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Pure Metal

August 2008 Reviews & Interviews

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Misery Signals - Controller Ferret 2008

Misery Signals - Controller

Working alongside producer Devin Townsend, Misery Signals have written an album to discuss Social and Political issues and the potential of destruction and collapse of society and civilisation.

One problem, how often can you understand the lyrics of a full on metal core growler? Lyrically, the band has made a special effort here, but unless I have the lyrics in front of me, I have no clue what on earth Misery Signals are indeed singing about, making the effort a little pointless.

"Controller" follows the last album release "Mirrors" utilising the same generic Misery Signals metalcore sound, yet this album appears more technical, and clearly defined.

The guitar work and drum work gel very well together with a smash up of erratic breakdowns and acoustic sounds which has been done in a precise manner. It does however lack uniqueness and is similar to that of Meshuggah, Slipknot or Machine Head.

Misery Signals definitely have time to improve themselves as a young metalcore band and should not necessarily allow themselves to be provoked or influenced by other metal core generic bands. Perhaps they should try and maybe experiment a little more to make a more distinguished sound so I don't have to ask the question "Who's this we are listening to, is it......?"

I found this album very mediocre, and I can quite happily listen to this album without many bad comments, I can take it or leave it.

Nothing special here, a typical metal core release which is solid and worth checking out by any of a metal fan.

© Fluffmeister
Rating *** (3.0/5.0)

Buy From Amazon


Good God, I cannot believe that it’s been almost two years since I last saw Anathema performing a live concert at the London Scala! One of the most pleasurable moments of the gig that took place on the 14th of September 2006 was the long discussion I had in the foyer of the venue prior to the show with the band’s bassist Jamie Cavanagh - a conversation that covered many important aspects of the band’s future, including finding a new label capable of supporting the band’s future releases. I have to admit that, at the time this conversation took place, I was slightly worried even about the very future of the band, so you can understand my relief when I received the promo copy of 'Hindsight' - what Peaceville/Kscope describe as Anathema’s ‘new album’.

I remember receiving a very diplomatic yet quite negative response when asking Jamie Cavanagh whether the band would consider working again with Peaceville records in the near future, Anathema being in search of a contract at the time, so I was indeed very surprised to see 'Hindsight' being a product of that very collaboration - still, this was not the only surprise that was in store for the author of this review.

You see, 'Hindsight' is not a new album in the strict sense of the term, but rather consists of nine semi-acoustic recordings of some of the band’s most celebrated opuses, such as 'Fragile Dreams', 'Angelica' and 'A Natural Disaster'. The significance of this release, though, lies in two facts: one, that it features the return of Duncan Patterson to the recording process of an Anathema album (the last of which was my very favourite 'Alternative 4'), providing us with sheer moments of pleasure with his Irish mandolin and two, that there is a brand new composition on offer entitled 'Unchained (Tales of the Unexpected)'.

I was indeed so thrilled with the prospect of finally listening to a new Anathema composition that the first few spins I gave to the album were mainly focused on 'Unchained (Tales of the Unexpected)', yet this ‘moody’ guitar-based song raised more questions than it managed to solve.

I mean, how can you understand what the band’s future musical direction is going to be simply based on a composition which may sound the way it does simply in order to satisfy the demands of this specific acoustic release? Anyway, soon my curiosity extended to the remaining nine compositions on offer and the results were quite rewarding - something expectable from any band of the status of Anathema.

Much as I love every single minute of 'Hindsight', I have to say that I felt that the acoustic versions of two songs, namely 'Fragile Dreams' and 'Angelica', came across as slightly less convincing than the originals, yet, they managed to provide a very important and interesting new dimension to their beautiful nature.

On the other hand, I found the acoustic versions of 'Inner Silence', 'One Last Goodbye' and especially that of 'Flying' to overflow with color and emotion, mainly due to the contribution of a magical cello performance by Dave Wesling and of a warm-Mediterranean scent exhaled from Duncan Patterson’s ‘divine’ mandolin, leaving enough room for Lee Douglas’ ethereal voice to ‘finish us off’ with a beautiful version of the now classic 'Natural Disaster'.

There are so many thoughts and feelings that I wish I could share with you regarding 'Hindsight', such as to explain the powerful attraction that it imposed on me or to describe the variety of different emotions which I found myself completely overwhelmed by, but I am afraid that I find my vocabulary to be quite limiting for such a brave task. Anathema give credit to the term 'good quality music' with 'Hindsight' - an album that will undoubtedly keep me good company while waiting for the band’s next studio release which will hopefully not take too long.

John Stefanis

Rating: ****1/2 (4.5 / 5.0)

Internal Execrator - Antichrist Execration
Pulverized 2008

Internal Execrator - Antichrist Execration

"Déjà Vu, Déjà Vu!!!"

