Iced Earth - Plagues Of Babylon (2014)

Only two years after their Dystopia album, Iced Earth set their 11th studio releases with Plagues Of Babylon, planned to be on the market by 2014. This new album spanned more than 79 minutes long, quite an ambitious one. There is not much changes in formation except the drummer hot seat is done by Raphael Saini. Raphael recorded the drum parts but then later replaced by Iced Earth most current drummer, Jon Dette. Plagues Of Babylon feel exactly like the continuation of Dystopia. But I must admit this later rendition of new Iced Earth music is much feel at home by now. Additional vocals on the jamming song in Highwayman includes Russell Allen and many, while Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kurch is lead vocals in Among The Living Dead.

On the first track, Plagues Of Babylon, we got that catchy  riffs bouncing here and there, the choruses resembling well Dystopia feel. Set in 10 minutes it is a good opener. Democide is also ambitious one, lengthy in the intro of drumming and guitar riffin', you can heard a very Metallica's Justice for All era riffs in the continuation of this song. The crunchy riff still continue in The Culling, heavier voices close to death metal is starting to plagues all over. Hansi Kurch in Among The Living Dead is a good one, we got to hear Hansi performing his unique vocals on more aggressive music, compared to his original 'power and epic' metal band. I can still recommended more tunes such as If I Could See You, which is a sudden ballad in the middle of storm. Also Cthulhu for a rather lengthy song with meaningful lyrics. Peacemaker and Spirit Of The Times for slow tempo intermezzo.

Overall just count the minutes spend, this album is worth it. Of course Iced Earth is in different leagues and Plagues Of Babylon is lift up the expectation. This is an improved material as we already heard in Dystopia. Stu Block more importantly blending even well with the music, sounds like his voices mixed well with Jon Schaffer backing voices. The album also featuring many guest vocalist, you can see from the list below. A great album to start 2014.

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

Iced Earth - Plagues Of Babylon (2014) 
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Plagues Of Babylon
2. Democide
3. The Culling
4. Among The Living Dead
5. Resistance
6. The End?
7. If I Could See You
8. Cthulhu
9. Peacemaker
10. Parasite
11. Spirit Of The Times
12. Highwayman
13. Outro

Jon Schaffer - rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, lead guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Highwayman"
Troy Seele - lead guitar
Stu Block - lead vocals, backing vocals
Luke Appleton - bass guitar
Raphael Saini - drums

Michael Poulsen - lead and backing vocals on "Highwayman"
Russell Allen - lead and backing vocals on "Highwayman"
Hansi Kursch - lead vocals on "Among the Living Dead", backing vocals
Thomas Hackmann - backing vocals
Andrew Peters - backing vocals
Matt O'Rourke - backing vocals
Bonna Ross Bernal - backing vocals

Iced Earth Plagues of Babylon album review


Torben Enevoldsen – Above and Beyond (2013)

This is another strong instrumental guitar release for this month. Torben Enevoldsen is guitarist for Fatal Force and also a soloist with many solo albums. I mostly listen to his album Heavy Persuasion which I think a cross styles between American Shrapnel and European taste. Above And Beyond is his 2013 album and looks like another all around heavy-rock guitar album.

For most of the song, they are traditional heavy metal and hard rock in styles. Sonic Confusion can fit into any guitar album in between '80s to 2000s, it is chugging power chord with solid melodic solo over it. Cruisin' gives more power chord riffs in the intro and the rest of the song. Above And Beyond playing in some unusual rhythm meter but everything still solidly in regular ear-friendly scales. Mellow tunes found in In Deep, beautifully performed ballad. Then there is enough suspend in Lost In Space. And to make it a full ten song, it is True Blue to close the album with another sweet melody line in slow tempo.

Above and Beyond is regular shredding album full of beautiful ear scratching solos. This album use almost nothing unusual to catch your attention, it is just plain drum-bass-rhythm and the well composed melody. If you like traditional, strictly non experimental stuffs, this whole album will gives you a good exercise on that.

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

Torben Enevoldsen – Above and Beyond (2013)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Sonic Confusion
02. Cruisin’
03. Above And Beyond
04. Horizontal View
05. Dreaming
06. Back On Track
07. In Deep
08. Lost In Space
09. Mysterious Karma
10. True Blue

Torben Enevoldsen Above and Beyond album review

Alex Masi - Danger Zone (2013)

Alex Masi had a long road as a band guitarist and also soloist. Exist since '80s, in his belt is about 15 all instrumental guitar albums. Danger Zone is his latest as per 2013, just three years after his previous Theory of Everything. Alex also had gone a variety of genre in his music, started as heavy metal gone to classical music and others, his latest style seems to switched into more electronic music. As hear in Theory of Everything where a lot of tunes were laid on a machine generated beat, in Danger Zone, it utilized 90% of it. So, do not expected heavy metal riffs in the intro, as many has been replaced by synthesizer and beat machine.

Started from Front Line Theory and Second Door, most of the guitar playing around here are in the style of funk up to hip hop and groovy fusion. In Anti-Aircraft, the usage of real acoustic drum set bring us back closer to the home of rock and roll. Golden Coast brings in AOR feel on Alex Masi composition, this is the only track that quite free from electronic stuff. There's also a track like Sun People where involved of world music is meditative to hear. The last different tunes is in the final cut, Afterglow, in which atmospheric composition without a drum beat.

In this hour of guitar playing, Danger Zone resembling what we familiar in Joe Satriani's Engine of Creation and also remind you to Steve Vai's weirdos, especially in album Ultrazone. The thing is, when listen to electronic music for 60 minutes it's completely pulled out heavy metal. It mean that Danger Zone will more favor to those who more into nu-metal and something like that. In the musical aspect, this album will stand out in this particular 'electronic shred' category. If you enjoy the part of modern music and guitar shred, this album is for you.

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

Alex Masi - Danger Zone (2013)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1 Front Line Theory
2 Second Door
3 Anti-Aircraft
4 Heat Seekin' Device
5 Golden Coast
6 Sun People
7 Viva La Revolucion
8 Beginning of the End
9 Sexual Warfare
10 Danger Zone
11 Holy Fiend
12 Afterglow

Tim Hart : Drums
Tim McCardell : Bass
Alex Masi : Guitar
Kyle Michaels : Vocals

Alex Masi Danger Zone album review


Messenger Starwolf - Pt. 1: The Messengers (2013)

This band from Neunkirchen, Germany, has a strong old school power metal in their blood. The new conceptual album, in space theme as the cover art suggested, is their third. Titled as Starwolf Part 1 : The Messenger, it captured the most you can have in power metal. Just to remind, they covered Dr. Stein (Helloween) back in See You in Hell album, which was actually how I found them.

From track to track in Starwolf, I  found nothing but to enjoy their surprisingly simple melodic song. Starwolf Part 1 make it easy to enjoy power metal because it was so obvious with its verses and choruses. The album started with Raiders Of Galaxy, which is typical fast guitar licks lead into four bars of screaming and then a captivating story telling verses. Enjoy the quality of their vocalist who sing with old school wet husky voices. Almost all of their openers songs delivered in solid metal, especially Salvation which featuring Ralf Scheepers and Port Royal featuring Preacher. The Spectre and Pirates Of Space is what I found in Messenger, simple melody and easy to follows. Same thing to Thousand Suns Of Eternity, basic structure with calm vocal solo in verses and full band to follow up in choruses. Earth, Water And Power gives the power of basic chuggy riffs you can have in power metal.

In short, I am satisfied with the power metal contents in this album. They are solid and achieving its goal to gives that bloody headbanging moments in all songs. Starwolf Pt. 1 may not in favor for those whose originality is their first parameter, because this album may sounds like a combination of many familiar riffs and choruses. The other things to comment is, despite the concept deal with outer space theme, the music offered sounds more suit into middle-earth setting, with all the epic choruses in between. If you looking for a fun all around power album, try this one.

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

Messenger Starwolf - Pt. 1: The Messengers - 2013
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Raiders Of Galaxy
2. The Spectre
3. Salvation [Feat. Ralf Scheepers]
4. Pirates Of Space
5. Port Royal [Feat. Preacher]
6. Chosen One
7. Earth, Water And Power
8. Reign Of The Righteous
9. Thousand Suns Of Eternity
10. Star Wolf
11. Blackbone Song \[Feat. Jutta Weinhold Zed Yago Cover]
12. The Path Of Science
13. Born To Face The Wind

Siegfried Schüssler - Vocals
Patrik Deckarm - Rhythm Guitar
Frank Kettenhofen - Lead Guitar
Benny Strauß - Bass
Markus Merl - Drums
Record Label: Massacre Records

Messenger StarWolf Pt 1 album review


Michael Angelo Batio - Intermezzo 2013

When it comes to guitar shred, Michael Angelo Batio is the flagship of the genre. Michael, age 57, is the real hands without shadow of electric guitar when we defined speed. His power in using giga-fast guitar picking, often-ly by both hands, is the main thing comes to mind. He had a numbers of studio albums, but mostly Michael Angelo is more renown as respectable guitar clinician. Touring around the world, MAB preach guitar lessons to created a global shred-mania-fever. His choices of destination included invited to many exotic places, such as Indonesia or Nepal. So when the new album introduced earlier in 2013 as Intermezzo, it's kind of automatically reserved in waiting list.

The album of MAB is good enough, but what about if Michael Angelo Batio invited more than 25 guitarists and bassists to join his shred celebration. The list of old school-er such as George Lynch, Chris Poland, Joe Stump, Guthrie Govan then the later forces of Michael Romeo, Jeff Loomis and Rusty Cooley in one album is simply utopian album for guitar lover. They all performed in the later half of the album, started from 8 Pillars of Steel, proceed to Overload. These are songs that designed to being 'shred' all over the jam track. Do not ever skeptical about the result, because with so many styles put together it is an encyclopedia of licks and techniques. I mostly impressive with songs like 5 Four Ever, which included so twisted guitar solos by shredders whose styles are quite different which is Alex Stornello (a rock-jazz-fusion master) and G. Govan. If you rather enjoy MAB's "solos", with nice composition. Starts from Intermezzo, MAB gives us a strong thematic melody and shred the all the variations along away to give a damn kick ass of opening track. Kaleidoscope Images is heavier with lots of progressive accents, drumming are hardly an easy job as well. I Pray the Lord, as the titled suggested, is gospelic inspiring melodic stuffs with MAB set in mellow mood. One more other track similar in this flow is The Possession - A Tone Poem which is also led by sentimental melody theme to glue us together in the web of speedy licks.

Intermezzo is a champion. It's a bag full of jumping left and right on the guitar necks.  Additional of many guest there is a force to get you make this album as a must have.

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

Michael Angelo Batio - Intermezzo 2013
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Intermezzo
2. Kaleidoscope Images
3. Oceans of Time
4. I Pray the Lord
5. 8 Pillars of Steel 
(feat. Elliott Dean Rubinson on Bass
guest solos in order by – Dave Reffett, Jeff Loomis, MAB, Rusty Cooley, George Lynch, Andrea Martongelli and Craig Goldy)
6. The Possession – A Tone Poem
7. 5 Four Ever (featuring Alex Stornello (2:34 - 3:07), Guthrie Govan (3:22 - 4:08)
8. Juggernaut
(feat. solos in order by MAB, Chris Poland, Dave Reffett, Annie Grunwald, Guthrie Govan, Mike Lepond and Michael Romeo
9. Overload Intro (featuring Florent Atem)
10. Overload
(feat. solos in order by Tobias Hurwitz, Ken and Darren Burridge, Bill Peck, Peter Ema, Joe Rose, Joe Stump, Florent Atem, Maxxxwell Carlisle and MAB)

Elliott Dean Rubinson - Bass
Mike Lepond - Bass

Michael Angelo Batio intermezzo album review


Silent Force Rising From Ashes 2013

The band behind this album with excellent graphic cover is Silent Force. They are assembly cast from Germany metal crowd. The frontman is now Michael Bormann, whom supported by co partner and founder guitarist Alex Beyrodt. For information, the previous singer in service was D.C. Cooper. Silent Force assembled somewhere in 2000 era, got about four albums in the past, with Rising From Ashes is just their fifth. The style is Germany melodic power metal, Michael the vocalist got that classic Scorpions plus Axel Rudi Pell voice timbre. With Alesandro Del Vecchio who is also strong in AOR music, overall the album is more AOR feel compared to what the band describe as, power metal.

Caught In Their Wicked Game open the album with a show of guitar blasting riffs. With vocal alike of Johnny Gioeli , I keep thinking this is Axel Rudi Pell in their harder sound. There Ain't No Justice is still with same sentimentil, the chorus with layered backing vocals remind us to Queensryche influenced. Circle Of Trust is strong AOR tempo and dictating drum pattern. Most of the song are collaboration of Alex Beyrodt and Alessandro Del Vecchio in creating interesting passage that memorable immediately. Especially on Before You Run and Turn Me Loose where the keyboard rule is dominant.

I am not sure why Silent Force got power metal category in most of review, but this album is pretty much melodic metal, or AOR metal, if such thing exist. Beside the two melodic controller, the bassist and the drummer create significant backing rhythm for each song, which I enjoy very much. If you like Pink Cream 69, Axel Rudi, Hardline, this album will be serves you enough excitement. At least the artwork album cover is a winning one.

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

Silent Force - Rising From Ashes (2013)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Caught In Their Wicked Game
2. There Ain't No Justice
3. Circle Of Trust
4. Living To Die
5. Before You Run
6. You Gotta Kick It
7. Turn Me Loose
8. Born To Be A Fighter
9. Anytime Anywhere
10. Kiss Of Death

Alex Beyrodt – Lead Guitar (Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle, Sinner, etc.)
Michael Bormann - Vocals (PowerWorld, Redrum etc)
Mat Sinner - Bass (Kiske / Somerville, Primal Fear, Sinner, Voodoo Circle)
Alessandro Del Vecchio - Keyboards
(Edge of Forever, Gianluca Ferro, Brunorock, Hardline, Moonstone Project, ex-Eden's Curse)
André Hilgers - Drums
(Lingua Mortis Orchestra, Rage, Sinner, ex-Ninja, ex-Nuclear Blast Allstars, ex-Axxis)

Record Label: AFM Records

Silent Force Rising From Ashes album review


Adrian Galysh - Tone Poet 2013

Adrian Galysh is instrumentalist from L.A, which guitar is his major mastery. I have been listen to him on Venusian Sunrise album, which is an all guitar instrumental album. It was a memorable one, well rounded with interesting composition, grooves and melodies. Tone Poet is his latest album. After almost years of online campaign, this album is well waited by Adrian's fans. It featured world class musicians, such as Mark Boals, Todd Sucherman (STYX), Philip Bynoe of Steve Vai fame and also drum expert Charlie Waymire. This also mean the album is not fully instrumental album, first half of the album is hard rock featuring Mark Boals on vocals.

If you read the review on Tone Poet online, you'll find almost all reviewer unisonical put this album on positive high mark, which easily to see the reason. Tone Poet is exactly what the album title suggested, it is a poems collection in a form of musics. The album did not gone into the mainstream guitar orientated hard rock album, with catchy riffs. In the opening, Resurrectis, we welcomed by neo-classical stuffs, but it is more 'complicated' than usual, with elements of exotic scales ala Marty Friedman, then full scale choruses as the accompaniment to Adrian's solos. It's rather theatrical, and something contrast to the next track, Brick By Brick, which is minor feel 'neo-classical-rock' in theme. Mark Boals voices is nevertheless remind us to remark his memorable voices in Yngwie Malmsteen era. In the track-by-track description, Adrian  recalled to have this song influenced by Reb Beach, hmmm.. interesting. Compositional wise this song quickly glued me on top concentration as the song is very interesting to follow, especially the middle break influenced in neo classical stuffs is somehow un-expected. When You Fall is a ballad, which Adrian usage of open tuning guitar resulted. The song has a strong musical effect to its lyric, the storm, the raindrop, you get the idea. Flying is growing more and more into the groove. The acoustic guitar riffs is catchy and we got to hear Mark Boals in different styles, hard rock. Well composed singing and music on this one. On Movie in My Mind the song is always on something un-resolved chord, which is surprisingly able to be converted into a song. Interesting one yet again. Luminae starts the second part of the album which is all instrumental from this point. Unlike what I recall in Venusian Sunrise, the rest of composition was highly in neo classical background. We got layer of choruses, timpani-like percussion, It is a prelude to the next 'movement', La Dolce Vita, which is technically starts to get difficult as described by Adrian in his track-by-track explanation, check the middle flamenco-style acoustic guitar solos. Tone Poet is kind of the climax, which is my favorite track. It is all acoustic, if you like Al Di Meola, Jesse Cook, set in thick Yanni neo classical orchestration, Tone Poet and the rest of the song is your stuff.

