Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shining - VI / Klagopsalmer

Sometimes a band can be thrust into the spotlight for what some would consider the wrong reasons. In the case of Shining, I feel it’s true. Well, at least that’s my opinion.

For those who are unfamiliar with Shining, they are a somewhat notorious black metal entity from Sweden fronted by the ever peculiar Niklas "Kvarforth" Olsson (and no, they’re not named after the book but you’d be forgiven for thinking so). Since their inception in 1996, they’ve garnered some fairly controversial attention. Kvarforth’s lyrics are always opinion splitting (one way of putting it) with them being openly encouraging suicide and self harm. Niklas also is infamous for cutting himself on stage (sometimes to extreme extents) as well as drinking piss and assaulting fans present.

This brings me back to the wrong sort of attention. People spent too much time on their dangerous live shows and virtually nothing on the actual quality of their music. Last January I had the "pleasure" of seeing Shining live. I was glad to see the cutting toned down immensely and no abuse. Eccentricities remained in the form of rubbing some blood on fans, constant groping and spitting a mouth full of whiskey in my face. Regardless, the band killed that night, blasting out great tracks, seeing as the focus is now on the music. Also, Mr.Kvarforth’s stage presence is in a league of its own, in more ways than one.

Now, these miserableists (like the new word I made up?) have delivered a new album, Klagopsalmer (translated as Hymns of Lament).

One of the first things to hit you about Klagopsalmer if you are familiar with the band is the much cleaner production. The album is far more polished but still retains the raw nature like that on Halmstad and The Eerie Cold and of course the much earlier albums.

"Vilseledda Barnasjälars Hemvist" is balls to the wall extreme metal, but even has aspects which could be called… wait for it… accessible!

"Plågoande O'Helga Plågoande" shows efficiently the progress the band has made as musicians. The riffs still sound like Shining for the most part, like a truck smashing through the Louvre. However the pleasant surprise of the song is Kvarforth’s venture into cleaner vocals, opposed to his assorted throaty croons on previous records.

"Krossade Drömmar Och Brutna Löften" is absolutely unforgiving with its punishing blastbeats and vigorous shred. Things shift slightly on "Fullständigt Jävla Död Inuti", with some gentle passages and Kvarforth hits us with more clean vocals. His singing is a far cry from anything groundbreaking but they have their own uniqueness. Lead guitarist Fredric Gråby is impressive as ever; it’s quite a shame that he lives in the shadow of his eccentric counterpart as his abilities can’t be denied.

After the breather that is the acoustic instrumental "Ohm - Skoj Att Leva", "Total Utfrysning" is a lengthy jaunt, at 16 minutes. It’s till dominated by the bludgeon but the mid section is rife with spoken word passages like on many a Shining track that has gone before. It also swans with elegant pianism and violins, particularly at its conclusion.

Despite this new found clean production and, from where I’m standing, a new lease on their music and what it means Klagopsalmer is still a harrowing listen, Shining would still fall under the "uneasy listening" column.

The new sounds and ambition shown on Klagopsalmer excites this fan right here. It should induce a new era for Shining and with the band having already began the follow
up things look interesting.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tiny Magnetic Pets - Return Of The Tiny Magnetic Pets

I was in a really bad mood when writing this review, ha! But seriously this album is terrible. Read if you dare....

New Slayer track

New track from Slayer’s new album World Painted Blood, “Hate Worldwide” has landed. To start let’s make one thing clear, you know what you’re going to get with a new Slayer album. The first thing to immediately hit you is how hollow, overall, the track sounds. There’s very bass and just isn’t as heavy as Slayer can be. The track is mediocre with a great riff. The solos don’t any new ground though but I like the vicious flurry that breaks at the end.

U2, Croke Park 27/7/09

A mate of mine won 4 tickets to U2 last Monday and brought me along. Click here to read my review on

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fear Factory legalities

Earlier this year Burton C Bell and Dino Cazares reconvened the seminal cyber metallers Fear Factory much to fans’ glee. However, this reunion was sans drummer Ray Herrera and bassist and eventual guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers.

Cazares and Bell set about a European tour this summer with work commencing on a new album afterwards. However, those shows never happened. A concrete reason for the cancellations has never materialised. Wolbers and Herrera are taking legal action over the name, so that may be a reason. Meanwhile, the other two say they cancelled the tour to concentrate on the album.

"We are both equal shareholders of the Fear Factory name" said Christian Olde Wolbers when he spoke to "Until all that gets resolved, then nobody’s going on tour with anything". He claimed further that he and Raymond just weren't seeing eye to eye with Bell.

Herrera added more petrol to the flames in another interview. We “are actually still in Fear Factory”. “(Burton and Dino) decided to start a new band” and “call it Fear Factory. They never communicated with us about it.”

Both Herrera and Wolbers are involved with a new project, Arkaea. Many of the material was intended for a new FF record, a FF record that didn’t involve Dino Cazares.

Dino Cazares was interviewed recently by Ultimate-Guitar. When asked if the reports of the two suing over the name are true Cazares replied “definitely”. Cazares explained how they two have a right to the name just like he did when he left initially; “when I wasn't a part of Fear Factory, they had to legally pay me to use the name. I'm part of the corporation”. He went on to claim that this so called legal action has been greatly exaggerated – “the legal issues that they've spoken about seem to be a little bit more extreme than the legal issues there actually are”.
Read the full interview HERE

Dino’s account of Herrera claiming he was kept in the dark was simply summarised in “rubbish” and that Burton discussed it with him before any announcement was made. According to Cazares, Raymond took offence and said that he and Bell were “dead to him”.

But, work is continuing on a new album with “new” Fear Factory. If what Dino has said is true then this whole thing has blown out of proportion or perhaps Wolbers and Herrera are true. At this moment in time it’s difficult to tell.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Arkaea - Wolbers & Herrera return

Former Fear Factory members Christian Olde Wolbers (guitar) and Raymond Herrera (drums) have set about unleashing their respective creative flurries in their new project, Arkaea. Completed by Threat Signal’s vocalist Jon Howard and bass player Pat Kavanagh.
The band was formed last year by Wolbers and Herrera and have just released their first album Years In The Darkness.
For your first taste look no further, here’s “Locust”:

Sound wise, the band venture into some very familiar territory. One thing about Threat Signal that was very clear was the Fear Factory were a huge influence on them and a key component in their song writing. Vocally Howard hasn’t changed anything, that’s not too bad. His growl may be a bit generic but his clean vocals are rather pleasing to the ear.

Herrera and Wolbers presence here in vastly evident. The drumming is immaculate and unmistakeably. While the guitar work harkens a lot back to Archetype.

An interesting note about Years In The Darkness is that several of the songs were written by Herrera and Wolbers with the intent of them being included on a new Fear Factory record upon the band’s recommencement. However with those plans scrapped upon Dino Cazares and Burton C Bell reunited FF with a new line-up they were left unused riff and what not. Thus, all the material for the Years In The Darkness was born.

Perhaps that is why many of the riffs would feel easily as comfortable on a Fear Factory record.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The unruly task of trying to top Colors

A few days I ago I posted the update on Between The Buried And Me’s new album, The Great Misdirect, out in October. This, I feel, will be a vital album to BTBAM.

In 2007, Between The Buried And Me released their fourth album Colors – an iron plated masterpiece; put simply one of the greatest albums ever made (in my opinion, I know more people that would disagree with that than agree but there you go).

