Formed in 2002, Swiss Folk Metal act Eluveitie were thrust almost immediately towards the front line of the burgeoning, so-called Viking Metal/Battle Metal scene as it erupted around them during the middle of that decade. Metal inspired by Vikings and Folk music can be traced back to the likes of Bathory and Skyclad, if not before, but such was the explosion of bands around this time, you couldn’t get out of bed for tripping over accordions, fiddles, animal skins and antlers. Continue reading →
This year’s Rockharz Open Air is sold-out, faster than ever before. As preparations begin to host the 25th edition of the festival, it will take place from July 4th to July 7th, 2018 in Ballenstedt. The fest is headlined by In Flames, Powerwolf, Kreator, Hammerfall, Eisbrecher, Paradise Lost, Amorphis, Knorkator, Schandmaul, Cannibal Corpse, Alestorm, Ensiferum, Exodus, Sodom, Equilibrium, Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, Finntroll, Battle Beast, Amaranthe, Bannkreis, Gloryhammer and many more. You can see the final poster below. Continue reading →
Having recently reissued classic albums by the likes of Kreator, Voivod, Celtic Frost, Tankard, Running Wild, and Skyclad, Noise Records continue raiding their metal pantry, this time with three albums by German thrashers, Deathrow. Continue reading →
Rockharz Open Air is celebrating 25 years as a festival in 2018. This year’s fest is already loaded with talent and grows all the time, now with six new bands. Joining the lineup headlined by In Flames, Powerwolf, Kreator, and Hammerfall are Bannkreis, Versengold, Winterstorm, Oni, Blind Channel, Manntra with special guest, Michael Rhein (In Extremo). The fest takes place from July 4th to July 7th 2018 in Ballenstedt, Germany. Tickets are on sale now and a sellout is expected. Continue reading →
Rockharz Festival, celebrating 25 years in 2018, has completed their incredible line-up with the addition of Powerwolf, Cannibal Corpse, and Sodom. Tickets are on sale now and Ghost Cult has the full details. Continue reading →
The 25th Anniversary edition of the Rockharz Festival has added Alestorm, Primal Fear, Ahab,Erdling, Letzte Instanz and Nothgard to the 2018 event. Rockharz takes place next July 4th to July 7th 2018 In Ballenstedt, Germany.
“The second mouse gets the cheese” is a maxim which pretty much sums up the career of UK Folk Metal innovators Skyclad in a depressingly pithy nutshell. The first band to be labeled with the now commonly used Folk Metal tag, their pagan image, costumes, and use of fiddles seemed to constantly draw nothing but unwarranted mockery from certain quarters.Continue reading →
If you have even the slightest interest in Viking Folk Metal, then you are sure to have heard of Ensiferum. Formed in 1995, the Finnish five-piece took six years to release their eponymously titled début album, but quickly built up a reputation as one of the major players on the scene. A lofty position they still find themselves in today.Continue reading →
I’m still undecided as to whether Brian Ross‘s piercing scream which opens Atom By Atom (Listenable) is a surprising thing or not. On one hand, Satan were part of the now legendary NWOBHM scene and screaming vocals were sort of their thing. On the other hand, you have to remember this is a band who started life way back in 1979, so including lengthy hiatuses for transformations into other bands (Pariah, Blind Fury), and key members departing to form entirely new acts (Skyclad), they’ve been doing this for well over 35 years. They’re clearly no spring chickens any more (sorry, chaps), so the fact that this, their fourth full length release, begins with such a pointed statement of intent is not only refreshing but also, happily just a sign of things to come.
The speedy, yet surgically precise riffs come thick and fast as the album gallops along like a thoroughbred racehorse, the twin guitars of Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey locked in an endless, but perfectly timed, competition to get across the finishing line first. Even mid-paced songs like ‘Bound in Enmity’, ‘Ahriman’ and ‘Fallen Saviour’ appear to get frustrated by their own lack of athleticism and have to kick themselves into shape just to keep up.
It’s not all about lightning fast speed though. There are slow-burning riffs, riffs which twist and creep out of your speakers like long legged spiders, and riffs which sound like a knife-wielding maniac gave Ozzy Osbourne‘s ‘I Don’t Know’ an adrenaline shot and chased it down an alleyway. Yeah, okay. Speed is definitely a key element here. However, for all of its near relentlessness, the album never once feels cluttered or rushed. There’s always room to breathe, and even enough time for a choral section and brief spoken word passage.
When some previously defunct bands decide it’s time to try and grab a second bite of the cherry, there’s a tendency to come back with just a name and, if we’re lucky, two or three original members. A year or two down the line and the old problems which caused the band to split in the first place rear their ugly heads and everything begins to fall apart again. Thankfully, however, and much like fellow NWOBHMers Hell, Satan are not only more confident than ever but also still pushing themselves in what really should be their comfortable slippers and gardening years.
When Ross shouts “Ten Thousand Hiroshimas, it’s the end for you and me!” on album closer and mini-epic ‘The Fall of Persephone’ you can picture the scene with crystal clarity.
