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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Interview: Labyrinth Entrance

In December last year, Polish one-man black metal band Labyrinth Entrance released its debut album, called Monumental Bitterness. DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen recently interviewed sole member Hunger.

Hey, congratulations with your debut album, Monumental Bitterness. It's a great debut!

Hello and thank you for your interest in the album and positive feedback.

How does it feel to have your debut album released?

This album is very personal to me, both musically and lyrically. I am glad that I was able to release it quickly, especially that its reception is a pleasant surprise.

Who inspired you to start making music and what are your influences nowadays?

The music at Monumental Bitterness was created under the influence of many emotions and negative experiences. I composed the album literally in a week. When it comes to inspiration, Dante Alighieri and his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy and paintings by Gustave Dore, which I used in the graphic layout of the album, they both had a big influence on the concept of the album. From the musical side, I did not draw inspiration from the outside. I have all the emotions that were sitting deep inside me translated into the sounds, regardless of the diversity of genres or styles in the songs. That is why the album is difficult to classify.

Labyrinth Entrance is a one-man band. How was the idea of Labyrinth Entrance formed?

As I mentioned above, the project was created in a natural way from the need to externalize the energy accumulated in my head.

Do you think of Labyrinth Entrance as being a one-man band forever or is that something that could change?

LE is a one-man project. Maybe in the future I will invite someone to cooperate, but they will be rather ornaments, accents.

For releasing your debut you signed to Godz Ov War Productions, what makes them the best label for Labyrinth Entrance at this moment?

With Greg from GoW I knew each other already because he is the publisher of Stillborn and he was the first person I asked for a review of the instrumental version. His very positive reaction gave me a kick to finish the album and release it in the form that hit the market. Greg is very professional in what he does. Cooperation with him is pure pleasure for me.

You're also part of the other bands Horror Of Naatu and Stillborn. In what way is Labyrinth Entrance different from those bands?

HorrorOfNaatu is my first solo project in which I compose all music and invite the drummer to cooperate. Right now I am recording the first full album with the new drummer and before I will release debut EP No Hope For No One first time on official CD. HON is classic oldschool death metal. In Stillborn, I'm a bass player. My job is to come out on the stage, fucking play for the Devil and not take prisoners.

When you create something, what makes you decide for which band it will be?

When composing works by HorrorOfNaatu, I focus exclusively on this genre and do not run into other regions, while creating LE music is already a long and very atmospheric journey, multi-threaded, without frames, without restrictions. These are two very different processes. With Labyrinth Entrance, I run my entire interior, HorrorOfNaatu is just death metal, an old solid punch.

Since Labyrinth Entrance is a one-man band, do you have plans for taking it to the stage? If yes, where and when will it take place?

Labyrinth Entrance is a studio project. I do not plan concerts.

Are you already working on new material? If yes, can you already tell us something about how it will be?

I already have almost everything for the next LE album ready to enter the studio this fall. It will be completely different from Monumental Bitterness because other emotions accompanied me in creating music. The songs that will hit this album are another important chapter of my life.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Thanks for your interest in Labyrinth Entrance, it is possible to reach those who want to get to know my journey to hell.

Labyrinth Entrance Facebook

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Live review: FortaRock Day 2 at Goffertpark, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, June 2nd, 2018

After a great first day of FortaRock 2018 and a short night, time has come for the promising Saturday of this edition of FortaRock.

Around 12 o'clock today's first band kicks off. This task has been given to Mantar. Right from the start of their set they give a very heavy and loud show at the tent-stage. It can be immediately heard that the sound is much better compared to Friday's opening band, Betraying the Martyrs. Besides that, it seems like the volume is a bit louder, which really fits Mantar's show. Erinc on drums and Hanno on vocals/guitar, yes Mantar has only two members, deliver a giant dose of heavy music. Especially when you think about the fact that this is only produced by two people. The raw vocals of Hanno go through marrow and bone. In case some people were still a bit sleepy after a short night and due the fact that it was quite early at this moment, Mantar for sure wakes you up. This duo takes care of a very heavy and raw start of this promising FortaRock-Saturday in a tent which is already filling up quite well. (Tim)

