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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review: Rotting Kingdom - Rotting Kingdom

Death/doom metallers Rotting Kingdom hail over from the US with their self-titled EP, released in February this year.

The first of three tracks, Adrift In A Sea Of Souls, is a great blend between death and doom metal. The track kicks off with a doom-like guitar intro, joined by deep growls after a while, which intensifies the dark, haunted and desolate atmosphere created. Midway throughout the song, genres are switched, and things speed up a bit, before the end of the song comes with a blend of death and doom metal. A glorious track that wets your appetite for what is yet to come. The Castle Of Decay is way more death-oriented than Adrift In A Sea Of Souls, while remaining a mid-tempo song and preserving the haunted atmosphere created I the first track. Things then end very early with the third and last song, entitled Demons In Stained Glass. This track is, for its first half, also rather on the death metal side, but influenced a bit more by the Scandinavian greats within the genre. Especially the brutal drums kicking in at 1:40 are a highlight of the song. The second half then turns again more towards doom metal, but with enough variation for it never to become boring, rounding off this exquisite EP.

In conclusion: Rotting Kindom’s self-titled EP is a joy to listen to, and with only 24 minutes of playing time ends way too soon. The guys are excellent musicians, and the production is perfect and to the point as well. Personally, I cannot wait to hear more from Rotting Kingdom, and highly recommend you to check them out in the meantime! 10/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Rotting Kingdom Facebook

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Interview: Mors Subita

In April the Finnish melodic death metallers Mors Subita will release their third full-length album called Into The Pitch Black. DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen spoke with them about the album and Finnish metal among other things.

Hey, congratulations with your upcoming album, Into The Pitch Black, which you are releasing in April. I really like it. Looking forward to releasing it?

That´s awesome to hear. We are very happy with the album and can´t wait to have it released.

What is it that makes Mors Subita unique in the melodic death metal genre?

Musically, our ability to infuse melody, groove and aggressive elements together.

When comparing Into The Pitch Black to its predecessor, Degeneration, what is it you hear?

A more mature band and as a whole just simply stronger album on every level. Musically the brutality and melody levels have gone up a notch or two.

Your music sounds very aggressive but also has a lot of melody in it, how do you find the perfect balance between those things?

It´s not really a subject that needs to be thought separately. It all comes together naturally along the writing process. This is the way I´ve always composed so if I only stay true to myself and keep writing music I want to listen then it works without any excess calculating.

It´s like any other field of art, you´re trying to move the listener and if that doesn´t happen for yourself while composing, then the idea belongs to the trash bin.

Between your previous albums Mors Subita had several lineup changes. Now your lineup remained the same as how it was when Degeneration was released. Was that noticeable in the writing/recording process of Into The Pitch Black. If yes, in what way was it different compared to the writing/recording process of Degeneration?

Sure. Preparing for the Degeneration session we had a new drummer and vocalist. The situation was challenging to say the least. We were excited and we felt the song material was strong. The session itself went really nicely but I think we lacked a bit of “that something” on many levels. We do think Degeneration is a strong album but it was a new lineup and one can hear we didn´t yet know all of our new found strengths.

On the 3rd time around, everybody knew this time what we were up against and prepared accordingly. We rehearsed a lot more than previous time before hitting the studio to really reach the performances the songs deserved. A big help this time was the fact that we found an amazing fellow named Stefan Pommerin/Illusia Productions to finalize the production. He mixed and mastered the album and also gave a lot to the post-production. I really felt that this was the 1st time we found somebody who understands how our music needs to sound and also how the different elements should fit together. He's a very talented guy and we're truly happy we found him.

You also use several industrial samples in the new album for the first time, what was the reason for doing it now?

I had the industrial sound brewing in my head already when I was writing Degeneration, but those few ideas didn´t fit our sound at that time. For this album they fit perfectly so we wanted to take that step in the evolution of our sound.

The following question can't be better answered by someone other than a Finnish metalhead self. What is it with metal living that much in Finland?

In addition to the cold and dark seasons in our northern latitudes, I think we have inherited some sort of introvertism in our blood where you only talk about your feelings in the sauna or when you drunk, usually combined. Also when sports or music is involved emotions are allowed to show. This is of course very caricatured version of reality but I do stand behind the idea that music is one of those outlets to which one can drain any sort of bad or good thing in life. So for me at least music works like although I don´t take myself as a very introvert person. And what better format than metal because of all the ways of expression; just name your genre, there´s something for everyone.

Within melodic death metal, do you think there are differences between the Swedish bands and the Finnish bands playing this style? If yes, what differences?

I think there is a difference, just not that noticeable. Finnish melodeath at least nowadays seems to be a bit more atmospheric and maybe melancholic. Same difference as in our folk music, only in smaller proportion.

You already announced an Finland-tour in April and some shows in Japan together with Turisas, Beast In Black and Frosttide, looking forward to the shows?

Yes, very much! Japan is just awesome for Finnish metal so couldn´t be more excited.

Your music contains a lot of energy, how do you prepare for that before a live show?

Eat well, sleep well, warm up, crack some jokes, have a shot of vodka - all good to go.

Any other touring plans, maybe also coming to The Netherlands?

We truly hope so. The Netherlands always has a dedicated place in my heart because I studied there for some time back in 2008. I have very warm memories of that time. It would be awesome to get to play there with Mors Subita, so we´re definitely working on it!

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

Support the bands you like and love!

Mors Subita Official Website
Mors Subita Facebook
Mors Subita Twitter

Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: Red Mourning - Under Punishment's Tree

France based Red Mourning has been around for some time now, 15 years to be exact. It was 2003 when pure luck brought together four metalheads who, as luck would have it, had the same vision on music. They decided to team up as a band of self-proclaimed badasses who wreaked havoc on the Paris underground scene, playing a mix of influences brought to the band by each individual member. As the years passed the autodidacts grew, letting their music evolve into a peculiar grab bag of styles including, in no particular order, hardcore, blues, punk, death metal and grunge. After releasing two demos early in their career they delivered their first full-length in 2008 and went on to release two more before unleashing their latest creation on to the world in 2018: Their fourth full-length called Under Punishment’s Tree. The name Red Mourning refers to the mourning color of the Delta slaves who introduced blues to the world. The band currently has four members, again in no particular order, Hoog for the vocals, Alex on guitar, Sebastien on bass and Aurelien on drums.

When you put such a wide variety of styles into one mix you’re bound to create a rare, unique sound making it hard to even theoretically describe. However when listening to Under Punishment’s Tree it becomes clear things aren’t as extreme and complicated as you’d expect in advance. Sure, all influences mentioned are to be found in Red Mourning’s music, but to say it is a hybrid mix is well exaggerated. Roughly there’s two types of songs on this album, the one being strongly metal-oriented the other distinctly blues-oriented. Sadly there’s only the occasional more or less subtle in-song meeting between the two. The structure of the metal-oriented songs consists of strong, tight riffs backed by a solid yet almost unnoted bass lines and guided by complicated, at times rhythm-defying drum lines, which, I might add, are executed to perfection. To transform this backbone into an actual song it’s augmented with oppressive, aggressive vocal lines and a couple of guitar solos. The blues songs on the other hand are characterized by a relatively uncomplicated song structure, a damp, heavy atmosphere and melodic, at times delicate vocals. The result is an interesting metal album with aggressive, strong, hardcore-influenced songs, which is mostly due to the aggressive, imposing vocal lines and the occasional blast beat, alternated with sweltering blues. In my opinion best exemplifying the rough side of Red Mourning is Grow My Feathers where Chained To The Stones is the best example of their more delicate blues side. However, the pinnacle of Under Punishment’s Tree, again in my opinion, is Dying Days where both style combine and clash at the same time.

