Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

“Hymn Of A Broken Man”, the debut release from Times of Grace, who for those of you don’t know is the musical child of current Killswitch Engage guitarist/short short enthusiast Adam Duktiewicz and former Killswitch growler/crooner Jesse Leach, is one hell of an album.

Personally, I was expecting to hear a number of Killswitch Engage tracks with Jesse’s voice instead of Howard’s but Messrs Duktiewicz and Leach have created an epic, emotional album that really strikes a chord with the listener. Jess Leach’s incredible vocal performance shows that the man has really been putting in his work on this album and whether he is screaming, roaring or singing at the top of his lungs, his voice is incredible throughout.

We all know Adam is a beast on a guitar and can roll out crushing riffs and beautiful passages simultaneously (see: every Killswitch Album). On “Hymn of A Broken Man, Adam seems to favor simplistic, heart felt passages that are incredibly effective and atmospheric and really complement the emotion in the vocals. However, he does find space to stick in a number of Killswitch riffs to keep his fans happy.

Adam and Jesse’s voices compliment each other perfectly and some of the hooks on the album will stir emotion in the hearts of the coldest listeners. The production too, handled by the incredibly multi talented Mr. Duktiewicz, is fantastic and every instrument and element of the song fall perfectly into place.

I find that when I start listening to “hymn of A Broken Man” I just have to listen to it the whole way through and enjoy it as a whole. My personal favorite tracks are “Until The End Of Days”, “Hymn of A Broken Man” and the acoustic “The Forgotten One” but every track is dripping with quality.

“Hymn Of A Broken Man” is an incredible record and is essential listening for any fans of Killswitch and metalcore. It deserves to be heard by more than just the metalcore fanbase but that all depends on whether those listeners are willing to give it a spin. I really hope they do because if they don’t, they’re missing out on a great record.

Refraction Interview

Posted: January 20, 2011 by Flashbox in Music, Uncategorized

Having just reviewed Refraction’s fantastic self titled debut album, I felt it was the perfect time to ask the lads a few questions about the album. Here’s my short chat with Kalr and Co.:

“Refraction” came out last week and based on early reviews, its gotten a great reception. You guys must be thrilled!
Its too early to tell. Feedback has generally been positive, what little there has been. We are just grateful that people are interested in what we are doing

You guys recorded a demo a while back. What was wrong with it that you decided to keep it from the public?
Most of those tracks ended up as our first Myspace tracks. We recorded it ourselves with the little resources and experiences we had. It just transpired that the end result, despite a lot of effort, was just not something we were happy to release, we couldn’t get it to sound how we wanted. We also felt a full-length was better suited to the flow of what we were trying to achieve

What lessons did you guys learn when recording the demo that you applied to the full length?
John (Kelly) has been studying sound for years, so he would have learned quite a lot in the interim which was beneficial during the recording of the album. We also learned that recording an album away from the toil and smog of the City worked well to our advantage, as did thousands of fields full of cows when it came to photo opportunities. Cows are not stirred by the insults of a human. They have amazing resolve

How did you guys find working at Data Studios?Those guys are making quite the name for themselves!
Both Ross O’Donovan and Tadgh Healy are such great guys and amazing to work with. They made everything as comfortable as possible. Everything is so relaxing in that part of the Country, it made the whole process so seamless. If Data Studios are making a name for themselves it is because they excel at what they do.

What are your favorite tracks on “Refraction”?
All of them were at one point, I’m sure. Now, none of them.

Have you guys ever tried adding vocals?
In our former incarnation as ‘Illuminatus’, we employed vocals. This did not work out. We felt them unneccessary for this release, and would detract from what we were trying to achieve

Is it something you’d like to do in the future?
We are ruling nothing out with regards anything for the future. We have intentions of introducing an array of new elements into the music, this could very well include vocals. Time will tell

With yourselves, Altar of Plagues, I”l Eat Your Face all releasing killer albums and getting widespread recognition, the irish metal scene is really booming. It must be really exciting to be apart of it?
‘Widespread recognition’ might be a tad over-zealous. We have not received any calls from Ryan Tubridy, as of yet. We have sold approx. 5 CDs. In fact its 4 because one CD is just missing from the case. Thats 3 more CDs than anyone has downloaded. And that person was you. Cheers!

Ok, so you mightn’t be making a fortune just yet, but the buzz is growing and people are really impressed with the output, which is great. It takes time and alot of touring to start making money and getting bigger. Any plans to tour around the country or further a field to promote the album?
We have big plans to make plans. We certainly intend on playing various dates around the country in light of the release.
Any promoters,ringmasters, farmers or other parties interested, please contact us at refractionband@gmail
Thanks a lot for your time and interest man!

No problem guys!

And its pretty damn cool if i do say so myself. Featuring more flames and fiery colors like older album covers such as “Fate of Norns” and “Once Sent From The Golden Halls”, the “Surtur Rising” artwork, done by long time favored artist of Amon Amarth Tom Thiel, is exactly the kind of album cover you’d expect from the Viking metallers. Take a peek at it below.

The less than friendly looking, flaming sword wearing giant is, according to the Metal Blade press release “Surtur”, the leader of the flaming giants of Muspelheim and the Surtur of the album title. He’s also the oldest character in Norse mythology. Pretty metal, huh?

Here’s the official press release from Metal Blade regarding the album and it’s track listing:
“Sweden’s AMON AMARTH are currently gearing up to unleash, Surtur Rising, the eighth studio offering in their critically revered pantheon of Viking-inspired death metal. Named in tribute to Surtur, leader of the fire giants of Muspelheim (“flame land”) and the oldest being in the nine worlds of Norse mythology, the record, which was listed among Decibel Magazine’s most anticipated albums of 2011, features 10 tracks of sword-wielding, fist-pumping, hyper climactic battle anthems. The follow up to 2008′s monolithic Twilight Of The Thunder God full-length, was recorded again at Fascination Street Studios Örebro, Sweden with Jens Bogren and features strikingly brutal cover art by Tom Thiel. “

Surtur Rising Track Listing:
01. War of the Gods
02. Töck’s Taunt – Loke’s Treachery Part II
03. Destroyer of the Universe
04. Slaves of Fear
05. Live Without Regrets
06. The Last Stand of Frej
07. For Victory or Death
08. Wrath of the Norsemen
09. A Beast Am I
10. Doom Over Dead Man

The album will be released in Europe on March 25th and in the USA on March 29th, so mark grav your viking helmets and drinking horns and get ready for a killer slab of viking metal

Refraction “Refraction” Review

Posted: January 17, 2011 by Flashbox in Music, Uncategorized

If Refraction’s self titled debut is anything to go by, then 2011 is going to be one helluva year for Irish metal! The lads have really created a great, atmospheric instrumental album that brings the listener on a ride that at times is picturesque and tranquil and is kept interesting with moments of rising, sheer epicness.

“Refraction” is the lads debut release since they started jamming (in their current form) in 2007 (even-though they did try their hands at a demo but were unsatisfied with the results) and it looks like all the practice really has paid off. “Refraction” is an album that needs to be listened from start to finish as all of the 6 tracks (averaging at around 6/7 minutes a track) flow seemlessly into each other. As mentioned earlier, each song takes the listener on a journey and the songs never bore as each tracks shifts momentum and emotion. It felt like I was listening to a movie soundtrack.

I have recently been on a bit of an “the Ocean” binge at the moment, with Anthropcentric and Heliocentric listened to daily, and this album reminded me alot of a less aggressive, instrumental version of those albums.

I loved everything about the guitar on this album. The tone was distinctive and clear, with each note perfectly audible. I also loved how the guitar lines worked almost as vocals, carrying each song from passage to passage and narrating the whole album. the drumming too was immense, eventhough at times the double kicked seemed to go off time when sustained for too long. It was also cool to be able to hear the bass and notice how it added to the songs. A great production job done by the lads at Data Studios (Which is building quite the name for itself, having been the home of I’ll Eat Your Face’s “Irritant” and Altar of Plagues).

My personal favorite songs on the album are the middle tracks “Into Nothing”, which has a killer outro, and “Light Fades”, but each and every track on this album is full of quality and worth a listen.

