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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Review: Exit Eden - Rhapsodies In Black


Okay, first let me be perfectly clear, I hate cover songs and what I hate even more are crappy pop songs. And let that exactly be what Rhapsodies In Black is, covers of crappy pop songs. Still I am very happy to write this review. Why you might think? Well because it’s absolutely phenomenal what these ladies are doing, which is making a powerful metal song of a well-known pop song without changing it unrecognizably. Yeah sure, that’s fun and all, just put some heavy guitars and a double bass drum under it and you got some metal. If that was all that these ladies are doing then it wouldn’t be very exciting, but this supergroup consisting of Clementine Delauney, Amanda Somerville, Maria La Torraca and Anna Brunner packs some punch. It’s clear that this group of top vocalists aren’t meant to be questioned by me as a reviewer or anyone else regarding their vocal capabilities, because damn, these women can sing. Take for instance Rihanna’s Unfaithful, it is absolutely unbelievable what happens to this song when it’s being sung by people who can actually sing. The Backstreet Boys’ Incomplete suddenly becomes a very good song with some simple changes and some folk influences, this is mainly due to the variable vocal styles of the leading ladies.

But is it really metal? Well, these songs are written as pop songs, even when they are sung by Exit Eden. The band did show me the potential of a great and well thought of pop song. When you get the song just little bit more care, it becomes a song that you wanna put on over and over again. For example, Frozen by Madonna, I myself never thought it was a bad song but wow, what a song it became! Very cool!

So, can I ask you say that I like covers now? Sadly no. Because it on itself beautiful enough Heaven by Bryan Adams loses all of its emotional baggage and warmth due to Exit Eden’s treatment. No, the ladies don’t sing the song in a bad way, but saying it kindly, it’s a very weird choice to put on the album and it should’ve been left alone! Thankfully the rest of the choices are really good. Especially Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi and Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart. These two songs have been turned into full-blown metal songs!

Rhapsodies In Black if you ask me, is for anybody who knows in their heart that pop songs aren’t bad but can be a whole lot better. And of course, it’s also for people who just love good music.

Thanks Exit Eden!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden

Exit Eden Official Website
Exit Eden Facebook
Exit Eden Twitter

Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview: Brian Vollmer of Helix


On Friday September 6 2017, DutchMetalManiac's Alessandro got an opportunity of a lifetime!

After seeing them many times, taking some personal pics and creating a Helix shrine of cool signed memorabilia and personalized, rare items, he got the chance to do a live phone interview with the leading man of Helix – Brian Vollmer himself! It wasn’t long but it was intense and a wealth of information for those starting a band and those who are veterans of the music wars!

Helix is still a metal force to be reckoned with; still performing live across Canada and overseas and with several of their newer releases. 2014’s fully new track listed Bastard of the Blues and 2016’s Rock It Science, a compilation of hits with one new song, (Gene Simmons Says) Rock Is Dead, it brings their total, including solo and compilation and live albums, to at least 25!

Read on! – There’s a surprise at the end!


Brian, I am so honoured to be invited to talk with you live at Planet Helix, your home. Thank you so much!

Hey, thank you for the interview, this is great!

Wow. Can’t believe I’m talking to the lead singer of the “Hardest Working Band in Canada” as is said in your book Gimme an R. You’re still working harder than ever; solo albums, a cool, festive green vinyl single, All I Want for Christmas (Is the Leafs to Win the Cup) (side note: good luck with that one, Brian…lol!) newest record Rock It Science… can you tell us of your upcoming tour?

Well, we have shows in St. John’s Newfoundland October 21st then in Brampton October 26th with Lee Aaron and then October 28th in Oshawa.

Lee Aaron The Metal Queen! No way! I saw and met you all at Metal On Ice, organized so well by Sean Kelly, of Nelly Furtado and Crash Kelly fame. It was amazing. Lee signed my shirt…with me in it, right on my chest!

(Vollmer laughs)

What’s your best, favorite heaviest, Helix album?

Well they all are, really. Albums are a labour of love, they’re like my children. You produce them and then you see them grow and then you have to let them go. But if I had to choose it would be No Rest For the Wicked (1983). The single Heavy Metal Love from that album did really well.

I’m lovin’ the new single and video (Gene Simmons says) Rock is Dead – hilarious! So IS rock dead? Has Gene contacted you about this?

(laughs) No, rock isn’t dead. Of course, that’s not what the song was about. As long as someone picks up a guitar, someone will play metal for a variety of reasons, not just money. And no, he hasn’t contacted me but… (slight pause).. he’s seen it, I’m sure he’s seen it (chuckles).


So, tell me of some of the metal influences you’ve had.

Pretty much what everyone was listening to at the time. Lemmy of Motorhead said you’re influenced by the first bands you listen to. He was also always a gentleman and did it purely for the love of the music. Also, Danko Jones for sure and Danko will be singing on my new solo album Get Yer Hands Dirty!

Whoa! A new album. What the… I have not heard of this!

Yea! My new solo project, Get Yer Hands Dirty, available by pre-sale. It’ll be on CD as well as vinyl.

THAT is so cool! Well I hope to see you with Lee Aaron on the 26th! I want to thank you so much for speaking with us and….

(SURPRISE HERE!)

Hey, .listen…(slight pause)…why don’t you come to the pre-release party here in London next week?

(stunned silence). Umm, you’re inviting me to Planet Helix?

