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Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
Interview by Ed MacLaren
Exploding from Russia’s burgeoning metal scene comes Arcane Grail’s latest concept CD “Arya Marga: Ninefold Path to the Innocence”. Equal parts philosophy and spirituality, “Arya Marga” provokes the mind while assaulting the ears. In this interview, vocalists Demether and Natalie take us down the paths to innocence, divulge the secrets to a cohesive band and give us key insights into up-and-coming Russian metal.
Your new CD, “Arya Marga: Ninefold Path to the Innocence”, is lyrically and conceptually dense but it’s ultimately an extremely rewarding listen. Can you offer some insight into the concept behind the CD?
Demether : Yes, our second album is conceptually like the previous one, “Mysteries of the Ancient Charnel”. But if the first CD has the tale-like fairy story about ghosts, kings, inquisition and love in a King-Diamond-like style, the new CD is more serious and non-fairy. The lyrics of Arcane Grail are latently or directly connected nowadays with mythologems of Russian and Indo-Aryan heathenism. There are various themes on the second album but all of them are united in the uniform concept of finding the true Ninefold Noble Path of Life by the Man (“Arya Marga” in Sanskrit– an esoteric term in Vedism and Buddhism) – the revolt against the present and desire to be cleared from all nasty defects of modern human society. And first of all, returning to the sources of mankind, to cleanliness of soul, thoughts, to natural laws, to ancient beliefs, to wisdom of ancestors and to divine condition of human spirit. Musically, we name our style now – Symphonic Extreme Metal Art, which consists of sympho-black, melodic death, and gothic doom as well.
There are nine tracks on “Arya Marga: Nine Paths to Innocence”. Can you delve into the meaning of each path and what tracks are representative of each path? How does each track contribute to the evolution on the path to innocence?
Demether: Yes, nine songs and nine paths. The Ancient Ones said that men needed – in eight paths to the attainment of enlightenment and perfection – wisdom, morals, pure reason, labour, blood-vengeance, honour, kindness and love. The modern man, wallowed in weakness, idiocy, frights, countless diseases, betrayals and lies, is needed in another path, the ninth and the main path – fight! These nine paths can make the man – light and strong, great and wise! This is the path of warriors, the path of Thulean Legatee – Arya Marga, our trip to perfection, our ninefold path to the innocence. And our way to the gods!
About the songs: “Arcane Grail” – WISDOM. The song is absolutely not connected with the Christian concept of the Holy Grail or with the Arthurian legend-cycle about the search for the Grail. The Grail is a much more ancient religious pagan symbol of many Indo-Aryan nations. It is a sacred boiler, a cup, a receptacle of stars, honey of poetry, an elixir of an eternal life. It is created from the Father of All Stones (Alatyr in Slavonic heathenism). It is also a spiritual image necessary for the achievement of an eternal life (unessential, terrestrial), great wisdom, force and cleanliness. This song is devoted to the search of, by disclosing one’s own consciousness, finding a divine condition of the spirit.
“Of Snake and Raven” – MORALS. It is a song, a conversation of wise animals – a raven and the snake – as though occurring at the top of the Mother-Mountain of the World – Meru. They discuss people as they are weak and insignificant, actually. We from ourselves sing how it would be good to become strong, wise, fair, great and strict in the behaviour and principles of these ancient animals. I don’t think that man is the Tsar of Nature.
“Autumn Wed Us, Sinned and Lone” – LOVE. This song is about the love of a man and woman that even death could not separate. The present love is immortal! And that love is the main thing in the world – only with this feeling is there a world!
“Renaissant the Reverie” – LABOUR. A song about my dream of the revival of pagan consciousness in people. It’s about a great work of a body and soul that should be done in this way - revival! It’s about belief in saving love, in virtue of spirit. A song about the dirt of the modern world, perversions of people, about false monotheistic religions imposed on us by people, thirsted authorities and money. That each person can become the god himself, and the bearded dead man on a rotten cross actually is not necessary to anybody!
“Sorrow of Forgotten Pride” – HONOUR. A song about honour: to continue to be a beautiful, clever, perfect person in the modern world, to remember precepts of the ancestors, to love the native land and culture, and that you can die for beloved ones!
“Imprisoned in the Greatest War” – FIGHT. It is a revolution-song! A hymn to the revolt and revival of the old world on the ruins of the modern rotted bastard-society. Though, first of all, each person should win themselves!
