Archive for Iron Maiden

Interview with Jan Bünning [Paragon]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 19th November 2012 by izaforestspirit

This year marks the 22nd anniversary since the formation of the German heavy metal powerhouse that is Paragon. Iza caught up with bassist Jan Bünning to discuss their latest album ‘Force of Destruction’ and find out more about the band’s long history.

Iza: Hi there!
Jan: Hello!

Iza. It’s been 22 years since the birth of Paragon. How do you think the band has evolved since the early 90s?
Jan: Before I joined Paragon in 1997 the band almost split up and Martin Christian the founding member hired our singer Buschi and me as new members. About half a year later we already entered the studio and put out two albums in a very short time. To be honest looking back now I consider “Final Command“ and “Chalice Of Steel“ more as demos and would say “Steelbound“ is our debut. “Law Of The Blade” is the album on which we found our style and the next milestone was “Revenge“ where sound and songs are in perfect harmony considering our playing abilities we had at that time. “Forgotten Prophecies“ in my opinion had good songs but they are not arranged very well and the sound is terrible. I didn´t play on “Screenslaves” but the sound is better as on “Forgotten Prophecies”and it had some good songs on it like “Screenslaves” and “Hellgore” but also some average stuff.

We worked a lot on “Force Of Destruction” e.g. Wolle had riffs for about 25 songs and I then collected the most fitting and arranged them for Buschi to write lyrics and vocal lines. So we had a full pre-production, something we have never done before. We also evolved as players so we were well prepared when we entered the studio and we need less time for the recordings of “FoD” than for other albums. I would say “FoD“ has everything a Paragon album should have and also some new influences from our new guitar players Wolfgang Tewes and Jan Bertram.

I. What have been the biggest highlights of your career to date?
J: There are many highlights like playing the main stage in Wacken 2004 in front of 40000 Metalheads, opening for Gamma Ray on their tour and of course the very good reviews we get for “Force of Destruction“.

I. Where do you see yourselves in the world of power metal? Which bands would you compare yourselves to?
J: I would not say we are Power Metal. When we started with Paragon, Power Metal was something like Overkill – a cross between classic Heavy Metal/Speed & Thrash Metal. Today stuff like Sonata Arctica are called Power Metal and that is something totally different.

I: Your style is an interesting mix of power and speed metal. I can also detect elements of thrash metal in some of your songs. Which of these genres, would you say is the most applicable to Paragon? How would you describe your sound?
J: I would say we play Heavy Metal with some Thrash & Speed Influences. We try not to have the same song over and over on our albums so we have fast stuff like “Iron Will” & “Rising From The Black“, doom songs like “Blood & Iron“, stompers like “Gods Of Thunder” and even ballads like “Demon´s Lair”. So in the end it´s all Heavy Metal only that one song is more Thrash Metal like “Rising From The Black” and the other Song is more Heavy Metal like “Gods Of Thunder“.

I: Have your influences changed since the formation of the band or are they still the same as they were all those years ago?
J: Our Influences are still bands like: Judas Priest, Accept, (old) Iron Maiden, Overkill, Metal Church, Mercyful Fate, Vicious Rumors, Candlemass, Agent Steel and even some Slayer. They have not changed too much and I guess we will even try to get more back to the roots on our next album.

I: If you were to pick one song from the new album ‘Force of Destruction’ to act as a teaser for all those new to Paragon, which one would it be & why?
J: Really hard to say because it´s our first album where I like each and every song. But if I had to chose it would be “Iron Will“. It´s the last song we wrote just before we entered the studio and we did not have time to do a vocal demo with it but when I heard it for the first time I knew it´s already a Paragon classic. When you hear it for the first time you can sing along the chorus when we play it the second time and that how a good song should be. In the lead section you hear first Wolle´s more melodic leads and after that Jan Bertram´s more technical lead guitars.

I: In the past you have paid tribute to other German metal bands such as Tankard and Helloween. Have these bands had any influence on your music?
J: No. the only German band which has influenced us is Accept.

I: Are there any plans to compile a ‘Best of Paragon’ album to celebrate your long career?
J: That would be a question for our old record company Remedy Records because they have the rights for our older stuff. But the only thing I know that they will re-release “Steelbound” very soon with a bonus disc full of all our tribute songs because I made the new layout for the re-release.

