Archive for Manchester bands

Shades of Avalon release debut video

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 7th June 2012 by tobiasgray

Manchester based Viking Death Metal band, Shades of Avalon, have released their debut music video – and Valkyrian Music have been given an exclusive link!

Entitled Maldon’s Legacy, it will be the lead track on the forthcoming ‘Northern Barbarians’ EP that will be released later this year:

Shades of Avalon will be playing both Leatherfest (Jun 30th) and Valkyrian Festival (Nov 24th), and you can find their full schedule including further gig announcements etc at http://www.facebook.com/shadesofavalon

Advertisements

Gone Til Winter – The First Season [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 17th January 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Gone Til Winter
Album: The First Season
Release year: 2011
Genre: Melodic Metal

Gone Til Winter have been tearing up the British underground for the past few years, with their debut demo “Deconstruct The Season” receiving airtime in the UK, Belgium and France, as well as being played on Bruce Dickinson’s [Iron Maiden] show on BBC6. They’ve even gone as far as support former Iron Maiden frontman Blaze Bayley and Forever Never. Their latest album “The First Season” was released just last year.

The album begins a strong, guitar-heavy track called “Solemnise”. If I didn’t know it was Gone Til Winter I was listening to, I would have easily mistook these for Theatres Des Vampires due to similar sound in the vocal styles and atmospheric use of keyboards. The guitars have a slight hint of thrash elements (without the aggression or speed). “Heat Signal” tears the place up next with a Lamb Of God-esque introduction. I was definitely impressed by how much the bass work could be heard throughout the song and the way it worked with the vocals.

The album takes a lighter pace of guitar work in the soft yet semi-epic sounding form of “Kill Me”. The piano adds a distinct solemnity (is that even a proper word?) to the track which I feel works wonders with the viciously raw guitar sections (or in simpler terms, the less melodic riffs). The bass work, again, can be heard clearly though it does feel like it’s working against the piano in parts of the song. “Utopia” sounds like a polish down Epica demo – musically speaking anyway. The vocal melody is off putting at first as it feels and sounds choppy and lacking any sort of flow. The orchestrated parts are partially ReVamp sounding, creating a warmth within the music. “Deep Sleep” sound void at the beginning but it gradually builds into something worth the listen, especially with the beautiful twang of the bass strings and the rhythmic splash of drums.

”Distant Places” draws in a much darker sound, much like the way that light draws draws in the moths, with the harmonious fusion of vocals and acoustic guitar work. At a few points, the track sounds like it’s going to explode with a roar of guitars and drums, but sadly it does not. Gone Til Winter certainly know how to tease your ears with this track. The dark, acoustic sound travels into the next song “Release” bringing with it a Gothic entourage of vocals and pianos that conjure up dark images and grim feelings like a necromancer calling the dead. “The First Season” comes to a sophisticated end with “Constant Retreat”. The vocals echo a warmth that makes the song sound more welcoming while the acoustic guitar softly sings a harmonic lullaby that feels like it’s apart of the vocals.

”The First Season” displays quite the variety of different sounds, elements and influences, kind of like a musical box of chocolates. Its definitely a unique album in terms of female fronted metal as it avoids the typical elements of most female fronted metal bands (i.e. beauty and beast vocals, strong orchestration). After hearing this album, I would definitely count Gone Til Winter among my top ten favourite female fronted bands.

4.8/5

Nico Davidson

Spires – Spiral Of Ascension [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 22nd November 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Spires
Album: Spiral Of Ascension
Release year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Metal

Manchester based prog. metallers Spires began initially as the brain child of vocalist, frontman and producer Paul Sadler [ex InSlience/Tomb]. After completing the line-up, consisting of Paul Cuthbert [Guitar], Alex Jolley [Bass] and Chris Barnard [Drums] the band soon began gigging, making their live shows a testament to their dedication and passion for the music they write. November 2010 saw the release of their highly anticipated album Spires Of Ascension.

“Equilibrium” starts with a very progressive sounding introduction, similar to those that can be found on an Opeth track. The vocals are calm and soothing, an odd contrast with the guitars – Well, that is until the vocals turn more raw and aggressive with elements of a death metal style thrown in as well just to spice things up. The drums hold their own nicely through out the track. The guitar solo feels too early on in the track, being virtually at the halfway point. The second guitar solo feels more at home towards the end. The album moves onto “The Infinite End”, beginning calmly before slowly changing into a hulk-like raid of furious metal. The vocals keep things interesting with their death metal stylings, especially when combined with the technical and melodic guitar licks.

“Nightfall” starts with the relaxing sound of rain before the acoustic riffs coolly walk into the song, giving the listener a small break before 13 and a half minute track that is “Broken Hourglass”. The use of thunder during in the song gives the track some form of atmosphere. “Broken Hourglass” is quite eerie at the beginning – Whether this is due to the sound of the guitar or the riff being played, I will never know unless I ask the band, which at this time of morning would be a stupid idea. Anyway, back to the review – The song progresses into heavier and technical musings but still retains that eerie sound in certain sections. The clean use of vocals make a mighty return to the album during in the track. The guitars switch between clean and heavy, though mostly staying clean and melodic adding for a very progressive sound for the first half of the track. The main negative issue with the track is its length – It’s too long for the casual listener of progressive metal and may even seem dull after a few minutes. Roughly half way through, the demonic-like growls can be heard, adding a spark of freshness to the song.

”Symmetry” has a very soft rock ambience to its sound, perfect for chilling out to though this may or may not have been the intention of the band during its composition. The vocals are strong, blending well with the music. The ten piece composition that is “Martyr” follows after, beginning in a more progressive and alternative vein before evolving into something heavier and more technical. After a while, it does revert back to the softer, progressive sound, which a shame since the death metal sound is catchy in a weird sense. The vocals are diverse, like the music, which is to be expected and there’s even a cheeky use of female vocals as well to add that extra bit of spice to the already tasty mix of sounds. Coming towards the end of the album is none other than the title track, “Spiral Of Ascension”. Like the previous tracks, it has a soft, progressive sounding introduction that is both melodic and easy on the ears. The vocals begin out clean and it is a while before the song turns from a Dr Jekkyl-like sound into a more beastly Dr Hyde-like sound. The track definitely demonstrates the different influences the band have and they clearly merge them together into a masterpiece with this one track.

“A New Prayer”, which is the bonus track, finalises the album with a soft but mystifying guitar riff that slowly grows into a loud, volcanic roar of unrelenting force and power with little nibbles of melodic compositions. The other parts of the track are more along the lines of a furious assault of gunfire-styled drums and guitars before retreating back into a soft section.

“Spires Of Ascension” is kind of like the British offspring of Emperor and Opeth minus the symphonic elements. The album is enjoyable for the most part though a fan of progressive metal might struggle to find the enjoyment straight away. Definitely an album worth checking out for fans of Emperor, Opeth and Mastodon.

4.8/5

Nico Davidson

Spires will be touring with Incassum later this month. See below for dates:

24/11 NEWCASTLE TRILLIANS – FREE ENTRY!
25/11 BRADFORD RIOS
26/11 HULL RINGSIDE
27/11 GRIMSBY YARDBIRDS
30/11 KINGSTON THE PEEL
01/12 READING FACE BAR
02/12 DERBY OLD BELL
04/12 MANCHESTER ALTER EGO + ‘SWORN TO OATH’

Incassum – In Vain [2008]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 22nd November 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Incassum
Album: In Vain
Release year: 2008
Genre: Melodic Metal/Gothic Metal

Incassum are a five piece female-fronted melodic Gothic metal outfit hailing from Manchester. They’ve supported big acts such as Blaze Bayley [Former Iron Maiden frontman], Breed 77 and others. The band have also headlined their own shows at venues such as Manchester Academy. 2008 saw the release of their EP “In Vain”.

The EP takes up a dark and tense beginning in the form of “The Beckoning”. Before the vocals are heard, the guitars display a beautiful use of melodic riffs that are combined an intelligent use of drum work. The guitars create a very tense, dramatic and atmospheric feel that is usually only achieved by keyboards. The vocals do take the listener by surprise. The vocals are along the lines of death metal and black metal, so definitely a bonus for fans of Astarte and Arch Enemy. In true Gothic metal style, there is a use of clean, harmonic vocals as well, though not overly operatic as is the stereotype with Gothic metal these days. Musically, the track is like a raging bull charging its way through the crowds at the “Running of the Bulls”.

“History Repeats” hits the listener like a mortar hitting a tank, beginning with a catchy, face-melting riff followed by a powerful vocal section. The drums offer up a deliciously rhythmic taster of what’s to come during in the rest of the track. The guitars tease the listener, keeping their attention while the vocal sections progress into a happy medium of harsh and clean. The most hypnotic and enchanting aspect of the track is the solo. “Space To Breathe” takes the listener down a heavier, brutal path with a masterful combination of clean female vocals and harsher male vocals. The guitars conjure together a well-constructed wall of musical genius and the drums force upon the listener an assault of metallic proportions. “So Red” ambushes the listener’s ears with a delicate guitar intro which is joined by strong yet gentle vocals and a calm drum section. The song hints at heavier progressions though the real heaviness doesn’t occur until the second half of the song.

“All These Lies” starts with drums and bass – Not the techno/dance music kind either – before a crash of thunderous guitars shred their way through the track. The clean vocals are powerful, strong and oddly more impressive than the growls – Which are still pretty beastly. The drums fit their placement well, keeping everything tight. The use of backing growls fits in perfectly with the cleaner vocal style as well, adding a certain beauty and the beast effect to the music. The breakdown – Well, I’m assuming it to be a breakdown since I have difficulty recognising one – does throw the track off a little. The EP comes to a melodic end with the title track “In Vain”. The melodic-styled intro lulls the listener into a calm state of mind before unleashing a raging storm of metal that sounds like a combination of death metal and speed metal – Not that there’s anything wrong with that! The drums certainly add that extra special vitamin known as pure brutality to the song while the contrasting vocal styles keep the track diverse – on a vocal level at least. The guitars are intelligently structured and awe-inspiring like the metal version of the pyramids. After a massacre of aggressive solo work, the track sadly comes to a slow, melodic end.

”In Vain” is definitely not your typical Gothic metal release – In fact, it’s probably better than your typical Gothic metal release. The music shows strong elements of death, black and speed metal while the vocals portray a more Arch Enemy meets Astarte meets Evanescence sound. Each part of the EP has had a lot of thought and work put into it. Its hard to believe that “In Vain” is their only release!

4.7/5

Nico Davidson

Incassum will be touring with Spires later this month. See below for dates:

24/11 NEWCASTLE TRILLIANS – FREE ENTRY!
25/11 BRADFORD RIOS
26/11 HULL RINGSIDE
27/11 GRIMSBY YARDBIRDS
30/11 KINGSTON THE PEEL
01/12 READING FACE BAR
02/12 DERBY OLD BELL
04/12 MANCHESTER ALTER EGO + ‘SWORN TO OATH’