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


17.5.15

Whitesnake - The Purple Album (2015)

David Coverdale earliest fortune in hard rock history was based on his endeavor with Deep Purple, way back in years 1973-1976. Only three Purple years yet Coverdale indeed the man behind the microphone of at least two historical hits : Burn and Soldier of Fortune. So, when forty years later David Coverdale resurrecting these classics under his Whitesnake banner, it is well legitimate. Whitesnake - The Purple Album is cover of Deep Purple songs that released under three albums during Coverdale era, Burn (1974), Stormbinger (1974), and Come Taste the Band (1975). Material from Burn are the most in number, understandably because Burn is the strongest album of all three. It is regarded as metal classic. Six out of eight songs taken from this. Stormbinger is Purple album notably known for Soldier of Fortune. The most interesting is songs from Come Taste the Band, if memory serves us well, Tommy Bolin is the guitar of this album, not Richie Blackmore. This is also the album where Deep Purple last standing before the first hiatus up till 1984 then.

In the first track, "Burn", we got the version that forefront the twin guitar attack  of Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach . The mix is definitely of 21st century technology, so it is all clean. The intro's keyboard is somehow not dominant compared to the classic version, but Brian Ruedy got his glory time shredding over the keyboard solos in the middle. The song got super fast guitar shred by the two axemen.  In the singing line, David Coverdale re-adapted the song, notably in the choruses where in the original Burn, you got the higher scream. "You Fool No One" is rarely heard song from Purple. This is rather standard hard rock style, which will easily fit with the Whitesnake. Again the solos are killing us. "Love Child" is heavy on its Black Sabbath-like guitar riffs.

Reflections song on "Sail Away" which also acted as Elegy For Jon, is the song Coverdale write with Ritchie Blackmore. It is acoustic ballad and very much David Coverdale in style. "The Gypsy" is quite familiar among Purple fans, one of the song that see Deep Purple enthusiast in gypsy theme. Faster and heavier song is in "Lady Double Dealer", another song from Stormbinger album. "Mistreated" is seven minutes long taken the same format as in the original. Slow pace guitar riffs in the intro and the song actually resemble of what Deep Purple actually sounded in early '70s. "Holy Man" is another guitar acoustic track, this song entirely re-arranged and gives a good alternative to the original one. They also have some very American song such as the sliding guitar in "Might Just Take Your Life". This song enjoy the status single in the original Burn album. In the last part of album, there are two major hits "Stormbinger" and "Soldier of Fortune".

The Purple Album resurrected all Coverdale's songs in Deep Purple in good care. This is a careful re-arranged with lots of interesting moment to check out. Especially if you are Deep Purple die hard fans, the arrangement with twin shred guitar will probably provide you alternative version. This is a treat for both fans, Deep Purple and Whitesnake. It is must say that Coverdale successfully re-polished these into Whitesnake sounds. The dominant of keyboard is rather less preserved, that is the only lamented on this version. Instead fans of guitar will celebrated the rich shred solos inserted here. On the drumming, understandably Tommy Aldridge put in most of his own style rather than following Ian Paice hyper-aggressive fill. The decision to recorded all Coverdale-credited song even if the song is not popular one, is the best present for Deep Purple fans. This is the album you want to take to your kids and said about how nice the metal / rock world back in '70s.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Whitesnake - The Purple Album (2015)

1. BURN (from album "Burn")
2. YOU FOOL NO ONE (Interpolating ITCHY FINGERs) (from album "Burn")
3. LOVE CHILD (from album "Come Taste The Band")
4. SAIL AWAY featuring ELEGY FOR JON (from album "Burn")
5. THE GYPSY (from album "Stormbinger")
6. LADY DOUBLE DEALER (from album "Stormbinger")
7. MISTREATED (from album "Burn")
8. HOLY MAN (from album "Stormbinger")
9. MIGHT JUST TAKE YOUR LIFE (from album "Burn")
10. YOU KEEP ON MOVING (from album "Come Taste The Band")
11. SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (from album "Stormbinger")
12. LAY DOWN STAY DOWN  (from album "Burn")
13. STORMBRINGER (from album "Stormbinger")

Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks:
14. LADY LUCK (from album "Come Taste The Band")
15. COMIN' HOME (from album "Come Taste The Band")
16. SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (alternative mix)

David Coverdale (vocals),
Joel Hoekstra (guitars)
Reb Beach (guitars),
Michael Devin (bass),
Tommy Aldridge (drums),
Brian Ruedy (keyboards)

13.5.15

Mark Slaughter – Reflections in a Rear View Mirror (2015)

Good news for Mark Slaughter fans. Frontman of '90 hard rock band Slaughter back to the recording studio and release his solo album, Reflections in a Rear View Mirror. We can listen again to Mark's uniquely high pitch vocals with almost an album of old '90s hard rock songs. Mark Slaughter handle all the instruments except for the drum, played by Mark Goodin. Michael Wagener is the big names behind the mixing board. All set for one more glorious days of melodic rock.

The first song, Away I Go, is quite typical Slaughter song.  It goes in dynamic rhythm, hard rocking guitar riffs as the song's base and don't be surprise to hear sound effects in play. The one that obviously in the spirit of '90 is Never Givin' Up. Strong vocals harmony and AOR-like choruses is bringing back the old days. Carry Me Back Home represented the sentiments of carry us back to the nostalgic era with this sweet ballad. As you aware, Mark's song writing and composing talent is enormous in all songs we heard. Carry Me Back Home is a rich song in composition, quite unusual blending of pop-rock synth, mandolin-like sound etc. The other easy listening ballad is Baby Wants, a duet of piano and bluesy guitar in the beginning where it all leads to powerful choruses. The flexibility of Mark Slaughter song also best heard in Don't Turn Away, where he sings duet with Gena Johnson in another ballad song. In the most extreme idea is In Circle Flight, where we presented with Fastern-east instrumental flute theme. The last song, Deep In Her Heart, is rich in orchestration, perfectly acted as the closing song of the album.

Reflections in a Rear View Mirror comprised lots of Mark Slaughter creative ideas. Songs are not so hard and wild as in their Slaughter band. Instead, Mark taking more liberty in bringing anything that suited his song writing. Songs are still having their roots can be trace to Slaughter's era, the ballad songs can easily remind us to Days Gone By or It'll be Alright hits in the '90s. Enjoy this package of melodic rock album.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Mark Slaughter – Reflections in a Rear View Mirror (2015)

01. Away I Go
02. Never Givin’ Up
03. Miss Elainious
04. Carry Me Back Home
05. The Real Thing
06. Baby Wants
07. Don’t Turn Away
08. Somewhere Isn’t Here
09. In Circle Flight
10. Velcro Jesus
11. Deep In Her Heart

Mark Slaughter – Lead Vocals,Guitar,Bass,Keyboards
Mark Goodin – Drums
Gena Johnson – Guest Vocals on “Don’t turn away”
Bill Jordan – Guest Keyboards on “Don’t turn away”
Michael Wagener - Mixing, Mastering


2.5.15

Kamelot - Haven (2015)

2015 marked the twelve year of Kamelot's first studio album, Eternity, when released in 1995. Thinking back, over that 20 years, Kamelot did evolved very much. As a power metal force in Tampa, now Kamelot is a worldwide success with 11 studio albums. Their latest for 2015 is Haven. This is their 11th studio release, as well the 2nd with vocalist Tommy Karevik. Tommy has successfully injected new blood to Kamelot on Silverthorn album. Of course, twenty years should enough to tranformed Kamelot. Their music is no longer, ehem, as catchy as decades years ago. Just like aging wine they has mature up.

Kamelot still hold unique power metal style with their low pitch singing, as opposed to high screaming style in Europe. Fallen Star is one of the extreme example of this. Tommy Karevik started the album with one short piano and voice passage. The whole album stirred to mellow mood by this. Very story telling in composition, which is Kamelot other trademark. This song also quickly become familiar, prove that the song writing has been quite strong. Insomnia to follow, with official video clip this is supposedly the album "hit". We got strong Kamelot in style here, the choruses are all familiar as heard before. A rather futuristic attempt is in third song, Citizen Zero. Let us also aware that the album is another futuristic - apocalypse theme album. Be informed also, several familiar musicians are involved in this project. First is Troy Donockley who is famous in his Nightwish position as the pipe whistling metalist. Together with Charlotte Wessels from Delain, they are soon be heard in Under Grey Skies, a beautiful done ballad.

The second part of the album begin after a connector Ecclesia and officially started with End Of Innocence . Interesting song is Beautiful Apocalypse , where many industrial elements being added to Kamelot's style. This to be climax  in Revolution where Alisa White-Gluz making her appearances. You know what roles she is in. Everything to be ended peacefully then in the last song in Haven.

Obviously, Haven from Kamelot is not everyone's cup of tea. Musically, this is a very serious works with lots of details compositions. If you enjoy Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime put into power metal platform, then this will be your thing. Good news is the quality of each song really stand ups, they are worth your one hour listening. Tommy Karevik brings us to the apocalyptic time with his voices. Thomas Youngblood is still holding his cards with lots of newly invented licks. Haven is really testing how far the genre can goes without being cliche. In retrospect of their 20 years in apocalypse metal, this is just as expected. Another quality food for Kamelot fans to chew.

Favorite tracks: Fallen Star, Under Grey Skies, Revolution
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Kamelot - Haven (2015)

01. Fallen Star
02. Insomnia
03. Citizen Zero
04. Veil Of Elysium
05. Under Grey Skies
06. My Therapy
07. Ecclesia
08. End Of Innocence
09. Beautiful Apocalypse
10. Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
11. Here's To The Fall
12. Revolution
13. Haven

Tommy Karevik – vocals
Thomas Youngblood – guitars
Sean Tibbetts – bass guitar
Oliver Palotai - keyboards, orchestrations
Casey Grillo – drums

Guest/session members

Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) - female vocals, growling vocals
Troy Donockley (Nightwish) - Uilleann pipes, tin whistle
Charlotte Wessels (Delain) - female vocals

Sascha Paeth - producer
Jacob Hansen - mastering



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