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Darwin & The Dinosaur – A Thousand Ships


They say that when it rains, it pours…usually that has a negative connotation, but this time it’s a highly positive one: shortly after discovering the post-punk genre for myself, I was sent an EP by another band in the same vein, and it blew me away just as much as the first one! The English band Darwin & The Dinosaur is about to release its new EP A Thousand Ships on March 9th, and I’m going to give you my five cents on it!

As mentioned above, the quartet plays punk in its essence but with a post-hardcore twist to it and I, personally, dig the mix a lot! The in-your-face attitude goes hand in hand with the more technical and dreamy elements, which creates a highly enjoyable listening experience.

The ten tracks, four of which are interludes that actually improve the EP because they contribute toward a sense of immersion, have an airtight production and every riff and every single drum beat finds its way perfectly into one’s eardrums. Combined with the songwriting that moves on a very high level, the neat musicianship and the great sing-along choruses, the result is phenomenal! Add to that the charming accent of the singer, and the diverse vocal melodies and techniques and the twenty-five minutes make you crave more immediately!

All in all, Darwin & The Dinosaur are another name to keep in mind, because with a bit of luck they will go far in the scene, since their sound is relatively fresh and truly powerful! So be sure to listen to the song below and head over to their Facebook page for more information! And if all else fails…look at that fucking cover! LOOK AT IT!

The Jury And The Saints – The Jury And The Saints


Let me ask you something: do you like punk? You do? Good. Now, do you enjoy stadium rock? Not your thing, you say? Well…then today might be exactly what is necessary to broaden your horizon! The Jury And The Saints deliver an impressive mixture of both genres on their self-titled album that is due on February 27th!

The New Zealanders’ sound feels like if you took Foo Fighters and sprayed them with a healthy dose of punk: catchy songwriting that features huge sing-along choruses and loads of easy-to-remember melodies, blended with partially screamed vocals and a ton of power chords!

In fact, the quartet doesn’t try to sound super technical on these twelve songs, but rather focuses on being efficient…a task they achieve, hands down. Luckily, the musicians are plenty skillful and manage to avoid boredom at any moment by delivering a flawless performance.

Actually, every time I listened to TJATS, I was amazed by how much the forty minutes managed to animate me and, had I not been sitting on public transport, make me want to dance around shout along to the songs. I’m convinced that, even without having seen them live yet, if you go to one of their shows, you will be severely rocked!

All in all, I’m quite positive that these guys will have a bright future, especially with songs like Freedom Fighter and Make Our Mark which have a lot of potential to reach large audiences! So don’t be a stranger and check out the guys on Facebook and listen to the song below!

Ensiferum – One Man Army


I first saw Ensiferum when they did a support gig for Children Of Bodom on the 12th of May 2011 in Luxembourg’s Rockhal and I was enthralled right from the start. Never before had I seen a support act, that was so full of infectious energy. They blew me away as soon as they played their first notes. In the end I liked Ensiferum thousand times more than the actual headliner of that evening. After that show I immediately got their whole discography. Of course, a few months ago, I was quite stoked when I learned that one of my favorite Finnish bands would soon come up with a new record.

Blown away – that’s also the keyword for Ensiferum‘s new album, called One Man Army. And let me tell you: You ARE going to get blown away throughout the eleven songs on this record. After a slightly mystical visionary intro, the Fins set the levelling rod for the album with the track Axe Of Judgement, which, with its frenetic double bass and fast monumental guitar melodies, rushes through the air in order to split the next best hostile skull. If you don’t get blown away by this track, then you’re either deaf or completely insusceptible to music.

That being said, that’s the manner in which the next tracks of this epic album will continue. You can find other brilliant examples of this raging riffing and drumming in the title track or in the surprisingly different, yet awesome song Two Of Spades. However, in between all the frenzy, the guys always give you a chance to rest and have a good mead with atmospheric, folk infused interludes, like Burden Of The Fallen or with mid-tempo tracks like Warrior Without A War. Moreover there are also one or the other parts that will probably make you grin.

