Sepultura – SepulQuarta

SepulQuarta Album Cover Art

Sepultura – SepulQuarta
Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 13/08/2021
Running Time: 60:56
Review By Victor Augusto
10/10

Hello everyone. I am Victor Augusto and today I don’t want to write, just as a reviewer, from this beautiful team at Ever Metal. Today, I am here just to share the experience of hearing an album from a band that I have truly admired since I was a young kid from a poor neighbourhood, growing up in a violent city in this land called Brazil. Firstly, thank you to Ever Metal for allowing me to write about it, considering I picked an album that wasn’t available on our review list. As a fan, I just wanted to express the experience of listening to this album from the band’s official streaming platforms.

Let me travel back to the year of 1999 when I was a young teenager, just 15 years old. At that time, I was living in a city called Rio de Janeiro, which is famous for its beautiful nature, but also for all the violence and chaos. My daily feeling, when I lived there, was to be like a prisoner inside all of that poverty and mess. All of this was allied by my family’s lack of money that made my period there seem like a nightmare. As always, I had Heavy Metal as my relief. I clearly remember the day that I was waiting to buy something in a store and I was lucky enough to see an interview with a band, talking about their new line-up and era. Yes, it was Sepultura during the ‘Against Tour’.

“Against”! You’ll all be asking that I must surely have heard about them before this album release?. Of course, I had already heard about Sepultura before, but I had never heard any of their albums. Let me remind you that the neighbourhood I was living in was so poor and Heavy Metal stores were a distant thing from there. I had no money to have access to MTV (which was only available on pay TV) or Heavy Metal magazines. Nevertheless, I started to look for all their CD’s and my huge love for the band began. Considering I discovered them when they were rebuilding after a very difficult period, I can say that I was lucky to see how Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr (together with all the members at that time) fought to save the band.

From that moment on I have followed every album release, every interview and every tour, anything I can find. I am 100% sure that they’ve worked incredibly hard to put the band where it is now. If I was a fan of what they created in their first ten years of existence, I became even more of a fan watching how they stayed strong, battling to overcome. Today, Andreas Kisser is one of my biggest heroes because of his passion for music and for Sepultura. If all musicians put half of his passion and dedication into their bands, then many of them would be much bigger around the world.

If you have only started to respect the current line-up from their last two albums “Quadra” or “Machine Messiah” then I suggest you go back and listen to what they have created since the “Dante XXI” album, in 2006. Much of the Sepultura spirit on “Quadra” is a mix of everything that happened during these years. “Machine Messiah” was an important step of transition to what they have become nowadays. In addition, you know what happened after the “Quadra” release. The world collapsed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Do you think that Sepultura stopped because of that? No, they revisited old times and recent times with many guests every Wednesday, and called it SepulQuarta (Quarta means “Wednesday” in Portuguese).

For me this just highlighted how respected they are, from everything they’ve done in the past, together with all the new stuff. Every Wednesday they got together with a special guest to tell stories, talk about the history of the band and play a song with them and it has been very interesting to learn so much about them with almost four decades of existence. SepulQuarta is the album of those collaborations. It is like a live album, but keeping the original essence of the tracks. Songs like ‘Territory’ or ‘Inner Self’ respect the original versions, even though Derrick’s vocals are different from what they used originally

Songs like ‘Vandals Nest’ (which is far from being an old track) received a fresh face with Alex Skolnick (Testament) as special guest, also songs like ‘Hatred Aside’ became fantastic. By the way, I wish that Sepultura would invite one of the guests on this track ,Angélica Burns (Hatefulmurder) to collaborate more, because her vocal is one of the strongest I’ve heard recently. Considering she is singing alongside two other formidable female vocalists from the Brazilian scene she did an absolutely amazing job. Moreover, we can talk about the version of ‘Kaiowas’ that brings the sensibility of a Power Metal guitarist (Angra’s Rafael Bittencourt) alongside strong guitars from Andreas Kisser? Let me remind you that Rafael’s band Angra also released an album full of Brazilian sonority when Sepultura’s “Roots” was released in 1996.

