Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review: Titan's Eve - Life Apocalypse (2012)

Titan's Eve [ Website | Facebook | ReverbNation ]
Life Apocalypse

Titans Eve - Life Apocalypse
Apparently not ones to rest on the acclaim afforded their debut album, Vancouver thrashers Titan's Eve are back just over a year later with their sophomore effort Life Apocalypse. The Titan's Eve sound can be described - at least on this release - as a swirling tempest of classic and modern thrash elements. Black metal, hardcore, and even Viking metal influences emerge from the maelstrom to give Life Apocalypse a wide-ranging appeal among fans of aggressively heavy music.

The overall melodic qualities of Life Apocalypse will attract thrash fans with more practiced ears. "Destined To Die", the first song after a brief instrumental intro, is built upon a highly infectious chorus and superbly crafted main riff. As if to illustrate the band's eagerness to meld old and new schools, the track also contains a rumbling bass structure and near-breakdown riff pattern to satisfy the fans of modernity. The anthemic chorus of "Divided We Fall" recalls the fist-in-the-air refrains of years gone by, while the catchy riff toward the end of "Road To Ruin" does a fine job of punctuating a borderline filler track.

The most distinctive element of Life Apocalypse is frontman Brian Gamblin. His voice is as rough, gruff, and as scratchy as they come and a nice fit with the Titan's Eve sound. Instead of snarling the lyrics in traditional thrash metal style, Brian tends to stick with a hardcorish bark that keeps the band from edging too close to the retro thrash cliff. In fact, the one crack in Brian's solid performance comes on the song "Frozen In Time". What is otherwise an unremarkable track draws undue attention as Brian injects some melody into his delivery and winds up stumbling a bit.

Titans Eve
Brian also shares six-string duties with his brother Kyle. The two combine for some rather harmonious riffing throughout Life Apocalypse, with frequent classically-inspired solos sprinkled about as well-placed accent pieces. The solos offered on "The Abyss" are perhaps the most reminiscent of pre-'90s metal, while the searing twin-guitar beginning of "Hollow Gods" reaches back even further to touch on a bit of a NWOBHM influence. An aspect of Life Apocalypse that tends to stand out is the near-black metal tremolo riffing that dominates a handful of the songs. "Road To Ruin", "Frozen In Time", and the choruses of "Divided We Fall" are rather caustic moments where the Gamblin brothers team with drummer Casey Ory to accelerate the pace of the album to breakneck speeds.

Two instrumental tracks buried within Life Apocalypse serve as a cool oasis in the blistering heat of what is a rather scorching album. "Descension" is a very brief piece, barely more than an intro to the title track, that bears a guitar sound which reminds me of bands like Forefather and Týr. "A Wound That Never Heals", on the other hand, is a quite expansive composition which involves a variety of acoustic instruments (piano, cello, bongos) for a nice change of pace.

Life Apocalypse is a solid thrash album that makes use of both modern and vintage techniques, but it's not without occasional filler ("The Void" and "Hollow Gods" come to mind). Titan's Eve are on record saying that their approach to writing and recording Life Apocalypse was much more aggressive than their debut release, and sometimes it shows.
Track Listing
1Overcast (Intro)1:08
2Destined To Die3:08
3Road To Ruin4:17
4The Abyss4:21
6Life Apocalypse4:47
7A Wound That Never Heals3:27
8Hollow Gods4:43
9Divided We Fall2:40
10Frozen In Time5:05
11The Void3:54
Total Runtime37:59

Monday, August 27, 2012

Interview: Rebecca Press of Burn the Yeti

Lying about ten leagues to the north of London is the town of Stevenge. Once known as the home of the Vincent Motorcycle company, whose Black Shadow model was the world's fastest production motorcycle, Stevenge can now lay claim to being the base of operations for the emerging heavy doom outfit Burn the Yeti. Fronted by Rebecca Press, Burn the Yeti draws on both classic and modern metal influences as they continue to evolve their sound. Rebecca recently took some time away from writing and recording new material to participate in Harvest Moon Music's Women of Heavy Metal interview series.

