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


Place Vendome - Thunder In The Distance (2013)

For many Michael Kiske projects, Place Vendome is kinda underrated. For me, Place Vendome was actually Kiske's project that I most favorite. This project started with part of Cream 69 members, creating a new AOR band with Kiske as the singer. Their first album self titled Place Vendome was a strong release, I like most of the songs there. Street of Fire was also good although not as original as the first one. So now, their 2013 album is Thunder In The Distance. I can tell you the album title itself already epic, not to say the cover art is well done. On this album, original drummer was step down and replaced by Dirk Bruinenberg.

Talk To Me is a strong AOR song. It is by far the best hit in this album with emotional flow of AOR feel. By the way, unlike other album with one composer creating song to be performed by several singers, Place Vendome's Thunder In  The Distance take the opposite. The song were composed by several notable song writer, then solely performed by Michael Kiske. Interesting. Because we can see how the song writer such as Alessandro Del Vecchio, Magnus Karlson or Timo Tolkki adjusted their writing to fit Michael Kiske's styles. This album also see more heavy tunes with thick synthesizer elements. Such as Broken Wings is intense and melodious. Lost In Paradise is interesting Timo Tolkki's song, the power metal feel is there and remind us to Revolution Renaissance's feel. In fact Michael Kiske participated in Timo's Avalon project just months prior. This song however best suit Michael Kiske with all its high pitch galore. It Can't Rain Forever is pop AOR tunes, actually a bit of too simple for Michael Kiske. Fragile Ground is further experimenting with easy listening verses, then goes into well connected choruses. Back to Alessandro Del Vecchio's songs, Hold Your Love and Never Too Late are catchy AOR tunes. Then there also contributing song by Magnus Karlsson in Breakout. Goes into standard '80s hard rock feel in the memory of Journey and Bad English. Thunder In The Distance closed the album with much more energetic AOR melody.

Part of the album consisted of modern synthesizer aided AOR tunes, while the other part is faithful oldies feel songs. Still it's melody is up to the standard of Place Vendome, but not much epic as their debut. Talk To Me is winning song here, while the rest come as enjoyable song.  Guitars and instrumental works are fantastic and they do hard to rise the standard for each song with amazing melodies. Good album to have, especially for the sake sole purpose of listening Michael Kiske singing.

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

Place Vendome - Thunder In The Distance (2013)

1. Talk To Me (4:03 Alessandro Del Vecchio)
2. Power Of Music (4:03 Alessandro Del Vecchio)
3. Broken Wings (4:20 Brett Jones)
4. Lost In Paradise (3:53 Timo Tolkki)
5. It Can't Rain Forever (4:05 Soren Kronqvist, Camilla Andersson, Thomas Vikstrom)
6. Fragile Ground (4:10 Brett Jones)
7. Hold Your Love (4:35 Alessandro Del Vecchio)
8. Never Too Late (3:30 Alessandro Del Vecchio)
9. Heaven Lost (4:40 Alessandro Del Vecchio, Carmine Martone)
10. My Heart Is Dying (3:07 Tommy Denander, Nina Soderqvis)
11. Breakout (4:34 Magnus Karlsson)
12. Maybe Tomorrow (4:24 Andrea Cantarelli & Roberto Tiranti)
13. Thunder In The Distance (4:20 Alessandro Del Vecchio)
14. Maybe Tomorrow (Orchestral Version) (Japan Bonus Track) (2:40)

    Michael Kiske - Vocals
    Dennis Ward - Bass guitar
    Uwe Reitenauer - Guitars
    Gunther Werno - Keyboards
    Dirk Bruinenberg - Drums

Magnus Karlsson, Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline), Tommy Denander (Radioactive), Roberto Tiranti and Andrea Cantarelli (Labyrinth), Sören Kronqvist (Sunstorm) and Brett Jones.

