Archive for Yorkshire Metal

XIII unveil artwork for Deeds Of The Saints: Chapters I – V

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 1st September 2013 by Nico Davidson

Today Hull thrashers XIII (That’s 13 for those not familiar with Roman numerals) have unveiled the artwork (see above) for their upcoming EP Deeds Of The Saints: Chapters I – V. The EP was recorded at Fruit Trade Studios in Hull and is scheduled for potential release in November. Deeds Of The Saints: Cpaters I – V track list is follows:

1 – We Are Everywhere
2 – Narcotics
3 – Acta Sanctorum
4 – Deliverance
5 – Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted

XIII online:

http://facebook.com/xiiirocks

Paradise Lost celebrate 25th anniversary with special guests Lacuna Coil

Posted in Featured, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 21st May 2013 by Nico Davidson

Thirteen albums into Paradise Lost‘s 25 year career, namedropping is pointless. The only band they can and should be held up against for comparison and consideration is… Well… Paradise Lost.

With a career dating back to 1988, and their official recording debut in 1990 (Lost Paradise), the band has been riding and rollercoaster of highs and lows. Guitarist Aaron Aedy remembers the early days:

I remember our first rehearsal at Studio X in the Dean Clough complex of Halifax, it was Saturday March 26th between the hours of one and four pm. We had a few ideas flying around and managed to write our first opus ‘Blood-filled-eyes’ and start our 2nd ‘Plains of Desolation’, I can only describe these songs as unique.

Afterwards we all went to the pub after to celebrate. Three and a half months later we were playing live, supporting Acid Reign and Re-Animator at the legendary Frog and Toad Night Club in Bradford. We had a 30 minute slot and only 15 minutes of music so we played one song twice, attempted a Sodom cover we hadn’t even learned and Nick [Holmes, vocals] did his stand up for the rest of it.

Throughout their career, Paradise Lost have not only created and defined genres and styles, but almost immediately transcended them. From the crawling, harrowing doom of their 1990 debut Lost Paradise, to the electronic flourishes prevalent in 1997’s One Second, 1999’s Host and 2007’s comeback to the heavier side of metal In Requiem and the latest opus Tragic Idol in 2012, their sound has continued to evolve vastly, but haunting melody and dark rock power has remained at the very core of their identity.

In 1991 the band released Gothic, not so much an album title as the definition for an entire genre, while the influence 1995’s huge-selling masterpiece Draconian Times – the missing link between Metallica and the Sisters of Mercy – echoes loudly in today’s scene, with the likes of Cradle of Filth, Nightwish and HIM owing a huge debt to their knack for injecting heavy rock with their trademark dark sheen.

Now it’s time to celebrate 25 years of glamour and gloom with four anniversary shows in October to which the band have invited their friends Lacuna Coil. Another, very special guest, will be announced shortly for those dates.

Paradise Lost anniversary shows:

Oct 30th – Wolverhampton – Wulfrun Hall (www.wolvescivic.co.uk)
Oct 31st – Glasgow – ABC (www.ticketweb.co.uk)
Nov 1st – Manchester – Ritz (www.kililive.com)
Nov 3rd – London – Roundhouse (www.kililive.com)

Tickets go on pre-sale Wednesday 22nd May and general sale Friday 24th May and a special VIP package is available to buy (limited to 25 per venue) which includes:

  • An exclusive deluxe box containing 2 engraved beer glasses featuring all the bands album titles and crown of thorns logo.
  • Exclusive VIP Only T-Shirt with artwork from the forthcoming Tragic Illusion album.
  • A 180 gram vinyl copy of the reissued landmark Gothic, personally signed by all the band members.
  • Crown of Thorns Tote Bag
  • VIP lanyard and laminate allowing you access to the show
  • Early access to the show
  • Meet and greet with the band
  • Photo opportunity with the band (please bring your own camera)

Nick had this to say about the forthcoming anniversary shows:

25 years IS a long time, on the surface we may look ramshackled, but playing music for so many years has kept us young in our hearts and I truly believe that a youthful spirit is one of the greatest things you can’t buy in a pub.

We have written many albums, played many concerts; we are older and not really any wiser, but there is a strong possibility we may play a song you thought we never would. So please come along and join the celebrations with us, including our biggest UK headline show to date!

Lacuna Coil’s frontwoman Cristina adds:

Paradise Lost were in between the bands that strongly influenced me as a singer, when I started my career with Lacuna Coil, so it is just awesome for me to realise we’ll share the stage with them on this upcoming tour.

I am sure that the dark vibe coming from the stage will totally embrace old school and new fans making it an event you absolutely CAN’T miss! Boy, I can’t wait!

Stay tuned for more exciting anniversary announcements including a special audio surprise for fans!

Paradise Lost online:

http://www.paradiselost.co.uk
http://facebook.com/paradiselostofficial

Lacuna Coil online:

http://www.lacunacoil.it
http://www.twitter.com/lacuna_coil
http://www.myspace.com/lacunacoil
http://www.youtube.com/lacunacoil
http://www.facebook.com/lacunacoil

Interview with Alex Cook [Narcotic Death]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on 29th January 2013 by Nico Davidson

 

Narcotic Death have left a trail of horror and destruction in the five years they’ve been on the UK’s extreme metal scene and at one point, even boasted My Dying Bride’s violinist/keyboardist Shaun MacGowan amongst their ranks. With their new album, Dies Irae, currently in the works, Narcotic Death‘s vocalist Alex Cook sits down with Valkyrian Music’s editor, Nico, to reveal the grizzly details about the new album and what devious plans the band have in store for the masses.

Nico: What’s the meaning behind the band’s name, Narcotic Death?