Tone Poet is a work of guitar artistic that rare found elsewhere. The styles combined is something un expected, hard rock, neo classical, latin, and new age. The album benefited from its collaborated musicians such as drummer Charlie in vocals tracks and Todd in the instrumental tracks, laying down correct back-up to Adrian odd compositions. As well bassist Phillip Bynoe on his contributed tracks. This is not your usual guitar shred album, it is not highlighting ultra fast shred, but one level higher, its composition is the superior stuffs. If Adrian can consistent in this specific style, he will gain more spaces in the crowd of guitar virtuoso, not just jump into the ocean of 'normal' shredder. Highly recommended.

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

Adrian Galysh - Tone Poet 2013
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Resurrectis  (2:28)
2. Brick By Brick  (5:42)
3. When You Fall  (5:17)
4. Flying  (5:17)
5. Movie in My Mind  (4:25)
6. Luminae  (3:42)
7. La Dolce Vita  (4:47)
8. Tone Poet  (3:44)
9. Epoch  (3:05)
10. Echoes of El Greco  (3:53)
11. Ur of the Chaldees  (6:12)
12. Spring (The Return)  (5:22)

Adrian Galysh: Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, and Programming
Charlie Waymire: Drums on tracks 2, 3, 4, 5
Philip Bynoe: Bass on tracks 4, 5, 8
Todd Sucherman: Drums on tracks 7, 8, 10, 11, 12
Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Royal Hunt, Uli Jon Roth)


Jacky Vincent – Star X Speed Story (2013)

Guitarist from Falling in Reverse band, Jacky Vincent is shredding his all instrumental album called Star X Speed Story.  The album also featuring guest shredders such as Michael Angelo Batio, Paul Gilbert and Dario Lorina. You will find this album full of speedy tricks and licks, which is Jacky's strongest styles. This coupled with techno-metal music making this album something unusual to regular metal guitar album. One  particular issue is, so there is not much catchy riffs.

Tracks such as Maybe I Am A Wolf, Venom Love, and Sidescroller is heavily techno-beat in the body. While Star X Speed and Heaven Or Hell, both featuring guests, are more traditional riff-it and shred-it approach. There are also large portion of neo-classical , peak on Neo Concerto (which featured as OST for some Japanese anime), and The Tempest. Two slower tracks on Without You and If You Were Mine, made up all 13 tracks of the album.

Enjoyable offering that quite consistent in styles but able to varied the styles so that it's not too monotonous. In this album, Jacky Vincent showcase that he is also speedy guys while at the same times paid enough attention to the composition. The references for this album are: Michael Angelo's high speed neo-classical stuffs, techno-beats and melodic playing. Three elements that adequate worth listening to.

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

Jacky Vincent – Star X Speed Story (2013)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Maybe I Am A Wolf 02:49
02. Venom Love 03:25
03. Star X Speed (Feat. Michael Angelo Batio) 04:19
04. Without You 04:05
05. Heaven Or Hell (Feat. Paul Gilbert) 05:02
06. Neo Concerto 03:44
07. If You Were Mine 04:59
08. Runaway Tryst 03:47
09. The Tempest 01:23
10. Fatal Envy 03:47
11. Burning Tears (Feat. Dario Lorina) 03:59
12. Sidescroller 06:02
13. I Can Never Go Home (Reprise) 06:32

Ryan Seaman - drum
Ron Ficarro - bass
Jacky Vincent - guitars
all member of Falling in Reverse


Bane Of Winterstorm – The Last Sons Of Perylin (2013)

Now this is a band that coming from far under the equator line. As we know, Europe is not the only land with  folklore and war-tales. Bane Of Winterstorm looks like coming from nowhere, but they formed by member of established bands in Australia. They blasting their way through the attention of power metal fans via online marketing with its quite a success. This is their debut album and already being talk of the mouths for months before its final releases. The Last Sons Of Perylin, is their epic Opera metal title. The quintet from Melbourne sure confident enough to pulled off another concept opera, in its glorious theme similar to the Lord of the Ring, with music resembling Avantasia, Blind Guardian, Amon Amarth and Rhapsody of Fire. That's enough ingredients to mixed a new promising opera metal album, and they did.

The Last Sons of Perylin only make up five tracks but in total runs about 50 minutes. The structure of each songs was in opera metal format. Meaning it is dialog in writing with character alike Morthion, Aranon, Haldir, Lothriel, Othorion singing along the accompanying metal song, similar to Avantasia concept. The style is symphonic metal in the style of Rhapsody of Fire, there also heavy harsh vocals around ala Amon Amarth. The Blind Guardian element made up their epic storyline that heavily referred to Tolkien's world. And one may say Wintersun style of lengthy song. Except for the shortest song in The Warlord's Last Ride which sing only by Aranon. The album peak in the last track The Last Sons of Perylin, which very enjoyable in its libretto, meaning this whole package must be listen with its lyric to get the full enjoyment.

This is ambitious project that come quite perfect. The overall album feel is more symphonic than 'power', so the orchestration is doing the lead and less catchy guitar riffs as in traditional power metal. It's a promising start, a sequel is expected (what else the band need to do..?) and I'll willing to continued in their storyline. The album cover itself is a champion, very strong artwork that will bring in power metal as well black metal fans into attention. Bravossimo for this one.

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

Bane Of Winterstorm – The Last Sons Of Perylin (2013)
Buy it Here- Amazon for $ 4.99 only!!

1. The Black Wind of Morthion  10:30
2. The Magic of Mithren’s Ring  9:23
3. The Ancient Ritual of Räkth 8:03
4. The Warlord’s Last Ride  5:04
5. The Last Sons of Perylin  16:08

Bass - Tristan Peterön (Chained Lizard, Son of Aeslepius)
Guitars - Anthony J. Finch (Ark of Silence, Envenomed)
Drums - Alberto diBiase (ex Eidolon, ex-Accursed)
Guitars - Chris Themelco (Orpheus Omega)
Vocals - Riccardo Mecchi (Anarion)
Guest Singerg - Jennifer Borg (Divine Ascension)

The band is joined by some of the most powerful singers in the world including vocalists of Dragonland, Anarion, LORD, Damnation’s Day, Divine Ascension, Desecrator, Orpheus Omega and Vanishing Point to accurately portray the lore of ‘The War of Shadows’

Bane of Winterstorm album review


Týr - Valkyrja (2013)

They are coming from Faroe Island and have every reason to sing the Viking metal songs. Týr is going to stir the wind of power metal in their seventh studio album called Valkyrja. All their previous albums were highly talked about the Nordic mythology so does this one, and it seems we must once again listen to its tales on this highly recommended folk metal album.

The quartet opened with a song titled Blood of Heroes (not to be confused with Megadeth's...). Epic riffs that match the title of the song. We then introduced to Tyr version of folk metal. Singing are a bit slow and low to baritone territory making the Gothic feeling in the mist. There's element of Power Metal, Sabaton and Paradise Lost to mixed in. The Lay of Our Love is featuring Liv Kristine of Leaves' Eyes, beautiful ballad duet. The next nice catchy is Nation. The combination between metal and Viking style choruses are well connected here. Fast song are in Another Fallen Brother and Lady of the Slain. For thick folk metal tracks are in Fnar Burtur Brandalj and Valkyrja, the native language title making it compulsory to use folk instruments. One last interesting point is in Grindavsan where the use of power Viking style choir will make something memorable for the whole album.

