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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: Vinegar Hill - Ghost Flowers

Vinegar Hill, likely named after the infamous hill where the last defending battle of the Irish rebels against the British during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 took place, is a melodic death metal band from Austria, consisting of five musicians. Dominik Stadler is responsible for the vocals, Michael Dreschnig for both guitar and vocals, Oliver Seebacher also for guitar, Lukas Marak for the bass parts and Thomas Troppacher takes care of the drum lines. Having unleashed 3 full-lengths onto the world since they were founded back in 2007, they illuminate their 10-year anniversary with a new release. Assuming their bio is trustworthy, they showed growth and development with each previously released full-length, now resulting in their, for now, pinnacle Ghost Flowers. According to the band this is their heaviest, darkest and fastest work so far. Sounds good to me, that kind of statements always piques my interest. Time to find out how heavy, dark and fast their actual music is.

The first thing I realized after giving Ghost Flowers its first full spin was that it would be impossible to review every song separately. Each song holds so many different facets there is simply no way to write a description that covers them all. More than once that spells disaster, but in this case I think it’s the opposite, I think the composition of the songs is a huge contributor to the overall quality and enjoyment. Despite all this opener The Fortress Above The Sun opens pretty straight-forward with an more or less classic death metal riff and ditto rhythm, which is probably for the best, because it immediately gets you in the right flow. From the first second of The Fortress Above The Sun until the dying tones of In Carving Memory you will be pleasantly exposed to a highly entertaining wall of melodic death metal peppered with a huge variety of breaks and intermezzos. It’s not shockingly original riff-wise, but because of the way they have been woven into the rhythm and combined with said variety of breaks and intermezzos that is in no way a problem and it certainly is not a run-of-the-mill death metal album.

The guitar work jumps from heavy to brutal to high-speed to soothing and sweet in a heartbeat, needless to say we have some skilled musicians on our hands here. The same can be said from the rhythm section. Drummer Thomas can be relentless at times and together with bassist Lukas, who can be equally relentless, Vinegar Hill has a backbone to be reckoned with. As if that isn’t enough as it is, there’s at least one unexpected part in every song, the one more distinct than the next. Two of the most notable are the choir and the soundscape-like guitar work in Void and the short intermezzo the famous eighties pop-rock band the Police would be proud of in In Carving Memory, but that list can easily be extended hugely. The vocals are a perfect match to the musicians, following the exact pattern the music goes. Not only are Dominik and Michael capable of bone-crushing grunts, they also display great skills where it comes to clean vocals, ranging from ‘just clean’ to even delicate. In all honesty though, I think the grunts suit them a tad better. To top things off vocal-wise there’s a female guest vocalist whose contribution, though small, is definitely notable. I wonder who she is…

Anyway, it’s safe to say Ghost Flowers is a heavy album and I accept the band’s statement that this is their fastest and darkest work to date, even though it doesn’t strike me as particularly fast or dark. To be honest I don’t really care, this simply is an awesome release. Regardless what people say or how anyone chooses to classify this, in my opinion there is only one simple conclusion: Any way you slice it, this is a release you could go absolutely bananas on! But by all means, don’t take my word for it, you should try this one for yourself, success and entertainment guaranteed. Definitely kick-ass and therefore most certainly recommended!

Written by Henric van Essen

Vinegar Hill Official Website
Vinegar Hill Facebook
Vinegar Hill Twitter

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Interview: Jason Caine

You might know Jason Caine as leadguitarist of Bloodline Riot. He also have another band, called Circle The Crown. DutchMetalManiac's Alessandro spoke with Jason about Bloodline Riot, Circle The Crown, among other things.

Jason I’m very honoured to be granted this interview! Thanks for the Twitter follow also! So, tell us about your personal origins! When did you first pick up the axe, who got you/bought you one, who are your favourite players and what was the first song you strummed to?

