Monday, September 22, 2014

MotS Mondays: Deals Death

Do you like Swedish melodeath? Do you like pecs? Perfect, those are the only two requirements for listening to Deals Death. Coming from the home of melodeath, Gothenburg, these guys take the classic sound and add their own personal touch to create something of their own. Sure they may not be the most unique band ever, but Deals Death plays everything so solid that it may be just what you're looking for. It wasn't until I really started listening to this band that I realized "hey, no one really does classic Children of Bodom-style melodeath anymore, not even Children of Bodom themselves..." So listening to this band is actually quite refreshing.

The first and most important thing you should notice about Deals Death is vocalist Olle Ekman.No he doesn't ever put a shirt on. Yes he is an awesome vocalist. Yes he can do the screams and the growls. There's nothing I love more than vocal variety. And pecs. You may also recognize him from that Youtube video. The one I'm not going to post here.

Like I mentioned previously, Deals Death plays classic melodeath. They've got the high-pitched guitars. They've got the fast drums with plenty of double kick and occasional blast beat. They've got the right amount of breakdowns and a healthy dose of solos. They've even got keyboards in the background every so often. I don't know who plays them. I've got the booklet for Point Zero Solution right here and no one seems to take credit for the keyboards. But  I am a huge fan. In fact, Facing the Echoes is one of my favourite songs on the album mostly for its awesome keyboard line. The keyboards are used tastefully with the band only breaking them out when needed. It adds another layer to the music in my opinion.

I'm not exactly sure how popular Deals Death is currently, but surely they've gotten a decent push since becoming best buds with fellow countrymen Sabaton. Not only did the bands tour together, but Deals Death has landed a (what looks to be) permanent spot at Sabaton Open Air. I'm pretty sure the band isn't too popular yet, especially outside Sweden, so there's always room to grow. Of course I can say what I always say in that I hope they come to Canada eventually. Especially because Deals Death appears to deal good live shows. Check it out.

Yeah what he said! I don't understand Swedish!

If you enjoy the soothing sounds of melodic death metal (and honestly. who doesn't?) you should definitely check out Deals Death. They have a great vocalist and overall a surprisingly refreshing sound. After three albums releases the band just seems to be getting warmed up. They'll still be making awesome music for years to come.

You can find Deals Death at the following links:
Metal Archives

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Before I even get into the concert stuff, let me just say that I arrived way too early to the venue. Just as a note to everyone reading this, parking in cities sucks and there's nothing to do while waiting for a concert to start. However, I joined the line about an hour and a half before the concert started and there were already tons of people there. I guess it's better than arriving late since the Mod Club is a lot smaller than I remember. When I saw Alestorm there previously the crowd didn't seem to be too bad. But this concert was jam-packed. Even though I got there relatively early I wasn't able to get a spot right at the front like I have for the last few concerts I've been to. Kind of a bummer but I still ended up getting a decent spot not too far from the stage. Also the people who were standing behind me in line kept talking about how awesome Sabaton is live, so now I'm even more excited for that concert. One more month!

The first band came out about 10 minutes after I got inside. And to my surprise it was Xandria up first, not Delain like I previously thought. Oh well, I like Delain better so it was a pleasant surprise. Xandria of course was also pretty awesome. About half the already tiny stage was reserved for Sonata's stuff, so Xandria had to squeeze in pretty tight. They didn't move around the stage too much, but the whole band danced in place and still seemed like they were having a pretty good time. The drummer was especially awesome. I didn't realize before how simple Xandria's drumming is, but he filled the void with all sorts of stick spins and other things to show off. The sound quality was also great. The drums only looked like it had one or two mics set up on it and the snare was almost just its natural sound with minimal amplification. For such a small venue this worked out really well as I could still clearly hear the drums and also the guitars and vocals. The songs sounded almost exactly like they do on the albums. I was also able to recognize every song they played because the setlist was solely taken from their two most recent albums. I'm fine with that as those are the only albums of theirs I've actually listened to. The first four albums may very well not exist and I'm totally fine with that. The set was pretty short but a good start to the night sound-wise.

