Archive for Viking

Cryptic Age – Homeland EP [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 13th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Cryptic Age
Album: Homeland EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal/Power Metal

Since their formation, Cryptic Age have been a rising star in the British underground metal scene, having shared the stage with the likes of Ravenage, Hecate Enthroned, Windrider and Skyclad. “Homeland” is the first chapter in their epic saga.

The title track, “Homeland”, is the first track of the EP. It begins with the sound of thunder and rain. Vocals are soon heard over the rain. The Manx Gaelic lyrics are a great touch to the track, giving it a very Celtic feel. With the introduction of the symphonic sections, combined with the drums, bass and guitar the track turns aggressive yet beautiful. The vocals are monumentally powerful, more so than most soprano styled vocals. The symphonic elements bring a very intense, epic sound whilst the guitar, bass and drums bring good ol’ fashioned heaviness. The keyboard solo and the guitar solo that follows can only be described as “sagaic”.

”On The Cold Bare Ground” is the second track of the EP, beginning with a dark and mysterious sounding riff. The riff eventually transforms into a something heavier for a short while before going back to the softer, darker riff. The track does turn heavier again though with an increase in tempo. The vocals ring strongly throughout the track. The drum work is acute and precise. Like the previous track, the solos are mind-blowing.

The third track, “Bring Down The Sky” begins very folky, with an acoustic intro and a long symphonic note. The vocals work very well with this intro, conjuring up images of a small Celtic village. The drums add a new dynamic to the track as well. Whilst the first half of this track is slow paced, the second half increases the tempo. The guitar solo is astounding, brutal and masterfully played. The wittily named “No Folkin’ Way” is the second to last track of this so far majestic EP. Like the previous track, it has an acoustic and symphonic intro, though it is short lived before the electric guitar dominates. The symphonic sections are grand sounding, blending well with the guitar riffs, bass and drums. The only downside to this track is the lack of vocals.

The last track is “Paragons Of War”. Straight from the beginning, there is a somewhat heroic-sagaic sound resonating from the combination of drums, bass, guitars and keyboards. The vocals complete the track, adding a very majestic touch to it. The guitar and bass sections are brilliantly played and the drums are definitely are a highlight of the track. And the solos are nothing short of grand and noble.

Cryptic Age, despite been young, are clearly a talented quartet of musicians. No doubt that “Homeland” is but the first chapter in a long and legendary saga for these Yorkshire lads and lass. Female fronted metal has never sounded so good.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Alestorm – Back Through Time [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Alestorm
Album: Back Through Time
Release year: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal/Power Metal/Pirate Metal

“Back Through Time” is the latest chapter in the legacy of Scottish pirates “Alestorm”.  It was released through Napalm Records earlier this month.

Beginning with the title track “Back Through Time”, this album already begins to sound promising. The track starts with the sound of waves followed by a pirate warning his captain of Vikings approaching. The track is then dominated by a fast paced drum section which is soon accompanied by a power metal-influenced keytar riff combined with an aggressive guitar riff. The track soon turns into a typical Alestorm track. The vocals retain their rough sound from previous Alestorm releases, giving this track a very piratey feel. The guitar solo is very hypnotic and old-skool sounding while the keytar solo brings more of a folk metal element to this track. “Back Through Time” has proven itself to be a worthy choice as he opening track of the album.

The second track is “Shipwrecked”. Its intro riff has a very raw sound to it, which is soon overpowered by the intelligent keytar riffs. The vocals are strong, keeping that pirate touch. However, the thing that stands out the most about this track are the drums as they seem to have more power than the guitar and bass and are virtually as loud as the keytar riffs. The next track is “The Sunk’n Norwegian” which begins with a very Celtic styled riff. The vocals sound more raw and aggressive, whilst the keytars have taken on more of an epic power metal sound. The guitar riffs seem more simplistic but heavier compared to the previous track. The bass work has improved since the previous track as well.

“Midget Saw” is the fourth track of the album, beginning with a more folkish keytar riff. The guitars and drums dominate this track in terms of aggression and heaviness whilst the keytar riffs bring some immense melodies. The bass sections are the most impressive thing on this track however, followed of course by the brilliantly composed guitar solo. Blasting its way next is “Buckfast Powersmash” which certainly does live up to its name with a fast paced, aggressive guitar intro. A keytar riff eventually joins it, bringing that folk sound to the track. However, the impressiveness of this track soon dies out. “Scraping The Barrel” comes next, bringing a very calm Celtic sound before the guitars and drums blast their way in. This track has a very solemn sound yet there’s a little bit of humour to found in this track as some of the lyrics have a very straight forward stab at the Alestorm haters. The guitar solo has a majestic touch to it, which pretty much completes this track.

The next track, titled “Rum”, starts with a very thrash styled riff before the keytars bring a piratey sound. This track has the potential to become a modern day drinking song, likely to be heard in pubs all around the world. “Swashbuckled”  blasts its way next with a combination of keytars and double bass pedals. The guitars bring the metal element to this track, whilst the vocals add an aggressive touch to the track. Despite been slow paced compared to some of the other tracks, this is one of the best tracks on the album, which is proven by the masterfully played guitar solo. “Rumpelkombo” speeds its way next in the space of six seconds, leading straight into the next track “Barrett’s Privateers”, which is originally performed by Stan Rogers. Alestorm have virtually made this track one of their own with their unique pirate sound.

“Death Throes of the Terrorsquid is next, featuring Ken Sorceron of Abigail Williams. The track begins with a very power metal sounding keytar intro riff which is soon accompanied by an immense and melodic guitar riff. The vocals seem to have much more power than the previous tracks. Some sections of this track seem poorly composed but overall the vast majority of it has been soulfully written for an extremely epic sound. Ken’s vocals bring a very black metal sound to the track, especially as the music turns dramatic. While this is an unusual sound for Alestorm it works brilliantly well!

The next track, a bonus track and a Wurzels cover all in one, is next in the form of “I Am A Cider Drinker”. Its intro sounds like an Irish jig while the vocals make it sound like a drinking song. This is a most suitable track for the album and one can only imagine Strongbow drinkers all around singing along to this. The last track of the album is a cover of Lazy Town’s “You Are A Pirate”. Surprisingly it sounds great. It certainly has a very piratey feel and is clearly superior to the original version. The only downside to it is that it’s too short.

Alestorm have proven themselves to still be ready to crank out the pirate metal with “Back Through Time”. Despite a few not so good parts of the album, it is a jewel in the folk metal scene. So, kick back and enjoy a shot of rum or bottle of cider with “Back Through Time”. It’s certainly worth it.

4/5

Nico Davidson