Rage - 21 (2012)

Rage is another 80s generation power/heavy metal from Germany. They were buddies to band like Helloween, Accept, Mekong Delta, Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Warlock and even Scorpions. Germany metal bands are famous for their "long lasting" surviving age. So there Rage comes out with their, suppose to be, "21" album.

Thick uber metal on this album. Right after the teaser opening, Twenty One is first introduction to Peter "Peavey" Wagner vocal to any whom haven't introduce to Rage. Here Peter sing theTwenty One, sort of biographical story of Rage history,

Hear the story of a loser
An addicted man
He has spent his whole life gambling
A game called twenty one (ruined by twenty one)

The second track Forever Dead is excellent composition yet by guitarist Victor Smolski, who compose the majority of the album. Victor Smolski himself, is a virtuoso soloist guitarist. Bringing an US influence metal to Rage. Go to Serial Killer, is thrashy metal sound, remind to Kreator. From here the album sound heavier and darker to thrash metal. Good thing is the album never goes boring, example is Death Romantic being sound experimental.

This is a yet another surprise on February 2012 release by Rage. An eye opener to the existing of this veteran band to whom never heard their name, me included. The album music variety from power metal to heavy and thrash metal. They bring the best of 80s sound and mixed with current sound.

Rage - 21 (2012)
01. House Wins
02. Twenty One
03. Forever Dead
04. Feel My Pain
05. Serial Killer
06. Psycho Terror
07. Destiny
08. Death Romantic
09. Black And White
10. Concrete Wall
11. Eternally

Peter "Peavy" Wagner - vocals, bass
Victor Smolski - guitar, keyboards
André Hilgers - drums

Amberian Dawn - Circus Black 2012

Just week after Xandria's excellent Neverworld's End, here comes Amberian Dawn with Circus Black. The album cover already suggested the excitement. And yet the album cover is yet another "circus", another "imaginaerum" "neverworld". Would this be the new theme for female gothic / symphonic metal nowdays?

Circus Black started with vengeance guitar intro. The familiar orchestration elements are reduced, replaced by more brutal double pedal drumming. Second track Cold Kiss is most interesting with Timo Kotipelko join as guest vocalist. Third track Crimson Flower, we spoiled by Jens Johansen join keyboard shred solo. The first orchestration orientated track only found on the next fourth track, Charnell's Ball.

Amberian Dawn singer Heidi Parviainen sung with operatic consistent. If we remove the metal accompaniment the song will made great aria-like song by itself. Excellent guitar and keyboard solo all over the album, as demonstrated in instrumental track The Rivalry Between Good and Evil.

Compare to previous Amberian Dawn album End of Eden which more power metal nuance, Circus Black comes with more diverse music and theme. Great release to please us all.

Amberian Dawn - Circus Black 2012
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01. Circus Black
02. Cold Kiss [feat. Timo Kotipelto]
03. Crimson Flower [feat. Jens Johansson]
04. Charnel's Ball
05. Fight
06. Letter
07. I Share With You This Dream
08. Rivalry Between Good And Evil
09. Guardian
10. Lily Of The Moon

    Heidi Parviainen - Vocals
    Tuomas Seppälä - Keyboards, Guitar
    Kasperi Heikkinen - Guitar
    Kimmo Korhonen - Guitar
    Jukka Koskinen - Bass
    Heikki Saari - Drums and percussion

Amberian Dawn Cover ARt and Graphical Design in Circus theme


Freedom Call Land of The Crimson Dawn 2012

Germany power metal band Freedom Call is back again with their latest release Land Of The Crimson Dawn. The last decade of 2000 saw Freedom Call emerged as one of leading metal act in Germany and Europe. Their  style put a new pseudo genre called Flower Metal / Happy Metal. Their last two albums "Dimensions" and "Legend of the Shadow King" are a consistent works full of melodic metal songs.

So how Freedom Call going to face a new challenge for his first 2010s releases. Well, they simply continue doing what it is right. The first track on this album, Age of The Phoenix is rather unusual for Freedom Call standard. No bombastic symphonic opening but immediately a chorus line. Only few second we are convince that Freedom Call is back, welcome to the Age of The Phoenix.

