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Friday, March 31, 2017

Live review: Amon Amarth, Dark Tranquillity, Omnium Gatherum at Z7 Konzertfabrik, Pratteln, Switzerland, March 27th, 2017

Z7 Konzertfabrik in Pratteln, Switzerland, is one of THE venues for heavy music in the tristate area of Germany, France and Switzerland. The former barn has excellent sound and a great atmosphere, and visitors are coming from all three countries. So I was very excited to go back there and see a brilliant package of three of my favorite melodeath bands: Amon Amarth, Dark Tranquillity and Omnium Gatherum in a sold-out venue.

This awesome evening was started with a 35 minute set of the Finns of Omnium Gatherum. Just like last time, when I saw them on tour with Amorphis in 013 (Tilburg, NL (review)), you could clearly tell that the guys really enjoyed themselves, as did the audience. The sound was perfect too, and with many songs taken from their latest album “Grey Heavens”, such as “Skyline” and “Frontiers”, the stage time passed way too quickly.

After a short tag break Dark Tranquillity climbed the stage. It was my second time seeing them, and this concert proved to be even better than their very small, intimate one in Baroeg (Rotterdam, NL) some years ago! Kicking off with “Force Of Hand”, the audience was immersed in this great fusion of melody and death metal that is the trademark of the band. Next to older songs, such as “ThereIn” and, of course, “Misery’s Crown”, the band also played some pieces from their latest album “Atoma”, including the title track and the first single, “Forward Momentum”. In addition, Dark Tranquillity played “Terminus (where death is most alive)” as a sort of “tribute” to their hometown of Gothenburg, as well as “Science Of Noise” in relation to the current political happenings. The total of 10 songs again just flew by, and then, sadly, it was already time to say goodbye. Until the next tour!

At 21:30 it was time for the headliner of the night, Amon Amarth. The Swedes are currently touring in promotion of their latest album, “Jomsviking”, and so the audience had the privilege to enjoy many songs from this album, including “One Thousand Burning Arrows”, “First Kill” and “At Dawn’s First Light”. Next to these, lots of songs from the past two albums could be heard as well, for instance “Deceiver Of The Gods” or “Father Of The Wolf”, as well as pretty old ones, such as “Death In Fire”. The stage setting was amazing as well, with the drums resting on top of a viking's helmet, and even some enacted battles as well as Loki himself to be perceived on stage! After 1,5 hours, Amon Amarth closed off this awesome evening with “Twilight Of The Thunder God”. In conclusion: this evening was perfect! A shame if you missed these kick-ass shows, but if you did be sure to catch these three on the road soon, you won’t regret it!

Written by Julia Obenauer

Amon Amarth Official Website
Amon Amarth Facebook
Amon Amarth Twitter
Dark Tranquillity Official Website
Dark Tranquillity Facebook
Dark Tranquillity Twitter
Omnium Gatherum Official Website
Omnium Gatherum Facebook
Omnium Gatherum Twitter

Review: Akral Necrosis - Underlight

I am a huge fan of black metal and any other incarnation of it possible, even black n' roll, there is simply something that always draws me into the genre, and this band with this album took all of that and stepped it up a notch.

Although the first track may give you an impression that this is a typical black metal album, it is completely on the opposite side. The tracks differ a lot from one another and every song gives you a new feeling. There is also a track on the album that has a more doom metal feel, as it starts with a two minute bass riff. Now for the more technical side of things, the recording is quite crystal clear, all the instruments are heard clearly, even the bass can be heard and it is not too high in the mix. Another thing I need to mention is the vocals, the vocalist used a rather limited range of vocal techniques, but nonetheless, the techniques were used in a right way and contributed to the general feel of the album for me. Also the levels of the vocals were not too high, as seen in most modern metal albums.

In general, I liked this album. It is not a revolutionary album or anything like that, but for someone who likes black metal it is still a great album and will definitely be on repeat for me in the future.

Written by Nikola Milošević

Akral Necrosis Facebook

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Promoting Bands Part 6 - Dutch Edition


Got a new part of Promoting Bands for you!

As usually, if you want to be part of Promoting Bands in the future, be sure to get in touch with us. Send us a message on Facebook, Twitter, or email us.

Be sure to check the earlier parts of Promoting Bands, if you haven't done it already:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Obviously, DutchMetalManiac is Dutch, but in the Promoting Bands category there isn't a Dutch Edition yet, so now it finally is here.

Only one note before I start, since there are four Dutch bands which are already mentioned in the past parts. Those bands are Shylmagoghnar (Promoting Bands Part 1), Idek., Project Pain (both Promoting Bands Part 3) and Nox Aeterna (Promoting Bands Part 4), be sure to check them out too!

For now, enjoy!

Tim van Velthuysen

1. Algos

Algos is the one-man-band of Jurre Timmer which plays melodic death/doom metal. The first music I heard from Algos is the second EP called Fragmented. Fragmented is an acoustic instrumental release, which you probably wouldn't expect from a death/doom band, but it is very beautiful and it is something to check out for sure. On first full-length album The Death Of Seasons you hear that Algos can also be very heavy and loud, which is also done very good. Below you can check out both the Fragmented EP as well as the The Death Of Seasons album.

Algos Facebook

2. Tarnkappe

Tarnkappe plays black metal in a very dark way. Their debut album Tussen Hun En De Zon sounds as it is a bit of low-quality recording, but I think that's their intention and they made the right choice then, because it makes it even better. Below you can check the track Duister Mijn Geweten, the track I first heard of them.

Tarnkappe Facebook

3. Strain

Strain plays music which isn't really fitting into one specific genre. Progressive, experimental and energetic are some words you can use describing them for sure. This is band you have to check, an experience you don't want to miss. I already reviewed their EP's Think-O-Land here and AFR here. Below you can listen to both of them.

Strain Official Website
Strain Facebook


Nedermetal isn't really a genre, it's more like metal from The Netherlands (Nederland in Dutch), but bands who play Nedermetal do have their specific sound which mostly contains Dutch lyrics. Of course Patatje Metal (check here if you don't know them) was a nice band, but unfortunately they stopped a bit longer than a year ago. In February last year I heard No1408 for the first time and in my opinion they are the perfect Nedermetal band to take over the place of Patatje Metal. DutchMetalManiac's Gijs de Wolff already wrote a live review of them here and I also interviewed their guitarist Jordy Stokkink here.

Check their video of Razernij below.

No1408 Official Website
No1408 Facebook
No1408 Twitter

5.System Overthrow

System Overthrow is partly coming from The Netherlands and partly from Belgium, they play oldschool thrash metal in the vein of the style it used to be when thrash was starting. Their debut full-length, which is selftitled, came out a year ago and it is full of energy and great music. I also saw a show of them already and, besides the fact that there were a few technical issues, they played a great show and really surprised me as I didn't heard their music before. DutchMetalManiac's Henric van Essen also wrote a review about their debut, you can check it here if you want. You can see their video for the track Pit Fighter below.

System Overthrow Official Website
System Overthrow Facebook

6. Misantropical

Misantropical played a mixture of different styles ranging from rock ballads to grindcore, and everything in between. I just discovered them, which is a bit late, because they split up. But there is good news, because they just announced there will be a one-time reunion. Follow their facebook page to keep updated for further details if you are interested! Below you can listen to their tracks "Worse" and "God Is Dead".

Misantropical Facebook

7. Vuur

Anneke van Giersbergen, a name you probably recognize more than Vuur. She was the vocalist of The Gathering, did a few solo albums and worked with many great musicians (for example Ayreon, Within Temptation and Devin Townsend). Vuur is her new band, in which she picks up her metal-side again. Vuur's debut is still upcoming, so there is no music released yet, but below you can see a glimpse of what is to come. You can also see them live soon at, for example, Dynamo Metalfest on July 15th.

Vuur Official Website
Vuur Facebook

8. Drive By Suicide

Drive By Suicide is a groove metal band with a lot of energy in their music. We already wrote about them as part of our reviews about the Army Of Metal concert here and the Army Of Metal compilation here. Now they have their latest album released, it's called "Annihilated" and you can listen to it below. Very cool stuff!

Drive By Suicide Official Website
Drive By Suicide Facebook
Drive By Suicide Twitter

9. 3rd Machine

3rd Machine's music is sounding very unique, it's definitely not something you would hear very often. Their debut album Quantified Self is almost a year old and it has an great sound, this is a band you should keep an eye on. You can read our review about Quantified Self here and you can listen to their song Ultimate Intelligence below. It also has some guest vocals by Mark Jansen from Dutch bands Epica and Mayan.

3rd Machine Official Website
3rd Machine Facebook
3rd Machine Twitter

10. Purest Of Pain

Purest of Pain is the band formed by Merel Bechtold, who you may know from Delain and Mayan. At this moment they are recording their upcoming debut album and based on their previously released music I am pretty sure it would be very nice! Something to look forward to! Below you can check their video of their 2013 single "Momentum".

