Delain - We Are The Others 2012

Delain is the symphonic project that recorded and perform much on the ground metal music. They are accessible, catchy, bombastic orchestral and with female singer Charlotte Wessels who is very strong in character. The album We Are The Others is no other than previous Delain works. This album however is more song orientated, with less heavy work and unfortunately, no guitar solo needed.

Composer Martijn Westerholt put great effort in making this album an interesting album, most of songs thick in symphonic and gothic metal feel. Highligh songs are Mother Machine, the first song with most heavier riff which in a second almost sound like a nice thrash metal intro. Milk and Honey with its rare melodious guitar interlude. Hit Me with Your Best Shot is very alternative / nu metal influence, with Evanescence groove. Where Is The Blood with darker and death metal singing featuring Burton C. Bell. Babylon is another good song with memorable chorus. 

We Are The Others is a colorful album to enjoy. The style and song composition get a good touch in every track that capture every imagination of the song. Singer Charlotte hits the high and low notes with great agility. The whole story about Sophie Lancester is emotionally bring up and made this a nice metal tribute to the character.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Delain - We Are The Others 2012

1. Mother Machine
2. Electricity
3. We are the Others
4. Milk and Honey
5. Hit Me With your Best Shot
6. I Want You
7. Where is the Blood
8. Generation Me
9. Babylon
10. Are You Done with Me?
11. Get the Devil Out of Me
12. Not Enough

- Martijn Westerholt / Keyboards
- Charlotte Wessels / Vocals
- Sander Zoer / Drums
- Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije / Bass
- Timo Somers / Guitars
- Burton C. Bell / Vocals on track 7 

Goth Art for Delain Album Cover


Pathfinder Fifth Element 2012

Pathfinder - Fifth Element 2012
Album Review

Pathfinder is a symphonic power metal coming from Poland. They are new blood and this album Fifth Element is their second full album release. Put in your all hopes for Rhapsody of Fire played with Dragonforce level of speed, this album is another gem in power metal genre.

Put in the first three tracks excluding the intro Ventus Ignis Terra Aqua, then we got Fifth ElementReady To Die Between Stars and The Day When I Turn Back Time, a very melodic driven power metal with thick symphonic elements. All song quickly give us new epic chorus to sing along. Don't get surprise with the power of its singer, Simon Kostro not hesitate to give in the Helloween-ish high pitch here and there. The epic not stop here since Chronokinesis the another epic symphonic stuff in a very Rhapsody of Fire song structure, epic orchestral intro and melodious singing line. March To The Darkest Horizon is a nice harmonic power chorus with heavenly female voice line in it. Then flow breaked by Yin Yang, a ballad with some gothic feel in it  with Simon Kostro duet with a female voice. And then the epic metal journey to be repeated again in the last three tracks, which is marked the album passed almost flawlessly.

To concluded this epic album, this is Manowar type of bombastic chorus combined with Rhapsody of Fire colorful orchestration and the drum playing slightly faster that typical power metal. The singer are performed really well as he can switch to screaming mode everytime he wanted to without problem. Guitar work supported this epic music with blitzing solos and there are keyboard layering and solos as well. All the generic elements are there, but the Fifth Element will bring you big smile for their power and energy, especially for fans of symphonic power metal. Highly recommended.

Metal Harem class: ******** 8 stars out of 10

Pathfinder Fifth Element 2012
buy it here

1. Ventus Ignis Terra Aqua 03:00
2. Fifth Element 08:50
3. Ready To Die Between Stars 05:30
4. The Day When I Turn Back Time 06:15
5. Chronokinesis 05:35
6. March To The Darkest Horizon 08:35
7. Yin Yang 04:30
8. Elemental Power 04:50
9. Ad Futuram Rei Memoriam 05:00
10. When The Sunrise Breaks The Darkness 06:20
11. Vita 02:00

European Bonustrack: Spartakus And The Sun Beneath The Sea (Cover Song)
Japanese Bonus Song: If I Could Turn Back Time (Cher's Cover song)

Fantasy Cover Album Art of Pathfinder


Kill Devil Hill - Kill Devil Hill 2012

Vinnie Appice, drummer of Black Sabbath fame come out again with a new project. Team up with Pantera bassist Rex Brown, Mark Zavon previously in W.A.S.P. and singer Dewey Bragg. This semi supergroup status put out quite excellent self title debut album, Kill Devil Hill.

