Archive for Gothic Metal

Belle Morte – Game On

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

Belle Morte
Game On
Released 11th April 2018
Gothic Metal / Symphonic Metal
Self-Released

Belle Morte - Game On
‘Game On’ is the first EP from the Belorussian Gothic metal artist Belle Morte. This one-woman project was launched in 2015 and all her music is available for streaming and download from the Bandcamp page.

Female-fronted Gothic metal bands are a dime in a dozen these days. It almost seems that everyone wants to become the next Nightwish. Well, not quite everyone. If you’re looking for another Nightwish clone with over-the-top symphonic, Disney soundtrack -style tunes, operatic vocals under the guise of a metal band you have come to the wrong place… Belle Morte has a very melodic, ethereal voice but is not quite as powerful as that of Tarja Turunen or Floor Jansen. So forget the Nightwish comparisons. Her vocal style is more like that of Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation).

The one thing that I enjoyed most about this EP was the keyboards, the sombre sounds of the cello and violin sandwiched neatly between the guitars and drumming. It is impressive just how well all this works together. Devilish Deal is the most prominent example of this. The instrumental arrangements are absolutely beautiful as are the vocals.

Overall, the only issue I have with this EP is that it is too short. ‘Game On’ offers four tracks of beautifully arranged and skillfully executed Gothic/symphonic metal. I cannot wait to hear a full album.

4/5

Iza Raittila

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Iza’s Highlights of 2018

Posted in Alternative, Editorial/Opinionated, Industrial, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2018 by izaforestspirit

It’s that time of the year again! Time for my annual best of list or “highlights” as I prefer to call them. This year I have decided to do just one list rather than two separate ones for metal and non-metal. The main reason for this is that there have not been too many industrial/EBM releases that caught my attention this year. So without further ado, here are my top ten albums of 2018:

1. Powerwolf – The Sacrament of Sin
Genre: Power Metal
Powerwolf - The Sacrament of Sin

The German power metal wolves are back with a new album. And what an album it is!! I honestly cannot get enough of it. It may not be very profound as far as the themes go but it is hell of a lot of fun. Stand-out tracks are ‘Fire & Forgive’, ‘Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ and ‘Nightside of Siberia’.

2. Lord of The Lost – Thornstar
Genre: Dark Rock/Gothic Industrial Metal
Image result for lord of the lost thornstar
I absolutely adore this band. They combine the best of dark rock with Gothic metal and Deathstars-like industrial metal. ‘Thornstar’ has to be their greatest and most complex album to date. In order to fully understand the concept, I would recommend that you download the 21 paged ‘Thornstar backstory’ from the band’s website. It’s a fascinating read that offers some insight into Pangaean history and culture. Alternatively you can simply enjoy music. Stand-out tracks are ‘On This Rock I Will Build My Church’, ‘Haythor’ and ‘Black Halo’.

3. Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest
Genre: Blackened Death Metal

Behemoth are back with their long-awaited new album. As I mentioned in my review, this is not ‘The Satanist part 2’ but rather a mixture of both old and new Behemoth styles. It takes a few listens but once you get into it your patience will be rewarded. Stand-out tracks are ‘Wolves ov Siberia’ and ‘Bartzabel’.

4. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura
Genre: Melodic Black Metal/Oriental Metal
閃靈 - 政治 / Battlefields of Asura
My favourite oriental metal band are back. Their latest album might not be a memorable as ‘Bú Tik’ but it has its moments. Music-wise it offers more of Chthonic’s unique blend of melodic black metal, death metal and oriental folk music with the addition of some choirs and guest vocals from the Cantopop singer Denise Ho. Stand-out tracks are ‘A Crimson Sky’s Command’ and ‘Millennia’s Faith Undone’.

5. MONO Inc. – Welcome to Hell
Genre: Gothic Rock/Dark Rock
Image result for MONO INC WELCOME TO HELL cover
More Gothic rock…’ Welcome to Hell’ is my favourite MONO Inc. album to date. Their music is essentially melodic hard rock but it also has this wonderful, eerie Gothic feel. Stand-out tracks are ‘Long Live Death’, A Vagabond’s Life’ and Reign of Rats’.

6. Grimner – Vanadrottning
Genre: Folk Metal/Viking Metal
Grimner - Vanadrottning

I had the pleasure of reviewing this album earlier this year. It’s been a long while since I’ve heard any folk metal that was this good. I would recommend this to fans of Finntroll, Ensiferum and Månegarm. Stand-out tracks are ‘Vanadrottning’ and ‘En Fallen Jätte’.

7. Monstrosity – The Passage Of Existence
Genre – Death Metal
Monstrosity - The Passage of Existence
My kind of death metal and my favourite death metal album of 2018. It is hard to pick out a stand-out track since in all honestly I like them all but ‘Kingdom of Fire’ and ‘Maelstrom’ are the ones that stuck in my head the most.

8. Hanzel und Gretyl – Satanik Germanik
Genre: Industrial Metal/Groove Metal/Extreme Metal
Hanzel und Gretyl - Satanik Germanik
‘Satanik Germanik’ is Hanzel und Gretyl’s heaviest and most metal album. As mentioned in my review it is darker and more serious than the material from the “Fukken Über’ era, much like its predecessor ‘Black Forest Metal’. Luckily that does not make it any less fun. Stand-out tracks are ‘I Am Bad Luck’ and the party song ‘Trinken Mit Der Kaizer (Die Bierz From Hell)’

9. Scandroid – The Darkness
Genre: Synthwave
Image result for scandroid the darkness
One of the few electronic releases that made it to my top 10. ‘The Darkness’ is the third album from Klayton (Celldweller/Circle of Dust)’s synthwave project Scandroid. Delightful retro synthesizer tunes, a little guitar and melodic vocals all with a futuristic feel. Stand-out tracks ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Red Planet’.

10. Auger – The Awakening
Genre: Darkwave
Image result for auger the awakening
A new discovery for me. I really enjoyed Auger’s show at Lumous Gothic Festival 2018. This British dark wave duo combine the best of darkwave and Gothic rock. I would recommend their debut album to fans of Blutengel, Gothminister and The Vision Bleak. Stand-out tracks are ‘Monster’ and ‘My Guardian’.

Honourable mentions:

Xentrifuge – Desensitized Parallels, Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods, Psyclon Nine – Icon of The Adversary. All good albums but with only a few outstanding tracks they missed out on a space in my top ten list.
IAMX’s latest album ‘Alive in The New Light’ also came out of the start of this year. While it didn’t make my top ten I did enjoy it, especially the track ‘Mile Deep Hollow’.
Check out the video here:

Best live show of 2018: Helloween live at South Park Festival in Tampere.
Biggest New Discovery: Auger
Most anticipated albums in 2019:
Blutengel – Un:Gott
Blue Stahli – Obsidian
Also hopefully new albums by Helloween and Rammstein.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Iza Raittila

Caelestia – Thanatopsis

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 4th January 2018 by izaforestspirit

Caelestia
Thanatopsis
Released 8th December 2017
Symphonic Gothic Metal /Melodic Death Metal
Released via EMP Group/SPV Europe

Caelestia - Τhanatopsis

Thanatopsis’ is the second album from the Greek symphonic metal band Caelestia. They have been around since 2012 and they have toured with bands such as The Vision Bleak, Arch Enemy and Draconian. This latest opus was mixed and mastered at Fredman Studio, Gothenburg Sweden by Fredrik Nordström.

My knowledge of the Greek metal scene is limited to just two bands: Astarte and Rotting Christ. I’m particularly fond of the latter…This however doesn’t really sound like either of these. What we have here is an interesting fusion of female-fronted Gothic metal with hints of melodic death metal and symphonic elements. Depending on the song, their music can sound very melodic and pleasant e.g. Dancing With The Demons or harsh and aggressive with elements like death metal growls, abrasive drumming and guitars mid-way through Devil’s Game and the opening of  Travel to Eternity.

If it wasn’t for the melodic death metal elements, I would have probably dismissed this as yet another Nightwish clone. Admittedly their female singer Dimitra Talamamtes Vintsou has a similar voice to that of Tarja Turunen but that’s where the similarities end. Their unusual blend of styles is what makes Caelestia stand out. The mixture of symphonic Gothic metal with melodic death metal maybe a little too much for your average Gothic metal fan. Luckily my taste in metal is more diverse than that. I actually like the contrast between the harsh and the melodic sounds and the dual vocal configuration works surprisingly well. The closest thing I can compare this to would be mid-career Therion; melo-death with symphonic elements but without the choir.

In summary Caelestia’s album turned out to be a lot different from what I expected. Their music doesn’t really fit one specific genre but they do a good job of taking the best elements of various styles to create something memorable. So if you’re bored to listening to Nightwish wannabe Gothic metal or melo-death bands still trying to replicate the “Gothenburg”-sound, then I suggest you give ‘Thanatopsis’ a go.

4/5
Iza Raittila

Iza’s Highlights of 2017 part 1: Metal

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , on 29th December 2017 by izaforestspirit

2017 is almost over which means that it’s now time for my annual “Best of” or “Highlights” as I prefer to call them. This year’s edition will be in two parts – metal and industrial. So without further ado here are my top ten metal releases of 2017:

1. Kreator – Gods of Violence
Genre: Thrash Metal

godsofviolence_zps28ifmxs8

 

2. Cradle of Filth – Cryptorina: The Seductiveness of Decay
Genre: Extreme Gothic Metal

 

3. Lacrimosa – Testimonium
Genre: Gothic Rock/Symphonic Metal

Image result for lacrimosa testimonium

4. Lord of the Lost – Swan Songs II
Genre: Dark Rock/Gothic Rock/Classical

Image result for lord of the lost swan songs ii cover

5. Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal

Ex Deo - The Immortal Wars

6. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black
Genre: Death Metal

7. Mono Inc.- Together Till The End
Genre: Dark Rock/Gothic Metal

Together Till The End

8. Doyle – As We Die
Genre: Heavy Metal

Doyle - As We Die

9. Barathrum – Fanatiko
Genre: Black Metal/Doom Metal

Barathrum - Fanatiko

10. Eisbrecher – Sturmfahrt
Genre: Industrial Metal

EISBRECHER - Sturmfahrt

 

Marilyn Manson’s ‘Heaven Upside Down’ didn’t make my top ten list but it’s still a good album which I would recommend. I haven’t been to too many gigs this year but out of the metal shows I’ve attended my favorite would have to be Destruction live in Tampere.

Biggest New Discovery: Mono Inc.

Most anticipated albums of 2018

New albums by Powerwolf, Devilment and hopefully Behemoth.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the industrial/other non metal edition coming soon.

Cradle Of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 15th September 2017 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Cradle of Filth
Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay
Released 22nd September 2017
Extreme Gothic Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

If you’ve never heard of Cradle of Filth, you’ve most likely been living under a rock for God knows how long. Once hailed as the “most successful British metal band since Iron Maiden“, Dani Filth and and the band have proved their worth, despite various line-up changes throughout the years. Now the band are set to release their twelfth studio album: Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay. A bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?

The atmospheric invoking Exquisite Torments Await opens up the album with its sinister beginning, followed closely by the demoncially possessed guitars and banshee-like wails and guttural growls of Filth himself. Heartbreak and Seance glides in with the graceful sound of tragedy before the remorseless storm of guitars and symphonic sections come raging in as though a hurricane. Achingly Beautiful is a grandiose display of Dani Filth‘s vocals, charging through the tempest of unforgiving musicianship, while Schoolcraft’s narrative vocals bring a whole new dynamic to the track. The choirs and orchestration, however, truly make the song what it is – a dismal, ominous anthem.

Wester Vespertine is a furious blitz upon the ears, weaving Filth‘s, and occasionally Schoolcraft’s, refined vocals with cimmerian melodies and stout riffs. The title track, The Seductiveness of Decay, is a gloomy composition, weaving slow and fast riffs with dispiriting keyboard melodies and Gothic lyricism. Vengeful Spirit creates more of an atmosphere in its beginning, as the prophetic sound of guitar notes ring out, accompanied by Filth‘s voice. When the song comes into its prime, it is essentially a standard day in the office for Cradle Of Filth – agile, cumbersome and melodic. The part of the song that really stands out however is the guest vocal appearance from Liv Kristine, as her vocals soar majestically through the track.

You Will Know The Lion By His Claw is a swift, threatening and unwieldy track, leaving little room for prisoners as it bludgeons its way through, like a hunter chasing his prey. If you had to sum up Cradle‘s current sound with just one song, this would be it. Cryptoriana comes to its closing with Death and The Maiden, a track that is as weighty as it is shadowy, really embodying the sense of dread and darkness that one would expect to find within Victorian Gothic horror.

Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is at the same level that Cradle‘s classic albums, such as Midian and Dusk… And Her Embrace, stand. It is a demonstration of the band’s current sound and displays their potential to keep writing awe-inspiring music.

4.8/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Semblant – Lunar Mainifesto

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 27th April 2017 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Semblant
Lunar Manifesto
Released on 28th April 2017
Gothic Metal
Released via EMP Label Group

Formed in 2006, Semblant hail from the South American nation of Brazil. After a few line-up changes, they are now considered one of the country’s most important Gothic metal outfits, even going as far as being classified as Brazil’s first vampiric metal act. Lunar Manifesto is the latest in their string of releases.

