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Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: Betrayal - Infinite Circles

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

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

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

Written by Nikola Milošević

Betrayal Official Website
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Review: Alcest - Kodama

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

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

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

Written by Frank van Drunen

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Review: Wedingoth - Alone In The Crowd

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mesmerizing stuff!

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

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

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

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

Written by Manos Xanthakis

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Review: Across The Burning Sky - The End Is Near

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

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

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

Written by Julia Obenauer

Across The Burning Sky Facebook

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review + giveaway: Manu Armata - All I Have

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

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

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

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

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

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


Written by Alessandro

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Interview: Nothing Lies Beyond

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

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

Hey, thanks for the opportunity first of all!

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

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

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

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

The band was formed over the Internet actually.

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

How did you come up with the band name?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which band(s) inspires you and your songwriting?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for doing the interview!

Nothing Lies Beyond Facebook

Review: Truckfighters - V

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Written by Joost van der Leij

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