Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Dying Bride - Evinta (2011)

Full of dark atmospheric energy, My Dying Bride is back again with another magnificent album, entitled "Evinta." The album has been slowly worked on for over 15 years as the band has placed together smaller ideas, little by little, and over time, have come up with this glorious masterpiece. With songs averaging out to be over ten minutes longs, clearly there is a lot that this album has to offer.

Sounding almost like a score written for a movie, the opening track, "In Your Dark Pavilion," hurls you into a world of dark beauty that is only described by the unique orchestrated instruments. The music guides you through endless dark and light emotion as scales fly from minor to major and back in this ten minute masterpiece. Soothing operatic vocals pull you into the center of the song, as you are surrounded by extraordinary stringed instruments. You will also come across a few spoken words from an eerie male voice in the middle and singing lyrics mixed in towards the end that are layered with operatic female vocals. It's amazing to hear the piano go from dark and gloomy to ravishing and beautiful, all within minutes of each other. Meanwhile, there are horns and light organs that back up the violins. So many instruments are incorporated into such an amazing, well written song.

"You Are Not The One Who Loves Me" is screaming with passion as you will feel the sound waves of the piano run through your veins. Gorgeous strings and violins soar high above the dominating keys. The dark, depressive lyrics, spoken without a melody, place you in a calm and mellow state of mind. "Of Lilies Bent With Tears" Also opens with the piano. However, this time it is played gently as it is accompanied by Aaron Stainthorpe, the lead singer, and his emotional, clean vocals.

Another song you don't want to miss is "The Distance, Busy With Shadows." It contains some impressive piano work throughout the middle of the song. Layers of strings fill in the background, giving it a warm feel. The band even included some flute parts that flow in between the piano notes. "Vanite Triomphante" shows off a more operatic side of the album, as female vocals echo along side the piano and violin. Strings later accompany her voice as she is then followed by clean singing from Stainthorpe. You also see these vocal patterns in "That Dress And Summer Skin" and "And Then You Go."

My Dying Bride is definitely one of those bands who manage to impress you, time and time again. Of course, with the help of having over 15 years to put this album together, this is some of their best work ever. For those of you who are familiar with the band, prepare for another epic, sensational record. And for those of you who are unfamiliar with them, check out some amazing doom metal like you've never heard it before.


Official Site - http://www.mydyingbride.org/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/officialmydyingbride
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Monday, May 30, 2011

MaYan - Quarterpast (2011)

MaYan, the brainchild of former After Forever and current Epica guitarist/vocalist Mark Jansen, is ready to take the world by storm. The band manages to combine the headbanging death metal style with endless symphonic arrangements. To further the experience as perhaps the only "symphonic death metal opera" outfit, they enlisted a veritable "who's who" of female vocalists. Floor Jansen of Revamp (and formerly After Forever), Simone Simons of Epica and Italian Opera powerhouse Laura Macri all lend their talents to this epic offering.

When a tracklist begins with "Symphony Of Aggression," you have a good idea of what you are in for. High speed drumming, distorted guitar chords and chaotic keys kick things off. The first harsh growls emerge, in true death metal style. But the lyrical content is not lost in the violent delivery. Symphonic bursts pad things out, tying all of the brutal pieces together. Things calm down, and whispered words give way to beautiful female vocals. But before long, the assault begins anew, with black metal screeching sharing time with operatic vocals and deafening roars.

"Mainstay Of Society" is the embodiment of the "death metal opera" term, with characters delivering their lines over the backing of the heaviest orchestra pit ever created. Winding guitars compliment the symphonic leads. The presence of distorted chugging keeps the track moving, and leaves the perfect canvas for over the top vocals. But Jansen's grunts and screams are the star. "Quarterpast" provides a short respite of orchestration before returning to the beating in "Course Of Life." The bass lines prop up the guitars, while clean vocals take turns with screams of fury. Double kicks are ever present, almost taking the tracks to a blackened place, especially when combined with the heavy shredding. A somber bridge section is a mood setter, before being dashed to bits with hellish vocal passages.

"The Savage Massacre" is just that, pummeling you with every passing drums fill and guitar sweep. It is an all out assault on your ears, with only slivers of light breaking through the dark clouds. The second interlude will leave you breathless, as "Essenza de Ti" recalls memories of lost love. All of the emotion of that moments disappears quickly in a fury of guitar scales, in the surprisingly melodic and poignant "Bite The Bullet." Male and female vocals highlight one another, with a powerful message of transparency. Growls are dished out, with enchanting female vocal scales flowing in the background. "Drown The Demon" begins in a dark place, with the low end taking the lead. Uptempo chugging crashes head on into the growls of Jansen. Dual operatic vocals take over, as the symphony builds to a fever pitch.

"Celibate Aphrodite" is a headbangers delight, with stomping verses and winding choruses. The band manages flawlessly cut away from the heavy, directly into the sublime, and back again without it feeling forced. "War On Terror" starts as a demented waltz, before descending into darkness and death. The symphony takes the lead, providing direct support to the hoarse, low register screams. With every drum fill, you will find yourself admiring the precision and timing. The outro, in the form of the track "Tithe" is little more than piano and sound effects, with a soft whisper darting in and out.

There is little more one can say about this listening experience. The attention to detail is astonishing, and the writing speaks for itself. If you have grown tired of the stereotypical female vocals, and you yearn for something both brutally heavy and existential, then this is a call to arms. If you feel the earth begin to quake, and think the sky is falling, it isn't the end of the world. Just lower the volume a notch. Nah, fuck it. Turn it up.


Official Site - http://www.mayanofficial.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/mayanofficial
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 7 (Look out for Big Brother)

On this installment, we introduce you to Hinsidig, Nox Aurea and Nimbatus. And while some labels are in it for the fans, others just try to get every last penny. How do these labels affect the development of a band? With the industry in the current state of disarray, how is it possible for labels to stay viable, without exploiting the people who buy the product? Who sets up these ridiculous tours... and why? Murmaider and Hell22 try to sort this out.

Part 1 - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=C4ADWLBF

Part 2 - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=TH6P2SWT

As always, be sure to leave us some comments. We want to know what you think of labels and their marketing tactics.
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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sirenia - Nine Destinies And A Downfall (2007)

Knowing Norway for its blackened dark side, keep in mind that they also have a lighter, more symphonic side to them as well. From Stavanger, Norway comes the epic 3 peice, Sirenia, with an earlier album entitled "Nine Destinies And A Downfall." This record, although its from 2007, may be one of their best albums that they have ever released in their career. The melodic voice of Monika Pederson will sooth you while the harsh growling from their guitarist, Morten Veland, will terrify you at the same time.

The album fades in with "The Last Call" which has massive amounts of blaring guitars and harmonizing orchestrated strings. The very first verse will take your breath away, as the vocals carry you to another world. You will hear a choir in the background after the refrains that really give it that symphonic feel. This choir is used a lot through out the album as you will notice in songs like "The Other Side" and "Glades Of Summer." Guitars keep things heavy in this opening track, as deafening chords chug away between verses. The bridge contains clean layered male and female vocals that sing back and forth to each other creating a beautiful atmosphere for the listener.

"My Minds Eye" was the big single that was used to help promote the album, and it definitely deserved to be with all of its catchy hooks and gorgeous verses. A radio edit version comes with the enhanced version of the album as a bonus track, so make sure you check that out as well. The song "One By One" is another track with enjoyable refrains and melodic instrumentation. These are definitely a couple of songs that will have you hitting the replay button immediately afterwards.

The album gets heavier and faster with track 4, entitled "Sundown." Rapid cymbals are crashing everywhere, while aggressive guitar riffs fly through the air. The verses are slower but are followed with monstrous growling and quick double bass pedaling. The structure of the song is very impressive, as it constantly gains speed, yet falls back to a slower tempo without even noticing. And if you're looking for more action packed songs with strong guitars and heavier growling, then make sure to check out the song "Seven Keys And Nine Doors" as well.

"Absent Without Leave" recaptures the gothic sound as the ravishing vocals will immediately hypnotize you. This is another one of those songs with a solid, memorable chorus and epic symphonic instrumentation that surrounds it. The lyrics are also deep in meaning and are performed with tremendous emotion.

Overall, "Nine Destinies And A Downfall" is a well structured album and has tons of different orchestrated sounds and unique instruments incorporated. Pedersons voice is what really made this album complete. Unfortunately, Pederson is no longer with Sirenia. However, their present lead vocalist is Ailyin, who has contributed to their newest album "The Enigma Of Life." Keep an eye out for this band and see where they go with their new line up.


Official Site - http://www.mortenveland.com/sirenia/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/sirenia
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Nimbatus - Cyclus Three (2011)

The vigorous Nimbatus is back with another intense album, entitled "Cyclus Three." This is actually a one man band from Germany. Every song was written, produced, mixed, and mastered by Nimbatus. Once you hear the album, the quality is, without a doubt, very impressive and very clear.The album leans toward a gothic doom feel, but there are no vocals. It is all instrumental, with the exception of one track which has a couple spoken lyrics.

Jumping into the first track, "Numb Celebration," it immediately shows progressive signs. It has a slower tempo and heavy chugging guitars with smashing cymbals and rampant drumming. "Letter Of A Shifted Dream" is packed with massive amounts of double bass pedaling. Also there are some marvelous guitar work included, it's no wonder why they don't have vocals. Singing isn't even needed when you have guitars that speak to you in such an angelic way. You'll find similar guitar work in songs such as "Fractured Vision" and "A Pale Light."

"Into The Void" starts out with a little more of a hard rock type of style. This is the song, as mentioned, that has actual lyrics in it. A female voice enters about half way through speaking dark and gloomy words. Then guitars drop back in along with more heavy rapid kicks and snares. A wicked solo follows into the bridge. They also incorporate soft strings in the background giving an epic feel. A beautiful piano riff enters towards the last minute of the song that will take your breath away. A guitar solo joins the piano in the last 30 seconds, it then fades with the female voice under heavy reverb effects. An "Intermission" follows in the next track. This incorporates soft piano and guitar notes played together creating a gorgeous atmosphere.

"The Morning Rise" contains powerful demonic chords, falling into a "chugging" pattern that immediately inhales you, taking over your mind and body. Get ready for some heavy head bobbing and fist pumping action. Cymbals are flying everywhere while the double bass controls the heart beat of the song. The song gets quiet for about 30 seconds with strings and guitars. However, you are then met with an avalanche of guitar riffs just waiting to crush you. "The Master's Decease" is another track that greets you with violent guitar riffs, yet gently cradles you with soft melodic notes and soothing reverberated effects that leave you feeling like you're drifting in a pool of nothingness. This doesn't last long as guitars enter and rudely awaken you, with dark, devilish amounts of power. Not to mention the incredible kicks and bass notes that surround it.

Track 8, "The Long Way Up" entails some eerie strings combined with mysterious piano notes. This is another one of those songs where the instruments serve as more than just the melody and rhythm of the music. They really jump out and communicate with the listener as if they were the lead vocals.

After listening to the album a couple of times, you will definitely see the similar structures by bands like Opeth, Porcupine Tree, and Katatonia. The instrumentation isn't quite unique, however the album still stands by itself and is able to create imagery that's different than some of these other bands. "Cyclus Three" is definitely an album with lots to offer, so make sure you check it out. You won't be disappointed!


Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/nimbatusmusic
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Amorphis - The Beginning Of Times (2011)

Amorphis is a band that is aptly named. Derived from 'amorphous,' which means without determinate form, or shapeless, this Finnish six piece always keeps you guessing. From one album to the next, you never truly know what you will get, which is both refreshing and unnerving. As they unveil "The Beginning Of Times," their twelfth disc in a career spanning almost 20 years, we wonder which Amorphis will emerge.

The familiar sound of delicate piano keys greets you, as "Battle For Light" begins. Clean, almost melancholic crooning alternates with the signature raspy growls that have made Amorphis such a force to be reckoned with. Guitars manage to walk the fine line between upbeat, jaunty melodies and heavy, chugging riffs. All six members move in lockstep, adding layer after layer to the mix. The breakdown section comes crashing down, backed by creepy keyboards. The track ends like the encore of a concert, leaving room for applause.

Haunting female chants ring out to start "Mermaid," which features a punchy guitar lead. The song builds to a stomp, with drums keeping everyone in time with fill after roll. The vocals remain softer, delivering excellent storytelling. "My Enemy" has a guitar hook that only Amorphis could execute, but don't let the intro fool you. Growls enter the verse, and the guitars crush you in ways that hardcore bands only dream of. They manage to work in beautiful melodies, but this is the heavy hitting, powerful band that many felt was missing from their previous album, "Skyforger." The first single of the album, "You I Need," boasts a spacey keyboard tone and melodic sensibilities. This is a metal love song, straight and true.

The tempo sees a jump on "Song Of The Sage," layering vocal track on top of vocal track, creating a haunting echo effect. A folky interlude catches you off guard, with flutes and strings lightening the mood. This all paves the way for a well placed guitar solo. The keyboard leads us to the end, before the chugging mastery of "Three Words" kicks in. Drums and guitars pound you, while a second guitar provides the lead. The song is as diverse as any you will hear, cutting to acoustics and soft crooning. The chorus is powerful, while the breakdown is gritty. Beautiful contrast.

Keyboards lead the way into "Reformation" and melodies aplenty. Double kicks and a whining guitar take "Soothsayer" to another realm, paired with those earth shaking growls. The start/stop style allows the clean vocals to shine through when needed. Keyboard and guitar play a dueling lead at times, sharing the stage with both male and female vocals. "On A Stranded Shore" is a track that combines everything good about Amorphis and their style. Layer upon layer of instrumentation. Distorted guitars, strings, keys, pounding drums and the beautifully delivered soft vocals form something that is as impressive as it is powerful.

The album ends with a trio of tracks that will renew and reinvigorate your respect for this Finnish progressive onslaught. "Escape" is the beauty. "Crack In The Stone" is the beast. Both are necessary to highlight the other. The title track takes us home, complete with a bass line that of the highest order. Double kicks share time with sizzling cymbals, airy keys and melodic guitar riffs. It is as if the vocals convey the feeling of a storyteller, closing his book for the evening.

"The Beginning Of Times" is a rebirth for Amorphis, one that comes at a time where the band simply has nothing left to prove. After a long, successful run, they could simply rest on their laurels. But they choose to come back with something energetic and inspiring. This speaks for not only the talent, but the commitment to excellence this group possesses. So, after a nut job predicted the end of times were upon us, we can now move forward, and celebrate the beginning.


