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Tag Archives: Luxembourg

Mindpatrol – Vulture City


I figured I’d end the year the way I started it: with a review of a local band. There is, to my knowledge, no band in Luxembourg that is as productive as Mindpatrol, since they are about to release their third full length in more or less five years. They stick to their concept album approach and this time around they are taking us to Vulture City, a drug infested dystopian setting! Are you ready to take the trip with me?

I realize that I’m sounding like a broken record here, since I said the exact same thing last time around, but the sextet continues to evolve in remarkable ways. Their sound has become a little more concise, settling comfortably in, what I would consider, progressive death metal and the band seems to know exactly what works, and what doesn’t. The result is a fifty-one minute journey that is jam-packed with memorable riffs and impressive drum patterns. Fun fact: this is the first time that the drums were actually recorded and not created on the computer…and can definitely be heard and felt!

The other factor where Mindpatrol really stand out, to me, is their songwriting, which I would rank among the best in the country. It is one of my main critiques I have with local bands especially, since most of them are fairly solid musicians, but the songs rarely have that extra little something that makes them stand out. While not every single one of these ten songs has “hit potential”, the vast majority is truly well-written and has a nice flow to it. Solos complement the riffs superbly, a good example being toward the end of He, Summoned By The Needle, and small, almost hidden, details like subtle licks every now and then really add a ton of depth. The ensemble is rounded off by a truly massive production quality, that makes every note shine even more!

On the predecessor, one major selling point was the fact that the weakest part of the debut album, the clean vocals, was completely scrapped and replaced by shouted vocals. Ironically enough, I am happy to say that the cleans have found their way back into the fold. Having taken the negative comments to heart, the vocalist decided to completely start from scratch and improve his technique to bring a fresh wind to the mix…and it worked! While he won’t be singing acapella at weddings quite yet, it is a real joy to hear the vast improvement and makes me excited for what is yet to come. I won’t spoil any of the story, but I would consider it the most original and risqué one to date.

What can I say? Vulture City is a major step forward for Mindpatrol and I am convinced that it will appeal to a fairly wide audience, if given the right exposure. To get an idea of what I mean, just check out the brilliantly filmed and edited music video to Her Dire Sacrifice below, and I dare you to not hum that intro along after you’re done listening to the song. The band is putting on a really cool release show this Saturday, December 9th, at Kulturfabrik in Esch, so make sure to swing your behind over there and in the meantime visit their Facebook page for more info.

At this point I’d like to thank you for another year of El Gore and you’ll read me again in a few weeks with my annual Top Ten!

Versus You – Birthday Boys


If I had to name one thing that I like the most about reviewing records, it is the fact that I am occasionally “forced” to listen to genres that I don’t dabble into on a regular basis. I am using the quotation marks, because it is my own decision which albums I review, and which I don’t, but I try to cover the majority of the national releases either way. Now, today’s candidate is definitely not out of my comfort zone, but in listening to Versus You‘s new EP Birthday Boys, and researching it a bit, I realized that there is a great deal of punk rock history that I am totally unaware of.

Immediately upon listening to the opening track, you are welcomed by a very different-sounding band than what you may be used to from the previous record, Moving On. In hindsight the title might as well have been an ominous foreshadowing of what was to come, but I don’t think it was intentional. Generally-speaking, the speed and intensity of the band’s entire sound has been dialed down from eleven to a comfortable six. While I have to admit that on my first listen I wasn’t quite sold on this decision, it ended up making sense on the second go.

These five tracks are, to me, an ode to the past: the band’s inspirations, as well as the experiences they went through individually and as a group. The result is a melancholic musical journey, which does, at times, allow a few glimpses of the brighter future ahead. In a way, it marks the end of an era and the opening of new paths.

To be frank, there is not much more that I could tell you about these seventeen minutes, because they need to be experienced. In order to do that, you can move your bums to Sang an Klang this Saturday, November 11th, where Versus You will be hosting a fairly massive release party. You can find more information about that and the upcoming releases on their Facebook page, so don’t be shy!

Retrace My Fragments – Tidal Lock

Retrace My Fragments - Tidal Lock
Three years have passed since the local progressive death metal heroes in Retrace My Fragments have released their skull-shattering full-length Ethereal Flux and it began to be quiet around the quintet for a while. It wasn’t until recently that they announced their return with a small EP in order to whet the appetite for new adventures to come. However, Tidal Lock is much more than just an amuse-bouche: it is a transition.

