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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Review: Pikes Edge - All Of Our Beauty


10/10!

An incredible album in its entirety! Rob Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, Maiden, Metallica; I hear all my favourites are in this group’s influences and the album soars all the way through! This album gives me a shiver like most of the Pretty Maids records do; talentful, artistic playing and writing along with a classy look.

The 4-piece, hailing from Munchen, Germany and tagged as ‘Metal’, have been around since about 2010 and released some other good material with their ‘Nameless’ record. Their tours include mostly Germany area so I’m not able to see them anytime soon as their vids are great and their energy is palpable.

This album ‘All Of Our Beauty’ kicks from the very first opening chords of ‘Denial of Service’ – a wonderful title as it reminds me of most of what I receive here in my city when attending many events. The incredible licks and mix of chorus and backup vocals makes this song a top 10 all around. Just great.

‘Blind Side of You’ has the most amazing licks and axe attacks at 02:10 onwards and angelic vocals to complement this song. Nothing compares to my favourite here; ‘Save Me’, as one of the best metal ballad-style songs ever heard by these ears. Memorable riffs and excellent writing compares favourably to much of the prog rock intelligence out there, and these guys rate a 9/10 for this song alone.

The nicely-fast ‘Tides of Time’ rocks all around and is well sung and completely balanced with the rest of the record. The crunching power chords of ‘Just Go To Hell’ are an excellent follow-up to ‘Ties of Time’ and would be an excellent mash up in concert.

‘Hypocrite’ isn’t bad; not one of my likes here as it seems somewhat piece-mealed together but still has good artistic value and overall sound. I don’t really get it as a song, but maybe it will resonate after a few more tries – or a month – or whenever.

This record is a definite must for your collection even if this genre is not your preferred style as it reaches into several genres and puts them together in a listenable and rocking way. Metal, Symphonic, Speed and Progressive vestiges are all included. I am constantly amazed at the writing ability of these types of artists. The intimate power of their writing and playing is perfectly integrated into a flow that can be listened through without having to take a break.

10/10 again, in case you missed it!

Written by Alessandro

Pikes Edge Official Website
Pikes Edge Facebook
Pikes Edge Twitter

Friday, November 25, 2016

Review: Veislakt - Fumar Mata


I don’t know whether to run screaming off a bridge or sit and listen on a bad mood day, but this album definitely has an effect of some kind on me! I would class this as ‘Ultra- Punk (if people can make stuff up, I’m going to as well), not metal, but there are some hints of others stuff in there. I was expecting a chainsaw sound somewhere…

The boys from Sandes, Norway have a sound that is perfectly muffled as is the norm for this genre and the Screamo-type vox are gravelly, incensed and ready to eat your face. Brash and un-relenting with shorter songs such as the pulsing ‘NAV’ at 1:48, the 2:16 ‘Derfor’ and the ultra-chaotic 3:12 opus ‘Sjarm ren’ gives us a look at the energy in these guys. ‘Flammer over’ is longer at 4:21 and is actually a bit better and likeable with some moderate rhythm strewn in. ‘Hjerteban’ is my favourite! There is some great Sex Pistols homage in there and a rousting rhythm. ‘Kaos Uden’ is probably my second favourite as it has more of an older Rob Zombie groove-vibe to it.

‘Lil mari’ is the surprise track I actually like on this record, because of the small vestiges of Tragically Hip chords I heard at the very beginning; maybe it’s a Hip cover track, I don’t know I don’t speak the language.

Their FB page has some limited pix but you can form an opinion that they like to have fun onstage and are blessed with lots of energy. I miss the clacking sound of a jiggling cassette too! Great touch! I also would have expected a little more energy on stage for this style of music; hell I’m half a century and I move better than that! Well, from the hand-cam shot footage anyway, maybe the stage was too small or they were having a slow day.

Just to show the love, I voted on your poll!

Overall not the greatest piece I’ve heard, but again what do I know about playing. They look like they love their stuff and hammering it with as much energy as possible. This is good to see a band that looks like they’re having fun with all and enjoying the ride. I’d have to be in a correct mood for this and it wouldn’t make a mixtape presently.

7/10 today, maybe 7.5 on a bad mood day.

Written by Alessandro

Veislakt Facebook

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Review: Freedom Call - Master Of Light


Freedom Call is a band from Germany that plays happy/power metal. Their last album was last year’s "666 Weeks Beyond Eternity" which was a re-release of the album "Eternity 2012".
Now Master Of Light is the latest album, released on 11 November and 18 November (USA/Canada).
Can they bring that smile back on your face with this album?

The album starts off strong with the opening song "Metal Is For Everyone". It's a song that
instantly let you smile. It also has some rhythmic parts which will make you sing a long and will let you head bang. "Metal Is For Everyone" is also a perfect quote, a good universal message. "A World Beyond" has an amazing chorus, with at the end a guitar solo and another catching chorus. The song "Kings Rise And Fall" starts off strong with fast paced riffs. Again, the catching chorus will make you easily sing along. After a slow song "Cradle Of Angels" they are blasting off again with "Emerald Skies". "Rock The Nation" and "High Up" are instantly bringing a smile on your face. The vocals on this whole album are spot on. You keep smiling with the melodic riffs that keeps you singing and head banging.

This is a perfect album, you just forget the rest and start smiling. If you like happy/power/melodic metal this is a band for you, go on and check them out!

Tracklist :
1. Metal Is For Everyone 4:52
2. Hammer Of The Gods 3:11
3. A World Beyond 5:54
4. Masters Of Light 5:29
5. Kings Rise And Fall 4:02
6. Cradle Of Angels 5:03
7. Emerald Skies 3:39
8. Hail The Legend 3:58
9. Ghost Ballet 3:07
10. Rock The Nation 3:11
11. Riders In The Sky 4:15
12. High Up 3:03

Written by Nathasja Voerman

Freedom Call Official Website
Freedom Call Facebook

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Review: Serpentine Dominion - Serpentine Dominion


2016, a year that has been called the year of the death of music (considering the number of musicians dying), but also the year of the supergroup. A year that gives birth to bands of which the members hardly need any introduction. Serpentine Dominion is George ‘’Corpsegrinder’’ Fisher (Cannibal Corpse), Adam D. (Killswitch Engage) and Shannon Lucas (The Black Dahlia Murder).

Though I, myself, am not a frequent listener of their music (apart from Cannibal Corpse), I was expecting something spectacular and to be honest, in that sense I was kinda disappointed. It’s not as powerful as I hoped it would be, though it did include a lot of neat stuff I didn’t expect. If you’re getting all fanboy-like after learning Corpsegrinder is fronting this beast, for the love of god, HOLD YOUR HORSES..and just listen to the intro track, which is simply titled ‘’Intro’’, for the lack of a better one, I guess. Maybe they’re just keeping it simple, who the fuck knows. Anyway, I like the intro, and if you’re an all-round fan of metal, I’m sure you will too. An acoustic guitar is something I wasn’t expecting, but okay, the riff is quite catchy to me and is soon empowered by electric guitars, tight and smooth. The 8th track, ‘’Prelude’’ is another example of this, except it leaves out everything but the acoustic guitar. Again, it’s quite nice if you like a change and want to give your ears some rest for the remainder of the album, but it’s not extraordinary or new and it sure doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the songs. ‘’The Vengeance in Me’’ and ‘’Vanquished Unto Thee’’ to me were almost inseparable. Crushing vocals, tight riffing, some facemelting solo’s here and there, yada yada yada you all know the standard metal song formula by now. However, there was a surprising lack of bass volume in the mix, and I did not like the clean vocals in the latter of the 2 songs mentioned. Not at all. It doesn’t feel out of place like ‘’Prelude’’ does, considering the influences each of the members have obviously brought to the table, but it’s just not something I want to hear in combination with Corpsegrinder. ‘’Divide, Conquer, Burn and Destroy’’ and ‘’On the Brink of Devastion’’ are probably the closest to the Cannibal Corpse sound this record can get. They’re definitely two of the better tracks, and they will tempt you to hear out the full length of this release. It is truly crushing and very enjoyable, but AGAIN, nothing mind-blowingly original. ‘’Jagged Cross Legions’’ could’ve been on that same list, but the chorus (and the accompanying clean vox) totally killed it for me. On the bright side, it’s got a really nice solo. ‘’This Endless War’’..probably the only song in which I dug the backing vocals, and I guess it’s a fitting track to close the album with. ‘’Sovereign Hate’’, not the final song on the album, but definitely my favorite. Other than a really cool title, it’s got a hell of a groove to it..it just keeps pounding all the way through. The only thing bringing this one down are the backing vocals..once more, but luckily they are never prominent throughout the entire record.

