Archive for groove

Overkill – The Grinding Wheel

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 7th February 2017 by Pieni

Overkill
“The Grinding Wheel”
Thrash metal
Release: 10th February 2017
Via Nuclear Blast

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I’m having mixed feelings about Overkill’s new album. Maybe my expectations were too high after Testament’s “Brotherhood Of The Snake” and Kreator’s “Gods Of Violence”, and also an underground project called Infraktor that I’ve been keeping close tabs on; my thrash metal flame’s been rekindled and was eager for “The Grinding Wheel” to keep fueling it. But…

The length of the songs is an automatic downer for me. Yes, it’s not exactly new that Overkill like to shred away longer than the rest of their fellow thrash bands, but I believe it’s the first time they’re pulling an average of six minutes per song (literally, kids – it’s ten songs in one hour; do the math). That’s just too much.

At least they diversify the structure and it’s not the same riff over and over plus a 3-minute solo; it doesn’t get boring out of repetition and here lie my mixed feelings. Crafted compositions are clear, rich with groovy patterns, but some kind of binding agent is amiss. The opening track, “Mean Green Killing Machine”, for instance. The introductory drum beats are promising but soon reveal they’re not getting anywhere; a Judas-Priest-like melody and the rock’n’roll piece that it leads to are both pretty catchy, but fall somewhat adrift among the main riffing.

One of the features I’ve always loved the most in Overkill was their bass line, but D.D. Verni’s presence here is shallower than usual – needless to say, another downer. And as if that wasn’t enough, in “Shine On”, one of the songs where the bass stands out a little, Bobby Blitz sounds like a chicken when singing “come on” in the chorus, ruining the moment.

Curiously enough, one of my favorite tracks is less thrash, as the aforementioned rock’n’roll comes at full force in “Come Heavy”. But the rebellious “Red White And Blue” follows suit in terms of preferences and that one is as thrashy as it goes. The rest of the album… well, let’s just say that it lives up to its title: it… grinds.

3,5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

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Gojira + Equaleft – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 9th July 2016 by Pieni

Gojira, Equaleft
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
7th July 2016
Promoted by Prime Artists
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July and this was the first time this year that I’ve worked with Prime Artists. They’ve promoted several gigs lately but all in Lisbon and I haven’t had the chance to cover those almost 200 mi. And even though it makes sense to promote a show in a more central, strategic city like the capital, after last night I start wondering if it isn’t also related to the conditions offered by the venues. Hard Club, seriously, what the hell happened to you?! After Ghost, last November, I thought you’d realized it was time to do something about the sauna-temperatures that place can achieve. You indeed bought huge fans to help the AC system in its job, but unless you actually turn them on… And you may think that I’m overreacting, that just a couple of lines on the subject would suffice, but when a band like Gojira is playing a sold-out show and it’s forced to shorten the set because the musicians are close to passing out due to the heat, yeah, a whole paragraph on Hard Club’s greed and lack of professionalism is appropriate.

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Now let’s focus on the good things – the concerts. There’s always some disregard for local, smaller bands, but this time almost everybody was present when Equaleft got on stage, at nine o’clock sharp. When Gojira headlined Vagos Open Air a couple of years ago, there was a petition for Equaleft to be included in the bill, as their sound is the best match to the French’s. At the time it wasn’t possible but I guess you can’t fight what’s meant to be. This was also the first gig of guitarist Miguel Martins, after a short introduction in December, when he played just a couple of songs (report here), but it was such a milestone in Equaleft’s career that former guitarist Veggy flew all the way from Brazil to take part in it.
 photo _DSC0635 copy_zps5jodxrcg.jpgI’ve been to too many Equaleft shows to know how good they are and what kind of positive feedback they get from the crowd, but this being their first time playing in front of so many people, it brought me a special sense of joy & pride – there was a fair share of longtime fans, but they were a novelty to the majority and I saw them surrender to their power groove. And to the chocolate butter cookies they gave away in the end of the show, as it’s their tradition, when singer Miguel returned on stage after a little crowdsurfing (also his usual).