There is no doubt 15 years of practice and self-teaching has made great musicians out of the guys from Red Mourning. They all know what to do with either their instrument or vocal chords, making Under Punishment’s Tree a great album to listen to, not in the last place due to the remarkable combination of styles. I personally would like to hear the styles intertwine in the songs a bit more, like in Dying Days, to make it more hybrid, more organic. At the moment the styles are separated too much in my opinion. Nevertheless this still is well worth the attention of every metal fan, especially those with a taste for hardcore-oriented metal. The blues fans will find something to their liking here as well, but in all honesty, the blues part is significantly smaller. Time well spent.

Written by Henric van Essen

Red Mourning Facebook

Friday, February 23, 2018

Live review: Veghel Blackfest in Willemeen, Arnhem, The Netherlands, February 17th, 2018

Early January I posted a preview of Veghel Blackfest (here), an all-black-metal festival organized by Doc Holliday Metal Productions taking place in Willemeen, Arnhem. Now, the day finally was there which resulted in a pretty big group of black metal fans waiting outside Willemeen around 2 o'clock. Today, ten bands will enter the stage, so this day promises to be a packed day with a lot of musical violence.

A few moments after the doors have been opened the stage is already shrouded in smoke. The first band of the day can unleash its first sounds any moment now. This first band will be Noctambulist, the only band I haven't heard any music from when I wrote the preview. This was due to the fact that they just started recently and didn't release any music at that moment. The only thing I knew at that moment was that they call the music they play atmospheric post-black metal. Now that I heard their music, it sure as hell is atmospheric, sometimes it can even be called a bit mysterious. Another thing which immediately stands out is that the quality of the sound is good from the first moment on. Often this isn't that good, especially not from the first moment of the first band playing, so this is very promising for the rest of this day. Noctambulist is playing a very great set and it surely made me curious to their upcoming studio material. If Noctambulist's show is representative for all shows today, it's another very promising thing for the remainder of this day.

The band playing after Noctambulist is Ceremony. Based on the tracks of Ceremony I listened before I did get the idea that this wasn't a band playing music that I like that much. However, it might still be that way with studio material, when they play live I definitely like it. This band truly surprised me today. Ceremony plays their set in a brutal, very heavy way. If there were still people inside that weren't completely awake, due to the fact that it's still early afternoon on a Saturday, Ceremony must have gotten them completely awake. Vocal-wise, singer Micha Verboom uses grunts as well as screams, which he finds great balance in. The sound of his screams sometimes reminded me of the screams of Inquisition's Dagon.

Today's third band is Dystopia with their black metal which is mixed with psychedelic doom influences. If you entered the venue a bit after this band started playing, you were possibly wondering whether there is a band on the stage or not, because they were practically invisible. In case you are wondering how that is possible, it was because of the extremely dense fog around the stage. The smoke-machine was doing his job at maximum speed. Dystopia's set was very intense and hypnotic. This surely is music that will bring you in a trance-situation. Their combination of black metal with the trumpet and trombone added as extra instruments definitely sounds promising. On their studio material it already sounded awesome and it surely works in a very great way when played live.

After Dystopia's set it is time for Yaotzin. Yaotzin plays their black metal in an extremely fast and heavy way. Their show is pretty static, which makes it a bit boring to watch their show in my opinion. The only band member who was sometimes a bit less static was bassist Jesse Peetoom. However, a lot of people really seemed to like it, but it's not really my kind of band. Despite their show being very static, it still was a very evil and crushing performance.

The next band playing is one of the two Greek bands that will enter the stage today. Of course Rotting Christ is an absolute topper in the genre and therefore they are headliner, so we have to wait for them. Now it is the time for fellow Greek band Arkhangelsk. These guys play a very strong set that is, just as Dystopia's set, extremely intense and almost hypnotic. Musically Arkhangelsk delivers melodic, atmospheric, but heavy black metal, which they do in a very energetic way.

Next band is the band I personally was looking forward to the most, Thyrgrim. Why is it that I dig Thyrgrim that much? That is because it sounds extremely powerful. I myself am not very muscular or robust, but when I listen to Thyrgrim's music I feel a bit like I have the posture of vocalist Kain. That is the power Thyrgrim contains. Their show is extremely heavy and intense and is brought with an enormous dose of energy. The energy coming from the stage is also passing onto the audience, resulting in today's first moshpit taking place during their set. They played a great show, with Dette er tysk svart metal as an absolute highlight. The only thing that could be better was the mixing quality of the vocals. Due to this, there were some moments at which you could not hear the vocals very well. However, this was nothing because of their immense set.

The next three bands are the bands being on tour with each other: Svart Crown, Carach Angren and Rotting Christ. First one of those bands entering the stage is the French band Svart Crown with their, also, very energetic show. In the meantime, the venue is already quite packed and the audience is getting pretty crazy during Svart Crown's show. Their songwriting which is a little bit chaotic might be something to get used to a little bit, but once used to it this is what makes it interesting and far from boring.

After Svart Crown the guys of Carach Angren are going on stage. They produce a pretty unique sound with their characteristic horror metal and perform this in a fantastic, theatrical way at a live show. Unfortunately, the sound quality of the mixing is kind of bad during their first songs, but luckily this is solved pretty fast. Carach Angren delivers a very nice, tight set. Of course tracks from their latest album, the last year released Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten, are in their setlist, but some Carach Angren-classics are also definitely in there. A few examples being Bitte Totet Mich and Bloodstains On The Captain's Log.

After the horror metal of Carach Angren it's time for Rotting Christ to climb the stage. These Greeks leaded by frontman Sakis Tolis create metal with ancient Greek influences and are, as I already mentioned, an absolute topper in the genre. Their show is phenomenal and sometimes even feels very ritualistic in some way. It doesn't matter how perfect, tight and extremely energetic you want a show to be, Rotting Christ for sure does it all at max. With this show they are clearly showing why they are the absolute topper in the scene. This is almost unbelievable, what a show!

Today's last band playing is Misanthropia. They originally were meant to play before Svart Crown, Carach Angren and Rotting Christ, but they changed this because it was better for the overall schedule of the day. They now played after Rotting Christ. At the moment everyone thought they would enter the stage, there were a lot of doubts among the part of the audience that were still there, the organizators and Misanthropia themselves, whether they would be allowed to play or not. Finally, it appeared that Misanthropia was allowed to play, so the part of the audience still being present gets a very nice closing gig as dessert. Unfortunately, a big part of the audience already left after Rotting Christ's set. However, Misanthropia delivers a very great show for the real die-hards that are still present. My compliments to these guys for this very nice show, especially after the last-minute changes and many doubts. Due to the fact that Misanthropia has a new keyboard-player since a short time, David Gutierrez Rojas, and because I couldn't see him that well during Misanthropia's set at Lucky Metalfest (live review here), I now watched him a bit more. Unfortunately, there were some moments at which you could not hear his keyboards at all, but this was more something mixing-related. However, David for sure showed what he is able to do and has a very good stage presence.

All in all, this first edition of Veghel Blackfest was very successful and today was a very nice day.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Also be sure to read our reviews of Rotting Christ's Rituals (here) and Lucifer Over Athens (here), as well as our review of Thyrgrim's Dekaden (here). We also mentioned Thyrgrim in Part 10 of Promoting Bands (here). Last but not least, you can read our interview with Carach Angren's Clemens 'Ardek' Weijers here.

