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Ghost Cult has teamed up with Von Hertzen Brothers for your chance to win a bag of Von Hertzen Brothers Organic Espresso coffee!

Ahead of their imminent European tour, everyone’s favourite rocking proggers, Von Hertzen Brothers have teamed up to give away their new Organic Espresso coffee and all you have to do to have a chance of getting some is follow us on Ghost Cult’s Instagram account and like and share our #VHB picture of . Lucky winning followers will be chosen at random.

With their back-to-the-clubs tour kicking off in Southampton, England, on Wednesday 2nd September Mikko von Hertzen had this to say exclusively to Ghost Cult about the tour:

“Towards the end of August, while still playing the huge stages of the summer festivals, we’ve been talking about how cool it is to get back in the sweat and humidity of the clubs. It feels awesome to get to play intimate headlining shows again. It’s like we stuffed ourselves with lots of sweet cake, and now, after a small break we are hungry again. Don’t get me wrong; I love playing the big arenas, but we are actually in dire need for something salty for a change. It might sound like the good ole “grass is greener on the other side” thing, but that’s what makes the whole business of being a rocker so much fun. There is always something to look forward to. And I might add here that personally, I’ve always been greedy for the salty stuff.”

 

Von Hertzen Brothers last album, New Day Rising (Spinefarm/Universal) was released to commercial success and much critical acclaim, and they have recently released a video for the song ‘Hold Me Up’

 

Von Hertzen Brothers Autumn European tour dates

Sep 02: Southampton Talking Heads, UK

Sep 04: London The Underworld, UK

Sep 12: Helsinki Tavastiaklubi, Finland

Nov 21: Stockholm Prog Fest, Sweden

Nov 22: Hamburg Rock Safe St Pauli, Germany

Nov 25: Cologne Underground, Germany

Nov 26: Aschaffenburg Colos Saal, Germany

Nov 27: Munich Backstage, Germany

Nov 28: Berlin Magnet, Germany

von hertzen brothers new day rising

RammingSpeed_NoEpitaphs

 

Ghost Cult is proud to partner with Prosthetic Records to deliver the full album stream of the new Ramming Speed album, No Epitaphs, due out on September 4th. You can hear the album below:

Gearing up for their pivotal third album, Ramming Speed stepped up their game considerably following their move from their hometown of Boston to Richmond, Virginia. The simple southern life certainly hasn’t tempered the bands hunger to write crushing, intelligent songs that owe equal parts to classic thrash, heavy metal and more current brutal flavors such as grindcore and d-beat. Working with longtime producer and Converge guitarist, Kurt Ballou at his GodCity Studios, No Epitaphs is a killer metal album that likes to party, but also sounds like Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal and John Stewart combined.

No Epitaphs track listing
1. No Forgiveness in Death

2. Choke Holds and Bullet Holes

3. Beasts of Labor

4. Don’t Let This Stay Here

5. This Is The Life We Chose

6. Walls

7. Break In The Chain

8. Truth To Power

9. Super Duty

10. Horns of War

11. Momentary Masters

Pre-order links are:
http://store.prostheticrecords.com/bands/ramming-speed
iTunes preorder link – http://hyperurl.co/2957j7
Amazon preorder link – http://hyperurl.co/qk28xo

Peter Gallagher – Vocals
Kallen Bliss
– Guitars
Snake Chuffskin
– Guitars
Ben Powell
– Bass
Jonah Livingston
– Drums

Ramming speed online

Ramming speed on Facebook

Ramming speed on Twitter

 

 

 

Photo credit: Alley Music Studios

Photo credit: Alley Music Studios

Legendary Los Angeles music studio and rehearsal space Alley Music Studios will be the focus of a documentary film, planned for release in 2016. Executive producer Todd Bellina and his team have been collecting footage, interviews with artists, and archival photos from the owners Bill and Shiloh Elkins, who have built and run the venerable studio used by a who’s who of headline acts for forty years, since opening its doors in 1973. The location continues to be a favorite of modern artists as well, as an alternative to the typical Hollywood studio experience.

