AMARANTHE “Manifest” (2020)

Since 2011 AMARANTHE are trying to establish themselves as one of the leading bands of Swedish power metal, if you can classify them to that genre. Indeed, AMARANTHE supports the fusion of two a priori opposing styles: metal and Eurodance elements. While some were immediately convinced of AMARANTHE’s risky crossing, others persistently reject the Swedish band as an aberration, as a monstrosity that soils good taste and the name of metal music. AMARANTHE are fully aware of this. Their sixth work, ‘Manifest’, which is now accompanied by Angela Gossow (ex-ARCH ENEMY) as manager and signed to the Nuclear Blast label, reinforces the most distinctive features of their music, which has only one mission: entertainment.

Already the first three songs – ‘Fearless’, ‘Make It Better’, ‘Scream My Name’ – hardly leave you time to take a breath. The first guitars on ‘Fearless’ give hints of the dominance of the six-stringers on the album, which never lag behind the keyboard samples. The next track ‘Make It Better’ does not come close to ‘Fearless’ in terms of speed, offers classic modern melodic metal and definitely invites you to head-bang. With ‘Scream My Name’ the first highlight of the record follows, which is directly rung in with a thrilling double bass by Morten, before Elize then enters with powerful vocals. Afterwards ‘Viral’ and ‘Adrenaline’ stamp their way into the listeners ears. ‘Adrenaline’ is related to Power Metal, which you hear especially in the beginning, but the song in general becomes weaker towards the end.

‘Viral’, on the other hand, is a typical AMARANTHE song that is simply fun and includes the trademarks of the Swedes. For song number six, ‘Strong’, Elize is accompanied by Noora Louhimo (BATTLE BEAST) and offers the unmistakable AMARANTHE style, which the Swedes were happy to include here. ‘The Game’ is again a very melodic piece, which reminds us of SLIPKNOTs Joey Jordison, because of the double bass in between. With ‘Crystalline’ AMARANTHE strike calmer tones on the album for the first time. The soulful ballad shows the gentle side of the Scandinavians, with another guest musician on the cello: Perttu Kivilaakso (APOCALYPTICA). ‘Boom!’ even mixes Djent, Dubstep and Metalcore together and gives Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson the opportunity to deliver a corrosive rap in a flash. Here AMARANTHE might have been a bit too cocky, but maybe the one or the other will like it. At the latest on ‘Do Or Die’, on which Jeff Loomis (ARCH ENEMY) plays a guitar solo, you can forgive the Swedes for this faux pas…

One has to accept the way of AMARANTHE in order not to run away immediately. It is a matter of mixing the most obvious keywords of the musical genres used by vigorously mixing them together. Cheesy electro and metal are not necessarily destined to lead a happy marriage. Anyone who knows AMARANTHE knows that the genre of the Swedes likes to lead to discussions. Unlike its predecessor ‘Helix’ (2018), ‘Manifest’ is much more aggressive. If you don’t know the Swedes yet and want to listen to something new and more experimental, you can’t go wrong with ‘Manifest’.

Tracklist

01. Fearless
02. Make It Better
03. Scream My Name
04. Viral
05. Adrenaline
06. Strong
07. The Game
08. Crystalline
09. Archangel
10. BOOM!1
11. Die And Wake Up
12. Do Or Die

7,5/10

Amaranthe – Manifest (Nuclear Blast Records)

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS “Abyss” (2020)

