Archive for Groove metal

Planet of Zeus – Live in Athens

Posted in Metal, Rock with tags , , on 13th November 2018 by mickbirchy

Planet of Zeus

Live in Athens

Stoner Rock, Groove Metal, Southern Rock

Released: 30th October 2018

via ihaveadrum Records

There are two peaks in a bands career. Two heights of artistic achievement that they can wear like a badge of honour. One is the concept album, the other… The “live” album. Nothing really says “We’ve made it” like selling out a venue, recording the show and selling that show for all to hear. For me, one of the best live acts I have ever seen would have to be, Planet of Zeus. They are a force to be reckoned with on the stage. Their music is so anthemic and powerful, it can connect with pretty much any audience member at any show. All I can say is if you haven’t taken yourself to a show from them. Treat yourself the next time they’re in town. After their most recent record Loyal To The Pack, the band played their home countries capital city, Athens, to a ravenous crowd, giving birth to the bands first ever live album: Live In Athens (I know, such an original title).

I will say that this record sounds excellent all the way through. It captures that feeling of a Planet of Zeus show to an extent. From the heavy riffs to the excellent and gut-busting solos this album sounds so damn good. When Stelios Provis busts out the solos, the rest of the band create a tight foundation from which he’ll just let loose and create magic with the guitar. The set-list for this show was a solid one as it’s completely filled with energy, good vibes and their unique atmosphere that they bring to the show. You even hear those little echoes and refrains that you only hear in a live setting. When Babis Papanikolaou roars out the lyrics to songs like “A Girl Named Greed”, “Loyal To The Pack” or “Macho Libre” I can feel it right down in my gut. It’s the kind of voice that you take notice of. The production as a whole is wonderful.

The record is beautifully balanced and well mixed, I can only imagine what some of these songs felt like in the gig itself. If there’s anything that Planet of Zeus is known for it’s their riffs and they packed this setlist with their finest. Songs like “Leftovers”, “Devil Calls My Name” and “Little Deceiver” are definitely the moments that grab your attention. As their riffs just have that way of getting in your head and sticking around. It’s that great balance of groove, rock n roll and balls-to-the-wall heavy that makes Planet of Zeus such a compelling band to listen to.

However, I think there’s something that can be lost on a live record. Some things from the gig itself don’t always translate quite as well to the album version. This is the only downside I can think of to this record, yet, it’s more of a failure of the medium. Some bands can really transcend it and make you feel like you’re at the gig from the live album alone. Here, I don’t think Planet of Zeus has quite pulled that off. Although, it’s a great recording and there’s all of the unfiltered crowd banter, as well as the audience chanting for the band. The recording of the crowd is great too. You hear their chants as clear as a bell and their interaction with the band is great. It must’ve been quite the crowd to be a part of night itself. Yet, there’s just something missing from it that stops it being an amazing live album. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a great listening experience but it’s not a great “live album”.

This is a fun record to listen to. A must buy if you’re any sort of stoner rock or groove metal fan. If you’ve never listened to Planet of Zeus I would say that this is a great album to get you started. Not only did they provide some of their best material but you get a small sample of what it would be like to listen to them live. Which is a treat! I adore Planet of Zeus (if I haven’t made that obvious) and having missed the Loyal To The Pack Tour, this was awesome for me to listen to. They are simply one of the best bands going today in my opinion and this live record should be more than proof to anyone who denies that sentiment.

4.5/5

Mick Birchall

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The Raven Age release new single and donate sales to mental health charity

Posted in Metal, Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , on 13th October 2018 by izaforestspirit

The British groove metal band The Raven Age have recently released a new single called ‘Betrayal of The Mind’. The central theme for the song is mental health.  Here what their vocalist Matt James had to say about:

” In an age where mental health problems are becoming a pandemic, it serves as a reminder how far we have come as a species but how unaccustomed we are to this new world in which we currently live. We are connected to each other through technology but yet are feeling more alone than ever. We need to spread awareness and act on these issues, and speak out when we are feeling alone. One way to do this is through music…”

The song acts the first preview of their yet to be titled new album, the follow up to their debut ‘Darkness Will Rise’ which came out last year.The band have also announced that they will be donating all the money made during the first month of sales to The Blurt Foundation – a charity helping those affected by depression.

