Michael Pinnella - Ascension (2014)

How often you want listen prog metal just to hear for its keyboard parts? Yes, the one that has the coolest sound and shred fast as hell. Now, with this album by Michael Pinnela "Ascension", you got to listen to that one for the whole album.  Ascension is that mind blowing instrumental prog album, 100% build up from keyboard point of view. There are only one side of story here, the keyboard shred parts. There are ten tracks and for 52 minutes it is keyboards all the way. The line up notes state only Mike himself doing all of this. Even no guitarist was listed.

So, the whole album is pretty intense, pretty insane. This is the encyclopedia of progressive metal riffs and groves compiled into one album. From track one "New City Rising" up to "From Empty Places", they are all in same vibes, of fast and furious, complexes rhythm, shredding keys. "La Batalla En La Niebla" is kind of slowing down and has more melodic parts. Nice thing here is Michael Pinnella put a lot of grand piano sounds in here, to be pair with the synthesizer sounds. The one with dramatic orchestration can be heard in "Welcome Home". As well the classical wanna be tracks in "The Great Escape" and "The Ascension".

Nonetheless, the rest of album of course represented many of Symphony X elements. With almost all his member doing side projects, we can only hope they still got materials for their main band. Asension is truly keyboard-piano album that going to pleased prog fans for its mastery. My only lamentation is, there are no other artist join forces for this, one hell of guitarist will do. Last words, don't missed this.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Michael Pinnella - Ascension (2014)

1. New City Rising (4:21)
2. Flip Side Of Things (4:20)
3. From Empty Places (6:17)
4. La Batalla En La Niebla (5:59)
5. Miswired (4:27)
6. A Weight Of The World (5:22)
7. Spiders Web (4:34)
8. Welcome Home (4:30)
9. The Great Escape (5:30)
10. The Ascension (7:09)

Michael Pinnella (Symphony X) - piano, keyboards, bass & drum programming

Releases information

Label: Knife Fight Media
Format: Digital
December 15, 2014


Northland - Downfall and Rebirth 2015

As an reviewer, it is always a joy when you got sent a package full of high quality music, for you to listen and later preach it across the world. This morning I received one of that kind situation. Introducing Northland, for a starter just called them a folk metal band based in Spain. They are on historic moment in releasing their 2nd studio album called "Downfall and Rebirth". When I first 'un-zip' the package and start listening, I was simply blown away. Their music hit my favorite zone with melodic violin-driven-folk-metal. They are also fast and the harsh vocals is all there for a viking metal categorical glory. For an hour I feel like a boy getting a new toy, having previously have no knowledge before hand about Northland.

Downfall and Rebirth is quite a concept album. It is about the downfall of status quo civilization because they abused the Mother Nature to her destruction. It is about Mother Nature revenge and later a new celestial force arrives and then become the new, Rebirth, civilization. This album played with the classic concept of rise and fall, day and night, destroy and rebirth theme. The first tracks speaks it all, "When Nature Awakes" is quite a composition that put everything together about Northland. A mother earth melody to starts it all, then "The time has come..." screamed out to mark the starts the violin driven folk metal. The violin melodies will stays through out the album. We got to listen Pau Murillo's growling vocals, very fit into the nature of this song. It also has fast and slow dynamic, enough progressive elements to lift everything up. The replying song is  "Bloodred Sunrise", aggressive track that beginning to describe how devastating the current situation around Mother Earth. It's got catchy folk melody along with "... Die! By my hand!.." of Creeping Death-like tag line. If you are fans of folk metal, this track will blown your mind away for its composition. "Together We Die" is pretty standard Viking metal song, uncompromising galloping riffs. Now we arrive on "Fury's Unleashed", another apocalypse-like guitar riffs, and also extremely loud sounding bass guitar sound. "Duskriders" is opened with calm acoustic guitars, the song has kind of Helloween like choruses. "Spirit In Darkness" is the only track that 'slow' down without the present of double pedal drumming. Ultimately, the climaxing tracks is "Downfall And Rebirth", in which the album got their final-final moment , if you haven't impressed so far, this track is supposed to break your unbelievable ice. The last two songs are more like the epilogue of what has happened. Notable is "Moonlight Spell" where Lady Morte, the singer for Trobar de Morte is contributing her voices.

Northland is perhaps doing to what Rhapsody-of-Fire done to power metal, where Northland do to folk metal. They bring up the genre to a new fascinating horizon. Songs are produced in precise technical matter reflecting to their highly skill musicians. The present of violin melodic is their signature style. Guitar riffs are fit the situation demanding. Vocals of Pau Murillo never lost its power. It is understandable the keyboardist take a whole critical task to supported this kind of music, but Northland did not really allow the 'symphonic metal' vibes in their style. Pol Lemarie keep the keyboard layers stays in designated sphere and let the violin and guitars fight the dominant melodies. Of course in the ended, both bassist Vic and drummer Jose joined for the band with their awesome playing. It is a shame that Downfall and Rebirth may takes a couple of days before its official released date upon this writing, as I feel like to knock every power metal fans door and delivered this album with a note, "...this is the album you'll need to close 2014 with glory."

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Northland - Downfall and Rebirth (2015)

1. When Nature Awakes
2. Bloodred Sunrise
3. Together We Die
4. The Rite (instrumental)
5. Fury´s Unleashed
6. Duskriders
7. Spirit In Darkness
8. Whispers In The Wind
9. Downfall And Rebirth
10. Moonlight Spell
11. Newborn Star


Pau Murillo - Vocals. Guitars & Jaw Harp
Alex Fernández - Guitars
Vic Adiego - Choirs and Bass guitar
Pau Vázquez - Violin
Pol Lemaire - Keyboard
Jose Rosendo - Drums & Percussion


Angra - Secret Garden (2015)

Angra, one of most influential power metal band from the Latin continent, is back on business with their eight full lengths album. When Angra on their heyday Angels Cry to Temple of the Shadow era, they are on top of the game with unique power metal. Their style was highly captivating, power-metal, neo-classical, power-ballad (think "Wuthering Height" song), Latin infused rhythm, and of course progressive elements with lots of guitar mastery duet between Kiko and Rafael. Different era has passed since, different Angra member jump in. As Kiko Loureiro remarks, musical changes is un-avoidable because they change as persons as well. Quite a words. Fabio Lione is now with Angra. One may feel excited, because un-officially, Angra (well, back then), is also regarded as the Latin representative of Rhapsody-of-Fire style of power metal. Most of their album (back then..) come with similar template, symphonic instrumental track ("Unfinished Allegro","In Excelsis"..) and many more symphonic-power references to the style they shared with Rhapsody of Fire. So, Fabio Lione is one of interesting moment we like to hear from Angra.

Good news is, in this new album called "Secret Garden", we kind of meet some of core Angra stuffs for sure. "Newborn Me" is the first track, after a brief prelude we get a strong strong with catchy guitar riffs, interesting bass-effect and keyboards, and also the Latin beat is there once again. The middle interlude is strong and very progressive. If you are looking for quality song writing in one power metal song, this is it. "Black Hearted Soul" is also strong one, the intro is a power chorus and then continued to catchy double beat power metal song. This time Fabio really added Angra elements to his own port-folio, where Rhapsody of Fire and Vision Divine meet them. "Final Light" is heavier stuffs, Latin infused beat and progressive elements played the big role here. "Storm Of Emotions" is traditionally Angra's story telling slow song, another interesting moment in the album, you'll easily find "old-times" Angra vibes on this one. Then when everything seems like to repeated themself, comes Simone Simons to save the situation. She is on featuring voices in "Secret Garden", one song that surely written with female vocals on mind since this is not typical Angra stuffs. Then also comes Doro Pesch for one more duet song "Crushing Room". Instead of slow ballad as in Simone songs, this is heavier one to fit Doro's characteristic.

