Thursday, 21 July 2011

Unsigned Review: Windfaerer (New Jersey)


M. Gonçalves – (Vocals, Guitars, Bass)
JP Andrade – (Drums)
Valček – (Violin)

New World, New Jersey

Black/Folk Metal

You'll like this if you like:

Current Release:

Black metal takes its influences from everything that surrounds it; people, places, landscapes and culture. It is ‘locally grown’ music, and the type of black metal played tends to vary from country to country. For example, Nachtmystium are inherently black metal, however their themes of violence and drug taking are in keeping with their US heritage. The Norwegian bands like Mayhem and Burzum however talk strongly of religion, persecution and nature; influenced by living a cold, mountainous and extremely Christian part of the world.

Windfaerer is the vision of M. Gonçalves who is heavily influenced by his Luso-Hispanic heritage, and has been inspired by the history, myths and landscapes of the Iberian Peninsula (see, i bet you wished you listened to your geography teacher now). This means ‘Tribus’ is a very personal record, and it is clear that great love and attention to detail has been taken over it. The folk elements stalk away in the background, creating an enchanting atmosphere. It is nice to see a black metal band who hasn’t gone down the ‘i love Satan’ route, and Windfaerer have gained more respect because of it. The production is spectacular, and if you listened to this with the bass turned up it shakes your house off its foundations. ‘Tribus’ is a triumph not just for black metal, or underground metal for that, it is a triumph for M. Gonçalves and his loving interpretation of his heritage.

Rating 5/5


Unsigned Review: Aperion (Slovenia)


Zala Hodnik (Vocals)
Crt Birsa (Guitar, Vocals)
Dani Telebar (Bass)
Nejc Kola (Drums)
Martin Bezjak (Viola)
Samo Dervisic (Cello)
Tinka Muha (Flute)
Ziga Birsa (Didgeridoo)


Folk/Power Metal

You'll like this if you like:

Current Release:
‘Act of Hybris’ 2010

Female fronted metal bands are so prevalent these days that one could almost say that quality has been lost to quantity. With bands such as Nightwish dominating the scene, it can be difficult for bands of a similar sound to get noticed. Aperion are odd combination of folk and symphonic metal, the product of a band trying to stand out in an already saturated genre.

With eight band members and a Didgeridoo, one could accuse Aperion of trying too hard to stand out. However, even though their sound isn’t mature yet there is a definite spark of promise. The vocals are sublime and are one of the reasons their latest release ‘Act of Hybris’ stands out. The production is very impressive, although there are times when the sound of the viola and flute overpower the rest of the sound. Also, the combination of folk and symphonic doesn’t seem to work at some points and sounds as though they haven’t quite deciding what their sound should be. Saying that, the added elements of the viola, cello, flue and didgeridoo (an odd inclusion for folk metal, but hey) all work together to give depth to this album. It is a very impressive first release; all Aperion need to do is find the sound that is right for them. The folk elements seem to be the strongest, and with a little bit of work their next release will be one to look forward to.

Rating: 3.5/5


Monday, 18 July 2011

Festival Review: Sonisphere 2011: Day 3 Gone but not forgotten...

Day 3:

Today was always going to be one of mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s the last day of the festival and there are some kick ass bands to look forward to. On the other though, there is the sadness that someone who should be here left this mortal coil far too early; and his absence resonates throughout the festival. Paul Gray was one of the founding members of Slipknot and as such has had a massive influence on the band’s sound and ideals. It was clear to see at the press conference just how much Paul was missed within the band, not just as a musician but as a person, a friend and a ‘brother’. Today we honour the memory of Paul Gray, and celebrate his works through a historic performance by the remaining 8 members of Slipknot.

But before that can begin, we head over to the main stage to see Johnny Cash type rockers Volbeat. Sod Cornflakes, they are the perfect way to start the day! Front man Michael Poulsen is charming and endearing, drawing a sizable crowd despite their early slot. I then decide, for reasons even i cannot fathom, to head over and see Black Tide. After being bored for ten minutes i turn round and head back to the Apollo stage to get a good spot for Arch Enemy. Being one of the few women in metal to have mastered guttural vocals (without sounding ridiculous) makes Angela Gossow a force to be reckoned with. Strong on and offstage, Angela is a formidable front woman; coupled with the thundering rifts of Michael Amott Arch Enemy pull off another brutal assault.

At 2pm comes a genuinely beautiful moment. 80,000 people are united in silence, remembering Slipknot’s departed bassist. His achingly empty suit and mask, along with his bass, are brought to the stage; making us feel as though he is, somehow, still with us. After those sombre moments, we head to the Saturn stage to see In Flames. Having only been recruited to the In Flames fan club recently, i had no idea what to expect. Attracting the biggest crowd of the weekend on the Saturn stage, In Flames do not disappoint and i go away being even more of a fan.

Mastodon are a band who rarely disappoint live, and today is no exception. Thundering through old favourites like ‘March of the Fire Ants’ to newer offerings such as ‘Crack the Skye’, Mastodon leave us hungry for more! Being a Motorhead virgin, you can understand my childlike excitement as Lemmy and co took to the stage. Despite being in his twilight years, Lemmy shows no signs of slowing down – thankfully. Seeing Limp Bizkit after Opeth is bizarre; one the one hand there’s Swedish death/prog metal at its finest. One the other, it’s a nu-metal American party band. The former are on top form, and latter wearing thin after 10 minutes. Still, Bill Bailey up next and it seems as though the entire festival has turned out to see the ‘wizard in a call centre’ perform a ‘metal-ed up’ version of his set. The highlight of the set has to be the circle pit erupting during ‘Bleed on your Panini’ – a tribute to emo. Bill looks completely at home, and that is in no small part due to the fact that Bill is amongst his fellow metalheads. The ecstatic crowd will be talking about the Rammstein vs Hokey Cokey for years to come!

All of us tonight feel as though we’re about to go down in history. Many feel as though this is going to be the beginning of the end for Slipknot that they are going to hang up their masks and give up. Given the circumstances i wouldn’t be surprised if they did. However, tonight isn’t about negativity. As Corey Taylor puts it “it’s a celebration”! And boy do Slipknot know how to celebrate! Airing some of their oldest and rarest songs, Slipknot have the crowd in the palm of their hands. This is no more apparent that when Corey Taylor is able to get 80,000 people to get down on their knees and then “JUMP THE FUCK UP”. Pauls suit and mask are brought on again after their encore of ‘People=Shit’ and the chants of “Paul Gray” echo round Knebworth for the final time. And, all too soon, Sonisphere 2011 comes to an end. As we all pack up and head home on Monday, we know we’ve witnessed some unique, unforgettable and record braking experiences over the past three days. Roll on 2012!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Festival Review: Sonisphere 2011: Day 2 - Biffy Who?

Day 2:

Venturing out of my tent at 11am to see Sylosis on the main stage seemed, at first, to be a foolish thing do to. Having drunk too many ciders the previous day, my head feel a bit delicate to say the least. Still, after a bacon & egg butty I’m ready for some metalcore action! Now, I’m not a fan of all. In fact, it gives me the shivers. But i must say, i was pleasantly surprised by Sylosis. I witnessed them at the Golden Gods Awards 2011 and wasn’t impressed; however, today they seem to have found new energy. And if you weren’t awake before their performance, you surely are now!

For some reason my most anticipated band of the day is Richard Cheese...don’t ask me why! But his unique way of turning out most beloved metal tunes in lounge music certainly intrigues a lot of metalheads enough that the Saturn Stage is rammed at 11:35. ‘People = Shit’ is probably my favourite one of them all, wouldn’t it be great if Slipknot did Richard Cheese’s version tomorrow night? Err well, maybe not! Richard Cheese is a classy and eccentric front man. At one pointing jumping off the stage to greet the front row, finding the only man at the festival with a Lego man and declaring “Why have you bought a Lego man to a festival? I think you need help Sir”. Fantastic!

Skipping Gallows to get some lunch, i then head up to the main stage for my yearly dose of Cavalera. Having resigned myself to the fact that an original line-up Sepultura reunion is never going to happen, the Cavalera Conspiracy is the next best thing. Playing classic Sep tunes like ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ and my personal favourite ‘Refuse/Resist’ has satisfied by Brazilian metal craving for the day! Heading over to the Bohemia stage for my daily dose of Djent-ness i notice a problem. The stage is small and the demand to see Periphery is high. People are pushing past security and pole vaulting barriers...this should be interesting. Unfortunately the sound is rubbish, and my first Periphery experience isn’t all that positive! Come back to the UK guys! It’s the same story for Gojira; a band who i saw kick the crap out of Bloodstock are suddenly in the midst of bad sound and a small stage. Come on Sonisphere, you were doing so well!

Deciding I’d rather pull my own ears off rather than see the emo fest that is You Me At Six and All Time Low i head off for a beer. As it has chucked it down for most of the afternoon, the arena area the is a mud fest. But this doesn’t deter us from heading over to see The Mars Volta. Hmm, maybe not! These guys are the most hyped band of the weekend, and they don’t live up to all! Soo, what now? I’d rather not spend time watching Shitty Clyro, so i had over to the Bedroom Jam tent to see Watain. Having brought so many candles that the tiny stage is becoming a fire hazard, Watain have clearly once again spared no expense for their live show. It’s good to see a bit of black metal adorning a stage at Sonisphere, and it’s far better performance that what is going on on the main stage! Just take a look at what someone thought of Biffy...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Festival Review: Sonisphere 2011: Day 1 - The Big Four and More

Sonisphere 8-10th July 2011

Sonisphere is fast becoming one of, if not the, best UK festival for rock/metal. Since its inception in 2009 it has had consistently awesome headliners, including Rammstein, Iron Maiden and Metallica (to name but a few). But this year’s line up has sealed the deal, with Sonisphere being the only UK rock/metal festival to feature The Big 4. Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica: thrash’s iconic instigators, all of whom have brought something different and unique to the metal scene. Not only has this festival attracted these metal behemoths, it has procured the only UK performance of 2011 (so far) of extreme metal giants Slipknot. Fresh from the tragedy of losing their much loved bassist Paul Gray, Slipknot promised a show to remember. So, did they deliver? Did they fuck!

But, of course, Sonisphere isn’t just about two or three bands; it features over 80 bands across three days of metal madness. From thrash, to death, to black and beyond, Sonisphere really is the most diverse metal festival. I mean, who else would have Watain playing the same stage as Protest The Hero? So, how did the weekend turn out? Well, let the Vulgar Displays of Metal admin take you on a journey...

Day 1:

The Big Four. Those are the words on everyone’s lips this morning. Heck, it’s why most people are here! You can almost smell the anticipation in the air (and no, that isn’t the smell of the portaloos) as 80,000 people prepare for a legendary day of metal. After nursing hangovers with greasy fry ups and dodgy looking burritos and as 3pm draws near we head to the Apollo Stage for the first band of the day.

Diamond Head have often been overlooked and undervalued in the metal world, but it’s a testimony to their longevity that they are introducing The Big Four and opening the Sonisphere festival. They are the perfect act to kick start the weekend, opening with ‘It’s Electric’ Diamond Head prove they are a force to be reckoned with and show just why they deserve to be on this stage. Brian Tatler’s influence on the Diamond Head sound has made them a band that so many others admire and use in their own sound. Closing with the delightful ‘Am I Evil?’, Diamond Head have done themselves proud! 

The surprise of the day has to go to Anthrax. With Joey Belladonna back in the fold, these guys put on a stellar performance which, i must admit, i wasn't expecting. It was clear the band were having the time of their lives on stage, and this definitely transferred to the crowd. Compared to the last time i saw them (Sonisphere 2009) this was much more energetic, passionate and raw performance!

Then it’s the turn of Dave Mustaine and Co, and i have to shamefully admit this is my first Megadeth experience. My expectations were high, and i was not disappointed. Epic! Slayer are a bit hit and miss with me, having seen them totally miss the mark at Wacken last year, i was keen to see if Slayer could get back in my good books. And boy, did they do it! Tom Araya seems more at ease, and you wouldn’t know that he’s been in and out of hospital for the past year with back problems. Kerry King is still formidable sight, even thought his arm looks like he’s had a fight with a nail gun. During Slayer's set, Protest The Hero were due to play the Bedroom Jam tent. And, as it's name suggests, it's a tiny stage in a tent. Now, this would not be the first time in the weekend that organisers had got it completely wrong. Many fans missed out on seeing these guys as the tent was rammed, and security were stopped people from getting in. Fail.

Then, it’s onto the legends themselves: Metallica. This would be my third time seeing these guys and they honestly get better every time. The crowd is ecstatic with joy when Metallica are joined on stage by members of Diamond Head, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer to form The Big Four Band. No one had ever expected this to happen, mainly because the in-fighting between the bands made it seem like a distant dream. But no, it’s happening and is one of those experiences which reminds you why you’re a metal fan in the first place. Unforgettable.

Then, because Jaz Coleman is my hero, i toddle over to the Bohemia stage to catch a bit of Killing Joke. The tent is stifling, with hundreds of metallers crushed in to try and get their fix. With their intro music being the freaky Masked Ball music from Eyes Wide Shut, they create an ambience even before they’re on stage. Never one to be understated, Jaz Coleman looks like a cross between a black metal clown and a puppet. But still, him and the rest of Killing Joke put on an enjoyable set with closes an amazing and exhausting first day at Knebworth. Now, where’s that beer...