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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Reviews: Within Temptation, Orchid, Sacred Gate

Within Temptation: The Q Music Sessions (Roadrunner)

A covers album from a symphonic metal band? Well that's what you get from Dutch band Within Temptation's new record recorded for Q Music radio in The Netherlands this is a selsction of tracks from various genres but mainly pop, all done in the style of the band. First is a cover of Bruno Mars' Grenade which has the big powerful hooks that WT are known for and sounds like a pulsating rocker that would be at home on their most recent album. As usual Sharon Del Adel's vocals are superb and the band add a metallic crunch to the more radio friendly tracks. The cover of Titanium is excellent and actually shows that David Guetta's writing sounds better with real instruments. The production varies as does the sound quality as these are cut from a radio show but that doesn't matter with some well chosen songs to cover, like the rocked up version of Lana Del Rey's Summertime Sadness which still maintains the orginals haunted vocal delivery but replacing the strings with some pulsing keys. Radioactive too is transformed into a euro-pop/metal anthem (the orginal is by Imagine Dragons) by the bands symphonic metal chug. Crazy (Gnarls Barkley) is now a restrained piano ballad. WT have made these songs their own with the lesser known tracks sounding like orginal compositions. They even do a good job with Behind Blue Eyes (much better than Limp Bizkit's version) turning it into a searing ballad full of remorse and a killer solo. This is a good stop gap album and won't be to everyone's taste but it's a good collection of well chosen covers. 7/10

Orchid: The Mouths Of Madness (Nuclear Blast)

Orchid are a Californian doom metal band and as such they sound like Black Sabbath, as well as Pentagram, Sleep and even the modern retro riffage of The Sword. But mainly Sabbath, this is blatant wholesale copying but if you are going to copy make sure you do so from the best. With down tuned fuzzed up riffage, voodoo drumming, some heavy bass and the pulsating synths of frontman Theo Mendell who has a gritty rock voice that works well with the retro styled heavy metal. The Sabbath influnces is at it's biggest on Marching Dogs Of War which has the reverbed vocals of Ozzy and some Iommi-like guitar and Geezer style bass riffage. Despite the Sabbath stealing Orchid also sound very American having a destinctly Californian sound coming with elements of surf rock as well as some hazy psych that comes straight from The Grateful Dead. This is a good album but it just doesn't seem to have the spark and the typically English love of the occult, as I have said the band sound a lot like Sabbath and if you like them (and if you don't I forbid you to read this blog!) then you'll like The Mouths Of Madness but just remember Iommi and co. still exist and they don't need to be replaced just yet. 7/10

Sacred Gate: Tides Of War (Metal On Metal Records)

"Spartan's What Is Your Profession!?" is the chant that reverberates around the festivals of England in the wee hours, it refers of course to the famous line from the film 300 which is set during the heroic battle between the Greeks and the Persians. Despite how annoying this chant can be it seems that Sacred Gate have taken as an influence and based Tides Of War around the legendary battle as well. However it may also be that this is a cool story to turn into an album and that two of the members are from Greece. The instrumental opening has all of the orchestral gusto of a historical epic soundtrack before the distinctly German Teutonic riffage kicks in on The Immortal One. Guitarist Nicko Nickolaidis riffs like a demon and pulls out some sweet solos too, he shows his prowess on the instrumental riffest of The Final March. He is ably backed by some strong percussion from drummer Christian Wolf and heavy rhythym from bassist Peter Beckers. Like I said this is a concept album so it follows a story meaning that lyrically it is very rigid to the story of the battle but musically the band sound like a lot like Iced Earth with their riff heavy delivery and the powerful Halford like vocals of frontman Jim Oliver (albeit without the Earth shattering screams). With tracks like the pulse quickening Gates Of Fire (which has some intensely melodic guitar lines), the power (metal) ballad Never To Return, the thrash ferocity of Spartan Killing Machine and the grand finale coming with the 12 minute  The Battle Of Thermopolyae which encompasses all of the hallmarks of the Iron Maiden epics. This is a great album if you are fan of real heavy metal so grab your Corinthian Helmet, strip naked and get ready to dine in hell! 8/10

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