Friday, September 30, 2011

Appalachian Winter - Appalachian Winter (2011)

Recently, I have come across an incredible self-titled album by the band Appalachian Winter. This is a one man band from Pennsylvania who has clearly put so much effort and detail into this album as you will find it packed with different orchestral instruments and beautiful complex song structure. D. G. Klyne has written and performed the entire album, which I have found to be most impressive. As far as the genre goes, it is definitely a mix between progressive black metal and symphonic metal with a little bit of folk sprinkled on top.

The first track on the album is "Winter" which starts with dark and beautiful piano notes. This quickly opens up with symphonic horns and orchestral string. The music sounds like a score to a Lord Of The Rings scene. Heavy drums with echoing cymbals bash away at you as heavy guitar riffs begin chugging. The epic horns really build up the album as they fly high over the strings. About two and a half minutes in comes the verse with clean but aggressive vocals. The lyrics are delivered in more of a spoken word than a sing melody. Soon after enters machine gun double bass pedaling booming at insane speeds. This will have you pumping your devil horns immediately. The refrain is interesting as his clean vocals are then layered with a deep demonic growl on top of them. There is also some pretty impress growling in the last minute while chugging guitars blast away with uplifting orchestral horns soar over them. This seven and a half masterpiece is sure to have you hooked and hitting replay!

Acoustic guitars fade in with "Wind" as clean singing vocals enter right away. Angelic strings build up in the background as double bass drum patterns start to kick in. This is where your head will start to bob. The style of the verse is interesting as you will half of it sung in a clean, almost pagan like, singing voice. Then enters dark devilish growling to complete the second half of the verse. The mixture of the two really hold that beauty and the beast feel to the track. The refrain contains very catchy lyrics that will have you singing along as soon as you hear them. All the instruments fade out after the refrain as the acoustic guitar takes over again opening up the second verse of clean singing and vicious growls. These growls are really delivered with amazing performance and seem to just get better and better throughout the song.

"Wolfghosts" is where some of the folk metal influences come into play. The song opens with some catchy melodic flutes with soft acoustic guitars in the background. As the rest of the instruments drop, a deafening and haunting growl comes rolling in with distorted guitars and snapping drums behind it. The guitars are chugging away as the verse starts with evil spoken word delivered in a very low tone of voice. Now get ready because half way through the song comes some more insane double bass drumming as the vocals switch from spoken word to the monstrous growling. The instruments definitely give that black metal vibe as wicked melodic guitars are running up and down the scales during the heavily filled double bass pedaling runs through you. There is even some clean chanting vocals in the end leaving an epic feel to the mix.

Soft piano riffs open up "Forever" as depressive spoken word enters in the beginning. A alluring flute fades in and out between words teasing you with its gorgeous melodies. Orchestral strings take over adding a soft symphonic feel to the album. This is the shortest song on the album running for about four minutes long. As it fades to the end, you are met with beautiful guitar notes in "Solitude." This is quickly shattered with another monstrous growl that opens the door for the heavy chugging of vicious guitar riffs. Strings float in the background which consume you deeper into the song as a wall of double bass pedals fall on you with thunderous speed. Later in the song enters more horns as the drumming and distortion fade out. The melody the horns produce give such a passionate sound to the song and are full of meaning. Eventually chanting vocals come flying in with more rapid double bass drumming and crashing cymbals. There are also some dark spoken word towards the last 30 seconds of the song that ends with a huge echoing growl that will knock you off your feet. It final fades with the ravishing flute that started in the beginning.

The sixth and final track on the album is "Night" and runs for about eight and a half minutes long. It starts out slow with layers of strings hitting all different octaves as dark whispering spoken word drifts through them. Heavily distorted guitar enter for a short time as exploding drums follow them. This quickly fades as the strings continue to play. After more whispering words are spoken, the instruments pick up with more guitars chugging away as violent growling vocals take over. The delivery is absolutely remarkable. The drum fills roll perfectly into the next set of growling as the symphonic strings lift the rest of the instruments higher and higher. About five minutes into the song, everything fades out as a soothing synth takes over. This is later backed by light drumming and more orchestral strings. More spoken word is layered on top just before the loud guitar riffs explode back into the scene. This is a real electrifying way to end the album.

"Appalachian Winter" is so diverse and unique. The way the vocals are constantly changing and the atmosphere around them are constantly switching from fast and heavy to slow and symphonic really make this album stand out. Klyne does a great job of keeping the album flowing smoothly from track to track. The structure of the songs are so fascinating well thought out. This truly is a magnificent album and a great experience. Whatever you do, don't miss out on this phenomenal piece of art.


Official Site -
Facebook -
Read more ...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ars Moriendi - Du Trefonds d'un Etre (2011)

Jumping to the progressive black metal side of things, French underground band Ars Moriendi has recently released their new album entitled "Du Trefonds d'un Etre." Wicked growls and insane drum rolls really take this record to the next level. The album is only five tracks long, but these tracks run for a pretty long time.

The first song off of the album is "Jadis..." which runs for over 12 minutes long. However, the first two of those minutes are really just an intro with soft guitar notes mixed with lots of different sound effects in the background. All you hear is a horse pulling what sounds to be like a wagon of some sort. Once this is done, monstrous guitar riffs come blaring into the picture with harsh growling vocals in the verse. The guitars are very progressive throughout the song, as a lot of the melodies repeat for quite some time in between verses. Fast kick and snare patterns roll in violently, containing complex drum fills that pound away at you. The song structure frequently changes, keeping you hooked the entire time. The tempo jumps up and down while instruments come and go. There are some humming vocals later in the song with Arabic tones as they are layered with eerie guitar riffs. There are even some heavy guitar parts where you're gonna want to bob your head to the chugging riffs. So much as been thrown at you already, and you're not even passed the first track yet.

The next track to follow is "Ghost" which, I have to say, is a 12 minute masterpiece. The beginning starts with haunting strings that float through the air softly as soothing guitars play gently in the background. You become consumed into the strings as you'll find them to be played in such a passionate way. Eventually, heavy chugging guitars come barreling in with demonic vocals and rumbling bass. The drums get right to work with impressive fills mixed with rapid snares and cymbals that crash in all directions. Standing still is not an option as the relentless guitar riffs constantly blast through with heavily added distortion. About half way through the song, all of the instruments fade out and a beautiful piano builds its way into the mix. This gives the song a real beauty and the beast type of feel as it switches back to the heavy riffs and exploding drums. The guitar work is incredible towards the end, as devilish vocals are set on top of them. Cymbals are crashing from left to right and the snare and toms are brutally beaten with detailed patterns. The song slowly comes to an end as more eerie humming echoes over soft the guitar notes.

"Entre les deux Royaumes" is a very slow song that contains lots of demonic strings layered on top of one another as light guitar riffs play along side them. The key to this song that will really have you hooked is the bass throughout the track. The bass line provides a dark groovy sound to the mix as interesting synth sounds hover in the background. It definitely has this evil futuristic feel to the whole thing. Most of the lyrics in the song are whispered in a mysterious tone, however, the vocals do pick up a bit towards the middle of the song with some black metal screaming. The instruments stay the same though, keeping that dark sound from beginning to end.

Things really start to move again with "Mediocre Fin." The tempo is faster, the music is upbeat, and the guitars are on full blast with distortion. There is some strong devilish vocals delivered in the verses as guitars continue to chug away. The snare and kick pattern keeps you rocking your head to the beat through most of the song. The tempo changes a couple of times from fast to even faster as you're introduced to some ridiculous double bass drumming and quick guitar riffs with speedy melodies. It really changes up about half way through as deep piano keys come into the mix leaving an evil image to the song. More Arabic humming fades in the background as screechy guitars come flying back in. There is also an amazing guitar solo at the end, running up and down the musical scale like it's nothing. I found myself replaying this track a couple of times trying to catch all of the details.

"Du Trefonds d'un Etre" is the fifth and final track on the album. It's got a very slow start to it as you can barely hear light piano notes at first. They piano riffs eventually start to build with angelic melodies. Also light drums entire quietly in the background. About two and a half minutes in you are hit with deafening guitar riffs that become louder each and every time they repeat. This is only for a short time however. The piano steps back in as the other instruments drop out immediately. After a couple rounds of light piano work, the monstrous guitars come chugging back in again only this time they are accompanied by wild demonic vocals that echo through the air. Its parts like this that really grab you by the throat. Double bass pedals come in and out through the verse as the deep bass line continues to rumble underneath them. The vocals break out into a clean chant in the middle of the song which really set the tone. It was just what this album needed after all the heavy vocals and constant change between reckless guitars to gorgeous pianos. The song eventually fades with double bass blasting away then leads into a soft piano riff as the outro. This is such an incredible song.

