It’s maximum metal Wednesday today! this week’s blog features an interview with Utah metal crew Sonic Prophecy along with the usual lowdown of concerts for the week, including tonight’s big event at Club Vegas with the legendary Accept, Sabaton and Sonic Prophecy offering local support. Add on top of that a massive breakdown of album reviews from Satan’s Host, While Heaven Wept, Argus, Before the Dawn, Hrizg, Leave’s Eyes, Midnattsol, Samael, Shakra, Suidakra, Twisted Tower Dire, and Voodoo Circle, offering the first glimpse of future Napalm Flesh and Dead But Dreaming blogs to feature reviews of all the metal you can handle!
Tonight only! The mighty Accept play the classics (plus new material) with Swedish power metal force Sabaton, making an appearance on their first U.S. tour. Local support comes from Deny Your Faith, Sonic Prophecy and Epsilon Minus. Tickets $25, music gets underway at 8 p.m. Check an interview SLUG did with Accept here: http://www.slugmag.com/articles/2735/Accept-Teutonic-Titans-of-Terror.html
Club Vegas hosts Cinco De Metal on Thursday May 5, acting as a CD release show for Unthinkable Thoughts. Also playing are Three Chord Killer, A Balance of Power, Rikshaw and Fallen Riviera. $7 at the door, music underway at 8 p.m.
Apparently nu-metal isn’t quite dead. Club Vegas hosts the somehow never really popular Motograter on Saturday May 7, touring somehow (well at least to my knowledge) in support of their 2003 self-titled album, though they have released a few EPs since then. If that fits your fancy, catch the band with local support from Blessed of Sin, Scarred for Six and Black Damp Diery. Tickets are $10 in advance.
Need a fix of fancy deathcore and mosh music? Tuesday May 10 offers up a night of brutal breakdowns with the Names Mean Nothing tour, featuring Carnifex, Oceano, The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza and Within Ruins. The all ages show goes down at the Complex. Advance tickets are $14, doors at 6:30.
Sonic Prophecy interview
SLUG: How would you describe the sound of your band to someone who has never heard it before?
Sonic Prophecy: "Symphonic Power Metal", in the vein of such bands as Helloween, Stratovarius, Nightwish, Blind Guardian etc. Our debut album, entitled A Divine Act of War (out later this summer!), is pretty diverse though. We've got the epic power metal on there, but we're definitely influenced by a lot of classic heavy metal stuff as well like Maiden, Priest, etc, and you can really hear that in some of our heavier songs. We really think we have something unique for metal fans to enjoy with this upcoming disc.
SLUG: Do you have any recorded material available to buy/purchase/listen to? If so where can people pick it up/hear it? Do you have any recording plans?
Sonic Prophecy: Yeah, we recorded a demo disc in 2009 that can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, and several other Internet retailers. You can also purchase it from us on our website, www.sonicprophecy.com. Our forthcoming album A Divine Act of War has been recorded over the past few months and is now being mixed as we speak. We had the honor of having Andy LaRocque of King Diamond fame do some early production work on it, and the rest is being done here in Ogden at Studio Nu. We are very happy with the new album and can’t wait for the metal community to get a listen to it. This is a much bigger production than the recording from 2009. We have really took a leap forward on all aspects of this album from the writing, recording, and mixing, and also added in several elements that up the drama and scope of our music while staying true to the Sonic Prophecy sound.
SLUG: What is the mental mindset of your band? Basically, what is your band trying to convey to listeners?
Sonic Prophecy: Heavy metal, in it’s truest form, represents to us a way to convey a powerful story and emotions through the use of music. We use a great deal of imagery in our lyrics which we hope gives the listener an experience rather than just a wall of sound to bang their heads to. We tend to deal with larger than life concepts such as war, the fight between good and evil, mythical elements, and the heavy metal experience from our point of view. At the end of the day it’s all about entertaining the listener with powerful music and emotive lyrics.
SLUG: How do you feel about being part of the metal scene of Utah? If there’s anything you’d like to see change in the local “scene” what would it be?
Sonic Prophecy: We are very proud to be a part of the Utah Metal Scene, we actually have a very vibrant and diverse metal culture in this state. The backbone of the scene has always been hardcore and death metal, but the last year or so has seen a major influx of more melodic metal bands, as well as the reemergence of one of Utah’s best known bands, Katagory V. While we fall more in line with these types of bands, we strive to bring a sound and style to the Utah scene that you can't really find anywhere else in this area.
That said, we do feel that more needs to be done to push this scene forward. This Utah scene can be very fragmented and the promotion can be lacking on many shows. In our opinion we all, musicians, club owners and promoters, need to work harder to get the word out regarding the shows and the great music being produced in this state. We also need to figure out what it is going to take to get the hard rock and heavy metal fans out of their homes and into the clubs to give the local Utah bands a shot. We think that many people feel like the local scene in Utah is only represented by one facet of the heavy metal genre and therefore stay away, leaving the bands here to play to the same audiences night after night. We hope that more people will realize through the use of outlets like SLUG and some of the great Utah radio stations just how amazing some of the bands around here truly are. Of course with that comes the responsibility of each band to really bring their best show to whatever club or venue they play. Again, it really depends on everyone working together putting together great bills and then promoting the hell out of them.
SLUG: What do you think makes your band unique not just to locals, but the metal scene entirely?
Sonic Prophecy: Sonic Prophecy is a band made up of five guys with varying musical backgrounds and influences... the combination really is unique and contributes to our sound. We all, of course, love all things heavy metal, but some of us are rooted in black and death metal, some of us tend to veer towards European power metal, and some of us are rooted in classic metal like Priest, Maiden, and Accept. When we actually sit down to write, these influences combine to give us a sound that gives a nod to all of our musical influences but sounds like none of them, again giving us a unique sound all our own. We feel this is especially apparent on our forthcoming new disc.
SLUG: If there is anything else you’d like to add, consider this question a free-for-all, soapbox or whatever else you’d like to say.
Sonic Prophecy: We just hope everyone who reads this will come out and support all the great true metal shows that we're getting this year. From the Accept/Sabaton show this week, to Kamelot, Alestorm, and Evergrey in the fall, this is going to be the best year in quite a while for metal shows here and we need to show them that there is a following for this type of music here in Utah so that it isn't the last.
Blog Exclusive CD Reviews
By The Hands of the Devil
Satan’s Host = Mercyful Fate + Nevermore + Mayhem
Straight up evil heavy metal—black metal—thrash metal? You want it all, you’ve got it with By The Hands of the Devil the eighth studio album from Denver, Colorado’s Satan’s Host. The album is a reunion of sorts—Satan’s Host has been trouncing out black/death/thrash albums since 2000, but back in ‘86 they released their debut with Leviathan Thirsen otherwise known as Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin, who went on to see fame in Jag Panzer. Be it known this album is not all about Conklin returning, no matter how great his vocal feat on this record is—all artists associated in the band propel this album to lofty heights. Picture some raging black metal tune inspiring all the violence and darkness your black heart desires but instead of a scowl you have high falsetto vocals – once the first track hits, it makes things deemed “epic” theses days looks like a tiny crumb in comparison to the heavy blasting fun this record delivers. It kicks like a mule and fights like a wolverine injected with steroids. This is the epitome of classic heavy metal styles meeting modern production and I can’t stop listening. –Bryer Wharton
While Heaven Wept
Fear Of Infinity
While Heaven Wept = Solitude Aeturnus + My Dying Bride + Fates Warning (early) + Slough Feg
Not one tiny bit of While Heaven Wept’s newest opus Fear of Infinity drags or feels dull or uninspired—the thought that went into creating the albums almost 40 minutes of music is perplexing. The composition of the tracks is appeasing, giving a glimpse of magnificent sound-scapes, instrumentation that tugs on your emotional chords with vocals that are sung directly from the vocalists’ hearts. I’m far past the point of counting how many times I’ve listened to this new album but with each twist of the volume knob or change of while listening it feels like an entirely new, refreshing piece of music. Don’t worry about pigeon-holing this into some specific genre—it has element of all types of metal. “Destroyer of Solace,” while the shortest track gets the heavy going with crunching guitars creating a fresh take on traditional heavy metal. Every little nuance While Heaven Wept push out on this record has it’s layered sounds playing off each other in a seamlessly effortless way, be it the swirling opener “Hour of Reprisal,” that eats so called “epic” metal like peas with a machete or the moments where out of nowhere it sounds like you’re listening to a grim black metal song. The mixing of styles not only make While Heaven Wept a band to cross all genres but purely something that has infinite experiences attached whilst listening to it. WHW made waves in the scene with their last album Vast Oceans Lachrymose – Fear of Infinity builds upon that foundation, living up to its title and beyond. –Bryer Wharton
Boldly Stride the Doomed
Cruz Del Sur
Argus = Candlemass + Cathedral + Penance + The Gates of Slumber
You want some classic epic doom metal—you know the stuff where the power of the riff compels you and the vocals just plain soar—look no further than Boldy Stride the Doomed, the sophomore album from Pennsylvania’s Argus. Included in their ranks is Butch Ballich, who sang for the long-standing Pittsburgh doom crew Penance, as well as the guitarist and drummer from ambient black metal band Vrolok. Some will consider the songwriting for this new offering fairly standard for the epic doom genre, but not too standard to pass off as a knock-off of other great artists. The album’s mixing is near perfection, the guitars soar and howl when they’re supposed to be, which are only exemplified when the album is spun at high volumes. The vocal performance here also outshines the norm – well worked into the albums songwriting generally dominating when Balich is singing at what seems like his maximum volume level letting the instrumentation take up smaller proportions of the music while he’s vocalizing and when he pauses – bam, huge glorious well played heavy riffing or soloing that gives the shivers like classic Candlemass achieved on the likes of Tales of Creation or Nightfall. “Durendal,” does a great job at showcasing the full creativity of Argus, and then they have their near eleven and a half minute “Pieces of Your Smile,” showcasing how diverse the band can really get. –Bryer Wharton
Before the Dawn
Before the Dawn = Dark Tranquillity + Amorphis + Paradise Lost
Finland’s Before the Dawn definitely have the Finnish melodic metal feel to them. Deathstar Rising, the band’s sixth full-length recording, makes me think a bit of fellow Finnish band Amorphis doing more of a melodic death metal thing. The melodies play out strongly on the album, making for some catchy moments, though the album will mostly only appease genre fans of melodic death and gothic metal. Before the Dawn is mainly the project of Tuomas Saukkonen, who has quite the laundry list of other band associations, but the additional members playing on the new album have some proud credentials as well, notably Lars Eikind who’s played with Age of Silence, Winds and Khold to name a few. This is a good offering for the folks that are getting a bit worn out on Finnish folk metal—recommended for fans of melodic metal, death or not death associated. –Bryer Wharton
Anthems to Decrepitude
Hrizg = Mortuary Drape + Mayhem (old) + Tormentor
Hrizg is a one-man black metal act from Spain just as worthy of a listen as any other new black metal artist. Anthems to Decrepitude is Hrizg’s follow-up to his first full-length and debut for the mighty Moribund records. The album is great at capturing two highly needed aspects of most black metal: atmosphere and compelling songwriting that doesn’t force the listener to skip to the next track. Hrzig plays mid-paced black metal, and at plenty of times, the guitars are showcase worthy, going above and beyond flat out tremolo riffing with the bass mix continuously low. Production runs in the underground realm, but no basement lo-fi sounds here—everything is crystal clear. Hrizg’s vocal approach plays to the music very well and offers probably the most original portion to the black metal offering with his mid-range growls—again, far from typical scowling and shrieking. Anthems to Decrepitude is definitely a somber listen that’s worth trying on for size instead of just passing by as another typical one-man black metal act. –Bryer Wharton
Leaves’ Eyes = Theatre of Tragedy + Atrocity (new) + Midnattsol
Liv Kristine and the boys of Atrocity are back with a new Leaves’ Eyes album, and it’s what fans will expect from the now well-established folk-gothic metal band from Germany. Kristine gained her reputation for being the heavenly female vocalist for the beauty and the beast gothic metal act Theatre of Tragedy. Meredead is a great mix of all the styles the band has utilized to date with a more emphasized focus on the folk factor. The new album isn’t tame by any means—there are songs that pack quite a punch and then there are graceful, thoughtful ballad tracks, a good chunk sung in Norwegian, including versions of traditional Nordic songs “Kråkevisa” and “Nystev.” Meredead is in the same caliber as Leaves’ Eyes other records and a definite welcome for fans of gothic and folk metal. –Bryer Wharton
The Metamorphosis Melody
Midnattsol = Leave’s Eyes + Within Temptation (old) + Elis
Interestingly enough Midnattsol vocalist Elise Espanaes is the sister of Leaves Eyes vocalist Live Kristine. Both bands are highly comparable in style, but Midnattsol—well at least with The Metamorphosis Melody (the only album I’ve heard from the band)—sticks mainly in the female fronted gothic realm. Midnattsol is relatively new to the metal scene, releasing their first full-length in 2005. Espanaes’ vocals, unfortunately, are much flatter and feel much more derivative than her sisters—her range stays for the most part in the same almost monotone type realm. Vocals aside, they’re not all bad, especially on “Kong Valemons Kamp.” The songwriting, album production and fairly diverse instrumentation and styles make the record interesting, but not enough to propel it out of sticking with its genre fans. When you think of female fronted gothic/folk metal Midnattsol have definitely proved their position and offer a very definition to the genre. –Bryer Wharton
Season of Mist
Samael = Hollenthon + The Kovenant + Septicflesh
Treading again into older territory with new territory added, Samael return 2009’s Above, which saw much added aggression and appeasement of the bands early black metal style fans. Lux Mundi feels like a return to sound to the band’s classic Passage album but it also manages to stay fresh and have the feeling the band has always carried with them since said album has the knack to move forward without fully alienating fans. Xy’s keyboard and programming goes hand in hand with some mighty hefty riffs and programmed or not some of Xy’s drum hits sound like they were created with a hammer. The songs return to more epic territory and keep listening a pleasure rather than any chore. Really this is what any Samael fan could ask for from the band, one of metal’s premiere dark metal bands in existence. In all the time I’ve spent cranking Samael’s albums I’ve never heard a band quite like them. –Bryer Wharton
Back on Track
Shakra = Gotthard + a completely not wussy Buckcherry + Shylock
I’ll give due credit here: Swiss quintet Shakra have been rocking out for almost fifteen years now, so obviously they’re doing something right. My best guess is that the band is more notable in Europe than the US possibly due to the fact that a good portion of their eight studio albums haven’t been officially released in the US. Shakra deliver far from what is my cup of tea, personally—power chords a plenty and simple radio friendly melodies fly from the album’s tracks. I really can’t think of a whole lot to say about Back on Track, aside from the fact that it is the first to feature the band’s new vocalist John Prakesh who definitely fits the band’s sound. This sounds like a band that should be in top rotation on all popular rock radio—who knows, maybe this US release will get them on track here in the good ole USA. If you like crunchy melodic modern rock, I will say this is better than the majority of modern rock bands getting radio play these days. –Bryer Wharton
Book of Dowth
Suidakra = Primordial + Eluveitie + Einsiferum + Bal Saggoth
The extremely long standing German bred but Celtic/folk influenced Suidakra have returned to deliver some mighty metal and folk jaunts with their tenth studio album Book of Dowth. In a long line of favored albums, this apple doesn’t fall far from the talented tree of multi-dimensional albums the members have crafted. Founding member Arkadius (Suidakra spelled backwards) “Akki Antonik continues to diversify the band’s songs with his wide vocal range from rough growls and scowls to happily sung tunes. The best part of Suidakra is band’s ability to craft catchy songs—some effortlessly mixing in the folk styles and some being flat out ragers with Book of Dowth some of the heavier cuts are a bit more thrashy than in the previous black metal territories the band has explored. For fans of folk inspired metal, Suidakra is a great band to look into with a wealth of fantastic albums and really any of them a great starting point. Props to AFM records for giving the band a better worldwide release. –Bryer Wharton
Twisted Tower Dire
Make it Dark
Cruz Del Sur
Twisted Tower Dire = Slough Feg + Iron Maiden + Iced Earth
Running in at about six minutes over a half hour, the fifth full-length fromVirginia based quintet Twisted Tower Dire packs a hell of a punch. Make it Dark is superbly fast in-your-face heavy metal that all started in the mid-90s in defiance of metal’s declining popularity during that time. This eight track beast rarely slows down, but the instruments don’t fly by in any sort of haze or scuffle—they’re all punishing, clear and monstrously catchy. It somewhat reminds me of Killers era Iron Maiden with modern production—no player is out to be the star of this show. Singer Jonny Aune’s voice just yells classic heavy metal with lyrical oddities reminiscent of Slough Feg, especially in ragers “Snow Leopard” and “Mystera.” “Torture, Torture” has some amazing dual guitar melodies and flawless transitions. This is not one to miss for classic heavy metal fans—no bad tracks and no filler, just metal on top of metal with some metal in between. –Bryer Wharton
Broken Heart Syndrome
Voodoo Circle = Whitesnake + Yngwie Malmsteen + Rainbow + Deep Purple
There are always those albums that tread a fine line into heavy metal and hard rock, and Voodoo Circle’s Broken Heart Syndrome is a picture perfect example. It has the strength and then some of many metal artists but the rhythms and bluesy guitar crooning of classic hard rock. The tag of what genre this album fits in is minute – fans of power, prog, and heavy metal have good reason to look into Voodoo Circle and their second album Broken Heart Syndrome. The band is a super group—with vocals coming from David Readman, who has sang for Pink Cream 69 and Adagio as well as being an solo artist. Alex Beyrodt, one of the key-founding members of the band has rocked out in Silent Force, Sinner and Primal Fear as well as bassist Mat Sinner. The talent shows on the record, plenty of different styles are being melded into this entity. You can groove on the slow jams or rock out to plain and not so simple hard rock fist pumpers. I’m not sure how full-on metal fans will react to this album but fans of the mentioned members other credentials or those seeking out a terrifically produced, written and fun hard rock album, Voodoo Circle definitely delivers the rocking goodies. –Bryer Wharton