Purest Of Pain Official Website
Purest Of Pain Facebook
Purest Of Pain Twitter

Live review: The Charm The Fury, Spoil Engine, For I Am King at Sugarfactory, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, March 24th, 2017

The signs for this one were all but good. Main attraction The Charm The Fury released their new album, ‘The Sick, Dumb & Happy’, a week earlier, which was received with mixed critics due to the fact they changed courses rather drastically. Especially the fans of the first hour were not amused, because in their eyes TCTF abandoned their core business, metalcore, in favor of more classically schooled metal, and they didn’t hesitate sharing their feelings about it. Initially it seemed they were serious about this and had no intentions to show up on the release party, because when the doors opened there were only about 50 people waiting in line where Sugarfactory roughly can house about ten times that amount of people. Despite this being mildly worrying, it did give yours truly the opportunity to be the first to experience TCTF’s progress outside the stage by paying for merchandise using a new, sophisticated payment system that involved a cell phone rather than a regular payment terminal. If anything their merchandising is ready to conquer the world. Now to find the answer to the question if TCTF itself is equally ready to take the world by storm.

The usually ungrateful task of warming up the audience, that had quadrupled in size by the time they unleashed their first tunes, had fallen to For I Am King, a melodic death metal/metalcore formation from Gouda, Holland. Sugarfactory is not exactly known for being a huge venue, so the stage isn’t spacious to begin with, but with Mathijs Tieken’s drum kit already lined-up space was even more rare, making even moving around quite the challenge. Nevertheless the four guys and the girl made the best of it and put up an energetic and most enjoyable show. TCTF may have a lot of potential, they were definitely not the only ones tonight. Front woman Alma Alizadeh may not look like your typical metalcore vocalist with her rather sweet appearance and glasses, but man, this lady knows how to grunt, even with a self-made moustache. Of course their latest release, ‘Daemons’, provides excellent tunes to build a stage party, but you still have to transfer that energy to your performance, which they did convincingly. I’m not sure if the audience wasn’t awake yet or simply wasn’t prepared for such a solid show this early in the evening, but the response from the audience was not overly enthusiastic. A shame really, because the band was definitely trying to connect with the audience, but was only rewarded mediocrely, save a couple of fans that went pleasantly berserk from minute one. Sadly this is a fate that many support act has to deal with. In my opinion the entire band played a more than decent show, where, without playing down the performance of the other members, drummer Jaap Relou, had a striking role tonight. His drumming was stellar and the thundering double bass made the entire building vibrate. Despite the not evenly tuned sound, which caused Alma’s clean vocals to drown a little, they deserved a bit more response as far as I’m concerned, and the latecomers should really blame themselves for this missed opportunity to see a great performance. I’ll most certainly keep an eye out for this band.

By the time Spoil Engine entered the stage the room was filled to capacity, proving the at times harsh comments about TCTF’s new course were mostly nothing than just that: harsh comments. Spoil Engine, also a melodic death metal/metalcore band hailing from Roeselare, Belgium, picked up where For I Am King left off. Roughly playing the same type of music and with an identical female fronted line-up the slowly defrosting audience didn’t need to get used to what Spoil Engine has to offer. Introducing themselves with their backs turned to the audience and all dressed as the hooded menace one could be forgiven for thinking they had walked into a black metal gig rather than a metalcore performance, but that impression only lasted for half a minute or so. From there on they smashed the pedal to the metal only to release it after some half an hour of devastating metalcore. Their more than solid playing did not go unnoticed, it didn’t take the audience long to be tempted into a circle pit, the first of many to follow, and even a mini wall of death, also the first of many to follow. Front woman Iris let no chance pass to fire up the crowd, all the while unleashing her grunts on the slowly awakening fans in front of her. Amazing to see how she moved around on the stage while doing so, it seems as if it’s all completely effortless for her. Almost all the time she looked as if she was talking to a friend on the phone instead of being in the middle of a massive deathgrunt. Spoil Engine has been around for over a decade, so they had plenty of songs to choose from, but that apparently was not enough, because they had a little surprise for us in the form of a new song, that will appear on their soon to be released new album. It was received with quite some enthusiasm, and to be honest, it did sound truly promising. If this is an accurate reflection of what is on their new album, count me in. Furious and seriously heavy, a more than suitable addition to an already great set list to complete a great gig.

Judging by the noise that filled the room when sounds behind the closed curtains signaled the main attraction was ready, it was obvious the audience was here for one reason and one reason only: The Charm The Fury. Another solid indication the fans did not abandon them after changing course so drastically. Noblesse oblige, so to affirm their headliner status, TCTF had to be on their best to keep up with the excellent performances of both support acts. And so they were. Right from the start the crowd went nuts and happily obeyed vocalist/instigator Caroline’s many pleas for circle pits, walls of death and crowd surfers time and time again. She in turned rewarded them with a crowd surfing session of her own. The quintet from Amsterdam played at full speed and with a violent intensity, adding to the already fantastic atmosphere, fronted by an inspiring Caroline who gladly grabbed every opportunity to stir up the crowd. This combined with a set list that contained a lot of songs that augmented that atmosphere and are perfect for some serious body banging, guaranteed a memorable performance.

So as far as roughhousing goes TCTF was excellent tonight. Playing raging metalcore in various forms is in their blood, there’s no doubt about that. Whether they played songs from their debut ‘A Shade Of My Former Self’ or songs from their new album, the audience devoured them all. However, due to the earlier mentioned change of course in music style the latter has a lot more to offer than that, they even have a power ballad in their arsenal of songs nowadays. Considering the earlier mentioned doubts a substantial part of their fan base had, playing anything else than metalcore tonight posed quite a risk, even more so because that would mean stepping out of their comfort zone. Thankfully TCTF was prepared to take that risk in an effort to try and conquer all doubts and objections. The first proof of this was the on the album already brilliant ‘Echoes’, that turned out to be an instant success live with its more or less sing along chorus. A huge part of the crowd supported Caroline’s clean vocals which only in the first couple of notes sounded a bit frail. A very successful addition to their set list in my opinion. And that was not the end of the risk-taking for tonight. The complicated ‘Blood and Salt’ was also added to the set list, and even though you could sense the audience had to get used to the complexity of it, the performance was nearly flawless and very well-received. Conquest succeeded I’d say.

It’s safe to say that tonight TCTF lived up to the expectations that being a headliner entails and then some. They put up a more than solid, lively show with lots of interaction with the audience, making their fans an integral part of the show rather than a bunch of people merely listening, which, excuse my terminology, is exactly what separates the boys from the men. With this performance the four guys and girl have proven they are well on their way to becoming a force to be reckoned with both on and off the stage, with a song library that covers many of the corners of metal music intended to thoroughly entertain a wide range of metal fans including those that prefer metalcore. Of course one swallow does not a summer make, but if they can keep this up this sole swallow will soon be an entire flock. They definitely have the necessary potential. Keeping in mind that it’s impossible to be certain after one show, I still dare answering the earlier asked question if TCTF is ready to take the world by storm with a resounding ‘yes’.

Written by Henric van Essen

Read another live review of us about the show of The Charm The Fury with Delain here.
Read our interview with The Charm The Fury vocalist Caroline Westendorp here.
Read our review about The Sick, Dumb & Happy by The Charm The Fury here.

The Charm The Fury Official Website
The Charm The Fury Facebook
The Charm The Fury Twitter
Spoil Engine Facebook
For I Am King Official Website
For I Am King Facebook
For I Am King Twitter

Review: Morfin - Consumed By Evil

Continuing their march into the past, Southern California death metallers Morfin have taken the time and effort to continue to hone their style and have furthered their old-school sound into a tighter, more devastating force than the debut offering. With new guitarist Mike de la O and drummer Eddie Andrade joining the fold in the intervening years, the group offers their sophomore full-length March 5, 2017 on FDA Records.

Much like the debut, the band is clearly still indebted to the old-school sound of the genre and takes every opportunity to remind that’s where the dominant influences come from. There’s efforts like “Reincarnated,” “Slowly Dismembered” and “Contorted Truths” that feature tight, sharp riff-work full of deep, churning rhythms and simple, mid-tempo patterns that form the dominant variety of attack here in the form of blistering thrash-style attacks that signal the early movements in the genre. Bringing that alongside “Embodiment,” “Illusions of Horror” and “Carcinogenic Parasite” where the album’s penchant for melding the raging material with simpler, less violent mid-range efforts helps to force along the connection to the old-school sound by bringing the slow, sprawling swamp-riddled patterns and fiery rhythms into the forefront. This is then carried along with their rather simple structures and one-note attack to create a rather effective old-school attack at times even though it does highlight the one singular flaw with the album’s overall approach. Keeping things so simple and one-note in terms of tactical riffing style and general sonic fervor means that the album tends to devolve into a generally suspenseless and rather predictable manner where if the opening few seconds promise a raging, fiery riff then the track follows suit, and if a rather mid-tempo rhythm is present then that’s the way the track as a whole is carried out. The short burst of the tracks really lets these get featured in this manner and it’s a rather distracting effort. It’s not as detrimental as expected, but still somewhat challenging.

