Former Fates Warning guitarist launches new band Freedom’s Reign

May 1, 2013 –

freedoms-reign-freedoms-reignOn the 29th anniversary of Fates Warning’s classic debut album, Night on Bröcken, original guitarist and founding member Victor Arduini releases the debut of his new band, Freedoms Reign.

Known for intricate arrangements and the type of speed metal, progressive metal, American heavy metal and power metal mixture that has delighted audiences around the globe and continues to be the mainstay of most bands that make it big, regardless of surface genre or marketing names. This style provides maximum musicality with enough speed thrills to keep people engaged, but without allowing songwriting to be absorbed in technique or intensity.

Freedoms Reign retains Arduini’s “original, charismatic and unmistakable” style of playing guitar and injects into American style high-energy heavy metal a classic Ozzy/Black Sabbath flavor. If it is consistent with his work in Fates Warning, expect an underlying melodic basis to the music much as in Mercyful Fate, but this will be understyled and emerge in either vocals or guitar but not aim for the harmonic effects of European bands as frequently.

Besides Arduini (guitar/vocals) , FREEDOM’S REIGN also consists of Tommy Vumback (Guitars), Michael Jones (Bass) and Chris Judge (Drums). Freedoms Reign was recorded in Dexters Lab Recording in Milford, Connecticut with Nick Belmore (TOXIC HOLOCAUST) and will be released on iconic heavy metal label Cruz Del Sur Records.

The label is taking pre-orders now at this location.

After Death – Retronomicon

April 28, 2013 –

after_death-retronomiconRetronomicon compiles the demos and EP of After Death, the band Mike Browning formed as a replacement for Nocturnus as Nocturnus A.D., and then renamed to avoid confusion with the other version of Nocturnus that resurrected itself briefly in the 2000s.

While the roots of After Death are in death metal, the majority of this music is epic heavy metal or what would be called power metal at this point. It uses heavy metal riffs, has a melodic sense similar to that of later Budgie, and has a theatrical atmosphere like more recent Therion.

Most importantly, the rhythms and the way riffs fit together are not in the death metal style, but sort of like a “dinner theatre” version of heavy metal. These riffs are closer to leitmotifs than motifs, meaning that they reflect characters or themes of a developing drama directly, rather than conveying changes in overall mood as they do in regular death metal. Add to this groove and bouncy rhythms and what comes out is radio-friendly heavy metal with some death riffs and an occult vibe.

Retronomicon features odd vocals of wide-ranging sounds, some seemingly demonic processed voices, others like children or wailing women, and some in the death growl. This and the tendency to make very theatrical combinations of riffs give this music an otherworldly feel. Add to that the active keyboards that highlight riffs and also provide contrary motions and textures, and the result is the kind of subversively imaginative and esoteric musical pathway that Marilyn Manson and others could barely dream of.

It’s unfortunate radio metal did not go in this way rather than the more mundane ways that it did, but if After Death want to go mainstream, they’ll have to be a bit more consistently intense and emotional. People like simple because they’re generally distracted when listening. This music may be a bit beyond most because it requires an attention span, but it’s strikingly beautiful and multifaceted. The Nocturnus influence can clearly be heard in temp changes and the decision points before the conclusions of songs.

This will not be for everyone. Most death metal fans will be turned off by the aesthetics; Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Ministry, Therion, et al. fans may be turned off by how rough and ambiguous much of this is. However, both groups should attend to this interesting musical pathway that could well be the most subversive and occult thing ever to visit radio.

Eternal Rest – Prophetic

eternal_rest-propheticThis upcoming death metal band tries to explore the style that Immolation developed on Harnessing Ruin but give it additional forward force with war-metal-styled ripping fast phrasal riffs and battle-style percussion attacking in clusters of quick notes. What distinguishes this band is the inventiveness of its riffs and the ferocity of its attack.

Prophetic as a result carries through the intensity of death metal but imports many additions from both older speed metal, and modern metal. Vocals lead the riffs, giving the music a sense of uniformity interrupted by bursts of activity. Drums tend to blast or make textures out of alternating blasts and slower material. Songs often drop from a frenzy into a mid-paced death metal rhythmic harbor in which the band injects slowly played, resonant melodies.

