Win big with El Gore, again in 2014

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Good morning!

Yesterday marked our last review of the year, and we would like to thank you so much for the continuous interest and support in 2014! Despite heavy staff changes, we managed to provide you with fresh reviews every single week, except the month-off in August. We are highly motivated to keep doing so in the new year as well!

What’s next, you ask? Well, today marks the start of a big competition that is going down on our Facebook page, where you can win a copy of every Luxembourgish release that came out this year, and that we wrote about, so be sure to head there right now! It’s going to go on for exactly seven days!

Next week we will publish our yearly top 5 lists and then we’ll go on a holiday break until most likely January 6th 2015, possibly a week later.

So, again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Good luck in the contest and have an enjoyable holiday season, if that’s what you’re into, or simply party hard during the remaining days of the year!

Read you soon!

Slipknot – .5: The Gray Chapter

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If you’ve followed my reviews for a while, you hopefully didn’t think that I would not write about today’s record. I know I did take my sweet time before getting to it, but I didn’t want to rush it in any way and soak up the new Slipknot album as much as I could before putting down the first word of what follows. Released on October 17th, a bit more than six years after its predecessor, .5: The Gray Chapter puts the Nine back in the picture after a long period of mourning and finding themselves again, due to the passing of their bassist Paul Gray.

Right off the bat, I have to say that the new material is a perfect mixture of the aggressiveness that was predominant on IOWA and the creativity as well as the variation that marked Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. One factor that may or may not have played a role in this well-executed fusion, was the departure of Joey Jordison, drummer and one of the main songwriters, and the arrival of fresh blood in the form of, even though unconfirmed by the band, Jay Weinberg. As I said, it is not really known if “the new guy” has contributed much to the songwriting but his different style of drumming is definitely noticeable during these sixty-three minutes. Despite being a huge Jordison fanboy myself, I welcome the change because the groove is strong with this one and the blast-beats don’t have to hide either.

In the stringed department, the bass spot is, supposedly, filled by Alessandro Venturella who I have to admit, I can’t really distinguish clearly in the mix but I guess that’s a good sign, because why change a winning team? The guitars are stronger and more menacing than ever, while at the same time bringing some of the biggest melodies the Iowans have ever come up with. Truly a genius mix, filled with experimental elements in the form of more prominent synthesizers and turntable effects, without ever losing the drive and the force.

In the two months that 5:TGC has been out, I’ve heard and read many complaints about Corey Taylor’s vocals, especially the clean ones, being too much like on the new Stone Sour stuff and to a certain extent I have to agree. Because it’s a fact. Simple as that. What I don’t agree with, however, is that that’s a negative aspect, since I don’t see the point in him changing his style for one band, if he has found a range that he’s comfortable with. You see, there’s always people who can’t let go of the past and wish that everything could forever remain the same, but at the end of the day change and evolution, especially in music, is a good thing and you, the listener, should welcome it with open arms. If it ends up not being your cup of tea, move on, or simply listen to the old material.

Moving on to the lyrics which I feared at first would be very Paul Gray-centered, with the name of the album and all, thus resulting in repetition. In hindsight, I feel almost silly for doubting the Knot, since only three out of the fourteen, sixteen including the bonus tracks, songs are clearly about him. The remaining ones are what fans are used to: metaphorical lyrics with tons of words that you’ve never heard before and catchy as hell choruses.

To sum things up, this is a phenomenal album, at least in my completely biased opinion, and easily the nontet’s most diverse effort to date. However, Vol. 3 will remain my number one, because it’s how it all started for me. If you live behind the moon and haven’t checked out .5: The Gray Chapter yet, do yourself a favor by doing so immediately and head over the band’s Facebook page for more info. For our Luxembourgish readers: mark February 2nd on your calendar, because that’s when Slipknot will hit our little country at the Rockhal! This is my last review for this year, so stay (sic) and check out our top five posts next week!

Calypso’s Call – Delirious

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Ever since I started checking out local metal bands, back in the early 2000s, I noticed that Luxembourg was severely lacking quality in one department: male clean vocals. While we do have some phenomenal screams, growlers and shouters as well as talented female vocalists, this hasn’t much changed in the past decade. You can imagine my surprise when I was introduced to Calypso’s Call and discovered that they feature just what I was longing for! However, my happiness was short, since I learned that their debut Delirious is at the same time their farewell album. Doesn’t matter, let’s see what they delivered!

The quintet’s sound is a mixture of traditional elements, in the vain of melodic death metal, and modern sounds, closest to metalcore, which should appeal to a broad spectrum of listeners. The guitars are well played, lay forth enough diversity to keep you interested and even have the one or the other surprise waiting to be heard. The drumming is to the point and mostly mid-tempo, generally keeping in the background during the songs, but exploding in terms of technicality during choruses.

While the main focus of the band’s songwriting is definitely on melody, the heavier parts don’t lack in headbang-potential either, thus creating an overall enjoyable experience. On the other hand, I did have one gripe during the forty-seven minutes: most songs could have been one or even two minutes shorter, because they tend to repeat themselves a bit. A fact that is forgivable though, since there are several elements like keyboards that spice up the whole thing.

Let’s get down to what dragged me in to begin with: the vocals! The singer uses many different techniques, such as growls, screams and screeches, which are overall well-executed, but the fact that there is a fair amount of clean-sung parts, is what makes these eleven tracks stand out from the majority of the local bands. Furthermore, there is another premiere on here, unless I’m forgetting something: female guest vocals, provided by Deborah Marinkovic, give the title track that extra special flavor!

To end this, I’ll just say that even though my pleasure with Calypso’s Call was a short one, I hope that all of these guys find their way into new bands at some point and continue to exploit their talent. Be sure to check out Delirious once it’s available, whet your appetite with the self-shot video below and last but not least follow the band on Facebook in order to keep up with the release date of the album!

Communicaution – Unfixed

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Fact: there are some extraordinarily talented musicians and songwriters that have countless song ideas and the necessary motivation to use that gift, unfortunately for every single one of those individuals, there are at least ten that churn out the same boring and uninspired crap year after year. Luckily for all of us, Eric Rosenfeld, lead singer and guitarist of Versus You, is part of the former category which is why he decided to start the solo project Communicaution in 2012. Initially, it was just him and his acoustic guitar but for his second full-length Unfixed, he has recorded some other instruments himself as well as gotten the instrumental help of Charel Stoltz.

According to the opening lyrics of the record, Eric comes up with about a hundred songs a year, which I don’t even doubt, but for this one he picked twelve special ones that make a great ensemble. The evolution from Revenge! Revenge! Revenge! is quite obvious from the get-go: all the songs, except three, feature full instrumentation, including drums, bass and electric guitar as well as the occasional keyboards. However, the core of each song is still made up of the acoustic guitar and the vocals, which is something I appreciate, because it’s still a different enough sound when compared to his other project.

Also worth a mention is the fact that the drums are kept very basic, in order to not distract in any way from the rest but rather add an additional layer to the sound spectrum. As a matter of fact, most of the songwriting is rather simple, usually following a clear verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus structure, but despite (or possibly because of?) that, each and every single second of these thirty minutes goes down like butter and clogs up your coronary arteries just as much…except that in this case it’s good for you!

Let’s cut to the chase: the heart of Communicaution are the, in my opinion, one-of-a-kind vocals as well as the very unique lyrics of Eric. I didn’t really talk about his voice in my previous review, but I’ll do so this time around: if you’ve ever heard him sing, I guarantee you that you will be able to tell his voice apart from at least a thousand other singers. The ever-present raspiness adds so much charisma to his performance that it’s hard not to listen to him. Additionally, there is a short but sweet guest spot by Martine Becker on Come Clean, which adds an extra little something to the melancholic song…more of that please!

What can I say? Is Unfixed a good record? Totally! Does it have enough replay value to remain in your CD player for more than ten playthroughs? You betcha! Is it for everyone? I wouldn’t say so, no. If you’re looking to wear your dancing shoes, this probably isn’t for you…but if you like to sink into the happy sad world that is Communicaution‘s sound, you will find everything and more than you need. Be sure to check out one of my favorite songs below and visit the Facebook page if you want to be kept up to date. Last but not least, move your bum to Kulturfabrik on December 12th if you like what you hear, where the official release party will be held!

Stolas – Allomaternal

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I already teased today’s review in the one I wrote about their labelmates’ latest release, and now it’s finally time to dive into Stolas‘ new full length Allomaternal! The way I’m going to kick off the next few paragraphs is by reiterating the same question as last time: what kind of drug was invented this year, that was apparently distributed among most post-hardcore bands? Because this is yet another truly phenomenal effort in the genre!

