

Okay, I’ll get back to the metal now. Rounding up my 2013 retrospective is a look at five of the most important events of the year. These are my Top 5 Highs and Lows of 2013.

Randy Blythe is acquitted

Of course, the story most people will remember this year is that Randy Blythe was acquitted of all charges on the 5th of March this year. Blythe had been facing jail after 19 year old Daniel Nosek died after being pushed from the stage at a Lamb of God show in Prague in 2010. Whilst the courts agreed that Blythe was morally responsible for Nosek’s death, they did not find him guilty of any criminal liability.

Emperor Reform for 2014 Festival Season

Yes, my friends. Legendary black metal outfit Emperor officially announced a reunion for a series of special performances, including Wacken’s 25th anniversary, BOA 2014 and Hellfest 2014. I have my ticket to Bloodstock and I can’t fucking wait, because Emperor are the bee’s proverbial knees. Oh yes.

Cathedral Call it Quits

30th April 2013 was a sad, sad day in the world of doom metal, as protectors of the groove Cathedral called it a day on the release of their tenth studio album, The Last Spire. After waving the flag for crushing, gloomy, often psychedelic doom for twenty-one years, Lee Dorrian, Brian Dixon, Gaz Jennings and Scott Carlson took their final bows. Their legacy lives on.

Joey Jordison Slipknot Shock

In a rather bizarre turn of events, the 12th of December saw the shock announcement of Joey Jordison’s departure from his ‘main’ band of 18 years for ‘personal reasons’. The plot however thickens as it has been revealed in the last 24 hours that Jordison himself had no idea of his apparent departure. Will we ever know what’s going on? Will this cause a duel to the death between Corey Taylor and Joey Jordison before Mick Thompson steps in and holds them apart by the scruff of their necks whilst the rest of the band talks sense into them? Who knows?

Black Sabbath Top Charts

Yeah, if producing an album as impressive as 13 wasn’t enough, Black Sabbath also went and topped the UK Album Charts with it. Their first offering in 18 years managed the rare feat of placing top in the mainstream charts, and how often does a bunch of hairy, lairy old metalheads do something like that? Keep going, boys.

So that was 2013. There’s a lot I’m looking forward to in 2014, but my highlight will most certainly be Bloodstock 2014. I shall see you there! To all Valkyrian readers- I wish you a Happy New Year and have a good one!

Three more bands confirmed for Bloodstock

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 28th November 2013 by Hannah

Lacuna Coil, Carcass and Primordial have been announced as the latest acts on an increasingly epic bill for Bloodstock Open Air 2014!

Italian metallers Lacuna Coil will be bringing their sonic wall of Gothic-tinged sound to Catton Hall for the second time, performing the Ronnie James Dio stage on the Saturday. Frontwoman Cristina Scabbia reflected on their return with a sneak peek of what fans can expect from their set:

“It will be LACUNA COIL’s second time there and I’m curious to see how the festival has grown.  We will have songs from the new album and some LC classics, so see ya all in the summer!”

The legendary Carcass will be acting as Saturday’s Special Guests , and after their triumphant debut release with Nuclear Blast, Surgical Steel, gained wide acclaim and rave reviews, they have promised to be ‘firing on all cylinders’ with their set. Also announced are Irish gaelic metal outfit Primordial, returning after a victorious set in 2011. This may be one of your only opportunities to catch them next year, so don’t miss it. All three bands join an exceptional roster including Emperor, Down, Megadeth, Saxon and Amon Amarth, and with Early Bird tickets selling fast, it might be time to secure your place at what is promising to be the metal event of the year.

As Jeff Walker commands, “Let there be rot!”

Bloodstock Amon Amarth Exclusive!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on 19th November 2013 by Hannah

Bloodstock Open Air 2014 continue their run of amazing announcements with three more great bands added to the bill. Swedish melo-death giants Amon Amarth have been announced as filling the Sunday Special Guest slot, with their BOA performance a UK-exclusive show for the year. Joining them over the weekend will be metalcore stalwarts Hatebreed, returning after their triumphant 2012 performance, and Prong, who will be making their BOA debut performance. Running order is still unconfirmed as the BOA website is currently down for maintenance, but you can be assured as soon as we at Valkyrian HQ know the updated order of ceremonies we will let you know!