Rockstar is a try to mix FC metal with hard rock spirit and roughness. Crimson Dawn is already a track on FC familiar territory. Sun in the Dark is trying a bit darker sound and most unusual FC song in the middle track.  Similar to Rockstar, Hero On Video and Rocking Radio again a hard rockish with chorus sung happily. Epic intro still exist and represented in track Killer Gear. And the rest tracks are quite diverse from epic intro to rock n roll feel. There is also bonus disc contains cover track by various bands.

Land of The Crimson Dawn is for faithful Freedom Call fans. The safe continuation from Dimensions and LotSK. Partial of the album see FC play into more hardrock feel beat. This album will still keep you up with all their choruses.

Freedom Call - Land of the Crimson Dawn 2012
buy from Amazon here

Disc I
01. Age Of The Phoenix
02. Rockstars
03. Crimson Dawn
04. 66 Warriors
05. Back Into The Land Of Light
06. Sun In The Dark
07. Hero On Video
08. Valley Of Kingdom
09. Killer Gear
10. Rockin' Radio
11. Terra Liberty
12. Eternity
13. Space Legends
14. Power & Glory

Disc II [digipack exclusive]
01. Flame In The Night [performed by Powerworld]
02. Hunting High And Low [performed by Downspirit]
03. Fairyland [performed by Secret Sphere]
04. Palace Of Fantasy [performed by Manimal]
05. Land Of Light [performed by Neonfly]
06. Warriors [performed by Hannes Braun]

    Chris Bay - Vocals & Guitar (1998–present)
    Lars Rettkowitz - Guitar (2005–present)
    Samy Saemann - Bass (2009–present)
    Klaus Sperling - Drums (2010–present)

Divine Ascension - As The Truth Appears 2011

Just discovered from their social network, Divine Ascension is the latest female fronted metal band from the Kangaroo continents. That's right , the band formed in Melbourne four years before their debut album As The Truth Appears, released on October 2011.

A quick examine will tell you that this band is too good to be ignore just because they are not reside in the epicentrum of metal in Europe or US. They are beg to be discovered and put in the same league as their European colleagues. Divine Ascension's female singer, Jennifer Borg is a promising and talented. She delivered solid voice for all tracks and her type is more traditional metal voice, Evanescene-type but heavier multiple times. 

The music itself is quite balance between European style similar to Epica and early Within Temptation and the US style ala Evanescene. Spice up here and there is the elements of Symphonic. The cover album art is a bit uncommon for a Symphonic Metal with female voice, but rather made us to think that this is a progressive metal album.

 Answer is a straight forward opener, strong signature guitar riff intro and distinguished guitar distortion sound, maybe this is the Aussie distortion signature sound. Duet vocal in this opener added a heavier dimension to the track. Visionary is more the European melodic influence intro. In My Mind is an experimental track running on interesting music scale. Vision Divine is a traditional Symphonic Gothic track with operatic vocal line running on guitar distortion, every female fronted band will need this track. Then Guide by Osiris is again track build on some exotic scale.  One Last Caress started with intro ala Metallica's For Whom The Bell Tolls tempo and then the song continuing into thick symphonic layer.

Several metal ballads in the later phase of the album, As The Truth Appears is a pleasant truth by this female fronted band. Whole heart recommendation to this album and an enjoyable listening.

Divine Ascension - As The Truth Appears 2011

1. Answers
2. Visionary
3. In My Mind
4. Vision Divine
5. Guided By Osiris
6. One Last Caress
7. Garden Of Evil
8. Another Battlefield
9. Hope Arising **
10. Civilisation
11. Unscathed
12. Not Today **
** Japanese Bonus Tracks

Jennifer Borg – Vocals
Karl Szulik – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Robb Inglis – Rhythm & Lead Guitars
David Van Pelt – Keyboards
Simon Mahoney – Bass
Luke Wenczel – Drums

Divine Ascension album cover and graphic design 

Band's photograph, visit their URL http://divine-ascension.com  


Xandria Neverworld's Ends 2012

Germany Gothic/Symphonic Metal band Xandria is finally back with a new album "Neverworld's Ends". This album marked the first debut of new singer Manuella Kraller. Just like any other female fronted band, a change in singer does mean a lot. Xandria's success with ex singer Lisa Middlehouve is now facing new challenge with new singer. The challenge was well accepted.

The album starts with track A Prophecy Of Worlds To Fall,  a symphonic intro continued with up tempo song. Manuella entered perfectly on this song. Her voice is full and overwhelming sopranic, for a second, really mimic what Tarja did in Nightwish. Valentine is the second track and even more Nightwish-ian here, all completely with bombastic symphonic accompaniment.  Forevermore perhaps come too early as a piano ballad soprano track, as we haven't have enough metal track to wake us from the Nightwish dejavu. Luckily, Euphoria back in the track with metal spirit.

Again, Blood on My Hands is an excellent vocal orientated metal track, followed by heavier Soulcrusher. The Dream still Alive is leaning into folky tune similar to Call Of The Wind and A Thousand Letters, and rest of the album.

Overall, the album is a surprise comeback for Xandria. The songs are bit generic and resembling early Nightwish and Tarja era. But, again the feeling of symphonic and gothic is fully achieved here. I enjoy the album with all the epic feel inside them, and I urge everyone to try this Nightwish experience in the form of Xandria.

Xandria - Neverworld's End 2012
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 A Prophecy Of Worlds To Fall
02. Valentine
03. Forevermore
04. Euphoria
05. Blood On My Hands
06. Soulcrusher
07. The Dream is still Alive
08. The Lost Elysion
09. Call Of The Wind
10. A Thousand letters
11. Cursed
12. The Nomad's Crown
13. When the Mirror Cracks [Limited digipak bonus]

Xandria Graphic design and cover art


Manuela Kraller - vocals
Marco Heubaum - guitar, keyboard
Philip Restemeier - guitar
Gerit - drums
Nils Middelhauve - bass guitar


Lillian Axe XI:The Days Before Tomorrow - 2012

Lillian Axe is a nostalgic band. They are hardly the mainstream in the 90s but they remains quite good in memory of all 90s rocker. After about 30 years, it is acceptable curious to hear how classic rock being re-play again, and they done it in their latest album release, XI: The Days Before Tomorrow. Although the Roman numbered at eleven, I counted (from Wiki...) this is their ninth studio album.

The album started with Babylon, a track that open with a nice guitar riff intro and proceed to a mid tempo vocal line. Guitar works are by Steve Blaze and Sam Poitevent. New singer Brian Jones is not sounds very 90s but a bit modern, but this they can manage well. After Death to Come, the 2nd track, most of the songs started with a very familiar heavy metal guitar riff as in track 3 Gather Up the Snow, but the strong point of each song is how the song itself are well composed. Several acoustic guitar ballads plus the piano and the album ended with a bonus instrumental track.

The album is well composed and heavily focus on 90s dual guitar setup. They successfully ignore nu metal influence and keep faith into classic Lillian Axe music. I think the album is very enjoyable.

Lillian Axe
XI:The Days Before Tomorrow 2012
Buy from Amazon

  • Steve Blaze - Lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
  • Brian C. Jones - Lead vocals
  • Sam Poitevent - Guitar, vocals
  • Eric Morris - Bass
  • Ken Koudelka - Drums


Whitney Houston Dies at 48 - 2012

A shocking news coming from our pop music community. Whitney Houston, the queen of pop dies couple hours ago , February 11th, 2012 on the cause of still unknown. She was 48. Twitter from Hollywood and Metal community describe how shocking this news to be.

Compilation of Hollywood reactions:

Mariah Carey Mariah Carey @MariahCarey: Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston.... My heartfelt condolences to Whitney's family and to all her millions of fans throughout the world.... She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth.

Justin Bieber @justinbieber: just heard the news. so crazy. One of the GREATEST VOICES EVER just passed. RIP Whitney Houston. My prayers go out to her friends and family

La Toya Jackson @latoyajackson: I can't fathom the fact that #whitneyhouston has died! My heart goes out 2 her mother, daughter & her love ones. #Whitney U will be missed!


Randy Jackson @YO_RANDYJACKSON: wow I am devastated. the world has lost another one of the best voices in history. RIP whitney houston...

link to complete story on Hollywood reactions here
link to Yahoo news report here


Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth 2012

Pioneer of 80s hard rock super band, Van Halen, just released their so long waited album titled " A Different Kind of Truth". Their last album Van Halen III was dated 1998, that's 14 years ago. Featured in the album is David Lee Roth as vocalist. This is the third time (as I remember) DLR officially sings with Van Halen after his departure. David Lee Roth and Van Halen must realized they love each other, forget other thing and straight making love music! The other update in the line up is bass duty changed from Michael Anthony to Wolfgang Van Halen.

The single Tattoo is straight forward, a little outdated or should be labelled classic Van Halen sound. David Lee Roth going exactly what he was and still sound very nostalgic Van Halen in this century. Second track She's the Woman is almost sings with buggy jeans due to its 80s spirit. You and Your Blues is a classic Eddie's muted chopping riff. The rest of songs beared 1980s spirit.

Started from China Town, the tracks begin to bend into heavier tempo and guitar. The guitar works are blends nicely in bluesy and heavier minor scale, support by double pedal drumming. The songs writing and melody development are creative.

Great surprise comeback album and Van Halen has nothing to lose after 14 years stopping producing album and lose nothing up to now. This album maybe going to straight comparison with Satriani + Sammy Hagar + Michael Anthony in Chickenfoot III.

Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth
buy the Album from AMAZON HERE

Music by Van Halen. Lyrics by David Lee Roth.

1."Tattoo"  4:44
2."She's the Woman"  2:56
3."You and Your Blues"  3:43
4."China Town"  3:14
5."Blood and Fire"  4:26
6."Bullethead"  2:30
7."As Is"  4:47
8."Honeybabysweetiedoll"  3:46
9."The Trouble with Never"  3:59
10."Outta Space"  2:53
11."Stay Frosty"  4:07
12."Big River"  3:50
13."Beats Workin'"  5:02
Total length: 49:58

Deluxe Edition DVD

The Downtown Sessions
1. "Panama"  5:30
2. "You and Your Blues"   3:20
3. "Beautiful Girls"   3:42
4."You Really Got Me"


Lamb Of God Resolution (2012)

Another big dog of Groove Thrash Metal , Lamb Of God just released their latest works, Resolution. This is a quietly released by a Virginia's home band who just promote Groove metal into Grammy territory. The album started with a signature growling in Straight for the Sun, a slow tempi followed by groovy drum intro to Desolution (youtube sample URL link). The vocal is still the biggest weapon on the rest of album, very reminiscent to Pantera. I will also recommend To The End, a rather heavy metal riff opening tracks, or a straight forward Cheated. And man, they're so many of them since this is ... a double album to catch.

Buy Lamb of God, a great groovy released early this year. It set a ball high for the rest of year.

Lamb of God - Resolution

Buy at Amazon now

Disc I
01. Straight For The Sun
02. Desolation
03. Ghost Walking
04. Guilty
05. The Undertow
06. The Number Six
07. Barbarosa
08. Invictus
09. Cheated
10. Insurrection
11. Terminally Unique
12. To The End
13. Visitation
14. King Me

Disc II [Wrath - Tour 2009-2010] [Limited pre-order bonus]
01. The Passing
02. In Your Words
03. Set To Fail
04. Walk With Me In Hell
05. Hourglass
06. Now You've Got Something To Die For
07. Ruin
08. As The Palaces Burn
09. Blacken The Cursed Sun
10. Laid To Rest
11. Redneck
12. Black Label

David Randall "Randy" Blythe - vocals
William M. "Willie" Adler - rhythm guitar
Mark "Duane" Morton - lead guitar
Christopher James "Chris" Adler - drums
John Steven Campbell - bass

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