Valkyrja is specific in style. The band is success in placing the different folk + power metal sounds that less found in other similar band, such as Ensiferum or Sabaton. They did not overly use folk instrumental to catch the attention. It is the vocals and song writing that defined their music. The backing music itself also did not over extended into virtuosity but served properly to what the music needed for. Two covers in the end are very well performed. Iron Maiden's Where Eagles Dare are rarely covered, and very welcomed one from Iron Maiden fans. Cemetery Gates from Pantera is rather fun because the band must swim into the style that not their own. I think the addition of these two covers is valuable bonus to rise this album into highly recommended status.

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

Týr - Valkyrja (2013)
Buy It Here - Amazon

01. Blood of Heroes (3:42)
02. Mare of My Night (3:55)
03. Hel Hath No Fury (3:27)
04. The Lay of Our Love (3:48)
05. Nation (4:05)
06. Another Fallen Brother (4:05)
07. Grindavsan (4:11)
08. Into the Sky (2:56)
09. Fnar Burtur Brandalj (3:38)
10. Lady of the Slain (4:33)
11. Valkyrja (7:31)
12. Where Eagles Dare (Iron Maiden cover) (6:26)
13. Cemetery Gates (Pantera cover) (7:25)

Heri Joensen – Vocals / Guitar
Terji Skibenæs – Guitar
Gunnar Thomsen – Bass
George Kollias – Drums

Tyr - Valkyrja album review


Nightwish - Showtime, Storytime (2013)

Here it is! The new Nightwish album with Floor Jansen. The dramatic turn of events between Nightwish and their singer saw them departed with singer Anette Olzon and replaced by Floor Jansen. This prove to be on the right track by now, because Floor Jansen kind of renew the world interesting once again to Nightwish. Their decision to release live album with Jansen, instead of new studio album, is sending few messages from the band. First its kind of testing the water before launching new music with her. Secondly, their need to keep the momentum high with this emotionally fans who just wanted to hear a new singer, and perhaps don't have enough time to compiled new works. Either way, their new Live DVD and CD, Showtime, Storytime is the best option for now, and the fans are happy.

This was recorded from Wacken Live 2013 on August, trivially, this mean Floor Jansen was still a 'hired' gun status in the band because she was only made 'official' in October 2013. The first number runs smoothly, it is Dark Chest of Wonders from Once album. Originally sung by Tarja, it's performed quite original. But the later songs are mostly re-new with Floor Jansen interpretation, as we can immediately feel in Wish I Had an Angel. Anette Olzon's number mostly from her Imaginaerum album. None from Dark Passion Play, (except the instrumental Last of the Wilds) is sending message to what I also believe. That Floor Jansen is very strong in Tarja's stuffs but when comes to Anette's the song, it will changed a bit. Tarja singing is heavily operatic,  F.J turn down the operatic element while increasing the metal 'sound'. For most of Anette's songs, they are specific written in Anette's style, more lending into clean Gothic Metal style.  In Ghost River and Storytime, we lost a bit of Anette's "wild" clean voice, replaced with heavier metal voice. So, it's comeback to your taste to decide which is likable for you.

The set was one hour and half time, the cinematographic is enjoyable. This is on pair with their End of Era live CD. Last comments, Floor Jansen is established singer with his ReVamp band and for many others. She has significant followers to merge with Nightwish fans. So the fans support is good and they got paid by the band in this enjoyable live release. Showtime, Storytime is not only prove the band manage to get the best singer fit to them, but also a promising start that lead to positive speculation on their next studio album.

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

Nightwish - Showtime, Storytime (2013)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Dark Chest of Wonders
02. Wish I Had an Angel
03. She is my Sin
04. Ghost River
05. Ever Dream
06. Storytime
07. I Want My Tears Back
08. Nemo
09. Last Of The Wilds
10. Bless the Child
11. Romanticide
12. Amaranth
13. Ghost Love Score
14. Song Of Myself
15. Last Ride of the Day
16. Imaginaerum

Floor Jansen - Vocals
Tuomas Holopainen - Keyboards
Marco Hietala - Bass & Vocals
Jukka Nevalainen - Drums
Emppu Vuorinen - Guitars
Troy Donockley - Pipes, flutes & whistles

Nightwish Showtime, Storytime


PelleK - Christmas With PelleK (2013)

It is in my believe that every Christmas carol is screaming waiting to get them self metal-ized. That's what a lot of metal musician doing. Song such as Joy To the World or The First Noel can be done with distortion guitar and double kick drum, and still sounds natural. No it isn't? Well forget about that, here comes the first interesting Christmas tribute album for 2013, by vocalist Pellek. Now, Per Fredrik Pellek Asly is unique singer. He sings in Damnation Angels, power metal band from UK. His voices is unorthodox from what we usually imagine from a power metal singer. He got lots of rebellion inside that he seems like to mix a lot of style into metal. And he got a Youtube channel that shown a lot of cover song. This Christmas album is his solo takes. The main style is heavy metal but it's also comes with large portion of interesting popular style with orchestration and jazzy arrangement. In all songs Pellek's humorous vocal keep the album in easy-listening mood.

Twelve Days of Christmas is interesting choices to open a Christmas album. It's real bring in the holiday season mood. It's a popular carol now made into catchy march-type metal arrangement. Enjoyable. O Christmas Tree is bit of jazzy in the intro, a natural choice that the song very likely prefer to in that way. Then we switch to orchestration and the metal part kicks in. Very good arrangement. Deck the Halls is another song that can be re-arranged into millions of style. PelleK gives a good version on it here. It is a simply fast metal arrangement. Beautiful Savior is the song that Pellek gives the more serious devotional feel into it. Jingle Bells is enjoyable version in a 'popular' groove for the first verses then gone metal in the next. Then if you are a vocalist, O Holy Night is compulsory number. Faithful to its original tempo but still received it's metal drumming complete with chorus backing. Come All Ye Faithfull is even original from the beginning. A works of vocals in the intro is more likely fit in church setting but then yet again it's show how galloping drumming is always fit Christmas carols. Silent Night is the last song and get ready to your Christmas folks!

Metal Harem class: Special Holiday Album

PelleK - Christmas With PelleK (2013)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Twelve Days of Christmas
02. O Christmas Tree
03. Deck the Halls
04. Beautiful Savior
05. Jingle Bells
06. O Holy Night
07. Come All Ye Faithfull
08. Silent Night

Per Fredrik Pellek Åsly (Lead Vocals - Damnation Angels)
Patrick Fallang (Guitars)
Stian Warlow Braathen (Drums)
Ingemar Bru (Bass)

PelleK Christmas with, album review


Crystal Ball - Dawnbreaker (2013)

About a decade ago I was listening to this unknown band Crystal Ball in their album Hellvetia. They remained good in memory because it was kind of simple power metal and friendly to ear. Not much attention to them and now they are back with new album Dawnbreaker. Encyclopaedia Metallum listed at least two more albums in between Hellvetia and this one, so I missed that two. They are also changes of formation with now only guitarist Scott Leach and drummer Marcel Sardella from that album. Meaning they had survive hardship and probably the music reflected something on this. Yes they are.

Dawnbreaker is leaning toward heavy metal in general by now and lesser their power metal accent. Zarathustra is one and half minute meditation time before we got the first riff incoming. Break Of Dawn starts as thick heavy metal singing ala Van Halen but the choruses at least show the traces of European power metal. It's definitely their new sound, we can now called them easily Melodic metal with all the sweet verses and chorus as in The Brothers Were Right. We got nice ballad in Eternal Flame. Skin To Skin is back to '80s mid tempo glam metal feel. As the rest are simply catching ear riffs with nice song, Walls Fall Down is familiar to everyone, Power Pack is hard rock in spirit.

This accessible hard rock / melodic metal album to everyone. A big jump from the Hellvetia album I mentioned in the first paragraph. Their chances is like Europe who gone from galloping Final Countdown to hard rock. Coming from Lucerne, Switzerland , the band geographically close enough to get in touch with another influential band such as U.D.O which helped them in tour and recording. Also they touring with Pink Cream 69, Dokken and Doro, so you got the pictures. Dawnbreaker is clean in production, Crystal Ball deserved in your collection if you haven't got any of them.