But now, earlier this year Between The Buried And Me began writing the follow up to this amazing record.
I’ve always said the BTBAM are my favourite prog metal band, because ever since they first burst on to the scene they’ve offered something different. They had a unique sound that some people feel is not prog, but that’s down to opinion. BTBAM channelled the influences of various prog heavyweights like Yes and Dream Theater and mashed them with Dillinger Escape Plan and hardcore influences like that of Earth Crisis. But one thing that has (overall) eluded them is the spotlight. I feel that now they’ve earned the right to call Opeth and Dream Theater their contemporaries, this made abundantly clear during the 2008 Progressive Nation tour. BTBAM have further shown their live abilities (particularly on Colors_Live, where they played the album in its entirety), yes – they can blow you away on record but can do it even more so on stage. They can pull off their astonishing musicianship live; and that’s not something to be underestimated.

Now, if Between The Buried And Me are to reach said spotlight they must top their previous album, something they’ve always done immaculately so far.

Their debut (self titled) displayed humble beginnings and a few barrel loads of potential from the relentless flurry of “Aspirations” to the truly prog laden “Shevanel Cut A Flip”. Second effort The Silent Circus blew it of the water and gave us the ultimate heart stopper “Mordecai” along with the bludgeon to delicate “Ad A Dglgmut” and the storming “Aesthetic”.

Alaska furthered the band’s aural assault, with numbers like the punishing title track and the soaring King Crimson indebted “Selkies: The Endless Obsession”. Even their follow up covers album The Anatomy Of helped when the band paid homage to Metallica, Pink Floyd, Motley Crue and Faith No More to name a few. And Colors, I think I’ve driven home that album’s excellence at this stage! It fits comfortably next to Blackwater Park, Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From A Memory, Lateralus, Panopticon and many other modern prog metal classics. They created an oeuvre presenting a unique sound and merged influences from all generations.

But Colors is just so good and just faultless that it’s near impossible to fathom what would run through your mind when trying to better it. That said; it’s imperative that they don’t do Colors Pt.2. Between The Buried And Me have enjoyed a crushing evolution of musicianship and imaginings since their formation in 2000. On album number five (six, if you count the covers record) that progression needs to continue on the ferocious rampage.

If they do top it, and I’m confident that they will, then there’s no reason why Between The Buried And Me shouldn’t excel to the very upper echelons of prog and metal in general. Mainstream success has evaded them but you know they care very little for that. But it’s the recognition of their jaw dropping abilities that needs to emerge.
Various album updates on the band’s Twitter have detailed some interesting but very vague aspects of the record including an organ and more bass solos. Front man/keyboardist Tommy Rogers has also stated the album as “some of the best material we’ve ever created”. Of course all bands say that about an upcoming album but with a reputation like theirs you can’t help but believe him! Their previous albums have shown BTBAM have never been afraid to experiment, that’s well established. But what I, personally, would like to see is more experimenting and I think that they’ve done this on The Great Misdirect.
This record also sees the expiration of the band’s contractual obligations to Victory Records. History has shown that bands’ final albums on labels have been different whether good or bad. But to my knowledge the record/band relationship between the two has always been positive.

The track listing reveals 6 tracks: “Mirrors”, “Obfuscation”, “Disease, Injury, Madness”, “Fossil Genera – A Feed From Cloud Mountain”, “Desert Of Song”, “Swim To The Moon”. There’s no word on the length of the songs, but it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll be long. Colors was Between The Buried And Me’s complete foray into prog, The Great Misdirect should be when they take up full residency there.

Not every one “gets” BTBAM but, take my word and give The Great Misdirect a chance when it lands. This could be monumental.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Anthrax: The drama recommences

Yesterday was somewhat of a dramatic day with Anthrax cancelling more shows on their European tour, citing illness of new frontman Dan Nelson as the reason, Dan Nelson eventually leaving the band, all tour dates cancelled (except Sonisphere where John Bush to stand in for a “one off”!!!).

