Friday, December 28, 2012

Dragonforce is in a Commercial

Successful advertising is successful.

-Zombie Viking

Saturday, December 15, 2012

ELUVEITIE and WINTERSUN Concert Impressions

As I'm sure you already know, Wintersun (along with Varg and Eluveitie) are currently touring through North America. For Wintersun and Varg, it's their first time here ever. Unsurprisingly, the shows are selling out left and right. The show I went to was one of those sold out ones, and man it was packed. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Opera House is not a big venue. But when Wintersun was playing, it was wall-to-wall packed. It was great.

When my friend and I finally made it inside (there was also the biggest line I've ever seen), we headed straight to the merch booth. There was no way I was going to leave another concert without a new t-shirt. Once again, we were met with another one of the biggest lines I've ever seen. By the time we made it to the front, Varg was already on stage and playing. Though I did get me a sweet Wintersun North America tour shirt. I have not taken it off since.

Except to take a picture of course!
Varg was a great way to kick off the show. They're one of those bands that sounds a lot heavier when they play live (same with Eluveitie), but they still sounded very good. The band just had good stage presence. They also reminded us quite a few times that they were Varg. From Germany. And we should buy their albums and t-shirts. Which I would have, if Wintersun had somehow completely sold out of merch. Varg made sure to play their most recognizable songs (ie their songs that have music videos) from their newest album, Guten Tag and Was Nicht Darf. Despite the lack of a mosh pit, the crowd was pretty into it. Toronto crowds are always great, and this concert was definitely no exception. As for my final thoughts on the band, they were very... German. It was great.

The sound quality was also great for this concert. Opera House is pretty inconsistent in that regard; sometimes it has great sound quality and others you can barely make out the band over the double kicks. Maybe the venue replaced their speakers recently, I don't know. Or maybe they just had to crank up the quality because Wintersun was playing. Either way, it was really nice.

The crowd was already going crazy for Wintersun the moment Varg left. There were even cheers when the banner was raised behind the stage. There was never any doubt in my mind that the majority of the crowd was there for Wintersun. It was around this time that the venue became wall-to-wall packed as I described before. The notes started playing, the band came out to Sons of Winter and Stars and everything just melted away. Seeing Wintersun play doesn't feel like you're at a concert, it's an experience. The song sounded the exact same as it does on the album. It just added to the experience when the crowd started singing along and everyone threw their hands in the air. I mean, normally I'd be pretty uncomfortable being pressed up against the wall, but it didn't bother me much here.

The Opera House looked something like this.
Over the course of their set, Wintersun played the entirety of Time I (intros and everything) and some songs off the self titled album like Battle Against Time and Starchild. Though in my opinion, and this brings me to my only complaint, they should have played Winter Madness instead of Battle Against Time. Wintersun songs have a tendency to incorporate tons of different sounds in them. It shouldn't all work together, but it just does. And like I said before, many of the songs they played sounded exactly like they do on the album. The only thing that didn't really translate well live was the songs with constant blast beats, like Battle Against Time. The problem is actually that Kai is good at playing drums and can do proper blast beats, which means that they're all that can be heard when he's doing them, blocking out the rest of the song. This is of course a minor complaint. Wintersun is definitely the best band I've seen live and I'd buy tickets to their next show here the moment they announce it. I didn't take any pictures or videos of Wintersun (or the rest of the bands) since I was too busy enjoying the show, but here's a video of them playing Time.

It was nice seeing Eluveitie because half the crowd had left by that time. At that point, the crowd was as dense as it is at normal concerts. There were still quite a few people there, mind you, but I could actually move a couple feet to either side. The band took quite a while to set up, for really no good reason. They brought out Chrigel's little hangar of tricks with all the instruments that he played strapped onto it. It was cool seeing what he'd pull off of it at any given song. The instruments included a small harp and a flute. Then the roadies took away Wintersun's drum kit and replaced it with... not much. Eluveitie's drum kit consisted of a snare, two or three toms, a single bass drum, a high-hat, ride and crash cymbals and nothing else. Being one of the most customizable instruments, and with Eluveitie consisting of so many different sounds, it was an interesting choice to say the least. They had more of a drum kit the last time I saw them.

Elueveitie is definitely one of the heavier folk metal bands around and they know it. Chrigel was constantly trying to make the (already large) mosh pit larger and larger. It all culminated in one of the biggest walls of death the venue could hold after he stated that he wanted it "to look like Braveheart". Anyway, the band played the entirely of Helvetios. It's not a bad album by any means, it's just a lot to take in at once. Just a constant barrage of melodeath. That's sort of what Eluveitie's set felt like. It definitely wasn't bad, and they are actually also one of the better bands I've seen live. It was just that, after Wintersun, I had already spent a lot of my energy and Eluveitie kept wanting me to give more. I did however eventually make my way to the front of the crowd and got a pretty good view of the show from there.

The folk elements were alive and well in the songs. They were definitely louder than the previous two bands, but it didn't take away from the performance much. The songs that worked the best were the ones that had flute and violin playing the same parts since it was much easier to distinguish between the folk and the metal. The most surprising part of the whole set though was during The Siege. My mouth was wide open when I realized it was Anna who was doing the screaming vocals alongside Chrigel. Between that and the clean vocals during Rose for Epona, I have to say that girl is talented. And she can play the hurdy-gurdy. Bonus. See the video below for some Anna. After they finished Helvetios, Eluveitie took a quick break and came out for the longest encore ever, playing songs from their previous albums. It wasn't an Eluveitie show unless they played Inis Mona! The songs all sounded good, and it was interesting to see how much the band has changed over the years. They even played that unreleased song that they included on their most recent compilation. And it sounded pretty good live.

The entire concert felt more like an experience than a show. Every band was amazing. The only downside to that though is how much energy it takes out of you. There were definitely some people who were moshing and stuff the entire time, but the crowd was noticeably more quiet after they had finished all singing along to Death and the Healing. I guess that's why it's better to have unknown local bands start off the show sometimes. But yeah, everything was good. Everyone should have an idea by now about how Eluveitie is live. Wintersun is like listening to the album with hundreds of people. Varg is also a very good live band. And they're from Germany. Buy their stuff. In fact, buy Wintersun's and Eluveitie's stuff too. Every band on this card should be supported to no end, they're all amazing.