Official Site - http://www.amorphis.net/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/amorphis
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hinsidig - I en Tidløs Høst (2010)

Don't let the wretched recording scare you away from this one. Hinsidig, an atmospheric black metal band from Tyskland, Norway, is another one of those band that can really pull off the unclear, nonprofessional recording. They prove this in their new album, "I en Tidløs Høst," which is full of passionate melodic guitars, explosive drumming, and throat choking vocals.

"Syndflod," track two, is a ten minute masterpiece that metal fans are always looking forward to. The guitars fill the air with darkness and beauty. Certain parts of the song are so demonic and evil while other parts offer gorgeous guitar riffs. The growling vocals stay aggressive and echo loudly throughout the track. There is even a part where they layer the growling with soft, clean, angelic vocals. This adds a darkened, beautiful side to the song. You will definitely want to listen to this one all the way through.

Track three, "Livets Sløs," opens with epic guitar riffs, again adding much beauty to the album but in an evil way. The vocals quickly capture you with their haunting growls. Also pay close attention to the drumming as you'll find that the fills behind the verses are consuming and very impressive.

"Broderskapets Ring" offers some interesting piano parts and also has some clean spoken words that add variety to the album, as the vocals leave a ghostly feel to the mix. There is also lots of ravishing strings within the bridge that give light to the dark. "Dauding" is another song with multiple similarities. More clean vocals are added only this time they are in a more melodic order. They also incorporate some raw, poisonous growling which play well to the clean vocals. Repeated guitar riffs make this so catchy and irresistible. The song is fast and full of energy which you'll notice is a lot different then what they have played in the first few tracks. This is one of those songs that you will be rocking your head to.

"Gudsforlatt" is nothing short of well written depressive, atmospheric black metal at its best. Ravishing guitars mixed with demonic riffs create a magnificent image of good and evil. So much emotion is given off during the refrain, as the violent strength of the vocals fall gently over the alluring guitars and heavy bass lines. What adds even more greatness to this song is that you get to enjoy it for over 8 and a half minutes straight.

Seeing that most of the songs average to about 7 minutes long, you can really take the time to understand the band and feel what they felt when they were writing and recording the album. So many changes throughout "I en Tidløs Høst" offer the listener so much, that it's almost overwhelming to take it all in at once. It's good to see that new bands are still able to produce amazing and yet unique music.


Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/hinsidig
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Death Angel - Relentless Retribution (2010)

Thrash, thrash, thrash! This is what the Filipino-American metal band Death Angel is all about. Coming out of Concord, California, the band has released their sixth studio album, entitled "Relentless Restribution." The album is full of high flying guitars and speedy tempos. Most of the music was written by their guitarist, Rob Cavestany, although he shared the lyrical writings with the lead singer, Mark Osegueda. Together they have managed to come up with another impressive thrash album for all to enjoy.

They start things off with the song "Relentless Revolution," which is packed with powerful guitar riffs and killer drum fills. The double bass drumming in this track will completely destroy you as you are hit with a wall of kicks and snares layered with violent cymbals crashing left to right. The vocals contain some amazing clean singing that present aggression and powerful words. Lyrics like "Relentless revolution, join us or step aside" show strong feeling and solid leadership within the bands music.

"Claws In So Deep" is the second track on the album and runs for about 7 minutes and 45 seconds. The chorus is clean and catchy while the verses hold a more violent and reckless sound to them. Heavy chugging guitars follow after the verses leaving you rocking your head constantly. The refrain contains expeditious guitar chords while the drumming is also rapid, as snares are thrown at you repeatedly. About half way through the song is a breathtaking guitar solo that will rip your head off! Five minutes into the song, the structure changes and the drums fade out. Soothing guitars take over the silence as beautiful melodic notes surround the quiet atmosphere.

They speed things up again with "Truce." The song contains tons of melodic changes throughout which really keeps you hooked. The guitar solos played in this track are godly, and yet they make it sound so easy. The only issue with this song is that its only 3 and a half minutes long. However, you are immediately greeted with the vicious guitars from "Into The Arms Of Righteous Anger." This song will have you pumping your fist non stop, while the bass lines and drum patterns take you to a whole different world of sound. This song definitely requires a mosh pit and at least 15 other people.

The guitars in "River Of Rapture" will completely beat the shit out of your ear drums with rapid minor chords and insane speed in guitar picking. The deafening solos will consume you as the guitars throw screechy harsh notes from all directions. "Death Of The Meek" is another song with monstrous guitars that will shatter your skull to pieces. Even "I Chose The Sky" contain layers and layers of distorted guitars that are both compelling and influential. The solo in this track is fast but at the same time dark and ominous. The drum fills are ridiculous as they continue to pound at you and give you no time to rest.

The mighty Death Angel has really out done themselves with "Relentless Retribution," as they showed their constant speed and aggression combined with their wicked vocals and dominant lyrics. The album offers everything and more when it comes to the violent genre of thrash metal. This is definitely an inspiring and exhilarating album you won't want to skip out on.


Official Site - http://deathangel.us/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/deathangel
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Nox Aurea - Ascending In Triumph (2010)

With their recent signing to Napalm Records, Sweden's Nox Aurea have positioned themselves to be a force in their genre. With a sound that will certainly appeal to fans of Draconian, Swallow The Sun, Barren Earth and Helevorn, they take the tools of the trade, and put them to good use. This isn't your grandmother's same old doom. Then again, if your grandmother listens to doom, I certainly wouldn't argue with her.

From the first note, you are treading in familiar waters. The first and title track, "Ascending In Triumph," begins with that deep, booming kick drum that has become a signature of the death/doom genre. Guitars and drums are slow and deliberate at the onset, hitting their stride with a well placed section of chugging and double kicks. Vocally, the band diverge from the norm, with growls that touch on, but don't always sink into, the low register.

A soft layer of strings carries you into "The Loss And Endeavour Of Divinity." The first earth shattering growl shakes the track, and the sets the pace. But fear not, things are about to take a turn for the heavy. A violent attack of drums and guitars catches you off guard, paired with a glorious female vocal passage. A wonderful contrast is formed, setting off a flurry of activity from all sides. "The Shadowless Plains" provides a headbanging experience you won't soon forget. Those double kicks keep coming, sometimes at speeds that rival the guitar work. The only reprieve is a short interlude of soft, angelic vocals. Otherwise, you are treated to a full speed ahead slaughter. The growls gain strength, and may elicit a chill.

Don't let the string and acoustic guitar intro to "Mother Aletheia: Chapter II" fool you. The peacefulness is short lived. The booming kicks return to put this one in gear. A particularly aggressive midsection finds guitars, drums and bass crashing down at every available moment. A woman's voice chimes in, slowing the track. Guitars begin to crunch. Drums continue to crash. Yet somehow in the midst of this, there is still a melody to be had. "The Delight Of Autumn Passion" could be mistaken for a Draconian song, combining all of the familiar elements of the genre into a track that is unrelenting in its assault. Even with a female singer layering vocals on top of it all, the track never ceases to punish you.