On One Man Army, Ensiferum does what the band does best: write songs with wonderful melodies, that are accompanied by beautiful harmonies, a majestic choir and / or by synthesizer accents. These also take their part in the “blow you away” effect. Sometimes they can actually make you feel the northern winds on your skin and make you smell the blood soaked sea as you tag along with your friends in a “Siegreicher Marsch”. Oh wait… no, that was another band…

Ensiferum is categorized as a folk infused melodic death metal band. Which is 100% accurate. However, I’d say that the term epic metal would fit perfectly as well, because if you had to describe the new Ensiferum album in one word it would be: epic!

Pandemia – At The Gates Of Nihilism


When I put on today’s record, I felt like it had been a decade since I listened to a death metal album, then I realized that it’s already 2015 and my feeling is actually confirmed: it’s been a long time. My roots were in thrash and death metal before I started venturing into other genres and eventually discovering the genres I enjoy the most these days. However, Pandemia managed to make me miss those olden days with their new album At The Gates Of Nihilism!

Interestingly enough, the Czechs are celebrating their twentieth band anniversary this year, so it kind of feels like full circle…but I digress. This long-time experience means that they have got this traditional genre down to a t: the guitars sound so menacing that at times you might start to worry about your health, the drums are an inferno of blast beats and double bass attacks, and the vocals tear everything to shreds that is in their way.

The quartet doesn’t stop there though, instead they blend the brutality with bite-sized pieces of groove and melody, which adds a ton of depth to the eleven, twelve if you count the Loudblast cover bonus track, songs. Combined with the crazy solos that are thrown in the mix and, most of all, the truly catchy songwriting, this creates a sound spectrum that managed to grip me from the get-go.

During the forty-one minutes, the vocalist delivers a stunning performance that is mostly kept in the growl range, but also features, what I like to call, “insanity screams”. You know, those screams that would make you feel concerned about a person’s mental well-being if you heard them outside of a musical environment. Good stuff!

All in all, Pandemia made a genre that I had mostly written off, in terms of personal taste, really relevant to me again. While I definitely won’t go out and buy twenty death metal records at once, I feel like it won’t hurt to give some albums in the genre a chance in the near future. So, do yourself a favor and give At The Gates Of Nihilism a spin when it’s released, on February 23rd! Until then, visit the band’s Facebook page and listen to the song below!

Fractal Universe – Boundaries Of Reality


Today I’m going to write about a fairly new band called Fractal Universe, which is about to release its debut EP Boundaries Of Reality on February 20th. But make no mistake: the quartet is by no means comprised of beginners, quite the contrary. Every single musician is well-experienced and masters his instrument, which makes for an interesting first release.

The crowd-funded record shows the Frenchmen right at home in finest technical death metal, which features a great deal of variety. Be it the wet dream of the guitar-geeks out there in form of intricate riffs and fast-paced drumming on one hand, or the groove-laden palm-muting extravaganza on the other hand…it certainly never gets boring during the twenty-four minutes.

The vocals are always on point, be it in the form of deep growls or desperate screams, and from a technical standpoint they leave nothing to be desired from. There also some experimental vocal effects, such as whispered echoes or distorted lines, giving the entirety a very Gojira-esque feel…which, while nothing new, is always a nice addition, if used correctly such as in this case, in my opinion.

There is one gripe I have with the four tracks however. The production fluctuates heavily between accentuated clear guitars and a sometimes mushy sound. While it doesn’t make Boundaries Of Reality sound terrible, I am convinced that a better mixing would have benefited the record enormously and elevated it to a completely new level of awesomeness.

All in all, Fractal Universe has made a very respectable first step in the music scene, and if they iron out the minor issues, I am sure that their future will be a bright one. In terms of creativity and skill, the guys are definitely set for it. So do yourselves a favor and listen to the song below, and keep an eye on the band’s Facebook page for the release of the full EP!

Jonny X Kyle X Midnite – The Blueprint For Going In Circles


In case you are a regular reader, you might have noticed that I never, or very rarely, write a negative review. A fact that is easily explained: if I don’t find at least something that appeals to me on a record, I simply don’t bother, because I don’t get off on putting someone’s effort down just because I dislike it. And in cases when I am not completely into the music, I don’t hide that fact but I don’t emphasize it too much, because music is subjective…and that’s what’s most important to me.

