Archive for Heavy Metal

Shadowside – Shades of Humanity

Posted in CD, Metal with tags on 3rd September 2017 by izaforestspirit

Shadowside
Shades of Humanity
Released 26th July 2017
Heavy Metal
Released via EMP Label Group

Shadowside - Shades of Humanity

 

‘Shades of Humanity’ is the latest album from the Brazilian heavy metal band Shadowside. The band has been around since 2001 and kept active by front-woman Dani Nolden. Since then they have released a few albums and there has been a few line-up changes. The most recent addition to the band is the Swedish bassist Magnus Rosén (ex-Hammerfall). This album was recorded at the Fredman Studio in Gothenburg, Sweden with Fredrik Nordström (Arch Enemy, Hammerfall, In Flames) and Henrik Udd (Dimmu Borgir, Dream Evil) in charge of mixing and production.

The first thing that struck me when I heard the opening track was Dani Nolden’s powerful vocals. She is a talented singer with an impressive vocal range. As for the music, it fits most comfortably under the “heavy metal” bracket, although the guitars occasionally drift into thrash metal and even metalcore territory. The thing that it certainly ain’t, most of the time, is melodic or pleasant-sounding. Take Beast Inside for instance, it’s packed with aggressive guitar riffs and abrasive vocals filled with range. Parts of the song made me think of melodic death metal acts like Arch Enemy for some reason. Make My Fate contains some rather annoying sounding metalcore-style guitar patterns at the start, but luckily they do not last long and the rest of the guitar work on that song is pretty decent.

Drifter is a bit of an oddity on here due to the catchy and strangely uplifting keyboard as well as a guitar intro which makes it feel like a power metal track. The vocals are also far less aggressive-sounding on here than on most of the other songs. The song is very guitar-driven with large chunks of it being predominantly instrumental. Lastly we have Alive, which sees the band entering symphonic metal territory with the longest and the most melodic track on the album.

Overall, ‘Shades of Humanity’ is not an easy album to get into. It took me several listens. Even now that I’m more accustomed to Shadowside’s chosen sound, I still enjoy some of the tracks far more than others. I think that the lack of consistency is part of the problem. It is a bit of mixed bag with too much experimentation with different styles and not enough focus.

2.5/5

Iza Raittila

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Wraith – Revelation

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , on 2nd August 2017 by izaforestspirit

Wraith
Revelation
Released 4th August 2017
Hard Rock/Melodic Heavy Metal
Released via Ice Rain Records/Cargo Records

Wraith is a British hard rock band that has been around since the late ’80s. They were most active in the ’90s, after which they had a long break between albums. It’s now been a decade since their last studio album was released and now Wraith are back with a new line-up and a new album called ‘Revelation’. This is also their first work to feature the new vocalist Ryan Coggin.

Ten years is a long time to wait for a new album. This is my first encounter with Wraith so I can’t really comment on how their style has evolved over the years. Rather than commenting on how this compares to their past albums, I will just focus on ‘Revelation’. Here we have ten tracks which range from Bon Jovi -esque melodic hard rock to NWBHM-style heavy metal. An example of the former is the slow ballad ‘Leaving Me Again‘ and the latter ‘No Respect‘ – an energetic, guitar-driven song. The vocals on it aren’t half bad either.

Then there’s the catchy, somewhat sleaze rock inspired ‘Human Hater‘ which reminded me of Mötley Crüe for some reason. This is probably one of the simplest songs in terms of lyrics, but who cares? After all, who needs profound lyrical themes when you can just enjoy a catchy chorus and headbang along to the twin guitar melodies?

In summary, ‘Revelation’ embodies the saying “..good things come to those who wait”. It’s been ten years, but now Wraith are back with a strong album that’s bound to please both classic heavy metal and hard rock fans.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Mean Streak – Blind Faith

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , on 5th July 2017 by izaforestspirit

Mean Streak
Blind Faith
Released: 31st May (Japan), 2nd June (Europe),
16th June 2017 (USA)
Heavy Metal / Power Metal
Released via ROAR Rock of Angels (Europe),
Marquee /Avalon (Japan), High Vol Music (USA)

‘Blind Faith’ is the latest album from the Swedish heavy metal band Mean Streak. The band was created in 2008 by the bassist Peter Andersson. Right from the start their main objective has always been to “write classic metal straight from the heart”. This album was mixed by Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Armored Saint, Y&T) and mastered by Thomas ”Plec” Johansson (Soilwork, Onslaught, Armageddon).

