Archive for Soilwork

Interview with Liv Sin

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , on 28th August 2019 by mickbirchy

Ahead of the release of their new album Burning Sermons on the 6th September, Mick spoke to Liv Jagrell of Swedish heavy metal band Liv Sin. They discussed the production and songwriting of this record in comparison to their previous 2017 album, Follow Me, as well working with some of metal’s heavy hitters. Also, read Liv’s thoughts on women in metal, her biggest piece of advice for new bands and how she has overcome her biggest setback.

 What do you think is the biggest difference between the new album Burning Sermons and your previous album Follow Me?

I think that the biggest difference is in the sound of the album because we’ve brought in electronics and synth sounds. There are more keyboard and orchestral arrangements. This was not present on the first record. Maybe a song or two, but for the first album, it was more just a straight forward heavy metal sound.  However, on this record, we wanted a little bit more of a diverse sound, as a result, we took out some of the guitar-riffing and added in the more electronic sound. So we chose to work with a producer who could help us achieve this. 

I wanted to get on to the production a little bit here. I’ve read that you worked with Emil Nödtveidt  (Deathstars guitarist). What was it like to work with him and what do you feel he added to the album that you really appreciated?

Obviously all of the keyboards, electronics and orchestral arrangements which none of us could have done. He was just a pleasure to work with, it felt like there was no real effort to communicate my ideas with him and he was able to give us the best product possible. I would love to work with him again. I mean, he definitely put his stamp on the music. You can here that Deathstars sound on some of the songs. I feel that he took the songs to another level by adding things that we would not have thought of. 

Another note I have read was that you brought in Björn Strid (singer of Soilwork and The Nightflight Orchestra) for the song “Hope Begins To Fail”. What was it like bringing him into the studio and working with him?

Also, pretty amazing! Björn is an excellent singer, also I am a big fan of Soilwork, I have loved that band since they started. I also like The Nightflight Orchestra too, not 100% my type of music but it shows how versatile he is as a singer. I think that his voice worked really well in the song. We also got him to do the video shoot with us and he is such a funny guy we just had so much fun on set for that music video. Also, I would love to work with him again as well. 

That’s fantastic, I loved hearing that on the album as well. Just moving on to the lyrical aspect of the album. What is your favourite song from a lyrical standpoint on this album and what do you feel is the main message of your lyrics?

Quite hard to say as all of the lyrics are very personal to me. As when I write lyrics, it’s kind of like therapy for me as I try to process my own internal thoughts. However, I always like the idea that these songs can help someone else as well. So, on some the songs, I wrote more from more of my experience or things that I wish would happen. Then, on the other hand, I want to write songs that I think might encourage people. Like the song “At The Gates of The Abyss”, which is a song where I’m trying to inspire people to not give up, at least not today, this is not the day where we all fall. Also, in the song “War Antidote” there’s a line in the chorus ‘Hail To The Freaks’ and I feel this is embracing people who might feel that they don’t belong and try to give them encouragement to continue. That is the main thing I want to get across. That, it’s okay to be different and we can continue together.

That was pretty inspiring. I personally have been loving the album, I just think it’s a more whole and complete album than the first one.

Thank you, yes. Also, we had way more time with this record. I think we worked through the songs much more than on the first album. I think as well, we’ve found a sound that we really like and want to continue with.

Yeah, it feels like a record with more time gone into it. Not that I didn’t like the first album but I thought it was interesting to hear the evolution of your sound. There seemed to be far less fast-paced and intense metal tracks and more of a general grandiose metal sound. What is your process for working the lyrics into the music? Does the idea for the song come first or do the themes of the lyrics come first and then you try an match it?

It depends…. Mostly though, we come up with the melodies and rhythm first then try to piece the words and meaning into that melody. Sometimes, it just does fit and you can become really frustrated and then that leads to “Grahhhhgh, damn it, fuck it!” because you really want that particular rhythm and melody but you also want to say a specific line you can’t find anything to match. I have spent many evenings just staring and working on one sentence and getting nowhere. At that point, I just go “fuck it, it’ll wait until tomorrow”

So with the release of this new record, it’s a given that your new setlist will be mostly new material. Are there any songs from Follow Me that you plan to keep on the setlist?

