Monday, 28 March 2011

Achilla - 27 Mar 2011 (Hoxton Underbelly)

When I heard the line up for this event I was awaiting a good night. Achilla and A New Tommorow are two bands that I have seen before and know that they can deliver great shows. However there was also a new band, for me, on the bill tonight. Seven7 is a four piece band from London, led by Swiss guitarist Nick Meier, which as it sounds has influences that go from Dream Theater to Pantera and gathers everything in between. The band delivered a very nice set which was really pleasant to listen to. With a good energy and sound, Seven7 is definitely a band to keep an eye on. With some very interesting guitar work, good grooves and vocals the band seems to have lots of potential. Only negative aspects were the fact that it sounded a little too much like Dream Theater when it came to guitar sounds, melodies and harmonic changes and also that the drummer seemed not to be as connected with the rest of the band as they were in between them. It would be great to see what the guys can do by creating a different and more unique sound. I'm not saying that they should ignore their influences but at least try to equally divide them in their sound. Up next we had a band we have already reviewed here: A New Tommorow. These guys are getting better every time I see them. For me they really had the best sound of the night and with their songs they really create a very nice, rock atmosphere that anybody can enjoy. Alessio's vocals were great and the guitar work from Edward was the best I've seen him deliver. Definitely try and catch them on their next gig which is coming very soon! And then to complete the night Achilla came on stage. Unfortunately for the band Achilla's sound suffered from the facilities of the venue and with some quite annoying power cuts during the set it was hard for the band to stay focused on delivering the set. Despite all of that, Achilla gave out a good set that proved that they are definitely one of the upcoming female-fronted rock/metal acts to take over the UK in the next few years. I was impressed by Martamaria's vocals which sounded really good on most parts, despite the fact that they were lacking some accuracy on a few other parts, while Daniele Panza proved once again that he is a shredding machine. Gus Macricostas is always a delight to watch on stage since he seems to enjoy being there more than anything in the world. Overall despite the poor attendance the gig was enjoyable and proved that there is an underground scene that is emerging in London. It's all about keeping an eye on it now!

Achilla: 8/10
A New Tommorow: 8/10
Seven7: 7/10

Posted by Nick

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Sonata Arctica - 25 Mar 2011 (Islington Academy)

I was introduced to Sonata Arctica back in 2003 or 2004, when I was still a teenager getting into metal, and back then I was liking some of the songs but nothing more. So after 6 or 7 years it was finally the time for me to witness Sonata Arctica live, and yes this was my first Sonata Arctica gig. In general I wasn't impressed but neither was I disappointed. Sonata had setted up a very nice stage which is something you don't often get in the academy and it was certainly nice to see some change. The band delivered a very good set that ended very early (9:20pm) due to some club night that probably was taking place at the academy. The academy was almost full and this probably explain the change of venue that happened (originally the gig was going to take place in Koko). Sonata Arctica started their set with songs from their latest album Days of Grays and then performed a series off classic songs from their previous albums. FullMoon was definitely a hit with the crowd chanting like crazy on the "runaway parts". Tony Kakko(Vocals) had some very interesting ways of presenting the next song which I definitely thought was funny. One of those stories about his two Toyota's rusting in his back garden resulted to Paid In Full which is always very energetic to hear. Don't say a Word was definitely the apogee of the gig and the crowd responded very well. The atmosphere was very warm and nice and I generally think that everyone enjoyed the gig. Sound wise it wasn't great but it is very rare to get bands with a good sound in the academy so I'll blame that on the venue. The problem with Sonata Arctica though is that they are unable to deliver the magnitude of sound that they have on CD. On many parts the lack of guitars, instruments and backing vocals is quite striking and would definitely make a huge difference if those parts were introduced somehow. Overall an enjoyable gig and a satisfied crowd!

We are introducing a new point system today which goes as follow:

Sonata Arctica: 17/20
Sound: 3/5
Ambience: 5/5
Presentation: 4/5
Performance: 5/5

Posted by Nick

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Hammerfest III - 17/18/19 Mar 2011 (Prestatyn, Wales)

The third edition of Hammerfest took place last weekend and of course we had to attend to check it out! So we got off at Prestatyn’s rail station on Thursday afternoon with all the necessary resources to go through the festival. Of course whenever you think you have it all it generally means that you don’t even have half of what you need! Anyhow, after checking in our “chalet” and made out selves comfortable we went down to the first gigs of the fest with some nice cover bands warming up everybody for the rest of the festival. The Metalica UK set was particularly good and there was a striking resemblance between the lead singer and James Hetfield but apart from that nothing very exciting to note! Of course just like any metal fest there were some heavy drinking sessions going on and they definitely helped on not remembering why your whole body is bruised the next morning.

An amazing clear blue sky and a hot sun were reigning over Prestatyn and the drunken metal heads on the grass were bigger in numbers than all of the trees of the area combined. First band we saw on Friday was Holy Grail on the first stage. The band gave out an interesting but somehow very repetitive set. The crowd was probably still hangovered from the previous night and was not very excited so Holy Grail kind of left a question mark on what they really are able to do. Up next were Breed 77 on the second stage and these guys really gave it all this time. Despite the small drums malfunctions at the beginning of the set the band really came out with a very aggressive and energetic set. The ambience was really amazing and the Zombie cover was, as usual, well acclaimed by the public. Bad thing was that at the same time that Breed 77 was performing on the second stage, Sylosis was performing on the first stage and we only managed to catch the last two songs of their set which were up to the level you would have expected. However I still believe that Sylosis really needs a frontman to become a great band and to grow even more(more info on that here). Back to the first stage to meet an angry mob of red and black painted people waiting to see Turisas after a long period of inactivity! Turisas were very good and the first stage was packed with people and I was very surprised by the number of persons that came to the fest just for Turisas. Gig-wise we pretty much got the whole package from Turisas with Rasputin, always being fun to jump around to, and the crowd chanting battle metal throughout the whole set. We also got a few new tracks from the new album that came out last month and we just can’t wait to see on how this is going to turn out for Turisas. And then on the first stage we had the classic 80s legend that Accept are. Accept really created a very nice atmosphere for everyone who was there. Not as many people as for Turisas but generally a good attendance from the Hammerfest crowd. All the classic songs were present with Balls to the Wall being, as expected, the biggest hit of the night! Generally I really enjoyed Accwpt who did a great performance. And to finish off the day what better that a little bit of Latino metal with Ill Nino! The guys really brought out everything they had and really reached every expectation I had. Liar was massive and the guys really insisted on thanking everybody who helped them do what they love for the last 13 years. And after a few hits to the bar and a brief listening of Blitzkrieg it was time for collapsing into bed again only to wake up for one more day of heavy metal! 

Saturday started very late for us and we only got to the stage at 7pm just in time to see Grand Magus. The guys were good but were lacking some energy and they seemed to be struggling with the crowd. Despite the fact that I’ve heard from some guys that they thought they were really good I generally wasn’t impressed. And then Entombed were on and this guys killed it. Last time I saw them was at Koko(London) with Amon Amarth a couple of years ago and back then they really impressed me. This time wasn’t any different. These guys are great and they should get more recognition for what they do! A great set that prepared the atmosphere perfectly for Satyricon who were up next. And Satyricon attracted a large audience once again. The performance was very good and King was really well executed and well acclaimed. It seemed that every single person who had a bit of knowledge of the Satyricon sound enjoyed it and I know we certainly did. And then came on Sabaton. Personally I believe that they gave the best performance of the festival. The first time I saw Sabaton was during the Graspop Metal Meeting a few years ago and at the time I really didn’t know who they were but they managed to impress me. This time, after seeing them three times, they still managed to impress me. So first of all they came on with a different line-up since Daniel Mullback(Drums) and Rikard Sundén(Guitar) were absent. Rikard was replaced by Dragonforce’s bass player Frédéric Leclercq and Daniel by a young boy who’s name I can’t remember (I blame the beers and Jagermeister for that.) Sabaton really delivered an amazing show and I believe that everyone in there was satisfied by the performance not only on the heavy side but also on the comical side. A nice sing along on YMCA was initiated by Joakim Broden(Vocals) for reasons that I will not look into, especially when he manages to rip his pants, expossing his underwear, on the song after that! And finally to conclude the festival and an amazing weekend we had the all mighty Huddersfield thrashers Evile! Evile were the perfect band to end the festival. The pit was insane and Matt and Ol Drake(Guitar) really seemed to have a hell lot of fun. Thrasher and Infected Nations became anthems for pit mayhem and a few head bumps later it was all over.

Hammerfest III is over! In general, the festival was great. Very good organisation and very good venue. The line up was very very good and combined with a great weather, nice people and a hell lot of alcohol you get a great festival. The staff over there was very friendly, despite some old lady trying to be a security guard, who wouldn’t give me a plastic cup for some reason I still don’t understand, and the facilities were in perfect working order and well situated. Hammerfest IV: we are counting the days!

Hammerfest III: 19/20
Holy Grail: 15/20
Breed 77: 18/20
Sylosis: 17/20
Turisas: 19/20
Accept: 20/20
Ill Nino: 17/20
Blitzkrieg: 13/20
Grand Magus: 14/20
Entombed: 18/20
Satyricon: 18/20
Sabaton: 20/20
Evile: 19/20

Posted by Nick

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Epica - 15 Mar 2011 (Scala)

Last night the Scala in Kings Cross was packed with metalheads and all of them were there to witness the come back of Epica after 3 years of absence from the Londonian scene. A very nice and simple gig with only one support act which, I believe, gave the opportunity to the crowd to enjoy more from both of the bands and also kept the it energetic throughout both sets. Supporting Epica last night we had ReVamp from the Netherlands. A fairly new band that visited the UK and London for the first time last night. Through their vocalist,ex After Forever, Floor Jansen(Vocals) Revamp managed to give out a very nice mix of smooth and aggressive all combined in a very nice package of symphonic and heavy. The songs were very pleasant to hear and the crowd seemed to like it. A very nice energy from this band and a great connection with the crowd that makes us certain that will be seeing them to be back in London and he UK very very soon! Epica is one of those bands that has a very unique and distinctive sound that has attracted millions of fans worldwide and is a band that does what it does with passion and love which is great to see and witness. And tonight was no different. Epica came on stage with a huge energy and a nice sound which however lacked some magnitude. Nevertheless the band delivered a great set with songs varying from different albums. Simone Simons(Vocals) was really in a great mood and lifted up the crowd in a “lovely” way that she only knows how to do. Mark Jansen(Guitar,Vocals) also gave out a great show while his vocals seem to have really improved. Coen Janssen(Keyboards), who recently become a father, was really enjoying the gig and it's always nice to see the musicians on stage enjoying the show as much as the people off stage. All the classic Epica songs were present and we even had the chance to hear the amazing Tides of Time were Simone is really showcasing the amazing voice that she has. The Imperial March was a great inclusion in the set-list and it was really well executed by the guys in the band too. The duet with Floor and Simone on Sancta Terra just before the end of the set was extremely nice and you can really see that those two are amazing singers each in her unique way. Cry for the Moon was a big sing along for the crowd which seemed to know all the lyrics by heart. It is generally amazing at how loyal and diversified is the Epica crowd. You can find in it every kind of person you may wish for and it is really great to see so many different people being united under one roof thanks to music. To finish the gig Epica performed The Phantom Agony while giving it a very nice “disco” feel during the chorus which suited the song quite well! In general a good gig with some nice surprises and a very pleasant atmosphere.

Epica: 18/20
ReVamp: 16/20
Posted by Nick

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Beast - Devildriver (2011)

What a great record from the Californian metalers! After the somehow disappointing Pray for Villains (good album but was expecting much more) Devildriver returns to action with a great album full of heaviness and aggression!  I am generally very excited with the sound of this album and the variety of melodies and grooves that the band composed for this album. Production wise it sounds great proving once again that Mark Lewis is definitely one of the best in the genre! Dez Fafara (Vocals) sounds amazing and his vocals really bring out the anger and the pain that has been going around the band for the last years. The guitar riffs and solos are really well executed and constructed, while the rhythms and grooves are really inviting for massive mosh pits just like Devildriver fans know how to do which makes me think that the songs from this album are literally going to be bone crushers during the live shows. Every song, one after the other, is really delivering something unique and different but at the same time just like James Baysinger from Metalholic stated : "One thing about DevilDriver, their style may not change much, and you know what you're gonna get, but it still kicks your ass every fucking time”. Definitely a very good effort from Devildriver and really an album that all fans of brutal death metal should own!
The song that really stands out to us is Hardened which has some really aggressive riffing and a great solo filled with superb melodies!
Beast: 9/10
Posted Nick

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

In Transience - Psychoanalysis (2010)

When somebody mentions Scotland to me I generally think about whiskey, kilts (more commonly known as man-skirts), bagpipes and probably a couple of monsters here and there. To me the link between metal and Scotland is not really existing mainly due to the fact that there is a very limited amount of Scottish metal that makes it to an international level. However recently it seems that Scotland has unleashed a wave of metal bands who are ready to infest the English and in general the UK metal scene. Psychoanalysis from Dunfermline could be one of these bands. With a nicely balanced first EP, titled In Transience, this band delivers a heavy and aggressive blend of rhythm and darkness suitable for all fans of Sylosis and Obscura. With the band being composed by fine musicians the listening of this EP was pretty easy. Finlay 'Fish' West (Guitar) lead parts sound really good and he showcases a nice technical ability throughout the songs, despite the fact that on some passages there is a slight lack of clarity in between notes. Gavin Hood (Vocals, Guitar) is really doing a great job on the vocals and really creates a haunting atmosphere in combination with all the elements within the songs and as for the rhythm section, which is composed by Chris Ryan on bass and Doog on drums, it keeps up very nicely and makes the riffs very headbangable. The three songs on the EP really work out well between them making it a nice and “easy to listen to” EP. Production wise the sound is not at its best. It is lacking magnitude and warmth making many parts sound a bit too dry, but the fact that really bothers me with this EP is that there is a lack of originality. The parts are executed very well but these are parts that we have all heard before. With the music scene getting bigger and bigger and with bands exploring music to the max it is really hard to come up with something unique and different but that is what most of the bands out there should be working on. Creating that unique sound is what will make you differ from any other band and unfortunately Psychoanalysis didn’t achieve that through this EP. Don’t get me wrong, this is a really good job but there is a need for something different. However I have trust in the abilities of this band and perhaps an EP with more tracks could introduce some unseen features of the band. Most interesting track is probably Ashen which really delivers some nice elements and sounds and the Heaven and Hell styled outro is quite pleasant!


In Transience: 2,75/5

Posted by Nick