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Monday, October 31, 2016

Review: Lost Opera - Hidden Sides


It is almost a rule that you have heard at least one symphonic metal band in your metalhead life, at least a band like Nightwish. If you are into some symphonic stuff Lost Opera is a great band to listen to.

While it does not have all the intricacies in the keyboard section that Nightwish has, but even with that, the keyboard lines are great in the songs and they do give a great orchestral feel. The rest of the instrumentation is also of high quality, the guitars, bass and the drums can be heard, but like all sympho bands the keyboards take lead in the mix. Sometimes that lead can be a bit overwhelming and intrudes the vocals. Now the vocals are interesting, while it is mostly a clean singing vocal, but in a few short parts of a few songs there is a vocal that is associated more with the metalcore genre. While this may or may not be a problem for some people, for me it was a welcomed change from the usual expected style.

I do not have some other major concerns about this album, the rest of the album is great, and while it may be a typical pattern for the genre I still hold this album to be a quality one.

If you want a quality album, this is for you. If you are just getting into sympho metal this is for you, if you want some variety this may not be for you, but in general do have a listen. I do hope that the band will make some more experiments in the future, as this current experiment is promising. I give this album a 8/10.

Written by Nikola Milošević

Lost Opera Official Website
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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Review: Naevus - Heavy Burden


Tribute albums are great. There will always be someone to do homage to the greats that have spurred other generations and apparently, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? This album rocks all throughout on its own yet, if I didn’t know the band, I would think Black Sabbath got together with Ozzy for another one.

“Doom” metal or just heavy, take your pick, this falls into either nicely.

‘Dead Summer Day’ is perhaps my favourite; it doesn’t sound like the rest of the album, almost happier, despite the gloomy title. The guitar break at 3:26 is shredder and a fine lead into some good dual attacks along with another break reminiscent of yet more Sabbath and Judas Priest Sinner-type material.

‘Future Footprints’ while again, GOOD, is like molasses uphill in January for me. Personally never caring for the gear of ‘stoner-drive’, the plodding outwardly Sabbath song, leaves me just sitting by the side of the road, wilted and unenthusiastic. You will need to be in ready for this song; you can’t just drop it into a mixtape and say ‘listen to this!”

The title track is alright, once again vocals being overshadowed slightly by instruments but perfect for this sub-genre of the grander metal. The riffs are alright and the melodies good. The solos are definitely solid anywhere on here, but I can’t get past that Ozzy-like voice; has never been my liking. Yes I said it, I don’t care for Ozzy!

‘Naked’ was better; having an almost Tea Party element to the arrangements and playing, but this quartet from Germany are artists on their own, not matter how many influences I hear and cite. The first rate playing would make them a cool live show, especially on Halloween. Their FB page shows them Oct 30 at the Slaughterhouse along with Petrified. Wish I could go…

The ‘Outro’, mid album, is wonderful. The acoustic piece is a happy glimmer on this dark record and brings out the more natural voice of Uwe. I wish he’d sing more in this range. There is a definite ‘Yes’ feel to this. This should be at the beginning of the album and something like it at the end; or a whole album!

Yet. They fuzzy it again with ‘The Dwarves Revenge’; the tempo slows and the muffled 70’s are back. Meh, not bad again, but somewhat lacking in the enthusiasm I like. The ‘Whistling Tree’ got me going again with heavier riffs and better crunch and is my 2nd fave. This is great stuff and has good tone at loud levels. The vox key is different and more pleasing to my rock-hardened timpani and stirrups. Definitely a better written and sung song here.

Overall, a solid ‘really good’ for this effort and it will definitely make certain sub genres happy for its monochromatic edgy flow. Go see them! Get their really cool vinyl releases!

8/10 for their own brand

6/10 for Ozzy impression

Written by Alessandro

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Review: Sons Of A Wanted Man - Black Days Black Dust


If you’re still in the mood of the last Oathbreaker album, this is your EP to listen to next. Genre-bending madness from these Belgian dudes. Starting off very black metal-ish and progressing on to a more dreamy, doomy soundscape of noise and rattling.

In Belgium this style of music is not very uncommon. I named Oathbreaker already but don’t forget Amenra as well. Sons Of A Wanted Man do not shy themselves to breakaway from stereotypes and create a genre of their own. The band I can name that comes closest to their sound is the French blackgaze band Alcest. I hear a lot of similarities stylistically.

From agonizing screams into a very spacy vibe that sucks the listener into the music and doesn’t let go of its grip. The thing I like most about the entire EP is the build-up in the songs. Clearly this has been thought out very well and it’s always a little different so it doesn’t make you want to turn it off and go to sleep. The soundscapes keep it interesting and it just makes you want to stay more!

The experience I got by listening this album is the following. I was listening to the first song and from minute one, black metal is rasping through your brain. After the beginning sequence the soundscape kicks in and I didn’t want to leave that feeling anymore. Every time a fast and heavy structure popped up it was almost disappointing because they do their shoegaze parts so damn good!

My only complaint about the album is that it’s not very well done production wise. The guitars sound a little too distant for my taste and I sometimes don’t get what they are playing because it’s just a wall of noise. Now, I know this is a part of their sound, probably. It would have been far more intense if the production was as good as the music itself.

Therefore, I rate the album 8.5 out of 10.

8.5/10

Written by Joost van der Leij

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Review: Lessen - A Nebulous Being


Neat! This French quartet, hailing from Montpellier, is taking the ‘Progressive post-hardcore’ world by hammer and anvil. I don’t know what that genre is; people are just making shit up now, I'd I think. I do know that there are some influences here I probably have never heard of. It sounds like screamo or hardcore punk actually, with massive doses of Tangerine Dream, The Orb and other atmosphere/synthesizer type, moody atmospheric arrangements – without the synths! This creates an incredible sound that causes me to rate this:

9.5/10!

Their official video for ‘Already Dead’ is good, but I enjoy the YouTube official video for ‘Witness’ from ‘A Redemptive Decay’ – sick title – much more as I see the band on tour, live and get the overall feel for these already multi-talented kids. Lots of fun, excellent concert footage showing high-energy and the shape of things to come.

The standout is la femme de la batterie, Audrey G who is simply amazing. Such talent, as the chiropractor of the backbone of this band. A female Neil Peart if I’ve seen one! Her stoic, focussed look is impressive while the octopus-arms are all over the place, hitting the surfaces neatly and precisely. Great to watch and hear and you must see her YT play-through of ‘Out of Reach!

The music is dark and strong and except for two short instrumentals, ‘A Long Way Down’ and ‘A Long Way Back’, all music is in the 5 to 9+ minute range! Heavy guitar and screaming vox are prevalent. ‘A Piece of Heaven’ is my favourite, partially because it’s the longest one and mainly because it’s the more ‘rockier’ of the set list.

Expectations are high for this band as they embark on a so far brief tour and I’m curious as to what their audience draw will be like. The live shows are raw, fun and high energy, but I am looking also for some showy FX to accompany the ditties.

Written by Alessandro

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review: Magoa - Imperial


These lads have some good traction in the death metal world and will continue to go on. I draw attention to the horrible cover of their 2011 release ‘Swallow the Earth’. This will make it to the ‘Worst Album Covers of All Time’ list. I don’t know what they were going for, but ok, you’ve redeemed yourself with the following releases, of their ‘Animal’ EP, ‘Topsy Turvydom (cool name) and their latest, ‘Imperial’. – spooky, halting cover which is perfect for All Hallow’s Eve!

The title track grinds very nicely and the lyrical content is superb. Great arrangements. This is prog rock to me as these lads can really play. I love the musical outro at 3:34 to end. Atmospheric and a great lead in to whatever they have planned for live shows.

‘Resistance’ is a little chaotic and way too screamo for me and seems slapped together, although the production throughout is very good. Many will enjoy this and the rhythm/tempo changes.

‘Sailors’ is very good and has good play loud and meshes nicely with the concept of the album. Short and sweet will make this popular on the playlist.

‘Kill Us’ is my favourite! Great opening orchestral arrangement and solid music all through has made this a candidate for my ringtones. Great song that has concert chant written all over it.

‘Remember’! Very cool monologue and nice filler. I like these on albums as they give more depth and insight not only into the concept but into the band as well.

The remainder of the disc delivers in many ways; subtle, well written with great meaning and pounding music make this a definite buy. There are many bands leading the way to the metal scene and this is one of them.

9/10

Written by Alessandro

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Exclusive premiere: Dys Inbunden - Riders Of Malign


Last friday Dys Inbunden revealed the cover of their new single called Riders Of Malign, you can see it above.