The only thing that I could complain about is that I found all of the song structures almost too similar and hope the guys will try and mix it up a little more on the follow up album, even maybe delving into more aggressive or darker territories to give the songs a dufferent dynamic. Theres a few hints to suggest that they are delving into darker sounds and this is something I could really see working for the guys.

With bands such as Wound Upon Wound, I’ll Eat Your Face and now Refraction releasing quality albums, the future is looking bright as the sun for Irish metal. “Refraction” is a great album that sets the standard high for all other releases,(all over the world, not just in Ireland), extremely high.

Refraction will be playing a launch gig for the album on the 4th of March in metal watering hole Fibber Magees and I strongly suggest you guys go and check it out and pick up a copy of the album while your there.

Now that the holiday season has ended and we enter into the bleak month of January,now is the perfect time to start thinking about our summer plans to help get rid of those post-Christmas blues. And what better way to spend your summer in a tent in the middle of some random field in Europe, drunk as a skunk, moshing with metallers from all over the world at some of the most famous festivals in the world?!

Here’s a quick look at the this summers offering and my own personal view on each.

Sonisphere 2011

Sonisphere is the newest of the metal festivals but has wasted no time in making a name for itself and continually pulling out the big guns to attract hundreds of thousands of fans to Knebworth and this year is no exception. In what is something of an unbeatable headline pairing, Sonisphere is bringing the Big 4 (Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth & Anthrax) together (again) on its opening night. I know its not the first time these four have played together and that the majority of us have had our dreams come through from sitting in a cinema and seeing Mustaine and Metallica on stage together again but if these four bands play as well as they did in Sofia and Slayer actually get off their high horse and join the others for a jam, then the Friday of Sonisphere 2011 will live long in metal folklore.

On top of that, Sonisphere have pulled another rabbit out of the hat and are closing their festivities on the Sunday night with Slipknot’s second performance since the tragic loss of bassist Paul Grey. This is a huge coup for Sonisphere as metal fans worldwide will be trying to see Slipknot together again and see who they select to fill the void left by the late Mr. Grey.

With such stellar headline acts setl for the Friday and Sunday, you can almost forgive the bookers for having Biffy Clyro play on Saturday night so people can go to bed early, recover from Friday’s madness and be all set for Sunday’s destruction!

Hellfest 2011

Hellfest has never been a festival which has appealed to me. I love a bit of nnostalgia but I would in no way be inclined to travel all the way to France to see aging headliners such as Ozzy, the Scorpions and Judas Priest when I amn’t even that inclined to go see them play in Dublin. I’m sure there’s plenty of you who would be but I’m not.

I’d be far more excited to go and see the always reliable Kreator, the exclusive “special show” from Mayhem, Bolt Thrower, Opeth and other bands such as Orphaned Land, Skyforger and The Melvins. Now they’re bands I’d travel for!

Brutal Assault 2011

For a festival that charges €60 for a 3 day camping pass,pays you to throw out your rubbish and provides legendary headliners such as Morbid Angel and Nevermore, Czech republic’s Brutal Assault festival is hands down the best value for money festival each and every summer.

Add to this the appearance of Skyforger, Exodus, Gorguts, Suicidal Tendencies, Triptykon and Vader and you have got one hell of a festival for the price of a night out in Ireland. Unbeatable value and quality.

We’ll have the second installment of our Summer festival preview in the coming days so be sure to check it out!

Just a quick reminder to all our friends over in Merry ol England that Ireland’s finest party grinders, I’ll Eat your Face are just one week away from destroying those January blues and showing you one hell of a good time….you Lucky Bastards. See the poster for tour dates and check out the clip below for a taste of what awaits!

A few of our friends have decided to graciously share their favorite albums of the year with you guys. So here they are. Enjoy!

