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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Promoting Bands Part 16 + New website announcement


It's already been a while since the last part of Promoting Bands (part 15).

This is partly due to the fact that we've been working on a new website which will be viewable soon.

Besides of course some nice bands that are really worth checking out, this sixteenth part of Promoting Bands is also the official announcement of our new website.

In case you want to read our earlier Promoting Bands parts (again), here they are:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15

And remember: don't hesitate to send us an email, Facebook or Twitter message if you want to be featured in the next part of Promoting Bands!


Tim van Velthuysen

New website

As mentioned above this part of Promoting Bands contains, besides the usual content, also the official announcement of DutchMetalManiac's new website.

On July 27th, DutchMetalManiac hits its 4 year mark!

Due to the fact that the new website is ready and this date is near, our new website will be viewable for everyone on July the 27th as a celebration of this 4 year mark!

The new URL already works for a while, but now it will still redirect you to our blogspot. This won't happen anymore as of July the 27th, from that moment on you will stay on So, if you normally use our direct blogspot URL ( to go to DutchMetalManiac, remember to change this before July the 27th.

We hope to welcome you on the new DutchMetalManiac-website on July the 27th, so be sure to note this on your calendar! \m/

Of course, we also have five nice bands in Promoting Bands Part 16:


Fister, consisting of Kenny Snarzyk (bass/vocals), Kirk Gatterer (drums) and Marcus Newstead (guitars/vocals) brings a mix of inert doom and intense sludge. When you want extreme speed, this probably isn't a band for you. When you dig heavy, inert guitars, deep, intense drums and crushing vocals that go through marrow and bone, you can't pass on Fister! Coming from St. Louis, USA this heavyweight band already released 7 splits, 2 EP's and 3 full-lenghts. Until a short while ago, because on April the 27th (EU)/May 18th (USA) these guys released a fourth full-length. This fourth album is called No Spirit Within and is released via Listenable Records. It is heavy as fuck! Almost 49 minutes of heavy doom/sludge booming out of your speakers and leaving you crushed. Many people probably need some rest after listening this album. Can you handle it? You can try below.

Fister Facebook

Mos Generator

The next band also sounds a bit doomy, but in a totally different way than Fister. Mos Generator is more like Black Sabbath's doomy hardrock sound. Some influences from '70/'80/'90 rock and progressive rock are also to be heard. Mos Generator already released 6 full-lengths, a compilation, a live album and some splits. Now, founding member Tony Reed (guitar/vocals/keyboards) and his new rhythm section (since 2015), Sean Booth (bass) and Jon Garrett (drums) are back with Mos Generator's seventh full-length. This seventh album is titled Shadowlands and is out since May via Listenable Records. Recommended for sure, so start listening below. You can also read our review of Mos Generator's Abyssinia here.

Mos Generator Facebook


The third band of this Promoting Bands hails from Belarus and consists of Kirill "KILLRY" Bobrik (guitars/vocals), Zlatoyar Siversky (bass) and Mike Ponomarev (drums), together they are VELD. Since their formation in 2001, VELD released 3 full-lengths and a DVD. The last of those full-lengths is 2015's DAEMONIC: The Art Of Dantalian. Now, these Belarus' blackened death metallers have added a fourth full-length to this list. This fourth album, titled S.I.N. is released on June 15 (EU, USA: July 6th) via Listenable Records. However, VELD's line-up on S.I.N. is different compared to their earlier mentioned, current line-up. The only stable member is guitarist/vocalist Kirill "KILLRY" Bobrik, but as he is VELD's mastermind and founding member, this is logical. On S.I.N. Tomasz Wawrzak takes care of bass duties, while Romain Goulon handles the drums. The latter one you may know from Benighted and/or Necrophagist. Besides them there is also a guest on S.I.N.: Karl Sanders, known from Nile. This new VELD album is definitely great! You can listen to it below!

