(9/10) The history of Life Of Agony is a really exciting one. Like a rollercoaster the band went through ups and downs, all leading to their newest album „A Place Where There’s No More Pain“.
But let’s take it one by one. It was in 1993 when an album almost turned the metal world upside down. „River Runs Red“ was the name of the debut, released by a four-piece band hailing from Brooklyn, New York – Life Of Agony. It was this energetic mixture of hardcore, metal and rock that created a lot of excitement and the record is still one of my personal faves. Songs like the title track, „This Time" and „Through and Through“ are intense songs with an intensity the band never reached again to such an extend.
„Ugly“ the successor, was a good album too even though it couldn't reach the class of the debut. The beginning of the end, the first end, was in 1997 when singer Keith Caputo left the band, being replaced by Ugly Kid Joe singer Whitfield Crane. Two years later the band announced their split and the first chapter of Life Of Agony was closed.
The second era started in 2003 with two sold-out shows in New York, followed by a new studio album entitled „Broken Valley“ but after a few more years the disbanded for a second time at the end of 2011.
It looks like the four guys can’t let loose of the band since it was in 2014 when Life Of Agony has been re-vitalized and lucky enough the quartet wrote and recorded new songs that ended up on their fifth longplayer. Life Of Agony found a new home with Napalm Records and end of April fans can finally hold some new stuff of the NY-based metal gang in their hands.
Comparing the new longplayer with the debut wouldn’t be fair. Times changed and things evolved. However, „A Place Where There’s No More Pain“ became an excellent album that I haven’t expected to be that strong and energetic. It feels like the hiatus had a positive impact – a period in which the quartet got hungry again for heavy alternative metal that includes all Life Of Agony trademarks – excellent vocals by Mina Caputo, razorblade-sharp riffs by Joey Z. and a groove machine that consist out of Alan Robert and Sal Abruscato. This original line-up unveils an album that is filled with ten highlights. I couldn’t indentify any filler on this longplayer that is bursting with energy.
„Meet the Maker’ kicks it off with a modern riffing and vocal lines that are a 100% Life Of Agony. There is a certain melancholy embedded in the opener that’s balanced with a great melody. Another song I would like to stand still for a moment is the title track that is build in a thrilling fashion. With a moderate paced verse and a more upbeat chorus the song is a treat for ears and mind.
„Dead Speak Kindly“ is a darker song with a reduced tempo before „A New Low”, with a dominant bass line, slowly creeps into your mind. A thrilling break is the pepperoni on this metal pizza, making things even more tasteful.
The catchiest song on the album is „Bag of Bones“. ‚Catchy’ in this context doesn’t mean commercial. It just sticks after the first time listening to it, before „Walking Catastrophe“ dominates the scene with heavy riffs. The end of the longplayer is a quiet one. „Little Spots of You“ is a wistful piano ballad that includes a lot of pain as well as some light-hearted moments. But even these lighter moments are covered in grey shades flowing round your soul. This song is very unusual as well as it’s a great experiment with a ‚deadly’ end.
„A Place Where There’s No More Pain“ became the expected awesome new Life Of Agony longplayer that shows that band in great shape and form. This album is the best one since „Ugly“ maybe even since „River Runs Red“. The four piece kept the intensity in their music that became more mature but for sure not less loud. This album is a ‚must have’.
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Alternative Metal
Release Date EU: April 28th, 2017
(8/10) Thrash metal and the Bay Area are more than strongly connected. But the American West coast has more places that act as the home base for good metal bands. Ventura, California is one of these places. It’s the hometown of thrash metal machine Warbringer who started in 2004 as Onslaught with changing the name to Warbringer to not get mixed up with the British metal icons.
Warbringer never really made it to the top even though they released more than solid records.
„Woe to the Vanquished“ is he newest sonic assault, featuring eight new songs. This doesn’t sound a lot but the five-piece band went for some extraordinary long tracks that made it on this release, which is already a different approach than what ended on „IV: Empires Collapse“.
