Gamma Ray - Empire Of The Undead (2014)

More than twenty years ago when Helloween split Kai Hansen from their unit, it was actually the beginning of Gamma Ray, a band that will later supply the power metal world with many great songs. They are one of the band that defined the genre. Cut the story short, on their last four years of busy activities, since To The Metal! (2010), Skeletons & Majesties (2012), Kai Hansen and corps are back in business with full album, Empire Of The Undead. On the promotion blurbs, Kai Hansen promised more thrash metal vibe into it.

Strangely, the first track Avalon is kind of Iron Maiden mid tempo and lengthy story telling number. It is heavy, epic choruses and of course several minutes spend on solos improvisation. Not a bad opening at all. The riffs factory then back on Hellbent. This is none other than Gamma Ray classics, honestly, this even  reminds me  to the echo of Keeper of Seven Keys era. Pale Rider is rather humorous number, kind of mixing between oldies heavy metal riffs with glam metal singing style. With Kai Hansen on the vocals parts, this at least an interesting stuff to listen. Master of Confusion is another strong power metal feel with energetic vocal line. This follow by Empire of the Undead, a catchy song in the vibe of Judas or Save Us. There is only one contrasting point in the album, Time for Deliverance is a calm lamenting ballad.

On the whole, Empire Of The Undead has enough to satisfy fans whom may be letdown by Gamma Ray's latest previous albums. It's got Avalon, Hellbent, Master of Confusion and Empire of the Undead for recommendations. There also parts of album that playing variation of heavy metal from old Judas Priest-like track to ... well, Helloween. You can listen to the last track I Will Return as the compilation of cameos Gamma Ray wanted to put in. On the formation, Michael Ehre is the newest guy. As a quartet, all members are busy on their parts with significant duties. Beside the two dominating guitars, bassist Dirk Schachter also can be heard busy with his bass thumbing line.

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

Gamma Ray - Empire Of The Undead (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Avalon 09:21
02. Hellbent 05:22
03. Pale Rider 04:23
04. Born to Fly 04:31
05. Master of Confusion 04:54
06. Empire of the Undead 04:25
07. Time for Deliverance 05:10
08. Demonseed 06:38
09. Seven 05:07
10. I Will Return 06:55
11. Men, Martians and Machines (Live from the Final Studio Sessions) 3:5

Kai Hansen - guitars, vocals
Henjo Richter - guitars
Dirk Schlächter - bass
Michael Ehré - drums


Delain - The Human Contradiction (2014)

Dutch front gothic metaller, Delain is on their fourth studio album called The Human Contradiction. As with their previous albums, such as the most recent We Are the Others, the new album sticks close to their existing style. Heavy guitar distortion layer, combined with savvy synthesizer beat effects. On top of that, singer Charlotte Wessels is still the dominating factor in listening Delain.

Charlotte Wessels starts the album with her solos intro in Here Come the Vultures. The song kind of sad and mysterious in mood, something like bring us back to the '60s thriller movie soundtrack. On the second song is their heaviest track featuring Marco Hietala. Your Body Is A Battleground, is catchy song with full orchestra and choruses supports. It got a nice grrove as well. Guitar solos are there, but instead of giving speed light shredding, the solos play a long sustain notes with melody line integrated into the song. On classic piano ballad in gothic metal mood is Tell Me, Mechanist, featuring George Oosthoek. Sing To Me, is also another interesting song, dynamic singing line, symphonic metal, low string power chord and Marco Hietala harsh voices. They did not forget to also play a synthesizer dance beat elements, as found in Army of Dolls. For a total string and piano number is on the ballad Scarlet. Alissa White-Gluz from Agonist contributed her death metal voices in song of The Tragedy of the Commons.

