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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review: NordWitch - Mørk Profeti


NordWitch is a five-piece melodic blackened death metal band that was formed in February 2015. Initially they were a Ukrainian/Hungarian band, but right after the recordings for their debut album called ‘Mørk Profeti’, which translates as ‘Dark Prophecy’, were completed, drummer Donets Stepan, Hungary’s sole representative in NordWitch was replaced by Eugene Hrulev, making NordWitch an all Ukrainian band. According to themselves, the members are not new to the metal scene, they all have previous experiences with other bands, but what bands that have been remains unknown. However, judging by the skills they showcase on ‘Mørk Profeti’ it’s safe to say NordWitch is not their first project.

So who is NordWitch exactly? Well, apart from Eugene, NordWitch consists of Max on solo guitar, Leo on rhythm guitar, Max Senchilo on bass guitar and last, but not least: Masha on vocals. If I hadn’t known for a fact Masha is female, I would never have guessed based on her vocal performance. Where many female grunters can easily be identified by the lack of depth and vibration in their grunts, causing them to be higher pitched than those of their male counterparts, Masha, well, grunts like a dude and that’s a compliment. NordWitch’s inspiration comes from satanism, occultism and ancient Scandinavian mythology. Having their debut album lined up for release soon, they are now planning a European tour to support it. Let’s see if their music justifies trying to get a ticket.

‘Mørk Profeti’ starts pretty straight-forward with the title song, an instrumental, atmospheric piece of music. It’s not particularly original, but that really doesn’t matter. Not even a bit. In my opinion, every intro, apart from those that are part of a conceptual release, should be meant to set the tone for the rest of the album and that is exactly what this one does. It starts with howling guitars, giving the song a sinister feel to it, where towards the end it appears to be specifically set up to give you an idea of where this album will take you music-wise. The next song, ‘Dominion’, introduces Masha’s grunts to the listener, which are an impressive addition to the overall sound. Furthermore, it proves to be a perfect example of the sound NordWitch manages to conjure up on ‘Mørk Profeti’: Versatile, skilled, often changing pace and at times brutal, but always with a melodic and sometimes evil touch.

Masha’s grunts have already been discussed, they’re right up there with the best. She is capable of deep, soul-tearing grunts as well as more possessed sounding growls without being too predominant, very well displayed in, for example, ‘Lady Evil’. The guitar tandem Max-Leo sounds as if they have been a team since their birth, a very well attuned duo. Leo’s riffs are firm and solid, guarding the pace of the song, while Max’s solo work flies loose but fierce, always kicking in at the right moment, adding to the flow of the song. Try ‘Walker from Shade’ for size or ‘The Call to the Antion Evil’. And then there’s the rhythm section. Relentless, breathtakingly fast without ever spiraling out of control, truly a performance that deserves nothing but deep respect. Try keeping up with them in ‘No Regret’ or ‘Messiah of Death’, I’m certain you’ll be seriously challenged.

All in all, ‘Mørk Profeti’ is an awesome piece of work, with some truly great tunes. Both the songs and the compositions are equally strong and played with skill. Even the more or less mandatory oddball almost every new release has, ‘Mørk Profeti’ is no exception to that rule, fits in. In this case that oddball is the majestic ‘To North Gods’, with its relatively slow pace and more friendly atmosphere a soothing touch amidst the power of the rest of the album. This too is a great song, although it fading out at the end seems out of place. And that right there is the album’s only flaw in my opinion, be it a minor one. That and the fact it has a playing time of only 38 minutes. I really wish it would have lasted at least double that time. If they can keep this up, with the new drummer and all, NordWitch is a definite asset to a genre that is tough to be an asset to. Definitely recommended, one of the best releases I have heard this year.

Written by Henric van Essen

NordWitch Facebook

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: Iron Curtain - Guilty As Charged


Iron Curtain’s third full-length release was one of my most anticipated albums of 2016. Their previous records, ‘’Road to Hell’’ and ‘’Jaguar Spirit’’, are among my favorite in this new generation of old school heavy metal bands, so I had a lot of high expectations for ‘’Guilty as Charged’’. The amazing artwork also played its part in getting me excited to listen to what these Spanish metalheads had in stock for us.

‘Into the Fire’ opens the album in an excellent fashion. Strong, fast and raw, yet showing the best sound quality the band presented in their career. Singer Mike Leprosy’s Spanish accent is really present in ‘Lion’s Breath’, and it adds an identity to the sound. I really like when I can tell where the band came from even though they sing in English. ‘Take it Back’ is another fast song with a chorus I think is going to work well with the audience on live shows. Relentless brings Motörhead’s influence to the album, though there’s also a hard rock feel on it. Great song!

Speed metal riffs are back with ‘Iron Price’, one of the strongest songs in the entire album. The guitar work was great so far, but Miguel Angel “El Cachorro” Lopez’s guitar solo in ‘Outlaw’ is insane. Wow! ‘Wild and Rebel’ was the first single released from ‘’Guilty as Charged’’. Good choice! A nice and catchy song, though not showing the album’s full potential. El Cachorro continues the amazing guitar work on the title track, specially its two minutes long guitar solo. ‘Turn the Hell On’ closes the record and should be a good option to close the concert as well, as it has a very festive atmosphere.

It’s difficult to tell if ‘’Guilty as Charged’’ is Iron Curtain’s best album, because all their records are equally strong. In my opinion, it is slightly better than both previous records, but only by a little margin. What is easy to say is that these Spanish guys have put their band on the market as one of essential new bands to look for if you are an old school heavy metal fan.

Tracklist:
01. Into The Fire
02. Lion's Breath
03. Take It Back
04. Relentless
05. Iron Price
06. Outlaw
07. Wild & Rebel
08. Guilty As Charged
09. Turn The Hell On

Lineup:
Mike Leprosy – vocals, guitar
Joserra – bass
Alberto – drums
Cachorro - guitar

Written by Anderson Tiago

Iron Curtain Official Website
Iron Curtain Facebook

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review: Cradle Of Filth - Dusk...And Her Embrace The Original Sin


After twenty years, CoF comes with the original ‘’Dusk...and her Embrace’’ album, as it should have been released back in the nineties. ‘’Dusk...and her Embrace’’ was released in 1996 and was remastered in 2012. But basically, it was never the album it was meant to be. Not everything that was meant to be on the album actually made it to the disk due to label-issues back in the time, and on the other side, not everything that was on the 1996 release is on ‘’The Original Sin’’.

Of course, the album starts with a creepy, instrumental song. Not 1996' Humana Inspired To Nightmare, but Macabre, This Baquet. Well basically, the whole tracklist is ordered different and some songs on the one disc are not here, and vice versa. So..maybe we can just say I will not compare both albums anymore? Okay, maybe just one thing: Where 1996's release gives me the feeling of being in a graveyard and hearing terrible noises coming from some tomb nearby, ‘’The Original Sin’’ makes me feel like being in that same graveyard, but hearing all the massacre taking place hardly one step away! The songs are clearer and harsher and that is CoF at its best. Part ultra dark and heavy, part melodic but always with haunting vocals/screams by master vampire Dani Filth. In that sense it is easy enough to say that the album is of a brutal beauty, like we would expect from a band that has been so defining for this type of music.

One great highlight is ‘’Funeral in Carpathia,’’ combining the afore mentioned, together with female vocals, dragging you into some vampiric ritual.

‘’Carmilla's Masque’’, previously only released as an additional song to the coffin box set, is a nice instrumental chiller for haunted dreams of suffering.

As other additions, ‘’A Gothic Beauty’’ and ‘’Noctural Supremacy’’ (previously only available in the leatherbound 'digibook') appear in Demotracks. In all honesty, I am never a big fan of demotracks, because mostly they only show the rough form of a song that the band obviously liked more in the more defined shape. The same goes for these two versions, although ‘Noctural Supremacy's demo version has a nice choir as introduction, that is missed in the albumversion.

Although at first glance one might think: oh God, a reissue...this album is quite a different take and should be taken on its own, even though a lot of songs are well known to fans. The versions on this album, plus the unknown songs give a new, fresh look on an album that has been collecting dust for the past twenty years and should have seen the light in those days. The bonus songs do not add a great thing, but are nice enough. If this album should be a taster of what is to come for Cradle of Filth, it tastes good!

Written by Martijn Bakker

Cradle Of Filth Official Website
Cradle Of Filth Facebook
Cradle Of Filth Twitter

Monday, September 26, 2016

Review: Crystal Pyramid - Enter The Beyond


Very, very, veeerrry underground doom metal for my ears this time.

After I got the album in my inbox, I just went to Facebook to check out the band. I always like to look at the esthetic aspect of a band before I review them. I don’t exactly know why and it doesn’t affect my review. As I went through their Facebook page I noticed they only have 150 likes or so. I instantly thought: ‘’Wow, this is really new and underground’’ and became very excited to listen to the album.

I was kind of disappointed though, my expectations were probably a tad too high. I was hoping for some kind of change in this scene. I’ve been hoping that for a long time. Something innovating in the scene like for example Slabdragger do. Making slow riffs sounds monstrously raw and explosive.

Crystal Pyramid make doom metal like it has been done before so that’s kind of a pity. I’m not at all saying the album is bad in any way or form, because different aspects of the music are good, maybe even great.

Talking about good aspects of the music. I find the lyrics to be very creative for a doom metal band. Let’s not hide the fact that 90% of the doom bands make lyrics about death and apocalyptic visions. Crystal Pyramid really tries to tell a story in their lyrics. Very cleverly written and fitting in the music and it makes the listener feel a creative wind in their ears in the land of doom metal.

In general, their song titles fit the music and the lyrics and make me interested in the song behind it. As I already said, it is clever writing that does the trick here. The disappointment for me comes from the fact that the music itself is not very out of the box, which I expected/hoped for from this band.

