Author Archives: Yannick

Angel At My Table – In A Heartbeat

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Right off the bat: today I’ll delve into a very different region of my musical spectrum, however it’s one that has always had its own place for me. I’m talking about the pop punk genre; especially the one with female singers. Enough suspense: today I’ll talk about Angel At My Table‘s new EP In A Heartbeat.

This is the second EP by the five youngsters hailing from Luxembourg and the predecessor City Romance already entertained me quite well. Even though it didn’t reinvent the wheel it had a nice vibe to it and quite catchy songs. The same can be said for this latest effort since it’s nothing new in terms of music but you can clearly see an impressive evolution: everything sounds more mature and better arranged. And there’s nothing wrong with that because why try to fix something that isn’t broken to begin with?

The first thing that you notice when you pop in the disc is that they’re using crowd vocals more prominently which is always a plus in my book since it allows easy sing-alongs at shows. The second thing you’ll notice, if you’re familiar with bands from the genre, is that they’ve drawn more inspiration from bands like Paramore and Tonight Alive than before. Especially the riffs reminded me a lot of the former band’s album Riot, which is totally fine by me since it’s one of the better records of the genre. You can rest assured though that, as far as I can tell, no riff is stolen…if that’s what you’re thinking now.

The drums are what they should be: not too complicated but at no point boring. This is mostly due to a ton of small drumfills that round the whole thing off nicely. Another nice evolution in comparison to the debut where they were rather straight forward.

Vocally I’m not noticing a huge difference but then again they already were at a high level to begin with. The biggest addition is a guest appearance by Mike Rodrigues of Falling Promises on one song which, against all odds, fits in quite nicely. My personal favorite among the six songs, on a lyrical and performance level, is definitely the “ballad” Silverlight.

To sum it up I can only say that you should keep an eye out for Angel At My Table since they’re conquering the (Luxembourgish) music scene in a heartbeat (see what I did there?) and for a good reason. Check out the band’s Facebook page to keep up with their tour dates and possibilities to buy the EP. Also be sure to check out their brand new video Eclipse below!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clTfWTX5OgQ]

The Empire Shall Fall – Volume 1: Solar Plexus

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Killswitch Engage: a name that pretty much every metalhead has at least heard before. Their first album Alive Or Just Breathing featured Jesse Leach as a singer and is to this day still a milestone in metalcore, at least in my opinion. After its success however, he decided to leave the band and did a couple of side-projects, one of them was The Empire Shall Fall. Their 2009 release Awaken went completely unnoticed by me and I was quite delighted when I stumbled over them in 2011 when I heard that they’d release a new album called Volume 1: Solar Plexus.

The record, which as the name might suggest is the first part of a trilogy, was released in December solely in a digital format in order to save unnecessary expenses and took me by complete surprise since I had no real clue what I’d get for my money. But since I absolutely loved Leach’s other project Times Of Grace I decided to give it a shot. To put it mildly: I was not disappointed, at all. I should add that the record was released on vinyl a bit later, for those of you that are into that.

The seven song album starts off quite fast and then almost immediately settles into a mid-paced groovy tempo without losing a bit of its heaviness. The rest of the songs always keeps a similar approach which never puts you out of the atmosphere of the whole thing. More non-traditional instruments, at least to the genre, are thrown in as well on the journey. Things like pianos and saxophones just give it a slight jazz feeling which simply fits perfectly.

Every single instrument has a rich sound and hits home non-stop; especially the guitars sound like your finest djent band at some points and make you wish there was more than twenty-five minutes of music. On top of that are the magnificent vocals which alternate between melodic singing and raw screaming.

That is all I’m going to write since I believe you should check it out for yourself, especially since it’s a rather short pleasure. I for one am looking forward to the sequels to Volume 1; even though their release is sat in the stars, since Jesse rejoined Killswitch Engage and might not have time in the near future. I’m sure that the wait will be worth it though. Be sure to check out their Facebook page and listen to the song below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KZtDwWvGlQ]

Balegard – Tbst

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This week I’m going to review a very fresh demo by a still rather unknown band from Finland. On September 4th Balegard released their second demo called Tbst completely for free via social networks and I decided to check them out. Let me begin by giving you a general idea about the genre: it’s black metal. They themselves call it “Tavastian Black Metal”, since lyrically it deals with the history of Finland…fair enough. I should say at this point that I’m not a huge fan of overly specific names for different sub-genres, but since it has no influence on the music itself I don’t really mind. Now, let’s begin, shall we?

Since I knew about the band prior to this release, I was pleasantly surprised by the improved sound quality in comparison to their first split-demo Routakuu. Both demos are, as far as I know, entirely self-produced and self-mixed with little to no budget so it’s quite nice to see that the band has refined their skills in that department over time…something that makes this release quite enjoyable for a “clean sound” fetishist like myself.

The riffs are well-recorded and quite catchy in most parts, something that is quite important to me in black metal since usually they are repeated quite often throughout a song. In the final part of the last song, Kalmanvesi, there’s actually a pretty cool solo that you should definitely keep your ears open for.

The drums are overall well done except one minor gripe: the bass drum is almost inaudible on two out of the three songs. A fact that one can excuse since it’s a demo and probably recorded with a single mic or two at best…but it’s something I would love to see fixed on future releases. I also noticed the drum being off-rhythm in some longer passages, something I don’t mind much since the beats themselves are interesting enough for me to ignore such minor mistakes.

Last but not least, the vocal department. This duty is shared between the two guitarists; with one doing the regular screams and the other one doing the more high-pitched ones. Both variants are sung with a sense of desperation and passion, so perfectly fitting to the theme. Speaking of which: the lyrics are entirely in Finish and mainly about the life and history in Tavastia, so heads up to those that are into that part of world history.

That pretty much sums it up on my behalf. I say you should give this demo a chance if you are even vaguely into black metal or if you want to discover a new genre through a young band with quite a lot of potential…plus it’s for free. Be sure to check out Balegard‘s Facebook page where you can find a download link to their demo and more information about the band itself. Below you can find my favorite song Hardaler. Read you next time!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3Dnax07mp4]

Stone Sour – Stone Sour

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Today I’m going to review another CD that will most likely stay in my top 3 of all time forever. Ironically, it features two members from this album…ladies and gentlemen, I give you Stone Sour and their self-titled debut album.

Stone Sour have their roots in 1992, way before Slipknot, but only saw mainstream success in 2002 when they signed to Roadrunner Records. Back then they were considered a mere side-project of Slipknot singer, Corey Taylor, and Slipknot guitarist, Jim Root, but especially in recent times they have evolved into an equally respected band.

But back on topic: this album may sound like a toned down version of any given Slipknot record at first, but you’ll quickly notice that it’s a completely different approach to music. Groovier riffs, more rhythmic drumming and super catchy choruses keep coming at you non-stop.

The guitar parts are filled with little licks that are quite subtle at first but will be stuck in your eardrums after the second listening session at the latest. Even though they are vastly groovier than the usual, they remain heavy where necessary; in perfect harmony. The bass also doesn’t come too short either and delivers some really catchy lines all throughout the fifty-one minutes.

In the drum department you will be looking in vain for any blasting or any super fast double bass action. But trust me when I say that you’ll be tapping along with your fingers in no-time. Plus there are so many little nuances that even after listening to the record for years now, I still find a note or two I never noticed before.

The vocals…where do I begin? Well, to be fair, I’m a huge fan of Corey’s voice and lyrics, so I’ll try to keep as objective as possible. Nah…fuck that. To me, he delivers his best performance on this album for several reasons: first of all, this was during the down time between IOWA and Vol. 3 (by Slipknot) and his voice was the ideal mix between his early aggressiveness and his later cleanliness. Secondly, he sings his first ballad which was a big “whoa” moment at the time. On top of that it features his probably best lyrical work so far, but you should be your own judge there. I for one identify with a lot of the lines and this record has helped through some self-finding periods on many occasions.

This is definitely their strongest album for me even though the other two had a lot of highlights as well. Maybe their new release in October will change that, but to be quite frank: I doubt it since this album and I have such a long history. If you can, I strongly recommend getting the limited edition since it adds five really good songs to the already thirteen song strong work.

Check their Facebook page if you want to keep up to date and be sure to listen to the song below; even though it’s not the ballad I mentioned earlier, which is called Bother by the way, it might just give you a similar effect.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NHz3Koj7o0]

Abstract Rapture – Earthcrush

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It’s time for another well-known Luxembourgish band: Abstract Rapture. These guys have been around for close to ten years and in 2011 they released the long-awaited follow-up to their 2008 album Democadencia. The rather fitting title they chose: Earthcrush. Please note that because of scheduling problems the release party for the album was only in early 2012, so to most people it’s still rather fresh.

The reason why the title is fitting can be noticed right after the intro: everything is even bigger, faster and most of all more aggressive than before. Instead of starting a bit on the groovy side like the opener of the predecessor, this first song just blows your face off right off the bat. This goes on for quite some time until the forth song where the clean vocals start appearing, but just in small doses unlike on the previous record.