www.facebook.com/equaleft

 photo _DSC0766 copy_zpsn7lmusgx.jpgIn thick smoke, strobe lights and louder-than-hell roars, Gojira took the stage with “Toxic Garbage Island” – and from the very first second to the last, the crowd gave a new meaning to the words enfants sauvages. They were restless ven during the tribal drum solo of Mario Duplantier, clapping their hands to the rhythm nonstop.
When Joe Duplantier addressed the audience, apart from the little pleasantries that he knew how to say in Portuguese, he said they loved our country and compared the city of Porto to a fairy-tale. Later he would mention the UEFA Euro 2016, saying “congrats on the final”, and as France had beaten Germany minutes before the show, he said how the victory would be good to France, given all the social-economical crisis their country was going through. We didn’t take it bad – there wasn’t a single whistle or boo – but the way “POR-TU-GAL! POR-TU-GAL!” echoed through the venue, showed him we weren’t keen on letting them win easily.
“Shooting Star” would end the show after about one hour and a quarter, with Mario stage-diving into the eager crowd. “Explosia” should have been the last, but they couldn’t take the heat any longer, as aforementioned. Still, band and audience left “hot club” (as Joe called it) with their hearts full.

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www.facebook.com/GojiraMusic

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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DevilDriver – Trust No One

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 30th May 2016 by mickbirchy

DevilDriver
Trust No One
Groove Metal, Melodic Metal
>Released: 13 May 2016
Via Napalm Records

Trust No One is the seventh release from DevilDriver. The album is certainly the same sound that they have been playing for years now, although it feels more revitalised and energetic. There is a distinct sense of power and command to the songs and the songwriting itself is great. All of the lyrics flowing really nicely and the sharp consistent riffs piercing there way into your head. They really come out swinging here with the tight production and stimulating melodies. I can’t really say it’s their best work, but there is definitely a drive behind this album, whereas the last couple felt a little tired.

Right off the bat DevilDriver hits you with a cavalcade of powerful and commanding groove based riffs, in that familiar way.  It’s all really nicely paced and creates an interesting sound in your head.  Opening on “Testimony of Truth” and “Bad Deeds” the album really starts you off with a blast to your senses. The lead guitar sounds distorted beyond belief with twisted and winding sounds mixed with the amazing bass work, which is really well laid.  All of it just pushes the songs forward with fantastic momentum and makes you want to keep listening.  Seriously the album flies by, forty minutes feels like ten and when you have fist pumping songs like “Above It All”, “Daybreak” and “Trust No One” it’s really no surprise.  I found myself wanting the next song to come on and it turns out that the album was over.  Forcing me to restart the whole thing again.

I’m a massive sucker for well done riffs and yeah, they’re simply spectacular here.  They’re completely solid and uncompromising.  They hit hard and let you just waver in the aftermath of their presence. When you add Dez Fafara’s insane vocal style on top of all of it it makes for one hell of a listening experience. Just simple heavy metal done really well no need for for any fancy gimmicks or weird stylistic choices. Pure heavy metal full on until the end. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed this album, although they haven’t much to change their style or innovate the genre.  They have created something really pure and simple. Why change up a formula that already makes sense?

4/5

Mick Birchall

Sparzanza – Circle

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 20th September 2014 by Pieni

Sparzanza
“Circle”
Heavy rock
To be released on 26th September 2014
Via Spinefarm Records / Black Cult Records

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Sparzanza are back. Well, have been back since March, when this 7th album of theirs, “Circle”, was released in the Northern countries. Now the stores in the rest of the world will have the pleasure of delivering it as well.

They’ve been gradually hardening their sound in the last albums, so seeing them pushing the envelope and releasing their heaviest album so far, that wasn’t a real surprise to me. Yet “Circle” has Sparzanza’s typical dark groove embroidered all over it.