Overall Secret Garden really brings back Angra. This is a solid album with careful song writing that incorporated most of core Angra stuffs, and blended it with new progressive metal idea. Vice versaly, Angra also added Fabio Lione to their legacy, where previously two charismatic singers already on board, Andre Matos and Edu Falaschi. Secret Garden is Angra album with level up song writing. Excellent new drummer Bruno Valverde continuted the Latin beat inducted to his drumming. Kiko and Rafael has enough guitars parts to keep their guitar fans happy. In the end, great power metal album to close 2014 in glory.

Favorite songs: Newborn Me, Black Hearted Soul
Metal Harem class: *********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Angra - Secret Garden (2015) 

1. Newborn Me
2. Black Hearted Soul
3. Final Light
4. Storm Of Emotions
5. Violet Sky
6. Secret Garden - feat. Simone Simons
7. Upper Levels
8. Crushing Room - feat. Doro Pesch
9. Perfect Symmetry
10. Silent Call

    Fabio Lione - vocals
    Rafael Bittencourt - guitar, vocals, artwork co-conception
    Kiko Loureiro - guitar
    Felipe Andreoli - Bass
    Bruno Valverde - Drums

Technical staff:
    Jens Bogren - producer, recorder
    Roy Z - pre-producer
    Rodrigo Bastos Didier - artwork conception and creation


Lynch Mob - Sun Red Sun (2014)

The flagship band for George Lynch, Lynch Mob, has pulled out their latest album. This is the 6th full length studio album. It is featuring Oni Logan on vocals, where they joined by  Robbie Crane and Scott Coogan. The album titled 'Sun Red Sun' is as usual in business where George Lynch having fun with his tiger motive ESP guitar, and the band singing along it. Comprising seven new tracks of guitar driven heavy metal, very much to reminded us to the height of '80s hair metal glamour era.

In the first song "Believers of the Day", though its started with promising guitar riffs, the song give much room for Oni Logan to take over the dominant part. Solos are of course great with George Lynch signature speed picking, legato and tapping. The guitar only going more heavy with the second song "Erotika", which laid over a tom-tom drumming beat. "Burning Sky" is blues-rock song. "Black Waters" is kind of Lynch experimenting muted picking with time delay effects, an instrumental song. "Play the Game" is melodic mid tempo hard rock tune. Much interesting is "Sublimininal Dream", a song with heavy wah-wah guitar playing on it. Then the final original song is "Sun Red Sun" of ballad style in the vibe of '80 feel. The album also contained four songs taken from their previous EP "Sound Mountain", all remastered.

Surely this is a brief album from George Lynch after five years of void. Not much can be comment on the album, the guitar sounds are heavy, fit to Lynch wild guitar plays. Those looking for George Lynch shredding parts shall find their objective achieved, although by not very large portion since most of songs are more 'band' orientated than solo driven. Nice hard rock album to tune in while counting the end of 2014 year.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon
Lynch Mob - Sun Red Sun (2014)

1. Believers of the Day
2. Erotika
3. Burnin Sky
4. Black Waters (instrumental)
5. Play The Game
6. Subliminal Dream
7. Sun Red Sun

Bonus Tracks
8. Slow Drag (remastered)
9. World Of Chance (remastered)
10. City Of Freedom (remastered)
11. Sucka (remastered)

Label: Rat Pak Records

George Lynch (guitar)
Oni Logan (vocals)
Robbie Crane (bass)
Scott Coogan (drums)


Raskasta Joulua - Ragnarok Juletide (2014)

Raskasta Joulua is annual musical project held by member of Nightwish and Sonata Arctica. They are the Finland version of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, in which doing Christmas theme songs in it most metal possible. Hence, Raskasta Joulua mean "Heavy Christmas" in Finnish. The project has been held every year, and this is actually their 10th anniversary.

The first opening is quite a faithful Christmas vibes in "We Celebrate At Christmastime". The real winter adventure begins in "The First Noel", where the guitar riffs and typical heavy metal act gets going. It is a straight medley to "Here on the Hay", which is borrowing melody from Noel but in continued in new song. "Little Drummer Boy" is heavily improvised but didn't lost its signature soul. "The Elf" is narrative song, by Marco, to be continued by Elize Ryd in "Christmas Is Here". "Sylvia's Song" is also rarely heard new song in mid tempo ballad. "White Christmas" is full heavy metal rendering yet again, very heavy one indeed. "Home for Christmas" is in standard metal rendition, the same on "A Sparrow on a Christmas Morning". "Christmas Has Come" and "Ave Maria" all in power ballad mode blanket with top notch arrangements.

Definitely a holiday gift to every metal fans. Music are heavy enough yet capture the spirit of Christmas theme. The vast array of voices contributor mean this album is has plenty of characters to listen to. This is kind of Trans-Siberian and Avantasia in holiday theme.

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

Raskasta Joulua - Ragnarok Juletide (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. We Celebrate At Christmastime
02. The First Noel
03. Here on the Hay
04. Little Drummer Boy
05. The Elf
06. Christmas Is Here
07. Sylvia's Song
08. White Christmas
09. Home for Christmas
10. A Sparrow on a Christmas Morning
11. Christmas Has Come
12. Ave Maria

The voices:

Elize Ryd (Amaranthe)
Marco Hietala (Nightwish)
J.P. Leppäluoto (Northern Kings)
Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica)
Jarkko Ahola (Terasbetoni, Northern Kings)
Ari Koivunen (Amoral)
Pasi Rantanen (Thunderstone)
Antti Railio (2013 Voice of Finland winner)
Ville Tuomi
Antony Parviainen
Tuple Salmela
Kimmo Blom

The backing musicians:

Erkka Korhonen - guitar, arrangements (Northern King)
Tuomas Wäinölä - guitar
Vili Ollila - keyboards (Northern King)
Mirka Rantanen - drums (Thunderstone)
Erkki Silvennoinen - bass (Omnium Gathering)


Interview with Kilmara 2014

Last month Metal Harem reviewed one of promising heavy metal album of Kilmara, a band from Spain. After some short of online communication we were able to ask for a writen interview. Kilmara drummer, Javi Morillo , is kindly answering all our questions in lengthy stories. Javi talked about how Kilmara as a band, their new album behind the scenes stories, their collaboration with Roland Grapow, and also serious discussion about how the current metal music scenes. Just read their full interview below. \m/

If you still haven't touch on this band, read their bio HERE.

Their latest album is "LOVE SONGS AND OTHER NIGHTMARES", released worldwide early this year. Check their full discography here.

Metalharem.blogspot.com, interview with KILMARA  (Spain)


Javi Morillo: "Hello metalharem, it is a pleasure talking with you. This is Javi, Kilmara’s drummer..."

Q Metalharem.blogspot:  Can you briefly tell us again, who is Kilmara? Is this a full band, side project or solo project? Have you become friends each other before deciding forming Kilmara? The five of you, are you staying in one area?

 We have been dedicated only to Kilmara for a lot of years; every single project we think about is just for this band. We never wanted to put us any kind of musical limitations and, in the same way,  we never know which will be the next step for Kilmara. Obviously, this is like this, because we are friends. We know each other so much that we have forgotten for how long we do it. John, Kike and I, are the oldest members, because we played together before being called Kilmara. Wolf arrived a little bit later and Raul was the last one that came. We could say we live in the same area since we work one near the other.

Love Songs and Other Nightmares, Kilmara 3rd studio album

Q: The first impression listener going to acknowledge is your unique style. We hear bit of power metal, American thrash metal, and also death metal in Kilmara. How do you describe Kilmara styles, if possible? What kind of band that inspired Kilmara for going this direction?

We could say that what moves us close is the same attraction for the melody. Apart from that, each one enjoys music in his way. We are inspired by several groups, and we like classic groups as much as modern ones, but we always try not to be a copy of an existing one. In this last Cd we had the intention of giving more prominence to the voice and of being more consequents with Wolf’s registers. We wanted that the music would go exactly with what words want to express. 