Noctambulist Facebook
Ceremony Facebook
Dystopia Official Website
Dystopia Facebook
Yaotzin Official Website
Yaotzin Facebook
Arkhangelsk Facebook
Thyrgrim Facebook
Svart Crown Facebook
Svart Crown Twitter
Carach Angren Official Website
Carach Angren Facebook
Carach Angren Twitter
Rotting Christ Official Website
Rotting Christ Facebook
Misanthropia Official Website
Misanthropia Facebook

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Live review: RAM, Portrait and Trial in Merleyn, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, February 13th, 2018

On the evening of Tuesday February 13th, the big square in Nijmegen is a busy place to be. On that square is a giant tent packed with dressed up people celebrating carnival. However, for people with a better taste in music, those who don't like carnival, or both, a little bit further is another party. There, in the nice venue of Merleyn, a nice collection of leather, denim jackets and heavy metal can be found. Three Swedish heavy metal band will enter the stage tonight. Their names: RAM, Portrait and Trial.

The opening band of tonight is Trial. When the first notes of Trial are heard there aren't many people inside the venue yet. Instrumentally this band is playing a very solid, tight show. Unfortunately, this couldn't be heard all the time because of the bad sound mixing. In particular guitarist Alexander Ellström shows a big dose of passion and shows some great solos on his guitar. The drums of drummer Martin Svensson sound very heavy and he even lets us hear some thrash metal drums at some points in the show. Vocalist Linus Johansson is a different story. Appearance-wise he looks a bit like a mix of Jim Morrison, David Coverdale and Steven Tyler. However, his vocal qualities aren't comparable with these three great vocalists. As I already mentioned the sound quality was pretty bad, which could also be heard for a big part of the vocals. Most times, Linus' vocals could hardly be heard in the audience. When his vocals could be heard, it unfortunately wasn't of very good quality.

The second band of tonight is Portrait. This band plays a bit faster. Apart from some interfering sounds at the beginning of Portrait's set, the sound quality is much better compared to Trial's set. The vocals of Per Lengstedt can be heard much better and his vocals are of a much better quality compared to those of Trial's Linus Johansson. The combination of all band members seems to be a good one and because of that relying on each other is no problem for these guys. For example, when vocalist Per Lengstedt accidentally stands on the cable of Rasmus Grahn's guitar, this results in Rasmus playing his guitar in a somewhat clumsy pose. However, this doesn't affect his playing. All in all, Portrait delivers a very solid, tight set.

After Trial and Portrait it is time for the headliner of tonight to enter the stage. Tonight, the headliner are the guys from RAM. They even play a little bit extra faster than Portrait did and play heavy metal as it used to be. Their fast, heavy and tight set contains a lot of energy. The big dose of energy coming from the stage also passes onto the audience. The audience got a bit looser and a lot of heads can be seen headbanging to RAM's music. RAM delivers a very powerful set and literally rams their music onto the audience. This is a crushing show in which RAM shows us why they are tonight's headliner. This clearly is the best, greatest and most impressive show of tonight.

Around half past ten the last sounds of RAM's set can be heard, which means tonight's shows are over. The necessary dose of heavy metal has been taken, with RAM's show as a clear highlight.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

RAM Official Website
RAM Facebook
Portrait Official Website
Portrait Facebook
Trial Facebook

Friday, February 16, 2018

Interview: Deathwhite

After the two EP's Ethereal (2014) and Solitary Martyr (2015) the dark metallers of Deathwhite soon release their first full-length album called For A Black Tomorrow. It will be released on February 23th via Season Of Mist. DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen spoke with Deathwhite about the album, their first live shows among other things.

How would you describe Deathwhite's sound to someone who hasn't heard it before?

That’s always a tough question since people hear music in different ways. To best encapsulate our sound, we have put Deathwhite in the “dark metal” bucket, which, if you think about it, is a pretty large one. Since we’re now at the point of having to give everything in metal (and music) a tag or descriptor, we felt this was the easiest, most convenient way to do so. Beyond that, we employ exclusively clean vocals, of which are often the focus of our songs. Behind them are largely melodic, minor-chord riffs and busy, but not complex drumming. Our concoction is by no means a new or revolutionary one, but we try to present something different and fresh to those interested in listening to us.

When you announced the release date for this album for the first time, it was February 24th 2017. Now, apart from one day a year later, on February 23th 2018 it will finally be released. One of the reasons for this was your signing to Season Of Mist records. What makes Season Of Mist the perfect record label for Deathwhite at this moment?

We’re long-time fans of Season of Mist, going back to the late ’90s and early ’00s when the label was starting to get its bearings. Today, it’s one of the go-to labels for underground metal. We actively sought them out due to their work with a myriad of bands, from Drudkh to Deathspell Omega, from Rotting Christ to Sylvaine, all the way to Abbath and Cynic. You’d be hard-pressed to find a label with such variety and top-notch bands, plus, we knew they would understand our approach. Luckily, they took an interest in us and we signed literally a week before For a Black Tomorrow was to be released independently. We subsequently had to pull the album and refund those who were kind enough to pre-order the album, but, it was worth it in the end. They’ve been an absolute pleasure to work with.

Since you already finished this album for a while back, did the feeling you have about the album change compared to when you just finished it? If yes, in what way?

Yes, somewhat, only because we’ve now had the necessary amount of reflection that is often required upon finishing an album. Only recently have we started to rehearse as a full band in preparation for our first live shows, so, this means none of us have actively played the songs off For a Black Tomorrow for roughly a year. In that respect, it means we haven’t had the time to get tired of the songs, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t listened to the album since it was completed — we have. Ultimately, we feel very confident in For a Black Tomorrow, not to mention, we are pleased with the results.

When you compare For A Black Tomorrow to your earlier released EP's, Ethereal (2014) and Solitary Martyr (2015), what is it you notice?

Ethereal was recorded with a different lineup and can be considered the entry point to our sound of today. We weren’t a fully-developed entity at that point in time, although we do stand behind the songs. It’s your typical first release – rough around the edges with a few promising moments thrown in for good measure. It was a band finding its feet, so to speak. We subsequently changed members right before entering the studio for Solitary Martyr, a risky endeavor in itself, but its dividends were remarkable. With the new members, the songs on Solitary Martyr took on a life of their own and the songs became more realized. The fact it turned out so well still surprises us since we barely rehearsed leading up to recording the EP and did several things “on the fly.” Solitary Martyr set the table of For a Black Tomorrow, which features a lot of the same elements, but a greater variety and maturity.

You got two guest musicians on For A Black Tomorrow, Joe Bonaddio and Shane Mayer (who is also the producer of For A Black Tomorrow). How did you met them?

We have known Joe for a considerable amount of time. He has been a great friend and supreme confidant for many years, not to mention one of the most talented guitar players we’ve had the pleasure of coming into contact with. He can literally play anything you give him, so when it became apparent we needed a solo on Death and the Master, Joe was the right man for the job. Coincidentally, it was Joe who introduced Shane to us. Shane is a rising star in our region and also happens to play guitar. We had a part missing on the album’s title track, so he offered to chip in a quick solo.

As mentioned above Shane Mayer also produced your new album, what made him the best for this job?

We were set to record with the same gentleman who produced Solitary Martyr, but for reasons not worth discussing, that fell through. We quickly got in touch with Shane, who was able to fit us in at a moment’s notice. It was a bit of a sticky situation, frankly, as we had planned the recording of For a Black Tomorrow well in advance, only to have things change on us at the last minute. Shane has proven rather capable at capturing all styles in metal, including death metal, hardcore and classic metal, so it made perfect sense to work with him. His patience, reliability and flexibility were greatly appreciated by the members of Deathwhite, not to forget his low-key personality and sense of humor. It made for a rather pleasant recording experience.