“Die Sonnenhymne” – BLOOD-VENGEANCE. One more hymn - this time to Wotan, to the Sun, the Earth. It is an appeal to the old gods to return and take revenge for their desecration!
“Iniquitous Yoke” – KINDNESS. A song about the lot of the magician. About white magic, about the achievement of cleanliness of spirit. About full self-destruction up to a condition of ashes – then to revive like the sun in the universe. That we twirl the stars, instead they us. At least, it should achieve!
“Святой Грааль” – PURE REASON. On the one hand, it is simply a Russian version of the first song. But on the other, the lyrics differ practically on 70%. It is more about the full cleanliness of the mind from the matrix-perverted chains, about unlimited opportunities of sub consciousness of the person and that, eventually, inside of each person there can be a Sacred Grail!
The first track is titled “Arcane Grail”. How do the nine paths to innocence fit into the Arcane Grail world-view?
Demether : Personally, in my life I try to follow only the best roadsides of these paths. Self-perfection is the most important thing in the life of any person. And I do not sing without adducing any proof that does not interest me - by no means. All these ideas - not simply my ideas, but firm belief!
Is your attention to the lyrics primarily to entertain or educate? Perhaps a bit of both?
Demether : Now, only to educate, maybe, to give people some ways for reflection. I do not apply at all for any absolute truths, but all the same I think that I’m personally on a true way to knowledge – the sense of life, heh! Though, under the greater account, all of it is done for self-perfection - all these compositions of verses. But I shall be madly glad, if many of my ideas will be divided by people. It would be desirable that the music of Arcane Grail did people more purely a little bit, not only to release the thoughts from daily cares, but also to direct these thoughts to a channel of struggle with greyness, weakness and despondency.
Demether rips his throat raw alternating between vicious death- and black- metal vocals. Natalie provides soaring vocal lines and gets an excellent solo turn in “Die Sonnenhymne” in contrast with the brutal chaos of the music. How do you create your arrangements musically and vocally to achieve such a balance?
Natalie: I can’t say that we were especially trying very hard to reach such a balance. It happened somehow automatically. In the beginning (it was 2004), I was invited for only one song. The guys liked my voice and we decided to use it in more songs. On the first album, proposals of how better to include my voice were coming from both sides; I mean me and Demether with the band. On the second CD, it happened somehow easier. When we were making new material, we had to check through lots of pieces, samples and melodies which our musicians performed as the best ones for creating songs out of them. We were improvising a lot, trying to glue them all into a kind of composition. Somehow in this improvisation the right vocal lines came– and mostly they don’t need discussion. Mainly, in each song from the second CD, you hear the vocal parts of ours as they came from somewhere above! I can’t remember that we were seriously debating over “you sing here and I sing here”.
Demether: Hmm, in most cases, certainly, we try to transfer the necessary atmosphere of lyrics to various parts of songs. Certainly, all our creativity is deeply conceptual and we think over every second, each cry, and each note thoroughly!
How do you describe the evolution of Arcane Grail since its inception? Where do you see the group progressing musically as well as spiritually?
Demether: The band certainly has grown very much for eight years of existence both by way of music and by way of lyrics. I love our debut album – he’s very interesting and fine – but certainly “Arya Marga” is more skilful. The concept of lyrics now is pleasant to me much more now than with the entertaining Gothic fairy tale on the first. I wrote those lyrics at 19-years-old. For “Arya Marga”, I wrote the verses at the age of 23-25 years and it is a greater difference! Over the last years, Arcane Grail became a much greater and serious spiritual project – a part of my blood and spirit! And musically, let our listeners judge us. I think for myself we are needed to develop and develop, sure!
Several band members have recently left the band after many years of contributions to the Arcane Grail collective. How does this type of upheaval impact the collective and how does the group recover?
Demether : Yes, the truth is that during the release of an album some musicians left us because of our serious splits by the way of music. They did not wish to play neither metal nor death or black or sympho any more. Therefore, their dismissal, in any case, goes on to be an advantage to our band which is going to precisely continue to play the chosen stylistic direction. Unfortunately, because of their leaving there was some stupor in the concert activity of Arcane Grail while we searched for new musicians and we learned with them the songs and so forth. While we are just in this process, we will recover, and I promise, we shall soon return to kick all!
