Hooded Priest

Hooded Priest-The Hour Be None Review

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A huge part of the Dutch and Flemish doom scene, Hooded Priest have always attracted attention thanks to their heaviness and the crunch of their tone and vocal deliverance. They are a band that is worth following, a band that stands out from the crowd.

Starting with Dolen-Exiting The Real, it is clear that Hooded Priest has been communicating with some sort of external being. The intro is reminiscent of a call to the devil from some classic horror movie. Call For The Hearse is reminiscent of Black Sabbath, but with the added kick that the band know more and more about the direction they are going. The riffs compliment the vocal lines and the vocal lines are excellent in conveying the heaviness of what is coming. These Skies Must Break starts with an echoing bass line, it moves into the sort of doom metal that would make the most avid Sabbath fan wet themselves with joy.

Herod Again is a faster song, bringing elements of Pentagram and seventies stoner rock to the fore. An absolute belter and one sure to get the crowd going. Locust Reaper is a delightful slab of doom metal, slow, eerie, and intimidating, it is the perfect soundtrack to a doomy day. Mother of Plagues is the final song on the record, a more mid-tempo song and one that brings elements of Grunge and Sabbath and other classic metal bands, it is a fitting closer to an absolute belter of an album.

The Hour Be None is sure to be a classic doom record, it has certainly intrigued this reviewer, and I will be sure to keep an eye out for more of their records. It is out on 1st December, be sure to get your copy!

 

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Starblind

Starblind Interview

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After listening to their brilliant album Never Seen Again, I was fortunate enough to interview the guys in Starblind.

  1. What inspired the name of the band and what are your influences?

In the beginning of time when the band started to form, we had a couple of different suggestions for a great band name. At that point we actually couldn’t agree which to choose, so we made an internal voting in the band and the majority choose “Starblind”.

The influences in the band are as many as we are members… We actually listen to a lot of different types of music, mostly of the metal- and hard rock scene. Besides the obvious bands from the 80s metal scene we listen to band such as Helloween, Europe, Accept, Scorpions and Heavy Load.

 

  1. How do you approach writing and recording?

Usually one of us has an idea or fragments of an idea. This idea might be an audio file recorded at home or something showed for all at the rehearsal. We try the song and see if it feels right, and if it does we keep on working on it and improves it as far as possible. It is a cool thing to see (hear) how the song develops as time moves on and when we rehearsed it several times.

When there are enough good songs for an album we rehears the as hell to be prepared for the studio recording session. We record all our albums live in the studio just to get the right feeling. The only thing recorded afterwards is the singing and keyboards.

 

 

  1. Could you talk through the process of recording Never Seen Again, is there a specific theme throughout the album?

The main theme throughout the album is stories about people disappearing, leaving or dying in one way or another. Some are about questioning the choices you´ve made in life, and the quest to change your destiny. And of course, as on previous albums, we managed to put in some H.P Lovecraft as well.

For “Never Seen Again” we got the opportunity to work with the talented Robert Romagna at Audiostahl, who mixed and mastered the album. We’re very happy with the result and really think it match our ideal sound for the album.

  1. Which songs are you looking forward to playing live?

All the song will be a delight to preform live, but I believe the most fun songs will be the odd ones, such as “The Last Stand”, “Eternally Bound” and the faster “The Everlasting Dream Of Flight”.

 

 

  1. Future plans?

 

Now we eagerly wait for the album to be released (24th of November) and then we’ll start the planning on events in 2018. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you more than that we have a release gig planned in Stockholm in the beginning of next year, but keep looking at our Facebook page and home page www.starblind.se and stay updated!

 

 

Ram

Ram Interview

I had the privilege to sit down with the guys from Ram, to talk about their new record, the band’s history and their influences.

1. What inspired the name of the band and what are your influences?

“The name came from the act of headbanging, and ramming as it were, we liked the name and the image it conjured so we went for that. We’re influenced by the same sort of bands as when  we were kids, bands such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden.”

2. What process do you go through, when writing an album?

“Usually we start off with a riff, and then we try and find ways in which it will fit into a song, if it gives off a vibe to us we’ll work lyrics and the rest of the song structure around it. We tend to work off of a concept from the riff and go from there. Recently, we’ve been writing and recording in a studio that was owned by Andy La Rocque the guitarist from King Diamond, so we’ve had a lot more freedom to simply write and record, without worrying about anything else.”

3. Is there a connecting theme through the new album?

“There’s no connecting theme through all the tracks on the album, but what will be the B side on the LP has a common theme. We’ve always wanted to record a concept album but we found that playing such a thing live just wouldn’t be possible due to time constraints, so instead we’ve settled for the one sided concept. As it works better in a live setting. We did a short tour recently, and some of the new songs like Gulag have been received really well.”

4. What plans do you have for the future?

“We’ve just been out on a short tour, but we’ve got more plans to tour, more shows than we’ve played for previous records. November is packed, February is looking as though it will be packed as well. We’ll be playing the UK again as well.”

 

Serenity

Serenity Interview

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I had the pleasure of sitting down with George from Serenity to discuss the band and the new album Lionheart, which is released on 27th October:

 

  1. What inspired the name of the band?

 

“It’s a bit of a short story. Our former keyboard was a big fan of the British band Arena, and they had a song called Serenity, and he liked the name of the song so we chose that.”

 

  1. Many of your songs are inspired by history, which period of history is your favourite and why?

 

“When I’m not singing, I’m an assistant history professor, and as a child I was into knights and castles, so that’s where most of the history influences come from. I’m fascinated with 15th and 16 century, the ending of the medieval period and the beginning of the modern era. As for historical figures Emperor Maximilian I and Leonardo Da Vinci are some of my favourite historical figures.”

 

  1. What themes are explored on your latest album and why?

“In our new album Lionheart, we wanted to tell the actual story of Richard the Lionheart and explore certain myths that have come up around him, like the Robin Hood myth. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible for them to have met, or that Robin Hood actually existed.”

  1. What plans do you have for the future?

 

“We’re releasing Lionheart on 27th October, and then embarking on a tour with Delain, finishing up with a show at the Koko in London. Then we’re moving out on our own headlining tour with our label mates.”

 

Devastation

DEVASTATIÖN- Drink With The Devil review

DEVASTATIÖN hail from Belgium, and having initially started out under the name Black Fuel in 2004, their music was always pushing the limits of speed, aggression and melody. With two albums under their belt, the band continue to grow and explore new territory. Drink With The Devil is their first recorded delivery since their second album, released in 2015.

The title track starts with a fast riff, that shakes the listener’s speakers upon first listen. Moving into tremolo picking common in black metal, the vocals contain a harshness that fits quite well with the style of music, the blast beats adding into a sense of urgency within the music. Raped by God is next, starting with an all-out assault on the senses. Thrash metal at its finest, bringing echoes of Kreator and perhaps Sodom to the mix as well. The first two songs on the E.P. are definitely songs that should be added to the setlist. Defilement, is fast and heavy, which is really all that needs to be said. It carries the flow of the previous two songs very well.

Society Will Die contains quick riffs and the breakneck thrash that one has come to expect from DEVASTATIÖN. Reborn Through Fire continues the neck breaking intensity of the rest of the E.P. a solid closer and one that is sure to bring many fans crawling back into mosh pit when played live.

Drink With The Devil is a taste of what DEVASTATIÖN can do, and it will be interesting to see how they develop from here. 8/10.

Ten

Ten Interview

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Dann from Ten, to talk about the band, the music world and the new album Gothica:

  1. What inspired the name of the band, and what are your influences?

When the original members were coming up with names they were all given a piece of paper and wrote some ideas down. The name Ten was written down by 2 different members so that became the name. My early influences were Rush, Rainbow, Iron Maiden, Ozzy and Judas Priest. More recent ones were Yngwie Malmsteen, Dream Theater, Journey, Vinnie Moore.

