My Top 10 Metal Albums From 2015

I actually had this post finished a while ago but forgot to post it! 2015 was a great year for metal, and many albums born in this year are some of my all time favourites. So without further ado, here are my top 10 favourite albums from 2015:

 

10. My Dying Bride – Feel The Misery

I’ll be completely honest, I’m quite new to doom metal, but I really enjoyed this album and it has gotten me into more doom metal. I fell in love with the overall sound of the album because while the lyrics and music are very deep and often dark, the music has a seemingly melancholic ambiance at the same time.

 

9. Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls

Who doesn’t get excited when a new Iron Maiden album is released? This album is overall beautifully composed as always and of course since hearing that Iron Maiden will be blessing our country with their presence this year, this album has had a greater impact on many of us South Africans than some of their previous albums (not that there has ever been an unsatisfactory Iron Maiden album!). Unfortunately it is obvious that Bruce doesn’t have the power in his voice that he used to have, but at least he’s not letting that stop him.

 

8. Stratovarius – Eternal

Before this album I honestly didn’t listen to Stratovarius much as I prefer Sonata Arctica’s sound (I have often heard the two being compared to each other), but this album may have converted me to a Stratovarius fan. The melodic and symphonic elements had me hooked from the first song. This album seems to be heavier than some of their other recent work, but it’s definitely a good change.

 

7. Ensiferum – One Man Army

This album was an excellent comeback after their slightly disappointing previous album Unsung Heroes, where I only enjoyed about half the songs on the album. There were quite a few negative reviews for this album, but I think that everyone is still just angry about Unsung Heroes and probably won’t let it go for a while. While this release isn’t as folkish (if that makes sense) as their previous albums it’s still a very good listen. It mostly features heavier songs with the catchy sing-along choruses that Ensiferum fans love. Definitely a staple album in any folk metal fan’s library.

 

6. Orden Ogan – Ravenhead

As a relatively new Orden Ogan fan, I was impressed by this album as it has stronger melodies and songwriting than To The End, the only other Orden Ogan album I really know well enough to comment on. This is also a great sing-along album with catchy choruses and typical power riffs.

 

5. Nightwish – Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Nightwish seemed to have lost their hype in recent years, but this album put them back on the map. New vocalist Floor Jansen (ex-After Forever) did an amazing job stepping out of her comfort zone and taking on the task of becoming the frontwoman of one of the once most loved symphonic metal bands in a very successful mission to revive them. Tuomas Holopainen is a musical genius and this album is the embodiment of perfection. It might even be his best work yet. Rumour has it that they will also be visiting South Africa this year and you can be sure that I will be right in front for this show!

 

4. Gloryhammer – Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards

Super cheesy power metal at its finest. This is one of those albums that I can listen to over and over again. While I know this type of music is not everyone’s cup of tea, this is definitely one of my favourite albums of all time. I love the weird and wonderful story that the album reveals about the epic adventures through the kingdom of Fife. This album is much more symphonic and epic than their debut album and has a possibly Rhapsody of Fire inspired sound.

 

3. Månegarm – Månegarm

One of the more recent metal releases, this one is still very fresh in my mind. I don’t think I have ever wanted to get my hands on a band’s entire discography after listening to one album before until I found this one. I had known about Månegarm for a while but for some reason never actually listened to them before this album. I regret not listening to them sooner because this album has me hooked! They might very well be one of my favourite bands now!

 

2. Powerwolf – Blessed & Possessed

Another great release from Powerwolf, but this one actually took a while to catch on. In the beginning I was not so impressed and complained a lot, but this really is an excellent release. Their fusion of operatic and “churchy” vocals and keyboards with power metal works absolutely perfectly. Powerwolf never fails to impress and I’m yet to find another band who does something even similar to what they do!

 

1. Korpiklaani – Noita

Naturally my favourite band is at the top of this list, but even though I always anticipate a Korpiklaani release, this album blew me away. It definitely exceeded my expectations in every way and is by far my favourite Korpiklaani album to date! This album definitely has more of a drinking song vibe than some of their other stuff and is amazing to sing along to (I would know! Seeing them live in September was the best day of my life!). Korpiklaani really is like wine, getting better and better with age. I’m excited to hear what they produce next.

 

Do you agree with my list? What are your favourite metal albums from 2015?

 

 

Don’t forget that the Metal Warriors Show returns this Tuesday, 5th January, 9-11pm (GMT+2) on The Grind Radio!

 

J
xx

Eluveitie Show Review

Hello everyone!

 

This is my first official show review. I hope you enjoy. I will be doing these after every show I attend from now on!

 

I had been waiting for this day to come since the announcement over a year ago. I bought my tickets on 28 October 2014 – the day they went on sale – to make sure I am guaranteed to see one of my favourite bands live on their first tour to South Africa. And holy crap was it worth it!

 

We first attended the pre-party at Iron Tusk, and when the time came, we walked (in a large group – this is Newtown after all) to Bassline, where the show took place. Props to the guys from Witchdoctor and Iron Tusk by the way for making it feel safe to walk around in a dodgy area of Joburg at night and making it become a metal hangout! I wasn’t expecting such a huge amount of people to attend the show, when we got to the venue half an hour before the doors opened, there were already at least 100 (maybe 200 – I’m bad at estimating numbers) people there. I didn’t realise there were so many people in South Africa that share my love for folk metal.

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At the pre-party

The crowd got really fired up right from the second the band started walking on stage. They definitely made one hell of an entrance – opening with King, followed by Otherworld. They are one of the few bands where I can honestly say that their live performance is 1000 times better than their recorded music, which is already incredible. Their stage presence was phenomenal. They involved the crowd often. They sang The Call Of The Mountains in their native tongue – Swiss-German – instead of in English, and it made the song even more beautiful and moving than it already is. I was overcome with emotion when they played my three favourite songs – Slanias Song, Omnos and Brictom. I really wasn’t expecting to hear my favourite songs so when it happened the tears started flowing. It was such a beautiful moment.

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After Anna Murphy movingly sang Scorched Earth, they started an acoustic set, which included many of my favourite instrumental Eluveitie songs. Unfortunately I have no photos of this because I was enjoying the show too much! Some people even started dancing to the acoustic songs!

 

After their acoustic set, they continued to play a second “metal” set which included some of their heavier numbers, starting with one of their most powerful songs, Helvetios, which had the whole crowd singing along. Before they played Quoth The Raven, they challenged the crowd to give security something to do by trying to push the barriers forward. I got quite squished as I was right in front but overall it was a fun experience and the security were such good sports and also enjoyed it. After playing another of my favourites, they left the stage as if they were done, but we all knew they had one song left to do – they couldn’t play a show without playing Inis Mona. And sure enough, they came for one hell of an encore to finish with one of their most iconic songs. Inis Mona was actually the first folk metal song I ever heard, and sparked my love for the genre, so I was ecstatic! What an incredible performance! If you weren’t there, you missed out!

 

I was lucky enough to get the setlist, as well as the drummer’s drumstick after the show!

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My spoils for the night!

Thank you again to Witchdoctor Productions for bringing this legendary band to South Africa. I will never forget this incredible experience!

 

If you want to see more amazing folk metal, don’t forget to buy your tickets for Finntroll! The shows are on 27th November (Cape Town) and 28th November (Johannesburg) and tickets can be purchased here. I’m sure this show will be just as epic!

 

 

J

xx

My Denmark Adventure! (Yes I know I am posting this so late)

Hi everyone!

 

I have actually been back in South Africa for two weeks now and wanted to write about my adventures sooner but I have been so busy. Here are some (but not all) of the things I got up to and saw on my holiday. They are in order of when they happened.

 

1. Tivoli

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Tivoli is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. I spent the entire day there going on all the rides multiple times. It was so much fun! I missed decent rides – Gold Reef City is all we really have and it sucks. The Demon was by far my favourite ride! It’s a super fast rollercoaster (you can see the tracks in the photo) with lots of twists and turns. I wish we had fun rides like these in SA.

 

2. Dark Angels Exhibition in Rundetaarn

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I actually just went to the round tower because it is a tourist attraction and there ended up being a fashion exhibition inside! I absolutely loved this because the techniques used by Peachoo+Krejberg embody all that we have learned in Fashion Theory over the last few years. You can find out more about the Dark Angels exhibition here.

 

3. The Queen’s Tapestries at Christiansborg Palace

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There were so many things to do at Christiansborg. It took me almost a full day to see everything! This was my favourite part though. There is an entire room full of these tapestries that were a gift to the Queen in 1990. These tapestries were very bright and colourful, but most contained a very dark message. For example, look at this one. It’s quite gruesome – heads on spikes, birds attacking people. It seems quite unusual to give a queen something like this for her 50th birthday. Just in case you can’t see, here’s a close up:

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4. The Little Mermaid

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A trip to Copenhagen isn’t complete without visiting The Little Mermaid!

 

5. A quick trip to Sweden!

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We took the train to Helsingør and the ferry over to Helsingborg to spend a day in Sweden just because we can. It was great to see Sweden. Helsingborg is very beautiful.

 

6. Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

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Anyone who knows me will know how much I love anything to do with Vikings! This day was incredibly fun! Roskilde is a very lovely city and the Viking Ship Museum was amazing. There are many interactive features at the museum, like a blacksmith who shows you how he makes the nails and other items used to make viking boats, as well as an ongoing projects where they are building ships based on viking design. I also got to ride on and help row and steer one of these replica viking boats!

 

7. Trelleborg Viking Fortress

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Trelleborg was definitely one of my favourite things I experienced this holiday. The trip to Slaeglse was quite interesting, as Trelleborg is literally located in the middle of nowhere, but it was so worth it. The reconstructed longhouse was great to see, as well as walking through where the stronghold used to be. It was absolutely incredible to be able to walk where the vikings once walked. I sat in the centre of the stronghold taking in my surroundings for well over an hour, imagining how magnificent it would have been in its time. There is also a small reconstructed viking village, which looks like there would be all sorts of activities taking place on busy days, but because I went during the week and in school term time, it was quite abandoned. It was still interesting to go inside the houses and see how the vikings lived. Plus, I came across this rather amusing statue of Thor:

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8. Meeting Michael Denner

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Anyone who is into their old school heavy metal will know exactly who Mr. Denner is, but for those of you who don’t, he was the guitarist of Mercyful Fate, whose style was revolutionary for their time. These days Michael Denner owns a record store in Copenhagen called Beat Pop Records. It was such a great experience meeting him and he is such a lovely person. We talked for almost an hour and he told me about his recent music projects, favourite bands and the Danish metal scene.

 

9. Kronborg Castle

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This beautiful castle is famous for being the location where Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is set. The castle itself was quite empty, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Casemates – the passages underneath the castle where the soldiers could stay in times when they were under attack. Guided only by my phone flashlight in some areas, this was quite a spooky experience. Most of the tunnels are pitch black and the only sounds you hear are your own footsteps and the occasional drip of water. My favourite part, however, was seeing the statue of the mythical hero, Holger Danske, who is said to be asleep and will awaken to defend Denmark from enemies.

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10. Korpiklaani!

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One of the main reasons for my trip and one of the best nights of my life – seeing my favourite band live! This was an absolutely incredible experience as I never thought I would see Korpiklaani live, and after the show I got to meet the band and party with them until after 3am! I wish I could relive this night, what an experience.

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So these were the highlights of my Denmark trip! I hope you enjoyed reading about them. I had a blast and wish I didn’t have to leave. Denmark has definitely found a special place in my heart and maybe the next time I go I won’t have to leave again.

 

 

J

xx

Metal Warriors Playlist 08.09.15

Here’s tonight’s Metal Warriors playlist. Tune in every Tuesday 9-11pm (GMT+2) on The Grind Radio! Even though I am going on holiday until 30th September, I’ve prepared the playlists for each week and the show will carry on as usual until I return.

 

Falconer – Grimborg

Fenrir – Lost In Twilight

Elvenking – Through Wolf’s Eyes

 

Finntroll – Fanskapsfylld

Svartby – Kom I Min Kittel

 

Heidevolk – Een Met De Storm

Týr – Hold The Heathen Hammer High

Ensiferum – My Ancestors Blood

 

Kivimetsän Druidi – Desolation White Wolf

Equilibrium – Unbesiegt

Adavant – Ride Of The Vengeful

 

Аркона (Arkona) – Сербия (Serbia)

Alkonost – The Sword Of Fate

Eluveitie – Ínís Mona

 

Nightcreepers – Frozen Outland

Falchion – Chronicles Of The Dead

Heorot – Ylpeyden Kiro

 

Korpiklaani – Ruumiinmultaa

Balyios – Old Man Maiden

 

Wuthering Heights – Longing For The Woods – Part II – The Ring Of Fire

Orden Ogan – The Things We Believe In

Glittertind – Landkjenning

 

Alestorm – Hangover [Taio Cruz Cover]

 

 

J

xx

Folk Metal Problems

If you’re a folk metal fan like myself, you often deal with frustration with society. Here are some of the problems we have to deal with. This article is meant to be fun, so don’t take it too seriously.

I’ll be discussing folk metal problems on my radio show on The Grind Radio on Thursday 6th November from 1 til 3pm (GMT+2) so tune in for some fun! It will be happening in the later half of my show, after the Goth Rock and Industrial/EBM section (just a heads up for the metalheads who can’t stand Goth music).

So without further delays, here are the very real folk metal fan problems:

 

1. Having to explain what folk metal is to someone who’s never heard of it.

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with combining Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash with metal. That would be a disaster.

 

2. You: “I listen to folk Metal”. Ignorant person: “Oh, like Amon Amarth?”

Adding viking themed lyrics to melodic death metal does not make it folk metal. Amon Amarth is awesome, but they are not folk metal.

 

3. When people assume you must be a Pagan. 

What does listening to music about elves, vikings, epic battles and olden gods have to do with my religious views?

 

4. You can’t tell anyone who your favourite band or what your favourite song is because you can’t pronounce it.

When trying to explain my favourite Finntroll song I end up having to point to it in my iTunes after attempting to pronounce it (and failing miserably) five times.

 

5. Even when they are singing in English you can’t understand them because of their accents.

You end up having to Google the song lyrics just to be certain that the English title of the song isn’t misleading and that they are in fact singing in English.

 

6. That awkward moment when you’re blasting some folk metal in the car and you realise you’re getting weird looks from people because all they can hear are the crazy flute or violin solos.

Every Eluveitie fan has had to deal with this.

 

7. You want to wear a kilt but know it would look ridiculous.

Unfortunately kilt-wearing is not something everyone easily accepts.

 

8. You can’t listen to music without a beer in your hand.

Not always a problem, but true story. Folk metal is the best drinking and party music and should be enjoyed with a drink in one hand and a wench in the other.

 

I hope you enjoyed this list. Feel free to suggest more Folk metal problems in the comments!

Here’s a song to finish off the list:

 

J

xx

Album Review – Alestorm – Sunset On The Golden Age

Artist: Alestorm

Album: Sunset On The Golden Age

Genre: Pirate / Folk Power Metal

Released: 1st August 2014

 

Track listing:

CD 1:
01. Watch the Plank
02. Drink
03. Magnetic North
04. 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)
05. Mead from Hell
06. Surf Squid Warfare
07. Quest for Ships
08. Wooden Leg!
09. Hangover
10. Sunset on the Golden Age

CD 2: (Deluxe Edition)
11. Over the Seas (Acoustic)
12. Nancy the Tavern Wench (Acoustic)
13. Keelhauled (Acoustic)
14. The Sunk’n Norwegian (Acoustic)
15. Shipwrecked (Acoustic)
16. Questing Upon the Poop Deck (Bonus Track)

 

I must admit I was quite disappointed with this album. When they released the single Drink, I was unbelievably excited for the rest of the album but sadly it didn’t measure up to the single. The more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it but it seems that Alestorm is moving away their pirate sound and adopting a more commercial sound. I was shocked to hear that they did a cover of Taio Cruz’s song Hangover but it was quite enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, Sunset On The Golden Age isn’t a bad album at all, it’s just not what I was expecting. Many of the songs are very predictable and repetitive. However, I thoroughly enjoy the acoustic versions of older songs on the second disc of the deluxe edition.

My favourite track off the album is definitely Drink but I also enjoyed Mead from Hell. I loved all the acoustic versions on the bonus disc, with Keelhauled and Nancy the Tavern Wench being my absolute favourites. I honestly think I enjoyed the acoustic songs more than the album itself.

This album is excellent in its own right, but cannot be compared to their previous albums. Still worth a listen if you enjoy Pirate and Folk metal.

 

Rating 3 Star

 

 

J

xx

Album Review – Elvenking – The Pagan Manifesto

So this is my first album review =D I hope you enjoy it. I am going to try to do this every time a band I like releases a new album. Artist: Elvenking

Album: The Pagan Manifesto

Genre: Folk Metal

Released: 9th May 2014

 

Track listing:

01. The Manifesto

02. King Of The Elves

03. Elvenlegions

04. The Druid Ritual Of Oak

05. Moonbeam Stone Circle

06. The Solitaire

07. Towards The Shores

08. Pagan Revolution

09. Grandier’s Funeral Pyre

10. Twilight Of Magic

11. Black Roses For The Wicked One

12. Witches Gather

 

I’ll always have a soft spot for Elvenking, as they were one of the first Folk Metal bands I discovered when I first got into the genre. They have always been one of those bands that I listen to every now and then, but not all the time, as their usual stuff gets very predictable. However, I feel this album marks a new beginning for Elvenking. There is immense improvement in their musical skills and this album honestly blew me away. It does not happen very often that I can listen to an entire album on repeat for hours without skipping a single song, but this album is one of these. Elvenking’s sound has matured a considerable amount over the past few albums. Their catchy melodies and lyrics about witches, rituals and magick had me ensnared from the first song. With this album they have moved away from their alternative sound and incorporated more Folk metal. Keep in mind though that Elvenking is known for their cheeseyness when it comes to melodies, but I actually love this part of their sound. The best way I can think to describe the album as a whole is the theatrical sound of Avantasia meets the folk melodies of Eluveitie.

Choosing a favourite track was next to impossible, because there is not one song on the album that I don’t adore, but I think it’s between Black Roses For The Wicked One or Witches Gather. The album also includes 3 beautiful instrumental tracks, of which Amethyst is definitely my favourite.

This album is a great listen and I’d highly recommend it to any Folk metal fan, or even to those who are unfamiliar with the genre.

 

Rating 4 Star

J

xx