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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: Inquiring Blood - Morbid Creation

Offering their sound at its fullest, German death metallers Inquiring Blood have had their careers shaped mightily by their ravenous live assault that has brought their grooving brand of classic death metal in line with the scene giants of the past. With a six-year hiatus between releases, the quartet finally released their sophomore full-length December 16, 2016 on new label Kernkraftritter Records.

Coming together with a furious assault, the band launches into their attack quite evidently as it’s immediately apparent they’ve not lost their touch in the half-decade silence. Featuring efforts like “Japanese Knife Assassin,” “Death Row” and “Death and Decay,” this one is filled with tight, churning groove-styled riff-work throughout here that are straightforward and ravenous which creates a solid, cohesive sound to their attacks. When added together with a solid balance of melodic flurries and patterns such as “Hell Commander” and “Suffocation,” the album creates a rather reasonable atmosphere that comes off as a great fit to what’s being attempted here as the overall attack simply revels in simplistic mid-tempo rhythms. Given that this leaves the material generally upbeat and lively, there’s a lot to really like about the style of attack this creates, although it does leave the album feeling quite one-note and simplistic for the vast majority of the time here. There’s very little deviation or dynamic qualities about the music within, regardless of the intensity or quality of the performances which makes for a rather troubling route here as this one tends to just go through the motions of its chosen style and not really offering anything to change it up and it can become highly monotonous as a result. That becomes much more prominent here as it goes along since this one really doesn't need to go for as long as it does here, as there are a few too many tracks for this kind of ultra-simplistic style doing the same thing to really make any sense for why it went that long. Still, this doesn’t really lower the album that much as it still gives this a lot to like overall.

While still somewhat troubled by its simplistic nature and overall attack, the fact that this one goes for quite a strong showcase of this rather one-note style does give this one enough to be able to overcome that enough to be a fine if unessential selection for death metal aficionados or fans of this simplistic style. 8/10

Written by Don Anelli

Inquiring Blood Official Website
Inquiring Blood Facebook
Inquiring Blood Twitter

Review: Edenbridge - The Great Momentum

If you ask me Edenbridge sets themselves apart from other bands in the genre. Why? This mostly has to do with Sabine Edelsbacher’s characteristic vocal style. Even though these vocals do sound a bit poppy at times, especially when it comes to the heavier metal tracks, it’s clear that Edenbridge focuses on clear and bombastic vocals. You can not only hear this in the up-tempo metal tracks, but also in the somewhat quieter songs and even in the beautiful ballads like “Until The End of Time”. Is this necessarily a good thing? I would say it is not. It goes without saying that Sabine Edelsbacher can sing. Quite admirable actually but, every now and again I have a feeling she could just as easily been in a musical or something. Granted, I am not familiar with the earlier Edenbridge albums, so I can’t say whether this is common for the band or if in some cases it would have been better to tone the bombastic greatness down a bit. However, this is certainly not the case in the earlier mentioned “Until The End of Time”. In this case, adding the male vocals makes it a very harmonious track.

What also stands out are the awesome guitar solos, the Spanish-like acoustic guitar in “The Die Is Not Cast” and the catchy “The Moment Is Now”. Not forgetting the awesome all-round greatness of “The Greatest Gift of All” What an incredible epic closing event!

All-in-all The Great Momentum by Edenbridge does what it needs to do and is a straightforward metal record with a lot of diversity in the songs and prominent leading vocals, which do take some getting used to. But once you do, you will surely be pleased!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden

Edenbridge Official Website
Edenbridge Facebook

Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: Mors Principium Est - Embers Of A Dying World

The Finnish melodic death metal band Mors Principium Est is still in the shadow of more prominent bands from both their home country and from abroad, albeit already releasing their sixth album on 10th of February, called “Embers of a Dying World”. Let’s check it out!

With a current lineup which contains none of the founding members, how much can be left of Mors Principium Est’s unique style? The answer: a lot, and it’s reaching perfection, too. Brutality and in-your-face kickass metal mix very nicely with a melodic tone. On the self-titled (translated) track, “Death Is The Beginning”, we even find female vocals. Main songwriter and composer Andy Gillion, who also works as a soundtrack producer, threw in bits and pieces of choirs, such as at the beginning of “Into The Dark” and “The Ghost”. The tracks are composed in an overall dramatic way, creating a haunting atmosphere. Symphonic elements are perceivable for instance during the instrumental “Agnus Dei”, and we even find industrial influences in “Masquerade”. The great compositions are rounded off by top-notch mixing and mastering by Thomas Johansson at Panic Room Studios in Sweden, guaranteeing an epic listening experience.

Conclusion: This is an extremely well-rounded album, solidifying the unique style of Mors Principium Est all while still being innovative. There’s literally nothing to criticize, so go ahead and enjoy what could easily be the album of the year 2017 in the melodeath genre! 10/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Mors Principium Est Official Website
Mors Principium Est Facebook

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Interview: Cellador

On March 10, power metallers Cellador will release their new album, called Off The Grid, on Scarlet Records. DutchMetalManiac’s Don Anelli already reviewed Off The Grid here, now he interviews Cellador’s vocalist/guitarist/founder Christopher Adam Petersen. Read it below.

So, first off, let’s talk about the new album. Are you pleased with its reaction so far?

As of this interview I have seen an “Album of the Year Contender” proclamation, a few perfect ratings, and a half dozen or more 9 out of 10, 4.5 out of 5 star ratings. Reactions have been incredibly stellar so far! It’s such a great feeling too after laying low for so long. We’re receiving personal feedback from many of our old friends in the heavy metal press and industry as well. It’s been a very warm welcome back.. couldn’t ask for more! I try not to let the feedback get to my head, but really it’s been so great, and we’re grateful to receive such a warm welcome back.

Do you have a favorite track off the album? What makes it special for you?

I have current personal favorites, but it has changed over time. I think “Wake Up the Tyrant” is the most sing-a-long, “Break Heresy” is the most fun, “Shimmering Status” has the best vocal performance, “Shadowfold” is the heaviest, “Off the Grid” is the most uplifting etc. Some of the songs were written much longer ago than others (Swallow Your Pride was originally written 10 years ago, the oldest one) so there’s some bias there as I’m much more acquainted with some of them more than others. As we all know, a newer song we write is usually more exciting for the songwriter. At some point every song has been my favorite. I really tried to make an album that could be played from beginning to end relatively easily. They are all to the point, high energy, catchy songs. I’d like to think if you are in the mood to play some Cellador in your stereo, all the songs can be contenders for your listening session.

The only ‘complication’ this creates is that it’s been incredibly difficult picking which songs will be videos, which will be singles, etc. So far from the feedback of press and others, nearly every song on the album has been picked as favorites by someone. Over half the songs have been chosen as radio picks by internet radio stations, and even the band members have differing choices as to which are their favorites.

We play all the songs live so there’s no question there for setlists at shows.

The album was recorded at Damage Studios in Massachusetts. Why did you decide it was right to record there?

Well the album was actually recorded in Denver, CO in my own studio as well as at our rehearsal space in Arvada, CO. The raw recorded tracks were then sent off to Damage Studios to be edited, mixed, and mastered by Peter Rutcho.

I am a huge fan of Peter Rutcho’s work with Havok’s album “Time is Up.” To me it sounds like a perfect modern heavy metal production. Lots of clarity, great sounding drums, and incredible heaviness. There is no modesty to his mixes, they are balls out, over the top, and we love it. I had been in talks with him for a couple years, almost even had him mix our EP “Honor Forth” back in 2013. Also, and this is important, Pete is a huge power metal fan, AND is a keyboard player as well. So this means he knows very well how to mix in keys, mix in vocals, and produce exactly the kind of sound we’re looking for. Based off experiences with Enter Deception, I told myself this time around I didn’t want to work with someone just for reputation, name, or nice studio, but instead someone who was a fan of the style. There was no translation process in trying to convey what kinds of production we were looking for, because he had nearly the same visions of the music as we did. He knew exactly what we wanted with little explanation required, in fact most of the time he didn’t even have to ask us for mix opinions. Also Pete is a hilarious and down-to-earth dude who speaks on an informal level. He’s like one of our bros. Great guy to have on board!

Why did you decide to have Chris as the producer? Did he bring out anything special to the material while you were recording?

I wrote basically the entire album and was the one really setting the creative vision for what we’re trying to accomplish with this release. I’m a studio guy myself and had the knowledge to manage the album tracking, basic editing, as well as motivating the band members to get the best performances out of them. Anyone who has recorded an album will probably know there’s always someone who needs to be the drill sergeant in the studio, and being the serious guy I am, I had no problem accepting that responsibility.

It's been a while since the group last made a mark on the scene. What happened to the original lineup that caused since a long gap between releases?

