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epic metal

CD review LORD VIGO "Six Must Die"

Veröffentlicht am 11. Mai 2018 von Markus W. in Lord Vigo, News, Six Must Die, Doom Metal, Heavy Metal, Epic Metal, No Remorse, CD Review

CD review LORD VIGO "Six Must Die"

(8/10) After having released two excellent records, spread out over the last years, expectations were pretty high when it comes to „Six Must Die“. Already at this early stage of this review I can tell you that Lord Vigo doesn't disappoint doom metal supporters and fans.

Mighty doom riffs hit you already with „Doom Shall Rise“. Nomen et omen. The song follows a kind of intro that helps to get listeners into the right mood. „I Am the Prophecy“ is next and strengthens the positive impression of „Six Must Die“.

All these songs are very good doom metal tracks, all being part of a dramaturgic setlist that finds its peak in the title track. „Six Must Die“ is an epos with 13 minutes in length. The tune is the real hero if the album, reminding of bands like Lake Of Tears and Count Raven with a bit of Rammstein when it comes to the keyboard sounds. Lord Vigo manages to tell this 13 minutes story in a perfect fashion. There is no single moment you‘re tempted to press the ‚skip‘-button. Excellent soundscapes, hard riffing, embedded samples and a cinematic approach are the fascinating main elements of this milestone in the bands rather short history.

Lord Vigo might not reach the big masses and I even think they shouldn‘t. Of course I don‘t begrudge Lord Vigo big success. It‘s more that the sound of their music covers more of a niche and it‘s the unbound underground vibe that makes this album so vital. Lord Vigo builds their music on creativity and passion and it would be a pity if this would be replaced by reproducing a simple success formula. The underground is, thanks to bands like Lord Vigo, very much alive. Horns up.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Elizabeth Dane
  2. Doom Shall Rise
  3. I Am The Prophecy
  4. Thul-Rar
  5. Thal Mum-Rar
  6. Evil In Disguise
  7. Six Must Die
  8. 21 April 1880

 

Label: No Remorse Records

Genre: Doom Metal

Release Date EU: May 25th, 2018

 

https://www.facebook.com/LordVigo666/

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CD review ANGEL OF MERCY "The Avatar" - re-issue

Veröffentlicht am 30. April 2018 von Markus W. in Angel Of Mercy, The Avatar, News, Heavy Metal, Hardrock, Epic Metal, Power Metal, re-issue, Shadow Kingdom

CD review ANGEL OF MERCY "The Avatar" - re-issue

(8/10) Shadow Kingdom re-issues some stuff from the underground on June 1st – Angel Of Mercy’s first and only album entitled “The Avatar”.

David St.James formed the band in 1980 and it took the bandleader seven years to write the songs and gather a band to record “The Avatar”. Angel Of Mercy’s headquarter was a rented warehouse in the desert heat of Las Vegas, a location they used as a rehearsal room, but also played concerts in front of more than 200 fans.

The album, “The Avatar”, was self-released on vinyl as a private pressing and was supposed to act as a springboard for getting a record deal. Unfortunately things didn’t work as they should and the deal never appeared. This will change in 2018 after a wait for three decades.

30 years after the recording took place it’s Shadow Kingdom that re-issues this ‘lost’ underground pearl in a 2-CD package that also includes some special bonus goodies.

“The Avatar” is actually a pretty cool album that deserves to get some more attention. Even after 30 years the songs are timeless, reminding of influences by Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and some epic metal a la Manilla Road.

Fans of traditional heavy metal should have heard this album that was covered with dust for so many years. It contains good music that’s down to earth, well crafted and full of dedication. These songs were written with passion and this album was recorded with full commitment and without any commercial aim. You can’t get metal more authentic than what you get on “The Avatar”.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

Original The Avatar album

  1. In the Beginning
  2. Angel of Mercy
  3. Chained to the World
  4. Soul Searcher
  5. Break Away
  6. Metamorphosis
  7. The Avatar
  8. Victim of the Change
  9. Journey to the Master
  10. The Last Encounter
  11. The Succubuss

 November 1983, Las Vegas Recording Studio

  1. The Succubuss
  2. Soul Searcher
  3. The Avatar
  4. The Last Encounter

Spring 1992, Abandoned Sessions IMR Studio

  1. Enter the Abyss
  2. In the Beginning
  3. Angel of Mercy
  4. Metamorphosis
Unreleased track from The Avatar sessions
(Intended as a lead-in to "Chained to a World")
  1. The Journey Begins