The producers of the film have shared their synopsis of the film:

In the NoHo district of North Hollywood, California, quietly hidden behind a small burger joint, is a very unique and very special musical venue known as “The All3y”, a music rehearsal studio that has attracted some of the finest musical talent of the last four decades. From David Crosby to The Red Hot Chili Peppers to Jackson Brown and many more.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, photo credit: Alley Music Studios

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, photo credit: Alley Music Studios

Photo credit: Alley Music Studios

Photo credit: Alley Music Studios

Among the plans for the run up to the films’ release includes up to a 12-part mini series of episodes and live streaming. A partial past client list of the studio can be found on Alley Music Studios website, and some of these artists will be involved with the documentary:

David Lindley
Kiss
Deftones
The 4 Seasons
Ziggy Marley
Julian Casablancas And The Voidz
Lita Ford
Aimee Allen
The Black Crowes
John Bonham
Terry Bozzio
Jackson Browne
Lindsey Buckingham
Rosanne Cash
Stanley Clarke
Vinnie Colaiuta
Michael Des Barres Band
The Doobie Brothers
The Eagles
Melissa Etheridge
Little Feat
Bryan Ferry
Mick Fleetwood
Rayford Griffin
Joey Heredia
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Billy Idol
Etta James
Jim Keltner
Robby Krieger
Russ Kunkel
Jean Luc Ponty
Steve Lukather
The Meters
Rod Morgenstein
Steve Morse
Michael Mcdonald
Leo Nocentelli
System Of A Down
Nigel Olsson
Ozzy Osbourne
Gram Parsons
Missing Persons
Simon Phillips
Iggy Pop
Jeff Porcaro
Smashing Pumpkins
Bonnie Raitt
Billy Ray Cyrus
Chris Robinson Band
Linda Ronstadt
Katey Sagal
Carly Simon
Steve Smith
Steve Stevens
Mike Stinson
The Stooges
James Taylor
Stone Temple Pilots
Toto
Eddie Van Halen
Jack White
Lucinda Williams
Gary Wright
The Young Royals
Dweezil Zappa
Warren Zevon

The creators of the project are still seeking production partners, directors and contributors to the film of artists with memories of Alley Music Studios to share. You can contact them here:

 

The Alley Music Studios online

The Alley Music Studios on Facebook

Executive Producer Todd Bellina

415-450-7176

candlelight records logo

Ghost Cult Magazine is proud to team up with our pals at Candlelight Records to celebrate the addition of tons of first time ever titles for digital release from killer bands such as Kontinuum, Opium Lord, Alfahanne, Coltsblood, Anient Ascendant, Galvano and more on streaming services such as Spotify. Follow candlelightusa on Spotify to be entered to win one of 25 sets of download codes for the the exclusive “Candlelight Cult” playlist. Winners will be chosen at random and announced on Ghost Cult!

 

Candlelight Cult capture

Publicist UK forgive Yourself album cover 2015

Publicist UK’s sound is not what I expected to hear when first seeing internet headlines of a group featuring bassist Brett Bamberger of Revocation and drummer Dave Witte formerly of Burnt by the Sun and currently Municipal Waste (among 2,000 other bands). I’ve listened to Forgive Yourself (Relapse Records) three times already today and I’m still slightly surprised by the sound. The compositions here are lush, moody, and at more often than not beautiful.

It’s the kind of music that the cool kids on college radio play while wearing obnoxious hats and chastising Interpol for “selling out.” And I like it. A lot.

Rounding out this supergroup is Goes Cube guitarist David Obuchowski and Freshkills vocalist Zachary Lipez. If you, like myself, are a fan of lower voice ranges, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised with Lipez’s haunting baritone. It alters from BauhausPeter Murphy to Joy Division’s Ian Curtis while also summoning sounds not unlike Type O Negative’s Peter Steele. Lipez has sounded strong on Freshkills releases, but here he sounds fully committed to the performance.

‘Blood Relative’ and ‘I Wish You’d Never Gone to School’ are world weary and almost shoegaze in nature. Think Deafheaven, but without the black metal edge. Music that can maintain its dark heart all the while remaining tuneful and soothing. Even old man Morrissey would nod his stubborn head to these songs.

Acting as counterbalance to the gloominess is a heavy guitar chug that wouldn’t be out of place on a Helmet record on tracks like ‘Slow Dancing to this Bitter Earth’ and ‘Levitate the Pentagon.’ ‘Away’ closes out the affair while making good use of that heavier dynamic and even throwing in some of Witte’s famous double kick-drums without feeling out of place.

