Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Bombastic Blind Guardian blow away the power metal cobwebs

LET'S face it, right up front, no waffling, no bullshit - power metal can disappear up it's own ass; filled with pomposity, pretentiousness and prat-ishness. Thankfully, on 'Beyond the Red Mirror; a bombastic Blind Guardian avoid the traps of the cliché and complacency.

Of course, that doesn't mean that they are attempting to re-invent the wheel - they're just making it run smoother.

From their formative 'speed metal' days Blind Guardian have natured, grown and became pioneers of the power metal vanguard; with symphonic, multi-layered, magnificence.

While their 2010 release 'At The Edge of Time' was a massive success for Blind Guardian commercially (number two in Germany's album charts, and entering the US Billboard charts) we tended to view it as a bit 'meh'

But, the main attribute of Blind Guardian is that they refuse to stand still.

Guitarist André Olbrich said: "We want to surprise and impress with our music. Nowadays, music tends to be arbitrary and predictable. But we want to keep developing our music."

And, predictability is not something Blind Guardian do...three classical choirs (from Prague, Budapest and Boston) and two 90-strong orchestras make for a heady mix.

Yes, they've been there before...

"Seeing how orchestra songs come alive is a very special and intense moment for us," said Blind Guardian vocalist & lyricist Hansi Kürsch. "Thanks to ‘Sacred Worlds" and ‘Wheel Of Time’ [from 2010’s 'At The Edge Of Time' album], I can say that we have learned a lot about scoring, recording, and mixing when it comes to such music. You will notice a great improvement when you listen to the final result of this adventurous trip we have started so long ago."

The result is a ridiculous raucous romp - technical dexterity married with lyrics that verge on the hilarious (take 'Ashes of Eternity': "Now, Raise the flag, The war seems over, And bow your head, at dawn they shall be murdered").

Despite that, from the nine and half minute opener, 'The Ninth Wave' to the nine and half minute closer 'Grand Parade' this is simply a glorious album to lose yourself within: tracks like the 'At the Edge of Time' have a magisterial quality few can equal.

Songs such as 'The Throne' and 'Sacred Mind' have a presence and feel about then that, when listening very loud, or over headphones, transport from the mundane.

The very existence of Blind Guardian after so many years defies the mainstream mundane mendacity of a media obsessed with the latest fad: and to a certain extent the metal magazines that waffle around the latest trend.

From 1995 Blind Guardian have raised a single finger to convention; they are unfashionable, and for that very reason they are glorious.

'Beyond The Red Mirror' is proof that when you take the time and energy you can surpass expectations, raise the game and kick clichés into touch.

More orchestras, more choirs, more layers: Blind Guardian take all that, wrap it up in a self-conscious take on the genre they helped invent.


Review by Jonny


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

NEWS: ASIWYFA announce new album and tour


NORTHERN IRISH math rockers And So I Watch You From Afar (ASIWYFA) have announced their return with their new forthcoming album ‘Heirs’. This will be the eclectic quartet’s fourth full length album following on from their critically acclaimed album ‘All Hail Bright Futures’.


The PR blurb reads:

"ASIWYFA have applied to their forthcoming new album ‘Heirs’ the same rigorous work ethic that has seen them touring nearly non-stop all over the world in recent years. ‘Heirs’ is both the band’s most painstakingly created album as well as its most personal and meaningful: a central theme about the inheritance of ideas, in that we’re all ‘Heirs’ to other peoples’ passion which in turn inspires ourselves.


"Many new lives, new imperatives and invigorated perspectives helped shape the 10-song album borne of over 30 tracks written in prolific isolation over 6 months in the band’s Belfast, Northern Ireland home. It’s a work of deep focus and adventurous abandon that reaches to the heart of artistic expression.

"In support of their forthcoming album, ASIWYFA have also announced a 31-date tour to start this spring with label partners Mylets, covering the UK, and much of Europe. Over the past 5-years  ASIWYFA less common tour stops such as China, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. This tour will see the band play 4 UK shows in Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol and London before heading to Europe.

‘Heirs’ is due out on 4th May 2015 and will be released via Sargent House (home to the likes of Russian Circles, Boris, Chelsea Wolfe, and Tera Melos).


No news of Northern Ireland dates yet.




Sunday, January 25, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Bonafide strip it down to damn fine essentials on Denim Devils

SWEDEN - like all the Scandinavian countries seem to have an excess of bands, pounding out a range of metal and rock genres - and leading the hard rock charge from Malmo are Bonafide, who have just released a stormer of an album in the shape of 'Denim Devils'.

There is always a case for heads down rock 'n' roll fun and Pontus Snibb and his compadrés deliver that in shedloads on the 12 tracks on this OffYerRocka release. Damn  - it's hard not to raise a pint to their efforts.

They take the basic hard rock template and give it additional umph - just listen to 'Get A Grip' and the riff melds into a melodic chorus to die for, and a sweet as a six-string nut measured solo.

Their last release 'Bombo' is a hard act to follow, but somehow they have managed it. All the songs were penned by Snibb, and recorded in bassist Martin Ekelun's own studio.

Snibb echoes our sentiments when he said: "This record has a tougher live vibe and sound than the previous one, as it was recorded almost live in he studio.

"We wanted to get as close to a live show as possible - to capture that magic that happens on stage when everything's coming together."

Throughout that live vibe stays to the fore on the likes of '50/50' and 'One Kiss';  a track Snibb said: "I recall thinking about Foo Fighters meets Weezer when I wrote that song last spring."

