Ill Nino – Til Death, La Familia

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Chances are if you’ve followed mainstream metal in the past 15 years or so that you will have seen many a band come, many a band go and many stick around trying to re-create their previous success. Back in the early 2000’s Latin metallers Ill Nino were a regular feature of the scene, their first album Revolution Revolucion (Roadrunner) garnering them more than a few fans. Cut to the present day and Ill Nino are still alive and kicking, although their latest album isn’t quite as alive or kicking as the band themselves as Till Death, La Familia (Victory) leaves a feeling of indifference.

Starting with ‘Live Like There’s No Tomorrow,’ the song doesn’t give off the sense of urgency the title suggests it should have, the cries of “live like there’s no tomorrow” falling flat. After this, things do improve but only sporadically, with tracks such as the aggressively melodic ‘Not Alive In my Nightmare’ standing alongside such bland affairs as ‘Blood Is Thicker Than Water.’ It’s a running theme throughout the album with the good songs only really turning up in the middle section of the LP, which may be a bit too late for some listeners. ‘Pray I Don’t Find You,’ a slow starting but ultimately menacing track is one of the pick of the bunch, as its quick instrumental work and hostile shouts combine to create something very much worth listening to. Following number ‘World So Cold’ keeps up the angry entertainment, while ‘Dead Friends’ is yet another contender.

The problem, however, is that Till Death, La Familia doesn’t have enough of the above types of songs. Dull in some places and great in not many others, the results are an album that gives no real reason to listeners to draw them to keep coming back. Of course, there are a few tracks that you should hear but even these aren’t strong enough to warrant purchasing this album as for all but the most ardent of Ill Nino fans Till Death, La Familia is far from being a must have in your music collection.

 

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5.0/10.0

 

 

EMMA QUINLAN

 

Islander – Violence and Destruction

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For a new band just getting started, garnering praise from musicians in the industry is a major benefit. More than just a stroking of the ego, these types of recommendations can help to build hype around an artist as fans of the famous admirer take note of what their musical hero is saying. Islander are a band who have been given such praise, with H.R. from punk legends Bad Brains and Sonny Sandoval from nu-metallers P.O.D. lapping up the foursomes brand of alternative rock/metal.

 

However, just because they like it doesn’t mean everyone will, and when it comes to their debut album, Violence and Destruction (Victory), that certainly rings true.

 

A mixture of heartfelt lyrics and nu-metal/alt-rock tones, Islander’s first full-length is a grower not a shower, with some tracks neither showing nor really growing. A mixture of the two, opener ‘Counteract,’ an angst-ridden metal affair and ‘The Sadness of Graves,’ an aggressive but melodic track, set a high standard from the off but not everything that follows is cut from the same entertaining cloth. ‘New Wave,’ ‘Count Dracula’ and ‘Cold Speak’ are half-decent almost sombre tracks with sincere lyrics but lack anything to really make them stand out, while songs such as the zealous ‘Side Effects of Youth’ and creative ‘Pains’ show a different, more musically passionate side to the band, a side which is much more entertaining to hear.

 

Then there’s the nu-metal anthem ‘Criminals,’ which features the aforementioned Sonny Sandoval and sounds like it was taken straight from the 90s, a great track for anyone who into their nu-metal or is looking for some nostalgia to their youth. In the next breath is ‘Mira,’ a very short track that feels pretty much pointless. Finale ‘Violence and Destruction’ however leaves the album going out the way it came in; with an explosive yet harmonious bang, giving you at least a good last memory.

 

Violence and Destruction is a tale of two halves, one being great and the other being rather unmemorable. If you like your alt-metal with a douse of unpredictability, this album with surely quench that particular thirst, but not always for the right reasons.