And there is far more different. The band had to go through a total renewal since band members left Warbringer and there was a period when the band’s future wasn’t a given. It was Adam Carroll and John Kevill, both founding members, who managed to get out of this emotional darkness by establishing a new rhythm section with Carlos Cruz (who played in the band already earlier) and Jessie Sanchez on bass. Chase Becker completed the new line-up and things could go forward.
“Woe to he Vanquished” is Warbringer’s first album for Napalm Records and it’s a bombshell. Eight thrash anthems are blending technical capabilities and raw energy to a cocktail that acts as boost of adrenaline.
The by far longest tune comes at the end. „When the Guns Fell Silent“ is an 11 minutes opus that we haven’t heard from the band before. The number ‚11’ has anyhow a much deeper meaning than just being the length of the songs that actually has a running time of 11 minutes and 11 seconds. The song addresses the insanity of war and the suffering that result out of it. Warbringer tells that story by using the end of World War I as a transmitter, which ended with a truce on November 11 at 11:11.
From a musical point of view „When the Guns Fell Silent“ is he most ambitious song that Warbringer ever wrote. It tries to capture the entire emotional width of the described situation, which they managed very well.
After having listened to the album several times I must say that I liked what I heard. Warbringer released a merciless album featuring thrash songs that sounds fresh, brutal and dynamic. Warbringer is still hungry and they get this message across in a pretty good way. Warbringer in 2017 is an even better oiled metal machine that steamrolls everything and everybody.
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Thrash Metal
Release Date EU: March 31st, 2017
Three weeks prior to Delain's co-headliner North America tour with Hammerfall the Dutch six-piece band embarked on a small Dutch club tour. Having played already three sows with two more to come, Delain also stopped in Amstelveen's P60, a nice venue in close proximity to Amsterdam.
Next to the main act the venue also hosted Aeverium from Germany who got the role of being the opening act. I'm deeply ashamed to admit that I missed the guys from Viersen so far. The more I was curious about the songs and their show. Aerverium didn't bring that much new to the table. Two singers, Aeva Maureel with a more classic voice and Marcel Roemer adding the rock timbre, isn't something that's totally new. However, the songs of the Aeverium sounded quite good and I actually ask myself why the band is sometimes described as 'gothic metal'. Aeverium plays well-done melodic metal that takes it's energy from a solid working rhythm section, heavy guitar riffs and the two singers as the icing on the cake.
The quintet was well-received by Delain fans. The energy in the room grew with each song played, peaking in a more than warm applause at the end of the 30 minutes set. Next to known material the band also played with "Time" the title track from the upcoming album and also premiered the first single from the album live on stage. Aeverium's show was entertaining and time was flying towards what most of the fans came for: Delain - the main act.
After a 40 minutes break, that felt a bit too long, Delain entered the stage. The band started a show that could have had the header of 'Friday night, party night' with the band igniting a firework of rock. High motivation of band and fans, high level of energy in the room and great symphonic metal songs have led to an enthusiastic vibe in the almost 'sold out' venue.
The six-piece band from Zwolle started with a triple from the latest studio album "Moonbathers". "Hands of Gold", the super catchy "Suckerpunch" and "The Glory and the Scum" got fans' adrenalin flowing. "Army of Dolls", from the "The Human Condition" release, increased fans enthusiasm and the longer the band played the more the concert turned into a party on a Friday night; even supported by a confetti shooter towards the end of the set. Three more songs from "Moonbathers" has made it on the setlist, which was for the rest a well balanced and well-chosen mix of old and new stuff.
What needs to be mentioned as well was the fantastic sound the show benefited from. Powerful, balanced and well adjusted describes it in the best way; adding 1-2 levels of heaviness to each of the tunes, compared to the album versions.
Delain rocked the house that night and I guess, if you would have asked the fans, this show could have continued forever. Anyhow, after 90 minutes the last tone faded away and the outro marked the end of the a great show done by a band that underlined their position in the the Premier League of melodic metal.