The artwork of For A Black Tomorrow is made by Jérôme "Pyrogas" Comentale. What is the story behind the cover and why was Jérôme "Pyrogas" Comentale the best match for this?

We worked with Jérôme on the Solitary Martyr cover and much like the recording of that EP, it was a situation where the final result exceeded our expectations. Jérôme is based in France, so we’ve yet to meet him in person, but we saw his work on a variety of art forums and came away impressed. Since the cover for Solitary Martyr turned out so well, we asked Jérôme to handle For a Black Tomorrow’s. He was given a blank slate, although we did provide some lyrics and song titles to guide him along. The cover, at least to us, is meant to represent a decaying and dying world, one that has been ravaged by humanity’s never-ending stupidity and carelessness. For all the great strides humanity has made, it seems like it’s always taking multiple steps back, therefore, “tomorrow,” to us, appears to be bleak. The cover depicts the last remnants of a dying and decaying world, a lone figure and tree at the top of a hill. It’s meant to display all that once was and what we have to look forward to if we continue on this rather baffling and disconcerting path.

What is the reason that you don't say who you are?

Deathwhite started as a basic studio project that was never intended to be serious. It was determined pretty early on that we would take a different approach and not reveal who we are primarily because we wanted the music to be the focus, not the bands we were previously associated with. Since we never intended to play live, we saw it as a unique angle to the band, but we are quite aware of the number of bands who have taken the same route. Nevertheless, we’d like to be judged on our music and nothing else, which is somewhat of a difficult thing in this day and age, but is something we hope to maintain. The music, above all else, is what is important. Nothing else.

In the past you didn't play live shows, you recently announced that you are working on your first ones. Does this mean we get to know who are the people behind Deathwhite or are you going to find a way to fix this?

We will play — in some form or another — with our identities concealed. It would be unnatural for us to play as a bunch of “regular guys,” but like all things in life, that is subject to change. For the immediate future, we have been working on the appropriate stage attire to maintain our anonymous image. A sneak preview, if you will, can be found on the video for Dreaming the Inverse, although we have been discussing ways to either change or enhance that particular image. Our onstage appearance could very well change from show-to-show.

What can people expect at a Deathwhite live show?

We are of the belief that we may sound heavier live than on record, which isn’t out of the ordinary. We will learn more about the band (and songs) during rehearsals. Since we have, for the first time, a complete lineup (we added a second guitar player and bass player for live purposes), we can now fully embellish, if not flesh-out the songs to their fullest potential. Aside from that, we have been discussing the idea of adding a visual element to the proceedings, whether via lights or projection. We hope to be playing live by the summer.

Also coming to The Netherlands?

It is one of our goals to venture over to Europe. It may take a few years, but it is certainly something we would like to do. It may take some time and some hard work on our part, but we are up for the challenge.

Since For A Black Tomorrow is already finished for a while, do you already have plans for any new material? If yes, can you already tell us something about it?

As of this writing, we have nine new songs already complete, such is the benefit of being primarily a studio band. Writing for our proposed second full-length began in early 2017 and carried on through that year, for, as For a Black Tomorrow was recorded in late 2016. The new songs — if we can view them objectively — are heavier with a more prominent doom influence, but with an ample amount of melody and vocal hooks. The idea is to take everything we felt we did properly on For a Black Tomorrow and simply magnify it, while adding new elements. We have yet to develop a timeframe for a return to the studio, but we hope it will be later this year or early next.

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

Sincere thanks for the interview and interest in Deathwhite. It means the world to us.

Deathwhite Official Website
Deathwhite Facebook

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review: Ryder - For What It's Worth

For what it’s worth, this is priceless. Already a fan from their live show at The Rockpile Club in Toronto, ON, Canada (check our live review here) this is a brilliant piece with some of the old school sound we desperately need in the rock and metal world.

Recorded in Queens, in a smaller venue, you can get up close and personal and when they become more famous you will always be able to show people THAT selfie right at front stage. (Don’t make it a habit though, watch the show willya!).

Being a very picky live revue listener, this one ranks with some of my favourites in terms of production, recording and audience interaction. Well blended, raw, great spots of guitar feedback (can’t get enough of that, can you?) and very ‘live sounding’, this bit is great!

Do or Die was an instant hit with steady audience chants and a solid metal anthem if I ever heard one. Slave to Love and When it All Comes Down are awesome and LOA Club is probably my favourite, with a bluesy, plodding tempo reminiscent of Motörhead’s Lost Woman Blues or Whorehouse Blues excellently-enough!

SO LMAO at the audience banter at 03:43: “Is this fucking Guns n’ Roses after party?” Some great screams too but would have been made more effective if the audience was miked a bit more. Maybe there weren’t that many people either still, a great interaction.

These lads keep on rockin’ and are shooting for the stars, especially now being on the bill for Rocklahoma 2018! Well done, well deserved!


Written by Alessandro

Ryder Facebook

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Review: Folkodia - Battle Of The Milvian Bridge

If ever the term ‘multinational’ could be applied on a band, it would be on Folkodia. The list of past and present members is impressive. Formed in 2007 by the late Ruslanas Danisevskis, Folkodia has seen contributions to their work by musicians from more than 10 different countries, including Canada, France, Lithuania and Monaco, making it a full-sized international project. Consistently releasing an album more or less every year, the list of releases is equally impressive, with a grand total of 6 full-lengths between 2008 and 2013. In 2013, right around the release of The Fall Of The Magog, Ruslanas sadly lost his battle against cancer and passed away, causing the band to take a break to reconsider the future of the band. Honoring Ruslanas wishes they decided to keep on going, with the intention to come back stronger and more heavy than ever. The result is called Battle Of The Milvian Bridge, which has been released back in November.

As the titles of the albums suggest, Folkodia plays viking/folk metal, quite an overcrowded genre which makes it hard to distinguish yourself and avoid being too predictable. Well, as far as predictable goes, Folkodia initially ticks all the expected boxes. Be it the myth-related lyrics, the alternately harsh and clean vocals, the female vocals and the traditional instruments, every single feature related to folk and/or viking metal is to be found on Battle Of The Milvian Bridge. Furthermore multinational seems to be a recurring theme here. Where the members come from all over the world, the lyrics take us throughout Europe, from the battle of the Milvian bridge in Italy, via Greece through France with Joan of Arc to Masada, Israel.

Opener Battle Of The Milvian Bridge sets the tone, also ticking the expected folk and viking metal boxes, leaving no doubt as to where this is heading genre-wise: Rough-around-the-edges, folk-oriented viking metal. And that is exactly what you get, reasonably varied, up-tempo, energetic metal songs with room for various bells and whistles. Sounds like we have a great release on our hands then, right, especially since this is release number 7?


You guessed it, there is a huge ‘but’ coming here. In essence the idea behind the music of Battle Of The Milvian Bridge is good. The basic composition of most of the songs really offers enough perspective and potential to make it a great album, however there are so many flaws in the execution and production that it’s very hard to keep that in mind when you battle your way through it. A shame really, because I am convinced that these guys and girls are capable of delivering great music. The ideas are truly interesting, but the rest needs work. A lot of work.

Let’s start with the most striking flaw: the vocals. There’s an abundance of vocalists contributing to Battle…, but none of them scores above average, some of them even well below. Tone, clarity and, most of all, pronunciation are at times painfully off. I can live with an accent, in fact, in folk metal it can have its functionality in my opinion, but there are definite limits to that as far as I’m concerned. Limits that are more than once exceeded here. And if that isn’t enough the double or triple vocals are not augmenting at all, mainly due to their just-off tone and timbre. They simply don’t seem to fit next to each other. The fact the vocal lines regularly are out of sync in the production doesn’t help either. Try listening to Masada Burns or Red Rubicon for example. And speaking of out of sync in the production, that too seems to be a recurring theme. Not only the vocals have that problem at times, the same can be said from, among others, the violin (in Falcons Over Svevia) and the flute (in Hussar Angels). To top things off the drum lines appear to be designed to nail a coffin shut and, in case that doesn’t make the coffin airtight yet, are too loud in the mix, drowning the compositions at times.

