Archive for IronMaiden

Primal Rock Rebellion – Awoken Broken

Posted in CD, Experimental, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 28th February 2012 by vmteam

Band – Primal Rock Rebellion
Album – Awoken Broken
Genre – Metal/Experimental
Release Date – 2012
Label – Spinefarm Records

Super group’s, an odd subject in the metal world, when they work, they’re great (I, Black county communion, Chickenfoot) when they fail, they crash hard (Rock star supernova). PRR consists of 2 men from totally different ends of the metal world scale.
On one side we have vocalist Mikee Goodman from experimental ‘Djent’ band SikTh along with SikTh drummer Dan ‘Loord’ Foord, and on the other we have the guitarist from one of if not THE most popular metal band of all time Iron Maiden, Adrian Smith. This combination alone is enough to make anyone scratch their heads in wonder, it’s like putting Rob Halford with Trent Reznor….oh hang on?!.

The album starts off with No Friendly Neighbour and it’s clear from the first riff Smith plays that this isn’t going to sound like Maiden in any
shape or form, an almost Nu-metal styled riff is played with Goodman doing some spoken word over the top. When the song kicks in its clear that the vocals of Goodman are what makes this band stand out, if you were a fan of his vocals in SikTh then you won’t be disappointed, if you’re looking for Bruce Dickinson, you’ll be looking for an eternity. The song is a great start to the album, while sounding new and fresh it adds some certain Smith influence on the old school side of things towards the end.

Next up is definitely where die hard fans of both bands are either going to smile or cry down to Goodman’s vocals on this maybe a little hard to stomach for some in places but i think they fit the song nicely if a little unconventional. Smith also lends his hand to some Dickinson style woooahh’s in the background and a nice Maiden-esque solo. Next up in the first single from the album ‘I See Lights‘ maybe not the most obvious choice to represent the album due to its repetitiveness of the riff, but the song does show off some nice vocal work from both men here, as we all know Smith did sing a Maiden B-Side and he is more than capable of belting out a good tune. If you listen to this song in depth you will really get a feel of how many vocal styles Goodman really has, and it is rather impressive, especially the lower toned snarls he does, really giving the songs a darker atmosphere.

Bright as a Fire is for me the track of the album, starting off in a
slow Maiden-esque way, the song at first seems like the ballad of the
album but just little over 90 seconds in the song kicks into a mid paced
beast. Probably one of the more commercial of the songs in regards to
structure and vocal deliverance, the songs really quality is the variation of riffs which Smith delivers, the chugging after the chorus really adds a nice heavy touch after the chorus. It must be said that the production of the album is of top quality too, which unfortunately can’t be said for the past few Maiden albums, but they really nailed it on this!

Savage World is definitely one for the SikTh fans, the vocals on this
are pretty crazy, but not enough for older metal fans to turn their nose
up at, which I think is another aspect of the writing they have done well, the balance between the two writing styles is pretty much spot on.

Tortured Tone is the ballad of the album and definitely one of the
better songs on the album, again without the mixed vocal styles, the song would be just your average ballad. Some nice guitar synth touches in the background too as well as Smith does some backing vocals too. The two guys compliment each other well on songs like this. The quality of songs continues throughout the rest of the album. White Sheet Robes is another mini epic song, which lodges itself in your brain once you’ve listened to it. As Tears Come Falling From the Sky is not a song, its 48 seconds of pure madness and an incite to the crazy thoughts of Goodman.

The title track Awoken Broken reminded me a little of System of a Down in the chorus parts, a little crazy, a lot of layers to the song, but
again the thing that makes the song is the basic riffs of Smith with the
craziness of the vocals, I really can’t praise the song writing formula
enough.