"Lord Ashir summoned 2 blasphemic infernal warriors 'Afreet' and 'Belial Hatehammer' to form a Black Death Metal legion to execrate the hollies, religions and gods and to unleash the true strength of evil hatred"

I'm not really a big fan of Black Metal in my older years, so I find a Black Metal album allot more difficult to review nowadays. Looking at the album cover of Satan be-heading "Christ" whilst on his cross; takes me back to when I was teenager, when I found Black Metal more exciting if the cover seeped death, Satan, blood curdling lyrics and extremely fast drums and riffs. Does age make a difference or am I turning into a winey oldie?

This album is in fact, just as expected; dark, fast, satanic...and no different to any other black metal release in my opinion. Now my brain is matured and I am not so hormonally depressed, I see absolutely no need to divulge myself into the depths of satanic rituals and silly anti-Christ stories.

All tracks are very similar (I must sound like my Mum) and the only difference to each track is the intro and outro. Mind you, when the vocalist isn't burbling along I am very enthralled with fast drumming and deep bass guitar. Why does the singing always have ruin everything?

Well, I will stop moaning now, I am sure that any teenager who is thriving for satanic releases of this nature, will very much enjoy this release and can even buy a special Mini CD 6 panel digipak. But, if you're like me and you like your pipe and slippers nowadays (it's not politically correct to say "the more mature f us"); "*yawn*."

© Fluffmeister
Rating *1/2 (1.5/5.0)


History of Guns - Empty Eyes/But I'll be Waiting Line Out 2008

History of Guns - Empty Eyes/But I'll be Waiting

This is a double A-side single release from History of Guns which is taken from the forthcoming album "Acedia". It brings together an amalgamation of punk, industrial, electronica, chaos, escapism, ambient, manic depression, dance music, mysticism, sound effects, other worlds, progressive rock, altered states, and self destruction to create a truly unique few minutes of high quality music. Or in a simple explanation; an English "Rammstein" meets "Nine Inch Nails".

Trent Reznor is indeed a very experienced act to follow, with the use of multi-layers, and dark electronica sound effects. 'Empty Eyes' is a simple version of multi layers, but this also makes the track very simple sounding and a very catch-ful industrial gothic tune.

'But I'll be Waiting' is more of an individual sound from "History of Guns" and the only similarity to 'Empty Eyes' would be the guitar riffs. The vocals are more of a 'Burton C Bell' sound-alike which works much better than the strangely spoken sung vocals of 'Empty Eyes' and also has more of an electronica feel. 'But I'll be Waiting' seeps more professionalism in sound and is far more superior and acceptable than 'Empty Eyes'.

This single has most definitely left an impact on me and I will now be putting my attention to the whole album 'Acedia' in hope that the rest of the album is indeed as professional and endearing as "But I'll be Waiting'.

Good solid release and deserves 2 minutes of your time for good old listen!

© Fluffmeister
Rating **** (4.0/5.0)



Autumn 1989. It is a week after Destruction's last show with their original line up (Schmier left the band during that period, only to return a few years later) and the author of this review, at the then tender age of 15, is heading towards the now demolished Athenian Rodon Club to witness the first ever performance on Greek soil of the Swedish Doom Metal act Candlemass.

His friends had warned him that what he was about to experience was a show with a totally different vibe than that which his favourite Thrash Metal bands were capable of producing - what they did fail to tell him, though, was that this concert was to become one of the most memorable events of his life and his introduction to the beautiful world of Doom Metal.

Those of you who are aware of Candlemass' long and impressive career are certainly aware that by 1990, the Stockholm-based quintet was one of the most formidable live outfits, so the quality of the performance featured in the band's first ever live album simply entitled "Live", which is now re-issued by the noble label Peaceville Records in a two disc format, should not come as a surprise to anyone.

What did surprise me personally, though, was the reaction of the Stockholm crowd - a crowd that, by the sounds of it, never really managed to connect with what was taking place on stage, not even when Messiah Marcolin and Co were 'nailing' one classic after another with an ease capable of shocking the most demanding of audiences.

As far as the set list is concerned, there is not a single composition in that thirteen track release that does not deserve to have its place in this live show. What better way to start than with the all time classic "The Well of Souls" - a song that still brings goosebumps to my body every time I listen to its brilliantly conceived main guitar theme. Messiah's vocal contribution is beyond criticism, Mats Bjorkman and Lars Johansson work in perfect unison and the rhythm section of Leif Edling and Jan Lindh provide each and every composition with their much needed solid foundations.