Incinerate  opens up the album with a demonic assault of fast, heavy and unforgiving riffs that lay siege to the ears. The screamed vocals capitalise on the demonic sound of the track, while the cleaner vocals add a melodic, almost angelic touch to the song. Dark of the Day keeps the vicious heavy riffing of the preceding track while marching at a slower tempo. The contrasting use of vocals entwine themselves almost lyrically with the fury of the music.

What Lies Ahead has a more melodic sound, the guitars and keyboards dancing beautifully together, allowing for more focus on the clean vocals whereas The Shrine sounds very power metalesque in its introduction, before the bestial screams make themselves heard. Bursting Open has a very dramatic opening, focusing on an eerie orchestration and clean vocals that border on spoken word. The rest of the track appears to have lost the momentum found in the previous tracks, sounding less passionate.

Mist Over The Future makes a strong use of stormy guitar riffs and gentler keyboard sections, and the screams and growls are as vehement sounding as can be. Though the drums are cold and calculating, a noticeable difference from the rest of the track. Keyboards are more prominent in  The Hand That Bleeds, creating a cryptic atmosphere whereas the guitars and vocals are more esoteric in their sound. Selfish Liar is the perfect combination of savage, destructive riffs and sorrowful yet creepy keyboards. The vocals on this track are near magical, fitting in well with the song’s composition.

Ode To Rejection mixes ominous keyboards with hypnotic riffs, creating a sombre sound that is reflected in the lyrics., while The Blind Eye bursts in with a near-majestic sound built up by the heavy-hitting guitars and commanding use of vocals. Scarlet Heritage is the album’s ending, finishing the 11 track release with a blistering onslaught of cumbersome guitars and bold vocals. The keyboards weave into the track beautifully, adding beauty to the beast-like nature of the song.

Lunar Manifesto has its good moments and its bad ones. For the avid Gothic metal fan, it is a release that would fit in well into their collection.

3.5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

 

20 years of “Diva” – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 14th January 2017 by Pieni

Heavenwood, La Chanson Noire
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
30th December 2016
Promoted by Raising Legends

Heavenwood’s debut album “Diva” was released on the 27th of August in 1996. I won’t say it feels like yesterday but it certainly doesn’t feel like 20 years ago either. “They went by quickly”, to quote singer Ernesto Guerra.

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Carlos Monteiro, a.k.a. Charles Sangnoir, and his one-man project La Chanson Noire was invited to open up the night. I was surprised with the choice, but then again, after seeing thrashcore and prog-rock acts playing with Heavenwood before, the “bleak pop” of La Chanson Noire made perfect sense. A piano backed up by some samples and a single voice, playing satirical “cabaret goth” songs. A weird mix, yes, but that’s what makes it interesting. The crowd preferred to stay back, but they were clearly enjoying themselves to songs such as “Familia Chantilly” (chantilly family) or “O Bordel de Lúcifer” (Lucifer’s brothel) – the latter even played by request, although it would surely be played later on.

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www.facebook.com/chansonnoire

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Any proper anniversary show includes the celebratory album performed in full and “Diva” was no different. Hmm… no, that’s not right. I mean, they did play the whole album, in the same order as the studio version, but the feeling they put on it wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen by them. Well, in Vagos it was really close, but let’s face it – nothing like a debut album released 20 years ago to make things a lot more special. It’s funny how I hadn’t heard some of those songs in ages and still knew the lyrics word by word. Ah, the power of good music.

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At some point, Ernesto thanked everybody for their presence and also the past members who helped making that record – Zé, Mário, João and Bruno – and also thr.e one member who departed way too early but is always on their minds, Rui Santos (R.I.P.). Last but not least, roadie and jack-of-all-trades Paulo Magalhães. It felt really good to hear all those names acknowledged out loud, after all these years.

 photo DSC_0644 copy_zps99yi7jb9.jpgAfter the stellar performance of “Diva” the band left the stage to return moments later with “The Arcadia Order”. 2016 also saw the birth of “The Tarot Of The Bohemians” and its songs were the ones the crowd knew the lyrics best, but the enthusiasm was equal, no matter which track/album. Blame Zeus-Sandra couldn’t make her usual appearance at “The High Priestess”, and in no way would I ever discredit her, but Ernesto singing her parts sounded quite exotic and the song got a new dynamic. It was one of those nights when nothing went wrong.

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www.facebook.com/HeavenwoodOfficial

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino