31.12.11

Chickenfoot III (2011)

Well, Chickenfoot is the band where you want to listen Joe Satriani with vocal. The second album of this supergroup coming at September 2011. The first tracks immediately familiar yourself with Satriani outer space scale licks. The blend between Hagar vocal line and the guitar is the most unique aspect here, in Chickenfoot. While the rhythm crew (Anthony, Smith) maintained the spontaneous beat.


Chickenfoot III
buy at Amazon Vinyl  or CD 

1. "Last Temptation"   4:02
2. "Alright Alright" (Chickenfoot) 4:39
3. "Different Devil" (Hagar, Satriani, Chad Smith) 4:24
4. "Up Next"   4:33
5. "Lighten Up"   5:12
6. "Come Closer"   4:08
7. "Three and a Half Letters"   4:07
8. "Big Foot"   3:49
9. "Dubai Blues"   5:02
10. "Something Going Wrong"   5:16
11. "No Change" (Hidden track)" (Chickenfoot) 4:24

Additional personnel
  • Mike Keneally – piano, organ (2, 3, 6)
  • Monique Creber - background vocals (6)
  • Joani Bye - background vocals (6)
  • Linda Bye - background vocals (6)
  • Mike Fraser – production, engineering, mixing


29.12.11

Top 30 Favorite Metal Albums of 2011

I'm going to write down what are the best metal albums experience I've in year 2011. I decide to group it into groups, each with five albums since it is too absurd trying rank all of them.

So here it is, the top 30 metal albums of 2011, it is a personal list. The considerations are the album basically an overall most enjoyable album, most anticipated, greatest surprises (for less known band) . I hope this serve as recommendation list for you. And I am sure I missed out so many albums, especially by less known bands.

Top 30 Metal Albums of 2011

Top 1-5:
1. Nightwish - Imaginaerum - [Amazon]
2. Theocracy - As the World Bleed - [Amazon]
3. Iron Mask - Black As Death - [Amazon]
4. Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Event - [Amazon]
5. Symphony X - Iconoclast - [Amazon]

Top 6-10:
6. Megadeth - Th1rt3en - [Amazon]
7. Within Temptation - The Unforgiving - [Amazon]
8. Divinefire - Eye of the Storm - [Amazon]
9. Pagan's Mind - Heavenly Ecstassy - [Amazon]
10. Rhapsody of Fire - From Chaos to Eternity - [Amazon]

Top 11-15
11. Power Quest - Blood Alliance - [Amazon]
12. Galneryus - Phoenix Rising - [Amazon]
13. Iced Earth - Dystopia - [Amazon]
14. Ancient Bard - Soulles Child
15. Arch Enemy - Khaos Legions - [Amazon]

Top 16-20
16. Axenstar - Aftermath - [Amazon]
17. Serenity - Death & Legacy - [Amazon]
18. Astral Door - Jerusalem - [Amazon]
19. Iron Savior - The Landing - [Amazon]
20. Dragonland - Under the Grey Banner - [Amazon]

Top 21-25
21. Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising - [Amazon]
22. Royal Hunt - Show Me How to Live - [Amazon]
23. Mystic Prophecy - Ravenlord - [Amazon]
24. Alestorm - Back Through Time - [Amazon]
25. Draconian - A Rose for The Apocalypse - [Amazon]

Top 26-30
26. Stratovarius - Elysium - [Amazon]
27. Stormwarrior - Heathen Warrior - [Amazon]
28. Falconer - Armod - [Amazon]
29. Symfonia - In Paradisum - [Amazon]
30. Leaves Eyes - Meredead - [Amazon]

Please also enjoy my top Guitar Instrumental Metal Albums of 2011.