Eternal Rest presents a strong compositional voice, and in many ways, this is what they work against; their language of songwriting is so clear and their ability to craft riffs so powerful that sometimes it swallows up everything else and thus songs seem like extensions of one another. Many riffs descend from the speed metal technique, like a more aggressive Exhorder or Exodus, but others are straight death metal and often quite inventive. The use of gentler melodies to balance the extended periods of furious blasting breaks up any grip on the sound any particular technique has.

Much like later Immolation, Prophetic shows us a band trying to find a way to merge high-intensity death metal with a mellower, almost doom-influenced melodic influence. Eternal Rest achieve this quite handily and throw out some powerful riffs besides. While the vocals may not be strong enough for traditional death metal, and the frenetic tendency may be too modern metal for some, the promise of this band is in its ability to create a mood on two levels of intensity and support each with the other.

Sadistic Intent prepares “Reawakening Horrid Thoughts”

sadistic_intent-reawakening_horrid_thoughtsLong-dormant old school death metal band Sadistic Intent, whose members toured with the resuscitated Possessed during the resurrection of that august act, now prepares to release its first new material in many years.

Legendary for its 1990s material in the style of Slayer or Morbid Angel, the band continues in this style with three new songs which are being billed as “the unholy return of Sadistic Intent.” True to form, they will be released on 10″ vinyl from Iron Pegazus records.

Reawakening Horrid Thoughts could be crucial to getting Sadistic Intent material back into print, since the band’s prior releases, Resurrection and Ancient Black Earth, are out of print and the former is a re-release of earlier out-of-print material. If this attracts an audience, the band may be able to re-release compiled material so that new generations can appreciate this classic act.

Bands that keep making the same album but do it well

unleashed-where_no_life_dwellsAlthough AC/DC and Motorhead have been putting out basically the same album over and over for 30 years, fans of these two bands never blamed them for not being different.

Instead the audience continues to cherish this phenomenon, as this straightforward, wild and raw music style is the trademark of these bands. Risen from rock music and propelled by underground metal, this kind of music stands for the desire of liberation, freedom and simplicity in this plastic world. It will never go out of time.

In the realm of death metal, there is a band which greatly influenced by AC/DC and Motorhead also has a constant style of music. This band is Unleashed.

Unleashed was formed after the disbanding of Nihilist. Unlike the other key figures Entombed and Carnage whose members were in Nihilist, Unleashed brought the roadhouse rock style of AC/DC and Motorhead into death metal. However as a death metal band, Unleashed has more creative ideas than the old classics. You can tell that by just looking at the names and covers of their albums, each one is as exciting to look forward to as a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The scent of fighting in their music also demonstrates that death metal ponders on our existences in world.

The mystic and adventurous sense of Unleashed comes from the extension of the typical “verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus” structure the phrasal riffs of death metal. Under an emphasized theme, each phrasal riff acts like a puzzle and combine into an epic scenery. Therefore Unleashed’s musics are richer and more narrative comparing to AC/DC and Motorhead (Before the Victory which completely lost all apprehension of mysticism). To the fans of AC/CD, Motorhead who also enjoy underground metal, do not miss Unleashed.

Translated from this post.

Last Burzum metal recording ever

April 27, 2013 –

burzumBurzum composer Varg Vikernes has posted a “goodbye” to his old self as a metal composer and in a sentimental posting, announced his retirement from metal and his intent to pursue ambient music alone.

Burzum appeared from nowhere in 1991 with a demo tape made up of a dozen guitars-and-bass-only tracks in rehearsal quality. I made a few more or less successful metal albums, but they all always included at least some ambient music. With time I moved further and further away from metal, and today only the ambient music remains. Today (2013) I think I am done playing metal music for good.

Many of you followed Burzum through the years, some even from the beginning, and I think metal-Burzum deserves a proper “good bye”. So, just like I started out I will finish metal-Burzum with a guitars-and-bass-only track in rehearsal quality. “Back to the Shadows” is made up of the last metal riffs I ever made (in 2012). It was never released in any way, or recorded (beyond what you hear here), and it will not either — beyond this short “video”.

Take it for what it is; a sentimental good bye to metal-Burzum.

The music is playing with an image of the 17 year-old me, taken from the time when some of the first Burzum tracks were made. You can see this track as a good bye to that fellow too.

For those of us who have been watching Burzum and Vikernes over the years, this is a welcome development. Heavy metal is beautiful but it will always be attached to popular conceptions of entertainment. Ambient music, especially complex material, gets treated as culture.