Natalie: Well, of course it made a kind of damage, we knew that the gone members had other projects, but never expected that they could leave us so suddenly. Demether started to search for new band mates on his own – I was quite far from this – and he never asked for any help. As a result there are new guys from Demether’s second band. I have to admit that the new line-up hasn’t performed the live performance yet.
Moving forward as a collective what are the key ingredients to successful group chemistry?
Demether: Certainly, I think there should be a friendship in a group, the general interests, and a necessary love of each musician for such music. In general, a mutual understanding.
Natalie: I think that it’s also the freedom for the demonstration of one’s own point of view for the music we make. Each member has to tell about any ideas, if he has them. And from the other side it’s pure diplomacy.
Arcane Grail is making an increasing impact outside Russian borders. How do you see your path to world domination?
Natalie: Since I’m married and mostly live in Germany, I guess Demether waits then I will find out how we get to Wacken Open Air or Summerbreeze and make everybody deaf with Demether’s loud and evil screams!
Demether: Seriously, we try as much as possible to promote ourselves in Europe and America so that we can go on a small tour in Europe in the near future. It would be desirable very much to win round some concert promoters. And we do not leave hope to be released on a European label. I think all will be ok!
What can you tell us about the current Russian scene and what other bands should we be looking out for?
Demether : In Russia, in the last five years, the dawn of metal has begun at last. There were enough very decent studios owing to which now it is easy to record at the European level. But the deal is not only in sound. Really, there were many of the most worthy bands playing high-quality, interesting, and original metal music. It would be desirable to name the following bands: Ambehr – Majestic ethnic melodic death with screaming and soprano; Blackthorn – All-female symphonic dramatic black metal, beautiful and haunting, with a unique soprano; Atoll Nerat – Unique epic sympho-black with an atmosphere of Indian Toltecs; Hieronymus Bosch – Smart progressive-death; Thelema – Jazz-death; Non Immemor Mei – Amazing original post-doom; Kartikeya – Brutal death on the basis of the Indian music; Dorgmooth – Superb melodic death; Astel Oscora – Beautiful and magic sympho-black with the atmosphere of Alice in Wonderland; Welicoruss – Magnificent epic sympho-folk-black; Tantal – They can easy out do Arch Enemy and The Agonist; Little Dead Bertha – Fine sympho-black/melodic-death with screaming and a stunning soprano; Wine from Tears – Excellent doom-death; Fferyllt – Celtic metal with the most powerful female folk-vocal; Id:Vision – Absolutely mad industrial-techno-black; Atra Mustum – Perhaps, one of the best representatives of gothic-sympho-blacks in the world; Skylord – My second band (If you don’t blow your own horn, no one will do it for you!), playing super-blasting and supermelodious sympho-black; Diathra – Excellent gothic metal band; Scrambled Defuncts – Improbable sympho-brutal-death; Crystal Abyss – Mystical sympho-black; Solerrain – Children of Bodoms, playing better than Laiho and company a hundred times; Zymotic Symphony – Original sympho-melodic death with an opera bass vocal and growling; Ruthless Order – An improbable mix of hard-rock and melodic death with one of the best vocalists in metal, five octaves with all possible variants in extreme and classical metal vocal-genres; Arcana Imperia – Very interesting avant-garde sympho-death; Ordalion – Original Russian sympho-black. And, certainly, it is possible to list much of our most interesting pagan metal bands, which similarities in the world are not present: Arkona, Butterfly Tempe, Nevid, Severnye Vrata, Smuta, Natural Spirit, Temnozor, Nebokray, Tverd, Svarga, Kroda and many others. As you see, many good bands. Besides it is not the full list. I’m really a patriot of our metal scene – over the last five years it deserves it.
Where does Arcane Grail fit into the current Russian metal scene? Do you consider yourselves veterans? What advice do you have for up-and-coming Russian bands?
Natalie : Well, from one side we’ve existed already for quite a while – after I joined in 2004 more than five years passed. The band started in 2001 itself. And we can really say that we are veterans, but from the other side there are bands which have existed much longer and play music which in some part touch our style. So, I even don’t know if we should or can say that we are veterans. About the new-comers, honestly, I have no positive thoughts. There are many bands (except the bands in “Demether’s List”) where each new one thinks it’s more cool than all the others, making fan clubs of the band and each member separately and without a shade of shame naming these people of 18- or 19-years-old “Keyplayer-Virtuoso”. Plus, they indeed pay for the possibility to warm up for such bands as Norther, Dark Moor and others. So, I would say to them – less words and more work on your own… But I’m sure they would not listen and will buy another possibility to warm up for next foreign band which will come to Moscow.
Demether : Heh, Natalie is right –but I think that it’s the same in other European countries too. But the real gold will be sifted in the sea of sand all the same – this is metal. So, to good young metal bands (and for some people we are valid veterans – though I do not consider us so) I advise more concentration, professionalism, a thirst to create something new. And still – when hiring designers of booklets, and in general record and cover-artwork, only hire known professionals!
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
An interview with Alissa White-Gluz from The Agonist.
No, I didn’t. Its just something I started doing and excelling at.
Did you always want to become a singer?
I have never taken singing lessons, and I try to keep my whole body in healthy shape to keep my vocal cords healthy too.
You use both clean vocals and metal growls for The Agonist. Which style do you prefer?
I need a bit of both, I would be bored with just one style.
And to what kind of music do you listen yourself?
Everything but country!
And who are your favourite bands and musicians?
Devin Townsend, Gwen Stefani, Muse, Arch Enemy, etc.
Did you have any other bands before The Agonist & Tempest and/or are you active in any other bands now besides The Agonist?
I had 2 other bands besides this one, but right now this is my only priority musically.
Is it easy to combine your personal life with The Agonist?
Not at all! I’m sure most musicians will agree.
Besides your work with The Agonist we could also see you in other media the last years: You were featured as one of Revolver’s Hottest Chicks in Metal in 2007. As a photographer I’m the last one to complain about good looking women onstage but you will never hear of James Hetfield being chosen as “Hottest hunk in metal” Are you not afraid that this will set the place of women in metal back to where it was during the eighties: eye candy for glam rock videos and a fresh xxx backstage*?
Hahaha well to be honest, in the 80’s I was 5 years old, but it seems that the men were just as eye-candy-ish as the women! I think it’s debatable, but strong women allowing themselves to be feminine and sexy sends a STRONGER message than one who thinks she has to be masculine to be strong. We are having our cake and eating it too.
Why did you change the name of the band into The Agonist and what is the idea behind the name of the band?
We switched the name to avoid confusions with other bands called Tempest. An agonist is a drug used to enduce feeling in patients, like the opposite of an anesthetic, and is also the name for the character torn between good and evil in the literary sense.
A lot of bands today describes themselves as metalcore. How would you describe your music?
Weird metal -go listen.
Is song writing teamwork in The Agonist or is there one mastermind who writes the lyrics and music?
The song writing is split between Danny and I. I write all the vocal patterns, harmonies, rhythms, lyrics, and Danny writes the instrumental.
And where do you and the band get the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Anywhere and everywhere.
“Lullabies for The Dormant Mind” is your second album. What have you done different with this album compared to “Once Only Imagined”?
We are all very different people and musicians and we simply ended up, as a result, creating different music.
The album is out for some time now. How did the media and the fans receive the album?
Very well, we are happy!
And can you tell us something about the songs on the album?
They were all struggles and successes in my mind.
“Monochromatic Stains” is a Dark Tranquility cover. Why did you choose this song as a cover and is there any change it will appear on another album than the Japanese release?
We actually recorded that song for a CM compilation… just for fun.
Was is difficult to do “Swan Lake”?
Yes, but very rewarding.
What are your favourite songs on the album?
“Thank You, Pain”, “…and Their Eulogies Sang Me to Sleep”, “The Tempest”, “Birds Elope With the Sun”, “Martyr Art”… all of them!
Are there any plans for a tour in Europe and what else can we expect from The Agonist in the future?
We are DYING to come to Europe… so please help us get there!
And the last question: is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
Buy our albums and request us everywhere you go so we can come to Europe…please! Thanks ;)
Label : Nuclear Blast Records
Review by Tony Cannella
The long running Norwegian Symphonic/Gothic Metal band Sirenia has always managed to write good songs, going all the way back to their 2002 debut, “At Sixes and Sevens” right on up through their excellent 2009 release “The 13th Floor” – which was the first album to feature new vocalist Ailyn. Now, the band returns with their fifth full-length release “The Enigma of Life”. Sirenia has always done a great in incorporating choirs and symphony elements into their music and “The Enigma of Life” is no different, they also don’t stray too far from what their fans love about them. As on their previous album, vocalist Ailyn does a great job throughout the course of “The Enigma of Life”. The melodically charged opener “The End of It All” begins things, with a big symphonic arrangement and a wickedly infectious chorus and melody. That is pretty much what you can expect on “The Enigma of Life”, plenty of well written songs, with thoughtful and articulate lyrics. Morten Veland adds his vocals (both harsh and clean) to the mix at certain points throughout the CD. “Fallen Angel”, “All My Dreams” and “Darkened Days to Come” are three more highlights, while the album is concluded by my favorite song “The Enigma of Life”, which ends the CD on a definite high. It is good to see that Sirenia continues to grow and mature. With Ailyn firmly entrenched now and fitting in quite well in the vocalist role, “The Enigma of Life” is sure to please die-hard fans and just may acquire Sirenia some well deserved new fans as well.
