Archive for Gothic Metal

Heavenwood – The Tarot Of The Bohemians

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 6th March 2016 by Pieni

Heavenwood
“The Tarot Of The Bohemians – Part 1”
Gothic metal
Released: 22nd February 2016
Via Raising Legends Records

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For the first time, Heavenwood venture into the land of conceptual albums. That’s not, however, what makes “The Tarot Of The Bohemians – Part 1” their boldest record so far. Heavenwood is one of those bands that manages to reinvent themselves with each release but keep their essence intact, and this time frontman Ricardo Dias enhanced every treat and entwined them with orchestral arrangements, in an exuberant outcome.

Ricardo has always taken care of the clean vocals, but the role of his strong pitch is now as leading as Ernesto Guerra’s growls’. Such balance between them bears a refreshing dynamic. And while featuring female guests is nothing new to them, one song – “The Hanged Man” – solely sung by Blame Zeus-Sandra Oliveira (well, almost solely – there are a few male backing vocals) was quite a surprise. Her deep, firm voice couldn’t fit better in such fused melody.

Speaking of melodies, these are overall heavier. The guitars are somewhat more elaborate – hence the lengthy tracks – and a tad less somber. Still within what can be considered as “gothic metal”, but there’s such a vibrancy to the more melodic parts and such a rage to the most aggressive ones that once again the adjective “bold” comes to mind.

It was the previous record that featured “masterpiece” in its title, but it’s “The Tarot Of The Bohemians” that’s living up to that name.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

The Vision Bleak release new EP

Posted in Metal, News, Studio Report with tags , on 25th February 2016 by izaforestspirit

The German gothic “horror” metal duo The Vision Bleak have just announced that they will be releasing a new, limited edition EP entitled ‘The Kindred Of The Sunset’. The new EP will feature two new songs from their upcoming album ‘Into The Unknown. This will be a limited edition will available for purchase at the band’s shows and from their online shop at http://en.prophecy.de/shop/.

You can check out the artwork and the tracklisting here:

The Kindred Of The Sunset
The Whine Of The Cemetery Hound
The Sleeping Beauty (Tiamat Cover)
Purification Afterglow

https://www.facebook.com/thevisionbleak.official/

http://www.the-vision-bleak.de/

Iza’s Highlights of 2015 (part 2: Metal)

Posted in Metal, Misc., Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2015 by izaforestspirit

Metal music has been close to my heart since I discovered the genre as a teenager. This year many of the bands that I grew up listening to have released some new material. Although this section of my highlights is entitled “metal”, my top 10 list also features two rock albums which didn’t fit the industrial category. So here are my favourite albums of 2015:

1. Lindemann – Skills in Pills
Genre: Industrial Metal

Prior to writing the first part I wasn’t sure whether I should stick this in the industrial or the metal section. In the end I went with metal because I’ve always regarded both Rammstein and Pain as metal, so naturally a collaboration between Mr. Lindemann and Mr. Tägtgren belongs in that category too. I can’t think of any better way of describing this album than how I summarized it in my review: “It takes you on a journey during which you will experience a whole range of emotions including fear, laughter and disgust.” Best tracks: ‘Fish On’, ‘Praise Abort’ and ‘Yukon’.

2. My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery
Genre: Gothic Doom Metal

The second entry on my list couldn’t be much more different than the first. Whereas ‘Skills in Pills’ was fun to listen to, making me dance and laugh along to the outrageous lyrics, ‘Feel the Misery’ is true its namesake. There’s nothing uplifting about this album, just eight beautifully crafted songs of doom and gloom. In short, it’s a classic case of My Dying Bride doing what they do best. Best tracks: ‘And My Father Left Forever’, ‘Feel the Misery’ and ‘I Celebrate Your Skin’.

3. Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches
Genre: Extreme Gothic Metal

At the time when I reviewed this album, I gave it a very conservative rating of 3.5/5. Since then I have listened to it on numerous occasions and I’ve grown to appreciate it. If I were to do the same review today I would probably rate it much higher. ‘Hammer of the Witches’ is easily Cradle of Filth’s best album in years. The best tracks are ‘Blackest Magick in Practice’, ‘Enshrined in Crematoria’ and ‘The Right Wing of the Garden Triptych’.