Q: How is your 3rd album 'Love Songs and other Nightmares" being produced. Tells us the writing process, recording duration and any interesting stories about it.

After our previous disc (Don’t Fear The Wolf) many things happened in our personal and working lives that made us grow apart.  Although we tried to find time to go on with Kilmara, this became quite difficult and that was harmful to us.  However, John, who has always been the driving force in the group, found at that moment a chance to develop his creativity. We took advance of the critics (good or bad ones) that we had had about “Don’t Fear The Wolf”,  and we decided that Wolf should do all the lyrics of this new project. We were looking for a more sincere and direct interpretation. John composed the music, but he had to do some final touches after Wolf had written the lyrics. Even the vocal melodies changed several times. I went to record the drums in September 2012 taking with me some demos with different versions of the songs. The lyrics of some of the themes were recorded by Raul and John because wolf had a sudden lesion in his vocal cords. Although everything seemed a mess, we all had everything more clear than ever.

Q: And also about Roland Grapow. Can you tell us stories behind your collaboration with him. How many times have Kilmara worked together with Roland? Did he involved or influenced in creating / writing music for this album?

 “Love Songs and Other Nightmares” has been the second CD that we have recorded in Roland Grapow Studios. We had totally clear that we wanted to work again with him. He is very professional and he is also a friend. We explained him that this time we wanted to give more importance to the voice.  When I arrived ( I was the first one ) it was quite difficult because all the demos I took with me looked just like themes remnants.  He also gave me his opinion about the drums in “Don’t Fear The Wolf”. He thought they weren’t as good as they should be, and he had the intention of improving them in this last work. As soon as John, Kike and Raul arrived to Roland Grapow Studio, everything seemed to flow and Roland got really involved. He gave us some advises and he even took part in some of the backing vocals. We lived plenty of anecdotes, but the funniest for me was that he took us to a concert. His drummer (Marthus) was going to give a concert with his personal project (Inner Fear) near there, and although Marthus had recorded drums for Masterplan, Roland had never seen him playing at life.

Javier Morillo recording drum for album "Love Songs and Other Nightmares"
photo from Facebook

Q: How did you guys ended up with Sony Music, are there many new metal band that signed with 'mainstream' label as Sony. How is this going to help Kilmara in distributing your music.

The music business is not in a very good moment nowadays but Kilmara keeps on having faith in the truth record companies. We already knew that for people like us, it was going to be difficult to carry out a good distribution. We knocked on several doors and many of them were a fraud. Others were not interested in our music. In fact, Sony is being really good with us and now everything depends on the product demanding. It is simple, if things do not go further, it does not make sense that we wait a bigger investment.

Q. How is your view about metal music nowadays, in your area, Spain, Europe and across the world? As blogger we found many new metal albums everyday, is there a room for one more metal  band? How about the internet, social media, and uncontrolled music distribution over the web? 

I will let you know only my opinion. I think it is almost impossible to create something new. Besides, we have overload of music information. Record companies used to put some filters that are now lost because of the uncontrolled music distribution. This has caused quality deterioration because most of records are self produced.  Music industry is not working any more because selling discs does give enough money. Everything has been harmed by this. Groups record discs the best way we can and later….nothing happens. Nowadays, all the effort falls on a good promotion (of course, the group is in charge of it) in order to stand out from the others. The final product is often very poor because of the lack of wherewithal. Crowds just go to see a concert of renowned groups because they are the only ones that can keep the quality. Among all the options, people prefer what they have always been listening. I think it is difficult that this changes.

Q: Do you hear any fans feedback from our area, Indonesia and Asia in general, about Kilmara?

We are receiving feed back of half world! This makes up live with hopes. Knowing that our music likes gives us strength to go on.

Q: Lastly, what is your next plan for Kilmara, touring or producing new materials for next album?

We would like to tour all over the world but this is not according to our possibilities. We will do as many concerts as we can and we will go on working on taking our project as far as we can. We are already preparing new songs and really exited with Kilmar’s future.

Thank you! It was a pleasure! - Javi

and we thank you you to Javi, for the time and stories you shared to us. Please follow Kilmara on their website and social networks:


Christian Wolfgang Kohl (vocals)
Jonathan Portillo (guitar)
Enrique Torres (guitar)
Javier Morillo (drums)
Raul Ruiz (bass)

Guests on their latest album:
Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween)
Pilar Villatobas (Resilence)



Axenstar - Where Dreams Are Forgotten (2014)

Whatever sub-genre of power metal coming out, it is always the pure the traditional power metal that stand still in the last. Axenstar had been that kind of band since their first inception. Crawling in the crowd of power metal, the Sweden quartet first find it hard to fight their fame with some of their sophomore albums. Then starting The Final Requiem and Aftermath, it is became clear that those who follow the right path will find their way. Axenstar's Where Dreams Are Forgotten is quite anticipated by power metal fans. Three years from Aftermath is enough waiting, so they are on the last minutes of being forgotten. The album exactly an upgrade continuation from Aftermath, now with more power, more riffs on their belt. Through very much traditionalist in power metal, Axenstar is not without distinguish signature. It is their vocalist Magnus Winterwild that gives Axenstar something to remember. His vocal style is actually not in the mainstream power metal where he avoid singing in traditional high pitch, in fact his style is kind of mid to low range and with strong attack in every breath.

You will find songs such as "Fear" is the most power metal can do with its trade mark guitar riff. The background is fill with thin layer of keyboard string, not too thick to get them a 'symphonic' label, but enough to gives the neo-classical feel. Speedy drumming is there also, the album has a good start. As with many formulaic song order, the following "Inside The Maze" flows nicely to continue what the first song finish. Tension is still maintained up to their third song, is "My Sacrifice" where the bombastic seems more and more. The pinnacle of their first phase attack is likely in "Curse Of The Tyrant", a short variation on drum and acoustic guitar in the intro glued us to the ground from the start. "The Return" is the beginning of their next set, with contained package of "Demise", then "Greed", then a very Helloween-ish "The Reaper" is a strong point in this section.

With exception of "Annihilation" in the intro, this album is full of power riffs parallel with galloping drums. Clear to us Where Dreams Are Forgotten is dedicated to die hard power metal fans. You will find no other disrupting non sense gimmicks blocking your way listening full blast of riffs, speedy solos and metal choruses. It is the time for Axenstar ascending to higher class of power metal arena, which I believe they already so.

Favorite tracks: Fear, Curse Of the Tyrant, The Reaper
Metal Harem class: ********** eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Axenstar - Where Dreams Are Forgotten (2014)

01. Fear
02. Inside The Maze
03. My Sacrifice
04. Curse Of The Tyrant
05. The Return
06. Demise
07. Annihilation
08. Greed
09. The Reaper
10. This False Imagery
11. Sweet Farewell

Line Up:
Magnus Winterwild - Vocals, Bass & Keyboards
Joakim Jonsson - Guitars
Jens Klovegård - Guitars
Adam Lindberg - Drums
Record Label: Inner Wound Recordings


Megadeth Looking for New Guitarist and Drummers 2014 After Broderick and Drover Quit

The super collider news from Megadeth today is, Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover both quit the band almost simultaneously. They announced on their personal blog November 26th 2014 about it , no background stories yet. Chris had been in the band for 7 years and Shawn for 10 years, quite ever lasting in context of Dave Mustaine's band!

Official statement from Chris Broderick in quitting Megadeth:

"It is with great reluctance that I announce my departure from Megadeth to pursue my own musical direction. I want all of you to know how much I appreciate the amount that you, the fans, have accepted and respected me. I wish Dave and everyone in Megadeth all the best. I am working on a few things of my own, and hope that when they come out, you’ll all dig it.”

Drover says: “I have decided to quit Megadeth to pursue my own musical interests. I want to thank Dave Mustaine and the entire Megadeth family, as well as all the amazing fans around the world. I truly appreciate all of you. Stay tuned for info on my next musical journey.

