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Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: Mors Principium Est - Embers Of A Dying World

The Finnish melodic death metal band Mors Principium Est is still in the shadow of more prominent bands from both their home country and from abroad, albeit already releasing their sixth album on 10th of February, called “Embers of a Dying World”. Let’s check it out!

With a current lineup which contains none of the founding members, how much can be left of Mors Principium Est’s unique style? The answer: a lot, and it’s reaching perfection, too. Brutality and in-your-face kickass metal mix very nicely with a melodic tone. On the self-titled (translated) track, “Death Is The Beginning”, we even find female vocals. Main songwriter and composer Andy Gillion, who also works as a soundtrack producer, threw in bits and pieces of choirs, such as at the beginning of “Into The Dark” and “The Ghost”. The tracks are composed in an overall dramatic way, creating a haunting atmosphere. Symphonic elements are perceivable for instance during the instrumental “Agnus Dei”, and we even find industrial influences in “Masquerade”. The great compositions are rounded off by top-notch mixing and mastering by Thomas Johansson at Panic Room Studios in Sweden, guaranteeing an epic listening experience.

Conclusion: This is an extremely well-rounded album, solidifying the unique style of Mors Principium Est all while still being innovative. There’s literally nothing to criticize, so go ahead and enjoy what could easily be the album of the year 2017 in the melodeath genre! 10/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Mors Principium Est Official Website
Mors Principium Est Facebook

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Interview: Cellador

On March 10, power metallers Cellador will release their new album, called Off The Grid, on Scarlet Records. DutchMetalManiac’s Don Anelli already reviewed Off The Grid here, now he interviews Cellador’s vocalist/guitarist/founder Christopher Adam Petersen. Read it below.

So, first off, let’s talk about the new album. Are you pleased with its reaction so far?

As of this interview I have seen an “Album of the Year Contender” proclamation, a few perfect ratings, and a half dozen or more 9 out of 10, 4.5 out of 5 star ratings. Reactions have been incredibly stellar so far! It’s such a great feeling too after laying low for so long. We’re receiving personal feedback from many of our old friends in the heavy metal press and industry as well. It’s been a very warm welcome back.. couldn’t ask for more! I try not to let the feedback get to my head, but really it’s been so great, and we’re grateful to receive such a warm welcome back.

Do you have a favorite track off the album? What makes it special for you?

I have current personal favorites, but it has changed over time. I think “Wake Up the Tyrant” is the most sing-a-long, “Break Heresy” is the most fun, “Shimmering Status” has the best vocal performance, “Shadowfold” is the heaviest, “Off the Grid” is the most uplifting etc. Some of the songs were written much longer ago than others (Swallow Your Pride was originally written 10 years ago, the oldest one) so there’s some bias there as I’m much more acquainted with some of them more than others. As we all know, a newer song we write is usually more exciting for the songwriter. At some point every song has been my favorite. I really tried to make an album that could be played from beginning to end relatively easily. They are all to the point, high energy, catchy songs. I’d like to think if you are in the mood to play some Cellador in your stereo, all the songs can be contenders for your listening session.

The only ‘complication’ this creates is that it’s been incredibly difficult picking which songs will be videos, which will be singles, etc. So far from the feedback of press and others, nearly every song on the album has been picked as favorites by someone. Over half the songs have been chosen as radio picks by internet radio stations, and even the band members have differing choices as to which are their favorites.

We play all the songs live so there’s no question there for setlists at shows.

The album was recorded at Damage Studios in Massachusetts. Why did you decide it was right to record there?

Well the album was actually recorded in Denver, CO in my own studio as well as at our rehearsal space in Arvada, CO. The raw recorded tracks were then sent off to Damage Studios to be edited, mixed, and mastered by Peter Rutcho.

