Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nemesea - The Quiet Resistance (2011)

Dutch female fronted metallers Nemesea have a habit of being honest. Whether it be a frank, open take on their humble beginnings, or simply a straightforward lyric, there is no sugar coating when it comes to lead singer Manda Ophuis. After becoming the most successful band in the now defunct Sellaband system, this five piece have worn their hearts on their sleeves for the release of their newest album, "The Quiet Resistance." Honest and powerful, this is not the cookie cutter fairy tale you may expect from a symphonic metal album.

Don't let the intro track's whispering fool you into thinking this is going to fall into a nu metal, metalcore funk. "Caught In The Middle" quickly dispels any worry, as frontwoman Manda Ophuis leads the electro-symphonic charge with a voice that could part the seas. Sharing a common trait with Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation fame, she commands a room with a mix of range and raw talent. The instrumentation is exactly what you would expect, with a blitz of high speed guitars and pulsing drums setting the pace. The use of synthesizers only heightens the experience, creating a atmospheric background layer. The honesty in the lyrics is never more evident than on "Afterlife." And while the rhyme scheme may seem as basic as can be, every element that surrounds it is done to perfection. From the density of the guitars to the strength of the drum beat, and the use of keyboards, all of the pieces fall effortlessly into place. Backing vocals provided by guitarist HJ de Jong compliment the main melody, creating a harmony that rivals the best in the business.

The comparisons to the aforementioned Within Temptation will surely be made, especially on "Whenever." By no means is this an insult, but rather an honest assessment of where Nemesea stands. The guitar work is spot on, backed by a keyboard melody that will certainly catch your ear. Ophuis is stellar once again, her voice hitting all the right notes with an outpouring of emotion. She sees a softer approach on "If You Could," pairing her voice in the early stages with nothing more than acoustic guitars and a delicate piano. The presence of a distinct sadness helps to endear this track to the listener, allowing you inside the heart and the mind of the protagonist. Orchestrated strings complete the track, with light notes played over the soft crooning. Those symphonic elements see a larger role on "High Enough," a track that takes the male/female vocal dynamic into account. While the structure and flow may seem basic, it doesn't diminish the quality of the music presented. Every band member fulfills their role, from the guitars to the keys, to the near surgical rhythm section. It is hard to find fault in a song that is so emotionally charged, yet so well constructed.

There is a darker, almost gothic, feel to "Say," which also sees de Jong sharing the vocal spotlight. For better or worse, this track could fit in to this years "The Unforgiving." However, there is a unique instrumental choice in play here, with the first sounds of scratching turntables cutting through the mix. It may sound like a poor decision, but for one reason or another, it just seems to work. The breakdown is heavy, with some downtuned chugging and higher register guitar work coming together. The electronics see fair use on "It's Over" as well, a track that is a true vocal highlight on the album. Both de Jong and Ophuis show off their respective ranges, carving out a harmony that could win over the more skeptical of fans. Again, the scratching is present. Embrace it or ignore it, it is not something you will hear in metal every day. This is all in preparation for the ballad of the album, titled "I Live." Ophuis takes on a sultry quality to her voice, with her lower octave shining through. Joined by de Jong, they present you with a stirring duet of love. The guitars come through in a surprisingly heavy manner, with distortion taking the entire chorus for a ride. A repeated piano melody lies in the background, behind a sea of vocals and building drums.

The more heavy handed use of symphonics comes at the perfect time, with "Stay With Me" striking the darker chord. Orchestrated strings run head on into booming kicks and crushing guitar work. Screeching electronics trade blows with smooth bass lines, all the while topped with a voice that is equal parts enchanting and empowering. A calculated beat is the norm on "Rush," walking a dangerous line between electro and metal. But in a flash, an explosion of guitars, percussion and synthesizers reminds you that this is no house album. Each down beat will put your sub-woofer to good use, each snare echoing for moments after the stick lands. This is a testament to the power that Manda Ophuis possesses, as she refuses to be drown out by the heavier portions. There is an odd feel to the verse sections of "Release Me," utilizing an electronic beat that could be furnished by an 80's Casio keyboard. The soft whisper in the vocals isn't long for the world, for when the tapping beat exits, the vocals erupt in a show of strength. A welcomed guitar solo walks you out with darting notes and classic fret work.

The album begins to draw to a close with the track "2012" which is exactly what you might expect it to be. An ominous combination of beats and sounds, rumbling along at a grinding pace, this is little more than a break before the finale, "Allein." Quite possibly the most bizarre track on the album, it is fitting that it ends the effort. With an electronic melody that will certainly remind fans of the hayday of the X-Files, this one features a guest vocal spot from Rammstein frontman Heli Reissenweber. With his signature German delivery, he puts an entirely new spin on the formula, whether it be in melodic form or whisper. But the key to making a track like this work is keeping the music true to form, rather than catering it to his sound alone. This remains a heavy symphonic metal song, keys, chords and all. The three headed vocal monster formed by Ophuis, de Jong and Reissenweber may be too strong to be stopped.

When a band is so dedicated to honesty, lyrically and personally, it is the least we can do to provide them the same courtesy. With that in mind, it must be said that Nemesea are masters at what they do. The musical approach is refreshing, albeit common. They haven't reinvented the wheel, nor will they change the direction of modern metal. The comparisons to their countrymen will come fast and furious. But on "The Quiet Resistance," they offer a lesson to any symphonic metal band, waiting in the wings for success: work hard, carry the weight on your shoulders, and stay true to yourself. Sound cliche? Perhaps. But the proof is in the proverbial pudding.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crom - Of Love And Death (2011)

A creative mixture of power metal and Viking metal is combined heavily by the band Crom. The German outfit have released their new album, entitled “Of Love And Death.” It contains lots of mixed emotions as you will comes across some very up beat catchy tunes along with some slower, sad melodies at the same time. The vocals are performed with lots of energy which definitely helps keep you hooked throughout the entire album.

The opening track is “Reason To Live” which starts with an upbeat drum pattern along with a catchy guitar riff that will have you bobbing your head immediately. The verses are full of clean vocals that have power metal tones. Double bass drumming slows kicks in to help build up to the chorus. Heavy chugging guitars blast away in the background as you are swept away with catchy lyrics. A calm lightly distorted guitar solo takes over after the chorus giving off gorgeous vibes throughout each note. The final refrain of the song is joined by a deep growling vocal that adds aggressive Viking metal tones to the song. It really keeps the track refreshing. “Lifetime” also opens with a catchy guitar rif only this time it is an acoustic guitar. It is also accompanied by chanting vocals in the background. The verse starts out soft with just vocals and acoustic chords. This quickly changes half way through with blaring guitars that are full of distortion. They carry a very likable melody all the way through even into the refrain. You’re definitely going to be replaying this track a few times.

Leaning more towards the sad tones of the album, songs like “Just One Blink” and “My Song For All The Broken Hearts” consists of said love lyrics and beautifully mellow guitar riffs. They go back and forth between acoustic guitars and electric guitars often leaving you with mixed feelings throughout the song. The vocals are fantastic as they are delivered in a solid manor. No crazy operatic notes, just some clear singing with enjoyable lyrics. Even “My Destiny” has some incredible vocal delivery especially in the verses. The whole structure of the track flows together so well and keeps you humming along through all six minutes of the track.

“This Dying World” continues with the angelic acoustic guitar riffs and is also accompanied by light chanting in the background. The heavy guitar riffs that follow will knock you down with their fast chugging patterns and snapping kicks and snares. The lead guitar sings to you with more beautiful notes. This leads you right into the verse which has nothing but clean vocals and acoustic chords behind them. The drums don’t come back in until after the verse is over. The chorus reintroduces the distorted guitar riffs which completely take over the melody. This is another great track that you’ll find yourself singing along immediately. “Eternal Dreaming” follows this track and is basically a two minute and 50 second instrumental of more ravishing acoustic guitar melodies. I could seriously play this track over and over again and never get sick of it.

The band includes a bonus track at the end, entitled “The Fallen Beauty.” This gorgeous masterpiece contains some astonishing vocals that hit high and low notes throughout the refrain and sound amazing. Electrifying distorted guitars are relentless as they are constantly being slammed in the background. They also include a while guitar solo in which the vocals continue to sing over and really keeps the track even. This is definitely the way to end such a moving album.