In the guitar department you can definitely notice a more mature style of writing with more complex structures and cleaner execution. The same goes for the sound which, at least in my ears, sounds a bit stronger and more tight. The melodic department doesn’t come too short either, even though it seems to have been toned down a bit. This sadly contributes to the fact that the album has less easily recognizable riffs.

The drums are almost not worth talking about since they’re at their usual very high standard throughout the 11 songs…people who know who’s drumming know the reason for that. However, similar to the guitars the speed has gone up another level and you’re treated to tinnitus-inducing beats; but in the good way.

As I mentioned a bit earlier, the vocals are a lot more aggressive and feature less melodic singing than what returning listeners are used to. This is however not a bad thing since the vocalist has a very powerful and charismatic voice that will stay imprinted in your ears for a while after listening to these 40 minutes of music.

To wrap things up I can only say that, while I’m sure newcomers to the band will surely enjoy this record since it’s filled with cool songs, I think it’s too straight forward. The previous album was criticized for having a few too many melodious parts; Abstract took that critique to heart and went balls to the walls with this attempt…however I prefer their debut Dead End Entry since it’s the perfect mix of both elements in my ears. I’m looking forward to their next release and I recommend you check this one out in the meantime.

You can follow the band on their Facebook page and check out the live video below, which Bördi kindly allowed me to use.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrWetQjJyVU]

The Cabin In The Woods

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I have to warn you: today’s review is going to be slightly different than the ones you’re used to. First of all, it’s not written by our resident movie junkie but by the “I like metalcore” guy, which means that it’s going to be a rather recent flick. Secondly, it will be rather short in order to avoid spoiling anything about the movie. And last but not least it’s most likely going to be a one time thing, so enjoy this unique opportunity…haha.

The movie I decided to review is Joss Whedon’s The Cabin In The Woods, which was released in cinemas, where I saw it, in April 2012. The release date itself is worth talking about since the film was shot in 2009 but didn’t get any movie theater exposure until 3 years later. This was due to the fact that the studio wanted to convert it into 3D, which, thankfully, never happened. One thing I want to clarify before I start: since the movie is not going to be released on home media until late September I will only talk about plot points that are revealed either in the trailer or in the first five minutes of the movie, so don’t worry about spoilers.

The main cast is comprised of mostly newcomers to the big screen except Chris Hemsworth, who should be known to most people as Thor by now. Interestingly enough this actually was his debut but due to the delayed release he was first seen in Thor. The group of five teenagers decides to go into a cabin located near a lake in order to party and have a good time. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? If now I tell you that only one typical new-age horror cliché is fulfilled, you might not believe it, but it’s true; except the obligatory stoner in the clique, the other four are well-educated people.

One could assume that this fact might turn this movie into a boring ninety-five minute fiasco but everyone who is familiar with Whedon’s TV shows, like Buffy – The Vampire Slayer or Angel, knows that usually nothing is what it seems. The same is the case in this motion picture, since just before the group is arriving at the cabin the viewer can see a hawk fly into some kind of force field…ominous foreshadowing. A bit further into the movie the group is, of course, attacked by something which I will not disclose and the movie goes its way but, again without wanting to reveal anything, with a twist.

The Cabin In The Woods was praised as one of the best horror movies in the past decade by many critics and I can wholeheartedly agree. But then again I’m no horror buff…I do however know a good movie when I see one and this definitely falls into that category. And one more thing I can safely say is that if you liked the two series mentioned above, you will absolutely adore this movie. I strongly recommend that you check it out once it’s out on DVD and BluRay.

All screenshots were taken from the official trailer.

Desdemonia – Existence

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There is one Luxembourgish band that probably everyone from the metal scene of the country has heard about and has most likely also seen live at some point. I’m of course talking about the death metal legends Desdemonia. This quartet has probably been the pioneer of heavy music in our little country and has celebrated its fifteen year anniversary at the beginning of 2012. In late 2010 the band released their long-awaited album Existence which stays true to their in-your-face sound.

The first song starts off with a rather melodic part which quickly turns into a neck-breaking riff fest coupled with the ever-so powerful vocals and annihilating drums. And let me tell you right off the bat: this is something that will be the case for the remainder of this forty-eight minute record. But let’s go a bit further into detail, shall we?