Search For Bliss is one of the lighter songs on the album and one where Goodman shows he really can sing in a more, shall we say ‘normal’ style, with that said the song still has its harsh moments halfway through. I can see it being the second single off of the album, not because it’s maybe one of the better of the songs, it just seems more TV and radio friendly compared to the other songs on the album, which is by no means a bad thing. Snake Ladders is a mini story in song form. The music itself reminds me of the Metallica song ‘The Outlaw Torn’ a slower, with heavier riffs which obviously were not used to hearing from Smith in Maiden. Vocally, again it could compare from anything from Metallica to Nick Cave, especially on the spoken word parts, but again delivered in such a great way.

The album ends in a lighter way with ‘Mirror on the Moon‘ a great way to end the album, a more softer side to the band which reminds me of
something off any V.A.S.T album, which is always a good thing. there’s
also a hint of David Bowie to the sing which is definitely unexpected!
All in all I think its pretty safe to say that this album kicks ass – A
lot of it at that! I really hope these 2 make more music in the future and it’s not just a one off project, if this is just the beginning then I for
one can’t wait for what could become of this band. I’m also going out on a limb here and saying this could very well be ‘Album of the Year’ Forget about comparing this to Maiden or SikTh, listen to the album for what it is, a more that excellent modern hard rock and metal album!

5/5

Paul Brady

Primal Rock Rebellion – Awoken Broken

Posted in Alternative, CD, Experimental, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 9th February 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Primal Rock Rebellion
Album: Awoken Broken
Release Date: 27th Feb 2012
Genre: Experimental/Metal
Label: Spinefarm Records

Primal Rock Rebellion is the unlikely pairing of Iron Maiden axe wielder Adrian Smith and former SikTh frontman Mikee Goodman. While the two come from different backgrounds (Adrian playing in on of the world’s biggest metal bands and Mikee originally coming from SikTh who are laundered as one of the main inspirations for the djent movement), Primal Rock Rebellion shows a meeting of two different yet musically brilliant minds, resulting in a cohesive whole that displays the individual talents of both members. The guitars and bass on the upcoming album are provided by Adrian whilst the drums are provided by original SikTh drummer Dan “Loord” Foord.

No Friendly Neighbour starts the album with an industrial-like drum section, which provides an interesting pulse to the music when the guitars, in their experimental glory, come in mixed with the vocals. The track progresses into a slightly nu-metalish, Korn meets Disturbed sounding piece. The vocals scream out a certain, unique blend of aggression – having never listened to SikTh, I have no clue if Mikee brought this to the tracks he appeared on in the past. No Friendly Neighbour has one other point of interest, a soothing viola medley (provided by Abi Fry) that works against the rest of the music in a strange way that works so well.

The following track, No Place Like Home, certainly doesn’t lack in angsty lyrics and fierce riffs. The higher pitched vocals offered by Mikee did grate on my nerves a little but this was made up for by the catchy chorus and melodic solo that Adrian masterfully pulls off. I See Lights offers up a very delectable dish of experimental guitars with some pseudo-black metal licks and rough vocals. Bright As A Fire injects a dose of semi-epic sounds into the album easing the listener in a state of calming numbness like a musical anaesthetic. The drum workings are much like a rhythmic heartbeat, keeping the blood of the guitars and bass flowing, keeping the song from becoming stale. The riffs perfectly keep a happy medium of melodic and chugging-like sounds.

Savage World sees the return of the high pitched vocals, creating a Joker-styled psychotic atmosphere within the music. The drum intro for Tortured Tone sounds almost too poppy for the track, though the vocals soon kill off the poppy sound. For the most part, Tortured Tone is more on the alt. rock side of things, compared to the rest of the album. White Sheet Robes comes next. Upon hearing its name, it sounds almost like a lame Christian rock song but the hellish guitars and gruff vocal stylings beg to differ. As Tears Come Falling is basically a poem with some snazzy sound effects that leads into the next part of the album.

And finally the long awaited title track, Awoken Broken, bursts into like a wildfire ravaging the Amazon Rainforest. The vocals border on the lines of extreme metal while the guitars and drums seem to throw down a very thrash-like element into the mix. The song is like a fast, hard slap in the face – An enjoyable slap at least without all the kinky strings attached. Search For Bliss is another track that surprises you with its not so metal-like title and strong use of riffs and drums, topped off with a brilliant sounding layer of vocals.