The dark, violin tinged "My Voyage Through Galactic Aeons" features a kick drum barrage that would be right at home on a speed metal album, while "To The Grave I Belong" is a thunderous collaboration of all things heard thus far. The surprise of the album comes at it's climax, with the piano instrumental "Emendare." A beautiful piece, soft and delicate, tying things up in the proverbial bow. It serves as the perfect ending to a bloody journey.

Much like other bands that fall under this umbrella we continue to refer to as "death/doom," Nox Aurea continue to take the formulaic style and tweak it slightly. It speaks to the genre as a whole, and the ability of these bands to take the basic instruments and get them in sync with each other, forming something larger than any of the parts. No gimmicks. Straightforward and powerful in simplicity.


Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/noxaurea
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 6 (Darwin's Theory)

You may have been missing out on Skogen and Dammerfarben before, but we make sure you won't let that happen again. Chester takes the week off, so we discuss the evolution of bands, for better or worse. When a band changes their sound to fit the landscape of the industry, is that good, bad, or neither? Do you have to stay the same, musically, throughout your career? Is it really "selling out" if you evolve and grow?

Part 1 - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=KJFC16PC

Part 2 - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=SYRO7PST

Has one of your favorite bands made a dramatic change in their sound? How did that turn out? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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Arkan: The Interview

What inspired this album, lyrically and musically?

Musically speaking, we started with the premise of "Burning Flesh" then "Hilal" and "Salam" is the logical next step. Our only goal was to incorporate in a more pronounced way our oriental influences. So, "Salam" continues the direction initiated by "Hilal".

This album is more melodic and a more prominent part was given to oriental moods and harmonies. We worked on the insertion of the oriental parts within metal compositions. We really wanted that a mysterious alchemy was created leaving in questions the oriental or metal musical aspect of each part. Arkan was never intended to do two identical albums / EP. The compositions of our releases are different but follow the same connecting thread.

Concerning the lyrics, we were inspired by events around us, the geopolitical conflicts and misunderstanding between peoples who are yet supposed to be brothers. Specifically, “Salam” relates timeless and universal fears and resentments of two peoples with two different religions which coexist in the same area. Everyone feels its hatred gradually rised inside them and that the point of no return has been crossed. Cause of intellectual manipulation and propaganda, both peoples decide to make war but, exhausted by it, people are increasingly distancing themselves from their instincts of hatred. Having committed all these massacres, and cohabitation seeming the only possible way, they decided to turn their eyes towards the others. Our tour with Orphaned Land under the « Tour Against Racism » have confirmed our choice of theme of Salam.

What is the metal scene like in France? Did geography have any influence on your style?

For years, the French metal scene has suffered from a bad impression. Fortunately, things are slowly changing. I think we have some very good bands in France whose technical level is comparable to Scandinavian and U.S. Bands. Bands like Gojira or Dagoba are currently restoring the reputation of French metal scene.

I think also that the French public is looking for some musical originality and wants more cultural innovation. The mixture of cultures in the West favors this openness. Metal fans are becoming more curious and want, particularly via the Internet, new musical experience. Arkan is trying to meet this need and offering an original music.

Generally speaking, we would like to create a bridge between people from different musical and cultural backgrounds. We are facing this diversity of cultures in our everyday lives. Out of our music we create a rallying point that is representing what we stand for.

Arkan's members also reflects this culture mix. I was born in Paris, but because of my parents I have Moroccan roots. Abder, Mus and Samir were all born in Algeria and finally there is Florent, who was born in France as well and is of Italian and Greek origins. Although Florent is the only non-North African, he grew up with friends from Maghreb; so this kind of music was not new for him. The proposal was made to each musician to use the music of the countries of our descent to delight everyone, despite the fact that we are die hard fans of metal. This mixture was fairly new for a French band and our desire to tap into the cultures of our origins was naturally linked with our desire for a revival of this country's metal scene. So, I think it's a non-sense to assimilate Arkan with an unique nationality.

Your style is so varied and eclectic. How did you come to that marriage of sounds?

The idea to combine metal and oriental music in this project goes back a long way and even pre-dates the time when I joined The Old Dead Tree. I have always wanted to combine my cultural origins with the music I am most fond of.

Except a small number of bands, oriental music was not represented in the European Metal scene. I thought this project might bring a new breath in trying to mix two very different styles: oriental music including chaabi which is the musical style the most popular in Maghreb and a powerful metal with growls and hard riffs.
It is difficult to find good musicians to form a metal band but it’s even more difficult to find great musicians playing both metal and North African music. My inclusion in The Old Dead Tree helped me to build my experience in a professional band and create a social network in this scene.

In 2005, Mus and Samir, former members of an Algerian death metal band named Worth, and Florent, a former member of Whisper-X, joined me with the same desire to try something new.

Do you have plans on touring in America?

Unfortunately not yet! Even if we had the opportunity to do gigs abroad, for now we primarily focus ourselves on French territory.

However, our albums are distributed all over the world and we start to be solicited for playing in foreign countries. We have already played in Holland, Tunisia and Switzerland with bands as prestigious as Septicflesh and Orphaned Land.

We're booking an European tour scheduled for the last quarter of 2011 and several dates following the release of Salam begin to be planed.

Do you have any bands (big or small) that you would want to tour with?

At this time, we made two French and European tours with the two bands mentioned above for which we have a big respect. It was a very rewarding experience musicaly and humanly speaking. We had the opportunity to work with people passionate by their art. The atmosphere of harmony and mutual respect between these bands and us has generated a lot of good times and the worst of its was the time of the separation.

There is a lot of bands we would like to tour with like Behemoth, Opeth or Anathema. But we must not forget that the most important thing during a tour is the contact with our fans and the emotions shared with the public and this situation doesn't only depends on the band you tour with.

What are your thoughts on the downloading of music? Do you see it as a problem, or is it helping to spread great music across the world?

It's a very complex problematic. I think the situation is different depending on the notoriety of the band.
It's true that a little band which wants to become known needs to spread its music in particular via Internet. In this case, this media is a fantastic vehicle for broadcasting the composition of a young band.

Conversely, downloads of very famous artists' songs does not shock me. The biggest music major companies which own copyrights on these songs have collected a lot of money. So, the downloading of this tracks doesn't jeopardize the economic health of the musical industry. Morever, we must have in mind that of lot of this famous songs has just been downloaded for fun and the downloaders would never buy this albums.

However, the situation is more critical for bands which begin to be well-known but doesn't succeed to generate sufficient money to live through their art. For them, the impact of downloading is very harmful. Musicians which succeeded to modestly live through their art before the expansion of downloading must now seaching a job in order to live.

I don't want to be too sanctimonious but I think that this situation is sad and is not beneficial for the musical diversity.

What does the future hold for Arkan?

Regarding "Salam”, I think I can say that the hardest part is behind us.

So, we are working on upcoming gigs and in particular on a gig on headlining in Paris. The changes in the performance of our new album due to the departure of Abder require an adjustment period in order to give our best on stage.

Several dates following the release of “Salam” are being booked and we're going to plan an European tour scheduled for the end of 2011.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Iced Earth - The Crucible of Man (2008)

In 2008, epic power metal band Iced Earth released their newest album entitled "The Crucible of Man." This completed the magnificent trilogy of the "Something Wicked Saga." "Framing Armageddon" being the second part to the saga, was released in 2007 and "Something Wicked This Way" being the first part which was released back in 1998. Make sure to read up on the lyrics to find out what happens in this epic adventure.