[HMM] For readers who may be unfamiliar with Burn the Yeti, would you introduce the band and describe your role?

Rebecca Press - Burn the Yeti
[Rebecca] Burn the Yeti is an old school metal band with female vocals floating around on top. We have recently upped the tempo to create more of a groove. Our music is generally about overcoming negative aspects and reaching out for the positive. We started as a doom band, but this has now changed. Burn the Yeti is a mixture of influences as every member is unique in taste. We have often been related to bands like Down, Swallow the Sun, Sabbath and a few others. The main motto the band follows, if at all is to have fun and make some noise. I sing for the band and provide any random or weird suggestions. I also do the occasional art and editing.

I understand that Burn the Yeti was founded in 2010 by Bruce Hamilton (guitar) and Jim Males (bass).  How did you come to be involved with the band?

By the time I joined the band I believe they had already been going for about 9 months. I put an ad out on a site named Join My Band. I had recently left a previous project and wanted to find a band to sing with. I was contacted by the guys to come along, sing a bit and meet them. I think I was just warming up with some Nightwish when the decision had already been made.

With the word yeti being quite uncommon in the music world, is there a story behind the name Burn the Yeti?  Any implied reference to the American outfit All Hail The Yeti?

Haha the band name was chosen by Bruce and the original singer. The idea was to make it something which stood out and wasn't typically doomy. The name came around in reference to one of their friend's snoring habits. There is no reference that I am aware of, but I think it's interesting to note most speed, power metal bands reference fire, flames, but the bands which reference snow tend to be more doom, so perhaps that was also a reason behind the band name. It is often joked that many band names can tell you the band's genre. Me and a friend went through every band beginning with 'The'. We decided most of those bands were Indie. Another example would be black metal logos which cannot be read with human eyes.

Burn the Yeti released a debut, 4-track EP back in 2011 called Out of the Darkness.  Where was the album recorded, and how was the recording experience?

Our EP was recorded mainly in Stafford with the help of the University up there. We all travelled up to record our separate parts. The recording experience was interesting to say the least. I ended up recording vocals around 3 times for varying reasons, which was frustrating. However it helped me learn my lyrics and also made me consider the way in which I sang them. I became more aware of my musical cues. We took our time with recording and it was done over the summer. Sammie our drummer studies musical engineering. He and a friend worked on the mixing and mastering. The benefit of this was we had the final say on the final sound.  The experience as a whole was a learning curve which had its ups and downs. I ended up making Sammie his own badge with the words F**k you cubase on it because of how much he hated the program by the end of the process.

Burn the Yeti
How long did it take to write the songs for the album?

Originally Burn the Yeti had a male vocalist and they had a few songs already, however with the change of singers all the songs ended up going through a rewrite because singers all sing in their own ways. Burn the Yeti has undergone a fair few changes as the sound had never really been established. Since then the band now plays a key higher and faster. The four songs on the EP are the result of about a years tweaking and changing.

Is the songwriting for Burn the Yeti a collaborative process?  If so, what contributions to the writing of Out of the Darkness did you make?

Most of the song writing is collaborative, usually one of the guitarists or the bassist will record a few riffs or song ideas and send them around. We then feedback and make some changes or create a song structure and then go from there. I rewrote most of the songs and also made a few suggestions towards Out of the Darkness' intro. The lyrics are generally my territory, but with the song "Let Me Go" me and Sammie actually rewrote the lyrics together as the original's didn't fit quite right. The great thing about having many influences is the stuff we write and produce is a mixture of all our ideas. The newer songs sound a lot more heavier and melodic. Burn the Yeti's sound is gradually developing and I think this will become more noticeable when the new tracks are released.

Where does the band’s lyrical inspiration come from?