You can listen to the track here:

 

For more information about the charity visit:

https://www.blurtitout.org/

You can also make a separate donation at: https://localgiving.org/charity/blurtitout/

The Raven Age

https://www.theravenage.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheRavenAge

Hanzel und Gretyl – Satanik Germanik

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 31st July 2018 by izaforestspirit

Hanzel Und Gretyl
Satanik Germanik
Released 6th July 2018
Industrial Metal / Groove Metal / Extreme Metal
Released via Metropolis Records

Hanzel und Gretyl - Satanik Germanik

The New York -based industrial metal duo Hanzel und Gretyl have been around since the mid-90s. They’re often hailed as the only non-German band in the Neue Deutsche Härte scene. Their music has evolved a great deal since the beginning, ranging from experimental-industrial to industrial metal, groove with even hints of black metal and melodic death metal. Their latest opus ‘Satanik Germanik’ promises to be their darkest and most metal-sounding album.

This is essentially picking up from where Hanzel und Gretyl left off with ‘Black Forest Metal’ – the first part of the so called ‘Grimm Shiza’ era. As the title suggests there are some satanic themes plus references to stories by the brothers Grimm. So if you enjoyed that album, there is a good likelihood that you will like this one too. However, if you were hoping for the more wacky German space metal from their ‘Fukken Über’ -era, then I would suggest you skip straight to the party track Trinken Mit Der Kaizer (Die Bierz From Hell). Good to see that these two haven’t lost their sense of humor.

As far as the style goes, most of the songs have a dark, gritty black metal tinge that is particularly audible in the guitars while the industrial elements are not as prominent as they were in their previous works. Singer Vas Kallas’s voice makes this eerie, croaking sound, like the old witch from the Grimm stories, which combined with the coarse guitar riffs gives the music a creepy feel. They also occasionally slow down the pace like on the groove metal styled track I Am Bad Luck, which puts the emphasis on the bass guitar. Speaking of the bass, it also comes into the fore on 13 Moons; a track that is probably the closest they have ever come to producing a black metal song.

In summary, ‘Satanik Germanik’ can easily be classed as Hanzel und Gretyl’s heaviest album to date. In many ways it sounds exactly like I expected it to. It is not another ‘Über Alles’, in fact it is very similar to ‘Black Forest Metal’. And yet it’s darker, haunting and more serious than the earlier works; even moreso than their previous album. Luckily there’s still the odd party track to please fans of their older material.

4/5
Iza Raittila

DevilDriver – Outlaws ‘Till The End

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 18th July 2018 by mickbirchy

DevilDriver

Outlaws ‘Till The End, Vol 1.

Groove Metal, Melodic Death Metal

Released: 6th July 2018

via Napalm Records



This album is an amazing concept and something I kind of want more of. Judging by the title, we might just get it. DevilDriver, have created an album full of metal covers of classic outlaw country songs. Outlaws ‘Till The End Vol. 1. I’m a huge fan of country and metal music, so this works perfectly for me. Also, this doesn’t feel like a cheap cash-grab. There does seem to be a real effort and passion put into the album. It’s clear from listening to it that DevilDriver has a lot of respect and love for the artists that they’re covering. All of the songs pack a punch straight to the gut and give new life to these songs for a new generation, who may have never encountered them otherwise.

Covering artists like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and The Eagles. They manage to capture the soul of the original songs whilst, at the same time, putting their own mark on the tunes. Giving every song that signature DevilDriver edge that sounds really brutal. Production-wise, the album sounds great. With chugging guitars, well-executed drum work and Dez Fafara screaming his heart out. Producer, Steve Evetts, did a great job putting this project together. Every instrument sounds brilliant and Fafara roars over the top of it all, creating an energetic and fierce sound. Joining DevilDriver on the project is an all-star cast of metal artists: Wednesday 13, Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe and Mark Morton, Lee Ving from FEAR, Glenn Danzig, Brock Lindow of 36 Crazyfists, Testament’s Chuck Billy, and John 5. Who all add that little bit of flavour to an already delicious sound. As well as the metal star power, there’s a cool appearance from country heavyweight, Hank Williams III. Who performs his song “Country Heroes” with DevilDriver.