Ars Moriendi does a great job in delivering the mix of progressive metal and black metal in one. You can definitely hear some Opeth and Burzum influences throughout the album. Clashing these sounds together really kept them on their own level. Definitely check out "Du Trefonds d'un Etre." It's an album you won't want to miss!


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Falloch - Where Distant Spirits Remain (2011)

Formed only a year ago in Glasgow, Scottish two piece Falloch has already take a giant step into the world of metal music. Andy Marshall and Scott McLean wrote and recorded their album, and signed a deal with Candlelight Records in the process. The album, titled "Where Distant Spirits Remain," is more than just another heavy record. This is a jumping off point for a young band, one that combines post metal elements with folk stylings and melodic sensibilities. This is a foundation for what should prove to be a long and successful career.

The opening track, "We Are Gathering Dust," builds from the silence before an explosion of drums, bass and distorted guitars shatters the sound barrier. The vocal delivery in he verse section is as soft and melodic as it can be without losing the edge of the song. But the true strength lies in the chorus, with the slide of the bass providing a low rumble under the sizzle of cymbals. Things fade away for a lengthy period, with clean guitars layered on top of the sound of waves crashing on the shore. As the track builds anew, the faint piano tones that cut through it all create a beautiful harmony. The sudden impact of thrashing guitars and monstrous drums blindsides you with post metal fury, taking the song to almost sludge proportions. A fitting means to an end.

The vocals may be a focal point for some, especially on tracks like "Beyond Embers And The Earth." They add an almost plush feel to the song, providing melody where necessary. But amidst the sonic waves, the use of Scottish instruments is unexpected and refreshing, albeit sparing. Even the inclusion of acoustic guitars and strings succeeds in accenting the more harsh moments. The more intricate guitar work in the middle portion is where Falloch shows their metal chops, with echoing distortion and the constant thunder of the drums tearing down your walls. This is a sharp contrast to the effects laden guitar work in the latter half, accompanied by the light tapping of drums. The music starts to build, but never reaches the boiling point, choosing to fade to an eerie conclusion.

After the two tracks that open the album, one that falls short of the four minute mark is a surprise, with "Horizons" coming through as a glorious change of scenery. Flutes fill the air in this short but powerful instrumental, with barely the quiver of a leaf. Even as drums enter, they do not disturb your ear. As it drops out, "Where We Believe" takes over. The bass work is outstanding, taking the low end of the spectrum to new heights. The vocals return, as delicately as before, but the use of some more aggressive yelling hits you square in the mouth. The vocal hook in the chorus, sung over crunching guitar chords, is a hit. The piano tops it all off, creating this ethereal cloud that surrounds you. Some of music could easily fit in amongst the titans of post-rock, from Mogwai to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It carries a heavier edge than those aforementioned bands, but uses the same structure and melody to drive it all home. The light vocal outro tickles your inner ear, and moves you on.

The most complete performance comes on "The Carrying Light," a track that finds the band at their melodic best. The vocals are perfect, harmonizing with the utmost clarity and strength. Delicate clean plucking gives way to repeated guitar chords, which are the backing for a tremendously powerful bass line. A stunning use of light strings accents the evolution of the clean singing, followed by a piano melody. But suddenly, a wailing, rattling guitar enters, signaling the beginning of something much more hard and atmospheric. The guitar meanders through a period of fret work and an ever growing solo. The crash of drums and cymbals behind it lingers long after the music has ended. This is a vision realized, coming to life for a nearly seven minute waking dream.

Acoustic guitars, flutes and an occasional drum beat open "To Walk Amongst The Dead." The longest track on the album, this one showcases everything the band is capable of. There are aggressive periods of thrashing guitars and rapid drumming. But those can be linked head to tail with the smoothest of bass. The song rises and falls repeatedly, going back and forth between head banging distortion and mind altering acoustics. Each element is as important as the one before it, and as impactful as the next. Even the perfect moments, all of the pieces come together in a blissful assault of beauty and beast. So too, does the album. The finale is a mere three minutes of piano, with each note floating through the water on the shores. No tricks, no gimmicks.

This band is merely an infant, with only a year under their belt. For an initial release to offer this much power and emotional attachment is astounding. There are certainly heavy moments throughout "Where Distant Spirits Remain," but those moments are not the be all and end all of the album. Falloch is a band with far reaching talents, including a taste for the melodic. The way they manage to combine the two time and again is what makes this effort one that deserves repeated listens.


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mastodon - The Hunter (2011)

In 2009, Mastodon released "Crack The Skye," which is the bands most successful album to date. It is also considered to be their best work ever. The question is, where do you go from there? How do you follow up such an amazing album? Do you stick with a similar sound or do you change things up and lean back to your older style? After being asked questions like this for 2 years straight, Mastodon has finally answered with "The Hunter." This album has nothing to do with their previous four albums, which were based on the elements of fire, water, earth and wind. The band has taking a completely different direction with this new release.

"Black Tongue" opens up the album with booming drums fills and a catchy guitar riff. The vocals consist of harsh clean singing throughout the entire track. Dailor's drum fills are insane right from the start, with lots of detail in every fill. The guitars are layered well covering multiple octaves as distortion fills the air. This is a perfect track to open up this strange and interesting album.

Up next is the song "Curl Of The Burl" which was the first official single off of the album. With a title such as this one, it kinda makes you think that it might not be so great. However, that isn't the case. Once the chorus hits with its catchy melody and silly lyrics you'll be singing along in no time. Or at least whistling along with the tune. This is probably the most radio friendly song on the album. It definitely plants a seed in your head after hearing it a couple of times. Eventually, the melody will be stuck in your head for days. Now moving along, the following track, "Blasteroids," has some interesting elements to it. The lyrics open with "Changing, change your clothes, I rearrange your face for you!" This, of course, having a catchy little tune to it, makes you wonder where this is going exactly. The song is only two and a half minutes long but they manage to fit a lot into it. The refrain has some heavier screams to it in which they cover the vocals with some strange filter effects. The guitars are relentless as the are not stop blasting away at you. Even the bass guitar has some really explosive lines in the song that sound great when you crank up the volume.

The mood gets more serious with the oddly named "Stargasm." The band shows a little more progression with the repetitive guitars in the beginning that slow build up to the verse as the drums introduce themselves in a smooth yet complicated way. The guitars are filled with heavy distortion throughout the song as you hear layered guitar effects that add a psychedelic tone to the song. The vocals are absolutely amazing as they will have you singing along immediately in the chorus. The tones of the song really bring back their sound from Blood Mountain's "Sleeping Giant" with its trippy melodic feel. Definitely make sure you check this song out.

Now there were a few songs on the album that really raised some controversy between the fans. For example "Octopus Has No Friends" has some odd verses as some of the vocals sound a little weird. The melody of the lyrics are sort of cheery, I guess you could say. Definitely not something that Mastodon has ever sounded like before. The one thing that really attracted me to this song, however, was the incredible drumming that Dailor delivers throughout the track. One after another, the fills are packed with fast snare rolls and monstrous fills that will knock you on your ass. Also, the melody of the chorus does start to grow on you with its catchiness.

Jumping a couple of tracks, the other song that brought up a lot of questions was "Creatures Lives," which is track 10 on the album. It starts out with strange futuristic sound effects and a man laughing in the background. After about a minute and a half of psychedelic synth sounds enters a soothing guitar riff with quiet drums that creep up slowly in the background. The vocals are completely clear singing throughout the verses and refrains and are filled with strange lyrics. The song isn't bad, it just doesn't seem like it belongs on the album. Mastodon has never really sounded like this before on any of their previous albums. I wouldn't call it a ballad, but it definitely has nothing to do with the metal genre at all. This just gives the album an even more unique edge than it already has. I don't mind the song, it's just not what anyone would ever expect on an Mastodon album.