VELD Facebook


The next band is still pretty new. Novaria, consisting of Kelly Thans (vocals), Moniek Roeloffs (guitars), Cas de Riemer (guitars), Jasper Velberg (bass/vocals) and Rob Dekker (drums) just formed last year and released their first EP, which can be listened to here, in December. Hailing from Amersfoort, The Netherlands, these atmospheric metallers deliver a very promising sound on their first EP. Very well played, heavy, dark and atmospheric combined with the strong vocals of both Kelly and Jasper, this for sure is a band to keep track of. This EP is, especially for a debut, fantastic and is very promising for future Novaria-material. Below you can watch their recently released video for Blindsight, a song coming of their EP.

Novaria Facebook


The last band of this part of Promoting Bands comes from Arnhem, The Netherlands. RJ (vocals), Richard, Peter (both guitars), Tijl (bass) and Rutger (drums) together are death metal band Mouflon. RJ is the newest member of this quintet, he is Mouflon's frontman since last year. Mouflon's music is heavy, inert and destroying. This bulldozes everything and everyone. This year, their debut full-length, titled Devastations, will come out. This will be accompanied with an album release show in De Brigant, a venue in Mouflon's hometown Arnhem. Below you can listen to Remembered By Skin, coming of Devastations. Do you like it and do you think you can handle getting bulldozed by Mouflon? Yes, then De Brigant in Arnhem is the place to be on November 30th!

Mouflon Facebook
Album release show Facebook Event

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Interview: Superscream

A while ago, Superscream released their latest record The Engine Cries. DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen recently interviewed their guitarist Phil Vermont about this album, among other things.

Hey, congratulations with your latest album, The Engine Cries. It’s really nice!

Thanks! We really tried to give the best of ourselves with this album, we are delighted it is so much appreciated!

You already recorded The Engine Cries in 2015, but you released it in May last year. What was the reason for this?

There are two reasons for this. The first one is that each of our agendas did not allow us to work continuously on the album. We therefore had to schedule one week here and then one week there the next month and so on… Eric, (our singer/producer/multipurpose man) is leading his career as a lyric singer and he is very much asked for. As for me, I am a professional guitarist and very much asked for too. As you can guess, our agenda are overbooked, as well as those of the other members of the group. If Superscream is a priority for us, we cannot yet make a living on it, so we must plan our time at best to conciliate our jobs and our commitment in Superscream.

The second reason is that we really wanted to give our best in this album and leave nothing to chance, be it the music and production or visual and promotion. It takes much time to set this in a professional manner, all the more since most of these aspects are managed by members of the group.

The cover of The Engine Cries is really nice! What is the story behind it?

We wanted a visual which would be really representative of the contents of the album. We set up together the specifications and then Eric was in charge of the work with the graphic designer. We wanted to inspire ourselves from Caras Ionut, a surrealistic artist and mix with somehow steampunk aesthetics. Eric found the idea of the machine on the rough sea and forwarded all this to Stan W. Decker who understood very fast where we wanted to go and made up this image. Afterwards, they went on working together to develop these ideas on the booklet and the rest of the cover.

When you compare The Engine Cries to your first album Some Strange Heavy Sound, what is it you notice?

To me, this album is in all respects superior to the first one! As the composer, I really have the feeling that this second album is more mastered than the first one. I paid a very special attention to the fact that refrains be very catchy and that apart from merely instrumental passages we really have songs that might be performed with an acoustic guitar and voice.

The production also evolved al lot; the sounds of guitars and bass are much better. We had more material available for this album and we mastered it differently from the first one. Another important difference is that the first album had been recorded with professional musicians pals, but this was not yet a real group, it was most of all a common project with Eric.

I think the solos too are better structured, and I tried to make each of them tell something by avoiding pointless virtuosity.

The musicians who play on this album are the same as for the live. We rehearsed the pieces together before entering the studio and I think that the good vibes in the group and the friendship that links us shows up on this disc.

As for the lyrics too, things have changed. Eric signed most of the texts, except two which were written by Stéphane, our bassist.

In fact, everything has evolved since our first album!

You also use some non metal/hardrock things in your music like ethnic elements, jazz and percussion of all kinds, which makes it really nice. What was the idea behind this?