While we hope to change that perception of metal and to have it be studied as art and part of culture, that’s an uphill battle when the fans routinely rush to gimmick bands and depthless clones in a hope to be part of the next popular trend.

Either way, this bodes well for more interesting compositions in Burzum’s future.

Iced Earth announce new album “Plagues of Babylon”

April 26, 2013 –

iced_earth-live_in_ancient_kourionPower metal is a sub-genre composed of aggregates. The most basic definition of it is heavy metal catching up with speed metal and (sometimes) death metal. There are variants within that.

For example, there’s the Blind Guardian fusion of inspirational rock, speed metal, death metal technique, glam metal and heavy metal that forms one branch. Then there’s Helstar, who sound like Iron Maiden meets Slayer. And on the far side, there’s Iced Earth, which sounds like really advanced speed metal.

Plagues of Babylon is to be Iced Earth’s latest album. Frontman Jon Schaffer describes the release as having a “late 2013″ touch-down date, and being “something very special” and that he is “very excited about how killer things are sounding this early in the writing/demo process.”

Iced Earth is coming off the release of Live in Ancient Kourion, a CD/DVD of a recording of a 2.5 hour show in a 6,000 year old amphitheater on the island of Cyprus. In support of this and other past work, the band is touring Europe this summer.

The tracklist for Plagues of Babylon was announced by Schaffer as follows:

1. Plagues of Babylon
2. Democide
3. Among The Living Dead
4. The Resistance
5. If I Could See You
6. Peacemaker
7. Cthulhu
8. Parasite

Iced Earth will be appearing at numerous festivals and a full range of European dates this summer. Catch them at the following locations:

ICED EARTH – summer festivals 2013:

  • 6.20.2013 – GER Sankt – Goarshausen Metalfest
  • 6.21.2013 – NED Dokkum – Dokkem Open Air
  • 6.22.2013 – GER Dischingen – Rock am Härtsfeldsee
  • 7.12.2013 – GER Ballenstedt – Rock Harz Open Air
  • 7.13.2013 – GER Balingen – Bang Your Head Festival
  • 7.25.2013 – SLO Tolmin – Metaldays
  • 7.27.2013 – GER Obersinn – Eisenwahn Festival
  • 8.8.2013 – SWE Gävle – Getaway Rock Festival
  • 8.10.2013 – POR Quinta do Ega, Vagos – Vagos Open Air

ICED EARTH – European Tour 2014:

  • 1.9.2014 – GER Saarbrücken – Garage
  • 1.10.2014 – NED Hengelo – Metropol
  • 1.11.2014 – BEL Antwerp – Trix
  • 1.12.2014 – GBR Birmingham – O2 Academy
  • 1.13.2014 – IRE Dublin – Button Factory
  • 1.14.2014 – GBR London – O2 Academy Islington
  • 1.15.2014 – FRA Paris – Le Trabendo
  • 1.17.2014 – ESP Madrid – Sala Caracol
  • 1.19.2014 – ESP Valencia – Rock City
  • 1.20.2014 – ESP Barcelona – Razzmatazz 2
  • 1.22.2014 – SWI Pratteln – Z7
  • 1.23.2014 – ITA Romagnano – Rock ‘n’ Roll Arena
  • 1.24.2014 – SLO Ljubljana – Kino Siska
  • 1.25.2014 – CRO Zagreb – Pogon Jedinstvo
  • 1.26.2014 – BIH Sarajevo – Club Sloga
  • 1.28.2014 – ROM Bucarest – Juke Box
  • 1.29.2014 – TUR Istanbul – Kucukciftlik Park
  • 1.31.2014 – GRE Athens – Gagarin 205
  • 2.1.2014 – GRE Thessaloniki – Principal Club
  • 2.2.2014 – BUL Sofia – Mixtape 5
  • 2.4.2014 – SER Belgrade – Dom Omladine
  • 2.5.2014 – HUN Budapest – Club 202
  • 2.7.2014 – GER Nürnberg – Rockfabrik
  • 2.8.2014 – TCH Zlin – Masters Of Rock
  • 2.9.2014 – GER München – Backstage Werk
  • 2.11.2014 – GER Berlin – Astra
  • 2.12.2014 – GER Köln – Essigfabrik
  • 2.13.2014 – GER Bochum – Zeche
  • 2.14.2014 – GER Osnabrück – Rosenhof
  • 2.15.2014 – GER Hamburg – Markthalle
  • 2.16.2014 – DEN Copenhagen – Vega
  • 2.18.2014 – SWE Gothenburg – Sticky Fingers
  • 2.19.2014 – SWE Stockholm – Debaser Medis
  • 2.22.2014 – ISR Tel Aviv – Reading 3

Zombiefication – At the Caves of Eternal

zombiefication-at_the_caves_of_eternalZombiefication incorporate many styles into their old school styled death metal but their ultimate forte is melodic death metal in the style made popular by early Necrophobic or Unanimated.

This band contributed a track to the Cenotaph tribute album and it’s hard not to think of the second and third Cenotaph albums which used the stylistic span between At the Gates and Therion’s Lepaca Kliffoth. In addition, Zombiefication use riffs much like early Amorphis, if Amorphis were interested in single-string picking of quick melodies.

Not all is old school however. At the Caves of Eternal features vocals that might be more at place on later At the Gates or The Haunted albums. They are nearly monotonic and do not vary style or inflection between songs, which gives them a consistency that breaks from the death metal tradition that all instruments labor toward the same effect. Drumming is more modern as well, with a jazz-fusion influence that is understated but prevalent. In addition, many of the leads follow more of a rock sense of theme and balance than the metal goal of high intensity chaos forming order despite itself.

At the Caves of Eternal uses the melodic death metal style effectively across this album, with the songs clustered near beginning and end having the most punch. If it has a fault, it is not stylistic, but in substance; the emotions and approach do not seem to vary between songs, making them variations on a theme that may be entirely musical. However, if you want to revive the old school melodic style, this album presents a potent option.

Burzum – Sôl austan, Mâni vestan preview

burzum-sol_austan_mani_vestanThe latest album from Norwegian one-man black metal/dark ambient band Burzum will be entitled Sôl austan, Mâni vestan (East of the Sun, West of the Moon) and will be released in coming months on the Peaceville sub-label Byelobog.

According to the press release authored by Varg Vikernes, this album will be like the other Burzum albums a concept album.

Sôl austan, Mâni vestan is near release but as of this morning samples were released, and the following teaser video combines visual and sound to reveal what to expect on this forthcoming work. Like the previous Burzum albums, it features use layered sampled sounds and keyboards, including some tribal drums, but without the constant percussion of modern pop.

Comparing it to Tangerine Dream, Vikernes described the new album as “relaxing, slow-paced, contemplative and very much original.” The topic on this one is said to be the “Pagan religious-spiritual concept of a descent into darkness and the follwoing ascend back into the light; the Pagan initiation, the elevation of man to the divine, the enlightenment of the mind, the feeding of the elven light in man.”

Why metal riffs delight us

April 24, 2013 –

hedge-labyrinthWhy is metal riff-crazy? These twisted little quasi-melodies of sliding power chords, notes and harmonics are tiny puzzles for our brains. Now science hints at why metal loves them.

Apparently, our brains love guessing what’s next in music, and perceive an intense sensation of reward if they guess correctly. For all those who identified metal’s riff-salad as a “puzzle,” you win a prize.

Like the labyrinths to which they are frequently compared, metal songs create a prediction game within the brain and cause an explosion of neural activity in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This tiny wad of cells, which sits in the pleasure/reward center of the brain, gives us a throbbing blast of “reward” every time we play the guess-where-this-riff-goes game.

Both metal and classical play this game. They specialize in intense repetition of certain phrases, but unlike rock music, the repeated phrases do not necessarily lead to the same conclusions, and in fact alter their destinations and form throughout the work. This keeps the guessing game intense and, while we’re distracted with the riffology, shows a change in themes, which if themes are metaphorical, shows a learning process by whatever protagonist may be inferred from the work.

Musicologists have often wondered at the tendency of metal fans and classical fans to be more devoted and to be more likely to enjoy the music over the course of life itself than your average rock or pop fan. In fact, the similarities between metal and classical frequently emerge among those who take their music very seriously. Could it be they’re simply getting a higher sense of reward from the riff-puzzle and its tendency toward non-repetitive repetition than they are from the relatively straightforward repetition of other styles?