Archive for Guitar

Ibanez Iron Label RG 7 String RGIR27E

Posted in Featured, Gear Reviews, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 16th October 2013 by vmteam

Specs:

  • 3 piece Maple/Bubinga neck
  • 25.5” scale length
  • Basswood body
  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • Jumbo Frets
  • EMG 707 Pickups (bridge and neck positions)
  • 3 Way Blade Switch
  • 1 Volume
  • Latching Killswitch
  • EDGE-ZERO II Bridge

The Ibanez RG is probably one of the most recognisable and iconic guitar shapes in the long history of the guitar. Its sharp points and beautiful curves give it elegance with a touch of venom. Through its many iterations, the RG has been the workhorse model of choice for guitar players around the world, from jazz to metal. In the metal world it has secured its standpoint by morphing its uncompromising playability to suit the needs of six string players, seven stringers and 8 string djentelmen alike. The range of options is vast on this particular model, with hardtail versions for players who want absolute stability, and vibrato models for those that want to drop bombs and scream the place down.

The Iron Label series has been a welcome refreshment to the ideas of building the shred machine. The series combines all the features and playability of the existing models, the variety of fixed bridge or double locking vibrato units, string count and gorgeous looks with that one thing we all find hard to swallow when we look for our guitars; affordability. Ibanez threw it all on the line and created an affordable, reliable, uncompromising weapon of maximum shred, and have been reaping the rewards.

This particular model, the RGIR27E, is one of two 7 string examples on show within the body shape. Its main feature is the double locking EDGE-ZERO II Floating vibrato unit. The other version of this is a fixed bridge affair, denoted by the F in the model number (RGIR27FE). Both feature EMG 707 pickups for the ultimate sound of brutality, a 25.5 inch scale neck to handle not only the standard six strings with outstanding stability, but cater for the low B string with ease. It aptly manages to retain the string tension, whilst allowing great articulation of the low notes. If you find that low B isn’t brutal enough for you, slap some heavier strings on and tune down to A or G and unleash a fire breathing monster of death and destruction, and it will even hold a low F with a good amount of accuracy, (and a damn good set up job).

The EDGE-ZERO II is a development of the original Ibanez Edge series of double locking vibrato units, and it certainly lives up to the reputation built by it’s forbearers. Because of the unit being double locking (strings lock at the bridge and at the nut of the neck) the system allows extreme changes in pitch, both up and down and tuning stability is rock solid. As the strings terminate at the locking saddle on the bridge, the transfer of vibrations through the bridge to the body is a direct transfer. This allows the guitar to sustain notes whilst being manipulated by the vibrato, and harmonics can be held for extended periods of time. The fine tuners on the bridge allow for precise tuning when the strings are locked down, and allow quick tuning changes if a string slips out of tune. As if that wasn’t enough, the bridge is a recessed floating affair, so the strings can be pulled sharp and allows for all sorts of musical devilry.

The neck on the RGIR27E is fast, flat and wide for all kinds of shred play. The unfinished Maple feels extremely comfortable and rigid, combined with the Bubinga stripe running through the centre to enhance the rigidity and tone of the neck. The older Ibanez necks were a combination of Maple and featured a couple of Walnut stripes and were a multi-ply neck configuration, that were superbly sturdy, and featured some of the thinnest neck profiles imaginable. This particular neck feels ever so slightly thicker, but still feels amazing to play, both from a lead standpoint and a rhythm perspective. With a 400mm radius, the neck is fairly flat, and that allows for lower string heights, so the super low action is a breeze to play with. Some people find these necks hard to adjust to, because they have had to compromise with other necks, which are rounder, fatter and harder to contend with. Ibanez have given the best of both worlds and taken the neck into another dimension. A Rosewood fret board warms up the sharp attack of the Maple, whilst keeping the clarity of the notes. The absence of fret markers can be off putting at first, but take comfort in the fact that the side markers are visible even under stage lighting, so you shouldn’t get totally lost whilst wandering around slaughtering innocent victims with your brutal shredding.

The audio department is covered with the addition of one of the best, if not the best, active 7 string pickups on the market today, the EMG 707. The 707 has been the pickup that companies have tried to emulate for many years now, and some consider it to be the only 7 string pickup worth talking about. EMG asked their line up of 7 stringers what they were looking for in a pickup and almost all of them reported back saying “We want the 81 in a seven string format”. And thus it came to pass that the 707 was an 81 with a bit more, and gave rise to the demonic soapbar pickup that adorns the guitars of some of the best guitarists who utilise the un-natural 7 string guitar with great destructive power: players such as Jeff Loomis, Rusty Cooley, Dino Cazares, Christian Olde Wolbers and many more besides. Because of the ceramic magnets inside the 707, the notes are crystal clear, and have a remarkable bark and bite under crushing amounts of gain. The 9 volt battery that powers these pickups allows for true power, (there is even an 18 volt mod to soak the power and give even more output from the guitar).

When choosing a body wood, most people overlook Basswood as a cheap, undesirable wood. But as many more companies offer Basswood as a body wood choice nowadays, it is becoming a very popular choice among Pros and bedroom shredders alike. Lighter than mahogany, but just as full sounding, but with more emphasis on the lower end with a well defined mid range, Basswood is an excellent compliment to a maple neck. Add in the EMGs and an EDGE-ZERO II Bridge, and you are ready to decimate your audience with the first note.

Finally, we get to the all important bit of price. For most signed artists, endorsements will either pay for, or discount their instruments. For us mere mortals who can’t even get money off our shopping, this is a dream, one that is very rarely achieved. We scrimp and save just to afford a set of strings most times and purchasing a new guitar only happens when a store has a sale, or someone we know has had enough of their axe and wants their newest toy (or needs to buy toys for the new arrival in the form of a screaming, puking firstborn). Quite easily the best thing about the Iron Label series is the price range. The standard fixed bridge 7 string is offered, without it being a sale or having a big discount, for the miniscule price of £515.00 at Andertons music store in Guilford (online prices/store prices may vary). The EDGE-ZERO II version is priced at the tiny price of £599.00 at Andertons (again prices may vary) which is an amazing price for such quality craftsmanship and for a guitar that will rip audiences in two.

And so to recap, the Ibanez Iron Label RG, in either version, is a great addition to your arsenal, whether it’s your first 7 string or just another weapon to use. The Ibanez Iron Label series has you covered.

Dan Eastwood

Revocation – Revocation

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 19th August 2013 by Pieni

Revocation
Revocation
Released on 5th August 2013

Technical Death/Thrash Metal
Released via Relapse Records

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Naming their 4th album after themselves may not be very original, but apart from that, nothing seems to deserve being criticized in this “Revocation”. The thrash is more aggressive, the death is sharper, the prog is fiercer… every aspect is a notch or two more consistent.

