Blackwelder - Survival Of The Fittest (2015)

Except for the guitarist, Blackwelder will quickly recognized by metal fans by just looking at the line up. This must be the next project by Ralf Scheepers outside his Primal Fear day jobs. Aquiles Priester is the next big name to mention. He just appear on Tony MacAlpine's latest solo album . Bjorn Englen, ex Yngwie and also part of Tony MacAlpine band. It's only the guitarist that required me to googled up his name, Andrew Szucs is the one trusted to carried out all the axing and hack job. Put all together we got their first album, Survival Of The Fittest, visualized with eye catching cover artwork.

Listen to the first opening song, "Survival Of The Fittest". Through a simple leading melody we landed on catchy riffs followed by headbanging groove when the vocals kick in. Ralf's voices quickly dominated the scene and we know who is the boss here. The second song simply rock n' power in style, "Spaceman", is kind of over the top AOR song with stormy guitar chops and drum all over it. Very interesting song, solos are quite jaw dropping for somebody who just handshake with Andrew. We got to interesting guitar instrumental track in "Adeturi", shred in neo classical style. Looks who is speaking now. His neo-classical licks still can be hear on "Inner Voice" intro then in "Remember the Time". The later is quite epic metal in spirit. You may want to surprise yourself with other excellent songs.

This is the album where expected nothing but straightforward power metal. There are not much brain twisting complicated composition here. Just old time formula where the guitar gave in the power riffs, followed up with blasting double pedal drumming. Needless to say, Ralf Scheepers is the front man that top all talents into his voices. He is closely followed by our newly discovered talented guitarist. Andrew Szucs that gives the shipload of solos and riffs, he is the boss on the six strings. As mentioned, Aquiles Preister impressed us with his top speed foot works, nothing beat a 300rpm double pedal fills in. So please welcome, Blackwelder.

Favorite tracks: Spaceman, Adeturi
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Blackwelder - Survival Of The Fittest (2015)

01. The Night Of New Moon
02. Spaceman
03. Adeturi (instrumental)
04. Freeway Of Life
05. Inner Voice
06. With Flying Colors
07. Remember The Time
08. Play Some More
09. Oriental Spell
10. Judgement Day

Line Up:
Ralf Scheepers - Vocals (Primal Fear, ex-Gamma Ray)
Andrew Szucs - Guitar (Seven Seraphim)
Bjorn Englen - Bass (Dio Disciples, Tony MacAlpine, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen)
Aquiles Priester - Drums (Primal Fear, Hangar, ex-Angra)



Martin J. Andersen - Six String Renegade (2015)

This is a semi instrumental hard rock album done by guitarist Martin J. Andersen. Six String Renegade is the debut album for Martin, who is the guitarist of Blindstone, hardrock / blues band from Danish. If you haven't heard about his name, google him now. The style has been around American blues and hard rock.

The first track is instrumental The Fire Burns Within , very much open for a fascinating guitar teasing hour ahead. Six String Renegade and Dirty Little Angel are blues rock that focus on vocal and also incredible amounts of blues solos inside. On the cover are notable The Trooper by Iron Maiden. The Trooper turned into backing track for Martin to lay out some killer licks and solos, if you are Iron Maiden fans do not missed this one. For the closing it is Anthem For Humanity, an nine minutes epic instrumental that guested by Torben Enevoldsen, Michael Denner (ex-Merciful Fate) and Soren Andersen.

Attractive package on this album, Six String Renegade, as the title suggest, is a celebration of guitar music and song. The instrumentals tracks are worth collected by shred fans while the vocalized song will please the blues rock fans because they are highly enjoyable. Another valuable addition from quite unknown guitarist into my collection.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Martin J. Andersen - Six String Renegade (2015)

01. The Fire Burns Within (instrumental)
02. Six String Renegade
03. Dirty Little Angel
04. Strange Dreams (Frank Marino cover) (instrumental)
05. Never Ending Climb
06. The Trooper (Iron Maiden cover) (instrumental)
07. Freak Flag Flying
08. Funky State Of Mind
09. Stranger (Johnny Winter cover) (instrumental)
10. Anthem For Humanity

Peter Bruun and Jesper Bunk on bass
Klaus Agerbo on drums
Martin J. Andersen on guitars and vocals
special guest Michael Denner, Torben Enevoldsen & Soren Andersen at "Anthem For Humanity"


Tony MacAlpine - Concrete Gardens (2015)

The 12th studio album from Tony. Concrete Gardens once again contained all shred guitar instrumentals. On this album, Tony supported by Aquiles Priester on all tracks and three other bassists. Jeff Loomis appeared on one song, "Square Circles". Some of the tracks are being recorded live with video, you can view it on EMG PickUp TV. Also Nili Brosh appeared on the live video.