Before I get into the next bands I want to talk about the audience for a second. It was pretty crowded in there but this was one of the weirdest audiences I've seen. This was technically my first power/symphonic concert so maybe the crowds for these are always like this but I was still left pretty confused. Now there was no moshing to speak of, not even a single jerk in the middle. Fine, this isn't aggressive music so I understand. But there wasn't much energy either. There were very few people around me jumping around or even headbanging. The bands had to prompt the audience to do everything from clapping in rhythm to even cheering. That being said, everyone seemed really excited to see the bands. All the cheers were deafening, even for the opening bands. And almost everyone was singing along to Sonata Arctica. Perhaps the majority of the people there were just inexperienced with concerts, but most of them just stood in one spot the entire show.

Anyway, next up was Delain. Instead of bringing a stage backdrop, they chose instead of set up a series of stands making up the album cover. I've got to give them points for creativity. They also brought out their own smoke machines which really added to the visuals. There were even points during the set where both guitarists stood on top of the smoke machines during instrumental parts of songs. A few things were pushed away but since Delain is one additional person to Xandria, the band was still a little crowded on the stage. Charlotte seemed to have the most energy, constantly jumping up and down and running around the stage. Her vocals were a little more squeaky compared to the album recordings but besides that everything sounded great. The setlist was a bit more varied than Xandria's, with the band playing songs from all their albums. It showed me that maybe I'm not as familiar with Delain's material as I thought. There were quite a few songs that I didn't recognize. For some I realized what they were playing when the chorus kicked in, but for others I still have no idea. That being said they still did play everything I was hoping for. I started to get a little upset at the end of one of their songs because it sounded like that was the end of their set and they never played We Are the Others. Lucky for me they played one more song and it was exactly what I was hoping for. As a final note, it really looked at certain points like Charlotte was about to pop out of her partially see-through top. Both of the female vocalists definitely had interesting outfits.

The stage was fully opened up for Sonata Arctica. They had a whole raised section for the drums and keyboards where the keyboardist and guitarists kept switching positions. They took out Delain's smoke machines but replaced it with every single light in the place. I had no idea that stage had so many different lights on it. The crowd also got significantly louder when Sonata came out. They even chanted the band's name, good for them! I'm writing this bit as somewhat of an outsider since I really came for the opening bands and only started listening to Sonata when this concert was announced. But everyone else looked like they were there for the headliner. Everyone was singing along with all the songs. Even though I didn't recognize too many songs, they all sounded really good. Tony is an amazing singer and the rest of the band did not disappoint. All the solos were spot on and all the backing vocals were just as good. The drums were a little louder than the opening bands since they used their own kit which actually had microphones on it, but I could still hear the other instruments. All in all everyone looked like they were having fun. When Paid In Full was played, I got a chance to join in singing with the rest of the audience since it's the only song I really know the words to. Let me say, it was really fun singing along and I can see why the rest of the audience enjoyed the show so much. Tony was also full of energy. I've never seen a vocalist act out all the words they're singing but it definitely added a bit to the show. And every time a solo was happening, he would pick up the mic stand and pretend to play along. Did I mention the vocals were fantastic? Well I'll say it again since he blew me away. He hit all the highs and even threw in some growls here and there. I could make out every word he was saying which is an odd feeling for me since I've mostly seen bands with harsh vocals. All their songs also seemed to sound better live, as I actually enjoyed when they played the stuff I had previously deleted from my music library in disgust. Notable songs that I hate from the albums and loved live are What Did You Do in the War, Dad? and X Marks the Spot.

Overall this concert was great. The bands were all fantastic with every song sounding like it does on the albums. The audience was dead even though they seemed to be enjoying everything, but that problem will probably be fixed if you catch this tour in a different city. The three bands went by really quickly, with the final encore starting at 11:15 and the show ending at 11:45. But they made up for it when Xandria and Delain went out to their merch booths after the show to sign things and take pictures. I only went to this concert in the first place because I listened to the opening bands previously and when I listened to Sonata they weren't too bad. If only one of these bands were playing I don't think I would have gone to see the show. But after seeing them all live, I would see any one of them individually if and when they decide to come back in the future. I just hope that it's in a bigger venue.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, September 15, 2014

MotS Mondays: Benighted

Enough of that baby crap, here comes Benighted! They're a band from France that takes no prisoners. Benighted plays brutal death metal with grindcore influences. I don't think I can start this post properly without some music, so here we go...

Benighted is just a nonstop barrage of brutal noises. Now let me be the first to say that I don't listen to a lot of brutal death, or brutal variation of any genre to be honest, but Benighted just has something special. The vocalist is very talented and you can his three main vocal styles (deep growl, mid growl, scream) in almost every song. The band also likes to hide plenty of melody behind the brutality. Quite often I'll find myself tapping along to a catchy beat or the song will break down into something unexpected like the rapping in Grind Wit or jungle adventure section in Carnivore Sublime. If you don't believe me about the jungle adventure, listen to the song yourself and decide. The point is that there's thought behind the brutality. I've checked out plenty of other bands from the same genre and left disappointed because they just didn't have that special something that Benighted has.

As metalheads we often get the question "how do you understand what they're saying?". And the answer is usually "I've been listening to it for long enough to make out the words". Let me just say that I don't understand a damn word Benighted vocalist Julien Truchan is saying. I can make out a few words when he does his mid growl style, but otherwise I don't even know what language the vocals are in. Benighted has a few songs in french, and others that switch between english and french. Good luck.

That being said, the lyrics are actually pretty interesting. The majority of their songs deal with mental illness and of course being a death metal band it can get pretty dark and depraved. I do trust they know what they're talking about though as Mr. Truchan works in a psychiatric hospital and seems to have a genuine fascination with the subject.

I think the weirdest thing about that video is that the alien dude has a spacer. Only in one ear though.

Benighted is not a band without change. They've released seven albums and over time their style has changed a bit. For the first couple, they were a little more black metal influenced. That pretty much means that there was more screaming, the guitars were tuned differently and the quality was worse. There's also a pretty cool version of O Fortuna under the name Last Part of Humanity on their debut self-titled album. I also seem to have caught the band at a bad time as they currently only have three members. At least two of them (Julien Truchan and Oliver Gabriel) are original members and Kevin Foley rents himself out to other bands all the time so they're all not going anywhere.

If you want something heavy that still has a musical heart, look no further than Benighted. The French band knows how to pull out all the stops and how to do it in an interesting way. From the musicianship to the lyrics, there's more there than you'd initially think. And they don't look like they're leaving the scene anytime soon.

You can find Benighted at the following links:
Metal Archives

Monday, September 8, 2014

MotS Mondays: Titanium

The last time I saw Alestorm, Elliot Vernon was standing beside me during the opening bands. He told me to look out for Gypsyhawk and afterwards asked what I thought of them. "That's some feel-good rock n' roll" I said. If Gypsyhawk can be classified as feel-good rock n' roll, then surely Titanium can be classified as feel-good heavy metal. This Polish band is all about pulling out the stops and just having a good time. And with a name like Titanium, you can tell they're all about the metal.

Cool, an album cover and a band picture. Now I only have to include one image.
Their debut self-titled album is jam packed with metal goodness. With 14 songs and a running time at just over an hour, you're bound to find something you enjoy. Titanium is a very accessible band. Anyone who likes rock or heavy metal will be able to give the album a good listen. What they'll find is a non-stop barrage of music; the album just never slows down. Most of the songs are fast paced metal, and thrown in are a couple instrumentals and one pseudo-ballad in the form of Forever Mine. When the vocalist's nickname is Rocker you don't expect the band to slow down.

The music itself is also solid. You've got the standard dual-guitar, bass, drum, vocal ensemble along with some keyboards here and there. There's also plenty of solos which I'm told Mr. Karol Mania (of Pathfinder fame) likes to include in songs he writes. In addition to Rocker's powerful vocals, there's plenty of catchy choruses that include the rest of the band. The good thing here is that the rest of the band can actually sing. There's too many bands that include background vocals from musicians that clearly aren't vocalists. I don't care what trickery they used, they made the background vocals actually sound good. There's also plenty of vocal variety, from the vocal melodies in Titanium (the song, not the band or the album) to the pseudo growls at the end of Here and Now.

Titanium's music is wedged somewhere between heavy and power metal with a sound that contains a mix of classic and modern. With the recent emergence of New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal, these guys fit right in. The 'official' genre is melodic power metal if you're curious. The vocal style brings the band to a mid-80s, early 90s sound and the instrumentals are more modern-sounding. I especially enjoy the ample use of double kicks. Overall the band sounds very young and full of energy. I'm sure it'll be interesting watching them develop musically and take on a more mature sound as time goes on. Or possibly they'll always sound like young'ins, I'm fine with either.

Titanium is a good fit for anyone who likes heavy or power metal. It's also good for showing to your friends who refuse to listen to anything beyond rock to try and get them more into the metal scene. Remember not to tell them it's metal until after they say they like it! They're fairly new to the music scene as a whole, so here's hoping the band gets out of Europe one day. I also look forward to seeing how their sound will change on future albums. Stay metal.

You can find Titanium at the following links:
Metal Archives

-Zombie Viking

Friday, September 5, 2014

Amaranthe: A Fine Guilty Pleasure

Amaranthe is a band that metalheads either hate, don't understand, or have as a guilty pleasure. For me they fall squarely under guilty pleasure currently. I even wrote a post a long time ago in a galaxy not so far away that started off with me bashing Amaranthe for having too many vocalists. You can read that here. But now I sit here as the converted. Let me tell you why Amaranthe isn't such a bad band after all.

The first, and most important, point is that they are actually metal. Unlike other guilty pleasures like Korn or Slipknot, you can actually find Amaranthe on metal archives. Sure, they're listed as power metal/metalcore, but they wouldn't be a guilty pleasure if they were 100% pure. The music does have some of the poorer music tropes such as breakdowns and overly poppy keyboards, but they balance it out with solos and harsh vocals. Nothing is amazing but nothing is overly bad either. They've also got their main hook of extremely catchy choruses.

Hunger! Save me! One world depending on me-... Oh sorry, we're still writing a blog post here. My apologies. I am glad though that they got the guy from Dark Tranquility to do harsh vocals.

That brings me to my next point, and the thing I have to atone for. I still stick to my opinion that having three vocalists is overkill. If you're going to have three vocalists though, this is the way to do it. I don't expect Elize or dude-bro-guy to do harsh vocals so I suppose it's alright that they bring someone else in. I like that they don't put too much emphasis on the harsh vocals guy. He's just there in the background on some songs to give it that extra oomph. This is all evidenced by the fact that he's the only one in the band to be replaced. That's right, on their next album Amaranthe will be welcoming a new guy into the background. The two main vocalists are really good at what they do though. Elize is of course the main draw because she's an attractive woman and teenage boys (ie metalheads) eat that up like crazy. She's also a really good (albeit slightly poppy) singer. The verses usually go boy, girl, harsh, boy, girl with the choruses a true chorus of both male and female voices. It's a formula. Formulas are fine. This is me not complaining about the vocals.

So perhaps Amaranthe isn't too bad after all. Their attitude is completely pop, but their music is actually mostly metal. They do follow a pretty strict formula for their songs though this also means that they don't really have any bad songs because they always play it safe. As far as guilty pleasures go, you could do much worse. And for all the non-metalheads listening to them, it's a decent way of getting into metal.

And hey, they have a new album coming out on October 21st entitled Massive Addictive. I have no idea what that title is supposed to mean. Keep an eye out for the first single from the album Drop Dead Cynical to be released on September 9th. Ok this album looks like they just pulled a bunch of random words out of a hat. I'm sure the music will be good though!

-Zombie Viking