-Zombie Viking

Also, I'd like to give a shout-out to the guys wearing the bear costumes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pathfinder... Or is it Catfinder?

Just thought I should post this. How many bands do you know of that have this many cats? None, I bet.


-Zombie Viking

Monday, December 10, 2012

Metal Mondays: Fleshgod Apocalypse

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there aren't enough symphonic death bands. There's Septic Flesh, uh... Eternal Tears of Sorrow? Ex Deo? Maybe Wintersun depending on how loose your definition of death metal is. That was until this great Italian band came along!

Fleshgod Apocalypse
Country: Italy
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal

Fleshgod is a very interesting band. I have no idea what their name is supposed to mean or how the band managed to explode onto the scene. They've only been around since 2007, releasing their first full-length in 2009, and I've already heard of them! How great is that? They must be pretty proud of themselves. Though as a band with a unique sound like theirs, it's hard to stay unnoticed.

Fleshgod's first album, Oracles, was a standard brutal death affair. It was alright, but I don't listen to too much straight-up death and Benighted already did what they were trying to do better. Perhaps it has some of the elements that make Agony so awesome, but I haven't spent much time with the album nor have any desire to, so I'm not sure. Agony, however, combines the unrelenting death with a wonderful symphonic score. The two sounds are so different, yet compliment each other so nicely. And they have audible blast beats! They're such a rarity that it always pleases me when I can actually hear the snare being violently beaten. Most bands have drummers where you can only hear the cymbal being hit, completely defeating the purpose of a blast beat. Not so is the case here.

Why is every picture of them in suits?
The only thing that stands out like a sore thumb is the singing bassist. It worked with Dimmu, it worked with Nightwish, but it just hurts the music in Fleshgod Apocalypse. Paolo Rossi isn't a bad singer by any means, it's just that he can get very high pitched. The whole thing just distracts from the rest of the song and doesn't really add anything. In some songs it's alright (The Hypocrisy), but in others it just gets annoying (The Violation). I'm sure it could turn out well in future albums, but some work needs to be done at better incorporating his voice into the songs.

All in all, Fleshgod Apocalypse is a very interesting and unique band. Check them out if you want something different or just want to hear some brutality.

-Zombie Viking

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Forums are Not Metal

When it comes to metal discussion, forums just don't do. While looking for something to occupy my time with, I've checked out a few. MetalArchives and Reddit come to mind for what I've found. I'm sure there's others, and some official forums of bands (which may actually be better), but I don't really have a desire to look them up.

The problem is that there isn't really too much to discuss in terms of metal. You can state how awesome a band or album is, or experiences at a festival or.. something. But blogs are so much better suited for that! I would rather read a metal blog than have to drag through a boring online conversation. I'm not even sure why this is. You can talk about metal in person easily enough, comparing your favourite bands and concert experiences to someone else. Maybe it's the added emotion and ability to describe. And having less people in on the actual conversation. It's nice talking to just one or two people as its a more personalized story you're hearing. I can get an overview of a concert from an article or a blog post, I don't need twenty people fighting about if the band was good or not.

So in my opinion, if you're going to read about metal, check out a blog instead of a forum. Of course mine is highly recommended, but some of the more popular metal blogs (which can easily be found on google) have some pretty cool things that mine lacks, such as interviews with bands. I'm not going to name any names, because they probably wouldn't endorse me back, so find whatever suits you.

Stay metal.

-Zombie Viking

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ancient Bards

Here's a band that definitely doesn't have the recognition they deserve. Ancient Bards is a female-fronted folk/symphonic metal band from Italy. Check them out!

-Zombie Viking

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jari's Master Plan

I recently discovered an unexpected side effect of listening to Time I. It makes everything epic. Perhaps too epic. Just walking down the street, it is almost unnoticeable since I always listen to music walking to and from places. However, doing other mundane objects like making food or taking a piss...
Jari you trickster!

Now that almost everything I do is epic, I feel senses of accomplishment where I shouldn't. Sure, I may be all joyous now, but when someone tells me I did literally nothing different from any other day in my life, that's where I can feel the full weight of the situation. I become less productive and reward myself more because everything I do feels like an accomplishment. My productivity has come to a halt and I find myself writing in the blog I said less than a week ago that I would abandon.

Maybe this was Jari's plan all along. Maybe he's trying to stop time altogether. Surely everyone would notice if he was to execute his plan all at once, so he split it up into smaller pieces! Once Time II is released, everything will come to a grinding halt. We'll all feel so unmotivated to do anything because any little event will be met with a standing ovation and the most epic soundtrack known to man. I'm on to you Jari. I will personally put a warning label on every copy of Time II that reads "caution: take in small doses". The ball is in your court.

-Zombie Viking

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Off to the Concert

In a few hours I'll be going to the Opera House again to see Epica and Alestorm (among other bands). It'll be my third time seeing Alestorm and first seeing any female-fronted metal band. Hopefully I'll even get an Alestorm shirt finally.. They even promised something special, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what it is!

Oh you guys
I'll be posting my concert impressions either Friday or this weekend, so stay tuned. It will also be the last post here for a bit.. I've decided to focus a bit more on school than my blog, and hopefully that will pay off in the long run. It's definitely not the end of anything though, as I will get back to blogging as soon as I can.

I'll leave you with this Epica music video. I think it just perfectly blends the beautiful symphonic music and metal. Enjoy!

-Zombie Viking

Monday, October 29, 2012

Metal Mondays: Alestorm

Yarr, there be pirate metal aboard!

YARRRR- wait, what?
Genre: Pirate Metal
Country: Scotland

Alestorm, the one and only True Scottish Pirate Metal band has made quite an impact in the relatively short time since their debut. They were formed in 2004 under the name Battleheart and released their first official record under the name Alestorm in 2008. After Captain Morgan's Revenge, Black Sails at Midnight and Back Through Time have followed. And already, the band is prepping for their first ever headlining festival.

