Secret Sphere - Portrait of a Dying Heart 2012

Secret Sphere’s main attraction is their new singer, Michele Luppi. As we know, Michele is one of top rank vocalist in power metal genre, singing for Vision Divine, Thaurorod and others, so his present in the band surely catapult more popularity to Secret Sphere. It’s a significant move by the band’s leader, Aldo Lonobile (guitarist) to bring Michele in, because after half dozen of studio albums Secret Sphere is still an underrated band in the jungle of Italian power metal scene. The new album they were working on is called Portrait of a Dying Heart, yet another concept album with original storyline fresh written by author Costanza Colombo.

The first chapter is a six minutes instrumental track. Rather risky to put a long intro, but here we go a progressive metal composition with duelling solos of guitars and keyboard in Portrait of a Dying Heart. After that Dream Theater “Overture 1928”-like prelude, Michele Luppi enter calmly in X, and need only second for a blasting double pedal attacks. And for sake of goodness, it’s a solid five minutes narrating without solos. Wish & Steadiness is a dramatic answered, holding thigh orchestration and choir effects. Riff gone berserk can be found in track The Fall, which only neutralized in Lie To Me as the counter slow song. Same thing in Secrets Fear as an ultra fast song followed by ballad The Rising of Love.

In every song, Secret Sphere success in rising listener’s attention with creativity. Every song are well composed with memorable intro. No devastating repetition in the whole sixty minutes work. Composer Aldo Lonobile able to put his team into solid technical works and make Michele Luppi vocal integrated well. An album of progressive and power metal supported by first class voice, worth listening time for every power metal fans.

Metalharem class : ******** eight stars out of ten

Secret Sphere - Portrait of a Dying Heart 2012
buy it here

1.Portrait Of A Dying Heart
3.Wish & Steadiness
5.The Fall
7.Lie To Me
8.Secrets Fear
9.The Rising Of Love

Aldo Lonobile- Rythm and lead guitar
Michele Luppi- Vocals
Andrea Buratto- Bass
Gabriele Ciaccia- Keyboards
Marco Pastorino- Rythm guitars
Federico Pennazzato- Drums
Record Label: Scarlet Records

Thy Majestie - ShiHuangDi 2012

The first clue, Shi Huangdi is the name of China’s first emperor back in Qin dynasty dated 222 B.C. This historical events provide interesting heroic story line which picked up by Thy Majestie, an all Italians guys playing power metal. A good idea and although remains skeptical,  this is a much knocking thought rather than seeing another dragon slaying Medieval era story line. It’s also thrilling to see the implementation of oriental folk element into the music, but actually other than a brief moments here and there, the album is pretty standard power metal. So here the musical journey of the event where the last states of Qi (among the other seven states) failed to defend their border and fall into pacifier warlord, which declared himself later as Shi Huangdi.

The intro Zhongguo, a pinyin spelling for “Central Kingdom”, is a close call to dynasty era folk music. It gives the grandeur feeling, the Emperor army marching on Gobi desert feel. Following first opener track is Seven Reigns which completely a Rhapsodians thing as we well known. The connecting elements is the oriental scale playing in the solos, as expected from this concept album. Harbringer of New Dawn repeat the oriental female chanting intro then let the song for another complete Italian power metal chops. Sibling of Tian (Sky) come in as a more galloping Viking folk metal with its tasty leading oriental melodic line. Walls of Emperor bring the most famous and thematic story of ShiHuangdi, about the suffering mainland population during the construction of the Great Wall, the music is elaborated nicely. You can imagine the noise of chart and workers breath through its brief intro. Then  Under the Same Sky is a powerful theme to put in the song, as well as the accompanying music is getting better to respond the East Asia-tic story.

It’s a long historical phrase which is something similar to one of the most famous jargon from warring China , Tian Xia 天下. Which can literally translate as Under the Same Heaven (Tian Xia Wei Gong 天下為公). A very political yet powerful phrase used by many warlord to proclaimed their mandate to unified the Central Kingdom.

Almost a climax is soundtrack Huanghun following with Ephemeral, an epic power metal with Mainland melodic scale. The last chapter is Requeim , after all of the bombastic events priors, I think this is come anticlimax on the musical side.

Although it left rooms for more implementation of exotic scale in the compositions, Thy Majestie not failing to bring the closer feel to ancient China as the story line required. Another historical concept album by wrapped in epic style by them, previously they had done Jeanne d'Arc theme and others. Singer Alessio Taormina seems like the one missing chain in the whole Thy Majestie adventure in power metal, and he finish the job well. If you fans of Eastern Asia history, fans of Jin Yong novel, the Romance of Three Kingdoms, or even fans of Shi Huangdi, this is the album for you!

Metalharem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Thy Majestie - ShiHuangDi 2012
Buy it here

01. Zhongguo
02. Seven Reigns
03. Harbringer of New Dawn
04. Siblings of Tian
05. Walls of the Emperor
06. Under the Same Sky
07. Farewell
08. Huanghun
09. Ephemeral
10. End of the Days
11. Requiem

SIMONE CAMPIONE all Guitars and backing vocals
DARIO D'ALESSANDRO Bass and backing vocals


Flotsam and Jetsam - Ugly Noise 2012

Veteran thrash metal band from Arizona come to us with new album Ugly Noise for end of year boxing. Ugly Noise is rather an old thrash metal sound combined with groove metal and modern in it. Listen to Cross The Sky with simply grunge metal riff intro mixed with power chorus. Then Motherfuckery which is industrial element implemented. Then the last of the kind is I Believe which is completely hard rocker. The good news, all the rest of album come with great old riff of thrash metal we know in Flotsam and Jetsam.

Right from Ugly Noise that is, as the cover suggest, a gothic-esque thrash metal with additional piano riff. Straight to the last track Machine Gun which is a head banging tunes with classic solos in it. In between, Run And Hide is a dark slow song that used one fifth of the duration in intro to build up the mood, an epic, a slightly ...And Justice for All nuances here. Also interesting is Rage, their minor feel one word chorus thrash song.

So that's, beside what had warned about intrusion of modern sounds, Ugly Noise is still nostalgic production, by almost all '80 line up. We got Erik Knutson voice and friends to remind us to their glory era. In sum, Ugly Noise is fresh album and kicking parts.

Metalharem class: ******* seven stars out of ten

Flotsam and Jetsam - Ugly Noise 2012

1. Ugly Noise 04:10
2. Gitty Up 03:09
3. Run And Hide 05:28
4. Carry On 04:19
5. Rabbit's Foot 04:17
6. Play Your Part 05:29
7. Rage 03:25
8. Cross The Sky 04:45
9. Motherfuckery 03:07
10.I Believe 02:53
11.To Be Free 03:08
12.Machine Gun 03:17

Kelly David Smith, Drums
Edward Carlson, Guitars
Eric A.K., Vocals
Michael Gilbert,Guitars
Jason Ward, Bass


Empyrean Sky - Extending the Tangent 2012

Empyrean Sky is a band delved into the complexity of death and progressive metal combined. They are only got two album on hand, the first one was from 2004 The Snow White Rose of Paradise. It's extremely good released , they are the death metal version of Wintersun time gap epic and release second album only in the end of 2012, 12-21-12 precisely. Extending the Tangent is once again a raw adventure into the riff jungle of melodic death metal.

