Archive for self release

Breaking Today – It Dies Today

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 28th August 2020 by Pieni

Breaking Today
“It Dies Today” (EP)
Punk rock
Self-released on 13th July 2020

breakingtoday

He may be the bass player in a metalcore band, but Luís Silva is a punk rocker. And he plays guitar. And he sings! And so Breaking Today was born.

The single for the title-track was released three years ago already – the original idea was for the EP to follow suit but, well, life happened… – and it’s indeed its most “single material”. All four songs have their own way of rocking your senses and lingering in your ear, but “It Dies Today” has that upbeat catchiness that sticks right away; you listen to it once, and by the second time you do, you’re already singing along the chorus. At least that’s what happened with me.

But first comes “Dropout”, faster, feistier, and therefore the right choice for opening track. And because punks have feelings too (please see a joke here and not an offense), the ballad “Save Me” delivers the right mellow touch. The strongest bass line – I won’t say the backbone but certainly one of the essences of punk rock – comes last, in the founding layers “Heavy Lies The Crown” was built on.

I won’t say Breaking Today is recommended for fans of this or that band, because a) it would look like I’m making comparisons and that’s just not fair, and b) every time someone tells me “oh if you like this you’ll definitely like that”, they fail miserably. So I’ll just say “It Dies Today” covers all the juicy feats of good ol’ punk rock and everyone who’s into that should at least give it a try – even if this turns out to be an “only child”. Not sure about this last part, mind me. All it’s been said is they don’t have any plans of playing live, and that frontman Luis’ dream has been fulfilled. Personally, I would like pretty much to listen to a follow-up, but if it doesn’t happen, this one’s worth it.

 7,5/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

American Jetset – Saloon Rock Whiskey Pop

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 15th June 2020 by Pieni

American Jetset
“Saloon Rock Whiskey Pop”
Rock
Self-released on 8th April 2020

saloon

“Saloon Rock Whiskey Pop” is said to be American Jetset’s first full length album, but as it features only six songs, I’d call it an EP instead… Whatever the term, its contents live up pretty much to its title, delivering that kind of rock which isn’t exactly hard but it’s harder than pop and that you expect to hear in a bar, while having a few drinks with a bunch of friends.
Personally, I’d like the voice to sound a bit more… passionate, but then it would probably make it feistier and closer to hard rock, and that’s probably not American Jetset’s goal. They play rock – period. And the whole guitar work – meaning solos, riffs, licks… – it’s already spicy enough to ignite a sparkle in your ear and then the rest just follows naturally. I must highlight the bass line in “Walking Contradiction”, as it’s very bold, but sadly it stays in the background in the other songs. Still plays an important role in the whole outcome, but it doesn’t stand out as in that first song. “1000 Ghosts” shows a more upbeat side of the band and “Never Be Goodbye” is the mandatory ballad, all acoustic, clapping hands on the chorus – which features the album title – and on the non-clapping parts you easily imagine the hands of the crowd holding a lighter (yeah, a lit cellphone will probably be more accurate, but a lighter gives out a more traditional vibe, fitting better in the mood). Meaning they cover all key bases of rock in about half an hour of juicy music.

7/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Blame Zeus – Theory Of Perception

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 4th March 2017 by Pieni

Blame Zeus
“Theory Of Perception”
Alternative Rock
Self-released on 4th March 2017

Theory of Perception_zpspdwp6exh

Blame Zeus started out as progressive rock but have now engaged in a more straight-forward direction – less technicalities, same elegance. Maybe that’s why “Queen” wasn’t included in this new album (either that or they totally revamped it and renamed it, but I honestly doubt it). “Queen” was a song they introduced live almost a year ago, at the last gig with the line-up they had at the time, and I remember saying that whatever changes were on the way, that song sounded pretty much like the Blame Zeus we all knew. I’m glad I was wrong. Not that I didn’t like their original sound, don’t get me wrong! I just find it more interesting when a band has more than one side (if you’ve read my reviews before, you’ve probably seen me using the expression “diversity is the spice of life” more than once). And “Theory Of Perception” offers some heavy, feisty stuff (“Slaughter House”, “Miles”) contrasting with gracious melancholy (“More Or Less”, “Entertainment Clown”); the rough seduction of “All Inside Your Head” and the loose rock of “Redemption”; the weepy electric solo in “The Moth” and the seventies acoustic heartache of “Signs”. Twelve new songs with distinct traits but one in common – the strong but very feminine voice of Sandra Oliveira.
Tonight I’ll see how this works live. In the studio it works peachy.

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Assassinner – Another Sucker Subscribes To The Norm [single]

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 30th September 2016 by Pieni

Assassinner
“Another Sucker Subscribes To The Norm” [single]
thrash/crossover
Self-released in May 2016

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Assassinner’s “aggressive music for aggressive people” seems to have toned down a little bit in this 2-track single; either that or producer Carlos Barbosa made each instrument sound so sharp that I’m mistaking classy, high definition for less raw music. Whichever the case, the outcome is what I want to hear in the next full-length record.

I remind you that I said “less aggressive than usual”, not that the aggression was gone, so don’t be fooled by the A-Side title “Sweet Lullaby”. Unless you use “sweet” as “cool/great/peachy” when expressing your appreciation for that ominous mantra-like guitar piece towards the end, which can turn this song into an ear-worm.
Still my favorite is the B-Side, “Hate Over Grown”, as I’m a sucker (no pun intended…) for a vibrant bass line and there’s also something about the main riff. In a time when singles are somewhat underrated, Assassinner came up with something worthy.

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Aktaion – The Parade Of Nature

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 29th August 2016 by Pieni

Aktaion
“The Parade Of Nature”
melodic death metal
Self-released on 29th July 2016

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“The Parade Of Nature”, Aktaion’s sophomore album, is said to be for “fans of Soilwork, Killswitch Engage, Gojira – which I find quite misleading. “Candid Flow Of The Shrapnel Dust” has indeed a whiff of Gojira but it soon vanishes away; it’s mostly the melodic part in “melodic death metal” that’s far too gloomy – almost depressive – that make the aforementioned recommendation unfit. It doesn’t mean fans of those bands won’t like this, of course, but they wouldn’t be the first, or even the second target audience to come to my mind.

I’m having really mixed feelings about this. The technical guitar structure (like in “Gold Coloured Dreams”), with Christopher Amott throwing in some killer solos in a few songs (listen to the title track), all the experiments with the vocals – both clean and rough (“Walrus March”) – plus the occasional almost-prog shifts in tempo and the long duration of the tracks, all these features scream originality, which I always praise. But somehow the final outcome is messy. Maybe that’s Aktaion’s goal, as these songs are meant to reflect “a time with no hope nor a bright future” – and that they surely do.

3/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

The End Of Grace – Unity

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 3rd June 2016 by Pieni

The End Of Grace
“Unity” [EP]
metalcore
Released: 3rd June 2016
Via Ilumnirec

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If you know The End Of Grace and have been following their story, you may find this title a bit ironic, given the recent major line-up change in the band. I see it the other way around, a tribute to what makes us one and not what divides us (check the words on the artwork – they’re not exactly random). First of all, the departure of 3/5 of the band had nothing to do with falling outs – it’s just life and its usual way of forcing people to make hard choices; they may not partake in the songwriting and performance anymore but they’ll always be a part of TEoG. And then there’s founder Jimmy Bergman’s passion for this project, which will keep it alive no matter what – a true unity with music.

Now that you have my two pennies on the title, let’s go for what really matters. When I’ve last spoken to the boys (interview here) they told me there would be more breakdowns They weren’t fooling around! All songs are much richer in that department, making them sound heavier, thicker. Well, all except the ballad “Fighting For Another Day” (I still smile at the term “ballad” when Kriss Clark is busting up his throat to growl like that, but there’s no other thing to call such bleeding melody) – this one has its own heaviness and there’s no need for extra breakdowns for that.

There’s also more riffs/more elaborate guitar structure, more meaningful lyrics and a better complicity between the aforementioned growls of Kriss and the clean tones of Johan. I had the chance to see “The End Of Grace” (yes, they named a song after themselves) in concert (report here) and witness how such briskness works live. Well let me tell you that “If You Fall”, “Never Break” and “Trigger” will cause the same restless effect. This is what metalcore is all about.

It’s been already three years since the release of “Lost In Transition” but it seems like yesterday, as those songs keep rolling on my playlists. I’m pretty certain the same will happen with “Unity”.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Dog Tired – It Came From The Sun

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 22nd April 2016 by Paul Macmillan

Dog Tired
It Came From The Sun
Released April 30th 2016
Heavy metal
Self-released

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Dog Tired have been a solid metal staple of the Scottish scene for many years, now. Elements of Pantera, Machine Head, and Lamb Of God have always been part of their well-rounded character, smeared over with a bit of tongue-in-cheek swagger. Their first two albums, Dead Head Rebel and Titan were both very well received by those who experienced them, and you should really hear them first for a full background, but It Came From The Sun is somewhat of a new beast.