Following the minute and a half intro, the album starts off with blaring distorted guitars and a mix between clean singing and almost "operatic" vocals in track two, entitled "Behold The Wicked Child. Jon Schaffer and Troy Steele show off on the guitars as they chug away with aggressive melodic riffs all throughout. The lyrics in the refrain are powerful and very catchy. This is definitely a great way to start things off.

Songs like "Dimension Gauntlet" and "I Walk Alone" offer some heavier headbanging guitar riffs throughout that are very complex and catchy. Even the lyrics will have you singing along immediately when the refrains enter. Brent Smedley's drum fills are insane, and give so much heaviness to the album. "The Revealing" is another incredible song full of Smedley's brilliantly talented drumming.

It's incredible how the album is so fast and full of energy, yet they still manage to slow things down once in a while like track 5, "A Gift Or A Curse." The song consists of beautiful guitars with the perfect effects on them to give complete emotion to every note. Matt Barlow, their singer at the time, leaves soothing vocals during the beginning verses, and as the song picks up, delivers more aggressive and dominant clean singing. Everything runs together so smoothly you hardly notice the transition between the slowed tempo melodic parts and the lightening fast bursts of distorted guitars and monstrous drums and cymbals.

The album ends with a bang! The song "Come What May" has everything from soft verses with melodic vocals, to pulverizing drums and overwhelming guitars mixed with high pitch singing and extraordinary lyrics. The refrain will be stuck in your head for days with its angelic melodies. The guitar work is absolutely astonishing. This is followed by the final track, "Epilogue," which is a 2 minute and 20 second instrumental that includes orchestral strings, beautiful violins, soft guitars and Congo drums.

Iced Earth continues to impress everyone with there electrifying performance and skill in song writing and story telling. "The Crucible Of Man" stands to be one of their best albums released in years. Unfortunately, Matt Barlow is no longer their lead singer however they have managed to pick up Stu Block to replace him. Block is also the lead vocalist for the Canadian band Into Eternity. I guess we'll see where Schaffer and the guys plan to go from here.


Official Site - http://www.icedearth.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/icedearth
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Dämmerfarben - Im Abendrot (2011)

Germany's Dämmerfarben are cut from a different cloth. Started as a solo project, and developing into a full blown band, they have formed a style that separates them from the rest. For despite being classified as everything from black metal to ambient, doom to acoustic, they have managed to be all of them without favoring one.

"Wandernd," a short, string driven introduction is an appetizer for the forthcoming feast. The chirping of birds gives way to a simple, but enchanting guitar harmony. An effects tinged guitar melody breaks into distorted riffs on "Nebel und Regen," slowing to a near halt before the tempo picks up. The constant thumping of the kick drum is like a rolling thunder, clearing the way for a violin to enter the fold. The bass shines through, taking the lead. After a lengthy instrumental, black metal styled vocals cut through the air. But the ever present strings keep the song grounded, all the way to its conclusion.

The folk metal influences come out in "Graues Land," with a jaunty musical lead, uptempo and bright. Vocals enter, as abrasive as any you have heard from the Norwegian black metal masters. They will grind on your ears, but in the best possible way. A stunning acoustic outro takes up the better part of two minutes, and will leave you impressed, if not a little bewildered. The beautiful musicianship carries over to "Oktobersturm," which wastes little time before bringing out the big guns. High tempo kick/snare/cymbal drumming bcks a driving distorted guitar. Screeching and deep screams echo throughout, fading away to yet another soft outro.

"Einsamkeit" is a work of art and simplicity. The violin returns, joined by soft guitars. The delicate patter of raindrops bookends an endearing acoustic track. "Regen in der Dammerung" brings the thunder back, in both bass and drum form. The earth shaking low end provides the perfect backdrop for the entrance of synthesizers. A winding guitar melody shares time with distorted riffs, punctuated by the tortured screams. The title track, "Im Abendrot" plays out like an epic love song. Once again, violin takes the fore, allowing each piece of the puzzle to join. The wall builds, forming an all out assault of sound. The more aggressive moments of the album come here, with high speed guitar picking and strumming, slamming head on into the clang and sizzle of cymbals and snare. The song hits its high point, then is deconstructed, ending where it began.

The opening half of "Nachtgedanken" is the closest you will to come to pure black metal on this disc, with the harsh vocals taking command. But, as with all of the tracks on the album, it quickly changes. Acoustic guitars duel, playing off of one another in a beautiful battle. The hard and heavy return, only to fade away in a simple outro. Piano keys catch your ear to begin "Hinaus in die Nacht," playing a dark melody. Ringing distortion comes, but does not lead to the explosion you may expect. It is merely a background to acoustic picking. Keys and guitars unite for the finale.

There is no easy way to classify what you will hear on this offering. Well executed and, at times, atmospheric in delivery, "Im Abendrot" is a musical journey that might not be fully understood after the first listen. You, like many others, may find yourself waiting for the hammer to drop, and the shredding to begin. But the band accomplish something intriguing. They make an album with clear black metal aspirations that is more beauty than beast.


Official Site -http://www.facebook.com/pages/D%C3%A4mmerfarben/155853494442698?sk=wall
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/daemmerfarben/
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Megadeth - United Abominations (2007)

In the spirit of the "Big Four" phenomenon, as well as our review of Slayer's heavy hitting "God Hates Us All," it seems fitting to include the mad genius of Dave Mustaine. Despite the revolving door of band members, Mustaine has managed to stay relevant, churning out his last two politically charged albums to critical and commerical acclaim. On this 2007 opus, "United Abominations," Megadeth pull no punches and take no prisoners.

From the opening bass line in "Sleepwalker," you know that this is Megadeth on an entirely new level. You get everything you expect, from the pounding, bludgeoning drums to the pitch perfect guitar solos. Mustaine's vocals, often a point of contention, are top notch, delivered in his own raspy style. "Washington Is Next," the first major political statement of the album, features tangled guitars and bass, winding in and out of one another. Drumming is fast and furious, with well placed fills and rolls. There is simply no margin for error when playing behind one of the truly great guitarists of modern metal. A bold prediction of the fall of the American empire, under the watch of George W. Bush.

The aptly titled "Never Walk Alone (A Call To Arms)" follows, with a bridge and hook that will implant itself in your brain. Mustaine proclaims "I loved you when you still hated me." A whining, wailing guitar interlude leads to rewind of that hook, driving the track home. "United Abominations," the title track and masterpiece, begins with a spoken word piece, a scathing indictment of the world organization. Guitars, drums and bass come to a head, chugging ahead. There is no hiding Mustaine's opinions, as he steps onto his soapbox. A rare bit of vocal melody highlights the track, alongside the expected guitar mastery. A spoken word outro, only fitting for such a powerful track, is layered over a drum heavy breakdown.

A theme song for a video game, and yet so much more than that, "Gears Of War" chimes in. Chugging guitars and Mustaine's whispers bring your fist into the air, chanting along. Brilliant guitar work is only enjoyable when it fits into the form of a song, and Megadeth proves that time and again, using bass, drums and vocals as a launching pad for epic solos. "Blessed Are The Dead" and "Play For Blood" are traditional Megadeth tracks, giving you a taste of what the band has been doing for so long. The most talked about song on the album, the rehash of "A Tout le Monde," features Lacuna Coil's stunning Christina Scabbia. They have taken the original, given it some sparkling production values, sped things up a touch, and given Mustaine the beautiful vocals of Scabbia to balance his style. Like it or not, it is an anthem that is hard to forget.

