Ask any Metal music lover that has attended any of the big music festivals in the past nine or so years, and they will most likely tell you they have seen a set or two of Motionless in White. It is safe to say that even most fans of modern Metal at least know the name Motionless in White. Since the band’s initial inception in 2005, the music world has witnessed the metamorphosis of MIW from a raw, unbridled, raging embryo to the cataclysmic musical force evident on the band’s latest album, Disguise (Roadrunner Records). Continue reading
Banality on stilts is perhaps a harsh way to sum up an album, but this is, after all, a harsh review. And there is no surer way to describe Adore (Season Of Mist), the latest album by Canadian avowed mourn-mongers Numenorean. Continue reading
Having fronted symphonic Viking metal act Leaves’ Eyes and goth metal legends Theatre of Tragedy, as well as appearing as a guest vocalist on countless different projects over the years, Liv Kristine Espenæs has finally united officially with her sister – who has herself appeared as a guest vocalist on several Leaves’ Eyes releases – and joined Nordic folk metal act Midnattsol. Continue reading
How to best celebrate that Friday feeling? With a night of slow and Gothic Doom of course. The Electric Ballroom in Camden, London, is full to the brim, and it seems the crowd is somehow wearing even more black than usual to celebrate the morbid tones of the UK’s very own Paradise Lost. Continue reading
There used to be a time when side projects and “super-groups” were a big no-no in Metal. You had your band, you knew your place, and that’s where you stayed or else. Nowadays of course, you can’t walk down to the shops without another twenty bands trading members and forming new acts in the time it takes to buy a pint of milk and a cucumber sandwich. Continue reading
Is it possible for a band to take its work a little too seriously? Can the love of eyeliner and theatrical stage attire be pushed past the point of no return? And most importantly, does this make for good music? These are some of the questions I’m left to ponder over a cup of coffee (black, of course) after listening to Beseech’s My Darkness, Darkness (Despotz Records).
And I know the metal genre as a whole is a bit ridiculous. After all I’m a 29-year-old man with a college degree whose wardrobe is made up mostly of black shirts. I willingly own a denim vest with more patches on it than the average Nascar driver.
However, Beseech seem to operate on a level where ridiculous and deadly serious function as one. Just look at the album title, My Darkness, Darkness. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like something scribbled in the back of a Mead notebook by a 14-year-old goth kid.
And their biggest problem is its inability to move past the ho-hum goth numbers. ‘Mr. Uninvited,’ its title-track and ‘Atmosphere’ are virtually interchangeable and I don’t mean that in a good way. For most of its running time Beseech is confined to muddy tempos, subdued guitar parts, all the while vocalist Klas Bohlin dominates the mix with his weird Christian Bale as Batman whisper-mumble. The most criminal aspect of this record is the underuse of second singer Angelina Sahlgren. We only get brief glimpses of Sahlgren’s range on ‘Beating Pulse’ and ‘The Ingredients.’ Sahlgren’s turns add some color to the drab musical canvas.
‘One Last Call’ has the band finally finds release from its songwriting restrictions as does the unexpected (but totally rad) Highwaymen cover ‘Highwayman.’
Metal is a business that’s always existed on the border of parody, especially when you decide to throw in some of that goth seasoning. Not every band has to go the Type O Negative route and play it tongue in cheek (although it paid dividends for them). Katatonia and Moonspell have had long careers accented by classic albums, but they always relied on the songs. Beseech doesn’t quite have them here.
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Edmonton, Alberta’s socially conscious metal band Van Halst releases debut album entitled World of Make Believe on March 4. Their third single from the album is ‘Questions’ which you can stream at this link or below:
Lead singer Kami Van Halst talks about ‘Questions’:
“I wrote Questions with my sister Brittney Grabill. This song deals with victim blaming and how the victims of sexual assault are often criticized and blamed for putting themselves in the vulnerable position, which allowed them to be abused or exploited. This is wrong, we should not be blaming or scrutinizing the victims of abuse. We need to remove the stigma and put the blame where it rightly belongs- on the abuser.”