The Human Contradiction also comes with another full disc of bonuses, a Live versions and orchestra version of their previous songs. On the album, the Human Contradiction is yet another wonderful stuffs of gothic metal / rock. It is the time now where Delain should stand equal to Within Temptation and Epica, all from the motherland of Netherland. In fact, where as those two bands are now heading for a new ventures, Delain is still in their original path where they just beginning to peak in quality. Charlotte Wessels has a great balance voices, wide range and flexibility. Beside the two opening cuts, Here Come the Vultures and Your Body Is A Battleground, I recommend Sing To Me and The Tragedy of the Commons as most favorite tracks of the album.

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

Delain - The Human Contradiction (2014) 
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Here Come the Vultures
02. Your Body Is a Battleground (featuring Marco Hietala)
03. Stardust
04. My Masquerade
05. Tell Me, Mechanist (featuring George Oosthoek)
06. Sing To Me (featuring Marco Hietala)
07. Army of Dolls
08. Lullaby
09. The Tragedy of the Commons (featuring Alissa White-Gluz)
10. Scarlet
11. Don't Let Go
12. My Masquerade (Live)
13. April Rain (Live)
14. Go Away (Live)
15. Sever (Live)
16. Stay Forever (Live)
17. Sing To Me (Orchestra version)
18. Your Body Is A Battleground (Orchestra version)

Charlotte Wessels (vocals)
Martijn Westerholt (keys)
Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije (bass)
Sander Zoer (drums)
Timo Somers (guitar)


Sonata Arctica - Pariahs Child (2014)

What we assumed that Sonata Arctica had gone into temporary 'style hiccup', is now endangered into permanent status. Is the band has had enough power metal as in their glory days of Reckoning Night or Ecliptica? According to vocalist Tony Kakko, that should not be an issue, because this album, not as 'different' as Stones Grow Her Name, will be a return to 'power metal'. On visual observation, the promises seems real, the cover album with associated wolf images has return.

The Wolves Die Young is a straightforward power song, the symphonic aura is back, although the use of bass fill in that beginning can be a bit alarming. Ok, move on to Running Lights, this song is a melodic call. A bit of over cliche in the choruses but nothing can call this off as 'power metal betrayal' neither. Then dearly, Take One Breath is maybe mood killing on that arpeggios intro, which not much connected to the heavier song its follow. Cloud Factory is pretty standard, but just remind us this is Sonata Arctica, so we expected more above standard tunes. Blood, What Did You Do In The War, Dad? and Half A Marathon Man all are of different mood, mostly new feel, especially the last mentioned song. X Marks The Spot is enjoyable lyrical driven song, maybe most interesting to listen carefully. Again we need to stand another experimental song in a piano ballad called Love. Then the whole styles mixing got the last episode in Larger Than Life. About ten minutes of opera-like writing, this is like Queen meet Meat Loaf meet power metal.

For technical matter, I found Pariah's Child is a bit of issue with the mixing. The guitars not heard as heavy as most of power metal band should be. The lack of leading riffs is leading us to dig a memory of Jani Limatainen. For exchange, the drum and bass are really up front on my speaker. Musically, expectation of Sonata Arctica being heavier than the previous two albums is approved. Nevertheless, styles changes is permanent by now, Pariah's Child is by far power metal album with lot of 'colorful' adds on. To found heavier straight forward symphonic stuffs as in the glory past, is unlikely. If you enjoy wider range of melodic metal, this album should be not much a problem to enjoy.

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

Sonata Arctica - Pariah's Child (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. The Wolves Die Young
02. Running Lights
03. Take One Breath
04. Cloud Factory
05. Blood
06. What Did You Do In The War, Dad ?
07. Half A Marathon Man
08. X Marks The Spot
09. Love
10. Larger Than Life

Tony Kakko - vocals, keyboards
Elias Viljanen - guitars
Tommy Portimo - drums
Henrik Klingenberg - keyboards
Pasi Kauppinen - bass


Anette Olzon - Shine (2014)

So what happen to dearest Anette Olzon? After her Nightwish storytime, the world seem cruelty abandoned her fame. It is only few months ago she announced a new solo album and being released this week. Shine is understandable an album with completely different tones and style, in comparition to Nightwish. As we can put the same to Tarja as well, this album is trying to reach wider audiences, but still depended her luck on her Nightwish-fan base. Shine is by far a pop-rock in majority. The producer is Stefan Örn of Eurovision, so you got the idea.