Right from the start you get that impression with the opening track “Pine Barrens”. Heavier riffs, sharper beats, faster rhythm, rougher vocals… and then the chorus comes out in such a dark melody – not melancholic but rather ominous, menacing. After all, they’re singing about the “devil being back every century”

With all that but featuring a more easy-going melody comes the next track “Underneath My Skin”, which was the rightful choice for first single, precisely due to the melodic part – it gives a more accurate idea of the album as a whole, which I believe is the main goal of a promotional single. “Black” would have been great for that purpose as well, its stronger bass making it somewhat heavier and the “church choir” hinting some spiritual sense to the melody.

As for speedy songs, I must mention “Death Don’t Spare No Lives”. A very lively but groovy song, meaning the rhythm will hit your eardrums and embrace it at the same time.

“Breathe” could have been featured in the soundtrack of a thriller, as the words I find to describe it are the same – exciting and suspenseful. And taking “suspenseful” as cue, let me tell you about the second single “Into The Unknown”. Now this is quite a piece of melancholic darkness! The double tracking of Fredrik Weileby voice, in a grave pitch and a higher one, is one of my favorite details, giving such richness to the sound. Especially when it’s not a through and through event, it only happens in some carefully chosen parts, enhancing the beauty of this song.

The sadness in “As I Go Away” is a lot stronger, though, the piano and strings making sure to produce a melody as heartbroken as Weileby’s voice. Powerful ballad, this one.

“A circle is not something that has one specific meaning – it has several, so let the interpretation of this be in the eyes of the beholder”, say Sparzanza regarding the title of this album. Well I choose the meaning of “completion” as this is what “Circle” is – a successful achievement by this great band.

5/5

By Renata “Pieni” Lino

 

 

 

Interview with Johan Carlsson of Sparzanza

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 14th September 2014 by Pieni

 photo 10558040-origpic-fe62b6_zps3b638754.jpgI’ve been a Sparzanza fan for some five years, since I’ve first heard “My World Of Sin”. That song was featured in their 4th album “In Voodoo Veritas” and they’ve released three more after that, none of them ever disappointing me. So I was more than thrilled for this chance to interview bassist Johan Carlsson and get to know a little bit more about their latest “Circle”, among other things.

RL: Since this is the first time Valkyrian Music is talking to Sparzanza, I’d like to go back in time a bit. So my first question is… what does Sparzanza mean?
JC: Well, it comes from some old Blaxploitation movie from the 70’s. I believe it was the name of a very unpleasant pimp. Although, it was a long time ago. It was the first singer (Peter Eriksson) who came up with the name for a song first, and then the band used it as a band name. Do not ask me what movie it was, ‘cause I have absolutely no idea!

RL: You’ve been hardening your sound for some time now, but “Circle” is definitely your heaviest album so far. Was that intentional, at the beginning of the songwriting process, or it just turned out that way?
JC: This time it was really not intentional. It has been intentional on some of the albums, but not this time. This time we wanted to make a great record and have absolutely no boundaries. We have experimented a bit more this time, different guitar sounds, tunings, double bass drums and stuff, but in the end the song is what is in focus. And has always been.
We also wanted to have a more honest production, without too much overdubs and drum triggers and so on. More natural. photo sparzanzapress2011fotorobertrundberget2_zpscf09b13c.jpg

RL: Still, you manage to always keep that “something” that identifies it as a Sparzanza song. How would you describe the Sparzanza sound to someone who has never heard you before? What would you say it’s your best quality in order to convince that person to go and listen to it?
JC: I would say that it lies within the melancholy of the melodies. We have very strong melodies, which are very dark most of the times. Especially on the former album “Death Is Certain, Life Is Not” when we really dug us down into darkness. Still it’s not goth- or depressing music. It is really heavy hard rock/metal with great melodies. And with one of the best and most various rock and metal singers available (Fredrik Weileby).

RL: That “trademark” sound is also heard in covers – five years ago, you’ve released your own version of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”. How did that idea come about, to release it at that particular time and why that song?
JC: We did it because we needed some attention at that time, actually. I don’t remember why we chose that particular song, but it might have to do with us thinking Mr. Idol is pretty cool. Also, since we wanted to do a cover a lot different than the original (otherwise don’t do it) and the production of that song is a bit lame, we thought we had something to work on. Our cover version, unlike other cover versions of that song, is very dynamic and has a cool Sparzanza feeling over it.

