New Music Video From Equilibrium

Folk/dance metal veterans have released a music video for their single, ‘A Lost Generation’, from the upcoming album Renegades. Following in suit with their more recent style, ‘A Lost Generation’ is fucking bumpin’. The rhythm guitar is huge, the synth is mean, and the song is super badass.

Equilibrium – A Lost Generation (Nuclear Blast)

Renegades is set to come out on 23 August via Nuclear Blast. In the ocean of heavyweight metal bands releasing new material this summer, this one is definitely the top of my most anticipated albums!

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Interview With Sabaton’s Joakim Broden

Originally written for The Metal Observer

“[M]e losing my voice after three songs, giving the guys lyric sheets, and Tommy and Chris taking over and singing the show. . . So, fucking proud to play with guys who can handle a thing like that and still get the vibe for a Sabaton show.”

With less than a month to go before the hotly-anticipated ninth studio album from Swedish metal icons Sabaton, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview Joakim Brodén, the frontman whose powerful vocals are as iconic as the band itself, to discuss the band’s upcoming North American tour, The Great War, and just to pick his brain a bit.

Kane: Hello Joakim! How are you doing today?

Joakim Brodén: Hello! I’m great. How are you?

I’m very well, thanks. I’m psyched to be able to talk with you. I’m a huge fan, obviously, but who isn’t these days?

J: [laughs] Well, I wish even more people liked us!

So this has been an eventful year for Sabaton. You’ve launched Sabaton History Channel, The Great War is almost out, you’re in the midst of festival season. Have you had any free time to yourself?

J: Not really! You know, maybe an hour here or a day there, but that’s about it. Having time off, one day is really nice and during the second day, halfway though it I’m really bored. I don’t know what to do.

You’re obviously committed to the lifestyle, then.

J: Absolutely. I love it.

Do you feel that you’re still growing as a musician?

J: Yeah! I mean, I’m lucky. I never planned to be a singer, and I started singing when I came into the band, so [laughs] it’s a lucky chance. You know, like, I’m also in that golden position where I don’t really sing extremely high. I go pretty high in a breast voice/full range voice point of view but I’m not going to have to worry about getting old and losing my falsetto.

Absolutely. You know, twenty years is a long time to spend on the scene. How have you seen the metal scene change since you started Sabaton?

J: Oh, it’s getting better these days, I’d say. Metal is getting bigger in general, more acceptance, I guess, and also I think that the last couple five or six years have been really good. All of a sudden we see lots of newer, younger bands coming up, which is sort of, yeah, I really love it actually. Because from our time there aren’t that many, you know. Most of the metal bands that came out were either before us, and then only a few around the same time as we, but now it seems to be exploding, which is really nice, I think.

It seems like new quality bands spring up kind of every year now, which is great to see.

J: Yes.

Now, I don’t want to beat you over the head with questions you’ve answered a million times but, of course, I have to ask you about the new album, so what do you think separates The Great War from other Sabaton albums?

J: Well, I can’t say “war” because almost all of them are about war. However, I don’t know. It’s very much a Sabaton album and by that means it sounds like every Sabaton album. But, you know, there is some sense of evolution from previous albums. We always had that. We never made huge steps, you know, between one album to the next, really. If you listen to, well, Heroes and then after that The Last Stand, which would be the two previous ones, you can hear some differences but it’s not gonna be a huge step. However, if you listen to, well, The Great War now and listen to the Metalizer album that we recorded in 2001 or 2002, there’s a huge difference. [laughs] So, um, yeah, a bit darker, a bit more atmospherical, I guess, this one, considering the topic of the album.

Yeah, I’ve definitely noticed that, compared to The Last Stand especially, where it was a lot more victorious and heroic, the overall mood in The Great War seems to be a bit darker and almost dooming.

J: Oh, yeah, in a sense it’s natural. I mean, it’s not like we planned for it. When we go into songwriting mode, I guess, we don’t ever plan, “let’s go harder”, “let’s go more cheerful”, “let’s go darker”, “let’s go softer”, you know, or faster or slower. It’s all about, well, two things, really. Writing as good a song as we possibly can, and making sure the music connects with the stories in as good a way as possible for us. So, with having the Great War in mind when writing the music it obviously affected the songwriting.

Right. Do you have any interesting stories from when you were recording the album?

J: Oh, well, there’s so many [laughs]. Nothing fantastic because, I mean, it was kind of difficult to write it. You know, every album you make it becomes harder and harder. How do you keep the band’s identity, you know, how do you keep it sounding like a Sabaton album, and at the same time progress? Or, develop in some way, at least? And, I do that and a lot of fans do that all the time. When you hear a new album, you compare it to not only to one or the other album, but a whole Greatest Hits of the that band’s previous releases. So, the songwriting was really tough on this one, because, basically, performance anxiety, but also the topic itself. It’s not a nice place to be, to be researching the Great War constantly. Obviously, when you’re doing something like Heroes or The Last Stand, it’s still of military conflict and people are dying, but you’re looking for something to celebrate, only by choice of topic. However, here, yeah, it’s a bit darker. But the studio recording itself was so smooth and fast it’s. . . I’m gonna give you a pretty boring answer. It’s pretty uneventful! [laughs]

I understand that the whole band was more involved in the making of this album compared to previous ones. Did that make the writing process easier or harder?

J: Easier, absolutely. Up until 2010, no, up until Carolus Rex, actually, I was the only songwriter who wrote Sabaton songs. Not by choice, but now, finally, we have some other guys in the band who are used to writing music and are actually quite good at it. It’s a really nice feeling.

Was every song in The Great War written specifically for the album or was there some old stuff that you brought up and refined and released?

J: Well, I always have old stuff lying around. If the song was ever not good enough, it will never good enough, so that gets basically deleted from the possibility pile. However, there’s always a few songs that I didn’t finish before. I’d rather not finish a song than completing it and having it not reach it’s potential or my potential in my mind, at least. So there were one of those, actually; the song ‘Attack of the Dead Men’ was started by me and Chris back in 2013 for the Heroes album. We just couldn’t get that prechorus right at all so we halted it. We revisited it again for The Last Stand, and we couldn’t finish it, so we revisited it again now, and, oh!, we finally managed to finish it. Then we had the song ‘A Ghost in the Trenches’ which was written with Tommy. That was way before the album, or before we entered songwriting mode, anyway. We started that in late 2017/early 2018. Tommy had been in the band for a while and, even though we knew he could write songs, we didn’t know if him and I could write songs together or if we could get something sounding Sabaton out of it. And, it turns out, we could! [laughs] So that one was written also in advance. Other than that, they’re all pretty much custom composed for the topic at hand.

It’s funny you mention those two tracks because those are both my favourites from the album. I notice they’re a little more unique for a Sabaton album. I mean, they still sound completely Sabaton but they’re more unique than maybe ’82nd All the Way’ or ‘Devil Dogs’.

J: Yeah, especially ‘Attack of the Dead Men’ is pretty damn different.

So, shifting gears a little bit, how is festival season going for you guys so far?

J: Pretty good. We had to do an extra fill in in Hellfest, which we weren’t supposed to play at, but I lost my voice and we had the guitarists singing. Other than that, it’s fine.

I would definitely think that’s one of the lower points, but any highlights?

J: Highlights. . . I would say, that one was a highlight, in a way. See, me losing my voice after three songs, giving the guys lyric sheets, and Tommy and Chris taking over and singing the show and me joining in the party whenever I could, so, fucking proud to play with guys who can handle a thing like that and still get the vibe for a Sabaton show. So yeah, I would say, at the same time it was a low point but also a high point. And, I mean, we played Graspop two days ago. Absolutely amazing festival.

It’s a good thing Tommy has those power metal chops!

J: Yes!

Will you have a lot of downtime before your North American tour this Fall?

