Apr 172017

Everyone’s favorite multi-continent hardcore punk band The Old-Timers are back with a retrospective greatest hits album covering their six year career that includes selections from full lengths, ep’s, and various compilations.

Since this is a greatest hits album, I’ve decided the best way to deal with the review is to pull from past reviews I’ve done of the Old-Timers releases as I’ve covered a few of them, so this review will also be a “greatest hits”.

In many ways, The Old-Timers are a product of the technology age since none of the band members are close to each other.  Guitarist and bass player Donovan and singer Dave used to both be located in South Africa but not even close in country and Dave has now returned back to Scotland, and the drums have come from the US with most of the drums on this provided by Phil Harris of False Idle.  Mixing and mastering have often been handled by Sef Idle at Simpul Studios in Idaho.  There’s some irony in there somewhere about hardcore music, which if we’re honest is not the most complex, requiring the most modern technology.

As to what you’ll hear on the album…. Driving rhythms, fast guitars, great bass lines and drums and vocals shouted over the top characterize the sound here.  Think the pace for some good old-school circle pits and some slower sections for pile-ons and sing-alongs, just good fun music.  While the Old Timers are an openly Christian band in focus and themes  and that may not appeal to everyone, the intensity of the vocals and the music really shows the conviction of the members and that combined with the overall speed and style and quality of the songs will have a broad appeal. Continue reading »

Askara – “Horizon of Hope”

 Posted by on April 15, 2017 at 19:02  No Responses »
Apr 152017

Heavy guitars, driving melodies combined with an interplay between growled male and clean, ethereal female vocals fill the debut album from Swiss progressive goth metal band Askara .

Askara traces their roots back to 2012 in Basel, Switzerland when Myriam Schmidt (Vocals/Piano), Benjamin Wiesli (Guitar/Vocals), Elia Schmidt (Bass/Vocals) and Raphael Gruenig (Drums) formed the band.  The band first gained notoriety in 2013 when one of their earlier songs was released on the compilation Heavy Metal Nation IX on Quam Libet Records.  Since that time, the band has been working on the tracks for Horizon of Hope, which was recorded and mixed by Markus Hospenthal at KHE Recording Studio and mastered by Dan Suter at Echochamber for an October 2016 release.

As with any band playing this style of music, comparisons to bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Evanescence are inevitable, so I’ll just get those mentions out of the way.  My ears do actually pick up a good bit of similarity in vocals between Amy Lee of Evanescence and Myriam Schmidt of Askara, not only in overall tone but also in more subtle areas like approach and phrasing and transitions between quiet and forceful.  Musically, Askara is solid and in keeping with the goth metal style, piano and keyboards to play a prominent role in the overall sound, adding to the atmosphere, ever present and discernible, but not dominant in the mix, which gets me to the production which is very clean and works well with this style.  Guitars and drums are dominant in the mix when they need to be but in the quieter moments, the keyboards and piano come to the forefront and the vocals are never lost in either setting.  As for the vocals, there are the clean female vocals which are really work incredibly well as Myriam Schmidt has not only great talent but also a great sense of how to use that talent.  The male vocals, which are sometimes clean, sometimes growled, really seem out of place at times and are not up to par with the female vocals. Continue reading »

Your Chance to Die – “Ex Nihilo”

 Posted by on April 14, 2017 at 23:51  No Responses »
Apr 142017

Your Chance to Die is back with a retooled lineup and a new label, and have taken their “face melting” melodic, technical death metal sound to a new level with Ex Nihilo.

Your Chance to Die was formed nearly 10 years ago now, back in 2007 by current band members Missi and Coca Avila.  As often happens over time, lineups change, people come and go and the current lineup has likely the biggest change any band could have in the addition of a second vocalist.  Joining Missi on vocals now is Som Pluijmers (ex-Cerebral Bore) who, until now, had not recorded with the band but had toured with them, even becoming the lone vocalist for some shows when Missi couldn’t tour.  Ron Dalton on guitars and Thomas White on drums are the other newcomers for Ex Nihilo.  Looking back, one can find evidence of more than two previous full-length albums, but we’ll defer to the band’s official bio that lists Suscitacio Somnus (2011) and The American Dream (2013) as their previous albums, both of which were met with critical acclaim for the intensity behind the music as well as the complex arrangements and outstanding musicianship.  From the start on vocals, Missi, has initially attracted attention for being a female in the genre, but after hearing their releases and seeing them live, the skeptical are quickly won over as she is simply great in the role.  For me seeing them in their early days at Cornerstone Festival, the fact that she was sporting an Antestor shirt put my mind a bit at ease before they even took the stage.  For Ex Nihilo, the band began talking with Dave Ellefson (Megadeth) and Thom Hazaert and signed to EMP Underground the extreme metal imprint for the EMP Label Group and again employed Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me) for recording and used Zack Ohren (Machine Head) for mixing. Continue reading »

My Darkest Time – “The Last”

 Posted by on April 13, 2017 at 20:54  No Responses »
Apr 132017

My Darkest Time is an atmospheric band that blends gothic and doom together. ‘The Last’ is the fourth outing by the band. The band is made up of the duo of founding member and main writer Zarko Atanasov and Marina Atanasova.

To put a foundation down, My Darkest Time has been around for quite some time, debuting with their first album, ‘End Of My Darkest Time’ in 2008. The band has had pretty much a linear growth over the years, and to a degree, ‘The Last’ broadens their footprint of growth, adding a little more depth and colour over previous releases.

This Macedonian band is pretty much your run of the mill atmospheric gothic doom band to put it bluntly. It has an almost deliberate slowness of pace to it, and even though it does have some ggreat touches of piano and orchestral symphonic parts in it, it does not blow me away. It does not capture me and carry me away, which I feel is an important characteristic in music if ones to truly appreciate what the band is doing. Even some amazing solo work from Torbjörn Weinesjö (“Ephrath”) still does not give the album a wow factor. It’s not that I don’t like this kind of music, I love gothic and doom, and allot of my vast musical collection is filled with quite a few gothic and doom bands, I think it my lie in that I feel Marina’s vocals are not extra-ordinary for this genre, and I feel it brings down the instrumental side of the album a bit, which is actually at times quite strong and emotional, where her vocals don’t seem to carry the strength that’s actually needed to marry vocals with instruments. Continue reading »

Kna’an – Orphaned Land & Amaseffer

 Posted by on April 9, 2017 at 21:05  No Responses »
Apr 092017

When the German theatre director, Walter Wayers, approached upon the subject of the biblical story of Abraham in the land of Kna’an, he started to play it out in his head a musical journey in collaboration with Middle eastern folk and metal bands, Orphaned Land and Amaseffer. This paved way for a collaborative effort between the two bands and resulted in an amalgamation of a folky classical sound that transcends many barriers and brings in life to the myth. The album was released on the 26th of August 2016 under the label of Century Media Records.

Orphaned Land is an Israeli Oriental metal pioneer, that have Arabic, Jewish and West Asian Influences, as they use Progressive, doom, death metal and Middle eastern folk music elements in their sound. After going through several line-up changes, the band currently comprises of two of its founding members Kobi Farhi on Vocals and Uri Zelcha on bass. Their music promotes peace and unity within the three main Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Each of their albums have some concept related to two extremes: a meeting of East and West, past and present, light and darkness, and God and Satan.

Amaseffer is an Israeli Progressive metal formed in the year 2004 by the drummer and percussionist Erez Yohanan, and guitarist Yuval Kramer. A year later, a second guitarist Hanan Avramovich joined and completed the line-up. This is also when the band got its name “Amaseffer” – from Hebrew “Am Ha’Sefer” – People of the (holy) book. Amaseffer was formed with the idea of a historical trilogy in mind – to tell the old testament’s story of the Exodus, from the Hebrew slavery period in ancient Egypt, through the years in the desert, and up to the entrance of the twelve tribes of Israel to the promised land of Canaan. Continue reading »