Dichotomy – “Paradigms”

Dichotomy – “Paradigms” (www.facebook.com/dichotomyireland)

Dichotomy are another new Irish band who form part of the Emerald Isle’s burgeoning scene. Playing technical death metal the way it was purveyed by final hour Death along with hints of Necrophagist and even At The Gates, Dichotomy put it out big time on songs like ‘The Sentient Oppressed’, ‘All Seeing Eye’ and ‘Covenant Of The Forsworn’. From Kev O’Connor’s raw if not too guttural vocals to Rats’s whirring guitars tempered by Andrew Kealy’s flowing melodies and the chopping rhythms of Dave Fay (drums) and new boy Neil Coburn on bass, Dichotomy produce an intense if not inaccessible sound that fills a much needed gap in the Irish scene. Continue reading

Iwrestledabearonce – “Late For Nothing”

Iwrestledabearonce – “Late For Nothing” (Century Media)

When weirdos become normal……these guys used to be one of those experimental metal bands fronted by Krysta Cameron’s amazing devil-meets-a-saint vocals and the band’s equally off the wall style mixing frenicity with harmony. Two albums later and they had certainly made their mark in every house with a pool but following the soon to be fated “Ruining It for Everybody” Krysta got pregnant. Step in Canadian Courtney LaPlante who to her credit continues the screamo in fine succession to Cameron, although I tend to feel she is a little flat in her more tender moments compared to her predecessor. Still, it may be hardly noticeable amidst the continuing chaos of warbling math metal riffs, twisting melodies and frantic rhythms on the likes of ‘Letters To Stallone’, ‘I’d Buy That For A Dollar’ and the seriously tongue in cheek ‘Carnage Asada’ featuring Steve Vai – yeah, Steve fuckin Vai! “Late For Nothing” is definitely the most professional record Iwrestledabearonce have put out, with less weirdness – definitely no black metal as Steve Bradley once promised / threatened – but also some of their strongest melodic moments – so if you’re still, uh, trying to work out Iwrestledabearonce then default to ‘whatevercore’! Continue reading

Vorna – “Ajastaika”

Vorna – “Ajastaika” (Inverse Records)

Named after a legendary Finnish hero, Vorna’s music is no less epic mixing pagan metal with strong folk melodies! Formed by childhood friends and guitarists Arttu Järvisalo and Henri Lammintausta, the band grew organically as more school friends joined and despite the intervention of military service, the dream of Vorna was hard to kill (rather like it’s namesake warrior)and several years on materializes this debut. Musically, it’s a similar affair with the blend of the two styles very naturally mixing Vesa Salovaara’s clean / harsh vocals (a mixture of growls and rasps) with powerful dark melodies and even more fluid keyboards that combine folk harmonies and atmospherics. With acoustics, accordions and a deep, crunching bass rounding off rich compositions like ‘Harhan liekki’, ‘Ikuiseen iltaan’ and ‘Lehväin varjoon’, these Finns possess epic power in bunches, steeped in heritage and cultural passion, the strength of which could have only come from the man mountain known as Vorna. Continue reading

In Silentio Noctis – “Disenchant The Hypocrites”

In Silentio Noctis – “Disenchant The Hypocrites” EP (My Kingdom Music)

lol there might be something in the title of this album as this Finnish symphonic black metal band have had some flak in the past for mixing these two styles and furthermore, comparisons of female vocalist Armi Päivinen to Tarja Turunen! Well the latter may certainly be true as Armi is indeed a classically trained soprano vocalist but the former has little foundation in my opinion as the mix works a treat. Firstly, songs like ‘The Pit’ and ‘Haunted’ are not out and out black metal in either their tempo or even in their riffs – no doubt they are dark, but we’re not talking any great homage to Satan by any means. Secondly, the symphonic melodies are Armi’s aforementioned angelic pipes which provide a perfectly complementary if opposing sound that In Silentio Noctis have crafted well enough to mesh together. This may not satisfy the purists but this EP has a wide appeal from femme rock fans to goth metallers to symphonists and as such one should not be hypocritical in its critique? Continue reading

Raving Season – “Amnio”

Raving Season – “Amnio” (My Kingdom Music)

Wow, dreamy Italian doom death with not one chick on vocals but two – one angelic and the other one a growler lol! With heavy melancholic riffs a la Anathema accompanied by some intelligent use of atmospheric keyboards that occasionally raise the tempo, Raving Season have some interesting potential. It’s taken them 2 years to craft “Amnio” and whilst songs like ‘Silent Lake’, ‘Dusk Dance’ and ‘My Darkest Season’ certainly contain the passion of gothic doom, sadly I don’t think Frederica’s growls are intense enough as they are still somewhat feminine. However, I’m not altogether certain a male could pull this off either as I really don’t think the contrasting vocals are even needed given Judith’s enchanting voice is more than sufficient enough to carry the band through. Still, the music itself is definitely worth checking out for its emo factor alone given its careful composing and depressive tones, thus making Raving Season of worthy note? Continue reading

Powerwolf – “Preachers Of The Night”

Powerwolf – “Preachers Of The Night” (Napalm Records)

The werewolves of Transylvania are back! I love these guys from their camp look to their catchy singalong songs and this pretty much remains the same for this 5th studio album although there has been a big leap in the musicianship stakes: when the opening tracks came on I actually thought Attila Dorn had been replaced such was a soulfulness of his voice! Furthermore, I couldn’t believe the speed of some of the material, definitely racy so those wolf fans out there who like to run will love this album. Still, as tracks like ‘Cardinal Sin’, ‘In The Name Of God’ and the tongue in cheek ‘Coleus Sanctus’ (translated as holy scrotum lol) came belting out it was clear that the band have lost none of their brazen cheek and witticism against all things religious, camped to max by Dorn’s operatic vocals, bombastic choir harmonies and rhyming lyrics that could give Benny Hill a belly full! Already an established act on the European festival circuit and now with a headlining tour of Russia under their belts (hence their tribute track to the Nightwatch movie in ‘Nochnoi Dozor’) these loveable lycanthropes continue to impress with gusto and laughter. Continue reading

Deadlock – “The Arsonist”

Deadlock – “The Arsonist” (Napalm Records)

Probably the most beautiful band in the world. Well, that’s probably how some people might describe the pop metal (or disco death lol – Ed) of Bavaria’s Deadlock. Formed in the late 90s as a band playing death metal, their subsequent evolutions introduced increasing melody and finally a dual female vocalist in Sabine Scherer who also brought in electro and pop harmonies. Today they blend in harsh male vocals and even djent beats making for one of the most diverse bands around so much so that they recently lost their bassist and long time vocalist / lyricist Joe Prem. Showing their resilience, Deadlock have bounced back successfully with this 6th album, with little change to their overall sound. With former bassist John Gahlert now handling harsh vocals, Sabine – who was initially brought in as a guest vocalist – is now very much to the fore with her contrasting pop style and powerful melodies amidst the thrashing of the rest of the band. But all it works a treat on songs like ‘Dead City Sleepers’ and ‘As We Come Undone’ which show how effective this blend can be, and just to show their confidence, they easily take on Bronski Beat’s ‘Small Town Boy’, giving it some chick balls n man sweat that Jimmy Somerville could only dream of lol! Continue reading

Bonafide – “Messin’ In Wales – Live”

Bonafide – “Messin’ In Wales – Live” DVD (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)

Recorded at Hard Rock Hell last year on their Ultimate Rebel Tour, Bonafide are a Swedish hard rock band with a sweet penchant for the mighty AC/DC. They were formed when ironically Australia’s own AC/DC succession band Airborne were just breaking big and the resemblance is clear. From front man Pontus Snibb’s Bon Scott with a hint of Rod Stewart vocals to the basic one two blues based hard rock riffs and accompanying rhythms, Bonafide aren’t gonna blow you away with speed, fire or death but just straight up rock to energize you right to your roots! Visually Snibb seems to resemble The Almighty’s Ricky Warwick resplendent in tatts, denim and Gibson SG while bassist Martin Ekelund opts for the Hanoi Rocks glam wear and lead guitarist Mikael Fässberg looks like he could be the band’s manager lol. With scantily clad fire breathing ladies adding animation to the backdrop, Bonafide certainly get a few heads nodding and boots stomping to songs like ”Butter You Up’, ‘Hard Living Man’ and the anthemic ‘Fill Your Head With Rock’. Certainly no frills, I actually think they shoulda called this “No Messin’ In Wales” cos that’s just what you get at a Bonafide show. Continue reading

Immension – “The Enemy Within”

Immension – “The Enemy Within” EP (www.facebook.com/immension)

Hot on their debut release comes this follow up from steel city metallers Immension. These guys musta obviously read my last review, cos they’ve done a complete 180 and piled on the Metallica a plenty compared to the heavy In Flames influences the last time! Truth be told the Metallica influences have always been there and whilst there isn’t anything remarkable about what Immension do, they are good at their own brand of modern metal. Heavy thrash riffola and hard rhythms tempered by Jake Kearsley’s higher-than-Hetfield vocals and Tim Dolan’s sensible use of melodies keep the faith in songs like ‘Forever’, ‘All That Remains’ and ‘In The Dead Of Winter’, notching up even more support for this ascending metal combo! Continue reading

Dark Stares – “Octopon”

Dark Stares – “Octopon” EP (www.facebook.com/DarkStares)

Despite being formed in the conservative wilds of the English countryside, these guys have a wild trippy groove that would set any field on fire! From Miles Kristian Howell’s distant almost radio miked vocals to the fuzzyish stoner like riffs that also owe more than a cheeky wink to the likes of The Rolling Stones and Bowie, these guys definitely have a dark side to their songs like ‘Bad Machine’, ‘Steal Your Girl’ and ‘Blackfyre’. Formed only in 2011, Dark Stares have gone from strength to strength playing the 100 Club and supporting bands ranging from Enter Shikari to The Darkness and even the Fun Loving Criminals. With their widely appealing yet catchy material, therein lies the hook of Dark Stares in their ability to reach out into many souls, and draw the worthy into their world of dark wonder. Continue reading