SCARRED “Gaia – Medea”

SCARRED
”Gaia – Medea”
(Klonosphere)
I have very few scars and none that has SCARRED me for life. I have no idea what it is like to carry that burden with you for the rest of your life. The band SCARRED might not leave me bleeding but I do hope that they’ll scratch the surface and not bounce off like a water drop. Luxembourg is by far a big place. Yet we’ve seen some cool metal acts come from that tiny country. SCARRED is death metal. That is a fact stated with all possible clarity. It is a technical sort of death metal that we are presented with. I’m not at all familiar with Gojira but their name pops up more than once in the press release. Listening to this I’m not sure about the technical bit of their death metal sound. We seem to have different opinions on what’s technical. Sure, there is the aura of Meshuggah hanging over them but compared to that band this isn’t even the light version. That aside this is a good death metal album. Anders Ekdahl

SCENT OF DEATH “Of Martyrs’ Agony And Hate”

SCENT OF DEATH
”Of Martyrs’ Agony And Hate”
(Pathological Explicit)
Just from looking at the cover to this album I got the impression that this is gonna be a massive blow of death metal. I could do with some really cool dark murky underground rumblings. I feel that a massive wave of death metal is what I need right now. And this is just that. Death metal just like Immolation, Incantation or any other American band in the same league. And I love it. Don’t know what it is with this kind of primordial death metal, this caveman kind of assault on the senses that makes me like it so much. Perhaps it is because you don’t have to think too much when you listen to this. You just sit back and let your head be thrown all over the place by the massive blast that is this kind of death metal. I knew nothing of SCENT OF DEATH before I heard this album. Now I can’t live without them. Anders Ekdahl

SECRETPATH “Wanderer And The Choice”

SECRETPATH
”Wanderer And The Choice”
(Art Gates)
If I’m not too off base this album by Italian SECRTEPATH is a combination of their two demos that the band released themselves on CD and was reviewed here at Battle Helm. I liked what I heard back then but I’m not that sure that I want to hear it all over again on an album. Even if it is all recorded again (don’t know if it is). Gotta say that I’m rather disappointed yet I understand why the band has done what they’ve done. This Italian lot’s sound is black metal in its nature but there is something more to it. If you never heard any of the demos that make up this album then this is for you. I will buy just to have a complete collection of SECRETPATH records. Musically this is as good as the demos were. Anders Ekdahl

SOMBRE FORETS “La Mort du Soleil”

SOMBRES FORETS
“La Mort du Soleil”
(Sepulchral Prod.)
Another Quebec-oise black metal band. The stuff that I’ve heard so far from that region of Canada has been cool. Hopefully this one too will be along those lines. I don’t know what it is about that part of Canada that produces this very special black metal sound but I’m glad that it does. It means that we get to experience a cool bunch of bands. I have very little prior knowledge about this band and the Quebec-oise black metal scene that Sepulchral Prod. seem to have specialized in. to my ears most of the stuff sounds like an endless continuation of what Burzum started. But I gotta say that SOMBRE FORETS are much more esoteric in their sound. It is still very primitive and basic black metal we get subjected to but it is just that meeting between the atmospheric and the desperate that makes this such a cool black metal album. Like so much other stuff under the sun it is nothing we haven’t heard before but done this way it still add something new to the pile. Anders Ekdahl

ÖLTEN “EP”

ÖLTEN
”EP”
(Hummus Records/Division Records)
It seems like I’ve opened some sort of Pandora’s box when I reviewed one instrumental album because now they seem to come at me every so often. And as I like a challenge I take them all on with great enthusiasm. I can’t say that I’ve paid too much attention to Sunn O))). There was a time when I digested that kind of music like it was water but then I stopped. I like drone, don’t get me wrong. I like the monotony of it, how a band can make a note last for so long. I like the trance like atmosphere that these bands seem to be able to create. ÖLTEN has that aura to them. This is instrumental yet it speaks volumes for this kind of post rock/metal. So if you like bands like Cult Of Luna or Neurosis then this will most likely be to your liking. I know that I like what I hear. Anders Ekdahl

Festival Review – Hellfest 2013!

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Over the last few years France’s Hellfest has grown from strength to strength to become one of Europe’s largest and most diverse festivals. Determined to exceed last year’s record of 112,000 attendees the organisers sought once again to assemble a line-up that would prove its worth and without a doubt they succeeded – where else could you see Def Leppard, Danzig and The Buzzcocks playing the same field except in the tiny village of Clisson?!

Friday 21 June

Arriving in the afternoon we had missed an earlier heavy downpour and made our tyr-hellfest-2013-vendredi-21-juin-7way straight for the Temple Stage to witness the Faroese warriors known as TYR. These guys play a blend of Norse / Celtic folk metal that is stirring stuff indeed drawn from ancient tales and played through strong, passionate melodies at a galloping pace. There was also poignant use of powerfully charged atmospheric passages that soon got heads banging and fists in the air to songs like ‘Ramund Hin Unge’, ‘Shadow Of The Swastika’ and the mighty ‘Hail To The Hammer’ – from the final roar of the crowd it was clear that Tyr had made the mark of their tiny islands felt on an entire nation!

I couldn’t believe that SAXON had chosen to play such a short n early set – not even time for afternoon tea but no one needed to tell the massive ???????????????????????????????crowd that had built up around Main Stage 1. It soon became clear that everyone was up for this one and as ‘HM Thunder’ cranked out it was clear that Saxon had come to turn things up a notch. Nigel Glockner’s snare could be heard echoing across the field and the band headbanged in unison together at the front of the stage just like they did back in ’79 to ‘Denim n Leather’. With the crowd equally up for it singing along with their hands in the air to ‘…it was you, you, you that set the spirit free..’ Byford finished the band’s strong set with the classic ‘Wheels Of Steel’, proving there is still plenty of steam in these NWOBHM legends.

HELLYEAH were next – but the crowd had thinned out around Main Stage 2 perhaps as asmall_IMG_8772 result of the glaring sun or the hard to swallow groove noise fusion made up by Mudvayne’s vocalist Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett, and of course Pantera’s Vinnie Paul. With strong elements of the latter especially in the Dimebag guitar wailings and Vinnie’s power drumming, songs like ‘War In Me’ and ‘Cowboy Way’ strongly hinted at the good ‘ol Pantera days, but never really quite kicked off for me especially with Gray’s ugly vocals. Still, the dedicated moshers at the front appreciated it so go figure?

Noticing the sticker on the sound desk that read ‘sound level is 105db max in France’ I did wonder if the storm that Black Cobra were raising in The Valley could entice me away from the Temple but ABSU were something else – I mean, really out there man! Made up of madman drummer / vocalist / inceptor Proscriptor, these guys literally took off like a album57_12rocket propelled by his flat out technical drumming – what the fuck was he on!? Complete with some weird headband and babbling even weirder things about Mesopotamian mysticism (and not to mention his insane cackling laughter) I wasn’t sure if I’d just stepped outta Stargate into Chernobyl meets Maiden lol! Theatrical eccentricities aside, Absu’s superior technical black / death laid waste to many a band I’d witnessed before and I was continually awed by the fearsome spectacle of Proscriptor’s flailing shadow and crescendo voice on songs like ‘Highland Tyrant Attack’ and ‘Night Fire Canonization’. Without a doubt one of the most intense bands of the weekend.

And now for something completely different – TWISTED SISTER! Swapping sets with Dave Coverdale cos he obviously needed more make-up than them TS kept it real back onsmall_IMG_7432 Main Stage 1 to ‘Shoot ‘Em Down’, ‘I Wanna Rock’ and ‘The Kids Are Back’. Mark was still pounding his bass, AJ was still smashing his drums and Dee – well, Dee’s still Dee with his motor mouth not even sparing the poor handicapped people for not getting up during ‘You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll’. Fuckin’ New Yorkers man.

‘…’ere’s a song for ya!..’ uh oh, lock up your mothers, Dave Coverdale was back in town with his WHITESNAKE. Still, I haveta say I’ve never seen him look better and he seemed to be having a ball onstage, relaxed with the sizeable crowd that had stayed and built up after TS. small_IMG_9182With his trademark wolf howls and insatiable innuendo he whipped out ‘Don’t Break My Heart Again’ followed by an orgasmic ‘Sweet Satisfaction’ as the rest of the band flamboyantly followed with axe hero poses, twirling drumsticks and swanky hair flicks – well, this was Whitesnake! Crowd won over he cheekily called out Joe Elliot and Phil Collen standing stage left to commemorate 35 years of the band and when they refused he instead respectfully dedicated it to the memories of Cozy Powell, Mel Galley and Jon Lord. Dave might be a dinosaur but his mastery of the crowd proved this old lion can still roar.

With twilight approaching it was time to head into the CARPATHIAN FOREST. With thecarpath ‘Ave Satani’ intro from “The Omen” film I haveta say that Nattefrost and heavy duty bassist Daniel Vrangsinn play a very canny brand of black metal – with all the trademark blast beats and almost woman-like screaming vocals, yet with a strong catchy groove and almost death n roll passages that get the crowd going to ‘Hymne til Doden’, ‘Black Shining Leather’ and ‘Knokkelmann’. All in all a commandeering performance that had smoke (or the devil) steaming off the Temple stage.

After 17 years amiss from French soil, DEF LEPPARD were the headliners (as Maiden had declined) bringing the evening to a close and I did wonder how it would all end. Right from the off, it was bizarre that Joe Elliott came on in a top hat when next door, Helloween’s Kai Hansen had just finished off in one lol! With a massive video screen backdrop the visual spectacle was almost U2 like but as Vivian Campbell cranked out the mean riffs to ‘Wasted’ I DefLeppard0100was even more surprised!! Leppard have always been a contentious band even from their early days but that everyone in the crowd from bikers to punks to metalheadz knew songs like ‘Animal’, ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ and ‘Love Bleeds’ speaks bounds about their success. Love ‘em or hate ‘em Def Leppard had their place in Hellfest history tonite. With a break in between the 2 hour set the TV backdrop skilfully put up a montage of fotos and live clips from their entire career including some moving footage of Steve Clarke before the band closed off to ‘Histeria’ and encored to ‘Photograph’. Although I enjoyed seeing Leppard having not seen them since the 80s my other voice was also saying I wouldn’t want to see Bono up there next year either!

SixFeetUnder0100By now in the pitch black of night, the blood red stage of the Altar seemed like a fitting tribute to Chris Barnes and SIX FEET UNDER. With dreadlocks longer than tentacles and his trademark pig squeal ‘vocals’ I have always found SFU style death metal and even more so, Barnes himself irresistible in their possession of my soul. As ‘Revenge Of The Zombie’ and ‘The Day The Dead Walked’ came chundering out, Barnes growled, chuckled sickly and rolled his eyeballs into the back of his head eerily. Those of us in the crowd that he had reached were doing weird shit, rolling about in the mud, skanking crazily and I even remember howling when he said ‘…I’m gonna cut your fuckin’ hand off…’ – oh man, it was magnificent as we bathed in the blood red light to the dance macabre ending in ‘Hammer Smashed Face’. Barnes totally kicked ass cos Barnes is God.

_MG_91972Sat 22 June

IMG_826YAnd the heavens opened! Still, it almost seemed like perfect weather for Swiss rockers KROKUS and their chirpy brand of hard rock as Marc Storace prowled the stage like a hungry cat and the two Von’s – Arb and Rohr – cranked out ‘American Woman’, ‘Easy Rocker’ and their classic ‘Heatstrokes’. Even after all these years the material sounded good and the crowd related back well – starting relatively sparsely at the beginning and growing sizeable towards their end. Rather like Saxon the previous day it was a good move to have these veteran rockers on early to get the crowd warmed which they did amidst the by now lashing rain!

