GHOST CULT’S ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Steve Tovey: Top 20 of 2019

2019 seems an odd year for me to be writing a post about my albums of year, and to have so many albums I want to name-check or mention. See, early in the year I stepped down from my role within Ghost Cult – nothing the Cult did wrong, just a question of life and balance. Stepping back from direct exposure to every rock, metal or alternative release should have meant I had fewer albums to care about, but, actually, it’s afforded me more time with each of the albums that I have connected with. Continue reading

Ghost Cult’s Album of the Year 2019 – Part 1 (75-41)

Carcass with Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast) in 2013, Behemoth and The Satanist (Metal Blade) in 2014, Ghost in 2015 and 2018 with Meliora and Prequelle (both Loma Vista), Magma (Roadrunner) by Gojira in 2016, and 2017’s Emperor of Sand (Mastodon – Reprise) is our legacy. Those incredible, scene-enhancing, ear-destroying releases are the standard-bearers by which Ghost Cult‘s albums of the year are to be judged. These are the albums of our times; and following another sensation year of great alternative, rock, and metal, the pantheon cries out for more, for another slab of wax, another Album of the Year to join them… the very best of 2019.

With a fully democratic poll of the views and votes of the length and breadth of Team Ghost Cult (including our photographers, reviewers, newshounds, podcast and YouTube contributors) taken, with no editorial steer or amendment, we present to you Part 1 (75-41) of the Official Ghost Cult Albums of the Year for 2019, for your vulgar delectation… Continue reading

André Matos, Former Lead Singer of Angra and Viper, Dead at Age 47

André Matos, the former lead singer of the Brazilian metal bands Angra and Viper, has died unexpectedly at the age of 47. His death was confirmed by ex-Angra drummer Ricardo Confessori, who wrote on his Facebook page: “It is with deep pain in our hearts that we say goodbye to André once again, this time definitively.” André performed last Sunday (June 2) at the Espaço das Américas in São Paulo with Shaman and also made a guest appearance with the show’s headliners, Avantasia. Tobias Sammet wrote on his Facebook page: “I am devastated by the tragic news about the passing of my friend André Matos whom I shared the stage with only five days ago. I am in shock. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest in peace, André Matos.” We send our deepest sympathies for Matos’ family, friends, and fans at this time. Continue reading

Avantasia – Moonglow

The bombastic operatic Metal of Avantasia continues apace with their eighth album Moonglow (Nuclear Blast), and just in case you were in any doubt it opens with a nigh on ten minute slice of pomp that would not sound out of place on Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell 2 (MCA/Virgin). The conceptual nature and fantastical sound of previous album Ghostlights is expanded upon here, helped by the ample time Tobias Sammet was given when making it. Continue reading

Amorphis – Queen of Time  

At first Death Metal but now encompassing Folk, Symphonic and Prog Rock elements, Amorphis are a multifaceted Finnish Metal group with nearly thirty years on the clock (twenty eight, but who’s counting). Following on from the driven yet melodious Heavy Metal of Under the Red Cloud is their thirteenth album Queen of Time (Nuclear Blast), along with the production skills of Jens Bogren – whose previous work includes Amon Amarth, Kreator and Opeth amongst others. This record follows the same urgent, heavy yet tuneful ethos but with a much broader scope, with synths, choirs, violins, folk and prog all adding to the mix. Continue reading

Magnum – Lost On The Road To Eternity

The release of Magnum’s twentieth studio album, Lost On The Road To Eternity (SPV/Steamhammer) is no mean feat, considering twenty-five years ago, the band were releasing the aptly named and wholly underwhelming Sleepwalking (Music For Nations) while struggling to find a foothold in a musical environment that had no room for them. Continue reading

Ayreon – The Source

2017 will be seen as a monumental year for both Arjen Anthony Lucassen and for Ayreon; the band and its fanatical fan base. Significantly it will mark the first live performances by Ayreon (and a very rare live appearance by the infamously shy and reclusive Lucassen), but also sees a brand new album that revisits the conceptual narrative of one of the band’s most beloved albums, 01011001 (InsideOut). Showing a return to the sci-fi storyline of said album, The Source (Mascot) in fact acts as a prequel piece, and is the most refined and strongest album they have released for some time. Continue reading

Tuska Festival 2016: Day Three – Helsinki, Finland

Tuska Festival 2016 poster ghostcultmag

Day 3

Myrkur, by TJ Fowler Photography

Myrkur, by TJ Fowler Photography

Myrkur has generated lots of attention, and seemingly Amalie Bruun, primus motor, has received threats to her life for being a female musician doing the post black metal thing. It seems to be the ultimate blasphemy to certain individuals, that probably haven’t been there from the inception of the scene nor have they understood the rebellious primary foundation of the initial scene, where most of the legendary figures embrace both musical diversity and experimentation. I must admit to first seeing it as yet another cash-cow of everything that is black metal, like most things these days, it seems. However, with the release of her début album, M (Relapse), she won me over. Therefore I really wanted to catch her full set, as this would be my first exposure to her music in a live setting. Sadly, we didn’t manage to be at the festival site until Myrkur were in the middle of their set. Yet, even from afar, in between all the bustle from festival-goers elsewhere on the site, her angelic voice penetrated and created a welcoming atmosphere.

Gojira, by TJ Fowler Photography

Gojira, by TJ Fowler Photography

Gojira were simply incredible! It’s not the band I have played the most, although I became a fan around From Mars To Sirius (Roadrunner). But as a live band they are simply amazing! The level of musicianship, the songs’ ability to balance brutality and catchiness… It’s simply one of the best live bands in the metal genre these days, just like Behemoth. Both bands are able to create this energy that just makes the audience feed from it for the entire time the show lasts. With a set consisting of twelve songs, and with a good variation of songs from all their five albums, the show had a little for everyone of their fans. But maybe the most spectacular about the show was seeing them perform ‘Stranded’ live for the first time. That song manages to take some minor details and create an enormously catchy extreme metal song.

Tuska Festival 2016, by TJ Fowler Photography

Tuska Festival 2016, by TJ Fowler Photography

The mood was entirely different as we entered the tent stage again to catch Swedish gloomsters Katatonia. The band used to struggle live, but has since the mid 2000’s also become a live band worth catching. Their new album, The Fall Of Hearts (Peaceville) is really good, and it was nice to get to hear a couple of songs from it. The only negative aspect of the show was really that it didn’t last long enough, and that they neglected their back catalogue somewhat. Then again, they played ‘Nephilim’, and ‘In The White’, two personal favourites of mine, and two songs I never had expected for them to play. And of course the band played the hits, and by saying that, I am thinking of ‘My Twin’, and ‘July’.

Children Of Bodom, by TJ Fowler Photography

Children Of Bodom, by TJ Fowler Photography

Finishing off the Tuska experience: Children Of Bodom. Actually they seem to be more about calling themselves The Children of Bodom Hate Crew these days, which makes Alexi Laiho slightly come across as an emo boy at 37 years of age with mascara and nailpolish and an attempt at the teenage rebellion thing going with his image. Musically on the other hand the band are rock solid, and if you enjoy seeing keyboards tilted forwards to show off solo skills or you enjoy endless solos more reminding of power metal than extreme metal, I’m sure this would be the show for you. I, as you might have figured out, think Children Of Bodom are a bit too cheesy to my taste. I enjoyed my sixth serving of muiku immensely more than this last Tuska headliner.
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WORDS BY PÅL LYSTRUP

PHOTOS BY TJ FOWLER PHOTOGRAPHY