Tracii Guns’ League of Gentlemen - The First Record 2013

There is always first time for everyone. League of Gentlemen is Tracii Guns latest moniker he needed after he also split from his long life attached band, L.A. Guns. From the rock news, Tracii disbanded his version of L.A.Guns in mid of 2012 and move on. Quietly released in June 2013, the First Record positively their debut album. The album has a majority modern hard rock styles, so this can be differ to our last year L.A. Guns released (Hollywood Forever).

For listener to hard rock that not familiar with Tracii Guns, tunes like Everything Everything, is generic hard rock song easy to grab by everyone. Those who like to hear Tracii Guns with his L.A.Guns style may find The Sound sounds close to L.A.Guns classic the Ballad of Jane. For the singer, Tracii Guns invited Scott Foster Harris, he is not too close character to L.A Guns' Phil Lewis, which is a good sign that this league of gentlemen not trying to live under the shadow of L.A. Guns. There are also modern psychedelic hard rocking tunes, song like The Witch and Sugar Mama are in this category. Find more sentimental ballads in Jealous of the Rain, Painted Lady and Feathers in a Hurricane. More post-alternative era feel in Taste Your Fear.  If you insist to heard some old blues rock tunes, Long Way to Heaven, Backside of the Moon and Saginaw Blues were there. Inducted also a surprise cover of Air Supply's Without You. Then the album close with another psychedelic new age track in Space & Time Collide.

Enough of variety of styles in The First Record, but little room for those expecting Tracii back to glamorous hair metal as in L.A.Guns in the late '80 era. They were less guitar riffs orientated track to be found, if you expected from Tracii Guns. Instead Tracii leads the band having more fun in trying up to date music. Enjoyable album to say the least!

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

Tracii Guns’ League of Gentlemen - The First Record 2013
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01. Everything Everything
02. The Witch
03. Sugar Mama
04. The Sound
05. Jealous of the Rain
06. Painted Lady
07. Taste Your Fear
08. Feathers in a Hurricane
09. Long Way to Heaven
10. One
11. Saginaw Blues
12. Backside of the Moon
13. Without You
14. Space & Time Collide

Tracii Guns - Guitars
Scott Foster Harris - Vocals
Doni Gray - Drums
Craig McCloskey - Bass
John Bird - Organ

Tracii Guns' League of Gentlemen - The First Record album review


Sirenia - Perils Of The Deep Blue 2013

Norwegian cum Spaniard Symphonic Gothic act is what Sirenia stands for. Historically, the band was born as a rival project of ejected Morten Veland from another gothic band, Tristania. Five albums they are in, with the release like The 13th Floor impressed me a lot. In this new 2013 album, Perils of the Deep Blue, Sirenia comes with deeper Symphonic metal and their gothic elements are still pure as blue ocean. A good standing position, to not followed other gothic band turns heavy or progressive trend lately.

The sign of serious symphonic stuff can be derived from their 3 minutes long instrumental intro Ducere Me in Lucem that lengthy in atmospheric chanting and howling. Then Seven Widows Weep is bombastic first opener, full scale in choirs and buzzing guitar distortion. As in many death metal wannabe, the first vocal we met is Morten Veland himself in harsh growling voice. The female singer is by Ailyn Garcia, not in the same room of operatic voices ala Tarja, but Ailyn sing in higher clean voice territory. The effect of her voice is good to fit into mermaids and ocean blue theme, kind of atmosphere and new age feel. She again sing perfectly in My Destiny Coming to Pass, a gothic metal best formula of having bombastic music but the singing is slow and charming. Alas, Ditt Endelikt is something awkward with a vocal do less justice to its music, which is a nice one. Luckily that is the only 'clean male voices' track on the album, we back on the track of symphonic attack in Cold Caress. For a notice, Perils Of The Deep Blue come with little to none guitar solos, Morten put more energy to invent catchy keyboard arrangements, one of the good sample is in Decadence. More serious composition comes in Stille Kom Døden, where Ailyn's sing in slow motion mode for over 12 minutes long. The escalation of mourning come to climax in The Funeral March. Profound Scars is angry and fast track, now with a bit of guitar works along with a popular flute voices. The other lengthy guitar solos only found in the later track, A Blizzard Is Coming.

Surely a theatrical synthesizer cover up can never replaced a guitar solo. Listening to over seventy minutes of choirs and orchestration, as good as it is, hardly can avoid to fall into boredom borderline. So, Sirenia need to hire additional shredder to lighten up situation, I beg. The other thing, the popular yin yang attack, female vs (death metal) male voices is not as tight as in other similar band. I feel Morten Veland's harsh vocal is not the best part I enjoy. Ailyn's innocence voice is enough, so left her alone is also my pledge. As for the bombastic symphonic part, this is where Sirenia able to capture attention in almost every song's opening. When Morten's ex-friends in the Tristan camp trying to further away from their Symphonic root, he leads friends in Siren camp to venture further in this overpower Symphonic attack. Perils Of The Deep Blue is best energy drink for your sleepy summer days.

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

Sirenia — Perils Of The Deep Blue 2013
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1. Ducere Me in Lucem
2. Seven Widows Weep
3. My Destiny Coming to Pass
4. Ditt Endelikt
5. Cold Caress
6. Darkling
7. Decadence
8. Stille Kom Døden
9. The Funeral March
10. Profound Scars
11. A Blizzard is Storming
12. Chains
13. Blue Colleen

Morten Veland — Vocals (harsh, clean), Guitars, Bass, Drums, Keyboards, Programming
Jonathan A. Perez — Drums
Pilar "Ailyn" Giménez García — Vocals
Jan Erik Soltvedt — Guitars

Produced- Morten Veland
Mastering and Mixing- Endre Kirkesola
Cover Artwork- Anne Stokes
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Sirenia Perils of the Deep Blue album review


George Bellas - Astral Projection 2013

Sorcerer George Bellas give us a new wizardry craft this month with an creation called Astral Projection. Once again he put in some celestial finger flying musical transformation into this creation. In our Earthling terms, George Bellas played a six string instrument, electrical powered, which is known as a guitar (well, Fender-fraction one). In his more than twenty years in living on planet Earth, George already given us about six similar creation, which we called music album, so this Astral Projection should be his seventh. This unsure cataloging is because George Bellas is a heavily session guitar player, involved in many bands and music projects. In short, this new album is his latest compilation of own work with guitar instrumental as main menu. On this project, he only need to summon one more wizard partner, an ultra smiling drummer named Marco Minnemann.

Astral Projection is mostly progressive music in majority. It is also has a neo classical licks in its. So there is a thing like Yngwie Malmsteen + Dream Theater combo, or if you prefer, Impellitteri + Symphony X call. The song titled is very conceptual, so we got the intro called Into The Unknown, which is a good description on the music itself, giving you real 'what going on next...' feel. Dimensional Portal also same. With all the flying harmonic minor licks, here come the first progressive moment. We can also hear the 'dimensional portal' choir and synth. The only weird situation is , in this song there is a lot 'waiting time' where we listen Marco's lead cymbal as foreground in a lengthy time. We then Out of Body, follow where the lick leading us next. This is heavily harmonic minor scale neo classical tune. The destination is none other than Fabric of Space and Time, right in the Hyperspace. Both compositions give us a feel of space and time travel. A light lydian sweep. Things complicated again in RIP In The Continuum. A bit of power metal feel can heard in the intro to Apparition. More diminished licks in progressive feel composition of Magnetic Anomaly. The last part of album concept in Visiting An Alien World with Interdimensional Travel, landed On The Other Side and got Transcendental. These are a string of outer space feel composition, lots of synth going on, flute accentuation (in Visiting An Alien World). The lengthiest part is in Interdimensional Travel where we deep through an eleven minutes long composition.

Compare to George Bellas previous album, The Dawn of Time, this is comes heavier in progressive, not many variation of style we can get as in The Dawn of Time. But actually it is a linear upgrade from The Dawn of Time to Astral Projection. We need to appreciated how creative George Bellas handling all other melodic instruments, the orchestration etc, and still come with interesting playing. Marco Minnemann is also perfect partner to give the song a decent drum playing. Taking Marco's busy schedule, we can salute Marco for his versatility. Marco just finished with other two guitarists, Julia Kosterova, Joe Satriani (as live drummer in June 2013) and still waiting for next Guthrie Govan collaboration project. Astral Projection is a decent instrumental work from guitar wizard George Bellas, played in astral time and space concept.

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

George Bellas - Astral Projection (2013)
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01. Into The Unknown
02. Dimensional Portal
03. Out of Body
04. Fabric of Space and Time
05. Hyperspace
06. Rip In The Continuum
07. Curiosity
08. Apparition
09. Magnetic Anomaly
10. Tipler’s Cylinder
11. Visiting An Alien World
12. Interdimensional Travel
13. Heightened Awareness
14. On The Other Side
15. Transcendental

George Bellas - Guitar, Bass, Keyboards
Marco Minnemann - Drums

George Bellas Astral Projection album review

Bret Michaels - Jammin' With Friends 2013

And it's good to see Bret Michaels jamming with his friends again. Poison and Bret Michaels were my best memories from the glam metal in late '80. Shame we won't get that classic atmosphere again. So, when an old song, sung again and recorded with a touchy title "Jammin' With Friends", now that will be hardly to refuse. More information on this record can be read in Wikipedia's article. Majority of them are Poison's classic hits, such as Nothin' But A Good Time, Talk Dirty to Me, Every Rose Has Its Thorn, and Unskinny Bop. These song proves that Poison indeed crafted for us a classic tunes, that easily rendered into different feel and styles. Bret Michaels voices are the pacifying force on this hordes of musicians. As soon as we listen his vocals it will bring back the memories. Bret Michaels did not done many 'bad boy' screaming anymore, Talk Dirty to Me is the further he go. Instead this album resembling the later Poison era, the Native Tongue era.

The list of musician involved show how good Bret Michael's circle of friends. From Phil Collen (Def Leppard) , Ace Frehley to Frank Hannon, Joe Perry and old buddy C.C.DeVille. The record also sampling Bret Michaels later works, such as in Go That Far and Party Rock Band, all sounds in updated hard rock post the grunge era. For a classic piano ballad we can listen to Fallen. Then we have the best track saved for last, Something to Believe In in acoustic guitar mode is one tune we will sing along for the sake of '80 memories. Come and join Bret Michael's friend in jamming session.

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

Bret Michaels - Jammin' With Friends 2013
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01. Nothin' but a Good Time (feat. Michaels Anthony, Lil Jon & Ace Frehley)
02. Sweet Home Alabama (feat. Rickey Medlocke, Gary Rossington, Bobby Capps & Peter Keys)
03. Talk Dirty to Me (feat. Mark McGrath & Scot Coogan)
04. Get Your Rock On (feat. Phil Collen & Sal Costa)
05. Unskinny Bop (feat. The Shields Brothers!, Bobby Capps, Frank Hannon & Robert Mason)
06. The App Song (feat. Brian Nutter, Jimmy Buffett & Bobby Capps)
07. Every Rose Has Its Thorn (feat. Loretta Lynn, Bobby Capps, Joe Perry & Hugh McDonald)
08. Raine (feat. Edwin McCain - from album Freedom of Sound)
09. Driven (feat. Leslie West, Jeffrey Steele & Eric Brittingham)
10. Nothing to Lose (feat. Miley Cyrus - from album Custom Built)
11. What I Got (feat. Jaret Reddick)
12. Go That Far (feat. Jason Miller)
13. Fallen (feat. Jimmy McGorman)
14. Party Rock Band (feat. C.C. DeVille & Randy Castillo - from album A Letter From Death Row)
15. You Know You Want It (feat. Peter Keys)
16. Margaritaville (feat. Jimmy Buffett - Live in Detroit)
17. Every Rose Has Its Thorn (feat. Mark Wills, Chris Cagle & Brad Arnold - Freedom of Sounds)
18. Something to Believe In - solo version from album Freedom of Sounds
19. Nothin' but a Good Time (feat. Ace Frehley, Michael Anthony & The Shields Brothers!)
20. Get Your Ride On (feat. Phil Collen & Sal Costa)

Bret Michaels Jammin' With Friends album review


Sacred Mother Tongue - Out Of The Darkness (2013)

It's good to see a metal band arising from ashes and then signed by major label such as EMI. Sacred Mother Tongue is a band mainly known as outlet for guitarist Andy James to play a vocal metal song. Andy James simply a super talent guitarist made his name worldwide just by playing loud in internet, and of course on the stage. Sacred Mother Tongue then, one other way got their guarantee popularity and they handled the opportunity quite well. Out Of the Darkness is their second album. This band from UK gives a lot of 'friendly' metal tune that equipped with jaw dropping guitar solos as their most awaited parts.

Demons as their first opener is actually very Metallica sounding. The song just like a combo between Death Magnetic (hear the Ulrich-ism drumming there) and Ride the Lightning era (the guitar riff and even some of the vocal singing style). Something thrash come in a track like Seven. Now this time it leaning to Megadeth feel. And if you really like to find out, next song Pawn is also sounds like '80s Anthrax era. The other tracks that interesting to mention are: A Light Will Shine, this is where Andy James put more fill in solos outside the given time slot.  The City Is Crying, a song with metalcore-like drum groove and some lower pitch vocal line.

First, Darrin South's vocal is unique into the style. He is making most of Metallica-Megadeth-Anthrax-like song not anymore sounds like Hetfield-Mustaine or Belladonna, instead his rather clean voice make this sounds modern. As band with heavy weight virtuoso guitarist on the board, I found Sacred Mother Tongue a bit less 'wild'. I actually expected to hear a Van Halen version of metal band with lots of harmonics scream scattered everywhere possible. Instead Andy James applied a strong discipline to not ruined the mood of his band mate by overplaying. Which is I actually prefer the other way round though. Out Of The Darkness can go well with mainstream with this blending of popular headbanging riffs and radio friendly singing style. And thanks to the guitar parts, wider listener can appreciate the level of musicianship required to play in this genre.

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

Sacred Mother Tongue - Out Of The Darkness (2013)
Buy It Here Amazon

1. Demons
2. Bird In Hand
3. Seven
4. Pawn
5. Bleeding Out
6. A Light Will Shine
7. The City Is Crying
8. Just A Ride
9. Evolve / Become
10. Believe

Lee Newell – Drums
Josh Gurner – Bass Guitar
Darrin South – Vocals
Andy James – Lead Guitar
Record Label: Transcend Music / The End Records / EMI

British heavy metal Sacred Mother Tongue new 2013 album, Out Of The Darkness , album review


Orphaned Land - All Is One (2013)

The oriental, Middle Eastern region is enriched with thousand years of music culture. It's only come to a time when the music of Oud (perl shape Lute or guitar) or Saz (stringed instrument from Persia, similar to guitar), come along with distorted guitar and metal drum set. The combination of such folk music with metal then give birth to a genre called Oriental Metal. On surface of Oriental Metal population is a band from Israel, Orphaned Land. They were quite long running already, the trace of the band can be back far to 1991's. Staying in exotic places that so damn destroyed by human incapability of tolerances to different faiths, the band get much inspiration from all three Abrahamic religions. So long being existed, the band only equipped with five studio albums, including our 2013 releases All Is One. Full of sad stories and inspirational message to the land, All Is One is beautiful creation that put metal under serious tone of folk metal and act as ambassador of cultural differences in the area.

We open with tasty folk stringed instrument lick, that followed with grander choruses, and landed into a Middle Eastern scale metal song. All Is One is a metal song played under exotic time signature and layer of oriental instrumentation, this opening song is quickly become my favorite tune. Still same structure followed in The Simple Man. If you like Indiana Jones or the Mummy soundtrack, this song will capture your attention. Odd time guitar riff with bass lick fill in, an desert chanting all combined in this great composition. Brother is then a straightforward easy to grab slower tempo song with complex orchestration. Let The Truce Be Known again hold the water cold with a song that preferred to be go rather slow. Not enough with that, Through Fire and Water return us to desert camp fire feel, lengthy introduction with percussion and folk guitar. The present of female voices is only natural to encountered here. Fail, bring us back to modern day. This is Dave Mustaine-like speech thrash metal. Freedom is folk dance beat metal song that can really bring you jumping around in the light of Arab Spring victories over the region. All the rest followed strickly Orphaned Land formula of getting one oriental lick followed with heavy guitar riffs.

Cleverly put the metal in the container of religion-theme lyric and finished with awesome oriental - Hellenistic - Central Asia music, Orphaned Land had one more time succeed combining these world. I enjoy much this album. Something beyond our regular listening and it's not cheekily done. All Is One show the creative musicianship with high skill support. Yossi Sassi the guitarist come with arsenal of Israeli licks that kick nicely before the metal part begin. If you like to met him, Yossi also offer his solo album The Melting Clock. Credit to the singer, whose accent is clear for most Asian listener, the story telling lyric is easy to follow. Young drummer Matan Shmuely and rest of band the guitarist Chen Balbus and Uri Zelcha are supportive forces. This album not really gone heavy, neither too instrumental solos as in most progressive band. It's help us to see peaceful side on the Israel hills and valleys. It is a hope to destroy terrorism that bring religion as their weapon. All Is One, is heavy oriental scale based metal album. If you like creative music in metal here is a great album to listen.

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

Orphaned Land - All Is One (2013)

1. All Is One
2. The Simple Man
3. Brother
4. Let the Truce Be Known
5. Through Fire and Water
6. Fail
7. Freedom
8. Shama'im
9. Ya Benaye
10. Our Own Messiah
11. Children

Kobi Farhi - Vocals
Yossi Sassi - Guitars & Middle East Folk instruments: Oud, Saz, Chumbush
Chen Balbus - Guitars
Uri Zelcha - Bass
Matan Shmuely - Drums
Record Label: Century Media

Israel Folk Metal band, Orphaned Land All is One album review


Darkane - The Sinister Supremacy (2013)

Darkane was a melodic death band actively pushing out albums yearly since 1999 to 2008. With five albums up to that years, Darkane success in getting attention from the crowd of death fans. It's only takes five more years before the band from Helsinborg Sweden, managed to recorded a new material, that is our June 2013 new Darkane album called The Sinister Supremacy. A quick summary, the album did not differed much from the rest. The vibes from past album such as Expending Senses and song as Violence from Within still dominated the styles in The Sinister Supremacy.

We have a death metal styles of orchestral intro there in Sounds Of Pre-Existence, sounds cold, with some dissonances to make this intro not sound power metal alike. The Sinister Supremacy seems to be the album's highlight and it is. Dynamic structures, catchy chorus and fast double pedal drumming on that. Well, actually a blasting tempo is the album's default template. Mechanically Divine continued what left in the first opener. In my descriptions, I think Darkane is somewhat like a Sweden / Europe version of metalcore, they are best listened while skate boarding, rather than as horror movie soundtrack, as in case of death metal mood. As another interesting track out of about 12 tracks here are: The Decline, which comes with short orchestration intro. Insurrection Is Imminent which is in a second just sounds like a doom metal song. Humanity Defiled with drum solo intro and a good guitar riffing. Hate Repentance State is obviously the most contrast song here, it's a piano composition with dark aura in its. Existence Is Just A State Of Mind offered a rather different drum beat compared to the rest. If you get the limited edition, two more tunes as a bonus.

As now, Darkane most popular personnel can be the drummer Peter Wildoer. He is of the fame of Seven Dream Theater Auditioners. Well, the truth is he also actively sold his drum beat to soloist such as James LaBrie (as the time of writing, James LaBrie is about to released his 2013 solo album) and CJ Grimmark. His drumming of course defined Darkane a lot. Lawrence Mackrory sounds more like an US metalcore style, which as I mentioned make Darkane somewhat a line between death metal and metalcore. Chugging guitars from duo Malmstrom and Ideberg bring enough aggressiveness for the style. Not much differences from Darkane's past portfolio, The Sinister Supremacy has nothing to avoid being keep by Darkane fans or wider death metaller.

Metal Harem class: ******** eight stars out of ten (8/10)

Darkane - The Sinister Supremacy (2013) 

1. Sounds Of Pre-Existence
2. The Sinister Supremacy
3. Mechanically Divine
4. Ostracized
5. The Decline
6. Insurrection Is Imminent
7. In The Absence Of Pain
8. Humanity Defiled
9. Hate Repentance State
10. Collapse Of Illusions
11. By Darkness Designed
12. Existence Is Just A State Of Mind
13. I, Author Of Despair (Digipak Bonus Track)
14. Malicious Strain (Digipak Bonus Track)

Jörgen Löfberg - Bass
Peter Wildoer - Drums
Klas Ideberg - Guitars
Christofer Malmström - Guitars
Lawrence Mackrory - Vocals
Carlos Holmberg (ex-Soilwork) , cover art
Label: Prosthetic Records
Europe Release via Massacre Records on June 28, 2013
Release date: July 2nd, 2013

Darkane The Sinister Supremacy album review


Edenbridge - The Bonding (2013)

If we take a look on musical history, Austria with its Vienna culture was one of music capital on Europe, even internationally. But when gone to a wicked out of mainstream genre called Symphonic Metal, Austria can only depend on Edenbridge, a quintet from Linz, Austria. As a power symphonic band that fully completed with female fronted singer, Sabine Edelsbacher, Edenbridge is not a small act anymore. As we know, all their previous symphonic releases was of high stars by reviewers. I especially praised the latest album, Solitaire in 2010 that capture some of peak act Edenbridge can offer. With such promising background I take their newest, 8th studio, album with high enthusiast, called The Bonding.

One of surprises immediately pop out. There is no symphonic intro what so ever in the opening. Instead we just jump into a ready riff in action. Mystic River is that song in action. Only a slightly symphonic motives before Sabine also jump into the singing line. Quite straight forward, the song heard as powerful version of gothic metal and it's a long one over seven minutes. Not far from that is the second song, Alight a New Tomorrow. This is however has a catchier tempo, but still come with lesser bombastic or symphonic than something Edenbridge done in the past. Star-Crossed Dreamer come as a slow song that perhaps come too quick as the number three on the play list. This to be followed by another gradually arise pattern, from soft orchestration into a full blast of power metal. The Invisible Force is the power symphonic composition I've been looking for in this album. Yet another folk ballad tunes in Far Out of Reach, this is better describe as serious composition with emphasized on progressive elements. We then get Shadows of Memory, fast track with growling death metal vocal provided by guest singer. Another good piano ballad tune in Death is not the End. A melodious charming song beautifully carried on by Sabine. On the last track, Edenbridge make sure we not get away empty feel, so here a 15 minutes epic, in as cliche orchestration as it is, The Bonding did close the album with us feeling full.

The Bonding concluded us with materials divert from commonly Edenbridge's sounds. The songs are mostly heavy in progressive development of song, lesser the power metal element. Orchestration come with different direction, instead of bombastic the song, the orchestration is come as more serious elements. So that we left the impression that Edenbridge is looking for a gradually update on their styles. Sabine's voices still dominating, but since the songs are now more technical we then presented a rather cold execution by her. The musicians done the extra job covering each song with awesome compositions rather than a cliche power metal riffing. The Bonding may surprise listener who enjoy Edenbridge's last album with great symphonic power, but now the band took extra step by giving more serious progressive elements into their sound. It's may be a good idea to enjoy their newest offering right now.

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

Edenbridge - The Bonding
Buy the Album here at Amazon

1. Mystic River
2. Alight a New Tomorrow
3. Star-Crossed Dreamer
4. The Invisible Force
5. Into a Sea of Souls
6. Far Out of Reach
7. Shadows of Memory
8. Death is not the End
9. The Bonding

Sabine Edelsbacher - Lead Vocals
Lanvall - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards & Piano, Zither / Kecapi
Max Pointer - Drums
Dominik Sebastian - Lead Guitars

Additional musicians:
Wolfgang Rothbauer - Bass, vocals on Shadows Of My Memory
Erik Martenssson - Lead Vocals on The Bonding
Robby Valentine - Choirs
Record Label: SPV / Steamhammer Records

new 2013 Edenbridge The Bonding album review


Queensrÿche - Queensrÿche (2013)

Why it matter to have two band fighting carry on the flag of Queensrÿche? Earlier this year, ex-singer Geoff Tate utilized the name for his most likely a solo album, called Frequency Unknown. The style of music on that album differed from what the classic Queensrÿche was. Instead Geoff Tate's is hard rock to AoR to the best. Now that the half soul of Queensrÿche put on new album, handicapped-ly without specific title (what a bad marketing in case they were fighting for popularity..). Now, in case you skeptical, don't. Because this album continued exactly what Queensrÿche music left, almost two decades ago. The new album, 2013, is better to represent what a great progressive metal Queensrÿche was/is. This released comes with new singer, Todd La Torre of ex Crimson Glory fame.

The album begin with high tension theatrical opening, X 2. Soon it climax with a start of the first song, Where Dreams Go To Die. The song is particularly great! The introductory opening with well composed drum pattern, riffs and clean guitar opening, all resembled the great '80s Queensrÿche era, remind us to Operation Mindcrime timeline. Part of this we should peek the producer in charge, which is James Barton, who worked in Queensrÿche's Operation Mindcrime, Empire and The Promised Land. Our surprise not stop there, Spore also not failed to represent Queensrÿche 'sad' progressive metal style. The choruses not far from being  familiar as we already listen to this song couple of times. Another easy to spot hit is In This Light. Combining melancholic metal ballad with our new singer, this song again show what a perfect singer Todd is for Queensrÿche. Strangely, Queensrÿche make used of many industrial metal elements without much complaint from the traditionalist. Redemption is one of that example. Faster and intensity high is on Vindication. Midnight Lullaby is already best represented by its titled. Coming in, A World Without is classy '80, Metal Church style (refer to Watch the Children Pray!), of metal ballad. Don't Look Back can be their most understandable 'filler', which is in many ways enjoyable to listen. Fallout also can be said the same, except this song has more hard rock energy inside. Then goes to another Queensrÿche typical ballad in the last piece of the album, Open Road.

What a surprise come back. Queensrÿche able to transform with updated sounds ideas, yet stay very typical to their trademark vibes. Duo guitarists to fill each other is there, between Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren. The Roland Jazz Chorus is there. Specifically refer to 'Rychee sounds, that Michael Wilton and 'mr-ex' Chris DeGarmo used to play together in the glory past. The drum sounds is great, the engineering of snare sounds is just awesome representing the bigger arena voices. Then bassist Eddie Jackson is there also, backing the bass for Todd as the two guitarist usually too busy occupied with their melodic lines. As we know, Queensrÿche's sounds is always 'never sounds full' and 'hollow', so the bass must work hard to minimized this. I must also mentioned the choice of their self titled album is not very 'user friendly' for internet searching. Overall this is the album I can easily play back again just right after its finished. So yes, this is a great recommended progressive metal album of 2013.

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

Queensrÿche - Queensrÿche (2013)

01.X 2
02.Where Dreams Go To Die
04.In This Light
07.Midnight Lullaby
08.A World Without
09.Don't Look Back
11.Open Road

Todd La Torre - Vocals
Michael Wilton - Guitar
Parker Lundgren - Guitar
Eddie Jackson - Bass
Scott Rockenfield - Drums
Record Label: Century Media

Queensrÿche - Queensrÿche (2013) album review


Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods (2013)

Amon Amarth, the bearer of melodic death metal with a twist of Viking mythology has just released their ninth studio album. Nonetheless, Deceiver of the Gods is still going to maximize your understanding about Loke and his gang with another bombastic music. Amon Amarth is a proud quintet from Stockholm Sweden. Most proud point in their CV, the band is solid in the line up, staying together as one pieces for more than ten years now. This usually lead the band into experimental 'period', but Amon Amarth seems far from getting such trend injection. Instead, Deceiver of the Gods still lay in the foundation of melodic death where Amon Amarth being in for almost two decades.

Deceiver Of The Gods, come without too many decorations for the intro. This is straightforward power metal with a death vocal in perform. Familiar fast drum beat, attacking guitar riffs and in the middle, a Metallica-like one word choruses all give a damn good promising opener. The story continue, As Loke Falls not differed much. Still with a wave of guitar licks attack, the song smoothly run on traditional death metal foundation. Amon Amarth is actually sounds very much power metal, it's just the vocal that falls them into death metal category, listen to the intro in Father Of The Wolf and the song in a whole to get a more 'power' elements. But then the other side, the more brutal, 'death' feel can be found in Blood Eagle. Which is actually lead the latter part of the album into darker nuances. In track Hel, there come a guest singer from Candlemass, Messiah Marcolin. Received the last fastest track on Coming Of The Tide to be followed by ending epic Warriors of the North, then we done.

Sounds pretty tight, without too many variation of each songs, but Deceiver of the Gods is consistent on its heaviness. The album gradually faster and darker from early songs till the last one. Compare to the previous release Surfer Rising, this is still a strong continuation on music and theme. The style of Amon Amarth is a compromise in between death and power metal. So if you like both, then probably this is the band to follow. Singer Johan Hegg's voices is 'death' enough to pleased the fans on hardcore side, while the instrumentations with twin guitars attack sounds more 'power metal'. If you following, Amon Amarth also labelled as Viking Metal , or something like that. Make sure to read some of Nordic mythology before listen to Deceiver of the Gods!

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

Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods (2013)
Buy it HERE - Amazon

1. Deceiver Of The Gods
2. As Loke Falls
3. Father Of The Wolf
4. Shape Shifter
5. Under Siege
6. Blood Eagle
7. We Shall Destroy
8. Hel - featuring Messiah Marcolin (Candlemass)
9. Coming Of The Tide
10. Warriors of the North

Deluxe Released

01.Burning Anvil of Steel 04:27
02.Satan Rising 04:20
03.Snake Eyes 03:12
04.Stand Up to Go Down 03:28

Johan Hegg - Vocals
Ted Lundström - Bass
Johan Söderberg - Guitar
Olavi Mikkonen - Guitar
Fredrik Andersson - Drums
Record Label: Metal Blade Records

Amon Amarth Deceiver of the Gods album review


Masterplan - Novum Initium (2013)

Masterplan was once a side project formed by ex Helloween drummer Uli Kusch. Back then, his main jamming partner was none other than Roland Grapow, of ex Helloween as well. The band then undergo line up juggling with some of notable names in metal. Uli Kusch then resigned, replaced by Mike Terrana, but then Mike himself resign, so now the current drummer is Martin "Marthus" Skaroupka, of ex Mantas and Cradle of Filth band. Then in singer position, Masterplan had gone with proposal for names such as Michael Kiske, Russel Allen, Mike DiMeo and Jorn Lande. Michael Kiske and Russel Allen declined the regular offer but contributed in guest singer. Mike DiMeo (of Riot) then joined, to be followed later by Jorn Lande himself. Now it is Rick Altzi (of At Vance) taking care as Masterplan current singer. With such scramble line up, Masterplan did manage to uplift a strong name for power metal act for more than ten years now. Founder Roland Grapow is leading the team to released their 2013 album called Nova Initium. In this album, new bassist Jari Kainulainen of ex Stratovarius is part of their super team, in serve also long time keyboardist Axel Mackenrott (Gamma Ray, Megadeth).

According to Wikipedia, Per Aspera Ad Astra is something similar with a meaning 'no pains no gains'. So, that's the working title for the instrumental intro for Novum Initium. The Game is the first song. With thick power metal, the song is not about dragon or war. Instead The Game fit nicely to a lyric of life struggling, motivational theme. Keep Your Dream Alive is another nice cut. Not the heaviest track but instead Keep Your Dream Alive give a rather mellow feel, good verses and choruses, the song is again motivational theme.  Black Night Of Magic yet a neo-classical feel intro but turn into melodic metal, the lyric in chorus again fit nicely to the melody. Trying to break the flow, Betrayal come with different texture, with zither-like intro to begin a hard-rock feel tunes. Further in, Pray On My Soul is another creative opening composition. A standard catchy power metal feel can be found in Return From Avalon. The album ended with ten minutes composition on the album title track, Novum Initium.

So far, Novum Initium sounds like having more character than previously Time To Be King. Roland Grapow put a lot of works to make the songs not sounds as generic power metal. They success in avoiding pitfall of cheesiness and bombastic. There is no too bombastic track in here. The significant elements are their dynamic song writing, really the real emphasize had gone to the vocal line than the instrumental. Most songs are memorable, especially in the chorus and due to clever lyric writing. The musicians them self are really need little to compliments. Drummer Martin Skaroupka is showing versatile skill, listen to Pray On My Soul where the song come from interesting pattern to all the way to Dream Theater's Nightmare to Remember groove. Of course this album also special for Rick Altzi's present, he has no problem rendering the style in this album. Also the orchestration jobs is great, we have a dominant synth melody as well when it only need to stay background, same thing to say about the last working team mate, bassist Jari is busy covering the lower notes for Roland Grapow.

Taking that their ex comrades just released album in Jorn's Traveller, then a Spaniard invasion with Dark Moor's Ars Musica, this album is able to differed from that two. In fact all three albums are complementary to each other. So, a solid month for power metal fans, Masterplan Novum Initium is a worth collection to grab.

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

Masterplan - Novum Initium (2013)

1. Per Aspera Ad Astra
2. The Game
3. Keep Your Dream Alive
4. Black Night Of Magic
5. Betrayal
6. No Escape
7. Pray On My Soul
8. Earth Is Going Down
9. Return From Avalon
10. Through Your Eyes
11. Novum Initium

Rick Altzi – Vocals (At Vance, Herman Frank, Thunderstone)
Roland Grapow – Guitars (ex-Helloween)
Jari Kainulainen – Bass (ex-Symfonia, ex-Evergrey, ex-Killing Machine, ex-Kotipelto, ex-Stratovarius)
Martin “Marthus” Skaroupka – Drums (Cradle of Filth, Mantas)
Axel Mackenrott – Keyboards (ex-Beautiful Sin, ex-Gamma Ray)
Record Label: AFM Records

Masterplan Novum Initium album review


Dark Moor - Ars Musica (2013)

One of strongest name in neo-classical / symphonic metal, here comes again Dark Moor. This time is their ninth studio album, Ars Musica, readily in June 2013. First, I like the cover artwork. It's inspiring, a child playing violin in abandoned rooftop storage room. So, that's the first impression on this album, Dark Moor to once again leading us to their imaginative musical adventure. The styles dominating this release is still the same, symphonic and neo-classical influence metal, bombastic and a guitar shred experiences.

The intro, fully orchestrated Ars Musica, is a promising start, readily to spoiled symphonic-head with a guarantee bombastic power metal. Prepared for upcoming blast, is First Lance of Spain. The intro riff + orchestration layer is one of Dark Moor's best trademark for nearly 20 years. So Alfred Romero come in front of the mic, together with ex-Kamelot Roy Khan, he seems to share the same voice timbre, a standard in power metal. Coming more anthemic is This is My Way, for a second this is sounds like a metalized AOR tunes. Which is making this even more emotional effect for the song. Interestingly, this approach continued to The Road Again. Is this the new, rather tame, melodic metal of new Dark Moor? Only now, the intensity slowly rise again, until we met The City of Peace, which is again a melodic metal with good song writing. Gara & Jonay comes as a ballad, where a piano charmingly accompanying Alfred Romero in the style of '80 metal ballad. Now that we passed five 'slower' tempo songs, Living in a Nightmare is put the pace back to metal. As in tradition, Dark Moor throw in a neo-classical licks to their arsenal, something like Rimsky-Korsakov's Bumblebee - like melody. The next song, El último rey comes with native language lyric, an opera house feel. We then have the last song Asturias in a good neo-classical, Phrygian theme, instrumental climax. Two more bonuses tracks with different music theme and we finished.

Sure we can count Dark Moor for the loudest symphonic metal. But I feel Ars Musica is a bit of leaning to their melodic part, as half of the album seems like a calm down. Ars Musica still feel much more bombastic than to their last album, Ancestral Romance. Ars Musica having wider variety for good, especially with acoustic version of The Road Again (which I am reminded to DragonForce's Season). Not an album you would like to skip, if Symphonic Metal is your stuff.

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

Dark Moor - Ars Musica (2013)
Buy It Here - AMAZON

1. Ars Musica (2:05)
2. First Lance of Spain (4:57)
3. This is my Way (4:09)
4. The Road Again (4:32)
5. Together as Ever (4:43)
6. The City of Peace (4:00)
7. Gara & Jonay (4:16)
8. Living in a Nightmare (4:12)
9. El último rey (5:07)
10. Saint James' Way (3:59)
11. Asturias (5:22)
12. The Road Again (Acoustic Version) (Bonus Track) (2:37)
13. Living in a Nightmare (Orchestral Version) (Bonus Track) (4:11)

Alfred Romero - Vocals
Enrik Garcia - Guitars
Roberto Cappa - Drums
Mario García González - Bass
Record Label: Scarlet Records

Dark Moor with their latest symphonic metal album, Ars Musica, album review


Jorn - Traveller 2013

Jorn seems to enter 2013 without much appearances as guest vocalist any elsewhere. This enable him with greater amount of time to work on his personal store, as Jorn. Traveller is our 2013, the eighth studio albums, if we count excluding live or greatest hits album. The latest, known, released by Jorn was Symphonic, an orchestra adaptation on his works. As productive as he is, we just passed 2012 with Bring Heavy Rock to The Land, so what kind of materials will present on Traveller now?

For a starter, the cover artwork is great, leading us to anticipated a concept album direction. As usual, the style on this album is straight forward heavy metal. Jorn backing musician use a commonly heard riffs just to lay a backing tracks for Jorn singing. So yes, the vocal's parts are what matter. Overload is a very usual starter, with bass intro dictating the next intro phrases then to enter Jorn. Cancer Demon is more Axel Rudi Pell's sliding riff things. Those two seems an appetizer for the main dishes, Traveller is headbanging melodious song, memorable verses and choruses. For an album that the listener mostly not much interested in the instrumentation, the team actually put enough effort to maximize their support, song Window Maker is interesting instrumentation. Then a rather hard rocker beat in Make Your Engine Scream on the fifth track. The rest of album all follow the same pattern, a few bar of riffs to follow with Jorn's actions. Only the final track is different from the rest as this is semi acoustic ballad, in The Man Who Was King, which is again a tribute to Jorn's idol, Ronnie Dio.

If you like to have a follow up from previous album Bring Heavy Rock To The Land, this Traveller is kind of part II of it. The latest information is, Jorn leaving his symphonic metal band, Masterplan. He also not involved in Tobias Sammet's Avantasia, so Traveller could be the right thing to have if you just happen to missed his voices. The new guitarist Trond Holter join Jorn in song writing. Although the instrumentation is something 'basic', the union between backing music and vocal is now very compact, leaving you to immediately recall the vocal line just by listening the intro. Neat released by one of hard working heavy metal singer of this day.

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

Jorn - Traveller 2013

01. Overload (5:21)
02. Cancer Demon (4:28)
03. Traveller (5:38)
04. Window Maker (4:26)
05. Make Your Engine Scream (4:12)
06. Legend Man (4:01)
07. Carry The Black (6:09)
08. Rev On (4:43)
09. Monsoon (4:20)
10. The Man Who Was King (5:52)

Jørn Lande Vocals
'Wild' Willy Bendiksen Drums (Bad Habitz, Blonde On Blonde, St.Helena)
Jimmy Iversen Guitars (Bad Habitz, Blonde On Blonde)
Bernt Jansen Bass (Wig Wam)
Trond Holter  Lead Guitars (Wig Wam)


Civil War - The Killer Angels 2013

Here another band that underestimated the power of having unique (and good) band's name. Civil War as the band name is cool, but then again the internet is hoard with this term, especially if the band's album name is The Killer Angels, which also tied in with Civil War as a popular novel. As the internet search results pointed out,  this band still can't beat the popularity of that novel. So this at very least annoying in trying to find quick information about the band. In comparison to say, Sabaton, which is the one and only one user of that respective word. Curse-ly, Civil War has one other interesting fact, they are alumni of Sabaton. In a good spirit to not followed Luca Turilli's style of having another Sabaton franchise, these four guys decided to wear new cloak of power metal as, well, Civil War.

Musically, they are power metal in its most serious form. Pretty similar to Sabaton of course, except the vocalist now sounds very Jorn Lande-ism. In contrast to Sabaton's Joakim Broaden whose bass-invading voices. Civil War's singer, Nils Patrik Johansson is pretty much middle ranger, and for most important concern, fit Civil War's music very well. This debut album The Killer Angels started with a song King Of The Sun. To differentiated them from all the dragon slaying power metal, the usage of fast double pedal beat is not applied to all. This replaced with 'war' beat, slower, and troop marching feel. So, that's their trademark. The strongest usage of this approach is in their hits I Will Rule The Universe, found in the middle part of the album. Still majority of the album played in faster tempo, First to Fight come as rather dark song. Saint Patrick's Day is catchy with folk-alike intro melody, interesting marching band drumming. Rome Is Falling tries to go epic with story driven song writing. It is also the song benefit the most from the power chanting in backing vocals. Son Of Avalon is the fastest track, double pedal storming song. The present of keyboard to added third melodious voice beside the duo guitarist can be listen in Lucifer's Court. In Brother Judas, the chorus is in interesting changed of chord that can tickling the ear for its musical tonic jump. My Own Worst Enemy later come with strong chorus as well, very memorable. The last track then fall into calm, folk feel drumming, Gettysburg.

About forty six minutes listening time, which is all come with good materials. It was worth for the companion to break from Sabaton to produced something like this. Taking that Sabaton's owned Carolus Rex was a strong album last year, it is speculated to imagine how well if both parties still as one union. The album enjoyable for its outstanding singer voices. The guitars works are complementary each other, with bass and drummer escorting the tempo imaginatively. Another strong power metal album with military theme from Civil War, if only they come out with stronger band's name I think it will help stand out them more easily.

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

Civil War - The Killer Angels 2013
Buy it HERE

01. King Of The Sun
02. First To Fight
03. Saint Patrick's Day
04. Rome Is Falling
05. Sons Of Avalon
06. I Will Rule The Universe
07. Lucifer's Court
08. Brother Judas
09. My Own Worst Enemy
10. Gettysburg

-Nils Patrik Johansson - Vocals
(Astral Doors, Lion's Share, Ruined Soul, Wuthering Heights, ex-Richard Andersson's Space Odyssey)
-Rikard Sundén - Guitars (ex-Sabaton, ex-Deals Death)
-Oskar Montelius - Guitars (ex-Sabaton)
-Stefan "Pizza" Eriksson - Bass
(Volturyon, Hell Patrol, ex-Contortion, ex-Magog, ex-Cryonic Temple, ex-Evangeli)
-Daniel Mÿhr - Keyboards (ex-Sabaton)
-Daniel Mullback - Drums (ex-Sabaton)

Civil War EP and The Killer angels album review


Simone Fiorletta - Personalities (2013)

An instrumental guitar album with lots of shred and progressive ideas to grab. This is Personalities, fifth solo released by Italian guitarist Simone Fiorletta. Simone was mainly recognized from his works with progressive band Moonlight Comedy and No Gravity. His solos careers is what more colorful with already five solo albums. Not much differed from the past, Simone continue the collaboration with high profile musicians such as Andrea de Paoli keyboardist of Labyrinth. This album also something special with larger contributions of guest musicians, see the details below for a fantastic line up musicians of new generation. For example, John Macaluso, drummer who just recorded a decent album with Mastercastle and now touring with Symphony X. Then guitarist Fabrizio Leo and many others.

The line up of instrumental songs are differed in several styles. Heavy metal chops can be found in track Ascent, and then goes progressive with Thirty and Docktor Jekyll And Mister Hide. The other major styles is simple a melodic hard rock ala '80 Shrapnel years in Waiting To See You Again, April 14th 2010, Unconditional Love and catchy tunes in Bottom Line. Simone also inserted many experimental styles that show his versatility over the fret boards, Your Grit Is My Reason Of Life is a fast neo classical tunes. Notable is To The Station with rather chicken picking country feel and very funky In Time Of War. The package then closed with solo acoustic cut of a cover song titled You And I.

Of many enjoyable tunes, my favorites are April 14th,2010 and Doctor Jekyll And Mister Hide. Surely this album will easily accepted by shred mania for its high quality of music. Bassist Dino Fiorenza, which a hired gun for many guitarist such as Chris Bickley, is one of great contributors to make this album colorful and musically rich. Stay tune and enjoy the wide imagination of music via this album, which best titled as "Personalities".

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

Simone Fiorletta - Personalities (2013)
buy it HERE

01. Ascent
02. Your Grit Is My Reason Of Life, neo melodic
03. Waiting To See You Again, melodic hard rock
04. April 14th 2010, melodic hard rock - mellow
05. Bottom Line, '80s hard rock
06. Thirty, progressive,
07. Unconditional Love, aor
08. Doctor Jekyll And Mister Hide, progressive
09. To The Station , chicken picking country
10. In Time Of War, funk
11. You And I (At The Weekends cover) , acoustic

Simone Fiorletta – all guitars, keyboards and programming
Mario Riso (Rezophonic – RockTv – Movida) – track 04
John Macaluso (Yngwie Malmsteen – James Labrie – ARK) – track 02,03,06
Marco Aiello – track 01,05,07,08,10
Alessandro Spaziani – track 09
bass and guitars:
Dino Fiorenza
Luigi Sardellitti – track 09
Davide Perruzza (No Gravity) - guitars track 02
Fabrizio Leo (Renato Zero – Laura Pausini) guitars on track 05
Andrea De Paoli (Labyrinth) on track 09

Simone Fiorletta Personalities album review


The Winery Dogs - 2013

As much as I can't wait for new MP, and BS, new works, I am much more longed for a new Richie Kotzen's! After exploring in heavy metal (Adrenaline Mob), blues rock (Flying Colors), Progressive Rock (Neil Morse and Jam session with Tony MacAlpine, Derek Sherinian), Mike Portnoy found another new supergroup, The Winery Dogs. This time is a trio, with Billy and Richie, the music very closed to what past Richie Kotzen hard rock works. I familiar with Kotzen's vocal albums my favorite collections are, Break It All Down, Wave of Emotion and my last perhaps in Gundam's Ai Senshi. This Winery Dogs project did not differed much from that stuffs, only now with excessive drum fills and audible funky bass slaps.

As commonly found in Richie's works, the songs are mostly short, 3 to 4 minutes lengths. Richie's falsetto vocals somehow found a good independent writing without disturbing his guitar playing. This is what guarantee us that the musics is not 'dictate' by the rhythms. Songs are mostly in the same quality, Elevate comes rocking as single and it's a good choice with complete elements of trio. Guitar chops followed by bombastic bass-ing and powerful Dream Theater wanna be drum fills. We Are One found a spot of exploring all trio's instruments in funky wah-wah backing guitars. I'm No Angel is blues driven slower tempo tunes, and now the vocals do a nice unison with rhythm guitar, an exception. The Other Side show the power of Portnoy and Sheehan rhythms, then the song followed the created beat in sync. You Saved Me always a good way to explore modern pop rock ballad. Several short jamming to follow, then Six Feet Deeper is something funky remind you to the funk metal Extreme works, with Nuno Bettencourt inspired riffs. Something unusual is The Dying which is more ballad type, again demonstrate independency between vocals and guitars. And a old times blues closed the album in Regret, also with piano now.

So it's a good news for Kotzen's fans, this is just like his new album with Portnoy and Sheehan volunteering behind. Trio Mike, Billy and Richie in good chemistry creating almost flawless guitar orientated blues-hard-rock album with excellent vocals. If this project need to bring alive I really hope there will be extra guitar players as the rhythm guitars is very well written as well. I imagine somebody like Nuno Bettencourt or Andy Timmons will fit perfectly, perhaps as guest guitarist, but oh well what a day dream.

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

The Winery Dogs 2013
Buy it HERE

1. Elevate
2. Desire
3. We Are One
4. I’m No Angel
5. The Other Side
6. You Saved Me
7. Not Hopeless
8. One More Time
9. Damaged
10. Six Feet Deeper
11. Criminal
12. The Dying
13. Regret

Richie Kotzen – Lead Vocals / Lead Guitar
Billy Sheehan – Bass / Vocals
Mike Portnoy – Drums / Vocals
Record Label: Whd Entertainment Inc.

Self titled, The Winery Dogs album review


Black Sabbath - 13 (2013)

Forty five years, that's how long Black Sabbath being existed on this planet, if we count from year 1968. With this number, listener to their first album supposedly age 20, is now around 65+. So, what's the music Black Sabbath going to offer to the late adult listeners? They were not going into Deep Purple transformation with all new sounds, but instead just do the same music Black Sabbath did forty years ago. In the plan to not let old fans disappoint but try to experiment with newer music as well. Yes, Black Sabbath new 2013 album, "13" will easy to place among their '70 catalog. The music still menacing doom-ish, riffs are still upfront as leading accompaniment, then Ozzy is back. 13 answered old fans' called for new album and also cleverly put in modern sounds to it.

End of the Beginning is the opening song, slow tempo, doom metal feel with Ozzy topping the music with his characteristic voices. A long building up verses leads to section 2 riff and headbanging can start at this point. A strong opening for such a long waiting time of new Black Sabbath song. The single, God Is Dead? is a good hit, melodic doom ballad if we need to describe the song. Running at almost nine minutes the song sure repeated enough to get the choruses sink in our head. Loner is catchy riff with '70s with opening line, "He just a loner....", that describe rebellion, leather jeans and pubescent spirits. Interesting is a ballad Zeitgeist, with acoustic guitar, basses and percussion, hypnotizing us with Ozzy higher pitch singing. Come next to Age of Reason which is again Black Sabbatian tone back to our nostalgic '70 times. Helping drummer Brad Wilk, comes with valuable composition as this is a very drum orientated piece. Live Forever back to straight forward style, Iommi's guitar tone are in comfortable hi technology distortion, now if you imagine this song's riff done in Iommi's '70 tones.... Damaged Soul is a prove this album gone a good time of song writing, as this song no.8 still offer interesting song writing, without the feel of just a filler to completed a comeback album. Damaged Soul has a nice groove and singing line that also memorable, completed with bluesy solos. We are closed with one more heavy doom song in Dear Father.

There is no reason not to like this album. '13', not only offer a strong memorable moments in almost every song, Black Sabbath also capture back their trademark very easily. With Black Sabbath's alternate universe with Ronnie James Dio now came to the end, we only can hope the legacy continue with Ozzy. This is what exactly happening in '13'. The production under Rick Rubin is a good job. The quartet's sounds engineered in clear way, we can listen Geezer Butler moving finger under the layer of guitar distortion. Of course it's impossible to beat their old catalog by this released, but for a long waited album, 13 can do more than just acceptable.

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

Black Sabbath - 13 (2013)
buy it here at Amazon

1. End of the Beginning (8:07)
2. God Is Dead? (8:54)
3. Loner (5:06)
4. Zeitgeist (4:28)
5. Age of Reason (7:02)
6. Live Forever (4:49)
8. Damaged Soul (7:43)
9. Dear Father (7:06)
Methademic 5:57
Peace of Mind 3:40
Pariah  5:34
Naïveté in Black 3:50

Tony Iommi – guitar
Ozzy Osbourne – lead vocals, harmonica on "Damaged Soul"
Geezer Butler – bass guitar
Session members
Brad Wilk – drums
Rick Rubin – production

Black Sabbath newest 2013 album, 13 Review


Tristania - Darkest White 2013

This septet from Norway is best known for their earlier works such as Beyond the Veil and World of Glass. We then see the band undergo member changes and then leaving their gothic metal roots, pretty much going to wider audiences, radio friendly road. On their latest work is Darkest White, out in 2013. This album continue the later Tristania sounds, but styles are blur than ever.

Number is tight black metal tunes with shrieking vocal takes the opening lead, to be followed is the female soprano voice thus making this a trademark three voices Tristania setup. Little by little, Tristanis dismissed their eclectic approach, when mixing gothic, death / black growling and symphony metal in their earlier works. This song Number is no more symphonic but toward black metal with extra operatic female voices, in lieu to gothic as main style. Darkest White is interesting darker tune, the riff sounds raw and hardly can imagine this is a band that need a female singer in it. Himmelfall is another mid tempo but groovy song. The song writing is good and the lower voices singing just fit it, finally with Mariangela joining in the chorus just added the extra multiple climaxes. Requiem saw them sing in normal composition, plain and just depend on their song writing. A good 'normal' song that give the female singer the main spotlight, after three tracks passed away. Some other songs in the rest of album alternating between going gothic, Diagnosis, Cathedral, and going experimental with black metal, alternative, to even stoner feel such as in Lavender. The final song Arteries bring back the heavy and fast tempo to close this album with enough bang.

It is hard to see this album as one single styles. It is also something redundant now to think Tristania as female fronted band, with pretty members actually. The male vocals takes the majority of the materials in Darkest White. To make thing more complicated, Tristania's guitarist, miss Gyri Losnegaard added more feminine to the band image. Darkest White did better than what happening in Rubicon, but again different from what we know in Beyond the Veil era. This is practically a new music direction and I feel Tristania at pretty wide crossroad, whether to be in extreme metal or stay in gothic or even move to alternative metal path. For now, Darkest White offer interesting line up materials with variety of styles. If you looking for uncompromising different types of gothic-death-doom-alternative metal, this could be your destined recording.

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

Tristania - Darkest White 2013
Buy it HERE at Amazon

1. Number
2. Darkest White
3. Himmelfall
4. Requiem
5. Diagnosis
6. Scarling
7. Night On Earth
8. Cathedral
9. Lavender
10. Cypher
11. Arteries

Mariangela Demurtas - Vocals
Kjetil Nordhus - Vocals
Anders Høyvik Hidle – Guitar / Vocals
Ole Vistnes – Bass / Backing Vocals
Gyri Losnegaard - Guitar
Einar Moen - Keyboards
Tarald Lie Jr. - Drums
Record Label: Napalm Records

Tristania Darkest White album review
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