The whole package on this latest release has taken on a more professional veneer. While there’s still a fair ol’ whack of high tempo shenanigans, it is delivered within the bounds of a more laid back, comfortable feel; DT have certainly heaped on the sludge attitude for this one. I wouldn’t out-and-out say that they have re-invented themselves. They have redefined with a sense of maturity which, while not previously absent, has massively developed.

The step-up in production has certainly helped them to achieve this, bringing a more streamlined sound – epic vocals and huge guitars – giving much needed breathing space to the new material. The lyrical content seems to have taken on a more serious bent as well. On first quick spin, I honestly wasn’t sure if I liked missing out on the ‘Mad Jack’s and the ‘Booze Hound’s of old, but that fear was quickly annihilated by the roars of ‘history repeats itself’ and ‘Dominus victorious’. It’s blatant that effort has been lavished on this aspect of the creative process, in order to match up to the advances in the instrumental aesthetics.

In total, it’s become a lot harder, if not irrelevant to compare them to the bands above, and it seems that this is now the sound they always aimed for; part ‘90s, part swedeath, part sludge, part hardcore, all fresh, driven metal. At any rate, this is pretty exciting, for DT, for their existing fans, and for those yet to discover them. Hopefully they will turn out more material of a similar ilk. This album is one (slightly unexpectedly) grim monster, and will hunt you down in your metal dreams. Earmark it as a future classic!

5/5

Paul Macmillan

Cairo Son – Storm Clouds

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 26th February 2016 by mickbirchy

Cairo Son
Storm Clouds
Rock, Grunge, Stoner, Blues
Released: 18th March 2016
Self released

The British rockers have been growing in popularity for some time and with their new album Storm Clouds on the horizon, pun totally intended, the trio look to expand.  Cairo Son, from London, mix together the hypnotic rhythm of blues and stoner rock and the heaviness and intensity of heavy metal and grunge to create a really fascinating listen. Their riffs are precise and sharp, with heavy bass that thunders in the background of the production. With their debut “Heart Against The Feather” backing them up, the band look to capitalise on that with this upcoming album in 2016.

The album opens with that riff styling I’ve mentioned already. It captivates you and makes you want to hear more. “Lost in the Shadow” is dark and twisted and uses the bluesy tone to its advantage.  Letting the music do its job of creating a dark and twisted sound, as the vocals are entrancing over the top. The harmonies on this album are simply lovely and really invoke that early 90’s grunge/stoner sound that they’re clearly aiming for.  The strong and powerful vocals really counter the music perfectly as it’s quite subdued. The two singles from this album “Lion in a Cage” and “Devil’s Tongue” are well performed, with anthemic choruses and hard-hitting riffs.  It brings to mind the early 2000’s nu-metal scene.  At the same time though it’s not as petty or whiny as that.  There genuinely seems to be a great sense of command and power to their performance here.

Although there aren’t many tracks, it still reaches a substantial length thanks to the near 11 minute epic that is the album’s title track “Storm Clouds” which drudges along at that bluesy pace. However, the song never feels like it’s dragging you by the nose to get through it.  The run time is justified as a lot of emotion comes out in this song and it feels very grandiose, like the band were aiming for something big. It hits all of the points you’d want a song like this to hit. I love Magdy’s voice on this song, he just matches the tone to the words and to the music so well.  It really does feel epic.

As you can probably tell I’m loving this album.  I can’t really name any drawbacks, it just works for me.  Is it for everyone?  Honestly, no but I feel that there is an audience for it.  A big audience. People who like well crafted riffs and emotional melodies will love this. However if you’re not into music that takes its time with bluesy sounds and heavy riffs then you’re probably not going to have a good time with this. Overall, I loved it and I would recommend giving it a listen.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Eradikator – Edge Of Humanity

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 9th December 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Eradikator
Edge Of Humanity
Released July 17th 2015
Thrash metal
Self-released

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Having been a fan of Eradikator before the release of Edge Of Humanity, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect; full on Bay Area style thrash, and that is exactly what has been delivered. When all is said and done, thrash really was over played and rehashed for a long time of late, but every so often one stumbles across an absolute gem of a band. Eradikator are definitely one such discovery.

Even the casual listener will definitely be able to pick out some big influences. Megadeth, Metallica, and Testament are emblazoned shamelessly on the denim vest of Eradikator’s cannon, so much so that you could firmly believe they were spawned in the same era. In spite of this, every blast from this record is the band’s own, and the similarities, strong as they may be, are blended throughout as tribute rather than replication.