When I cranked this album on my laptop the last thing I expected was the musical equivalent of Joy Division on a collision course with Cave In, but what a lovely wreck it turned out to be.

9.0/10

HANSEL LOPEZ

anthrax studio header

Anthrax have offered a video update of the progress of their new album due in early 2016 from Megaforce Records. The video features Frank Bello, Scott Ian, and Charlie Benante discussing the writing and recording process of new material. You can watch the video at this link or below.

Clockwise from Left: Frank Bello, Charlie Benante, Scott Ian in the studio recording. Courtesy of Anthrax.com

Clockwise from Left: Frank Bello, Charlie Benante, Scott Ian in the studio recording. Courtesy of Anthrax.com

Starting with Riot Fest In Chicago on September 11th, the band has tour dates booked trough the end of the year including dates with Motörhead with an appearance on the Motörhead’s Motorboat cruise, more festivals such as Loud Park in Japan, and a run of European dates with Slayer.

 

Aug 28: Riot Fest & Rodeo – Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO

Sep 11: Riot Fest and Carnival – Humboldt Park, Chicago, IL

Sep 12: The Fillmore- Detroit, MI*

Sep 13: Madison Theatre- Covington, KY (headline)

Sep 15: The Dome, Wallingford- CT*

Sep 16: Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre- Wantagh, NY*

Sep 18: Theatre Olympia – Montreal, QC*

Sep 19: Shindig Festival- Carrol Park, Baltimore, MD

Sep 20: Food and Truck Festival – Oak Ridge Park, Clark, NJ

Sep 22: Tower Theatre- Philadelphia, PA*

Sep 23: The Fillmore- Charlotte, NC*

Sep 25: House of Blues- Lake Buena Vista, FL*

Sep 26: Pompano Beach Amphitheater- Pompano Beach, FL*

Sep 28 – Oct 2: Motorboat 2015 Cruise*

Oct 10: Loud Park 15- Tokyo, Japan

Oct 25: Theaters Tilburg- Tilburg, NL**

Oct 26: Zenith Paris, Paris- FR**

Oct 28: La Cooperative De Mai- Clermont-Ferrand, FR

Oct 30: Santana 27- Bilbao, ES**

Oct 31: Coliseum- La Coruna, ES**

Nov 01: La Riviera- Madrid, ES**

Nov 03: Razzmatazz- Barcelona, ES**

Nov 05: Alcatraz- Milano, IT**

Nov 07: Planet.tt Bank Austria Halle Gasometer B- Vienna, AT**

Nov 08: Haus Auersee- Leipzig, DE**

Nov 10: Zenith, die Kulturhalle- Munich, DE**

Nov 12: Columbiahalle- Berlin, DE**

Nov 13: RuhrCongress- Bochum, DE**

Nov 14: MHPArena- Ludwigsburg, DE

Nov 16: Jahrhunderthalle- Frankfurt, DE**

Nov 17: AB Main Hall- Brussels, BE**

Nov 19: Rockhal- Esch Sur Alzette, LU

Nov 21: Newport Centre- Newport, UK**

Nov 22: Plymouth Pavilions- Plymouth, UK**

Nov 24: O2 Apollo Manchester- Manchester, UK**

Nov 25: O2 Academy Glasgow- Glasgow, UK**

Nov 27: O2 Academy Birmingham- Birmingham, UK**

Nov 28: O2 Academy Leeds- Leeds, UK**

Nov 30: O2 Academy Brixton- Brixton, UK**

Dec 03: Kulturvaerflet – Helsinger, DK**

Dec 04:Sentrum Scene – Oslo, NO**

Dec 05: Lisebergshallen- Goteborg, SE**

Dec 09: Stadium Live – Moscow, RU**

* w/ Motorhead

** w/ Slayer

Decapitated. Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason Photography

Decapitated. Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason Photography

Polish death metallers Decapitated have spent a good portion of their near 20 year existence touring the globe and introducing audiences to their sheer musical brutality. Being from a former Eastern European country, they have been appreciative to the fact that they have had opportunities to tour the world.

While supporting their 2011 release Carnival Is Forever, they ventured around the world and hit a variety of different countries many bands have either have not ventured into or found to have a much larger fan base than they originally thought they had.

Guitarist Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka spoke about their time in Nepal, where they played during their Asian leg of their tour. This tour happened prior to the earthquake that sadly ravaged the country in April 2015.

Yeah we played in Nepal. We played in India. We had this Asian tour. We played in Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia…we played in Nepal. Nepal was the most unexpectable place that we could imagine to play in the past. We couldn’t imagine going to Nepal. We imagined huge mountains, animals walking on the street, total terrible traffic on the street, and everything totally different than in the world than in Europe or the US. It’s a totally different world. It’s a different culture, different religion, different people, but a totally great time. [It was a] totally great show. We played one show in Nepal in Katmandu. Stage was big. It was like 4000 people watching the show. It was a festival called Nep Fest. There were a couple of bands from around the world, mostly from metal in Asia. There was a band called Nerve Cell. The guys came from Dubai.

Well…great memories and we had opportunities to not just be there and play the festival. We met some really nice people there. They took us around the city and showed us some of the religious places. It’s the part of the world where they’re really into Buddhism. All of the things we see or things we hear some crazy stories about reading these things, we couldn’t believe it. I can’t wait to come back to this country and this part of the world. It’s something that’s really, really cool. The European people don’t have any idea. If someone were never there or see these countries…if you see this on TV or on the Discovery Channel, you cannot feel it 100 percent. You can’t see how different it is.

They learned how heavy metal music has spread across the globe and fans can be found almost everywhere possible. Vogg talked about how the music that they have been playing has reached into some of the unlikeliest of places such as Nepal.

What was surprising for us was there are so many metal fans – same as in the US or in Europe. We didn’t expect this in Nepal. There are so many metalheads, some of the bands have their own equipment and instruments, and they read and play, but not too many people know about it. They really want to play heavy metal in this part of the world.

Vogg of Decapitated

Vogg of Decapitated

He also found how Decapitated’s technical death metal sound was a much bigger deal than they originally believed in Japan. Vogg was enamored by the cultural aspects of Japan, as well as their time supporting Fear Factory on that leg of the tour.

I think Japanese fans and Japanese people are…their culture is about respect to perfection. Not just in a musical way, but in general, and in every kind of art and in life. I had a feeling that when we played in Tokyo or in Nagoya, those people really enjoy our show. There was a unique atmosphere going on [within] the show. I also have great memories of this place. We toured there with Fear Factory and we did three shows – Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

The shows were great. The Tokyo show was the biggest one. We played in Quattro venue I think [Club Quattro] and it was a sold out show – [It was] a couple hundred people. Osaka and Nagoya were a bit smaller but still really cool. What I remember it was a really professional crew. We came to the venue and we got all of the equipment we asked for before the tour and it was already set up on the stage, ready to go.

Then after the show, the crew was taking the gear to the trucks and straight to the next city. So in the morning, when we take the train to the next city, and we got to the venue and everything was set up on the stage in the same settings as we set up the last night.

We only spent three or four days there. It was so cool. If they enjoy our music, I’m sure yes. I have to say we have a pretty big fan base in Japan. I hope to come back to this country.

By Rei Nishimoto

Amorphis2015a

Amorphis, photo credit by Ville Juurikkala

The mid-to-late 90’s bore witness to a phenomenon in underground metal. If the UK with Napalm Death et al had been the birth place of death metal, a sound that travelled the big blue to the States to be forged into the beast we know today, then the British Isles was once again the location for the conception of one of the most influential albums for a new sub-genre that, while it didn’t infect the American sound, instead traversed east rather than west and took Europe by storm, giving birth to the eponymous “Gothic” Metal.

Paradise Lost’s Gothic (Peaceville) wasn’t just a landmark, it was an album that tolled a massive bell with eager, willing and creative minds and created the landscape for the mid-to-late 90’s in underground metal. Last year saw the twentieth anniversary of AmorphisTales From The Thousand Lakes, an album that was to develop that blueprint and take it in a different direction, the Finns being one of the first to fuse death and doom with folk-inspired melodies, clean vocals and progressive 70’s influenced music. But without Gothic, and it’s ground-breaking innovation, bringing in female vocals, orchestral manoeuvres (most probably in the dark, yes) and haunting melodic leads over doomier death metal, …Thousand Lakes may not have turned out the way it did.

“It was probably one the most influential albums for Amorphis in the early days, yes” agrees Amorphis lifer, Esa Holopainen, the six-stringer responsible for creating the Finns classic early release. “Paradise Lost started the way of combining melody lines into death metal music, with a doom ensemble. That then started to influence a lot of bands.

“It’s funny, because, you see in the longer term bands, there’s a lot of bands, like Moonspell – I just heard their new album – bands start to look back at where they came from and their past”. Even Paradise Lost themselves… “Yes. Everyone is starting to walk the circle around and taking more and more influences from their roots, which is a really good thing.”
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When Holopainen was taking inspiration from Gothic and crafting the two albums that really put Amorphis on the map …Thousand Lakes and the follow up, Elegy (both Relapse), it was in the midst of an explosion of creative excellence that flooded through Europe.

“The period of time was when little underground labels started to grow up with their bands, and bands were releasing their classic albums. In the 90’s a lot of classic albums and a lot of albums that became milestones to those bands were made,  and that influenced other bands. It’s pretty amazing, but look back at how many great metal albums there were (at that time)!

“There hasn’t been another era after that since then that’s matched it for so many good albums. I don’t know why. 

“A lot of bands at that time, when we did those albums, proved to be a platform for the metal scene to be able to explore what we were doing, but much wider. Since then there’s been more and more new bands (influenced by the European metal albums of the 90s); heavy metal became almost trendy over here in Finland when Lordi won the Eurovision and even grandmothers were listening to metal, and those albums of the 90’s were the platform for the next wave of bands.

“You see Nuclear Blast who weren’t so big then are now probably the biggest label out there, selling as much as some major (labels);  it’s pretty amazing how it’s all grown.”

Amorphis2015j

Amorphis, photo credit by Ville Juurikkala

While Paradise Lost may have opened Pandora’s Box, Holopainen’s Amorphis were one of the first bands to stick their heads deep into its recesses and really find freedom in the possibilities. Their debut The Karellian Isthmus (also Relapse) had been a decent, Scandinavian death metal album, but they then took the bold step to incorporate doomier riffs, clean vocals, folk music, keyboards and take influence from Deep Purple, Rainbow and other more retrospective elements.

“At that time we were huge fans of 70’s rock bands. In Finland there were a lot of progressive rock bands who were incorporating traditional and folk music, and we were listening to things like Jethro Tull and Hawkwind, lots of hippy music we liked!

“The big thing was, we felt there were no limits when we were writing the music for …Thousand Lakes – there were some really strange arrangements in there! We had a keyboard player, Kasper, who came into the band and he’d never played in a metal band, he was totally into The Doors and playing those types of songs. He was so excited when he realized there was a mini-moog in Sunlight Studios and, naturally, he wanted to use that a lot.

“All that mixture of things, all that soup, became the Amorphis sound.”

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Happy to talk about their prestigious history, and their first landmark album, Holopainen continues. “We didn’t have a big plan, we were just doing the album how we wanted, until Tomas the producer asked “Does your record company know what you’re doing?” He was afraid they weren’t going to like it because it was so different! We just thought “OH SHIT!” but carried on.

“Then we started to get praise and good critics for it, and it was a success. It was kind of, but not by accident, but it came by following our instincts and being ambitious with what we wanted to do.”

Did you realize at time how ground-breaking it was? When did it sink in that it was a “classic”?

“It came as surprise how popular that album became. It took many many years before we realized how important an album it actually was. Even just a couple of years ago, we were only just realizing it must have been a really influential album because you read interviews from other bands that they say …Thousand Lakes was influential for them.

“At the time there was no black metal scene, it was just bubbling under, and no folk metal at all; that was many years later with bands like Ensiferum, and they say our albums were very influential for them.

“That is the greatest feedback you can get as a musician that you actually influenced other musicians to make their bands”

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The second Amorphis classic was to follow two years later, as the sound evolved and deathly chugs were replaced with a much more progressive and folk-tinged rock bent, power chords replaced with open strings, and the timeless Elegy was created, an album most definitely not better unborn.

2016 sees Paradise Lost bringing Gothic back to life on stage at Roadburn, and following the success of both 2014’s tour and Amorphis’ spot at Maryland Deathfest playing …Thousand Lakes’ shows, could we see a twentieth anniversary celebration for Elegy?

“It’s not an impossible idea. We had a good time doing the Tales… shows, and the good thing about production now is we know how to get these sounds and make these things work. One of the great things of Amorphis is we can do different products – we did an acoustic tour – and we like to challenge ourselves and do something different.

“Elegy, for me, is my favourite album of the earlier Amorphis times and it’s not an impossible idea that we can do an Elegy tour.”

 

Under The Red Cloud is out on September 4th via Nuclear Blast. Order here.

STEVE TOVEY

 

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Nechochwen are classified as Folk Metal, but whereas most music in that genre is inspired by Celtic or Nordic heritage, this band finds its themes in Native American heritage. Heart of Akamon (Bindrune/Eihwaz) is their third record.

‘The Serpent Tradition’, the opening song of this album, immediately showcases the folk and the metal that are combined in this band. The acoustic guitars sound magical, and while the switch from heavy to soft was abrupt, the build back into heavy is very well done. The clean vocals are beautiful, as are the acoustic guitar pieces intermingled with the metal riffs, and there is a lot of variation. However, the end is once again rather abrupt.

The more acoustic-centred songs such as ‘The Impending Winter’, ‘October 6, 1813’, and the guitar section in ‘Traversing the Shades of Death’ are really well crafted and unique, while the metal sections and songs, such as ‘Skyhook’, are good but not truly remarkable.

The musical highlight of this album, however, is the instrumental ‘Kišelamakong’. It is a beautiful composition.

One point that this band could improve upon is cohesion. There is a bit too much of a split between folk and metal, and while ‘The Serpent Tradition’ for instance has sections where they blend together perfectly, this does not happen often or fluently enough on other parts of the album. Additionally, the switches between loud and gentle are at times too abrupt, while being very organic at other points. While each individual section is very good, the changes in speed in the introduction of ‘Škimota’ aren’t great. The addition of the drums helps keep the following variations together.

Finding a balance throughout the songs or even the entire album would make a massive difference. Still, there are a lot of excellent pieces of music and it is certainly an album worth listening to.

 

7.5/10

 

LORRAINE LYSEN

Cult of Luna Fall US TOur 2015 admat

Cult of Luna will kickoff their brief fall tour tour tonight, co-headlining with Kylesa. Joining for the 9-date cross country jaunt will be Minsk, Subrosa and InAeona. This is the first tour of the US since Cult of Luna released Vertikal (Indie Recordings) in 2013 and promises to be an “event” worthy concert experience. Kylesa will use these dates as the warm up to the release of their new album Exhausting Fire, due out from Season of Mist on October 2nd. 

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Cult of Luna – Kylesa tour dates:

Sept 01: Gramercy Theater – New York, NY*

Sept 02: Cafe Campus – Montreal CAN*

Sept 03: Mod Club Theater- Toronto, CAN*

Sept 04: Reggies- Chicago, IL*

Sept 05: Rickshaw Theater- Vancouver, CAN**

Sept 06: Neumo’s – Seattle, WA**

Sept 07: Star Theater – Portland, OR**

Sept 08: Slims – San Francisco, CA**

Sept 09: The Observatory, Santa Ana, CA**

*with InAeona

**with Minsk

**with Subrosa

Amorphis2015e

Amorphis, photo credit by Ville Juurikkala

It has been twenty five years since guitarist Esa Holopainen and drummer Jan Rechberger (a)morphed their thrash metal band, Violent Solution with death metal act Abhorrence (featuring guitarist Tomi Koivusaari) to begin their new band Amorphis. In that twenty five years (save for a seven year spell around the turn of the millennium when Rechberger was absent) the trio have been the heartbeat of one of Finland’s most influential and admired acts.

For 2005’s Eclipse, the bands seventh album but first of a budding and fruitful relationship with Nuclear Blast, the band integrated vocalist Tomi Joutsen to produce an album that defined their sound from that point forth before 2013’s Circle saw the band experiment with a darker, more metallic Peter Tagtren produced album that reintroduced a heavier side to the band following the poppier, more melodic (but thoroughly brilliant) The Beginning Of Times.