Here’s what happened. I founded the band and name back around 2004 in my hometown of Omaha. Through band ads, many jam sessions, and networking I was able to gradually put together a lineup while writing what was to be our first songs, including those on Enter Deception, our first album. Originally things went fairly smooth, I brought in some songs, we recorded a demo, played shows, had fun, and then got signed. I was a Serious Sam from the start and took the band seriously, taking basically a leadership role. I would make sure the band practiced regularly, gave criticisms where needed, managed communications, recordings, lyrics, and songs. This worked well up to the recording of Enter Deception.

But I learned during those years that while it’s easy to get everyone to play along and have fun in the beginning, once that “honeymoon period” in a band ends, then you start seeing members’ true motivations and workability. A lot of the time it works out, but for that lineup it did not. In short, after the success of Enter Deception, every member had differing opinions on who now writes what, how we should sound, where and how often we should tour, who gets what spotlight, who controls what, who leads etc. Several members had unstable lifestyles which created distraction after distraction, and even show cancellations. Their tastes in music would change seemingly overnight, to the point where I wondered if playing in a band of Cellador’s style was more a short term phase for them than an actual career. It basically brought band progress to a standstill. We couldn’t record a follow-up album, because no one was practicing the other person’s songs. Certain members weren’t speaking to each other. We had to cancel tours. It was a bad and very stressful situation. It would have been nice to continue under the same protocol that brought us that successful album and all the opportunities that it created, but the other members did not want to continue that way. Eventually our disagreements led to members gradually quitting and doing their own thing. We had some great times together but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Despite the setbacks, I was still hungry, and wanted the band to continue on. So I relocated to Denver and decided to reform the lineup, carefully assembling players who were all on the same plane. It took a few years, but we’ve been a much more cohesive band since our Denver formation, and it definitely shows on this new album.

How has the bands' style changed over the years, given your growth and maturity from the debut?

Well I certainly made it a personal priority to make sure this 2nd album was on par with the style of Enter Deception. That being said, since the recording of that first album, I learned a lot about studio production, tracking, writing more focused and to-the-point songs, leading and getting what I wanted out of the musical presentation. When I listen back to Enter Deception nowadays, the songs to me sound so… I guess “insecure.” Some weren’t tracked at good pocket tempos, my playing was more shaky, less easy and confident. Really that album is just raw in every way. This time around we’re much more polished but yet not at all tamed if that makes sense.

As it's been a while since the band formed, have you noticed anything different about being in the studio or on the road between then and now?

Major differences in recording. Back then we entered a big professional studio in Florida to track everything. We spent much more money to record basically an inferior product. This time around we tracked everything at my own personal home studio, with our own equipment & resources, and then sent the tracks off to be mixed and mastered exactly to our specifications at a fraction of the cost. Much more efficient this time around!

What else.. well with regards to touring we no longer receive tour support so everything has to be financed through the band’s personal income. Touring is probably as “unglamorous” as ever in this day and age. Ticket prices are lower than ever so bands get paid less and tour in very meager situations. Back then charity sites like Patreon and Kickstarter didn’t exist, and now they’re becoming standards for some bands to thrive.

What plans do you have to promote the album as far as tours or videos?

We just released the first single “Shadowfold” via a lyrics video on Youtube now. We’re confirming production on the first music video to shortly follow that. I’m hoping to release a good number of videos for this album, as mentioned above we think there’s a lot of potential for many of the songs, and we know youtube will big for band reach. We’ll make a video for every song if we can! Along with that, we’re also in a full PR mode at the moment, giving information on the album for review and interviews as the album nears its release date.

Rehearsals are also ongoing as we speak as we are making plans for Summer touring, but I can’t announce anything yet as we’re still working on logistics and routing. We are going to aim for European and other international dates given we’re getting a good push there this time around.

So, we’ll end this on a fun note. What’s your all-time favorite city to play in live?

I loved Montreal! Such a cool vibe there. Runners up include Detroit, New York City, Mexicali (Mexico), and Minneapolis.

Do you have any messages for the readers of DutchMetalManiac?

Many thanks to our Dutch fans who have reached out and also the amazing review by DutchMetalManiac! You guys are on the forefront of our minds and it’s our definite intention to visit you for shows in support of this album! Keep up with us online as we announce more details, songs, and tours in support.

Cellador Official Website
Cellador Facebook
Cellador Twitter

Review: Xandria - Theater Of Dimensions

So, the new album of Female Fronted Metal band Xandria is here. Is it mean to say that this is the Epica album I have been waiting for? In some way, yes, maybe it is. Because Theater of Dimensions obviously has some folky sound to some of the songs. Also, Dianne van Giersbergen’s voice differs quite a bit from the voice of Simone Simons, especially in the lower parts and the songs aren’t about conspiracy theories and what not, but rather have a fantasy ring to them. Despite all that I really can’t deny the feeling that Theater of Dimensions has some similarities to some of the earlier Epica albums. But, surprisingly I do have to say that when listening to the first song “Where The Heart Is Home” it became clear to me that I much rather listen to Dianne her voice than that of Simone, even when only comparing the high pitch vocal parts of these two ladies! That was something I didn’t expect at all!

And what about the instruments? Well, it’s all very tight if you ask me! Old-fashion heavy metal riffs combined with screeching guitar solos and catchy keyboards, it’s all there! And the drums? Oh man! Those are really at the epicenter of every single song. Each track has totally different drum parts and this makes for the album to be fresh and exiting to listen to. Combine this with the many different music styles on the album and you will never get bored! From heavy songs like “We Are Murderers (We All)” to Folk Metal songs like “Ship of Doom” with beautiful ballads like “Dark Night of the Soul”, this album is so versatile that I am sure it will appease a lot of people, even those who are not familiar with Xandria.

There is another great thing about the album though, not only does Theater of Dimensions have beautiful high pitched lady choirs but also very well timed low pitch male choirs which make some songs even more dynamic!

Lastly, we have to talk about the title track “Theater of Dimensions”. This song beautifully demonstrates everything I just talked about in this review. This song literally has everything and is truly an epic masterpiece like the ones we know from the earlier mentioned Epica and respectfully Nightwish! Despite the track feeling much more simplistic than for instance Nightwish’ “The Poet and the Pendulum” or “The Greatest Show on Earth”, I think we can safely say that Xandria really holds their own and gracefully shows that they are a mighty force to be reckoned with!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden

Xandria Official Website
Xandria Facebook
Xandria Twitter

Review: Haxxan - Loch Ness Rising

Formed in 2011, Ohio-based black metallers Haxxan came together from scene veteran Killjoy DeSade’s desire to offer a more traditionally-based old-school black metal attack that gets fleshed out into a stellar outlining of Aleister Crowley’s life. Bringing together a crop of fine musicians into a fully-fledged unit, the group prepares its full-length debut December 2, 2016 on Hell’s Headbanger Records.

Taking its cues back from the genre’s start, this here is quite an adept and wholly enjoyable offering taking on the simplistic nature of early black metal. Efforts like the title track, “93” and “Babalon” are reliant much more on simple riffing chords and structures which take on the heavier aspects of the genre far more than they do the swirling tremolo-picked rhythms, featuring a heavy take on those plodding, doom-like sprawls than anything else. This creates the feeling of plodding, oppressive doom with the simple patterns and riff-work that charges along quite nicely with the riffing coming along rather well with the use of ethereal, atmospheric keyboards to complete the picture in terms of generating the tight, churning atmosphere in this one. As well, the inclusion of fiery, more energetic rhythms like “A.A. (Arcanum Arcanorum),” “Disciples of the Silent” and “Chemical Perversions” come off quite dynamic compared to the swirling mid-tempo efforts throughout the rest of this one and offers a slightly more varied approach within here. That the majority of these tracks are placed in the second half here is where this one falters somewhat, as despite the competence and professionalism of the performances of all involved the fact remains that this one doesn’t flow together smoothly in terms of running order, starting slowly and then building up to a cohesive if still odd pairing since it’s all joined together rather than spread out. Given that this is the main issue, there’s not a whole lot to dislike here.

Without a whole lot of really important flaws even if they are noticeable in the end, this one comes off rather nicely for a debut offering which is no surprise given the talent involved and makes this one quite a solid offering for those who follow the creative side involved or are fans of the more simplistic brand of old-school black metal. 8/10

Written by Don Anelli

Haxxan Facebook

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: Wormhole - Genesis

Forged just in 2015, multinational brutal death metallers Wormhole have gathered an impressive roster of scene veterans together into a wholly technical, blistering compilation of all things brutal and heavy for one impressive and pummeling offering. Wasting no time unleashing their twisting, turning brand of attack, the group unleashes its full-length debut November 30, 2016 on Lacerated Enemy Records.

