Scarred – p A t i E n C e

Quick headsup: today’s post isn’t going to be a review per se, because the new EP by Scarred is not really something you -can- review, and it’s also not going to be very long. But I had the chance to listen to pAtiEnCe for a whole week ahead of its release and I’d like to just share my quick thoughts with you.

The only thing I can tell you for certain is that you will either really enjoy the journey during this half hour or you will turn it off before even reaching the end of it. I don’t see anything in between.

The four songs’ theme and lyrical content are centered around a very special experience that will either work for you or not, that’s really it.

Personally, I like the result quite a bit, but I don’t think I’m ready to accept this as the main direction of the band…at least not yet.

But enough pointless words, just head to the band’s Bandcamp and give the EP a listen and make up your own mind. And be sure to check out the video down below if you want some visual representation of it.

Blanket Hill – The Courage Of Hopelessness

You know, I write these reviews just because I like supporting the local scene and because I enjoy writing down my thoughts in order to maybe get one person interested in the band I chose. Obviously, I am well aware that my reach isn’t huge and not many people in general read reviews anymore, with streaming being the norm…but every now and then I write one and I feel like the band has actually taken the critique seriously and improved in that domain, and, dare I say, I feel like today is one such example! Of course, I could just be talking out of my ass, which wouldn’t be a first, but the new Blanket Hill album fixed the one thing I disliked about its predecessor and improves on so many other levels. Continue reading if you want to get my impressions of The Courage Of Hopelessness!

I should preface this by mentioning that while the quintet remains true to its hardcore roots, there has been a line-up change in the guitar and drum department, which can definitely be felt. Since Scott and Miguel from Fusion Bomb bring a much more thrash-orientated sound to the table, which, at least for my own personal taste, makes this even more enjoyable. There are quite a few guitar parts that just catch your attention the first time you hear them and then take you on a headbanging ride.

Of course riffs aren’t the only thing you need, but don’t worry: the songwriting is also there to back them up. On my first listen there were quite a few surprises and even a few moments where I don’t exactly understand what the band was going for, but I also appreciate the diversity at the same time. The best example is the interlude Abu No Hana which is a two minute and a half drum and bass track without any vocals and no real connection to the other eleven songs. I don’t think the final product would have suffered without it, but I can safely say that I’ve never seen a hardcore album with something similar…so, unironically, kudos for innovation.

The other creative leap is a hardcore duet, dare I say ballad…which almost sounded perverse when I first heard about it, but the result is a wonderfully fresh song that features the powerful pipes of Parity‘s Sandra and also showcases the major improvement: the lead vocals! While I found them a bit too dull and monotonous previously, there is such a wide variety now that it’s almost hard to imagine it’s the same person. While there still is the Sprechgesang, it is now complimented by much more melodic singing and a much more dynamic speech cadence.

Also noteworthy is the pretty incredible production value of these forty-four minutes, where every note is crisp and even the bass is audible.

To sum things up, The Courage Of Hopelessness is a very strong sophomore record and I am already looking forward to what the future holds for Blanket Hill. But please, don’t let it be another video of the band lip-syncing in public places…much love, you guys. The album is being released this Friday, October 21st, at Schungfabrik where the band is hosting a release show, so head over to their Facebook page to get more info on that and make sure to list to the song below.

Cosmogon – Penumbra

Today’s review is a perfect example of how time flies when you’re having fun, because I’m having a hard time comprehending that it’s been more than TEN years since I saw Cosmogon play their first show at Kulturfabrik. It’s even wilder to think that today I’m writing about their first full-length, Penumbra, which is going to be released this Saturday, October 8th. As I said…fun and time, one hell of a combination.

I must admit: I mislead you a little here. While it is the band’s first album, it’s not their first release, since in 2014 we got the very powerful EP Chaos Magnum, followed by the second EP Devolution three years later. So let me address the connoisseurs first: this is still Cosmogon as you know and love them, but I feel like these eight songs are the logical evolution in the band’s sound.

I’d wager that it’s in part due to the fact that the guys went back to being a quartet after being a quintet for quite some time, since there is a palpable back to basics approach while still incorporating new ideas. It is needless to say that the groove is still strong but this time around there are quite a few Swedish death metal elements, most noticeably in the riffing and guitar tone.

The songs also seem much more bass-driven than before with several moments where the big boy strings really shine and steal the show. The bass is also very clearly audible almost all throughout the forty-three minutes, which I absolutely adore but it might be too much for some.

If there is one person in the Luxembourgish scene where I feel like I’m being repetitive, it is clearly the man on the throne, beater of the skins, destroyer of cymbals, first of his name, the man who needs no introduction, but just to be complete: shit’s tight as always. There is sort of a stand-out moment for me personally where I’m not entirely sure if it’s the first time that he does this, but on the song Temper there is a very tribal-sounding interlude where bongos are being played and it just elevates the entire song to the next level.

Last, but certainly not least, is the man behind the mic who still belts out a phenomenal performance despite screaming for almost a quarter of a century. There is even a little extra special surprise on the song Serpents Among Us, but I won’t spoil it. All I can say is that when I first heard it, my first reaction was ‘is that really him?’.

All in all, there is no doubt for me that Penumbra absolutely eclipses (been waiting a long time for that pun) the previous two releases and while it won’t win any awards for being the most diverse album of the year, it does what it has set out to do very well; and that is to rip its listener a new one. If you want to follow the band on social media, head over to their Facebook page, but most of all make sure to move your butt to Kulturfabrik this Saturday to experience the guys tear down the venue…not literally, I think.

Drogher – The Last Wave

I believe that I’ve mentioned it in the past, but I absolutely love being part of the Luxembourgish metal scene! Throughout the ten years that I’ve been writing reviews on here I’ve met a lot of new people which I became friends with and with friendship often come, shall we say, benefits. Today’s band is the result of one such benefit, in the form of a scoop that I was told around, maybe, two years ago, back when concerts were still rare and meeting friends in person was a treasured event.

I remember being very curious and to my own surprise I actually managed to not be nosy when I learned who was part of the band. So it was a nice surprise when not that long ago the project’s name was revealed to the world: Drogher! The quartet’s first release is going to see the light of day in just three short days in the form of the EP The Last Wave and I’m very glad to say that I’ve taking this baby for quite a lot of spins these past few days, so let me tease you guys a bit with a short review.

First off: while the band chooses to remain anonymous for now, it can be said that none of the members are newcomers and that can be felt from the second you push play to the moment you push play again because you want to re-listen to the three songs.

Musically, Drogher combines a multitude of elements from several genres into a very homogeneous blend. I’m fairly confident in saying that even those annoying metal purists will find at least one aspect during these fifteen minutes, but everyone else can expect a fantastic mix of modern death metal with hints of black metal and a healthy dose of groove.

One thing that I just need to mention is that I’m especially glad to hear a local veteran on the mic again, because he’s definitely back with a vengeance. Bringing his new and improved A-game to the tracks, with the closing track absolutely taking the cake.

If I managed to hype you up, please make sure to head to your digital dealer of choice this coming Monday to listen to The Last Wave and in the meantime, head over to the band’s Facebook page to keep up with them. Last but not least, Drogher will play their first show on September 17th at the Metalfestival which takes place in Strassen this year!

Top 10 2021 by Yannick

Who would have thought that this situation would last yet another year? I remember back in March 2020 I was part of the optimists who thought we’d be back to normal in two weeks. Looking back now, I don’t know what I was thinking because the amount of stupidity that I’ve witnessed since then, when it comes to small and simple tasks like wearing a mask, has me convinced that my introduction to this same post in a year will not be much different. On the bright side, however, 2021 has been without a doubt the best musical year in a long time, with so many bands, new and old, bringing their A-game. Here’s a list of my personal top ten records of 2021!

#10 CHVRCHES – Screen Violence

This year I finally played a game that was on my to-do list for a while, called Death Stranding, and CHVRCHES contributed an eponymous song to it that played during the end credits and it made me get all the feels. Which is why I decided to look up what the band were up to and saw that they were about to release a new record, which I checked out and immediately fell in love with. If you’re into good pop, with a message, give Screen Violence a listen. (And play the game if you’re up for a really unconventional experience)

#9 Chevelle – Niratias

When I was eighteen years old I was really into playing an MMO called Final Fantasy XI and through that game I met some people from overseas, who in turn introduced me to Chevelle‘s record Wonder What’s Next, which is arguably one of the most important alternative metal records of the early 2000s, and at the time it was everything my teenage angst ridden soul needed. As I grew older I kind of lost track of the band’s evolution, until this year when I stumbled upon their newest record which completely blew me away and did to me what the other record had done almost two decades prior, minus the teenage angst.

#8 Whitechapel – Kin

Whitechapel were always just another deathcore band to me, which I neither liked nor disliked. I was simply indifferent to them…but their new record changed that after only hearing one song. While the addition of clean vocals is, apparently, not new to their sound, the execution, coupled with extremely diverse songwriting, on Kin really captured me and will have me backtracking through the band’s catalog throughout next year.

#7 Gold Necklace – Gold Necklace

In 2017, one of the EPs I recommended was by a band called Eternity Forever, who ended up disbanding shortly afterwards. But this year saw their comeback, under a different name and a slightly different line-up, with a record that is straight-up thirty minute good vibes.

#6 Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

Out of all the records this year, I’m pretty confident in saying that there isn’t a record that the entire metalcore scene was more looking forward to than Spiritbox‘s debut album. After the single Holy Roller caused a massive stir in early 2020, and Constance showed a very different side of the band’s sound, everyone was hungry for more and boy did we get a feast. One of the strongest vocalists in the scene coupled with impressive instrumentals can do no wrong.

#5 Beartooth – Below

I discovered my love for Beartooth in 2020, after sleeping on them for the longest time, and was very excited when they announced a new album this year, because they have a certain type of sound that just works for me. Below is no different and might even be my favorite one from their catalogue.

#4 Eidola – The Architect

Another record that was very much anticipated by myself and the post-hardcore community was Eidola‘s follow-up to their 2017 masterpiece To Speak, To Listen, and yet again the expectations were not only met but exceeded. While the record is, I would say, a bit more difficult to digest than its predecessor, it is choke-full with musical brilliance on every level.

#3 Every Time I Die – Radical

With ETID’s 2012 record Ex Lives I suspected that I was going to forever love everything they put out and every record since then has proven me right. Radical, however, has me questioning how the band pulled this one off, because it is even better than its predecessor, which was already a solid ten out of ten for me. The sixteen songs go so hard even when they go slow, and it’s a true beauty from start to finish.

#2 Turnstile – Glow On

Honestly, at this point I could just copy-paste the previous paragraph, because Turnstile pulled off the same feat: they managed to improve upon a solid ten record that was the predecessor. Glow On is, in my humble opinion, the new gold standard when it comes to (modern) hardcore.

EP-Special

Lorna Shore – …And I Return To Nothingness

Knocked Loose – A Tear In The Fabric Of Life

The Devil Wears Prada – ZII

Feradur – Parakosm (review)

As every year, I want to shine a light one some EPs that stood up to me, for whenever you need a short fix of something new. All four of them are really heavy and actually of a fairly similar musical direction, with the exception of local Feradur‘s Parakosm which stands out as the death metal rebel. I’ve written a full review about it which should explain to you why you should check this one out, so feel free! As for the other three…there’s honestly not much to say. The Devil Wears Prada wrote a sequel to their heaviest musical outing and it rips just as much, with Nora being my favorite track. Knocked Loose are, once again, dragging us listeners naked across the tarmac while driving a truck and even added a really fascinating music video to it, which you can you check out here. And Lorna Shore definitely broke the internet with their new vocalist who has the craziest scream vocal range that I’ve seen in ages.

#1 Ice Nine Kills – Welcome To Horrorwood

I’m being repetitive, I know, but Ice Nine Kills‘ 2018 record The Silver Scream was a fantastic record that hit all the right buttons for me, with exceptionally well-written theatrical metalcore and a horror-themed setting. When its successor was announced I had fairly high expectations, but my body was not ready for the utter perfection that is Welcome To Horrorwood. Easily an eleven out of ten, with extremely diverse songwriting, fantastic guest vocalists and a brilliant selection of horror films as inspirations. I cannot wait to see my second gig of these guys!

Let’s see what 2022 brings…I’m fairly optimistic that we’ll finally get to experience all the gigs that have been delayed over and over again over the course of these past two years. And other than that…I’m really looking forward to whatever beautiful new music will grace my ears, as I am sure there will be plenty!

Dreadnought – Path To The Unknown

Changing band members is never an easy feat, and the Luxembourgish scene has had its fair share of new and old faces playing in different bands. However, I would argue that changing vocalists is always the riskiest move a band can make, since they tend to be the face of the band and be the most “accessible” part of the music. Today’s band has had to make just that transition a few years ago when they, amicably, parted ways with their singer…and in my humble opinion it was the best thing that could happen to them. So let’s take the Path To The Unknown together and see what Dreadnought holds in store for us on their upcoming record!

While following my usual routine before writing, which consists of re-reading my previous reviews in order to avoid repeating myself, I was shocked that it has already been seven years since their previous release and close to ten since their debut! Luckily, from the first riff you can tell that those years were not spent idly, because the increase in musicianship is very apparent and I dare you to not at least tap your fingers to the melody of the first song.

To me the quintet has definitely solidified their overall sound with these seven songs, whereas previously I would have called it blackened death metal, this time around it’s pure black metal that does, however, not shy away from melodic guitars. The drums also choose a very varied approach, thus avoiding endless monotonous blast beats, and serve as a perfect foundation for the strings.

I also have to add that the production of the instrumentals is, to me, flawless and finds the perfect mixture between being clearly audible and yet sounding raw enough to not sound artificial. This also goes for the vocals, by the way, but more on that in just a second.

The elephant, or should I say evil priest, in the room Is definitely the new singer. So let’s talk about him and why I believe he’s a better fit for Dreadnought than their previous vocalist. By now it is no secret that I am huge admirer of Boerdi’s performance, but I believe that his vocal focus was, and still is, death metal and he excels at it, hands down. However, for this band he tried a different route at first, which was a good initial idea but especially listening back to Vanitas today, it’s apparent that he felt more at home in the death metal domain.

Bob, however, feels right at home and his vocals during these thirty-three minutes range from the typical black metal screams, to a handful of well-placed growls and the occasional really haunting and atmospheric cries. Coupled with, dare I say, sing-along worthy lyrics that are not afraid of having a slightly humorful undertone at times, Sister Fornicata comes to mind, the package is well rounded.

All in all, Path To The Unknown is a definite step forward for Dreadnought and I, for my part, am super excited to see what they’ve come up with for their release on October 30th. If you want to keep up with the band and get more information about their release show, head over to their Facebook page and make sure to listen to the opening track of the record below!

Mindpatrol – Ikaria

One might not always think of it that way, but getting into music has a cost of entry: time. While it might not be as apparent with your typical pop song, it becomes increasingly obvious the more technical the music is. Because, unlike the former, the latter usually aims to challenge the listener with hidden intricacies and complex, often nontraditional, song structures. In their eight years of existence, Mindpatrol have without a doubt proven that they don’t shy away from the unconventional and their new record Ikaria is no exception. I’ve had the privilege of getting my hands on it early and I want to talk about it, because it made me think about something.

First off, despite going through an almost complete line-up change, the quintet has stuck to their tried and tested formula of writing concept albums that don’t really stay inside the boundaries of a single metal genre and continue expanding the idea with a couple of new elements.

The most notable addition is a flamenco guitar that constitutes the main body of the instrumental title-track, which serves as a nice breather in the middle of the record. Instrumentally speaking, I would consider this to be Mindpatrol‘s heaviest record with the influence of the new members definitely being noticeable.

In the vocal department, we have what I think might be my favorite chorus of the band thus far in the form of super fast, almost rapped, lines on Trial Of A Simple Man that are interspersed with anthem-like screams. The clean vocals have, yet again, improved and the last forty seconds of the single Stainless White, found below, are a true testimony to their evolution. For my personal taste, the ratio between cleans and screams was just a bit off, and I would have loved more growls, screeches and angry shouts into my ear canals, but that’s just me.

I mentioned cost of entry earlier, and Ikaria is not a record that I’d call easily accessible, at all. After my third listening, the twelve songs started making sense to me and I was appreciating them more. But that was where I ended my exploring, because I noticed that I simply couldn’t devote enough time to it, in order to do it justice.

The main thing that kept me from going forward, was the run-time, which made me think about the age-old discussion of what the perfect length of a music release should be. At sixty-four minutes, Ikaria is not something I can put on during my daily commute and finish in one sitting, which is my main way of consuming music in general. And with traveling not really being a thing, at least for me, these days, that takes another big chunk from my usual musical routine. I want to make it clear though that I don’t mean that any artist should ever, EVER, EVER make a song or album shorter just for the sake of it being shorter and instead should always go with their vision.

All in all, Ikaria has the potential of being a very enjoyable album if you give it the proper time to unfold but the album as a whole didn’t speak to me personally, call it wrong place, wrong time, so I had to call it quits too early to savor it fully. However, if you are into progressive metal and are willing to invest the time, I can guarantee that Mindpatrol‘s newest release will not disappoint. You can find more info on the band’s Facebook page ahead of the release on June 4th and be sure to check out the video below!

Airship81 – Inertia Pt. 2

Routine. I might have mentioned in the past that I’m a huge sucker for it and I can’t imagine my daily life without it, since it works for me and it keeps me mentally sane. However, after more than three years (I checked) of only reviewing metal and rock releases, I think a little breath of fresh air will definitely be welcome! I actually picked something that many of you, my constant readers, probably wouldn’t choose by yourselves, in order to hopefully introduce you to a new taste. If the cover hasn’t given it away yet, I’m talking about Airship81 who are about to release their third EP, titled Inertia Pt. 2.

Minor correction: they are actually just one person. Airship81 is the passion solo-project of Paul Bradshaw who you might know from local bands, such as La Fa Connected and Mount Stealth, and the aural space he chose to dabble around in this time is of the electronic kind.

The five songs are very synth-driven and remind me personally of 80s video game soundtracks, but with a fresh coat of paint. Yet the vibe is much more, dare I say, partially melancholic at times, while never leaning too far into the sad part of it. Especially the closing track conveys that feeling particularly well. On the other hand the opener is the exact opposite and serves as the perfect foundation for the journey ahead.

I am not a huge fan of comparisons because they can sometimes be misunderstood but in this case I’ll make an exception: if I had to make one, the most accurate and recent comparison would be the wonderful soundtrack of Blade Runner 2049. Because in both cases, the composers knew what to keep of the old and what to add of the new, to make it a fresh piece of art.

The only thing that I dislike about Inertia Pt. 2 is at the same time also the thing I like the most: its duration. At slightly more than seventeen minutes the expedition is over quite quickly and it leaves you hungry for more. However, first of all the EP is well-rounded and gives you a complete experience and secondly, and most importantly, you can immediately push play again.

Inertia Pt. 2 is dropping on June 4th and you’ll be able to dive into the beautiful sonic landscapes yourself. In the meantime, you can follow Airship81 on Facebook!

Feradur – Parakosm

Those that know me personally, know that there are very few words that I enjoy hearing more than “you were right”. And in today’s review I can say, to myself, that I was right! While that is very self-serving, I’m sure that you’ll agree, as well, since Feradur has managed to fix the only gripe I had with their previous record on their most recent output Parakosm. But more about that later, let’s see what the new EP has to offer!

After having found its sound on its 2019 full-length, Legion, the quintet continues to further fine-tune it and showcases an even more mature and coherent songwriting than before. Just as was the case previously, every song has at least one hook that will get stuck in your head after the first listen, but I’d argue that this time around the transitions between the different parts are even smoother.

I am very happy to report that the mixing of these five songs does not give me the same muddy sound that I was complaining about on the predecessor and that every single one of the delicious riffs is as crisp as a fresh potato chip! The same goes for the drums of course, which I find have taken a step back in terms of speed but therefore two steps forward in technicality.

There is really nothing I can say about the vocals that I haven’t said last time: they are as strong and well-enunciated as before, but I think I’m having a slight preference for the singer’s higher pitched screams that I feel have improved just the tiniest smidgen. Lyrically-speaking this EP might have the most sing-along friendly choruses I have heard in melodic death metal in a while. Which might not be for everyone but I absolutely dig it! One thing that I’m at the same time confused about but also fully welcome is a guest vocal spot of local growl-guru Boerdi on the opener: his vocals are so similar to the singer’s that I didn’t even notice he was on there until I read the liner notes before writing this. But then again: it’s a Boerdi feature so you’d be a fool to complain about it!

Last but not least, I must say that I’m definitely a full-length album guy…in general. But these twenty-six minutes are exactly the right length to satisfy me (that’s what she said!) and leave me craving for more. While the pandemic must have aided in the swift release of these tunes, I would absolutely welcome it if more (local) bands released EPs more regularly rather, than holding onto material until they have forty or fifty minutes of material. Just my two cents.

But I digress: Parakosm is a top notch addition to the catalog of a band without which I can’t imagine the Luxembourgish metal scene anymore. Here’s to many more, lads! If you want to keep up with Feradur head over to their Facebook page and be sure to check the video below for what might be my favorite song! Also, be sure to listen to the entire EP this Friday, April 30th!

Scarred – Scarred

I have this thing where, whenever I write a review about a band that I’ve covered in the past, I go back and read what I wrote back then, in order to avoid repetition and also to get a general idea of where my head was at back then. In today’s case, my main complaint in the previous review was that the wait between its predecessor and the, then, new record was too long: four entire years! It’s almost as if Scarred took that as a challenge, because the wait between Gaia/Medea and their brand-new self-titled album has been a whopping eight years. Granted, they were quite eventful years that led to a few line-up changes, which had a fairly massive impact on the final product…but that doesn’t make it less painful. Anyway, enough foreplay, let’s go!

First off, the quintet has not changed its genre drastically and stays true to its, technical, death metal roots. However, there is a noticeable trend towards the more atmospheric and melodic end of the spectrum. The songwriting also feels, even, more coherent than ever before, where a thick coat of the old mantra “less is more” has definitely been applied.

Especially the guitar parts seem less like a demonstration of technical prowess, but more like meticulously constructed compositions, where every note is exactly where it needs to be. Don’t get me wrong though: there is plenty of mind-boggling heavy riffage to be found during these fifty-six minutes, but it’s used sparingly in just the right instances.

The drums, on the other hand, are at their usual level of insanity and despite taking a backseat every now and then to serve the song, they never miss an opportunity to sneak in little intricacies that spice up the listening experience immensely.

If I had to summarize the general instrumental direction of these new songs, I’d say that they have a more majestic or rather symphonic feel to them. I’d go as far as to say that half of these songs could be played along by a massive orchestra and it wouldn’t feel out of place.

The elephant in the room is, obviously, the new vocalist who has been lending his vocal chords to Kitshickers for a while now. And if you know his work there, you know that his range is pretty incredible, meaning that he’s able to pull off the cleanest cleans, transcend into mean growls and twirl into bone-shattering screeches, seemingly without any effort. This vocal panoply also further opens up the band’s sound and adds more musical depth to these thirteen songs…actually, only to eight of them, because five are purely instrumental. But if someone had told me in 2004 when the debut EP was released that I’d hear clean vocals in a Scarred song, I’d have laughed my ass off. Needless to say that it works perfectly, of course!

Lyrically, I’d say that the self-titled album is a fairly introspective work, dealing with ego (or lack thereof) and restlessness of the mind amongst other things.

All in all, it’s clear to me that Scarred, the band and the album, has yet again upped the ante in the local metal scene and they have managed to deliver a record that is nothing shy of a masterpiece. Do yourself a favor and listen to it as soon as you can when it’s released this Friday, January 22nd, and enjoy the ride! For more information you can visit the band’s Facebook page and be sure to check out their first single below!