This idea of “musical opening” is Superscream’s very concept! When I imagined this project, I wanted to make music which would give metal and hardrock lovers what they feel like hearing, but which would go further and also offer something different, unpublished. Miscegenation is to my point of view the best way to suggest something new and anyway, when you look backwards at the history of music, it is often verified! And then, in a time when everything is compartmentalized, when people tend to retire into themselves, it’s not such a bad idea to abolish some boundaries, isn’t it?

Do you have boundaries you don’t cross with your music? If so, what are those boundaries?

Yes, of course! But rather than speaking of boundaries, I prefer to speak of setting up a frame. It’s this frame which defines Superscream’s sound. There are a certain number of limits I set to myself when I compose or direct the musicians, to stay in the frame of Superscream. Anyway, this frame is very wide! Roughly, the dominating aesthetics must remain hard rock and metal, even if we mix with other styles. We also avoid “very 80’s” productions with synthesizers too much forward and archi-reverbered snares.

It is also always mandatory that, despite of miscegenation, the pieces remain coherent and fluid. We do not want the different parts to look like a “collage” as we can hear with other prog groups. We strive to have nothing “pointless” in the writing and that each part is justified! Here you are, I’m sure there are many others, but these are the first ones which come to my mind.

For releasing The Engine Cries, you signed to Send The Wood Music, what makes them the best option for Superscream at this moment?

We received several proposals for signing in the USA, but we wanted to stay in France to keep some control on what was going on for distribution. Send The Wood are distributed by Season of Mist who are a very influent actor on the metal scene in France. This was a determining element when the choice had to be made. The future will tell if it was a good decision or not…

Since The Engine Cries is already released for a while, are you already working on some new material? If so, can you already tell us something about it?

Not yet because we are working on the production of the live DVD. But while composing The Engine Cries, I wrote more than 20 titles which all have already been laid out with the group, so we already almost have enough to make a third album. There may be a very long piece around African musics since it’s a concept I would like to develop on this next album. I’ll dive into it as soon as the DVD is completed.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

First, as a professional guitarist, I had the chance to participate in many projects and play lots of different musics, as well as Eric. It remains a great source of inspiration to me. Then there are also prog groups as Dream Theater, Haken and also all the 70’s groups such as Led Zep and Deep Purple which are absolute references to me and the other members of the group, and so are also inexhaustible sources of inspiration. To end with, I love traveling and it’s eventually the way I see Superscream’s albums: a musical journey, a sonic adventure!

Your biography also states that you’re working on a live DVD, can you already tell us something about that?

Yes, we spent a week’s residence at the Arcade to build a real show with scenography, décor, etc. The concert was filmed with many cameras and the music was recorded live. It was a risked bet since we had not yet issued The Engine Cries and our public did not know yet a big part of the titles we played! But happily enough, all this worked very well and the public proved to be very warmhearted and receptive to these new pieces, as you’ll be able to see soon. I’m mounting all this, but I can tell you as of now that it’s gonna be heavy stuff!

Can we expect some Superscream shows soon? Maybe coming to The Netherlands?

We’re working on it! The group is ready to hit the road, but for now we did not succeed in organizing a tour to promote The Engine Cries. We hope it will happen soon… Maybe when the DVD is released? To be continued… Anyway, we’d be delighted to come and play in your beautiful country!

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

Yes, for those who would like to discover the group after this interview, you can view our clips on our Youtube channel, as well as a lot of rather funny videos we made for the promotion of the record. Besides, a new clip and a little surprise should appear to keep you patient until the DVD is released... Meanwhile, you can also listen to us on Deezer, Spotify, etc. Stay tuned!

