Archive for afm records

REVIEW: Rise of the Dragon Empire – Bloodbound

Posted in CDs, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 20, 2019 by Sara Hammerzmith

So the time has come. The time has come for Bloodbound to present to us their eight studioalbum, which so also happens to be the continuation of the saga started on the previous two albums, “Stormborn” (2014) and “War of Dragons” (2017). Now, they hand us a newely forged album straight from the blacksmith. And I couldn’t be more stoked.

The album starts off pretty intense in fact. It heads straight into an uptempo song, which also happens to the title track of the album. The song is full of cheerful and interesting melody lines, and it continues like this throughout the album with a few stick-off’s – second song of the album “Slayer of Kings”offers us some heavier battle tunes with an extremely headbang friendly chorus and fast shredding verses, before launching into an epic story about “Skyriders and Stormbringers”. A more magical and mystic approach is being served in “Magical Eyes” which tells the tale of exactly that.

And then, my friends, a new metal anthem and hymn has found the light of day “Blackwater Bay” is nothing short of a massive anthem – the way it’s been arranged musically and the crowd like constant chanting. I could absolutely see this being played with the whole crowd coming along with the song itself. This is one of the highlights most definitely on the album for me.

The album is picked up in “Giants of Heaven” and the rest of the album serves that same sort of purpose – heavy beats with cheerfull melody lines, with “Warlock’s Trail” being the only song to really stand out for me in the end – bringing the thoughts back to “To Hell and Back” with Sabaton, I can see this song being something extremely appreciated by the crowd. It’s a new “Silver Wings”, if you like.

The album is at last round off with a power ballad, giving a more mellow ending to an otherwise very powerful album. The band has had a very strong influence of Nordic folk elements this time around, something I appreciate a lot, as well as an added amount of keyboard accessories, creating hymns and hits that will stick in your brain. But sadly, none of it’s particularly new.

I mentioned “To Hell and Back” above when talking about one song, but I found myself many times thinking the lyrics to various songs by various bands (Sabaton, Alestorm, Serenity and HammerFall to mention a few bands) and while it’s hard these days to write something completely new, I’m not sure how fond I am of the fact that I found myself singing the lyrics to “1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)” when listening to “Slayer of Kings”.

That aside, the band has created yet another solid album which really does follow the line of its preceders. I guess you can tell I have pretty mixed feelings about it. I really enjoy a lot of the tracks, but damn. If the similarities weren’t so obvious…

Favorite song: “Blackwater Bay” I think.
Least Favorite: “Balerion”
Dance-friendliness:  5/11
Headbang-friendliness:  9/ 11
Crowd-friendliness: 7/11


(Label: AFM Records)

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// Sara

REVIEW: Dynazty – Firesign

Posted in CDs, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 25, 2018 by Sara Hammerzmith

Finally. You guys know that Dynazty is one of my all-time favorite bands these days, and every time there is a little shed of news about them it makes my heart pop. So ever since I heard of them getting to work on their third album I was beyond stoked. And finally, it is here!

The album starts off great with a heavy, melodic and rather big arrangement in “Breathe With Me” which serves well as an opening track. The only disappointing thing to find here – is the chorus falling a little flat as compared to the rest of the song, but it can’t all be perfect huh?

The album continues with the dramatic yet powerful “The Grey” which got one of those amazing melody lines that I just love, before launching into heavier tones with “In the Arms of the Devil” which got a little different lyrical theme as to what we have become used to when it comes to Dynazty – a love-related song for the first time in like forever.

And it’s after this the first highlight of the album comes for me – “My Darkest Hour”. It is one of those epic, big and heavy tunes that creates a thin line between epicness and melancholy, together with that kind of lyrics. And here, the chorus is what really makes it, in the veins of symphonic metal. I can’t really describe the ultimate feeling, although I try my best.

The album moves on to “Ascension” which is a pretty good tune – it’s a lot less than the previous mentioned, perhaps more raw if you like, with fewer things happening around it.

However, what is coming next is the biggest highlight of the entire album. The title track itself. With electronic elements that bring thoughts more toward Rammstein than Amaranthe, and the melodies we have gotten used to with Dynazty they deliver what is most certainly the best track of the album. The chorus will make ANYONE get out of their seats and jump around, seriously.

“Closing Doors” are following up, but sadly falling a bit flat. For me, this is more of a filler track, especially when it’s being followed up by “Follow Me” which is probably one of the heavier tracks on the album – the chorus is almost like a punch in the gut. Or at least whiplash damages in your neck material. Going back into the electronic elements, we get “Let me Dream Forever” which is a rather sweet song actually. It’s got a very nice and sweet melody to it and a very nice chorus.

