Archive for January, 2021

Scarlet and Sheba

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags on January 17, 2021 by Sara Hammerzmith

Many great things going on all at the same time – so – like I said last time, lets keep it rolling shall we? But lets take a moment and leave the glorious and majestic world of power metal for a while and dive into what might be the complete opposite – sleazy tunes with a large portion of horror.

Grave Robbert, the new star (if I may say so) in the horror rock scene released his debut album “The Nightmare Begins” in 2019 and has now come back with a hommage to his own hero – a cover of Alice Cooper classic “Scarlet and Sheba”, featuring none other than Tim “Ripper” Owens on guest vocals! Not bad, huh?

And I am most definitely here for it.

Unlike the original, which is a lot more sensual and romantically laid arrangement-wise, Grave’s work is more of the aggressive and more raw side. He gives the song a modern and more sleazy vibe to it – all jokes aside – it’s dirtier, grindier and being most definitely something I’d find myself hearing on an underground club where there are no rules.. so to speak. And not to mention, the way Owens’ and Grave’s voice work together creates a new dimension to the song, keeping it even more interesting.

With that said, I’m eagerly waiting what’s next cooking for Grave Robbert. I’m sure it’s gonna to be absolutely phenomenal, head turning and Rated R.

// Sara

When Fate is Calling

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags on January 16, 2021 by Sara Hammerzmith

So, lets keep 2021 on a roll once we have started right? Bloodbound released the lyric video for the first single off their new album “Creatures of the Dark Realm” due May 28th yesterday and I’m absolutely here for it.

So, where do I even begin talking about this? First and foremost, it’s massive. It’s not even just epic like some of their previous favorites of mine (“Moria”, “Rise of the Dragon Empire”). No. It’s absolutely massive with power and overwhelmingness that consumes you, slaps you and drags you into the story about defending your honor and meeting your destiny. While those phrases has been heard in a million and one songs in the same genre, there are always better and not better ways to do it. And this is the better way. However, the album title suggest for me that maybe we’ll be dealing with darker matters than on previous albums?

The song holds most of the elements we find so usual nowadays to Bloodbound – epic and adventurous melodies, big catchy choruses and a significant sound found in Patriks voice. “Rise of the Dragon Empire” does to this day actually remain my favorite album by them, but with a promising first single like this I’m more than eager to hear the rest.

What are your thoughts?

// Sara

Dragony – Viribus Unitis

Posted in CDs, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 14, 2021 by Sara Hammerzmith

Roughly in November 2019 I clicked a link from the Austrian symphonic power metal band Dragony and contributed to the recording of the upcoming album. A lot of things happened since then – In July 2020 they signed with Napalm Records – well deserved! Throughout the campaign they announced a few special guests, such as Alessia Scoletti from Temperance, Georg Neuhauser from Serenity and Michele Guaitoli from Visions of Atlantis.

In November 2020 they finally announced the concept of the album now given the name “Viribus Unitis” – telling the tale of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, but apparently throwing in a few extra bits here and there with alternate time lines as well as tributes to video games. All in all, the album serves as a concept album something Dragony hasn’t quite dealt with since their debut album “Legends”, making this album coming back to the roots while still keeping the now ever so established Dragony sound. (To read full synopsis of the album, I’ll direct you here) A couple of songs has been written together with Tommy Johansson and Tomas Svedin (“Gods of War”) as well as Michele Guaitoli (“Love You To Death”)

The album starts off with an excerpt from a classical piece known as “The Blue Danube” (on this album referred to ‘On The Blue Danube’) only to explode in a rather aggressive opening song in ”Gods of War”, which serves as an excellent opener and bringing the thoughts immediately back to the first album of theirs, ”Legends” which much like this one is a conceptual rock opera kind of album.

Instantly, it’s followed by yet another epic intro which launches into “Love You to Death”, which directly became my own personal favorite and stayed so throughout the album. The epic intro, the adventorus verses , the massive choruses which makes this song into a pure battlehymn, despite the relatively dark lyrical theme before just casually ending with epicness. Even so, the next song in line falls under what I consider very typical Dragony trademarks musically.

This album is however a bit of a moodswinger as we move from happier cheerful anthems to a tune of a bit more darker nature, “Darkness Within”. While the song itself is actually really good, one of my tops of the album – I can’t help but to think of HammerFall upon hearing the arrangement of the song, more specifically “At The End of the Rainbow” from “Legacy of Kings”, taking some interesting turns in solos and bridges, especially the solos going all over the place, quite literally.