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Finally the new album is out and UTA have named it “Abyss” which will continue the story arc that they had already begun on previous albums.
The last record “Apex” was a milestone and an album of such a magnitude that it will probably take years for the band itself to realise it in its entirety. The guitarist duo Andy & Grant were exceptionally on fire and heavily inspired. With Andy they hit the jackpot anyway as he is a massively talented guy who can also play in many different genres. Plus to that he is a great singer as well and adds some clean vocals to the new album “Abyss” as well as he already had on “Apex”.
It was clear to me that “Apex” would be hard to beat. You can also feel the pressure on “Abyss” the guys felt themselves to come up with an equally good album.
To go to the pros and cons:
Pros: The album is fully of great ideas and complex songs. Also Brittney was not shying away from leaving her comfort zone, vocal-wise, and was trying a few new and different things. She seems to have realised herself now too that she sounds great even in the lower register and that there is no need to only dwell on the high pitch notes all the time.
The songs are well arranged, very well thought out and technically brilliantly played and recorded. But I will come to this point again in a bit.
Cons:
The album makes a slight shift towards a bit more melodic areas and to some it could sound a bit more commercial than “Apex”. This is also supported through the mix which at times let the rhythm guitars almost drown in the background. If you listen through some good speakers or good headphones you can clearly tell that the producer tried to slightly emphasize on vocals more than on guitar riffs. “Apex” had a far more aggressive rhythm guitar/drum backing which was much more prominent in the mix.
The harmony sections and leads are at times almost too playful and too fussy in a way. I know that Andy loves these things but it can be easily exaggerated and then it can spoil the fun.
As mentioned above, you somehow can tell the pressure the guys felt and despite it they came up with a great record. But you can tell it was not the same experience for Andy and Grant as with “Apex” where there was incredible musicianship, power, riffs, solos, great melody arcs and all in perfect proportion. You can still feel that the guitar players try to true to the original style of music and way of playing that the original guy started with and he had set the bar very high indeed.

So all in all “Abyss” is a doubtlessly a great record with a very good production and great songs. But it does not come close to “Apex” in terms of quality, songs, sound and inspiration.

7/10

Unleash The Archers – Abyss (Napalm Records)

A new chat with … ACHIM SCHREINER!

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Today we’re talking to our friend, guitarist and songwriter ACHIM SCHREINER!
We haven’t talked in a while so we’re basically touching base and see how Covid-19 affects his bands BLOOD RED SOUL, WOODLARK and all the others and him personally as well.

Rick spoke with Achim last week on the phone. Here is a transcript of the conversation.

SR: Achim, you brought out an abundance of music in the last 12 months and I’m not even trying to get into that now but first let me ask you how you’re doing?

AS: Hey man, thanks a lot for having me! It’s been a while indeed. Well, it’s safe to say that I’ve already seen better times. Just as of recent my therapy has been finally continueing. I am now getting my regular antibody infusions again but it will change very soon anyway. I will be switching from infusions to these “pens” then where you can inject that stuff into your body yourself. Similar to the pens that Diabetic patients do use. A lot more convenient. 
Aside that, recent months had been a real drain as I tried to stay inside as much as I could. You know me, I’m pretty much the center of the demographic and among the ones who have to be extremely careful. Especially with a massively surpressed immune system and some other crap I have.

SR: Could you at least use the time to create new music?

AS: I did to a certain degree. At least until it became really hot here and I hate that (laughs). I cannot work when it is too hot, I just hate it. (laughs)
 However, I have recorded some bits and pieces and even some entirely new tracks. One of them could serve as an opener for a potential BRS 3 album. Also I was doing a lot of work at home.

SR: You have also moved house.

AS: Yes, I now live in northern Germany and the climate is very different here. Also I have to deal with some person who is stalking me for about 2 years already. It is annoying but I do start to work with police now to finally put an end to this. There is no other way.

SR: Stalking can be awful indeed. We had a case in our company once too.

AS: That’s sad to hear. I had one already about 10, 11 years ago and it took years to stop it. So I know what it means. And now again. But well, police will take care of it now.

SR: Good luck in that. Another question, how did Covid affect your bands so far?

AS: Well, probably not as much as other people’s bands, I guess. I mean my band projects are not touring bands anyway and we all live not only in different countries but also on different continents. Technically spoken, nothing much has changed in that regard. But it changed things in other ways, also psychologically. Which can have an even greater impact on some.

