Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Motörhead - Iron Fist (1982)

Jesus Christ, there are few bands who knows how to kick off an album better than Motörhead in their primes. With songs like "Motörhead", "Overkill", "Dead Men Tell No Tales", and "Ace of Spades", Lemmy and his crew have made sure that they blow you away every time you hit the start button. "Iron Fist" is no different, opening up with a title track that may have a lot of similarities with "Ace of Spades", but is still a kick ass track with blazing speed, fantastic riffing, and a chorus that you have to shout out. There is no bullshit here, just a knuckle sandwich coming at you straight from the start.

And that is probably the strategy the band had to have to even come close to the amazing "Ace of Spades", going balls to the wall with fast heavy metal that will melt your face. Here we have a 36 minute album that is packed with 12 songs, variating between 2 and 4 minutes in length, which almost makes this a punk album. It is obvious that Lemmy might have had too much free time to write songs here, because while the quality is even and nice, it flashes by like... well... The Flash. There is not enough time here to really appreciate the music, making it feel rushed.

Even if the ride is short, there is still lots of excitement to be had. All three band members have cranked up the volume and pushed the pedal to the metal, giving it all in an onslaught that is equally impressive as intense. "Iron Fist" also ended up to be the last we saw from guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clark (whom left the band a month after the release of the album), and while the chemistry between him and Lemmy was far from perfect during the recording, very little of that shows, with Eddie delivering some fantastic riffs all across the board. A really nice last outing from the dude.

And then we have the lyrics, which is more of what we have learned to love from the band. Everything from drugs, sex, and all of that stuff, but my favourite here might be from "(Don't Need) Religion", in which Lemmy just gives religion a good ol' middle finger. It is kind of simplistic in its structure, but with lines like "I don't need no blind belief/I don't need no comic relief/I don't need to see the scars/I don't need Jesus Christ Superstar", you simply cannot fail, even if the main riff here is clearly stolen from the Ted Nugent song "Cat Scratch Fever" (that is a parable I never want to hear again, that's for sure).

And while no song in here does not stand a chance against the title track, the remaining 11 tracks in "Iron Fist" are ranging from enjoyable to really god damn good. Both "Sex And Outrage" and "Speedfreak" are extremely fast songs that gets the blood pumping to my neck, engaging those head banging muscles. "Go To Hell" is a little more groovy, but it is still a catchy song that gets you in the right mood, and so does "I'm The Doctor" as well, while also injecting some humour to it. Yes, this album has small candies all over the place, just waiting to be discovered by you.

There is also a new Marvel show out now called "Iron Fist", and while I am sure it is good, I am also sure that it will not match up to the album "Iron Fist". While the album has some obvious flaws, it is still a kick ass record, delivering fast heavy metal that is also extremely infectious. It is a fun time all the way through its short run time, and it surprisingly also has a lot of replay value in it, even in this day and age. It is a knock out punch that have a long lasting effect, both physically and mentally.

Songs worthy of recognition: Iron Fist, Go To Hell, Speedfreak, (Don't Need) Religion

Rating: 9/10 Losers

imotorhead.com/
twitter.com/myMotorhead

More reviews of Motörhead
Motörhead
Overkill
Bomber
Ace of Spades
Another Perfect Day
Orgasmatron
Rock 'n' Roll
1916
March Ör Die
Bastards
Sacrifice
Overnight Sensation
Snake Bite Love
We Are Motörhead
Hammered
Inferno
Kiss of Death
Motörizer
The Wörld Is Yours
Aftershock
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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Vangough - Warpaint (2017)

I honestly do not know if the band name Vangough is just a weird homage to the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, or just some made up word that sounded cool. No matter what the origin of the name is, it is certain that this American trio knows their way around the prog woods, weaving through all the trees and landscapes with relative ease. It is still only a relatively young band (formed around 10 years ago), but they have already established a fairly solid discography, with especially the last two albums ("Kingdom of Ruin" and "Between The Madness") forming the band to a force to be reckoned with in the future.