Superscream Official Website
Superscream Facebook

Monday, July 9, 2018

Review: Kormak - Faerenus

Kormak is a relatively young band hailing from Bari, Italy. The first sign of life dates back to 2015, born from singer Zaira de Candia’s idea to form a band. After a rather turbulent first period line-up-wise, the band found stability in 2017, working its way from there to a record deal to release their debut release. The band’s name comes from the fantasy book series The Kormak Saga by William King, which all members very much appreciate. Knowing this it can hardly be surprising the band’s core business is folk metal, be it with, as seems to be the standard these days, multiple influences form various other genres, of which death metal is the most distinct. Their first release is titled Faerenus and its lyrical concept is aimed at madness and its causes. Faerenus is the ethereal place where all hidden fears come to life engulfing its visitors in nightmares. The band’s current line-up is filled with Zaira de Candia for vocals and flutes, Alessandro Dionisio and Alessio Intini on guitar, Francesco Loconte on bass and Dario Stella on drums.

The story behind the world of Faerenus suggests the unsuspecting listener might very well encounter some of his or her worst fears in musical form. Opening intro Amon, which is basically an acoustic music-accompanied whispered text, actually contributes to this suggestion, but the next song, March of Demise is nothing more, but also nothing less, than a strong, heavily folk-influenced metal song with some nice acoustic pieces. Not that it has no musical references to nightmares, there’s, for example, various vocal lines that combine operatic tones with hoarse grunts, which apparently also are at least partly Zaira’s work, creating a somewhat unnerving, mildly aggressive atmosphere. A variation that is difficult to master to say the least, but definitely one I dig and in this case the execution is quite well. It might take a little getting used to though, mostly due to the eventually untrue idea the vocal lines seem a bit out of sync with the song’s rhythm. So to cut to the chase, it’s a promising start in my opinion. Next up is Sacra Nox, holy night in English, that kicks off with sweet, merry flute tones but quickly culminates into a full-blown heavy metal song. Here too the operatic vocal lines dominate the song, immediately ringing faint but distinct Epica-bells in my head.

With the next song, The Goddess’ Song, Kormak initially changes course to much less heavy, but halfway through things get fired up again. Zaira goes along with the flow of changing course by utilizing a sweet clean vocal that builds up to a raw, more aggressive, clean vocal style full of emotion. It’s a style that fits her remarkably well, but the downside is that it mercilessly reveals a common flaw among Italian vocalists: the accent. Zaira suffers from that as well, but in all honesty it didn’t really bother me here, simply because the song itself and her particularly expressive singing in it are more than good enough to stop me from actually getting distracted by it. But then things seem to take a turn for the weird with the 22-minute-song (!) Hermit. The first few minutes it seems to be an acoustic ballad, but then the music ends and a prolonged silence takes its place only broken every few minutes by what seem to be random soundscapes. There is no way they actually are random, though. There’s a heartbeat, airplanes, an explosion, the link with an ongoing bombardment is easily made of course. The minutes of silence between the various soundscapes build tension, leaving the listener with growing anticipation of what might be coming next until the song ends with the same soothing melody it started with. If ever someone caught a nightmare caught in a song, this is it. Quite an experience to be honest.

It’s up to the title song to fire things back up and re-focus the attention to the music, with which it has no problem whatsoever. It, again, starts with the sweet tones of the flute to lead you into a false state of peace of mind only to blow that away in an instant when the guitars kick in. The transformation is complete when Zaira unleashes a truly mean growl to fully engulf you in the next nightmare. The haunting whispers are a great detail to seriously add to the oppressive atmosphere. If you hadn’t noticed the developing song pattern with the relatively soothing start-by-flute intro building up to the operatically backed grunt ‘n’ riff, the next song, from a known-fears point of few expectedly entitled Patient No X, definitely will point you in the right direction. Build on the same base the majority of the songs is, this too is a solid nightmare-in-a-song. July 5 has the doubtful honor of being the penultimate song, slamming into power metal gear after starting the way we have become familiar with throughout this release and (spoiler alert!) ending with a little surprise. The album ends with, of course, a lullaby. It’s called Eterea El and has all the elements you need in a haunting lullaby. A slow, piano-backed, bordering on out of tune melody, whispered singing, crying, a girl laughing and lyrics that will keep you from closing your eyes to go to sleep, all produced as if it’s played on an old record player. Sweet dreams!