I: What are your plans for the future?
J: Getting tighter as a band, writing and recording another killer album and doing a lot of shows.
I: Ok. That’s great. Thanks!
J: Thank you!

 

Paragon – Force of Destruction

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 8th November 2012 by izaforestspirit

Paragon
Force of Destruction
Released: October 2012
Power Metal/Speed Metal
Released via Napalm Records

‘Force of Destruction’ is the new album from the German power metal band Paragon. It is the follow up to the 2008 album ‘Screenslaves’.

After the instrumental intro ‘The Last Day on Earth’ it’s straight into some power metal with fast guitar riffs and the occasional solo accompanied by some non-squeaky, Iron Maiden style vocals. The first full track ‘Iron Will’ features one of those choruses that will have you singing along and possibly waving your hands about as you head-bang to the guitars. Then, just in case that wasn’t catchy enough, they decided to add some backing vocals to the chorus of the next song ‘Tornado’ and even more guitar solos.

As far as power metal goes, this is bordering on being cheesy though it still doesn’t quite reach the level of Manowar. The subsequent songs follow the same tried and tested formula of catchy, guitar focused power metal which is clearly designed to bring a smile to your face. ‘Bulletstorm’ picks up the pace a little mostly due to fast guitar riffs and drumming. There’s even the odd decent guitar solo added to the mix. Here the vocal style and delivery is very similar to that on ‘Tornado’, as the combination of the lead and the backing vocals in the chorus act as a means of facilitating the listener’s urge to sing along with them. Then there’s the ballad ‘Blood & Iron’ which features some slower, melodic guitar parts and more epic power metal choruses.

Other noteworthy tracks include: ‘Blades of Hell’ which features some of the best guitar solos on the album; the head-banger-friendly, fast-paced, speed metal style ‘Rising From The Black’ and the melodic, story-telling ballad ‘Demon’s Lair’.

Overall, listening to this album really did put me in a good mood. Paragon’s style of power metal may not be anything ground-breaking but it sure is fun to listen to.

4/5

Iza Raittila

 

Wolfbane’s October UK tour update

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 20th September 2012 by Nico Davidson

The reunited original line up of mighty British Heavy Metal band Wolfsbane, who reformed in 2011 to record their first studio album for 17 years, Wolfsbane Save The World, released in January 2012 to huge acclaim, have added 2 more dates to their previously announced October UK tour at Winchester’s Railway Club on October 22nd and Derby’s The Flowerpot on October 28th. The full itinerary is now:

Weds. Oct. 17th – The Musician, LEICESTER

Thurs. Oct. 18th – Bootleggers, KENDAL 

Fri. Oct. 19th – Eric’s, LIVERPOOL

Sat. Oct. 20th – The Attic, RUSHDEN

Sun. Oct. 21st – The Corporation, SHEFFIELD 

Mon 22nd Oct – The Railway Club, WINCHESTER (NEW!)

Weds. Oct. 24th – Fibbers, YORK 

Thurs. 25th – The Garage, LONDON 

Fri. Oct. 26th – The Cathouse, GLASGOW 

Sat. Oct 27th – Robin Hood 2, BILSTON 

Sun. Oct. 28th – The Flowerpot, DERBY (NEW!)

A very special, limited edition CD, The Lost Tapes (A Secret History), the only live studio recording of Wolfsbane ever made, will be exclusively available on the tour. Recorded in 1993, The Lost Tapes (A Secret History) contains an early, visceral version of Wolfsbane’s entire eponymous third album, PLUS all the extra tracks put down at the time, and two cover versions – For You and Born To Run – which were taped during the Massive Noise EP sessions.

Wolfsbane who were formed in 1984 and signed to Rick Rubin’s Def Jam label in 1989, had just recorded their Massive Noise Injection live album at a tumultuous sold out London Marquee gig in February 1993, when they went into the studio to record some covers to go on the Massive Noise EP. With their daring third studio album written and ready to record, the band were really fired up, let alone ‘as sharp as a knife’ in the wake of constant touring and following intensive live rehearsals for the Marquee show. Once they had the 2 covers in the bag, producer Simon Efemy suggested that they ‘throw up some mic’s’ and record what was to become the band’s third album in its entirety. So they geared up and stormed through the set in a way that became legend.