Nevertheless, as symphonic metal singer alumni, she reserved a spot in our community. Most of the songs are simple and short. Like A Show as the opener, a mellow pop rock with sweet strings and synth beats. Honestly speaking this album did not mean as a metal revenge to Nightwish. Instead Anette jump into the style that looks like fit her singing. The main title, Shine, is still without a sounds of guitar distortion. This is much thicker Euro dance track. The song is nice and easy to listen. The song that represent slightly similarity to gothic rock can be found in Lies. In this song, Anette explored lower voices so that the album have wider dynamic range. All the rest are simple song with only one or two main melody. One Million Piece is a nice piano ballad in the near end.

This is for sure a light and playful album. I don't think this is much a serious project with only 35 minutes in running. The things that rather interesting is, where is Anette heading for? Just observed Tarja, she is firmly putting foot into operatic-pop-rock genre, which is very strong and Tarja still the big sister in the circle. Anette should be no problem tackling the softer, pop-rock genre, with her known popularity. But this is a huge maneuver and I still believe some of Nightwish fans eager to listen heavier stuff from Anette. Either way, Shine is a first sign that she wanted to still existed. The room is still wider open for Anette to explored.

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

Anette Olzon - Shine (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Like A Show
2. Shine
3. Floating
4. Lies
5. Invincible
6. Hear Me
7. Falling
8. Moving Away
9. One Million Faces
10. Watching Me From Afar

Producer - Stefan Örn (2011 Eurovision Song Contest winning track ‘Running Scared’),
Co Producer - Johan Glössner, Anette Olzon
Mixed by Kronlund, Nicklas Flykt and Ronny Lahti

SpellBlast – Nineteen (2014)

As with Spellblast, I was attracted by their debut album, Horns Of Silence, in which came with great balance of folk elements and power metal. But it's only on their latest release Nineteen (2014), that I manage to catch up with the band again. The band has changed a bit, the lead singer is now Daniel Scavoni. He is a good replacement, changing the band's voices into more powerful, his character is compare to alike of Jorn and/or a slightly softer version of Russel Allen.

The first song Banished comes smoothly, starts with necessary introduction, then went into the familiar power metal feel. The guitar sounds great, making the simple power riffs accompanying the verses enjoyable. A safe start and nothing unusual, the solos is kicking as well. Eyes in the Void is having excellent drumming variation in the beginning, the song which starts in calm verses only perfected when the choruses reached later. There is a one minute plus instrumental works to follow, Highway to Lud. For a couple of listening, this folk experiment track will become familiar to your ear.  A World That Has Moved On is a fast moving number, the choruses with the title sentenced fit well. Meanwhile, the whole album is written on basis of Stephen King's Dark Tower saga, which I have no knowledge about. An orchestration interlude comes next, The Reaping is typical Italian symphonic metal with nice groove in it. The band gives a good atmospheric effect, a song titled Into Demon's Nest sounds exactly like a soundtrack in the nest of undead. On Shattered Mind, the band is on top of their conceptual song writing, putting the song into a dialog-ish like structures. In which several passage reminds us to Dream Theater's styles. And we still got half dozen of songs in the later part of the album.

Nineteen is a power metal album with consistency. On the whole album, there are many solid song writing inside. The band did not created much unnecessary experiments (except for track #3),  if you like a straight forward album this is for you. The usage of folk elements is rather less though on this release, rather they excelled in putting the whole album into more melodic feel. Another Italian power metal band to spend on!