Intentions are clear on "Amerikhastan," a track where we get speculation of a new American empire, starting with the takeover of the Middle East. "Hey, Jihad Joe, we're coming to get you," becomes the battlecry. Guitar work is at it's finest, despite being pushed to the background to deliver the message. The momentum of the album seems to fade slowly, with the angry "You're Dead" and "Burnt Ice" tacked on to the end of an otherwise stellar offering.

Far too often, people let their opinion of Dave Mustaine as a person affect their view of Megadeth, as a band. Like him or not, it is damn near impossible to deny his talent. Not only is he a great guitarist, but he is an excellent song writer and lyricist. This is not to say you have to agree with his platform. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. You are bound to find something to enjoy from Dave and his bandmates... whoever they may be at the time.


Official Site - http://www.megadeth.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/megadeth
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa (2011)


Endless touring can prove to be the defining achievement of your career. For Moonsorrow, tour after tour helped to build a loyal following of rabid fans, thirsty for more. For those people, three years was simply too long to wait for the next album to see the light of day. On Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa, the ninth release by this Finnish epic metal ensemble, every day spent waiting is rewarded.

Pounding drums and lingering distortion cut through the air, as "Tahdeton" comes to life. There is no shortage of fuel on this fire, as the band weave their way through eleven minutes of signature changes and countless arrangements. The vocals carve out a niche, falling somewhere between the typical black metal harshness, and screaming. Viking chants find a home, as do plentiful keyboard melodies. Guitar harmonics whine over the top, with no shortage of power. "Havitetty," a short interlude, brings visions of a wounded run through a snowy forest, breathing heavy.

Catch your breath when the opportunity arises, because "Muinaiset" will immediately knock the wind from your lungs. The drums are like thunder from the heavens, leading the way for a tremendous bass line. Keyboards and guitars are in sync at first, before the guitars break away in fast strumming flurries. Double bass kicks lay the bricks of foundation for the signature vocal stylings. The harshest of screams fill the track, interrupted only by instrumental breakdowns.The outro portion will have your first in the air, chanting along.

Your journey through the snow and cold continues on "Nälkä, Väsymys Ja Epätoivo," before the full on assault of "Huuto" comes crashing down upon you. The most powerful track the band have done to date, it is as well rounded as the band itself. The drums are dynamic, as always, with each kick/snare combo complimenting each cymbal sizzle. Keyboards and synths are highlightedat , taking over the melody. This allows the guitars to play backup, creating an atmospheric feel. The deeper growls emerge, seemingly from nowhere. An acoustic guitar pads out the layers, mixed with utmost perfection into the heavy structure.

Breathing gets heavier now, with "Kuolleille" taking you to the end of your path. Dropping to your knees, you let our an ear shattering scream. And "Kuolleiden Maa" begins. This is Moonsorrow at their epic best. The bass melodies will surprise you, while the double bass beatdown batters you. Once again, keyboards are the backbone of the track, clearing a path for crunchy guitars and startling vocals. The chanting found midway will bring a chill. The song breaks down, drums pounding away, the high pitch whine of a guitar feeding back. Until, finally, silence.

One tour after another, Moonsorrow reassert themselves in our consciousness. With this album, they have brought the energy and relentless attack of their live show into the studio, and managed to capture it on a disc. Each second of the seven track, hour long opus is well planned, well intentioned and well executed. The term "folk metal" simply does not do this justice. Epic heathen metal has a nice ring to it.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Slayer - God Hates Us All (2001)

Slayer, the infamous thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California, has released one of the most influential yet controversial albums ever in their whole career. I am talking of course, of their 2001 album, entitled "God Hates Us All." The title alone defines that album down to a tee as it screams anger, hatred, and rage. The original album artwork was suppose to be a picture of a bible covered in blood with "Slayer" burnt across the front of it.

The lyrics play a huge roll in the album as they entail the idea of murder, revenge, death, and anti-religious themes. The first song on the album, following the short introduction track, is entitled "Disciple" and contains plenty of these descriptions. The lyrics "God Hates Us All" is shouted all throughout the refrain by the singer, Tom Araya, and will remain stuck in your head for days as I'm sure you'll be replaying this song often. The guitar work is violently heavy with massive distortion on every riff. There is a solo that enters half way through the song that is fast and explosive as detailed notes clash together rapidly. This is an incredible opener for the album.

"God Send Death" is one of the only songs on the album that consists of the violent screaming that you're already used to, mixed with some clean singing in a demonic tone. The melody is catchy, with lyrics that are full of violence and destruction as it relates to disturbing images of death. Track 7, "Exile," is another great song containing lyrics like "Get out of my face, get out of my life," and "I just want you to die." The song has layers and layer of brutal guitar riffs, insane drum fills and double bass pedaling. The structure of the song switches constantly between bloodthirsty verses, complex solos and dominating break downs, which keep your ears glued to the speakers from start to finish.

The song "Seven Faces" starts off dark and mysterious as the drums enter and the guitars drop. Araya releases a wicked, death-like scream that will make you cream your pants and will haunt your unborn children years before they are even born. Demonic guitar riffs chug away as the snare and cymbals are thrown in your face. This song will definitely make you want to pump your fist. Another aggressive headbanger is track 12, "Here Comes The Pain." It's full of deafening guitars blaring angry devilish chords. Rapid double bass action will absolutely blow you away while drum fills within the break down will pull you with detail timing and structure.

Slayer has shown their overwhelming talent time and time again. "God Hates Us All" is a bone crushing, skull smashing masterpiece that will echo in the heads of millions. If there is one Slayer album you wouldn't want to miss, it's this one. Enjoy the raining of vicious guitar riffs and fierce solos combined with elaborate drumming and intense vocals throughout. You will bob your head from start to finish. I guarantee it!


Official Site - http://www.slayer.net/us/home
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/slayer
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Skogen - Svitjod (2011)

Skogen is one of Sweden's newest black metal bands to hit the stage with their newly released album entitled "Svitjod." The album consist of ghostly melodic riffs, frightening vocals, and overwhelming drumming. The atmospherically raw recording sets up ghoulish imagery and ambient surroundings.

The first track, entitled "Dighra Dodh," opens with evil screeching guitars and monstrous vocals that will capture your ear immediately. The vocals are grim and full of black metal undertone. "Haxsabbet (Crimen Laesae Divinae Majestatis)" follows with soothing guitar riffs and eerie strings. They are mixed with violent drumming that will have you relaxed, yet hyper at the same time. The guitar work is truly remarkable, as they fill the song with an emotional vision of darkness. Also the drum fills after the verses are full of quick detail and really build excitement and energy as the song continues.

Harsh growling combined with demonic guitar melodies blast throught the 7 minute masterpiece entitled "Midnattens Gilmrande Stillhet." Be prepared to thrash your head to the drumming, as the double bass pedal action takes complete control over your mind. Halfway through the song enters haunting chanting vocals between the verses that present a similar sound to that of the Norwegian symphonic black metal outfitters Dimmu Borgir. The song structure is absolutely magnificent as the tempo changes back and forth. The opportunity for rest is minimal in the epic performance.