The subsequent album recording sessions went well enough but the band never captured that spiritin the way they set out to, and then Blaze was whisked away in the night to join Iron Maiden, before the group had finished mixing the album. Following the release of Wolfsbane in 1994 the band imploded and it wasn’t till later that they realized the recording from that special night had been lost. No one had a copy. It was gone, just a memory.

Fast forward 18 years to 2011, and following Wolfsbane’s reformation, guitarist and producer Jase Edwards recalls; ‘We’re looking through stuff in the loft de-cluttering and the pile of tapes in the corner hoves into view. All the unmarked ones are set to one side and a tape player is dug up (a what??? say all the young people) I listen through and see what they are. I can hardly believe my ears when third in, I hear what can only be our lost recording! I instantly stop the tape in shock!! Could it be!! Am I mistaking it for something less finished from the rehearsal room? But it sounds too good to be the rehearsal room?! The snare had that trademark crack to it that could only come from the hands of Simon Efemey… It’s clear, too good for a rehearsal… I restart the tape and listen through….. Yes, we’ve found it! The whole album and the extra tracks; WE FOUND IT!! So… Bearing in mind it’s from a cassette I set about mastering it and getting it ready for release!

The Lost Tapes (A Secret History) will only be for sale in hard copy at the merchandise desk on the band’s October tour, and once it’s gone it’s gone. Jase states that ‘It’s a very special moment in Wolfsbane’s history. It’s thrilling to have found it again and it sounds even better than we remembered it!!! So come on down and grab yourself a piece of thrilling history’.

Grave Digger – Home At Last [EP]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 3rd August 2012 by Pieni

Grave Digger
Home At Last [EP]
Released: 27th July 2012
Heavy Metal
via Napalm Records

Photobucket

Just as the UK had NWOBHM, Germany had its own metal movement a few years later, even though there’s no fancy name for it. It consisted of mixing speed metal with the traditional heavy metal, making it rawer, stronger, meaner. And that’s why the new songs in this EP are quite disappointing – they’re heavy metal alright, but they lack speed!

The guitars in “Home At Last” are old school heavy metal and there’s nothing wrong with that. But one would expect a rhythm section a bit more aggressive. The chorus has a few voices backing up Chris Boltendahl’s, making it pretty catchy and a candidate to the live setlist. Still some power is missing.

With “Rage Of The Savage Beast” happens more or less the same, and despite the message of “Metal Will Never Die”, whose one of the main riffs reminds me the beginning of Iron Maiden’s “From Here To Eternity”, I believe they could have made something better.

The best part is definitely the three live tracks, recorded in Wacken 2010 – “Ballad Of A Hangman”, “Exacalibur” and “Heavy Metal Breakdown”. Three classics that show the greatness of Grave Digger on stage. They sound heavier and faster live, which is no surprise, so maybe there’s some hope for the studio tracks here, if played live. Maybe.

On the other hand, this is an EP released barely a month before the album “Clash Of The Gods”, due in late August. And only “Home At Last” made it to the album. So I believe that both “Rage Of The Savage Beast” and “Metal Will Never Die” are that kind of song that bands compose a little differently, and despite being good, they’re not good enough. So they become B-sides.

As for “Home At Last”, it will be the last track of the album – maybe that’s the reason why is not as speedy. Coming to think of it, the title has a somewhat “ending” feeling to it, the “at last” giving the notion of something that’s been complete. Good for the final track. Just not sure about making an EP after it.

3.5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Iron Maiden founder announces solo album

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 18th July 2012 by Nico Davidson

EMI Music are proud to announce the release of Iron Maiden founder Steve Harris’ debut solo/side project album. Entitled ‘British Lion’ and comprising ten songs that Steve and his collaborators have been working on for the past few years between Iron Maiden tours and releases, it is an album that will surprise and delight music fans the world over.

With a decidedly heavy rock-vibe this roaring debut paints with a full palette of sounds; brooding, melancholic, righteously indignant and exuberantly heavy. With Kevin Shirley at the mixing helm – whose credits include Iron Maiden as well as Led Zeppelin, Journey and Rush among many others – this is an album to sink your teeth into.

