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Friday, April 28, 2017

Review: Opalized - Rising From The Ashes

Giving this record the due listen it deserves, I am darned ok with it! It has an ‘Into Eternity’ feel to it and some great artistry the way the vox careen from the hoarse metalcore sound to some great highs and harmonies. Well placed and well done! This group from Bordeaux, France have a bright future and their 7 song Ep ‘Rising From The Ashes’ certainly makes a phoenix-like entrance!

‘The Fall’, a beautiful musical intro, shows these players’ skills and is soundtrack worthy in some future film I’m sure, and is a perfect intro for my favourite song #2, the scorching orchestrated piece ‘Gives It Back’. Grand dual-axe attack with gravocals (yea I’m making words up: gravel + vocals), driving beats make this an instant concert hit I’m sure.

Check their vids and the play through of my favourite song is a grand sight. Don’t we all wish we could play like that? I know you do. The break at about 3:10 and awesome growl, hammering guitars and orchestration is clear and offers up some melodic metal in between. A very nice piece!

Not a fan of the ridiculously overused gravocals in this genre (and others) and too much grates on my nerves, but the music is played to near perfection all through, and resonates in my black metal heart. They are well placed with bouts of gifted singing that complements the ups and downs of the emotional saga portrayed in this opus.

The rest of the EP is musically sound and a real pleasure to listen to. This is not an atypical metal or death metal album; it steams with good riffs and solid bass and blistering tempo at times and leaves some damned hope for the art of musical artistry. Each song has its own flavour and resonates well with me, especially the title track, singeing fingertips and vocal chords alike.


Written by Alessandro

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Interview: Ayreon

On April 28th, Ayreon will release their new album, called The Source. DutchMetalManiac's Glenn van der Heijden just reviewed it here. He also interviewed the mastermind of Ayreon, Arjen Lucassen. You can read the interview below.

Congratulations on the new album!

Thank you!

What are your thoughts on it so far?

Well, usually this is my insecure phase, because the moment I finish an album, I think it's the best in the world. Like I can't wait to share this with anyone. Then, I have to wait like three months or something till release and in that period the album gets really bad, I get very insecure until the release, but this time I am pretty sure. We put one track online on YouTube, 'The Day That The World Breaks Down', and the reactions are really amazing. Usually, people are always bitching on YouTube that they hate it, but there were 300.000 views and everyone was positive. Besides that, presales are the best I ever had, some versions already sold out, it's album of the month in some magazines, front covers, so I feel pretty good about it.

It must be crazy. It's a wonderful album. Can you tell us a bit about the process of making The Source?

Well, I worked a bit different than usual. Basically, every album I do I work in a different way. Just to keep it fresh. For example, The Theory of Everything, I didn't have any ideas when I entered the studio, I recorded everything that came up, that became a very tense and different album. This album I worked a little bit differently, I already had 50 ideas before entering the studio, so I could be more selective. Also, this time I started with the artwork. Normally I do that at the end, but this time I thought maybe the artwork could inspire me for a story. So, I went to Google Images and I looked at many artists and I found a French guy, called Yann Souetre, his art really inspired me.

It's absolutely beautiful. How do you pick the right people for the right job?

When I start, I have no idea what project it's going to be, what musicians I'm going to ask, it all starts slowly. First I write the music and the story, after that I make a list of musicians I think will fit to this album. So, I have a very long wish list. Then I´ll contact the musicians I think fit best to the music and the concept. They don´t always do it, sometimes they are too busy, but I pick the people who I think fits best to the style.

It´s not really an easy job I would think.

Well, the contacting is easy, but to convince them, that´s hard. To arrange things, to get them fly over to my studio, to record things in their own studio, that´s the downside of Ayreon to arrange those things and to bother the musicians.

Talking about the concept of the album, it seems to me that there´s a message into it, about technology. How do you see that?

Well, basically I never try to put messages in music, because I think, as a musician, I want to offer escapism, I hate to push my personal opinion on people, I always try not to do that. But, of course, I can't help it if there are personal opinions shining through the lyrics. I come from a time before computers, so I've seen the world change drastically the last 20/30 years. I am definitely not saying this as a good or a bad thing, it's just that there are really fast changes and, basically, my albums are often about the dependence of technology. I think technology is a really good thing, but I would never become dependent of technology.

Would be horrible if something goes wrong then right?

That's it, you're hopeless. In my stories, it always goes horribly wrong. On this album, it starts on Planet Alpha, where computers shut down all the life support systems. So, it's not a good thing.

Speaking about that, the song 'Everybody Dies', it's very happy-ish but everybody dies, how did you come up with that idea?

I love contradictions, it's like Stephen King stories, when the clown comes up. It's a clown, but you simply know things will go wrong. Also like Monty Python's Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, that poor guy is nailed to the cross and they're singing Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life. I like those contradictions, I think it's even heavier this way.

Yeah, it happens through the whole album, it's fun this way right?

Yeah, I did it on my solo album, there's a song called Dr. Slumbers Eternity Home, it's really happy but it's about a euthanasia clinic where you go, just to die. That makes it interesting.

How do you view metal in the music industry, for a lot of people metal is an area that they are not comfortable with. You are doing this for quite some time, how do you view the music industry now as supposed to way back when and how do you view metal in there?

I think metal has always been there and will always be there. It's such an incredible loyal audience. I've been playing metal ever since I was 17, which was in 1977. I started my first band, I played in Bodine and Vengeance and we always had an audience. Now, with Ayreon, I am entering charts all over the world, in Holland even twice number one. It's a small group, but it's a very loyal group, I love it. I think the metal is very healthy at the moment, I can't complain. My new album, The Source, has the best presales I ever had. It's a loyal audience, we still want to get the real thing. We won't listen a little bit in the background and something else the next day.

You worked with many artist over the years. Are there people you still want to work with in the future, like a wish list or something?

I have a wish list and it's like 100 singers or something. Obviously, it's great to work with your heroes, I am talking about the people I grew up listening to, like Robert Plant, Ian Gillan, Geddy Lee, David Gilmour, Ritchie Blackmore, Brian May. To be able to work with those people, who were like gods to me when I was younger, that's fantastic. I keep trying of course, but it's really hard. Like this time, I was really close to get Brian May on the album, but then he got sick. But it worked in the past, for example when I got Bruce Dickinson on the album, you just must be lucky, that there's a way in somehow.

Do these big classic rockers have a big influence on your music? I feel like they do.
Absolutely, I am not hiding it. I don't understand all these musicians who say that they are not influenced, I am totally influenced. On this album, the Rainbow, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd influences. It's just the way it is, between your 10th and your 20st birthday, that's the music that shapes your world. Having said that, I would hate to get stuck in the past, so I stay updated very much. I listen to new music every day when I go jogging.

Was there a moment while creating this album that you were stuck?

Well, I am always stuck in between albums, that's terrible. When I finished an album, I am empty, nothing comes out, I call it my black hole period, it always happens. I put everything I have in it and then suddenly it's over. There should be something new, but nothing new is coming up. Once I start an album with one or two songs, then the inspiration starts flowing. I think that's why I end up with double albums all the time. I don't plan it that way, I just write and record it.

I don't think the fans would really matter. Ayreon Universe is coming up in September. In the past, you had some difficulties with going on stage, you would rather not do that, what's the reason that you're doing it now?

I still don't want to do it. I hate it, I am just not good at it, I have terrible stage fright. I see myself as a composer, a producer, that's what I do well. As a performer, I am not really special or something. I think the catalyst was The Theater Equation, which was a theatre play of my album The Human Equation. It was such a big success and I wasn't expecting that. During the shows, I was looking into the audience and I only saw happy people, there were so many emotions going on. So, at that point I thought, if only once, I should do it, Ayreon live.

Can you tell us a little bit or is it all secret?

A little bit is fine, not too much of course, then I would spoil surprises. It has 16 singers, which is amazing, 10 of the best musicians, there's going to be a big LED-screen behind the stage with beautiful visuals, special effects. It's going to be a lot of work to arrange it, we are already working on it for 1,5 years now and luckily, we sold out three shows, which allows us to put some more money in it and make it perfect.