All in all, this record surprised me both positively and negatively. I was expecting a lot more death and a lot less core, but if you ask me, the pro’s outweigh the cons, even though you can finish this record in a little under half an hour. I’m giving this record a solid 7.5, and adding to that: I am very eager to hear future productions by these guys. Definitely a very interesting listening session.

Written by Nino Milillo

Serpentine Dominion Facebook

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Review: Sirenia - Dim Days Of Dolor


Sirenia is a symphonic gothic metal band from Norway. Founded in 2001 by former Tristania co-founder Morten Veland, they have since provided us with a steady stream of releases starting with ‘At Sixes And Sevens’ in 2002 and, for now, ending with their latest creation, their eight full-length, ‘Dim Days Of Dolor’. The previous two albums were received with quite some criticism, which, in my opinion, was legit up to a certain point. The complaint was the albums sounded flat, monotonous and uninspired, both production- and composition-wise, and, in all honesty, I had to agree.

As if having to make sure this one was way better didn’t pose enough of a challenge, the band had another surprise up their sleeve making this even a bigger challenge. In the middle of the process of creating ‘Dim days…’ an announcement on Sirenia’s website appeared, stating they had parted ways with their lead singer Ailyn Giménez García for personal reasons after an eight-year collaboration. No details were provided, but in a reaction Ailyn claimed she had no part in the split. If anything that at least raised a few eyebrows. Either way, Sirenia moved on to take on their latest challenge, replacing Ailyn with Emanuelle Zoldan. Emanuelle was no stranger to Sirenia, since she contributed as a guest singer to every Sirenia album since 2004 and has been Ailyn’s live stand-in before as well. Along Emanuelle and multi-instrumentalist Morten, Sirenia consists of Jan Erik Soltvedt on guitar and Jonathan A. Perez on drums. Now to find out if this quartet has risen to this challenge.

Well, let's cut to the chase by saying they have. Definitely! Those of you that are familiar with Sirenia’s previous work know that they never stray far from their musical roots, ‘Dim Days Of Dolor’ is no exception to that rule. Or is it..? True, they stick to their symphonic roots, which is in no way a bad thing, simply because they are very good at it, yet they have almost completely abandoned their gothic influences. So yes, ‘Dim days…’ in fact is an exception, even though practically there really isn’t much difference. It still has smooth, bombastic, symphonic, choir-drenched compositions, it still has the sweet, touching slower intermezzos and it still has the groovy riffs. You will notice there’s a huge difference nevertheless.

The entire feel of the album is different, which is not all due to a much better production. The variety within and between the songs is bigger, the use of keys and choirs has been tweaked and, probably most striking, the vocals are hugely different. Not to disqualify Ailyn’s voice or her capabilities, but Emanuelle’s more powerful, more operatic voice simply is the better fit to Sirenia’s music. And to add to that there’s a near perfect interaction between her voice and both the growls and clean male vocals.

All you need is the first three songs to realize how big the improvement is compared to Sirenia’s much criticized previous two releases, especially ‘The Seventh Life Path’. Opener ‘Goddess Of The Sea’ starts with a short, somewhat unnerving intro with a howling riff, after which Emanuelle lets rip, leading you through a powerful song and immediately giving you the feeling you’re listening to an early Nightwish release from back when Tarja was their lead vocalist. I can’t say the two ladies have identical voices, but there’s definitely a lot of similarities. The fact the variety has been a point of interest on this release is proven with the title song, the very accessible singalong ‘Dim Days Of Dolor’. This might even have some hit potential.

Up next is the epitome of the differences between ‘Dim days…’ and its predecessor, which comes in the form of the mighty ‘The 12th Hour’. Powerful parts are alternated with slower and orchestral parts punctuated with soundscapes and the interaction between both vocalists hugely adds to the intensity of the song. The magnum opus of this one in my opinion. The fact the masterpiece comes so early, it is only the third song of eleven on the album, is in no way reason to skip the rest of this release. Even though the first half definitely is the most exciting half, the overall quality of the remaining songs on ‘Dim days…’ is well above average. There’s even a few gems to be found. Try the gripping ‘Ashes To Ashes’, the powerful ‘Fifth Column’ with its sinister intermezzo or the emotional and sad ‘Aeon’s Embrace’ in which Emanuelle’s sensitive side shows.

I don’t know whether they have listened to the criticism or not, but the fact remains that Sirenia delivered a fantastic album with ‘Dim Days Of Dolor’. To start with the most striking change: of course people will miss Ailyn, but in my opinion Emanuelle’s voice is much more suitable for Sirenia’s music than hers. Her power and operatic style and the really great fit her voice has with the other vocals on the album adds to the drama, depth and overall feel of the songs, making it more adventurous to listen to. Pretty much the same goes for the much improved and needed variety in and between the songs and of course the better production of the album itself. Perhaps the most influential however, is that you get the feeling everyone was focused and inspired when they composed and recorded ‘Dim days…’, a much needed aspect when you want to create something good. Speaking for myself of course I think this one will appear in various year lists. At least in mine they will, I definitely have reserved a spot for them. Highly recommended.

Written by Henric van Essen

Sirenia Official Website
Sirenia Facebook
Sirenia Twitter

Monday, November 21, 2016

Review: Ruptured Birth - Transmutant


Formed in the summer of 2014, Canadian slammers Ruptured Birth have quite quickly taken a prominent role amongst the community by offering a highly-competent science fiction-based attack to their tight, technical slam-infused brutality. Quickly releasing their first EP and now joined by Aaron Cividino handling bass guitar duties, the quartet issues their debut full-length September 28 on CDN Records.

From the very start here, the band clearly and quite comfortably takes their technically-proficient brand of brutal death metal and slam through a very engaging whole. Offering forth efforts like “Saprogenic,” “Projectile Copremesis” and “Vomit Drop” which are a never-ending whirlwind here of tight, pummeling slams and breakdowns fueled through a ferocious blend of dexterous riffing, slow lurching crawls and a fine sense of blasting drumming, this manages to compliment the fine slams featured throughout the rhythms here. Still, there’s a more impressive focus here on introducing all these fine slams to a science fiction-aesthetic that’s built more upon efforts like “Strogg,” “Blood Siren” and “Nuclear Marauders” that are far more technical and twisting rhythms that drops the slamming pretence for quite more straightforward brutal death here, and these result in far more superior and enjoyable elements by wrapping around quite a bit more enjoyable elements within their basic framework-style slams and tight, chugging rhythms, and with the technical and the brutal landing together side-by-side this is quite an enjoyable release. There’s very little about this music that’s all too original or brings about any additional revelations within the music, which isn’t a terrible facet to this one but it gets extrapolated here with the endless overlong closing epic “Unnatural Selection” that serves a purpose in signalling the start of the bonus tracks on this one but otherwise doesn’t really do much for the album as a whole here with the nonsensical sci-fi leanings and pointless meandering that stretches the song out way past the fifteen-minute mark. It’s really the only thing otherwise that holds this one back with all the other enjoyable elements on display.

While it does get docked somewhat for some rather questionable overlong material in an otherwise enjoyable and vicious album, that doesn’t really deter this one all that much as the vast amount of enjoyable work on display here makes this quite an appealing and worthwhile effort for slam fans or brutal death metal in general. 8.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

Ruptured Birth Facebook

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Review: Denouncement Pyre - Black Sun Unbound


Following their previous releases, Australian black/death metallers Denouncement Pyre have steadily risen throughout the scene as the group's propensity for added intensity and aggression makes for quite a dynamic presence throughout the album. Taking a three-year break from their last album, the power-trio released their third full-length effort July 22, 2016 on Hells Headbangers Records.

Utilizing a rather familiar formula, the bands’ past works are brought to full-bear here with plenty of overly prominent aspects of their sound coming to the forefront here. There’s efforts like “Deathless Dreaming,” “Scars Adore the Whore in Red” and “Revere the Pyre” which takes a very impactful and pummeling black metal style with the swirling tremolo riffing, darkened crimson-blasted tones and that dynamic frosty aesthetic to the rhythms and melodies while merging it all with the tight, churning riff-patterns and creating a wholly appealing overview of that appropriate genre mixture. As well, there’s the efforts where it takes on those churning patterns and meshes them with the sprawling tremolo riffing like “Wounds of Golgotha,” “World Encircler” and “Witness” create a rather controlled burst of melodic intermittent rhythms that balance out the furious, raging work elsewhere throughout the album, ebbing and flowing together in fine fashion in a wholly appealing running order which is quite appealing and well-done throughout this by never keeping a lagging pace for too long or offering too many similarly-themed efforts around each other. It’s impressive that they’ve managed to accomplish this facet this early in their career, and really makes this one all that much more fun here with the varied approach on display. There are occasions where it dips down slightly too much for comfort and drags itself along somewhat, but it’s really the main issue to be had here as this is another fun and enjoyable blast of molten black/death metal.