(laughs) Yea, it’ll be a great time. Just email me and I’ll send details.

Oh, wow thank you so much, that’s an honour. Thanks so much for your precious creative time and we’ll see you at the show!

Thank you!

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our DutchMetalManiac readers?

Yea, Buy the records, keep buying the records and support your bands!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As of this writing, Alessandro has quit his job and will be going for a week of rock n roll mayhem. An exclusive invite for DutchMetalManiac to the home of the legendary Brian Vollmer, frontman of Helix! He will be reporting on this tour as it happens...stay tuned!

You need to grab once in a lifetime opportunities; there are other jobs!



Helix Official Website
Helix Facebook
Helix Twitter

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Enzo And The Glory Ensemble - In The Name Of The Son


Enzo Donnarumma from Italy recorded together with his Glory Ensemble the longplayer In The Name Of The Son. Sounds biblical to you? Well, there’s a reason…

… Enzo plays Christian gospel-metal! And knowing that you’re not astonished to find tracks named after bible passages, such as Psalm 8 or Isaiah 53. It starts with a super-melodic instrumental intro composed of flutes and violins. The Tower Of Babel kicks off quite fast with some guitar riffs, before again imploding into an atmospheric sound à la Avantasia. Singing is scarce on that one as well, only sometimes a choir can be heard. More Avantasia and Symphony X feeling comes up with the first biblical track, Luke 128, with clear chants from Enzo, accompanied by a female choir in the back. Female chants are quite predominant on the record, as for example we only hear the choir in Psalm 8. And while these first tracks are still somewhat fast, the fifth one, Gory To God, can perfectly pass as a track on a meditation playlist. It’s very calm and soothing – but as far from metal as you can get. Psalm 133 then picks up the speed and throws in some folkloric elements into the mix. Magnificat is another slow one before the most metal of them all, Isiah 53, comes up. This one’s definitely recommended for any power metal fans! And, wait a minute, there are even some growls on The Trial! And then there are a couple more power metal songs before the whole thing closes off with the bombastic If Not You.

In conclusion: Enzo’s longplayer is very well produced and you can tell that he’s a great musician. The diversity of the songs, combined with the aforementioned points, then even convinced me, not-such-a-fan-of-powermetal and atheist, to like this record. Sometimes it’s still a bit over the top for me, but hey, that comes with the genre! Still, I would warmly recommend this to any powermetal fan or to someone who’s on the lookout for some softer tunes. 9/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Enzo And The Glory Ensemble Official Website
Enzo And The Glory Ensemble Facebook

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Review: Chrysilia - Et In Arcadia Ego


Chrysilia is an Athens, Greece based symphonic folk metal band, with a line-up consisting of six musicians. The eye catcher is no doubt the multi-talented front woman, vocalist and co-founder Chryso Stamatopoulou, who is a classically schooled singer with an operatic touch. Along her side she finds guitarist Teo Ross, Jim Ramses on bass, Simon Kay on drums, John Matzakos on keyboards and Odysseas on violin. Co-founder Elias Pero and producer Bob Katsionis also play important roles, though not in the spotlights. Chrysilia, named after Chryso’s daughter, was founded as a band early in 2016 by Chryso and Elias, but started as a concept quite a bit earlier. Based on the evolvement of Elias’ compositions from his 90’s epic power metal band Sovereign, the concept project slowly but surely steered towards being a band, culminating (for now) in the release of their first full-length. Et In Arcadia Ego is a concept symphonic folk metal album with a romantic edge, a description to which the band would like to add the term ‘soundtrack’, due to it sounding like a metal-based motion picture soundtrack, according to the band.

Lyrically based on the concept of Arcadia, an variously interpreted mythological dreamland, the story of Et In Arcadia Ego is a metaphorically translated version, telling about a journey in time and fantasy, myths and reality, fairytales and politics, life and death itself, through the eyes of a girl growing up. Of course her name is Chrysilia. The setting is of course the Peloponnese, which is said to be where Arcadia is located. Concept-wise this is an exceptionally well-thought-out album, also expressed in the title, which is an often quoted, never fully fathomed phrase. Hopefully the band managed to translate all this into the music itself as well.

Opener By The Gates Of Ypsus is the first sign they indeed might have done just that. If you ever wondered what you could expect from soundtrack metal, this is the perfect song to be tutored. Like in a motion picture soundtrack there’s an abundance of soundscapes and intermezzos depicting either emotions, atmosphere or changes in the story line. Bombastic, but with the right amount of power and heaviness to classify as metal, this song definitely sets the tone for what promises to be a great album. The music provides a perfect frame for Chryso’s vocals, augmenting rather than supporting them. More than once a strong opener spells disaster for the rest of an album, simply because its quality cannot be matched, let alone surpassed. In this case, however, things are very different. The great prologue finds its equal in its successor called The Menalon Trail, another cleverly composed, powerful song in which the music augments the vocals in a similar way.

Up next is the mandatory power ballad, Desperate Wings, in which Chryso’s romantic side takes over, a role that fits her like the proverbial glove just as much as the role of power vocalist fits her. Most striking in this one is Odysseas’ violin work though, leading the song from the depths of its composition. As a bonus the album ends with an orchestral version of this song, in which the combination of Chryso’s voice and Odysseas’ swirling violin is even more convincing. That one, however, is to be found only at the end of the album. Before you get there, there’s much more to enjoy on Et In Arcadia Ego. Whether you pick the sweet Chrysilia that grows from a sweet lullaby into a full-blown folk song, the beautifully tensive and emotional The Fifth Season, with, once again, great violin work or the slow, relatively heavy King Of A Stellar War, all songs as well as the performing musicians’ contributions breathe the same high quality. In all honesty, I could have picked any song in this summary, I really cannot find a mediocre song on this album, which I consider an impressive achievement.