One thing right off the bat: the stuff this quartet writes is not for everyone…by far not. It’s truly complex and very chaotic music, so nothing for an easy-listening session on your couch in your slippers with a glass of red wine…actually…that might be the perfect setting for it. But I digress. Saying that the Las Vegians are a talented bunch of musicians would be the under-statement of the year because every single instrument is mastered at a, almost, virtuoso level. The songwriting is equally brilliant, inventive and complex, yet never two inches away from an explosion of audible chaos.

To me, every second of these fifty-one minutes is like walking on a tightrope while being drunk: you never know what’s going to happen and while it lasts, it’s a blast. Beware, however, of falling off because it will hurt…to apply that analogy to Stolas‘ sound: the album is full of dreamy passages filled with beautiful melodies and highly technical drumming, yet the next neckbreaking heavy part is just around the corner and it might explode in your face at any given moment. I absolutely love it. When it comes to skill, the guitars don’t have to hide behind the percussive elements at all, because there are some riffs on here that will, literally, blow your mind.

The vocal diversity on the ten songs is massive, mostly due to the fact that there are three different people covering that duty with one of them being, déjà-vu, the drummer. The best part about this triforce of awesomeness is that, as far as I can tell, at least two of the vocalists both do cleans and screams, which just adds another layer of variety…as if it was necessary in the first place. Another fact that seems to be a recurring theme with swancore bands is that the lyrics don’t follow the usual “oh no she broke my heart, I’m so super sad and angry” formula but actually tell truly interesting stories with a lot of depth to them.

To sum things up: while Allomaternal was a bit more difficult for me to get my head around at first, it revealed itself to me as a fabulous record that has tons of replay value and deserves a high place on every must-have post-hardcore list of 2014! Be sure to convince yourself of the quality of it below and if you like what you hear, head over their Facebook page! Long live the almighty swan!

Six Time Champion – Expecting Honesty

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In the past I’ve mentioned that writing reviews has its perks, like getting releases early and being introduced to bands that you might never discover on your own, but it has also has a few downsides, one of which is the possible oversaturation of one specific genre. Sadly today’s review is one of these cases for me…and it breaks my heart in a way, since Six Time Champion have everything that is needed to create amazing pop punk, as they prove with their EP Expecting Honesty!

As mentioned above, the Brighton-based quintet delivers five energy-laden tracks that are spot-on when it comes to pop punk. Everything is here: driving drums that are the perfect backdrop for the melodic guitar parts as well as the happy-angsty, for lack of a better word, atmosphere that is ever-present in their sound. There is no doubt that these blokes are talented musicians with a well-developed sense of good songwriting but, for me personally, it’s just not enough…more on that in a bit.

Throughout the twenty-minutes the vocalist presents a wide range of styles, including clean vocals and screams, and complements the instruments perfectly. The same goes for the occasional gang shouts, which fit the parts they’re used in like a glove. Lyrically, it’s about the life on the road, broken hearts and various other typical topics, with quite a few catchy lines. No complaints there.

Now, you might ask yourself why Expecting Honesty doesn’t quite hit home for me and, even though it pisses me off to say this, the answer is easy: I’ve heard it all before. This does not mean that STC are a run-off-the-mill band, quite the contrary actually, but there were no major “a-ha!” moments for me and I’ve been presented with many other strong pop punk bands, from the UK mainly, this year. However, I strongly urge everyone reading this to check them out, since chances are that you will dig them a lot. I seriously wish I could say the same for me, as it is clear that the guys are really passionate about their music and they truly deserve every bit of support they can get! Head over to their Facebook page for more info, listen to the song below and keep your eyes peeled on December 1st, which is the official release date of the EP. Long story short and in accordance with the name of the EP: truly good stuff, but I’ve had one too many. Cheers to that!

Cristobal And The Sea – Peach Bells

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In my book, there is nothing more enriching to music than pure, unadulterated fun and soul. The London-based boys and girl of Cristobal And The Sea have both of these qualities down to a science, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been as fervently enamored with a recent release as I am with their 5-track EP Peach Bells, which was digitally released on November 3rd.

It’s impossible to describe this band without mentioning bossa nova and tropicália. As a huge lover of Brazilian rhythms, those elements were what hooked me instantly — there is a distinctly southern Mediterranean warmth to their music. Appropriately, the lyrics to Violet Tear are actually a Portuguese poem by the 17th century Brazilian poet Gregório de Matos and the chorus to My Love (Ay Ay Ay) is in Spanish.