Now, I can easily point out a few things that are of great influence on Kormak’s successful musical impersonation of nightmares, but the truth is that simply doesn’t cover it. There’s more to it than just that. It’s the fusion between all elements that creates an unnerving vibe that cannot be pinpointed and that is exactly what makes this release something special. Or different, depending on how you look at it and what your preferences are. However, if you ask me, and you did, I’d definitely go for ‘special’. I seriously had a great time listening to this release which also grew on me with every next spin. Great songs, ingeniously put together and greatly executed, what more can you wish for? This one will for sure turn up high in my year list. Forget folk metal, power metal, death metal or black metal, talented Kormak plays nightmare metal! Mandatory buy!

Written by Henric van Essen

Kormak Facebook

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review: The Dawn Razor - Renaissances

A few years ago, Sylvain Spanu left the French metal band Blackout. In 2017 he announced the forming of a new band, The Dawn Razor, which released its full-length debut, titled Renaissances, on March 9th. Sylvain himself describes The Dawn Razor's music as sublime metal.

Starting with opening track Lisboa 1755, Renaissances immediately is very up-tempo. The tempo will mostly stay pretty high, despite quite a few rhythm-variations in this album. So, if you need some points of rest in the coming 46 minutes and you want to hear Renaissances in one complete take, you’d better listen to it another time.

As mentioned earlier, the musical style of The Dawn Razor is sublime metal. But what is sublime metal exactly? According to the accompanying press kit it is a mix of black and death inspirations. I surely recognize these influences in the instrumental part of Renaissances as well as in the vocals (the screams are very black metal-like). However, I also hear some other musical influences on Renaissances. For example, the song-structures and guitar-riffs sometimes sound a bit prog- or groove-influenced, not both at the same time, but on different moments on Renaissances. The clean vocals also sound fitted for some groove metal at times. These clean vocals however are not exactly to my liking. In my opinion they sound a bit forced and sometimes a bit emotionless.

Of course, sublime metal is still just a description of their music. You have to listen to Renaissances to decide whether you dig The Dawn Razor's music or not. Like mentioned before, instrumentally Renaissances has quite a few rhythm-variations. This is what makes Renaissances the most interesting, together with the many variations of the most important instrument on this album. Which instrument that is? Of course I am talking about the guitar, Renaissances is very guitar-driven. High guitars as well as the heavier riffs are present on this album, just as some very nice guitar-solo's in, for example, Weapon Dealers, Childish Whims or Fake Paranoia. The solo in the latter one giving a bit more of a melodic touch to a very raging track. The fact that Sylvain can play the guitar very well becomes pretty clear while listening to Renaissances.

Besides the clean vocals, which as I said earlier are not to my liking, Renaissances sounds very nice. The Dawn Razor for sure delivered a solid album with quite a lot of variation. Especially for a debut album, The Dawn Razor did a pretty good job. For sure recommended for people who like great guitar-tunes in their metal.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

The Dawn Razor Facebook

Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: Misanthropic Rage - Igne Natura Renovatur Integra

The Polish metallers of Misanthropic Rage, consisting of AR (vocals/guitars/drum programming) and W (vocals/bass/drum programming), exist as a band since 2015. In 2016, they released their debut EP (Qualia) and debut full-length (Gates No Longer Shut, read our review here). Now, since March 12th, this Polish duo released the successor of Gates No Longer Shut. This second full-length is titled Igne Natura Renovatur Integra.

Opening track Call All Your Angels starts with a calm guitar-intro. A few moments later it gets a more ritualistic and ominous vibe due to the added vocals. After approximately 2:30 minutes into the 7:30 minutes-during track, Misanthropic Rage breaks loose with their pure, misanthropic, hellenic rage of black metal.

Something that immediately stands out are the very strong vocals. Whether it will be the clean vocals in for example Abstrakt, The Agony Of Breath or in the sometimes a bit more melodic, proggy closing track The Truth Shall Be Told, the haunting ghost-like vocals in the background of In Embrace Of Sanity or the aforementioned misanthropic screams, it doesn't matter, the vocals are all very strong throughout the entire album.

