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Friday, December 22, 2017

DutchMetalManiac End Of Year Lists 2017

Hey DutchMetalManiac readers,

First of all, thanks for reading our articles and I hope you will also enjoy our upcoming articles! :)

At this moment I also want to thank DutchMetalManiac's writers Glenn, Henric, Martijn, Julia, Alessandro and Joost as well as our former writers.

Of course, I also want to thank all the bands, labels, promoters, venues, because without them DutchMetalManiac couldn't exist.

Personally, I also want to thank the love of my life for supporting me and DutchMetalManiac.

Below you can find our end of the year lists 2017, they are very diverse. There are only three bands that are mentioned twice.

We'll have a short break from now on and we will be back on January 2nd for a very metal 2018! \m/

So, enjoy our end of the year lists and hopefully we'll see you back in 2018.

Merry Xmas and a happy new year full of metal to you!


Tim van Velthuysen

End Of Year Lists 2017

Henric van Essen

1. Wintersun - The Forest Seasons
2. Chrysilia - Et In Arcadia Ego (review)
3. Nachtblut - Apostasie (interview)
4. Maglor - Asunder
5. Black Messiah - Walls Of Vanaheim
6. The Charm The Fury - The Sick, Dumb & Happy (live review Arnhem, review, interview, live review Amsterdam)
7. Vinegar Hill - Ghost Flowers (review)
8. Ex Deo - The Immortal Wars
9. Ithilien - Shaping The Soul (review, interview)
10. Borealis - World Of Silence MMXVII

Joost van der Leij

1. The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
2. Amenra - Mass VI
3. Navier Gene - Navier Gene (review)
4. While She Sleeps - You Are We
5. Fit For An Autopsy - The Great Collapse
6. Decapitated - Anticult
7. Wintersun - The Forest Seasons
8. The Black Dahlia Murder - Nightbringers (review earlier album)
9. Destroyer Of Light - Chambers Of Horrors
10. Deez Nuts - Binge & Purgatory


1. Prismind - Disciples By Design (review, live review Toronto, interview, Promoting Bands)
2. Tribulance - Aftermath Of Lies (review, interview)
3. Charlie's Frontier Fun Town - In Dust We Trust (review)
4. Haster - The Current Sea (review, interview)
5. Annihilator - For The Demented
6. Sepultura - Machine Messiah
7. Secret Sphere - The Nature Of Time
8. Kreator - Gods Of Violence
9. Accept - The Rise Of Chaos
10. Overkill - The Grinding Wheel (live review Utrecht)

Julia Obenauer

1. Katla - Modurastin (Promoting Bands, review, interview)
2. Skálmöld - Vögguvísur Yggdrasils (review, live review Munchen)
3. Mors Principium Est - Embers Of A Dying World (review)
4. Solstafir - Berdreyminn (live review Haarlem)
5. Alice Cooper - Paranormal
6. Kreator - Gods Of Violence
7. Dead End Finland - Slaves To The Greed (review)
8. Jotnar - Connected/Condemned (review, interview)
9. Nephren-Ka - La Grande Guerre De l’Epice (review)
10. NORD - Alpha (review)

Tim van Velthuysen

1. The Charm The Fury - The Sick, Dumb & Happy (live review Arnhem, review, interview, live review Amsterdam)
2. Striker - Striker (review, interview)
3. Hallatar - No Stars Upon The Bridge (Promoting Bands)
4. Myrkur - Mareridt (Promoting Bands, live review Amsterdam, review)
5. Vuur - In This Moment We Are Free - Cities (interview, Promoting Bands, Promoting Bands, live review Eindhoven, review, interview)
6. Kobra And The Lotus - Prevail I (review, interview)
7. Prong - Zero Days (live review Eindhoven)
8. Odradek Room - A Man Of Silt
9. Akercocke - Renaissance In Extremis
10. F.K.Ü. - 1981

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Review: Kval - Kval

In 2015 this album saw the light under the name of Khaossos. This year sees a re-recording of the album under the name Kval, a one-man project of atmospheric black metal.

Four long, heavy songs form the base of this 43 minute album, with three ambient-style introductions and interludes.

In all fairness the introduction could be any darkish new age. Nice and haunting in a way, but without raising awe. Second on the album comes the song Sokeus, where the only reference to ‘atmospheric’ is the acoustic guitar at the end of the song. The rest of the song is plain black metal, playing it loud will easily drain all happy memories from the mind!

After these two songs the albums starts getting more depth and song structures become more varied. Still dark, still black, but more atmospheric in my opinion and much nicer to listen to, also for ‘non-black metal minded’ people.

I think it was a good idea to re-record and re-name. Khaossos would suggest more chaos, where Kval -even without knowing any Finnish- has a colder and darker sensation, fitting the music well.

The artwork of the album, coming in a nice digi-pack, and the special pack with white (?!! Welcome to the black metal world 😉!! ) T-shirt makes buying this album a nice treat. Not the best album in the world, but a nice addition to the collection.

Written by Martijn Bakker

Kval Facebook

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: King Witch - Under The Mountain

King Witch, what’s in a name, was formed in 2015 in Edinburgh, Scotland consisting of Jamie Gilchrist on guitar, Joe Turner on bass, Lyle Brown on drums and last but not least Laura Donnelly as vocalist. They have their musical boundaries set by, but not limited to a mix of old school heavy metal and classic seventies rock. They wasted no time and released an EP called Shoulders Of Giants in the blink of an eye. Despite them being a new band when it saw the light of day, it received overwhelmingly positive reviews, comparing the band’s work to the likes of a wide range of giants such as Black Sabbath, Mastodon and Candlemass. Surely flattering, but on the other hand it sets expectations very high for the future. Whether those expectations are met always remains to be seen, many a band has succumbed to the pressure of succeeding a great first release. This is the time to find out if these guys are here to stay, because they are now ready to give the world another taste of King Witch’s brew with their maiden full-length release called Under The Mountain.

One of the first things that comes to mind when opener Beneath The Waves blasts from the speakers indeed is the term ‘old school metal’. This is primarily due to the heavily set guitar work and the typical riffs. Vocal wise the work of Laura Donnelly perfectly suits this eighties flashback, her impressive throat is capable of matching about every heavy metal vocalist of that era you can think of. Of course having a great vocal range is one thing, knowing when and how to use it is a totally different ballgame. Well, rest assured Laura comes equally close to scoring a perfect 10 in that department as well. There is no such thing as perfection, but technically her vocals come awfully close. And then it all comes down to whether you dig her vocal style or not. I think many metal fans will, but for fans of the old school style this will be a real treat.

Having such a power house as vocalist inevitably draws a lot of attention to the vocal lines which might underexpose the contribution of the other three members. To avoid that you need seriously capable musicians to counter attack and optimize the songs and King Witch happens to have three such musicians among their ranks. All three of them score similarly high as the vocals in their respective fields of expertise. Jamie maneuvers his guitar strings at will, casting his riffs in whatever rhythm he sees fit, and the backbone of King Witch, consisting of the tandem Joe and Lyle, keeps things logical and coherent without containing it too much. The music, like the vocal lines, ranges from slow, almost held back to fierce, fast and powerful. A lot of time has obviously been put in construction and composition, which is clearly audible in every single song.

Under The Mountain brings you almost three quarters of an hour of modern played metal based on old school composing techniques. Almost every common heavy genre from back in the day is present in any form, some in complete songs, some only as a subtle influence expertly tucked away in a song structure. For example Possession and Carnal Sacrifice will make you relive the golden days of thrash, while Under The Mountain is a reminder to the pure heavy metal from the days of yore. There’s some doom to be found in Solitary and Approaching The End and even the obligatory power ballad makes an appearance in the form of Ancients with its bluesy undertones. So not only the music, but the entire structure of the album itself can be considered old school.

Now, as far as the earlier mentioned comparisons go, I do see and, more importantly, hear what they are based on, the influence of the aforementioned bands on King Witch’s music is unmistakable. However, the guys and girl of King Witch managed to merge all those influences into coherent, more or less unique sounding music, rendering those comparisons pretty much useless in my opinion. All you can extract from those comparisons is that this is a must-hear when you’re a fan of old school metal, but I think it could very well be considered a must-hear for many more fans of heavy music. Give it a shot and let this great release unfold itself.

Written by Henric van Essen

King Witch Facebook

Monday, December 18, 2017

Interview: Decatur

In October, Canadian metallers Decatur released their debut album, called Badder Than Brooklyn. DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen spoke with Decatur's vocalist/guitarist Jay "Beard" Sarrazin about the album, their earlier name change, among other things.

Hey, congratulations on your new album, Badder Than Brooklyn, I really like it. How are the reactions you get on it so far?

