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Friday 11 January 2013

Reviews: Wintersun, Phillip H. Anselmo & Warbeast, Vanlade

Wintersun: Time I (Nuclear Blast)

Jari Maenpaa formed Wintersun in 2003 as a side project away from his band Ensiferum and swiftly released a debut album comprising of him on every instrument and vocals except for the drums which were handled by Kai Hahto. After being fired by Ensiferum he then spent his time with Wintersun, this second album has been in digestion since 2006 and is a concept album released in two parts. This is Time Part I with Part II due in 2013. Now a fully formed band Maenpaa handles vocals, guitars and keys with Hahto still on sticks and an extra guitarist and bassist. Despite the small four piece band the arrangements on this album are extremely complex which is evident from the Japanese influence on the instrumental intro track When Time Fades Away which is stirring, rousing and a fantastic start to the album that opens things up in fine style before the blast beats of second track Sons Of Winter And Stars kick things off properly, as the orchestra and choir kick in the track gathers pace before Maenpaa's black metal growl before a time change signals a change in vocals to a strong booming clean delivery becomes blended with the harsher vocals and brings to mind Warlord Nygard from Turisas. The instrumentation on just this track alone is phenomenal mixing death/black vocals, riffage and drums with the symphonic tendencies of Kamelot and some big keyboards thrown in. The track then breaks into an acoustic middle section that almost waltz's into the screams again. From this one track you can see exactly why this album has taken so long as it is the album that Turisas, Finntroll and Ensiferum would kill to make. This is set to be a genre classic but enough hyperbole back to the music, after the nearly 14 minute Sons Of Winter And Stars comes to a fittingly epic conclusion, next comes the eight minute Land Of Sorrow And Snow which starts with another slow building riff into a folky acoustic ballad before a gap with electronically folk of Darkness and Frost before the album comes to a fantastic end with the epic Time. This album is fantastic and was defiantly worth the wait, truly awesome. 10/10

Phillip H. Anselmo & Warbeast: War Of The Gargantuans (Housecore Records)

Down frontman Phillip Anselmo has always gone to the underground on his dalliances outside of his main bands, from the dark violent thrash of Superjoint Ritual to the hardcore punk of Arson Anthem this split album again goes to the underground with thrash band Warbeast providing a sneak peek at his soon to be released solo album. Two tracks come from Anselmo and his band the Illegals and two come from Texan thrashers Warbeast. The first track Conflict is an Anselmo solo track full of wall of sound breakneck riffage and some very heavy drumming with Anselmo giving his trademark no compromise vocals. Warbeast come next with old-school thrash noise in Birth Of A Psycho complete with tinny production and some souped-up shredding and some raw vocals from Bruce Corbitt give the band the sound of some early Kreator or even Slayer. Then it's Anselmo's turn again with another full on heavy track that does bode well for the solo album, there are elements of Pantera on Family 'Friends' And Associates as well as other influences from hardcore to grind and has Anselmo screaming, growling and roaring changing his vocal style throughout. Finally it's up to Warbeast to finish the EP and they do with the militaristic and solo filled IT which ends the album well. This a no compromise release from both artists and is a brief look at what to expect from them on their full lengths. 7/10

Vanlade: Iron Age (Stormspell Records)

Vanlade are a trad/power metal band from the Kansas USA and despite being a country not being normally known for this kind of metal (Manowar excluded) these Americans play fast furious and ferocious traditional metal full of speedy riffage and helium fuelled vocals. The band play songs about fantasy, history and very fast cars (on Screaming Metal Deathtrap) all of them seem extremely skilled in executing the traditional retro metal. Brett Scott's very good vocals have the hallmarks Halford and Eric Adams they bring a little bit of OTT silliness to proceedings but he is a good mimic having the low range snarl and the high range shriek of The Metal God and the voice of the Manowarriors. With tracks like the propulsive title track, Blood Eagle which shows off Nick Poffinbargers fleet fingered and the bouncy Life By The Blade the band play very well constructed if a little generic metal in the vein of Stormwarrior, Steelwing or Enforcer. This album does not relent with not a single slow track present but the version I have is apparently the un-mastered version which means that the drums of Cody Campbell can overpower things slightly but this little bit of harshness adds to the authentic classic metal feel. A very good, fun and possibly a little generic album from a young band full of potential (and of course hero worship) 7/10

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