The album slows down with the epic "Vinterriket," which runs for over 11 minutes. The instrumentation is astounding as they incorporate ominous synthesizers, heavy guitars chugging dark minor chords, and gorgeous melodic acoustic notes all in one. Even the vocals switch between deep monstrous growling to calm depressive clean singing. A beautiful acoustic guitar solo enters about 4 and a half minutes in. This is filled with both melancholy emotion and an angelic feel. "Storm" is another similar epic beauty that definitely deserves some attention. The tempo stays slow and dark, but contains tons of distorted screechy guitars and more incredible vocal power throughout.

Things pick up speed with the electrifying "Blodornshamnd." Blaring guitar rifts come flying at you carrying dark melodic tones. Wrecking cymbals sour over the rapid double bass predal drumming while devilish sounds consume the atmosphere. This is definitely a "must hear" song you will not want to skip!

The album is well balanced with terrific structure and terrifying vocals. "Svitjod" definitely has the potential to set Skogen apart from other black metal bands. Although they are still fairly new, this is a great step in the right direction.


Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/skogensweden
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 5 (Double Trouble)

This episode is our favorite so far. We give you a heads up on Arafel, Cathis Ord and Moonsorrow. But then, the conversation begins. Why does it seem like bands don't get the huge following they did 10 and 20 years ago? Is the saturation of every sub genre hurting each and every band? Is this all just another sign of the collapse of the music industry?

Side note: There was a verbal typo in part one. The violin player from Arafel is from Germany, not the guitarist. Said it right the first time, wrong the second time.

Part 1 - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=4O4NVYO1

Part 2 - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=C65I368E

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dethklok - The Dethalbum II (2009)

After the staggering success of first offering, The Dethalbum, it was only a matter of time before Metalocalypse creator Brendan Small returned to the studio for a second session of brutality. Two years later, he has returned, but something is different this time around. The laughs are still present, but this is not the same Dethklok. This is the album we, as metal fans, had been waiting for.

Instantly, you can hear a much more crisp production on "Bloodlines." Tribal drumming leads into shredding guitars. Nathan Explosion's deep, coarse screams are more powerful than ever. An intermediate breakdown leads into a blood curdling, high intensity scream, never heard before on a Dethklok track. Gene Hoglan is once again behind the drum kit, showing us in every way why he has been dubbed "The Machine."The next track, "The Gears," is a call to arms for all Dethklok fans. You are told that "you're here because/you're one of us." And this could not be more true. Intertwined guitar scales, dipping in and out of Hoglan's uncanny speed and precision are a deadly combination.

The starting gallop of "Burn The Earth" is an instant headbanging classic. Lyrically dark and yet somehow amusing, Explosion plows through the song with gritty interjections; "Pour the gas, light the match, burn." The guitar work of Brendan Small is at its best, one blazing solo after another. "Laser Cannon Deth Sentence" takes no prisoners (literally), pressing forward with just a hint of keyboard fueled brutality. The music has evolved, beyond the jokes and the tongue-in-cheek humor.

"Black Fire Upon Us," the song from the season 2 finale, has been hashed out into a six minute masterpiece. While it comes in as one of the slower songs on the record, make no mistake about it. This is Dethklok at its best. From the growling vocals, to the deliberate chugging guitars, everything we have come to expect from Small is present here, and so much more. "Dethsupport" brings the tempo back up, shredding through a 2 and half minute plea to pull the plug. Explosion pours out a list of illnesses, with each line followed by a demand to pull the plug. After all, it's costing too much.

"The Cyborg Slayers" and "I Tamper With The Evidence At The Murder Site Of Odin" are both strong, with Hoglan's drumming really seeing the spotlight. A familiar whine takes you head first into "Murmaider II: The Water God," a sequel to a track from The Dethalbum. It takes everything the original had to offer, and builds more on top of that foundation. You have committed murder, and you now live knowing you are being tracked. But you proclaim, "I am the water god."

Destiny comes at full force in "Comet," complete with what may be the best guitar solo the album has to offer. You are treated to an almost Pantera-esque stomp in "Symmetry," a song about physical perfection and jealousy. The song contains a serious southern groove, accenting Explosion's vocals. The band concludes with "Volcano," which contains a group of background singers, chanting along. Again, something you would not expect to find in a Dethklok offering.

When it comes to success in the music business, you are often confined to your sales numbers and Billboard chart positions. Brendan Small has been able to count success in more ways than one. Yes, The Dethalbum II sound 45,000 copies in the United States in its first week, placing it at #15 on the Billboard Chart. But more than that, he has created a loyal following of fans not unlike the ones that Dethklok encounters in their show. With the release of the first album, we found ourselves wanting to do anything for Dethklok. Now, we are truly gears.


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Friday, May 13, 2011

Burzum - Fallen (2011)

Burzum is only one of few bands that can really pull off the low budget sound recordings when putting out an album in today's hi-tech world. "Fallen," the 8th studio album, is a well written and well performed piece of black metal art however be prepared for the lack of quality in the recording. Some bass lines and guitar riffs are hard to pick out especial over the violent vocals and drumming in specific parts. The good thing that this quality has to offer is that the guitars sound more evil and more screechy than most recordings now-a-days. This fits well for the fact that it is black metal and evil and screechy is what black metal fans look for. And for those of you who are not familiar with Burzum, Varg Vikernes is the only member of the band. He did everything from writing to recording and even producing "Fallen" and most of his earlier work as well.

The album contains more of an ambient sound as you'll hear in certain tracks. The intro, "Fra Verdenstreet," creates a dark sinful image as it is filled with eerie sounds and ghostly whispers. "Jeg Faller" is the following track that runs just under 8 minutes. The opening verse is pummeled by venomous growling and deathly guitar riffs played in between. The refrain is melodic and memorable as Vikernes clean vocals sing in a low key. It will have you humming along instantly. Others verses include eerie lyrics which are delivered in a satanic like voice. Punchy bass lines fill gaps between the chorus and provide poisonous beauty to the song.

Depressive guitar riffs consume the atmosphere in "Valen." The use of growling and gloomy clean vocals combined during the refrain gives off an emotional yet violent feel. The guitar work throughout the song is absolutely remarkable. This is 9 and a half minutes of sheer beauty. Devilish screaming and evil growling is followed in "Vanvidd." The song carries a solid back-bone to the album as it contains layers and layers of ominous guitar riffs blaring with distortion. There is tremendous amounts of rapid hi-hats and loud crashing cymbals. Vikernes also manages to include chanting vocals in the middle of the song right before the demonic screaming comes back in. This adds a great Nordic feel to the track.

The song "Budsikken" is ten minutes of skull crushing guitar riffs played in rapid minor chords. The vocals vary between viscous screaming and demonic spoken word which give off wicked fiery undertones. There is also lots of various drum patterns and tempos with detailed song structure This leads to the final track. The album comes to close with "Til Hel og Tilbake igjen" which translates to "To Hel And Back Again." The song is a dark outro that is full of quiet, eerie instrumentation. This includes unusual drum sounds, low, creepy whispering, and haunting guitar notes that fill the air creating a dark environment for the listener. Incredible imagery for this ominous adventure.