This is a cumulative effect, as each member brings their own slice of genius to the table. Pat Cox’s vocals, while holding a Hetfield-esque timbre, are also reminiscent of Chuck Billy before illness gave him that demonic growl. Matched with incredibly well-crafted lyrics, they nestle comfortably between Andy MacNevin and Liam Priest’s wide array of progressive thrash, and the Nick Menza backbone provided by drummer Jon MacNevin (yes, they are related). If only those artists were still putting out albums of this calibre.

Capturing the intensity and excitement of the original movers and shakers of the scene, particularly late 80s releases, Edge Of Humanity is a prime example of what many have tried to do and failed. Eradikator totally own this sound, with creative riffs and structures, and have well and truly raised the bar for future classic thrash bands to reach.

5/5

Paul Macmillan

King Witch – Shoulders Of Giants

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 19th November 2015 by Paul Macmillan

King Witch
Shoulders Of Giants [EP]
Released November 09th 2015
Doom / classic metal
Self-released

King Witch - Shoulders Of Giants

Kicking off with an eerie intro to the title track, the real fun with King Witch’s debut EP, Shoulders Of Giants, starts when they cut to the chase with their strange concoction of slightly black, doomed-up, sludgy trad metal. Although this may leave you expecting a drawling beast of a record, lumbering on at tectonic velocity, there’s actually quite the rapid flow at times, and in shying from self-indulgence, King Witch make every shot count, never lingering in one territory for too long.

They also seem to have access to bottomless pockets of metal-ology into which to delve in the quest to keep things engaging. While Black Sabbath are riding high in the Shoulders… world, there is equally a shadow of Death looming ominous on the barren horizon, casting a prog-metal tone over the landscape. When you have three tracks of doom to state your case to the world, set to diverge at several musical tangents, it should be self-apparent why KW have seemingly made efforts to keep things moving along fairly swiftly.

The warlock on top of the mountain, however, we have still to address here. As some may already know, King Witch included the talents of long-term partners in crime, Laura Donnelly and Jamie Gilchrist, formerly operating in the much lauded Firebrand Super Rock. Where Gilchrist’s guitar work shines through as part of the musical character described above, Donnelly provides what is quite simply ultimate power, full blast, metal vocals; a classic delivery in the realms of Tony ‘The Cat’ Martin or Brittney Slayes, with the slightly cheesy undertones switched out for something altogether darker.

Although this is their first release, and they only formed in 2015, this is something special, and King Witch could well make a significant dent in the scene in 2016 if they keep up this level of work. There’s nothing quite like this kicking about at present, and it’s likely that any who tried to emulate it would fall far short of the mark. Powerful, professional and unique.

4/5

Paul Macmillan

The Paradigm Complex – Amygdalopolis

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 8th November 2015 by Paul Macmillan

The Paradigm Complex
Amygdalopolis
Released November 1st 2015
Progressive rock
Self-released

The Paradigm Complex - Amygdalopolis

This is quite simply one of the most bizarre things I think I’ve ever had the pleasure to analyse in the process of reviewing music. Really weird. Really, really weird. The Paradigm Complex are the genuine stuff of twisted fever dreams, and have elevated themselves beyond the state of yet-another-prog-band, to actually using their instruments (including frontwoman Alexandra Pawlitka’s voice) to tell a story.

Drafted in from classic Hammer Horror films, themes from lycanthropy to extra-terrestrial abduction are used to break up the main track of almost an hour into mini-stories, each with their own, highly characterised musical backdrop, and engaging storytelling. It is powerfully tangible how much thought, effort and ingenuity has gone into the creation of what is not just a music release, but essentially a piece of art. A certain Mr Zombie would quite possibly be a little jealous (as a director) of the effectiveness of The Paradigm Complex’s cultural appropriation.

As the recording spirals through various atmospheres, it’s difficult to pin down any continuous comparison to other artists, but they are there. There is a film score flavour akin to John Carpenter colliding with Goblin, liberally splattered with classic prog and acid rock, while the vocals meld from Bjork into Lacuna Coil, into Angelspit, and back again. There is also a thread of metal sewn into the fabric, but this is not a metal album, per se; it simply encompasses some of that spirit.

The project in its entirety is held together very aptly with bleak interludes, which serve to complement the neighbouring movements, and amalgamate this as one fluid piece, an apocalyptic infection creeping up the listener’s spine. It’s one wild trip, and White Rabbit is going to have to try mighty hard to survive this audio conflict between War Of The Worlds and The Walking Dead.

