Leah – “The Quest”

 Posted by on September 18, 2018 at 17:05  No Responses »
Sep 182018
 

Leah returns with The Quest, the long awaited follow up to Kings & Queens bringing back essentially the same band as before but shifting the sound a bit more toward the symphonic in a collection of songs that highlight her incredible voice against a lush orchestral backdrop.

The Scottish and Irish heritage of Canadian Leah McHenry has shown through in here previous releases going all the way back to her debut Of Earth and Angels in 2012, a project she recorded and produced herself. Following that release and the critical acclaim it received, Lead release two ep’s in 2013 and then went on to record the full length Kings & Queens in 2015.  For The Quest, Leah brought back her core band from Kings & Queens of Timo Somers (guitars, arrangements), Barend Courbois (bass), and Sander Zoer (drums) as well as special guests Chen Balbus (Orphaned Land) and Troy Donockley (Nightwish). Adding in some more industry heavyweights, the album was mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen [Volbeat, Amaranthe, Evergrey].

According to Leah, the concept for The Quest is very simple:

We’re all on a journey, and sometimes we lose our way. There are adventures, wildernesses, treasures, monsters, looters, people out to send us down the wrong path. Through it all, we must grow in wisdom and experience, find our compass once again and find our way back to the true path in order to reach our full potential: our destiny. Continue reading »

Abandoned by Bears – “Headstorm”

 Posted by on September 8, 2018 at 13:11  No Responses »
Sep 082018
 

Sweden’s Abandoned by Bears return with their second album, Headstorm,  a mix of individual pop punk and metalcore songs and songs that blend the two styles.

Abandoned by Bears have been together as a band since 2012 and live scattered across Sweden, which undoubtedly makes for some challenges in recording.  For Headstorm, the band opted to have Buster Odeholm (Impact Studios) handle the mixing and mastering in contrast to their previous work where the band handled everything.  Even the recording itself had a good bit of variety as the band used multiple studios in Malmo and Trelleborg. With the release of the album on August 24th, the band kicks off a US tour with support from Light Up the Sky, Boys of Fall, and We Were Sharks.

Interestingly, Abandoned by Bears have chosen the first and last tracks off Headstorm to be videos for the album.  The opening track “So Far Gone” is over the top pop punk along the lines of Blink-182, Good Charlotte,  and numerous others and the from a style standpoint, there are brief glimpses of guitars that seem a bit too heavy and maybe that should have been my tip off to what was to come.  In sharp contrast is the last track “Greyscale” which is full on metalcore complete with the chugging deep riff expected from a 7- or 8-string guitar.  Gone are the syrupy bright vocals, replaced with deep growled screams and lines like “Back the f*&^ up…” and breakdowns that sound familiar to anyone who has listened to the genre. Continue reading »

Vials of Wrath – “Ataraxia”

 Posted by on September 6, 2018 at 16:33  No Responses »
Sep 062018
 

Vials of Wrath return with an interim ep to tide us all over until the next full length is released.  Every superlative written about the first two VoW releases applies here, but there is even more as the overall tone seems a bit brighter and the compositions are structurally different giving a fresh sound that is still recognizable as VoW.

Atmospheric, ambient black metal is a genre that seems to combine incompatible elements and perhaps that is why when done well, it simply works. Vials of Wrath has continually supplied excellent music sine the first release, Seeking Refuge, which began in the fall of 2009 when DC Mills, wanted to write Bible-based music in the vein of atmospheric black metal similar to Agalloch, Alcest, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Drudkh.  Those who follow the former Bloodline Severed guitarist on social media have undoubtedly seen the beautiful, raw, pictures Mills has taken of the Smoky Mountains and local forest and with those images in mind, the songs provide the perfect accompanying soundtrack, much like how Swedish/Norwegian black/death metal conjures up the images and feel of winter.

Ever the skeptic, I went into the first album thinking I was going to hate it, but found myself instantly drawn in and then with Days Without Names there was a further progression in everything that was good in Seeking Refuge.  So, without knowing the backstory behind Ataraxia, my expectations were high and true to form, the only disappointment was that this is just a 3 song, 18 minute ep.  Later I learned that this ep was actually older material that wasn’t ever going to be released.  Sonically, the overall tone is much brighter than Seeking Refuge and Days Without Names and as Mills put it the songs “are not indicative of where I am currently.”   Continue reading »

R.A.I.D. – “The Strong Survive”

 Posted by on September 2, 2018 at 22:59  No Responses »
Sep 022018
 

It gives me immense pleasure to introduce you to the newest old school hardcore band reigning in from Hyderabad, India – R.A.I.D (Rueban and The Imperium Division). Formed in June 2016, the debut band has signed up with Rottweiler Records, and have released their debut album “The Strong Survive” early July this year. Having seen a few line-up changes over the years, the band (the brain child of vocalist Rueban Issac) describes themselves as “When one thinks of a raid, the word generally conjures thoughts of a sudden attack or assault on an enemy as in warfare. The implication is that a counter threat or forceful action is being levied against a previous assailant.”

The band lists out a number of influences which includes Madball, Suicidal Tendencies, Agnostic Front, Terror, Snapcase and Hatebreed. Lyrically, R.A.I.D focuses on the classic ethos of hardcore, PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) with the added message of Hope, Strength and Salvation through the teachings of Jesus Christ. R.A.I.D strives to further breathe fresh music into a generic scene, pushing both music and lyrics to the fullest potential.

Without much ado, I plug in my earphones and with the flick of a matchstick delve into this debut record. The first track, “Detonate” literally true to its name, explodes with hammering riffs and sets the groove on. The guitar tone is rugged and riffs are progressive, accentuated equally with raw growls and makes one groove to the beats. Next up we have, “Soul of a Lion” which takes no time to grab your attention with a catchy riff and continues with the same energy as that of its predecessor. What was peculiar about this song was the interlude that introduces us to the odd time breaks and builds up intensity to outleash brutal madness, the guitar solo did its magic too. Continue reading »

Aug 302018
 

Sit back and put your feet up when you listen to “Fist of the Seven Stars – Act 2 (Hokuto Brothers)”. Gabriels, a composer and keyboardist from Italy, creates musical stories on a grand scale. Some of you may be familiar with his rock opera, Prophecy, dedicated to the victims of the September 11 attacks in the United States. He is also known as a seasoned session musician, having served as arranger and keyboardist on amongst others, the “Vivaldi Metal Project”. For this album, he again involves a large cast of talented performers to continue the story inspired by “Hokuto no Ken”, a Japanese anime by Tetsuo Hara and Buronson.

One thing is for sure, he makes the keyboards wail! When I listen to this album, and appreciate how sweeping a production this is, I cannot help but think of Finnish band, Dark Sarah. While Dark Sarah is more clearly symphonic in its brand of metal, both bands share what I would call an “old world grandeur”. This lavishness is evident for me in a track like “End of Cobra”. I truly enjoy the layered vocals, the massive synths and that guitar solo – out of this world! It’s like this production would be at home in both a stadium and in a theatre, with elaborate costumes and kick ass lighting design. Continue reading »