MUNRUTHEL “CREEDAMAGE”

MUNRUTHEL
“CREEDamage”
(Svarga)
It feels like just yesterday that the re-release of an earlier Munruthel album dropped in on me. But as they say; “you better strike while the iron is hot”. So without further ado I present to you a brand spanking new Munruthel album. I really liked the re-released album. In spirit it reminded me of Master’s Hammer. I hope that this new one will carry that same spirit, perhaps a bit farther too. I get a very strong battle spirit/readiness when I listen to this. This to my ears is the build up to that big final battle. This is the part where you gather all your thoughts, say your farewells and then head out into battle not knowing if you ever will return. I get all misty eyed when I listen to this album. It is that emotional. It is that grand. It is that final battle call. There is no return once embraced by this album. This is extreme metal at its most beautiful. Anders Ekdahl

PALE DIVINE “Painted Windows Black “

PALE DIVINE
“Painted Windows Black
(Shadow Kingdom)
I’m a huge sucker for doom metal. Perhaps even more so for the kind of epic doom that Candlemass has come to represent but I can also appreciate the doom metal of bands like Trouble, Revelation, Dream Death etc. The more rootsy, earthy kind doom that has more in common with early Black Sabbath with Ozzy than the Heaven and Hell- Dio era. Pale Divine does bring up those kinds of early Sabbath vibes. More 70s than 10s so to speak. I don’t know if this is that much doom now that I think of it. Perhaps more Britain in the 80s and NWOBHM in spirit than anything else. Any which way this is some really cool stuff. I had very little hopes for anything good but this turned out to be so much better than I had anticipated. There is an epic side to this that I can appreciate all the way to my grave. This I will keep returning to for a long time. Anders Ekdahl

VANIR “Onwards To Battle”

VANIR
“Onwards Into Battle”
(Mighty Music)
As chair is a chair is a chair no matter what you call it. You can call your metal Viking, pagan, heathen, folk but to me it still ends up sounding like black metal with the added instrument here and there. Danish Vanir have that whole Viking metal aura to them. They at least dress the part. If the music matches the clothes this might very well be as close to Valhalla as you’ll ever get. If you like Amon Amarth on the death metal side of Viking metal then you’ll find this as entertaining on the black metal side of things. There is an epic into battle side to the music that tell tales of brave men going into war. How historical correct that is is not up to me to decide. I only care for if the music moves me. And this does just that. There is a charm to this that is hard to resist. So if you like bands like Arkona, Einherjer or Folkearth you might as well like this. I know that I do. Anders Ekdahl

Angra – “Best Reached Horizons”

Angra – “Best Reached Horizons” 2CD (Steamhammer / SPV)

Angra are probably Brazil’s best known power metal band and have been going for the best part of two decades. Funnily enough in all that time this is their first ever compilation which speaks bounds about their recording output! Comprising 20 tracks handpicked by the band’s two guitarists, Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt, “Best Reached Horizons” brilliantly showcases the awesome talent of this band – and in particular the two distinct eras in their history as reflected by the vocal talents of firstly Andre Matos and later Edu Falaschi. Although without any frills (i.e. remastering), songs like ‘Evil Warning’ and ‘Spread Your Fire’ show the breadth of Angra’s influence besides metal, ranging from prog to neo classical to traditional Brazilian music, all played with breathtaking virtuosity! If that wasn’t enough, they boldly offer a cover of Zepp’s ‘Kashmir’ and whilst yet to touch the godlike status of Plant & Page, their ascendancy is beyond question!

Mob Rules – “Cannibal Nation”

Mob Rules – “Cannibal Nation” (AFM Records)

Despite having such an aggressive name, Germany’s Mob Rules are surprisingly melodic! They’ve been going since the mid 90s and having seen them at festivals I swear they were more power metal then? However, “Cannibal Nation” is more melodic prog metalized rock – from Klaus Dirks’s throat strained rock out vox to Jan Christian Halfbrodt’s hammond keyboards and the smooth, harmonious guitars of Matthias Mineur and Sven Lüdke. Still, the uplifting tempo and epic atmosphere of songs like ‘Lost’, ‘Ice & Fire’ (inspired by the story of the abducted Colombian politician Íngrid Betancourt) and ‘Scream For The Sun’ (lyrically dealing with the first ascent of Mount Everest) are truly breathtaking, reflecting both mental poignancy and musical potency. It’s actually pretty shocking given how good these guys sound that they aren’t superstars – although they are hailed globally as a cult band – so more power to them man, they really are awesome so what’s in a name?

The HAARP Machine – “Disclosure”

The HAARP Machine – “Disclosure” (Sumerian Records)

Holy crap, like a whirling dervish this UK extreme prog metal band will leave your head in tatters – not unlike their namesake mind control weapon! These guys seem to court controversy, complete with a Muslim guitarist who only a year ago saw the band denied entry to the US!! With matching lyrics addressing many of today’s socio political issues The HAARP Machine’s music is equally complex, diverse and certainly lush in using Asian instruments from sitars to santoors and gongs! Centered around the technically dextrous guitar work of Al Mu’min and Michael Semesky’s alternating soulful / growls songs like ‘Lower The Populace’, ‘From Vanity To Utility’ and ‘Machine Over’ drive into you amidst blast beats, fretboard warbling wizardry and exotic eastern melodies. These guys are clearly on a mission to awaken the masses from their slumber – and “Disclosure” is definitely hard to ignore!!

Hundred Days – “Mission Exodus”

Hundred Days – “Mission Exodus” (Rogue Rock Records)

Blazing hard rock from Britain! Hailing from the cider capital of the world (i.e. Somerset – also famous for hosting Glastonbury) and named after the hundred days in the Napoleonic Wars, I’m highly proud to say these Brits stand as tall as their redcoat ancestors all those centuries ago. This is full blooded, sweaty man’s music the way it should be played – with fiery passion, loving soul and style befitting a country gentleman naturally! Yanked out rock riffs as thick as Cheddar cheese, raw rock vocals that could fell a knight and scrumpy jack thumping drums kick it on songs like ‘Suicide Joe’ or ‘Whatever Happened To You’ and stomp all over Hughie Lewis’s ‘Power Of Love’ lol! Best of all, they have a simple yet original sound beholden to none although hints of Alter Bridge, AC/DC, and Zepp are there but what more could you ask for – it’s man hugs all around mate.

Forgotten Tomb – “…And Don’t Deliver Us From Evil…”

Forgotten Tomb – “…And Don’t Deliver Us From Evil…” (Agonia Records)

With 12 years experience and no less than 6 albums under their (bullet) belts, Forgotten Tomb are probably one of Italy’s best known black / death bands. They play a very catchy style reminiscent of Celtic Frost mixed in with black metal thrashing but also a strong rock groove – definitely not the norm but it certainly works on cool songs like ‘Let’s Torture Each Other’, ‘Love Me Like You’d Love The Death’ and ‘Nullifying Tomorrow’! Death grunt vocals mix with clanging metallic guitars amidst thick almost doom like rock riffs showing a confident wit from a band clearly at ease with their delivery while giving the impression of not being self styled egomaniacs – undoubtedly stemming from surviving near-death car accidents and hospitalizations (stay off those Ferraris boys – Ed!) lol.

Dead Harts – “Born Into Rags To Die No Richer”

Dead Harts – “Born Into Rags To Die No Richer” (Transcend Music)

Dare I say have a nice day…as romantic as dining in a steelworks, Sheffield’s Dead Harts are certainly as rough n ready as their run down city. This is ugly, primitive hardcore from the raw, feedback drenched guitars to the brooding bass and most of all, Matthew Baxendale’s (oo’er sounds a bit posh lol – Ed) base throat destroyed ‘vocals’. Yeah, there are emocore melodies on songs like ‘All Washed Up’, ‘Headhunter’ and ‘Caesar’ but for the most part they are pit fighting assaults with heaps of aggression: when you go down you know this feral mob will kick you in. Mix early Agnostic Front with Norma Jean and Dead Harts is probably what you’d get on a bad day. But amazingly these thugs have already played at Download (!), with no less than a European and even Russian tours scheduled next year – man, I know these are hard times but are people really that pissed off?

ENCHANTYA

Portuguese ENCHANTYA has quickly turned into a new favourite for me. There is something to their metal that I can’t resist. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

It’s no secret by now that I love the meaning words take on when used in a band name. Could you please explain the choice of band name?
-Greetings! You’re the first person to ask me that! EnChanTya comes from the verb “to enchant” and then you have an A finishing the band’s name because in Portuguese most feminine words end with an A. When I started this band it was as my solo project and I wanted this to somehow “enchant” people who liked it. So I came up with this name.

What do you think Enchantya can bring to the metal scene that isn’t already there?
-I know we’ve been compared to Nightwish, Epica and Within Temptation. Those are great bands that we admire, but EnChanTya has been so far different in two things, I think. We have a strong progressive vein in our songs and you can notice that not only in the rhythms but also in the melodical lines and scales. And in our band I sing both opera/ classical vocalizations and the growlings. For me these are two things that give “personality” to our band.

When you decide on starting a new band how hard is it to find the right people to work with?
-It depends on your effort in that search but also luck. I was lucky when I started the band to find the musicians at that time, and we as band were also fortunate to find the musicians who participated in our album, and more recently Bruno Prates, our new guitarist. In our case we look for good musicians but they also have to be great in other areas, such as making videos, editing photos, so on. It’s important to work well in the music department but also when you’re not rehearsing and when you need to promote the band.

What is it like to be a metal band in Portugal? To me it doesn’t seem like too many bands make it out of Portugal?
-It’s not easy, I must say. The only band I think that can make of this a full time job is Moonspell. But they have worked real hard to be where they are now. The most difficult part must be leaving your day job and give that leap of faith into the music business. I hope that it will happen to EnChanTya, we are very committed into making our band go into a nice place.

What kind of metal pedigree is there in Portugal? I can’t seem to remember too many older bands (70s and 80s hardrock/heavy metal).
-We have two amazing bands with whom we’re going to share the stage on this Saturday, the 6th of October, Tarantula and Alkateya. There’s also Iberia, Moonspell and also my band Black Widows (an all female band, the first in Portugal). Most of these bands began in late 80s, early 90s. Pure Heavy Metal indeed!

What does it mean to be on a label like Massacre? What do you think they can do for the band?
-We feel honored and also a tremendous responsibility, now it’s time to definitely show who we are through our music. I think Massacre is doing a really nice job, I see EnChanTya in a lot of metal sites and blogs, and we receive many interviews and reviews. Besides that, is nice to feel that they also give us guidance and counseling. So far it’s been amazing!

What mistakes will you not do this time around? What did you learn from your previous band?
-Well, definitely if you have a band make sure you have good musicians but above all great human beings in your band. Somehow in the process you might find yourself in a bus hours and hours with those guys and it’d be better if you get along and share those experiences together, rather than counting the days to come back home.

How much cooperation is there between bands in Portugal? Do you share war stories? And help each other out?
-To be honest here, and I will give you my personal point of view I am always very happy and proud each time I see a Portuguese band being successful. Of course that there are people here, as in other countries, that envy success but I truly don’t know much about who they are. I like to think that there is a nice Portuguese brotherhood in metal, I know that we have also great bands with whom we’ve shared stage and were amazing to us. So I prefer to pay attention to those bands, so I cannot truly tell much about war stories or so…

I gotta say that Portugal is a tabula rasa to me. What kind of scene is there for live music? Can you do a national tour?
-There are some great qualified venues to play live music mostly in Lisbon, Almada and Oporto. We can certainly do a nacional tour in festivals and in those venues. People here like to show when they like bands, we have a very expressive audience in Portugal.

What would you like to see in the future for Enchantya?
-We want to promote “Dark Rising” as much as we can, shoot a video clip and do a lot of concerts in Portugal and also in other countries. We’re already working on these things. For the future we want as any other band, success, people appreciating our music, and to record another album because we’re already writing songs and can’t wait till we record them too.