Snake Ladders slows the pace down but keeps that heavy sound from some of the previous tracks. The lyrics tell a clearly story of betrayal, deceit and violence. The album comes to grinding halt with Mirror & The Moon, slowing the pace down to that of a very slow rock anthem, with the makings of a solemn love song, a nice change from the heavier additions on the album. The vocals show strong adaptability to the song as well and the viola just leaves it nicely polished off.

It’s not often that a meeting of two different musical minds works out but Adrian Smith and Mikee Goodman have created a potential Mona Lisa of the metal world, luckily without the DaVinci Code nonsense surrounding it. The production values are virtually flawless and the different styles that have gone into this are virtually genius.

4.9/5

Nico Davidson

Skelator – Time of the Sword Rulers [2008]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 28th October 2011 by izaforestspirit

Band: Skelator
Album: Time of the Sword Rulers
Release year: 2008
Genre: Power/ Heavy Metal/Thrash

‘Time of the Sword Rulers’ is a compilation album from the American Power metal band ‘Skelator’. It features tracks from their early demos along with some previously unreleased material.

Now what would you expect from a band whose name is derived from the evil character in the He-man comics, album cover featuring a knight and a reference to swords?
Power metal? Check. Squeaky vocals? Check? Ridiculously cheesy lyrics? Check.

Yes, you guessed it, this is exactly what it says on the tin. ‘Time of the Sword Rulers’ is a quintessential Power metal album which is likely to appeal to fans of Gamma Ray and Helloween. The only surprise here is ‘Heavy Metal Sacrifice’ which sounds like a tribute to Motorhead. Fans of Iron Maiden are likely to enjoy the epic ballad ‘The Wrath of Odin’s Sons’ which bears similarity to ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Other highlights include: the instrumental ‘In Metal We Trust’ along with ‘The Dark Tower’ and ‘You Traveled Many Miles (For a Heavy Metal Show)’ which feature the characteristic catchy guitar riffs, solos and squeaky vocals that sound best on a sunny day at an outdoor metal festival when you’ve had one beer too many!

Hopefully they will come to metal festival near me one day!

4/5

Iza Raittila

Iron Maiden w/Airbourne @ Motorpoint Arena [Live Review]

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 25th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Iron Maiden, Airbourne
Location: Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield
Date: 24th July 2011

Airbourne and Iron Maiden – a Match ‘Maiden’ Heaven

Australian heavy metallers ‘Airbourne’ and home-grown titans of metal ‘Iron Maiden’ stormed Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena last night.  The sold-out stadium thrummed with the energy of thousands of metalheads – from very young to very old, from Maiden virgins (losing their ‘maidenheads’?) to veteran fans – all eagerly anticipating what was certain to be a night of metal that would never be forgotten.

Airbourne –

I feel genuinely sorry for any band who supports Iron Maiden – such is nature of most Maiden fans that if (through dark voodoo witchcraft) a Maiden support band was created with Janis Joplin and Ronnie James Dio on vocals, Jimi Hendrix on guitar, Mozart on keyboards and Cliff Burton on bass, the crowd would still watch with politeness and mild disinterest, wandering to and from the merch table and the food stalls, killing time until Maiden started.

However, Airbourne held the crowd’s attention and more – exploding onto the stage from the outset with ‘Raise the Flag’. As driving riffs, supported by heavy, thundering bass, flew toward the heavens, Joel O’Keeffe hurdled monitors, playing ferociously. Ably supported by David Roads and Justin Street on backing vocals, the chorus instantly incited the crowd, shouting ‘Raise the flag!’ with fists pumped high into the air.  Screaming scales throughout the solo and outro reminded the audience that, while the main riffs in this song sound simple, the band is made up of talented musicians whose guitar playing will tear your face off.

Slowing the pace down with ‘Cheap Wine and Cheaper Women’, Airbourne brandish their heavy rock influences both in the almost country rock-style build up but also in their stage show, with synchronised headbanging and guitar swaying.