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

SpellBlast – Nineteen (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Banished 03:46
2. Eyes in the Void 04:40
3. Highway to Lud 01:41
4. A World That Has Moved On 03:45
5. The Reaping 05:11
6. Into Demon’s Nest 03:51
7. Blind Rage 03:55
8. Shattered Mind 04:06
9. Until the End 04:37
10. We Ride 03:35
11. Programmed to Serve 04:07
12. Endless Journey 04:11
13. The Calling 05:36

Luca Arzuffi - Guitars
Xavier Rota - Bass
Daniele Scavoni - Vocals
Michele ''Mikymetal'' Olmi - Drums & Percussions


Lord Symphony – The Lord’s Wisdom (2014)

No kidding, Indonesia is one of top country in the SE Asia region regarding music cultures. As a result, the Republic raised many hard rock and heavy metal bands to please the public interest. Indonesia has been home to '80s hard rock legends such as God Bless, then Slank and many others. On the metal disciples, Edane was the main force back in '90s. These bands, in my memories, were far away ahead of their region's comrades. For side infos, Indonesia not only excelled hard music, but the annual Jak-Jazz is a major Jazz festival in international caliber. With such great achievement, it's only natural to have the republic one or two Symphonic Metal bands. But wait a seconds, on closer look, is there any notable Indonesian's power metal or symphonic band? Unfortunately, eventhough Helloween was quite a legend in Indonesia, none of the local young talent seems able to nurtured a decent power metal band. This is quite a phenomenons, the root of the problem is the country taste seems has little room for 'technical' music. The first philosophy is easy listening and easy to play, street level song, that the audiences interested at. In simple saying, literally there are only two styles of bands in Indonesia, first is the combination of boy-bands + rock thus fall in the term of Indo-rock styles, and on the far far other end, there are Indo-underground scenes. On the later, they are so ultra extreme half-grown-up-kids mambo stereotype, that the majority of the bands will give you a rainbow puke for their quality!

Enter, Lord Symphony! Hail, the sacrificial son of Indonesia power symphonic metal. Perhaps the strongest force in the resurrection of the genre nowadays. Lord Symphony was power / speed metal band from Indonesia, their base in Center Java province. Their mission is to re-introduce power metal into the local audiences. Literally, this is not difficult, because the names of Rhapsody of Fire, Stratovarius, Helloween, Gamma-Ray, all well known in this fifth most populous country in the world. Lord Symphony naively cited that those are bands of their influence. Great! The Lord's Wisdom is their second released as far as information gathered here. This is an album 100% percent deals with European symphonic metal spirit. The cover album is the one that win me over, the twin candi referred to Indonesian rich Hindu-Buddhist Javanese civilization, which promised to be incorporated into their songs. Rumored told the cover artwork was by artist with Deep Purple portfolio.

Prelude: Enter the.... , is the power metal intro with obvious song title. Gate of Lord is the main teaser, the opening riffs is promising. The improvisation followed on is putting the band in the same leagues of their far European rival of the same music styles. This is a lengthy instrumental track actually, cool! With this track, the musical skill requirements examination for power metal is far behind passed by the members. The party seems over, but with the introduction of Devil's Emotion, it is actually just begin. The song again enjoyed enormous amount of sentimentalization intro before we introduced to their vocalist, Monk Bhodi, who voices is metallic rough, reminds us to Kai Hansen! The music comparison can be described as similar to Gamma Ray as well. Mirror is yet another catchy song, with unique synthesizer intro followed by twin riffs attack, the song is a little bit glam metal feel, but in the shower of double pedal drums. Earth Beneath the Sky is their serious epic number, started slow then ascending into metal blast. We got to listen the ability of their singer in cleaner voices. Of course it will not be symphonic metal without the triumphant overture, Magic Knight's Destiny, is traditional speed metal of the '80s. Save the Universe is a track where the band half down their speed. Then we reach the Interlude: Moment of Silence, another musical rest for the next chapter. It's a bit of over repetitive for the theme, so a little bit of patience is required. The remaining four tracks serves mostly the same musical styles as the first half of the album. We got interesting drumming demo in the Key to Heaven.