Today, Riders Of Malign is released and DutchMetalManiac is proud to have the Dutch exclusive premiere of it.

Read a statement from the band below.

Riders of Malign was recorded at Endarker Studio with Magnus ‘Devo’ Andersson in October 2016. The hymn is dedicated to the titanic fire-bearer Azazel and the bloodline of Cain.
It serves as a war anthem for the formless forces of death and gives the listener not only a taste of what to expect from the next opus, but also an insight into our satanic doctrine.
Our hope is that this new song will curse the non-worthy listeners and bless those who are of the same bloodline as us. Those who walk the left hand path of gnosis and who have respect for what our art is trying to accomplish.
Hail Azazel! Hail the bloodline! Hail Satan!

Dys Inbunden wishes to thank the following:
Magnus ‘Devo’ Andersson, for his craft and amazing work on this single.
Michaela Barkensjö, for her talents and for bringing our art into a new black light through photography.
Melina Green and EAM Management for their undying efforts of promotion and support.

Listen to Riders Of Malign now:



Dys Inbunden Official Website
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Review: Beyond Chronicles - Human Nation


The Parisian melodic death metal quintet Beyond Chronicles is a newcomer in the field, as the band was formed only in 2013. The guys (and girl!) released their first full-length, “Human Nation”, on the 21st of October this year, after their critically acclaimed EP “Shatter”, which was released in 2015. Let’s give “Human Nation” a go!

The album contains 12 tracks, and kicks off with a heavy intro, called “Ground Zero”. Rings a bell? Yes, thematically, the album turns around the current problems of humanity, e.g. terrorism and the insatisfaction of humans. The lyrics are well-written and surely the highlight of the album. Sound-wise we hear great growls and sometimes even clean vocals, paired with usually brutal riffs. The total production is raw. While that is generally not a bad thing, here it creates a disbalance which sometimes completely distorts the sound. While this can be fixed with some more technical input, the general sound of the five is not your standard Gothenburg melodic death metal, but comes with a lot of variations and sometimes even with, in my opinion, power metal influences (e.g. Upon Them). This makes it entertaining to listen through the 12 tracks and discover new twists and turns in each one of them.

Overall, the quintet is delivering with “Human Nation” a satisfying first album. As mentioned, the production is surely not the best, but the overall sound, style and intelligent song-writing make up for that fact in the large part. Beyond Chronicles is a raw diamond in my opinion, so keep an eye out for them in the future and listen to their album in the meantime! 8/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: Albez Duz - Wings Of Tzinacan


My first thoughts when listening to the first track of the album: Ah, It's Halloween time! Creepy starts -especially strong ones- always attract my attention. The surprise after this introduction is that Albez Duz is not a band that is easily caught in one definition. Doom: yes, Sludge: yes, but also rock-elements, clean male vocals mixed with grunts and screams.

Innocent Gate for example uses a totally different approach to the dark than the introduction did. The use of church-organ reminds me of the gothic-touch Lacrimosa used to include in their music. Albez Duz easily changes the song to a dark rock sound, with elements of 80's influences, where the voice sometimes reminds me of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Third song Omen Filled Season starts heavier then the preceding songs and is a great combination of melody, dark storytelling, rock and metal. When 'Our Lord The Flayed One’ kicks in the only thing I can think is: RRRROCK! Catchy melody, nice guitars and the use of 80's heavy metal voice, combined with some great psychedelic sounds, can only drag you into the realm of Albez Duz. And when you think you had it all, the amazing grunt/scream drags you further in.

But the best thing is yet to come. The build-up of the album is quite brilliant. After being introduced to the different styles of the band, songs like Reflections, Sacred Flame and The Uprising take it all a bit further, adding more layers to the sound.

It is hard to make a clear definition of what Albez Duz' music is about. It is a combination of sludge, doomy metal, but with a thick layer of psychedelic rock. And it is great!

Written by Martijn Bakker

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Interview: Across The Burning Sky


In a few days Across The Burning Sky will release The End Is Near. DutchMetalManiac’s Julia Obenauer already reviewed it here a few days ago. Now she asks some questions and vocalist Aki answers, read it below.

Hey guys! Thank you for doing this interview with DutchMetalManiac. Could you briefly introduce your band?

Hi Julia and DutchMetalManiac. I think we are the ones who have to thank you for doing this interview with us.

To introduce our band is a short story: We are just guys which hang out together - haha. Okay, there is maybe a little bit more to say: Although Across The Burning Sky has only existed for about 2 years, and "The End Is Near" is our debut, we are no newbies in this sense. We played in different bands, had some album releases and played a lot of shows in the last 20 years. Sometimes successful, sometimes less. With Across The Burning Sky we just wanted to do what we love. We grown up with this kind of music, we have done our first own steps with this genre in the scene, so you can name it a kind of „personal back-to-the-roots“. We want to play music, just as we live and feel it. Far from thoughts of success, failure, business and other shit that a musician's life sometimes brings with. We originally wanted to do it just for us.

How did you come up with the band name?

We have searched for an phrase that reflects our thoughts, our feelings. A phrase that is powerful and dignified. Energetic, epic and at the same time like a primordial force. A phrase that describes the feeling we associate with our music. And that's what "Across The Burning Sky" does.

Sky as a symbol for expansion and freedom. fire as a symbol for intensity, roughness, wildness - a threatening force of nature. Just imagine the feeling of a burning sky - and you are right in the middle of it. Across the burning sky, as a master of the elements. That’s our music. Intense, rough, unconquered, unruly but also majestic, extensive and free. Sounds kitschy, I know, but we like it.

Well, there’s a bit of a mystery around who is actually playing in the band. As I read on your Facebook page, your intention is rather to focus on the music. That’s a great concept in my opinion. Has this always been your intention, or was it rather something that evolved as you proceeded playing together?

You can say it was from the beginning. As already mentioned, we have done the whole thing for ourselves. We just wanted it. Far from any constraints. And from the moment we thought "Hey, that feels good, maybe we should let some people participate in it," was clear that we wanted to do it exactly the same way we wanted to feel it ourselves. Only the music should be the one that counts. If people like it, great. If they do not like it? It doesn’t matter because WE love it. Music will not be better or worse just because the musicians are „known“ or „unknown“. We do not want that it affect the listening of music. Really good albums are not noticed because there are no known names on it. And a lot of shit is hyped in the sky just because a member of a trendy band has left a burp on it. That’s not the kind we want that people listen to our music.

Let’s talk about your debut album, “The End Is Near”. It’s got great reviews so far, and I personally loved it as well. How did you guys approach the songwriting and the recording?

Well, it all started with a small guitar session. I (Aki) sat in my hobby cellar, took after a few years of inactivity the guitar out of the case and played around. A riff, a melody. Then two, then three. A song. Two Songs. I just could not stop. Finally, I played the whole a couple of old companions. And we thought: whow, that sounds and feels good. And so one thing led to another. As I mentioned earlier, I was not active in music for some time. There were some changes in my life, good as bad ones. What burst out of me, while write these songs, was probably a sum of emotions that had accumulated in this time and now found their valve in melodies and riffs. We then improved the one or the other arrangement together, but the most of the album comes from my pen. At the beginning we had no plans to record a whole album. We only want to collect and retain our ideas. So there was no intentional approach to the songwriting and recording of this album. It can be said: it just happened.

To me, the sound was rather raw, and I couldn’t really perceive any post-production here. While this took a bit of time, at least for me, to get accustomed to, I thought that it worked perfectly to bring back that 90s Gothenburg sound. Did you intentionally use that as a tool for bringing more vitality to the record?

Yes and no. To be honest, one has to say, since at the beginning it was not foreseeable that the material appears as an album, we naturally did not visit an extra studio. We wanted to make it just for us. Possibly with a release on Bandcamp or via YouTube and Facebook. That’s the reason that the recordings are maybe not on these high level which one is maybe accustomed to from current productions. As far as the production is concerned: We have recorded a lot of albums as musicians in the past, but never made such a production itself. It was really the first time that we have been sitting in front and behind the controls. Our experience from former album recordings helped us a little bit, but it is a difference to play only instruments, or still made it sound good. We have done our best and you should have heard the mix before Pluto from MegaWimpSound mastered the whole thing - haha.

On the other hand, we have fallen in love with this sound during the recordings. Surely at the end there are always things that could be done better, and we would make better in retrospect. But, we quickly realized that this raw sound very authentic reflects our feelings. On the one hand there is a certain live-feeling. Plug in, rock on, kick asses. On the other hand, it is developing its own dynamics. You could say the songs are brought to life in this way. It just seems more tangible, more honest, more intense. Therefore, at the crucial stage of production, we decided not to change the basic character of the original recordings. Of course, we finally have cut, cleaned, filtered frequencies, raised and optimized. We did of course a few things in post-production. But not in the sense of "cut all corners and edges" to get a smoothly produced and bombast-blown album. We grown up in a time where each band had its own special sound, that made it exciting to listen different bands even of the same genre, they could still be distinguished. Today, to be honest, the most albums sounds same. Smoothly produced, with a huge soundboost. Without corners and edges, and in many cases also without independent charm. Sure, we also like bands and albums with this sound, but many can hardly be distinguished when you hear them in random loop mode.

How long did it take it to get the whole album done?

We record the first tune in summer 2014 and we pushed the last controller in August 2016, before the final mix went to mastering in beginning of September. But you have to say that this period really covers everything. From the beginning of the first note to the last song. Nothing existed before. We recorded every melody, every riff already during the songwriting. In the summer of 2015, at a time when the songs were already written and all guitars, drums and bass recordings were ready, we had to interrupt our work for a few months for personal reasons. It was not until the beginning of this year that things really went on. We wrote then the missing lyrics and started with the vocal recordings. With all wanted and unwanted pauses, we took 2 years. If all the non-productive phases were removed, it was perhaps 15 to 18 months. At the beginning, however, we were not in a hurry. Only in the beginning of 2016, when MDD offered us that they want to release the album, we also had to keep a schedule.

I also find your artwork very cool – who designed your cover?

Oh, we are very pleased to hear that, because for us it is not just a decorative accessory. For us the artwork, and of course especially the front cover, is an equal part of the album, like a song, or the lyrics. The whole artwork was made by German airbrush artist Lies Maria at „Brush’n Roll“. We get in touch with her via Kai from MDD. The background was, we love these hand-painted covers of the 80s and 90s. Many of them tell their own story, or a story that fits the plot of the album. We wanted something like that too. When we talked first time with Maria about a cover design, she was thrilled. We told her roughly what was going on in some lyrics, but do not want to gave her any guidelines. We just meant it could be something gloomy, threatening, maybe something apocalyptic, something with death, destruction, warlike, something that also fits to death metal and as well to the album title - haha.

A few weeks later she surprised us with that. Kali, according to the album title, awaits the approaching end as the goddess of death, destruction, but also of renewal. A second proposal for the front cover was the Skull, which is also used on our Merchandise and on the inside of the CD Tray. Since we couldn’t decide between the two motifs, we have used both in this way. Although the album is not about such Hindu mythology, the artwork fits perfect to the atmosphere we wanted to create. The front cover has its own „life“ and offers the viewer different interpretative possibilities. It is related to "The End" and symbolizes a "beginning" at the same time. In retrospect, we can’t imagine a cover that would have been more appropriate.

Your record is clearly influenced by the 90s Gothenburg death metal sound. Any bands that you particularly love from this era?

Since we have experienced this time in our late teens, we love them all :-) It was mainly the first albums of bands such as Dark Tranquility, Unanimated or At The Gates, from which we could not get enough of. At that time a huge wave was launched, which also captured us. Soon you could hardly count the bands and albums of this genre, but I think we have taken them all - haha.

Are you planning any tours or festival appearances to promote your album?

Originally we had not planned to play tours and concerts, but we also had not thought that it would become a regular album release at a label. Never say never. And although we would be no longer "anonymous", we would definitely think about interesting festival offers. Let us see first how the whole develops. The album release is in this week, until now no CD was sold yet, and who knows whether a larger number of people want to listen at all or even want to see us :-)

To me, the only pity was that your album was “only” half an hour long. Do you guys have more material in stock, and can we anticipate on another record soon? Do you have any plans in that direction?

"The End Is Near" contains all songs that exist at this time. There was the moment we thought "Nine songs are enough" and since we were dealing with the completion of the album from this point on, there was no songwriting, and so no more songs. We wrote this 9 songs while we doing the recordings. During the production process it was not foreseeable how long the songs and album would ultimately be. We have also shortened the arrangements during the production of some songs, because we felt some refrain repetitions as too "boring". Here and there a minute - and we would have had 40 minutes :-) There are still a few ideas and rough melodies that were not used, but these are at best fragments. I admit, we thought about recording somehow another song for the album, but all the songs so far gave a coherent whole. Each song in itself was something special and yet part of the overall atmosphere. We did not want to destroy these atmosphere by recording a song that would only be a gap filler. And so we decided to leave it at that.

Plans for another record? On the day when "The End Is Near" was in the CD pressing plant, we have in fact for the first time thought about whether there will be a succession album. It is still much too early to say something about it. "The End is Near" is just being released. We can already imagine to continue to write new songs and to publish a new album in 1-2 years. Concrete plans are not yet available, but we love what we do - so why not?

I’m always curious on the view of others on the current metal scene. What do you guys think about it? As said before, your focus is clearly on the music. Do you think that metal music is getting too commercial these days?

Well, it is always quickly said „everything was better in the good old days“. But I'm not sure. Perhaps the memory is deceptive? There has always been a big commercial mainstream in the metal scene. Today, Metal is perhaps something more recognized. You're not gagged any more when you're a Metalhead. But in the scene itself, many things were similar. There were already so-called and hyped all-star bands and they exist today. There were already media and magazines that did not perceive anything outside the mainstream - and they exist today too. The "problem" is, nowadays there is much more of everything. More bands, more media, more releases. This makes it a little more difficult to orientate. Perhaps, therefore, many prefer to stick to known names. But if you are really interested, you can still find them. The treasures. The albums with great feelings. We do not want to join the general tenor about the commercial in the metal scene. There has always been and always will be. The only thing we really find that was much more family in the past. Bands had sending flyers of other bands with letters. Bands sold CDs of other bands at concerts. They supported each other more, there was not such a big competition-, and ego thinking. Okay, the scene was also smaller and probably this is also a very subjective way of looking at things. We liked it sooner and we still like it. You can find good and bad in everything. But we also do not have to be in the middle of it. We enjoy the opportunity to focus on the music at the end of our days ^^

Any bands or records you are currently really into, or are looking forward to?

To be honest, mostly we are still into bands and releases from our youth. Sure, we know that we live in the year 2016, but a big part in us has remained well hang in the nineties. We have, of course, got an insight into the current roster of our label and we like many releases of MDD such as Dementia, Thormesis or the upcoming Ctulu album. We also have notice that Dark Millenium has a new album released after 23 years. This one I like very much. Otherwise, I like to discover on Spotify or YouTube one album and band after another. If you are not looking for something special, you can often discover great things.

Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

First, thank you for the opportunity to doing this interview.

To your readers: keep continuing to support zines and blogs like this one. Sites like these are the ones who are constantly digging new and keeping this scene alive. And don’t forget to check out our album. I’m sure you can listen it on Spotify or anything similar. If you like it, feel free to buy a physical copy, to support our work and of course the work of our label, which always had believed in us. Support the underground and finally:

KEEP THE FIRE BURNING!

Across The Burning Sky Facebook

Interview + album stream: Countless Skies


In September, DutchMetalManiac’s Julia Obenauer reviewed Countless Skies’ album New Dawn. You can check that review here. Now Julia interviews bassist/vocalist Phil Romeo, read it below.

Hey guys! Thank you for doing this interview with DutchMetalManiac. Could you briefly introduce your band?

Hi, we are Countless Skies: a four piece melodic death metal band from Hertfordshire, England.

How was the band formed? Did you know each other before?

James and Ross have been close friends and metal enthusiasts since school, often playing guitars together and dabbling in the idea of having their own band. They met me years later, introducing me to the genre. We produced a demo (Hatespire) in my home studio, before I became their fixed bass player and clean singer. Nathan was found later, whilst searching MySpace for available drummers.

How did you come up with the band name?

“Countless Skies” is the title of a great song by the band “Bel’akor”, a huge influence in our song writing.

Let’s talk about your album, “New Dawn”. It got really good reviews so far, and I personally loved it as well, especially the diversity between the songs. How did you guys approach the songwriting and the recording?

Most of the songwriting is handled by James, who will oversee the final composition of not just the individual tracks: but the album as a whole. Everything is written into software like Guitar Pro, often traded back and forth between the rest of the band to pitch compositional ideas or tweaks to their own parts.

New Dawn was recorded at HVR Studios, under the expertise of Danny Biggin.

How long did it take to get the whole album done?

Just over a week of full time recording every day. We actually slept at the studio itself.

The album cover also very nicely reflects the tone and mood of your songs in my opinion. Who designed it and how did you choose the cover?

Our artwork has always been a testament to the talent and skills of Carl Ellis. We send him our music and explain what we are after. He will then send us several ideas, rough drafts of what he believes will work as an artist. The band narrow down the choices and Carl works on the final draft, making a few edits until it is finished.

I heard some influence from Dark Tranquillity in your songs. Which other band(s) inspires you and your songwriting?

Bel’akor, Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, Devin Townsend, Wintersun.

What’s your opinion on the current melodic death metal scene? Any bands you are really into at the moment?

The scene is very much alive and kicking, with bands like Raze the Void, Aghast, Dorylus, and Cerberus Unchained. Perhaps not Melodic Death, but definitely check out Spectral Darkwave, Everest Queen, Outright Resistance and the unforgettable Footprints In The Custard.

You will be touring the UK with Whispered in September. Are you excited?

Unbelievably so, we’re all big fans of the band. Not only are we excited for our first tour, we will be sharing the stage with an exceptional band. It should be a great experience for us.

I saw that you played quite a bit of shows in the UK already in the past years, amongst others also during Bloodstock Open Air. Any of the greatest and/or most bizarre moments on or off stage you feel like sharing?

Watching Paige Lee (Outright Resistance) smash a light fitting with a confetti cannon was a pretty splendid sight, even if accidental.

Ross being interrupted by a drunken stranger, mid song, to ask the crowd for a rizzler was a little strange. Especially when he fell off the stage immediately after.

Any chance to see you live on stage in the rest of Europe someday, apart from the shows in Ireland in October?

We are certainly hopeful, having all shared the dream of travelling and performing our music outside of the UK.

Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoy the album. Keep supporting your local bands, venues and promoters!

Thank you for doing the interview!

Stream New Dawn in its entirety below.



Countless Skies Official Website
Countless Skies Facebook
Countless Skies Twitter

Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: Betrayal - Infinite Circles


All of the sub genres of extreme metal have had some critical moments in them when they started to be boring and repetitive, and death metal is no exception. Betrayal won't blow your mind with some crazy technical, blistering riffs or super fast blast beats at 300 BPM, but even with all that considered Betrayal is a great band, and this album is a great feat of recording and song writing.

To begin with, the album starts with a more atmospheric track not really giving a hint at what is coming after it. The following tracks are pure greatness made into songs. The songs are fast but not too fast, they have some acoustic breaks or endings, melodic riffs, great grooves and some great neoclassical shredding and masterful solos. The recording quality is superb, the vocals are not too high in the mix, the guitar is mixed well as to not be over-dominant in the mix, and the bass is a great filler in the riffs. But the drums are what set this album apart for me. The drum sounds is perfect. The drums are not clicky, and have a more than acceptable sound to them. The bass drum is perfect for the record, as I can't tell if there was a trigger involved or it is just the natural sound of the bass drum.

All in all, this album is by far the best I have heard in a long time so far, and I predict a great future for both the album and the band in the future, I give it a 10/10.

Written by Nikola Milošević

Betrayal Official Website
Betrayal Facebook

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Review: Alcest - Kodama


Alcest is returning after a 2-year hiatus with a new album; Kodama. The doomy-shoegaze band fronted by Neige or Stephanie Paut to friends has returned somewhat to their dark metal roots (what else do you want with a band fronted by ‘Neige’) and have made a pretty radical change from their former album Shelter, though to call it full on black/doom is a very far leap. It has some sounds though that are definitely darker than before, yet there is still a lot of shoegaze. All in all it is not as much a commercially viable album as Shelter yet lacks no diversity and is a very nice follow-up.

Alcest being pretty new to me, it is hard to say what the return to their black metal means for die-hard fans. Alcest has never been known for their hard music, I can imagine, and going on Shelter this album has way more guitars, complexer, faster drums and shouts which are legendary. There is even some blastbeats going on in Eclosion, the second track. What I liked most about this album though is the nice variation, which I sometimes miss in shoegaze/post metal. There is no soft start building and building endlessly to a climax and then cutting off only to pretty bluntly say “here’s your delivery” and be done with it. Alcest makes a very nice effort to flow from one climax into the other or just go back from a soundwall to a very small bare-bones sound. It makes it a bit complex to listen to, perhaps, but it pays off to take it all the way through. Sad to say this album only lasts 6 songs and only half are around the 8 minute mark; though in this genre the hiatuses can be longer and the pay-off even less.

Fans of God is an Astronaut and Solstafir will surely find some things on this album they very much like, and all in all it isn’t a bad effort on its own. It will not make Alcest the biggest band in metal but they make a nice corner for themselves to hang out.

Written by Frank van Drunen

Alcest Official Website
Alcest Facebook
Alcest Twitter

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Review: Wedingoth - Alone In The Crowd


Before starting this review I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of progressive metal. Not ‘cause I don’t enjoy its complex odd time signatures or huge songs but simply because the majority of prog bands simply don’t or just refuse to sound metal anymore.

It’s like the majority of their members (all skillful players mostly) simply don’t wanna play heavy stuff and just want to sound “weird” or “intellectual”. What’s wrong with that one might ask? Well nothing really, it’s just not my thing since I like my music equally melodic as aggressive.

So far I feel that this particular genre has disappointed me and it gets harder and harder finding something that moves like albums from early Fates Warning, Crimson Glory, Lethal, Heir Apparent, Vauxdvihl (definitely check them) or Ayreon.

So upon reading the press release accompanying Wedingoth (who I was completely of) I was turned a little bit off. Now my disappointment increased upon seeing that these utilize female vocals courtesy of Maud Hernequet (ex-Céphée Lyra and at the moment ex-Wedingoth too!!!) since she got replaced by Céline Staquet after this album was completed. When I say disappointment I mean my distaste for female fronted bands with very few exceptions like the old battle dogs Chastain, Warlock, Doro, Zed Yago, Velvet Viper or BattleBeast (who have one of the best god damn female voices at the moment). The way I see it most of the time female singers tend to water down the aggressive side of music by favoring a more mellow and softer one. The cover of “Alone in the crowd” also turned me off since it looked a little bit naive as far as the concept goes and its quality is not that great too.

But prejudice isn’t a good way of listening to music or experiencing any kind of art so I tried keeping an open mind as possible.

Musically Wedingoth can be described as a band fusing progressive rock, metal, with a slightly modern touch. Evanescence came to mind a couple of times because of the vocal melodies/harmonies while the rest of the band contributed to that feeling too. Their sound can be described as rock/prog with its heavier side being mostly controlled and tone down. After an unnamed intro and the interesting tune “Alone in the crowd pt1” the album flowed without many surprises till reaching the seventh song titled “Beyond their Lies”. There Wedingoth showed all the mastery in creating sonic landscapes of rare beauty. Combining majestic keyboards that helped introduce a soundtrack dimension suited for a scifi film. Beautiful female vocals and aggressive male created a claustrophobic sense while the instrumental side of their music provided the way out!

Mesmerizing stuff!

Eighth song kicked in titled “Alone in the crowd” proved to be an equal if not better successor. On this song Wedingoth sound heavy as fuck and also introduce various elements that I’ve only encountered in Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon beloved albums. At the end of the song I could only press repeat and travel to Wedingoth’s universe again. Must mention that last 2 songs have a total length of 22minutes!! Samples, effects, percussion, strings are just tools for these guys to create an atmosphere of their desire. The result elevates them to masters of their art.

If only this album had more moments like this then I’d be talking of a monumental piece of music.

“Alone in the crowd” isn’t an album without weaknesses (or at least I can’t identify with it all the way). But Wedingoth isn’t a band aiming of impressing listeners on first hearing. No, this French band (that already have 2 more releases in their 9 years of existence) wants to captivate you in a world of nightmares and dark inner thoughts. If you're searching for a band combining elements from bands like Dream Theater (and who doesn’t), Ayreon, or Fates Warning’s more depressive side then Wedingoth are for you.

Check them out and you won’t be disappointed but keep in mind to leave all kinds of prejudiced thoughts behind ‘cause only then you can appreciate the beauty of their work.

Written by Manos Xanthakis

Wedingoth Official Website
Wedingoth Facebook
Wedingoth Twitter

Friday, October 21, 2016

Review: Across The Burning Sky - The End Is Near


Across the Burning Sky – never heard of them? Want some more information? Well, large parts remain a mystery with that quintet. No information on who they are or where exactly they are from. What we know: for them, it’s about the music, not the people; they are playing to kick your ass; their first release is called “The End is Near” and it will be released on the 28th of October. Intrigued? Let’s give it a go!

The sound is pure old Gothenburg melodic death metal – in the style of the old In Flames and Dark Tranquility. Yay! The wealth of nuances and melodies in Across the Burning Sky’s songs is incredible. That is while the sound itself, production-wise, is rather raw. No perceivable post-production here, and the sound sounds more like a garage rather than a studio. While it takes a bit to get accustomed to this after hearing so many polished up and digitized records, this works perfectly to bring back that 90s sound – and brings a layer of vitality to the record which is missed by so many bands and records these days. The songwriting is very inspired. Riff guitars and the two perfectly harmonizing voices create an atmosphere loaded with epic darkness, with pinches of sadness and melancholy, and keeps the listener engaged in that atmosphere right until the end. The sad part is that it’s only half an hour long – but you’ll play it a couple of times anyway and it will grow on you more and more. I promise.

In conclusion: as nothing is known about the band members, everything revolves around the music – which, to me, is a great concept. If you have a thing for the 90s Gothenburg sound, or just would love to hear an engaging, very inspired, almost perfect death metal record, then treat yourself to “The End is Near”. 9.5/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Across The Burning Sky Facebook

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review + giveaway: Manu Armata - All I Have


There is so much music to collect and now, yet another to add to the pile. This album has all the right elements for me; great hardcore cover, good lineup, short, intense power-driven music and it reminds me of someone else I like. I hear Strapping Young Lad and Dead Kennedy’s or UK Subs all over this. ‘Keep breathing; rocks; love the concert-chant at 1:07: “BREAK DOWN THESE WALLS!” And even at 1:30, I’m hearing some Megadeth ‘Set the World Afire’ type-riffing.

Production is perfect for this alternative/hardcore album. Not too fuzzy with the right amount of emphasis on guitars and the vox overshadowing just a little. Everything is played with utmost intensity, not slowing even a little. ‘Mind Set’ is probably the fastest tune on here and will make it to my Speed Kills mixtape.

‘Free Spirit’ is my favourite! Hammering guitars and some great, fast skins work here. As is evident throughout these guys are tight and can teach some new bands out there a thing or three. It’s hard to find the time to listen to an album, as most people plays chops and bits of their favourite songs, but these gents take care of that with their short song layouts and get down to business style.

‘Let it Out’ is a solid track and gets the head going nicely at 1:11. Too bad it ends shortly thereafter!

Ah, ‘Broke Down’ just made it to my equally favourite. This is just the style I like for this genre, a perfect song all around. Great mid-song stop/start at 1:51 and the grinding chants thereafter.

With the last grinder named ‘Not Done’, we can only hope not from this Hellions from Harlingen. Nice FB pic of a busted up stage from their October 15 2016 release show! Keep playing real lads!

9/10

Written by Alessandro

Want to win this album? Check our Facebook and Twitter.

Manu Armata Official Website
Manu Armata Facebook

Interview: Nothing Lies Beyond


In June this year Israeli melodeath combo Nothing Lies Beyond released Fragile Reality. DutchMetalManiac’s Julia Obenauer already reviewed it here. Now she asks them some questions and drummer Ariel takes care of the answers. Read it below.

Hey guys! Thank you for doing this interview with DutchMetalManiac. Could you briefly introduce your band?

Hey, thanks for the opportunity first of all!

So, we are Nothing Lies Beyond, a melodic death metal band from Israel.

The band has existed since the end of 2011 approximately but during that time until now we have changed the line-up of the band a few times, that was the reason it took us almost four years to decide and to record our debut album ‘’Fragile Reality’’.

During the time, we performed across the country and also we were the opening act for band’s like Dark Tranquillity and Children of Bodom in their shows in Israel.

How was the band formed? Did you know each other before?

The band was formed over the Internet actually.

Guy (who was the other co-founder of the band) and I met online in a forum for band members. We started talking and found out that we have the same taste in music and that we are basically looking for the same thing, so we met with some other guys that we knew already and we had our first rehearsal (which didn’t go so well because we weren't prepared and also from a personal view, I just started playing the drums so it was very hard to be able to play together). From that point, Guy and I decided to continue talking despite the first rehearsal and we found the other band members through the online forums for artists or through our personal friends.

How did you come up with the band name?


The band name was taken from our really early period, when we played more alternative rock than metal or death metal. We had a quiet song called "Acceptance" and one of the lines was "Nothing Lies Beyond "…So in the beginning we searched for a cool band name and we settled on the name "Hemera" which sounds cool and had a great meaning, but after several months we found out on Facebook that there is already a band with that name in Germany I think, so we had to change the name.

We played that song "Acceptance" in one of the rehearsals and we stopped in the middle and started discussing about the line that I mentioned before, I don’t remember exactly who brought up the idea to use that line as our name, but we thought it sounded good enough and started using that name.

Let’s talk about your album, “Fragile Reality”. It got really good reviews so far, and I personally loved it as well, especially the tightness of the songs and the mixing. How did you guys approach the songwriting and the recording?

Yeah, so the album has received only good reviews until now, also in magazines like "Metal Hammer UK" and "Terrorizer" so we are really happy about that and to know that people like our music.

Regarding the approach to the recordings process, actually all the songs were written already before we started recording, but we did some minor changes in some songs during the recording with the help of our amazing producer Alex Zvulun who helped us a lot (and also recorded, mixed and did the master for the whole album with Vitally Zvulun).

I think that the recording process is an amazing thing that lets you actually learn from your mistakes and makes you a better player. For all of us it was new and was the first time we recorded so I think we will remember that process for the rest of our lives.

How long did it take it to get the whole album done?

I think it took us about 10-11 months from the first day of drum recordings until we got back the album mixed and mastered. It took some time to record it because it was our first time recording, so some parts needed extra time until we finished recording them and until everything was tight enough. But the final result was amazing in our opinion.

Which band(s) inspires you and your songwriting?

The bands that inspire us mainly are the Swedish melodic death metal bands like At the Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity.

I think that most of the people that heard the album, can relate our music to the 90's scene in Sweden in terms of the music. But I do think that we took a big inspiration from those bands and that era and added a more modern touch, it's in the breakdowns and some of the riffs in the songs, and also in the production.

In our personal lives, we are hearing different styles in music (on our old line up that recorded the album), that can move from pop and electronic styles and also death and black metal…so we also tried to put a little bit of each others personal style into the music that we made.

Israel has an active metal scene – but still, I find that most people are astonished if a metal band is from Israel. What’s your opinion on the metal scene in your home country? Any bands you are really into at the moment?

The Israeli metal scene isn’t big, and due to our "reputation" in the global media, I can understand why people are astonished that there is active metal scene over here.

I think that the big names that came from here are obviously "Orphaned Land" that are doing an amazing job , also there are "Betzefer" and in the last years also "Ferium" and "Shredhead" and I really respect them for the fact that they came from here and made an international name for themselves.

You need to keep in mind that the country itself is not so big (you can get from the north to the south in about 8-9hr drive max), so there isn't so many places to perform in and also because of the variety of bands there performing, you could have 2-3 gigs in one night in one city (there are mainly two cities that are active – Tel Aviv and Haifa), so it's also a problem, but I think that we try and help each other.

I saw that you are going to play back home in Israel in October. Are you planning / doing a tour to support your album in Europe?

Yeah! We are going back on stage on October 20th and also in the end of November and we will probably book another two gigs in Israel until the end of January.

Regarding a tour in Europe, that's a thing that we are really looking forward to and maybe we will do a big tour in the next summer with other friends of ours from the UK, we are thinking about it now and there were talks even about India… so it's going to be really big and something that if it will go as plan, will be something amazing for us.

Any of the greatest and/or most bizarre moments on or off stage you feel like sharing?


I think that both my personal greatest and most bizarre moment happened in the same evening. It was our show with Dark Tranquillity in a big festival with really good and big bands from Israel, and our first time in a big venue next to those big bands.

It's my personal greatest moment until now, and I remember that Guy and I were really nervous before going up on stage, and the venue was next to the beach…

So we decided to go for a small run on the beach 30 minutes before going up to perform.

Actually it really helped with the stress, but when we got back, we were really tired (at least I was), so I was afraid I will make mistakes on our songs due to the fact that my hands and legs were drained. After all it was a really great show and the crowd was amazing.

Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

I want to thank you for the opportunity, keep supporting your local bands and also the international bands, because even a little good feedback will make us artists smile and keep going.

You can purchase our album only on our BandCamp account and let us know what you think.

Thank you for doing the interview!

Nothing Lies Beyond Facebook

Review: Truckfighters - V


Fuzzmasters are back with full force.
Their fifth album blazes like a sandstorm through your head, one ear to another.
Honoring their predecessors Kyuss and Dozer with downtuned, almost unrecognizable fuzz filled guitars.