RL: And if Sparzanza would ever do something like that again, what song would you like to cover?
JC: Oh, that is a hard question. We actually talked about it the other day but never decided anything. Personally, I would like us to try a cover we did about 15 years ago – “Skirtlifter” by a band called Buffalo.

 photo sparzanza-circle-cover2014_zps895cce4d.jpgRL: Like it’s said on the website, “a circle is not something that has one specific meaning”. Is that why it was chosen as title for the album? For its diversity?
JC: Our street team, called The Black Cult was actually an inspiration. We wanted something on the cover that could be interpreted as a cult, something that is boiling underground without the public really knowing about it. The title is chosen out of that, and it’s a good title since it can be interpreted in several different ways.

RL: Of all the meanings it can have, which one is your personal favorite?
JC: The occult thing – a circle unknown to all!

RL: And still speaking of favorites… which song of “Circle” do you like to listen to the most and which one do you like to play live the most?
JC: Personally I think “Black” is a great song. It turned out one of the heaviest songs we have ever written. “Pine Barrens” is the coolest song to play live I think. The riffs are cool to play and it’s a great… no, it’s an amazing show opener!

RL: Why did it take so long for “Circle” to be released worldwide? (Note: “Circle” was released in the Northern countries in March and is set to be released worldwide on the 26th September)
JC: There are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week! We concentrated on the Scandinavian countries first and needed some more time to plan the release outside of Scandinavia. We are doing a lot of work ourselves. We have our own label who releases the albums outside of Scandinavia and with all the touring and stuff we did not have the time to release it properly until now. I hope it was worth the wait!

RL: And can we expect live shows outside the Northern countries?
JC: Hell yeah! Right now there are plans for shows in Germany, Spain and UK in 2014. Then we will do the Benelux countries as well as China in 2015. That is the plan now, but there might be additions to that tour schedule.

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RL: You’ve mentioned on Facebook that there’s a new song already, “Plainfield”. Was it born spontaneoulsy or are you already working hard on the next release? Is it too early to ask if you’ll keep on the heavy path of “Circle” or keep moving into something else?
JC: We’re always writing songs. This time, though, it was a spontaneous thing. We have not started to write a lot for the next record, but there are always plenty of ideas to be worked on. I think it might be a little premature to talk about how the next record will sound, but it won’t be less heavy than “Circle”, I can guarantee you that!

RL: In the band’s bio the drums are mentioned as being “in your face” in this album, and that the sound is different due to the “use of alternate tunings of the guitars”. Does this include the bass guitar or would you like to add something else about the input of your bass in “Circle”?
JC: Well, since the guitars are tuned different I had to tune the bass different too sometimes. But I have been trying to keep the low tuning that I always use on my basses. It sometimes makes it harder to play the songs but the sound stays heavy. Otherwise than that I really like to keep both the playing and the gear pretty simple. Just the amps I always use, my Sandberg basses and a pre-amp, that’s it. Me and Anders (the drummer) also rehearsed by ourselves a lot this time before recording, to make it even heavier.

RL: Well it’s been a pleasure talking to you! All the best with those plans!
JC: Thanks!

www.sparzanza.com

Interview by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Equaleft – Adapt & Survive

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 12th June 2014 by Paul Macmillan

Equaleft
Adapt & Survive
Released 31st May 2014
Metal/Groove/Progressive
Released via Raising Legends/Raging Planet

Equaleft - Adapt & Survive

I thoroughly love it when a band brings together seemingly unrelated influences into a consistent amalgam of riffery. Gojira are a prime example, drifting the tremolo arm of black metal across a valley of doomy chords, all the while casting the sensibilities of modern metal hook creation around them as they go. It invariably results in something more than the average; something juicy to get your teeth into which delivers a full palette of flavour into every hungry bite.