Before their appearance at FortaRock I had the privilege to see Vuur, which is next, perform two times already and full disclosure, I am a fan! But that is not without reason and Vuur and Anneke once again proved this at FortaRock! Opening on the main stage the second day of the festival is not an easy task if you ask me, but Vuur does it and they do it well. From the moment the opening song Time – Rotterdam starts the crowd goes wild and the atmosphere is great. Anneke and her crew have no trouble at all entertaining the crowd to the heart’s content, like they usually do actually. But something is different today, it is like the band is on steroids or something, like they said to each other, “we have to do really well, because we are on FortaRock and we have to show the people we are!” I don’t know but it really seemed like they had even more energy than they usually have! It’s like they thought, this is our time, it has to happen now. The show, similar to Arch Enemy’s performance on Friday, was plagued by technical difficulties, granted, they were a lot smaller than the problems Arch Enemy had, but still it was noticeable. For example, guitarist Jord Otto had to walk to the side of the stage twice to check his guitar and drummer Ed Warby had some problems with his drum kit. There was also a very short moment where the sound wasn’t working. But Vuur, under strong leadership of Anneke did not let these minor issues distract them from doing their job and they delivered a pretty solid performance! Anneke and the audience feel like one, as always, she knows exactly what buttons to push to make them go all out. But if I have to be fair and objective and compare the FortaRock show with the club shows of Vuur I have already seen, then I have to say that it all looked pretty hasty to me. I even noticed that Anneke’s breathing was not always on point during the show, but seeing Anneke run zigzagging across the stage, it is no wonder that you might run a little bit out of breath from time to time. However, seeing this I do have to say I never noticed this from Anneke during the other highly energetic shows from Vuur that I’ve been to. Who knows, maybe the stress of playing at the festival and being on the clock had a part in all that, that’s very understandable because a festival show is totally different from when you are headlining a club show! Further evidence that the band gave it their all this early in the afternoon, I got when I saw bassist Johan van Stratum jumped really high while standing in the same spot and still holding his bass guitar and playing his notes! Incredible! What an energy do these guys have, it is absolutely amazing! And I think the audience noticed that too. They were very enthusiastic if you ask me! Apart from the well-known Vuur catalog, they also played two songs from Anneke’s first band The Gathering On Most Surfaces and the fan favorite Strange Machines as the closing song. Halfway into the set list The Storm was played, a track from The Gentle Storm, a collaboration project Anneke did with Arjen Lucassen from Ayreon. It’s a song that has become standard in a Vuur set list. The fact that the band closed off the set list with Strange Machines is hardly a surprise anymore, but every time they do it’s an absolute pleasure to hear this wonderful song with three electric guitars instead of one back in the old The Gathering days! (Glenn)

After Vuur opened the main stage for today, it's time for today's second band at the tent-stage. At the moment Týr begins their set the tent is already quite packed. Týr delivers a very strong show with their pagan metal, which is heavy as well as melodic. The drums might be a bit too heavy compared to the rest of the band, but not so much that it's annoying. With a bit of imagination, you can close your eyes listening to this show and you almost feel like you're on a giant Viking boat on the rough sea. Some other nice aspects of this show were Terji Skibenæs and Gunnar "Gunz" H. Thomsen accompanying Heri Joensen on the vocals. There are also quite a few nice guitar solos in their set. The non-English tracks are also very nice and the sung language fits the music perfectly. Another highlight is for example the battle-song By the Sword in My Hand. (Tim)

Dragonforce is not really my cup of tea. Regardless of that I am well aware that the band has a lot of fans, a fact that is kind of hard to miss if you look at the devoted and enthusiastic fans who came to see them at FortaRock. But even when I try to review this band objectively, which I am currently doing, I can’t ignore the fact that singer Marc Hudson was singing out of tune multiple times during the set. Sure, he has a large vocal range and he obviously did hit some high notes, but it varied a lot! The band itself and the heavy guitars sounded decent. There was a lot of screeching and guitar solos, but for me as a spectator and listener this was about the only thing that was good about the show. The power metal I have experienced in the past wasn’t really to write home about either, it is just not my thing, but at least those bands weren’t singing out of tune. If you are a fan of Dragonforce however, I can understand that you consider it to be a good show, because like I said earlier, the band does what it’s supposed to do and then it becomes a matter of whether you like the music or not, which I don’t and that doesn’t matter! What also really disappointed me was the fact that singer Marc Hudson was very passive on stage. If there was a long guitar solo he would stand on his monitor with one leg trying to entertain the crowd in a very fake American-like way. He succeeded in that, I have to give him that, but that isn’t very difficult considering there were a lot of Dragonforce fans in the audience! My opinion about the Johnny Cash cover Ring of Fire, you can probably guess right now! No, I don’t like Dragonforce at all, and maybe I’m a bit too harsh, but that is something you are free to decide for yourself! (Glenn)

During the last four non-main stage moments the visitors of FortaRock 2018 have to choose between the bands at the tent-stage or the, since this edition part of FortaRock added, theater-stage, which is at the Openluchttheater De Goffert. While Death Alley is about to open the theater-stage, we choose to go to Igorrr's show at the tent-stage. For me personally this was one of the shows I was very curious about and it for sure was worth it! Igorrr delivered a great show. With their mix of electronic music, baroque and metal, much energy is coming off of the stage constantly. Alongside Igorrr's mastermind and DJ Gautier Serre and drummer Sylvain Bouvier, Igorrr has two people delivering vocals. The male vocals are brought by Laurent Lunoir, who also has a very nice appearance due to his make-up and outfit. He gives us extremely raw, misanthropic shouts as well as low, clean vocals, both done really well. The female vocals come from classically-trained Laure Le Prunenec, and the fact that she is classically-trained is something that can be heard for sure. She delivers the higher vocals, but she is also able to deliver some hellish shouts. She in addition shows that she can move very elegantly but can also go totally crazy during the heavier parts. Apart from some little problems with the drum kit, this was a very nice, heavy, tight show. With their music and podium-performance Igorrr shows some true art during this show for sure! (Tim)