Five albums in I still cannot comprehend the fact that Truckfighters are from Sweden instead of The United States’ desert like landscapes. Fact is, that Truckfighters are one of the most successful stoner rock bands of the last century with releases like “Gravity X” and “Phi’’. On this record they went on a little different route with their song and riff structures.

Starting off with ‘calm before the storm’, Truckfighters build up beautifully for 4 minutes to their signature stomping riff blast. The only thing that seems a little off is that the build up to the main song structure is a bit weird. The buildup doesn’t transition that well into the blast. I think it would be better if it were 2 separate songs. But hey, to each their own.

I think this slight problem is my feeling for the overall album. The buildups just do not mesh in smoothly with the rest of the song. What I need to give my compliments for are the progressive influences throughout the album.

I feel like Truckfighters pulled a “mastodon” on this album by adding prog elements. I quite like it! It makes the songs of 7/8 minutes or even longer a lot more interesting to listen to and they never get boring. Always trying to figure out how the riffs are built up or the tempo switches.

The best moments for me on this album are in the last song called “Storyline”. Acoustic stoner rock, who would have thought! At least for me it’s a fresh wind blowing through the genre.

Like mentioned before, Truckfighters’ new album “V” is just the thing stoner rock needed to prevent it from getting boring. The prog elements and the acoustic switch-up in the last song are the thing that really made the album for me. Along with the classic fuzziness, Truckfighters are known for the new elements are a welcome change and therefore I rate the album 8.3 out of 10.

8.3/10

Written by Joost van der Leij

Truckfighters Official Website
Truckfighters Facebook
Truckfighters Twitter

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: Chiral - Gazing Light Eternity


The first moment I heard the atmospheric black metal Chiral played, which was when I was reviewing Abisso (here), I immediately loved it. This one-man-band from Italy was doing a really nice job. In the meantime, I also interviewed Teo (the mastermind of Chiral) here and reviewed his split with HaatE (here), the split with Nebel Über Den Urnenfeldern and Eternal Spell (here) and his own release Snow/Heritage (here). All of them were really great releases and now his 3rd full-length album Gazing Light Eternity is upcoming. Already released some very nice pieces of music, so I wonder if it’s possible for Gazing Light Eternity to overtop that. Time to listen!

Sit down, put on your headphones and start to enter the world of Chiral’s Gazing Light Eternity. From the moment it starts you will be escaped from the real world and thrown into this world. A world which feels like a dream. A dream which is perfect in all ways, but there is always one negative point about perfect dreams: they are always over too soon. While Gazing Light Eternity has a length of 40 minutes it’s also over too soon. But, to be honest, I think that would also be the case when it was longer.

The music has its dreamier parts as well as its heavier parts, but the dreamy, atmospheric vibe will always stay, even in the heavier parts. There are a lot of variations in the details of the music, which makes it even more interesting to listen to.

It doesn’t matter whether it is heavy atmospheric black metal or more something like acoustic folk with spoken word on it, it can both be found on Gazing Light Eternity and Chiral made it fit each other very well.

He takes care of your dream which started on the first note and makes sure it won’t be ended earlier than the last note.

I already knew that Teo Chiral was a great musician who could make a lot of great music, but you can hear that he keeps getting better in it.

To come back at me wondering if it is possible for Gazing Light Eternity to overtop its predecessors: It sure is possible and it sure as hell does overtop them. Wow, what an album!

Be sure to check this out and keep an eye on more music coming from Chiral.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Chiral Official Website
Chiral Facebook

Monday, October 17, 2016

Review: H-One - Cygne II


Post apocalypse hardcore. I guess I’ll name it that. Whatever you call it, it will light up the darkened halls of metal lovers. Powerful harsh vox and hard solid riffs are the order here, and while I tire of listening to that “gggggRRRRAWWWW” –type vocal, this will please many.

‘Salt War’ arrangements are solid and very hard to play and will please many prog rock aficionados. The amazing outro/ending at 3:02 onward has rings of Overkill, Into Eternity, Hatebreed and many other influences that are great to hear.

‘Home’ is my favourite! What a crazy ass tune; great breaks and split vocals. Good sound and production as well. This sounds more of a diction than a song or a sermon with the talk-vocals. Outstanding!

‘Pray for my Name” …Wow.. hard pounding old school rock riffs and some grunge sound thrown in for good me(tal)sure! Heavy! Great all around.

‘Mother’. I wonder if The Police would like this song of the same name? Certainly Copeland would embrace it just to annoy Sting. While not a cover, it would still remind me of some hardcore, unforgiving annoying mother, playing a shredder, doing the neck-wave. And a little Disturbed-like vocal at about 2:41! Nice little sneak in there! Sounds super.

‘Headcharger’! Up and down. Up and Down. Up and Down. Neck is sore. Don’t care. Awesome. Going to be a kick ass concert song!

The slow song: ‘Moved Reasons’ shows great versatility with this group and the slow pace and instrumental adds a powerful focus to their work. This needs to be longer so we can see where they can go.

They ramp it up again with a crazed, frenetic rhythm in ‘Black Cloud’ which is for me, a little much but I pushed on through, on my deck, annoying my neighbors. Not my favourite on this album, but will strike some hate-chords with many. And

I’m also glad for ‘Final Track’. Not so much keeping with the rest of the energy of the record in my view. The repetitive riffing until the end, was not a good touch but the band would probably disagree. A little tedious and over the top guitar wise, maybe I’ll like them in a while.

And then! At 7:34 an acoustic section…yea, I don’t get this fad of adding the outro after the main song. Some good attempt at singing ‘normal’ but that really activated my dislike sensors. I don’t know why.

Otherwise, 7.5/10

Written by Alessandro

H-One Official Website
H-One Facebook
H-One Twitter

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Review: Aanod - Yesterday Comes Tomorrow


Powerful stuff. I can’t even class this as any death/gloom/doom/boom/industrial metal. A great original piece reminding me of Fear Factory, their 2016 work falls in with the rest of my favourites of good gutterals, shredding guitars, pounding bass and death pounding drums. This is just simply a great compilation of humans.

‘Gambler’ resonates with me and D.N.A has a very interesting rhythm change and vocals at about 2:03; it sounds like a mandolin??? Very cool if it is! The changes in the song are very good and resonate progressive rhythms, which is what I hope they were going for.

The scintillating intro to ‘Resource’ captures one immediately and with the sudden grinding guitars and deep, frenetic vox, this is simply great to listen to. The changes at 01:54 make me listen to this over and over. A good finish to the song as well, showing these lads as having some great influences in writing and overall, excellent writing ability.

I don’t know if it’s the production or he intent to make the song ‘Pariah’ sound more tinny than the others, hence making it, well, a pariah from the others. It isn’t a bad song, but somewhat hurtful to my stirrups. The bass and guitar work at 01:40 is cool and intricate. This is a nice longer song at 4:25.

‘Starvation’ and ‘Cubes’ are both on par with each other and exhibit advanced playing that is making my neighbors nervous. Great changes and other turnovers make these songs perfect for a gloomy, rainy day on the balcony with hot toddy’s. So I sit in the rain and drink and listen to metal, so what? I’m not hurting anyone; let me do my thing!

Favourite: the last song ‘Crafting’. Wow. Brilliant work and lovely, moody mid-section at 01:58 and onwards. The lead in and riffs at 02:47 are hair raising and really show these boys’ playing ability. This group needs to blow us away with some live concerts; I’m excited to see their stage and effects.

9/10!

Written by Alessandro

Aanod Facebook

Live review: Sonata Arctica, Twilight Force at 013, Tilburg, The Netherlands, October 14th 2016


On 14 October 2016 Sonata Arctica played together with their support act Twilight Force in Poppodium 013 Tilburg (The Netherlands). I was there on the second row to review it for you. Twilight Force is a Swedish power metal band formed in 2011 and Sonata Arctica a power/ symphonic/ progressive metal band formed in 1995. Twilight Force played from 20:00 till 21:00, then they build up the stage for Sonata Arctica that played from 21:30 till 23:00.

When Twilight Force started to play the pianist came up with an large staff, it was an awesome sight. The other members joined right after and started to play the first song "Battle of Arcane Might". The drums are strongly present on this song, but flow nice with the vocals. You get the feeling that you are in a fairytale with knights. The whole set list the members make fun, jumping all over the place you even go jumping, what an energy do they have. "Enchanted Dragon of Wisdom" is a song with power and sing a long parts, the vocals are again powerful and fit right in. The last song that they played this evening was "Knights of Twilight's Might". It let you hear the capability of his voice from dark to very high. It was a great band to see live, they don't use their real names but chose to get nicknames.