The album is wrapped up with the heavy tune “Starfall” and later on the movie-esque epic kind of “The Light inside the Tunnel” which serves as a pretty decent wrap-up. It might fall a little flat compared to the rest of the album, but it feels like a nice ending you know?

Overall, I think this album is really, really good. I can’t get enough of it. Unlike “Titanic Mass”, this album is becoming a very strong contender in the competition to “Renatus”, which I still consider being one of those perfect albums made by a band.

Favorite song: “Firesign”
Least Favorite: Hard to choose, but I have to say “Starfall” in that case.
Dance-friendliness:  6/11
Headbang-friendliness:  10/ 11
Crowd-friendliness: 6/11


(Label: AFM Records)

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// Sara

 

REVIEW: Lordi – Sexorcism

Posted in CDs, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 20, 2018 by Sara Hammerzmith

So, Ladies and Gentlemen – here we are. Two years, well, not two years perhaps, but finally – a new Lordi album has seen the light of day. I’ll admit I am amongst those fans who have been a bit taken aback by the sudden change in themes from the band, but I’ve always decided to not take anything out in advance. Well, not too much anyway. “Sexorcism” is the ninth studio album from Finnish monster rock band and is said to be their most controversial album yet. I guess we shall see about that huh?

As per usual, I prepare you for potential use of my own names of the songs if I deem the title to complicated for my little brain to process. But you are used to that by now, aren’t you?

So, let’s get to it huh? The album opens with an intro of a priest chanting unhearable verses, like one is performing an (s)exorcism, before launching into a “Demonarchy” like guitarriffs and upbeat, cheerful melodylines, musical accessories and anthemlike chants that makes up the opening track, as well as the titletrack “Sexorcism”.

The track serves as a good opening phrase to what we are about the experience on the album as a whole. “Kittycat” is the second song, which launches us straight back to “Deadache”, and more specifically “Missing Miss Charlene” with some spices from Reckless Love’s “Back To Paradise” in the verses, calling for a very familiar yet different kind of song, but in every good possible way.

Starting from here it gets a little weaker. While “Romeo Ate Juliet” is a heavier and faster song, with the “classic” kind of horror lyrics we are used to with Lordi, it still falls somewhat flat on the album, for me. It feels like a lot could have been done, but wasn’t.

Same goes for “Naked In My Cellar” – the music video song, even though I really DO, for some reason, enjoy Mr Lordi’s newfound Ozzy Osbourne voice. I can imagine this song being real fun live though, despite all.

This continues on with “The Beast is Yet To Cum” – and it finally comes back alive with “Polterchrist”, with an eerie intro sung by a girl named Isabella, evolving into a lowkey, yet rough constipated-sung kind of verse, exploding in a crowdfriendly and adrenaline kicking chorus. The lyrics are haunting as well – precisely the type of thing I’d expect and want from this band.

However, the album really does pick up it’s pace then the intro from heavens appears – it sounds like a perfect mix of the epicness found in HammerFall’s “Crimson Thunder” and anything 80’s. The song itself seem to be a “Sick Flick” 2.0, following a similar theme. I feel this song might be one of those under dog songs that will grow to be very, very popular.

From here it’s a bit of a lukewarm soup. While both “Rimskin Assassin” and “Hell Has Room” has their own shares of comedy as well as musical craftmanship (the solo in “Rimskin Assassin” is marvellous), it leaves much to be wished for.

However, the pace IS in fact picked up a bit for the last three songs – “Hot and Satanned” being a typical revenge kind of song with enough musically erotic elements to make sure I’ll sign up for those damned pole dancing classes come this fall. And if a song makes you do that, you know it’s the shit. “Sodomesticated Animal” follows the line of being very typical Lordi with an extremly crowdfriendly chorus and the whole album is then wrapped up with the calm, eerie and very cosy “Haunting Seasons” which sums up the album perfectly.

Quite frankly, I feel that this album is all over the place. It has some really, and then I mean really, good songs and material, but the bits and pieces that weren’t all too great falls flat. There is most definitely an increase in sexually loaded songs as compared to before, but it’s not quite as bad as I would have expected it to be – so calm down you all. It’s not quite as controversial as I’d have expected it to be, but what is and what is not?

Musically I think it’s going in the same kind of veins as it has previously, with some of the newer elements from “Demonarchy” finding it’s way into the making of this. What I’m very keen on is all the accessories added here and there, which adds a lot more interest to the songs. Well done!

Favorite song: Tie between “Your Tongue’s Got the Cat” and “Hot and Satanned”. For several reasons.
Least Favorite: “The Beast is Yet To Cum”
Dance-friendliness:  6/13
Headbang-friendliness:  9/ 13
Crowd-friendliness: 9/13


(Label: AFM Records)

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// Sara

 

 

REVIEW: Serious Black – Magic

Posted in CDs, Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 8, 2017 by Sara Hammerzmith

Serious Black – probably one of the most productive bands in metal today, is out with their third album in just three years – and their career has been going nothing but up. Starting out with a few tours with HammerFall and Gamma Ray, they then continued on to have successful headline tours – and are currently out on one more as we speak. “Magic” is their first attempt at a concept album – fitting concept, seeing the name is inspired by Sirius Black from Harry Potter. Aside the concept, the band hoped to achieve a diverse and organic- feel album, without too much production.

So how about the album then?

As mentioned, this is a conceptalbum. Throughout the album, lyrically, we follow the story of Mr Nightmist and his journey to unravel the secrets and mysteries of the world. The lyrical theme follows through on each song, binding it all together. The lyrics are well made – you can follow the story quite easily, and they all link together.

Musically, the album starts off with a, at first spoken, intro that moves into instrumental, launching you into the first song of the album, “Binary Magic” which carries and in-your-face kind of intro, and then calms down for the verse only to pick up the speed again, merging into a pretty powerful chorus. The album then continues on with an aggressive second song, “Burn! Witches Burn!”, which sadly falls a bit flat at the chorus for me personally.

And the album moves a bit up and down like this – the catchy “Lone Gunmen Rule” to the very sentimental “Now You’ll Never Know” which quickly grew into be one of my favorites off the album. While the album is quite diversed, they still link together nicely, with the common Serious Black sound we have all gotten used to.

The final ending of the album is a more calm and hidden song called “One Final Song” which I find very interesting – consisting of hints toward “Bohemian Rhapsody” it quickly becomes the most interesting song on the album, and also personally for me, the only song that actually grasps the context of magic.

Because that is what I felt was missing. The songs linked together, the lyrics was fine – but I missed some sort of ‘magical’ or ‘carnival’ kind of accessory to keep the concept up, making it a red thread, which shouldn’t be an impossibility as we’ve seen bands like Lordi and Avatar do it before – and even the band themselves in their last song.

The album is, all in all, pretty good though. Certain points as mentioned would have made it even better, but songwriting wise it was really good. All that is missing is the whole feel of a concept.

Favorite song: Now You’ll Never Know
Least Favorite: Serious Black Magic. But it’s hard to pick.
Dance-friendliness:  4/14
Headbang-friendliness:  8/ 14
Crowd-friendliness: 3/14


(Label: AFM Records)

// Sara

 

REVIEW: Bloodbound – War of Dragons

Posted in CDs, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 23, 2017 by Sara Hammerzmith

It’s been two years since swedish metalband Bloodbound released their last success “Stormborn”, and this album is said to be somewhat of a continuation of that album, just a bigger, bolder and better.

My first impression of this album is that it’s not really as simple as a continuation of the previous albums, it feels a bit like a concept album, about well, the war of Dragons. The instant feeling I get when listening through it, is like reading a fantasy book.

It starts off with a massive and epic intro of the first song, taking us out on the quest with determination and perhaps a little bit of fear – the fear of what is yet to come and to be expected. The music and the battles, if I may so say, continues on in this kind of manner – epic, big anthem like songs that shifts between being either a bit more calmer and melodic (“Tears of a Dragon Heart”, “Stand and Fight”), or as I call it – dance friendly, to get fast, aggressive and more headbangfriendly (“King of Swords”, “War of Dragons”).

Then of course, we have te odd one out – “Silver Wings”. It’s got more of a folk touch to it with the flute and the way it’s written, you know, as if you were sitting at the taverna on your road to glory pondering out your next step, that’s what the music is like. With an intro of a pouring lake it really PAINTS a picture before your eyes, and the fact that the whole melody line is nothing but playful, mysterious and enjoyable, making this one of the best tracks off the album.

The album closes with two songs where one if more aggressive – the final battle kind of song, and closes off with a song that brings the thoughts back to movies like “Mio min Mio” after they defeated Cato and all was well again in the world far, far away. It’s rarely I hear the kind of music that so strongly paints a picture before your eyes. I literally sat and envisioned everything. That speaks loudly about this album I’d say.

The only issue that I do have with this album is that I at many times got my thoughts drawn to other bands. “Battles in the Sky” has resemblances to “Lejonet från Norden” by Sabaton, “Fallen Heroes” which is one of my favorites of the album, but I cannot deny the resemblances to “Winged Hussars”, “Hearts of Iron” with a bit “I will Rule the Universe”. Probably, hopefully, just a coincidence, but it does weigh in a bit.

