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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Reviews: Texas Hippie Coalition, Tarturis, Schysma

Texas Hippie Coalition: Ride On (Carved Records) [Review By Paul]

Ride On is the fourth release from Texas Hippie Coalition or THC. Unsurprisingly, the band originate from Denison, Texas. However, somewhat surprisingly, their sound is not just the sound of another Southern rock band but a myriad of different influences and styles.
Ride On is a solid release, featuring the powerful voice of “Big Dad Ritch”, who really dominates with the tracks. The album has a huge drum sound, very much in the Hell Yeah style of Vinnie Paul, although this sound is attributed to drummer Timmy Braun. The steady guitar work of Cord Pool combines with John Exall’s bass to provide a multitude of classic riffs. Monster In Me has elements of Down, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Mason whilst Rock Ain't Dead has all the hallmarks of Soil at their peak. However, there are many other influences which appear as the album progresses; Go Pro is almost a replica of Wanted Dead Or Alive by Bon Jovi with a much heavier edge, combined with the harder side of Molly Hatchet. Rubbins Racin has a splash of Shinedown, a dash of Godsmack and the drive of Down whilst the title track has one of the dirtiest Southern style riffs you’ll hear this year. This is decent, honest, American heavy metal delivered with quality and a vocal style from BDR which merges the grit of Anselmo with the balls of Ryan McCombs. Album closer I Am The End provides yet another reference point with some sludgy Alice in Chains guitar work and BDR’s finest vocals on the whole album. Decent stuff and well worth a listen. 7/10

Schysma: Idiosyncrasy (Revalve Records)

Blasting out of Italy comes Schysma who have arrived in my inbox with an album of 10 progressive metal tracks, with technical guitars, a heavy bottom end and rich tapestry of keys fleshing out the sound. The band are kind of an industrial/electronic prog metal band if you want to be picky as their classic metal instrumentation accompanied by some pulsing synths from Martina Bellini, much like darker Amaranthe or a more electronic Breed 77, the band fuse the two genres together well and their obvious talent shows through. The one point I would raise though are the vocals of Riccardo Minicucci who has a distinctive voice but many may find it not to their tastes, however a lot of this could be due to the less than great production. Personally I think his Paul Isola-like holler/rasp fits with the music the band behind him are producing and it shines on Heremetic which moves between the fast and slow dynamic brilliantly with some great drum work from  Luca Solina. The rest of the band are no slouches either mind Giorgio Di Paola works with Solina provide a locked in rhythm section on all the tracks but they are especially effective on the heavier tracks like Pendulum he also shines himself on the bass intro and led Supreme Solution. Guitarist Vladimiro Sala provides some superb guitar work with his Eastern guitars on Migdal, the bluesy rock vibe of Need A Chance and his searing virtuoso solos throughout but most especially Time Man which sounds like it could have come from an 80's speed metal album and works well as the storming album closer. With slightly better production values this album would have be able to show off the myriad of genres better. Still that aside the album is a progressive trip through multiple facets of metal music all brought together by some fantastic musicians, if you like your music unique but familiar and played with style then Idiosyncrasy will be for you. 7/10

Tarturis: Life Lessons That Only Death Can Teach (Self Released) [Review By Paul]