Crom really gets a lot of use out of the acoustic guitars throughout the album keeping the mood soothing and yet at the same time they crush you with wicked distorted guitars and booming drum patterns. The guitar solos will rock you to sleep with their catchy and yet calm melodies. “Of Love And Death” is definitely worth a listen. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself replaying the entire album a couple times in a row. It’s that good.


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Monday, November 28, 2011

East Of The Wall - The Apologist (2011)

From the ashes of The Postman Syndrome and Day Without Dawn comes East Of The Wall, another powerhouse on the growing Translation Loss stable. Much like their labelmates, Giant Squid, this five piece from New Jersey aren't simply going through the motions. They are taking their genre and their sound to new places, choosing to advance rather than relax. On their new album, "The Apologist," they take the deep, rich sludge sound and add a few pieces of flare.

The screeching of guitars descends into a low end earthquake as "Naif" emerges. The dense guitar sound is sludge in the purest form, crashing cymbals sizzling. There is a strong bass presence, supplying a true melody. Softly delivered vocals are an asset, but the coarse yells that follow are what you would expect of a band of this nature. This all slams directly into "Linear Failure," a true screamer. The aggressive vocals take over, commanding attention over a chorus of riffs and rage. You may get the feeling that the drum kit is simply being torn apart, taking full fledged abuse at the hands of Seth Rheam. But a more blues inspired guitar melody changes the tone, only to be thrown into the chasm of heavy guitars and a down right destructive rhythm section. The use of clean and dirty guitars and vocals is key, especially when moving from track to track.

The acoustic strums that open "My Favorite Society Guy" are calming, giving you a sense of depth after such a brutal prerequisite. The rumbling bass still finds a home, forming the backbone of the track. A similar style begins "False Build," but with a much more open structure. The layering of guitars opens the door for a more intense sonic attack, with distorted chords and melodies becoming intertwined, rather than replacing one another at any time. It isn't all chugging and slamming, there are certainly more groove oriented portions, with each one setting up the next. The sparse use of vocals, both gritty and grand, furthers the musical experience. Snares take you into "Precious Memories," a song that shows off the diversity and creativity this five piece has to offer. They have the ability to create tracks, like this one, that is both dominant and accessible. The guitar work is top notch, in both skill and delivery. Darting notes and echoing chords come from all directions, all backed by a rhythm section that is nothing less than impressive. The solo portion gives you a glimpse of another level of musicianship that you are witnessing.

The title track to the album takes a more conservative approach, using clean guitar tones to set the tempo. A flowing bass line enters and takes the song off on a tangent before the vocals bring it back to the intended path. Again, the clean vocals are astonishing, emotional yet raw at the same time. The melody finds itself obliterated by a wave of crushing chords and a veritable demolition crew of drums. But the clean vocals peek out from hiding at times, forming a bitter contrast with the aggressive screams. The ability to move back and forth between two opposite styles makes the seven minute run time seem half as long, with no time to become stale. "Running Tab Of Sweetness," an assault of your inner ear by a battery of percussion and whirling guitar riffs. The use of feedback may seem harsh at first, but it becomes such an integral part of the overall sound. It is here that the production quality stands out, with each snare and tom coming through with crystal clarity. Even a rolling double kick section can be heard through the crunching of guitars.

The humorously titled "Horseback Riding In A Bicycle World" is no laughing matter, but rather filled with intense grooves and rattling percussion. One of the many short tracks, it comes as a short burst of winding guitar tab and heavy handed drumming. This is a punch in the stomach, with no time to brace yourself. "A Functional Tumor," by contrast, slows the tempo down to a crawl in its early stages. At this reduced pace, each separate instrument can be heard as a singular entity. But when the hammer drops, it smashes together in a proverbial car wreck of sound. Screaming vocals are the glue that holds this pile of steel and glass together, while the bass work compacts them into a cube of scrap metal. "Nurser Of Small Hurts" takes a more atmospheric approach, using electronics and effects as a set up tool. But in a three minute span, it traverses the entire artillery of sludge, with crushing guitars and devastating percussion becoming fuel on the fire. Each downstroke rattles your inner ear with a distorted scream.

If one stand out track must be identified, "Whiskey Sipper" is the one. Combining the lighter side of the spectrum with a knack for heavy musicianship, you are treated to every nuance of the genre in one five minute explosion. The flow of the vocals is encouraging, going from clean to coarse and back in a flash. The tone of the clean vocals alone will keep you going back for more. This is a deal breaker, a track that could win over the skeptical, and solidify fans for years to come. It is proof that there is depth in this subgenre, not a bunch of one trick ponies. Picking up where the previous track left off, the finale, "Underachiever," is simply brutal. A dynamic blend of screeching guitars and even more abrasive vocals, this track takes things to a heavier place. This is a bruising affair, fading to close in a sea of feedback.

There is something to be said for a band that plays their music without a trace of irony. East Of The Wall are exactly who they claim to be, taking the sludge norm and making it something new entirely. The musicianship and overall structure of each track is tailor made to what they do best: soothe, scrape and smother. With songs varying in length from two to seven minutes, they don't force themselves into a mold, but rather let each idea grow come into its own. Thanks to this forward thinking attitude, "The Apologist" will find a home in the most picky of collections.


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 28 (I've been to the future)

After the "Top 5" list last week, we elected to go for a more short, focused effort this time around. So, we skip the review process, and answer a question that has been plaguing Murmaider lately. What does the future hold for metal? What subgenre is going to carry metal into future generations? And more importantly, are the Black Veil Brides and Avenged Sevenfolds of the world going to ruin everything that metal has been thus far? Only time will tell, my friends.

Download it here, guys.
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Infinita Symphonia: The Interview

We were fortunate enough to steal some time from the entire line-up for Italian progressive power metal newcomers Infinita Symphonia. The guys answer some questions about the band, the album, "A Mind's Chronicle" and all of the pieces that led up to an "album of the year" contender. A big thanks to Daniela and the entire Infinita Symphonia camp for giving us this opportunity.

First and foremost, we want to thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us.
Your time and insight are greatly appreciated.

What is the significance of the title of your new album, "A Mind's Chronicle"? What was the inspiration behind it?

(Gianmarco Ricasoli) is not easy to isolate the crucial point that has led us to today. Personally I felt a sort of sponge that has absorbed so much water for so long and at one point I felt the physical need to throw it out. The way this came out was A Mind's Chronicle, surreal adventure in which all of us IS us reflect, as it is a bit 'the metaphor of our lives from the moment we started to believe in this project. Behind AMC is definitely a work of abstraction very high, but everything has gone from our lives, from what we've been absorbed in recent times (it is useless to deny that there are also women who have inspired part of our "news "eheheh (:).
all this giving prominence to the same inspiration, without compromise and at the same time trying to convey every emotion with his" right sound ".

The album artwork seems to tie in perfectly with the title and concept. Who created the
image, and what does it mean to you, as a band?

(Luca Micioni) The cover was realized by Davide Nadalin of clay NERVE DESIGN, which has already worked for bands like Vision Divine, Bulldozer, Extrema, Eldritch, and many others.. He was very good at starring in images just the sense of the title!

The large open space is the size of the human mind and the man crouching on the floor above our
own symbol represents the flow of all thoughts and emotions that go through your mind.

(Alberto De Felice) I think in addition that the concept the cover describes is also the 'absence from the constraints of our conception of music.

(Gianmarco Ricasoli) In reality, there is no univocal interpretation, each one of us can see what he wants, as he wishes by interpreting the meaning ... Simply enter the world represented on the cover and "look with the eyes" of the character portrayed ...

Many feel that power metal often lacks the heavier edge, and progressive metal lacks a true sense of melody. On one album, you combine the best aspects of both, without any of the flaws of either. How did you come to such a dynamic mix of heavy and heavenly?

(Gianmarco Ricasoli) It 'hard to give a definition of genre or style or pogressive power .. of .. we like to think that many different influences have helped us to create a new sound, a staff that emerges naturally in our work .... avoiding the risk of being too similar to someone else, so we hope to have created something original, we never set out to play a specific kind of metal .. it came all in a very natural.

Luca Micioni's vocals are the perfect mix of power and grace, opening many different doors for the music to enter. How does his range affect the writing process for Infinita Symphonia?

(Luca Micioni) For this album we started working in two Gianmarco and I and then we proposed the songs to the rest of the band ... Gianmarco, the guitarist, wrote all musics and then I ended them up with melodies for I think I could say that music gave me the chance to express myself with voice...and than we found we agreed the way of thinking the songs...

Your new album features collaborations with both Fabio Leone, of Rhapsody Of Fire fame, and Tim "Ripper" Owens, most famously of Judas Priest. How did these partnerships come to be?

(Luca Micioni) we asked...and they said ok!! know, that’s not so distant from the truth...we strongly wanted to have their participation on the album, and fortunately they accepted! We are so proud of this, it has been an incredible experience to have their collaboration on our first Album! To meet them,and listen at their own way to interpret our own music...was simply great!

I had the dream to duet with them..and it has been possible thanks to their being so open-minded…they are very professional but even so kind…

You guys are very young, as a band, yet you have the more polished sound of a veteran outfit. How did you avoid the freshman mistakes, and hone your sound to such an elite level?

(Luca Micioni) It is true we are very young (apart from me hahaha) but 'every one of us already did' a lot of experience with other groups before Infinita Symphonia, so 'to establish a professional relationship more' mature .. and maybe this has also influenced the sound of the band.

How does the writing process work for Infinita Symphonia? Where does the music begin, and how does it develop into the finished product, ready for inclusion on an album?

(Luca Micioni) As I have already 'mentioned earlier, we have worked on two songs on texts on music, then all the material is passed into the studio where the other band members add their ideas. when we are all convinced of the work is finished we are ready to go in the studio for recording

Who are some of your main influences at this early stage of your career? What bands or artists have made the largest impact on your sound and style?

(Gianmarco Ricasoli) Our influences are many and varied, and lately I am passionate about a lot of bands like Nevermore, Opeth, Soilwork, Avenged Sevenfold and many others ... but my passion is always Iron Maiden, Rhapsody (now of Fire), Malmsteen, Helloween, Dream Theater, i owe so much to them. But in general I like to listen to anything educational purposes.

(Luca Micioni) Our influences are very different from each other .. we like to listen to everything from metal to metal classic today,from 'hard rock to progressive .. I do not deny that I like to listen to groups that have made the metal .. thanks to them we are here today and that definitely influenced our sound.

The American music scene is consumed by the topic of downloading. Everyone has an opinion on the subject, from the bands, to the labels, to writers like us. Days ago, Scott Ian, guitarist of Anthrax, suggested that people who download music should lose all internet privileges. How do you feel about the illegal downloading of music?

(Juan Pablo Pais) It is a very difficult question to answer....Surely the internet and illegal downloading is a big threat to the world of the music industry, but 'is more' easy to be known by most 'people around the world .. this argument is obviously more valid for new bands like us, and less for the bigs...

In a recent Sorrow Eternal interview, Italian black metal artist Hartagga (of the band Ogen) said that the Italian metal scene is becoming increasingly harder to break into for a new band. Do you agree with his thought? And how have you been received by your fellow countrymen thus far?

(Alberto De Felice) There is a strange tendency in Italy...many of italian listeners often use to judge new music and new bands even before listening and knowing them really, and so are not valued enough ... I'd like that was not so

(Luca Micioni) Well .. we know there are huge bands that represent very well "our" music .. Bands that have nothing to envy to foreign groups ... then the we are very surprised to recieve a so very good critics on our debut and even from Italian public, they are helping and supporting us so much, and this is certainly a source of pride to all of us!

As we run head first into November, and on to the end of the year, what is next for Infinita
Symphonia? What does 2012 hold in store for you?

(Luca Ciccotti) yes it's true....time passes quickly.. And the of the year is near...but we are ready for the next year with some news! I will still not reveal them ,but however, I can assure you that we'll bore again and again with our music hehe ; )

Lastly, we wanted to take a moment to say that your album has positioned itself as one of our
favorites this year. It came out of nowhere, and made a lasting impression. Whatever you do
next, we believe in YOU.

(Luca Micioni) Obviously we are delighted that you enjoyed and want to thank the entire editorial
staff of Sorrow Eternal and all the fans that follow us from so far away. I hope that sooner or later we will meet! We would really like to play in front of an audience so beautiful as you and your readers .. greetings to all .. and stay metal

and stay I.S. \ m / ciao
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Kranthor - Abandoned By The Gods (2011)

As a brand new death metal band from Turkey, Kranthor definitely has some kinks that need some fixing. The band has just released their new album, entitled “Abandoned By The Gods.” It’s only six tracks long, one being an intro and one being an outro. Most of the songs run for about four to five minutes. It starts out decent but slowly gets harder and harder to listen to.

As the album begins, after an eerie intro of calm haunting guitars, the song “Treason” comes blaring in with a monstrous growl that echoes over the electrifying guitars. This growl will catch your ear immediately with its deafening sound. Unfortunately, it never gets as powerful again throughout the track. The growling vocals try to hit a higher screechy growl through most of the song and really comes no where close to it. It just sounds like a guy with a really sore crackly voice screaming into a microphone. But don’t let this discourage you. The drumming gets pretty intense throughout the track as double bass pedaling takes over most of the song and completely obliterates anything in its path. The guitar riffs are fast and constant not letting you rest for a second. There is a mean solo in the middle of the song that really shows that the lead guitarist of this band mean business. He goes straight into a high flying solo that send crazy melodic notes flying all over the place.

“When The Forsaken Spirits Awake” opens with dual guitars that are full of dirty distortion playing a dark, demonic riff that seems to be pretty catchy. However, then the guitars break into this plain riff that runs throughout the verse and honestly, will start to put you to sleep. Adding a different melody or a different instrument would have kept this track a little more refreshing. The middle of the song has a quickly little bridge that has a somewhat catchy tune. You might find yourself slowly starting to bob your head here. You’ll soon snap out of it as soon as that boring guitar riff kicks back in. The quiet guitar solo in the end is the only good part in this song and that only runs for about 20 seconds in this five minute long song. Something needs to change here.

You start to hear some pretty sick double bass pedaling in “Heathen.” The guitars are rocking pretty loud as well. Things seem like they are off to a good start until the vocals come in. The verse sounds like they took a song from Amon Amarth and tried to rerecord it as off tempo as possible. The vocals don’t match any of the guitars that are chugging in the background nor do they compare to the drum beats. It gets even worse when the guitars start to repeat this one simple riff in the middle of the song as you can clearly hear the guitars fall behind the drumming. I don’t know how anyone could have been satisfied with this performance after recording it. Somehow the solo in the end manages to keep up perfectly to drum rolls and holds somewhat of a strong finish. The solo runs up the scales repeatedly for a good amount of time. This is probably the most impressive part of this whole album.

“The Longest Night Of The King” is probably the most aggressive song on the album. It starts out slow with quiet acoustic riffs that are followed by a lightly distorted guitar. As this fades out you then run into a monstrous guitar riff that really compliments the album. After everything else that was played earlier, you wouldn’t expect such a solid guitar riff like this one. You’ll definitely want to pump your fist to this one. The growling vocals are still pretty weak throughout the song. Perhaps some heavy reverb could help out. The only other issue with this song is that they never change the melody. The same guitar riff plays through the entire song except for the last minute and this is a six minute song. A little more creativity would do the trick.

Judging by some of the performances, Kranthor definitely needs to sharpen up on some of their work. With certain rhythmic guitars sounding off and weak vocals that just keep getting weaker, they really need to step it up if they want to make it in the world of metal. Some of the song structure is there and the band definitely has some potential with their lead guitarist, but this isn‘t a band that I am rushing to see live anytime soon. “Abandoned By The Gods” needs a lot of cleaning up, both quality wise and performance wise.


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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lapis Lazuli - A Justified Loss (2011)

Swedish six piece Lapis Lazuli have followed the recipe for symphonic metal success. You start with a keyboard virtuoso, in the form of Timo Hautamaki. Surround yourself with like minded individuals, all looking to create music that is both sublime and satisfying. Add the prowess of a dynamic vocalist, such as Frida Eurenius, and you have all the makings of a classic. Combining each of those ingredients, Hautamaki and company release a new album, titled "A Justified Loss," to the world.