From the growling riffage of opening salvo This Is My God to the heavy forlorn balladry of follow-up Lost Worlds which showcases Richard Taylor’s soaring vocals, it’s clear that ‘British Lion’ is an altogether different beast from Maiden.

Karma Killer, with its dirge-like muscularity, and Us Against The World, with its massive chorus, demonstrates just how far ‘British Lion’ has flexed Steve Harris’ considerable musical muscle. Dovetailed with guitarist David Hawkins’ positively gargantuan lyrical guitar melodies, it’s a mere hors d’oeuvre ahead of the epic, riffing-feast of The Chosen Ones, with its swaggering bravado.

A World Without Heaven, at a breathtaking seven minutes and infused with progressive elements without ever teetering into self-indulgence illustrates perfectly these songsmiths’ colossal abilities to create a mood and stay there. Supercharged by Steve Harris’ inimitable style, there’s an un-cynical vibe here that’s as refreshing as it is out of place in today’s all-too-categorised music industry.

And as far as the name ‘British Lion’; “I’ve always been proud to be British,” explains Steve, “I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be. It’s a massive part of being me. It’s not like I’m flag-waving or trying to preach, this is not a political statement at all. It’s like supporting your football team, where you come from. I just think it lends itself to some really strong imagery too, and to me it fits in with the sound.”

With Iron Maiden, Steve Harris has become one of the most recognised and successful ambassadors for British music on the world stage. Having released 15 studio albums, sold over 85 million records worldwide and played more than two thousand gigs in 58 countries in the band’s thirty-five year career, his appeal is truly global.

And now with ‘British Lion’, Steve steps out from Iron Maiden’s illustrious shadow to present a different side of his musical visions.

The tracklisting for ‘British Lion’ is as follows:

1.This Is My God
2.Lost Worlds
3.Karma Killer
4.Us Against The World
5.The Chosen Ones
6.A World Without Heaven
7.Judas
8.Eyes Of The Young
9.These Are The Hands
10.The Lesson

Sacred Blood – Alexandros

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 12th June 2012 by izaforestspirit

Sacred Blood
Alexandros
Released: May 2012
Epic Power Metal
Released via: Pitch Black Records

‘Alexandros’ is the second album from the Greek epic power metal band Sacred Blood. It is a concept album based on the life and legend of Alexander the Great.

So aside from the rather cheesy intro which comes complete with battle sounds and an epic story-telling voice, this is pretty much what it is says on the tin. ‘Alexandros’ treats the listener to some epic power metal akin to the likes of Manowar with hints of Iced Earth. Take ‘The Bold Prince of Macedonia’ for instance: the vocals bear a strong similarity to Manowar, then there’s the choir-like, warrior-style backing vocals all of which add to the overall ‘epic’ effect.

Luckily they have managed to throw in some catchy guitar riffs and solos as well; on tracks such as ‘Death Behind The Walls’ and ‘Ride Through the Achaemenid Empire’ which remind me of Iron Maiden for some reason. Then there’s the soundtrack-esque, symphonic instrumentals like ‘Golden Shields in the Sky’ which, in true story-telling fashion, features more of the vocalized commentary similar to that of the intro. In addition to these the album also features some slower tracks such as the acoustic guitar driven, keyboard-infused ballad ‘New God Rising (At the Oracle of Siwa)’ or ‘Heart of the Ocean (Nearchus Advancing)’ which features some melodic, soft-sounding female vocals.

Overall this is a very good example of epic power metal which I would recommend to fans of Manowar and Iron Maiden.

3.5/5

Iza Raittila

Primal Rock release second single

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 25th May 2012 by Nico Davidson

Primal Rock Rebellion, the outfit composed of Iron Maiden guitarist & songwriter Adrian Smith and one-time SikTh front-man Mikee Goodman, have released brand new single, No Friendly Neighbour, on Spinefarm Records.

Produced by Smith & Goodman and mixed by Simon Hanhart, No Friendly Neighbour is taken from the debut Primal Rock Rebellion album, Awoken Broken, released on February 27th 2012, also through Spinefarm.