I think the two that we kinda have to keep are “Let Me Out” and “Killing Ourselves To Live” because they are the main songs from Follow Me. Also, because they are great songs and they work well with the audience. We are also keeping “Hypocrite” as for us, it’s an awesome live song. Also, we’re planning on keeping “Emporer of Chaos” as it fits in very well with the newer songs, because it’s more of a political song and because audiences really like it.

From the last time we spoke, you said that your favourite song on Follow Me was “The Fall”. Any chance that could make it on to the setlist?

It could… But since we have “Chapter of The Witch”, it might be too much as it’s another intense fast-paced song and I don’t want too many of those working their way on to the setlist. So right now we’ve taken away “The Fall” to put in “Chapter of The Witch”. I mean you learn when you tour and “The Fall” has a tendency to be a little too fast, it’s not a really groovy track so we didn’t get the response that we hoped it would have got. I mean I really like the song, but it’s a really hard song to play live. 

Excellent, I mean I really like that song too, so if there’s a chance to hear it live again, I’m always there. Just moving away from songwriting now. What are your thoughts on the progression of women in the metal world, as they are becoming more and more prevalent in a metal context?

It’s interesting that this is even a question but understand why. I hope that it will develop further than it is, it’s definitely better for sure, certainly more so than when I first started in music. You’re seeing many more bands of just women or band with women in them. I hope it will develop further and I hope one day you won’t even have to call attention to it. You know, so we’re at a point where the term “female-fronted” for example is no longer something that is needed.

Yeah, it is kinda silly when you think about it, as long as the music is good, who cares who is playing it. Another question, I think is very interesting. From your experience across your whole career, what is the one piece of advice you give to a new up-and-coming band starting in the industry today?

Since the music business has changed so much since I started, it hard to say. As things that used to be true, aren’t anymore. One thing I will say is you can’t lie to new bands about how much work you have to put into it. Nothing is going to happen for free and if you are not committed, dedicated and not truly ready to sacrifice things, this is not the industry you want to be in. Because you have to sacrifice financial security, friends, families and whatever in order to make it work.  You know, you have to take tours before birthdays, festival slots before weddings. If you’re not prepared to do that, you will be disappointed and you will feel like a failure because you won’t make it very far. I know that sound really harsh because you want to encourage people but it’s also the truth and if you’re not ready there will always be someone who will stand over you. At the same time, I have always been that kind of person to stand on my own and do what my heart tells me otherwise I wouldn’t be here. 

However, if you’re willing to make that kind of sacrifice then it is worth it in the end because music is such a necessary thing, we need it in the world as a world without music would be a hard one to live in.

I couldn’t agree more music is so important, it’s the main thing I use to ignore that fact the world is dying and going to crap. So, just end on and this my favourite question I ask. What is the hardest thing, professionally or personally, you have had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Hmm, that’s a hard question, give me a minute. So, actually, this is it. I’m afraid of flying and aeroplanes in general. Whenever I sit in a plane, which you do a lot on tour, I ask myself “Why am I doing this?” but I’m still doing it anyway. I think that if I didn’t have this passion for music, I would never face that fear as much as I do. I would probably not go on a plane at all. Yet, today I’m facing that fear all of the time. I always wonder to myself, why isn’t flying becoming easier, because I’m doing it so much. Yes, you have fear but having such a strong feeling inside of you to face that fear is important and once you have that, yes it might not become easier but doing the thing enjoy becomes more rewarding.

Interview and words by Mick Birchall

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Liv Sin – Burning Sermons

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 26th August 2019 by mickbirchy

Liv Sin
Burning Sermons
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Released: 6th September 2019
via Despotz Records

A few years ago I reviewed the debut album from Liv Sin, Follow Me. The Swedish quintet has made big strides in the metal world since then. Armed with Liv Jagrell on vocals and channelling their love of heavy metal, the band are making their return with the new album, Burning Sermons. Everything that made the previous record great is here too. From their gut-busting musicianship to the powerful and emotional lyrical content, this album rips hard and has that old-school heavy metal flavour that will captivate an older audience and entrance a newer crowd. I have to say that I am a bit of a fan and this album has everything that I look for in a metal record. Also, like the last album, Liv Sin has invited some special guests to help this album rock all that little bit harder.  On the upcoming single, “Hope Begins to Fade”, Liv duets with Björn Strid, singer of Soilwork and The Nightflight Orchestra.​

Purely from a production point of view, this album sounds so good. The guitars are heavy and the drums hit with intensity. Everything is mixed with such a glorious tone and it makes Liv’s vocals stand out so much as she delivers the lyrics with such conviction. One song where this is so noticeable is “Death Gives Life Meaning”. The aggressive, forceful tone really drives the point home while the frantic energy of the instrumentation performs beautifully and is mixed so well. The production was done by Deathstars guitarist Emil Nödtveidt who has really created an amazing atmosphere here for Liv Sin, with bombastic tones that just scream, “listen to this!”

The lyrical content is well presented here, with themes of personal struggles and hardship. Liv Sin really put their best foot forward in this department, with poetic imagery and well-chosen lines. The lyrics themselves are quite interesting when thinking about them. The way she chooses to communicate her feelings and how it blends into the music is really great. I really like the song “At The Gates of The Abyss” for this reason, the way all of the elements of the band mix with the lyrics, creating a powerful and interesting song.

This is a really great record! I liked the first album but really enjoyed this one. It’s new metal music with a very old school mentality. Liv Sin is very quickly becoming one of my favourite metal bands. This album just felt more like a complete package, the new sound with the keyboards and synth work mixed in with the guitars and Liv’s forceful and powerful delivery. It all sounds so brilliant and I have to say I love this new direction the band is taking. Definitely, one to check out and one I need to see live sooner rather than later.

8/10

Mick Birchall

Soilwork – Verkligheten

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 8th January 2019 by Pieni

Soilwork
“Verkligheten”
Melodic death metal
Released: 11th January 2019
Via Nuclear Blast Records

soilwork - verkligheten - artwork

When I reviewed “The Ride Majestic”, about three and a half years ago (damn, feels like yesterday!), I said something about being surprised with how Soilwork could still impress me. Well this time they didn’t catch me off guard: I’m still impressed but I was counting on it.

A fellow reviewer said they’ve gone more melodic but I don’t think that’s quite it; I mean, sure, “Verkligheten” is a more melodic record, but I don’t think it was intentional. I believe they’ve just focused more on being intense than actually heavy, and such deeper sound enhanced the melodies which have always been a part of Soilwork. Take the latest single, “Stålfågel”, for instance; those initial synths bearing an Alan Parsons whiff, the growls of someone who Wikipedia claims to be Alissa White-Gluz (but it’s not) a mere shadow in the background of the chorus and the so straightforward solo result in an enthralling combination that’s way more than just “melodic”. it’s still my favorite song, by the way, even if I stood a bit disappointed when the lyrics didn’t match the title’s tongue. In fact, despite the Swedish album title, all songs are sung in English. Shame. At least one should be pretty interesting.

Tomi Joutsen was also invited to snarl over “Needles And Kin” but his presence is much more highlighted – the own nature of the song enabling it. I dare saying this is the heaviest song (“Arrival” right behind it), the riffing and drumming even reminding some black metal refined act, but the chorus always featuring some harmony to go along with the rest of the album.

I really hope “The Ageless Whisper” makes it to the live shows as it’s a very anthem-like track which I already imagine everybody clapping their hands to, in sync with the drums in its intro and later on, right before the solo. But several others, and for several reasons, are prone to turn the crowd into a bunch of happy campers ‘cause I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one loving “Verkligheten” as a whole.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Narcotic Self – Cut The Chord

Posted in Metal with tags , , , , on 5th June 2016 by izaforestspirit

Narcotic Self
Cut The Chord
Released 6th May 2016
Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal/Groove Metal
Self-Released

‘Cut The Chord’ is the third album from the American heavy metal band Narcotic Self. They have toured with a number of renowned metal bands including Slayer, Exodus and Soulfly. Their music is a mixture of classic thrash metal with other metal genres along with some experimental elements. This album features Björn “Speed” Strid of Soilwork as a guest vocalist on one of the songs.

Kicking off the album is the title track, an aggressive and brutal metal song filled with thrashing guitars, pummeling drums along with abrasive and angry shouting. Then, when you least expect it, they slow down the pace towards the end of the track and treat you to a short but well executed melodic instrumental. It’s just enough for you to take a deep breath and relax before the usual onslaught of guitar, drums and shouting returns, raising hell inside your eardrums. Generation Victim (feat. Björn Strid) is a fairly straightforward piece of aggressive, thrashing groove metal which reminded me of the early works of Machine Head, DevilDriver and to a certain extent Lamb of God.

Hell in My Head caught my attention due to the deceptively melodic guitar intro at the start. There’s some experimentation in the guitar parts and briefly a change to a softer, more melodic vocal style halfway through the song. This time the melodic elements last a little longer than they did in the title track. The problem is that I’m not entirely convinced that the random changes suit the rest of the song. The transition between the two is just not as fluid as it should be. Then it seems that Narcotic Self decided to have another go at the more melodic side of metal/rock so they created Creeper, a song which is predominantly slow and melodic. At least for the most part… Then, all of a sudden, the aggressive shouting and thrashing monster re-emerges. It’s almost like the other half of the song was composed by another band. Luckily the rest of the album marks a return to good old brutal and vicious thrashing groove metal with only occasional bits of clear vocals sprinkled in to soften the blow. For example, Brainslave shows how well executed guitar work can make a song memorable for all the right reasons.

Overall, this album left me feeling a little confused. I’m not entirely sure that I understand what Narcotic Self are trying to achieve here. I would have been perfectly happy had these guys just stuck to a specific style be it thrash or groove metal but the random mid-song experimentation is very off-putting. Those bits aside ‘Cut The Chord’ should appeal to fans of Lamb of God and Machine Head.

3/5

Iza Raittila

Soilwork – The Ride Majestic

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 18th August 2015 by Pieni

Soilwork
“The Ride Majestic”
Melodic death metal
Release: 28th August 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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Soilwork haven’t had the need to prove themselves to me for a long time now. After albums such as “Figure Number Five”, “Stabbing The Drama” or the previous “The Living Infinite”, they’ve achieved a solid rank on my list of bands. But I confess I didn’t think they could impress me more either. Well I’m biting my tongue right now.

The richness in details was taken to the next level and the result is a classy mix of extreme rhythms with vibrant melodies. The first title track (yes, first – there are two, although the second adds “(Aspire Angelic)”, to make the difference) is the bridge between “The Ride Majestic” and “The Living Infinite”, given the similarity in riffs and licks. If you listen to one album after the other, this track makes a smooth, natural transition between them. Because “Alight The Aftermath” will then sound like an outburst of power; way faster, way heavier, way darker.

“Death In General”, on the other hand, is the least heavy track (which doesn’t necessarily mean light). Its composition is too enthralling and seductive, the drums achieving a tribal beat on a couple of occasions, and Mr. Speed showing he can do whatever he wants with his voice.

The bluesy intro of “Enemies In Fidelity”, which underlines some further parts in an otherwise thrash/death composition. The earworm-ish chorus and break of “Petrichor By Sulphur”. The epic, extreme piece that “The Phantom” is through and through (definitely my favorite). The sharpness of “The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)”, in contrast with the gloominess of “Whirl Of Pain”. A gloominess that continues on “All Along Echoing Paths” but at a heavier pace. The mosher-friendly of “Shining Lights”, featuring a massive guitar work. And the deep grand finale of “Father And Son Watching The World Go Down”. Eleven new tracks, all majestic indeed.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Soilwork to release first live DVD/BlueRay

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 5th February 2015 by Pieni

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After an almost-20-year career and 9 studio albums, Soilwork are about to release their first ever live DVD/BlueRay, with its corresponding audio CDs – “Live In The Heart Of Helsinki”.

23 songs were recorded at Circus Club, on the 21st March last year, two of them including guest appearances by Floor Jansen from Nightwish and Revamp and Nathan J. Biggs from Sonic Syndicate:

01. This Momentary Bliss
02. Like The Average Stalker
03. Overload
04. Weapon Of Vanity
05. Spectrum Of Eternity
06. Follow The Hollow
07. Parasite Blues
08. Distortion Sleep
09. Bastard Chain
10. Let This River Flow (feat. Floor Jansen)
11. Long Live The Misanthrope
12. Tongue
13. Nerve
14. The Chainheart Machine
15. The Living Infinite I
16. Rise Above The Sentiment
17. Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter
18. Rejection Role
19. Black Star Deceiver (feat. Nathan J. Biggs)
20. As The Sleeper Awakes
21. Sadistic Lullabye
22. As We Speak
23. Stabbing The Drama

The setlist will be divided in two CDs, while the DVD/BlueRay will also include two documentaries (“Spectrum Of Eternity: A Brief History Of Soilwork” and “Behind The Scenes Of The Living Infinite”) and drumcam videos filmed during the songs “Long Live The Misanthrope”, “Rise Above The Sentiment”, “Spectrum Of Eternity” and “Tongue”.

Frontman Björn ‘Speed’ Strid commented: “There could’ve not been a better time than now, with 10 albums out and a very varied back catalogue to choose from. Our line up now is 50 % original members and 50 % fresh blood, which makes it all more interesting. Especially since the newest members have brought so much to our sound and have continued to inspire us to write new and exciting music and also brought a new found energy on stage. Now is definitely the time to see us. Trust me.”

Set for release on 16th March, via Nuclear Blast, a trailer for the DVD has been pumping on YouTube for a few days now:

Pre-order your copy:
DVD + 2 CD –  http://bit.ly/LITHOHbase
BlurRay + 2 CD –  http://bit.ly/LITHOHblubase

www.soilwork.org

www.facebook.com/soilwork

Vagos Open Air 2014 – 1st day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 19th August 2014 by Pieni

Kreator, Epica, Soilwork, Sylosis, Kandia, Gates Of Hell
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
8th August 2014

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This year’s edition of Vagos Open Air was bigger in every sense of the word – it lasted one day longer than usual, it had more people coming in, and it had also the greatest bill so far. Kudos for promoters Prime Artists!

National Gates Of Hell must feel proud, and not just for kicking the festival off: it’s not easy for an underground band to gather so many people on a hot Friday, at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, but they made it! There was a sea of people like there’s never been for an opening band, in all the 6-year history of the festival! Of course they’ve been working hard for it in the last few years, especially since the release of their debut album, playing all over the country and winning fans with their ballistic live shows. But it still was a wonderful surprise to see such a crowd screaming and moshing for them. And the size of the wall of death on the last song, “Critical Obsession”! Singer Raça thanked everyone – both fans/friends and those who were watching them for the first time – but truth be told, they wouldn’t have got that response if they weren’t just as good. The credit is all yours, boys! Keep it up! (5/5)

Gates Of Hell official facebook

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Things cooled down a bit, but only in terms of “brutality” – Kandia is a modern/alternative rock band, so no mosh pits for them. But that doesn’t mean that their show was less electrifying. It was just a different kind of voltage. Especially singer Nya Cruz, who looked totally at home on stage. They’ve released two albums so far, but neglected the first one completely, focusing just on the latest “All Is Gone”. Last year, they won the international music contest Global Rockstar with one song from that album, “Scars”. “We’re not going away, we’re here to stay!” was the introduction to that song, as its first verse reads “I’m here to stay”. But more than an introduction, it’s a statement, a motto – and the grip they had on this gig is proof that they will stick to it. (4,5/5)

Kandia official facebook

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It was the first time Sylosis were playing in Portugal (after pulling out of the Epic Industrialist Tour, in 2012) and Josh Middleton admitted they weren’t expecting such a reception. The crowd was happy to finally experience live songs such as “All Is Not Well” and “The Blackest Skyline”, so the circles began spinning once again, at full force. And when Josh asked for TWO circles – one at the left, one at the right – they were eager to comply (same as the headbanging to the sound of nothing, but that’s been done before by other artists – the two circles, now that was new). At some point Josh said that this was the last gig of Rob (Callard, drummer), since he would be pursuing a career as a singer… in a Mariah Carey cover band. Such talented musicians and so humorous… no wonder no one cared about the “little” fail of asking if we were ready for Kreator while playing a riff from Slayer’s “Raining Blood”… (5/5)

Sylosis official facebook

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It had been 11 years since I’d last seen Soilwork – which was the last time they’d played in Portugal. So I don’t know if it’s usual for them to use The Alan Parsons Project’s “Sirius” as intro, but for me, it was a really nice surprise. And it links so well to “This Momentary Bliss”, the first song of their set! A set that I confess was hoping to be a bit more diverse, given the years of absence from the Portuguese stages. But their latest album is a magnificent double piece, so it’s only natural they wanted to focus on the killers of “The Living Infinite”. Still they went back a couple of times – “The Average Stalker”, “Bastard Chain”… –, closing with a golden key with “Stabbing The Drama” (“I think you know the chorus to this one”, said Mr. Björn Strid). The circles weren’t as constant as in the previous band but only because Soilwork’s sound doesn’t require so – there’s a reason why it’s called “melodic” death metal. In terms of intensity, they were just as “crazy and wild” (to use Strid’s own words). (5/5)

Soilwork official facebook

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There were LOADS of Epica fans in Vagos, so whoever thought it was a mistake to invite them again (they performed at the first edition of the fest) couldn’t be more wrong. Simone Simons’ voice was better than the last time I’ve seen them, in the “Requiem For The Indifferent” tour, but still a bit “shaky” here and there. The most blatant case was “Cry For The Moon”, where her voice was smothered by the choir backtracks and not because something failed with her mic. It’s just that female voices also change with time and it’s been 10 years since Simone first recorded that song. Maybe that’s why she took the chance to introduce the band, singing the names and their instruments instead of the original lyrics. Nice trick! But no one seemed to care anyway, as the strong and positive attitude of the whole band made those flaws look like small details.
They played a few songs from the latest album, “The Quantum Enigma” – including the first three tracks plus the new hit “Unchain Utopia”, but Simone said they would be back in November, in a promotional tour for this album. The crowd was thrilled to hear that. (4,5/5)

Epica official facebook

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Okay, it’s true that a Kreator gig is always a Kreator gig, and even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good. But sometimes they’re REALLY awesome – like this time! From “Mars Mantra / Phantom Antichrist” to “Flag Of Hate / Tormentor”, Mille Petrozza got some of the best “Portuguese circle pits” that he kept asking for – having played here so many times before, he knew what he was talking about when he specified the nationality, giving them an unique identity. But with such a performance it was hard not to raise hell – the stage wasn’t big enough for their fire show, but the human heat made up for it.
For the encore, and the aforementioned medley of “Flag Of Hate” and “Tormentor”, Petrozza got on stage holding a flag, saying that when they released that album (“Endless Pain”), back in 1985, Michael Jackson was still alive. The rest of the band played a few chords from “Billie Jean” and the crowd roared. But the roar was much louder when he talked about the album that Judas Priest released five years later, as its title was the opposite of “Endless Pain”“Painkiller”, with the main riff of its title-track echoing. The true explosion came, of course, when Petrozza stopped talking and the medley itself began. (5/5)

Kreator official facebook

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Nevel a dull moment on this first day – except for the background music between songs, which was literally the same over and over. The metal DJs that took the graveyard shift should have been hired for the day as well…

Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

More pics in our Facebook page HERE.