Archive for Nuclear Blast

Edguy – Monuments (A 25 Year Tribute to Edguy)

Posted in CD, Editorial/Opinionated, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 9th July 2017 by mickbirchy
Edguy
Monuments
Power Metal, Hard Rock, Progressive
Released: 14 July 2017
via Nuclear Blast

It’s been 25 years of Edguy. Yes, this band has been going as long as I’ve been alive on this earth. So, I thought that I would pay homage to one of the greatest metal bands that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. What better way to do that than going through the newest release from them. Monuments is a carefully and passionately selected collection of the band’s greatest hits from the last 25 years. Not only that, but the release has five brand new songs from the band. Along with one previously unreleased recording. Mounting up to a staggering 28 track album that will be more than enough to indulge even the biggest fan of the band.

I first discovered Edguy back in 2008 with the album Tinnitus Sanctus. I bought it after reading about them in a Magazine calling this album “the strongest of their career yet”. At this time, the metal press was buzzing around them. I listened to the album and something stirred inside of me. I instantly wanted to hear more from them. So in very quick succession I looked their history in music. I was completely blown away and I think this was the start of my obsession with power metal. As listening to them got me into fellow contemporaries: Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica and Hammerfall. I know I was a little behind but believe I’m caught up now with them all. Yet, there was something different about Edguy and it was all in frontman, Tobias Sammet’s vocals. He sang with such power and conviction still to this day his voice gives me goosebumps. If anyone ever asks me what a metal or rock vocalist should sound like I just turn and point to Tobias. Everyone has their own favourites that they immediately associate with the genre. He’s mine.

Yet, I don’t want to do a disservice to the band that back him up. Edguy has some incredible talent in there. Unlike a lot of bands that go this long; Edguy have had a pretty consistent line up having the same lineup from 1998 onwards. Giving them a fantastic consistency. This is reflected across all their albums. Jens Ludwig and Dirk Saur have been their from the very beginning on guitars. Always producing fantastic riffs and melodies that compliment the tone of whatever album. They were going in to. Be it the more power metal centric albums or the winding twisting more progressive sound. No matter how flamboyant or heavy the song. Ludwig and Saur really deliver in getting music stuck in your head. As for the rhythm section Tobias Exxel on bass and Felix Bohnke on drums has always given Eduy that weight and power to their tunes. There’s just such a commanding presence to their music. When Edguy plays, you listen.

Monuments, includes 5 brand new songs from the band. You’d think that they may get lost amongst all of the classic songs. They sort of do, I don’t necessarily see that as a band thing. I just see it as these songs just feel as good as their iconic work. Which can only be a good thing. All five of the songs are big triumphant anthems and their played with just as much conviction as the big hits. With massive sounding production and the tight musicianship that we’ve come to expect from Edguy by now. Is it any wonder that they sound this good! They fit so nicely on this package of their hits. They feels like songs that have always been here. I guess that’s the real strength of Edguy. Making songs that fit so well into the collective consciousness, making tunes that just sound right.

As for the unreleased song “Reborn In The Waste”. Recorded back in 1995, as part of the Savage Poetry recordings. Savage Poetry being one of their demo albums in the early 90’s. I can understand why it wasn’t included. I don’t think it’s wholly representative of the band’s skill or style. In all honesty I think it’s a pretty lackluster tune. It’s got a nice hook to it and I think if they remade the song today it might be better but I don’t know. I guess I like it just for the fact it’s another piece of Edguy nostalgia more than anything else.

In all honesty. This has been a fun one to look at. Just looking back through Edguy’s back catalogue and remembering the great tunes from yesteryear. They are certainly a band that has stood the test of time with 10 albums under their belts and some of the most enthusiastic fans I’ve ever met. Going through this greatest hits compilation has really made me appreciate how good this band really is. From the heavy hard rock tunes, to their soaring ballads they make some of the finest metal music around. They may not be on the same level as the all time greats of the genre, but they always hold a special place in my music library. I will always think back to the time I first heard them roar into gear with “Ministry of Saints”. If you have never given them a chance do yourself a favour grab Monuments and get acquainted with one of the best metal bands in the world. At least according to this reviewer. Yeah, this might read as a bit of a fluff piece or it could read as a little self-indulgent. I really don’t care. I just wanted to look back on one of my favourites to celebrate 25 years of this band.

5/5

Mick Birchall
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The Charm The Fury – The Sick, Dumb & Happy

Posted in 'Core, Alternative, CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 15th March 2017 by mickbirchy

The Charm The Fury

The Sick, Dumb & Happy

Metalcore, Groove Metal

Released: 17 March 2017

via Nuclear Blast

This is an album that I have been particularly excited for. I first caught wind of The Charm The Fury a few years ago via an article in Metal Hammer magazine.  I looked them up and I was really blown away by them.  I hadn’t heard anything like them before.  I would go on to discover a lot of bands in with this sound and I do have The Charm The Fury to thank for that. Their first album A Shade of My Former Self was an exciting bold record with a lot of passion and intensity. It was genuine smash of an album. So, I’ve really been getting into their new album The Sick, Dumb and Happy. They have made some interesting stylistic choices with this album to keep things fresh without losing their core appeal.

This album is more of a groove metal album then metalcore.  The gritty riffs the, groovy bass lines and more of an appealing tone. It fits them it really does. I think every member of the band carries their weight very well on this album. The sound is massive and all of the songs have the potential to be crowd pleasers.  From the old school sound of “Down on the Ropes” to the more modern sounding, “Weaponized”. They hit the mark nearly perfectly.  The production is bold and really gives a firm punch when the tunes get going. On this album the band feel way more palatable. These are songs more likely to get airplay in more mainstream and that’s really not a problem. They sound great doing it and I would say that these songs deserve the attention.

This is a major step in the right direction for The Charm The Fury. It’s really nice to see a band evolve like this.  It proves you can make your songs appealing to a wider audience without selling out.  They have just made a natural step forward with their music. There’s really not much else to say if you want a great album with a fun sound with some truly pump-up choruses, the look no further that this album.

5/5

Mick Birchall

Kreator – Gods Of Violence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 24th January 2017 by Pieni

Kreator
“Gods Of Violence”
thrash metal
Released: 27th January 2017
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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“Gods Of Violence” or how to make the same thing and still sound fabulous.

When “Phantom Antichrist” was released, I used keywords such as technique, melody and elaborate guitars; now, almost five years later, the same words pop up in my mind. Yet it doesn’t leave a taste of repetitiveness but of… familiarity.

Living up to its name, “Apocalypticon” is an epic promise of war, a promise that starts being fulfilled right afterwards, with the fierceness of “World War Now”. Some sharp melody in-between makes it both classic and classy.

“Satan Is Real” is the other side of the coin – still belligerent, still menacing, but the rhythm is more grinding than shredding. There’s even some symphonic elements here and there to emphasize the throbs.

“Totalitarian Terror” is something I’ll love to hear live, a thrash hymn, with a catchy, sing-along chorus.

Okay, I admit some of the acoustic chords of the title-track are a subtle reminder of Metallica’s “Fade To Black”, but the rest of the song is very Kreator-like and another strong candidate to a live favorite.

The spunky spirit of “Army Of Storms”, the force of “Hail To The Hordes”, the mischief of “Lion With Eagle Wings”, the militant “Fallen Brother”, that weeping solo of “Side By Side”, “Death Becomes My Light” brings over a little more semi-acoustic moments – these not similar to any other band’s – before galloping away at full speed… Kreator are able of pulling out sophisticated tweaks off their sleeves, delivering exactly what is expected of them, both as a thrash metal band and as a veteran, professional act.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

In Flames – Battles

Posted in Metal with tags , , , , , on 10th November 2016 by Pieni

In Flames
“Battles”
Melodic death metal
Released: 11th November 2016
Via Nuclear Blast

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When “Siren Charms” was released a couple of years ago, I complained about “its lack of ability to embrace my senses and leave a positive remark” (review here). Well I’m happy to say that ability has returned. Not that “Battles” is a masterpiece, but it features some memorable tweaks, in both ear-worm and impressive meanings of the word.

I remember a lot of people complaining when Anders Fridén gave up on growling. I wasn’t one of them not only because I appreciate Fridén’s current tone but also because I don’t think that measures a band’s level of heaviness – listen to all those pop-metal acts with a growler and you’ll know what I mean. Plus, the desperate inflection his voice carries is just as brutal; the opener “Drained” will prove me right.

Still on a vocal analysis, but the teen choir’s in “The End” and the ballad “Here Until Forever”. I’m a sucker for gang backing vocals, but the cheer of this 2.0 version of it has been growing on me; it’s just as catchy and it will have a hell of an effect live, as I doubt anyone will be able not to sing along. That and the march-wise clapping hands in “The Truth”.

There’s a loud guitar work in here as well, but that has never been an issue for In Flames, so it’s really no surprise. Still I’d like to mention “Underneath My Skin” and the 2-minute dark, almost experimental instrumental piece featured in “Wallflower”. Oh, and the seduction of “In My Room” – no sexual pun intended. It just gives away this enthralling vibe.

So again, no, this isn’t In Flames best work, but it definitely has its moments – lots of them.

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 27th October 2016 by Pieni

Testament
“Brotherhood Of The Snake”
thrash metal
Release: 28th October 2016
Via Nuclear Blast

brotherhood-of-the-snake

Formed in 1983 as Legacy, Testament were forced to change their name – the usual there’s-already-a-band-with-that-name thing – and that change happened three years later. So even if their whole history is a bit older, Testament turn 30 this year. What better way to celebrate than releasing a pure thrash metal record, probably the best they’ve done in years?

‘Cause that’s what “Brotherhood Of The Snake” is – a thrash metal bliss. We use the expression “breath of fresh air” whenever a band adds something new to the genre, but it’s just as refreshing when a band manages to stay in character and makes it sound like a novelty.

The fierceness and excellence of their songwriting is surely well known, but you still won’t be expecting the blow that your ears will take with the title-track or “The Number Game”.

The machine-gun speed with which Chuck Billy sings “Stronghold” will remind you of songs such as “Over The Wall” and the gang chorus has the same power as the one in “Into The Pit”; similar formula, including the hit-potential, but you won’t feel like you’ve heard it all before. “Refreshing”, remember?

Same with “Seven Seals”, where they go for something less aggressive but still heavy, like they did with “Souls Of Black”, or the headbang-friendly “Neptune’s Spear” that’s as catchy as “Electric Crown”, but it’s just the nature that’s comparable – “The Brotherhood Of The Snake” offers ten distinctive, killer songs which will renew your faith in thrash metal.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 14th October 2016 by mickbirchy

Sonata Arctica
The Ninth Hour
Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
Released: 7th October 2016
via Nuclear Blast

The last time I talked about Sonata Arctica on this site I gave them a relatively positive review. I enjoyed “Pariah’s Child”, it was a fun record with a lot of good tunes. It got me into the band and I’ve considered myself a fan ever since. So I snapped up the opportunity to take a listen to the new record, “The Ninth Hour”.

Straight from the first song, “Closer To An Animal”, I knew I was listening to a bolder product with more focus and solid songwriting.  Every element of the album is alive and energized. The synth is just uplifting and makes for a nice atmosphere with its diversity. The songwriting is beautiful and is filled with emotion and passion. From slow and somber songs to the heavy and faced paced straight up metal songs. They just make an impression on every song.

The lyrical content is pretty simple when you think about it. The message of the album is life a good life, be kind to people and stop killing the planet. It sounds simplistic and something you’d sing to your kids. Yet, just because you learned it when you were young it does make these morals false. Sometimes you need simple things just said to you and Sonata Arctica really sell it. Tony Kakko’s voice sounds absolutely amazing on this album. He always seems to manage to match his voice to the emotion of the song and it sounds so sweet every time.

This is an excellent album. In my opinion, Sonata Arctica are the undisputed kings of power metal. If I were to recommend songs from the album, firstly “Life”. This is a belting track with a genuinely inspiring and cheerful chorus that sounds glorious. The other song I’d recommend is “We Are What We Are”, which sound sorrowful and passionate.  It’s a beautiful album that really live up to their reputation as one of the best. I love it

4/5

Mick Birchall

Crobot – Welcome To Fat City

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , on 27th September 2016 by mickbirchy

Crobot
Welcome To Fat City
Hard Rock, Glam Rock
Released: 23rd September
via Nuclear Blast Records

The third album from the hard rockers Crobot brings us more well-constructed riffs, thick funky bass lines, and just a feel-good feeling all around. The American foursome made some absolute belters over the years and the new album Welcome To Fat City, is just more of what they’re so good at, if not a more focused and refined version of it. The album shifts gears from blues, funk to hard rock and beyond without so much a batting an eye. I first heard Crobot in the run-up to this year’s Graspop Metal Meeting when I was listening to all of the band playing the festival.  Then I watched them perform and I was truly blown away by the musician and skill. When they announced that they were bringing out a new album I knew I had to have it.

Welcome To Fat City, is a really well-made album the production is fantastic.  It really is a great sounding album, everything sounds crisp and powerful. From the booming basslines to the shrieking guitars, the groove of every song is so well controlled and has an energy to them that sounds wonderful and keeps you in high spirits. The riffs are enjoyable and engaging and with lyrics that keep you entertained.  For me, I found this to be the most accessible album from Crobot, not that they haven’t been in the past but this album just feels easier on the ear and the production is spot on. It’s just all really likable.

The hazy funk sound is a lot of fun matched by the intense powerful vocal performance that sounds excellent but I felt at times gets lost in the music, not in a big way but just enough to be noticeable. The best songs on this album, in my opinion, are “Temple In The Sky” for it big noisy chorus and it’s grooved up riff.  Also, I’ve really enjoyed “Easy Money” for the weird guitar effects and maddening smooth bass. In fact, the guitar weirdness is something that crops up a lot in Crobot’s music, sound like the guitar has broken mid-riff. It actually a nice technique that gives their music a unique little stamp and separates them out from the plethora of riff-rock out there today.

Overall, this is an insanely catchy and fun record that has all the right ingredients to not only please their core fan base but does enough to bring in newcomers. It’s unique, intense and above all… fun.  Something you’ll want in your record collection.

4/5

Mick Birchall