Blaring horns and pounding drums leave you no escape as the opening track, "Facing Demons," launches you into another world. With all of the power and finesse of a great movie score, it would be difficult to find your mind wandering to far off places. Each delicate keystroke furthers the daydream. The first distorted guitar chords appear in the opening moments of "Leaving Scars," a track that holds all of the weight of a Nightwish concerto. The keyboards and their accompanying symphonic elements are clearly the star, creating flowing soundscapes behind singer Frida Eurenius. Her voice is rich, with a very real sense of depth and emotion. Flurries of double kicks and rattling snares are offset by airy synthesizers and darting guitar notes. The male vocals, provided by Hautamaki himself, hold their own in the mix, providing a bit of contrast. It cruises to the end, vocals coming together in harmony.

The symphonic nature of the album is never felt more strongly than on "High," complete with the beautiful chanting vocals. Hautamaki adds a touch of grit to the mix, with a more ominous growling portion. The guitar work becomes more noticeable, coming to the forefront rather than simply lying in wait behind the wall of orchestral instruments. During the heavier chunks, rapid bass pedaling and dense chugging become the norm, all paired with devilish growls. Eurenius remains sublime, her voice providing the light to Hautamaki's dark. A dazzling piece of string and piano work will be sure to stick with you long after "Angel Without Wings" has ended. The lead vocal is powerful, bringing to mind the more current work of Within Temptation. The orchestral arrangements are perfect, with horns and strings locked in step with a relentless drum beat. But what manages to set this apart from other symphonic oriented bands is the use of harsh growls throughout, becoming more frightening with each moment. This is true symphonic harmony, captured in a seven minute cross section.

The more uptempo "Burning Bridges" picks up where its predecessor left off, fluttery strings and all. The keyboard element is so expertly positioned in the mix, leading without dominating. Eurenius sees her voice take the starring role, providing a vocal melody that will echo in your mind for days. The breakdown portion, heavy on the strings and keys, leads into a layered vocal attack, with numerous voices backing the main delivery. The pounding drum and cymbal outro will ensure that your fist has made it fully into the air. A somber string leads into "Alive," joined soon after by an equally melancholy piano melody. It has all the makings of a traditional metal ballad, complete with male and female vocal harmonies and lighter inducing tempo. Yes, there is certainly an almost cheesy feel to it all, but it is hard to argue with a near flawless instrumental and vocal performance. The guitar solo is the first real sign of life from the team of Karlsson and Rhodin. All things considered, this is a success, both individually and the flow of the album itself.

The electronic opening beat on "Lies" may frighten some, but it disintegrates quickly. Piano keys and darting guitar riffs immediately take over, allowing for Hautamaki to reemerge as a vocal force, first clean, then screaming. And while there isn't much variation to this effort, it is on the shorter end of the spectrum, not quite breaking the four minute mark. Its strength may well be the simplicity with which it is crafted. Even the breakdown has little lateral movement, but is played to the utmost effectiveness. Eurenius takes sole control of the vocals on "Faith Forgotten," her voice commanding the power of an army of horns and strings. The guitars have grown in their contributions, with distorted chords shaking through your speakers. Afterall, it can't always be light symphonics and keyboard. Though the finale, "Leave It All Behind" certainly begs to differ. The piano and strings are at their best, combining in a solemn show of emotion and despair. This could become the soundtrack to a walk on a rainy day.

While the world of symphonic metal is a crowded one, that hasn't stopped many a band from trying their hand at it. Lapis Lazuli do a more than adequate job of forging an identity, without rewriting the book. Their influences are worn on their sleeves, but this isn't a carbon copy of any Nightwish album. Rather, "A Justified Loss" is a step out of the shadows, looking for a moment of their own. For a band named after a semi-precious stone, this is equal to both the beauty and staying power of their namesake.


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- Hell22
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

From The Depth - Back To Life (2011)

From whispering strings and piano notes to magnificent guitar solos and booming drumming, the Italian power metal group, From The Depth, has really made an impression with their new album, entitled “Back To Life.” This is nothing but a pure symphonic masterpiece. The vocals are ravishing as you will hear a clean voice soar over breath taking guitars and exploding drum rolls throughout the entire album. Prepare to be blown away.

The album kicks off with “Back To Life” which is a short introduction that is full of beautiful stringed instruments providing you with catchy melodies that immediately grab your attention. You’re quickly knocked down with the following song, entitled “Live For Today.” Thunderous kicks and snares come rolling in carrying distorted guitar riffs on top. The tempo is quick and upbeat which will definitely make you bob your head. The vocals hit just the right notes to make the chorus catchy as hell. The lead singer shows a well balance voice that can hit high operatic notes but also lower octaves as well. The guitar solos come in towards the end of the song and will absolutely blow your mind. They throw note after note in such a quick delivery and really run up and down the scales. You’ll find more melodic solos in “Our Music Our Soul” as well. In fact, it starts out with hell raising guitar work that is just insane. And this is only the beginning. Later they include another wicked The verse contain relentless drum patterns and snapping snares that will make you flinch every time you hear them. This has another one of those catchy refrains that will just be stuck in your head for days.

“Don’t Forget Who You Are” fades in with a distorted riff with an interesting flange effect on it in the beginning. It give it that futuristic feel to the song right off the bat. They included a lot of piano riffs in the background of the verses in this one and it really provides a warm sound to the mix. As the chorus comes through, you are hit with hich flying vocals and blaring guitar riffs in the background. I couldn’t help but play this song over a couple of times. It’s that damn catchy. Afterwards the albums slows down for a few minutes with the song “Lack Of Emotions.” The slow eerie strings bring a haunting feel to the table. The depressive sounds really take you by surprise as you just started getting used to the uplifting symphonic tones. They do not include any vocals to this track however there is some soft synths and piano notes that kind of taking over the song giving off a vocal type of feel. They definitely carry a lot of dark mixed emotions in this instrumental.

Things pick right back up again with “The Will To Be The Flame.” Fast chugging guitars consume the verses while the detailed drum fills destroy everything in their way. The performance of the vocals are excellent in the chorus. The lead singer really hits some high notes in this one. “The Cruel Kindness” and “Nenia” are two beautiful ballads that you run across later in the album. They really set a balance of soothing guitars verses some of the more aggressive riffs that you have already heard. Both of these tracks are full of emotion as you will easily feel in the soft vocals alone. And the music that was written around them are beautifully crafted as well.

“Back To Life” has everything and more when it comes to a solid power metal album. The songs flow together smoothly and are well balanced between reckless guitar solos and stunning piano work. Also, the vocals were most impressive. This is definitely an album that you will want to check out. It’s good to see that there are young power metal bands that will clearly keep the genre alive.


Reverbnation Site-
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pursuing The End - Dawn Of Expiation (2011)

A fresh new band out of Italy by the name of Pursuing The End has released a new EP, entitled “Dawn Of Expiation.” It has magnificent symphonic orchestral instruments mixed with intense growling and beautiful clean vocals, both male and female as well.

The first track is called “Arterna Fuga - Prologue,” and it starts out with heavy orchestral strings that are followed with multiple vocals that are sung in different octaves and different lyrics. They all have a gorgeous operatic style to their sound and glide over the strings perfectly. After this short epic opener comes a powerful track, entitled “Followers Of The Wrong Way.” This has a lot of orchestral strings in the beginning as well along with a catchy flute in the beginning almost giving a folk like sound to the mix. The catchy melody if taken over by the female vocals where she hums hitting extremely high notes with her operatic voice. The verse contains all three vocals, clean male vocals, then the operatic female vocals, and then the aggressive deep growling vocals. Each will amaze you in their own way as you will see that they are each delivered with energy and excitement. The chorus has catchy melodic lyrics that will have you humming along immediately. The drumming is absolutely insane as you hear nothing but wild double bass pedaling throughout the entire refrain. Another key part that makes this track so incredible is the orchestral horns and strings in the bridge of the song. They music is so uplifting giving an angelic classical feel to the music. Also the vicious growls at the end completely knock you on your ass. Such a powerful way to end it.

“Call The Priest” is the third track on the EP and contains some insane organs throughout the song. More energy comes pouring out as reckless guitar solos fill the air in the middle of the track that run up and down the scales with high speeds. The chorus is full of upbeat melodies and fast drumming that will have you bobbing your head the whole time. The only issue I have with the track is that it’s barely three minutes long. It definitely had me wanting to replay it again.

