Friday, 29 April 2011

Lest We Forget - Subversion (2011)

I'll have to be honest and sometimes honesty hurts, but it's been a while since I've heard anything from any new band and I've actually liked it. Until the day I got an email about Subversion. I'd never heard of this band before so the first thing I do is to give it a listen on Facebook and well, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. So when I got a hold of their CD it went straight in the player for a first proper listen! Many plays later I am finally ready to say that this could be one of the bands that will shape the UK metal scene in the future. The ideas are really good and the execution is flawless. The production level is amazing for a debut album and it just sounds really really heavy. The interchanges and the quality of the vocals is excellent while drums, guitars, keys and bass are extremely tight between them and create a great energy and superb atmospheres. The only minor part is the sound of the kick drum which is some times a bit too dry and very trigger like, which reminds of a simple sound recording software plug-in. Also the album is not very fluid. It feels that sometimes it is kind of stumbling and after a few listens it can get a bit boring on some parts. The album also has a war theme going on, with many samples from war scenes, which is nice but makes it, I believe, suitable for listening only if your mood allows it. However, in general this is an excellent effort from Subversion and I really can't wait to see if they are going to sound as good as this when they play live in a few weeks, here in London!
Our favourite track is probably Treason (Beyond Forgiveness) which really has some nice technical riffs and an amazing chorus which really sticks to your head! Also noticeable is the very nice So Many, So Few which is an incredible instrumental piece most probably inspired by the 1940 Churchill speech, which you can partially hear at the end of the track. The track would be a perfect soundtrack for any war film! I can just picture it!!!

Lest We Forget: 8/10

Posted by Nick

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Great Mass - Septic Flesh (2011)

It's been three long years for the fans of symphonic death metal since the release of the last Septic Flesh album Communion. This time the Greek metalers are coming back on the front of the stage with an amazing album entitled The Great Mass. With the participation of the Filmharmonic Orchestra of Prague this album takes a huge step on to becoming a masterpiece. This is probably the most easy-listening death metal album I've heard in a while since the songs blend together so nicely that you don't actually have time to even get bored or even think of looking at what number track is playing. Most of the tracks are an explosion of heavy epicness combined with a nice macabre atmosphere just like you would expect from Septic Flesh. The full artwork(see below) for the album is absolutely amazing while the vocals alternations between Sotiris Vayenas(Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards) and Spiros “Seth” Antoniou(Vocals, Bass) are just mind blowing and exhilarating in a mean heavy fucking metal way! Overall an excellent album and I believe it was worth the three years wait!
For our favourite track we are hesitating between two so what the heck, we'll write something about both of them. The first track to stick to our head is Pyramid God. This song reminds somehow of Clint Mansell's Requiem for a Dream, but with a fucking loads of heavy guitars and growls! You get the idea. The whole song is just pure metal all the way with a very interesting middle-part that leads into a very "twisted" outro that is just loveable! The other song that really caught our attention is Therianthropy. What an amazing showcase of song writing and arranging talent! First of all before you listen to this song make sure that your neighbours will listen to it too and put the volume real high! The vocals of Seth and Sotiris are mixing so well that they really make the song feel like an overwhelming mix of heavy, melody and power!
The album is out NOW!

The Great Mass: 9.5/10

Posted by Nick

Monday, 18 April 2011

Quarterpast - Mayan (2011)

It many times felt like Mark Jansen(Epica) needed to express more brutality in his music and like Ariën van Weesenbeek(Epica) told us a few months ago Mayan is too brutal for Epica. And brutal it is! Quarterpast is the new baby of Mark Jansen(Epica), Jack Driessen(ex-After Forever) and Frank Schiphorst(Symmetry). The album is a blend of brutal guitar riffs and vocals, combined with the amazing arrangement skills that Mark has introduced to all of us with Epica. A blend that creates a unique sound especially with the introduction of the operatic and clean vocals from a great team composed from Floor Jansen(ReVamp), Simone Simons(Epica), Henning Basse(Sons of Seasons) and soprano opera singer Laura Macri. The album showcases a great technical ability from all the musicians involved and the melodies are very nicely blended with the heaviness of the project and really gives the whole album a different dimension from the other albums of the genre. The most remarkable thing however is definitely the arrangements between your “banal” common instruments and the symphonic instruments. Everything blends so well and to be honest, I wasn't expecting any less from a team of musicians who have been involved in symphonic metal for so long. The small disappointment about this album is that it is not an album that sticks to your head, or at least it didn’t stick to my head. It seems as if it is missing a hook that will grab the listener and haunt him for days after listening to the whole thing.
Our favourite song is The Savage Massacre which really gives out a great energy in the chorus and has a very cool and haunting middle part which builds up greatly, in combination with the voices in the background, into a “heavy as fuck” part only to explode into the chorus once again! Absolutely skull crushing!
The album is out on the 20th of May so keep an eye open for it!

Quarterpast: 8/10

Posted by Nick

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Beginning of Times - Amorphis (2011)

The Beginning of Times is the 10th studio album from Finnish metalers Amorphis due to be released on the 27th of May via Nuclear Blast. When we caught up with Tomi Joutsen (Vocals) in November last year (watch it here) he informed us that this would be an album very similar to the previous ones...and indeed it is! Some songs definitely remind us of Skyforger while influences from earlier Amorphis album are more present this time. Some nice melodic choruses appear throughout the album and it seems that there are more brutal vocals than on Skyforger. The arrangements help a lot to create some nice atmospheres which match really nicely with the vocals of Tomi. Production wise Amorphis have laid down some very nice and interesting sounds that blend really well between them. The lyrics for the album are based on the main character of the Kalevala: Väinämöinen and have been written once again by Pekka Kainulainen. However, this album is missing the spark to light the fire for a great album. In general it is a pleasant album to listen to but it is lacking the power of attraction that will keep the listener glued to it. The Beginning of Times is an album that really perplexed me and I would really like to see what is the result that is generated when this songs are played live. I have a feeling that these songs are the kind of songs that are not meant to be heard on an album but live!
Our favourite song from the album is probably Crack in a Stone. The changes between the verses and the choruses is just too interesting to us and the epicness of the chorus is too much to be overlooked! And to top it all there's a great middle part that comes and lifts the song into being our personal favourite out of the album!

Also you can now stream the first track to be released from this album "You I Need" here!

The Beginning of Times: 7/10

Posted by Nick 

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Children of Bodom - Amon Amarth - 9 Apr 11 (The Forum)

The bill for tonight's show was excitingly promising with two giants(literally for one, not so literally for the other) of Scandinavian metal and with the sun shining high, the metalheads came in numbers for it. With the release of Surtur Rising and Relentless, Reckless Forever everybody was quite eager to hear the new material! First to showcase their might were our favourite Vikings: Amon Amarth. With eight studio albums in their bag and with a very small set time to fill, the band had to chose the songs to perform carefully and I am a bit disappointed from the choice. Would had definitely liked to hear more new songs and in general more Amon Amarth. The sound was quite bad which is something surprising since I remember that in general the sound in the Forum is quite good, even for support bands. However the band was up there and seemed to be in a very good shape and this is definitely a great warm-up for the big US tour they're heading of to. Amon Amarth are said to be coming back to do a headline tour here in the UK, so all we have to do in order to hear some new material live is just wait a few more months! Up next: Children of Bodom who attacked the stage with great might and aggression. These guys really know how to give a show although sometimes Janne Wirman(Keyboards) seemed a little bit bored. Alexi Laiho(Guitar,Vocals) proved once again that he is a great front-man and a great shredder. Once again however the sound was not that great. Better than Amon Amarth but it seems as if some speaker blew out at some point and the sound was really unworthy of a venue such as the Forum. Overall a very nice gig with a good atmosphere but unfortunately not a great sound.

Children of Bodom: 17/20 
Sound: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5 
Presentation: 5/5 
Performance: 4/5

Amon Amarth: 15/20 
Sound: 3/5 
Ambience: 4/5 
Presentation: 4/5 
Performance: 4/5

Posted by Nick 

Friday, 8 April 2011

Human Remains - Hell (2011)

When I first got the email about Hell I had no bloody idea of who the hell they were. I'm way to young to remember the 80s and where I grew up metal is generally considered to be music from hell! So the first contact I had with the music of Hell was through the video of On Earth as it is in Hell not even a month ago and being a big fan of King Diamond and Iron Maiden it wasn't hard for me to love this stuff! Human Remains is the new album from occult heavy metal band Hell due to come out on the 13th of May via Nuclear Blast. This album is very well balanced with some great melodic lines throughout the whole album. The dark and hellish lyrics might seem a bit "passé" and sooo 80s to some but HEY! What the hell do you expect from a band called Hell? Right..glad we got that sorted out! The riffs are majestically heavy and really bring the best things about NWOBHM out. The band is really kicking ass and it will be a blast to watch these guys live. It is worthy to note that the whole album has some amazing intros for the majority of the songs and really gets you deep in the lyrical content of the album. Some may ask: was it worth the wait? Hell Yeah! I'll bet you anything that right now this album is on repeat down in hell and like Bart Gabriel from Hard Rocker said: “Hell's “Human Remains” is the devil's new favourite Heavy Metal album”. Quite an achievement don't you think?
Favourite track for us is probably the single out of the album On Earth as it is in Hell although we tend to like The Devils Deadly Weapon too. The 80s sounding main riff is just to good for us to stay indifferent and not headbang our eyes out of their sockets and although this song is 10 minutes long you really feel as if hell is upon you once its finished and you just have to listen to it again!

Human Remains: 9/10

Times the word hell is mentioned: 14 (yes hellish counts too!)

Posted by Nick

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Surtur Rising - Amon Amarth (2011)

It feels that every time Amon Amarth gets in the studio they have to come out with an opus of viking inspired metal! After the success of Twilight of the Thunder God, Surtur Rising is the newest album from the Swedish metalers and the eight studio album of the band. For starters: this album is great! The melodies, the heaviness, the feelings, everything is there. I have been a fan of Amon Amarth for almost 10 years and I can definitely say that this is their best work so far. The songs are beautifully constructed and they are heavy as fuck! Johan Hegg really did a great work with the vocals and the guitars of Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg switch from fast, aggressive riffs to exquisite solos and melodic lines. The Amon Amarth feeling is well represented in the whole album with melodies that may remind earlier works of the band but in no way are tiring or repetitive. In general the album is HEAVY! I’m pretty sure that if they had the appropriate equipment in the 8th century this would be the album by default to blast out of every drakkar when the Vikings were burning and looting villages. And just to help you imagine it as I do, take the helicopter attack scene from Apocalypse Now, replace the helicopters with drakkars and Ride of the Valkyries with Surtur Rising. Press PLAY! Cool isn’t it? I will dare and call Surtur Rising a battle anthem since this album generates some kind of courage and willingness to face the world, take a look in its eyes and spit in its face! The songs are most likely to be killers live and in combination with the other songs from the band we can only imagine how good the Amon Amarth set can be. This album is a must for all Amon Amarth fans and if you are looking for something new to listen to and you’ve never heard of Amon Amarth then give this a listen. You won’t be disappointed!
Best track for us is The Last Stand of Frej. This song expresses all the aspects that Amon Amarth has explored through the years. The death metal touch is very dominant while the melodies and the riffs along with the lyrics really make this a song full of power and courage which explodes into a pre-chorus, which could remind Black Sabbath to some, only to find home in a combination of all the best things about Amon Amarth in the chorus.

Surtur Rising: 10/10

Posted by Nick

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Calatrilloz - 29 Mar 2011 (Islington Academy)

When you read about Calatrilloz before going to see them at a gig, you are not entirely sure on what to expect. So before I went to the gig I read all the basic info for the band and checked out some of the Youtube material that they have and had a vague idea of what was to come. Once inside the academy I got greeted by a make-uped Luca Minischetti(Drums) who reassured me that the band was up first since the band that was originally intended to play first had pulled out. Calatrilloz came on stage and definitely delivered what all the writings mention: a theatrical/operatic rock feeling that was definitely a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately though it seems that no band can be spared from the technical difficulties that arise at every gig, and this time was no different. The backing tracks that Calatrilloz use were not coming out through the sound system and I later found out that one of the fuses was not working properly and it caused the whole backing track system to collapse. Despite that though, they guys really delivered a very good set that had all the intensity and excitement that it needed. Calatrilloz is composed by really talented musicians and they really deliver something unique for the scene. It would definitely be very nice to see how much difference the backing tracks make since some times it did seem a little bit "empty" but still it wasn't something that would make the band sound less good from what they already were. Overall a very enjoyable set by Calatrilloz and I'm really looking forward for the next gig to get a taste of the complete Calatrilloz experience!

Calatrilloz: 8/10

Posted by Nick