Managing to bring out yet another stellar and impressive outing of black/death metal that features plenty of enjoyable elements while not really featuring too many problematic or even detrimental areas, this is a great inclusion in a rapidly growing part of a catalog that should readily appeal to all black/death aficionados or to quality extreme metal in general. 9/10

Written by Don Anelli

Denouncement Pyre Facebook

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Review: Herman Frank - The Devil Rides Out


Herman Frank is a German based band created in 2009. Since then they have released 3 albums “Loyal To None” in 2009, “Right In The Guts” in 2012 and their newest offering “The Devil Rides Out”.

Band’s name ring a bell? Surely does for classic metal fans from the golden 80s days. You see founder and lead guitarist Herman Frank is no new comer to the scene. Being active in discography since 1982, ex member for the mighty Accept and he has appeared in the ageless classic “Balls to the Wall” as well as on 2 albums that marked the band’s rebirth, “Blood Of Nations” & “Stalingrad”. But wait, this isn’t all!

Herman has also appeared in (brace yourself) Hazzard, Moon Doc, Sinner, Poison Sun, the newly formed project Panzer (along ex-Accept Stefan Schwarzmann and Schmier from Destruction) and Victory!!!!!

Always handling rhythm and lead guitars Herman can be considered as a guitar master in both departments. No, he isn’t the super shredder type that means no exotic scales, no lightning fast picking, or annoying ringtone style arpeggios. Instead you get solid riffs and fantastic leads that will bring bands like AC/DC, Accept (makes sense), Saxon to mind. Still going strong at the age of 66, Herman effortlessly gives seminars on how a good guitarist should play and on how to achieve a huge and full guitar sound. I swear this guy is like a German version of Lemmy!

As for the other members of the band, don’t tell me you’d expect anything less than seasoned veterans who have cut their teeth for years and years in the world of classic metal. Andre Hilgers (Axxis, Rage, Sinner, Vanize, Silent Force just to mention a few) on drums, Rick Altzi on vocals (At Vance, Masterplan, Thunderstone, Treasure Land) and Michael Muller (Jaded Heart) on bass, which is the newest member of the crew.

Herman Frank’s newest offering will bring bands like Accept, AC/DC, Victory and Saxon (just to name a few) to mind. From mid tempo boulders like “License To Kill” and “Ballhog Zone” to headbanging fast paced ones like “Running Back”, “Shout” and “Can’t Take It”. Some Guns N’ Roses influences surface on “Run For Cover”, mostly because of the chorus and that was a pleasant surprise! There is no shortage in heaviness in this album but also no big surprises either. If I could make a comparison to the previous albums I’d say that “The Devil Rides Out” is on equal ground with previous album but a step down from masterpiece “Loyal To None”.

Rick Altzi is doing a fine job as always. His always strong and soulful singing brought David Reece (Accept, Bangalore Choir, Bonfire) to mind mostly due to the fact that both guys have their influences rooted in hard rock from 70s & 80s era. Bass and drums have a strictly supportive role and make plenty of room for the guitar to shine. If anyone asks, yes this is definitely a riff oriented band!

Production is strong but now without flaws. Guitar sounds amazing and dominating throughout the album but unfortunately overshadows the rhythm section. Especially drum sound is a bit sterilized and lacks punch. Vocals could also benefit from being a little more forward in the mix.

Herman Frank’s latest offering is undoubtedly a strong one. The album definitely isn’t breaking new ground nor does it is mend to. If you’re searching for a strong dosage of strong German influenced metal or a good substitute till Accept’s next album, then search no more and check out “The Devil Rides Out”.

Written by Manos Xanthakis

Herman Frank Official Website
Herman Frank Facebook

Friday, November 18, 2016

Review: Horizon Of The Mute - Trobar Clus


HOTM is a doom/drone project of Jani Koskela. After a mini-album saw the light in March 2016, Trobar Clus is its full-length follow up. One thing stands very strongly: The cover art of Péter Takács and likewise the logo, is amazing! It creates expectations of a sci-fi doom movie.

The expectations partly come true. The music is doom as hell; slow, dark, melodic and with a harsh deathgrunt. The title of the four songs hint towards some fantasy world (Above Deep Waters, Inwardly Increasing Cosmos, Marcabru Speaks, Sestina). Also the use of electronics give an otherworldly hint. Yet, in movie, there is a storyline and development.

The long songs, mostly more than 10 minutes, have enough space for this development, but only in Marcabru Speaks, there is some build up and change in music. Most of the time however the music is more or less the same. Nice atmosphere alright, but I would not mind hearing a bit more growth in the music. The last song, Sestina, has a different sound, but goes on for a long time. Boredom is just around the corner. Musically it stands strong though, and because of that it is a good atmospheric hear. But for renewing, evolving music, you will be at the wrong address with Horizon Of The Mute. There is potential enough however and I am curious for a next record.

Written by Martijn Bakker

Horizon Of The Mute Facebook

Interview: Madder Mortem


On October 28th, Madder Mortem released Red In Tooth And Claw. DutchMetalManiac's Martijn Bakker recently reviewed it (here) and now he asks some questions. Vocalist Agnete M. Kirkevaag answers. Read it all below!

Thank you for taking time to talk about the new album and Madder Mortem in general. A lot of reviews and interviews starts with ‘it has been seven years since your last album’. I will not start with that sentence…

That would be actually nice!

I was wondering, if there would not have been record label- or member changes, how many albums you would have liked to have released since 1993 - the start of Mystery Tribe.

If we had no other issues, it would be ideal for us to release an album every one-and-a-half/ two years. It also gives us momentum to do gigs and do writing and we would not have to wait for it, what happened with Desiderata, a bit with Eight Ways and now it took ages!

But you still managed to keep the band together. There is a risk that it takes too long and the feeling for the band is gone.

It actually helps that we did have a written album that we really believed in. We had all this music and we wanted to have it out. We did have the occasional gig, but if we had no activity I think we would have died.

What is the meaning of the album title Red In Tooth And Claw?

It is actually a quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson and is from a long long long poem called In Memoriam and the original line is ‘Nature red in tooth and claw’. I guess you could say it is about human nature. How there is such a lot of violence in us and how we tend to idealise nature. But nature is in fact quite chaotic and violent. A lot of songs on this album deal with violence in some way. Or violent thoughts at least.

On this album we hear BP sings/scream a lot more then on former albums. There is a lot of violence in there too.

I love his screamings. He gets a level of aggression that I don’t get from that many other singers, BP has his own really angry take. For Eight Ways we were doing something a bit more produced, a bit smoother, so that one ended up with less screaming. We wanted to do something now with a little more teeth.

Looking at the artwork that has worked out too. Whereas Eight Ways had this amazing smooth, fantasy-like artwork, RITAC is much rawer.

We left the design over to Christian Ruud, he has been part of us for a long time (playing guitar on the Mercury record). The cover goes well with the album. We wanted to change a bit, because the other covers were more ‘pretty’, and this album is rawer. It’s different but I like it.

Looking at songs on the album, I want to ask about some of them. The chorus of ‘If I Could’ could just as well be used by any boyband, with all due respect. Is it not a risk to do something like that, though on the other hand it is heavy as hell.

If you look at the lyrics of metalbands that are not native English speakers, you will see they use a lot of more difficult words, like super advanced vocabulary. They tend to make it too complicated. It is a project for me to express myself more directly. I always tended to write mysterious lyrics and sometimes it can be right for the music, but sometimes I think it has to do with cowardness. If you know what to say then sometimes it is wrong to try to hide it in mysterious lyrics. And using simpler words also makes it easier to connect to the person who is listening. It has never been compared to boyband-lyrics however. But it feels good to do the lyrics this direct.

But if you like to be direct, and speaking about non-native speakers, why wouldn’t you write lyrics in your own tongue?

That’s really interesting question. For me English is my expression as an artist, not the ‘going to work and do the laundry’-person. And it is the language I studied, poetry and literature. It is for me the language I would use to express my feelings most precisely. Norwegian is slightly less flexible. That makes it sometimes stronger but it would also feel too naked. I would like to do something with Norse poetry, because it has a different style of rhyming, more the first letter rhyme rhythm. Maybe someday if I can pluck up enough courage…

Sticking to language; My first reaction to seeing the songtitle The Whole Where Your Heart Belongs was: Oops, they added a W to much! But then, as poetry it is a great find.