Now there are songs like "Dry Bone Valley" and "Spectrelight" which have amazing instrumentation. The guitars on constantly blaring away with heavy riffs while the drum fills lead each verse perfectly into the next. These are some great tracks to bob your head to. Even "Bedazzled Fingernails" has some incredible guitar work. Also, the vocal performance in the song is phenomenal. This gives you more catchy lyrics to sing along to while rocking your devil horns to the beat of the drums.

The album comes to an end with "The Sparrow." Soothing guitars soar through the air as the calm clean vocals consume you. These are some more vocals that you aren't really used to hearing from this band but they sound great and really paint an interesting picture to the music. The guitars give off that "Hearts Alive" type of vibe which is a song off of Mastodons 2004 album "Leviathan." Angelic synths surround the instruments drawing you closer to the music. They do manage to add some heavier guitar work and a melodic solo in the middle of the song along with more thunderous drum fills however the tempo and vocals stay the same. It's a great track and a perfect way to fade out the album.

So after all the questions of what's next and how will they out do "Crack The Skye," the answer is clear. You release an album that is full of strange and unusual surprises. The vocal delivery changes about five times throughout the album along with all the different sounds and tempos that drastically change between each track. You simply cannot compare "The Hunter" to any of their other work simply because there is nothing to compare. This album stands on its own, just like every other album that Mastodon has released. It's got its ups and downs but in the end... it's a damn good album.


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Omit - Repose (2011)

One of the biggest issues in the metal world today is keeping track of all of the genres, subgenres, names, "cores" and intentions. What one man considers to be thrash, another man could see as metalcore. So, when you first see that Omit, hailing from Oslo, Norway, is a melodic doom metal band, leave your preconceived notions of what you think that means at the door. This is unlike anything you have seen or heard before. It has all of the melancholic power of My Dying Bride with all of the radiant beauty of opera. Redefine your ideals with "Repose."

The opening track, "Scars," is a sign of things to come. Traditional down tempo doom beats, slow distorted guitar chords, and the cry of a violin. But as the vocals enter, there is something different. A beautiful, enchanting female voice is the lead, a ray of sunshine through the graying sky. Frontwoman Cecille Langlie casts a melodic spell over you. The track length may be an initial concern, but the band manage to keep the music fresh throughout, offering more than just the "same old" doom. A short piano interlude steals your breath, and intermittent periods of angelic chanting may give you chills. The combination of sounds and styles makes this sixteen minute epic feel like several acts in a play, each with their own emotional attachments. The pounding of drums enters and exits, each stroke carrying the darker tones. But the keys and heavenly voice are always right around the corner, lifting your spirits.

The solemn whines of the violin lead you into "Fatigue," and you may now feel the immense emotional weight coming down on you. This is what melodic doom can and should be. The depth of sound is astonishing, even with a limited number of layers to be heard. But within each layer, there is is a richness that is so often lacking. The vocals are, once again, sublime, bringing forth a true somber force. The use of orchestral arrangements heightens the experience, surrounding you in an ethereal haze. The guitars are a stronger presence here, climbing higher in tone, and throwing in those glorious low, buzzing chords. But the star of the track is that violin, carving a hole in your soul that you may not soon repair. After a lengthy string solo, the band reenters, with Langlie's voice returns to you, both comforting and cold. Could this be the new darkened lullaby?

Soft acoustic plucking gives way to a wave of sound, from delicate strings to the haunting sound of a flute. "Dissolve" sees some excellent use of instrumentation, from the light tapping of bells to some of the more intense chugging. The understated moments are dazzling, with the pounding of drums pairing with Langlie's voice in a perfect match. Everything flows together from minute to minute, with bursts of orchestral arrangements becoming the proverbial glue. The shining star is the lyrical content, conveying a sense of sadness and hopelessness, without being overbearing or pretentious. The tone jumps back and forth, with short acoustic passages calming you, before turning things over to that distorted guitar work that every doom fan craves. The more intricate guitar parts are accompanied by the simple beauty of bells. Contrast is something Omit uses well.

The second disc begins with "Constriction," taking the bells to new levels. They echo around the fading distortion and thumping of kick and snare. There is something in Ceceille Langlie's voice that conveys a sense of fragility, but somehow paired with strength. That rare and stunning combination will stay with you long after the music has stopped. The band are firing on all cylinders at this point, creating a flowing tapestry of metal glory. Each member is filling his or her void to perfection. The guitars are deep, and rich. The drums hold the tempo in place, whether it be with the soft tap of cymbals or the loud thud of the bass drum. The soft moments are soft. The heavy moments are relentless. But both sides share the same coin, with the vocal track guiding you through the twists and turns. There is something cinematic about the way the track is constructed, even without a clear verse, bridge, chorus structure.

The finale, a nearly twenty six minute monster known as "Insolence," is the model of ambition. On an album that tops the 85 minute mark, a track of this length could be seen as a risk. But using the formula that has worked so well throughout all of "Repose," it is a same gamble. Each measure is a new breath of oxygen, each section having it's own separate life. From acoustics to orchestra, light crooning to bellowing chants, This track is an album unto itself. The violin that left a void in our hearts earlier returns, seeking to repair the damage done. Despite the doom and gloom atmosphere you may have encountered over the course of the last hour of your life, there is something life affirming about music this thoughtfully crafted. Find solace in each note, each lingering lyric.

First, an admission. When sitting down to listen to an album, seeing an 85 minute running time could be frightening, and altogether intimidating. However, upon hitting play, time will no longer matter. Doom metal is not about short, airy tracks with a lot of fluff. And Omit is not your grandmother's traditional doom metal band. My advice to you, dear reader, is this: grab a copy of "Repose," grab a bag of chips or salted peanuts and a cold beverage of your choice. Got your snacks? Good. Press play, and let the music wash over you. When the album comes to a close, brush the crumbs from your shirt and go outside. You might see a different world than the one you knew.


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 21 (Duct Tape, The Devil and Mikael Akerfeldt)

Another week, more great new bands. Murmaider has a few things to say about The Wounded Kings, and his new found love of Tiluland. Hell22 didn't have as much luck with N O V A or Opening Scenery.

After a long wait, the guys get to see Opeth again, with Katatonia supporting. But the set list has many fans in an uproar. Duct Tape joins us to discuss the show, the songs, the crowd, and his first true metal experience.

Download it here.
Read more ...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kromlek: The Interview

Fresh from Bavaria, Mr Alphavarg from Kromlek has taken the time to answer the burning questions about "Finis Terrae," Urban pagan metal, and touring in Europe.

First and foremost, we want to thank you for taking the time to sit down and answer some questions for us. It is greatly appreciated.

From the formation of the band in 2004, what was the overall vision for Kromlek? Did you have a sound in mind, or was it changing and growing each time you played?

Well, I think it is up to us to thank you for your interest and for the possibility to get a forum in the States. I’m not sure if there was any vision back then in 2004. By forming KromleK we just wanted to create our own image of Pagan Metal. One special thing that defined our sound from the very beginning has been the use of keyboards since HrísDólgr seems to be one of the most talented and gifted keyboard players out there. So it was both change and growth which we declared as our ideals.

Who were your musical influences during the early stages of the band? What bands, groups, singers, had the biggest impact on your sound?

The biggest influence on both the ere compositions and lyrics had Finntroll, Thyrfing and Amon Amarth. You can obviously hear that, I think. Later on Windir had more and more impact on our work. But nowadays we managed to liberate our sound from any influence and in my humble opinion there’s a specific KromleK style.

Your sound is described as “urban pagan metal.” Can you give us a little insight as to what that phrase means to you, and your music? 

Oh, haha, “Urban Pagan Metal” is definitely NO specification of our style, this term is merely some kind of provocation in order to distinguish our sound from what is nowadays called “Pagan Metal”, you could translate it with “Fxxx you all”, haha. To be serious I wanted to state that I’m totally fed up with all the dogmatic rules of behavior, how to wear your hair, how to dress on stage and how to “act pagan”… We live in a more or less civilized European country affected by an urban periphery in the year 2011 and not in the middleages or earlier so there’s no authenticity in wearing Viking costumes or warpaint. It’s all a big carnival which nobody of us can take too serious. So I use “Urban Pagan Metal” as antithesis for the current Pagan Metal scene which means nothing more than “Bye, thanks for nothin’ & fxxx off!” Our style should simply be described as “Metal” whatever that means

On that same topic, there seems to be some confusion, especially in the US, over what it means to be a “pagan” metal band, as opposed to a “folk” metal band. How do you think the two differ?