While there’s plenty of enjoyable elements featured here and on the whole it’s not completely terrible, the fact that it’s few flaws are there are enough to hold it back are just enough to lower this one strictly for the most devout old-school death metal fanatics or fans of the bands’ past works. 7.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

Morfin Facebook

Monday, March 27, 2017

Interview: Ghost Of Mary

In December Italian metallers Ghost Of Mary released their album called Oblivaeon. In January DutchMetalManiac's Henric van Essen already reviewed, read his review here. He also interviewed them, as you can read below.

Hi, how are you doing?

Hi, here is Daniele, singer of Ghost of Mary, I’m very fine, thank you.

First off your name. What is the story behind it?

I think the name of a band is one of the most important aspects together with the music itself, so I looked for something evocative and fitting for songs and the concept: Ghost of Mary is a mysterious oracle, the main figure of the story told in the album “Oblivaeon”.

Ghost Of Mary is a new band, can you tell me something about how it came to be?

The actual band is the result of previous musical experiences, everyone have played in other bands before. The project has been started by the two guitarists Mauro Nicolì and Gabriele Muja, then Nicolas Lezzi, me and Damiano Rielli joined the band.

Can you tell us a little about Ghost Of Mary’s members?

I’m also the singer of Silvered, a death doom metal band active from 2007, Nicola plays the bass in the heavy metal band Slow Death, Damiano played for years in Burning Seas (groove metal) and Mauro and Gabriele played in Dark Unfathomed (symphonic black metal).

Your musical style, a mix between gothic metal and death metal with symphonic and classical influences is quite complicated. Why did you start composing and playing this type of music?

Mauro and Gabriele gave the first and principal input to the birth of the future Ghost of Mary and our past experiences helped us to know which road to take. Then the common interest in finding something different from the ordinary musical conception of metal was the key to work together.

Who or what, if anyone or anything, inspires Ghost Of Mary?

Music, literature, movies, everything which catch our attention because of a melody, a colour, a feeling so close to our souls.

I have just reviewed your debut release ‘Oblivaeon’, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and quite impressed with it, it’s a great album. It’s a concept album, an allegory about life and death as you put it. Can you tell us a bit more about the story behind it?

Thank you so much, we are very happy you appreciate the album. Yes, it’s a concept based on a story written by me, an allegory about life and death. I wrote of a tree placed in a dimension called “Oblivaeon”, a sort of afterlife without time and space. Souls slip away from the tree under the influence of the full moon, carried by the wind , into the forest beside it or into the river, where stones take human forms … It’s a tale about the meaning of life, with references to northern mythology and fantasy-horror literature.

When listening to ‘Oblivaeon’, as great as I truly think it is, I sometimes had the feeling you are still searching for the right moment to use either of the varieties of music and vocals you have up your sleeves. You’re awfully close, but it still felt a bit misplaced or rough around the edges here and there. How do you feel about this statement?

We think varieties of music and vocals can be our point of strength but we also know there is still something to correct. It’s not easy, but we are trying to create an original sound, using orchestral arrangements and different styles of vocals.

The only thing I didn’t like as much as the rest is the production. Especially the orchestral pieces feel too thin in the mix, at times causing them to almost disappear from the sound. What do you think of that?

Thank you for the advises, they are very important for us, ‘cause the aim is to grow as a band and musicians. Now we are working on the next album, taking care of the orchestral elements, melodies and sound in general, trying to reach the better way.

What are you plans for the near future?

The whole promotion of the album goes on and now the first videoclip “Nothing” is out, so it’ s time to promote it as well as possible.

Any chance on a tour?

After UK/France tour on Jan/Feb 2017 and other dates in Italy, we booked several shows in our country in the next months, in summer we will play at XXIII Agglutination Metal Festival (the biggest one in the south of Italy) with Venom, Sodom and other bands. We are also working with our booking agencies for the second part of our European Oblivaeon Tour.

Thanks for the opportunity to interrogate you, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

It was a great pleasure, thank you for the interview. We invite you all to follow Ghost of Mary on the official fb page and to watch our new video below, hornz up! |m|

Ghost Of Mary Facebook

Interview: Warbringer

In a few days, thrashers Warbringer will release their newest album called Woe To The Vanquished. DutchMetalManiac's Don Anelli already reviewed it here and below you can read his interview with vocalist John Kevill.

Well, first off, let’s talk about the new album. Are you pleased with the reactions so far?

It isn’t out yet but so far reviews have been overwhelmingly positive! We have also had a chance to release three singles and play the whole side A live and it’s gone over great. We’re really excited to see responses to the whole record from the general public.

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

The last song, the epic “When the Guns Fell Silent” definitely. It is an 11-minute song and represents the most ambitious piece we’ve written so far. It’s heavy, but somber and sad too. A real milestone for the band, I feel. I got very into the sadness and time period around the First World War as an area of study and the song incorporates some literature from that time period directly. I’m very proud of this one.

This was recorded at West Valley Studios. Why did you decide it was right to record there?

It is located near us, we learned of it and met with producer Mike Plotnikoff, who was really nice and easy to work with from the get-go, and the location was excellent and very local to us. Slam-dunk.

Why did you decide to work with producer Mike Plottnikoff? Did he bring out anything special to the material while you were recording?

From first meeting onward Mike has been just a great guy. Apart from his skilled ear and talent for producing, he sees music in a very “visual” way much like myself. We loved working with Mike, and am very pleased with the sound.

Since the last album, the band basically folded only to get revived a few years later. Is this a much more stable version of the band than before?

Yes, I think so. I hope we find the success and support from the metal community needed to do this at a higher and more stable level, but we certainly have a dedicated band. We have a full year of gigs and are ready to work hard to crush it everywhere worldwide.

This is your first album on Napalm Records. How did you finally settle on the label to distribute your work?

Napalm Records supported and believed in us after the band practically exploded, strictly on how they felt it is a quality act. So far they’ve done a great job supporting the band and we are looking forward the rest of the campaign here on “Woe to the Vanquished” with Napalm Records!

Being one of the original acts of the revival thrash scene, are you proud of your impact on the scene as a whole?

Yes, I think so. I believe our work, along with certain others, has raised the bar for the new era of thrash metal. It is not a revival but rather a continuation of what thrash metal originally represented. In our case, we do this by being pretty goddamn extreme.

The album continues your recent trend of exploring more progressive elements in traditional thrash. Has this been a conscious effort from the band the last few albums?

Yes, we think thrash is not a narrow genre but rather a wide one. We aim to show this on our own records by presenting music that goes from extremely brutal and fast to dark and melodic and back again. I think that having both sides makes us a more interesting and unique band ultimately.

This displays a lot of dedication to ancient Roman history. Was there any significance to choosing that as a lyrical topic? Are there any special reference points found that were relatable to your writing?

There’s some of that in the title track and the cover, and 2 songs are about the First World War. But honestly these “settings” are more backdrops to universal human themes, the way I am trying to approach it. I have studied a lot towards being a professor lately and I find so many things in the cycle of human tragedy great subject material for metal and try to bring them to life as much as I can.

Do you have any plans to promote the album as far as tours or videos?

Yes, we have released two videos for “Silhouettes” and “Remain Violent”, and will be on tour all 2017. In Europe in April and July, keep an eye out!

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

That’s a tough one! I would say my 2 days in Athens has been perhaps my favorite ever day and show. But it depends, each concert is different and it is really the fans each night which make it.

Is there anything you want to say to DutchMetalManiac's readers?

Thanks for reading so much and I hope to see you guys at a concert! Check out the new Warbringer record Woe to the Vanquished and annihilate your immediate surroundings. Keep it metal.

-John Kevill

Warbringer Official Website
Warbringer Facebook
Warbringer Twitter

Review: Warbringer - Woe To The Vanquished

Continuing to evolve through the years, reactivated Los Angeles thrashers Warbringer have continued to utilize their continued expansion of progressive elements into their trademark sound to further their stance as one of the revival thrash scenes leaders. Now coming back to active duty following their previous lineup implosion, the groups’ fifth full-length effort was released March 31, 2017 on Napalm Records.

Taking the charge right from the beginning, it’s obvious that the break didn’t change their initial standings as the music still screams their classic vibe. Efforts like “Silhouettes,” “Remain Violent” and “Descending Blade” feature tight, ferocious riff-work and blistering paces that fully retain the chaotic vibe of the bands’ early material which is a prominent feature throughout here. Diving and buzzing through the various series of ravenous tempo changes featured here makes for an utterly blistering and pummeling experience, with the ferocious patterns coming from all sides and never relenting in their mission statement offering up this fiery brand of thrash. The only breaks from the all-out assault here in “Spectral Asylum” and the utterly epic “When the Guns Fell Silent” utilize the decision to drop the ravenous tempos in favor of more relaxed melodic chugging and extravagant leads that serve their heavy-handed rhythms and bombast quite nicely, giving this one an incredibly effective series of breathers that serve not only the full-throttle section of the album but gives this a rather sharp contrast to make for an even more effective work here. The brevity of the album as a whole might be something to get over, as it requires the ten-plus minute epic simply to reach a prominent length could be an issue, yet that’s really nitpicking this one and it’s quite an effective effort overall.

Full of raging, intense thrash and plenty of solid songs, there’s plenty to like and even something to love about this release which brings their legacy back to the forefront as one of the pioneers of the genre and makes for a no-doubt interest for those that liked their past work or any revivalist thrash fan as well. 9.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

Warbringer Official Website
Warbringer Facebook
Warbringer Twitter

Review: Amniac - Matriarch

The first impression after seeing the cover of this album is: creative dark drones. The first tones say: Black metal. Which in my opinion sums up what post/sludge metal is about: a creative, more innovative and darker twist to the black metal genre. Amniac is exactly this. After the first screams they create space for more melody and dragging symphonies. Because where black metal has an aggressive tone, post/sludge has more depression then aggression as a basic mood. And depression seems to invokes more than just apathy. Amniac takes the listener to a vast landscape of feelings, sometimes overwhelming, sometimes contemplative and lots in between.
The second release of this Greek band is a concept album, mostly based on the oppression of patriarchy and the role of women in society and witchcraft.

Opening song, ‘The Coven’ starts fairly brutal, but quickly introduces a clean counter voice next to the grunts and screams, which works refreshing. The changing rhythms and some power chords make it into a god start.

‘Matriarch’ has a more melodic, softer start, building up guitar structures that make it into an attractive song to listen to more often, in order to fully take it in.

In ‘Huntress Virgin Goddess’ pushing chords and driving vocals have an addictive effect. What an amazing power! After 3 minutes the song takes a turn with more diversity, but also with hypnotic repetition. Being the heart of the album, it is also really the heartbeat of it.

‘Devadasi’ sees the return of the two vocal styles mixed to one song, together with different use of instruments it sounds like a creative genre mash-up.

‘Erebos’ is the final song in this 40 minute journey in the dark reality of Amniac. This song has in its 9 minutes the most cohesion on the album. Not the darkness of other songs, an attractive build-up, nice instrumental balance. In post-black that can be a weakness, but it is quite good actually.

Where my first impression of the album was: ‘nice but average post-black’, after listening to the album a few times, it triggers much more. Thanks to the changes in styles the album creates depth and gets hold of you just when you are about to perish in misery.

Written by Martijn Bakker

Amniac Official Website
Amniac Facebook

Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: Ethmebb - La Quête Du Saint Grind

When selecting this album to review I had no idea what to expect and to be honest I’m still not sure how to best describe this. I’ll give it a serious try though. Ethmebb apparently was founded as Ethmeb, a grindcore band from Tournan-en-Brie, Île-de-France, Paris back in 2006. Its members are Rémi Molette, vocals, guitar and samples, Victor Tunidjah, guitars and choirs, François Santenoff, bass and choirs and Damien Baissile on drums. In 2012, for reasons unknown, Ethmeb was renamed Ethmebb and their musical focus shifted from grindcore to epic death-power-progressive metal. Moreover they prefer the term ‘Epileptic Power Death Progressive Black Doom for children’ themselves, which does not really makes things any clearer.

Anyway, this resulted in the release of an EP called ‘Lost My Grind’ back in 2013 on which Ethmebb’s intentions become clear. Four years later they release their full-length called ‘La Quête Du Saint Grind’, which is supposed to mean something along the lines of ‘The Quest For The Holy Grind’. Judging by the title it’s a concept album, with a somewhat confusing and very much peculiar story brought to us by a bard called Bard the Bard. It’s about a warrior called Tathor who, with the aid of his emerald sword and the power of the dragon flame, tries to maintain the peace in Enchanted Land, which is threatened to be disturbed by a dark shadow from the dark tower of the abyss. Talking about a cheesy story line... However, Tathor doesn’t give a shit about that, all he cares for is finding his grind back that has been stolen from him. He needs his grind back to get laid again (yes, really…), so finding it back becomes his only priority. This marks the start of the quest for the holy Grind as well as the start of the eponymous album. Of course our hero will meet a host of weird characters, so buckle up and prepare, you have been warned.

As unlikely as their personal description of their musical style sounds, it is spot on nevertheless, save the ‘for children’, which I still haven’t quite figured out yet. Each of the aforementioned genres is represented at a given point, be it sometimes only seconds at a time. Even though they initially seem to be used at random, upon closer listening you’ll find that that is definitely not true. This abundant use of many short intervals of various types of music inevitably makes the structure of the songs incredibly complex, which in turn poses the risk of losing yourself in total chaos within them, especially when you add so many different samples as Ethmebb does. The fact that this is not the case on ‘La Quête…’ leads me to believe that a lot of thought has been put into the structure of the songs.. Overall it all sounds remarkably coherent although things go a bit overboard at times causing a bit of restlessness in the sound.

The album starts rather peaceful, with the initially soothing but later more bombastic ‘Tathor, l’Echalote de ses Morts’, a more or less typical power metal intro anthem complete with choirs. This depicts the initial peace Enchanted Land enjoys, which is soon to be disturbed when the grind gets lost, effectively caught in music in ‘Lost My Grind’. A catchy, decent power metal song in itself, but decent is not what Ethmebb pursues, so you’ll encounter a few surprises here, although they are relatively few and far between… for now. The first and most influential being the vocals which, very much unlike power metal, are grinds with at times an insane sounding black metal edge. More weird are the braying donkey and a dance sample that appears to have been borrowed from Dutch dance outfit 2Unlimited.

From there on, by lack of a better description, things get increasingly different. The in the power metal genre characteristic speed and bombastic sound form the base of every song, but the addition of a torrent of soundscapes, breaks, loops, twists and turns fills every song with surprises and gives every song an identity of its own. Every time you think you might get a grasp on Ethmebb’s music there’s a new surprise around the corner which throws you off track again. There is no doubt Ethmebb’s members are excellent musicians, being able to execute this kind of music the way they present us on ‘La Quête …’ is no small feat. I’m assuming here, but I strongly get the impression that fun is what comes first for these guys, which helps in creating their peculiar type of music. They don’t care about genre or unwritten laws about what to play within them, they simply play what they like or whatever comes to mind at any given moment and whenever they see fit. That does not mean their music is slapped together using a multitude of randomly played samples, riffs and vocal lines. I’m truly convinced every single detail has deliberately added in that particular part of the track because of the fact nothing sounds out of place.

If you’re in for a truckload of surprises within the music, this one is for you. There’s so many to be discovered in every single song it’s impracticable to describe it all, let alone fathom it. The only way to find out whatever surprises are lurking in the shadows of the complex compositions is to give the album a couple of spins yourself. There really is no other option in my opinion and to be honest, it’s not exactly a punishment to do so. The only minor point of criticism, as I mentioned before, is that the samples, twists and turns might or maybe should be cut back a little bit to avoid chaos. This however, does not influence the fun and joy of experiencing this all that much.

Written by Henric van Essen

Ethmebb Facebook

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: Havok - Conformicide

Trying to lead the charge for the genre, Colorado thrashers Havok have been at the forefront of the revivalist scene since their formation a decade ago as they set out to carry the ideals and intensity of their forefathers to the current trend of thrashers. With the addition of new bassist Nick Schendzielos to replace Mike Leon, the group springs forth it’s fourth full-length effort March 10, 2017 on new-label Century Media Records.

Much like their previous efforts, this one tends to dwell incredibly heavily in the realm of worshipping the old-school classics of the genre with a more modern touch. That means efforts like “F.P.C.,” “Hang ‘Em High” and “Dogmaniacal” utilize the riffing here in a direct touch on the original forms of the genre, from the raucous high-energy affairs that bring along the tight, rapid paces they follow through, and with the blistering rhythms carried along quite nicely. With these in fine array throughout here already, the album’s penchant for slowing down into a crushing mid-tempo style of “Intention to Deceive,” “Ingsoc” and “Peace is in Pieces” brings about a nice variety to really balance out the furious and intense blasters throughout here, and with the album as a whole carrying on between these distinct styles as it ranges from the furious, massive thrashers to the spindly, mid-range grooves there’s a nice degree of separation and distinction to the tracks that can be found here. That said, the album generally doesn’t come off as intense or sharp as it could when it’s not focused on the rousing thrash-work featured and staying more on those mid-tempo efforts here as they’re simply dry, mechanical and meandering far more than they really should be. It could be due to these making the album feeling more stretched out than it really should, but whenever the album isn’t bringing the speed and ferocity the song dips as a whole whether it’s the whole track or just a snippet. That is somewhat disappointing but considering the fact that it’s vicious far more often than not it’s not terribly crippling as is expected.