The first thing that came to my mind after hearing the opening track Blood Red Sky is that in addition to classic heavy metal and NWOBHM, these guys have also been influenced by some old school 80s power metal bands like Helloween. Mean Streak’s music is essentially a hybrid of all three of the aforementioned styles. There is also the odd progressive element such as the guitar patterns midway through Settle the Score’. You get your classic heavy metal tracks such as Tear Down the Walls – an uplifting song centered primarily around the sing-along chorus and the guitar riffs.

The Helloween influence is evident on tracks like Love is a Killer, which is also one of the fastest and most energetic songs on here. Unlike a lot of power metal songs, this one lacks the ultra cheesy lyrics but has the right pace, the melodic, Helloween-esque vocal style and the catchy guitar tunes. Speaking of guitars, if you’re a fan of twin guitar harmonies, then you will definitely enjoy Fire at Will as well as most of the fast songs on this album.

Overall, listening to ‘Blind Faith’ has been a positive experience. What Mean Streak have created here may not be pure, classic heavy metal but it is thoroughly entertaining. It’s a guitar-driven heavy metal album with a modern twist.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Rock Goddess – It’s More Than Rock and Roll EP

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , on 25th April 2017 by izaforestspirit

Rock Goddess
It’s More Than Rock And Roll EP
Released 19th May 2017
Heavy Metal/ Hard Rock
Released via Bite You to Death Records

‘It’s More Than Rock And Roll’ is the new EP from the London-based hard rock trio Rock Goddess. The band originally started out in the 1980s during the NWOBHM movement in The U.K. They were on a long hiatus in the mid-90s before reforming again with the original line-up in 2013.

This is a short EP, just three songs but it is enough to give an idea of what Rock Goddess is all about. The title track is an anthem, or manifesto if you like, stating what these ladies trying to achieve with their music. Their message is simple: they play good, old-school hard rock full of catchy guitar melodies and sing-along choruses. This is what they have always done and what they do best. Back Off is all about the guitar riffs while the closing track We’re All Metal sounds like a homage to the band’s roots with some honorable mentions of the famous bands from within both the hard rock and heavy metal scene.

In summary, ‘It’s More Than Rock And Roll’ serves as an (re-)introduction to Rock Goddess. It’s bound to please their old fans as well attracting some new ones, myself included. I can’t wait to hear more. Rock on, ladies!

4/5

Iza Raittila

Damaj -The Wrath Of The Tide (EP)

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

Damaj – The Wrath Of The Tide (EP)

Released March 1st 2017

Heavy metal

Self-released

Although Greenock’s Damaj have been cutting about for some three years or more – playing with Blaze Bayley, Tygers Of Pan Tang, and headlining Spanish festivals, as you do – The Wrath Of The Tide appears to be the first physical release they’ve put their name to. It presents a somewhat personal blend of numerous classical elements, drawn from the spectrum of metal; thrash, prog, and classic British heavy metal being the order of the day.

Vocally, there is much in line with the more accessible edge of the current UK scene, comparable to the likes of Reign Of Fury or Sumer, but the music behind is telling a different story. The lead work on the guitars is quite the trip. Incredibly professional in terms of technical ability, yet without plumping for mindless shred overkill, it really feels like something great has been accomplished in this respect. There are some very nice touches and twists in many of the riffs and rhythms, too, indicating that consideration and taste have been injected throughout. If I was to be mean, I’d have to say there’s something about the production value on this release which doesn’t quite click for me. It’s like later Voivod (i.e. the eponymous 2003 album). The edges of the sound are a little too… fluffy.

However, this doesn’t stop the integral energy of the collective breaking through. In fact, it doesn’t seem too farfetched to wholeheartedly believe Damaj have an almighty live presence, based purely on this EP. Now that they’ve cut their teeth on the recording front, and nailed their song-writing style to boot, they’ve laid the groundwork to make themselves a formidable force.