First of all: I am geek when it comes to language. It is what I do for a living and what I studied as well. I think the difference between the title and the line in the chorus (‘And it seems it never will let you go and never fade’) emphasises what the song is about. There is a whole where you think you should belong to and then you don’t and there are different kinds of emptinesses. But I also did think I was very cleaver, yes! Never forget that about rockbands. A lot of things we do, we do because we think it sounds cool ;)

Well that is a good example of irony. In what way is humour and irony part of Madder Mortem? The video of Fallow Season had some funny moments, like the waiter-part where the glass falls over. It is silly, although on the other hand it is a heavy emotional song.

Yes it is silly. The whole idea of these party-scenes was to make a contrast, because all of the rest is very bleak and dark. The song is a lot about the decadence of the way we live and the 1% who is bleeding the rest of us dry. I think it works like that -the butler is actually my dad!- the fall of the glass was accidental, but we wanted to keep it in, because it gave the sense of something stylishness that is crumbling. Another thing of it is: a lot of metalbands tend to take themselves so incredibly serious and that seems exhausting to me. I take the music and the lyrics very seriously but we are people, and people do stupid things. Terry Pratchett says it nice in one of his books: the greatest achievements and the greatest disasters happened because people have been fundamentally people.

I do see a lot of bands wanting to be cool and you dare to be, naked, fragile. At least in not trying to be cool.

When we were younger, when we released our first demo, we were talking about it: are we going to take on artist names, and you bet we are happy that we did not! We realised early that we are not good at ‘image’. We are really good at music, but not at image. We simply don’t have the time or energy for that. It does not work that well with our music either. It’s either all or nothing and we choose not to do that.

I was happily surprised when I first saw you on a live-video in a time where all (okay, most) female singers wore big dresses, like the Dutch gothic metal bands. And you did not fit in that image at all: no dress, no size 34.

The first tour we did with, amongst others, Tristania, we got one review, wherein the reviewer did not write anything about the music, but he did write a lot about how angry he was that I was wearing pants! To me that is so ridiculous. One should be very suspicious of any singer who wears a corset on stage… But nice dresses look good on some people…
We have had a difficult relationship with this whole gothic idea, because we were never really part of it. When we started out the whole gothic thing wasn’t there. You had bands like The 3rd and the Mortal but they weren’t gothic in that sense. And we came more from the Sepultura, Metallica, Faith no More, Soundgarden kind of background, but we always get compared to bands that we feel that we have very little in common with, musically, but the common denominator is that there is a girl in the band. That can be…okay, but can also be annoying. There are a lot of good gothicbands out there, but it does not feel like home to us.

People like to put music in a sorting box.

Yeah, well I am still waiting for the first ‘male-fronted metal festival’. It’s a bizarre idea. It is like creating a genre with bands with bass-players with black hair. It’s random and it is not about the music.

But if things are just about the music, why would you do a live-show?

Because that is music in its purest form I think. I love writing, recording and playing live equally. They are just different ways of doing music. It is great to have an audience, because something is happening in the connection between the artist and the audience. To quote myself from Underdogs: When it growls and roars it feeds back into those who made it be. There is something in the connection with the audience when you really feel you are doing it right. There is such a rush! I would not be satisfied to just do recording. And it is a lot of fun to play live.

Would you bring out a live-album? Or would you say: just come to a show?

It should then be a proper live album. Most of them are filled with over-dubs, that the audience has an unreal experience of what a live show would be. It is like watching a filmed theatre play. You cannot capture all that is happening in the moment. We do tape a lot of our live shows though. But then we would rather do a DVD. Then again, because we are not a boyband…I don’t know if people really want to watch us!

You include a lot of styles in the music. Is there a style you would like to include still?

Our new guitarplayer, Richard, he is a great blues guitarist and we have not done a lot of blues stuff. You may have noticed that the new record has some guitarsolo’s which have not been our thing really. It is getting a bit more of a place now. We are not very planned. We just start on a song and then figure out what a song needs. Sometimes it takes you into unexpected directions and sometimes you just go with the core of what you do. It is fun and sometimes we think: Can we pull this off?

Exactly that. Like if you are paying on a festival and people would not know you and you would start with a song like The Purest Strain (from the Eight Ways album) I think people would think: What the hell are we listening to now?

We played at Inferno Festival and we played The Purest Strain with a standing bass and that was quite fun, because it is an old-school jazzy kind of thing. We thought everyone is being very metal three days in a row, so we thought: they could use a bit of a laugh. People loved it. They were kind of dancing!

Do you feel Madder Mortem is a bit of a cage? Over the years the music is still recognisable. Would you like to do something different?

I would like to be in a jazzband on the side maybe. Me and BP and Mats play in a coverband and play old school rock like AC/DC, Deep Purple, Zeppelin and those sort of things. I love playing that as well. But then there is nowhere that I can do what I like, as to Madder Mortem. We have different interests on the side, but this is what we like to make.

Would you like to describe Madder Mortems music, or do you fear a cage?

We tried it a few times. We came up with ‘brute pop’ and other bizarre ideas. But describing it honestly: it is heavy, very dynamic, very melodic, and it is all about contrasts. And there is a challenging tonality.

On your biography on the MM website you start with ‘the music of the underdogs’ (title from last album) is that how you see the music?

Yes, because I think all good rock music has that sense of being underdog music because there is this hunger in it. There is rebellion and there is impatience. To me that is a little of the underdogs. We get the reaction quite a bit that our music is too difficult, but I think it is not. You just have to give the music a bit of attention. It is a bit about going into the world with your middlefingers raised. And we also identify to being part of the working-class people.

Now that all record label problems are over…when can we expect the next album?

We plan to start recording this summer, early fall. So if everything goes right, maybe early 2018 would be our ideal thing. We probably have enough material for two albums. We might do a tour if it works out, that might postpone it. But we also have our normal jobs.

Madder Mortem is a sort of underground band. Would getting bigger mean a change?

We are grown up. I cannot imagine what would change us. No matter what has happened around us, we always did what we wanted with the music. We want to make albums that we like and if people like it that is fantastic, but we are not going to change our music. If we would have great success, the only thing that would change is that we would have a lot more time to work with our music.

I asked lots of questions. Is there anything you would like to say?

We did this new thing that we did not do before. Every song has a quote connected to it. That is a little bit of my geeky side I guess. I thought it would be an interesting idea to take quotes that I really like and with that taking a different way of thinking about the song. I would really love people to think about that and give us feedback about what they think. Some of the quotes are classical English poets, but there is also Motörhead, Springsteen, Terry Pratchett… I like this idea of intertextuality. It would be fun to see what people think about it.

Thank you very much for the interview Agnete!

Madder Mortem Official Website
Madder Mortem Facebook

Interview: Assassin's Blade


On April 29th, Assassin's Blade released Agents Of Mystification. DutchMetalManiac's Manos Xanthakis listened to it and reviewed it (you can check his review here). Now he has interviewed Assassin's Blade's Jacques Bélanger and Peter Svensson. Read it below!

Hello, it’s an honor doing an interview with Assassin’s Blade, how are you?

Jacques: I am doing just fine and it is a pleasure doing an interview for DutchMetalManiac.

How did the name came up and how did you form the band?

Jacques: For a start, let us make it clear that Assassin’s Blade was founded by Peter Svensson (bass) and David Stranderud (guitar). Peter and Dave wrote all the music, and Peter wrote the lyrics. So when I joined the band, two and a half years ago, my new bandmates had already picked the name of the band as well as the album’s title and artwork. So I will let them answer this question.

Peter: The beginning of Assassin’s Blade goes back to David’s and my previous band/project Trap. David and I were the main songwriters for that band and we had a lot of material. When that band fell apart we felt that we wanted to do something with the material, just to have the songs recorded for ourselves basically. When writing the songs we always said like “how great it would be if Jacques Bélanger would sing this song, etc.” One evening after sitting at David’s house drinking whiskey we just said let’s try to contact Jacques and see what he says… So for us it was a dream come true to be able to work with one of our heroes! We enjoyed the first recording sessions with Jacques in Sweden so much that we asked him if he was interested in forming a real band together. The band name just fits well with the music and the visual image of the band. In a way, the “assassin’s blade” can be thought of as the tool to reach your objectives.

By doing a little background check I saw an older band called Trap, that David & Peter were members of, released a single in 2013 titled “Assassinations”. From what did I hear there are similarities in the style and music. Was this the prequel version for Assassin’s Blade and if yes why didn’t Trap moved forward?

Peter: Trap fell apart due to the fact that the people involved wanted different things for the band.

Jacques Belanger was the former singer for Exciter, an iconic band from the ‘80s. How did you get in contact with him and how was the collaboration between you?

Jacques: Peter, our bass player, was a metal fan who enjoyed Exciter music, enough to create a website for the band. That’s how I first met Peter. Over the years, we stayed in touch and met a few times when Exciter was playing Europe. In 2014, I remember that Peter had heard through the grapevines that I had done some recording (nothing important) with Manfred Leidecker, the studio engineer with whom Exciter had recorded quite a few records (Kill after Kill, Better Live than Dead, Dark Command, Blood of Tyrants, etc.). After recording the demo version of a number of new songs, David and Peter e-mailed me to ask if I were interested in recording vocals to those songs. They sent me the 8-song demo (all those songs are featured on our album “Agents of Mystification”). I liked the classic metal style of their material and I agreed to fly over to Sweden in order to record the vocals to six songs in Peter’s studio. I really enjoy working with smart and talented individuals, so the collaboration with Peter and David was obviously quite pleasant. After almost 10 years of inactivity, I had to get back in singing shape. When we recorded the first songs, my voice was not 100 %, but it was good enough to record some pretty good tracks. It is pretty much during those recording sessions, in the summer 2014, that Assassin’s Blade became a real band.

Afterward, Peter tried to shop this new material as an EP and got in touch with various European independent labels. Since most of them much preferred releasing a full album instead of an EP, we decided to record the vocal tracks to the remaining five songs here in Canada, at Manfred Leidecker’s studio. To be honest, I was a little skeptical about the feasibility of long distance collaboration, but Peter and Dave knew exactly what they were doing and managed to efficiently integrate the vocals tracks that Manfred and I would send them via an FTP site. At the end of the day, this collaboration was solid enough to lead to the completion of the album project.

Jacques has, in my opinion, a Rob Halford type of singing. Was this the style you were searching for? And how did you come in contact with him?

Jacques: If I am not mistaking, Peter and Dave were hoping that my vocal style would sound, somehow, like the high vocals that I had recorded with Exciter. But since Assassin’s Blade music was different than Exciter’s in a quite a few respects, I had to adapt my vocal style. The way I approached the recording was simple: I followed the vocal lines that Peter and Dave had planned and interpreted those lines with my natural style. I wanted the vocals to me somewhat “cleaner” than the ones I recorded with Exciter. I am quite pleased with the results.

Three out of four members live in Sweden while Jacques Belanger lives half a planet away in Canada. Does this affect the present plans of the band regarding gigs/tour or collaboration? Do you think it will be an obstacle in the future?

Jacques: Such a distance will certainly influence the collaboration. For now, the most difficult thing is to keep in mind that we have a band to work with. You see, the nature of the relationship that I have with Peter and Dave vaguely reminds me of the beginning of my relationship with my wife.

I met Sophie in Switzerland, during a business trip. We very much enjoyed each other’s company, to the point where we decided to stick together. For the first 18 months, we tried to see each other as often as possible, but essentially, we had ventured into a long-distance relationship. However, distance never deterred us from pursuing our relationship. We persevered because we believed in the authenticity of our mutual feelings, and we ended up getting married.

So, in a similar way, Peter, Dave and I – and eventually Marcus (on drums) – believed in the relevance and the importance of this project. Distance makes quite a few things more difficult, but each band member’s dedication had been such, that we have managed to make our first album happen and we are now working on the music for a second album.

“Agents of Mystification” is a solid album speaking to the hearts of any true metalhead. But it’s also an album that takes a step away from modern albums. What do you think about modern productions and current digital recording?

Jacques: All the recordings I did with Exciter were analogue. Believe it or not, it was on 16-track tapes. And for diversity of reasons, the sound quality of those albums was OK. Obviously, the 16 tracks were not sufficient, so we did a lot of bouncing. As a result, we ended up with situations where we had guitar as well as lead and backup vocals on a same track, for example, which turned mixing into a pretty intricate puzzle. At times, there would be two or three of us pushing the faders during mixing because only two hands were not enough to do the job. Had we had access to digital recording at the time, I am quite sure that the recording and mixing processes would have been much easier, and I am certain that at the end, the albums would have sounded better.

Without digital recording, I imagine that Agents of Mystification may have never been released. On the other hand, technology is not everything. So we had to work smartly with limited means. In my opinion, the limited means we had probably are the main reason why Agents of Mystification sounds so “organic”. We used modern technology without the sophistication of certain types of production. So, the production was simple, and the songs were classic metal, which paved the way to a more traditional-sounding album. Besides, this album was sort of an experiment. We had never played/recorded/worked together, we did not know where this project would lead us, but we never let the unknown factors stop us, because we strongly believed in the essential: our material.

In the end, I think that modern productions are cool. When it is well mastered, technology can be a huge asset and still sound pretty freaking good. I do not think that there is any need for a band to go back to traditional recording techniques, unless it wants to feel what it used to be like a few decades ago.

What was your approach in the recording and mixing/mastering of the album?

Jacques: All the music and half the vocals were recorded at Peter’s studio, in Sweden. The rest of the vocals were recorded at Manfred Leidecker’s studio, in Ottawa, Canada. Mixing and mastering was done in Germany, at QuSoundStudio. Ironically, mixing may have been the most difficult part of the whole process. It is very difficult to present complex ideas from a distance, while everyone has to formulate his thoughts in a second language. Peter and Dave are Swedish, I am French, Michael Kusch (the mixing engineer) is German, and we all had to present some pretty intricate ideas and nuances in English, via e-mail, in a very limited time. There has been some friction at times, but in the end, everybody ended up pulling in the same direction, and we ended up with fairly good results.

How do you feel about loudness wars and the influence of computers in the way music is being created today?

Jacques: Loudness wars are useless and end up being a poor excuse for lack of talent or inspiration. Do not get me wrong, metal is an intense music that has to be played at a certain volume to deliver all its potential power. But in my view, nothing will ever replace a strong riff/melody or meaningful lyrics. As for computers, they are perfectly cool if they are used to expand quality and creativity. On the other hand, technology sucks when it only serves to conceal any form of incompetence.

“Agents of..” came out a couple of months ago, is there already any new music in the works?

Jacques: Peter, Dave and Marcus started working on new material and have sent me new tracks for the next album. So pre-production is under way. Around March or April, we should have a good idea of when the second Assassin’s Blade album will come out.

How did you start making music?

Jacques: As a kid, I liked showbusiness and especially music. I never played any instrument, but at 17, I started getting involved in music to get people’s attention. Then, as I improved as a vocalist, I became really interested in vocal work and decided to concentrate on that aspect exclusively.

What music do you see as your influences?

Jacques: For me, musically and vocally, the immediate influences are Priest/Halford and Maiden/Dickinson. But among the more indirect and subtle influence, I should mention, Ronnie James Dio, Tony Martin and King Diamond.

What were the albums that made you become a musician?

Jacques: I was literally floored when I first heard Unleashed in the East, Priest’s first live album. Back then, I never saw myself singing to that level, but I was fascinated enough to give vocal work a try.

Any future plans about touring?

Jacques: Touring is definitely an objective. In fact, it should be fairly easy to organize some cool shows in Europe. Some offers have been presented to us, but we would rather release a new album first. Agents of Mystification was our introduction piece and has allowed us to make a first statement. Now, we want to perfect our level of collaboration, capitalize on our first experience and come up with an even stronger album, after which, we will have a lot of live material to offer, including some material taken from Exciter’s Dark Command and Blood of Tyrants.

Would you like to send a message to DutchMetalManiac`s readers?

Jacques: The team at DutchMetalManiac is doing a tremendous job and is part of a network that is vital to the promotion of metal bands, established and new alike. So read their material, follow them and be loyal to them: you will not regret it!

Assassin's Blade Official Website
Assassin's Blade Facebook

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Review: Leaves' Eyes - Fires In The North


Leaves' Eyes made their last album release "King of Kings" in September of 2015. To this point there changed some things. They replaced vocalist Liv Kristine with Elina Siirala. This EP gives us the chance to listen to her vocals outside of the live performances. This EP has a new song "Fires In The North" and 3 new versions of songs from the album "King of Kings".

Onto this new EP: The new song starts with a nice rhythm that represents Leaves' Eyes. The new vocals of Elina Siirala fits perfectly in this song. You really get the feeling that you are in a Viking-land. In the middle part of this song are more rhythmic parts that starts you head banging. The acoustic version of this song is a story apart. The first rhythmic part has more character to it, but personally the normal version stands out for me. The next 3 songs are 2016 versions of earlier tracks with the new vocalist. Her voice is a little higher than the one from Liv, that makes the songs "Edge of Steel" and "Sacred Vow" more an opera version. She is a fantastic singer. I think they didn't had to redo this songs, but instead write new songs that let you hear her great voice. The last song on this EP, "Swords in Rock", fits Elina perfectly, the refrains are spot on. The music really tells a story in the refrains, only in the middle parts is it more an opera version.

This new EP with the new vocalist Elina Siirala is a great success. Only the fans need to get use to the new voice, that will come by time. Go on and give the new vocalist a try, she will blow you away!