The voices of João and Leïla flow together in beautiful harmony and blend into the dazzling psychedelic whirlwind that is their instrumentals smoothly, adding another layer of richness to the colourful soundscape. I can’t help but draw parallels to the sounds of Animal Collective (whose album Sung Tongs was produced by the same guy who recorded Peach Bells, Rusty Santos) when it comes to CATS‘ creativity and experimental approach, especially in the final track Zorro, which is just a complete, slowly unraveling trip of a tune.

There is not much left to be said, as Cristobal And The Sea is a band well worth discovering on your own. Their ardent tropicália pop is the sonic embodiment of a safari through a tropical forest, laced with surrealistic imagery in fantastic colours and shapes. Peach Bells is a blast; don’t miss it.

While you wait for the vinyl 12″ to be released on December 8th, you can pay the quartet a visit on Facebook, listen to Peach Bells on Spotify or Soundcloud and watch the trippy video for My Love (Ay Ay Ay) below.


Eternal Storm – From The Ashes

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I don’t know about you, but I am prone to associating certain genres with certain countries, in that way I’m quite convinced that the best metalcore comes from the States, the best black metal from Scandinavian countries and so forth. It’s certainly a very prejudiced opinion and, luckily, I’ve been proven wrong many times, but in the grand scheme of things, I still stick to it. Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Eternal Storm, a Spanish band that plays melodic death metal, as tight as I thought was only possible in the upper north of Europe. Their debut EP From The Ashes is solid proof of that!

Despite being released in 2013, thus not being one hundred percent fresh, I couldn’t pass up on writing a few lines about these energy-laden eight tracks, since the quartet just gets all the elements right. Fast-paced drumming goes hand in hand with intricate riffing that manages to switch between being melodic and heavy effortlessly. The same goes for the almighty groove, because once it sets in there is simply no stopping the Spaniards as they demolish everything that is in their way!

Throughout the thirty-two minutes, the singer delivers a strong performance and switches between growls, screams and screeches in the appropriate moments, but in terms of the mixing of the sound I would say that his voice could have been featured more prominently. Especially since the production of the instruments is fairly well-done, always managing to maintain a very natural feel and still sounding reasonably modern.

All in all, I’d say that you get your money’s worth with From The Ashes…but that would be a lie, since you can download the entire thing for free on Bandcamp! So don’t be shy, click below, give Eternal Storm a listen and head to their Facebook page if you want to keep up with them!

Trash Monday CXL

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That’s it, folks!

We’ve decided to stop the whole Trash Monday thing as of today. We hope you enjoyed watching these hilarious music videos as much as we enjoyed finding them.

We might bring back a similar concept at some point in the future, but for now we are focussing on what we, arguably, do best: reviews!

Annominus – End Of Atonement

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Do you remember the days when Disturbed was original and actually good? I know that it’s been more than a decade ago but those were the great times of nu metal, shortly before its ultimate demise…recently, however, there has been a resurgence of new bands that have taken that presumed dead genre and revitalized it. One of these is the, sadly rather unknown, band Annominus who are about to release their debut album End Of Atonement, which is due on November 17th. Let me give you my impressions of it!

The quintet makes no mystery out of the fact that they are heavily inspired by early 2000ish nu metal and that is the right approach in my opinion, because why try to re-invent the wheel when there’s a forgotten one somewhere that still works perfectly fine? On here you can find everything that you loved about the music back then, including catchy melodic passages, heavy riffs and fast-paced groovy drumming, all fused into one delicious musical potpourri.

During the ten tracks, the Danes also incorporate some slower-paced elements that are akin to, albeit heavy, ballads and present a welcome change to the more common hard-hitting song structures. The songwriting varies between fairly simple and in some places highly technical, yet is super effective at all times. The guitar tone on the other hand is crunchy and rich, thus fitting the genre perfectly, in combination with the not too strongly triggered drums they create an overall highly enjoyable listening experience.

All throughout the forty minute ride that is End Of Atonement, the lead singer displays a great range of vocal diversity, including amazingly melodic cleans, aggressive screams that are occasionally pseudo-rapped and quite powerful growls, even though I have to admit that I’m not exactly sure if those aren’t by the drummer who does backup vocals. Either way, the vocal department is facetious enough to avoid boredom at any point in time.

All in all, I must say that I’ve been positively surprised by Annominus and therefore they have managed to add themselves to my “must-observe-in-the-future” list with their remarkable debut album. You should absolutely give the track below a spin, to get a fairly accurate impression of their sound, and if you like what you’re hearing head on over to their Facebook page to keep up with them until the release of the album!