4/5

Paul Macmillan

Metallica – Hardwired… to Self-Destruct

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 25th November 2016 by mickbirchy

Metallica

Hardwired… To Self-Destruct

Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal

Released: 18 November 2016

via Blackened Records

So, it’s been 8 long years of buildup and hype. For many metal fans though, some trepidation. As Metallica don’t have a sparkling reputation for album releases. In my opinion, they haven’t made a solid album since “The Black Album”. I mean they’ve had the odd decent tune here and there. They just haven’t made a solid full album. So this album, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct was met with a lot of ears. How is it?…. It’s good. I’m not going to say great but it’s good. I think the whole thing is really damn good and definitely their best work in a long time. I guess it was too much to expect them to release a full on thrash album. Then again I don’t think they needed to.

The album sounds great. The production is sharp and they sound tight. Particularly on the title track ‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’ and on ‘Atlas, Rise’. The riffs are nice and they actually sound somewhat like Metallica. Weird, I know. Through both discs they’re pretty damn consistent. With a well composed and well arranged sound. It feels like someone took the time to put it together. I like the experimentation with other types of metal too. Ok, they’re not going crazy with this album, they’re playing it pretty safe, still it’s nice to hear.

Saying that though. I do feel that this album plods along at points. Never enough to get boring but it does feel a little long winded. This is way more apparent on disc two. Which feels like Metallica are overstaying their welcome. There are some nice riffs though, like the opening to ‘Confusion’ and I quite like the last song ‘Spit Out The Bone’ it was a good way to cap off the album. So hey not all bad there.

So, yeah Metallica are back. I’m not going to say this is a return to form. However, it is a solid album, and that’s all I really wanted from them. Just something that I can play and have a little fun with. Hardwired… works quite nicely. It’s got some brilliant songs, excellent guitar solos and it sounds like Metallica actually wanted to make this album. Which makes this a good album in my books.

3/5

Mick Birchall

Heaven Below – Good Morning Apocalypse

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , on 13th November 2016 by izaforestspirit

Heaven Below

Good Morning Apocalypse

Released 14th October 2016

Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal

Released EMP Label Group

‘Good Morning Apocalypse’ is the third album from the Los Angeles -based, American hard rock band Heaven Below. The band was formed back in 2008 by singer Patrick Kennison (Union Underground) and Marty O’Brien (Disturbed, We Are the Fallen). After two albums, various line-up changes and extensive touring, Heaven Below began to work on what has been described as the “most ambitious” album of their career – Good Morning Apocalypse. This is a concept album about a modern day Dr. Faust and his dealings with the devil. It features guest appearances from Udo Dirkschneider (U.D.O., Accept), Kobra Paige (Kobra and the Lotus), Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, Broken Teeth, Watchtower) and Lita Ford.

As with any concept album, if you want to find out more about the story then I suggest that you check out the band’s website or read the song lyrics. That’s precisely what I did and I can say that the story itself is worth reading but I’m not going to talk about it here. After all, this isn’t a book review… So let’s discuss the music instead.

Now, I’ not particularly fond of the term “epic” since it’s grossly overused and it has essentially become a fancy way of describing something larger than life with very little meaning. In this case however, I can’t think of a better way to sum up the overall feel of the opening track Nefarious Angels feat. Jason McMaster — an epic and passionate heavy metal song with explosive guitar tunes and catchy choruses. A great way to start an album. Renegade Protest Movement has the atmosphere of a rebellion in the works with a simple call to action “come, join the Renegade Protest Movement!” It is like a forceful and aggressive blow that hits you right in the face. Ready or not, here it comes!

Devilina And The Damage Done (feat. Kobra Paige) caught my attention as one of the more melodic tracks on here. Kennison’s duet with Kobra Paige adds an extra dimension to the song giving it a somewhat softer feel without losing any of the power in the vocals. For those who prefer a more aggressive style then Killing The Deadman is the song for you – a straightforward yet highly effective onslaught of guitar riffs and compelling vocals with a very brief melodic interlude towards the latter half of the track. And let’s not forget Udo Dirkschneider’s appearance on Black Sunrise/War of The Gods, which transforms the song giving it a more dynamic feel.

In summary ‘Good Morning Apocalypse’ is a multi-faceted and complex album which mixes traditional heavy metal with elements of both modern and classic hard rock. Each one of the guest musicians leaves his or her own mark on the music. Heaven Below have created a winning formula of powerful vocals, catchy choruses and skillfully executed guitar melodies.

4/5
Iza Raittila