Most of the songs done in progressive metal manners. "Exhibitionist Blvd." as the opener gives a concrete melodic licks, the song flows from one to the other parts smoothly. Mind blowing transitions and aggressive drumming. "The King's Rhapsody" is rather Djent-like, lots of dissonances scales, quite contrast from the first one. "Man In A Metal Cage" started with blasting drumming fills, the shreds on its full speed. "Poison Cookies" back to "average" tempo and melodic approach, suitable for beginner's ears. "Sierra Morena" is one of the album highlight, twin guitar attacks, odd metering, well, basically any progressive tricks and ideas put in together. It is continued to "Square Circles", Jeff Loomis joined in for a couple of bar jamming. These songs performed live in EMG TV studio Youtube channel. "Confessions Of A Medieval Monument" is kind having bit of power metal spirit. Tony closed the album with his trademark piano exercise, "Maiden's Wish" is quite a virtuoso pieces.

Concrete Gardens is one of Tony MacAlpine best album lately. Compare to his 2011 Self Title album, this one having more concrete basis to enjoy. The main menu is progressive metal, but it is done with excellence composition in it. Not just a blasting nowhere notes by average guitarist, Tony polished every song with great details. Aquiles Priester must enjoy playing on this album very much, his chops are top notch. This maybe the album where I really impressed by Aquiles after many years. Superb shred album that must be listened by all guitar lovers.

Favorite tracks: Exhibitionist Blvd, Napoleon's Puppet, Square Circles, Sierra Morena, Poison Cookies
Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Tony MacAlpine - Concrete Gardens (2015)

01. Exhibitionist Blvd.
02. The King's Rhapsody - see Videos
03. Man In A Metal Cage
04. Poison Cookies
05. Epic
06. Napoleon's Puppet
07. Sierra Morena - see Videos
08. Square Circles - see Video
09. Red Giant
10. Confessions Of A Medieval Monument
11. Concrete Gardens
12. Maiden's Wish

    Tony MacAlpine – guitar, keyboard, bass (tracks 2, 3, 5, 10), production
    Jeff Loomis – guitar solo (track 8)
    Nili Brosh - guitar
    Aquiles Priester – drums
    Pete Griffin – bass (tracks 1, 4, 6–8)
    Lucky Islam – bass (track 9)
    Sean Delson – bass (track 11)
    Adair Daufembach – mixing
    Seva – mastering
    Michael Mesker – executive production


Michael Kiske & Amanda Somerville - City Of Heroes (2015)

This is the second studio album for Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville duet, City of Heroes. Noted that they are now using expanded full version of their name, instead of simply Kiske/Somerville. The backing musicians are very much the same, Magnus Karlsson and Mat Sinner are on duty to provide arrangements. City of Heroes come with slightly different feel compare to the past debut album. While the debut sounds very much Timo Tolkien, City of Heroes is leaning more towards Magnus Karlsson world of power metal. Michael Kiske sounds very much home, this maybe his most power metal project, as compare to his other job in Place Vendome or Unisonic. Amanda Somerville is given more wide range tasks from operatic voices to soul-like singing,

"City of Heroes" is the usual opener with tasty intro riff, then the guitars are chopping through out the song. Michael Kiske sings the most of the song with Amanda providing powerful backing. This song can be describe as ideal power metal + Kiske + female voices setup. "Walk on Water" is rather quick piano + orchestra ballad incoming but then we'll know why.  It's a real potential hit. The song quickly do the male and female duet arrangement. Everything went out really epic when we got to the power chorus part, well remembered. The composition get their teeth shown well on the third track "Rising Up". The song will be good sung by any power metal singer, and of course absolutely beast in the hand of Michael Kiske and Amanda. It's a slowly built up, the orchestra parts is no brainer and the choruses are again well written. "Breaking Neptune" is another interesting point in the middle section. Started with re-touched familiar riff. It is interesting because the song done in simple one-two pedal drumming yet the accompanied musics are heavily symphonic metal. "Ocean of Tears" is teary violin ballad, come in real slow tempo and Amanda Somerville takes the control. Everything back in track with "Last Goodbye", guitar orientated heavy metal track. "After the Night Is Over" is the third ballad, this one done with acoustic guitar on top.

Aparts from the lead Kiske / Somerville spot light, Magnus Karlsson's melodic solos also contributed to the composition something like the third voices. We can say the song writing are really get into good hand by the musician team and executed well by the duo. We also witness one of few female power metal drummer, Veronika Lukesova in action. Her drumming didn't indicated anything feminism , instead as hard as any men can do. Kiske / Somerville is transformed into highly waited project, perhaps in rival to other "duo" such as Allen / Lande project. There is not much complained for power metal fans, this is one of the year highlighted album.

Favorite tracks: Walk on Water, Rising Up, City of Heroes
Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Michael Kiske & Amanda Somerville - City Of Heroes (2015)

01. City of Heroes 04:02
02. Walk on Water 04:16
03. Rising Up 04:44
04. Salvation 05:59
05. Lights Out 04:49
06. Breaking Neptune 04:09
07. Ocean of Tears 04:28
08. Open Your Eyes 04:17
09. Last Goodbye 03:47
10. After the Night Is Over 04:57
11. Run with a Dream 04:39
12. Right Now 05:18

Line Up:
Michael Kiske - Vocals (Unisonic, Avantasia (live),  Place Vendome, ex-Helloween)
Amanda Somerville - Vocals (Avantasia (live), Aina, ex-Epica (live))
Magnus Karlsson - Guitars & Keyboards (Magnus Karlsson's Free Fall, Primal Fear)
Mat Sinner - Bass & Backing Vocals (Primal Fear, Silent Force, Sinner, )
Veronika Lukesova - Drums

Guest Musician:
Sander Gommans - Lyrics on track 6 (ex-After Forever)


Magic Kingdom - Savage Requiem (2015)

You ask, couldn't the band's name be more cliche? Magic Kingdom, is indeed sounds like the penultimate of power metal archaic. The band is mainly consisted of Dushan Petrossi and Vasiliy Molchanov.  Both are active in another power metal band, Iron Mask. The vocalist for their latest album, Savage Requiem, is Christian Palin, ex-Adagio. The line up completed with Michael Brush in drumming.

Savage Requiem is simply power metal album with lots of shred, neo-classical licks, and symphonic elements. Compared to theirs last album, Symphony of War, the new album didn't has growling vocal elements anymore, this is also the one with heavier music. Songs are typical but have their own merit in each one. "Guardian Angels" started pretty heavy. Nothing can beat the galloping minor scale power metal riffs and thus the first song built up the mood easily. "Rivals Forever" is in the other way, fast guitar licks backed up with string attacks to make up teeth reeling song. If you followed Iron Mask, this song pretty much resembling some of their song in Black As Death album. "Full Moon Sacrifice" is the one with more mid tempo song. "Ship of Ghosts" is the double melodic guitar solo intro, well as we expected, Magic Kingdom quite recycling every possible gimmicks, including the famous Ode of Joy by Beethoven theme in the solo guitar. "Four Demon Kings of Shadowlands" see some more complicated song structure. The most guitar orientated song to be "With Fire and Sword", which see the band trying Yngwie Malmsteen theme. "Dragon Princess" is their ballad and come with piano version, which I prefer. The album finished with "Battlefield Magic", well quite a Baroque theme combined with neo-classical metal altogether.

All songs in Savage Requiem polished well, whether in the beginning intro, song structure and other parts. In short, the album combined many creative points, something that must be interesting when the band is playing in power metal genre. Dushan Petrossi is no doubt the happiest guy in the band as he storm out thousand of amazing licks in each song. Christian Palin voices is enjoyable, strong and has it authority. Magic Kingdom's Savage Requiem in first class power metal album that going to gallop you with magic and fantasy world in any day.

Favorite tracks: Guardian Angels, Ship of Ghosts, Dragon Princess
Metal Harem class: ********** eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Magic Kingdom - Savage Requiem (2015)

01. In Umbra Mea 01:08
02. Guardian Angels 07:08
03. Rivals Forever 05:16
04. Full Moon Sacrifice 06:30
05. Ship of Ghosts 04:43
06. Savage Requiem 06:35
07. Four Demon Kings of Shadowlands 07:03
08. With Fire and Sword 05:52
09. Dragon Princess 05:55
10. Battlefield Magic 06:26
11. Dragon Princess (acoustic)

Line Up:
Christian Palin - Vocals (ex-Adagio,)
Dushan Petrossi - Guitars (Arms of War, Iron Mask)
Vasiliy Molchanov - Bass (Iron Mask)
Michael Brush - Drums (Celestial Wish)

Magic Kingdom band artwork


Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015)

Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015) album review

The wait is over. Four years since Imaginaerum in 2011, and two years since the acquisition of Floor Jansen from the power metal world. Endless Forms Most Beautiful is the Nightwish's new album, marking the new era, well, the third era. Not only Floor Jansen is the obvious attraction here, but the band also swift deeply now into new musical direction. The theme of Endless Forms Most Beautiful itself is  Evolution and Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species". On band formation, drummer Jukka Nevalainen is not in the recording, instead Kai Hato from Wintersun is recording all of the parts. Troy Donockley is official member now, the first and may be the only uileann piper in metal band. The album has massive energy to be unleashed just by facts on paper.

If memory served us well, long ago Nightwish was known by its female operatic voices, who sing under neo-classical power metal genre. When Tarja no longer around, Nightwish altered the style and resulted in heavier, symphonical metal. The vocal style itself, by Annette,  no longer an exclusive signature to Nightwish. In E.F.M.B. where Floor Jansen debut, Nightwish also did not returned to the operatic voice character. Floor Jansen sing in her own style, but mainly "need" to fit into Nightwish newly, ambitious heavy orchestration metal invention.

Just like Imaginaerum, where the orchestration is begin to get large portion of the music, E.F.M.B. is even more ambitious. The first opening is "Shudder Before The Beautiful". After a spoken introductory, we got the very first new Nightwish riff after four years. It is still intact with old 'classic', it's very Dark Chess of Wonders in sibling, so old fans should feel connected. The different is, this opening start with calm singing line, something that indicated the song is only beginning part of the whole E.F.M.B. concept album. Middle solos are awesome, all three melodic player takes turn, the pipers, guitars and keyboardist. The orchestration of course on its different level now, it is real arrangements with real composer in charge. The song first impression is, kind of too generic for Nightwish and general female symphonic metal, though it is really kicking ass.

"Weak Fantasy" is where we need to face with many more orchestration. The song has  more character development of Nightwish and Floor Jansen style. Very strong reply to the first song. "√Član" itself is already known as a single release prior to the album. It is very radio friendly, easy listening one from the band. "Yours Is An Empty Hope" is full orchestrated heavy piece, where we got to listen Floor Jansen in her full metal mode. "Our Decades In The Sun" is the middle break ballad, arrangement of piano and backing orchestration are great. "My Walden" is the movie score like song. Troy's piper come in force in this song.  "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" is the peak of three elements, Nightwish guitar signature riffing, Floor Jansen singing explorations and backing symphonic arrangements. "Edema Ruh" is another easy and simple track with strong folk elements. "Alpenglow" is recollection of some old Nightwish string riff, though I hardly can remember the exact song they are "adapting". "The Eyes Of Sharbat Gula" is the usual Nightwish's instrumental break, choirs and strong string layer in this one. Finally, "The Greatest Show On Earth" is their most serious composition, extended to 24 minutes. Nightwish has finally joined Dream Theater and Rhapsody of Fire in giving the last for the best. I suggested everyone to take time, listened to the hard work of the band on this ambitious piece.

One loophole the album need to avoid is to not to bore the listener with too many repetition. Endless Forms Most Beautiful is very close in getting this trouble, with many orchestration parts, kind of repeated in other forms and songs. Especially with the last lengthy lengthy finale. But, all those problem can be meet by repeated listening and the quality will show up. Floor Jansen is kind of getting her different form of performance. Good maneuver, as she herself already has ReVamp for other creative outlet. In short, we satisfied with creative ideas compiled in this album, certainly the waiting time is worth.

Favorite songs: Weak Fantasy, Shudder Before The Beautiful, Elan, My Walden
Metal Harem class: ********* nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015)

1. Shudder Before The Beautiful
2. Weak Fantasy
3. √Član
4. Yours Is An Empty Hope
5. Our Decades In The Sun
6. My Walden
7. Endless Forms Most Beautiful
8. Edema Ruh
9. Alpenglow
10. The Eyes Of Sharbat Gula
11. The Greatest Show On Earth

    I. "Four Point Six"
    II. "Life"
    III. "The Toolmaker"
    IV. "The Understanding"
    V. "Sea-Worn Driftwood"

    Floor Jansen - lead vocals
    Marco Hietala - lead vocals, growls, bass guitar
    Emppu Vuorinen - lead guitars
    Tuomas Holopainen – keyboards, piano
    Troy Donockley – uilleann pipes, tin whistle, backing vocals

Additional musicians
    Kai Hahto - drums (Wintersun)
    Richard Dawkins - narration
    Pip Williams - orchestral arrangements
    James Shearman - Conductor
    Metro Voices - choir

    Tuomas Holopainen - production, mixing
    Mikko Karmilla, Tero Kinnunen - mixing
    Mika Jussila - mastering
    Toxic Angel - cover art


Impellitteri - Venom (2015)

Are You Ready? The latest Impellitteri album is here. Venom 2015, is Chris Impellitteri's 10th studio album. Guess what, Rob Rock is on the vocal duty, as always. Well, the last Impellitteri's studio album is  "Wicked Maiden" in 2009, and if the Rob Rock's album counted in, his latest "solo" album dated 2007 in "Garden of Chaos". So, it's been quite a long time for the duo rest their guitar neck and microphone. Beyond this point, we got some of side projects by them, Impellitteri in AniMetal series, and Rob Rock in Driver "Countdown".

What we got in Venom is the revival of Impellitteri + Rob Rock classics. The melodic metal song + shred guitar that once famously done in Impellitteri's "Eye of the Hurricane" era . The first track, "Venom", is of course venomous in every aspect. The guitar main theme riffs is hot, shredding on a sick neo-classical influence arpeggios, harmoniously unison-ed by the drum roll, is definitely coherent with Rob Rock screaming "Are you ready???". The second track "Empire of Lies" continue the streak of stormy drum beat and shredding guitar licks. The vocal kind of trying to hit any highest pitch available there by Rob Rock. Lots of interesting melodic singing line backed up with thunderous backing vocal. The 3rd song is very Whitesnake in my ear, "We Own the Night" is maybe deliberately a mixing between "Fool for Your Loving" with "Still of the Night" in the spirit of Dave Coverdale. In other word, a classic '80s heavy metalium. The pace is slow down when we reach "Face the Enemy" intro, but don't get fool around, the song developed into mid to fast heavy metal tunes. The song is once again more '80s heavy metal rather than the typical Impellitteri's power metal. Talking about power metal, the one that comes with that is closely done in "Time Machine", typical power metal riffs is preserved well too. Other notes are "Jehovah", and you bet this is one of their religious song as the title (may) suggest. This is answered with "Rise" in the next play list.

You can't asked for more guitar works as in every song, Chris spoiled us with his faster-than-the-speed-of-light solos. The other enjoyable thing is the drumming. The drum is so kicking ass it sounds like machine gun firing with all his cylinders. Well done by Jon Dette, who list of experiences ranging from Killing Machine, Anthrax to Slayer. The bassist on is album is James Amelio Pulli, perfectly escorting the rhythm part and you bet he got an excellent time working with the three other guys. Venom is worth  the six years spend in waiting. Chris Impellitteri definitely refresh his band with this album. Get them fast.

Favorite tracks: Venom, We Own the Night, Time Machine
Metal Harem class: ********* nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Impellitteri - Venom (2015)

1. Venom
2. Empire of Lies
3. We Own the Night
4. Nightmare
5. Face the Enemy
6. Domino Theory
7. Jehovah
8. Rise
9. Time Machine
10. Holding On

Chris Impellitteri - Guitars (ex-Vice, Animetal USA)
Rob Rock - Vocals (Driver, ex-M.A.R.S., ex-Axel Rudi Pell, ex-Joshua Perahia)
James Amelio Pulli - Bass
Jon Dette - Drums (Killing Machine, Anthrax (live), Iced Earth (live), Metal Machine (live), ex-Apocalypse, Animetal USA, ex-Testament, ex-Heathen (live), ex-Slayer (live))

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