Given the stellar musicianship behind this one, it’s little surprise that this one manages to come across as brutal and pummeling as it does. It’s effortless how “Nurtured in a Poisoned Womb,” “Symbiotic Corpse Possession” and “Gravity Manipulation Unit” can switch up from offering frenzied razor-wire churning riff-work filled with utterly dynamic, twisting technical patterns that are just as strong in concept as they are in execution when they’re bathed in these complex, challenging patterns that dominate the album. Coupled together with efforts like “Battle Logic Disrupted,” “Automated Distress Signal” and “Genesis Chamber” that feature a more traditional series of churning riffing patterns as well as melodic accents alongside that stellar mixture of swirling technicality and a generous helping of ferocious slams within here, this one comes across with a more fully-formed and impressive mixture of brutal and technical elements than expected for a debut offering. Bringing out the mechanical technicality with the swarm of slams throughout this one makes for a thunderous, brutal offering which manages to work wonders for the atmosphere of this one, yet that also brings up the album’s one main detriment in that this one does manage to sound so clean and thunderous that it really loses a lot of its individuality in what’s going on in the album. There’s so much blasting and twisting, turning technical slamming featured here that it all comes off as rather routine and one-dimensional which really does hold this one down. Otherwise, there’s not much to dislike this one.

With some rather enjoyable elements throughout here and some minor flaws that strike this one down, this one is a rather nice and enjoyable debut effort that works nicely enough for fans of the members’ acts involved in this project or fans of the vicious, mechanical-sounding brutal death metal sound. 8.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

Wormhole Facebook

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Review: Moonloop - Devocean

My first review after a break, and I get to review this masterpiece. The band plays a more progressive groovy death metal sounding metal, and they play on their strength just right.

One thing you will not miss on this album are the polyrhythmic on the drums and in the riffs as well, and the strong point of the album is that even though the polyrhythmic are all over the album it never gives off a sense of overuse of them. All tracks are groovy with some interesting fills on the drums and intricate riffs as well, and you can hear that the drums are played with extreme precision in unison with the metronome and also there is not one point in the drums that sound out of place or that can throw you off balance in the riff.

Apart from some minor issues I had with the guitar and bass levels I do not have a beef to settle with this album, even the vocals are mixed in and performed with great skill. I loved the melodies of the album, subtle and yet effective, they convey the desired effect of the riff straight home.

All in all, I loved this album every second of it, and it gave me a feeling of groove I got when I listened to Pantera and bands like that. I give this album a 9.5/10.

Written by Nikola Milošević

Moonloop Official Website
Moonloop Facebook
Moonloop Twitter

Interview: Plateau Sigma

Last year Italian doom metallers Plateau Sigma released Rituals. Now, DutchMetalManiac’s Alessandro interviews vocalist/guitarist Manuel Vicari, read it below.

Bienvenuti! Thank you for having this long distance interview from Canada with me and DutchMetalManiac! I am impressed with your FB page story: “Plateau Sigma is a musical project born in the autumn of 2010, driven by one simple ambition: to unite the verb primordial death and doom metal to the rarefied and sensual atmospheres of new wave of dark rock”. Please explain!

Well, buongiorno a voi! We always try to unify the power and the mood of doom metal, with the sensuality and the atmospheres of the dark wave, it’s, and will always be our greatest "chimera".

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

We used to say here in Italy, themedal has two faces, to explain the pros and the cons of certain things, in the good old times, there were much money and few bands, and less possibility to spread your words. Now you have all the "comforts" but you have to merge from a deepest oceans of bands, with similar feelings and behaviour. Always an hard task, isn it? Ahahahahah.

Having been to Italy and have relatives right there on Via Ventimiglia, Pegli, Pra, is the focaccia still amazing or did it go all gluten free? Oh sorry, metal, right. What’s the current metal trend around the Liguria and Europe in general and what do you think about it?

I was born in XXMiglia man! Glad you know our beautiful area! Fear not my friend, there are many artisans of ligurian products, trying always to follow the old and pure way, in order to maintain the traditions true! Ahahahah, best question ever!! Anyway, there are good bands everywhere, even in Italy, less band here in our region, but the question remains still one. Are you able to do the best you can, keeping a humble heart, to achieve your goal, we’ll try with all our strength to make music that could be decent, for us, and for the ones which listen.

So your band name; from where? What is your next level and are you on a plateau now?

The name Plateau Sigma derived from the name of the depressive black metal project Benighted in Sodom's album. It sounded gladly, obscure, and sensual, no involving on drugs, I have to say, just an attempt to take an original monicker.

Can you say how you arrange and record your music? Is it a jam or does the writing get done first?

I’m the "main" songwriter, despite everyone worked hard in many aspects of the composition. Francesco is very focused on the sounds and the dynamics of the songs, Nino, always tries to be original and "one step forward" with his drumming style. Maurizio, he is the purest side of our project in term of music, so if we are moving too much "outside" the composition, because of our attempt to try something new, he draw us to retain the "pure" word of doom. As you can see, everyone with it’s part, is Plateau Sigma.

Give us some insight on your lyrics and where inspiration comes from for you.

Antiquity, rituals, sex, death, and science, with an esoteric and abstract attempt to be poetic, at least. We try ahahahah.

As we go, give us Plateau Sigma’s 2017 predictions:

1. WW III or Peace on Earth
2. Aliens Land – Aliens Keep On Going
3. Music Industry Better – Music Industry Worse
4. Italian Beer Better – Canadian Beer Better
5. Currently reading….

Italian and Canadian beer better, not just because Francesco’s brother is a very good beer maker! Ahahahahah, I’m joking, I prefer much more the peace on earth...

Thank you and all the best success! Before you go, please tell DutchMetalManiac’s 1500+ followers one last, important thing!

All the best to you too my friend, keep up the good work!! We are honored!! Hugs!

Plateau Sigma Facebook

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: False Reality - End Of Eternity

False Reality goes back quite a few years, although not many albums saw the light. One can hear that the band sounds like a whole and the music has over the years matured to be able to produce this really good album.
There are a few things odd about the sound of the band, but who said ‘odd’ is a bad thing? Sometimes listening to the album feels like being in between the studios of Dimmu Borgir and Katatonia. On the one hand there is melodic rock, on the other hand a hinge to black metal. This can easily be annoying: make up your mind, please, but the band makes it work very good. The song in the middle of the album, Rih Al Khamsin is basically the best way of hearing a balance in the different styles. Almost like the ‘beauty and the beast’- effect in gothic metal, the grunts and clean, almost pop-style vocals weave in in a great way.
After the start that is quite clearly some sort of melodic death, It was a bit of a frightening thing to suddenly hear the very clean vocals in the second song The Silence Within, but after getting used to it, the combination is great. Although the end of the song is a bit too much snatching from any black metal band, the songs are all rocksteady. The album is never boring, every so often new influences pop up without losing the metal feel to it.
The album finishes off with the 8 minute song Dear Friend. Here the accent of the Romanians is heard for the first time and can work out a bit weird. But then again it sounds disarming in a way and after having heard this really surprisingly great album it is easy to forget an forgive that. Then again…maybe they wanted to give the album a Transylvanian touch ;)

Musical advise? Not hard: go and buy.

Written by Martijn Bakker

False Reality Official Website
False Reality Facebook

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Live review: Doomstad #1 at EKKO, Utrecht, The Netherlands, February 2nd, 2017

When you’ve seen Steak Number Eight live once you just need to experience it another time. When I saw the bill for Doomstad #1, I saw a killer line up and I needed to be a part of that crowd. As said, on February the 17th, I went to EKKO Utrecht for the concert.

The first band on the bill was Obese, the name says it all. Big, fat, huge riffs by the guitar player who really knew how to use his wah pedal better than Kirk Hammett does on his solo’s. It was also the last show for singer Koos. I think everyone there can agree he went out with a roar. The songs really stood out for me because of the enthusiasm put into the live show. Every single band member was enjoying themselves to the fullest and the crowd noticed! Halfway in the setlist Obese called forth from the audience their new singer. He seems like a very fitting replacement for the previous singer and their roars collided on a very load level.

Second on the list was the Rotterdam based doom band Dool, led by frontwoman Ryanne ‘Elle Bandita’ van Dorst. That was actually a surprise for me. I never heard of the band before but I was so glad I stayed for their setlist. Transforming the stage into a black hole with a 3 man strong guitar assault. Rarely have I seen a band who utilizes the three guitar assault better than Dool. Every guitar has its own melody or riff to play. It was a trance inducing experience for everyone in the building. Slowly closing your eyes and letting your neck take over control. Nodding along with the repetitive (in a good way) riffs. So far, so good and went to smoke outside with a dazed feeling in my head and ears.

Headliner of the evening and the best Belgian band you could ever find. Steak Number Eight. This band is a mighty force. Led by Brent Vanneste who produces screams you hear above the noise without even screaming into a microphone. With a setlist packed to make everyone feel like they have been hit by a truck while being already trampled by a herd of elephants. The riffs man… never before have I heard a song hitting harder than “Dickhead” live. While Brent and the crowd were screaming BANANA, BANANA, BANANA you could definitely see Brent slipping into the same spacey vibe everyone was into. With the outro things were just lost, Brent went totally fucking apeshit. After the last song he walked off stage on the side were I was standing and I looked him in the eye and there is something in his eyes that is not understandable. A bleak, grim, black hole. Pure rage and energy. Aggression in its primal form.

I’ve heard all studio recordings by this band and every damn song is amazing or has a good purpose in the full spectrum. The way Steak Number Eight brings songs to the stage is unheard of. Once again, it is an experience rather than a concert. You just slip away in your mind and snap out of it when the last note has ringed out.

Also on a side note, The sound engineers were the best I’ve ever heard. Every note was clear, not too loud and recognizable. Kudo’s are absolutely not enough to express it.

Wonderful evening put together by EKKO and Never Mind The Hype. I would like to express my gratitude to every band on the stage that night. You were all beyond amazing.

This is how a concert should be. 10/10. Take notes every other band on the planet.

Written by Joost van der Leij

Obese Facebook
Dool Official Website
Dool Facebook
Steak Number Eight Facebook

Interview: Gothic

Romanian metallers Gothic just released their latest album called Demons. DutchMetalManiac’s Julia Obenauer already reviewed it here and now you can also read her interview with Gothic below!

Hey guys! Thank you for doing this interview with DutchMetalManiac. Could you briefly introduce your band?

Gothic is one of the oldest names in the Romanian metal history, being formed in 1992, a truly dedicated pure metal band.

You’re in the business for 25 years already, but had quite a ride until now. Do you care to tell us about the band history?

The whole thing started in December 1992, when 3 teenager metalheads drinking a beer in the newly opened (at the time) Barock Petrosani (and now the oldest rock club in Romania) decided to form a band. After playing a lot as a trio in the rehearsal room, the band decided to join forces with a second guitarist (Marius `Ciuca` Vodnar), who brought a lot of creativity and musical inspiration to the band. The results were great, so in 1995, after recording 2 demos, the band registered to a band contest in the only rock show at the national television at the time. (`Intalnirea de la miezul noptii` - `The midnight gathering`). Unexpectedly, we won the first prize, so this is when things begun to roll. We got support from the media, including a lot of TV appearances, got invited to tons of festivals and shows and won a lot of fans all over the country. Later on, in 1997, we recorded our first album on tape (`Touch Of Eternity` - Bestial Records), that sold in more than 3000 copies at the time. We still play some of those songs, as the older fans are still craving for them. Gothic was disbanded in 1998, as their members grew apart, in different musical directions. Me, I emigrated to Belgium, where I formed the band Innerfire and had an album published at Painkiller Records. When I returned to Romania, in 2005, I reformed Gothic, with a new line-up, as the original members were not living in our hometown anymore. We begun to play a lot all over Romania, and also a few foreign countries, but unfortunately the frequent line-up changes prevented us to record a new album. It wasn`t until 2011, when we got a more stable line-up, that we begun recording a new album, at Consonance Studio Timisoara (the studio belongs to Dordeduh, the ex-Negura Bunget people, you know the story..) The recording took one year all in all, and the album `Expect The Worst` was released in early 2013 in an autoproduced manner. In 2012 we also won the national Wacken Metal Battle, and we went to Wacken to represent Romania. The live activity was very intense since 2012, and even if we changed our singer and the second guitarist left us, we now have a stable formula and we feel like we could continue for many years ahead. In 2014 we started composing the new songs at a cabin in the mountains, and later we begun recording the drums at the same Consonance Studio in Timisoara. The rest of the instruments were recorded in our rehearsal room, and the final mix belongs to Nimrod Szedlacsek, a brilliant Romanian producer.

Your band name is a bit misleading at first, as you’re a melodeath band. How did you come up with the name?

Back in 1992 we were big fans of Paradise Lost. The name of their album `Gothic` sounded great at the time, as it wasn`t yet a denomination of a music genre.

Let’s talk about your new album, “Demons”. It’s got good reviews so far, and I personally loved it as well. How did you guys approach the songwriting and the recording?

It was a long job. I usually record all my ideas on my computer. When, in October 2014, I already had a lot of riffs written down, I decided, along with the other guys from the band, to take a minimum of stuff (like little amps, drums and guitars) to a cabin in the mountains that belongs to our drummer, Vlad. We spent a few days in the mountains, far from civilization, the magic worked, and we came down with 4 songs that we put together in those blessed days. The other 4 songs were put together later, and this is how `Demons` came to life. The whole process of recording was documented and can be watched here.

How long did it take to get the whole album done?

It was a process that took exactly 2 years. Of course, it was done in phases. First we recorded the drums for the initial 4 songs, then the other 4 songs were recorded one by one, in our rehearsal room, as they were composed. Then I cleaned, arranged, cut and mixed the whole lot for a few months, I sent the stem tracks to Nimrod, our producer, and he worked for one more month to the final mix. In September 2016 Loud Rage Music approached us to release the album, we agreed upon it, and since the release, they did a very good job !

What I really loved is that you blended in some of the typics of other metal genres, like doom or heavy metal. To call you a melodic death metal band would not give your sound justice. Did you always experiment with different styles?

Pretty much. We always were big fans of both classic metal and the newer forms of metal. The music is a combination of all of our musical preferences.

Can we anticipate on another record soon? Any plans in that direction?

We are really slow with recording new albums, so I don`t think another product will come to life before 2019. As for the new direction, I would like to try to continue to experience the path we`ve written for ourselves, as I consider our music totally original.

You’re considered one of Romania’s big names in metal, but this country’s metal scene is not so well-known here in Western Europe. What’s your view on Romania’s metal scene? Any names we should look out for?

I think that we are lucky to live in a big country where metal is alive and well, we have a solid metal scene, along with many clubs, festivals, organisers, people involved, etc. What we lack is a stronger support from the media, both mainstream and underground. But things are getting better slowly. As for the bands, there are plenty of great rock & metal bands in Romania : Altar, Taine, Guerillas, Cargo, Nightloosers, Bucovina, Hteththemeth, Dirty Shirt, Dordeduh, E-an-na, Invader, For The Wicked, L.O.S.T. among many, many others, that I strongly recommend you to check out !

Any other bands or records you are particularly into these days?

As in the last 2 years I was really busy to record and mix my album, and also other bands, I wasn`t able to pay much attention to the newer releases, so I am kinda stuck with the classics, I mean, I got the new albums from the big names (like for example, I adore the new Sepultura - Machine Messiah), but haven`t got time to discover any new bands. I will do that really soon.

You won the Wacken Open Air metal battle in 2012 and represented Romania there. How was it to play at such a big event? Any cool memories on or off the stage you feel like sharing?

It was one of the best experiences of our lives. We were treated there as every other bands, no matter how big. I remember we had dinner among members of Helloween and Opeth. The gig itself was great, as around 10000 people attended to our show. We also have met a few of our idols, who played Wacken in 2012 (Testament, Scorpions, Cradle Of Filth, Overkill, Doro, among tons of others). It was truly great !!

What was the best gig / tour you played so far?

The highlights were Wacken, also Ostfest 2012 (where we met Lemmy), Rockstadt Fest 2013, Barock Fest, and pretty much all of our gigs. We have a strong fan base, people are attracted to Gothic, and we`re giving them back a lot of energy ! We are pretty happy with that !

Do you have a fund or bizarre story from on the road you feel like sharing?

Our most bizarre trip ever was playing in India (January 2017), where we played in a festival with Katatonia. It was the most exotic place we`ve ever been, and a video documentary will be out soon. We have a lot of videos from the road here.

Any upcoming tours here in Europe we can look forward to?

This year we are scheduled to play an indoor fest in Dresden, Germany, on 6th October, in Skullcrusher Club, and we will play a few dates in Czech Republic as well. We will probably play in Belgium too, as we do every year. Otherwise, we are playing almost every weekend in Romania, to present our new album. More dates will be announced soon !

Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Come to our shows, we are much better on stage than on cd. Also check out our Youtube page and our Facebook page . Thank you for the interview and keep on rockin` !!!

Gothic Facebook

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Review: Mercury Rain - St Matthieu, remastered & reborn

Most of us must by now be familiar with the metal female voices phenomenon that has been increasing its share and influence on the metal scene the last two decades. Mercury Rain, formed back in 1994 when that genre was in the midst of arising, is one of the earliest representatives of it. It didn’t start as a female fronted metal band though. In fact in its early days they didn’t even have a singer. It started as a collaboration between bassist Jon Hoare, drummer Andy Pester and guitarist Dion Smith with the sole intention to just play metal. Only when Sonia Porzier replied to a ‘singer wanted’ advert and blew the guys away, the road to female fronted metal was treaded. After the release of a demo in 2000 followed by two more releases within the next 4 years, the band split up in 2006. Back in 2008 Jon and Sonia met up with former guitarist Rich Shilitoe and the three of them started writing new material. However, due to personal reasons that renewed collaboration was set on hold until the end of last year. Once more the trio started working together, this time hopefully for good, which resulted in the release of ‘St Matthieu, remastered & reborn’. It’s not a new release, it’s a compilation consisting of the full track list of the 2004 version of ‘St Matthieu, three tracks from ‘Dark Waters’ and two from their demo ‘Where Angels Fear’. All, of course, remastered.