The date for the start of VIP Serpent’s Lair ticket sales has been confirmed as being the 16th of December, and ordinary weekend camping tickets are onsale now. BOA 2014 is looking to be an unmissable metal experience, with three solid headliners in the shape of Down, Emperor and Megadeth, and an array of fantastic bands during the weekend. Valkyrian will, as always, be in attendance and we hope to see you there!

Bloodstock 2014 Announcements

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 8th November 2013 by Hannah

The bill for Bloodstock 2014 is further heating up following the announcement of two exclusive UK-only appearances and one only UK-festival appearance. Metal giants Children of Bodom have been announced for the Ronnie James Dio stage, who along with legends of death metal Obituary are performing their only UK show of 2014 at Catton Hall, as well as the announcement of a UK-festival exclusive performance by sludge-titans Crowbar. Bloodstock also announced the long awaited main stage debut of long term fan favourites and parody-metal connoisseurs Evil Scarecrow, who will be opening the festivities on Saturday. Already on the bill are headliners Megadeth (also performing their only UK show of 2014), Down and a reunited Emperor, along with British NWOBHM legends Saxon, Flotsam & Jetsam and Decapitated.

Many more bands are still to be announced, as well as the dates for the 2014 Metal to the Masses competition, in order to find a band to perform at Bloodstock as well as a number of other European festivals, including Wacken. Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2014 will fall over the 7th-14th of August, and tickets are available from the Bloodstock website now.

Necrotherion – Live Misanthropy

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 31st August 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

Necrotherion
Live Misanthropy
Released August 2013
Black Metal
Self Released

Being a band that is focused on creating raw black metal, Ohio’s Necrotherion clearly portrays this with the release of their live album, Live Misanthropy. The seven songs range from  fast paced, Emperor/Darkthrone sounding songs to more drone based songs that sound like it was made by older Mayhem. Melodic and beautiful black riffs paired with vocals filled with agony and raw emotion make this band sound like they would’ve fit in the early black metal scene in Norway. While it seems like black metal has become less about the music and more about the trends, Necrotherion looks beyond those trends. You can tell that their only purpose is create music that is hard hitting and shocking while sticking to traditional black metal roots. Also, live albums can be boring to listen to because you’re not there to actually experience what the band sounds like, but with this album, I felt like I was there headbanging along to every song.

The first couple of songs on the album, Whispering Trees and Nihilistic Faith, didn’t draw me in right away. While I loved the build up intro for Whispering Trees, the rest of the song felt a bit jumbled  with what seemed like this huge wall of noise coming at me at a millions miles a minute. I feel like they could have opened with a different song, specifically Novus Ordo Seclum. That song was my absolute favorite out of any song on this album just because of how melodic the intro riff was and how  the entire song reminded me of another black metal band, Cirith Gorgor. While black metal isn’t my favorite metal sub-genre, sometimes black metal bands come up with these beautifully heavy riffs that just makes me love it so much.

Along with changing the opening song, the only other criticism I could even think of is the quality of the sounds on the album. I could sit here and nit pick about how Live Misanthropy didn’t have a great quality to it because it’s a live album, but that’s usually how live albums sound anyway. Of course there could have been screw up while playing the songs, but there was really nothing I heard that made me want to immediately stop listening to the album.

I highly recommend this album to anyone who is a huge fan of black metal, more so raw sounding black metal verses the over produced, hipster black metal bands that seem to be popping out of nowhere lately. Live Misanthropy was one of the best live metal albums I’ve personally ever listened to just because it did what a lot of other live albums didn’t do, and that was creating a show where I felt like a part of the crowd even though I was sitting at a computer. You could feel the stage prescience and passion from when vocalist Stellarvore spoke in between songs saying powerful but yet brutal messages such as “you have one life to live, don’t f***ing waste it!” Necrotherion are truly underrated and I honestly hope they put out a full length album in the future.

4.5/5

Lauren Gowdy