Place Vendome Thunder in the Distance review

Hamerex IX - 2013

Well, every now and then we'll need a new blood, a newcomer for metal. This time, I picked Hamerex as our 'introduction of band'. They actually had been around since 2004 though, lead by guitarist Steve Blower. In 2012 a full debut album was released and today, "IX" is their second album. Now, do you believe that in the last decade, heavy metal had gone too technical. New band are crafting heavy metal music solely because they able to play technically difficult riffs and solos. This approach led metal into a risk for being 'soul-less', being just a genre of music with technical skill similar to sports. Album "IX" was not in that case. I do not mean that the Hamerex dudes can't do technical stuffs, but it is for sure this album's strength is not its shreds parts or blasting drums. The guitar playing was actually simple. The drumming, also simple. Even the changes of themes in their 'composition' are simple. In short, IX, is a simple heavy metal album.

Of course now, can you make good music if everything gone simple? Yes, they can. In a positive word, they use a natural rhythms and melodies that spontaneous flows in. And that is their strength. The first track is in fact, an instrumental.  Do not expected mind blowing solos, this is an instrumental that feel really ancient compared to nowadays standard. It is clear that the influence on the track IX Circles was Iron Maiden earlier day instrumental tracks such as Transylvania or The Ides of March, except minus Dave Murray's sweet melodies. In fact, the band did have Iron Maiden's The Wickerman as one of their repertoire, so conclusion, the influence is strong. The Life of Death is also sounds really Jurassic era, with intrigue riffs to start with. The song is just build from simple riffs, we then meet the vocal that has a characters as slightly growl, now it does sounds good and metal by the way. The song quickly give us the feel that although the beat is rather flat, they do have enough chances of chord progression that make it interesting. Again, the solos was not mean to blow your mind, it just ... raw. Inferno is also begin with easy to learn riffs. This song rather over-repeated, they have a good theme but just gone too long. The chances between intro-riff into 2nd theme and then the slow-bass-line theme has potentials. Good news is, started from Edge of Madness, the song begin to improve. This song have a good NWOBHM vocal line. The Extremist is their heaviest so far, this time a bit of punk-ish feel. Then Mortuary, which is very vintage feel with almost no hint that we are listening to 2013 year of metal. The Stranger is something excellent, which is a success in connecting the intro riffs into the song naturally.  Descent of Angels is a bit too generic, least appealing track perhaps. Now, if you eat my words that this album is simple, The Night of Samhain is their most 'progressive' track. Runs in 11 minutes now it's the time to do some tricks. Addition of strings give this song kind of hybrid between Iron Maiden and Queensrÿche, really.

Since they are only a single guitarist band, band mate bassist Andy Firth enjoy his a good time fronting his bass line in great manner for each song. Darren Kelsall drumming is only as simple as it needed. Chris Moules as singer is their best attractions, his vocal got the potentials. The sounds of this album , however, just too raw. The sounds simply "made in garage" style. Which is to be honest, got nothing to do with the quality of their music, in fact those who are sound purist will love their sounds. Hamerex  "IX" is a promising second released. Listen to this album a couple of times, the music will easily sink and memorable. Keep an eyes of them.

Metal Harem class: Top Newcomer of 2013

Hamerex IX - 2013
Buy it here at Amazon

1. IX Circles 02:20
2. The Life of Death 04:46
3. Inferno 06:29
4. Edge of Madness 05:16
5. The Extremist 03:30
6. Mortuary 03:37
7. The Stranger 05:58
8. Descent of Angels 03:36
9. The Night of Samhain 11:03
10. Still the Wall Remains 06:11

Steve Blower Guitars
Chris Moules Vocals
Andy Firth Bass
Darren Kelsall Drums

 Hamerex IX album review


Ayreon - The Theory of Everything (2013)

Aaarg... This is a difficult album to review. The reason is Ayreon music is just too complex, it's difficult to give a comment on each song unless we go track by track. The Theory of Everything is the eight studio album, an opera of metal music as always. After his last album 01011001 the first Ayreon story was actually reach the end, so this album is a new tale. Arjen Anthony Lucassen is hiring again. Interesting line up of vocalists and instrumentalist. Now that we know the gathering of super star is quite usual nowday, in 2013 we already see Avantasia, Timo Tolkki's Avalon and some others. In Ayreon line up we mostly see fresh singer such as Tommy Karevik who did excellent in Kamelot, Sara Squadrani as main female lead, and many others. In instrumentalist, it's crazier with YES and ELP keyboardist on board and Jordan Rudess, who been busy lately with DT and side jobs.

The Theory of Everything is basically four compositions with interesting movements title. The first phase is Singularity. On The Theory Of Everything part I,  we introduced to the main theme. It's story started simply but intrique with the Teacher and the Girl introducing the Prodigy.  Very familiar tunes as it's something like The Human Equation:Isolation theme. This phase mostly just an 'introductionary' where the storyline that over the music pretty much. Only in The Teacher's Discovery we turn into contrasting theme with different set of scale. Progressive Waves is mostly mostly variation movement without voices, enjoy the battle of keyboardist. And the phase I simply finished after this climax with the main theme repeated.
Phase II: Symmetry, this phase even more focus on the vocal parts. See how in The Consultation the opera-type of singing make things difficult in the instrumentation department. From Diagnosis to Potential is dedicated to developed the dialog. Quantum Chaos is the 'solos' movement. It ended the phase with The Predictions, which is making things hanging and unresolved.

Phase III: Entanglement, as in the templates 2nd movement Transformation is where the main theme introduced. Unlike the first two phase where things a bit slow and light, in Collision we getting heavier and faster. The duet male character taking the show under this movement. We interrupted briefly by Frequency Modulation as a bridge into the sub part. Then String Theory is likely the solos movement with Fortune? ended the phase, again in unresolved situation. Phase IV: Unification, is to be the last phase and expected most interesting one. It's started quickly, Mirror Of Dreams introduced the main theme. It's more lyrical or in the term of heavy metal, more melodic. A bass house music beat starts The Lighthouse, to be the calm before the storm feeling type. This phase begin to quote the previous phase, as in the Argument part II, we again recall the dialogue between the Mother and the Father, with his high pitch voices. We reach the beginning of the last, start with the Breakthrough. The conflicts between the Prodigy and the Rival come to happy ending. Dark Energy start with something victory theme so we know the ending is near. Because we back to the grand main theme in The Theory of Everything part III. Ok folks, light on , but enjoy the last reprise to the Blackboard that basically, again, make the story open ended.

Basically this is an album with pretty heavy storyline and the music did put aside for a little. There is not much highlight of musical, as in say, The Human Equation. So we will mostly remember the vocal song, rather than the instrumentation, except for the main theme. Excellent work by Arjen, he able to starts a new Ayreon project with pretty much same quality as their predecessor. A sequel is to be expected.

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

Ayreon - The Theory of Everything (2013)
Buy it HERE - Amazon

Disc I
Disc II
01. Phase I: Singularity
01. Phase III: Entanglement
    1 - Prologue: The Blackboard
    1 - Fluctuations
    2 - The Theory Of Everything [I]
    2 - Transformation
    3 - Patterns
    3 - Collision
    4 - The Prodigy's World
    4 - Side Effects
    5 - The Teacher's Discovery
    5 - Frequency Modulation
    6 - Love And Envy
    6 - Magnetism
    7 - Progressive Waves
    7 - Quid Pro Quo
    8 - The Gift
    8 - String Theory
    9 - The Eleventh Dimension
    9 - Fortune?
    10 - Inertia

    11 - The Theory Of Everything [Part II]

02. Phase II: Symmetry
02. Phase IV: Unification
    1 - The Consultation
    1 - Mirror Of Dreams
    2 - Diagnosis
    2 - The Lighthouse
    3 - The Argument I
    3 - The Argument II
    4 - The Rival's Dilemma
    4 - The Parting
    5 - Surface Tension
    5 - The Visitation
    6 - A Reason To Live
    6 - The Breakthrough
    7 - Potential
    7 - The Note
    8 - Quantum Chaos
    8 - The Uncertainty Principle
    9 - Dark Medicine
    9 - Dark Energy
    10 - Alive!
    10 - The Theory Of Everything [Part III]
    11 - The Prediction
    11 - The Blackboard [reprise]

Arjen Anthony Lucassen – electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards

JB (Grand Magus) as The Teacher
Sara Squadrani (Ancient Bards) as The Girl
Michael Mills (Toehider) as The Father
Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) as The Mother
Tommy Karevik (Kamelot, Seventh Wonder) as The Prodigy
Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot) as The Rival
John Wetton (Asia, King Crimson) as The Psychiatrist

Ed Warby (Hail of Bullets, Gorefest) – drums
Ben Mathot (Dis) –violin
Rick Wakeman (Yes) – keyboards
Keith Emerson (Emerson Lake and Palmer) – keyboards
Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) – keyboards
Steve Hackett (Genesis) – lead guitar
Troy Donockley (Nightwish) – Whistles, Uilleann pipes
Maaike Peterse (Kingfisher Sky) – cello
Jeroen Goossens (Flairck) – flute and other woodwinds
Siddharta Barnhoorn – orchestrations
Michael Mills (Toehider) – Irish Bouzouki
Wilmer Waarbroek – backing vocals

Ayreon Theory of Everything album review


Metal Church - Generation Nothing (2013)

In the line of early thrash metal bands that didn't made it into Big Four or Big Ten something... Metal Church is my favorite. Believe me The Dark was one of epic thrash metal album in the earliest form. The band did not much proceed into more mainstream audiences, mainly because they stick to their basic form and did not evolved much in the late '80s, unlike Metallica, Megadeth or Anthrax.  But, if you know your thrash metal stuff, Metal Church should be a one of the name you respected. Going forward to our years, of course Metal Church too difference by now. Generation Nothing is their tenth studio album, released 2013. Notable because this is their 'comeback' album ever since the band proclaimed an inactivity after the album This Present Wasteland. Ho-ray, at least one more classic thrash metal band come back to life.

Curiously, let listen to the songs. Bulletproof is really a standard opener. There's nothing can go wrong with this catchy riffs introduction. The song got that dark feel chorus, some of Metal Church's trade mark. In fact, Bulletproof maybe a too safe play for the band, we need something more to bite. Dead City is also in the level of the first track, easily passing by, almost identical structure and ideas to the first one. A bit too happy for Metal Church. Now, finally Generation Nothing is something. The riffs are promising and the galloping drumming was kicking. The song are quite good for this one, something that can remind us to their early glory. Noises In The Wall is a test to our patience, the intro seems like forever before we listen to the basses. It's indeed longest song and you bet it has to be something serious. This song represent become more technical in play which something that dominated their last album This Present Wasteland.  Jump The Gun is heavy metal in the vibes of '80s glam metal type. Suiciety got a promising dark acoustic guitar intro, interesting song with speed metal spirit , again a bit happy feel. Scream is a fun song to listen, very energetic and probably best when done as live act. Hits Keep Comin' again alternating the dark vs happy feel, this one is the dark  and very inviting for a headbanging. Close To The Bone is perhaps too generic, the half pitch blending in the verses is epic trade mark of Metal Church that repeated many times. The Media Horse end the album with another safe landing point, but actually something not too predictable song for the album. Sounds bit modern with its simplicity.

Nevertheless, I feel this is an okay album for a comeback. Generation Nothing and Noises In The Wall are best tunes represent classic Metal Church, while I found Hits Keep Comin' is a good track for their update to our time. Compared to This Present Wasteland, this album feel as simple version, while T.P.W. was more technical. Vocalist Ronny Munroe delivered a good shrieking voices for all the track, perhaps the aspect that connected this album to the fan the most. The guitars works are complimentary to the song, I thing the word 'maturity' is closest to represented what I heard. New riff idea like in Jump The Gun is enjoyable. Recommended album for loyal fans of the band.

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

Metal Church - Generation Nothing (2013)

1. Bulletproof (4:10)
2. Dead City (3:47)
3. Generation Nothing (5:05)
4. Noises In The Wall (8:57)
5. Jump The Gun (5:37)
6. Suiciety (5:44)
7. Scream (4:24)
8. Hits Keep Comin' (5:38)
9. Close To The Bone (4:43)
10. The Media Horse (5:07)

    Kurdt Vanderhoof - Guitar
    Ronny Munroe - Vocals
    Rick Van Zandt - Guitar
    Steve Unger - Bass guitar
    Jeff Plate - Drums

Metal Church Generation Nothing album review


Hammerforce - Dostup Zakryt Доступ закрыт (2013)

Imagine that power metal got injected with new idea of blasting electronic synthesizer as their 2nd arsenal of voice. Hammerforce is unique heavy-power-progressive metal band from St. Petersburg Rusia. The first thing I need to point out is, this is the power band that utilized a serious amount of 'dance style' keyboard voices side by side with the lead guitar. As for the rest of their music, Hammerforce is simply a power metal band with faster tempo.