And from the dark place back into the typical Dragony sound of symphonic power metal in the “A.E.I.O.U”, which features Georg Neuhauser from Serenity on vocals, creating quite a harmony together with Siegfried. The song itself is one another of these battle hymns that we’ve come to be quite familiar on this album. Quite easily one of the better tracks on the album.

The title track, “Viribus Unitis” itself probably holds one of the biggest epic elements of the album, as far as beginning of the song and verses goes, and perhaps even more so in the chorus. I also adore the Alice in Wonderland references in the lyrics. It’s the perfect title track, if you ask me.

Another interesting song comes along as we start off with bag pipes – because why not at this point? We just had a song about turning a castle into a flying one. And then, as if it wasn’t odd enough, we are now throwing in a typical 80’s heartthrob in “Made of Metal (Cyberpunk Joseph)”. I’ll admit that these songs falls a bit flat for me in comparison to the other songs.

After these little… interesting sidetracks, we find ourselves back in the battle hymns as “Battle Royale” takes place with pretty much the big culmination of the album. It is a fine mix of everything that has already gone down on this album, an album that got more and more spaced out as the album went on – this is not a bad thing though. It’s made me smile quite a lot throughout the listen. Lastly, we are finding ourselves with “Legends Never Die” which gives us a bit of everything – quite a bit of techno blended with some well-crafted metal inbetween.

Something that has been very clear on this album and something I personally appreciate a lot and keep the album interesting is in all the details. There hasn’t been a single song that, despite being more or less a personal favorite of mine, hasn’t had at least some kind of effect that has made me go hah? What? Be it lyrical absurdum – Rooted in the history of what went down in the Habsburg monarchy, but with the imagination of Siegfried to take it a few steps further makes for another interesting and to say the least, entertaining and hilarious side of the album – to surprise additions such as bagpipes, techno fillers and straight down 80’s sounds in the midst of epic symphonic melodies.

All I can say is YES. I’ve waited a relatively long time for this album, and every single second spent waiting was well worth it. This is easily the best work to date from Dragony and I urge EVERYONE to pick this one up. I don’t often recommend people to buy a specific album, but with this one.. I will. It’s worth every cent. Link is under the cover.

// Sara

Napalm Records

Throwback: 70.000 Tons of Metal 2018, part 4

Posted in Uncategorized on January 13, 2021 by Sara Hammerzmith

And then comes the very last day. At this point I’m beyond exhausted I have not gotten more than 4-5 hours of sleep every night, and It wasn’t even consecutive hours, but rather one hour here and there. But, it’s the final day and it’s also Sabaton day so it’s just for me to suck it up and get it on with.

I started the day with burning myself, or more like, my feet off to Leaves’ Eyes. Pool deck set in the midst of the day with the bright sun shining made me not want to wear shoes because of heat, but upon taking them off I instead burn my feet on the exteremly warm floor. I was literally choosing between the plague and the black death, but I eventually put on the shoes again. I was set to stay in Miami for a week, might be good to NOT start that off with third degree burns on my feet of all places.

The rest of the day was spent trying to make the most of it. Taking one last swim in the pools, enjoying the sun deck for the last time. I have this thing where I tend to always want to make the most out of every moment, because you never know when is the last time. And oh, how do I feel that right now. Who knows when BOAT returns? Anyway.

Here comes another fond memory of mine. The day progressed and it was time for Sabaton. My company was already in the front, but I arrived a little later for some reason but as Dark Tranquility was playing there is no way to get to the front, so I took a seat in the theatre section and told myself to not fall asleep.

However, sometimes you are tired, and other times you are TIRED. You know, when you aren’t even in charge anymore. I just remember so vividly how my body was just changing itself into a more comfortable position and the next thing I know I’m startled awake by applauds. I look up and I see the band is leaving the stage. 

Thank the All-father for that happening, otherwise there is a big chance or should I say risk that I’d have slept through Sabaton as I am convinced my company wouldn’t have woken me up if they’d seen me asleep (and I wouldn’t with them either, so no harsh feelings). But, I woke up in time, made my way to the now relatively empty front row and waited for Sabaton.

So, make that the second show I slept through?

The Sabaton show was a different one from before, not that I minded at all actually. Opening up with “Lion From The North” and in general not having to suffer through yet another show with “Ghost Division” as an opener (I have a complicated relationship to this song, okay?) and having them play more and more songs off “Carolus Rex” was pretty damn great. You always get so happy from seeing them regardless so.

And what a perfect cruise it was. I remember being so overwhelmed, and probably missed out on doing loads and loads of things and I did for sure not see all the bands I had hoped to see because of the same overwhelming feeling. What I did know, when seated in the Windjammer for the last time gazing out over Port Everglades in the same combat wear I had been wearing since the show last night, was that I’m definitely returning next year.