That is perhaps to under-estimate a great track; but then again the track prior to that, is Airbourne, DC, and The Answer all wrapped up in four minutes of sheer fun - 'Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle' is a balls to the wall rocker: never mind the clichés, when a song is this much fun it's best to take those clichés and enjoy every second.

But that might suggest that Bonafide are one-dimensional in their take on hard rock. Quite the reverse. From the tender 'Missing You' (which is excellent!) through to the measured 'The Game' and closer 'This Ones for You'.

That song is a tribute to fans, and as every fan who has seen Snibb, Rosell, Ekelund and Matson live will know that they push every fibre of their rock 'n' roll dark hearts into performing for fans.

Bonafide are the sort of band that the mainstream media - and the rock media - tend to ignore in the UK. That's their loss -  because those in the know appreciate that Bonafide are part of a market they'll never understand, while we in the know glory in it. Denim Devils? A damn fine album from a damn fine band.

Review by Jonny

Saturday, January 24, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Middle eastern death metal from Voice of the Soul on atmposheric Catacombs

THERE is a healthy metal scene in the middle east and Arabian Peninsula - that often slips under the radar for a number of reasons, not least the authoritarian regimes that populate the ruling classes.

But, despite that Beruit and Dubai death metallers Voice of the Soul have managed to produce a beautifully atmospheric and deadly release in the shape of 'Catacombs'.

By the time you reach third track 'Pendulum' you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a good and technically well crafted death metal, but that is just to lull you into a false sense of comfort, before the unsettling atmosphere kicks in.

A trio of songs - 'Quarantine', 'Cold Rupture' and 'The Mist' leave you with tingles up and down the spine. 'Quarantine' is the most conformist to the death metal, but it has a real sense of the grandiose, with tension throughout. As a meaty riff three minutes in it switches down a gear for a repetitive section reminiscent of Gojira before a stunning section, well arranged and paced to perfection.

Kareen Chehayeb's deathly growls give way to a gently picked outro that sets the scene for the piano section that opens 'Cold Rupture', notes from the keys carefully arranged over a synth backdrop that makes the song strangely eerie before a Kareem and fellow axe man Monish Shringi work through a haunting set of arrangements, before a set of clean singing that echoes the musical texture.

Rudy Fares, bass has just the right amount of backing before Kareem's growls come in to add to the tension.

Producer, Hadi Sarieddine's piano playing and arrangement on this is simply fantastic.

The third of the trio, 'The Mist', once again has the piano laying down notes that add tension, in a slightly unsettling three minutes.

From there it is a gallop to the finish as the gentle minute of 'Perdition' gives way to full-on technical death metal that is reminiscent of early Opeth without it being a copy-cat track. There is enough going on here to go back time and time again to listen to the layers contained within.

The six-minutes of 'Defiled' give a slowed down death metal vibe, but with a groove to it few of that ilk can manage and a set of solos that have dark melody and real power

Album closer 'Images Subside' is real proper coda to the offering, with a sense of almost traditional metal; slices of piano weaved into it at times and Kareem growling with Egan O Rourke from Daylight Dieadding clean vocals before a guitar section that harkens back to the glory days of NWOBHM -  real triumph to close 'Catacombs'.

This is an album we came to, expecting very little, from a relatively unknown (in the UK at least) band. But after a couple of listens it screams potential. Now with a Bassem Farra added as a bassist (live only) they should take the opportunity to stretch themselves to the next level on tour.

'Catacombs' is available as a digital release in the UAE, and will be released in March on Hells Hammer and in India via Transcending Obscurity.
 
Review by Jonny

Thursday, January 22, 2015

COMIN' ATCHA: Mastodon fan Bill Bailey brings his comedy chaos to Belfast

QI REGULAR, Mastodon fan, headliner at Sonisphere and a comedian, are just some of the credentials of Bill Bailey is bringing his critically acclaimed 'Limboland' show to Belfast.




Yes, I know we very rarely do 'stuff' about comedians, but c'mon it's Bill Fuckin' Bailey!




He will be playing the Ulster Hall slot on October 4th. And, he claims to love playing Belfast - and sums up the crowd for comedians and rock and metal acts.




He said: "I always have a great time in Belfast and had to bring my new 'Limboland' show to the Ulster Hall.




"It's one of the best comedy rooms the world and seems to draw some of the best hecklers and nutters to it.


"See you in October!"


Right - that's plenty of time to work on your heckling and we know that we're all nutters anyway!



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Khaos transcend hard rock clichés with strong emotional undercurrent on Risen

TO be honest with you, Constant Reader, we have struggled to get to grips with the Khaøs release 'Risen' for some weeks now. They tread a fine line of powerful hard rock and strident objectionable resolve and schmaltz as they emerge from land-locked Switzerland.

Take for example the transition from the full-on, almost metal, roar of  'Crisis Factor' to 'Exalted', a song Danny Vaughn would be proud to have penned.

Finding a 'right way' to classify the sound of Khaøs for readers is pretty difficult - but that doesn't mean this is a poor album. Quite the reverse - it is polished, accomplished and eminently listenable for all hard rock fans.

Frontman Chandler Mogel has a sublime voice for this type of music, reaching heights and exploring vocalist's darkest underbelly on the likes of the angry stomp of 'Loaded Question'.

This is no 'cock and pussy' hard rock, dripping with clichés and innuendos. There is substance behind all the hard rock/classic rock flourishes and melodies.

Guitarist Mark Rossi said: “The subject matter transcends individual boundaries, hearkening to darker scenarios yet striving for resolution. The lyrical approach follows a trend of maintaining hope while facing difficulty and conflict. All the evil of mankind cannot suppress the people if they won’t let it. Aside from the lyrics and tone, the project’s unifying element is one of hard rock expression, which defies definition with every song.”

Frontman Chandler Mogel (also of Outloud & Chrome Public) added: “Musically and lyrically ‘Risen’ is a continuation from ‘Rising’, which was just a taste but began to touch on some of the deeper subject matter that I wanted to develop further into my writing;

"I had also been writing some Outloud songs with deeper meanings but for me it wasn't really working in that setting. I knew I needed a different approach musically for it, and Khaøs seemed like the right fit so I channeled this focus there. I wanted an outlet to really convey problems with society, personal struggles, mental mechanisms, and the reasons for all of this. As always I leave the lyrics open to interpretation from the listener as each person will take something different from them, but these are general themes that are prevalent here.”

For all of that 'Hung The Moon' is a beautiful song. Boy bands, pop I
impresarios and greedy label executives would sell their first born to get the rights to this if they ever heard it.

Rossi's sensitive touch adds pathos and bathos in equal quantities.

But the potential problem we have with Khaøs is exactly the disconnect between the music and lyrics. Too often a song that could have been 'boy meets girl and they fuck' ends up almost proselytising about the state of society in 2015.

Set that aside and what you have is an album with a Janus touch. One side of the face is an excellent take on hard rock, while on the other hand there are lyrics to challenge.

Overall - the weeks that we spent getting to know Khaøs output on Risen was worth it.

Review by Jonny


 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

COMIN' ATCHA: Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Northern Ireland heats underway on February 21st

RIGHT you lot - time to be part of the exciting competition to decide which band will fly the Northern Ireland metal flag at Bloodstock - yes Hobgoblin backed Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses gets underway on February 21st.
 
This is a unique opportunity for bands - and for fans to have their say in who will represent NI. In each heat and right through to the final - fans will be voting. Fans votes will count for 50% of the score, and the panel of judges 50%.
Yes, that's right, this is your chance to come along, enjoy a show and exercise your democratic metal franchise.
 
Heat One sees four bands go head-to-head as Sorrowfall, Bakken, Altus and Paradigm will be vying for your vote and the nod from the judges in the Limelight2.The full schedule of dates for Hobgoblin's Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses is as follows - ink them into your diary, put them in your MS Outlook calendar, add them to your smartphone reminders, but just be there to help decide - this is a band competition like no other; a battle of the bands, battling for a Bloodstock slot.
 
You can decide who are the soldiers of metal and who are the real warriors who will blast Bloodstock. 

Dates:
  • Saturday 21st February. Limelight 2. Heat 1
  • Saturday 7th March. Limelight 2 - Heat 2
  • Thursday 12th March. Voodoo Heat 3
  • Saturday 4th April. Limelight 2 - Heat 4  
  • Saturday 18th April. Limelight 2. Heat 5
  •  
  • Friday 24th April. Voodoo. Semi Final
  • Saturday 2nd May. Limelight 2. Semi Final
  •  
  • Friday 8th May. Voodoo. Final
See y'all there for some righteous metal!

ALBUM REVIEW: The Revenant King sees Visigoth rise to classic metal challenge

THE Visigoths were branches of the nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples referred to collectively as the Goths. That is according to Wikipedia. But Visigoth the band are an entirely different proposition to the Gothic tribe that defeated the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople in 378.


Certainly they take their classical history very seriously - classical history of metal on 'The Revenant King', which is released on Metal Blade on 27th January.


Setting aside the lyrics - more on these later - this is a superbly enjoyable release from the Salt Lake City five-piece, notable for the performances of guitarists Jamison Palmer and Leeland Campana.


They turn in a riff-laden assault that harkens back to the glory days of late 70s and early 80s metal. There is certainly no doubt that they take their European and NWOBHM roots very seriously, eschewing the cookie monster lyrics, despite verging on proto-thrash at times.


Opening duo of the title track and 'Dungeon Master' set the template for a romp through metal class - with the up-tempo ride following the obligatory 'quieter bit' on 'Dungeon Master' particularly enjoyable.


Mikey Tee's unfussy drumming keeps the sound tight, with Matt Brotherton's bass keeping the sound from running into parody. Indeed for the first listen we were tempted to say that they were a parody band, especially when the PR blurb accompanying the release has lines like: "Jamison Palmer slung his mighty axe over one shoulder and trudged his way through the ice and snow of this inhospitable realm, lending his soul-rending riffcraft to the legion."


Taking piss? Maybe the waffle is, but the band are clearly not, as can be heard on the mid-tempo 'Mammoth Rider'.


On the seven minute plus epic 'Blood Sacrifice' the 'classic metal' power take comes to the fore, with it's brief picked guitar opening. But it is Jake Rogers vocals that soar here as the speed increases. His range is good and he can pound it with an intensity few of their forebears could muster.


Notable for its execution is 'Vengeance' with has a chug-a-chug riff á la Maiden, and Rogers tearing off an enjoyable set.


Album closer 'From the Arcane Mists of Prophecy' is almost 10 minutes of pure fun - with changing tempos and more than a little reminiscent of early Helloween - and that's no bad thing.


Now - on to the lyrics...Are they deep and meaningful? No. Unless there is an allegorical meaning lurking they are daft, silly and filled with tales of ancient days and fantasy worlds.


Like Manowar to fully appreciate this release you need to suspend your disbelief to enjoy them; we all know that the joy is in the stupidity, but then again they pull this off well.


While doffing their caps to the European and UK scenes they also do not forget their US colleagues, with a cover of Manilla Road's 'Necropolis'. Perhaps this is why the Visigoth are able to produce such a relatively accomplished release on 'The Revenant King'. They have absorbed, sponge-like, their formative listening experiences and put their own stamp on it.


By no means a perfect release, nevertheless, put your brain in neutral and kick back and enjoy Visigoth as they rampage through your aural tracts....

Friday, January 16, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Beast comes out battlng - Battle Beast power through emotions on Unholy Savior

FINNISH power metallers Battle Beast have been creating a stir across the continent, without much of a breakthrough to the nether regions of the UK - but 'Unholy Savior' has the potential to make more people sit up and take notice.

After the 2013 release of the self-titled album this is a step forward without losing the essence of the band, as the stomp of opener 'Lionheart' echoes previous power metal with Euro flavourings and consistent riffing and a tasty brief solo.

Noora Louhimo's vocals are strong throughout, but are also deep and soulful on the likes of 'Sea of Dreams' and 'Angel Cry'.

There is a certain grandiose splendour from Janne Björkroth's keyboards. Unlike many of their ilk the keys are not dropped out of the mix after a song's intro. Having said that 'Touch In The Night' sees them perhaps too dominant.

But the work of Anton Kabanen and Juuso Soinio on the axes redeems any thought this is a waffly piece of rock. The solos on the title track and on 'Speed and Danger' are nicely balanced between technical flare and solid structuring.

While attention will always be on Noora Louhimo's vocal dexterity that is to ignore the arrangements each track. 'I Want The World - and Everything In It' is perhaps one of the stand-out track as Anton underlays Noora's singing - which on this track has echoes of Doro.

All is underpinned by thoughtful rhythm guitar playing and Eero Sipilä bass work and Pyry Vikki's drumming which sits as a solid foundation each song; just throwing in enough fills to add tone and solidity.

While an immensely enjoyable listen, there will always be question marks on this type of Euro metal. This is by no means a perfect example of the power metal, it has enough quality and intriguing songs to give it a higher ranking than many of Battle Beast's contemporaries.

To a certain extent that is because for all the dexterity there is an emotional core.

"I thirst to go further as a human being and the music on this album represents a part of the ongoing spiritual journey - that's what I tend to I call it - which is my road onward. Music-wise the songs have been expanded to a wider area as an effort to call out emotions close to those I myself had during the times of birth of these songs," said guitarist & vocalist Anton Kabanen about the album.

'Unholy Saviour' seems to have has been influenced by everything the band has been facing during the past months and as the that main composer Anton was going through at the time: Questioning his whole existence step by step, wondering if his dream had betrayed him. 'Unholy Savior' reeks of death, agony, pain, hate, confusion, fear and insecurity, but it speaks of deep gratitude, longing, consolation and love. Those aren't my words - they're from the blurb and for once the PR spin is spot on.

"The album had to be done this way - through emotional hell. Having transferred these "things" and emotions into songs I feel that I'm ready to move on. But like always, I wrote songs about the series "Berserk", as well, and the reason behind writing songs about that particular series is that I can strongly relate to that, especially to certain characters and to their way of thinking and feeling," said Anton.

Even without knowing that back story the likes of 'Sea of Dreams' lyrics and the title track reveal much. Indeed despite some of the dafter lyrics there is a song core of emotion and song writing to reflect that means Battle Beast are able to rise; this isn't the all-too slick Power Metal, which too often has no 'heart'.

Instead Battle Beast have exorcised internal demons and produced an album that has real emotion: by no means perfect but a solid, entertaining and cathartic listen. Definitely stuck on one of our playlists.

Review by Jonny

 


COMPETITION>: Win tickets to see Placebo in Belfast

ONE of the unclassifiable greats of rock, Placebo, are playing Belfast on 26th February, and you could win a pair of tickets to see them at the Waterfront Hall.


Yes, Belfastmetalheadsreunited and Rockradioni have teamed up with our good friends at MCD to offer you a chance to Placebo on the UK leg of their Loud Like Love.


The critically acclaimed album of the same name is the seventh studio album from Brian Moloko and co, one which sees the band overcome the niggles sometimes made towards them by the UK music press.

To win the pair of tickets to see Placebo, just answer this question: name the bassist and founder member of Placebo.


Send your answers here before the 1st of February.


Usual competition rules apply - if you're not in you can't win.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RAVEN Kings is the fourth album from swedish melodic death metal band Engel and the first to feature new vocalist Mikael Sehlin.
 
The album is made up of eleven concise songs mostly clocking in around the three and a half minute mark. Most songs follow the template of growled/gruff vocals and clean sung chorus
 
Standout tracks to me are 'Fading Light' which has a catchy, almost poppy chorus backed with double bass.

This is followed by 'My Dark Path' which is another melodic song. The biggest departure is 'I Am The Answer' which has clean picked guitar lines and haunting vocals
 
This is by no means a bad album but the issue I have with albums like Raven Kings is that  they can be quite one dimensional.
 
The production is clear and mechanical which can make it soulless but ultimitely if you're a fan of Engel and melodic death metal in general this album will appeal to you
 
Review by Gavin O`Connor

ALBUM REVIEW: Catching the 80s Vibe with Sweet & Lynch

'ONLY to Rise' is the new album from Stryper vocalist Michael Sweet and former Dokken/Lynch Mob guitarist George Lynch. Featuring the powerhouse rhythm section of James Lomenzo (Megadeth) and Brian Tichy (Whitesnake) this album promised much and delivered on that promise.

All under the rather predictable moniker of Sweet & Lynch.

In a press release Sweet declared that this album would feature flavours of Journey, Bad Company, Dokken, Stryper and Van Halen and all are clearly evident (they even throw in a bit of Iron Maiden)

Starting with a mid tempo rocker, "The Wish", followed quickly by the bluesy "Dying Rose" the above statement is already justified and continues throughout the album.

Tracks such as "Time will Tell" and album closer "Only to Rise" have that 80’s style influence whilst tracks "Rescue Me" and "Strength in Numbers" have that bluesy vibe to them.

There are a number of stand out songs on this album but I think "Me, Without you" and "September" will prove universally to be the favourites.

The former is a powerful ballad with soulful vocals from Sweet with a well written and perfectly fitting solo from Lynch. This song could well go on to be their classic song and I can see it being extended live to give it anthemic status.

The latter song, 'September', starts with an Iron Maiden riff reminiscent of Wasted Years before changing direction and becoming an emotional tribute to the events of 9/11.

Having said that I think my favourite track, at time of writing , is the other power ballad "Love Stays". A heavier than usual ballad where Sweets vocals drip with emotion and Lynch delivers one of my favourite solo’s on the album.

The band also get to flex their muscles on the out and out rocker "Recover" where Lynch lets rip on the solo.

Listening to the album you will find that the vocals and background vocals are of a very high quality and Lynch’s guitar work is excellent again. But I think the best aspect of the album is the Loremzo/Tichy combination. They are superb throughout and really give the album its drive and groove.

As a footnote "Only to Rise" is the first album featured on the "NI Rocks recommends" feature for NI Rock Radio in 2015 so we both can’t be wrong, right??

This album gets a solid 8.5/10 rating from me and should be in most rockers’ collection.

Review by Andy Gillen

Saturday, January 10, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Colorado Vikings The Flight of Sleipnir plunge into ancient tales on V


THE FLIGHT OF SLEIPNIR V

 
Scandinavian folklore has taken a giant leap into the spotlight of late. From tattooers (such as hand poker Colin Dale) to Viking metallers Amon Amarth and even TV programs such as the historically accurate-ish 'Vikings', it seems the world just can't get enough of the fascinating history of this region.

Riding the crest of this wave are stoner/doom/folk metal duo The Flight of Sleipnir. Since forming in 2007, the pair have mined the rich vein of Scandinavian legends, releasing almost a dozen albums, EP's, splits and compilations, all taking their inspiration from "the writings of poets long since gone". That they are named after Odin's most trusted, eight-legged steed demonstrates just how seriously they take their craft. The Colorado, USA based band recently signed to Napalm Records; this, their fifth full length album (hence the title V) is their first on the label.

Album opener 'Headwinds' starts off with a touch of jangly guitars and moody effects: think 'Kill Bill soundtrack' and you're on the right track. The song then meanders off on its own path in the style of a heavier (and dirtier) Pink Floyd. Clocking in at eight minutes not even the longest track on this most indulgent of albums it ebbs and flows in a rather unstructured manner, full of chunks of blasting heaviness amongst the more folky elements which add real character.

In truth, the album as a whole continues in this fashion. Each song segues effortlessly into the next, giving them a sense of being seven parts of a whole rather than separate entities. The vocals range from an almost crooning, clean style (such as in 'Sidereal Course') to ethereal, psychedelic fuzzy harmonies ('Nothing Stands Obscured', 'Gullveig') to frankly batshit crazy black metal-esque screaming (check out the final track).

Crucially, there are moments of joyful unexpectedness throughout to take the listener by surprise, such as the accoustic break complete with jingling bells during the aforementioned 'Gullveig' and tribal, almost animalistic outro of 'Archaic Rites', which leads the listener apprehensively but willingly into the last track, the spinetingling 'Beacon In Black Horizon'. At over eleven minutes long, it's a daring song to choose as the album's lead single, but my goodness it's a terrific number. From its pummelling beat, understated yet robust riffs, delightfully unhinged vocals and rather beautiful folky ending, it's a textbook example of stoner/folk metal.

The entire album is, in fact, a textbook case of how to successfully meld together the crush of stoner metal and the delicate ebb and flow of poetry. And considering that the stories they base their craft on are in turn brutal and beautiful, it's pretty clear that the Flight of Sleipnir are spot on with what the have created. The only tiny niggle is that the pace of the songs is rather same-y it would be interesting to see if they can be a bit more adventurous and break away from mid-tempo beats. Other than that, this is a solidly impressive album from these Colorado Vikings.

Review by Melanie Brehaut

Thursday, January 08, 2015

NEWS: Screaming Eagles sign deal to have song on US hit drama Justified

NORTHERN Irish hard rockers, Screaming Eagles, have signed a Sony Licensing Deal for one of their tracks to appear on the hit drama series 'Justified'


Posting on social media the band said: "It's not everyday that bands from little countries like ourselves get a call from the VP at Sony. Well....... it happened just yesterday."


"They want to use our debut track Rock N' Roll Soul to feature in an episode of the hit US drama series Justified starring Timothy Olyphant which is currently airing on FX, Channel 5 and Netflix ( over 4 million viewers).


"...we did the deal yesterday evening. To say we're proud is a huge understatement.


"Massive thanks to Susan and Wil at Sony for the offer and Terri at our label Off Yer Rocka for finalising the deal. Most of all, thanks to you guys for supporting us, it means everything..