CoalchamberWith the feedback from Meegs Rascón’s guitar almost drowning out the crowd, COAL CHAMBER launched straight into ‘Loco’ sending the Main Stage 2 crowd into a frenzy. Fronted by Dez and still with Mikey on drums it was straight back to the 90s when I first saw this teen nu metal crew. New girl in the band is goth Chela Rhea Harper who looks as young as when the band themselves started! Doing ballerina twirls in contrast to Rascón’s manic antics (at one stage even spitting into the camera) she seems like the bassist CC shoulda had the first time round playing comfortably to songs like ‘Something Told Me’. As the roof started to go on fire to finale ‘Sway’ CC succeeded in bringing the broken, twisted reality of a dark Tinseltown to the green fields of Hellfest.

concert13026_8Like a lightning storm came the striking tattooed figure of KAMPFAR’s Dolk as he concert13026_8screamed ‘..you want some real shit? This is the way Black Metal is supposed to be!!..’! If Absu were the most intense band of this year’s Hellfest then Norway’s Kampfar were the most moving experience bar none. Emotionally evoking in their pure, unadulterated passion you could not help but go along with songs like ‘Ravensheart’, ‘Vettekult’ and the stirring ‘Troll Dod Og Trolldom’. Dolk is an amazing frontman, utterly captivating in his tall frame and vivid Nordic looks, constantly whipping up the crowd and connecting to it – no one escaped his attention for the entire set – and when he told the crowd that Kampfar only played for the French this summer even though the Germans asked more, not even the disbelievers could stop their hands raising in salutation. Pure energy and passion.

Being a long time fan of Udo Dirkschneider since the early 80s, I was curious how ACCEPT would be now they have former TT Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo on vocals. Well, his voiceaccept-hellfest-2013-samedi-22-juin-26 hasn’t changed and they haven’t either – well, they sorta look like the Scorpions wearing army hats except for Wolf Hoffman proudly sporting his bonehead to the masses lol – so  songs like ‘Winners And Losers’ and ‘Metal Heart’ came across more like a subdued cat despite the wall of Marshalls and mega light show. Funnily enough the more sultry numbers like ‘Princess Of The Dawn’ sounded a lot better with Mark so at least Accept have kinda kept their dignity even if they’re no longer leather boys.

Filth, filth, filth! Just what did BELPHEGOR have on those mike stands – um, let’s see…ears, eyes, bone, skin and blood….lotsa blood that had me thinking about more Argentinean sausage lol. In splendid tribute to their namesake demon, Austria’s blackened porno metal come blasting out with ‘Bondage Goat Zombie’ amidst visceral screams of ‘Hail belphegor9Satan!!!’ and tortured vocal shrills courtesy of main man Helmuth. I dunno who was on drums but he was relentless and clearly trying to give Proscriptor a run for his money as he blastbeated ‘Impaled Upon The Tongue Of Satan’. Belphegor are a nihilistic blitzkrieg of driving furore, clanging metallic melodies and also some slow haunting evil passages that take the Temple way past the 100 degree mark. At the end I notice one of the stage hands holding those mikes as far away as possible as he took them away lol….

In no more starker contrast across on the Altar Stage were MY DYING BRIDE who had certainly changed since I last saw them as a gothic doom band characterised by their My-Dying-Bride-5melancholic melodies. Well, they still had that but also now a heavy bottom end and occasional blastbeats too! It actually didn’t seem a million miles from Belphegor at times although MDB were more macabre, more funeral with flowers and deffo more theatrical with their Bram Stoker look and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe’s kneeling and praying to the sombre accompanying violin and piano on songs like ‘She Is The Dark’ and ‘The Snow Is Thy Hand’. The rest of the band didn’t do a whole lot but neither do corpses so all in all a quintessential performance from these English forerunners to doom / death.

