Album Review – Motograter / Desolation (2017)

Get “motograted” by the thrilling fusion of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock blasted by this tenacious American outfit.

Do you know what a “motograter” is? If you’re familiar with the fusion of Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock crafted by a relentless American squad known as Motograter, you already known that the “motograter” is a homemade musical instrument designed with industrial cable and guitar pieces that creates a unique bass sound, and by that you can imagine how thunderous their music sounds. Formed in 1995 in Santa Barbara, California, United States, the band (which by the way displays a tribal style body paint for their live concerts) has suffered considerable lineup changes and a few split-ups since their inception, but that didn’t stop the band from keeping on rocking, being reunited once again a few years ago and releasing this year their second full-length album after their 2003 debut self-titled release (featuring Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch on vocals), the hard and heavy Desolation, now with James Legion (Deadform, The Breathing Process) on the vocal duties.

As aforementioned, the reinvigorated Motograter, comprised of the talented James Legion on vocals, Matthew “Nuke” Nunes and Jesse Stamper on guitars, Mylon Guy on bass, Noah “Shark” Robertson on drums and Dustin “Skunk” Anderson on the motograter, will hit you in the face with a feast of alternative and metallic sounds found in their new album, with the artwork designed by Mister-Sam Shearon (who has already worked with renowned bands such as Iron Maiden, Ministry, Rob Zombie and Rammstein, among several others, and also created covers for comic books and graphic novels including Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Judge Dredd and The X-Files) effectively representing the energy and aggressiveness you’ll find throughout the entire album. With that said, are you ready to be “motograted” by this insane metal tribe?

You’ll experience modernity and electricity flowing from the very first second of the opening track Parasite, where Mylon, Noah and Dustin provide their welcome card in the form of thunderous and vibrant background sounds, giving all the necessary support for James to thrive with his vocals in an awesome blend of Hard Rock with Alternative and Nu Metal. Gripping guitar lines kick off another born-to-be-a-hit composition by Motograter, titled Dorian, with Matthew and Jesse slashing our ears with their riffs while Noah keeps the musicality as heavy as it can be with his pounding drums, not to mention the song’s completely addictive chorus that won’t leave your head for a few weeks; and their galvanized, rumbling sounds continue to permeate the atmosphere in Victim, another great sample of their contemporary Alternative Metal led by the ominous vocals by James.

In the excellent Paragon it becomes clear that those American metallers will never get tired of piercing our brains with their rumbling tones and roars, with the motograter going along really well with the song’s guitar riffs and the potent voice by James, being perfect for banging our heads nonstop together with the band due to its modern and thrilling rhythm. Slowing down a bit and sounding less metallic, Bleeding Through is a semi-ballad by this skillful sextet recommended for some radio play, albeit not as dynamic and fun as the rest of the album, followed by Misanthropical, which despite feeling like it’s going to be another ballad, it slowly morphs into an obscure metal chant with the motograter shaking the foundations of the earth, while the infernal duo Noah and Mylon continue to set fire to the music, and with the song’s guttural vocals adding some good amount of fury to the overall result. Daggers keeps the album at a great level of intricacy and stamina in an interesting mix of what’s almost a dark ballad with the heavier sounds of Alternative Metal, with Mathew and Jesse being fantastic on guitars, delivering both smoother and more electrified riffs during the whole song.

The last part of the album begins with Portrait of Decay, a hybrid of the more visceral music by Slipknot with the melody found in bands such as Alter Bridge, therefore becoming another strong candidate to become a radio favorite due to its catchy pace and vocals. Locust sounds and feels more aggressive than most of the album’s previous tracks, with Noah smashing his drums flawlessly while Mylon and Dustin make sure the music remains vibrant at all times (and let’s not forget about its harsh growls, one of the main ingredients that make this tune so amazing). Rise (There Will Be Blood), the second to last tune in Desolation, is one of those songs to jump up and down with the band during their live performances, bringing elements of more alternative bands like Linkin Park to their already potent sonority, followed by Shadows, a decent dark ballad that’s slightly below what Motograter can offer us despite the great job done by James on vocals. It’s still very enjoyable, though, especially if you’re into modern metal ballads.