The genre in this album is a combination of groove metal, grunge, and perhaps nil recognized Black Sabbath sounds. First song War Machine is fresh groove metal feel with a sleek and grunge vocal instead of growling. Other song with very original song writing is Voodoo Doll and a heavy groovy Rise from the Shadows. It's good to see bass line get more highlight here as many song are focus in lower frequency pleasure. We're Are Gonna Die is the example here. Strange is however more hard rock and show nice guitar work put in front. Beside Mysterious Ways which is a ballad, all other tracks are showing pleasure hearing groove metal. The singer perform really well I think, give in a grunge feel and handle the low pitch nicely.

If you like fresh grunge mix with groove metal here is the correct album. If you also missed Pantera you might expect some Dimebag tribute in Mark Zavon riff. Not a bad output for this all forty aged guys.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Kill Devil Hill 2012
buy it here

01. War Machine
02. Hangman
03. Voodoo Doll
04. Gates Of Hell
05. Rise From The Shadows
06. We're All Gonna Die
07. Strange
08. Time & Time Again
09. Old Man
10. Mysterious Ways
11. Up In Flames
12. Revenge

Dewey Bragg - vocals
Mark Zavon - guitar
Rex Brown - bass
Vinny Appice - drums

Produced by Warren Riker.    

dark theme cover album art for Kill Devil Hill


Slash Apocalyptic Love 2012

Apocalyptic Love is another exercise from Slash musical journey. Slash companion here are Alter Bridge's singer Myles Kennedy, the drummer Brent Fitz (Vince Neil, Alice Cooper) and bassist Todd Kern (Age of Electric) and then captained by Eric Valentine as producer and sound engineer. Although we expect a super guest in this album, there were no notable appearance and this album close as a band work rather than just Slash inviting he or she. This is maybe a little bit disappointing but on other hand a good sign as this work supposedly a solid band works. As the most successful guitarist on our era right now, we burden Slash with quite a high expectation.

Take only a year to finish, we are now handed a package of 13 songs and an hour of listening. Slash is a big brand of guitarist in this era. The media had crucified him with the fix image that equivalent to every male holding a (Gibson) guitar in hand. His work with Guns N' Roses of course the main responsibility of this. But after Slash's Snakepit, Velvet Revover and previous first Slash solo album, we are await of something that rated Slash as the same name with Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page on every list of top ten guitarist. Are we going to have this decade of Sweet Child O' Mine or Nightrain? Well, on quick examination, we got none. But this is more about Slash orientation on this album is not to create a masterpiece ala Chinese Democracy but just a fun rock album with friends (or legally called The Conspirators for his backing band).

So with that in mind, let's just listen to it. Apocalyptic Love starting, and I love it main riff. The riff downgrade the seriousness a lot and we enter the fun mode rather than expecting above the cloud music. Myles Kennedy vocal automatically the main focus, and he did the job well. His vocal lead us to the faithful 90s feel. The second song, One Last Thrill is modern fast hard rock composition. The third song is a little tribute to Slash nostalgic Appetite era, Standing in the Sun comes with Paradise City resembling chops. Then we get into the middle part of album that present songs that are just catchy and crunchy riff over the song. Anastasia is most unique here with Slash playing neo classical stuff, on first listening there a bit of hope Slash would do an instrumental track, but it's not.

There is no epic song in the vibe of November Rain or Estranged. The short song also very much no Rocket Queen formula. Which maybe distinguished how Guns N' Roses is no easy stuff to imitate. Slash solo is actually even much diverse here than his Guns N' Roses year. The guitar tune is need to praise for its crunchy and clean sound designation. Of course this is much due to the song are now more simple hard rock or punk rock. Nevertheless the solo still top notch and very enjoyable. This album need to listen without the need to attribute Slash as media version of god of guitar at this moment.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Slash Apocalyptic Love 2012
Emi Records - Buy it here

1. Apocalyptic Love
2. One Last Thrill
3. Standing in the Su
4. You're a Lie
5. No More Heroes
6. Halo
7. We Will Roam
8. Anastasia
9. Not for Me
10. Bad Rain
11. Hard & Fast
12. Far and Away
13. Shots Fired

Slash- Guitars
Myles Kennedy - Vocals , rhythm guitar
Todd Kerns - Bass, Backing Vocals
Brent Fitz – Drums

Apocalyptic Love Cover Album art


Nightmare The Burden of God 2012

Nightmare The Burden of God

Here the band with interesting history. Nightmare was coming from French, in the 80s they are more a heavy metal act playing NWOBHM mostly. They are went into dormancy mode for most of 90s but resurrected in 1999. Their music then incorporated what the symphonic metal elements. The line up of course changed and the lates is with founding member Joe Amore in microphone after previously being a drummer.