Lord Symphony step up from the Indonesian crowd by playing power metal, instead of the over exposed 'easy-listening' Indo-rock that has more money. The band is on the same level if the European power metal scene was used as point of references. Lord Symphony has all the potential, highly trained band members, and their song writing skills are adequate to move on. The Lord's Wisdom is rich in writing, killer twin guitars solos and riffs and precise drumming. Of course, as the band that just existed, there are number of homework that need to be addressed. First, the mixing quality. The Lord's Wisdom didn't seems enjoy the worth mixing quality and most of the guitar sounds actually sounds inconsistent for each songs. The Lord's Wisdom is several step behind their European's comrades in term of sounds. This album sounds like they are published in the '80s. Secondly, is the classic originality issue. As far as they are from European crowds, but the fact is Indonesian power metal fans already has enough of Rhapsody of Fire, Helloween and Gamma Ray, how about putting power metal with lots of Indonesian ethnic elements. This idea seems still hesitated to be implemented by Lord Symphony even though they are exactly in the epicentrum of Candradimuka. A lots of gamelans, angklung, or peasant' flute is to be expected with such cover album in front. Third, the technically vocalist character that need to be internationally standard to voices English spoken lyrics, and without traces of local accent. Overall, for power metal miles from Olympus, Lord Symphony had done great job. Congratulation for Indonesian power metal fans, support the band and bought this album!

Metal Harem New Talent Recommendation!

Lord Symphony – The Lord’s Wisdom (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Prelude: Enter the…
02. Gate of Lord
03. Devil’s Emotion
04. Mirror
05. Earth Beneath the Sky
06. Magic Knight’s Destiny
07. Save the Universe
08. Interlude: Moment of Silence
09. Down to Holyland
10. Eleven Keys
11. Key to Heaven
12. Kings Will Be Kings

Monk Bhodi - Voices
Fai - Lead Guitar
Fuad Monster- Lead & Rhythm Guitar
Black - Bass
Dani - Keys
Ujie - Drums


Pretty Maids - Louder Than Ever (2014)

More than thirty years in melodic rock, Pretty Maids is Louder Than Ever for sure. In this album, the band seems higher spirit than ever, releasing a nostalgic re-recorded hit songs, altogether with bonus of four new songs. The band just passed their 30th anniversary and I really like their 2013 album called Motherland. The idea of this album was to re-recorded their prime hits from the past, re-arranged and re-touch with the current formation. On overall, Louder Than Ever stay honest to the title, this album is literally louder than their previous one.

Deranged as the first track is a new song. It's open with a distance, background surround effects of guitar riffs, then lead into slower tempo as the verses attacks in. I like the middle bridge sections where the drum seems like just exploded with its double pedal variation at 01:20. Such a perfectly composed song with great structures, song and solos. My Soul To Take is a combination of modern hard rock but still has a touch of oldies ballad feel. This is rather simple song with explosive choruses. Nuclear Boomerang is a concept song with obvious theme. Supported with aggressive tempo, the song is well reflected the lyric contents. Finally the last new song is a sweet ballad called A Heart Without A Home.

Of the rerecorded tracks, Playing God is obviously a display of late '90s era riffs. Taken from "Planet Panic" (2002), this new version is more straight forward, but leaving out several unique sounds from the original. Psycho Time Bomb Planet Earth is now a track that got more feel of power metal. This is quite a fresh version of the one found in 1995 album Scream. He Who Never Lived is switch into '90s glam metal guitar works. This is by far the most faithful version to the original, except I may missing the bass line variations that stand out. Virtual Brutality is modern sounding track, with techy guitar sounds and synthesizer effects. The vocal is a bit tame from the influences of nu-metal feel compare to the original.