Those crazy pirates.
Alestorm's music is unique in the sense that it's hilarious the first time, but as you continue to listen to it, there's a good musical backing as opposed to the music just being there for cheap laughs. Their lyrics range from grand adventures to just getting drunk. The songs do a good job of not breaking the pirate theme (besides maybe Scraping the Barrel, but that song's pretty awesome in its own right) so you always feel like a swashbuckler listening to an Alestorm album. The only thing I'd like to see more of is for the band to dive deeper into pirate lore. As countless movies and games have shown, there's a lot of pirate stuff to be explored. I did enjoy Back Through Time though, as it felt like the band responding to the current metal scene (viking metal specifically) and of course Swashbuckled served as a great call out to Swashbuckle. They have the unique spot of being one of the only pirate metal bands in existence (though there are finally some other bands catching on to the idea) so I think Alestorm should embrace it more.

Alestorm is also the only band I've seen live more than once. This Wednesday will be my third time seeing them in concert. Maybe I'll even finally get a t-shirt. The first time I saw them was one of my first concerts, so I didn't even bring enough money for merch. The second time they had completely sold out the day before. Hopefully the third time's the charm.

Speaking of seeing Alestorm live, they are a great live band. For some reason, they're the only band for which I know practically every word of every song. No matter what they play, I'll be singing along. Even driving in my car I sing along whenever I decide to play Back Through Time. The band itself is just so much fun. And I'm not the only one. The entire crowd goes crazy whenever Alestorm rolls through town. From every single person singing Nancy the Tavern Wench to a giant mosh pit erupting during Back Through Time, it's always a great time. I just wish they'd play Heavy Metal Pirates once! I think it would be an amazing live song.

Nothing needs to be said about this poster.
I definitely have a lot of Alestorm memories, as they keep coming to me as I'm writing. Chris Bowes is a great guy. He really knows how to keep a crowd entertained. He always has some joke to say in between songs or he just plays some catchy riff on his keytar. The first time I saw them, he even played for a good minute because the guitarist was having technical difficulties that the crew was fixing. Then there's Dani Evans who always always jumps off stage right when the band has finished their set and walks through the crowd to the bar. Once he has a drink in his hands, he takes the time to interact with fans, signing things or just talking to people. It's great to see a band that likes its fans so much. Chris Bowes also happens to be a part of a little band called Gloryhammer, who, as some of you may remember, linked to my blog on their Facebook page. These guys are pretty awesome.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this great band again this Wednesday. It's always a good time when Alestorm is in town!

-Zombie Viking

Friday, October 26, 2012

Instant Viking Headwear

With the added bonus of being warm! Now you can instantly grow a beard and become a real viking.

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hair is Meant for Growing

I'm glad long hair is getting more mainstream. It's hard to walk around campus or even down the street any more and not see someone with awesome metal hair. Long hair even seems to be breaking in to genres besides metal; I've seen a few pop posters that feature guys with uncharacteristically long hair.

Picture semi-related
I'm not sure if metal is just more popular now or if people are getting lazy, but it is pretty cool to see. Luckily enough, this doesn't make it any harder to spot metalheads since fans of other genres haven't seemed to start growing their hair out just yet. It just makes me feel like there's people all around me that share my interests. In the past month alone I must have passed at least 5 guys with sweet Amon Amarth shirts. Now this is a trend I want to see continue.

How about you guys? Do you notice that you've started seeing a lot more guys with long hair recently? Or is this just a local phenomenon for me? Let me know!

-Zombie Viking

Monday, October 22, 2012

Metal Music Video Mondays: Head Up High by Firewind

I've had a thing for this song since I first heard it. It's just so catchy and the band is so talented. Plus the music video isn't too bad as far as metal videos go. This is definitely one of my favourite Firewind songs if not the favourite.

I should probably give Firewind a second chance.. I put a couple of their albums on my mp3 player a couple years ago but they just didn't click. The music itself was great for the most part, I just found myself always skipping over their songs to get to ones that I knew better. After a few months, I deleted those albums and haven't really listened to them since. It's this song though that keeps me coming back to Firewind. I especially think now that I listen to so much more power metal than before that I'll enjoy this band. I'll check them out again when I get a chance.

Gus G is the man!

-Zombie Viking

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wintersun - Time I Review

The moment you've been waiting 8 long years for is finally here. Jari Mäenpää and friends are back with an album that's bigger and better in almost every way. Time I is more technical, heavier, softer, more symphonic and has longer songs than Wintersun's debut. It is, however, shorter, but I'll get to that later.

The cover is just one of the strikingly beautiful and detailed things about this album.
Every song on Time I is a masterpiece. They all sound entirely different and elicit completely different (but strong nonetheless) emotional responses. Sons of Winter and Stars is the heaviest and fastest track on the album and Land of Snow and Sorrow the lightest. Time is somewhere in between, featuring some fast and some more 'acoustic' (that's not the right word.. how about unplugged) sections. When Time Fades Away serves as a gradual introduction to the album with Darkness and Frost acting as an interlude between the last two songs. It all fits together really nicely and every song (with perhaps the exception of When Time Fades Away) can stand on its own and give any listener a full Wintersun experience.

Sons of Winter and Stars is the highlight of the album, featuring the widest array of musical styles and most shreddy guitar. It's also the longest, clocking in at 13 minutes and 31 seconds. That's not to say that the song drags on. In fact, those 13 minutes of your life will fly by and you'll find yourself wanting to use up that time over and over again. I've already listened to the song three times today alone. The song starts off with the end of When Time Fades Away, giving an oriental vibe as Jari previously stated the album would contain. It then kicks off in true Wintersun style, a barrage of expertly crafted sounds that all seem to sync together perfectly. It's on this track that you can hear the increased symphonic elements of the album. Despite the fact that Jari didn't get an actual orchestra (which is something I'd like to see for future album releases), the end result is probably even better. The symphonic sections are made up of not just orchestral elements, but also oriental and sometimes even electronic sounds. It all combines to make some of the most unique melodies I've heard. Of course the guitars, drums, keyboards and vocals on top of it all add yet another element to the music. The first time I heard "Sons of Winter and Stars RISE", the experience commenced. I just can't get over how expertly timed everything is and how well it all works together. The song continues for a normal Wintersun length before it slows down at the 7 minute mark for an amazing acoustic bridge. Then it picks up again and goes back to the ferocity of the first half. Then, just when I thought I couldn't be surprised any more by the song, Jari's all-star chorus (which was teased on Youtube, see below) kicks in, increasing the epicness tenfold; if that was even possible. One of the reasons cited for the album being split in two was the fact that the music just can't all be listened to in one sitting. After this song, I can see what they mean by that. I had to take a break and let it all sink in.

