Elvenking – “Era”

Elvenking – “Era” (AFM Records)

Elvenking are an Italian power metal band who infuse their sound with heaps of folk dance music. Along with melodic speed come fiddles, violins and whistles on the likes of ‘Poor Little Baroness’, ‘Chronicle Of A Frozen Era’ and ‘Through Wolf’s Eyes’, although Damna’s vocals are somewhat different, being more straight up rock n raw style, giving some of their ballads an almost AORish feel. The band also retain enough heavy metal influences in there too especially in the dual guitar melody breaks indicating some Maiden influences. Elvenking have been through various challenges in their 15 year career but I do think there is worth in their folk power metal, which is played well and passion – I guess my only gripe is having gone thru all that effort, the songs fall short of their epic potential almost teasing at being such, but never quite getting there in favour of a more rockier approach. Continue reading

Oslo Ess – “Verden På Nakken, Venner I Ryggen”

Oslo Ess – “Verden På Nakken, Venner I Ryggen” (Indie Recordings)

If you thought that Norway only held out for Black Metal, then prepare yourselves for the Norsk punk rock of Oslo Ess! Mixing Rancid with The Clash and a hint of Bruce Springsteen, Oslo Ess have brought it home with heaps of heart pounding melody, teenage angst and fiery punk rock on this unbelievably catchy sophomore album! Initially formed as a band among friends, there’s also a down to earth, coming of age innocence that also touches my heart on catchy songs like ‘God Morgen’, ‘Caroline’ and ‘Tøffe Gutter’ that have seen Oslo Ess soar from their debut hitting the Top 40, being nominated for a Norwegian Grammy, and being the most booked band in 2011 – man, these guys are on a roll! Deffo one for the moment, this album captures the heart felt passions and euphoria that only come once in a life from losing your virginity to winning your first fight – and being on the road with your own rock band – yeah! Continue reading

Giants – “These Are The Days”

Giants – “These Are The Days” (www.facebook.com/giantsuk)

‘..Are you fucking joking, cos you’re being serio-us..’ – oh yeah, I’m down with this shit served up steamin from Essex-core crew Giants. Although closer to Sarf End than Coney Island, these guys play a stonking 80s old school hardcore where heaps of adolescent energy made up for simplicity with raucous blistering vocals, catchy punk melodies and wailing wall choruses that soaked sweat into the likes of CBGB’s all those years ago. Giants are somewhat more sophisticated though, engaging some big sound production and injecting some emo core and even mello death hints that work a treat on songs like ‘Won’t Be Told’, ‘Bottled Up’ and ‘Another Day, Another Year’. Luvly Jubbly Continue reading

Held By Horses – “In History”

Held By Horses – “In History” EP (www.facebook.com/heldbyhorses)

Wow, these guys (and one plucky lass) haven’t been together for even 2 years and they’re already creating quite a stir with songs like ‘The Last Word’ (featuring Never Means Maybe’s Renz Byrne)! Although rock in their roots, Held By Horses actually have a fair amount of gallop especially in their guitar work which also blends in some very cool alternate and emo core melodies like on ‘Down And Out’, leaving the listener with something to stay in their minds. Vocalist Harriet Reynolds also has the power, but opts wisely to use it thriftily, and instead concentrate on deepening her sultry femme vocals to bring real substance to songs like ‘Little Water’, which have enough emo passion to tame a wild stallion. Continue reading

Korn – “Live At The Hollywood Palladium”

Korn – “Live At The Hollywood Palladium” CD/DVD (AFM Records)

I’m not a big fan of the nu metal genre but I think it would be reasonable to say that Korn pioneered that style back in the early 90s. Now, almost 20 years on, this live album shows Korn revolutionizing yet another sound, that of metal with dub and drum n bass. From what I can hear, the first seven songs like the Grammy nominated ‘Kill Mercy Within’ are from their last award winning album, “The Path Of Totality” that saw the band collaborate with a number of electronic producers like Shrillex and Datsik, and this is reflected in this live set, with each collaborator taking his turn onstage to spin out his respective track. Definitely not your usual show! However, for those of us who haven’t yet made the leap of faith, Korn also offer their usual pleasing hits – judging by the crowd’s roaring response – like ‘Freak On A Leash’ along with some early and less frequently played songs like ‘Predictable’. With the crowd groovin’ Jonathan Davis pushes out the envelope further with an ambitious cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ and a 1 minute rendition of Metallica’s ‘One’ – both slapped either side of ‘Shoots And Ladders’ – before closing with their first single ‘Blind’. You may not have been there, but by all accounts this musta been a kick ass show! Continue reading

Liv Kristine – “Libertine”

Liv Kristine – “Libertine” (Napalm Records)

Norway’s Liv Kristine is probably better known to most people as the vocalist of Leave’s Eyes and the former vocalist of Theater Of Tragedy. However, this solo release is something of a departure from both those bands, being more modern rock despite being released on a metal label like Napalm. I guess a clue to this solo material came from Liv’s cover of Kate Bush’s ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’, which she incidentally does fine justice to, and in a way tracks like ‘Meet Me In The Red Sky’ and ‘Wait For The Rain’ seem to also follow in succession, whilst utilizing elements from her past like light electronics, dual male harmonies and soft gothic rock to enhance her material still further. Like Bush, whose eclectic style saw her break the boundaries of rock conventionality, Kristine is also attempting to do the same here with the aptly titled “Libertine” which offers us unmitigated pleasure for those open enough to receive it. Continue reading

Freitod – “Regenjahre”

Freitod – “Regenjahre” (Van Records)

Wow – like, if you crossed Katatonia with Emperor, the result could be Germany’s Freitod! Created by the sullen duo of R. Seyferth on Gruff Vocals/Drums and G. Eisenlauer on Clean Vocals/Guitars/Bass, Freitod takes trademark black metal riffing and raw vocals and runs it thru a melodic melancholic mix to produce a temperate but no less atmospherically powerful sound. While black metal relies on its evilness and intensity, Freitod concentrate on the inner soul and especially human emotions such as sadness, depression and ultimately, as the band name suggests, suicide. Ironically, songs like ‘Der Traumsturm’, ‘Nichtssagend’ and ‘Wenn Alles Zerbricht’ aren’t in themselves actually bleak, but the way they build within you thanks to the powerful vocals and harmonies is something else – quite a tribute if I might say so to Freitod’s powerful songwriting, that truly frees the spirit from within! Continue reading

Three Hour Ceasefire – “Cry Havoc”

Three Hour Ceasefire – “Cry Havoc” (Savour Your Scene Records)

Get the feckin’ riot squad!! Hailing from Stab City (i.e. Limerick) in Ireland, THC are a juggernaut of a noise core band set to plant a metallic shamrock right in your goddamn skull! Tortured, glass in throat screaming ‘vokills’ courtesy of DC set the tone for the pummeling of KC’s brutal drumming and AL’s booming bass barrage. But it’s MM’s thick as Guinness guitarwork that proves that all you need is one heavy fucker shredding to bring it all home – and this guy does so unrelentingly on songs like ‘Trench Knife’, ‘Fall Under Foot’ and ‘Trial Of Wounds’. Completely no holds barred, “Cry Havoc” does exactly what it sez on the tin of this veritable Irish blast bomb! Continue reading

Kyshera – “Made In China”

Kyshera – “Made In China” (www.kyshera.com)

LOL – if this was manufactured in China, it would truly be the end of the world! Kyshera actually come from Wales of all places but play some of the most off the wall fusion rock that owes more to the 70s prog and psychedelic inspirations of Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa and even David Bowie, but all wrapped up in a funky, eclectic modern groove also incorporating rap and grunge like elements! With an equally explosive live show and blatant political lyrics, Kyshera’s desire to escape the norm is reflected in their drive towards the undefinable on songs like ‘Mannequins’, ‘The Game’ and ‘Messiah Mask’ featuring space age keyboard sounds, slapping bass and radio mike vocals all cemented together by some equally diverse guitar work. For a trio, Kyshera certainly make a big sound, not just in depth but also in breadth and whilst genre purists may dismiss the talents of these young upstarts, I feel that “Made In China” has what it takes to bring modern prog to the masses. Continue reading

Grand Alchemist – “Disgusting Hedonism”

Grand Alchemist – “Disgusting Hedonism” (Lydfella Records)

With such a catchy band name I’m surprised these guys aren’t known better outside of their native Norway, given they’ve been going since the mid 90s, and even more so when listening to their amazing symphonic black metal! With elements of Emperor, Arcturus and early Children of Bodom, there is clearly a lot going on in this complex band and it’s all brought to life by the brilliant musicianship of Grand Alchemist. Listening to superb songs like ‘Synthetic Physical Intercourse’, ‘Deserted Apocalyptic Cities’, and ‘Touching The Course Of My Muse’ the passion is abundant in the dark drawling vocals, passionate folk harmonies, black / prog riffs, delicate middle eastern melodies, goth keyboard atmospherics, heaps of heavy technical drumming – and so much more! Thoroughly pleasurable, this is an album that doesn’t hold back in giving it all to you!!! Continue reading