"We'll keep you posted on when the show will air."


Their first album, 'From the Flames' earned rave reviews for its good time, party rock vibe and top performances from all the band.


Affectionately known as the 'Screagles' they are currently writing album number two and look set to garner yet more fans worldwide.


We at Belfastmetalheadsreunited and RockRadioNI offer our congratulations!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

NEWS: Small number of tickets released for Slipknot/Korn/KIng 810

A limited number of extra tickets have just been released for the SLIPKNOT in Dublin, part of their 'Prepare For Hell' tour date in Ireland next week, January 14th.

Special guests on the tour are SLIPKNOT's longtime friends and musical brothers, KORN.
 
Tickets from €59.50 (inc booking fee)  are on sale now and available to purchase from Ticketmaster.ie and over 100 Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.
 
 " Prepare yourselves... Hell is coming."

And now the blurb:
"The incendiary band's first new music in over six years, the fiercely anticipated, '.5: The Gray Chapter' is out now and can be pre-ordered at iTunes (http://bit.ly/5THEGRAYCHAPTERIRL), via the Warner Music Ireland Store (http://bit.ly/SLIPKNOTIRL) and as a limited Exclusive CD + T-Shirt Box from HMV and Xtra-vision http://bit.ly/5THEGRAYCHAPTERHMVIE.
 
"SLIPKNOT's visually arresting, chaotic, spectacular shows often become the stuff of legend, so with all new masks and production, these events are essential! 
Check out the band's new look in their chilling video for 'The Devil In I' at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEEasR7hVhA.
 
"The 'Prepare For Hell' tour tickets are on sale now over at www.ticketmaster.ie, priced from €59.50 (Inc booking fee).  VIP Packages including Meet & Greet are available from www.VIPNation.eu."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

ALBUM REVIIEW: Close to realising the glory days on Rated X debut

RATED X is the self titled debut album from the new “supergroup” consisting of Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Franklin, Carmine Appice and Karl Cochran.

With bands such as Rainbow, Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Blue Murder on their collective resume’s this release had the potential to be in for a shout at the album of the year category, but is it? Well, yes and no.

Turner's vocals throughout are excellent,with a deeper, raspier tone in fitting with his progressing years and really suiting the overall sound of the album.

The influences are clearly there to hear, especially Lhasa which could have been on Rainbow Rising, but have been given a modern twist and the Franklin/Cappice combination drives the album with relentless rhythm.

For me,however,the stand out contribution comes from Karl Cochrane. His guitar work is excellent at worst and outstanding at best and helps lift some of the weaker tracks.

There is also some very good keyboards supplied by Frontiers records producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline and formerly Eden’s Curse) who had a major role in putting this project together.

The overall musicianship cannot be faulted and there are some excellent riffs and solos from Cochrane but the album for me is in two parts. The first half being excellent hard rock with a heavier darker tone to it, while the second half has a more commercial, melodic,safe feel to it. This isn’t necessarily a criticism but I felt the album tailed off in parts during the second half when it could have become a genuinely classic rock album. ( Maybe playing it on shuffle would iron this out )

Rated X is an album worth investigating with the hope that a second one will be sanctioned and continues where the first part of this one left off. Recommended tracks are the first 6 , Peace of Mind (8), On the way to Paradise(10) and album closer Stranger in Us All. Rating – 8/10
 
Guest reviewer: Andy Gillen

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

NEWS: The Bitch is on tour as RBOTN prepare for some dates with Portrait across UK and Ireland

OH DEAR, oh dear, oh dear -  halls and venues across UK and Ireland are set to be annihilated as Rabid Bitch of the North take to the road. They are opening for some Swedish blokes - called by the good name Portrait. Now that's a combination that will be incendiary.


The Swedish heavy metal titans Portrait are touring in support of their recent and critically acclaimed third album 'Crossroads' which was released earlier this year via Metal Blade Records.

Starting in early 2015, the band to bring a blaze of twin-guitar fuelled metal mayhem. The blurb reads: "Entitled 'Seven Ageless Rites UK & Ireland' these shows will see Portrait take their brand of glorious, galloping and honest heavy metal to new audiences and ensure that their reputation for delivering the goods in fine style will be cemented, and indeed enhanced, in the hearts and minds of UK and Irish metal fans nationwide."


Listen To Portrait 'In Time' Here!
http://youtu.be/mPaNoKCr8zQ

The band have also just released a split album via Metal Blade with brothers-in-arms Ram on 5th December. Titled 'Under Command', the split consists of 6 songs (3 from each band), of which the 3 Portrait songs on offer feature an exclusive, brand-new tune entitled 'Martial Lead', a cover of the Ram song 'Blessed to be Cursed' and the band's unique take on the classic Exciter song 'Aggressor'.


As said support on this tour comes from our very own Rabid Bitch Of The North. Fresh from annihilating Bloodstock Festival in August this year, the band will come armed with their own fiery brand of NWOBHM inspired, aggressive heavy metal. Don't get too close - the bitch is about to bite!
If you're a fan of Angel Witch, Motörhead, Danzig, Warfare and more then do not miss these guys when they hit your town!


Stream Rabid Bitch Of The North 'Defending Two Castles' Here!
http://rabidbitchofthenorth.bandcamp.com/album/defending-two-castles-single


Here's the tour dates and fuck us pink but there's a Belfast date in there - happy fucking metal days!