The songs are already tried, tested and beloved outlaw country songs like “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Johnny Cash, “Outlaw Man” by The Eagles and “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” by Dwight Yoakam. So as far as the songwriting is concerned, it’s great. It really is the way DevilDriver have re-imagined these songs and made something truly original out of them. Almost turning them into their own songs. The way they take the familiar elements and put their own spin on things is mesmerising and is still enjoyable on the other side.

No doubt this album might be little divisive to some. Fans who might have just wanted more original content from the band may be annoyed by a cover album. Also, country fans may not like the idea of these metal versions, “destroying the original sound”. Yet, I really like the idea here. More importantly, I like the execution and delivery. DevilDriver has made a fun, compelling record that I think people will really enjoy. The existence of the covers doesn’t ruin the originals but continues their legacy by getting new listeners on board. Be that with songs they’ve never heard, in the case of metal fans. Or a genre they’ve never considered, in the case of country fans. Since the title is “Volume 1”  all I can say is when is “Volume 2” coming?

4.5/5

Mick Birchall

Urne – The Mountain of Gold

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 30th June 2018 by mickbirchy

Urne

The Mountain of Gold

Groove metal, stoner metal

Released: 27 July 2018

Self-Released

Image may contain: night and outdoor

It always sucks when a band with so much potential, doesn’t go the distance. Hang The Bastard are a prime example of this. An excellent groove metal band that always brought the extra something to their live performances and it really sucked when they split in 2016. Well hopefully, this will go some way to easing that loss for the fans. As a new band formed by two former members of, Hang The Bastard emerges. Bassist, Joe Nally and guitarist, Angus Neyra have come together once again to make something new and special within the same vein of music, with their new group, Urne. Armed with their new drummer, Rich Wiltshire they’re ready to unleash their new EP – The Mountain of Gold. I’ve had the chance to listen to it prior to its release and I have simply loved what I’m hearing.

The album kicks off with this atmospheric build up to the debut single “Dust Atlas”, which then kicks into a powerful bombastic riff. Already establishing a commanding presence, they manage a great balance between heavy and melodic as Joe’s vocals come in. The music’s production sounds simply phenomenal, with the guitar roaring away, the bass pulsating and the drums sound as sharp as a tack. The riffs are groovy as hell and the whole EP packs one big punch. The bands also add that groove flavour to the riffs to keep the songs fluent and easy to listen to. In all honesty, I like the simplicity of the sound. It’s definitely bare bones metal but it’s really effective.

The only thing that I am not a fan of is the vocal effect that comes in from time to time. It’s I find the echo distraction and makes the production cluttered. However, I think that’s just my personal bias, toward vocal effects. On the other hand, I did like Joe’s screamed vocals. Although it sounds like he is straining himself at times, there’s real emotion to connect with when it comes in. I can’t think of much else that I didn’t like here. Urne really presents a great EP, it has a dynamic sound that keeps you entertained from start to finish.

It’s really good to hear new and fresh music from musicians that have already proven themselves in the arena. The Mountain of Gold is a well made first step into this new venture for the groove metal trio and I’m excited for what comes next.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Check out their new video!

The Charm The Fury – The Sick, Dumb & Happy

Posted in 'Core, Alternative, CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 15th March 2017 by mickbirchy

The Charm The Fury

The Sick, Dumb & Happy

Metalcore, Groove Metal

Released: 17 March 2017

via Nuclear Blast

This is an album that I have been particularly excited for. I first caught wind of The Charm The Fury a few years ago via an article in Metal Hammer magazine.  I looked them up and I was really blown away by them.  I hadn’t heard anything like them before.  I would go on to discover a lot of bands in with this sound and I do have The Charm The Fury to thank for that. Their first album A Shade of My Former Self was an exciting bold record with a lot of passion and intensity. It was genuine smash of an album. So, I’ve really been getting into their new album The Sick, Dumb and Happy. They have made some interesting stylistic choices with this album to keep things fresh without losing their core appeal.