With all of that being said, this is probably one of Bloodbounds best album to date. Epic song after epic song, making me jump around the room as I was writing down my notes, and if a band manages to do that to me, then you damn well know it’s good. Extremely good.

Well done, Bloodbound!

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(Label: AFM Records)

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// Sara

 

REVIEW: Crystal Viper – Queen of the Witches

Posted in CDs, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 1, 2017 by Sara Hammerzmith

Polish heavy metal heroes Crystal Viper is finally back after their long hiatus following health issues of singer and founder Marta. Before the hiatus they released five albums under a six years period of time, making them recognized as one of the most hard working bands in the industry. Ready for the comeback, they are now releasing “Queen of the Witches”, an album that deals with the concept of witches and true evil.

The album starts off with a classic heavy metal scream as an intro for the first song, launching us into what I feel is just SCREAMING the vibes of what classic heavy metal is to me. Fast riffs, good melodies and a strong voice. The album continues that way – strong melodies, fast riffs and crowdfriendly choruses. There are small differencies here and there, such as the more bass-based, groovier song “When The Sun Goes Down”, which also gets calmed as the song goes by, making it a perfect transition into the first of two ballads on the album – “Trapped Behind”, where I really discover the core of the voice of Marta. I really just love her voice. That kind of power, you know?

The second ballad of the album is “We Will Make it Last Forever”, which features Steve Bettney as the co-singer. It’s a beautiful song and the vocals work together in fantastic harmony, which doesn’t stay for long as the most aggressive song on the album – “Rise of the Queen Witch” is the one who follows. A direct contrast that wakes up anyone who fell into dreaming in the previous song.

Over all, the album is solid, but a little plain, if I can put it that way. Aside a song here or there, all the songs sort of melt together as one long song, which is on the one hand the point of concept albums, but it also makes the album fall a bit short, perhaps not an album you’d bring out the first thing you do. BUT – it does have all the elements we are all looking for in a good album – crowdfriendly, headbangfriendly songs with great riffs for an epic celebration to all heavy metal.

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(Label: AFM Records)

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// Sara

REVIEW: Mors Principium Est – Embers of a Dying World

Posted in CDs, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 30, 2017 by Sara Hammerzmith

Finnish melodic death metallers Mors Principium Est are back with the 6th album in their already pretty strong catalouge – having their older albums being praised all over the world and seen to be on the same level as the pioneers in the genre. Since the past album, there has been a line up change – guitarist Kevin deciding to leave the band, entering Andy Gillion who has already been writing some material, and now, after some time, the album is here.

The album opens with a rather dramatic intro – it starts off with a doomsday kind of vibe too it, before pouring into a more dreamy kind of setting. The whole thing is very cinematic, and before you know it it launches you right into the opening track “Reclaim the Sun” which shows off a bit more aggression stylewise than what the intro would perhaps suggest. I find the song being rather pleasant – not supergood, but not bad either. Decent opener! It has some magical arrangements in the middle that I’m pretty much living for. “Masquerade” is the second song of the album, and I fell in love with the rhythm of the verses on an instant. I have a thing for funky rhythms, most specially when added to a metal song.

“Into the Dark” delivers the epicness an album like this needs, with it’s fairly bombastic arrangements, followed by the more melancholic “The Drowning” which I found to be a very very pleasant song actually, growing rather fond of it the more I hear it! “Death is the Beginnig” continues on in the melancholic vibe, being a duet with a unnamed female vocalist. Perhaps some of you will kill me for not recognizing the voice, but I really don’t! I do love the arrangements though.

Another thing that caught my interest a whole lot more with this song in particular is the fact that the heartbroken feelings that the lyrics is writing about, translates extremely well into the music as well. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like this before, that kind of translation. It’s incredible. Now that is what I call writing with feelings!

We later on get picked up by “The Ghost” which at first starts of pretty nice and sweet, but soon gets more aggressive as the song goes on. “In Torment” is the first of the musclepacks of the album with it’s aggressiveness, and I get impressed by the vocals here. Some of the songs have felt a bit sloppy, as where here he’s really screaming. We get a churchinspired instrumental breakdown in “Agnus Dei” before being launched into the two last songs, as well as two more musclepacks of the album – “The Color of the Cosmos” and “Apprentice of Death”. Nice ending of the album!

So, I think overall it’s a pretty good album, most certainly moving forward – however, it feels a bit flat. While every song has it’s moments, while every song has something, just something that differs them from one another, it still feels bland. Like I’m listening to the same song. I would probably not notice if it wasn’t for the fact I didn’t really listen, you know?

But aside that, it IS a good album – I love all the little accessories and arrangements that has been done, and it is absolutely worth to check out, maybe only for the sake of that.

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(Label: AFM Records)

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// Sara