Not that they sound much like the French overlords of all things thunderous and addictive, Portugal’s Equaleft seem to have attended some of the same seminars on genre-busting. Adapt & Survive’s intro piece, We Are, is more reminiscent of the soundtrack to a tense political sci-fi thriller movie than the kick-off of your everyday metal album – and with good reason. This is a band who genuinely likes to challenge, but not at the expense of great metal, and this is not your average metal album.

Slamming into the first track proper (…The Chameleons), the yaw of the music is meaty, but there’s a hint of old school tech hovering in the background: a whiff from the oceans of sewage continual drifting from under the running boards. The Meshuggah influence seems to be worn with pride throughout, but there is more of a natural flow to these songs. As much as I love the Shug, being one of the freaky few who can disco dance to most of their back-catalogue, it’s nice to hear this style taken in a new direction, embracing movements of pure rocking out. To put it another way, it’s great to be in possession of such a mighty array of weaponry, but sometimes you only need your knuckles to get the job done.

Without losing its unique character, Adapt & Survive, travels from the dredging doom of New False Horizons’ intro, through the Swede-esque sway and churn of Heroes Of Nothing and over the chuntering death-thrash in Invigorate (re-recorded from a previous demo version), struggling to contain a seeping energy rare in similar circles.

By looking the Devil in the eye and shunting him a middle-finger of non-compliance, Equaleft have come up with something a little special. The lift of emotional song-writing. The satisfaction of technical proficiency. A unique personality. It is 100% an album to take home and own, and digest slowly.

This will be going on the old MP4 player, the computer, and CDs being left both in the bedroom and any automobile that I can get it in, because I can see myself being in the mood for this on many, many occasions. There will no longer be a gap in the music when I’ve overplayed my Meshuggah, Agonyst and Man Must Die collections. Or is that my old In Flames, Pissing Razors and Arch Enemy CDs. I’m not sure. It’s somewhere in the wasteland between and it’s really good stuff!

4.5/5

Paul Macmillan

“Adapt & Survive” release party @ Metalpoint, Porto (PT)

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 1st June 2014 by Pieni

Equaleft, Colosso, Tales For The Unspoken, Forbidden To Fly
Metalpoint, Porto
31st May 2014

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“Adapt & Survive” was the album we were celebrating last night, but it could have well been the motto of the event. The main reason I avoid gigs at Metalpoint is safety – unless you stay in the back (which I’m not fond of at all) or you lean against one of the side walls, you have nothing to hold on to when the mosh circles start rolling. The second reason is the sauna-like heat the venue generates with just a half-full house. Now Equaleft’s debut release party managed to sell out the place a few days prior to the event – a record in Metalpoint’s 6 years of existence, by the way. You think you can imagine how hot it must have been, but trust me – you just can’t.

Equaleft invited three bands to join the party. The first one was metalcore act Forbidden To Fly. They’re currently preparing their upcoming debut album, meaning not only writing songs but also gathering the financial means for it. And since they’re young students, that may take a while. There’s a 2-track demo and a single on bandcamp already though, and I saw a few people singing along.
They were pretty comfortable on stage, although singer Ricardo seemed a little nervous at first. But soon he loosened up and was moving around the little free space the stage offered. Around the third song or so the power went down. Still not sure what the hell happened, but luckily the blackout didn’t last long, people even joked screaming stuff like “take your hand off my wallet!”, and it didn’t happen again.
MP Marcelo from the band Monolyth joined in for the last song, but I honestly didn’t hear the title. In fact, I only took notice of “Reflections” and “The Tides”, and that was early in the gig. One way or another, those kids did very good. (4 / 5)