4.5/5

Paul Macmillan

Dirty Judas – Every Bullet Is Another Nail

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 7th August 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Dirty Judas
Every Bullet Is Another Nail
Self-released July 03rd 2015
Metal

Dirty Judas - Every Bullet Is Another Nail

I keep a very close eye on the local underground scene when it comes to metal. Dirty Judas, from Dundee, have been floating around the Scottish metalsphere for a while now, but it’s only with the release of debut full-length, Every Bullet Is Another Nail, that we start to see their potential. There’s a fire in the eyes in this release, and a will to deliver the vitriol with strokes made against the flow.

Influences are immediately on display here that may seem obvious to some, and not so much to others. The album as a whole sways from left to right, light to dark, and it’s most certainly an enjoyable ride. Epic, goth-washed choruses give way to chuntering hooks, and brutal growls are complimented by grungy harmonies. Even the spoken word sections make the Scottish accent sound cool; no easy task, it has to be said.

The character continues to shift throughout, from an enthusiastic bounce to a cold morbidity, not unlike Paradise Lost caught some audio-venereal groove syndrome from Pissing Razors or Konkhra. Yup, definitely Paradise Lost, and those moments truly send an ethereal shiver up the spine, before diving into, dare I say it, proto-nu-metal waters. Think really early Faith No More, beefed up to almost death metal levels, and maybe the first Korn album, re-written by Pepper Keenan.

Flipping the bird to genre boundaries, Dirty Judas have managed to walk the tightrope between variety and identity like a jaguar on crank; intense, and perfectly balanced between the two. Incredibly well rounded, and with a uniqueness which should inspire jealousy, Every Bullet… is a fantastic starting point for a band showing real personality. The chances are pretty much against you having heard them before now, but all serious metal fans should put giving this a spin on their to-be-achieved list.

4/5

Paul Macmillan

Mindshift – Horizon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 23rd July 2015 by Pieni

Mindshift
“Horizon”
Melodic death metal
Self-released on 15th May 2015

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If I got this right, “Horizon” is Mindshift’s third album. You’ll only find this and the previous one, “Evilution, In Time” on Spotify, but there’s reference to a certain “No Regrets”, from 2012. Not that it really matters, as I won’t make any comparisons; “Horizon” has a merit of its own, without the need of saying if it’s better, worse, or simply different from what Mindshift has done so far.

There’s melodic death metal all around the world, but we know damn well that the one that comes from Sweden has a certain… “something”. When you hear songs such as “Arise” or “Drowning”, when you hear that dynamic-heaviness-meets-sad-melody, you know exactly what I mean.

The title-track, on the other hand, has a more upbeat vibrancy embedded on an even stronger composition. It’s pretty understandable why the album was named after this one, and why there’s also a promotional video for it, although there are a lot of treats in “Horizon”. Like the menacing “Eye For An Eye”, the hints of prog halfway through “Suffer In Silence”, the groove and gloominess of “A Thousand Scars”, or the acoustic intro in “Reflections”, that yet isn’t as sentimental as the electric solo later on. And then you have Soilwork’s Björn “Speed” Strid adding an extra vocal power to the straightforward “My Revenge”, although, in that same right-on line of sound, I admit I prefer “Decay”.

These 13 songs (plus the intro “Origin” and the spoken interlude “Light”) embody a rich songwriting, full of details prone to become earworms. The old-school and the modern melodeath walk naturally hand-in-hand here, resulting in a very complete album within the genre. Complete and remarkable.

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Bloodyard – Darker Rage EP

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 8th June 2015 by mickbirchy

Bloodyard
Darker Rage
Black metal / groove metal
Release date: 27th June 2015
Self-release

Bloodyard are a death/groove metal band based in the North-West of England. The band consists of Donna Hurd on vocals, Nick Adamson on guitar, Dave Cowley on bass and Matty Lee on drums.  After the release of the their 2013 EP, Set To Fall they found reasonable success across the UK. Now, with their follow up EP “Darker Rage” they look to continue in their future and further their potential.  Their sound is this cool combination of groove tones, thrash rhythms and black metal style vocals.  It make for very interesting concoction. I find myself weirdly compelled by the stylistic choices of this EP. They have some great riffs and interesting ideas for songs. I’ve heard comparisons to Arch Enemy and I think that fits well enough.

The EP opens with “Epitaph” which has this really well worked riff and the whole song fits around it.  Along with a good bass groove, this song is fun and drives you to keep listening.  The vocals are well projected and powerful. I can’t say the drum work is spectacular but it does its job. This song, however, would be nothing without that excellent groove. Up next is “Sacred To None”.  Once again a solid riff and great groove.  This one clearly takes some influence from thrash metal.  The drums are well worked and frame the song nicely, and the vocals are still pretty good.  It’s around here, though, that I noticed a problem with this EP: the songs go by too quick.  Maybe that’s just me but just as I’m getting into the song, it ends.  Just as it gets interesting, I’m cut off and left wanting a little more.