The original lyrics were written by Bruce and Jim. They were the result of personal experience and alcohol. However during the big rewrite which happened when I joined the topics and themes started to change. A lot of my themes are about overcoming personal problems and reaching out for the light or something positive. That being said, the newest song "Hit the Road" is a bit special. The song is about a girl who wants revenge on her ex so takes up the guitar to join a band. She doesn't make it as a guitarist so takes up the drums instead and decides to become a demon drummer. The song "Death of You" is almost a polar opposite. The theme is World War One and about a solider at the eastern front. Once a song has been decided and structure set up I usually write depending on my mood and the song's pace.

How has the reaction to the album been in the UK?  Have you received feedback from other countries as well?

We had a very positive response to the EP and our reviews, which can be seen on Reverbnation, were in response to the CD. We have a few listeners in the states and Europe. I have a few German pen friends who seriously enjoyed the EP and were enquiring about another CD. There has been occasions where I have sung different lyrics live and people have commented on this afterwards. Haha it is an odd experience to actually have others knowing the lyrics.

Where can readers purchase Out of the Darkness?

Burn the Yeti's EP can be purchased at out gigs for £3.50 or the band can send out a copy. Fans just need to drop the band a message via Facebook and a CD can be sent out shortly after.

Rebecca Press - Burn the Yeti
Do you have any upcoming gigs lined up?

Our next gig is September the first at Club 85 in Hitchin. We are supporting our friends Mercury House. This should be a good gig as it's our home turf. The weekend after Burn the Yeti play Balstock in Baldock which is a two day festival spread out across the town with many different acts. We are playing on the Sunday with our friends Aghast. I am looking forward to this gig as it is also a good opportunity to hear other local acts and mingle with friends. Our next gig after that is later in November.

Are there any interesting stories from previous gigs that you’d be willing to share?

One time which does spring to mind, after Burn the Yeti had played their set at club 85 a couple of months ago there was alcohol and  a Sharpie * black marker*... I walked into the band room where Sammie and Jim were scribbling on the walls mostly abuse towards Bruce haha. I returned about ten minutes later and these scribbles had evolved up the walls. I think the fire alarm now has an arrow with the words  'use when S**t gets real'. This was also the gig when I for some reason agreed to down a pint of badly mixed sugar water... I do regret doing this as it was foul.

Is there a song that is a favorite of yours to perform live?

One of my favourites to perform is "Time to Live" because the song starts with bass and I am a sucker for bass intros. The song has a very heavy break down riff and the verses break for just vocal so I can sing a little higher and softer. "Time to Live" is also a favourite of mine as it's one of the first songs I wrote lyrics for on my own.

Has the band begun writing material for a follow-up to Out of the Darkness?

Yes. We are currently recording two new songs - "Time to Live" and "Death of You". These will be released by the end of the year hopefully. There is also talk of releasing a full length album, the work of which may take place next year. The words "watch this space" come to mind.

I read that you were involved in a band called Violet Ocean and founded another called Arcane Thunder.  Were those bands similar in style to Burn the Yeti?

Haha not at all. My previous bands were power metal/ Symphonic metal bands. One of my big loves is singing classical and symphonic like Nightwish. Burn the Yeti allows me to develop as a singer on a genre which I wouldn't normal get involved in. However the band has started to change its sound which is really exciting to me as a singer because I have to adapt to new styles and improve my stamina slowly. I use to get tired after 30 minute sets, however that's not the case any more. My previous projects have allowed me to learn and improve as a singer.

Did you record anything with either outfit?

There are no recordings from my previous music project, minus a few rough and ready demos which I have haha. However they are not great. Burn the Yeti is the first band I have recorded with.

How long have you been singing, and what led to your involvement in heavy metal?

Burn the Yeti
I started singing when I was very very small. I used it as an escape from everything going on around me. I use to plug myself into an iPod Touch. I believe music is a way we can convey our emotions and feelings which are not always easy to put into words. Music helped me get over many hardships and it helped me through ups and downs.  My parents were metal heads so I was constantly exposed to metal, but when I was 14 one of my biggest influences hit the big screen. The Phantom of the Opera came to the screen and everything changed. I pushed myself until I could sing the score to Phantom including the famous vocalisation and high e of the main title song. Musical theatre became one of my biggest passions, which slowly led to me discovering Nightwish, Within Temptation, Kamelot, Swallow the Sun. These bands gave me something new to aim for and slowly my music taste crept into the heavy/symphonic and melodic stages and finally I decided to put an advert out to see if any bands were interested. My first band was a small garage band which I joined in the summer of 2008.

Are there any singers in particular who inspire or influence you?

My biggest influences as a singer are Tarja Turunen, Ramin Karminloo, Roy Khan, Tony Kakko, Marco Heitala, Jared Leto and most importantly Freddie Mercury. These are singers I have great admiration for and who have given me something to aspire to. I saw Ramin sing live and he brought me to tears because of how much emotion and feeling he expressed via his voice and songs. Freddie Mercury is a singer who is very close to home he is my dad's second cousin and his story is one I admire. He was different and he wanted to reach people via song which is the same with me. I love most singers of bands because all singers have a story to tell and they have a unique way of showing their feelings.

If there was one bit of advice that you could give to a woman with aspirations to sing in a heavy metal band, what would it be?

My biggest piece of advice is to never lose confidence in yourself. If you believe in yourself you can aspire to do anything. I know this is a very common piece of advice, however it is true if you do not believe in yourself there is no reason others should either. You need to believe in your voice and you need to get out their and find people who also believe in the same goal as you. The band is very important and they can make it possible for you to reach people. Have fun and also use every gig as an experience and learning curve. You learn a lot about your voice and capabilities. It is vital you do not let one bad gig or bad rehearsal bring you down. Use it and move on. We are always learning and music is no different.

Finally, do you have any parting words for your fans and for those who may be reading about Burn the Yeti for the first time?

I thank everyone who has supported Burn the Yeti, may it be in a small way and just liking the page on Facebook to those who have dedicated time to work with use or many of my friends who have encouraged me to continue. I also thank one person who has dragged himself to many of our gigs to catch some images for the band which was done for nothing. Acts like this really do make a lot of difference. I hope new readers check out the band and give us a chance and I also hope I can inspire others to get involved with music and the local scene. Many local bands need support and it is important to remember the big famous bands all started out playing to local crowds. Fans are very important and they make a band what it is.

So true! Thank you Rebecca for the great interview and best of luck to you and the band as you continue your heavy metal journey.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Lost Persona - Grudge Harbour (2012)

Lost Persona [ Facebook ]
Grudge Harbour

Lost Persona - Grudge harbour
Lost Persona is an ambitious four-piece outfit from Glasgow, Scotland. Initially formed in 2007, the band released a self-titled debut album in 2010 and are now back in 2012 with a four-track EP titled Grudge Harbour. The songs on Grudge Harbour are intricately crafted and overflow with heavy melodies, providing indisputable evidence of the band's self-described prog-meets-metalcore style.

Leading off Grudge Harbour is the title track, a song which contains very little of Lost Persona's metalcore roots. The swirling, downtuned riffs are accompanied by some slick, classic rock leads to produce a groovy melody that is instantaneously gripping. Aside from the thick riffs, only frontman Tony Dunn's rare shrieks hint at the brutality that Lost Persona has in store. Instead, an attractive post-metal guitar sound compliments Dunn's compelling vocal style for a fairly straightforward metal tune that is the highlight of the EP.

