• Genre: 
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 01:19:34
    Band homepage: Alestorm

    Tracklist:

    1. The Quest
    2. The Sunk'n Norwegian
    3. Leviathan
    4. Shipwrecked
    5. Over the Seas
    6. Midget Saw
    7. Nancy the Tavern Wench
    8. Pirate Song
    9. Back Through Time
    10. Wenches & Mead
    11. Death Throes of the Terrorsquid
    12. Keelhauled
    13. Rumpelkombo
    14. Set Sail and Conquer
    15. Captain Morgan's Revenge
    16. Rum

     

    Alestorm - Live at the End of the World

    ALESTORM make songs about exactly two different topics only: alcohol and pirates. Sometimes, additional elements such as beautiful barmaids, epic quests or traveling in time try to cover the lack of originality. They don’t take themselves all too serious though and that makes these five guys from England, Northern Ireland and Scotland so sympathetic. Their joyous mixture of rough vocals, epic melodies played by guitars, keyboards and keytars and enthusiastic sing-along passages works best live. While the band looked a little bit chaotic and drunk when I first saw them back in early 2009, they still booze a lot on stage and interact in a very humorous way with the crowd but their musicianship seems to have improved since then and their sound is more structured as well. I really saw an improved performance by the band when I went to another show of them in late 2013 and that’s why I decided to purchase their “Live at the End of the World” package including a live disc and the entire concert on DVD plus a funny documentary and two video clips.

     

    The band takes us on a joy ride over more than ninety minute where they drink rum, cognac and beer on stage, have amusing discussions with the enthusiastic nine hundred fans in Melbourne and perform their greatest hits from the first three albums including slow paced epic pirate ballads such as “Nancy The Tavern Wench”, fast and partially almost thrash metal driven anthems like the fan favorite “Keelhauled” and even symphonic extreme metal parts as “Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid”. Other highlights include funny nonsense speeches as in the introduction to “Pirate Song”, the amusing band presentation in “Set Sail and Conquer” or the peaceful wall of death event during the band anthem “Captain Morgan’s Revenge”. In the end, this concert feels like a crazy party where the band and the crowd booze, cheer and sing together. Even though the band sounds better than in the past, the singer still misses many notes and some instruments get out of rhythm but ALESTORM are not about technical perfection but about having a whole lot of fun in life. That’s why this band really works better on stage than on a simple studio record.

     

    If you are a regular fan, this release will be the highlight in your collection and if you happen to be an occasional or new fan, let me tell you that this release is far more essential than any ALESTORM record because this concert and the following and surprisingly entertaining documentary represent all what this band is about. Switch your brains off, invite some friends and a couple of beautiful women, prepare some great drinks (some recipe suggestions can be read in the credits) and be ready to dance, mosh and sing along while watching or listening to this cool release. The only reason to not purchase this package is in order to save your money to see these guys live on stage in your town and be part of the party. Hurry up though as one never knows for how many years these guys may still be able to tour the world on such a high and wide level due to all their alcohol abuses and epic parties.

     

    (Online December 26, 2013)

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  • Genre: Symphonic Metal
    Label: Sony Music
    Playing time: 56:23
    Band homepage: Apocalyptica

    Tracklist:

    1. Signal
    2. Genesis
    3. Fight against Mothers
    4. Stormy Wagner
    5. Flying Dutchman
    6. Lullaby
    7. Bubbles
    8. Path of Life
    9. Creation of Notes
    10. Running Love
    11. Birth Pain
    12. Ludwig - Wonderland
    13. Ludwig - Requiem
    14. Destruction

     

    Apocalyptica - Wagner Reloaded

    Three years after their least convincing studio effort “7th Symphony”, APOCALYPTICA comes around with a rather intriguing project. The band came together with the MDR Symphony Orchestra and different choreographers to create fourteen instrumental songs inspired by but not directly copied from legendary German composer Richard Wagner. The band performed these songs to celebrate the legend’s two hundredth birthday in his hometown Leipzig in front of a cheering but sophisticated crowd. Those who were missing the earlier years of the band inspired by instrumental works somewhere between Extreme Metal and Classical Music will finally get new exciting material from the band. Despite the addition of audiovisual effects, circus and theatre arts, dance performers and the symphonic elements, the three celli and sometimes even the drummer still stand out on here.