I'm honored to have this opportunity! Thank you so much for the chance to talk with you guys! I originally started playing guitar right before my 14th birthday. A friend of mine had been playing for several months and we thought it would be cool to start a band. Originally I was going to play bass, but he talked me out of it with the Rock n Roll logic of, "Dude, lead guitarists get all of the chicks!". (laughs) So, I got an imitation BC Rich Warlock for my birthday from my family and took it very seriously right from the beginning. I've always had a competitive edge to me, and right from the start I wanted to be the best that I could be. I started taking private guitar lessons and learning theory and how it applied to my favorite songs. I also took formal classical lessons for a while at the same time. I had grown up listening to classic rock and classical music, so I think it was inevitable that I would be interested in learning how to play both, and then some. My early inspirations were Randy Rhoads, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Nuno Bettencourt, Brian May, Richie Kotzen, Blues Saraceno and many others. During High School I lived and breathed guitar, and it was pretty much all I focused on. The very first song I learned was Cinderella's Nobody's Fool actually.

I love Bloodline Riot’s songs Betrayed and Letting Go. What is the band’s status currently? What’s the story here?

Thank you so much! That truly means a lot to hear! Bloodline Riot is currently on hiatus. It's a very long story, but I was the only original member left after the band being very active for 6 years. We'd had 5 different singers, 3 bassists, 7 drummers and I honestly felt like things had gotten to the point where finding new members to perform material that was so estranged from what the band started out as was beginning to lose authenticity. I truly appreciated every member that had stepped into the band, and I feel like every line-up had written some amazing music that unfortunately will never have a chance to be heard.. Many of the line-up changes centered around situations of members having to shift their goals and also understandable priorities and life changes that happen. I have no ill will towards any past members, and I wish them all the very best. Several are still playing music and pursuing it with different bands, and I fully support and appreciate their endeavors.

OK, so a new adventure with Circle The Crown! Cool name! What’s the inspiration for that? Can you tell us what your new band is planning?

Thank you! The name Circle The Crown is all about focusing and prioritizing your life to be the best and happiest that you can be. It's about looking at the choices and options in your life and "circling" the best of the best that you can be, to be the royalty of your own life journey. As far as what Circle The Crown is planning, we're finishing up our debut EP with producer Chuck Alkazian at Pearl Sound Studios in Canton, MI. Chuck has worked with some amazing artists such as Chris Cornell, Pop Evil, Asking Alexandria and many more. He brings to the table a wealth of knowledge, songwriting and so much more. The songs have really been coming to life working with Chuck at the producer's helm and I cannot wait for these songs to be finished and ready to spread to the world. Once the EP is finished, I'm sure we'll be working on music videos and we'll be hitting the live performances hard to visit as many of our friends around the country that we can.

Is the world a better place with all this new technology for spreading the gift of music or was it better to copy LP’s to cassettes and spread it around?

I feel that technology today is a double-edged sword. I think that it's great that you can now get music any time that you want. I think that comes with a price though. I think that people value things when they're not necessarily so accessible. When you can have something at anytime that you want, it's easy to be lazy about it. I also feel that there's less enthusiasm about downloading music versus the old days when you went to the record store, saw the album art and pictures of your favorite band, could read the liner notes to see what members wrote which songs and learn about who produced the album and all of that info that was waiting for you once you bought a physical product. I know that you can get all of those things with downloads, but I think that most people just use MP3 players now, and that excitement is all lost in a way. When you bought a physical product, you were also forced to buy the entire album (unless you just bought the single). There's classic songs that at first listen weren't necessarily my favorites, but grew on me as I got to know them and became some of my favorite songs of all time. Nowadays, it's easy to just buy what songs hit you right off the bat and ignore what may be sleeper hits that you would truly come to appreciate with more than listening to a 30 second sample. Sometimes I feel it's better to not have instant gratification. That it creates an environment of placing less worth on something that should be special.

Your music is heavy with some great influences; tell us when and where your best times for inspiration are.

Honestly I get some of my best ideas after a few cups of coffee and while driving. Every sound in nature has a particular pitch.. When your fan is on, there are pitches that are being produced. When I'm driving, I found that the hum from the engine produces a pitch and a lot of times I'll harmonize and bounce musical ideas off of the pitch of the engine humming. Many of my ideas are recorded to my cell phone and then I go and figure them out later and flesh them out further on my guitar. It took me some time to realize that this was what I was doing, but I started wondering why I always would have these musical ideas while driving, and one day I realized just what was happening, as unorthodox as that sounds! (laughs)

You have a very introspective, positive twitter feed; are you a natural writer or is it something you dislike doing but have to business-wise?