Break out the hippy bands people – MANILLA ROAD were burnin’ up the road from Kansas! Founded in the 70s by guitarist and sole survivor Mark Shelton, MR were one of these proto US heavy metal bands who evolved as rock did throughout the 80s, 90s and the next century incorporating a variety of styles from prog to metal to even thrash! Clearly one of Hellfest’s cult acts they drew a sizeable crowd in the Valley from people like myself curious to see more of this elusive band and also some truly dedicated fans, who greatly appreciated and sang along to numbers like ‘Masque Of The Red Death’ and ‘Hammer Of The Witches’.

Hellfest2013-ManillaRoad-2Having seen all the remaining bands several times over in my rock career, I decided to check out with my old faves CANDLEMASS now with their old friend Mats Levén on concert13028_23vocals. Having kinda grown up with these Swedes and particularly Messiah’s original vocals, this was a job with big, big shoes to fill. Rob Lowe had done a competent enough job over recent years, but never really had quite the spark of Messiah but new boy Mats does the trick. Operatic, angelic and with bunches of sustaining power in his throat old classics like ‘Bewitched’ and ‘Dark Reflections’ are resurrected to their former glory and I leave hearty that Sweden’s original doom merchants are back with a vengeance!

Hellfest-2013Sun 23 June

87919263_oThe final day of Hellfest proved to be the most diverse with the addition of more classic punk bands brought a fresh and energetic feel to the festival. Heading to the Warzone, which this year was a larger open air stage, I could already feel the electrically charged atmosphere as SENSER took to the crowd. This South London activist rap rock band started in the 90s and were part of the agit rock movement along with The Levellers and Rage Against The Machine. Based on the rapid fire dual male / female vocals of Heitham Al-Sayed and Kerstin Haigh, songs like ‘Age Of Panic’ and ‘States Of Mind’ had an addictive beat that when coupled with the band’s militant message proved to be irresistible as the crowd lurched and jumped around uncontrollably to their beat!

Having seen IHSAHN with Emperor since the 90s, I was curious to see more of his solo work which isn’t black metal per se but more of a fusion of styles from progressive to classical to straight metal. He still has his raw voice but songs like ‘The Paranoid’ and ‘Frozen Lakes On Mars’ are trippy and heading into Opeth territory but either from his legacy or his present, he was enjoyed enthusiastically by the Temple crowd even if I found it a little contrived.leprous-live-with-Ihsahn-at-Hellfest-2010-585x336Hellfest.2013.002If you grew up in the 70s like I did then the name COCKNEY REJECTS was infamously associated with skinheads and football violence so it was with some trepidation that I walked back to the aptly named Warzone. If things did get out of control as so often they did at a Rejects gig back then, I would haveta bale! Still lead by the Geggus brothers, Jeff ‘Stinky’ Turner screamed ‘you alriiiiiight, this is wot it’s all about – football!!’! Big time West Ham fans, it’s like nothing had changed since the 70s as they launched into ‘We Are The Firm’ and later, their tribute to the team’s anthem in ‘Bubbles’. Like many kids brought up in the rough n ready Custom House area of London’s East End, the Geggus’s were boxers and Turner still shuffles and slips the jab while he’s onstage as Micky roared out their legendary ‘War On The Terraces’. Fast, raw n abrasive that’s how it was back then and the Rejects gave it to you like the old one-two. It was magic mate – and you could do worse than check their movie ‘East End Babylon’.

Korpiklaani315Shaking the sweat and nervousness off, it was back yet again to the Temple to experience something altogether more jovial in KORPIKLAANI. These Finns play a jolly knees up mix of Sami music and Finnish folk that soon got the crowd going to songs like ‘Wooden Pints’ and ‘Leven Polka’ as the potent mix of rock with accordions and fiddles sent the crowd jumping, air punching and yodelling along with the band – brilliantly enjoyable, these guys should be compulsory at every festival!