Their best feature has always been the guitar work and the shredding-meets-technique of every track is remarkable – even if some riffs sound a bit familiar. Let me point a few highlights: “The Hive” made it to single, probably because it’s the most ferocious track in the album, the most straightforward in terms of brutality. The latter is less brisk in “Archfiend”, the guitars more polished, including a few moments of an acoustic one towards the end, leading to a fluid old school solo. “Fracked” has a very heavy metal initial rhythm, that eventually evolves to something more progressive and – once again in the solo – returns to a more classic and melodic tone. “Invidious” is the most exquisite and experimental track, blending everything that technical death is about with some banjo chords and gang vocals. There’s also a djent approach with the instrumental “Spastic”, and whoever gets the deluxe edition can also enjoy a very loyal cover of Metallica’s “Dyers Eve”. I confess I was hoping for a little revamp of the guitars, but there’s no significant changes there. But that’s just a cover, after all – what they had to do with their own songs to achieve a status of excellency, it was certainly done.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Tyrian – Seek Medical Advice

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 4th August 2013 by Nico Davidson

Tyrian
Seek Medical Advice
Released 21st November 2011
Metal
Self-Released

The UK’s capital, London, is a breeding ground for bands – metal bands in particular – and Tyrian are no different. Fronted by The CockRockets drummer and solo artist Tom Ussher, Tyrian have been on the scene for some time now, blending hard rock, punk and nu-metal into the weird melting pot that is Seek Medical Advice.

The experimental nu-metal stylings that up Destroy opens up the album with plenty of technical licks and raw punk vibes where as Ashes beats out catchier melodies and infectious vocal hooks – the verses themselves being as memorable as the chorus. Reborn is a subtler track that draws out Tyrian’s hard rock influences and use of dulcet guitar passages.  Waves of eerie riffs open up Forbidden before it begins sailing down the more hard rock orientated sound – Something that really brings out the emotion in Tom’s voice. Sun Don’t Shine portrays the solemn sound of Tyrian’s music and lyrics, gently releasing a slow and dreary guitar passage. Even though the pace picks up the dreary sound still pours sound like falling rain. (Empty) acts as an interlude, being composed of a monologue.

Obsession changes the whole sound of the album, bringing back the experimental nu-metal soundings that first began the album whereas Inside My Mind has a calming use of guitars though the lyrics and vocals greatly contrast against the acoustic guitar. Paralyzed has a mesmerising hook in the riffs and the vocal melodies, making it somewhat eventful compared to some of the previous tracks. Hell’s Throne ups the level of aggression on the album, throwing out beastly riffs and vicious bass work while the drums lay the cumbersome foundations for the song. Psychotic finishes the album in a truly violent way, bringing down claps of thunderous bass and snarling guitars with fierce, overwhelming vocals.

Seek Medical Advice is an interesting album, to say the least though the multitude of genres that Tyrian cover in one whole album can be quite hard to get grasp on the first few listens but it does display the musical genius behind each member of Tyrian.

3.5/5

Nico Davidson

Korotory – Chapter III: The Conquering

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 6th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Korotory
Chapter III: The Conquering
Released: Early 2013
Thrash/Death Metal
Self-Released

Hailing from across the pond in the state of New York, come Korotory. Described as “the alternative to the alternative”, the band have been slicing their way through the US underground metal scene and have even gone to open up for black metal legends Satyricon. Chapter III: The Conquering is the next step in Korotory’s ever expanding career.

After the soft and alluring sounds of the opening track Hell’s Gate, the band unleash hell with the following track Spineless, a track that belts out hard-hittin’ riffs that you can really sink your teeth into. Fortunately, the rest of the album shows the same amount of ferocity, if not more. The vocal work sails smoothly across the roaring tides of ravenous guitars and behemoth sounding drums. Absolute Zero stands out as one of those tracks that would easily be a mosh pit anthem, given the right marketing while Ophidia, being another stand out track, is more akin to a stripped down Lamb Of God track – With an extra portion of vitamin heavy.

One notable feature about the album is the strong range of influences, from subtle NWOBHM sounds to the more defined thrash and death metal sections in the guitars while each track retains its own unique sound at the same time, avoiding becoming a pool of generic sounding metal. The last few tracks of the album, namely Dehumanization and Sanctified belt out the heavier thrash elements, leaving the other compounds of the band’s music behind – Of course, this doesn’t take away from the energy and aggression that bursts out through the riffs and barbaric drum work.

In today’s metal scene, there’s too many bands that end up sounding like an exact replica of their influences. Fortunately, Korotory do the exact opposite – They take their influences and recreate them into something fresh and such is the case with Chapter III: The Conquering. While their influences can still be heard in the background, the band have done well to morph the album into their musical vision and truly raise hell with this album. I can see this being the soundtrack to the apocalypse!

5/5

Nico Davidson

Korotory are:

Ray Truhn – Vocals
Darren Markoff – Drums
Chris Clemente – Lead/Rhythm Guitars
Brett Weatherston – Bass
Matt Scriva  -Lead/Rhythm Guitars

 

Giants–These Are The Days

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 14th November 2012 by samaxup

Giants
These Are The Days
Released: 17th September
Post-Hardcore/Skater Punk
Self-Released

In the past 3 years since the roots of Essex quintet Giants formed, they’ve amassed a huge following amongst the UK hardcore scene. With huge anthemic tunes such as Another Day, Another Year and Home To Home under their belt, it’s also no wonder why their live set is exploding with energy and crowd song-alongs. They have quickly become one of the hardest working bands in the UK and ‘These Are The Days’ is a well-fitting showcase of what the band have to offer to new fans, and what they have to reward their loyal fans with.

The 7 track mini-album wastes no time in starting. Did It Mean So Much To You gives mere seconds for the listener to prepare themselves for the ride ahead before a genre defining punk-rock riff initiates the album. The bass and guitar tones blend perfectly into a wall of sound that is driven by typical (but fitting) punk drums. Ed Parker and Jack Longman perform their vocals in their standard ‘you shout, I scream’ way but extend into different territory with a swap of tempos between slow choruses and upbeat verses.  A stand out moment in this song is the breakdown. In typical Giants fashion, they reflect the heavy and chuggy guitars with a small lighter fills of guitar which may take away the brutal-ness of the breakdown but instead adds beauty.

One thing Giants can do expertly are catchy ‘two step’ beats and When It Comes Down To It contains perfect examples of this. The structure of the song is made up of 2 choruses which are followed by well driven drum beats, aggressive punk guitars and bouncing basslines.  The vocals also closely compliment this song with catchy choruses and memorable lyrics. I have a feeling that this song will add to the foundations of their live set due to the application of this songs features.

Snakes is a rampage of pure skater aggression. The short anthem explodes with pure angst that is rumoured to be based on scooters in skate parks. For fellow skaters who have experienced the same, this song with be a vent for all the anger and the lyrics speak the minds of all who agree; ‘You’re always getting in the way’.

The lyrics that Giants painted in previous releases always had a way of reaching the hearts of their teenage fans. Won’t Be Told follows suit by expressing that things that teenagers have always wanted: Freedom. Jack Longman’s vocals are heart felt and are greatly accompanied by a flowing lead guitar riff and beefy rhythm and bass guitars. They also leave room for those fans who just want to headbang or run around in circles by keeping the punk influence running throughout the song.

Current fans of Giants are guaranteed to know track 5. Another Day, Another Year was originally released on 2011’s split EP with Evita and is now one of their signature songs that stapled their name onto the UK hardcore scene.  Unlike a lot of Giants’ songs, Another Day, Another Year has a feel good vibe. The pulsating vocals that sing about getting older but still remembering the good times, the sore throat inducing group chants and lead guitar that your ears worship all add up to an anthem that is a clear stand out amongst the rest of the album.

Bottled up is a nice and refreshing instrumental that is a break from all the carnage. The guitar tone is surprisingly beautiful and would fit in amongst bands like Basement. However, the break doesn’t last long as the final track Boneless brings the mini-album to close with a heroic mix group vocals, big choruses and intricate guitar work.

These Are The Days is not just another notch on the bed for Giants like most albums are for bands of their genre, it is the defining moment of their career so far and reflects their best work to date.  The display of Punk influenced hardcore and heart felt lyrics shown by the quintet sets the bar higher for all other aspiring artists that hope to make it big in the modern day music industry. All their hard work and touring has definitely paid off for them.

5/5

Sam Axup

The Obscene – The Torment Of Sinners [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 30th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: The Obscene
Album: The Torment Of Sinners EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Old School Death Metal

The United Kingdom underground metal scene is home to many great extreme (death & black) metal bands such as Hecate Enthroned and Venom. However, they’re not the only bands that have they’re home in the British underground. The Obscene, who keep death metal old school, are another band on the rise in the underground and their recent EP “The Torment Of Sinners” is just another step to the top for them.

”The Storm To Come”, aptly named, is the introduction to the EP. The use of sound effects throughout it, until the guitars and drum appear, leaves the listener on the edge of their seats – In a similar fashion to an extremely terrifying horror film. The guitars and drums are certainly old school in their composition. “The Storm To Come” finishes with what sounds to be the mutilated scream of a woman being stabbed, which introduces the second track “Embrace Oblivion”. The terrifying and violent concoction of vocals, guitars and drums greets the listener brutally at the beginning. The guitars are raw and just bursting with energy and the drum work is precise to the beat, brutal and intelligent.

”Grim Discovery” is composed of a voiceover which is a man speaking of bashing in a woman’s head – Can’t get any more violent than that unless you add in some raw, untamed death metal riffage which is exactly what The Obscene do, adding to the aggression and shock-value of the track. Beginning in a similar fashion to “Embrace Oblivion” is the slow yet heavy track entitled “Beyond The Hold Of God”. Some of the guitar sections seem to be choppy and lacking consistency though the listener can certainly feel the anger of the music – Which is a great thing for the hardcore fans of death metal. The drums are most impressive, more impressive the beast-like vocals.

”Skiprat Jane” begins with a voiceover of a female asking to borrow a body. The guitar riff that follows is just savage whilst the drums are on the verge of being Wall of China falling on a skull heavy! The vocals are pretty much bloodthirsty and hateful. Incorrectly named, “The Final Silence” comes shredding next – Bringing blissful death metal styled loudness with it. The scream, before the growls, sounds a tad like the ones found on a Venom record. The riffs are ingenious, mixing well with the hard-bitten drums, which sound to be doing a lot of the work in some sections. The vocals have a more beasty and demonic sound as well.

The last five tracks of the EP are bonus tracks, which can be found on the “Destroying the Heavens” EP from when the band went under a different name. The first of these bonus tracks is “P. S. A. S”. The guitars and drums certainly sound raw and unrefined, a good trait indeed. The vocals, on the other hand, sound more akin to black metal as opposed to death metal. The softer and clean section is certainly not what the listener would expect to find on this track – Fortunately it doesn’t last long before the track turns heavy again. “Destroying The Heavens” begins slow and clean, disappointingly. Though the blood-curdling scream signals for a change in weight and tempo for the track. The riffs and drums are barbaric and the vocals sound feral.

“The Man, The Martyr” brings the anger and savagery straight from the beginning. The music seems more fiery and rage-fuelled and the vocals are frenzied, much like a berserker. “Circle Of Despair” is different sounding as it seems to be more classic rock orientated, rather than death metal – though the vocals do keep a certain death metal dynamic to the track. The EP finishes with “And The Rivers Ran Black”, a track whose intro sounds slightly Gorgoroth inspired. The vocals are still raw and feral, whilst the music is savage, barbaric and bloodthirsty – A true death metal combination. You really couldn’t ask for a better track to finish the EP with.

”The Torment Of Sinners” might sound like a line out of the bible but the EP is far from biblical. The riffs and drum work would have Satan himself leaving a brown streak in his boxers and the vocals would give any demon a run for their money. Production wise, the songs are raw and aggressive – Perfect for the old school style of The Obscene. Despite the clean and slow guitar sections, “The Torment Of Sinners” is an interesting and entertaining EP, that’s not just for Hallowe’en, a jewel in Britain’s underground metal scene.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Aeon Of Horus – The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light [2008]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 27th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Aeon Of Horus
Album: The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light
Release year: 2008
Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Hailing from Australia, the four piece death metal out known as Aeon Of Horus [a name also used in Themela for the portrayal of a time of self-realisation] combine technical riffs and drum work with aggressive and violent brutality. Since forming in 2006, Aeon Of Horus have gone to dominate the Australian metal scene with their debut album “The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light”.

”3C321” begins the album with a short, melodic lick in which feral vocals and rugged riffs come straight after. The guitar work is extremely technical, perhaps a bit too technical in places. The drum work is vicious and unrestrained, adding savagery and barbaric stylings to the track. Whilst the track is well composed, it feels as if they is too much going on during in the three and a half minutes. It’s a mediocre track to be beginning the album with.

”Conquering The Speed Of Light” begins with a bit more consistency and less going on in the introduction compared to the previous track. Some of the riffs seem to be more straight forward and with no thrills while there is still a use of technicality through the track. The vocals are certainly beast-like and demonic. The drum work seems to be more acute and calculated as well. “Conquering The Speed Of Light” is certainly an assault upon the listener’s ears – Though this will be no problem for any dedicated fan of death metal. “The Embodiment: Part One – Of Darkness” has a very interesting beginning, being composed only of intense drumming. The guitar section that follows doesn’t seem to favour technicality much, though that’s no problem as the keyboard sections help create an atmosphere. There are some melodic riffs here and there throughout the track which are impressive.

Following after is the track entitled “The Embodiment: Part Two – And Light”. The intro is slower paced for a short while before the face-melting aggression and speed kicks in. The drums are vigilant and acutely played, while the guitars are brutal and angry sounding – the way death metal should be! The vocals are still going strong, retaining the feral, beast-like sound to them. The piano medley during in part of the second half is enchanting, almost like the singing an angel in a world of misery. The acoustic start of “The Pillars” is next, mixed with cunningly played drums. The acoustic guitar sections are masterfully played, lulling the listener into a state of calmness which is soon disrupted by the brutalising onslaught of “Arrogantly Opposing Reality”. The riffs are clever and sharp, whilst barbaric and savage at the same time. The drums are played with great precision, keeping in touch with the rest of the track. The vocals sound slightly like the ones found on a Lamb Of God album, which is no bad thing.

“Icon” is another track with an acoustic beginning, though the track is not entirely acoustic – fortunately enough for those who favour raw, destructive riffs over softer sections. The vocals are on the verge of being black metal vocals in some sections, though still manage to keep a hold of their death metal elements. The riffs can only be described as merciless metal aggression mixed with hateful drum work – the perfect recipe for a good death metal anthem. “Heru-Ra-Ha”, which literally means “Horus sun-flesh” [Also the name of a composite deity in Themela] ruthlessly blasts its way through the album, with intelligent-yet-untamed guitar and drum work, topped with fierce and remorseless sounding vocals. The short acoustic break is unexpected and ruins the track partially, composition wise, however the guitar solo is sheer brilliance and makes one easily forget about the acoustic section.

“As The Earth Shatters (Part One)” is the second to last track of the album. The entire track is calm, solemn and somewhat soothing, composed entirely of orchestration – Which can be a let down for listeners who were expecting neck-breaking riffs and ear-busting drum work. However, “As The Earth Shatters (Part Two)” makes up the let down of the first part as it brings the neck-breaking riffs that the listener is so eager to hear. The drum work is great, sharply composed yet uncivilised at the same time – A great contrast. Listener be warned though, orchestration makes its return on this track as well during in the second half though the raspy, whispered vocals to wonders to make it more enjoyable. The track does end on a final, heavy note fortunately enough.

Australia could soon be the next internationally recognised metal scene – Especially with Aeon of Horus pioneering it. “The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light” is an interesting album indeed. Though there are a few parts which aren’t enjoyable, the album is certainly a genius piece of work and clearly shows the potential of “Aeon Of Horus”. Be you a hardcore fan of death metal or just a casual listener, “The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light” is one album that you must listen to.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Disaster Plan – Disaster Plan EP [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 21st July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Disaster Plan
Album: Disaster Plan EP
Release year: 2010
Genre: Post-Hardcore

Australia is a nation best known for it’s poisonous spiders and kangaroos. Unbeknown to most people, there is a fast-growing hardcore scene within Australia and Adelaide-based Disaster Plan have been a part of said scene since mid-2010.

”Pestilence” begins with a heavy but slightly choppy intro, which is straight away a let-down for the listener. The vocals sound like a mixture of black metal and hardcore screams whilst the cleaner, less harsh vocals sound of key. There are some good melodic licks throughout the track and the drums are precise to the beat. Some of the guitar work is great in sections but overall choppy. Clearly there is clearly a lot of work that needs to be done to improve this track.

”The Shark Didn’t Bite Me, He Raped Me” starts with a more consistent, melodic intro section combined with the spoken words of “Game over”, which is a pretty cool effect. The screams sound more hardcore-orientated though the clean vocals still sound out of key. Most of the sections have a decent flow them to them though there are a few choppy sections that could do with improvement. The solo is quite unexpected yet it certainly makes up for the not-so-impressive guitar riffs earlier in the song. The only other issue with “The Shark Didn’t Bite Me, He Raped Me” is that it’s too long and this could be quite irritating and unentertaining for a casual listener of hardcore and post-hardcore.

The third track is “Love Lost At Sea”, beginning with a bass and drums introduction. Overall, this one isn’t particularly interesting or great. It seems to lack the heaviness, brutality and passion of the previous two tracks – Even though the riffs seem more consistent and flow better. The poorly composed introduction of “The Ramifications Of Skydiving Without A Parachute” follows after. The track does gradually improve, however. Both the screams and clean vocals sound and feel stronger, while the guitars and drums become more violent and barbaric whilst retaining a hint of intelligence.

The final track, also the bonus track, “Alcoholic” is different to the rest of the EP as it begins with a very soft intro and increases only by a bit in terms of heaviness. The guitars don’t seem to really work well with the screams on this track and in parts the drums sound to be drowned out by everything else. This track really just leaves the listener thinking “So what?”.

Disaster Plan’s self-titled EP is not impressive but it isn’t terribly bad either. It lays somewhere in the middle. Whilst some sections do need a considerable about of work other sections show that Disaster Plan have potential to become a household name in the international hardcore scene.

3/5

Nico Davidson

Forever And A Day – Last Orders [2011]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 19th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Forever And A Day
Album: Last Orders
Release year: 2011
Genre: Pop-Punk/Metalcore

Bridlington-based pop-core quintet Forever And A Day have slowly become a household name within the UK’s underground metalcore and pop-punk scenes over the past few years. They’ve shared the stage with the likes of Yashin, Shadows Chasing Ghosts and Vanna, as well as releasing a demo and a music video over the summer of 2010, the band recently returned to the studio for the recording and production of their newest release: “Last Orders”.

The title track “Last Orders” is the first track of the album, been composed of the sound of people drinking, chatting and the sound of a piano been played in the background whilst a bar fight takes place. “The Roads Ahead” begins with an average paced riff, which is soon accompanied by a second guitar, bass and drums. The track turns heavier, featuring some intelligent drum work and clean, pop-punk styled vocals. The song remains consistent and flows well into each different section. The screams bring about a great metalcore sound as well. The gang vocals are a great addition as well.

Following after is the aggressive and violent sound of “Heebeegeebees”. Straight away, the listener is bombarbed by an in your face metalcore anthem. The guitar riffs are masterfully composed and the drum work can only be described as immense. The breakdown is a great section, building up to the next section. The only down sound to this song is that it’s too short. “Can’t Spell Slut Without You” starts with a bass riff, leaving the listener to think “Something good is gonna happen soon”. Fortunately, something good does happen and that something is the increase of barbaric heaviness of the track. The screams are great and the guitar sections are sheer genius. The drums are certainly most impressive and the clean vocals seem stronger.

”We See Everything, So Play Nice” is the second to last track. The intro riff seems weaker compared to the previous tracks though this soon changed when the drums blast in to make themselves heard. The track has some clear pop-punk influences in terms of guitars and vocals, which blend well with the more metalcore and hardcore orientated drums. The last track is “You’re A Complicated Cat, Edward”, beginning with a very guitar-heavy intro. The track seems to lack the energy of the previous tracks though the vocals are still going strong. In parts, the drums sound more stronger than the guitars. However, the track does improve fortunately enough. The slow-paced, clean guitar section is certainly unexpected, yet weirdly is enjoyable but for those who don’t enjoy clean and soft guitar sections, the brutal-styled heaviness of the track soon returns.

Forever And A Day clearly know how to mix pop-punk and metalcore without ruining the sound. “Last Orders” is a must-have album by these young Yorkshire lads and Welsh drummer. The entire mini-album is evidence of the talent and passion that Forever And A Day have.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Forever and a Day will be touring the UK later in the year. For more information about this tour, please go to: http://www.facebook.com/foreverandadayuk

Tersivel – For One Pagan Brotherhood [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on 19th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Tersivel
Album: For One Pagan Brotherhood
Release year: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal/Pagan Metal

South America is well known for its vast metal scene and community which grows day by day with new bands appearing on the scene. Argentinian pagan metallers “Tersivel” have been a dominating force within this scene since forming in 2006. “For One Pagan Brotherhood” is the third studio release by Tersivel and their first full length album.

The album begins with the synth-guitar intro of “As Brothers We Shall Fight”. An aggressive guitar-double bass pedal combined riff follows after, creating a machine gun sound effect, which is well suited to the song due to the title. The vocals switch between brutal grunts and powerful clean vocals, both of which give the track more punch. The last half of the song seems to be calmer compared to the violent sounding first half, however, this does not take anything away from the music. The synth and keyboard sections certainly bring some very interesting parts as well. “As Brothers We Shall Fight” is a very sagaic song and brilliant choice to begin the album with.

”The Heathen Sun Of Revenge” begins with a true folk sounding intro in the form of clean vocals, folk instrumentation and acoustic guitars. The track eventually turns heavy but still keeps that good ol’ folk feel about it, which contrasts strangely well with the aggression of the guitars and drums. The clean vocals add a very solemn and sorrowful sound to the track. It ends with an epic synth section.

Straight after is “Far Away in the Distant Skies” with a very synth-heavy intro, though this doesn’t ruin the composition or sound of the song, as the synth leads into a violent guitar riff. The harsh vocals, in true folk metal style, are raw and aggressive while the cleaner vocals are strong but still have that raw edge to them. The drum work is intelligent yet barbaric, bring a new dynamic of brutality to the album. The piano medley in the second half of the song is a very calming section and emotionally touching at times. The guitar solo that soon follows is masterfully played.