Next up we have the title track “Darker Rage” This is just awesome.  Really enjoy this track.  The riff is solid and the whole song just feels rounded. One of those tracks that make you wanna just get up and headbang.  Throughout the EP, the writing is just consistent, everything is solid and it shows as the riffs and grooves are very enjoyable. The solos aren’t anything too special, but they serve the purpose fine, I have nothing against it.  Finally the last track is “Dead Relics” and it’s more of the same.  I don’t think I can add much else talking in a track-by-track sense.

So yeah, this is a pretty decent EP.  Yet, it does have its problems. The first thing you’ll probably notice is the production quality. It’s not great, everything sounds muffled and if it is mixed you couldn’t tell.  I get that not everyone has a big production budget, but yet, I’ve heard self-releases that sounds bloody amazing. So I don’t quite understand that.  Also every song on the EP follows pretty much the same structure.  Slow intro, speed into the song, have a solo, close out the song.  There’s just barely enough tweaks to make each track sound like a different song. Which to me is a little lazy and makes everything sound samey.  With an EP you should try to show off variety, I get the feeling this is a one trick pony.

To summerise, is this good? Well, yes and no.  If you’ve spent a lot of time around under the radar metal bands and you particularly like the sound of cheaper production on a metal record, then I say go get this.  That’s not to say there isn’t anything there, there’s so much potential in this band and I genuinely like the grooves and riff.  Those were the fun moments of the EP.  However, I know not everyone gets excited by a decently composed riff.  I like this EP, I think the band has a long way to go but I also think they have enough to get there.  They just need to be a bit more creative and think of a new structure for the songs.

2,5/5

Mick Birchall

Chapters – The Imperial Skies

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 24th May 2015 by mickbirchy

Chapters
“The Imperial Skies”
Progressive Metal

Released on 14th October 2013
Self Released

The Imperial Skies is brought to us by an awesome young British band called Chapters. Formed by Joe Nally and Angus Neyra of Hang The Bastard, I was already expecting top quality, as they are one of my favourite British bands that are going.  Yet, this is a far departure from the sound of HTB.  This is more of a tech/prog metal sound mixed with elements of hardcore.  It’s one of the more unique listening experiences I’ve had.

Straight from the get go, the album shows of the skill and sheer talent of the band.  The guitar skill is excellent with mind blowing licks, skill riffs and fun melodies.  The bass line are thick and compliment the songs melodies and harmonies beautifully.  The harsh tones are great, providing intensity and energy into the record.  The production of the record is awesome and mixed well. Not one element feels like it’s taking precedence over the others and it comes together really well.  Musically this album is all over the place, you can hear influence from all corners of the metal and rock globe.  In that sense this is a musicians band, as the more you understand about music the more enjoyable this album becomes. Not to say you can’t enjoy it if you’re not a musician, but it definitely helps.

As I’ve said, the album ranges but keeps within the theme of tech/prog metal. However, the hardcore elements of this record are fantastic; being a long time fan of the genre, I identified with these elements. They just have a real bite to them. It keeps you interested as a listener whilst the the more tech/prog elements take you on a journey through the songs.  I usually look for riffs on heavy albums but there aren’t any to speak of here. Yet, there are some cool riffy moments that certainly captured my imagination.

Songs I’ll recommend to you from this record are the title track “The Imperial Skies” (this one has a load of transitions and feels like the track that takes the most risks and shows off the band’s style) and “The Siren” (which is a fantastic tune with a load a heavy nail biting moments).

Overall, yeah, this is a solid record, you guys need to listen to it.  Really fun, heavy, interesting band.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Through The Cracks – Hateful Things [EP]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 10th May 2015 by Pieni

Through The Cracks
“Hateful Things” EP
Alt. rock
Self-release on 29th May 2015

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I’ve been keeping tabs on Through The Cracks ever since their first single “Breathless” was released – not only that’s a killer rock ballad, but I’m also well aware of Jimmy Bergman’s talent, from his work with The End Of Grace and other projects. And here I am now, listening to that faith being paid off.

“Learn To Run” follows the same path as “Breathless” (and “Marionette”, a second single that still featured Tillie Grundel on vocals), also flowing at an easygoing rhythm, but the fingering of the acoustic guitar sounds more delicate. On the other hand, the chorus has much more spirit, although always with that silky touch, intended to enthrall your sentimental side.