Tracklist:
01. Fires in the North
02. Fires in the North (acoustic version)
03. Edge of Steel (2016 version)
04. Sacred Vow (2016 version)
05. Swords in Rock (2016 version)

Written by Nathasja Voerman

Leaves' Eyes Official Website
Leaves' Eyes Facebook
Leaves' Eyes Twitter

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Review: Burn After Me - Aeon


The cool name says it all. This band, hailing from Milan, Italy sporting the genre ‘Modern Metal’, makes a heavy metal impact with their AEON rocker. A great look on their FB page; suits and ties, way to go guys! Some class here; got a Kraftwerk-looking thing going on and playing this style of metal in a tie is a welcome change of scenery than the ragged clothes and long, semi-dirty hair.

The opus is solid, while the vox are in that ‘barely-tolerable‘ realm for my aging ears, the intricate arrangements and playing expertise make up for it. The strings are perfect on almost every song with my favourite tones on ‘Right Fit’, along with the chanting chorus and ripping solos. And yet….

A top 40 hit with ‘Beatrix’??? Accentuating their playing notwithstanding, the ‘slow’ song shows what versatility these lads have and that metal is not all guts n’ terror. Brilliant playing and singing, for sure a hit with the chicks and will make a mixtape somewhere on some metal lovers playlists. Alone, I’m giving this a 10/10 as it has piqued the interest of my special gal, well until the guttural stuff starts. A pleasant surprise on this record for me!

‘Fixed Stars’, another slowly, is equally as impressive and emotive, with articulate guitar work and perfectly-paced beats.

A third slow one with ‘Angels’ wraps up a perfect trilogy with what I see is an extended song live; followed up with the atmospheric ‘Empyrean’ stands to make this band moving out of this metal genre into progressive. Powerful plays and great work here all around.

‘Sewn Shut Eyes’ is a fast rocker with all the trimmings. Well placed and well received. Also an amazing break in ‘Lustful’ at about 1:45 onwards; excellent playing and guitar attack here! There’s a definite Dream Theatre feel to it with smart and articulate fret work. The amazing slow-down at 3:22 until 4:16 is gold. A great song!

This is an overall well-oiled product complete with a good modern metal sound but rife with prog rock pieces and power metal chords in there. These newer bands need to be given a good chance to hit the market as it is saturated with much junk. This is one of them that will go places, I think. They have toured extensively already with many other bands and have their stage-legs. Videos on their FB page are tight and very visual.

9.5/10

Written by Alessandro

Burn After Me Official Website
Burn After Me Facebook
Burn After Me Twitter

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Review: Born To Burn - Welcome To Reality


Although I personally am not a fan of hardcore/alternative metal, I can appreciate a good HC/alt album, and this is one.

The first thing that struck me in the intro is the feeling of anticipation I got from it. All through the "song" I waited for the big breakdown and the subsequent riffing that follows a massive breakdown. And it didn't give me the sense of completion, it left me hanging unto the next song. The band did not bring anything new in the genre, if you listened to one HC band you listened to them all, and this band is not the exception. Even though the band combined alt metal with HC, the HC influences prevail most of the time. The vocals are the biggest example of the HC prevalence in the album. For me the constant screaming associated with HC does not cut it, I prefer some variety in vocal performance.

The quality of the recording is great, the guitars are clean where needed and gritty where needed, props to the sound engineer for the mixing. The drums and bass are mixed in great as well, and all of the instruments can be heard. The vocal levels in the mix tend to be a bit overpowered, and a part of the blame is down to the technique chosen.

Despite all the setbacks of the album, I still like it. It may not be my cup of tea, but it is still a great album and it needs the recognition of a great album. All I can hope is that the band can evolve and make an even greater album next time. I give this album a 8/10.

Written by Nikola Milošević

Born To Burn Facebook

Monday, November 14, 2016

Valhalla Outdoor


Hey everyone,

I know that this isn't about music, but it sure can be interesting for some of you. Especially for those of you interested in Vikings.

It's about Valhalla Outdoor, the place to be for your Viking-related activities. For a birthday, bachelor party, or to go to with your team, it's all possible. Of course, everything in Viking-style.

There's only one thing.

As every business, in the initial phase there are two things needed: promotion and some money to start. So does Valhalla Outdoor.

As any help is welcome, it would be nice if you could support Valhalla Outdoor.

You can read more info on their Facebook page and their crowdfunding page.

Of course, they are very happy with every kind of support, so likes and/or shares are very appreciated.

If you want to support them with some money, you can do so on their crowdfunding page, I'm sure they are also very happy with that way of support.

\m/

Valhalla Outdoor Facebook
Valhalla Outdoor Crowdfunding Page

Exclusive NL Video Premiere: Eternal Halloween - Bulletproofed

Three weeks ago, Eternal Halloween released their debut album. We already posted their first (here) and second (here) video and now they released a third one. It is for the track Bulletproofed and DutchMetalManiac is proud to have the NL Exclusive Premiere of it.

Check the video for Bulletproofed below!



Eternal Halloween Official Website
Eternal Halloween Facebook
Eternal Halloween Twitter

Review: Revel In Flesh - Emissary Of All Plagues


Following their usual style, German death metallers Revel in Flesh have been at the forefront of the Swedish-style grinding death metal fervor that was apparent from the beginning. Taking two years once again to get this one released, the bands' fourth full-length effort was issued December 2, 2016 on Cyclone Empire.

As was apparent from the onset here, this is a tried-and-true homage to the blistering, pounding death metal featured in the Swedish style from the early 90s. Tracks like the title track, "Servants of the Deathkult" and "Torture Throne" offer predominantely a part of the swirling groove-style of riff-work heavily featured in that scene, using this buzzsaw style of attack to generate a feverish energy and infectious bursts of aggression in this old-school style of worship throughout here. This is not only prevalent in high quantities throughout here, but it works rather nicely to buffer out the prominent melodic aspect featured here with the band employing a highly-developed sense of melody-driven rhythms in "Casket Ride," "Fortress of Gloom" and "Lord of Flesh" that were introduced sparringly in the previous release but come off with more focus and intent here. This highly-focused melodic bent being the prominent element to their attack makes this come off rather nicely yet also manages to cause the album a rather distressing flaw in being just way too simplified in the riff-work in order to accommodate the melodies. This is rather unchanged and simple-minded at times as though the performances are strong and engaging there's little else about this one to really get worked up over with the simplicity of the riff-work. Though this is a big factor, there's not much else here.

Despite coming across a little too simplistic at times, there's a rather enjoyable amount of work to this one employing strong melodies alongside the ravenous Swedeath riffing that it remains a highly-recommended effort to fans of the style or old-school death in particular. 8.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

Revel In Flesh Official Website
Revel In Flesh Facebook

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Review: Reactory - Heavy


Continuing to charge through the underground, German thrashers Reactory have spent the better part of their young career honing and refining their dedication to the old-school thrash scene by building their skills on the live circuit. Taking a two-year gap between releases, the group's second full-length effort was released July 22, 2016 on new-label F.D.A. Rekotz.

As was a part of their previous efforts, the groups' foundation to be found here is simply charging and explosive old-school inspired thrash. This one features tracks like "To Thanatos (Fumigation from Manna)," "Deep Tranquility" and "Angstharsis" that go from solid, crunchy mid-tempo charges with straightforward patterns and heavy arrangements while still breaking out the solid and rousing thrash energies throughout which are nicely integrated into the remaining sections of the album that really push more explosive elements forward. Those elements come from efforts like "Shrines of the Forgotten Gods," "Monolith" and "Let Me Rage Before I Die" are the more fuller and more rounded thrashing on display which generates more of a speedier series of rhythms rather than just the simple plodding rhythms on display more frequently here as these fire up more prominent riffing and pounding drumming that doesn't appear elsewhere here which really highlights the main issue with this one. There's just not nearly enough of a series of ravenous thrashing on display here which is dropped in favor of the straightforward mid-tempo elements and it causes a severe lack of energy at times with it abandoning the thrash in favor of the simplistic elements. It really brings this one down enough compared to before.

