Korpiklaani – “Live at Masters of Rock”

Korpiklaani – “Live at Masters of Rock” 2CD/DVD/Blu-Ray (Nuclear Blast)

Battle Helm Rating

For anyone who’s witness the hurdy gurdy folk rock antics of Finland’s Korpiklaani, I’m sure you’ll agree its an unforgettable experience, both sound wise having a particularly catchy knees up energy that makes it irresistible not to join in along with a strong visual aspect of having the stage filled with jovial musicians playing folk instruments and making merry. That said, there’s plenty of metal to back it at times coming across like a rampaging forest beast heh heh! Formed by guitarist / vocalist Jonne Järvelä in 1993 who was as inspired by shamanism as the music of the Sami people, Korpiklaani went through several evolutions before today’s blend of native and Finnish folk propelled by metal. Given all this, a live release has been long overdue, but thankfully this double offering doesn’t disappoint and more than makes up for the wait! Combining not one, but both sets at the Czech Republic’s premier Masters of Rock festival in 2014 and 2016, this 38 track monster is definitive of  Korpiklaani’s live show, which intentionally places more priority on musicians than pyro, along with no samples, choirs or backing tracks. Indeed, if you couldn’t cram anymore musicians onstage then in last year’s special performance Tero Hyväluoma (second fiddle) and Toni Perttula (second accordion and identical twin of Sami Perttula) joined the band onstage! With no overdubs but Järvelä instead going for a mix to actually make the listener feel they were in the crowd I have to say that listening to “Live at Masters of Rock” pretty much accomplishes that such as on ‘Man With A Plan’ and ‘Kantaiso’, with a surround sound of the instruments popping out all over the speakers and the crowd very much omnipresent on ‘Pilli On Pajusta Tehty’. With the band keeping it (just) on the rails on the hyper speed ‘Journey Man’ I did wonder if the accordions were smoking after all the polka madness although the slow but hugely passionate ‘Aemmaenhauta’ soon brought it all back to mother earth. Of the two performances I’d say the 2016 set is definitely the more natural, being a warts n all take but if you want something more polished, then the 2014 performance should more than suffice. Either way, this is a great live release that will garner Korpiklaani even more respect, if anything for the honest approach by Järvelä and his merry crew in putting their fans first before any superstar egos.

Ektomorf – “Warpath (Live And Life On The Road)”

Ektomorf – “Warpath (Live And Life On The Road)” DVD / CD (AFM Records)

Battle Helm Rating

If you like raging, socially conscious heavy groove metal then this is the one for you! Formed in the early 90s by Hungarian gypsy guitarist / vocalist Zoltán Farkas, Ektomorf’s struggles with racism and prejudice began well before the band but are etched all over its 13 studio albums produced to date. Rising to better times since beginning a lifelong working relationship with famed Danish producer Tue Madsen in 2004, Ektomorf have today carved a niche for themselves as Europe’s equivalent to Sepultura, not to mention a band that probably spends more time on the road than at home! Well respected on the festival circuit having played Europe’s biggest festivals including Wacken, With Full Force, Sziget, Rock am Ring etc and entertained the masses with their high energy angst and furthermore, won them over with their catchy, monster grooves, this 11 track DVD / CD is perfectly poised to bring the band to an even wider market. Filmed at Wacken 2016 and capturing their full set in a flagship performance, it also contains a bonus 60 min long, brutally honest behind-the-scenes documentary of that aforementioned life on the road – definitely no private jets n jacuzzis ha ha! With a mixture of new material and their classics like ‘Fuck You All’, ‘Outcast’ and ‘I Know Them’ expect fearsome but catchy precision drum beats, ballsy bass, rhyming n raging lyrics and most of all, massive power grooves that when rolled together get you seriously going along with the mental crowd! Zoltán Farkas himself has come a long way, both technically with some impressive exotic soloing and masterfully working the crowd thanks to all the years of touring, while leading the band as its sole founder in every aspect. A true story of success from struggle by a guy who really has lived it – and continues to do so in his ever striving band.

Serious Black – “Magic”

Serious Black – “Magic” (AFM Records)

Battle Helm Rating

With a seriously stellar line up comprising of members of Firewind, Rhapsody, Tad Morose, Edenbridge, Visions of Atlantis and Dreamscape, this melodic power metal band return with their 3rd release, a concept album based on well, you guessed it – magic! Created by vocalist Urban Breed, the story introduces us to Mr. Nightmist, a figure who through generations, is shrouded in mystique and legend. As such, the intention is that the 14 tracks take the listener on a journey through a world of mystery. Well, as an oldster I’m not great on imagining things these days, but my response to class A rock and metal is still there without a doubt. Indeed, not withstanding the concept, the music is anything but abstract – let alone boring. While some of the songs like ‘Serious Black Magic’ do have a whiff of the theatrical, there’s no doubting the sheer rock power inherent in the material, alongside of which glide some of the most beautiful n catchy metallic melodies like on ‘Just Kill Me’ courtesy of twin guitarists Bob Katsionis and Dominik Sebastian, all the while backed by Alex Holzwarth’s galloping drums especially on the thundering ‘Burn! Witches Burn!’!!! Along with Jan Vacik’s keyboards, which for the most part play a less prominent role and tend to be confined to the periphery of the guitar favoring mix, on the racing but romantic ‘The Witch Of Caldwell Town’ with its bombastic rhythms it does get a deserved role in adding even more melody as well as atmospherics that certainly don’t go unnoticed! Indeed, the keyboards actually take the lead on the highly catchy melodic rocker ‘Lone Gunman Rule’ and on the serene closer ‘One Final Song’ they form one part of the duet along with Urban Breed’s vocals to bring a rousing climatic finish to what is yet another masterful release from this seriously classy band – highly recommended!

Attic – “Sanctimonious”

Attic – “Sanctimonious” (Ván Records)

Battle Helm Rating

Oh wow, if you like early Mercyful Fate a la “Melissa” then Attic are the band for you! Complete with the helium high wailing vocals of Meister Cagliostro that even King Diamond would be casting an envious eye over, the twin guitar work of Katte n Rob is easily on par with Denner n Shermann, while also owing more than a nod to Jon Nodtveidt’s inspirational style of relentless intricate weaving of massive pure heavy metal melodies with pure heavy metal power – awesome! Burning the ritualistic fire since 2011, Attic’s debut “The Invocation” won them Album Of The Month by Germany’s Rock Hard magazine and a follow up slot at its namesake festival, not to mention a slew of performances at Keep It True and Party San and gigs throughout Germany, Benelux and Scandinavia. Now comes the follow up and the band have gone for an ambitious concept album whose haunting and occult tale is told through the 13 tracks here from ‘A Serpent In The Pulpit’ to ‘Dark Hosanna’ and the epic closer ‘There Is No God’. Thanks to the band’s superior musicianship and quality song writing it’s all pulled off masterfully, along with touches of musty church organs and ghostly harmonies to complete the natural, stripped down sound. While many choose to cast doubt on the ‘true’ metal resurrection, I thought this album was an absolute delight in every aspect especially for old school heavy metal fans for whom I have no reservations in recommending this to!

SABATON – ‘World of Tanks’ Primo Victoria!!!

SABATON and the massively popular MMO game World of Tanks have collided to forge a new genre: Tank Metal. The band’s love of history, which blasts through in their music, reviving dramatic, historical events made them a perfect match for the historical tank warfare game developed by Wargaming. Both communities have a love of history and are proud that their players are bursting with musical creativity and passion. SABATON collaborated with World of Tanks to put a new spin on the band’s classic track ‘Primo Victoria’. The iconic tune is taken from the studio album released in 2005, of the same name. Continue reading

ARKONA – Serbia

Russia’s finest Pagan metal export ARKONA are finally back and present a brand new music video for the track ‘Serbia’! Taken from their successful 2014- release ‘Yav’ this new video features cuts from a debut work of serbian movie director Živojin Pavlovi? (1933-1998) «Triptih o materiji i smrti» (1960). Watch ARKONA’s brand new video right HERE! Continue reading

SAMAEL – Red Planet

SAMAEL have returned on their 30th band anniversary with heavy ammunition wallowing on the darkest fronts. Their highly anticipated album “Hegemony” will be released on October 13, 2017 via Napalm Records.These Swiss black metal pioneers are now ready to unveil a brand new track and lyric video off of their upcoming effort! Continue reading