But as much power as they might put in their ballads, I was sure their writing would go beyond that. I must confess the dubstep in “Hateful Things” caught me a little off guard, but I should’ve known by now that there are no limits for Bergman’s creativity. Of course you’ll soon notice that no DJ is in the house, as the electronics are just spicing things up here and there. But the rest of the instruments already produce a loose, vibrant sound, making this the liveliest track in the EP. And the “more spirit” expression I used before? Well, those are pretty much the accurate words to describe Sara Lindberg’s wonderful voice and therefore more suitable than her predecessor for the wider goals this band intends to achieve.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always have the feeling that a piano can make a sad piece sound even sadder, melancholic even. And in music, such sadness is beautiful. That’s what you’ll hear coming out of the piano keys in “Mother” – a heartbreaking melody with a solid pulse. Just like its story, that tells you of a girl in a dark place holding on to hope by reaching to her mom.

If the latter is the most dramatic and “Hateful Things” the most cheerful, “Fail The Light” is the heaviest and sharpest song here, irreverence and determination in every note. Even that break with the string arrangements sounds defiant. Plus, towards the end, an extra touch of heaviness is added, courtesy of the boys’ harsh screams.

Four tracks, four flavors. Through The Cracks‘ songwriting trademark is not having one and I love them for it. After all, “variety is the spice of life”.

5 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Exile The Traitor – Winter Eternal

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 3rd May 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Exile The Traitor
“Winter Eternal” [EP]
Melodic Death Metal
Self-release
On 15th May 2015

Exile The Traitor - Winter Eternal

Kicking off Winter Eternal, Exile The Traitor make sure that listeners know they mean business from the beginning. Laments Of A Flesh Peddler opens up with an imperial and confident overtone, belying the band’s short existence. Switching between modern grooves, blasts, and d-beats, the drums – which can be a background feature in extreme music – are instantly noticeable, as is the intelligent use of alternating death and black metal vocals. Actually, every member seems to get their breathing space, which is something I’ve always enjoyed in extreme music.

The following numbers are no disappointment, either. This is the same ETT who grabbed the Scottish metal scene by the neck when they unleashed Necrology in 2012, but they are testing the waters of maturity already, and taking some chances in an environment which can be quite unforgiving. The original brutality is still consistent throughout, but there are fresh twists and turns brought into play here. Organic tremolo riffing, akin to that of Gojira in its memorability, stands shoulder to shoulder with the Swedish influenced death metal for which they are already known.

The shadow of At The Gates has long been one to haunt many, many bands who have sprung into existence in the last decade, and in a lot of cases (quite often justifiably) it has been drawn up as a negative. ETT are no carbon copy, though, pulling on numerous other wells to deliver a professional, bruising, original musical identity. That said, the reference is strong, and if you’re fully against that sort of thing, this probably won’t be for you, but I would suggest clearing the mind and giving it a shot, anyway.

The sum total of Winter Eternal far surpasses what one might expect of a band who are only at the stage of putting out their second EP (or demo, as we used to call them), and it’s terrifying to consider what Exile The Traitor could become with the right support behind them. There’s still some growing room in there, but if this is the direction they continue to spread their wings, it’ll be no bad thing.

4.5/5

by Paul Macmillan

Reign Of Fury – Death Be Thy Shepherd

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 8th February 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Reign Of Fury
Death Be Thy Shepherd
Release: 27th February 2015
Thrash metal
Self released

Reign Of Fury - Death Be Thy Shepherd

I love thrash! Always have, always will! However, the resurgence of its popularity in the last decade or so has seen an ocean of filler unleashed on the world. It was a disappointing end result to say the least: song writing was ditched by the wayside in favour of constant imitation of the genre’s founding bands, sometimes note for note. The whole scene seemed to have been hi-jacked by a strange breed of hipsters who sneered at any hint of originality, swamping the web with derogatory nonsense, should a thrash band stray from the path in any way.

I’m thankful to say that, on their second album, Death Be Thy Shepherd, Midlands mob Reign Of Fury continue to turn their backs and raise a firm middle-finger to such unfounded buffoonery. From the very first track, Faustian Mastery, you can almost smell the words ‘Don’t give a f***!’ wafting through the air. While ROF comfortably incorporate the essence of the original thrash movement, they deftly side-step the ‘re-thrash’ tag, indulging the influence of both its roots and its later development.

Snatches reminiscent of Megadeth’s Countdown To Extinction twist into Maiden like guitar harmonies. For those of you who stuck with Anthrax throughout their discography, this release will feel like a new home for your ears, although I’m also sensing the air of personal favourite and underrated Arizonans Flotsam & Jetsam sneaking into the axe work. There is plenty of diversity herein, the vocals even venturing into extremely well executed death metal vocals in Gates Of Sanity, which batters its way through an ultimately addictive chorus and musical flavours only found in the Testament cookbook.