J: A bit, actually. I know it’s not full now but it will be, anyway. September isn’t that busy yet but, if I know my dear friend and colleague Par, correctly, slowly but surely it’ll fill up. That’s usually how it goes: “Ok, let’s save some time here so we get that time off” and then that’s the time when you have to do all of the other things that you don’t have time to do when you’re touring, so [laughs] you end up going at it anyway!

I’m sure many of us in North America are wondering, is there anything you specifically like or dislike about touring here?

J: Well, I like it a lot, actually! I can’t explain why, but all the places to go on a tour, you know, they’re all different, but it’s mainly Europe and North America that you do nightliner touring. South America you fly to the shows, Russia it’s usually flights or trains, Australia, you fly. [laughs] And I like the whole nightliner thing, it’s always nice to wake up in a new city. You have your bed, which is in the bus, you install whatever, phone charger or small video game screen, whatever you want in there and then you just roll and do heavy metal shows. I really love that. And it’s been a while now since we were on a proper nightline headlining tour so I’m really looking forward to it.

Do you find that the atmosphere is different because you’re not playing arenas or festivals but more one thousand- to a couple thousand-capacity club-sized venues?

J: That helps a lot. I mean, I love that feeling because I’m a bit of a thief. I steal all of my energy from the crowd [laughs] and the further away the crowd is the harder it becomes and it almost feels like I’m playing theater. I mean, I love putting on the big shows and it’s fucking cool, however, it’s harder to keep the energy going, in a way, than if you’re playing up to three, four thousand, which would be the maximum that you can still keep the audience close and you can see people’s faces, all the way to the back.

Yeah, I remember seeing you guys in 2017 in Vancouver and there seemed to be absolutely no shortage of energy from you guys so I’m glad that you have that same commitment to the smaller venues as you do in Europe.

J: Oh, of course! A good rock and roll show can be done on both small and large stages. It’s not about the amount of people there, it’s rather the quality of the people there, both the people on the stage and in the crowd.

I couldn’t agree more. Do you have any favourite cities to visit?

J: Well. . . yeah, several. I like the Northwest a lot, at certain points it feels like home almost. I like the great hiking opportunities, for example, people are really nice, and, yeah, the nature. So from that point of view, I like it. I can’t say I dislike any other place. People have been saying stuff like, “oh, you have a show in this and this place. That’s gonna be a dead one,” maybe it was Boise, Idaho, but we had a great fucking time in Boise, Idaho! [laughs]

Looking forward to the rest of the year, what are you looking forward to the most?

J: It is the US/Canadian Tour, I would say. Absolutely. Because it’s been over a year since we did a proper nightliner tour, we’re coming with Hammerfall, so it’s a Swedish heavy metal invasion. The only thing that’s missing is a bit of Ikea and ABBA, and then you’ve got the whole package. [laughs]

Maybe you’ll manage to string ABBA along!

J: Yeah, somehow we’ll get them in there. No, but it’s for me, the end of the year. I mean, obviously we’re headlining Wacken and we’re doing a very special show there, a longer set and we’re using two stages, not going to go into details because that’s a secret, exactly what we’re doing. And also bringing a choir, so there’s a lot of fun to look forward to, but, personally, I still think that the North American run is gonna be the highlight of the year for me.

I know it’s still early to be thinking about new material, but what kind of topics are you guys considering for future albums? I know that you’ve wanted to do Napoleon and Alexander the Great, for example, for a while, now.

J: Yeah, we haven’t decided yet. We always have, like, between three to five topics at all times in our minds and then, as we get closer and closer to making an album or songwriting time, we narrow down the field. But it’s not something I’d like to talk about because if I make a statement like that and we announce that, “oh, we’re going to do this,” and it turns out we’re not doing it a lot of people will get angry and pissed off, especially these days, so I have found out it’s better not to give away any such information. Not because I want to be secretive, but I don’t want to make people sad if they really liked the topic that we were kind of planning on doing and then we chose not to for one reason or another. They’ll be disappointed with us, and I don’t want that.

I can definitely understand that. Do you think you’d ever potentially do an album of ancient history rather than modern history to creatively free you guys up a little more?

J: That’s absolutely possible. We’ve been looking into older stuff. It’s harder, though, because the further back you go, the more you go into myth and legend. In a way that’s liberating, but you don’t have to go far back at all to go to the times that even the regular soldiers could not read or write. So, what you have is the writings of commanders and they wanna look good [laughs] so they write propaganda. So it’s really nice to be in somewhat-modern history because you are working more with facts than with legends. There is so much interesting history in our ancient past, the problem there is sorting out legend from history, I guess.

Aside from World War I and II, what would you say interests you the most?

J: Oh! I mean, it’s different all the time. I’m not only interested in military history, I like history, period. But, you know, let’s say, art history would not be a good match for heavy metal, so [laughs] we figured that Sabaton is for military history! All of the emotioinal spectrum that we have in our music, it could be aggression, pride, joy, all of these elements that are in that emotional spectrum of our music is also in military history. 

But, right now I’m into, well, mostly the Cold War, actually, and all the proxy wars that happened and the spy games behind the scenes, and the space race, of course.

That is an interesting period. So much going on behind the scenes! All right, well, I think that pretty much covers everything I wanted to talk to you about. Thank you so much for your time, Joakim!

J: Yes, thank you for the good interview. I enjoyed it!

The Great War is set to release on 19 July under Nuclear Blast. If you want to preorder the album, check out tour dates, or see what’s new with Sabaton, you can find all of that on their >>website<<!

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Desert Make New Album Announcement

Hailing from Israel, power metal warriors Desert have announced their third album. Fortune Favors the Brave will be available on 30 July.

It’s been four years since Desert released their last album. While no single for Fortune Favors the Brave has been released yet, the band have made the following statement as to what to expect:
“Fortune Favors the Brave is 50 minutes of pure War Metal, with adrenalin-fueled riffs, nasty distorted keyboards, and fist-raising, sing-along choruses. Inspired by heroic deeds of war, the songs are the perfect soundtrack for battle!
Still, the album is dynamic, with atmosphere-building moments, just like silence builds tension before the storm…

01. Fix Bayonets!
02. Sons Of War
03. Operation Thunderbolt
04. Fortune Favors The Brave
05. My Black Flag
06. Hajduk’s Revenge
07. I Gave You A Kingdom
08. We Were Soldiers
09. Blood On The Sand
10. Symbol To Believe

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Sabaton Release Titular Track Of The Great War

Swedish heavy metal heroes Sabaton have released the third single and titular track to the upcoming The Great War. Complete with a booming rhythm section, choirs, and a deliberately aggressive sound, it’s exactly what I want in a Sabaton song.

Sabaton – The Great War (Nuclear Blast)

As someone who’s had the good fortune of hearing the album already, I can tell you that it’s absolutely fucking killer, which is pretty typical of Sabaton, I suppose.

I also had the honour of interviewing the band’s Joakim Broden a few days for The Metal Observer, which you can check out here until it’s up on this site in a few days.

The Great War will arrive on 19 July.

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Moonlight Haze – De Rerum Natura Review

Score9.5/10
GenreSymphonic Power Metal
CountryItaly
Runtime49:07
Release Date21 June 2019
Record LabelScarlet

Sick of having the same shitty female fronted metal experience over and over and over and over (and over) again? Me too. And, this year has had no shortage of them. Hell, this month alone has thrown six of them at me already. Don’t let it ruin your summer, though, because Moonlight Haze deliver a fucking killer debut.

Formed by ex-Temperance members Chiara Tricarico and Giulio Capone 2018, Moonlight Haze is a symphonic metal project that combines the talents of musicians from Elvenking, Sound Storm, and Epica to create a melodic, emotionally dynamic, technically-pleasing work of female fronted metal that stands high above your typical Delain or Nightwish ripoff.

Right off the get go we’re greeted with chugging riffs, driving orchestrations, and climbing synth lines to let you know exactly what De Rerum Natura is about. Every arrangement is a ton of fun, and it manages to combine elements of folk, jazz, techno, and various vocal styles to create its own, unique brand of symphonic power metal. I’m painfully aware of how many bands claim to have their own “unique brand of symphonic power metal”, but this is on a whole other level.

One of the better examples of this experimental approach is ‘Dark Corners of Myself’; it begins with epic string and keyboards and has some thoughtful pulled back sections, straight heavy metal verses, choirs, clean and operatic female vocals, a furious neoclassical guitar solo, Chinese folk instruments, and even a Latin bossa interlude. But, despite all of these different pieces, there’s not a moment when it sounds messy and it flows as smoothly as the tamer songs on the album.

As far as favourites go for me, it’s im-fucking-possible for me to narrow it down, because there are so many things I love about this album. Chiara’s vocal performance is incredible, with the highlight being in ‘Ad Astra’ where she unleashes absolute hellfire in the prechorus. Right beside her is the talented Giulio, who takes over both the keyboards and drums. As far as the songs themselves, one of my many favourites is the closer, ‘Goddess’, which sounds a bit like something from Dark Moor’s Elisa Martin days, but minus the head-splitting virtuoso power.

So, yeah. This is probably my favourite symphonic album of the year so far. There’s not a thing I dislike about it and, even though I’m not nearly done with this record, I’ll be happy to see what they come up with next!

Moonlight Haze – Ad Astra (Scarlet)

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New Single From Italian Proggers Mind Key

Taken from their upcoming album, Mk III – Aliens in Wonderland, Mind Key have released ‘Hank (Burning Eyes)’. The melodic, riff-heavy album will be available on 12 July via Frontiers Music.

Mind Key – Hank (The Blazing Eyes) (Frontiers)

After ten years of inactivity, Mind Key are ready to deliver an addictive power prog comeback that’s just as eccentric as Aliens in Wonderland‘s cover art.

01. Alien in Wonderland
02. Hank (The Blazing Eyes)
03. Hate at First Sight
04. Angry Men
05. Hands Off Cain
06. Be-Polar
07. Oblivion
08. Psycho World
09. Vertigo (Where the Cold Wind Blows)
10. Pure He/Art
11. Non-Existence

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Majesty – Legends Review

Score4/10
GenreHeavy/Power Metal
CountryGermany
Runtime49:14
Release Date28 June 2019
Record LabelNapalm

Yikes.

That’s never a good sign, is it? Beginning a review with “yikes”? I usually wouldn’t begin a criticism of an album with something like that, but this is one of the very few cases that I am actually able to summarize an entire album in one word! So, if you feel like taking my word for it, you can just read that first paragraph and gain all of the knowledge that you need about Majesty’s Legends. Pretty much everything else below is just reinforcing that statement.

All jokes aside, despite being the ninth album of a band that’s been around since 97, Legends sounds like an amateur debut album. It’s painfully repetitive and predictable to the point where I probably zoned out every two minutes and had to relisten to songs way too many fucking times. Seriously, this shit is burned into my head right now. The simplistic song structures, boring melodies, and overall lack of effort are simply embarassing.

Now, before I begin to tear this album to shreds, I’ll get the positives out there. The biggest thing I like in Legends are the guitar solos. They’re actually really good and, if they were surrounded by good songs or background parts, they’d make for some memorable moments. The solos are what prevent this album from being unsalvageable. The mixing is also really balanced, so bonus points there. That’s about the extent of it, though. The bandmembers all play well enough but the vocals could use a bit of work in the passion department. Some of the songs begin promising, but end up succumbing to their overt pop influence, wearing out the introductions’ short welcomes.

To clarify, a heavy pop influence isn’t enough in itself turn me off of an album. Just recently, Chaos Magic released their sophomore album, Furyborn, and that was super poppy. But, it was also a quality fucking metal album. Hell, even my favourite bands like Sabaton and Battle Beast are chorus-driven and commercially accessible and, when compared to other metal bands, fairly poppy. But, they’re charismatic, talented, and manage to build a musical fortress around a often-simplistic foundation.

The problem with Legends is mainly the execution. The melodies aren’t catchy; they’re way too repetitive and end up irritating me rather than making me want to sing along. The songs are also structured so plainly and fail to deliver an impact of any sort.

And these things don’t even hold a candle to the unholy auto-tuned nightmare that is ‘Words of Silence’. Seriously, what in the fuck even is this? Is it 2009? Because this song makes me feel like I’m about to get rejected at my middle school Halloween dance by the most popular girl on the volleyball team. And, that weird pseudo-rap that comes out of absolutely nowhere around the two minute mark surprised me in the worst of ways. I could have lived my life happily without ever knowing this song existed. But now I’ve heard it. And now I’m sad.

I really tried to like this album. But instead of delivering a cheesy, melodic, and anthemic metal record with sick guitar solos, Majesty have missed the mark entirely in this pop metal letdown.

Majesty – We Are Legends (Napalm)

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Solos are pretty good.
Predictable, repetitive.

‘Words of Silence’ what in the holy fuck is this autotuned ballad? Is this 2009? Because I feel like I’m about to get rejected by a girl at the Halloween dance. 2:00 what even is that pseudo rap?

Last track

Sonata Arctica Announce New Album

In the metal world, there are certain bands that need no introduction; for us power metal diehards, names like DragonForce, Stratovarius, and Sabaton are more-or-less household names at this point. We all know who they are, we all pretty much know how long they’ve been around, and we all have a rough idea of their discography.

So, when I tell you, the internet community, that Sonata Arctica have announced a new album, I hardly need to tell you who they are. They’re classic power metal, and that’s that.

Anyway, their new album, titled Talviyo, is set to come out on 6 September under Nuclear Blast. Along with the announcement is the album’s first single: ‘A Little Less Understanding’.

Sonata Arctica – A Little Less Understanding (Nuclear Blast)

The band is confident that Talviyo will feature some career highlights. They have also expressed pride in the album having a more live sound, and promise that it will me musically consistent with their previous two releases while also including more experimental qualities.

Go give Sonata Arctica a follow on Facebook to keep up with the new album developments!

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Astralium Tease Debut Album

Fresh out of Italy, female fronted symphonic outfit Astralium have announced that their debut album, Land of Eternal Dreams, will be released on 23 August via Rockshots Records internationally, and Spiritual Beast in Japan.

There’s no single to enjoy yet, but you can catch a glimpse of what’s to come in the album trailer below.

Astralium – Land of Eternal Dreams (Rockshots)

Astralium were formed in 2014 by vocalist Roberta Pappalardo and bassist Guiseppe Pappalardo. The band has gone through numerous lineup changes and even a namechange since then, but they’re powered on and are finally ready to release their debut.

Go support these newcomers by liking them on Facebook!

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Vanden Plas Announce New Album

Today has been busy for Frontiers Music! Along with The Ferrymen’s new album announcement, German prog veterans Vanden Plas have also announced a new album for 11 October.

Entitled The Ghost Xperiment: Awakening, the album will be the first of a two-part concept. There’s no single to revel in just yet, but get a load of that album artwork. Holy shit.

01. Cold December Night
02. The Phantoms Of Prends-Toi-Garde
03. Three Ghosts
04. Devils’ Poetry
05. Fall From The Skies
06. The Ghost Xperiment

Vanden Plas have been around the metal scene since the mid-80s, but their lineup has remained unchanged for its entirety (which, for a metal band, is a pretty fucking stellar achievement). As such, the band’s sound has only gotten better over time, so expect big things from Awakening!

While the album is unavailable for preorder as of yet, you can check out their store for a special box set, called ‘The Epic Works: 1991-2015’, as well as other special releases, here.
And, as always, go give them a follow on Facebook!

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