Next is Avatar. Before seeing them at FortaRock I did not know Avatar at all, that’s why I thought it would be wise to do some research and prepare myself by listening to some songs and what I heard I liked very much! But what I didn’t know was that if you come to watch Avatar, you get a lot more than just the music! Because that’s what happened when the band took the stage at FortaRock. Their new album titled Avatar Country has a medieval theme and plays with a lot of ludicrous and a not to be taken serious form of self-glorification. This already starts at the beginning of their show when the speaker calls out to the audience to take two minutes of silence for their King. This, surprisingly enough happens all in Dutch! When the speaker is done, one of the band members comes onto the stage dressed as a king wearing a Royal cape and a crown. The characteristic singer of the band, Johannes Eckerström also enters the stage, wearing his signature makeup and outfit which is best described as a mix between the Penguin and the Joker from Batman. But I have to say that he is a bit weirder than that because he could have just as easily have walked out of the Hellsing anime or perhaps American Horror Story Freak Show. I think that this last example is very applicable when thinking of the song Smells like a Freak Show. I can’t get over the fact how spot on Avatar’s overall presentation is! Even the crewmembers are dressed and act as Royal servants to the obvious Avatar King, in a very humble way they hand instruments to the Royal band members! Vocalist Johannes Eckerström triumphantly leads the whole band and despite the fact that everything that he does is deliberately comical, it doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t take this band serious. Let me explain, if you are a band like Avatar and you choose to be this big theatrical act rather than just make music, then you have to do it all the way. Nothing is “just” with Avatar. Everything is thought of through even the smallest details. The act surrounding the music serves the music rather than overshadowing it. This is very well done! This is Avatar! What you see is what you get!

Musically the band plays like a well-oiled machine. Johannes Eckerström has a hold over the audience like I have not seen very often. His vocals are easily among the best ones I have heard on FortaRock 2018 and he is also very versatile and capable of singing in various styles. From grunting to singing clean to hitting those pesky high notes, this man is a phenomenon on itself! Well, coming from somebody that before the festival hadn’t heard from this band at all anyway. The music itself goes in all directions. One moment you are listening to really hard metal and the next moment you are listening to a country song in the title track of their latest album called Avatar Country. In short, there is a lot of variation in the set list. The comical aspect which I spoke of earlier is what makes Avatar unique in the selection of bands performing at FortaRock and it is certainly a force to be reckoned with! I myself am planning to listen to this band more often and for me Avatar was the biggest surprise of FortaRock 2018!

While Baroness is playing their music at the tent-stage and For I Am King is delivering their show to the audience at the theater-stage, we chose this moment to get something to eat, to prepare for the rest of the day.

Then it was time for Alestorm! What a lot of energy does this band have! I did not see them live before FortaRock, but I did know their music. Straight to the point pirate metal and for those of you that do not know what that entails, it involves a lot of drinking, beer throwing and dancing, the metal way! Musically it isn’t all that complex and it doesn’t take itself too serious, but that is the whole point! Vocalist Christopher Bowes, dressed in a white shirt and kilt and holding a keytar in his hand, had absolutely no problem entertaining the crowd. Even if people never heard of Alestorm he, and his band of course, made sure that people wouldn’t forget them. The signature song Keelhauled serves as a well-chosen opener and the crowd knew exactly what they were going to be in for. In the middle of the stage behind the band members there hung a banner with two bananas that had a duck face on them. There was also a huge rubber duck on stage that later on in the show was thrown into the audience and was tossed around enthusiastically! To me the music comes across as a bit of Flogging Molly like but with lyrics about pirates and about the pirate life and let’s not forget the low pitched heavy metal guitars! I wasn’t able to view the whole show properly because I couldn’t get a great spot because there was such a large crowd of metal pirates before me. This way I could get a pretty good picture of what it was like to stand in the audience during one of their shows. Because of this I could also see that at a certain point the audience were sitting on the ground acting like they will rowing a boat. This is a normal thing to do at an Alestorm show as I verified later with my buddy Tim, but to see and experience it, is a whole other thing!

During the song Wolves of the Sea Heri Joensen of Tyr joined the band on stage. The fans loved it and it looked like he and Alestorm have been friends for a very long time. During a speech of vocalist Christopher Bowes, the seemed to be somewhat bored keyboard player played a small part of the intro to Game of Thrones. Fucked With an Anchor closed off the festive set list and there was a lot of singing, dancing and jumping! I wanted to see Alestorm earlier, but due to the fact that my family and friends organized a surprise party for my 30th birthday, I was unable to go. I am very happy that I got to see them on FortaRock 2018 because I think a show of Alestorm is something that you have to experience for yourself. It’s a big ass metal party and trying to explain how it must’ve been like to people who were not there remains a challenge. (Glenn)

While Thy Art Is Murder is trying to destroy the theater-stage, we went to Satyricon's show at the tent-stage. This band was also part of the line-up of FortaRock's first festival-edition, back in 2009. Right after the symphonic, ominous, horror-like intro, Satyricon goes full throttle. Tracks like the faster-paced Now, Diabolical as well as the bit slower-paced, new tracks like Deep Calleth Upon Deep and To Your Brethren in the Dark are part of tonight's set list. There is very much energy coming off of this tight, heavy show. Led by front man Satyr with his raw, powerful voice and accompanied by his iconic microphone stand, Satyricon truly delivers a show that is as solid as a rock.

The next band, Opeth, is the last main stage-band before the headliner of FortaRock 2018. During their set Opeth gives the audience heavier parts with deep grunts as well as some a bit calmer, more melodic parts with some clean vocals. Especially the guitars and the keyboard regularly add some progressive vibes to the music. However, Opeth's show is very guitar-driven. Opeth's guitarists show that they are very good at playing their instruments, whether they play with distortion as well as without it. This, combined with the solid drums delivers a solid show to the many people watching them.

Before the headliner show of FortaRock 2018 at the main stage, there are still two bands on today's bill. While Meshuggah is destroying the tent-stage, we went to the show of Dutch band Dool at the theater-stage. The half-rounded, upward permanent tribune of the Openluchttheater is packed and Dool shows how to give an energetic show right from the start of their set. During the first track the bass is a bit too loud in the mix, but luckily this is fixed very soon. Dool knows how to deliver a perfect show for sure. Due to the energy they put in their show, combined with their music and the haunting vocals of Ryanne van Dorst, their show is very awesome and hypnotizing. The fact that the overall sound is very clear (besides the bass at the first moments of course) also contributes to this. This was a very nice show by a very nice, promising Dutch band and based on the loud applauding during and at the end of the show, lots of people seemed to agree with that. (Tim)

Then it was finally time for Nightwish, the band I personally looked forward to the most. I saw them for the first time in 2015 in the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam. This was the first time I ever saw them. But this FortaRock weekend I had the strong feeling that Nightwish would really go all out. This, because lead singer Floor Jansen told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that the band would make it a special show because it had been a while since they were on a Dutch metal festival and were back in the Netherlands. Well, let’s just say they did not disappoint! Full disclosure, I have become a big Nightwish fan since Floor Jansen joined the band. I didn’t like Nightwish at all prior to that. I know many fans might disagree with me, but I rather hear Floor sing in Nightwish than one of her two predecessors! I especially like the fact that their show was going to be a trip down memory lane due to the release of their new Decades album. Songs from every period in Nightwish’s history graced the set list. All sang by the charismatic and energetic Floor, who also had a big dose of humor! The show started with the song End of all Hope. I was ecstatic because I have always wanted to hear Floor sing that song.

But I will try to be somewhat objective now. It is absolutely unbelievable what Nightwish as a collective can achieve. Under the leadership of Floor’s unmatched vocals, the band is a massive force on stage, playing one golden oldie after another. And I don’t know if there are still people who doubt if Floor is still treated as newcomer in the band, let me tell you one thing, she is absolutely adored by all the members in the band! The band truly kept its word and gave it their all. There were so many flames that it actually looked like the whole band was on fire! Not only there were vertical flames but there were also diagonal flames, smoke, a lot of fireworks and an intense light show. There was also a massive screen that showed beautiful artwork corresponding to the song that was played at that moment. All these things together made for the fact that Nightwish was a worthy headliner. The beautiful visuals supported the songs so well that it truly created the mystical and epic atmosphere you need at a Nightwish show.

Classics like Ghost Love Score and Nemo were sung by Floor like they were never sang before and like I said, I don’t think that there was anybody in the audience that wanted one of the two old singers back. That the band shares my opinion is underlined even more by the fact that bassist Marco Hietala took the time to tell the audience that Floor won the Buma Rocks export award for bringing music to other countries as a Dutch artist. Floor got the award presented earlier that day at FortaRock. Marco and the other band members were glowing with pride and Marco told Floor that this momentous occasion needed to be toasted with wine and that, if they didn’t have any wine, he or one of the other band members would get some for their beloved front lady, because Floor he said, that is how we treat you! Despite there being a comical note in his remark I am sure he meant it. The band is very happy with Floor and vice versa! In the set list there was also room for songs from the most recent album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, the only studio album so far with Floor Jansen on vocals. The quiet and catchy Elan surprisingly appears in the set list amidst all the bombastic and heavy-duty songs. Then it is time for the extreme complex and epic 24 minute during The Greatest Show on Earth. I swear to you, composer and mastermind behind Nightwish Tuomas Holopainen should have a statue erected solely for writing and composing this song! It still remains one of my favorite songs of the band and the way Floor carries this song is absolutely phenomenal. But after this it still wasn’t over. Nightwish closed this massive set list off with the longtime fan favorite and earlier mentioned Ghost Love Score. Floor shows the audience one last time this evening that she and she alone is the number one front woman of Nightwish. She really sings like there is no tomorrow. During the show Floor also tells the audience that she and the band are coming back to the Netherlands this November for a show in the Ziggo Dome! If that show is going to be just as great or even bigger than the show on FortaRock, then to me November can’t come fast enough! (Glenn)

Written by Glenn van der Heijden and Tim van Velthuysen, photos by Jimmy Israel

Also, be sure to check our album reviews of Alestorm's No Grave But The Sea (here), Avatar's Feathers & Flesh (here) as well as Vuur's In This Moment We Are Free - Cities (here). You can also read our earlier live reviews of Dool (here), Nightwish (here) as well as Vuur (here). We also did interviews with FortaRock's Freek Koster (here), Vuur's Anneke van Giersbergen (here and here). Furthermore we also mentioned Vuur in two parts of Promoting Bands (here and here).

FortaRock Official Website
FortaRock Facebook
FortaRock Twitter
Nightwish Official Website
Nightwish Facebook
Nightwish Twitter
Dool Official Website
Dool Facebook
Opeth Official Website
Opeth Facebook
Opeth Twitter
Satyricon Official Website
Satyricon Facebook
Satyricon Twitter
Alestorm Official Website
Alestorm Facebook
Alestorm Twitter
Avatar Official Website
Avatar Facebook
Avatar Twitter
Igorrr Official Website
Igorrr Facebook
Igorrr Twitter
Dragonforce Official Website
Dragonforce Facebook
Dragonforce Twitter
Týr Official Website
Týr Facebook
Týr Twitter
Vuur Official Website
Vuur Facebook
Vuur Twitter
Mantar Official Website
Mantar Facebook
Mantar Twitter

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Live review: FortaRock Day 1 at Goffertpark, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, June 1st, 2018

It finally was that time again! Unfortunately, last year there was no FortaRock in the Gofferpark in Nijmegen, but luckily there is another nice edition of this metal-festival this year. FortaRock 2018 took place on June 1st and 2nd. On Friday June 1st, the gates opened around half past two.

There were a lot of announcements surrounding FortaRock, one of these announcements was that the FortaRock-area would be changed compared to earlier editions. When we entered the area, this indeed was very clear to see. Almost everything is placed along the borders of the area, which creates a lot of free space in the middle of it. This way the FortaRock-area becomes a very clear and open space, with almost no place being annoyingly busy. Due to these changes nearly everything is close by and easy to walk to without missing too much.

An hour after the gates of FortaRock 2018 opened it is time for the first show of this Friday, taking place at the tent-stage. Betraying the Martyrs got the task to kick off FortaRock 2018. Betraying the Martyrs start their set with a pretty catchy intro, but of course the heavy breakdowns are soon added. At the beginning of their set, the sound isn't that great, but luckily this changed during their second track. Something that keeps returning in Betraying the Martyrs' music is the catchy aspect also included in the intro. Especially Victor Guillet with his keyboard takes care of this. He also is responsible for the clean vocals, which will be combined with the lower growls of Aaron Matts. There are also a few guitar solos hidden in their set, but unfortunately these can't be heard that well. I have to admit, Betraying the Martyrs is not totally my kind of music, but with their big dose of energy and their pretty poppy, but fitting lightshow, of course combined with their music, they do what they are good at. This even resulting in the first mosh pit of FortaRock 2018.

When we arrive at the main stage, where the next band will soon start playing, there is a nasty smell in the air. However, for the soon starting band and their fans this doesn't matter. Screeching guitars, that's what matters now, fuck that smell! With the band that is opening the main stage today, the Bay Area-hailing thrash metallers of Death Angel, those screeching guitars will be present for sure. This Death Angel show will be their only Dutch show during this summer, so they give their Dutch fans a very tight, solid and heavy show. Sometimes the sound is a little bit affected by the wind, this however doesn't influence the energy coming off of this show. The musicians of Death Angel move a lot on stage and they have a lot of contact with their fans. Besides the screeching guitars and the fast thrash metal of Death Angel, there is also some space in their set for some nice guitar solos, while vocalist Mark Osegueda proves that he is able to take care of some heavy vocal screams several times. The tracks Voracious Souls and Thrown to The Wolves are, just like the bit more melodic track Lost, very well received by the audience. After the last-mentioned Lost, Death Angel goes full throttle for one last time with their closing track: The Moth.

While, after Death Angel's set, Suffocation delivers a brutal show at the tent-stage, we chose this moment to take care of our stomachs. The quality of the food at FortaRock was very good. Of course, we can only tell you this about the grilled cheese sandwiches and the frites/snacks, since we didn't eat any of the other food that was available at the festival, of which were quite a lot. (Tim)

Body Count had a lot of fans in the audience and due to the fact that they began with two songs of one of metals biggest bands Slayer, Raining Blood and Postmortem, they just couldn’t go wrong. Body Count was a whole new experience for me. Sure, I did some research and listened to some songs, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to hear and see. It was also the first time that I was at a big festival as a journalist plus I had never been to FortaRock in my life. And getting to know Body Count as one of the first bands there certainly did not disappoint. Body Count, to me anyway, is a perfect mix between hip-hop and metal. Heavy low tuned guitars and powerful drums are the basis of Body Count's music accompanied with some screeching guitar solos. Everything under profound leadership of Mr. Ice-T himself. I personally wouldn’t associate him with metal music but after some research I came to know that he’s been doing this for quite some time. And let me tell you, it shows! Generally, rapper Ice-T remains a rapper to the core, but he puts on the metal music like a custom fitted leather jacket!

All the songs are pretty straightforward heavy metal songs with rap vocals and they all have a pretty clear message to tell. This message is that everybody needs to be treated equally and that everyone should respect that people are different. The song No Lives Matter really gets this message across to the audience, but this is also true for most of the other songs where there’s a critical view of the society we live in nowadays. Lead guitarist Ernie C. showcases some mighty fine guitar solos and the rhythm section of the band is also pretty tight. How the band presented themselves however can be considered messy at best. I am not talking about the music though, I am talking about the fact that each band member at first glance seems to be doing their own individual thing. While at the same time saying we are Body Count and this is what we do and if you don’t like it then just don’t come and see us. That every bad member was an individual was underlined by the fact that they all looked very unique. For example, one of the guitarists, who was new in the band had a cool looking mouth mask while another member had a complete facemask. But I think that their diversity was precisely their point. And it falls perfectly in line with their lyrics and music. I regret that I can’t say much about the technical aspects of their music, but what I can say is that what they’re doing comes across as very professional even though it doesn’t always look like it is. These guys know exactly what they’re capable of! I enjoyed Body Count very much and I am glad that I got to know them! (Glenn)

When Body Count just played their last notes, the tent-stage is about to burst open into evilness. It is time for the evil black metal from Watain! After a short orchestral intro, different candles are lighted with a torch. The stage is looking very great with flags, candles, fire and inverted crosses all included. Soon after this intro, and the accompanied lighting of the candles, the pounding drums and wall of guitars breaks loose. Combined with Erik Danielsson's misanthropic vocals, this is as evil as it can possibly be. The very fitting, mostly red, lightshow also adds another nice layer to this. This evilness reaches its absolute height when front man Erik throws some blood over the front-row audience. Luckily the sound is much better than during the first (and our only so far) show at the tent-stage (Betraying the Martyrs). When looking at the Friday line-up of FortaRock 2018 I personally was mostly looking forward to the shows of Watain and Kreator. Of course, Kreator's show is still upcoming, but Watain surely did fulfill my expectations with their evil show! (Tim)

The first time that I saw Arch Enemy, the next band, was at the Heineken Music Hall where they opened for Nightwish. Despite the fact that I always thought it wasn’t really my kind of music, I have to come back from that. Because ever since I saw them with front woman Alissa White-Gluz, I knew that Arch Enemy was one of the bands I would enjoy the most on the FortaRock Friday. But sadly, things didn’t go quite as I expected them to go. This was due to the fact that Arch Enemy’s set was plagued by severe technical problems. When during the song The Race the sound went completely silent, the audience could only hope for a quick recovery. When the sound is turned on again after a short period of time, the band tried to continue The Race, however, shortly after they started the song, the sound went silent again. I think that the crew tried to turn on the same amp that a while ago seemed to have short fuse. Not a great idea if you ask me, but I do understand that as a crew you want to make sure that your festival set can resume without a pretty big delay because when you’re on a festival you are pretty much on the clock. But it didn’t influence Arch Enemy’s performance very much, on the contrary, the song The Race was stoically finished after the sound went silent for the first time. It might have looked a bit weird, but hey, what else can you do as a band? I think Arch Enemy did a very professional job and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes when something like this happens! After the sound was restored again they continued their set list like nothing happened.

Let’s talk about the music then. My opinion about Arch Enemy is pretty simple. It is a great band with amazingly powerful vocals, tight ass guitar riffs and a straight to the point attitude! Despite everything that happened the band had absolutely no problem in serving the crowd what they came for. The stage presence of the band is amazing and the incredible energy of front woman White-Gluz is beyond admirable! It is clear that the band is not to be stopped, not even when things don’t go the way they want them to go, after all, they came to give a great show for their fans and the rest of the FortaRock audience and also to enjoy the show and believe me, that they did! It might not be the best first impression if you are new to this band, but look at it from this angle, now you do know that they are very professional and a force to be reckoned with! The Eagle Flies Alone remains one of my favorite Arch Enemy songs. (Glenn)

The next band at the tent-stage is already the closing band for today, when it comes to the tent-stage. This place is given to the German thrashers of Kreator. What a great show they played! Besides the great stage-decor and the big, very intense lightshow, Kreator plays a hell of a heavy, tight and extremely fast set. It all start immediately with their opening track: Phantom Antichrist. Almost immediately it is very clear that this will be a great, intense show. The screeching guitars, the pounding drums and the raw vocals of Mille Petrozza crush through marrow and bone during this all-destroying show. Of course there is also some space for some nice guitar solos and Kreator also adds some extra show-aspects such as confetti, big doses of smoke (for example during Phobia) and fire (for example during Satan Is Real). During the track Fallen Brothers Kreator remembers musicians who are unfortunately no longer among us. Quite a few of these musicians can be seen on the screen behind the band, some examples of them being Lemmy, Chuck, Dio and Bowie. Like I already said earlier, I personally was looking forward to Watain and Kreator the most when it came to the Friday line-up. Watain already fulfilled my expectations, Kreator for sure did too.

Today's headliner is the Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive. Musically this isn't what I liked the most, but Parkway Drive for sure delivers quite a great show. The sometimes a bit catchy sounding metalcore results in a lot of energy and enthusiasm for a lot of people. A big audience is coming to see Parkway Drive's show with a big part of them going crazy. Parkway Drive plays a tight set with a lot of energy. When it comes to show-aspects Parkway Drive is also doing a great job. There are a lot of flames, over the audience as well as vertically into the air, even above the stage top. These Australians also brought a lot of fireworks with them. Drummer Ben Gordon, together with his drum kit sits, in some sort of cage, which is spinning around periodically. At the end of their show Parkway Drive really sets the stage on fire, literally! The flames across the whole stage can be seen clearly and even the afore-mentioned drummer-cage is on fire, while still spinning around at times. Parkway Drive finally ends their set with a lot of fireworks and proves to be a worthy headliner for this first day of FortaRock 2018! (Tim)

Be sure to come back tomorrow for our live review of FortaRock's second day!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden and Tim van Velthuysen, photos by Jimmy Israel

Also, be sure to check our album reviews of Arch Enemy's Will To Power (here) and As The Stages Burn! (here) as well as a live review of their aforementioned Heineken Music Hall show here. You can also read our album review of Betraying The Martyrs' Phantom (here) as well as an article about the metalscene in Nijmegen including an interview with FortaRock's Freek Koster here.

FortaRock Official Website
FortaRock Facebook
FortaRock Twitter
Parkway Drive Official Website
Parkway Drive Facebook
Parkway Drive Twitter
Kreator Official Website
Kreator Facebook
Kreator Twitter
Arch Enemy Official Website
Arch Enemy Facebook
Arch Enemy Twitter
Watain Official Website
Watain Facebook
Body Count Official Website
Body Count Facebook
Ice-T Twitter
Death Angel Official Website
Death Angel Facebook
Betraying The Martyrs Official Website
Betraying The Martyrs Facebook
Betraying The Martyrs Twitter

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Maiden United - Empire Of The Clouds

The new EP from Maiden United has arrived! And what a beauty it has become! Since I was present at the Carré show on 27 January this year, I already knew that it was Empire of the Clouds, the well-known and lengthy Iron Maiden classic, because during the Carré show, Maiden United played their version of this song for the first time. It was sung by singer Wudstik who absolutely did an amazing job that night. The EP of Empire of the Clouds consists of two parts, the studio version and the live version as it was played in Royal theater Carré.

When listening to it for the first time it immediately becomes clear that great care and professionalism went into making this EP. Everything about the beautiful arrangements is worked out in the smallest details and played with a lot of dedication. After a spoken intro by narrator Edward Reekers, known for his work in Ayreon, who returns a couple more times to narrate the story about the zeppelin the R101, the completely instrumental intro called “part one” is being build up. The Hammond of Thijs Schrijnemakers, piano of Huub van Loon, cello of Perttu Kivilaakso, Joey Bruers on bass guitar and a subtle acoustic guitar by Ruud Jolie. The drums at the end of part one by Mike Coolen are very elegant.

But I have to say that the sound of Perttu Kivilaakso’s cello is what really stands out. It adds this whole orchestral feeling to what you are hearing, like there is a whole orchestra supporting the band! It also gives that little bit of extra to the already beautiful arrangements. Huub’s recurring piano accords also really stand out and form the base of Empire of the Clouds. In “part two” it’s finally time for the earlier mentioned singer Wudstik to show what he is capable of. His vocals are really raw, but at the same time he has a tremendous control over his voice, he knows exactly what to do when. He continues the story where narrator Edward Reekers has stopped. You know, I can try to tell you what the EP sounds like and how beautiful it is, but truthfully, it wouldn’t do it justice. If you ask me the central power of this whole thing is that it is build up so well. From start to finish the journey of the R101 is being told through music, so when the climactic moment of the crash is there, the music heavily intensifies. Especially the drums of Mike Coolen and Perttu Kivilaakso’s cello.

When narrator Edward Reekers tells about the moment of the crash and the aftermath the music calms down and receives a heavy melancholic sound. Where at the beginning of the EP, with the zeppelin’s departure, the music sounded very hopeful.

If you ask me, then Maiden United’s Empire of the Clouds is a beautifully crafted and genius acoustic arrangement of a majestic Iron Maiden classic. Maiden United succeeded in making it their own without cultivating the feeling that such a beautiful song has “just” been covered! No, nothing is “just” with Maiden United and this awesome EP is evidence of that! Regarding the live part of the EP I can only say that I’ve been there myself and that the vocals are even better performed live! What a fantastic singer is this gentleman. The fact that he supposedly was a bit overwhelmed by the beautiful Royal theater Carré, well, for me as a listener, I have found absolutely no evidence of that! The only downside to the live version was that the beautiful cello of Perttu Kivilaakso wasn’t there. I would advise every music lover to listen to this EP and not only the heartfelt Iron Maiden fans. But I know for sure that they would love it to!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden

Here you can also read the interview we did earlier with Maiden United's Joey Bruers.

Maiden United Official Website
Maiden United Facebook
Maiden United Twitter

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Review: Siksided - Leave No Stone Unturned

Ciao ragazzi da Trieste! Love the place! Focaccia forever! And your record is just as tasty.

I won’t insult you as your briefing memo says (haha) but this is what I’m going to constructively say!

The opening tune Disposable Livings thunders nicely and has a nice staccato to it. Leaf is excellent as song and great on the mellow day’s playlist. Fragments is a little ploddy for me but awesome scream at 2:31!

Meant To Be is a greatly written piece and a good, relaxing listener. Wicked howl and tempo change at 3:46 and onwards! Great stuff here as you do grunge a better homage than some actual grunge songs themselves!

Sick drum-tro and bass on Charon! A fantastic Tool-like feel to this song and is now my fave! Outstanding, feverish bit at 3:27 till end!

Love the prog length and feel to New Saviour. This is a thorough sound belter that should please any musical taste with its stylish rhythmic changes and harsh-ass vox. I wish there would have been more chug-chugging like at 6:14, but that exit scream at 5:58…yea!

Overall, I like this metalish-fusion record (or whatever) and you’ve clearly put a lot of hard work into it. The vibe is not my usual groove but you hit the right chords of Audioslave, Monster Magnet, Tool, Days of the New and the like. There are some hints of metal but this disc stands in its own category. Darker and gloomier than I’d prefer but very well done and a great listen!


Written by Alessandro

Siksided Facebook

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Interview: Absque Cor

In November last year, Polish one-man black metal band Absque Cor released its debut album, called Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć. DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen recently interviewed sole member Vos.

Hey, congratulations with your, last year released, debut album, Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć. It's a great debut!

You are welcome.

How does it feel to have your debut album released?

I don't really 'feel' this world, so I think releasing this album didn't affected on me quite much. I appreciate it very much, but I think releasing this album is only motivation to work more on composing next thoughts.

Absque Cor is a one-man band. How was the idea of Absque Cor formed?

I was in a band with the drummer and bassist from Preludium (from my hometown) and I felt that we were not doing good with ourselves. We understood each other very good, but we were staying in one place, so I get myself only, and just put some life situations into music, then recorded it.

Do you think of Absque Cor as being a one-man band forever or is that something that could change?

I don't really like to guess like that, but I have a band, so I think Absque Cor will be only my own project for the next couple of years, and then we will see.

You already recorded Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć in December 2015, what was the reason for waiting to release it until November 2017?

I was doing this album for myself only, and really start with mix/mastering from then, so I didn't thought that someone will like that music and want to release it. I have ended mastering like after a year from releasing (I don't have full time access to professional assets like monitors and adapted room, so I must do it partially, some at home and some at studio) and because of my friend which made me up to send it for some labels.

Your lyrics are all in Polish. When you compare writing lyrics in English with writing lyrics in another language, what made you decide to do them in Polish, besides of course that it is your mother tongue?

All lyrics are in Polish, because I feel being the most free, singing in my native language. Absque Cor is just me, and I feel like using another language is passing the point and doing something against myself.

I translated them with Google Translate. There is very much negativity in it, where does that come from?

Like I told before, all music and words are just some situations put up into music. Nothing more, nothing less.

For releasing Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć you signed with Godz Ov War Productions. What makes them the best label for Absque Cor at this moment?

I don't know which label is the best for Absque Cor. I really just wanted to have a physical CD in my hands, and after my friend's suggestion I sent it to some labels from Poland, and I was very surprised, that one of answering labels was Godz ov War, because Greg is doing very good job from the beginning and he keeps up with high level of his releases. I don't think Absque Cor is quite high level, but like I said, I appreciate this chance very much.

Since Absque Cor is a one-man band, do you have plans for taking it to the stage? If yes, where and when will it take place?

No, I don't have plans like that. I have a band and the guys I'm playing with, have motivation to play live. I don't really like playing live, but I don't want to block them.

Are you already working on new material? If yes, can you already tell us something about how it will be?

Yes, I'm working on something new. I have some plans about it, there are thoughts written down, it won't be that much dark as Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć, but it won't be 'happy' also. I don't have much written down yet, I lean on guitar when I write Absque Cor, so I don't think about how ideas will sound when I put them together with drums and bass. Maybe I will have to do many changes, so I don't know when it will be recorded.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Thanks for your time.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: NMAC - Split Second

"Nu-Metal is dead, long live Nu-Metal" it says on top of the short biography of NMAC in their press kit. So, what's the case? Is Nu-Metal dead or not? To be honest the sentence they used perfectly summarizes NMAC. I will get back to this at the end of this review.

For now: Who are NMAC? Andy (vocals), Fedor, Ingo (both guitar), Max (bass) and Andy (drums) are five guys from Cologne, Germany. Together they form the band that was founded at the end of 2016 and they play, you probably already guessed it, Nu-Metal. NMAC released their first EP, First Strike, in March 2017. Now, First Strike has a successor, an EP titled Split Second, released on February 10.

Split Second contains five tracks and an outro with an instrumental interlude in between. Opener Inside/Outside starts with a typical guitar sound as an intro which is repeated a few times in this track. After the intro NMAC is unleashed and grooving drums, heavy guitars and a funky, heavy bass-sound can be heard. Vocal-wise we get to hear clean vocals as well as growls. At some moments these vocals are brought in a very filthy way as in, for example, some moments of Allegiance. Personally I dig Andy's growls a bit more than his clean vocals, but that is a matter of taste, because both are of good quality. Sometimes Andy even proofs that he is also able to rap a bit, for example in the more nu-metal-like Battle Ready.

After the first three tracks it is time for the instrumental interlude, entitled Diverse EXXXtreme. This interlude almost sounds like reggae with some added electro-sounds.

With the next, and last, two tracks, Detached and Bulldozer, NMAC again goes crazy. While Detached is more standing out because of its tempo-changes, Bulldozer is a very strong track with a highly energetic intro. I guess this track will be killer during live shows, what an energy comes off of this one! After Andy sung "Get out of the way bitch, move!" the audience can go completely crazy screaming "Move!"

After Bulldozer it is time for the outro of Split Second. This outro is pretty much going towards hip hop and is called Trendkill Trinity.

Is Nu-Metal dead or not? That is the question I promised to get back at. I don't think that Nu-Metal is dead, but I do think that it has changed. NMAC for sure makes that clear on Split Second. During listening to this EP you will probably get a bit of a nostalgic '90s-feeling at some times, but it is brought to you wrapped in a modern cover. That's why the aforementioned sentence "Nu-Metal is dead, long live Nu-Metal" perfectly summarizes NMAC. Good job!

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

NMAC Official Website
NMAC Facebook