All in all I was left pretty disappointed after hearing this. When the final tones died out after the initial spin I really had no intention to try it some more, but since I cannot and will not review an album after only one spin I more or less forced myself. In hindsight I’m glad I did, and Folkodia might be as well, because that gave me the opportunity to see through the obvious, incomprehensible and, in all honesty, sometimes unacceptable flaws and see the hidden beauty. And beauty there definitely is, it just doesn’t show enough. Not even close. The musicians are, as far as I can determine, more than capable. The composition and rhythm of the songs is without a doubt good, even though you might not hear it right away. The addition of violin, flute, accordion and whatnot certainly increases the overall quality and the intended variety of vocal types does the exact same thing. If they are willing and able to work on the earlier mentioned shortcomings in both execution and production I believe Folkodia might grow into a viking/folk metal force to be reckoned with. If not, well, then I don’t see them play a significant role in the folk/viking metal scene. And for now I would consider that a loss. I will definitely keep an eye out for them to see if and how they progress or, maybe more accurate, work on their flaws.

Written by Henric van Essen

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Interview: Vinegar Hill

In December Austrian melodic death metallers Vinegar Hill released their new album called Ghost Flowers. DutchMetalManiac's Henric van Essen reviewed it here. Now you read his interview with Vinegar Hill's drummer Tom below.

Servus, wie geht es dir?

Servus!! Danke, sehr gut! Und selbst?

Mein Deutsch ist leider begrenzt, deshalb mache ich jetzt weiter auf Englisch. Whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with?

Ist doch gar nicht so schlecht, da gibt es wahrscheinlich Österreicher die schlechter Hochdeutsch können! ;) Just kidding...alright, I´m Tom, the drummer of Vinegar Hill!

I can only assume Vinegar Hill refers to the hill where the famous battle in Ireland against the British took place. Does that place hold a special significance for you and can you tell us a little about Vinegar Hill and its history?

Yeah, that´s correct. But there´s no special connection to that place. Back to the first days in 2007, as we founded this band, we where searching for a bandname, as every band does someday. Mike brought “Vinegar Hill” because he was reading a book about this famous battle and we all liked it from the first moment on! It´s kind of a unusual bandname, especially for a metalband, and you don´t know what to expect. Many people asking us about it and are interested where it came from, so I think we did a good job with electing this one!

I heard a female voice on Ghost Flowers, yet your line-up consists of only men. Who is the mystery lady and can we expect more of her work in the future?

It´s not that big mystery, we promoted it before the release of the album! The beautiful female guest voice is our good friend Margie Gerlitz from the german metalcore-legends Deadlock. We´re really proud of this cooperation and really thankful for her input and help on this record. She also did the female voices of the choir on Void, by the way!

I’d like to congratulate you with Ghost Flowers. I liked it so much it made it into my top 10 of best releases of 2017 (here). Can you tell us about the creative processes around this release?

Thank you very much, we really appreciate that! The songwriting to Ghost Flowers began in late summer 2016 I guess. Mike is the musical mastermind of the band, he writes the most of the songs or, in the first step, song-constructs. And we finalize them together, doing the arrangements, everbody brings some input and ideas. That´s how we work, we got a pretty cool homestudio at Mikes Place and this is the place where all happens. We´re doing the whole recording process in this studio. From preproduction to mastering. This is such a comfortable way to work and we take the time we need for every single step to get the best out of it! I think it worked pretty good on the last record, we are really happy with the result!

One of the most striking features is the huge amount of different influences that have been woven into your music. What, if any, is the reason for that?

We all have different roots as musicians and have different preferences in music, and we are pretty open-minded to all kinds of music, not only metal and rock. We were never afraid of trying different styles or mixing different parts together and experiment with song structures. I think we found a good mixture for the songs on Ghost Flowers!

What is your vision on the music you make and what is your inspiration?

For me it´s very important that there is a message behind the songs and our music. Meanwhile we reach many people with our music and we need to use this opportunity to tell the people what´s our point of view on the things that happen or, more importantly, on the things that went wrong in our society. So this is also the reasons why we became a official Sea Shepherd Supporter Band and we are really proud to be part of this great and important association and to support the great work they do every single day!! For the oceans!

What song best represents that vision?

I think, every song is a small part of this vision.

I found it hard to choose a favorite song, which is not a bad thing of course. If you had to choose one single song from Ghost Flowers to perform live, which one would that be?

It´s pretty hard to choose just one single song, there are so many songs that are fun to play live. But I think, if I really had to choose just one, it would be The Shift Of Reasons. Great song on the album and also a killer live song!

Speaking of performing live, do you have any touring plans? And if so, where can we expect to see you play?

Of course, we´ll perform at Metal over Malta in March and are going on tour with Dark Tranquillity and Equilibrium from April 1st to April 7th with shows in Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Germany. Find details on our homepage!

Danke für ihre Zeit und alles Gute für die Zukunft. Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Vielen Dank für das Interview, hat Spaß gemacht!
Support your local scene – no YouTube-video or Spotify-playlist can give you that feeling a live show does! Talk to the musicians, have a beer together, support them with buying a CD or a shirt or something like´s so important for young bands to receive this support. Even the big ones started in a small club or something like that. And let´s be honest, a beer at the club is way better than the canned beer on your couch, isn´t it?!

Vinegar Hill Official Website
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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Interview: Violent Divine

The Swedish metal band Violent Divine released four albums since their formation in 2005. On November 10th, 2017 they released their fifth album, called Louder Than Love. Recently, DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen interviewed vocalist Mike of Violent Divine.

Hey, congratulations with your new album Louder Than Love. It's very nice!

Thank you! We are obviously happy about it, so glad you like it.

When you compare this album to its predecessor, Hyperactivity Disorder from 2016, what is it you notice?

On Hyperactivity Disorder and the other earlier albums it's was more like we were doing every song at maximum speed, top volume and push in as much energy as possible. With Louder Than Love we had a different approach. We made it a bit more dynamic, try to change the sound to be a bit warmer. Maybe we are flirting with the way rock 'n' roll/metal albums sounded like thirty years ago before we had this ridiculous loudness competition. We try to take a step back and go back to the roots, hardrock. We'll also experimented with the writing process. We didn't write a lot of songs before we went to the studio, we made most of the songs as we recorded them. Which is a bit risky of course, because you don't know how it will turn out. Eventually we ended up with 17 or 18 songs and we settled for 13 songs. I think it went quite good actually.

So, you got a lot of inspiration in the studio?

I am not sure it was like an epiphany to have so much inspiration. It's a tight space, you spend a lot of time there, get on each other's nerves. So it was more like a craftsmanship, we tried to make the best of our competences in rock music. It was more like that approach than waiting for divine inspiration or something. It's more like a production approach. Most people often think about musicians, songwriters and bands that we are super-creative beings who get inspiration from nothing. In real life, inspiration comes when you rehearse a lot, play a lot and you practice with your instruments, then you come up with ideas. It's more a hard working process than something that falls on you from out of nowhere.

You released this album in November last year, within a year after Hyperactivity Disorder. Why were they released in a pretty short time?

