Saturday, 21 February 2015

Eclipse - Armageddonize - Review

I've felt the anticipation for Armageddonize building and building when I first heard that it was in the works for early 2015. As far as I'm concerned main songwriter and lead singer Erik Martensson can do very little wrong when it comes to hard hitting melodic rock. The last Eclipse album, Bleed and Scream was a complete monster of a record with no let up. To say this band don't do fillers would be doing them an injustice. I'll say it in a positive way - they only do ball busting, mountain moving, sky scraping anthems!

An EPK was released on youtube which hinted at the glory contained within the new disk with both Erik and guitarist Magnus indicating that they felt this was their best work to date and jam packed with melodies and heaviness. Magnus said that it was heavy as possible for straight rock whilst more melodic than ever. Boy was he ever right! I had high hopes for this disk of course and to be honest they have almost been surpassed. I never thought they could possibly top Bleed and Scream but by Jove they've come perilously close if not done it by a smidgen. This band just gets better and better with every note sang by Erik and every guitar riff and lick by Magnus bursting with pure energy all wrapped up in a fat juicy production providing pure ear candy.

This is an in depth review so I will rank each song separately in the next section.

I Don't Wanna Say I'm Sorry - Any Eclipse album has to have an incendiary start and this bad boy ain't no back burner! The opening riff near takes your face off with its mean and burning riff before Erik takes over with his tales of love gone wrong which seems to be quite a theme in Eclipse songs. The chorus is melodic as hell and is easy to pick up on and you'll be singing as you're air guitaring in seconds. The solo is understated and perfect from Magnus before the song soars headlong to a smooth conclusion with some nice woaah woahs to end. A brilliant start 9/10

Stand On Your Feet - After the opening chords - Woah - a stomping monster heavy opening riff bursts out of the speakers. One of the heaviest Eclipse riffs ever! Totally awesome and then here's Erik with one of his most impassioned vocals about believing in yourself after you've hit rock bottom. A chorus so brilliant and heartfelt with melodies to die for and riffs that pound like all hell. Eclipse in a nutshell. 10/10

The Storm - Starts off acoustically before Erik comes calling in with the line "This is an emergency..." giving you a small inkling to the hookline of the chorus. The song's first verse is so melodic it's almost unbearable and then that famiuliar this is an emergency hook reappears with other plaintive lyrics with a melody so sublime you can hardly believe he came up with it. A mid paced pounder of a song but totally incredible in my eyes. 10/10

Blood Enemies - This bruiser of a song starts off with a gorgeous, soaring lead solo and keys backing before all hell breaks loose with a grinding rock and roll type of riff and Erik screaming "Holy Mother" like his life depends on it and then repeating the chorus hookline Blood of the enemy a touch later. The melodies build up on one another like bricks and you just lose track of parts that you love. The lead solo returns for an awesome re-run a touch later whilst Erik rounds the song off with his awesome vocals. I can't find fault. 10/10

Wide Open - Surely you'd think they'll take a breather now and slow the pace or throw in a power ballad but not quite. Wide Open kicks in with pounding riffs and Erik's usual first verse magic blows you away before a more sedate chorus comes and the melody chills your spine like you won't believe. The "wide open, wide open" line is one you'll be humming in your sleep let me tell you. I marvel at Erik's ability to come up with choruses that are instantly memorable and Wide Open is no different. 9/10

Live Like I'm Dying - Finally a power ballad. It had to come after the intensity of the first five songs. However don't think that this song isn't intense in it's own right. Erik's vocals plead and yearn for breath like he's being emotionally drenched from his soul. The guy surely knows how to deliver an angst ridden vocal. The chorus is once again very memorable and you feel the passion seeping through every note. Personally not my fave type of song but every Eclipse album has a couple or one. The solo is tremendous though. 8/10

Breakdown - A slight departure for Eclipse going into bluesy Whitesnake territory. Erik does his best Americanised vocal stylings with a bluesy acoustic guitar for backing before a thunderous guitar riff breaks it up and the chorus is a catchy little ditty with Erik pleading humanities constant battles in life and facing breakdowns. This song reminds me of the recent H.E.A.T album which had a similar flavour. A nice chorus but not my fave song on the album by far, but it will have it's fans for sure. 7/10

Love Bites - Oh yeah back to fast paced riff mongering and attitude galore. I've said it before and I'll have to say it again Erik grabs you by the balls from the first syllable he utters. The first verse is chock full of melody already and then you get that oh so familiar Eclipsized rasp "Love Bites!!" chorus thundering into view with Erik sounding meaner than all hell. The solo that turns up towards shred like Yngwie but is far too short. It's all about the song with Eclipse not showing off musical skills. The song is all about energy, power and melody encapsulating the Eclipse sound to the full. 10/10