”High Germany – Erin’s Jig” is another song that has a folk sound at the beginning. Though the dominating force of guitars, drums and synth soon replace the majestic folk-like intro. The folk and metal sections bounce off each other exceedingly well. The flute medleys complement the clean vocals, making the listener feel as if they’re back in pre-Christian Europe. Without a doubt, this is one of the more impressive tracks of the album – Which is saying a lot considering most, if not all, of the songs are impressive. “And Fires Also Died Away” begins with a darker sound compared to the grand, sagaic and folk sounding introductions of the other songs. The tempo eventually increases but the song stays solemn and dark.

”Those Days Are Gone” carries on the heartbroken feel of the previous song. This one is mostly acoustic guitar orientated with some subtle orchestration that blends well with the clean vocals.  Beginning the second half of the album is the accordion-dominated “Tarantella Siciliana” [Which is also the name of a folk dance in Sicily]. The song contains that “get up and party until you pass out” feel that conjures up images of happy villagers dancing around in celebration.

Beginning with a synth-guitar-drum intro, “We Are The Fading Sun” blasts its way next. A dark, heavy piano medley follows the intro and is soon replaced by a vicious, face-melting guitar riff. Vocally, the track is dominated by harsh vocals to begin with, though the clean vocals do get some pretty epic sections as well. The chorus, itself, is very catchy. There is a calm section roughly half way through which suddenly turns heavy dramatic within the blink of an eye. The use of keyboards and guitars towards the end is brilliant. “We Are The Fading The Sun” leaves the listener wanting more.

Fortunately enough, the listener gets more in the form of “Aeolian Islands”. Like some of the previous pieces on the album, “Aeolian Islands” is composed of acoustic guitar, along with some use of flutes. It certainly has a very folk feel to it. “Cosa Nostra” starts with a keyboard-heavy riff, which carries on through most of the track. The vocals, to begin with, sound out of key and do sort of ruin the music, however in the chorus, they do improve massively.

The second to last track is “Pagan Nation”, beginning with the sound of swords followed by an aggressive guitar section. The keyboard sections are grand, majestic and awesome. The drums and guitars are aggressive and brutal, as they should be. The vocals are immense, contrasting well with the music. Overall, the track is very sagaic. The final song is “Cruzat Beer House” [named after a pub in Buenos Aires, Argentina]. The intro is a slow, melodic piano medley which is soon accompanied by an acoustic guitar. The song soon begins to feel like a good ol’ fashioned drinking anthem with the introduction of the accordions. Even the vocals echo the sound of a good time to be had with beer. The fast and slow tempos of the song certainly add to it’s folky jig-like feel. This will certainly become a drinking song for folk metallers around the world.

”For One Pagan Brotherhood” seems different compared to other folk metal releases – Be it the lack of Viking/Celt-based lyrics or the use of accordions with a brilliant combination of clean and harsh vocals. Of course, it’s different in the good sense. This is certainly a monumental album and will no doubt be considered one of the greatest albums of folk metal in years to come.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

66crusher – Blackest Day [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 20th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: 66crusher
Album: Blackest Day
Release year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Thrash Metal

66crusher have been on the rise since the release of their debut album “in 2005. Since then they have been fighting their way to the top of the worldwide metal scene, gaining new fans each year. “Blackest Day” is the next step in their journey.

The title track, “Blackest Day”, is the first track of the album. It begins with a very thrash-influenced guitar riff whilst the drums are more laid back in comparison. The vocals are classic metal in their sound, standing out from the music – In an epic way. The vocals work well with the soft riff about half way through the track, giving the track a slight progressive edge. The track ends in true thrash metal style. “Recreated Destiny” has a slower, more emotional sounding introduction. Both the guitar riff and vocals are soft yet majestic, whilst touching a very deep emotional level not usually found in thrash metal. The track’s pace increases with the appearance of the drums, which again are quite laid back compared to the guitars. The vocals sound more powerful later on during in the track.

Following after is “Unsaid”. The intro is slow, heavy and dominating. The vocals, again, are soft to begin with, as is the piano medley that joins them. The drums slightly overpower the piano, which is somewhat disappointing. The track switches between light and heavy – Which is a nice emotional effect for the song. Next is “Concept of Elimination”, beginning with a choppy guitar section, which soon replaced by a more consistent, melodic guitar riff and an acute drum pattern. The vocals are strong, with a hint of a Judas Priest-sound. There is a good blend of progressive-sounding softer sections and heavier, savage thrash-styled riffs throughout the track, which makes up for it being almost ten minutes long.

”Recreated Reality” blasts next with an immense riff of violent proportions. The drums are barbaric yet precise to the beat. The vocals are still going strong, keeping the track interesting. Some of the riffs leave much to be desired though it is mostly a decent track. “Borderline” is another track that begins with a choppy riff, which can be off-putting for new listeners and just seems to drone on for the first few minutes. Another issue with the track is the length of it – Just over twelve minutes – Which again, can be off-putting for new listeners. The other riffs are well composed and sound great, as do the vocals and drums.

Nearing the end of the album comes “Shipwrecked”. Like some of the other tracks, the intro riff is soft and melodic, though it is short lived. The heavier riff certainly brings more excellence to the track though the drums are lacking in comparison. The vocals seem deeper yet more defined. They seem suitably combined with the acoustic riff. One thing that stands out the most about this track is the emphasis on the acoustic riffs, though the heavier riffs do play an important part of the track. “Shipwrecked” is certainly the best track of the album.

”Diminished Mind” starts with a mediocre sounding riff, which is a let down compared to the previous track. The vocals seem weaker as well and the drums also are lacking in power. The track does improve later on however, with some very Megadeth-styled riffs. “Us Beneath The Sea” is the final track of the album. Like some of the previous tracks, its intro is a soft riff, as are the vocals and drums. The riffs later become more wild west-sounding for a short while but they stay soft for the majority track, making for a good chill out track after eight brutalising tracks. The guitar solo towards the end does make the track slightly heavier though not by much.

”Blackest Days” features a strange yet wonderful mixture of progressive metal and thrash metal combined with some old skool sounds. 66crusher have certainly out-done themselves with this album, though there are some sections that could have done with more work.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Sulphur – Thorns In Existence [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 19th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Sulphur
Album: Thorns in Existence
Release year: 2011
Genre: Blackened Death Metal

Sulphur, who formed from the ashes of nineties black metal band “Taakeriket” and are made up of ex-members of Gorgoroth, Aeternus and Enslaved, have been a fierce, dominating force to be reckoned with in the Norwegian metal scene. Following a few years of laying dormant, Sulphur are back and fiercer than ever with “Thorns In Existence”.

”Revelations” begins with an eerie yet cheesy keyboard introduction, the kind that would be heard in a low-budget horror film. The guitars and drums, while greatly composed, are lighter and more melodic than expected. “True Father Of Lies” follows after, continuing from where “Revelations” finished. The guitars are less melodic and focus more on violent riffs, whilst the drums favour an aggressive approach as well. The vocals are ruthless and unrelenting, keeping the track beastly and heavy. A huge improvement from the first track “Revelations”, though the keyboard section on this track has a hint of cheesiness.