Of course now the big question we all waiting for, the next guitarist and drummer for Megadeth, who is now left only Dave and David Ellefson on board.

To help you imagine the wildest dream, here are the list of 'vacant' guitarists and drummers available for Dave to pick!

There are six guitarists to ever officially join Megadeth, who is the next 7th guitarist?


1. Jeff Loomis - finally new Megadeth guitarist? It had been a strong rumors on social network for this to happen. The only setback truth is, Jeff  *just* joined Arch Enemy weeks ago!

2. Marty Friedman - old time fans are going crazy to petition Dave Mustaine to even considered this to be happened. Not easy since Marty is having zen-like life in Japan right now.

3. Gus G - he is roaming the heavy metal world ever since now. Firewind still his band, but he is a good choice if Dave wanted to lure him out of Firewind.

4. Christian Muenzner - of former Obscura band.

5. Doug Aldrich - of former Whitesnake, just left Dave Coverdale and join Dave Mustaine seems quite a day to call for....

6. Carl Johann Grimmark - of Narnia. Some one with something in common with Dave Mustaine?

UPDATED January 3rd 2015: Stephan Forte dispute the rumor of him being Megadeth new guitarist, yet still posted a video of him playing Hanger 18 for fans. Youtube LINK.

As for drummers :

1. Dave Lombardo - it is reported that Dave himself said he is open for invitation to join the band... the greatest drummer ever for Megadeth?

1. Mike Portnoy - now fans also cried out for this to be ever happen.

2. Bobby Jarzombek - of Iced Earth, Fates Warning, Riot.

Harem Scarem - Thirteen (2014)

One should lament on how many hair metal bands that bailed out in the grunge era, just to comeback again twenty years later. On this year are the comeback of Tesla, Winger, Night Ranger, all the way to Mr.Big if they counted. One of the band that included is Harem Scarem. This melodic rock / metal group from Canada pulled out string of early albums that really stayed in the heart of melodic rock lover. They did not really disappear actually, as the band actively released albums all the decade of '90s, those just didn't catch the momentum more so than their Mood Swing-era.

Thirteen is obviously their 13th studio album. This one has a majority of Harem Scarem late era materials. "Garden Of Eden" is catchy one for the opener. Those who longing for Pete Lesperance guitar works can enjoy it here, although this album did not many repeated the 'wild' riffs happened in the Mood Swing catalog. "Early Warning Signs", "Saints And Sinners" may also close to that sense, where quick alternate picking riffs take the action. We got easy and happy hard rock tracks as in "Live It". Then the rest are very much pop rock to ballads when track like "Whatever It Takes" where the power chorus is vibe of '90s feel, and "All I Need".

Thirteen is also giving their Pledge music page, where you can find their progress. Overall it is fun to have Harem Scarem back kicking in the business. To hear Harry Hess singing in the band he arising from. As we know both Hess and Pete got a decent solo albums out there also. Thirteen is not a repeating hair metal in the '90s, more so their new interpretation of guitar orientated rock song.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Harem Scarem - Thirteen (2014)

1. Garden Of Eden
2. Live It
3. Early Warning Signs
4. The Midnight Hours
5. Whatever It Takes
6. Saints And Sinners
7. All I Need
8. Troubled Times
9. Never Say Never
10, Stardust
11. The Midnight Hours Acoustic (Japan bonus)

    Harry Hess – Lead vocals, keyboards
    Pete Lesperance – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Backing vocals
    Creighton Doane – Drums
    Darren Smith – Backing vocals


AC/DC - Rock or Bust (2014)

Instead of having an album called Man Down, Brian Johnson get us a more typical AC/DC album phrase, it's "Rock or Bust". That's right, this is the new AC/DC album, all brand new songs, the first one since 2008's Black Ice. The album marked as the first without Malcolm Young on boards. And they are closely losing Phil Rudd as well on the dramatic case in Australia. Thus where came the idea of Brian Johnson "Man Down" thing. "Rock Or Bust" is everywhere AC/DC album. It is very short, as short as the band name. We got everything we expected, Angus Young's signature Gibson axe sounds, Brian Johnson's screaming, Cliff and Phill unparalleled coordination.

The song "Rock Or Bust" is all you need to be introduce to AC/DC. Simple guitar riffs , simple "hell yeah...", "are you ready?..." intro to get everything on the roll. "Play Ball" is their single, as usual still got enough ball for being facing face to face to current world chart list. Where the song done well actually. Then on the rest of the album, one must start to admit that the band is not interesting in doing some else. This is exactly another 30 minutes of AC/DC world. It is understandable to not expected a classic Back In Black materials. Thus songs like "Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder", "Rock the House" and "Emission Control", are the most interest in term of expecting some signature AC/DC riffs yet never done before.

The album is mean to be taken in relax manner. The situation where we enjoy half nostalgic moment and the other half to salute that they are still faithful in doing so. All for the fans. Production is great, you can listen the classic guitars riffs still the same as yesteryears. Try doing it with a full volume and you can easily drown to a good headbanging session. Rock or Bust it, here they come.

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

AC/DC - Rock or Bust (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Rock Or Bust
02. Play Ball
03. Rock The Blues Away
04. Miss Adventure
05. Dogs Of War
06. Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder
07. Hard Times
08. Baptism By Fire
09. Rock The House
10. Sweet Candy
11. Emission Control

    Brian Johnson – lead vocals
    Angus Young – lead guitar, backing vocals on "Dogs of War"
    Stevie Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
    Cliff Williams – bass guitar, backing vocals
    Phil Rudd – drums, percussion


Divine Ascension - Liberator (2014)

The Melbourne power metal sextet has back with vengeance. Divine Ascension is setting the people of southern hemisphere on full throttle with their second album, Liberator. As you remember, they are one of promising power / symphonic act when their debut album released in 2011. As close as to their first one, Liberator is one step upgrade for sure. This is much more serious works, stronger instrumentation and heavier singing. Jennifer Borg as vocalist is once again nailed it with her altoish voices, rather muscular one must say.

"Dawn Brings No Mercy" is ambitious symphonic intro put as an opener of the album. You will need to drill up some early Epica or Within Temptation music to draw comparison with the style Divine Ascension bringing up. On six minutes, Dawn Brings No Mercy even has enough room to put in a rather contrasting slow middle interlude, which also a sign that the band is now in full concentration to bring more progressive elements to their songs. "Stronger" is sample of their heavy symphonic track. With lively keyboardist and dual guitars, the band has a serious shredding solos to fight for. "Liberator" is the album title song that has multiple patterns to make up a good progressive metal cut, on full double pedal speed. Then also comes "My Contender Lies" which bring even further dark color and vengeance guitar riffs backed with slower tempo drumming. "Sorrow's Sacrifice" is open with clean acoustic guitar, the dynamic on this song quickly remind us to Dream Theater's Awake era sound. For some serious kick ass ballad you will need to fast forward to "Red Sky". The focus on this song is once again Jennifer Borg's vocal capabilities, which is victoriously produced here. For the rest of the album the band wrapped more headbanging power metal cuts, from melodious "Machine", "The Final Stand" to the  goose bumping acoustic "Memoria's Longing".

The album formula is their successful blending of power, symphonic and progressive in style. Then added strong character voice from Jennifer, backed with excellent musicianship by the band.  Then voila, this is a surprise winter gift to power metal fans. Oh wait, it is summer actually on their atmosphere. As a female fronted band, one thing I glad is the band did not fall in the current trend to added nonsense death metal growling voices in their song. Liberator is much serious and ambitious works compared to their debut. In the cliche of connoisseur word, their debut (As The Truth Appears) is the opening red Shiraz but Liberator is the unexpected powerful blend of Chardonnay - Semillon - Riesling (!??) from the Southern valley. Do not let this one slip without a heavy sip.

