23.7.15

Symphony X - Underworld (2015)

Finally the 9th studio album of Symphony X is here. Will this be their masterpiece ninth symphony? Songs like Nevermore and Without You that prior released give much hope to fans that it will be. The two songs package into the album called "Underworld", heavily influence by Dante's Inferno. This album follow very much the same works done by Symphony X from their two previous albums, Paradise Lost and Iconoblast. Although the gap between Iconoblast and Underworld is four years away, meaning there must be a lot of fresh idea to put in.

After the majestic "Overture", the first opener is "Nevermore". This song kicks in quickly with its leading riff, rightly jump into the progressive metal that Symphony X very much owned. It is heavy, fast and dark. Russel Allen's voice is kind of harsh to give some death metal touch. Gradually they move back to more melodic song such as "Underworld" and most notably in "Without You". Where the later is done much in old time power to melodic metal approach. The next two songs come almost similar, "Kiss of Fire" and "Charon", Symphony X enjoy their style in these two, which is characterized with strong guitar riffs then followed with progressive improvisation by the band. Another interesting point is definitely in "To Hell And Back". This one is nine minutes long, start with epic power metal feel, all the way to the most complicated song writing of the album.

Underworld is pretty much predictable for die hard fans, but it is also will not disappointing anybody because it is good and well written. The album consistent with Symphony X musical progress, no nasty surprise about the band experimenting something, well a bit but not much. With most of the members doing their own stuffs during their four years gap, this album is a good show that everybody still coming back to their own band's style. This album can easily presented to new fans who eager to seek out what progressive metal and Symphony X in particular.

Favorite tracks: Without You, To Hell And Back
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Symphony X - Underworld (2015)

01. Overture
02. Nevermore
03. Underworld
04. Without You
05. Kiss of Fire
06. Charon
07. To Hell And Back
08. In My Darkest Hour
09. Run With The Devil
10. Swan Song
11. Legend

    Jason Rullo – drums
    Michael Lepond − bass guitar, backing vocals
    Michael Pinnella − keyboards, backing vocals
    Michael Romeo − guitar, backing vocals
    Russell Allen − lead vocals


19.7.15

Joe Satriani - Shockwave Supernova (2015)

He is one of most celebrated rock guitar instrumentalist of our age, Joe Satriani, has reach his 15th studio album with Shockwave Supernova. Although Satch begin his journey 30 years ago in the '80s, his music seems keep coming and coming. Unstoppable Moments as he describe in his previous album. In Shockwave Supernova a new concept introduce, and re-introduce. Shockwave Supernova as explained by Satch in the Youtube, Behind the Album episodes, are mostly materials taken from Unstoppable Moments. They are rewrite by  the moment Joe Satriani stopover in Singapore. One of other things that very interesting about S.S. is the backing band. Satch recruited the Aristocrats to back him up! Well, minus Guthrie Govan, only (Guthrie actually got his part in G4 tour organized by Joe). Marco Minnemann and Brian Beller are new gun to Joe, they are joined by long time Mike Keneally to form a new super band. The result quickly come to the surface, as the album sees many new ideas that harder to find in previous album.

Already the first song,  Shockwave Supernova, see the new sound coming in. This entrance song highlight is about the classic arpeggios-theme licks backed with Marco's progressive drummings. Satch still very much own his game with immediately Lost in a Memory, which is easily identified by fans with his Satch-style leading melody. There are 15 songs in this album. Those who traditionally attached to Joe Satriani, I can mentioned out are: In My Pocket, a satch-bogie one, San Francisco Blue, old timer bluesy tunes, and the flag ship song, If There Is No Heaven, brings us back to the standard Satriani's "catchy" simple drum beat. The other songs, we see many some fresh ideas. Its begin with Crazy Joe, where Marco got his first "difficult" task to handle the guitar that start with scattered blues lick to 16th notes. Marco's drumming come more frontal in On Peregrine Wings, where the double snare accent become the main theme on that song. While Mike Keneally got his keyboard highlight in Keep On Movin', although the main theme is kind of re-cycled old Satriani song we have listened in the past. Other interesting stuff keep coming, All Of My Life is pretty sweet all out mellow song in term of band playing, the percussion quite distinguished here. A Phase I'm Going Through see that reaching tenth song didn't mean the song writing become lessened in quality, in fact this song see another good song writing stuff that force us to listen it up to the end.