Then after a half our brake and rebuilding the stage Sonata Arctica started to play. Their opening song was "Closer To An Animal" that comes from the newly released album. This song has power and rhythmic sing a long parts , but it is overall an calm song. The singer changed his shirt 3 times in the whole set (Black, Red, Blue). "The Wolves Die Young" was really beautiful to hear live, everyone singing along in the chorus. The guitar solos in the middle and afterwards the chorus again, it gives you goose bumps. We could choose between 3 songs (Shamandalie, Tallulah and The Misery), most of the people chose for Tallulah. It's a calm song with a lot of feelings in it, the crowd was waving from left to right. The song "Fairytale" came right after and is also a new released song. It is a song that is so perfect live, the vocals are sounding so fantastic. The last 2 songs were encore, the first song was "I Have A Right". This is a song that is more a sing a long song. The rhythmic keeps you head banging and moving. The last song of this evening was "Don't Say A Word", in the chorus part everyone started jumping and waving their hands. It's one of the songs that the whole venue was singing along, what an energy it was. After that they ended with the ”we need some vodka”.

This was a perfect evening with all the right ingredients from the bands.
This are 2 bands that you have to check out if you don't know them, or even go and see them live.

Set list Sonata Arctica:
1. Closer to an Animal
2. Life
3. The Wolves Die Young
4. In Black and White
5. Tallulah
6. Fairytale
7. Fullmoon
8. Among the Shooting Stars
9. Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited
10. We Are What We Are
11. The Ruins of My Life
12. The Power of one
Encore
13. I Have a Right
14. Don’t Say a Word ( with Vodka outro)

Set list Twilight Force (support):
1. Battle of Arcane Might
2. Forest of Destine
3. Enchanted Dragon of Wisdom
4. Riders of the Dawn
5. Powerwind
6. Flight of the Sapphire Dragon
7. There and Back Again
8. Gates of Glory
9. The Power of the Ancient Force

Written by Nathasja Voerman
Photos by Nathasja Voerman

Sonata Arctica Official Website
Sonata Arctica Facebook
Sonata Arctica Twitter
Twilight Force Facebook

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Review: Prevail - War Will Reign


I am really into death metal and all of its subgenres and I am always excited when I get told about or find a new death metal band which has some interesting details in it. Prevail does bring something not really new in death metal, but the way they did their direction in death metal is unique. They combine groove metal with death metal, imagine Pantera style of groove with older incarnations of Morbid Angel from Covenant and Altars, while at the same time the vocals are going in a more modern death metal tendencies and are almost exclusively guttural vocals.

The recording quality is over the top, as the album does not suffer from the symptoms of modern death metal where the vocals make up 50% of the mix and the rest of the instruments are heard in a turn basis. The guitars are sharp and cut through the mix even in the solos both rhythm and lead guitars are heard clearly. The drums are played with professionalism and the drum sound is mixed well in the mix, even the kick drums are heard all of the time, and there is no point in the album where the bass guitar and the bass drum sound the same. As I said, the vocals do not make up 50% of the mix, and with the style of vocals used on the record do justice, as even with the most harsh technique you can still hear and understand what the vocalist is singing.

All in all, I love this album and I do believe that the band has a bright future in the death metal world.

Written by Nikola Milošević

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Fatalist - The Bitter End


Initially appearing in the mid-2000s, California death metallers Fatalist quickly gained notoriety for their sincere and dedicated approach to the Swedish variant of death metal before a disbanding before a rebirth two years later that sees the band back and tighter than ever. Being the first recorded output for drummer Griffin Figueroa after Tyler Castro left following the reactivation of the project, their long-awaited true full-length debut is released September 23, 2016 on F.D.A. Rekotz.

It’d be hard-pressed to believe this wasn’t a group of Stockholm-centered youths emerging from the early-90s scene here such is the powerful and utterly unrepentant approach this takes with the Swedeath scene. Tracks like “Aberration,” “Coloured Red” and “Fear of Death” go for the ever-present and familiar churning riff-work that contains those loud and proud swirling patterns and charging rhythms that were commonplace in that initial scene, buzzing away with abandon while the ferocious riffing keeps this one moving forward at a grand pace. Likewise, there’s also “Devoured,” “Hollowed Shell” and the title track which are the genre’s prototypical mid-tempo efforts that let the pace down in favor of sprawling riff-work and more prominent melodic work which gives these efforts much more of a variety compared to the type of work found elsewhere here as the more ferocious tracks here are much more prominent throughout here. Granted, this here is all to be expected to be apart of this one with the band playing so closely to the genre’s heyday that there’s not much of a surprise here in many of these tracks. It’s all too familiar and goes through too many of the scenes’ cliches that there’s not much of a real identity to the band here with them playing with these tracks in such an approach, even though there’s a competence level to the material that does make for a somewhat more appealing time here than would be expected. Still, it’s an issue that does occur here and holds it back somewhat.

Even though it’s so obviously a part of the same scene as dozens of different bands here and that nothing here is all that different from those groups, this one still carries enough of a positive charge here that this is a fine choice for the most diehard and ardent Swedeath follower while those looking for more impactful work should look elsewhere. 8/10

Written by Don Anelli

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Review: Dawn Of Disease - Worship The Grave


Following the success of their previous works, German death metallers Dawn of Disease have continued to hone their style and skill-set through intensive live-shows while new songs were written diligently throughout this process. Taking a three-year gap between releases, the groups’ third full-length effort is released on June 24 via Napalm Records.

From the onset here, this one tends to reveal their dedication to the mixture of old-school death metal charges with plenty of impressive Swedish influences that has been present in their work. This one tends to feature tracks like “Worship the Grave,” “Ashes” and “On Trails of Death” a straightforward crunchy style series of riffing that whips along through the generally up-tempo series of patterns and features some utterly dynamic and twisting riffing that’s fully evocative of the rhythms prominently displayed by those groups. That is mixed together nicely with a much more American slant to the arrangements as in “The Saviour’s Tomb” and “Cult of the Fading Light” where the typical churning chainsaw-style patterns are replaced in favor of a more agonized, sprawling tone that offers a darker, more vicious bite to them than would be featured in the prototypical measure in that scene which is highly impressive here, especially with the inclusion of some solid melodic lines and harmonies popping up throughout here. Given that inclusion weaving throughout this one, it makes for a great balance of the more aggressive, up-tempo rhythms alongside the lighter melodic sections which gives this one some solid if really formulaic works in this approach. It tends to run along through the rather familiar and pretty similar patterns for the most part which comes from the tracks being in this same tempo and not really given much room for any kind of dynamic variations to off-set these changes. It’s really the album’s one main downfall as the majority of the work here follows the quite tight and explosive work.

Given a few minor and rather unimportant issues to contend with as the album rattles along through quite familiar processes in their particular approach, this one still manages to score well-enough in terms of energy and general aggression that there’s more than enough appeal for fans of Swedish-influenced death metal or those who can overlook the flaws for some crushing traditional death. 8.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: The Unknown - In Search Of The Unknown


It is not often, or better said, never, that we come across a Teheran based doom band. Consisting of Iranian Iria Moghaddamand and Kevin Pribulsky from the band 'In search of', it is not hard, yet witty creative, to come up with an album title like 'In search of the unknown'. The album is the first full length after two single releases, one of them being a cooperation with none less than Anathema's Daniel Cavanagh. On this album it is Thomas Helm of Empyrium who is invited for some guest vocals.

The doominess of the album comes not from a metalbase, but from dark craving, set into music. The album title is very fitting. Spoken word performances strengthen the feeling of being on a quest, searching for...well...the unknown. The musical arrangements vary within four parts of only one 40-minute track. From dark, prelonged guitarchords, to a filmic mix of hospital sounds, poetic spoken word, rain, crying, the Love story tune on a piano, to electronic chimes and string arrangements. The latter contributing to an alienating feel, like being drawn into space. Exactly that is the intent of the band, looking at the title of the third part of the song: Symphony of the planets.

The last part, lasting about one-third of the song, is more rock-orientated music, nice, but not necessarily a new kind of music. It finishes the journey much more musical that it started. Although nice to listen to and definitely with some good symphonic metal moments and interesting addition of female vocals, it does not entirely fit the rest of the album.

All in all the album is two-third experimental journey, interesting mix of moods and sounds, alienating in some way, and one-third sympho metal. The choice for making this all one song is a bit unclear. Especially because the last part is so outstanding from the rest. A good listen? Absolutely. Atmospheric? Definitely. One whole? Hmm..no. Not really. Does it matter? Hmm...no. Not really. I am a content man listening to my first ever Iranian album, being drawn into an interesting world. But if it ended after 25 minutes I would have felt more content.