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

Crystal Ball - Dawnbreaker (2013)
Buy It Here - Amazon

01. Zarathustra 1:29
02. Break Of Dawn 3:10
03. Anyone Can Be A Hero 3:51
04. The Brothers Were Right 3:38
05. Eternal Flame 3:47
06. Skin To Skin 4:45
07. Walls Fall Down 4:10
08. Back For Good 4:11
09. Power Pack 4:07
10. Stranded 5:37
11. Sun Came Out 4:34

Scott Leach - guitar
Marcel Sardella - drums
Cris Stone - bass
Steven Mageney - vocals
Markus Flury - guitars


Royal Hunt - A Life To Die For (2013)

Royal Hunt has a long history being in progressive world since 1992 with their debut Land of Broken Heart.  They were started as a band that combined power metal with progressive elements. Coming from Denmark, they exactly just like the combination of Europe and Stratovarius. By the time goes, Royal Hunt begin to distance them self with mainstream and become much progressive, withdrawing cheesy power metal elements. Then the band going to lots of formation exchange. Vocalist Mark Boals was once on the band, but then original D.C. Cooper return to the band and make up today's line up of Royal Hunt. Eventually, the band did not get better known in the scene of progressive metal, where the like of Symphony X become 'references' in this progressive-power metal genre.

A Life To Die For is their 2013 album, the 12th. It's the second album with returned D.C.Cooper. Their previous one Show Me How to Live, is a great one. Many reviewers seen this album lend toward orchestration and I agree with it. Most of the song start with orchestration rather than distortion guitar. Hell Comes Down From Heaven is the first track and it comes with two minutes of orchestration intro. This is a mid tempo galloping progressive metal tunes. It's cinematic in style, fit as the first track as it's successful in bringing listeners to the sea of musical journey in the next couple of minutes. A Bullet's Tale gradually raised the tension, we were met with a female lead in the intro. The verses is very storytelling in style, more complexity coming. As in Running Out Of Tears, this is bring back to their earlier style, remember the song Running Wild? They share very similar drumming feel I think. Kind of AOR in spirit with memorable "Running Out of Tears..." choruses. One Minute Left To Live again let the orchestration take over the overall leading riffs, most grander work of orchestration here. The album never getaway from sad feeling as Sign of Yesterday only further it deeper. Won't Trust, Won't Fear, Won't Beg is like the arrival of climax in the story line, more tambourine, more string attack. The last piece A Life To Die For is the only track where distortion take intro, it's the last number out of seven song. In the final phase of the song there is a passage of operatic singing, which is climax-ing. It's good to see a band confident enough to put all prime song in their album despite the running time was only over 45 minutes. No filler on this album.

A Life To Die For is heavily orchestrated progressive metal album. Almost absence of guitar leading riffs, so expected no catchy moment in the intro. There were also not much fast tempo song. This is serious work of progressive. I rated that all song are well written. It's a shame that album such as this quality can't get enough into the mainstream. Jonas Larsen solos are mostly melodious, he got lots of time to focus on the continuation after the orchestration starts the things. Andre Andersen is to be the person responsible to all epic composition on this. While D.C. Cooper added the human voices elements with great execution. The album will stand a long hours of rewind.

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

Royal Hunt - A Life To Die For (2013)
Buy It Here - AMAZON

01. Hell Comes Down From Heaven
02. A Bullet's Tale
03. Running Out Of Tears
04. One Minute Left To Live
05. Sign Of Yesterday
06. Won't Trust, Won't Fear, Won't Beg
07. A Life To Die For

Allan Sorensen Drums
André Andersen Keyboards, Guitars, Bass
D.C. Cooper Vocals
Andreas Passmark Bass
Jonas Larsen Guitars

Royal Hunt A Life To Die For album review

Dream Theater - Live at Luna Park (2013)

Live recordings are commonly found in Dream Theater releases. The band has built up a decent live action DVD showing how fluency they outperformed their own music. There is also rich library of unofficial video releases, or third party releases in Youtube. John Petrucci and the gang keep the tradition good, by releasing one more Live disc called Live at Luna Park.  It is just two months after their latest album, the _self-titled_ Dream Theater. However, to make it clear, Live at Luna Park did not play materials on that latest, but just up to the album Dramatic Turn of Events. For us, the fans, we all going to say it right away. The main interest of this album is in Mike Mangini's performances. We just want to see how he's doing. Taking that we already got countless version of Metropolis Pt.I or Pull Me Under, or given the nature of Dream Theater music that is hardly needed any more improvisation, we hope Mike Mangini will bring out some new ideas. He did.

First, all songs in Dramatic Turn of Events was performed. Bridges in the Sky is re order as the first opener. Mainly due to the didgeridoo sound effect in the beginning. The DVD also starts with short animation of single-wheel scene. It's a pity that this scene looks not up to Dream Theater quality, they should at least hired a "Square-Enix" or "Pixar" class animation studio to lift up the standard. So that this is the start, we can now enjoy a visual aids to what's the guys doing to produced this kind of complicated music alive. The second song is curious one, 6:00 from their Awake era. Dream Theater only done this live recording on their lesser known DVD, 5 Years in LIVE time. The drum and keyboard are played by different person from their original, so a good choice of song that has interesting value to put in the disc. I believe the drum intro has altered to Mangini's new approach as well. It's also one of few song where we can actually heard what John Myung doing.

The most ancient song of them was A Fortune in Lies, from their debut album. Then the past catalog includes several hits from their most popular album Images and Words which tracks are Metropolis Pt I, Surrounded and Pull Me Under. Back to materials from Dramatic Turn... Beneath the Surface is played with string quartet. This song act as closing to the first disc.

We also got three solos, drum, keyboards and guitars. It's provoking DT fans to send a referendum asking them to ever give John Myung a bass solos, which I believe he is the most mysterious guy in the band. The drum solos is overwhelming. The previous drummer is not a shadow anymore.

Cinematography, this CD is a bit more minimalist. Lesser inclusion of animations or stage effects as in DT previous Live DVD. The show was recorded in two nights show in Buenos Aires. They put all the show in the package, a three disc where the called it 'bonus' disc for the last one.

As in ever known, the performances was perfect. Even with ever increasing in difficulties, and a change of drummer, Dream Theater keep their reputation as god-level progressive metal on stage. So, not much can be said here, Live at Luna Park surely an interesting DT live recording. It's Mike Mangini present that added more interesting value but in general you always want to see how Dream Theater can magically put all the composition in live performances.

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

Dream Theater - Live at Luna Park (2013)

Disc 1

01. Bridges in the Sky
02. 6:00
03. The Dark Eternal Night
04. This Is the Life
05. The Root of All Evil
06. Lost Not Forgotten
07. Drum Solo
08. A Fortune in Lies
09. The Silent Man
10. Beneath the Surface

Disc 2

01. Outcry
02. Piano Solo
03. Surrounded
04. On the Backs of Angels
05. War Inside My Head
06. The Test That Stumped Them All
07. Guitar Solo
08. The Spirit Carries On
09. Breaking All Illusions
10. Metropolis Pt. 1

Disc 3

01. These Walls
02. Build Me Up, Break Me Down
03. Caught in a Web
04. Wait for Sleep
05. Far From Heaven
06. Pull Me Under

Kevin James LaBrie - vocals
Jordan Charles Rudess - keyboards
John Peter Petrucci - guitars, backing vocals
Michael "Mike" Mangini - drums
John Ro Myung - bass


Almah – Unfold (2013)

For something that was only a side project, Almah has now get the priority to be Edu Falaschi 'regular' band, quitting his Angra job. In Almah, Edu deals with more heavy metal and progressive materials, instead of power metal in Angra. Unfold is their fourth release. All their past albums being praised as good material by fans, and I can see this album coming into that way as well.