The guitar parts have a real evil feel to them and, especially at a show, you just can’t resist banging your head like a madman. Yet they have melodic interludes to build up atmosphere and show that the guitarists can do more than just play simple riffs. The bass guitar is also nicely audible throughout the whole ten songs which, as you know by now, is always a plus for me. One thing that I found interesting in the guitar department is that the main riff from the first song comes back in one of the later songs in a slightly different variant.

The drums range from barrages of double bass attacks and blast beats to groovy parts where the already strained neck gets its last dose. Production wise they’re just how I like them: clean and powerful but with a nice natural sound to them.

However, the most notable thing in my opinion are the vocals: the two Dosser brothers, who also take care of bass and guitar duty, alternate between low growls and screams. It’s this little “gimmick” that simply gives this album such a nice dynamic. I’d say that the perfect song to showcase this is the second track called Overload.

In conclusion I can only strongly recommend that you give this record a chance if you are even remotely into death metal. In the worst case scenario you’ve supported a starving (wink wink) Luxembourgish act and in the ideal case scenario this record will not leave your playlist for quite some time. I, for one, was happy to re-listen to this record after almost 2 years and re-discover why I liked it so much back then.

Check out the band’s Facebook page and visit their official website if you want to buy the record. A little appetizer can be found below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YSJEVDCVFk]

Trash Monday XXX

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The “interesting” music is one thing, but what makes this so compelling is the music video…ladies and gentlemen I present to you: Crabcore.

PS: Special mention for the scene at 1:17.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDzt6yI3Dw8]

Slipknot – Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)

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In one of my previous reviews I said that I’d probably do another one like it, meaning that I’ll talk about the album and mix it with a bit of personal history. Since this is my tenth contribution I figured this would be a good time to do so. Which is why I’ve decided to review a record that awakened my musical hunger, which to this day luckily hasn’t been stilled, and made me really relate to it as well.

Even though I started listening a lot to bands like Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit and Bloodhoung Gang around the age of thirteen, I was never really into metal since I just hadn’t found the right thing. Then at sixteen a classmate, who happens to write for El Gore as well, introduced me to bands like Megadeth, Exodus and the likes…the stepping stone for a large musical evolution had been laid. In 2004 however an online friend sent me a new song, Don’t Get Close, by Slipknot and I couldn’t stop listening to it (fyi: the song ended up becoming a b-side). Even though I had known the band before and actually enjoyed a song or two by them, I wasn’t really into them since my taste was still elsewhere. But now, for the first time in my life I was anxiously awaiting the release of an album: Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). It wasn’t until May 25th of that same year that I finally held it in my hands and listened to it non-stop. I’m not kidding when I say that by the way…I literally listened to the album at least five times a day over a period of almost nine months in a row.

Enough about me; let’s get down to business…well kind of. The 3rd album, ignoring Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat., by the nine masked Iowans was produced by Rick Rubin and recorded in his notorious Mansion in L.A.. I’m not sure whether it is due to the change of producer, from Ross Robinson to Rubin, or due to the various side projects the band had during their hiatus between Iowa and this album but the difference of the sound can already be noticed after the first note of the intro. Even though I thoroughly enjoy the two predecessor albums, Iowa and Slipknot, this one just finds the perfect mix between heaviness and melodic parts. The production has gone through a similar change and, at least to me, this is their best sounding album.

The fourteen songs pretty much cover every aspect of Slipknot‘s sound, that fans have grown to love, and introduce new touches such as the marching percussion on The Blister Exists and The Nameless. Then there’s two ballads that were a big surprise when the album first came out; especially to people who didn’t know about the singer’s other band Stone Sour who released a ballad as a single the previous year. The thing that strikes me the most is that every single song has at least one highlight that will make you remember it.

The vocals are, as is tradition with Corey Taylor, flawless and in some parts quite creepy but in a way that you just get sucked into the song’s atmosphere even quicker. The prime example for this is the song Vermilion, which is about a stalker that follows a girl around…or at least thinks he does. Just listen to it and you’ll see what I mean. The choruses on the album are, I’d say, among the best ones that Slipknot have ever written and you’ll be chanting them along faster than you can say the album’s title three times in a row. The lyrics are filled with metaphors and less common words which I tried to figure out for ages.

All in all, this is definitely my favorite Slipknot album for a couple of reasons: first of all because it’s the album that got all of it started for me. Secondly because it’s just so diverse and well-written, ranging from neck-breaking headbang parts to goose bump inducing passages. And last but not least because it put the band, who had been written off prior to this release, back on the map with a bang. It’s pretty safe to say that this record will remain in my top 3 albums of all time until the day I die. Go ahead and check out the song below, which actually won them an Emmy, and their Facebook page.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_09wFxoaeQ]