 

5.0/10.0

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EMMA QUINLAN

 

 

Feed The Rhino – The Sorrow Of The Sound

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Sometimes a band that you’ve never really fancied before creates the kind of music that grabs you by the balls and makes them stand to attention [! – Reviews Ed]. Sometimes it’s a band that you’ve previously had preconceived ideas about and due to the genre that they’ve been associated with, you’ve scoffed at the very idea of even giving them a try. Feed The Rhino is a band that fit this personal description but after listening to The Sorrow Of The Sound (Century Media) it’s fair to say that many of ones previous misconceptions about the quintet have been banished.

Having not been a fan of some of the bands that Feed The Rhino have been mentioned in the same vein as, bands such as Suicide Silence for example, it was with trepidation that The Sorrow Of The Sound was listened too, but straight from the outset it is clear that the music at hand is of a grand quality.

Beginning with ‘New Wave’ Feed The Rhino treat us to an entrancingly catchy bass line, which quickly descends into a track full of haunting groove and is a contender for best song. The whole album is very melodically appealing, with tunes such as ‘Give Up,’ ‘Behind The Pride’ and ‘Deny and Offend’ providing some rousing choruses.

Mostly fitting into the Hardcore genre of music, The Sorrow Of Sound has vocals to fit – a mixture of screaming and singing, though not everyone will appreciate the blend of both in most songs, especially the harsher ones where the lyrics can sometimes here sound incoherent. However, even if you aren’t a fan of Hardcore music in general, Feed The Rhino’s latest offering is still worth a shot. From the slow burning tunes of ‘Black Horse’ to the aggressive sounds of ‘Bright Side of a Dark Ride,’ The Sorrow Of Sound has a great youthful energy about it that feels accessible to all music fans and not just one of the genre it resides in.

Full of spirit and zest, Feed The Rhino’s third album may have some aspects that might not appeal to everyone but it’s still a great compilation of music regardless. Giving animals with horns on their heads food is not a wise idea, giving bands named after them your time, is.

 

8.0/10.0

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EMMA QUINLAN

Wo Fat – The Conjuring

 

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Not everybody has the attention span for songs that boil over the four-minute mark and when done badly, this type of music can sometimes be a chore to listen to. Wo Fat is a threesome from Texas whose songs have become longer and longer with each release, while their number of tracks has become shorter. Boasting a stoner-rock sound, with some doom and psychedelic tendencies, The Conjuring (Small Stone) is the bands fifth studio album since their 2003 beginnings, and like its two predecessors it is made up of only five tracks and yet consists of over 40 minutes worth of music. Mostly a solid listen, The Conjuring does however have some weak points that let it down.

 

Starting with the slow burning, southern tones of title-track ‘The Conjuring,’ it’s clear from the off that riffs-a-plenty are once again going to feature here and so they do throughout. ‘Read The Omens,’ one of the shorter tracks, is also one of the best; its upbeat and quick-tempo start continuing to remain throughout, while the excellent ‘Beggars Bargain’ ups both the southern beat and creativity even more. The Conjuring however is not all imaginative gold as ‘Pale Rider From The Ice’ suffers from dull moments as does closing number ‘Dreamwalker’, but on a larger scale. Weighing in at 17 minutes long, the final track of the album doesn’t have enough substance to justify its length and so the result is one of indifference.

 

The Conjuring doesn’t exactly bring anything new or exciting to the stoner-doom-rock genre, but it isn’t a bad effort within it. Fans of the band will be pleased with the new output, even if it doesn’t transcend their previous efforts and if you’re new to Wo Fat and enjoy this type of music, The Conjuring is worth a listen.

 

Or at least most of it is.

7.0/10.0

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EMMA QUINLAN

 

Vices – New Breed

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They say that variety is the spice of life and when it comes to music fans. Some choose to roll with this, while others completely ignore it. For musicians, the former is usually the case with new bands often looking to distinguish themselves from the crowd and older ones going in search of fresh directions. Vices are a four-piece from Jacksonville who certainly abide by the above sentiments with their latest LP, New Breed (Melatov), mixing some interesting flavours together.

 

Hailing from the place that spawned both The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, non-listeners may be able to guess what genre some of their influences are taken from, and they’d be right – Southern Blues Rock. On their 2012 EP, ‘The Out Crowd Blues’ this influence is more prominent, but there are a few twangs of it here as well. The other side of the mixing pot is Hardcore Punk, and while the combination may sound odd on paper, it works surprisingly well in the flesh.

 

Merging slow grooves with angry screams, opener ‘The Sabbath’ is our first glimpse into the albums two opposing styles, and it is also one of the best of the bunch. Trumped only by the smooth angst of the title-track, the first two songs really set the bar high for the rest of the record, and thankfully the band keep on delivering. Bringing a more fast-paced way of music with songs such as the Gallows-esque ‘Slum Wolves’ and ‘Devil’s Advocate,’ it is the middle of the album where things hit more of a hardcore punk vibe but this is no bad thing as Vices execute this style of music with great vigour. The influences of before are not completely forgotten with ‘No One Rules’ bringing together slow jams and hectic overtones, while ‘Swan Song’ closes the album with an impressive, albeit short, solo of the classic rock variety.

New Breed is a refreshing album to listen to, neither boring nor repetitive, only the ‘Instrumental’ track is worth turning off, while the rest are defiantly worth turning up. Extending a more Hardcore feel than their EP, fans of the band’s previous effort will still have plenty to love here, and the same rings true for anyone looking for melodious yet heated passion, both in musical style and lyrical content. New Breed is the kind of vice that you won’t be sorry you have and it won’t kill you either, which is always a bonus.

 

9.0/10.0

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EMMA QUINLAN

 

 

Ghoul – Hang Ten EP

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A popular name amongst the musical community, there are several Ghouls in the band world. There are the legendary punk rockers from Japan, the cult black metal outfit from the UK and the gothic German rock band who only made one 7-inch vinyl. There are also a few others, including the subject of this review, the Ghoul of Oakland, California. With a cult following and more masks than WesCraven’s garage, Hang Ten (Tankcrimes) is the quartet’s latest EP and it’s one that combines their penchant for the thrash, the punk and the death.

 

Largely instrumental, the six-song release weighs in at just over 17 minutes long, giving you small and quick blasts of music throughout. Leading with speedy thrasher ‘The Midnight Ride of the Cannibals MC,’ Hang Ten starts and continues to be short but deathly sweet. From the 70’s punk-esque beginnings of ‘Sidehackers’ to the mixture of death and hardcore vocals on ‘Kregg’ this EP may sound at first like a straight up thrash affair but for those willing to give it another listen, there’s more dimensions to Hang Ten than first meets the ears. Got a spare twenty minutes? Give this a try.

 

 

8/10

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EMMA QUINLAN  

Dodsferd – The Parasitic Survival Of The Human Race

 

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Having different bows to your musical string can both hinder and help a band, with fresh directions often urging new people to turn on, while sometimes causing older followers to turn off. Dodsferd are a quartet from Greece whose motto appears to be the bleaker the better, their extreme black metal shrouded in both musical and lyrical darkness. Their latest output, The Parasitic Survival of the Human Race (Moribund), however shows a more punk aspect to the DBSM lovers and it’s a side that is both hit and miss.

 

Made up of only five songs, the album feels more like an EP than a full-length release and while the execution of The Parasitic… is great throughout, most songs feel a few too many minutes long. Each starting with a sample from the Greek riots in 2012, many of the tracks grab your attention early on, only to lose it halfway through. Opener ‘Breeding Chaos’ is a prime example of this as its blistering start immediately pricks up your ears, only for them to start to wain towards the repetitive end.