The album starts with In My Sleep, it bring us to the seat of progressive metal ala Dream Theater and actually we can almost imagine James LaBrie singing on it. But hell no, this is Edu Falaschi bringing his heavier voices something not commonly can be heard in his Angra-era. The songs mostly kicks in this style. Technically awesome performance of guitarist and fast drumming is what happens in all track. In the second offering, Beware the Stroke is deeper in composition, starting calm then blast out, force us to carefully concentrating in the song. Another interesting track is Warm Wind, duet of acoustic guitar and bass line in the few second of intro, then we got Edu in his ballad-mode, remind us back to Angra time. Raise the Sun is slightly a power metal in spirit. Cannibals in Suits is also interesting point, mimicking industrial-groove in the intro, this song looks like a step further for reaching out different style by Edu. Wings of Revolution is trying that majestic-victory theme power metal cuts. Finally Treasure Of the Gods is bring back seriousness with its nine minutes composition, after several 'filler' in between such as a hard rock jamming track You Gotta Stand.

It seems like Almah put in everything they got into this album. Shadow of Dream Theater combined with traces of late-Angra is what this album summed up. Credits to all their member for putting highly technical stuffs through out the one hour session. The question is now, where Almah jumping to, because this is much still sounds like a side-project with all styles squeezing in. Almah need to find a focus to concept their music better, randomly this album is hell of showcase, but in bigger picture the fans can't really find one focus to remember them in long term. Fans of Angra and Edu Falaschi should welcome this album well, I still think Angra is one of 'technical' power metal around, (and from Brazil!), so the intensity of instrumentation in Almah should not distance them away.

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

Almah – Unfold (2013)
Buy it HERE - Amazon

1. In My Sleep (4:17)
2. Beware the Stroke (5:32)
3. The Hostage (4:02)
4. Warm Wind (4:58)
5. Raise the Sun (5:06)
6. Cannibals in Suits (4:59)
7. Wings of Revolution (4:47)
8. Believer (5:39)
9. I Do (5:06)
10. You Gotta Stand (5:04)
11. Treasure Of The Gods (9:47)
12. Farewell (3:40)

Edu Falaschi Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Marcelo Barbosa Guitars
Marcelo Moreira Drums
Raphael Dafras Bass
Gustavo Di Pádua Guitars

Almah Unfold album review


Bruce Bouillet – The Order of Control (2013)

Do you know that Paul Gilbert was not the only guitarist in Racer X? Well, his ex-partner was Bruce Bouillet. He recorded Racer X's Second Heat album, in which Scarified was there. That's make thing clearer about Bruce Bouillet capacity. Although lesser exposed, Bruce Bouillet is guitarist with same specification as Paul Gilbert. Virtuoso shredder on his own. On his belt is three solo albums (including The Order of Control), a works for Paul Gilbert and other band-based recordings. Just like what we heard in Paul Gilbert. Bruce's works also highlighted the potential of what you can get if you mastered the alternate picking technique in its finest. One different is that, unlike Paul Gilbert who put in many musical-jokes shreds, Bruce's got more serious, darker and heavier in tone.

All compositions come to remind us to the Shrapnel years school of shred. Blind as We Watched is melodic in writing, as well Seeing Through, Defiant and the climax of melodically playing in Akiko. While Deafening is dark harmonic minor, that oriental scale, works. It's a bit too long to be put on the second track. For slightly different style of feel, it is on Giving Up The Ghost, which is a hard rock in first place with lots of sliding notes. Bruce also put in some obscure techno experiment, as in Grand Reversal. On the Order Of Control, is ambitious composition that required some thinking, because the song built on bizzare chord progression that may sounds disOrder of Control for some part.

Being in the generation of '80s shred, Bruce Bouillet may a bit less productive in producing solo album, so grab this recording fast. The Order of Control is pure, not much offered anything else other than guitar shredding. The most contrast point is only in the final track Akiko. But if you like guitar in the vibes of Paul Gilbert, this is a valuable addition to your shelves.

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

Bruce Bouillet – The Order of Control (2013)
Buy it HERE - Amazon

01. Blind as We Watched
02. Deafening
03. Seeing Through
04. Giving Up The Ghost
05. Grand Reversal
06. Defiant
07. One Minute Warning
08. Order of Control
09. Crowd Control
10. Manipulators
11. Breaking the Barrier
12. Akiko

Dave Foreman (Bass)
Glen Sobel (Drums, ALICE COOPER)
Bruce Bouillet (Guitars)

Bruce Bouillet The Order of Control album review

Armory – Empyrean Realms (2013)

If you are fans of power metal, this album will probably give you a big wow exclamation. Armory, a power metal band that you probably haven't heard before, pulled off their second studio album Empyrean Realms. I have listen to them indeed, Armory catch the attention of me in their first album, The Dawn of Enlightenment, which include a song that serves as a gate to their other original work, Flight of Icarus cover of Iron Maiden. Just as many power metal bands from USA, they tends to be more 'straight forward' without elements of orchestration over powered the power metal.

Eternal Mind is the immediately 'wow'. Ultra fast tempo with thick minor feel exactly pushed us back to the power metal of the '80s. On Dreamstate, the intro riffs may sounds very 'generic' but it is compensated with catchy improvisation throughout the song. Beyond the Horizon is just like the lyrics, the apocalyptic theme suit the song. Unfortunately for this song, I feel they should put in to more later of the album, it sounds kind of 'ending' feel. Fly to the sky closing theme. Which is to be replied by heavy progressive groove of Reflection Divine. Something like we used to hear from Symphony X. Horologium is epic instrumental done by trio guitarist - keyboardist. Still going fast with stormy drums and licks in Elements of Creation. Inner Sanctum is again back to the riffs that we familiar with, same as any other song, extended improvisation connected the first notes to the last in a catchy composition. Fate Seeker having bit of pentatonic licks incorporated before we landed into the minor scale yet again. Thus finally we close the album with Quest for The Fleece, a relief to hear at least non-bombastic intro replaced by calm keyboard introduction. It's a story telling song about fantasy land far away.

Intense and loud. Empyrean Realms is a semi concept album with outer space and fantasy theme. The result is making this album lend into Lydian-scale feel with lot of I-want-to-fly moment. If you read the band line-up correctly, you'll notice Joe Kurland is doing both guitars and drumming. I guess he did excel well in both area. Drumming is real deal, making us to guess who's big names behind the kit and the guitar playing also killer. Wow, the band really saves funds to have a multi function member like this. Noted also Adam Kurland the vocalist fit well and did make the song perfect with excellent voices. Production is excellent and sounds really professional. A good album that deserved to enter your collections.

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

Armory – Empyrean Realms (2013)
Buy it HERE - Amazon

01. Eternal Mind (5:25)
02. Dreamstate (5:21)
03. Beyond the Horizon (6:52)
04. Reflection Divine (5:29)
05. Horologium (4:00)
06. Elements of Creation (4:55)
07. Inner Sanctum (4:56)
08. Fate Seeker (6:21)
09. Quest for the Fleece (7:00)

Tom Preziosi Bass
Joe Kurland Guitars, Drums
Chad Fisher Guitars
Adam Kurland Vocals
Pete Rutcho Keyboards

Armory - Empyrean Realms album review

Wardrum – Messenger (2013)

Just a year after their 2nd album Desolation, which is a great power metal album, Wardrum released their third, Messenger in 2013. The span of only a year resulted in Messenger produced in many aspect, similar vibes and quality of their previous one. The quartet from Greece make this album almost the direct continuation to Desolation. If you just randomly shuffle the song from both albums, the different will not much audible. A good conclusion in all mean because the quality of Desolation is above expectation.

Their first song Shelter is a good opener. Classic 2 bar riff is a welcome headbanging invitation. The choruses written well and easily remember for. This followed by The Messenger in which the drumming is on the front spotlight with its power toms variation on the verses. Then it's the bass on the next turn for Lady Jane Grey, which is something remind me to Megadeth's in their Cryptic Writing / Risk era. Another melodic power metal cuts in the Phoenix, which is a good example of how power metal can be done without the use of galloping or double pedal drumming. This is in contrast to the next one, After Forever is double pedaling from the start. Wardrum also included neo-classical variation such in Red Ruby Heart. Another different stuffs is Broken, which as the title suggested, a mellow ballad acoustic song. Most of other songs in the rest album are enjoyable, most with recycled power metal riffs but the wrap up is good. The closing track is need to credit, Four Seasons is very thick minor/Latin/opera influence lament song, in power metal arrangement.

