Dragonforce - Maximum Overload (2014)

It's been more than a decade since Dragonforce debut album and the game are still on. Dragonforce may not be change completely but they ain't the same young kid with ultra high adrenalin in their music. They no longer some kids need to show off their speed and skill. Starting at least yesterday's album, The Power Within, the band has starts to grow in significant mature melodic power. For starter, they no longer want to do it by them self, they are hiring a pro. Producer Jens Bogren (Opeth, Paradise Lost, Symphony X) is the lucky guy needs to manage this hyper boys. As the result, the band seems like just reach their second puberty. The album has now sailing to heavier sounds, there are still much cheesier power metal.

You may want to hold the breath for several moments, as we race the beat from opening track "The Game", "Tomorrow's Kings" and "No More". All these three combined the classic Dragonforce over-clocked power metal riffs, duo killer guitars in almost every notes, video game influenced keyboards mimicry, and hell level drum beat. The Game itself starts without much intro, it is a darker power metal from Dragonforce, with Matt Heafy, perhaps behind the mic for the 'growling' backing. Tomorrow's King, required no introduction as it is Dragonforce in blood with its tech-qie intro and duo melodic prelude. The most classic should be in No More, where Herman and Sam in sync for most of the guitar parts. Not to mentioned Marc Hudson is growing stronger ever since his debut in previous album. Only then "Three Hammers" hammered the pace down to what we called Dragonforce's "mid tempo" song. "Symphony Of The Night" is kind of Blind Guardian type with its folk rhyme situation. Jump to "Defender" this time we got post-Andy Derris Helloween type of power metal song. "Extraction Zone" back to ultra fast beat, but with bite of progressive texture in it. For a regular package the album finished with Johny Cash cover of "Ring Of Fire", maybe be well listen while watching the movie as well.

And here we bid farewell to drummer Dave Mackintosh, he will always remember as drummer of Dragonforce, a title that everybody in the business will know what it mean. He will replaced by Gee Anzalone.  Marc Hudson vocals seem works to its maximum since all song is seem trying to reach the edge of his throat. For first half of the album we can definitely feel the continuation of Dragonforce power metal music, very much the same we heard for past decade. Then the other half may offer something new, Dragonforce did try to differs their stuffs. What Maximum Overload speaking is, there still area that can be explorer by their style. This album combined most what we expected from the name Dragonforce with slightly new experiments. It is lesser 'epic' than The Power Within where there are still massive of song written to fill the epic power metal field, but Maximum Overload is darker and heavier, lending to the dark side of something.

Favorite track: No More, Symphony of the Night, Extraction Zone

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

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Dragonforce - Maximum Overload (2014)

01. The Game (feat Matt Heafy)
02. Tomorrow’s Kings
03. No More (feat Matt Heafy)
04. Three Hammers
05. Symphony Of The Night
06. The Sun Is Dead
07. Defenders (feat Matt Heafy)
08. Extraction Zone
09. City Of Gold
10. Ring Of Fire (Johny Cash cover)
11. Power and Glory (bonus track)
12. You’re Not Alone (bonus track)
13. Chemical Interference

Marc Hudson – Vocals
Herman Li – Guitars, Vocals
Sam Totman – Guitars, Vocals
Frédéric Leclercq – Bass, Vocals
Vadim Pruzhanov – Keyboards, Vocals
Dave Mackintosh – Drums, Vocals
Produced by Jens Bogren


Adrian Weiss - Easy Game (2014)

Adrian Weiss is the recent hot guitar hero hailed from Germany. He was gaining fame from his hometown in Duesseldorf, playing guitar in many local progressive metal bands. "Easy Game" is actually his second solo instrumental guitar album. The first one released in 2011 which titled "Big Time" . Both albums surfs in the world of progressive metal vocabulary. Highly interesting for those who looking for quality guitar playing as in Marco Sfogli, Daniele Liverani, Andy James and Christian Muenzner. Those are new generation guitar shredder that shared the same fate in rising their fame. Their similarity not only in the music genre, but also in how they rise as independent solo artist, first associated with major bands, then released their music via  the digital form and promote using online social media power.

This album stretch the genre quite wide. We got "Awkward Silence" with interesting muted string lick in the intro. Song is laid down in progressive feel but yet strong melodic line enable us to follow it. "Instant Relief" is rather standard "minor" progressive scale we used to listen in Dream Theater or Symphony X solo. The next interesting point is "Hacienda" which is play as a duet with Christian Muenzner, the song interestingly highlighted the wild west / movie chasing like soundtrack with big chorus steel string voice. "Camel's Dance" is oriental / desert theme with nice wah-wah voice. "Second Sunrise" is a thick groovy composition, relaxing theme and playful. The album close with offbeat minor scale composition in duet with Manuel Franken, so understandably titled as "Offbeat Frankenstine".

Overall, Easy Game is truly easy listening instrumental album yet comes with interesting progressive and many other musical ideas. Song are straightforward but yet display creative guitar playing. You can drained lots of inspiration from each song, which is the main point in listening instrumental  ... to listen for fresh ideas. In term of production this is a big leap from Adrian's first album. You also can tell that from the number of guest contributors also, which throws in contrasting licks in many tracks. We welcome Adrian as the latest hero in the jungle of guitar shredder around the world.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon
Adrian Weiss - Easy Game (2014)

01. Awkward Silence
02. Instant Relief
03. Aim to Please
04. Immediate Measures
05. The Last Days
06. Hacienda (feat. Christian Muenzner)
07. Camel's Dance
08. Second Sunrise
09. The Offering
10. Easy Game
11. Night Owl
12. Offbeat Frankenstine (feat. Manuel Franken)

Adrian Weiss - Electric guitars
Lars Zehner - Drums
Marcel Willnat - Bass

Demian Heuke (These Are The Days)
Manuel Franken (Korsakow)
Christian Muenzner (Obscura, Spawn Of Possession)
Thorsten Praest (GUT)
Jens Basten (Gloryful)
Vito Papotto (Exotoxis, Gloryful)
Jens Schaefer (Thought Sphere, Moment Of Detonation)
Mischa Lenz (Kinski´s Eyes, Forces At Work)
Mf-C (Kinski´s Eyes)
Tim Schulte (Stigma)


Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls [2014]

Exactly 40 years ago in 1974, "Rocka Rolla" marked the debut album for a group that going to be heavy metal legend, Judas Priest. That mean they had passed through almost the entire era of heavy metal genre up to day. Times flies by with no compromise, forty years later Judas Priest is seventeen albums stronger. "Redeemer Of Souls" is their latest album released in 2014. This album fights all along the modern sounds and taste, straightly goes back to their root with catchy simple riffs and signature Rob Halford voice. On the net, Glen Tipton found saying that this album will has no too adventurous moment, they had listen to their fans regarding the luke-warm reception on their "Nostradamus" album. "Redeemer of Souls" is kind of back to what Judas Priest in "Painkiller" era.

The first three songs are simple, strictly open with power riffs. Noted that KK Downing position is now to relay Richie Faulkner. You going to find most remain same, the band keep everything familiar as before. "Dragonaut" is powerful opener, mid tempo song, feel very much in the '80s, Rob Halford has enough moment to exercise his vibrato elsewhere in the song. Almost the same thing can be said with "Redeemer Of Souls", this time the tempo is faster slightly, song writing are very melodic as Judas Priest always done. "Halls Of Valhalla" is finally something epic with longer musical opening. We jump to "Down In Flames" as the twin melodic intro is something different than others. "Hell & Back" is dark guitar ballad leads to mid tempo rock song. Something conceptual a la Queensryche is in "Cold Blooded". The band still get more song to make up a total of 13 songs + 5 in the bonus CD. Good productivity.

Redeemer Of Souls bring along many nostalgic Judas Priest moments. This album didn't have zenith scale song to reached all old fans to have it. Yet, there exist minor spikes to notice about the Judas Priest legacy. I would say the band were kind to releases large number of songs, where the first quarter of the album already can do well actually. Rob Halford comes still with his unique vocal character, while the guitars duo brings all classic licks and riffs to make up new songs. Come and listen once again to Judas Priest.

Favorite tracks: "Halls Of Valhalla", "Cold Blooded", "Metalizer", "Dragonaut", "Redeemer Of Souls"
Metal Harem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls [2014]

CD 1:
01. Dragonaut
02. Redeemer Of Souls
03. Halls Of Valhalla
04. Sword Of Damocles
05. March Of the Damned
06. Down In Flames
07. Hell & Back
08. Cold Blooded
09. Metalizer
10. Crossfire
11. Secrets Of The Dead
12. Battle Cry
13. Beginning Of The End

CD 2:

01. Snakebite
02. Tears Of Blood
03. Creatures
04. Bring It On
05. Never Forget

    Ian Hill – bass
    Rob Halford – vocals
    Glenn Tipton – guitars, keyboards, synthesiser
    Scott Travis – drums, percussion
    Richie Faulkner – guitars