“The Purifying Flame” begins with a very creepy set of sound effects which are soon replaced by ferocious guitar riff and a brutalising drum pattern. The vocals, again are ruthless sounding, unrelenting in their aggression throughout most of the track. The strained whisper-like vocals combined with the slow guitar riff bring a new dynamic to the track. The guitar solo is most impressive, blending well with the stream of double bass pedal. The next track, “Hunting Sickening Seas” starts with a slow, brutalising and shockingly good intro. The vocals have more of a death element which mixes in well with the slow intro. There is a use of clean vocals on the track which gives it more a creepy sound. The acoustic section about half way through the track is a surprise yet a welcome break in between the storm of guitars, vocals and drums.

“Luna Noctiluca” follows after with a slow-paced, brutal and melodic guitar and drums section. The tempo increases with the introduction of the vocals. There is a contrast of clean vocals and screams, which works well with the music. The guitar solo is certainly a highlight of the track and perhaps one of the most enjoyable things about the album. “Into Nothingness” fades its way next. Even after the faded intro, the track seems weak and soft. In some sections, the vocals sound odd and the drums are semi-audible. in the same way it began, it fades out, making way for “Inverted Visions of Eternal Salvation”. It begins with a half-muted intro which soon turns beasty and aggressive. The drum work is intelligent, whilst the guitars are masterfully played and composed. The vocals are still going strong, working well with the synth sections. The track ends on a very creepy note.

“Ravner Beiter I Banesår”, which roughly translated means “Ravens pastures in his death-wounds”, blasts its way next, turning up the level of violence and brutality. The vocals are more slow-paced compared to the guitars and drums, though just as beastly and savage. There are some melodic riff use in one or two sections of the track, which is a pleaser for those who prefer melody over brutality. The track ends with a dramatic symphonic section. “Throne of Illusion” is the second to last track, beginning with a ghastly synth riff, similar to one found in a previous track. The guitars and drums that follow are nothing short of violent, savage and barbaric. The vocals have the bloodthirsty sound to them, as is to be expected. The breakdown towards the end is extremely unexpected however brings a whole new level to both the track and the album.

“A Crimson Line” is the final track of the album. The introductory riff is similar to one found on a Lamb of God album, only with more bite. The brutality and melody contrasts and blends brilliantly and the vocals are still going stronger, perhaps stronger than what they have been for the rest of the album. The use of keyboards and drums only on part of the track is just pure genius. “A Crimson Line” is certainly one of the best tracks on the album.

It’s easy to see why Sulphur have been a dominating force in the Norwegian metal scene. “Thorns In Existence” combines the best of black metal and death metal and mixed in a vast amount of musical genius and talent. This is certainly one of the best albums to come out of Norway since the early days of the Norwegian black metal scene.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Nordagust – In The Mist Of Morning [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on 18th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Nordagust
Album: In The Mist Of Morning
Release year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Rock

Musically, Norway is known for its infamous black metal scene, however there are some rising stars in the other music scenes of Norway and one of those rising stars are the progressive rock band known as “Nordagust”, whom take their name from the mythological spirit of the North wind. Their most recent release is “In The Mist Of Morning”.

The title track, “In The Mist Of Morning” is the first track of the album beginning with a gentle keyboard intro which is gradually accompanied by a slow paced guitar riff. The drums gently join in at the same time as the guitar. The vocals are soft yet powerful, blending well with the music. The keyboard sections add a very calming yet eerie atmospheric feel whilst the guitar riffs are very melodic. This track conjures up images of a mist hanging around the mountain ranges of Norway and along the coast. One couldn’t ask for a better track to begin the album.
“Expectations” is the second track, carrying on the eerie atmosphere created by the keyboard sections. Again, the vocals are soft yet powerful whilst the guitars are, again, melodic and are heavier and more rocky than the previous track in some sections. The drums seem to have more of a part on this track as well. The track is beautifully and well composed. Next is “Mysterious Ways”, beginning with a dark and terrifying keyboard section mixed with some strange sounds. The guitar riffs are slow but strong and melodic in some sections. However, the drums are the thing that stand out most about this track as they match up to the guitar riffs for strength and power. “Mysterious Ways” certainly sets a mystifying atmosphere and feeling.

”In The Woods” begins with the intelligently combined sound of running water and a slow guitar riff, setting a calm mood. The riff is masterfully composed and played. The keyboard section brings a more dramatic sound to the track, making ever more enjoyable to listen to. The only downside to this track is the lack of bass, vocals and drums. “Elegy” seems to carry on from where “In The Woods” finishes. The guitars are soft yet sorrowful, whilst the drums are too light, almost been fully overpowered by the guitar riffs in some sections though they do increase in power and strength is other sections of the track. The vocals, however, make up for the lightly played drum sections, bringing a new level of power to the track. The keyboard sections are brilliant.

“Forcing” is one of the more aggressive sounding tracks of the album. The riffs seem to have more bite than the previous tracks whilst maintaining their melodic flair. The drums and keyboards virtually match the guitar riffs for power, strength and heaviness. The lack of vocals on this track is disappointing but nevertheless it is still an immense track. The next track is “Frozen” which seems to continue on from “Forcing”. The keyboard sections seem to dominate this track for the first minute. The vocals contrast well with the guitar and keyboard sections, while the drums beautifully switch from light to heavy throughout the track, making it more interesting.

“The Tide” begins with a very synth/keyboard orientated intro which is soon accompanied by a wonderful guitar section. The vocals work well with the keyboard sections. The drums are masterfully played throughout the track. The second to last track, “Make Me Believe”, begins with a very dramatic and tense keyboard section. The guitar riff that follows adds a certain brilliance to the track. The vocals are still going strong. The track has some very powerful sections, which contrast greatly with the more lighter sections. The final track of the album is “Elegy Epilogue”. The intro is very atmospheric, whilst the piano section is very calm and soothing. It is a beautiful end to a great album.

”In The Mist Of Morning” is a testament to the talent and musical genius of “Nordagust”. The album is very atmospheric and melodic and captures the very soul of Norway while at the same time retains the progressive rock sound. This is a great addition to any progressive rock fan’s collection.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Rhapsody Of Fire – From Chaos To Eternity [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Rhapsody Of Fire
Album: From Chaos To Eternity
Release year: 2011
Genre: Power Metal/Symphonic Metal

Rhapsody Of Fire have been a dominating force in both the Italian and European metal scenes. “From Chaos To Eternity” is the last album based on the fantasy saga that started with the band’s 1997 debut album “Legendary Tales” and is the first album to feature the band’s newest member Tom Hess.

The short lived track “Ad Infinitum” , which is Latin for “Endlessly”, is the first track of “From Chaos To Eternity”. The track is mainly composed of the technical guitar work of Luca Turilli combined with the epic narration of Christopher Lee. It is a brilliant opener for the album in true Rhapsody fashion. The title track, “From Chaos To Eternity” carries on from where “Ad Infinitum” finishes.  The track is already at a good start with the acute riffs and epic sounding piano sections. Fabio’s vocals are stronger than ever, the drums are masterfully played and the bass sections are pure genius. The third track, Tempesta Di Fuoco, which roughly translated means “Firestorm” in Italian, shreds its way next with a fast paced, technical intro riff mixed with some epic symphonic sections. There is use of some acoustic sections which brings a certain calm to the track whilst the piano only section takes away something from the track.

