Tag Archives: Power Metal

Very Metal “Thor The Dark World” teaser poster drops

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So, when did Thor join Sabaton?  Just wondering.

The second cinematic adventure for the exquisitely coiffured son of Odin will be with us in November, and to whet your proverbial whistle for Tuesday’s teaser trailer, here’s a Marvel-supplied poster of the Norse God bringing his own, oddly-accented brand of thunder and bad assery.

As the first “Thor” outing was probably my favourite of the stand-alone “Phase One” series of Marvel films, I’m truly on board for what the House of Ideas’ cinematic brains trust delivers with this movie, even if I’m going to miss original director Kenneth Branagh’s love of a ‘Dutch’ angle.

Still, most of the other principals are back, Christopher Eccleston is bringing his own brand of Mancunian melancholy to the villain role and it’s being helmed by a regular “Game of Thrones” director (I suspect that there’s rather less scope here, however,  for non-stop pillaging, politicking and the other less salubrious fantasy stuff for which that HBO show is becoming increasingly famed…).

I expect good things…

 

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Sabaton/Eluveitie/Wisdom, Corporation, Sheffield, 11/11/2012 live review…

Corp! Not pictured, my freezing extremities, suffering whilst waiting outside last night.

I must apologise to Hungarian Power Metal chaps Wisdom, whose show I didn’t really get to see on Sunday night in Sheffield – due to pressing telecommunications issues which would not be denied, I was late to the gig and heard a slab of their set from outside the venue.  The Maiden cover, “Wasted Years” sounded chunky and faithful through the walls and the eponymous “Wisdom” and “Judas” seemed riffy and well-played slices of chugging traditional metal – the already decently sized crowd seemed to be enjoying what they saw.

Some brief set dismantling and roadie magic later, the Swiss Folk Metal onslaught of Eluveitie was amongst us and the band turned limited space to their advantage – Corporation’s stage isn’t massive at the best of times, and with eight band members on stage that bijou performance area was stretched to its limits.

The perfect soundtrack to your next medieval battle – Eluveitie

The band had never played in my city before, as singer/whistle/bandola/bagpipe  player Chrigel Glanzmann informed us, and I suspect walked away with more than a few new fans as they were pretty phenomenal live – the traditional metal attack which you might expect married seamlessly to folk instrumentation and impassioned vocals of the harsh and clean persuasions from Chrigel and Anna Murphy respectively.

I’m most familiar with their recent “Helvetios” album, so I got to hear a smattering of songs from that record to appreciate as well as material from their back catalogue – the gig was very much a case of being interested in the band before going to see them live and being wholly won over by their performance thereafter.  Am I a new fan of this band?  Very much so.  Just a cursory hearing of their glorious, Celtic-inspired, stirring sound is sufficient to inspire thoughts of painting your face with woad, donning furs and a kilt and setting about tyrannical land owners with a sturdy club.

Ahem.

Not that Sabaton don’t inspire similar feelings – the Swedish band have recently undergone a fairly major line-up change around the release of their recent “Carolus Rex” set but haven’t let this shift in personnel unduly affect their splendidly self-aware live show.  New members were integrated well into the gig, with lead guitarist Tobbe Englund’s accidental discovery of a kitschy knick-knack secreted above the Corporation main stage providing an accidental comic highlight in the show – it’s the humour of this band and singer Joachim Broden’s chipper, off-the-cuff stage banter which mark them apart from their other contemporaries in the upbeat, fast-paced Power Metal sub-genre.

It’s important to state that the Corporation crowd LOVED this band.  From the moment that the lights went down and Sabaton’s intro tape – fellow Swedish rock titans Europe’s classic “The Final Countdown” played in full (!) – erupted through the PA, the audience was here to see one band and shortly thereafter the roars of “SABATON! SABATON! SABATON!” filled the room and didn’t stop for the rest of the night.  If there was a moment of silence between songs, that chant seemingly started up again and Joachim’s face was plastered with a massive, cheesy grin.

Sabaton – for the glory of Sweden!

South Yorkshire loves a bit of proper, fist-pumping, 100 miles-an-hour, head-banging metal mania and as Sabaton’s catalogue is mostly composed of peerless examples of same, they were bound to go over like ice cream on a blazingly hot day.  If the band had a more vocal crowd on their UK tour than this one, I’d be surprised.

What’s as remarkable as the overwhelmingly powerful reaction to the band is the fact that Sabaton’s overriding lyrical theme is war, battles, soldiers and conflict – real ‘Boy’s Own’ glory, honour and valour stuff – and yet the material never gets distasteful, jingoistic, objectionable or reactionary, which for a gig which occurred on Remembrance Sunday felt quite important.

Any gig where you learn about the secret Swedish plan for global domination (Those IKEA warehouses? Pro-Tip? Lovely homes for battalions of tanks), get to hum along to a few bars of “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” by Abba and bellow out the chorus of the band’s anthemic “Primo Victoria” on a chilly Sunday evening is my definition of a fun time.

To paraphrase a certain Matthew Broderick/John Hughes classic of the 1980’s, if you get the opportunity to purchase Sabaton tickets, I highly recommend picking them up.

 

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Sabaton? Eluveitie? Wisdom? Oh My…

Yes, I’m off to see a gig – entry-level image manipulation courtesy of Paint.Net

Hark at me with my beginner’s level image manipulation skills!  I’m off to see Sweden’s finest lovable Power Metal loons Sabaton at Sheffield’s Corporation tonight – I’ll probably be the guy in the Delain shirt.  Be sure and say “Hi!” – and their ready, willing and able tour mates Swiss Pagan Metal folks Eluveitie and Polish Trad Metal dudes Wisdom.

Expect a noisy time to be had by all and ear-plugs to be firmly stuffed in-ear by anybody over the age of 35 once things get going.  A report will be with soon, I imagine.

Two gigs in a week- surely some mistake?

 

 

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New Avantasia? Don’t mind if I do…

 

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In news calculated to bring joy to the hearts of all Power Metal fans on this Tuesday afternoon, Edguy and Avantasia frontman Tobias Sammet has announced that his side project will be releasing a new record in 2013.

Yes, yes and – if you will – YES!

Whilst you wait for a chance to hear Tobias’ new stuff, why not check out a video of the band’s performance at the 2011 Wacken festival, with bonus Amanda Somerville on backing vocals for the proverbial win?

 

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Fluffrick’s Half-Year Hitters

The best thing that Delain have done to date? I should say so…

Inspired by Angry Metal Guy’s list, and because everybody loves a top ten (no matter how arbitrary they end up being), here’s my selection of the best records in 2012 so far.   I can’t really say that anything which I’ve picked up has been a massive disappointment, and I’ve even found a band in the form of Diabulus In Musica who I totally adore and had never heard of before taking a chance on their second release.  Excellent returns from old-hands, convincing albums from established Euro Metal acts and cracking debut collections – you can’t say fairer than that from a year, can you?

1) Delain“We Are The Others”.  Clearly the best album this gifted Dutch symphonic metal quintet have released so far – as much for the ways that it diverts from the established musical template of that genre whilst still retaining their identity.  It’s the kind of record with enough diversity that your favourite song will change with each listening session – for me, the late-album track “Are You Done With Me?” is an alternate universe smash hit, but “I Want You” is also a genius slab of knowingly overwrought, sweeping metal balladry whose lyrics take a delicious, twisted about face in the last minute or two.

2) Luca Turilli‘s Rhapsody“Ascending to Infinity”.  Face-melting operatic insanity from the former Rhapsody of Fire guitarist.  The soundtrack to movies not yet made, with a lovely cover of the Alessandro Safina opera/pop crossover hit, “Luna”, which somehow perfectly fits in with the neo-classical influence and metal flourishes evident elsewhere.

3) Epica“Requiem for the Indifferent”.  Confident, seemingly effortlessly melodic symphonic goodness from Simone Simons and co – but with the underpinning, genuinely metallic riffing and musicianship which carves the band out a distinctive place of their own amidst the multitude of European bands playing in a similar musical field.  This is a record which I’ll be returning to repeatedly in the months to come, ahead of the band’s UK tour at the end of 2012.

4) Van Halen“A Different Kind of Truth”.  I was an early doubter of this legendarily fractious band’s ability to bounce back, record a record and tour it without something bad happening.  Thankfully, that doubt is more than eclipsed by the quality of this album – it might be a selection of reworked seventies cuts which never made it onto studio records first time around, but the end release is classic Van Halen.  End of debate, I guess.  The proof’s in the likes of “Blood and Fire”, “She’s The Woman” and “Stay Frosty” – all evidence that the VH you know and love still has it.

Another band I’m seeing live this year – I see a pattern forming…

5) Firewind – “Few Against Many”.  A departure from Firewind’s expected Power Metal sound, introducing 70’s hard rock influences into the mix and doing it without sacrificing the riffs and splendid solos that you want from guitar genius, Gus G.

6) SabatonCarolus Rex.  Sweden’s finest purveyors of fist-pumping, martial tunes about war and gubbins head way back into Swedish history for a tale of divine presumption, flawed military campaigns and good old-fashioned hubris married to some of the best tunes they’ve ever written.  All that and inter-band strife which led to the group splintering and taking on a new rhythm section and guitarists right as the record released.  For my money – currently £5.00 and coffee stamp card for the local java palace – “Lion From The North” is the best damn thing that they’ve recorded yet.  I look forward to seeing Joakim and co. pile drive it into the faces of the faithful at their Sheffield show in November…

7) Lacuna Coil“Dark Adrenaline”.  Many fans were split on the merits of Lacuna Coil’s fifth album, Shallow Life.  I wasn’t one of those who didn’t care for it (There’s some classic tunes on there – “I Won’t Tell You”, “Underdog”, “The Pain”) but I think that most fans will agree that Lacuna Coil’s 2012 record is a genuine monster of an album – not that these things count, but it’s been the highest charting release in their career in many countries.   Sleek, modern production makes the likes of “Against You” and “Tell Me Something More” sound impressively huge and expansive – a progressive and contemporary sounding record which skilfully integrates their electronic underpinnings with fantastic, gut-punching riffs and solos.  Modern Metal for the discerning?  I should say so.

8) Halestorm  –“The Strange Case Of…”.  I’m inclined to say that this is the closest thing that this list will get to provoking controversy, as in some corners this band is very much persona non grata – a radio-friendly US rock quartet led by noted spell-check confoundress, Lzzy Hale whose tunes have been tearing up US radio and sneaking into “Glee”, just for the hell of it.  There’s no doubt that they have their detractors, but I’m not one of them and I’m pretty sure that this record is a quantum jump forward from their debut album.

That wasn’t a terrible record by any sensible application of the term, but it pales in comparison to this record – go and listen to “American Boys” or “I Miss The Misery” and be hooked by the riffs, Lzzy’s voice – which goes from zero to ‘whisky-soaked, bar-room fight starting hellion’ in five seconds flat.    Not Metal, but bloody magnificent.

9) Diabulus in Musica“The Wanderer”.  This appallingly photogenic band of Spanish symphonic metallers are one of the few bands with the ‘beauty & the beast’ vocal divergence that I can get behind without feeling slightly as though I’m being growled and simpered at by a sugar-deprived Cookie Monster and his mate, Dame Olivia Von Divason.  The symphonic synths, galloping guitars and dark operatic vocals on “Ex Nihilo” make for some of my favourite tunes of the year – in fact, it may be my favourite trad metal song of 2012.  UK shows, please!

10) End of September – Self-titled.  One of the bands that I’ve discovered through a review in the UK’s “Power Play” rock magazine, and a genuinely nice surprise.  Hailing from Sweden and straddling the middle ground between Delain, contemporary Within Temptation and, say, Kamelot, End of September have a female vocalist in Elin Redin who doesn’t go for operatic flourishes but a soulful, distinctive and plaintive tone which serves the band excellently.  If you love your rock big, dramatic but not veering into the full-on metal attack of many groups in this top ten, End of September are a band that you’ll definitely want to listen out for.  Their single “Isolated” is a great indicator of their sound – if you like that, you’ll love their album.

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When Gulls Cry – Power Metal Album Artwork of the Day

Stratovarius are Finnish and have been a going concern since 1984 (or 1982, if you include their previous incarnation, Black Water).  They’ve released 14 studio albums and a live record.  And they’re quite fond of the Avian community.

No dragons? No swords? What gives?

This is fantasy artwork of a type that I can really get behind – the signature Stratovarius spaceship rendered delightfully by artist Gyula Havancsak amidst an idyllic lagoon, as a cyber-gull type-dude gives it some ‘once I caught a fish THIS big’ in the foreground.

At least, that’s how I read it, anyway – I never was top of my class in ‘Album Art Appreciation’ at Pseud’s College.

As an image, it’s a nice departure from the stuff of many Metal records – perhaps owing to the band’s slightly more progressive influences?  You can easily see this kind of art subbing in for the Roger Dean designed Yes album covers without it being too jarring a transition.

If this cover has piqued your interest, why not check out a live version of their song “Under Flaming Skies” at their label EarMusic‘s YouTube channel…

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Mind-Boggling, Taste-Challenging Power Metal Album Artwork of the Day

Catchy title, huh?  I feel a series coming on – because, if you love Metal (and particularly the ‘Power Metalsub-genre), there’s no shortage of album artwork which can bemuse, confound and delight in equal measure.

I’m going to start this feature with German band Axxis and their 2004 release, Time Machine.

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Yes, quite.

Axxis like their fantasy/sci-fi artwork and this album art somehow manages to evoke their blend of overblown, fashion eschewing, old school power metal merely via the medium of judicious photoshop and much cheese consumption (literal and figurative).  I’m not sure that we require a leather-clad brunette to get the point, much less one who appears to be in the throes of what appears to be a very painful back spasm.  Further scrutiny of this in-no-way phallic imagery will almost certainly challenge this blog’s self-appointed PG rating, so there we must end things, lest unpleasantness set in.

Suffice is to say that Feminism has not yet made it to Axxis’ in-tray, much less their ‘things we perhaps should action promptly’ list.

That said, the music is pretty keen if you like your metal European, endlessly redolent of the Wacken festival and delivered by men with intriguing facial hair.  The stand-out track on this album for me is “The Demons Are Calling”, which fills my ‘20,000 miles an hour’ riff quotient quite nicely – whether your grin is derived of pity or geeky recognition, it’s almost certain that you’ll have a smile on your face when you listen to it.

Tomorrow – more things of an equally geeky stature, possibly with dragons and/or spaceships.  You know how we roll…

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