SR: Meaning …

AS: Meaning that some of my musician friends are massively suffering from all that and it adds up an immense metal pressure. Not necessarily physically but mentally and also financially and this again adds up even more stress and pressure as it threatens your livelihoods. So naturally they worry about sustaining themselves and their families during this crisis. It can hit people really hard and some end up even with writers block and other things.

SR: That’s true. We’ve heard that from a lot of musicians already. Do you suffer from it yourself too?

AS: No, I have always been lucky. I have never encountered writers block in my life, thankfully. But I suffer in other ways, more personal ways. 
What brings a bit of comfort is that we are all in this together somehow. Whatever you are going through, you know that you’re not alone in this.

SR: Do you have any specific album plans for 2020 so far?

AS: Well, I have already brought out a couple of albums including the new CRAVE FOR DAWNING album “Vanitas” and my solo album “Ruins Of Life” and the TIMESHOCK album “Rear Vision“. I don’t see anything else so far. 
I do have a lot of material, really great material for a third BLOOD RED SOUL album though. But if it ever materialises? I dunno. You have to find the right people and this means not only finding great singers but also people who create some magic and who are something special. Because this is what mutually inspires you when you work with people. The chemistry is so important.
I know some female singers who would love to guest again on a BRS 3 album, including Clare Butterfield, Andra Ariadna and one more. But I need to find a new main singer again who is a perfect fit for the concept of the band. And that is no easy task. When we did BRS 2 (“River Of Melancholia“) we painfully noticed that things just didn’t work out on the personal level eventually. And as people from the outside increasingly started to interfere and started to try to manipulate things, it somehow fell apart for me. At least emotionally and on a personal level. Technically, BRS 2 “River Of Melancholia” was a solid album. But it lacked all the magic and all the special vibes that BRS 1 “Symphony Of A Memory” had so much of. BRS 2 was certainly a much better production than BRS 1 but the songs of the first album stood out for me that it would be impossible not to notice that. 
Ellie Kamphuis sang the majority of songs on the first album and we really were a perfect writing duo. I would send her songs I had written and tailored for her voice and she would add the most amazing melodies and lyrics to it that left me speechless time and again. Unfortunately, a year later or so we had a bit of a fall out and we haven’t really talked ever since. It is often like that and at some point other people come into play and also egos come into play. It is all not new but it was a shame as we did some really good stuff that I am still immensely proud of. 
BRS 2 had none of the spirit of BRS 1. I had a lot of songs for BRS 2 that would have been in a similar kind of vein as BRS 1 but these were rejected at the time by the (then) new main singer. However, we had some amazing tracks on it anyway. “Neverland” with ANDRA ARIADNA on vocals is really great and also the song that LISA RIEGER from HYDRA was singing. A beautiful ballad called Giants“. I really loved that one. 
If I will really convince myself to walk the extra mile again and do a third BRS album, I will have to make sure it captures the spirit of the first record. BRS is very dear to me for a lot of reasons and I am very protective of it.

SR: Yeah, I can tell. You really put a lot of hard work into BLOOD RED SOUL. I remember doing a review of “Symphony Of A Memory” in late 2017. My favourite song was “At The Waters Edge“.

AS: Which was the second song Ellie and I had worked on. On bass was my dear friend LEISL HEATH from EVENTUAL FATE, by the way. A great, great song.

SR: Do you have any plans for WOODLARK in the future?

AS: Well, Woodlark is a different animal. Last summer we brought out the 4th album called “The Ascension” and it was great for what it is. It came together under rather difficult circumstances as I was under heavy stress at the time as I also was in the final stages of producing the second BLOOD RED SOUL album at the time. 
Einar McCarthy did a great job vocals again though as he always does. Well, things have changed dramatically this year and also personally. Einar and his wife had a new baby in the meanwhile and as Covid19 has hit Argentina really hard, they have to deal with a lot of hardships in life now. So WOODLARK is certainly not on top of the priority list now for him. And you can’t blame him for that. Honestly, I don’t know if there will be another album. Einar and I brought out 4 albums with this band and we both have moved on a bit, musically. We know each other since 2008 and we are still great friends and like brothers and this will never change though. We’ve gone through a lot together as friends and bandmates. But as far WOODLARK, I dunno.

