12.11.16

Freedom Call - Master of Light (2016)

They were described as flower metal, happy metal by audiences. Freedom Call had been in this territory ever since their first debut in 1999. Since then, the band had released nine albums, Master of Light is their latest in 2016. Master Of Light falls right between this category as well. Songs are as pompous as ever. In the meantime, Chris Bay and friends try to insert fresh elements also.

In mastering the flower metal, the album first track "Metal is for Everyone" is really  for every (flower) metal lover. The song is grander with their bold opening chorus. This tune can be line up to any Freedom Call catalog and fans will not divided between Trump or Hillary to called this their trademark. As mentioned before, the band try their best to bring new ideas. The percussion-like interlude in the middle is kind of strong idea in this effort. "Hammer of Gods" started with melodic intro, typical to their arsenal. The formula with catchy chorus line is the best way to start another boastful tune, as in "A World Beyond". For the title song "Masters of Light", the band decided to start calmly. Yet they always find a way in bringing the storm to the daylight. Another melodic intro is for "Kings Rise and Fall". "Cradle of Angels" is acoustic ballad in spirit. The remaining of the song notable to mentioned is in "Ghost Ballet". "Rock the Nation" is a flower-ed rock tune.

Master Of Light is another flowery delivery from Freedom Call. The whole package can be sing together with good old friends and beers, as all songs are design to be enjoyed in this situation. Chris Bay sings as epic as before. The guitar works is more simple compared to their "younger" years, yet sufficient to metalized everything. We still enjoy the works of two long-time friends of Freedom Call, Lars Rettkowitz in guitars and Ramy Ali in drum. Compared to their two last albums,  Master of Light is unchanged in their retorika will full of "for everyone..." words. Talking about band consistency, Freedom Call is one of that band that happy with their direction. In short, Master of Light is another touchdown continuation in Freedom Call world.

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

Freedom Call - Master Of Light  (2016)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Metal is for Everyone
2. Hammer of Gods
3. A World Beyond
4. Masters of Light
5. Kings Rise and Fall
6. Cradle of Angels
7. Emerald Skies
8. Hail the Legend
9. Ghost Ballet
10. Rock the Nation
11. Riders in the Sky
12. High Up

Chris Bay (vocals, guitars)
Ilker Ersin (bass)
Lars Rettkowitz (guitars )
Ramy Ali (drums)

5.11.16

Narnia - Narnia (2016) Album Review

There was a moment in Christian metal world where several bands co-exist together. The bands that storming this area included, Rob Rock, Impellitteri, Golden Resurrection, Divinefire, ReinXeed (although they are not really a christian metal band), further to German Pascua band. Along this cross breeding cage, there are two musicians Carl Johann Grimmark and vocalist Christian Liljegren. Both had been around the Christian metal realm with those bands mentioned above.. Taken a name from the famous C.S.Lewis novel, they found  Narnia and wanted this band to be at least three styles in their veins: progressive , neo-classical and christian metal altogether. History seen them as successful collaboration, releasing several albums that considered ground breaking in the genre : Awakening (1998) up to The Great Fall (2003). The band suddenly disbanded after T.G.F. which considered their best. A quick reunion was found in 2009 and thus born Course of a Generation (2009), but the band taking a step diverted from their previous styles and also Christian step aside as vocalist replaced by German Pascua.

For seven years later, in today 2016, Narnia reunited the two founders, C.J. Grimmark and Christian Liljegren to released their new, seventh studio album self titled Narnia. Narnia 2016 is a returned to their root, progressive christian metal full of shred guitar works. For example the first song "Reaching for the Top" the drum intro almost mimicking their song "Nothing to Lose" from T.G.F. Reaching for the Top  started up with classic four bars guitar riffs then we greet by Christian voices. The song surely set up the elements of Narnia musics : sustained string layers in background, harmony choruses and many muscular progressive power chords. "I Still Believe" is simple melodic metal that easily remember by first time listener and it is, well, very melodic. On "Thank You" the band downgrade the locomotive gears to middle tempo and allowed passenger to enjoy a solemn song that really shine Christian's vocal quality. We also have music video for "Messengers", which a strong song with creative structure, inventive guitar chords and demiurgic song writing.


In speaking about lyric, the Christianity theme is their main inspiration. However a lyrics :
".... man kinds who do you follow,
 maybe He comes tomorrow...."  - Who Do You Follow
is simple yet fit the music well.

In general, Narnia is a strong returned from the band. Song are in extremely high quality. Carl Johann is re-nown guitar virtuoso, his works in this album is in heavenly standard that will satisfy all guitar fans. Is anything, the album is also closely similar to Christian Liljgren other band, Golden Resurrection, just slightly less neo-classical compared to them. If you really into Christian melodic metal, Narnia 2016 is a definitely strong album to have. In short, this is the album for both prog metal, believers and non.

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

Narnia - Narnia (2016)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Reaching for the Top
2. I Still Believe
3. On the Highest Mountain
4. Thank You
5. One Way to the Promised Land
6. Messengers
7. Who Do You Follow?
8. Moving On
9. Set the World On Fire
10. Miracle (bonus)

Christian Liljegren - lead vocals
Carl Johan Grimmark - guitars
Martine Harenstam - keyboards
Andreas Johansson - drums
Andreas Olsson - bass

2.11.16

Hammerfall - Built to Last (2016)

Not long ago as in 20 years ago, in the town of Gothenburg Hammerfall was born. They were built with tarnished catchy metal tunes. The storm of power metal had landed in the Nordic region in good form. Assembled by five grown up long haired dudes, the band invented Hector the Paladin as their band mascot and released their first album. The rest is history, HammerFall is one of band that stand the test of time, consistently delivering album in the spirit of power metal and catchy choruses. Built to Last is their tenth studio album. Almost twenty years ago when Glory to the Brave released. As I listen to this album, I find nothing differentiated them from two decades ago. Songs are full of blasting riffs, galloping beat, solitude ballads and of course the epic choruses.

Songs as "Bring It!", "Hammer High", "Dethrone And Defy" and "Stormbreaker" are extension of HammerFall collection tales about fantasy and battles. Almost every song started with newly acquired guitar riffs. Listen to "New Breed" where the power riff is just a simple pattern. As simple as that funky Japanese guy that combined Pen and Pineapple, a guitar riffs and drum's tom tom power accentuation is equal to awesome power metal catch. There are "The Sacred Vow" and "Twilight Princess" to allow some respiration time for listeners or in other word, the slower ballad tunes.

Built to Last is as ambitious as the title suggest. This album will last a long time because the construction is vigorously loud and HammerFall-ed since the first notes. An album that reflected twenty full year in hammering metal. The album resembled closely to their previous (r)Evolution album so you can got the tutti to imagine. Joacim Cans nailed this album with the same stamina we enjoyed before. His voice is unexampled in the vast universe of power metal that still last up to this album. Take a look at Hector in the front cover, he stands triumphantly on top of the keep. And that is the spirit captured in this album, ten awesome songs that will make you want to climb to the top of the roof and scream "Hammer High until I die!....."

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


Hammerfall - Built to Last (2016)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Bring It!
2. Hammer High
3. The Sacred Vow
4. Dethrone And Defy
5. Twilight Princess
6. Stormbreaker
7. Built to Last
8. The Star of Home
9. New Breed
10. Second to None

    Oscar Dronjak – rhythm guitar, lead guitar, backing vocals
    Fredrik Larsson – bass, backing vocals
    Joacim Cans – lead vocals
    Pontus Norgren – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, backing vocals
    David Wallin – drums



27.10.16

Theocracy - Ghost Ship (2016)

Ghost Ship is Theocracy's long waited third studio album. As we enlightened in 2011, Theocracy burn down the road of mediocre with their album "As the World Bleeds". It is regarded as their breakthrough, the album pulled out lots of epic progressive metal tunes. They can be heard mixing the best elements of power metal, metalcore, thrash metal all the way into one umbrella in progressive metal.  To get it even intrigue, they baptized themself as Christian metal, hence the band's name suggesting. And their Christian themes are the strong one. Ghost Ship is under heavy pressure to get the band moved on from "As the World Bleeds", and the fans wait five years for it.

The wait is certainly worth it. Ghost Ship can be listen straight out of your darkest night and still it will sounds marvelous. There are no important steer turning of styles from their past. The only minor elements missing is their reduction of symphonic metal elements. The first song is "Paper Tiger" confirmed this. Instead of doing slow symphonic build up as in their song "I AM", Paper Tiger starts immediately with drum roll followed by melodic intro. Along five minutes of this song is the elements of power-thrash and progressive metal. Having power choruses is still their biggest selling point. The transition of the 2nd song is smooth, "Ghost Ship" elevated the atmosphere into darker nuances. Once should mentioned Matt Smith's clean singing is one of the trademark in Theocracy's music. "The Wonder of It All" is their faster cut. It is a double guitar riffs, as played by their axeman Val Allen Wood and Jonathan Hinds. Both trying to repeated some monumental ideas from "As the World Bleeds".

Theocracy also fluent in creating power ballad. "Around the World and Black" is their song in moderato time marking. Which leads us to their allegro-presto songs as in "Stir the Embers" and "A Call to Arms", For their finale, it is traditionally longest song, an almost ten minutes "Easter".

Ghost Ship is an album as expected from these amazing talents. Though the album happened to not repeat the ultimate epic as in "As the World Bleeds", all songs can easily absorbed as parts of their fantastic repertoire. Fans of Dream Theater will simply familiar with all their twisted progressive arrangements. Their double guitars added bits of Megadeth also. Theocracy is pacifying all the best to created their own musics. I suggested those who never listened to Theocracy to back cataloged with "As the World Bleeds" to have the best from "Ghost Ship". For longtime fans, the embers is ready to stir!

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


Theocracy - Ghost Ship (2016)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1.Paper Tiger
2.Ghost Ship
3.The Wonder of It All
4.Wishing Well
5. Around the World and Back
6. Stir the Embers
7. A Call to Arms
8. Currency in a Bankrupt World
9. Castaway
10. Easter




Matt Smith-Vocals
Val Allen Wood-Lead Guitar
Jonathan Hinds-Guitar
Jared Oldham-Bass

17.9.16

Kai Hansen - XXX-Three Decades in Metal (2016)

This is indeed a triple XXX rated for metal album. Kai Hansen is the name we should all be known by three decades ago. He was the front man of Helloween. His screaming and fast guitar playing is what transformed Helloween into international pioneer in speed and power metal. Soon after he departed, Kai is forming Gamma Ray, which existed till today with dozen of awesome power metal albums. XXX-Three Decades in Metal sounds like a compilation of his works but it is not. This album is somewhat a solo works by Kai Hansen and invited friends. Here the album compiled together awesome names in metal. He reunited with fellow ex-Helloweeneers such as Michael Kiske and Roland Grapow. He even invited Michael Weikath to do their legendary guitar duet in this album. Apart from that, many names such as Ralf Shceepers, Dee Snider, Tobias Sammet and others appeared on the album.

Overall, surprisingly, this album sounds heavy metal in general. Kai Hansen welcomely explored the straight forward heavy metal and not very much doing his trademark power metal genre he grown up with. The first song "Born Free" is very '80s American hair-metal sounding. It is just awesome guitar riff with fast double metal showering. Kai's voices is what connected us with his identity. On the reunion jamming party, here comes song "Stranger In Time" with Kiske, Sammet, and Frank Beck + Roland Grapow put in together. The song may well put into late Helloween era actually, but again it is a straightforward guitar riff + double kick. On the drumming side, Daniel Wilding is recruited for the party. Looking at his "port folio" we will see he was on board with Carcass, Heaven Shall Burn, Trigger The Booldshed and so on. He is very young and haven't even born when the first two Helloween albums on released.

