Album Review – Among The Prey / Only For The Blinded Eyes (2016)

A solid and energetic album highly recommended for fans of Melodic Death Metal, crafted by a Finnish band that has all it takes to become a future reference in Scandinavian heavy music.

Rating4

AmongThePrey2400pixFeaturing high skilled musicians previously known from groups such as Thunderstone, Agonizer and Before The Dawn, here comes Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Among The Prey directly from the city of Jyväskylä, the largest city in the region of Central Finland and on the Finnish Lakeland, firing a pugnacious fusion of traditional and modern Melodic Death Metal in their debut full-length album Only For The Blinded Eyes. And before I even begin the detailed review of this 9-track album, I might say this is undoubtedly an excellent choice for fans of a genre that became a synonym to heavy music from all over Scandinavia.

The reason for that is quite simple as Among The Prey deliver exactly what Melodic Death Metal demands to be truly entertaining, including enraged screams, melodic guitar lines and vigorous beats. Formed in 2013 and having released a demo entitled My Demons in 2014, it’s time for the band to reach higher grounds and send their special message to the world with Only For The Blinded Eyes. “The whole point of the album was to make music as it always should be done. If the artist has something to say, he puts himself truly in the line of fire and pours it all out. So that every played note and every vocal line would transfer those raw emotions to the listener. I hope we succeeded in that, so it can be heard why this album just had to be done”, said the band’s founder and frontman Iiro Kuntsi.

In the opening track, directly named Smile, the band offers us all huge doses of violence but with that characteristic polished sounding of Melodic Death Metal, and you’ll quickly notice how each band member masters their respective instruments. As expected, Iiro leads the attack with his sick growls and piercing riffs, making an excellent duo with the other guitarist for Among The Prey, Joni Laine. The following tune, Beyond Repair, is a modernized sonic devastation highly influenced by Groove Metal, where its nonstop beats are enhanced by its excellent guitar lines, turning this into a song tailored for igniting a fun circle pit with your friends during the band’s live performances; whereas the title-track Only For The Blinded Eyes gets darker than its predecessors, exhibiting lots of elements from the Gothenburg Sound but with the band’s own touch. For instance, especially during the song’s chorus the band seems to be paying a “tribute” to iconic bands such as In Flames and Soilwork.

Among_The_Prey_promopicDrinking from a similar music fountain of bands such as Arch Enemy, Among The Prey bring forward the very melodic and thrilling Burning Down In Hell, certainly one of the best tracks of the whole album (if not the best) mainly due to Iiro’s raging vocals, in special during the song’s catchy chorus about sorrow and regret (“Why did I do this to myself / Why can’t I make it go away / Over and over again / I’m burning down in hell”). Following that awesome chant, we have Pieces, which despite being a more introspective tune it still contains the unique fury crafted by the band. In addition, the precision by drummer Atte Palokangas is outstanding throughout the entire album, which can be witnessed in detail in his excellent performance during this song.

In Wake Up the band keeps blasting pure Melodic Death Metal, with the groovy and rumbling lines by bassist Toni Keskinen and the riffs by both Iiro and Joni elevating the overall quality of this neck-breaking chant. However, in order to avoid getting stale, the second half of the song presents a different approach from its first “act”, which in the end is a welcome breathe of fresh air and only makes things even better. In Your Face is another good display of the highly-developed skills of all band members, a solid fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Groove Metal that should sound very powerful during their live  concerts, while in Two Worlds Colliding, a song about  violence and betrayal (“Left behind, forgotten / Bout to walk this path / Blinded by all your / Darkened words / Violence has left me numb”), there’s a lot of hatred flowing from Iiro’s screams, with the only problem being that the song gets a bit tiring after a while. And finally, Dancing On Our Graves comes crushing with its four minutes of blazing riffs in perfect sync with the rhythmic drumming by Atte. This is perhaps the song with the highest amount of elements from different types of heavy music other than Melodic Death Metal, which makes me wonder the level of complexity the band could have reached with a couple of extra minutes if it was slightly longer than the final result (which is already really good, anyway).

In a nutshell, as I mentioned before Only For The Blinded Eyes is a solid and energetic album highly recommended for fans of Melodic Death Metal, crafted by a band that has all it takes to become a future reference in this type of heavy music. You can get more details on Among The Prey, their music, their tour dates and their future plans at their Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and grab your copy of Only For The Blinded Eyes at the Inverse Records webstore or at the Record Shop X webstore.

Best moments of the album: Smile, Burning Down In Hell and Wake Up.

Worst moments of the album: Two Worlds Colliding.

Released in 2016 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Smile 3:49
2. Beyond Repair 3:51
3. Only For The Blinded Eyes 3:53
4. Burning Down In Hell 3:44
5. Pieces 4:45
6. Wake Up 4:15
7. In Your Face 3:04
8. Two Worlds Colliding 4:02
9. Dancing On Our Graves 4:16

Band members
Iiro Kuntsi – vocals, guitar
Joni Laine – guitar
Toni Keskinen – bass
Atte Palokangas – drums

Advertisements

Album Review – Escalane / The Days Of Decay (2015)

A delightful album full of catchy riffs, sing-along choruses and endless electricity by an up-and-coming Pop Metal band from Finland, to at least end this tragic year on a high note.

Rating5

escalane_days-of-decay_640The Headbanging Moose has one last treat for you metalheads before this turbulent year finally comes to an end, and in order to lessen the pain caused by so many tragedies and bring some joy into our lives, let’s fly to the city of Jyväskylä, Finland and dance to the brisk and lighthearted music by Finnish Pop Metal band Escalane. In case you have absolutely no idea of how Pop Metal sounds, let me tell you that what this female-fronted four-piece group has to offer is a modern version of Heavy Metal with lots of Pop Rock influences, which translates into a sounding much heavier (and a thousand times better) than Paramore, but obviously a lot lighter than all the extreme music we’ve reviewed lately.

Formed by guitarist Juha Takanen in late 2013 and having released two promo singles in 2014, as well as having toured China for two weeks that same year, Escalane are now ready to spread their amusing fusion of heavy and pop music across the four corners of the world with their debut full-length album, entitled The Days Of Decay. Furthermore, the avant-garde album art designed by Finnish artist Simo Heikkinen already gives you an idea of what to expect from the music by Escalane, a torrent of catchy riffs, sing-along choruses and the charismatic performance by the sexy red-haired frontwoman Hanna Uimonen, so to speak.

If you turn on the radio and the song Waiting For The Sun by Escalane is playing, I’m pretty sure you’ll start smiling right away. It has some sort of “Babymetal” feeling but with more mature vocals, of course, which translates into lots of fun with Juha kicking fuckin’ ass through his heavy riffs and endless energy. Featuring electronic elements in the background but still more metal than pop, Singularity focuses on the smooth vocals by Hanna (with her Finnish accent adding an extra touch of beauty to the song) and her gentle piano notes; whereas Fading In, Fading Out brings to the listener pure Rock N’ Roll with elements from J-Pop. In addition, drummer Iiro Vuori and bassist Joonatan Jaakonaho let their metal side prevail, providing the perfect base for Juha to fire his solid shredding.

Promo_1Careless blends modern Metalcore with Pop Rock, with its keyboards spicing up the musicality, before the introspective ballad Seven Months presents a completely different mood from the rest of the album. In the end it works pretty well, increasing the album’s reach and showcasing another excellent performance by Juha. Reality is a good display of what can be called “progressive pop”, switching from heavier bass lines and guitar riffs to a gentle ambience and so on, while The Spiral is a great option for a special playlist to hit the road due to its exciting rhythm and electrifying riffs. Moreover, some parts of the song even feel like Power Metal and others like Alternative Metal so weird the whole thing is.

In This Disgrace, what seems to be “just” a ballad suddenly turns into high-speed Rock N’ Roll, and I bet you’ll be singing it together with the fiery Hanna without even noticing. And there’s even time for some headbanging with Escalane in The Map thanks to the solid synchronicity between Juha and Iiro, increasing the song’s heaviness. Lastly we have the title-track, The Days Of Decay, closing the album in an thrilling and metallic way, not to mention its extremely catchy chorus (“I don’t want your glow, I don’t want your crow, I don’t want it, no / I don’t wanna know about your flow, you don’t really have to show / I don’t want your glow, I don’t want your crow, I don’t want it, no / I don’t wanna know about your flow, I don’t want to know”).

Now that you have finally been exposed to some good Pop Metal, why not visiting Escalane’s Facebook page and give them a shout? You can also check more of their music at their YouTube channel, or purchase The Days Of Decay at the band’s BandCamp page, at the Inverse Store, or at Record Shop X. As this year might have been tragic and catastrophic for almost the entire world, at least let’s end it on a high note to the joyful music by Escalane, hoping for a better 2016 for all of us.

Best moments of the album: Waiting For The Sun, Fading In, Fading Out and The Days Of Decay.

Worst moments of the album: Reality.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Waiting For The Sun 3:23
2. Singularity 3:52
3. Fading In, Fading Out 3:23
4. Careless 4:37
5. Seven Months 3:59
6. Reality 5:31
7. The Spiral 4:25
8. This Disgrace 4:01
9. The Map 5:16
10. The Days Of Decay 3:27

Band members
Hanna Uimonen – vocals, piano
Juha Takanen – guitars
Joonatan Jaakonaho – bass
Iiro Vuori – drums

Album Review – Inkvisitor / Doctrine of Damnation (2015)

If you want to be indoctrinated into frenzied and rousing heavy music, the brand new album by this talented platoon of thrash metallers is exactly what you need.

Rating4

coverStrongly inspired by the blazing musicality generated by the most prominent bands from the Bay Area Thrash movement, especially names such as Anthrax and Testament, Finnish thrash metallers Inkvisitor (the Swedish word for “inquisitor”) are set to release their debut full-length album Doctrine of Damnation, aiming at indoctrinating all of us into their high-quality frenetic music. And what they do in this album, joining the strength of American Thrash Metal with the Scandinavian proficiency in crafting harmonious and melodic music, will help them achieve their purpose without a shadow of a doubt.

Formed in 2012, this Jyväskylä-based band has really improved as a whole if you listen to their previous release, their 2014 EP entitled Delirious Tales, in terms of cohesion and aggressiveness of their music and content of their lyrics. They’re still a Thrash Metal band who loves to have fun with their music above all, of course, but now with a stronger focus on all aspects of the album production, such as the amazing old school artwork by Mad Matt Design and the deluxe sound quality, the final result is a lot more robust and pleasant to listen to.

Can you guess what comes after the intro MMXV A.D.? If your answer is “pure old school Thrash Metal” you’re absolutely right, as the epic and devastating Damnation already pumps the listener up with its strong Anthrax-inspired vibe, especially the deranged vocals by Aapo Vuori and the sick riffs by Lauri Huttunen and Jesse Kämäräinen. And why slow down if you can accelerate the savagery like they do in nataS ageM (or “Mega Satan” if you read it backwards)? Its lyrics are an ode to old school Thrash Metal, in special its chorus (“The power of nature, pure anarchy / The regin of eternity and absolute / Lord of destruction, original chaos / He is the one true MEGA SATAN”), and I don’t know if you agree with me but I can easily visualize the iconic Joey Belladonna manically singing those words. I would even say that if the band was called “Pernarutto” instead that would make total sense (Google it and you will understand why).

promo1pFocusing on a heavier sonority, the band tells a fun and creepy story of abduction that seems to be part of a B-horror flick in Abduction at Night, where drummer Petteri Milan has a good time switching from his rhythmic drumming to brutal blast beats, while Three Phases of Disembodiment showcases another interesting (but this time gory) story told by Inkvisitor. Moreover, its guitar lines keep the energy level high, with Aapo screaming and yelling his vocal lines to provide even more adrenaline to the music. And J-Town Anthem, their tribute to their hometown Jyväskylä, works as an intro to Eine Box (Mobile Shredding Unit), a song with a similar musicality from “Abduction at Night” where Inkvisitor once again deliver solid riffs, wicked vocals and huge doses of electricity through their music.

Mixing the speed from Megadeth and Testament with the attitude from Anthrax, fans of old school metal music will love the organic shredding and solos offered by Inkvisitor in Nothing to Live For. However, it’s in Hellbound For Carnal Knowledge that they reach another level of destruction in a little more than two minutes of pure headbanging, mosh pits and screaming. Its lyrics pay an awesome tribute to one of the best horror movies of all time, the disturbing 1987 classic Hellraiser (“Woke up with this / Puzzle in my hand / A tune so pretty lured me to open it / Carnal knowledge from another dimension / What have I done / I’m torn to pieces”), and I don’t need to say that if they don’t play this song live, we riot. Lastly, closing the album in an exciting way, Inkvisitor sing about the power of the gods in Claim What is Yours, with highlights to its fuming guitars flawlessly supported by the solid bass lines by Pekka Hölönen and the precise beats by Petteri.

It doesn’t matter if you get in touch with Inkvisitor through their Facebook page, YouTube or SoundCloud, and if you buy their album at their BandCamp page  or at their official webstore, as long as you show your sincere support for these amazing newcomers of thrash I’m sure they will keep delivering awesome metal music to all of us. As previously mentioned, Inkvisitor are trying to indoctrinate us into their nonstop Thrash Metal music, summoning us all to go crazy into the pit, so why not give these guys a chance? They surely deserve it.

Best moments of the album: Damnation, nataS ageM and Hellbound For Carnal Knowledge.

Worst moments of the album: Eine Box (Mobile Shredding Unit).

Released in 2015 Haje Records

Track listing
1. MMXV A.D. 1:15
2. Damnation 3:43
3. nataS ageM 4:06
4. Abduction at Night 4:24
5. Three Phases of Disembodiment 4:06
6. J-Town Anthem 0:56
7. Eine Box (Mobile Shredding Unit) 4:47
8. Nothing to Live For 4:27
9. Hellbound For Carnal Knowledge 2:03
10. Claim What is Yours 5:24

Band members
Aapo Vuori – vocals
Lauri Huttunen – guitar
Jesse Kämäräinen – guitar
Petteri Milan – drums

Guest musicians
Pekka Hölönen – bass
Kalle Raijonkari – additional vocals
JC Halttunen – additional vocals

Album Review – My Grimace / Grim Serenades (2015)

Make yourself ready for the heavy and melodic serenades of love and hatred put forward by this thriving six-piece Metalcore act.

Rating4

My_Grimace_-_Grim_Serenades_Coverart“From the deepest cave you hear the grim serenade.”

These cryptic words, together with the bloodstained piano in the artwork of Grim Serenades, are a spot-on depiction of the music by Finnish Metalcore band My Grimace. In other words, it is dramatic, melodic and ruthless, three of the most intrinsic characteristics of this modern-day subgenre of heavy music, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time and connect to the message the band is sending through each song while listening to the album. Their essence might be grim, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good in what they do.

Formed in 2007 in the city of Jyväskylä, Finland, and after releasing the demo Fear Gives Hope and the EP Paint the Sky in 2010, and another EP entitled Behind the Scene in 2011, My Grimace are ready to take the high ground with Grim Serenades, the first full-length album in their promising career. Combining the heavy elements found in Melodic Death Metal with the hardcore approach of Metalcore, this six-piece act aims at generating a unique atmosphere in Grim Serenade, keeping them away from the sameness that haunts several bands whose musicality is also strongly rooted in similar types of heavy music.

And when I say “unique atmosphere” I’m referring to exactly what they do in the opening track, the obscure Candidates, where its horror movie-ish vibe quickly turns into awesome Melodic Death Metal with a good balance between guttural screams and melodic guitars. This song showcases a solid songwriting with lots of riveting elements to keep the listener more than entertained, with some of its riffs reminding me of old school Sepultura, especially from the classic Chaos A.D. album. The same can be said about the title-track, Grim Serenade, a song that is at the same time threatening and rousing. Not only the vocals by frontman Jere Hämäläinen are a lot more Death Metal than Metalcore in this track, but the keyboards by Lasse Pirnes also add to the music nuances of delicacy that take the band out of the comfort zone of heavy music. In short, it’s a great tune that keeps up with the best you can find in Scandinavian modern metal.

My_Grimace_PromokuvaIf you’re a fan of Arch Enemy you’ll love the riffs found in Dire Need, a song that proves My Grimace are all talented musicians that know how to put heaviness and progressiveness together in a compelling way. Lasse, bassist Sami Puukko and drummer Roope Salminen do a superb job together keeping the musicality fresh and consistent in the background, with kudos to guitarist Aleksi Salojärvi for an awesome performance with his harsh screams. Following that amazing song, you can feel a dismal shadow growing in the sky in Abandon All, Leave The Mourning Behind, the darkest track of all with not a single drop of happiness or joy, and where once again the keyboard notes are the guiding light (or maybe darkness) to its rhythm.

Turning up their anger a little, Reveal Nothing is the first song to showcase the clean vocals by guitarist Juha Kumpulainen, resulting in a more traditional Metalcore approach. Moreover, its main riff will surely make you feel that great pain in your neck the next day if they play this track during their live concerts, and even when My Grimace slow down and get more introspective they also deliver interesting passages like the ones found here. Then we have Drink Of Death, which offers the listener another excellent riff in a very progressive and violent tune, perhaps the one with the most elaborate instrumental passages and lots of groove and feeling with highlights to its beautiful guitar solo, followed by the furious and well-balanced Red Glow, which represents the Melodic Death Metal many good bands forgot how to generate. I might be wrong, but for me it feels like the last part of Grim Serenades focuses a lot more on riffs than keyboards compared to the first batch of songs from the album, which is also the case in the last track, Twilight Zone, where we have an adrenalized Roope on drums while Juha and Aleksi make sure you bang your fuckin’ head like a maniac. In my opinion, it’s the heaviest and most extreme of all songs, obviously maintaining the melodic vein ingrown in the band.

These heavy and melodic serenades of love and hatred are what My Grimace have to offer us metalheads, which you’ll find together with their previous releases at their YouTube channel and ReverbNation page for a more detailed listen, and if you’re more than convinced this is a good addition to your metal collection you can purchase Grim Serenades at the Record Shop X webstore or at the Inverse Records webstore. Who knows, maybe these are the types of serenades you truly needed to make your life and the life of your significant other more fun and electrifying.

Best moments of the album: Grim Serenade, Dire Need and Drink Of Death.

Worst moments of the album: Abandon All, Leave The Mourning Behind.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Candidates 4:38
2. Grim Serenade 5:17
3. Dire Need 4:48
4. Abandon All, Leave The Mourning Behind 4:43
5. Reveal Nothing 5:50
6. Drink Of Death 3:37
7. Red Glow 3:58
8. Twilight Zone 4:05

Band members
Jere Hämäläinen – vocals
Juha Kumpulainen – guitars, clean vocals
Aleksi Salojärvi – guitars, backing vocals
Sami Puukko – bass
Lasse Pirnes – keyboards
Roope Salminen – drums

Album Review – Prayed and Betrayed / The Abundance of a Sickened Mind EP (2014)

Armed with their instruments and totally adrenalized, these Finnish guys are here to provide us some awesome Melodic Death Metal with their brand new EP.

Rating5

PAB_coverFans of Melodic Death Metal bands such as Amon Amarth, Children Of Bodom and Wintersun, among many others, will surely enjoy this fresh new EP named The Abundance of a Sickened Mind, by Finnish Modern / Melodic Death Metal band Prayed and Betrayed. It’s a pretty short EP, with only 12 minutes of music spread in three unique tracks, but it’s a very good sample of what those guys from Finland can generate when armed with their instruments.

Formed in the cold city of Jyväskylä, Finland in 2012, and influenced by the aforementioned bands, Prayed and Betrayed already released an EP called Manifesting Reality in 2012 and a single called Wanderers in 2013. However, now in 2014 with a new bassist and a new lead singer,  the band has changed their style a little, moving away from traditional Death Metal to a more modern and technical approach, which reinforces their refined talent as musicians and also extends their music boundaries to a whole new level.

The first track, Deafblind,  offers the listener all the shredding and fast drumming that can be found in traditional Death Metal, but in this case with a more polished and melodic sonority. Even the guttural vocals are very tuneful, and the addition of elements from modern American metal (especially the bass lines) turns it into an excellent choice for mosh pits and stage diving.

World Surreal speeds up things a little thanks to drummer Juho Suomi, and don’t forget to pay close attention to the great guitar riffs and solos by Antti Lukkari and Panu Korhonen: they’re truly outstanding, leading the whole song. Not only that, the overall complexity of this track showcases how talented each band member is and how far they can go with their music.

PromoFinally, we have the title-track The Abundance of a Sickened Mind, which is even more melodic than the other songs, sounding a lot like some of the more contemporary songs by Arch Enemy (I can even visualize this song in one of their most recent albums). It’s heavier atmosphere contributes to making it the darkest of all three songs, and I guess I don’t need to say how “lovely” the lyrics are.

The album art of The Abundance of a Sickened Mind is not only very professional, but it also represents the band’s musicality perfectly: the wolf can be seen as their ferocity, while the stunning girl portrays their more harmonious side. You can listen to all those tracks on the band’s ReverbNation page, check their Facebook page and Twitter, and of course, support this promising Finnish band by purchasing their music (available at their BandCamp page and on iTunes) and attending their concerts. It’s great music full of adrenaline, that will undoubtedly help us all in warming up this coming winter.

Best moments of the album: Deafblind.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1.Deafblind 3:43
2.World Surreal 3:08
3.The Abundance of a Sickened Mind 4:52

Band members
Samuli Paananen – vocals
Antti Lukkari – guitar
Panu Korhonen – guitar
Otto Puusaari – bass, backing vocals
Juho Suomi – drums

Guest musicians
Tatu Hanhikoski – vocals