Caught Up In the Rush - A mid paced pounding riff before I'm repeating myself again. The first verse grabs you by the proverbials again and we're off into joyous melodic Eclipseland yet again. The song pounds a long with another juicy chorus with some nice backing lines to spice things up a little. Once again a very short and tasty solo from Magnus towards the end of this 3 minute gem. Im running out of superlatives now.. 9/10

One Life - My Life - I knew this was going to be a huge song from the title alone before I heard the song. The first verse is quiet before Erik's melodies fully kick into gear and the soaring One Life- My Life hook drags you kicking and screaming along with it's monster anthemic feel. A song to play loud and punch the air to. The Brilliance and simplicity captures the heart and sends your head spinning round and round. Another gorgeous Magnus solo at the end of course. 9/10

All Died Young - Surely you go out with a bang and yes they didn't let me down. Possibly the heaviest song on the album with the opening riff sounding almost power metal heavy before Erik does what he's been doing all album long. Kicking ass! The chorus thunders out with a singable melody and a mystical look at living life too fast and biting the dust. This song somehow reminds me of recent Helloween believe it or not though much more concise with all the fat trimmed off. Only the short length stops me from giving this a final 10/10 as I would've liked a more epic track to end on but as far as melody and heaviness goes it's up there on this masterpiece of an album. 9/10

The bonus track is an acoustic version of The Storm which is very good and sang with great emotion by Erik. Not as good as the electric but it's nice. Would've preferred an all jamming Eclipse monster but I'll get over it!

My final words for this album: Entering with expectations set to maximum and leaving astounded! Bleed and Scream was already unreal but this is one of the best melodic rock albums recorded in modern times. I really don't how they can ever top this. Have a good try though!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Wolf Live Report at the Underworld

Sunday night gigs are never my favourite but I didn't want to miss Wolf this time as I'm a huge fan of their current album Devil Seed so a ticket was purchased with much glee on my part. Finding out that Primitai would be the main support was also also a pleasant surprise as I'm a huge fan of theirs as well.

First up were a band I haven't heard of called The Heretic Order. Not knowing a band's songs is always quite a big hindrance to enjoying a band's music in the live arena and it proved no different on this occasion either. They were competent and played a dark sort of melodic death with cleanish vocals as well. They were some sort of satanic band or occult band as well. Playing a cover of Mercyful Fate's Black Funeral should reflect what angle they were coming from. Not a disaster.

Next were local Brit heroes Primitai. Second time seeing them although the first time was in the tiny Our Black Heart pub, this was a much better venue for them to flex their not inconsiderable muscle. Front man Guy Miller has a really powerful voice and showcased that to great effect. They played songs from all three of their albums but I only came on board with the latest CD. The earlier songs are ok but they don't do a huge deal for me. I was a bit bummed they didn't play more newer songs but ending with Scream When You See Us go the metallic juices flowing nicely. A good direct support to the Swedes make no mistake and a band that went down pretty well to the gathered 200 or so crowd.

Finally the roadies got the stage ready and the Wolf boys strode on and launched straight into Overture in C Shark before smashing headlong into the amazingly raging Shark Attack. Whilst the guitars were set to stun I unfortunately couldn't hear a single vocal from the right of the stage in the front row. I was hoping this would be a first song problem but alas it seemed to continue. When the guitars were pumping the vocals could barely be heard. This was the last night of the tour so I don't know if Niklas was having vocal issues or not but I could barely hear a word he was singing at times which dampened my enjoyment somewhat.

Musically speaking the band were spot on. The riffing was taut and precise with a lovely thick and crisp Underworld sound. They played a mix of tunes covering recent albums and going as far back as the brilliant Evil Star and Black Wings. I enjoyed the guitar interplay and fast riffs of songs like Genocide and the epic chorus of the mighty Evil Star immensely. I enjoyed the new songs most of though as they are the ones I am most familiar with at the moment. My Demon is just a wickedly catchy mid paced tune. Killing Floor is awesome as well with a chorus made to be sung out loud. The band sounded very tight indeed it's just a shame that from my vantage point I found the vocals almost inaudible at times though I don't quite know what the issue was in the end.

The singer Niklas is quite an engaging little dude with quite humorous stage banter, as I find with most Swedes, although some of their humour doesn't always translate so well to an English audience hehe. The guy is a wiry little whipper snapper as well when he takes his top off and you see he hasn't got an ounce extra on him as he's riffing and head banging away like a maniac. Wolf are quite an interesting band to watch and enjoy themselves thoroughly whilst on stage as well.

Overall a night of true metal goodness and riffs galore from all 3 bands. Wolf is a band I will catch again no doubt when they come calling this way once more. I am sure they are capable of much more on another night when the vocals are a bit better and more audible with the band firing on all cylinders.

Overture in C Shark
Shark Attack
The Bite
Skeleton Woman
My Demon
Night Stalker
Evil Star
Hail Caesar
I Will Kill Again
Full Moon Possession
Skull Crusher

Speed On
Killing Floor

The Heretic Order