2015 session, IMR Studio

  1. Chained to a World

 

Label: Shadow Kingdom

Genre: Heavy Metal

Release Date EU: June 1st, 2018

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CD review GATEKEEPER "East of Sun"

Veröffentlicht am 25. April 2018 von Markus W. in Gatekeeper, Omen, Savatage, East of Sun, Cruz Del Sur Music, Heavy Metal, NWoBHM, Epic Metal, CD Review

CD review GATEKEEPER "East of Sun"

(8/10) Cruz Del Sur Music is known for having a portfolio of exciting bands when it comes to more traditional and epic metal. A new addition to it is Canadian metal warriors Gatekeeper. The band was founded in 2009 as a solo project by guitarist Geoff Blackwell. Some EP’s have been recorded and released but the debut was long in coming.

After having inked a deal with Cruz Del Sur Records things gained speed and here it is: “East of Sun”. The debut album features 10 songs of which the last two are covers. Let’s start with those. It’s the legendary “Hall of the Mountain King” (Savatage) and “Death Rider” (Omen) that have been slightly re-arranged and recorded for “East of Sun”. Gatekeeper sticks very much to the original version of these two power metal classics. Of course it’s hard to compete with the originals and I don’t think that it was Gatekeeper’s ambition either. What quintet did though in an excellent way is to keep the spirit alive, adding also some extra power to the classic.

The reason we I started with these two song is, because they reflect very well the influences when it comes to Gatekeeper and their sound. Blackwell and bandmates are into traditional metal that has a stronger epic metal aspect weaved in. While listening to songs like the awesome opener “Blade of Cimmeria” or the uptempo “Warrior Without Fear” reminded me of bands like the mentioned Omen but also Manilla Road came to my mind.

I tune you shouldn’t miss is entitled “Ninefold Muse”. It represents the entire spectrum of Gatekeeper’s sound. Starting slowly and with an epic riff the songs builds up to a heavy rocking metal anthem that will be a delight for fans of powerful metal.

The Canadians, hailing from Vancouver, did a great job when it comes to the debut. “East of Sun” is a great album that mixes melodies and strong riffing in a more old-school fashion without sounding outdated. This album is good stuff for the underground.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Blade of Cimmeria
  2. North Wolves
  3. Warrior Without Fear
  4. Ninefold Muse
  5. Bell of Tarantia
  6. East of Sun
  7. Swan Road Saga
  8. Oncoming Ice
  9. Death Rider (Omen cover)
  10. Hall of the Mountain King (Savatage cover)

 

Label: Cruz Del Sur Music

Genre: Epic Metal

Release Date EU: April 27th, 2018

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CD review SOLSTICE "White Horse Hill"

Veröffentlicht am 4. April 2018 von Markus W. in Solstice, Doom Metal, Heavy Metal, Epic Metal, News, Invictus Productions, CD Review

CD review SOLSTICE "White Horse Hill"

(9/10) This album is a bit of a surprise since it's the first time in 20 years that British doom metal outfit Solstice unveils a new full-length record. Next to that it's the bands third longplayer of a 'career' that began in 1990.

Solstice plays a mix of epic and doom metal that reminds fo bands like Candlemass, but also the early Black Sabbath and Judas Priest are references for this legendary band. The centerpiece of "White Horse Hill" is entitled "Under Waves Lie Our Dead", which is a 12 minutes epos. Kept in a slower pace the tune unveils it's dramatic beauty, generated by heavy riffs, excellent vocals lines and a dense sound. The song is musical storytelling that includes a calm and acoustic middle section. The tune really wows the listener and proves that traditional metal doesn't need to sound outdated and old-fashioned. 

Each of the seven songs is a kind of masterpiece in itself, but I would like to mention the title track in specific. With almost 9 minutes we face another metal anthem with full power, presented with dedication. Solstice also has with "Beheld, a Man of Straw" a very atmospheric tune in the offer. Acoustic guitar, vocals with a lot of feel and samples of rain are a kind of introduction for "White Horse Hill" - the track.

Another hymn got the task to end the album. "Gallow Fan" is the title of a song that's coming with a slower pace and mighty riffs. Solstice equiped the closer with a lot of feel, a vibe that gives you the shivers.

"White Horse Hill" stands for an impressive comeback album of a band that definitely didn't focus on quantity when it comes to releasing records. It's the quality that grew over more than two decades and finally finds an outlet with this release. Horns up.

 

(9/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. III
  2. To Sol a Thane
  3. Beheld, a Man of Straw
  4. White Horse Hill
  5. For All Days, and For None
  6. Under Waves Lie Our Dead
  7. Gallow Fen

 

Label: Invictus Productions

Genre: Epic Doom Metal

Release Date EU: April 6th, 2018

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CD review PRIMORDIAL "Exile Among the Ruins"

Veröffentlicht am 3. April 2018 von Markus W. in Primordial, Heavy Metal, Epic, News, Power Metal, Epic Metal, Metal Blade, CD Review

CD review PRIMORDIAL "Exile Among the Ruins"

(9/10) Irish Primordial adds another dark shining pearl to their impressive discography. A few days ago “Exile Amongst the Ruins” began to bloom in gloomy shades after four years of intensive creative work.

Primordial’s ninth longplayer showcases a band that constantly grew over time. The quintet steadily worked on their sound and it’s the consistency in the line-up, which makes “Exile Amongst the Ruins” to their most mature offering up to date.

The five-piece powerhouse, hailing from Dublin, put together a tracklist that comprises of eight songs of which the shortest is still above five minutes of length. Based on the excellent songwriting skills each of the tunes is a little highlight in itself, never running the risk of becoming boring or lengthy.

There is enough excitement weaved into each of the tracks and even “To Hell or the Hangman” with it’s hypnotic rhythm puts a spell on you.

The masterpiece though comes at the end. “Last Call”, the title fits very well I would say, is a 10 minutes epos that shows the entire width of Primordial’s sound. Things start atmospheric with drums and a gentle acoustic guitar. Of course this peaceful vibe does’t continue that way and it’s the riff that breaks the harmony after one-and-a-half minutes. Each of the five band members contributes to this milestone. The intensive rhythm-section creates a rock solid bass for MacUlliam’s and O’Floinn’s guitars to shine with doomy riffs. Last but not least it’s frontman’s Alan Averill dramatic vocals that adds a lot of feel and depth to this song. What he does here feels more like storytelling rather than singing lyrics or words only. The song is thrilling from the first note played and drags you deeper and deeper into a world of beautiful darkness and Celtic mood.

Primoridal’s newest delivery is a milestone in metal. These five guys from Dublin create more than merely songs with riffs and lyrics. This quintet delivers a Gesamtkunstwerk that wants to be explored and discovered song by songs and after finished it you have a demand for doing it again. Big stuff.

 

(9/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Mail Their Tongue
  2. To Hell or the Hangman
  3. Where Lie the Gods
  4. Exile Amongst the Ruins
  5. Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed
  6. Stolen Years
  7. Sunken Lungs
  8. Last Call

 

Label: Metal Blade Records

Genre: Celtic Black Metal

Release Date EU: March 30th , 2018

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CD review OLD MOTHER HELL "Old Mother Hell"

Veröffentlicht am 26. Februar 2018 von Markus W. in Old Mother Hell, Cruz Del Sur, Heavy Metal, Power Metal, Epic Metal, News, CD Review

CD review OLD MOTHER HELL "Old Mother Hell"

(8/10) Old Mother Hell? Never heard of them earlier and maybe it‘s the same on your side. Therefor let’s have a quick look into who these guys are.

Old Mother Hell is a trio, hailing from Mannheim, Germany. The band was founded in 2015 and formed from the ashes of another thrash band called Hatchery.

„Another War“ kicks off the album and it's built on a slower pace. Mystic and heavy are attributes of this metal anthem. Along the way things gain heaviness and I was reminded of W.A.S.P during the „The Crimson Idol“ days. It‘s the song itself that leads to such comparison but it is also singer Ronald Senft who sounds very similar to Blackie in the late eighties.

„Mountains“ is next and as the title promises, it's mighty one. The start is slow and doomy before a break changes things. Old Mother Hell shifts gears and things become much faster. „Narcotic Overthrow“ follows a similar pattern, showing the bands inspiration, which comes from the NWoBHM as well as epic metal bands.

„Howling Wolves“ fires on all cylinders and cherishes the NWoBHM days with guitar leads and solos. With „Kneel to No God“ things come already closer to an end with the finish line being entitled „Old Mother Hell“. The song is an eight minutes anthem that delivers excellent traditional metal. Some tempo-changes and twists add excitement to this tune that is a well-chosen closing of an unexpectedly good longplayer.

Power metal fans, epic metal enthusiasts ...basically any traditional metal passionista should check out this album. Good stuff for headbangers

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Another War
  2. Mountain
  3. Narcotic Overthrow
  4. Howling Wolves
  5. Kneel to No God
  6. Old Mother Hell

 

Label: Cruz Del Sur Music

Genre: Heavy Metal

Release Date EU: February 23rd, 2018

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CD review SORCERER "The Crowning of the Fire King"

Veröffentlicht am 20. Oktober 2017 von Markus W. in Sorcerer, Heavy Metal, NWoBHM, Classic Rock, Classic Metal, Doom Metal, Epic Metal, Power Metal, Metal Blade, CD Review, News

CD review SORCERER "The Crowning of the Fire King"

(9/10) In many aspects Sorcerer can‘t be equaled with ‚speed‘. This goes for their music as well as for the band‘s history. The metal Vikings, hailing from Stockholm, started back in the end of the 80‘s with two demos tapes ... and then came silence. I thing that the band is world record holder when it comes to the time span between band foundation and debut release. "In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross"  finally saw the light of day 27 years after Sorcerer began their journey.

Also Rome wasn't built on one day. Good things need time and what ripened over all these years, the debut became a terrific album in 2015, bringing traditional doom metal back into the spotlight. After such a tremendous (re-)start the metal world was waiting with full excitement for the sophomore record of this Swedish powerhouse. Just two years after having premiered the highly anticipated second record hits the shelves and it is another fantastic metal highlight.

Sorcerer stay true to themselves, not changing too much when it comes to their sound - and why should they. The mixture of doom metal and classic rock is thrilling. Done with a lot of passion and love for detail, Sorcerer recorded ten new metal anthems, belonging to the best this genre has seen since quite a while.

"The Crowning of the Fire King" offers 70 minutes of pure and spot-on riff power that includes a real masterpiece, surrounded by another nine well-executed tracks. It's the eight minutes title track "The Crowning of the Fire King' that's the centrepiece of this longplayer. Starting calm and with a mystic vibe the song slowly evolves to an epical one. A melodic chorus, excellent solos and an hymnal atmosphere make this number to an excellent metal track.

Actually none of the tune is short and easy. Sorcerer songs are more than just a quick pleasure. These numbers are metallic composition, unveiling the beauty of metal. The melodic opener "Sirens" is such a tune, showing all of the band's trademarks. In order to break the pattern the Stockholm-based powerhouse added with "Nattvaka" a short acoustic interlude that keeps the general atmosphere of this longplayer alive by still acting as a break of the regular flow. Like a halftime break it's a moment to regroup as a listener, preparing yourself for the exciting second half that's still to come.

Like mentioned in the beginning, Sorcerer's start was with low pace, but as soon as the guys were committed to go for it they all of a sudden release excellent slo-mo metal discs with razorblade-sharp riffs. A highlight of 2017.

 

(9/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Sirens
  2. Ship of Doom
  3. Abandoned by the Gods
  4. The Devils Incubus
  5. Nattvaka
  6. Crimson Cross
  7. The Crowning of the Fire King
  8. Unbearable Sorrow
  9. Disciples of the Dark
  10. Bringer of Misery

 

Label: Metal Blade Records

Genre: Doom Metal

Release Date EU: October 20th, 2017

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CD review MAUSOLEUM GATE "Into a Dark Divinity"

Veröffentlicht am 12. September 2017 von Markus W. in Mausoleum Gate, News, Heavy Metal, Classic Rock, Epic Metal, NWoBHM, CD Review, Hardrock

CD review MAUSOLEUM GATE "Into a Dark Divinity"

(8/10) Next to a musical identity Finnish metal powerhouse Mausoleum Gate also developed a visual identity. Just having a look on the color coding of the sophomore longplayer "Into a Dark Divinity" unveiled the secret of which band releases this longplayer. However, what counts is the music and after having received excellent reaction, expectations for the sophomore album have been quite high. Would this lead to more pressure and can Mausoleum Gate stand the heat? They can.

"Into a Dark Divinity" is the anticipated second record of this metal outfit from Kuopio. As with the debut the band focusses again on traditional metal with an epical component being embedded. Six songs are a beauty for fans of bands like Rainbow, Manilla Road and Co.

The three main chapters of this fanatic piece of music are the opener "Condemn to Darkness", "Apophis" and the closer "Into a Dark Divinity", all of them being a beauty with 10 minutes in length.

