Powerwolf - "The Sacrament of Sin" (2018)

Just like character classes in video games, power metal bands are having their own “character class”. For example, Blind Guardian is like the Mage class, like Gandalf. Manowar is Warrior type, with his big sword. Rhapsody of Fire is Elven guys, Nightwish is the Wizard, usually a support roles. Now, Powerwolf is the band that sacrificed themselves opting to become the “bad character”. Powerwolf is the Werewolf / Vampire / Necromancer of power metal world. Power metal fans turn out to like the bad guys too. So, after few albums, Powerwolf is one of the rising power in this fantasy world. Well, their music are good too. The band dressed themselves as their vampire theme. Matthew and Charles Greywolf are main force of the band. Their vocalist is Attila Dorn , whose hobby are admiring the Romanian werewolf lore. In short, Powerwolf able to gained attention from power metal world with six studio albums already. And yeah, they are from Germany.

Official Video - Fire & Forgive from "The Sacrament of Sin" Powerwolf

In 2018, their seventh studio album released. Titled as “The Sacrament of Sin”, Powerwolf continued their havoc with more vampiric power metal music. For their past materials, I like most of their hits because the dark-gloomy-gothic theme were very good incorporated to their music. Their hits like “Amen & Attack” are very original. So, as the band did not change much their direction in this new album, “The Sacrement of Sin” is another enjoyable addition to their song library. Their first song “Fire & Forgive” is of course their best hits. As the titled pattern, the band very good with a song with “…….. & …….” passage (Amen & Attack, Demons & Diamonds, Sacred & Wild). “Killer with the Cross” come as my next favorite for its story telling verses and sing-along choruses. “Where the Wild Wolves Had Gone” is the Manowar-like, anthem song. The darkest opening riff then fall to “The Sacrament of Sin”, this is like Iron Maiden’s Fear of the Dark combined with Helloween. Every power metal album should also have their Latin chorus song, “Venom of Venus” the answer, a song to played for your choral member friend.

As addition to the original studio album, there is a B-side bonuses, which is equally interesting. In the bonus tracks, Powerwolf asked (or invited) another band to covered their song. So, you’ll have the band best hits covered by famous band like Epica, Amaranthe, Caliban and others. Of course this is a serious bonuses that maybe even bigger than the album. Enjoy Powerwolf songs interpreted by other band, which is seriously kick ass.

The Sacrament of Sin” is one of best power metal album released this year of 2018. If you haven’t listen to Powerwolf, this is your chance to experience it. The album are typical power metal with many church-organ layers, so you can imagine the atmosphere. There is a dark side of the band in which their theme is the counter act of some religious community. Well, in the world full of hatred nowadays, we should avoid making fun of other believe, shouldn’t we? Apart from that, “The Sacrament of Sin” is a strong album that every power metal can listen with little harm, except for being head banging too hard. 

Powerwolf - "The Sacrament of Sin" (2018)
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01. Fire & Forgive
02. Demons Are A Girl's Best Friend
03. Killers With The Cross
04. Incense And Iron
05. Where The Wild Wolves Have Gone
06. Stossgebet
07. Nightside Of Siberia
08. The Sacrament Of Sin
09. Venom Of Venus
10. Nighttime Rebel
11. Fist By Fist (Sacralize Or Strike)
12. Midnight Madonna [bonus version]

Disc 2 - Communio Lupatum 
 1. Sacred & Wild (Epica) 04:47
 2. We Drink Your Blood (Saltatio Mortis) 03:40
 3. Kiss of the Cobra King (Caliban) 04:17
 4. Resurrection By Erection (Battle Beast) 03:47
 5. Night of the Werewolves (Heaven Shall Burn) 05:15
 6. The Evil Made Me Do It (Kadavar) 05:29
 7. Let There Be Night (Kissin' Dynamite) 04:16
 8. Army of the Night (Amaranthe) 03:02 9. Amen & Attack (Mille Petrozza and Marc Gortz) 03:56 10. When the Saints Are Going Wild (Eluveitie) 03:44

Charles Greywolf Bass, Guitars
Matthew Greywolf Guitars
Falk Maria Schlegel Keyboards
Attila Dorn Vocals
Roel van Helden Drums

The Sacrament of Sin - Powerwolf album review


Hammerfall - Glory to the Brave 20 Year Anniversary Edition (2017)

Glory to the Brave 20 Year Anniversary Edition is a reminder to us that 20 years has passed since the new generation of power metal wave back in the 1997. A great year it was. Hammerfall, in the beginning only as a side project, released this debut with its 10 tracks of pure power metal. Little that they knew (or maybe they knew...) Glory to The Brave will become one of power metal album that catapult the power metal genre back to its glory. In the Southern, an Italian band  Rhapsody of Fire also debut their first album (Legendary Tales ),  which also bring Rhapsody as one of the legend from the era. In their near soil, Nightwish from Finland spring their debut, Angel Fall First, which although not recognized yet, Nightwish will also grow as a big band as today. In the mainland of Europe, Edguy discharge their official debut, Kingdom of Madness. Hammerfall, which is Swedish band, was then part of new power metal generation such as Freedom Call, Dark Moor, Angra from the South America, Sonata Artica, Kamelot from USA,  and Firewind from the Mediterranean sea. Together, these band continued the legacy of their "senior" Helloween, Blind Guardian, Stratovarius and Gamma Ray. Glory to the Brave was an important album that part of this history.

The band remastered all their classic tracks to commemorate their 20th Anniversary. The sound are much clearer, they added more reverb to it, and the guitar distortion got even crunchier than before. Unlike Rhapsody of Fire that re-recorded many of their classic with the new line up in their Into the Legend album,  Hammerfall opted to just remastered their works. The original line up was, surprisingly, Glenn Ljungström as the guitarist that responsible in playing all their classic riffs from the album. Soon, Stefan Elgram joined the band and Hammerfall embraced their further glory with him. As for today, Hammerfall original line up remained Joachim Cans and Oscar Dronjak. The band wisely not re-recorded Glory to the Brave with their current line up.

While their contemporaries try to come up with new direction in power metal : Rhapsody (of Fire) with their theatrical Hollywood score and Nightwish with thick symphonic and female vocalist, Hammerfall done their style with the basic ingredients. Catchy riffs and straightforward song is the trademark of this album. The Dragon Lies Bleeding was extremely basic power metal song. It consisted of one opening riffs and then the whole song run in quiet basic guitar power chord. Same thing with The Metal Age,  the intro riff is just a play harmony of their twin guitar attack. Two songs were a cover version indicated that this was indeed a side project : Child of the Damned was a Warlord cover and Ravenlord was a Stormwitch cover.

For this 20 Year Anniversary Edition, the bonus included another eight tracks live version of the songs. We have listen to this album many times and we are going to listen again. Add this to your collection for sure.

Hammerfall - Glory to the Brave 20 Year Anniversary Edition (2017)

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1. The Dragon Lies Bleeding (Remastered)
2. The Metal Age (Remastered)
3. Hammerfall (Remastered)
4. I Believe (Remastered)
5. Child of the Damned (Remastered)
6. Steel Meets Steel (Remastered)
7. Stone Cold (Remastered)
8. Unchained (Remastered)
9. Glory to the Brave (Remastered)
10. Ravenlord
11. Glory to the Brave (Radio Edit)
12. The Metal Age (Live)
13. Steel Meets Steel (Live)
14. Stone Cold (Live)
15. Glory to the Brave (Live)
16. Hammerfall (Live)
17. The Dragon Lies Bleeding (Live)
18. Glory to the Brave - Medley (Live)

 Joacim Cans – vocals, background harmonies
 Oscar Dronjak – guitar, backing vocals
 Fredrik Larsson – bass guitar, backing vocals
 Glenn Ljungström – guitar
 Jesper Strömblad – drums (Writing credit Only)
 Patrik Räfling – drums


Arrayan Path - Dawn of Aquarius (2017)

Arrayan Path is power / heavy metal from the island of Cyprus. They currently released their 6th studio album, titled "Dawn of Aquarius". As expected from the Mediterranean landscape, their music abide with strong Hellenistic influence. Dawn of Aquarius is kind of concept album with firm connections between songs.

The opener "Equilibrium" is started with folk-like acoustic instrument. The songs started after a minute of intro with a vocalist resembling the of early Kai Hansenese. The highlight of this album are in their Youtube releases : "The Hundred Names of Kali Ma", "So It Shall Be Written",  "Dawn of Aquarius"and  "Lotus Eyes".

Arrayan Path success in bringing their originality in this album. The whole album is heavy and oriental-melodic packed. The Leptos brothers very well handling the song writing that almost the entire album are fresh in my memory after only couple of listening. A very interesting band and album to listen to.

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Arrayan Path are:
Alexis Kleidaras-Guitar
Nicholas Leptos-Vocals
Stefan Dittrich-Drums
Socratis Leptos-Guitar
Paris Lambrou-Bass
George Kallis-Keyboard

Arrayan Path - Dawn of Aquarius (2017)

1. Equilibrium 05:52
2. The Flower Born of Itself 04:49
3. Dark Daughter of the Snake 03:18
4. The Hundred Names of Kali Ma 05:15
5. So It Shall Be Written 06:38
6. She Who Is Primordial Wisdom 04:14
7. Dawn of Aquarius 04:01
8. Cremation Grounds 05:51
9. Empress (Reality of All the Threes) 04:24
10. Lotus Eyes 04:19
11. The Eleventh Mantra 06:11
12. Guardian Angel 05:00
13. Garland of Skulls 03:40


Psychotic Symphony - Sons of Apollo (2017)

Mike Portnoy had assembled several super groups, and joined many as well. His adventure post-Dream Theater era are as followed: Adrenalin Mob (thrash metal), The Winery Dogs ('80s glam rock) and Flying Colors (blues hard rock). As for sideman, he hired by supergroups, most notably in Neil Morse (prog-Christian metal) and Metal Allegiance (mainly thrash metal led by David Ellefson) as far to Twisted Sisters (glam rock). It mean there are various music done by Portnoy that should suit one or two of your prefered metal genre.

However, here come his next project, Sons of Apollo. Firstly, just by hearing the name, this is the band that suggested  something really huge, something spectacular. It is indeed a supergroup that everyone should anticipate. The members are as followed : Derek Sherinian in keyboards, and also look likely a co-founder. Billy Sheehan in bass, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal in guitar. The singer is Jeff Scott Soto. A solid formation with everybody are top gun in their respective instrument. Portnoy, Sheehan and Sherinian was already jamming together several years ago in non-album project, together with guitarist Tony MacAlpine.

Their debut album released this Octhober 2017, titled "Psychotic Symphony". After several days running the disc, I am pretty satisfied with all of their songs. Sons of Apollo might be Mike Portnoy's closest rendition to Dream Theater. In fact, with Derek Sherinian on board, they already 2/5th of Dream Theater. "Gods of the Sun", the first song, is very DT in entrance. It's somewhere fit in Systematic Chaos era of the old band. It's a very good call for opening song, an instant showcase of their five member power in this eleven minutes song. "Coming Home" is their expected hit. The band put their luck in this "Youtube-friendly" song. "Coming Home" is a progressive metal blue print with friendly melody. It has all the elements, keyboard opener, pumping low frequency bass. Ron Thal is showing his double necks guitar, one is a fretless neck that produced distintive guitar solo.

With Derrick Sherinian as co-leader, the songs mostly demonstrated his instrument. "Labyrinth" started with catchy symphonic string layers. Jeff who in the '80s famous as Yngwie Malmsteen front man was knowned as melodic metal and AOR singer. In Labyrinth we enjoyed Jeff Scott Soto's transformation into progressive metal vocalist. "Alive" is a darker piece that opened with clean guitar intro that heavily chorus-ed. We also listen to a short arranged of keyboard instrumental in "Figaro's Whore". Sherinian is playing Deep Purple-ish hammond organ and this continued to the next song "Divine Addiction". Finally the band finale is in "Opus Maximus". A ten minutes epic that most of the composition performed as instrumental song.

Sons of Apollo is indeed an Apollonian works. Mike Portnoy once again returned to his most celebrated genre, the progressive metal of the late 2017 era. For the guitarist, Ron Bumblefoot Thal is an underated shredder. He actually haven't really appeared in major band, except for Guns N' Roses perhaps. Billy Sheehan prove he done well in this game as well, as we often associated him in hard rock scene only. Psychotic Symphony is a big entrance for the big boys. We only hope this project continued as stable line up, with more quality music coming from these maesteurs.

Psychotic Symphony - Sons of Apollo (2017)
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 1. God of the Sun
  2. Coming Home
  3. Signs of the Time
  4. Labyrinth
  5. Alive
  6. Lost in Oblivion
  7. Figaro's Whore
  8. Divine Addiction
  9. Opus Maximus

Jeff Scott Soto (Trans Siberian Orchestra, Talisman, ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, ex-Axel Rudi Pell) – lead vocals
Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Art of Anarchy, ex-Guns N' Roses) – guitar
Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, ex-David Lee Roth) – bass
Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion, ex-Dream Theater, ex-Alice Cooper, ex-Platypus, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, ex-Kiss) – keyboards
Mike Portnoy  (The Winery Dogs, Transatlantic, Flying Colors, Neal Morse Band, ex-Dream Theater, ex-Adrenaline Mob, ex-Avenged Sevenfold) – drums

Sons of Apollo - Psychotic Symphony album review


Marty Friedman - Wall of Sound (2017)

It's been almost thirty years since Marty Friedman's Cacophony hit the shred world. Afterward, some twenty years since Marty left Megadeth. A while after then he released a shocking New Age albums; Introduction and Scenes. We can say that Marty has gone three different path in all those years. We got a classic '80s Shrapnel + neo classical year in Cacophony (team up with Jason Becker), a thrash metal world in Megadeth and a new born far eastern style in his solo albums. Marty Friedman music has been then continued into several albums starting from Music for Speeding and so on. His new album for 2017 is Wall of Sound.  As expected, his style from this era is a mix between those three genres. Wall of Sound is exactly a guitar album that contained elements of '80s shred, some thrashy riff and Japanese scale that a signature to Marty Friedman.

"Self Pollution" is a thunderous song to begin. As we speaking, Marty has done the most extreme blend on his style in this album. Self Pollution is literally two songs put into one. After a thrashy opening, we immediately jump into a calm, Japanese feel melodic right inside this song. This feature may only be found in Marty Friedman world.

The second song "Sorrow and Madness" is feature with violin playing in it. The song constructed with elements of progressive metal, a new element that has attached in Marty Friedman albums recently. "Whiteworm" is a selected song that Marty produced a Youtube video clip for it. This one has a fluid sweeping intro before the nu-metal-like riff hit it. "For A Friend" is very mellow clean acoustic melody. A song strongly remind us to his Introduction era. "Pussy Ghost" is creative play with modern sounds that fall into nu-metal category. Then we also have a vocal song in "Something to Fight". This song described how Marty Friedman willing to enter modern metal world and reach for younger audience. The vocals was done by Jorgen Munkeby of Shining. "The Soldier" is another very Japanese scale exercise, which continued to "Miracle".

Overall, Wall of Sound from Marty Friedman is another strong released from our ex-Megadeth axeman. This album easily summarized all his adventurous years in Cacophony, Megadeth and his f*&^ing oriental scales. Unlike his previous release "Inferno" where Marty invited many guests to his party, Wall of Sound solely a solo album that focus to himself. Go get it, and listen the West and the East met in Marty Friedman universe.

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Marty Friedman - Wall of Sound (2017)

01. Self Pollution (5:54)
02. Sorrow and Madness (feat. Jinxx of Black Veil Brides) (6:41)
03. Streetlight (4:05)
04. Whiteworm (4:36)
05. For A Friend (3:19)
06. Pussy Ghost (feat. Shiv Mehra of Deafheaven) (5:58)
07. The Blackest Rose (3:40)
08. Something to Fight (feat. Jorgen Munkeby of Shining) (4:46)
09. The Soldier (3:58)
10. Miracle (3:54)
11. Last Lament (6:56)


Anthriel - Transcendence (2017)

In year 2010, progressive metal fans surprised by the arrival of Anthriel, a young group from Finland. Their debut album, The Pathway, was a success. The quartet were at least bookmarked and put under watch list by the fans. However, it takes about seven years to continued what they have done. Transcendence is Anthriel's second studio album, with seven years gap after The Pathway. The good news is, the album is meet the expectations.  In Transcendence, all eight tracks displayed the spirit of traditional progressive metal genre as we often hear way back then. Transcendence included the feel of classic Dream Theater as in their Scene from A Memory-era way back to Queensryche. The band put every good things we hear from other prog band such as Circus Maximus and Symphony X.

The album building up with "The Calling", an introduction song similar to Dream Theater's Regression song. The Calling transformed the atmosphere into Anthriel's world.  This followed up with "Under Burning Skies", an heavy song that connected the classic progressive riff and strong oriental theme played with Indian-like voices. The journey continued to "Oath Of Darkness" that run in lengthy eleven minutes. This is where the conceptual theme being discussed in detail. In the whole eleven minutes, the main theme occurred sporadically to serves as connecting theme. "Siren's Song" is also a very progressive one. After the keyboard lick, a grooving guitar riffs quickly takes over. Only several listening, the riff from this song will stayed in your head.

"Painted Shadows" is an Yngwie Malmsteen inspired song. The neo classical feel brings us back to the era of Yngwie's Trilogy Suite era. Interestingly, the band decide to titled the next song "Rhapsody of Fire", kind of homage to the Italian band. The song itself is very Symphony X rather than RoF. "My Dark Morning Star" is another odd-metered song serves as a bridge to the 19 minutes finale, "Fallen Souls".

Transcendence is an awesome follow up to Anthriel's first album. The music styles did not change much. The only notable differences is,  The Pathway still gives us a power metal feel, while  Transcendence is a rather dark one. As any good album out there, the power of this album is their strong song writing. The quartet put an awesome works of musicianship as well, as this album comprised of many awesome details. This is a good start to get into this band for those who haven't listen to them yet. It will be a challenge for the band to put the next followed up album, but in the meantime, let's enjoy this

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

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Anthriel - Transcendence (2017)

1. The Calling
2. Under Burning Skies
3. Oath Of Darkness
4. Siren's Song
5. Painted Shadows
6. Rhapsody Of Fire
7. My Dark Morning Star
8. Fallen Souls

- Timo Niemistö / Guitar
- Antti Horttana / Bass
- Henrikki Markkula / Drums
- Simo Silvan / Vocals


The Ferrymen - The Ferrymen (2017)

Magnus Karlsson had started yet another metal project. This time, the guitarist from Primal Fear teamed up as trio with drummer Mike Terrana (Tarja, Axel Rudi Pell, Yngwie Malmsteen) and vocalist Ronnie Romero (Rainbow). A strong line up indeed! The trio doing yet another melodic metal stuffs, but of course with such creative mind on board, there are many wet ideas to be found.

First thing about this record is the presence of Ronnie Romero's. His new energy spend in this album will added more color to those who already familiar with his voices. As for started "End Of The Road" is a traditional heavy metal tunes that remained us to Rage, Masterplan and Primal Fear, bands that belong (or ex-belong) to the member of The Ferrymen. Magnus Karlsson released his beastly shredding with creative riffs and speed light solos, to lift up the expectation of his guitar hero status. "Ferryman" is a promising melodic metal stuff dive into the area of old Stratovarius. For Mike Terrana, he truly he meet his match in the third track "Fool You All", where Magnus Karlsson trying to mimic old Whitesnake "Fool for Your Loving" riffs. Mike blasted out some powerful drum fill in every connecting passages. Ronnie Romero try out old Rainbow-like stuff in ballad "One Heart". "Eternal Night" show this album tendency to expanded into the old '80s stuff, with nostalgic high notes singing.

The Ferrymen is not that ordinary side project with random veteran musicians jammed up. This album is a very productive collaboration between three musicians that happened to be big names in their respective band. Listeners can expected traditional heavy metal stuffs with details performance of Magnus Karlsson guitar works and Mike Terrana drumming. On top of that Ronnie Romero is doing great job interpreting ideas with his vocals. Song writing is a fantastic factor in this album, that basically done a regular heavy metal and power metal stuffs. Lovely and successful debut album indeed.

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

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The Ferrymen - The Ferrymen (2017)

01. End Of The Road
02. Ferryman
03. Fool You All
04. Still Standing Up
05. Cry Wolf
06. One Heart
07. Darkest Hour
08. How The Story Ends
09. Enter Your Dream
10. Eyes On The Sky
11. Eternal Night
12. Welcome To My Show

Mike Terrana : drums
Magnus Karlsson : guitars, bass, keyboards
Ronnie Romero : vocals

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