Favorite tracks: Dawn Brings No Mercy, Machine, The Final Stand, Memoria's Longing
Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Divine Ascension - Liberator (2014)

01. Dawn Brings No Mercy 06:31
02. Stronger 05:31
03. Liberator 06:07
04. My Contender Lies 05:48
05. Sorrow's Sacrifice 05:54
06. Crystal Tears 05:30
07. Machine 06:28
08. Red Sky 05:18
09. The Final Stand 05:46
10. Hideaway 05:52
11. Memoria's Longing 05:32

Jennifer Borg - Vocals
Karl"Inski" Szulik - Guitars
Robb Inglis - Guitars
Luke Wenczel - Drums
David Van Pelt - Keys
Jason Meracis - Bass

See also , Divine Ascension As The Truth Appears 2011 review


Demian Heuke - Treumal (2014)

Continuing our journey in search for excellent guitar shred album this year, come across Demian Heuke's Treumal. This is a promising debut album from this Germany based guitarist. Still quite little unknown about Demian, where the biggest clue is his connection with guitarist Adrian Weiss from the same area. Treumal is faithful guitar album that colorfully done with heavy metal as main style. It is in the same wake of other melodic shredder such as Adrian Weiss, Daniel Liverani and Marco Sfogli.

The first opening is such a simple riff yet ever green for guitar instrumental. 30 Ballons is the happy champers of I-V-vi-IV chord progression we haven't heard in long times. Dennis Hormes in guest soloing in this track. This song is a true showcase of the guitarist ability as well with frenzy licks rolling all over it. The 2nd track is This Is Now, the opening riff is a two bar licks that also familiar to ears. His guitar best friend Adrian Weiss is the invited guest. While on Jimmy, we move to mid tempo, non violence melodious song that come along with acoustic guitar accompaniment. Alive is a lively wah-wah driven song, excellent bass line at the backdrop. Iced Kingdom is the tip of shred iceberg camouflage by its calm opening. Funky Valentine is as the title suggested a funk orientated composition. Treumal is melodic mid tempo that once again very enjoyable and reflective. The other half of the album contained mostly calm and meditative composition. Such as Diminished Wind that explore the most from the diminished scale to make it as pensive as possible.

Overall a very well written guitar instrumental album. Demian Heuke balance all the thing about composition and guitar playing. The licks are bringing inspirations for listener. Treumal is a quick fall in love album where can be enjoyed by general audience and also die hard guitar fans. This album can come along shoulder to shoulder with his friend, Adrian Weiss album where he also a guest contributor.

Favorite Tracks: 30 Ballons, Treumal
Metal Harem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Demian Heuke - Treumal (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1 30 Ballons (Dennis Hormes guest solo)
2 This Is Now (Adrian Weiss guest solo)
3 Jimmy
4 Alive (Christoph Kaczmarczyk guest solo (1:08-1:40))
5 Iced Kingdom
6 Funky Valentine
7 Treumal
8 Astronomy
9 Just Breathing
10 Diminished Wind
11 Suffering
12 Daily Settlement

All guitars played and composed by Demian Heuke

Line Up:
Drums - Lars Zehner
Bass - mf-c
Guitar - Demian Heuke
Produced by Demian Heuke and mf-c
Engineered mixed and mastered by mf-c @ "mf-c`s recording hell" studio Dusseldorf / Germany 2013 - 2014
Artwork: Gustavo Sazes ASTRATA


Andy Martongelli – Spiral Motion (2014)

We are once again introduced to a new solo guitar album called Spiral Motion. This is recorded by lead guitar of Arthemis, power metal band from Italy. As the trend right now, a numerous of guest guitarists are present. This is ranging from ever popular Michael Angelo Bation (looks like Michael presented in any important shred album releases in 2014) to Dave Martone fame.

We have triumphant feel song as the opening  in Eternal. Enjoy plenty of shred licks of course. We are really going spiral where on the 2nd track comes Screaming Ninja. A very screaming inspirational theme, with all the exotic scale throw in with no mistakes. Another roller coaster of style is happened again in the third song called Infected-Garbage-Blues. Exactly as the title, this is infected furry shred tracks, wittily comes as blues-base composition. After a loud bang in Venomous, we also got sentimental Father in very touching melodic instrumental ballad. Cyber-Hammer of the Gods is specifically designed to get laid down by multiple guitarists. Dark Days is once again a slow yet melodious guitar piece. Jump to the last track, Bite the Bullet is the final track which end the album in blitz dual guitar attack. Solo guitarist Dave Martone join the force to make this encore goes crazier.

Spiral Motion is a loud guitar album. There are various styles emerge in this album with a dominating sounds is in heavy metal. Andy's styles also ranging from classic '80 Shrapnel era (listen to Phoenix Rising) to modern, electronic infused sounds. There are two seriously captivating slow tempo songs as mentioned above. Any guitar fans will found this album ready to rock their day.

Favorite tracks: Dark Days, Screaming Ninja
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Andy Martongelli – Spiral Motion (2014)

Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Eternal
02. Screaming Ninja
03. Infected-Garbage-Blues
04. Venomous
05. Father
06. Cyber-Hammmer of the Gods (f. Michael Angelo Batio, Dave Reffet, Alex Stornello)
07. Dark Days
08. Phoenix Rising
09. Dead Symphony
10. Bite the Bullet (f. Dave Martone)

Andy Martongelli: Guitars
Brendan Farrugia: Bass
Corrado Rontani: Drums
Enrico Marchiotto: Keyboards and Sound Loops
Franz Bazzani: Keyboards on “Infected-Garbage-Blues” and “Cyber-Hammer of the Gods”

Special Guests:
Michael Angelo Batio (Nitro)
Dave Reffet (Guitar World Magazine)
Alex Stornello (Angels & Demons)
Dave Martone


Stéphan Forté - Enigma Opera Black (2014)

As Adagio gone hiatus for several years now, guitarist Stéphan Forté took time to work more into his guitar compendium. As we already seen from his 2011 releases (The Shadow Compendium), Stephan shock us again with his newest dark opera, an album called Enigma Opera Black (Zeta Nemesis) 2014. This album once again explore the classic road of neo-classical guitar shred. Invited to his party are ex-neo-classical warrior, the legendary ex-Megadeth Marty Friedman on board. As for today's shred generation, they were represented by three most prominent figures, Andy James, Paul Wardingham and Marco Sfogli.

Short Virtuosity Etude acts as entrance to the album. It is exactly what an etude should be, there's enough challenge for re-playing it for passionate guitarist, yet the musical melodic aspect should also exist. For the first full length composition, Enigma Opera Black, Stephan did not let listeners fall into mainstream neo-classical shell. This enigmatic dark piece, featuring Andy James, is in full throttle of blitzing shreds. The same thing happened also in Zeta Nemesis, this low riff dominant song is in exotic scale and for sure Marty Friedman is the right guy to asked for it. The title maybe inspired by Japanese Gundam franchise series, the Gundam Zeta. Sector A: UNDEAD is industrial feel, featuring Australian Paul Wardingham which is also fit his hi-tech style. More rather calm song is Pure, slow tempo but yet again not a very straight forward guitar ballad we used to hear. Entering Sigma Scorpii is in the star and the galaxy feel, this one got a nice drumming groove in the middle part. Stephan also has his India-theme piece called Praying Lord Bhairava At The Foot Of Mount Kailash. A lot of guitarist composed music inspired by this region such as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. As for the last featuring guitarist, Marco Sfogli, there goes a progressive metal composition in Suspended Tears Into Space. Marco who close association with James LaBrie and his prog solo is happy with this track for sure.

Sure this album is not for every one. Those expected sweet and clean melodic guitar sweep should take pre-caution. Stephan put all his tricky composition in this album. Still the majority of contents can be best to describe as neo-classic in style, blending into djent-like atmosphere. If you like uncompromised shred album, without mainstream cliche licks and riff, Enigma Opera Black will have a lot of stuff to please you.

Favorite track: Entering Sigma Scorpii, Praying Lord Bhairava..... , Suspended Tears Into Space
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Stéphan Forté - Enigma Opera Black (2014)

01. Short Virtuosity Etude
02. Enigma Opera Black [Feat. Andy James]
03. Zeta Nemesis [feat. Marty Friedman]
04. Sector A: UNDEAD [feat. Paul Wardingham]
05. Pure
06. Entering Sigma Scorpii
07. Praying Lord Bhairava At The Foot Of Mount Kailash
08. Suspended Tears Into Space [feat. Marco Sfogli]
09. Peace

Stéphan Forté - guitars, keyboards, programming
Co Producer: Kevin Codfert (Adagio)


Wayne Calford - Shred Alliance (2014)

If you are an aspiring (shred) guitarist, what would be more lovely than making a shred album and invited bunch of other (shred) guys to play in.Unaware among (mainstream) shredder society, here comes guitarist/composer Wayne Calford hail from Trimsaran, which is in Wales, which is in UK. In this extremely crowded guitar instrumental album called Shred Alliance, Wayne pacify as many as guitarists on Earth just like King James uniting as many kingdoms available in Great Britain. Not a bad move at all. Fans of Michael Angelo Batio will be thrilled once again, the other "popular" names are Per Nilsson and Simone Mularoni. There are also none other than dozen of "independent" yet extremely talented guitarist along side. In one word, this is indeed Shred Alliance, deliberately created to amused as many as guitar lovers.

The overall style in this album is shred, shred, neo-classical, prog-metal, with lots of comedic licks and cameos. Here's a lengthy explanation on each tracks: Return to Tabernacl, is djent-like in styles, uncompromised shred in fastest way possible, featuring Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry which comes in different set of guitar scale near the end. Spirit of Guitar, is neo-classical and progressive in styles, something of early Symphony X sounds with nice touch of Oriental scale in the beginning. For maestro Michael Angel Batio, is Speed Thrills, no doubt on its running speed, so this is shred as hell. Fretburn comes just like a medley to Speed Thrills, it is not actually, this track has a good groovy riff inside, also shred in fastest possible way. Shred City is more fun side, sounds American country in shred version, also bit of neo-classical and blues licks in between. Valley of the Cursed Guitar is kind of RHCP groove in sounds, pretty much contrasting point in this album.

Legacy of Shred is already scary just by reading the title, it is, it is developed from slow arpeggios intro, this is can be describe as shred guitar in doom metal-like. The guest in this track is the hardest to known because less information available in Google. Epical Guitar Quest is to avoid criticism from sexist and feminist, because the guest is a female, very talented, guitarist Jacqui Taylor. The song is the most easy listening, understandable for wider audience, nice one. S.O.S. (Strings of Solace) is calm in the intro but then an Helloween-March of Time-like intro kicks in. Day of the Shred is the second song with "shred" in title, it lifted up the word reputation and it is shred indeed. The Ghost of Cadno Music is different set of music, this is melodic composition in slower tempo, featuring perhaps one of family member. Shred Rising is another caution song title to anticipated, this is more intrigue composition where you'll need to write down the tempo meter if you would like to drum it. On other hand, The Guitarstrophe is the third song with word "guitar" in title, it is psychedelic in scale and going to bring you into other strophe and dimension. And the last one is Making a Stand, very "ending" feel, it is like a blurring melodic that rotating in your head after a couple of Wales beer, the surprised point is, it has a vocal (or voices) in the song.

The album is a nice homage to many well known as well as arising talents. Thought many of the shred parts down to similar road, but the guest and composition covered this up pretty well. Recording and mixing are slightly less spectacular due to perhaps self done by Wayne. Shred Alliance lift up its name with tons of shred licks and killing solos.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Wayne Calford - Shred Alliance (2014)

01. Return to Tabernacl feat. Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry )
02. Spirit of Guitar feat. Michael.A.Ruelas (solo guitarist USA/Mexico)
03. Speed Thrills feat. Michael Angelo Batio (solo guitarist USA)
04. Fretburn feat. Simone Mularoni (DGM, Lalu)
05. Shred City feat. Nick Sandt (solo guitarist Ohio USA)
06. Valley of the Cursed Guitar feat. Timothy Reid (solo guitarist UK)
07. Legacy of Shred feat. Dave Bowes (solo, ?)
08. Epical Guitar Quest feat. Jacqui Taylor (female solo guitarist, UK)
09. S.O.S (Strings of Solace) feat. Rodrigo Tabare Fernandez (solo guitarist, AUS)
10. Day of the Shred feat. Pete Pachio (solo guitarist USA)
11. The Ghost of Cadno Music feat. Gareth Calford (...family member)
12. Shred Rising feat. Andy Rosser-Davies (Onslaught)
13. The Guitarstrophe feat. Doug Steele (solo guitarist, ?)
14. Making a Stand feat. Kyle Watherston (solo guitarist, UK)


Allen Lande The Great Divide (2014)

The duo of Russell Allen and Jorn Lande strike again with their fourth album. Though they are doing fine with Magnus Karlsson as their man behind the wheel, composer in charge, in this album Timo Tolkki is taking over the rule. That's right, the whole heavy metal sounds is kinda off and changes into Tolkki-style melodic metal. The Great Divide gives us Allen-Lande-Tolkki project instead because of how strong the tide of Timo Tolkki.

"Come & Dream With Me" is ultimately follow the path of Revolution Renaissance's "I Did It My Way"  for its melodic intro. Now that both Jorn and Lande executed this version in different feel so it's worth the whole make up. As in many Timo Tolkki's songs the chorus is melodic and epic. "Down From The Mountain" is another mimicry to a riff in RR's "We Are Magic", which is also greatly a face over with both Russell Allen and Jorn voices bring the tide to the next level of Tolkki's world. "In The Hands Of Time" is likely familiar to our ear but I can't find close references to this song. It is kind of dividing feel here, a happy one-two drumming but the voices really like to takes us to melancholy area. "Solid Ground" is finally something close to the vocalist's style, in similar to the whole Jorn world in Masterplan and his solo works. "Lady Of Winter" is mid tempo power metal feel with best associated with early Stratovarius works. With duo vocalist join power, the harmony in the chorus is really strong. The rest of songs are variation of their crossbreeding, notable of course "The Great Divide" which is start with dark nuances then developed into six minutes song with more and more operatic voices of both maestro.

This is surely an album where Timo Tolkki should stamped his name on it. Even un-aware listener with quickly notice his present. After three albums with Magnus Karlsson style, it is always fun to have the whole duo swift into this familiar, power-metal friendly, style. The Great Divide is ultimate collaboration between Allen / Lande + Timo Tolkki. This album is a testing ground for those who keen to know what really happened if Timo been provided to heavy metal vocalists. Singers with harsh and heavy vocals as in both Jorn + Lande, not sweet and power as in Kotipelko or Kiske. The result is of course positive. Eventually most of Tolkki's element was grander repetition to his trademark, but the vocal rendition of both vocalist cover this up and make this one an enjoyable and valuable recording.

Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten
Favorite tracks: Come & Dream With Me, Down From The Mountain, Lady of Winter

Buy it Here - Amazon
Allen Lande - The Great Divide (2014)

01. Come & Dream With Me
02. Down From The Mountain
03. In The Hands Of Time
04. Solid Ground
05. Lady Of Winter
06. Dream About Tomorrow
07. Hymn For The Fallen
08. The Great Divide
09. Reaching For The Stars
10. Bittersweet

Russell Allen - lead and backing vocals (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob, Star One, Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
Jørn Lande - lead and backing vocals (Jorn, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, Avantasia, ex-Masterplan)
Timo Tolkki - guitars, bass, keyboards (Timo Tolkki's Avalon, ex-Stratovarius, ex-Revolution Renaissance, ex-Symfonia)
Jami Huovinen - drums, percussion (Ring of Fire)


Kilmara - Love Songs and Other Nightmares (2014)

Meet another metal band from Spain, well Barcelona to be specific, it is Kilmara on the spot now. The quintet just release their 3rd full length album titled Love Songs and Other Nightmares. Having already produced two albums before, Kilmara enjoy their mature period as a metal band that really spanned their music styles across the heavy metal genre. Do not see the cover appearances only, which may led you thinking about gothic-esque metal, and also their death-metal sounds band name "Kilmara". Indeed, they are one of multi-styles band that mixed power, heavy, thrash and death metal as they pleased. In short they have something of European meet American things. It may sounds overwhelming and confusing on paper, but Kilmara wrapped them in quite a polished manner.

We start with "Fantasy" which offer grooving guitar riffs as the intro. Sounds very 'European' power but yet we quickly surprised by the 'American' singing styles by the vocalist. Not further away, the arrival of death metal voices in the background blurred the things out. This is the style we need to compromise for the next hour. This opening bring us a reminiscence of Rage and bit of phrases borrowed from as far as Queensryche and Death. "The Devil's Eye" is simpler and straightforward to described. It is kind of '80s thrash metal tune with lower vocals and Slayer-like twin guitar attacks. Indeed this sounds is what they favor.  In this similar styles is group of songs : "The Break Up", which is thrash to power with lots of vocal harmonies they toyed out so far;  "Cold Rain",  intro is catchy, again a baritone voiced in charge separate this song from traditional high pitch power metal. Happened to be their strong cuts; "Nothing to Me", full throttle double pedal attacks but with a vocal that kind of modern and clean. Those who close to European power metal are "Usual Strangers" and the folk and rhythmic "Alpha". The last three songs fall into different feels, from progressive "Insomnia" and "Play to Win", to alternative-stoner "Time Flies". This last song also come in Spanish-Deustch, and it is clear that the song should be enjoyed more in their native language.

We will also found two interesting details about Love Songs and Other Nightmares; Roland Grapow is on board, well as producer or mentor perhaps, and it is released now under Sony Music. Not so clear how the maestro Roland Grapow in influencing their styles (they seems out of ordinary styles, though....). This album should be listening without concerning what the hell the categorization they may fall in. The guys just trying to composed good music, and with their huge library of music, this is a successful one.


Favorite tracks: Nothing to Me, Usual Strangers, Alpha
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Kilmara - Love Songs and Other Nightmares (2014)

01. Fantasy
02. The Devil's Eye
03. The Break Up
04. Cold Rain
05. Believe
06. Nothing to Me
07. Usual Strangers
08. Alpha
09. Insomnia
10. Play to Win
11. Time Flies
12. Time Flies (Spanish / Deustch) (Bonus Track)

Line Up:
Christian Wolfgang Kohl (vocals)
Jonathan Portillo (guitar)
Enrique Torres (guitar)
Javier Morillo (drums)
Raul Ruiz (bass)

Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween)
Pilar Villatobas (Resilence)

Record Label: Sony Music


The Francesco Artusato Project - Our Dying Sun (2014)

The Francesco Artusato Project is exactly your dearest Devil You Know, All Shall Perish guitarist solo memento. Our Dying Sun is his second full length album. It is very much similar to his previous works, combined only guitar instrumental in progressive metal genre. In this eleven tracks of shred guitar, Francesco made it the sounds of destruction, futuristic, industrial and apocalypse theme. You got the idea, well just observe the cover art.

There are not much melodic line here. Songs are dominated by heavy dissonance, low string 'djent' like distortion. The representative track is "Our Dying Sun" for description above.  The other landmark point is "Infinite Waves", where the author spare some movement for drum, keyboards and bass to shine. Or maybe listen to "Sleeples Night" where the we got more down to earth leading riffs and melodies. Compared to its predecessor album, Chaos and the Primordial, Our Dying Sun sounds more homogeneous, from song writing to guitar tones.  If you like the idea of exploring one hour end-of-the-world theme shred guitar album, this one is for you.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

The Francesco Artusato Project - Our Dying Sun (2014)

01. 210
02. Gates of Reason
03. Our Dying Sun
04. Divergence
05. Infinite Waves
06. Burning Leaves
07. Sleepless Night
08. Miura
09. Blood From a Stone
10. Omega
11. Spirito

Line Up:
Francesco Artusato (Devil You Know, All Shall Perish)

Guests Guitarists:
Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry)
Wes Hauch (ex-The Faceless)
Ryan Knight (The Black Dahlia Murder)


Mr.Big - ...the Stories We Could Tell (2014)

Among many things music can do, it is they bring back memories. Mr.Big, surely the band with big memories inside and their music do brings them back. They are in the mainstream movement of  '80s hair metal band. Not only because of  "To Be With You", but also because of their amazing discography, that actually span about four to five successful studio albums. The memories of the quartet, Eric, Paul, Billy and Pat together was firm, Richie Kotzen too. Later they are the band that made Farewell Party, yet to come back later, and it was only in 2011. Today, Mr.Big's eight studio album was in our hand, .... the Stories We Could Tell is one kind of story about this amazing band.

 Yap, "Gotta Love The Ride" preserved Mr.Big historical sounds. It ride us far away back to the golden era. It has their typical downstroke power chord, smoothly solo, familiar choruses. "I Forget To Breathe" is still fast tempo song, straight forward from verse to choruses all in a quick secession. Kind of blues-rock feel. Don't forget to breathe when it come to the guitar solos. "Fragile" is sounds generic at the start, an AOR feel in mid tempo, but it has power choruses that easy to remember. "Satisfied", is traditionally the one word "-ed" song title and it always belong to excellent guitar leads tunes. Satisfied seems to be a guitar first and sing it later song. Acoustic stories bring down to "The Man Who Has Everything", brings back to every Mr.Big acoustic ballad we ever knew. "The Monster In Me"? is about two monstrous 'leads' instrument, Paul and Billy in action, this song put they battling each other for a spot of "rhythm guitar".

"East/West" is another acoustic intro leads to anthem mid tempo rock song. "Just Let Your Heart Decide" as the title suggest is pretty much Just Take My Heart in sequel. Jump to the last track we got "the Stories We Could Tell" a thick southern blues rock song to close this album. Of course with one wicked live bonuses for a memorable "Addicted To That Rush" , all to reminds us to the great Mr.Big.

This is the album that make you want to call your old buddies from the high school. "... the Stories..." is great album with great concept, it did not loose anything from Mr.Big yet powerful and fresh in writing. It going to please new and old fans. Their chemistry seems unparalleled, with every four of them doing exactly the right things. The real hair metal in revived without the sense rusty or out dated. Even the live track sounds very exciting and new. Welcome back.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Mr.Big - ...the Stories We Could Tell (2014)

01. Gotta Love The Ride
02. I Forget To Breathe
03. Fragile
04. Satisfied
05. The Man Who Has Everything
06. The Monster In Me
07. What If We Were New?
08. East/West
09. The Light Of Day
10. Just Let Your Heart Decide
11. It’s Always About That Girl
12. Cinderella Smile
13. The Stories We Could Tell
14. Addicted To That Rush (live; exclusive bonus track)

Eric Martin – vocals
Paul Gilbert – guitars
Billy Sheehan – bass
Pat Torpey – drums


Flying Colors - Second Nature (2014)

In Second Nature, Flying Colors entering their 'casual dating' phase. Just as Mike Portnoy metaphored "... the first album (Flying Colors) was very much a blind date,.. now we know each other and have much more chemistry..." . Now be aware of what they called 'chemistry'. Second Nature is completely different game. The casual dating produced more hardcore prog materials by the quintet. They are still remained the same, Mike Portnoy, Morse and Morse, together with LaRue and Casey McPherson. This is the album for those who loves each of them, from DT fans to Dixie Dregs to Ayreon-like in Neal Morse's style.