World of Make Believe track listing:
01. The End (4:31)
02. Save Me (4:12)
03. Ryan’s Song (4:11)
04. World of Make Believe (3:46)
05. Questions (3:23)
06. Denying Eyes (4:08)
07. Monster (3:29)
08. Plastic Smile (5:11)
09. Put Him Down (4:33)
10. Perfect Storm (4:44)
Album Length: 42:14
For such a modest gent, Paradise Lost’s Nick Holmes is one such musician who can remember the glory days of record label advances. Surely Paradise Lost wouldn’t have had access to bountiful excess, but they did indulge their rock star side. “When we started with EMI we hired Jane Seymour’s stately home to stay at while recording. We bought loads of studio equipment and had a chef and everything! It was great. That’s was the benchmark of success for us, you could get a fillet steak whenever you wanted! It was fucking ridiculous when I think about it but there was money in the industry and people bought albums! If you think its right or wrong, you get wrapped up in it because you have industry people telling you it would be a good idea. You can enter a different world easily. We did waste money on silly things and spent a fortune on booze! The bar bills were insane! It was a real cliché but we spent a lot of money on booze especially around the Host album!”
“We dipped our toes in the pool of rock stardom but we never plunged in. It was like being Metallica for a day but then it was gone again. Now it’s strict budgets. I remember the first time we went to Israel and did all the tourist stuff and hung out. These days, you’re off stage and on a plane two hours later!”
Having invested Gothic Metal and created a memorable legacy, many bands have come and gone during PL’s career, splitting up and reforming on a whim. Yet Paradise Lost have endured and existed without such issues. “We need to make a living. We forfeited a life doing anything else years ago. We never had the time to have a couple of years off and reassess things. You could count the bands on one hand who could take five years out. You don’t shut down the shop just because you’re fed up.”
Such acclaim for Greg’s Vallenfyre project has been well deserved with a spark clearly ignited under Paradise Lost. Surely though at this stage in their career could talk of side projects been a concern to the productivity of Paradise Lost? “I didn’t know what he was doing on his time off. I didn’t know how much he’d got back into death metal. He asked me if I wanted to do the vocals but my head wasn’t in the right place at the time. I didn’t know I’d do it himself. It runs alongside PL fine. I keep missing their shows so I want to catch them.”
Considering Nick’s confession that he could have been a part of Vallenfyre, his involvement in death metal supergroup Bloodbath, were Holmes replaced Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt comes as an even greater surprise. “It was a good two or three years after that. We’d look on the early days of death metal with great fondness. The guys in Katatonia are all four years younger than me, but that was a lot when you were all teenagers. We listed to different generations of death metal. They were listening to Deicide and I was more into the early Death stuff. The tape trading days were a great time, exciting and new. Anything that has happened with PL has been a gradual change. We had written the whole album before I did the Bloodbath stuff and already decided that there would be death metal elements.”
What must it be in a band with the guys from Katatonia, a band who have cited Paradise Lost as an influence? “Half the conversation who can name the most obscure band and who has all the old demo tapes. Jonas is very into that stuff. Bloodbath are weekend warriors, we get on a plane, play a gig then go home. It’s refreshing to play with new people and worked really well for us. Everyone is friends so there’s no negative.”
How Paradise Lost have kept relevant and free of nostalgia. “I never heard the term ‘The Peaceville Three’ until recently. We started before Anathema and My Dying Bride. I think Anathema played their first gig in Liverpool with us. As a band we don’t need to name drop or fit into a scene. We are institutionalised in making music. I’ve blown my chances of being a surgeon long ago. I could write a book but that would be about what I have done with the band. You never know!”
Pleasant, unassuming with an endearingly laugh and a dry wit steeped in self-deprecation and sarcasm. Paradise Lost frontman Nick Holmes is the complete antithesis of a rock star asshole.
Early spirit in modern setting: “It was about catching the simplicity of how we worked in the early days. There is a temptation to overcomplicate things with technology unnecessarily. I think we have produced albums with lots of layers over the years, and we wanted to take a step back.”
“It was nice to make things a bit simpler and capture the spirit of the old stuff.” Nick recalled. “There was a time when we were on EMI that it was all about writing singles, but we have always been an album band. As soon as you have to think about what is on MTV, it kills it. It’s nice to not worry about that anymore. We just worry about creating an hour of great music not what is going to get more rotation. At the same time we learnt a lot about songwriting. Not everything has to have a verse, bridge and a chorus.”
One moment on the new record which stands out as different is ‘Cry Out’ with it’s almost stoner rock feel. Nick explains how that one came about. “It’s got a more Sabbath vibe but then goes more melancholic. Greg (Mackintosh) has a truck load of those kind of riff but we don’t use them because they sound a bit too happy. It’s straight from the Tony Iommi School of metal.”