Each of them is a little masterpiece with "Condemned to Darkness" being the opener. A softly played acoustic guitar and well-preformed vocals are the first thing you get to hear before the tunes slowly builds up to an excellent heavy rocker that includes a stronger 70's vibe. "Apophis" is another of these tracks that are epic in length. Compared to opener the approach for this number was slightly different. Still sound-wise being similar the tune is a doom-based metal track that takes its intensity out of the riffs which are dominant through-out. The title track instead is much softer, reminding of progressive space rock a la Eloy. Atmospheric keyboards are very present, building excellent soundscapes which are a 'Rainbow-esque'. Next to these three monumental songs there are the 'quick and dirty' rockers of which the excellent uptempo "Burn the Witches at Dawn" is one of them.

"Into a Dark Divinity" is an album that revitalises a warm and organic metal sound that has its roots in the late 70's. Mausoleum Gate celebrates this music with passion and dedication, leading to an album that feels like a matter of heart.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Condemned to Darkness
  2. Burn the Witches at Dawn
  3. Apophis
  4. Solomon's Key
  5. Horns
  6. Into a Dark Divinity

 

Label: Cruz Del Sur Music

Genre: Heavy Metal

Release Date EU: September 8th, 2017

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CD review MANILLA ROAD "To Kill a King"

Veröffentlicht am 26. Juni 2017 von Markus W. in Manilla Road, Heavy Metal, Power Metal, Doom Metal, Epic Metal, News, CD Review

CD review MANILLA ROAD "To Kill a King"

(8/10) Some consistency is very welcome in this fast changing time and some bands provide this well known to their fans. Manilla Road belongs to this group that brings back a warm feeling of epic metal from the early 80’s.

If you also appreciate the described you should mark June 30th in your calendar since it’s the day of a new Manilla Road longplayer getting out of the starting blocks.

“To Kill a King” raises the count to 18 studio records that capture the result of the band’s creative work up to date. The longplayer features ten new tracks, bringing more then one hour of powerful metal right into your living room (or wherever you will listen to this album). I assume that Mark “The Shark” Shelton and his band mates will also not leave the underground and this is meant in a positive way. Manilla Road’s music isn’t made for the mainstream. As with the earlier releases also the new album focuses on slower-paced metal that partly crosses the lines towards doom.

That the four-piece from Kansas has a wider approach than just slower or more midpaced songs I what “The Arena” brings up to surface. Here we are talking about a furious metal track that’s head banging good. And since it’s in-between two the calmer and melancholic anthems, “Never Again” and “In the Wake”, it acts as a well-placed contrast on a well thought through tracklist.

The trip through basic and virtuous metal continues with “The Talisman” before reaching “The Other Side”, which is another hymn in metal.

Each of these tracks on “To Kill a King” comes with a certain depth that makes them different from so many other releases. OK, sometimes things sound like coming from another time but none of these tracks sounds dusted or old-fashioned. In contrary, this album shows the beauty of a constant evolving sound of a band that always keeps sight of their roots. In the end I guess it’s the mix of longtime Manilla Road experience of Mark Shelton and Bryan Patrick together with a powerful rhythm section that got with Phil Rose another powerful element in 2016.

There’s one song though that at least doesn’t work for me - “Conqueror”. The tune feels a bit scattered and in one or another way I could find my way into it.

However, “To Kill a King” is another pearl in Manilla Road’s long history in metal. These guys stay true to themselves since almost four decades, always aiming for what they like and prefer without being attracted by some flash in the pan trends that also have a rise and fall in metal. Like said in the beginning – consistency rules instead of being attracted by short-term trends that also exist in metal.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. To Kill a King
  2. Conqueror
  3. Never Again
  4. The Arena
  5. In the Wake
  6. The Talisman
  7. The Other Side
  8. Castle of the Devil
  9. Ghost Warriors
  10. Blood Island

 

Label: Golden Core Records

Genre: Epic Metal

Release Date EU: June 30th, 2017

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Live report SÓLSTAFIR / GOLD, De Helling, Utrecht, 17.06.2017

Veröffentlicht am 18. Juni 2017 von Markus W. in Sólstafir, Gold, Live, Live Review, Post Rock, Prog Metal, Black Metal, Alternative Metal, De Helling, Season Of Mist, Epic Metal, Iceland

Was it the Icelandic football team last year gaining many people's sympathy by their unusual and straightforward team approach, it is Icelandic rock music that adds quality to this years summer. Sólstafir recently released their new album "Berdreyminn" which stands for another cornerstone in post rock, coming with a deepened intensity you can't escape from. The quartet is on tour in June this year playing some of the bigger festivals plus a few club shows. One of the latter took place in De Helling, Utrecht on a hot and sunny June night and it felt like the Icelanders bringing a fresh breeze to Holland, even though the temperature in the venue also reached sauna level rather quickly.

Rotterdam-based alternative metal outfit Gold kicked off this event, as they also did a couple of days earlier in Breda. The sextet entered the stage for their home-game show and instead of starting directly into their set, everybody stood still, listening to a two minutes intro from tape. This was an unusual beginning since you could assume that you want to use every minute of a support slot for playing your songs. These came to surface after the prelude faded away in the room. A guitar riff broke the silence, making some girls jump in the front row. Gold played a 45 minutes set of post-rock songs. The base for Gold’s music are heavy riffs and a grooving rhythm section. Three guitars enabled the band to create a massive wall of sound with almost everybody on stage headbanging throughout the entire set. These guys are really committed to what they are doing. A counter part to this robust riff orgy was the expressional 'dance' of singer Milena. Almost esoteric moves have been out of context, not really getting in line with the rest of the massive performance. The same goes also for the hypnotic vocal lines with a melancholic Weltschmerz embedded that started to get annoying the further the set went on. This was my perception but I also have to say that I heard quite some people being impressed by the show. At the end I must say that the guys know and love what they are doing and if you like it or not stays on an individual level. However, it would be good to let lose of the cookie cutter approach and add more twists to the songs. This could make things far more exciting.

Live report SÓLSTAFIR / GOLD, De Helling, Utrecht, 17.06.2017

After a warm applause slowly disappeared, followed by a quick re-arrangement of the scenery, it was shooting stars Sólstafir who started a 100 minutes journey through post rock in an Icelandic ambience. The latest records of the quartet have jaw-dropping good ones, showcasing a band that combines emotional depth with mighty rock and metal sounds. These songs include everything, from vulnerable moments to heavy riff infernos. All this together lead to a spectacular show that didn't use any gimmicks or effects. The music, together with a simple but effective light show, was enough to make this performance to one of the best ones I have seen this year.

Sólstafir fans witnessed a show that was built on a well-chosen setlist, covering mainly songs from the last two albums, enriched by classic like "Goddess of the Age". The ten minutes masterpiece was the phenomenal closer, introduced as the last song, but fortunately a very long one. Sólstafir hit bulls-eye that night. Their songs are magic and so is their show.

One thing was annoying though and it has nothing to do with the band(s). For me it's still not understandable why people constantly have to talk during a concert. If you want to chat with your friends, fine - do this at the bar. Especially during the calmer parts of Sólstafir's set, these chatterboxes have been a real distraction, leading to a moment when frontman Aðalbjörn Tryggvason introduced the sad background of "Necrologue" with people in the crowd still keeping on talking. Fortunately, as a matter of heart, he clearly states that these people should shut-up now, an announcement that was very much welcomed by the real fans. Later on it was the sound engineer who did the same to some other 'fans' and hopefully people understand that a concert is about music and no communication platform or chat room.

Anyhow, with these short moments a distraction it was an awesome Sólstafir show. These four guys are perfectionistas being capable to transfer the entire finesse of their records live on stage. Sólstafir gigs are emotional, heavy, mighty, fragile, powerful, refreshing, melancholic and hopeful. The quartet uses the entire spectrum of sounds, giving you the shivers - Icelandic magic that splashes over to the European mainland. I'm looking already forward to see the guys again. Horns up.

Live report SÓLSTAFIR / GOLD, De Helling, Utrecht, 17.06.2017
Live report SÓLSTAFIR / GOLD, De Helling, Utrecht, 17.06.2017
Live report SÓLSTAFIR / GOLD, De Helling, Utrecht, 17.06.2017

Setlist:

  1. Silfur-Refur
  2. Ótta
  3. Love is the Devil (and I am in Love)
  4. She Destroys Again
  5. Náttmál
  6. Īsafold
  7. Necrologue
  8. Pale Rider
  9. Fjara
  10. Goddess of the Age

 

Location: De Helling, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Date: June 17th, 2017

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CD review ATLANTEAN KODEX " The Annihilation of Bavaria"

Veröffentlicht am 18. Juni 2017 von Markus W. in Atlantean Kodex, Van Records, News, Live, CD Review, Epic Metal, Power Metal, Heavy Metal

CD review ATLANTEAN KODEX " The Annihilation of Bavaria"

(8/10) Atlantean Kodex belongs to the group of younger bands that brought epic metal back to peoples attentions. Together with While Heaven Swept, Sorcerer and other, it's the Bavarian five -piece that blows some new life into a genre that had a first peak with bands like Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol. For whatever reason, this sub-genre never really left the underground - for the good and the bad. One the benefits is for sure the fact that epic metal always stayed authentic and real. Playing this kind of music demands dedication with Atlantean Kodex being a band having this enthusiasm for what they're doing as part of their musical DNA.