Step forward Under The Red Cloud, the bands twelfth full length, and an undeniable return to form… and then some… with rising producer Jens Bogren (Soilwork, Moonspell) helping the band to find the ultimate, classic third era Amorphis sound. Taking a heavier turn, it is packed with powerful riffs and sweeping, epic melodies. “Yeah, …Red Cloud definitely follows where we were going with Circle, but production wise it’s way more dynamic” begins founding member Holopainen, expounding on the importance of working with a producer who is not only good at his craft, but also knows exactly what elements to draw out of a band.

“It’s the first album we’ve done with Jens as a producer and he wanted to take all the elements he likes about Amorphis and translate them into this album, and I’m so happy with the results. It’s got more growling vocals than any other album with Tomi, but not too much – it’s a good balance with the clean vocals.

“I think it’s the best one we have done with Tomi on vocals. I have a really, really positive feeling about this album.”

Amorphis2015d Photos by Ville Juurikkala

Amorphis, photo credit Ville Juurikkala

For a band with several distinct epochs, there has been a consistency of sound and style since Joutsen’s integration; a stronger, more uptempo metal presence than was evident in the Pasi Koskinen era. The appointment of Joutsen, and the carving out of their newer style, is seen as reinvigorating, and perhaps even saving Amorphis; a band whose critical star had shined so brightly on the legendary pairing of Tales From The Thousand Lakes (1994) and Elegy (1996), but who had strayed from the elements (uptempo, folk-infused melodic death metal) that many associated with them.

“He’s made a huge impact for us”, agrees Esa. “It was very, very motivating for the whole band when Tomi joined Amorphis. All that reflects in the music as well, and it’s been great fun writing music with him; a really talented guy and when you’re writing it gives us some extra things to the music as you know what he can do.” A multi-talented vocalist, Joutsen restored a mix of growled vocals, along with his hugely impressive, strong and distinctive cleans, to the Amorphis sound. “It was an easy switch when he joined, and he fit from the beginning. It’s a different era – you can easily compare the two, it’s like totally another band”, the mild mannered guitarist continues.

“The funny thing about Tomi is that he always surprises and feels like he’s gone one louder on this album with the vocals! He uses almost like a black metal vocal sometimes on this one, and he’s developed the contrasts with his growling stuff; it’s really strong.”

Had, by the time the band were releasing Far From The Sun (the bands last for Relapse) and Koskinen’s own motivation had waned, Amorphis strayed too far into progressive and rockier territories?

“In the past, after Elegy we did a couple of albums which were moving quite far away from the metal sound. But at that time, those albums were very important to do and from those albums we still have a lot of those elements in our sound with the more open guitars and more ambient sort of sound that we like to flavour our music with.

“With Jens coming in, he said he wanted to take everything that’s good about all of Amorphis, and I guess we are more influenced by the older sounds of the band again now than we were.”

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Holopainen’s enthusiasm for …Red Cloud is apparent, and he is clearly feeling fired up by this albums’ amalgam of past and present. “This album doesn’t have any fillers, all of the songs on the album earned their place. It’s a very, very natural progression from Circle, where we started to allow the extreme influences back into the album, and I think this album takes that on, but stronger. Also we felt that nobody would be surprised if we went in a heavier direction after doing the Tales From The Thousand Lakes (20th anniversary) tour.”

Under The Red Cloud has a feeling of being a culmination of everything Amorphis has been before. While it was the previous album that was titled Circle, it is this one feels like the “circle” being closed, because it pulls together everything that is and has been Amorphis. In the accompanying press release Esa had stated that he sees Red Cloud in the top three Amorphis albums… and it’s easy to see that this is an album that can stand up to an impressive legacy.

“I surely hope so. It was a great feeling to get the final product in my hand and listen to the album through and I have a really good feeling about these songs.

“I do love Eclipse a lot because I have good memories of starting to work with Tomi, and it’s a strong album, and Elegy, for me, is my favourite album of the earlier Amorphis times, but when you do a good job you know it, and this is the best album we’ve done with Tomi.”

 

Under The Red Cloud is out on September 4th via Nuclear Blast. Order here. 