I absolutely love writing. I've always been a writer for as long as I can remember. I used to try to write books in elementary school. It was one of my earliest career goals. Once I discovered guitar, I realized that through songwriting you can truly integrate those two elements into something magical that transcends just one or the other, music or words. Together, those two things can move mountains with enough inspiration.. As far as my introspective twitter feed, I think in terms of affirmations.. A positive message to tell yourself for the day to focus on and explore. We all have challenges and life is hardly ever perfect. How we perceive things and the meanings we do or don't put on them can truly enhance or degrade our lives. I'm always working on trying to help enhance the lives of myself and others if I can.

Onstage, 90% and live to fight another day or 110% and see what happens the next day?

I always give it 110% when I'm onstage. I've found that when you start playing a lot of shows, it helps to get into "show shape". If you haven't, the first few shows you'll find yourself feeling pretty sore and beat up. (laughs)

Speaking of stages, you’re not on a tour schedule as of yet; are there dates lined up for this or next year?

As of right now, our main focus has been to really make this EP the best that it can possibly be. We've been playing a few shows in our hometown here and there while working on the recording, but we're waiting until our ducks are in a row to really start hitting the shows heavy. We want to make sure that we can bring our fans the very best that they deserve on all levels.

I want to thank you so much for taking the time for us and as we go, give us “Jason’s Jive” for 2017/2018:
1. WW III or Peace on Earth?

Peace on Earth

2. Aliens Land – Aliens Keep On Going?

Aliens Land. We need to shake things up a bit! (laughs)

3. Music Industry Better – Music Industry Worse?

Music Industry different. More opportunities but tougher to stand out.

4. USA Beer Better – Canadian Beer Better?

I don't drink beer so I'd be the last guy to ask (laughs).

5. Currently reading….which books?

If I had any spare time, it would be the Game of Thrones series.

6. Humans: Tougher then or now?


Thank you again for taking important time to talk to us. Do you have any last comments for DutchMetalManiac’s readers? All the best success!

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I can't wait for everyone to hear the upcoming album. Also, to keep up to date with Circle The Crown, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter or my personal Twitter. Thank you for reading and I can't wait to see you all soon. Cheers!

Facebook Circle The Crown
Twitter Circle The Crown
Twitter Jason Caine

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: None - None

None is a band playing a mix of atmospheric black metal and depressive black metal. This band exists since 2015 and last April they released their self-titled debut album. The tracklist only contains three tracks. However, with the tracks having a length varying between eight and twelve minutes, this album still has a total length of half an hour.

When you start listening to this album, close your eyes and imagine you are on a gigantic, vast, plain ice field. Suddenly evil strikes and you start to feel desperate whether you'll find the way back to the civilized world or not. None delivers a great soundtrack to this desperate experience with this phenomenal debut. The music None brings is extremely heavy mixed with some atmospheric, ambient-like parts. Besides the haunting ghost-sounds the shrieking vocals are very terrifying and intense. This album brings you in some sort of trance. The combination of the slower, intense, atmospheric parts and the faster parts is balanced in a very good way. At the end of opener Cold and at the start of closing track Suffer you will even hear some acoustic instruments, which gives it a bit of a folky, pagan touch.

What will be your destiny? Will you ever find your way back to civilization or is your fate doomed to that gigantic ice field?

None delivers a perfect album with this self-titled debut. Considering the fact that this is their debut, I am curious to know how they will surpass this with their next releases.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review: Deathwish - Deathwish

Since last year Belgium has a new metal band in its country. They come from Opwijk and the line-up exists of members of Dawn Of Clarity and long gone cult band Endor. Deathwish, as the band is called, are Filip de Roover on guitars, Peter Nevens on bass, Andy van Rossem on vocals and Willem de Pauw on drums. Recently, on October 1st, 2017, they released their debut EP, which is self-titled.

