Reviews roundup ~ The Chant Of Trees ~ Thanateros ~ Atomic Rocket Seeders ~ Millennium | Trilogy | Project
THE CHANT OF TREES
The Chant of Trees
Shaman Voice Production
Speaking as someone who has been officially declared no quite right in the heid and who is currently constructing a small grove made out of old logs on the hill my house sits on, this is the sort of thing I Heartily Approve Of.
I like my metal, I like my folk metal, I like my mad as a madhouse full of mad folk and this satisfies all the criteria. Apparently it’s a new project of Zahaah, who is the head honcho of Himinbjorg. Nope, me neither. They (Himinbjorg) have been on the go since the nineties and despite every shred of evidence pointing to the contrary, they’re actually French! The promo bumph is a wee bit shy of saying who does what but there appear to be a couple of vocalists – Elizabeth and Sara plus Pierre on bouzouki and flutes, Lucille on fiddle and mouth harp, Baptiste on boha, aboès, mandolin, tin whistle and some acoustic guitars (or Troy as he will be known to me). Plus Zahaa, of course, on stuff.
And everyone involved will be able to look themselves in the eye as this is quite magnificent. They call it Meditative Folk Metal and that seems a pretty reasonable description. Obviously I’ve no idea what they’re singing about as I don’t have any lyrics but with song titles including ‘Along The Stream’, ‘Shaman’, ‘Springtime Of The Soul’ and ‘The Dawn’ I think I get the general idea. They’re at their most metal on the ten minute plus ‘The Boundless Sea Part 1’ where you actually get some mighty fine riffage alongside the more folky elements and it works really well.
Elsewhere the folk part comes more to the fore, something the teenage me would have deplored. But the older I get, the more time I spend staring out from my island, across the sea, or sitting on my hill, pondering the vagaries of life. If you do the same then is something you will definitely want to hear. It’s only February but I can’t see how this won’t be near the Top of my Pops at years end. Outstanding.
After a decade away from Thanateros, a time that saw vocalist and programmer Ben Richter releasing two albums with Phosphor, he’s decided to resurrect them for a fifth album.
I knew none of that and have never heard of them but their thing appears to be gothic folk metal. Which is a nice idea if you like the idea of fiddle player in Paradise Lost. I know I do so thoroughly enjoyed this. When he’s not channeling or quoting HP Lovecraft, Herr Richter seems to spend a lot of time investigating dream worlds. As someone who has spent several decades wrestling with insomnia that’s something that interests me. Mainly because I never sleep long enough to have dreams. Not a problem for someone who is singing about Elysian spheres.
There are a couple of times where the violin doesn’t really seem to fit in. Those times are when they’re at their most metal but when it finds a song that suits it such as ‘The Lost King’ then it really works well. That one seems him “king of all the shattered dreams”. It’s one of the highlights here although there are plenty of others. Now, I’m not going to lie, I’m not the biggest fan of the vocals. But it’s his band so I’m not going to be the one to tell him. There is a harshness that could do with some softening during certain passages. But I’m being a wee bit picky as most of the music is excellent.
I could have done without the four bonus tracks which are just four of the tunes with the vocals removed. But the main body of the album has some great melodies and metal. So if you’re looking to get your Cthulhu craving sated then come on in.
ATOMIC ROCKET SEEDERS
Atomic Rocket Seeders
I don’t get many record from Luxembourg. But then there’s probably not that many records in Luxembourg what with the entire population being roughly that of Glasgow.
So fair play to Atomic Rocket Seeders, despite their terrible name, for putting out their debut album which mixes up modern mainstream metal with a few nods back to the nineties when the likes of Incubus and Hoobastank had their day in the sun. Nothing wrong with that. I saw both of them back in the day. I never bought their records, mind.
But Atomic Rocket Seeders are obviously looking back to those days as they charge off through an entertaining set which also gets a wee bit nu-metal in in places and even throws in some left field Janes Addiction licks now and then. I especially liked the vocals of Thierry “TAP” Porcedda who can go from sweet to guttural in the blink of an eye. The album also sounds really good with a superb production that belies its indie roots. ‘Revolution 20**’ is a real highlight if you’re in the mood for something relatively straightforward. But then they also shine on the mentalist ‘Black Strawberries’ which throws in thrash, djent and all points inbetween over its near eight minute running time.
A few of the songs do kind of rub along together but the arrangements are usually interesting and they seem to have a predilection for adventure, which is always to be recommended.
MILLENNIUM | TRILOGY | PROJECT
Act 1: The Trial
Aye, aye, someone likes their Ayreon. And if you’re going to be influenced by someone, then why not be influenced by the best.
And so it is with his fellow Dutchman John van Heugten who has brought us a concept album inspired by the Millennium books of the ;ate Swedish author Stieg Larsson. You know, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and all that. Of course the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and the bank account) as we delve into the story of Brynn and her alienation from society. As you would expect from this sort of thing there is an array of vocalists playing the different parts with Nicole Verstappen singing the lead while the other main characters are performed by Bart Van Lierop, René Janssen and Noëlle Van Bussel.
John Van Heugten is the keyboard player and writer behind the project. He’s got form in the prog world having been a member of award winning neo-proggers Ricocher who split up a decade or so ago before going on to form Eleven’s Eve. After they split he decoded to record a concept album leading to this. And, generally, it’s very good. The songs are divided into five scenes and when it’s at its proggiest it’s really good. There is a slight lull in the middle where things go more eighties Asia than Ayreon. ‘Keep On Dancing’ is probably the worst offender. But then you have tunes like ‘Ashes Of My Heart’ and ‘Atrocity’ which are simply outstanding.
The vocals are uniformly excellent and considering there was probably a limited budget here, the production is excellent. I’m a sucker for this kind of thing so had a good time taking it all in. Definitely one for those who thought that the last Arjen outing was too musical theatre!
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton