Archive for Power Metal

Alestorm live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on 4th March 2019 by izaforestspirit

Bootyard Bandits, Skálmöld, Alestorm
Klubi, Tampere, Finland
3rd March 2019

Alestorm… It’s been a while. Nine years to be exact. The last time I saw these guys live was in 2010 when they supported Sabaton. I was also at their show at Wacken Open Air in 2008. They have always been one of those bands that I enjoy watching live but I have never actually listened to any of their albums in full. I might play the odd song or video but that is all. They are a party band that is fun to watch live while enjoying a nice cold beer. This was their first headlining show in Finland and it was sold out.

First up was a British band called Bootyard Bandits. These guys clearly like all things Wild West ranging from cowboy hats, country music to banjos. I’m not sure how to describe their style – “comedy country rock?”, hard rock…They were definitely fun to watch. I especially enjoyed the heavy metal banjo solo featuring a cover of AC DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ and other hard rock classics. 4/5

Next up was an Icelandic Viking folk metal band called Skálmöld. Their show was a bit more serious but still good. They sound like a mixture of Týr and Falkenbach. All their songs are in their native Icelandic. Good vocals and some of the songs were catchy but I could have done without the Týr-style progressive guitar parts. 3.5/5

Then it was time for the headliners. When Alestorm took to the stage I found myself on the edge of a mosh-pit. The crowd really went wild during the show. There was everything from the usual head-banging, air guitar to rowing inside the mosh-pit during one of the slow songs. The Scottish pirates played some new material including ‘Mexico’ along with some old hits such as ‘‘Keelhauled’, Captain Morgan’s Revenge’, ‘Drink’ and a cover of ‘Wolves of The Sea’. 5/5

 

In summary I had a great time and I enjoyed all of the performances. Bootyard Bandits were better than I expected. Skálmöld had a few memorable moments. Alestorm were entertaining as always. Pirate metal is fun to watch, just do not take it too seriously.

Iza Raittila

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Children of Bodom – Hexed

Posted in Metal with tags , , on 27th February 2019 by izaforestspirit

Children of Bodom
Hexed
Released 8th March 2019
Melodic Death Metal/Power Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast Records


Children of Bodom - Hexed

Mr. Laiho and the Hate Crew are back with a new album. It’s been four years since ‘I Worship Chaos’, an album which I initially liked when it came out but after more listens it got a little repetitive. I still own it of course; I have all their albums, even the not so good ones. I guess that somewhere deep down I’m still that teenage Children of Bodom fan girl who had a crush on Alexi Laiho and dreamed of going to Finland to see them live. I used to listen to ‘Follow The Reaper’ on repeat for days and that album still holds a special place in my heart. If there is one band that has contributed the most to my obsession with all things Finnish and Finland it’s these guys. Not only did I visit Finland, I ended up relocating there and learning the language. I’ve seen Children of Bodom live on numerous occasions and I have even visited the Lake Bodom murder site in Espoo.

This brings me to ‘Hexed’, album number ten in Children of Bodom’s discography and the first to feature their new rhythm guitarist Daniel Freyborg. It’s astonishing just how much difference a second guitarist can make. Alexi Laiho is a great frontman and an exceptionally talented guitar player but there is more to this band than just him. Freyborg has his own unique style and he has definitely left his mark on this album. For example on Under Grass And Clover, the dual guitar harmonies work very well together, creating a smooth-sounding, catchy, melodeath metal song. Want something a little faster? Then skip right over to the next track Glass Houses – a classic COB track, with their signature ultra-fast keyboards and impressive guitar work. Speaking of keyboards, the title track features some of the best keyboard passages I have heard from Mr.Wirman in years.

There are quite a few moments on here that reminded me of their mid-career albums ‘Hate Crew Deathroll’ and ‘Are You Dead Yet?’. It is not all same old Bodom, though. There are parts that display the band trying new things such as the technical guitar work and melodic keyboards on Hecate’s Nightmare. It is not something that I would have expected to hear from these guys but it works surprisingly well.

In summary, ‘Hexed’ shows how much Children of Bodom have evolved over the years. Where some of their previous albums failed to leave a lasting impression, getting stale after a few listens, here the songs stand out. While it lacks the “WOW!” factor of their best work, it is a strong album that will definitely please their fans both old and new.

4/5

Iza Raittila

 

Сандарния – К оружию!