Rating - 87/100
Review by Tony Cannella
Karkaos are an interesting band to come out of Canada. On their debut 6-song, 25-minute EP the band comes at you fast and heavy with an aggressive metal sound. Their vocalist Veronica Ortiz Rodriguez does an excellent job in going from death growls to clean vocals ala Alissa White Glutz from another Canadian band The Agonist. Karkaos has been described as Death Metal or Metalcore which I’m not sure is fully accurate. It no doubt stems from the vocals – even though Veronica Ortiz Rodriguez has way more to offer than just senseless death grunts, you can just feel the aggression in her voice. Musically there is a bit of a classic metal influence, some guitar harmonies and a full time keyboardist which is rare for this type of band. Sure “In Burning Skies” is pretty much straight forward, no fooling around metal, but they also add some melodic touches into the mix. After the brief intro “Catharsis”, Karkaos launch into the aggressive “Awaiting the Clock’s Last Turn”. This is the perfect introduction to Karkaos. The classic metal riffs are there and Veronica is an excellent front woman who packs plenty of power in her voice. Next we have “Ashes”, which is slower in tempo but still heavy and the inclusion of keyboards gives the song a pretty cool atmosphere. There are also some clean male vocals included in this song. “The Last Stand” is next and is my favorite. It starts off with a bit of a Celtic influence before blasting into full on heaviness. The final two songs “Lie for a Lie” and “The Tempest” brings “In Burning Skies” to satisfying conclusion. While “In Burning Skies” is just a taste of what Karkaos has to offer. The real test however, is when they release a full-length album to see if they can sustain the level of consistency on “In Burning Skies”. “In Burning Skies” is good – not great – but it is a nice start for this young Canadian band.
Rating - 80/100
Review by Tony Cannella & Luisa Mercier
Sweden’s Black Oak is a tad bit different than a lot of metal these days. Okay, they are a lot different and difficult to describe. The bands diverse influences range from Jazz, Death Metal, Hardcore, Hard Rock, Pop, Prog Rock and of course metal. All of those influences play a factor on the self-titled EP from Black Oak. From the opening intro “Prescence” you get a sense that you are in for something unique. That is exactly the case with the opening track “How Does It Feel To Live Like It’s Too Late”. Vocalist Samuela Burenstrand has a diverse vocal style, she is like a cross between Hayley Williams of Paramore and Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy. That’s a pretty broad range and she incorporates both styles into her singing. The next track “Our Time Is Now” is perhaps the most mainstream song on an album that is definitely not mainstream. Musically, Black Oak displays a lot of talent and the songs are intricately written and performed. “Our Time Is Now” definitely became my favorite song and it is the one song that has an immediate impact. “City Lights” is another cool track as Samuela alternates between her more commercial vocals and her harsh death metal style, the contrast is quite interesting and appealing. The EP is completed by the “Loop of Oy”. At almost 7-minutes this is the longest song on this 26-minute EP and really draws things to a close with authority. Black Oak is a difficult band to categorize. I’m sure they would fit comfortably in a number of different genres. You can see for yourself, this EP is available as a free download on their official site. Black Oak is apparently working on new material for a full-length.
Rating - 79/100
The debut EP of this young Swedish band is opened by a creepy intro. “Prescence” is full of disturbing noises, electronics, distorted vocals almost resembling and android and suggests us the dark mood that we will find throughout the record. The following “How Does It Feel to Live Like It’s Too Late” starts with a prog/avantgarde approach while Samuéla, Emil e Niklas sing, mixing clean female vocals, growls and male vocals. She shows a certain versatility since she can scream, but also be a lot softer. I’d say there is also a certain metalcore influence towards the end of the track. 100% prog rock is the beginning of “Our Time Is Now”, while the track is a mix of straightforward rock, heavy metal and progressive with a quite anthemic chorus. A video has been shot for “City Lights” where again progressive (which apparently is a big influence on the band), metalcore and melodic metal mix to give birth to a catchy song with an interesting chorus. Best choice as a single. In the vein of the previous ones is also the closing track “Loop of Oy”, very melodic, but with metalcore moments. I also got the booklet with the album and I can say that the lyrics show a certain social effort, a plead to fight, to improve our world. The potential of this band is quite interesting. I am eager to listen to a future full-length release.
