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Metalanalysis   

Cult Of Luna: the master architects of Vertikal


Four years ago, Cult Of Luna released an album, Eternal Kingdom, which concept was extended to an audio book, Eviga Riget. In a certain way, the real concept wasn’t the one we had thought, that is the murder of the wife of a so-called Holger Nilsson, but rather the experience of the band to test its audience limits, and the journalists’ one in particular. Cult Of Luna took its time to give a successor to Eternal Kingdom. This record was finally born in the beginning of 2013: Vertikal.

Cult Of Luna clearly offers a well-thought out, meticulous record, matured while reflecting on the 20th century german expressionists’ urban themes, especially illustrated by its movies. Vertikal is indisputably more influenced by Metropolis’ rectilinear and spectacular perspectives than by Der Golem or The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’s architectural fancies. Of course, no obvious link between the songs and the soundtracks of these movies will be found. Vertikal is not a journey into the expansionist past of the big cities of the 20’s. It is a modern and even futurist projection, like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was in its time.

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Metalanalysis   

Soilwork takes two steps towards infinity


That’s one hell of a big splash for Soilwork. A double CD, no more and no less. When you make a double CD, you have at least a selection of relevant and coherent songs. When you make a double CD, there’s the risk to loose the listener’s attention in the end. When you make a double CD, it is a real creative declaration which must be assumed. A double CD is, therefore, very much awaited. And it’s been a while since our Swedish guys had not shown such ambitiousness, at least for form’s sake.

For all those who have been following them since the beginning, Soilwork are first and foremost known for a series of four remarkable albums: A Predator’s Portrait, Natural Born Chaos, Figure Number Five and Stabbing The Drama. Four hot records by which Soilwork literally built themselves, by experimenting different approaches. Every record distinguished itself from the other by its originality in terms of sound or musical orientation. Since, Soilwork seems to be in a status quo and doesn’t surprise much anymore, really. Sworn To A Great Divide isn’t a big change compared to what characterized and gave some nobility to its predecessors, even if it has this more polished, pop oriented side. This record just simply reuses and slightly modifies the codes that the band has set up before. The Panic Broadcast, renews with more diversity and spite, but nonetheless confirms that Soilwork have definitely found their comfort zone where they could continue to produce top-quality albums without being challenged.

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Metalanalysis   

There’s a place for 7 Weeks among the great beasts


What future is there after Dead Of Night? Was it a mere interlude, a step on the side to explore new directions before going back to the hot, dusty road leading to pure stoner rock? When the 7 Weeks-mobile took the path across the fields in 2010, it had probably not thought to leave such a mark on the landscape and to come back on the main drag with so much clay to shape jammed under the bumper.

What future is there after Dead Of Night? We were already wondering back in 2012, when we discovered this album, released on the sly at the end of 2011. First it was just a live experience that the band wanted to capture on a record – but it was only meant to remain a UFO in the band’s broader career, something on the fringe, destined only to the most curious listeners. In the end, it’s precisely curiosity that revealed a strong personality and the potential of a band that is so much more than Queens Of The Stone Age’s French twice-removed cousin.

“We’re not convinced this concept album will define the band’s artistic future”, we said at the time. Because a reviewer, impressed as he may be, is not here to tell a band to do this thing or that, on the pretext that this one experience seems to be a success. But we were no less eager to hear the effect this adventure would have on the band’s compositions, with the imminent release of their fourth record, Carnivora.

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Metalanalysis   

Voivod: out of space and time


That’s it: a new era begins for Voivod. The Canadians are done with the dusting, the restoration and the reconstruction of the last riffs and compositions of the missed guitarist Denis d’Amour, aka Piggy, who died in 2005 of cancer. These little treasures found on Piggy’s computer enabled the band to make two other albums. Two records which stand on their own, without any low-quality material in both of them, and prove how a prolific composer Piggy had been, besides the magic he held in his fingers.

« I think the page is being turned » said Denis Bélanger, aka Snake, the lead singer, at a time when the band was at a crossroads, after the “Infini” tour. It is obvious that a lot of questions went through the band’s mind before deciding anything about its future: « We asked ourselves that question when we were starting over, and there were a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ » », confessed Snake. It must be said that Voivod is a band with a unique sound and personality and this was due in particular to Piggy’s original playing style and his way to compose riffs or songs. Without Piggy, could Voivod stay Voïvod?

Often, it is the way that we feel things deep inside of us which brings the best answers to difficult choices. « Since we reformed with this line-up, we really enjoy doing what we do » stated Snake when asked about the tour’s line-up, before adding: « I think Piggy would’ve wanted us to keep on going, so that’s what we’re going. We don’t know how to do anything else than what we’re going so we might as well keep on going! » One cannot but notice that these concerts, done not only with bass player Jean-Yves Thériault, aka Blacky, back home after no less than 17 years, but also with a young guy (compared to the rest of the band) to replace the master, Dan Mongrain (aka Chewy, from the technical death metal band Martyr), have recreated a certain alchemy within Voivod.

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Metalanalysis   

Man The Machetes cut the head of Idiocracy


Could it be there’s a new wind blowing from Norway? After conquering the world since the end of the 80s with black metal bands, from Darkthrone to Dimmu Borgir, and from Mayhem to Enslaved, the gorgeous Scandinavian country is now known for young bands that wake up the North of Europe through their original, fresh sound, halfway between rock and extreme music.

Kvelertak got noticed in 2010 for their very own “black’n’roll” style. Now it’s time for Man The Machetes to sign with boisterous Norwegian label Indie Recordings (Kvelertak, Cult Of Luna, Satyricon…) to release their first album, Idiokrati, a rock record with a pinch of hardcore, pop melodies and punk rhythms. A sort of high voltage Turbonegro, with the youthful vitality of Bring Me The Horizon and a warm, highly rock groove, denouncing – in Norwegian, mind – the stupidity of current society.

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Metalanalysis   

Darkthrone: retro-evolution in search of nature and tradition


Darkthrone is a band whose image is, to most, intricately tied to musical linearity and paucity of sound. That would be a consequence of the three foundation stones that are Blaze In The Northern Sky, Under A Funeral Moon and Transilvanian Hunger. Three albums that have laid the foundations of the most traditional black metal you could think of – “true”, as we’re supposed to put it. Three albums that provoke the listener through their sheer minimalism, and their search for “under-produced” sound, as opposed to what can be achieved with modern production tools. The aficionados would tell you this approach is the key to achieving a dark, unhealthy atmosphere. The detractors would tell you they must be fuckin’ kidding us.

Now still, when he talks about his new album, The Underground Resistance, Fenriz mentions a quest for the most organic sound possible (he even goes as far as talking of “organic metal” as a movement in an interview for Nocturnal Cult). For example, he was always forcefully against so-called “triggered” drums, which are often used nowadays and which, according to him, destroy otherwise decent pieces of work. The title of the album clearly refers to the band’s activism against technological evolution and, as we can imagine, the perversions of the music business. And, come to think of it, both the abuses of over-production, which have brought the modern « loudness war » in their wake, and the slow descent into hell of the music industry seem to justify their fight. But do they justify the opposite kind of excess?

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Metalanalysis   

Steven Wilson at crossroads


In September 2011, for his record Grace For Drowning, Steven Wilson confessed to us in a very long interview that “it took [him] twenty years of experimenting and exploring with [his] bands and [his] solo projects before [he] actually felt like [he] was ready to try and bring all of the aspects of [his] musical personality together, and to make it seem cohesive and complete, and not to sound like a schizophrenic mess of ideas.” Indisputable artist working on a lot of different projects, it’s on his solo project that he worked the most the last couple of years. The goal was to refocus his deeply intimate creativity thanks to this record.

According to him, “You shouldn’t have rules in music, it’s kind of the enemy of creativity”, but obviously, it’s still good to have a guiding line, as wide as it should be. This line has to respect and to give shape to the coherency of a state that in turn, is sacralized by and through the music. This is what Steven Wilson defines as “musical personality”. Steven Wilson’s new record, The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories), yearns for sincerity just like all his works. But is it the allegory of a concise, renewed, and now stable philosophy, or just one more record reflecting an artistic need fueled by the absence of rules?

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Metalanalysis   

Koi No Yokan focuses Deftones’ efforts


Through the years, Deftones have managed to establish their reputation as a legitimate, respected band. “One word: perseverance. We’ve been together for almost eight years, on the road for two and we do it with honesty and integrity – and the kids can tell”, bassist Chi Cheng told Guitar World Online in 1997. Ten years later, Deftones had plenty of evidence to prove their worth. But in 2008, the band went through a terrible personal ordeal after the accident of the very same Chi Cheng. The turmoil that followed – the band gave up on Eros, the album they were working on at the time – and the 2010 release of Diamond Eyes showed just how critical this era was for Deftones.

In September 2012, Chino Moreno, the band’s singer, told Noisecreep about the context in which they started working on this new album: “We were coming out of a tough time, obviously, and our goal was to kind of rebuild what we created over all the years. I felt like we had to prove ourselves. We’d taken so much time between records, had some inner turmoil and our records were starting to get pieced together versus really being created together, so for us it was a chance to get back to basics”. Koi No Yokan marks a return to a more peaceful creation process. That’s what Chino confirmed in another interview for Crave Online last September. Feeling more confident after the success of Diamond Eyes, the band immersed themselves in a creative bubble: they wrote and composed together in the same room, “tons of ideas” came from all sides, thirteen songs were recorded and eleven of those eventually made it on the final version of the album.

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Metalanalysis   

Skunk Anansie: energy and freedom above all else


There’s something you can’t do with Skunk Anansie’s music: put it in a box. Especially not a nicely labeled box full of stereotypes that, even with the best intentions in the world, only serve to marginalize an identity or a message. Skunk Anansie will have none of that. Only the essential remains, and that’s the band’s pure, authentic rock energy.  
 
Although Black Traffic is already the band’s fifth studio album, it’s only their second record since they re-formed in 2009. Without ever giving in to the current trends, Skunk Anansie remain focused on the fundamental: rock songs and the huge energy they display on stage.

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Metalanalysis   

Shining or the allegory of pain


Shining’s death mask was ripped off a long time ago, following a very cold era when Niklas Kvarforth and his gang were still experimenting with their artistic approach and getting closer to a sort of groove that drove them away from the depressive black metal of their origins. Redefining Darkness, the band’s new album, has reached another level. Aggressiveness seems to fall in the wake of mental pain. But the recipe is well-known and well-liked by the band’s fans. That being said, what evolution can this album bring?

Shining is undoubtedly made up of talented musicians and boasts a strong identity. Contrary to many of their contemporaries in this genre, they initiated a serious artistic change in 2007 – a change they’d already hinted at with The Eerie Cold in 2005. The mutation is obvious, and is akin to watching dark granite turn into dark marble: the color is the same, but the material is less grating under your fingertips.

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