27.6.12

Dying Fetus - Reign Supreme 2012

If you need something brutal and insane this week, Dying Fetus new release Reign Supreme in this June will serve you well. The band had been in the top category that delivered death metal genre in its best form. Only play as a trio recently, this is a short, only 38 minutes included bonus track, yet memorable death metal album. It has the classic Kreator and Sepultura vibes. Guitars and drums works support all the insane minutes perfectly and backed the vocals by Gallagher.

All songs are killer and fast, the only notable "slower" tunes are only In The Trenches, which is play in its excellent groove. Good things are, the last part of the album, Devout Atrocity, Revisionist Past and The Blood of Power all didn't lost the moment , making this album has almost no weak point. The first half of album however, need no review as they are all excellent written and played.

Put this into your beloved death metal shelf as Dying Fetus continued their standard and delivered another top notch album. Guitar works are insane fast and edgy, all delivered by John Gallagher.

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

Dying Fetus Reign Supreme 2012
buy it here

01. Invert The Idols
02. Subjected To A Beating
03. Second Skin
04. From Womb To Waste
05. Dissidence
06. In The Trenches
07. Devout Atrocity
08. Revisionist Past
09. The Blood Of Power
10. Dead Whores Love To Fuck [Deluxe edition bonus]


Line-up
John Gallagher - guitars, vocals
Trey Williams - drums
Sean Beasley - bass, vocals






26.6.12

Docker's Guild - The Mystic Technocracy (Season 1: The Age Of Ignorance) 2012

Docker's Guild The Mystic Technocracy review

If you like space rock opera, this is the real deal for this year. Docker's Guild is ambitious project of keyboardist composer Douglas R Docker. If the host name alien to you then the musician invited will do. The list are:

John Payne (Asia), Goran Edman, Tony Mills (TNT) and Amanda Somerville in lead/backing vocals.
Guthrie Govan, Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) in Guitars.
Gregg Bissonette, Magnus Jacobson, Drums.
Tony Franklin (Blue Murder) Bass.
Donald D. Docker: Alto and tenor sax, clarinet, spoken voice.
while Douglas himself maintained the keyboard and synth plus vocals work.

This is a very Asia, very AOR formation that end up in the progressive direction.The Mystic Technocracy Season 1 is in between Ayreon and Neal Morse' band. It is slightly less complicated than Ayreon and slightly hard rock than Neal Morse. In the website jargon itself Douglas mentioned “If you like TV series and 1930s serials like Babylon 5, Space 1999, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, this is for you. If you like progressive rock bands like Yes, ELP and Dream Theater, AOR bands like Asia and Journey as well as Duran Duran, David Bowie, Jarre and The Rockets, this is also for you. If you have, like me, a healthy dislike of fundamentalism, and blind dogmatic faith, and spend lots of time wondering why so much pain and destruction can be generated by religions whose main goal is supposed to be love and compassion, then this is definitely for you”.

Singer John Payne welcome us to the future in song The Mystic Prophecy. Darwin's Tears is a very Neal Morse vocal line, I even think Neal maybe involved here. Two progressive tracks before we spend four minutes listening to Swedish(?) spoken ala Lulu in Norse Cosmology part 1. Luckily Norse Cosmology part 2 is the real deal rock song delivered by singer Tony Mills. The keyboard excellent riff also found in Judeo-Christian Cosmology song, Jeff Watson and Guthrie Govan sounds like duo from heaven. I suspect most of funky, wah wah rhythm was supplied by Guthrie while the solo take care mostly by Jeff. Legion of Aliens is AOR song beautifully sung by Goran Edman. Loving the Alien give the microphone back to John Payne. The Gem of Love highlight is their best harmony vocal so far and also the best keyboard solo-ing around.

Last part of the album consist of The Secret of DNA epic plus three stand alone songs. This is the medley continuous progressive world that thick layered by synth. It close the album with high feeling, leaving you almost can't believe how 78 minutes passed in this superior music. One thing to note again is the story and theme is about religion conflict, as obviously in the cover album. I think not very well suited the feeling of this music, perhaps that is more a doom or death metal area. This album should be about romantic story across the space and time zone.

All song follow the formula structure: signature keyboard riff plus excellent vocal writing. Many vocals work are top above the music. They are memorable, down to earth progressive song. The music is also didn't top the earth with complicated composition, the guitarist calmly follow the boss who guide them with his keyboard. It is all a matter of top class composition that able to give this album their most strength. It stay in the room where Star One, Ayreon maybe left in the space of radio friendly songs. Supporting rhythm section lead by world drummer Greg Bissonette nailed all the notes maneuver with excellent fill and pattern. You can check it in instrumental song Prophecy. This is also inform me how little I know about Douglas Docker on the scene. If not because Lion Records put a good effort in promoting this CD, I would probably passed this one. This is a top class AOR and progressive music of the year.

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

Docker's Guild - The Mystic Technocracy Season 1 Age of Ignorance 2012
buy it here


01 A Matter Of Energy
02 The Mystic Technocracy
03 Darwin's Tears
04 Norse Cosmogony (Part 1)
05 Norse Cosmogony (Part 2)
06 Judeo-Christian Cosmogony
07 The Divine Comedy
08 Legion Of Aliens
09 Loving The Alien
10 The Gem Of Love
11 The Secret of DNA (Part 1)
12 Purple Orb
13 The Secret of DNA (Part 2)
14 Prophecy
15 Black Swans



25.6.12

Ihsahn Eremita 2012

Been said as one of most upfront composer and instrumentalist in black metal scenes nowdays, Ihsahn continue his journey of music with forth solo album release, Eremita. If you like stuff in black and extreme metal, this awesome waiting time has over. There is a “catchy” stuff as in Arrival which is a clean vocal song by guest Einar Solberg in the thrash metal platform but also an Ihsahn specialist The Paranoid that demonstrated a cutting edge song composition. This is back to extreme metal with growling vocals. Many intrigue and experimental moments here and there. Song Recollection and The Grave give a blueprint on how to use saxophone in extreme metal song.

Emerita or Eremita gives you 60 minutes of extreme black metal right from the kitchen of best practitioner in the scene. Guest musicians Jeff Loomis and Tobias Andersen in drum. 

Ihsahn Eremita 2012

1.Arrival    5:40
2.The Paranoid    4:43
3.Introspection  5:37
4.The Eagle and the Snake    8:47
5.Catharsis    4:50
6.Something Out There    5:09
7.Grief  2:21
8.The Grave   8:18
9.Departure    7:07
Deluxe edition bonus track
10.Recollection    5:39

    Ihsahn – vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard
    Tobias Ørnes Andersen – drums
    Jorgen Munkeby – saxophone
    Jeff Loomis – guitar
    Devin Townsend – vocals
    Einar Solberg – vocals
    Heidi Tveitan – vocals
    Ihsahn – production
    Jens Bogren – mixing at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden
    Ritxi Ostariz – album artwork and packaging


Little Caesar American Dream 2012

It's been a busy year for hard rock for our 2012. We already met Trixter, Tyketto, LA Guns, Great White etc previously in a revival of 80s band, now please met Little Caesar. The band himself humbly describe them as a longhaired, tattooed bikers singing such soulful, yet ballsy, rock music when they arrived on the scene in Los Angeles in 1987 . Unfortunately Little Caesar was first of all victims of changing taste of music in mainstream rock in '90s. They didn't survive well and only resurrected in mid 2000s. In 2009 Little Caesar gathered once more and recorded Redemption. This continue to our 2012 album titled "American Dream".

Being previously worked with Bob Rock class producer, the band delivered an industry standard recording. This album sounds solid blues hard rock. They describe them self as R&B guitar driven Rock and Roll. Whatever it is, the album is great listening with nostalgic guitar playing supplied by duo guitarist Joey Brasler and Loren Molinare. A short RnR riff in the opening track Holly Roller is an LA vibe of punk and rock. American Dream is great catchy hard rock with excellent lyric. More rock and roll in song Hard Rock Hell, the anthem riff this is one of my favorite tune. The rhythm utilizing an overdriven guitar tune which is great here. Fourth song Prisoner of Love title may sounds too commercial, still the song success in twisting the tempo and groove and memorable. Enjoyable riff in In My Mirror, we come to the ballad point in Only A Memory Away, which have that romantic chorus we can sing together.

Guitarist Joey Brasler must be noted for give solos that magnify the mood. He rarely gives more than required and the notes done in easy non shredding way, which is already great without it. Vocals works by founding member Ron Young is the red line on every song. Easily listening album, this should added to your porto folio of hard rock revival this year.

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

Little Caesar - American Dream 2012
buy it here

1. Holy Roller
2. American Dream
3. Hard Rock Hell
4. Prisoner of Love
5. In My Mirror
6. Only a Memory Away
7. The Girl’s Rockin’
8. Is Your Crazy, Gettin’ Lazy
9. Own Worst Enemy
10. Drama Queen
11. Dirty Water

Ron Young - vocals
Tom Morris - drums
Fidel Paniagua - bass
Loren Molinare - guitars
Joey Brasler - guitars

Graphic Design and Cover Art

23.6.12

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Ascending to Infinity 2012

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Ascending to Infinity 2012
album review

Rhapsody of Fire had been friendly split into two bands, so this is Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody take the lead with his newest, hmm.. symphonic album, Ascending into Infinity. If you think you already listen to the tunes before you heard this, hold on! You might, but I assure better to prepared one of the best production from Luca. Not sure what prevented Luca to not achieved back his high standard of neo classical symphonic works in Rhapsody, but after this split, this album put back Luca in the map. It’s really set the balls high again for every follower that trying to composed in this genre. Total orchestration and intrigue melody composition trademark by Luca.

The symphonic intro already success in capturing the attention. Apart from the most cheesy speech, the vocals works in Quantum X really set the mood to the world of Luca Turilli. And from this point it is guarantee high quality symphonic metal start by Ascending to Infinity. Killer neo classical lick that Luca always seems to invent one after another. The song is the album flagship,flamboyant song required lots of resources, the choirs, orchestration etc. Dante's Inferno and Excalibur are fresh Rhapsody-style song with nice riff. Dark Fate of Atlantis already release in video music version. Every Luca Turilli's work always closed with an epic and this duty fall to Of Michael the Archangel and Lucif3r which is 16 minutes work. Overall I really enjoy Tormento e Passione for its duet operatic singing. Then the Michael Kiske resurrected in bonus track, March of Time.

So, Luca Turilli proved there is plenty of room available for two Rhapsody. Although being in the game for more than 10 albums, Ascending to Infinity still have the moment where fresh tune being in play. Singer Alessandro Conti gives many potential song become real. Drummer Alex Holzwarth also join Luca side and help each other, in the wikipedia entry, this collaboration give this album the 11th studio album of Rhapsody. Little truth we may known at this moment. So, we welcome another team who take the genre into its respective place, Luca Turilli's Rhapsody is no waste of time in forming new band. This album is real deal.

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

Luca Turilli's Ascending to Infinity 2012

01. Quantum X
02. Ascending To Infinity
03. Dante's Inferno
04. Excalibur
05. Tormento E Passione
06. Dark Fate Of Atlantis
07. Luna [Alessandro Safina cover]
08. Clash Of The Titans
09. Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifer's Fall
    1 - Alma Mundi
    2 - Fatum Mortalis
    3 - Ignis Divinus
10. March Of Time [Helloween cover] [bonus]

Line-up
Alessandro Conti - vocals
Luca Turilli - guitars, keyboards
Dominique Leurquin - guitars
Alex Holzwarth - drums
Alex Landenburg - drums
Patrice Guers - bass

Fantasy Art in Rhapsody cover album design

Herman Frank Right in the Guts 2012

Herman Frank - Right in the Guts 2012


Now, can you accept more heavy metal from the guy of Accept? This is Herman Frank, second / co guitarist in Accept, together with Wolf Hoffman. This is his solo album, the second one actually, he released one in 2009 titled Loyal to None. Now, this is Right in the Guts, and this is heavy metal, period.

Very underrated guitarist although being in Accept after most of their years. Right in the Guts is no more than heavy metal from the first notes till the last. Very familiar riff in the first song, Roaring Thunder, well, the title didn’t lie you, it is the roaring riff in its best, which I swear very similar to one song I couldn’t remember right now. Singer is Rick Altzi , also a very seasoned vocalist present in Thunderstone and At Vance fame. And then come the titled song, Right in the Guts, very powerful anthem metal song in the spirit of 80s. Things are still fierce and fury and welcome Ivory Gate and double pedal high pitch song. Little bit of Helloween-ish but the guitar something sound in Rainbow year. The same fury also in through the song Vengeance. From this point it is clear, Herman had done a great job in composing fucking screaming metal tunes, fifth song Starlight is still no resting point yet, the moment is in song Falling to Pieces, a song with anthemic galloping slower temp. Bassist Peter Pichl take some spotlight in the intro to Raise Your Hand. The album touch the ground again after this point and here comes several enjoyable “fillers”. Lights Are Out is the last highlight here.

Along the team are drummer Michael Wolpers who provide required energy to support each song. Guitarist Mamalitsidis Cristos is little known but his works are clear in the album. This is a great addition to the already high profile Accept’s Stalingrad earlier this year. The world need to give more spotlight to Herman Frank and this album hopefully raise the community awareness of his greatness.


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

Herman Frank - Right in the Guts 2012

01. Roaring Thunder
02. Right In Your Guts
03. Ivory Gate
04. Vengeance
05. Starlight
06. Falling To Pieces
07. Raise Your Hand
08. Waiting
09. Hell Isn't Far
10. Kings Call
11. Lights Are Out
12. Black Star
13. So They Run


21.6.12

GUN Break The Silence 2012

Not another variant of Guns N' Roses or L.A. Guns, this is rock band from UK / Scotland instead simply, Gun. There was short glory of Gun back in the peak of '80/90 glam rock era. But today, Gun with Break The Silence still the arsenal of many nostalgic punk/rock tunes.

From Glasgow, they defined a fresh rock , for me something very US and surprisingly the Gun-ners band, that is Gilby Clarke and friends. The differences are the guitar here less in the front, they are more focus on rhythm. The first three songs are the shinning gems of the album, Butcher Man has its best groove driven punk rock. 14 Stations are faster song with great riffing and Lost and Found give the best mixed between creative lyric idea and song. But then the main body of this album consists of dozens of simple, easier tunes which didn't really click out. Worthy mentioning favorites are Bad Things and Last Train, two of more memorable tunes.

This is an album that creatively built up on the hard rock with punk elemental. Both Gizzi brother, Jools on guitar and Dante on vocals are team up very well. Though they are Dante Gizzi who previously a bass player take the mic duty quite well, his voice are fresh and young. The album mixed new millennium sounds with some older feeling from the 80s. Give it a shoot.

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

Gun Break The Silence 2012

01. Butcher Man
02. 14 Stations
03. Lost & Found
04. Caught In The Middle
05. Break The Silence
06. How Many Roads
07. No Substitute
08. Bad Things
09. Innocent Thieves
10. Running Out Of Time
11. Last Train

Bass - Dante Gizzi
Vocals - Dante Gizzi
Guitars - Jools Gizzi, Johnny McGlynn
Drums - Paul McManus


19.6.12

Lita Ford Living Like A Runaway 2012

I was enjoying through the weekend Lita Ford's latest album Living Like A Runway. It's feel age since her last voice popping in my head, but this is a fresh and surprisingly super cool stuff together. In short the conclusion is, this is a great comeback stuff from Lita.

The first lyric of the album is "I don't want to fight with you no more" marked the emotional stuff filled through the album. Lita struggling to her private life and divorce issue. The personal side of Lita is somehow recorded nicely to this album, and it is one of the good point here. Branded is a cool opening, and Lita voice really shine, sounds properly as the veteran, oops... old mama of hard rock and metal. Voice very bitchy as well! Hate, is a punk feel here, with Lita again delivered the what-the-fuck sludgy voice perfectly. But my love song is the titled track Living Like A Runaway. It is the classic American country hard rock song, with excellent lyric flows through the body and choruses. It is Bon Jovi-ish in female voice. It is a song that I would sing in a campfire, in a car ride and put in my movie soundtrack if I am a movie director. Mother is the climax of Lita life story, putting the most emotion to this ballad that will haunted her former life partner (and the children!). Bad Neighborhood in the bonus part is another point of interest, notable because Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich helping in guitar riff.

And that is true, behind successful woman lay a men. Surprisingly to find is guitarist Gary Hoey behind the production team. Also included are lyricist Michael Dan Ehmig, and drummer Matt Scurfield. It is not explicit which guitar layer Gary put in, but in the Guitar World interview he was heavily involved in writing. The dual guitar in Asylum and Love 2 Hate U are successful collaboration in my observations.


So it is a solid comeback album, very story driven and many song comes with killer groove in vibes of hard rock and punk. Come and grab this for your enjoyment.

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

Lita Ford Living Like A Runway 2012
buy it here


01. Branded
02. Hate
03. The Mask
04. Living Like A Runaway
05. Relentless
06. Mother
07. Devil In My Head
08. Asylum
09. Love 2 Hate U
10. A Song To Slit Your Wrists By
Digipak Bonus Tracks:
11. Bad Neighborhood
12. The Bitch Is Back
iTunes Bonus Track:
11. Boiling Point

Band:
Lita Ford - vocals, guitar and keyboards
Gary Hoey - guitar, bass, keyboards and background vocals
Matt Scurfield - drums

Production:
Produced by Bobby Collin, Lita Ford and Gary Hoey.

Lita Ford Living Like A Runway Photographic Cover Art


Fatal Force Unholy Rites 2012

First of all you need to get introduced to the name Torben Enevoldsen. Torben is a guitarist/multi instrumentalist and composer hail from Denmark. He achieved shredder status via his three instrumental albums, Guitarisma (1997), Heavy Persuasion (2000) and Flying Solo (2005), and upcoming fourth album as mentioned in official site. He also nurtured a progressive metal band Section A. Of course then Torben love power metal also,  Fatal Force is Torben's vehicle in this genre adventures.

Having previously released debut album in 2006 with vocalist Mats Leven, recently Torben released his second Fatal Force album "Unholy Rites" with vocalist Mike Vescera. Now the singer's names should ring you up and make you considered to heard this album.

Unholy Rites open with a song Run for Cover, after the blazzing drum intro, a dominant exotic scale guitar theme entered. Mike Vescera soon hit the song and this is a modest melodic metal song. Things get better in album titled Unholy Rites, choruses are well written. Lesson in Devil is another nice chorus song. No One Will Listen is the only ballad song. Higher Ground is a song demonstrated Vescera's higher pitch voice. In each song, Torben virtuoso solos are thrown everywhere. This is a nice guitar instrumentation with the song still up front as focus, you can compared this to Lars Eric Mattson concept in Book of Reflection, where the guitar is more dominant focus.

Overall, an interesting melodic metal project. Many to enjoy especially backed with shredding solos. Mike Vescera singing is one of main interesting point. If you like Kamelot type song, with something exotic guitar scale decoration, this is a good listening. Several less polished song, such as Enter The Night which is always a filler status, but considered this is also a half guitar instrumental project, an understandable point here. The drummer in serve is unknown Dennis Hansen as per metalarchieve database. The album will hit European in 20th July 2012 via Metal Haven.

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

Fatal Force - Unholy Rites 2012
buy it here

01. Run for Cover
02. Unholy Rites
03. Fight
04. Lessons in Evil
05. In Silence
06. No One Will Listen
07. Higher Ground
08. Listen to Reason
09. Enter the Night
10. House of Pain

11. Cast in Stone - Japanese bonus


Torben Enevoldsen - guitars, bass, keyboards
Mike Vescera - vocals
Dennis Hansen - drums




Fatal Force Unholy Rites 3D Cover Album Art

Driver - Countdown 2012

My last encounter with the voice of melodic metal, Rob Rock was in album Garden of Chaos, his solo album in 2009. Fact is in May 2012, Rob Rock done his latest recording with Driver as the band and release album titled "Countdown". Driver the band itself has a long history, emerged as melodic metal act in late 1980, was Rob Rock's project with acclaimed guitarist/producer Roy Z. With his first class voice, Rob Rock has hired in many project, and Driver is perhaps his least known band.

Nevertheless, this album is a faithful melodic metal outlet. It's surprisingly easy listening and familiar riff. Rob Rock voices actually made most of the song even "standard" tunes in metal. Stuff like the second theme riff of Feel the Fire is actually really generic but the a class one. Return to the Sky is powerful  opening act with its arpeggio intro. We then presented by five catchy song from Rising Son to Cry of the Wounded, which is all excellent tunes, great riff great song writing. Always on My Mind is the only slow song and then another four metal track to make up a total of 11 tunes we have here.