STEVE TOVEY

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Primitive Race is a supergroup consisting of, among others, Chris Kniker, Mark Thwaite, Graham Crabb, Erie Loch, Tommy Victor, Raymond Watts, Dave Ogilvie, Kourtney Klein, and Mark Brooks, and thus this self-titled album (Metropolis) consists of parts of very nearly every great Industrial band that there is or has been. Consequently, the album does not have one single sound, but bounces around between various forms of the Industrial style, from the bluesy sound of ‘Cage Rattler’ to the catchy rock riffs of ‘Taking Things Back’, to the dark recesses of gothic rock of ‘Below Zero’.

One of the songs that makes a good impression is ‘So Strange’. It is nicely electronic but happily industrial. The vocals are clean, but with a slightly constricted sound that is actually quite nice as an effect making the overall thing very catchy yet non-intrusive. ‘Cage Rattler’ is also very good, although the backing vocals are monotonous to the point of annoyance. The riffs are excellent, nice and bluesy, with good solos even, but the vocals are less impressive. The screaming at the end is the best vocal performance of the song.

‘Addict Now’, ‘Give Up The Ghost’, and ‘Taking Things Back’ are very different songs, but they are all solid and effective compositions. However, the best song on the album may well be ‘Below Zero’, with its incredible vocals and lovingly depressing style; reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails or Lacrimas Profundere, this is a very pleasing sound.

Not all is fun and games on this album, however. While ‘Acceptance of Reality’ has some good riffs, and enough variation to be interesting, the solo is abysmal – even for an eclectic solo there are rather few notes in the proper key. ‘Platinum Balls’ is rather boring, and ‘Follow the Leader’ is grating as the vocals are not mixed in to the music, but are layered over. The worst offender is ‘DJFH’, which has terribly annoying synths coupled with terribly bad vocals. There are just too many dropped or downright dissonant notes.

On the one hand it is great to have a lot of different styles, on the other hand, the album lacks cohesion. It bounces around from totally awesome to rather unpleasant, and with such an experienced bunch of musicians it really ought to be better.

 

6.0/10

 

LORRAINE LYSEN

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Abbath, the namesake band led by the iconic ex-Immortal front man of the same name (Olve Eikemo (a.k.a. Abbath) will see its début album release this coming January from Season of Mist. Abbath made its live début this past June at the Tuska Festival in Helsinki, FI. At that concert Abbath played two new songs, some Immortal classic and even some black metal covers. The band has already been named as one of the headliners of the all Norwegian lineup of Blastfest 2016.

Abbath’s current line-up

Abbath – Vocals/ Guitar

King Ov Hell (Tom Cato Visnes) Bass

Baar Kolstad (God Seed/Borknagar) Drums

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This July Abbath unsuccessfully bid to secure the rights to the Immortal Band name in Norwegian court but lost to his former bands mates; lyricist/guitarist Demonaz (real name Harald Nævdal) and drummer Horgh (real name Reidar Horghagen). Abbath recently gave an interview to Metal Hammer about the split and going solo:

“I didn’t want to go solo in the first place. I wanted the best for Immortal. I didn’t want it to end this way. First of all, I just wanted my music out. I wanted to record the [next] album [because] it’s been so many years since ‘All Shall Fall’. And both Demonaz and Horgh, they have kids and families now, and it just hit that point where I couldn’t work the way they wanted to work any more. I wanted things on my terms and they wanted things on their terms, and it was very difficult.”

“I wanted to rehearse at least three times a week, but often it was only once a week and things went so slow. I sat there with all this material, I kept the rehearsal space and recorded the stuff on click track, but it was a very strained atmosphere and the Last time we worked together was in early June last year.”

Asked if the decision to part ways and seek out new band members was inevitable, Abbath said: “I was forced to do it this way. I wanted Immortal to continue, but not the way it was. The dialogue has not been there and it’s also my mistake. I should have brought up this shit a long time ago, but Immortal, after Demonaz‘s problems with his arms, it never became a band after that.”

He continued: “Immortal is a very special situation. [Demonaz] hasn’t been in the band, but then I always wanted to do the best for everybody, to have the band spirit, and that’s why when we decided to start Immortal again, we tried to get the spirit back, and bring him on tour, and just share our thing and be a band and have a kick-ass time. But it never worked out. The chemistry wasn’t there with the Immortal guys and hadn’t been for a while.”

“I believe in my music and I believe in my expression, but time flies and we grow apart. Maybe in the future we can go back again, I don’t know, but right now I just want to do my thing and just be Abbath and have people around me who support that.”