The reason for said transition is the, amicable, departure of their vocalist after more than ten years as the frontman. After several try-outs and careful consideration, the guys decided to continue as an instrumental four-piece; a choice I wholeheartedly welcome! While the Luxembourgish metal scene has a few very talented instru-bands already, I am convinced that RMF has a fairly distinct sound that will nicely fit between the existing and established formations without singers.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, back to the EP: in a way the sixteen minutes sound nothing like the band’s previous material, but on the other hand they feel very much like what we’ve grown to love about the band. The song structures are on the same crazy level as before, with frequent tempo changes and numerous riffs being thrown at you in rapid succession, whereas the content is “simpler”. The technicality takes a step back in favor of the almighty beast that is groove, and it works…for the most part.

There is no doubt in my mind that large portions of these three songs were written with a vocal melody in mind and were later on changed into an instrumental arrangement, which is absolutely understandable and legit. But I am also convinced that they do not represent the final form of the new Retrace My Fragments, and that future endeavors will have that extra little something that will make people fall in love with their sound all over again.

If you want to see the band one last time as a quintet, I advise you to move your sweet cheeks over to Rockhal this Friday, where the band will hold a release party for Tidal Lock which will at the same time be the farewell for their singer. In the meantime, you can check their Facebook page for more info!

Blanket Hill – Trenches Of Reality

Blanket Hill - Trenches Of Reality
Today’s review is a bit different than usual, because I’m writing about a local band where I purposefully ignored the release of their debut EP and didn’t cover it on this website…that’s how much I hated it. Two years have since passed and I’m delighted to say that Blanket Hill have fixed everything that I disliked about their debut on their sophomore release called Trenches Of Reality…well almost everything. But more on that in a bit.

In 2014, the quintet rose from the ashes of the hardcore youngsters Order Of The Oceans and underwent several line-up changes before settling on the constellation as it is today. The musical style has also been slightly altered, taking a more traditional old school route, akin to the NYC hardcore and throwing in thrash metal elements for good measure. While it is not them reinventing the wheel, they definitely know how to pull it off convincingly!

The six songs, one of which is an instrumental intro, flow nicely into each other and before you know it, you’re done with Trenches Of Reality…but contrary to the predecessor, it never feels like you’re listening to the same song over and over. The groove-laden riffs and the occasional short solo bring enough variation to the table to avoid that. This was hands down my biggest gripe with Kaizen, so I’m glad that it is no longer an issue, despite there still being some room for improvement.

The vocal situation is still very similar to what we previously heard: not quite my cup of tea, because it’s too much Sprechgesang and fairly monotonous, but since it’s almost a staple in hardcore, I can’t really say anything bad against it. It just isn’t for me. To spice things up. there is one guest appearance by Andrew Wilson of Revulsion that, sorry to say, does nothing for me either.

Reading through what I just wrote, it might seem that I hate the nineteen minutes that are ToR, but consider that I’ve never been a huge fan of the genre to begin with and that I see a lot of potential in the songwriting. So, please, do yourself a favor and listen to the song below to see for yourself whether Blanket Hill is your jam or not, and if they are, make sure to swing by Food For Your Senses in Luxembourg this weekend, where they will perform and release their latest endeavor to the public. More info on that can be found on their Facebook page, enjoy!

Tvesla – Tvesla

Tvesla - Tvesla
In the olden days, back when I first started going to local shows, there were a handful of bands that could be found on almost every line-up: Inborn, Sad But True, Mercury, John McAsskill and Kitshickers were pretty much playing at every bigger concert that happened around that time. However, there were also bands that were sprinkled into the mix every now and then in order to make things interesting. One of those bands was Tvesla, a three-piece instrumental band, who played something that I could not get into for the life of me, back then…but times change. After a couple of years on hiatus, the guys are now back with their new self-titled release. I’ll try to give you a few, admittedly short, impressions but I must warn you: this is not the kind of music you write about, because you need to listen and experience it yourself.

These eight tracks can only be described as hypnotic and entrancing. As a matter of fact, they’re fairly repetitive and simple but those two ingredients are, in my opinion, exactly what give this record its intensity and at times disturbing atmosphere. This is not to say that the musicianship is bad or lacking in depth, it just feels like the band deliberately avoided putting in hundreds of parts in one song just to show off, but rather chose to tone down on variation in favor of the entire composition. A formula that works out perfectly in my book.

I’m not entirely sure how people in general feel about post-rock such as this, but at least for me it has to be enjoyed in a live setting. That’s exactly what my biggest concern was when I first dived into these thirty minutes: will it work without that key factor? On my first listen, I feared that it was not possible, because I was walking to work and focusing on other things, the second time I tried in front of the PC while taking care of things around the apartment and the music still failed to grip me entirely. The solution to my problem came to me on my third try: listen to it on headphones while doing little to nothing else on the side. Only then was I able to get into the state of mind to fully embrace the journey.

That’s all I’m going to bore you with, because as I said in my opening paragraph: it’s best to give it a try on your own and make up your own mind. You can do so in a live setting on March 18th at Rotondes, because that’s when Tvesla is going to unleash their new creation! So be sure to head over to Facebook in order to get additional information on that evening, as well as keeping up with the future endeavors of the band!

Heaven’s Scum – Beyond Human Footsteps

Heaven's Scum - Beyond Human Footsteps
It’s been almost three years since the local Heaven’s Scum released their debut It All Ends In Pain, a record that had its fair share of flaws but essentially was a solid album. The quartet has been quite active in the meantime, playing gigs and writing new material, which they’ve recorded and decided to fund via crowdfunding, a concept that no longer needs an introduction these days. The result is called Beyond Human Footsteps and I’ve had the privilege of getting early access to it in order to write down my thoughts.

Back in 2014, when I reviewed the debut album, one of my major gripes was that the different musical styles didn’t always blend together very harmonically, thus taking the listener out of the experience. I am happy to report that the guys have gotten rid of any unnecessary fluff and that the new and improved sound is a lot more concise, settling in in the modern death metal genre.

Another aspect that was slightly lacking in quality on the predecessor has also been improved: the production. While the general approach of the instruments remaining as natural as possible is still the same, the methods of doing so have become drastically better and they make the eleven songs sound extremely crisp. The songwriting itself has also, I feel, seen improvement and everything comes across as much more mature and well thought out. A good example of this can be heard on the song They All Died, a mostly instrumental song which finishes in an epic interplay of groove, intricate guitar parts and just a well built atmosphere.

The selling point last time was hands down the diversity of the vocals and I’m happy to report that they are still just as strong and impressive during the fifty-three minutes of Beyond Human Footsteps. The improved production quality also contributes to them hitting harder than previously and better displaying the frontman’s vocal prowess. Lyrically, there are a couple songs that stood out to me for different reasons: Bow Down To The Crown, since it has this catchy growl-along chorus that could become the band’s anthem and the truly disturbing The Dead Don’t Judge. I’ll let you discover for yourself why that is the case.

All in all, Heaven’s Scum have without a doubt managed to take a huge leap in the right direction and know exactly how to construct a highly enjoyable listening experience. I, for one, am very much looking forward to what the future holds in store for these guys and I hope that the people will enjoy Beyond Human Footsteps, when it’s being released on March 18th, as much as I did. There will be a release show at Kulturfabrik on said date to celebrate in style, so be sure to bring your dancing shoes. In the meantime, be sure to head over to the band’s Facebook page for more information!

Memory Lane – Virtues

Memory Lane - Virtues
There are certain things that you never think you will get to write in your life without it being a lie. Like: “boy, I sure like the 45th US president” or “I just had an life-changing and meaningful conversation with a neo-nazi”. Well, the year is 2017 and I can finally cross another of those sentences of my list: “there is just no good post-hardcore band in Luxembourg”. Because, lo and behold, Memory Lane has just entered the scene! It has taken us a long to get here, but I can tell you right off the bat that the wait has been well worth the while!

There are two things that the youngsters did exactly right, in my book: first off, they didn’t create a social media account just to invite all their friends and gather likes (or followers) without having anything to show for. That is one of my biggest gripes when it comes to new bands, whether they be local or international, and while I do understand that songwriting and recording is at times challenging, I would always advise newcomers to just wait until they at least have a demo recorded. These guys just did the polar opposite of that and recorded an entire album, called Virtues, before even creating their Facebook page. Secondly, they even have an actual music video out already…color me impressed. But enough about the behind the scenes, let’s get down to brass tax: the music.

I already took away the surprise in my opening paragraph, but I must repeat that it’s actually really good. To begin with, the one thing that differentiates Memory Lane from most, if not all, bands in the genre around these parts of the world is that they know how to write good songs, not just cool parts that awkwardly stumble into one another. Don’t get me wrong: not every song is a composition that could only be rivaled by Beethoven, but there is always a coherence in their song structures that makes listening to these thirty-three minutes a pure joy. While some staples of the genre, like vigorously hammering that open top string or the occasional breakdown, are present in every track, they are underlined by tons of interesting riffs and licks. Add to that a solid drum track which keeps everything in check without ever showing off unnecessarily and the occasional use of keyboards that add another melodic layer, and you’re left with a solid foundation for a record.

As is the case with many bands in this genre, most of the eleven tracks feature two different vocalists, one performing the clean parts and one taking care of the unclean ones. While it has taken me a few listens to get into the screamer’s style, I ended up appreciating his screams because he reminded me of the ones on SecretsFragile Figures, a record that I love to bits. The clean vocals immediately captured my attention from the get go, simply because we have very few good clean singers that are active in the scene. At least on the album the guy delivers a top notch performance, and while I am not quite sure if and how much the singing was digitally polished, it works just fine for my listening experience. A spicy little guest appearance by Everwaiting Serenade‘s Julien on the song Honesty is just the icing on top of all that. Lyrically, it’s honestly nothing you’ve never heard before, but there are some fairly catchy and sing-along worthy choruses here and there that I actually found myself humming at times.

As a summary, what can I say? I am sold. If Memory Lane can deliver these songs on stage, I can guarantee that you willl be sold too! Virtues is digitally dropping this Sunday, February 19th, with a physical release following at a still unknown point in the future. In the meantime, be sure to watch the video below to get an idea of what I’ve been raving about the entire time, and drop them a visit and a well-deserved like over on their Facebook page!

Decipher – Intuition

Decipher - Intuition

Despite no longer writing as often as I used to, I always try to stay up-to-date when it comes to the local music scene, but I have to admit that the mere existence of today’s band completely eluded me until they contacted me to do some minor videowork for them. Fast forward several months and the release of Decipher‘s debut album, Intuition, is only a couple of days away, which is why I figured I’d end the year with one last pre-release review!

The young quintet has chosen technical death metal to be their playing field and have taken the time since their inception to refine their sound by adding various elements and fine-tuning it to create an interesting take on the genre. While the addition of djenty riffs and atmospheric parts is not an entirely new approach, I feel like the guys are pulling it off without sounding like a re-hash of every other band you’ve heard before.

This is, in my opinion, largely due to the simply remarkable level of musicianship that each member brings to the table. The harmonic interplay between the spot-on drumming and the tight bass lines makes for a solid foundation on which the two guitars battle in tandem of who can play the most intricate riff or the craziest solo. While there is also a healthy dose of chugging, it never feels overly mind-numbing and merely gives you a short breathing pause.

The vocals are the one aspect where I’m not one hundred convinced yet, but still see a ton of potential: the singer has a respectable range and technique, but I feel like for a majority of the parts in the different songs, he chose the wrong one at the wrong time. His main modus operandi are deep growls, that could almost be used in a grindcore band, which made it very hard to understand the lyrics for the most part of these thirty-six minutes. However, in other parts he uses screams or screeches that are fairly well articulated and might have been the wiser choice.

On the other hand, the vocal department also holds the biggest surprise of these seven tracks, in the form of a guest vocal appearance by the local singer Anna Felke on the song Soulbound. While the song is fairly untypical while compared to the rest of the record, it fits in perfectly into the concept of the entirety and, aside from the closing track L’or Bleu, is definitely marks the highlight of Intuition.

In closing, I can only say that I’m convinced that Decipher will manage to make a splash in the local music scene once they start playing shows and get their name out there a bit more. One thing is certain: they don’t lack talent. So do yourself a favor, listen to the track below, check out the band’s Facebook page and head on over to Rocas this Friday, December 16th, for a cozy listening party marking the release of the band’s firstborn.

Kitshickers – III.0

Kitshickers - III.0
Instrumental music: you either love it or you hate it. Generally-speaking, it’s difficult for that type of music to win me over, which is why I wasn’t a huge fan of today’s band in recent years. But as chance has it, the Luxembourgish progressive veterans, Kitshickers, are returning to their roots and have a proper vocalist again, instead of guest appearances. For their seventh album, III.0, they’ve recruited Yann Dalscheid, who was the singer of An Apple A Day for quite some time and has recently been added to the Scarred roster, to add a fresh but familiar layer to their complex sound spectrum.

For the second time in a row the band has decided to use the crowdfunding model, in order to cater to the exact needs and wants of their dedicated fanbase, and thus set out to best their previous effort. To cut to the chase, spoiler warning: they absolutely achieved that goal and then some. While their sound is still recognizably them, I feel like they’ve shed some of the overly experimental fluff in favor of a more concise and, for lack of a better word, streamlined style. Don’t get me wrong though: these six tracks are anything but simple and boring. Massive riffs coupled with hard-hitting drumming hammer you into the ground, just to pick you up again and repeat the process.

No need to lie here: the concept, birth and death, behind this new record is one that has been done a million times and yet the quintet managed to captivate me on my first listening session and have kept doing so even after the tenth time through. But be warned: if you’re going to take this ride, you better bring some spare time and the ability to let music have an effect on you, because at one hour and one minute, III.0 is not the type of record you put in while you run and grab some bread from your local shop. At least in my opinion, this is the kind of album where you only get the full experience if you listen to it with headphones and are able to forget about your surroundings.

No small part of this beautifully immersive journey is due to the resurfaced (almost) permanent use of vocals. When I first read that Kitshickers got a new vocalist I was slightly excited, then upon learning who it was going to be I was initially skeptical…since I was definitely underestimating what the guy could do. Finally, when I got to listen to the finished product, I was totally blown away: I knew he could scream, growl, shout and pretty much do everything in the repertoire of a “typical metal vocalist” to a T…but when he switched to perfectly sung clean vocals after an initial scream at the beginning of the first song, I had total goosebumps that lasted for the remainder of the track.

What can I say? III.0 is not a record for everyone, especially in today’s fast food world…but if you allow yourself some time off and dive into the trip that the band has cooked up for you, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. And if for some reason you are not into the vocals, there is the possibility for you to listen to the entire record in a purely instrumental form also. Head over to the band’s Facebook page for more information and do yourself a favor and move your butt to the Rotondes in Luxembourg this Saturday, October 22nd, since that’s where the guys will be holding the release show for their new baby! See you there!

 

Fusion Bomb – Pravda

Fusion Bomb - Pravda
Little history lesson: about three years ago, there was a surge of new young bands emerging in the local scene and playing a lot of small shows. The vast majority of those bands were of the same genre: something-core; be it hardcore, metalcore or deathcore. A fact that I have nothing against, since I enjoy most of those genres, but there was one gang of youngsters that stood out to me. Simply because they decided to go against the grain and play an “unpopular” genre, because it was what they loved: crossover thrash metal!

If by now you haven’t figured it out, the quartet that I’m talking about is of course Fusion Bomb, who finally have actual recorded music to show in the form of their debut album called Pravda! Depending on your general knowledge, the name might give you an idea of what this concept album might be about, but just in case: it’s about the history of the Soviet Union and its eventual downfall. Well, except the last song, Beertroopers Of Death, which on one hand is a homage to genre pioneers S.O.D. and on the other an instant-classic drinking hymn!

In the guitar department, the six tracks, including an intro, are generally-speaking very fast-paced and straight-forward, with one gallop riff fading into the next, but manage to infuse just the right amount of groove and technicality in the form of intricate solos to keep you interested as a listener. Throw in fairly organic sounding drums that know exactly how to go along with that vibe by bombarding your eardrums with blast beats and double bass attacks, and you’ve got yourself quite an enjoyable package. I do have to mention that the songwriting isn’t exactly diverse and many passages are repeated ad infinitum during the individual songs, but to be fair: that is a staple in the genre.

However, I do have one partial gripe with these twenty-eight minutes: the vocals. While they sound very powerful and well-performed, it is almost impossible to make out any of the lyrics because the enunciation is at times really horrendous. I wouldn’t have a real issue with it, if it wasn’t a historical concept album, where the lyrics are potentially a major factor of enjoyment.

To sum things up, what can I say? Is Pravda a breath of fresh air in the fairly repetitive Luxembourgish scene? You betcha! Is it flawless? Definitely not. Is it worth your time though? I would say so, yes. Fusion Bomb have a lot of potential and talent, and this respectable endeavor is perhaps the first step toward greatness! Be sure to listen to watch the lyric video below and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more info on the release of the album next Saturday, September 24th, at Angerfest in Kulturfabrik!