Dear readers of my blog!
One of Germany's oldest, most famous and most successful bands is back to celebrate its 30th anniversary since the debut EP "Helloween" and the first full length effort "Walls of Jericho" in 1985. Five years after the controversial but highly entertaining and experimental anniversary release "Unarmed" and two years after the diversified and enjoyable studio album "Straight Out of Hell", the quintet from Hamburg invites us to celebrate modern European Power Metal with the new output "My God-Given Right". Sadly, the promising release falls flat after a strong start and offers more of the same old sound with tiring lyrics. For more information, plese read my complete review and give the record a chance on your own.
Have a great week!
On "My God-Given Right", Helloween delivers more of the same. The band offers standard European power metal without any surprises. The most convincing songs are the first three which happen to be among the most joyful tunes the band has written in recent years. "Heroes" starts with sound effects and distorted guitars before one of the fastest contemporary songs of the band kicks off. Orchestral sounds and a powerful bass guitar slow things down before the catchy chorus explodes. This is compact European power metal by numbers but it's performed with enough passion to convince. The first single "Battle's Won" has a similar approach but the chorus is even catchier, the melodies sweeter and the vocals higher. This track is the obvious hit on the record and should convince old and new fans of the band alike and become a long-time candidate for concert sets. Title track "My God-Given Right" reminds me of the power metal sound the band had about fifteen years ago. This track could have had its righteous place on "Rabbit Don't Come Easy". Once again, the track is passionate, fast and catchy enough to hide the obvious problem: the band stagnates.
As the record goes on, the tracks become a little bit less catchy, compact and fast and uncover the band's lack of ideas. Song after song rushes by and fails to leave a deeper impression. The album even starts to become dull and boring by the end. Thirteen similarly sounding tracks are definitely too many to carry an entire album and the diverse bonus editions even include more of the same. It would have been cleverer to release a more concise album with the nine best tracks from the recording sessions. Even if that option had been chosen, this wouldn't have been more than an average Helloween record. The last album had a couple of surprises in form of the historically inspired epic opener "Nabataea", the slightly progressive single "Burning Sun", the short Queen-influenced stomper "Wanna Be God" or the controversial "Asshole". This new album has no special moments, no experiments and not even an emotional ballad to lighten things up.
One thing is even more annoying than seventeen songs that sound exactly alike for nearly eighty minutes on the special edition. The band includes more lyrics that criticize the lifestyles of the rich and famous, greedy businessmen and the Catholic church. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a friend of capitalist entrepreneurs, hedge fund managers or the Vatican. Still, the band's pseudo-intellectual social criticism is closed-minded, provocative and stereotypical in the hope of getting approval. In addition to this, the band had already covered these topics many times before and Andi Deris' last disappointing solo album was filled with lyrics about these topics. Gerstner and Deris seem to be filled with hatred for the leaders of our world and with admiration for the poor working men. When I was sixteen, I would have adored this kind of music in combination with these lyrics. Today, I feel that the whole thing sounds childish, pretentious and redundant. If I wanted some critical comments on politics, rebellious socialist day-dreaming and socio-economic propaganda, I would rather listen to an underground punk album instead.
In the end, Helloween disappoints with a tiring record without any true highlights. This record is still acceptable thanks to the strong opening tracks if you adore the genre. Apart of the cringeworthy "If God Loves Rock 'n' Roll" that doesn't fit to the socialist propaganda in most of the other tracks, I must give the band that there is no real stinker on this release. On the other side, the band really needs to change its musical approach and lyrics for the next album. With controversial albums such as "Chameleon" and "The Dark Ride", the band has already proven that it was able to reinvent itself in the past. It's about time to do this again instead of raising another fluffy fist against the system even at the risk of losing a few fans like fifteen or twenty-two years ago.
Final rating: 6/10
Please support the band and check out the following links:
Dear readers of my blog!
I barely have the words to describe the greatness of this album. Without any futher ado, here is my review of the most credible candidate for my favourite album of the year 2015 and one of the very best albums I've listened to in my life. Please support the band and buy this record!
M.H.X’s Chronicles is an epic and progressive melodic death metal quartet from Sao Paulo, Brazil. It started as a project by guitarist and vocalist Murillo Henrique Xavier who recorded the first EP “The Preface” on his own. This first respectable release from 2013 is available as free download but wasn’t released properly. A little bit less than two years later, the project is back as a band with its first full length record “Infinite Ocean”, including ten songs with a running time of fifty-six minutes. The title and cover artwork represent the album’s atmosphere very well. The ten tracks have a yearning and exotic tone. The imagery of a vast ocean offering countless possibilities to navigate through the seven seas as a symbol for life is the clear guiding line of this album. This balanced album leads us through heavy tempests and wild waters but it also shows us the beautiful sunshine after the rain and the calm after the storm. While this release isn't comparable to anything else, it still reminds me of many different bands I adore at the same time. Imagine a creative mixture of Amorphis, Dream Theater and In Flames and you might come closest to what this band sounds like.
