Archive for Hard rock

Vandallus – Outbreak

Posted in Metal, Rock with tags , , on 8th December 2019 by izaforestspirit

Vandallus
Outbreak
Released 12 December 2019
Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Released via Mercinary Records


’Outbreak’ is the latest album from the American hard rock band Vandallus. The band has been around since 2015 and it features several members from the power metal group Eternal Legacy. This is my first encounter with Vandallus so I had no idea of what to expect. The amusing looking cover art would suggest anything from heavy metal to sleaze rock via classic rock. Well, there is only one way to find out…

If hard rock is your thing, you are in for a treat. There is a lot to like on here; from the catchy vocals, memorable choruses to the well timed and skillfully executed guitar harmonies. I particularly enjoyed the playful guitar tunes on Not Alone. It sounds very uplifting and puts the listener in a good mood. Then there is the slightly slower, melodic Bang The City Down– another enjoyable hard rock tune and Shotgun Lady with a catchy chorus and good, bluesy guitar work. Once again the guys sound like that they are having a good time in the studio.

Many of the songs sound like they been inspired by old school hard rock from the 80s. As far as the structure goes, this album is pretty straightforward and it is fairly easy to get into. Like the guy on the front cover, sometimes you just need to sit back and enjoy the ride. Motorbikes are not really my thing but I do like hard rock and heavy metal.

Overall, I quite enjoyed listening to ‘Outbreak’. It is definitely one of the more memorable hard rock albums I have heard this year.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Metallica live in Hämeenlinna

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , on 17th July 2019 by izaforestspirit

Bokassa, Ghost, Metallica
Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto, Hämeenlinna, Finland
16th July 2019

Metallica, it’s been a while… The last time I was at a Metallica show was back in 2007 when I still lived in The U.K. They were and, in many ways, still are one of my favourite bands. I have always hoped that some day I will get to see them live again and this year I finally got that opportunity. This was one of the main events that I was looking forward to. This time the venue was Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto (Kantola Event Park) near the city centre of Hämeenlinna. I do not normally travel to Hämeenlinna and this was my very first time at the venue so I planned my trip well in advance.

Everything went as planned. The one thing that I cannot predict too well however is the weather. It was sunny when I arrived, then there was some heavy rain and thunder just I approached to the entrance. Luckily it did not last long and it had mostly cleared up by the time Bokassa took to the stage. I’m not really into stoner-punk but I have to admit that they were entertaining to watch. It was far more energetic than your average stoner rock, so not a bad start to the night. 3/5

I never really understood the hype surrounding the Swedish hard rock band Ghost. I keep hearing their songs on the radio and seeing their videos on Youtube. Yet I find it hard to fathom why they are so well regarded. I mean if you ignore the elaborate outfits and the imagery, the music itself is good but nothing ground-breaking. This was the first time that I have seen them live and I actually liked the performance. Their singer, Cardinal Copia, as he now calls himself, has a very charismatic stage presence. 4/5

Then it was time for the main event. The Metallica show was absolutely spectacular. They played most of the classic hits including: ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘One’, For Whom The Bell Tolls’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’, ‘Seek and Destroy’. The set also featured some songs from the mid-career period and several from the latest release ‘Hardwired to Self-Destruct’. There was pyrotechnics, lots of visual displays and even fireworks at the end. One of my favourite moments was the Rob and Kirk guitar medley when the performed a cover a Finnish rock classic – Popeda’s ‘Kuuma Kesä’. I could have done without ‘Frantic’ from the dreaded ‘St. Anger’ album and perhaps played more songs from ‘Death Magnetic’ instead, but that is the only extremely minor fault with what was otherwise a flawless performance. 6/5

Overall, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to see Metallica live again. Twelve years is a very long time to wait but it was totally worth it. The show was an experience that I will cherish for many years to come.

Iza Raittila

King Zebra – King Zebra EP

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , on 6th May 2019 by mickbirchy

King Zebra

King Zebra EP

Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Released: 22 March 2019

Self Released

Right from the first notes of this EP, I knew I was going to like this one. I mean, this is the sound I grew up on, pure hard rock with lots of energy and pep. Swiss hard rockers, King Zebra have been tearing up the European rock scene as of late. Opening for awesome bands like The Dead Daisies, The New Roses and Crystal Ball just to name a few. Armed with their new lead vocalist Eric St Michaels (formally of the band China) and this new self-titled EP, they are setting out to conquer. The EP can really be divided into two pieces, firstly the three songs they released last year and the two new songs they’ve released for this EP. Putting it all together makes for an enjoyable listening experience.