While it’s not as vicious and hard-hitting as expected due to the rather disappointing nature of it’s less ferocious material, the fact that the majority of the album tends to remain nicely on point in regards to its rather frantic energies makes this a solid choice for all revivalist thrash fanatics or fans of the previous work in general. 8/10

Written by Don Anelli

Havok Official Website
Havok Facebook
Havok Twitter

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Obscure Infinity - Dawn Of Winter

German oldschool death metallers Obscure Infinity re-release their 2010 debut album “Dawn of Winter” exactly as it is via their new record label, FDA. The album will be available as of 24th of March, let’s have a go at it already!

The album kicks off with a short, very atmospheric intro where the “Summoning of the Ancient Ones” happens. The second track is “Sacrificial Ritual”, which is a rather oldschool death metal song with deep growls, a lot of speed and killer riffs. Very brutal! It only slows down towards the end, where the whole atmosphere changes to somewhat more melodic tunes. “Morbid Ways of God” is even more brutal – the influence of the old Florida death metal bands can clearly be perceived here. Great track! We can then catch our breaths with the short instrumental, atmospheric interlude “Foreshadowing of a Coming Storm”, before the next block of three songs come around. Those are all very much alike, classic oldschool death metal songs, but unfortunately missing the variation that made the first two so great. The album then comes to its end after another soft-tune instrumental interlude. The title track and “Wreak Havoc - A Blackened Mind” are again quite alike the middle part, while the final song, “Transmitting Life To Darkness” is again influenced by Scandinavian Death metal and therefore more diverse.

In conclusion: “Dawn of Winter” is a predominantely oldschool death metal album, but also has some influences from thrash and Scandinavian death. The album gets a bit too repetitive over its 11 tracks, and lacks a good sound - as it is a re-issue, this could have been improved to strengthen the record’s quality. Overall though it’s a good album and worth listening to for fans of (oldschool) death metal. 8/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Obscure Infinity Official Website
Obscure Infinity Facebook

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review: Skálmöld - Vögguvísur Yggdrasils

Skálmöld is a Folk Metal band from Iceland, which has been around since 2009. With three albums under their belt and their fourth one, “Vögguvísur Yggdrasils”, released in September last year, the six guys became one of the best-known metal acts of Iceland. Let’s listen to their latest release!

The band states on its Facebook page that it wants to honor their Viking ancestry. All lyrics revolve around the Norse mythology, which is also the case here: we take a tour around the nine realms, which are connected by the tree of life, Yggdrasil. And, just like the realms, no one song is alike another. First we go to “Muspell”, were we enter with an upbeat death / Folk combo song, marked by the growls of singer Björgvin Sigurðsson and a more melodic part in the middle with choir elements, which then persist until the end of the song. Next stop is “Niflheimur”, were we enter with a Viking metal passage à la Amon Amarth. The song is rather slow paced and marked by clear vocals this time. The whole song is very melodic and nicely in contrast with the first track. “Nidavellir” is a clear Folk metal song, which sounds alike e.g. Ensiferum. More humppa, more upbeat melodies and happy choirs in the background. Very rhythmic and guaranteed to let you bang your head to it! “Midgardur” starts off slow with some doom-like atmosphere, but then picks up speed and becomes more of a Folk song, but less humppa than “Nidavellir”. “Utgardur” is a mid-tempo track with less variation than the others, but is still great to listen to because of the rhythmic songwriting. “Alfheimur” is a very slow one which stays an instrumental for a big part of the song, marked by happy melodies. The city of the gods, “Asgardur”, is in contrast again more upbeat and folksy at the beginning, but also has pressing passages with speedy drumming in the middle and at the end. One of my favorites! “Helheimur” is influenced by black metal elements and a very speedy and pressing song. The album then ends in “Vanaheimur”, a very bombastic song with growls and high-pitched screams at the beginning, which then give way to a melodic instrumental middle part, before we close off with folksy chants. All in one song – so great!

In conclusion: the tour through the nine realms connected by Yggdrasil is a successful one. Each song stands out on its own, but they all still connect very well with each other. I can’t wait to hear what the guys will come up next, but meanwhile it’s a pure joy to listen to this very versatile record, so go ahead and do so as well! 10/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Skálmöld Official Website
Skálmöld Facebook
Skálmöld Twitter

Friday, March 17, 2017

Interview: Eight Sins

In November last year French metallers Eight Sins released their latest album called Serpents. DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen spoke with them, you can read it below.

Hey, how are you doing?

Hi, we’re fine and you!

Eight Sins, why did you choose for this name?

Believe me or not but there is truly a sin number Eight. It’s called the « vain glory », this one is
about the search for glory in each little thing you do (like the number of blue thumbs on your last
selfie). This one serve all the other and lead to them. Humans can be so evil that it must exist an
eighth sin.

It’s also a cool name that sounds great for us and people can think about it.

You play hardcore with thrash metal influences. How is the metal/hardcore scene in France?

We live in a city with a real metal and rock scene, we are proud to be a part of it.
In our country, there is a ton of very good bands who dreamt about spreading their sound in good
scene condition or maybe in the Hellfest, but there is only few places to play and there is a real
lack of rehearsing structure. Of course, there are few places who accept violent music, maybe
people who have fun is an awful show...

You started in 2006, released your debut album in 2008 and last year you already released your
fourth release, Serpents, what are the differences between Eight Sins then and Eight Sins now?

I think we have accepted our Thrash influences, each of us grown listening to thrash and metal.
At the very beginning, we were a part of the Lyon hardcore scene, so we played something close to
Hardcore, but our friends never stopped to tell us that we were too metal! So I think it's just a
return to our musical roots, we now play something which sounds like us: fast and loud. It’s also
the first album with our amazing drummer Jambon who plays so well thrash music.

About the cover of Serpents, what is the story behind it?

Our singer Loxi designed it, he is a talented tattoo artist and a crazy drawer.
In this picture, you can see a politician with a goat head, speaking to mass media microphones.
This is the way we see politics and power, only serpents who tried to corrupt everything they
touched. We think they have no honor, no humanity, no values… a nice bunch of pieces of shit.

Your music is very powerful with a lot of energy in it, what does an Eight Sins concert look like?

It's based on sweat, violence and smile. We really love to play on stage and we think the crowd can
feel it. We always give all our rage and energy, even if there are 10 or 1000 people. We hope
everyone have good time coming to see us. We do it with passion, not for money or glory or
something else, just for fun, friendship and party.

How do you prepare for your shows?

Haha good question, we get naked and make love with our instruments... no it’s a joke. We try to
see the band who played before us to feel the crowd then we go to the lodge and practice some
warm up training lead by Arno our guitarist. It’s pretty funny for the promoters to see us jumping
everywhere. Then we drink a shot and we go on stage!

About your shows in the history of Eight Sins, what is the most memorable moment you want to share?

We remember about a very cool moment during one of our tours: we played in Bolzano (Italy) in a
parking with young hardcore kids and we must take care to the police because it was an illegal
show. After the show we crossed the police on street, they checked our id for thirty minutes and
finally decided to escort us to the hostel with their lights.

Can we expect some tourdates in support of Serpents?

For sure! We are currently preparing a tour this fall so let us know if you want to see Eight Sins in
your town!

Any other future plans for Eight Sins?

We begin to write next album, listening to Slayer. It will be fast, loud and metal!
And off course more Beers and Moshpit.

Thanks for the interview. Is there something you want to share with our readers?

Thanks to you. Go on bandcamp and grab our last album Serpents, it will gives you a ten hour
erection… or not...

Eight Sins Bandcamp
Eight Sins Facebook
Eight Sins Twitter

Review: Noctem - Haeresis

Fast double bass is a thing most commonly associated with death metal, and this band is really playing on this card, and for the sake of double bass drums, it is great and over the top.

The album hits you with a barrage of double bass from the start, and it is relentless for the first couple of songs, with blazing fast double bass, blast beats and bomb blasts. With razor sounding guitars, monster bass and shrieking vocals. The album offers all of what you want as a death metal fan, the album literally has it all. And also the recording quality is a monster, as there is not one part of the album that sounds badly mixed or that a certain instrument is shredding your ears with the volume.

The only problem I had with the album and the songs are some of the acoustic and dissonant guitar parts, that do come off as a bit un-hearable and hard to understand what is going on, while at the same time those parts give this album its own personality in the death metal scene.