I can't wait! You worked with Anneke van Giersbergen for The Gentle Storm, she took the band on tour, how did that go?

Well, I didn't plan that whole project. Somehow, I got a message from Anneke saying like 'Should we do something together?' and I was sure and already working on music, so I asked what she would think of it. Then we worked with The Gentle Storm on the album, the concept and at some point, Anneke asked me if I would be okay if they would play it live. I thought it was great. Usually my projects don't perform live, so it was great that someone would play the album live and promote the album.

Anneke is more than capable of doing that.

Yeah, she is just a great performer, one of the best singers in the world. The band was amazing, I remember one of the first shows, I was in the audience and with the soundcheck I had tears in my eyes.

Do you want to say anything else?

That's always a hard question. I would say, just buy the album. Well, I think this album is pretty much a reaction to my previous album, The Theory of Everything. It was very much a prog album, very complicated. This album is more like a metal album, bit more streamlined and catchy. It's a little bit of an easier album. I would say check it out.

About you saying it's a bit easier album, do you think it will reach more people?

I think so, nowadays people don't give music a chance anymore. There is so much music. If you make a different album, like The Theory of Everything you may not get the chance, because you really have to listen to it a couple of times. This album is more catchy, the message is clear. I think this can reach more people, because it's a bit more structured.

Thank you very much for this interview and good luck in September with Ayreon Universe!

Ayreon Official Website
Ayreon Facebook

Review: Ayreon - The Source

And here it is! The new Ayreon record. Starting immediately when listening to the opening song “The Day That The World Breaks Down” Arjen Lucassen again creates his own fascinating world for us to get sucked in, like he has done many times before. But this time it’s pretty clear what is going on, machines stop working and the world goes boom! The song “Everybody Dies” does a perfect job of telling you this in a very catchy and cheery way.

The album pulls something from a variety of different music genres. In general, the songs are very heavy metal, heavy guitar riffs with the incredible drum parts of longtime Ayreon drummer Ed Warby that holds it all together. But there are also some funky bass lines or even the more folk-like sounds that you might remember from The Gentle Storm. The best example for this would be the beautiful duet between Floor Jansen (Nightwish) and Simone Simons (Epica) called “All That Was” where these two nightingales are perfectly in sync with each other. This is what makes The Source, or arguably any Ayreon album so great. Lucassen knows exactly what everybody is capable of and where to put his wonderful cast and crew, which makes it sound like everything fell in to place and is where it is supposed to be.

What caught my attention when listening to the album several times is that The Source is a much catchier album than its predecessors, it often chooses a more comical or satirical approach rather than being serious, despite its dark and gloomy theme. Don’t be fooled by titles like “Condemned To Live” or “Everybody Dies” but rather expect a Black Mirror or Monty Phyton feel to it. But not in a bad way. The album still has a lot of strength and professionality. If anything, I would say this particular approach brings even more personality to the album.

For this album, none other than Queen guitarist Bryan May was asked to join, but he unfortunately had to cancel. However, you can still hear that Lucassen is greatly inspired by these legendary rockers of the seventies and eighties. Long shredding guitar solos like in “The Dream Dissolves”, high pitched male vocals that just scream glam rock and a subtle hint to Queens’ “Bicycle Race’’ in “The Aquatic Race”, where Zaher Zorgati (Myrath) showcases his beautiful Arabic vocals.

The Source is a multidimensional masterpiece that appeals to new Ayreon fans and seasoned Ayreonauts alike, that to me is already capable of being the metal album of the year!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden

You can also read our interview with Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen here.

Ayreon Official Website
Ayreon Facebook

Promoting Bands Part 7


I'm back with a new part of Promoting Bands for you!

As always: want to be in Promoting Bands in the future? Be sure to send us an email or message on Facebook or Twitter!

Here you can check the earlier parts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Enjoy this part! \m/

Tim van Velthuysen

1. Idek.

I already mentioned them in Part 3 of Promoting Bands, Idek., an experimental metal band from The Netherlands. Now they have released an new single, which will be followed by an EP. The single is called Haze and you can check it below. It sure is something you won't hear that often. It is indeed quite experimental, in a way very nicely worked out. Good job guys!