In their official site the member stated "The big difference is," laughs bassist Yves Campion, "that on "The Burden Of God" we have a much better sound." Together with the renowned producer Patrick Liotard NIGHTMARE recorded the album in Marseille, where it also was mixed. For the mastering the band was able to hire Maor Appelbaum (Halford, Therion, Sepultura, Yngwie Malmsteen).

It's true, the album sound real stuff. Opening symphonic intro Gateways to the Void and entering Sunrise in Hell, we quickly offered the very ear familir chorus "Do You Rememba". The Burden of God then follows, this song heavy driven by its dictated guitar riff also an easy stuff to get familiar. Interesting stuff are the Preacher, a moderate tempo and heavy orchestral song. And most of songs here are in the very comfort zone of power metal, with its galloping drumming and minor scale song.

The Burden of God is pure power metal album with its moderate symphonic elements. If you believe how the dual guitar works importance in New Wave of British Heavy Metal ala Saxon and then mixed with Gamma Ray,this is your winning combo.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Nightmare The Burden Of God
2012 - Napalm Record
buy it here

 01. Gateways To The Void
02. Sunrise In Hell
03. The Burden Of God
04. Crimson Empire
05. Children Of The Nation
06. The Preacher
07. Shattered Hearts
08. The Doomsday Prediction
09. The Dominion Gate (Part III)
10. Final Outcome
11. Afterlife

Franck Milleliri (Guitars)
David Amore (Drums & vocals)
Jo Amore (Lead Vocals)
Yves Campion (Bass & vocals)
Matt Asselberghs (Guitars & vocals)

Great feel in Nightmare The Burden of God Album Cover Art

Dark Empire - From Refuge to Ruin 2012

Dark Empire  From Refuge to Ruin

Few band can do a mixing between several metal genres into a nice metal combo, one is Dark Empire. I only get to know them recently and enjoy their latest album , From Refuge to Ruin. As mentioned, this band outstanding for being either thrash, progressive and power metal. The thrash elements found on their song writing and vocal which also include growling vocal. They are slightly less dynamic in song structure, less groove enough to being labelled as pure progressive. For power metal it's the guitar solo, galloping drum that made it.

From Refuge to Ruin combine most of this elements into a nice mix. The first song A Plague in the Throne Room plus its power metal intro done a successful job ushering us into this album. Dreaming in Vengeance is more progressive feel here. The song scale itself quickly bring us to the familiar early Symphony X alike sound. As for The Crimson Portrait, it is the thrash metal feel that bring a front. A nice thrash guitar riff also continue in Dark Seed of Depravity. And then the title song From Refuge to Ruin is again the power metal feel. Then the album of course closed with epic 13:55 minutes the Cleansing Fire.

Do need to doubt the guitar and musical work here, as only dedicated musicians will able to mix this successfully. Mainly this is the work of guitarist / composer Mark Moliti. The singer is a new member Brian Larkin. The production is also great, being able to transitioned the vocal differences without much notice. This is a perfect album for fans that need compromise between this three up front metal style. I am glad to get introduce and wholehearty recommended this young talents from New Jersey to metal fans.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Dark Empire  From Refuge to Ruin 2012
buy it here

01. A Plague In The Throne Room
02. Dreaming In Vengeance
03. The Crimson Portrait
04. Dark Seeds Of Depravity
05. From Refuge To Ruin
06. Lest Ye Be Judged
07. What Men Call Hatred
08. Black Hearts Demise
09. The Cleansing Fires

Brian Larkin - vocals
Matt Moliti - guitars, death vocals
Randy Knecht - bass
Matt Graff - drum

Graphic design for Dark Empire progressive art


Sabaton Carolus Rex (2012 A.D.)

Sabaton Carolus Rex (2012 A.D.)

Defenders of epic metal get ready, this is your long wait album for this year. Pull aside your despair and arm yourself, the awesome, straight forward epic power metal album with colorful folk and symphonic elements are present now. Sabaton new release Carolus Rex is your historic epic metal album must have this year.

Just few weeks ago Sabaton almost got ripped off from the metal map due to departure of its core members. But the history didn't went that way. Joakim Broden and bassist Par Sundstrom was able to find their replacement. Carolus Rex however is the last album recorded with that line up.

But let's forget that issue, let's talk about the other history. Carolus Rex is, unlike generic power metal album, built upon historical story in lieu to self-made fantasy dragonland. They are build upon history of Sweden with protagonist King Carol and believe me the atmosphere is really up there. I guess this is their most valuable originality Sabaton build until now.