 

  1. Could you talk through the process of recording Gothica? Which tracks should listeners watch out for?

           The process was the same as the last two. Gary gets to the stage where he has the songs and I usually have them for about 2 weeks, listening to them a lot, when I’m in the car or just at home. I always like to sing what the solo should be when I’m listening at first and don’t have the guitar with me. Then during the next 2 weeks I’ll put some ideas down. Although for the final takes I record them with Gary so he can listen back and we can make any little changes. The Grail is probably the heaviest song on the CD and Travellers uses some different sounds for Ten. Welcome To The Freak Show is also  different. I think the album as a whole has a different sound from the others, which isn’t easy due to the amount of albums Gary has made.

 

  1. How has the band’s approach to writing and recording songs changed over the years?

Its been the same for the 3 albums I’ve been on by each member being able to record parts at home after Gary has sent out the demo. In the earlier days it would have been like most bands, recording the entire tracks in the studio.

 

  1. Do you think the music industry has changed since you started?

Although I’ve been playing for a long time I’ve only been involved in 3 CDs and with Ten for just over 3 years, so I’ve got into the current state quite late and not got a great deal of experience yet.  One way it has changed is that it’s easier to get your music recorded and out there. When I first started that wasn’t so easy and it was very expensive to record in a top studio to get a really good demo. With the internet now, the contacts, the advertising and the way to promote your band is so different from when I started.

         

  1. Is there a place you particularly like playing live, or a song you love playing live?

I don’t have a particular favourite place or song really. I just enjoy the challenge of playing well at gigs, which can be tough. The Ten set has lots of different style songs which is good.  Trying to play the songs/solos like the original is always a tough task.

 

  1. What plans do you have for the future?

I plan to stay with Ten as long the band continues and make more albums. I also hope to improve as a player. I would also like to record some of my original songs eventually. I’m in the process of building a new space for my recording set up that should make all of my plans a lot easier.

Starblind

Starblind-Never Seen Again

Starblind hail from Stockholm, Sweden and their blend of classic Heavy Metal has won them fans across the world. Their new album Never Seen Again has gotten positive feedback thanks to the title track’s galloping heart.

The Everlasting Dream of Light starts off slowly, with a fade in, before moving into a galloping rhythm and an epic vocal section that would make Bruce Dickinson wet himself. The Shadow Out Of Time contains elements of all classic metal, the rhythms are catchy, the melodies are on point and the feel is just too good. Pride and Glory has the duelling guitars from paradise and the vocal hook that Maiden forgot, it is quite simply a belter. Eternally Bound starts slowly, it is a contemplative song allowing all members of the band a good showing and a chance to make their mark. Tears Of A Soldier is fast, a rocker with ballsy lyrical content and solos that make a guitarist get a solid one.

Never Seen Again has a big build up, and once it moves into the song properly, it delivers, solid punches, hammering down on everyone’s senses, an anthem that will get crowds rocking and rolling. Avarice (The Fourth Circle) contains some of the best guitar work on the record, on point, sharp and focused, it kicks some serious ass. Demon Rider is a slower number, with a slight chromatic feeling, it sends shivers down one’s spine. Insanity and Genius a song with such a unique title, deserves the unique blending of time signature, melting vocals and face melting guitar riffs that are part and parcel of Starblind’s work. The Last Stand is at seven minutes and fifty seconds long, suitably epic, it contains ballsy riffs, slower moments, and face melting moments as well.

Starblind have hit a solid gem here, they’ve brought something new and refreshing to the metal genre in a way that no other band has. Never Seen Again deserves a lot of airplay and deserves a lot of accolades. Be sure to purchase it when it comes out November 24th. 10/10

 

 

Ram

Ram-Rod Review

Ram were founded in 1999, by men who wanted to play real heavy metal, not any of the nonsense that was being classed as metal at the time. Their latest offering Rod, helps show that they were serious about this mission. The album cover, with the skull of a ram, headbutting through the fire, creates a great first impression.