Those who missed Rob Rock in the last three years will found this album absolutely stunning welcome back of Rob Rock. RR had been with Impelliterri in both their solo albums and this collaboration with Roy Z give you some different feel. Band member Reynold Carlson, their original Driver's drummer provide prime beat for them, backed with bassist Aaron Samson and Ed Roth in bass and keyboards. Especially the bass line are also brave enough to be in pair with the guitar, in  One of favorite underrated metal album in 2012.

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

Driver Countdown 2012
RockZilla Records

1. Return To The Sky
2. Rising Son
3. Countdown
4. Hollywood Shooting Star
5. Thief In The Night
6. Cry Of The Wounded
7. Always On My Mind
8. Feel The Fire
9. Destiny
10. Running From The Darkness
11. Babylon

Driver Futuristic Cover Art







17.6.12

Manowar The Lord of Steel 2012

The King of Metal is back. This time the moniker raise into The Lord of Steel, released 16th June 2012. It's the 12th studio album, produced by member bassist Joey DeMaio. This album back to their power metal origin, without over symphonic elements as in Gods of War. Many songs are built straight away from good old riffing, the guitarist Karl Logan had experiment with more heavier guitar distortion.

Opening track The Lord of Steel captured back many Manowar's earlier spirit. Notable here is the drummer Donnie Hamzik which magnify the song with his powerful drumming licks. Manowarriors is typical Manowar song with its power choruses. Born In A Grave is moderate tempo song,  Eric Adams singing is the main vocal point in many songs, especially this song which is very story driven structure. Righteous Glory is chordal guitar ballad ala Gods of War. Jump to the track Black List is interesting composition with more than two minutes overture of bass and guitar. The final interesting point is song El Gringo, keyboard layered and minor scale feel power metal song.

This is a welcoming come back album of Manowar. Manowar had gone through the years, so far most of their years are juggling between are they going to the commercial or to the experimental direction of their music. With this album however, Manowar perhaps choose to back to their easier listening path, with simple power metal songs. The production is great, with drumming and bass quite in the front. Guitar sounds is very subjective, I would rather said if it can provide the "crispy" version of distortion, then we can judge what is the best sound for this album. Vocals of Eric Adams is still the classic from Manowar and bring the song into emotional rendering. If you like power metal and earlier Manowar, this album will captured your heart.

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

Manowar The Lord of Steel 2012
buy it here
  1. The Lord Of Steel – (4:07)
  2. Manowarriors – (4:46)
  3. Born In A Grave – (5:47)
  4. Righteous Glory – (6:10)
  5. Touch The Sky – (3:49)
  6. Black List – (6:58)
  7. Expendable – (3:10)
  8. El Gringo – (4:57)
  9. Annihilation – (4:00)
  10. Hail Kill And Die – (3:56)

Personnel

9.6.12

FullForce - One 2011

Here another interesting album that I missed last year. FullForce is a supergroup consisted of Carl Johan Grimmark and Stefan Elmgren on guitar. Both are tired metal guitarist that somehow retreat from their respective band, Narnia and Hammerfall. In FullForce they found a more relaxing studio band and to put things more seriously the line up completed by Mike Andersson (vocals, Cloudspace), Anders Johansson (drums, ex-Yngwie, Hammerfall) , and Tommy Larson (ex-Heed). So, this is an all Sweden high profile musicians.

Seeing the line up itself, the band should be half progressive half power metal, which is a mouthwatering setup. But their first album, ONE, is more generic heavy-metal approach, of course with little power / prog elements. Mythomaniac raise with their very neo-classical / power / prog synth intro, then development straight away into epic heavy metal song. None of Your Concern is a song with little hard rock singing element. Heart and Soul is something Hammerfall guitar riff driven song. Oblivion is trying to get some darker and progressive feel with its exotic minor scale song. Open Your Eyes again, very guitar riff heavy metal track. Except Into the Cradle which is a lighter hard rock song, all the rest of album consist of slighly progressive metal with Hammerfall galloping rhythm feel.

A very enjoyable melodic and heavy metal album here. Carl Johann Grimmark surely provide most of complexes solos here but overall most are very well rhythm-ed metal song. The singing is blend nice into each song. Fans of both Hammerfall and especially Christian metal band, Narnia, will found little need to adjust with this album. C.J Grimmark unfortunately retreat from this project, and as in 2012 the guitarist in charge enlisted Stefan Rosqvist, who is also bandmate in Cloudspace, confirmed that this is will remain a side project.

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

FullForce - One 2011
buy it here

01. Mythomaniac - 4.02
02. None Of Your Concern - 3:35
03. Heart And Soul - 3:31
04. Oblivion - 4:53
05. Open Your Eyes - 4:25
06. Rain - 4:33
07. Suffering In Silence - 3:06
08. Walls Of Secrets - 4:33
09. Father Spirit - 4:51
10. Bleed - 5:07
11. Into The Cradle - 5:01


Line-up:
 Mike Andersson (Cloudscape) – Vocals
Stefan Elmgren (ex-Hammerfall) – Guitars
CJ Grimmark (ex-Narnia) – Guitars (withdrawn in 2012)
Tommy Larsson (ex-Heed) – Bass
Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen) – Drums

Graphic design and art



8.6.12

Rush Clockwork Angels 2012

Rush has extended their legacy on the progressive rock universe this year, with album Clockwork Angels. Although two of the tracks had been released years prior, the album contained a full 65 minutes of unheard high quality progressive music. The partner in production with the trio was producer Nick Raskulinecz and recorded around April 2010 to the end of 2011. So, it is another solid and very planned album from Rush.

Caravan is Rush's new millenium hits, with its power riff, tight and solid composition, opened the album. Bu2B is following with even more progressive feel, the drum pattern is complexes and a superb production  highlight their groove that never being so crystal clear. Then we enter the first real new song, Clockwork Angels, is a time travel musical experience. Starting calmly with acoustic guitar and ballad feel, this is seven minutes epic that once again see Rush transform into another musical space. The chorus for this song is rather rare Rush's scale. Also a rare extended guitar solo from Alex Lifeson in the interlude just before the vocal effects take parts.

After the dark feeling, The Anarchist recover the situation with straight drum,bass and riff structure. Carnies and Halo Effect are two modern rock song. Seven Cities Of Gold is another very groovy tunes with tearing eyes thumbing bass line. The Wreckers again bring back the music slightly lower to the ground with its light feel beat, perhaps the most lyrical song so far.

Headlong Fight direct quoted Bastille Day's drum accent in the intro, and is another tired complexes progressive track to keep your eyes lid up. BU2B2 is intermezzo to the previous track with similar name. Wish Them Well continued the pattern to keep thing not over complexes and give listener something easier to enjoy. This is a 70s feel rock song. The closing track, The Garden is a nocturne feel ballad, good thing Rush close the album with a song that melody are very typical theirs.

As in previous Rush, the guitar itself need no spot to truly show itself as virtuosos melodic instrument, but rather a rhythm and show time only on strictly small space between the leading bass line and drum. As for the basses, it is crystal clear the leading conductor here. Drumming is almost perfect in recording, not to mentioned Neil Pert's mastery in groove and fill. Vocal itself as we know is almost the fourth instrument here. If we substitute the vocal line with a violin or sax, I think the song itself will continued perfectly.

So, this is another works that hard to beat from Rush. Production wise and composition wise. If you continued to their video music, the level of perfectness is also there. Top on their game even after 40 years in trio. It's a complexes album to review and more than a couple listening is required to enjoy all their richness here. Do not missed this album with all your strength this year!

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

Rush - Clockwork Angels 2012
buy it here

1. Caravan (5:40)
2. BU2B (5:10)
3. Clockwork Angels (7:31)
4. The Anarchist (6:52)
5. Carnies (4:52)
6. Halo Effect (3:14)
7. Seven Cities Of Gold (6:32)
8. The Wreckers (5:01)
9. Headlong Flight (7:20)
10. BU2B2 (1:28)
11. Wish Them Well (5:25)
12. The Garden (6:59)

Total Time: 66:40

- Geddy Lee / vocals, bass and keyboards
- Alex Lifeson / guitars
- Neil Peart / drums and percussion
- Nick Raskulinecz / producer



Clockwork Angels Progressive Art Cover Album Desigh

6.6.12

L.A. Guns Hollywood Forever 2012

L.A. Guns was important band in the Hollywood 80s-90s hard rock scenes, closely related to Guns N' Roses and many others important band. They had enough history that nowdays there were two line ups bears L.A. Guns' legacy. One is the official line up with Steve Rileys and singer Phil Lewis, the other is by guitarist Tracii Guns, who actually also the icon of L.A. Guns. This 2012 release, Hollywood Forever is the one recorded by the official Phil Lewis line up. Together with guitarist Stacey Blades and bassist Scotty Griffin, and with Andy Johns as producer.

While some of 90s long hair band put efforts to resurrect their missed genre such as Trixter, Tyketto and Great White, here L.A. Guns didn't really bring back that music that grew them up in Hollywood. It's less wild and rather sounds mature. Title track Hollywood Forever is actually dark and heavier tunes, but just slightly a step away from their memorable Cocked & Loaded album. However the voice of Phil Lewis is enough to bring back our memories on that era. The bridge in You Better Not Love Me is actually a close one and good in song crafting. Some of groove and drumming still gives us bit of memories, Eel Pie for example. Vine St. Shimmy as well but in its guitar riff and its a good efforst considering it is Stacey Blades that try to bring in the Tracii Guns memory. And there are more hard rock in this the total of 15 tracks on this package.

Hollywood Forever maybe the album that continue L.A. Guns tradition. Though not with its legendary guitarist Tracii Guns, Phil Lewis sound can be fulfilling for those longing L.A. Guns resurrection after years of disorientation. Overall this is a nice fit between old and modern sound of this band.