Some of other, longer, song such as "Fire And Ice" gives the minutes to dedicated soloist Michael Weikath solo part. The songs invited talented young vocalist of Clementine Delauney (Vision of Atlantis), Marcus Bischoff (Heaven Shall Burn) and  Richard Sjunnesson (The Unguided), thus making the song got a bit taste of Gothic Metal and Death Metal altogether. The other highlight songs are "Making Headlines" which is catchy in song writing, minor key feel and Tobias Sammet really shine the song with his voices. My favorite in the album.

Most interesting is Dee Snider collaboration with Kai Hansen in "Contract Sun". We got to hear how's Hansen doing in the '80 metal style that more close to Dee Snider. The other dark side is "Left Behind", where Kai Hansen further delved into modernity, this is like combination of alternative metal with bit of metalcore feel. The album closed with "Follow The Sun", the only song that brings back Kai Hansen to Helloween-ish power metal.

XXX-Three Decades in Metal happened to be awesome offering from Kai Hansen. The songs are all simple, guitar-riff driven and all focused on some easy melodic song writing. Song structure are not complicated, just enough to repeat the highlight and yet that was all needed. The diversity of styles indicated the intention of the writer to experiments and try out all the other metal styles. Well, after three decades this is what some musicians like to do, isn't it? With majority of songs created based on the guest singer style association, the album become potentially able to reach out more listener. Final words, it is a fine album where Kai Hansen sharpening his musical journey with adventurous songs.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Kai Hansen - XXX-Three Decades in Metal (2016)

01. Born Free
02. Enemies Of Fun (Ralf Scheepers & Piet Sielck)
03. Contract Sun (Dee Snider & Steve McT As The Manger)
04. Making Headlines (Tobias Sammet)
05. Stranger In Time (Michael Kiske, Frank Beck, Tobias Sammet & Roland Grapow - Guitar Solo)
06. Fire And Ice (Clementine Delauney, Marcus Bischoff, Richard Sjunnesson & Michael Weikath - Guitar Solo)
07. Left Behind (Alexander Dietz & Clementine Delauney)
08. All Or Nothing (Clémentine Delauney)
09. Burning Bridges (Eike Freese)
10. Follow The Sun (Hansi Kursch & Tim Hansen - Guitar Solo)

Line Up:
Eike Freese - guitar (Dark Age)
Kai Hansen - vocals / guitar (Gamma Ray, Unisonic, ex-Helloween)
Alex Dietz - bass (Heaven Shall Burn)
Daniel Wilding - drums (Carcass, The Soulless, Trigger The Bloodshed)

10.8.16

Mark Wood – Turbow (2016)

Not before long, a variation of shred guitar rock now existed in violin form. Rock violinist Mark Wood has produced several albums in this form before, but his latest album , Turbow, is really going to blew up everyone. Turbow consisted of eight tracks, all full of violin-shred musics. Similar to what Michael Angelo Batio doing with guitar, the electric violin doing just great. Similar to what Lindsey Stirling done in dubstep, or if you remember, Vanessa Mae done in disco just few decades ago, the electric violin now have its own symphonic metal album.

Check the Youtube video relases by Mark before we speaks volume :



That is the opener of this "the most dangerous rock violin album ever".


No kidding, the rest of the songs are indeed in the highest standard of symphonic metal  we usually heard from shred guitarist. The 2nd song "Attitude Adjustment" is the only song featured a vocals. "Inferno" is prog-metal like composition, Its begin with staccato notes.  Mark Wood introduce the theme to make this song as epic as ever. "Wood's Bolero" is another top cut. This one set in flamenco influenced scale. Combined with flashy acoustic guitar, Wood's Bolero is going to set new history as the first record in combining symphonic metal, flamenco, and shred violin. "Fan The Blames" introduced nice violin intro, that show how awesome the fiddle can do in metal environment. A rather "mellow" tune can only found in "LuminoCity", where the violin back to do their best business in melancholy song. "Turbow" is a bit about Mark showing off his solo violin. The album ended with "Labor Of Love", a song that mirror the spirit of '80s hair metal spirit. The violin can do the riff as well.

There are so much energy in this album. The idea of violin in symphonic metal is awesome and Turbow do it in the best way. The only comments is just the violin trying hard to do what the guitar usually do. Nevertheless, Turbow show off many original exercised that typical and only best done with violin. Metal lover will find their beloved music revitalized with addition of violin as their new alternative instruments. Listen to this, seriously.

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

Mark Wood - electric violin
Elijah Wood  - drums
Laura Kaye
Steve Costello - guitars
David Z Rock - bass

Buy it Here - Amazon
Mark Wood – Turbow (2016)

01. Fire ‘n Ice 05:38
02. Attitude Adjustment 07:03
03. Inferno 05:04
04. Wood’s Bolero 04:15
05. Fan The Flames 06:08
06. LuminoCity 04:47
07. Turbow 05:38
08. Labor Of Love 04:41

25.7.16

Levin Minnemann Rudess - From the Law Offices (2016)

This is the 2nd album by the trio gentlemen of progressive metal. From the camp of prog rock is Tony Levin who bassist in King Crimson and Peter Gabriel, if you would call it progressive rock. His jamming buddy are Jordan Rudess and Marco Minnemann. Jordan and Tony already have jamming history in Liquid Tension Experiment (LTE), a mirror project of Dream Theater back in the day of Mike Portnoy. Interestingly is the duo pairing with Marco Minnemann. We all know Marco. He played in a lot of other project in similar style to this record. Marco closely "encounter" with Jordan and Dream Theater in the famous 7 drummers audition for Portnoy replacement. So I guess all the trio gentlemen already has bite of chemistry before they decided to do recording. Their first debut in 2013 was quite successful and accepted by the community. "From the Law Offices" is the follow up of that album.  From the Law Office follow closely the spirit of that album. This record is all about progressive metal, unlimited creativity and out of the world improvisation skill.

There are sixteen tracks on the album, enough to fill up of your day with quality music. The first track "Back to the Machine" is a cheekily starter. The song built up from simple riff. It is a good song that demonstrated how the drum going to respond in this simple melodic. After Levin and Marco setting up the basis , the main role is played by Jordan, who going to lay down all the melodies of the song. This basic formula is what defined the essence of trio LMR. As the second song come in, "Ready, Set, Sue" is much more "complicated". This song is set in funk, prog and techno feel, enjoyable mix. "Riff Splat" turn the highlight role to the bass. A loud overdrived bass making this song quite muscular. Although this album did not included any guitarists, the present of guitar can be heard in "Marseille" and "Balloon". The rest of songs done in similar fashion, tense improvisation and also lots of innovation.

This records is for prog fans that combined the fans base of three different world. From King Crimson to Dream Theater to Kreator, well, it was Marco's band after all. From the Law Offices followed up the trend of joining big names in trio setup. This is a great addition to similar project such as the Aristocrat, LTE, the Winery Dogs and so on.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon
Levin Minnemann Rudess - From the Law Offices (2016)

01. Back to the Machine
02. Ready, Set, Sue
03. Riff Splat
04. What is the Meaning?
05. Marseille
06. Good Day Hearsay
07. Witness
08. Balloon
09. When the Gavel Falls
10. The Verdict
11. Free Radicals
12. Magistrate
13. Shiloh's Cat
14. The Tort
15. Testimony
16. Habeas Porpoise
17. The Tort (Ver. 2xb-74)

Line Up:
Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson) - Bass, Cello, Chapman Stick,
Marco Minnemann (Joe Satriani, The Aristocrats) - Drums, Guitars
Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) - Keyboards

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