Crystal Ball - Dawnbreaker (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Royal Hunt - A Life To Die For (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Hunt A Life To Die For album review

Dream Theater - Live at Luna Park (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dream Theater - Live at Luna Park (2013)

Disc 1

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

Disc 2

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

Disc 3

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

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


Almah – Unfold (2013)

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

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

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

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

Almah – Unfold (2013)
Buy it HERE - Amazon

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

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

Almah Unfold album review


Bruce Bouillet – The Order of Control (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Bouillet The Order of Control album review

Armory – Empyrean Realms (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Armory - Empyrean Realms album review

Wardrum – Messenger (2013)

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

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

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

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

Wardrum – Messenger (2013)

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

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

Wardrum - Messenger album review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alestorm LIVE at the END of the World album review


Rhapsody of Fire - Dark Wings of Steel (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rhapsody of Fire Dark Wings Of Steel album review


Leaves' Eyes - Symphonies of the Night (2013)

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

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

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

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

Leaves' Eyes - Symphonies of the Night (2013)

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

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

Leave's Eyes - Symphonies of the Night album review


Iron Mask - Fifth Son Of Winterdoom (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iron Mask Fifth Son of Winterdoom album review
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