Dan Nelson released the following update:

“On the advice of counsel, I have remained silent to the statements issued by Anthrax in recent days and now must address these issues to my loyal fans and others,” reads the statement. “I want to set the record straight.
“I was never seriously ill or sick at all, as reported in Anthrax’s July 17 press release. This extremely inflammatory statement hurt me tremendously. This statement misled fans, friends and family members into believing that I was seriously ill when I was not. I was not aware such a statement was being issued and it came as a total shock to me, as I’m sure it did to all of you. It was the other band members’ decision to cancel the tour dates, not mine. I was ready, willing and able to do my job.
“After issuing the press release, the other band members decided, on their own accord, that I had ‘resigned’ from the band. I never resigned from the band.
“Even in view of this action and stance taken by the band, as late as earlier today I made it clear that I was ready willing and able to continue to fulfill my obligations. After that offer was made, the most recent press release was issued which announced my ‘confirmed’ departure from the band. I was not aware of the contents of this release until after it was issued, nor was I aware that Anthrax was canceling the European and Slipknot tours.
“I regret any disappointment and confusion this situation has caused.”

Now, putting it politely that’s fucked. If it’s true it’s unacceptable on the part of Anthrax and management to treat Nelson in such an undermining way.

The band have begun the search for a new full time vocalist, Anthrax returns to turmoil…..

Jon Hughes - Voices From A Broken Window

Click the image to read the review..

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Anthrax minus Dan Nelson

It’s official. Dan Nelson has left Anthrax. The post earlier mentioned a statement from management; well, here it is from

"As announced last week, thrash legends Anthrax regretfully canceled the first three dates on the second leg of their European tour due to new vocalist Dan Nelson's unexpected illness. An additional seven European dates are also canceled, those scheduled from July 22 to July 30."

"Anthrax is thrilled to announce that they will play the August 1 Sonisphere festival in Knebworth, England, with their good friend John Bush joining them for a very special one-off performance."

"The members of Anthrax have confirmed the departure of vocalist Dan Nelson. In light of this development, Anthrax's slot in the U.S. Slipknot dates set for August and September, has also been canceled. Anthrax is already actively considering lead singer candidates, and looks forward to hitting the road before the end of the year."

This is rather unfortunate but still very interesting. Dan Nelson is gone, it’s sad he had so much potential. But, and this is a big but, Anthrax will play their Sonisphere set with John Bush!! The Joey Belladona successor returns to Anthrax! The statement says “one off” but hopefully it will sow he seeds for a permanent comeback.

If not then Anthrax will fall into their woes again and that really shouldn’t happen.

Anthrax – The party’s finished before it started?

Let’s run through some things before I start:
- Anthrax finally recruit new vocalist in Dan Nelson.
- The band record new album Worship Music, a release is set for October 23rd.
- Dan Nelson performs his first shows with the band, including a set at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods. Things are looking great

Things start to drop….

Anthrax have cancelled another two show on their European Summer tour, this time it’s tomorrow (Wednesday 22nd July) in Oslo, also Prague on the 29th. This is their fourth and fifth cancellation after Dan Nelson “unexpectedly informed the band that he was seriously ill and unable to travel or perform at this time” – swine flu??? I jest, I jest!

Rumours are circulating rampantly that the party has finished before it really got started. This furthered by Nelson changing his Twitter page. His former page was entitled DanNAnthrax and when you visit that page, you are greeted with this:
Upon searching for a new page I failed, so things look odd. But then again, Nelson could actually be sick and his twitter may have just malfunctioned – this is all just speculation.

But other reports have suggested that the band is unhappy with Nelson but there’s zero proof of this. Let’s just hope that this is just blown out of proportion and the eventual release of the record won’t be tainted and Anthrax will return on their warpath. Because let’s be perfectly honest, they deserve it! They’ve been called the most underrated metal band ever and, in many respects, that’s true.

This was to be Anthrax’s glorious return. They’ve missed out on so much i.e. the trash revival; moments where the recognition should have come to fruition. Inner turmoil has haunted Anthrax for many years and it looked it was to be finally cast aside. Hopefully it will remain aside and October 23rd will be the moment of utter victory that we’ve been waiting for.

The band’s management will release a statement tonight, stick with us!

Monday, July 20, 2009

New tracks round up!

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Still Unbroken
(God & Guns)
Yeah! The guys still got it. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s new track “Still Unbroken” is dripping with the southern charisma that makes the Skynyrd the Skynyrd! Johnny Van Zant’s vocally sounds brilliant and that solo, oh that solo! The new album God & Guns is out on the 29th, things are looking immense!

Alice In Chains – A Looking In View

(Black Gives Way To Blue)
The song has actually been out for nearly 2 weeks and I’m only getting around to writing about it now; apologies for that. I love AIC, but I was one of those sceptical twats who didn’t really give William DuVall a 100% fair chance. Now, here is the first time we’re hearing him on new material. “A Looking In View” is a scorcher! The great thudding at the start sets the tone and it exudes some doom-y influences. DuVall and the rest of AIC have channelled the spirit of Layne Staley in this track’s (and album’s) creation, and not done so in a forced manner. Bring on the album!

Chickenhawk - A.OrNot EP

The new EP A.OrNot to follow up the band's self titled debut...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Killswitch Engage – Killswitch Engage

Despite the decline in the quality of mainstream (so called) rock music in recent years there is a silver lining. Since the beginning of the 00s modern metal has scaled dizzying heights with bands like Machine Head, Lamb Of God, Trivium, Mastodon and many others releasing stunning albums. Killswitch Engage are one of the bands at the forefront of this. Since 2001 they’ve grown colossally both musically and in popularity. Every album has been better than the last with The End Of Heartache becoming certified gold.

However there is another black cloud. KSE pioneered the sound that would become known as metalcore; a name once associated with innovation is now so with watered down, cookie cutters copy cats. But the Massachusetts metallers proved their worth, once again, with last album, 2006’s As Daylight Dies, a phenomenal album which kicked all the asses of their imitators.

Now in 2009 Killswitch find themselves in a similar position. They had to reignite the flame that has burned so bright for them all these years. For their prior releases guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz has handled production duties and done so immaculately. This time around those duties have been relinquished to Brendan O’Brien (AC/DC, Pearl Jam, Mastodon, Korn, Bruce Springsteen to name a few). Adam D still managed co-production.

In many interviews the band stated they’d left their “comfort zone”, while this may not be dramatically true, it is still true. New riff styles and vocals arrangements are among the new sounds explored on Killswitch Engage, the band’s second self titled effort.

Throughout, every member is firing on all cylinders. Vocalist Howard Jones rips and roars as well as gently croons and vastly serenades. "Never Again" hints at the lyrical shifts, visceral in its delivery and unrelenting. But then, tackling some traditional KSE themes, "Starting Over" covers Jones’ lovelorn side. It’s the first single and a great one at that, made beautiful with soaring riffs and a huge sing along chorus.

"Reckoning" has Jones spitting out some of his most enraged vocals ever – “you are no god to me, you are nothing to me”. It’s a pissed off song until he hits that spine tingling chorus and proves, again, that he has one of the most gifted pairs of lungs out there today. Similarly drummer Justin Foley pounds his kit into oblivion on "The Forgotten" and "I Would Do Anything".

All the riffs are still so catchy, with still some new styles explored despite the same guitar tone being more or less retained. "A Light In A Darkened World" and "Take Me Away" attest to this. Adam D receives much more attention for his goofy on stage antics then fellow guitarist Joel Stroetzel does for his ability, but the latter is astonishing and a criminally underrated player. Meanwhile every track’s bass in held down effortlessly and clearly by Mike D’Antonio, another largely under appreciated component.

Melancholy stands into the fray on "The Return", its tales of desperation are told harrowingly and elegantly through Jones’ eyes. Likewise, opening in some dejected fashion Lost pulls mercilessly on your heart strings, with Jones towering with his emotive and heart stopping vocals in a breathtaking chorus. "This Is Goodbye" pulls the curtain on this record in similar fashion while still being astounding and hammering. By this album’s conclusion you’re just plain overwhelmed.

