Sivert Høyem: Live At Acropolis – Herod Atticus Odeon, Athens (314 Records)
Norwegian singer/songwriter Sivert Høyem made his name in the Alt-Rock band Madrugada, he was the singer of the band until the untimely demise of guitarist Robert Burås put paid to group, however since the Høyem has gone on to forge a successful solo career with his latest solo effort Lioness being released in 2016. (Metal fact he also sang vocals on Satyricon's 2013 self titled album) Now you will be forgiven for not knowing any of this as Høyem has never really broken out of the Norwegian music sphere with the exception of a few shows in Holland and Germany his major spheres of influence are the Nordic countries and oddly Greece, having played the country on virtually every tour he (and his band before him) have amassed a devoted following in the country so much so that recently he was special guests to Placebo at the Rockwave festival in Malakasa Greece (a festival that's on our must do list).
Live At Acropolis – Herod Atticus Odeon, Athens is a 2 disc live album from the historical monument that is in the shadow of the Acropolis, the album records Høyem's headline set from his 2016 Lioness tour, he is accompanied by his solo band as well as a string section meaning the music on this record is suitably as epic as the surroundings. My advice is to listen to the album first then watch the DVD, this way you can really concentrate on the music being played without the, admittedly gorgeous, visuals to distract you. From the start of the record you can hear from the crowd noise that this was special event there seems to be an electricity in the air, Høyem takes to the stage and the band dive into Lioness itself with his acoustic guitar the the base layer for the rest of the instrumentation to build on, all of the arrangements on this album are lush and lavish, some of the songs have been tweaked to fit the more classical setting but it improves the songs no end.
Now anyone who has listened to The Tea Party, The Tragically Hip, Anathema will naturally gravitate towards this album each song is so different from the previous one but they all retain a collective individuality, from the countrified Black And Gold, through the powerful duet of My Thieving Heart which features Norwegian jazz/pop artist Marie Munroe, the sadness of Honey Bee and the psych-rocking Give It A Whirl he and his band craft beautiful music which takes blues, soul and jazz as it's groundwork and adds quirky pop, Pink Floyd guitar lines and a rock n roll spirit, there is an emotion to these songs mainly due to the devastating, low, deep and resonant vocals of Høyem himself who sings every line like his heart is breaking. Live At Acropolis... is a great record, not a great live record a great record full stop, you fell as if it's happening right in front of you, not a note is dropped and no quarter given, nearly an hour and a half of incredible music and then you get to watch the DVD too. 10/10
Shadowside: Shades Of Humanity (Spiritual Beast)
Shadowside are unlike the numerous female fronted bands around, they play a thrashier style of power metal favoured by bands such as Crystal Viper and Benedictum, they play a faster more sabre-rattling kind of power metal with furious drumming, distorted thrash riffs and gruff vocals from frontwoman Dani displaying the bands knack of mixing the melody with savagery, check out a track such as The Crossing which has a frenzied riff in the verses but moves into a hooky sing along chorus. There music has a very cerebral nature to it, this record deals with depression, abortion, the Mariana dam disaster in Brazil (Stream Of Shame) and mankind`s moral values, weighty subjects that reflects the band's heavier style, if this was bouncy power metal it wouldn't work as well, they experiment a bit with the feel of what is their fourth record, there is a nu-metal feel of Disturbed to What If, a steady groove to Parade The Sacrifice, electronics galore on Drifter and Alive is massive track that closes out the album where Dani and guitarist Raphael really show their chops from the ghostly opening to the typical symphonic metal sound of the song itself. Rounding out the band are Fabio on the drums and former Hammerfall bass player Magnus Rosen and together they make Shades Of Humanity another good release from this Brazilian band. 7/10
Bearpit: Blacklist EP (Self Released)
Bristol mob Bearpit play a ferocious kind of metalcore that really slams you into the guts then breaks down to get you banging your head.The band is composed of Rory Field and Rob Tygree on guitars, Dan Brotherton on bass, Kurt Thompson on the skins and the excellently named Maximus Day on vocals, they are a young band and as such their debut EP is brimming with youthful exuberance, all six songs fizz with electricity opening with Eclipse they have dual leads driving their sound as Rory and Rob play fleet fingered leads over the heavy rhythm section. With musical nods to early Lamb Of God and Machine Head. Bearpit really know how to make an impression, .
The action picks up and Maximus screams his lungs out, but there is no angst here just fury, his vocals are strong with the music behind him having the right level of epicness to it, they dabble with progressive touches throughout having a bit of bass break on Eclipse before all hell breaks loose again on the raging thrasher Hands That Feed and Human which is the most 'hardcore' feeling track on the album. Now I'm usually one for metalcore or 'core' bands in general but I know what I like and with a mix of modern heavy metal, technical prowess, metalcore groove, nearly all harsh vocals (some cleans appear on Human) and most importantly the fact that the production, songwriting and performance sound like band that have been doing this for years. The Blacklist EP is a real statement from Bearpit, it proves that the British D.I.Y scene is probably the strongest around. 8/10