Messiah’s strong appreciation for the material of the band's first album "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" is clearly audible in his performances of classics, such as "Under the Oak" & "Demon's Gate" which are two of the best moments of this album, as is my personal favourite "A Sorcerer's Pledge" (even though

I do have to admit that I did miss the contribution of keys and female vocals which beautifully adorn this musical masterpiece in its studio format). That, of course, does not mean that later material, such as "Through the Infinite Halls of Death", "Dark Reflections" and the epic opus "Samarithan", were not given the band's utmost attention - something that seems to have been wasted on the almost 'dormant' crowd.

As far as I am concerned, this thirteen track release is one of the best Doom Metal live albums ever recorded and it is a real shame that this very gig did not take place in a Mediterranean country like Greece and Spain where the band would have received the response and attention that it truly deserved.

Why do I say that? Well, listening to the second CD which features the band's performance at the Dynamo Open Air '88, one cannot fail but notice the big contribution that a good crowd can make to a live album - shame that the overall production of that particular recording is much more inferior to that of the main release…

Anyway, if you want to know what makes many people claim Candlemass to be an amazing live band, then this release is definitely for you. Trust me - you will not be disappointed!

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)


The preferable/usual way for a band to commemorate a tour is by issuing T-shirts that commemorate the event, so I was quite surprised when I received a copy of "Left to Die" - a four track release that was described by Candlelight records as ‘Obituary's new Tour EP'. Having said that, I hope that I do not sound as if I am complaining, seeing as I am always intrigued by any release that carries the signature of this Florida-based Death Metal quintet. Ok, so let's see now what's on offer here.

Well, I guess that most important of all is the inclusion of two new studio tracks, namely "Forces Realign" and "Left To Die". Both these compositions are typically Obituary in the sense that the follow a formula that has been used by this band for the last twenty or so years, yet at the same time they are two totally different 'beasts' altogether.

"Forces Realign" is a four and a half minute rhythmical/groovy mid tempo composition based on a simple but quite heavy riff and what makes it sound so special is Ralph Santolla's (ex-Iced Earth, ex-Deicide) flamboyant solos which exist in abundance throughout the song.

On the contrary, "Left to Die" is a slow atmospheric composition, betraying the influence of the mighty Celtic Frost in the band's music. The riffs are once again simple and catchy and Santolla's lead guitar contribution is again important but not as imposing/dominant as in "Forces Realign".

Following on my comment about the Celtic Frost influence on the music of the band, this EP features a killer cover of the band's all time classic "Dethroned Emperor", which will prove the accuracy of my argument. Finally, this EP also features a re-recording of the band's classic opus "Slowly We Rot" and a CD Rom video for "Evil Ways" - a composition that was featured in Obituary's latest studio album "Xecutioner's Return".

EPs are by nature targeting a band's loyal fanbase and "Left to Die" is no exception in that respect, so if you are looking for a release to introduce you to the music of Obituary then you should probably be looking for something else. Having said that, two really good studio songs, a brilliant cover, an interesting re-recording of a classic and a video...well, if this package is accompanied by a decent price, I don't see why anyone should refuse to invest in this release.

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)


Rick Ray Band - Violence Marred By Peace
Neurosis 2008

Rick Ray Band - Violence Marred By Peace

As the music starts on this album I am sort of left wondering how the good folk at this website were somehow on the promo list for this album, but heck I will try anything once. Before I reviewed this album, a little research revealed Rick Ray to be a muso type from the States peddling prog rock with strong jazz and improv leanings.

The music on this CD is more for arty-farty types I would suggest and for those who are into jazz-rock and the quirkier unexplored side of prog rock. The band members surrounding Mr. Ray are all seemingly proficient on their instruments and make quite a strange concoction indeed. Sometimes I get a slight Jethro Tull vibe if they were more into Jazz that is and quite a strong very early Rush flavour.

Actually the guitar work is rather bland I find, with little fretboard magic or wizardry with on occasion a note-y lead-break appears. The song structures whilst not simple to a non-muso like me, seem actually rather pedestrian and devoid of what I could call complexity. Although the songs are fairly long and meander along at times which allows the band to flex their collective musical muscles.

The opening two songs are fairly slow of tempo with copious use of horn section, which is perhaps the band's calling card and what makes them a slightly different proposition than your regular prog rock bands.

Rick's vocals are not really very good at all either to be honest; a somewhat monotone drawl without highs and lows or much melody at all. In fact with improved and more melodic vocals this CD would improve a lot and be much more listenable. The lyrics are typically cryptic for progressive music and it's hard to decipher what they are really about.

As the songs progress, you sort of start to 'get' the gist of things with this band and the songs get more and more progressive with many strange parts ensuing. They continue to play an interesting form of progressive jazz-rock with a unique sound base that I must say sounds fairly pleasant to listen to without actually being really enjoyable if that is possible. The sound quality of the recording is fairly clear and all instruments are given room to shine. The bass player especially gets to flex his fingers and lay down some nice thumping bass grooves that add good texture.

The guitar production sounds rather flat in comparison and lacks power in comparison. The Horn section is given top priority in the soundscape, with a booming sound that rather overpowers the other instruments at times, but I guess the band knows their unique selling point is the inclusion of progressive horns which are often quite random and sound quite complex without much pattern or coherency.

I think that the very open-minded prog rock fans will be absolutely fascinated by the Rick Ray Band. They definitely have a strange and arcane feel to their sound with quirky and somewhat bizarre sections, which will keep prog rock hippies amused and perplexed for quite a long time indeed.

If you like prog rock from the 70s I would rate this CD higher but for the regular metalhead this CD is pretty much useless unless you are of a certain vintage that allows for a broader taste. Overall an average rating for this album but I can imagine some hairy old Progsters spending hours digesting this album and getting quite a lot of enjoyment from it.

© Pirage Forsi
Rating **1/2 (2.5/5.0)

Buy Online

Siena Root - Far From The Sun
Record Heaven 2008

Siena Root - Far From The Sun

Self described jam / hippie hardrockers Siena Root are back for another freakout. And it's a good one.

Feet firmly planted in the seventies, when men were men, women were glad of it, and the heavy blues of Cactus and Grand Funk Railroad ruled the world. Well, the stadia of the American Midwest anyway. Having said that, there has been a slight lightening of their sound this time around, with hints of folk-rock and Mark 1 Deep Purple rearing their heads on tracks like 'The Break Of Dawn' and 'Time Will Tell'.

The guitars still riff it up, but the sitars, mellotron and arrangements head off into a world where Captain Beyond became the biggest band of the seventies and the Pete French fronted Atomic Rooster took up a residency as the British band of choice. That world only exists in my head, which is why I'm delighted to have Siena Root provide the soundtrack.

An absolute delight.

© Stuart A Hamilton
Rating **** (4.0/5.0)



Monday the 8th of October is a day that many fans of Swedish Death Metal music, myself of course included, are anxiously looking forward to. Why? Because that is the very day that will witness the release of Bloodbath's third studio album entitled "The Fathomless Mastery".

The disappointment that most of us felt when Mikael Akerfeldt decided to leave what he refers to in this very release as "a drunken side project" back in 2004 now belongs in the past as Opeth's frontman is again assuming vocal duties for the band's upcoming release - a release that will hopefully excite the fans of the band as much as "Resurrection Through Carnage" did back in 2002. Prior to that, though, Peaceville Records has decided to 'treat' us with a very special release - a CD/DVD, entitled "The Wacken Carnage".

"The Wacken Carnage" is an audio/video testimony of the band's first ever live appearance, one that took place in 2005 in front of thousands of screaming fans who attended the prestigious Wacken Open Air festival. Is this Bloodbath's first and only ever live performance as Akerfeldt quite certainly informs the band's fans half way through the show?

I guess nobody really knows the answer to that question, but if this is proven indeed to be the case, then the owner of this CD/DVD pack will almost certainly possess an important piece of Death Metal history - a release whose audio and video quality is of the highest possible standards, courtesy of the highly professional Wacken filming team. So, let's see why this thirteen-track release should be of any interest to you.

I have already mentioned the remarkable sound and video quality of this release, so let's now concentrate on the compositions that are on offer here. Bloodbath is one of those bands whose musical orientation is ever evolving - quite a remarkable thing indeed, especially considering the difficulties behind the creation of each release and the band's short life span.

Most people will agree with me, though, in saying that the most classic release of all is the 2000 EP "Breeding Death" which is performed in this live release in its entirety. That means that those of you who can envision a Swedish-sounding combination of Morbid Angel and Obituary will not only get the chance to enjoy a killer version of the title track "Breeding Death" but also that of "Ominous Bloodvomit", which for me is the best Bloodbath song ever recorded.

A combination of fast Thrashy riffs and groovy melodies has always been the main weapon in the band's arsenal, so be prepared to enjoy many examples of this successful musical approach, such as "Cancer of the Soul", "So You Die" and "Outnumbering The Day", all of which are performed with surgical precision.

In terms of stage presence, Bloodbath is not the most expressive band that you expect to come across these days, as Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) remained at the left of the stage throughout the whole duration of the show, while Mikael Akerfeldt seemed somehow lost without a guitar in his hands. Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity), on the other hand, went mental with joy as he faced a sea of people and Anders Nystrom's (Katatonia) equally energetic performance guaranteed the creation of a strong bond between the band an its audience.