I don't think it's really that fast. I was checking out The Beatles and Kiss on Spotify the other day and those guys released two albums a year. In my opinion you should produce new music all the time and release at least one album every year. On the other hand you had five years between Hyperactivity Disorder and the album before it, Release The Hounds. We also had a lineup change at that time which took a lot of time. I think the process of releasing albums should be like a bit quicker like back in the days.

For nowadays it's quite fast, right?

Yeah, it is. In some way bands like Kiss, who did extensive touring in the '70s. They still had time to record another 10-song album while constantly touring. I don't know how they did that, but I like the idea that you should release albums frequently. However I know that the business doesn't work that way nowadays.

How are the reactions on Louder Than Love you get on it so far?

Well, from the fans and the audience it's been great. We had some great reviews. We also had some very strange reviews. One guy didn't review the album or the songs but only said that we were one of those bands that aren't good enough to get a record deal, just because we released everything ourselves. That was weird. Another reviewer I think was expecting us to sound like we did on the previous album, but what is the point of that? If you are just going to produce your previous albums again with different titles, it wouldn't make sense to me. You have to try something new in songwriting and ideas. In general the reception has been great.

What is your favorite track on it? Why?

Luckily I have some distance to songs, because it was a long process. In the end I sort of hated them all but today I have to admit that I like when a pop musician does something with metal riffs and big drums, so songs like I Believe or In Your Bedroom are obviously my cup of tea. I also like the harder songs like opener Crawl, when I scream from the top of my lungs, that's therapy. It's sort of growing back to me again, because I had some time off after the recordings.

On your Facebook page you state that your music is influenced by music from the '70s, '80s as well from nowadays. How do you find the perfect balance in this?

Well, it's basically because I am 53 years old and I grew up listening to chewing gum pop like The Sweet and Slade, then turned to Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Black Sabbath. So, there are lots of influences, but I also like new modern metal music like Hellyeah or Five Finger Death Punch and bands like that. It's a mix and I think it makes an interesting combination. You can think in the old ways of making music where you put your melodies and harmonies first while you can also allow yourself to be influenced by modern metal music, which is more about aggressive attitude or metallic riffs like Rammstein and stuff like that. It's a combination and I also like to add some punk rock attitude, because I was a big fan of The Sex Pistols and The Ramones back in the days. Some people even claim that I sometimes sound like Johnny Rotten from The Sex Pistols. I don't know about that, but he's a great singer. At least he got an attitude.

It's a compliment, right?

Yeah, I think so. A good frontman or a lead singer in a band is so much more than being able to sing perfectly in key. It's also some sort of communication and you have to have attitude. I like lots of great singers like Steve Perry and John Henry, these guys are perfect. I also like Johnny Rotten and Phil Lewis from L.A. Guns because they communicate in emotion but they are not a perfect picture all the time. It doesn't have to be.

Some kind of raw edge?

Yeah, exactly. I mean I saw my '80s heroes Ratt last summer and Stephen Pearcy is definitely one of my favorite singers of all time. He never delivers any vocal stuff live that is really acceptable, but he has got an attitude about it and he is communicating. In some ways that is so much more worth to me as a singer.

In your music I hear some rock'n'roll, some metal influences but sometimes it also has its more catchy parts, in a good way. How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it yet?

This is the eternal question of how to define your music in genres. Well if you like melodic rock music I think you would love Violent Divine. If you like guitar riff-based metal music, you would also love Violent Divine. I think we are on some kind of mission. We want the ordinary top 40 fan to go away from the general top 40 music and start listening metal and rock music. That is what we offer, we are a getaway to a much better taste in music in some way.

Your fanbase must have many different kinds of people then?

Yes, they are. We have some fans we communicate with on Twitter and Facebook from different parts of the world obviously. It could be people in their sixties or it could be teenagers, there is a really large span of music fans. I think it is because of Violent Divine's music is accessible for everyone, but yet I still haven't heard anyone say the word sellout. Most of the times there are elements in our music that most people can accept, like and appreciate.

Can we expect a Violent Divine tour in 2018?

Unfortunately not, actually because of my health issues. We have to stay indoors for a while, but that doesn't mean we are not working. We are already writing songs for the next album, so we just have to sit still for a bit and wait for the storm to pass.

Do you want to say something about your health issues or not?

It's a Japanese disease called Hashimoto's. That's Japanese for your body isn't working like you think it should be. You get tired, you have to sleep many hours, stuff like that. It's a bit tricky. The thing is it takes a lot of time to adjust your medication, because it's a strange disease. But eventually we'll get there.

Hope you get well soon!

Yeah, I hope so. I'd love to go on tour and do lots of shows, but unfortunately this is not the time.

You already mentioned that you are writing new material. Can you already tell us something about it or not?

Well, there is a plan actually. We talked about old school hard rock and metal music and we would like to expand the concept of mixing classic rock music with modern metal music. If you get the idea of what would Thin Lizzy sound like if they released something today, what would that be like? Stuff like that is what we are experimenting with right now. I think it's exciting. I don't know if that will be the case when we actually start recording the album, but it is an idea we are working on right now. It's exciting, because you have to sort of motivate yourself to start new ideas. Next album will be number six and like I already said there is no point in repeating actually what you did on the last album. Onwards and upwards.

Any other future plans you can already tell us something about?

I think all things said will pretty much sum it up for now. It will be a new album hopefully in 2019. That's the goal we are working towards.

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

Stop listening to top 40 music and get on with listening to metal. It will get you through your working week, so stick with it.

Violent Divine Official Website
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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Interview: Damn Pigeon

In November 2017, DutchMetalManiac's Alessandro saw Damn Pigeon perform alongside A Rebel Few of which he wrote this live review. He also reviewed Damn Pigeon's Whisky Sinners album here. Now you can read his interview with Damn Pigeon below.

Guys, I’m very honoured to be granted this interview! I want to say again, I love your album and your live show with A Rebel Few (read our live review here) rocked the house down! Hailing from the city of St. Thomas, ON Canada, I am glad to have met you all : Joe Edmiston - guitars and vocals, production, recording and engineering, Doug Weir - guitars and lead vocals, Steve Proctor – guitars, Jason Latimer – drums , Steve Proud (Proudy) - bass guitar. You epitomize the image of the friendly Canadian and honoured us with your visits, swag and good gentle humour.

Thank you - we’re honoured.

How and where’d you meet? Can you tell us about your lineup a little?

Three of us (Edmiston, Proud and Proctor) have known each other since high school. We worked in various local bands until Damn Pigeon was formed in 1991. We had a three-year run, playing covers and ten or so original songs. The band was mothballed for 13 years until we got back together in 2009, ostensibly to make an album of the songs from the nineties. During pre-production work, our dear friend - original singer Steve Phillips - was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We raced to finish the record and Steve passed away a couple of days after its release. While Steve was still with us, we all decided on the need to keep the band going. Steve actually mentioned Doug Weir as a possible replacement, so after we took some time off to grieve and re-group, we basically cold-called Doug to see if he would come out to jam with us. He did, and here we are. In the drummer’s slot, we had a couple of changes following the first album - from Bill Higgs to Dave Wyles. When Dave got too busy with his many musical projects, he recommended Jason Latimer. We called him up, gelled with him immediately - and started right into work on the Re-Coop album.

OK, I need to ask about your band name…hilarious! Where did this come from? Would you concern yourself with potential animal rights activists? (Laughs)

The name actually came from one of those foam-backed trucker hats one of us had seen at a truckstop. Not too worried about animal-rights activists - I mean, it’s not like we’re torturing pigeons on stage or biting off their heads, Ozzy-style. We quite like Pigeons...

Are you all actually friends or is it just business?

Friends for sure!

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

It’s easier now, but much harder to make a living at it.

Your music is powerful and heavy and sometimes, Top 40’ish, comical yet introspective; how do you achieve this eclectic mix and tell us when and where your best times for inspiration are.

We live in a no rules world when it comes to writing. For years we were all pigeon-holed (excuse the pun) in our past bands to conform to certain genres or were given musical parameters via record companies, with DP we decided to stretch our wings, so to speak. It’s amazing to be able to just come up with what we feel is a good idea and be able to pursue it without feeling like we have to make the song fit our “image”.

Without being disrespectful to your band’s originality, I always like to cite some influences that my ear picks out or I think picks out; do you guys do this when you’re working out your arrangements? Who are some of your influences! Who’s everyone’s favourite band?

We don’t actually spend too much time worrying about who we might sound like - that can stifle creativity through over-analyzing - but yeah, our influences inevitably show through our work. I mean, hey - it’s only rock and roll. An arbitrarily short list of artists we dig and who have influenced us would have to include David Bowie, Rammstein, Disturbed, Slayer, Dream Theatre, Rush, Max Webster, Joe Satriani, Big Wreck, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Judas Priest, Queen, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Styx, Cheap Trick, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa and Jeff Beck. Lots of others, too.

You’re not on a tour schedule as of yet; are there dates lined up for this year?

Not yet - except for a charity show slot in May for The Children’s Wish Foundation - we’re working on a new album. We'd love to get out on some of the summer festival shows this summer though!

I am hearing rumblings of a new record in the future! Can you elaborate?

We’re in the middle of writing and arranging right now, will hopefully begin the recording process soon. Joe has some new toys for the studio that we’re excited about. It looks like we'll probably have about 10 to 12 songs. In keeping with our nature the songs are coming out in ways we would never have anticipated and this album will be "eclectic" for sure. There's already a few seriously kicking heavier tunes, which is exciting, as well as some pieces that have defied classification. One of the tunes has provided us with a good potential title too!

I want to thank you so much for taking the time for us!
As we go, give us “Damn Pigeon’s Damnations” for 2018:
1. WW III or Peace on Earth? (The Big Red Button Saga)

We hope the only wars we see this year are between the band members over our beer of choice consumed in the recording of our new album - so, peace! We’re Cold-War Kids - we’ve been through all this before...

2. Aliens Land – Aliens Keep On Going?

We’ve received a few requests from Alpha Centauri for some download PINs for Whisky Sinners so we think they’ll definitely stop by and catch a Pigeon show at least. We’ll say hi for you! It would be interesting to hear what alien music might sound like, it could be really cool...

3. Music Industry Better – Music Industry Worse?

Hopefully better. It would be nice to see the industry figure out an agreeable way to monetize the sale of music and other arts that is fair to both artist and consumer.

4. USA Beer Better – Canadian Beer Better (or Whiskey?) (Sinners, that is)

Canadian beer for sure! There are some great US beers - but if we're comparing their best to ours - Canadian beers. We do like the US bourbons though...

5. Currently reading….which books?

Gray’s Anatomy (Henry Gray, Henry Van Dyke Carter), M Train (Patti Smith), The Dark Tower Series (Stephen King), War (Gwynne Dyer), The Meaning Of Quantum Physics (Jim Baggot), Voltaire’s Bastards (John Ralston Saul), The Prince Of Nothing Series (R. Scott Bakker) and other books by A. Reynolds, Richard Morgan and James A. Corey.

6. 10 Minutes Left (The Hawaiian Missile Crisis); what would you do?

Crank some tunes, open a beer with a Scotch chaser!

Thank you again for taking important wax making time to talk to me. Do you have any last words for DutchMetalManiac’s readers? Absolute best you all!

A huge thank-you to DutchMetalManiac and staff for the continued support - including yourself, Alessandro - thanks so much! Also, thank you to our supporters all over the world. We are truly humbled by your willingness to lend us your time and attention by listening to, sharing and purchasing our music. And for reading our mind-addled thoughts in great publications such as this. Thanks Tons!

Damn Pigeon Official Website
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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Live review: Lucky Rocks Metalfest III

It's Saturday January 27th and I am on an early train. In an hour and 30 minutes I will get to what will be my destination for a while today, which will be Lucky in Rijssen. Luckily Lucky is only a few minutes’ walk from the train station. Once inside I see that this venue is a lot bigger than it seems to be from the outside. A big wardrobe, a pretty big hall, a pub with a stage, a mainstage, a snackbar and a disco (I'll talk about this later). A great place for a long day full of metal!

One hour after the doors opened, the first band of today starts playing. This opening band is the, since 2015 resurrected, Dutch band Dead End. With their death/doom metal they deliver a strong show to the already present audience. Especially the extremely deep grunts of vocalist Bryan Boorsma are very intense and perfectly fit the heavy death/doom the other band members play. Dead End also shows that they are very attuned to one another. An example of this is when the backing vocals of guitarist Jeroen Gijsbers didn't come through, bassist Alwin noticed this and took care of it. A nice opener for today.

The second band is Misanthropia. They are the first band to climb the mainstage. Misanthropia plays black metal, but they do give it their own touch for sure. Something that is very present in their music is the guitar and we even got quite a few solo's. Misanthropia also has a lot of rhythm changes in their music, which makes it far from boring. In my opinion some of their tracks ended a bit abruptly as well as their set. Vocalist/guitarist Bram Koller also said the set ended quite abruptly, but the reason for this was that time was up.

After Misanthropia it was time to go back to the pub section of Lucky where the show from stomping death metallers The Lucifer Principle just started. These guys played a very tight, heavy set with a huge load of energy. The energy kept coming from the stage. The center of this energy on stage is frontman Earik. Besides a huge dose of energy, he also has quite a dose of charisma and humor which he uses for a lot of interaction with the audience. Besides this humor it is nice to see that everyone in the band has a lot of fun during this show.

After this set full of energy and humor it is time for the second band on the mainstage. It is time for the death metallers from Brazil, Rebaelliun. Their death metal is death metal in an extremely heavy, ramming way. The performance of this band is very static, but this is logic because of all three band members also have an instrument to play with besides two of them also doing vocals (the other being drummer). Musically Rebaelliun crushes your bones. They delivered a good set for sure, but this wasn't my kind of music.

After a quick break to eat something, I quickly went to Lucky's pub because Altar was about to unleash their set. Now, the venue was getting more crowded and the audience was about to receive the next big dose of energy from a death metal band in the pub. The band shows to have a lot of fun during their gig and Janneke de Rooy shows she is a great frontwoman for Altar. She gives a very powerful set with her enormous ability to grunt but also with her interaction with the audience. The band changed their positions a few times, but because of the stage being pretty small, it sometimes seemed to be a bit uncomfortable. However, this didn't harm their musical performance.

The next three bands are the bands that performed in Iduna, Drachten one day earlier and in 013, Tilburg at January 10th. These three bands, Schammasch, Trepaneringsritualen and Batushka are on tour together and this is their last Dutch show of that tour. First it is time for Schammasch. Once arrived again at the mainstage, the air is already filled with a lot of incense. The stage is completely decorated with a lot of candles, skulls and other occult decorations. The music these Swiss play is mostly a slow, mesmerizing kind of black metal, but it also has its faster parts. Vocal-wise Schammasch mixes Gregorian-like vocals with black metal screams. Due to the fact that the vocalist is wearing a black mask in combination with the lightshow, it looks like he has no face. This gives an extra mysterious touch to their set.

