Montag, 21. August 2017

amon amarth - fate of norns

so this is my wacken post. at least kind of. i didn't buy any vinyl at this years festival because there wasn't any interesting stuff. but i saw amon amarth and as their stage show and the whole gig were nothing short of amazing, i thought it might be apt to write about my recent purchase in combination with the biggest metal festival in europe. again it was raining the week before the festival started and left sodden ground. a heavy shower on thursday and the ground was soaking wet. again rain boots were my best friends.
next to great shows by nile and the dillinger escape plan, i was eagerly awaiting the performance of amon amarth. i saw them once at elbriot fest 2015 and they were a blast. this time on an even bigger stage, promised a great show. the stage show looked real sharp with the drum kit set on an over dimensional viking helmet. during the set two viking performers fought a duel on stage, the vocalist johan hegg lit fireworks with the hit of thor's hammer and a huge midgard snake crawled on stage at the end of the show.
amon amarth absolutely killed it and the guys had one of the best performances of the whole festival. good for me that metal blade re-releases the whole amon back catalogue on some fancy vinyl options. i missed out on the first four records but "fate of norns" and "with oden on our side" caught my interest. metal blade releases two albums at a time and so i pre-ordered both records at emp mailorder. for "fate of norns" i chose the limited european colour-way on grey marble vinyl.
of course everybody knows "the pursuit of vikings", which was the opening track of their wacken set by the way, but the rest of the album is at least equally as good. a great melodic death metal album through and through. the recording process was pretty stressful for the band because amon amarth was still no full-time job at the time and the guys could only work on the record after their day jobs. the stress isn't noticeable on all accounts. "fate of norns" was the first to even enter the german album charts. great edition with additional poster and insert in a slip sleeve. #109/300. metal blade. 2004/2017.

Samstag, 19. August 2017

rings of saturn - ultu ulla

the long awaited fourth full length of rings of saturn is finally upon us. it was three years in the making and it was worth the wait. i am familiar with the band for not too long now. since the beginning of this year to be more exact. nevertheless i awaited the record eagerly because their back catalogue is superb. "embryonic anomaly" was a more than solid debut, "dingir" a better follow-up and "lugal ki en" a matured tech-death album that matched up with the big bands of the genre like whitechapel, obscura or decrepit birth.
"ultu ulla" (the sumerian cuneiform of "time immemorial") definitely topped "lugal ki en" in my humble opinion. who thinks rings of saturn is just some alien freak band with stolen riffs and some random breakdowns should take a closer listen to their albums, especially to this one. "ultu ulla" is packed with hooks, melodies and ideas. the song-writing on this album is a few levels better than on the preceding stuff. listen to the opening track "servant to this sentience" and the instrumental "the macrocosm" and convince yourself.
the u.s. offshoot of nuclear blast did quite a few colour versions for this release. the visually more appealing ones were an electric blue with splatter and a green and yellow merge with splatter variant but those were exclusive to either band webshop or tour merch and thus out of the question for me. nuclear blast germany had a few copies of the mint green version in their store and so i opted for one of those copies. again the artwork looks real spaced out and is so rich in detail. great job by mark cooper. next to an opaque yellow version my green copy is part of the most limited edition out of 300 copies. nuclear blast. 2017.

Dienstag, 15. August 2017

decrepit birth - axis mundi

decrepit birth is another discovery in my ever expanding tech death band cosmos. i was browsing through the nuclear blast online store, which i do regularly not to miss any new vinyl, and came across the band's new output "axis mundi". the name sounded familiar and the cover looked ace. enough reasons for me to check them out. as soon as i listened to "epigenetic triplicty" i was sold on them.
decrepit birth was founded in 2001 and members changed quite frequently since then with vocalist bill robinson and guitarist matt sotelo being the constant ones. they released their first two albums via unique leader records and their third on nuclear blast. the latter, "polarity", was already unleashed seven years ago. quite a long time between two records but "axis mundi" was worth the wait.
the band plays, quelle suprise, technical death metal with an odd feeling for melodies. with a few spoken words here and there and the use of keyboards those melodic parts have a real dark touch to them. the rest is sheer technical diversity. i read a few fan comments complaining about decrepit birth being too much metal mainstream now but i cannot hear anything slightly mainstream here. of course they have evolved but this is the way things go. lovely clear blue with yellow splatter vinyl out of 500 copies. nuclear blast 2017.

Sonntag, 13. August 2017

elder - live at roadburn 2013

three weeks ago two of my best friends and me were on a trip to hamburg to catch one of our favourite bands live. elder is the name and i was pretty excited to see them. i missed them last year and therefore i was almost hysteric when i learned about the concert in hamburg a few months ago. on a little side note i also wanted to snag a little piece of u.s. vinyl of the new record "reflections of a floating world". the gig was on a monday and the day started out with constant heavy raining.
the highway to hamburg was blocked because of a construction site and so we thought to get to the city via ordinary roads. those were inaccessible as well because of another construction site. so we drove to wedel, a small town near hamburg with access to public transport. halfway in hamburg we had to get out of the train because of yet another construction site. so we took a rail replacement bus, hopped into another train and finally arrived after two and half hours. usually the trip takes an hour.
we missed one of the two supporting bands but that wasn't too much of an issue. when elder started their set, the small venue with a capacity of maybe 200-300 people was on fire. great set list with mainly new songs and a great atmosphere between crowd and band. the only tiny downer was that the band didn't carry any u.s. vinyl but the european edition instead, which i already own. in hindsight that seems very plausible. on such a small d.y.i. euro tour the band only took the most important merch with them. the european label delivered the vinyl. next to a shirt and a patch i still bought some elder vinyl.
they released a live record from the 2013 edition of roadburn festival in the netherlands. recently burning world records re-pressed this record on opaque red and green vinyl and i actually wanted to pick up a copy before but never came around to it. so this was the chance. after a little chat with some band members at their merch table after the concert, i took my stuff and was delighted to find the green vinyl inside the gatefold. an all around great gig with good friends. what more can a guy ask for? the record itself is a mix of mainly songs from their "dead roots stirring" album and one from their self-titled debut. solid performance with nice artwork. burning world records/roadburn records. 2013/2017.

Freitag, 11. August 2017

arch enemy - war eternal

not long ago i couldn't care less for arch enemy. i knew stuff of them vaguely but what i heard always confirmed that they were an ok band which isn't worth further efforts. that changed last year when i witnessed their live shows at reload festival and above all at wacken festival 2016. their set was a blast with great stage show, loads of pyrotechnics and the band in splendid shape. this lead to my purchase of the live vinyl release of this event, called "as the stages burn". then i heard of the announcement of a coming record this autumn.
a flame was lit and i wanted to check what the recent stuff with new vocalist alissa white-gluz sounded like. after a few bits i was pleasantly surprised at how much i enjoyed it. so i pre-ordered the up-coming record "will to power" in the box-set edition. after that was done i searched discogs for the first record the band recorded with white-gluz. "eternal war" was released through century media in 2014. the label released a variety of colour vinyl back then and i thought it wouldn't be too hard to get one for a reasonable price.
i was shocked at the asking prices over at discogs. in case discogs is to be believed, the most limited gold vinyl version was once sold for one hundred euros... seriously? i mean, the record is pretty good but i don't see why it is so special that someone feels it is worth one hundred bucks and another one feels it is acceptable to unload one hundred bucks. anyway, even the silver version i have is now offered for round about sixty euros and at that point i didn't believe in owning a copy all too soon.
the next common source for second hand vinyl is ebay and just like the gods knew that i was chasing a copy, someone wanted to let go of his silver vinyl edition of "war eternal". the starting bid was twenty bucks and i wanted to bid in the last seconds. i did so an in the end i was the only one placing a bid. reasonable price if you ask me. musically this a fistful of melodic death metal right where it hurts. michael amott and the guys deliver the goods and alissa white-gluz impresses with an energetic performance. check out the album and hear for yourself. i am now really excited for the new record. 300 copies on silver vinyl. centuria media. 2014.

Mittwoch, 9. August 2017

summoner - phoenix

after i bought the latest summoner record "beyond the realm of light", i felt the urge to search what else might be available of this boston based stoner four-piece. they have three full lengths under their belt with "phoenix" from 2012 being the first and "atlantian" from 2013 being the second album. all have been released on magnetic eye records on multiple lovely looking vinyl colour-ways across three pressings each.
it speaks for itself that all of the coloured copies of those re-pressings are sold out, except a few copies from the latest re-press of "phoenix" from overseas (all that is heavy). in such cases i see what second hand markets has to offer. ebay and discogs are the main sources and while the bay didn't have any options, discogs saved my day. a seller from latvia came to my rescue with a very nice looking copy of the third press from 2015.
the album itself lacks a bit of the progressive feel that "beyond the realm of light" comes around the corner with. still "phoenix" is a very solid stoner metal album which doesn't have to hide behind the band's subsequent records. the presentation is more than solid. the artwork by alyssa maucere is stunning. the colour pattern chosen for this third press copy is almost as stunning. awesome cream and red split with grey splatter. a beauty. magnetic eye records. 2012/2015.

Montag, 7. August 2017

the acacia strain - gravebloom

sorry for the little lack of posts the last week but i was occupied with getting a ticket for this year's wacken festival and attending it eventually. but more of this at the given time. now back to daily business: the acacia strain's eigth full length called "gravebloom". the band is around since 2001 in one form or another. this means 2017 marks their fifteen year anniversary and a roughly average of one album every two years. remarkable if you ask me.
over the years the acacia strain witnessed multiple line-up changes with vocalist vincent bennett being the only steady member since its founding. somehow they managed to maintain their trademark sound. hefty death metal combined with nyc hardcore groove and arhythmic breakdowns. beginning with "wormwood" in 2010 they started to become more complex with a strong doom touch. "death is the only mortal" two years later was too much of a good thing for me. in 2014 and with another line-up change "coma witch" was a splendid return to form and combining the new doom elements with the crushing fierceness of "continent" from 2008.
now "gravebloom" worked with the same approach which made "coma witch" so good to me. the only difference is that "gravebloom" is simply better. this bad boy is so heavy, fast, intense, slow, dark, depressing, dissonant, angry, crushing - an abyssal trip through the dark centre of man. wow, i cannot praise this scorcher enough. you have to listen to this album in whole to live through all the ups and downs, the highs and lows "gravebloom" has on offer. a masterpiece in my eyes.
this is the third acacia strain album being released via rise records. they use to manufacture a high amount of vinyl copies for their releases. thankfully rise records presses some fancy colour-ways even for the least limited pressing which was available via german distros. i bought my copy from it comes on black inside clear with grey splatter vinyl. looks lovely. the artwork shows a common thread throughout the covers since "wormwood". again justin kamerer of angryblue was responsible for the great art. 3.000 copies made of my version. rise records. 2017.

Montag, 31. Juli 2017

iron maiden - brave new world

"brave new world" was first encounter with the probably biggest metal band in the world. more exact it was the video clip for "the wicker man" which i saw on some music tv channel back in 2000. back then i couldn't appreciate let alone enjoy the musical impact of this british heavy metal band. it simply was not cool enough, not heavy enough, not hardcore enough. a few years later in the mid 00's i borrowed the cd from a friend but only the cd without the booklet and such. i listened to the album a few times and started to like the stuff that came from this tiny plastic disc.
nevertheless i couldn't get into it as much to check out more of iron maiden. too much metalcore and deathcore got in the way. fast forward ten years and i bought my first maiden vinyl record. in the meantime i broadened my metal horizon and now i see why this band was so successful throughout the world, because they are just that good. "seventh son of a seventh son", "piece of mind" and "somewhere in time" found their way onto my shelf and when re-issues of the whole back catalogue of the maiden was announced, i was excited for "brave new world".
i still have the cd lying around and definitely wanted a vinyl copy. the rsd version from last didn't make it into any shop within my reach and the hmv version was an u.k. exclusive. second hand prices for those are a pain in the ass and so i was glad when parlophone records a.k.a. warner music group finally pressed an accessible version for the european market. i ordered with and my copy showed up in pristine condition.
the record has lost nothing of its powerful atmosphere over the last seventeen years. the comeback of bruce dickinson really pushed the rest of the band to new musical hights. the powerful "the wicker man", the epic title track, the oriental "the nomad" or the galloping "out of the silent planet" are just a few examples of an album that has no flaws. all this pressed on 180g double black vinyl, coming in a glossy sleeve of thick cardboard and printed dust sleeves. maybe i'll reach out for some more of those re-pressings. parlophone records. 2017.

Samstag, 29. Juli 2017

summoner - beyond the realm of light

some new stoner metal in my collection. summoner is a band from the boston area an is around since 2011 if information is correct. they already have three albums out but somehow they have managed to elude me for the better part. i think it was during some e-shop surfing through the kozmik artifactz store, when a nice cover art cought my attention. i was intrigued by this dreamy picture of a mountain landscape and it made me want to check them out. after i listened to the first tunes of the album on the summoner's bandcamp page, i was sold already.
"beyond the realm of light" is summoner's third record. chunky riffs, fuzzed out guitars and vocals that reminded me of baroness' singer john dyer baizly. all in all it feels like a mixture of elder and said baroness with a little doom edge added, a combination you can't go wrong with. so of course i needed a vinyl copy of this piece. i checked some options and found a german seller on discogs who offered a coloured copy for a real good price.
the album was, as all summoner records to this point, released by magnetic eye records from the united states. they did some nice colour versions with the coolest being an obi strip edition but i didn't want to go the extra mile and order from the states. my baby blue inside bronze copy looks lovely in its own right. actually colour inside colour patterns work best with the main colour being a clear one. in this case you have to hold the record against the light to see the full effect. great match with the all around great art work. magnetic eye records. 2017.

Mittwoch, 26. Juli 2017

sepultura - roots (box set edition)

the last sepultura album of the set is the last album the band recorded with max cavalera. after an dispute with the rest of the band (mainly kisser) concerning gloria bujnowski and her declining managing qualities in the cause of the death of her son and max cavalera's step son dana wells, max left sepultura in bitterness. a dispute that max and igor compromised over a decade afterwards and which is still lingering between the older cavalera brother and kisser. but what came before one of the most renowned feud in metal was an album that set sepultura on the metal throne in the mid nineties. "roots" shook the earth and i think i can say without any exaggeration that sepultura's sixth full length is their most famous one.
back then in 1996 i was just exploring heavy music with rammstein's "sehnsucht" album i got on cd for christmas. korn came afterwards and i think it was in 1998 when i found "roots" in our local library. they had a few metal related albums on cd in their stock. i remember that i borrowed biohazard's "mata leao" and said "roots" cd. back in the days i listened to my cd's way more intensive because i just had a handful of them. "roots" was on heavy rotation. as soon as nu metal faded from my daily playlists in the early 00's, sepultura also disappeared. i probably didn't listen to this record for at least ten years, so i was quite excited to drop the needle on it.
after the first run-through of this re-press i was pretty underwhelmed. somehow "roots" didn't age well for me. i think with their previous records now being part of my metal canon, i only see how this drastic change in style is the complete opposite of what i learned to love in all the preceding records. a few more spins didn't help to change my feelings. but regardless of personal taste this re-issue looks lovely. i thought the double lp re-press from roadrunner and cargo records from 2011 was the only vinyl pressing of "roots" but there was actually a first press from 1996. as usual with this box set, this re-press is a detailed replica. the vinyl colour is perfect in combination with the cover art. even though i repeat myself this box is a pleasure for eyes and ears alike. give me more of them rhino! 2017.