Ryan O’Keeffe’s drumming is clear; he drives the tempo changes and adds some unexpected syncopation at times, which suggests that, while these guys are firmly rooted in classic hard rock and heavy metal, they aren’t bound by the expectations of the genre – they are willing to experiment and create their own identity.

Justin Street’s bass playing is solid as a rock, providing a strong foundation upon which David Roads and Joel O’Keeffe can build their pyramids of power chords under spiralling riffs and complex solos. Roads’ rhythm is animated and pounds along, giving the set a feel of consistent acceleration.

Joel O’Keeffe’s voice is like a laser – precise, strong , and cutting – capable of destroying cities or performing intricate surgery. He tactically uses it, oscillating easily between a powerful, classic rock style falsetto that appears to slice through the stage fog as it drifts down from the catwalk and a lower, gravelly baritone timbre that reverberates against the stadium walls.

Throughout their set (which continued – Steel Town; Diamond in the Rough; Blackjack; No Way but the Hard Way; Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast; Stand Up for Rock & Roll; Runnin’ Wild), Airbourne continued to prove themselves as future legends of rock, ready to receive the torch from the bands who established the genre (and clearly inspire their playing) begin to retire.

Iron Maiden

As the stage crew performed their duties, shrouded behind a mysterious black curtain, the atmosphere in the venue steadily climbed, zeppelin-like, toward the sky. The scent of beer and hot dogs pervaded the air and such was the excitement that even the quick line checks on the guitars and vocals brought cheers from the enthusiastic crowd. As the opening strains of UFO’s ‘Doctor Doctor’ tantalised the ears of the waiting crowd, the sense of euphoria and anticipation reached the stratosphere.

The lights dimmed and ‘Satellite 15’ began. Frenetically flashing red lights and on-screen video melted with the surreal, progressive music, masking the removal of the black curtain and the reveal of the set. Behind the flashing red lights, all that could be seen of the set was a dark back cloth, studded with the pinprick lights of stars – a thousand points of light. This was mirrored in the crowd with the pale glow from mobile phones and digital cameras, ready to record the moment for posterity – or possibly for YouTube. (Good luck to Motorpoint with enforcing their ‘no cameras or recording devices’ policy!)

As the band crashed into ‘The Final Frontier’, the stage lights illuminated a set which can best be described as ‘retro-futuristic’ with white ‘communication’ towers either side and a grey semicircle which suggests a 2001-style satellite (labelled ‘S-15’ as a clear nod to the opening track). The starscape remained illuminated throughout tracks from The Final Frontier, though a number of dropcloths were used throughout the show to support and occasionally introduce the more classic Maiden tracks.  Throughout ‘The Final Frontier’ and the second song (‘El Dorado’) Steve Harris commanded the stage with his signature stance, using his bass like a rifle and pretending to shoot crowd members.  Janick Gers rested his heel upon the edge of the set as if he was stretching out his hamstring – and, judging by the marathon he proceeded to run on the Motorpoint stage, this is, most likely, exactly what he was doing!

The first of the old classics ‘Two Minutes to Midnight’ brought the crowd to a frenzy, desperately shouting ‘Two! Minutes! To midnight!’ as they press toward the stage. Dickenson strikes a good balance with this song, bringing the crowd in and allowing them to feel a part of the moment, while still singing most of the song himself.  It can be a temptation for bands as well established as Maiden (with a strong fan base who know their music) to allow their vocalist to become somewhat lazy and let the crowd sing most of their well-known songs – yet Dickenson remains in control the entire time.

‘The Talisman’ could easily become a muddy mess through the jangling, occasionally discordant beginning; however, Nico’s skilful drumming keeps the song moving forward and somehow the discord and non-standard timing… just works. It proves that Maiden are willing to keep changing, keep pushing themselves as musicians, keep progressing – rather than simply sticking to a tried and true formula.  ‘The Talisman’ also shows off Dickenson’s low bass range, proving that – despite being known for his screaming, soprano-like falsetto, he can provide just as much power in the bellows of the basement.