Top to bottom Killswitch Engage is just as solid and impressive as the rest of KSE’s back catalogue, but would you expect anything less? The songs are bursting with real emotion, the band play their hearts out and the production is faultless. Fans will lap this up and more will be made because Killswitch Engage have once again schooled the half wits ruthlessly.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Biffy Clyro track surfaces online

Zane Lowe’s radio show played the new Biffy Clyro single “That Golden Rule” last week. Audio of which has landed on youtube of course. A few different versions of it were on youtube earlier today but have now been removed by Warner Bros. But, there’s another one (quality isn’t great) check it out….

The song starts at 1.05

It’s a rockin’ start, that riff is excellent. It’s classic Biffy, their sound has become so recognisable. Plus, Simon Neil’s vocals are on top form. The ending with that string section is breathtaking. This new album should be amazing!

The new, as yet untitled, album is expected to be out in October
Biffy play the Olympia Theatre on Oct. 29th and Belfast’s St. Georges Market on the 28th.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Talent Wasted? David Silveria

Korn drummer David Silveria went on “indefinite hiatus” in 2006, to focus on other things in his life. His return has been debated; will he ever play drums again? The answer to that question is an unfortunate no.

Silveria was a member of Korn for thirteen years, ever since their formation in 93. He played on their seminal albums, Korn, Follow The Leader, Untouchables to name a few. 2005’s See You On The Other Side was the last album he played on.

In an interview recently James “Munky” Schaffer (guitarist) confirmed that David had sold all his drum kits and had no will to play again. “When I found out David had sold all his drums and never wants to play again - I was blown away,”

Munky continued: “He’s one of the best drummers in the world. I can’t believe he’s not coming back. I’m still in disbelief. It’s painful.”

Silveria was an important member of the band, and his drumming is so influential. Hopefully this will change in time, as his talent, his playing will be missed.

His profile has been removed from Korn’s site and myspace page; he is officially an ex-member.

However Korn have made (former Army Of Anyone drummer) Ray Luzier the full time drummer in the band. Jonathan Davis, Reginald Arvizu, James Schaffer are now the only three original members in the band.

Hacride - Lazarus

How does the new album from French progressive metallers Hacride fare? Click and see!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Between The Buried And Me album title and news

Prog metallers Between The Buried And Me have completed work on their new album, the follow up to 2007's Colors. The band revealed the detail in a new myspace blog entry.

Entitled The Great Misdirect, the band's fifth studio album will be released on October 27th.

Disease, Injury, Madness
Fossil Genera - A Feed From Cloud Mountain
Desert Of Song
Swim To The Moon

There's no word on the style or approach of the album but needless to say I wait with abated breath.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Megadeth track

Megadeth have officially released a track from their new album Endgame (out in September). It’s “Head Crusher”. The album is highly anticipated and is the first to feature Chris Broderick.

You’re immediately punished with a blurring finger riff, which is damn catchy along with the barrage of unrelenting drums.
Chorus is nothing great; it retains the Megadeth sound, if you catch my drift. But Mustaine’s voice is on fire!
For my thoughts on the prospects of this album click HERE
It pains me to say that the solo is the least appealing part of the song. It’s a good solo but personally I was expecting more. “Head Crusher” doesn’t quite sate the appetite as one would hope but look at this a brief preview. The album, Endgame could unfold much more majesties…

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Last Have Heart show

Another show reminder for tomorrow night. Massachusetts hardcore outfit Have Heart play Dublin, in The Scene. This is their last Irish show apparently. I know little about them but this is supposedly their final tour and are splitting up. Anyway check this show out if you're into them or want to see what the fuss is about. Personally I think they're nothing too special.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Oxegen 09 - The O2 Stage

Oxegen 2009 is this weekend at Punchestown, as I'm sure you know! Well, I've broken down the line-up for the O2 Stage and previewed each band on DROP-D.

Have fun!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bowerbirds - Upper Air

Click the cover image to read about Folk band Bowerbirds' new record Upper Air