Song ranging from traditional death metal to thrash and progressive, on opener For the Sun is a nice reminder of classic Kreator sounds. In the second track, The Lost it is more of a deathcore vibes. The Lost come with extreme middle part break where all acoustic guitars carry on a song ala Ayreon space mood. The work of death metal vocal combined with clean voice is sharply utilized in Noise of Conflict. Then the riff in Ascension is following classic '80 sounds with fast power chord per crotchet maneuver. A Sepultura-like Amazon tribal dance is for song Wide Awake. They even trying some theatrical symphonic effect in Trauma and Tragedy, which is a roller coaster of tempo changing as well the singing voice. It is also good thing to even have a melancholy song insert as in Blood of One. A rather different setting is in Where We Belong which is speed metal feel. The last part is instrumental The Law of Tangents with all their raw '80 audio mix sound.

Here is a highly eclectics album with death metal and progressive as main core of menu. Extending the Tangent is success in bringing attention from the earlier start of every tracks. The clear transposing from fast to slow is a bit repetition but it permissive by their melodic solos or riff. Clearly a works of talented team that transform this album into quite an exhaustive listening of 70 minutes. Singer John Welborn come with vast range of singing style, from classic '80 Death sound into modern deathcore screamer. A superior outcome to their first release and definitely a worth collection for death metaller.

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

Empyrean Sky - Extending the Tangent 2012

1. For the Sun 05:14
2. The Lost 05:20
3. Noise of Conflict 04:02
4. Ascension 06:00
5. Wide Awake 08:44
6. Trauma and Tragedy 07:46
7. Blood of One 08:15
8. Exterminatus 08:14
9. Where We Belong 08:58
10. The Law of Tangents 06:23

John Welborn, guitars, vocals, drum programming
Doug McAllister, guitars
Allen Mate, bass


Bob Katsionis Rest in Keys 2012

The arise of third wave power metal in late ’90 come with a more demanding usage of keyboard. In this generation of bands such as Rhapsody (of Fire), Sonata Artica, and Dragon Force, the keyboard is significant soloist that run along guitar. Of that concept, Firewind surely on the forefront of this madness. The duo melodist between Gus G and Bob Katsionis put the rise of keyboard shred into a new glory. This give a notable fame for keyboardist Bob Katsionis,  that his solo album can’t be taken lightly, indeed is a serious thought provoking music stuff. Rest in Keys is the fourth solo release by Bob, mostly instrumental shred in the vibe of progressive metal.

For the starter, Bob choose to open with vocal track On My Own, featuring Peter Ellis. The song was previously intended to use for Firewind, but according to Bob this was put aside because of sound changes in Firewind. It’s a blessing to his solo album, he said, and truly a catchy way to open. Patented keyboard riff ala early Firewind is there. Singer Peter Ellis of British / Greek talent voice wonderful, he is a blend of Dickinson-Halford as exclaimed by Bob himself. The next song, Gravity Dance is a full progressive metal composition. It is a speedy 2x2 fingers keyboard riff, hence the title name. This song featuring Shadow Gallery virtuoso Gary Wehrkamp. The song Game of Drones was inspired by tv series Games of Thrones, Chris Amott soloing in the middle to a passage of Al di Meola-Phrygian theme, according to the notes! Epirus Rising is odd meter 5/8 riff build up, the composition in Phrygian theme is giving a Mediterranean mood with metal as accompanying music. The other vocal song is Another World that executed  by Maxi Nil. She is Visions of Atlantis' singer at the moment and a long time friend of Bob. The song fit nicely to her vocal, the chorus is catchy and charming. It’s an obvious inspiration from the god of storm and sea then Poseidon’s Rage is super fast shred featuring bandmate Gus G. Then come my favourite song, Falling From the Edge of Space, which according to Bob the hardest to composed on the album. A melodious riff theme adventure from a spacey mood goes into double pedal metal form and a good implementation of bluesy scale guitar solos too.  Rendezvous in the Sky represent by Bob rendezvous with Theater of Tragedy’s singer Liv Kristine. A melancholy mid tempo epic feel ballad driven composition, with a touches of inspirational keyboard solos and haunting narration line by Kristine. The rest two compositions is the pinnacle of Bob creativity on the album. Rest in Keys is flagship song in a perfect shred of keyboard. And finale Four Season of Love is wonderful song open with total acoustic piano improvisation serves well as a soundtrack in nocturnal .

A complete album represent the pinnacle of Bob creativity. A Mediterranean theme progressive metal composition as main body with bite of power metal glory. Long time accompanist are drummer Stelios Pavlou and bassist George Xynda, which both do excellent job holding Bob's centrifugal force. Perfect album for progressive metalhead that looking for endless keyboard inspirations.

Metalharem class: ********* nine stars out of ten

Bob Katsionis - Rest in Keys 2012
buy it here at Amazon

01. On My Own [feat. Peter Ellis]
02. Gravity Dance [feat. Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) guitar]
03. Game Of Drones [feat. Christ Amott (ex Arch Enemy) guitar]
04. Epirus Rising
05. In My Little Big Planet
06. Another World [feat. Maxi Nil]
07. Poseidon's Rage [feat. Gus G (Firewind) guitar]
08. Falling From The Edge Of Space
09. Rendezvous In The Sky [feat. Liv Kristine (Theater of Tragedy, Leaves’ Eye)]
10. Rest In Keys
11. The Four Seasons Of Love

Bob Katsionis – guitars, keyboards
George Xynda - Bass
Stelios Pavlou - Drums (ex-The Silent Rage)


Yngwie Malmsteen Spellbound 2012

In my mind, Yngwie Malmsteen’s last significant album is Alchemy. And that was back in 1999. That is, all the albums beyond this point seems sub standard, musically and production,  to his previous achievement. The criteria is, albums up to Alchemy are still have a “proper” neo-classical originality that defined Yngwie stand on the genre. Then start from War to End All Wars, everything sounds just like a repetition. It’s still ok actually, because in Yngwie Malmsteen team, we almost always get the second frontman that lift up the album when Yngwie himself can’t make it. Starts from singers, Mark Boals, Tim “Ripper” Owen, and Doggie White which provided historical recording to the 2000s era. Not only that, keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Attack! , Perpetual Flame), and Opeth’s Joakim Svalberg (Unleashed the Fury) are actually a big names that saves some of the balls. Just to say, that beside Yngwie’s musically deadlock , there are still left room for fans to enjoy. Now, here the things…. Our  Yngwie is back. We have the new album here, Spellbound out December 2012. Some good news, but straightforward, this album is not yet a comeback. Even worse, now the elements I mentioned before is half gone. There is no “proper” singer for this album. Tim Ripper was reportedly can’t attended the recording session for some reason. What’s now is an album that majority an instrumental tracks, and with Yngwie Malmsteen himself filling the vocal, something he had done before.

The first two tracks are instrumental, which is always a “good news” for those who just enjoy his legendary neo classical licks. Spellbound come with one of Yngwie most memorable keyboard riff in decade. Then come High Compression Fugue, which is .. a fugue of two guitar melody line overlapping musically. Nice one on these. Let Sleeping Dog Lie (or whatever the proper title meant too) is blues thing. Yngwie always fond of blues and his style is actually original to Jimi Hendrix era, although the blues man will dropping jaws complain his over done in speed and licks. And the virtuoso himself providing the blues vocal. On the instrumental songs, Iron Blues is stand out. It’s spare us from the jungle of neo classical licks we too familiar with. Majestic 12 Suite, is a long suite characteristic with Baroque and orchestration. Poisoned Minds is the heaviest track close to what we familiar in trilogy era, with a needed of high pitch screamer to fully the singing duty. Requiem For The Lost Souls is actually fit to end this album, as we still looking for miracle to bring back our lost neo-classical idol.

What needed is a riff as easy as what done by millions of Yngwie copy cat. Then a suitable vocalist to finish the line. As simple as that. Instead, Spellbound is the another continuation of self-done band. Even a musicians as good as himself can’t fix this alone, as it goes for decade long now. This album serves as parade of neo classical guitar instrumental showcase, if you disciples of hell belly shred, this got elements to enjoy.

Metalharem class: ******* seven stars out of ten

Yngwie Malmsteen – Spellbound 2012
1. Spellbound
2. High Compression Fugue
3. Let Sleeping Dog Lie
4. Repent
5. Majestic 12 Suite 1, 2 & 3
6. Electric Duet
7. Nasca Lines
8. Poisoned Minds
9. God Of War
10. Iron Blues
11. Turbo Amadeus
12. From A Thousand Cuts
13. Requiem For The Lost Souls  
Yngwie J. Malmsteen -Lead Guitar / Bass / Keyboards / Lead Vocals
Record Label: Rising Force Records


Golden Resurrection - One Voice for the Kingdom 2012

Christian metaller Golden Resurrection released new album One Voice for the Kingdom in this last month of 2012. It’s their third release, consistently since 2010 every years. Altough Tommy ReinXeed the guitarist also got his solo band ReinXeed around, he keeps some of his best neo classical lick for this band too. The overall sounds of One Voice for the Kingdom is faithful early power metal spirit. Christian Liljegren give wonderful classic voice throughout the album. The band welcome new keyboardist and drummer. Coming in, Alfred Fridhagen , who is also a drummer for ReinXeed project. And Svenne Jansson, live keyboardist for Jerusalem.  Together with bassist Stefan Kack, the quintet give us Christian power metal album with a taste of Helloween-like.

The influence of Keeper of Seven Keys is for the first two tracks of the album. The Temple Will Remain with it riff and opening verse is reminiscent of Helloween’s Alive. Then Spirit War is a tribute to Kiske’s March of Time, followed by Mozart! The flagship song, One Voice for the Kingdom is borrowing the eighties Europe galloping double pedal. It takes to fifth song to make it feel at home with combination of harpsichord shower and neo classical riff, exactly when they titled it Golden Resurrection. Enjoy the solo duel for their two shredders in the middle as the song develop. Even when Tommy try to outdone the intro with a bit of slow blues, it lead into a catchy metal ending, on the song Can’t Slow Down. The next track is for neo classical fans, Heavenly Metal is instrumental composition with that arpeggios and paganinians licks. It’s  melody actually very leading and ‘cantabile’ like, making the impressions that this is intended lyric song, but just didn’t make it. If you like to called it Yngwie Malmsteen-ing neo classical progression, there is Born for the Strangers that combined the most element from the genre. Check the Hammond organ vs guitar in the solo. The album epilogue is Moore Lord, a rather blues instrumental track with possible dedication to Gary Moore.

Again the basic receipt of power metal being wrapped wonderfully by Golden Resurrection. Enough to get it fresh again for being listen by diehard fans, and promoted as introduction for new comer in this genre. Neo classical elements lie on guitar and keyboard shred. The guitar tunes itself is crystal clean and perfect, listen to the killer tunes in God’s Mercy as the Marshall amp itself plug into your ears. Vocalist Christian Liljegren is of course on his high time enjoy each notes here. With elements of belief as the theme, it added kind of extra dimension.. It sure both duo Christian and Tommy were busy with own project or helping other. But if I followed their social network correctly, the album only recorded less than half year. A remarkable pace of production with superior quality. This is fully recommended power metal album probably one of the best in year 2012.

Metalharem classs: ********* nine stars out of ten

Golden Resurrection - One Voice for the Kingdom
buy it here

1. The Temple will remain
2. Spirit War
3. One Voice for the Kingdom
4. Night Light
5. Golden Resurrection
6. Can't Slow Down
7. Heavenly Metal
8. God's Mercy
9. Born for the Strangers
10. Moore Lord
11.  Special Message to Japan
12.  Eternal Freedom

Stefan Kack, Bass
Tommy ReinXeed,  Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals (backing)
Christian Liljegren,  Vocals
Alfred Fridhagen,  Drums
Svenne Jansson , Hammond Organ, Keyboards


Marco Sfogli reMarcoble 2012

Marco Sfogli, guitar shredder that carved his fame in becoming James LaBrie’s solo album axeman. He already released high ecstasy instrumental guitar album called There’s Hope in 2008. With this release alone it is clear the community have high hope of his talent. In that album, Marco sounds heavy and close to progressive territory with lots of catchy riff. So then there now second album incoming the shelves. reMarcoble is follow up release. With reMarcoble, Marco intelligently expand his sound beyond progressive metal and diversed the styles.

Marco started this with short melodious lick in simply movement called Intro. Then Jester’s Tears is mellow rock composition, an Andy Timmons-like and slightly Steve Morse chord progression, with pentatonic minor licks that done in style. The Reaction come as machine beat in the intro, another minor leading riff which is now a metal blend with Steve Vai’s Ultra Zone world. reMarcoble is just like the name, a return to progressive metal composition, that mean lots of lick manoeuvre with Portnoy’s drum licks.  Far From Me is yet another twist of sounds, intrigue composition with even more progressive element. Heartburn is a ballad with clean guitar, piano and orchestra as accompaniment to a killer distortion tunes. Which is you heard a little longer, a saxophone co-leading is something here. A leading tom-tom drum licks is highlight of song Father To Son. The Forest give us a little jazzy feel, with extended Hammond organ solos in, as well last part saxophone lead. Rest of the tracks serves well Marco dexterity on his guitar mastery.

This is pretty much a must listen shred album on the end of 2012 . Each licks are so in flow giving listener little to hold the breath. Not much words need, just get the cd.

Metalharem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Marco Sfogli – reMarcoble (2012)
Buy it here

01. Intro
02. Jester's Tears
03. The Reaction
04. reMarcoble
05. Far From Me
06. Heartburn
07. The Forest
08. Father To Son
09. Save Yourself
10. Song of Ben and C.
11. The Barbarian


Warnot - His Blood Is Yours 2012

Warnot is one man band project by the alumni of Sweden progressive metal band Cloudscape, guitarist composer Bjorn Eliasson. This is his debut album following his departure from Cloudscape in 2009. Bring along the project is seven other vocalists in helping Eliasson to pulled out all his creative creation into live. Thick in progressive metal as in Cloudscape, but the album also diverse into symphonic metal and several heavy metal tunes. All wrap in a recording titled His Blood Is Yours.

Raptures Of The Deep is our first tune. Opening organ background followed by progressive guitar riff is what make the song. If you like Symphony X and of course Cloudscape, this sounds very much home. Eliasson compositional skill is reflected in the second track, The Crow Will Die. It has the bite of synthesizer ornamental, over lapping singing lines, and of course melodious guitar solos. My Darkest Hour is memorable for its killer clean guitar in the background. Another point of interest is Secrets Of Mythology that immediately stealth the attention with violin intro, then the verse and chorus singing line are easy to remember. This lead to another similar approach in RIP, where ambient string dominate the mood. New York is another tune where the mood is different again. Here a brave mix between several vocalist , including female voice, into the song to make this unique among others. The Patriot is the song where female voice is clearly there as main contributor.

Until the last track called Sirens, we are passing through the jungle of melodious progressive metal. Creative song writing is the strong point in this album. The only slightly input is, Eliasson’s sometimes a rather flat singing can be monotonous. The multiple vocalist is also proved problematic in mixing, since some of unique voice characters trimmed to get the universal sound, maybe the minor flaw in production. Artificial drumming, maybe should be considered  replace with in person drummer to get more feel and better acoustic. But here, Bjorn Eliasson completely enjoy his freedom as single composer, and able to enriched the composition in liberty by putting many ornamental phrases. Lover of progressive metal, especially Cloudscape must listen to this.

Metalharem class: ******* seven stars out of ten

Warnot – His Blood Is Yours (2012)
Buy it here at Amazon

1. Raptures Of The Deep
2. The Crow Will Die
3. My Darkest Hour
4. A Late Night Dance With Death
5. Secrets Of Mythology
6. His Blood Is Yours
7. RIP
8. New York
9. The Patriot
10. I Am A Ghost
11. The Wrong Path
12. Sirens

Bjorn Eliasson : guitarist and others
Thomas Bursell known for his voice in Second Heat and Helsingborgs symphony Choirs.
Mike Andersson, Cloudscape, Full Force, Star One, Silent Memorial etc.
Sussi Sorensen, Bo Wilson Band.
Bjorn Persson, Doctor Weird.
Sara Andersson, Helsingborg choirs
Bjorn Eliasson, Cloudscape.
André Mollestam, Growls


Gretchen Menn - Hale Souls 2012

Gretchen Menn is rapidly gaining praise as new shred-lady. She is home base at San Francisco. Her virtuosity is a mix between rock and light jazz influence, can be heard in her debut instrumental album, Hale Souls. The official social network bio on Gretchen said she isn’t your average guitar hero on the rise, and how true is it. The music is actually mature and very Steve Morse influence.

The opening track that also shoot for YouTube video is Scrap Metal. In this opening, Gretchen try to steal listener's attention with catchy riff and dynamic arrangement. The solo parts maybe the simplest in the album. Mean for the next tracks, there are plenty of mind blowing shreds. Listen to the second composition Oleo Strut one will think that this is Steve Morse stuff. The chromatic licks is very Morse-sian. Even the running bass by Stu Hamm is almost identically to what Dave LaRue done. Déjà vu coming up next, is melodious mid tempo song, the combination of overdrive and clean guitar tone is what made the song. We are once again witness Gretchen versatility on fret board in Valentino’s Victory Lap, most of it Steve Morse inspired licks and with a bite of Ritchie Blackmore Rainbow’s riff. Fast Crowd is amazing acoustic guitar show, the strumming groove is fresh. Is It Not Strange bring the mood to melancholy. This is a gutar duet composition. Next is the ‘80s Shrapnel era mood, as set in the song Captured Barricade. A rather dissonance composition for Struck Sleepless, going to the direction of Frank Zappa-ish. The album close with duet of tapping guitar with violin in Fading. Talking about violin, of course this is after Walking Shadow, a solo violin that interrupt all the distortion in track eight.

So, here we got a new breed of Steve Morse’s variation, that still contains a lot original idea by the artist. Gretchen surely bring a new unique sounds with her improvisation. Song writing is creative, and first time listener is likely to lure into her composition that are very captivating. Her style is soft with lot of jazz phrases bring along, this is not your typical pentatonic shred. Being a female guitarist with such extra ordinary talent, surely a bright future and interesting personality to followed by each guitar fans.

Metalharem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Gretchen Menn - Hale Souls 2012

1. Scrap Metal
2. Oleo Strut
3. Déjà vu
4. Valentino’s Victory Lap
5. Fast Crowd
6. Is It Not Strange
7. Captured Barricade
8. Walking Shadow
9. Struck Sleepless
10. Fading

Gretchen Menn – guitar
Stu Hamm – bass
John Mader – drums
Emily Palen – violin
Guest artists:
Angeline Saris – bass on “Scrap Metal”
Jude Gold – second acoustic guitar on “Fast Crowd”
Kirsten Menn – vocals on “Fading”


Demon Hunter - True Defiance 2012

Hail from Seattle is band Demon Hunter. Doing a metalcore act, and inspired their music mostly on Christian believe, the band released their latest album in around April 2012. If you are into metalcore I safe to speak that this album is a great addition to your collections. It is quite diverse in sounds. In this album called True Defiance Demon Hunter throwing tons of headbanging riff and groove to spend sixty minutes of your time sick. The key word is strong melodic driven metalcore in each song. Singing style is powerful but not that too over harsh.

The album begin with Crucifix. The old-tape intro then followed by metalcore riff, the singing is something old school thrash metal sounds. The second song is their best in term of melodic writting. God Forsaken is so much tricks inside. Tight groove, multiple melodic chorus, and a cooling breakdown before the guitar solos. Then My Destiny is going even heavier, the intro riff with a slightly minor thing make this feel epic. Singing style is again heavier than before, remind me of Kreator. The lyric about founding a life goal and life destiny. The next song Wake come in more drumming madness by their drummer, Yogi Watts. Tomorrow Never Comes is a mellow ballad adding dynamic to the album. It comes with melancholy melody intro ala '80s ballad metal. Something with Means To An End which is a cooling down acoustic instrumental after two thrashy groovy songs in Someone To Hate and This I Know. Dead Flowers is last recommend, a mid tempo song full develop into emotional ending track.

There are enough groove to make the live audience shake in constant motion by each songs. Surely Demon Hunter combined many best part of thrash, hardcore and metalcore. Guitar tones are round and clear, leading solos are melodious and rhythm are chugging. Singer Ryan Clark is very versatile in giving the song the dynamic their required, can go into heavier and harsh type then switch to clean voice. Enjoyable album for this genre, especially if you are also into Christian metal act.

Demon Hunter - True Defiance 2012

1. Crucifix
2. God Forsaken
3. My Destiny
4. Wake
5. Tomorrow Never Comes
6. Someone To Hate
7. This I Know
8. Means To An End
9. We Don’t Care
10. Resistance
11. Dead Flowers
12. What Is Left
13. I Am A Stone

Ryan Clark - Vocals 
Patrick Judge - Lead Guitar 
Jeremiah Scott - Rhythm Guitar 
Jonathan Dunn - Bass 
Yogi Watts - Drums 


Aerosmith Music From Another Dimension! 2012

Although I'm not overly fancy about Aerosmith, I do miss them. Their tetralogy Permanent Vacation  - Pump - Get A Grip and Nine Lives were what decorated my CD cabinet back in late eighties / '90s. In their forty years of music producing, I guess every rock / metal fans have a slice of experience with Aerosmith. I wasn't following much their 2000s years. From what I remember Aerosmith keep experimenting in each album. The last album Honkin' on Bobo was a blues concept. For this new album however, we presented a wide variety of styles. What a troubling years Aerosmith had to come before this album is a news widely spread. Steven Tyler health, his career in American Idol, was not taken well by the members, especially Joe Perry. But, when listen to Music From Another Dimension! looks safe to say that that much didn't disturbed this comeback album, after years of absent in original stuffs.

