Sunday, October 26, 2014

Grave Digger - Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching)

When I think of fist pumping heavy metal, I'm often reminded of Medieval Scotland.

Well, not really, but Grave Digger's metal anthem "Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching)" is a fist pumping heavy metal tune about Medieval Scotland.  This song is taken from Grave Digger's album Tunes Of War which is a concept record based on Scottish History.  This is also the first of a trilogy of medieval themed albums (2nd being the Crusades and the 3rd about King Arthur).

Although this is not my favourite Grave Digger album, "Rebellion" is my favourite Grave Digger tune.  If ever I go into battle, I want this song cranked.  It starts with a quiet riff and the call to arms chorus, before it kicks into a galloping metal riff.  Once Chris Boltendhal kicks in with his melodically gruff vocals, I'm ready to throw on a kilt and pick up a sword and charge.

The gang style chorus is uber catchy and will stick with you for days.  The solo is slick and stirring and the bagpipe bridge is far from out of place here.  Probably the only song when played live will have thousands of metalheads air-bag piping in the crowd.

A truly energetic and rousing tune in all it's simplicity.  Just a damned fine heavy metal anthem that stands out on it's own outside of the albums concept.  Go on and have a listen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Savatage's "Believe" and Cyrcle IX's cover of "Believe"

Today I'm going to do a little bit of a different post.  Today I'm featuring the same song by the original artist and a cover by another artist.  The song is "Believe" by Savatage and I can honestly say this is my all time favourite song.  Released on Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera, "Believe" is the album closer and what a closer it is.  It is the greatest, most epic power ballad ever written.  The lyrics are poignant and uplifting and Chris Oliva's guitar solo at the end is complex in its layered simplicity bringing the song (and album) to a grandiose end.  There is really not much else I can say.  Go ahead and give it a listen and tell me you're not moved at least a little bit.

The cover version of "Believe" I'm featuring is by the band Cyrcle IX off the Savatage Tribute album Return Of The Mountain King.  Oh sure, there is also the Trans-Siberian Orchestra version, but it is too simplified and loses some of the power.  However, Cyrcle IX's version, although simplified, is chalked full of passion and conviction.  The vocalist Pete Wallace is no Jon Oliva, but he doesn't try to be.  What he does do is sing his damned heart out, to the point his voice almost breaks.  Guitarist Mike Hollis does a fine job working his way through the solo at the end.  Certainly not as epic as the original, but far superior to the TSO version.  This is the way a cover song should be done.  Cyrcle IX made it their own, but did not sacrifice the integrity of the original.  Check it out here Cyrcle IX cover of "Believe" youtube

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sacred Steel "Dark Forces Lead Me To The Brimstone Gate"

Today's post is on Sacred Steel's "Dark Forces Lead Me To The Brimstone Gate" off their Bloodlust concept album.  A rather lengthy title, but this 4 minute ditty is a metal assault on your senses.  I've reviewed the album previously on this blog, and I can say that pretty much any song on it would make this list, but that would be silly, so I chose my favourite.

"Dark Forces ..." starts off with a rapid fire thrash like riff and a hammering drum beat that screams metal.  If you don't have the horns raised withing the first 10 sec, your arms must be broken.  Sacred Steel are German Power Metal/ Speed Metal band with an emphasis on straight up heavy metal.  These guys don't dink around.  They aren't of the Rhapsody of Fire or Freedom Call variety of power metal.

"Dark Forces ..." sinks it's claws into you with a hungry aggression that is infectious.  The vocals of Gerrit P. Mutz are unique in that his German accent is fairly noticeable and some might find it distracting, but I actually quite like his mid range screech.  This song incorporates some well placed Death Metal growls which adds a real sinister feel, especially around the 2:30 mark.

Go on and have a listen.  Just remember that even if you're lead to the brimstone gate, you don't have to go through it.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Blind Guardian "Nightfall"

Today's post is on a lighter note.  Blind Guardian are a German Power Metal band and rather a long running one too.  Forming in the mid 80's Blind Guardian were more speed metal then power, but come the album Nightfall In Middle Earth the band were mixing the styles quite nicely and here they enhanced their sound with a folk element.

As the album title suggests, this album is based around JRR Tolkien's epic series.  However, this is not a Lord of The Rings concept album, this is based around The Silmarillion.  The collection of tales that narrates the history of Middle-Earth.  Published posthumously by his son, The Silmarillion is a hard read as it is a collection of works mostly incomplete.  Although this a difficult and often times boring read, it makes for a killer concept album.

The album is my favourite by Blind Guardian and when I caught then on tour when they first came to Canada the majority of the material they played was from this album.  It was awesome!  The song I chose to feature, while not my favourite, is the title track "Nightfall".  The song has a very folky, yet theatrical sound all while remaining metal.

The guitar melodies are folky and run throughout the song and the keyboards add a majestic atmospheric all the while vocalist Hansi Kursch brings a theatrical performance which turns this song from progressive to epic.  The song creeps in (like nightfall ... as the lyrics suggest) and builds into a crescendo of a chorus.  My favourite part is the bridge around 2:30 minute mark leading into the solo.  The song lacks a traditional structure, yet does not feel jarring or odd.  It flows remarkably smoothly and gently creeps away again.

Have a listen.  This is the Middle-Earth I want to lose myself in.