Well seeing how long that was, I don't think I'm going to individually review the rest of the songs.. There's plenty that I could say for any song or even any given second of the album, but the most important is "go listen to it for yourself". Once I finished listening to the album (after taking a break in between each song of course), I found myself letting the disc go back to the first song and playing it all over again. Despite Jari being the mastermind behind this project, I think the rest of the band deserves huge props. This album wouldn't have been possible without the help of Kai, Teemu and Jukka, all extremely talented in their own right. After all, there's a limited amount of mortals who possess the prowess needed to play alongside Jari. I also especially enjoyed Kai's drumming.

Some of the greatest musicians in metal.
Despite the near perfection of the tracks it contains, I have one main gripe with Time I and it has to do with the 'I' in the title. This feels like (and is) merely half an album. Ignoring When Time Fades Away and Darkness and Frost, there are only three real songs. Despite the length of each individual song, the album as a whole left me wanting more. It is unfortunate that each part of Time couldn't have more tracks similar to Stratovarius' Elements, Pt.1 and Pt.2. Though that album was split because of the overflowing amount of songs, not the unfinished nature of some. However, comparing Time I to any other band or album is a disservice. It is so wholly different to anything else you could possibly find that it just can't be equated. In the end, my gripe is a small one. I don't think I (or the fanbase as a whole) would have wanted to wait even longer for every song to be completely finished. I'm sure that once Time II is released, the two halves will make an amazing whole.

In the end, Time I was worth the wait. Every song is so masterfully crafted that it warrants multiple listens. Although it does feel like half an album is missing, Time II will most likely be worth the wait as well. If Wintersun was trying to take my money, the succeeded. Not only will I give them money for the album, but I now have an even more burning desire to see them live when they finally come here in December. I'll see you soon Wintersun!

Rating: 98/100

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Suburbs are Kvlt

This is what I want to be when I grow up. The pentagrams are a nice touch.

-Zombie Viking

Friday, October 12, 2012

Coffee Pentagram

This must be what they serve at Duncan Hills. I'd like a large latte, extra Satan.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, October 8, 2012

Metal Music Video Mondays: Cyber Girl by Xe-NONE

These guys are crazy. I don't mean crazy good or anything like that, they're just not right in the head. But that's why I love them. Xe-NONE brings something new to the table: dance metal! They took a break from posting their absolutely dreadful live performances (I'm sorry!) to post a new music video for their year-old album.

I have to say, the video actually starts off pretty good. It has a lot of cool effects and it feels like it's going to get pretty epic. Then... it kind of goes downhill. Not really much happens except for the band playing their song in a completely poster-filled room. Especially bad are the scenes showing vocalist Lexy Dance with some guy standing in the background just trying to stay out of the shot.

Regardless, this song and band is pure fun. I like Lexy's dance moves halfway through the song and the rest of the band seems to be enjoying themselves. I had also never heard this song in Russian, so that's something new. They should get around to making a new album, but after that I expect to see more videos.

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Metal Zodiac

Find out what type of metalhead you are based on your astrological sign. It looks like I'm Korpiklaani since I'm a Capricorn. Most of these guys are pretty recognizable too.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, October 1, 2012

Metal Mondays: Stalling Edition

Happy October!

Hey everyone. I've been busy with school lately, so there isn't an official Metal Monday per se. In fact, no guarantees that there will be many, if any, new posts for the next little bit. I previously posted my schedule here so you should all know how busy I am.

I'm currently working out something (maybe pictures) to be posted regularly to keep this blog active. Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. Also, as soon as I can, I promise I'll go back to regular posts.

In the meantime, check out some of my older Metal Mondays: Powerwolf, Gloryhammer, Pathfinder, Arafel and my popular posts tab on the right side of the page.

Be sure to check back often.

-Zombie Viking

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Many Instruments of Metal

Guitars, drums, and keyboards (to a lesser extent) are all to be expected in metal. Very close to every single band uses them. Hell, they're the steadfast instruments of most genres of music. But that's not to say they're the only ones. Metal is an extremely diverse genre, and there have been a lot of influences from a lot of unexpected places. This includes the actual instruments.

So brutal.
Symphonic metal is so named because of its orchestral element. Most symphonic metal bands use full orchestras to play the backing or even the main riffs of their songs. Just look at Dimmu's new album. These are instruments a typical non-metalhead wouldn't expect to find within the boundaries of metal. Obviously orchestras are made up of many string, brass, and woodwind instruments that on their own aren't even close to metal. Combined with a metal riff though, they can make something beautiful. Yes, I'm not too "manly" to use the word 'beautiful'. Jeeze.

Folk metal is another unexpected combination that works well, especially considering how popular it currently is. It takes folk instruments, most of which I'm sure you've never heard of, and adds them to the standard metal repertoire. The glory of folk metal is how different each band sounds. Eluveitie uses flutes, bagpipes, and a hurdy-gurdy, while Korpiklaani uses a violin and accordion. I really enjoy songs that start off with a catchy folk beat and switch to a jarring metal riff.

Not really a conventional metal band.
There are also bands in more conventional metal genres that add new instruments. Most of the time it's a keyboard, which has become so popular now it can be mentioned in the standard instruments. I'm looking at you, Dragonforce. A few bands add some more unconventional instruments though. I've been trying to remember the band forever, they're a death metal band with a violin player. I've been looking for a bit but can't seem to find them, so maybe they never existed in the first place and I'm just going crazy.

Metal is one of the most open and accepting genres of music out there. Many different bands use influences from the weirdest places and make it metal. I didn't even touch on bands that use computers as an instrument, with synthesized beats, drum machines, voice changers, and much more. That's just one of the reasons why metal is the best genre ever.

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Hate Whiny Vocals

As I was getting in to metal, the route I took was straight to death metal. I listened to some progressive and folk metal too when I was first starting out (and got back in to folk metal later on), but even then I didn't listen to anything without harsh vocals. Most people say they can't stand growls and screams, well I can't stand whiny vocals.

Sweet tats bro! So br00tal
I actually had to acquire a liking of clean vocals. I can stand Dragonforce, Sabaton, Korpiklaani, and anyone who's voice doesn't crack as they're singing. This made it significantly harder for me to get in to power metal. I do enjoy power metal, but there's a really fine line between epic and annoying that too many bands seem to cross. If you're going to sing clean vocals, sing like a man! Of course, when I want to find an example I can't.. so I'll just post an example of a good power metal band instead, Sabaton.

Obviously, since metalcore is the personification of everything wrong with metal, it has its fair share of annoying vocals. Metalcore especially feels the need to insert whiny vocals in every damn song, no matter how good their vocalist is (and some are actually good, I'll admit it). Clean vocals in these songs sound like kids going through puberty. This is possibly because most metalcore bands haven't reached puberty yet.

If you're going to do something, do it right.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, September 24, 2012

Metal Mondays: Eternal Decay

I don't know what's going on here..
Eternal Decay
Genre: Melodic Black Metal
Country: Israel 

Eternal Decay is a small black metal band from Israel. When I say small, I mean both their popularity and actual band size. The band is only three people. Now normally three person bands have two guitarists (one of which also does vocals) and a drummer. But Eternal Decay has a drummer, keyboardist and guitarist/bassist/vocalist. Must be hard to play two guitars live.

I actually found out about this band while mindlessly browsing through Youtube. The following video appeared:

This is probably the most random metal video I've ever seen. There's a few pictures of the band mixed in with "evil" looking things and the most broken English I've ever heard in a song. And I loved it. I immediately ordered the album which was only available through Ebay for some reason. The coolest part is that the band actually shipped me the album straight from Israel. They included a bunch of cool things like a sticker and pamphlet detailing the band. This was also all cheaper than a typical album that hadn't been shipped half way across the world.

I can say that I personally wrote their bio on, which is kind of cool if you think about it. I can't say though that I've seen them live. Apparently they did come here recently, but I didn't find out about it until afterwards. Hopefully they come again.

As I said previously, this band is very much lacking in listeners. It's some solid melodic black metal with a good vocalist, interesting drum beats and a symphonic undertone. Be sure to check them out!

-Zombie Viking

Friday, September 21, 2012

Winter(sun) is Coming

That title was the best pun I ever made in my entire life..

So Wintersun is coming to North America for the first time ever. To promote their new album that took 8 years to make. I would love to go, as I'm sure a few of you understand. If I do go, you can expect a full in-depth concert review like I did for Korpiklaani/Moonsorrow/Tyr.

However, they're going to be in Toronto on December 13th, which is right in the middle of exam week for me. As much as I like Wintersun, I do potentially have the opportunity to see them again in the future. I don't have a chance to write another exam if I screw up. I don't have my exam schedule currently and I won't until a few weeks before it starts, so I can't say yet for sure if I'll be going to this concert or not. If I have a few free days around December 13th, you can expect to see me there.

I'll keep you guys updated for when I have an answer for sure.

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Metal is Not to Be Taken Seriously

Metal, like many other niche products, does not take itself seriously. People who bother to find and listen to it obviously already like the product, so there's no need to impress anyone. Musicians can just relax and release what they enjoy making. Since we're such a great community of people, this usually leads to carefree and humorous music.

A good place to start is with Dragonforce. I've had countless people ask me how I can listen to them. They've called Dragonforce garbage, untalented and unoriginal. But they're just taking it too seriously. How can you honestly look at a group of guys with their hair down to their anus and analyze every single note they're playing? Sure, every song sounds the same, they constantly mention fire, ice, and dragons, and they have 5 minute solos, but that's what makes them funny! Dragonforce is literally the epitome of lulz when it comes to metal. They've unfortunately taken a more "we're going to actually play music now" approach with their new album and vocalist though. Despite that, the music they make is still pretty epic and retains the laser-powered guitar solos that they're known for. It's just now backed with real power metal.

Sure, there are many satanic, political and generally antisocial bands out there, but it's just to scare away the mainstream. When a typical person looks at black metal, they see Gorgoroth, Burzum and Taake scowling back at them (my post on crazy black metal musicians is here). A trve metalhead though (see what I did there?) knows that just under the surface lies Immortal in all their panda-faced glory. And who can take Immortal seriously? They don't even take themselves seriously.

I'm being so serious right now!
Anybody who just generalizes metalheads into one big group of no-humour satanists is dead wrong. Metalheads are the nicest people ever (why else would we help people up who fall down in mosh pits?) who don't take their music too seriously. We're just here to have fun. Anyone who gives you the wrong impression is probably either a genre whore, 12 year old, or a scene kid.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, September 17, 2012

Metal Mondays: Blackguard

There aren't too many big name metal bands from Canada. Rush is pretty cool but they're not exactly metal. Kataklysm is the only thing that really comes to mind, but I personally prefer the vocalist's side project Ex Deo. Being from Canada and not really listening to death or thrash kind of limits the amount of local bands that I care to check out.There's some good stuff here and there, but none of these bands will ever make it big. Sad but true. That's why Blackguard is such a breath of fresh air in the Canadian metal scene; to me at least.

Also, mead.
Genre: Melodic Death Metal with folk influences
Country: Canada

These guys (and girl) make some quality melodeath. They've released two albums so far under Blackguard and one under their previous name, Profugus Mortis. Best of all, they come from Quebec, Canada. I hear there's quite a metal scene over there. This is another baby band, started in 2001 and releasing their first album in 2007, but they've already started making a name for themselves. They were until recently signed to Nuclear Blast and even got their own music video.

I actually found out about this band through a Canadian show called Todd and the Book of Pure Evil (which I have previously posted about). Todd was wearing a Blackguard shirt throughout the episode and some pretty awesome music was playing in the background. I searched up the band and sure enough that awesome song came up again in the results. I bought Firefight shortly after when I saw it in a store and am very happy with my decision.