Fuck me, THE BUZZCOCKS – even I didn’t believe it when Hellfest announced they were Buzzcocks-6-e1373120482845gonna play given they were a 70s punk band more associated with Indie and especially the Manchester scene. Still, as Pete Shelley yanked out the opening riffs to ‘Boredom’ and his off key vocals started I knew I was witnessing history – I couldn’t believe how tight these guys were man, they were fuckin amazing! With Steve Diggle handling the vocals on ‘Sick City Sometimes’ when he wasn’t bopping around the stage I haveta say The Buzzcocks came outta nowhere to take everyone by storm and left to a well deserved roar of respect from many who weren’t even born when these guys started to rock.

8587By now completely punked out, and with Clutch cancelling, I decided to say for THE TOY DOLLS, another 70s Brit punk band who were more about fun and feel good what with their crazy school boy zoot suits, tacky seaside sunglasses and songs like ‘My Girlfriend’s Dad’s A Vicar’ and a stonking cover of ‘Nellie The Elephant’, which got everyone singing along and beaming huge smiles all around just like their backdrop – lotsa fun mate!

And the fun was set to continue with LORDI on Main Stage 2. I’ve always had respect for small_IMG_2246-2these tongue in cheek rock n rollers since they kicked Eurovision’s ass in 2006 and they always bring it on with heaps of pyro and theatrics. Now with a new drummer (Mana) and keyboardist (Hella) there didn’t seem to be much change to their style as they raced thru ‘Devil Is A loser’, ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ and the aptly titled “Bringing Back The Balls To Rock”. Mr Lordi beckoned us to jump and I’m just glad he didn’t with those giant stack heels on – again a definite rush of enjoyment.

imagesThe mood had to change and it did firstly with SWANS, an 80s New York experimental noise band who actually finished before I even got a chance to see ‘em – maybe I was lucky given their confrontational reputation and sweat drenching shows without aircon lol – as they decided to turn the Valley into Death Valley! With 2 drummers, sole survivor Michael Gira’s monotone voice, their droning guitars and even at one stage a trombone lol they certainly made a racket, although it was more psychedelic trip out rock in songs like ‘Just A Little Boy’ and ‘The Seer’. I guess Swans inspired later bands like Trail Of The Dead, whatever the case this went beyond music at times into trance and almost spiritual ascendency.

danzigAnd so to the end and the dark lord known as DANZIG. Now with Prong’s Tommy Victor on guitar and this black night joined by the leviathan known as DOYLE this was the unholy triumvirate and the best ending I’ve ever seen at a festival. I think the entire crowd at Main Stage 1 was singing along to ‘Die Die My Darling’, ‘Skulls’, ‘Death Comes Ripping’ and ‘Last Caress’ – yeah, Evil Elvis also did ‘Am I Demon’ and other Danzig songs at the start but frankly everyone was here for the big one – those old Misfits songs. Hell, even the band seemed stoked as Doyle (in his classic astro zombie look) stomped menacingly around the stage and even Danzig seemed more pumped than ever before. With no less than 2 encores this was an amazing ending to another successful Hellfest that already has next year penned in my diary!

Hellfest_425_68ppi94u

SOiL – “Whole”

SOiL – “Whole” (AFM Records)

Awesome – SOiL are back – and in their original incarnation! Formed in the late 90s, this Chicago band sold over one million records worldwide with their major label debut “Scars” in 2001 before vocalist Ryan McCombs departed to join Drowning Pool in 2005. Well, now they are “Whole” again and right off the (baseball) bat I am truly impressed by how classic this sounds – it’s the 90s all over again – and straight in the vein of “Scars”! McCombs’s hoarse, aggro vocals were built to destroy any stadium along with the strong groove metal that makes up songs like ‘Pyschopath’, ‘War Gone’ and ‘Loaded Gun’. Drums on the album were performed by Will Hunt who is best known for his work with Black Label Society and boy, does he pound those muthas – it’s just heaps of attitude from start to finish! Heavy, raging and aggressive, this is the album that SOiL shoulda recorded after “Scars” but WTF, it’s great to have these dudes back to kick our asses once more in the pit!!!!

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.

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’!

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.