Lost Persona
As Grudge Harbour progresses, Lost Persona begins to gradually increase the level of metalcore-ish presence. "Open Prison" has that distinctly genre-specific alternating clean/harsh vocal style to the choruses to go along with the staccato riffs. As on the previous track, touches of reverb on some of the leads give the song a bit of a haunting quality. Lost Persona go full metalcore on "The Exhibition", as Dunn vomits the lyrics with unmistakable malice. Even so, this track features some of the band's most expressive guitar/bass interplay as Chris Dunn (guitar) and Gareth Dunion (bass) are kind enough to let us eavesdrop on a remarkably mellow and engaging jam session. The EP wraps up with "It's Never Too Late (In Limbo)", another song heavy on the post-metal atmospherics and light on the metalcore abrasiveness. The spine of the song is a catchy, strumming riff backed by intricate bass lines that is occasionally punctuated by menacing, disharmonic tones.

Although the majority of Grudge Harbour is slow to mid-paced, Lost Persona does a fantastic job holding listener attention through the use of climactic riffs and elaborate song structures. That these four Scots are serious about their music is undeniable, making them an above average contributor to the genre.
Track Listing
1Grudge Harbour5:40
2Open Prison5:37
3The Exhibition9:20
4It's Never Too Late (In Limbo)7:58
Total Runtime28:35

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Hollywood Burnouts - Excess All Areas (2012)

Hollywood Burnouts [ Website | Facebook ]
Excess All Areas
Rock Road Entertainment

Hollywood Burnouts - Excess All Areas
One of my many guilty listening pleasures has always been the glam/sleaze metal that dominated the airwaves of the mid to late '80s, an unapologetic raunchy style that provided the soundtrack for my high school years. While the memories come rushing back whenever I hear those classic tunes, I still enjoy unearthing bands that to this day are giving their all in tribute to the Aqua Net and Spandex of days gone by. Germany's Hollywood Burnouts have gone full '80s on their aptly named debut release, Excess All Areas, emulating with reckless abandon the carefree and hard-partying attitude of their sleaze-metal influences.

Not only have the guys (and girl) of Hollywood Burnouts nailed the '80s metal look, they've expertly recreated the sound perfected by bands such as Poison, Faster Pussycat, and Guns 'n' Roses. When capturing the essence of any past musical style, modern bands walk a fine line between imitation and plagiarism. Most manage to avoid a blatant rip-off, though a chord here or there may have more than a passing familiarity to it. The majority of Excess All Areas has that fresh familiarity to it that fans of the style look for from new artists. Guitarist Chrizzy Roxx, along with frontman Mike Nazzty, lays down riff upon decadent riff of C.C. Deville-inspired fun to tease those old-school memories out into the open. "Hands Of Rock", the album's lead-off and standout track, exemplifies the Hollywood Burnouts formula with its upbeat grooves, gang choruses, and Angus Young-esque solo.

Hollywood Burnouts
As catchy as anything delivered by the hair metal masters back in the day, Excess All Areas fires both barrels to deliver a healthy mix of squealing rockers and introspective ballads. Of the latter type, "A Part Of My Heart" is the strongest. Its soft piano and acoustic guitar interplay provides a well-timed break from the balls-out pace of the album's first two cuts. The album's final ballad, "Remember Me", closes out the party with a nice Irish flute melody - something definitely not common in '80s metal.

The album's only deficiencies come when Hollywood Burnouts stray a bit too close to their influences, such as the sleazy and slightly dis-harmonic leads on "Wild Side" that bear a striking similarity to those from G'n'R's "My Michelle". Not only do the leads on "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme" sport some definite Poison influence, but the strumming bass opening pulls directly from "Unskinny Bop".

The flagrant imitations aside, of which there are thankfully very few, Excess All Areas is a really fun album tailor-made for hair metal fans. Hollywood Burnouts avoid letting modern stylings invade their work, instead remaining honest to their chosen genre.
Track Listing
1Hands Of Rock3:57
3Wild Side4:25
4A Part Of My Heart5:22
5Gimme, Gimme, Gimme3:20
6I Wanna Ride4:00
7Kings Of Sin3:54
88 Lives Gone3:54
9Fake Baby4:14
10Wild At Heart4:17
11Everybody Needs A Hero4:10
12Remember Me3:06
Total Runtime47:58