Overoth’s Picks
Immolation – Majesty and Decay
Unleashed – As Yggdrasil Trembles
In Mourning – Monolith
Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier
Burzum – Belus
Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones
The Meads of Asphodel – The Murder of Jesus the Jew
Godhate – Equal in the eyes of Death
Hour of Penance – paradogma
Beherit – Engram

Niels’, vocalist of Toxocara, Picks
Immolation: Majesty and Decay
Killer album always an honour to open for this band and mosh in the front lines after our own show! Great artwork aswell!
Triptykon: Eparistera Daimones
Played with them in Portugal with another band during SWR fest totally blown away.. a must have!
Fear Factory:Mechanize
New line up!! Went to the show at Fortarock, Holland. Gene puts in the extra effort.. have been a fan for years, great new album
Decrepit birth: Polarity
Lots of times Toxocara get compaired with this band.. never had the chance to pick up one of their albums… this one fucking kills!! love it.
Deftones:Diamond Eyes
Alway have loved this band, even if they would make an album clipping their toenails I would buy it!! nuff said.
God Dethroned:Under The Sign of the Iron Cross
Hollands pride! Toxocara is opening for them this friday 24-12-10 on their cd release party, drummer and guitarist from Prostitute Disfigurement FUCKING AWESOME!
Danzig: Deth Red Sabaoth
Glen danzig rules.. I personally buy everything he puts out.
Also opend for these dudes this year.. crazy fuckers on stage very nice guys off stage had a blast with them and already was a fan of their work
Jimi Hendricks:Valleys of Neptune
Do I need to say anyting?
Victimizer:Tales of Loss and New Found Serenity
My other band along with the drummer of toxocara .. could`t resist to put it in the list.. really proud to have recorded this album released through Deity down records

Barry’s (I’ll Eat Your Face) Picks
Barry says he didn’t get a chance to listen to much new material this year but was still sound enough to send us a list of what he’s been listening to during the year.
1: Fuck the Facts – “Disgorge Mexico” (2008)
2: Dusty Springfield – “Blue for You” (Compilation)
3: Metallica – “…And Justice for All” (1988)
4: My Evil Ex – “Lust” (2009)
5: El Bastardo – “Versus You” (2010)
6: Mike Oldfield “Hergest Ridge” (1973)
7: Everything Everything – “Man Alive” (2010)
8: Lots of Anthrax and Wierd Al on Grooveshark
9: Lots of Fleetwood Mac and Def Leppard
10: Ratt – “Invasion of our Privacy” (1985)

Leigh’s (Wound Upon Wound) Picks
The Wounded Kings – The Shadow Over Atlantis
Alcest – Écailles de lune
Agalloch – Marrow of the spirit
Deathspell Omega – Paracletus
Ihsahn – After
Drainland – And so our troubles began
Altar of Plagues – Tides
Blood Revolt – Indoctrine
Wormlust – Svarthol
I’ll Eat Your Face – Irritan

Late Review of Ingraved’s “Onryou”

Posted: December 21, 2010 by Flashbox in Music
Tags: ,

A couple of weeks ago(maybe even months at this stage) I received a press package from an Italian band called Onryou and was askes to check it out. Due to a number of boring factors, I never got the chance to give the album a thorough listen but now that I have a few days off for the holidays, I decided to give it a spin.

But first a bit of background. Ingraved are an Italian death/metalcore band (there listed as death metal on Metal Archives, but I wouldn’t agree with that). “Onryou” is the 3rd release from the Italian 5 piece and was released by Power Pain Records on October 31st.

“Onryou”, according to my good friend Wikipedia, a mythological spirit from Japanese folklore who is able to return to the physical world in order to seek revenge. Very metal indeed. The album’s striking artwork, I assume, is a representation of this vengeance seeking specter. The album cover definitely stands out from other metal album art, however, the Japanese mythology will undoubtedly bring about thoughts of Triviums oriental themed “Shogun” (which I am a fan of.)

“Onryou” do have a few riffs that wouldn’t be out of place on a Trivium album but there’s not much in the way of familiarity between the two bands. Ingraved are much more metal/deathcore orientated and appear to be fans of a good ol breakdown when they can fit one in.

The first 4 songs of “Onryou” left me feeling a little underwhelmed as, while they’re full of energy, they all seem to follow the same pattern and there is nothing in them I haven’t heard a million other bands do before. However, by the time track 5, “The Burden” comes blasting out of the speakers, the album quickly picks up and we see Ingraved’s true quality and hints of what levels they may reach in the future. The second half of the album is far more adventurous and the Italian’s try out a few different ideas, which makes the songs far more entertaining and hooked me in.

My personal favorite tracks on the album are “The Burden” and “Tsuna-me” but my favorite riff is definitely the ominous, foreboding intro to album closer, ” Of A Promise Broken”.

What struck me most about the musicianship on the album was the drumming. Donatello Chirico is clearly a talented drummer and it is his contributions behind the skins that help change some of the more generic riffs and passages into memorable riffs and sections. Guitarists Martin Sarcinella and Gian Spalluto aren’t the most technical guitarists in the world but do the simple things right. In the second half of the album they begin to add a few leads to the songs and mess around with different melodies, to varying degrees of success, but if they build on the promise they show on the second half of the album, they could come up with something special on their next release.

Vocalist Tony Gianfreda is quite apt at screaming and growling, but his clean vocals really don’t do it for me. He seems to be trying to imitate Burton C.Bell but never quite gets the impression spot on. However, I’m not actually a huge fan of Burton’s clean vocals so I may be biased.

Overall, “Onryou” is a quality effort from a young band who are definitely worth keeping an eye on. If your a metalcore fan and like your metal simple but effective, then pick this up today.

Rating: 7/10

In what is a great early Christmas present for fans, Arch Enemy have commenced work on their new, as yet untitled album, which is due to be released in May 2011 (and which we revealed to the world the band had begun writing back in September, when we spoke with the lovely Angela Gossow) Drummer Daniel Erlandsson, according to Blabbermouth says he has completed recording the drum tracks for the album, which will be produced by Rickard Bengtsson, who produced “The Doomsday Machine”.

The news that Bengtsson is producing doesn’t have me too excited, as “The Doomsday Machine” is one of my least favorite Arch enemy albums. However, I have high hope for the new album as its predecessor “Rise Of the Tyrants”, was a tremendous return to form so hopefully the aggression and quality from that album spills over to the new record. Erlandsson says “This album has some of the fastest songs I’ve ever recorded, along with a bunch of heavy pounding mid tempo songs” which also keeps me hopeful that this will be another face melting album.” Based on Arch Enemy’s back catalogue, this is definitely an album to get excited about.

To whet your appetite even more, here’s a studio report that the band have posted.

Yesterday, I shared my thoughts with you guys on my favorite albums of 2010. Today I’m going to take a look at my favorite album covers of the past year. Based on my selection, it’ll become quite clear that I’m a fan of dark themed art and the more skulls the better!

“Evil Power”-Lair Of The Minotaur
Not only was this amongst my favorite albums of the year, but it also featured my favorite album cover of the year. I mean, what could be more metal than a Spartanish Minotaur staring out at you from a throne adorned with skulls and bloody axes. Bonus points for the simple yet very effective, old school font on the album title!

“Snakes For The Divine”-High On Fire
Another of my favorite albums of the year, this album cover really stood out from the pack. A rarity among my favorites, this cover features no skulls but plenty of serpents winding themselves around a naked, buxom lady. I’m not sure if she is restraining or embracing the snake in her hand, but none the less, this is a very cool album cover that wouldn’t be out of place in a Greek Mythology picture book.

“Relentless Retribution”-Death Angel
I love the phrase ” a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and this album cover brings that image to live in a magnificently bloody way. The firey red in the sky and apocalyptic background set an awesome backdrop to the truly vicious wolf leading all those poor sheep to their bloody end. I need a t-shirt of this album cover!

“Valley Of Smoke”-Intronaut
The most colorful, and dare I say, cheerful of my picks this year, I found the “Valley of Smoke” cover really interesting and stood out from the all the colorless album covers out there. Artist Dave D’Andrea did a great job of creating an album cover that wouldn’t look out of lace in an art gallery. He also managed to squeeze in a skeleton into this artsy album cover so kudos for that!

“The World Is A Thorn”-Demon Hunter
And to finalize my picks, here’s another skull themed album cover. Simple but fucking awesome!

And there you have, my favorite album covers of 2010. Feel free to argue with me and share your favorites in the comment section below.