SR: What are your main focusses right now?

AS: Well, I still enjoy working on my funeral metal project CRAVE FOR DAWNING. There is still a lot to explore for me in this atmospheric, doom, melancholic kind of vein. I love this sort of music. TREES OF ETERNITY with Aleah Stanbridge was a massive influence for me in that. Also DRACONIAN with Heike Langhans. 
Also I have restarted my electronic synth project and will bring out a second album with it this year. The project is called “Rainbow Walker Project” and in 2017 I had brought out the first record already. 
Another thing I currently do are the TIMESHOCK albums. It is my latest sort of “projects” with some progressive, modern metal instrumental music. It is remotely similar to stuff that Rabea Massaad is doing with TOSKA. So if you like that stuff, there is a good chance you will also like TIMESHOCK. 
Currently I also try to find some new inspirations, something that gives me some sort of a new kick, you know. I can relatively quickly get bored of styles, so every few years I need to discover something new that inspires me. It keeps me alive, creatively speaking. It also helps you to develope and to still make progress as a person and as a musician.

SR: Thank you so much for this interesting chat Achim! 

All the best and stay safe.

AS: You are very welcome! All the best and stay safe too!

 

AXEL RUDI PELL “Sign Of The Times” (2020)

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With a new album out practically every second year, the casual observer could perhaps be forgiven for dubbing Axel Rudi Pell’s musical input as a regular run-of-the-mill job. Those acquainted with the guitar maestro’s work know that is not the case, as “Sign of the Times” clearly demonstrates.

“Sign of the Times” thrives on a template of rough and ready riffage, complimented by signature Pell guitar mastery erupting before a backdrop of substantive keys giving a whiff of 70 rock theater. Once again Johnny Gioeli is behind the microphone doing his formidable best, while the engine room is being operated by upright Volker Krawczak bass and muscular drumming by a certain Bobby Rondinelli.

The songwriting is strong, indicating that Pell lost none of his knack for dishing out quality hard rockers. He certainly knows how to channel the band’s energy into a sound that is raw, disciplined and with no pretense. “Gunfire” is particularly striking, allowing Axel to show of every bit of his magic – expressive and individual. There’s more fun in that department: “Wings of the Storm”, “Into the Fire” and the anthemic title number capture Axel Rudi Pell totally committed to the cause. “Living in a Dream” is the album’s biggest departure, initially anyway, being a reggae inspired rhythm and a nice melody served with it, only to be moulded into chunky rocker soon after.

There’s no need to pretend that this record is ground-breaking, but it is a labour of love that offers consistent quality. Apart from other merits it holds close to its chest, it also serves its purpose of reminding us just how lucky we are for having musicians like Axel Rudi Pell sticking around!

Axel Rudi Pell – Sign Of The Times (SPV Steamhammer)
8/10

ENSIFERUM “Thalassic” (2020)

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It’s been 20 years since Ensiferum went into the studio to record their self-titled debut. While purists would claim that it, and its follow-up, Iron, are their best albums to date – the ones recorded with Jari Mäenpää before he left to focus on Wintersun – the praise they’ve garnered for subsequent records such as From Afar and even 2017’s Two Paths would suggest that these Finns are still gallantly riding the wings of success.

However, if there’s any criticism to befall Ensiferum it’s that, with age, they’ve lost the unadulterated thrashy edge that put them on the radar in the first place. The good news is that Thalassic brings some of that edge back, and they’ve thrown in two new surprises as well. The first is Pekka Montin, their new keyboardist and clean vocalist, who belts out lines like Ronnie James Dio and adds a startling new power metal dimension to proceedings. The second is that Thalassic is Ensiferum’s first concept album, with songs inspired by the history, myths and legends of the sea.

