27.1.15

Veonity - Gladiator's Tale (2015)

Coming out from the jungle of Swedish power metal is Veonity with their debut album Gladiator's Tale. The album contained every power metal needed, fierce guitar riffs and most of all, excellent baritone  power vocals backed by power harmonies. Check their song such as the "Into Eternity", "Slaves in a Holy War", "Phoenix Arise" which all demanded to be put in the same leagues as Sabaton and friends. Especially in Into Eternity where the chorus brings back nuances from the old Helloween's Keeper of Seven Keys era. "Gladiator's Tale", is their single, yup another tight power song but watch out the awesome melodic solos in the middle done by their guitarist.

Gladiator's Tale is one and foremost classic power metal, excellently done without the help of its cousin the "symphonic" elements. Their music done simply by the two guitars attack and stormy double pedal drum. Bombastic album that will lead you headbanging all the way through.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Veonity - Gladiator's Tale (2015)

01. Into Eternity
02. Phoenix Arise
03. Unity
04. Let Me Die
05. Slaves in a Holy War
06. Chains of Blood
07. For the Glory
08. Gladiator's Tale
09. Warrior of Steel
10. Born out of Despair
11. King of the Sky
12. Farewell


Kristoffer Lidre - Bass
Joel Kollberg - Drums
Samuel Lundström - Guitars (lead)
Anders Sköld - Vocals (lead), Guitars

21.1.15

Blind Guardian - Beyond The Red Mirror (2015)

From the guardian of power metal, here comes the tenth studio "Beyond The Red Mirror". Behold all followers and worshipers, Blind Guardian is back. With so many good years passing by, and so many young generations that made Blind Guardian as their inspiration, could Hansi Kursch and friends still on top of their game? To make sure of it, the band has to go all out, putting lengthy chorus intro in "The Ninth Wave" which is their first song. In a quick listening, it seems Blind Guardian now adopt even more symphonic elements on their music. The choice of implemented less-double-or-galloping-pedal drumming on their first song is strong indication the band wanted to go something else by now. Nevertheless in nine minutes it is possible to put lots of interesting elements in, rich song structure and some killer guitar duo solos. Heat up is hot riffs for "Twilight Of The Gods" and now we are back to Blind Guardian classic. Much trivial is a song "At The Edge Of Time", as we know is also the title of their previous album. A song that received help of intricate orchestral string attack. "Ashes Of Eternity" is their straight forward heavy tracks.    Also interesting is "The Throne", a song that has interesting operatic singing in it. The only full ballad song is "Miracle Machine", but no folk instrument a la Bard Song because it is indeed done with piano accompaniment.

Still "Beyond The Red Mirror" has many melodies to enjoy. Just that the album is now more symphonic than ever, in the cost of lessened the folk elements. Compared to "At The Edge Of Time" this is also slightly decreased in heaviness. "Beyond The Red Mirror" supported by full backing voices, Hansi Kürsch offered the same singing level as any their previous albums. In the same time, as with any Blind Guardian albums, the sound mixing is signature where it is kind of muddy and mid frequency only. It is a concept album, sequel to one of their previous album, done in a premise of "...when the world of science-fiction and fantasy become worse, the red mirror is the gate left..." It is the first album without long time Oliver Holzwarth in bass. And the story ends.....

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Blind Guardian - Beyond The Red Mirror (2015)

1. The Ninth Wave
2. Twilight Of The Gods
3. Prophecies
4. At The Edge Of Time
5. Ashes Of Eternity
6. The Holy Grail
7. The Throne
8. Sacred Mind
9. Miracle Machine
10. Grand Parade

Hansi Kürsch – lead and backing vocals
André Olbrich – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Marcus Siepen – rhythm guitar
Frederik Ehmke – drums, percussion

Charlie Bauerfeind - production
Barend Courbois - bass guitar



20.1.15

Serious Black - As Daylight Breaks (2015)

This is a serious group consisted of member with amazing "ex-" attributes. First is Roland Grapow, of ex-you-know-which-band is. The vocalist is Urban Breed of Project Arcadia, Dark Empire, and Tad Morose anyone? The next personality is Thomen Stauch of ex-Blind Guardian. Then we got Dominik Sebastian from Edenbridge, Jan Vacik of Dreamscape and ex-Visions of Atlantis bassist, Mario Lochert. All on board, and let's examine the music they offered.

First of all, the group named themself Serious Black. Many sources said this is not just another Roland Grapow project but a real band. As Daylight Breaks is their debut album. Comes with bulky 14 songs, inclusive of bonuses, they are all melodic metal in general. The first impression on "I Seek No Other Life" is pretty much, utterly, standard melodic power, with speedy drums and thick harmonize vocals. Their stronger song is the followed up "High And Low" which offered some serious power metal with leading keyboard theme on top. The band try to be a bit of progressive in their third song "Sealing My Fate", where they begin the song in calm piano before everyone kicks in full blasts. Then the band going oriental with "Temple Of the Sun" and "Akhenaton", this is maybe their most memorable song in the album. If you want something more technical, tune in "My Mystic Mind".

One must said it is hard to initially get the band's style signature, as the band looks only intend to re-create good old melodic metal. Sound mixing is extremely crystal clear. Musically they are quite balance, the vocal parts are all excellently executed with many harmonies and choirs. Keyboardist Jan Vacik help bring up the atmosphere with fantastic background soundtrack, as evidence in "As Daylight Breaks". His progressive metal background is not wasted here. Duet guitar solos from Grapow and Dominic, crazy bass and drum playing. This all good things make easy for vocalist Urban Breed to just finish the composition with his strong character voices. Serious Black in As Daylight Breaks is a great all around melodic metal to enjoy.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Serious Black - As Daylight Breaks  (2015)

01. I Seek No Other Life
02. High And Low
03. Sealing My Fate
04. Temple Of The Sun
05. Akhenaton
06. My Mystic Mind
07. Trail Of Murder
08. As Daylight Breaks
09. Someone Else s Life
10. Setting Fire To The Earth
11. Older And Wiser
12. Listen To The Storm
13. Fly On
14. No Son Of Mine

Line Up:
Urban Breed - Vocals (Project Arcadia, ex-Dark Empire)
Roland Grapow - Guitars (Masterplan, Roland Grapow, ex-Helloween)
Dominik Sebastian - Guitars (Edenbridge)
Mario Lochert - Bass (Emergency Gate, ex-Visions of Atlantis)
Jan Vacik - Keyboards (ex-Dreamscape)
Thomen Stauch - Drums (Savage Circus, ex-Blind Guardian, ex-Heavenward, ex-Iron Savior)

19.1.15

Sweet & Lynch - Only To Rise (2015)

In the light of holy and unholy alliance, Michael Sweet has team up with George Lynch for a fascinated all star 80's hair rock band. Michael Sweet rightly comes up from the Stryper, instantly remembered as prominent hair rock and Christian band of the 80's, and George Lynch, the bad boys from Dokken and later his very own Lynch Mob. So then the yellow strip has found its yellow strip (refered to George's beloved guitar design motif) counter part. To make it more exciting, the two yellows are joined by two ex-albino's. Bassist Brian Tichy is summoned, he was all around player most famous when served under White Snake of David Coverdale. Then James Lomenzo who grown up with the White Lion. Such an all star musicians that at a glance too good to be exist.

The music itself in their first record, Only To Rise, is  most based on Michael Sweet influence but heavilized by George Lynch signature guitar riffs. Well the album title already sounds "Stryper-esque" indeed. The first song "The Wish" is also one of song that video clipped. Pretty much simple '80s hair rock with Michael Sweet voices easily can make it very close to any Stryper song. Much classic is the 2nd track "Like A Dying Rose", which we got Lynch begin to infiltrate into the song's feel with his guitar licks. Another exciting song is "Time Will Tell", still very much under Michael's influence but at least something more 'generic' hair band, in a good way. "Rescue Me" is showcasing drum's parts a bit in the intro. A mellow ballad song in "Me Without You" with interesting guitar playing on thick chorus effect. George Lynch enjoys his moment in "Divine" where he outburst some more intrick guitar riffs. Something also excellent in the follow up song "September". The album ended with even more heavy songs culminated in the last "Only To Rise".

Although it started up as a variant of Stryper album, but it is then evolved with more diverse style, gladly when George Lynch begin to show his teeth. The overall album tension is nicely arranged where it is really climaxing on the last part of the album. Both bassist and drummer didn't just sit there and they contributed in many good moments, supporting the main casts. In this collaborations we kind to see both musicians able to break up from their routines and enjoy what the other guys gives in. George is a beast when support by veteran song writing such as Michael Sweet. This album brings back many glory of '80s hair metal, one of excellence collaborations between stars.

Favorite song: Like A Dying Rose, Time Will Tell, Divine
Metal Harem class: ********* nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Sweet & Lynch - Only To Rise (2015)

1. The Wish
2. Like A Dying Rose
3. Love Stays
4. Time Will Tell
5. Rescue Me
6. Me Without You
7. Recover
8. Divine
9. September
10. Strength In Numbers
11. Hero-Zero
12. Only To Rise

Line-Up:
Michael Sweet – Vocals, Guitar (Stryper)
George Lynch – Guitar (ex-Dokken, Lynch Mob)
James Lomenzo – Bass (ex-White Lion, ex-Megadeth)
Brian Tichy – Drums (ex-White Snake, Foreigner, Ozzy Osbourne )

16.1.15

Angelus Apatrida - Hidden Evolution (2015)

Spanish thrash / heavy metaller is back with their fifth studio album "Hidden Evolution". The band gained increased success since their strong Clockwork works in 2010. In this album, the quartet continued their journey in the worldwide style of thrash metal. Some of the songs really dig out Megadeth style cross breed to Slayer, Kreator and Testament all at once.

"Immortal" is heavy opening, high speed appetizer to brings us in the thrash zone. The style demands lots of technical guitar playing while the singer pulled out excellent voices recreating landscape of thrash metal from the '80s. "First World of Terror" has a song title that sounds like Kreator of Europe or Testament in the West world. It is indeed an headbanging song with lots of references to those two bands. In the third song, it is more Megadeth we got in "Architects", the same feeling if you jump to the last song, "Hidden Evolution" is also very Mustainesque in style. How about Metallica, they would probably best captured in the song "Serpents on Parade", although taken mostly from their Kill Em All era. There are ten songs in the album that contained many Angelus Apatrida's very owned kitchen, from rather technical "End Man", a speed worship "Speed of Light", and the low pitch riffs in "I Owe You Nothing".

One should praised the singer Guillermo Izquierdo, who seems to have a collections of "voices" from Dave Mustaine,  Chuck Billy to Kreator's Milland Petrozza. Hidden Evolution is a solid collections of thrash metal. In any moments in the album we will found thrash metal in their glorious form. No kidding in finding references of many thrash metal bands which maybe the only trolling we can brings up. Beside of that, it is a solid headbanging music from Angelus Apatrida.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Angelus Apatrida - Hidden Evolution (2015)

01. Immortal 05:15
02. First World of Terror 05:01
03. Architects 04:24
04. Tug of War 06:09
05. Serpents on Parade 03:11
06. Wanderers Forever 04:26
07. End Man 05:29
08. Speed of Light 04:22
09. I Owe You Nothing 05:18
10. Hidden Evolution 09:00

Guillermo Izquierdo - Lead vocals, Lead guitars
David G. Alvarez - Lead guitars, Back vocals
Jose Izquierdo - Bass, Back vocals
Victor Valera - Drums, Back vocals



2.1.15

Favorite Guitar Shred Instrumental Album of 2014

Year 2014 was another year full of shreds, here the list of my most favorite guitar album of the year.

Two big names that reserved the top of the list:


00. Paul Gilbert - Stone Pushing Uphill Man (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

Paul recorded his favorite tunes and played it again in instrumental setting. Interesting licks and also, interesting choices of songs.



00. Marty Friedman - Inferno (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

Marty is going ever heavier than before. His style in this so called 'modern rock guitar' is perhaps best shape in this album, Inferno.



01. Daniele Liverani - Fantasia (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

Prolific guitar composer Daniele Liverani has finally put out album that stand out among others. Fantasia is all around guitar shred album, from neo-classic, prog metal to '80 rock.



02. Fabrizio Leo - Spectrum of My Past (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

Spectrum of My Past is great album with all around styles. The album is simple and full of melodious hard rock licks.



03. Christian Muenzner - Beyond the Wall of Sleep (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

If you want something heavy and complexes, Christian will always blow your mind with this amazing instrumental album.



04. Adrian Weiss - Easy Game (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

Adrian put out many new ideas in this fresh instrumental guitar album. All styles with mainly progressive and heavy metal.



05. Yossi Sassi - Desert Butterflies (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

An album full of oriental music with guitar in the foreground. Desert Butterflies will bring you to the Mid Eastern desert and dance on.



06. Demian Heuke - Treumal (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

Pretty much twin album with Adrian Weiss'. All around instrumental album with many enjoyable phrases and licks.



07. Stephan Forte - Enigma Opera Black (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

Going strong with his 2nd solo album, Stephan gives us more complexes music to tackle. Enigma Opera Black is a combo of neo-classical, prog and djent, pretty intense.



08. Andy Martongellia - Spiral Motion (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

A nice album to get introduce to new shredder, Andy. Various styles in rock, and quite heavy indeed.



09. Brian Larkin - Far Enough Into the Void (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

Brian's Far Enough Into the Void is multi styles instrumental album ranging from hard rock to fusion.



10. Francesco Artusato Project - Our Dying Sun (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

As usual, the project gives us heavy and mind blowing progressive metal album.



11. Wayne Calford - Shred Alliance (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

Yes, literally a guitar shredder alliance in one album, from Michael Angelo Batio, Per Nillsson (Scar Symmetry)  and another dozen of guys.



12. Nicolas Waldo - Master Of the Universe (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

If you only need to hear neo-classical licks in every minutes, this is it.

NOTABLE KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM 2014


Michael Pinnella - Ascension (2014)
Buy it Here - Review

If only Michael willing to hire guitarist to shred along with his keyboards, this gonna be top list shred album of 2014. Indeed the keys itself is sufficient.

OTHER NOTABLE ALBUMS
...that I missed in initial list:



Toomas Vanem - 1 (one) (2014)
buy it HERE

Hailed from Estonia, Toomas released 1 (one), which is an instrumental album with a mix of hard rock and fusion. His style is universe and it is clear he is very prolific in his instruments.


more to followed ........

29.12.14

Michael Pinnella - Ascension (2014)

How often you want listen prog metal just to hear for its keyboard parts? Yes, the one that has the coolest sound and shred fast as hell. Now, with this album by Michael Pinnela "Ascension", you got to listen to that one for the whole album.  Ascension is that mind blowing instrumental prog album, 100% build up from keyboard point of view. There are only one side of story here, the keyboard shred parts. There are ten tracks and for 52 minutes it is keyboards all the way. The line up notes state only Mike himself doing all of this. Even no guitarist was listed.

So, the whole album is pretty intense, pretty insane. This is the encyclopedia of progressive metal riffs and groves compiled into one album. From track one "New City Rising" up to "From Empty Places", they are all in same vibes, of fast and furious, complexes rhythm, shredding keys. "La Batalla En La Niebla" is kind of slowing down and has more melodic parts. Nice thing here is Michael Pinnella put a lot of grand piano sounds in here, to be pair with the synthesizer sounds. The one with dramatic orchestration can be heard in "Welcome Home". As well the classical wanna be tracks in "The Great Escape" and "The Ascension".

Nonetheless, the rest of album of course represented many of Symphony X elements. With almost all his member doing side projects, we can only hope they still got materials for their main band. Asension is truly keyboard-piano album that going to pleased prog fans for its mastery. My only lamentation is, there are no other artist join forces for this, one hell of guitarist will do. Last words, don't missed this.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Michael Pinnella - Ascension (2014)

1. New City Rising (4:21)
2. Flip Side Of Things (4:20)
3. From Empty Places (6:17)
4. La Batalla En La Niebla (5:59)
5. Miswired (4:27)
6. A Weight Of The World (5:22)
7. Spiders Web (4:34)
8. Welcome Home (4:30)
9. The Great Escape (5:30)
10. The Ascension (7:09)

Michael Pinnella (Symphony X) - piano, keyboards, bass & drum programming

Releases information

Label: Knife Fight Media
Format: Digital
December 15, 2014