Rating - 70/100
Label : Solitude Productions
Review by Si Smith
Norway’s death/doomers Funeral have been around for a while now, although we haven’t heard from them since 2008’s “As Light Does the Shadow”. The album’s opener “Hunger” begins with a gentle melody accompanied by the trademark harmony vocals - harmony that is Frode’s eventually branching off into doleful lead vocals. Female vocals have always been a part of Funeral’s repertoire and for this album they are saved for the album’s end. Accompaniment is in the form of picked single notes and low-end chords that deftly creates their sound which is almost constant throughout the CD. Second track “God” is of a similar slow pace to track one, and occupies more or less the same acoustic territory. Some growling riffs punctuate the general funereal terrain of the song. Not as deathly slow as some bands of the genre, the lyrics are elucidated clearly enough to retain the listener’s interest. Again the focus is on harmonies, carrying us forward on a wave of solemnity. “Your Pain Is Mine” begins at the same pace once again, although slower interludes allow us to open our eyes to see wider vistas alongside the track’s main meandering. With “The Poison” acoustic soundscapes and an initially terser vocal style grant us new visions, after which the traditional soundscape returns and the pace quickens slightly, only to return us to the former once again. The lyrical content of the clean vocals again manages to lift the track above the dark depths we see below, until “Dancing in a Liquid Veil” introduces us to broader keyboard backing and synth backdrops. Grinding low guitar solo lines mix with the keyboards to usher in the remainder of this nine and a half minute epic. “How Death May Linger” once again mixes guitar and keyboard to create another nine and a half minute extravaganza. At this point to some listeners individual tracks may not appear overly distinguishable from others, but this is an album of completeness. The whole experience is neccessary to understand the album, even if at moments we forget quite where we are in the general scheme of things. “Father” somehow appears more orchestral, whilst “Blood from the soil” has some memorable moments. Final track “Wrapped All in Woe” is joined by the female vocals also, as choral backdrop and as ethereal main vocals. This appears to inject new life into the formula, offering a broader listening experience as male spoken vocals also intersperse between female melodies. In short, this album does what it says on the tin. It is slow paced doom metal, varying very little in pace but within that framework every nuance is made as beautiful as possible in its simplicity, whether it be male harmonies or female chorals. An album enjoyed more by listening to the whole than by analysing every track, I think. Just as a symphony is complete across its moevments, this can be seen as a doom symphony across nine movements. Don’t overthink it or you might lose the enjoyment of the entireity. A doom masterpiece of our times.
Rating - 80/100
Label : Casket Music
Review by Tony Cannella
Germany’s Deadend in Venice combine melodic Death Metal with old school Thrash riffs to create a 9-song, 32-minute powerhouse of a debut, that hits you hard, fast and straight between the eyes, never wasting time before reaching its conclusion. The band features the duel lead vocals of clean female singer Annabell Klein and the more aggressive style of Christian Litzba. Comparisons are sure to be drawn to another band that excels at melodic death, namely Arch Enemy. Those similarities are there, but the old school thrash influences also surface throughout the debut, which is titled “See You on the Ground”. The fact that “See You on the Ground” clocks in at a brisk 32-minutes means that there is very little wasted moments on the album. From the ferocity of the opening track “Hate Sweet Hate”, Deadend in Venice know only one direction and that is full-on heaviness. The duel vocals of Annabell and Christian are well done goes along with the Death/Thrash style riffs very well. The power riffing opens the next track “Personal Decay”. The melodicism that this band is capable of is on full display here, primarily with the vocals of Annabell. Some of the guitar riffs and the way songs are presented brings me back to 80s style Thrash Metal, a perfect example of this is the 3rd track “Brain Execution”. Other highlights include: “War”, “Long Way Home”, “The Monkey in My Closet”, “Dirty Little Princess” and the great album closer “Tomorrow Never Comes”. I never expected what awaited me when I put on “See You on the Ground”. Deadend in Venice has delivered a solid, no compromising, aggressive, adrenaline filled debut that never fails to impressive throughout it’s all too short playing time.
