Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

VIDEO: Code Orange release video for Bleeding In The Blur from Foreve album

Code Orange have unveiled their official music video for “Bleeding In The Blur.” The video, was directed by Max Moore,

Watch the official video for “Bleeding In The Blur” below.

Recorded with producers Will Yip at Studio 4 and Kurt Ballou at GodCity Studios, their album 'Forever' débuted earlier this year staking its claim as one of 2017’s top releases.

The US press raved about it, with Rolling Stone selecting Code Orange as one of 10 New Artists You Need to Know: February 2017 exclaiming, 'Forever' captures some of the most punishing noise the band has recorded to date, featuring songs rife with sudden transitions to still-harsher textures.” 

The Fader featured Code Orange as one of their 13 Artists You Need To Know About In 2017, while Nerdist declared, “Code Orange is back and heavier than ever,” adding, “These kids were heavy before, but they just increased density by a hundred percent and then crushed all livings under their weight.”

Next month Code Orange kick-off a run of European dates which will see the Pittsburgh, PA band supporting System Of A Down on their headline tour and call into the UK's Download Festival, as well as a single show in Brighton.

ALBUM REVIEW: Thyrant mix it up on What We Left Behind

SOMETIMES something wonderful drops for review; a surprise, a delight that comes at you so far leftfield it bowls you over.

With nary a warning Thyrant landed for listening, and it has to be said that this début, 'What We Left Behind' from a Spanish five-piece that almost defies classification.

They take what they want from the past, throw it into a blender and come out with an album that is stunning.

Indie Recordings have scored a major victory nabbing this crowd, as they do what so few manage on the metal scene: they have merged so many styles in one eight-track release yet produced a coherent album.

On 'What We Left Behind' you will find thrash, death, classic metal and twin guitar attack á la UFO and Lizzy. All overlaid with Daniel Pérez's growling vocals.

By the second track 'Endless Hunt' you cannot help but be hooked. J Mérida and Miguel Navorro give a masterclass in adaptability throughout.

From Maiden to Obituary, Priest to Death it is clear Thyrant are well versed in their heritage, but they are not confined to repeating the past. Instead they put their own stamp.

'Hard Boiling' is an outstanding piece of music, opening with a blend of black and death, before a slowed down, almost doom section, a breakdown perfectly timed and two guitars welded together in the melody.

The bleak title track is a slowed down showcase of how to arrange a track, as is the telling closer 'E.O.S.' - those lead runs are so well measured,

The lyrical content on 'What We Left Behind' may be filled with despair and the doom of humanity but this album is a joyous celebration of metal.

Thyrant are the real deal.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

ALBUM REVIEW: Selene push on to the next level on The Ravages of Time

WHEN you hear the term 'symphonic metal' sometimes there is a tendency to go back to the progenitors of the genre and compare it with newer acts, which is both unfair and unjust.

The depth and the breadth of the genre belies the fact that with an ear there is more to be heard, but more than that it is a demanding type of metal to tackle.

With just a few years under their belt Selene have managed to make a name for themselves with their début release 'The Forgotten' and a couple of eps. Faced with the challenge of a second album the band have knuckled down and produced a solid set of 11-songs.

But 'The Ravages of Time' is not just a solid set of tracks. It is a powerful statement that Selene have cemented their reputation as a force to be reckoned with.

Within are the operatic -with a Celtic twist - heartfelt vocals of Shonagh Lyons, urging each emotion whether it be on the stomp of 'The Great Heart' and 'Ashes' or the plaintive 'This Life'.

The strength of the arrangements are evident throughout, with flourishes and riffs not crowding each other out. At no point does the listener ever feel overwhelmed as, despite some outstanding playing, there is sufficient separation to allow tracks to breathe.

John Connor's work on guitar is, as always stunning, with some of the sweep playing and runs eye-wateringly good. Allied to his keyboard work and Thomas Alford's bass work it is a potent combination.

What keeps it above many contenders is there is still enough 'metal' there for it not be lost amongst the sounds that could have become clichéd. No clichés are in evidence, just a band comfortable in their groove and willing to extend their reach.

Maverick's David Balfour joins Shonagh on 'Burning Bridges', which opens with a neck snapping intro and solo before settling into a rampant track that sees Balfour extend himself.

That's not to say there are not minor points where improvement could be made as on one or two tracks the drumming sounds a little metronomic against John and Thomas' rhythm work. Thankfully it is just an occasional dip, which is easily rectified live and on future releases.

The real statement on here is the closer 'The End of Time', with its atmospherics, a doff of the cap to others and stamping the Northern Ireland band's own mark firmly on it. Within its 10-minutes the sense of epic storytelling, married with moments of delicacy married with power at the right moments.

'Ravages of Time' is a release that will have many sitting up an noticing what Selene are, and more importantly where they are going.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Monday, May 22, 2017

NEWS: New shows announced for October - Inglorious and The Darkness

WHEN it comes to gigs this year is proving to be a bumper. With packed schedules throughout coming months two more shows have been added for the autumn.

Inglorious will be returning to Belfast on October 3rd on the back of their second album (review here).

The last time they were here it was in support of Dead Daisies, but now they are playing their own headlining show in LL2.

Also returning are The Darkness who will be playing Limelight1 on October 15th.

Tickets for Inglorious go on sale this Wednesday, with The Darkness show tickets going on sale two days later.

LIVE REVIEW: Zlatanera showcase new video in a stormy four band battering in Belfast

HAND sanitizer. Yes, hand sanitizer, what every self-respecting festival bound metaller needs to keep their paws clean after a visit to the stench filled toilets where even the demons from the ninth circle of hell hold their noses lest the waft knock them out.

On the other hand we have the Zlatanera's tune 'Idle Hand Satanizer'. What better piece of merch for the Belfast five-piece to have is their own little bottle of Idle Hand Satanizer to keep your paws nice and spruce.

It was an event to launch the Zlat boys new video 'Bad Case of the Devil' - a premier for the lucky present before it goes on to general release later on this week, and despite the many other gigs on Saturday (May 20th) there was a healthy crowd for this Distortion Project in Limelight2.

Also, before Satan entered the house there was the matter of his demonic undercard...all with their own reasons to celebrate.

Openers Erosion have recently released their début ep, a strong prog influenced outing with a nice edge (review to follow). The last outing in LL2 was not their highwater mark, but on Saturday this was a more assured performance. There was a meatiness that was dissipated on their previous outing.

Indeed, it was clear this was one of their best shows to date with Mark's voice coming through clear. The only thing to nitpick about is that with Mark behind the kit the three at the front need to be a little more mobile.

Blackened death metal crew Shrouded are on the crest of a wave after securing a slot at Bloodstock by winning the Northern Ireland Metal2TheMasses final. With that accolade and preparations underway to storm the New Blood stage they could have been forgiven if they'd eased back a little.

Not a bit, this was a confident, assured face melting performance. The onstage dynamics aurally and visually were stunning and their 30-minute slot seemed to fly by in seconds as they delivered heaviness and melody in equal parts.

Baleful Creed are about to unleash their latest album 'Seismic Shifter' on an unsuspecting world, a slab of groove and NOLA to move tectonic plates. They managed to translate the recorded heft to the Limelight stage with ease.

Their growth as an act over the past year is evident with every chord and every solo. An extra dab of stagecraft and they will be an even more potent force, but for now they shine like polished steel.

The premier of 'Bad Case of the Devil' brought laughs and 'spot the extras' games. For those not there you are in for a treat when it is released.

But Zlatanera were first and foremost a live act that has develop to cover all aspects of the business - recording, playing, merch all delivered with a glint in the eye.

At their core is a wall of honed music that could slice the horns off a goat. The poise on stage is no pose, but panache and power in equal measure.

Sure it would be easy to wax lyrical about the riffs, the powerful vocals, the impressive performance of relatively new drummer Aran, or Andy's voice, but this is a band were the sum of the parts comes together to massively exceed what could be expected.

We've all become familiar with the 'Uppa Satans' trio of tracks, but what Zlatanera have is a collection of metal that is a molten mass that insinuates itself into your ears, your black heart and your soul.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh


Monday, May 08, 2017

NEWS: Blind Guardian launch live package ahead of Bloodstock slot

BLIND GUARDIAN: the progressive power metal pioneers are proud to announce the release of a new 3-CD package/4-LP package entitled, ‘Live Beyond The Spheres’!
The release will include material recorded from various shows during their European tour in 2015 – it will contain old classics, new tracks as well as songs that are played very rarely live.
Vocalist Hansi Kürsch spoke about the difficulties in creating such an ambitious album: 
"In general I would say that we've had a really good run throughout this tour and that nearly every show was perfect. But at the end of the day, after every one of us had checked through every single song and concert of those 30 shows again and again, there was only something like two or three versions of each song that were suitable to be used for an album. We then had to decide between those final versions; which one the most impressive one was. This was a nearly endless task!"

But as we all know, BLIND GUARDIAN stands for perfectionism in every way.

"The final songs chosen contain such an energy, that tiny mistakes appeared to be completely unimportant. As soon as you listen to the songs, you will know what I mean, they feel completely alive".

But in the end, the effort was all worth it. Hansi sums up: 
"There is always something happening at each show, let's call it 'MAGIC', that gives us all a shiver up our spine. We are really satisfied when people sing with us, have a good time and go back home happy."

‘Live Beyond The Spheres’ is scheduled to be released on July 7th via Nuclear Blast as a 3-CD and 4-LP Box.

The CD tracklistings will read as follows:

01. The Ninth Wave
02. Banish From Sanctuary
03. Nightfall
04. Prophecies
05. Tanelorn
06. The Last Candle
07. And Then There Was Silence

01. The Lord Of The Rings
02. Fly
03. Bright Eyes
04. Lost In The Twilight Hall
05. Imaginations From The Other Side
06. Into The Storm
07. Twilight Of The Gods
08. A Past And Future Secret
09. And The Story Ends

01. Sacred Worlds
02. The Bard’s Song (In The Forest)
03. Valhalla
04. Wheel Of Time
05. Majesty
06. Mirror Mirror

Get BLIND GUARDIAN's current record ‘Beyond The Red Mirror’ HERE.

More on ‘Beyond The Red Mirror’:

BLIND GUARDIAN play Bloodstock on 11th August

Sunday, May 07, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Second Sem-Final of Metal2TheMasses amps the quality to 11

THE standard of the bands in both semi-finals were a tribute to the quality and diverse nature of Northern Ireland's metal acts, and Friday's (May 5th) second and last semi-final was no different in a (cue the cliché) hotly contested evening of top notch sounds.

Like the meme going round this was Revenge of the Fifth as Belfast's Voodoo reverberated with riffs.

As always the running order was drawn at random, leaving Oracle to open proceedings with a ferocious, aggressive groove metal attack. Jason manically moved around the stage when not clutching the mic as if his life depended on it.