A solid 7 for the effort and lyrical content.

Written by Joost van der Leij

Crystal Pyramid Facebook

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Review: Eisenhauer - Horse Of Hell


Well I would call this an interesting combination of some punk influences, hard rock and some really small parts of heavy metal. The first thing I was struck by was the sound and the volume of the drums, as it reminded me of the punk albums of the 80's, with the volume and the way the drums are played. What makes this album stand out are the vocals, as they contain some of the most interesting vocal combinations I have heard lately. They range from simple melodic singing to some full scale heavy metal singing. Other instruments in the albums follow the classic way of this kind of mixed albums, the bass can't really be heard for most of the time, and when it is heard it is at a crucial point of a song or a riff. The guitars are compressed and really good to hear in the choruses, but sometimes maybe they lack the grit for some "heavier" riffs. The album contains four songs with about 25 minutes of material, but even with this maybe short length of the album, it does not lack in quality in both songwriting and mixing departments. All in all, if you are into some more punkish sounding hard rock mixed with heavy metal, this is an album for you. I give it an 8/10.

Written by Nikola Milošević

Eisenhauer Facebook

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Review: Andi The Wicked - Freak On Frets


Pretty ballsy to have a self titled record indicating you are ‘wicked’, but when you can play like this kid, you are fully entitled. In the wake of artists like Yngwie Malmsteen , Joe Satriani and Rik Emmett, Andi is on his way to full stardom. What a player.

I’m always amazed at virtuosos like this, starting at young ages with pianos and having a born talent for music and classical composition. ‘It Rocks’ should be the title of album. It truly does. Hammer-ons and fretwork for all abound.

Continual music like this is great for background while everyone is on your deck; provided they like good metal. 2:46 onward of ‘It Rocks’, rocks. Very nice arrangement and beats until close.

‘The Shark Song’ is just an all around smooth piece, and much like Satriani’s “Surfing with the Alien”, sounds like a frenetic encounter with a shark indeed. ‘Threat’ is anything but and is my favourite on this record. At 3:50 some smooth and rock, some soul and jazz mixed with vestiges of iron maiden and classic rock anthems, sliding in at 4:16. Outstanding.

‘Porn’. It doesn’t start off with that classic 70’s porn style guitar but with a fist-pumping ode to AC/DC, with his own original flair. From 0:00 – 00:35, I think this needs to be my ringtone! The rest does bang your ears with a nice fret-scial at the end…

The song ‘Classic’ is now starting to get to be too much. It’s fast, and all over the map and is slightly annoying to me, but what do I know; the playing is phenomenal.

The remainder of the album rocks out. ‘Heavy Funk’ plays well but gives me a little jolt of ‘Get The Funk Out’ by Extreme. (brrrr). It was surprising that came over me as I have not listened to that song in years but it played out alright at 2:32 with some nice fretwork and a great slow, power jam and fully redeemed itself from 3:20 on.

‘Damn Lick’ is just one damned long lick. Truly inspiring. I can’t say anything about this; I don’t play so what the hell do I know. I’d just sit and stare at the finger-walking in concert.

‘Bad in Bed’ is my second favourite. This immediately starts out with hammering UFO-like grind and keeps it going throughout. This song is great for the weight-room or jazz-room as it melts your head with licks at 3:46! One of the best closings I’ve ever heard. Playing this very loud now; hopefully Andi can autograph my copy of the eviction notice.

No choice. 10/10

Written by Alessandro

Andi The Wicked Official Website
Andi The Wicked Facebook

Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: Deadlock - Hybris


Deadlock is surely one of the more well-known death metal bands around these days. They formed back in 1997 in Germany. After the tragic passing of their former drummer, Tobias Graf, and the baby-related exit of their former singer, Deadlock are now back with their newest record “Hybris”, which was released on the 8th of July.

Good news: the concept of their sound remains even with the new lineup. This means: mixing clear with guttural singing, double-bass drums and guitars moving somewhere between held-back and energetic. Additionally, for the first time since “The Arrival”, a Deadlock-record contains a track with a German title. Actually not one, but two. “Ein Deutsches Requiem” is an interpretation of a Johannes Brahms piece, and “Vergebung” is an instrumental piece. Former has a great, yet weird (in appositive way!), sound to it and reminds of the former Deadlock records. A further positive thing to remark on are surely the guitar soli, which do add a tad of energy and variety to the album. However, overall, there’s just too little variation and highlights to really get you hooked, like on Deadlock’s previous records.

Deadlock experienced some dark times lately and use this album as well as a platform to deal with them. However, especially compared to their great “The Arsonist”, this album is just a tad too monotonous, and even the occasional highlights here and there cannot compensate for this general tone. However, it’s a solid album and will surely satisfy die-hard fans. Give it a spin if you have the chance! 7.5/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Deadlock Official Website
Deadlock Facebook