Instrumentally, Igne Natura Renovatur Integra also contains a lot of variation, in both song structures as well as in tempo. Something that is recurring regularly are the high, gazing guitars mixed with the heavier riffing. A few times there also is a nice solo to be heard, as for example in The Hammer And The Nails. Every track on Igne Natura Renovatur Integra contains some musical surprises. Some tracks have a more ritualistic vibe (for example Bliźni mój), a more atmospheric layer (for example Abstrakt) or are a bit more raging (for example Become A God-Man). Another great track is the a bit march-like The Agony Of Breath with some ambient sounds in the background, ending an almost hypnotic finish.

Another track I want to mention specifically is the title track, in the track list shortened to I.N.R.I.. Starting with some great guitar-tunes, which will return a few times, I.N.R.I. starts very nice. This track can, partly due to its guitar-sound, almost be described as epic. Epic, black metal style of course. When earth bursts open and will be engulfed by hell, I.N.R.I. by Misanthropic Rage would very nicely serve as a soundtrack to this event.

With Igne Natura Renovatur Integra, Misanthropic Rage delivered a very nice album which fits mostly into the black metal-genre. However to be honest, this is a recommended album for everyone who digs some variation in a metal-album, especially for those also really digging the more extreme sides of metal. Igne Natura Renovatur Integra is potential year list-material, recommended for sure!

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Misanthropic Rage Facebook

Friday, June 29, 2018

Review: Kingdom - Putrescent Remains Of The Dead Ground

In 2016 the Polish death metallers of Kingdom, LWN (vocals/guitar), STH (bass) and SLW (drums), released their third full length, called Sepulchral Psalms From The Abyss Of Torment. This album (of which our review can be read here) was the follow-up of Unholy Graveyard (2008) and Morbid Priest Of Supreme Blasphemy (2013). Since March the 12th, there is a successor of Sepulchral Psalms From The Abyss Of Torment. This fourth full-length album by Kingdom is titled Putrescent Remains Of The Dead Ground and is, just as its predecessor, released via the Polish label Godz Ov War Productions.

Opening track Walls Of Askalon starts pretty slow with a guitar and an incoming, ominous scream. A few moments later, drums are added and Kingdom bursts open. The tempo on Putrescent Remains Of The Dead Ground is mostly very fast, with sometimes a few less fast moments.

The drums by SLW are strongly present on this fourth Kingdom-album, volume-wise as well as in the song-structures. The sound of the drums is also very heavy and real, it sounds just like it will probably sound when played live. To hear what I mean listen for example to Putrescent Remains.

Of course, the guitar is also present, in the heavier, almost hypnotic guitarwalls as well as in the a bit calmer moments. As an example, both can be found in the third track, Grobowiec ludzkości. Vocalist/guitarist LWN also plays quite a few solo's on his guitar, as can be heard in, for example, the aforementioned track Walls Of Askalon.

The vocals by LWN are a very filthy mix of grunts and screams, which are very fitting to Kingdom's music. In the battle-scene-like-introduced Karma Slayer he vocally gets to the extreme, lowest grunts on this album, while on the next track, a cover of Immortal's Blashyrkh, he goes into full screaming-mode. This last track is of course more black metal-oriented than the rest of this album, due to its origin. This difference isn't annoying and for some people, including me, it may even be a very welcome variation. This of course being said without anything negative towards the rest of Putrescent Remains Of The Dead Ground.

Altogether, the Polish metallers of Kingdom delivered a very nice piece of heavy, dark, obscure music with Putrescent Remains Of The Dead Ground. A true recommendation to every fan of the more extreme forms of metal. My personal favorites are Putrescent Remains, the instrumental track Niemy krzyk zagłady and the nice cover of Immortal's Blashyrkh.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Kingdom Facebook

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: Charlotte In Cage - Times Of Anger

