EP review: Primal Age “A Silent Wound”

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By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Wake-up call: Primal Age’s French metallic hardcore goes well with your morning coffee.

The Slayer-loving French band Primal Age has been around for a while and released several albums and toured the world. Now they’re back with a great new EP on French independent label Deadlight Entertainment.

The four-track EP is furious and heavy but with some great grooves going on. Primal Age’s music is relentless. There are no breathing spaces, no coming up to the surface for air. It’s angry, it’s political, but more than anything it’s great, in-your-face music. Particularly the title track stands out as a fab song, but the whole EP is even with no dips. A four-track EP with no dips is so much better than a full-length studio album with a couple of filler songs. The EP finishes with “To Jeff…”, a good-fun Slayer medley as a tribute to the late Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman.

To put a label of any sort on a band’s music is often difficult and dangerous. Primal Age gives us quite an interesting mix of various forms of extreme metal and hardcore with some modern touches to it – a bit metalcore-ish. Is it metallic hardcore, or melodic metalcore or something else? I don’t know, I don’t care about the label. I like it and it goes great with my morning coffee as a wake-up call. I like this stuff.

Primal Age’s “A Silent Wound” EP will be released on 3rd March via Deadlight Entertainment.

www.facebook.com/primalage / www.facebook.com/deadlight.fr

Gig review: Dynazty finally rocked Tokyo

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

With five albums below their belt, Swedish melodic rockers Dynazty finally came to play for the band’s Japanese fans. And what a Japanese live debut it was.

When Swedish melodic metal band Dynazty brings its live show to Japan for the first time, we get an hour and a half of pure energy. The band has the talent, the songs and the stage presence to claim a place in the Japanese fans’ crowded metal hearts.

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

The band formed in Sweden nine years ago and the lads have released five studio albums to date. All the albums have been released in Japan which has helped in creating a loyal following for the band.

The band opens their first-ever gig in Japan with “Run Amok” and follows it with “The Northern End”. The “Titanic Mass Tour: Tokyo Showdown”, as the evening is billed, is built around songs from the band’s latest album, the eminent melodic metal album “Titanic Mass” from 2016 and its predecessor, 2014’s “Renatus”. This is no coincidence as the band’s sound has somewhat changed to become a bit heavier than the music on the first three albums. Dynazty is also a bit heavier live than on record. This evening we do, however, also get two favourite songs from the band’s 2009 debut album, “Bring the Thunder”, as well as a couple of other earlier songs. Dynazty’s music has echoes of other bands here and there, including Europe, H.E.A.T. and even, at times, HammerFall. But they have used these and other influences to make their own signature sound.

The evening’s show reminds me quite a lot of the gig that H.E.A.T. performed at the same venue in 2015. Dynazty not only shares the same Japanese record label with H.E.A.T., they also share much of the same audience here in Japan. The Japanese fans have always liked the combination of melodic and heavy music that so many Swedish acts offer.

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

They finish a great evening of melodic metal – call it power metal, melodic hard rock or something else – by playing the fabulous “Starlight” as an encore.

Jonathan Olsson of Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

Jonathan Olsson of Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

The band members are all skilled and tight, with bassist Jonathan Olsson sticking out as the most talented of the bunch. Vocalist Nils Molin, an obvious centre of attention, personifies a fabulous mix of a young Joey Tempest of Europe and Sebastian Bach of Skid Row at his best.

Dynazty – Tsutaya O-West, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan – 15th February 2017 – set list

  • Run Amok
  • The Northern End
  • Raise Your Hands
  • Roar of the Underdog
  • Free Man’s Anthem
  • This Is My :Life (Anna Bergendahl cover)
  • Lights Out in Candyland
  • Bring the Thunder
  • Drum solo
  • The Beast Inside
  • Incarnation
  • Salvation
  • Guitar solo
  • The Human Paradox
  • Titanic Mass
  • Starlight

www.dynazty.com / www.facebook.com/dynaztyband

EP review: Heavy Temple “Chassit” | Groovy and doomy stoner rock

heavy-templeBy Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Heavy Temple invites us on a groovy rock ride away from Philadelphia.

Heavy Temple has a doom label plastered on them, and sure, this is rather doomy. But it is also quite stoner rock-ish with psychedelic parts to it. This is more distorted stoner rock than doom metal. Call it doom rock, stoner doom or whatever you want, it’s good music. There is clearly some kind of trip going on here, but it is more about music than substances. I think that more people than me will want to get on this magical carpet ride together with Heavy Temple to some far away musical soundscape. There is a foundation of sorts in blues rock here and plenty of fantastic distortion. The four tracks on the album shoot off in different directions, largely as a result of what sounds like uncontrolled jam sessions. Bloody gorgeous.

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The band formed in 2012 by High Priestess Nighthawk on bass and vocals. Its current line-up features drummer Siren Tempestas and Archbishop Barghest on guitar. With “Chassit” this Philadelphia band has created a great soundtrack for the Roppongi Rocks headquarters and probably for your after parties too. The EP grooves along nicely throughout its less than half-hour length. The length of the EP is no coincidence. Great music should finish before the listener gets bored. It should leave you wanting more. That is very much the case here.

The band’s music seems to be created and delivered so effortlessly, as if the band members were born to play this music. That is all probably rubbish, as I am sure that these musicians practice their craft like crazy in some rehearsal studio. But the end result is fabulously fuzzy yet natural. They are jamming away like it’s nobody’s business. “Chassit” feels and sounds like someone has cross-bred Glenn Hughes’ Trapeze with Candlemass via Electric Boys and Monster Magnet. Sort of. As if Jon Lord were a guitarist. Love it. Great stuff. I want more.

Heavy Temple’s “Chassit” is out now via Van Records/Tridroid Records.

www.facebook.com/heavytemple

www.facebook.com/tridroidrecords

BREAKING NEWS: Jake E officially leaves Amaranthe

Jake E on stage in Tokyo with Amaranthe in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E has decided to leave Amaranthe, the very successful melodic metal band he co-founded. “I am stepping off the Amaranthe tour bus and will go on to do new things”, says Jake in a comment to Roppongi Rocks.

Jake E and Elize Ryd on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Since 2011, Amaranthe has released four studio albums and relentlessly toured the world. Following Amaranthe’s Japan tour with Helloween in September last year, Jake E, one of the band’s three vocalists, has taken time out from the band. Smash Into PiecesChris Adam has been standing in for him during Amaranthe’s gigs in the past few months.

Jake E in Tokyo in 2014. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E in Tokyo in 2014. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

“I’ve had some fantastic seven years with Amaranthe. We have achieved success far beyond what I expected when we formed the band. I am very proud of what we have achieved with Amaranthe: creatively and commercially, in the studio and on stage in front of our great fans. Now I am stepping off the Amaranthe tour bus and will go on to do new things. I am involved with plenty of great things, both in the music space and in other creative areas,” comments Jake E exclusively to Roppongi Rocks.

Jake E has earlier announced that he will perform on stage in Sweden in March with his old band Dreamland. Recently he has spent time hosting a radio show, working on film projects and produced the debut album by Finnish band Ember Falls. Among other things. No doubt we will hear more from the multi-talented Jake E in the near future.

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2013. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2013. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

www.facebook.com/jakeeofficial

www.facebook.com/amarantheband

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Album review: Dead Kosmonaut “Expect Nothing” | Solid hard rock from Sweden

Johan Langqvist, Pelle Gustafsson and Mattias Reinholdsson. Photo: Soile Siirtola

Johan Langqvist, Pelle Gustafsson and Mattias Reinholdsson. Photo: Soile Siirtola

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Solid hard rock debut album by Sweden’s Dead Kosmonaut, featuring current and former members of Candlemass, Unleashed and Firespawn.

“Expect Nothing” is quite a varied hard rock album shooting off in different directions. Dead Kosmonaut is a band which combines deep roots in 70s hard rock like Black Sabbath with melodic storytelling. The tempo on most of the album is on the slow side, in a doom-tastic kind of way.

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“Grimeton” is a glorious instrumental 70s prog rock song while “Craving Mad” is fantastic progressive rock with some doom influences. “Dead Men Walking” is another of the album’s finest songs. “Concrete Sky” sounds somewhat more modern with a big atmospheric, almost hypnotic, soundscape pierced by some fine guitar work.

Mattias Reinholdsson is Dead Kosmonaut’s mainman. He is the sole songwriter and the band’s bassist. The band also features Fredrik Folkare (Unleashed, Firespawn) on guitar and production duties and Pelle Gustafsson on vocals. The closing track, “Grey Hole”, is one of the album’s strongest. It is a song that keeps building up momentum and plenty of feeling throughout its seven minutes and forty seconds. The track also features none other than Johan Langqvist on vocals. He is most famous for having been the lead vocalist on doom masters Candlemass’ legendary debut album “Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus” in 1986.

Overall this is a great, grown-up rock album. It’s doomy, mostly slow-paced, but not so gloomy and more melodic in nature. “My ambition has been to make a hard rock album the way they used to be,” Reinholdsson tells us with a reference to how some hard rock music has evolved into ever harder and heavier sounds. Dead Kosmonaut is more about dynamic rock music with melodies. Electric guitars, yes of course, but also acoustic instruments (as can be experienced in the instrumentation on the terrific track “House of Lead”). This is craftsmanship by someone who won’t compromise his music in order to fit in with certain trends.

Dead Kosmonaut’s “Expect Nothing” will be released on 24th March via TPL Records and digitally distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia.

Dead Kosmonaut on Facebook

Album review: Deserted Fear “Dead Shores Rising” | Quality German death metal

deserted_fear_2016_bandpic__1By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Quality modern death metal on Deserted Fear’s new album “Dead Shores Rising”.

Having debuted with “My Empire” in 2012, “Dead Shores Rising” is Deserted Fear’s third studio album. The German death metal plays hard, heavy, fast and at times quite technical death metal. But most of all, this is great death metal.

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The band is made up of Manuel Glatter on vocals and guitar, Fabian Hildebrandt on guitar and Simon Mengs on drums. They have based their sound on old-school death metal but then added their own touches to make this a contemporary affair. The result is rather stunning with runaway guitars and hard-beating drums. This is a quality album all the way. There is so much great craftsmanship packed into this album, I am sitting here smiling and (gently) headbanging away while playing some air guitar at the same time.

“Towards Humanity” is the album’s standout track for me. Great melodies with some fine guitar work. That  Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale) has been involved in the production doesn’t surprise me. There are certainly some reminders here of other Swanö productions, not least Witherscape.

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Throughout listening to the album I am debating with myself on how much, if at all, this is similar to At the Gates. I keep changing my mind back and forth. As “The Path of Sorrow”, one of two bonus tracks on some editions of the album, comes into my head it becomes obvious, not least because it has none other than At the Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg on guest vocals. On this song with Lindberg’s vocals it becomes very obvious how closely related Deserted Fear and At the Gates are musically. They’re not the same, but they’re from the same bloodline. These are the German cousins of the Gothenburg Sound heroes. A brother from another mother. And that is not a bad thing at all. Terrific music.

Deserted Fear’s “Dead Shores Rising” is out now via Century Media.

www.desertedfear.de / www.facebook.com/desertedfear

Album review: Horisont “About Time” | Fresh-sounding 70s rock on an album that’s a future classic

press_photos_04By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Gothenburg rockers Horisont take us back in time with a fantastic and fresh-sounding 70s rock-tinged fifth album.

The lyrics on Horisont‘s new album “About Time” are centred around time travel. Not only the lyrics take us back in time, but the whole package of music, sound, lyrics and the overall look all seem to take us back four decades while still sounding relevant.

Horisont was formed in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2006. On “About Time”, the band’s fifth full-length album, the sound is firmly based in classic 70s rock. There are some great echoes of Uriah Heep here. It’s rock music with some bluesy and progressive influences. In some songs, such as “Night Line”, there are hints of Status Quo. There are also bits and pieces on the album that smell of my all-time favourite band, Nazareth, as well as pinches of Fleetwood Mac and some great Thin Lizzy-touches as well.

But more than anything this is Horisont. Over the past decade they have worked hard and have arrived at a signature Horisont sound, while still managing to keep their songs quite varied and cover a wide musical range. These Gothenburg men are talented craftsmen. With “About Time” they have created an album that will be a future classic. It’s that good.

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“Electrical” is terrific, perhaps the album’s best track. Although it is hard to single out one track on such a solid and even ten-track album. The title track, the psych rocky “About Time”, is another immediate favourite. “Letare”, with its Swedish lyrics, stands out as it is a bit different from the rest of the album which is dominated by more British-sounding 70s rock sung in English. “Hungry Love” is also a bit out there, some kind of fusion of brilliant Moog-heavy 70s space rock and classic guitar rock.

The band has great songs and a sound that shows no sign of anything post-1977, while still managing to sound fresh. What’s there not to love about Horisont? Some people like to label Horisont as retro rock, but this is much more than that. This is not nostalgic music by some band trying to recreate what their heroes did back in the days. Horisont is different. They’re vibrant, they’re relevant, they’re bloody good. If you compare this to a band such as The Darkness, it is obvious that where The Darkness is tongue-in-cheek in a Slade-like way, Horisont is a more serious band. This is for real. They’re clearly having fun while creating and performing their music, but there is none of the crazy mischief of The Darkness in Horisont’s music.

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While the members of Horisont play music inspired by British 70s rock, they are no mere copycats. They bring their own talents to the table and deliver their own take on what classic rock should sound like. I love this band. If you’ve got a good taste in quality music, you should too. It will no doubt be one of the best albums of 2017.

Horisont’s “About Time” album will be released by Century Media on 3rd February.

www.facebook.com/horisontmusic

www.horisontmusic.com