     

    The band starts with an atmospheric, disharmonic and menacing introduction in form of the short pieces “Signals” and “Genesis” that should immediately please to fans of the “Inquisition Symphony” and “Cult” records. The band even gets a lot heavier in several tracks when the pace gets faster and the drums kick in as in the second half of the dark “Fight Against Monsters” or the apocalyptic and dramatic “Flying Dutchman”. Calmer songs such as “Bubbles” or the elegiac and melodramatic “Birth Pain” offer some well-deserved breaks to the audience. The mixture of symphonic elements and the original APOCALYPTICA sound works best in “Path In Life” as well as in the diversified double pack “Ludwig – Wonderland” and “Ludwig – Requiem”. While all of these songs are amazing, I associate something special with the outstanding “Path In Life” that remains extremely gripping from the beginning to the end. It’s maybe the best APOCALYPTICA song ever written.

     

    In the beginning, I was afraid that this project might be too overambitious and sophisticated and at first try, it was unusual to listen to the band in that kind of way again after their chart hits with different singers such as “Life Burns!”, “I Don’t Care” or “End Of Me”. After a second try, I was entirely convinced and at my third try, I start to realize that the band delivers us a true little masterpiece on here. It’s a little bit tough to give a rating on here as I’m not familiar with all of Richard Wagner’s works and don’t know how much comes from him and how much from APOCALYPTICA and their partners but maybe this doesn’t really matter. This album is musically diversified, emotionally profound and technically stunning as music should be. APOCALYPTICA fans can’t get around this and should even evaluate this release as a new studio release rather than a live record of the band. From that point of view, the band surpasses the amazing “Worlds Collide” and is at least on one level with “Cult” and “Apocalyptica”. Time will tell if this release is even better than those. Right now, just put yourself this great gift under your Christmas tree and enjoy!

     

    (Online December 15, 2013)

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  • Genre: Thrash Metal / Black Metal / Doom Metal
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 24:16
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. Dreaming
    2. The City Of Pathos, A Saint Of Shame
    3. Potential Brutality
    4. Smells Like Death Spirit
    The Metaphor - The City Of Pathos, A Saint Of Shame

    THE METAPHOR is a blackened Thrash Metal band from Beijing, People’s Republic of China. The quartet around singer and guitarist Wu Shuo who is also active in the Stoner Metal band NEVER BEFORE and the Pagan Black Metal output MARTYRDOM just released a brand new four track EP entitled “The City Of Pathos, A Saint Of Shame“. They sound a little bit like the band HEXFIRE I have recently reviewed but have been around since 2006 already. Fans of other harsh Chinese Thrash Metal bands such as the legends SUFFOCATED should also try the band out while those who like more melodic stuff like OVERLOAD or more Punk driven acts like EXPLOSICUM might not appreciate their style. The band from Beijing is clearly influenced by several American Thrash Metal bands such as DARK ANGEL, MORBID SAINT and SLAYER but adds a slightly darker twist to the genre. If you take a look at the stunning cover artwork, you get to know what to expect from a musical point of view as well. By the way, I would like to have a poster of that great artwork.

     

    This atmospheric approach is supported by a balanced mixture off slow and menacing blackened Doom Metal moments and blistering blackened Thrash Metal passages. The band uses how to build up dark atmospheres and that’s what I prefer about this band.

     

    An interesting aspect is that band leader Wu Shuo is actually Catholic and even though he is not the most devout Christian, the band’s lyrics are all clearly inspired by spiritual and sometimes also mythological or philosophical thoughts. This detail definitely makes the band stand out among others but it won’t change the fact that the band will remain a collective of underground musicians who simply live their passion and won’t make but rather lose the money they put into this. The final result sounds though honest and passionate and I sincerely want to encourage the band to continue.

     

    The most surprising thing about this short record is definitely the cover of NIRVANA’s world hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” which now became “Smells Like Death Spirit”. Apart from the catchy opening riff and the lyrics, the song has become something completely different and unique. It’s a darkly diversified killer song with depressively slow moments and crunching up-tempo parts building up a lot of gripping negative energy that almost hits the seven minute mark. The original has been covered many times but never as original as here. This is not only the best cover of the track but also the highlight of this gripping underground EP.

     

    Give this band a few spins on their website if you’re intrigued by my review or if you like atmospheric Thrash Metal, give these guys fair chance and spread their name: http://site.douban.com/themetaphor/

     

    (Online December 12, 2013)

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  • Genre: Psychedelic / Experimental / Progressive Rock
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 61:15
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. The Packeys
    2. Common Man
    3. Satellite
    4. Like Snow
    5. Kill the Popstar
    6. Miles to Go
    7. The Wizard
    8. Bad Dying

     

    Proximity Butterfly - Arcana

    PROXIMITY BUTTERFLY is a diversified Psychedelic Rock band from Chengdu in the beautiful province of Sichuan that has been formed one decade ago by musicians from the People’s Republic of China, the United States of America and Canada. The band’s first regular record entitled “Arcana” came out in 2006 and is a more than promising debut album.