While there's a few too many bland and repetitive mid-tempo tracks, there's still enough of that fiery old-school thrash element found in here that it's more than worthy for fans of their past work or less discerning revivalist aficionados. 8/10

Written by Don Anelli

Reactory Official Website
Reactory Facebook

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Review: Royal Jake - Retaliate - The Answer


Royal Jake is a 3-man metalcore band from Belgium, consisting of Arjen van Acker on guitar, Kjell de Raes on drums and Peter de Bondt on bass. The latter is also responsible for the vocal contributions. Founded long ago, back in 1992, they started as a grunge/groove metal band, but never made it into the big leagues. After a long pause, the band reincarnated in 2010, marking the start of an evolution of their musical path. Although still present on their first release after their reincarnation, Royal Jake quickly exchanged their grunge style for metalcore, leading to the release of an EP called ‘Tenacity’ in 2015. Continuing their evolution they now release their new EP called ‘Retaliate – The Answer’. Unlike their previous releases, this EP has been recorded in a professional studio, greatly improving the quality of the production. This EP is, according to the band, a statement towards the modern music industry where bands are being financially exploited. Being an EP, ‘Retaliate…’ only has six songs, spanning a total playing time of a little over 21 minutes. Fine when it sucks, but way too short when the music is any good at all. Let’s see what applies here.

After a rather meaningless intro the EP kicks off with the title song ‘Retaliate, The Answer’, which immediately grabs you by the throat never to let go again. Its strong, heavy riffs require a rhythm section that is perfectly aligned with them and that is exactly what you get. Combine that with various, sometimes brilliant breakdowns and a grunt that can grind solid concrete and you have met Royal Jake. A strong opening like this one always causes concern the rest of the songs might disappoint, but that is not the case here. With each new song they manage to maintain the high quality they displayed on the opener. Next in line is ‘Apocalyptic Treasure’, quite a fitting name for a song like this. Riddled with tempo changes, this one is a musical adventure in itself. Kudos to Kjell for his particularly awesome drum work in this one, although this in no way disqualifies the work of the other two.

No rest for the wicked, the third song continues to relentlessly bombard your eardrums with top shelf metalcore. The grunts seem to intensify, if that even is possible, varying between deep, intense growls and almost demonic howls. A somewhat slower song, but that is not exactly something bad and to be honest the term ‘slower’ has been used quite loosely. It seamlessly flows into ‘Cassandra complex’, the penultimate song and the song with the most complicated rhythm- and tempo changes. When closing track ‘NGB’ starts you’d be forgiven for thinking you have ended up in the middle of a random rock album, because with its sweet opening it seems quite out of place on ‘Retaliate…’, but that is only temporary. ‘NGB’ turns out to be a gem, complete with distinct punk influences. What a way to end this EP.

Concluding it’s safe to say Royal Jake’s decision to switch from grunge to metalcore proves to be a very good one. With this release they are well on their way to secure a high ranked position in the genre for themselves. If anything ‘Retaliate…’ makes them excellent representatives to the metalcore scene, one it could really use as well. The power, intensity and depth of the songs and the music really stands out, as well as the ongoing variety within each song. The breakdowns are numerous, but never too much. The energy this trio puts in their creations causes a rumble throughout the entire release making it hard to stop listening to it. There’s something new every time you give it a spin. 20 minutes of this is nowhere near enough, so here’s the one piece of advice I’d like to give the boys: Stop making EP’s start making full-lengths! Recommended

Written by Henric van Essen

Royal Jake Facebook

Friday, November 11, 2016

Review: Madder Mortem - Red In Tooth And Claw


'Wait for me, wait for me, set the world on fire for me!' In the first song on their new album Madder Mortem already declares it: Wait for me. And it was a long wait for the fans of this Norse creative metal troupe. Seven years after their last album, Eight Ways, the group surprises the listener with another mix of soulfull songs that combine singer Agneta's expressive pair of longs with sometimes heavy, sometimes bluesy, and sometimes very fragile instrumentation. The screams of BP have more space on this album, where on the other albums it was only heard a few times. It brings more heavyness, but also more emotion to some songs. The songs are so diverse that not mentioning them seperate does not do justice to the album.

Opening song Blood on the Sand kicks off full of energy and with typical Madder Mortem changes in sound and rhythm. It is clear that the band have not gone dusty after all these years. On the contrary: Like good wine they have aged and grown better.
Second song If I Could has a sadness and a sensible helplessness over it, basically because BP brings more bewilderment into it. Great basslines make the song exciting, even though the chorus "I'm so sorry, I would change it if I could" could be from any boyband. Madder Mortem however turns the song into an anthem for the hopeless times when you think nothing you can do will make things better.
Fallow Season starts as some sort of heavy bluesrock. A song that is chosen as a single for a reason. It just feels fecking good! Great guitar riffs and Agneta's voice make it filthy nice. And no worries, it is still heavy, especially the last part.
Pitfalls starts fast fast fast! The sound is much like what was heard on the Eight Ways album and the opposition of faster and loud against slower and soft work well in this song, The catchy chorus is a nice transition between the two.
All the Giants Are Dead has the unpolished and raw sound that I know from their All Flesh is Grass and Deadlands time. Apart from the raw guitarparts, it puts an emphasis on Agneta's different vocalstyles.
Starting experimental and disturbing, Returning to the End of the World, has a quiet, dreamlike middlepart and uses heavyness and stillness as perfect ingredients for a build up to a great catharsis.
Parasite starts off fast and can be desribed as a garageband sound, but then with a much more intelligent use of instruments and the two voices that mix very well together.
Stones for Eyes introduces some prog sound which needs some adjusting for the listener, but is a nice change.
The Whole Where Your Heart Belongs is a little fairytale with a Tim Burton feel around it. The sound is odd, spooky and drags you into this fairytaleworld.
For some reason the last songs on Madder Mortem albums are always a bit special. Because of the style, the length, the climax. Underdogs is no difference here. A good bassline, together with great drumriffs push the song towards an emotional height of the album.
And basically makes you enclose the Madders into your heart (if the rest of the album did not do it already). That is, of course, if you are open enough for a different approach of metal...

Written by Martijn Bakker

Madder Mortem Official Website
Madder Mortem Facebook

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Review: Narvik - Ascension To Apotheosis


Continuing to offer a fine account of their style, German black metallers Narvik have taken the clear and refined focus of their previous releases and are embracing their darkened melodies and disharmonic vision into a tighter and clearer whole than ever before. Joined by bassist Nox and rhythm guitarist Agreas for their first recorded output with the group, their second full-length effort was released May 27, 2016 on Folter Records.

Embracing their core sound to the fullest, this here is quite the impressive variation on their particular attack with this one focusing on their traditional sound. Tracks like “Wounds of Aspiration,” “Psychotic Redeemer” and “The Shore” mostly goes for that familiar second-wave inspiration in jangly tremolo riffing and plenty of cold, freezing riffing that makes for a rather impressive attack here with the band going for that cold Scandinavian-inspired feel while generating the kind of melodic tangents in the slower tempos to generate the kind of steady attack throughout here which is built off that swirling series of riffing patterns. When this one goes for a more mid-tempo assault in “Geist zu Scherben,” “Fecundity of Death” and “Berstende Saulen” this really results in plenty of charging and wholly frantic series of rhythms accompanied by the fine introduction of melodic accents which becomes all the more apparent against the chaotic blasts featured elsewhere throughout here. It readily follows the school of attack throughout this from numerous other second-wave-worshiping acts to such a degree that it becomes a strength in how powerful and professional it is in this variation while also displaying the one lone downfall in how clearly it demonstrates this facet to such a wholly unyielding degree of worship as to make its own output nearly unimportant by comparison. It’s so close in fact that it really undoes itself somewhat even if that’s only slightly compared to the utter savageness of the attack here which does manage to overcome a lot of the familiarity found here.

Though this here is a mostly enjoyable and engaging slice of traditionally-flavored black metal, the fact that it’s so close in design and spirit to those acts limits it enough for this to really be knocked down only enough to have a real appeal to fans of the bands’ previous works or the most devout and hardcore old-school fanatic. 8.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

Narvik Facebook

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review: Detoxed - Modern Slavery


From the opening gravelly vocals and ripper guitars to the short, rapier point length of the songs, Modern Slavery is quickly pushing aside my cd collection favorite pick rack. These guys from Montpellier (seems like many good French bands are hailing from here – see my other reviews) are making rock and inroads since forming in 2009. Classed as “melodic death metal’ or thrash I feel this genre is progressing into darker tones yet keeping clear production. The under 5 minute length of most songs is attractive and a good strategic selling move for this record.

‘Shape Shifter’s radio intro and pounding drums is awesome. The guitar is crisp and clear all through this piece and nothing is overshadowed. The In Flames type harmonies are excellent and I’m glad they give reference to their likes on their FB page.

‘The Threshold’: pushing my threshold of like with its disjointed frenetic beat but needs to be on here for the die-hards.

One of the fastest drum beats I’ve heard in the opener in ‘Unveiled Insanity’ is amazing to listen to! The song itself is well characterized and solid in every respect. Great harmonies and vox in ‘Human Drift’ and ‘Fear of Terror’ is my favorite on this record; partially because it’s more power metal a la Primal Fear, but the song is overall great. ‘State of Mind’ keeps this power vein going and is my 2nd favourite.