www.facebook.com/forbiddentofly

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I really enjoyed Tales For The Unspoken at Moita Metal Fest a couple of months ago (read report here) but for some reason, and despite the heat and smaller venue, I liked this gig more. Nothing much has changed since that gig – bass player Nuno is still very expressive, singer Marco still curses like a mf (sorry, couldn’t help it)… Marco dedicated “Soul For A Soul” (which he announced “Soul For A Fucking Soul”) to Hugo Gama, drummer in Spectral Flood, who’s recently passed away, and for “I, Claudios”, a song to be featured in the next album, he called on stage “someone who’s not very famous” – which obviously turned out untrue, as it was Miguel Inglês, the singer in the band hosting the event.
The crowd singing the tribal chanting in the last song “N’Takuba Wena” was stronger and the moshing more intense, so maybe that’s what made the difference – the empathy between band and audience. Whatever it was, it was great. (5 / 5)

www.facebook.com/talesfortheunspoken

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Colosso‘s sound was way too loud – so much that a shrill feedback was heard at some point. But no one seemed to mind – the intricate patterns still pleased the prog and experimental fans, while the brutality was all the mosh horde really cared about. Personally, I’m not a fan of experimental death metal and everything sounded too much of the same. Singer/guitarist Max didn’t speak much either – and one time when he did the mike wasn’t working – , nor did they have a setlist that I could take a look at, so I really don’t have much technical details to give you. I can say though that in the three years they’ve been around, a full-length CD (“Abrasive Peace”) and an EP (“Thallium”) were released and highly acclaimed, and a new EP, “Foregone Semblances”, is on its way (25th June). So given the proximity between the three release dates, I’m quite sure the setlist had a little bit of them all.
Despite my slight boredom, that was obviously on me, as the majority was thrilled with the performance. And even if sometimes doesn’t feel like it, this is still a democracy and so the majority wins – therefore, Colosso were awesome. (4,5/5)

www.facebook.com/colossometal

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But not as awesome as Equaleft. True, it was their night, that certainly was hard to compete with, but I’ve been seeing these guys live for the past 5 years and the stage is definitely their element – release party or not, everybody knew what a blast that show would be.
They played “Adapt & Survive” in full, by the same order of its track list, and you know the expression “all hell broke loose”? Well, even in the temperature those were the accurate words to describe what was going on. Miguel is usually the one who joins the mosh pit and goes crowdsurfing while performing – this time was no exception – but even bass player Mike stepped off the stage to play among the first rows and guitarist Malone jumped into the hands of the fans (although he put aside the guitar first – he wasn’t that reckless in his crowdsurf adventure).
Since none of the three guest musicians that are featured in “Adapt & Survive” could be there that night, Equaleft decided to invite some other friends over for the older songs, which were played after the official presentation of the album. “Cynical Plague” was the first one, having Danny from Forbidden To Fly playing a third guitar. Then as Marco from Tales For The Unspoken was called, what I feared would happen to me, ended up happening to drummer Marcos – he got sick from the heat and had to leave for fresh air, before he passed out. Miguel, always the entertainer, tested the vocal skills of the crowd. Then he himself went behind the drums and did a very basic act, that the audience still cheered enthusiastically. So Sérgio, drummer also in Tales For The Unspoken, took his place and jammed a bit with Equaleft. Until Miguel had the idea of changing the order of the setlist and call the next guest Filipe from Gates Of Hell (who was their previous bass player) and his drummer Afonso, since  the latter helped them out in the past and so he knew how to play the drums in their older songs. They played “Denial”, and as Marcos was still recovering, Afonso stayed for “Erased” as well. Even though he claims – as usual – that he sucked because it had been a long time and he was unprepared, he did a hell of a job – also as usual.
Marcos came back, not exactly good as new but close enough, and so Marco was called back to sing along “Alone In Emptiness”. At some point Miguel left him alone on stage, to mosh a little.
In order to spare Marcos, they wanted to cut the set one song short and so “Sleep When I’m Dead” – a song that “means a lot to me”, said Miguel – would be the last. But Marcos was determined to give it all and so “Uncover The Masks” was performed as originally planned, even if not in that order.
They later said there were no words to describe what they felt that night and I must say the same, as “brilliant” doesn’t quite cover it. One thing is accurate though – it was unforgettable. (5/5)

www.facebook.com/equaleft

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino