Friday, October 30, 2015

Movie review: Deathgasm

Halloween is upon us, a time where kids goes out trick or treating, people dress up in ridiculous costumes, and the hottest horror movie franchises releases their bazillionth part. This made me realize that I have not done a movie review in ages, so I think I am gonna make it a yearly tradition, to do at least one movie review for Halloween, and luckily, I found just the perfect movie to start it all up.

*Screams SPOILER ALERT in the most black metal way possible*

"Deathgasm" is a Comedy horror movie made in New Zealand, about the teenager Brodie (Milo Cawthorne), a metal head that lost his mother to meth and is forced to live with his highly christian uncle and his family in the small town of Greypoint. After some time of being bullied by his cousin and some half assed games of role playing with his new friends Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell), he meets Zakk (James Blake), another metal head that seem to only care about himself and his music. These guys certainly creates a cool brotherhood of steel, even if their personalities are about as different as it gets.

The story really gets going when the guys sneaks (or rather breaks) into the home of Rikki Daggers (Stephen Ure), singer of Haxan Sword. Finding out that he has been spotted, Rikki gives a copy of one of his band's LP's to the guys, and tells them to guard it with their lives, and the guys get away just before some mysterious bloke comes in and kills Rikki. You see, inside this LP are the note sheets of the Virtutem Rex Daemonia Virtutem Fortuna, also known as The Black Hymn, a sort of a ritual tune for The Blind One known as Aeolath, the king of demons. Unknowing of the consequences, Brodie, Zakk, Giles and Dion gets together to form DEATHGASM, and performs the entire song, turning all of the humans within hearing range into blind possessed zombies. Brutal!

So yeah, the story is kind of wacky, but it is all great since it is not the most serious of horror flicks. It is certainly interesting enough so you would want to continue watching, and adding all these metal elements into it just makes it that much sweeter. However, it is the comedy that makes this movie good. Sure, at several points it could be a little too childish with its foul language and sex jokes (like when Brodie and Zakk killed Brodie's uncle and aunt with sex toys and left them looking like they were in the middle of a blow job), but it is portioned out in just the right amount of sizes so it will not get too cheesy. And this is just a personal thought, but I think the dialect makes the jokes even funnier. I have always enjoyed British humour, and the New Zealand dialect is sort of British, so it is close enough.

The gore levels are not too big, but you will certainly see a lot of blood in this movie. Several of these possessed beings just vomits the blood in the same way as the character Maggie Blackamoor in "Little Britain". You will also see some decapitations, chicks cleaving skulls with axes, eyes popping out, and penis chopping. In other words, some good old hack n' slash.

While the actors might not be too well known, they do a pretty good job, presenting their characters loud and clear, and the overall script is good, except for one scene where Brodie and Medina (Kimberly Crossman) goes through a typical teen age movie love scene, sitting together with some awkward conversation and a good bye that clearly hints that the spark between them is lit. The only thing different between this and any other American teen age movies is the black metal makeup corpse paint. I also think the effects are pretty uneven, some being pretty cool and well made, while others you can actually tell that those really are fake.

Mmmmm, tastes a little cheesy

So this movie does have some flaws, but the movie crew did way more right things with this movie than bad things, one being the sound track, including tracks from Skull Fist, Ihsahn, Emperor, and many more. I also do like the ending (once again if you somehow missed it, SPOILERS), in which Aeolath is defeated, Medina gets her Brodie designed tattoo (and completes her transformation into a pure metal chick), and while Zakk is brutally murdered, his soul still soars through the power of metal, which leads to a interesting conversation with him and Brodie after the credits (weird, did not think Marvel made this movie).

Spoilers end here

"Deathgasm" is a must watch for those who enjoy metal and British humour (even if it is made in New Zealand). It is not at all scary, but it will give you tons of good chuckles through all of its 80 minutes of play time. I even dare to say that this is the best thing that has come out of New Zealand since the "Lord of The Rings" movie trilogy. So if you want to have some fun this Halloween, "Deathgasm" is a great choice.

Rating: 8,5/10 Metal Zombies

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Amberian Dawn - Innuendo (2015)

Most of us are bummed out that Amberian Dawn have gone down the same path as Nightwish, from being a exciting power metal band with opera influences, to becoming more "normal" in their approach. And while I did enjoy "Magic Forest", I had an uneasy feeling that the band's original personality was close to be extinct, and that the extinction would happen in any of the coming album. It certainly seems like I spoke too soon about that.

Released only one year after its predecessor, "Innuendo" is Amberian Dawn's 6th studio album, and it continues on the same road in which the band has been going on for quite some time. While the performance is stupendous as usual, I miss the technicality and speed that the band had in its early phases. No crazy guitar solos, no power songs a la "Lionheart", and no Heidi Parviainen and her opera voice. The only thing remaining is the symphonic aspect of the music, which even seems to be highlighted with the song "Symphony Nr 1, Part 1 - The Witchcraft", a interesting song that acts more like a play than a actual song, which is kind of weird.

Now, I will say this, the cover looks amazing, certainly my favourite cover from the band to this date. It got details, and it just fits the band perfectly. It also displays the music pretty well, those small touches of classical music takes you to some royal masquerade ball some time during the 18th or 19th century. I can imagine that it was a simple time to be alive, no worries about global warming and the phenomenon known as Hipsters had yet to be invented. Splendid!

But back to the music in "Innuendo", I rarely find myself disliking any of the tracks in this album, but I cannot really say that I love any of the tracks. During the short period of time Amberian Dawn has been around, they have created some amazing power metal, so I guess it is easy to compare this with the early material, which really makes it injustice. I tried to disconnect those thoughts, treating "Innuendo" for what it really is, but it just left me feeling the same way anyway. Not saying that the album pure out blows, but it does not blow me away either.

There is still some interesting music in this album, and it certainly meets the standard that the band has established during its existence. The opening act "Fame & Gloria" is one of my favourites with its great instrumentation and a structure that helps in telling the story. It is also one of few songs in which Capri excels with her voice. "Rise of The Evil" catches my attention with its heavy approach, and while the chorus may be tamer than what I want it to be, it is evened out with a terrific two part guitar solo, and the same can be said about "Chamber of Dreadful Dreams". For those who wants more classic AD, listen to "Ladyhawk" and the title track

"Innuendo" is a charming little album, with a nice old fashioned personality that fits the band as well as the fantasy did in the previous album. The music might not be as strong as one would hope, but it is certainly still enjoyable. With that said, I still find the early material to be better and more exciting, and no, it is not because of the opera vocals. Bring more insanity to the music please, and loosen up on being as fancy as a upper class citizen.

Songs worthy of recognition: Rise of The Evil, Fame & Gloria, Innuendo

Rating: 6,5/10 Ladyhawks

Friday, October 23, 2015

Black Tide - Chasing Shadows (2015)

You guys cannot understand how afraid I have been about listening to this album, like really, REALLY afraid. Let me tell you about the background of this fear, Black Tide burst out into the music scene in 2008 with the album "Light From Above", an amazing album that mixed old school speed metal with more modern elements. It was my jam for several years, and I could listen to songs like "Shockwave", "Black Abyss", "Light From Above", and "Warriors of Time" for hours. Then came the much awaited follow up, the 2011 release "Post Mortem". I freaking hate that album, they completely removed the old school part of their music, and became just like any other stupid mainstream rock band from that time. Some songs had a little redeeming quality to them (like "That Fire" and "Let It Out"), but most of them was just trash. It wasn't even the same band anymore.

Before entering "Chasing Shadows", I made sure to pray to every god like creature that the album would turn out good. I prayed to God, Allah, Buddah, Spongebob, Arceus, and even the three Egyptian God cards from Yu-Gi-Oh, just so the band would return to the kick ass music they performed in "Light From Above", with soaring vocals, insane guitar play, and playful lyrics. I even got a glimmer of hope back when I saw that their old logo was back, maybe there was a god after all, hearing my prayers.

Sadly, the grim truth stared right at my face after just one spin of the album. This album takes Black Tide further down the pit they have dug for them self, a pit they most likely will never escape. I am stricken over how tame everything is, from the overall presentation to the lyrics ("Sex Is Angry" is a big contender in the "worst lyrics" category when I summarize 2015). The album cover may be 70% pure darkness, but the inside is all warm and cuddly, and not in a good way.

The thing that pisses me off the most is just how weak the band has become. Sure, they can nail a solo here and there, but the song writing is so bland and uninspiring that I just want to beat the crap out of it. There is no bite, no fire, and no fight what so ever. And what happened to the singer Gabriel Garcia? Is this really the same guy that screamed his heart out in "Light From Above"? I can understand that his voice has gone through some changes (since he and the rest of the band was really young during the recording of "Light From Above"), but this cannot be blamed by puberty.

Now, I know what you are thinking, isn't there some way that they have matured and evolved their sound, and do you not encourage bands to evolve? Yes I do, but there has to be a good reason for the band to evolve their sound, and most importantly, the evolution has to go smoothly so the core of the fan base is not lost. Black Tide has failed miserably in that part, changing waaaaaaaaaay too fast for their own good. It is practically a new band that is presented in "Chasing Shadows".

So, are there some redeeming quality to this album? Yes, the guitar work deserves some praise, hitting a couple of nice solos scattered around the album. It is the only part of the band that is consistent and trust worthy. I also guess that the production is not that bad, sounding fairly polished. So the album is not the worst piece of shit I have ever heard, but you cannot polish a turd and sell it as gold.

With the release of "Chasing Shadows", I have officially lost all respect and hope for Black Tide. The guys are still young, but the fact that the band has changed so drastically and is still releasing records via Interscope Records (whom also have Limp Bizkit, Nine Inch Nails and Lady Gaga (?!)) makes me believe that they have left their metal roots behind them. "Chasing Shadows" is just god awful, a fluffy album with some interesting guitar work, but nothing else that is even close to enjoyable. In conclusion, there is no god, listening to our prayers, and the youthful passion that characterized Black Tide is long gone, and so is the awesome music.

Song barely worthy of recognition: Guidelines

Rating: 1,5/10 Predators

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Queensrÿche - Condition Hüman (2015)

It feels so good that the whole Queensrÿche controversy is completely over, and that the band can now fully focus on what really matters, creating a kick ass album. While I did love "Queensrÿche", I did feel it was a bit short, so I was really hoping that the band would create another album like that one, just longer.

Enter "Condition Hüman", a album that certainly goes in the same tracks as its predecessor, reliving the band's glory days with songs that is reminiscent of the band's earlier works. It is progressive, epic and well crafted, displaying a harmony the band has not shown in ages. I can tell that they have left all of this mumbo jumbo behind them (unlike one certain gentleman said he would).

I am still a little bit uncomfortable with the new singer Todd La Torre. It is not that he sings bad or that he does not contribute in the song writing process (he is a co-writer in all but one song), but the fact that his voice is so similar to the one of Geoff Tate. I can still endure it since it fits so well with the music, but it is pretty damn hard to ignore it all together. You just have to live with it, which I certainly can do as long as the band is pleased with him.

The band seem to have listened to its critics, making "Condition Hüman" 53 minutes long, a perfectly ideal length of an album. However, this does make this album not as tight as "Queensrÿche", fitting some fillers among the twelve songs. It still does hold some good fire power within it, enough to make it a really pleasant experience. Most of this fire power comes in the beginning of the album, setting a high standard instantly with great tracks like the melodic "Arrow of Time", the epic "Hellfire", and a fist pumping "Guardian", in which it sounds like the band wants revolution cola (wonder how much different it is from the regular kind?).

After a strong start, the album loses some momentum, but not enough to lose the listener entirely. While songs like "Hourglass" and "Bulletproof" may not be some of the most thrilling songs the band has ever created, they do help in giving this album a grand and complete feeling of satisfaction. While "Queensrÿche" was mostly dark, "Condition Hüman" is more on the lighter side of the spectrum, displaying some sort of a "light at the end of the tunnel" mood that does fit well. It stands clear that the band knows how to give their albums personalities, and they do it with the honor.

"Condition Hüman" is definitely in the same league as "Queensrÿche", but for different reasons. The albums are almost as polar opposites to each other, one being short and tight, while the other is longer and more loose. It definitely seems like the band is in a state of peace and that they fully enjoying their current situation, and they should, because they are creating some of their best music in ages. Music so good that you almost forget that guy who tried to steal the name of the band.

Songs worthy of recognition: Hellfire, Arrow of Time, Guardian

Rating: 8/10 Hümans

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lightning Bolt - Fantasy Empire (2015)

There has gone some time now since the release of Rock Band 4, and out of the entire on disc set list, there is one song that has caught my attention for several crazy reasons. Lightning Bolt's "Dream Genie" is one of two songs that has a devil tier rating on all of the instruments, mixing incomprehensible vocals with spastic guitars and bass. And the drum section? This song has the absolute hardest drum chart I have ever seen in a Rock Band set list (not including DLC), with a fast bass pedal pattern that goes on for 7 straight minutes, with no breaks in between. And to top it off, we have some quick fills scattered throughout the song, just so your arms gets a workout as well. Just take a look at it for yourself and judge just how insane it really is.




This certainly got me interested in the band, and how they sounded in a full album, but before I dove myself into that, I did some research on the band just to understand them and their music more. Lightning Bolt was formed by Brian Gibson (bass), Brian Chippendale (drums) and Hisham Akira Bharoocha (vocals), with the latter one leaving the group 2 years later, leaving Chippendale with the vocal duties. The duo performs a genre called Noise, which is a pretty self explanatory name. It is not a genre I am too familiar with, and after listening to "Fantasy Empire", I do not think I will dive deeper into it.

Because noise is exactly what you would expect it to be, pure noise. I can admit that there is some melody to it and some structure, but man, it is often so insane that you would think the guys just recorded them self smashing a hotel room using their equipment as hammers. The production is far from clean, which I actually think is intended, just so the overall mood of the record is right for the band. While it does work, I still find it odd that the vocals are so muddled out that you barely can hear it, even less extinguish the words.

Even though this genre is one of the weirder ones I have encountered, there is one thing I do admire, and that is the groove. Damn, some of these tracks are so groovy that some people would think I have parkinson by looking at my twitching feet. Most of this groove is created by Brian Gibson and his bass. He has sort of a spastic, frenetic style that tingles your nerves in a pleasing way. Add the insane drumming style of Chippendale, and you get some groovy insanity in songs like "The Metal East", "Over The River And Through the Woods", and my personal favourite, the RB4 song "Dream Genie". It goes without saying that I understand why this song made it into the set list.

Despite some really groovy tunes, I am having a hard time appreciating the album. The middle part of the album is cluttered with songs that are hard to identify, songs that has no memorability factor to them at all. And even if there is some guitar in the album, it is heavily under used, probably because there is no official guitar player in the band. Not saying that you cannot enjoy a song that does not include a guitar, but the guitar is better than the bass to focus around.

With all this said, the duo does seem to have a lot of energy and passion to put on a good show. I watched some of their live performances on youtube, often performing close with the audience, in a sort of guerilla type environment, creating tons of insane energy. I would certainly visit one of their shows for this reason alone, because the music sounds like complete chaos to me, so it would be all about the experience.

After getting a clear picture over Lightning Bolt, I would probably put them under a folder I would like to call "bands I would like to see live, but not follow thoroughly". I can see why some people would enjoy this type of music, however it is a little too chaotic for my own taste. With that said, I still find "Fantasy Empire" to be a interesting album with some good highlights that I will put in my main set list on Spotify. As a whole, "Fantasy Empire" is a decent album for the ones that likes to be crazy once every now and then, and for the ones that likes to get their feet destroyed by mimicking Chippendale's drumming.

Songs worthy of recognition: Dream Genie, The Metal East, Over The River And Through The Woods

Rating: 6/10 Mythmasters

Friday, October 16, 2015

Best of Amon Amarth

Another discography fully reviewed, and I have to say, this may be one of my favourite discography reviews so far. To follow the band and their evolution album by album was a real treat, and the high standard helped it making a very enjoyable experience. This has definitely made me appreciate the band even more than what I did before, and it also opened my eyes up on their older material, that rough as it may be, is still a interesting listen, and a very important part of the band. Enough talk, these are the best bits from Amon Amarth and their discography.

Best albums

3. Versus The World
This is the album that completed the band's transformation, from being an underground black metal band, to melodic death metal mega stars. Okay, I may have over exaggerated over that transformation happening over one album, but "Versus The World" certainly laid the foundation for what would come for the band in the future. The crisp production and the melodic riffs ties tightly together into a extremely strong force of viking metal.

2. With Oden On Our Side
Out of all of the nine albums in the discography, there is no other album that possesses more variation than "With Oden On Our Side". This album displays everything that has made Amon Amarth such a strong force in the metal world. From the catchy riffs and epic melodies, to the beautiful moods and neck breaking speeds, the band unleashes a full on assault to match a viking brigade with a thousand ships. Oden must be proud.

1. Twilight of The Thunder God
I had the same dilemma when I had to rank the albums of Iron Maiden, how do you separate two albums that got a perfect score? It all fell on which was the most memorable, and that meant that "Twilight..." won by a land slide. Who can forget songs like the title track, "Guardians of Asgaard", "The Hero" and "Where's Your God?". Everything else is almost perfect, great production, awesome instrumentation, and a consistency that reaches the astronomical heights. A album worthy for the gods.

Worst album

Fate of Norns
I should really stop using the phrase worst if the album actually is not bad. "Fate of Norns" is the most bland Amon Amarth album of the bunch, and it does not contain too many memorable pieces, but that does not mean it is a bad album. It just misses some creativity and personality, that's all. Still contains some good punch in it (like "The Pursuit of Vikings" and the title track).

Best songs

5. Amon Amarth
This 8 minute piece is far from the fastest song the band has made, but it makes up for it with an incredible mood, perfectly executed riffing, and a Hegg that delivers his grimmest of vocal performances. A true gem in a fairly muddy record.

4. Twilight of The Thunder God
As the song that made me discover the band, "Twilight.." contains all of the elements that has made the band so successful today. The long sweeping riffs, the memorable melodies, and the brutal voice of Johan Hegg. If you do not know where to start in discovering the band, I suggest you start with this song.

3. The Hero
A moving saga about a man and his regrets that certainly shows just how good the band really is. It is a different song from what the band usually does, but that is what makes it so good, it shows that the band has an incredible range, and that they can handle it really well. One of the more underrated songs from "Twilight..."

2. Destroyer of The Universe
Delivering a attack worthy of its name, "Destroyer of The Universe" runs over the listener with aggressive riffs, and inhuman speed. A heavily addictive song that gives you the license to go bat shit crazy.

1. Cry of The Black Birds
Damn, I love the beauty of this song. Because even if it heavy, melodic, rifftastic, and epic all at the same time, it is that sad, beautiful feeling that takes this song above them all. There is not an inch of my body that does not escape the goose bumps when this comes on.

Best album cover

The Avenger

I usually like more detailed album covers. Covers that has a lot of intricate details all over the square it fills. But there is something with "The Avenger" and its simplicity that really speaks to me. It is my favourite mostly because this reads loud and clearly as a viking metal album, and doing so without the use of a horned helmet or any of the gods is pretty impressive. This cover looks like it is ready to do battle.

Overall discography verdict

Quality: 9/10
The ratings speaks for itself. So far, the band has not done a single album I fully dislike, which is a really good thing. And the top of the discography is not too bad either.

Creativity: 8/10
The transformation the band has gone through definitely shows that the band possess a lot of creativity inside those skulls, and several well diverse album just confirms that fact.

Band chemistry: 9/10
If it was not for Fredrik Andersson leaving the band earlier this year, I would easily put a perfect 10 here. These guys know each other inside out, and they have a great chemistry on stage that shows it.

Musicality: 8/10
Most of the musicality is on Olavi Mikkonen, Johan Söderberg, and their great arsenal of riffs. The remaining parts of the band are no beginners them self, showing off some great execution in every album.

Lyrics: 8/10
Amon Amarth and its lyrics is best explained as Norse mythology for dummies, but that does not mean the lyrics are simple and shallow. The band knows how to create a epic story and tell the history of the gods.

Album rating summary

Once Sent From The Golden Hall: 7,5/10
The Avenger: 7/10
The Crusher: 7,5/10
Versus The World: 9,5/10
Fate of Norns: 6,5/10
With Oden On Our Side: 10/10
Twilight of The Thunder God: 10/10
Surtur Rising: 9,5/10
Deceiver of The Gods: 8/10
Jomsviking: 8,5/10


Average rating: 8,4/10

With that said and done, what are your favourite bits out of the band's discography, and do they deserve the recognition they have gotten, or are they simply just overrated? Do not be afraid to share your opinion, either here on the commentary field below, or via twitter (@FATGreviews).

This means I am gonna start a new discography review soon, but which band it is gonna be is yet not decided. If you have any suggestions, you know where to reach me.

Stay Metal
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Monday, October 12, 2015

Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising (2011)

If the song "Twilight of The Thunder God" got my eyes up for Amon Amarth, it was the following album, the 2010 offering "Surtur Rising", that got me hooked. This album continued on the same success recipe that its predecessor perfected. By mixing melody and brutality, and adding some really catchy choruses, the vikings had the right idea to make both its critics and fans happy.

For those of you wondering, Surtur (or in his Swedish name, Surt) is a jötunn, a mythological race of giants that lives in Jötunheimr, one of the nine Norse cosmology worlds. When Ragnarök occurs, he will be one of the leaders against the asagods, wielding a burning sword that shines brighter than the sun. I do not know about you, but it sounds like Surtur is one bad ass giant, and a great character to portray for a metal album.

And as usual, Amon Amrth does just that well. Their lyrics holds the quality you would expect from the band, ranging over several events in the Norse mythology, from Loke's treachery to the battle grounds during Ragnarök. All of this is splendidly told by the band, and well sung by Johan Hegg. If I ever would take a class on Norse mythology, I would love any of these guys to be my teacher.

Just like in "Twilight of The Thunder God", it is the excellent riffing that makes "Surtur Rising" such a great force. Just listen to the opening track "War of The Gods". Here, Amon Amarth unleashes their whole arsenal of riffs, the grinders, the melodic, the catchy, you name it. And to top it all off, they deliver one of the tastiest solos I have heard from the band. The tasty action continues in the groovy "Töck's Taunt - Loke's Trachery Part II", the follow up to the first part that was released in "With Oden On Our Side", and with "Slaves of Fear" that has some incredibly catchy riffs that are very easy humming along to. And I should not forget "For Victory Or Death", a beautiful creation and yet another track with awesome riffing.

The melodies certainly makes the album, but it is actually two extremely heavy tracks that highlights it and separates it from "Twilight of The Thunder God". The first one is "Destroyer of The Universe, a huge steamroller that runs over you with aggression and more aggression. A grim song that brings out orgasmic emotions from the listener. The other heavyweight is "A Beast Am I", probably the most brutal song I have heard from the band since their early days. The speed plus the crazy riffs and drum beats makes this song a big, ugly monster that cannot be contained. The surprise calm ending is a weird, but nice touch that works as a good transition to the last song of the album, "Doom Over Dead Man"

"Surtur Rising" is certainly another high calibre release from the Swedes, but it does lack some momentum in some songs to take it among "With Oden On Our Side" and "Twilight of The Thunder God" and their perfection. I will always remember this album as the one that got me into the band and secured my love for them, but after hearing out on their entire discography, I will not rank it as my all time favourite. None the less, an amazing album that deserves the praise.

Songs worthy of recognition: Destroyer of The Universe, War of The Gods, For Victory Or Death, A Beast Am I

Rating: 9,5/10 Slaves of Fear

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Trivium - Silence In The Snow (2015)

I have always considered Trivium to be the modern day version of Testament. While the bands are quite different when it comes to their sound, they both emerged into the scene fairly quietly, gaining a respectable and loyal fan base, but never getting the big world wide recognition. While Testament has been in the shadow of Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, Trivium has fallen behind such acts as Avenged Sevenfold and All That Remains. They have still made some good music through the years, and have certainly not lacked the quality to compete against the best.

With this said, "Silence In The Snow" could be one of my bigger disappointments of the year. Okay, I did not have humongous expectations for this release, but I did like their latest album "Vengeance Falls", so I hoped that they would be able to keep the momentum going high. I should have probably seen this coming, since the band has stated that this album would resemble their most famous creation, "Shogun" (the title track was even written during the "Shogun" era, but did not make it into the album). It usually does not bode good when bands does this kind of thing.

The most notable thing with "Silence In The Snow" is the complete absence of harsh vocals. Matt Heafy uses only his clean vocals in this album, which I do admit is his stronger side of the vocal spectrum, but it takes away some of the Trivium identity by doing this. Naturally, it also makes the album a little softer than the average Trivium album, which could be positive or negative depending on who you ask. I can stand it, if the song material is up to par with what the band is capable of.

Starting with the "old" song, the title track does have a tiny touch of "Shogun" in it, but I can see why it did not make the cut. The song is okay, but not overly thrilling, lacking intensity and wow factor. It gets better though, both "Blind Leading The Blind" and "Dead And Gone" are way more interesting, displaying good musicality and technicality.

But something happens after that. The songs loose their killer instinct, and starts powering down to about half the power. I am having a really hard time remembering the songs, because they are so bland and dull that I get the urge to do something else while I am listening, just to get things going. There are way too many songs in this album that is gonna be completely forgotten by this time next week (or even sooner) to make "Silence In The Snow" even a little interesting. It is about as colorful as the album cover.

"Beneath The Sun" and "Rise Above The Tides" does bring me out of my sleep, but they do not help the fact that "Silence In The Snow" is a surprisingly flat album. The main problem is not that Matt has stopped screaming, but the fact that the band has been unable to create 11 songs that utilizes his clean vocals. The album is the pure definition of the word monotonous, holding a even, but far from impressive, standard throughout the album. The band can do a lot better, with or without the harsh vocals.

Songs worthy of recognition: Blind Leading The Blind, Dead And Gone, Beneath The Sun

Rating: 5/10 Tides

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Children of Bodom - I Worship Chaos (2015)

After wandering in darkness for the last couple of albums, Children of Bodom finally seemed to be back on track with their release of "Halo of Blood" two years ago. A great, melodic assault that was easily the best from the band since "Hate Crew Deathroll". This certainly got my hopes up that the follow up would follow in the same foot steps, creating a perfect blend between the old and new Bodom.

The thing that made "Halo of Blood" so successful was that the riffs was no longer the main focal point. Instead, the band focused on a heavy attack. Going into the new album, entitled "I Worship Chaos", I was hoping they would use the same tactics again. They did, but to a much smaller extent. "I Worship Chaos" is more of the newer CoB than the older, a more melodic album where the structures are fairly simple and the riffs tries to steal the attention. This ultimately hurt the song writing in my opinion.

It also seems like the band has become more egoistic in the last two years, or one would think that when they release a album called "I Worship Chaos" and it contains songs as "I Hurt" and "My Bodom (I Am The Only One)". Besides from that, it is the Bodom we all know and love. The aggression is there, the technicality as well, they just miss the killer songs.  "Morrigan" is a typical single release that is easy for the fan to enjoy, but harder to love, and "I Hurt" has a good bite, but it will probably be forgotten in the long run.

The highest quality comes particularly in three songs. The title track and "Widdershins" both display some high speeds and nice technicality. They also have a cool solo to complement their sound. But my clear favourite is "Prayer For The Afflicted", a dark, gloomy, and slow song that shows a different Bodom than what we are used to. I really like this one because the mood and instrumentation goes incredibly well together, creating a overall impression that lifts the whole album.

Something that does not lift the album though is the three covers that comes with the digipack version of the album. I have never considered CoB as a great cover band, and these covers do not change my opinion one bit. Both the covers of  "Mistress of Taboo" by Plasmatics and "Black Winter Day" by Amorphis are acceptable, but then we come to "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins, and I loose my shit. Because every time the band covers a song that has normal vocals, Alexi sings horribly, like he is trying to hold back just so you can recognize the song they are covering. I think they could have done something cool here, made the song their own, but failed miserably. If you want a good "Danger Zone" cover, search for the one made by Psychostick instead.

I think "I Worship Chaos" suffers from the high expectations that "Halo of Blood" brought in. It is not a awful album, but it is not spectacular either. It has some small highlights here and there, but the quality of the craft does not meet up to the cover of the artwork (which I must say might be one of my favourites from the band this far). The band can do better, but they certainly can do much, much worse.

Songs worthy of recognition: Prayer For The Afflicted, I Worship Chaos, Widdershins

Rating: 6,5/10 Horns

Monday, October 5, 2015

Live review: Between The Buried And Me and Haken at Sticky Fingers, Gothenburg

Gothenburg, the unclaimed metal capital of Sweden. This city has produced tons of great bands over the years. In Flames, Dark Tranquility, At The Gates, HammerFall, The Haunted, the list can go on and on. So of course, it is only fitting that the city offers a great club for those, and other, bands to play on. And that club my friends, is Sticky Fingers.

Locating a stone throw away from Avenyn, Sticky Fingers is a two-part club that at a normal day and night is a good place to hang out, have a beer and meal, and listen to sweet music. But when a band comes to visit, the party is taken up one floor, to a stage that is elevated about 1 and a half meter above the dance moshing floor. For the short crowd, the is also a balcony just so you could get that great view over everyone. I have actually never visited the place before the show (mostly because I live about 160 km away from Gothenburg), so I did not know what to expect. I did enjoy the place though, and I would definitely return there if any other of my favourite bands visited.

Anyway, onto how the shows went.

Opening act: Haken
Opening up for the main act was one of England's finest progressive metal acts, Haken. I do not have too much of a connection with the band, but I did listen to their latest album, "Mountains" from 2013, and since I highly enjoyed it, I hoped the set list would revolve around it.

And it did. The set list included "Cockroach King", "In Memoriam", and "Pareidolia", all of them taken from "Mountains", making 60% of the set list. That was one thing I did not like, but was not surprised over, the short amount of songs in the set list. Since most of Haken's songs are very long, I knew that they would not get the chance to play a lot of songs. The total number of songs was 5, spanning a total play time of around 45 minutes, the other two being "Premonition" and "Crystallised", one of the newest songs from the band, taken from the "Restoration" EP released in 2014. "Crystallised" was massive, the studio version is over 19 minutes, but in the show, it felt like would never end. The complex rhythms, the dazzling riffs, and a keytar made this song the true stand out in this show.

But there were a couple of weird things that went on throughout the show. It often felt like the band was focusing more on not missing any notes than connecting to the audience. I swear that I saw one of the guitarist move like 3 or 4 times in the entire show (okay, I may have exaggerated there, but he did not move much). The only one really connecting with the audience was the singer, Ross Jennings, and he left the stage every time there was a long instrumental part. Okay, the stage is a little small for a band of 6 musicians, but he moved fairly freely when he sang, why not otherwise? And even if they were the opening act, it felt awkward that Ross told us what song they were going to play on every song.

So it was a fairly awkward show, and the audience did not help it too much either, but the band kept it professional and performed well enough for me to enjoy it. A good warm up for the entree.

Best: Crystallised

Worst: The overall weird atmosphere

Rating: 6/10

Set list:
Premonition
In Memoriam
Pareidolia
Cockroach King
Crystallised

Main act: Between The Buried And Me
I have watched Between The Buried And Me one time earlier in my life, and it was a poor show, not because of the band, but because they performed in the smallest stage with the worst sound in a festival that has not returned since 2013. I knew that the show they did in Metaltown was not the best the band had to offer, so I was pleased to finally see them in an environment that was more fitting.

damn this elevated stage, can't see Blake for shit
Since the band had recently released their seventh album "Coma Ecliptic", I was not surprised that the album was the focal point of the performance. The band played three songs from it, "The Coma Machine", "Famine Wolf", and my personal favourite "Memory Palace". It was pretty predictable that they would chose these songs for the tour, but the fans know these songs best, so it gives the band the best possibility to put on a good show.

But it is the older material that goes best among the audience. Starting the show with "Selkies: The Endless Obsession" was a bit of a shocker, but it did the trick pretty well, getting the crowd going instantly. I also liked that the band used the songs "Astral Body" and "Lay Your Ghosts To Rest" as a fusion, making it one solid unit. They did it the last time I saw them as well, so I was not surprised over that either (however I wished they would have chosen "Telos" or "Bloom" from "The Parallax II: Future Sequence" instead).

But ultimately, it was the material from "Colors" that hit the nail on the head, making the show a killer. "Ants of The Sky" ended the main part of the show, and it is a fantastic one with several tempo changes and technical solos. The band looked like they enjoyed it on stage and cooperated well enough to last the distance, and make every last part of the song, even the hillbilly part in the end, as perfect as possible. Another "Colors" piece served as the encore of the show, and even though I was surprised that the well known "Prequel To The Sequel" was left out in the set list, I was pleasantly surprised that it was "White Walls" that served as the closer. A great, final assault that made sure to make every single person in the building smiling when leaving. It sure did the trick on me

Paul Waggoner doing his thing

That has always been a strength of the band, they are always flawless in their performance, whether it comes to being in the studio or playing live. Waggoner rocks the solos like he has not done anything else in his life, and while I had extreme problems in actually seeing Blake Richardson behind his drum kit, I could hear his playing, and it certainly reminded me of why I hold him as one of my favourite drummers. One thing the band still has to learn though is communicating with their audience. There were almost no small talk what so ever during the full 1 h 20 min show, which does make it feel like this was just one done on routine.

To be fair though, the crowd was not helping the matter all too much. The whole floor was separated into rows of people, no shoving at all, which means that this show was not sold out (I guess around 200 attended). It also felt like the two front rows (in which I was a part of) was the only ones really excited over the concert, the rest just standing in the back chilling. It is definitely the quietest crowd I have been around, but it could be because the show happened on a Sunday, so there was probably not much alcohol included here. This also explains the relatively early show time (BTBAM went on around 21:30). So yeah... Sunday shows suck.

Despite these flaws, I did enjoy myself, and I certainly felt that the band got redemption for that show they had to endure back in 2013. I still think they could have put in one or two more songs in, but I like the set list, it has a little of all their famous albums, while still highlighting their new release. There still room for improvement though (both for the band and the crowd), and the first thing to fix is the date, shows on Sundays should be banned.

Best: Ants of The Sky and the perfect instrumentation

Worst: Sundays suck

Rating: 7/10

Set list:
Selkies: The Endless Obsession
The Coma Machine
Astral Body
Lay Your Ghosts To Rest
Memory Palace
Famine Wolf
Ants of The Sky

Encore:
White Walls

Friday, October 2, 2015

Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise of The Chaos wizards (2015)

Power metal is a funny genre. It is a very simple genre that is easy to enjoy, but also easy to hate. It also has its cheesy clichés that are hard to ignore while inspecting a newly released album. It gets even funnier when the band was created as sort of a parody band, bringing up all of those cliches, and adds a whole new dimension to them. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Gloryhammer.

Created by Christopher Bowes, singer and keyboardist of the renowned pirate metal band Alestorm, Gloryhammer tells the story of the epic and magical fights and tales from the wondrous and mysterious land we humans know as Scottland. In their debut, "Tales From The Kingdom of Fife", we got to know our hero Angus McFife, a brave king that defends his land from the evil wizard overlord Zargothrax. Does this sounds wacky to you? You have heard nothing yet.

Because in their sophomore album, they take the battle out to space, and to the future, more specifically the distant year of 1992. "Space 1992: Rise of The Chaos Wizards" is bigger, badder, cheesier, and most of all, better than its predecessor in any possible way. You just have to take a look at the band's new costumes to find out how far they have taken this project. Just look at Thomas Winkler, he has transformed from the Green Goblin's personal knight to the perfect mash up of Iron Man and The Green Lantern. I can only imagine the insanity they create on stage, with the costumes and their characters.

Behold, the mighty heroes (and villain) that makes Gloryhammer
The story here is taking place a full millennium after the first album, Zargothrax has been released from his prison of liquid ice and seeks revenge of McFife's kingdom. To stop his horrible plans of unlocking a portal that will finish off all life in the galaxy, Angus McFife XIII sets out on a quest to gather a mighty army, the ancient city Inverness, and yes, even Hollywood, CA. It all leads up to a grand and epic battle the likes the world have never seen. To say that the band took the whole concept over the top is an understatement.

The story is a fun one, but it gets a lot of help from the music. Because despite using a style that many would think is outdated and stupid, Gloryhammer sounds fresh, being more exciting than a lot of the more modern power metal bands out there today. Gloryhammer helps one remember why you loved this genre in the first place. The epic tales, the powerful music, and the confidence this album is showing are all huge parts of what makes "Space 1992..." such a wonderful record. Almost feels like you are a kid again, searching the CD shelves to find this colorful and intriguing album that sets of a spark inside you that turns into a hot flaming passion for metal.

"Space 1992..." does also have a impressive amount of variation in it, which certainly keeps it from being stiff. We do of course have the more or less standard, speedy power metal songs, like "Universe On Fire" and "Rise of The Chaos Wizards", and they are a clear highlight just because they fit the theme so well. Those are being mixed in with some more theatrical, Rhapsody of Fire like power tunes ("Goblin King of The Darkstorm Galaxy") and muscle metal ("Victorious Eagle Warfare"), but I do also hear that Bowes has borrowed some tricks from his other band Alestorm and implemented them in "The Hollywood Hootsman". A nice little touch. The strongest portion though is when the album reaches its epic finale, with the duo of "Heroes (of Dundee)" and "Apocalypse 1992", two ultra epic songs that does give the album, and its tale, the epic closure it deserves. If this was a movie, everybody would stand up in the movie theater and applaud while the credits starts to roll.

Yes, "Space 1992: Rise of The Chaos Wizards" is cheesy, but Gloryhammer does something that has not been done in at least a decade, bring something new and exciting to the medieval power metal. Taking the story into space is one factor, but it is also the great musicality that should get a lot of praise here for being the strong force that the genre needed. Gloryhammer does look a little ridiculous in their outfits, but I do not mind at all, because this is what makes metal so great, that a goofy gang that seems like they are ready for a game of Dungeons & Dragons can make such incredible music. I cannot wait to see what kind of shenanigans Angus McFife and Zargothrax will embark on in the future.

Songs worthy of recognition: Heroes (of Dundee), The Holliwood Hootsman, Universe On Fire, Apocalypse 1992

Rating: 9/10 Goblin Kings