Category Archives: Folk Rock

Hammerstorm – The Lonely Wanderer

Hammerstorm - The Lonely Wanderer
The Lonely Wanderer is the debut release from international Atmospheric / Black Metal duo Hammerstorm. Featuring Immortal Frost Productions’ very own Surtur on vocals and Slikver (Astral Winter’s Josh Young) handling all instruments this long running relationship has had a hand in some of the genres best work and this is a strong first release that deserves to be heard and indeed successful. Opening with ‘Mystics Of His Soul’ where Surtur screams over some medieval keyboard. It essentially acts as an intro to second track ‘The Lonely Wanderer’, which carries the same melody on keyboards but it soon takes a back seat to some traditional Black Metal guitars and frenzied drumming. ‘Along The Shades Of Darkness’ is a battle hymn that opens with combative percussion, speared with classic Black metal shredding from Slikver. Unfortunately, the momentum gained from previous songs is lost somewhat by long intros to most of the tracks. ‘Whispers From The Depths Of The Forest’ is a personal favourite due to the varied musicianship on it. The quickly executed guitar riffs are comparable to classic Iron Maiden. The only downside is that the lyrics seem slightly lost in the mix. Elsewhere ‘When Darkness Falls Upon Me’ leads the second half of the album. The opening drum track sounds misplaced though and lets the track down. However, after a minute and a half this is no longer the case and business is resumed. Well worth checking this one out.

Hammerstorm is:
Slikver (All instruments), Surtur (Vocals).

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Stroszek – Wild Years of Remorse and Failures

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Wild Years of Remorse and Failures is a reissue of two albums by Stroszek. It incorporates the albums ‘Songs of Remorse’ and ‘Life Failures Made Music’ as well as the ‘Wild Hunt’ EP and two cover songs. The albums were originally released between 2007-2009 and were notoriously difficult to obtain hence the re-release. Both albums have been remastered and the ‘Songs of Remorse’ album has had all its vocals re-recorded. The musical style is an acoustic folk combination mixed with dark rock. Clean vocals on the tracks immediately set Stroszek apart from most groups in the dark rock genre as well as the use of acoustic guitars.  The first album ‘Remorse’ has a strong folk band or country music feel with acoustics and gentle drums punctuated with the occasional burst of electric guitars and heavier drum beats merging with the melancholic vocals. Stand out tracks on the first album include a cover version of Dick Curless’ ‘Bury the Bottle with Me’ ‘The Railroad Track’  and ‘Sand’.  The second album ‘Failures’ has a heavier rock sound compared to ‘Remorse’ with a more oppressive theme of sadness and despair complemented with some dark metal style riffs and heavy drums reinforcing the theme of failure. It still retains the acoustic sound but it’s not as prevalent as it was in ‘Remorse’ with more songs employing electric guitars. Highlights for ‘Failures’ include another cover song, this time Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Tecumseh Valley’, whilst elsewhere ‘Land of Silence and Darkness’ and ‘Secret of the Earth‘ sound splendid.  In Conclusion  Wild Years of Remorse and Failures is a great album for those curious about Stroszek and long-time fans eager to hear how their old favourites sound remastered. It also provides an opportunity for those who missed out first time around to get their hands on a copy.  It’s an extremely accomplished collection of two fine works (Personally ‘Remorse’ just wins in the better album contest) and on the evidence of this it isn’t difficult to see why it has been so difficult to get hold of.

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Stroszek is:

C. (Vocals & Guitar), Davide (Bass), Richard (Drums).


Celtachor – Nine Waves From The Shore

Celtachor - Nine Waves From The Shore

Nine waves from the shore is the debut album from Dublin based group Celtachor. The group combine black/doom and Folk Metal influences into their sound to forge their own distinct style. The group considers themselves the Narrators of Irish Mythology (The Irish equivalent of Amon Amarth if you will) and they perform their songs with the same drive and Passion as the Mighty Nords.  Kicking things off is an Epic ten minute assault ‘The Landing: Amergins Conquest’ followed by ‘The Battle of Tailtin’ which reinforces the similarity to the Scandinavians using ancient tales to drive some impressive guitar shredding and deep Primal drums.  The inclusion of traditional Irish instruments like the Irish Whistle and the Bodhran (Think Handheld drum) add character to the tracks and give a unique sound that’s greatly welcomed.  Vocalist Stephen Roche belts out the lyrics with passion and is backed up by stellar guitars and drums.  And special mention must go to the Albums one instrumental track ‘Tar éis an Sidhe’ which uses the traditional instruments to brilliant effect to create a beautiful haunting track that is ethereal and mysterious as well as somewhat mournful. ‘Sorrow of the Dagda’ also features an awesome last five minutes similar to the songs on Metallica’s Death Magnetic with long solos gradually winding down the song to a sombre conclusion.  This is a highly impressive opening album from the group and lays some firm foundations for their follow up work.  The similarities to Amon Amarth are what lured me in (A Love of Mythology, epic tunes) but give Celtachor some time to really define themselves and their sound and they could go toe to toe with the Vikings.  And wouldn’t that be something to see!

Celtachor is:
Stephen Roche (Vocals, Irish Whistle, Bodhran), David Quinn (Guitar), Emile Quigley (Bass), Anaïs Chareyre (Drums), Fionn Staffort (Guitar, Irish Whistle).

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Liv Kristine – Interview

Liv Kristine

Leave’s Eyes front-woman Liv Kristine talks about their upcoming tour and her fourth solo record Libertine.

Gerry:
Looking forward to the tour with Firewind?

Liv:
I am really looking forward to this tour! We will play at places and venues we’ve never played before, like in Belfast. Firewind is such a great band with outstanding musicians and lovely people. We already met Gus, even his family, some times lately, having a drink at the German Musikmesse, moreover, we met backstage at an Ozzy Osbourne concert.

Gerry:
What have Leave’s Eyes got in store for UK fans on the tour?

Liv:
Last time we played London and Manchester in 2011 we had such a killer time: full venues and a fantastic audience! Alex and Tosso already made up their minds about the “possibly-preferable” UK-audience setlist. Apart from that I will join Firewind for their superb track “Breaking the Silence”. I can’t wait to meet you all after the show! For those of you who haven’t heard my upcoming solo album yet, I will bring some “Libertine” for you in my suitcase;-)

Gerry:
Do you prefer to tour as a band or a solo artist?

Liv:
I definitely need both. The main difference is rooted within the musical genres: Leaves” Eyes is a metal band, influenced by Scandinavian and Irish traditional folk music, moreover, Norse mythology and Viking history when it comes to lyrics and concept. My solo project is probably at home in the genre of indie rock-pop music. I grew up with e.g. Black Sabbath, Edvard Grieg, and Abba, i.e. a lot of varied and interesting musical influences. I believe I was born with a creative heart and mind and I do need to develop, to spread my wings within music and art generally, which also means to be involved with different musical styles.

Gerry:
Has touring gotten easier or more difficult?

Liv:
I would say easier. My son is a big boy now, we have found a great private school that has a headmaster who knows us well and accepts our “untraditional” jobs…and there is this wonderful thing called “Skype”! Moreover, most members of Leaves’Eyes have toured together several times which means that we know each other very well: Snoring band members in the back bunks; “silent” people in the front of the night liner, no dirty socks, “love-making” and loud partying only outside the bus!

Gerry:
You have spanned various genres over your career (Gothic, Symphonic, Folk etc…), does it happen naturally or did you always intend for it to be like that?

Liv:
It happens naturally. I just follow my musical instinct… and heart.  There are no limits for me except for my own “stomach feeling”, that is that inner voice that helps me make my decisions and find my own ways. My wide experience has made me become the artist I am, and I feel completely free to spread my wings. Thanks to my friends and fans supporting me throughout all these years, and having faith in my natural-given talent. Someday, I will take my first singing lesson.

Gerry:
How has your approach to recording changed over this time?

Liv:
I actually have become a great fan of one-take recording sessions, i.e. recording a complete song in one turn. I like this because you can build up the tension and improvisation more intensely, which again strengthens the emotional effect on the listeners. I did it again with the Kate Bush cover, moreover, with Silence and Panic. We are lucky to have our own studio, Mastersound. That’s a great privilege.

Gerry:
You have collaborated with numerous artists, including Nick Holmes (3am) and Cradle of Filth (Nymphetamine).  Which was the most enjoyable?  And why?

Liv:
It was the guest vocal appearances for Atrocity (work 80) and Cradle of Filth (Nymphetamine). Atrocity went straight into the charts, and the Cradle-duet was even nominated for the US Grammy. Motörhead won the Grammy… they deserved it, but I’m hoping for a second chance some day;-)

Anyway, headlining Wacken Open Air with Leaves’ Eyes, bringing along my Viking ship 700 kilometers on a truck, building it up on stage, : Except from my own bands, Leaves’ Eyes and Liv Kristine, it was the guest vocal appearances for Atrocity (work 80) and Cradle of Filth (Nymphetamine). Atrocity went straight into the charts, and the Cradle-duet was even nominated for the US Grammy. Motörhead won the Grammy… they deserved it, but I’m hoping for a second chance some day;-) Anyway, headlining Wacken Open Air with Leaves’ Eyes and special guests this  summer was probably the best live experience I had so far in my career.

Gerry:
How does Libertine differ from your previous solo material?

Liv:
Dues ex Machina was very atmospheric, reminding you a bit about Irish Enya, a real pop-album. Enter My Religion was more guitar-based and earthly with many interesting exotic folk influences. Skintight had some influence from J. Cash, which sometimes gives the listeners a warm and here-and-now campfire feeling experience. Libertine is a back-to-the-roots album, containing the most emotional ballads I’ve ever composed for a solo album, it even has a dark but sweet feeling to it, through both the piano, the dark bass lines and guitars. I see every album becoming more and more individual, just like I am getting closer to myself. Talking about genre… I would say all of my albums are somehow indie… pop, rock or metal.

Gerry:
You cover Kate Bush on the new record, how influential has she been on your career?

Liv:
Kate bush AND Tori Amos are truly my greatest influences vocally. Since I never had any musical education I have found my own way to prepare my voice before a concert or recording session in which I sing along to either of these wonderful voices. It was my best friend, Katja, who had this idea that I should cover Kate. During one of our girls’ evenings…parties…I started singing from the top of my voice along to Kate…the next day I was worried what the neighbors would say. Katjas neighbors did not complain…and my friend inspired me to record the track for “Libertine”. It happened in a one-take session. I just love Kate. She is absolutely outstanding.

Gerry:
How do you feel about the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tag?

Liv:
I hope it won’t go away, I am very grateful for this “award”.

Libertine is available now via Napalm Records.


Horseback – Half Blood

Horseback - Half Blood

Half Blood is the fourth full length release from North Carolina’s Horseback.  Rich in numerous layers, this is undoubtedly the strongest release to date from Jenks Miller.  The album was recorded at The Chateau, in the band’s hometown of Chapel Hill, various instruments make an appearance including piano, bells, keys and signal processors, collectively accumulated in a bewildering wall of sound.  ‘Mithras’ kicks off proceedings with a simple yet highly effective bass-line. Miller’s style of singing has also taken impressive strides for the better, with a manic ferocious vocal performance that is one of his many talents.  Miller expertly portrays a reckless fury that is seamlessly interwoven to each song without overshadowing the rest of the albums sound.  Half Blood spans several genres with great ease. The stoner style approach of drumming on ‘Ahriman’ is crisp and refreshing. Also, there is a range of moods that Half Blood emanates.  The dream like crawl of ‘Inheritance (The Changeling)’ highlights the broadness of the group’s overall sound.  ‘Hallucigenia I: Hermetic Gifts’ and ‘Spiritual Junk’ are the strongest of the Hallucigenia trilogy, tracks that close the album.  These three songs show Miller in a more reflective and sombre mood, much like the aforementioned ‘Inheritance’ compared to the more post metal fury on the first half of the record.  The artwork by Russian symbolist artist Denis Forkas is incredibly striking and sets the mood perfectly.  His work is perfect for Miller’s take at psychedelic drone.  Believe the hype, this is a true gem of an album.

Half Blood is available now via Relapse Records.