Having thoroughly heard and enjoyed this, it’s obvious the band’s addition of the term ‘soundtrack’ to the description of Chrysilia’s musical genre is spot on. Parts of this release could indeed very well be taken from a motion picture soundtrack, but when compared to an actual soundtrack there’s an essential difference. Unlike in real soundtracks the music on Et In Arcadia Ego is coherent at all times, with logical variations in speed, heaviness and rhythm without losing the required variety and atmospheric impressions a concept album needs. When you look at this from a strictly metal-oriented point of view you might not be fully satisfied, simply because it’s not a pure metal album. Not even close I’d say, but that doesn’t change the fact I consider this one of the best releases of the year, if not the best. Music, rhythm and vocals are tuned and in sync to near-perfection and there’s a definite emphasis on atmosphere over power, although it in no way can be called a powerless release. This album has a little bit of everything without losing track or coherence. The compositions are works of art that have been thoroughly thought through to ensure music and vocals complement instead of co-exist. Sweet release, this one will rank high in my year list for sure. Highly recommended.

Written by Henric van Essen

Chrysilia Official Website
Chrysilia Facebook

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Into The Arcane - Het Verlangen Der Geest


Dutch atmospheric doom metal band Into The Arcane formed back in 2016 and are teasing their first full-length, which can be expected around the end of the year, with a four-track EP called Het Verlangen Der Geest.

First up is The Glass King. Into the Arcane entitle their sound as “atmospheric doom rock”, but with their first track they’re far from any slow, dragging melodies that you might expect now. Rather, it’s actual mid-tempo rock intermingled with death metal and doom influences, and the lengthy songs switch between vocal and instrumental parts. The Innocent Hunter then rather fulfills the doom part with its slower pace at the beginning and the black metal influences you can perceive, but then switches to a more fast-paced sound quite alike the first track. Nicely enough though, for variation, the track’s second part is nice, slow and atmospheric and cut out for the autumn moods we’re in now. In general, variety plays a big part in Into The Arcane’s sound, and it’s fun discerning all the different influences that went into the EP – all that while the guys still maintain a certain trademark sound, as can also be perceived on tracks number three and four, What Lies Beneath The Shroud and The Slumber Of Man.

In conclusion: Into The Arcane have laid out a great EP, wetting the appetite for what’s yet to come with the longplayer. What impressed me most is the diversity of their sound, which makes Het Verlangen Der Geest very fun to listen to – so this one comes highly recommended! 9.5/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Read part 8 of Promoting Bands, in which we also mentioned Into The Arcane, here.

Into The Arcane Facebook

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Interview: Vuur


Anneke van Giersbergen already has a great musical career. Of course, it all started with The Gathering, she worked with Devin Townsend, Ayreon, Danny Cavanagh and formed The Gentle Storm with Arjen Lucassen, besides various solo albums. Now, she formed a new band, Vuur, in which she presents her progressive metal side. On October 20th, Vuur's debut In This Moment We Are Free - Cities will see its release. DutchMetalManiac's Glenn van der Heijden, who reviewed the album here, and Tim van Velthuysen met Anneke and spoke with her about Vuur, the album and freedom amongst other things.

Congratulations on your new album and band. You played a couple of shows in Drachten and at Dynamo Metalfest, how were the reactions of the audience?

I do look back at those shows very good, because we thought we are going to do a try-out show in a small venue so we could make some mistakes and learn. Then it was sold-out very quickly, so we put it in the big room, which was also sold out superfast. There were many people coming to our very first show ever, so we were very nervous, because now it must be a very good show. We pulled it off and after it we did some festivals, also in some other countries. Festival audience is also a bit different because they don't necessarily come for you and you have all new, long, complicated songs, but everybody reacted very well.

So, you didn't anticipate that big reaction?

No, we knew we made a good album, but you'll never know how people will react.

The writing process of In This Moment We Are Free - Cities included seven people, how did it go?

I started writing with Joost van den Broek, who also produced the album. Every Tuesday for a year I was going to the studio, besides writing everywhere I was going. In the end, when the songs were finished, the band came and we recorded the songs. They add a lot of personality and are great players. For example, when I think that Ed Warby, the drummer, can do nice things at some moments, he would do it much cooler.

Because you know him?

Yeah, but still they do things more amazing than you thought they would.

Was choosing Joost van den Broek a no-brainer for you?

Yeah, we played together in The Gentle Storm, where he was doing keyboards. He isn't a tour animal, so he wanted to go back to the studio, so I asked, whether or not he would produce a new metal album when I would form a band and he said yes.

All tracks are named after a city you've been, was it difficult to choose the cities?

Yeah, there are so many cities to choose from. I already got a lot of angry messages from people who said I didn't include their city. So maybe I am going to make Cities Part 2. You have your favorite places to go, I wanted some European, some South-American cities.

Your album is a lot about freedom, it's a very central theme, what is your message about freedom and how does it relate to Vuur's lyrics? What is freedom for you?

That's a good question, because freedom is for everybody something else. If you live in a country which is in war, it means something entirely different than, for example, for me when I live in Holland, a peaceful country at the moment. So, we have the opportunity to be free as an artist, in your mind, to express. If I express something in my music, I feel the responsibility for it to be important, because there are people listening to it. I should have a message. My message is always positivity, I am a firm believer in it.

With the past years with terrorism do you think that sort of freedom is threatened at the moment in the world?

I think in Paris, or everywhere where are bombings, terrorist attacks or any kind of conflict, there is also always a kind of undercurrent flow of people who come together and help each other out. Those new communities formed all over the place where something is happening. We always focus on the bad things in the media, why can't it be like "this bad thing happened, but then this happened"? People are coming together and help each other out. You see it now with Donald Trump, the worst possible president you can have, but still there are people who think if the government is not helping me anymore, we will do it ourselves. That's positive. I don't understand why bad things are happening, but I do understand that also very good things are happening.

It's a great album, how are you going to surpass that on a new album?

I don't know! I am happy you like it, I put everything I had in it. I think that's exactly what I need to do next time. To have good focus, make it together and make something real honest, because that's how it is.

You were waiting to do this, but you didn't have the musicians for it. Now you have, is it everything you hoped for?

Yeah, even more. The guys in the band are really fantastic, they all have been in other bands, we have some all-star band. The latest recruitment is guitarist Jord Otto, he is a really good solo-player. I feel like every element is in order. There's nobody missing, we can do what we like, because we have great musicians.

Is there a democracy?

No, not really. Everything is my idea; however, the band is pushed forward due to the characterizing. I didn't want it to be me and a bunch of guys, but everyone has their own fingerprint in it.

Can you tell us something about the beautiful album cover?

The whole album has to do with freedom, duality, darkness and light. I wanted to have the artwork represent that, so the guy is made out of stone and is carrying this heavy city on his head, but there is also green and light. I wanted to make a balance between darkness and light.

Again, the positivity which is important.

Yeah, maybe we should all embrace the darkness in ourselves, but also the light. It's too much this or that sometimes.

The media is like that, right? Social media also adds a darker side to it.

Yeah, but there are also people on social media who, for example, put cat movies on it, that's good. The normal media have the tendency to represent only bad things.

You are going to tour with Epica and Myrath, looking forward to that?

Yes, I think the three bands together make a good diverse musical evening, we are going to play a lot of Vuur stuff of course, but also some Devin Townsend and Gentle Storm.

So Vuur is your dream come true?

To be honest, yes, and that's why I wanted to stay. So, I gave the band a name, it’s a train that is now running.

Earlier you already tried giving your own band a name with Agua De Annique, but that kind of failed.

Vuur is much clearer. The difference is when I just left The Gathering I came up with a band name, but nobody knew it was me. Now it makes sense.

Aren't you going to miss all the other, non-heavy stuff, you did?

I am not stopping with that, the only thing I did was giving Vuur a band name, so all the heavy things will be under Vuur's name, with hopefully the same people. Everything else I would do under my own name, so it's just a bit more clarity and it won't be all at the same time.

So, you will stay a workaholic?

Yes, I like singing and working. I am happy that I have so much work.

In December you have the headline shows, can you tell us something about it?

On 10 December we are in Utrecht and we do three shows in Paris, Vosselaar and London. So, four headline shows with Scar Symmetry and My Propane, Jord's band. We are going to do a lot of Vuur stuff, but also some old stuff, it will be big shows. Utrecht will be the only Dutch show for the moment we are going to do and then we will tour in 2018 and of course then we will also come back with Dutch club shows.

Do you have anything to add for our readers?

The most important thing is that we are happy to tour. Tomorrow the video for My Champion - Berlin will be online, which is exiting.



How was creating that music video?

Cool, actually there is a great story especially for people being Dutch. The lights in the video are the lights of Bløf. I worked together with Bløf for their new album, Aan, which is a great album. When I was with them on their live show, the lights on stage were really nice. I told the guy who would made our video, who also worked with Bløf and we could hire them. So, we have their lights on our video. We made a cage out of light, it's a performance video, because I wanted to let people see the band.

Because Vuur is your dream come true, is there something you are scared of?

This is a period between making the album and releasing it, so now there is this vacuum. You are waiting for the album to come out, nobody has heard it and you don't know how people are going to react.

I talked to Arjen (Ayreon) a while back and he was really scared for The Source coming out, I couldn't believe it. Is it also like that for you?

Most artists are really happy with their new album and think it's all that it could be and then it’s done and there is this vacuum comes and you get really scared. There's always a wave of fear, a moment of doubt.

Are you always yourself or do you put on some mask at some moments?

I am always myself, when I put on a mask which I sometimes tried, I always failed. Honesty is the best thing, real honest people like Devin Townsend or Arjen Lucassen make, in my opinion the best music possible. It also brings fear, awkwardness but it beats wearing a mask at all times. When I try, I always feel uncomfortable.

Even in those countries in South-America where you practically need bodyguards to escort you?

Yeah, but it's awkward, strange because I feel I am just Annie!

You still have angry The Gathering fans, right?

Yeah, it's ten years ago. It's not that bad anymore, but I got a lot of angry messages. Now the bodyguards only need to maintain the positive fans.

Thanks for your answers!


You can also check two parts of Promoting Bands in which Tim van Velthuysen wrote about VUUR here and here, as well as an interview with Anneke van Giersbergen by Glenn van der Heijden here. Joost van der Leij also wrote an live review about Dynamo Metalfest with VUUR in its lineup here.

Vuur Official Website
Vuur Facebook
Vuur Twitter

Friday, October 6, 2017

Review: Vuur - In This Moment We Are Free - Cities


Well first let me say that I feel absolutely privileged that I can write this review of the debut album of Anneke van Giersbergen’s VUUR titled In This Moment We Are Free - Cities. The expectations for this album were very high. Anneke van Giersbergen, ex-The Gathering and for me pioneer of the female fronted genre, who hasn’t made any metal since the beginning of her solo career in 2007, other than guest appearances with Devin Townsend and Ayreon, is going to make progressive metal. How is it going to sound? And when it was announced that colleague and friend Marcela Bovio was leaving the band because of musical differences, anticipation for the album reached an even higher peak. With the exception of Marcela Bovio and Delain and Purest Of Pain guitarist Merel Bechtold, VUUR’s personnel is the same as that of The Gentle Storm, Anneke’s collaboration project with Arjen Lucassen, which is also the only metal music Anneke van Giersbergen let us hear in a long time.

VUUR exists of longtime Anneke van Giersbergen alumni Ferry Duijsens, Johan van Stratum, Ed Warby, and newcomer Jord Otto. If I want to talk about the album I have to begin with Ed Warby. Because when hearing the opening track My Champion - Berlin, it is already clear that in addition to Anneke’s versatile unmatched vocals and leadership, Ed Warby is the absolute backbone of the band. For anyone who thinks that VUUR’s music has any resemblance to the music of The Gentle Storm, considering the fact it has almost the same band members, let me be clear, VUUR is totally different. In the second song Time - Rotterdam, you can clearly hear the progressive side of the band. Anneke shows what she’s made of and uses every skill and talent she has to show what VUUR is all about. Loud, raw and crystal-clear and always with Anneke’s warmth, modesty and positivity. Now, when I say raw, I don’t mean ontological or without having any idea, no Anneke’s vision is clear. VUUR is here to stay! Something else that she was clear about is wanting to have Joost van den Broek as the producer of the debut album. You can hear that he had a great hand in making In This Moment We Are Free - Cities and the order in which the tracks are placed on the album it’s also carefully thought of.

The third track is The Martyr And The Saint - Beirut where guitarists Ferry Duijsens and Jord Otto show that you don’t always have to open all registers of your guitar to clearly be present. The same goes for bassist Johan van Stratum who other than doing what he is supposed to do on every song, clearly announces his presence on the fourth track The Fire - San Francisco where he, with some beautiful baselines shows that he is definitely irreplaceable. Next up is Rio’s song Freedom. Here Anneke shows that if you build up the song in a good way you can let the listener feel what you as an artist think that freedom is all about. Then there is the London track, Days Go By, this song had to familiarize people with the music of VUUR and boy did it succeed. What a powerful and spectacular song in which Anneke utilizes her vocal range and skill set. Then it’s up to Santiago’s Sail Away. A catchy chorus with many moments where the musicians have the time to shine. Shredding guitar solos and again a prominent role for drummer Ed Warby.

Valley Of Diamonds - Mexico City, a song with a very threatening undertone, an outstanding buildup and a great variation in vocal styles. Musically it’s one of the best songs on the album if you ask me. Your Glorious Light Will Shine - Helsinki reflects the positive vibe I talked about earlier, again, this song is very interesting musically and it’s very hard to describe everything that’s happening in this one song. The guitarists Jord Otto and Ferry Duijsens do an outstanding job on this one. The same applies to the next song Save Me - Istanbul which brings a bit of culture to the table. Again, Anneke’s vocals are phenomenal with powerhouse Ed Warby in the background. The guitarists are shredding again like no tomorrow. The beautiful closing song Reunite - Paris is a real power ballad where Anneke thinks about the question what has happened to the level of tolerance in the world, a critical note but with the sentence “I will watch over you” still blaring through your speakers. The song is a beautiful closing track from an outstanding debut album and speaks about all of the horrible things that has happened in the world regarding terrorism and the growing intolerance in the world. I think it is no surprise that the song Reunite is coupled with the city Paris. In every song the album title In This Moment We Are Free comes back, it’s a central theme. Do you want to know how Anneke thinks about freedom or how this album came to pass? This and many other things I discuss with yours truly in an interview I had on the seventh of September. It is uploaded tomorrow on DutchMetalManiac.

VUUR is here and they are here to stay! Spread the word!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden

You can also check two parts of Promoting Bands in which Tim van Velthuysen wrote about VUUR here and here, as well as an interview with Anneke van Giersbergen by Glenn van der Heijden here. Joost van der Leij also wrote an live review about Dynamo Metalfest with VUUR in its lineup here.

Vuur Official Website
Vuur Facebook
Vuur Twitter

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Review: Eon - Purgatory Inherited


Well! Retournez to the French Riviera en Toulon where some hyper-cool riffing at 1:38 takes place from the lads of EON (aka Element of Noise – cool!) on the lead track, Hatemakers, of their latest effort! I also am OK with their self-branded genre of ‘Fuckin’ Metal’ – ha-ha! Finally, someone that files it all under ‘M’ for Metal (although there are glimmers of deathcore and others in the mix, artfully played, I think).