Just as our real lives, this record is filled with authentic emotions, endless creativity and exciting changes. Dark and heavy riffs from the death metal sector meet harmonious and melodic guitar solos with a modern twist that should appeal both to traditional heavy metal fans and metalcore enthusiasts. Fast blast beat attacks meet slower and more hypnotizing drum beats and even tribal drum sounds at a certain point. Angrily pumping bass guitars are opposed to calm bass licks. Energizing and passionate melodic death metal growls meet melancholic clean vocal passages in several tracks while other songs have extended passages that only focus on the powerful music. This exciting mixture is garnished with dreamy piano melodies that should grab the attention of gothic metal fans, elegant yet decently employed string passages, a clever use of additional symphonic keyboard arrangements, electronic sounds in the epic instrumental sections and songs, appeasing acoustic guitar passages, liberating pipe sounds and even nature sound samples that make you feel as if you were on a ship. The song writing never sounds too technical, overloaded or ambitious despite the elevated degree of diversity. The different tracks are all epic yet lightly liberating and easy to digest. The musicianship is highly emotional, technically skilled yet to the point which is something that only the greatest progressive metal acts manage to achieve. The production is balanced and crystal clear as each instrument and sound has its impressive occasions to shine throughout this masterpiece of an album. Each single song is absolutely great on its own and the flow of the album as a whole is even more impressive. I can’t single out one or even several particular songs. To be fair, I would have to describe each single song in an extremely detailed way. I prefer to let the music speak for itself.
Sometimes, while you are listening to an album, you immediately realize that this is the kind of record that can change your life and that will stay with you for a lifetime. This is a feeling that rarely happens even for somebody like me who has listened to several hundred or even thousand albums so far. M.H.X’ Chronicles’ “Infinite Ocean” immediately gave me this uprising feeling from the first track on and it never let me go until the last second. I have listened to several excellent records this year including the new albums from Portuguese gothic metal institution Moonspell, Bulgarian progressive metal band Pantommind and Israeli progressive folk metal project Subterranean Masquerade to only name a few. This record here is even more than excellent and stands above everything else. It’s incredibly close to perfection. It’s the most credible candidate for the album of the year so far. If you like music, please give this band a chance and listen to this album.
Final rating: 10/10
Please support the band and check out the following links:
Bonus: Download the project's first EP "The Preface" for free:
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Dear readers of my blog!
Here comes another band I would like to introduce. Nine Treasures is a quite active sextet from Inner Mongolia in the People's Republic of China. Formed back in 2010, the group has released two full length albums, one extended play, two singles and one live album. The band has participated in many concert and festivals in mainland China but they also made it to the biggest metal festival in the world, the Wacken Open Air in Germany. The six musicians are authentic defenders of Mongolian folk tales and instruments combined with modern folk and heavy metal elements in the key of bands such as Eluveitie, Ensiferum and Korpiklaani. Nine Treasures is only one of several Chinese bands influenced by Mongolian history such as Ego Fall, Tengger Cavalry and Voodoo Kungfu that are all equally recommendable. Please support this underground movement of the New Wave of Mongolian Folk Metal. I hope you enjoy the authentic atmosphere, the joyful music and the profound tales of this sextet.
After the solid debut full length release "Arvan Ald Guulin Hunshoor" and the really strong follow-up "Nine Treasures", the authentic folk metal sextet from Inner Mongolia celebrates its five years of existence with the short concert album "Live in Beijing". If the studio versions of the joyous yet profound Mongolian folk tales sound charming and exotic, the live versions go one step further and are much more energizing and entertaining. The sound is much heavier which makes the riffs feel more gripping, the bass guitar more present and the drum play more dynamical. The vocals sound much rawer and more powerful on stage without losing their hypnotizng elegance and traditionally inspired skills from the studio versions. The exotic folk instruments are still audible and complement the heavier tones perfectly. I really liked the sound of the two balalaikas on the previous studio effort and they do sound great on this new release as well but I'm more specifically digging the longing sound of the Mongolian horsehead fiddle morin khuur. It's definitely the most dominant instrument on this album and adds even more soul, a whole new sound dimension and profound uniqueness to the band's interpretations.
Apart of the excellent morin khuur play, the great interaction between the band and the audience make this record stand out. The concert has a harmonious and intimate atmosphere during the calmer passages but the crowd actively participates and goes wild in the right moments. The fans are almost constantly encouraged to clap their hands, dance along and shout or sing with the band. The vocalists make a couple of energizing announcements but also some funny jokes here and there. The different songs have a couple of improvised openings or endings in form of solo chants or jam parts that differ from the studio records and add some contagious diversity and power. The best live atmosphere can probably be heard in the authentic, extended and soulful rendition of "Nuutshai Chadal".