"Warpaint" is album number 5 for the Oklahoma based group, and it is a more laid back record when compared to its predecessor. Instead of aggression and Leprous-like influences, the band is taking more of a Opeth route here, creating longer riffs, slowing down the tempo, and establishing an atmosphere that should make you think and wonder. It is quite impressive that Vangough can shape shift like a chameleon, changing tones from album to album while still keeping the core sound that makes Vangough.

One of the big reasons to why this change works so well is that the band performs with delicacy, taking good care of every melody and rhythm. Clay Withrow knows exactly which buttons he needs to push with his vocals, when he needs to go soft or rough, all to deliver the message through the listener. His band mates does a swell job too, Jeren Martin's bass creates a fuller landscape, while Kyle Haws and his drums turns up the intensity when it is needed, creating a more dynamic record. This trio has been together since 2011, and it does become more obvious by the album that they have a really good chemistry going.

While the band really does their best work to make everything as perfect as can be, I can only feel sorry that the song material is not some of the band's best. Do not get me wrong, the 7 songs that are featured on "Warpaint" are definitely good, just not brilliant in any way or form. The problem might be that the songs can easily be seen as a poor man's copy of any work made by any of the prog giants. Pain of Salvation, Tool, Opeth, yeah most legends have obviously been an inspiration to Vangough, but it is almost too obvious in the music at times. It is something that is really hard to ignore once you realize it.

The songs, while still enjoyable, are not too memorable either. I have listened to "Warpaint" around ten times or so, but I still have a hard time separating the songs apart. This of course makes a bigger picture, an album that is coherent throughout its run time, but it would have been nice to at least have one song that stands out a little more, besides from being much longer than the rest (looking at you "Black Rabbit"). This does not take away too much away from the album though, it is still a nice piece of music when listened from start to finish, and I honestly think that is the band's intention all along, not creating stand out "hits", just great music that works together in a time span of around 50 minutes, and in that sense, I think they have succeeded.

"Warpaint" is still a competent record though, and it should be appreciated as a good prog release, a solid creation that holds up well from start to finish. Yes, it might have some originality issues, but in the grand scheme of things, it is still a good effort by these guys. Sure, it is not by any means a shoe in for the top of the year list, but it is an enjoyable record that goes down relatively easy for a prog record. Besides, it has rabbits on the cover, and not only is it timely with Easter coming up, they are also bad ass (just ask the wizard known as Tim). So they may have some way to go before getting to the top, but they are doing so in a good pace right now, hopefully reaching their goal soon enough.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Suffering, Till Nothing's Left, Black Rabbit

Rating: 7/10 Morphines

www.officialvangough.com/
twitter.com/vangough

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Motörhead - Ace of Spades (1980)

If you go up to some random person and ask them the question "Do you know any song from Motörhead?", about 90% will answer "Ace of Spades". After all these years, this song is still their most famous one, so famous that Lemmy himself became sick of playing it every single show, but did it anyway because he knew the audience wants to hear it. And even if both "Overkill" and "Bomber" were successful, "Ace of Spades" was in a whole different league, giving the band commercial success that they could only dream of.

But why did this song about poker became so popular? The simple answer is that it kicked everyone's ass at that time, and it still does to be honest. The extremely fast pace was thrash before thrash even existed, ripping everything apart at impact. It is a ground breaking opening song that is also catchy as hell, even if it technically does not even have a chorus. Simply put, "Ace of Spades" is an awesome song that still holds up really well today, an ageless classic that always wins.

But to say that the album "Ace of Spades" is only referred to as a classic for its title track is not even close to true, because the albums offers way more goodness. The whole album is a fast, fun ride of hardened rock and roll with songs that are about all the stuff that is fun, like sex, gambling, sex, getting drunk, western movies, and sex. It is so typical Lemmy in the lyrics that you almost get too much of the good stuff, laughing and gasping to it all.

There is not a single song here that even comes close to being a filler, every song brings something to the poker table, whether it is jolly good swing ("Dance"), straight forward groove ("The Chase Is Better Than The Catch"), or blazing punk speed ("The Hammer"). No stone is leaved unturned, Motörhead unleashes the whole cavalry at you with kick ass songs as the choice of weapon. I am almost surprised that only two songs from this album became true classics, because I feel like several other songs here had the potential.

