[review] AMARANTHE – Massive Addictive (2014)

# AMARANTHE - Massive Addictive [2014]

Massive Addictive
(Spinefarm Records / 2014)

How are you supposed to follow an album so well received by critics and fans alike, one that made the top places in the charts, including a number one position at the U.S. iTunes Metal Chart? Is there some kind of secret formula or an elaborate dance you have to take part in, before entering the studio and give form to another record and refresh your presence within the global metal metal scene? I’m not in position to know what’s going on when the studio doors close and work gets underway, but judging by the way AMARANTHE’s third release is sounding right now, I’m guessing they have some pretty good insight on the tricks of the trade! This sounds like another winner!

Even if I mentioned the ‘right formula’ as a metaphor, one thing’s for sure, AMARANTHE have developed their sound in such a way we can easily pin point the hard edges they have successfully trimmed and tamed to their advantage. Melodies that sound bigger than life, choruses you will surely remember once the songs are over, riffs that go hand in hand whether you’re a metal fan or a hard rock believer! There’s also the vocal dynamics, divided by no less than 3 different singers, each one with his own approach and delivery, giving every song a strong identity! When all this comes into place, maybe they are compelled to perform that elaborate dance with a secret handshake on the side.

Now, even with the previous success AMARANTHE has had with the previous album, “The Nexus”, this doesn’t mean they’ll hit higher ground with every metal fan around the block, once this new piece, “Massive Addicitive” starts hitting them left and right! There’s an obvious pop sensibility in many of these songs and you can find yourself in a melodic dilemma trying to decide if this is closer to the power metal arrangements or to the radio friendly pop-rock of present days. There’s plenty of ammo to make anyone fire in any direction, if you’re keen to that kind of entertainment, but if you’re just an avid heavy music fan, I’m sure you’ll find something for please your pleasures in the balance between both sides of the fence.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] WARSTORM – Goatspel (2014)

# WARSTORM - Goatspel (2014)

(Earthquake Terror Noise / 2014)

WARSTORM is a young Italian band filled with boiling young blood, ready and willing to make a name for themselves in the ever competitive world of thrash metal! For what I’ve been told, these Busto Arsizio natives were set on taking the Lamb of God and Pantera road to metal immortality but, judging by what we’ve got on the six tracks gathered on “Goatspel”, I’m glad that plan didn’t came out of the drawing desk! Let’s be blunt about it, bands like those two are a dime a dozen and most of the time they’re not that great. Also, I never was that keen on Pantera! Sue me.

WARTORN sound more like they’ve been on a Bay Area thrash binge and there was no way around it when it came down to write a few songs! This isn’t to say they’ve somewhat mastered the whole scene emulation, but they sure have a certain spirit embedded in these tracks! There are a couple of missteps along the way, one of them being, in my opinion, the lengthy title track closing the record. This view could be influenced by not being sure if we’re dealing with some kind of conceptual opus and this song is supposed to be the narrative’s conclusion or not, but I think we could be without the 10 minute long thrash songs, especially if you can sum up the best parts in less than half that time, but I’m no composition expert and this is just my opinion! There’s also a moment in ‘Checkmate for Mankind’ where we jump from a high energy bit to what seems, at first, to be a minstrel playing harp, which eventually develops into a guitar solo! Unfortunately, not a good one! Sorry.

But, apart from those two little bumps, one can look at “Goatspel” as a positive effort from these youngsters. Bear in mind that we’re talking about the debut album from a band who took its first steps in 2011, so it’s only natural to believe that time will help to tighten their whole sound together and provide a more solid and fierce delivery, because we can see it there, waiting to grow and expand! Treat yourself with a few minutes of ‘Cursed’ or ‘Relentless Possession’ and you’ll see what I mean.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] REVONTULET – Hear Me (2014)

# REVONTULET - hear me [2014]

Hear Me
(Arcus Records / 2014)

The symphonic metal scene is a very tricky neighborhood to be showing your colors around and try to leave a mark. You have to be very proficient and master a whole range of topics in composition, engaging tempos and melodies, not to mention a great deal of technique in your instrument of choice or voice, if that be the case! Failing in any of these items (small examples among others) will risk your position in the grandiose and epic battlefield where classical music encounters the realm of metal!

I’m not educated enough in this genre to account for the greatness or lack of its presence in such pieces of work as “Hear Me”, the debut album from the Russian project REVONTULET, born from the heart and mind of Alexandra Revontulet, the voice we can hear through-out the eight songs, she is also responsible for all the writing, composition and orchestration! The other permanent member of this symphonic vessel is Segey Zorg (drums), who has been on board since the beginning of this adventure! Every other instrument is handled by session musicians.

REVONTULET presents their music in a mild manner form, almost never getting over the top with the theatrics so common with other bands who wear the same tones on their robes. Alexandra’s voice is very soft and secure and she never undergoes in any of those diva rants, trying to show off her vocal skills while adding nothing to the song itself. By the contrary, it seems that the focus here is on the songs rather than the lengthy display of skill. The impression we get when getting to the last song, the title track, is that we’ve been treated to a fairytale, narrated by a beautiful singing voice.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] THYRUZ – Svik (2014)

# THYRUZ - svik [2014]

(independent / 2014)

This album has been on my current playlist for a while and every time it gets played it thrills me with almost the same sense of wonder that got me the first time! THYRUZ have been around since 1999, but I haven’t got a hold of any of their previous releases, five demos (!) and two full length albums that came out in a ten year period, previous to this latest record! They come from Eidsvoll, Norway, and play black metal, like you could almost guess coming from that particular part of Europe! So what can make “Svik” an album to get back more than the usual recommended amount of times? Great songwriting skills and an all-around frightening ambience!

I think that was one of the main things that made me really grab my ears to these six songs, the sense of danger and the way you can almost touch the darkness embedded into the words and music of ‘Dødsriket’ or ‘All Flesh’! You can also feel the cold breath of the underworld and the pain it reserves for those who dwell oblivious into THYRUZ universe of shadows and mist! The closing mantra, ‘Darkness Illuminates All’, is as evil in musical form as one of the previous declarations in ‘The Final Holocaust’; it scatters fear into words and sounds!

Finding a good balance between the grimness and the overall composition has always been kind of a quest to me, when it comes to black metal and even in other similar genres. Trying to find the riffs, the tempos and transitions that go along with the images painted in your mind with lyrics spewed with what sometimes feel like the true voices from Hell, is not as easy as you might think when looking at the immense sea of metal of the darkest kind being produced all over the world! In my book, THYRUZ have really hit the nail with “Svik”!

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] THYRIEN – Hymns of the Mortals: Songs from the North (2014)

# THYRIEN - Hymns of the Mortals - Songs from the North [2014]

Hymns of the Mortals – Songs from the North
(Massacre Records / 2014)

Seven years after their debut release, THYRIEN returns with “Hymns of the Mortals – Songs from the North, a full-length album of their melodic death metal brand filled with melodies and all-around folk ambience! They also take a sip at some more darkened settings and at times let the whole surroundings be influenced with the sort of black metal you can find in the more melodic of the Scandinavian nights.

THYRIEN re-recorded a few of their songs already released in “The Frozen North” EP, and we can see that the mentioned influences were already present by that time. Songs like ‘Deathwish’ have both the death metal and the folk leanings attached, as do ‘The Frozen North’, while on the other hand ‘Eternal Journey’ displays the kind of songwriting present in some of their melodic black metal peers around! ‘Forest is My Throne’, one of the new songs featured in this album, further underlines this kind of background, inserting some very folksy guitar leads in what could be described as a good melo black metal track! The album closes with a cover for the song ‘Tinasormus’ (a Janne Hurme original).

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] THY FLESH – Thymiama Mannan (2014)

# THY FLESH - Thymiama Mannan [2014]

Thymiama Mannan
(Odium Records / 2014)

This band really turned their focus on a whole different direction when they returned in 2011, after a six year hiatus, leaving behind their thrash metal sound and their first demo, “Concept for the Devil”, and emerging as a black metal trio with Athan (drums) featured as the one remaining member from the original line-up! Athan is also the author of the book “Ritual Poetry”, in which this album was inspired!

THY FLESH presents this album as a worthy piece of Hellenic black metal enough to revive the genre for the coming aeon and I’m no position to refute this argument! I am not aware of the present moribund state of black metal in Greece or if things have indeed come to that extent! On the other hand, through the years I’ve taught myself to appreciate the kind of an almost unique identity most bands coming from the Mediterranean islands have drenched their music in, turning it fresh and new, something most avid music fans are always on the prowl, even if you’re talking about the dark and fetid realms of black metal! Even in darkness you need to find your appeal!

Although I can’t quite pin “Thymiama Mannan” as a typical and plain Hellenic black metal (I think there’s way more Northern European influences here), I sure am not going to disdain it as the extreme metal piece it represents. The ever present typical harshness and the right amount of disguised harmonies can amount to a couple of conscious play repeats, especially in songs like ‘Final Nights’ or ‘Rape Magic’!

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[video] LAUGH AT THE FAKES – killing time (lyric video)

LAUGH AT THE FAKES, Toronto based heavy metal band, posted a lyric video for the song ‘Killing Time’, taken from the upcoming album “Dethrone the Crown”, due out November 14th!

Their debut six-song EP ‘One Night Only’ was released in 2011 and their 2014 follow-up full-length album, produced by Greg Dawson and mastered by Andy VanDette (Rush, Dream Theatre, Kid Rock, Deep Purple, Bruce Dickenson, Bif Naked), is scheduled to drop this Fall!

Check it out:

 LAUGH AT THE FAKES – killing time (lyric video)