 

The most creative part of the album comes in the form of second track ‘Creator of Disease,’ which couples initial fast-paced punk-esque tones with a slower, melodic metal ending. ‘Stupid Worthless Sheep’ once again though seems to outstay its welcome by one or two minutes, while ‘Doubting Your Worth’ brings a little more black metal to proceedings, creating a mid-tempo track of early enjoyable angst but later bouts of tedium. A cover of Misfits ‘We Are 138’ rounds the album off, bringing with it some impressive vocal screams that suit their version of the song well.

 

The Parasitic Survival of the Human Race doesn’t quite feature the bleak tones of Dodsferd releases gone by and for anyone looking for that side of the band this album isn’t where to find it. Instead what you will find is a relatively decent punk/black metal affair that has a little too much quantity and not enough quality.

 

5/10

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EMMA QUINLAN

 

Black Label Society – Catacombs of the Black Vatican

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Whether you love him, hate him, want his babies or feel the need to kick him in the nether regions, there’s no denying that Zakk Wylde is a talented and formidable artist. From stints with Ozzy to his own solo work, Wylde has been in the industry longer than many, 15 of those years spent fronting his baby, Black Label Society. With more people coming and going than the London Underground, the band has seen a wealth of musicians, including Mr Trujillo, leave its ranks and yet Wylde has continued to pioneer the band throughout.

 

Back with their 9th studio album, Catacombs of the Black Vatican (eOne/Roadrunner), this latest addition to the BLS discography is the first to feature now departed drummer Chad Szeliga, and it is one that sees the band toying once again with a more mellow sound. Setting the standards bar to soaring, ‘Fields of Unforgiveness’ begins proceedings, bringing with it some ear-gasmic southern metal groove. Taking on an Ozzy like property to the high notes, Wylde’s vocals are in impeccable form here, making this the first and best track of the album. After this things stay mostly on this path of awesomeness, songs such as ‘Believe’ and ‘Heart of Darkness’ piling on the guitar pounds and rhythmic licks.

 

Damn The Flood,’ another album highlight treats us to an impressive Zakk Wylde solo lesson, while ‘I’ve Gone Away’ provides some of the more slowly worked but fantastically aggressive tones of the LP. However, for all that is undeniably great about ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’, there are three songs here that may divide opinion. ‘Angel of Mercy,’ ‘Scars’ and ‘Shades of Gray’ are all sombre, muted affairs that showcase our lead singers lyrical and vocal talents brilliantly but still they will not be to everyone’s taste, including this reviewers. Longer than the rest, these tracks bring down the energy levels, stemming the heavy groove–laden goodness that the rest of the album consistently provides.

 

For fans of the earlier BLS days, ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’ will probably not quench your aggressively energetic thirst, but it is a brilliant album that fits well in the more mature timeline of the band. Wylde is on top form here, as are Szeliga and DeSevio but there will be some moments on BLS’s 9th outing that don’t call to everyone. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of these more sullen Wylde flashes, ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’ is still an excellent listen and it is one that welcomes the band back into the world of musical releases, after four long and anticipated years.

 

7.5 / 10

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EMMA QUINLAN

 

 

 

Killswitch Engage – Trivium: Live at 02 Academy, Manchester UK

Trivium Matt Heafy 2Traffic is an inconvenient thing when you’re doing anything but when you’ve got somewhere to be, it always seems to take the biscuit that little bit more. Unfortunately, this was the situation that occurred as this guy made their way to the Manchester Academy and as such, the first and second acts of the night, Battlecross and Miss May I, were not seen through these writers’ eyes. Luckily a friend with usually excellent taste was on hand to witness the Ohioan five-piece and her review, so elegantly put, was “f-ing awesome,” so lets go with that. Trivium, however, was thankfully a different story and one that starts with yours truly actually getting to observe some live music in action. Having witnessed these boys before in a fashion that brought words such as lacklustre and tedious to mind, it was with surprising but blisteringly excellent style that the Floridian metallers went about their set, showing how far they’ve come in recent years.

As for the rest of the room’s reactions, they too seemed to be more than happy with the performance in front of them, ‘Down From The Sky,’ ‘A Gun To The Head Of Trepidation’ and ‘Shogun’ being of particular vocal highlights amongst the mostly blurry-eyed fans. The music however wasn’t the only thing we were treated too. Smoke bursts and lighting effects to rival the Olympics brought another entertaining if not blinding dimension to their show, an element that always appears to come to the stage when this four-piece is in town. Ending the show with the an excellent rendition of ‘Pull Harder on the Strings Of Your Martyr,’ trivium left the stage having shot many a proverbial bullet to any trepidations that I or others may have had concerning their live prowess.

For the main act, or seemingly most popular act in the Academy anyway, it was their turn to bring the noise and this time the room tinged with so KSE Jesse Leech 1much drunken and sober (ahem) enthusiasm that it even the most cynical of spectators would have been hard pushed not to be swept up in it. Coming out to ‘Eye Of The Tiger,’ Killswitch Engage (KSE) leapt on to the stage, their leader Jesse Leech brimming with confidence and front man swagger. Launching into ‘A Bid Farewell,’ the crowd wasted no time joining in with the verbal festivities, word for word being sung back to the quintet. As for the makers of the music, chugging beer on stage, encouraging female viewers to expose their breasts when on friends shoulders and generally having fun were just a few things in the KSE repertoire, showing to those who could see the love they have for what they do.

Musically it was as tight and as brilliant as we’ve come to expect from KSE, but it was lead man Jesse who, for me anyway, really stole the show. Screaming or singing, Jesse’s vocal performance was excellent no matter which way he was vocalizing it, and having being disappointed by the Howard Jones departure before, it’s safe to say I am no longer (we still love you Howard!). A wonderful set and fantastic show by the KSE boys, the Massachusetts five-piece brought tracks such as ‘The End Of Heartache,’ ‘My Last Serenade’ and closing number ‘My Curse’ to a new level of awesome, one that they managed to bring throughout and one they will undoubtedly continue to do as long as their metal-core hearts beat on.

 

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Words: Emma Quinlan

Photos: Emma Stone

Tyr – Valkyrja

Tyr-ValkyrjaFolk metal or Viking metal, whichever you prefer to call it, is a sub-genre that really seems to have taken off over the last decade, with an abundance of successful acts coming through, many of which hail from the Scandinavian plains. Tyr are a Faroese three-piece who have been riding under the above musical moniker for quite some time, as their name, subject matters and often chosen singing tongue all have roots in their Nordic heritage. Tyr however, isn’t your typical Viking metallers, a point personified in their new album, Valkyrja (Metal Blade).

 

A conceptual album loosely surrounding the tale of a Viking warrior who sets off to battle in order to impress goddess Freyja, Tyr’s seventh studio output doesn’t rest on their previous laurels, with a ballad even making its way onto the album. Recorded with Leave Eyes leading lady Liv Kristine, ‘The Lay of Our Love’ works surprising well on the album, even if it is a shock upon first listen. As for the rest, Valkyrja slips from progressive moments to heavy riffs and power-laden rhythms, with songs such as ‘Mare Of The Night,’ ‘Another Fallen Brother’ and ‘Grindavisan’ bringing some respectively hefty, technically brilliant and grandiose moments to the fold.

 

The real magic on this album however lays in their bonus tracks, which come in the form of Iron Maiden’s ‘Where Eagles Dare’ and Pantera’s ‘Cemetery Gates.’ Whilst both are fantastic renditions, their version of Dimebag and co’s masterpiece is truly astounding with justice thoroughly being given to a track that most heavy metal bands wouldn’t dare to touch, never mind genuinely make their own. Another triumph for the Faroese metallers, their mission is apparently to break down the heavy metal walls and with Valkyrja, their quest certainly seems to be all the more closer to fulfilling.

 

9.0/10

 

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Emma Quinlan