"Open Up Your Eyes" is worth a note to see how progressive material may came out from their collaborations since it is in staggering 12 minutes long. This one very much Neal Morse in style. A thick keyboard leads, follows by Portnoy power drumming. Of course Steve did not stay there for nothing, he is not letting Neal get all the fun. Every notes still sounds very Steve Morse, but it is good to see him 'forced' to played in different water. Dave LaRue himself, found nothing 'new' on this as he already done it millions times, perfect groove perfect fill in every moments. The ending of this song sounds like a homage to the Dream Theater traces, perhaps Portnoy's idea.

"Mask Machine" on other is a lighter song. Casey is now backed with the McCrary Sisters to produced this ambitious song where they try to reproduced old '80s cartoon like sounds. The same distortions sounds repeated on "Bombs Away", and again away from their two previous songs. "Bomb Away" is closer and closer to rock song, with vocal came as leading voices. Duo Morse in panning distortion is also a feature here. Now, "The Fury of My Love" is closer to Dream Theater works. There is James LaBrie-things in the vocals and Jordan-things in the keyboards. Just another weird 'chemistry' from them.

"A Place in Your World" , not trying to make it up, but this sounds Steve Morse. The intro at least reminds us to Steve Morse solo portfolio. "Lost Without You" is a lovely tunes, my favorite simple song from this album. You got original drum leading song, nice song writing on this one. "One Love Forever" , a sliding guitar song in folk dancing rhythm, interesting if you got these guys doing it. And at least one dark theme song in "Peaceful Harbor", this is kind of emotional ballad we have. And at least one epic for the ending. It's like the end of jamming session, "Cosmic Symphony" is a must material where Neal, Steve, Mike, Dave unleashed their musical passion, with an interruption of Casey ever haunting vocals.

Second Nature is their casual jamming materials we might expected. It's different from their debut, where song are more vocal in nature. Second Nature come as prog in front. Good news on that, a bit of down notes is we think this albums sounds too Neal-Mike projects. Hard to evade since the duo already in several projects, in Neal Morse band and Transtlantic. As ending note, we urge Portnoy to produced his other pet project too, The Winery Dogs.

Favorite songs: all, "Lost Without You", "Open Up Your Eyes", "Mask Machine"
Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Flying Colors - Second Nature (2014)

1. "Open Up Your Eyes" 12:24
2. "Mask Machine" 6:06
3. "Bombs Away" 5:03
4. "The Fury of My Love" 5:10
5. "A Place in Your World" 6:25
6. "Lost Without You" 4:46
7. "One Love Forever" 7:17
8. "Peaceful Harbor" 7:01
9. "Cosmic Symphony
 I. "Still Life of the World" — 3:15
 II. "Searching for the Air" — 2:58
 III. "Pound for Pound" — 5:33" 11:4

 Steve Morse – lead and rhythm guitar
 Casey McPherson – lead vocals
 Neal Morse – keyboards, vocals
 Dave LaRue – bass guitar
 Mike Portnoy – drums, percussion, vocals

 Additional Personnel
 The McCrary Sisters – background vocals on "Peaceful Harbor" and "Cosmic Symphony"
 Chris Carmichael – strings on "The Fury of My Love" and "Peaceful Harbor"
 Shane Borth – strings on "Bombs Away"
 Eric Darken – hand drums on "One Love Forever"


Mike LePond's Silent Assassins - Mike LePond's Silent Assassins (2014)

It's been a while for the whole member of Symphony X come together and release new music. In the meantime, most of them are busily doing side projects. Mike LePond, is one of their busiest one. Mike then decided to pull out his very own solo album, bravely his small gang as "Mike LePond's Silent Assassins", self titled and released September 2014. He also bring along Michael Romeo for six seven string-ing the album, and also ,eyebrow-risingly, as drum programmer. What's wrong with hiring real drummer you ask, and how awesome to programmed the whole progressive metal album drum track you wondered.

This album shared the same style with Symphony X, the progressive part are lessened, substitute with more heavy to thrash metal. The opener "Apocalypse Rider" tells us that we should expected straight forward heavy driven guitars riffs rather than seeing some mind twisted chord progression ala Symphony X. I agree that we see a lot of American heavy metal on this song, something like Anvil crossover with Symphony X. Alan Tecchio vocals is close to Russel Allen, un-alarmed listener may thing that is Russel in charge. Take no mistake, Alan doing his job in great shape. After this heavy opener, "Red Death" begin to show whom is this album belong to. Mike LePond starts the song with his bass show off, many more through out the album. With a basic single pedal drum pattern, Red Death still played in the style of very-Anvil feel. More closer to the European power metal is "The Quest", minor feel and addition of violin/viola/cello parts, lengthy bass solo, brings us to the folk - power - prog territory. "The Outsider" is another song that highlighted lots of bass parts. "Masada" is majority played in acoustic setup, epic ballad in the style of Manowar combined with good old David Coverdale days. A couple of heavy driven songs in between and let's jump to the last track, "Oath and Honor" is the epic ending track. Longest track in the reflections of Helloween and typical European symphonic metal orchestration.

This is a bass-fronted album with quite wide choices of styles inside. It will well enjoyed by many fans ranging from prog-head, power metaller, and general heavy fans. And guitar shred lover also, for the sake of Michael Romeo and Mike Metal parts. The kind of bringing bass sounds to the front is what gives this album even more credit. Song writing in another factor to make this album heavy yet easy to listen. This is an excellent heavy / progressive metal album came in parallel to its creator fame, bassist of Symphony X Mike LePond.

Favorite tracks: Red Death, Masada, Oath and Honor
Metal Harem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon
Mike LePond's Silent Assassins - Mike LePond's Silent Assassins (2014)

01. Apocalypse Rider
02. Red Death
03. The Quest
04. The Outsider
05. Masada
06. Silent Assassins
07. Ragnarok
08. The Progeny
09. Oath and Honor


Mike LePond - Bass (Symphony X)
Metal Mike - Guitars (Halford, Testament)
Michael Romeo - Guitars and Drum programming (Symphony X)
Alan Tecchio - Vocals (Hades, Watchtower)


Nicolas Waldo - Master Of The Universe (2014)

This short duration of album is a brief showcase of Colombian guitarist Nicolas Waldo. Master Of The Universe happen to be his 5th full length albums according to Metal Encyclopaedia. In this brief essay, there is only one style needed to concern. Master of The Universe is none other than shred, shred and shred. There is no tasty chord progression as like any prog metaller, this is only accompaniment backing track and then Nicolas lay down his faster than lightspeed licks all over.

So, it's understandable if all track running at 160 bpm, then the whole song duration should be much lesser than those who play in 80, right isn't? From Space And Time  right to lastly The Everlasting, there is only neo-classical arpeggios, sweep, tapping, and everything in between to fill in the lightspeed drum track. Stand out is the main title, Master Of The Universe, where the ecstasy of listening shred genre is here. Or maybe there is second styles here, shred acoustic tang, Prince of Peace in the end of the album comes with a mercy to our ear because of Nicolas also play us a sweet acoustic songs.

Master Of The Universe is for those who need to play loud guitar music to wake up his neighborhood. It's only run at 23 minutes where you will find it equal to listening one song of Dream Theater's A Season of Changes. If you like fast guitar and care less about other bull**** , this is the album to satisfy your need.

Favorite songs: Master Of The Universe, Prince Of Peace, Multiverse
Metal Harem class: ******* seven stars out of ten

Nicolas Waldo - Master Of The Universe (2014) 
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Space And Time
2. Starburst
3. Master Of The Universe
4. Lightspeed
5. Galaxy Cluster
6. Supernova
7. The Everlasting
8. Prince Of Peace
9. Multiverse

MISTHERIA (Bruce Dickinson, Mark Boals, Rob Rock)
Recorded at Constain Studios // Meggido Records Studios
Produced by Nicolas Waldo - All Guitars and Bass lines by Nicolas Waldo.
Drums by Miguel Rodriguez.

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