Nominated in the Best New Band category at this year’s Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, Primal Rock Rebellion is clear proof that stepping outside of your comfort zone can reap spectacular rewards, with No Friendly Neighbour the full-tilt result of two very different minds meeting somewhere in the middle!

As with the video for previous single, No Place Like Home, the clip for No Friendly Neighbour has been directed by Goodman; however, whereas the ‘No Place…’ promo was a visually OTT affair, showing a world of monsters and trepidation, the new one focuses more on the musicians themselves, with drummer Dan ‘Loord’ Foord (ex-SikTh) also coming further to the fore.

Goodman commented: “We actually shot the new video on the same day as the No Place Like Home one, and it was a very intense experience. mean, I’d been deep in a cave the entire day before – got in at 3am, up at 6am, then started directing, producing, performing and even making the crew breakfast! Really, it was too much to take on, but it pushed me right to the edge – that’s why my performance is so full on. I hope the passion for the music really comes across.”

The video for No Friendly Neighbour can be viewed below:

Burning Shadows – Gather, Darkness!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 15th May 2012 by izaforestspirit

Band: Burning Shadows
Album: Gather, Darkness!
Release date: June 2012
Genre: Heavy Metal / Power Metal
Label: Self-released

‘Gather, Darkness!’ is the second full-length release from the American power metal band Burning Darkness. It is the follow up to the 2010 EP ‘Oathbreaker’ and it is a concept album inspired by the science fiction novel of the same name by Fritz Leiber.

The symphonic, orchestral intro to the instrumental ‘Overture: Hymn to Sathanas’ reminds me of the opening credits to a movie. It’s only when the guitars kick in at the start of ‘A Thousand Lies: A New Dark Age’ that you’re reminded of the fact that this is still a metal album. The singer sounds he’s reciting a story rather than singing; then again this is based on a book afterall so maybe this was the idea…

The guitar work is good and combined with the Iron Maiden / Iced Earth-style vocals it produces some pleasant sounding results, such as the catchy chorus and guitar solos in ‘A Thousand Lies: Onward’. Now I’m guessing, based on the names of the tracks, that several of them are connected to each other – for instance ‘To Ruin & Divide: The Witchmark’ sounds like the start of a four-part chapter which ends with the power metal ballad ‘To Ruin & Divide: Kingdoms Fall’. In this particular sequence ‘To Ruin & Divide: Man From Myth’ is the most memorable due to its skillfully executed guitar riffs and atmospheric moments.

Other noteworthy tracks include the slow, acoustic-sounding ‘Breaking the Sanctuary: Abandonment’ which proves that the band know how to maintain the right balance between fast, catchy power metal and epic power ballads and the catchy finale that is ‘Breaking the Sanctuary: The Infamous Dawn’.

3.5/5

Iza Raittila

Katana – Storms of War

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 14th May 2012 by Nico Davidson

Band: Katana
Release: Storms of War
Release Date: 2012
Genre: Traditional Metal
Label: Listenable Records

Sweden – Known to be the home of acts such as Arch Enemy, In Flames, Bathory and Abba. The last of which is probably the most known musical export from the Scandinavian nation. Yet Sweden is also home to the metal quintet that is Katana. The band have been described as being in the same vein as the early days of the NWOBHM era. Having only heard of them recently, in my dark corner of the interwebs, I have not set familiarised myself with their sound.

The Reaper is the starting track of the album and straight away the Paul Dianno-era Maidenesque riffs begin roaring blended with a deeper sounding style of Rob Halford-sounding vocals mixed with a slight hint of Manowar influenced vocal melodies. The drums race along the guitars, keeping that old school, hard rocking energy flowing. The solo is insanely played, making you want to bust out the air guitar and begin rocking out in your bedroom. As the track comes to its close, it’s finished off with the addictive classic screams, conjuring up fond memories of the golden days of the NWOBHM scene.

The intro for Wrath of the Emerald Witch sounds eerily like the main riff in Maiden’s song Wasted Years. The vocals take a new form, this time in the form of Yorkshire’s own NWOBHM heroes Saxon. The guitar sections morph, somewhat lycanthropically, into a more thrashier assault of riffs and crunchy bass work. The lyrics take up more of an early day power metal feel, fortunately without the extra side dish of cheese. The third track, Kubilai Khan, rings in a similar vein to Priest’s song Victim of Changes, only faster paced while the vocals have that power metal feel echoing through them. A lot of the riffs are catchier than the cold – the bonus being that they’re a damn sight lot better than having a snotty nose and feeling like death warmed up.