Then again, we are talking about the title track and "(We Are) The Roadcrew" after all, two of the greatest songs in the whole Motörhead discography. I have already spoken about the title track, so let us turn the attention to the other song, a homage to the band's hard working roadies that has an incredibly infectious rhythm, awesome guitar work signed by Eddie Clarke, blasting and Philthy drum work, and lyrics that is simple, fun, and really sing along friendly, even when you are drunk (gibberish works so god damn well with this song). It is simply the ultimate "Thank You" gift a roadie could ever get.

Overall, "Ace of Spades" is  a well rounded album that does not seem to have any real flaw at all. The songs are tight, the performance is insane, and the production is massive. There are so many elements to this album that just works together so well, making it very versatile and fun. It is a classic album that still holds up today, a real royal flush that sweeps home the tournament and the grand prize. A true ace up Lemmy's sleeve that knocks out the competition with ease.

Songs worthy of recognition: Ace of Spades, Love Me Like A Reptile, (We Are) The Roadcrew, Jailbait, The Chase Is Better Than The Catch, The Hammer

Rating: 10/10 Bitten Bullets

imotorhead.com/
twitter.com/myMotorhead

More reviews of Motörhead
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Overkill
Bomber
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Orgasmatron
Rock 'n' Roll
1916
March Ör Die
Bastards
Sacrifice
Overnight Sensation
Snake Bite Love
We Are Motörhead
Hammered
Inferno
Kiss of Death
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The Wörld Is Yours
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Raven Age - Darkness Will Rise (2017)

If you attended one of the many stops during Iron Maiden's first leg at their "Book of Souls" World tour, and you actually went to the concert when the doors opened, then you probably saw The Raven Age, the opening act for the entire tour. Now, why did this band get such a fantastic opportunity? Well, one of the members in the band is George Harris, the son of Steve Harris, so obviously it had nothing to do with that, must be something about this band potentially being one of those up and coming bands that everyone will have heard about ten years from now.

Anyway, now that they are done supporting the legends, The Raven Age have completed the work on their debut album entitled "Darkness Will Rise", and I hope you all are ready for it, because it is a big one. No, not big as "one of the most anticipated releases" big, but big as in a big album. "Darkness Will Rise" contains 13 songs that takes a hour and 14 minutes to get through, which is a lot to swallow, especially since this is a new band. The material here could almost fill two albums with the preferred length of 40 minutes, so why go big instantly when you got an entire career ahead of you? Not to mention that three out of four song from their self titled debut EP are included here as well ("The Death March", "Eye Among The Blind", and "Angel In Disgrace"), which is really unnecessary.

It does not help either that the album has a lot of the same tone throughout its run time, nothing that really stands out in any shape or form. It could be that the music here is kind of dated (melodic metal with very little riffs or solos that was popular about ten years ago) that makes it so stale, I honestly do not know, but I know that an album that has no form of ups and downs are just the same as an EKG, flatline equals death. Once again, this is a problem that could have easily been solved (or at least minimized) by cutting some songs from the set list.

In terms of quality though, there is not much to criticize here to be honest. The production is clean and big, and the band obviously has some sort of talent. It would have been fun to see some more personality in the performance, but it works here, and once again, they are still in their early stage of their careers, so they have the time to evolve as musicians.

But this all leads me back to what I stated before, why are they rushing things? Releasing so many songs in one go, all sounding roughly the same as well. We got some nice tunes here, like "Promised Land", "Winds of Change", and the three previously released songs (which I would not find unnecessary if they had just cut out a lot of other fillers), but they are few and far between. If the band would have just restrained themselves, then they could have produced a really nice product here.

So obviously this is not nearly as competent as what Iron Maiden is doing, so I will not compare too much there, however I would like to compare this album to another Maiden son's debut, Austin Dickinson and his band As Lions who released their debut "Selfish Age" earlier this year. That album is way more dynamic, but it is also much more inconsistent, which is why it loses ever so slightly to The Raven Age. After all, "Darkness Will Rise" is a fine album, nothing extra ordinary, just a consistently mediocre debut record that could potentially be the start of something good. I really hope that the band gained a lot of experience the last year, because they will need it if they want to reach the next level, both live and in the studio.