The album begin with LUV XXX, a well audio engineered hypnotize speec. Then a light rock n roll with a bite of female soul singing in Oh Yeah. Second song, Beautiful is much more back to Steven Tyler stuff, a combination of modern rock then accentuation with creative backing vocals.  Tell Me is a ballad similar as Cryin' or I Don't Want to Miss A Thing, which is easily can be top ten single if this were out in the '90 era. Looks like a souls backing vocals is favorite stuff in this album, because in Out Go The Lights is best described as Aerosmith with a Disney's soundtrack-like backing vocals. Guitar solos is shine in this track, melodious blues rock licks enable you to stay relax, especially the extended harmonica solos and 'Uh ah-uh' encore. The riff and song writing level is still keep high in next track, Legendary Child. Now it's the male backing vocals that in charge, and guitar effect accentuation is what made this song memorable. Come next is something Boyzone-ish ballad, What Could Have Been Love. Luckily then it has a power chorus best sings by Steven Tyler. Street Jesus is aggresive hard rock combined elements of Sweet Emotion, fast singing style and funky intro riff.

The second half of album started with country feel Can't Stop Lovin' You, a duet with Carrie Underwood. Making this song something like Shania Twain in hard rock setup. It's wonderful  how  Steven Tyler's voice can be put in a duet with almost every singer and get a great result. Lover Alot trying to break the ice and wake up listener with intermezzo drumming intro. Not stopping here, is We All Fall Down. Piano accompaniment and orchestration to mimic what done in Dream On. Last notable to mentioned is Something, a rather experimental stuff full of psychotic instrumentation. Another Last Goodbye, that co-write with Desmond Child, a vocal-singing-lecture song.

Good accomplishment in this album. Very versatile in styles. This may be because of vast contribution from many co-writers in each song. Aerosmith might be already done most of tricks we hear before, but still they are fresh in this album. Steven Tyler singing is never away too make every song uniquely Aerosmith. Not a bad album by the veteran of rock n roll.

Metalharem class: ********* nine stars out of ten

Aerosmith - Music From Another Dimension! (2012)
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1. LUV XXX 5:16
2. Oh Yeah 3:40
3. Beautiful 3:04
4. Tell Me 3:45
5. Out Go The Lights 6:55
6. Legendary Child 4:13
7. What Could Have Been Love 3:44
8. Street Jesus 6:43
9. Can't Stop Lovin' You (Duet with Carrie Underwood) 4:04
10. Lover Alot 3:35
11. We All Fall Down 5:14
12. Freedom Fighter 3:19
13. Closer 4:04
14. Something 4:37
15. Another Last Goodbye 5:47

Steven Tyler – lead vocals, harmonica on "Out Go the Lights", piano on "We All Fall Down", drums on "Something", mandolin on "Tell Me", production
Tom Hamilton – bass guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Up on a Mountain"
Joey Kramer – drums, backing vocals
Joe Perry – lead guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Something" and "Freedom Fighter", production
Brad Whitford – rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar on "Tell Me", backing vocals

Additional musicians

Russ Irwin – keyboards, backing vocals
Julian Lennon – background vocals on "LUV XXX"
Lauren Alaina – background vocals on "Oh Yeah"
Mia Tyler – backing vocals on "Beautiful"
Carrie Underwood – featured vocals on "Can't Stop Loving You"
Johnny Depp – background vocals on "Freedom Fighter"
Rick Dufay – rhythm guitar on "Shakey Ground"


Orden Ogan To The End 2012

Dave Mustaine's remark in his twitter and thinks this band is pretty cool. Dave was not mistaken, Orden Ogan combined power metal, heavy metal and as the name suggest, folk metal into their music and wrap them nicely. Especially in their latest, To The End. As fellow Germany, the band come out with a regional metal that now get a familiar term as Teutonic Metal. Combining Blind Guardian, Helloween, and also resemble some of Freedom Call's choruses.

Three to four guitar intros done in canon arrangement is lifting up the mood, that is The Frozen Few. This quickly answered with To The End with its blazzing metal riff and let us enjoy the five minutes of Teutonic power. The Things We Believe In then switch to folk metal in spirit of Blind Guardian. Only then the choruses is happier, and made me compared this to some of Freedom Call stuff. Sure the power chorus is also Orden Ogan strong point, Land Of The Dead is full of them. The Ice Kings starts with a piano intro that I almost hear the galloping drum and riff to followed, but this is not the case, instead The Ice Kings is rather mellow ballad song. Till The Stars Cry Out is Helloween-ish intro and body. This World Of Ice suddenly heavier in guitar tone, build up on rather progressive groove. Dying Paradise is traditional metal feel, a rather Accept-ish, pentatonic riff all around. Mystic Symphony as the titled suggest is lift up symphonic metal elements. This is the song that combined many elements altogether. And the Blind Guardian's Bard Song feel in Angels War followed with extensive instrumentation to make this song also stand out in the last part of the album. Take This Light is the closing credit.  Two bonus tracks, Masks and The Battle Of Waterloo is worth to get. Masks is typical power metal , The Battle Of Waterloo is more interesting, full of folk dancing rhythm.

Guitar solos mostly done in extensive, spanning more that typical fill in solos rounds. Sebastian Levermann as the singer can sing in several mood, from power metal, folk feel and darker accentuation. Drum playing is not bad either of course, when most of the song is double beat at it beast speed. To The End offer variety of power and folk metal. Yes, this is done most of time, but Orden Ogan put more writing stuff to make the album will not passed  away without a 'wow'..Just as Dave Mustaine urged to tweet it.

Metalharem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Orden Ogan To The End 2012
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01. The Frozen Few
02. To The End
03. The Things We Believe In
04. Land Of The Dead
05. The Ice Kings
06. Till The Stars Cry Out
07. This World Of Ice
08. Dying Paradise
09. Mystic Symphony
10. Angels War
11. Take This Light
12. Masks [Limited Edition Digipack bonus]
13. The Battle Of Waterloo [Running Wild cover] [Limited Edition Digipack bonus]

Nils Weise - keyboards, vocals
Dirk Meyer-Berhorn - drums
Sebastian "Seeb" Levermann - vocals, guitar
Tobias "Tobi" Kersting - guitar
Niels Loffler / Spoony - bass


Black Country Communion - Afterglow 2012

Another hard rock supergroup here. Black Country Communion is like a three generations all stars musician going into jamming session. Glen Hughes and Jason Bonham of course belong to the elder generations, then Derek Sherinian in the middle and Joe Bonamassa, the million dollar guitarist, is the youngest. Afterglow is their third release. I will not brief more about the miss communication rumored between front members of this group, but just write in a listening notes for this excellent album.

The overall material is blues rock. Cry Freedom for example, a nice blues vocal duet between Joe and Glen with catchy rhythm in the background. Of more hard rock track is the starter, Big Train, Confessor and Common Man, which are going into late '70 nuances, like earlier Aerosmith mixed with Jeff Beck stuff. Guitar is dominant, riff and shred part is best sampled in The Giver. For those looking to spot Derek Sherinian stuff, he is mostly didn't participating in the solos, but more in the background. Of course Glen Hughes and Jason Bonham parts are excellent as well. The drum are fantastic in feel and also put in high technical when required to do the fill. There is also stuff that just 'heavier' in concept just like in Afterglow. For Dandelion, the song just written with Glen Hughes powerful singing approach, he claim to be in good form when tackling this album. Radio orientated song can be selected from This Is Your Time, for its easy listening chorus and groove.

Although the album seems perfect in instrumentation, the highligh is Glen's vocal as well. The vocals are well polished, with each song sounds extremely fit in, with enough improvisation, enough control of each notes. Expectation for album is high, but Afterglow is a simply prove of their music mastery. This will be album best heard in pair with Mike Portnoy's supergroup, Flying Colors.

Metalharem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Black Country Communion - Afterglow 2012
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1. Big Train
2. This Is Your Time
3. Midnight Sun
4. Confessor
5. Cry Freedom
6. Afterglow
7. Dandelion
8. The Circle
9. Common Man
10. The Giver
11. Crawl

Glenn Hughes – vocals, bass
Joe Bonamassa – guitars, backing vocals, co-lead vocals (track 5)
Jason Bonham – drums, percussion
Derek Sherinian – keyboards


FullForce Next Level (2012)

Following a strong debut in album One, FullForce is back with new recording simply called Next Level. Being an ensemble cast of notable musicians in European metal scenes consisct of ex-Hammerfall founder, I wait eagerly when they announced this project several months ago. Unfortunately the original line up with Carl Johann Grimmark is now replaced by Cloudscape's guitarist Stefan Rosqvist. This mean fans of CJ need to find him on another project to follow up his post-Narnia career. While enthusiast of Stefan Elmgren post-Hammerfall and Full Strike will find him ever stronger in this album. Notable different between Next Level and One is up in the air too. One is somewhat progressive and heavier, while Next Level lend to softer tunes and even hard rock, mix with power metal riff.

A two minutes Broken Dreams keep the moment hanging with a nice power metal starter, but in Break It, Crack It, Destroy It the direction is clearer. FullForce is exploring to heavy / hard rock territory now. The peak of this is an almost AOR song in A Night To Remember, which is good one with singer Michael Andersson voice in a Journey like mid tempo ballad. Then in Karma the power metal / heavy sounds back in full force. Then in Visions the trace of progressive infuence as Cloudscape members on board is there. There are thirteen songs altogether, spanning wide from AOR, power metal to heavy progressive song to guitar ballad. The last four songs gone to rather non standard feel that hard to put in a group, which mean simply called melodic metal. Strongest Thing Of All close the album in a beautiful arranged acoustic ballad song.

Of the guitar parts, expected beautiful solos among songs. Stefan Elmgren and Rosqvist sure a nice combo to paired, especially with an album with this great potential melody. Interesting licks exchanged, influence by Hammerfal era, suspect that acoustic ballads track, to Cloudscape. In Next Level, we get something like different side of FullForce, pretty much away from their debut which is heavier. On top of all, it is good to hear FullForce will remain working as a band, although the member looks like all hired gun, except Stefan Elmgren is now back to his musical passion.

Metalharem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

FullForce Next Level 2012
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01. Broken Dreams (2:47)
02. Break It, Crack It, Destroy It (3:45)
03. Back To Life (3:08)
04. A Night To Remember (3:38)
05. Karma (4:43)
06. Whispers (3:14)
07. Smile At The World (3:44)
08. Hate...Love...Drop It! (4:37)
09. Visions (5:09)
10. Course Of Life (3:41)
11. Awesomeness (3:13)
12. Mysterious Ways (5:13)
13. Strongest Thing Of All (4:13) 

Line Up:
Stefan Elmgren - Guitars
(ex-Full Strike, ex-Cans, ex-HammerFall, ex-Lost Horizon ) 
Michael Andersson - Vocals
(Act 3, Cloudscape, Silent Memorial, Planet Alliance, ex-Zaninez) 
Anders Johansson - Drums
(HammerFall, Planet Alliance, ex-Johansson, ex-Silver Mountain, ex-Jens Johansson, ex-The Johansson Brothers, ex-Empire, ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen, ex-Keegan) 
Stefan Rosqvist - Guitars
(Cloudscape, Dawn of Oblivion) 
Tommy Larsson - Bass
(ex-Heed, ex-Dream Evil, ex-Jaggernaut)


My Dying Bride - A Map to All Our Failures (2012)

When came to a good doom metal stuff, I just enjoy the relaxation and atmosphere the genre best done. My Dying Bride with A Map to All Our Failures is the album capable of doing that. From the first guitar notes, listener asked to carefully follow the flow, defined the atmospheric effect and synchronize the mind and body with the music. Lots of big words for describe the mood of AMtAOF.

You can spend eight minutes of stillness in track like Abandones as Christ, or adjust the heartbeat right to more dynamic song called Kneel Till Doomsday. The Poorest Waltz exploit the despair mood in their good song melody. Killer guitar riff that able to rise curiosity to listener to find out more, that is what's going on in this album. We also treated with acoustic violin line, something best in A Map to All Our Failures. Then we also have doom day sound effect in Hail Odysseus, a song that just beginning the climax with intense guitar riff and drumming.

Guitar tone are sounds great, literally singlehand build up the mood. Then the singer Aaron Stainthorpe is able to emotionally connect the song with listener. It's a comeback album in term of sounds more '90s UK doom metal compare to My Dying Bride done in previous two albums. It's a good album to catch up Paradise Lost this year in that sense.

Metalharem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

My Dying Bride - A Map to All Our Failures (2012)

1. Kneel Till Doomsday 07:52
2. The Poorest Waltz 05:08
3. A Tapestry Scorned 08:00
4. Like a Perpetual Funeral 08:32
5. A Map of All Our Failures 07:52
6. Hail Odysseus 08:54
7. Within the Presence of Absence 08:50
8. Abandoned as Christ 08:36

Andrew Craighan ,Guitars
Aaron Stainthorpe ,Vocals
Hamish Hamilton Glencross, Guitars
Lena Abé, Bass
Shaun Macgowan, Keyboards, Violin
Shaun Taylor-Steels, Drums, Percussion


Mob Rules Cannibal Nation 2012

Actually I came across this band by accident while surfing for George's Lynch Mob. It turns out a good one, and find out they are actually exist back in late '90. Now, Cannibal Nation is Mob Rules' sixth studio album. Their previous album Radical Peace is nice, that not fall easily into cheesy power metal crowd. Cannibal Nation is also has its quality, most of songs are heavy in composition and not mean to just gallop and scream.

Serious and heavier nuance quickly arise in the first notes on Close My Eyes, the slow intro develop into epic melodic metal composition. They are in their own class just by this song alone. Another point of glory is in Ice And Fire. Seven minutes epic feel, something similar to Iron Maiden's Brave New World mid tempo feel. The song has keyboardist Michael “Miro” Rodenberg (Avantasi) touch. Lost is almost going as slow as Doom metal feel, but the following up riff is the most classic in metal, and the guitar tone is killer. Mob Rules didn't let listener fall deep into mid tempo songs, come The Sirens for lift up the moment by its horse galloping drum. There still Soldiers Of Fortune and Cannibal Nation, which both again very similar in Iron Maiden, only that Mob Rules has the power metal feel much more.

Some will complaint the album is too mid tempo and not much headbanging. This album mean to be listen in good mood for its complexity. Musicians are well performed, guitar tones sounds best for this genre. Singer Klaus Dirks can bring out the emotional parts of each lyric, which are well written. A good album with mixture of melodic metal.

Metalharem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Mob Rules Cannibal Nation 2012
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01. Close My Eyes
02. Lost
03. Tele Box Fool
04. Ice And Fire
05. Soldiers Of Fortune
06. The Sirens
07. Scream For The Sun (May 29th 1953)
08. Cannibal Nation
09. Sunrise
10. Children Of The Flames (live in Atlanta) (digipak bonus track)

Klaus Dirks – Vocals
Matthias Mineur – Guitar
Sven Lüdke – Guitar
Jan Christian Halfbrodt – Keyboards
Markus Brinkmann – Bass
Nikolas Fritz – Drums

Neal Schon The Calling 2012

In his endless port folio of guitar playing, Neal Schon added one more multi style instrumental album. The Calling is a mix of rock and light jazz instrumental works. With all his mastery on notes, this is the logical output rather than the common shredding rock album. Neal had been dealing with top AOR band, Journey for most of his career, with side project as in Hardline back in '90. Pulling out solo project among his busy schedule is a gift to us, guitar fans.

For bluesy rock listen to The Calling and True Emotions. Then there is Blue Rainbow Sky, also bluesy ballad dedicated for Ronnie James Dio. Carnival Jazz is thick in jazz especially the piano solo by Igor Len. We also have 3/4 meter in hard rock groove in Six String Waltz. Want a Pink Floyd unusual composition, here come Fifty Six. Of course a standard rock as in Back Smash is enjoyable intense guitar playing. There is a Neal Schon noted on each track down there.

The Calling come in very rich in colors and styles. Steve Smith provide drum for all, Neal is covering the bass also, then keyboard players Igor Len and Jan Hammer complete the line up. There isn't any much super speed thing, but all notes are well composed. This is a work about composition mastery rather than skill. This is an album that can stay quite long in my cd player.

Metalharem class: ********* nine stars out of ten

Neal Schon The Calling 2012
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01 - The Calling
02 - Carnival jazz
03 - Six String Waltz
04 - Irish Field
05 - Back Smash
06 - Fifty Six
07 - True Emotion
08 - Tumbleweeds
09 - Primal Surge
10 - Blue Rainbow Sky
11 - Transonic Funk
12 - Song Of The Wind II

“The Calling” Album Track By Track By Neal Schon
1. The Calling
Neal Schon (guitar, bass), Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (keyboards). This song has a cool mixture of blues, eastern melodies, rockin’ riffs, and some slammin’ solo improvisation.

2. Carnival Jazz
Neal Schon (guitar, bass), Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (keyboards). Igor plays great acoustic piano on this track. To me it’s a cool mixture of rockin’ melody and jazz

3. Six String Waltz
Neal Schon (guitar, bass) Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (keyboards, orchestration). This track has an old Journey feel to it.

4. Irish Field
This track features just two guitars and a little imagination of a beautiful open field. This one is for M:)

5. Back Smash
Neal Schon (guitar, bass), Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (keyboards, synthesizer solo). I originally wanted to use a couple of vocalists on this track. It didn’t pan out so I turned it into an instrumental.

6. Fifty Six
Neal Schon (guitar, bass), Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (piano, orchestration), Jan Hammer (Moog synthesizer solo). This track originally started out with a cool drum part that Steve Smith came up. The track has an eastern flavor to it that I love, featuring electric sitar. This has an early Journey prog rock vibe to it.

7. True Emotion
Neal Schon (guitar, bass), Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (keyboards). This features a classical blues vibe with a cool Hendrix-type vibe in the middle.

8. Tumbleweeds
This track features me on guitars and bass, Igor Len (orchestration), Steve Smith (drums), plus special guest Jan Hammer playing Moog solos.

9. Primal Surge
This is a great song for sports channels! I play guitars and bass, Igor Len on keyboards and Steve Smith on drums. I love the embodied melody in the song.

10. Blue Rainbow Sky
This track is a dedication to Ronnie James Dio the night he died outside my house - the sky was blue and it’s that feeling that was the inspiration for the recording.

11. Transonic Funk
Just a cool funky jam with Steve Smith (drums) and Igor (keyboards).

12. Song Of The Wind II
This track was directly inspired by the first Song of the Wind off the first Santana Caravanseri record. I recorded this with the guys in the last 30 minutes of our sessions.


Kamelot Silverthorn 2012

Kamelot, one of leading band in power metal, is back with new album Silverthorn. Let's go to the real story, we want to hear Kamelot's new singer. Tommy Karevik is actually not new for me as I am also listener to Seventh Wonder, Tommy's ex band. And actually I'm a little soured when get the news Tommy going to leave Seventh Wonder and join Kamelot. Thinking that Kamelot already established and his last couple album maybe over their peak by now, while Seventh Wonder is growing hot. Fortunately, and again actually I'ved a prediction, Kamelot back in great form. Silverthorn is outstanding in Kamelot's standard. Not only that Tommy's performance that blend into Kamelot music smoothly, musically is also improved from album Poetry for the Poisoned.

After the Kamelot's typically good instrumental prelude Manus Dei, Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife) we got to listen Tommy's real deal with Kamelot style of metal. Melodic manuever in song writing , from low notes to high one is conquered sweet by the new singer that replace Roy Kahn. They also lost no momentum and bring full force of femme fatale to orchestrated this song. Elize Rod, Amanda Somerville and death metaller Alissa White-Gluz (the Agonist) are in, as well string quartet Eklipse. The album storyline is about siblings losing their sister, completely works for this album. Ashes to Ashes solely based on Kamelot scale riff, Thomas Youngblood is on fire by now and so do the song picked up from previous track very well. Torn comes with catchy orchestration, Kamelot's signature low notes singing is proved home playground for Tommy Karevik. Song for Jolee is another challenge song, for this I think Roy Kahn can do something completely different, but Tommy is the one who put his stamp here. Another good duet singing in Veritas. The last part of album decorated with Falling Like The Fahrenheit, a very specific Kamelot style. Then Prodigal Son as the closing gregorian soundtrack.

Kamelot music is about 90% utilizing strength of voice, understandable this make Roy Kahn one of leading voice in metal in last decade. Tommy Karevik pick up where Roy left incredibly, his voice in Silverthorn re-established the band who previously going into mental block phase. The rest of band is supportive, Thomas Youngblood did a balance between leading and backing the music, Kamelot is never fanatical shred, but the guitar solos on every song is sweet and emotional. I am all with other reviewer that this album kick ass.

Metalharem class: ********* nine stars out of ten

Kamelot Silverthorn 2012
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1. Manus Dei
2. Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)
3. Ashes to Ashes
4. Torn
5. Song for Jolee
6. Veritas
7. My Confession
8. Silverthorn
9. Falling like the Fahrenheit
10. Solitaire
11. Prodigal Son
12. Continuum 

Thomas Youngblood - guitars
Casey Grillo - drums
Oliver Palotai - keyboards
Sean Tibbetts - bass
Tommy Karevik - vocals

Gothic artwork for cover

Tommy Karevik, Elize Rodd, Alissa White-Gluz (photo from social network)


Custard Infested by Anger (2012)

There must be too many bands in every corner of Germany that force this band using Custard as a power metal band name. Custard is well established but yet too well known arise from Herne, Germany. They are original to their sounds, already come out with about five albums including today's Infested by Anger. If you like a raw and classy sound, listen to their first album Kingdoms of Your Life as well. Olli Strasser is the vocalist, sing in high pitch in similar to Rob Halford hell high screaming. They also have female member, Anna Olejniczak is serving as guitarist, but not "too exploit" to provide vocals / backvocals in power metal band setting.