Idek. Facebook

2. Van Halst

Van Halst play their music with a message, on their album World Of Make Believe (which we already reviewed here) their songs speak about various social justice issues. They want to create a positive social change through their activism. The music is catchy and heavy at the same time. The very nice vocals of Kami van Halst make it even more interesting. This is a band to keep an eye on, very nicely done! Below you can watch their video clip of Questions. Be advised of the trigger warning: the video shows scenes of violence towards women. It is intended to raise awareness about victim blaming.

Van Halst Official Website
Van Halst Facebook
Van Halst Twitter

3. Wheezy John B

Wheezy John B is a one-man-band hailing from The Netherlands. His music is difficult to fit into one genre but it is extreme as fuck! He just released his debut album and you can check his music on his soundcloud (or below). He surely knows how to play extreme music, let's hope for more in the future!

Wheezy John B Facebook

4. Trap Them

Trap Them hails from the USA and their music is bleak, aggressive and angry. So, it's quite heavy! These guys know how to play some heavy and intense music. Last year they released their latest album, called Crown Feral, and I am glad I discovered their music. You can clearly feel the energy and anger put in this album, which, in my opinion, makes it even better. Something to check out for sure! Curious? Listen to Crown Feral below!

Trap Them Facebook
Trap Them Twitter

5. Trepaneringsritualen

Trepaneringsritualen is not metal, but it is dark, grim and heavy, so it could be something for you nonetheless. Trepaneringsritualen is one man who makes music in the way of industrial, power electronics and dark ambient. The sphere he creates is very intense, in a dark, grim way. Below you can see his show in Boiler Room in Berlin. Of course, being at a Trepaneringsritualen show would probably be even more intense, but now you can already take a look.

Trepaneringsritualen Official Website
Trepaneringsritualen Facebook

6. Vulvodynia

Hailing from South-Africa, here are slam death metallers Vulvodynia! Last year we already reviewed their latest album, called Psychosadistic Design, here. This is brutal, this is heavy, this is slamming Vulvodynia! This is music you have to listen to at a very high volume and you will never hear your neighbors again. Or they are blown away by the brutal sounds of Vulvodynia or they are scared to say something to you because of you listening to it. Very brutal in a very great way! Below you can check their track Unparalleled Insubordination, coming from Psychosadistic Design.

Vulvodynia Facebook

7. Pitch Black Process

Pitch Black Process comes from Turkey, the lyrics of their music are a mixture of English and Turkish, which gives Pitch Black Process' music its unique and personal approach. First song I heard from them was Halil Ibrahim Sofrası, with Necati Karadayı as guest musician. The track is actually a cover, being originally by Barış Manço, but Pitch Black Process made it a metal song, and they did in a great way! Check their version below!

Pitch Black Process Facebook
Pitch Black Process Twitter

8. Oberschlesien

Oberschlesien hail from the region in Poland with the same name. They play industrial metal and the lyrics are in the Oberschlesien dialect. Below you can see their performance of Fojerman and Richter at Jarocin Festiwal 2016, the lyrics in the Oberschlesien dialect give the music something really special. Hopefully they will play somewhere in The Netherlands in the nearby future soon, would be a great experience, I am sure!

Oberschlesien Official Website
Oberschlesien Facebook

9. Violet Cold

Emin Guliyev lives in Baku, Azerbaijan. He has a one-man band called Violet Cold in which he plays experimental blackgaze. Recently he released his latest album called Anomie. It has heavy black metal parts, but it also has it's experimental, atmospheric, dreamy parts. Anomie is a really beautiful masterpiece, coming from this one-man band called Violet Cold. Great music and hopefully there will be more Violet Cold music in the future! Listen to Anomie below!

Violet Cold Facebook

10. Jambinai

They come from Korea, they play post-rock with a lot of traditional Korean instruments, they are called Jambinai. While they play post-rock, at times they still are quite heavy, in their own way. Their music is very special and very unique, so it's something you better check out, because it's something you probably wouldn't miss. You can start by checking out their video of They Keep Silence below!

Jambinai Facebook
Jambinai Twitter

Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: Striker - Striker

Still flying the banner of the old-school, the Canadian heavy/power metallers Striker have adopted a slight change of pace in their sound as the band has gone a more streamlined, straightforward burst of their trademarked old-school sound. With a quick turn around to their new release nearly a calendar year from the last effort, the groups’ self-titled fifth full-length is released February 24, 2017 on their own Record Breaking Records.

Despite the slight sonic shift present, it’s still obvious the band is intent on going through their stellar old-school style here which remains prominent throughout this one. Efforts like “Former Glory,” “Pass Me By” and “Shadows in the Light” no longer feature wild, lengthy rhythms or expanded instrumental sections as instead they go for a simple series of charging riff-work and straightforward patterns that go more for solid beat-downs than anything else throughout here. The same high-energy attack is still there, making for a much more energetic and engaging time here with the album simplifying matters without offering up much of a change in their formula bringing this one along quite nicely. It does offer a few minor stumbling blocks in places here like “Born to Lose,” “Rock the Night” and “Freedom’s Call” where it slips in lighter rhythms and melodies from their power metal style that makes for quite a striking contrast against the raging traditional metal elements elsewhere throughout here, and it seems as though these were just the odd misshapen rhythms due to the rather strong manner they accomplished this work in the past so to suddenly see it lowered in this manner could very well be a minor fluke of the album. Still, it’s a noticeable flaw here and does bring this one down somewhat slightly even with so much else to like throughout here.

While featuring a few minor missteps here with the lighter melodies not generating the kind of enjoyment as their heavier tendencies, this one still packs in more than enough to like here with the streamlined style working more often than not and making for a nice addition to any fan of their past work or revivalist heavy metal acts. 9/10

Written by Don Anelli

Striker Official Website
Striker Facebook
Striker Twitter

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Interview: Tribulance

Recently, DutchMetalManiac's Alessandro reviewed Tribulance's The Aftermath Of Lies here. Now he also has interviewed their bass player Gino Silva and guitar player Sal Flores, which you can read below.

Guys, I’m very honoured to be granted this interview! I want to say again, I love your album. I hope my 10/10 at DutchMetalManiac means something for you! Actually I’m giving it an 11/10 in honour of RIP Jim Marshall.

Gino Silva: Thank you for this! And it does mean a lot! Let me give you a quick rundown of who is who in the group; I’m the bass player; Mike Vidal, lead vocals; Brandon Lee, drummer; and Sal Flores, guitar player.

So, tell us the origins of your band name, I try not to Google too much so what DOES that word mean?

Sal: Tribulance is a made up word derived from the term “trials and tribulations”.

How and where’d you meet?

Sal: I have known Gino and Mike from other musical endeavors around the late 80’s, early 90’s. We had a couple stints with some bands but actually got together and formed Tribulance in the early 90’s. Brandon was introduced to me and Mike by Gino around 2011/2012, when we reformed the group and needed a new drummer. Although, we all grew up on the south side of Tucson so it feels like we’ve all known each other all our lives since we’re from the same area.

Are you all actually friends or is it just business?

Sal: The friendship HAS to be there or else nothing else will fall into place properly…so yes.

Gino: But, we as a band also understand it’s a business and can separate the two.

Is the world a better place with all this new technology for spreading the gift of music or was it better to copy LP’s to cassettes and spread it around?

Sal: I think new technology already has made the world a better place to spread music. The music industry hasn’t harnessed a way, however, to balance how music is marketed and sold. I think we are in an infancy stage with where the world is at with technology and the spreading and selling of music.

Your music is powerful and heavy; tell us when and where your best times for inspiration are.

Sal: My inspirations for writing music mostly come from my own personal life experiences.

Gino: For me, it’s thoughts that just pop into my head, like a movie scene, that turns into music.

Without being disrespectful to a band’s originality, I always like to cite some influences that my ear picks out or I think picks out; do you guys do this when you’re working out your arrangements? You have some great influences! Who’s everyone’s favourite band?

Sal: I really don’t have “favorites”. I could spend all day talking about artists that I’ve admired and still admire. I even admire artists who are new and just coming out with music. I can name some bands who I’ve looked up to: Boston, Van Halen, Dokken, Judas Priest, Metallica, Beastie Boys, Fear Factory and Enya just to name a few.

When writing music there is no effort on my part to purposely sound like any particular band. If it just sounds good and pretty killer to us then we roll with it. It’s not intentional if anything we do sounds or reminds anyone of another band. I realize that some inspirations may show through. But again, it’s not intentional.

Gino: For me, of course, my favorite band is Motley Crue!

Onstage, 90% and live to fight another day or 110% and see what happens the next day?

Sal: 110% all the time…every time.

Speaking of stages, you’re not on an especially heavy tour schedule as of yet; are there more dates lined up for this year? Any chance you’re coming to Canada?

Sal: If the chance presents itself and we could all pull it off and make it happen then absolutely! We would love to go to Canada!

Gino: If Canada wants us, sure! As for any future dates, we have some local shows lined up.

I want to thank you so much for taking the time for us!

Gino: No, thank you!

As we go, give us “Tribulance’s Turbulence” for 2017:

WW III or Peace on Earth?

Sal: Of course peace on earth would be awesome. But whatever happens, we’ll go out playing Metal to whoever wants some.

Aliens Land – Aliens Keep On Going?

Sal: Let the Aliens land so we can play for them and get some new fans.

Music Industry Better – Music Industry Worse

Sal: Better in some areas….worse in others. We hope that it’ll ALL gets better.

USA Beer Better – Canadian Beer Better

Sal: If they both can do the job and get us drunk enough then both sides win!

Currently reading….which books?

Sal: Way too much of a busy schedule to read. Too bad. I barely have time to read text messages!!

Gino: Not currently reading any, but the last one I read was Nikki Sixx, The Heroin Diaries.

Thank you again for taking important time to talk to little ol’ me. Do you have any last comments for DutchMetalManiac’s readers? All the best success!

Gino: Only that the album will be released May 5th. Although you can pre order it on both iTunes or at Google Play . Make sure to check us out on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter...and to all the fans, thank you!


Tribulance Facebook
Tribulance Twitter

Review: Creeping Fear - Onward To Apocalypse

Created in late 2011, French death metallers Creeping Fear have spent their time honing their skill-set with a series live dates and well-received demos that have set the group on the path to the present day as they’re finally able to put the finishing touches on their debut effort. With their work finally able to be exposed to the public, their full-length debut was released March 3, 2017 on Dolorem Records.

From the onset, this one offers plenty of utterly enjoyable elements that come about due to the bands’ rather strong and charging atmosphere. Efforts like “Life Denied,” “Swallowed by Death” and “Spreading Disease” are fueled by strong, raging riffing that takes a ravenous, buzzsaw-style of riffing to the forefront while adding together a frantic beat to the proceedings, all of which adds together into a rather pummeling onslaught of more modern templates in the genre. When these are added together alongside efforts like “Divine Casualties,” “Trenches of Desolation” and the title track which offer more loose chugging rhythms and swirling riff-work rather than the tighter buzzsaw rhythms elsewhere throughout here and brings for a crunchy variant to the faster efforts throughout here, letting this get some nice disparate elements into their sound. The problem is these are the bands’ more epic and overlong arrangements due to the slow chugging style in the riff-work, and these are on the whole far blander than they need to be since the band has plenty to like on the more plentiful faster tracks here so even with the more enjoyable tracks taking up a majority of the album these long-winded efforts aren’t that exciting on the whole. Still, this is a debut and that doesn’t strike as big a detriment as it really deserves to be since most everything else on the record comes off enjoyable enough to overlook this.

Despite having some problems with maintaining some interest in their longer efforts here with some overlong tracks, there’s plenty to like elsewhere here with the bands’ faster and frantic material that it should be appealing to those who prefer this style of thick, crunchy death metal and can overlook the few flaws here. 7.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

Creeping Fear Facebook