     

    For one hour, the diversified band offers eight surprising songs that include influences from very different Rock and Metal bands of the seventies such as BLACK SABBATH, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, LED ZEPPELIN and PINK FLOYD. The band also has a slightly modern touch reminding me of the experimental works by JANE’S ADDICTION, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, SIGUR ROS or THE MARS VOLTA. Even fans of the last releases of MGMT or MUSE should try this album out because PROXIMITY BUTTERFLY are the most stunning Experimental Rock band from their country along with RAINBOW DANGER CLUB from Shanghai.

     

    The band offers a quite unique blend of genres. The powerful male vocals give this band a charismatic identity. They have an angry tone but also a more laid back psychedelic style at some points. The diversified and hypnotizing guitar sounds have a very experimental approach but feel never overlong or confusing in my opinion. Even the more complex epics including exotic instrumental passages or Jazz parts on here have their catchy passages and clear guiding lines. Let’s mention that the bass sound on here is quite good which comes as a positive surprise because bassist Heather Judson didn’t even play this instrument when the band was established three years prior to this release. This shows that these free artists on here have some natural talent and they already use it very well. The drum play is very energizing and adds a special touch to the sound because it is sometimes more Metal than Rock orientated in my opinion. Progressive Metal fans should dig the powerhouse drumming and the straighter vocals.

     

    It’s hard to point out any highlights because all songs work well and need some time to grow but I immediately liked the opening “The Packeys” because it mixes the catchier parts with the heavily experimental side of the band. The vivid “Kill The Popstar” is probably the song with the biggest single potential on here and feels refreshing between many sophisticated epics. “Like Snow” has some laid back passages with appeasing high pitched vocals and is one of the calmer tracks on here. “Satellite” is on the other side a completely crazy Psychedelic Rock trip that would have been a worldwide hit if had been released in the seventies. It's some sort of a modern "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by IRON BUTTERFLY or even better. This song is beyond music because it creates pictures with sound and is a disturbing but beautiful experience to go through.

     

    All those who care for Psychedelic or Progressive Rock or original Rock music in general, can’t get around this release. The People’s Republic of China has a constantly growing impressive Experimental Rock scene that is at least as relevant as the contemporary scenes in the United Kingdom or the United States of America. Check out this album on the band’s last.fm presence and enjoy your crazy ride through influences from five decades of experimental Rock music.

     

    (Online November 13, 2013)

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  •  

    Genre: Heavy Metal
    Label: Massacre Records
    Playing time: 59:27
    Band homepage: Rebellion

    Tracklist:

    1. Rest In Peace
    2. Ala Germanica
    3. Prince Of The Chreuscer
    4. Dusk Awaiting Dawn
    5. Breeding Hate
    6. The Seeress Tower
    7. Varus
    8. The Tribes United
    9. Ghost Of Freedom
    10. Furor Teutonicus
    11. Vae Victis
    12. Requiem
    Rebellion - Arminius: Furor Teutonicus

    After the big bang at the end of the year 2010 when three out of five members left Teutonic Power Metal band REBELLION, I was eager to hear what the band’s sixth album “Arminius: Furor Teutonicus” would sound like.

    In fact, nothing has changed at all. The new album is another historical concept album and features grounded mid- to up-tempo tracks with crunchy riffs and powerful, rough and unique vocals. The rhythm section with drums and especially bass guitar could sound better and add some more dynamics to the sound in my opinion.

    Some tracks like the album highlight and diversified opener “Rest In Peace” or the atmospheric “Dusk Awaiting Dawn” have a rather epic touch while others are rather simple bangers such as the predictable single “Ala Germanica” or the more aggressive “Prince Of The Cheruscer” that varies between traditional or true Heavy Metal trademarks and a few almost Groove Metal orientated riffs. The album closes with the more or less necessary ballad “Requiem” but I guess you would have figured that out on your own.

    This album should please to any REBELLION fan and is a quite solid continuation of the band’s typical trademarks. Some may see in this a sign of constancy and quality, others might find the new output too predictable and repetitive. I feel a little bit torn between both points of view. While the record is energizing and has a couple of immediately appealing tracks, I miss a truly outstanding song or a new experimental element that would add a fresh note to the band concept eleven years after its formation.

    Fans should get this record that I see on one level with “Born A Rebel” and “Miklagard – The History Of The Vikings – Volume II” but below the excellence of “Shakespeare’s MacBeth – A Tragedy In Steel”, “Sagas Of Iceland – The History Of The Vikings – Volume I” and “Arise: From Ginnungagap To Ragnarök – The History Of The Vikings – Volume III”. Occasional fans should rather go for a different record of the band or pick the excellent last GRAVE DIGGER release “Clash Of The Gods”. 

    (Online November 6, 2013)

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