It was that exact bond that forced Bloodbath back on stage in order to perform the slow-paced Death Metal classic "Eaten" - the very last performance of this impressive live release which was received with great excitement by the Wacken crowd.

I believe that "The Wacken Carnage" stands out, not only as a great example of how any live Death Metal release should be sounding, but also as a great collection of songs, representative of the band's career up to this date.

It is indeed strange, if not sad, that the only reason why I have chosen to deprive this release of a full five-star rating has nothing to do with the music itself, but with Akerfeldt's insistence on ruining the vibe and coherence of the band's performance with his long and useless ramblings between each song, but I guess in his case you can indeed claim that "you cannot teach an old dog new tricks". Check this great release out now!

John Stefanis

Rating: ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)

Verjnuarmu - The Pure Metal Introduction

We chat to guitarist Viitakemies, as our Ten Questions go up to 11

SAH: Who are you and how would you personally describe your music?

Viitakemies: We are Verjnuarmu from Kuopio, Finland. Verjnuarmu is labelled simply as Savo metal mainly because write in Savo dialect and we're some sort of metal. The term Savo metal is not something you ought to take seriously; it's just something we made up. Like HIM that calls their music love metal. Basically Verjnuarmu is a mixture of heavy metal, death metal and Finnish folk music. With some occasional black and trash metal influences.

SAH: When writing, where do you begin?

Viitakemies: Usually it's just picking up a guitar and playing until something decent pops up. After a good riff or two it's time think of what the drums or bass would play, sort of building the song gradually. In that sense we're quite riff-oriented. Sometimes we've also arranged ideas written with piano to guitars, it sort of gives new ways write music. I mean you think different when you're writing with a piano. You have no idea what will it sound when arranged to guitars.

SAH: Which groups, artists and/or bands inspire you?

Viitakemies: All the groups that have something new to offer, have passion for music, mix different influences fluently or just do the their thing like no one other. Swedish and Finnish death metal bands like Dismember, Edge of Sanity, Entombed, At the Gates, old Amorphis are a major influence. And bands like My Dying Bride that put so much emotion to their music.

SAH: Are you influenced by art and literature at all?

Viitakemies: Personally I'm hugely influenced by literature and folklore, especially Finnish and Nordic folklore. Art in almost all forms is also a major influence. Mostly I like paintings by old masters and newer stuff such as Giger and Dali.

SAH: Are there any songs/tracks that you have heard and thought, I wish I'd written that?

Viitakemies: Well, there are always such tracks, but first one that pops into my mind is Drowned Maid by Amorphis. When I first heard it I was stunned and still get goose bumps every time I hear it.

SAH: Do you push yourself to write, or do you have to wait until you're inspired?

Viitakemies: Usually if you have to push yourself to write, nothing decent comes out. So I wait for the right moment to start and work the idea until it seems it's not getting any better. Then coming back to that idea on another day may result something new and so on.

SAH: What was it that made you go into into making music?

Viitakemies: I'd like to think it was "You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll"-video by Twisted Sister with all its rocking and rebelling.

SAH: Do you feel the internet is a good way of helping/promoting your music?

Viitakemies: Yeah, at least for small bands like us it has turned out to be a great way to promote our music and to get new fans. It's also great that you can communicate with your fans easily via internet. Or it would be if we had fans!

SAH: Has the computer age, and its use in creating, editing and manipulating music helped you in any way?

Viitakemies: Yes it has. Nowadays it's a lot easier to record some riffs or arrange songs with computers. You don't have to test every single idea with the whole band which saves a lot of time. You can make a demo at home, rehearse it with the band, and maybe arrange it a bit and you've got a brand new song!

SAH: Give me three good reasons why someone should buy your CDs, barring threats of
bodily harm?

Viitakemies: 1. The use of Savo dialect is unique.
2. There's a lot of variation in the songs. They're quite good and not boring at all.
3. We'll get filthy rich !

SAH: Finally, If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you?

Viitakemies: I'd be my best friend or my worst enemy, hahah. It depends on the day.

You can visit Verjnuarmu here. The album "Ruatokansan Uamunkoetto" is out now, and is available from all good record emporia. Or you can just get it at Amazon

© Stuart A Hamilton August 2008

Time Has Come - White Fuzz Regain 2008

Time Has Come - White Fuzz

Oh blimey, it's mathcore time. Not something I ever willingly choose to slap on the old hi-fi, what with it's wilfully obtuse approach to the mighty metal. However, maybe German outfit Time Has Come have got something to offer that all the other mathcorers haven't.

Um, well, not really. This full length debut (following on from a split album and a four track EP) pushes all the right buttons and checks off all the required elements. One spoonful hardcore, one spoonful grind, one spoonful techmetal, stir and serve. But there isn't really much to hear here that you wouldn't get from the Dillinger Escape Plan back catalogue.

The vocals go for a screamo approach, and they do throw in some slower atmospheric moments, which come as a pleasant surprise, and some of the songs like 'A Clown Can Get Away With Murder' have a Converge quality to them.

Elsewhere, though, things often collapse over into the realms of the unlistenable as tempo changes, frenetic riffing and discordant screaming pile atop each other. The twelve year old in your family will probably love it, but for those who've heard it before, there isn't too much to tempt you in.

© Stuart A Hamilton
Rating **1/2 (2.5/5.0)

Buy From Amazon


Debauchery - Continue To Kill AFM 2008

Debauchery - Continue To Kill
Serving up a generous slab of blood-soaked, still-twitching death metal innovation, Debauchery unleash the unhinged, homicidally inclined, "Continue To Kill."

Forged from a ghoulish lust for mass slaughter and rhythmic appeal, the German quintet's bastard progeny of trad-tinged extreme metal proves both fearsomely addictive and entertaining.

Sating the appetites of hardcore death metallers, and the more melodically inclined alike, Blood God Rising is a crazed combination of bass guitar grooves and gore. Blast beats and rasping howls of agony meet elaborate axemanship, projecting a curious, almost carnivalesque allure.

Title track, "Continue To Kill" exudes an oddly anthemic aura of aggression while the rhythm section is tighter than a coil of freshly extracted intestines. Showcasing genre-bending diversity, ACDC-inspired party piece, "Hard Rockin'" is quite apart from anything the death metal scene has witnessed to date.

Though doubtless an affront to death metal purists across the globe, this amalgamation of lazy, guitar-driven nostalgia and raw, vocal ferocity is at once refreshing and riotously amusing.

Slayer's "Angel Of Death" is executed with all the expertise and lethal impact one would expect from such ambitious choice of cover material. Debauchery's penchant for rabid aggression and vocal talent renders this a faithful yet inventive rendition.

Capable of inciting even the likes of hemp-braiding hippies to malicious intent, "Continue To Kill" proves as devastatingly infectious as a filth-stricken, septic wound.

© Faye Coulman
Rating **** (4.0/5.0)

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Shade Empire - The Pure Metal Introduction To

We chat to vocalist Kuolio as our Ten Questions go up to 11

Shade Empire

SAH: Who are you and how would you personally describe your music?

Kuolio: I'm doing just fine thanx, enjoying the Finnish summer. Shade Empire is a band that performs extreme metal to all who are willing to enter to the Empire. Fast, twisted, gloomy, yet beautiful in its own sick way. To get a better idea of what it sounds like you just need to listen to it. Hopefully we can wake up some minds who are following the blind.

SAH: When writing, where do you begin?

Kuolio: I tend to keep a small notebook with me all the the time and when something comes to my mind I write it down. When I start writing the lyrics I go through my notes and start putting things together. On Zero Nexus most of the lyrics were first in Finnish and then I translated them in English. The problem with this was that Finnish is such a powerful and different language compared to any other, that some of the lines are really hard to translate in a way that they keep their original form and meaning. I can write the whole story ready and then start to think the proper name for it. Many of my fellow writers came up with the title of the song first and then start to write a story based on it. I do this sometimes as well, if the theme is inspiring enough, but usually I have the idea in my head and I just write without any limitations. Then I look what I have come up with and if its good enough I give the story a name that suits it the best.

SAH: Which groups, artists and/or bands inspire you?

Kuolio: Well, I get most of my inspiration from my inner self, but of course there are some bands that really kick ass. I'm into black and death metal and I still pretty much like the same bands that I liked years ago. Emperor, Slayer, Satyricon, Morbid Angel, Dissection, Behemoth, just to mention few.

Bands that have impresses me lately are Watain and Sotajumala. I have been following them for years, but their latest albums blew me away! Like I said I get my inspiration mostly from other things than other bands music, but these are some bands that I enjoy listening to.

SAH: Are you influenced by art and literature at all?

Kuolio: I read a lot. Lot of occult literature and other books that deal with the more obscure side of things. Lately I've been reading books dealing with the Imperium of Rome. Great stuff! Especially the Emperor serie by Conn Iggulden. Allthough it's fictional story it has a historical base also, but the thing that makes it so great is the storytelling. It is awesome!

SAH: I heartily agree about the Emperor series. I've just reread "The Gates Of Rome" and it rocks. Back to music, are there any songs/tracks that you have heard and thought, I wish I'd written that?