The new Paradise Lost material is certainly in the spirit of the hallowed Draconian Times (Music For Nations) era, yet the Yorkshire act has dabbled with electronica and experimented with different styles which has received much criticism from some fans. Much in the way Metallica were for every post Black Album (Electra). Does Nick still stand by all the creative decisions PL have made? “When you start a band you emulate the music your idols play before you find our own sound. I don’t have that much hindsight with our albums because they are a reflection of where we were mentally. Everything we did made sense at the time. Everything that has happened in our own lives has had an impact on this band. It would kill me to make the same records throughout my career that would be so boring. In terms of Host (EMI) if we did it now it would definitely be as a side project. We were really into that stuff at that time so it made sense. I still think it’s one of our strongest albums sonically and has some great songs. One Second (MFN) is our best-selling album but that had a lukewarm response from some areas. Host was too much too soon for some people. We needed a change from the metal thrash mania after touring Icon (MFN) and Draconian Times for so long.”
These days artists changing their style or image can still be controversial to some but back in the nineties this was tantamount to treason! Recalling the reaction to the fan backlash he received at the time, Nick remains proud of the ‘Host’ record while being disarmingly honest when it came to the follow up. “People were outraged that I cut my hair and we wore eyeliner but I wear more eyeliner with Bloodbath than I ever did with PL! I didn’t think Host was weak but Believe In Nothing is a shrug album. We didn’t know what we were doing or where we were going. It’s just as well the internet was in its infancy around the time of ‘Host’ as that would have crashed our forum!”
Over the course of their history, bar the drum stool little changes in line up. Nick spoke about how important it has been to retain such a stable line-up throughout their career. “We all get along. We are all mates and were friends before we started the band. We don’t hang out much outside of band time because we don’t live close to each other now. We came together from a mutual love of music when there was no one who loved extreme music. We still have a great laugh. You can’t get bored when you have thirty years of anecdotes!”
For the longevity of any relationship humour can play a part at keeping things together. This was no different for Nick and his comrades “It’s just how we are. We have similar upbringings and backgrounds. When you’re in a professional band as long as we are it keeps you young. It’s a respite from the rest of life. It takes us away from the horrible stuff. You can go to a gig, get pissed and feel better. We all look decrepit but we’re young in spirit.”
Taking of line-up changes Finnish drummer Waltteri Vayrynen will be filling in for Adrian Earlandsson on the bands UK dates next week. According to Nick, it was an easy choice. “Adrian has been very busy with At The Gates. Waltteri replaced Adrian in Vallenfyre and he’s a big PL fan so it was a great fit. He’s only twenty years old and such a great player for his age. In ten years he will be on the top of his game. People do many different bands, drummers especially. That’s how it is these days.”
10 years after forming, Italian goth rockers Silentlie have finally released their début album, Layers of Nothing (Bakerteam). The band – Giorgia Sacco Taz (vocals), Luigi Pressacco (guitars), Davide Sportiello (bass & Keyboards) and Andrea Piergianni (drums) – have previously managed to release two EPs, but perhaps should have taken a bit longer working on this release…
The 10 tracks and 45 minutes on offer provide plenty keyboard-heavy melodic mid-paced rockers featuring lots atmospherics and thick riffs. While it’s not terrible (nor particularly original) there’s little variation in the speed, style or structure and it’s all pretty safe, even occasionally plodding.
Opener ‘Unbreakable’ is a promising start; upbeat and catchy yet retaining plenty of heaviness in the guitars. But it’s more of an exception. Mostly we’re given mid-tempo filler that fails to stir anything other than apathy. There are some decent moments; ‘Slave’ and ‘Change’ almost stray into doom territory, ‘Dark Nights’ has a real 80s metal feel about it and could be a cover of some lost Ozzy Osbourne b-side.
Taz’s vocals are solid; she knows how to carry a tune but there’s not a lot of range outside her low croon or chorus shout. Pressacco’s guitar work is decent through with occasional flourishes, and there’s a decent selection on solos on offer, especially on the likes of ‘My Scream is Silence,’ ‘Unbreakable’ and album closer ‘Dark Nights’.
There’s not much particularly wrong with Layers of Nothing: the vocals are ok, there’s some nice riffs, and a decent amount of guitar solos scattered about the album. But there’s very little to get excited about.
One for people really hankering for a new hit of gothic metal.