Thursday, 15 October 2009

Album Review: Paradise Lost - Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us.

One of the most important and influential English bands of the last 20 years, Paradise Lost return with their 12th studio album: Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us, a fitting title in that the bands numerous changes in musical directions have often divided the opinions of fans and critics alike. Faith Divides... however, sees a return to form for the band and continuing in their return to gothic metal, a genre they helped to define in the early 90’s.

Whilst the album starts out with choral singing it soon plunges in to Paradise’s signature doom laden, pounding guitars and by all means the opener, As Horizons End, immediately sets the tone for what is to come and as a fan of the band in my youth fills me with great hopes for this new offering from the Yorkshire lords of doom.

The next 50 minutes are a tour de force of everything that made Paradise Lost great in the early 90’s; Frailty starts out with a haunting intro of choral voice accompanied by melancholic guitar but then reveals itself to be one of the more punishing tracks on the album. The title track is a melodic opus showcasing Paradise Lost's ability to utilise synths, acoustic guitars and refined clean vocals to give more impact when Holmes guttural vocals kick in and when he screams “vanquish the pain” you really get the impression that even after all these long years, here is a man still with much on his heart. Universal Dream is one of the more up-tempo tracks on the album and lends a good counterbalance to the other, majority, slow paced doomy tracks.

Now, depending on which version of the album you buy, you’ll have a different number of tracks. The standard version has only 10 tracks and ends on In Truth, a song that finishes off this modern masterpiece well enough. However, if you have any of the bonus versions of the album (or bought it off iTunes like I have) you’ll have anywhere between 11 and 13 tracks. The iTunes version of the album comes with 2 bonus tracks: Cardinal Zero and Sons of Perdition. Cardinal... is a brutal romp, closer in style to the bands late 80’s death/doom style than their later gothic metal, whilst Sons… is a more rocky number and sounds like it could have fit in to the regular album, if they’d decided to have 11 tracks instead of 10.

As someone who was a big fan of Paradise Lost in the early 90’s and, like a lot of people, lost faith in them during their Depeche Mode sythrock period, I went in to this album with equal optimism and scepticism, but this is an album by a band who truly are back on the same form as when they were at their peak. Will Faith Divides Us... be mentioned in the same sentence as Gothic and Icon? Probably, but only time will tell. What I can tell you, however, is that this is definitely Paradise Lost's best album for a long time and certainly worth buying! Not convinced? Go and stream it on Spotify and discover for yourself!

Album rating: 9/10
For fans of: My Dying Bride, Anathema
Best tracks: I Remain, Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us, Universal Dream

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Gig Review: Ensiferum - JBs Dudley - 09/10/09

It's a crisp, dry and cold autumn night in Dudley, the perfect night to be inside getting sweaty and thrashing about to one of Finland’s finest folk metal bands. Despite the chill there's a decent queue outside the venue waiting for doors to open, showing the willing and hardiness of the folk metal crowd, who'll do anything to listen to music you can bang you head and quaff ale or mead to (though sadly the venue tonight doesn't sell mead!)

But before Ensiferum grace the stage we are to be treated to another of Finland’s finest, if lesser known, bands: Tracedawn. Formed in 2005 and having released their sophomore effort last month; Egoanthem, Tracedawn are definitely one of the better examples of the new breed of MeloDeath bands to be making their name on the scene. Despite their short set time they manage to pull a decent crowd down from the bar to the stage and keep them interested with their clean, technical sound. Expect to see big things from this band in the future!

Next up were Metsatöll, a folk metal band from Estonia (don't worry, I didn't know Estonia produced metal bands either) replete with an assortment of real folk instruments (bagpipes, flute, bodhrán and more) most of which seem to get drowned out by the rest of the band. I'm sure if I had known any of the songs by this band I would of enjoyed their set far more, but songs in a foreign language presented as a wall of sound aren't my idea of a good time.

By the Dividing Stream signals the arrival of tonight's highly anticipated headliners: Ensiferum, and from the crowd reaction this is a set a lot of people are really looking forward to, myself included. For our expectations we're treated to a lengthy set which includes a healthy mix of old favourites with more than a few tracks from the new "From Afar" album, a move some bands wouldn't be able to get away but such is the quality of this new material that it is embraced by the fans with the same fervour as any of the old classics. The end comes all too soon as Petri asks for help from the crowd on the title track from 2004's Iron (hearing a room full of drunken metal fans shouting "Dun dun dun dun!" at the top of their lungs was worth the price of the ticket alone!) and with that the show comes to an end and with it the UK leg of the From Afar tour. I think it's safe to say that as far as all in attendance are concerned, Ensiferum can't come back soon enough!

You can check out the bands at their respective Myspaces:

An introduction.

Hey there!

Well, I guess if you're reading this it's because you've followed a link from the MetalheadzFM website to read one of my reviews. (If that's not how you got here, be sure to check out the site:

Thanks for stopping by! If you want to know more about me, check out the bio on the Metalheadz site or drop me an email.

So as I said, the purpose for this blog is to post up reviews. What of? Well, anything to do with heavy metal music really, going to be starting off with a couple of gig and album reviews but will be moving on to book and maybe documentary reviews at some point.

I'll warn you know these reviews WILL contain a helluva lot of strong opinion, ask anything who knows me, I've never been one skirt around an issue.

So, enough talk and on with the show!