The first song introduced by Dickenson was ‘Coming Home’. He explained that whenever they go on a world tour, they always fly the same way – so that they are ‘coming home’. Dickenson again strikes a balance with the crowd – the audience feels as if it is a part of the Maiden community, with millions of people worldwide, without bordering on the cheese exhibited by other musicians who can often come across as a motivational speaker in their crowd interactions! Dickenson also assured the crowd – to wild applause – that, despite the album and tour being named The Final Frontier, Iron Maiden are not retiring.

For this reviewer, personally, the gig was really kick started as Iron Maiden revealed the dropcloth for and spoken introduction sample to ‘Dance of Death’.  The stage darkened to create a mysterious mood and Dickenson was illuminated in pink and orange dancing lights that suggested a mystical fire. The first tempo change in this song seemed to be slower than other live recordings of the song; however, this was very effective as it allowed for more time to establish the story and atmosphere. This was the first song in the set that was highly theatrical and Dickenson’s storytelling skills were ably supported by  the lighting – dramatically ending with Dickenson ‘blowing away’ the spirits, at which point the gold faded from the lighting palette and the band were bathed in blue light, throwing larger-than-life shadows against the dropcloth.

As the final strains of ‘Dance of Death’ faded, the dropcloth for ‘The Trooper’ was revealed. The audience’s raucous cheer was the entire introduction Maiden needed – the iconic, harmonised opening, perfectly synchronised, blasted throughout the arena as all four guitarists took centre stage. Dickenson’s mid-song costume change into classical British military regalia, along with triumphant waving of larger-than-life Union flags charged the atmosphere further and created a fevered air of celebration.

The dropcloth which suggests ‘The Wickerman’ was next to be revealed behind the set – and, again, the cheers of the crowd careened into the introduction. Strong, chugging guitars from Adrian Smith and Dave Murray drove the song forward, train-like, and built a bridge which brought the tempo down from ‘The Trooper’ to…

‘Blood Brothers’. Dramatically drenched in blood-red lighting and sentimentally introduced by referencing recent tragedies in Oslo and Japan, a sense of togetherness was created – without relying on references to an ‘army’ of fans, as so many other bands do. Bringing 13,500 people together in a sense of belonging and collective identity should be challenging – however, the anthemic chorus passionately delivered by all members of the band – and belted by all members of the crowd – created a sense of unity and wholeness which was reinforced by mobile phones being held high, swaying in time – the modern version of swinging a lighter in the air!

The final song of the slower portion of the programme takes the audience back to The Final Frontierwith ‘When the Wild Wind Blows’. Already feeling banded together from ‘Blood Brothers’, the band now creates a sense of intimacy during the plaintive atmosphere of the introduction, with precision harmony from the guitars and bass. So many Maiden songs are unfathomably complex, with riffs that intertwine like ivy and gallop faster and more frenetically than a racehorse. ‘When the Wild Wind Blows’ is the opposite – the simplicity of the guitars and vocals evokes a feeling of emptiness, innocence and sorrow backed by a thinly veiled passion. Inspired by the graphic novel ‘When the Wind Blows’ (which details the tragic subject of radiation poisoning from nuclear fallout), the lyrics overbrim with human emotion – sympathy, terror, pity, heartache. The circular nature of the song creates a sense of finality and though the themes fit into the futuristic ‘Final Frontier’ concept, there is a terrifying premonition that this could, one day soon, be very real. The audience becomes still, almost unmoving as the song concludes, before exploding with excitement for…

‘The Evil That Men Do’. Following the dramatically harmonised introduction, all guitarists – while energetic before – start to really come out of their shells. As I watch the musicians dashing back and forth across the stage, I can’t help but wonder if, like Michael Flatley of Lord of the Dance, the musicians in Maiden lose half a stone of body weight in each performance.

As the band ‘winds up’ to play ‘Fear of the Dark’, again, the tempo of the introduction felt more in keeping with the studio version than with live versions – however, as soon as the distortion kicked in with Dickenson’s powerful scream, the band returned to the delirious pace with which they had bombarded the rest of the set. This is the second piece which was highly theatrical and skilled camera work from the crew displayed Dickenson’s exaggerated facial expressions to the arena. Dashing back and forth upon the top of the set, he was upstaged by the appearance of the robotic ‘Eddie’ who arrived onstage to boisterous cheers. Gers took the opportunity to spend the remainder of the song repeatedly running between Eddie’s legs and around his back – to the great amusement of the crowd – which was emphasised by the display of the ‘Eddie Cam’, which gave the audience a clear point-of-view shot from Eddie’s perspective. Adrian Smith’s solo was delivered with a gargantuan grin as he leaned over the crowd, holding his guitar off to one side.  During this song in particular, it was obvious that the musicians in Iron Maiden love what they do and are genuinely thankful to their fans – who ensure that they have the best job in the world.

Ending the main set on the iconic ‘Iron Maiden’, the tumultuous pace continued. Gers, in particular, swung his guitar around his neck, played under his arm and behind his back, all while constantly dancing his way around the stage, his intricate footwork highlighted by his white trainers, aglow from the blacklights –all without missing a note.  Harris’s hands seem to positively fly around the neck of his bass, plucking the strings faster than the speed of sound. Through the lens of the onstage camera, his hands seemed like two spiders that had taken several amphetamines and then had a spider-sized cup of coffee. Eddie made another appearance here – this time as a larger-than-life animatronic creature who arose from behind the set and perused the arena, surveying the audience and band. Finishing on a legendary crash ending, McBrain shows his true skills, circling his oversized kit at a deranged pace, which was reflected by the electrical storm of lighting. As the guitarists threw their plectrums to the crowd, McBrain his drumsticks and Dickenson his sweat-covered hat (ew), the arena became a lion that roared for more.

Personally, I find the notion of encores irritating. The audience knows that the band has more songs – the band knows they have more songs – just play them! However, it has now become an expected convention of live music that headlining bands leave, wait for a shout and then come back to finish the set. Maiden judged the timing effectively, returning to stage after letting the tension build but not after so long that the audience lost momentum.
The first encore, ‘The Number of the Beast’ garnered high accolades from the crowd, complete with dramatic red lighting and an animatronic devil who crouched threateningly upon the set. Dickenson again proved his legendary lung capacity with his striking, theatrical scream that bridges the introduction and the main riff.  Straddling monitors in their symbolic poses, Maiden reaped more commendation from the crowd. From above, the sea of arms, clapping, waving, pulsating toward the stage, in time with the vigorous beat of the drums and bass, was reminiscent of the surface of an alien planet and reflected the earlier, futuristic theme of the evening.

The second encore, ‘Hallowed be Thy Name’ was simply phenomenal. The passion in Bruce’s voice belies the terror of a man about to die, questioning God’s existence and motives. Similarly passionate playing creates the atmosphere of terror, placing the audience into the perspective of the persona of the song. More behind-the-back playing, swinging, twirling in circles from all band members encouraged an already enthusiastic crowd – they must have played the song thousands of times, yet still make it seem fresh, which shows the respect they have for their fans. Though the band has repeatedly played this song, each gig is someone’s first Maiden experience and for that reason, the band keeps their performances special. (Besides, if I had written a song as epic as ‘Hallowed’, I would want to play it thousands of times too!)

Happy, bouncy positivity ends the encore with the feel-good ‘Running Free’ and it is pleasing to see that, after so many years, Dickinson still introduces the band, giving everyone a time to shine. Metronomic drums and bass keep the rhythm going as the guitars and vocals seem to almost play, child-like, over the top.  Laughter and merriment reign throughout the dancing audience as the song finishes and the band retreat offstage – genuinely, this time.
As the exiting audience is reminded to ‘Always look on the bright side of life’, I personally left with a buoyed spirit – with metal in my heart and tinnitus in my ears.

Melissa Adams