All tracks here are great in their respective song writing.  "Dominium Maris Baltici" sounds "reguler" but don't get yourself fold, it's maybe the least point of interest in this album. "The Lion From the North" is the main attraction, song writing and music are really up the point with the lyric, it's just epic. "Gott Mit Uns" is your folk dancing metal favorite. "A Lifetime of War" maybe coming too soon but it's a great ballad. "1648" is another high point, telling the failed siege and resulting Battle of Prague, "The Carolean Prayer " also keep high the atmosphere with it's gothic organ intro. The album keep continue with its pace, enjoy the galloping drum as in "Killing Ground" and exotica feel of "Ruina Imperii".

Musical performance are automatically done their job fantastically. Riff are keep simple and the solos although never in the status of virtuoso fill the moment perfectly. Notable are the vocal harmonization and chorus performs really well and uplift the feel. One more thing to point out is the great cover album that reflected its contents without much burdens. And then the Swedish edition will give you what the singer really up to, if you got little annoyed with his thick non English accent.

So, even taking consideration of Sabaton past work, this is a little unexpected triumph. Especially when the weeks had been dominated by Stones Grow Her Name (Sonata Arctica) and Few Against Many (Firewind), Carolus Rex is a victory of epic metal. The genre now can have its benchmark for always being criticized as too generic genre. Embraced yourself and just enjoy this awesome masterpiece.

Metal Harem class: ********* 9 stars out of 10

Sabaton - Carolus Rex (2012 A.D.)
buy it here
  1. Dominium Maris Baltici
  2. The Lion From the North - Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and his revolutionary tactics and their impact on war.
  3. Gott Mit Uns - Battle of Breitenfeld (1631)
  4. A Lifetime of War - The misery caused by the Thirty Years' War
  5. 1 6 4 8 - The failed siege and resulting Battle of Prague (1648)
  6. The Carolean's Prayer
  7. Carolus Rex - The Crowning and policies of Charles XII of Sweden
  8. Killing Ground - About the Battle of Fraustadt
  9. Poltava - The Battle of Poltava and resulting defeat.
  10. Long Live the King
  11. Ruina Imperii
  12. In the Army Now (Bonus Track)

English version bonus also included:
 Twilight Of The Thunder God [Amon Amarth cover] [Mailorder edition bonus]
 In The Army Now [Status Quo cover] [Mailorder edition bonus]
 Feuer Frei [Rammstein cover] [Mailorder edition bonus]

Joakim Brodén - Vocals
Pär Sundström - Bass
Oskar Montelius — guitar, backing vocals
Rikard Sundén — guitar, backing vocals
Daniel Mÿhr - keyboards, backing vocals
Daniel Mullback — drums
Peter Tägtgren – Guest vocals on "Gott Mit Uns"

Epic cover album for Carolus Rex


Firewind Few Against Many 2012

Few Against Many is the seventh studio album from Greece heavy/power metal band Firewind. Firewind has also slowly swift their musical direction from more power metal orientated into general heavy metal. Understandably for guitarist virtuoso Gus G. is also taking part in Ozzy Osbourne team and Bob Katsionis is a hot keyboardist that received many invitation to guest the solo for other project. This album however will not worry much their loyal fans because it's only inches away from their previous music.

The opening track Wall of Sound, drumming intro and blazzing guitar riff sounds perfect to get our self excited in just a second.  Keyboard and guitar solos still one of attraction on this opening. Few Against Many again teased with a drum solo intro. Together with the second song followed Losing My Mind,  the chorus now more into American sound alike in the "I losing ma mind...".

A more in between Europe and US song perhaps found in the track The Undying Fire, and then the rest of album begin playing minor-ish power and melody metal formula. Glorious will surely amused power metal fans. Notable is Edge of A Dream that featured cello playing with group Apocalyptica.

It's a great album featuring a balance of modern, new Firewind songs and old ones. It's interesting to compare this to Sonata Arctica latest adventure in their Stones Grow Her Name, Firewind rejected the idea to radical chances as in Sonata Arctica case. This album is a nice addition to everyone metal discography.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Firewind - Few Against Many 2012
label: Dismanic Distribution

01. Wall Of Sound
02. Losing My Mind
03. Few Against Many
04. The Undying Fire
05. Another Dimension
06. Glorious
07. Edge Of A Dream [feat. Apocalyptica]
08. Destiny
09. Long Gone Tomorrow
10. No Heroes, No Sinners
11. Battleborn [Limited Edition Digipak bonus]
12. No Heroes, No Sinners [Acoustic version] [Limited Edition Digipak bonus]