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

L.A. Guns Hollywood Forever 2012
buy it here

1. "Hollywood Forever"
2. "You Better Not Love Me"
3. "Eel Pie"
4. "Sweet Mystery"
5. "Burn"
6. "Vine St. Shimmy"
7. "Dirty Black Night"
8. "Underneath The Sun"
9. "Queenie"
10. "Crazy Tango"
11. "Venus Bomb"
12. "I Won't Play"
13. "Requiem (Hollywood Forever)"
14. "Arana Negra (Black Spider)" (Cover of The Bicicletas song)
15. "Rattlesnake"

Phil Lewis - vocals
Steve Riley - drums
Stacey Blades - guitars
Scott Griffin - bass






L.A. Guns Photographic Art for Cover Album Hollywood Forever

4.6.12

Derdian New Era Pt 3 The Apocalypse 2010

As a fan of power metal, I welcome a band that reviewers universally compared them to Rhapsody of Fire. Coming from Milan, Derdian is in the homeland of epic power metal in the style of Italian. To be more epic, all their releases so far is a continuation fantasy concept album called "New Era". In 2010, the third edition was released, New Era Pt.3 The Apocalypse. I must say I skipped the first two editions due to time constraint and only listen to their latest.

Being aware of some criticism on the album for its cheekiness, less originality or too Rhapsodian, I completely off guard and blown by their offer on this album. The album offered as much as epic moment right from the first notes on their intro, Preludio. The Spell is the first vocal lyric, goes in with a good mood of any power metal song. This song also provide nice interlude that utilized folk feel odd tempo to counter the issue about easy predicted tunes, a casual problem in power metal. But the real epic comes from second song, Battleplan, a powerful song with its familiar Rhapsody scale and groove. This continue with Black Rose, which has a beautiful song writing melody. The piano scroll here gives an unique and memorable momentum, this dispels the myth that this album doesn't have any memorable melodies.

Her Spirit Will Fly Away back to fast double pedal song. Again, the song is able to raise the mood and has interesting song development with addition of female operatic voice in the middle. Dreams is most likely gives Luca Turilli fans a dejavu with its Italian scale of power metal. Everything went high in the rest of this album. Burn is the late epic song pop in. Forevermore is an intermezzo with female voice as leading singer to its power chorus. The whole epic then close with two neo classical composition, Presagio and The Apocalyspe which is half instrumental composition.

This whole power metal moments then perfected by how beautiful the tunes and sound engineer put in this album. The guitar tunes sounds most crystal clear and screaming. Keyboard layering here is notable. This is the area that will defined how far they can jump out of Rhapsody-like sound. In many moments, the keyboard choose to use the piano sound as duelling voice against the guitar, which is quite memorable here. Marco Garau the keyboard wizard also created many creative moments, as in intro of The Prophecy that will surely very memorable. The singer, Joe Caggianelli is able to raise the moment with his voice. Unfortunately Joe departed from this band in February 2012. Whole band musicianship is top the game.

So, what happens here is the whole hour of epic melodious power metal. I can't find anything that prevent me from not enjoying this album. Forget originality issue since this is power metal, dude. But Derdian with its dedicated musicians gives another great contribution to the genre. Do not believe other critics or reviewers before you listen to this. I will wait their release without hesitation, a rating 8/10 is worthwhile.

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

Derdian New Era Pt.3 The Apocalypse
buy it here

1. Preludio
2. The Spell
3. Battleplan
4. Black Rose
5. Her Spirit Will Fly Again
6. Dreams
7. Divine Embrace
8. The Prophecy
9. Burn
10. Forevermore
11. Revolt
12. Presagio
13. The Apocalypse

    Joe Caggianelli - Vocals
    Marco Garau - Keyboards
    Henry Enrico Pistolese - Guitar, backing vocals
    Dario Radaelli - Lead guitar
    Marco Banfi - Bass
    Salva - Drums

Fantasy Art for Derdian Album Cover









3.6.12

Circus Maximus Nine 2012

They had been my favorite progressive metal band since the debut "The 1st Chapter". Now Circus Maximus released their third studio album "Nine" on June 2012, in the span of five year after their 2007's "Isolate" album. A quick listening say this album slightly moving on their previous sound. Nine is more heavier and they slowly discontinued their more power metal type of progressive metal and move on more thrashy feel.

The intro Forging and calmly enter Architect of Fortune give the listener complex drumming and approved odd meter progressive riff. The vocal line is again more complex and less high chorus that very demanding as in The 1st Chapter album. But the story driven singer approach seems quickly paid off after 2 or 3 repeated listening. Namaste quickly to follow, coming with exotic scale guitar riff, Namaste, a salutation commonly spoken in India, also provide strong chorus in within their complex music composition. Game of Life still sound as the extended outro of Namaste but a song on its respect. The flow break with the fifth track, Reach Within which is a calm ballad, the form on which Circus Maximus usually very strong at. I Am is by far something revisit of their previous sound, very likely from their 1st Chapter album sound. Used is keep up progressive composition although the guitar riff seem to be the most 'generic' riff for progressive song. After the light, The One, the album then closed with two epic composition, Burn After Reading and Last Goodbye.

It's a complex album, with some unexpected twist in the progressive composition. Slightly move away from the high pitch chorus driven as in their previous album, which is actually their strong point before. The singer Mike Eriksen actually has a very progressive sad voice that fit in this type of atmosphere. The guitar solo still very demanding but the keyboard solos now slightly reduced and more into the background. Drumming are also very complex and up to the limit. Great progressive works.