Blackguard plays a typical enough flavour of melodeath. If you've listened to Dark Tranquility or In Flames you know roughly what to expect for the majority of the song. However, they build on top of that sound and add in folk elements. A keyboard is the majority of this sound, but there are also some genuinely folky parts. They're fun to listen to. And apparently also fun live in concert, if I ever get a chance to see them. Chances are high though since they do quite a bit of Canadian tours. If only I had found out about them sooner...

Blackguard is a Canadian band with promise. They have a solid melodeath foundation and build on top of it with good ol' folk metal. They enjoy what they do and I enjoy listening to them. If you haven't already, check them out!

-Zombie Viking

Friday, September 14, 2012

Musician Spotlight: Peter Tägtgren

Peter Tägtgren is one of those guys that's just able to do everything. You've almost definitely listened to something that he helped create in one way or another- whether you know it or not. He's been making awesome music since 1990 and in that time has become a huge part of the metal scene. Yes, the metal scene. Like, as a whole.

He also sorta looks like Johnny Depp if you look at him from the right angle.. in the right light.
Peter is best known for being the mastermind behind the huge death metal band Hypocrisy. He created the band after living in America for a bit and becoming involved with the death metal scene here. He returned to Sweden and created one of the most kickass bands ever. How's that for a vacation? Hypocrisy has been around for 22 years and released 12 albums. Also, Horgh (of Immortal fame) has been the drummer since 2004. Me likey. Hypocrisy has played all sorts of death metal from traditional to a more melodeath sound and back again. That's great and all, but it's not until you realize how much other stuff Peter has done in that time (while keeping the damn band alive, mind you) that you start to become amazed.

He also has a side project that I am a huge fan of: Pain. Well, if you call Pain a side project.. It's been just as active as any band in the time it's been around. Pain has released 7 albums since 1996 when it was formed. Peter basically just goes back and forth from Hypocrisy to Pain to record an album or go on tour. Also, he was the only member for quite some time and I'm pretty sure still makes the majority of the music. The reason why I like this band so much is because it's so different from the majority of what I listen to. Pain is industrial metal, grouped in with the likes of Rob Zombie and Nine Inch Nails. Peter sings clean vocals to round out the different style; something I bet most metal vocalists aren't able to do. The first few albums were almost entirely electronic before shifting to a more traditional rock-ish sound. Still great though. To hear the difference in these two bands, just listen to the songs below.

Same guy. He has also appeared as a guest musician in countless other bands including: Bloodbath, The Abyss, Lock Up and War.

Of course, this is not all Peter spends his time doing. For he lives his life the metal way. 24/7 metal. Metal in the morning, metal in the night. Etc. etc. He also owns The Abyss studio and has produced quite a few albums. You may have heard of some of the bands he's produced albums for. I'm going to post a list of them because lists make stuff seem longer and more impressive.
The Abyss, Naglfar, Death Organ, Dark Funeral, Fleshcrawl, Hypocrisy (obviously),  Setherial, Marduk, Pain (obviously), Dimmu Borgir, Abruptum, Therion, War, Amon Amarth, Dispatched, Love Like Blood, Enslaved, Raise Hell, Thyrfing, Immortal, Borknagar, Children of Bodom, Old Man's Child, Rotting Christ, Susperia, Grimfist, Grave, Celtic Frost, Noctiferia, Sabaton, Tarja, Overkill, Abigail Williams, Belphegor, Legion of the Damned, Kampfar, The Unguided, Loudblast, Septicflesh
So yeah. Chances are you've heard something that Peter Tägtgren has been a part of in one way or another. I thank him for everything he's given to the metal industry. He's quite an interesting person and a genius musician. Also he owns a small town in Sweden, so that's pretty cool too. Keep on rocking!

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

PSA: No One Cares If You Don't Like a Band

I'm tired of seeing people complain that a musician left a band. Stuff happens guys, people move around. It's basically the equivalent of complaining that someone switched jobs. Are you really expected to work at the same job for 20 years? Well that's what musicians do.

Yeah! Wait, what?..
Yes, Jari left Ensiferum and Petri is there now. That doesn't mean the band is now crap. It's a new band now with a new style. Petri may not be as skilled technically as Jari but that doesn't mean that everything he plays on guitar is terrible. Anette is currently the vocalist of Nightwish and she has been doing a great job. She sings in a different style than Tarja, which doesn't mean she's bad. If you want to listen to Tarja, listen to old Nightwish or her solo albums she started releasing. Nightwish is a new band now with new members. That means it should be looked at differently than their first few albums. And can everyone please stop complaining about Rafał and Krimh. It's very tragic what happened with Vitek and Covan, but Decapitated is and always will be an amazing band.

Seriously, no one ever complains when the bassist leaves.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, September 10, 2012

Metal Mondays: Graveworm

Their bodies are all connected. The band is actually just one big mass of musician.
Genre: Melodic/Symphonic Black Metal
Country: Italy

Graveworm has been around for quite some time but is still painfully unknown. They may not make the most original music ever, but they seamlessly blend beauty and brutality. Keyboards provide the ambience while the guitars are chugging out fast and heavy riffs. This is all background to the powerful vocals of Stefan Fiori.

Stefan is actually one of the most powerful metal vocalists I've heard. I'm not sure why this alone hasn't gotten the band some more recognition. He goes from deep growls to extremely high pitched screams multiple times each song. Just listen to the first 30 seconds of Bloodwork to see what I mean.

He wears the most unfitting things during performances though.
Graveworm was actually the most played artist in my library for quite some time (according to at least). It's not that I would choose their songs to play, it's just that I never really skipped any. Ever. I was fine with listening to every song I had by them and the listens just piled up. Currently they are my seventh most listened to band of all time (of alllll timeee), right behind Korpiklaani and Amon Amarth.

I did mention that the band has been around for quite some time (since 1992), and in that time they've changed quite a bit. Graveworm started off as a gothic metal band with some tinges of black metal. Then around Engraved in Black they fully shifted to a melodic black metal sound. Finally, a couple albums later with Collateral Defect they started to shift to a more death metal style. And on Diabolical Figures, the band became fully immersed in death metal while still keeping a bit of their black and gothic heritage. If you listen to an album that you don't particularly like but can hear some potential, just pop in another and you'll get almost a completely different sound.