27.12.11

Stephan Forte - The Shadow Compendium 2011

There are several interesting guitar shred album released by axeman of famous metal band in 2011. But Stephan Forte's The Shadow Compendium is one of my most anticipated guitar album. He told us about this project much time behind ... and make us await. Being in progressive band, Adagio, Forte need to released his other guitar energy on his other project such as his private album. Not much to say, playing virtuoso in neo classical style in late 2011 years, need great nerve and creativity to not repeated the same guitar "licks" from this exhausting genre.

To add more spices, this album also included jamming partner in crime, other crazy guitarist such as Jeff Loomis (who going to put out 2nd album soon in 2012), Glen Drover, Mattias IA Eklundh and others. Notable are the opening track, The Shadows Compendium, is a track in heavy harmonic minor thing. De Praestigiis Daemonum is more progressive in scale, Forte duet with Mattias Eklundh here. But we soon arrive on third tracks Spiritual Bliss, where the guitar take on spiritual stand and calm down the tempo and the music more ambient. This continue with the fourth title, Duat, back again to 200 bpm thing and double bass drumming.

Propechy of Loki XXI is intrique piano + guitar shredding track. And the album ended calmly with, perhaps, the only suspected filler of the album. So,  the album is a bit complicated in melody, and something unusual melody, slightly ala Vai but in neo-classical metal style. The straight forward guitar shred tracks are only half of the album. This album will take up your time until you are too familiar yourself and love it. Highly recommended and absolutely must have for guitar lover.

Stephan Forte - The Shadow Compendium
buy from Amazon here

01 - The Shadows Compendium (guests: Jeff Loomis / ex-Nevermore & Franck Hermanny/ Adagio)
02 - De Praestigiis Daemonum (guest: Mattias IA Eklundh / Freak Kitchen)
03 - Spiritual Bliss
04 - Duat (guest: Glen Drover/ ex-Megadeth)
05 - Sorrowful Centruroides (guest: Derek Taylor /Solo artist)
06 - Prophecies Of Loki XXI
07 - I think there’s someone in the kitchen (guest: Daniele Gottardo/Solo Artist)
08 - Improvisation on Sonata no. 14, c # minor - Op. 27 no 2

excellent cover graphic design and artwork by Ludovic Cordelières



24.12.11

Iron Mask - Black as Death (2011)

If you looking for new release this week, Iron Mask's newest album , their forth, Black as Death maybe tempting your eyes to pick it up. That's because their cover album is great, and not coincidence the material put inside is great as well.

This is my first time listening to Iron Mask (and mainly due to that excellent cover album design), but soon I found out the guitarist sounds familiar, that is Dushan Petrossi. Petrossi is also guitarist in another band called Magic Kingdom. As in many metal personalities in Europe, they tend to polygami-ed many bands for their musical aspiration seems not enough just to put under one flag.

When I read the past music of Iron Mask, they should sounds neo-classical metal. But Black as Death maybe sounds too power metal and too heavy to expect something like earlier Yngwie Malsmsteen material. Especially with two ex-Yngwie vocalist on the album, the mentioning of Yngwie is justified. Because not only Mark Boal and Goran Edman (guest vocal on track "Magic Sky Requiem"), Yngwie ex-keyboardist also present, Mats Olausson.

After the opener, Black as Death is the real opening track with heavy and powerful "Black.... as Death". But then there is Broken Hero with epic intro and mid tempo semi ballad power track. Feel the Fire is the one more closer with neo classical guitar shred intro and its harmonic minor ala Yngwie. Genghis Khan is an obvious oriental scale track, the intro utilizing something Chinese Erhu (one string violin) and Pipa (guitar). Excellent track and a rare one in metal.

God Punished, I Kill open with Gregorian chant, and I can mention all the rest tracks of the album, it seem every tracks is great. So I will just concluded a give the damn album as 9/10 points.

Iron Mask - Black as Death 2011
buy at Amazon

01. From Light Into The Dark
02. Black As Death
03. Broken Hero
04. Feel The Fire
05. Genghis Khan
06. God Punishes, I Kill
07. Rebel Kid
08. Blizzard Of Doom
09. The Absence
10. Magic Sky Requiem
11. Nosferatu
12. When All Braves Fall

Line-up
Mark Boals - lead vocals
Dushan Petrossi - all guitars, orchestral samples
Vassili Moltchanov - bass
Mats Olausson - keyboards
Ramy Ali - drums
Oliver Hartmann - backing vocals and choirs
Roma Siadletski - extreme vocals
Goetz "Valhalla Jr." Mohr - guest vocals on 13
Goran Edman - guest vocals
the winning album cover graphic design , design by Genzoman

21.12.11

Evanescence - Evanescence 2011

Evanescence released their third album in October 2011, self titled (or mirrored ..) "Evanescene".The album supported by rejoining guitarist Troy Maclawhorn. This album went quite complicated producing phase, went from producer Steve Lillywhite  and then producer for the second session, Nick Raskulinecz. So expectly, this album is higher.

I am not really listen a lot to Evanescence, they are "half metal" to me, (the other half, pop). But being a very commercial successful metal-format female band, Evanescence is a must hear. If only the music included a guitar solo, more double beat drum (instead of nu-metal like drumming) and thicker orchestration, Evanescence will probably easiest to enter the symphonic - gothic - metal realm. Especially with singer as charismatic Amy Lee (one of my favorite). But Evanescence play more in commercial friendly area, and they were very good on that.

Having said that, this album also great in tune. Mean, only by two or third listening, all songs will be familiar and enjoyable. The first track and their single, What You Want, is a great opener. Typical Eva sound and great stadium beat feel. More heavier on second track, Made of Stone, the vocal line are great and gothic. A bit setback is, after this point the rest of song quite sounds in the same beat. Until Erase This break in. And for the Deluxe Edition, additional songs added. But except End of the Dream, Never Go Back and Dissapear, you will need to reserve your ear to about ten of mellow songs with Amy Lee vocal as highlight of enjoyment.

So it is the third Evanescence album you can enjoy and you'll get a wide variation of Amy Lee singing. Overall a mellow pop ballad with layered distortion but few are very catchy songs as well.



Evanescence - (2011) - buy from Amazon
1. What You Want
2. Made of Stone
3. The Change
4. My Heart Is Broken
5. The Other Side
6. Erase This
7. Lost in Paradise
8. Sick
9. End of the Dream
10. Oceans
11. Never Go Back 
12. Swimming Home

Deluxe edition bonus tracks
13.New Way to Bleed
14. Say You Will
15. Disappear
16. Secret Door



19.12.11

Divinefire - Eye of the Storm (2011)

Divinefire is a band composed of notable metal musicians based in Finland. The singer is Christian Lijegren, also sing in the band Narnia previously. They do a symphonic power metal, heavier than the usual with blazing drumming. And they are Christian based band to add for more twist!

In March 2011, Divinefire released the album Eye of the Storm and I recommend everyone who love symphonic power metal to check and buy this out. Strong song composition combined with heavy orchestration is the trademark here. The vocals works are also great, not only the band base singer do the duty but there are also German Pascual (ex-Narnia), Toni Kaikkonen (Code For Silence, Sons Of Aeon). Musicians Pontus Norgren (Hammerfall), Carl Johann  Grimmark (guitar virtuoso ex-Narnia, Rob Rock), Thomas Vikström (Therion, Candlemass, Mehida), Andreas Passmark (Royal Hunt) and Markus Sigfridsson (Harmony, Dark Water) and so on.

So an amazing little less known album here if you ask me.

