Dark melodic metal. Heard that one before? That Relinquished sound like any other band influenced by Gothenburgian metal is beside the point. Or is it? How many more bands can we take that sound like a rehashed At The Gates or a Dark Tranquillity MK 25? In my book we can take as many as it needs as long as they are any good at what they do. Relinquished proved to be a positive surprise. There is a darkness to the music that i like. It’s not as sunny and chirpy as most of these bands have a tendency to be. There is a depth to this that makes me take extra notice. Sure, you get all the usual components but as with Dark Tranquillity there is more to than meets the ear at first. And that I like. I like to be challenged. Anders Ekdahl
OK, I’ll say it once and then I won’t say it again in this review. For me to go mad over another project it got to have something very special. I don’t see the purpose of just writing an album and then invite a bunch of known names to perform on it. Norwegian metal project Tomorrow’s Outlook might be just another project among many but let’s hope that it has something to offer to make it stand out from the rest. It did start on a pretty high note. I immediately found some strings that struck a chord in me. This wasn’t the same old tired star parade. There was something more to it. OK, so it is pretty much another power metal album but it kinda made me think of Artch and anything that does that can’t be too bad. As always it is hard to judge what the individual stars involvement adds to songs but they are good enough for just one single vocalist to handle them. Anders Ekdahl
SYN – ZE –SASE-TRI
“Sub Semnul Lupului”
It is not enough to just be weird if you want to stand out. You actually got to have something to show for too if you don’t want to end up just a joke, or at worst trash on the floor. Syn-Ze-Sase-Tri might have one of the weirdest names I’ve seen in a long time but that shouldn’t be the end of it all. Musically this isn’t weird in any way. This is black metal, although with a twist but still fully comprehensible without any deeper dissecting. Symphonic in all its glory this Romanian band proves that even from the darkest holes of Europe something shiny can come. If you fancied Emperor in their grandeur then this will be right up your alley. Perhaps a bit more controlled than for example “Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk” but still closely related this album by Syn-Ze-Sase-Tri might very well end up a new favourite amongst those of us that fancy symphonic, chaotic black metal. Anders Ekdahl
“Sigil Whore Christ”
The French black metal scene might not be the greatest in size but it has over the years brought us some of the more innovative artists. Some more successful than others but all with their integrity intact. Vorkreist might be on to album number 5 but this is my first real encounter with them. It is with some trepidation but also with some anticipation that I approach this album. Will it be a massive let down or will I be positively surprised. I have to go with the latter. While no Deathspell Omega immersed in its own weirdness this is pretty tricky black metal that is far from straight to the point. But that is also what adds to the charm of it. You gotta be prepared for all the twists and turns this journey takes you. If you have problems with music that doesn’t take you from point A to point B then you’d be well advised to stay clear of this one. If you like music that challenges you and feel that Swedish bands like Funeral Mist, Ofermod or Watain are the best thing to have happened since sliced bread then Vorkreist will be for you. Anders Ekdahl
Saxon – “Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken” DVD / 2CD (UDR Music)
‘..where were you in ’79 when the dam began to burst?..’ – NWOBHM legends Saxon were one of the front runners that’s for sure, and also one of that movement’s most prominent proponents, playing the first Monsters Of Rock festival back in the 80s and continuing right thru that decade until the decline of English heavy metal in the late 80s. But in Germany, the scene was starting to take off and in 1992, Saxon were invited to play the Wacken Open Air, and in a similar relationship with the Donnington fans, have since been adopted by that festival’s fans as ‘their’ band – indeed, promoter Thomas Jensen is also Saxon’s band manager! It is indeed a rare opportunity for any band to be associated with two iconic events in heavy metal history, let alone enjoy a rebirth that has arguably made them more popular than ever before! “Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken” is Saxon’s most ambitious live product to date, reveling in the majesty of both their legacy and continuing title as key headliners as demanded by the fans: a DVD highlighting Saxon‘s Wacken shows in 2004, 2007 and 2009 with no less than 30 songs, plus 2 live CDs with the entire Glasgow Apr 2011 performance, complete with behind the scenes footage and slideshow extras. As OTT as their 1 ton eagle, it’s available in a variety of packages from a 1,000 copy limited edition (since sold out) to a bumper digipack to a 3 gatefold vinyl edition. All in all a fitting tribute both to the longevity of this enduring band and their fans both young and old!
Quimera – “Immortal” (www.quimeramusic.com)
‘…what would you do, if you could live forever?…’. Currently based outta NYC comes mysterious contralto tessitura vocalist Quimera, whose namesake band play a powerful and deeply passionate combination of classical, symphonic and cinematic rock. For a relatively unknown band, “Immortal” is highly ambitious given that it is a double album no less with 20 tracks! Sultry femme vocals combine with gothic cellos, operatic choirs, atmospheric keyboards, concerto percussion and the fluid contemporary guitar work of composer Patrick Rundbladh on songs like ‘The Forgotten’, ‘Fleur Du Mal’ and ‘Victoria’s Lullaby’, that are driven by a sweet passion which can only come from a heart crying l’amour, l’amour! On the face of it, there’s really no doubting Quimera’s talents, who not only writes from her soul to touch others across the human divide, but also possesses an enviable professionalism to strive for the highest standards in both songwriting and musicianship.
HeXen – “Being And Nothingness” (Pulverised Records)
Wow, HeXen have been goin since the turn of the century and take off where thrash metal arguably left by introducing huge amounts of progressive melodies into their toons that will either send you nuts or turn you into a true believer! Glass in throat vocals, Hartoonian’s rumbling bass and chopping Kreator-esque thrash rhythms on songs like ‘Defcon Rising’, ‘Indefinite Archetype’ and ‘Walk As Many, Stand As One’ stand shoulder to shoulder with Ronny Dorian and Tak Arayan’s classically influenced soloing and prominent melodies, all in all adding an interesting new dimension that sees “Being And Nothingness” leaping the abyss and bravely pushing out the boundaries of this well defined style in good taste.
Collisions – “Believe In This” EP (www.facebook.com/CollisionsUk)
Fresh offa tour with Hed(pe) comes Collisions, who mix electro metal with DnB (drums n bass) to create a fiery fusion of agit rock highly reminiscent of bands like Senser. Against this heavy dub beat comes Olly’s street ragga raps, with the electronics adding a calming groove thru some cool melodies and overlays. With a matching in-yo-face production, songs like ‘Fire Fire’, ‘Push’ and ‘Chasing Forms’ leap out at you and one can only imagine what Collisions are like live cos man, are they heaving like one big rave! Infectiously addictive thru their no holds barred energy and funky but punky grooves, look out for Collisions, cos they look to headin to tha big time, big style.
Shadowside – “Inner Monster Out” (Inner Wound Recordings)
Brazil’s Shadowside are quite a mix befitting both the ethnic composition of their nation as well as their sound which melds angry guitars and nu metal rhythms with progressive melodies. Added to this is vocalist Dani Nolden whose vocals which remain sexily husky (down boy – Ed) whether she’s being melodic or aggressive, but able to stand their own ground against guest vocalists Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity), Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork) and Niklas Isfeldt (Dream Evil) be it on the title-track, or the bottom heavy bounding ‘Habitchual’ as well as their closing cover of Motorhead’s ‘Ace Of Spades’ – where rather than compete with Lemmy’s glass-in-throat larynx, Dani instead thrashes it out Sabina Classen style – yea babaay! Musically, Shadowside seem to reflect a wide range of bands from a heavy Skid Row to Disturbed to even Maiden, who they incidentally supported in Rio de Janeiro last year, and having undertaken a successful European tour supporting WASP previously, this all important 3rd release looks set to move them into the light.
Marauder – “Elegy Of Blood” (Pitch Black Records)
Marauder are Greek heavy metal legends who have been around for over 20 years. In fact, when they first started, Pitch Black Records manager Phivos was sending off for their demo, so he must be really savoring that two decades on they’re now signed to him! Despite their aggressive name, Marauder play a classy brand of power / melodic heavy metal but with enough guts to be worthy descendants of Alexander: vocalist Alexandros Kostarakos can certainly hit the highs while ably shifting into a melodic stance as does the rest of the band on songs like ‘Roman Empire’, ‘Hiroshima’ and ‘Black Gold’ which contain a mixture of heaviness and melody, essentially the components of classic HM. Truth be told Maraude’s music is more likely to appeal to the true metal genre, given its classic style with scarcely any sign of modernity, and is as bold and uncompromising as the Spartans who held Thermopylae!