In case you feel you’re more than ready to be “motograted” by Motograter, simply follow them on Facebook and listen to their music on YouTube or on Spotify. And if Desolation brings forward all you enjoy in modern metal music, you can buy your copy at the EMP Label Group webstore as a regular CD or as a CD + t-shirt bundle, as well as on iTunes, on Amazon or at Discogs. Not only Desolation has all elements needed to be a must-have album for admirers of contemporary Alternative Metal, but above all it will definitely help Motograter in solidifying their path in heavy music, and let’s hope the band’s lineup is finally stabilized once and for all and that they keep delivering high-end albums like this one for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Parasite, Dorian, Paragon and Locust.

Worst moments of the album: Bleeding Through and Shadows.

Released in 2017 EMP Label Group

Track listing
1. Parasite 3:46
2. Dorian 3:46
3. Victim 3:30
4. Paragon 4:03
5. Bleeding Through 3:28
6. Misanthropical 3:41
7. Daggers 4:21
8. Portrait of Decay 3:35
9. Locust 3:42
10. Rise (There Will Be Blood) 3:40
11. Shadows 3:18

Band members
James Legion – vocals
Matthew “Nuke” Nunes – guitar
Jesse Stamper – guitar
Mylon Guy – bass
Noah “Shark” Robertson – drums
Dustin “Skunk” Anderson – motograter

Guest musicians
Aleksi Oksa – samples
Justin Fowler, Ahrue Luster & Jon Berrier – additional samples

Album Review – Selene / The Forgotten (2015)

These amazing Northern Irish metallers continue their symphonic path to stardom with their delightful and elaborate debut full-length album.

Rating4

Selene - The ForgottenJust like thousands of other fans of Symphonic Power Metal (and good music in general) from all over the world, I’m glad to see it didn’t take too long for Northern Irish metallers Selene to come back in action with the release of their first full-length album, entitled The Forgotten. It’s always a pleasure to witness the evolution and success of a hardworking band such as Selene, who translate all their passion for heavy music into ravishing tunes tailored for admirers of the combination of heartwarming female vocals and intricate riffs, accompanied by a unique symphonic aura in the background.

Formed in Northern Ireland in 2013, Selene released their debut EP named Among the Frozen in 2013, and more recently another EP entitled Paradise Over, in 2014, which I had the pleasure of reviewing as you can check by clicking HERE. By the way, on its first week of release, Paradise Over became the 3rd best selling metal release worldwide on BandCamp, and has since been featured heavily on a number of radio stations worldwide (including our friends from The Metal Moose Radio). However, it’s now with The Forgotten that these talented musicians are truly shaping up their style, adding layers of complexity and creativity to their already solid music for an even more consistent result.

The opening track, Dorian, is undoubtedly an excellent start to the album, showcasing all the skills of the musicians involved.  The great performance by Shonagh Lyons in this song is enhanced by the atmosphere created by the rest of the band, with highlights to the powerful keyboards by guitarist/keyboardist John Connor. Paradise Over is the first of the three songs from their 2014 EP to feature on the album, being once again one of the best songs in my opinion, and the same words I used in the review to the EP are still valid. And Never-Ending Silence is a gentle and passionate heavy ballad where Shonagh takes the spotlight with her smooth vocals, never exaggerating on her tone or emotions while John provides his classic guitar lines full of feeling, not to mention the song’s beautiful chorus.

But that’s just the beginning of The Forgotten, as there’s still a lot more symphony and electricity to come as in the melodic Not Enough, another track from their 2014 EP where it’s impossible not to get touched by its warmness, followed by Fade Away, the last of the “old” EP songs and a potent chant for fans of Symphonic Metal with drummer Cameron Åhslund-Glass simply kicking some serious ass. Sweetest Dreams, a lovely ballad full of passion and melancholy, offers the listener beautiful piano passages, intense guitar lines and the always gentle vocals by the pretty Shonagh; while Blind presents a strong influence from bands such as Nightwish and Within Temptation, being considerably faster and more melodic than all previous tracks and flirting with modern Hard Rock with the addition of symphonic elements. It’s indeed very exciting from start to finish, yet again displaying a catchy chorus for all of us to sing along with the band.

Selene_1In Our Story, a nimble and heavy intro expands into a blend of symphony and speed, with the duo John/Cameron doing a superb job with their riffs and beats in total sync. And the band’s characteristic keyboards and heavy riffs keep penetrating our souls in Blood, an amazing composition by John and his crew where not only its rhythm is exciting, but also its guitar solos and vocal lines help turn it into one of the best of all songs in the entire album (if not the best one). Then we have Memories, the most “medieval” tune in The Forgotten, sounding like a chant to be sung while prancing around the fire pit due to all the Celtic and Scandinavian elements added to the musicality, and finally Piano Black, their boldest composition to date with almost 10 minutes of pure Symphonic Metal, featuring all those classic background effects, a choir, heavy riffs and vigorous beats, until its last part fades away into melancholy. In addition, Shonagh’s performance is beyond pleasant in this epic tune, proving why she was chosen by John to be the voice of Selene.

To sum up, The Forgotten lives up to all the complexity and excitement found in traditional Symphonic Metal, and it will surely feature among the top metal albums on BandCamp and anywhere else where honest music is appreciated, just like what happened with Paradise Over. You can get more details about Selene at their Facebook page, listen to their music at their YouTube channel, and above all, purchase The Forgotten at their BandCamp page. And when you’re there, pay some good attention as there are a few different versions of the album available such as the awesome Special Edition Digipak, which comes along with a digital download code for 23 (twenty-three!) bonus tracks, including an instrumental version of the whole album, orchestral versions of 9 tracks and also 3 tracks re-recorded from their 2013 EP Among the Frozen. What else can you ask for, Mr. or Ms. Symphonic Metal?

Best moments of the album: Paradise Over, Never-Ending Silence and Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Our Story.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Dorian 4:54
2. Paradise Over 3:31
3. Never-Ending Silence 3:50
4. Not Enough 5:03
5. Fade Away 5:04
6. Sweetest Dreams 3:56
7. Blind 4:21
8. Our Story 4:43
9. Blood 4:15
10. Memories 4:30
11. Piano Black 9:30

Band members
Shonagh Lyons – vocals
John Connor – guitar, keyboards
Thomas Alford – bass
Cameron Åhslund-Glass – drums

Album Review – Sebastien / Dark Chambers Of Déjà-Vu (2015)

Are you ready to enter the dark chambers of complexity, professionalism and passion for Heavy Metal brought forth by this fine Czech band?

Rating4

sebastien-cover-finalWhen I saw my metal heroes Iron Maiden kicking ass last year in the pleasant city of Brno, located in the always amazing Czech Republic, I knew there was something special about that place, some sort of Heavy Metal aura surrounding its antique constructions and exquisite landscapes. Almost one year later, with the release of Dark Chambers Of Déjà-Vu, the brand new album by Melodic Power Metal band Sebastien, I can definitely feel that metallic energy flowing from that historical Moravian city.

Formed in 2008, and after releasing their debut album Tears Of White Roses in 2010 and touring the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria, among other European countries, together with bands such as Fates Warning, Masterplan and Circle II Circle in the next couple of years, it was time for the band to return to Grapow Studios in Slovakia to record Dark Chambers Of Déjà-Vu. And just like its predecessor, the new album includes some very special guest performances by Tony Martin (Black Sabbath), Sergey Baidikov (Inner Fear), Zak Stevens (Circle II Circle, Savatage), Roland Grapow (Masterplan), Ailyn Giménez (Sirenia) and Marlin Rya Poemy. Add to that considerable dosages of progressiveness, symphonic elements and riveting storylines, and the final result couldn’t sound more entertaining.

Fans of Power Metal and Symphonic Metal will get instantly hooked to the opening track Stranger at The Door, which relies heavily on that famous “heavy riffs and vocals with an atmospheric background provided by keyboards” formula without sounding cheesy. Moreover, the excellent vocals by George Rain remind me a lot of Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica, with the growls by guest vocalist Sergey Baidikov (Inner Fear) adding a lot of electricity to the song. Highland Romance, one of the few songs with no special guests, keeps the ball rolling with its old school Sonata Arctica vibe. It’s very cohesive and rhythmic, with a “medieval” touch thanks to the excellent work done by keyboardist Pavel “Dvorkys” Dvorak, followed by the semi-ballad inspired by the gripping Hard Rock from the 80’s entitled Crucifixion Of The Heart, where not only guitars and keyboards are in perfect sync, but its traditional lyrics about love also match perfectly with what the music is proposing.

Following a similar pattern of the previous track, Lamb Of God showcases a passionate performance by George, supported by the precise guest vocals by Tony Martin (Black Sabbath) and a beautiful solo by guitarist Andy Mons, while the symphonic and progressive The Walls Of Lyman-Alpha feels like a blend of Nightwish and Dream Theater, with highlights to the heaviness of its riffs and keyboards which end up making the whole song more enjoyable. And Sphinx In Acheron gets even more symphonic, with the strong ambience crafted by the band enhancing the beautiful vocal duo by Goerge and guest female vocalist Marlin Rya Poemy.

Booklet 16 Seiten - Maße.qxdWhen Frozen Nightingales starts it feels like a heavier version of Van Halen during the Sammy Hagar-era, with its catchy chorus, high-speed rhythm and thrilling symphony turning it into one of the best songs of the album; followed by Sleep In The Glass, where we must give kudos to drummer Lucas R. for being spot on with his solid technique; and the excellent metal ballad The Ocean, with guest singer Zak Stevens delivering a powerful performance together with  George, supported by the heavy artillery of Lucas and bassist Petri Kallio. Man In The Maze, the second song to feature guest singer Sergey Baidikov, is another melodic and straightforward Power Metal tune that will please all fans of the genre, and in case you’re not that much into harsh vocals this is an awesome option to start enjoying the “dark side of singing”.

Speeding up and getting heavier than before (mainly due to drummer Lucas being more “enraged” behind his drum kit), the last part of the album begins with The House Of Medusa, a high-end traditional tune containing all the elements necessary for a great metal song, before My Deepest Winter shows what happens to a song when you have Mr. Roland Grapow on the guitar. It’s slightly darker than most of the other songs, and in my humble opinion it could have even been a little longer to enhance its epicness. Then we have the celestial voice from Spanish diva Ailyn Giménez embellishing the smooth ballad Last Dance At Rosslyn Chapel, and let me tell you that her performance will undoubtedly touch your heart. In addition, it’s amazing how George and Ailyn turn their “dialogue” into sublime poetry, but obviously the song wouldn’t have been so intense without the atmosphere provided by the rest of the band. And last but not least, as I love live songs all I can say is that the two bonus tracks (Dorian and Headless Cross) are outstanding and add so much value to the album it makes me wonder if their next release should in fact be a live album (check the official video below and you’ll see what I’m talking about).

Sebastien can be reached through their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, and if you want to purchase Dark Chambers Of Déjà-Vu you can find it on Amazon or iTunes, among other locations. In other words, are you ready to enter the dark chambers of complexity, professionalism and passion for Heavy Metal brought forth by this fine Czech band?

Best moments of the album: Frozen Nightingales, The House Of Medusa and Last Dance At Rosslyn Chapel.

Worst moments of the album: Highland Romance.

Released in 2015 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Stranger at The Door (feat. Sergey Baidikov) 4:22
2. Highland Romance 4:26
3. Crucifixion Of The Heart 3:22
4. Lamb Of God (feat. Tony Martin) 4:03
5. The Walls Of Lyman-Alpha 3:16
6. Sphinx In Acheron (feat. Marlin Rya Poemy) 4:18
7. Frozen Nightingales 4:40
8. Sleep In The Glass 4:15
9. The Ocean (feat. Zak Stevens) 4:39
10. Man In The Maze (feat. Sergey Baidikov) 3:49
11. The House Of Medusa 3:30
12. My Deepest Winter (feat. Roland Grapow) 4:40
13. Last Dance At Rosslyn Chapel (feat. Aylin Giménez) 4:03

Bonus tracks
14. Dorian (Live) 5:53
15. Headless Cross (Live) 7:48

Band members
George Rain – vocals
Andy Mons – guitars, backing vocals
Petri Kallio – bass, backing vocals
Pavel “Dvorkys” Dvorak – keyboards
Lucas R. – drums

Guest musicians
Sergey Baidikov – harsh vocals on “Stranger at The Door” and “Man In The Maze”
Tony Martin – additional vocals on “Lamb Of God”
Marlin Rya Poemy – female vocals on “Sphinx In Acheron”
Zak Stevens – additional vocals on “The Ocean”
Roland Grapow – additional guitars on “My Deepest Winter”
Ailyn Giménez – female vocals on “Last Dance At Rosslyn Chapel”