In short, this is a stunning album from Joe. This album benefit from intense song writing and backed with so much energy from Marco, Brian and Mike. The cliche about music chemistry is surely there. Hard to find one specific song that stand out because they all do. This album surely come above expectation. We can say that Joe Satriani's style is predictable, ehem, this album still easy to see that happened, but now with lot of details that make those familiar tunes become really awesome to revisited. Bring this one to your music station and let the Professor show us how the amazing things about guitar to be done.

Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Joe Satriani - Shockwave Supernova (2015)

01. Shockwave Supernova
02. Lost In A Memory
03. Crazy Joey
04. In My Pocket
05. On Peregrine Wings
06. Cataclysmic
07. San Francisco Blue
08. Keep On Movin'
09. All Of My Life
10. A Phase I'm Going Through
11. Scarborough Stomp
12. Butterfly And Zebra
13. If There Is No Heaven
14. Stars Race Across The Sky
15. Goodbye Supernova


    Joe Satriani – guitar
    Mike Keneally – guitar, keyboard
    Marco Minnemann – drums
    Bryan Beller – bass
    John Cuniberti - producer

10.7.15

Paul Wardingham - The Human Affliction (2015)

The Human Affliction is a continuation of the themes that inspired Assimilate Regenerate....

Is the premise for the 2nd Paul Wardingham studio album, The Human Affliction. As we all know, Paul Wardingham is Australian shredder that took the world by storm with his futuristic licks in the debut album Assimilate Regenerate in 2011. Going strong with that released, Paul then hailed as one of the latest young shredder wave alike of Andy James, Christian Muenzner, and others. His second album was await by many. In this July, Paul will delivered his second album, although it is obviously a continuation to the previous one, this new one got more boost on electronic stuffs.

The album started with quite melodious "Manufactured Existence". Running in the progressive metal platform, this is all-in shreds that showcase highly dynamic song writing. It is five minutes composition but the licks flows, connecting each passage giving many unexpected turn of events every several bars. The second track is "Beyond Human", that gone more aggressive with a laser blast-like elements. Enjoy the dark futuristic theme that done by guitar leads, despite everything seems "beyond human", the melodic is fore fronted and easy to follow. Paul also reserved a slower tempo track with haunting melancholic melodic in "The End is the Beginning". With all the electronic infused licks swirling around, a track like "Earth 2.0" is a contrasting point that changed the storyline.

Overall, The Human Affliction is an album full of outer space theme licks. Paul can be given a big round applause for his effort in putting everything in perfect writing and formed a very solid conceptual album, an instrumental guitar album. The atmosphere  kicks in since the first note being played, consistently put listener to the journey of whatever chapter Paul want us to be in. This is the album that combined metal guitar and some kind of dubstep's electronic creativity. In this respect, Paul runs on his own invented style very well. To have this journey, pre-order the long awaited new album now!

Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Paul Wardingham - The Human Affliction (2015)

1. Manufactured Existence
2. Beyond Human
3. Synthetic Mind
4. The End is the Beginning
5. Convergence
6. Digital Apocalypse
7. Earth 2.0
8. Simulated Reality
9 . Destroy The Artilect
10 . Exodus
11. Burning Chrome


23.6.15

The Aristocrats - Tres Caballeros (2015)

Being success with their first album, Culture Crash (2013), these happy guys in The Aristocrats has pulled out their second studio album called (the) Tres Caballeros. Based on their album cover we may feel that the trio is very happy and enjoy much time jamming together. Not much rock band want to proclaimed their togetherness as solid as Disney's classic trio. As reminder, The Aristocrats is super talented band with Guthrie Govan on guitar, Bryan Beller bass and Marco Minneman drum. The GGBBMM is going to blow everyone's mind with their blazing progressive madness.

Tres Caballeros is direct continuation on Culture Crash with new 9 tracks of creative musics. Stupid 7 is begin with chicken picking-like riffs, the main melody see Guthrie experiment with some ugly over compressed distortion. The song is typical rock-funk-flamenco feel, understandably this is the flamenco orientated album. Another crazy catching tunes is in Texas Crazypants, with Texan and cowboys in your background imagination as listening to this. Of the mellow, "easy-listening" song is Pig's Day Off, sweet clean guitar melody around. Smuggler's Corridor is simple Latin infused progression , the band wrapped it nicely and provide us a vibrant sunshine feel. The Kentucky Meat Shower is a shower of country licks, another style that explored in this album. The album then closed with 11 minutes jam, Through The Flower is kind of back to ordinary shred guitar of the '80s.

Overall Tres Caballeros seems like a tune down of a lot of complicated thing and they offer more relax to stuffs. Focusing on Spanish theme, this album is one unique idea in the field of guitar instrumental album. Bryan Beller and Marco is the other three half of the band. Nothing much to be added except that they enjoy high time creating backing track for Guthrie to laid down his melody. Of course those are not ordinary supporter with two most talented guy on board. Final words, the tres caballeros is going to volar tu mente !

Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

The Aristocrats - Tres Caballeros (2015)

01. Stupid 7
02. Jack s Back
03. Texas Crazypants
04. ZZ Top
05. Pig s Day Off
06. Smuggler s Corridor
07. Pressure Relief
08. The Kentucky Meat Shower
09. Through The Flower

Line Up:
guitarist Guthrie Govan (Steven Wilson, Asia/GPS)
bassist Bryan Beller (Joe Satriani, Dethklok)
drummer Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani)

21.6.15

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus

Would there be any room for new invention in symphonic metal, after two Rhapsody bands keep pulling out albums years after years? Luca Turilli is trying to prove this possibility once again. In his version of Luca Turilli's Rhapsody, new term has been coined out, Cinematic Metal. His first attempt in Ascending to Infinity was quite extravaganza , but by the standard of Rhapsody, it was just a little further continuation of their symphonic-metal legacy. Prometheus, is almost similar to their previous "debut". Only that now, Luca Turilli put giant orchestration works into his neo-classical metal, much much more than ever before. The cinematic metal that is, has more obvious bombastic than his "predecessor" Hollywood-metal. So you can imagine what come next.

First, listen to the traditionally opener, Nova Genesis (Ad Splendorem Angeli Triumphantis) is the first stone of this new idea. More operatic singer in the high set composition that have techno-synth and many many orchestra hits inside. Il Cigno Nero come up next as their first full song. Unusual to their tradition, it is open with piano intro. The song itself is quite generic Rhapsodian song. Rosenkreuz (The Rose And The Cross) is techno infused combined with Gregorian chant thing. The dynamic vocal arrangements still dominated the whole composition. More cinematic opening in the third song, Anahata, now that we will miss the old Luca Turilli's guitar riff already since all three songs have less guitar works. With the fourth song also emphasized more in vocals works mimicking Verdi's opera and a song title such as  Il Tempo Degli Dei, we are desperately need a heavy stuff. One Ring To Rule Them All can be quite a relief in term of that, since the this is one of their heaviest tunes in this album. The rest of song did not help much, Prometheus is their early release and we have listen to it. Fantastic song in term of rich orchestration, but as many may compliant, the lyrics is very Da Vinci code and hard to crack the meaning. As usual the pinnacle of the album is their last song. Of Michael The Archangel and Lucifer's Fall Part II: Codex Nemesis, that's the first part already known in their debut album.

This album said it all about Luca Turilli. The maestro keep pushing the symphonic metal into the jungle of cinematic and score-like composition. Indeed, Prometheus is amazing display of that. The most difficult part for Rhapsodian fans, and symphonic metal listener would be around three issues: First. the reduce of guitar virtuoso and riffs, which was once Rhapsody best trademark feature. Secondly is the obvious repetitive and recycle of ideas, which is also their hardest things to crack regarding new Rhapsody album. Third, is the lyrics and story telling part. As we know, classic Rhapsody albums all have original concept that hardly can be repeat. In Prometheus, the lyric is intentionally encrypted, and for symphonic metal situation, this may not working. Nevertheless, the album will provide many ideas for those looking for inspiration upon scoring and metal combined together. Obviously, Luca Turilli still working his best for fans in his music.

Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus 

01. Nova Genesis (Ad Splendorem Angeli Triumphantis)
02. Il Cigno Nero
03. Rosenkreuz (The Rose And The Cross)
04. Anahata
05. Il Tempo Degli Dei
06. One Ring To Rule Them All
07. Notturno
08. Prometheus
09. King Solomon And The 72 Names Of God
10. Yggdrasil
11. Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifer's Fall Part II: Codex Nemesis
    1 - Codex Nemesis Alpha Omega
    2 - Symphonia Ignis Divinus (The Quantum Gate Revealed)
    3 - The Astral Convergence
    4 - The Divine Fire Of The Archangel
    5 - Of Psyche And Archetypes (System Overloaded)
12. Thundersteel [digipack bonus] [Cinematic version]

Alessandro Conti - vocals
Luca Turilli - guitars, keyboards
Dominique Leurquin - guitars
Alex Landenburg - drums
Patrice Guers - bass

Guest musicians
Dan "Fucking" Lucas - vocals
David Readman - vocals
Ralf Scheepers - vocals

Additional info
Recorded and mixed by Sebastian Roeder.
Mastered by Christoph Stickel.

2.6.15

Paradise Lost - The Plague Within (2015)

The guys in Paradise Lost did it again. Just when old timer fans enjoyed their semi "back-to-root" album, Tragic Idol (2012), the band changed their steer once again. Their 14th studio album called The Plague Within is yet another album that going to plague the fans-base with like it or hate it debate. The good news is, this new album still contained faint trace of their root from Draconian Times era. The reality is, majority of the materials is new sounds.

The first noticeable thing is the changes of vocals. Right from "No Hope In Sight", Nick Holmes has decided to put in heavier growl. Yes, as you heard it everywhere else, the vocals now is deathmetal-like. The song and ambiance itself can be said remained Paradise Lost in their '90s era, and some quite close to actually. "Terminal" is something of their catchy tunes. Stormy drums since the start. Once again it is the growl vocals that need to get adjusted by old timers. "An Eternity Of Lies" is where lies more new stuff. This one comes with almost equal division between growling and clean vocals. Something fits more correctly in their post-Draconian Times stuff. On their most dooming moment in the album, comes "Beneath Broken Earth" where the beat is doom slow. "Sacrifice The Flame" itself in turn, most mellow one, with cello sound and tragic sounding sings. The other surprise is in "Cry Out", they changed guitar distortion sounds too, to accommodate a more 'bluesy' riff in doom-death metal environment. There are still few bunch of songs where the band do their latest invention doom metal in the rest of album.

The Plague Within didn't sounds like the exact continuation from Tragic Idol. Where their previous seems like the resurrection of Paradise Lost classic era, The Plague Within is one more about creativity power. Once again die hard fans need to appreciated range of new ideas fit into their beloved Paradise Lost's doom metal. Objectively, there is enough old time stuff to celebrated, as in the first two songs. The rest is potential explored stuff, with bigger musical context.

Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Paradise Lost - The Plague Within (2015)

1. No Hope In Sight
2. Terminal
3. An Eternity Of Lies
4. Punishment Through Time
5. Beneath Broken Earth
6. Sacrifice The Flame
7. Victim Of The Past
8. Flesh From Bone
9. Cry Out
10. Return To The Sun
11. Fear Of Silence (bonus track, Deluxe Box format)
12. Never Look Away (bonus track, Deluxe Box format)
13. Victim Of The Past (orchestra version) (bonus track)

Paradise Lost members:
Gregor Mackintosh - guitars
Aaron Aedy - guitars
Stephen Edmondson - bass
Nick Holmes - vocals
Adrian Erlandsson - drums

29.5.15

Helloween - My God-Given Right (2015)

In 1985 Helloween released Walls of Jericho. Together with immediately Keeper of The Seven Keys I & II , this trilogy formed the very basic of power metal repertoire.  Some may said that everything else are just derivative of them. Die hard fans will divided them into Kai Hansen-era , who involved in all these album. The history saw Helloween gone through Kiske-era, then Deris-era and they are just respectively different to each other. 30 years has gone by, and Helloween is now sit safely as legendary band. The good news is the guys still consistently productive till this days. My God-Given Right (2015), is yet another new album by Helloween. Wikipedia marked this as the "first time the band releases five studio album with the same line up". The band is pretty solid in their later day too. Looking at the cover art, Andi Deris said this is the first cover art that less colorful than any other Helloween cover art previously. Something new from the old band's kitchen?

My God-Given Right is one of Helloween's album that has strong theme as almost a concept album. Major theme in the album is about future apocalypse, an old stuff recycled yet again. Musically speaking, this is the continuation of later day Helloween, quite consistent from their last five albums, a must be so. "Heroes" is the starter song.  The intro riffs is quite heavy and run in progressive-like scale rather than melodic power metal. When Andi Deris starts the song, the aroma of Helloween is immediately spread to the air. No doubt the song fits in Helloween, more precise the 2000s era of Helloween. "Battle's Won" to follow. This one is has more "happy" sound, with theatrical intro. The choruses still typically Helloween, something reminiscence of Mission Motherland. "My God-Given Right" is the closest point in the album to connected with oldies classic. The first couple bar of the song is the tribute of Power. Not sure about the anomaly in "Stay Crazy", where the intro is something like Iron Maidenesque bass line. Indeed this song in contrast quite different from typical Helloween, so something fresh to listen.

"Lost In America" is then to bring us back to power metal. Together in Battle's Won, these two songs released earlier as the singles. It brings back simple power metal with twin galloping guitars. "Russian Roule" is more of whammy guitar works in the intro. Song is again untypically Helloween. "The Swing Of A Fallen World" is darker mid tempo song, already heard since The Dark Ride era. Through the last album released two years ago, My God-Given Right is fully packed with 16 songs. The later material notable mentioned is "If God Loves Rock 'N' Roll", well, typical Helloween playing the God-theme song. "You, Still Of War", a long seven minutes song that also reminded us to A Tale That Wasn't Right feel. The rest are compilation of interesting ideas that maybe little to connect with the thirty years ago Helloween.

In any case, all songs infused with very high technical playing. Helloween surely not lessened their armor of licks after 30 years of practice. In fact, their music seems rising in complicity. Not a surprise since 30 years ago Keeper of the Seven Keys thirteen minutes composition is the epic works unparalleled by their contemporary. My God-Given Right is brand new Helloween album, material are mixed from old classic recreated , up to new fresh idea. Another meet the expectation released by the pumpkin guys.

Favorite tracks:
Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Helloween - My God-Given Right (2015)

01. Heroes
02. Battle's Won
03. My God-Given Right
04. Stay Crazy
05. Lost In America
06. Russian Roulé
07. The Swing Of A Fallen World
08. Like Everybody Else
09. Creatures In Heaven
10. If God Loves Rock 'N' Roll
11. Living On The Edge
12. Claws
13. You, Still Of War
14. I Wish I Were There (Bonus Track)
15. Wicked Game (Bonus Track)
16. Free World (Bonus Track)

    Andi Deris – lead vocals
    Michael Weikath – lead and rhythm guitars
    Sascha Gerstner – lead and rhythm guitars
    Markus Grosskopf – bass
    Daniel Löble – drums

Production

    Charlie Bauerfeind - production
    Martin Häusler - cover art


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