‘The Butchers’…wow….

‘Destroyed Lands” receives a 10/10 for solo song that best represents this genre. It’s got everything including some of the best arrangements and changes I’ve heard.

‘Grey City’ is so-so for me; somewhat out of place on the album for the vibe I’ve gotten so far.

I love the dual axe attack/break at about 1:50 onwards in ‘Anosmic Bat’ – some great chugga-chugga there, and it’s always good to hear that knowing heads will bang at a concert.

This band is hugely representative of the ongoing changes in these genres and of the skill of some professional players out there. Hope to see more of them!

Overall: 9.5/10!

Written by Alessandro

Detoxed Official Website
Detoxed Facebook

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Interview: Deadlock


Four months ago, Deadlock released Hybris. DutchMetalManiac's Julia Obenauer already reviewed it here. Now she asked Deadlock some questions and below you can read their answers.

Hey guys, thank you for doing this interview. Could you quickly introduce yourself (who you are, what type of metal you play and where you are from)?
 
Margie: We are Deadlock from Germany and play a kind of Melodic Death Metal with growling male vocals and female clean vocals. Sometimes we also use elements from other music genres, like pop or classical music.

You had some changes lately in your line-up due to the passing of your drummer and the baby-related exit of your former singer. How did you cope with these losses?

Margie: I think we did a pretty good job in getting some stones out of our way. Now let's see, what the future will bring.

Do you think that these changes also affected your sound?

Basti: Sure. One of Deadlock's main characteristics for the sound is the female frontsinger. When Sabine told us about leaving the band, it was a massive shock for all of us. Luckily we worked with Margie as a substitute during Sabine's maternity leave and knew, that she can do the job. Her voice is a bit different than Sabine's, of course. That's one thing. And she has also some great abilities, that you can hear on “Ein Deutsches Requiem”. We've had also a change in our rhythm group. Werner (drums) and Chris (bass) do a great job and harmonize perfectly.

Let’s talk about your new album, “Hybris”. How did you go about the songwriting and production part?

Werner: As you might know, Sebastian, our lead guitarist is the main songwriter. He develops ideas for songs, and complete songs on his own at first. After that, we all meet and talk about the songs, change the structures or develop new ideas. On this album, we had Ali Dietz and Eike Freese as producers on board.

I personally liked the album, but I also saw that many reviewers missed these very “exotic” musical influences, like hip-hop, on it. Was it intentional to change your sound a bit this time around?

Margie: Right! On this album we didn't work with Hip-Hop elements, but we used some classical elements and also recorded German lyrics, for the first time in Deadlock's history. For us, it was “exotic” enough ;)

You also have two German tracks on it – a tribute to your former drummer who passed away, right? What can you tell about those songs?

Basti: One of these tracks is “Vergebung”. But it's without vocals. It's only the German title. The second one is “Ein Deutsches Requiem”. For this one, we used lyrics from Johannes Brahms' “Ein Deutsches Requiem”.

I saw that you played some festivals in August – are you planning a European tour to introduce your new album to your fans? If so, when can we expect to see you on the road?

Basti: At the moment we are in a hot phase. I think in a few weeks we can say more. Keep yourself updated on our homepage our via Facebook.

You are around since quite some time and also toured extensively. Any great or funny memories from your life on the road you feel like sharing?

Werner: Touring is always fun. There are a lot of great memories form our lifes on the road. Especially hanging around with friends and having a great time with lots of different people.

Germany has always been quite active in the metal scene. Is there any (underground) band you especially like? And/or any upcoming albums you particularly look forward to?

Werner: There are so many fantastic underground bands in Germany, nobody knows. In fact, I can’t tell you which of them is my favorite underground band. In 2016, a lot of great albums were released. My favorite albums in 2016 were the new Katatonia and the new Meshuggah album.

Last but not least: do you have a message for our readers?

Margie: Please go out and visit clubshows, not only big festivals. We have to keep the concert scene alive!

Thank you for doing the interview!

Deadlock Official Website
Deadlock Facebook

Promoting Bands Part 5 - Black Metal Edition



Hi,

Here is a new Promoting Bands part for you.

From now on, I will try to post these parts more often, so if you want to be part of Promoting Bands, get in touch with us. You can send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or email us at info@dutchmetalmaniac.com.

If you haven't checked the earlier parts, be sure to do so at the following links:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Enjoy!

Tim van Velthuysen

1. Horn


This one-man-band from Germany creates black metal with nature themes in a very nice way. Last year his latest album Feldpost was released and now a new album is announced! On January 27th, 2017 Turm Am Hang will be unleashed upon earth, you can check the cover and tracklist below.


Tracklisting for Horn's Turm am Hang
1. Alles in einem Schnitt
2. Turm am Hang
3. Verhallend in Landstrichen
4. Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz
5. Ä(h)renschnitter
6. Totenräumer
7. Lanz und Spieß
8. Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels
9. The sky has not always been this way

Horn Facebook

2. Maugrim


Second band for now is more on another side of black metal, the DSBM side. Maugrim hails from North Carolina, USA and their music is really intense. On October 21 they released their latest effort called Primordial Venom and if you dig this kind of black metal you have to check this out! You can listen to it below.



Maugrim Facebook

3. Ashes Of Nowhere


Post-black from Italy! I just discovered this band, but their debut album, called Emptiness, was already released in 2015. Wow! What an album, Alessandro Coos (instruments/vocals) and Andrea Lodolo (vocals) really did a great job. This is something you have to check out for sure. Below, you can listen to Emptiness.



Ashes Of Nowhere Facebook

4. Formicarius


Formicarius, hailing from the UK, just formed in 2014 and while their full-length debut is still upcoming, they already released their single called Lake Of The Dead. It sounds really good and it makes you hope the full-length will be as good as this. Their Lake Of The Dead single is available as a name-your-price download on their Bandcamp and below you can check their video for the track.



Formicarius Official Website
Formicarius Facebook
Formicarius Twitter

5. Scour


Scour is a relatively new black metal band, but I am pretty sure you heard some of their members names before. John Jarvis of, amongst others, Pig Destroyer, Derek Engemann of Cattle Decapitation, Phil Anselmo, who most people will know from Pantera, Down or Superjoint Ritual, together with Chase Fraser and Jesse Schobel. Their debut EP, which is called The Grey EP, is already released since July 15 and you can listen to it below. It's something you have to check out for sure!



Scour Official Website
Scour Facebook

Review: Bloody Blasphemy - Total Death Celebration


Formed way back in 1999, Swiss black metallers Bloody Blasphemy have taken their time to hone and perfect their blackened, raw sound as the decade-plus gap from their demo releases until now has given them the chance to finally offer it in the fullest old-school sense. Fully unleashing their massive first offering, their debut full-length was originally released April 26, 2016 on Via Nocturna.

For the most part here this one seems to dwell in the same rather typical air of the second-wave worshipping acts that are pouring out at the moment. Efforts like “Summon the Beast,” “From the Blood of the Christians” and “Des Feindes Tod” are filled with ravenous tremolo-picked riffing and plenty of tight, constrained rhythms that offer forth plenty of raw, dripping rhythms that are granted wide berths here due to their blistering tempos that are found here. That keeps these relatively speed-driven bursts of tremolo-packed cold, darkened black metal bursts and as the dominant feature here does pack enough of a punch to really generate that kind of furious rhythm sections to back the album’s more melodic quotients. The title track, “Free from the Pain of Salvation” and “Dawn of the Equinox” are much more straightforward in their structure and offer much more simplistic riff-work and less frenetic patterns as the stylish melodies are thrown into the fiery, cold rhythms and they’re quite enjoyable as a result, but manage to highlight the first minor flaw to this one. The album is so simplistic in its delivery anyway that it manages to highlight these sections as quite problematic anyway that it really does seem to just offer up more of the same in terms of being a tremolo-blasting throwback with quite wonky rhythm changes. This has a habit of simply switching on a dime into rather dynamic variations within the tracks almost without any kind of warning or build-up, and the result doesn’t mesh with their intentions of blazing along these well-tread patterns. A much cleaner series of change-overs would’ve made for more dynamic material here rather than the straightforward, simplistic manner done here, which also applies to the massive eleven-plus minute epic that feels its weight quite often throughout it’s running time. Otherwise, this one wasn’t that bad.

With some stronger writing, which is a possible recurrence that can come with experience since this is still considered a debut release regardless of the bands’ longevity, this could become quite a fun genre offering that will still have quite a lot of appeal to fans of raw, cold-style old-school black metal or the second-wave worshippers that fall in line with the bands’ stance as well. 8/10

Written by Don Anelli

Bloody Blasphemy Official Website
Bloody Blasphemy Facebook