Declaration Of Independence is a roaring opening song, filled with defiance, growls, ballsy riffs and downright savagery that serves as a fine opening track. On Wings of No Return contains swaggering groove laden riffs, whilst allowing vocalist Oscar to shine through blaring vocal lines. Gulag is heavy, pure and simple, it is a great song to lose oneself to. A Throne At Midnight is anthemic, the band has found a song that could make it a stadium band in this song, everything clicks on this track and it works so very well.

The Ramrod saga begins with Anno Infinitus, a 2 minute song that brings in the theme of the next few numbers and sends the listener into anticipation. Ignitor has the haunting flavour of Black Sabbath mixed with the epicness of Maiden, another song that has gotten the potential to turn Ram into a stadium band. The Cease To Be has harmonised doom written all over it, from the tone of the guitars, the soloing that brings precision and melancholy, to the vocals with their searing heat and their Rob Halford esque tone. Voices of Death is another shorter number that sets up Incinerating Storms nicely, what with the fade and the heaviness coming to boot. Ashes is the final song on the record and it fades nicely as the outro.

Rod, is where metal goes right, heaviness, lyrical certainty, melody and pure brazeness. If this album does not make Ram a household name then there is something definitely wrong with the music industry. A brilliant album from start to finish, a solid ten.

Delain

Delain Interview

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On Thursday, I had the honour of interviewing Martijn from Delain, a band who continue to impress and revolutionise the way metal is performed and listened to. We talked about the naming of the band and the most recent record:

  1. What inspired the name? And what are your influences?

“The name came from a Stephen King book I was reading at the time, ‘Eyes Of The Dragon’, Delain was a kingdom in the book, and I really liked the name. As for influences, I think they’ve remained quite consistent throughout. I’ve liked the same movies, games and music since I was a kid, I can be quite picky when it comes to preferences. But in terms of music I’d say Genesis, The Police, Foreigner, Marillion, Paradise Lost, Dream Theater, Pantera and Nightwish are some of the most prominent influences.”

 

  1. How do you approach song writing?

  “There are a couple of ways we approach song writing. Charlotte, myself and the unofficial seventh member of the band Gus, are the main songwriters of the band. We write 95% of the material. We build on an idea or concept that we’ve come up with. Or we work from scratch, for example we once rented a house for a week and built up the ideas from there.”

 

  1. Could you talk through the process of recording Moonbathers

“With Scandal, the Queen song we covered, I’d first heard that song when I was a kid, and hadn’t heard it for some time, then I heard it again much later, and really liked it, thought it would suit Delain well. So, I got in touch with our manager, who happens to know someone who plays with Brian May, and asked if we could cover the song. He listened to the band and liked what he heard and said yes, which was huge. With the other songs on the record, we wanted to write songs with a pop structure but with a metal bite to them.”

 

  1. What plans do you have for the future?

 

“We’re going to be doing a small tour with Marco from Nightwish next month, as he’s a good friend of the band and he wanted to do something with us. We’re also heading to South America for a few shows and the US next year for a month in April/May, and we will also be recording a new studio album.”

Iron Griffin

Iron Griffin-Iron Griffin Review

Iron Griffin are known for their retro metal style, and their ability to harness classic influences with modern playing styles. Their debut release, entitled Iron Griffin shows this with the classic album cover, of the Griffin and the Knight, the music more than lives up to the hype as well.

The intro is a one minute and forty-seven seconds long and invokes the feeling of stepping into a sci-fi movie, something that inevitably makes one wonder where the record is going to go.  The where is answered quickly enough with Message From Beyond providing harmonised guitars, psychedelic vocal lines and bass parts, alongside the haunting melodies interwoven throughout the song. Metal Conquest brings syncopated rhythms to play and is a school rocker. Journey To The Castle Of The King starts of slow and thoughtful, but quickly moves into a higher temp, bringing trills, solid bass, and all-out heaviness.  Lord Inquisitor, the final track on the record, is a monster of a song from start to finish, there is something about it that just makes it stick in the mind.

With their debut release, Iron Griffin have carved a new niche for themselves. No pretentions, no repetition of similar well trodden ideas, their music is fresh, their vocal lines are fresh, and they are fresh. This album is a strong showing, and as such, it bodes well for the future. 10/10.