Day four and already there’s been tears, fights, bloodied faces and threats of expulsion, oh and England fans showing the Democrats in Nevada, USA what real chair throwing looks like! What a wonderful spectacle this is! Onwards, ever onwards….
GAME EIGHT: SPAIN vs CZECH REPUBLIC
CRYSTAL MOORS vs QUERCUS
Crystal Moors are a pagan/celtic black metal act from Santander and manage to balance the folk elements with the metal elements without either overpowering each other and allowing for some great songs to emerge, leaving the listener very happy indeed.
Quercus are a new band to me, playing funeral doom metal with some avant-garde touches. Their latest album, Heart With Bread, opens with a 22-minute track and ends with a cover of Robert Burns’ ‘My Heart Is In The Highlands’. The whole album is superb; lots of prog-ish moments; think Vincent Crane-meets Peter Gabriel-era Genesis but way slower. Oh, the metal is there most definitely: the riffs are huge, the atmosphere is doom-laden and the organ is the most prevalent instrument throughout.
PREDICTION: Current holders Spain kick off their defence of the trophy with a tough match against a talented Czech Republic side, who won in 1976 (as Czechoslovakia) and reached the quarter-finals in 2012. It’ll be a good game and ultimately a draw 1-1.
Musically, although Crystal Moors are a great folk/metal band and a cut above most acts in the genre, Quercus win this one simply because their album is one of the best I’ve heard all year. Still going to check out Crystal Moors at a later date.
GAME NINE: REP OF IRELAND vs SWEDEN
LADY MAGGOT vs HEAD OF THE DEMON
Lady Maggot (such a nice name) are a gothic/progressive death metal duo based in Dublin, Ireland but hailing originally from Poland. This is the kind of European union I can get behind. If you’re missing new material from Madder Mortem (six years since the last album) then you could do a lot worse than give Lady Maggot some time.
Head of the Demon mix doom and black metal motifs with nods to occult rock acts like Jess and the Ancient Ones mixed with Mortuary Drape with Tom G. Warrior-esque vocals to produce a pretty damn fine listening experience. More occult rock/metal than metal but still great all the same.
PREDICTION: ZLATAN! ZLATAN! ZLATAN! Can you guess who I’m picking? Sweden 3-1
Musically, I’m inclined to go for Head of the Demon over Lady Maggot. No real reason, it’s just there is something about the occult rock riffs of HotD that speak to me.
GAME TEN: BELGIUM vs ITALY
ELEANORA vs MESSA
Shouty sludge-y post hardcore from the land of chocolate, beer and fat cat politicians. The soundtrack to overthrowing the system. Similar to Thou etc. Good stuff indeed!
2016 is shaping up to be a stellar year for metal and Italy’s Messa are continuing that trend of excellent debut albums. Bluesy occult doom (with touches of ambient and drone) with enchanting female vocals that will have you cavorting naked in the woods on the next full moon.
PREDICTION: For some reason, I believe this will be the game of the tournament so far. I know, it doesn’t have too much competition but both teams have pedigree and this is one of the best Belgium sides since the 80’s. If the Belgiums score first then it will force the Azzurri to come out and play (to quote Dee Snider). However, the longer it goes scoreless, the more chance Italy will sneak a goal and snuff out the game. Errmmmmmm………3-2 Belgium (he types optimistically)
Musically, Messa take this one with their blend of occult doom rock/metal. See you on the next full moon (clothing optional)