Deathwish give us pretty fast, heavy music on this EP, which is a bit shorter than 20 minutes. Of course the slower but heavy parts are also present, but the faster parts are really dominating. Deathwish's dark metalcore unfortunately has not very much variation in it, which could make it a bit boring for some people. Of course that depends on what you are used to in the music you listen regularly. Production-wise it sounds a bit gritty, but this is also what makes their sound more real. Sometimes it almost sounds like you are standing besides these Belgian guys playing their music in their rehearsal room. The drums are a bit loud in the mix, which can lead your focus a bit too much to Willem de Pauw and his drumkit. His drumming skills are great, that's not the problem. However, the drums being a bit too loud in the mix, gives the other band members a bit of a disadvantage.

In my opinion, this debut EP from Belgian metallers Deathwish is not very special, but it's definitely not bad. It's an average EP but, considering this is a debut EP, it can be a good first step for upcoming Deathwish releases.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Deathwish Facebook

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Interview: Heyoka's Mirror

Soon Canadian metal band Heyoka's Mirror will release their new EP, called Loss Of Contact With Reality. DutchMetalManiac's Alessandro already reviewed it here and now he also interviewed Heyoka's Mirror, read it below!

Fellow Canucks, I’m very honoured to be granted this interview and very happy that a new power trio is emerging! Andrew Balboa - vocals, keyboards and rhythm guitars, Omar Sultan – guitars, Bayan Sharafi – drums… we are all glad to meet you! So, tell us about your origins!

Why Canada? We’re cold and polite mostly, aren’t there warmer climates to live in?

Omar: My dad decided a long time ago, he said “hey, you need a better life, a better place to live in” and that’s why I moved here.

Andrew: I lived in Vancouver for a year back in 2001, I was 11 back then. In 2002 I went back to Mexico and I realized Mexico wasn’t home anymore… I needed to go back… back to the land of the maple syrup.

Bayan: I was born in Drumheller, but both my parents are from Iran.

Are any or all of you classically trained or did you just pick up an instrument and become self-taught? What inspired you?

Andrew: I’m classically trained. I started taking theory and opera lessons when I was 14 back in Mexico. What inspired me? Dream Theater’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. The very first time I listened to that album, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Omar: I was never trained, I have never really actually taken lessons, but now I am taking proper lessons with Andy Bray from Mother Mary, an amazing English rock band from the 90’s.

When I was growing up I used to play a lot.. I was playing 6 to 8 hours a day. I used to skip school and practice all day back when I was 16 or 17. I just learnt how to listen to music and improvise a lot. What inspired me? Same as Andrew… Dream Theater.

Bayan: I decided I wanted to play drums because I wanted to be cool in high-school and drums was something I just loved doing. I had a punk band back then and the first song I ever learnt was Sex Pistols’ God save the Queen.

Is the world a better place with all this new technology for spreading the gift of music or was it better to copy LP’s to cassettes and spread it around? Why?

Bayan: Well, now it’s way better because it’s so easy to get to everybody.

Omar: Yes, but at the same time it has become easier for shit musicians to distribute their shit.

Andrew: I guess that’s one of the reasons why there’s so much shit out there right now. Anyone can now upload to CD Baby, Itunes and be instantly “famous”.

Your music is very intricate with some great influences that I hear, such as Yes and Dream Theater; tell us when and where your best times for inspiration are.

Omar: For me it’s when something big happens in my life. When heavy emotions come by, those emotions also bring a lot of ideas and energy to me and I get really inspired by that. I get inspired by emotion.

Bayan: Listening to music, feeling it and learning it.

Andrew: Same thing for me. I listen to a lot of music, I listen to everything… from Death metal all the way to J-Pop… and everything inspires me. But music HAS to touch me. When I get touched by music I feel inspired and I feel the need to touch you. Touch you in a way only I can touch you.

As per your band name, are you all contrarians? Do you react in the opposite way people expect? The concept is awesome, do explain!

Andrew: We are all contrarians when we write our music. All of our songs talk about issues humans need to work on. Face of Void was actually inspired by Facebook. We wanted to talk about how a lot of people put on a mask when they go on social media, a lot of people want to show a fake fantasy life they actually don’t have.