There are still much songs in the album. I love them all, the variety of styles in this album is just killer. This is a cultivation of their 30 years in practice. Pretty Maids simply still being the best in melodic metal / rock. Their ideas are still highly creative. The philosophy of all-styles give them a broad area of practice. Grab this fast.

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

Pretty Maids - Louder Than Ever (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Deranged (New Song)
02. Playing God (Rerecorded)
03. Psycho Time Bomb Planet Earth (Rerecorded)
04. My Soul To Take (New Song)
05. He Who Never Lived (Rerecorded)
06. Virtual Brutality (Rerecorded)
07. Tortured Spirit (Rerecorded)
08. With These Eyes (Rerecorded)
09. Nuclear Boomerang (New Song)
10. Snakes In Eden (Rerecorded)
11. Wake Up To The Real World (Rerecorded)
12. A Heart Without A Home (New Song)

Ronnie Atkins – Vocals
Ken Hammer – Guitars
Morten Sandager – Keyboards
Rene Shades – Bass
Allan Tschicaja – Drums
Record Label: Frontiers Records


Demon Hunter - Extremist (2014)

After a quite successful released two years ago in True Defiance, Demon Hunter coming fresh again in new album of 2014, Extremist. This is another fifty minutes of metalcore act, straight away from their garage in Seattle. Extremist did not seemingly any different from True Defiance, except they are kind of going even more melodic and put the growling vocal parts slightly lessen compared to their previous-es.

You got that 2 minutes and a half introductionary track of chanting and growling on Death. Artificial Light is the one that acting as the real opener. It takes one minutes to build up, this is a rich in dynamic metalcore song. The whole song enjoyed a well written song structures, dynamically changing from fast - slow - attack and an interlude phases. What I'm Not is start with distinguished guitar fuzz distortion, a full strength of growling voices leads the whole song entirely. This song utilized an awesome guitar effects. On other hand, there is a song that rely on 'normal' voices, such as in the next track The Last One Alive. I Will Fail You is part of their macro dynamic, putting the tempo into doom-ish slow metronome or you may called it a ballad song. One Last Song is back to full forces. On the most groovy track, is Cross To Bear. A true deep throat slaying tunes. In Time comes with interesting guitar riffs in the its brief intro. Beyond Me is another bombastic song with crazy guitar works in the intro. Together with Gasoline, these two songs implemented a good works of machine-like beat. A bit of light mood and straight forward structure falls to the last track, The Heart Of A Graveyard.

Extremist continued Demon Hunter excellency in controlling their metalcore root with tons of creativity. From guitar works, drumming ideas to synthesizer technology. This is definitely an album with a lot of things to dig. Despite their dark images, Demon Hunter is known for their Christianity based theme, but this doesn't have any significant barrier on their music. Awesome album full of actions.

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

Demon Hunter - Extremist (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Death
02. Artificial Light
03. What I'm Not
04. The Last One Alive
05. I Will Fail You
06. One Last Song
07. Cross To Bear
08. Hell Don't Need Me
09. In Time
10. Beyond Me
11. Gasoline
12. The Heart Of A Graveyard
13. Waste Me
14. Helpless Hope

Ryan Clark - vocals
Jon Dunn - bass
Timothy "Yogi" Watts - drums
Patrick Judge - guitar
Jeremiah Scott - guitar


Asia - Gravitas (2014)

Two years after the last album by supergroup Asia (it's called XXX), there comes brand new one called Gravitas. On remarks, this is the fourteen studio album by Asia, but the first featuring brand new guitarist Sam Coulson of only 27 years old. Sam is almost 20 years apart his band mates. On Sam Coulson, he was previously making fame by hitting Youtube celebrity status, successfully attracted Paul Gilbert's attention and his career sealed in when Asia shortlisted him.