Album's overall feel is raw and fresh. The production is bit of demo-like crispy sounds. Don't take it wrong, the quality is crystal clear. Bass sounds also well exposed a la Iron Maiden. This setting sounds awesomely brutal in the second track Gods of War. The '80 signature screaming starts the military theme song, The Parachute Infantry. The other metal songs that can give big smile is Black Friday and 300. Endless Pain is a track with good bass leading to set up a sad mood.The band then starts the second part of album with By Fire and Sword, A Knight and other metal-dragon-knight theme songs. These are slightly less catch up with the first part of album. Not a big deal since this is an over 60 minutes album, adding extra fun tracks is very much welcome.

It's seems like every member get a good spot in final mixing, we can clearly listen to every instruments. The songs actually well composed with many additional backing chorus. Drummer Chris Klapper is noted as the only original founder. Guitar sounds setting is high end frequency, giving the classic speed metal distortion sounds. Many parts of the song has bass player coming out with interesting accentuation. A classic sound heavy / power metal album that will not upset fans of this genre.

Custard Infested by Anger (2012)
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1. Call of Ares 01:26
2. Gods of War 04:27
3. The Parachute Infantry 00:23
4. Death from Above 03:12
5. My Last Breath 03:19
6. Black Friday 05:25
7. Time to Bleed 06:10
8. 300 04:36
9. Endless Pain 05:41
10.By Fire and Sword 05:06
11.A Knight 04:55
12.Dead Shall Rise 05:31
13.Hellheart 05:45
14.Only Dust 04:48
15.Infested by Anger 01:41

Olli Strasser - vocals
Carsten Reichart - guitar
Anna Olejniczak - guitar
Markus Berghammer - bass
Chris Klapper - drums


Paul Gilbert Vibrato 2012

Guitar virtuoso Paul Gilbert release his new album called Vibrato. Everything good, well shred and fast as hell chops. Only one concern, this is a vocalize album, Paul not only tapping, licking and sweeping, he sings also. Nevertheless, I interested only the guitar mastery part. If you already listen Burning Organ or Alligator Farm, this is not faraway from those stuff. In Vibrato Paul still give us light heart hard rock song, the song that literally can be sing with smiley face. The studio band is consist of Thomas Lang in drum.

Rain and Thunder and Lightning sounds so familiar with many reoccurring ideas typically Paul Gilbert's lick. But beside the Racer X-faster-than-light lick, there are also exist different style, as in Bivalve Blues. Blue Rondo Ala Turk although rising eye brow, Gilbert try cover Dave Brubeck is most fun to listen. Although the album is mostly humor at first, Paul Gilbert point out that in Vibrato the song writing get more attention than his past works. In the interview, Neal Morse with whom he work recently being mentioned as his inspiration. Most of song are recorded live, Enemis (in Jail) is claim as one take recording. Style are diverse here, AC/DC cover in Go Down  down to Emi Gilbert's exotic scale in I Want to be Loved (Muddy Water cover). Finally one instrumental track to satisfy our shred need in Roundabout (Yes cover).

Like many guitarist, doing a vocal song writing is big challenge for guitarist and temptating, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani both have that. But apart from listening the highlight solos, there left only Paul Gilbert voice to enjoy. If you avid fans of shredding hard rock , the album is fun to have.

Metalharem class: ****** seven stars out of ten

Paul Gilbert Vibrato 2012
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1. Enemies (in Jail) (Gilbert)
2. Rain and Thunder and Lightning (Gilbert)
3. Vibrato (Gilbert)
4. Put It on the Char (Gilbert)
5. Bivalve Blues (Gilbert)
6. Blue Rondo a la Turk (Brubeck)
7. Atmosphere on the Moon (Gilbert)
8. The Pronghorn (Gilbert)
9. Roundabout (Anderson / Howe)
10. I Want to be Loved (Dixon)
11. Go Down (Young, Young, Scott)

Paul Gilbert – guitar, vocals
Emi Gilbert – keyboards, vocals
Kelly Lemieux – bass
Thomas Lang – drums

Enhancing the nice portrait color tones in cover artwork with Photoshop

Doro Raise Your Fist 2012

Doro Pesch, maybe the only '(un)official' Metal Queen in the world, give us her latest recording in album Raise Your Fist. Consistently provide raw heavy metal voice in Warlock and her solo stuff since '80s, this album will only extends our respect to our metal mama. The album covered almost all mood , from anthemic to melancholy to cheesy and light headbanging stuffs.

Our opening track Raise Your Fist in the Air is already released prior in the EP version. With a title as catchy and energetic as it is, the music itself is hell catching up as well. Not a bad stuff really, it is simple, expected chorus, yet fresh when sings by Doro. Coldhearted Lover come next with awesome AOR feel intro, a bit mid tempo hard rock stuff, Doro in her deep and raw voice is again fantastic in this song. Rock Till Death and Take No Prisoner is the best fast songs, enough guitar riff and blistering drumming to make it like AC/DC in female version. Grab The Bull (Last Man Standing) is notable for guest soloing by Gus G of Firewind, the song itself a simple single drum kick metal anthem. There also many ballads, in  It Still Hurts, Engel and the requiem for Ronnie Dio, song titled Hero.

No complicated songs from this album, all runs in the most simple, straightforward heavy metal form with Doro screaming over it.  Luca Princiotta of BLAZE (Bayley) band is in charge with Bas Maas (ex After Forever), both responsible for the riff and rhythm that made this recording interesting enough. A hard stuff to collect from the Queen of Metal.

Metalharem class: ******* seven stars out of ten

Doro Raise Your Fist 2012
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01. Raise Your Fist in the Air
02. Coldhearted Lover
03. Rock Till Death
04. It Still Hurts (Featuring Lemmy)
05. Engel
06. Freiheit (Human Rights)
07. Little Headbanger (Nackenbrecher)
08. Revenge
09. Free My Heart
10. Victory
11. Hero

    Doro Pesch – Vocals
    Bas Maas – Guitar
    Luca Princiotta – Guitar & Keyboards
    Nick Douglas – Bass
    Johnny Dee – Drums


Wintersun Time I (2012)

The second Wintersun album finally released from Jari Maenpaa's kitchen. The total music is only about 40 minutes for an eight years of waiting time. For this, we got a full orchestrated power metal tracks as compensation. When Time Fades Away comes as the epic intro. The mood set to the cold winter night in the peak of Finland. This soon followed by Sons of Winter and Stars that break into four movements. In the most contrast between epic orchestration, if you think Dragonforce is the fastest double pedal drum, then Rain of Stars is something about that. Death metal singing voice sounds mature and full to fight the over epic string sounds.

Land of Snow and Sorrow is slower tempo folk metal. It is the most straightforward metal song in Time I without the zither like sounds and tribal drumming. This is important to break the synthesizer madness in our ears because, we still got extra round of instrumental track in Darkness and Frost, and yet another same theme in last track, Time.

So those end the story of Time part I. In this project Jari conquered his ambition to implement the most orchestration into this epic works. The orchestration is set the most mood in this album. The rather death metal singing in Wintersun first album is reduced and replace to more Sabaton style of power metal. One thing is, do not connect this to the expectation of eight years, it's not the holy grail of symphonic metal, but just another killer album from the maestro. Let's hope there will be a fast continuation to this series.

Metalharem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Wintersun Time I (2012)
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1. When Time Fades Away
2. Sons of Winter and Stars
....I Rain of Stars
....II Surrounded by Darkness
....III Journey Inside a Dream
....IV Sons of Winter and Stars
3. Land of Snow and Sorrow
4. Darkness and Frost
5. Time

Jari Mäenpää , Vocals and guitar
Kai Hahto, Drums
Jukka Koskinen, Bass
Teemu Mäntysaari, Guitar

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