Calico Jack – Panic In The Harbour

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If you are planning to take to the high seas in order to undertake devilish pursuits, a check list will include a sturdy vessel, lush beard, a potent weapon and of course a jolly roger. You might also need a suitable soundtrack too and that is what Italian metallers Calico Jack can offer in highly enjoyable fashion. Recently signed to the Ronin Agency and working on their debut album for a release later this year, we thought a retrospective look at their previous EP Panic In The Harbour was in order, especially as it is now getting another thrust into the broader world and inspires potent anticipation for the band’s first full-length.

Hailing from Milan, Calico Jack was formed in 2011 by brothers Toto (rhythm guitar) and Caps (drums), the pair taking the band name from Captain John Rackham’s nickname, a notorious English sea raider who sailed across the Caribbean Sea during the Golden Age of Piracy and famed for inventing the pirate flag, the Jolly Roger, and for having two notorious pirate women is his crew: Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Fusing classic eighties heavy metal with Scandinavian folk metal and creating exploits inspired by Anglo-Saxon sea shanties and folk songs, the band swiftly grew in personnel, releasing their first demo Scum of the Seas in 2012. Panic In The Harbour was unleashed a year later to great responses at home and around Europe. Now with fresh interest in release and band, and that impending full-length, the line-up of Toto, Caps, Giò (vocals), Melo (lead guitar), and Dave (violin), is ready to had a very potent year.

COVER - Front     As soon as opener Where Hath th’ Rum Gone? whips up attention with a lure of bow across strings you get a rich inkling of what is in store, and once thumping beats hit and riffs gallop with riotous devilment, the Calico Jack sound and its character is in full blaze. There is no escaping an Alestorm reference or of Running Wild but equally there is a healthy spice of a Korpiklaani in its revelry, a dirty Adam Ant essence within its colourful nature, and the punkier metal of Kvelertak to its roar. The grouchy guttural vocals bring the intimidation whilst swashbuckling exploits are driven by violin, hooks, and anthemic rhythms, not forgetting just as magnetic group shouts. The dark addictive tones of the bass also only add to the compelling adventure and though it is fair to say that there is a great familiarity to the band’s sound, equally it makes for a fresh and feisty proposition.

The opening enjoyable contagion of the ale sodden proposal is immediately matched by House of Jewelry. It makes a more imposing entrance, riffs and that increasingly captivating throaty bass colluding for a magnetic and aggressive coaxing. Vocals and the heavy drum swipes built a hostile environment but one coloured by the spicy flame of violin and the instinctive swagger and swing of the emerging encounter. Again you basically know what you are going to get but it does not stop the blend of classic and folk metal creating an infectiously captivating escapade for ears to devour and the imagination to eagerly run with.

Grog Jolly Grog is another drinking song you just instinctively raise your tankard to whilst rocking your body with the raucous sway and volatile attitude of the addictive festivity. It also brings a whiff of old school punk to its hooks and raw abrasive riffery, nothing dramatic but an appealing scent explored more in the closing Deadly Day in Bounty Bay. The final song is the most adventurous and inventive on the EP though that imagination is certainly beginning to show its flair and temptation towards the end of its predecessor.

     Deadly Day in Bounty Bay opens with lapping waves on a shore and a single tempting of guitar. The ever alluring bass soon adds its voice to the emerging narrative of raw riffs, salty violin seduction, and melodic winery. The start of the track has ears and imagination gripped but it is when it takes a breath and returns with a virulent bait of lively beats and contagion fuelled bassline that the incitement really comes alive. Everything from the gruff vocal delivery to coarse riffs, the jab of rhythms to teasing hooks has an irresistible infectiousness to them, one bred with a post/punk tenacity which is more Clash/ Damned bred than anything. In fact at times it is easy to suggest the song is the folk metal equivalent of The B52s’ Rock Lobster.

Ending with its best track but only thrilling ears from start to finish, Panic In The Harbour with its re-emergence to fresh attention is a recommended appetiser to the upcoming album from the band. If it can live up to the anticipation now inspired we will see, but we will bet no gold against it.

The Panic In The Harbour EP is available now from most online stores.

http://calicojacktheband.altervista.org/  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Calico-Jack/269653663086210

RingMaster 12/04/2015

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Hiidenhauta – Noitia on Minun Sukuni

 

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     As Noitia on Minun Sukuni, the debut album of Finnish black metallers Hiidenhauta menaces, toys, and seduces the imagination the overriding thought is that here we have a mouthwatering proposition with the potential to be a major force within the genre in the future. Brewing up an encounter best described as symphonic meets folk in a black metal landscape, though that only hints in many ways at the adventure sculpted, their first full-length is an unpredictable and enthralling eight track exploration of the senses. It is not without a few moments which are not as successful as others but from start to finish it captivates and stirs emotions to create one of the more refreshing and exciting blackened exploits to come along over past months.

    The band was formed in the early weeks of 2012 by vocalists Fornjotur and Riena. The pair soon enlisted keyboardist Gastjäle, bassist Ihtirieckos, and drummer Rostiof to explore and expand their inventive sound before guitarist Marras was added to complete the line-up that summer. With lyrics written in old Finnish kalevalametre and finding inspiration from nature, Baltic-Finnish mythology, anti-Christianity aspects, history, and darkness to create dramatic narratives to match the sounds, the band unveiled their first EP Surma saapuu suota myöten in the wintery beginning of 2013. Well-received it was followed a few months later by the Eikä aurinko valaise EP, again to strong responses. It drew the band to the attention of Inverse Records who now release the new record. The Satakunta sextet make a striking persuasion and presence on their to be widely released album, an initial full strike triggering what you can easily see as being a triumphant and long term journey ahead.

    The release opens with a scenic ambience but one soon soaked in a portent atmosphere and brewing intimidation. Keys bring hiidenhauta_cover_2400the first wave of drama within Tuhkasta with thick punchy rhythms in close attendance as the track expands its embrace and stretch. As soon as the carnivorous bass snarl aligned to caustic riffs stalks the senses alongside rapaciously delivered vocals squalls and the increased adrenaline of drums, the track becomes a contagious beast of a proposal. But then just as you take a tight grip ready to charge eagerly across the ravenous torrent the band rips the ground from the feet with the excellent temptress tones of Riena. The music instantly relaxes to caress her seductive voice but it is a brief respite as the track reasserts its predatory appetite and leaps voraciously at the listener once again. Acidic grooves and imagination infecting hooks incite with the richest toxicity whilst the twists and intrigue of the song simply satisfy every want of the imagination. It all makes for a stunning start and confirmation of a band on the rise.

   The following Raato opens with a gothic breath, mere seconds of House of Usher like mystery before uncaging another ravenous intent and intensity. The corrosive delivery of Fornjotur is a pungent vocal incitement for the incendiary rhythmic onslaught and tightly entwining grooves, whilst the sirenesque lures of Riena only accelerate the mesmeric danger rather than temper is suasion. Pestilential in attack and sonic predation, absorbing in breath and melodic enchantment, the song like its predecessor evolves before the ears without deviating for its almost insidious purpose, the enslaving of bodies and emotions.

    Tuo On Tuuli Nuolen Tuoja preys on the senses from its first slow sonic wrapping of guitar around the ears. It is not an open intimidation though as a reserved and potent hook teases from within the reined causticity. The track is a relatively brief instrumental which worms under the skin and across synapses setting up thoughts for the dangerous charms of Hiiden Virsi. Featuring Jonne Järvelä from Korpiklaani who provides a wonderful shamanic abrasing, the track is a simultaneously vitriolic and meditative intrusion. Almost like being lost in a self-induced altered state where all the light and dark hopes and fears flail at the senses in physical form, the track is a transfixing yet uncomfortable tempest. It gives the imagination and emotions a playground to exploit though the same can be said about the whole release to be fair.

   The classically bred keys of Gastjäle add a crystalline evocation to the bordering bedlamic Sumussa Soutava next. It is a track which bewitches and savages, once again creating a consumptive tapestry which never settles or leaves warning signs within its meandering soundscape. Though it does not stand up as impressively as the earlier songs it still leaves a rewarding bait to greedily devour, the dual vocals of bestial and beauteous depths especially thrilling. Its closing acoustic caress leads the listener into the eager ravenous jaws of Ruumisvedet, raw riffs and scowling vocals welcoming submission for its grizzly rock n roll majesty. An irresistible groove makes the first irrepressible trap, soon backed up by expressive keys and uncompromising rhythms. There is a devilish swagger and repetitive bait to the track which is wholly addictive but similarly the enchanted allurement of Riena and the melodic weaves which emerge without warning from within the brawling aggression, make a lingering temptation.

     The brilliant scourge ensures that the nine minute plus landscape of Kaartuvat is under pressure. It is a slightly overlong oppressive exposure for the senses, attention wavering at times, but it is still one which never leaves a moment redundant of enterprise and intrigue as it provides another aspect to the songwriting and stance of the band. It is followed by Sula Pohjaan Luut Levolle; an inspiring emotive piano crafted instrumental offering an epilogue if not to the album to the previous adventure.

    Hiidenhauta is a band with a powerful destiny ahead of them and using Noitia on Minun Sukuni as evidence, will be making fine and potent use of it.

https://www.facebook.com/Hiidenhauta

http://hiidenhauta.bandcamp.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 20/03/2014

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VallorcH – Neverfade

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    Neverfade is the debut album from seven strong Italian folk warriors VallorcH, a band which ignites the imagination and passions with their thrilling full-length landscape of muscular defiance and melodic festivities. It is not a release without a few issues but undoubtedly is one drenched in promise and most of all is a thoroughly enjoyable enterprise.

Formed in 2010 by guitarist Marco Munari, guitarist and provider of the vocal growls Matteo Patuelli, and drummer Massimo Benetazzo, VallorcH with the intent to merge death and traditional folk metal was soon expanded by the addition of Demetrio Rampin (bagpipes, whistles and accordion), Sara Tacchetto (vocals, bagpipes), Leonardo Dalla Via (scream and clean vocals, bass), and Francesco Salviato (violin) who before the album left the band to be replaced by Martina Mezzalira. May of last year saw the first release from the band in the well-received shape of the Stories of North EP consisting of five tracks, of which three are revisited on the album. That year also saw the band support the likes of Corvus Corax at Folk Festival in Piacenza swiftly followed by Fosch Fest in Bergamo where the septet opened for artists such as Trollfest, Negura Bunget, Kivimetsan Druidi and Folkstone. As September turned into view the band entered the studio to record Neverfade, with the opportunity to support Arkona on a date of their anniversary tour coming during the recording.

Released earlier this year by Moonlight Records, we always catch up eventually, Neverfade is a captivating encounter which leaves a book5mm_Pagina_01definite hunger and want for more from the band. It does not exactly set down new ventures and examples for folk metal but there is a vibrancy and adventure within the walls of the release and its songs that leave you seduced. It is not perfect by any means but offers plenty that more established and arguably eagerly received releases and artists have been lacking over the past couple of years. Researching for the review it is not hard to notice that a few are coming down hard on the band for coming from Italian and playing Celtic seeded music. As the album impresses it seems a truly trivial complaint, if something is skilled, openly accomplished, and created with passion, as well as sounding damn good as here, there really is no validity in that put down.

The album opens with the brief instrumental Night Fades…, an ok scene setting lead into the album and the excellent Voices Of North. Emerging from the sound of waves breaking upon shore, a guitar unveils a spiral of sonic temptation to heat up the air before being swiftly joined by eager rhythms, driving riffs, and melodic whispers. It is a steady canter straining at its leash to explode whilst being coaxed into greater intensity by the grizzled growls spraying malevolence across the air. It is the vocals of Tacchetto though which takes the lead, her tones instantly appealing if a little less controlled than they could be at times. With Patuelli stirring up the ear with his bear like animosity too it is a potent mix against the energetic melodic fire laying its narrative behind, accordion and whistles especially tantalising and the vocal harmonies later into the song simply delicious.

The very strong start is followed even more potently and impressively by Fialar which is led into view by the short burst of tempting revelry Join The Dance!, its seamless passing into the fourth track unnoticeable such their fluid kinship and union. A torrent of contagious rapacious riffing and rhythmic antagonism joins the party first, another dark and light merger of attention gripping craft, but soon shows restraint as Tacchetto with her finest moment on the album, begins her irresistible tale and delivery. The track switches musically and especially vocally throughout, the heavy scowls and nasty grunts breaking up the festival with the perfect shadows and intimidation. It is an outstanding and inventive song which steals the honours on the album with ease.

Both Endless Hunt and Sylvan Oath stand tall in their effort to match their predecessor, the first with a ravenous hunger to riffs and rhythms courted by entrancing melodic persuasion and all in the shadow of a compelling intensity whilst its successor is an inventive fury of heavy predacious menace. Neither manages to rival the previous song but both leave the appetite alive for more. The production of the second of the pair is not great either especially in regard to Tacchetto’s soprano soaring which is smothered into the background, as are other elements in the track.

The jovial and perky instrumental Störiele makes a refreshing aside for the album before Silence Oblivion steps forward to immediately impress with the excellent vocal union of Tacchetto and the clean tones of Dalla Via. It is a stunning mix which is not used enough on the album and hopefully will be explored more ahead, and as Patuelli riles the air also they make for an equally successful threesome before he dominates the prime attack from there on in, which does disappoints a little. The song is a commanding and provocative encounter which plays with brutality as much as it creates flames of melodic beauty. It is a great track which ebbs and flows a little in successful just missing out on classic status but when it works it is glorious.

Anguana and Leave A Whisper next make for satisfying companions, though both lack some of the spark and imagination to leave fires burning in the passions, whilst The End much like Silence Oblivion has as much to not get on with as it has to ignite ardour with. A marching rhythmic call to arms draws thoughts into its body with ease though the vocals of Tacchetto for once fail to hit the spot, her delivery at times flat and almost distant to the heart of the song. It is not a major problem though as musically the lure and hooks of the song, as well as its melodic toxin is virulent in its infectiousness and colourful persuasion, and the further it stomps into its length the track emerges as another of the bigger highlights on the album, especially its insidious hornet like stinging grooves.

With the more than decent …A New Light Rises completing the release, Neverfade is a richly pleasing album to revel and immerse within. Certainly not flawless as it shows that VallorcH has plenty of room to expand and explore within their creativity, the album is an exciting and appetising adventure to bring a fresh spark to folk metal and fans of the likes of Arkona, Finntroll, and Korpiklaani.

https://www.facebook.com/vallorch

8/10

RingMaster 06/09/2013

 

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Frost Giant: When Myth and History Merged into Mystery

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Though it has been out a few months digitally and now physically, When Myth and History Merged into Mystery the debut EP from Pennsylvanian rock band Frost Giant has only just surged to our attention and thank goodness it has as to miss something this good would have been a travesty. Forging a sound from a merger of Viking metal and nineties hardcore, yes you read that right, the release is simply sensational. It is wholly unique and works on every level for an encounter which is engaging and thrilling. It just ignites the heart and recruits the senses into a full and energetic compliance to its imaginative and insatiable storm.

Formed by vocalist/guitarist Matti Frost in late 2005, Frost Giant has been a solo and at times a full band project merging European folk metal with melodic hardcore and So-Cal infused punk rock.  It is a stunning sound which can be best described as Tyr and Korpiklaani in a drinking contest riot with Biohazard and Agnostic Front whilst the melodic cheers of Billy Talent and Lagwagon egg them on. It is an exciting and stirring mix which offers great diversity and originality and the EP which basks in it, easily one of the best releases this year.

Released through Blasphemour Records, the release finds Frost joined by guitarists Jonathan Smith and Scott Breustedt, bassist Jason Esbensen, and Rich Berends on drums, and consists of five slabs of muscular delight which take no time in lighting up the ear and beyond. First to barge through to the senses is My Life for Yours, a thumping weight of stretching sinews, barracking rhythms, and heated melodic grandeur. It is an instant lure for the passions, its classic rock groove veining intense energy and a predatory urgency hungry for a kill. The vocals are a contagious mix of clean and growling might with the often joint tones of Frost and Smith anthemic and harmonically glorious. The unrelenting charge of the song drops midway to bring an expansive wrap of intense and tempestuous atmosphere scorched with an epic guitar solo fire. Ending in the same drinking song style as it started and recalling the cold wastelands and warrior honour, the track is a titanic start to the release and equalled continually.

A Common Son opens with outstanding vocal harmonies before sending weaves of sonic invention and gentle melodic coaxing through the ear. It is a trick though, a wicked aural sleight of hand as soon the band explodes from another teasing melodic stroke into a brawling confrontation of hardcore vocals and surging flesh lashing power metal type riffs. That is not the end of it though as Frost Giant insert masterful and inciting melodic vocals and sirenesque sonic charms across the raging sky of the song. Not as infectious as the first it is still an impossible to resist bruising which leaves one breathless and wanting so much more.

The magnetic stirring rhythms of Heathen’s Lament are just one seductive lure of the song, its rampant and inventive presence a magnet for heart and mind. The consistent quality of the guitars with their barbed melodicism and mischievous manipulations hold the passions tight whilst being buffeted by raucous basslines and beats, the combination an irresistible taunt. Imagine Bad Religion and Ensiferum linking up and you get a whisper of the genius going on within song and EP.

The release is completed by the punk rock tempest Not While I Draw Breath and a cover of the Adele song Someone Like You. The first of the pair again is an insatiable pleasure which flays the senses whilst swamping them with rich rewards. It is like being serenaded whilst being dragged into the bedlam of a ravenous maelstrom, the harmonies and melodic enterprise soothing and offering safety against the scurrilous intensity and rampant hungry sounds. The closing track did bring a slight groan when reading the track list, a moan which turned into awe within mere seconds. The band turn the song into a skate punk treat with fiery muscles and snarling energies pulling essences from the likes of Danzig and especially Volbeat into the mix. It is an excellent end to a staggering release, simple as.

If you want something new and innovative out of your folk metal or melodic hardcore than Frost Giant and the When Myth and History Merged into Mystery EP is a must investigation which will leave you drooling at the mouth. This is one release no one should miss.

https://www.facebook.com/frostgiantkills

RingMaster 18/12/2012

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Krampus: Survival of the Fittest

2011 was the year Italian folk metalers Krampus announced their presence with two impressive and promising EPs, this year they have set themselves at the fore of the genre with their debut album Survival of the Fittest. Eight strong, the band has built on their early promise with a release which is refreshing and vibrant whilst being unafraid to be adventurous and eclectic without pushing itself outside the set walls of folk metal. It is a powerful and thoughtful album which growls like a bear at times and in others serenades like a burning sunset for a varied and absorbing adventure.

As mentioned the 2009 formed band first drew attention with the release of their debut EP Shadows of Our Times in March of last year. Alongside their shows it drew a strong view in their direction, but it was with the following Kronos’ Heritage EP that summer that the band really ignited the imagination and acclaim for their creative invention. With major festival appearances also under their belt this looks like the moment things truly accelerate for Krampus.

The album follows on from the earlier releases with the octet expanding and exploring their aggressive and melodic sound. The use of traditional instruments like flutes, whistles, violins, and the Irish Bouzouki is mesmeric whilst the driving powerful riffs and combative intensity enflames the appetite giving extra thrust to the forceful themes of humanity and social issues within the modern world. The opening Arise (The Day Of Reckoning) brings a gentle and shimmering intro to proceedings which builds with a fanfare of energy to annouce the first full track Beast Within. It starts off with a raucous eagerness and electro rampancy before lighting the sesnses with its folk weaponry. The vocals of frontman Filippo are grizzled and venomous, offering a riled spite across the near brutal assault. The melodic invention though tempers things to make for a bruising and compelling feast for the ear which is unsettling yet full of heated infection.

The following Unspoken continues the elevated energies whilst sending one onto the wrong foot initially with impressive but unexpected clean vocals from Filippo. This adds a surprising and different aspect to the sound and continues the Krampus skill of standing aside of most other bands without diminishing their core intent. Once the vocal mix of harsh and smooth settle within the ear it is an appealing and thrilling addition across the album.

Tracks like Rebirth with its Celtic breath and the frenetic Aftermath grab the senses for a full and enthused feast of melodic invention within a powerful intrusion. To be honest the songs and their structures are not experimental or remarkably different from othe bands, the likes of Korpiklaani and Amorphis to name two similarly armed, but there is something different and engaging to Krampus which is almost indefineable but certainly enchants and stirs the spirit more. The guitars rage with every atom they can muster whilst the keys consume and stimulate the senses with an irresistible and heated embrace. Combined with the insatiable rhythms and magnetic violin, whistles, and flutes etc, it only ignites the strongest fires.

The highlight of the album comes with The Dance Of Lies, a track which flirts wantonly with the ear whilst bullying the senses with spiteful bass lines and badgering rhythms. The heart of the song is melodic though and offers a feast of cute and inspired colourful flourishing sounds which only leave warmth and addition in their wake.

With furthersongs like Shadows Of Our Time and Tears Of Stone continuing to bring the fullest pleasure, the album is a dynamic slab of folk metal brought with imagination and invention. Krampus still feel like a band evolving which only inspires an even greater anticipation ahead for what the Italians will unleash, but right now Survival of the Fittest is a release bringing the beginning  of another dimension to folk metal.

http://www.krampusfolk.com/

RingMaster 27/08/2012

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Symon- Musica

This is not the easiest review ever attempted at The Ringmaster Review. Firstly the info behind the project Symon- Musica is hard to find and when found is in Belarusian/Russian and we all know what those online translators are like. Type in something related to the music and it will emerge in English as my fish fancies your sister with hairy feet. With a appreciated helping hand from Slava at Strong Music we can bring you some background to the release. First thing to say is that the album is simply magnificent, a slice of folk metal to leave the heart aflame and emotions flying.

The project and release Symon- Musica is a collaboration between symphonic black metal band Dialectic Soul (who I believe aforementioned Slava is a member) and vocalists from the folk ensemble Rechytskіya muzykі. The project finds its seeds back in 2003 as an idea from members of Dialectic Soul and with a song The Symon-Music appearing on a compilation Metallection III the following year. It seems the inspiration for the project comes from the poem “Symon-music” (1925) which was written by Jakubom Kolasom a literary giant said to have been the founder of Belorussian literature. The album was truly set in motion in 2010 when the members of Dialectic Soul, Slava Znakharenko (guitar), Alexander Kluchnikhov (Guitars, bass, drum programming), and Gala Kulitskay (keyboards) began working on the release. The trio brought in the vocalists of national folk ensemble Rechytskija of music, Victoria Bidovoj and Ilonoj Avramchikovoj as the project found its realisation and impressive results. The album received a limited edition release on Strong Music Productions in August 2011 but now has a wider release being sold through the likes of Napalm Records.

The most important piece of information regarding Symon- Musica is that it is simply outstanding, a festival of light and dark encapsulating the breath, passion, and tested emotions of the people, history, and land which spawn its creators. Opening track Сымон-музыка treats the ear to a jazz funk bass start as mesmeric and instinctive as you could ask for before the song spreads its expansive arms with stirring riffs, melodic keys and wonderful female voice and harmonies. The growling male vocals offer an excellent contrast and complimentary edge to the song matching the unrelenting rhythms and eager riffs. As the track swipes at the ear with gleeful mischief the female voices soar the skies in mesmeric splendour. It is an impressive start and folk metal at its best.

The following song Разважанне аб смерці raises the heat a little more as its surging veins of energy wrap fully around the ear with venomous black metal vocals. This is tempered by the warm melodic charms of the keys and female voices and against the blend of light and seemingly malice coated dark is impressive. These two songs alone would grab a favourable review whatever came next good or bad, especially with the teasing break within the second track playing like the lull before the returning storm of knee buckling invention and aggression.

With greater even pleasure the album reaches and achieves even greater heights with the next pair of irresistible pieces of magic in Родны край and Крыж няволі. The first offers a land of warmth and peace whilst the scowling vocals leap and bound across the song like a devilish sprite. It is the contagious hooks and melodic journey through the heart of the song which captivates the fullest to leave one intimidated but wanton in wanting to hear and feel much more. The second of the pair opens on an emotive pipe beckoning before erupting into a stunning treat of scorched melodic guitars. With the same power and magnificence of the essential riffs and stirring punk sound Skids conjured up in their prime, it is as irresistible as any siren.

These maybe the peak of the album but the rest of the songs take barely a glance back as the likes of the equally wonderful Вясна, the blazon imaginative Песня вольная, and Пушча with its rampant and dizzying aggression and untainted beauty, all ignite the deepest passions and brightest flames.

Sung in native tongue it is impossible to relay the lyrics but the heart and emotion within is unmissable. Symon- Musica is an album which will fire up fans of the likes of Arkona, Korpiklaani, and Midnattsol though it offers just as much for black metal and metal fans in general.  It is unreservedly impressive and thoroughly enjoyable, what more could you want.

Ringmaster 24/05/2012

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