30th Jan - Dolan's Warehouse - Limerick*
31st Jan - Gypsy Rose Rock and Blues Bar - Dublin
1st Feb - Belfast - Voodoo
3rd Feb - Glasgow - Ivory Blacks
4th Feb - Lancaster - The Yorkshire House
6th Feb - Birmingham - The Asylum
7th Feb - Black Heart Camden
*Portrait Only

NEWS: Metal night in April as Goatwhore join up with Skeletonwitch for Dublin date


YOU can't beat a bit of good old nasty music - and come April Skeletonwitch, Goatwhore and Mortals will be playing the Voodoo Lounge in Dublin

Goatwhore said: "After being part of a really successful European and UK tour with Dying Fetus, Malevolence and Fallujah for the last 6 weeks, I am really stoked to be returning in April with our good friends in Skeletonwitch & Mortals to offer another dose of Extreme Metal to our European and UK fans. This will be a crushing experience to all that attend. We would like to thank everyone that attended the shows in November & December. See you in 2015!"
The gig is on 12th April.

GOATWHORE have just recently launched a brand new music video for the track "Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed." The song is from their latest collection of NOLA-flavored extreme metal cuts, entitled "Constricting Rage of the Merciless." The video can be viewed now at metalblade.com/goatwhore, where fans can also order the album in various configurations!


"Constricting Rage Of The Merciless" debuted at #81 on Billboard's Top 200 chart, toppling their last entry position of #171 with "Blood for the Master." Additionally, the album ranked in at #21 on Billboard's Rock chart, #7 on the Hard Rock chart and #13 on the Independent chart.





NEWS: Good Vibes for Terri


Below is the full press release for the Good Vibes for Terri gig - sounds perfect for blowing away those post Christmas cobwebs. We'll be at Maverick in the Voodoo on the same night, but will try to get round for The Defects and The Outcasts.
Jonny
A Musical Benefit For Terri Hooley

Limelight 1: Tim Wheeler, Nathan Connolly, Iain Archer, Bap Kennedy, Duke Special, Tony Wright and special guests, TBA

Limelight 2: The Outcasts, The Defects, The Sabrejets, The Groundlings, Steven VX.

The Limelight Complex, Ormeau Ave, Belfast

Sunday December 28, 8pm, £10

Tickets from Katy Dalys, from Tickemaster or on the door.

Terri Hooley is a legend, a record shop owner, originator of the Good Vibrations record label, the Godfather of Ulster Punk, a poet, a hooleygan and a gem of a human being. He has brought distinction and joy to Northern Ireland over five decades. ‘A Vibe For Terri’ is an event that celebrates the man and looks forward to his continued presence in our musical community.

Terri is currently in hospital in Belfast. He may be absent from the scene for several months. So, a series of musicians have determined to play a special show to honour the man. The entire Limelight complex will be opened for this important event.

Tim Wheeler is from Ash. Nathan Connolly plays with Snow Patrol and little Matador. Bap Kennedy released his very first record on Good Vibes with his band Ten Past Seven. Iain Archer is an Ivor Novello Award winner and former member of Snow Patrol. Tony Wright records as VerseChorusVerse. Duke Special is NI rock royalty. More special names will be announced shortly and in keeping with Terri’s spirit, there will be laughter, chaos and beautiful moments.

The Limelight 2 will feature some of the punk and alternative bands that Terri has encouraged over the decades.

“A drunken lunatic, a lucid guru, a hilarious storyteller, a cuddly bear and many more things besides. To those that get to know him well, he is a fiercely loyal friend.”
Gary Lightbody on Terri

“I have to start to take it easy, so there will be no birthday party this year, no Boxing Day party and a lot less all night raves for a while. Don't panic - normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Once a hooligan, always a Hooleygan. Keep her lit. One Love.”
Terri Hooley, December 2014 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

COMIN’ ATCHA: Elliott sets the Lepps aside to remind us of the glory days of Mott

IN 2009 Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott had a brain wave – he wanted to pay tribute to one the bands that were part of his musical heritage – Mott The Hoople – and thus was born Down ‘n’ Outz.

Tomorrow night at Belfast’s Limelight1 Elliott is bringing the lovefest for the glory days of 70s rock aided and abetted by The Quireboys' Paul Guerin (Guitar), Guy Griffin (Guitar) and Keith Weir (keyboards), plus Phil Martini (drums).

Together they look to bring songs by Mott The Hoople and spin off projects of Mott, Ian Hunter and British Lions to a wider audience.

In 2009 Down ‘n’ Outz supported Mott The Hoople at one of the band’s five Hammersmith Apollo shows, which garnered much interest with fans.

The fan demand eventually led to the band looking to create an album. 2011 saw the release of the critically acclaimed debut ‘My Regeneration’.

‘My Regeneration’ included the singles ‘England Rocks’ and ‘Overnight Angels’ that reached number four and number one respectively on the US Media Base Rock chart -keeping Eric Clapton’s new single off the top of the chart for 2 weeks.

The band then released a live DVD taken from those initial shows called ‘Live at Hammersmith Apollo’

The new album ‘The Further Adventures of… picks up where the live DVD left off and features the driving groove of album opener - and first single – ‘Rock And Roll Queen.

The collection also includes the good time of rock-n-roll tune ‘One Of The Boys and ballad ‘The Journey, plus the drum heavy song ‘Violence’.

Elliott said: “These songs make up a huge portion of who I am and I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to record them and hopefully give them a new lease of life, which, quite frankly, is long overdue.”