4. Apocalyptica – Shadowmaker
Genre: Symphonic Heavy Metal

This was a tough album to review mostly because it’s so distinctively different to anything that Apocalyptica has ever done before. As with the new Cradle of Filth, it took me a few listens to fully appreciate it. The cello sounds were an instant hit but Franky Perez’s vocals are not the easiest thing to get used to. Luckily I discovered that once you do become accustomed to it, you will be rewarded for your patience. Best tracks: ‘Shadowmaker’, ‘Cold Blood’ and ‘Riot Lights’.

5. Lacrimosa – Hoffnung
Genre: Gothic Rock/Gothic Metal

Lacrimosa is one of my favourite bands. Their music isn’t the easiest to classify. I and many other people I know have always regarded them as Gothic rock, but if you ask anyone from the Goth scene they are viewed as Gothic metal. ‘Unlike its predecessor ‘Revolution’, which had a lot of metal influences, Hoffnung’ marks a return to the symphonic and orchestral style of Lacrimosa whilst still retaining the Gothic elements. Best tracks: ‘Unterwelt’, ‘Die Unbekannte Farbe’ and ‘Thunder and Lightning’.

6. Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor
Genre: Alternative Rock

Whilst Lacrimosa’s classification as “metal” may be subject to debate, this one is definitely not metal. However since Marilyn Manson’s latest album has nothing in common with industrial music I decided that it was better suited for the “metal edition”. ‘The Pale Emperor’ isn’t a masterpiece like ‘Antichrist Superstar’, but it’s the best album I’ve heard by him since ‘Eat Me Drink Me’. Best tracks: ‘The Third Day of a Seven Day Binge’, ‘Deep Six’ and ‘Cupid Carries a Gun’.

7. Children of Bodom – I Worship Chaos
Genre: Melodic Death Metal/Power Metal

I Worship Chaos’ is another solid effort from the world-famous Finnish extreme metal band. I must admit that I was apprehensive when I heard some of the previews on Youtube. Luckily after getting my hands on a physical copy and listening to it in full, I’m happy to report that it’s better and more memorable than their previous work ‘Halo of Blood’. Best tracks: ‘Morrigan’, ‘Horns’ and ‘I Worship Chaos’.

8. Melechesh – Enki
Genre: Black Metal

I only discovered Melechesh recently after reading one of the reviews on this album. I like their unique style and the mixture of middle eastern folk music elements with black metal. It’s also a great way to learn about Sumerian mythology. Best tracks: ‘Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged’, ‘Lost Tribes (feat. Max Cavalera) and ‘Metatron and Man’.

9. Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed
Genre: Technical Death Metal

For those who don’t know death metal is one of my favourite metal sub-genres. Nile is one of the bands that I grew up listening to. I briefly lost track of them after the mediocre ‘Ithyphallic’ album but after reading a review of this album I decided to give them another go. I’m glad that I did. It’s great to see that these guys haven’t mellowed down or changed their style drastically. Best tracks: ‘Evil to Cast Out Evil’ and ‘In the Name of Amun’.

10. Ranger – Where Evil Dwells
Genre: Speed Metal

I don’t know much about speed metal. The chances are had it not been for Ranger’s highly entertaining performance at Radio City South Park festival, I wouldn’t have paid any attention to this album. Their debut ‘Where Evil Dwells’ treats you to seven tracks of ultra fast and energetic speed metal. A must for fans of the likes of Exciter and Witchburner.

Best New Discovery of 2015: Helloween (not new but new to me!)

Best live show: Cradle of Filth live in Helsinki

Most Anticipated Albums of 2016:

The Vision Bleak – Into the Unknown

And who knows… maybe we will finally get a new Metallica album?

Happy New Year Everyone!

