Archive for Greek mythology

Ex Libris – Medea

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 13th January 2014 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Ex Libris
Medea
Released 18th January 2014
Progressive Metal/Symphonic Metal
Self-Released

Holland has become a country known for its female-fronted talent, such as Within Temptation, ReVamp, Epica and Delain, so it won’t come as a surprise to many when I say that’s the country that progressive powerhouse Ex Libris hail from. Having played as support to a few of the above mentioned bands, Ex Libris, who are fronted by the talented Dianne van Giersbergen, are slowly building a reputation for themselves on the international metal scene for their unique and bombastic sound sound. Whilst Medea is their second album, the band have achieved a lot more than most bands have.

Named after the Medea of Greek mythology, the album is kick started by the title track, Medea, which is a raging storm composed of swaying guitar passages and crashing waves of percussion, lined with vocals sharp enough the cut Mount Olympus in two. The lashings of orchestration help add to the tragic and dramatic character of the song. Sailing from the seas of the tragic Medea into the fearsome ocean that is Murderess In Me, the album’s atmosphere morphs into something more sinister, allowing for the music to become more cut-throat whilst retaining its classical and mythic vibe. The riffs have a sharper edge than the previous track, allowing for Dianne’s vocals to glide swiftly over the ocean of the music without hindrance.

On The Ocean’s Command begins with the soothing sound of the sea and the creaking wood abroad a ship as the climatic use of guitars, courtesy of Paul, make themselves heard before the vivid keyboards, as supplied by Koen, make their striking entrance. The song builds itself up into a tense masterpiece, tightly knitting each element of the song together. Dianne’s vocal work is particularly impressive during this track, changing like the winds, expectedly and unexpectedly. The following song, My Dream I Dream, focuses more on the emotion than the dramatics, allowing for a vast river of feeling to flow through each aspect of the track. Peter’s basswork sound more profound, making itself known from beginning to end, especially in sudden thrilling and heavy portion of the track, colliding smoothly with Eeclo’s clear-cut and strict drumming.

Song Of Discord marches in like a column of hoplites on their way to war. There is a powerful and harrowing atmosphere conjured up throughout the song, giving the music more punch than would be expected. The vocal duet of Dianne van Giersbergen and Damien Wilson opened up new possibilities for this song, not just vocally but throughout its performance in which the two vocalists play the parts of Medea and her husband, the hero Jason. It will be interesting to see how Ex Libris can pull this one off live. A Mother’s Lament begins straight away with a hook, grabbing attention from every angle and refusing to let go. The guitars and rhythm sections hammer away, fortifying the song whilst the vocals and keyboards add the glitz and the glam to the song, keeping it from becoming a dull affair.

Daughter Of Corinth sees another drastic change in the pace and sound of Medea, turning into a fearsome hydra of progressive riffs, eerie vocals and hypnotic drum passages while other aspects of the song are more shadowy, keeping withdrawn like a Gorgon hunting their victim. A Tale Told makes use of other elements but remains true to Ex Libris’ overall sound as well before the album moves onto the ten minute and fifty second long epic From Birth To Bloodshed which like some of the previous tracks paves way for a drastic change in the album. The riffs during this track are callous, leaving no room for mercy whilst the vocals are at their pinnacle, adding emphasis to the rest of the song. The instrumentation throughout the song take sup the spirit of the ocean, changing from the violent crashing of waves to gentler sailing.

Ex Libris have a knack for writing good music and Medea takes you down more twists and turns than the Labyrinth, keeping focus on the music as new life is breathed into Medea’s impressively tragic story by one talented band.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Ex Libris online:

http://exlibrismusic.com
http://facebook.com/exlibrismusic

 

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Fleshgod Apocalypse – Labyrinth

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 5th October 2013 by Contra Mundi

Fleshgod Apocalypse
Labyrinth
Released 16th August 2013
Symphonic Death Metal
Release via Nuclear Blast

Labyrinth is an album of epic proportions that seems out of place in everyday life. It belongs to a more grandiose era that would suit its enormous and complicated depictions of the ancient Greek mythology, but I am grateful that it exists to prove that this brand of death metal mixed with classical elements that they have executed so beautifully does not have to be filled with cliché. It can be a weapon in its own right, and when used correctly and in keeping with the rest of the music, classical embellishments can add great depth and contrast to a musical genre that was all too quickly growing stale.

The first track Kingborn serves to set the scene of Theseus’s descent into the labyrinth. Away from the sea, chirping insects and sunlight, he descends into the bowels of the earth where the thundering riffs and astonishing blast beats knock the breath out of you. Complete with a choir and a flurry of keyboard parts, the musical image is unleashed and you are transported into the myth and all of its mysteries. As an album opener, it is a very strong showcase of the band’s collective and individual talents but you also get the impression that they have found their feet and now have the confidence to do as they please. The problem with mixing elements of musical genres is that it always attracts comparisons to other bands that got there first, but Fleshgod Apocalypse have carved a niche for themselves. The classical elements are not there to disguise something that may be lacking in the band’s sound or ability, as they are a foreboding musical force on their own, so they extend the reach of the death metal beyond what is expected of it and aid in the storytelling of what is one of the most widely known myths in world history.

Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon) starts with a piano solo, accompanied later by a chanting choir. Then comes the eternally impressive death metal. The drumming especially is of an extremely high standard. Vocals are now added into the mix and blend seamlessly with the chugging guitar riffs and chanting of the choir to create a musical cacophony that attacks you on all levels.

Elegy again incorporates more classical elements, this time with the guitars and bass imitating the actions of violins; paving the way again for the choir to burst forth. Death metal elements are more obvious this time around complete again with blast beats, rasped vocals and technical breakdowns with the choir labouring away in the background, adding a sinister edge to the music as the song progresses to its climax and leads into Towards The Sun. The choir carry it through and trumpets and blast beats maintain the sordid and claustrophobic atmosphere the album is developing. Guitar solos add another stunning depth, complete with some female operatic vocals that sing out over the dark song scape beneath them.

The real surprise however from this album aside from its sheer scale and audacity is the use of not one, but two solely classical instrument tracks. Prologue and Labyrinth; the former a classical guitar duet and the latter a piano solo are a startling contrast, but in some ways a welcome reprieve. Prologue explodes into Epilogue and the change makes you jump as it is a death metal stampede with female operatic vocals flowing out over the top. The instrumental tracks add something different to the formula of the album, as otherwise Labyrinth as impressive as it is, would become its own worst enemy for using the same aspects of its formula over and over again in very similar ways.

Ultimately the album is something of a soundscape that flows seamlessly. You would be forgiven for thinking it was just one illustrious track that tells an epic legend in a fashion that it deserves; that is as relentlessly and innovatively as possible. The best way to appreciate this album is to look at it not as a sum of its separate parts, but as a whole piece of art that incorporates contrasting music styles in order to do justice to a famous legend.

Due to their recent UK tour being cancelled, we will have to wait a little longer to see this epic performance played out upon the stage and I will be curious to see how they recreate some of the more technical classical elements live, but nevertheless, I’m sure it will be something to behold.

4/5

Alex Cook

Fleshgod Apocalypse online:

http://facebook.com/fleshgodapocalypse

Sirenia release first trailer for Perils of the Deep Blue

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 20th May 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

The upcoming new Sirenia record is titled Perils Of The Deep Blue and will be out on June 28th via Nuclear Blast Records.

The band completed the first trailer with impressions from the studio and some cool information. Watch the trailer below:

The tracklist of the ltd. digipak edition – including two bonus tracks – reads as follows:
01. Ducere Me In Lucem
02. Seven Widows Weep
03. My Destiny Coming To Pass
04. Ditt Endelikt
05. Cold Caress
06. Darkling
07. Decadence
08. Stille Kom Døden
09. The Funeral March
10. Profound Scars
11. A Blizzard Is Storming

Bonus:
12. Chains
13. Blue Colleen

Regarding his thoughts on the new album, vocalist and guitarist Morten Veland comments:

The entire band and all the people we are working with are absolutely ecstatic about it! This album takes Sirenia to the next level and brings many new sides of us to the table. There’s typical tried and tested Sirenia stuff but also approaches that you’ve never heard from us before. I think I’ve never felt so good about an album throughout my entire career. I mean, I love them all, but this one is something special. It’s the result of two and a half years of blood, sweat and tears. I’ve literally put my heart and soul into this record, so I am very curious to see what our fans as well as the press will think about it!

Perils Of The Deep Blue was produced by the mastermind himself, while the mixing and mastering was done by Endre Kirkesolain Dub Studios, Oslo. Veland also states:

The writing process has been going on for about two years. I always have ideas for new stuff, so I started writing even before we had released our previous album The Enigma Of Life. Most of it has been recorded in my own studio. I love to work there as I always feel inspired – plus we can take our time with whatever we do, for there is no time pressure. Just like for all of our previous albums, we also dropped by Sound Suite Studios in France – a great place that feels like home, too. This time we recorded the Marseille choir there that one can always hear on our records, as well as some of my acoustic guitar parts.

The album artwork was originally painted by Anne Stokes – though it wasn’t intentionally created to be used as such, as Morten explains:

I came across the artwork on the Internet and immediately fell in love with it for obvious reasons – it’s no secret that I’ve always been fascinated by Greek mythology and sirens. So we got in touch with Anne and luckily she granted us the permits to use it for the record. I actually drew the inspiration for the album title Perils Of The Deep Blue from the artwork. In my opinion, it’s the perfect Sirenia cover – there was no way we could have let that opportunity slip away!

Sirenia online:

http://sirenia.no
http://facebook.com/sirenia
http://nuclearblast.de/sirenia
http://www.twitter.com/sireniaofficial
http://www.lastfm.de/music/sirenia
http://www.myspace.com/sirenia