A somewhat off putting Texas Chainsaw look to the FB page too. A little hokey for me but what the metal, right? Perhaps a more Heaven and Hell concept rather a slasher film as I don’t make the connection – frankly, I’m tired of that look on metal albums and yearn for something original. However, I’m also no graphic artist, so I’ll shut up about that.

The next and favourite track is Legacy of Shame and it rocks with Annihilator/Overkill overtones! A pounding piece of primordial pus destined for greatness. Some almost Scream-O work with Hokuto-no-Ken and not to my liking at all – too disjointed and just an abrupt ending.

The title track launches right into the Gravocals and keeps them going with decibel-laden vox through 00:58 – 1:12 – powerful stuff and good power to it all.

Immediately drawn to the title of Fuck Off Day, this is one angry song, if it’s possible to be angrier than the rest. Supernaturally fast riffs at about 2:37 onwards!

Scar, is by far, my new favourite! Some excellent thrash metal riffing right from the start and the jam is kept going. Some songs seem created on a certain type of vibe and this one had a good groove in the room when it was written or played. This is that hit-making (if that’s what you’re looking for) feel you need to get that song out of your system. An excellent feel and foot stomping damage-causer is sure to please even the hardest of cores.

Overall, this is a very good album and takes its place in the metal world. Some great talent and hard work has gone into this nicely engineered and technically precise recording. It’s a pleasure to listen to even though several songs just aren’t my thing. This is the wonder of metal, some are forged with an expert smithy, some, the smithy gets tired and some songs are OK but others are not. They keep this hammering however and have crafted a nice metal sword worthy of……..

8/10

Written by Alessandro

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Interview: Fireback


Recently the French metallers of Fireback released their first full-length album, called Theory Of Happiness. It's the follow-up of their debut EP Wake Up, released in 2012. Below you can read the interview DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen had with Fireback's guitarist/vocalist Joe.

Hey, how are you?

Hey man! We're fine, thank you. Thanks a lot to take some time for us.

Fireback is already 8 years old, can you tell us a bit about the history and its members?

We've had line-up issues every now and then since the beginning, hence the release of the album a couple of years after the creation of Fireback. Yet we've been together for three years now, and finally step up to this album project. Seb (lead vocals) and me (Joe, guitar/vocals) are the only founder members left. We enlisted Alex on drums in 2014, Thibaut on bass a couple of months later, and then Aurel on guitar right after.

What's the story behind your bandname?

Seb and me were looking out for a punchy monicker that wasn't sounding too « gore ». One day, at university, we came across a book by German philosopher Feuerbach. In terms of pronunciation, that lead us to Fireback. We already had this idea but from this day we thought it was definitely a cool bandname. We loved the concept of backfire, the idea that when you're doing a mistake, you have to pay for it one day or another, that kind of « what goes around comes around » thing. This makes sense regarding our lyrics too: we do think that enslaving people with power and money is something humanity will have to pay for, one day or another.

When someone who haven't heard your music before asks you how it sounds, how would you describe Fireback's music?

That's a tough one, it's always hard to describe your own music. Same thing when we're asked about the genre we play. Is it hardcore metal, deathcore, metalcore? Hard to say. Some people think we're a hardcore band, some say we're metalcore. It depends on point of views and what the people feel when they listen to our music. We do think we're a metal band. Each member brings his personal touch and influences. It's no surprise you can find many different things in our sound. The main thing for us is to play something powerful that people like to move to when we're playing live. We love live communion, that's what drives us.

Recently you released your latest album, called Theory Of Happiness, how are the responses so far?

So far so good! We've been doing a release party on May 19th in a club that we know pretty well. A lot of people showed up, they loved the show and the album as well. Some people have always something to say about your music of course, that's what this world's diversity is all about. We're always very open minded to criticism as long as it's constructive. But as I said before, so far so good.

Theory Of Happiness is your first full-length, how does it feel to finally have it released?

Having your record finally being sold in record stores is one big relief. It's a hard work to achieve. You have to be constantly precise and meticulous, remain alert. Once it's over at last, you're really happy. After a little pause in writing, we're now ready to start working on the next one!

When you compare Theory Of Happiness with your debut EP, Wake Up (2012), what differences do you hear?

That's funny because I listened again to our EP recently, and I still think it's cool. People are often jaded by their previous works, they always want to sound better next time… But I honestly think the EP's ok. We'd worked a lot on it, particularly in terms of sound. Of course there are some differences. It doesn't sound the same because we didn't record at the same place. Drums and bass don't sound the same because musicians are not the same anymore. Yet the spirit of Fireback can be found in both lyrics and music on the two recordings.

In your presskit, you state the following about the album title and its lyrics: "The title of the album speaks by itself and sums up what the lyrics are all about. We're living in a world that's dominated by a growing oligarchy which tries – through advertising and media – to force feed us a theory of happiness and teach us how to be « happy ». A human existence threatened by the lethal domination of money and power." Do you think there is a solution for this problem, and if so, what do you think it is?

We're not here to find solutions. We don't want to be that « holier-than-thou » kind of guys, we're just watchers. We express our thoughts, our reflections about the world that surrounds us. There are solutions of course, but which one is the good one? What we see and what disappoints us is the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Knowing that a human being is able to enslave another man with his power is something we don't find fair. Regarding the album title, it's about powerful people that want to tell us how to be happy, what to like… through advertising and media. Buy that car and you'll be happy, buy that household product and you'll be happy, listen to that singer, buy his merchandising and you'll be happy… Even while being fully conscious of that, you still feel like someone's trying to lobotomize your brain. We're sold a theory of happiness, a concept created by capitalists to sell more and more, and gather money endlessly. Why? To become richer than the rich and making others poorer than the poor. This total imbalance is lamentable.

Your lyrics are part English, part French, why did you decide to do it this way?

Our singer Seb decided to mix both languages. He thinks that French can help people in our country to understand the lyrics, and that English (on choruses for example) expands our message to non-French speakers. Many bands use English because it sticks to the rhythm. English is more melodious. But we chose to harden things a little bit with French parts, which are a more direct medium for us to deliver our message in our homeland.

What do you think about singing in English versus singing in a foreign language?

Some people like it, some others find that almost scandalous because one is not supposed to mix different languages within the same song. Even if we're not for globalization, we're defenders of multiculturalism, and linguistic diversity is part of it. Using our mother tongue is a nod to our original culture. It may become a benefit too at the end of the day: some bands got famous by using their native tongue, the most well-known being probably Rammstein. Strip German from their lyrics and you will lose the genuine spirit. Some French bands like Smash Hit Combo or L'Esprit Du Clan do sing in French and are able to export their music abroad.

Can we expect some Fireback shows in the near future? Maybe in The Netherlands?

We have some shows booked in France but nothing planned in The Netherlands for the moment. But why not in a near future, we'd love it!

Any other future plans for Fireback you can already tell us about?

We're currently writing our next album, slowly but steadily. We plan to shoot a new video, and we'd like to tour Europe if we find a good opportunity.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

First I'd like to thank you for the time you spent with us on this interview. We appreciate it, thank you so much. Thanks to the readers that have read this interview. Our album is available at shows but also online through Big Cartel or by getting in touch with us directly through Facebook. Check our first video for Desolation on YouTube. Feel free to check our Facebook page for any information regarding the band. Thank you all and see you soon!

Fireback Facebook

Monday, October 2, 2017

Interview: Samael


Samael, the industrial black metal masters from Switzerland are back! On October 13th they will release their new album, Hegemony, which also marks Samael's 30 year anniversary. DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen spoke with Samael's guitarist/vocalist Vorph about Hegemony, amongst other things.

Hey, congratulations with your new, upcoming album!

Thank you very much!

Looking forward to releasing it?

Yes, it has been six years in the making so I look forward to have it finally released.

It's a really cool album.

Thanks!

In January you signed with Napalm Records for releasing Hegemony, as it is called. What made Napalm Records the best label for releasing it?

We have tried a few labels before, we had a agreement with Nuclear Blast for three albums. We actually finished the album before looking for a label to release it and Napalm was already interested in us before. This time we really wanted to have an label that could spend time on us. About Nuclear Blast, who are great but very big, I was sure they would not spend so much time on us. We discussed about it with the people from Napalm, who are very dynamic at the moment, really on the rise. They are the best option for us.

When you compare Hegemony to its predecessor Lux Mundi (2011), what do you notice?

I see it as a following. Since some time already we tried to focus ourselves to what we thought was the most important. Trying to have an album that we can say here it is what we are. In the past we had a lot of experimentations and we enjoyed doing them, but somehow those were not exactly what really belongs in our core. With Lux Mundi, our previous album, we reached that point. We finally had an album of which we could say, this is what we are, what we do. This album is build on that, kind of next level.

The cover of Hegemony is created by Patrick Pidoux, who already did some other Samael covers. What's the story behind this one?

We spend some time on the cover, it's a long story. At some point we thought we would like to name the album Samael too. So, we went with the cover, but we already had a song called Samael. So we thought that if the album was also called Samael, it would put so much focus on that song and the rest will not have the places they deserve. So, we went for the opening track, Hegemony, which we thought would fit. We changed some little details and now it is how we wanted it.

The lyrics are mostly about the world we live in nowadays, what do you think of today's world?

There is a big connection with this album and the present time. That wasn't really something we were looking for, it just happened that way. On the previous albums we always pretty much isolated ourselves, created our bubble and stayed in it. After recording we came back to reality. Nowadays, you almost can't do that. Information is coming at you all the time, it parasites on creative things and that made the connection. I don't see it as good or bad, but it's true.

When I read the lyrics it came to mind that it describes a lot is wrong in nowadays world.

I don't know, I am not trying to judge it. There has been a lot of wrong things before in a different way. Personally we are trying to be the best possible in the world we live in. It's a fact that at the moment a lot of people are stepping back. Maybe they are afraid of the future or because of things they are unknown with. The media also scares them all the time. I don't think we judge it, we said it the way we feel it. It's more a reflection, a mirror of the world. It's not a confrontation but a response. When something comes at you, you take it for granted or you react. There is also part of reaction in the lyrics.

Hegemony marks Samael's 30th anniversary, how do you look back at those years?

I don't really look back. Of course, as we're talking about it, I do. This is our 30th anniversary, but furthermore we didn't plan anything special. We didn't want to have a special tour or something. The best way to celebrate it for us, was to do this new album. We're not looking in the past, we aren't a nostalgic band. We look forward, we come with an album which is really strong. It makes sense of the many things we have done. We are moving forward, this is not an album which is looking at the past.

Since you already have a long history, is there anything still on your Samael wishlist for the future?