Lyrically, The Samurai Returns, fits in perfectly with the band’s name and the album art while musically and vocally, it almost embodies those old school attitude and sounds that the band demonstrate ever so well in their music. City on the Edge of Forever literally screams with NWOBHM era influences from Saxon and Maiden to Judas Priest and a tasty dash of Blitzkreig. The lyrics provide the paint and the music provides the canvas for what the vocals turn into a beautiful song that is so vibrant and powerful that very few songs can ever compare to it. No Surrender feels more chilled out compared to the other tracks yet it still brings a certain thundering war-like sound to the eardrums. The vocals certainly bring a charismatic tone to the song, blending creatively with the music.

The Land of the Rising Sun is one of the more creatively genius songs on the album, with the Asian styled riffs softer use of percussion yet I feel it doesn’t quite live up energy and magnitude of the rest of the album when it first begins. The vocals still do a great job at telling a story with masterfully penned lyrics. The song progresses, eventually, into a very Maiden-stylised piece, almost feeling like Katana’s own Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The most obvious difference being that it doesn’t last as long as the aforementioned song. The Asian based riffs make a second appearance in the song, keeping the concept of the song alive and kicking like an underdog boxer who refuses to go down.

The Gambit tears its way through, like a toned down version of Motorhead topped with the usual lyrics that dominated the 80s metal scene. Modesty Blaise is another song on the album bringing about the classic power metal musicianship. The bass work has a nice sounding twang to it, giving the song a very distinct appeal. And finally the album comes to a hard rocking halt with The Wisdom of Emond’s Field, that oddly sounds like the previous track before almost recreating a faster version of Tyr’s Hold The Heathen Hammer High. Fortunately, Katana soon bring the song back into its classic metal groundings with a brilliant use of melodic riffs and memorable hooks. The second half of the song brings about a vocal section similar to that of Maiden’s Charlotte The Harlot before morphing back into its old high energy anthem self.

In recent years, it seemed like the only good thing to come out of Sweden was Kopparberg. It would seem, that after listen to this album, I’ve been proven wrong. I’ve always liked classic and traditional metal and Katana have come so close to virtually perfecting the old school sound in one album, which is Storms Of Wars. I think Sweden now have their own Iron Maiden.

4.8/5

Nico Davidson

Eternal Fear – Embraced In Darkness [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on 4th April 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Eternal Fear
Album: Embraced In Darkness
Release Year: 2010
Genre: Metal

Eternal Fear are one of those rare metal bands that don’t seem to fit into any sort of sub-genres in the metal scene. With influences from Paradise Lost, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden to Running Wild, Megadeth and Motorhead, Eternal Fear have broken out o the stereotype that all Swedish metal bands perform death metal. “Embraced in Darkness” is their newest release.

“Exit:Darkness” is the first track of the album; composed entirely unique percussion sounds and the use of a synth, setting a very macabre atmosphere. “Wasted Life” comes next, which begins with a very death metal-sounding intro which soon accompanied by rough power metal-styled vocals. The drums are well played and certainly heavy enough to go toe-to-toe with the guitars. The guitar solos certainly add some new flavour to the track as well. The track finishes on the last note of the second solo, making way for the title track “Embraced in Darkness”. Its intro is loud and brutal, just the way metal should be. The intro riff soon changes into a Iron Maiden-meets-progressive metal style of riff. The vocals sound more raw and rough. The drums and based also seem to have an Iron Maiden sound to them. The guitar solo is astounding, fitting in well with the main riff of the track.

“Cold Rays” come next, with a heavy guitar intro. The drums soon join in, along with the bass and vocals, which pretty much complete the track. The vocals get rougher in sections of the track, giving it an old skool kind of feel. The guitar solo leaves room for improvement. Next with a hard rock sounding intro is “Piece Of Me”, which sounds like an old skool fighting song. It is slightly softer compared to the previous tracks but it is still a brilliant piece of music. The guitar solo is simply brilliant, with plenty of melodic parts. “No Quarter” is next, start with just a drum intro which is soon accompanied by bass and a Trivium-styled guitar riff.  The vocals don’t seem as rough on this track, but they are just as powerful. The thrash-styled guitar solo would have to be the best part of this track.