Kansas outfit Tarturis are a two person project who combine elements of progressive, symphonic, thrash and melodic metal with interesting yet slightly disappointing results. Delivered in advancing year segments, Life Lessons... is a concept album with a building story from birth to death, with whispered narrative providing a haunting atmosphere to many of the tracks. Steve Hall and Craig House contribute all parts of the album, with both delivering vocals, guitars, bass and drum programming. Starting with Year 0: Exchanging Flesh For Iron, Tarturis deliver a pretty devastating opener which sounds like a hybrid of Dream Theater and Wintersun, galloping fretwork slowed by more melodic keyboard parts. Year 5: Before Life Even Began is a much calmer track before some of the most out of tune singing I've head in a long time emerges in the middle. This is a lengthy track, clocking in at over ten minutes and I have to be honest, it gets a little lost. Year 13: Placebo Salvation begins with a keyboard and drum build up over the Lord’s Prayer before driving headlong into symphonic thrash once more. The brakes are then briefly applied before all hell breaks loose with a charging onslaught, ferocious drum sounds combining with slicing guitar work and layered keyboards and much more aggressive vocals more at home to Testament than some of the other bands referred to here. Another ten minute plus song follows; Year 17: Fall Of The Iron Kingdom, which has some deliciously delicate acoustic guitar work before a more traditional metal ballad type sound leads into more progressive, symphonic style music with string elements all making an appearance. Year 22: Her continues the sedate pace with acoustic build up and atmospheric vocals reminiscent of Katatonia and Pain of Salvation amongst others. However, it is really pedestrian and to be honest just a little too far on the left of depressive melancholy for me, especially with the vocals struggling to stay in tone at places. Year 24: The Atlas Punishment opens at a blistering pace, blast beats combining with some heavy thrashing guitars but by this stage I've lost a little too much interest. So what is the problem? I think it is the fact that this album is really disjointed and difficult to follow. Sure, the musicianship is pretty good, and these guys can clearly play but the way the moods change mid-track too often, combining far too many elements of too many genres is just a little too overwhelming.  In fact, the length of the album also contributes to the loss of interest, a mighty 75 minutes in total, and by the end, it’s just a little staid and boring. 5/10

A View From The Back Of The Room: Triaxis (Review By Paul)

Triaxis: Fuel, Cardiff

The crew of the good ship Musipedia Of Metal gathered for our annual winter gathering in the Rummer Tavern with the absolute bonus of having the opportunity to take in local favourites Triaxis a mere stone’s throw away at Fuel for our final gig of a quite stupendous year of live music. Having supped a couple of scoops of the Rummer’s quite excellent selection of real ales, we left it right until the last minute before heading across the city and straight to the front of the cramped venue, leaving a few members of the party to continue the merriment.

 A quick greeting with Krissie and the band and then it was time to party. Triaxis is a band that just improves with every show. Kicking off with the storming Sand And Silver, the band left the blocks with startling speed and didn't let up for the entire hour. Our last viewing was a mere seven weeks ago in The Exchange in Bristol but as headliners the band really stepped up a gear. Giles’ consistently excellent drumming propels the band forward, and his relationship with the brilliant Becky on bass continues to provide the band with a powerful rhythm section on which to build the dual guitar attack of CJ and Glyn. Krissie's voice is always stunning live, and despite the usual Fuel “sound”, her quality cut through crisply to once again demonstrate why we rate her as one of the top vocalists in metal today. Triaxis delivered a pacey set with a mix of tracks from their two albums along with three new tracks, all of which sounded very promising and will appear on the new album (which has pleasingly reached its Pledge target but there are still some goodies to be had so if you haven’t pledged yet, get on it).

Throughout the set Glyn's soloing was fantastic, ably supported by the sterling rhythm work of CJ. Becky’s talent is obvious as she wields her Rickenbacker around the stage with ease and with each viewing you appreciate how well she has made the transition to the Triaxis ranks. As well as the stunning vocals, Krissie has a warm and affable stage persona; no diva here ladies and gents oh no. Closing with Lies and then Black Trinity, all around the room the reasonably sized crowd were smiling and the faces of the band suggested that they too had enjoyed their return home.  A final cover of Hallowed Be Thy Name brought the musical part of our evening to a close and the curtain down another year of hard gigging. I can’t think of a more fitting band to end the year with. Triaxis: check them out! You won’t be disappointed! Roll on 2015 and our next encounter with one of the UK’s most promising bands. We love ‘em. 9/10

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Reviews: Saracen, Panzer, Red Zone Rider

Saracen: Redemption (Escape)