The one thing I will say about this EP is that it has a lot of energy. I mean, it’s the kind of music that makes you want to get up and move. The guitar work is fast and loose and the rhythm sections are tight. The grooves are excellent and the riffs really land a hit every time they come in. The band just feel like a forceful presence at all times. Eric St Michaels is a great vocalist and he sounds amazing here. He’s mixed in really well to the tunes. His vocal performance is really impressive, with a powerful voice and a tonne of charisma he’s able to keep you invested in the songs and adds that extra punch to the hooks. The production is great and easy for any listener to get into and enjoy.

There really isn’t anything to say beyond this. I mean, if you like your 80’s glam rock then this will definitely fill a hole for new material to listen to. It’s an entertaining listen, to say the least. With songs about the general rock topics and production that’s clean enough to get a general audience but edgy enough that rock fan won’t turn it off either. I like the EP, it’s not my favourite release of the year, as good as it sounds and as fun as it is to listen to, it’s just an okay release. Not bad but not something that I have to listen to again and again. It will be one of those EP’s where if it’s on I’ll keep listening but not one I will go out of my way to listen to.

2.5/5

Mick Birchall

Tara Lynch – Evil Enough

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , on 10th April 2019 by izaforestspirit

Tara Lynch
Evil Enough
Released 1st March 2019
Heavy Metal/Hard Rock
Released via Cargo Records

Image result for tara lynch evil enough

Evil Enough’ is the debut album from the American heavy metal singer and multi-instrumentalist Tara Lynch. The album features several guest performances from a wide variety of metal and rock musicians including the following: Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath), Phil Soussan (Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol), Glen Sobel (Alice Cooper) and many others.

This is a very guitar-focused album. As far as the genres go, I would call this classic heavy metal with hints of hard rock. Most of the songs feature great guitar work and each of the guest musicians is given a chance to shine. Yet the real star here is of course Tara Lynch herself. I can see how she earned the nickname “Gui-Tara!”. Her guitar skills are nothing short of impressive and she has a good voice too. Her vocal style reminded me a little of Doro Pesch.

Antidote caught my attention due to powerful vocals and excellent guitar work. It also acts as a means to showcase Tara Lynch’s vocal range. There is a lot of emotion audible in her vocal performance which is great to hear. It’s pretty clear why this song was chosen as the first single from the album. Kringeworthy, one of the more melodic songs on here, also deserves a mention. It starts off slow, melodic and ballad-like before picking up the pace towards the end. Once again the guitar work is impeccable and the vocals work well with the music. Then there are the instrumental Gui-Tara Rises and Enigmatic being the most guitar-centered tracks on here with no shortage of memorable riffs and solos.

Overall, there is a lot to like on ‘Evil Enough’ especially if you are a fan of guitar-focused heavy metal. I think that hard rock fans will enjoy it too.

4/5

Iza Raittila



The Raven Age – Conspiracy

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , on 27th March 2019 by Paul Macmillan

The Raven Age

Conspiracy

Hard rock/metal

Released March 8th 2019

Self-released

This is an interesting release for one major reason; it doesn’t fit neatly into a specific sub-genre of either rock or metal. Kicking off with an orchestral piece, which comes across like a meandering fantasy adventure film soundtrack, could easily give you a false impression of what follows on Conspiracy. This is, however, the second long-player from Londoners, The Raven Age, so if you’re familiar with predecessor, Darkness Will Rise, you might be more prepared than others. Regardless, they are still a difficult prospect to pigeonhole.

Whatever they are, it seems to be working for them. Their mass-appeal, melodic metal has already received rave reviews from Kerrang, Metal Hammer, and Powerplay magazines, to name a few of the bigger hitters. It’s easy to see why. These accessible tunes come from the shared house of Disturbed, Killswitch Engage, and, maybe at the rough edges, In Flames. There’s certainly a large, existing market for that.

While there are immediate metal tinges, this release leans more to the classic end of that spectrum much of the time, overlapping into old-school hard rock, despite the overall contemporary feel. The clean, powerful singing throughout is one of the stand-out features to represent that. Heck, I think they might have even half-borrowed a vocal melody from Phil Collins’ Land Of Confusion at one point. It’s catchy and effective, and one of the most memorable parts of their sound.