All in all, the album is great and I do recommend it wholeheartedly to all death metal fans from both ends of the spectrum. I give this album a 9/10.

Written by Nikola Milošević

Noctem Official Website
Noctem Facebook
Noctem Twitter

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review (+ track premiere!): Occulta Veritas - The Inner Wail

Fans of Noise Trail Immersion might know him as one of the guitarists for that band, Daniele Vergine. Daniele now has his own one-man-band, it’s called Occulta Veritas. Whether you are a fan of Noise Trail Immersion or not, it doesn’t matter. This is something you have to check out! Soon, on March 24th, his first full-length The Inner Wail will be released.

The music on The Inner Wail is fully instrumental, but I guarantee you, vocals won’t be missed. Musically you get a combination of post and math metal which has influences of black metal and hardcore in it. It also has a very progressive feeling overall. Warn your neighbors (or not), put your speakers on a high volume, sit back, close your eyes and let the music do its work. It really is some amazing, heavy, technical music, and it also has some parts to give your ears a bit of rest. Most of the time on The Inner Wail there are a lot of different things to hear, but it won’t be messy. Instead it is perfectly combined and it makes sure it’s difficult for your mind to get distracted from the music. Sometimes it almost sounds like a controlled chaos, and I mean chaos in a good way.

Overall, The Inner Wail by Occulta Veritas is a really awesome release. It’s like a rollercoaster, and a hell of a good one! Daniele Vergine did a great job creating this and I am already looking forward to the next release from Occulta Veritas.

Of course, The Inner Wail isn’t released yet, but we can imagine that you already want to listen to it. Guess what? You have to wait a little longer to listen all of it, but we can give you a sneak peek, because we are stoked to give you an premiere of the track Nonsense, Oblivion. Check it below!

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Occulta Veritas Facebook

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review: Aborted Fetus - The Art Of Violent Torture

Continuing to charge ahead with full force, Russian brutal death metallers Aborted Fetus have brought their ugly, pummeling brand of old-school and brutal death sounds into a rampaging force that highlights one of the finest collections of brutality in the scene. With a five-year gap between releases, the group finally releases its fourth true full-length effort April 28, 2017 on Comatose Music.

Once this gets started, it becomes obvious that there’s yet another dynamic stand-out offering of tight, rapid brutal death metal on display here. The vast majority of tracks like “Boiled Alive,” “Blinded by the Flame” and “Pouring Molten Lead into a Throat” display rabid, feverish riffing full of deep, churning razorwire riffing that’s kept to a locked-tight, controlled onslaught that handles a nice variety of material. Ranging from churning chugs to mid-tempo grooves and even unleashing a few slams and more traditional structures into the proceedings, this manages to unleash a rather frantic burst of material while setting up the more deep, guttural-sounding cuts elsewhere on here. These include “Hanged on the Hook by the Rib,” “Burning at Stake” and “Buried Alive” which range from slow, sprawling sections full of blastbeats and more straightforward churning riffing that offers far more stagnant and start/stop patterns into the rhythms to offer a complete brutal outlook even if the album as a whole does have a few minor issues spring up from this outcome. The main issue here is the utter lack of ability to distinguish what’s going on for long stretches of the album with the inability to really tell what track is playing as the band doesn’t really distinguish itself all that often. The fact that the tracks are all roughly the same length is a big part of that as there’s very little chance for the album to really bring a lot of disparate elements to separate the album a little better. Likewise, the need for three barely minute-long interludes is a little unnecessary as they split up the pacing too much and really doesn’t need that many breaks in an album this short. Otherwise, there’s a lot to like here with its frenetic approach.

Featuring a lot of rather enjoyable elements that bring out some really great brutal moments here, there’s not a whole lot really wrong here beyond the lack of identity in the tracks so there’s enough to work with here for fans of the bands’ previous work or simply brutal death metal in general. 7.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

Aborted Fetus Official Website
Aborted Fetus Facebook

Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: Desecrate The Faith - Unholy Infestation

Getting their true sound unleashed, Texas-based death metallers Desecrate the Faith have brought a grand state of intense old-school elements into their sound that brings along unrelenting blasphemies and technical style riffs alongside merciless blast beats and putrid guttural vocals. With a three-year gap following their debut, the group’s sophomore effort was released March 3, 2017 on Comatose Records.

Getting into the main drive of the album, this one rather easily becomes a series of vicious and charging display of material that maintains its old-school leanings. Efforts like “Predatory Impalement,” “Malignant Divinity” and “Shrine of Enmity” showcase ferocious, deep churning riff-work and a sense of uncaged intensity that creates a whirlwind of dynamic rhythms through the fast-paced tempos. Bringing the intensity rather nicely with the ability to mix and match the furious rhythms alongside pounding drum-work and driving bass-lines, there’s an effectively massive and organic sound featured throughout here that serves the majority of the album exceptionally well. When it eases off from this charging atmosphere in the title track, “Ceremonial Invocation” or “Angel Eater,” it gets replaced with a stellar onslaught of mid-tempo chugging offset by complex challenging rhythms and technical riff-work that really creates the proper dynamic and intriguing work throughout here that makes for a truly engrossing and blistering approach that serves this one quite nicely. From the outset, this multifaceted approach works incredibly well at staging tight, intense and ferocious work that owes as much to the classic sense of the genre as well as the more brutal elements featured within here, and it makes for a wholly engrossing and engaging experience. It runs a tad too long for its own good as the album feels like a few songs could’ve been clipped slightly and not really lost much at all, but overall there’s still quite a lot of impressive work here.

Managing to focus on so many quality and impressive elements as this one does, it really generates the kind of multifaceted approach that comes from so many impressive features here that it manages to appeal to both fans of highly technical brutal death metal or brutality-laced classic death metal as well. 9/10

Written by Don Anelli

Desecrate The Faith Facebook

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review: Endalok - Úr draumheimi viðurstyggðar

Today’s main course is Endalok, an atmospheric aka Icelandic black metal band hailing from, of course, Iceland, founded in July 2016. After a promising demo called ‘Englaryk’, released in 2016, Endalok now shows its next sign of life with the EP ‘Úr draumheimi viðurstyggðar’, roughly translated as ‘from a dream world of abominations’. And that right there is all the confirmed information there is to be found about this band, that, for reasons unknown to mankind, has shrouded itself in mystery. No info on members, the only tangible evidence, if that at all, is a picture with a masked person in it, making it likely, though not certain, this is a one-man project. Apparently Endalok prefers to let the music speak for itself. Oh well, onward then.

Let’s not beat around the bush, ‘Úr draumheimi viðurstyggðar’ is a release that will need more than a few spins to fully unfold itself and even then it’s still not for the faint of heart. Though only 23 minutes in length, it eventually offers an intense musical journey that feels much longer, leaving you feeling as if all lust to live has been drained from every single pore of your body after album closer ‘Holdgerving Andskotans’ (The embodiment of the devil) has died out. Opener ‘Afskræming holds og sálar’ (meaning something like ‘Distorted flesh and soul’) immediately creates an extremely uncomfortable, oppressing atmosphere that submerges you in darkness and despair which will never truly leave you as the album progresses. It might subside ever so slightly at times, but in the back of your mind it’s always going to be there. Always.

This disturbing effect is achieved by the abundant use of sounds, varying from eerie, mysterious to outright frightening, combined with unhuman, manic screams and growls cast in a gloomy, nerve wrecking frame of fear-inducing, aggressive black metal of the filthiest type. The relentlessly pounding drums within the constantly singing, humming and buzzing rhythm of the music are the excellent environment for the insane chants the singer, there’s no other way to describe this, spits out. However, with lyrical themes covering internal conscience, resurrection and after death communication there really is no better way to add the vocals than said spitting, so they in fact are spot on in my opinion. To cite the artist: ‘All in all these songs have the common thread of internal struggle and finding confidence in spite of hopelessness’.

Admittedly, the first time my ears met with ‘Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar’ I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth had crossed my path this time, but that quickly changed when I had found the courage to give it a second spin. When you give this an honest chance and are willing to invest some time you will find an ingeniously woven web of the various emotions that are inseparable to the phenomenon of inner struggle deeply embedded in the multiple layers of desperation and fear that form Endalok’s music. Credit where credit is due, whoever Endalok is or are, there’s definitely a healthy dose of potential here, both in composing and execution of the songs. Complex, multi-layered, atmospheric, exhaustingly intense pieces of music, not much more to be desired and therefore a must for black metal fans. Think of this for a minute: if ever there would be a musical depiction of desolation, it would likely be called ‘Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar’.

Written by Henric van Essen

Endalok Facebook

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Review: Sail - Slumbersong

This marks the first release for the stoner sludge band Sail. Formerly known as Husk. A heavy piece of riff-fest this is. After receiving countless comparisons to Baroness, a very heavy weight in the scene, I had to listen for myself and find out what the fuzz was all about. Pun intended.

After listening to their first moniker Husk, I found a heavily matured band. Perfectly knowing what they are doing and as for the listener, we know pretty good what to expect from this album. The production quality of the album has been doubled at least and the riffs have become catchier and heavier. Especially the guitar parts on this album grip the listeners attention throughout. A lot of grooving and smooth melody lines complement each other with the bass guitar not left behind in the mix.

The listening experience as a whole is not wasting time on letting you bob your head with the infections rhythm parts. Further on in the album shines the highlight of the whole effort with a song named “Righteous” It clocks in just over 5 minutes and it makes for a real crowd pleaser in the future. Shouting and headbanging galore. The build up to the conclusion of the album is a really nice and smooth transition as well, it climaxes on the track called “Shimmer” Which is also the longest track on the album , clocking in at about 7 minutes. It takes you on a journey and grips you in its might. This track does not let go of you until the very last second.

The thing with this album for me is that it is not that original. There are bands like this flooding the scene almost desperate to sound different. Although I admit I’ve never heard this take on stoner/sludge before. I hope this record will get Sail out of the underground. Let them play some shows with Baroness or Bossk or Ohmms. That would be interesting right?


Written by Joost van der Leij

Sail Facebook
Sail Twitter

Review: The Charm The Fury - The Sick, Dumb & Happy

The Charm The Fury is, or rather used to be a metalcore band based in Amsterdam, Holland, founded in 2010. The line-up consists of screaming fury Caroline Westendorp and guitarists Rolf Perdok and Martijn Slegtenhorst, completed with a rhythm section formed by Lucas Arnoldussen on bass and Mathijs Tieken on drums. They released an EP called ‘The Social Meltdown’ in 2012 and their first full-length, ‘A Shade Of My Former Self’, in 2013. This landed them a boatload of positive critics, earning them a spot in many unofficial lists of most promising bands and also on the set list of several big festivals across Europe, like Download and Fortarock.

Despite all this success TCTF’s members decided, after careful introspection, to step out of their comfort zone by completely change course, more or less abandoning the pure metalcore. Instead they used any detail that felt right and built a song around it. That could be anything, from a glorious riff to a gripping vocal line or an intense solo. Influence-wise the main focal point turned out to be the eighties and nineties traditional metal with healthy doses of music from other styles. Now, some three and a half years later, they are ready to unleash the result of these changes on the world by releasing a new album called ‘The Sick, Dumb & Happy’, which is to be interpreted as a description of about 95% of modern day humans. Now, it’s not very common to change a winning team, so this sudden change of style will likely raise a few eyebrows here and there and could be cause for some serious concern as well. But to be honest, knowing the skills of the guys and girl, in my case curiosity prevails over worry. Let’s see if that is just.

The album contains eleven tracks spanning 42 minutes and it kicks off with the furious ‘Down On The Ropes’, the perfect song to get you fired up for whatever is coming your way. It’s an energetic track that has an aggressive feel to it, not in the last place due to Caroline’s flaming screams, but the raging guitars and the crushing rhythm section have a big part in this as well. Also, as an added bonus, its solo, in which the traditional metal from the eighties and nineties indeed is clearly audible, gives us the first real indication of the new TCTF. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the least bit out of place in many of the big hits from said era. A surprising, but definitely promising start. And from there on the surprises keep on coming. There’s something for about everyone on this album, TCTF’s music has evolved into some sort of hybrid style with influences from many different corners of the metal music spectrum.

There’s the genre-defying ‘Songs Of Obscenity’ with its provocative breaks, where guitars, drums, bass and vocals are constantly fighting to claim the listeners undivided attention. This recipe is repeated on album closer ‘Break And Dominate’, be it subtly altered with the addition of a pinch of mysticism giving this a slightly more ominous feel to it at times. And as if that wasn’t enough on ‘Blood And Salt’, with a little bit of imagination, you could even find some doom and gothic elements, adding power to this otherwise straightforward metal song, a term that is in no way meant to be diminishing by the way. This straightforward metal is also represented by ‘The Hell In Me’ with its old school solos.

Of course there’s still plenty of room for music from the roots, high voltage songs like ‘Weaponized’, ‘No End In Sight’ and ‘The Future Need Us Not’, which is preceded by a somewhat weird ‘Corner Office Maniacs’, all still breathe metalcore. There’s no shortage in heavy riffs and breakdowns, it’s just not as distinct anymore. The songs are now peppered with various riffs and rhythms originating from other types of metal, adding depth and dynamics to them. Music and vocals are a great match as always. Obviously the band still feels very much at home in this genre and they are more than capable of blending other influences in it without losing the metalcore feel. However, it’s clear TCTF’s members choice to broaden their horizons unmistakably moved them many steps on the path to musical maturity. Proof of this is to be found throughout ‘The sick…’, but is in my opinion best illustrated by the presence of a genuine power ballad called ‘Silent War’ in which they show their vulnerable side. Though extremely contrasting with what they used to play, they appear pretty comfortable playing this type of music nevertheless. This impression is strengthened when listening to the, in my opinion, brilliant pinnacle ‘Echoes’. Even though not a power ballad by any means, its chorus, awesome in its simplicity and sound, could easily be classified as part of one, underlining TCTF’s growth both towards and into an authentic, genre-defying band.

Age brings wisdom, in this case in the form of the realization that solely playing metalcore was not what TCTF saw as their ultimate future. Instead of choosing the easy way they decided to focus on what they truly enjoyed in music, even though this meant they had to step out of their comfort zone and think out of the metalcore box. Way out of it. Considering they were on a lot of lists with most promising bands this has been a bold and brave decision, but as far as I’m concerned one that may very well be the best decision they have ever made. They will probably never complete the path they have chosen, no one does, and it won’t be an easy ride either, but in my opinion it’s all worth it. With ‘The Sick, Dumb & Happy’ they drop a proverbial bomb that will resonate for a long time if you ask me. It’s a highly varied album, that will appeal to a wide range of metal fans, including their first hour fans regardless their initial response. Highly recommended, I suggest you do what Caroline asks you to do in the interview I had with her the other day: give the album a serious chance. You won’t be disappointed.

And as promised: If ever there will be a time to quit the dull everyday job and exchange it for the ‘glamorous’ life of a full-time musician it could very well be now. See you on the 24th…

Written by Henric van Essen

Read our interview with The Charm The Fury's vocalist Caroline Westendorp here.

Read our live review about The Charm The Fury and Delain at LuxorLive, Arnhem here.

The Charm The Fury Official Website
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The Charm The Fury Twitter

Interview: Caroline Westendorp of The Charm The Fury

In response to the upcoming release of The Charm The Fury’s new album called ‘The Sick, Dumb & Happy’ DutchMetalManiac’s Henric van Essen got the opportunity to question vocalist Caroline Westendorp.

Hi, how are you doing?

Crazy busy now with the new album, but doing good, thanks.

Congratulations with the new album, can you tell me a little about it?

Thanks, it has been a real arduous task this time, it was truly terrible. It took some three and a half years, the previous release was back in 2013, and we have spent many evenings debating who we are, where we are going, what do we want with the new album, do we still want to make metalcore? The answer to the last question was ‘no’, which raised new questions: What are we going to do now, how are we going to define ourselves, who are we really? To figure that out we have spent many more evenings writing, brainstorming and starting all over again like crazy until eventually we came into the right flow. That resulted in 10 new songs, which we have recorded, but we redid the drums twice, threw the guitar parts out and so on, so like I said, it has been arduous. I am very happy with the result though.

So it’s safe to say it’s a great album?

Yes, it’s very different from what we have done before, but I personally think it’s awesome.

I have not had the opportunity to listen to your new album yet, but I did see the clip of ‘Down On The Ropes’. If anything it’s clear the style is different from ‘A Shade Of My Former Self’. Despite enjoying the previous release I also very much enjoyed ‘Down On The Ropes’.

Thanks, I’m glad to hear. We have received quite a number of negative responses from within our fan base about it. They weren’t happy with the fact the song is not metalcore anymore, which they prefer over the style of ‘Down On The Ropes’. You lose some you win some I guess. In all honesty though, there’s a lot of other tracks on the new album that are way more similar with our earlier work, while this one, I must admit, is quite far from that. The same goes for ‘Echoes’, another song from the new album we have made a clip to.

Why did you choose these songs to promote your new album then?

Actually to make a statement, to stir things up a bit, to show we are back after a couple of years of absence, completely different, but back nevertheless. And of course to kick against the system, which is inherent to metal.

It must have been great fun shooting the clip of ‘Down On The Ropes’, you look charming in it, hehe.

Hehe, thanks. It was one of the coldest days in January when we shot that, and I had to walk around in a tiny bikini all day in temperatures below zero. I have spent the whole of next week in bed with a throat infection. Nevertheless it was awesome. This timed we have used a new producer, where the previous clips were done by a production company, so it was a bit of an experiment. Instead of at band shots this clip is aimed at the story line of the song, which forced us to step out of our comfort zone, but which, in my opinion, turned out great.

I agree. It does underline your statement as well.

It does and it also fits the overall theme of the album. The title, ‘The Sick, Dumb & Happy’, actually stands for the life fat man in the clip leads. He lets his entire life be influenced by biased coverage of the media that tries to force their picture-perfect life upon us. This makes us pretty much blind for the true problems in the world. It’s about the short-sighted perspective of modern society, perfectly exemplified by Trump followers, and the media that abuse that very short-sightedness. And then to think Trump made it to president and we could very well be facing a similar situation here depending how the election develops. There’s a few other themes and some more personal lyrics on the album, but the general message is that we continue to grow dumber and more blind and that we’re basically killing our world, stripping ourselves from all perspective. We close our eyes and choose the easy way out regardless the consequences. It all looks grim at the moment, which is why, in contrast to on our previous album, there is no positive vibe or message at the end.

I agree. Do you exaggerate the feelings in the songs compared to the feelings you have in real life?

Well, to be honest in my direct surroundings I don’t feel these things as strongly, but when I see what happens in the world on the news I definitely do feel the same fierce anger I express in the songs.

Do you have the idea there’s anything you can do about it?

Every vote counts, use it to say how you feel and what you think whenever you can. When you give up your freedom of speech because of fear all is lost. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

True. Interesting discussion we got going here, I’d love to continue it on another occasion. For now, back to the music I guess. I have seen you play as opener for Delain in Arnhem, and I must say I was surprised to see this combination. How did that come to be?

Ah, Arnhem, I did that gig while suffering from a food poisoning. The combination with Delain has been instigated by Robert Westerholt of Within Temptation. We work together, he has more or less been our creative mentor throughout the creation of our new album, triggering us to think about how we want to profile ourselves, which we have integrated in some of the songs. Through him we met his brother Martijn who is part of Delain and he thought it would be great to do a few shows together. The combination was cause for concern for me at first as well. I wondered if it would work, but Delain’s fans are open minded, so I think we did manage to grab a few of them. Nevertheless, the majority seemed stunned to be honest, even though that particular gig was one of the best when it comes to response from the audience, hehe. We have had another gig with Delain where the audience all but left when we played. We still had fun though.

Good to hear. Earlier you said this album is very different from your previous work. Can you explain what and how?

The most important difference is that we’re no longer explicitly a metalcore band anymore which is clearly audible. We used to listen a lot to metalcore in our earlier days, mostly to Under Oath, Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying, and when our previous album was released we noticed there were so many bands that made more or less the same type of music that the entire genre had been saturated. We didn’t have the idea we could renew or distinguish ourselves among the other bands anymore. Also we used to focus on song structures when composing songs instead of trying to find the ‘yeah-factor’, which can be an awesome riff or a vocal line that hits you. We felt a song should be built according to a specific structure with a verse followed by a chorus, then a break, you know. We have completely abandoned that particular approach and started with writing about every type of metal you can think of, from djent to technical metal to, of course, metalcore, but nothing felt truly right. While writing we used to listen to bands that have had the most influence on us, and they kept popping up on our paths. Music from bands like Metallica, Pantera are timeless and still sound awesome despite the fact they have been written a long time ago. At one point we decided to start all over with a clean sheet, and we came up with a super great riff. We decided to build the song around that riff and not around the expected song structures and copied that method for every new song we wrote. The result is that every single song is less complex, verse-chorus-verse, and they all have one special thing that makes that particular song. This can be anything from a fantastic riff to a vocal line and we feel all songs have the ‘yeah-factor’ we were after. We now no longer play metalcore but ‘just’ metal.

Nothing wrong with that if you ask me, but it does raise the question why you come up with this only now?

Hehe, I guess, as cheesy and cliché as it sounds, we have grown up and matured. We listened almost exclusively to metalcore because we thought the world of it and it was only natural we played that as well. At the time we didn’t take into account if it was a type of music that was bound to stay and now it’s obvious it wasn’t in contradiction to the timeless metal we used to listen to as kids which will remain for a long time to come.

True, but that means many more bands will try to compose music along those lines. It is evident the metalcore genre is saturated, but that goes for all metal genres. How do you plan to distinguish yourselves from all others which is vital?

Of course we are not trying to reinvent that music. I too noticed many more bands are trying going back to the eighties and nineties metal nowadays, making us one of the million once more. We try to create a sound of our own within the music, a bit organic and, of course, a chick screaming is not a common feature in that genre, although their numbers increase big time lately as well. I have to stay sharp, hehe. But in all honesty, we’re still looking for our own sound, and I think we are well on our way with this release.

You definitely got my interest piqued concerning ‘The Sick, Dumb & Happy’, I’ll be sure to check it out and, when given the chance, review it. And now it’s time for touring I assume. I have checked the list with upcoming gigs and it looks impressive. Are you looking forward to it?

Definitely, there’s a few bucket list gigs in that schedule. Download, Into the Grave and we’re in a different country every weekend. From Lisbon to Helsinki to the Czech Republic, it’s going to be a bizarre but awesome experience I’m sure. And imagine running into your heroes backstage, holy shit. I hope we’ll have success and that we don’t have to play for half empty venues and fields. I still feel stress when I have to expose the music we have been working on for years not knowing what people will think of it. Also the fact a large label is behind all this (Nuclear Blast) who we want to convince they have made the right decision, adds to this feeling. Luckily Nuclear Blast knows metal is something for the long run, giving us the time and the rest we need. Hopefully it will turn out a to be a success.

I’m sure you’ll do just fine. I assume you weren’t booked for gigs like this because your music is crappy. Being on the road so often might be a big interference with your everyday life. Is your artist life compatible with your everyday life?

That is getting quite pressing at the moment. I still have a rather dull office job, which brings awkward situation at times where a work relation all of a sudden asks me if it was me he saw on stage the other day. ‘No that was my alter ego’, hehe. But seriously, the way it looks now my days off are no longer sufficient to cover the days I am away on tour. I’m currently on a crossing point in my life, where I have to choose to give up my regular job or not. At the moment I need the job, because metal is not a genre where you can make loads of money nowadays. On the other hand, keeping both is not an option either, so it’s a bit of a make it or break it situation and I’m not sure where I’m going yet. Giving up the certainty of a job is huge, but I am definitely going to give it all I have to make The Charm The Fury work. I don’t want to look back wondering what could have been. Hopefully we get enough shows so our music will spread among the masses in due time, making it possible for us to earn a living. I don’t need to get rich, I just want to be able to live the life of a metal musician. That is my ultimate goal and this is the moment to make it all happen. The chances are there, now it’s up to us.

Do you feel confident about it?

Most definitely. If I had a say in this I’d quit my job today rather than tomorrow.

I hope it works out, I’ll keep an eye out. If you had to choose between studio work and touring, what would you choose?

Touring, without a doubt. Studio work is tedious, extremely demanding and stressful. You are demolishing your voice for hours and hours every day for weeks on end, wondering if you will sound good enough the next day or not, all in an effort to record the perfect lines. Every little detail has to be better than perfect, which is exhausting and then there’s the frustration to add to it as well. When you have tried to record the same vocal line for seventeen times and it still isn’t good enough you start to doubt it will ever be perfect at all. Touring is simply just fun.

Speaking of voice, has your voice always been like this?

No, practice makes perfect in my case, I think everyone can scream. I started in my bedroom listening to metalcore bands like Underoath and Every Time I Die and it dawned on me there were many women in metal who all could be placed in different genres, like the women in dresses that are more or less gothic, but in the genre I preferred at that time, southern metalcore, they were few and far between. So I decided to check tutorials on YouTube on how to scream.

Your neighbors must have loved you…

Well, my alcoholic downstairs neighbor knocked on my door twice while drunk asking whatever was happening and if he could do something for me, hehe. Anyway, in the end I could keep it up for a few songs, but when I met the guys I noticed I wasn’t using my voice too well because I developed nodules on my vocal chords. From there on I started working with a vocal coach, which is some five years back now, and I have a lot to thank him for, even though it’s extremely boring. Every day the same scales over and over again, but it’s like going to the gym. You can compare vocal chords with muscles, you have to keep them flexible to keep them in shape and maintain your reach.

Obviously it works, I thought you sounded pretty good live. Sadly it seems time is up, many thanks for your time, it has been a pleasant conversation. Last but not least, is there anything you would like to share with our readers?

Give our new record a chance, it has so many different tracks that, even though you might not like the songs we have released, there’s most likely some other ones you will enjoy.

You can read our live review about The Charm The Fury and Delain in LuxorLive, Arnhem here.

You can read our review about The Sick, Dumb & Happy here.

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