Almost perfect all around power metal album. Guitarist Kosta Vreto is very talented, putting a lot of creative solos, riffs and licks that make the album fresh and interesting. The singer is traditional high pitch style and render the song toward mellow-ish mood. Although almost a twin to their previous Desolation album, Messenger did catch up the quality if not exceeded it. Wonderful power metal released from the land of Greece.

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

Wardrum – Messenger (2013)

01. Shelter
02. The Messenger
03. Lady Jane Grey
04. Phoenix
05. After Forever
06. Looking Back
07. Travel Far Away
08. Oceans
09. Red Ruby Heart
10. Deceiver
11. Broken
12. Vengeance
13. Rebirth
14. Four Seasons

Yannis Papadopoulos - Vocals
Kosta Vreto - Guitar
Kostas Scandalis - Bass
Stergios Kourou - Drums

Wardrum - Messenger album review


Alestorm - Live at the End of the World (2013)

Luckily the world of Power Metal did not as boring as we thought. There are many sub variant and a fun one. Alestorm is one of the band that inspiring enough to bring new theme to the power metal, the pirate theme power metal. The guys from Scotland strangely did not choose the highlander theme, instead 'invading' the Scandinavian with this Viking, Pirate, and Captain Hook happy singing song. The released three studio album and when a live album announced I can already see the happy-drunken-pirates singing on the stage. Live at the End of the World is their first live album complete altogether with a DVD shoot.

Most of Alestorm 'hits' are there. I like Over the Seas from their first album, it's definitely the catchiest riffs they have for being the 'rookie' pirate of power metal. The combination of electric-accordion as the folk sounds come in handy to raise the feeling of being happily on the ship. Their music mostly fast and represent chaos pirate dancing drunken on the ship. Of the latest track from their third album Back Through Time, The Sunk'n Norwegian surely the best song to being sing in live audience. It's also followed by Leviathan which is highly epic galloping drumming power metal. Of course Pirate Song is a must sing track for their live set. Wenches & Mead are selected to be their DVD trailer and the song serves a good introduction to Alestorm. In the purely Pirate theme songs are such as Keelhauled, Nancy the Tavern Wench and Midget Saw who truly distinguished Alestorm from general Folk-Power metal genre. Captain Morgan's Revenge finally the climax of the show followed by encore in Rum (with Bruce Dickinson's signature phrase..."scream for me Melbourne..")

Surely Alestorm was a fun band to listen in live mode. Live at the End of the World showcase their ability to play in LIVE mode. The sounds are great, most of the songs are very fast one and the guys keeps them cool. Christoper Bowes vocals is indeed fit the pirate theme. We already heard Christopher Bowes in his side project Gloryhammer. If you like energetic power metal with a lot of drinking, f**cking women, and killing sea monster references, Alestorm Live at the End of the World is there to entertain you.

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

Alestorm - Live at the End of the World (2013)
Buy it Here at Amazon

1. The Quest
2. The Sunk'n Norwegian
3. Leviathan
4. Shipwrecked
5. Over the Seas
6. Midget Saw
7. Nancy the Tavern Wench
8. Pirate Song
9. Back Through Time
10. Wenches & Mead
11. Death Throes of the Terrorsquid
12. Keelhauled
13. Rumpelkombo
14. Set Sail and Conquer
15. Captain Morgan's Revenge
16. Rum

Dani Evans Guitars (lead)
Christopher Bowes Vocals, Keyboards
Gareth Murdock Bass
Peter Alcorn Drums
Elliot "Windrider" Vernon Keyboards

Alestorm LIVE at the END of the World album review


Rhapsody of Fire - Dark Wings of Steel (2013)

The fact is, two is better than one. These guys behind symphonic metal giant, Rhapsody of Fire, are too productive to being put in one cage. So, they decided to split into two bands. No joking, the two band are extremely similar, with copy paste logo and name. So there be it, Luca Turilli's version released their 'first' album earlier, Ascending to Infinity, which was extremely Rhapsody of Fire-ian and quite a successful one. While the 'original' version, Rhapsody of Fire under Alex Staropoli comes a bit late. In fact, RoF seems to be a little unstable, especially due to changes in the main instrumentalist, the guitarist. As we know Tom Hess was official hired gun (or warrior, to fit the theme) but then he was out, replaced by lesser known Roberto De Micheli. In the first impression, it is easy to see that Luca Turilli's version remained faithful to RoF, while this one seems trimmed out most of neo-classical influence and the orchestration, strangely, less ambitious than Luca's. However, Fabio Lione present still the main reason to called this band the original RoF.

Vis Divina itself already a slight changes, it bring in other dimension of 'overture' to RoF repertoire with even darker choir works. Rising from Tragic Flames is historically the first Rhapsody of Fire song without Luca Turilli. The opening riffs is true RoF-type, the choir just before the entrance of Fabio Lione and Fabio himself put us back to the rail of Rhapsody of Fire music. Typical bombastic symphonic metal we already listen for more than ten years. As noted before, the usage of neo-classical licks seems to reduced, Angel of Light perhaps will be not the easiest song to predict coming from RoF, so this is the new novelty from the band! It's a strong song with epic chorus in the middle, excellent jobs. Roberto De Micheli is given the opportunity to shine in Tears of Pain. Again, not a very typical RoF groove we must admit. This song seems to strengthen the new sound RoF trying to achieve. Fly to Crystal Skies is also catchy riffs from De Micheli, the feel seems similar to previous Tears of Pain, galloping drumming are good. Even the Elvish-ian slow song is now changed without too many harmonic minor things ala Luca, this is concluded from the sad ballad My Sacrifice. Silver Lake of Tears is actually their first song presented to public, typical RoF song in their sad power metal mode. We repeat the slow and sad mood in Custode di Pace. A Tale of Magic is another nicely composed riffs and beat, let listeners to remember the song easier.  Dark Wings of Steel is interesting bombastic orchestration song, which at some point looks very tempting to imagine a female gothic singer into it. And another surprise. This is the first Rhapsody of Fire album without the longest "Finale" as their last track. This album simply closed with 'regular' 4 minutes song called Sad Mystic Moon. Which is I myself a little bit not satisfied with this type of ending. Dudes, this is RoF, we should end the album with the epic-est bang!

Quite a surprise from Rhapsody of Fire. Talking about originality, RoF is hardly can avoid being repeat themselves. Yet, Dark Wings of Steel will put most loyal RoF fans into a minute of stunned, because this album is different. The in-present of Luca Turilli is clearly the main factor. We distance away from lengthy neo-classical licks, less folk elements,  even the story narrator is now gone. Alex Staropoli comes in charge for more keyboard stuffs as melodic instrument now, and Roberto De Micheli even though put a very best solos inside the body of RoF, still less phenomenal than Luca's playing. In many seconds, the bassist seems louder than before. And of course on top of all, Fabio Lione vocal hypnotized it all. Nevertheless, this album will throw away most of A-class power metal album, Dark Wings of Steel will still remained in the VIP class. For information, Luca Turilli is now preparing the 'retaliation'. The fans is the only side taking advantage of their epic rivalry.

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

Rhapsody of Fire - Dark Wings of Steel (2013)
Buy it Here at Amazon

1. Vis Divina
2. Rising from Tragic Flames
3. Angel of Light
4. Tears of Pain
5. Fly to Crystal Skies
6. My Sacrifice
7. Silver Lake of Tears
8. Custode di Pace
9. A Tale of Magic
10. Dark Wings of Steel
11. Sad Mystic Moon

Alex Staropoli - keyboards
Fabio Lione - vocals
Alex Holzwarth - drums
Roberto De Micheli - guitars
Oliver Holzwarth - bass

Rhapsody of Fire Dark Wings Of Steel album review


Leaves' Eyes - Symphonies of the Night (2013)

We never sort of operatic metal album featuring strong female vocalist, one of them is Leaves' Eyes. Liv Kristine is their main force and attraction. They known mostly as symphonic metal with strong folk elements, casually bring in native language words as song title, Lovelorn, Meredead, Siglirn, Njord, and other Middle-Earth slangs. Their music therefore distinguished by nature to met the lyrical theme. Symphonies of the Night is their fifth studio album. While the folk metal still existed in this album, and it's also lean into general operatic female voice - growl vocal to adhered the current trend.