Perhaps one of the reasons this band are currently picking up so much speed, and in just a few years a few years of existence, is that not many others are currently taking this approach. If you like your heavy not so heavy, this might just tickle your fancy. However, if something more extreme is your go-to, it ain’t gonna tick your boxes. Either way, it’s worth a spin, just to find out.

3.5/5

Paul Macmillan

Alestorm live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on 4th March 2019 by izaforestspirit

Bootyard Bandits, Skálmöld, Alestorm
Klubi, Tampere, Finland
3rd March 2019

Alestorm… It’s been a while. Nine years to be exact. The last time I saw these guys live was in 2010 when they supported Sabaton. I was also at their show at Wacken Open Air in 2008. They have always been one of those bands that I enjoy watching live but I have never actually listened to any of their albums in full. I might play the odd song or video but that is all. They are a party band that is fun to watch live while enjoying a nice cold beer. This was their first headlining show in Finland and it was sold out.

First up was a British band called Bootyard Bandits. These guys clearly like all things Wild West ranging from cowboy hats, country music to banjos. I’m not sure how to describe their style – “comedy country rock?”, hard rock…They were definitely fun to watch. I especially enjoyed the heavy metal banjo solo featuring a cover of AC DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ and other hard rock classics. 4/5

Next up was an Icelandic Viking folk metal band called Skálmöld. Their show was a bit more serious but still good. They sound like a mixture of Týr and Falkenbach. All their songs are in their native Icelandic. Good vocals and some of the songs were catchy but I could have done without the Týr-style progressive guitar parts. 3.5/5

Then it was time for the headliners. When Alestorm took to the stage I found myself on the edge of a mosh-pit. The crowd really went wild during the show. There was everything from the usual head-banging, air guitar to rowing inside the mosh-pit during one of the slow songs. The Scottish pirates played some new material including ‘Mexico’ along with some old hits such as ‘‘Keelhauled’, Captain Morgan’s Revenge’, ‘Drink’ and a cover of ‘Wolves of The Sea’. 5/5

 

In summary I had a great time and I enjoyed all of the performances. Bootyard Bandits were better than I expected. Skálmöld had a few memorable moments. Alestorm were entertaining as always. Pirate metal is fun to watch, just do not take it too seriously.

Iza Raittila

Corroded – Bitter

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 12th January 2019 by mickbirchy

Corroded

Bitter

Heavy Metal, Groove Metal

Released: 25th January 2019

via Despotz Records

After reforming in 2017 for the album Defcon Zero, an album that was created due to their frustrations with label executives. Swedish heavy-metallers, Corroded decided to keep the music coming out of this revitalised passion. Which leads us to this years album, Bitter. I have to say, I’m really liking this band ever since they’ve come back from hiatus. There’s really something so honest in their music since the 5-year break. Bitter continues this with everything here being presented with passion whilst also being really accessible to new listeners. I always say “every new album is a new chance to inspire new fans” and yeah it seems Corroded are going out of their way to entice a new following without betraying the older fans. It’s a delicate balance but I think they’ve nailed it.

This album starts with an atmospheric intro piece before kicking right into the riffs, which are awesome. The riffs are filled with bass and feel so weighty. The grooves they create on this record are fresh and you can tell how much time and effort went into the writing and recording. Every song just leaps out of the speakers and keeps you listening sense intoxicated until the very end. The precision guitar and excellent drum work are awesome on their own but coupled with the vocal performance it really is a treat for the ears. Vocalist, Jens Westin sings everything with such conviction you can’t help but try to relate to the lyrics and sing along with him.

There are just some excellent tunes that stick in your head long after the record is over. One of my favourite songs here is “Testament”. With its excellent groove, the anthemic chorus, blistering guitar solo and just overall fun appeal. It’s a song that really stuck with me. Another song that I really like is “Black” a wonderfully sombre tune but still injected with life thanks in part to the wonderfully arranged production. This album does just really run the gambit of emotional tone and all of it well paced. Seriously, I still think there is an art to putting an album together, this album is so well paced that 12 songs and 52 minutes long, it flies by like a breeze. Making you want to listen to it all over again, immediately.

Corroded are quickly becoming one of my favourite metal bands and I am so happy they came back off of that hiatus. Even better they came back stronger and filled with ideas. This album is such a blast and now a frequent companion on my car journeys. If you like your pure heavy metal, do yourself a favour and get this one as soon as you can!

5/5

Mick Birchall