    Apollo Papathanasio - singers
    Gus G. - guitars
    Petros Christodoylidis - bass
    Babis Katsionis - keyboard
    Johan Nunez - drums

Graphic design for Firewind cover album


Sonata Arctica Stones Grow Her Name 2012

Sonata Arctica - Stones Grow Her Name
2012 - Album Review

Here we come again. An established metal band going to, or trying to, get more wide musical spectrum in their discography. Sonata Arctica is/was flesh and bone a symphonic power metal band from the beginning. But as some of musician just simply can't resist to tryout their musical outlet outside their respective genre, Sonata Arctica decided to do this under its very same name. Prior to Stones Grow Her Name, the sign of chances already there. An album before, the Days of Gray was already a slow down , calm version of power metal. On this album, they take the full measurement and switch large scale from their previous comfort zone. This is usually mean two results, first is the unrest of innocence fans, that only know their franchise of power metal now gone, and the second is a welcoming fans who care to follow whenever the direction their fav metal band went to.

The second scenario is actually almost a myth, since it's mostly a minority. It's like marketing Pavarotti as a pop singer after the public known him as a classical singer. This review however only addressing the second situation as to review as the first point of view will mean a lamentation and criticism only. Stones Grow Her Name, fortunately is an interesting musical project. If its name under Tonny Kakko solo project I think the reception will much more positive. The first opener track Only the Broken Hearts (Make You Beautiful) is up. Yes, there still existed the very sort melodious intro, but it's far away from the bombastic symphonic and the short length song structure , short length of guitar solo, mean more straight forward, modern type of metal. Second song is the frontal confrontation to power metal, Shitload of Money is almost disco type drum beat. Strangely, these two earlier tracks need only few listening and the melody sink into consciousness, face it, you sing a long the chorus and its seem can't escape from your (metal) mind.

Third song, Losing My Insanity,  is the most familiar Sonata Arctica music. Don't get to happy because this is actually an old song, recorded before and Sonata Arctica doing a different version here. Somewhere Close To You, is again interesting song composition. Fit nicely to Sonata Arctica in full honestly. I Have A Right is a good ballad song but suffered from too much repetition. It's seem want you to remember its chorus forever. Alone in Heaven again , again a nice ballad full of emotion. But The Day seems odd without strong concept, and sound like a filler, again with too many repetition.

As we criticized The Day as too generic, get ready for surprise. Many reviewer take this song seriously, Cinderblox is actually a fun song. Just accept this as one of our folk metal song and its ok.  Don't Mean once again serve as a fun delaying moment, I just don't understand why this song needed to be recorded here. We then arrive to the point of more seriousness, Wildfire Part II and III, these two song give more musical adventure and is good as a climax to the album.

Personal review, the singer is still our beloved familiar voice. In fact, Tony's voice is what really saved this album from being not Sonata. The rest of the band put in creative works, the keyboard works take the most significant elements on this album.

So what we lost in this album, that is the familiar Reckoning Night era power metal. Fans of power metal is correct to lament this switch of direction by Sonata Arctica. While Stones Grow Her Name is by no mean a bad album, but deep inside, I really think and hope Sonata Arctica will back to full scale power metal and its symphonic passion.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Sonata Arctica Stones Grow Her Name
2012 - buy it here

01. Only The Broken Hearts (Make You Beautiful)
02. Shitload Of Money
03. Losing My Insanity
04. Somewhere Close To You
05. I Have A Right
06. Alone In Heaven
07. The Day
08. Cinderblox
09. Don't Be Mean
10. Wildfire, Part: II - One With The Mountain
11. Wildfire, Part: III - Wildfire Town, Population: 0
12. Tonight I Dance Alone [digipak bonus]
13. One-Two-Free-Fall [Japanese bonus]

Guest artists

Cover Art of Stones Grow Her Name, already in psychedelic art design.


Shadows Fall - Fire From the Sky 2012

From the Grammy award nominee, Shadows Fall released their 7th studio album last week, Fire From the Sky. As expected, this is another metal tunes fired to our hearing without compromise. Fire From the Sky take the apocalyptic theme and its one of classic theme we can have in metal, isn't it?