Next is “Beast Within”. The intro is slow but heavy, though the guitars do sound as if they’re overpowering the drums ever so slightly. The vocals seem to have opted for less roughness again. For the most part, this track seems to have a power metal sound. The only down side to the this track is that the drums don’t seem that heavy. The guitar solo, for the most part, is great. Beginning with the fast-paced but consistent tap of the high-hat the track “Bleed” makes itself known. A very melodic guitar riff soon accompanies the intro, bringing heaviness to the track. The vocals have gone back to being rough, which is always a good thing. “Burn” comes next, with an intro heavier than a ton of steel. The bass can be heard clearly when it makes its appearance on the track. The vocals are rough again, added an element of aggressiveness to the track. The guitar solo pretty much makes the track perfect. The final track is “Look Inside” which begins with a heavy yet slightly melodic guitar riff, followed by the drums.  The track itself isn’t too impressive and it is a bad way to finish the album. Only the guitar solo is the interesting part of the track.

“Embraced In Darkness” is proof that Swedish blokes know how to perform metal that isn’t “death metal”. It’s a well-produced album with plenty of ear-splitting brutality and face-melting riffs. Most of the tracks have the potential to become mosh pit anthems and instant classics.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Avatar – Millennia [2011]

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

Band: Avatar
Album: Millennia
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

“Millennia” is the latest and last release by now disbanded Belgian black metal quintet “Avatar”.

The album begins with the track “Mirrors”, which begins with a slow piano intro. The slow picking of a guitar soon follows. Surprisingly,  the combination works really well. Almost two minutes in the track turns heavy but retains it’s slow pace. The sound of synthetic organs from a cheap keyboard join in the rest of the music when the track turns heavy and the steady beating of a double bass pedal follows after that. The keyboard generated sound of flutes brings the track to a calming end, which is unusually good for a black metal track.

“The Unbodied Serpent” is next. It begins with a folkish and medieval sounding guitar intro, which is soon accompanied by keyboards and some very rough and raw vocals. The drums sound somewhat soft compared to the rest of the music. The use of female vocals along side the harsher male vocals is very reminiscent of “Ethereal”. The keyboards have a very eerie sound to them throughout part of the track and the drums seem to get heavier. The guitars get heavier as well with some nice tremolo picking in sections. The only problem with this track is that it’s too long, though the use of a guitar solo, despite being unusual for this genre, is very nice.

Following after is “The Ancient King”. It begins with an “Iron Maiden” sounding riff, which is soon followed by heavily beaten drums, synth sounds and pure black metal-styled brutality. The vocals, again, are rough and raw. The keyboards perform some nice eerie riffs again, which work very well with the vocals and drums. The use of a guitar solo, just like in the previous track, is brilliant. The bass performs some good riffs in sections of this track as well. “Smoky Mountain” comes next and it begins with an eerie sounding keyboard intro, which sets a dark and grim mood which is soon ruined by clean guitars making an appearance. The track does turn partially heavy and female vocals make an appearance. The keyboards can be heard all the way through the track which is a good thing. The male vocals finally make an appearance over half way through the track, bringing a bit more heaviness to it.

The title track “Millennia” begins with a combination of clean and distorted guitars, which are soon accompanied by keyboards and drums. The vocals seem to over power the track. The track itself seems to have a grand and epic sound to it, something which is rare in black metal, though it doesn’t ruin the track. After a line of clean vocals about two minutes in, the track turns heavy and a great solo finds its way on to the track as well. There is also a brilliant eerie keyboard section towards the end, which eventually is accompanied by a slow, hypnotic bass riff and a clean guitar riff.

“Le Secret Du Soleil”, which is French for “The Secret of the Sun”, is next. It begins with a sample sound of running water, mixed with a keyboard section and an acoustic guitar riff.  The keyboard sounds of flute soon dominate the track, with the distant sound of water in the background along the acoustic guitar. Following after is “Ultra Mare” that brings back the symphonic brutality with a keyboard and guitar intro, followed by pounding drums. The bass line is very rhythmic and works very well with the vocals when they make an appearance. The vocals sound more rough and raw than they have been on the previous tracks. The guitar riffs seem to switch between slightly melodic and brutal. The female vocals make an appearance towards the end and they work brilliantly well with the harsher vocals, which is always a good thing.