In the end… If you feel identified with our EP’s main character, Mr. Loomis… Then you have some serious issues you have to work on.

Onstage, 90% and live to fight another day or 110% and see what happens the next day?

Omar: 110%. We try our best every single show to sound our best.

Andrew: I don’t think we need to keep it safe… We practice and we practice a lot, so when we go on stage we are 100% ready… Once we go on stage, we just focused on having an awesome time and putting on an awesome show.

Speaking of stages, your FB has listed quite a few past appearances. How was the reaction to the band? Any plans to make it up to Toronto? A new tour planned?

Omar: People really like us! The best thing that I hear people say is: “I’m not really a heavy metal person but I love your style… you’re so musical!” And then of course, people who are into heavy music love our different style of metal.

Andrew: Toronto? We would LOVE to go to Toronto. We’re planning on a small tour around the west coast once the EP is out. Hopefully our name will soon expand to the east coast so we can tour over there.

I want to thank you so much for taking the time for us and as we go, give us “Heyoka’s Happenings” for 2017/2018:

1. WW III or Peace on Earth?

Omar: I’m going to quote Frank Zappa: “There will be no nuclear war. There’s too much real estate involved.”

2. Aliens Land – Aliens Keep On Going?

Aliens?.... Let me tell you something about ALIENS! Aliens are already here! Why is this kept a secret? Because humans can’t handle the truth.

3. Music Industry Better – Music Industry Worse?

Everyone: Worse… way worse.

Omar: Worse and going in a really bad direction, but we’re trying to save it.

4. USA Beer Better – Canadian Beer Better?

Everyone: CANADIAN all the way!

Andrew: …. Ummmm back to question 1… THAT’S why we moved to Canada.

5. Currently reading….which books?

Bayan: The Five Second Rule. It’s about you counting down from five and knowing that once you reach one you will find an answer to your question.

Omar: I don’t read.

Andrew: I only ready music ;)

6. Humans: Tougher then or now?

Everyone: THEN!

Andrew: Everyone is so sensitive now.

Thank you again for taking important creative time to talk to us. Do you have any last comments for DutchMetalManiac’s 2300+ readers? All the best success!

Andrew: The EP will be absolutely free to download during the month of December 2017. So get it now!

Omar: Thank you DutchMetalManiac for reviewing the album, thank you for the interview and to all the readers… get the EP and get ready.

Andrew: And you should look through the looking glass.

Heyoka's Mirror Facebook

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: Heyoka's Mirror - Loss Of Contact With Reality

The emergence of a new power trio, progressive to say the least, is always heartwarming; Canadian, even better and from colder parts of the planet, seems to inspire wondrous songs. (Can anyone say ‘Rush’?). Calgary can be no different.

Andrew Balboa - Vocals, Keyboards and Rhythm Guitars, Omar Sultan – Guitars, Bayan Sharafi – Drums erupt onto the scene with a new trio of songs that will enrapt and ensure their place in prog rock/metaldom.

Face of Void, a chilling, atmospheric piece that stars with a mixed blend of haunting and complex vox and powerful guitars – chug chugga stuff yea! Strong gravocals in there for the death metal people, intricately placed and sung. A beautiful arrangement from a very Rush sounding to a Yes sounding to a Marillion sounding to a Styx sounding to ultimately a Mirror sounding bit at about 3:15! Great!

Time Manager starts as a beautiful speed metal ditty and continues as a metal banger sure to get me another complaint from the neighbors – stellar playing, hammering and strumming and vox! “I…WANT…!” at 1:12 kicker! Screaming death metal vocals mezzoing into near operatic overtones is spectacular. The dual axe attack at 3:33 is superb. Slowing this down at 5:35 of this 9:13 song is revealing of their prog rock admiration. 10/10 just this song alone.

Finally rounding out this triplet of tempo, is the 11:53 Chronovisor, an intricate, keyboard heavy piece that needs to be heard on headphones. I normally don’t use them, but this is so instrumentally superior, I feel I am missing the experience and bits of music that escape into the ether. Beautifully blended, this is one of the best songs I have heard all year. Love the work at 3:00 onwards. Hair rising!