The inter-play between the guitars was balanced, allowing sufficient breath for the rhythms to come to the fore. While they were good in the heats they elevated their performance to great in a set that showcased why many are excited ahead of their forthcoming début album.

Although shorn of their normal corpse paint there was no sense that Neamhni were going to lessen their performance levels. As soon as the intro tape ended they unleashed a mighty melodic blackened maelstrom of metal. At times the sound was a little patchy and muddy, but they soldiered on through.

And that sense of overcoming anything thrown at them was clear as Alessandro towered over and dominated the ranks of headbangers down the front. They are a band on the rise, without pretensions or poses - just laying down death for all in their path.

They may bill themselves as sludge/doom but that underestimates the dynamic of Elder Druid. They have the sensibility not to be monochromatic in the pace of their set, with fluidity not so much a functional thing but an essential part of what they do within songs and the arrangement of the tracks themselves.

As they reach out to shows outside Northern Ireland they are reaching a maturity in their music and stagecraft with some mighty playing.

Muscular music is what Beyond the Beneath do, so muscular that Badger broke the bass drum...it was a technical glitch that threw the band off their stride, and compared to their magnificent show in the heats they seemed a little off their pace.

However, what was clear is that Beyond the Beneath have heft and heaviness that is apparent through all of their songs. They tread the treacherous borderlands between heavy rock and metal with sure-footed ease, creating songs that will develop into full-flown erosion of the senses.

Bakken's thrash metal leanings are proudly displayed in all their recorded and live material, harkening back to the days when the 'Big Four' dominated the pages and airwaves. With Celtic twists to the sound they complete the mélange of their sounds with ease.

The new(ish) line-up gives the Voodoo some of the best tracks they have in their allotted 30 minutes, with a few dashes of power metal thrown in by Simon et al to complete an evening of metal excellence.

As the quantity of beer imbibed and anxious bands and fans awaiting the result Mr Loveday once again resorted to his trusted abacus and solar powered calculator.

Going through to the final on Friday May 12th are: Neamhni, Oracle and Elder Druid.

And it's at this point the local Judges hang-up their lawgivers as Chief Judge and dispenser of final justice Mr Simon Hall will adjudicate. Given he will be also running a raffle for a weekend camping at Bloodstock it's the perfect opportunity to go see top notch metal! The winner will be accorded the honour of playing the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock...

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

Thursday, May 04, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Not just for dirtbags, teenage or otherwise Wheatus shine live

On a sunny Belfast evening I had the opportunity to re-live my youth as Wheatus played the Limelight in Belfast.

Wheatus, a pop rock band most well known for their hit ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ entertained a packed out Limelight with a mix of new songs and old favourites. They hit the big time around the same time as Sum 41 and Weezer and follow a similar style.
The crowd were eager to see Wheatus but most were pleasantly surprised by the support act- Michael; an electronic and experimental music group. In fact they are quite the discovery and one to watch for the future. Composed of three members including Mathew Milligan (the guitarist from Wheatus) they perfectly showcased their talents, even while using an ipad as their mix table.
Wheatus took the stage to rapturous applause and didn’t disappoint the crowd. Entertaining and amusing, stage presence is not lacking with this group. They played a good variety of new and older songs but the solos by Brendan B Brown were a highlight.

They brought a relaxed atmosphere to the Limelight and didn’t appear to be playing to a set playlist. They encouraged the crowd to shout out their requests (of course Teenage Dirtbag was requested more than once!) but fans were eager to hear songs from all seven of their albums including Holiday, Sunshine and Lullaby.

It was obvious that a large percentage of the crowd came for one that song. The great thing about Wheatus is they didn’t shy away from playing their most famous song; they embraced it. The crowd finally got what they had been waiting for at the end of the set. They had the crowd jumping and singing along and I am sure I wasn’t the only one picturing the famous music video for the track! They even performed a remixed version during their encore before saying goodnight with a final solo from Brown.

If you haven't seen Wheatus live I would recommend it. I was pleasantly surprised by their depth and back catalogue- they are much more than Teenage Dirtbags!

Review by Ahmed Al Sarraf
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

NEWS: 99 days ‘til Bloodstock – more acts announced ahead of NI's M2TM 2nd semi

WITH less than 100 days to go, Bloodstock has announced Manchester bruisers Broken Teeth, as Sunday’s Ronnie James Dio main stage opener. And, don't forget Friday's NI Metal2TheMasses semi final in the Voodoo - come and have your say.

Broken Teeth igned to Nuclear Blast last year, the hardcore youngbloods are set to wake everyone up and pummel your hangover into submission!  Check out ‘Show No Mercy’ from their debut full-length ‘At Peace Amongst Chaos’ at https://youtu.be/Cppa15f4sFw.

Here is the rest if the statement from Bloodstock:

Four more talented bands are joining the Last.fm-sponsored Sophie Lancaster stage bill.  Maryland, USA rockers Lionize (www.facebook.com/LIONIZEMUSIC /) bring the groove & funk to the party, and have been hard at work on their next record for new label The End (out this Summer), so expect a few new tunes!
Are you familiar with Black Moth (www.facebook.com/themothpit/) yet?  If not, you soon will be!  Hailing from Leeds, Kerrang! describes them, “like Electric Wizard meets Band Of Skulls, in a dungeon.”
Finnish metal outfit Wolfheart (www.facebook.com/WolfheartRea lm/) swoop in to showcase their new album ‘Tyhjyys’, released in March via Spinefarm.

And if black metal blended with doom and punk catches your interest, don’t miss Nuclear Blast’s brutal German duo Mantar (www.facebook.com/MantarBand/) .

After last year’s huge success, the 100%CA strongmen competition returns to the arena even bigger and better, and 2017 adds the women getting involved too!  Friday sees the ladies battling it out for England’s Strongest Woman, boasting an impressive line up of 8 Arnold's and 5 World's competitors as well as Jenny Todd (the reigning middleweight Arnold's champion) and Donna Moore (the current open weight Arnold's champion and World's Strongest Woman)!
Sponsored by XPLOSIVEAPE, there’s a £1200 prize up for grabs, a first for the women's sport.  Saturday brings the return of Europe’s Strongest Man u90kg.  Will reigning champ Rob Ward keep his hands on the title or will Tom Hibbert, Calum Evans, or Davy Wallace knock him off his throne?  Sunday’s finale offers a tiered prize pot of £2500 for the top 5 in XPLOSIVEAPE’s Strongest Man.  See some of the UK’s best athletes, including Graham Hick (current British log press holder, World's Strongest Man competitor, and third at Britain's), fast-rising demon Mark Steele, and current England's Strongest Man, Paul Smith.  Come along, cheer, and snap a photo with the strongest men and women in the country!

If that leaves you in need of refreshment, head over to Kracker’s Freaky Tiki black spiced rum bar, where you can indulge in dastardly concoctions amongst black palm trees, tiki torches, and shrunken heads. Adorn yourself with a black lei and keep an eye out for the KRAKEN Hunters patrolling the arena. Look for the totem pole, you won’t be able to miss it.

BLOODSTOCK’s also pleased to announce the return of the very popular JAGERMEISTER Stage, showcasing some of the hottest up’n’comers in heavy music. Bands performing will be revealed in the coming weeks!
If bourbon revs your engine, you’ll be thrilled to hear that BULLEIT are cruising in with their classic Studebaker truck bar, offering their infamous frontier whiskey, along with a host of other BULLEIT goodies! They might have a hair-raisin’ surprise up their sleeve too…


BLOODSTOCK will take place at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 10th-13th August 2017.  Standard weekend camping tix are on sale at £139 (+ booking fee) and car parking tickets (at a cheaper price than ‘on the day’ purchase) from http://bloodstock.seetickets.c om.  Children’s weekend tickets are also available, priced £35 (+ booking fee) and under 4’s go free!  Can’t come for the whole weekend but can join in for a day?  Sign up at https://www.seetickets.com/reg ister/bloodstock for a heads up when day tickets go on sale so you don’t miss out! VIP is sold out.

ALBUM REVIEW: Inglorious avoid the dreaded second album with a stormer on II

INGLORIOUS were formed a mere three years ago, in 2014, when Nathan James having had a spell as singer for The Trans-Siberian orchestra and Uli Jon Roth decided to look for like minded musicians to play old school Hard Rock from the era of early Whitesnake, Deep Purple to name a couple and produce music that paid homage to that era.

This brought about the critically acclaimed debut album in 2016 and a little over a year later, after increased popularity and festival spots such as Ramblin’ Man Fair, they are about to release the follow up “Inglorious II” on May 12th, but has the dreaded second album syndrome effected them?

With the band recording in an old fashioned way of being in the same room together with as James puts it “with no click tracks, auto tune or overdubs” just feeding off each other and with the vibe created the answer is a resounding no.
In fact “II” if anything is more polished, better written and showing the confidence of a band happy in their own skins and what they are trying to do.
The subdued opening to first track ‘I Don’t Need Your Loving’ is a bit of a con for the listener as it explodes into a riff laden fast tempo rocker with strong vocals, bass and drums that features the first of many nice solos by Andreas Eriksson. The slow fade out to the song is just a tease into the unashamed, in your face ‘Taking The Blame’. Another fast paced song full of classic riffs, dynamic vocals, rhythm section with another great solo.
James’ love of all things Coverdale comes to the fore on ‘Tell me Why’. The influences, especially in the vocals, are evident but rather than be an imitation it’s more an acclamation to that era, bringing it back to life yet they manage to put their own stamp and sound on it.
‘Read All About It’ has a real groove to it with a big bass and drum sound from Parkinson and Beaver. It drips with energy and has that ‘live’ feel to it that the band wanted to create with a great overlaid lead and rhythm guitar section driving it on.
The slower paced, bluesy ‘Change is Coming’ eases the listener in before becoming a heavier sounding power ballad with simple but effective back up vocals. A nice alternating guitar line lifts it above your normal ballad.
‘Making Me Pay’ is another slower tempo song and again is reminiscent of the early Moody/Marsden era Whitesnake and could easily have been on any of their earlier albums. James also gives his vocal chords a bit of DC flexing near the end....good song.
In stark contrast ‘Hell or High Water’ has a darker start to it before James shows off his diversity with a dramatic vocal delivery. This is the heaviest track on the album that could fit in sound somewhere between Deep Purple and Iron Maiden in terms of the riffs and subtle tempo changes. It probably leans more towards Purple but there is definitely a bit of Maiden in there, especially in the bridge between the verses and chorus, at least to these old ears!
‘No Good For You’ starts with a staccato style riff and is another faced paced song but with an underlying melody throughout and more superb guitar runs.
Next up is ‘I Got a Feeling’ which is another bluesy track with a lot of groove and swagger to it with James’ soulful vocals and Eriksson’s solo being the highlights of the song.
‘Black Magic’ follows the same formula as before, slow intro combination of drum, bass, guitar and a bit of piano turns it into a song of varying change ups. It’s a real throw back to the 70’s style rock song, fade out included.
Penultimate song ‘Faraway’ slows things down: a ballad with a nice acoustic beginning and a lighter delivery from James to start which is full of emotion, before building into a full on electric old school classic rock song with the vocals becoming grittier and almost Dio-esque in nature.
The album finishes with ‘High Class Woman” and closes the album as it began with a rip snorter of a tune that focuses on the bands main selling points, James’ souring vocals, including a few Coverdale screams, and the riff attack of Eriksson with Wil Taylors rhythm guitar lending its weight to produce a song that will have you reaching for the replay button (or stylus if you’re on vinyl)
Overall this is an outstanding follow up album and shows that the acclaim the band receives is well deserved. While this release harkens back to the roots many of us enjoy it is still very much an album of 2017, and will stand the test of time. Let’s hope they continue to produce music of this quality in the studio and on stage for many years to come.
Review by Andy Gillen
The band –
Nathan James – vocals
Andreas Eriksson – lead guitars
Wil Taylor – guitars
Colin Parkinson – bass
Phil Beaver – drums.

The Kevin Shirley produced album will be released as a standard CD and also as a Deluxe CD/DVD edition. The DVD will feature a previously unavailable live performance from Download Festival 2016 plus extra bonus content, including videos for forthcoming singles “I Don’t Need Your Loving” and “Taking The Blame”. A vinyl release will also be made available through Frontiers Music Srl partners Soulfood.

Monday, May 01, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Grim visions from The Bleeding on superb release Rites of Absolution

IT'S fair to say that London "death thrashers" The Bleeding are not the most optimistic of chaps; at least that's the over-arching reaction when listening to their latest release 'Rites of Absolution'.

This is a full-on pessimistic vision of the human race and its multiple foibles, all laid against an unrelenting musical tapestry that nods to 'classic' thrash and death metal.

Therein could be a problem, treading over territory over-familiar to many. However, The Bleeding steer clear of any issue, by keeping true to that territory, yet managing to press their own stamp on it.

Take for example the insistent 'Crook and Flail' with its just beyond mid-tempo rhythm over-laid with drum fills, clever riffs and layered solos before upping the speed to hyper-drive. Done before? Yes. Done as well, not by many.

The album is not too wed upon trying to be one thing or another, Rather taking their own vision of music and their verdict on humanity; or lack thereof.

Title track 'Rites of Absolution' has an almost traditional thrash take, a bit like Kreator if they were on amphetamines, but retains structure, with no flailing about.

The clue to much of the album comes with the closer. They pay homage to the late Chuck Schindler with a cover of Death's 'Open Casket' reflecting the honesty of the original.

This song tips the hat to what The Bleeding have become since their début 'Death Eternal'. More poised, unafraid to wear their influences on their sleeves without becoming slaves to those influences.

Of course, like all bands they manage one tiny misstep. Do we need another instrumental opening to thrash albums?

That said it is the only flaw on this release. If you love your death metal it might be a bit too thrashy. If you love your thrash metal it may be too much death metal. But if you're that narrow-minded then you should listen to Ed Fucking Sheeran, because this is an album to revel in its musical vision, if not its miserable reflections on this fucked up species.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

ALBUM REVIEW: A sense of epic surrounding Baleful Creed's second full-length release Seismic Shifter

FROM the first time listening to Baleful Creed, live or recorded there is a clear sense that they know their roots. Steeped in Sabbath, the mists of NOLA rolling around their collective ankles and the understanding that hard rock and metal runs through their veins.

For this, their second full length release they face a challenge to live up to a growing reputation, and what is apparent from the first listen is that the Creed sound remains intact, but with a little smidgeon of maturity and a whole lot more adept song writing and arrangements.

True there are tracks here that are familiar from the live shows, such as 'Forgiven' and 'Memento Mori' but they are given more of a spit and polish on the album.

Since they last entered the Manor Park Studios under Neal Calderwood's production supervision Davy Greer (bass) and Dave Jeffers (drums) have been added to the front line of Fin and John leading the attack. With almost three years playing, rehearsing and recording makes the Baleful Creed sound all the more compelling this time around.

Take for example 'God's Fear' that has a stoner-style riff, but with the right amount of flourishes added to a melody line that snakes into the consciousness, insidiously and wonderfully.

It would have been easy to simply rely on what they have done before but there is a sonic dynamism throughout from Baleful Creed. The atmospheric opener 'Devil's Side' has the right mixture of aural challenge, and the closer 'The Wolf' is perhaps the most accomplished track the band has ever composed or performed.

There are songs here that take the Sabbath trope such as 'Grind', but it is not a slavish attempt to play on audience memories, but rather homage to the band's influences, adding enough local identity to make sure that it is a Baleful Creed song first and foremost.

Equally 'Walking Wounded' has its roots in the swamps of Louisiana, but its melancholic menace comes from the mists around the mean streets of Northern Ireland when the pace picks up.

One song worthy of note is 'Lose Religion' which sees Fin step back from the mic to let Davy take over singing duties (even sticks man Dave puts in a shift away from the  kit to put in a shift on harmonica).

Asides from the confidence to allow a different voice to front a song, this is a track that lyrically hits out at organised religion, and while it is probably one of the more straightforward set of words on the album it does show that Baleful Creed are taking the structure of the songs and the lyrics with more consideration.

What John, Fin, Dave and Davy have done on this release is solidify their sound, allow that sound more breath without compromising the depth, heft and weight  of the songs, lose some of the grunge elements and develop it into a proper stoner/metal sound.

It is as if they have taken a mighty slab of basalt, melded it with steel to produce the substantial musical weight of hard rock and heavy metal. A mass that is a true 'Seismic Shifter'

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Friday, April 28, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Saille produce muscular majesty on Gnosis

Black metal has certainly come a long way from its controversial, church burning genesis: once a genre to be either feared or derided (depending on your outlook) it has blossomed into a respected and vibrant part of the metal scene.

There are, of course, still bones of contention – who is/isn't black metal, do they have to sing about religion, what about Abbath, etc – but by and large, it has been welcomed into the metal fold with open arms (and often rabid enthusiasm from its biggest fans).

Belgian black metallers Saille entered the fray in 2009, starting off as a one man project by keyboardist Dries Gaerdelen but soon becoming a fully fledged band.

Their previous three releases (2011's Irreversible Decay; 2013's Ritu and 2015's Eldritch), all released on Italian label Code666, have all been concept albums, focusing on “the fearful, the uncanny and the weird”, and latest release Gnosis is no different, tackling the Promethuem ideal and its Luciferian counterpart, an idea inspired by the band's research into Russian composer Alexander Scriabin ('Prometheus: Poem of Fire').

This latest album also sees Saille become a five piece, as founding member Gaerdelen takes a back seat musically as he slips into a more managerial role within the band.

Gnosis was mixed and mastered at Hertz Studios by the Wieslawscy's, the brothers behind Behemoth's latest album, a connection that becomes immediately apparent upon listening to the album.

Having trimmed some of the more indulgent elements from their music (even their logo is now less curlicue'd and 'pretty'), a more muscular sound has emerged that is unmistakeably reminiscent of Behemoth, particularly their previous album The Satanist.

The difference is, Saille have added their own touches to create their own identity, on this album more than their three previous ones.

Take opening track 'Benei Ha Elohim': meaning 'Sons of God' in Hebrew, its choral intro fades to what could function exceedingly well as a blackened Nightmare on Elm St soundtrack. Turning on a dime between heavy chugs to a plinky, almost jaunty mandolin-style guitar and with a vocal style smack in the middle of black and death metal, it is a rather symphonic style of black metal, complete with chainsaw riffs and a galloping, headbang-y beat.

It's chillingly abrupt ending leads to track two, the fittingly titled 'Pandaemonium Gathers': all fierce, deliberate chug and scowling, ferocious vocals, it will set sweeping, black-haired heads banging deliriously.

So far, so black metal. Compare that to 'Blôt', with its rather beautiful intro and tentative female vocal...which is then smashed to pieces by front man Dennie Grondelaers screaming up an absolute storm, not to mention a rare guitar solo. It's a powerful number that showcases the band's diversity brilliantly.

Trying to choose a highlight proves a difficult task. Is the old/new school black metal combo of 'Blow Your Trumpets, O Gabriel'-esque 'Genesis11; 1 -9'?

The absolutely majestic, epic in every way 'Before the Crawling Chaos', complete with throat singing, elements of doom/death/power AND black metal, and a delicately lush strings-led finale? Or is it album closer '1904 Era Vulgaris', with its racing, pulsating beat that ebbs and flows like the blackest of tides, which slides breathlessly into an outro featuring, of all things, a rather dolorous sounding trombone? Decisions, decisions!

The truth is, Gnosis is an album packed with highlights. An altogether sturdier and sterner album that they've previously released, it still manages to pack a punch both audibly and emotionally. Classic black metal fans will love it for it's faithfulness to the black metal ethos, and new school fans will love it for the band's willingness to step outside of those often restrictive boundaries.

Any way you look at it, Saille have ticked all the black metal boxes here, and created an album that's exciting and - equally as important - interesting.

Review by Melanie Brehaut

NEWS: Muse announced for Vital with Biffy Clyro

ONE of the biggest stadium bands in Europe are making a return to Belfast to headline the Vital festival on August 23rd, with perennial visitors as special guests on Belfast's Boucher Road Playing Fields.

With an honourable alumni of the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Foo Fighters Muse promise to up the proverbial ante with their prog-rooted rock.

Matt Bellamy has Northern Irish based history, but he and Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard formed in what seems like ancient history to the many fans of the Teignmouth rockers back when they emerged in the 90s.

Since then the band have climbed the proverbial ladder, with tracks like Supermassive Black Hole and 'Knights of Cydonia (with its nod to his parental influences - his father played in The Tornadoes - with echoes of the 60s hit 'Telstar') and their 2015 album 'Drones' seeing them return to a more rock-based sound after the electronic era.

The band are currently working on a new album, with tracks from it no doubt to be aired.

Biffy Clyro have been regular visitors to the city, and although they have an alt edge there is still the rock sensibilities and prog edged to a lot of their tracks.

Support acts include Nothing But Thieves and Fangiclub. Tickets go on sale on Friday, May 5th.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

CIRITH UNGOL releases exclusive live version of 'King of the Dead'as Ultimate Edition with bonus tracks and bonus-DVD on CD and vinyl

IN conjunction with Cirith Ungol's first ever live show on European soil at Keep It True festival in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany, Metal Blade will release the Ultimate edition of UNGOL's 'King Of The Dead' album on the weekend of the fest on April, 28th!

You can now check out a live version of the title track at youtube.com/watch?v=Zbd8byqTZa4. This version has been recorded live during the band's comeback show at the Frost & Fire Fest last October in Ventura, CA!

Make also sure to click at metalblade.com/cirithungol where you can listen to the classic track 'Atom Smasher' and pre-order the album in several configurations. There's also an exclusive T-Shirt and a hooded zipper available!

The 'King Of The Dead - Ultimate Edition' Digibook-CD features a full remastering by Patrick W. Engel, five bonus tracks, expanded packaging and a bonus-DVD!

The 'King Of The Dead - Ultimate Edition' LP will be released as part of the MB Originals series and has been mastered and fully restored by Patrick W. Engel at Temple Of Disharmony in January 2017.

This version reflects the original sound of the 1st vinyl pressing, released on Enigma in 1984! The vinyls feature 400 g spine sleeves, a 12-page booklet and an A1 sized poster.
'King Of The Dead - Ultimate Edition' configurations:
--CD/DVD Digipak
--180g black vinyl
--clear ice blue vinyl (limited to 300 copies - EU exclusive)
--turquois green/black-marbled vinyl (limited to 200 copies - EU exclusive)
--blood-red vinyl (limited to 200 copies - USA exclusive)

'King Of The Dead - Ultimate Edition' track listing:
1. Atom Smasher
2. Black Machine
3. Master of the Pit
4. King of the Dead
5. Death of the Sun
6. Finger of Scorn
7. Toccata in D minor
8. Cirith Ungol
9. Last Laugh (Live)*
10. Death of the Sun (alt mix)**
11. Master of the Pit (Live)***
12. King of the Dead (Live)***
13. Cirith Ungol (Live)***
* Live 1984 (bonus Track on original CD)
** alternative version (taken from Metal Massacre I)
*** Live at Frost & Fire Fest II at the Majestic Ventura Theater in Ventura on October 8th, 2016

Bonus-DVD tracklist:
1. Atom Smasher
2. I'm Alive
3. Black Machine
4. Master of the Pit
5. King of the Dead
6. Death of the Sun
7. Finger of Scorn
8. Cirith Ungol
Live at The Roxy, West Hollywood, CA on January 19th, 1983

CIRITH UNGOL line-up on 'King Of The Dead':
Tim Baker - vocals
Jerry Fogle - guitars
Michael 'Flint' Vujejia - bass
Robert Garven - drums

CIRITH UNGOL will perform live in Europe for the first time ever at the Keep It True festival in Lauda-Königshofen on April, 28/29. Further European live shows have been announced.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NEWS: Hammerfest X line-up announes Sepultura, Hell Yeah and Gloryhammer, Raging Speedhorn and many more

TAKE heed Metal Maniacs for the Tenth Anniversary of Hammerfest doth approach apace.

And like the forge gods, we’re crafting something loud, special and VERY Metal for this momentous, decade-celebrating event, to be held between 15th - 18th March, 2018.

Standing at Camp HRH, Pwllheli, North Wales, amidst the Snowden landscape, we Hammerfest housecarls summon once more the great and ancient tribes of Metal from far and wide! Come, brave hearts: set sail or march once more to Camp HRH, for adventure, music loud enough to wake the giants of Jotunheim, action, energy, and shenanigans - HF style!

HF’s heralds are also proud to announce many a great act joining the HF X ranks, from around the world, making HF X a truly international celebration:

HF headliners are Brazilian heavy metal icons Sepultura. Metalsucks.net voted Sepultura  #13 in their 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time poll (i.e. EVER!).

Hellyeah are an American supergroup with a distinctive blend of groove, alternative and nu-metal, who've charted in the Billboard Top 10, attracted a dedicated following, and earned their standing as a serious supergroup.

Aptly-named for Hammerfest,  Gloryhammer are a Scots-Swiss high fantasy power metal power band  founded by keyboard player Christopher Bowes (vocalist of pirate metal band Alestorm). Each band member represents a character in the story concept and appears on-stage in epic armour and costumes.

Other great bands announced include:

Raging Speedhorn
Blaze Bayley
Mael Morda
Blood Red Throne
Red Rum
Deadly Circus Fire
Dead Label
Codex Alimentarius
Critical Solution
Fallen Arise
Footprints in the Custard
Ex People

ALBUM REVIEW: Ryan Hamilton and The Traitors début with The Devils In The Detail

IT has become quite the done thing for musicians to branch out into side projects, supergroups and entire new bands in order for them to flex all of their musical muscles.

Take for example the likes of Corey Taylor, Max Cavalera, and even (just a few days ago) Five Finger Death Punch's frontman Ivan Moody; all have spread their wings into new projects, much to their fans' delight.

Today's subject for review includes not one, but two rockers who have come together to form a new band. Ryan Hamilton was a solo musician originally, releasing an album (Hell of a Day) in 2015 on Pledge, before he met up with Bowling for Soup's Jaret Reddick and they formed People on Vacation.

If that wasn't enough, he was also hand picked by the legendary Ginger Wildheart to support him on his tour in 2016. Evidently they got along rather well, as Ginger and his guitar feature heavily on Ryan's latest venture, a band called Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors – specifically, their debut album The Devil's In the Detail. Wildheart is famous for several different projects and bands; this is yet another feather in his crowded cap.

The band's info states that they are based in “Texas and the UK” but from literally the first note of opening track 'Smarter' it is obvious that their music is pure Americana; it's rather Tom Petty-ish in it's execution but with an intriguing dollop of pop-punk. It's a toe tapping little number with a surprising bluesy time change at the end which is an unexpected delight.

Listening to the album is like taking a trip back in a time machine: you have your seventies grooves (the cool, swaggering Bad Company-esque 'Anywhere'; the upbeat and jangly 'Drugs and Fashion'); the simplicity of the Eighties (the radio-friendly 'We Never Should of Left L.A', and the 'John Cougar Mellancamp sings the Partridge Family' of album closer 'It Ain't Easy'); as well as classic Noughties pop punk (the toe-tapping 'The Gulf of Mexico', an ode to drinking to forget) right up to modern times, especially the heartfelt and soaring ballad 'Heavy Heart'.

There's also a few tasty surprises sprinkled in, such as the country-flavoured simple ditty 'Back In Time', the inclusion of Scottish singer Chrissy Barnacle on 'Don't Say I Told You So', and the secret track at the end of the album which is a meaty burst of pure punk rock – more of this please, Mr Hamilton!

The Devil's In the Detail takes the listener back to a simpler time musically; a time when lyrics were important and variety was the spice of life. It's less 'get ready on a Saturday night' type music than it is a soundtrack for 'chilling out on a Sunday' or 'going for a long drive': the harmonies are sweet, the guitar work even sweeter, and it has just enough rock and roll snarl to save it from becoming too saccharine.

Of all the collaborations, side groups and various musical configurations of late, this one can definitely be chalked up to a successful one.

Review by Melanie Brehaut

LIVE REVIEW: LIne-up woes doesn't stop Necrofest delivering

As anyone either in a band or putting on a gig will tell you, it's never fucking easy. Between unforeseen circumstances leading to Rabid Bitch Of The North having to pull out, an incident with the drummer from Horrenda being hospitalised in Dublin (get well soon!) and Cursed Sun having arguably the worst luck ever, any promoter wouldn't be blamed for pulling their hair out.

Onwards we march. The dubious honor of opening what remains a stacked bill falls on Indominus, a relatively new death metal band risen from the ashes of Forchristsake. Much tighter and better delivered than their previous outfit, Indominus fill the room with thick, fat slamming death metal that often goes from a Skinless-esque stomp to breakneck blast beats at the drop of a hat.

New track "Antagonist" has some very tasteful clean work thrown in and overall they put on a good show, however they lost significant momentum between songs by taking a bit too long to set up and some uncomfortable stage patter. Enjoyable nonetheless.

Speaking of dubious honours, Scimitar stepped up to replace the Rabid lads and were up next. When you've seen a band play a number of the same songs over the years it's always great to see them evolve.

It's obvious that Scimitar have taken care to elevate their older material to the standard they now play at, be it from new drum lines, extra lead work and a commanding addition of more backing vocals. They play classics and some cuts from the forthcoming album, however as always the pinnacle of the set is the absolutely crushing Innocent X. Scimitar proved once again that they are the premier thrash metal band in Northern Ireland, period.

Quick smoke break and a top up on the old double rum and coke, we go back into the breach for Jenova. You could try to pigeon hole them into any number of subgenres or niches but it's a waste of time as they play what I can only describe as modern extreme metal with cues taken from the likes of At The Gates, Conan and absolutely everywhere in between.

The crowd laps it up and are practically eating from their hands when it's exclaimed that they play "SATANIC FUCKING DEATH METAL" and they eventually close with a blink and you'll miss it cover of a certain grind classic.

Definitely ones to watch out for, and I have it on good authority we'll be seeing them in Belfast again before the year is out.

Disposable made the trip over from Edinburgh and deliver a masterclass in balls out, riff heavy thrash. This weekend marked the first shows for new blood Oliver Wardell on guitar who plays as though he's been with the guys for years. Opener "Scar My Eyes" is a solid 4 minutes of mid paced fury and "Misery" delivers the goods with a vibe not fair off early material from The Haunted both in intensity and vocal delivery.

If you like your thrash heavy, deliberate and energetic then look no further because they deliver all of the above in spades.

Legion Of Wolves take to the stage with a hooded guitar player and vocalist clad in leather armour with a barbed wire wrapped pulpit so needless to say, shit's about to get real. They deliver an absolutely relentless set of heavy old school death metal with nods to Entombed and Bolt Thrower but sounds of Exodus and the like as well. It's a full bore aural assault that never lets up from start to finish and chatter from the crowd after their set would indicate that they'll be welcomed back to Belfast with open arms.

From blackened thrash to modern thrash, the only way to end the night is some straight up party thrash! First things first, Psykosis are here for a good time. Sporting the most energetic guitar player in existence they absolute rip through their set with reckless abandon, much to the pleasure of the now thoroughly inebriated Voodoo crowd.

As always, guitarist Tony Corcoran is like watching a ball of nervous energy and is almost infectious in his obvious enjoyment while the band play a fun but undeniably sharp set, showcasing just why promoters from all over the UK are keen to book them.

And there we have it. With last minute line-up changes this could have been a disaster but all in all was an absolute showcase in extreme music. Much respect to Jonny Gray for both putting on such an ambitious show and for making sure that the night ran without a hitch, let alone playing a set with Scimitar. It's not often you can expect 2 more bands and still get more than your money's worth which really speaks for the calibre of the booking.

Here's to Necrofest 3!

Review by Steve Martin

Pictures By Darren McVeigh