Location: P60, Amstelveen, The Netherlands
Date: March 17th, 2017
Australia's heavy rockers in Mammoth Mammoth, who are going to release their brand new album 'Mount The Mountain' April 28th on Napalm Records, have just unleashed a first lyric video – and there could be probably no better track title for a lyric video then for a song called 'Spellbound'!
Taken from the band's upcoming and fourth studio album, 'Mount The Mountain' contains eleven power-fisted tracks that threaten to blow your mind – and offers some hellish inferno of psyched-out riffs and debauched, fist-pumping anthems. Get a taste, join the Mammoth Mammoth party and check out the brand new lyric video for 'Spellbound' HERE!
The track list reads as follows:
1. Mount The Mountain
3. Hole in the Head
4. Kickin' my Dog
8. Hard Way Down
9. Wild and Dead
10. Cold Liquor
11. Cant Get You Out of My Head ( Bonus Track – Kylie Minoque Cover )
Moonspell is currently on pre-production with Jon Phipps (orchestralmetal.com) at their home studios (Inferno) in Portugal and has recently posted online some pictures of videos of their daily work at the studio.
The album title will be "1755" and it’s a quite surprising twist of events and direction for the band. Versing the Great Lisbon Earthquake (1755), the band has developed a lyrical concept that looks into the death and rebirth of Lisbon and how the disaster changed Religion, Politics and Philosophy in the whole of Europe. The surprise is that the album will be fully sung in Portuguese!
What was supposed to be just a 4-song bonus for the "Lisboa Under the Spell" DVD/BluRay (recorded last February in Lisbon with 4000 wild fans attending, to be released in 2018) evolved into a full length album that will be produced by Tue Madsen (Antfarm Studios, DK) who worked with the band in a few previous releases.
In the band’s own words, Fernando explains:
“We fell in love with the concept and made perfect sense to sing it in our national language, Portuguese. I guess we were just waiting for the right opportunity to work on such an album. Musically it will be heavier than Extinct. It will be earthshaking but also very detailed with orchestrations and percussion as we want people to relive the Lisbon of the 18th century. Singing it in Portuguese, allowed me to find a different expression as a vocalist and my job is to be the survivor of the Earthquake, roaming the ruins and telling you all about it.”
(8/10) This EP belongs to the positive surprises these days. The quartet from Bruxelles blends various styles of rock music, resulting in four songs that are dynamic and vital.
Classic rock, a bit of grunge and some hardrock melt, leading a powerful EP that begins with "Funky Queen". The title track is a grooving rock song that brings one of the most important elements of Black Mirrors right into the spotlight - pure energy. The powerful vocals, done by singer Marcella Di Troia, are major element of the bands music that probably works live even better than on disc.
"Kick Out the Jam" is next. The track shifts gears, being a bit faster than the opener. It has a kick-ass approach before "The Mess' unveils the blues influences of Black Mirrors. The final track on this disc is entitled "Canard Vengeur Masque" and is with five minutes play time the longest one on this EP. The song comes with a slower pace and a quite intense expression. In general the tune is anchored in classic rock even though it also includes some moments of Nirvana (You'll find them easily).
Black Mirrors will be on tour through Europe, opening for Horisont which sounds like a good package. So far, enjoy this refreshing EP.
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date EU: March 3rd, 2017
Here are the dates;
(7/10) If there's one voice that stands for stoner rock like no-one else than it's ex-Kyuss singer John Garcia. The guy from Arizona has his own phrasing and a timbre that makes him to an outstanding vocalist. Regardless if it was with the mentioned Kyuss or later on with bands like Unida and Slo Burn, Garcia’s voice was a trademark for each of those groups. Over the last months the singer worked on his new solo album named „The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues" which will be available on January 27th. This longplayer reduces any electrical support and comes with a strong acoustic expression - in fact it's entirely unplugged. That doesn't mean that the tunes are powerless. The rocking opener "Kylie" states this very well. "Green Machine" is next in the batting order, a number that shows the emotional side of Garcia. A silent tune with a lot of feel is what you get with this song. It's these two numbers that give you an idea about the width of sounds on this album. Garcia’s tunes are all kept within this framework and the expression of the entire album puts more of a focus on the quiet songs. „The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues" is partly putting me between a rock and a hard stone. One the one hand it has its fascinating moments but after a while it also feels lengthy. It stays in a generic mood and pattern that misses some peaks here and there. Maybe an EP with the highlights of this record, like the smashing opener, would have been a better option.
Label: Napalm Records Genre: Rock Release Date EU: January 27th, 2017
A 66% Scandinavian metal package brought a cold breeze and hot metal to Holland. Swedish metal Templars HammerFall embarked on a headliner tour through Europe, supported by their label companions Gloryhammer and Swedish comrades Lancer - three bands that guaranteed a glorious metal night in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Lancer from Arvika had to enter the stage first. The guys have a new album out, entitled "Mastery”. Their powerful speed metal was well appreciated and songs like the title track from the latest release as well as "Iscariot" are good song tunes done for being performed on stage. But also some gimmicks have been part of Lancer's 30 minutes gig, peaking on singer Isak Stenvall swaying around the mask that decorated the album's artwork.
All this was the right introduction for what came next. Scottish/Swiss space invaders Gloryhammer filled the middle slot and their show was remarkable. First of all it was great to see how solid Gloryhammer's fan base in Holland seems to be. The moment the band entered the stage the room, at least the first rows, turned into a madhouse. 'Hoot' shouts filled the entire room. One can think about the costumes and concept of Gloryhammer whatever you want, the music and energy just rocks. The entire scenery made me smile more than ones but the epical sing-a-long power metal just puts a spell on you. The funniest Moment though was when singer Thomas Winkler aka Angus McFive gave the task to a fan to arrange a beer for the Hootsman by crowd surfing to the bar and back. Good music and entertaining show, embedded in a weird scenery.
After such a performance it was up to the headliner to push even harder. Now, HammerFall is in business since two decades, they have tons of good songs and they have been a revitalizer of heavy metal in the grunge/modern metal 90's.
Next to the quality of hits like the new “Bring It!”, the great “Renegade” and the grande finale “Hearts on Fire” fans got with 90 minutes a full quantity headliner package. HammerFall left no doubt that they are the main act that night. Supported by a great stage set the guys obviously enjoyed playing in Holland, which was by the way their first show in Utrecht ever. A surprising moment though was Joacim Cans' rhetorical question about how many people are part of a Hammerfall show for the first time. I guess it was half of the crowd, something that wasn't to expect and a clear sign that Hammerfall should come back more often to Holland. Anyhow, regardless if new or longtime fan, everybody obviously had fun that night. Actually the amount of energy in the room was outstanding, esp. thinking about a Monday night.
Like mentioned earlier, the quintet can look back on a rich back catalogue which makes it hard to choose. One milestone that is effected by that is the ground-breaking "Glory to the Brave", the bands fantastic debut. HammerFall didn't went on the same road as many other bands, playing an entire album – not even as a 20 years special anniversary special show. The five-piece decided to promote the new longplayer and celebrate their classic with a "Medley to the Brave" featuring various songs from the debut. A good decision.
For the rest it was an entertaining and professional show that included Oscar's 'hammer guitar', Joacim Cans and Pontus Norgren kicking of "Glory to the Brave" acoustically while sitting in front of the drum kit and last but not least 90 minutes of authentic heavy metal with a strong traditional touch.
Seeing HammerFall live on stage is definitely a great thing. It might be that the latest longplayer was 'just' a good one, but HammerFall live on stage still shows the impact and power of the guys and their music. All in all it was a great way to spend a crispy Monday night with three bands that have us much in common by still being quite different. Horns up.
Location: TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Date: January 16th, 2017