An outstanding record, looking forward to further Loss of Contact with Reality!

10/10 - easy

Written by Alessandro

Read our interview with Heyoka's Mirror here!

Heyoka's Mirror Facebook

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Live review: Max & Iggor Cavalera Return To Roots, Overkill, Insomnium, Deserted Fear at TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands, November 26th, 2017

It's a cold day in Utrecht. Tonight the Cavalera brothers are coming to Utrecht for a show in TivoliVredenburg. They are going to play Roots, the phenomenal Sepultura album, released when they were still part of Sepultura. Hopefully this Brazilian-tinted show brings some higher temperatures to Utrecht.

The venue's doors are open early, at six o'clock to be precise. Of course there is a reason for this. It is all because of the fact that there will be four bands on stage tonight and they all want some time to play.

At half past 7 the first band, the German death metallers Deserted Fear, kick off this evening. When Deserted Fear plays their first notes the venue is quite empty, probably because of the early kick-off time. It for sure isn't because of the band, because they're playing a very good show. However, while they're playing, more and more people are coming inside. The energy and passion coming from Deserted Fear while playing is really standing out. At one point their guitarist says that this is their second time playing in The Netherlands and that this venue is a nice upgrade compared to their last gig here, which was in The Cave in Amsterdam. With this set and their enthusiasm while playing, they are definitely worth this upgrade. People who came inside later did miss a great show for sure.

After Deserted Fear left the stage and the roadies finished preparing the stage, it's time for Insomnium to enter the stage. At this time a lot more people were inside the venue and a big part of them seemed to be Insomnium fans. With their partly atmospheric metal it can be a bit difficult to get a grip on it, just right after Deserted Fear's ramming death metal. Of course, this isn't due to Insomnium's music, which is very nice. In my opinion, it would be a better choice when Insomnium played before Deserted Fear instead of afterwards. However, Insomnium plays a very great set and the earlier mentioned Insomnium-fans can be satisfied with this for sure.

The third band of this evening is Overkill. While I heard a few songs from them earlier, I have to be honest with you, I never really took time to listen to more music from them. Why didn't I? To be honest, I really have no idea, because they're worth it for sure! It's a shame I didn't know this earlier. With their heavy thrash metal they go full-speed right from the start. A lot of energy is coming from the stage and Overkill perfectly managed to transfer this to the crowd. This results in the crowd going insane for the remainder of the evening. A lot of hair is going through the air, a lot of metal-horns can be seen and there is a giant moshpit going on. Overkill's cover of Fuck You, originally by Canadian punk band Subhumans, results in a lot of middle fingers in the air and a lot of people shouting along. Overkill delivers a perfect show, they really blew me away and I am sure I want to see them more in the future. In my opinion Overkill could easily be headliner of this evening and I am curious whether tonight's headliner can surpass this or not.

After the first three bands it finally is time for tonight's headliner, the Cavalera brothers and co are entering the stage for their Return To Roots show. The crowd tonight is really varied age-wise. There are people who probably know the Roots-album from the moment Max and Iggor Cavalera released it with Sepultura. On the other side there are people who listened to it later and who maybe haven't experienced Sepultura with Max and Iggor. However, all tracks being played are very loved by the enthusiastic crowd. They also play a little part of Black Sabbath's Iron Man, while the legendary Ace Of Spades by Motörhead is part of their encore. The Cavalera's and co delivered a very nice show and based on the final applause from the crowd many thought the same.

In conclusion, tonight was a very nice evening with four very great shows. As a nice extra, all of tonight's energy (and heat) made the cold night more bearable for me on my way back home. For me, Overkill's show was tonight's highlight, but the other shows were also definitely worth it.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Read our review of Insomnium's Winter's Gate here.

Max & Iggor Cavalera Return To Roots Official Website
Overkill Official Website
Overkill Facebook
Overkill Twitter
Insomnium Official Website
Insomnium Facebook
Insomnium Twitter
Deserted Fear Official Website
Deserted Fear Facebook