Morgan Fisher (keyboardist Mott The Hoople 1973/1974 and also Mott and British Lions) commented: "It's like Joe and the boys have taken some vintage films and slapped them onto a big, bright Technicolor screen. A great, in-your-face new way to experience some of Mott's finest songs!"

Ian Hunter said: “I’m blown away by these recordings. The solo by Paul Guerin on ‘The Journey’ is one of the best I’ve heard. These songs really suit Joe’s voice also. It’s a whole different side to him and the project gets my approval!”
 
If you haven’t snagged your tickets yet, then we are reliably informed a few are left to buy at the door….oh and don’t expect any Lepps songs, it’s not that sort of night.

Support is from Vega.

EP REVIEW: Genocidal Bakken batter the world with latest release

A COUPLE of years Bakken exploded on to the Northern Ireland scene with the release of their 'Death of a Hero' album, jam-packed with thrash and power metal, and the occasional doff of the cap towards Celtic roots.

From then on the band crafted out their sound with a series of gigs which notably saw them tighten their sound and delivery.

Now, at the tail end of 2014 the metal quartet are about to release their ep 'Worldwide Genocide' a five track flurry of riffs and high speed groove.

From the moment that the bridge and solo on 'Judgement Day' kicks in you can see a band confident in delivering both furious guitar work, while still retaining the integrity of the song: something which Dave Mustaine sometimes forgets. And, at times Simon Pickett's does unconsciously resemble the ginger one.

'Master Illusion' takes the chops of the second wave of thrash and wraps it in a tight blanket of NWOBHM much favoured by the likes of 'Tallica and Anthrax. That's not a criticism - it's a compliment. At the two minutes 15 second mark then change of pace perfectly exemplifies how Bakken can break down the elements of the influences into something fresh.

Simon and Mark-Anthony McGinnis's guitar work manage to weave around each other without overwhelming the track's sound.

Keeping the integrity of the sound is key, otherwise Adrian Stockman's bass could be lost. Thankfully it stays at the right level on 'Evil Walks This Way' with Niall McGrotty's drums maintaining a dynamic in a well arranged track with real flair.

We can see this one as a real live favourite as their is a real mix of thrash and the better aspects of power metal;  as well as having a balance throughout that showcases all the member's talents.

'Inescapable', while in itself is a solid track, at times wanes, and the influence of Mustaine on Simon's vocals again occasionally creeps in. The song is saved by Niall's metronomic and well timed double bass and a manic series of riffs. After two minutes the guitar work manages to resurrect what could have been a mundane thrasher, especially the melody work.

Rounding off the ep is 'Gaia'  which clocking in at over five minutes 20 is the longest track on the release. This is where Bakken plant their flag, stand with feet soundly planted on the soil of metal and deliver.

This has all the elements you could wish for: riffage, shouted backing vocals from Niall, Simon strident in his delivery as he paints a dystopian vision of the planet's fate. There is enough variety in the arrangement to avoid it becoming just another thrash track. The delicate acoustic moment (and it is a brief moment) builds into a crescendo of guitar work, which like 'Sasquatch' from the last release, showcases a flurry of Celtic infused melody solos. Truly a lesson in how to meld where you come from into your chosen genre. There's even a piano sequence as a coda!

After 'Death of a Hero' you could very well have expected Bakken to keep the similar themes going. Rather than that they have stretched themselves that little bit further on 'Worldwide Genocide' without leaving their core sound and values.

One hopes that this ep will serve as a bridge to further live success and getting noticed further afield.

Review by Jonny
 
Worlwide Genocide is officially launched at The Distortion Project on Saturday, 20th December at Limelight 2. Doors are at 5pm.
Bakken will headline with support from Irish mentalists Psykosis and young thrash upstarts Donum Dei
Door tax is £5 and usual drink promos are available

NEWS: Halestorm add Belfast date to 2015 headline tour

With tickets for Halestorm's Feb/Mar 2015 headline tour flying out the door as fast as Santa's sleigh, the Grammy-winning rockers are pleased to add two additional shows, in Dublin and Belfast.



Halestorm will perform at The Academy in Dublin on February 27th.  The Belfast show will be held on February 28th at The Limelight.  Please note, this show is age 18+.


Support at both dates comes from Detroit party monsters, Wilson.

Tickets went on sale at 10am today. 
To get tickets for Belfast, click through to: http://www.ticketmaster.ie/event/38004D8FA65C0F85.








Black Star Riders Release Lyric Video For New Single ‘The Killer Instinct’

BSR New Album “The Killer Instinct” 23rd February 2015



Fresh from the critically acclaimed debut album “All Hell Breaks Loose” in 2013, Black Star Riders today (December 16th) release their new single ‘The Killer Instinct’ from the upcoming album of the same name, which is set for release on 23rd February 2015.
 

You can view the lyric video here:
http://smarturl.it/TheKillerInstinct 

The album will be followed by a full co-headline tour with Europe including the Belfast Ulster Hall appearance on March 3rd.

The band toured 2013’s “All Hell Breaks Loose” for a year – playing across the globe. October 2014 saw them gather in Nashville, TN and enter the studio with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Rush, The Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains, Mastodon) to start recording the follow up.  The result is The Killer Instinct. 

“The Killer Instinct” will be released in different formats: CD, Limited 2 CDs Digibook, Limited Gatefold Black Vinyl and Limited Gatefold Clear Vinyl (available for mail orders only).

Front man Ricky Warwick comments on the new single and lyric video for ‘The Killer Instinct,’

"The video is about strength, endurance and overcoming adversity.  It's about belief, love and compassion in a world of doubt."