I won’t detail all the tracks. Every single one is an absolute experience. Yes, an amazing experience that recalls the year the song was released, but with a modern sonority. I feel very connected to this album and I think I know the reason why. I have an idea of their struggles from the end of the nineties to where the band are now. For my personal life, things weren’t so different so, considering I had the band’s music as relief during all my life battles to escape the hell I was living, I feel the same when I look at their history. Maybe it is just a coincidence, who knows? It doesn’t matter now anyway, but what does matter?…My answer is “The experience”!

An Experience! Yes, this is how we can describe “SepulQuarta”. Even if this were an album of brand new material it would not be different. It may be a mix of the old and recent from the band, but with the same level of quality as if it were new tracks. It reflects decades of dedication and passion for music. It reflects a band that is always looking ahead and doesn’t stay chained to the past. Personally, this album made me travel in time and made me feel proud to have a Brazilian band like Sepultura that is brutally honest for their fans.

I’m sorry if you wanted a detailed review but I just wanted to share this experience as a longtime fan of Sepultura. I strongly recommend, you too, take the time to listen to “SepulQuarta” with an open heart, to find your emotions! Maybe, you can create your own review in your mind.

Thanks, Sepultura!

‘Mask’ feat Devin Townsend (Live SepulQuarta Sessions Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Territory (feat. David Ellefson)
02. Cut-Throat (feat. Scott Ian)
03. Sepulnation (feat. Danko Jones)
04. Inner Self (feat. Phil Rind)
05. Hatred Aside (feat. Angélica Burns, Mayara Puertas & Fernanda Lira)
06. Mask (feat. Devin Townsend)
07. Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering (feat. Emmily Barreto)
08. Vandals Nest (feat. Alex Skolnick)
09. Slave New World (feat. Matthew K. Heafy)
10. Ratamahatta” (feat. Joao Barone & Charles Gavin)
11. Apes Of God (feat. Rob Cavestany)
12. Phantom Self (feat. Mark Holcomb)
13. Slaves Of Pain (feat. Frédéric Leclercq & Marcello Pompeu)
14. Kaiowas (feat. Rafael Bittencourt)
15. Orgasmatron (feat. Phil Campbell)

LINE-UP:
Derrick Green – Vocals
Andreas Kisser – Guitars
Eloy Casagrande – Drums
Paulo Jr. – Bass

LINKS:

Sepultura Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Paradise Lost – At The Mill

At The Mill Album Cover Art

Paradise Lost – At The Mill
Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 16/07/2021
Running Time:73:35
Review by Simon Black
8/10

One thing about a new record from Paradise Lost, is that you are never quite sure what you are going to get, especially live. Let’s face it, these dour chaps from darkest Yorkshire have certainly run the gamut of styles since “Lost Paradise” first appeared on the erstwhile Peaceville label so many moons ago. That record marked the true birth of Gothic Metal, from the deeply heavy down-tuned melodies, Greg Macintosh’s blisteringly moody and flowing solos and Nick Holmes’ distinctive Death Metal style vocals. By the time I had got into them properly when “Icon” was released in 1993, they had moved up to the much larger reach of Music For Nations and Holmes vocal style had shifted to a more mainstream Metal grunt – part Hetfield, part leonine roar. This style was cemented on their magnum opus “Draconian Times”, which is still one of my top ten all-time favourite records. Then they surprised everyone by revealing that Depeche Mode was also as big an influence as Black Sabbath and as the labels got upgraded to even more commercial ones, so too did their sound – to the point where they could barely be considered Rock, let alone Metal, by some fans. By the time we got to the 21st Century, the major labels and their overt commercial influence had long gone and the band started to bring back the Metal to the point where vocals have come, full circle, to a full Death grunt.

With that honest return to their roots has come success that they haven’t seen since the 90’s, with last year’s “Obsidian” seeing them return to the top forty for the first time in a long while – and rightly so – it’s a superb record (as indeed was its predecessor “Medusa”), so I was very keen to hear live renditions of material from this latest album. I would argue that, apart from the brief Synthwave glitch in the middle of Paradise Lost’s career, their musical style has actually remained pretty consistent – it’s the stylistic approach to vocals that varies the most. With that breadth of mode available in the recorded catalogue comes an unknown quantity whenever these chaps’ step onto a stage – what style is Holmes going to give us today? The answer is nearly all of the above for this recording (with the exception of the 90’s roar) and neither does he stick to using a tone consistent with what was originally recorded on the studio version. I personally don’t mind, as such is his command of technique – whatever he chooses invariably works. That flexibility and variety is a life saver here…

This release was recorded ‘live’ from their rehearsal space in Bradford at the tail end of 2020 as a livestream, which I missed at the time. Whether you like the format or not, they have kept many bands alive and quite frankly if it’s a choice between a webcast or not, then something is eminently preferable to nothing. Their most recent release “Obsidian” donates three tracks to the set list with ‘Fall From Grace’, ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Darker Thoughts’, but I was quite surprised that only ‘Blood And Chaos’ made it from “Medusa”. In addition, for those that watched the original set, there are also three tracks that were only available previously if you purchased the VIP package included here. The vast majority of the set is 90’s favourites that have been a staple of their lives shows for a while, although despite 2020 being the 25th Anniversary of “Draconian Times”, only ‘Shadowkings’ makes it into the set.

It’s a set list that I cannot fault, but what does disappoint is the flat recording mix. Holmes and Macintosh are clear and well-presented, but the drums suffer from an excessively trebly cymbal crash and that deeply heavy, emotively visceral, Melodic Gothic rumble from Stephen Edmondson’s Bass and Aaron Aedy’s mood-manipulating Rhythm Guitar are barely audible at all. It’s like my days in a house share in the 90’s where, after a particularly lively party, our stereo was reduced to one speaker and no bass after a guest fell asleep on it and forgot to put their pint down safely first. Given that this was a controlled semi-live recording in an empty venue, more effort should have been given to this, as normally these chaps have a rich and meaty live sound to be feared and respected. Definitely a case of trouble at’ Mill…

What makes this work despite the sound challenges (which bizarrely work in the favour of the less overtly Metal tracks), is the fact that Holmes’ is absolutely on blisteringly tight form. From the brutal rendition of ‘Widow’ that opens the set, to the incredibly haunting delivery of ‘Faith Divides Us, ‘Death Unites Us’ he completely and utterly commands the listener’s attention. Even the Synthwave infused ‘So Much Is Lost’ works, due to the heart and soul he pours into it. None more so that the hauntingly beautiful closer ‘Darker Thoughts’, where his delivery echoes fatigue, raw emotion and haunted lack of hope from its acoustic and emotive intro to its booming close.

I remain slightly divided on this release even after three or four listens, as despite the teeth-grindingly frustrating mix, this also has some of the tightest musical performances I have heard from these chaps live, combined with an outstanding vocal performance from Holmes. The mix is annoying, but if you are a deep and devoted fan of this band, that’s unlikely to impede your enjoyment too much because this so far is the only chance we have had to hear live renditions from “Obsidian”, which more than makes up for engineering frustrations.

‘Darker Thoughts’ – Live At The Mill (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Widow
02. Fall From Grace
03. Blood And Chaos
04. Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us
05. Gothic
06. Shadowkings
07. One Second
08. Ghosts
09. The Enemy
10. As I Die
11. Requiem
12. No Hope In Sight
13. Embers Fire
14. Beneath Broken Earth
15. So Much Is Lost
16. Darker Thoughts

LINE-UP:
Nick Holmes – Vocals
Gregor Mackintosh – Lead Guitar
Aaron Aedy – Rhythm Guitar
Stephen Edmondson – Bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Death Angel – A Thrashumentary

Death Angel – A Thrashumentary
Directed by Tommy Jones
Nuclear Blast
2015
Review by Chris Galea
7/10

As Metal evolved beyond the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) into something rawer and more visceral, several young bands on Los Angeles’ Pacific coast embraced this embryonic sub-genre dubbed ‘Speed Metal’ or ‘Thrash Metal’. Testament, Metallica, Exodus and Forbidden were a few of the emerging crowd-pullers. Death Angel was another…notable for having within its line-up a family of cousins and brothers of Filipino descent. The members of Death Angel were young (their drummer was just 11 years old when the band recorded their seminal debut album) but they were bursting with energy and determination.

“Death Angel – A Thrashumentary” is a documentary chronicling the band’s history via interviews with its members and acquaintances, numerous live excerpts and candid footage. It takes a look into the very beginnings of Death Angel, the band’s first live performance (supporting Megadeth), their first demos (produced by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett) right up to the writing and recordings of their recent albums. And it revisits all the joys, tragedies and notable live shows in between all that.

By 2001 Death Angel had already been laid to rest for about a decade when a benefit show was put together for Chuck Billy (Testament) and Chuck Schuldiner (Death), who had both been struck by cancer. Death Angel were invited to play and the crowd reaction to their performance convinced the band to reunite. Chuck Billy later recalled: “I had to go and get cancer to get Death Angel back together. See how much I love you guys.” Of course, he said that jokingly, but it illustrates the bond and respect that Death Angel enjoyed amongst its peers…something that emerges from this documentary.

“Death Angel – A Thrashumentary” is at once hilarious, sad, intriguing and exciting. The regret of Death Angel’s band members when recounting the departure of previous members highlights their internal bond. But they’re not always so staid…the same guys prove to have a wry sense of humour, such as when their two guitarists ‘complain’ (tongue in cheek, of course) about being harassed by fans.

At over 2 hours’ duration the documentary is quite long. Sometimes it meanders….it becomes a little repetitive. Fans of the music genre and of the band, however, are bound to enjoy it. I know I did. Doubtlessly it provides quite a comprehensive insight into the life of Death Angel.

“…Thrashumentary” ends with Death Angel performing the song ‘Thrown To The Wolves’ in the Philippines and shows the band’s willingness to interact with fans. An appropriate conclusion to this very interesting documentary.

Watch the trailer here:

Death Angel’s latest Acoustic EP “Under Pressure” has just been released digitally via Nuclear Blast!

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Amon Amarth Berserker World Tour 2019 w/Arch Enemy, At The Gates & Grand Magus – Manhattan Center, New York City, USA – 12/10/2019

00 Poster

Amon Amarth Berserker World Tour 2019
w/Arch Enemy, At The Gates & Grand Magus
Manhattan Center, New York City, USA
12/10/2019
Review and Pictures by Andy Jansons

…And then came the day when Vikings took over New York. No, that is not a plot for a movie, but a real life event. An all Swedish line-up of Grand Magus, At The Gates, Arch Enemy and the mighty Amon Amarth rolled into NYC with the ‘Berserker World Tour’ North American leg. We all know that Amon Amarth can put on a show, but with these three metal beasts in support this was a spectacle for the ages!

The Manhattan Center was packed. While I wasn’t sure of the official count this was definitely a sold out show. First up on stage was Grand Magus, a heavy metal band from Stockholm who delivered a classic Heavy Metal sound that was melodic and often catchy. Their set received a warm reception from the audience, and while not as popular as the following bands they were watched by an already full room. Nobody was skipping the opening acts.

https://www.facebook.com/grandmagusofficial/

Next to play were Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal legends At The Gates. Supporting their latest album “To Drink From The Night Itself” (2018), they opened with the title song, followed by ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’ and ‘At War With Reality’ which were also the respective title songs from their previous two studio albums. To note; they played only tracks from these three albums and skipped all three of their earlier works!

Although the band were in a prolonged hiatus between 1996-2007 they sustained their fans and popularity and are still recognized as trailblazers of the ‘New Wave of Swedish Melodic Death Metal’ and still have three active founding members, vocalist Tomas Lindberg, drummer Adrian Erlandsson and bassist Jonas Björler.

At The Gates wrapped up their set with the closing track from “At War With Reality” entitled ‘The Night Eternal’ which was loud and with its melodic outro stamped an exclamation point on their powerful performance.

02 At The Gateshttps://www.facebook.com/AtTheGatesOfficial/

Next came Arch Enemy who are probably enjoy the most commercial success compared with the previous two bands, thanks to more melodic choruses and of course their Canadian vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, who is widely considered as one of the most beautiful metal female artists. She does bring a whole different dimension to this musical style, making it more attractive to a larger audience. Metal elitists might not be happy, but their success speaks for itself!

While their set was only eight songs, it was packed with metal anthems one after another; ‘The World Is Yours’, ‘War Eternal’, ‘The Eagle Flies Alone’ and ‘Nemesis’ are known worldwide. Considering that the stage was quite small, to help conceal the headliners stage set, throughout the performance Alissa was aggressive in her movements around the stage and quite a few times jumped off the drum riser. She also sung mainly with unclean vocals! Whilst Arch Enemy have been writing new material, their latest album “Will To Power” dates back to 2017.

03 Arch Enemyhttps://www.facebook.com/archenemyofficial/

Amon Amarth are frequent guests stateside, and every time their shows are spectacular, even if they are not headlining. This time, as the main act, they really brought there ‘A’ game. There was a giant Viking helmet positioned centre stage with drummer Jocke Wallgren above it and guitarists Olavi Mikkonen & Johan Söderberg, bassist Ted Lundström and vocalist Johan Hegg at the front trying to avoid random Vikings, serpents and other creatures appearing on stage. There was a lot of smoke and fire… a LOT of fire and random explosions mixed in for good measure. Why not? It was an Amon Amarth show after all!

The band who are currently supporting their latest studio album “Berserker”, which saw the light of day back in May of this year, opened with the first single from that album ‘Raven’s Flight’. From the start we entered into a loud and powerful Viking world, just don’t mention ‘Viking Metal’ to the band. Even though everything they do is about Vikings and Scandinavian mythology they prefer to be labelled Melodic Death Metal. So it was Melodic Death Metal about Vikings!!

The first creature came on stage during the track ‘Deceiver Of The Gods’, a fantastic demonic looking warrior with burning eyes and long horns. This was the title track from their 2013 album and, altogether, their setlist was pretty comprehensive including material from six of their eleven studio albums to date!

Amon Amarth completed their set with another bang and one of their most well-known songs from the earlier days ‘Twilight Of The Thunder God’. With that, an epic, visually and sonically, exceptional performance came to an end and their Viking ship sailed away from NYC harbour until the next time.

04 Amon Amarthhttps://www.facebook.com/amonamarth/

 

FURTHER LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/ManhattanCenter
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblast.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/centurymedia/
https://www.facebook.com/metalbladerecords/

 

 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Andy Jansons and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

All photos courtesy of Andy Jansons

Accept – Restless And Live (2CD Version)

Restless And Live Cover

Accept – Restless And Live (2CD Version)
Nuclear Blast
Release Date 13/01/2017
Running Time: CD1 71:16 CD2 68:15
Review by Rick Tilley
9/10

I first got into the great Accept back in late 1982 when a friend played me the ‘Breaker ‘ & ‘Restless And Wild’ albums and the first album I bought was 1983’s ‘Balls To The Wall’, which I still have on vinyl. Since then I’ve seen them live and purchased pretty much their entire back catalogue. I’m even a fan of the 1989 album ‘Eat The Heat’ which had David Reece on vocals! After a few ups and downs along the way the band decided to get back together in 2009 but Udo Dirkschneider wanted to concentrate on his successful solo band U.D.O (who I also love) so Accept had to, yet again, try and find a vocalist who could match Udo’s unique voice. In the end they chose TT Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo and the rest, as they say, is history. Since 2010, when the band thundered back into life with the stunning ‘Blood Of The Nations’ album they have gone from strength to strength. Mark is easily the best vocalist that this band have had in their ranks and although some will never see it as Accept without Udo, that’s not how I see it. After three cracking studio albums with Mark, a live release was always going to be on the cards and Accept duly released ‘Restless And Live’ back in January. I have the 2CD version to review although you can get a DVD and Blu-Ray which also include the CD!

Whereas the DVD/Blu-Ray concentrates on Accept’s 18 track set at the 2015 Bang Your Head Festival this 2CD collection is made up of 27 (YES, TWENTY SEVEN) tracks recorded throughout their 2015 World Tour and it’s absolutely fanbloodytastic! Having never seen Mark live with Accept, but knowing what a great voice he’s got, I was really looking forward to hearing how he handled the older material! If anyone still doubts his ability then listening to this is an absolute must. Quite honestly, and as much as I love Udo’s voice, this is the best I’ve heard Accept sound whether it’s new or old material. What’s better is that the newer songs such as ‘Stampede’, ‘Teutonic Terror’, ‘Stalingrad’ and many more fit seamlessly alongside classics ‘Flash Rockin’ Man’, ’Metal Heart’, ‘Son Of A Bitch’ and ‘Balls To The Wall’ as if they were written at roughly the same time.

It’s not all about the voice though because Accept wouldn’t be Accept without the guitar of Wolf Hoffmann. How underrated is this man? I did ponder that recently when reviewing his ‘Headbangers Symphony’ solo album and couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer. It’s a terrible shame because his playing, including trademark Classical breaks, plus that of new man Uwe Lulis is fantastic. It also wouldn’t really be Accept without the bass of Peter Baltes! His thumping bass lines add an extra level of heavy into the live performances. New drummer Christopher Williams must also be applauded. You really wouldn’t think there were two fairly new members up on stage! Another thing that cannot be understated is the fine production and mix from Andy Sneap. He has pretty much steered Accept since their comeback and his input is, as usual, fabulous. I can count the number of producers on one hand that add a certain gravitas to a release and Andy is one of those!

Even though Accept could regard themselves as ‘old band’, with a more than substantial back catalogue of classics, this comeback has not been about just going out and playing what people want to hear. A lot of bands do that, and whilst it’s great to see them, deep down I’d like them to still be writing new material. Accept want to stay current and the fact they have released three studio albums since 2010, and that much of the material here is culled from those three albums is testament to that fact.

Whether you are a fan or not Accept deserve your attention and gratitude. They were one of a selection of bands that brought Classic Metal kicking and screaming into the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and have influenced a huge swathe of heavier artists that, arguably, might never have existed otherwise! It’s fabulous to see them enjoying so much success in 2017 and I’m really looking forward to the next studio album because, as this package clearly shows, they are firing on all cylinders!

TRACKLISTING:
CD1
1. Stampede
2. Stalingrad
3. Hellfire
4. London Leatherboys
5. Living For Tonite
6. 200 Years
7. Demon’s Night
8. Dying Breed
9. Final Journey
10. From The Ashes We Rise
11. Losers And Winners
12. No Shelter
13. Shadow Soldiers
14. Midnight Mover

CD2
1. Starlight
2. Restless And Wild
3. Son Of A Bitch
4. Pandemic
5. Dark Side Of My Heart
6. The Curse
7. Flash Rockin’ Man
8. Bulletproof
9. Fall Of The Empire
10. Fast As A Shark
11. Metal Heart
12. Teutonic Terror
13. Balls To The Wall

LINE-UP:
Mark Tornillo – Vocals
Wolf Hoffmann – Guitars
Uwe Lulis – Guitars
Peter Baltes – Bass
Christopher Williams – Drums

LINKS:

Promo Pic1 (9)

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Tilley and Metal Gods TV. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Reproduced here with kind permission from Metal Gods TV

Avantasia – Ghostlights

Avantasia – Ghostlights
Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 29/01/2016
Running Time: 70:03
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
10/10

Having not reviewed anything since before Christmas, I needed something I could get my teeth into, and boy did this album deliver that.

Avantasia are a German supergroup/rock opera project created by Edguy vocalist Tobias Sammet and “Ghostlights” is their seventh full length album. With contributions from a variety of vocalists and musicians over the years, the project’s history can be divided into three periods, each consisting of a various number of concept albums. “Ghostlights” belongs to the third, and more recent, period along with the preceding album “The Mystery of Time.”

With a name made up from the words ‘avalon’ and ‘fanstasia’, Avantasia describes a “world beyond human imagination” and this album certainly does invoke use of the imagination as it gently pulls you in and submerges you into a whole different world.

“Ghostlights” concludes the story started on “The Mystery of Time”, a story of a protagonist who uses a group of scientists willing to find a way to align everybody’s personality so they can understand each other and make the world a better place. Says Sammet, himself, of the concept “the whole concept of this album deals with questionable ideals you have in life. It depends on which philosophy you have in life. Such ideals can be very different from each other. And it’s about distraction to find cross-fires on the way to find out what you really want from life.”

Very deep and meaningful and this album certainly has the darkest atmosphere Sammet has ever created. With songs such as “Draconian Love” and “The Haunting” conjuring up very gothic images, I had in my mind this whole album being played in front of a Victorian backdrop. A sort of Dracula-esque scene, lots of smoke, and very eerie feel.

Of course, whether Sammet intended this album to have that feel, only he would know but I absolutely loved it. Featuring the guitar talents of Bruce Kulick and Oliver Hartmann, Sammet also enlisted a long list of vocal talent, ranging from Geoff Tate, formerly of Queensryche, to Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, to the haunting vocals of Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation fame, and Bob Catley from Magnum, with lots more besides (see below for the full list of contributing musicians)

Being a big fan of rock operas, and who wouldn’t be growing up with the likes of Savatage’s Gutter Ballet and King Diamond’s Abigail, I thought this album was great from the very first song I heard. At 1 hour and 10 minutes long, possibly considered too long by some, the twelve tracks each have a totally different feel to them, and with each one I listened to, my favourite track on the album changed. My only gripe with the length of the album is that I couldn’t listen to the whole of it on my journey to and from work!

I have read a few reviews saying how sh*t they thought this album was and I can understand why some people would think that. It could be considered very cheesy, and maybe a little overpowering, but, personally, I think that all adds to the charm of the album. I love strong choruses and powerful guitar solos and the power ballad for me is very underrated but I think this album deals with them extremely well. “The Isles of Evermore” could be seen as a bit wishy-washy but Sharon den Adel’s vocals were perfect for the song and I think it was a great addition to the album as a whole.

In my opinion, and let’s face it, this review is just my opinion, there is not a bad song on the album. Some albums have a few strong tracks while the rest is filled with mediocre songs that just pass the time into the next big track. This album does not do that. Each track, although belonging to a concept album, could stand up all by itself and still be seen as a story on its own.

I loved this album and nigh on two weeks in my car is testimony to that. Not once have I got bored with it or even considered changing it. If you love rock operas, go out and buy this album. If you don’t, still go out and buy this album, and maybe after a listen or two, you will.

Tobias Sammet…..you rock (opera) god, you!!

TRACKLISTING:
1. Mystery of a Blood Red Rose
2. Let the Storm Descend Upon You
3. The Haunting
4. Seduction of Decay
5. Ghostlights
6. Draconian Love
7. Master of the Pendulum
8. Isle of Evermore
9. Babylon Vampyres
10. Lucifer
11. Unchain the Light
12. A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies

LINE-UP:
Tobias Sammet – vocals and bass
Sascha Paeth – Guitars
Miro – Keyboards & orchestration
Felix Bohnke – drums

Guest Musicians:
Let the Storm Descend Upon You – Jørn Lande, Ronnie Atkins, Robert Mason
The Haunting – Dee Snider
Seduction of Decay – Geoff Tate
Ghostlights – Michael Kiske
Draconian Love – Herbie Langhans
Master of the Pendulum – Marco Hietala
Isle of Evermore – Sharon den Adel
Babylon Vampyres – Robert Mason
Lucifer – Jørn Lande
Unchain the Light – Ronnie Atkins, Michael Kiske
A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies – Bob Catley

LINKS:

331_photo-212x300

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Reproduced here with kind permission from Metal Gods TV

Grand Magus – Sword Songs

Grand Magus – Sword Songs
Nuclear Blast
Release Date:13/05/2016
Running Time: 43:24
Review by Dawn King
8/10

Just the title of the album itself suggest that this latest offering from Swedish heavy metal band Grand Magus is going to be one of epic proportions and even after just one listen through it’s clear this is just what it is.

Recorded during the mid-winter months of 2015/2016 and produced by Nico Elgstrand, the nine track album is 35 minutes of beautifully crafted and bombastic heavy metal anthems. Released on 13th May 2016 by Nuclear Blast “Sword Songs” is the eighth studio album released by the three piece heavy metal band who hail from Stockholm in Sweden.

The band was originally formed in 1996 by former Cardinal Fang vocalist Janne “JB” Christofferson, bassist Mats “Fox” Skinner and first drummer Iggy, although he left the band in 1998 to be replaced by Frederik “Trisse” Liefvandahl, who was himself replaced by Ludwig “Ludde” Witt in 2012, so completing the present line-up.

Drawing influence from bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Rainbow, Uriah Heep, Nazareth and Manowar, the band’s sound has evolved from its groove/doom origins to the mixture of blues, hard rock, heavy metal and doom they have today.

2014’s “Triumph and Power” saw a return to form for the band and “Sword Songs” has continued in much the same vein, only better, and to say that Grand Magus have excelled themselves this time round would not be an understatement.

Coming from Sweden, one of the most infamous origins of the Vikings, their lyrics revolve around Norse Mythology, paganism, pride and power, and instead of shying away from their influences they have totally embraced them, producing true heavy metal of the finest quality and an album that would be just at home in the 1980’s as it is in the present day.

In the words of “JB” himself: “we put all of our sweat, blood and tears into this new album and I think that you can hear that. For me, “Sword Songs” is the best Grand Magus album ever! The new songs are faster and more aggressive than on “Triumph and Power” and we have included some more extreme and harder stuff. I’m convinced there are some future classics on the disc.”

And he was not wrong. The album is glorious and anthemic, dynamic and heroic, with epic choruses that will lodge themselves in your sub consciousness, causing you to hum them out loud when you least expect to. There are cracking guitar solos and great vocals from JB, killer drums from Witt and the usual gnarly bass lines and tones from Skinner throughout the album, which contains no fillers and no bad tracks, each song an anthem in its own right.

This is a threesome that is, obviously, firing on all cylinders at the moment and could easily be described as one of the best metal bands around right now.

“Sword Songs” is a must for any metal fan so go get it and lets all hail ‘Viking Metal’ – (listen to the album and you will understand that particular reference!!)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Freja’s Choice
02. Varangian
03. Forged In Iron – Crowned In Steel
04. Born For Battle (Black Dog Of Brocéliande)
05. Master Of The Land
06. Last One To Fall
07. Frost And Fire
08. Hugr
09. Everyday There’s A Battle To Fight
Bonus Tracks (digipak only)
10. In For The Kill
11. Stormbringer (Deep Purple Cover)

LINE-UP:
Janne “JB” Christofferson – vocals, guitar
Mats “Fox” Skinner – bass, vocals
Ludwig “Ludde” Witt – drums

LINKS:

grand-magus

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’ King and Metal Gods TV. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Reproduced here with kind permission from Metal Gods TV