After a brief intro that served as an adjustment to our ear, The Unknown is straight forward delivered. As mainstream metal band, this is a manifest of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal in playing. The music label should also be in metalcore and thrash metal vocabulary. Divide and Conquer set the template running over this album. A catchy guitar riff intro and the song that need only to last between 3-4 minutes to achieved its glory. It's a lot more a fine guitar work such as in the third tracks Weight of the World. Fire From the Sky still the same templates running, slightly slower tempo but its somehow didn't give special attention to be the title bearer song. Unlike the next, Save Your Soul, this is the minor-ish metal that will served disguise to power metal fans, my favorite in natural. Blind Faith is also interesting, with clean guitar opening, the song developed nicely, this is also the longest song with more song structure inside.

Fire From the Sky is needed only couple of listening to enjoy its catchy-ness. As usual the guitar works are on top notch, courtesy of duet between Jonathan Donais and Matt Bachand. Jason Bittner drumming sounds very controlled and precised. The singer combo between epic clean chorus and growling are American trademark, most are well suit into the song writing. This album will easily bring new fans to Shadows Fall and metalcore crowd.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Shadows Fall - Fire From the Sky 2012
buy it here

 1. "The Unknown"   4:54
 2. "Divide and Conquer"   3:05
 3. "Weight of the World"   3:55
 4. "Nothing Remains"   3:20
 5. "Fire From the Sky"   4:55
 6. "Save Your Soul"   3:53
 7. "Blind Faith"   6:27
 8. "Lost Within"   3:31
 9. "Walk the Edge"   3:32
 10. "The Wasteland"   4:05

Shadows Fall


Great White Elation 2012

This is the twelfth studio album of Great White, one of Los Angeles '80s glam rock legendary act. This is also yet another rise of '80 glam rock band following Trixter and Tyketto. If you missed those golden age of rock, here is the shoot. This album, titled Elation is pretty much all you would like from that lost era. This album contained pretty straight forward, even minimalist, blues driven hard rock. For a band that went through much hardship during their career this record seems contextual to its. Pure music, no unnecessary ornamental sound attached here and there. In a first listening this is just a bunch of fine song writing for a rock band.

An important information here is Great White formation now slightly different from their past golden era. The singer in charge now is Terry Ilous, who also fame from XYZ band. The other singer Jack Russel is sadly departed from the band and even preserving his attachment to the band via Jack Russel's Great White platform. So this album mainly consisted of founding guitarist Mark Kendall and long time member Audy Desbrow and Michael Lardie.

This album begin with song (I've Got) Something For You, a fine song build up from a simple guitar lick intro. You will immediately need to adapt to Terry Ilous voice. His performance here is live up the expectation and full of emotion. Several rock songs before we arrive to song Hard to Say Goodbye, a typical bluesy ballad. Then Shotgun Willie's is my favorite and  recommended here.

Overall this is the album when you need something nostalgic, straight forward '80s blues hard rock. The music here serves the most basic needed from each song. Never overwhelm the song, but also enough to satisfy  listener in their crafty song arrangement. The solo are simpler but fulfilling. The style is also remind me of early light punk rock. Some melody line remind me of Duff McKagan and Gilby Clarke solo album. A neat album that use the very basic of rock as their main menu.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Great White - Elation 2012
buy it here now
  1. "(I've Got) Something For You" - 4:31
  2. "Feelin' So Much Better" - 5:04
  3. "Love Train" - 4:46
  4. "Heart Of A Man" - 4:27
  5. "Hard To Say Goodbye" - 5:18
  6. "Resolution" - 5:06
  7. "Shotgun Willie's" - 5:07
  8. "Promise Land" - 5:45
  9. "Lowdown" (bonus track) - 5:56
  10. "Just For Tonight" - 4:33
  11. "Love Is Enough" - 6:04
  12. "Complicated" - 4:15
The album was recorded by the Terry Ilous-fronted Great White; original lead vocalist Jack Russell fronts another version of Great White, dubbed Jack Russell's Great White.

Great White Elation cover album design, as minimalist as its music.


Phenomena - Awakening (2012)

This time a supergroup from UK, already for formed from earlier '80 by a metal record producer Tom Galley. Each time Tom gathered high profile musicians from UK and nearby Europe to performed his composition. Phenomena produced several album in span of  '80 to '90 and the idea preserved until today. So here the latest offer from this supergroup. Despite its artistic cover album looks like a power metal tune but Awakening is simple an AOR album full of melodious traditional hard rock.

The first tracks defined the mood with its blistering anthemic drum intro. Tom Galley choose Lee Small, singer from SHY to performed this track called Smash It Up. Let's Smash It Up is the seller main chorus here, a great AOR tune to open the album. Soon we are into the album, catchy song recommended here are Gotta Move, Shake, and Fighter, these are thick in blues mood. Then there anomaly as Stand Up For Love is a lovely gospel chorus rock. On first listening the whole album somehow come into a pattern of great intro but the song writing sometimes didn't catch up. Going Away is the example here, the song is just somehow too generic. It is Ralf Scheepers from Primal Fear that performed this track. How Long is a great tune combining thick blues vocal.