I am a huge fan of Peter Rutcho’s work with Havok’s album “Time is Up.” To me it sounds like a perfect modern heavy metal production. Lots of clarity, great sounding drums, and incredible heaviness. There is no modesty to his mixes, they are balls out, over the top, and we love it. I had been in talks with him for a couple years, almost even had him mix our EP “Honor Forth” back in 2013. Also, and this is important, Pete is a huge power metal fan, AND is a keyboard player as well. So this means he knows very well how to mix in keys, mix in vocals, and produce exactly the kind of sound we’re looking for. Based off experiences with Enter Deception, I told myself this time around I didn’t want to work with someone just for reputation, name, or nice studio, but instead someone who was a fan of the style. There was no translation process in trying to convey what kinds of production we were looking for, because he had nearly the same visions of the music as we did. He knew exactly what we wanted with little explanation required, in fact most of the time he didn’t even have to ask us for mix opinions. Also Pete is a hilarious and down-to-earth dude who speaks on an informal level. He’s like one of our bros. Great guy to have on board!

Why did you decide to have Chris as the producer? Did he bring out anything special to the material while you were recording?

I wrote basically the entire album and was the one really setting the creative vision for what we’re trying to accomplish with this release. I’m a studio guy myself and had the knowledge to manage the album tracking, basic editing, as well as motivating the band members to get the best performances out of them. Anyone who has recorded an album will probably know there’s always someone who needs to be the drill sergeant in the studio, and being the serious guy I am, I had no problem accepting that responsibility.

It's been a while since the group last made a mark on the scene. What happened to the original lineup that caused since a long gap between releases?

Here’s what happened. I founded the band and name back around 2004 in my hometown of Omaha. Through band ads, many jam sessions, and networking I was able to gradually put together a lineup while writing what was to be our first songs, including those on Enter Deception, our first album. Originally things went fairly smooth, I brought in some songs, we recorded a demo, played shows, had fun, and then got signed. I was a Serious Sam from the start and took the band seriously, taking basically a leadership role. I would make sure the band practiced regularly, gave criticisms where needed, managed communications, recordings, lyrics, and songs. This worked well up to the recording of Enter Deception.

But I learned during those years that while it’s easy to get everyone to play along and have fun in the beginning, once that “honeymoon period” in a band ends, then you start seeing members’ true motivations and workability. A lot of the time it works out, but for that lineup it did not. In short, after the success of Enter Deception, every member had differing opinions on who now writes what, how we should sound, where and how often we should tour, who gets what spotlight, who controls what, who leads etc. Several members had unstable lifestyles which created distraction after distraction, and even show cancellations. Their tastes in music would change seemingly overnight, to the point where I wondered if playing in a band of Cellador’s style was more a short term phase for them than an actual career. It basically brought band progress to a standstill. We couldn’t record a follow-up album, because no one was practicing the other person’s songs. Certain members weren’t speaking to each other. We had to cancel tours. It was a bad and very stressful situation. It would have been nice to continue under the same protocol that brought us that successful album and all the opportunities that it created, but the other members did not want to continue that way. Eventually our disagreements led to members gradually quitting and doing their own thing. We had some great times together but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Despite the setbacks, I was still hungry, and wanted the band to continue on. So I relocated to Denver and decided to reform the lineup, carefully assembling players who were all on the same plane. It took a few years, but we’ve been a much more cohesive band since our Denver formation, and it definitely shows on this new album.

How has the bands' style changed over the years, given your growth and maturity from the debut?

Well I certainly made it a personal priority to make sure this 2nd album was on par with the style of Enter Deception. That being said, since the recording of that first album, I learned a lot about studio production, tracking, writing more focused and to-the-point songs, leading and getting what I wanted out of the musical presentation. When I listen back to Enter Deception nowadays, the songs to me sound so… I guess “insecure.” Some weren’t tracked at good pocket tempos, my playing was more shaky, less easy and confident. Really that album is just raw in every way. This time around we’re much more polished but yet not at all tamed if that makes sense.

As it's been a while since the band formed, have you noticed anything different about being in the studio or on the road between then and now?

Major differences in recording. Back then we entered a big professional studio in Florida to track everything. We spent much more money to record basically an inferior product. This time around we tracked everything at my own personal home studio, with our own equipment & resources, and then sent the tracks off to be mixed and mastered exactly to our specifications at a fraction of the cost. Much more efficient this time around!

What else.. well with regards to touring we no longer receive tour support so everything has to be financed through the band’s personal income. Touring is probably as “unglamorous” as ever in this day and age. Ticket prices are lower than ever so bands get paid less and tour in very meager situations. Back then charity sites like Patreon and Kickstarter didn’t exist, and now they’re becoming standards for some bands to thrive.

What plans do you have to promote the album as far as tours or videos?

We just released the first single “Shadowfold” via a lyrics video on Youtube now. We’re confirming production on the first music video to shortly follow that. I’m hoping to release a good number of videos for this album, as mentioned above we think there’s a lot of potential for many of the songs, and we know youtube will big for band reach. We’ll make a video for every song if we can! Along with that, we’re also in a full PR mode at the moment, giving information on the album for review and interviews as the album nears its release date.

Rehearsals are also ongoing as we speak as we are making plans for Summer touring, but I can’t announce anything yet as we’re still working on logistics and routing. We are going to aim for European and other international dates given we’re getting a good push there this time around.

So, we’ll end this on a fun note. What’s your all-time favorite city to play in live?

I loved Montreal! Such a cool vibe there. Runners up include Detroit, New York City, Mexicali (Mexico), and Minneapolis.

Do you have any messages for the readers of DutchMetalManiac?

Many thanks to our Dutch fans who have reached out and also the amazing review by DutchMetalManiac! You guys are on the forefront of our minds and it’s our definite intention to visit you for shows in support of this album! Keep up with us online as we announce more details, songs, and tours in support.

Cellador Official Website
Cellador Facebook
Cellador Twitter

Review: Xandria - Theater Of Dimensions

So, the new album of Female Fronted Metal band Xandria is here. Is it mean to say that this is the Epica album I have been waiting for? In some way, yes, maybe it is. Because Theater of Dimensions obviously has some folky sound to some of the songs. Also, Dianne van Giersbergen’s voice differs quite a bit from the voice of Simone Simons, especially in the lower parts and the songs aren’t about conspiracy theories and what not, but rather have a fantasy ring to them. Despite all that I really can’t deny the feeling that Theater of Dimensions has some similarities to some of the earlier Epica albums. But, surprisingly I do have to say that when listening to the first song “Where The Heart Is Home” it became clear to me that I much rather listen to Dianne her voice than that of Simone, even when only comparing the high pitch vocal parts of these two ladies! That was something I didn’t expect at all!

And what about the instruments? Well, it’s all very tight if you ask me! Old-fashion heavy metal riffs combined with screeching guitar solos and catchy keyboards, it’s all there! And the drums? Oh man! Those are really at the epicenter of every single song. Each track has totally different drum parts and this makes for the album to be fresh and exiting to listen to. Combine this with the many different music styles on the album and you will never get bored! From heavy songs like “We Are Murderers (We All)” to Folk Metal songs like “Ship of Doom” with beautiful ballads like “Dark Night of the Soul”, this album is so versatile that I am sure it will appease a lot of people, even those who are not familiar with Xandria.

There is another great thing about the album though, not only does Theater of Dimensions have beautiful high pitched lady choirs but also very well timed low pitch male choirs which make some songs even more dynamic!

Lastly, we have to talk about the title track “Theater of Dimensions”. This song beautifully demonstrates everything I just talked about in this review. This song literally has everything and is truly an epic masterpiece like the ones we know from the earlier mentioned Epica and respectfully Nightwish! Despite the track feeling much more simplistic than for instance Nightwish’ “The Poet and the Pendulum” or “The Greatest Show on Earth”, I think we can safely say that Xandria really holds their own and gracefully shows that they are a mighty force to be reckoned with!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden

Xandria Official Website
Xandria Facebook
Xandria Twitter

Review: Haxxan - Loch Ness Rising

Formed in 2011, Ohio-based black metallers Haxxan came together from scene veteran Killjoy DeSade’s desire to offer a more traditionally-based old-school black metal attack that gets fleshed out into a stellar outlining of Aleister Crowley’s life. Bringing together a crop of fine musicians into a fully-fledged unit, the group prepares its full-length debut December 2, 2016 on Hell’s Headbanger Records.

Taking its cues back from the genre’s start, this here is quite an adept and wholly enjoyable offering taking on the simplistic nature of early black metal. Efforts like the title track, “93” and “Babalon” are reliant much more on simple riffing chords and structures which take on the heavier aspects of the genre far more than they do the swirling tremolo-picked rhythms, featuring a heavy take on those plodding, doom-like sprawls than anything else. This creates the feeling of plodding, oppressive doom with the simple patterns and riff-work that charges along quite nicely with the riffing coming along rather well with the use of ethereal, atmospheric keyboards to complete the picture in terms of generating the tight, churning atmosphere in this one. As well, the inclusion of fiery, more energetic rhythms like “A.A. (Arcanum Arcanorum),” “Disciples of the Silent” and “Chemical Perversions” come off quite dynamic compared to the swirling mid-tempo efforts throughout the rest of this one and offers a slightly more varied approach within here. That the majority of these tracks are placed in the second half here is where this one falters somewhat, as despite the competence and professionalism of the performances of all involved the fact remains that this one doesn’t flow together smoothly in terms of running order, starting slowly and then building up to a cohesive if still odd pairing since it’s all joined together rather than spread out. Given that this is the main issue, there’s not a whole lot to dislike here.

Without a whole lot of really important flaws even if they are noticeable in the end, this one comes off rather nicely for a debut offering which is no surprise given the talent involved and makes this one quite a solid offering for those who follow the creative side involved or are fans of the more simplistic brand of old-school black metal. 8/10

Written by Don Anelli

Haxxan Facebook

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: Wormhole - Genesis

Forged just in 2015, multinational brutal death metallers Wormhole have gathered an impressive roster of scene veterans together into a wholly technical, blistering compilation of all things brutal and heavy for one impressive and pummeling offering. Wasting no time unleashing their twisting, turning brand of attack, the group unleashes its full-length debut November 30, 2016 on Lacerated Enemy Records.

Given the stellar musicianship behind this one, it’s little surprise that this one manages to come across as brutal and pummeling as it does. It’s effortless how “Nurtured in a Poisoned Womb,” “Symbiotic Corpse Possession” and “Gravity Manipulation Unit” can switch up from offering frenzied razor-wire churning riff-work filled with utterly dynamic, twisting technical patterns that are just as strong in concept as they are in execution when they’re bathed in these complex, challenging patterns that dominate the album. Coupled together with efforts like “Battle Logic Disrupted,” “Automated Distress Signal” and “Genesis Chamber” that feature a more traditional series of churning riffing patterns as well as melodic accents alongside that stellar mixture of swirling technicality and a generous helping of ferocious slams within here, this one comes across with a more fully-formed and impressive mixture of brutal and technical elements than expected for a debut offering. Bringing out the mechanical technicality with the swarm of slams throughout this one makes for a thunderous, brutal offering which manages to work wonders for the atmosphere of this one, yet that also brings up the album’s one main detriment in that this one does manage to sound so clean and thunderous that it really loses a lot of its individuality in what’s going on in the album. There’s so much blasting and twisting, turning technical slamming featured here that it all comes off as rather routine and one-dimensional which really does hold this one down. Otherwise, there’s not much to dislike this one.

With some rather enjoyable elements throughout here and some minor flaws that strike this one down, this one is a rather nice and enjoyable debut effort that works nicely enough for fans of the members’ acts involved in this project or fans of the vicious, mechanical-sounding brutal death metal sound. 8.5/10

Written by Don Anelli

Wormhole Facebook

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Review: Moonloop - Devocean

My first review after a break, and I get to review this masterpiece. The band plays a more progressive groovy death metal sounding metal, and they play on their strength just right.

One thing you will not miss on this album are the polyrhythmic on the drums and in the riffs as well, and the strong point of the album is that even though the polyrhythmic are all over the album it never gives off a sense of overuse of them. All tracks are groovy with some interesting fills on the drums and intricate riffs as well, and you can hear that the drums are played with extreme precision in unison with the metronome and also there is not one point in the drums that sound out of place or that can throw you off balance in the riff.

Apart from some minor issues I had with the guitar and bass levels I do not have a beef to settle with this album, even the vocals are mixed in and performed with great skill. I loved the melodies of the album, subtle and yet effective, they convey the desired effect of the riff straight home.

All in all, I loved this album every second of it, and it gave me a feeling of groove I got when I listened to Pantera and bands like that. I give this album a 9.5/10.

Written by Nikola Milošević

Moonloop Official Website
Moonloop Facebook
Moonloop Twitter

Interview: Plateau Sigma

Last year Italian doom metallers Plateau Sigma released Rituals. Now, DutchMetalManiac’s Alessandro interviews vocalist/guitarist Manuel Vicari, read it below.

Bienvenuti! Thank you for having this long distance interview from Canada with me and DutchMetalManiac! I am impressed with your FB page story: “Plateau Sigma is a musical project born in the autumn of 2010, driven by one simple ambition: to unite the verb primordial death and doom metal to the rarefied and sensual atmospheres of new wave of dark rock”. Please explain!

Well, buongiorno a voi! We always try to unify the power and the mood of doom metal, with the sensuality and the atmospheres of the dark wave, it’s, and will always be our greatest "chimera".

Is the world a better place with this new technology for spreading the gift of music or was it better to copy LP’s to cassettes and spread it around?

We used to say here in Italy, themedal has two faces, to explain the pros and the cons of certain things, in the good old times, there were much money and few bands, and less possibility to spread your words. Now you have all the "comforts" but you have to merge from a deepest oceans of bands, with similar feelings and behaviour. Always an hard task, isn it? Ahahahahah.

Having been to Italy and have relatives right there on Via Ventimiglia, Pegli, Pra, is the focaccia still amazing or did it go all gluten free? Oh sorry, metal, right. What’s the current metal trend around the Liguria and Europe in general and what do you think about it?

I was born in XXMiglia man! Glad you know our beautiful area! Fear not my friend, there are many artisans of ligurian products, trying always to follow the old and pure way, in order to maintain the traditions true! Ahahahah, best question ever!! Anyway, there are good bands everywhere, even in Italy, less band here in our region, but the question remains still one. Are you able to do the best you can, keeping a humble heart, to achieve your goal, we’ll try with all our strength to make music that could be decent, for us, and for the ones which listen.

So your band name; from where? What is your next level and are you on a plateau now?

The name Plateau Sigma derived from the name of the depressive black metal project Benighted in Sodom's album. It sounded gladly, obscure, and sensual, no involving on drugs, I have to say, just an attempt to take an original monicker.

Can you say how you arrange and record your music? Is it a jam or does the writing get done first?

I’m the "main" songwriter, despite everyone worked hard in many aspects of the composition. Francesco is very focused on the sounds and the dynamics of the songs, Nino, always tries to be original and "one step forward" with his drumming style. Maurizio, he is the purest side of our project in term of music, so if we are moving too much "outside" the composition, because of our attempt to try something new, he draw us to retain the "pure" word of doom. As you can see, everyone with it’s part, is Plateau Sigma.

Give us some insight on your lyrics and where inspiration comes from for you.

Antiquity, rituals, sex, death, and science, with an esoteric and abstract attempt to be poetic, at least. We try ahahahah.

As we go, give us Plateau Sigma’s 2017 predictions:

1. WW III or Peace on Earth
2. Aliens Land – Aliens Keep On Going
3. Music Industry Better – Music Industry Worse
4. Italian Beer Better – Canadian Beer Better
5. Currently reading….

Italian and Canadian beer better, not just because Francesco’s brother is a very good beer maker! Ahahahahah, I’m joking, I prefer much more the peace on earth...

Thank you and all the best success! Before you go, please tell DutchMetalManiac’s 1500+ followers one last, important thing!

All the best to you too my friend, keep up the good work!! We are honored!! Hugs!

Plateau Sigma Facebook