Graveworm is probably best known for doing metal covers of non-metal songs. Well, it's not that they're known for that per se, it's just what every non-metalhead looks up. Their most popular (according to Youtube) is their cover of Holding Out For a Hero by Bonnie Tyler. Here is Graveworm's I Need a Hero.

Whether you like beautiful or brutal, gothic or death metal, Graveworm has you covered. For such a wide array of music they've put out and such a powerful vocalist, their lack of popularity is questionable at best. The least you can do is go and check them out.

-Zombie Viking

Friday, September 7, 2012

Where Has the Stupid Gone?

Youtube comments just aren't what they used to be. I had planned to make a "stupid comments on metal Youtube videos" post, but no one seems to be posting anything funny anymore. Where have all the Justin Beiber comments gone? Why is no one arguing about religion? All that's left is people preemptively telling everyone to enjoy the song and not start any flame wars. Where's the fun in that?! I haven't been going out of my way or anything, but I've been casually searching the comments of videos I've watched over the past couple months and this is all I've found.

This is the best the internet has to offer. Thanks for sucking the humour out of Youtube comments everyone. Now it's just a mass of one word comments that mean absolutely nothing. I already know that the song is awesome, that's why I'm listening to it. I want to see people discuss something completely unrelated. That's why I read the comments.

If everyone who reads this can go start an argument on a random Youtube video, I will be one very happy person. I only wish to make the internet a funnier place. To bring it back to its former glory. Go my minions, go spread anarchy. *queue evil laughter*

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Venue Hunting: 70000 Tons of Metal

That's quite a bit of metal.
70k Tons of Metal is one of the most unique metal festivals around. It features over 40 bands, is 5 days long and... is on a boat. It's a heavy metal cruise; what's more awesome than that?

I'm sure it's something like this.
The ship departs from Miami and takes a trip to the Caribbean before coming back. During that time, you get to experience bands playing almost nonstop, always open bars, metal karaoke (yes you read that right) and getting to see some of your favourite musicians just walking around on a ship. Seriously, when these guys aren't playing they're just hanging out with you! Eating supper, enjoying the dock day in the Caribbean, or just rocking out during another set, you will meet members from your favourite bands.

The real highlight of the cruise is of course the performances. There are three stages with bands playing from 10am to 4am. You just go wherever you want and there will be some great metal playing. Some bands even play twice so you won't miss anything. All of this of course leads to some shenanigans like throwing Joakim Brodén of Sabaton into the pool when he takes a stage dive.

 The next voyage is January 28, 2013. There will once again be around 40 bands and the site states there will be 2000 guests. The full list of bands hasn't been released yet, so here is everyone that was onboard the 2012 trip:
  • Alestorm
  • Amorphis
  • Annihilator
  • Atheist
  • Cannibal Corpse
  • Channel Zero
  • Children of Bodom
  • Coroner
  • Dark Funeral
  • Edguy
  • Eluveitie
  • God Dethroned
  • Grave Digger
  • Hammerfall
  • In Extremo
  • Kamelot
  • Moonsorrow
  • My Dying Bride
  • Nightwish
  • Overkill
  • Pentagram
  • Pestilence
  • Riot
  • Samael
  • Stratovarius
  • Suffocation
  • Tankard
  • Therion
  • Tristania
  • Venom
  • Virgin Steele
  • Whiplash
It goes without saying that everyone aboard this cruise is awesome. Fans, bands and crew alike, everyone is just there for some metal and a good time. I strongly urge you to look up some videos of the event, it's unlike anything else.

In fact, Sabaton liked the experience so much that they decided to make their own heavy metal cruise. The Sabaton Cruise will sail December 9th-10th. It's a much smaller deal, with only three bands playing, but I'm sure it's still pretty awesome.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, September 3, 2012

Metal Mondays: Krampus

Readers B. and SummertimeSadness suggested I check this band out (thanks!). No wonder I had never heard of them, the band is two years old! It's still just a baby. I had no idea what to expect except that they were an Italian folk metal band. I looked them up and it turns out Krampus is a creature that follows St. Nick around on Christmas and punishes bad children. So basically this is a Christmas-themed band. Not the best name ever but I suppose it isn't terrible. So I continued on and punched the band into Youtube.

Observe, Krampus.
Being named after an existing thing, the band wasn't the first thing that came up in the results list. A few results down though, and past all the scary pictures, was the band's first music video for their song Kronos' Heritage. Not a very Christmas-y song..

To be honest, I was pretty disappointed when I first heard it. The songs starts off nice enough, but when the metal kicks in it lacks the kick. The guitars are pretty soft and try to be more catchy than brutal. The part that really bugged me though was the flute and violin, their folk instruments of choice. It just sounded like it was trying to blend in with the metal, instead of how it should be. Folk metal bands should make metal that sounds folky, not folk that sounds metaly. The breakdown just really bugged me. Not to mention the clean vocals. The vocalist isn't really the most powerful currently, though I think with some practice he definitely has potential. The clean vocals just didn't hit a chord. He's hard to understand and those sections sound completely different from the rest of the song. In my opinion it ruins the mood.

I went back the next day to listen to the song again and check out some of their other stuff. Something about it just stuck in my head. The clean vocal parts that were so out of place the first time were suddenly catchy. This is nothing new for me, I've hated some of my favourite bands the first time I heard them. It was always something catchy that made me go back and eventually add their songs to my library. I realized that Krampus isn't supposed to be a heavy folk metal band. The music is intentionally supposed to sound docile and beautiful, not be all up in your face. The clean vocals are a good example of that beauty, fitting in with the overall idea of the band if not necessarily that particular song. The flute and violin are constantly providing background music, as opposed to being at the forefront playing a folk tune. That is why I initially thought there was a lack of folk sound in there. I decided to check out the other songs they had posted on their Youtube channel too so I could get a full impression.

My Siege and Aftermath are both much faster songs. Every single frigging comment is comparing them to Eluveitie and I kind of agree with that. Krampus has the fast guitar and drum accompanied by a persistent barrage of folk in the background that Eluveitie is known for. The vocalists also have the same screaming style. Why couldn't they have made a music video of these songs? It gives a completely different image of the band. I am glad that the clean vocals are not in every song. They're fine once in a while, but this guy really has some screaming talent that should be developed a bit.