Rating - 90/100
Review by Tony Cannella
From Portugal, Chaos in Paradise had previously released a 4-song demo. They now return with a 6-song 26-minute EP called “Let the Bliss Remain”. Their style blends straight forward heavy metal with aggressive thrash metal like rhythms. After opening with the 2 ½ minute intro “Inertia”, Chaos in Paradise comes tearing out of the gates strong with “Sign of Deliverance”. Lead vocalist Sara Valente alternates between a clean vocal style and a more aggressive approach ala Maria Brink from In This Moment or Alissa from The Agonist. It is a pretty forceful approach and packs a huge impact on songs like “Awareness”, “The Hunter” and “Beyond the Horizon”. One thing is for certain, there is no shortage of energy or aggression on “Let the Bliss Remain”. On “Let the Bliss Remain”, Chaos in Paradise picks up where their demo left off. With a demo and an EP under their belt, hopefully a full-length isn’t too far off in the future for this cool Portuguese band.
Rating - 75/100
Label : STF Records
Review by Tony Cannella
From Spain, Ankor has previously released a full-length album and an EP which were both sung in their native Spanish language. Now Ankor returns with their English language debut “My Own Angel”, and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprise with their mixture of intensely aggressive music combined with an accessible almost pop style. The band has three vocalists and the aggression comes from the belligerent vocals of Julio A. Lopez as Rosa de la Cruz provides the perfect foil with clean vocal style which gives the songs some accessibility. Guitarist David Romeu is also there to contribute some clean male vocals. Musically, they can go in different directions, from aggressive to accessible and even a tiny bit of prog thanks to their keyboard sound. The opening track, “Remaining” gets things started aggressively, but even though this is a very heavy song that features the aggressive male vocals, it also gives the listener a taste of the melodicism that this band is capable of, thanks to Rosa’s clean singing style. The guitar harmonies kick off the next track “Completely Frozen” which turned out to be one the best as it just gallops along until it reaches its conclusion. Other highlights include: “It Would Be Easier” (featuring clean male vocals in conjunction with Rosa’s), “No Matter What” and “Against the Ground”. “My Own Angel” by Ankor may seem a bit uneven at times, but there is enough good stuff here to pique the interest of metal fans everywhere.
Rating - 76/100
Label : Spinefarm Records/Universal
Review by Tony Cannella
For a band that has yet to release a full-length album, there is an incredible buzz surrounding the Swedish/Danish outfit Amaranthe. Perhaps it is the fact that female singer Elise Ryd toured with American/Norwegian power metallers Kamelot that helped get the band some press. Whatever the case, Amaranthe have just issued their self-titled full-length debut via Spinefarm. With their debut album, it is time to see what all the fuss has been about. Amaranthe has previously released a 5-song demo in 2009, now that has morphed into their first official full-length album. All of the songs that were on their demo show up here on this release. Amaranthe starts with the up-tempo Stratovarius style power metal of “Leave Everything Behind”. Instantly the listener is smacked with the three different vocal styles that Amaranthe employs. In addition to the crystal clear vocals that Elise brings to the table, you also get harsh vocals by Andy Solvestrom and clean metal style male vocals courtesy of Jake E Berg. “Leave Everything Behind” is a strong opener that is one of the best songs presented here. “Hunger” keeps things up-tempo and it is easy to see why this was chosen as the bands first video clip. “1,000,000 Light Years” is next and is another up-tempo number that quickly became a huge highlight and is another favorite. “Automatic” features a fast paced grinding the guitar riff, which drives this one and helps to make this one of the more aggressive tracks. “Amaranthine” quickly became another favorite, part ballad, part mid-tempo this is definitely one the tracks that stood out. Other highlights that can be heard on this 42-minutes worth of infectious Power Metal are: “My Transition”, “Rain”, “Director’s Cut” and the closer “Serendipity”. With three vastly different vocal styles, it would be easy for things to devolve into an incoherent mess, but that is not the case here each singer delivers equally to the overall power on the CD. Amaranthe has delivered possibly the finest debuts I have heard so far this year, in fact I would say that maybe this is one of the best albums I have heard all year, debut or not. I can’t remember when I have been this excited about a debut.
Rating - 95/100