And the year after that.

And again.

But alas.. Not in 2021… 

// Sara

Throwback: 70.000 Tons of Metal 2018, part 3

Posted in 70000 tons of metal, Concerts, Travels, Uncategorized on January 11, 2021 by Sara Hammerzmith

So the next day came, I got up and got ready… for the infamous Alestorm show. Actually, it wasn’t all that special and different at first – a relatively regular festival show by Alestorm, just in the most perfect location. They played the pool deck set, so, beyond perfect. The sun wasn’t out at the time, and it was rather windy, which we got to experience.

As per usual, Alestorm throws out their Ducky during their set. And then Ducky just jumps and floats around assaulting the people in the audience. But today, it would take a bit of a twist. As the band came to an end with their show, going into ”Captain Morgan’s Revenge” the wind hit just a little harder and Ducky was going wild. 

So wild that no one could stop him, not even the crew throwing themselves all they could during the break down and Ducky thus ended up hitting a bass player and the drummer of Alestorm. Chris just remained on the floor laughing for a while, the band stopped to play and he stood up, told us to shut up because they are ”actually a very serious metal band” and continued the song.

Sidenote: Some year or years later 70K team posted about this show on their feed, asking who got hit by Ducky which lead to the iconic comment ”Their drummer, for a change” being made by someone I do not remember the name of. But yes. Oh my god. What a start, huh?

Looking back on the schedule now I realize I just missed out on so many bands out of pure bliss. I had minor plans seeing several different bands but wound up pretty much only seeing Korpiklaani and attending a Battle Beast signing session prior to one of the coming highlights for me.

I mean, we might be in the Caribbean, but I’ll STILL wear combat boots and camo pants. I ran by the Battle Beast signing and then up to Sabaton which ultimately would be the highlight of the cruise, of course, what else? 

It was yet again a relatively average show by the boys actually, but I guess I couldn’t have expected much more, I was hoping for “Midway” because you know, boat? But nah. But the biggest memory I have from this show is toward the end of the show where I feel someone tugging my pants and I look down at the most adorable little Childs face I have seen. I lean down and ask what’s wrong and he looks up ”Did they play Sparta?” And I tell him that yes, they just did (was literally before this song) and MAN! The disappointment on his side. I had a strong urge to just tell the band to replay the goddamn song for this little warrior. He then left, even though I had every intention of letting him be in front of me. Cute boy.

After Sabaton, nearing midnight in fact, I got myself a nice swim in one of the pools, a midnight ice cream and then spent a little while fan-girling over the setlist I had just acquired. 

But, alas, it couldn’t last for long as I had to get back to bed because my alarm was at 4.30 in the morning to see Battle Beast on pool deck at 4.45. And I wanna paint you the picture here – I was staying on deck 2. Pool deck is deck 12.

So, it’s not exactly just a little tiny walk. It’s either climbing Mount Everest or ”Please Hold” while waiting for about a decade for the next elevator to come. 

Once up there, I saw an opportunity and I took it. Obviously, it’s relatively mandatory on boat to not wear actual underwear but instead bathing attire at all times, so I threw my pyjamas and jumped in the hot tub right next to the stage. I mean, I HAD to have at least one hot tub show right? And this was perfect. I was beyond tired regardless, so? Everyone wins?

It was nice actually. Sitting there in the warm water (it’s dead ass cold at night, despite being the carribbean) and watching a favorite band of mine. True bliss.

I was not however as cocky the next day. Slept for maybe 4-5 hours before having some breakfast and then embarking on another adventure – exploring the Grand Turks.

Today was the day of destination, and for this year it was Turks & Caicos islands. And what a beautiful beach! First I stopped by some local tourist shop and the off to the beach. And aaah, I can’t even begin! Taking some swims in the ocean, lying on the beach (a bit away from the boat) and just taking it so easy and gentle was something I really needed. I might be the type of person who happily sleeps on a FlixBus between Paris and Budapest, but all the same I am the type of person who LOVES to just relax near the water, the endlessness of the water with the sun radiating on my face.

Alas, we had gotten off rather later (around 12 I believe) and in order to NOT miss the ship back to the States we got back on at 16.30 or so. Had a nice shower and then toward the Alhambra to see Battle Beast. So, literally, I saw them twice in the same 14 hour period. Nice.

Now, I’m going to tell you a little something. One of the survivor tips I had seen prior to the cruise was this ”You’ll rely on the Pizza place”. And I just.. No? Why would I? The Windjammer is open almost 24/7, I think it was closed a total of three hours a day. But I very quickly came to learn that it is close on the EXACT TIMES when you in fact need it. Still to this day, this is the one survivor tip I always pass on – because it is absolutely true. 