It’s a unique musical personality for sure, but one that wears its influences with unashamed pride. If Jeff Waters, Nick Menza, Alex Skolnick, Peavy Wagner and John Bush stepped out of the past together to show the young uns how to write an album, it might not sound too different to this.

It must be a challenge to go against the grain when putting out music which is to any degree retro. As I mentioned to begin with, there will be a certain number of detractors if it isn’t a carbon copy of the original style. However, if you’re having as much fun and care as little about those opinions as this lot seem to, it doesn’t seem like something that would be a chore. Without losing track of their roots, Reign Of Fury have managed to seal the deal on a fresh sounding long player which is absolutely thrash, absolutely relevant, and an absolute neck-snapper! Top drawer stuff!

5/5

Paul Macmillan

Shadowquest – Armoured IV Pain

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 8th February 2015 by mickbirchy

Shadowquest
Armoured IV Pain
Power metal
Release date: 20th February 2015
Self-release

Shadowquest is the the new power metal band started by former Dionysus members Ronny Milianowicz & Kaspar Dahlqvist. The band also features Patrik Johansson (Bloodbound and Dawn Of Silence), Peter Huss (Sinergy & Issa), Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius, Symfonia, Evergrey & Masterplan) & Ragnar Widerberg (Witherscape).  With all those names on your side you’d expect the album to sound great!  Well let’s take a look.

The album itself is a very strong release. “Armoured IV Pain”, carries a lot of great attributes that make for a power metal record such as: soaring vocals, great guitar work, atmospheric keyboard and much more goes into making this one enjoyable album.  Right from the opening track “Blood of the Pure”  I was injected with amazing use of lyrical imagery and a great sense of presence and tone.  Not a second of time is wasted on the record, and I don’t mean they just play and they allow time for the atmosphere to set in and for the listener to fully grasp the themes and concepts being presented.  At times this album feels like an old school Judas Priest or Dio album, it like they mixed all the best part of old and new metal and just blended them together.

Speaking of old school there is a really well handled cover of Judas Priest’s iconic classic “Freewheel Burning” but really they don’t change enough from the original to make it stand out on it’s own, and if you’re not going to cover a classic song in your own way way then why should I, the listener, care about your version? I might as well listen to Judas Priest.  That’s actually a major problem with this record, there may be great lyrical imagery, and cool guitar solos but it’s nothing I can’t get from someone else.  What separates them from the like of Sonata Arctica or Edguy or Firewind?  What can I get from Shadowquest that I can’t from other power metal bands?  The answer is very little.  In this genre you have to have your own independant voice otherwise you’ll lose out to the competition.

Overall, if you like power metal you’ll probably like this record just fine. Don’t get me wrong I had fun with the album but it’s quite easy to get bored with it.  It has some rather impressive moments but not enough in its execution for people who aren’t familiar with this music, or even the ones who are, to say “hey, this band sounds like nothing else”.  It’s great, well polished and very fun. I recommend it, but, with a disclaimer, if you’re expecting something brand new, you won’t find it here.  However, if you’re just looking for something else to throw in to your power metal play list then I say go check it out.

3/5

Mick Birchall

The Antiquity – A Colossal Infliction Of Hate [EP]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 6th June 2014 by Pieni

The Antiquity
“A Colossal Infliction Of Hate” (reissue) [EP]
Technical deathcore
Self-release date: 6th June 2014

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I’m always a bit skeptical when I read the word “technical” – not because I doubt its accuracy but because I doubt my appreciation for it, as this kind of guys tend to throw their skills all over the place. Not these five youngsters from Scarborough, though. The Antiquity know how to excel without overwhelming you.

It kicks off with the title-track “A Colossal Infliction Of Hate”, in an old school slower-tempo, almost doom death track. Then “Quarantine” gets faster and comes forward justifying the “technical” term in their genre description, with its exquisite riff patterns. There’s a reason for “BLAST” to be spelled in capital letters in “BLASTthehorse”, as this short track is of a much sheerer violence. Enhancing their more ‘core side, “Tales Of Anguish” (my favorite) comes next. And finally “Path Of The Ascetic” gathers a bit of all of the above, entwined with some thrash metal licks.

Originally released last summer, “A Colossal Infliction Of Hate” is now being re-issued with the new singer Luther Williams and an improved production. Because the EP is just that good and it surely deserves a revamped second round.

4,5 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino