Derdian - Limbo 2013

Here comes again the Italian power metaller, Derdian. Many bands tend to blend themselves with progressive or folk metal lately, but Derdian is our faithful defender of pure power metal with its fantasy dragon and epic galloping rhythm. After finishing the New Era trilogy, Derdian is now free to explore new composition disconnected with the story line required as in New Era. Limbo is a new album, rather minimalist compare to their previous trilogy albums. The other significant chances is the departure of vocalist Joe Caggianelli and replaced by Ivan Giannini. I will missed Joe for his clean and powerful vocal characteristic, Ivan on the other hand is heavier and darker, and this lead Limbo to even more Rhapsodian in some cases.

Carpe Diem is the intro, a power metal choirs set listener into Derdian’s standby mode. Dragon’s Life is melodious power metal song with memorable vocal line, best to stay as the album’s opener. An dark intro then lead to Forever In The Dark, a lengthy seven minutes song with a twist of vocal and bombastic chorus, this one is what we usually called a Rhapsodian symphonic metal. Then Heal My Soul is a sweet straightforward power metal song, with all its minor scale song accompanied by solo guitar riff, perhaps my best moment from the album. Light Of Hate is a bold and fast, blasting song, after a calm synth intro that introduce the thematic licks, the band storm listener with double pedal and improvisation over the theme. Terror however, is a breakaway from all previous tracks, bring us to new feel with its very Phrygian modes intro. And beyond this point, Derdian care to show us their other side of creativity with track Limbo, an interesting composition with percussion element in there. Kingdom Of Your Heart is a pieces to show off piano skill to your future fiancée with all its romantic intro, just a minute before the power metal once again changed the dinner courses. Not much to complaint, as the rest of album’s tracks seems consistent in ‘epic’ and ‘melodious’ approach that will pleased power metal fans.

Limbo is much straightforward power metal, with all its sweet and beautiful Italian cantabile inside. Songs are mostly memorable due to creative song writing. Musicianship is no doubt in crafting their melodies. Guitar solos and keyboard shred gone side by side in the incredible tight drum beat. Although many of the ideas in this genre already done by other power metal band notable Rhapsody of Fire, Derdian and Limbo is still a worthy time of exploration. If you like to listen more variation on this power metal music, the album is fun to get.

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

Derdian – Limbo
Buy it here

01. Carpe Diem
02. Dragon’s Life
03. Forever In The Dark
04. Heal My Soul
05. Light Of Hate
06. Terror
07. Limbo
08. Kingdom Of Your Heart
09. Strange Journey
10. Hymn Of Liberty
11. Silent Hope

Ivan Giannini – vocals
Henry “Troglo” Pistolese – guitars, vocals
Dario Radaelli – guitar
Luciano “Lucio” Severgnini – bass
Marco “Garry” Garau – keyboards
Salvatore “Salva” Giordano – drums


Raven Lord - Descent to the Underworld (2013)

Here comes a newly formed super band, Raven Lord. If you take a look at the member assigned, you can be sure to acknowledge familiar names. At least guitarist Joe Stump will do, and will attracted attention from the neo classical shredder faction. Raven Lord is quickly set himself as the classic heavy metal bearer to combined with modern metal sounds. Their debut album is Descent To The Underworld. With six packs of muscular players on the camp, how will it sounds alike? Let’s take a look.

The Rebel and Let The Show Go On, the first and third tracks is powerful classic heavy metal tunes, quickly remind us to the ’80 Judas Priest combined with Metal Church. Especially singer Csaba Zvekan is not letting a single notes sung below the 6th octave there. Now, the vocal works is really the asset of the band, in the same time something that need to get tame. Such problem seems present, in track two Atilla The Hun for example, is way too above the lung for the whole song. This song need to get frequent listening to get it come into our comfort zone. We also quickly discover that most of the song come with a basic formula in the chorus part, where there is a “scream” part then a “reply” chorus as again repeated in song Seal of the Cross. Not only a classic heavy metal tune, we also got something rock n roll feel in Promised Land, which is a hard rock swing applied in it. Settle The Score started with lengthy Joe Stump’s neo classical shred, this cross genre into heavy metal tune gives us a slight reminiscence to early Yngwie Malmsteen year in Alcatrazz and Rising Force era. However, the party quickly ended start from Black Friar, as the remaining of the tunes are mostly covered little variation over the same basic formula, riff and song writing.

Of course for those looking for killer neo classical licks, and those interested to listen Joe Stump in vocalize music, Descent to the Underworld is amazing showpiece of his skills. The least things to complaint is the sounds between George Karafotis’ thrash metal tune and Joe Stump’s neo classical tones is a bit a gap in final mixing. It seems Joe Stump always coming from nowhere and shred the solos out with his chorus and clean distortion, as opposed to George's brutal power chord. Nonstop double pedal drums from ex Blaze Bayley drummer, Larry Paterson is leading a team of bassist Jamie Mallender, who played in ex Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin’s band and keyboardist Alessandro Duo. Overall this is a fun listening with nostalgic tunes from American classic heavy metal. The extreme voice of Csaba Zvekan shine well in the Rebel and Let The Show Go On, but the footnotes is, they need to limit Csaba gone into throat hanging pitch in some cases. For a heavy metal with Judas Priest combined with Yngwie Malmsteen-like neo classical licks, come listen to Raven Lord's Descent to the Underworld.

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

Raven Lord – Descent to the Underworld 2013
Buy it here

1. The Rebel
2. Atilla The Hun
3. Let The Show Go On
4. Seal of the Cross
5. Promised Land
6. Settle The Score
7. Black Friar
8. World Out of Steel
9. Revelation
10. Metal Knights
11. Sun God

Raven Lord are:
Csaba Zvekan (Killing Machine, Sardonyx, Emergency) – Vocals
Joe Stump (Holy Hell, Reign of Terror) - Lead Guitars
George Karafotis (Vermillion Days, Operation X) – Guitar
Jamie Mallender (Tony Martin Band, ex-Black Sabbath) – Bass
Lawrence "Larry" Paterson (Blaze Baley, Iron Knights) – Drums
Alessandro Duo (Voodoo Highway) - Keyboards


Saxon Sacrifice 2013

Saxon is the band you can rely on when all you need is a catchy riff and energy. While the previous album Call to Arms deals with ’80 tunes and feel, our new release Sacrifice is slightly move on to modern end. We got guitar crunch set into more high frequency distortion than previous. But basically this is Saxon with all their Denim and Leather riff we can imagine.

Sacrifice is the first vocal song we listen. Straightforward riff that bring NWOBHM back to life on a year 2013. Speaking about the Mayan sacrifice ceremonial, it is the first cultural theme song in the album. Come next is Made in Belfast, the intro is a combination of Celtic folk instrument followed with thundering bass line. The lyric is about unfortunate ship made in Belfast, story which include the legendary Titanic. The interlude that resemble the sound of mechanical instrument of the ship and mandolin followed up seems contracting each other, all in heavymetal thunder style. We then move to the next transport theme, Warriors of the Road, well this time is a racing theme ala F-1  and it’s sounds as fast and furious it can be. The next theme is oriental tune, Guardians of the Tomb based on the terracotta warriors that guarding the tomb of Qin Shi Huang of China.  The intro with oriental scale and then the riff itself made this one the best tune in the album, my favourite so far. And finally, a standard pentatonic hard rocker tune in Stand Up and Fight. Set the mood to the rebellious Saxon classic theme a Stand up and Fight things. In Walking the Steel we got a dry distortion riff as the intro to this 9/11 tribute theme song. Night of the Wolf try to calm the situation with a rather minor feel song and an acoustic break in the middle. Wheels of Terror and Standing in the Queue completed our encyclopaedia of heavy metal riff for today. The digipack and itunes release contained several interesting re-issue track bonuses as well.

All we need is present in Sacrifice. The riffs, the scream, the rebellious bass and mechanical speed drum. As usual, fans of guitar distortion will find this album full of guitar tone inspirations. Biff Byford gives us wonderful voice that bring back the memory of early ’80 British heavy metal scene. FYI, Biff will be back in the next Avantasia album so stay tune in March 2013 also. Saxon haven’t feel the need to move on from their comfortable British heavy metal sounds, and exactly doing the same things over the decades but with pocket full of new energy. Saxon fans need only to buy this release without worry.

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

Saxon Sacrifice 2013
Buy the album here

1."Procession" 1:47
2."Sacrifice" 3:58
3."Made in Belfast" 4:35
4."Warriors of the Road"  3:32
5."Guardians of the Tomb" 4:49
6."Stand up and Fight" 4:03
7."Walking the Steel" 4:24
8."Night of the Wolf" 4:20
9."Wheels of Terror" 4:22
10."Standing in a Queue"  3:38

    Biff Byford - lead vocals
    Paul Quinn - guitar
    Doug Scarratt - guitar
    Nibbs Carter - bass
    Nigel Glockler - drums


Stratovarius - Nemesis 2013

Stratovarius is unique among power metal bands. For some reason, they never really put out above the sky production, but every once and a while they did one single good song, that memorable for the rest of age and sufficient to call it as a landmark of the genre. Technically speaking, Stratovarius also never did a killer stuff that required grade-12 musical wizardry skill. In fact, Timmo Tolkki had been mr.Slow Hand in power metal for decades and nobody seems to complaint. So, what’s attractive on Stratovarius music then? Oh yes, the melody. This may be the single reason to listen to Stratovarius. Stratovarius seems able to built the most minimalist material into the most memorable choruses, using the most natural lyric theme, or even from the minimum one word song title as the theme. Then for a bigger portions of Strat years, Timo Kotipelto is their voices. Now Kotipelto is another phenomenon. His voice is unique in the way too melancholy, something like Michael Bolton singing Van Halen situation. But again, Stratovarius express themselves well with Kotipelto’s singing character. So, after 13 albums so far, finally the big story of Strat had come. The fourteenth album is on, called Nemesis and is a major changes as I listen carefully for so far. We all know that Timo Tolkki wasn’t around for about two albums prior. Then young talent Matias Kupiainen steps in. In Nemesis, it is sure he wasn’t thinking about wasting his talent doing “easy” stuff forever. Most of song in Nemesis are credited to Matias, and so that the new sounds come in.

Abandon starts with basic riff with epic scale orchestration. The chorus and backing vocals is good, giving the major effect of power and epic there. Soon we arrived in the duel solos between Matias and oh yes, Jens Johansson. How we remind to the wizardry skill of Jens and his keys. Unbreakable is typically one shoot fantastic song from them. This will be added to their collection of hits such as Hunting High and Low, Eagleheart, and so on. Stand My Ground manifest the new musical directions from Stratovarius. They are not very much in the neo classical mood anymore and Matias prove that power metal still got a lot of room in unexplored riff and licks. Halcyon Days gone thicker in symphonic feel with its background choruses effects. The chorus that resembling typically Stratovarius music but now polished with new musical style. The next song called Fantasy, how can this word haven’t used as a title? Okay there is Fantasia in Elements Part 1. This is the fifth straight good song, with a choruses that we hard to believed haven’t heard before. Fantasy credited to bassist Lauri Porra as song writer. The song also helped with melodious keyboard licks, something that used a lot in this album. Out Of the Fog is not yet the filler and keep the album pace well. Castles in the Air must be Jens Johansson altered ego in the album, talking about some awesome keyboard shred in there. Another one word title song , Dragons come with tasty keyboard riff as the intro. One Must Fall is probably the most generic aka. filler for this situation. If The Story Over come with new ally Jani Liimatainen providing acoustic guitar and also co write the song. Timo Kotipelto and Liimatainen had collaboration in music and produced Blackoustic as the background event of this song. The album finally closed with Nemesis. A good song, but it is hard to get the climax feel, especially since the whole album is too catchy to get the proper ending.

Stratovarius have their major breakthrough in Nemesis. When you got a straight five good songs in one album, you know this going to be their golden record. The key of success in Nemesis is simple. Stratovarius’ melodic power metal finally got the proper technically strong music arrangements. Matias Kupiainene is shinning really well and above the sky with this releases. To get the thing better, we got Jens Johansson finally unleashed his maximum potential, either in solos or in creating memorable motives to get the song even more memorable. Kotipelko also has his moment in singing with more aggressive attack. New drummer Rolf Pilve and bassist Lauri Porra will enjoy their new musical adventure and provided the needed rhythm section well. This is a surprise releases from Stratovarius, especially when we think they will never compete to a younger power metal band that has all the machine-like guitarist or drummer, Nemesis put it on the ground for hand to hand combat against that youngsters. A must have.

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

Stratovarius – Nemesis 2013
Buy it here

1. Abandon
2. Unbreakable
3. Stand My Ground
4. Halcyon Days
5. Fantasy
6. Out Of The Fog
7. Castles In The Air
8. Dragons
9. One Must Fall
10. If The Story Is Over
11. Nemesis


Red - Release the Panic 2013

From the Nashville Christian Rock band, Red, here comes their fourth album, Release the Panic. Red had been doing modern rock, combined with stuff of heavy metal, grunge, hardcore packaged into their works. Release the Panic is even broader spectrum of music, from the opener Release the Panic that are groove / hardcore feel then gone to the last The Moment We Come Alive which is standard modern rock ballad.

In the middle part, Damage is pretty  awesome with killer opening riff then went into hardcore, industrial and nu metal stuffs all combined in one. It repeated again in If We Only, for now the song writing and choruses is their strong point.  Glass House make up the best non growling track, something like an Evanescene with male singing on it.

The production is high end with lots of looping and effect to intense the rhythm section. Release the Panic show the creativity of the boys in Red still strong ever, in the standard of award winning band. Check the American hard rock scene today on this album and relax.

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

Red – Release the Panic 2013
Buy it here

1. "Release the Panic"  3:02
2."Perfect Life" 2:52
3."Die for You" 2:47
4."Damage"  3:42
5."Same Disease" 3:02
6."Hold Me Now" 4:01
7."If We Only"  3:47
8."So Far Away"  3:56
9."Glass House"  3:33
10."The Moment We Come Alive" 3:23
11."Love Will Leave a Mark"  2:41
12."As You Go"   4:17
13."Hymn for the Missing (Guillotine remix)" 4:34
14."Death of Me (Guillotine remix)"  4:42
15."Breathe Into Me (Remix Acústica)"  3:55

• Michael Barnes – lead vocals
• Anthony Armstrong – rhythm guitar, lead guitar, backing vocals
• Randy Armstrong – bass, piano, backing vocals
• Joe Rickard – drums, percussion

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