All musician here performed well, the solo guitars are best in raising the mood and drumming also. Although with its many differ background, the album can be done in more diverse style rather than just blues rock. In other thought this is a best outlet to see how your favorite musician from other band performing this kind of music. But, Awakening is an album best to listen without higher expectation. It's simply a work of several artist with intention to give the best shoot in AOR atmosphere.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Tom Galley's Phenomena - Awakening 2012
buy it here

01. Smash It Up (Lee Small on Vocals, Mat Sinner on Bass, Magnus Karlsson on Lead Guitars)
02. Reality (Toby Hitchcock on Vocals and Mike Slamer on Lead Guitars)
03. Homeland (Rob Moratti on Vocals and Martin Kronlund on all Guitars)
04. Going Away (James Christian Vocals and Tommy Denander Martin Kronlund on Guitars)
05. Gotta Move (Ralf Scheepers on Vocals and Christian Wolff & Tommy Denander on Guitars)
06. How Long (Lee Small on Vocals and Martin Kronlund on Guitars)
07. Shake (Mike DiMeo on Vocal and Martin Kronlund on Guitars)
08. Fighter (Terry Brock on Vocals and Steve Newman on Guitars)
09. Dancing Days (Niklas Swedentorp on Lead Vocals with all Coldspell members)
10. If You Believe (Chris Antblad with Gothenburg Choir)

Martin Kronlund: Guitars, and Bass
Tom Harlan: Guitars & Keyboards
Imre Daun: Drums.
Henrik Thomsen: bass
Per Aronson-Andersson: Hammond, keyboards
JAVA Gospel on "Stand up for love"

Additional Musicians:
Carl Anthony Wright - Guitars
Christian Wolff - Guitars
Tommy Denander - Guitars
Mike Slamer Guitars
Magnus Karlsson - Guitars
Mat Sinner - Bass
All COLDSPELL members
Steve Newman - Guitars and backing vocals
Fredrik Bergh - Keyboards on "Smash It Up" And "Gotta Move"

Phenomena Album Cover design with fantasy art theme

Flying Colors 2012 - Mike Portnoy, Steve Morse

Here is another supergroup involving Mike Portnoy. For those who have complaint about Mike's latest project in Adrenalin Mob, here's more interesting situation we got. Mike team up with Steve Morse , Dave LaRue, Neal Morse, and Casey McPherson (Alpha Red) as singer. Of course this is not a heavy metal band as in Adrenalin Mob and by members, this is a old school prog band, but no they not, this album are more modern sound than you think. This is da real ultra supergroup.

Dave LaRue started their jamming on track Blue Ocean, quickly join by other. Elements of each personality are well preserves here. Steve Morse are still with his chromatic picking approach melody. Neal Morse pop-gospel-rock groove keyboard and backing vocal  are there. Mike Portnoy easily remind us to some of his chops in Dream Theater. The singer expressive falsetto are the one uniting the music. The second song Shoulda Coulda Woulda is slightly heavier in modern rock vibe. For those who curious to see if Steve Morse capable to doing more metal works, the song All Falls Down is there. Love is What I'm Waiting For is another light pop turn into great improvisation stuff. For those who seeking solo and solo ala Dream Theater, check All Falls Down and Infinite Fire

According to some reading on net, the album is only recorded in nine days in 2011. So, this is actually a very much jamming piece that finalized into a song. Pretty much sum up how capable these gentlemen can do in their musical proficiency. Flying Colors is basically a great prog album, slightly light than the usual progressive stuff. But the point here is the composition, they are not overdone it yet very much glue you down, even on first listening.

Metal Harem class: ********* 9 stars out of 10

Flying Colors 2012
buy it here

1. Blue Ocean
2. Shoulda Coulda Woulda
3. Kayla
4. The Storm
5. Forever In A Daze
6. Love Is What I'm Waiting For
7. Everything Changes
8. Better Than Walking Away
9. All Falls Down
10. Fool In My Heart
11. Infinite Fire

Mike Portnoy (ex Dream Theater, drums)
Steve Morse (Deep Purple, guitars)
Neal Morse (keyboard, solo)
Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, bass)
Casey McPherson (Alpha Red, vocals)

Flying Colors band photograph and album cover


Neil Zaza - Clyde the Cat 2012

Neil Zaza comes again to hypnotized us with his melodious guitar shred. He is mainly known in Asia for his endorsement for Cort guitar manufactured. In this album Clyde the Cat, Neil Zaza continued his journey into the guitar world. Everything we familiar with Zaza are present here, the signature natural minor scale, the long hypnotizing sustaining notes and most of song lay upon a simple song structure. Zaza is not copying blitz shredding, as it is not very necessarily in his composition. This album differ very little from his first album Thrills & Chills through now. But it's not that experiment orientated as in Starring at the Sun album.