Of course there is, a lot of things. It's always the same thing, do a new album and do a tour. Now, when the album is done, we want to present those songs. We already played live many times, but we haven't played much of this material. We want to present it to the people, play it live to them. After that, I don't know. Probably at some point, we feel like we should do a new album, it's like a circle-thing. It's very basic, but it still gives a kick. It doesn't have to be more than that.

Nothing on your wishlist you haven't done before?

It's pretty much playing shows, there are many places we haven't played so far. I would say Japan, we look forward to play there once. It might happen next year, hopefully. We haven't played Asia in general, Australia, didn't play a proper tour in South America. We played some shows there, but we would really like to play something like ten or twenty shows in South America. A lot of other places too of course.

You and Xy are brothers. How is having family in your band?

It's been easy for us. At the time we started playing together, still living at our parents' place, so we always played together. We were rehearsing every day. After our bassplayer joined in, you can't keep that tempo, so at that time we rehearsed around three times a week. Now, there is some more distance, we don't live together, we each have our own live. We still have the connection through the music, so it's kind of a red line for both of us. When I remember things in my life, quite often I think of it as around which album it was. Those are the landmarks of my life. This is the backbone of my life.

Since you formed in a period without internet, what do you think about it, as an artist?

It changed a lot of things, but it was also progressing. So I got used to it, I can't tell you whether it is better before or now. Of course, somehow it's better today, communication is easier. When you made a song you can distribute it through internet to a lot of people. Back then you have to record it on cassette and then you will have to find people to send those cassettes to, which made it a really slow process. At that time it all went very slow, you had to share flyers to get people hear about you. Nowadays it gets a lot faster, but on the other side there are a lot more bands so it's more difficult today to be noticed. We probably are lucky to already have a name before it got out of proportion as it is nowadays.

And what about piracy?

Of course on a different level, but it also existed before internet. There will always be people who love to hear music, but don't want to pay for it. There's nothing you can do against it. Personally, besides playing music, I also am a fan of music. I always paid for my music, it is some sort of respect.

You already announced four upcoming tourdates at this moment. Can we expect more tourdates in support of Hegemony?

Definitely, at the moment we are looking for an European tour, but nothing is confirmed yet, so I can't give you any info yet.

Will The Netherlands probably be part of it?

We will definitely want to come to The Netherlands, if we can't do a clubshow there, we will come to a festival. It's one of the places we played a lot, especially in the early days. It always is a good place for us, so we are definitely looking forward to that.

What are some differences between audiences you saw?

There can even be a difference between the audiences in the same country. You'll never know how the response is going to be. You have to convince the people at the concert. We always prepare to give a great show and look to make a connection with the audience, that will decide how the show will go. When that connection is made, everything will go great. If not, you have to fight through the show to keep the people interested.

What does a Samael show look like?

Well, you should come to see one.

Would be nice!

Well, we play our songs and try to give them a different dimension than on the record. Studio and live are two different things and so we aren't trying to do it live the exact same way as in the studio.

What do you like more, touring or studio?

I like both, at first I liked playing live more, but then I learned to love the studio. Studio times are great times too, it is more intellectual, you think and discuss about your music and try things multiple times. Live is more like you know your songs and you have to show it, I really like that too. Live and studio are two absolutely different things for me, I really like both of them.

Besides releasing Hegemony and some, already confirmed, shows, are there already any other future Samael plans you can tell something about?

Actually no, but I think this is already quite something. This is a very exciting moment and we will see. We will look forward to what's coming.

Thanks for your answers! Is there something you want to say to DutchMetalManiac's readers?

It was a pleasure. I hope they going to check our album, Hegemony and I hope they are going to like it. Because we spent a lot of time on it and I sincerely think this is our best album, like every artist will say when they have a new album, but just listen to it and make up your mind.

Samael Official Website
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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Review: Sisters Of Suffocation - Anthology Of Curiosities


Dutch all-girl extreme metal band Sisters Of Suffocation formed back in 2014, and have since then made a name for themselves within the Benelux area due to extensive touring. After their last year’s EP Brutal Queen, the girls now release their first full-length, entitled Anthology Of Curiosities. According to their Facebook site, we cannot expect fluffy unicorns and glitter- so what did the Sisters come up with?

Brutality, that’s what. Right from the first notes of Shapeshifter, it’s all about the in-your-face-feeling. Growls combined with heavy drumming and fast guitar riffs make your head bang throughout the entire track. It’s a slower start then for I Am Danger, with clear chants – only to unleash the beast once again after about a minute. It’s then full on speed throughout tracks 3 and 4, with the latter, called This Is Not My Home, ending in a soft, instrumental outro. This extends to the intro of I Swear, the album’s fifth track, and can be seen as a moment to breathe before we have the aforementioned death metal bludgeon back on us, this time paired with some mid-tempo passages. There is clearly a trademark sound to be heard of the band, but some little twists and turns, here and there, prevent the whole thing from getting boring. Examples are a small recited part within Our Bodies Will Rot, some Arch Enemy vibes towards the end of Dysplasia and the predominance of a stompy, mid-tempo sound within Psycho Surgery.

In conclusion: with ten quality tracks, Sisters Of Suffocation have managed to produce a very good debut album. They manage to keep the listener engaged and are clearly great musicians, so that time flies while listening to Anthology Of Curiosities. Still, to my taste there could have been a bit more variation, but nevertheless the record comes recommended for all death metal lovers! 9/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

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