Painting lines on your face = folk metal

In conclusion, Krampus shows quite a bit of promise and I think will be a great band once they develop their sound a bit more. There are currently plenty of comparisons with Eluveitie, but they have the ability to create their own style. The band is still extremely young and will have plenty of time to find their spot in the folk metal scene. Maybe they'll even be the top video result for "Krampus". I'll definitely be keeping my eye on this band, especially when their second album is released. After they've toured, gotten some new ideas and fine-tuned their instrumental ability a bit more, they'll be a force to be reckoned with.

-Zombie Viking

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Korpiklaani/Moonsorrow/Tyr Concert Impressions (UPDATED)

I was excited when I heard Korpiklaani was doing a North American tour for Manala. They're a band that just likes what they do and has a good time. I went with my girlfriend who doesn't listen to metal and my friend who is getting in to metal. They both enjoyed it.

Metsatoll. Seen here in front of things saying 'Tyr'

The first band up was Metsatoll. It was a bit confusing because they had all the Tyr banners up. For the first bit I was wondering when Tyr got a new vocalist.. and a bagpipe player. The music itself wasn't bad. The sound quality was horrible though. I couldn't even hear the guitar for the majority of their set. The bagpipes and flutes that were being played also barely made it through the noise of the drums. The Opera House is mostly at fault here, they really should have calibrated the sound more with the soundcheck before the show. Despite that, the band got really into it and the bagpipe player even got to sing his own song. Man he had a deep voice. Also their bassist consistently had the biggest smile on his face. It's good to see a band having a good time (which seemed to be a theme for the night).

Tyr, performing in front of the same set.
Their bassist is huge.
Next up was Tyr. The rhythm guitarist looked so out of place with all his tattoos and punk haircut. There were also quite a few punks in the audience, it was pretty weird. They all seemed to come in a big group with their leather jackets and weird haircuts. Anyway, it was during Tyr that the crowd really started getting into the show. Which is great because it was only the second band! Everyone was sort of still for Metsatoll, but that's expected for the first band. For Tyr though, the whole crowd erupted into a mosh pit, even for the slower songs. To be honest, I'm not the biggest Tyr fan. I've only heard one of their albums and some songs from the newer one. It was fun though singing along to By the Sword in My Hand and Hold the Heathen Hammer High. The sound quality was slightly better for this band, but it was still hard to make out some of the notes for the songs I wasn't familiar with.

Moonsorrow's set, seen here from the balcony.
Before Moonsorrow came on, we decided to take a break from the floor and head up to the small balcony that was there. I don't normally do this, I don't think I've ever even been to the balcony in all the times I've been to the Opera House, but I was glad we did. It was at this point that I could see just how packed this place was. Now Opera House isn't the biggest venue ever. It can hold a few hundred people comfortably in my opinion. This was definitely not the venue that this show should have been held at. The floor was literally full, there was no more room for anyone to enter. The back area with the bar was also pretty packed. It was crazy.
You can see here just how packed the floor was.
Moonsorrow was literally a wall of sound. I would best compare it to when I saw Enslaved in concert. It's impossible to actually make out any specific sound. The vocals are completely lost except for a few parts. It's more of an experience than a song, you 'feel' the atmosphere without really hearing the music. Moonsorrow turned out to be the token heavy band. There always seems to be one band on the tour that's so much heavier than all the others. They weren't really as fun or smiley as the other bands and I couldn't really get in to them as much. As time went on though, I started to make out more notes of their songs and was able to enjoy it a bit more. Don't get me wrong though, I was headbanging the whole time. I do have to give them this: all of Moonsorrow's songs had a very different feel. Each song sounded unique.

Korpiklaani. You can also see the awesome bouncer in this photo.
Last up was of course Korpiklaani. The floor was still completely full but we were able to squeeze our way in and got a good spot one or two rows back from the front. The set up for the band took quite a while because they just had to have four displays instead of two like all the other bands (technically Metsatoll had none). When they finally came out, the crowd went wild. I was thrown every which way and was instantly covered in sweat. I sweat from places I didn't even know I could sweat from. Honestly, I've been to a few concerts and I've rocked out pretty hard, but I've never been this much covered in sweat. Throughout the set, people were doing every kind of dance they knew. The mosh pit went from moshing to everyone linking arms and kicking their legs in the air while one guy did a Russian dance in the middle. Around the corners of the crowd people were linking arms and dancing around in circles. It was fun.

Just having a good time.
For the actual music itself... it was great. They played every song I would have hoped they'd play and then played some more. Tequila, Beer Beer, Vodka, Happy Little Boozer, Wooden Pints, they played almost all their drinking songs. They played Rauta, Ievan Polkka, Tuonelan Tuvilla and Ruumiinmultaa from Manala. Plus the new violist, Tuomas Rounakari even had a violin solo. Not too many bands seem to do solos like that so it was pretty awesome. I'm not too sure if Korpiklaani just turned down the volume or if I was already deaf by the time they came on, but the sound quality was much better than the previous bands. I could make out every instrument, including the violin and accordion. Jonne (the frontman) broke his finger earlier on the tour so he wasn't able to play guitar. It didn't seem to affect the sound though, one guitar proved to be just as good as two. It just meant that he got to take a break off stage whenever an instrumental song or section was being played.

Tuomas during his violin solo.
The band just had fun on the stage, it was quite a sight to see. From Jonne making Kalle (the guitarist) sing one of their songs to Juho (the accordionist) actually showing some emotion and headbanging a bit, everyone seemed to be having a good time on stage. There was plenty of dancing and prancing about. Tuomas even did a little dance throwing his legs up in the air during a couple sections where he wasn't playing. And the band never missed a beat, all the songs sounded great.

Overall, this was a pretty darn good concert. It wasn't the best I've ever been to, but it was far from the worst. Most of the bands had a good time on stage and so did the crowd. If I could change something, it would be moving the show to a bigger venue, fixing the sound issues of the first few bands, and replacing Moonsorrow with a more folky band (not saying they're not good, just that they didn't really fit in with the rest of the bands). Korpiklaani definitely put on the best show and I would see them again if they came back. I'm still sore from the concert.

-Zombie Viking

P.S. Thank you Jonny for taking pictures. I used some of them.