Written by Martijn Bakker

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Review: Spore Lord - In The Beginning


Hailing from the USA, Spore Lord offers a fresh take on the tried-and-true genre of stoner metal.

Choosing to eschew vocals in their music, they open themselves up for a more instrumental, experimental approach to their songs.

What makes this album unique is that they chose not to name their songs, letting the music speak for itself.

The album starts out very heavy and immediately grabs your attention, while the second song has a lighter note that reminds a bit of an instrumental Steppenwolf.

Third track opens with a heavy, fuzzy riff that has a slight Electric Wizard flavor and gets complexly layered with the bass to the point where you can't tell the instruments apart until the breakdown/bass solo where it gets thrashy.

Fourth track immediately starts with a Black Sabbath - War Pigs-like riff, and suddenly goes into Symptom Of The Universe/early 'tellica territory. Switches back-and-forth during the track, and works surprisingly well!

Fifth track starts heavy, doomy, bobbing your head in a stoned haze-like, and switches to a more chugging sound, bit like High on Fire. Very groovy! There's a sudden fast part that's great for headbanging that goes into a 10 second break before the GUITAR SOLO! If you're a fan of 70's rock, this is the solo for you!

Sixth track grabs you by the neck with the riff, and keeps your undivided attention with a bass solo that shows mastery of the instrument.

The seventh track CHUGS as if the instruments are doing a drinking competition and goes on to prove that it can still walk in a straight line. Keeps your head bobbing and your feet stomping. The solo gives a bit of that "high way freedom" feeling.

The eighth and final track start out with a drum that seems to say "Wake up, you potheads!" and goes into a heavier Blue-Cheer like riffage.

What I liked:
- Unique take on the stoner metal genre
- unexpected changes in the music
- switches effortlessly between different styles without sounding forced

What I disliked:
- The sudden endings in some of the songs, there's not really a flow to this record as a whole.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this record, and didn't miss the vocals for one bit!

It was a very refreshing take on the stoner metal genre, and I think that they've really managed to push the boundaries and might even bring the genre to the next level!

Written by Gijs de Wolff

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Interview: Keith D. of Unearthed Elf


Soon, on October 31st, Unearthed Elf will release Into The Catacomb Abyss. DutchMetalManiac’s Henric van Essen already reviewed the upcoming album here and now he asks some questions to Unearthed Elf’s sole member and founder Keith D. Read the interview below.

Hi, how are you? And how is your knee?

Hey there! I am fine, I am grateful despite life's trials. My knee is better, I can walk normally but it's still awkward going down stairs and sometimes when I get up off the couch it makes a terrifying sound like someone is smashing a bag of Cheetos. I can get around but I will not be playing soccer or Capoeira any time soon. I didn't do those things to begin with though. But now I definitely never will.

Congratulations with ‘Into The Catacomb Abyss’, it’s a remarkable album to say the least, especially genre-wise. I have been told you have written this album when you were recovering from a knee injury that kept you chair-bound for quite some time. Can you fill us in on the details of this story?

Yes, thank you very much! A few years ago, I was going to see Alestorm and I was very excited to see them, so much in fact that I drank way too many North Coast Old Rasputins at the bar. Being the dumbass that I am, I said "I'm not too old to mosh, I'm going to go have fun in the pit!" I would soon discover the cold hard reality that I am indeed too old for such activities. You ever drink so much you are convinced you are invincible, like when you get the star in Super Mario Brothers, but then the star quickly runs out and you die because you got cocky and thought you could kill one more Goomba? I'm not sure exactly what happened but I fell on it all weird and felt something pop. After some tests, the doctor said it was a torn ACL. I was okay for about a year, but then one day I was just standing there and out of nowhere my knee completely gave out... the ACL then tore completely and ripped up the meniscus in the process. I was completely unable to walk, and the pain was excruciating. I managed to crawl to my car and drive home, but it was so bad I couldn't even get out of my car. I had to sit there and wait for my wife to come home and save me! I had to get surgery immediately. It was a very depressing and difficult time for me, and things weren't really going well with my other band, and now I definitely had to cancel a tour that I worked so hard to set up, and all of this was heartbreaking for me. It was just like all this horrible shit was happening all at once. I had my guitars and a digital recorder at home, and I was completely off my face on painkillers from the surgery, so I started crafting songs mostly just for entertainment. I had a lot of weird and fun ideas that I wanted to make into full-blown songs. It got out of hand and I ended up with a whole album's worth of tracks. Working on these songs gave me something positive to do with my time, something that I could work on with a real goal in mind, instead of just wasting time. I practiced my guitar a lot and learned a couple of new techniques by studying tutorials on the internet. I did nearly all my guitar and vocal demos at this time, just using a metronome since I couldn't play my drums. My cat would give me weird looks while I was tracking my vocals as though to say "this is an interesting twist in my usual day, but what the fuck is wrong with you?"

What, if any, is ‘Into The Catacomb Abyss’ storyline?

I am still trying to figure that out.

Where did you get the idea to combine power metal with doom metal?

Well, those are my favorite types of metal music for sure. So to me it makes sense to incorporate elements of both styles. I love the over-the-top theatrics and epic atmosphere of power metal, but I also love the slow mournful heaviness of doom. So those are definitely the two biggest influences.

What made you decide to do everything by yourself?

Probably because I knew that nobody else would want to be in this band with me! But I did set out with the specific intent of keeping it 100% a completely solo album. I had a very specific vision in mind for it, and I wanted it to be a personal journey. Also, it was a blast! This was the most fun I've ever had making an album, every day in the studio was just absolute fun. I was sad when it was over, and I left New Jersey with a serious bagel addiction that left me jonesing for quite some time.

When listening to your album, I got the feeling the music transforms from power metal to doom metal or vice versa three times, every time over the course of three songs. Is that just my imagination, or did you deliberately compose the songs that way?

I wish I was cunning enough to do something so sneaky and cool! But no, I think that is coincidence. Really interesting observation though!

What are your plans with Unearthed Elf?

I had always intended it to just be a side-project for fun, like something I would just do on the internet or whatever. I never originally had any intentions of trying to make it an actual live band or anything. I am just doing my best to spread the word about the album and I guess I will see how it is received.

Any chance on touring?

I have had a couple of excellent drummers hit me up about wanting to play it live, but I'm really pessimistic that I would be able to find other players to fill out a live band. I just don't know anyone else who is into this type of music. I figure that if the pieces of the puzzle fall into place then it was meant to be, and if it's not then it won't.

If you plan to keep on going with Unearthed Elf, how do you plan to combine it with Arctic Sleep?

Well, neither one is able to play live, so it has never been an issue. And let's face it, they are totally separate entities.

Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview, is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Cheers, thank you, be excellent to each other! Don't eat poisonous mushrooms... And remember that any kind of elemental fire magic attacks are usually pretty effective against mummies.

Unearthed Elf Official Website
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Monday, October 10, 2016

Review: Heaven Shall Burn - Wanderer


Heaven Shall Burn have pretty much been doing the same thing for ever now. But damn, they do it right. The new album Wanderer is not just more of the same, because like with every album it’s not fair to ignore the slight tweaks and variations. But the intensity with which Heaven Shall Burn still rips your ear drums to shreds stays the same. Love it or hate it, but as said, they’re damn good at it.

Now on to the tweaks and variations. This new album seems a bit more reliant on electronic influences, which becomes evident in the first song already. It is a big and almost orchestral piece not unlike the earlier album intro’s, but this one does away with Olafur Arnalds’ pianos in favour of an instant pummelling of guitars. The strings fill out the intro and sets you up for an intense ride, though the album gets up to steam rather slowly. Not until Prey to God does Heaven Shall Burn really put things in overdrive and goes all out.

Another thing that stands out is the use of more frequent double solos and the lack of tremolo-picking riffs that made Heaven Shall Burn so recognizable in earlier times. The tremolos have been switched in for a couple of madly awesome lower register riffs, but the double solos often break the tempo up a bit and go more towards some metalcore that I don’t like. The purist would already put Heaven Shall Burn in that little box anyway, but I refuse to do away with them like that.

Other than that there is lots to love on this album yet again. Bring the War Home has a intro riff that makes you piss your pants in awesomeness, and Prey to God just goes by so maddeningly fast that it’s hard to hold on. It loses all scruples of solos and just rips you to shreds for barely 3 minutes, which is pretty short for a Heaven Shall Burn song.

All in all, Wanderer holds up pretty nicely inbetween Heaven Shall Burn’s other albums. It is not extremely new but by now, do we really want something new? Don’t we just want these German weirdo’s to shout our heads off again?

Written by Frank van Drunen

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