“Ghosts Of Forgotten Worlds” like the previous tracks, starts fast paced and technical, though some of the guitar sections on this track seem to have more bite and aggression.  The vocals blend well with the acoustic sections. The symphonic sections contrast superbly with the violent sound of the track. Even the drums seem to have more punch. The synth and guitar solos make this track one of the best ones on the album. “Anima Perduta”, Italian for “Lost Soul”, begins with the sound of wind followed by a beautiful combination of piano, flute and harpsichord. The vocals are soothing, blending with the solemn atmosphere and sound of the track. The symphonic sections make the track more majestic sounding. The guitars sound as if they don’t belong on the track however. Next is “Aeons Of Raging Darkness”. The introduction is mightily played bass section followed by an epic guitar riff mixed with a sagaic symphonic section. The guitar sections have more a speed metal element to them whilst the piano medleys add a hint of neoclassical to the track. The vocals, to begin with, are raw, aggressive and brutal, blending exceedingly well with the cleaner, operatic vocals. “Aeons Of Raging Darkness” is certainly one of the most aggressive, violent tracks ever to be performed by Rhapsody Of Fire and its a sound that works well for them.

“I Belong To The Stars” begins with a calmer introduction compared to the previous track though the track does soon turn heavy and symphonic. There seems to be more emphasis on the choir and symphony on this track, mixed in with some great piano medleys and strong vocals. Some of the guitar riffs leave much to be desired, as do some of the drum sections, however, the synth solo makes up for it. “Tornado” begins with a dramatic intro and the guitar riffs that follow are great. Like “Aeons Of Raging Darkness”, this track has a very aggressive and violent sound, complete with more harsh black metal screams mixed with the cleaner, more operatic vocals. The drum and guitar sections have improved since the previous track as well.

The last of the album is the almost twenty minute long epic “Heroes Of The Waterfalls’ Kingdom”. Christopher Lee’s narration is the intro, setting a certain legendary atmosphere. The vocals bring a very medieval sound, whilst the slight use of flute works well with the acoustic guitar.  The violin sections are well composed, making the track that much more pleasant to listen to. The symphonic sections signal the approaching metal assault, which was to be expected eventually. Fabio demonstrates his full range on this track, whilst the riffs are more acute and technical than they have been on the album. The harsh vocals can be heard in parts of this track, giving it more bite. The choir sections do seem to ruin the track ever so slightly, however everything else makes up for that. Some of the other guitar sections are more aggressive and barbaric, clearly demonstrating the masterful skills of the guitarists. Christopher Lee’s narration can be heard half way through the track, making it more and more sagaic. There is a conversation between the characters of the saga, which helps bring about a very legend-like feel, especially as it works well with the guitar riffs and symphonic sections. The track ends very solemnly and grandly. A perfect end to the saga.

“From Chaos To Eternity” fully demonstrates how much Rhapsody Of Fire’s sound has changed and mature since their first album. This album is perhaps the best one they’ve written and probably will be the best for a long to come. This is certainly a jewel to have for any fan of symphonic and power metal.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Euphoreon – Euphoreon [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Euphoreon
Album: Euphoreon
Release year: 2011
Genre: Death Metal

“Euphoreon” is the self-titled debut album of two piece German-New Zealander death metal project “Euphoreon”. The band originally started as a solo project formed by Matt Summerville from New Zealand. “Euphoreon” have been described as having influences of European and Scandinavian metal with “melodic hooks” and “harsh vocals”.

The first track of the album is the optimistically named “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining”. The intro riff is very solemn and turns melodic with the introduction of a more technical riff. Soon after, the track increases its pace as the drums join in. The guitar riff brings a more uplifting sound to the track, along with the use of synths. The vocals are harsh and aggressive. The most impressive thing about this track would have to be the intelligent composition of the guitar riffs and the the guitar solo, whilst having a power metal element to it, is mind blowing. Already, “Eurphoreon” is proving to be masterpiece.

”Before The Blackened Sky” is the second track of the album, beginning with a fast, brutal and melodic riff combined with some technical drum work. The synth sections are similar to that of a Children Of Bodom track. The guitar riffs can only be described as face melting brutality. The vocals make for some impressive sections, such as the whispered styled screams and the clean vocals. The third track, “Forever Being”, has an amazing piano medley for an introduction. The track only gets better when the guitars make their appearance. Their is another use of clean vocals on this track, which gives it more of a symphonic power metal feel, however the harsher vocals can be heard on this track as well. This track seems to be more keyboard dominated, though the guitar riffs are heavy and brutal, which is enough to keep the listener happy.

Next is “Eleventh Heaven” which begins with a calm acoustic riff combined with the light tapping of the hi-hat and a piano medley. The introduction of the electric guitar riff makes it seem like this is going to be a ballad-type of song, however the drums soon say otherwise when they turn more fast paced and brutal. A more aggressive guitar riff soon follows with a more epic synth section and brutal vocals. Just over half way through, the track soon turns slow and calm again with some clean vocals been featured. However, it is only the calm before the onslaught of a melodic solo. This is certainly one of the best tracks on the album. “Where Dead Skies Dwell” blasts its way next, sounding more darker than the previous tracks, which seems only fitting considering the song title. The riffs are more aggressive and the drums are more heavy as well. When the vocals seem to be more hostile. One of the more impressive sections of this track would certainly be the guitar solo.

A calm and soothing piano medley introduces “From The Netherworld”, setting a very solemn atmosphere. The solemn atmosphere is dispersed when a heavy but melodic riff rings out, increasing the tempo of the track. The drums are masterfully composed and played on this track and the vocals are more warlike. The second to last track is “Starnight Rider”. The intro is acoustic, which in a way is fitting for the track though the brutality and aggression of the track soon dominate. This is certainly one of the more fast paced tracks on the album, which makes it that much more enjoyable. There is a use of keyboards and orchestration in parts of the track, making for a very dramatic sound. It ends on a very solemn note. The last track, “Road To Redemption”, starts with a strange sounding organ intro, which seems to take away from the brilliance of the album so far. Thankfully the guitars soon replace it, with a military styled drum pattern. The riffs are extremely melodic and the vocals are as aggressive as they can get, it seems. The keyboard sections are beautifully composed. Cleans vocals can be heard as well, about half through alongside the organ medleys. The track comes to a brilliant and epic end.

”Euphoreon” have proved themselves to be quite the musical genius’ with their debut album “Euphoreon”. It has everything a metal fan could ask for, riffs with aggression and melody, technical and intelligent drum work, epic synth and keyboard sections and great vocals. New Zealand isn’t known for its metal scene, however, “Euphoreon” have the potential to make the New Zealand metal scene world famous if they carry on releasing masterpieces like this.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Theatres Des Vampires – Moonlight Waltz [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Theatres Des Vampires
Album: Moonlight Waltz
Release year: 2011
Genre: Gothic Metal/Vampire Metal

Italian Gothic Metal quintet “Theatres Des Vampires” are back with their newest studio release “Moonlight Waltz” which features an array of guests including Snowy Shaw [Therion], Cadaveria [Opera IX] and Marco Benevento [The Foreshadowing].

The eerie keyboard intro of “Keeper Of Secrets” begins the album, which is soon accompanied by Sonya’s vocals and a dark strings section. The track increases in pace and heaviness with the introduction of the guitars and drums. Sonya’s vocals sound very hypnotic and grim. Snowy’s vocals bring an extra touch of Gothic feeling to the track. The keyboard sections are brilliantly composed. This track certainly keeps the attention of the listener, making for an immense intro track. “Fly Away” is the second track of the album. The intro has a very symphonic metal sound, due to the combination of melodic guitar riffs and keyboards. As can be expected of any TDV track, the vocals bring a certain eeriness to the music. The keyboard sections bring a very dramatic sound to the track, whilst the guitar riffs keep the metal element of the track alive. The drums seem lighter compared to the previous track however.

The title track, “Moonlight Waltz” is next beginning with a soothing piano and strings introduction. When the vocals and drums occur, the track begins to sound like a ballad, adding a very unique touch to the album. The soft guitar riffs are beautifully composed, allowing this track to live up to it’s title. The acoustic guitar towards the end of the track brings it to a wonderful yet sorrowful finish. The fourth track, “Carmilla” takes its name from the short story of a lesbian vampire by the same name written by “Sheridan Le Fanu”. The first section of the track sounds epic and dramatic. The vocals add to the dramatic effect of the track, while the guitars keep a raw energy flowing through the track. The strings solo is unexpected but makes this track so much more enjoyable. This track has certainly added a new level of beauty to the already great story of Carmilla. Next is “Sangue”, beginning with a synth intro which is soon joined by an aggressive riff. The vocals sound very ghastly and the drums sound powerful. The male vocals add another element of aggression to the track, sounding almost like death metal grunts.

The cover of Mecano’s “Figlio della Luna”, follows after composed mainly of keyboards, strings and vocals. Sonya’s vocals sound amazing alongside the keyboards. The use of guitars and drums adds a very TDV sound to this cover. Next is “Black Madonna”, beginning with hypnotic, almost-siren like vocals and an acoustic riff. About half a minute in, the track turns heavier and more symphonic. The use of acoustic guitars is quite frequent throughout the track, making it one of the more lighter tracks of the album. The keyboard sections are outstanding. “Illusion” is next, with a simple yet beautiful keyboard intro. The keyboard medley turns more melodic when the drums begin to be played, which work well with the keyboard. The guitars soon make themselves heard, bringing a more rockier sound to the track. The guitar riff gradually becomes heavier for a while before stopping for a short break before returning with an epic solo.

“Le Grand Guignol” featuring Cadaveria is next already bring the level of heaviness up a notch. The use of screams improves the track, whilst the drum work is intelligently composed. There are some obvious industrial elements and influences which can be heard on this track, just like with some of the previous tracks. “Obsession” is next. The intro is very industrial sounding,. Like the intro, the vocals and drums have an industrial sound to them, which work strangely well with the string sections. There is a use of operatic styled vocals as well which makes the track more dramatic and intense. The only down side to this track is the lack of guitars. The second to last track, “The Gates Of Hades” is next, which like some of the previous tracks begins very eerily though the guitars soon remedy this alongside the string sections. There seems to be more emphasis on the keyboard medleys on this track, whilst not a bad thing, it may not be approved of by some. There is a slight use of Latin lyrics on this track as well, bringing a very Gothic atmosphere with them. The final track “Medousa” begins with a slight industrial sound, combined with some creepy whispered vocals. The guitars and keyboards can soon be heard. The guitars and drums are intelligently composed on this track, combining both heaviness and brilliant musicianship. There is a brutal use of double bass drums on the track, which makes it a perfect end to a brilliant album. The keyboard sections certainly bring a calm to the storm of metal that is heard on this final track, especially with the outro medley.

With a mixture of symphonic, Gothic and industrial elements, this is certainly a most enjoyable album. Everything seems to fit together so well and it’s good to see that Sonya’s vocals are still on top form. This is a must have album for old and new Theatres Des Vampires fans alike. One can only wonder how they will top this album.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Alestorm – Back Through Time [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Alestorm
Album: Back Through Time
Release year: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal/Power Metal/Pirate Metal

“Back Through Time” is the latest chapter in the legacy of Scottish pirates “Alestorm”.  It was released through Napalm Records earlier this month.

Beginning with the title track “Back Through Time”, this album already begins to sound promising. The track starts with the sound of waves followed by a pirate warning his captain of Vikings approaching. The track is then dominated by a fast paced drum section which is soon accompanied by a power metal-influenced keytar riff combined with an aggressive guitar riff. The track soon turns into a typical Alestorm track. The vocals retain their rough sound from previous Alestorm releases, giving this track a very piratey feel. The guitar solo is very hypnotic and old-skool sounding while the keytar solo brings more of a folk metal element to this track. “Back Through Time” has proven itself to be a worthy choice as he opening track of the album.

The second track is “Shipwrecked”. Its intro riff has a very raw sound to it, which is soon overpowered by the intelligent keytar riffs. The vocals are strong, keeping that pirate touch. However, the thing that stands out the most about this track are the drums as they seem to have more power than the guitar and bass and are virtually as loud as the keytar riffs. The next track is “The Sunk’n Norwegian” which begins with a very Celtic styled riff. The vocals sound more raw and aggressive, whilst the keytars have taken on more of an epic power metal sound. The guitar riffs seem more simplistic but heavier compared to the previous track. The bass work has improved since the previous track as well.

“Midget Saw” is the fourth track of the album, beginning with a more folkish keytar riff. The guitars and drums dominate this track in terms of aggression and heaviness whilst the keytar riffs bring some immense melodies. The bass sections are the most impressive thing on this track however, followed of course by the brilliantly composed guitar solo. Blasting its way next is “Buckfast Powersmash” which certainly does live up to its name with a fast paced, aggressive guitar intro. A keytar riff eventually joins it, bringing that folk sound to the track. However, the impressiveness of this track soon dies out. “Scraping The Barrel” comes next, bringing a very calm Celtic sound before the guitars and drums blast their way in. This track has a very solemn sound yet there’s a little bit of humour to found in this track as some of the lyrics have a very straight forward stab at the Alestorm haters. The guitar solo has a majestic touch to it, which pretty much completes this track.

The next track, titled “Rum”, starts with a very thrash styled riff before the keytars bring a piratey sound. This track has the potential to become a modern day drinking song, likely to be heard in pubs all around the world. “Swashbuckled”  blasts its way next with a combination of keytars and double bass pedals. The guitars bring the metal element to this track, whilst the vocals add an aggressive touch to the track. Despite been slow paced compared to some of the other tracks, this is one of the best tracks on the album, which is proven by the masterfully played guitar solo. “Rumpelkombo” speeds its way next in the space of six seconds, leading straight into the next track “Barrett’s Privateers”, which is originally performed by Stan Rogers. Alestorm have virtually made this track one of their own with their unique pirate sound.

“Death Throes of the Terrorsquid is next, featuring Ken Sorceron of Abigail Williams. The track begins with a very power metal sounding keytar intro riff which is soon accompanied by an immense and melodic guitar riff. The vocals seem to have much more power than the previous tracks. Some sections of this track seem poorly composed but overall the vast majority of it has been soulfully written for an extremely epic sound. Ken’s vocals bring a very black metal sound to the track, especially as the music turns dramatic. While this is an unusual sound for Alestorm it works brilliantly well!

The next track, a bonus track and a Wurzels cover all in one, is next in the form of “I Am A Cider Drinker”. Its intro sounds like an Irish jig while the vocals make it sound like a drinking song. This is a most suitable track for the album and one can only imagine Strongbow drinkers all around singing along to this. The last track of the album is a cover of Lazy Town’s “You Are A Pirate”. Surprisingly it sounds great. It certainly has a very piratey feel and is clearly superior to the original version. The only downside to it is that it’s too short.

Alestorm have proven themselves to still be ready to crank out the pirate metal with “Back Through Time”. Despite a few not so good parts of the album, it is a jewel in the folk metal scene. So, kick back and enjoy a shot of rum or bottle of cider with “Back Through Time”. It’s certainly worth it.

4/5

Nico Davidson