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 23rd February 2019 by mickbirchy

Сандарния (Sandarnia)
К оружию! (To Arms!)
Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
Released: 9th December 2018
Self Released


This has been a really interesting album to get into. Mainly because it’s the first album I’ve ever reviewed that is not in English. So, before we start, I just want to say that I don’t speak Russian so somethings will be lost on me. Yet, I still think this is a solid record. I think it’s important to discover as much of the world as possible and music bridges that gap much easier. When I first took a listen to the new album from Sandarnia I was immediately drawn into their passion, presence and their overall tone. This band is the brainchild of Russian musician Alexander Kuznetsov and it contains some incredible performances by a variety of awesome musicians.

To Arms! is an awesome record and it feels massive. The production is so bold on every song. It just flows so well from one track to the next, with heavy guitar, a bold bass tone and terrific drum work. If there’s one thing that this project has, it’s a great sense of tone. Every tune is dramatic and it sounds big. It’s like a heavy metal orchestra. One thing I do like about this record is the variety in vocal performances. Different tunes have different singers and each one brings something brilliant to the table. One performance that I did enjoy was Daria Mikolaevskaya’s on the song “Та, что встретит с тобой смерть”. I found this song to be impressive, with its sweeping melodies and excellent musicianship.

Now, there does lie the potential to alienate a wider audience by not making it in English. I will say that and that can put some people off. Yet, I think it’s something they overcome quite well. The music is largely accessible and if you’re into this sort of this already then, then I would highly recommend giving them a chance. Also, the production, whilst impressive, can be lacking at times, with the guitars and bass sometimes mixed over the top of the vocals and that can be a little distracting at times.

Overall, I would say that this was a rather impressive listening experience. The songs are epic and the band just have the charisma of megastars. If you like your power metal bands then, Sandarnia is well worth your time. To Arms! Is an amazing epic of a record that ends on a couple of excellent covers with “Warcraft 2 Theme – Tides of Darkness” and the “Game of Thrones Theme”. If you want some good power metal in your life that you may have never considered before, this is the band for you.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Iza’s Highlights of 2018

Posted in Alternative, Editorial/Opinionated, Industrial, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2018 by izaforestspirit

It’s that time of the year again! Time for my annual best of list or “highlights” as I prefer to call them. This year I have decided to do just one list rather than two separate ones for metal and non-metal. The main reason for this is that there have not been too many industrial/EBM releases that caught my attention this year. So without further ado, here are my top ten albums of 2018:

1. Powerwolf – The Sacrament of Sin
Genre: Power Metal
Powerwolf - The Sacrament of Sin

The German power metal wolves are back with a new album. And what an album it is!! I honestly cannot get enough of it. It may not be very profound as far as the themes go but it is hell of a lot of fun. Stand-out tracks are ‘Fire & Forgive’, ‘Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ and ‘Nightside of Siberia’.

2. Lord of The Lost – Thornstar
Genre: Dark Rock/Gothic Industrial Metal
Image result for lord of the lost thornstar
I absolutely adore this band. They combine the best of dark rock with Gothic metal and Deathstars-like industrial metal. ‘Thornstar’ has to be their greatest and most complex album to date. In order to fully understand the concept, I would recommend that you download the 21 paged ‘Thornstar backstory’ from the band’s website. It’s a fascinating read that offers some insight into Pangaean history and culture. Alternatively you can simply enjoy music. Stand-out tracks are ‘On This Rock I Will Build My Church’, ‘Haythor’ and ‘Black Halo’.

3. Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest
Genre: Blackened Death Metal

Behemoth are back with their long-awaited new album. As I mentioned in my review, this is not ‘The Satanist part 2’ but rather a mixture of both old and new Behemoth styles. It takes a few listens but once you get into it your patience will be rewarded. Stand-out tracks are ‘Wolves ov Siberia’ and ‘Bartzabel’.

4. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura
Genre: Melodic Black Metal/Oriental Metal
閃靈 - 政治 / Battlefields of Asura
My favourite oriental metal band are back. Their latest album might not be a memorable as ‘Bú Tik’ but it has its moments. Music-wise it offers more of Chthonic’s unique blend of melodic black metal, death metal and oriental folk music with the addition of some choirs and guest vocals from the Cantopop singer Denise Ho. Stand-out tracks are ‘A Crimson Sky’s Command’ and ‘Millennia’s Faith Undone’.