After the obligatory orchestral intro, Rum, Women, Victory rages in with the first of many vocal appearances from Montin while blokes chant about, well, rum, women and victory and breakneck riffs signal Ensiferum’s salute to speed. Andromeda is just as punchy, colliding Ensiferum’s core sound with a catchy chorus that summons Amorphis, while The Defence Of The Sampo dials up the ‘epic’ gauge, chucking out chorus-heavy tales of sea monsters, string-laden bombast and another falsetto hit from Montin. During the slower moments, such as on For Sirens and One With The Sea, Ensiferum run the risk becoming unstuck in a haze of plodding mediocrity. But with a voracious Petri Lindroos continuing his critical harsh vocal role and an epic closing track that continues the Väinämöinen saga first heard on their debut album, there’s enough of the good stuff to tide the purists along.

8/10

Ensiferum – Thalassic (Metal Blade Records)

UNREQVITED “Empathica”

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“Blackgaze” is a term that immediately disgusts and turns off purists of straight forward, Satan-worshipping, formulaic black metal. The image of modern hipsters wearing skinny jeans while writing black metal in basements is stomach-churning to some who would rather imagine 90’s hipsters wearing skinny jeans while writing black metal in basements. “Blackgaze” is a term openly embraced by Canada’s Unreqvited. Tagged on the project’s new album, Empathica, is the controversial term itself. Additionally, the album is self-described to contain “shimmering blackgaze melodies and grandiose orchestral segments.”

The second part of this description, though, is where the innovation lies. We’ve all heard an album make use of beautiful guitar melodies paired with tremolo picking and relentless drumming, but Unreqvited’s ability to roll symphonic and orchestral elements into the music is quite groundbreaking when experienced on this new LP. ​

The self-described “orchestral segments” don’t even begin to cover these elements. Sure, the opening track is a stand-alone orchestral piece that raises the record to glistening mountain peaks, but these moments don’t stand alone. About 3 minutes into the second track, “Empathica II: Everwinter” we get glossy piano accompanying plucky guitars before a brief pause that dives back into the epic black metal moments. The vocals on this track see little variation, with repeated howls being distant in the mix, lending the song a truly epic and stately presence.

I’m incredibly happy to share that I don’t think this record excels in just one area; with some of Unreqvited’s previous releases, I felt the quieter moments far surpassed the louder. Here, they’re melded together so beautifully that they achieve a harmony and a dissonance. For instance, on “Empathica III: Innocence,” I was on the edge of my seat in the middle of the track. Where I figured the drums would offer a snare fill or tight groove, a looser, Tom-filled moment would occur, and I was very engaged, wondering how and when the crescendo would occur. (I won’t spoil the moment for you).

The rest of the album has the same strengths as these songs, though softer moments are given more space to offer solace. Some particularly fantastic moments that stick out to me are the outro on “Crystal Cascade,” the entirety of “The Permafrost,” and the plucky melody of the final cut, “Dreamer’s Hideaway.”

For all this, along with the fantastically hazy and flexible production, Empathica is a record worthy of its lofty descriptions; it is emotive, free-flowing, and succinct. It doesn’t just balance all its elements— it melts them together into an ethereal journey that it’s album cover accurately reflects with its high peaks and vibrant colors. It’s not your local elitist’s black metal, and it doesn’t want to be.

Unreqvited – Empathica (Northern Silence Production)

8/10

MY DYING BRIDE “The Ghost Of Orion” (2020)

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Gothic doom metal pioneers My Dying Bride return for their fourteenth installment of slow-moving melancholy. Changing moods and styles all while keeping the feeling sad and/or destructive is a masterful constant throughout their existence and The Ghost of Orion is no exception.