This album is more of a groove metal album then metalcore.  The gritty riffs the, groovy bass lines and more of an appealing tone. It fits them it really does. I think every member of the band carries their weight very well on this album. The sound is massive and all of the songs have the potential to be crowd pleasers.  From the old school sound of “Down on the Ropes” to the more modern sounding, “Weaponized”. They hit the mark nearly perfectly.  The production is bold and really gives a firm punch when the tunes get going. On this album the band feel way more palatable. These are songs more likely to get airplay in more mainstream and that’s really not a problem. They sound great doing it and I would say that these songs deserve the attention.

This is a major step in the right direction for The Charm The Fury. It’s really nice to see a band evolve like this.  It proves you can make your songs appealing to a wider audience without selling out.  They have just made a natural step forward with their music. There’s really not much else to say if you want a great album with a fun sound with some truly pump-up choruses, the look no further that this album.

5/5

Mick Birchall

Devilment – II – The Mephisto Waltzes

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 12th December 2016 by izaforestspirit

Devilment
II- The Mephisto Waltzes
Released 18th November 2016
Symphonic Gothic Metal/ Groove Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast Records

It’s been two years since the release of Devilment’s debut album ‘The Great and Secret Show’. I’m guessing that most people (myself included) first discovered the band after reading about it being ‘a side-project’ of the Cradle of Filth frontman Dani Filth. The band was formed in 2011 by the guitarist Danny Finch and a group of friends in the town of Ipswich, England. Then a little later Ipswich resident, Dani Filth joined the ranks. Fast forward five years, a few line-up changes and the so called ‘side-project’ has developed into something far more serious. Since the success of their debut album, Devilment has been touring and this year their second opus ‘II – The Mephisto Waltzes’ saw the light of day.

I think that the biggest mistake that anyone can make with Devilment is to compare them to Cradle of Filth. Whilst both of the bands feature Dani Filth on vocals and share a fascination with horror themes, the similarities end there. THIS IS NOT CRADLE OF FILTH. You won’t find too many tales of Victorian Gothic horror here or lyrics such as “Evening minuetto in a castle by the sea.” What you will find though, are several references to horror movies, modern horror literature and art – most notably Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King.  The surrealist artist Salvador Dali is also mentioned in one of the bonus tracks on the limited edition.

Hitchcock Blonde caught my attention even before the album was released thanks to the creepy video. The song itself is an entertaining piece of keyboard-heavy melodic metal with a touch of humour in the lyrics. They even went through the trouble of mentioning the names of the blonde actresses from Hitchcock’s films. Similar things can be said about somewhat Gothic-sounding Dea Della Morte; another song filled with horror film and TV show references . If you are looking for something more profound, perhaps with a touch of dark poetry then Full Dark, No Stars is the track for you. It’s a truly beautiful song which highlights the vocal talents of singer/keyboard player Lauren Francis whose angelic voice provides the perfect contrast to Dani’s harsh vocals.

Not all the songs are melodic and keyboard-driven though, for example Shine on Sophie Moone picks up the pace with the drums and the thrashing guitars glaring in the spotlight. This is by far the heaviest song on here. It is also the most complex one treating the listener to a wide range of styles ranging from the fast and furious, to the melodic via an experimental part in the middle.

In summary, Devilment have clearly had lots of fun composing and recording this album. No matter how dark and sinister the lyrical themes become, the music has a certain playful tone to it. As far as genre definitions go, it’s a total mish-mash – Gothic but not overly theatrical, symphonic but never quite reaching the orchestral let alone operatic level; with hints of groove metal and a slight experimental flavour added in just to keep you on your toes. So if you dare to dance with the devil then it’s time a for a waltz with Devilment!

4/5

Iza Raittila