June 2014 Classic Hard Rock Revival Albums

This June of 2014 we saw several old timer hard rock bands released their new works. Due to my busy summer peak time, here their list with brief album reviews:

Night Ranger - "High Road" 2014
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Nice reunion between Jack Blades, Brad Gills, Kelly Keagy, together with new guitarist Joel Hoekstra and Eric Levy produced this album "High Road". The single "High Road" and "Knock Knock Never Stop" really brings back US '80s hard rock feel. 8/10

Track List:

3. Rollin' On
4. Don't Live Here Anymore
5. I'm Coming Home
6. X Generation
7. Only For You Only
8. Hang On
9· St. Bartholomew
10. Brothers
11. L.A. No Name*

Night Ranger High Road album review

Tesla - "Simplicity" 2014

My favorite hard rock band from the late '80s. Tesla is back with "Simplicity". Favorite songs are "So Divine..." and "Ricochet". They indeed did not sounds much like their classic Psychotic Supper era,  Jeff Keith vocals brings back all the memories. Frank Hannon get along well with Dave Rude , who replaced Tommy Skeoch in the 2006. 8/10

Line Up:
    Jeff Keith - lead vocals
    Frank Hannon - guitars, vocals, piano, bass
    Brian Wheat - bass, vocals, piano
    Troy Luccketta - drums, percussion
    Dave Rude - guitars, vocals, bass

Track List:

01. M P 3
02. Ricochet
03. Rise and Fall
04. So Divine...
05. Cross My Heart
06. Honestly
07. Flip Side!
08. Other than Me
09. Break of Dawn
10. Burnout to Fade
11. Life is a River
12. Sympathy
13. Time Bomb
14. 'Til that Day
15. Burnout to Fade (writing demo version) - Bonus Track
16. Honestly (writing demo version) - Bonus Track

Tesla Simplicity album review

Nazareth - Rock 'n' Roll Telephone (2014)
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Nazareth actually been active ever since 2008, this year they release "Rock 'n' Roll Telephone". Pete and Lee Agnew is still keeping the band alive. Dan McCafferty doing the vocals now and Jimmy Murrison to complete the band. "Boom Bang Bang" set the opener, catchy and classic good old stuffs. "Back 2B4" is exactly time shift to their '70s sounds. "Rock 'n' Roll Telephone" is crunchy guitar riffs mid tempo song. The last song "God Of The Mountain" closed the album in loud and hard style. Fully entertain album by the guys who in their 50s! 9/10

    Dan McCafferty – vocals
    Jimmy Murrison – guitars
    Pete Agnew – bass guitar
    Lee Agnew – drums

 Track List:

01. Boom Bang Bang
02. One Set Of Bones
03. Back 2B4
04. Winter Sunlight
05. Rock 'n' Roll Telephone
06. Punch A Hole In The Sky
07. Long Long Time
08. The Right Time
09. Not Today
10. Speakeasy
11. God Of The Mountain

Nazareth Rock n Roll Telephone album review

Uriah Heep - Outsider  (2014)
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Outside is Uriah Heep manifesto of existence. Listen to their hit of the album "One Minute", greatly composed piano ballad that improve to great hard rock song. Bernie Shaw vocal never fail to please us. Solid hard rock album that again re-captured the spirit of classic hard rock to our modern times. Superb release. 9/10

    Bernie Shaw – lead vocals
    Mick Box – guitars
    Phil Lanzon – keyboards
    Russell Gilbrook – drums
    Dave Rimmer – bass


01. Speed Of Sound
02. One Minute
03. The Law
04. The Outsider
05. Rock The Foundation
06. Is Anybody Gonna Help Me?
07. Looking At You
08. Can't Take That Away
09. Jessie
10. Kiss The Rainbow
11. Say Goodbye
12. One Minute (Bonus' 60 Seconds)
13. Between Two Worlds (Bonus' Live)

Uriah Heep Outsider album review


Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun 2014

A recent New Mexico's Mastodon fossils discovery this week is surely not a media prank for the real Mastodon's album, Once More 'Round the Sun. The Atlanta sludge metal crossover band released their fifth album in precise timing. This is three years after their previous The Hunter. What we got here is even sludgier concept, which the band decided to focus all songs in clean yet darker voices.

