Saturday, April 26, 2014

Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism (2014)

From down under comes the interesting progressive metal band Teramaze. Besides from having a name that literally screams progressive metal, they have a sound that is true to the prog metal sound, but still feels modern and original with the mix of both melody and thrash.

"Esoteric Symbolism" is the band's 4th album, and it is not a album for the faint of heart. The length of the album is around 1 hour and 18 minutes divided into 13 songs that alters from 3 and a half minutes to 8 minutes. So no real mastodon pieces can be found here, but that matters very little when several of the songs are still very grand. It is pretty obvious that one of the band's inspirations are Dream Theater, since Teramaze have several similar features, and especially the singer Brett Rerekura sounds very much alike James LaBrie. Besides from Dream Theater, I can also find some DGM, Trivium and Symphony X in Teramaze's music.

It is the technicality that lifts the music in "Esoteric Symbolism". The drums and the guitars (delivered by Dean Kennedy and John Zambelis) tests the limits constantly on how far they can take the music. Just listen to the speedy solo part in "Parallels/Dual Reality", the intro in "Transhumanist" or the incredibly heavy and catchy "Punishment By Design", and you will hear some of the fantastic and interesting musicality that Teramaze is spoiling us with. But the band does also a good impression when it comes to the epic department. Songs like "The Divulgence Act" and "Dust of Martyrs" can easily create goose bumps with their epic, yet heavy, song structures.

The album ends with a trio of epic tunes entitled "VI Order Out of Chaos", "VII Darkest Days of Symphony" and "VIII In Vitro" (wonder what the band did with I to V?). These three are probably the meatiest songs on "Esoteric Symbolism" and they almost feel like three different parts of the same, humongous song. They fit nicely together and makes a stunning and epic ending for the album, but it might be too much for some to take in at once.

Ultimately, Teramaze is bringing a modern and refreshing album in "Esoteric Symbolism". The record is a heavy progressive album that feels original, and the music itself is well executed. In a time where Dream Theater is stumbling in every new album, it feels good that Teramaze delivers some great progressive metal.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Divulgence Act, Line of Symmetry, Punishment By Design, Dust of Martyrs, VII Darkest Days of Symphony

Rating: 9/10 Transhumanists

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Edguy - Space Police - Defenders of The Crown (2014)

I am a big fan of power metal, but I have always been two-sided when it comes to Edguy. Sure, I can see some of the comedy in their music and the guys in the band are far from bad musicians, but the band is always balancing on the thin line between being cool and being cheesy. They have mostly leaned towards the later option in the last albums and it seems like it does not get any better on this, their 11th full-length album entitled "Space Police - Defenders of The Crown". I mean look at that hideous album cover. I actually first thought that it was an alien android arresting that humongous bug until I noticed the Tom Selleck mustache. The alien android would have looked a lot better in my opinion.

But let us focus on the music instead, and for those of you who know and love Edguy, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. The music is, as always, grand epic power metal. You have probably heard songs like "Space Police" and "Shadow Eaters" in earlier Edguy and Avantasia albums, but "Space Police - Defenders of The Crown" delivers a surprisingly good amount of variety. From the heavy "Sabre & Torch" and the catchy "Do Me Like A Caveman" to the epics "The Realms of Baba Yaga" and "The Eternal Wayfarer", this album shows many sides of Edguy, both good and bad sides (but mostly good).

The bad sides are mainly represented in two songs. The first one is "Love Tyger", a song that has gotten some good critique from other opinion Sayer's. I just feel like it is a bad cliche from the 80's with cheesy lyrics. But the worst part of the song is the butt ugly music video. The band has never looked uglier than in that animated disgrace of a video. however I like the solo in that song. The other song is a cover of Falco's hit "Rock Me Amadeus", a very unnecessary cover that should have either been scrapped or just been hidden somewhere amongst the bonus material.

Speaking of bonus material, there is lots of it in "Space Police - Defenders of The Crown". It is mostly instrumental versions of some of the album tracks, but there are also two additional songs. "England" is the clear winner of those two with its nice humour and Elton John sound. Pretty good to hear about German blokes that celebrates England because they got Steve Harris. I would have definitely put that song in the normal CD instead of the "Rock Me Amadeus" cover.

The overall sound is good, even though it sounds a little more like a Avantasia album than a Edguy album. But then again, I am not surprised. Avantasia has been superior over Edguy during the last couple of years, so that Sammet borrows some influences from his side project to his original band is just natural.

Despite the hideous album cover, "Space Police - Defenders of The Crown" rises up as one of the better Edguy albums ever made. With a good bunch of songs and a honorable determination, this album is just another one of many good power metal release this year. And it definitely feels good that these German wackos finally delivers again.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Realms of Baba Yaga, Defenders of The Crown, Do Me Like A Caveman, The Eternal Wayfarer

Rating: 8/10 Shadow Eaters

Monday, April 21, 2014

Black Sabbath - Technical Ecstasy (1976)

Two robots screwing around on a escalator, that is the description that Ozzy Osbourne has about the cover art to Black Sabbath's 7th album "Technical Ecstasy". My description however, is that it is a cover that looks like it is coming from the 80's and that it would be more fitting in a Pet Shop Boys album. Seriously, how many of you would say that this is a fitting cover for the grand fathers of metal? But then again, the band continued their experiments with synthesizers and keyboards on this album, taking it further away from Sabbath's earlier albums, so the cover art could be closer to the music than what you would expect.

I wouldn't say that "Technical Ecstasy" is not a rock album, but it definitely feels weird to call it a Black Sabbath record. There is almost no darkness in this album, the one thing that really made the band stand out in that time. The only darkness I can find is the opening riff in "You Won't Change Me", but that is it. The rest of the music is either just typical rock or something Beatles inspired.

But I would not say that the music is bad, it is just mostly disappointing. The opener "Back Street Kids" has a good opening beat that then crosses over to Rush inspired keyboards, which feels kinda awkward, "Gypsy" is probably the most progressive track of the album, but it lacks the punch to really stick in my mind, and "All Moving Parts (Stand Still)" is a very laid back track that just chugs along in its own tempo. Together with the aggressive "Dirty Women", these are the tracks that makes "Technical Ecstasy" what it is. A album that will probably never be seen as one of the band's strongest moments, only a stable record that is not boring, but neither interesting.

The most interesting track however must be "It's Alright". Not because it sounds like something out of a Elton John album, but because of the fact that Bill Ward is the singer. That's right, the drummer takes the stage in this piano ballad, and I gotta say that his voice is pretty decent. It is not as special as Ozzy's vocals, but it fits well with the song. The song itself is not horrible, but it does not fit Black Sabbath very well.

For a Black Sabbath album, "Technical Ecstasy" is a weird one, but even if the darkness is completely gone, it is still an okay album. It just does not shine. The 8 tracks that is in the album are average, and they do not feel like they would fit in nicely with any other Black Sabbath record. I can recommend you all to give this album a try, just try to forget the predecessors before going into this album and you will not get disappointed.

Songs worthy of recognition: All Moving Parts (Stand Still), Gypsy, Dirty Women

Rating: 5,5/10 Back Street Kids

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lost Society - Terror Hungry (2014)

One of the bigger bombs last year was from the new crossover thrash band Lost Society. These Finnish lads made a big splash with their debut album "Fast Loud Death" that was fast, crazy and a whole lot of fun. So I was not surprised with the announcement that the band would release its sophomore album "Terror Hungry" as soon as one year after the release of their debut. I can tell this is a band that does not want to sit still, they want action and they want it now.

For those of you who listened to "Fast Loud Death" will definitely recognize "Terror Hungry". The album is packed with crossover thrash that goes faster than the speed of light, but I can tell some improvements here and there. The lyrics are not as juvenile as they were in "Fast Loud Death". You will not find a song like "Piss Out My Ass" on "Terror Hungry", but the band still has some way to go until they can write grand and meaningful lyrics. But then again, it is a crossover thrash band, so I do not expect Lost Society to create the next "Bohemian Rhapsody".

No, the band lets the music do the talking instead, and compared to the predecessor, the songs on "Terror Hungry" are a lot longer. Only 3 songs goes under 3 minutes while the same amount of songs goes over 5 minutes, which is surprising since crossover thrash is famous for their short, fast paced songs. But the band manages well to keep the intensity in every track they throw at your face.

And it is some good music that we are treated with. From the fast shredding "Game Over" and the "old-school" song "Lethal Pressure" to the bone crushing "Overdosed Brain" and the rocking bonus track "You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll", you will experience a vast variety of thrash in "Terror Hungry", although I still think that the variety was greater in "Fast Loud Death". No matter what, there are 14 songs to pick from, and it is hard not to find at least one song that you will highly enjoy.

"Terror Hungry" lives up to the hype that "Fast Loud Death" created. It is another fast paced steamroller that shows as much thrash down your throat that is possible until you either throw up or shit it out. This album is just another proof of who is currently the kings of crossover thrash. And I do not know about you guys, but this album makes me terribly hungry for even more music by these crazy Finns.

Songs worthy of recognition: Game Over, Attaxic, Lethal Pressure, You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll

Rating: 8,5/10 Brewtal Awakenings

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Black Sabbath - Sabotage (1975)

After some experimentation in both "Black Sabbath Vol. 4" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", Black Sabbath chose to go back to the rock sound they had in their earlier albums. Their 6th effort, entitled "Sabotage", is a more straight forward album from the band, a album that let the band pull off some steam since they were being sued by their former management during the time they recorded the album. This difficult time weakened the band in general later on, but it might have strengthen the band in this perticular album.

It feels again like the band is making music they want to play, and you can definitely hear it. Tony Iommi's riff are not only memorable, but they are groovy as well. Ozzy does a good job on the vocals and Bill Ward's drumming is just how you want it to be like. Could have wished for more of Geezer's bass, but it does not bother me that much.

Altough there are no songs in "Sabotage" that has gotten a world wide recognition, the album still has some nice gems in it. The most famous song from this album is probably the 9 and a half minute long "Megalomania" that is almost two songs merged into one. It starts of in a slow psychadelicmood which eventually evolves into more of a straight forwards rock song with a nice groove and an awesome riff. Also kinda like the keyboards in the end. Another personal favourite is the fast and thrilling "Symptom of The Universe", which is probably the fastest song the band has made during that time.

Those two songs stands out a little extra in "Sabotage", but the album itself contains 7 high quality songs ("Don't Start (Too Late)" not included since it is a useless intro track) that have different personalities and strengths. "Supertzar" is a spiritual instrumental with cool riffs and a heavenly choir, "Hole In The Sky" is a simple riff based song with no complications, and"The Writ" is a long smooth song that closes the album in a fine way. These are just some of the types you will encounter while listening to "Sabotage", and this versatility makes "Sabotage" a very exciting album, that just presents surprise after surprise. No songs are the same, but no song really skew off from the general direction the album is heading towards.

Except for the clothing choices on the album cover, everything works perfectly fine in "Sabotage". The good selection of songs and the more straight forward approach makes this one of the best Black Sabbath album up to date. There is very little to dislike about this rock album, and I can also feel that the band itself was very pleased with making this record. Definitely one of the band's finest records during the Ozzy era.

Songs worthy of recognition: Megalomania, Hole In The Sky, Symptom of The Universe, The Writ

Rating: 9/10 Supertzars

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lacuna Coil - Broken Crown Halo (2014)

The Italian band Lacuna Coil came out during the late 90's as one of many gothic metal bands with a female lead vocalist, and it is safe to assume that they now a days are one of the more successful bands from that era. But the band has become more and more mainstream rock for every album and leaving their gothic heritage behind them. That trend continues on "Broken Crown Halo", the band's 7th album. So if you expected a album that took the band back to its roots, then you are sadly mistaken.

There are definitely some dark elements in Lacuna Coil's music that shows where they are originally from, but it is the simplistic song structures and the catchy melodies that dominates "Broken Crown Halo". And unfortunately, this album is not a step forward for the band. I highly enjoyed the predecessor, "Dark Adrenaline", for its good variety and its personality, and even if "Broken Crown Halo" is technically a darker album, it miss some attraction to make me really excited over it. The only song that really stuck to my mind was "Infection". The song has an interesting flow and it is one of few songs where the male singer Andrea Ferro does not feel either useless or in the way for the female singer Cristina Scabbia.

There are some other songs that persuades me to liking them after some time. "Hostage To The Light" , "Victims" and "I Forgive (But I Won't Forget Your Name)" are all examples of songs that grows inside one's mind. And that is one of "Broken Crown Halo"'s biggest strength, it has a good life length which makes it not feel boring after a short time. Sure, the catchiness is not as great as it was on other Lacuna Coil albums, but it is still pretty easy to remember most of the songs.

The only thing that is missing in "Broken Crown Halo" is some kind of a punch. Most of the songs in the record have been done before by the band, but in a better way. I think that the album would have gotten a bigger impact if it had one very heavy song or one faster song, so the variety would not feel so left out in this album. And also, even if Andrea Ferro probably does some of his best work here in "Broken Crown Halo", I still think he takes too much of the attention. For instance, he tries to imitate Rob Zombie in "In The End I Feel Alive", which makes you focus on that instead of Scabbia's impressive work on the chorus. He will probably never leave the band, but I would appreciate it more if he stepped back and let Scabbia do more of the work.

"Broken Crown Halo" is far from broken, but it is obvious that the band has followed the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". The album is a mix of already used up ideas and some dark layers that gives the illusion of that the band is still gothic. There are still some intentions that are interesting and the band definitely know what they are doing, but they do not evolve very much and something tells me that they are satisfied with their current state, so the next album will probably sound a lot like this one. So if you did not like Lacuna Coil before, do not bother with "Broken Crown Halo", let the fans enjoy it instead.

Songs worthy of recognition: Infection, Hostage To The Light, I Forgive (But I Won't Forget Your Name)

Rating: 6/10 Zombies

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wine review: Crimson XII

Let me first clear up one thing. I am far from a wine taster and I am sure that my taste buds are either not fully developed yet or they have been damaged in one way or another. Also, since I am still in my early 20's, I have not experienced every different wine sorts that the world has to offer. I cannot tell the difference between a Merlot and a Shiraz, and I have no idea what wine goes perfectly well with what sort of meal. So if you want a opinion by someone who knows his wines, please go away. However, if you want to read what a young metal head has to say about this wine that was distributed by a metal band, then be my guest and keep on reading.

Anyway, the Swedish power metal band Hammerfall is just one of many, many bands that has taken up the trend of distributing a own brand of wine. Why has this been such a trend? I do not know, I have always felt that beer and whiskey is more metal than wine, but I guess not. But for me, it just felt right that Hammerfall's wine would be the first heavy metal wine that I would review. Hammerfall was one of my first true loves when it comes to metal music and I have been a fan of the band ever since "Crimson Thunder". And since it stood clear that there probably wound not be any more making of this wine, I thought to myself "I should buy it, taste it, and make a review of it".

So here we are. Crimson XII is a Italian 13,5% red wine made in the year 2011. It comes in 75 cl bottles and costs 120 SEK (around 18,5 USD or 13,5 Euro) per bottle. And I can assure you that it taste like a wine should taste. It is fruity and I think it would fit very well with a medium-rare steak and some potato wedges. And compared to other metal wines in the market, it stacks up pretty good both prize wise and taste wise. And yes, you do get drunk if you drink enough of it. So I would say that it is a must buy for fans of the band. But hurry, the last bottles are out on sales right now and all points towards that there will be no more making of this excellent alcohol product. Bottoms up.

Rating: 7/10

(and for those who wonders, yes, I was slightly drunk when I wrote the review, but you should be if you try a alcoholic product. Stay Metal!)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sonata Arctica - Pariah's Child (2014)

It has not been easy being a fan of the Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica these last couple of years. Since the release of "Unia" in 2007, the band has tormented its audience with unsuccessful experimenting and weak song writing. However, we might finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with the release of "Pariah's Child". Just the fact that the band has gone back to its original band logo (which they have not had on a album since "Reckoning Night") is a good signs for the old fans.

And sure enough, most of the music sounds more like the old Sonata Arctica on "Pariah's Child". Even if we do not get treated with a album filled speedy and true power metal song, it still shows some nice intentions that makes you remember what made you like Sonata Arctica in the first place, like the fast pounding in "Running Lights" and "Blood", the melodies in "Cloud Factory", and the brittleness in "What Did You Do In The War, Dad?". Even the winter and medieval feel that the whole album reeks off just makes you feel all warm inside.

It is an overall coherent album where all the songs feels like they belong in it. There are a lot of catchy tunes that makes it a power metal album, but the cheesiness is not so high that it makes the album sloppy. You can easily tag a long on tracks like "The Wolves Die Young" and "Cloud Factory" while other tracks, like "Take One Breath" and "Love", instead grows on you. The variation in the record is also very splendid and the band performs like professionals. And even if most of the tunes are somewhat predictable, it does not spoil anything, it is still pretty enjoyable for the listener.

However, all is not well with "Pariah's Child". There are also parts in "Pariah's Child" were it just feels so wrong that it is there. The track "Half A Marathon Man" is a weird mix of gospel, loud keyboards and heavy rock that just does not suit the band. Then we also have "X Marks The Spot" that is musically a decent track, but lyrically it is just way too corny for the band's own good. And then also the random preachings from the American gospel priest. What is even the meaning with that? Totally useless waste of space.

Even if "Pariah's Child" does not reach up to the same heights as Sonata Arctica's strongest works, it is still the band's best album since "Reckoning Night". Gone are most of the weird progressive experiments and they are instead replaced with what the band does best, melodic power metal. So welcome back from the darkness Sonata Arctica, we have missed you.

Songs worthy of recognition: "What Did You Do In The War, Dad?", Cloud Factory, Blood

Rating: 7,5/10 Marathon Men