Despite its rather short length, the seven songs are among the very best tracks of the band and therefor wisely chosen. Opener "Black Heart" immediately drowns us into a magical live atmosphere that sounds much more profound, relaxed and spiritual than the studio version which rather convinces with surprising changes, raw energy and ferocious pace. The heavy and melodic "Sonsii" is probably the band's catchiest tune and its live rendition sounds even more organic and to the point. The melancholic and raw "Arvan Ald Guulin Hunshoor" is a perfect conclusion that resumes the band's fusion of modern rock music and traditional Mongolian folklore perfectly while the final seconds of the track capture the great atmosphere of that memorable night.
If you like Western folk metal bands like Alestorm, Eluveitie and Korpiklaani, you should go one step further and discover the emerging scene of Mongolian folk metal around bands such as Ego Fall, The Samans and Tengger Cavalry. The best way to discover this fascinating genre is to start your journey with a live record like this that captures the liberating feeling of freedom, unchained lust of life and profound respect for ancient traditions even more than the diversified, philosophical and technical studio versions. These key elements form an essential mixture that help people from China and all around the world to escape from a conformist society, everyday pressure and modern technology to rediscover their cultural diversity, enchanting history and spiritual well-being. This haunting album may be called "Live in Beijing" and was recorded in a modern concert hall a few months ago but it almost feels as if it came directly from the traditional tents in a raw Mongolian steppe where a similar kind of music could have been played by a joyous tribe over decades and centuries.
Final rating: 8,5/10
"Black Heart" performed live in Beijing on January 10th, 2015:
Here is some other footage from another live concert, recorded during the MIDI Festival 2014 in Beijing during quite difficult weather conditions:
Finally, here is some footage from the band's performance at Wacken Open Air in Germany back in 2013:
Please support the band and check out the following links:
Mesdames et Messieurs!
Cette semaine, j'aimerais vous présenter le groupe de punk rock finlandais Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät. Le groupe se concentre sur l'essence de ce style en interprétant des chansons courtes autour de deux minutes avec des riffs de guitare simplistes, une section rythmique précise, un chant fâché et rauque et des paroles traitant les problèmes de la vie de tous les jours, tant avec un ton ironique qu'avec un ton accusateur.
Le groupe est composé de quatre membres avec de grands écarts d'âge. D'abord, le guitariste et compositeur Pertti Kurikka de Vihti a cinquante-huit ans. Deuxièmement, le bassiste Sami Helle qui a grandi dans des villes comme Boston, New York City et Paris a quarante-et-un ans. Ensuite, le chanteur Kari Aalto de Tampere a trente-neuf ans. Finalement, le batteur Toni Välitalo a seulement trente-deux ans. Le gestionnaire de concert Kalle Pajamaa qui aide le groupe à arranger les chansons est considéré comme un cinquième membre du groupe, même s'il ne chante pas et ne joue aucun instrument. Les membres du groupe se sont rencontrés dans le cadre de plusieurs ateliers de charité pour les adultes ayant des déficiences intellectuelles.
En plus de leurs âges et origines différents, le groupe se distingue par le fait que ses membres ont tous des déficiences intellectuelles comme l'autisme, le syndrome de Down ou la trisomie 21. Malgré de nombreux obstacles dans leurs vies de tous les jours, le groupe a réalisé l'exploit d'enregistrer plusieurs albums et de jouer plusieurs concerts et festivals depuis sa fondation officielle en 2009.
Le groupe a reçu beaucoup d'attention lorsqu'il a fait l'object du documentaire "The Punk Syndrome" en 2012. Le film qui emploie le style du cinéma vérité a reçu de nombreux prix comme le prix du public du Festival du Film de Tampere en 2012, le trophé Jussi pour le meilleur documentaire en 2013, le prix du film le plus innovateur dans le cadre du festivals Visions du Réel en Suisse en 2012, le prix du public dans la catégorie SXGlobal dans le cadre du festival SXSW à Austin au Texas en 2013 et le prix spécial pour "optimisme passionné et défense des idéaux de l'humanisme dans la vie" au festival Docudays UA en Ukraïne en 2013. Le film est souvent comparé au documentaire "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" de 2008 sur le groupe de heavy métal torontois Anvil.
En 2015, le groupe a été choisi pour représenter son pays dans le cadre du fameux Concours Eurovision de la Chanson dont la soixantième édition a eu lieu à Vienne, en Autriche. La chanson choisie par le groupe était la chanson la plus courte jouée dans l'histoire du festival.
Voici une sélection chronologique de mes pièces préférées du groupe:
"Päättäjä on pettäjä" (2011)
"Kuus Kuppia Kahvia" (2012)
"Aina mun pitää" (2015)
Je vous souhaite encore une fois une bonne découverte et écoute!
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