Hey thanks so much! So far we have been getting great reactions from the fans and media. People for the most part are getting into it right away which is awesome because we weren’t sure what the reaction was going to be. We took some chances on this record and it seems that it has paid off for us. We couldn’t be happier with the reception from everyone.

A year ago Decatur was formed by a name change for the previous band, Caym. What was the reason for this and what is it that makes Decatur different from Caym?

Ya, it’s funny because we did enter the studio as Caym. At that time we were playing under the name Caym, touring the Canadian circuit. But I (Jay “Beard” Sarrazin) was the only original member from Caym. And even though I am the primary writer for Caym and Decatur, this album was sounding different than anything Caym ever did. That had a lot to do with the new members (Tiny Basstank and Steve “Animal” Mitchell) that had joined me over the last couple years in Caym. Their styles are their own and when I was writing this record with them that definitely came into the mix of what it was sounding like. When we were in the studio is when we realized it isn’t Caym. Those members aren’t Caym members and the sound is new. So it only made sense to begin our new band together. The way that it’s different is a combination of so many things but mostly would be the song writing style. We used to be heavier and more aggressive, but when we started writing this record we wanted to reach a different goal. We wanted to write a metal record everyone could dig just good songs, actual songs and an actual album. Not just a single and filler. We also didn’t want to just shred and blast beat all over the place. Our taste has refined in our age and time as musicians and we are trying to accomplish different goals as musicians and song writers.

To someone who hasn't heard Decatur's music before, how would you describe your music?

I’d have to say groovy. Just good songs you can sing along to at times or pick up your guitar and play to. It’s a traditional style of metal so it should be very familiar to all ages young and older. We try to add different elements as well, branching from different genres and styles of music. But if you’re looking for a record that you can bang your head to and turn up in your car then you found the right record.

What are your musical influences?

There are so many to list because all of us come from such different backgrounds. You can find us listening to literally every kind of music. It’s not odd to have Michael Jackson or The Beatles or Post Malone or Drake or Cannibal Corpse or The Black Dahlia Murder playing in our tour van. It literally jumps that much from genre to genre. But when it comes to our music it’s pretty inspired by the legendary metal bands. Metallica, Pantera, Black Sabbath, Gojira, Lamb Of God, Unearth, Killswitch Engage. These are bands that are tried and true to us. Bands that have always been a part of our lives.

Where do you get inspiration from lyric-wise?

To be honest there is only one thing that really inspires my lyrics, my life. I am a big advocate for being as true to yourself and being you as much as possible. I don’t do this to impress people or write what someone else wants to hear. I write my lyrics to vent and heal. Our first record had an obvious connection to mental health. It’s something I struggle with significantly. I have a very hard time talking about it which made this record very personal and hard for me to put out. I felt very vulnerable lyrically as well as vocally as I tried to get out of my comfort zone and try some new things, to try to grow as a vocalist and lyricist. But I wanted this album to connect with those who are also struggling with mental health. You are not alone and I hope this record can help you if only for one minute.

What is it that makes Decatur Decatur?

What makes us Decatur is our live show, hard work and professionalism. We pride ourselves on being professional and respectful. We work our ass off in our HQ to bring a killer show every time we hit the stage for the people there whether it’s 10 people or 1000 people.

How did the writing process of Badder Than Brooklyn go?

To be honest it was a bit hectic. We wrote the record in about 8 weeks. Then we went straight to Brooklyn to record it and recorded the whole thing in about 3 weeks. We made some changes on the fly and additions on the fly while in there too. So it was very organic in the way that we had to make some big decisions quite quickly. But it made for something we are still enjoying. We are finding different parts of the record we love and are falling in love with different parts as the days pass. So all in all I went perfect because it was as honest as we could be as artists.

This album is produced by Joe Duplantier of Gojira, how was working with him and what did he add to Badder Than Brooklyn?

Working with Joe was an absolute pleasure. It seriously couldn’t have gone any better. The benefit of having someone like Joe beside you is unexplainable. He brought so much to this record. Not just in the producing department but in the growth of us as a group and as artists. For me personally, he brought me to a different level of understanding myself. He helped unlock some doors I didn’t know were there. He helped me become comfortable with being uncomfortable. There were times where I would cringe at myself on how I sang something or whatever but he would say something like “it’s beautiful” or “I love how this is so real” and all of sudden realize wow maybe I don’t need to be pitch perfect and my emotion as a singer is worth something. He also brought many of his tricks to our sound and style which can be heard on the record. That atmospheric sound he can achieve is something we were looking for and he obviously nailed that. His team, Johann Meyer and Taylor Bingley were also a huge help on the record not to mention Raphael Bovey at MyRoom for the master. If not for this team then the record wouldn’t be the same.

What's the story behind the album title?

The connection for the name of the record was also a personal thing. My older brother used to be in a band called Badder Than Brooklyn. So not only was it a nod to my older brother who got me into metal but when we confirmed with Joe that we were doing it at Silver Cord Studios in Brooklyn it was too perfect not to use. We wanted to have a personal connection with our album name so that’s where that came from.

Your music sounds very energetic and powerful, how do you bring that to the stage?

Our live show is very energetic. We put on a pretty energy filled show. Usually one of the loudest bands as well. We want you to feel our music pundit your chest. Our music also gets us into it. We love playing live and we literally wrote a record around playing it live. We knew we would be playing often and we wanted to play music we loved playing. It’s so enjoyable for us to play on stage together so we make the most of every minute up there.

You recently played some Canadian shows, can we expect more shows soon? Maybe in The Netherlands, or somewhere else in Europe?

Europe is #1 on our list to play right now. It’s something we have been planning since we made this band. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to get out there but we are diligently working on finding a killer tour to be a part of. We hope to be there as soon as possible. You can definitely expect us not to stop until we get there.

Do you already have any other future Decatur plans you can already tell us a bit about?

Right now we are working on a couple things to release for everyone early in 2018 including a music video plus hoping to have some touring early on in the year.

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

Thanks so much for all the support thus far. It’s been unreal and we couldn’t appreciate it any more. Thank you as well for the great interview. Hopefully we get to Europe sooner than later. Thanks so much and stay connected with us.

Decatur Official Website
Decatur Facebook
Decatur Twitter

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Interview: Blackened Core

In 2016 a new band was formed in Uppsala, Sweden, Blackened Core. This young band (the band members ages are between 16 and 19 years old) already has an EP out, called Live For Nothing and recently they released their new single, called The Path. Below you can read the interview DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen had with them and check The Path.

Hey, how are you?

Hello! We are great thank you!

You are all aged between 16 and 19, how is being part of the Swedish metal scene at that relatively young age?

It´s great fun and exciting to be a part of a metal scene at such a young age. To play shows, write and record songs, rehearse is what we love to do and it is amazing for us to do it at our age. We feel lucky that we have found each other and that we get to do this.

What inspired you to start playing metal?

We all started to play metal because of our love to music, especially metal music. Some of us have families with musical background and some not but we all managed to find this amazing genre in one way or another. Because of our love for metal, playing it as well came natural and obvious.

Blackened Core is a very new band, you formed in 2016, how did you met each other?

It all started back in autumn of 2014 when our bass player and ex-drummer met our vocalist in a music shop. They basically started talking about music and guitars which led up to the birth of Blackened Core. Since then we have had different lineups but it wasn’t till 2016 we got our current lineup which we have had for more than a year.

Why did you choose Blackened Core as the name of the band?

The name comes from and old text to a song we wrote. We thought it sounded cool so we chose it to be our band name.

How would you describe Blackened Core's music to someone who hasn't heard it before?

Melodic metal with an alternative twist. Catchy riffs, bone-crushing breakdowns, soaring melodies, pounding drums and both aggressive and epic vocals. We incorporate classic elements as well as calm bluesy, solos and we have a ballad. Basically a mix between new and more traditional musical ideas and styles.

You participated in three Swedish contests, can you tell us something about that experience?

Yes, we have participated in Emergenza where we came to the semi-finals. We have also participated in the Swedish contest “Musik Direkt” where we reached the regional final twice. The last time we participated we won the second price which was studio time in Dugout studios. Every time we competed we have ended up as a stronger band in every way. We have learned so much from our experiences with competitions. Everything from marketing our band to stage presence and vocal techniques. The biggest reward was to play in front of a big crowd in our city’s biggest venue.

Earlier this year you released an EP called Live For Nothing and more recently you released an single called The Path, how are the reactions on your material so far?

The reception and reactions from our fans have been fantastic. They really seem to like it, which we are extremely grateful for. To release songs that people listen to in their everyday life is so cool and it means everything to us. We now hope to reach a bigger audience!

Sweden has a lot of metal bands, what's the best Swedish metal band in your opinion?

Indeed we have. We are all huge fans of our Swedish metal bands. Bands like In Flames, At The Gates, Dark Tranquility, Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth are all enormous influences on us as individuals and as a band. It feels so cool that they are all from our home country. One band that is extra special for us is In Flames. We have admired them for the biggest parts of our lives and we continue to do so. Our vocalist and bass player actually met Björn Gelotte at 2112 in Gothenburg.

And which Swedish up-and-coming metalband would you recommend, besides Blackened Core?

Our good friends in Acidiun from our hometown, Uppsala. They are a bit older than us and have helped us a lot in our growth as a band. They play a more deathcore-style which is totally insane. Check them out! (Read our interview with them here)

At this moment you have no shows confirmed, can we expect some soon? How about playing The Netherlands?

We just played some shows this autumn but for the moment we are in the works of planning some shows. To play in the Netherlands would be totally crazy fun haha! We are open to play almost everywhere!

Already any plans for new material?

We are going into the studio to record two new songs for our new, upcoming EP. The EP will contain a total of three to four songs and will be released in 2018. A music video is also in the works. Follow us on our Instagram, Facebook and Youtube for further updates!

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

We just released our new single The Path. It is a very epic melodic arena anthem we think you would enjoy. If you are into melodic metal with aggression and brutal vocals check us out on Spotify and Youtube!

Thank you so much for this interview and stay metal!

Blackened Core Facebook

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Interview: Psychedelic Witchcraft

Recently, Psychedelic Witchcraft released their new full-length album, called Sound Of The Wind. DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen spoke with them about the new album, freedom among other things.

Hey, congratulations on your new album, Sound Of The Wind. It's really nice.

Hi! Many thanks :)

How are the reactions on it so far?

It seems Sound Of The Wind is being appreciated by the critic and the public. We're having a pretty much positive feedback, people loved our live shows up to now too.

When you compare Sound Of The Wind with its predecessor Magick Rites And Spells, what is it you notice?

Magick Rites and Spells was more of a collection that closed the chapter of our old sound. Thanks to Listenable Records we've been able to record this new album in a proper way (We had some difficulties with the older works).
We feel that Sound Of The Wind is literally a new chapter, a new different and more powerful sound.

In April 2016 you released your debut and Sound Of The Wind is already your third full-length in one and a half year. I guess you have a lot of inspiration? Where do you get inspiration from?

Inspiration comes mainly from daily life, from our experiences. Lyrics are mostly about inner emotions and feelings, lived experiences and about the power of will, the will to be free. Themes also revolve around occultism and '70s horror cinema (which I've been passionate about since I was I child, thanks to/because of my parents). Inspiration is for us to communicate with sounds what we feel and what we live.

Sound Of The Wind is your first album by Listenable Records. What makes Listenable Records the perfect choice at this moment?

We think we found each other in a good moment. After the first 2 releases the band definitely needed a step up to make things more seriously, as we all wanted. Listenable Records are people who truly believed in us and that's so valuable, it's the most important thing we could have had from them.

It seems freedom is a recurring theme in your tracks. What exactly is freedom for you? And what is your message about it?

Freedom is being allowed to be yourself, to be who you really are without anyone judging you, without anyone controlling you or making you feel bad about yourself. Freedom is the power of loving who you really love, freedom means being yourself without hurting others, freedom is also peace. The message is that people should generally judge less and live their own lives more, love their beloved ones and not put any brake to their consciousness. People shouldn't be judged and controlled by others.

Egypt seems to be important for you, why is that?

I've been passionate about Egypt since I was a child as well. It's always been my favorite historical period. The Egyptian culture was based on the cult of the dead. The way they perceived life, as a karma-lesson we learn on earth. The moment we die is not the end. If we pass the test of the feather of Maat we're eventually going to another phase of life for our soul. I really love these things because I believe in them, I believe soul is eternal, I believe in reincarnation and I believe in Karmic justice.

You recently played at Damnation Fest in the UK, which was your first UK show. How was playing there and how did the audience respond to your show?

Playing Damnation has been amazing! A special thanks to everybody who helped us get in there. The audience responded really good to our show, which we didn't know what to expect being a pretty much extreme metal-oriented festival. Though it went super good and we've been more than happy to play the UK, we wish we can come back really soon. We're scheduled to play HRH Doom vs Stoner in September 2018, Sheffield, O2 Academy.

You just finished a Spanish tour and have already confirmed some festivals for 2018. Can we expect more Psychedelic Witchcraft shows soon? Maybe in The Netherlands?

Yes, we just came back from the Spanish tour and we hope the list of festival participations is going to grow! We have the 'Children Of The Sun' Fest in Copenhagen, may 25th – 26th, so we may meet there! :)

Any other future plans you can already tell us a bit about?

Nothing official yet, we're always working on new tunes and working to get our ass around!

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

We want to thank all those who we're working with right now. We also want to thank those who really supported us and loved us since the beginning. It's thanks to them if we're here speaking right now, a huge hug goes to them!

Psychedelic Witchcraft Facebook

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: Vinegar Hill - Ghost Flowers

Vinegar Hill, likely named after the infamous hill where the last defending battle of the Irish rebels against the British during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 took place, is a melodic death metal band from Austria, consisting of five musicians. Dominik Stadler is responsible for the vocals, Michael Dreschnig for both guitar and vocals, Oliver Seebacher also for guitar, Lukas Marak for the bass parts and Thomas Troppacher takes care of the drum lines. Having unleashed 3 full-lengths onto the world since they were founded back in 2007, they illuminate their 10-year anniversary with a new release. Assuming their bio is trustworthy, they showed growth and development with each previously released full-length, now resulting in their, for now, pinnacle Ghost Flowers. According to the band this is their heaviest, darkest and fastest work so far. Sounds good to me, that kind of statements always piques my interest. Time to find out how heavy, dark and fast their actual music is.

The first thing I realized after giving Ghost Flowers its first full spin was that it would be impossible to review every song separately. Each song holds so many different facets there is simply no way to write a description that covers them all. More than once that spells disaster, but in this case I think it’s the opposite, I think the composition of the songs is a huge contributor to the overall quality and enjoyment. Despite all this opener The Fortress Above The Sun opens pretty straight-forward with an more or less classic death metal riff and ditto rhythm, which is probably for the best, because it immediately gets you in the right flow. From the first second of The Fortress Above The Sun until the dying tones of In Carving Memory you will be pleasantly exposed to a highly entertaining wall of melodic death metal peppered with a huge variety of breaks and intermezzos. It’s not shockingly original riff-wise, but because of the way they have been woven into the rhythm and combined with said variety of breaks and intermezzos that is in no way a problem and it certainly is not a run-of-the-mill death metal album.

The guitar work jumps from heavy to brutal to high-speed to soothing and sweet in a heartbeat, needless to say we have some skilled musicians on our hands here. The same can be said from the rhythm section. Drummer Thomas can be relentless at times and together with bassist Lukas, who can be equally relentless, Vinegar Hill has a backbone to be reckoned with. As if that isn’t enough as it is, there’s at least one unexpected part in every song, the one more distinct than the next. Two of the most notable are the choir and the soundscape-like guitar work in Void and the short intermezzo the famous eighties pop-rock band the Police would be proud of in In Carving Memory, but that list can easily be extended hugely. The vocals are a perfect match to the musicians, following the exact pattern the music goes. Not only are Dominik and Michael capable of bone-crushing grunts, they also display great skills where it comes to clean vocals, ranging from ‘just clean’ to even delicate. In all honesty though, I think the grunts suit them a tad better. To top things off vocal-wise there’s a female guest vocalist whose contribution, though small, is definitely notable. I wonder who she is…

Anyway, it’s safe to say Ghost Flowers is a heavy album and I accept the band’s statement that this is their fastest and darkest work to date, even though it doesn’t strike me as particularly fast or dark. To be honest I don’t really care, this simply is an awesome release. Regardless what people say or how anyone chooses to classify this, in my opinion there is only one simple conclusion: Any way you slice it, this is a release you could go absolutely bananas on! But by all means, don’t take my word for it, you should try this one for yourself, success and entertainment guaranteed. Definitely kick-ass and therefore most certainly recommended!

Written by Henric van Essen

Vinegar Hill Official Website
Vinegar Hill Facebook
Vinegar Hill Twitter

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Interview: Jason Caine

You might know Jason Caine as leadguitarist of Bloodline Riot. He also have another band, called Circle The Crown. DutchMetalManiac's Alessandro spoke with Jason about Bloodline Riot, Circle The Crown, among other things.

Jason I’m very honoured to be granted this interview! Thanks for the Twitter follow also! So, tell us about your personal origins! When did you first pick up the axe, who got you/bought you one, who are your favourite players and what was the first song you strummed to?

I'm honored to have this opportunity! Thank you so much for the chance to talk with you guys! I originally started playing guitar right before my 14th birthday. A friend of mine had been playing for several months and we thought it would be cool to start a band. Originally I was going to play bass, but he talked me out of it with the Rock n Roll logic of, "Dude, lead guitarists get all of the chicks!". (laughs) So, I got an imitation BC Rich Warlock for my birthday from my family and took it very seriously right from the beginning. I've always had a competitive edge to me, and right from the start I wanted to be the best that I could be. I started taking private guitar lessons and learning theory and how it applied to my favorite songs. I also took formal classical lessons for a while at the same time. I had grown up listening to classic rock and classical music, so I think it was inevitable that I would be interested in learning how to play both, and then some. My early inspirations were Randy Rhoads, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Nuno Bettencourt, Brian May, Richie Kotzen, Blues Saraceno and many others. During High School I lived and breathed guitar, and it was pretty much all I focused on. The very first song I learned was Cinderella's Nobody's Fool actually.

I love Bloodline Riot’s songs Betrayed and Letting Go. What is the band’s status currently? What’s the story here?

Thank you so much! That truly means a lot to hear! Bloodline Riot is currently on hiatus. It's a very long story, but I was the only original member left after the band being very active for 6 years. We'd had 5 different singers, 3 bassists, 7 drummers and I honestly felt like things had gotten to the point where finding new members to perform material that was so estranged from what the band started out as was beginning to lose authenticity. I truly appreciated every member that had stepped into the band, and I feel like every line-up had written some amazing music that unfortunately will never have a chance to be heard.. Many of the line-up changes centered around situations of members having to shift their goals and also understandable priorities and life changes that happen. I have no ill will towards any past members, and I wish them all the very best. Several are still playing music and pursuing it with different bands, and I fully support and appreciate their endeavors.

OK, so a new adventure with Circle The Crown! Cool name! What’s the inspiration for that? Can you tell us what your new band is planning?

Thank you! The name Circle The Crown is all about focusing and prioritizing your life to be the best and happiest that you can be. It's about looking at the choices and options in your life and "circling" the best of the best that you can be, to be the royalty of your own life journey. As far as what Circle The Crown is planning, we're finishing up our debut EP with producer Chuck Alkazian at Pearl Sound Studios in Canton, MI. Chuck has worked with some amazing artists such as Chris Cornell, Pop Evil, Asking Alexandria and many more. He brings to the table a wealth of knowledge, songwriting and so much more. The songs have really been coming to life working with Chuck at the producer's helm and I cannot wait for these songs to be finished and ready to spread to the world. Once the EP is finished, I'm sure we'll be working on music videos and we'll be hitting the live performances hard to visit as many of our friends around the country that we can.

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?

I feel that technology today is a double-edged sword. I think that it's great that you can now get music any time that you want. I think that comes with a price though. I think that people value things when they're not necessarily so accessible. When you can have something at anytime that you want, it's easy to be lazy about it. I also feel that there's less enthusiasm about downloading music versus the old days when you went to the record store, saw the album art and pictures of your favorite band, could read the liner notes to see what members wrote which songs and learn about who produced the album and all of that info that was waiting for you once you bought a physical product. I know that you can get all of those things with downloads, but I think that most people just use MP3 players now, and that excitement is all lost in a way. When you bought a physical product, you were also forced to buy the entire album (unless you just bought the single). There's classic songs that at first listen weren't necessarily my favorites, but grew on me as I got to know them and became some of my favorite songs of all time. Nowadays, it's easy to just buy what songs hit you right off the bat and ignore what may be sleeper hits that you would truly come to appreciate with more than listening to a 30 second sample. Sometimes I feel it's better to not have instant gratification. That it creates an environment of placing less worth on something that should be special.

Your music is heavy with some great influences; tell us when and where your best times for inspiration are.

Honestly I get some of my best ideas after a few cups of coffee and while driving. Every sound in nature has a particular pitch.. When your fan is on, there are pitches that are being produced. When I'm driving, I found that the hum from the engine produces a pitch and a lot of times I'll harmonize and bounce musical ideas off of the pitch of the engine humming. Many of my ideas are recorded to my cell phone and then I go and figure them out later and flesh them out further on my guitar. It took me some time to realize that this was what I was doing, but I started wondering why I always would have these musical ideas while driving, and one day I realized just what was happening, as unorthodox as that sounds! (laughs)

You have a very introspective, positive twitter feed; are you a natural writer or is it something you dislike doing but have to business-wise?

I absolutely love writing. I've always been a writer for as long as I can remember. I used to try to write books in elementary school. It was one of my earliest career goals. Once I discovered guitar, I realized that through songwriting you can truly integrate those two elements into something magical that transcends just one or the other, music or words. Together, those two things can move mountains with enough inspiration.. As far as my introspective twitter feed, I think in terms of affirmations.. A positive message to tell yourself for the day to focus on and explore. We all have challenges and life is hardly ever perfect. How we perceive things and the meanings we do or don't put on them can truly enhance or degrade our lives. I'm always working on trying to help enhance the lives of myself and others if I can.

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

I always give it 110% when I'm onstage. I've found that when you start playing a lot of shows, it helps to get into "show shape". If you haven't, the first few shows you'll find yourself feeling pretty sore and beat up. (laughs)

Speaking of stages, you’re not on a tour schedule as of yet; are there dates lined up for this or next year?

As of right now, our main focus has been to really make this EP the best that it can possibly be. We've been playing a few shows in our hometown here and there while working on the recording, but we're waiting until our ducks are in a row to really start hitting the shows heavy. We want to make sure that we can bring our fans the very best that they deserve on all levels.

I want to thank you so much for taking the time for us and as we go, give us “Jason’s Jive” for 2017/2018:
1. WW III or Peace on Earth?

Peace on Earth

2. Aliens Land – Aliens Keep On Going?

Aliens Land. We need to shake things up a bit! (laughs)

3. Music Industry Better – Music Industry Worse?

Music Industry different. More opportunities but tougher to stand out.

4. USA Beer Better – Canadian Beer Better?

I don't drink beer so I'd be the last guy to ask (laughs).

5. Currently reading….which books?

If I had any spare time, it would be the Game of Thrones series.

6. Humans: Tougher then or now?


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

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I can't wait for everyone to hear the upcoming album. Also, to keep up to date with Circle The Crown, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter or my personal Twitter. Thank you for reading and I can't wait to see you all soon. Cheers!

Facebook Circle The Crown
Twitter Circle The Crown
Twitter Jason Caine

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: None - None

None is a band playing a mix of atmospheric black metal and depressive black metal. This band exists since 2015 and last April they released their self-titled debut album. The tracklist only contains three tracks. However, with the tracks having a length varying between eight and twelve minutes, this album still has a total length of half an hour.

When you start listening to this album, close your eyes and imagine you are on a gigantic, vast, plain ice field. Suddenly evil strikes and you start to feel desperate whether you'll find the way back to the civilized world or not. None delivers a great soundtrack to this desperate experience with this phenomenal debut. The music None brings is extremely heavy mixed with some atmospheric, ambient-like parts. Besides the haunting ghost-sounds the shrieking vocals are very terrifying and intense. This album brings you in some sort of trance. The combination of the slower, intense, atmospheric parts and the faster parts is balanced in a very good way. At the end of opener Cold and at the start of closing track Suffer you will even hear some acoustic instruments, which gives it a bit of a folky, pagan touch.

What will be your destiny? Will you ever find your way back to civilization or is your fate doomed to that gigantic ice field?

None delivers a perfect album with this self-titled debut. Considering the fact that this is their debut, I am curious to know how they will surpass this with their next releases.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review: Deathwish - Deathwish

Since last year Belgium has a new metal band in its country. They come from Opwijk and the line-up exists of members of Dawn Of Clarity and long gone cult band Endor. Deathwish, as the band is called, are Filip de Roover on guitars, Peter Nevens on bass, Andy van Rossem on vocals and Willem de Pauw on drums. Recently, on October 1st, 2017, they released their debut EP, which is self-titled.

Deathwish give us pretty fast, heavy music on this EP, which is a bit shorter than 20 minutes. Of course the slower but heavy parts are also present, but the faster parts are really dominating. Deathwish's dark metalcore unfortunately has not very much variation in it, which could make it a bit boring for some people. Of course that depends on what you are used to in the music you listen regularly. Production-wise it sounds a bit gritty, but this is also what makes their sound more real. Sometimes it almost sounds like you are standing besides these Belgian guys playing their music in their rehearsal room. The drums are a bit loud in the mix, which can lead your focus a bit too much to Willem de Pauw and his drumkit. His drumming skills are great, that's not the problem. However, the drums being a bit too loud in the mix, gives the other band members a bit of a disadvantage.

In my opinion, this debut EP from Belgian metallers Deathwish is not very special, but it's definitely not bad. It's an average EP but, considering this is a debut EP, it can be a good first step for upcoming Deathwish releases.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Deathwish Facebook

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Interview: Heyoka's Mirror

Soon Canadian metal band Heyoka's Mirror will release their new EP, called Loss Of Contact With Reality. DutchMetalManiac's Alessandro already reviewed it here and now he also interviewed Heyoka's Mirror, read it below!

Fellow Canucks, I’m very honoured to be granted this interview and very happy that a new power trio is emerging! Andrew Balboa - vocals, keyboards and rhythm guitars, Omar Sultan – guitars, Bayan Sharafi – drums… we are all glad to meet you! So, tell us about your origins!

Why Canada? We’re cold and polite mostly, aren’t there warmer climates to live in?

Omar: My dad decided a long time ago, he said “hey, you need a better life, a better place to live in” and that’s why I moved here.

Andrew: I lived in Vancouver for a year back in 2001, I was 11 back then. In 2002 I went back to Mexico and I realized Mexico wasn’t home anymore… I needed to go back… back to the land of the maple syrup.

Bayan: I was born in Drumheller, but both my parents are from Iran.

Are any or all of you classically trained or did you just pick up an instrument and become self-taught? What inspired you?

Andrew: I’m classically trained. I started taking theory and opera lessons when I was 14 back in Mexico. What inspired me? Dream Theater’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. The very first time I listened to that album, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Omar: I was never trained, I have never really actually taken lessons, but now I am taking proper lessons with Andy Bray from Mother Mary, an amazing English rock band from the 90’s.

When I was growing up I used to play a lot.. I was playing 6 to 8 hours a day. I used to skip school and practice all day back when I was 16 or 17. I just learnt how to listen to music and improvise a lot. What inspired me? Same as Andrew… Dream Theater.

Bayan: I decided I wanted to play drums because I wanted to be cool in high-school and drums was something I just loved doing. I had a punk band back then and the first song I ever learnt was Sex Pistols’ God save the Queen.

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? Why?

Bayan: Well, now it’s way better because it’s so easy to get to everybody.

Omar: Yes, but at the same time it has become easier for shit musicians to distribute their shit.

Andrew: I guess that’s one of the reasons why there’s so much shit out there right now. Anyone can now upload to CD Baby, Itunes and be instantly “famous”.

Your music is very intricate with some great influences that I hear, such as Yes and Dream Theater; tell us when and where your best times for inspiration are.

Omar: For me it’s when something big happens in my life. When heavy emotions come by, those emotions also bring a lot of ideas and energy to me and I get really inspired by that. I get inspired by emotion.

Bayan: Listening to music, feeling it and learning it.

Andrew: Same thing for me. I listen to a lot of music, I listen to everything… from Death metal all the way to J-Pop… and everything inspires me. But music HAS to touch me. When I get touched by music I feel inspired and I feel the need to touch you. Touch you in a way only I can touch you.

As per your band name, are you all contrarians? Do you react in the opposite way people expect? The concept is awesome, do explain!

Andrew: We are all contrarians when we write our music. All of our songs talk about issues humans need to work on. Face of Void was actually inspired by Facebook. We wanted to talk about how a lot of people put on a mask when they go on social media, a lot of people want to show a fake fantasy life they actually don’t have.

In the end… If you feel identified with our EP’s main character, Mr. Loomis… Then you have some serious issues you have to work on.

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

Omar: 110%. We try our best every single show to sound our best.

Andrew: I don’t think we need to keep it safe… We practice and we practice a lot, so when we go on stage we are 100% ready… Once we go on stage, we just focused on having an awesome time and putting on an awesome show.

Speaking of stages, your FB has listed quite a few past appearances. How was the reaction to the band? Any plans to make it up to Toronto? A new tour planned?

Omar: People really like us! The best thing that I hear people say is: “I’m not really a heavy metal person but I love your style… you’re so musical!” And then of course, people who are into heavy music love our different style of metal.

Andrew: Toronto? We would LOVE to go to Toronto. We’re planning on a small tour around the west coast once the EP is out. Hopefully our name will soon expand to the east coast so we can tour over there.

I want to thank you so much for taking the time for us and as we go, give us “Heyoka’s Happenings” for 2017/2018:

1. WW III or Peace on Earth?

Omar: I’m going to quote Frank Zappa: “There will be no nuclear war. There’s too much real estate involved.”

2. Aliens Land – Aliens Keep On Going?

Aliens?.... Let me tell you something about ALIENS! Aliens are already here! Why is this kept a secret? Because humans can’t handle the truth.

3. Music Industry Better – Music Industry Worse?

Everyone: Worse… way worse.

Omar: Worse and going in a really bad direction, but we’re trying to save it.

4. USA Beer Better – Canadian Beer Better?

Everyone: CANADIAN all the way!

Andrew: …. Ummmm back to question 1… THAT’S why we moved to Canada.

5. Currently reading….which books?

Bayan: The Five Second Rule. It’s about you counting down from five and knowing that once you reach one you will find an answer to your question.

Omar: I don’t read.

Andrew: I only ready music ;)

6. Humans: Tougher then or now?

Everyone: THEN!

Andrew: Everyone is so sensitive now.

Thank you again for taking important creative time to talk to us. Do you have any last comments for DutchMetalManiac’s 2300+ readers? All the best success!

Andrew: The EP will be absolutely free to download during the month of December 2017. So get it now!

Omar: Thank you DutchMetalManiac for reviewing the album, thank you for the interview and to all the readers… get the EP and get ready.

Andrew: And you should look through the looking glass.

Heyoka's Mirror Facebook

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: Heyoka's Mirror - Loss Of Contact With Reality

The emergence of a new power trio, progressive to say the least, is always heartwarming; Canadian, even better and from colder parts of the planet, seems to inspire wondrous songs. (Can anyone say ‘Rush’?). Calgary can be no different.

Andrew Balboa - Vocals, Keyboards and Rhythm Guitars, Omar Sultan – Guitars, Bayan Sharafi – Drums erupt onto the scene with a new trio of songs that will enrapt and ensure their place in prog rock/metaldom.

Face of Void, a chilling, atmospheric piece that stars with a mixed blend of haunting and complex vox and powerful guitars – chug chugga stuff yea! Strong gravocals in there for the death metal people, intricately placed and sung. A beautiful arrangement from a very Rush sounding to a Yes sounding to a Marillion sounding to a Styx sounding to ultimately a Mirror sounding bit at about 3:15! Great!

Time Manager starts as a beautiful speed metal ditty and continues as a metal banger sure to get me another complaint from the neighbors – stellar playing, hammering and strumming and vox! “I…WANT…!” at 1:12 kicker! Screaming death metal vocals mezzoing into near operatic overtones is spectacular. The dual axe attack at 3:33 is superb. Slowing this down at 5:35 of this 9:13 song is revealing of their prog rock admiration. 10/10 just this song alone.

Finally rounding out this triplet of tempo, is the 11:53 Chronovisor, an intricate, keyboard heavy piece that needs to be heard on headphones. I normally don’t use them, but this is so instrumentally superior, I feel I am missing the experience and bits of music that escape into the ether. Beautifully blended, this is one of the best songs I have heard all year. Love the work at 3:00 onwards. Hair rising!

An outstanding record, looking forward to further Loss of Contact with Reality!

10/10 - easy

Written by Alessandro

Read our interview with Heyoka's Mirror here!

Heyoka's Mirror Facebook

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Live review: Max & Iggor Cavalera Return To Roots, Overkill, Insomnium, Deserted Fear at TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands, November 26th, 2017

It's a cold day in Utrecht. Tonight the Cavalera brothers are coming to Utrecht for a show in TivoliVredenburg. They are going to play Roots, the phenomenal Sepultura album, released when they were still part of Sepultura. Hopefully this Brazilian-tinted show brings some higher temperatures to Utrecht.

The venue's doors are open early, at six o'clock to be precise. Of course there is a reason for this. It is all because of the fact that there will be four bands on stage tonight and they all want some time to play.

At half past 7 the first band, the German death metallers Deserted Fear, kick off this evening. When Deserted Fear plays their first notes the venue is quite empty, probably because of the early kick-off time. It for sure isn't because of the band, because they're playing a very good show. However, while they're playing, more and more people are coming inside. The energy and passion coming from Deserted Fear while playing is really standing out. At one point their guitarist says that this is their second time playing in The Netherlands and that this venue is a nice upgrade compared to their last gig here, which was in The Cave in Amsterdam. With this set and their enthusiasm while playing, they are definitely worth this upgrade. People who came inside later did miss a great show for sure.

After Deserted Fear left the stage and the roadies finished preparing the stage, it's time for Insomnium to enter the stage. At this time a lot more people were inside the venue and a big part of them seemed to be Insomnium fans. With their partly atmospheric metal it can be a bit difficult to get a grip on it, just right after Deserted Fear's ramming death metal. Of course, this isn't due to Insomnium's music, which is very nice. In my opinion, it would be a better choice when Insomnium played before Deserted Fear instead of afterwards. However, Insomnium plays a very great set and the earlier mentioned Insomnium-fans can be satisfied with this for sure.

The third band of this evening is Overkill. While I heard a few songs from them earlier, I have to be honest with you, I never really took time to listen to more music from them. Why didn't I? To be honest, I really have no idea, because they're worth it for sure! It's a shame I didn't know this earlier. With their heavy thrash metal they go full-speed right from the start. A lot of energy is coming from the stage and Overkill perfectly managed to transfer this to the crowd. This results in the crowd going insane for the remainder of the evening. A lot of hair is going through the air, a lot of metal-horns can be seen and there is a giant moshpit going on. Overkill's cover of Fuck You, originally by Canadian punk band Subhumans, results in a lot of middle fingers in the air and a lot of people shouting along. Overkill delivers a perfect show, they really blew me away and I am sure I want to see them more in the future. In my opinion Overkill could easily be headliner of this evening and I am curious whether tonight's headliner can surpass this or not.

After the first three bands it finally is time for tonight's headliner, the Cavalera brothers and co are entering the stage for their Return To Roots show. The crowd tonight is really varied age-wise. There are people who probably know the Roots-album from the moment Max and Iggor Cavalera released it with Sepultura. On the other side there are people who listened to it later and who maybe haven't experienced Sepultura with Max and Iggor. However, all tracks being played are very loved by the enthusiastic crowd. They also play a little part of Black Sabbath's Iron Man, while the legendary Ace Of Spades by Motörhead is part of their encore. The Cavalera's and co delivered a very nice show and based on the final applause from the crowd many thought the same.

In conclusion, tonight was a very nice evening with four very great shows. As a nice extra, all of tonight's energy (and heat) made the cold night more bearable for me on my way back home. For me, Overkill's show was tonight's highlight, but the other shows were also definitely worth it.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Read our review of Insomnium's Winter's Gate here.

Max & Iggor Cavalera Return To Roots Official Website
Overkill Official Website
Overkill Facebook
Overkill Twitter
Insomnium Official Website
Insomnium Facebook
Insomnium Twitter
Deserted Fear Official Website
Deserted Fear Facebook

Monday, December 4, 2017

Interview: Atlases

Recently Finnish post-metal newcomers Atlases released their debut EP, called Penumbra. DutchMetalManiac's Henric van Essen already reviewed Penumbra here. Below you can read his interview with Atlases' Ville-Veikko Laaksonen.

Hi, how are you doing?

We are quite fine at the moment. Thank you for asking.

Thanks for the opportunity to interview you and congratulations with your debut release. I like it a lot. With whom do I have the honor and can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Thank you. Interviews are ok as the questions do not repeat themselves. Always good to have some freshness and curveballs thrown at you. We thank you for liking our EP. We like it too, and stand behind its end result. I'm Ville-Veikko Laaksonen, the founder of Atlases. I work as a main composer and lyricist for Atlases. I play guitar in this band. I'm also sort of a band agent at the moment for booking shows and tours. We are currently looking for an agency and management to take care that side of things, so we can maintain our focus on writing, rehearsing and touring.

It is said Atlases came into existence when new material for Oceanwake was written eventually resulting in a full-blown band. What is the story behind this, especially considering the two bands aren't all that far apart music-wise? And how, if at all, is the title of the album opener An Era We'll Bury connected to this?

Yes, I had written a good amount of songs for the 4th Oceanwake album. The songs were quite a lot shorter and more melodic than the previous material, say on Earthen or Sunless. I was excited and thrilled about the songs written. Eero, the singer of Oceanwake demoed some vocals for these songs. But then I think the rest of the guys felt that they had been left out of the process. The songs were pretty much finished demos with drums, basslines, guitarmelodies and arrangements. The songs weren't the only thing that caused some sort of arguments. There were a lot of things causing bad blood within the band at that period. Time was an issue. Not everybody lived in the same city etc. The making of Earthen was hard as hell. We weren't happy with the mix and we changed our opinions about things daily. That process really ate us out. Earthen is a very good album and I'm proud of it. When I decided to take the new material in new direction, not everybody was ready for it. That being said, we decided that a change would be good for both parties. I decided to form a new band around this material written, and the guys from Oceanwake found a new guitarplayer. Win win. And sure the Atlases material sound like Oceanwake because I have written the songs for both bands. Atlases is not a Oceanwake 2 though, in my opinion, not even close. Atlases and Oceanwake has very different styles of players, and you can hear the difference from the first note played. An Era We'll Bury is an opener for our EP. The title says it all.

There is relatively little time between the founding of Atlases and the release of Penumbra. How did you manage to produce such a quality product in so little time with a completely new band? And, along the same lines, how is it possible to find a group of musicians with the right 'click' to form such a homogeneous band that fast?

The main thing was that the songs were finished and ready demowise. Everybody loved the songs, and it was a rather easy process to record those. First I asked Rami to join and record the drums. From work I got Jamppa to do the vocals. Jamppa knew Jerkka and Nico. Atlases was found rather quickly. Jerkka is a professional studio engineer, so this material was in good hands from the beginning. Jerkka mixed, mastered and recorded Jamppa's vocals. Jerkka also did our first lyricvideo for Medusa and a full blown video for Shards Of Broken Light with his friend Niko Kinnunen.

Every release summons a certain atmosphere within the listener and Penumbra is no exception, striking me as gloomy yet strangely relaxing. What atmosphere did you want Penumbra to breathe and why?

Penumbra is a very dim and dark release with a hint of hope within it. The songs are crushing but still ethereal. The songs are me and us.

Song titles are often an indication of the lyrical concept of said song. What, if any, are the lyrical concepts or subjects of Penumbra's songs, or even Penumbra itself?

The lyrics are written in "I" form. The stories are about distorted images of self, veiled in concept of deceptive surroundings and nature. Some of the stories are about of my thoughts and feelings, some are fiction. Escapism is also very involved within the stories.

What inspires you when you're writing music and/or lyrics?

I get inspired with everything I see, feel, hear. I get inspired with nature, colors, weather. I get inspired with people I meet. I get inspired with dreams and music. Penumbra as a title portrays this era of our existence.

You have started with a bang and at full speed. That sets the standards pretty high for the future. How do you feel about that?

We are stoked about our future. We've had written songs together for a while now. There are at least three composers in the band. We are currently recording new songs for a future special release. We know our standards, and we are not going to put out something unarranged or unfinished. The new songs are a bit more crushing than the Penumbra songs.

While we’re at it: How do you see both your and Atlases' future?

Atlases needs a proper agency and management to push this forward. We are working our asses off to achieve that. We have done everything by ourselves for this far. To get further, we are going to need some help and luck. Pest Records is our label, but we are releasing something new and special by ourselves early next year. The EP has got some good reviews, so we hope that some suitable labels sees us also. We haven't been discussing with Pest yet for the future. Distribution is one the main things we lack of at the moment.

Assuming your EP gets good critics, which I think it will, you are likely going to be expected to do some touring, who knows maybe even worldwide. What visions or plans do you have when it comes to touring?

At the moment we are our own agency. So every past and future show is somehow arranged by us. Early in 2018 we are touring the Baltic. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. We have some Finnish shows to come during the spring. Festivals in Finland and in mainland Europe is one thing we hope we can get arranged.

Thanks for the interview, is there anything left you would like to share with our readers?

What can I say…support us by buying our EP, by coming to gigs, by spreading the word about us. And for all potential agencies, managements and labels, check us out, we are worth it.

Atlases Facebook

Friday, December 1, 2017

Review: Damn Pigeon - Whisky Sinners

Hearing this for the first time, I was surprised the avenue taken was not more glam metal given the tremendous experience of lead vocalist Doug Weir formerly of Syre, but they are a collective writing band with incredible versatility to cross genres and delve into more progressive overtones. Seeing them live was an experience! (Check our live review here)

The team is: Joe Edmiston (guitars/backing vocals), Doug Weir (guitars/lead vocals), Steve Proctor (guitars/backing vocals), Jason Latimer (drums/backing vocals) and Steve Proud (bass guitars/backing vocals), all Canadian, all metal, all in the St. Thomas/London ON area.

The album is perfectly produced by Proudy and Proctor (I don’t really know, I just liked all the P’s together) and is a blistering rendition of what an eclectic mix of prog rock, metal and ‘harmonious funk’ (yea, I said it…) are all about.

From pounding rockers like Starlight and Killswitch to melodic haunting tracks such as my favourite Haunted, the ‘slow’ song, powerful and tear jerking, Meet You in the Sunset, this record should be a new standard of rock and metal, leaning towards a more progressive edge, easily done if they wish it, as there are scads of experience and know-how with this group.

Dreaming is a soulful bluesy slow one that pulls the heartstrings, my definite fave for hopeful days in the future; we need more songs like this. That guitar echo literally sparked a memory back to the days of seeing Aldo Nova. That is something else boys.

Fourteen tracks and each one is in its own world with its own view of the world; a very well done crisp album, punctuated with another fave, Stripper Crotch. Killer chords and beats and sure to be a crowd-chanter, this is what fun rock is all about. Everywhere, the sad girl song, is belted out soulfully with amazing harmonies, maybe even enough to make some Canadian radio airwaves?

In all, this is an amazing 14 track album (beautiful value here as opposed to the standard 9 or 10) and hopefully, as a sounding board for getting some radio airplay and more exposure to our Canadian metal acts, which hold their own, in any generation.

10/10 overall, but each song can easily touch that score on its own!

Written by Alessandro

Damn Pigeon Official Website
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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review: Atlases - Penumbra

Atlases is a self-proclaimed modern post-metal band hailing from Pori, Finland, which was founded in 2017 by Oceanwake-guitarist/vocalist Ville-Veiko Laaksonen. The new material Ville-Veiko had written for Oceanwake turned into a project and not much later Atlases was born, resulting in Ville-Veiko’s departure from Oceanwake. Now, not much later, Atlases is a full-blown band with a line-up of five, consisting of Jamppa Lamminpää as vocalist, Nico Brander on guitar, Jerkka Perälä on bass, Rami Peltola on drums and of course Ville-Veikko Laaksonen on guitar. Although it is commonly accepted that patience is a virtue, the guys either disagree with this or don’t care, because before a year has passed they have released their first work, an EP called Penumbra. Considering the somewhat vague story of the birth of Atlases one would expect the music to be largely different from Oceanwake’s music, but the opposite is true. Music-wise the two bands are not far apart at all, making me wonder why Ville-Veiko decided to start with Atlases.

Anyway, as interesting a story that could be, this review is not about the emergence of Atlases but about their music, so I better get to that. They are not much of a help here, because the EP takes off with An Era We’ll Bury, which of course might very well be an innocent coincidence, but still is a striking title. All this is quickly set aside though, when the song starts, immediately shifting my focus to the tunes which, as turns out after hearing the entire release, are a perfect example of what Atlases stands for music-wise. The post-metal influences are obvious, yet the term doesn’t quite cover it. The clever use of soundscapes adds a subtle, yet unmistakable atmosphere of melancholy in the music, giving it a somewhat mysterious, ominous feel without sounding too desolate. The lingering, at times double, two-toned grunts augment this feeling, moving Atlases’ music to a darker corner of the post-metal genre. There’s no thumping riffs, no screaming solos, no thundering rhythm section. No, what Atlases presents is atmospheric, thoughtful, almost cautious metal music, which is remarkably relaxing despite the earlier mentioned ominousness.

To me, due to various reasons, the second song of any release is an important factor when it comes to judging path and quality of said release. On Penumbra this rather ungrateful task falls to A Passage Through Nebula and right from the bat it’s clear that Atlases continues where they had left off with An Era We’ll Bury. A Passage Through Nebula also offers a very determinative atmospheric aspect, perhaps even more so due to the use of clean vocals next to the grunts and the more distinct use of soundscapes that are woven around the alternately relaxed and raw rhythm. Hamartia, even though more or less the resting point of this release, is built around the same concept, in fact all songs more or less are. Despite them starting relatively calm, sometimes even serene, every single song eventually ignites into a more unpolished, less smooth rhythm, only to fade back into the peace and calm from earlier. This may sound as a recipe for monotony, but that is definitely not the case here. The guys have put enough variety, fire and heaviness in both rhythm and song structure to avoid that pitfall. Try Shards Of Broken Light, the most heavy piece on Penumbra, for size. Needless to say the term ‘heavy’ must be seen within perspective of course, you have to keep in mind you are listening to a post metal oriented band.

Having heard Penumbra I must say Atlases, despite being a new band, already seems to have found the style of music that fits them like the proverbial glove. The dark, melancholic atmosphere they have added to their solid and varied post-metal gives their music an elusive touch that is both intriguing and compelling. The composition and structure of the songs, the execution of the various instrument- and vocal lines, it all comes together. In addition Ville-Veiko managed to sweep some quality musicians together who seem to understand each other completely, one could be forgiven for assuming this is a band that has been around for quite some time. For all to enjoy, especially if you’re into atmospheric metal music. Make yourself comfortable, put this release on and you’ll enjoy a great thirty minutes with this musical experience. Time well spent.

Written by Henric van Essen

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review: Klogr - Keystone

After two full-length albums (Till You Decay (2011) and Black Snow (2014)) and two EP's (Till You Turn (2013) and Make Your Stand (2015)), alternative metallers Klogr released their new full-length on October 6th. Klogr's lineup is vocalist/guitarist Gabriele "Rusty" Rustichelli, guitarist Pietro Quilichini "PQ", drummer Maicol Morgotti and bassist Roberto Galli.

People who only like the heavier metal subgenres will probably not like the music Klogr plays on Keystone. However, people who sometimes also appreciate less extreme music would probably really enjoy this album. Whether you want to call Klogr's music on Keystone alternative metal or heavy rock, it surely is worth listening to. Keystone contains a lot of melody, sometimes it sounds even a bit catchy, but definitely not too catchy. The guitar has a great role on Keystone and there are several nice solo's to be heard. Klogr plays their music really tight. Sometimes, there's some more room for drummer Maicol and bassist Roberto so they can show their skills, for example in Pride Before The Fall and Something's In The Air. This, in combination with the awesome vocals and the always present guitars, sounds really cool. Klogr also has some tracks on Keystone which are a bit heavier, such as Technocracy and Silent Witness. The interlude Siren's Song seems a bit misplaced and unnecessary initially, but when this flows into the quiet start of follow-up Dark Tides it becomes clear that it's perfectly placed and makes you focus even more on Dark Tides. Klogr's biggest power is, besides the awesome guitars, the combination of heavy parts and melodic parts within the tracks. A perfect example of this is the earlier mentioned track Dark Tides.

Whether you dig the heavier rock or the less extreme metal, Keystone by alternative metallers Klogr is definitely something I recommend.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Interview: Kobra and the Lotus

In May, Canadian metallers Kobra and the Lotus released the first part of their Prevail double album, Prevail I. DutchMetalManiac's Glenn van der Heijden already reviewed it here, now he and Tim van Velthuysen spoke with frontwoman Kobra Paige before their show in Merleyn, Nijmegen.

Hey Kobra, are you looking forward to tonight's show?

I am very much looking forward to the show. I think this is actually our favorite show of the whole tour.

Why is that?

Because we have some very dedicated supporters in The Netherlands. No matter what the size of the show is, it's going to be a very passionate group of people. I really value everyone that supported us and they show their appreciation for live music as well. They've done some exceptional things. One woman is running Kobra and the Lotus Netherlands and she's just putting in extra effort for no reason other than passion and love for our music to help us along. I am very excited to see many people tonight. There is also a radio-station that's been with us since 2012, K-Rock and they've been exceptional to us. Paul Torch and Ani are wonderful people. I am excited and every time we played in The Netherlands was amazing.

That's great to hear. Prevail I is the first album on Napalm Records. Why did you choose Napalm Records?

Actually it was really the best option for us and they couldn't have been better people for what we needed in this moment with Prevail I and Prevail II, which is coming next year. Napalm Records is still growing quite a bit. They are full of younger people that still have the fire to push and work for their bands and want the best for people. Which is not among all the labels, especially at bigger labels you get really lost in the shuffle.

You experienced that yourself?

Yeah, our first signing was with Universal Music in Canada which was a pretty big deal. As soon as they really figured out that it was not a race so much, it's more of a marathon with a metal band, it became really hard to get any help or any of the basics that you really need from a label. Napalm Records is providing everything we really need as a growing band, they're providing their network and their community.

Do you think it's hard because you're making metal to present the band? Is it harder than when making pop music?

Yeah, it's a completely different thing. With metal you never know if you break even. Success is measured with something else, you've got to really love what you're doing. We still consider ourselves to have a really long way to go. With pop it can change really quickly, but the fans are also different. Things can fade in pop, but people who stand by your side in metal are always there. They're very dedicated, which is amazing.

Next year Prevail II is coming out, what can we expect? Is there a difference between Prevail I and Prevail II?

Prevail I and II have a really even balance of all the music we've created before mixed with this kind of new sound we're bringing in. We're updating our sound a little bit. I really want to keep our authentic roots to metal, but I also don't want to be traditional metal as before. We've fallen into that sometimes. We really worked hard to make it more our sound and reflecting our generation as well. I think we accomplished it.

I listened to Prevail I and the first thing coming to my mind was "they're unique". I liked it very much.

Thank you, that's wonderful. It's the best thing we could hear.
Prevail II is also going to be hardrock and heavy metal, even balanced.

In your music there seems to be a message about suicide prevention, how does Kobra and the Lotus' music relate to that?

Well, for me a big deal in the lyrical content is the intention behind the messages. On these albums they're very clear. They're more vulnerable, clear messages that people can take for their selves in situations. It's also from my heart, my everything is on my sleeve. I just think that our world is lacking a lot of compassion, especially when it comes to mental illness, depression and anxiety. People that I spoke to experienced these things or are still experiencing them. Suicide is actually scary, because it's happening so much now and there are also people who think about it and we'll never know that they are not okay. They'll never tell anyone that they are not okay, no one will know, they go on thinking that nothing's worth it anymore or that the world is better without them. It's very sad, I wanted some light to really be shed at this area. We can also feel some support with our music for people who don't have that support in their life, it's something so they know that there are people who really care about it. It can also help for people who have people close in their life dealing with these things. There are also some people in my life dealing with this, I just feel really awful for them. These are things beyond our control, as you know. You didn't choose to have these things in your life. More people need to be aware about this.

I come from a loving family, that's the basis that many people don't have.

That's wonderful and so true.

In what way do you think music can help these people?

Because music is the only language in the world that everybody understands. It's universal, a gift.

You worked with Jacob Hansen for Prevail I. How was working with him?

It was awesome. Jacob was another new experience, he works completely different than the other producers we've worked with. He was a really a key player in helping open our minds around how we wanted to introduce new elements into our sound and also build a platform for what that was. He really helped us moving forward. He isn't a songwriter which is interesting, our other producers have been songwriters as well. Jacob was really like a visionary from the outside. For instance, he said let's introduce this key change to freshen up the sound and I was horrified because it was not ready for my vocals. Probably in the future we won't write some songs in those keys, but we learned to write in a different way. I had to use my voice in areas I didn't think I could. It was amazing, it made us all grow, so challenging.

So he enabled you to grow?

Yes, he did, he pushed us.

What would a world without music be for you?

We might not exist. I think a world without music would be completely chaotic and in destruction. It couldn't be, it's hard to imagine.

I understand, when you are feeling down or something, music is always there.

Yeah, it's always there.

What do you have with Batman? The first track is called Gotham, so I had to ask.

Batman is part of most kids' childhood in some way and I think that Arkham City, all the bad things and people who try to be good but have to fight this line of demons in Gotham is pretty much a parallel to reality. I thought this is perfect, this is what happening to me and this way we bring nostalgia into it.

The series is also nice.

Yeah, they're pretty good. They got better I think. I love Bruce, he always has to make choices and he is trying to be a good guy, but sometimes he is in this grey area where he is trying so hard to be good, but life circumstances are putting him in those tough places, that's interesting.

We all feel like that sometimes. Can you tell me a bit about the plans after Prevail II?

Our plan after Prevail II is basically to tour. We have a lot of music to get around. Even Prevail I has so much more touring to do, once Prevail II is out I feel like we have probably a couple of years of touring. In those couple of years we will do something fun.

You like touring very much?

We are still not touring all the time in busses and this is the first year in almost ten years of me being on the road that I've someone helping with merchandising stuff. It's a really hard lifestyle, it was really fun for the first 8 years. The last two years are harder, as I've gotten older. I am almost 30, but I started doing band tours since I was 18. Driving shitty-ass vans across the country, sleeping on floors in sleep bags, I've been slugging it out for a while. Now, the shows are what makes it worth for me, but I don't enjoy the movement and the exhaustion anymore as much. When we're on a bus I enjoy touring, but that's not all the time. Like now, we're sleep deprived for three weeks, it's brutal.

I can imagine that it is pretty brutal sometimes.

It can change with the band's ability to finance things. If you're on a bus tour and you've some crew helping you, it makes a world of difference. I think I would feel a little happier. When we are doing this now, while we are driving we are sitting out for like twelve hours, sleeping four hours, setting up everything. It's hard to enjoy that for me anymore.

When you're telling me this, than why are you doing it? In The Netherlands we have a pop-singer, called Anouk, who says she's only going to tour when she need money.

This band has never made money, I am still waiting for the day we break even. The reason I am still doing this is that my intention never changed. I love the shows and I love how music connects people, I am just addicted to that. Seeing how it brings all these people together is a wonderful thing, which I think is necessary in this world. I feel privileged to be a small piece of that.

We feel privileged that you bring that to us, because I think people with such a dedication as yours is a rarity. We have a very angry world right now and there need to be people who make it a little bit lighter.

We do have a angry world and I think so too. Everyone together makes this all happen, it's kind of a necessary working machine. I am really grateful to everyone in art in the art of music general.

Is there something you would like to tell our readers?

I just want to say thank you all for your support and your love along the way. I feel so grateful for everything that's happening in my life and with this music. Check out our new album, Prevail II, when it comes out, which is on May 11, 2018. It's going to be very exciting to release another round of new music. We are going to tour in 2018 through Europe, if anyone is around there, come on out. I want to do a shout out to our manager, because she doesn't get thanked that often. She is an exceptional person, who does everything for free and works her ass off. I want to give her a little love.

She sounds like a wonderful person, what's her name?

She's very generous, her name is Susan Bullen.

What do you expect from tonight's show?

Usually it's best to have no expectations, but I think it's going to be awesome. I see the excitement about it, which makes me excited. I can't wait to see everyone.

Are you a different person on stage than you're right now?

I think I am the same person, I really care, but a lot more. Passion is coming out, someone told me they loved the aggressive energy and I thought it was funny because I don't feel like a very aggressive person. I am a Libra on the scale side, that's pretty much what I am. I have a very passionate heart, it all gets unleashed on stage. It's going to be a very high energy impact.

Are you nervous right before you go on stage?

Sometimes I still am very nervous, then I have butterflies and when we already can hear people I get even more nervous.

What's the reward after the show?

For me, the reward is seeing people smiling. If people are smiling we did something right. I always like to talk to people and just see what they're feeling. That's a massive reward.

You always try to be at your best?

Yes, I think that everything I have inside me always comes out at the show. It doesn't matter how many people are going to be there, it will be the same every time. People deserve that.

You also deserve the recognition. How do you see yourself in the future?

I don't know, I hope the band keeps growing, so we can keep doing this, because I am not ready to stop. I know I'll definitely be a mom, I am that kind of woman. There will be kids at some point, not now obviously. There is no room for that in our schedule, it has to fit somehow without compromising our lives.

So even with kids you won't give up making music?

No way, I'll find a way for that. Maybe we will start a family band. My boyfriend also sings, so we actually might end up doing that.

Your boyfriend shares the same passion?

He does. It's really nice and the biggest part of it is that you can trust each other. It's hard to understand if you aren't doing the same thing. You are not with each other that much. I would love to be with him more, but we are both doing our own things and I am used to this at this point.

Does he also makes metal music?

He does, he makes progressive metal. He was in The Netherlands recently, singing in Ayreon's Universe show, Tommy Karevik.

He's amazing, I was there.

I was there every night, so I probably passed you. Those were great shows, the visuals were amazing.

Arjen Lucassen is really a mastermind.

Yeah, he is. Joost van den Broek as well. Actually Arjen's girlfriend is very creative, she came with most of the visuals apparently. There are a lot of creative people in this country.

*Kobra points at Tim's Judas Priest t-shirt and says "cool shirt!"*

Yeah, you saw a Judas Priest concert and you thought "this is what I want to do", right?

Yeah, that's exactly what happened. My dad took me and it changed my world. It was everything, the music, the way my boys would fit into it. That moment really sets me on this course.

In 2015, we went to a Judas Priest concert (check our live review here) and Rob Halford can still sing great!

Hell yeah, he is definitely one of those guys who is taking care of his voice. He has a really good vocal technique. Besides that he sounds good, he is also really taking care of it.

He always want to be the best he can be.

And he is, he is the queen of metal!

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