The album however have two cover song to break the wall. First the open track Funeral for a Friend is a familiar song that covered by many, such as Dream Theater. Later is the Adagio in G minor, the Baroque piece built upon Tomaso Albinoni script that enjoy reputation for its shred-ish guitar translation, especially by Yngwie. Neil also rerecorded two his memorable guitar composition, Melodia along with Higher and Higher. Highlight for his accompaniment musician are drummer Steve Smith on tracks Jewel and Violet Twilight.

That's all, the rest of the album contained hour of wonderful worth music. If you need the music to serve your relaxing time this is it. It will stunned you and have a good balance between beautiful notes and technically needed shred guitar music.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Neil Zaza Clyde the Cat 2012
buy it here

1. Funeral For A Friend (5:40)
2. Endless Highway (6:52)
3. Higher and Higher 2012 (3:42)
4. Jewel (3:50)
5. Adagio Intro (1:26)
6. Adagio (4:34)
7. Melodia 2012 (3:08)
8. Violet Twilight (4:19)
9. Untitled 2012 (3:32)
10. The National Anthem (1:53)
11. In My Dreams (Live Studio Version) (3:58)

Neil Zaza-All Guitars
Garrett Janos-Drums (1,2,3,6,7,9,10)
Steve Smith-Drums (4,8)
Walter Cerasani-Bass (2,4,5,6,7,8,9)
Todd Rogers-Keys (1,2,3,4,5,6,9,10)
Mark Leach-Hammond B3 (2,7,8)
Timothy M. Bradford-Piano (2,4,8, 11)
Mistheria-Piano (6)
John Sferra-Drums (11)
Raymond J. Liptak-Bass (11)

Produced by Neil Zaza

Drakkar - When Lightning Strikes 2012

If you miss an epic metal with story accompaniment, here you get Drakkar on their latest album "When Lightning Strikes". This time the story is about alien invading the earth, set in year 2228 AD. The protagonist hero Col. Hal Gardner then kidnapped by the invader, captured and his memory examined in the alien space ship. Each of the memory flashback bring live into each of this album songs.

Drakkar is Italian base power metal band, their last effort was back in 2002. This meaning When Lightning Strikes is quite fresh following their absent in the last ten year. What this album offer are many above expectation. You get all sort of catchy intro, memorable chorus and galloping drumming. Drakkar named some of their "prelude" and intro effect, so the number of tracklist here is mixed between intro and real song. In sort their music is like a missing link between Rhapsody of Fire and Queensryche.

For starter, after the predictable epic orchestration overture, we presented the first liner prologue with slow graveful track of Day of the Gods, telling the story of Col. Hal in his first seven days inside spaceship or whatever. The Armageddon Machine then followed, the song use a story-based structure and melody.

Overall this is an album that familiar to you in every sense of power metal. If you have no problem with originality and enjoy the repeat familiar riff this is an album you will enjoy in every second. No kidding, the effort made by Drakkar musician is on top notch. Each song carefully decorated with melodious guitar solo. Not only that the keyboard is seems avoiding over orchestrated ala Rhapsody but put in lot of hammond organ solo. This album however have less bombastic symphonic metal but more purely epic, and heavy. Favorite tune Revenge is Done and We Ride.

Metal Harem class: ******* 7 stars out of 10

Drakkar  When Lightning Strikes 2012
buy it here

01. Hyperspace - The Arrival
02. Day Of The Gods
03. The Armageddon Machine
04. In The Belly Of The Beast
05. Revenge Is Done
06. When Lightning Strikes
07. Winter Soldiers
08. Salvation
09. At The Flaming Shores Of Heaven
10. We Ride
11. The Awakening
12. My Endless Flight
13. Aftermath - The Departure
14. Engage!
15. New Frontier

Davide Dell'Orto - vocals
Corrado Solarino - keyboards
Dario "Darian" Beretta - guitars
Simone Cappato - bass
Mattia Stancioiu - drums

Drakkar futuristic fantasy art

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