This asks for a different approach, because the music must be reviewed set in the appropriate time frame, over a decade ago. Does this mean ‘St Matthieu…’ is filled with dated, old fashioned songs? Well, no, it does not. Even though at times it’s not hard to tell these songs are not from a recent date, most of the material is still very much up-to-date and can easily match many a recent release. It all starts with an intro, ‘Tales From Beyond’, which is sung in French, revealing Sonia roots and from there on you find yourself in a musical journey that arguably has set the standards for a substantial part of the female fronted metal. Whether it’s in the powerful ‘Sanctuary’ the crushing ‘Chimaera’ or the dreamy, emotional ‘Heaven In Sunset’, many elements that still find their place in modern day female fronted metal are to be found somewhere within Mercury Rain’s work. For those that do not have the patience to sit this through, although in my opinion it is well worth your time, album closer and highlight ‘St Matthieu’ is an awesome 10-minute epitome of what is Mercury Rain, or, probably better, what was Mercury Rain back in 2004.

Being a great album as it is already, especially in the light of the time it was created, the next five songs are a bonus. And not only that, in addition to being a bonus they also show very clearly what style choices the band has made since they started and how much they have grown music- and composition-wise. The three songs from ‘Dark Waters’ (2003) are clearly much more gothic-influenced, creating a darker, more grievous atmosphere, while the two songs from ‘Where Angels Fear’ (2000) sound much more bright and sparkling. Their final release is more a mix of the two, with the addition of elements from other genres of metal, such as power metal. I personally think the path they have followed has been the right one, simply because I think the musical style they display on ‘St Matthieu’ fits them best. Sonia’s operatic voice can definitely be an asset to the more darker style, but frankly she has more to offer than just that. Her voice deserves more variety in the music, which will in turn add more depth to the overall sound. The same can be said from the musicians, they are perfectly capable of playing a dark, gothic type of music, but they too have much more to offer.

Now, back to today. Does this release shine a light on Mercury Rain’s current style and direction? No, of course it does not, all it does is give you a great insight of what the guys and girl are capable of. This is a very good, greatly remastered release to get to know the ‘old’ Mercury Rain and its music, but at the same time nothing more than that. It does not lift the shroud of mystery surrounding them one bit, it merely provides a possible clue on what their new material, which I hope will come eventually, could sound like. Not necessarily a bad thing to be honest, hearing this left me wondering what is still to come. I for one am curious to find out if and how time has left its marks on Mercury Rain and its music. They certainly should be able to play a leading part in whatever genre of metal they decide to play once more, but whether that will happen remains to be seen. Still I advise you to give this one a serious try.

Written by Henric van Essen

Review: Skeletal - Dreadful Life

Formed back in 2007, Finnish death metallers Skeletal emerged from the underground to once again spread the classic, old-school approach to the genre which makes for yet another band in the crowded field of European revivalist death metal bands. With the band slowly and surely getting better with each release, the groups’ debut full-length was released February 2, 2017 on Inverse Records.

Immediately out of the gate, the band attempts to display their love of classic and old-school death metal with a churning, frantic sonic attack that’s quite boisterous and dynamic. Tracks like “Death Works Overtime,” “Sewers of this World” and “Downward Spiral” feature a blistering, fiery sense of old-school elements present throughout here with the album generally bouncing along to feverish, frantic tempos that bring along most of the absolutely engaging moments within this one. Coupled with the fact that the majority of tracks feature blistering thrash-style riff-work and dark, sprawling rhythms alongside those sparkling tremolo-picked accents, altogether these elements help with the old-school feel while also managing to be such enjoyable patterns and arrangements that they’re immensely enjoyable on their own. When this drops into more relaxed territory as in “Leap of Faith” and “Ravaged,” there’s a shift away from the thrashing energies into a more tight, mid-tempo crunch that offers a steadier influence on their pacing which makes for a striking and enjoyable companion piece of material which isn’t far removed from the ravenous and thrashing earlier material and changes it up just enough to get some wholly enjoyable work thrown in as a result which is what makes for a great time overall here. The only place it stumbles is the rather weak, plodding piece that just doesn’t offer up much here and seems like it’s out-of-place with the material as a whole which does lower this one slightly. Otherwise, this one is such a fun and engaging old-school style release.

Filled with a lot of rather engaging and enjoyable positives throughout here, there’s plenty to like about this which is surprisingly heavy and vibrant for a debut release which makes this one a particularly strong and worthwhile offering for all fans into revivalist or simply old-school death in general. 9.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: Morta Skuld - Wounds Deeper Than Time

Finally coming back into the fold, Wisconsin death metallers Morta Skuld have been toiling away in the underground ever since the beginning of their career and especially once they reformed several years back for a nice reunion that’s still on-going. With a new lineup with second guitarist Scott Willecke and bassist AJ joining the fold, the groups’ first post-comeback and fourth full-length overall effort will be released February 17, 2017 on Peaceville Records.

Despite the long layoff, it’s quite clear the band hasn’t lost their step at all as there’s plenty of life left for the group to explore based on this one. Pumping out efforts like “Breathe in the Black,” “Hating Life” and “Against the Origin,” there’s such classic-sounding material filled with plenty of charging mid-tempo riffing and pummeling rhythms that keeps the material tight, intense and straightforward much in the same way that they usually offered in the past, making for a slew of crunchy, highly-impressive efforts. Due to the chaotic nature of these efforts, there’s plenty to work with here once this manages to get the majority of the albums’ running time with these rhythms, so when it changes over into its more mid-tempo elements with “My Weakness,” “In Judgement” and “Becoming One Flesh” there’s a natural balance between the ravenous, crunchy patterns and more mid-tempo, straightforward work that still slogs through the same general intensity and savageness which is what makes for the more cohesive and engaging type of work throughout here. As this is all quite common and expected with the band, that they’re able to reproduce this type of influence and clarity in this day and age makes for quite an impactful time here as this one keeps their old-school tone intact here with a great deal of their changing tones that was quite apparent throughout their catalog. While that’s all good, there’s a decidedly more modern feel and tone in the production that sounds way too clean and processed for such an old-school vibe from the arrangements of the tracks, and that does stick out throughout here quite apparently rather than the murky old-school feel. Still, that’s the only thing really wrong here.

Filled with a lot of great moments and a few minor flaws with the more modernized sound, the fact remains that there’s quite a lot of highly-enjoyable work to be found here as the guys come back into the fold with a dynamic effort that will greatly please fans of their past work or old-school death in general. 9/10

Written by Don Anelli

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: Hyperion - Seraphical Euphony

Formed in late 2007, the Swedish melodic black/death metal outfit utilizing Hyperion have always been quite adept at featuring their old-school black and metal influences carried through their ancestral country-mates that cultivated their sound in the early 90s. With the group rounded out to a sextet with the addition of third guitarist Joel Hagroth, this sophomore album was originally released February 6, 2016 on Black Lion Records.

Once the album gets going, it’s really easy to see where the band has taken its influences from as there’s a rather obvious attack surging throughout here. Tracks like “Novus Ordo Seclorum,” “Moral Evasion” and “Zephyr of Grace” feature a pronounced and distinctive element of striking tremolo-pitched riffing and deep, swirling chugging, giving this the atmospheric and blistering take founded in the early days of the genre where the sparkling melodic leads over the thumping patterns created a heavy and yet still highly melodic attack. Given that majority of the album utilizes these efforts to oftentimes epic stature here, it’s all nicely balanced out by efforts like the title track, “Flagellum Dei” and “Primal Cosmic Ascendency” the fine addition of more relaxed, charging mid-tempo paces which go for a streamlined, swirling tremolo attack and sterling keyboard work which carries this one along into the melodic realm rather than the faster, more frantic efforts which is quite appealing. This dueling approach gives it a fine mixture of both charging, fiery intensity as well as breath-taking melodic interjections featured alongside each other, and the end result is inherently dynamic and well-crafted material. This does result in several tracks where it really feels its length and the epic quality does run against it, though since it’s a rare occurrence this isn’t all too detrimental and doesn’t really hold this one back all that much.

Without a whole lot of really big, detrimental issues to be found here, the fact that this one comes out of the gate with such a strong, impressive attack makes this a worthwhile act to follow in the future and is heartily recommended for all fans of the old-school melodic black/death sound or melodic black metal in general. 9/10

Written by Don Anelli

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review: Gothic - Demons

Romanian melodic death metallers Gothic have quite a journey behind them. Being formed in 1992, they released their first critically acclaimed album “Touch Of Eternity” in 1998. Between 2000 and 2004, the band relocated to Belgium, changed their name to Innerfire and recorded another album, before their guitarist/ vocalist was sent back to Romania, where he re-formed Gothic. Gothic’s lineup changed a couple of times, thus far they have two albums under their belt since being back to Romania. Their 3rd one, “Demons”, was released on 10th of February this year. Let’s check it out!

It becomes clear quite soon that Gothic are not standard melodic death metallers, but rather play a heavy mix of classic death, infused with melodic parts and splashes of heavy metal. This is a recipe for furious tracks, as are the first two on the album, “Shadow Man” and “Disillusion”. The title track comes with some influences from the power metal and doom genres, resulting in a groovy, while still heavy, track. A must-hear! This nice blend-in of different styles can be found throughout the album guaranteeing a very diverse and enjoyable listening experience. “Destroying The Masses” is the by far darkest of the whole lot, being very close to an oldschool death metal song. Of note is also the eighth and final track, “New End”, which is sung entirely in Romanian.

Conclusion: “Demons” is a great, very diverse album. To just put it in the melodeath genre would be too simple, rather Gothic manage to take oldschool death to the present and mix it with a couple of other genres. Production’s great, songwriting’s great, cover art as well, so nothing to complain about! Give it a go! 10/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: Icarius/Drive By Suicide/Malignity/Lycaon - Army Of Metal Compilation

Army Of Metal was an metal evening on March 5th, 2016 in StudioGonz, Gouda. DutchMetalManiac’s Nino Milillo already wrote a live review about it here.

Now, there is a compilation released with four bands who played that night. Let’s give it a spin!

We are starting with “Say No More” by Icarius. These six guys hail from Den Haag, The Netherlands and I really like “Say No More”. It’s heavy, melodic and really well-done! Those vocals from Nick van Oorschot are really powerful, and together with the music it all fits really well. I think, this is something a lot of people can like. From metalheads who can enjoy some melodic tunes to rockers who sometimes enjoy heavier stuff.

Next are Dutch groove metallers Drive By Suicide with “Fuck This”. Immediately when “Fuck This” starts, it can be heard that this is heavier than the first track. Wow, this is nice! It’s very massive and all parts are perfectly fit into each other. Very great bass-lines, great drumming, add some nice guitar-tunes and a vocalist who can do raw vocals as well as other styles in a nice way, great job!

Third track is called “Darkness Of Hell” by Malignity. Malignity’s music is metal, but not really fitting into one specific subgenre. In fact, they have a lot of styles in their influences. That’s something you can hear in “Darkness Of Hell”, which is starting with some building up in a melodic style. Soon it’s getting heavier, it has groove in it as well as melodic tunes. Vocally you’ll hear deep, intense grunts. This is some heavy stuff with a lot of energy in it, very awesome!

Fourth and last track is by a band called Lycaon. Three members of Lycaon were from the Rotterdam-based black/death band Proditor. Now, in Lycaon, the musical style is symphonic black metal with elements of doom in it. Their track is called “The Curse Of Lycaon”. I really like this track, but I think it’s not very special. It’s symphonic black, done in a good way, but that’s it. However, the narrator-parts are nice, but it still feels not very special.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

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Review: Stillborn Slave - Seven Ways To Die

From the opening chords, this MetalCore group from France makes an interesting and forceful effort to keep with this genre. I find this more Grindcore or Death metal, but sure, whatever. The norming of the genres is becoming tiresome; it’s hopefully good or it isn’t!

Although not my favourite on the vox side; too guttural and off key for me (then again, you should hear me sing), the music is quite good! Vengeful sounding with lots of rhythm changes and solos, it emboldens this perspective from their previous album ‘Your Time Is Out’ (great title) from 2012.

‘Fiends’ launches with speed and ferocity and is a great rocker still, the vox don’t do it for me. The tempo changes at about 1:35 are cool and makes for genuine variety. Some good licks in there reminiscent of Mastodon-type players, as well as decent song length.

‘The End of Everything’ is quite fast and lends itself more to Speed metal. Uniquely written and super-fast, this one is enough to push it into the interesting category for me and is listenable enough. The pace is incredible and the solos are very good.

‘I Spit On Your Grave’, cool title and all, leaves me a little short on likes, but starting off with a Judas Priest Jugulator-type pipes-a-clanging sound (meh, and double-meh on THAT album too), will do that. There is some formidable light-speed drums and vocals here and several good chords and riffing, making this a very good song.

‘You Stand Alone’ does that, as one of the faster more easily digested songs for me, with just a little bit more of a metal edge.

The other songs are alright, but largely sound too similar to my Deep-Purpled ear to make a significant entrance. Perhaps on stage it would be different but album wise, they remain a little unnoticeable for me and kind of meld one into the other. Perhaps this is their concept-oriented goal, but I like my metal a little more straightforward. Still, their contribution to the digital world is good!


Written by Alessandro

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Review: Gravebreaker - Sacrifice

Formed back in 2011, Swedish heavy metallers Gravebreaker has taken their time perfecting and honing a stylistic homage to the classic, blazing old-school heavy metal that makes up their overall approach as they’ve gone about building this love affair to the style. Finally at the point of getting to their debut release, the power trio originally self-released the effort August 22, 2016 before a vinyl reissue December 16, 2016 on Gates of Hell Records.

Given their pedigree, the bands’ infectious approach to the genres’ old-school tendencies is given quite a prominent display on here. Efforts like “Overdrive,” “Gravebreaker” and “At the Gates of Hell” are graced with plenty of tight, chugging riffing swirling around the ravenous melodies driving along throughout the efforts as their mid-tempo charge lets the appropriately simplistic riff-work and clubbing drumming bounce along quite energetically to these rhythms in fine fashion. When they get balanced along by the addition of stellar keyboard melodies featured in the title track, “Kill and Kill Again” and “Death Race 2000” this becomes all the more stylistically and enjoyably more 80s-inspired affairs building that classical level of melody alongside the generally metallic riffing that continually charges throughout here. There’s a few rather noticeable factors against this, though, which namely comes from the albums’ incredibly weak and punchless production which tends to hold this one down to nearly unlistenable levels. The guitars just lifelessly swirl around throughout the mix, getting lost in the rumbling bass-lines, battering drumming and high-pitched, gravelly vocals that drown out the riffing it comes off so light. Likewise, it tends to drain a lot of life from the album during the middle sections where it’s more mid-tempo cruisers in terms of tempo rather than just going for the most energetic and engaging efforts elsewhere, causing this to dip into some bland efforts during that section which holds it up. The fact that it’s so adept at homaging the past that it really doesn’t come off really original at all, and it’s obvious about it, which hold it down.

Despite filling itself up with some rather prominent and noticeable flaws, the fact that there’s some good stuff to enjoy about the reasonably energetic affairs here which does get a pass with this being a debut album that overall makes this one worthwhile only for the most devout fans of old-school classic metal genre only. 7/10

Written by Don Anelli

Review: Cellador - Off The Grid

Tormented by an insanely-troubling past, Colorado-based power metallers Cellador have seen themselves beset by label and lineup turmoil that has stunted and very nearly halted the promise shown by their initially-appealing debut work just over a decade prior. Attempting to carry on with a new, solidified lineup, the long-awaited sophomore album will be released March 10, 2017 on Scarlet Records.

Considering the long layoff, it’s entirely possible to forget what the band was about and to fix that the group manages to fly right out of the gate with what made them so promising in the first place. There’s efforts like “Sole Survivors,” “Shadowfold” and “Wake Up the Tyrant” which feature plenty of tight, fast and frantic thrashing patterns laced with strong melodic accents flowing throughout here, generating the kind of explosive up-tempo power metal rhythms full of aggressive attacks in the rhythm. That goes hand-in-hand with a more stripped down, simplistic approach of the title track, “Break Heresy” and “Swallow Your Pride” that generates plenty of fiery, engaging material without the long-winded and aimless approach of their past, streamlining the best tactics into a more substantial and cohesive style of attack that still brings out their best work in propelling plenty of speed and intensity out while displaying top-notch melodic interlaced together for a spectacular and energizing style. Though the epic approach to their past material gave them a somewhat more unique and individualized identity in the field during their initial appearance in the field, the fact is the intervening years and their stripped-down style has now come back against them as it turned them into a slightly rehashed and formulaic style without really doing much else about it, but being not only an engaging approach to the material and given the turmoil within the break it’s commendable to be this fiery and enjoyable all things considered.

Already a strong Comeback of the Year contender, this was quite a surprising tactical change in their style that now comes off like a condensed version of their style that will greatly appeal to fans of their original work or the curious to see how they’ve managed to hold up considering their troubles. 9/10

Written by Don Anelli

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review: F.O.A.D. - Birth Of Extinction

Initially formed back in the 1980s, Swedish thrashers F.O.A.D. existed in various forms until 2012 when the bands’ line-up solidified and the group was able to finally release their first song before proper demo material arrived several years later. Recorded as a three-piece before being joined by second-guitarist Steffan Johansson, the groups’ full-length demo bolstered by their demos was originally released November 25, 2016 on Defense Records.

Being conceived in the original birth of the genre, there’s quite a lot of rather impressive old-school moments on display throughout this one. Efforts like “Avoid the Smell of Semen,” “Chaos of Reign” and “Bastard Son” readily employs fiery, frantic thrash riffing and charging patterns sweeping along at generous, dynamic patterns full of vicious thrash that rips out tight, energetic rhythms that are full of a dark, decrepit atmosphere straight from the genre’s early days. Keeping the ravenous work in check is a series of more mid-tempo and crunchy style of riffing as in “Doomed Rebirth of Christ” and “Deathcamp VIII” that enables for a still-intense if slightly more melodic series of rhythm patterns that lets the riff-work breathe a little more and opening up a nice variation for the material to not remain strictly one-dimensional which besets the album’s single biggest qualm. The album isn’t really that distinguished by a great deal of innovative and memorable moments as the vast majority of the album rips through its blend of fiery arrangements that are competently pulled off and executed but don’t have much else going for them. There are points where it dips into the familiar quite too often to dole out the violence, and it doesn’t really handle the kind of impact it really should. Likewise, the fact that this one comes complete with demo recordings that are quite obviously of a lower quality and taken from a different recording session yet is passed off as a full-length makes for a jarring and nonsensical feel which causes this to stick out rather sharply. Overall, though, considering it’s a debut it’s not too much of a detriment.

Overall not all that terrible of a release and certainly one with it’s fair share of positives, the fact that there’s quite a lot to really like with the influx of old-school rhythms and arrangements, no matter how cliche and familiar they may be, make for a nice addition to any old-school thrash fan in particular. 7.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

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Review: Evenline - In Tenebris

I remember well, around the year 2000, that I got introduced to the Dutch grunge/metal band Green Lizard. When listening to the first song of Evenlines new album In Tenebris, I immediately think back to the year 2000.
The band sounds, like Green Lizard did, energetic, with clean vocals in a more or less progressive metal style. But meanwhile, we are 17 years on, and it would be strange if music like this did not evolve in some way. Luckily it did. Evenline adds grunts to make the music more aggressive and angry every so often, but on the whole the music can be labelled as melodic nu-metal. The problem is that it is very hard to be really outstanding in this type of music, since we have heard a lot of it in the last 10/15 years.
On the whole the album stands well enough, the energy is there, but I think making the sound rawer and less produced would make the band come forward in a better way. Lyrics in for example ‘Never there’: You were never there During all this time Even by my side From cradle to grave You were never there, have potential if there was more emotion in the vocals.
Interesting on this album: the band made a cover of Jamiroquai’s Deeper Underground. That one starts of really nice and gives the song a good body.
Oddly enough, Evenlines previous album, Dear Morpheus, works better on me because the way the guys present the songs is fresher, pointier in a sense.
So all in all, Evenline is a good band and I think their live performance would make the songs come alive more. If they would take that live energy and pour it into an edgy album, next one will be a blast!

Written by Martijn Bakker

Here you can also check our review of Dear Morpheus by Evenline, written by Tim van Velthuysen.

Evenline Official Website
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Monday, February 6, 2017

Review: Dead End Finland - Slaves To The Greed

Dead End Finland hail over from… Finland (surprise!). The quartet formed back in 2008, and released their third album, entitled “Slaves To The Greed”, at the end of last year.

The record kicks off with an electronic intro, which reminds of some old sci-fi series’ title song. Soon enough though heavy guitars and keyboards kick in, and we’re drawn to Mikko Virtanen’s awesome growls, paired with a more progressive-style chorus. The electronic parts are apparently hardwired into the band’s sound, as we find them in all the following songs, and always in that weird 80s-electro-style. What else? The album’s atmosphere is dark rather than melancholic, except for the intro of “Fragments Of The Innocent”, which even has some Celtic influences. Also on it: a nice interlude and an upbeat, somewhat Ensiferum-and-Finnish-Humppa-influenced “Screaming Back To Hell”, the title track featuring quite some pathos…and did I mention the synths? Production’s great, by the way.

Conclusion: “Slaves To The Greed” surely needs some time to getting used to (at least for me), but in the end it’s a very fun album with a unique, refreshing sound and some parts that just make you grin ;) I can recommend the album to fans of virtually any subgenre, so go ahead and listen to it! 10/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Dead End Finland Official Website
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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Review: Anticlockwise - Raise Your Head

From the cruncher-chords and the mix of guttural to highs vox from Claudio, I was impressed!

With ‘Slave’ the tempo shocks me at the ability of these lads. The piano accompaniment is excellent and is a nice touch on this record. These short little pieces are solid on albums and allow the band to jam a little and demo their skills. Nice!

‘Raise Your Head’ was a little disjointed and disconnected for me, but has some great playing a la Yes, (which have never been a favourite of mine.) Perhaps many will disagree, but that’s what I hear. The double bass and frenetic tempo and high vocals make this a little much, although some of the background vocals soften it a touch.

The buildup of ‘Mothertongue’ had me waiting in anticipation and the scream at about 1:03 didn’t disappoint. This has King Diamond-ness all over it and the song is near one of my favourites. No actually, the more I listen to it, it is my fave.

The Screamo-type rap on ‘The Broken Mirror’ at about 00:52 on freaks me out and again makes me appreciate how this band can incorporate different styles and make it work into a unique sound. How this transitions to a Dream Theatre-type arrangement and chorus is simply amazing. This is powerful stuff indeed.

These guys are smart and modern, and the song ‘Into the R.A.M.’ shows how they can switch from hard playing to a more melodic/progressive rock. An anthem chant to be sure! The riffing at 4:08 was sick and the tempo change at 4:18 surprised me with its vestiges of Rush’s Villa Strangiato.

‘Dystopia MMXVI’ is incredible ringtone-bait and I can’t wait to see them use that as an opener at their gigs. There is great orchestration and setup for the rest of the album. While their FB page says they are prog/thrash I am in agreement, as they meld these genres seamlessly. Good production and all elements are clear and mixed well. The vocals continue to sear at all ranges and the adeptness Claudio continues to play them. The rest of the band is simply incredible in their playing and would be awesome live.

These guys from Bergamo, Italy, according to their FB will be at Isola Rock - February 4th @ 9:00pm I hope it rocks well and their career shoots upward as fast as their track ‘The Wire’; excellent chorus!


Written by Alessandro

Anticlockwise Facebook

Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: Slechtvalk - Where Wandering Shadows And Mists Collide

With a huge upmarch for “low-lands black metal” from Belgium and The Netherlands with bands like Wiegedood, Dodenkrocht and Oathbreaker it’s really hard to stand out.

Slechtvalk returns to the scene with a new album called Where Wandering Shadows And Mists Collide. This band is a slow burner, they have been around for 20 years this year and they have only produced full length albums. They sure do take their time. Which is good because they only deliver quality, well thought out metal.

First things that were really obvious for me were the influences for Slechtvalk. They obviously take metal approaches from the likes of Dimmu Borgir, Stormlord and maybe even fellow countrymen Carach Angren. Fast and mid paced black metal with a keyboard. Kudos to Slechtvalk for not overusing the keyboard in the mix. The album is well produced and seems to stand up to the quality anno 2017 Ad.

The first song I really enjoyed was ‘Asternas’ which is the second song on the album. With a very good marching sound on the drums it seems to reach its goal of making people like it’s a battle song.

The pro’s and con’s on this album are easy to name for me. First of all it is an enjoyable listen for almost any kind of metalhead. Personally I would have loved to hear more distinctive vocals and different approaches to them. The vocals all sound the same and that is a shame. If you already use Dimmu Borgir in your songwriting why not imitate Shagrath a bit more and change up the vocal style once in a while. A big pro for me was the production value of the album. Sound-wise it sounds very 2017 and does not get left behind.

Overall the album is a great listen for fans of folk metal, black metal and viking metal and for almost every other metalhead there are some elements you can thoroughly enjoy.

My only worry is that the “low-lands black metal” scene is a little overflown and this album will not stand the test of time amongst the likes of Carach Angren, Wiegedood and Oathbreaker.

We will see the outcome of that.


Written by Joost van der Leij

Slechtvalk Facebook

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Review: The Prisoner - Life Of The Mind

A Parisienne so called “Extreme Metal” foursome, make a deepeningly (yes I made the word up; everyone else makes stuff up…) darker album than most death metal bands. This reminds me of a metal Tangerine Dream, with good overlays, synth sounding guitars (but not) and excellent playing all around. They have a very old school FB page with lava lamp lookalikes and simple but elegant pictures of their CD and liners. Many songs are longish in the over 6 minute range which again, for me, brings this perilously close to progressive, but, that’s OK! Overall, a very good album that needs to be a part of my collection. I am also due for a trip to Paris for a live show!

The 00:57 work of ‘Emptied’ reminds me of Rush’s Cygnus X-1. Great work! The tempo change at 2:28 is involving and charismatic. I like this.

The plodding, 9 minute + opus ‘Battling Ego’ sure sounds like it. A mix of Doper-Speed-Alternative metals makes a tough like for me, but I will give its creativity a 9/10 as a stand-alone for the sheer complexity of it. The writing it must have taken to get this off the ground must have been astounding; full credits here for artistic talent and sheer determination of will!

The title track is long and amazing, with feverish riffing and hammering double beats. The vocals, as always for me, are ok for this genre, but I can only listen to an albums worth at a time, unless I’m looking at liner lyrics. The playing of this track is superb honestly would be more attractive without the vocals for a cool soundtrack.

‘From the Void to the Void’ has a good sci fi feel to it and the slow, edgy tempo would make this a favourite for this genre. The slowness was getting to me when a pleasing pickup at about 02:08 made it somewhat listenable for me but not a fan of this track.

The Black Sabbathish ‘Acte Finale’ is another creeping piece with vocals appearing after the 5 minute mark. Kind of neat as it ends with a Death Metal flourish I wasn’t expecting. I would like it more had it not the syrup-uphill tones to it, but will generate excitement for lovers of this style. A thoughtful album!

‘Another Road to Nothingness’ is a pleasing musical interlude and while not quite ringtone-worthy is a contributing factor in the success of this epic album. These short pieces are necessary both as a break from the longer songs and to see them fit them into a live jam.


Written by Alessandro

The Prisoner Facebook

Video: Burning - Nightmares

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Lyric video: Acidiun - Urges

Almost two weeks ago, DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen interviewed Acidiun (check it here).

As you can read in the interview, their new single Urges would come soon. Now, it finally is unleashed! Check it below! \m/

Acidiun Facebook
Acidiun Twitter

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Interview: Sirenia

In November, Sirenia released their latest album Dim Days Of Dolor. DutchMetalManiac’s Henric van Essen already reviewed it here, now he interviews Sirenia’s Morten Veland. Check it below!

Hi, how are you doing?

Hello, I am fine thanks.

My compliments on your new album ‘Dim Days Of Dolor’, I love it. You must be both proud and happy to have conjured up such a gem. Your previous release, ‘The Seventh Life Path’ has not been received with undivided positivity, to which I could agree up to a certain extent. I was a bit weary choosing this one to review, but honesty commands me to say I was more than pleasantly surprised when I heard it. ‘Dim Days…’ feels so much more alive, can you explain why that is and what caused it?

Thanks. Yes, we are very satisfied and pleased with how this new album turned out. In retrospect there were several things that I was not happy with on the previous album. The mix and mastering did not meet the standards that we hoped for. And the last 3 years has also been quite difficult for the band, I think that it shine through a bit on the previous album. With Dim Days of Dolor the good energy is back, Emmanuelle came into Sirenia and really lifted our spirits again. We also choose to work with a different mastering and mixing engineer this time. We went to Ribe in Denmark and work with Jacob Hansen. He helped us crafting the sound that we really wanted and really needed for the band. I think that these two changes are the main factors why this new album sounds so much better.

Obviously the split with Ailyn left you with a problem which was rapidly filled in a grand fashion by Emmanuelle. I personally think her voice is a way better fit to Sirenia’s music and considering she has done vocal work for Sirenia before the obvious question is how it can be you haven’t ‘discovered’ her earlier and why you only chose her now. Can you shed some light on that?

Yes, the last three years have been problematic for the band, there were several occasions when I actually considered putting an end to Sirenia. Ailyn's health problems have held us back for years and the situation just got worse and worse. She did not want to leave the band and we did not want to dismiss her, we were hoping that things would get better, unfortunately it did not, on the contrary it just got worse and worse with time. During the summer of 2016 we were faced with two choices; finding a new singer or quitting the band. Me, Jonathan and Jan Erik decided it was a bit too soon to end it all, so we went for the other solution and found a new singer. Emmanuelle was the natural choice for us, we wanted an experienced, diverse and professional singer, and this is exactly what we got. I think Sirenia sounds better than ever both on the album and in concert. Now we are finally able to tour as much as we want again and this will really show in 2017 as we have more tours planned than ever.

Speaking of vocals, one of the things that struck me was the perfect match between Emmanuelle’s voice and the male parts on the album. The vocals are, in my opinion, the main focal point of the album. Is that just me, or is there some truth in this?

Yes, I think that both Emmanuelle's voice and Joakim's voice are perfect matches to Sirenia's sound, and they fit very well together as well. Joakim has contributed on our last 3 albums and Emmanuelle has contributed on our last 7 albums, so both voices feels very familiar to the listeners.

The album title screams agony. Is there a reason to choose such a dark title?

I think there is a reason for everything. The album title really sums up what we have been through the last years.

What, if anything, is the story behind the songs and lyrics on ‘Dim Days…’?

I never liked going too much into details about my lyrics and titles, it feels wrong to interpretate my own work. I always preferred to leave that up to the listeners. But as usual I am dealing with the darker aspects of life.

This being your eighth full-length I can only imagine how hard it must be to conjure up something new time and time again. Who are the contributors to ‘Dim Days…’ and what feeds his/her/their inspiration when it comes to composing new material for Sirenia?

Writing music comes very natural for me, but it is true that it is always a challenge to find the new way forward and create something that sounds new and refreshed at the same time as it sounds like typical Sirenia. I always try to balance that out in a best possible way. I have composed all the music and written all the lyrics as usual. Jan Erik has contributed with some ideas and constructive commenting on the songs, which has helped forming the album too. Furthermore Emmanuelle and Joakim helps adding a lot of atmosphere and feelings with their great vocals. Also the work of Jacob Hansen has really helped us taking things to the next level with this album. So the sum of all the contributors has helped making Dim Days of Dolor what it is.

You have just ended a tour. How did the fans react to, in no particular order, Emmanuelle and the new work?

Naturally all of us were very curious about that. But the fans really liked the new songs, I think that especially the title track 'Dim Days of Dolor' got an awesome reaction from the crowd. Emmanuelle did a great job, and I think that she really grew a lot on this tour. It is normal that a new band member needs some shows in order to find his or her place on the stage and in the band. I feel that our new line up is very consolidated now and we are more ready to tour than ever. I am sure that all the fans that comes to see Sirenia live these days will get what they came for.

What are your plans for, say, the next year?

There is a lot of plans for the new year, most of it in form of touring and playing shows. On thursday we will travel south to make shows in Greece and Romania. We have an extensive tour in Latin America in May. We have our first tour in North America coming up in May. We will play some shows in Asia this summer for the first time, and we have a very long European tour coming up in September. We will also do some festivals this summer.

Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview, is there anything (else) you would like to share with our readers?

Cheers to our Dutch fans. See you on the road this year. Cheers !

Sirenia Official Website
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Review: Beneath A Godless Sky - Beneath A Godless Sky

Very cool album! The vestiges of Fear Factory, Frontline Assembly and other industrial gears and sprockets are thrown in for a great sound. This Parisian quartet, currently sans bassist, has a momentous occasion since their 2013 get together. Their Ep is done and it rocks hard.

Claiming Djent/hardcore genre, I don’t think that muted hand guitars is anything new (nothing is and getting less new by the minute), they perform amazing material, sound clear and tight and manage to keep the rock going. I think this is less Djent than “Melodic HardThrash”. There, I’ve created a new sub-genre of the current sub-sub-genres.

‘Divided’ is a pounding, vicious number sweeping across the metal plains. Very nice! The bass line is worthy of Steve “Iron Maiden” Harris fast-assed playing and is very crisp and enjoyable. Again, no bassist listed currently???

‘Broken Street’. My favourite on here and a well-played, nearly I say, a slow/love song? Well done with smooth yet hard chords and chorus. Well placed harsh vox and is easily on my mixtape. This is a fine example of their writing and playing ability and lends itself to the progressive style they also cite on their FB page. Nicely done!

‘Faith+One’ is a smoking song, while musically all over the place for me, the changes and tempo are cool and hold many influences. The writing is excellent and the arrangements very tight; I like it very much and you will too. The slow down at about 03:02 onward is amazing! Good, powerful vox accompanied by chug-a-chugging guitar makes a super sound, newer than I’ve heard in a long time.

Let’s hope these lads get on the road and get writing some more!


Written by Alessandro

Beneath A Godless Sky Facebook