Just half a year behind, the band released their latest album "Access Denied" in early 2013. In the interview with Nikita (keyboardist/singer/producer to Hammerforce) last April, he promised to render the album "Access Denied" into Russian version. So, here we received a copy of Hammerforce latest release, "Dostup Zakryt". It's kind of slightly awkward to review the Russian version album into English language article, but we stand in the believe of "music metal is universal language" and go for it.

If you haven't read Metal Harem review on "Access Denied" , you no need. I'm going to re-phrase most of the song impression here, and added more as my knowledge on the album has grow better. Tvoya Voyna is the opener with that epic symphonic intro. At first it sounds like Kamelot-type of choir intro when only in 00:40 a modernist come in. Signature synthesizer voices redefined the song from traditional power metal into modern sounds, cross breeding metal and electronica. Listen to the middle break at 01:55 and enjoy awesome guitar solos afterward. Stereotipy is neo-classical in the intro, then this another power metal song completed with layered choir as backing vocal. And in this song at 02:11 we again presented with dance-riffs, right after the most muscular metal solos before-ward. Nikto is a more traditional galloping power metal song, although again updated to modernist right when the verses sung. Beglets is the peak of hip hop vs metal combination, this song simply said the combination is working! The other three compositions, Mass-Media with its blasting drum roll, Vtoraya Zemlya with its power metal riff and Smena Pokoleniy with its down tempo grooves, all give us the opportunity to dig in the detail the new innovation of metal Hammerforce offered to us. Finally, Razmyshleniya is the resting point, started with slow acoustic guitar intro, this track quickly developed into instrumental showcase of each instrumentalist creativity. The last track Dostup Zakryt is a rewind of their bombastic power-synthesizer metal tunes.

Another first thing to mentioned is, Dostup Zakryt stayed similar to their English theme (as Google translated indicated) and in this album it was Nikita Merzlyakov himself that duties on lead vocals, where the English version was done by Dmitry Yanovskiy. Again, I re-phrase, this is easily the most consistent fast and loud power metal album so far for this year. Because each of their song are consistently fantastic. The good things about their eclectic styles is, I believe it will attracts listeners from several disciplines. Gaining bits of respect from power metal camp, from progressive metal for their technical instrumentation element, from modernist - think of Dragonforce fanbase will also enjoy this, and even from detractor of dubstep and hip hop territory. The band is fresh and struggling to come out big from Russia, so if you think this review is over persuasive, well, it is! Grab the album fast.

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

Hammerforce - Dostup Zakryt (2013)
support the band and buy the album exclusively here:
Bandcamp: http://hammerforce.bandcamp.com/album/dostup-zakryt
iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id690644507
CDBaby: http://cdbaby.com/cd/hammerforce6

1. Твоя Война / Tvoya Voyna 04:52
2. Стереотипы / Stereotipy 03:44
3. Никто / Nikto      05:17
4. Масс-медиа / Mass-Media 05:17
5. Беглец / Beglets 03:55
6. Вторая Земля / Vtoraya Zemlya 05:42
7. Смена Поколений / Smena Pokoleniy 04:16
8. Размышления / Razmyshleniya 03:53 (instrumental)
9. Доступ Закрыт / Dostup Zakryt 04:20

Ilya Kapralov - guitars, bass
Nikita Merzlyakov - keyboards, synths
Ilya Mamaev - guitars
Aleksandr "Ariets" Zhuchihin - drums
Dmitriy "Ian Breeg" Yanovskiy - vocals


Motorhead - Aftershock (2013)

Almost forty years in metal services, and this is their 21st studio album. Motörhead latest album, Aftershock, year 2013 is no exception to their others. A heavy metal tunes with memorable voices of Lemmy Kilmister. Not much different from any previous releases, except we might be not familiar with these ones, yet. The line up of Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee had been for twenty years, so not much important knowledge we haven't known about this trio.