Graveshadow – Nocturnal Resurrection

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 1st December 2015 by izaforestspirit

Graveshadow
Nocturnal Resurrection
Released 15th November 2015
Symphonic Metal with Death Metal elements
Released via Mausoleum Records

‘Nocturnal Resurrection’ is the debut album from the American symphonic metal band Graveshadow. The band was originally formed in 2012 by rhythm guitarist William Walker. This album has been mixed and mastered by Emil “Nightmare” Nodtveit (Deathstars) and it features Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear, Blackwelder) as a guest vocalist on one of the tracks.

Symphonic metal is a genre that I don’t tend to listen to a lot these days. There was a time when I really liked it; the good old days back when Nightwish was at the high-point of their career. Since then there has been the occasional discovery of a hidden gem such as Angtoria’s debut album and Tarja Turunen’s solo work, but generally speaking I no longer find the genre as exciting or memorable as I used to. Let’s see if Graveshadow can change my mind…

After the harmonious keyboard intro, the guitars enter the frame and singer Heather’s powerful vocals ensure that you will not be forgetting Namesake any time soon. Unlike many other female metal vocalists, she doesn’t stick to just one style but prefers to show off an impressive vocal range with both the operatic (read Nightwish, After Forever -style) and death metal growls on offer. Yes, that’s right – death metal growling… the type that Angela Gossow used to do with Arch Enemy. This second style adds a touch of aggression to the beautifully composed symphonic melodies and the catchy guitar tunes.

Speaking of catchy, that’s probably the best way to describe Lycan Lust. This track is less about the keyboards and the emphasis shifts towards the thunderous pace of the thrash metal style, guitar riffs and drums and of course the compelling vocals of Miss Heather Michele. Don’t let the gentle, sweet melodies fool you, for beneath this innocent-looking mask lies a demon that bites. If you want to hear the more tamed, gentle side of Graveshadow then Winter’s Come to Call and Fading are the tracks for you. The Doctor Who -inspired track  Blink starts off as another fantasy themed, symphonic metal song but then develops more of the aggressive feel due to the predominance of the guitars and the harsh vocals.

Overall, this album is bound to attract a lot of attention. That’s not to say that every symphonic or gothic metal fan will like it. It’s not for everyone and if you’re looking for something akin to Within Temptation or current Nightwish, then I’d advise you to steer clear of this. If however, you’re like me – bored with the current state of symphonic metal scene and you’re looking for something experimental and unique then you should give Graveshadow a try.

4/5

Iza Raittila

The Vision Bleak reveal the title and the cover art for new album

Posted in News, Studio Report with tags , , on 3rd November 2015 by izaforestspirit

The German Gothic horror metal duo The Vision Bleak have recently announced that their new album, the follow up to ‘Witching Hour’, will be entitled ‘Into the Unknown’. You can check out the cover art here:

Here’s some comments about it from the band:

“The title pretty much sums up what we have been working on the last couple of months. When we started composing for this we didn’t know where we will be led to and our goal was to be truly honest and don’t think about nor care about anything we’ve done before. We were led into ourselves. The great ambivalence of our true beings. It will be an emotional record.” 

https://www.facebook.com/thevisionbleak.official/timeline

Ureas – The Black Heart Album

Posted in CD, Experimental, Metal with tags , on 19th September 2015 by izaforestspirit

Ureas
The Black Heart Album
Released 23rd October 2015
“Gothic” Power Metal/Progressive Metal/ Experimental Crossover
Released via Hänsel & Gretel Records, a division of M.I.G-Music Gmb

The Black Heart Album’ is the second release from the Danish Gothic power metal band Ureas. It is the follow-up to their debut album ‘The Naked Truth’. The band was founded back in 2006 by the husband and wife team Heidi and Per Johansson.

Ureas’s style is rather difficult to classify and the term “Gothic power metal” can be very misleading. These days it seems that any melodic metal band with a female singer will be labeled as “Gothic” or a Nightwish-clone even though it might not have anything to do with either the band or the genre. For those expecting another Nightwish-clone, prepare to be disappointed (or relieved). I can safely say that Ureas has very little in common with the world-renowned fantasy metal band. For one thing they have actually two singers; both Heidi and Per contribute an equal amount when it comes to the vocals. Whether they are singing on their own or as a duet, they both leave their mark on each song. Secondly, the power metal elements account for only a small fraction of a wide variety of styles present on this album.