Songs worthy of recognition: Angel In Disgrace, Promised Land, The Death March

Rating: 6/10 Dying Embers

theravenage.org/
twitter.com/theravenage

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Nova Collective - The Further Side (2017)

Prog metal has evolved a lot over the years, twisting and turning into different shapes and sizes. Two of the bands that has led the charge are the Americans in Between The Buried And Me and the British band Haken, in different fronts as well. Haken is the more traditional band, taking inspiration from the past and future to create great epic pieces, while BTBAM is more on the extreme side of things, creating opuses that is inspired by acts like Queen, Rush, and Pink Floyd, but infusing blast beats and harsh vocals into it. Both bands are among my favourites, so you could probably imagine that my inner prog nerd went bananas when hearing the rumours of a collaboration project with origins from both bands.

BTBAM bassist Dan Briggs and Haken guitarist Richard Henshall started exchanging ideas back in 2014, and when the two bands toured through Europe last year, I can only assume that the discussions between them got all the more serious. So they teamed up with former Haken keyboardist Pete Jones and drummer Matt Lynch (whom is playing with Dan in another band called Trioscapes), and created Nova Collective, an instrumental prog project that is made from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Sound wise, it should come as no real surprise that we are more talking about proggy jazz fusion here. When I say it is not surprising, it is because of two reasons, one being that most of these mini prog projects are of this variety, and the second one being that both main composers are obviously fans of that type of music (most prog artists are tbh). So it is safe to say that this is not an album that will please all of the fans of Haken and BTBAM. There is no elements of metal in here, nor is there very little hints of influences of the main bands, so it might be hard to swallow if you are more metal than prog.

However, I think that every fan should give this album a chance, because there are some really neat stuff in here. Even if "The Further Side" (boy, that title sounds like they stole it from the "Insidious" franchise) only contains six songs, there is still a lot of meat to the bone. All of the songs have a minimum play time of 5 and a half minutes, with three going past the 9 minute mark, and the content within those minutes have a lot of depth to it as well, displaying some impressive playing.

All six songs are pretty similar, which makes "The Further Side" feel more like one big song instead, but the band still manages to put out some distinct differences here and there. We got some really nice bass riffs and Dream Theater like chaos in "Ripped Apart And Reassembled", and the opening song "Dancing Machines" has a lot of key work that is fantastic, and it also has a middle part where the guitar gets to shine, almost shredding to some degree. So even if I probably will remember "The Further Side" for its full picture, it does have details that are really nice.

Ultimately, I do not find anything in "The Further Side" that is either surprising or innovative, it mostly feels like fusion improvisation with some small hints of the members' main bands, which in itself is not a bad thing, it is just safe in my opinion. Oh well, "The Further Side" is still a neat listen that I think fans of both Haken and BTBAM should give a honest chance. The opening song alone is well worth the price, and both Dan and Richard shows off enough of their main influences in here to make it honest. A nice little side step from your normal metal reality.

Songs worthy of recognition: Dancing Machines, Ripped Apart And Reassembled

Rating: 7/10 States of Flux

www.metalblade.com/novacollective/
novacollectivefusion.bandcamp.com/

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Motörhead - Bomber (1979)

To me, "Bomber" has always had the reputation of being a fan favourite, an album that is clearly monumental in the history of Motörhead. However, looking at the setlist for this album, I do not find any songs that became hits or classics, in fact, the only reason I think "Bomber" is even considered a staple piece is because of the gigantic aluminum plane the band used while touring for the album, one that looked like the plane from the cover (sweet cover btw). But hell, what do I know, there might be more than the eye can see here, maybe this album has several hidden gems in them that just does not hold up against behemoths like "Overkill" and "Stay Clean". Let's find out, shall we?

We instantly get hit in the face with some great tunes here, with the groovy "Dead Men Tell No Tales" opening up, a more or less typical Motörhead song, both structure wise and sound wise. A great start, for sure, but it is the following song that catches more of my attention. "Lawman" is more of a slower, bluesy song that is poking fun at the police (not the band). Lemmy is certainly not afraid to speak his mind, and he does so in a lot of songs here too, so he was really on a song writing streak here, singing about television, marriage, and even some personal experiences from his childhood.

The biggest strength of "Bomber" is its consistency, while also offering a good amount of variety in its sound, blending the faster and groovy songs with more blues inspired bits. And while no song is really jumping out as a massive peak of the album, there is still a lot of great songs in this record. Besides the two I have already mentioned, we got songs like "Sharpshooter", "Sweet Revenge", "Poison", and the title track, all of them are fantastic songs that really elevates the album to the stratosphere.

Another notable song is "Step Down", which is not sung by Lemmy, but by the guitarist Eddie Clarke. Rumours say that Eddie did not like that Lemmy stole all of the spotlight, and Lemmy was so sick of hearing Eddie's complaints that he let him sing this song (an idea Eddie did not like at all). Whether he enjoyed it or not, Eddie is not that bad of a singer, and it would have been interesting to hear him in more songs in the future, but with a better song though, because "Step Down" is literally a step down compared to the rest of "Bomber", taking away momentum that the final two songs of the album could have really used.

So I have only talked good about this album, and it is obvious that a lot of people really like it too, but why is it rarely in the discussion of being the band's best album? Besides the obvious reason of it not containing any classic songs, I think the timing of this album was unfortunate. It was released about half a year after "Overkill", and about a year before "Ace of Spades". So "bomber" is squeezed in between two monumental albums in the band's career, which does make it easier for it being overlooked. Another reason could be that it is not the most ground breaking album, relying on its consistency maybe a little too much.

Nonetheless, "Bomber" is still a really fun album with tons of quality in it, delivering an assault that would make the Red Baron proud. It drops good song after good song on you, making sure that it wins the war against your bad mood. It is a highly explosive album that just solidifies their position as one of the biggest rising stars at the end of the 70's. We all know though that they would take an even bigger leap with the next album, taking them from being a great heavy metal band, to a legendary one.

Songs worthy of recognition: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Sharpshooter, Poison, Bomber

Rating: 8/10 Lawmen

imotorhead.com/
twitter.com/myMotorhead

More reviews of Motörhead
Motörhead
Overkill
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Orgasmatron
Rock 'n' Roll
1916
March Ör Die
Bastards
Sacrifice
Overnight Sensation
Snake Bite Love
We Are Motörhead
Hammered
Inferno
Kiss of Death
Motörizer
The Wörld Is Yours
Aftershock
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Blaze Bayley - Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II) (2017)

It has been a full year since Blaze Bayley unleashed the start of his sci-fi concept trilogy "Infinite Entanglement", so obviously it is time to present part 2 of this epic saga. It is an album that I have been waiting for, especially since I really enjoyed the first part, and did more so over time (if I would review it today, my rating would probably be higher than what I gave it at the time of its release). After also attending a live show in which the whole album was played, I was more than ready for the second part of the trilogy.

So obviously, "Endure And Survive" takes off where we left off in "Infinite Entanglement", with our protagonist William Black, seemingly a slave under the... what ever the bad guys are called. Anyway, William escapes his predicament, and starts his search for a safer place where he can relax and find out more about his past. Well, that is what I can get out of the album, and it is a reasonable continuation of what we were told in the first record. Nothing all too original, but interesting enough to make me invest in the album and the coming third part.

However, this is a music album after all, and it starts off strong with the title track, a classic Blaze song with a nice drive and an easy, epic, and sing along friendly chorus. That is followed by "Escape Velocity", another fast one that really gives emulates the break away that William Black is performing in the story. The third song, "Blood", is also nice, a really dark song that tells of our protagonists dark past, although I feel like the chorus here is kind of weak, not getting the impact the grim nature of the song needs.

And that is probably the key word for the album as a whole, it is weak, not utilizing its moments to its full potential. "Endure And Survive" is most certainly a calmer album, nothing wrong in that, but the song writing here just does not hit it at all, just ending up being, well, weak. Out of the slower songs, "Eating Lies" is the only one I feel is getting the emotions right, with some great guitar work by Chris Appleton, while songs like "The World Is Turning The Wrong Way" and "Together We Can Move The Sun" are just bland and boring, and "Remember" sounds like some throwback to a bistro in 1930's France. None of them adds anything useful to the album, except for some elements to the story.

The main problem ends up being that this album is not as memorable as "Infinite Entanglement". The song writing is more basic, the choruses are not as catchy, and the variety, while decent, is not anywhere near its predecessor. It is truly a shame, because I know that Blaze is putting his heart and soul into this trilogy, and the backing band Absolva helps out a lot too, but it all just miss something spectacular, something spicy, something really exciting. Fortunately, we have a few songs to lean back on, like the 4 first songs and "Dawn of The Dead Son", a song in the middle of the album that has a really nice rhythm and some cool vocal work.

So no, "Endure And Survive" does not match the quality of its predecessor, but it does serve its purpose, continuing the story to its second peak, before a grand finale that will probably be released in 2018. While this record has its weak moments, it still has some nice work in it that should not be missed, holding it just above the line of mediocrity. It is a little like the "Hangover" trilogy so far, the first one being entertaining, while the second part had more of the same, just not as good. Let us all just hope that the third part is not of the same "quality".

Songs worthy of recognition: Endure And Survive, Escape Velocity, Dawn of The Dead Son

Rating: 6/10 Bloods

www.blazebayley.net/
twitter.com/realblazebayley

More reviews of Blaze Bayley
Infinite Entanglement

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Persefone - Aathma (2017)

It is always fun to hear bands from some of the most random places of the Earth, places that you would think does not have any real metal bands at all. Persefone is from Andorra, a small European country that is about the same size as the Californian city of San Jose, squeezed in between France and Spain. It is not the ideal place for a band to emerge from, but some how, Persefone has not only established themselves as a band, but also as a tour de force that is taking the progressive melodic death metal to new heights.

"Aathma" is not too unlike its predecessor "Spiritual Migration", expressing the same feelings and themes, but the sound here still feels entirely new and refreshing, like they added some Cynic element to their already broad repertoire (probably because Paul Masvidal of Cynic guests on two songs, but it is showing in other songs too). It is an uplifting atmosphere that still has a lot of darkness and despair to it, like some energetic soundtrack to the apocalypse. These guys knows how to twist and turn their skills into captivating and emotional melodies, and still making them sound good.

I find "Aathma" not to be as catchy as the band's last album, and that it takes a lot more time to fully appreciate it, but the more you listen to "Aathma", the more everything fits into place, one piece at the time. This album is a complete creation that weaves its way through your ear drums with precise movements, taking no side step along the way. Every member helps making every song consistent, making it really hard to pin point a weakness anywhere. The symbiosis of Miguel Espinosa's clean and Marc Martins Pia's harsh vocals are spot on, the duo guitars by Carlos Lozano Quintanilla and Filipe Baldaia creates great stories, and Sergi Verdeguer's drum work are simply exquisite. Every part of the band performs with finesse, taking their time to make sure that everything comes out as they should.

What I like most about this band is that they have the awareness of knowing when to go heavy or when to go softer, creating a solid mix that makes Yin and Yang look uneven. It is a thin line to walk on, but Persefone does so with ease, blending the two different sides seamlessly into an album that is consistency materialized, where every song just builds the tension towards the four parted title track that takes it all to its edge. This 20 minute ending epic is an impressive piece of musicality that pushes the band to its limits, expressing all of their emotions into a bombastic finale that is the sure highlight of the album.

The consistency though is sort of a double edged sword though, because while I love the album as a whole piece, it is really hard to remember it all without mixing up some of the songs and parts with each other, making it immensely dense, more so than it really needs to be. The only really memorable parts of the album are the title track and the two songs in which Paul Masvidal appears on (especially the fantastic "Living Waves"), the rest is simply a part of one big entity. At the other hand though, this makes me wanna go back to the album more, to search for the magic again and experiencing it over and over again, which is a very satisfying feeling, even if the album clocks in at just over an hour.

I think that is the ultimate reason to why "Aathma" is such an fantastic album, its life span is seemingly endless, you could potentially listen to this album a hundred times without getting tired of it. And while it is far from a perfect record, it is still a clear evidence that Persefone is a force to be reckoned with in the future. So take your time, sit back, and just let the album run about five times or more, then it will reveal more and more of its blissful soul, like a blooming flower in the opening days of spring.

Songs worthy of recognition: Aathma (part I-IV), Living Waves, Stillness Is Timeless

Rating: 8,5/10 Prison Skins

www.persefone.com/
twitter.com/persefoneband

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Trollfest - Helluva (2017)

In the metal universe, there are weird bands, there are crazy bands, there are insane bands, and then there is Trollfest, a Norwegian folk metal band that are completely out of their fucking minds. With a solid mix of strange folk melodies that takes you straight to the troll infested forest of Norway and a lot of saxophone (yes, saxophone!), this band is truly something unique, something that no one can recreate. I mean, just look at the cover, and you will immediately understand what kind of wacky creatures we are dealing with here (THE SPELUNKING SISTERS HAVE FREAKING EIGHT NIPPLES?!... or maybe warts).

My first encounter with these woodland beings was in 2012 when they released "Brumblebassen", and quality wise they have always held the banner fairly high, making them enjoyable even if only a couple of songs were truly excellent. Not surprisingly, the same can be said about "Helluva", the band's seventh offering. It is really enjoyable, because the wacky nature of the band is just so infectious, forcing a Joker like grin to your face.

The album opens up with just an intro. No seriously, the intro is actually called "This Is Just The Intro", but it is more than just a simple intro. Sure, it is just an short instrumental, but it has zany melodies that gets you pumped up for what is coming. Then the band takes you straight through its insane world with "Professor Otto", a speedy track that is Trollfest to the very core, with its crazy folk melodies and incomprehensible vocals. Sure, Trollmannen may not be a new Ronnie James Dio, but he fits perfectly in with the madness around him.

There are several small details in this album that is genuinely charming, making "Helluva" really good. The speed and the catchy rhythms are a main reason to why this band is so enjoyable, which is highly noticeable in songs like "Spelunking Sisters" and "La Grande finale", while "Gigantic Cave" stands out as one of few songs with some clean vocals, giving a more catchy chorus that will make you sing along to the line "Some creepy looking guy, some creepy looking species". Then we have "Steel Sarah", which starts with some techno-ish video game music, but then bursts out into one of few times where the heavy guitars are at the front of the cavalry, especially towards the second half of the song where the band almost goes industrial on our asses. It is a cool and almost epic song, a clear highlight of this album.

But then we have those really weird songs that are either hilarious, or just plain... wut? "Trollachen" is just three straight minutes of trolls laughing and, seemingly, getting drunk. Then we have "Hen of Hades", which is a song about a chicken... from hell. Let us also not forget "Reiten Mit Ein Fisch", which is German for "Ride with a fish" (I thought these guys were from Norway, god dammit), and at some parts it sounds like it was stolen from a level in "Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex". Finally, we have "Kabaret", and yes, it sounds like some cabaret from the 1930's, only with hairy, green, wart filled trolls. Jesus Christ, I am truly speechless here, this is just completely bonkers. If you want insanity, you have surely come to the right place

If nothing else, "Helluva" will be remembered as a really fun record that follows the same spirit that the rest of Trollfest's discography displays. It is an incredibly wacky record that is sure to turn your frown upside down in no time, and even if it does not add anything new to the band's repertoir, it is still good times when this is on. It might be a little too long though, so a couple of songs could have easily been removed, but still, this is a helluva fun adventure that Professor Otto and the Spelunking Sisters are treating us. Never stop festing, you god damn crazy trolls.

Songs worthy of recognition: Steel Sarah, Professor Otto, Gigantic Cave

Rating: 7,5/10 Kabarets

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