Trepaneringsritualen is next on the schedule and music-wise this performance is probably the most unique from all other bands today. Looking at the stage through the air full of incense one person is on stage wearing a bag over his head. On one side besides him is a little mixing panel, on the other side a small table with a skull, some candles and the sticks of incense on it. The person standing there is Göta Länder, the sole member of Trepaneringsritualen. Musically Trepaneringsritualen can be described as a mix of industrial and ambient with very intense vocals. This for sure isn't just a performance to watch, this is an intense experience. After I saw a Trepaneringsritualen show on YouTube, I immediately knew that I had to experience this. I was already looking forward to this moment for quite some time. From the moment Trepaneringsritualen started the set the intense, almost hypnotic music immediately gets you in some sort of trance. This is intense, ritualistic and misanthropic. Apparently, there were only a few people who could appreciate this show, because when the set was finished there were only a few people left. At one moment Göta dropped his microphone, stepped from the stage and walked away through the venue. This abrupt ending of the show perfectly fitted this intense performance.

Still in trance of the perfect performance by Trepaneringsritualen I walk towards the mainstage where Batushka is about to start their set. Just as with the set Schammasch played, Batushka also got a really well-thought and well-decorated stage. Batushka delivered black metal with the logic screams but also, again, the more rarely Gregorian vocals. Batushka also got a three-way choir on stage which gives an extra dimension to the vocals.

After Batushka, Heretic is taking care of the next show in the pub and they deliver quite a good show. With their extremely energetic horrorpunk show full of groove the band went full-speed. Besides the band, the audience is also going crazy. There are some crowd surfers, but there also is a gigantic moshpit. Unfortunately, there are also some people who don't know how to behave in a moshpit. Because of this it isn't that much fun for everyone. Of course, this isn't because of Heretic. They deliver a great, perfect show.

After Heretic it is time for the last band at the mainstage for Lucky Rocks Metalfest. This band isn't just a band, it is the legendary death metal band Pestilence with a special old school set. They deliver the soundtrack for the battlefield in front of the mainstage for the last time today. With their tight, energetic show they do this in a pretty great way and they crush you for one more time. Pestilence shows why they are the closing the mainstage and why they are the legendary band they are.

The last band of today is Distillator, but unfortunately, I had to miss them, because otherwise I wouldn't get home.

A very successful edition of Lucky Rocks Metalfest!

However, it was a bit weird that at the end of the night when leaving the mainstage and walking into the hall, the local youth was also there going to the earlier mentioned disco.

Text and photos by Tim van Velthuysen

Read our preview about Veghel Blackfest with Misanthropia included in its lineup here. We also reviewed Rebaelliun's The Hell's Decrees here and Batushka's Litourgiya here.
Read our Promoting Bands-part which included Trepaneringsritualen here.

Pestilence Official Website
Pestilence Facebook
Heretic Official Website
Heretic Facebook
Batushka Official Website
Batushka Facebook
Trepaneringsritualen Official Website
Trepaneringsritualen Facebook
Schammasch Official Website
Schammasch Facebook
Altar Official Website
Altar Facebook
Rebaelliun Official Website
Rebaelliun Facebook
Rebaelliun Twitter
The Lucifer Principle Official Website
The Lucifer Principle Facebook
Misanthropia Official Website
Misanthropia Facebook
Dead End Facebook

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Review: Stillborn - Nocturnals

Stillborn has been around for a while. 34 years to be exact, the band was founded in 1984 in Sweden when two musicians, Kari Hokkanen and Petter Bryneson found the guitarist they needed to start a band. His name was and is Ingemar Henning and at the time he had only been playing the guitar for a year. Off they went, but it didn’t take them long to realize they needed another guitarist. As luck would have it they met guitarist Erik Sandquist at an Einstürzende Neubauten concert, and he was willing to complete the line-up. Stillborn was born. They played what is now known as gothic metal, but back in the day nobody had ever used that term. That didn’t stop them from releasing an album called Necrospirituals that, in retrospect, can be considered early gothic, complete with depressing lyrics about death, sorrow and suffering. This caused it to be set as an example for the bad influence of heavy metal in a national debate and not much later it all went downhill when Kari decided to leave the band. Being stripped from more than half of their original line-up, Petter Bryneson had left Stillborn earlier, they bravely fought on, but they were fighting a lost battle. The fans more or less turned their backs on them, not accepting Kari’s departure and the two releases that succeeded their debut never managed to generate as much interest. Stillborn seemed to be headed for a travel to the realms of the forgotten bands when in 2016 the original members came together and decided to start playing again. The result is Nocturnals, a 10-song, 47 minutes release showing clear similarities with their debut work. That makes perfect sense of course, after all that is what the fans were looking for.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Stillborn. Considering them flying under the radar for the vast majority of their existence that is not too surprising. However, giving Nocturnals a spin makes you eligible for a quick course of what they stand for music-wise. And quick it is, all you need to figure it out what you’re about to engulf yourself in is opener 1917. That song will give you plenty of clues, leaving little room for interpretation where it comes to their musical preferences, even though there’s probably over a dozen words you could use to describe it. Be it depressing, ominous or eerie, really any word describing desperation, which seems to be the key element here, will do. This of course is not uncommon among gothic oriented bands and if anything this release breathes gothic influences. From the slow-paced speed to the disaster-spelling lyrics to the seriously low tuned vocals, it’s all there. Despite all this, Nocturnals is not a ‘pure’ gothic album, the guys have peppered their music with a few off-genre features, such as some heavy riffage, a couple of grunts and a handful of influences from other genres, which definitely contribute to this album. In fact, not only do they contribute, I’d say these ‘extras’ save the entire album which in my opinion could otherwise be dangerously close to boredom. I will explain myself, but keep in mind this is NOT a boring album!

When you listen past all the non-gothic features you’ll notice there’s not much variety in speed of the songs and the basic set-up of the songs isn’t exactly inventive either. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but combined with the somewhat monotonous, low tone quite a few of the vocal lines are sang in, it spells boredom in my book. Don’t get me wrong, Kari’s voice certainly isn’t bad, not at all even, but I would have enjoyed a bit more variety in timbre and tone at times. I am of course fully aware of the fact that this is inherent to the genre, but I simply would have wanted him to play with it a little more. Nothing to complain about the grunting by the way and his range is impressively low, stretching from deep and dark to deeper than the deepest ocean and blacker than the blackest black. Also, in Stillborn’s defense, I must admit that the type of music they play here needs way more than one spin for you to fully uncover its secrets. It grows on you. So make no mistake, this album has a lot to offer, regardless that being substantially courtesy of said genre-defying influences or not. After all, it’s the sum of all parts that makes the tunes, there is no reason to discard it because it has its flaws. It might take some getting-used to, but once you have given it the time it deserves there’s enough to enjoy. Try Oblivion Reloaded on for size, the heaviest song on the album which sounds way more oppressing, burdening than all other songs on the album, almost as if it was differently mixed. Or Maaemo with its distinct guitar work, one of the best songs of the album. And then there is the grunts in The Walking Dead, a song that will keep on singing around in the back of your head a long time after it has ended. I don’t know if it was intentional, but I cannot imagine a better way to end an album than with a chorus that will haunt you in your dreams.

Like I said, Nocturnals is an album that needs time to grow on you. It has many different angles, twists and turns, but only subtle, so you won’t notice them all right away. After giving it the initial spin I was all but impressed with it, but every next time I played it, it charmed me a bit more. The carefully dosed addition of heavier riffs, subtle influences from other genres and even grunts definitely made this more interesting for me and I’m sure now it will appeal to a wider variety of metal fans. This one surely is worth your time, just make sure you are willing to give it the time it deserves and needs.

Written by Henric van Essen

Stillborn Official Website
Stillborn Facebook