Charlotte In Cage is a all-female metal band from Salerno, Italy which was formed in the summer of 2015 by Marianna Forino and Susanna Angelino. With Marianna on guitar and Susanna on bass, the girls needed a drummer, which they quickly found in the person of Annalisa Barra. A flamenco dancer called Lady Mary was also added to the line-up, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, and that left the spot of vocalist open. Finding a suitable vocalist proved to be a challenge, because initial singer Stefania Scognamiglio left the band after only a few months and the collaboration between the band and her successor Antonella Della Monica was ended earlier this year due to nondisclosed differences. This however, didn’t stop the girls from releasing their maiden album later this week. It’s called Times of Anger, a title that can fit a lot of subjects nowadays, the most relevant being the girls’ personal quest to give a voice to the women who fight for their rights I assume. This of course immediately conjures the name ‘Pussy Riot’ up in my head, a similar band from Russia that pretty much had the same vision. It’s no surprise their music and the accessory riot grrrl movement have had a distinct influence on the music the girls from Charlotte In Cage play, but there’s more to this than just that. According to the ladies themselves, their music emphasizes on their different musical backgrounds, without any set limits or borders. True to this they have more or less abandoned the riot metal that is associated with the riot grrrl movement and replaced it with their own peculiar sound. Among the bands that are said to also have had influence on this self-proclaimed peculiar sound are Kittie, whose song Charlotte was the inspiration for the band’s name, Moonspell and Marilyn Manson. Considering this list and the fact the term peculiar in music is always interesting, I for one am definitely curious to hear what exactly they have cooked up. Only one way to find out…

Well, let’s cut to the chase, Charlotte In Cage actually managed to blend all these ingredients into a pretty nice recipe, in a little over 27 minutes they paint you a pretty accurate picture of what they are capable of. It quickly becomes clear the term metal has to be used a little loosely here, don’t expect raging guitars, relentless drum lines and screaming guitar solos. The riot giving the term riot metal its name is even less audible, but that by no means classifies this as weak or bad. The influence of both Kittie (the vocal style for example) and Pussy Riot is unmistakable, but their styles are definitely not copied. Kittie is more heavy, while Pussy Riot’s music is more punkish, jumpy. The girls have simply pulled the, in their eyes, best elements from the two and blended them into their music. If opener Liar is any indication of the overall quality of Times of Anger I’m up for a treat. It’s a solidly composed song with a nice flow, strong guitar and rhythm section work and clean vocals with an occasional grunt to top things off. Successor I Hate Myself is built around the same concept, though it has a much more poppy feel to it. Both songs vary in style and speed numerous times, without seriously disturbing the natural flow of the rhythm. Despite all these similarities in the basic song structure they both have different atmospheres. And that seems to be the girls’ blueprint, because I could easily type the same comment about all the songs on Times of Anger. Yours Faithfully has more aggression in it, while Dionisus has a more ominous watermark and 13 Years Old seems more ballad-like. Combined these songs pull you into a nice flow that makes this already short listening session seem even shorter. Not nice for the listener, but it in fact is a compliment of course. You wish there was more.

So concluding it’s safe to say that Charlotte In Cage mostly plays a very accessible type of metal, metal light if you will, that is marbled with subtle rock, gothic, pop and punk elements. Is it their own sound? Yes, to a certain extend it definitely is. Is it peculiar? Well, yes and no. It has some unexpected elements and overall it can be considered at least somewhat peculiar, but on the other hand it is not particularly groundbreaking. However, all this is inferior to the fact this simply is a great album to give more than a handful of spins. Great songs, great performance, in fact there’s only one small minus in my opinion, one that is fairly common among Italian bands, and that is the accent. Though overall certainly not very distinct, there’s a rare few moments the accent is such a striking presence it distracts from the music. A shame, because those few moments of distraction momentarily interrupt the otherwise, despite the serious lyrical themes, more than pleasant flow of the album. A minor nuisance to this otherwise great debut, and one you will get used to at that. Well worth your attention.

Written by Henric van Essen

Charlotte In Cage Facebook

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Interview: Labyrinth Entrance

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

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

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

How does it feel to have your debut album released?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labyrinth Entrance Facebook

Thursday, June 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Maiden United - Empire Of The Clouds

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Glenn van der Heijden

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

Maiden United Official Website
Maiden United Facebook
Maiden United Twitter

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Review: Siksided - Leave No Stone Unturned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Written by Alessandro

Siksided Facebook