The Gothic element comes from Heidi’s angelic and melodic voice, which contrasts the harsher and more aggressive vocals of her husband. Oh, by “melodic” and “angelic” I don’t mean operatic but rather soft and innocent sounds akin to early Within Temptation. Seven Deadly Sins is a good example of how well they work together to create a song that is memorable for all the right reasons. That particular track has a fairly simple construction: uplifting and playful, power metal -esque guitar riffs, symphonic keyboards, melodic female vocals and the brawny sounds of Mr. Johansson.

If only they stuck to the same style throughout the album I would have been happy. Alas but no. What comes next is the jaw-dropping abomination that is the title track, which sounds as though Jonathan Davis from Korn started rapping to groove metal playing in the background. Luckily Seal This Moment marks a return to the more familiar (and in all honesty better) Gothic power metal style. This particular song is more complex and progressive-sounding than ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ but it still captures that lovely symbiosis of the two vocal styles. Sadly my relief is short lived for it is not long until these guys start experimenting again. The subsequent tracks feature everything from lullabies, groove metal guitars, techno/electronica and Shut The Fuck Up – a cringe-worthy nu-metal track with highly unimaginative lyrics consisting of mostly swear words.

To conclude, I think that the best words to sum to my thoughts on this album would be “confusing” and “inconsistent”. At times they sound like a completely different band. Some songs are decent but on the whole it feels as though Ureas are not sure as to which style they want to focus on.

2/5

Iza Raittila

Moonspell – Extinct

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 24th February 2015 by Pieni

Moonspell
“Extinct”
Gothic metal
Release: 6th March 2015
Via Napalm Records

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I’ve never liked labelling Moonspell as gothic metal as I’ve always felt they were much more than that. Until now. Well, actually, until “Omega White”, but since its counterpart “Alpha Noir” had that much-more in it, I still went for the vague “dark metal” at the time. Three years later, “Extinct” follows the path of “Omega White” and it leaves no room for vague descriptions – it’s gothic metal.

Reading what I’ve just written and listening to the first single – a very pop-ish first single – “The Last Of Us” might give you a false impression of mainstream, so please read this until the end. Because “Extinct” is quite a masterpiece. Me being able to pinpoint what genre of music they’re playing doesn’t mean they’ve lost that little je ne sais quoi that makes them unique.

There aren’t best songs here. Sure, everyone will have their favorites, but all tracks have been carefully crafted to a prime state. So despite the epic orchestral arrangements of “Extinct” and the fact that it’s the heaviest track, I believe the album was named after it due to the fatality ring such title bears and which echoes through others – “Breathe (Until We Are No More)”, “The Last Of Us”, “Funeral Bloom”, “A Dying Breed”, “The Future Is Dark”… See the pattern? And let me tell you that “La Baphomette” is macabre enough for your mind to associate it with the end of days. The short final track sung in French seems like it came straight from one of those horror-themed fairgrounds.

“Medusalem” will bring you vivid memories of The Sisters Of Mercy but only for a short while. It soon starts making new memories of Moonspell alone, with the richness of its guitars and some Arabian sounds. In fact, the whole guitar work is to be praised. Turning to a more gothic direction gave them the chance of putting the roughness aside and producing elaborate but fluid pieces. A special highlight on the solo of the enthralling “The Future Is Dark”, where, as I like to say, the guitar weeps its strings out. In “Domina”, they cry with a bit more vigor.

“Malignia” will seduce you with its dreamy nature, even if an ominous nightmare lurks around the chorus. This song comes right after “The Last Of Us”, which I’ve previously referred as pop-ish, so it’s quite the contrast. And mind that I’m not complaining about “The Last Of Us”, as its easy-going vibrancy is catchy and very pleasant. I was just concerned at the time of its release as a single that the whole album would be like that. After 10 albums – a double one included – I guess I should’ve known better, eh?

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino