Monday, 28 November 2011

Textures - 25 Nov 2011 (The Garage)


It was a highly anticipated gig for us, since witnessing Textures, with their new members, for the first time at the Euroblast festival in Cologne, Germany back in October. This time they were accompanied by the Swiss-German quintet The Ocean and Manchester’s Aliases. Aliases were up on stage first, but due to our interview with Robin Staps(Guitar) from The Ocean we didn’t catch their set. We got in the venue just in time for The Ocean for which we were very looking forward to. The post-metal band delivered a stunning set which really grasped the predominant Textures crowd. It was actually amazing to see how the energy was flowing from the band to the crowd. The Ocean is a band which can be enigmatic and aggressive at the same time, creating a very mysterious atmosphere which travels the listener. An almost perfect set from them. And right after that, it was time for Textures to headline their show. The band seems to be at its best shape, with their catchy melodies and heavy riffs, which makes them an instant crowd pleaser. They just have this ability to create an immense sound which makes every single song to be heavy as fuck! Of course the highlights were songs such as Awake and Laments of an Icarus which defined the sound of Textures and sent the crowd into some intensive moshing. On the overall, an amazing gig which deserved a bigger audience, so next time Textures or The Ocean are in town, make sure you are there too.

Textures: 20/20 
Sound: 5/5
Ambience: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5
Performance: 5/5

The Ocean: 19/20
Sound: 5/5
Ambience: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5
Performance: 4/5

Aliases: N/A
Sound: N/A
Ambience: N/A
Presentation: N/A
Performance: N/A

Posted by Nick





Thursday, 24 November 2011

Dimmu Borgir - 23 Nov 2011 (Islington Academy)



It has been a while since the lords of symphonic black metal had visited the UK for a full tour. And what a better way to come back than performing, in its entirety, an album which has been a milestone for a whole genre: Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. EDT is the 3rd album of black metal legends Dimmu Borgir, which was released in 1997 via Nuclear Blast Records, and it was finally time for the London crowd to witness this historic album at a virtually sold out Islington Academy. Dimmu Borgir performed two sets on the night with the first one being the album. With an exquisite sound, which is rarely heard in the Islington Academy, Dimmu Borgir performed the album with an amazing precision which was definitely impressive. Black metal classics such as Mourning Palace and Spellbound were welcomed very warmly by the fans which moved the academy from left to right. The second set was introduced with a drum solo by Daray (Drums), who proved once again why he is behind the kit for Dimmu Borgir, before presenting some of Dimmu’s hits such as Kings of the Carnival Creation, Puritania, as well as some tracks from their latest album: Abrahadabra. However, there was a slight disappointment, on my part, by the atmosphere which reigned over the academy. I was expecting a bit more of atmospheric "darkness" from Dimmu Borgir, especially with the vast arsenal of atmospheric sounds that they use in their songs. Anyhow, on a general note the gig was the absolute gig for any Dimmu Borgir fan and even if Dimmu is not your cup of tea, when it comes down to black or symphonic black metal, it was still a gig which you shouldn’t had missed. On the other hand, if you don’t like black metal, then I really don’t know why you are reading this review, but I guess that's the magic of the Dark Castle (Dimmu Borgir)!

Dimmu Borgir: 19/20
Sound: 5/5
Ambience: 4/5
Presentation: 5/5
Performance: 5/5

Posted by Nick







Saturday, 19 November 2011

Arthemis - 18 Nov 2011 (The Underworld)


 The Italian metalers are back, and thank god this time they’re not wearing skirts! Arthemis, the Italian power metalers, were in London to start their first ever UK tour along with Neonfly and Freedom Call at the Underworld in Camden, London.  The heavy metal quartet delivered a very energetic set and rocked the house. By playing a selection of their best compositions, the band filled the support slot for Freedom Call in a great way. With a very Maiden-like sound, Arthemis have a sound which is familiar to many and which never disappoints. In conjunction with the amazing technicality that the Arthemis members have on their instruments, they definitely made it clear that they are a band which came here to stay and they won’t stop till they get to the top.  On the night, Arthemis also performed an excellent cover of Deep Purple’s Burn which fitted really nicely with their own compositions. Sound wise however it wasn’t great, and this wasn’t because the band didn’t have a nice sound but because as usual, the Underworld is not a great venue when it comes down to sound. Unfortunately the sound is a very important factor to create the atmosphere needed to make a great gig and the atmosphere of the gig was affected by the sound. Nevertheless a great set by Arthemis which made a very promising tour debut on the London stage!

Arthemis: 18/20
Sound: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5
Presentation: 5/5
Performance: 5/5

Posted by Nick 

Monday, 14 November 2011

Opeth - 13 Nov 2011 (Brixton Academy)


 
Sunday night was a night of prog-metal at the Brixton Academy in London, UK. Two massive bands came together to rock London and promote their new albums; Opeth with Heritage and Pain of Salvation with Road Salt Two. First on stage were Pain of Salvation who delivered a good set but unfortunately didn’t impress. The sound was not at its best and this really affected how the band came out. It seemed as if the ambience was hard to establish in the academy and, despite the good show and set that Pain of Salvation delivered, it felt as if the crowd didn’t really adhere. Of course the audience was predominantly an Opeth audience so I believe it was something that could had been foretold. Pain of Salvation played songs from their new album, Road Salt Two, as well as tracks from their previous albums. While talking with the band’s front man Daniel Gildenlow, he announced to us that the band would most probably be back sometime around February for a headline tour in the UK and it will definitely be interesting to see how the band performs in front of its own crowd. Time for the headliners of the show. After a somehow controversial new album by Opeth, I assume that most of the fans where looking forward to see how the setlist would be arranged. Well surprisingly, for some, Opeth performed songs which included only clean vocals, just like on the new album. The gig was slightly disappointing and failed to entertain to the degree which Opeth gigs usually do, despite the jokes made by Akerfeldt and a quite embarrassing version of George Michael’s Faith played by Akerfeldt and sang by the public. Just like with Pain of Salvation, the atmosphere was quite disapointing. However, we got the chance to hear some tracks which we don’t normally hear while it is fair to mention the drum solo of Martin Axenrot during Hessian Peel which showcased a nice technical ability. We also got to witness a small acoustic set by Opeth who performed the God of War III track The Throat of Winter, among others, on acoustic guitars. Regarding the matter of Akerfeldt's vocals, it is creating an uncertainty since during the gig, it was quite visible that Akerfeldt has lost weight, and this made us wonder if there is actually something physically wrong with him. On the other hand if there was, he probably wouldn’t be on tour. So, let’s hope that all is good and that this is just the era of the quiet Opeth which after all, is not that bad!

Opeth:  18/20
Sound: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5
Presentation: 5/5
Performance: 5/5

Pain of Salvation: 16/20
Sound: 3/5
Ambience: 3/5
Presentation: 5/5
Performance: 5/5

Posted by Nick








Monday, 7 November 2011

Carbon-Based Anatomy - Cynic (2011)




EP REVIEW
American progers Cynic are back with an incredible 6-track EP entitled Carbon-Based Anatomy which will be released on the 11th of November via Season of Mist. This short but extremely enjoyable EP, travels the listener through paths which crossbreed native American sounds with prog rock, and creates the most amazing airy atmospheres and build ups I’ve heard in a while! I remember reading somewhere about Cynic having sound elements that resembled those of jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, and by listening to this EP I couldn’t agree more. Cynic really builds up the energies in such a way that it really feels like being on a big trip, while the use of electronic sounds is definitely working very well. The impressive thing about this EP is the way in which the band drifts from the electronic sounds to the sheer sounds of percussions and vocals which is absolutely superb! All of these, in combination with some post-rock elements and what seems to be a Cynic secret ingredient, create a wonderful work which can be heard over and over again! The flow of the EP is extremely nice and this is surely a very enjoyable piece of art for every Cynic fan, and not only!
Favourite track from the EP is probably Carbon-Based Anatomy which is an absolutely brilliant track combining electronic sounds and live instrument sounds which create a very alien-like, spacey feeling. You can almost see the white light! Another interesting track is Elves Beam Out, just because it has a great title which is nicely reflected in the music!

Carbon-Based Anatomy:  5/5

Posted by Nick


Nothing but Everything Will Remain - Project Masquerade (2011)




Nothing but Everything Will Remain is the new album from Project Masquerade, the project created by Dutch guitarist Noud Smeets. With this new album Smeets showcases an amazing talent at composing and arranging and delivers an album filled with intensity,  colourful melodies and incredibly technical guitar parts! The album, which is composed of six tracks, visits many different styles of metal but at the same time somehow remains in its own style building up a very coherent and diverse album. The album features many different singers which adds some nice dynamics and gives space for a few interesting harmonies.  Some tracks of the album include some very powerful riffs, accompanied by a ripping double kick which gives out a great energy, while on other tracks haunting melodies and heavy drum beats are grabbing your hair and force you to headbang! Killer of Life is an interesting piece which reminds of Slayer-like stuff during the first minutes before changing into a different style which again emphasises the incredible amount of different sounds and styles which are incorporated within the album! My only concern with the album is that if some people don’t appreciate a specific style of metal they will get stuck on one song or will have to skip songs just because they don’t feel comfortable with the style. Smeets did take a very different approach while composing the album by blending so many different elements and he is definitely trying to reach fans of a more progressive nature since, despite the fact that the album runs smoothly and has a nice positive energy, I believe that the continuous change of styles can get a bit tiring for a common listener. Fortunately, as mentioned before, this album has only 6 tracks which definitely keeps the smoothness, but repetitive listens of the album might not be easily digested.
Favourite track out of the album is probably Carve Your Soul with its harmonies on the chorus and the ripping guitar solo. This song has a very nice aggressive feel which builds up really nicely and fans of progressive metal will definitely feel at home with this track!

Nothing but Everything Will Remain: 7/10

Posted by Nick

Heritage - Opeth (2011)




I like to consider every new Opeth release as an event. There has been many times where I could just imagine kids of the 70s, gathering altogether to hear a new Led Zeppelin album for the first time and feel the music that these masters were creating. Somehow, I get the desire to do exactly the same with every new Opeth release. When I got Watershed and listened to it for the first time it was an absolutely amazing voyage on the Opeth cruise and I just couldn’t wait to see if Heritage could  give me even more.
Heritage is the new album from Swedish Progressive metalers Opeth released on the 13 of September via Roadrunner Records. The record starts with a very dark and gloomy piano track which bares the title of the album only to kick in to the first single out of Heritage, The Devil’s Orchard. The album has many atmospheric elements into it which we’ve got used to through the years of listening to Opeth. With the many fusion inspired passages Opeth will not disappoint all the fans of progressive metal. The screaming solos and the amazing production of the album will definitely give you chills while the haunting atmosphere that is created throughout the album is just mind travelling! However, passionate Opeth fans will definitely observe that there are no growls on this album. All of the vocals are clean and their melodies seem to carry and support the very gloomy feeling that the album gives out. This results in a lack of aggression that we usually get with Opeth, but I believe that the amount of new elements that are presented on the album are so many and so well executed, that it really doesn’t feel as if anything is missing. This could ultimately be an album which, when assembled with other Opeth’s album, could represent a very different era and sound in the band’s history. In general a very interesting work by Opeth which didn’t disappoint me but, will, I imagine, disappoint some with the lack of growls and aggression. Nevertheless this album is a true masterpiece in its own and only makes you to want to hear it live! By witnessing Opeth live at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2010, when listening to this album I couldn’t stop thinking how amazing this album would have sounded live in there!
There are many tracks on this album which really caught our attention and could be labelled as favourites. Slither gives out a very Rainbow-ish or Deep Purple-ish vibe with its high tempo and the melodies that Akerfeldt uses on the vocals melodies! Compared to previous Opeth releases, the influences that Akerfeldt has been talking about for so long now, are visible more than ever on this album. No surprise that Slither is a tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio. Nepenthe could easily be described as a fusion metal song with the very nu-jazz, in my opinion, intro and the blasting solo which is followed by a typical Opeth passage that most of us adore! Nepenthe was a drug used in ancient days to forget sorrow which relates quite nicely with the lyrics on this album! Finally, but not least, Famine is a very interesting track with a very oriental feel, which has Opeth introducing to us some flute parts which add a very interesting element to the whole sound.
Heritage: 9/10
Posted by Nick