Archive for Power Metal

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

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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

Kilmara – Across The Realm of Time

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , on 9th September 2018 by izaforestspirit

Kilmara
Across The Realm of Time
Released 31st August 2018
Heavy Metal / Power Metal
Released via Rock of Angels Records

Kilmara - Across the Realm of Time

‘Across The Realm of Time’ is the new album from the Spanish heavy metal band Kilmara. They have been around since 2003 and have undergone various line-up changes. This is the first album to feature their new singer Dani Ponce who joined the band in 2015.

My knowledge of the Spanish metal scene is very limited. Most of the bands I am familiar with are no longer active so it’s about time that I checked out something new… The description for this album was fairly vague – “melodic metal” could potentially mean anything from heavy metal, power metal, atmospheric metal ,progressive metal or even Gothic metal. Power metal on the other hand, is one of those genres that ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. At it’s best it will entertain you and fill your mind with wonderful stories of fantasy adventures or epic historic battles. At its worst, it’s just cheesy, and so badly over-the-top that it becomes irritating after a few listens. That is why there are only a few power metal bands I regularly listen to.

So let’s see what category Kilmara fit into…. Well, for one thing it’s not cheesy so that is a good thing. The vocals are melodic and powerful but not high pitched, which is another plus. The use of keyboards is minimal and very sporadic and most of the emphasis is on the guitars. Fantasy adventure is a highly plausible theme based on the track tiles, the cover art and the cinematic style intro. So far so good… Some tracks have a hard rock feel to them – such as the mid-paced I Shall Rise Again, which is one of the more melodic songs on here. It’s one of those moments when the vocals are in harmony with the guitars, complementing each other. Mr. Ponce’s duet with guest vocalist Viktorie Surmøva works well and I can’t fault the guitar work either.

Principle of Hatred initially caught my attention due to the middle-eastern style acoustic guitar intro. A nice touch which I didn’t see coming. The rest of the song is essentially pure power metal, not too far removed from the likes of Helloween. Once again the vocals work a treat and the guitar work is top notch. Similar things can be said about The Forge except that song has a more aggressive stance when it comes to the guitars.

In summary, ‘Across The Realm of Time’ features a mixture of various styles ranging from heavy metal via hard rock to power metal. All the songs are well executed, not overly cheesy, melodic but not progressive. There is a lot to like on here if you’re a fan of these genres, especially power metal.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Powerwolf – The Sacrament of Sin

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , on 24th July 2018 by izaforestspirit

Powerwolf
The Sacrament of Sin
Released 20th July 2018
Power Metal
Released via Napalm Records

Powerwolf - The Sacrament of Sin

The German wolfpack have returned. Even before hearing the music I had to take a few minutes just to admire the album title – ‘The Sacrament of Sin’. How ironic, ludicrous, perhaps even blasphemous, yet so very typical of Powerwolf. Ever since discovering this band I’ve always liked their song titles. Unlike their Swedish brethren Sabaton, these guys like to add some humor to their lyrics. You won’t find too many epic tales inspired by historical events in their songs but there will be werewolves, other horror themes, references to religion, theatrical and grandiose vocals that occasionally mimic a church choir.

Let’s start with my favorites, the songs that have been in my head for weeks even before the album was released thanks to the videos. My personal favorite Fire & Forgive is just classic Powerwolf doing what they do best. Catchy chorus, check. Bombastic orchestration, powerful vocals and ultra catchy guitar riffs, check. Latin chants and church music in the background, hell yes! Fire away guys! Then there’s the fabulously titled Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend. To call the lyrics cheesy would be a gross understatement. They’re not even cheesy, they are syrupy, dripping with ultra sweet, sticky ‘wickedness’. As with anything sweet it would probably be better in small doses but who can resist the temptation? Oh, and the video; I haven’t seen anything as ridiculously funny since Blutengel’s ‘Reich Mir Dir Hand’. Yet laugh as I may, every time I hear it or watch the video it doesn’t change the fact that I still find myself singing along and playing it repeatedly.

There were a few moments on here where the music reminded me of Sabaton. Incense & Iron is an example of this, not just because of the lyrics such as “Stand, Follow the fight..”
It’s also war-themed and keyboard driven and features a touch of folk metal due to the bagpipe sounds. The only surprise comes in the form of a piano ballad called Where The Wild Wolves Have Gone. This not unusual for Powerwolf; they have made songs like this before, but on this album it definitely stands out due to the slower pace and overall style.

Overall, I have really enjoyed ‘The Sacrament of Sin’. There isn’t a song on here that I dislike though some are more memorable than others. It’s more consistent than their previous album and it is up there with their best works. Powerwolf fans will be pleased and if you’re new to the band this works as a good introduction.

4.5/5

Iza Raittila

South Park Festival 2018

Posted in Festival, Live, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , on 10th June 2018 by izaforestspirit

Helloween, Accept, Amorphis
Eteläpuisto, Tampere, Finland
8th-9th June 2018

Tampere’s prime metal festival South Park was back on this year after a brief hiatus in 2017. It’s a two day event but I only attended the Saturday. This year marked the return of the band that I discovered at the same festival three years ago – the one and only German power metal legend Helloween.

I arrived a little later so I missed the first two bands but just in time to see some of Amorphis. They’re one of the most recognizable bands within the Finnish metal scene and they seem to feature in most of the country’s festivals. I’ve seen them live a bunch of times before so I pretty much knew what to expect. I like their old albums though I lost track of them after ‘Silent Waters’. This was another solid performance, well executed melodic death metal. It’s always good to hear ‘House of Sleep’ and other favourites. So a good start to the night. 4/5

Next up was the Finnish thrash metal quartet Lost Society. They played some fairly decent-sounding thrash metal; sadly I’m not too familiar with their music so I could not appreciate it fully. 3/5

I did enjoy watching the Swedish heavy metal outfit Mustasch though. Their music is a mixture of Motörhead-style heavy metal with some elements of stoner metal. It’s probably not the kind of thing that I would listen to at home but it was fun to watch at a summer festival. 3.5/5

This was the second time that I’ve seen S-Tool live. For those who haven’t heard of them before, it’s a new band from Ville Laihiala (ex-Sentenced, Poisonblack). As a big a fan Mr. Laihiala’s other bands, particularly Sentenced, I was looking forward to seeing S-Tool. Music-wise, it’s essentially picking up from where Poisonblack left off only without the Gothic elements. Good show! I enjoyed it a bit more than the last time. 4/5

German heavy metal legends Accept were one of the day’s headliners and one of the main bands that I wanted to see. They put on one hell of a show. I’m not familiar with their recent material but it was great to hear some of the old classics such as ‘Balls to The Wall’, ‘Fast as a Shark’ and my personal favourite ‘Metal Heart’. 5/5

There’s not an awful lot I can say about Mokoma. They have a sizeable following here in their home country. Their performance was good but I’m not familiar with their music. 3.5/5

Then it was time for the night’s main headlining act Helloween. This show was special because it featured all three of the band’s vocalists from past to present together on stage. That’s right, all of them – Kai Hansen (the original founder of the band), Michael Kiske and their current vocalist Andi Deris performed together as part of the Pumpkins United tour. It was really good to hear some of the old classics such as ‘Heavy Metal (Is the Law) and ‘Halloween’ along with some of the more recent hits such as ‘Are You Metal?’ They also played one of my personal favorites ‘If I Could Fly’ from ‘The Dark Ride’ album. Fantastic show! 5/5

 

In summary I had a great time at South Park even if it was just for one day. It was worth it especially for Accept and Helloween. Amorphis and S-Tool were pretty good too. If the line-up is this good next year I will definitely come back again.
Iza Raittila