Cover art and promo graphic design:


Divinefire Eye of the Storm 2011  - buy from Amazon here

01. Time For Salvation
02. Hold On
03. Unchain My Soul
04. Bright Morning Star
05. To Love And Forgive
06. Even At My Lowest Point
07. Send Me Out
08. Masters And Slaves
09. The World's On Fire
10. Never Surrender
11. Masquerade
12. Close To The Fire

more information on this URL hosting : http://www.divinefire.net/

Line-up
Germán Pascual - vocals
Per Christian Liljegren - vocals
Jani Stefanovic - bass, drums, guitars, keyboards, vocals

9.12.11

Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)

Progressive titan Dream Theater had facing such a dramatic turns of events earlier this decade. In 2010 the band went a bit lossy in intensity of jammin' together. The drummer and co founder of the band, Mike Portnoy, somehow feel exhausted (or did he feeling boredom playing Dream Theater??) asking for a long term rest time. Rest of the Dream Theater band didn't feel agree and decide to do something crazy, trying to continue playing without Portnoy.

So, if you haven't watch the Youtube three episodes of madness searching for replacement, they managed to found a replacement drummer. Mike Mangini, among six other drummers, did the audition. Mike Mangini fully completed the mission and he is in. Mike Mangini is, a super veteran drummer for so many crazy metal stuffs around the decade including earlier works with Annihilator, Extreme, and I think several stuff with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai.

So, the band quickly recorded new album, and named "A Dramatic Turn of Events" and released September 2011. As big fan, it is completely excitement for me to hear what would Dream Theater to be after a change in their arsenal. The last three DT albums, started from Octavarium, Systematic Chaos and BCSL are perhaps three almost identical albums. So I wish to see this new album able to break in.

Album started with blazing epic feel (and Grammy-ish) On the Back of Angels. One can hear previous Portnoy-ish phrases are missing now , notable the triad drum power fill, replaced by new Mangini's fill. But seriously, if you didn't look for the change it will not present to your ear, since Mangini is fully integrated.
Not bad stuff and a promising start. Second song started a bit worrying with computerized drum machine but in a second goes into full DT sound. La Brie's vocals are giving great feeling to the song here. Bridge in the Sky is another point of interest with interesting chanting intro. The album finished with '90s era DT style of ballad, Beneath the Surface.

Over all the album tune down a little bit of complexity and giving more space to symphonic elements and other experimental stuff. Still I prefer and love hearing this album and after two months of listening, it is as high as their previous three late albums. Even so, as changing in drum beating part, A Dramatic Turn of Events is great way to re introduce to Dream Theater. And Mike Mangini present now is interesting point of Dream Theater history,


A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)
buy from Amazon

01. On The Backs Of Angels
02. Build Me Up, Break Me Down
03. Lost Not Forgotten
04. This Is The Life
05. Bridges In The Sky
06. Outcry
07. Far From Heaven
08. Breaking All Illusions
09. Beneath The Surface

James LaBrie - vocals
Jordan Rudess - keyboards
John Petrucci - guitars, backing vocals
Mike Mangini - drums
John Myung - bass


3.12.11

Theocracy - As the World Bleeds (2011)


Theocracy is a progressive metal band from USA, and to be specific, they sing a Christian influenced lyric with heavy guitar riff decorated there. If you haven't familiar, just imagine music as in Symphony X and Megadeth combined. Lately this November the band released their third album "As the World Bleeds" under Ulterium Label. I haven't listen any of their previous works but familiar with some of their Christmas tunes. And oh my, how surprised I am hearing how fantastic their music on this album to be.

As the World Bleeds is a complete metal experience, started from an 11 minutes epic "I Am", a song with complete symphonic and progressive elements will burn your ear. The guitarist name Val Allen Wood sounds really talented with his mastery over fret board as virtuosic as other well known metal axeman, the guy should be remember well after this point.

Nailed is the album's Youtube release, came before the album official release, the song started with basic formula, a riff and a tasty drumming, yet it is the basic you'll need to enjoy metal. Somehow the vocalist, as good as he is, sounds like he reserve a bit of humor in his voices, the aggressiveness also reminds me of Avenged Sevenfold type of music.  Then there is A Gift of Music, a relaxing tune in the middle. I need to mentioned other favorite tracks, Altar to the Unknown God and then the album closed with the title song, As the World Bleeds. This last one started with a strong worship tune slowly build into awesome metal epilogue.

Theocracy's As the World Bleeds is a great addition to your must have metal album. Commercially the album now charted 40 Billboard Heatseeker Chart as December 2011. The album also seems wide well accepted by critics and internet reviewers. Their social network are active where they maintained good communication with their dedicated fans. A great band with young talented musicians over there. I'll rated this album 9 out of 10.


Album Art Cover


Theocracy - As the World Bleeds (2011, Ulterium)
buy from Amazon


01. I Am
02. The Master Storyteller
03. Nailed
04. Hide In The Fairytale
05. The Gift Of Music
06. 30 Pieces Of Silver
07. Drown
08. Altar To The Unknown God
09. Light Of The World
10. As the World Bleeds

Line-up
Matt Smith - vocals, guitar, keyboards, orchestration
Val Allen Wood - guitar
Jonathan "Jon" Hinds - guitar
Shawn Benson - drums
Jared Oldham - bass

Nightwish - Imaginaerum 2011

My amateurish album review on Nightwish's Imaginaerum:

One of the greatest female fronted metal band on Earth todays, Nightwish put on their latest release early December this 2011 year. This is the second album of Nightwish, with their second vocalist, Annette Olzon, which is already more than five years on board. The album is much await because the world of symphonic metal has chances in a fierce pace and their classic Nightwish metal formula had been copying endless times. Everybody now waiting for Nightwish to once again become their rule model and wait for what they still have to once again top their rivals.

This album surely one of high point in symphonic metal. Nightwish's Imaginaerum, the album name, is not very much following their previous works. Firstly, Annette Olzon is now singing in full Gothicesque style, rather than in sopranic as in Tarja. And the song is now fully adapted to her vocal. The album also write in a red line of conceptual album, telling a story of an old composer while laying on his bed. Rumours saying it is an OST to a movie with the same title. Less guitar heavyness. But now the album experimenting with folk, jazz and more theaterical elements.

The intro Taikatalvi is not a grandeaur operatic Overture style. But rather a calm introduction. Unfortunately, this is very much quickly become "boring" in my hearing and we just couldn't wait to skip it right to the next masterpiece, Storytime. Storytime is the best song opener yet, blend hundred percent with Annette vocal style. Storytime is the album's single, release on youtube and download site pre release of the album.


Storytime Single Art Design

The second song, Ghost River, slightly back to Nightwish old metal sound. Then come the jazzy Slow, Love, Slow. I Want My Tears Back come next with folkish melody intro. After this point it just couldn't help for Nightwish to dive into the more theatrical show. Songs are become intense and intense and the singer sounds wilder and wilder. And I think Annette singing remind me of Bellatrix LeStrange of Harry Potter! The listener will keep holding breath waiting for final climax, which is long way to come.

Great show so far. The albums best listen in one shoot. One of strong release this year.

Visual Art Design from Official Website

Line-up
Anette Olzon - vocals
Tuomas Holopainen - keyboards
Erno "Emppu" Vuorinen - guitars
Jukka "Julius" Nevalainen - drums
Marco Hietala - bass, vocals

Guest musicians
Pekka Kuusisto - violin
Troy Donockley - uillean pipes, tin whistle, vocals
Kai Hahto - drums

Imaginaerum - Get Imaginaerum Album Package from Amazon
01. Taikatalvi
02. Storytime
03. Ghost River
04. Slow, Love, Slow
05. I Want My Tears Back
06. Scaretale
07. Arabesque
08. Turn Loose The Mermaids
09. Rest Calm
10. The Crow, The Owl And The Dove
11. Last Ride Of The Day
12. Song Of Myself
    1 - From A Dusty Bookshelf
    2 - All That Great Heart Lying Still
    3 - Piano Black
    4 - Love
13. Imaginaerum


Imaginaerum Album Graphic Design by Janne "Toxic Angel" Pitkänen



the Movie 'Imaginarium' teaser poster




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