Archive for Swedish Metal

In Flames – I, The Mask

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 24th February 2019 by Pieni

In Flames
“I, The Mask”
Metal
Released: 1st March 2019
Via Nuclear Blast Records

inflamesithemask

It’s been a while since I’ve stopped considering In Flames “melodic death metal” (even if I labelled them as such when I reviewed “Battles”, after going with just “melodic metal” on the previous one, “Siren Charms”). The truth is that they’ve developed such a characteristic sound that one would either come up with a genre described in a whole sentence or just fit them in one that pretty much covers it all. Let’s go with “metal” then (which, whoever runs their Facebook page, seems also okay with).

I believe I’ve said this several times – not just regarding In Flames – but I don’t see toning down the aggression as a bad thing; in this case, losing the “death” angle. All I care about is listening to quality music, whatever its nature, and “I, The Mask” is full of that.

Out of the three songs they’ve chosen to promote the album with, the title-track was the one which least impressed me. Curiously enough, one of the fastest tracks. It’s not a bad song, don’t get me wrong. It’s just too straight-forward in the middle of the richness that the rest of the album turned out to be. But then again, come to think of it, maybe that’s precisely its strength. “Burn” is up there as well, but with a less catchy chorus.

“(This Is Our) House” is sort of anthemic, with all that talk of standing your ground and the teen choir’s they’d already used on “The End”. At first I thought a spunkier chorus would sound better, but after hearing it a few times, this one is just right. In fact, this album needs a couple of rounds to grow on you as a whole.

“I Am Above” and the ballad “Stay With Me” are my favorite, as they’ve got that something-I-can’t-put-my-finger-on that just enthralls me. Perhaps the attitude of the first and the depth of the second, but I believe is much more than that, as it usually is when a song hits you hard.

There’s another ballad in the form of “Follow Me”, where you’ll certainly hear an echo of “Come Clarity”, but only on a musical level – the message in it bears a sense of hope that their old classic misses. And even though I can’t remember a title to compare – in a good sense – “Voices” with, you’ll see that the opening track is very much an In Flames song. Not so much with “Deep Inside”, the Arabian hints catching me somewhat off guard, but it worked out in the end. The only song I skip when it comes up is “In This Life”. I’m sure it will be someone’s favorite, but for me, it’s annoying as hell.

When I’ve first listened to this album – their 13th – I’ve automatically given it a “4”. Then, as aforementioned, it started growing on me and I thought a “4,5” would be more accurate. Now that I’ve put into words what I think about it… hell, it deserves a “5”!

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

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In Flames – Battles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Dark Tranquillity – Atoma

Posted in CD with tags , , , , , on 5th November 2016 by Pieni

Dark Tranquillity
“Atoma”
Melodic death metal
Released: 4th November 2016
Via Century Media

 photo atoma_cvr_zpslmiurt7t.jpg

I’m all pro-change and moving forward in a different direction, but when a band manages to keep doing the same and still sound awesome, said band gets kudos from me. So congrats, Dark Tranquillity, you’ve just earned a ton of them.

“Atoma” is their 11th album and still features all the traits that Swedish melodeath fans love. So if the title-track and “Our Proof Of Life” both bear some upbeat melodies and can still sound pretty somber, you’ll face straightforward ominous and obscure vibes in songs like “Forward Momentum” or “A Force Of Hand”“Merciless Fate” even borders the goth metal zone.

Or those fast outbursts in “The Pitiless” and “When The World Screams” and then the catchy choruses in “Clearing Skies” and “Neutrality”. And the epic grand finale in the form of “Caves And Embers”.

It’s such a rich combination of vocals, guitars (bass included) and keyboards – so Dark Tranquillity – that the outcome could only be 5/5. In fact, those are the key-words here: Dark Tranquillity style. ‘Nuff said.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Sabaton unveil artwork for new album Heroes

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 8th January 2014 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Sweden’s premier power metallers Sabaton have unveiled the artwork, as seen above, for their upcoming album Heroes which will be released in May, later this year. The band are currently in Abyss Studio with Peter Tägtgren recording the new album. The stunningly powerful artwork was created Péter Salla. The band’s bassist Pär Sundström comments:

We will record the album in Abyss studios together with Peter Tägtgren who also did Carolus Rex for us. He still has some aces in his sleeves that we are sure will lift the new album. We had the title in mind since before we even recorded Carolus Rex and we already had ideas for artwork years ago. We had a few different ones to choose from, but when we saw this one, we knew it was the right one for this album.

Sabaton online:

http://sabaton.net
http://facebook.com/sabaton

 

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Interview: Thomas Vikstrom [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 9th August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson


Nico has a chat [via e-mail] with Thomas Vikstrom, frontman of Therion and Enlighted about his time in Therion, music and other things.

Nico: Hi Thomas, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Now, obviously you’ve been apart of Therion for a short while – excluding the two years you were the live vocalist – Do you feel that in that time you’ve bonded well with the other members?

Thomas: Hi Nico! I have been a part of the band in soon 5 years. And I think I have bonded well with everybody in the band. Even though we are all very different personalities. But that is only something positive I think. Right now there is a very good vibe in the band!

N: Therion use a lot of occult symbols and ideologies in both the lyrics and on the album covers, is there any reason for this? And how do you feel about the use of occult symbology and references?

T: Yes, we do! Exactly like Lord of the rings, Omen, Nosferatu, etc, etc. I have always been into mysticism and horror. But for me its entertainment and fantasies.

N: While we’re on the topic of the symbology, have you or anyone else in Therion received negative response due to the symbology? Have any of you been accused of “devil worship” or something along those lines?

T: I can only response from my point of view. I did a TV program for Japanese television a while ago. The show was called Amazing Voice. And we wanted to film a song in a church. The church did not allow me to film in there because I played in Therion. I asked them why? Because Therion means The beast they said! I think that’s the only time!

N: That must have been disappointing then – That you couldn’t record in the church. Aside from being the frontman for Therion, you’re also the frontman for Argentinian metal band “Enlighted” – Are there any plans for an Enlighted album in the near future?

T: Nah. The Japs found some other great places! Yeah, I really like Enlighted. Its fun to do something that is different then Therion. There are plans for a full album. But I don’t know when that will happen yet

N: That’s a shame then – for your fans. Therion will be playing at Bloodstock, in the UK, in a few weeks, are you excited about that?

T: YES! I’m very exited about that! I can’t wait! It was a while now since we played, so it’s gonna be a lot of fun!

N: I bet it is. Speaking of playing live shows, it was recently announced on the Therion website that your daughter, Linnea, will be the replacement for Kat. Are you looking forward to touring with your daughter?

T: True. I’m very exited over that! And I bet she is too! She started to count the days! It’s something I have never done before so it’s gonna be interesting! And on tour we will try to be more like colleagues and not only father and daughter!

N: Well, it will be interesting to see what you both bring to the stage. This is next question is a random one, asked by one of our readers [Peter Talbot]: Why did Christopher cut his hair?

T: The answer to that is simply that he got tired of it. Plus his hair was in very bad condition!

N: That’s not good then. What are your post-festival plans? Will you be going into the studio with Therion or Enlighted or will you be taking some to relax?

T: Our plans is to start to work on a new Therion album. Hopefully spring nest year! But I can not reveal anything about that right now. Enlighted hopefully before that! But nothing is decided yet! I will record an album with a project I’m in called “Covered Call”. Its a melodic thingy!

Eternal Fear – Embraced In Darkness [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , on 4th April 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Eternal Fear
Album: Embraced In Darkness
Release Year: 2010
Genre: Metal

Eternal Fear are one of those rare metal bands that don’t seem to fit into any sort of sub-genres in the metal scene. With influences from Paradise Lost, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden to Running Wild, Megadeth and Motorhead, Eternal Fear have broken out o the stereotype that all Swedish metal bands perform death metal. “Embraced in Darkness” is their newest release.

“Exit:Darkness” is the first track of the album; composed entirely unique percussion sounds and the use of a synth, setting a very macabre atmosphere. “Wasted Life” comes next, which begins with a very death metal-sounding intro which soon accompanied by rough power metal-styled vocals. The drums are well played and certainly heavy enough to go toe-to-toe with the guitars. The guitar solos certainly add some new flavour to the track as well. The track finishes on the last note of the second solo, making way for the title track “Embraced in Darkness”. Its intro is loud and brutal, just the way metal should be. The intro riff soon changes into a Iron Maiden-meets-progressive metal style of riff. The vocals sound more raw and rough. The drums and based also seem to have an Iron Maiden sound to them. The guitar solo is astounding, fitting in well with the main riff of the track.

“Cold Rays” come next, with a heavy guitar intro. The drums soon join in, along with the bass and vocals, which pretty much complete the track. The vocals get rougher in sections of the track, giving it an old skool kind of feel. The guitar solo leaves room for improvement. Next with a hard rock sounding intro is “Piece Of Me”, which sounds like an old skool fighting song. It is slightly softer compared to the previous tracks but it is still a brilliant piece of music. The guitar solo is simply brilliant, with plenty of melodic parts. “No Quarter” is next, start with just a drum intro which is soon accompanied by bass and a Trivium-styled guitar riff.  The vocals don’t seem as rough on this track, but they are just as powerful. The thrash-styled guitar solo would have to be the best part of this track.

Next is “Beast Within”. The intro is slow but heavy, though the guitars do sound as if they’re overpowering the drums ever so slightly. The vocals seem to have opted for less roughness again. For the most part, this track seems to have a power metal sound. The only down side to the this track is that the drums don’t seem that heavy. The guitar solo, for the most part, is great. Beginning with the fast-paced but consistent tap of the high-hat the track “Bleed” makes itself known. A very melodic guitar riff soon accompanies the intro, bringing heaviness to the track. The vocals have gone back to being rough, which is always a good thing. “Burn” comes next, with an intro heavier than a ton of steel. The bass can be heard clearly when it makes its appearance on the track. The vocals are rough again, added an element of aggressiveness to the track. The guitar solo pretty much makes the track perfect. The final track is “Look Inside” which begins with a heavy yet slightly melodic guitar riff, followed by the drums.  The track itself isn’t too impressive and it is a bad way to finish the album. Only the guitar solo is the interesting part of the track.

“Embraced In Darkness” is proof that Swedish blokes know how to perform metal that isn’t “death metal”. It’s a well-produced album with plenty of ear-splitting brutality and face-melting riffs. Most of the tracks have the potential to become mosh pit anthems and instant classics.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson