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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Diabula Rasa – Ars Medioheavy

DIABULA-RASA

The name may be new to most but such the impressive voice and mighty of their album Ars Medioheavy, it is hard to imagine Italian folk metallers Diabula Rasa will be a secret for much longer. The ten track release is stunning; a scintillating multi-flavoured expanse of traditional and modern essences honed into an encounter which lights up the senses and leaves an eagerly potent depth of pleasure in its creative wake. The album is the best the genre has offered over the past year and it will take something special to replace its status across the rest of 2013.

Formed in 2000 as Tabula Rasa by Luca Veroli (guitarist, vocalist, bagpipe, songwriter/producer), the Lugo based band played traditional folk music which took its ideas and heart from medieval and traditional music. Their debut album, the acoustically instrumental Techno Gothica was released in 2005 before the band two years later changed its name to Diabula Rasa and re-invented its sound. Still seeded by their medieval and traditional experimentation the sextet brought in stirring metal elements as they continued to look to revive ancient music through instruments and sound seeded in the time whilst blending it with the presence of more modern ones. 2010 saw their second and self-titled album containing versions of tracks from their debut re-invented with the new metal intent released. It set the band to the fore of folk metal in their homeland which Ars Medioheavy will surely replicate across the world given the opportunity. Out on Moonlight Records, it is an irresistible instigator to fun, adventure, and expertly crafted excellence, sounds with a nostalgic breath from before our time and the energy and aggression of today.

The album has the passions secured by the opening instrumental Ghirondo alone, the vocal sweeps of harmonies which open up a1458153037_2song and senses simply delicious whilst the compelling bass lure of Samantha Bevoni skirted by the teasing touch of keys from Daniela Taglioni fire up intrigue and temptation another clutch of degrees. With the beats and concussive percussion of Moreno Boscherini adding a firm and appealing frame for the stringed skills of Stefano Clo and Sonia Nardelli to invigorate the already persuasive call with their melodic flames, submission to its lure is complete and cemented beyond doubt with the dance of traditional sounds and instruments making the final seduction.

Tsanich takes its lead from the incredible introduction, feeding off of its stance to raise bars and temperature to new raging pinnacles of invention and craft. A stirring and eagerly pressing charge of riffs locked in the arms of atmospheric keys lay out a potent temptation before the striking female vocals of either Taglioni or Bevoni, both contributing vocals upon the album but without any indication whose voice is whose, stand astride the sounds with teasing adventure and expressive quality. The excellent grouchy growls of Veroli add their additional roar behind the lead call before both girls combine for another warm caress of harmonies. With a chorus as anthemic and infectious as the body of the track, and the Italian delivered lyrics easy to join in with at that moment, the song has a swagger and mischief that is irresistible and a poise that takes it elegantly through the ear to energise thoughts and emotions, let alone limbs and voice.

The track gives the following songs a tall order to replicate with its stunning presence but both Cataclism and Congaudentes make light work of the challenge, the first flexing formidable sinews around another sun of vocal glory and evolving into a blaze of evocative aural expression and descriptive melodic colour whilst its successor is a boisterous and captivating play of metallic endeavour and folk festivity. The male and female vocals are scintillating within the walls of earnest keys and around the carousel of seductive strings, acoustic and electric, whilst the latter sirenesque call of the female vocal swoons is heavenly in its touch and presence. It is another feast of imagination and skilled craft which only lights further lustful ardour.

Through the passion exploiting heights of Madre de Deus, with its opening celestial wash of strings and soaring vocals a virulent temptress and evolving rapacious metal seeded hunger, the ambrosial Astarte, and the mouthwatering In Taberna, the album stirs up every corner of the senses and appetite whilst the glorious Vermell is manna from the melodic gods complete with expressive shadows, emotive atmospheres, and ravishing vocal beauty sending extra tingles down the spine of passion.

Stepping out clad in medieval suasion the sensational Maledicantur takes the listener back to simpler but openly energetic and passionate times with again a chorus which is impossibly contagious and enchanting in its simplicity. It is an exhilarative escapade to leave the listener on a high for the closing Ahi Amour and its emotional spellbinding and smouldering red skied sunset. It is an engrossing conclusion to an ingenious triumph from Diabula Rasa. Ars Medioheavy is an album which will feed all your needs and desires in a folk metal release and then some, an offering all should and will embrace with greed.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/DIABULA-RASA/240832555948820

10/10

RingMaster 07/06/2013

 

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Artaius – Fifth Season

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Merging an enterprising and imaginative mix of metal, folk, progressive rock, and various other mischievous flavours, Fifth Season the debut album from Italian band Artaius is a release which dances with the ear and stokes up the passions to the recognition that this band is an awakening force. Across its absorbing length it would be fair to say that the sound is seeded and bred in recognisable organic beds but throughout Artaius involve intriguing and unexpected twists as well as invention to set them apart from most now and as an appetising prospect of the future.

Formed in early 2008, the sextet from Sassuolo have forged an impressive in their homeland with their previous a self-produced EP and live performances which has seen them leave strong impressions alongside the likes of Furor Gallico, Kalevala, and Diabula Rasa. There is a strong Celtic breath to the folk part of their sound whilst progressive whispers call loudly throughout the weave of melodic beauty and muscular energy with metal forged riffs and rhythms adding their rage and driving attack from an opposite extreme. The striking and inspiring vocals of Sara Cucciniello wrap around the senses with warmth and elegance, though equally she can sear and elevate notes with beauty and strength upon the compelling narrative, whilst the phlegm caked growls of guitarist Andrea La Torre bring textured shadows and malevolence to the welcoming landscapes to match the music in merging extremes. His vocals do take time to grow into and at times are a limit too far and detract from the otherwise rich persuasion but never to leave a song or moment distinctly unappealing.

The Moonlight Records released album opens up a brewing emotive ambience as Make the Iguana gentle enters into view. It Artaius-TheFithSeason500_zps1e0739f9initial beckoning an atmosphere mist where from within bold beats from Alessandro Ludwig Agati begin to build a frame for the mesmeric whistle tempting of Mia Spattini to wrap around, both soon joined by the resonating throat of the bass of Enrico Bertoni. Once Cucciniello unveils her vocal beauty the song lifts its head further to stretch melodic smiles and temptation to new heights, though it is when the track fully slips into its eager stride and the guitar of La Torre, as well as his growls add their predatory touch that the full union seduces emotions and limbs. Continually switches its gait from gentle and inviting to charged and infectious whilst the folk and progressive wash led by the excellent and fizzing key sounds of Giovanni Grandi hones all its aural colour into a compelling narrative, the song is an absorbing and deeply pleasing start immediately continued by the next treats.

Gates of Time has sinews stretching and fires blazing from the off, riffs prowling around the ear whilst the low growls of La Torre add their own distinct menace. A magnetic groove spears the challenge, its lure twisting into a niggling yet magnetic hook with the soaring vocals of Cucciniello looking down as they touch the roof of the song and leaving scorch marks on its surface. The track swoops back into the heavy energetic crawl again but then opens up a bloom of expressive melodic revelry which is quite irresistible and has feet shuffling intently along to its call. Continually mixing up its stance and adventure as it brings the harsh and beauty of the scenario into a descriptive sonic tale, the track leaves a smile on the passions before making way for the outstanding Over the Edge to ignite ardour.

This track takes a mere second to pick up the senses and thoughts and expose them to a romp of bold frivolity and passionate merriment, the violin of guest Lucio Stefani taking charge of the virile waltz whilst group shouts and enthusiasm powers alongside the again exceptional voice of Cucciniello. The track has full recruitment of limbs, heart, and lust within mere moments but ignites that to furnace proportions by stepping into a piano sculpted jazz fuelled aside of schizophrenic enterprise. Totally unexpected and wholly devoured with greed by the ear and beyond the song soon drives back into its core attack as if nothing happened, before again flirting with the bedlamic fascination for a more intensive devilment. The track is quite brilliant and you can only wish other songs had taken their bravery of adventure as far to turn the album into a real classic.

The progressive tempest of Horizon keeps things burning brightly though the vocals of La Torre arguably have one of their less inspiring moments compensated by the keys and dramatically confrontational riffs whilst both Stairway’s End and the hungry Prophecy offer more variation and satisfaction, even if without lighting the depth of fires as their predecessors. The second part of the album does slip from the plateau earlier founded but equally there is never a moment through the likes of La Vergine e il Lupo, Wind of Quest, and Wind of Wisdom that the temptation waivers and in songs like Wind of Revenge further blazes of drama coated magnificence erupt, the song complete with a virulently addictive groove and melodic toxicity an uncompromising yet rapacious slice of folk metal.

      Fifth Season is a strongly pleasing album which has moments of insatiable splendour leaving its recipient breathless. Artaius have delivered an impressive debut album which only makes you think the band will go on to greater and more startling things, and stake a claim as one of the more imaginative and exciting bands in the genre.

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8.5/10

RingMaster 07/06/2013

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Shinin’ Shade – Sat-urn

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Taking the listener on an evocative and intensive journey of heavy lumbering riffs, bulging rhythmic resonance, and a fire of melodic rock ridden by quite compelling vocals, Sat-urn the new album from Italian band Shinin’ Shade is a masterful triumph which thrusts the band into a certain spotlight. Creating a riveting fusion of progressive and stoner rock with the dark shadowed intensity of doom and searing psychedelic blazes, the release even without the band yet arguably finding their true unique voice, offers a classy irresistible persuasion which cannot be dismissed. The seven track beast leaves the listener exhausted, enthralled, and most of all richly satisfied with the thrilling offerings laid before the ear.

Formed in 2005 by Allen Kramer (guitar, mellotron) and Roger Davis (bass), the Parma based band first made a mark with their self-titled demo in 2009 which was followed immediately by Mike De Chirico replacing the departing original drummer to join the pair and Mek Jefrey (guitar, vocals).  The following year saw Shinin’ Shade release their debut also self-titled album via Italian label Moonlight Records like the demo and subsequent releases, to strong responses. Then in 2011 vocalist Jane Esther-Collins joined the band and as their Slowmosheen EP showed upon release in in January 2012, the band found it’s most potent and formidable presence. Draped in strong acclaim the release was backed up by impressive performances across festivals and shows in Italy and Europe. The new album SatUrn is their most accomplished release to date, a powerful and imagination capturing journey alongside a burial procession through dark and desolated landscapes into the deep, sacred desert of Wiriguta.

The adventure starts with Our Time And Space, thick plunging bass grabs spearing lumbering fiery riffs and concussive rhythms 554097183-1before the track elevates all aspects into a sweltering furnace of sonic declaration. There is heavy treacle like ambience soaking the breath of the song with guitars and bass crawling intensely over the senses whilst the cracks of drum maliciousness attach themselves to bone and emotions. Once the wonderful vocals of Esther-Collins walk all over the encounter with pure majesty the track rises to a pinnacle which instantly sparks up a form of hungry rapture. Brewing a blend of beauty and intimidation with her stunning voice and delivery, her presence has the strength to bring the best out of song, sounds, and the passions in the same way that Jess does for Jess and the Ancient Ones, the songs impressive pieces of craft but the vocals turning them into a different terrific experiences. The track itself almost stalks thoughts and feelings, its evolving gait and intent unveiling dark corners and invasive shadows within perpetually changing aural scenery.

From the scintillating start the release ventures through Keyhole/Inner Saturn and Over-Sea Nightmares, two tracks which bring stunning ports of call in the overall emotive trek of the album, the first a track enriched with stoner grooves and seductive melodic temptation within a rapaciously encroaching atmosphere and labouring enveloping energy, the seamlessly almost toxic move from energetic flames to white hot smouldering sonic malcontent as impressive as it is corrosively invigorating. The second of the pair immediately slaps Sabbath like riffs to the ear before the guitars fire up another contagious dance of sonic alchemy and melodic acidity for a continued expressive satisfaction to the extensively pleasing release.

The following Through the Wires of Your Mind initially sways in front of the listener with a fascination of progressive/psychedelic elegance wrapped in an almost wanton invitation before stretching it into an exotic flame of delicious temptation further expanded into a part caustic part golden allurement energetic wash. As with all the tracks there is no obvious prime direction, the song moving through numerous avenues of light and dark as well as emotive climaxes which is as compelling as the sounds sculpting their narration.

Before coming to the end of its quest, Sat-urn unleashes more impressive and creative enterprise with the excellent Nowhere Dimension and closing song Epic Talk but sandwiched within them both is the best song on the album. Denied Lovers has a carnivorous voice and texture to the drums and bass especially, which incites the predatory instinct of the guitars as they expose the senses to a scorching fire of sonic consumption. Within the tempest though Esther-Collins tempers the heat with her exceptional voice, its forceful and harmonic fusion demanding its own slice of the passions and thoughts to steer alongside inventive guitar craft a thoroughly entrancing victory.

Though the release shows that Shinin’ Shade is still in the process of developing its own unique voice, and it is not that far away on the evidence of the album, Sat-urn sets the band up as one of the brightest beacons in the rapidly expanding genre of doom/progressive rock. With elements fans of the likes of Blood Ceremony, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Pentagram, and Electric Wizard to name a few, will devour this band is set to rise to a very potent destiny for them and us.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/SHININ-SHADE/169113931530

9/10

RingMaster 11/05/2013

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Ulvedharr – Swords of Midgard

Ulvedharr

Constantly snarling at the ear, the debut album from Italian metallers Ulvedharr leaves a wealth of satisfaction in its wake as powerful and invigorated as the thrash/death metal fusion which inspires it. Charged with the blood of Vikings surging through its muscular insatiable veins, Swords of Midgard is an uncompromising and raw slab of brute force which ignites the rampage in all of us. Certainly the nine track release is not breaking into new battlefields of invention but it lays waste to those established with contagious confrontation ripe with captivating aggression.

Founded in February 2011, the Clusone band was initially intended as a solo project by vocalist/guitarist Ark Nattlig Ulv, but as songs were written he pulled in other musicians to bring them to life, Ulvedharr ultimately being completed by lead guitarist Fredreyk, bassist Klod, and drummer Mike Bald in line-up. Their first EP Viking Tid followed as well as a European tour with Blood Red Throne and Cattle Decapitation the next year, with the quartet expanding their growing recognition at home and further afield. The signing up with Moonlight Records for their impressive and antagonistic debut album has given them a platform build from which they have seized hungrily.

The album’s intro sets the scene, its sinews flexing as crisp bone splintering rhythms, a carnivorous bass growl, and prowling riffs badger the ear until tender and prime for the taking by the following Lindisfarne. The track instantly segregates the senses from safety with intensive riffing, exhausting energy, and a barrage of drum forged abuse which is skilled and hungry. Into its rapacious stride the band opens its muscular intent wide for the corrosive tones of Ark to scowl and bend the will of the listener with a brutal but compelling vocal delivery; imagined Viking facial hair and vindictive malice enclosing every brutalised and captivating syllable. The impressive start instantly brings thought s of bands such as Entombed, Blood Red Throne, Obituary, and UK’s Saqqara, its rampaging perfectly crafted assault as irresistible as it is knee buckling.

The following Odin Father Never Die and War is in the Eyes of Berserker continue the immense start with equalling ferocity and appeal, the first thrusting riff sculpted grooves in to the heart of the already fully brewed urgent appetite for the release whilst savaging the ear with further addiction drawing rhythmic abuse from Bald. His framing alongside the bass and guitar manipulation of primal bred notes and chords combines for a test which is uncomplicated but wholly effective. The second of the pair slips a delicious almost stoner seeded groove into the initial invitation, the chugging riffs stalking its presence before thrusting it aside for another tremendous thrash forged impressive slaughter. The unbridled attack now at large is not without mercy though and midway into the song it steps aside for a glorious sonic fire of melodic seduction from Fredreyk to recruit the last ounce of submission from the passions. As mentioned already there is nothing new on the loose here or across the album but as it feeds the ear for the umpteenth time whilst writing this piece, it is hard to offer any similarly gaited release as one which is as rewarding or exciting as Swords of Midgard.

Onward To Valhalla stands as the next pinnacle upon the release, arguably its finest moment, the anthemic lure of the chorus and its mass demanding harmonies a thrilling crescendo to a constantly building intensity carved by the persistent riffs, gravel expelling vocals, and as is the norm a rhythmic attack which leaves bruising with every bitch slap and barbed percussive swipe.

There is for personal tastes a slight lull to the might and stance of the album across both Beowulf & Grendel (Part I) and Ymir Song, and though neither track lacks quality or skilled persuasion, they do not light the fires inside as dramatically as their predecessors. The first of the pair features a guest appearance from Lorenzo Marchesi (Folkestone) and is riddled with infectious grooves and melodic beckoning within the skeleton of steel forged rhythms and greedy riffing whilst the second brings a more melodic tenderness to its still eye to eye metal encounter and compelling drive, with the glorious vocals of Lisy Stefanoni (Evenoire) bringing a rich potency to the climax of the song alongside the folk metal march and the scarring scowls of Ark. As stated both tracks are strong and more than decent but sandwiched between what came before and their successor the excellent The Raven’s Flag, they lack a dramatic punch.

The Raven’s Flag gnaws on the bones of the listener, its anthem enriched breath and provocative confrontation joined by a blistering drum testing and a rabid fury of persistent riffing. The band equally seduce with the melodic and sonic fascination which veins the barbarous encounter whilst its closing run through to the finale of the album is wonderfully barbaric tenderising the listener for the sneering riff fest of Harald Harfagri, a track leaving a final uproar with its outstanding group vocals, with those of Ark singularly at their most diverse and impressive, and an unrelenting chewing of the senses.

Swords of Midgard may not bring new realms to conquer but is one familiar battle which could not be more enjoyable and rewarding.

https://www.facebook.com/Ulvedharr

9/10

RingMaster 11/05/2013

 

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