Archive for vikings

Grand Magus – Sword Songs

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 12th May 2016 by mickbirchy

Grand Magus
“Sword Songs”
Heavy Metal
Released: 13 May 2016

via Nuclear Blast Records

The Swedish power trio return with their newest collection of anthemic Viking anthems, Sword Songs.  After their last release Triumph and Power, Grand Magus have done more than enough to get me listening. As that’s when I was first introduced to them.  I have obviously gone back over their discography since then and it’s fair to say that they’re one of my favourites when it come to this music.

The album opens with the roaring “Freja’s Choice” and the expert instrumentation at takes over your senses. The pure intensity doesn’t let go until the final moment of the album. Janne “JB” Christoffersson’s energy is awesome and every lyric is clear. Everything on this album sound huge. This is standard for Grand Magus but their ability to make everything sound epic is outstanding, if not second nature to them at this point.  Sword Songs is a barrage of non stop anthems. One of the bigger one being the lead in single “Varangian”, which is so damn catchy you’ll be humming it for hours after you’ve heard it. This is a testament to the super tight production of the album. Every moment has impact and weight and the album is filled to the brim with imagination and poetry.

It’s definitely an album that rewards repeat listens. I know once I was done with the first play through I wanted it one again. The tight musicianship, the excellent riffs, the thundering bass and beat and the anthemic choruses. It all comes together here and it just hits you like a tonne of bricks.  All of the songs are brilliant but a few personal favourites “Forged in Iron – Crowned in Steel”, “Frost and Fire” and “Stormbringer”. These songs have grabbed my imagination and really keeps pumped.  

The Viking themes are grounded and interesting.  Although this sub-sub-genre is starting to develop very obvious clichés it doesn’t stop it from being very entertaining. The references to battle and Norse mythology always sound fresh and original coming from Grand Magus (as well as bands like Leaves’ Eyes and Amon Amarth). There’s just such a feeling of command and power in these songs, they’re simply too fun to not enjoy.

I love this record. Grand Magus have pulled off another great record and I know this one was short but I don’t have anything bad to say and the music really speaks for itself.  This one get’s a firm recommendation from me.

4.5/5

Mick Birchall

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Liv Kristine: “I’d love to further cooperate with Simone”

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , on 9th January 2016 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Nico interviewed Liv Kristine, the charismatic and Valkyrie-like frontwoman of Leaves’ Eyes in Sheffield on their UK tour, in support of the new album King of Kings.

Nico: Hi Liv, how are you?

Liv: Very good, how are you?

N: I’m great, thanks.

L: Good to see you again.

N: Good to see you too. How has the tour gone so far?

L: Really really well. We’re on the UK leg of the tour now and we have one third of the tour still to play. That’s going to be for the UK only. The first leg was for the rest of Europe which was really nice too. Paris: awesome, Belgium: awesome. But the UK is always something special, we have a very big and strong fan base here. We have fans and friends who follow us for every gig and that’s a privilege. I see that the market for our kind of music is growing here, and that’s maybe not the case in Germany. So it’s very good to be back, we’ve already played three gigs and it has been absolutely fantastic.

N: You’ve released a new album recently: King of Kings – which you’ve based on Harald Fairhair. Obviously Scandinavian history, old Norse history in general, is full of fascinating characters like Eirik Bloodaxe.

L: That’s one of Harald’s sons. You’ll find him in the first or second bonus track, it’s called Trail of Blood. That’s a song about him. So who knows what the next Leaves’ Eyes album is going to be about. We know that Harald had many sons and daughters.

N: There are so many other characters like Erik the Red or Leif Erikson. What is it about Harald Fairhair that stood out from the rest of all these great characters and infamous villains? What made you want to do an album based on his life and his legacy?

L: Because I grew up with the legacy of Harald Fairhair. The decisive battle that made him become the king of Norway took place in a fjord called Hafrsfjord, which is my birthplace. So Harald Fairhair has always been there. I’ve always been interested in history and it happened exactly two years ago, over a morning cup of coffee that Alex came up with this idea: what about king of kings? I started digging through all my books and I contacted my mother in Norway to collect stuff at museums and libraries. So it has been amazing to study Harald Fairhair’s life and to divide it into twelve chapters. Parallel to my studies, Alex and Thorsten composed songs at the studio. We’ve been very busy, it has been a very intense process but highly creative. We had so much fun and it means a lot to me to have this album released. It’s definitely a milestone in the career of Leaves’ Eyes. And as I said, it happened at my birthplace so.

N: I highly praised the album for Valkyrian Music..

L: Thank you very much! I read it, of course.

N:Good! Obviously it’s brilliant to see that you guys got back to how you originally started with tales of Viking warriors, going forth into battle, exploring lands and so on. How would you say that King of Kings compares to the rest of the Leaves’ Eyes discography?

L: I’d say King of Kings has a connection to The Vinland Saga, which was thematically about Leif Erikson and his discovery of America. So if there is a link to any other album, I’d say The Vinland Saga. You already mentioned the folky instruments and the folky touch and the orchestra and everything so it has been there all the time but every album has been different. Now King of Kings happened, it was great to see how everything came together. We worked on every song as if it were one individual piece of music. We added any instrument from London Voices to White Russian Orchestra, cello, flutes…everything. We worked on every song until all three of us, Thorsten, Alex and I being perfectionists, said okay let’s go for the mix, its fine.

N: On this album you added Simone Simons from Epica and Lindy-Fay Hella from Wardruna. What was it like working with those two women on the two tracks that they featured on?

L: Absolutely amazing. Of course I know of the series Vikings and I just thought the music is amazing, the soundtrack is amazing! Who is that girl singing? I found out she’s from Bergen! Through a common friend of mine and of Wardruna, I got Lindy-Fay‘s contacts. I contacted her and she said “of course, I know you and I would really like to work with you”. So I sent her Blazing Waters and we were blown away. A couple of weeks later I flew to Bergen and met Lindy-Fay. I presented her Blazing Waters and she loved it, it was definitely golden. She’s a lovely girl and a great musician.

Simone lives one hour away from us so it was about time to invite her to come to our studio. She’s been at our place before but it has been quite a while. She’s a mother now so she’s busy, but she came by and she listened to the song and…I’d say we are a perfect match. Lovely, lovely to work with her.

N: Obviously Epica and Leaves’ Eyes, despite falling into the symphonic metal genre, have got two completely distinct styles. Do you think there will be any sort of crossover between from the recent collaboration between you and Simone?

L: I don’t know. I have no clue, we’ll see. I love Simone and her work, she’s a lovely girl and we are both mothers… We live one hour away from each other so who knows. I’d love to further cooperate with Simone. It would be great.

N: Going back to Harald Fairhair. You obviously studied his saga, his life story quite extensively for the album. What would you say is the most fascinating aspect about the man?

L: We got a few facts about Harald through Snorri, but Snorri came about a couple of hundred years later. Next to that we got the sagas and the tales of the Norwegian kings, where you can find a lot of interesting written words about them to honor them. I think it is absolutely amazing to read the different approaches to his person, because he must have been exactly as unruly, wild like his son Eirik Bloodaxe. He must have been exactly like that himself. In many of the tales or poems about Harald it is told that he was beautiful and that he could have had any woman: he was very glorious. It’s fascinating to read other stories like the battle of Hafrsfjord; about blood being everywhere and the fjord burning or different sceneries, a different Harald.

N: He certainly sounds like an interesting figure. As a fan of both Vikings and Game of Thrones, which one do you prefer?

L: Vikings. Last time it would have been Game of Thrones but it’s Vikings now because of the music. Of course because of my friend Lindy-Fay who’s in there. Although it’s made in Hollywood, I think it’s very nice. It’s very nice to watch those great actors. I love it. And also because I’m Norwegian.

N: That’s very good. Thank you for your time. Have a lovely show tonight.

L: You’re welcome, thank you very much and thanks for coming.

Leaves’ Eyes online:

http://leaveseyes.de 

Leaves’ Eyes – King of Kings

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 29th September 2015 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Leaves’ Eyes
King of Kings
Symphonic Metal/Gothic Metal
Released: September 2015
via AFM Records

If you call yourself a symphonic metal fan and you’ve never come across Leaves’ Eyes, then clearly, you live under a rock. Formed by former Theatre of Tragedy vocalist Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes have become an established act known for their fusing of folky elements, crestfallen symphonies and straight up metal. Following their arrival at AFM Records, King of Kings became one of the most anticipated albums within the symphonic metal genre this year.

Sweven opens up the track with an almost mournful composition that clearly shows traditional elements of Norse music. The soaring vocals of frontwoman Liv add to the mourning emotion of the song. The title track, King of Kings, marches with a regal use of orchestral compositions, that bolster the ranks of the song while the differing use of vocals – choir, Alexander’s and Liv’s – make the song ever more enchanting.

Halvdan the Black lunges forward with a tragic sounding choir and the rune-binding voice of Liv. Alexander’s bestial voice adds a fierce, war-like edge to the song, joining the antagonistic riffs and narrative symphonies. The Waking Eye dances ever so gently with its alluring concoction of different elements, each note more winsome than the last and the vocals sound so sirenic during this track.

Feast of the Year acts as a good-natured interval before the more Celtic-orientated waltz that is Vengeance Venom enters the ballroom. The Celtic-styled melodies bring an upbeat atmosphere to the album while the lyrics, poetically sang, appear to be of a darker nature. Sacred Vow has all the makings of a heroic piece: A powerful story involving the love of a fair maiden, a war between clans and awe-inspiring music. Everything just seems to fall together, as though this song was meant to be.

Leaves’ Eyes have been known to have guest appearances on their albums in the past, so it comes as no surprise that Edge of Steel features none other than Epica vocalist Simone Simons. The track comes across as an anthem of war, one to be sung by Nordic warriors as they charge into fray armed only with an axe and shield. The orchestral aspects of the song sound quite lion-hearted, adding renewed vigor to the vocals and potency to the already snarling guitars. Simone’s saintly voice cuts through the track like a knife through butter – The duet between herself and Liv Kristine is better than imagined.

Haraldskvædi – which appears to be based on the Old Norse poem Hrafnsmal (Raven’s Song) – combines both English and Norwegian lyrics with eerie whispering, low-spirited vocals and traditional folk elements, with flows smoothly from the previous track and into the next song. Blazing Waters also features a special guest, Lindy-Fay Hella, who is best known for her work with Wardruna.  The song begins with the alluring sounds of traditional folk instrumentation and hypnotic vocal lines before the guitars and drums jump forward, roaring like Fenrir at Ragnarok. The contrast of three vocalists with the differing elements of folk and metal really shows the adaptability of Leaves’ Eyes both in talent and sound.

The album finishes with Swords In Rock, another song that makes a powerful use of Celtic-inspired medleys. The pace and feel of the song makes the listener want to jump up and start dancing some sort of Irish jig, while guzzling whiskey or something of the like from a horn. A fine way to finish the album.

With King of Kings, Leaves’ Eyes appear to have gone back to their earlier roots – not just with the Viking inspired lyrics but the folk influences as well though there are a lot of new aspects for the band found in the album as well. King of Kings is a testament to the continuing saga of Leaves’ Eyes as well as their talent and adaptability, clearly they’re a band that won’t stay within the borders of their safe zone when there are new musical lands to be discovered and conquered by these fine warriors.

5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Leaves’ Eyes online:

http://leaveseyes.de
http://facebook.com/leaveseyesofficial
http://twitter.com/leaves_eyes

Details on new Unleashed album revealed

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 10th February 2015 by Pieni

Swedish death metalheads – and founders of Viking death metal – Unleashed have revealed details of their upcoming 12th studio album. “Dawn Of The Nine” is its title and the cover looks like this:

 photo unleashed_zpsyfcltxfv.jpg

Recorded by producer and guitar player Fredrik Folkare in his own Chrome Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, “Dawn Of The Nine” features ten tracks with “riffs that are pure shrapnel” and “epic choruses”:

1. A New Day Will Rise
2. They Came To Die
3. Defenders Of Midgard
4. Where Is Your God Now?
5. The Bolt Thrower
6. Let The Hammer Fly
7. Where Churches Once Burned
8. Land Of The Thousand Lakes
9. Dawn Of The Nine
10. Welcome The Son Of Thor!

“The artwork represents the continuation of our previous album, which ended with ‘The Great Battle of Odalheim’. The battle took place at Uppsala fields in Sweden, and you can clearly see the ‘kings graves’ at the cover art work which is present at Uppsala also in the future. You can also see the bombed out Church in the far distance.
Then of course, you see the place of Blot in the front and the rune stone with the runic symbol of courage of the new dawn”, comments frontman Johnny Hedlund.

Set for release on the 27th April via Nuclear Blast, pre-orders are now available in the following formats:

Limited White Vinyl from NB UK store: http://www.nuclearblaststore.co.uk/shop/nuclearblast/proddetail.php?prod=NBL_unleashed_dawnLP

Limited Black Vinyl from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/gp/product/B00T63YHX8

Limited Digipack CD from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/gp/product/B00T63YBPM

unleashed.se 

facebook.com/unleashed

nuclearblast.de/unleashed

Turisas post making-of video for “Ten More Miles”

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 27th September 2013 by Pieni

 photo Press_Photo_03_zps3de6bc20.jpg

Four weeks ago, Turisas released the official video for “Ten More Miles”, taken from their latest album “Turisas 2013”. Now they let the fans to go into the backstage of that filming, posting a making-of video on their label Century Media‘s YouTube channel:

Currently touring Europe as part of the Heidenfest 2013, they will go on a 5-show headlining tour through the UK on the following dates:

08.10.2013 Bristol – Fleece
09.10.2013 London – O2 Academy Islington
10.10.2013 Nottingham – Rock City
11.10.2013 Glasgow – Cathouse
12.10.2013 Manchester – Club Academy

Turisas online:
http://www.turisas.com/
https://www.facebook.com/turisas
https://twitter.com/turisasofficial
http://www.youtube.com/turisasofficial

Century Media Records online:
http://www.centurymedia.com
http://www.myspace.com/centurymediaeurope
http://www.youtube.com/centurymedia
http://twitter.com/centurymediaeu
http://www.facebook.com/centurymedia
http://gplus.to/centurymedia

Tyr enlist George Kollias for upcoming album; Liv Kristine announced as guest vocalist

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16th May 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Hailing from the Faroe Islands, Týr are currently recording their new album with producer Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Aborted, Mercenary) at his studios in Denmark. For drum tracking on this album, Týr have enlisted the services of George Kollias, one of metal’s most accomplished drummers, primarily known for his work in Nile, as well as Nightfall. A video featuring drum tracking highlights, as well as a short message from Kollias, is streaming now on YouTube, which can be viewed here.

George Kollias comments on the experience:

Hey Týr fans, this is George Kollias and I hope you are ALL ready for a crushing new album from Týr!!! I had the pleasure to record the drums on the new album, we had an absolutely great time in the studio and I gotta tell you, the material is super strong and catchy, I’m 100% sure you will all love this new album!! Big thanks to Heri, Terji and Gunnar for the opportunity and to Jacob Hansen for his incredible work with the recordings!

Týr comments: 

It was a pleasure to have George in studio. He’s an amazing drummer and he certainly made an impact on this album. We’re very excited to release this album.

A recent announcement on the Týr Facebook page has confirmed that the band has parted ways with drummer Kári Streymoy. The band commented on the amicable split:

We regret to inform you that Kári Streymoy and the rest of the band have parted ways. Kári suffered a back injury in 2008, and since then he has had some issues with his drumming. That is the main reason that the co-operation has been problematic for some time now, and we finally decided to part ways. We want to thank Kári for his time in the band. It’s been great to have you with us, we wish you the best of luck in the future and we hope you recover fully some day.

This album will be the band’s seventh full length effort. One of the new tracks, The Lay of Our Love, will feature a duet with Týr vocalist Heri Joensen and Liv Kristine from Leaves Eyes. In an update on Leaves Eyes’ official Facebook page, Kristine announced:

Dear Viking-Metal Fans & Friends,
I am very happy to announce that I will be joining Týr for the duet The Lay Of Our Love on their up-coming album (title still to be revealed), which is set to be released this Fall. Heri already joined Leaves’ Eyes at our headliner show in Wacken Open Air 2012. This was an absolute highlight during our live performance, moreover, I really like his voice and I am grateful for the invitation. A superb track, with inspiring melodies and lyrics, proving the authenticity of Týr.
Love,
Liv

More details will be unveiled in the forthcoming months as music and art are completed. The band has been posting images from the studio throughout the recording process, so make sure to follow them on their official Facebook page for candid photos and personal updates from the band.

Týr online:

http://www.tyr.fo/
https://www.facebook.com/tyrband
http://twitter.com/tyrband