On the starter set, enjoy the big grooves found "The Motherload", which only one side of the album's dimension. Their most enjoyable strength is their successful approach in bending sludge metal with progressive as platform for songs "Tread Lightly"and "High Road" , both also having a great guitar riffs intro that easily familiar. On the rather psychedelic antique points, we still got "Feast Your Eyes"  which is heavy in dissonances. In "Aunt Lisa", a song featuring ladies punk band The Coathangers, the band played experiment which resulting in much more un-orthodox crossover of sludge, punk and cheer-leading yel-yel. "Asleep in the Deep" is a flat singing and staccato beat track, another Mastodon escapade need to bring affront.

Once More 'Round the Sun will accepted by die hard fans for its continuity of sturdy sludge metal feel, yet attractive for their outer rings listener for its crossover fanciness. Overally enjoyable album with lots of details and uniqueness to be found by repeated spinning. Favorite songs are: "Asleep in the Deep", "The Motherload" and "Ember City".

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun 2014

1. "Tread Lightly"   5:14
2. "The Motherload"   4:59
3. "High Road"   4:15
4. "Once More 'Round the Sun"   2:58
5. "Chimes at Midnight"   5:32
6. "Asleep in the Deep"   6:12
7. "Feast Your Eyes"   3:23
8. "Aunt Lisa" (feat. The Coathangers) 4:08
9. "Ember City"   4:59
10. "Halloween"   4:39
11. "Diamond in the Witch House" (feat. Scott Kelly) 7:49

 Troy Sanders – bass guitar, vocals
 Brent Hinds – guitars, vocals
 Brann Dailor – drums, vocals
 Bill Kelliher – guitars, vocals


Christian Muenzner - Beyond The Wall Of Sleep (2014)

Christian Muenzner's shredding style look like the one that really fit my ear. He got metal enough riffs, quite spectacular metal actually. He is technically killer, so when the need to listen a full speed licks, there is also exist. His choice of scale also interesting, not an usual one at least. Then there is awesome composition to combine all of them. The general feel of this 2nd solo album still fit really well on his first one. "Beyond The Wall Of Sleep" has all aspect mentioned above. His style is not as djent , as complicated as Jeff Loomis or Stephen Forte. Yet, also not as "easy listening" as ,ehem, John Petrucci casually doing. Balance is the word.

This is yet another album where I enjoy all the track. So not easy to highlight ones. Two of the openers is featured with another guitarist. "Shadow Over Innsmouth" is straightforward fast speed shred, featured with Danny Tunker, guitarist of Aborted. "Mountain Of Madness" is the more brutal version of the first song. Both running at almost exact time of five minutes. In this second song, Terry Syrek is the featured guitarist, enjoy his almost 'waterfall' like notes on this track. The main title song "Beyond The Wall Of Sleep" changed the course with mystical scales. We got to enjoy the shred partner, keyboardist Jimmy Pitts in action. For drummer Hannes Grossman, his song is "The Witch Of Endor", very strong neo classic supported with precised drumming. "Nightlife" is having a nice groove in there. How about killer riffs in the intro of "Demon's Gate". The last song is for those worship technical typing licks, it is all on "Veil Of The Soul".

Christian Muenzner wonderful guitar mastery reflected well on this album. The quality is straight tight with the first album. The support of his bandmates is also one factor in making this album superior. He should stand on the same boat with other popular shredders, yet I still amaze at how little exposure he got from the internet. Amazing progressive metal guitar instrumental album.

Favorite track: The Witch Of Endor, Demon's Gate, Veil Of The Soul

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Christian Muenzner - Beyond The Wall Of Sleep (2014)

1. Shadow Over Innsmouth
2. Mountain Of Madness
3. Beyond The Wall Of Sleep
4. The Pit And The Pendulum
5. Evil Spell (The Book Of Belial)
6. The Witch Of Endor
7. The Talisman
8. Nightlife
9. The Green Traveller
10. Demon's Gate
11. Veil Of The Soul

Jimmy Pitts (The Fractured Dimension, Spastic Ink, Pitts/Minnemann)-keyboards
Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura, Noneuclid)- bass
Hannes Grossmann (Obscura, Blotted Science)-drums
mixed and mastered by Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry)
guitar guest soloists Danny Tunker (Aborted, track 1) and Terry Syrek (track 2)


Marty Friedman - Inferno (2014)

Marty Friedman is surely one of most popular metal guitarist around there. His career indeed interesting. The story begin with his duet with the legend Jason Becker in the '80s, for this one he played neo classical shred metal, with some sort of 'exotic' scale licks. Then comes to the story of Megadeth, thrash metal is happened to be in his blood at that time. After departed from Megadeth, he begin his adventurous solo career. In his earlier solo albums, such as "Introduction" and "Scenes", you will never guess the guitarist is the same guy playing for Dave Mustaine. These are albums that best describe as the electric guitar in the New Age ala Kitaro. Those are also albums I like very much, must have albums in every shred lover dictionary. Rather then, Marty begin his 'fourth' styles, his own signature style, combining modern metal, J-Rock, New Age and kind of electronic music. In which he begin with "Music for Speeding", "Bad DNA", "Loudspeaker", and finally this new album, "Inferno". To cut the story sort, this latest album, Inferno is indeed his most serious attempt to conquered this style.

Lots of guest guitarist / vocalist are in this album. Look at their name you'll realize the choice is as experimental as his music. Alexi Laiho is the best known name. He invited to play in a metal-core laden track in "Lycanthrope", his other co-partner is Danko Jones. Danko is musician in a Canadian group simply called Danko Jones. Lycanthrope itself is heavy, leaning toward thrash metal and fit the growling vocal in used there. The other vocal tracks are "I Can't Relax". It is in ultra fast and can categorized as modern rock. Then a bass-liner "Sociopaths" featuring David Davidson from Revocation, also an aggressive thrash - death style. Although we prefer instrumentals, these three tracks are not bad at all. Marty surely has interesting song writing to prove.

On the instrumentals, "Meat Hook" is the most exciting. Can you imagine Marty's exotic-obsessed scale meets metal meets jazz. This is only happened with Jørgen Munkeby as the guest musician, he is Norwegian jazz fusion-ist. this is again most grinding track around. Then listen to "Wicked Panacea" , a track where Marty jammin' with Mexican flamenco duo, Rodrigo and Gabriela. It's marked the interesting Latin meet Exotic theme. On the original Marty Friedman - "Kitaro" style, the best track is the slow "Undertow". This is also the special track where drummer Gregg Bissonette and bassist Tony Franklin is in the line up.

Speaking about drummer, Jeremy Colson of Steve Vai fame is on board. His fresh and aggressive style is best fit Marty's music. Long time bud Jason Becker contributed composition in "Horrors". This is Cacophony era shred, that neo-classic nylon licks rules. Marty Friedman's owned signature style tracks most recommended is "Steroidhead", this is very Djent-ism, low string riffs track. This song played together with Keshav Dhar, Indian instrumentalist. Then if you not shuffle the track list, the first two songs should be "Inferno" and "Resin" , the first mentioned is ultra fast shred opener. The second is mid tempo Scene-era intro, then developed into fast and staccato licks.

Inferno re-instate Marty Friedman. First, he is still the fast guy, able to shred all the way as needed, listen "Hyper Doom". Second, he still consistent with his signature exotic scale, we can quickly identified in every licks. Third, he is also one hell of writer, putting all obscured ideas and boxed it with interesting composition. Inferno is at least bring interesting idea to his "fourth" style, read first paragraph again. The number of imported talents make this album a value plus, bring in names to watch and find out why Marty asked them to play in his album. Fans of Marty Friedman and shred guitar, and fans of Megadeth, this should bring Marty back on the map.

Favorite tracks: Meat Hook, Undertow, Wicked Panacea

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Marty Friedman - Inferno (2014)

01. Inferno
02. Resin
03. Wicked Panacea (feat. Rodrigo y Gabriela)
04. Steroidhead (feat. Keshav Dhar)
05. I Can't Relax (feat. Danko Jones)
06. Meat Hook (feat. Jørgen Munkeby)
07. Hyper Doom
08. Sociopaths (feat. David Davidson)
09. Lycanthrope (feat. Alexi Laiho & Danko Jones)
10. Undertow (feat. Gregg Bissonette & Tony Franklin)
11. Horrors (co-written by Jason Becker)
12. Inferno (reprise)

Marty Friedman - guitars
Jeremy Colson - drums, vocals, Steve Vai

Guest musicians
Alexi "Wildchild" Laiho - guitars, Children of Bodom
Gabriela Quintero - guitars, Mexican guitarist duo
Rodrigo Sanchez - guitars , Mexican guitarist duo
David Davidson - guitars, Revocation
Jorgen Munkeby - Norwegian jazz solo artist
Keshav Dhar - Indian multi instrumentalist, Skyharbor project
Danko Jones - Canadian jazz trio