5. MONO Inc. – Welcome to Hell
Genre: Gothic Rock/Dark Rock
Image result for MONO INC WELCOME TO HELL cover
More Gothic rock…’ Welcome to Hell’ is my favourite MONO Inc. album to date. Their music is essentially melodic hard rock but it also has this wonderful, eerie Gothic feel. Stand-out tracks are ‘Long Live Death’, A Vagabond’s Life’ and Reign of Rats’.

6. Grimner – Vanadrottning
Genre: Folk Metal/Viking Metal
Grimner - Vanadrottning

I had the pleasure of reviewing this album earlier this year. It’s been a long while since I’ve heard any folk metal that was this good. I would recommend this to fans of Finntroll, Ensiferum and Månegarm. Stand-out tracks are ‘Vanadrottning’ and ‘En Fallen Jätte’.

7. Monstrosity – The Passage Of Existence
Genre – Death Metal
Monstrosity - The Passage of Existence
My kind of death metal and my favourite death metal album of 2018. It is hard to pick out a stand-out track since in all honestly I like them all but ‘Kingdom of Fire’ and ‘Maelstrom’ are the ones that stuck in my head the most.

8. Hanzel und Gretyl – Satanik Germanik
Genre: Industrial Metal/Groove Metal/Extreme Metal
Hanzel und Gretyl - Satanik Germanik
‘Satanik Germanik’ is Hanzel und Gretyl’s heaviest and most metal album. As mentioned in my review it is darker and more serious than the material from the “Fukken Über’ era, much like its predecessor ‘Black Forest Metal’. Luckily that does not make it any less fun. Stand-out tracks are ‘I Am Bad Luck’ and the party song ‘Trinken Mit Der Kaizer (Die Bierz From Hell)’

9. Scandroid – The Darkness
Genre: Synthwave
Image result for scandroid the darkness
One of the few electronic releases that made it to my top 10. ‘The Darkness’ is the third album from Klayton (Celldweller/Circle of Dust)’s synthwave project Scandroid. Delightful retro synthesizer tunes, a little guitar and melodic vocals all with a futuristic feel. Stand-out tracks ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Red Planet’.

10. Auger – The Awakening
Genre: Darkwave
Image result for auger the awakening
A new discovery for me. I really enjoyed Auger’s show at Lumous Gothic Festival 2018. This British dark wave duo combine the best of darkwave and Gothic rock. I would recommend their debut album to fans of Blutengel, Gothminister and The Vision Bleak. Stand-out tracks are ‘Monster’ and ‘My Guardian’.

Honourable mentions:

Xentrifuge – Desensitized Parallels, Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods, Psyclon Nine – Icon of The Adversary. All good albums but with only a few outstanding tracks they missed out on a space in my top ten list.
IAMX’s latest album ‘Alive in The New Light’ also came out of the start of this year. While it didn’t make my top ten I did enjoy it, especially the track ‘Mile Deep Hollow’.
Check out the video here:

Best live show of 2018: Helloween live at South Park Festival in Tampere.
Biggest New Discovery: Auger
Most anticipated albums in 2019:
Blutengel – Un:Gott
Blue Stahli – Obsidian
Also hopefully new albums by Helloween and Rammstein.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Iza Raittila

Guardians of Time – Tearing Up The World

Posted in Metal with tags , , on 22nd December 2018 by izaforestspirit

Guardians of Time
Tearing Up The World
Released 19th October 2018
Power Metal
Released via ROAR! Rock of Angels Records

Guardians of Time - Tearing Up the World

‘Tearing Up The World’ is the new album from the Norwegian power metal band Guardians of Time. The band has been around since the late 1990s and their line-up includes the current vocalist of Suspiria as well as guitarist Paul Olsen (ex-Trail of Tears). This release features guest performances from Abbath and Tim “Ripper” Owens (ex-Judas Priest/ ex-Iced Earth).

Power metal is one of those genres that I prefer enjoy in small doses. There are a few notable exceptions; power metal bands that I happily tune into all year around including Sabaton, Powerwolf and Helloween. Generally speaking though, this is the type of music that sounds best on a sunny, summer day at a festival when enjoying a cold beer. I have the beverage part sorted but it does not change the fact that I am listening to this on a cold, snowy, December night in Finland with maximum of 5 hours of daylight in this season… What does fit this setting though are Abbath’s backing vocals in the title track. After all, Abbath is best known for his work with the black metal band Immortal who are all about the grim and the frostbitten. Then there are the references to snow, ice and Norse mythology in Valhalla Awaits. Now that’s more like it…

Yet there is no getting away from the predominant style of slightly cheesy but ultimately very traditional power metal. Luckily there are no overblown keyboard tunes and the vocals are not overly squeaky and the guitar work is pretty good. I could list a whole bunch of power metal bands that sound similar but I honestly do not see the point. Even for those who are not familiar with the band, the band name and the album cover should be a big clue of what kind of music you can expect to hear. Oh yes, what we have here are twelve tracks of energetic, fast and catchy power metal with the focus being principally on the guitars. It is full steam ahead from start to finish with not a single slow track or ballad in sight. Take the aforementioned Valhalla Awaits for example – it is probably the fastest track on the album, with guitar riffs galore and powerful vocals, all of which combined make the song just perfect for headbanging. So what if the lyrics are a little cheesy… As I Burn also deserves a mention with Tim “Ripper” Owens doing guest vocals. His vocal style is a touch more aggressive than Mr. Fjellestad’s and the dual vocals work well with the crunchy guitars and the pounding drums to create a powerful song.

In summary, the season might be wrong but I’ve had lots of fun reviewing ‘Tearing Up The World’ and it definitely put me in a good mood. If power metal is your thing then there is a lot to like on here especially if you are a fan of bands such as Three Inches of Blood and Helloween.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Children of Bodom reveal new album details

Posted in Metal, Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , , on 30th November 2018 by izaforestspirit

Children of Bodom have recently announced that their new album, the follow up to ‘I Worship Chaos’, will be called ‘Hexed’.

Check out the track-listing and cover art below:

1. The Road
2. Under Grass and Clover
3. Glass Houses
4. Hecate’s Nightmare
5. Kick in the Spleen
6. Platitudes and Barren Words
7. Hexed
8. Relapse (The Nature of My Crime)
9. Say Never Look Back
10. Soon Departed
11. Knuckleduster
12. I Worship Chaos (live)
13. Morrigan (live)
14. Knuckleduster (remix)

Children of Bodom - Hexed

‘Hexed’ is scheduled to hit the shops worldwide on 8th March 2019 via Nuclear Blast Records. This will be the band’s first album with their new rhythm guitarist Daniel Freyberg who joined the band in 2016 replacing Roope Latvala.

For more details visit:

https://www.facebook.com/childrenofbodom

http://www.cobhc.com/site/

Thorium – Thorium

Posted in Metal with tags , , , , on 17th November 2018 by izaforestspirit

Thorium
Thorium
Released 9th November 2018
Heavy Metal/Melodic Power Metal
Released via Rock N’ Growl Records

Thorium - Thorium

‘Thorium’ is the debut album from the Belgian heavy metal band of the same name. Thorium was formed two years ago and their line-up includes former members of Ostrogoth.

Just in case the connection to the band Ostrogoth was not obvious, this album includes a song called Ostrogoth. It’s an entertaining, albeit a little cheesy, piece of melodic power metal with powerful vocals and good guitar work. I like how they managed to get the guitars to mimic the sound of galloping horses towards the latter half of the track. Watch out, the Ostrogoths are coming!! Some of the songs reminded me of early works of Helloween, mostly due to the pace and the similarities in the vocal style.

There are also elements of traditional heavy metal and thrash metal on here. This is evident in tracks such as Godspeed with its catchy chorus as well as more varied but no less cheerful-sounding guitar melodies. They continue with the same mixture of heavy metal and power metal for the rest of the album. The final track Four by Number, Four by Fate is one of those that listeners are either going to love or hate. It definitely stands out on here for numerous reasons. Let’s start with the length – it’s just short of sixteen minutes which is very long even for a ballad. The style is a mish-mash of everything ranging from acoustic guitar instrument parts, progressive guitar riffs, power metal, heavy metal to some thrash metal thrown in just to keep you on your toes. Personally I think this might have worked better if it was broken up into two separate tracks.

Overall, Thorium’s debut album has a lot of things going for it. They have created a good balance of catchy and melodic heavy metal with enough variety to keep the listener entertained. I think that fans of power metal and heavy metal will enjoy it, especially those who are into Helloween and Iron Maiden.

3.5/5
Iza Raittila