Fans of My Dying Bride’s style of dejected doom with a flair for interweaving somber strings within their pessimistic plod will be more than happy with this result. Their excellent songwriting skills and ability to operate as a well-oiled machine is certainly one thing that is very much in their favor.Entering their fourth decade of existence has not made this British body sound any different than in the past. We welcome them in for another stay, hopefully with the warm embrace that this cheerless collective is clearly in need of.

09/10

My Dying Beride – The Ghost Of Orion (Nuclear Blast)

ACHIM SCHREINER “Ruins Of Life” (2020)

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It is almost impossible to catch up with the enormous output of ACHIM SCHREINER in recent years. Last year he released several albums with prog metal band WOODLARK, a new album with symphonic metal act BLOOD RED SOUL, another new one with funeral metal project CRAVE FOR DAWNING and three new albums of his own little side project called TIMESHOCK. Additionally a solo album and now one more. How is this even possible?
If you think with the massive amount of output the quality would suffer you are wrong. Actually the quality seems to continously improve on all these records and he wisely manages to emphasize on different aspects in each of these bands and projects.

“Ruins Of Life” is an album that is a wonderful mix of epic intrumental rock/metal music and often massively branches out into ambient territory. If you are into bands like TOSKA and RABEA MASSAAD in a mix with elements of some ANDY TIMMONS music, you will be spot on here!

The album features 20 songs and each of them is different and not only in its own style and way. But also in sound and playing. You can tell this is a musician who’s at home in various styles and who can melt them together to a cracking and exciting fusion.

My favorite songs are “Ruins Of Life”, “Same Time” and “Too Late”.

Achim plays all guitars, bass and keyboards and occasionally even provides some vocal work. Drums by Lee Steinmetz who seems to be the ideal addition for this.

The albums by Schreiner are real sleepers and hidden gems. If he’d have a broader audience I am sure he would be a lot more popular already.
Who knows maybe this album can help changing that.

9/10

Achim Schreiner – Ruins Of Life (SchreinerMusic Records)

LORDI “Killection” (2020)

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LORDI release their new album ‘Killection’ on 31st January 2020, on AFM Records.

Nobody knows exactly how old the Finish monsters really are or how long they’ve been striking terror into people’s hearts. Officially the Rock/Heavy Metal monsters LORDI were founded in 1992 by lead singer, songwriter, visual art designer and costume designer Mr. Lordi. The band has deep Finnish roots, originating from the city of Rovaniemi, in Lapland. In 2006 they celebrated their international breakthrough by winning the Eurovision Song Contest (“Hard Rock Hallelujah”) They are Finland’s only winners to date and they earned more points than any other artists in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest up to that time.

But is it possible that this is only a pale misperception of our poor, small, pathetic reality? Is there, however unlikely it may seem, another truer reality? What if LORDI would have already been making music since the early 70’s? And what if they have been releasing one hit single after the other since those times and now, almost 50 years later, are looking back on a full
collection of songs that have been successful ever since?

This is exactly the idea that LORDI are celebrating, or maybe a more appropriate word is executing, with their newest studio album “Killection.”. Once more Mr Lordi, the master of the masquerade, presents us with one of his ideas, absurd and genius at the same time, and comes up with a concept that has never been done before in the music industry: “Killection” is a compilation album that simply says “what if” LORDI had been in existence since the early 70’s. It contains all their imaginary hit singles from different periods done with painstaking attention to detail using authentic studios and vintage technology. This is how they would have sounded if LORDI would have made music back then and therefore would have had the hit material to release this compilation now.
This is how Mr. Lordi himself sums it up:
“Killection” is a fictional compilation album. It contains songs that LORDI would have written between the early 70’s through the mid-90’s. The compilation contains one “brand new” song from 2019 as well, cause that’s somehow always typical for compilations.”

Everything unclear now? Excellent!, ’cause LORDI are taking this very, very seriously. To make this fictional compilation as authentic as possible, the band has mentally travelled back through the different decades to get every track sounding as authentic for the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s as possible.
Mr. Lordi: “The songs from the 70’s are not in any way modern Metal songs – they sound dirtier, less polished and more rock and roll…well, like they should.”
To recreate the sound as closely as possible, LORDI have recorded the songs from different eras in different studios, with a variety of instruments and using different recording processes as if they were actually making a record back in the day. Seven different studios throughout Finland were utilized.

We rented original instruments and amps from those times to make sure we could really record everything as authentically as possible,” Mr. Lordi says. “The songs from the 70’s were recorded analogue on 24 track tape. And we used real Hammond organs to create the keyboard sounds to fit the era. It was great fun to do all that and also to gather up together in a studio at the same time to do the analogue recordings. It was challenging and rewarding at the same time. If you make a mistake, you will hear it on the album, as simple as it is.”

It was only for the mastering process that the monsters entered the modern era by using the same studio to master all songs – as a real compilation would be, of course. Once again the mastering was done by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios Helsinki.

No doubt, “Killection” the tenth album in the band’s history, has turned out to be the most extraordinary and most varied album so far. Next to Rock songs from the early 70’s (“Blow My Fuse”) the record contains a disco song from 1979 (“Zombimbo”) as well as some typically 80’s party Rock hymns (“Up To No Good”, “Cutterfly”). “In the 80’s, lyrically everything had to do with rebellion and standing up against authorities,” Mr. Lordi explains about his journey through the music decades.
“All the bands and artists proclaimed they were loud and rebellious in their songs. Of
course we’ve used this message in our songs from that era as well
.”

In this musical journey, “Killection” delivers LORDI-typical monster horror lyrics. The lyrical content has never changed over the years. LORDI’s line up in contrast to that did: “Killection” is the premiere for Hiisi, the new monster behind the bass who is replacing Ox. Ox left the band at the beginning of the year. Hiisi comes from Finish folklore, and he looks like a creepy lizard. “In Finish mythology Hiisi is a bad demon living in waters and forests.”

8/10

LORDI – Killection (AFM Records)

TEMPERANCE “Viridian” (2020)

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Firmly entrenched in the melodic modern metal scene, Temperance made a bold impression expanding as a vocal triad for their fourth studio album Of Jupiter and Moons. Now having the time to assimilate their talents on the road a bit more, the follow-up Viridian showcases a quintet that confidently wants to go in varied angles with the songwriting and performances, while keeping things on an organic level so as to keep the material as authentic as possible.

Right away the pulsating dance-like groove and futuristic lyrical content for “Mission Impossible” certainly gives off an Amaranthe-ish atmosphere, the guitars and drums slamming in unison with a staccato-like charm. The follow-up “I Am the Fire” maintains a bit of a brighter, melodic power stance – the tradeoffs vocally between Michele Guaitoli, Alessia Scolletti and guitarist Marco Pastorino heightening the main hooks, and when they choose to harmonize for the chorus it’s intense and infectious. Music-wise Temperance choose to be more adventurous in terms of versatility – they add everything from natural organ strains on “Start Another Round” which harkens 70’s Deep Purple/Uriah Heep influences, while “Nanook” has those Middle Ages/folk-ish nuances for an epic, the acoustic to electric spirit adventurous against the woodwind/violin strains. At times the band also venture into heavier terrain – the title track and “The Cult of Mystery” developing crunchy and lower-tuned riffs that allow the vocalists to float in and out at their widest ranges and fill the aural landscape with cascading shapes and colors to fit the atmosphere and attitude the songs portray. Closing the record on a church-like hymn for “Catch the Dream” where handclaps and children choirs command your attention, it’s evident that Temperance leave nothing to chance in their willingness to go where their creative muse takes them – focused on massive melodies and hooks song to song.

When other bands may zag into watered-down commercial pastures, Temperance with Viridian serve up a record that emphasizes the great vocal and musical talent this quintet possesses. Proof that you can be dynamic, heavy, modern, and catchy all in a cohesive package – and should make the band move up the ranks a bit more as a result.
8/10

Temperance – Viridian (Napalm Records)