I think this is a sound issue. A Folk Metal band plays folky melodies, uses traditional instruments etc while a Pagan Metal band could be related to any kind of Metal sound. Pagan Metal is more about the content, Pagan lyrics and appearance. There are Pagan Metal bands that play Black Metal, others play Viking Metal or Folk Metal, the connection between all of them is the pagan content dealing with mythologies, pre-Christian cultures, nature etc. On the other hand we got for example Skyclad’s “Irrational Anthems”. They obviously play Folk, but their lyrical content is definitely NOT pagan. They deal with social critics and stuff like that.

Tell us a little about the album cover. What inspired the look and feel of the artwork, and who created the final image?

I did the whole design myself. I wanted to create a post-apocalyptical imaginary that underlines the main statement of the album “Life will prevail…man will not.” The inspiration was the album itself and the concept of the artwork and the booklet was to visualize the lyrical and musical atmosphere.

The new album, “Finis Terræ,” is an epic masterpiece. There are so many instruments used throughout. What was it like to create such massive layers of sound?

Thank you! But that question is hard for me to handle since I’m not the composer. What I can tell you for sure is that it was an enormous investment of time, energy and patience

There is no denying the German metal scene is growing. What is it like to play shows in and around Germany? Is metal becoming the genre of choice, or is it considered to be music for “outsiders”, as it is here in the States?

For us there’s no constant attitude concerning gigs in Germany. It’s very difficult to give a general statement because we had fantastic shows where we had expected bad ones as well as we played horrible gigs that really sucked where we had thought it would be great. I like to play abroad much more than inside Germany for some of our best gigs took place in Switzerland and the Netherlands. In Germany it differs from place to place; Munich is always great while Nuremberg sucked, Berlin was quite cool while other places we played great gigs once became bloody terrible for the second time.

Yeah, it is definitely an outsider music. Even though there are for example 80.000 visitors in Wacken… we got 80.000 outsiders! Metal in general is an outsider music but especially Pagan Metal is even more outsider. I got the impression that there are lots of people who put on warpaint and disguise as ancient warriors just to compensate something they’re not able to manage in real life.

What bands do you guys listen to in your spare time? Are there any unknown bands that you want to share with the world?

Currently I’m not listening to metal that much. I’m more into electronic synthesizer bands from the 80ies like Camouflage, Kirlian Camera and stuff like that. I also developed a great passion for martial/military ambient music like Triarii or Tethrippon.

Earlier this year, you took part in the Black Trolls Over Europe tour. What was it like to be a part of that line-up, and make stops throughout Europe? And are there any major touring plans in the works?

Well, it was definitely a very intense experience. We were very lucky with the lineup for all the guys were great personalities, especially Skyforger are extremely nice guys. Touring Europe wasn’t really something new for we had played several times in the Netherlands and Switzerland before and we also played in Austria and the Czech Republic before. In the end it was very funny and we had lots of good times but sleeping in the night liner while travelling is everything but comfortable. But I don’t think that touring the whole week doesn’t make much sense for most of the people are used to visiting concerts on the weekend and not an a Tuesday or Wednesday. Thus those gigs were quite frustrating because of the few visitors.

There are definitely NO plans for a major tour for we’re still quite small. If there’s an interesting package of bands and venues in “real” foreign countries – that would be a different kind of story but at the moment I’m fed up with tour experiences. Still, it is an issue of time management. 

Cruising around the internet, your album can be found for free download on hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs, torrent sites and hubs. What are your feelings on the downloading of music, and how has it affected your lives as musicians?

Piracy in general is bad for musicians, especially for the smaller ones like ourselves. If somebody downloads a new Metallica output illegally it’s a sad thing but it won’t be their economical ruin. But the smaller bands are in need of every sold record. Of course one can argue that the selling of merchandise is more important for bands than the record itself but in my humble opinion this is still about music, right?! I know that a lot of people get to know KromleK because of illegal downloads [especially in Russia]. It’s good for us to become more known to people all around the world but if that ruins our “band economy” how could we be able to present another album without the money needed?

What are your plans for Kromlek in the coming months and years? And what can we expect from the next album?

We’ll see! ;-)

Thank you again for your time. We here at Sorrow Eternal wish you guys the best of luck. Keep your horns up.
Read more ...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tiluland - Axes Of The Universe (2011)

Prepare yourself for an extraordinary adventure with the guitar and synth Gods Tiluland. They are a two man band that consist of Arwe, the guitarist, and Gimi, the keyboardist. Together they have released their album, entitled "Axes Of The Universe." It is completely made up of thunderous guitars and beautiful melodic synths. All nine songs on the album are instrumental tracks and are packed with fast pace electrifying action.

The intro "Prologue (To The Kings)" sounds like a score written from Avatar with its epic strings and gorgeous orchestration. The notes are uplifting and really give a good build up to the album. "Tilu Of The Kings" fades in with catchy guitar riffs layered with rapid double bass pedal drumming that ignites the flame to this astonishing track. The soft strings consume you while you are tossed around in a whirling pool of notes. The guitar leads the other instruments almost like a vocal in the song. This leads right into "March Of Immortals," which has the lead guitar playing quick scales up and down as heavy chugging guitars fill the background. The beginning riffs sound similar to Dream Theater, as the chords pound away at you with explosive snares and kicks behind them. This is definitely a track that you'll be pumping your fists to.

You'll run into more fast detailed melodic riffs in "Heroes" that will just blow you away. Epic strings build up in the middle of the song almost as if it's the chorus. The riffs are absolutely stunning with clear synths backing them up. Meanwhile the drums are just blasting away with booming double bass and violent cymbals crashing from left to right. "Arctic Twilight" is built similar with its machine gun double bass pedaling. The guitars are just relentless with their hell raising solos and magnificent detail in structure. "Warrior's Anthem" is the one softer songs on the album that includes some mellow acoustic guitars in the beginning as the strings carry them into the distorted guitars that are waiting in the middle. The lead guitar really plays well as a vocal in this song almost as if the instrument is singing to you. Make sure you check this song out.

The last three tracks combine into one large tracks, entitled "Epic Tilu Fantasy." Part one, "A Grand Tale," opens with angelic piano notes surrounded by gorgeous orchestrated strings. This breaks into heavy guitars chugging catchy riffs and while drums beginning to charge at you with heavy bass. This eventually runs into part two, "Axes Of The Universe." This fades in with soothing strings for only a few second until reckless upbeat guitars come soaring in. The solos played in this song are so incredibly fast that you might want to hit replay a couple of times to catch everything that is thrown at you. By this time you have gone through a little over 8 minutes as part one and two are both about four minutes long. Then you'll come across the final part, "Kaamos," which by itself plays for over eight minutes long. More reckless guitar riffs come rolling in with dark synths in the background. As the melody changes, the drumming patterns constantly change from detailed fill to detailed fill. The notes that are played are just astounding and provide such a beautiful image to the album. Before you know it you'll be playing all three parts over and over again because they're just that damn good.

You would think that, playing this symphonic style of music with similar instruments, after a while most of the songs sound the same. Well, it's a different story for Tiluland. They manage to provide a clear and unique sound in each song where you can actually recognize each track individually and know which song is which. "Axes Of The Universe" shows a whole different side to symphonic song writing and orchestrated instrumentation. This is definitely an album you do not want to miss!


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Opening Scenery - Mystic Alchemy (2011)

Seems like we keep coming back to Italy. What people across the United States consider to be the home of pizza, pasta and The Godfather, is fast becoming the first place to look for explosive metal of all kinds. Enter Opening Scenery, a progressive power metal five piece from Torino. With a daring mix of keyboards and flashes of guitar brilliance, and a guest appearance by power metal superstar Fabio Leone, "Mystic Alchemy" is sure to raise some eyebrows in Europe and abroad.

The air raid sirens sound and "Ante Bellum (Before War)" launches into action. The thrashing beginning is delivered with the precise delivery of classic Metallica, with guitars and cymbals coming to immediate stops. The keyboards lay down a hazy atmospheric tone beneath the grating distortion. The vocals are more coarse that you may expect, not falling into the same old power metal trap. This is not to say they lack range, but it is certainly more restrained. The progressive breakdowns and buildups carry an edge, falling into the gray area between evil and good. The power emerges on "The Third Eye," combining some higher pitched vocals, reminiscent of Tim "Ripper Owens, with a stronger keyboard presence. Mixing high speed chugging with a blazing solo creates the foundation the vocals need to deliver the message. The persistent pounding of drums comes off as robotic at times, lacking the personality and punch you may desire. But a chaotic, tangled outro is proof of life.

"Seaquake Of Souls" fools your ears into expecting a ballad. The delicate intro is immediately offset by aggressive guitar work. the keyboards are the star here, with a variety of sounds building into a stirring melody. The strong bass presence accents each note. The vocals strain to fill the void, sometimes sounding overexerted. The instrumentation is performed expertly, with each note falling into place perfectly, from guitar to keys. The eerie air of darkness returns in the opening synthesizers of "Black Roses Kiss." The keyboards take over, jumping into the drivers seat, slamming the gas pedal down and building the momentum. The vocals enter, raspy and powerful. Singer Andrea Racco finds his comfort zone on this track, demanding your attention. Keys, chords and cymbals crash together in a beautiful burst of insanity. A light, understated piano/vocal breakdown is shattered by the darting keys. A thunderous kick drum segment powers the track home in a bass laden fury.

There is almost certainly going to be a ballad present on any power metal influenced album. On "Mystic Alchemy," this takes the form of "The Light Beyond The Dream." While it may not be a ballad in the traditional sense, it brings a slower tempo to the table and incorporates a variety of orchestrated instruments. The vocals fill with raw emotion, with Racco's accent coming through in a somewhat profound way. The keyboard solo work keeps things light when necessary, without tainting the strength of the track in the wailing guitars. There is no such tempo drop in "The Seventh Gate" which is as this album comes to a pure power metal track. The vocals soar over the top of screeching guitars and thumping drums. The dazzling keyboard melodies tie things together, amidst the crashing and sizzle of cymbals. This is musical harmony, with each piece adding to the whole. There is no lead.

The trio of tracks that follows, "The Mystic Alchemy Suite," is as varied as the alum itself. Scene one, "The Final Destination," is a headbanging affair. The band have grown throughout the album, and they flex their musical muscles to greater heights as they reach the end. The precision with which each note is delivered becomes more than that of a surgeon. Scene two, "Old Memories," is a shorter acoustic number, more of an interlude than a full track. Minimal guitars, light keys and a vocal harmony. Scene three, "At Twilight," finishes the trilogy with a bang. The perfect ending to the set, with screeching guitars putting a bow on it. The last track, "Silence After Storming," is a soft instrumental dessert after the meal, allowing you to breath as the music fades away.

There is something about Opening Scenery that makes them instantly likable, without proving what they are truly capable of. They are like that friend that everyone has. He asks you for $100, and promises to give you back $500. Do you trust him and take the chance? In the case of "Mystic Alchemy," if you can overlook some of the weak early moments, you are rewarded with an album that gets better with each passing second.


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Wounded Kings - In The Chapel Of The Black Hand (2011)

There is a new doom metal band on the scene coming from the UK known as The Wounded Kings. They have recently released their new full length album, entitled "In The Chapel Of The Black Hand." There are only four tracks to this album, but don't let that fool you. Most of the songs are pretty lengthy.

The album starts off with eerie chords from an organ in "The Cult Of Souls," which are followed by slow heavy chugging guitars filled with distortion. The drums come splashing in with high hats and snares as the bass rumbles beneath them. Female vocals enter in the verse with a clear and dark tones. This gives a very depressive sound to the album. Running for a little over 13 minutes long, the melody doesn't really change too much. Instruments fade in and out, but the basic tempo and melody stay the same. There is, however, a little solo towards the end of the song with wicked melodic notes that soar over the drums.

"Gates Of Oblivion" is the second track off of the album and also plays for over 13 minutes long. More monstrous guitars come blaring in with thunderous melodies. The drums are slow but have some interesting fills throughout the song. The vocals are similar to the first track as they are performed with dark and haunting lyrics. Demonic synthesizers enter later, as another wicked solo comes flying in. After a while it feels like there should have been a devilish growl somewhere in the mix but it just never comes.

"Return Of The Sorcerer" is the shortest of the songs, running at less than four minutes long, however with its dark melodies and great song structure it's definitely got the most energy. The tempo is a little faster and instead of opening with a verse, it opens with an incredible guitar solo with detailed drum fills in the background. This will definitely have you bobbing your head throughout the whole song. This leads right into "In The Chapel Of The Black Hand," listed just over ten minutes long. The delivery of the guitars and drums are great however the vocals start to put you to sleep as you are greeted with the same eerie female lyrics as the first two songs. After a while of this similar style of music, things start to blend together.

The Wounded Kings definitely carry a lot of potential in there music have some great talent when it comes to guitar work. However "In The Chapel Of The Black Hand" just seems like something is missing. I felt like I was constantly waiting for a devilish scream or booming double bass pedal drumming and I never got it. Also, some of the songs become a little to repetitive. If they get a little more creative with their melodies and instruments, they might have a shot at being big in the metal world.


Myspace -
Read more ...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Band - Album (2011)

As you venture around the net, this album will certainly see it's share of criticism. Some will say it was the wrong move at the wrong time. Others will refer to it as a "work of art." While the difference of opinion will be wide, it will only refer to the decision to do an album of this nature. The musicianship will not be questioned. The quality of the release will never knocked. This may, in fact, but the most polarizing album of the year.

Things begin with a short, but stunning piano track. Lightly played combinations of keys slice through the air, and tickled your inner ear. A fitting intro for a classical work, but even moreso for a metal album of this arc. The lead single follows, with a lightning burst of guitars giving way to a loud gong. Every note carries a hint of evil, from the guitars to the haunting organs that play beneath. That guitar melody winds away, punctuated by syncopated drum hits, so precise they may seem off time. You will wait for the signature scream to emerge, but therein lies the glaring omission. The vocals are clean, melodic passages strung together. Not a scream to be a had. Not a growl. Clean, concise, and lyrically powerful. This is more about atmosphere and delivery, rather than how heavy it can be. Each instrument shines through in earnest, crisp and clean.

The opening to the third track will excite any fan of progressive guitar work, with a delicate melody to play you in. The soft, sometimes chilling vocals are right at home, full of emotion and pain. The true beauty of the track is the simplicity with which it was created. A midway outburst of demonic guitars changes the pace, if only slightly. The use of synthesizers throughout the track helps to create an underlying feeling of fear, even if the vocals remain soothing. Track four ignites a fire under your ass, with the introduction of some faster paced guitar work. The uptempo drumming kicks in, but not in the heavier sense. This is a progressive rock exhibition, in the vein of the greats, such as Deep Purple. The vocal pattern actually seems to carry a lighthearted feel this time around, even giving way to a ripping solo. Things fade, and a fragile acoustic guitar takes you home.

The next track is a combination of so many styles, so many influences. The first half is little more than lightly played guitars, backed by a soft bass and the almost buried tapping of drums. There is no mistaking the soulfulness in his voice, with no sign of chugging or distortion to force his hand. Even in a momentary eruption of guitars, there is never more than a low rumble of energy. Everything is subdued, controlled by the concept of the album. As quickly as the bursts come, they are gone, changed in favor of the sublime. This continues through track six, with some brilliant jazz guitar work. It certainly reaffirms the theory that metal and jazz are merely a stage apart. The guitar melodies intertwined with the bass and sizzle of the drum kit, in a harmony like no other. Now, six tracks in, you are still waiting for that blood curdling scream. Keep waiting.

Things may begin to seem formulaic at this point, with each track having the same sort of pacing. The seventh offering begins, like the others, as a fluffy cloud in a dream. The flutter of a flute, the light tapping of almost tribal drums.That flute sound permeates the entire track, even in the evil outburst of distortion and darkness. It winds up and down as things get heavier, and heavier, then stop. Back to beauty, back to the heavenly sounds of acoustics and piano. Arguably the most rock oriented track on the album follows, a four minute ride of rapid drum progressions and guitars. While it may not get your hair swinging, it will certainly start your foot tapping. The album concludes with a pair of glorious tracks. The first dips back and forth between emotionally heavy and musically heavy. The deep, rich vocals take the lead so often, giving off a warm feel. The second track, the albums closer, is merely beauty incarnate. It is a summation of what this album is, what it was meant to be. A departure from the rest, a soft mesmerizing journey.

There is no simple way to describe this album. There are not enough adjectives to link together that will make my words as impactful as the music itself. This is a gamble, a giant leap outside of the "box" that their fans have come to expect. It may even be a step into a realm that many hoped they would never see. Either way, this is a dazzling journey through time and history, all with a demonic tone that few could attain without a single scream or growl.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the new Opeth album. Enjoy "Heritage."


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Monday, September 19, 2011

N O V A - InverT Theory (2011)

Hailing from San Francisco, electronic metal two piece N O V A are ambitious. Looking to fuse the grinding guitars of metal with a more futuristic approach, Chazz McConnell and Max Seeman have united in their vision. The first of two albums, "Invert Theory" has been described by its creators as sounding like "stars exploding." And with this seven track offering, they seek to bring outer space into your speakers. Astronaut food, anyone?

The opening moments of the title track, "Invert Theory," may have you thinking you stumbled into another techno/metal mash-up. But as the distortion chugging takes the reigns, the electronic influences fade to the background, forming another layer of sound. The track has a clear evolution, building upon the expansive guitar sounds. A short piano melody kicks things into a different gear, with the chord delivery becoming more intricate. A fiery solo played on top of the thunder of double kicks is a view of what is to come. The industrial metal battery of "Ley-Lines" takes over for a drawn out seven minutes. The constant tempo changes and cross-fading of sounds may become off-putting, but the energy of the guitar work should more than make up for the overuse of production trickery. But a track so ambitious manages to sound repetitive and forced at times, with little variation until the forth minute. And a Weather Channel style section does little to salvage any momentum for the last bursts of guitar. The final minute, in fact, may remind you more of an alien abduction than a metal track.

A brief interlude track, "Cronomicon," treads dangerously into the waters of house metal. The drum and bass beats become the focus too easily, and do a disservice to the guitar work. The theme continues into the opening measures of "Rift," combining futuristic sounds with mechanical guitar effects into a space age metal hybrid. The major victory is in the body of the track, where guitars hit those deep, rich chords in a tangled chugging and picking whirlwind. There is nothing overly complicated or inventive to be had, but there is nothing wrong with solid fretwork. This is one of the more complete offerings on the album, despite its electronic tendencies. Another interlude, the two minute "Sephricon," could have come straight out of a Transformers movie, with synthesizers taking a strangle hold on the last remaining metal instrumentation.

What progress was lost there is sought to be regained on "Shard," which is finally the guitar heavy track the album has been building towards. They waste no time getting to the meat of the track, with flurries of double kick drums throbbing through your speakers as guitars intertwine in distorted glory. The wall of sound has finally been built, with solid layers of guitar, drums and keys crushing down on you. The length of the track is the only minor weakness, choosing to pad out nearly six minutes instead of a dominating four and a half or five. The closer, "Entra Nova," may piss away nearly a minute with ambient sounds, but immediately grabs your attention back with each downbeat. Some softer plucking takes the lead, before an aggressive buildup enters. The distant voice of astronauts can be heard over the music, igniting the soulful solo that the album needed. It is this combination of smooth and crunchy that is the overlying strength of the band. Even a space age outro can't stop them now.

In a seven track offering, every minute counts. And for N O V A, they let a few too many slip through their fingers. "Invert Theory" is an album full of metal potential, but leans on the electronica crutch a few too many times. The strongest moments on this record come when the guitars are fierce, and the beats are providing an assist. If they can dial back the futuristic love affair and find some sort of balance, N O V A will leap to the forefront of the new industrial metal movement.


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 20 (A dramatic change of scenery)

After a week of technical difficulties and disasters, Murmaider and Hell22 relocate for the day to discuss the week that way. Murmaider had a week of surprises, enjoying new albums by American folk metallers Northsong and Canadian sludge band The Sun Through A Telescope. Hell22 found himself expecting exactly what he got from the new Dream Theater album. For better or worse, it was "A Dramatic Turn Of Events."

But the main highlight of the week was Murmaider's trip to the new Yankee Stadium for The Big Four. From the smallest of them, Anthrax, all the way through Megadeth and Slayer, to the (former) kings of metal, Metallica, his life has been changed forever.

Download it here.
Read more ...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Brymir: The Interview

We are truly honored to have Jarkko, bass player of Brymir, participate in yet another Sorrow Eternal interview. He answers questions about his influences, "Breathe Fire To The Sun," the content of the album, and a possible North American invasion. This was a lot of fun for us, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Download the audio here.
Read more ...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Northsong - Winter's Dominion (2011)

Not everyone needs a solid group of musicians to put together an awesome album. Sometimes being a solo project is the way to go. In Northsong's case, this is one of those bands. Cortland Runyon is the founder and the only member of Northsong. He has released his new album, entitled "Winter's Dominion." The album is a mixture of symphonic and folk metal with heavy viking metal tones.

Right from the beginning, the Prelude has a glorious mix of strings, distorted guitars and double bass pedal drumming. The instruments run smoothly together as you will find them well orchestrated. The chords bring such an uplifting feeling to the album as the strings rise high setting up a great build up to the rest of the album. "Mountains Of Madness" comes fading in afterwards with a magnificent growl that will knock you down immediately. The drums explode into the scene with fist pumping patterns. The guitar riffs are catchy with basic chords blasting away with the bass. The deliver of the vocals are astonishing. The growls are harsh yet you can still understand the lyrics pretty well.

"Heathen War" comes bursting in with fast thunderous guitar riffs and ridiculously detail double bass drumming. A hateful growl fills the air luring you into the reckless verses. A jolly synth comes in half way through the verse giving a strong folk tone to the mix. The growls are relentless as you are constantly hit with lyric after lyric. This is a great up beat track to really get you moving. "Desperation" gets even heavier as more violent guitars take over the beginning. They are accompanied by another jolly melody from the synths in the background. The drums will have you bobbing your head in no time as the guitars continue to thrash away at you. The song may only be about three minutes long but it really packs a punch.

Coming up next is a soothing instrumental called "Winter's Dominion." It opens with a gorgeous acoustic melody combined with angelic stings that surround you with emotion. The guitars enter later with tons of distortion and exploding drums to back them up. This track will make you feel like you are in an epic scene in a movie. As it fades you will run into the final track, entitled "Let Death Be Our Pride," which is a Windrider cover. It runs for about 7 minutes along and contains lots of orchestral instruments mixed with heavy chugging guitar riffs. The vocals go back and forth between demonic growling and clean singing. It sounds like vikings chanting in the distance. The drum rolls become a little repetitive as the same hi hat crashes constantly in the background and the beat of the snare hits on every other beat. Besides that the rest of the track is pretty solid and is right down your alley if epic folk metal is what you're looking for.

Northsong doesn't quite stand out from the list of other well known folk metal bands as you'll notice a lot of similar sounds from bands like Amon Amarth and Ensiferum. However, the music is fantastic, the recording is excellent, and the performance is outstanding. This is great music that will not leave you disappointed. Don't miss out on this one!


Facebook -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Sun Through A Telescope - Orange (2011)

Scoping out the metal scene in Canada, there is a band that shines with its interesting sludge sounds mixed with progressive experimental tones. That band goes by the name of The Sun Through A Telescope. They have recently released some new material on an album called "Orange." The album carries only five tracks but after hearing them a couple of times you will see that five tracks is all they needed.

The first track, entitled "They Used To Worship The Svn," opens with bird noises creating sort of an outside image. Distortion slowly fades in from behind as it builds louder and louder until the violent guitar riffs come rumbling in. Quick snare and kick patterns rush in filling the air with violence. The tempo jumps a lot in this song as it goes from rapid speedy riffs to slow and deafening chugging riffs. The track runs for about 5 and a half minutes with no vocals at all. They do manage to add some interesting synth sounds towards the last minute.

Things get seriously heavy with "Glowing Hallowe'en Eyes." Wicked guitar riffs come blaring right off the bat. They add in an odd synth chord in between the guitars giving kind of an odd sound to the mix. Also a lot of the guitar patterns sound similar to songs off of the album "From Mars To Siruis" by the band Gojira. Once the the instruments start to fall together and vicious growl comes flying at you with dark demonic tones. Snares and cymbals are crashing all around you burying you deeper into the song. Very few growls are delivered as most of the song is instrumental. However when the growls do enter, they throw a monstrous chill down your spine and leave you in total shock.

The third track on the album is sort of a two parter as it's titled "I Am The Doorway (Part 1 - Ark'Bala Part 2 - Solar Propeller.)" This 8 minute masterpiece starts out slow with distorted guitars chug away. The drums enter heavily with slow kicks and snares that pound away at you constantly. There are some odd vocals throughout the song that aren't really screaming or growling but are more like just slow devilish sounds with no lyrics. It makes you feel like you are stepping into some sort of hellish haunted place as the voices echo all around you. The guitar however, do continue to chug slowly in the background.

You can hear rain falling in "Trees That Speak," as low ambient guitars play softly on top giving off a depressive sound. Although the instrumental is over four minutes long, it is really just a filler track on the album. As the instruments fade the final song "Autumn Tunnel" comes in with eerie spoken work giving a devil like image to the voice. Strange yelling vocals come out of no where about two minutes into the song as you will hear somewhat of a melody within the lyrics. The drums are booming as the snare is non stop behind the vocals. Some of the quality sounds a little distorted throughout the track. I'm sure if this was on purpose or just a bad mix. It definitely takes the cake when it comes to weird. This isn't a song that you would blast at a party or anything but it definitely has some amazing elements to it.

Overall, "Orange" is an enjoyable album from front to back and is complete with mind twisting song structures and haunting sounds. The Sun Through A Telescope manages to keep their songs similar yet diverse at the same time and definitely know how to keep their listeners hooked. Pick up the album and see for yourself!


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Big Four..... Revisited

So, tonight is the night. Our very own Murmaider will be front and center for the Big Four Tour in New York City. Oh yeah, New York City. In honor of this monumental event, a trio of reviews awaits you! Murmaider falls in love with Slayer, and Hell22 implores you not to give up on Mustaine and Megadeth.

Slayer - God Hates Us All

Slayer - World Painted Blood

Megadeth - United Abominations

Tomorrow night, we return, in force, with some great new bands for you to feast your ears on!
Read more ...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011)

Since the release of their last album, a lot has happened in the world of Dream Theater. A world tour, including shows with the legendary Iron Maiden, another Progressive Nation run, sharing the stage with bands like Bigelf and Scale The Summit. I feel like I am forgetting something. After a long and busy two years, a new album has been signed, sealed a delivered. It is time to experience "A Dramatic Turn Of Events." Wonder where they got the name from. Guess we'll never know.

Clean guitars open "On The Backs Of Angels," which is, by all intents and purposes, a gauge with which to measure your interest in the rest of the album. The entrance of drums reassures you that despite a notable departure, there is still percussion in this band. The guitar hook leading into the verse is standard Petrucci, and the darting keyboards that follow are still Rudess. James Labrie sings well, benefiting from some crystal clear studio work. The song follows the formula that Dream Theater have written time and again. Understated verse section, a catchy hook, and a flurry of instrumental solo sessions. The constant has always been John Myung, whose rock steady bass work keeps things in time and moving in the right direction.

An electronic beat builds to a resounding rumble in "Build Me Up, Break Me Down," the first heavy burst of the album. Rudess supplies a healthy dose of symphonic keyboards, providing direct support to an energetic guitar riff. The overwhelming surprise to this point has to be James Labrie, who seems to have found his long lost voice amidst the turmoil. The track moves quickly, until a tad overblown outro that consists of a minute or more of repeated keyboard tones. The first epic of the album, "Lost Not Forgotten" sees a delicate piano intro take hold of your heart strings. This is a rock opera intro, complete with thundering tympani. As a barrage of instrumentation flies forth, you have to be wondering when the song will take shape. One guitar stomp later, you have arrived. Rudess and Petrucci have a fun exchange of dueling notes in the breakdown section, as if to remind you that this is still a Dream Theater album. They then exchange solos, shake hands, and rejoin the rhythm section to bring things to a close.

The first ballad offering on the album, the lighter igniting "This Is The Life," may begin as a ripping guitar track, but quickly turns into a piano led crooner. The light tapping of cymbals and orchestrated strings only bury Myung's bass work. The lyrics take a sugar coated turn, choosing to live life gracefully. But in typical fashion, the ballad becomes a monster with the buildup of drums and guitars. A quick run up the neck of the guitar, and the beast has awoken, albeit for a brief run of layered instrumentation. A tribal tinged moan is an odd welcome, but "Bridges In The Sky" evolves into a heavy bit of progressive metal mastery. Tracks like this are the strength of the band, with a cohesive delivery winning out over individual musicianship. Labrie seems to fall short on his end, however, holding things back in the verse. He returns to his normal self in the chorus, bringing that melodic edge back. Once again, the alternating solo sections take over and Rudess and Petrucci flex their respective muscles. And a tribal moan of satisfaction ties this one up.

Parts of "Outcry" could fit in perfectly to the "Systematic Chaos" sessions, yet somehow stand apart from the rest of this offering. It seems to be the song that best and worst represents Dream Theater, with some of the more generic rock riffs dominating the verse, and some of the more intricate musicianship highlighting the breakdown and chorus sections. Rather than a happy medium, they jump back and forth across that fine line. The shared stage of solos occupies several minutes, before the smooth jazz portion takes over, with Rudess dropping in some piano tones. This tickling of the ivories continue into the shortest song on the album, the four minute "Far From Heaven." A light violin joins with the keys to form a fragile plate which Labrie serves up his breathy vocals. This one is beautiful, if not a little puzzling in the flow of the album.
The jaunty opening to "Breaking All Illusions" will wake you up, allowing Petrucci to put forth some lighter guitar riffs. However, that brisk tempo dissipates as the Weather Channel jazz returns for round two. It is all well delivered, but sorely lacking any sort of continuity.The bulk of the song is traditional Dream Theater, winding keyboards tangling with the signature guitar style and a surgically precise bass. But the flow and momentum feels lopsided, and after twelve minutes, it needs to come to an end. It isn't often that you can describe anything Dream Theater does as having a minimalist approach, but "Beneath The Surface" is exactly that. This is a ballad, in every sense of the word. Light orchestrated strings, soft acoustic guitars and James Labrie. Labrie holds his own, with some sharp production giving his voice a soul that many fans sorely missed. A short keyboard melody leaves as quickly as it enters. Sappy, yes. But a fitting end to this journey.

It is hard to evaluate a Dream Theater album as a stand alone entity. Like their individual songs, each album seems to be connected to the one before it. And yes, "A Dramatic Turn Of Events" seems like the logical next step after "Black Clouds & Silver Linings." The band have leaned more towards the emotionally delicate songs, and away from the harder edge metal that they do so well. And as with all change, you just need time to adjust. I am prepared to accept this new, emotionally fragile Dream Theater. Are you?


Official Site -
Read more ...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 19 (A side of metal and gravy)

Murmaider wants you to know that metal is alive and kicking in Australia and Ukraine, and Vyrion and Sad Alice Said are prime examples of that. Hell22 knows a thing or two about the death/doom genre, but As Autumn Calls throw their own signature twist into the mix. Gorath, on the other hand, is preparing us for the end of the world.

The plague of side projects isn't a new one, but it has become a killer. Too many musicians try to sustain too many projects at once, and it leaves us, the fans, holding the bag. We talk about the good, the bad, and the insane projects of some of our favorite musical idols. And wait, what is that I hear? After a long absence, mostly due to chronic diarrhea and the craving for flesh, Chester returns to join in on the topic at hand. And he has a message for The Scenario.

Part 1 -

Part 2 -
Read more ...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Project Masquerade: The Interview

Guitarist Noud Smeets, mastermind of Project Masquerade, took time out of his busy work schedule to answer some questions about his work, the album, and where things go from here.

First and foremost, you are not new to the music business. You have been in many bands before, some well know and some underground. How did your experience writing and recording this Project Masquerade record compare with your previous experience?

When you work alone there's no discussion with other bandmembers. I really hate being in the rehearsal room discussing on a few notes in a song for hours . Besides that you always have bandmembers leaving the band at crucial moments and I think you can not always be best friends with all the members in a band.

So I thought, when I do everything on my own, I don't have these problems anymore. When I started I didn't have a studio or something like that. I bought a fast computer, a good soundcard, Drumkit from hell and a Pod xt and started writing and recording demos. I didnt know anything about Cubase (recording software). Frank Schiphorst (Mayan) was kind enough to be my private helpdesk for some time!

Working alone means that you are responsible for everything and you can not blame anyone else. If something goes wrong, it's your own “mistake”. If something turns out to be great, than its your own benefit.
So working on the Project Masquerade record was a great experience.

What is the story behind the name of the album, "Nothing But Everything Will Remain"?

My girlfriend came up with the album title. One important theme on the album is "finding your soulmate," represented by the two tracks: "Carve Your Heart" and "Restless Souls." When a child is born, it has a male or a female soul. Then you have to search all your life to find the opposite part. These two opposites have no power alone, but, when united they have the power to create in this world. When you die, your soul will find eternal peace or has to start all over again because you didn't find the opposite part. In October 2010, during the recording of the last track, my son Kick was born.

Describe the process of creating the artwork. What was your vision, and do you feel the finalized artwork fits that vision?

I studied visual design years ago, and I had a lot of designs already made for the album but was not satisfied. When I travel to work, I used to take the train. Once I decided to take the metro, and I saw this little church on a small hill. The Christian religion preaches that the human soul will live forever after death. Besides that, there is the black part in the front (the end of life) and the powercables from the railway, representing the never ending search for the opposite soul.

I took the image with an iPhone when I traveled back home. I think I took images of it for days and days when I passed this church but the first, the one that's on the cover, is the best.

I also wanted to make a link to the first Masquerade album, Cybernetic Empire, that was released in 2010 so I also used the dancing skeleton who's on the Cybernetic Empire cover. It represents "the end" (and that is a new beginning).

Inside the CD inlay there's something like a big star. Actually, the biggest part of it is a mechanical shutter from an old camera. I redrew it in Photoshop and made a 3D version of it, adding some extra elements and textures as well. Took me about 2 weeks or so. My daytime job is working as a photographer and teaching photography, so I wanted a link to that because it's one of the biggest passions in my life, besides music.

There's also another link to photography on the album. The opening track "Disease," tells the story of Persian born scientist and polymath Ibn al-Haytham's life in Egypt ( known in the West as Alhazen). Alhazen made significant contributions to the principles of optics, as well as to physics, astronomy, mathematics, ophthalmology, philosophy, visual perception, and to the scientific method. He is considered as the father of modern optics.

The album itself is impressive in so many ways. The cast of musicians that appear on the album is amazing. They are established, but most of them might not have familiar names. How did you decide on Dennis Leeflang, Barend Courbois, Mark Brekelmans, Doug Odell as your fellow musicians?

The most difficult part was listening to musicians and imagining how they would sound together with my music.
I knew Dennis already when he still lived in the Netherlands, and we did a few gigs and a recording before he went to the US. We always stayed in contact. Dennis is really a mind blowing drummer and a very nice guy.
Thanks to Dennis, I got in contact with Chandler Mogel and Doug Odell. I know Mark Brekelmans as a bass player from Edge of Serenity. I played some live gigs with this band when they released their debut album on Romulus X records in 2009.

Barend "The Bear" Courbois is the most famous bass player in the Netherlands, and played with Michael Lee Firkins, Zakk Wylde, Ian Parry, Vengeance and Steve Fister, to name just a few. I always wanted  to play with Barend, so it's great to have him on the album. He came straight from his tour with Steve Fister to record 4 tracks on the album. We had a great time with a lot of food and drinks and laughs.

I also wanted some more aggressive voices on the CD, so I just sat days and days listening to tracks on myspace to find some decent growlers out there. Dmitri Konstisyn  plays with NewYork band Hung (His wife does the backing vocals on the track!) and Daniel Verbrugge is growling in one of Holland's upcomming metal bands Ethereal.

Grain is (besides my girlfriend) a singer/songwriter who released a breathtaking album “Shut your Mouth Kevin”. If your into music like Tori Amos or Kate Bush, you should really listen to her album. We've lived together now for 7 years but her voice still gives me goosebumps!

The album is very well rounded, musically. It isn't just a collection of solos. Everything came together so well. How important was it for you to create a complete album, rather than just a guitar heavy solo record?

You're right, everything came together very well.  I have a small studio of my own so its easy to rewrite, re-record and so on. I wanted to tell stories and express my feelings and not make a guitar masturbation album. Maybe "Masterplan," the only instrumental track on the CD, goes a bit into the last category. But hey, there are more than enough solo's on the album :-)

I recorded a demo version of Masterplan, having Marcel Coenen (Suncaged) play a few mind blowing guest solos, but I decided to do all the guitar parts by myself and not have another guitar player on the CD.

The vocals on the album are astonishing and very ecelectic. From the clean singing of Chandler Mogel and Michael Zanderbergen, to the overwhelming screams of Dmitri Kostitsyn, every singer contributed in a major way. Aside from your wife, how did you meet the other vocalists, and bring them in to be involved in the making of this album?

I had a lot of recording sessions with different vocalists. Some of them kept me waiting and waiting. I remember waiting for one guy (I'm not going to mention a name) for a year!! I really wanted him on the album and accepted every excuse for not showing up. But after a year I deceided to ask someone else.

Thanks to Dennis Leeflang, I got in touch with Chandler Mogel. Chandler is going to be huge in the future!
Michel Zandbergen is one of the vocalists on the Cybernetic Empire album. We lost contact with him for more than 10 years and thanks to the internet, I was able to trace him. I'm sure we are going to record some more tracks in the future.

For the other singers, I just “found” them thanks to Myspace. Just listening for weeks and weeks to recordings. When I contacted them, they all responded very positive.

The instrumental track, "Masterplan," was influenced by the 1927 movie "Metropolis." What about the movie inspired the song?

I worked for 9 years as a professional cameraman and I love a lot of movies made before 1940. Metropolis is a German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. (Metropolis was an inspiration for a lot of movies I realy like like Starwars, The Matrix and Blade Runner.)

German Expressionism refers to a number of related creative movements beginning in Germany before the First World War that reached a peak in Berlin, during the 1920s. These developments in Germany were part of a larger Expressionist movement in north and central European culture in fields such as architecture, painting and cinema.

The filmmakers of the German Universum Film AG studio developed their own style by using symbolism and mise en scène to add mood and deeper meaning to a movie, concentrating on the dark fringes of human experience. In the futuristic mega-city Metropolis, society is divided into two classes. The "managers" live in luxurious skyscrapers and the workers live and toil underground.

I tried to copy Gustav Fröhlich's, (one of the main actors) acting style with the melodic guitar lines
The long solo part represents the struggle of the workers and the Machine ma.

I know you had been trying to secure a label to release the album. How has that gone thus far? What is your plan for the album release as of right now?

People only want to invest money in Idols or X-factor “stars”. That's because they can quickly make a lot of money because next year there will be a new one again. I know it's a risk for a company to sign an unknown artist. But on the other hand, I offer them a complete product, pro mixed and mastered including the artwork. They don't have to make a lot of CDs because most of the people buy digital downloads. I only need their promotion and distribution network.

I got some "offers" from companies asking me to pay to release the album! Rates between 1700 and 5000 euro!  Besides that, they wanted 30% of the publishing rights... lol. That's more of a theft instead of a   record deal.

I have two small companies now who are interested in releasing the album 2013! That's not acceptable for me because I want to have a new album ready at the end of 2012. The plan now is to release the album as a digital release on iTunes and Amazon on 10/1 but, if there's a company with a decent offer, I'm always interested.

Obviously, it would be difficult to bring the entire cast out, but what are the chances of taking this album on tour?

I'm afraid it will be to expensive. It would be cool to do a few gigs next year with some of the musicians involved .

Lastly, It took almost three years to complete the entire process for the album. After all the work you put in, I have to know one thing. Are you satisfied with the finished product? When you release this album upon the world, will you be as happy to hear it as we were?

I'm happy with the album. Being a perfectionist, I still hear things that could have done better but that's more a budget matter. I get a lot of very positive responses already and started to write for the next one.

Again, thank you so much for giving us a chunk of your time. We wish you the best of luck with the album. If people hear it, you are going to be a popular man. We are going to spread the word on this one, and I hope it pays off!

Thanx you for your time and work man, appreciate it a lot.
Read more ...