“Come with me now; be joyful. It is time to enter The Electric Castle!”
After the wild success of the Ayreon Universe shows in 2017, where an audience of international Ayreonauts was treated to a best-of selection of Ayreon’s most popular songs, the Poppodium 013 once again opened its gates to the gentle hordes in September of 2019. 2018 had seen the twenty-year anniversary and the re-mixed and -mastered version of Into The Electric Castle, and thus it was a logical step that this new live show centered around that album, a favourite of many. To the great thrill of not only the fans but the artists as well, Arjen managed to gather most of the cast members of the original album, and the most admirable substitutes for those who couldn’t make it. Continue reading →
For the uninitiated, Volbeat is not just an international success, but a very big deal in their home country of Denmark. Perhaps not yet as ubiquitous as more favorite sons Lars Ulrich (more about him later) and King Diamond, but pretty big. Volbeat has cool albums, but the live experience is what seals the deal (see what I did there?). The band is simply incredible live, playing up to the fans, entertaining every second and making a giant crowd of nearly 50,000 feel intimate. All while the band just jams their hits and deep cuts alike on Let’s Boogie! Live From Telia Parken (Republic). It’s a testament to why they are one of the best rock and heavy metal bands in the world right now. Continue reading →
Playing to a packed out Wacken Festival, German Metal legends Accept pulled out all the stops last year by performing a two-hour long set of purest classic teutonic Metal. Split into three separate acts, the band tore through a collection of greatest hits and instrumental surprises for the gathered long-haired faithful Continue reading →
It’s hard to believe that Amon Amarth has been a band for over twenty-five years. The incredible arc of their journey from a suburban bunch of guys from nearby Stockholm, Sweden with a dream to world dominating metal force majeure is nothing short of astounding. As much as I have followed their career as closely as possible, there were definite gaps in my knowledge. In the incredible new documentary/concert film Amon Amarth – The Pursuit Of Vikings: 25 Years In The Eye Of The Storm(Metal Blade) certainly illuminates the backstory of one of the greatest modern metal bands today. It definitely didn’t happen overnight and there were many missteps that could have ensured they never succeeded. However, the Amon Amarth story is about perseverance and the strength to achieve what your mind desires. Continue reading →
Lacuna Coil celebrated twenty years by filming The 119 Show – Live in London (Century Media) in that bastion of musicality, London Town. The more than two-hour show showcases all that’s good about Lacuna Coil and features amazing performances by Incandescence Circus Theatre Company. From the freaky circus backdrop to the band taking the stage in unsettling white face paint, The 119 Show is a mélange of American Horror Story Season 4, a wicked Lacuna Coil show, and amateurish editing. Continue reading →
On the back notable career highs, Russian Progressive duo iamthemorning quickly became one of the modern Prog scene’s most recognisable and heralded entities. Most recent album Lighthouse (Kscope) particularly found a wider and fawning audience with varying aspects and artistry throughout. Perhaps commemorating this career high point, Ocean Sounds (Kscope) is a live performance filmed and based in a studio, as opposed to a live show, which provides a twist in comparison to the usual live release affairs.
The most striking aspect of this visual presentation and live studio recording is the beauty of the surrounding scenery, which is clear to see through the studio’s panoramic window structures. The remote location encased by the sea and the gorgeous coastal landscape perfectly encapsulates not only the oceanic imagery that iamthemorning have used prominently on recent albums; the solitude of the location matches the escaping, melancholic but enriching quality that their music possesses. Natural sunlight flows into studio as the openness almost follows the sun, being particularly magic with the even-time red light pouring through, or during the late evening/night-time period which matches the calming serenity that iamthemorning are craftsman at.
Laid out with the duo’s live setup and accompanying backing musicians, and with a set list mostly consisting of their most recent albums, Ocean Sounds sees the band on top form and shows exactly why they have been embraced so strongly by the Prog fraternity. The live versions of many of these songs reveals further nuances in part, and shows and enhances tones more greatly, for example how ‘5/4’ from Belighted (Kscope) feels a much more cheerful number than its studio version. The set showcases the dynamics, as subtle as they are, throughout their recent catalogue; ‘Os Lunatum’ is a modest piece which alternates between a ballad-like vibe that builds up to some subtle Jazz elements, all of which works well with the more classical reminiscent ‘Matches’.
Whilst the whole band ensemble shines, it is the partnership of Gleb Kolyadin and Marjana Semkina that, unsurprisingly, stands out here. Kolyadin shows just what a virtuoso talent he is as he moves between grand piano and keyboard, ranging from complex pieces to more minimalist but equally emotive and powerful passages, whilst Semkina’s voice is a majestic and suitably delicate and powerful when required throughout, showcasing just why she is undoubtedly one of the greatest voices in Progressive Rock in this current day.
A live album/performance DVD is often evidence of a band’s live prowess and the love and reaction from the crowd, but whilst there is enough of a performance component here to praise iamthemorning on, the contained and near private feel of Ocean Sounds actually suits the band perfectly and works better than a traditional live offering. iamthemorning’s music is meant for individual immersion, for escaping, whilst maybe getting lost in the great outdoors, and Ocean Sounds nails that without losing any of that characteristic heart and sense of tranquillity. Ocean Sounds is the culmination of a huge rise for the band and should hopefully mark their continued ascent into upper echelons of Progressive Rock, and the hearts of its many followers.
The first thing that strikes you during the sumptuous, slow-build to opening track ‘Slip To The Void’ is how perfect the marriage of Alter Bridge and The Parallax Orchestra is; Myles Kennedy’s vulnerable, melancholic introduction is subtly embellished by the swells of strings before the dramatic introduction of the guitars and the rest of the band is powerfully bolstered for the heavy verse, with perfect accentuation following on the middle eight. Continue reading →
After a quarter of a century, what is there left for a band to do? If you are Moonspell, you put out a live three disk cd with accompanying three-hour long video that includes a documentary and three albums played in their entirety live. Vocalist Fernando Ribeiro, drummer Mike Gaspar, Pedro Paixao on keyboards, guitarist Ricardo Amorim, and bassist Aires Pereira present the epic Lisboa Under the Spell (Napalm Records). Continue reading →
If you are familiar with Ayreon, you will probably know that these collaborative works of music are the brainchild of the somewhat reclusive Arjen Anthony Lucassen, and are rarely – if ever – performed live. September 2015saw the presentation of The Theater Equation, four shows in which the album The Human Equation (Inside Out) was performed in its entirety in front of a live audience. While this was a successful endeavour, we had been assured for years that there would never be a live ‘best of’ performance of Ayreon. Continue reading →
It seems most bizarre to think that a beast as all-conquering of the metal world as Slipknot had yet to take their larger-than-life stage show into Mexico City at any point in their twenty-year existence. Yet, until December 2015, and the .5 – The Grey Chapter’s incarnation of Knotfest,that particular duck had yet to broken. Continue reading →