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

Circus Maximus - Nine 2012
buy it here
label Frontiers

01. "Forging" - 1:16
02. "Architect of Fortune" - 10:12
03. "Namaste" - 4:02
04. "Game of Life" - 5:01
05. "Reach Within" - 4:59
06. "I Am" - 4:20
07. "Used" - 4:52
08. "The One" - 4:00
09. "Burn After Reading" - 8:48
10. "Last Goodbye" - 9:59
Total Length - 57:29

The Japanese version will also include a bonus track.

Mike Eriksen − vocals
Mats Haugen − guitar
Glen Cato Møllen − bass
Truls Haugen − drums
Lasse Finbråten − keyboards







Monochromatic Graphic Art for Progressive Metal Cover Album

Jorn - Bring Heavy Rock To The Land 2012

Ah.. the busy month of summer June has arrive. Plenty of release being schedule for this month. After Delain, here Jorn screaming to Bring Heavy Rock To The Land, released 1st June 2012. The album is solo project of power metal band Masterplan high airtime singer, Jørn Lande. Bring Heavy Rock to The Land however, as titled and mentioned by Jorn himself, more a heavy rock approach with metal spice up. Quote, "I think this album follows a similar JORN-tradition like those before, more Heavy Rock oriented than Metal" (...) "But as usual it's not one musical expression all the way through the album, but a variety of musical landscapes within the categories of Rock and Metal".

The album open with acoustic intro, My Road is something sounds like Iron Maiden acoustic with Bruce Dickinson in throat. The title track however bring up the level of this album, Bring Heavy Rock To The Land is really uplift the heavy rock atmosphere. There is also a very Axel Rudi Pell sound here and there, even the title Ride Like The Wind is perhaps one of Axel title song (actually a Saxon / Christopher Cross cover). Jorn singer is however very dominant (obviously) and opposite to the any guitarist solo album, this is song and singing over the top of all. Interesting track like Time To Be King should be welcome very much for Masterplan  fans, the exact cover by the singer himself. Black Morning is something bluesy rock metal (sic).

For a singer with very high portfolio here and there, this is the album where Jorn take more into self defined heavy rock style. Something like early Scorpions-Iron Maiden-Judas Priest sound, less double pedal drumming but rich of riff. The musicians in charge doing all great job for this, guitarist Jimmy Iverson and Tore Moren actively lift up the song with their chops, Ride To The Guns is a great double guitar attack song. For music that played in that little space between heavy hard rock to metal, this is another strong portfolio from Jorn Lande.

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

Jorn - Bring Heavy Rock To The Land 2012
buy it here
Frontier Label

1.  "My Road"
2.  "Bring Heavy Rock To The Land"
3.  "A Thousand Cuts"
4.  "Ride Like The Wind (Christopher Cross/Saxon cover)"
5.  "Chains Around You"
6.  "The World I See"
7.  "Time To Be King (Masterplan cover)"
8.  "Ride To The Guns"
9.  "Black Morning"
10."I Came To Rock"
11."Live And Let Fly (bonus track)"

"Mob Rules (Black Sabbath cover) (bonus track for Japan)"

Personnel
    Jørn Lande - lead vocals
    Tore Moren - guitars
    Jimmy Iversen - guitars
    Nic Anglieri - bass
    Willy Bendiksen - drums
    Mixing and mastering by Tommy Hansen

Jorn 2012 Metal Album Cover














1.6.12

Book of Reflections - Relentless Fighter 2012

Book of Reflections is a solo project by Lars Eric Mattson. If you don't know this guy who happen to be a near god guitarist, you should read this review carefully, lol. Lars was entering the shred scene back in the 80s Shrapnel year, as one of Mike Varney's axemen. Released several shred solo albums (the last full instrumental was Earthbound, 2005),  this Book of Reflections project is focus on vocal neo classical metal, but actually, it is more a one third singing and the rest are soloing, at least found in this album.

No epic intro available for the opening, instead the shred just can't wait and come in in 0.0842s. Although it's cool, but I think at least a 0.5s intro note will make it more polished, at least from editing point of view. All songs are too cool, the album just feel created to blow your head away, with solo and solos. Two singers are in action but seems a supporting cast only because after minutes of musical opera, the voice different is almost unrecognizable. Most of song are actually very familiar power metal formula, but most of the time you just can't wait for the lyric to pass and again, more like a guitar music with vocal as the interlude. Highlight blitz guitar are in Until the Day and Rise Up! In fact again, they almost share the same neo classical licks here and there. And for sake of God, there exist Gate of Oblivion, a (surprise) full instrumental song.

This is a luke warm water heavy/power metal album if you didn't like too many shredding time, but is there such metal fans who didn't enjoy extensive solos here? The keyboard works, also by Lars, get the same intensity as the guitar. The album is heavy in progressive feel and the singer serves mostly as the other half of attraction. Sound mixing wise, I feel the album tunes is a bit out of ordinary, with too machine sound overall. Nevertheless, a very very enjoyable time for any guitar shred lover.

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

Book of Reflections - Relentless Fighter 2012

1. Until the Day 04:44
2. Dance With the Devil 05:08
3. Angel Shed a Tear 04:13
4. Bleeding Dry 05:32
5. Rise Up ! 04:41
6. Crashing Through 04:11
7. Somewhere Else to Be 05:28
8. Gates to Oblivion 06:27   instrumental
9. Keep Us Afloat 04:35
10. Without My Angel 04:45

Fantasy art style album cover for Book of Reflections














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