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Thursday 17 September 2015

Reviews: Cradle Of Filth, Xandria, Lothöryen (Reviews By Stief)

Cradle Of Filth: Hammer Of The Witches (Nuclear Blast Records)

Having drunkenly shoved Dani Filth at Hammerfest, I was deemed the most qualified to review the Ipswich band's latest offering. As with most of their albums, Cradle Of Filth set the mood with an instrumental piece (Walpurgis Eve) before ripping into Yours Immortally... which, musically, is brilliant, with the latest incarnation of COF working brilliantly together, Marthus' drums paired with the bass of Daniel Firth and guitars of Rich Shaw and Ashok, all interwoven with wonderful keyboard and vocal work from Lindsay Schoolcraft. However, one thing that has always seemed to divide the people has been Mr Filth himself; when he's growling, it's great and fits well with the sound of the band, but when he starts screeching, it's pretty jarring. However, it's not a surprise, you generally know what you're getting when it comes to Cradle Of Filth and most of the time, that involves Dani Filth's screeching voice over a symphonic black metal backdrop. Although a great sounding album, in some places it seems to sound too familiar to older works by the band, one example being Blackest Magick In Practice, which has echoes of Swansong For A Raven in areas. Overall, as mentioned earlier, it's a great album, and if you're a fan of the Filth, then it's definitely worth grabbing. However, if you're expecting something new, then look somewhere else. 7/10

Xandria: Fire And Ashes EP (Napalm Records)

Hailing from Germany, this is the second offering from the symphonic quintet since lead singer Dianne Van Giersbergen's joining. It's standard symphonic metal fare, with strings and operatic vocals galore. Opening song Voyage Of The Fallen opens with a wonderful choir before the band blast into excellent riffs. Despite consisting of only 7 songs, the EP gives us a few surprises, with covers of Meat Loaf's I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) and Sonata Arctica's Don't Say A Word, both songs getting a more bombastic edge added to them through the band's symphonic style. Xandria have also re-recorded 'alternate versions' of older songs, in this case Ravenheart and Now And Forever with Van Giersbergen obviously singing lead this time around. Generally, it's a great listen, especially if symphonic metal is your thing. 8/10

Lothöryen: Principles Of A Past Tomorrow (Shinigami Records)

The fifth offering from this Brazilian sextet, Principles... starts with ...A Journey Begins, which brings to mind The Eagles' Journey Of The Sorcerer in places before breaking into Heretic Chant, which is a great example of what melodic folk metal can be. With most of the songs, there are hints of Tobias Sammet's Avantasia amongst other bands in the mix, but that's not to say Lothöryen don't have their own sound. Daniel Felipe's gravelly vocals work wonderfully with the band's folky sound. Although initially bringing to mind the olden days with their lute-like guitars, played by Tim Alan Wagner and Leko Soares, with some rhythmic drumming from Marcello Benelli, the band throw in futuristic elements such as synth-like keyboard work from Leo Godde which work suprisingly well together with Marcelo Godde's bass and some excellent solos from Soares . There's a clear message of futurism and time theories throughout the album, with snippets of Stephen Hawkings and Carl Sagan being thrown into some of the songs. Generally the band has a great heavy sound and as pointed out before, has a very Avantasia-esque feel to it, with each song feeling different, yet working together as if they were pages in a book, whether it's the wah-wah pedal heavy sound of Manipulative Waves, the almost 80's synth in Night Is Calling and The Convict, the soft, ballad-like Wavery Time or the great folky sound in the previously mentioned Heretic Chant. An excellent piece of work. 9/10

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