Alex: The band name is open to interpretation. For me, it illustrates the soothing capacity of euthanasia and a slow, sleeping death through the injecting of narcotic substances. A seduction of the living senses to dying. Death is something that we all fear in mortal capacity, and perhaps it is wrong to do so, because it is through that fear that we hold on too long and subject our bodies and minds to degradation. If we were more accepting, the journey would be easier; life would be more fulfilling, and grieving less painful.

Nico: You’ve been working on the new album, Dies Irae, what are the prominent themes of the album?

Alex: Warped religious ideals, debauchery, cynicism and punishment. Some of the songs on the album are re-workings of religious tales. Rain is about a deluge from Heaven that drowns humankind. The Accuser is about Christ and the Devil discussing how the religious experiment has failed because even Christ himself cannot endure the torments he inflicts on human kind and The Butcher and the Scribe details a plague upon mankind sent by Heaven’s destroying angels. The other tracks, such a Gorgon and Throne of Stars use humanity’s ignorance and worthlessness as themes.

Nico: Dies Irae is Latin for “Day of Wrath”. Why did you choose this to be the title of the album?

Alex: To incorporate the religious themes and also to highlight how humanity has failed itself and awaits some form of punishment. Religion is an excuse, and our ignorance is too for turning a blind eye and idealising our stained living conditions. The title track Dies Irae embodies these themes most obviously by approaching the matter of child abuse within the church and the casual indifference of the masses because of the power religion still possesses. ‘Intelligence insists the absence of religion, the wholesomeness of our existence, chained to our decay. A man that cannot control himself is no longer free. They know this. They have always known.’ Overall, the title is an embodiment of the main notion within the album; that one day soon, our evils will come back to haunt us, and when it does, we will blame others, but it is ourselves who are guilty.

Nico: What song do you feel will be the strongest track on the album?

Alex: My personal favourite is Cainite because it is laden with doom and suffocating misery. You lose yourself in those sweeping riffs, and the lyrics are chant-like in places to illustrate the character’s despair. It tells a biblical story from another point of view, and this is something I greatly enjoyed doing with most of the tracks on the album. You are taught them one way, but when you look more deeply, there is only darkness and a sordid idealism. The Butcher and the Scribe is probably the strongest track, because of its subject matter and crushing, aggressive guitar riffs and drum patterns. Every member shines on that track, but the others all have distinct qualities of their own whether it be an impending sense of doom, visceral terror or disgust and fury.

Nico: Narcotic Death have played a fair share of gigs and obviously with a number of different bands, which bands have you enjoyed gigging with the most?

Alex: Our gigging history is quite a lengthy one, but I think Severed Heaven are a band that we have known and admired for a very long time; we played our second ever gig with them, and our most recent one, so they are a band that we have grown with. They’re a delightful group of ladies, and it is difficult not to be taken in by them and their unique ‘chug’.

Nico: How will Dies Irae differ from previous Narcotic Death releases?

Alex: I think that the new album will show a degree of maturity both with regards to technique and song writing. Our intention is a lot clearer here than it was with the other releases, and I think that makes for a stronger, more memorable impression. The other releases, our EP for instance was honest, but had a lot of different styles on it; there wasn’t a sound distinctly ours, and the first album was more or less the same due to line-up changes. It has taken five years to develop a sound that is true and recognisable as ours, and that has as much to do with people that have left the line-up as the ones that are still here. Everybody left a scar somewhere.

Nico: How has the experience of recording Dies Irae gone so far?

Alex: Very well. Going in the studio is always a daunting time for any musician, but I am proud of what has been accomplished so far. As of this time, I have yet to go and record my voKILLS, but I have been redrafting my lyrics and planning out the different sections so the sound will be visceral and terrifying with a multitude of layers. Appropriate for such layered and traumatic subject matter. I want the music to be felt as well as heard.

Nico: As it’s still early in the year, what lies in store for Narcotic Death throughout 2013?

Alex: More acquaintances to be made, more countries to be seen and more people to be terrified into submission. First and foremost, is to get the album released so we have something to show for ourselves at any future gigs. We are also hoping to shoot a music video for one of the tracks; a Narcotic Death first that will undoubtedly be a great experience, as well as something to show off and express our madness through.

Nico: If you could take any poem or other piece of literature and turn into a piece of music, which one would it be and why?

Alex: Paradise Lost by [John] Milton would be an excellent choice, just for how the tale twists and turns from awe of heaven, to grief and anger at being cast out, as well as wonder and bereavement at walking on earth. It is hopelessly romantic, melancholic and sincere. Imagine soundscapes, maybe with just a few whispered phrases. For a work like that with such power, words are not needed to express what it is trying to say.

Nico: Describe Narcotic Death‘s sound in five or less words.

Alex: Traumatic visceral Swedish-esque near-death experience.

Nico: If you replace the soundtrack to any film with your own music, which one would it be and why?

Alex: Perhaps one of the Universal classics, such as Dracula or Frankenstein. That era of film was a realm unto itself, and our music would add to their sinister edge, or be complemented by the strange, but beautiful images on screen. 

Nico: Are there any bands you’d like to recommend to our readers?

Alex: Severed Heaven for glorious chugging riffs and painful vocals. Ebony Lake for a surreal, tormenting sound stupor. Nightshadows Lament for classic, doom soaked black metal.

Nico: Do you have anything to say our readers?

Alex: Thank you very much for reading and expressing an interest in our sinister cynicism. I hope that the misery we breed will live on in you, and in turn, infect others. I hope too, that I will be able to meet you at one of our gigs, and that you will be heartily traumatised by all we have to offer.