The first example come quickly, Hell to the Heavens is actually catching ear song when Liv Kristine enter the verses, especially with that Nightwish-style riff, but then when the growling pop out the originality of the song is compromised. Of course the folk metal is still around, Maid of Lorraine, Galswintha are top choice to enjoy this imaginative genre of metal, especially Galswintha which is inspiring New-Age-ish - galloping - gothic metal tunes. The album title song comes in strong as well, the sentence Symphony of the Night used well as the chorus highlight. Saint Cecelia is kind of mourn elegy tunes. Angel and the Ghost bring in different character of song, again if the growling part trimmed I wouldn't mind. Éléonore de Provence is also interesting and fast double drumming track.

Most of the time, when the harsh growling vocal comes as duet with female voice, it's still ok, but when he sings alone it just sounds like other millions band without much uniqueness. The instrumentation works are excellent here, just expected from Leaves' Eyes. This album is simply Liv Kristine being the vocal point and other supporting instrumentalist did not try to steal with mind blowing solos. A combination of Power Metal, Gothic, Symphonic and Folks make Leaves' Eyes a difficult band to copy. A nice album to have.

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

Leaves' Eyes - Symphonies of the Night (2013)

01. Hell to the Heavens 4:32
02. Fading Earth 4:33
03. Maid of Lorraine 5:13
04. Galswintha 4:15
05. Symphony of the Night 4:59
06. Saint Cecelia 4:13
07. Hymn to the Lone Sands 5:23
08. Angel and the Ghost 3:37
09. Éléonore de Provence 6:25
10. Nightshade 3:42
11. Ophelia 4:24

Liv Kristine - Vocals
Alexander Krull - Vocals
Thorsten Bauer - Guitars
Sander Van Der Meer - Guitars
Felix Born – Drums

Leave's Eyes - Symphonies of the Night album review


Iron Mask - Fifth Son Of Winterdoom (2013)

Iron Mask is somewhat power metal's best keep secret. Well, maybe not so secret because the band actually quite popular right now. But, still they are not utterly popular, yet. The band's commander in chief, Dushan Petrossi is exactly the combo between Yngwie Malmsteen and John Petrucci in regards to guitar fluency. Iron Mask last album Black as Death, in my opinion is very accomplished power metal album, with killer cover artwork. After two years, Iron Mask pulled out new album, Fifth Son of Winterdoom, their fifth album of course. A quick listening comments, I heard some compromised to their power metal roots.

The details is like this, just listen to their opening song, Back Into Mystery. This is clearly rather strange power metal song. It kind of as far AOR - metal. Mark Boals' voices are great, but in this song he is definitely not the right character. The songs is too light for Iron Mask, only after we reach the solos that the song show some bad-ass attempt to heavier the stuff. Fortunately, the second song is the real deal. Like A Lion In A Cage do serves Iron Mask a good shape. Killer neo-classical stuffs in the opening and somewhat good song writing with fitted lyrics. We then get to another strange deviation of power metal, One Commandment is sounds like old Yngwie in his final glory. Iron Mask continued his oriental-influences track with Seven Samurai (remember Genghis Khan in their last album), and its an acceptable one. The longest track, Fifth Son of Winterdoom is a lengthy epic. This has a large portion of Helloween's Keeper of Seven Keys feeling, but still not very convincing to tie listener for ten minutes idle. A lighter Angel Eyes, Demon Soul comes in perfect timing, to released the tension. Rock Religion to follow is also enjoyable track with melodic stuffs in it. Ballad track in Father Farewell. And they seems back to business when Eagle Of Fire to follow, back to power metal. Where Reconquista 1492 is actually can closed the album with enough glory, afterwards we still got another two final tracks.

It's looks like Fifth Son Of Winterdoom is suffered from the band trying out new stuffs. Some of first songs in the album really kind of too risky to put in. But at least the half part of the album did give Iron Mask back to their expertise, power metal with neo classical spices. Mark Boals still serves a good one, except the overly done vocal harmony seems making the album lost its 'heaviness".  Instrument wise, sounds like Dushan Petrucci runs his sole show with really over Yngwie-esque, neo classical stuffs. Compared to their previous album Black As Death, I think this is a calmer album. Still lots of flash neo classical solos inside, so listen and judge by your own.

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

Iron Mask - Fifth Son Of Winterdoom
Buy it HERE - Amazon

1. Back Into Mystery
2. Like A Lion In A Cage
3. One Commandment
4. Seven Samurai
5. Fifth Son Of Winterdoom
6. Angel Eyes Demon Soul
7. Rock Religion
8. Father Farewell
9. Eagle Of Fire
10. Reconquista 1492
11. Run To Me
12. The Picture Of Dorian Grey

Vassili Moltchanov - bass
Dushan Petrossi - all guitars, orchestral
Roma Siadletski
Ramy Ali - drums
Mark Boals - lead vocals

Iron Mask Fifth Son of Winterdoom album review


Stryper - No More Hell To Pay (2013)

To say the yellow and black jackets is back, is really starts to be a cliche lately. Stryper is having a lot of reborn and/or second coming currently. And surprise.., this is their new original studio album. After Stryper's album Murder By Pride in 2009, they take advantage of some old tunes and covers in The Covering and Second Coming, so No More Hell to Pay is finally their latest original works. Those who live well in the 1980s will understand, Stryper is part of the glam metal euphoria around that time. Strange, because when all other bands sing about lovely chick and/or wizards, Stryper was singing about, ehem, the Christ and the eternal Devil-threatening-human theme. The fact that all metal fans, believers or no, united to listen to Stryper summed up the final fact, Stryper's music is too good. So, with this boast of past glory, let's pay another attention Michael Sweet bros and friends.

No More Hell To Pay is an album full of exciting guitar riffs. It starts with Revelation, which is mid tempo anthem feel rock tune. Then No More Hell To Pay itself is the real riff with harmonious guitar duet between Oz and Michael. If you are using headphone this stereo featured can be feel in full effect. With this two songs, it is correct to say this album is just the right continuation from Murder By Pride, songs mostly stay the same. Moving to faster tempo is in Saved By Love. Heavier and represent more the '80s feel of Stryper, with Michael Sweet unleashed some of his best singing in the last couple of album. Jesus Is Just Alright is exactly what the title suggested, it's an alright heavy metal song with gospel-style singing combined. This song will make a right gospel choir if you taken off the guitar and drum parts, so it's quite a success hybrid. Other interesting tunes such as Legacy is another heavy tunes, sounds pretty much modern, meaning Stryper also responded to the latest trend in music. Marching Into Battle, sounds the opposite, very '80s , Queen's We Will Rock You drumming feel. Te Amo is another interesting melodic riffs, minor feel and potential favorite to power metal listener. Water Into Wine is a good theme for metal song, nice riffs and straight forward rock drumming. Sympathy is the last exciting riffs with also very good song writing and choruses, it's nice to see good song still there in the last part of the album.

Surprisingly no piano or guitar ballad as in any other previous albums, the slowest being The One. No More Hell To Pay comes as heavier, colorful guitar riffs orientated heavy metal album. Michael Sweet stated this album can be released in their height of '80s glory, which is not over statement. Surely the band still got their potential. If not that the music trend is changing by now, this album can be another highlight in the '80s glam metal scenes. Guitar solos are tasty with lots of  '80s tapping licks. The choice to include 'Hell' in their album title is indicating the band try to remind us to their past To Hell With The Devil, and I think it's highly reasonable for this album stand for it.

Metal Harem Class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Stryper - No More Hell To Pay (2013)

1. Revelation
2. No More Hell To Pay
3. Saved By Love
4. Jesus Is Just Alright
5. The One
6. Legacy
7. Marching Into Battle
8. Te Amo
9. Sticks & Stones
10. Water Into Wine
11. Sympathy
12. Renewed

Michael Sweet - Vocals, Guitars
Robert Sweet - Drums
Tim Gaines - Bass
Oz Fox - Lead Guitars

Styper No More Hell to Pay album reivew
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...