The name Saracen may conjure up some good memories for older readers, Saracen were and still are a melodic/progressive rock band that came to fruition in the 1981 with muscular symphonic rock etched in the NWOBHM vein but with more melody and drama than many of the meat-and-two-veg bands that came out of that scene. Saracen is driven by Rob Bendelow's dexterous guitars, Richard Lowe's powerful keys and Steve Bettney's strong vocal, they released their first album to critical acclaim but as happens so often with these things the band split reforming in 2003 and since then they have released a comeback album and two concept albums, one Vox In Excelso being continually on my player. Their last album Marilyn in my opinion was a misstep (a bit too soft) but when Bendelow was challenged to write a 'classic' Saracen album he set about writing the tellingly titled Redemption. Has he achieved the old school sound of Saracen perfectly, as the one two punch of rock rifffests Rocamadour and Reacher finish you are immediately taken back to the bands early 80's hayday with some great rock riffs from Bendelow and Simon Roberts interweaving with huge slabs of keyboard from Paul Bradder providing the symphonic edge. Then comes the huge ballad Give Me A Sign before Purple-esque Geraldine (replete with big organs fit for Jon Lord). Steve Bettney's voice is still awesome, he has great power and range meaning he can mold his voice to fit any style. Swords Of Damascus is Iron Maiden meets Jeff Wayne where as Roads To Yesterday is once again in Coverdale realms with Bettney crooning before unleashing his scream in latter parts. In a tribute to their glory days, they have two re-recorded tracks from their debut album Heroes, Saints & Fools the epic and glorious Crusader which starts with searing guitar solo and continues in the same hands up high, shout it out loud manner, second in the rerecording is the rocking Ready To Fly which is a great ender for the album after the pop-rock of Let Me See Your Hands. With a pacier rock tracks interspersed between more progressive songs like the Floydian Catch The Wave, the poppy AOR of More Than Missing You,  the symphonic epics of the title track and previously mentioned Crusader. Saracen have been quietly releasing classy, rock records for years now and with Redemption they have successfully merged their past and present on a record expertly produced by Tommy Hansen (producer of choice for power/traditional metal). If you like your rock'/metal with a real old school vibe brought bang up to date Redemption is the album for you! 9/10     

Panzer: Send Them All To Hell (Nuclear Blast)

Panzer (or The German Panzer) play heavy metal machine music, don't worry though folks a Lou Reed collaboration is nowhere to be seen. No Panzer as you may have guessed from the name, are Germanic metal through and through, pitching themselves as a German Motorhead this three piece is two thirds Accept and one third Destruction; the artillery shell drumming comes from Accept's sticks-man Stefan Schwarzmann, the guitars are from the laser guided, razor sharp guitars of Herman Frank and the bombardment of bass is from Destruction's Schmier who also lends his abrasive vocals the recordings adding real menace to the delivery of these fast paced, Teutonic metal tracks. The assault and battery starts on the rampaging Death Knell which has the hard metallic delivery of German metal but also harks to Lemmy and co. The album rarely lets up in pace and blurs the line between old school metal and thrash playing to all three men's strengths. As you can appreciate their aren't any ballads on this record, most of the songs are about war, politics and death and Panzer do all these topics justice, albeit with no innovation at all, although none was expected with the trio involved. This is straight up, go for the jugular heavy metal and with Temple Of Doom, Freakshow and the thrashtastic Mr Nobrain.  It goes without saying that the musicianship is flawless and any band that writes a song called Hail And Kill without any fear of DiMaio reprisals has to have some massive balls, something that this album has in spades. It's not all killer though Panzer is a rubbish song and a few others are clearly filler but for the most part this is fist in the air shout along heavy metal German style!! 7/10

Red Zone Rider: S/T (Magna Carta)

Ohh its like the 70's all over again just when you thought it was safe to put away those Purple, Zep and Free records along comes UFO's Vinnie Moore with a new band steeped in the funky, hip shaking rock these bands were known for. Now recently this kind of music was mainly the soul trade of Messrs Coverdale and Hughes but Vinne Moore has created a little trio built around his explosive guitar prowess, Scott Coogan's (Lita Ford, Ace Frehley) tub thumping and Kelly Keeling's (Baton Rouge, MSG, TSO) powerful (fretless) bass thud, humming organs and blues rasp, which is very much like Mr Hughes' and works in conjunction with Coogan's more melodic vocals to create an expansive vocal delivery. So another power trio peddling the music of yore, but they do it very well from the Purple-like By The Rainbow's End (which is a tribute to both Blackmore's bands knowing or otherwise), through the smooth organ drenched House Of Light, the blues balladry of Cloud Of Dreams which would have Mr Coverdale weeping into his silk sleeves, the booty shaking rock Save It which sounds like a Grand Funk Railroad cut Hit The Road has the spirit of Hendrix coursing through it's stop start guitar riff and There's A Knowing echoes the great Gary Moore in his old Parisian Days. All of the tracks on this album reek of the Golden era of rock music when the bands rocked hard with bluesy soulful vocals, a funky thunderous rhythm section, huge helpings of organ to flesh everything out and guitar solos galore from Moore who's guitar pyrotechnics light up every song. The three men on this record are all excellent musicians and their craft has been honed over hundreds of tours with numerous artists meaning that the songs on this record all feel, professional, authentic and most importantly they rock like hell making for a fun rock record that the oldies (physically or mentally) among you will lap up with gusto. 8/10

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Review: Avenger, Astralion, Exlibris

Avenger: The Slaughter Never Stops (Rocksector)

With Hell, Satan and Angel Witch leading the way, the fashion for NWOBHM bands reforming in the present day seems to be very 'on trend' at the moment, the next in line are Avenger who gave up the ghost in 1985 after two albums before reuniting in 2005. As is the case with most NWOBHM bands their history is shambolic at best losing their first singer Brian Ross to fellow Geordie's Satan (where he remains to this day) Avenger promptly recruited Satan's singer Ian Swift to replace Ross. Like Ross, Swift is still firmly in place at front of the band his sonorous voice fitting the music excellently on Race Against Time, Fields Of The Burnt and he screams for his life on Into The Nexus. Founder member Gary Young still blitzkriegs the drums and as with most NWOBHM bands the guitars duel and the bass rumbles like cannon fire. Avenger sound like a band revitalised and they much like their revitalised peers they are unafraid to expand their sound incorporating other genres and more modern sounds Decimated is old school thrash with a Maiden-like finale something which continues on their cover of Maiden's own Killers. As good as the NWOBHM was for British metal for every Maiden, Priest and even Def Leppard there was a Hell, Raven, Satan and Avenger; bands that were followed with a passion at the time but were over shadowed and eventually forgotten, however in the intervening years these bands have become revitalised and have blasted back into the public conciousness. The Slaughter Never Stops is a testament to bands that never give up, yes they may drop out of sight for a while but musicians (especially those in the NWOBHM) never really give up so long as the music burns within them. Some may think that the music industry is dying but I think it's just pushing bands more underground meaning that older bands like Avenger are on more of an even playing field now. Grab your leather pants, hi-tops and some beers and get ready for a damn good thrashing. 8/10          

Astralion: Astralion (Limb Music)

As is the norm with bands on the Limb Music roster, Astralion play rampaging power metal with a huge amount of virtuoso guitar playing thrown in echoing Stratovarius and even Mr Malmsteen with the neo-classical over tones seen from opening salvo of Mysterious & Victorious. The Finnish band have risen out of the ashes of Olympos Mons with singer Ian E. Highill and Bassist/Vocalist Dr K. Lundell recruiting a new ivory tickler, tub thumper and axe wielder to the fold to unleash some strong power metal with lots of classical influences. The keys sparkle on At the Edge Of The World which is prime Helloween in it's composition and this style continues on When Death Comes Knocking all of which have that Germanic heavy metal feel, they even dip into Dream Evil territory with We All Made Metal which is a thunderous mid rocker about how we indeed all make metal, Black Sails moves into Rockin' Rolf territory with a Pirate shanty made with added embellishments that merge it with Alestorm albeit with less silliness. Highhill's vocals are great especially on the soaring ballad To Isolde. The album moves between rampaging metal tracks like Mary (Bloody) and Five Fallen Angels and slower classically influenced piano-led ballads like Last Man On Deck. A great little album from these Finns steeped in the elements that make power metal exciting, one for fans of keyboard and guitar driven neo-classical metal that is technically precise but with a reliance on songs rather than showing off. 8/10

Exlibris: Aftereal (Metal Mind)

More power/heavy metal now, this time from Poland, unlike Astralion though Exlibris come from the heavy end of the spectrum with nods to Beyond Fear and Primal Fear this is because of Krzysztof Sokołowski's glass shattering vocals, people may recognise him as the singer for Night Mistress (reviewed earlier this year), his vocals are very similar to those of Tim 'Ripper' Owens with the crooning baritone and the screeching highs. The musicianship behind it too is heavyweight with big guitar riffs from band leader and guitarist Daniel "Dani" Lechmański, who spars with keyboardist Piotr "Voltan" Sikora throughout and they even duel with renowned Polish violinist Zbigniew Wodecki on The Day Of Burning. Like I've said this is an album that harks to the gruffer, some would say more Germnaic style of power metal with tracks like In The Darkest Hour echoing Primal Fear, Omega Point having the Teutonic rush of Accept. However the band also encompass more progressive tendencies on the piano led interlude Before The Storm which features some great female vocals before King Of The Pit slithers with some fist pumping metallic stomping before it concludes with some orchestral backed Maiden-like galloping. Closer has the epic heaviness of Evergrey and actually features the pipes of Mr Englund himself who croons majestically his voice blending well with Sokołowski's harsher tones. Exlibris have displayed real panache and flair on this album so if you like technical, intelligent power metal then Aftereal will really float your boat. 8/10  

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The View From Another Country: Crippled Black Phoenix

Crippled Black Phoenix - Gagarin 205, Athens, Greece

Travelling to Greece for gig may seem a bit extreme but let me put it into context. As Paul was knee deep in brutality, I was in Greece visiting my other half for a short holiday and the British post rockers happened to be playing the final show of their tour in the city on the second night I was there. Having never been to a gig in Greece I didn't know what to expect but as myself and my gorgeous companion entered the venue we were hit by the fug of tobacco smoke in the room, this harks back to when I first started gigging and you could still smoke indoors, no there is no smoking ban in Greece folks (the government tried but the Greeks hilariously ignored it blatantly) so the dry ice the blew just as the band came on stage made surrounded the stage haze.

As founder Justin Greaves and frontman Daniel Änghede ploughed straight into stomping clarion call riff of Rise Up And Fight the excitement piqued as CBF are a band I've always wanted to see but one who tour the UK rarely. Their brand of heavy, modern, Pink Floyd-like metallic rock with lots of electronics is a very unique prospect and as the first song developed, the synths of Mark Furnevall and piano of Daisy Chapman both add atmosphere add melody to the tracks as Ben Wilsker added the percussive thump from behind the kit. Staying in heavy territory we were whisked away next on the White Light Generator which was driven by Wilsker's drums and some gut rumbling guitars from the two rhythm guitarists with a third who's name escapes me adding some Frippesque elements over the sledgehammer battering. There is a reason why I can't remember the new guitarist and indeed the bassist's name, as both were recent additions to the band, their actual bassist recently had child so a friend of their's stepped in with limited practice time, still he managed brilliantly but it meant that throughout Änghede took over the bass duties for a few of the songs, the third guitarist was picked up in Sofia, Bulgaria and had no practice time for these gig, he was stunning adding a lot of Gilmour like guitar trickery to fill out the songs.

All the band pulled together to play the heavy, stirring music for a crowd that started out as quiet, but more on that later, Greaves did most of the talking during the gaps, introducing the band members and goaded the audience to make more noise. The doom of Jonestown Martin creeped in giving Daisy Chapman the first chance to shine with her haunting vocals on the disturbing song, No! is a ringing propulsive track from their last album which moves between light an shade. Änghede's voice is good being both emotive and fractious adding a real human element to the music especially on Song For The Loved and the romantic sounding Fantastic Justice which is built on Chapman's piano riff. Because of the problems we were promised a longer show in future and then the challenge was set down, the band incite a sing along to Burnt Reynolds, a tradition that started in Athens, the song is an atmospheric track that builds to its shout along section, it was the first song to really incite the crowd, the Athenians roared at the top of their lungs for the entirety of the song and for around five minutes after the song ended which prompted the encore to start with a reprise of the track inciting yet another sing along with the crowd giving their all, the band were visibly over awed with the response claiming it to be the best on the tour, it was hard to argue, as the crowd continued after the song had finished, the smoke filled room exploded into rapturous applause once again. It was time for the finale and the last song was a short, sharp, shock in contrast to the progressive, sprawling epics that had proceeded it and with the final chord of Samhain's Let The Day Begin it was all over for another tour cycle the band were elated and relived at the smiling faces in the audience. I myself was in awe of the band who seemed to give every ounce of energy to the set. Where CBP go and what they do after this is anyone's guess but hopefully it will be more UK dates nearer me after the next album. If not I know there is always Athens! A great gig in fantastic company! 9/10 

Another Point Of View: Behemoth (Review By Paul)

Behemoth: O2 Academy, Birmingham

Potentially one of the most explosive and exciting packages to hit these shores for many years, the four band line up of Winterfyllth, Grand Magus, Decapitated and Behemoth captured the imagination several months ago and tickets were duly snapped up. The anticipation had been heightened as all bands on the bill have released possibly their best works this year. It was therefore incredibly disappointing to discover a few days before that the curfew at the venue was 10 pm due to the 02's weekly Propaganda club night. This is clearly a nationwide policy as members of MoM have experienced the same problems at Bristol and Islington venues in the past few months. The challenge of getting to Birmingham from Cardiff for 6pm doors was incredible, and although I was lucky enough to take a half day to ensure early arrival, poor Ant and Elle didn't actually make it to the venue until the end of the Decapitated set, at a ridiculously early 8:10pm. Clearly something that we have to take into account for next year’s gigs, especially when the majority of our events take place away from our home soil. Food for thought. So, what about the actual music?

Manchester’s Winterfylleth (8) were afforded a mere four songs in a 25 minute set. Hitting the stage bang on 6:15pm, the black metal titans wasted no time in ensuring that all of those lucky enough to get into the venue early were fully rewarded. Building on their storming sets at BOA and Damnation (which I sadly missed) Chris Naughton and Mark Wood’s excellent guitar work combined with the powerhouse rhythm section of drummer Simon Lucas and bassist Nick Wallwork to create a wall of death metal laced with delicate and technical elements which sets the band apart from many others in this genre. A double serving from their recent superb release The Divination Of Antiquity, the title track and the quite breath taking Whisper Of The Elements demonstrated why this band are much loved in the underground metal scene. Sheer endeavour, hard graft and excellent technical skills: hopefully their star is in the ascendency.

Swedish power trio Grand Magus (9) are no strangers to the MoM crew, although for Alex and Chris this was their first time and the very reason for their attendance; they captured pride of place on the centre of the barrier for the mighty Swedes (and indeed for the entire evening – much to the admiration of the rest of the crew).  JB and the band were also afforded limited stage time and they got straight to it, blasting off with I, The Jury, a svelt and shorn JB peeling off riffs ably support by bassist Fox and drummer Ludde. Grand Magus have an old school heavy metal sound, but there is also something refreshingly new about them. Inciting much fist pumping and head banging, Like The Oars Strike The Water was quickly followed by the title track of this year’s brilliant Triumph And Power before JB encouraged the ever increasing numbers in the crowd to sing along to Steel Versus Steel, which to be fair they did. Set closer Hammer Of The North proved that the audience were now totally engaged with the Swedes and a huge ovation indicated that they are well loved on UK shores.
As the strains of War Pigs kicked in over the PA, the lights dropped to announce the entry of Polish technical Death Metal outfit Decapitated (8) Another extremely short set saw Vogg and his band demonstrate that sometimes quality over quantity does work. A mere five tracks allowed, with the engaging and intimidating front man "Rasta" Piotrowski dominating the front of the stage, dreads flowing freely and guttural death vocals repeatedly delivering tough jabs to the ribs. Blistering drumming and fast moving songs helped ensure that the crowd were still engaged. A couple of tracks from the excellent Blood Mantra combined with some old school stuff such including Spheres Of Madness allowed the band to deliver nothing more than a taster of their music. This band are brutal live and it was a shame the serving was so limited.

A 30 minute change over saw the O2 change in atmosphere as the impressive stage set for Nergal and his cohort was constructed. A huge backdrop, the traditional star of chaos microphone stands and platforms for the band to stand on. Combined with an impressive light display that adapted to each song throughout the set, Behemoth (9) always put on an impressive visual show. As the house lights dimmed, orchestral music heralded the entrance of the band, complete with capes and hoods. Opening with Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel, the next 90 minutes mesmerised, enchanted and captivated the crowd. The fury and sheer assault of the Black Death metal which has become so recognisable incited some very aggressive pits at the front of the stage and some impressive head banging in the rest of the venue. The set comprised a fair slab from the quite mind-blowing The Satanist, including the title track which was quite stunning. The drumming of Inferno throughout was absolutely destructive, powerful double bass pedals combining with rapid fire snare and symbol action. The band powered through tracks from Demigod (Conquer All And Slaves Shall Serve), Evangilon (Alas, Lord Is Upon Me) and the brutal Ov Fire And The Void along with cuts from Satanica And The Apostasy, Nergal and Seth laid down demonic riff after riff, moving around the stage with authority, and combined effortlessly with the imposing Orion on bass who stalked the stage with a demonic grin, like a serial killer hunting his next victim.

Each track was accompanied by different intros and the band slowly shed some of the stage outfits they had started with. Of course, Behemoth wear the corpse paint and this remains an intimidating element of their stage presence, adding a sinister edge to the already deathly satanic edge to their music. Closing with Chant For Eschaton 2000 the band took the obligatory photo in front of the crowd before departing.  As the encore commenced, spotlights picked out each member of the band, cloaked and complete with devil goat masks with huge horns. The lighting creating a black mass type atmosphere, adding the already dark imagery. Behemoth ripped through O Father, O Satan, O Son with the crowd going crazy. A huge crescendo brought the evening to an end bang on the 10:00pm mark. Behemoth are a force to be reckoned with live and a match for anyone. The joy of seeing a fully fit Nergal is simply magical. A set worth waiting for. Just a shame the other bands didn't have enough time to really get into their own sets.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Reviews: Primordial, Lonewolf, Temperance (Reviews By Stief)

Primordial: Where Greater Men Have Fallen (Metal Blade)

The first album from the band in 7 years, Primordial's Where Greater Men Have Fallen is a great return. Title track and album opener Where Greater Men... immediately grabs you and doesn't let go, with pounding drums and grinding guitars. Alan Averill or Nemtheanga's voice does take some getting used to if you haven't listened before, but generally, fits well with the distorted guitars and heavy bass that come with the territory of black/extreme metal. The album is relentless in its heaviness, Babel's Tower and Come The Flood are both slow and heavy before The Seed Of Tyrants rips you right back up again. There are some great riffs throughout and Primordial show their Irish roots in nearly every song, especially Born To Night, which includes a heavy, almost folk-like 4 minute intro before getting into the song. Album closer Wield Lightning To Split The Sun is just as heavy as the rest of the album, the chanting of the band reminiscent of later-era Rotting Christ. Founding members Ciáran MacUiliam and Pól MacAmhlaigh (on guitars and bass respectively) are supported by Simon Ó Laoghaire on drums and Micheál Ó Floinn on guitars. A brutal and heavy album throughout. 7/10

Lonewolf: Cult Of Steel (Massacre)

There's something about European power metal bands with wolf-based names that just seems to capture me. Lonewolf is no exception with Cult Of Steel, their follow up to last year's The Fourth And Final Horseman. Album opener Cult Of Steel builds up with an eastern-style sound, before breaking into fast paced guitars and heavy drums. Lonewolf pretty much keep the speed throughout the entire album with solos galore and the lyrics are basic power metal fare, promoting the religion of heavy metal and (as the name would imply) wolf-related subjects, Werewolf Rebellion and The Grey Wolves being prime examples. Both Funeral Pyre and Mysterium Fidei are highlights of the album, breaking away from the quicker pace of the rest of the album for a heavier, slightly slower sound. Lead singer Jens Börner's voice is a mix between Powerwolf's Attilla Dorn and a less gravelly Lemmy, which, when combined with the guitar of Alex Hilbert, the bass of Rikki Mannhard and Antoine Bussière's drums give a great sound. Overall a great album with some brilliant music 8/10

Temperance: Temperance (Scarlet)

The first full release from Italy's Temperance, their self titled album does not disappoint. The opening track Tell Me is an uplifting track with soaring vocals from lead singer Chiara and awesome riffs from Marco, who provides the backing vocals and growls, as well as some of the clean vocals on songs such as Breathe and Stronger. While it would be easy to compare Temperance with other female fronted symphonic bands, I don't think it would do them justice. The band seem to mix the clean vocals with growls perfectly, neither seeming too much at any given time. The solos are great too, not taking up too much of the song, but providing a great bridge between the verses. The album has something for pretty much everyone; from  in the form of Stronger, more dramatic songs like Lotus and The Fourth Season. A personal favourite is To Be With You which feels like a love song to the fans and how it feels how to be a fan of a band. The special edition has a surprising addition with a cover of Christina Perri's A Thousand Years, which seems to fit extremely well with the band's vocal style. With a new album out early next year, this is a band to look out for. 9/10