The final track, “Dawn Of Expiation,” starts out with some heavily distorted guitars blasting away along with some haunting demonic strings. The drum fills are relentless the way the rolling snare constantly beats you down while the cymbals shatter all around you. The verse consists of the female vocals and the devilish growls as they go backa nd forth to each other and sometimes even layering on top of each other giving a strong beauty and the beast feel. The refrain is a bit weaker than the other songs as they female vocals aren’t as operatic as they usually are. Also the melody is a little more depressive and not as uplifting as the other tracks were. More monstrous growling comes in and out keeping the track interesting and constantly changing. You never know what you’re going to get next with this group. Even the male vocals come in later in the song and sing along with the female vocals. You’re hit with more impressive orchestral strings and melodies and booming drumming as the song slowly comes to an end.

If you enjoy the symphonic styles of Rhapsody Of Fire then Pursuing The End is definitely a band worth checking out. “Dawn Of Expiation” has some solid clean recordings of some very impressive vocals that soar over the electrifying guitars and strings. I am looking forward to where this band goes with there music.


Myspace -
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Waster - Thunder Pit (2011)

Winnipeg has a lot to celebrate, with the return of their NHL franchise, The Jets, and five Blue Bombers being named to the CFL All-Star team. Then, in our ever-expanding list of Canadian bands on the rise, you'll find Waster. This five piece band is picking up where some classic bands started, following in the footsteps of Pantera in both sound and style. But this isn't a knockoff band. These guys have an attitude all their own, one that is sure to get some fists in the air with "Thunder Pit."

The title track, "Thunder Pit," starts things off with a bang. There is an obvious guitar groove here, and the vocals will certainly draw comparison to the late Lynn Strait. Nick Wiebe shows some impressive delivery, especially when backed by a true stomp-inducing musical track. Short and to the point, this one is a great way to kick things off. The band's first single, "Rocket Rider," is equally catchy in its scope, with guitars chugging up and down the scales. The breakdown section is a classic, complete with screaming vocals from Wiebe. An unfortunate mixing issue buries a tremendous solo in the outro portion, one that is barely audible in the sea of distortion. Listen closely, though, and you get a taste of the talent this band has to offer.

There is no subtlety in "Highabetic," a track reminscient of a track from Snot's lone album, "Get Some." This one is a high flying affair, going 0 to 60 in a flash, with no chance of relenting. Even as the short breakdown kicks in, the riffs are fast and furious. The dynamic mix of punk and thrash suits the band well, and they construct a whirlwind of sound, finished by another ripping solo. The southern guitar tinge that opens "Forty Creek & 40 Speed" could be a lost Pantera track, and Wiebe certainly has the chops to pull it off well. Musicianship is tight, even if the mix gives you the impression otherwise. The guitars sound muddy at times, if not a little bit too dominant, but the idea is in the right place.

Don't worry about the name choice on "Techno Rollercoaster," there aren't any house beats to be found here. Just good, hard edged, distorted guitar metal. The riffs are catchy, the vocals are gritty and the rhythm section holds their own up against the wall of sound. A little tweaking of the levels, and this one could be a hit. This remains the theme throughout the rest of the disc, with the production work being the only rough spot to be had. Whether it be the thrasing "So Devil" or the slower paced "Slumberjack," these guys do it all with gusto, keeping your head in a state of constant motion. The latter, in particular, is a blissful minute and 45 seconds of distorted glory.The Pantera influence comes into play in the later set of tracks, beginning with "Powerburner." Channeling his inner Phil Anselmo, Wieber's voice is the perfect compliment to the heavier, but down tempo fret work on display here. This is, arguably, the heaviest track on the album, choosing to rely on more groove oriented guitars to drive things forward.

But in the blink of an eye, you are back to light speed with "Whiskey Woman," and there is no way to save yourself now. Prepare for a case of whiplash, combined with the spontaneous formation of mosh pits in your home or car. Dueling guitars provide a great layered attack, one with the ability to go from fast to slow without skipping a beat. One of the more well rounded songs on the album, this one has something for everyone. The album ends with the longest track, the six minute "Tongue Cancer," which sees the band harnessing the style most typically known as "stoner metal," hitting all the deep, rich guitar riffs in a smoldering heap of southern fury. These Canadians might do southern metal better than the southern bands themselves.

You aren't going to find very much lateral movement in the music, but it isn't about time signatures and music theory with Waster. Track after track, there is something that will get your head moving. Whether it be the catchy riffs, or the party till you drop pacing, you are sure to find something to love. "Thunder Pit" may not change the way you listen to music. It may remind you of bands, past and present, like Snot, Pantera or Down. And, when it's all said and done, is that a bad thing?


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our 5 Favorite Metal Albums Of All Time

Since starting this site, we have often discussed which albums would be considered our "favorites." Everyone seems to think it should be easy to narrow down to the field to five choices. Hell, we thought it would be. After a lot of debating, discussing and thought, Hell22 and Murmaider have made their respective decisions. Here, ladies and gentlemen, are our 5 favorite albums of all time. They may not be the GREATEST metal albums ever. They may not even be the best albums by these bands. But these are the ones that have stuck with us, and are always on standby.

Part 1-


Draconian - Arcane Rain Fell
Avantasia - The Scarecrow
Mastodon - Crack The Skye
Nightwish - Dark Passion Play
Opeth - Watershed


Opeth - Ghost Reveries
Katatonia - The Great Cold Distance
Swallow The Sun - Hope
Dimmu Borgir - Abrahadabra
Avantasia - The Scarecrow
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Morito Ergo Sum: The Interview

This week, Paolo Cito of Sweden's Morito Ergo Sum gives us an immense amount of pleasure with a fascinating look at his band, the music they have created, and a disturbing and disheartening fact about Sweden that no one could have seen coming.

First and foremost, we want to thank you for taking the time out to answer some questions about your work.

It's a pleasure, specially because this is the band's first official interview!

The band name, Morito Ergo Sum, is a derivative of the famous phrase "cogito ergo sum," (I think, therefore I am) coined by Rene Descarte. What was your thought process in choosing this as the name for your project?

I “stole” that idea from my wife. She used it as a nickname on her email address and in a few online forums. She is a big Doom Metal fan, and it was she who actually planted the seed in my head about making my own Doom band. I thought the name sounded really Metal, and fitted perfectly that style of music, so I asked her permission to use it.

I just want to remind that this is not exactly the correct way to say I die, therefore I am in Latin. The right way would be Morior Ergo Sum, but using “morito” makes it sound even more like Descarte's phrase.

As your project began to take shape, what was the overall vision for the band, your music, and the direction you wanted to take the doom genre?

I wanted to do something that was a little different from what was out there in the Doom scene. The first thing that I wanted was a really depressive feeling. I began to listen to all the Doom Metal bands I could find on MySpace (when it was still a good and fun site to look for music), and I noticed that more than 80% of all Doom bands there used only growled vocals. The others used mixed growled and clean vocals. Apart from the already known names, I thought that all the newer bands sounded very similar to each other. It was always the same type of songwriting, with the growls over it. I had difficulties to recognize different bands just by listening to them in a shuffled play list. There were basically no bands playing a really slow and heavy music using nothing more than a good, clean-singing vocalist. The only ones I can recall being the exceptions are Warning and Akelei.

That was around the time when My Dying Bride released For Lies I Sire. I was also listening almost non-stop to Celtic Frost's Monotheist.

So, all this together shaped the initial idea for Morito Ergo Sum.

I don't think I wanted to take the doom genre anywhere. That would need some really revolutionary approach, and all I did was take away the growls from an already known formula. And we are not the first band to do that... I just realized there was a niche for that kind of sound. And, ultimately, that was what I wanted to listen to!

How did Walter Basile come into the fold? How did you meet, and when did you know he was the right man for the job?

Walter contacted me via an online add I put when I was looking for musicians. He presented himself as a drummer. The thing is, when he contacted me the first time, I had already other members in the group. Actually, I had a full band back then, with a drummer, me on the bass, a lead guitarist and a singer who also played the rhythm guitar! So I explained to Walter we already had a drummer, but that the guy was still in a “test” period, and that I would get back to him if necessary.

That line up only lasted 2 or 3 months. The main problem was that the drummer we had was used to play Death Metal and Grindcore, so he had some difficulties on the slower parts. At that time the songs were a little different, they had much more faster parts, and Bolt Thrower was also one of the influences I had added to the mix. Another issue was that the other 2 guitarists had a really different musical background than me, and they were not used at all with the style. So after a while the songs started to sound really different from what I wanted.

So I decided to stop everything and start over. I fired the drummer, and invited the other 2 members to leave MES and form a new band, so I could try to find the right musicians for MES. That's how my other band, Blood Of My Soul, was born.

Then I contacted Walter again asking if he was still interested in trying the drums. But he was still in the process of moving to Sweden (actually he was not 100% sure yet if he was going to stay here or not), so, he had no drum kit he could use for a test. He didn't even had some cymbals and a double pedal, needed if you rent a rehearsal room with a drum kit included. While we were trying to figure out how to test him, he showed me his YouTube page,where he had uploaded just for fun some covers as a singer. When I listened to them, specially his interpretation of Bathory's Man of Iron, I realized that he had a really nice voice, and asked him if he was interested in trying out as a vocalist. He promptly accepted the challenge, and after a few days he sent me some really rough recordings of him singing 2 songs: one from Tiamat and one The Foreshadowing. It was then I knew he could be Morito Ergo Sum's singer!

At the release of your first demo/EP, "I Die, Therefore I Am," the band had a mere two members. What was the process like recording such an ambitious EP with only two people?

There is a funny story about that demo: it was not supposed to be a demo! The original idea was just to take the 2 complete songs we had and put them on MySpace, so it would help us to find the other members for the band. Just so people could listen to real songs, instead of the instrumental parts that were uploaded there in the beginning.

There was actually no ambition at all!

When I started to record the guitars for good, I realized that the songs sounded really nice! Until that moment I had just made some raw and loosely played recordings, so me and Walter got really excited about the quality of what was being built and decided to release a demo instead.

So, I programmed some basic drum tracks, and recorded the guitars and bass during my free time in the weekends, and during the mornings on weekdays, before I went to work. Then I sent everything to Walter, who was back in Italy on vacations, and he added all the nice details on the drums, and recorded the vocals. Then, when he came back from Italy, we did the mixing/mastering together here at my place. In that same day we recorded the violins with an invited local musician. The mixing/mastering was a process that took 10 hours, so Walter had to sleep over. The next morning, when we heard the final product with fresh ears, we were amazed with the results!

Looking back at that offering, it was a very stripped down group of songs; no solos, and only a basic framework of what was to come. How do you think it stands up to the initial vision you had for the project?

The reason there were no solos is because I was still learning to play the guitar hehehe! I am originally a bass player, and that demo was recorded only 6 months after I bought my first guitar, a 40 Euros used Cort Zenox, from a guy from my work! So I obviously could not do solos (and I still can't). So, part of that simplicity is due to the fact I was still finding my ways around the 6 strings.

Anyway, all the initial ideas, sounds and atmosphere are there. That's why I said we were amazed with the results: it was basically what we expected to sound like. And it was extremely close to what my original vision was. Already at that point I felt a great sense of fulfillment. Even if the band had stopped there, artistically I was already happy.

At what point did you decide that more members had to be added to the band for you to complete your sound? How did the current line-up of musicians come together?

I never wanted this to be only a project. I wanted a band, a real band! So, from the very first day, apart from writing songs, my main concern was to find the other members.

And I knew I needed a particular kind of singer, and that was the biggest issue, because I could not write the songs properly without knowing how the singer sounds like.

Before I met Walter, and even before the band had it's first line-up, I tested lots of people. Unfortunately, contrary to what many people think, it's not easy to play Doom Metal! It's really a challenge for many musicians, even experienced ones, to play properly that slow.

Our plan with the demo, as I said, was to help to find the right people to join us, And I can say that plan worked! I think it was only one or two months after we released it, I got my first contact with Pablo (Magallanes). He somehow heard the demo and left us a very positive comment on the band's MySpace. When I replied to his comment, I saw that he was a guitarist living in Stockholm, and that he was looking for a band. So I asked if he was interested in give it a try. We met for a small test in my apartment, and I was instantly blown away by his playing! He has not only and incredible feeling, but is also extremely technical.

About that same time I was contacted by a bassist called Alexander Teklemariam. He was really young, so we keep him in the band for about 4 or 5 months, in a sort of test period. But in the end we felt he was still very inexperienced, and some of his skills still needed to be better developed. So, when it came the time to start the pre-production rehearsals for Moonchild, we decided it would be better to find another bassist. That's when Mike Wead came to help by suggesting his long time friend Harry Virtanen to the post. Harry is also Mike's guitar technician when he is on tour with King Diamond, so even before we tested him we already kinda knew things were going to be fine!

Walter still provides the drums for the band, even after numerous attempts to get a full time drummer. Did you ever think it would be so hard to find a drummer that could fill the seat behind the kit?

I am glad you asked this question, because there is something people outside Sweden must know: it is EXTREMELY hard to find musicians that want or can play Doom Metal here! Things are not how they used to be 10 or 15 years ago. The interest for this style is close to zero, and to find musicians who can play this, or that are not already committed in other known bands, it's almost impossible. Hence the fact there are no swedes in Morito Ergo Sum! We are all immigrants here, including our bassist Harry, who is born in Finland.

Even Messiah Marcolin himself was shocked by this reality when he failed trying to find us a drummer. And keep in mind that it took me 2 years of active searching to get to this line-up we have now!

It seems to be only a handful of people who actually supports the Doom Metal scene here. We got absolutely no support from the Swedish underground media (sites and zines) when we released the Demo, and I still haven't received any feedback from them regarding the release of Moonchild... nothing! Zero! And that is crazy when you think how big bands from Sweden are outside the country. Memory Garden, just to name one example, is quite known in Greece, they play there all the time, but they are barely known in their own land. Shame on you Sweden!

The new EP shows a tremendous amount of growth from the previous one, from the songwriting to the recording itself. Give us a little insight into the writing and recording process, and how your vision came to life in these 4 songs.

Well, basically I record some riffs ideas, sometimes only individual riffs, sometimes riffs and melodies I write at the same time, then try to put the ones that I feel that work together in a kind of skeleton of a song. Then I start to add a few details, and show it to Walter so he can help me with the structure of the song. Then I send him vocal ideas so he can test them and we decide if they sound good or not.

In the meantime I use to do some simple home demos and send to the others so they can get familiar with the new songs, and specially to Pablo, so he can work on the solos, and come with ideas. All the amazing solos you hear on the Ep are written by him!

Behind These Tears was one of the first songs I wrote for MES. It almost was included in our first Demo, but I am glad we didn't because some parts were a little different before, and the vocals were totally re-written for the Ep. It sounds much better now!

This Selfish Act was almost left out the Ep, because we couldn't find vocal melodies for the verses that were up to our standards. I think I sent 5 or 6 different variations to Walter to try out, but none of them were good enough. Then, once day, I had this idea of changing the guitars for the verses, and everything came together naturally. But that was by far the most difficult song me and Walter worked with. At one point we were even considering doing it as an instrumental piece! Also, it contains some really old riffs, from one Death/Doom band I played with when I was still living in Brazil, back in '94.

When The Grass Grows Over Me is the newer song of that bunch. The basic idea for it is a little over one year old, but the whole song was written I a very short period of time.

The recording process was very intense. We only had 3 months to rehearse these songs
together as a band with Walter on drums, and only 4 days to record them.

1 week before we entered the studio, we found out that we could not use the drum-kit we thought we were going to use. Fortunately our bassist Harry found someone who could borrow us the drums. But that kit had no cymbals, so Harry found another person who borrowed us them. Then we needed to buy new skins, which Walter did. But the skin for one of the toms had the wrong size, and we realized that only the day before we started to record. Once again, Harry miraculously found a spare skin somewhere that would fit that tom. And that was at 11 o'clock in the night! From that day on we started to call him Salvatore (the savior)!

The rest of the recordings went as usual. Kudos to Pablo, who came with some really nice ideas on the spot, and for our sound technician Mike Wead, for all his patience and good work!

The title track of the EP, "Moonchild" is a cover of a King Crimson classic. What led you to cover a song of any sort, and specifically a King Crimson track?

It is always cool to play covers, specially when you are a new band and have a limited repertoire. But for me it's important to not make just a carbon copy of the song you are covering. You have to put the band's personality in that song, and make it interesting.

I always was a fan of King Crimson, since I was 14-15 years old, and their debut album “In The Court Of The Crimson King”, is, in my opinion, one of the best albums in history of music! It always fascinated me how dark, sad, even depressive, those songs are.

So I started to listen to that album in the search for a song to cover. First I was working on the song “Epitaph”, but the version I made was way too epic, and I wanted something more melancholic, something that would fit Morito Ergo Sum's sound. Then, when I tried “Moonchild”, it was one of those moments! The whole song came alive instantly! And at the same time I noticed how Greg Lake's voice was incredibly similar to Walter's voice in that song. It was a no brainer. Then Pablo added the solo, improved the melody you hear at the end of the solo, and added that trippy clean guitar at the very end.

After a few attempts that were not up to the quality you were looking for, Martin Powell (formerly of My Dying Bride) recommended Elle Torry to provide the real violin for the EP. What can you say about Elle, working with her for the tracks, and how her finished product sounds to you now?

Elle is great! When Martin recommended me her, I knew right away it was going to work, because, well, she was recommended by Martin Powell, the guy is a legend! Plus, I listened to her other works, not only as a violinist but as a guitarist also. Say no more! I was so confident that I deliberately gave her almost no instructions! All I did was to send the violin melodies I had made using some cheap midi plug-in, and told her I wanted those exact melodies and notes, but with the “human factor”. And she totally nailed! She did the recordings in only 2 hours, and the whole process – from the first e-mail contact to the sending of the final files - took only 4 days.

She was also kind enough to put my mind to rest by sending a clip of one of the songs while she was still in the studio recording. I had told her about all the problems I had to find a violinist, about all the people I contacted and just let me waiting to, at the end, give all kind of excuses to not do the job, or simply never answering back my e-mails, so she wanted to assure me everything was going to be alright.

All I can say is that she played exactly what I had in my mind! I couldn't have asked for a better result!

With the EP now complete and the release date come and gone, how do you feel about the four tracks you have given to the world? Are you happy with the finished product?

Absolutely! I was already happy when we listened to everything while still in the studio, when Mike did a very quick mix to show us at the end of the last day of recordings. I had goosebumps then! The songs sounded exactly as I imagined!

What is your plan for the future of Morito Ergo Sum? What can we expect from the band musically in the future, and when can we expect to see a tour in support of the new material?

I would love to continue to do this kind of music, so I want to keep things going. I think this band have even more to show, but is not an easy task to make all the moving parts to work as one... We had a band meeting a few days before the release of the Ep where we discussed what we would do from now on. And also how we could start doing gigs, because that's what we want the most. All I can say is that we will try to move some things around internally in the band so we can achieve that. I don't know if we will manage to do what we planned, so I can't tell you any more details at the moment!

Musically I think things will only get heavier and slower, and I am not kidding! I already have a couple of ideas that will probably become new songs, but I also want to make the other guys in the band to come with their contributions, as it already started to happen recently.

Thank you again for the time and support. We appreciate the opportunity to ask these questions, and we hope success is in your future!

 Thank you for all the support you guys gave us! I really enjoined this interview!
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Sypherion - Flames Of The Immortal Heart (2011)

Occasionally you run into those bands who are full of potential but are held back by their vocalists. Well Sypherion is a perfect example. The symphonic progressive metal band from Spain has released their debut album, entitled “Flames Of The Immortal Heart.” It’s a rollercoaster of a ride as you’re lifted by its wild musical sounds and catchy riffs but then dropped into disappointment with its flat and boring female vocals. Perhaps some auto tune would do the job.

“God Of War” has some incredible guitar riffs throughout the song and the melodies are heavy and catchy as well. The drums are another huge part that really jumps out as they hit you with lot of double bass pedaling and complex fills. When the male vocals kick in with the first verse, your kind of expecting some sort of high power metal voice seeing as how the music is so epic. That’s not the case here. The vocals are instead, low clean vocals performed with a harsh voice. It gets better with the chorus as a higher, more uplifting voice enters with catchy melodic lyrics. Meanwhile symphonic strings consume that background along with heavy chugging guitar riffs. The second verse starts out similar to the first with the rough clean vocals and aggressive behind them. Just as you’re starting to get used to this, a high pitched female vocal comes in and completely throws things off. These are not the angelic vocals you would expect to hear but instead are rather stale. Her voice just sounds flat and plain. Also the deliver sounds like it was sung by a robot. You won’t find any emotion from the female vocals. The track is saved with a hell raising guitar solo hitting high and low notes all over the place.

Unfortunately the female vocals are used a lot in the next song, entitled “Visions Of The Soul.” It looks like there’s just no escaping it. On a positive note, melodic guitars come rolling in with catchy tunes layered with snapping snares that’ll have you rocking out with your devil horns. You’re also met with a wick guitar solo towards the end along with lots of double bass pedal action. As far as the vocals go, they try to use some filter effects on her voice but really just makes her sound that much worse. The use this effect in “Flames Of Osiris” as well only on both her and the male vocals too. The symphonic opening makes you feel right at home especially with all of the monstrous guitar chugging and machine gun drum fills. In fact, the drumming in this track is remarkable. The speed and perfect timing of each kick is phenomenal. Definitely check this track out.

“Immortal Dreams” has got some epic strings that open with catchy guitar riffs chugging behind them. The verses consist of more of the female vocals however they don’t sound as flat as they did in earlier songs. She hit’s the notes pretty how but still lacks the energy in her performance. The distortion in the guitars is the only thing that really keeps this song alive and kicking. The album does however end with a decent closing track. The song is called “Inside My Sorrow.” It starts with gorgeous horns and catchy drumming. The female vocals enter in the verse and actually sound pretty descent. It’s definitely the best delivery on the album. Even the chorus sounds great. The lyrics are catchy and the guitars give it an uplifting feel. If there’s one track you don’t want to miss, it’s this one.

Clearly there are a lot of ups and downs to “Flames Of The Immortal Heart.” Musical the album is pretty good. The balance of strings and synths compared to the heavy guitar riffs really keep the album running smoothly. The only issue that is hit or miss is the female vocals. They sound off key at first but slowly get better throughout the album. A little more energy and emotion would be nice though. I think that if Sypherion works on their vocals they will have much better potential in the future.


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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grey November - The Fall Of the House Of Usher (2011)

Fans of doom, rejoice! The French two piece known as Grey November have a new album, one that boasts such a stunning contrast, that it can only be described as "romantic doom." How those two words fit together may seem a mystery to many, including myself, but this effort, spearheaded by Cedric Seyssiecq, is an education. Based on the Edgar Allen Poe story of the same name, "The Fall Of The House Of Usher" is a mere 90 minutes of near flawless writing and execution.

Our story begins with an howling wind, as synthesizers take hold of "A Dull, Dark, and Soundless Day In The Autumn Of The Year." Strings and keys set an immediate mood, creating an atmosphere of darkness and pain. As vocalist Marieke Delanghe makes her first appearance, you will be immediately struck by the power and emotional weight in her voice. Each and every note will lift you up, and let you float back down to earth. the pounding of the kick drum keeps the momentum building, allowing Seyssiecq to deliver a short spoken passage in his ominous tone. The track builds, only to fade away in a sea of synthesizers. The story of our narrator's boyhood friend, "Roderick Usher" follows, with a heavier hand on the drums. Crashing cymbals sizzle throughout, bookended by Delanghe's heavenly voice, and Seyssiecq's dark one. A clean acoustic guitar plays the melody, light and airy, over a crackling fire. The explosion of percussion that followsn is as dynamic as any you will find in the doom genre today. Intertwined with thunderstorms and synthesizers, the drums and distorted guitars will chill you to your core. Therein lies the true genius of a composition like this one, the ability to elicit an emotional response. The guitar solo work is haunting, played with surgical precision but a deft hand.

"Lady Usher"is precisely the kind of track that comes to mind when dealing with the "romantic doom" tag. The instrumentation echoes the traditional symphonic doom style, but with a more pronounced female presence, one that Delanghe fills beautifully. She manages to perform in the slow-paced way that defines the genre, but her voice doesn't waver or falter. Instead, it becomes progressively more powerful with each passing moment. her soft whispers are ghostly in nature, as if she is speaking directly into your ear. The drums and guitar work are minimal, but that is not to say they are inconsequential. Each beat of the snare, each thud on the kick and each tap of a cymbal finds a home in the air around you. The artistic nature of music can be exemplified here, and Seyssiecq takes that quality to new heights. The following track, a short four minute interlude is one that may leave you checking under your bed when things go bump in the night. One long synthesized note runs through, tracing the footsteps and motions of a lone figure. It is a choice of both form and function, keeping the mood dark, but furthering the story through use of effects and weather.

The aptly titled "Requiem" follows, with a absolutely stunning mix of orchestrated string, synths and clean, acoustic guitar tones. Seyssiecq's low, bass heavy voice speaks, the only disruption of the beauty that occupies the background. His breathy passages create an aura of pure morose, down to the last whisper. His final exhaled leads directly into the next track, "La Chute de La Maison Usher," with a building kick drum taking over where the spoken word left off. Delanghe reenters, taking the low rumble of distorted guitars and drums, and giving it a sublime twist. Her voice shines through the darkest of night, enchanting but melancholy. The musical performance, complete with claps of thunder, is perfectly played, layering each sound on top of one another with an even hand and impeccable timing. The occassional raucous burst of drums keep you on a constant rollercoaster of emotion, leading the charge of dark guitar riffs. But nothing can prepare you for the all out thrashing that follows, blast beats and double kicks shaking you from side to side. Machine gun snares and crashing cymbals do all they can to beat and batter you, while those airy synths and strings try to calm your nerves. That sultry female voice coddles you, and puts your mind at ease.

The twenty minute epic that is "Epilogue" lives up to it's name, with over three minutes of simple pattering rain and light synths opening the track. Even as the guitars enter, strings bending and notes blaring, the track has merely just begun. A pulsing drum beat pounds out a steady time structure, and the layers begin to build around it. Part one fades, welcoming a second wrinkle, a synthesizer to accompany Delanghe in her solemn spoken words. Calamity ensues, with the entire story unfolding in the background. The rain is falling, thunder rumbling, and the voices of all involved heard on top of it all. This is masterful storytelling, something that metal has relied on for as long as the genre has been in existence.

There are few words that can described what Grey November have achieved on this one ambitious album. Each note, each spoken word shares a sense of longing and despair, an emotional weight that will rest on your shoulders long after the music has stopped. Through Marieke Delanghe's voice, sadness flows. Few albums come to mind that have the ability to affect change in your emotional state, but "The Fall In The House Of Usher" is one of them. Cedric Seyssiecq may have done Poe proud; or he may have outdone the man himself.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nimbatus - Transitions (2011)

The one man band from Germany, Nimbatus, is back with more captivating work. The new EP, “Transitions,” has recently been released and I must say, Nimbatus has really out done him self this time. In these four tracks you are met with some of his best work to date. Ravishing guitar riffs and destructive drums rolls will blow your mind. The constant change in tempo and the adding of different layers of guitars keep you hooked from track to track. Also the recording quality is excellent.

The EP kicks off with an nine minute song, entitled “Entering The Path.” Simple kick and snare patterns greet you with quiet guitar notes that give off an eerie chill down your spine. The lead guitar steps in soon after playing as if it were a lead vocal. The notes are calm and melodic yet provide a heavy feel with its distortion and reverb. The structure is phenomenal as the melody stays repetitive and as different guitar sounds jump in and out keeping you glued to your seat. Heavier, more aggressive guitars enter later in the song adding a demonic sound to the music. The lead guitar really hypnotizes you into the track as you fall deeper and deeper into the notes. Although most of the drumming in the song has been pretty basic so far, they really start to pick up in the last three minutes of the song. The rolls become more complicated mixing rapid toms and snares together as they are connected with smashing cymbals in the background. This is definitely the part where you get your devil horns pumping! The chugging guitar riffs in the final minute really end the song with a bang as they are accompanied by quick double bass pedaling.

“Moments Of Uncertainty” fades in with a melodic guitar riff that is quickly join by exploding drums fills. The track really picks up with aggressive and monstrous instruments. It’s got quick guitar chugging that completely beat you into the ground while a wild lead guitar grabs you and lifts you back up. The drumming throughout this eight minute track is insane. The patterns change up fast and often along with the speed of the tempo. The middle of the track slows down with lighter drums and haunting guitar riffs with some interesting distortion on top. Later enters monstrous guitars that are layered with reckless notes playing over them. And to really push things over the edge, the song includes a wicked guitar solo that will make you cream your pants! The way they run up and down the scale and manage to keep the tempo running smoothly is awesome. Make sure you pay close attention to the drums as well. The fills are absolutely stunning.

Power full guitar riffs open up “Forever Lost” knocking you flat on your ass. Chugging distorted chords fly at you one by one completely destroying the atmosphere around you. The drums are blasting away with snapping kicks and snares leaving you breathless. The tempo is slow through most of the song however, when you arrive around the last two minutes of the track, the energy picks up as a wall of massive guitars come crumbling down on you. Double bass pedal drumming comes rolling in along with huge waves of echoing cymbals. The guitar riffs have dark and powerful tones and really leave you wanting more. This is definitely the loudest song out of the four.

Calm flutes start off the final track, entitled “Awakening Hour.” This is soon met with electrifying guitars and heavy bass lines. The drum patterns stay unique as they are constantly changing up and adding lots of detail within each fill. Crushing riffs blast away violently keeping you bobbing your head with the snare drum. Eventually The lead guitar takes over with wicked effects and catchy melodies. Meanwhile another guitar chugs away in the background along with relentless drum patterns that constantly pound away at you. This will definitely make you want to hit the “replay button” again.

Nimbatus continues to show off his incredible talent and hard work with this EP. “Transitions” shows a little more darker and mysterious side of the band and is still able to express emotion through instrumental form. I can only imagine what some of these song would sound like live. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this EP.


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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ravenland - Memories (EP) (2011)

After all the trials and tribulations that 14 years in the business can throw at them, Ravenland are still making it happen. The "Memories" EP, the follow up to 2009's "...And A Crow Brings Me Back," sees the band with only one original member, band mastermind Dewindson Wolfheart. But the turnover hasn't stunted the band's growth, instead driving their sound to new, more well rounded places. With three songs and a cover in tow, this Brazilian five piece hopes you like what they've become.

The opening track, "Regrets 2001," begins with airy electronics fading from right to left. The guitars are energetic, pushed along by a battery of percussion. Chugging guitars are layered with clean notes, played in rapid succession. But as the music quiets, mainman Dewindson Wolfheart displays a style of vocal delivery that could only be described as "unique." He seems to struggle keeping his lyrics and pitch in harmony, a problem that does not plague backing vocalist Tatiana Berke. Her touch helps to carry the track at times, giving glimpses of light. The bass line is ferocious, and certainly the highlight, musically.

The title track, "Memories," has all of the muddled tone and tempo of a nu-metal era hit in the opening stages. There is no denying the talent in the musicianship, but the stripped down and simplistic nature of the song only hides it. The use of synthesizers is the perfect compliment to Berke, who takes a stronger lead on this track. Wolfheart again seems to struggle when singing solo, but is aided by his female counterpart on and off. The guitar solo that occupies the breakdown is exactly what the doctor ordered. As the fretwork ends, a blistering bass line grabs some much deserved attention. The later vocal passages could be taken as evidence that this band could benefit from a larger female role, and reduced male vocal.

An interesting decision follows, with a cover of "Fire In The Sky," a track from Ozzy Osbourne's "No Rest For The Wicked." And while this holds up to the original in the instrumental sense, Wolfheart's vocals are unfortunately flat. Even when compared to modern day Ozzy, he fails to capture the pitch and tone necessary to make this an effective effort. Tackling one of the Godfathers of modern metal is a tough task, but one that the band itself does with relative ease. The guitars are blissful, running up and down the scales with finger wizardry that would make Randy Rhodes proud. The bass is strong, but more importantly fluid. Even the mix on the song should be commended, producing a very even flow from all sides.

Finally, the acoustic guitars bring the EP to a close with a delicate rendition of "Memories," one that allows Berke to fully shine through. Her voice is certainly made for this type of track, chasing the melody with the utmost beauty and grace. The role reversal finds Wolfheart providing backing vocals, a role he fills much stronger than the lead. The depth of sound the band achieves in an acoustic setting is extraordinary, not losing the bass sound that is often an afterthought in a song of this nature. Each piece comes together in a pleasing way, including the appearance of some piano and string work. Perhaps this could be a sign of what is to come.

All in all, an EP like this one is rarely more than a chance to try a new direction in a safe setting. There isn't a whole lot of lateral movement here, instead seeing Ravenland expand on an existing formula. The losses and additions over the last few years have helped to shape the band in their current form, and will certainly continue to do so in future endeavors. And while "Memories" isn't a revelation, it is proof that Dewindson Wolfheart and his grandiose ideas aren't finished yet.


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