After having published two studio records it's the current release that marks the band’s third live album. After having unveiled “The Annihilation of Koenigshofen” and “The Annihilation of Nurnberg”, it this time “The Annihilation of Bavaria” that premiers footage of one of their concerts as part of the package.

 It was back in the cold snd grey month of November in 2015 when Atlantean Kodex played a legendary show at Castle Theuern in Bavaria. The show was a celebration of their 10th anniversary and exclusively included a performance of the entire "The White Goddess" album. Base for this review is the audio version which means that I can't tell you a lot about the probably thrilling visuals of the show.

Anyhow, already the live album itself is worth to be checked out. Atlantean Kodex performs tight and powerful in front of an enthusiastic crowd. It's a typical home game atmosphere that pushes the band to their best level of performance. And since it was Atlantean Kodex only concert in 2015, fans and bands have being hungry for live performed Atlantean Kodex-metal.

The sound, as a crucial element of a live album, is good, supporting the underground vibe. Things are not overdone with this release. Like described earlier, also the sound stays true and real. It's a basic but powerful production which gives you as the listener the feeling of standing right in the venue.

Atlantean Kodex is belonging the group of contemporary epic metal bands and their live album underlines this in an impressive manner.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. From Shores Forsaken
  2. Pilgrim
  3. Trumpets Of Doggerland
  4. Sol Invictus
  5. Bilwis
  6. Heresiarch
  7. Twelve Stars And An Azure Gown
  8. Der Untergang Der Stadt Passau
  9. Enthroned In Clouds And Fire
  10. White Goddess Unveiled
  11. The White Ship
  12. Kodex Battalions
  13. A Prophet In The Forest
  14. The Atlantean Kodex

 

Label: Van Records

Genre: Epic Metal

Release Date EU: June 9th, 2017

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CD review WALPYRGUS "Walpyrgus Nights"

Veröffentlicht am 9. Juni 2017 von Markus W. in Walpyrgus, Twisted Tower Dire, While Heaven Wept, News, Heavy Metal, NWoBHM, Hardrock, Epic Metal, Cruz Del Sur, CD Review

CD review WALPYRGUS "Walpyrgus Nights"

(8/10) The history of Walpyrgus started in 2012 when mainly Twisted Tower Dire and While Heaven Wept musicians joined together working on traditional heavy metal songs under the banner of Walpyrgus. The band had some first releases with a debut EP and an appearance on Metal Blade’s “Metal Massacre 14” compilation.

It was the start point of this traditional metal powerhouse and the journey was supposed to continue with a next leg – a full-length album. “Walpyrgus Nights” is the title of this excellent achievement. Inspired by NWoBHM bands like Iron Maiden, but also Black Sabbath and even Slayer, the sextett realized eight songs that made it on this debut.

“Walpyrgus Night” is mainly the brainchild of Scott Waldrop who asked at a certain moment his good old friend Tom Phillips from While Heaven Wept to contribute with some keyboard parts. There was no moment of doubting for Phillips to support and while digging deeper into the materiel sent by Waldorp, his involvement became much deeper than ‘just’ adding some keyboards. In the end it was Phillips signing responsible for the entire production of the album and we can say that he did an excellent job. This debut got a powerful sound. It’s an oldschool sound without being old-fashioned.

To highlight some of the tracks is a tough one since all songs are brilliant ones. However, what you should check out is for sure the epic title track and the furious “Dead Girls” which includes a raw punk influence. These two songs give you a good overview of what you can in general expect on this passionate longplayer

“Walpyrgus Nights” will make hearts of metalheads leap for joy. The quintet created eight masterpieces in metal, built on passion and a strong willpower of doing what they envisioned for quite some time, creating an authentic heavy metal longplayer that includes heart and soul. Here it is and you should join the band in their passion for these 36 minutes of metal.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. The Dead of the Night
  2. Somewhere Under Summerwind
  3. Dead Girls
  4. Lauralone
  5. Palmystry
  6. She Lives
  7. Light of a Torch
  8. Walpyrgus Nights

 

Label: Cruz Del Sur

Genre: Heavy Metal

Release Date EU: June 9th, 2017

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CD review BELOW "Upon a Pale Horse"

Veröffentlicht am 18. Mai 2017 von Markus W. in Below, Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Epic Metal, CD Review, News, Metal Blade

(8/10) Below started in 2011 in Sweden and their focus was, and still is, on more epic, heavy and dark doom. The first release of this five-piece band was a 4-track EP, which came out end of 2012, creating some first excitement in the metal community. This EP was an enabler for Below to embark on a 10 days tour through Denmark, Germany and Holland, followed by signing a contract with Metal Blades. It was also the time when I had a first interview with the guys and I can remember very brief answers. However, the potential was already very obvious back then and therefore it wasn’t a surprise that the first full-length album, “Across the Dark River”, received quite good feedback and fan reactions. This was in April 2014 and three years later we can welcome the anticipated new album “Upon a Pale Horse”.

The new record comes with seven new songs, which are introduced by the classic entitled “The Plague Within”. This gloomy minute sets the tone of voice for the other seven songs. Below is still in epical doom metal and what we can see/hear on the second album is a further evolvement of their sound and songs.

“Disappearing Into Nothing” is the first song that hits you. Slow and menacing the track unveils an intensity that acts as a dark wake-up call. Things change slightly with “The Coven”. As with all the songs, also this one has a sinister vibe; this time in a more half-acoustic way in the beginning. In the second half the songs turns into a mighty metal smasher that comes with some King Diamond parallels before it ends again in a more silent fashion.

The title track is the longest track on the album. With almost ten minutes Below puts everything they have in the offer into one track. And if this would not be enough the guys could gain Primordial’s Alan Averill for some spoken word, introducing this well-crafted doom monster. “Suffer in Silence” is a traditional metal song with singer Zeb showing the full width of his vocal range.

The last three tracks can keep up the high level of performance. Heavy riffs, great vocals and lots of atmosphere are what you get with “Upon a Pale Horse”. It took below three full years to come up with their next album but it seems that the time was well spend and used. These seven grim metal anthems show the band at a next level, strengthening their position in doom metal.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. The Plague Within
  2. Disappearing Into Nothing
  3. The Coven
  4. Upon a Pale Horse
  5. Suffer in Silence
  6. Hours of Darkness
  7. 1000 Broken Bones
  8. We are All Slaves

 

Label: Metal Blade

Genre: Doom Metal

Release Date EU: May 19th, 2017

CD review BELOW "Upon a Pale Horse"
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CD review CIRITH UNGOL "King of the Dead"

Veröffentlicht am 18. Mai 2017 von Markus W. in Cirith Ungol, Epic Metal, Power Metal, Classic Metal, Doom Metal, Prog Metal, News, CD Review, Metal Blade, Heavy Metal, US Metal

(9/10) This band was ahead of time when releasing the original version of this underground classic. "King of the Dead" was Cirith Ungol's second release. The longplayer was published in 1984 and the band didn't achieve much more than a cult status in the metallic underground.

It took many years, actually decades, for metal fans to realize the brilliancy of the California-based band. These days it's Metal Blade that re-releases some of Cirith Ungol's pearls and the band is also active again. After having brought back "Paradise Lost" to the record shops a few months ago it's the re-issue of "King of the Dead" that pushes up the heartbeat of epic metal fans.

There are a few things that made the guys unique. It's the epical progressiveness which is a crucial trademark of this powerhouse. These songs demand focus in a fast-moving time. Only while taking time to listen to songs like "Atom Smasher" and "Master of the Pit" unveils the full beauty and depth of these classics.

What's also unique with the band is Tim Baker's unique voice. High pitch vocals with a special phrasing makes each of the tracks to a demanding experience. Also here things need time. This voice and these songs are not a lead-off homerun. Cirith Ungol's music needs space to develop...and if it takes more than three decades.

And last but not least it's Bach's "Toccata in Dm" that was unique at that time. Interpreted by guitar and bass only gave this classic composition a new appeal in days when classic and metal were still more a kind of two poles than something that goes together very well. This quartet proved that it's possible.

All in all, in case you missed the band's first era it's time to catch up and the Metal Blade re-releases are the perfect opportunity to do it.

 

(9/10)

 

Tracklist:

  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 Dm
  8. Cirith Ungol
  9. Last Laugh (live)
  10. Death of the Sun (Alternate Mix)
  11. Master of the Pit (Live 2016)
  12. King of the Dead (Live 1016)
  13. Cirith Ungol (Live 2016)

 

Label: Metal Blades Records

Genre: Epic Metal

Release Date EU: April 28th, 2017

CD review CIRITH UNGOL "King of the Dead"
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