Most of the song still remains as it was. Short and solid heavy metal tunes, starts from opener Heartbreaker and Coup De Grace. They represented the riff it and scream it, simple verses-chorus-solos-chorus structure of Motörhead trademark. To cut it from ever boring to listener, a blues style song was inserted, right in the third track, Lost Woman Blues. This repeated again in more rock n roll beat in the Do You Believe, which is a song with strong blues chops. In the between, End Of Time is a solid ultra fast riff madness, perfect for an imagery of a biker, a tattoo and sexy woman. The blues theme still continued on Dust And Glass, a mellow song and Lemmy sings with clean voices. Another good song for motor-riding experience is Going to Mexico, best to pump up the spirit on the road. Interesting groove theme song also appear in Silence When You Speak To Me. Hard to resist to comment the next song, Crying Shame is a vintage '80s sliding riff heavy metal tunes. If you like guitars, this album  serves as great showcase of early '80s distortion sounds, as showcase nicely in the song Knife. Few other songs that mostly stay the same in nature, and the album closed with Paralyzed, another high pace drumming to make it the last song.

It's a simple review and conclusion, Aftershock is enjoyable heavy metal album. I found nothing to worry about Motörhead performance within this album and surely will pass a recommendation to other metal friends. The guitar works are mostly great, vocals are legendary and drumming are beasty. Motörhead, gentlemen!

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

Motörhead Aftershock (2013)

1. Heartbreaker
2. Coup De Grace
3. Lost Woman Blues
4. End Of Time
5. Do You Believe
6. Death Machine
7. Dust And Glass
8. Going To Mexico
9. Silence When You Speak To Me
10. Crying Shame
11. Queen Of The Damned
12. Knife
13. Keep Your Powder Dry
14. Paralyzed

Lemmy Kilmister Bass, Vocals
Phil Campbell Guitars
Mikkey Dee Drums

Motörhead album review Aftershock


Lalu - Atomic Ark (2013)

It's Vivien Lalu's, Frenchman composer / keyboardist, project with several big names on the line up. It's also an example of how several world class musician in one supergroup actually can lift up expectation. The album swim in the progressive metal genre, the most technical of the metal motherland of course. The consisting musicians give a sub 'variation' that related to their own works, such as the vocalist give bits of Virgin Steele mainly due to its vocal style similarity, and of Mekong Delta of course. Virgil Donati is a logic hire for the drum and he added his free style fusion elements. The string players, Simone Mularoni, Mike LePond and guests Marco Sfogli / Joop Walters added the needed metal chops. It's quite a complex combination though, and it's reflected to the output of each songs. So here we are, Atomic Ark is the title and looks like Lalu's second solo album of this kind.

The main menu was actually on the last track: Revelations, a 20 minutes composition, mixed up many interesting passage of progressive, groove, fusion, elements. Very ambitious one. Back to the first track called Greed, the opening with Virgil's drumming triggered the right guitar riff respond. This is straightforward - almost standard - song structure, but then solos improvisation in the middle-end shake it all. War On Animals is nice to heard for its alternative like chorus line. Tatonka, grabbing inspiration from AOR-like drum+keyboard intro, the deep low vocal vs standard heavy metal voice is a good one. Thick progressive chording combined with one more deep voice is in the acoustic Mirror Prison. This continue to a longer acoustic song call Deep Blue. And then come one of most catching ear track, Bast. It's quickly steal attention for it's '40s horror movie intro, but then the verses run in flamenco style before we reaching the proper prog-metal part in the middle. Momento is also interesting one, with far-eastern scale in the intro, listeners were made holding breath to wait what happened in each next second. Follow The Line sounds like a jamming session composition, Virgil Donati is enjoying each of Vivien's challenges, and with a great degree of success. And we reach a darker and speedier song in Slaughtered, a bit of Helloween influence in there and Jordan Rudess executed his trademark piano rag-time solos. Again the last song Revelations is the real thread for progressive fans.

One thing to compliment is a strong song writing in this album. Not fall into the pit trap of progressive metal album, where the instrumentation takes control over the song, in Atomic Ark the vocal part is still enjoyable. Lots of creativity and new ideas. Great progressive metal album in short sentence.