Kuolio: Haven't really though of it that way, but I guess you could say so. Now that I think of it too many to mention them all here, but for example the whole "In The Nightside Eclipse" album by Emperor is such a masterpiece that it still gives me the chills sometimes. I put the vinyl rolling, take a cold beer and just listen to it in a dark room. Nowadays there are so many bands that you can hear that things are starting to repeat themselves. It's really rare to hear anything unique anymore. All the extreme stuff has been pretty much done. Let's see what will happen next. Metal music will allways evolve. Event hough I think that metal has already formed into it's most perfect form years ago... At least what comes to black metal. And as a matter of fact the metal scene has seen too many bands that say that they are metal, but in reality they have nothing to do with it. They are just trying to follow the "trend".

SAH: Do you push yourself to write, or do you have to wait until you're inspired?

Kuolio: I do both, but you get best results when you're inspired. When I get in the right mood, things just start to happen. It's hard to explain really.

SAH: What was it that made you go into into making music?

Kuolio: Well, after playing songs made by others for a few years and once you got the skills to do something, I just felt that it's time to create something that you can call your own stuff. That's pretty much the story behind all of the guys in the band, and I think that's the story behind most of the bands anyway. Also one thing that I wanted to do was the live shows. Well, I still love it so didn't go wrong there I suppose...

SAH: Do you feel the internet is a good way of helping/promoting your music?

Kuolio: Yeah, I guess you could say that it is a good thing. At least many more people are aware of the band because of the internet. Of course the fact that you can download the album for free sucks, but what can you do... I am a "old school" guy my self what comes to this downloading shit. I prefer vinyl records, they are the best in everyway. Best quality of sound, you can really see the artwork that's done to support the music, and there's always a certain feeling that you cannot get from any other format.

SAH: Has the computer age, and its use in creating, editing and manipulating music helped you in any way?

Kuolio: Yes. It's much more easier to try different things nowadays than 10 years ago. Allmost anyone who has the skills and the right equipment can do an album at their home. The songs for Z.N were first recorded at Sirkkiäs home lair so that we could hear what needs to be done to the song structures and so on. It's also a lot easier to get your ideas on track now than it was before. I used to put a tape recorder in front of my amp and then just hit rec. Don't really need to do it like that nowadays. But still there was something magical in that too. Damn, I gotta get my tape recorder from the warehouse... And of course it's a lot of fun to take a few beers and record some weird stuff in the late hours of night when everybody's totally wasted...

SAH: Give me three good reasons why someone should buy your CDs, barring threats of
bodily harm?

Kuolio: Buy it or we will kick your sorry ass, god damn it... oh yeah, that was not allowed...
1. If you are into extreme metal with blastbeats, shredding guitar riffs, cruel vocals and twisted synths this is the album for you.
2. The albums endure listening. Just put your mind into it and you can find different things everytime. They are really multilayered.
3. They really kick ass!!!

SAH: Finally, If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you?

Kuolio: You know, the whole time I thought I was that asshole
And it turns out it was him
What an asshole!

Thanks to Kuolio for taking the time out to talk to us. You can visit Shade Empire here. The album "Zero Nexus" is out now, and is available from all good record emporiums. Or you can just get it at Amazon

Shade EMpire

© Stuart A Hamilton July 2008


Shade Empire - Zero Nexus
Dynamic Arts 2008

Shade Empire - Zero Nexus

Finnish band Shade Empire formed in 1999 and released their first album "Sinthectic" in 2004 and "Intoxicate O.S" in 2006; releasing their debut single "Slitwrist Ecstasy" which reached number 3 in the Finnish charts.

Okay, this is probably one of the most diverse and original releases I have heard in a very long time, I cannot compare this album with any of the other releases, as this is a first time listen of the band for me; but I will most definitely be checking out the other albums very soon.

It's going to be hard to describe the sound that Shade Empire have, as it appears to be an individual genre. So to make things easy for you I will sum up Shade Empire's sound; Fear Factory meets Cradle of Filth, punches Wednesday 13 in the face; has a pint with Industrial pukes over Ozzy, cuddles up with Testament and then has a party with Rammstein on a quiet day.

I find the vocal range of "Harju" simply divine; ranging from softly spoken words to roared filth and in places also sounded like a dark hungry werewolf (okay, a few sound effects may have been added, but it sounds awesome), we have choirs as backing vocals and the track "Adam & Eve" contains beautiful vocals very similar to that of Annette Olzon (Nightwish) which works very well alongside the spooky sounds.

The use of synthesizers and an orchestra works very well in collaboration with the guitar riffs and treble kick drums and I even didn't mind the small appearance of the saxophone!

Even though we have allot going on in this album, it isn't messy and all over the place like you would expect it to be, it has been produced in fresh and organic way resulting in a very powerful outcome.

A must listen to any fan of Thrash, Death Metal or Heavy Rock.

© Fluffmeister
Rating **** (4.0/5.0)

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Verjnuarmu - Ruatokansan Uamunkoetto
Dynamic Arts 2008

Verjnuarmu - Ruatokansan Uamunkoetto

Welcome to "Savo Metal". *yawn* yes another sub genre in the world of metal that doesn't actually mean a lot, but then again this genre has been self created by Verjnuarmu along with a very original band biography:

"Originating in the dark forests of 'Savo', lit by the gloomy night of the black moon; The Prince of Darkness raised two long lost souls, Musta Savo and Savon Surma, from their graves. These vile creatures were given the task to play bane guitar along with distorted low tunes of bass and the beating of war drums." Ahem, okay 'Savo Metal' now makes sense, but advertising death and Satan is surely a tad risqué.

Also a tad risqué; is using a Finnish lingo that is only understood in Savonia and parts Eastern Finland, making me a little concerned that all the lyrics are related to death, Satan and witchcraft, which can be offensive.

Even though the entire album is sung in a rare language, I find tracks like "Mustan virran silta" and "Luita ja hampaeta" very catchy and I hope the words I am repeating do not offend my neighbours in the summer sun whilst I have my windows open.

Breaking down the genre "Savo Metal" will make more sense seeing as we don't live in Finland; this album seeps melodic guitar work; both electric and acoustic along with death metal and fast thrash riffs and drums in places; death/doom metal seems a more apt of a description. Some parts of the album reminded me of a Finnish Serj Tankian (System of a Down) combined with a Dave Peter's (Throwdown) type bellows in parts.

To sum up I'd say that this album isn't bad, it contains variety, good production, heavy riffs and doesn't cause that much harm to my Nan downstairs'. Definitely worth a listen if you are a fan of death metal and should also be considered if you enjoy thrash.

© Fluffmeister
Rating ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)

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Urn - Soul Destroyers Dynamic Arts 2008

URN - Soul Destroyers

Urn are an underground black/thrash metal band from Finland, "Soul Destroyers" being their third album release since 1994.

Urn has a hard cult fan following in Finland, but unfortunately I do not see this kind of following happening in England without some kind of originality. I always moan that decent metal ruled the rock world back in the early 90's and cannot seem to be any near as good in the millennium, which is still proved truthful with the same mundane releases such as this.

"Lifeless Days" starts out in a White Zombie fashion, utilising dark, violent sound effects which is strange but I absolutely love this kind of eery start to an album, but rather disappointingly this eery distinctive sound does not continue through the latter of the album.

I am glad to hear a thrash vocalist that doesn't try and scream out of his depths making him sound like his vocal cords have been ripped to shreds by over aggressive use of roars, and as any normal thrash vocals, you can't make out many lyrics, but this normal in the thrash metal world.

Although tin is metal, this album is indeed very 'tinny' and the production of the album sounds rushed and is rather harsh on the ears at a high volume, metal/thrash needs a deeper sound to make it the metal filth it should be.

I lost interest listening to this album as it is nothing new to my already grown thrash collection and rather sadly this will be left on my shelf, collecting dust without an interest in ever listening to it again. It's like my Mum used to say; "it all sounds the same".

© Fluffmeister
Rating * (1.0/5.0)

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Faith - Blessed? Transubstans 2008

Faith - Blessed?

Faith are one of Southern Sweden's first Doom metal acts way back from 1984, who only released a few demos until their first EP was release in 1986 'Hymn of the Singer"; yet didn't release their first album until 2003.

I always get a bit excited as an avid Doom metal or stoner rock fan (whatever you want to call it) when we get a doom metal release, they don't happen very often yet are mostly quite good. Will my 'faith' let me down…?

"Blessed Void of Bewilderment" starts in true doom metal style with some funky sounds and peeks of trombones and trumpets, which was a bit of strange shock to the system to start with, but it worked rather well!

Right but get ready for this definite shock to the system; doom metal fans; tracks such as "Polska efter Ida I Rye" and "Leipzigpolska" don't work very well at all unless you are happy to do an Irish jig. Shoving Irish jig music into doom rock tracks is very brave, random and a bit cringe worthy.

Violins and Fiddles don't belong near my ear drum that is for sure; unless they are electric and played hard. I get the feeling that Faith are trying to be completely different by using these odd parts on an Orchestra and they pull it off in most parts of the album, but fail miserably in others.

The guitar work is true doom style, the drums are true rock style and the vocals are very much Bruce Dickinson sounding. The bass work is very deep and dark in places making me throw my devil horns into the air, I don't even mind the occasional tinkle on the piano, but I really can't can't get my head around the use of the Violin.

I congratulate the band on originality and the attempt to be somewhat different; I guess I can skip a few tracks and still be happy as a doom metal fan.

© Fluffmeister
Rating *** (3.0/5.0)

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**** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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