Saturday 14th: After a fitful night of sleep and a late brunch we’re back in Eindhoven at two in the afternoon. Today’s program is a little more light hearted, mixing folk metal, some more experimental death metal, and symphonic metal. We start the day with The Monolith Deathcult, who gets to wake up the sparse and bleary eyed crowd with their a little more highbrow and complex death metal. The music and the show feel bigger than their slot suggests. The intros get a bit cheesy after the first few songs but the sound mix is excellent, though a little heavy on the double bass drums.
After a short respite we get treated to the old school trash-metallers of Destroyer 666. Sadly, their playing is a little sloppy and messy, possibly due to the inhumanly fast pace they keep it. The vocals seem pretty decent, but drown a little in the pummeling heavy base mix that plagues the venue yesterday as well. They do give a good an energetic show and the room quickly fills up with happy metal heads finally woken up.
We travel shortly to the cold regions of Russia with Arkona taking the stage. Their folk infused metal is less happy and energetic than most folk metal, and a little more somber. The whole music feels Russian, even if the singing wasn’t in Russian. Sound-wise, the guitars are very, very low in the mix and the vocals very high, which means the drums and bass overpower the vocals quite often. Interestingly enough the folky whistles and the bagpipes are very well audible in the mix, while usually they’re the first things to die. The folk influences are a little more subtle and apparently with their newer music the band is moving more towards the back metal side, though their folk roots stay important to them.
We return to death metal with Hail of Bullets. Normally death metal isn’t my cup of tea, but these guys are great and I find myself nodding along to the beat. With a great songs and a nice little party vibe going on throughout, even for the non-death crowd that’s was there was into it. That it’s a great show however shouldn’t be surprising as this band shares a front man, Martin van Drunen, with the incredible Asphyx, and the rest of the all star line-up of the band. This may also be the reason the sound mix is very well balanced and crisp. All in all a great show.
In metal it’s not rare for a band to form a completely new band simply by addition of a different, usually more prominent, vocalist. The best known example probably is Ihsahn with Leprous. Elvenking and Martin Walkyier’s Skyclad are a similar story. Elvenking played for forty minutes before being joined by Walkyier, and turning into Skyclad and playing another forty minutes. The music doesn’t change much between the vocalist addition (Elvenking’s somewhat emo styled vocalist stays on for the full eighty minutes, running around the stage behind Walkyier). It stays a sort of emo-folk inspired metal. They have a pretty good sound mix and a good performance, but Davide “Damna” Moras’s vocals get on my nerves a little. The switch in the feeling of the music when Walkyier joins the band is amazing. The music, feeling a little more emo oriented at first suddenly gets a darker and more power metal feel when Walkyier’s vocals join in. Sadly, Walkyier’s grand entrance fell a little flat with the crowd, where he clearly expected a grand recognition only confusion shone on the crowds faces when Walkyier walked up, arms spread like a messiah.
It’s now time for one of my personal highlights of the day, Arcturus. I had no idea what to expect but the avant-garde metal troupe of masked entertainers is incredibly good. Their music has so many influences it’s hard to really describe, but the vocals have a certain power metal/prog type feel and the music contains traces of black metal, but also power and symphonic. Simen Hestnæs’ vocals often drowned in the drum and bass parts, unless he belted, and the guitars ate the, quite atmospheric, keyboard additions. Still the show was incredibly good, and I hope to see them sometime with a better mix.
Coroner is described as the Rush of thrash metal. Now I like thrash, especially the hyperactive, aggressive party vibe it seems to share with punk. The more progressive and technical approach coroner has, while they do what they do very well, somehow just doesn’t connect with me. I have the feeling I’m not the only one, since the room is surprisingly empty for what basically is a headlining band. The feeling that if they were programmed in Tiamat’s slot yesterday and Tiamat switched to this slot, both bands would have been in front of a better crowd crept up on me. Again, in the back of the room, Coroners music got lost in the thundering low regions. The band does an energetic attempt to move the crowd, but people seem paralyzed in the sheer amount of sound coming their way. A real pity.
Finally we get to Therion, the proper headliner of the day. Being the symphonic-metal giant that they are, the stage feels a little small for them. With three vocalists (who are also the main crowd entertainers) guitars, bass, drums, keys and a huge amount of razzle dazzle (including a belly dance act.) Very nice. This show cannot disappoint. It’s magnificent to watch and, while softer than certain bands on today’s line-up, they certainly pack a pretty metal punch. The sound-mix is really well balanced, which is needed when you have such subtle vocal harmonies to balance against raging guitars. The soprano vocalist sometimes sound a little harsh and sharp in her high notes, but this is forgiven for the sheer amount of show this band puts out. Even is symphonic metal isn’t your thing remotely, you have to admire the enormity of the show. This was definitely the best band of the day, and rightful headliner.
Since this show cannot be topped by Gothminister and last train needed to be caught, we left Eindhoven Metal Meeting’s party awestruck, exhausted and satisfied. Though the venue was plagued by less than supreme sound, certain bands shone through, and especially the ambiance was magnificent. Eindhoven, thank you for the party! Until next year.