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

Lalu - Atomic Ark (2013)
Buy it HERE

01. Greed (4:05)
02. War On Animals (3:26)
03. Tatonka (4:01)
04. Mirror Prison (2:26)
05. Deep Blue (3:29)
06. Bast (4:04)
07. Momento (3:40)
08. Follow The Line (3:51)
09. Slaughtered (3:13)
10. Revelations (19:29)

Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta) - Vocal
Mike LePond (Symphony X) - Bass guitar
Simone Mularoni (DGM) - Guitar
Virgil Donati (Planet X) - Drums
Vivien Lalu - Keyboards

Jens Johansson (Stratovarius, Timo Tolkki's Avalon) - Keyboards on tracks 1,7,8
Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) - Keyboards on tracks 9, piano on 9 and 10
Joop Walters - Guitars Solo on track 3,8,10
Marco Sfogli - Guitars Solo on track 1,9
Mike Anderssen - Vocals on track 2
Peter Wildoer - Death Metal vocals on track 6

Lalu - Atomic Ark album review


Trivium - Vengeance Falls (2013)

Matt Heafy and friends have been transformed to be one of American popular metal band in less than a decade. Their riffs are made 'lesson' everywhere in guitar magazines, and their fame is in prospect to only heading forward. But after 2011's In Waves, the sign of so called musical-interest-changing-syndrome was transpired, that Trivium is going to left behind their epic-technically-riff aspect they used to known, in pursue to lighter and sweeter songs, to straightforward conquering the mainstream metal listener. Who sadly prefer to easier listening stuff. But yet now Trivium is back. Vengeance Falls called out as their sixth studio album. And we listened nervously to see if Trivium is going to transformed, and the result is ... they simply delayed the process.

There a lot of riffs that captured me in this album. Let's started with Brave This Storm, the opener track. The one-stringer alternate picking exercise in the intro is the proponent of simplicity, that successfully developed into a good song. The feel of modernity in the song are audible and show that Trivium top their game in this genre. Let's skip some of track and I just want to listed out the potential magazine's favorite riffs, this include No Way To Heal, Through Blood and Dirt and Bone, and No Hope For the Human Race, all are minor feel that fitted my power metal ears. Of the modern metal stuffs are Vengeance Falls. Which kinda crusade song to reach new listener from the nu-metal / electronic / industrial metal crowd. Same thing with Strife, nice intro composition with dual guitar riffs, and the song is mixing alternative metal and double pedal thrash metal intensity. Only two songs not begin with a bang, At the End of This War is a ballad intro, which again just a camouflage to heavier stuff later. Then Wake (The End is Nigh) begin with pseudo-alternative metal bass intro. A rock n roll stuffs in Incineration: The Broken World, a thrash metal ala Megadeth in As I Am Exploding and Misfits cover Skulls...We Are 138 fitted the end part and to bring more color to this exhausting riff orientated album.

Not much to brag in more. If you like riffs, Vengeance Falls still going to pleased you. The songs comprise more clean vocal lead, but still a couple moment of growling to accelerated the intensity. Categorical almost no metalcore in sight. Vengeance Falls is simply heavy metal in modern and unique Trivium version. The cheeky futuristic sci-fi album artwork also confirmed that the band heading to teenage crowd. Which is a stepdown compared to 'mature' In Wave album artwork style. Compared to old stuffs as in Ascendency (2005) and The Crusade (2007), Vengeance Falls is a compromise to younger listeners, but at least they put a lot of effort to maintained original fans with enough, well, riffs!

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

Trivium - Vengeance Falls (2013)

1. Brave This Storm
2. Vengeance Falls
3. Strife
4. No Way To Heal
5. To Believe
6. At the End of This War
7. Through Blood and Dirt and Bone
8. Villainy Thrives
9. Incineration: The Broken World
10. Wake (The End is Nigh)
11. No Hope For the Human Race
12. As I Am Exploding
13. Skulls...We Are 138 ( Misfits cover)
14. Losing My Religion (R.E.M. cover)

Matt Heafy - Guitar, Lead Vocals
Corey Beaulieu - Guitar, Vocals
Paolo Gregoletto - Bass, Vocals
Nick Augusto – Drums
Record Label: Roadrunner Records

Trivium Vengeance Falls album review
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