Today, on the other hand, it’s time to get back to what got me into reviewing in the first place: writing about music that I truly love and want to share with the public. The Blueprint For Going In Circles is a new collaborative project between Jonny Craig, Kyle Lucas and Captain Midnite; in short: Jonny X Kyle X Midnite!

In its essence, the album is hip hop with a RnB vibe to it. Tight raps, minimalistic electronic beats, keyboards and various other sampled instruments, coupled with heartfelt and clever lyrics make these forty-one minutes an already highly enjoyable experience. But much like hot sauce on food, Jonny Craig’s soulful vocals make everything even better and complete the sonic spectrum perfectly.

As a matter of fact, the vocal duties are split slightly unevenly in the favor of singing instead of rapping, which suits me just fine, to be frank. Seven songs out of the eleven are duets, three are JC-solo songs and only one is a Kyle Lucas solo. However, the order of the songs is well chosen and at no point it feels like it’s a forced collaboration, which I applaud.

Honestly, that’s about as much as I can tell you about The Blueprint, because this might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I absolutely dig it and I predict that it will stay on heavy repeat for quite a while on my travels and at home. You can find the artists’ respective Facebook pages above, and listen to one of my favorite songs below. Enjoy! I know I did.

Go By Brooks – Rivers


One of my primary objectives since I started writing reviews, was to promote the local scene in the best way possible by trying to cover every single release. Obviously, this sometimes takes me far out of my comfort zone in terms of musical direction, but on the other hand I really love the challenge of writing as objectively as possible from time to time. Today is one such occasion, because the pop rock band Go By Brooks have recently released their debut EP Rivers!

The quartet (actually, quintet as off the beginning of this year) includes the traditional electric instruments in their music, as well as a piano, acoustic guitars and percussion, which adds a significant amount of depth to the five songs. In fact, they create a truly melancholic atmosphere that manages to capture the listener’s attention quite easily.

From a technical standpoint, there’s not a lot to say, to be honest: there’s no part that will blow your mind with its intricate execution, because it’s all kept rather simple…which can be good, because it makes the music accessible to a wider audience. However, every instrument is excellently played and coupled with the very natural-sounding production, the ensemble is definitely enjoyable.

The singer brings a clean performance to the table during these eighteen minutes, but at times I missed the oomph in her voice. While I have to admit that I’ve never seen Go By Brooks live, I’m willing to bet that in a setup with a crowd, that factor shouldn’t be an issue though, because the necessary skill is there and coupled with the energy from the spectators, it should be perfect. Maybe an idea for improvement on EP number two…

All in all, Rivers is a nice little debut EP that absolutely deserves to be checked out by lovers of slower and softer tunes. Personally, it’s not something that I can really listen to at home or on-the-go, but I wouldn’t walk out of a room if they played a show, because I believe that this type of music has its true potential in a live setting. As always, find the necessary info on the band’s Facebook page and check out the song below!

I, The Lion – Run


I, The Lion is an up-and-coming band from the UK, that has found its comfort zone in post-punk, a direction that I admittedly wasn’t quite aware of before listening to its new EP Run. Naturally, I was intrigued by this new genre and equally excited to discover it.

But, let me be honest: when I started listening to the EP for the first time, I was taking care of some stuff in my living room and I thought to myself that it was going to be just another run-off-the-mill pop punk band. But then, a bit more than two minutes in, I stopped what I was doing for a second because a cool part in the song came up, only to resume my chores…until the three minute mark when I literally looked up and sat down to enjoy the rest of the amazing sixteen minutes in peace.

How can I describe their sound best, I wonder? I’d say that it’s a mix of pop punk and post-hardcore, because it features catchy and easy-going song structures on one hand, and energetic technical explosions on the other. Let me backtrack to the above-mentioned magical three minute mark part, which is a prime example of their musical prowess, where the guitar keeps climbing a scale, only to erupt into a groove-laden part with perfect harmony between powerful drums and a crushing guitar riff, which is underlain by a dreamy high-pitched rhythm guitar part. I absolutely love it.

The one thing I have slightly mixed feelings about, however, are the vocals. Even though the singer delivers a respectable performance throughout the four songs, I just can’t really get into his clean vocals, because they come across as a bit flat and monotonous for the most part. It feels as if this is his first go at clean singing, but I’m quite convinced that with a bit more practice, the end result will be perfect. His screams, on the other hand, tickle my fancy just right!

What can I say? Run is an EP that is definitely worth your time, because it delivers in all the right places and is chock-full of memorable parts. You can check out the band’s Facebook page for more information and listen to the discussed-above opener below, before checking out the full release on February 9th.

Infact – State Of Decay


Last Friday, at the Kulturfabrik, was the release show of yet another Luxembourgish album: Infact‘s State Of Decay! Sadly, my review copy reached me a bit too late for a proper pre-release review, but better late than never…so here goes!

While the quintet has a fairly unique style with many, more or less, obvious influences; the main leitmotiv is definitely groove; add in some thrash and metalcore elements and you’re pretty close to what Infact sounds like. Coupled with the very clean and powerful production, that mix goes down like butter.

The drums are a non-stop barrage of intricate double bass rhythms and diverse handwork, covering everything the ears desire. Along with the multifaceted guitarplay, which ranges from typical headbang riffs to fairly melodic parts and fast-paced solos, the instrumental front is hands-down a forte of these fourteen tracks.

The vocals on the other hand, I’m kind of hot and cold about…while the guy definitely has great pipes and a remarkably broad range, it’s a bit too much all over the shop for me. His main style is very much alike Volbeat‘s Michael Poulsen’s singing, which I absolutely dig because I can’t think of anyone in our little country that sings in that direction. The occasional screams and growls are also a nice little addition, which blend fairly well into the ensemble, but in a few instances, he adapts a very high-pitched kind of singing or does seemingly randomly pitched parts, which just ruins the moment for me.

Another factor is the length: in my opinion State Of Decay would have been just as enjoyable at forty-ish minutes instead of the fifty-three minutes. But I guess that’s just personal preference.

To sum things up, this second full-length is a really strong endeavor and it should be to many people’s liking. For me, it was definitely not a waste of time, but to be honest, it’s not something that I will keep on repeat until the day I die. If I managed to make you curious, head over to the band’s Facebook page and listen to the song below!

Essence – Smoke And Mirrrors


Sometimes I listen to music and I just can’t get into it, even though every separate element on its own is to my liking, the final result just slightly misses my personal taste. Today’s review is about such a case: Essence is a progressive metalcore band from Belgium, and the guys are about to release their new EP Smoke And Mirrors on February 2nd!

As I said above, the quintet has all the ingredients to make me love the five songs: technically-sound guitar playing, solid drumming, enjoyable vocals, all wrapped in a matching massive production. But, in my opinion, it lacks one key thing: diverse songwriting with real highlights; which is a shame since the musicians seem to master their instruments quite well.

The other fact that kind of irks me, is the almost omnipresent “chugging”, which makes up almost half the time of these twenty-five minutes. Luckily, the progressive parts make up for that though, since they’re interesting enough to forget the rest. For me personally, an eighty to twenty ratio would have been the ideal mixture between melodic and heavy, but I guess that’s a subjective criteria.

The vocalist delivers a strong performance from start to finish, while solely relying on his powerful screams; sadly this is yet another tidbit where I would have liked some diversity. The usage of one singing style simply makes it hard to distinguish the choruses from the verses, which, to a melody-lover like myself, makes it hard to get into the songs.

I realize that this comes across as a negative review, but I’m actually really glad that I found out about Essence, because I’m convinced that, with a bit of tweaking, their approach to music has a lot of potential. Which is why, in closing, I can definitely recommend giving their EP a try, maybe you’ll enjoy it from the get-go. I, on the other hand, will follow their progress in the future and hope to get a chance to catch them live some time soon! Head over to their Facebook page for more information and watch their video below!