You can follow Narcotic Death at the following locations:

https://www.facebook.com/narcoticdeath
http://www.myspace.com/narcoticdeath616

Ravenage w/Support @ Hollywood & Vine, Hull [Live Review]

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 12th December 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Ravenage, Infernal Creation, Windrider
Location: Hollywood & Vine, Kingston Upon Hull
Date: 10th December

All things come in threes as the saying goes and that was certainly true on the cold Saturday night as three of Hull’ finest metal bands were ready blow the proverbial roof off of Hollywood & Vine. It was also the third time that I would be seeing Infernal Creation, Windrider and Ravenage so the buzz of excitement that was in the air certainly added to my excitement as well.

Windrider opened the proceedings though frontman Elliot was absent from the stage at the beginning of the first songIMG_0007 but he did make himself known when he took to the stage in time for the first vocal section. The bassist Hallam was also absent but a replacement bassist called Greig had took his place for the night – Or at least that’s what I’m assuming anyway. As usual, Windrider performed a tight and mighty sounding set though one parts the fierce roar of the guitars and the keyboard samples did sound to be quite drowned out by the vocals but fortunately it wasn’t the case for the full set. The drum and bass work definitely deserve praise as well. “The Hall Of The Slain” was definitely one of the stronger sounding songs in Windrider’s set. Windrider are definitely a band to see if you’re a fan of the likes of Amon Amarth, Ensiferum and Turisas.

Windrider – The Hall Of The Slain

in  (21)Infernal Creation soon took to the stage after Windrider, bringing their fierce and violent brand of British black metal with them. The tempestuous roar of guitars blasted through the amps like a hurricane as the vocal work of Neiph did much to savagely entertain the crowd. The vehement performance of “The Angel Of Endless Hunger” was definitely a treat to listen to as well, along with the feral sounds of “The Insidious Gospel”. Infernal Creation definitely proved themselves to be one of the finest black metal bands in the abyss that is the British metal underground.

IMG_0151And so then it came to the headlining act for the night, none other than Hull’s very own Ravenage, who earlier this year toured with Nothgard, Celtachor and Infernal Creation as part of the Warhorns Over Aengland tour. Taking to the stage in their Viking outfits, they performed a mighty sounding set, most of which was dominated by majestic IMG_0224sounding songs such as “Winter Ternia”, “Let Vengeance Quell My Agony” and “More Beer” from the new album “Fresh From Fields Of Victory” all of which were simply fantastic. The frontman Glyn did much to show what a great showman he is, including bringing out the old sword – Something which I’d only witnessed once before at a show Ravenage played a few years back in Bridlington. Of course the fun didn’t end there as Ravenage performed a fine rendition of “Viking Dream” from their EP “Hardrada’s Fall” and a fun, folk metal version of “Drunken Sailor” that had everyone dancing. Much to my surprise, they finished the show off with a performance of my favourite Ravenage track “Ravenser”, which sounds better live than the recorded version – The recorded version is still epic though.

The crowd certainly seemed to enjoy the show and so did I. If Ravenage, Infernal Creation or Windrider ever come to your town (or city or village or house or farm), you better make sure you see them because all three put on a damn good show and when they’re all on the same bill, “epic” would be an understatement.

Nico Davidson

Ravenage will be supporting Tyr at Fibbers in York on 18th February. To order your tickets, go to: http://asgardonline.co.uk/asgard_events.html

Morpheus Rising w/Support [Live Review]

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 10th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Morpheus Rising, Lost Effect & Cryptic Age
Location: The Duchess, York
Date: 8th October 2011

Morpheus Rising have established a strong fan base with their NWOBHM styling, so with them on the bill, any show is guaranteed to be a good night. The only thing to make it better would be to add fellow York-based bands to the bill in the form of Lost Effect [This was their first gig with their new vocalist] and Cryptic Age.

The night began with the female-fronted folk metal quartet, Cryptic Age, opening up. The crowd was small to begin with though that didn’t stop the band from being in their element up on stage. Cryptic Age’s sound sounded massive as it echoed throughout the venue, as they performed songs such as “No Folkin’ Way” and “On The Bare, Cold Ground”, both of which are from their EP “Homeland”. The bassist’s spoken part in “The Aftermath” created a very epic atmosphere. They also performed for the first time ever “Eternity Beckons”, part two of “Sounds Of Infinity”, which will be featured on their album [Sounds Of Infinity]. The song had a short yet majestic, symphonic sound before turning into a heavy assault of metal – Probably the heaviest song Cryptic Age have ever written and performed. They received a brilliant reaction from the crowd after each song.


Lost Effect were the main support for the night and as mentioned above, this was their first gig with their new vocalist, Emily. Lost Effect’s set was a brilliant mix of mellow and brutal music, sort of like a less symphonic, more Yorkshire styled version of Epica. The new vocalist, with all due respect to her predecessor, seemed to gel with the band superbly – Stronger vocals and great stage presence, though she did seem nervous throughout parts of Lost effect’s set, though this didn’t affect the overall performance. “Whispers” was certainly a highlight of the set.



Morpheus Rising took to the stage shortly after putting on an immense show in true NWOBHM fashion. The vocals of the frontman were nothing short of amazing while the twin guitar work kept the crowd on wanting more from the band. they had a very 80s kind of sound with a modern twist mixed in there as well. “The Gypsy King” – Which caused a slight wave of giggles from some of the audience when it was announced – and “Shades Of Grey” were definitely crowd favourites performed by Morpheus Rising. The only thing that was off-putting about their set was the lack of a crowd, which was both shocking and concerning considering the sheer brilliance of the band.



The overall verdict: Definitely a gig that could easily secure a spot in the top ten gigs of 2011. Both support acts [Cryptic Age & Lost Effect] put on simply amazing performances and there was no better choice for a headlining act than Morpheus Rising. Any promoter with half a brain cell would want to book a show of this calibre for sometime in the future.

Nico Davidson

Photos of the gig are available on the Valkyrian Music Facebook page.

Severed Heaven – Incessant Darkness [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 6th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Severed Heaven
Album: Incessant Darkness
Release year: 2010
Genre: Extreme Metal/Yorkshire Metal

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Metal has always been a male-dominated scene, especially within the extreme metal scenes, though that hasn’t stopped the all-female brutalising force known as “Severed Heaven” from dominating the metal scene in their native Leeds and West Yorkshire. Severed Heaven have established a solid fan base and made a big name for themselves in the North of England.

The album starts with the intro track “The Fading Light”, composed of a majestic yet angry guitar medley. The album properly starts with the introduction of “Soul Desecration”, which has a very early Gorgoroth-like sound to it terms of the vocals. The slow use of drum and guitars at the beginning adds emphasis on the vocal work, giving them an extra bite. As the tempo of the instruments increases, the song becomes ever so much more violent sounding. The guitars are certainly impressive due to their crunchy and chugging sound, virtually multiplying the heaviness of the song. There are some slower moments in the second half of the track, which like the introduction, reinforce the vocals with an extra dose of aggression.

“Alone I Perish” blasts its way next, with a fast-paced tempo and a violent riff. The vocals are raw and harsh, adding that obscenely aggressive touch to the music. The track is basically as brutal and devastating as a collision between a monster truck and a bus. The slower sections flow nicely with the music. The introduction of “Autumn” packs a sluggish punch, heavy yet slow. The vocals stand out the most during in this song. The guitars help to keep the bloodthirsty edge of the song going from beginning to end, though the drums seem to be more enjoyable to hear.

“Desolation” brings about an old school death-meets-black metal kind of sound with a slight modern influence. Musically, it is fierce and unrelenting, like cornered wolf fighting to survive. Vocally, it could easily be mistaken for a song by Astarte. This is definitely one of the superior tracks on the album, virtually a masterpiece, due its brutalising sound and passionate composition. “Edge Of Despair” has a very melancholy sound and feel to it throughout the intro section. The melancholy sound seems to the calm before the storm as the song takes a sudden and sinister twist into something far heavier, aggressive and barbaric whilst showing signs of intelligent composition and soulful talent. The vocals sound like the hateful growls and screams of a demonic legion – Making this song that more sinister.

”Seal The Cavity” seems to lack in the heavy department, compared to the previous tracks, leaving the vocals feeling too powerful in sections. “Fallen Flesh of Worthlessness” starts with a riff too mellow for an album that has so far brought the thunder. Fortunately, the mellowness is stopped dead in its track and completely sodomised by the unexpected occurrence of a bloodthirsty guitar riff, mixed with the heavy drum work and very Hellish vocals. The bass lines are simply amazing throughout out the song, certainly adding some major low-end thunder to the guitar work.

Nearing the end comes “Traumatic Period”. The introduction is heavy, brutal and raw yet feels like its missing something. The feeling carries on throughout most of the track. Some of the guitar work during in the second half is interesting, to say the least. The album finishes with “Earth Decayed”. The intro is very old school black metal sounding in its style and the bass adds a unique sound to it as well. The riffs are well composed, bringing a certain fire to the track whilst the drums keep that ravenous, aggressive sound flowing. The vocals are impressive as well, switching brilliantly between screams and growls.

”Incessant Darkness”, put simply, is pure ingenious extreme metal in its prime – And the fact it’s an album by five lovely ladies in just a bonus. For the most part, the album excites the listener’s ears like drugs excites an addict. It’s hard to believe, after hearing this album [Incessant Darkness], that Severed Heaven aren’t being the main support for bands like Dimmu Borgir or Gorgoroth. Incessant Darkness is certainly a great addition to the extreme metal fan’s collection.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Aloeswood – Forsaken Landscapes [2011]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 1st October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Aloeswood
Album: Forsaken Landscapes EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Post-Black Metal/Folk/Yorkshire Metal

Aloeswood is the solo project of Yorkshire-based musician Danny Downing [Windrider, Ravenage]. Forsaken Landscapes was recorded at Danny’s home and produced by Danny Downing and Elliot Vernon [Windrider, Ravenage] in Muspelheim Studio, Yorkshire.

The first track of the EP is “Farewell”, which begins with a heavy and aggressive riff mixed with precise, barbaric drum work. The guitars have a slight melodic touch that echo through their composition, adding a unique sound to their black metal styling. The vocals are raw and bloodthirsty, mixing well with the riffs. The outro piano medley adds a very solemn sound to both the song and the EP. The solemn sound continues on into the title track “Forsaken Landscapes”, in the form of a clean guitar section. The hate-fuelled shredding of guitars soon takes over though, ruining the mood that had been created slightly. The bass section comes as shock, taking away some of the energy of the music though the guitars soon plough their way back into the song. The vocals are welcomed almost instantly with the melodic riffs, bringing an interesting sound with them. The acoustic sections bring about a certain enchanting folk sound to the song before being replaced by the heavier, distorted guitar riffs.

”The Lake Of Shattered Hope” is one of two instrumentals on the EP and despite the somewhat emo-like name, the track is far from being emo. The entire song is like a slow, mesmerising folk song composed entirely of an acoustic guitar with a touch of viola and cello. “Nostalgia” follows after, carrying on the use of acoustic guitars. The heavy section that follows after builds up towards the introduction of the vocals. There is a brilliant use of female vocal work on this track, provided by Shamsi Modarai. Her voice just seems perfect for the song and style of music. The keyboard sections inject a much-needed atmosphere into the song as well, keeping the track sounding fresh. The EP finishes with the second instrumental “Like Rain To The Ground”. It begins with a calm yet partially heavy guitar part, slowly building up to the introduction of the keyboard voices, adding a subtle beauty to the song.