Made yet another attempt to see Amberian Dawn at the Pyramid Lounge, this time without falling asleep every other song. Korpiklaani was also on the set the same evening and then Freedom Call at 1 am in the night, and later on Triosphere.

To be continued…

// Sara

Throwback: 70.000 Tons of Metal 2018 part 2

Posted in Uncategorized on January 9, 2021 by Sara Hammerzmith

The next morning we made it to port and got checked in, had our picture taken – you know the full drill. Waited patiently in the waiting hall to be allowed boarding and then went on the boat. I quickly located my cabin which held the perfect spot – just one or two rooms down from the hallway with the elevators. Perfection! I was in one of those lovely shared cabins together with three other lovely ladies, one actually just came to collect a pillow to stay in her friends cabin, but the other two were lovely. 

After this, I headed off to the buffet called Windjammer and they legit had anything you could ever ask for. I was even reluctant at first, is all this TRULY for free? The only cruise I had really been on prior to this was Sabaton Cruise, and NOTHING comes for free at that one, on the contrary, please sell us your kidneys and first borns and then maybe you’ll get some food. Maybe. And when you do, it’ll give you stomach issues (my first Sabaton cruise…)

In a little bit we were asked to partake in a security drill and once it was over I head up to the top deck to watch the views. And it was.. Surreal. You know that feeling you have when something feels so extremely out of reach but yet, somehow, out of nowhere, you are simply THERE? All of a sudden you are just standing there on deck 12 looking over the ocean as the ship sets sail from Port Everglades, the sun warming your face and you are just being overtaken by gratitude and instant happiness. How did I even end up here? Sure, I know how – enter a waitlist, book a room, get on a flight, but how on the Earth did the universe grant me this?

Before I get way too ahead of myself in the mysteries of the Universe, let’s just continue onwards shall we?

After this I headed down to the Alhambra theatre and got myself a comfortable seat a bit up – to tell you the truth – something I do a lot is traveling and making decisions without an actual budget. So in all honesty – I was rather burnt out when getting on this boat so it was nice getting to spend the first show just sunk down in a comfortable theatre chair, and for the first time ever, get to witness Leaves’ Eyes live! It was an extremely enjoyable show and I’m so happy I finally got to see them.

After the show I went off to explore the ship a bit. It’s a huge ship, and it felt even more huge than it probably is. Walking down the Royal Promenade, I sometimes purely forgot we were on a cruise. It felt like I was walking in that high end shopping mall we visited in Milano all the way back in 2013. Strange how resemblances just catch on like that, huh? 

Rest of the evening was in fact spent exploring a bit more. Independence of the Seas is, as most cruise ships, massive as hell. I’ve already mentioned the Royal Promenade to you, but there’s also a deck dedicated to more active activities like wall climbing, and my own personal weakness – an arcade hall. And an entire casino. So much to do, so little time. Eventually we went to bed and got up again at 3 am to watch another band…

…And that was the second punch in the gut. I was absolutely not prepared for this being a 24/7 (sort of) cruise. Upon reviewing the time schedule I looked at in disbelief, took a deep breathe and pretty much accepted that I might die now. But if I do, at least I’ll die happy right? 

Relatively early I went off to bed and then up again to catch Amberian Dawn at the dashing hour of 3.00. But I wasn’t really having it, I went there in my pyjamas and took one of those comfortable seats, only to discover that the schedule was running late. And I was already practically sleepwalking, and I found myself going between sleeping and being awake all the way until they started.

But I wasn’t really awake then either, haha! I know I heard ”Cherish My Memory” which is at the time my favorite song by them, but I also remember sleeping every other song, or such. So, make that a first – sleeping partially through a show.

After that, I headed back to bed for a few hours of sleep. Next show I had planned wasn’t until 13 the next day, Alestorm, but obviously one goes up a little earlier for breakfast and more exploring. 

// Sara

Throwback: 70.000 Tons of Metal 2018 part 1

Posted in 70000 tons of metal, Travels, Uncategorized on January 7, 2021 by Sara Hammerzmith

Tomorrow we were meant to embark on yet another edition of the 70.000 Tons of Metal cruise – but this pandemic put quite a stop to it. So instead, I figured I’d spend the next couple of days talking about some of my favorite memories from the first cruise I ever attended!

But to be honest, I don’t even know where to start. Sometimes I lay in bed and just think about the boat and the feeling it gives me. That warm, love full feeling when thinking back about something dear to you.  I’m going to try to write from a first comers perspective as possible, so excuse the overly romanticizing, haha!

As with everything that is your first, I’d dare to say that my first 70.000 Tons of Metal is the one that left the biggest mark on me. It started already in how I wound up to be on the cruise in the first place – for some reason the cruise started to make more and more appearances on my feed, and as I noticed the line up getting announced I felt a burning desire growing in me of going.

Battle Beast. Sabaton. Korpiklaani. Leave’s Eyes and lastly… Alestorm. You’d believe Sabaton was the main reason for forcing me to go, and while I won’t deny that they might have held the strongest of points, the thought of missing out seeing Alestorm live on a boat while they sing ”I’m on a ship, if you don’t know” was absolutely unbearable, so at this point I signed up for the waitlist for tickets (since it was you know, sold out). 

I had figured that I might get a ticket by January, which is not a problem visa-wise since I had one currently approved, and financing wouldn’t be a problem by then either (this was in October some time) but mind my surprise when I wake up on October 31st in the morning and see ”70000Tons of Metal 2018 – Waiting List Offer”

At first, YAY! I got myself a ticket! But then I was absolutely mortified at ”Has to be paid in full within three days”. You know, just casually 1200 euros. But thanks to my father I was granted a little loan – which I did not expect considering this is a luxury – and it was thus a fact.

I was going to be on 70.000 Tons of Metal. 

All of a sudden, as usual when it comes to me, I found myself having to sporadically plan a trip to the US, in the midst of the other little touring I was doing at the time. It was more complicated than it needed to be because of reasons, but eventually it was a go.

Not only was it going to be my first visit on the Boat, it would also come to be my first visit in Florida all in all! During 2017 I had been to California for a Lordi tour, first time I sat foot on American soil so I was excited to be back! 

The first fun and ironic thing to add is that once on board the plane, a quick check on instagram pointed out that apparently Sabaton was on our plane. And we got very aware of that in customs line, when we ended up next to them. After this, off to the hotel we went to rest. 

Some of my absolute favorite memories pre-cruise was strolling down the Fort Lauderdale beach and going through the George English Park. 

We also took a major stroll around the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Incredibly beautiful place if you ask me, a place I’ve come to visit every single year since this first experience. Later on in the evening, we had a bit at a restaurant and headed back home to our hotel.

As complete newcomers, I had no idea what to expect of the cruise. And that became very apparent when as late as the night before departure, the 61st band of the cruise. Exodus was announced and I realized that this might be a ”anything can happen” kind of cruise. At least it was the feeling I had.

To be continued…

// Sara

Of Legends…

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2021 by Sara Hammerzmith

2020 was a funny year. To say the least. If anything, an odd year.

2020 was the first year in a ten year time period I didn’t get myself a renewed passport. It’s the first time in about four years I did not have my US visa renewed. And to make it worse, no actual plans at the moment to even have them renewed.

However, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Early in the year I headed off to the US to attend a festival, 70.000 Tons of Metal, and returned home for a complete Sabaton tour stretching through eight countries with 13 different shows. A few more weeks after returning home I got to go back to my favorite city of Paris and check off a bucket list venue in La Machine du Mouline Rouge where I got to see two bands perform – Lordi and Night Flight Orchestra.

After that, the virus knocked out any tour or festivalplan I had. I kept having my hopes up, but due to the spread and general people inability to think further than themselves, the virus kept spreading and event after event was cancelled. I’ve been patient. I’ve stayed home, besides going to work. I haven’t even attended the few “corona friendly” gigs that has been offered, because in my own personal opinion it’s not worth risking the spread or getting the virus myself. Although I am not personally afraid of, you never know what long term consequenses you could get from a virus like that. Still remember how ill I was from BOAT SARS back in 2018. That was a bitch.

Because of this, my blog has been suffering. In the beginning it was simply a lot of work (I second as a healthcare worker these days) and later on actual denial. When you’ve been living the touring life since you were 16, spent all your time in school surrounding touring and just having it all taken away from you without an actual by-date, it kind of turns your world.. upside down, if I may say so. I didn’t speak of music or touring in the longest of time, people even wondered if I was sick until I sat down with my boss at the casino and simply told her that “Today I was supposed to be on a Texas tour with Amaranthe, Hammerfall, Battle Beast, Beast in Black, Judas Priest, Sabaton and KISS. And to be honest it just hurts a little too much to even think about right now”

I did vow something to myself with this. To take this time to get back on track, with the blogging. I may not have a lot of new things to write about (besides new album releases) but I do have a golden back library. And it’s time to start do something with it, isn’t it?

It’s time to make use of all those years.

Welcome back, my friends.

// Sara