“The Summergate” comes next. it begins with a trumpet sound generated by the boards, followed by drums and a sinister sounding guitar riff.  The vocals sound like they’re overpowering the track. The drums keep a nice and constant fast pace throughout parts of the track. The keyboards help give this track a certain atmosphere. The final track “Weltschmerz” which is German for “World-weariness” comes next. it has a somewhat odd intro for a black metal track, as the drums sound very techno and there’s a use of samples from what would seem to be speeches by world leaders. When the keyboards come in, they add more of a techno sound to the track. Samples of other speeches and radio transmissions make appearances throughout the track. There is a slight use of harsh vocals over halfway through the track, which works oddly well.

The sound quality and production of “Millennia” isn’t great, which adds to the sheer brilliance of the album. The use of female vocals on some of the tracks gave the album a bit of a Gothic metal sound as well. However, the techno-sounding track at the end came as a surprise and did ruin the black metal element of the album slightly, despite the slight use of harsh vocals on that track.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Destruction – Day of Reckoning [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 16th February 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Destruction
Album: Day of Reckoning
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Thrash Metal

Teutonic thrash metal kings “Destruction” are back with their new album “Day of Reckoning”. The band have stated that this album will go “more back to their roots”.

The album begins with “The Price” which straight away proves to be the beginning of a very promising album. The guitars just blitz the ear drums, the vocals are raw and aggressive and the drums have a good ol’ thrash styled brutality to them. The guitar solo is insanely brilliant as well.
“Hate in my Fuel” comes straight after and it carries on the thrash-styled blitz with a fast-paced and heavy intro riff. The vocals, again, are raw and aggresive sounding. Parts of this track sound as if there is some influence from old-skool Megadeth. “Armageddonizer” follows right after. It sounds slower paced compared to the last two tracks but just as heavy. The best parts of this track would have to be the bass only section followed by the guitar solo.

The track is “Devil’s Advocate” which features a brilliant use of technical riffs and speedy chugging. The vocals sound as if they’ve become more aggressive on this track as well. The guitar solo has a very old skool sound to it as well. The title track “Day of Reckoning” comes next. It’s drum intro followed by a high-pitched wailing guitar riff is just immense. The track soon turns heavy, with a great use of double bass pedal, beasty riffs and raw vocals which sound almost death metalish. This track is, without a doubt, the best track on the album.

The next “Sorceror of Black Magic” takes a heavyness up a step. Everything sounds more brutal on this track, especially the drums and vocals. The guitar solo has a slightly modern sound to it mixed with an old skool influence. “Misfit” comes next and it has taken a the heavyness down a step, though in some parts of the tracks, the drums sound as if they’re overpowering the drums. The guitar solo isn’t as impressive as the previous ones.

“The Demon is God” is next and it’s intro riff sounds a tad similar to the intro of Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast”. The guitar solo half through is a vast improvement compared to the one in the previous track. “Church of Disgust” is on after and it begins with an unsynchronised chanting of the Lord’s Prayer before an intro solo comes blasting in. The track sounds like it’s been slightly influenced by “Sabbat”. The vocals retain their raw and aggressive sound and the guitars and drums sound as heavy as they have been on previous tracks.

The next track is “Destroyer or Creator”. It begins with a slow but heavy intro. The tempo increases a bit once the vocals kick in. The drums sound brilliant and the short guitar solo halfway through is just epic. “Sheep of the Regime” is next and in true thrash metal style, it begins with an aggresive intro and the lyrics have a very political meaning. The final track is a cover of Dio’s “Stand Up and Shout”. While not as aggressive as the rest of the album, it still proves to be a brilliant track and a great tribute to the metal god himself.

This is an extremely enjoyable album, from the immense guitar riffs, the heavy drums, the raw vocals and the brilliant perfection. Destruction are like a fine wine – They just get better with age and this album proves it!

4.5/5

Nico Davidson