“Forsaken Landscapes” is different to what you’d expect from a musician who plays in two folk metal bands. While there are elements of folk music, the EP is more black metal orientated with hints of progressive music as well. For the most part, this is a sweet EP and a damn good release in terms of the Yorkshire metal scene. It was everything a good EP should have: Decent tracks, good composition, excellent sound quality and a unique sound.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Forsaken Landscapes is available for free download here.

Rock The Ringside [Live Review]

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 30th September 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: XIII, Pastel Jack, Self Inflicted Revolution, Sunbeam Lipstick
Venue: The Ringside, Hull, East Yorkshire.
Date: 28th September

Rock The Ringside, organised by Hull based metal webzine Denim & Leather, certainly seemed to be the place to be on a warm Wednesday evening featuring four bands from Hull and the surrounding area. The first band to take to the stage were none other than Self Inflicted Revolution, a five piece metal outfit from Hull. They started the set with an original song called “All My Crimes”, which seemed like it could have been heavier than what it was. The band did an amazing rendition of “Hurt” (Orignally by Nine Inch Nails) and a good cover of “Cocaine” (Originally by Eric Clapton”). One thing that certainly stuck out about this band was the James Hetfield-sounding vocals and tight, heavy riffs.

Self Inflicted Revolution – All My Crimes

The second band of the night were Driffield-based trio Sunbeam Lipstick, who were an interesting bunch to say the least and despite their not-so-rock sounding name, some of their set was raw and aggressive. The drummer partook in the vocal work in some of the songs which was unusual to hear, to say the least and did seem to take something away from the drums. In other songs, the guitarist did the vocal work, though his vocals did seem to be more like a drone compared to that of the drummer’s. The bassist certainly kept a nice flow to the music either way though.

The main support of the night came in the home of local Yorkshire-styled thrash metal outfit Pastel Jack. They began their set in true metal style, with the vocalist moving into the crowd and encouraging them to come forward. Part of their set included songs such as “Part 2” and “Methematic”. Pastel Jack certainly added an energetic vibe to the event.


XIII were the headliners for “Rock The Ringside” and for good reason as well. They put on a hell of a show, pulling no punches with their set, though the frontman did prattle on a bit in between some of the songs. XIII played a fair few tracks from their upcoming album “North Of Nowhere”. “Rock The Ringside” was certainly a enjoyable night for the most part and those that attended seemed entertained enough.


Nico Davidson

Photos of the event can be found here.

Pastel Jack – Trojan Horse [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 9th August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Pastel Jack
Album: Trojan horse
Release year: 2011
Genre: Yorkshire Metal

Pastel Jack, since forming, have been tearing up their local music scene with their blend of aggressive music and catchy hooks. They’ve shared the stage with the likes of Sworn Amongst and XIII. Their newest release is “Trojan Horse”.

The thrash sounding riffs of the title track “Trojan Horse” comes first. At first, the drums don’t seem to mix well with the guitars. The vocals are powerful, full of strength and melody, contrasting well with the aggression of the guitars. As the track progresses on the drums improve vastly, adding to the fire of the music. The guitar solo has a slightly Iron Maiden meets Dream Theatre sound to it – A strange yet awesome sound for a solo. “Cold Light Of Day” comes next, with an angry introduction. The vocals come in with strength and force again. The drums are well played, perhaps being the highlight of the song.

”The Gentle Art Of Combustion” has a more approach in its introduction before it turns slightly more brutal. The vocals are soft yet powerful at the same time. The soft section, about half way through, that places a lot of emphasis on the bass is just spectacular. Though this track is slower paced, it still provides a health dose of vitamin metal. “The Sacred Self” begins with an immense drum sections. The guitar riffs that follow have a slight Trivium sound to them, the vocals however are far from Trivium-sounding. The drums play some good parts as well. The guitar solo is melodic and technical, adding to the unique sound of the song. “Condemned From The Start” starts with a great vocal-guitars-drums combo introduction. The use of double bass pedal through out the song is genius and the riffs, though seeming simplistic, are great, keeping that angry thrash metal feel to the album. The vocals are forceful and unyielding.

”Day Like You” has a very laid-back intro compared to the previous tracks though this changes when the tempo increases. The riffs and drum work are solid, tight and efficient. The vocals steadfast and somewhat zealous sounding, whilst being raw at the same time. The bass work makes the solo sound even more amazing. “Part One (The Ghost Within)” is very different sounding to the tracks due to its emphasis on slow, soft riffs and soothing vocals. While it takes some adjusting to get used to the calmness after several tracks of face melting aggression, the track shows the great talent of Pastel Jack as well as their musical diversity. “Part Two (Your Sick Machine)” blasts its way next a thunderous strike on the listener, something that those who love untamed, bone smashing brutality will enjoy. The vocals sound very heroic and epic in parts and the music is simply greatly composed and played.

”Flatline” is another forceful track, with almost black metal sounding riffs and drum work. The vocals are quite calm in comparison to the riffs and drum sections, which is a very intriguing sound for the song. “Methematic” has a very stimulating introduction, with most of the emphasis being on the drums before the guitars begin doing more work. The vocals are rather stalwart whilst the guitars and drums are wrathful and vehement sounding. Nearing the end of the album is “Synergy”. The riffs are very rage-fuelled and the vocals are quite hypnotic and malevolent. The bass work is brilliant and adds a little extra flare to the song.

”Swan Dive” begins with a soulful acoustic introduction with some gentle vocals. Even the drums are calm and mellow. The track builds up straight to the heavy section, which is when it becomes beefy and immense. The vocals stay slightly gentle though much stronger and powerful than at the beginning of the track. The album finishes with the bonus track “Down To A Sunless Sea”. The guitars seem very progressive yet thrash orientated in their playing and the vocals seem different as well. The drums are superbly played, as is the bass. The guitars are composed well, adding a very metal edge to the song.

From beginning to end, the album contains Yorkshire-styled thrash metal goodness – Recommended by any good doctor to be apart of your daily diet of metal. Pastel Jack show some amazing talent on this album and it’s clearly just a taster of what is to come from these Yorkshire musicians. This is an album worth getting, even if you are only a casual listener to metal.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Pastel Jack are one of thirteen bands playing at this year’s Valkyrian Festival.

Obsolete Tomorrow – Beauty Through Chaos [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 31st July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Obsolete Tomorrow
Album: Beauty Through Chaos
Release year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Death Metal/Yorkshire Metal

Obsolete Tomorrow is the solo project of Driffield based guitarist and producer Lee Rule [Ravenage, Windrider, ex-Divine Sinn]. The debut EP “Beauty Through Chaos” [A concept EP revolving around Rule’s life] was released through Rule’s label Xeroxed Records.

The generically named “Prelude” is the first track of the album. Even on a low volume the sheer aggression of the guitars and drums bursts through the speakers. “Battle Ready” comes shredding its way next with a violent combination of raw growls, guitars and drums. The guitars are acute in their composition and playing whilst the drums are masterfully played. The vocals are extremely impressive, almost demonic – Even the whispered growls are a great addition to the track and the EP. The guitar solo is brilliant, very melodic – Mixing well with the aggressive rhythm. Two songs in and the EP is already at a savagely awesome beginning.

The hard-bitten intro of “The Eternal Nightmare” blasts its way next with a ruthless combo of guitars and drums. The synths are a great part of the track, adding a calmness to the hurricane-like force of pure brutality. The drum work is precise but savagely brutal and the vocals are feral and beasty. The double bass pedal barrages are an ingenious addition to the track as well. “Let Chaos Rise” starts with a less rage-fuelled riff, being more akin to progressive metal than death metal, as can be heard in other sections of the track. The guitars and drums certainly show a progressive influence though the vocals keep the angst and aggression. The synths are amazing. There are some death metal elements in the guitars and drums – Good news for those whom aren’t a fan of progressive metal. The highlight of the song would definitely have to be the guitar solo.

”My Asylum” is one of the more lighter songs on the EP, featuring a masterful use of melodic guitar riffs. The track could be easily described as the calm before the storm, which is most true considering the bloodthirsty assault of metal that follows in the form of “The New Beginning” which mixes the aggression and heaviness of death metal with the interesting influences of progressive metal. The drum work is entertaining in its style and playing, blending well with the guitars and vocals. The vocals certainly add the brutal element to the song. The different tempos throughout the track add a new dynamic to the entire EP as well as the track.

”The Rise Of Beauty” is another softer song on the EP, being akin to a mixture of progressive and melodic metal. Surprisingly, there’s a use of female vocals that create the good ol’ “beauty and the beast” effect with the harsh growls. The riffs are very melodic and heavy in some sections. The choir voices from the synths add a very mystical and epic atmosphere to the track. The rough, aggression guitar work contrasts well with the soft, melodic riffs and the female vocals are just enchanting. The EP finishes with “The War Is Over”, another soft, progressive styled track that is the perfect end to a brilliant EP.

Both composition-wise and production-wise, Beauty Through Chaos is a masterpiece. If you didn’t know it was the debut release of Obsolete Tomorrow, you’d most certainly think it was a later release in Obsolete Tomorrow’s discography. Progressive death metal has never been so brilliantly composed! It’s probably the best release in the British metal scene.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Cryptic Age w/Support @ Stereo [Live Review]

Posted in Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Cryptic Age, Lost Effect, Windrider
Location: Stereo, York
Date: 15th July 2011

The night was certainly a most anticipated event as it was Cryptic Age’s first gig as the headlining band. Originally four bands were booked for the night but one of them had dropped out. The doors were due to open at 7:30pm though didn’t open until nearer 8pm – Though this didn’t deter those who had already arrived for a night of metal.

Critically acclaimed folk metal quartet Windrider were the first to perform. Their usual guitarist, Lee, was absent due to injury so Windrider’s bassist Hallam filled in on guitar whilst Cryptic Age’s bassist Tom filled in as bassist for the night. At the beginning of Windrider’s set, the crowd was somewhat small though they soon filled in after the first song “In The Hall Of The Slain”. Despite playing a small stage, the band were extremely active receiving a great reaction from the crowd, especially with the performances of “A Warrior’s Tale” [The title track of the recent Windrider EP of the same name] and “Slaughter From The Shadows”. It was certainly an impressive performance.

The second band of the night were Lost Effect who describe themselves as “melodic metal”. Their set was certainly most interesting as they mixed brutalising riffs with melodic sections topped off with the clean, operatic-like vocals of the front woman and violent grunts and growls of their keyboardist. Lost Effect had a superb stage presence and clearly wowed the crowd with songs such as “Whispers” and “We Are The Damned”. The only down side to their set was that it didn’t seem long enough.

The headliners, as stated above, were York based power-folk quartet Cryptic Age. Their set began with a metal version of the theme song from “Game Of Thrones”. The vocals were strong, as is to be expected. Cryptic Age interacted brilliantly with the audience in between songs. Some of the highlights of their set include “Homeland”, “Paragons Of War”  and “On The Cold Bare Ground” [all of which can be heard on Cryptic Age’s debut EP “Homeland”]. Their performance of “Bring Down The Sky” was mystifying, almost haunting. Cryptic Age also played some new songs including “Aftermath” and “Maelstrom”. “Aftermath” sounded like a combination of Iron Maiden and Ensiferum due to the very melodic guitar riffs while “Maelstrom” had a very tribal sounding chorus, especially when the crowd sang along.

All in all, the night was certainly an energetic, metal fuelled night with immense performances from three bands. Keep an eye out for these bands as they could soon be on Scuzz or playing at Bloodstock.

Nico Davidson

Interview: Lee Rule [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on 5th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

We sit down and speak with the “Lord of Brutality” Lee Rule about his up and coming “release “Alive” and other projects.

Nico: Hello. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today.

Lee: It’s fine, man. Anytime, anytime. It’s all good.

N: It was recently announced that you’re bringing out a new release “Alive” under your name rather than the Obsolete Tomorrow name. Is there any reason for this?

L: I was thinking at first of having it under the Obsolete moniker but I think it would be best on a different name because I think that Obsolete Tomorrow should be kept quite heavy. I think if I had brought out a softer album under that name it would have, maybe, confused a lot of people and might have put a lot of people of the next album which is out soon. So yeah, I decided it would be best under a separate name just to keep the two genres separate. That’s the main reason for it anyway.

N: Is there any lyrical concept behind “Alive” or is it like each track has a different concept [both lyrically and musically]?

L: There’s actually not a lot of lyrics at all on the album to be fair. It’s more of an instrumental album. I think there’s maybe one song that has some lyrics but there’s not really a great deal, to be quite honest with ya. The album is just very chilled, atmospheric sort of album. It’s not heavy or anything. It’s quite progressive and I’m experimenting quite a lot more with different instrumentation as well. So it’s not based all around one instrument. There’s a lot of orchestration and a lot of drums and percussion and not really a great deal of electronic instruments. There’s quite a lot of flutes as well which is quite weird for me.

N: [laughter] Nothing wrong with the flutes. What would you say was the main inspiration for this new release [Alive] then?

L: I’ve always been interested in writing something a bit more relaxed but I could never really get into that frame of mind until last week when I was in America. I was sat in the airport and I was quite surprisingly calm during that situation which was quite strange. Just seeing loads of people rushing around, stressing over which flight they’re trying to get. It was just weird to see, there was me just on my own, chilled out and everyone else is going mental. Then I thought, well people need to chill out a bit, so maybe I should write some chilled out music to try help them chill.

N: Has this been a different sort of experience for you compared to what you previously did with the “Beauty Through Chaos” album for Obsolete Tomorrow?

L: Yeah, it’s been a completely different experience really. Obsolete Tomorrow [Beauty Through Chaos], I wrote that very quickly. I’m surprised at how fast I wrote, it was a quite fast paced writing style – I probably wrote a song once a day kind of thing and got it finished within maybe a month. This one is a much more relaxed approach. The song structures aren’t very consistent. It’s very progressive, there’s not really an intro, verse, chorus, it’s more like one big instrumental along with different sections of stuff. Like I was saying, there’s a lot of atmospherics on it and once I get that down as a bass line, it chills me out as well ‘cause I can sit back and experience that as I’m writing the next part like a flute bit or something.

N: You have another album in the works, a more Zombie Metal orientated album based on the concept of a zombie apocalypse. Is there any reason for this? And will it be like a musical?

L: I wouldn’t say it’s a musical at all, it’s more like a film without the picture really. Just a big epic soundtrack to it – Every other song is like a skit with the voice actors doing their part. After that sort of scene or skit, there’ll be a song that will cover that skit. It’s just so over the top, it’s unreal. In the skits, we got stuff like chainsaws going off and people going crazy.

N: Sounds like it’s going to be a very interesting album.

L: I hope it will be.

N: You’re working on a lot of different albums [such as The Burden of Forever and Theatre Of The Damned] and you recently helped to produce the recent EP from Driffield based band The Dials and you’re a university student as well and you run your own record label [Xeroxed Records]. Where do you find the time to actually be able to do all this?

L: I had to quit my job to be able to manage this year’s scale of things I’m trying to do. As cliché as it sounds, I have my hands in a lot of pies at the moment. I’m pretty much covering every genre of music possible and every sort of aspect of the business. I work quite weirdly, I can’t just work on one project at a time. I’ve got to do something else as well just to keep myself sane. I think that’s the reason why I started writing “Alive” as I was doing that zombie thing. It’s more chilled out while the zombie one is very complicated, there’s a lot of stuff going on in it, so I just needed something to sit back and relax on. It p*sses of my neighbours and my mum ‘cause I’m just constantly in my studio making noise. [Laughter]. But I’m sure after the next few months, when the next few albums [Alive and Theatre Of The Damned] are finished, I’ll keep it down a bit and just chill.

N: With your future albums, be them under the Obsolete moniker or your own name, do you have any plans to tour in support of them or just have a release show?

L: I’d love to, I really would. I think my only problem with that is jut being able to be a decent frontman – Obviously it’s my voice on the album but doing it live is a completely different thing. I’ve never really been a frontman in a band since I was about 13. I’m sure if we got enough practise in we could do it – I’ve got a band together for the Obsolete Tomorrow album [Beauty Through Chaos]. It’s some friends but we’ve never practised anything yet but it’s there just in case we do need to tour or something but yeah, I’d love to it. As of yet there’s no real plans. There might be a surprise show in October but I’ll have to see how that works out. Everything is just studio based at the moment but I think once I’ve got more songs under my belt, I could put on quite a long show. I don’t think I’d go on a full tour though, maybe a few shows first and then just build it up there.

N: That sounds like quite a sound plan. For the Obsolete Tomorrow album [Beauty Through Chaos], you’ve stated before that it’s based on a rough part in your life. Would you say that writing the album changed you emotionally? Or spiritually even?

L: Definitely! I think if I was younger, having been through that situation and not being able to write or record music, I would have taken away the anger another way like going on a massive binge with my mates. But writing the album made me understand that there are better ways of using that energy, rather than wasting it, just make it into something positive. It was quite a weird sort of experience, writing the album ‘cause it was emotionally draining because I had to go through all those situations over and over again in my head to try and capture the emotion I was going through which was quite draining but I think it came off alright. I hope anyway. After I finished it, I felt nothing but pure happiness.

N: You’re quite involved with the local music scene, are there any bands that you’ recommend to our readers? Be they metal rock, electronica, are there any musicians that you’d suggest they’d keep their eye out for?

L: Absolutely! In Hull, especially, there’s a lot of bands like Pastel Jack, Infernal Creation, stuff like that. Obviously there’s the two bands I’m working with, Windrider and Ravenage. I think Hull has got a lot of talent right now, it’s quite promising to see. In Driffield, there’s a few bands but they all kinda stick with one genre of music. I don’t know if they’re afraid to do their own thing but I think they need to branch out a bit more. There’s one band that’s really good called “Parkmoor”. They’re like a hard rock band.

N: Sounds good, sounds good. That’s all really. Thanks again for taking the time to speak to with us today, Lee And good luck with your future albums.

L: Anytime, man, anytime. Take care.

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

Ravenage – Hardrada’s Fall EP [2008]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on 19th April 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Ravenage
Album: Hardrada’s Fall
Release year: 2010
Genre: Viking Metal/Folk Metal/Yorkshire Metal

Since making their debut on the UK metal scene, Ravenage have been carving themselves an epic saga of Viking Metal. The latest chapter in their saga is their debut EP “Hardrada’s Fall”, entirely based around Harald Hardrada’s ill-fated invasion of England.

The opening track is “Northern Scheme”, an entire orchestral track which sets a most epic atmosphere before the brutal onslaught begins. “Northern Scheme” is the type of track you’d expect to hear on the soundtrack of a film like “Gladiator”. The second track is “Viking Dream” which begins with a rousing death metal styled war cry combined with a brutal guitar intro and an epic keyboard section. The drums increase the heaviness of the track, while the vocals keep it brutal. The keyboard and guitar sections have a brilliant epic sound to them and the guitar solo just perfects this track.

“Three Hundred Ships, Ten Thousand Men” begins with an excellent combination of drums, choirs and the sound of the tides. The introduction of guitars and vocals on the track elevates the sheer brilliance of the composition and sound. While the bass section near the middle of the track is unexpected, it brings a small amount of excitement upon the ears before the track turns brutal. The keyboard sections keep the melody within the track, whilst adding that extraa hint of epic. The conversation between the character of Hardrada and one of his men towards the end of the track keeps the track interesting while keeping true to the sound and concept of the EP. The track finishes with a piece of poetry speaking of the battle between the Saxons and Vikings at Stamford Bridge.

The title track “Hardrada’s Fall” is next. It begins with an epic keyboard intro, combined with the character of Hardrada speaking of his death and his ancestors awaiting for him in the corpse hall. The track soon turns heavy and brutal. There is a use of clean vocals, which adds a very folk metal element to the track. The drums and guitars work well with the melodic keyboard sections. The guitr solo is one of the highlights of this track.

“Ravenser” begins with the sound of birds singing, combined with a fast-paced keyboard intro which turns out to be the calm before the storm on this track. The track soon turns heavy, with the guitars and drums working with the keyboard sections. With the introduction of the vocals, the track takes more of a melancholy sound but this doesn’t stop it from been a great track. There is more use of clean vocals on this track as well, which gives it that epic folk metal feel. The chorus of this track is very hypnotic, especially when the aggresive vocals perform it. “Ravenser” is certainly the best track of the EP. “The Pyre” is the final track of the EP. Just like the opening track, this is entirely orchestrated. It has some-what of sorrowful sound to it. This track is a brilliant way to end this EP.

“Hardrada’s Fall” is a brilliant combination of metal, historical fact and folklore. Each track breathes new life into the tale of how Hardrada came to England only to meet his ill-fate at Stamford Bridge. The production values of the EP are just amazing and the sound couldn’t get any better. Ravenage have clearly done the tale Hardrada’s fall justice.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Windrider – A Warriors Tale [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 1st April 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Windrider
Album: A Warriors Tale EP
Release Year: 2010
Genre: Folk Metal/Viking Metal/Yorkshire Metal

“A Warriors Tale” is the latest release from one-man, Hull-based musical extravaganza Windrider. Starting with “The Hall of the Slain”, one is bombarded straight away with the epic sound of keyboards combined with guitars and drums. Straight away the track sounds very Ensiferum influenced. The vocals are top notch. The guitar solo half way through just screams “epic” down the listener’s eardrums.

Straight after, comes the title track “A Warrior’s Tale” featuring some brutal sounding guitar work in its intro with some excellent synth work. The vocals slightly more brutal than on the previous track. The drums have a very technical meets “in your face” kind of sound, which works well with the keyboard and guitar.

The next track is “Across The Sea” and the track title itself gives the images of Nordic warriors braving the seas in quest of women and fame. The track begins with a solemn sounding keyboard melody alongside a guitar riff. The track turns heavier once the vocals are introduced and the use of clean vocals adds to the folkish feel of the EP. This is definitely the best track on the EP.

“Slaughter from the Shadows” is the final track. It begins with a vocal & keyboard intro, which goes on for a good minute or so before the tempo increases and the vocals turn more aggressive. The use of guitars throughout the track works reasonably well with the rest of the instruments and the vocals.

The EP is well produced and composed. It is another part of the legacy in the making known as Windrider and is one of the most epic pieces of musicianship that your ears will ever have the privilege of hearing. Windrider for number one? Hell yeah!

5/5

Nico Davidson