"Fallen" leans more towards "Belus" which is Burzum's previous album released in 2010. There is a lot more ambiance all throughout, however it also contains some newer influences as well. The lyrics contain more personal issues yet also include a mythological background. Despite the low recording quality, Vikernes has displayed a well range of variety throughout the record and continues to show his talent and passion towards black metal.


Official Site - http://www.burzum.org/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/burzumofficialpage
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Cathis Ord - The Far Shore (2011)


Storytelling in music is no secret. From the smallest punk bands to epic viking outfits, everyone has something to say. So how do you tell your story with minimal vocal work? Cathis Ord, hailing from the stormy UK, are doing just that. A refreshing fusion of progressive rock and post-metal elements, partnered with sparse vocal passages, plays out like a book written in musical form.

The buildup is the key to "Rider On The Dawn," before a four stick count brings in the heavy bass drum action and atmospheric guitar work. The theme is evident, with the lead guitar work taking the place of vocals in most areas. The track features short burst of growls and screams, but the story is told through darting guitars, both acoustic and electric. The changes of tempo and tone are impressive, and keep things fresh for the duration. "Beyond These Gates" starts as a simple post-rock piece before being joined by clean, and slightly off key singing. The drums start to get heavier, and the voice gets progressively more coarse. Before you know it, you are assaulted with high speed double kicks and epic, uninhibited solos. A screaming outro provides the bookend to the track.

Arguably the catchiest track on the album, "As Winter Lays Its Siege" takes an electric guitar foundation and mixes it with acoustic sections. The back and forth provides a marvelous contrast of styles, punctuated by a growling bridge. Guitar melodies are at a premium here, playing off the thunderous drums. Footsteps lead us out of the track, and into the next, "From The Far Shore." A soft drum beat, simple bassline and acoustic guitar are the framework, with a light whine of electric heard faintly in the background. A lone drum and the cold wind are the finale.

Heavier moments are to come, with both "The Palace Without A Name" and "Fire On The Horizon" bringing the sky down. Stunning guitar work drives both to familiar places, with a tremendous set of creative drum fills steering the ship. Acoustics are used well, both as a cool down and a scene setter for the final act. The vocals border on violent in nature, cutting through the wall of guitars, bass and drums to the core of you. Piano keys ring out, and the journey comes to an end.

While vocals can certainly tell a story in a myriad of ways, telling the same story through instrumentation could prove to be more profound. And when you manage to combine both styles in a flawlessly executed work of art, you are doing more than telling your story. You are taking us all along for the ride.


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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising (2011)

After 2 and a half years of waiting, the viking metal gods, Amon Amarth, are back with another explosive album, entitled "Surtur Rising." This is the Swedish death metallers' 8th studio album. Just looking at the album cover, you can already tell what is about to be thrown at you. Everything from vikings with swords to fiery flames and volcanic death! True epic pagan metal delivered in the heaviest way possible.

To start this epic adventure, the album begins with a violent opener entitled "War Of The Gods." It's packed with quick double bass pedals and viscous guitar solos that are both melodic and catchy. You will also find the riffs during the chorus to be irresistibly addicting and they run through your head for hours on end.

"Destroyer Of The Universe" is another magnificent song that is full of deep rocky growling. There is also a very catchy refrain accompanied by wicked roaring and incredible blast beat drumming. This is followed by an impressive melodic solo ripping up and down the scales. Johan Hegg also shows off his deep, monstrous growling in "Slaves Of Fear" and "The Last Stand Of Fire." They are full of passion and violent emotion giving off so much feeling from the album.

Also, "Wrath Of The Norsemen" has deathly breakdowns that will have you rocking your head and throwing up your metal horns. The only issue I have with this song is that it is 3 minutes and 44 seconds too short. being such a powerful song it would nice if it was a few minutes longer. Not to worry though, the repeat button fixes this problem. You will find your self hitting this button more than once, that's for sure.

There is also a special treat that is incorporated with "Surtur Rising." If you buy the album Amon Amarth offers you a free download of their version of System Of A Down's "Aerials." I must say, they really take the cake with this electrifying cover. The instruments are right on point. As for the vocals, If they don't make you shit yourself, I don't know what will. Hegg's growls are deafening and full of rage. This is one cover song you won't want to miss!

Amon Amarth has shown that they can, and will, continue to do what they do best, and that is to make epic viking metal. They somehow manage to out do themselves with each and every album. "Surtur Rising" is everything expected by them and even more. For victory or for death!


Official Site - http://www.amonamarth.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/amonamarth
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Monday, May 9, 2011

Arafel - For Battles Once Fought (2011)

Soviet born youngsters. Folk influences. Black metal elements. Death metal style. Viking metal vocalist. Those five things could easily be used to describe an entire tour's worth of bands. But in this case, all of them come together in one Israeli monster, known as Arafel. Derived from the Hebrew word for "fog," this five piece will certainly leave your vision blurred, and your ears ringing with their own brand of epic war metal.

Pounding drums and the sounds of war build to a fever pitch, and "Sword's Hymn" has begun! Lightning quick drumming and guitars pave the way for an array of vocal styles. Low end growls alternate with blackened screams. Viking chants enter, while a soft violin adds another texture to the fold. This is headbanging music at its finest, through verse and chorus to a dizzying breakdown section. "Kurgan" enters as a folk piece, with a well constructed intro, allowing the violin to duet with a distorted guitar. Harsh, grating vocals are the norm, treading with a heavy foot over time signature changes and flowing guitar hooks.

An acoustic guitar riff, beautiful and brief, leads you to "The Siege." Uptempo drumming forms a gallop of sorts, before descending into pure chaos. Roll after roll, leading to thunderous crashes. Cutting through the dark is a guitar solo that will bring you to your knees. Even at high speeds, instruments stay in sync, locked with dooming vocals. As catchy a guitar melody as you will ever hear highlights "1380: The Confrontation," contrasted by the depth and power of scream after scream. With growls and screeches in bunch, often delivered together, you may feel as though Satan himself is calling out to you. Strings, horns and crunchy guitars reiterate the opening melody as the track closes.

Whipping winds fill the background of "The Last Breath Of Fire." The folk influences are evident here, though kept in a darker reality. Chants rings out over the flurry of drums and guitar riffs. "Im Feld" is a slaughter of epic proportions, with soaring scales and drums that continue to punish you, from kick to snare, tom to cymbal. A brilliantly executed stop and start breakdown are sure to earn a nod, preparing you for a down tempo stomping outro.

"Wolf's Hunt" offers a short reprieve before grabbing you by the throat. Violin and keyboards get a starring roll, playing the melody through the major sections, with beautifully orchestrated chants and choirs filling  the air. The raspy screams lead the way, stopping only to insert a true death growl. "Death Of Archaic World" is the epitome of a closing track. The band are now at full throttle, with every influence present and accounted for. Everyone gets a turn, from a heavy handed, hammering drum beats to a dance inducing violin. You will both fear and look forward to the war.

What more can be said about a band, and album, that seem to have it all? Arafel have become something more than death, something more than folk, something more than viking or black metal. Through the years, they have evolved into a genre unto themselves. Maybe they can become the founding fathers of Israeli blackened Viking folk death metal. Consider it done.


Official Site - http://www.arafel-band.net/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/arafelmetal
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