Gravitas is mostly consisted of mid-tempo songs, very much stayed in the same water as in XXX. Valkyrie as the opener is a sign that the band maximized their creativity on the softer melodic rock feel. The song is having less obvious usage of guitar riffs, but thick organ/keyboards layers plus an upfront lead drumming. Of course the stealing attention is the vocals chorus harmony that having significant portion throughout the song. The next song Gravitas is heavy in keyboard showcase by Geoff Downes in the intro. This song has another solid leading beat and the guitars distortion sounds is perfectly match the song requirement. The Closer I Get To You is lyrical piano ballad, very radio friendly. Nyctophobia also did not raise more heaviness compared to the tracks we reviews just now. On Heaven Help Me Now, we got another sequences of orchestration that completely contrasting the followed up theme. Joe Di Maggio's Voice is as interest as the title suggested, it's a baseball catchphrase, the song begin in sweet e-piano sounds and indeed another enjoyable ballad. You can get the full acoustic version later. The last song is Till We Meet Again, is a light wild west theme song.

Overall, Gravitas runs in modest melodic rock trail. Not much wild and crazy riffs, but the catchy-ness is still present. Geoff Downess seems like the leading instrumentalist with Sam Coulson is happy with his melodic blues solos. John Wetton of course still got his magic voices to maintained Asia sounds. Compared to XXX, Gravitas is even more subtle in tempo, emphasizes more into the song structure and composition. Good news is, Gravitas still pretty much on Asia original identity, even after more than thirty years of career. A great prolonged legacy.

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

Asia - Gravitas  (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. Valkyrie
2. Gravitas
3. The Closer I Get To You
4. Nyctophobia
5. Russian Dolls
6. Heaven Help Me Now
7. I Would Die For You
8. Joe Di Maggio's Glove
9. Till We Meet Again
10. The Closer I Get To You (Acoustic)
11. Joe Di Maggio's Glove (Acoustic)

John Wetton – lead vocals, bass
Carl Palmer – drums
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Sam Coulson – guitars


Gus G. - I Am the Fire (2014)

The rise of Greek power metaller, Firewind, has give the world two new metal heroes. They are Bob Katsionis (keyboards) and Gus G. Both are skillful musicians, now world class respected. Bob released his solo album in 2012, but only in March 2014 that Gus G finally catch up with a release his long waited solo album. Gus G's solo album titled as I Am the Fire, he is well backed by world class musicians and singers. As Gus G was previously active in Ozzy Osbourne team, the styles of heavy metal and hard rock in this solo album is not surprising, a bit step further away from his main band of Firewind, which is a power metal band.

Let's see the two most interesting tracks by observing the guess list. Vengeance is back by Megadeth's David Ellefson. This is instrumental track for sure, the riffs are heavy, fast double pedal drum and of course Gus' shred + David's bass attack was more than cool enough. The second instrumental is fall to "Billy Sheehan's track". Terrified is yet another ultra fast shreds with a title that reminds us to Scarified by Racer X. Both instrumental tracks is enough to made guitars fans demand an exclusive instrumental guitar album from Gus!

On the vocalized songs, they are all excellence. Mat Levén is acting as host singer, he tackled four tracks. From the opener My Will Be Done, a straight forward modern rock tunes, then Blame It On Me, a happier glam metal one. On the later are Eyes Wide Open, this is kind of late '80s hair metal scenes feel. The last from Mat is End Of The Line, acoustic ballad in the style of wild wild west. Mat Levén was once Firewind singer also.

I Am The Fire is a collaboration with Devour The Day / Blake Allison. The riffs quickly brings us to modern nu-metal feels, this concurred with the style of singing, the song's structures, and utilizing of choruses, which is in the spirit of alternative metal. Long Way Down on the other hand is the only female guess track with Alexia Rodiguez. Alexia is from the band Eyes Set To Kill. The song can be categorizing as a heavier version Evanescenes style. Jacob Bunton from Lynam / Adler fame contributed in Just Can't Let Go. This is yet again in alternative / US modern metal feel. Michael Starr from Steel Panther trusted with Redemption, a track that focused on wild glam metal form, fit the image of Steel Panther. Veteran singer Jeff Scott Soto is in the spiritful AOR track of Summer Days. Finally there at least an European feel in Dreamkeeper, where Evergrey singer Tom S. Englund delivered it epic-ly!

What a great packed of quality materials in one album. Of all tracks not only Gus G able to fit the styles of his song to the respected guess, he also seem like outdone the guess' each band. For example in Tom Englund's track, we can feel Evergrey's music in it. There are enough punches on each song, added more  replay value to the album. Interestingly, Gus G decided to not gives any clue about his music from Firewind. A good choices, meaning his creativity in the area of power metal will still dedicated to the main band. I Am the Fire is a great album with fresh ideas stretching  from modern metal to oldies glam metal. A must have.

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

Gus G. - I Am the Fire (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. My Will Be Done (Feat. Mats Levén)
02. Blame It On Me (Feat. Mats Levén)
03. I Am The Fire (Feat. Devour The Day)
04. Vengeance (Feat. David Ellefson)
05. Long Way Down (Feat. Alexia Rodriguez)
06. Just Can't Let Go (Feat. Jacob Bunton)
07. Terrified (Feat. Billy Sheehan)
08. Eyes Wide Open (Feat. Mats Levén)
09. Redemption (Feat. Michael Starr)
10. Summer Days (Feat. Jeff Scott Soto)
11. Dreamkeeper (Feat. Tom S. Englund)
12. End Of The Line (Feat. Mats Levén)

Gus G - guitars, bass, keyboards
drummers - Jeff Friedl (A PERFECT CIRCLE, PUSCIFER, DEVO), Daniel Erlandsson (ARCH ENEMY)
bass - Marty O'Brien


Dawn Of Destiny - F.E.A.R. (2014)

Dawn of Destiny seized my attention on their 2012 release called Praying To The World. That album marked in the database as heavy, full of double pedal power metal album altogether wrapped with excellent female voices. Two years has passes, the band from Germany brings us their fifth studio album. Titled as Forgotten. Enslaved. Admired. Released or stylized as F. E. A. R. This album somehow comes as a bit of surprisingly different continuation to their previous sounds.

F.E.A.R. begins with And with Silence Comes the Fear, compared to Praying.... where everything seems begins with a bang, And with Silence Comes the Fear is a bit slowdown of tempo. The band took enough time to build up their song writing. The song's formula still around intrigue guitar riffs with combination of all three types of voices, female, male and death harsh voices. The song seemingly back to the gothic metal territory. Waiting for a Sign is very much rely on Jeanette Scherff's high pitch sopranic voices. Lots of odd tempo variation on this one. And it looks like this new album is the band's brand new playground for their creativity. Takes a listen to Innocence Killed, which is dark ballad type song, pretty much stays in the style of hard rock, pay attention to the highlighted bass line in the choruses. Another strong cuts is No Hope for the Healing. On this track, guest vocalist contributed to bring this ballad song to the epic level. Rising Angel, is finally fast song with enough drumming berserk in it. Finally , is the blast song with that fly-feel of Lydian scale a lot. The album extremely switch into different style of music since this point. Prayers and Then I Found You is well connected song with gospelic triumphant feeling.

Then there is nine minutes song of One Last Time, which brings back the album into darker feeling. Pretty awesome track indeed. The album closes with another two songs,  Dying in Your Arms is stormy blasting track while To Live Is to Suffer is yet another emotionally mellow tunes.

This album is the band's turning point. Instead of doing generally known fast power metal tunes, the band gives true effort to raise their song writing into something deeper meaning. F.E.A.R. is completely a level up in their game. The album is heavy in contrast point between on track to another, unexpected twist. Musicianship are equally shared, from the singers to all fours instrumentalist. Fans of Dawn Of Destiny, enjoy the latest journey in F.E.A.R.

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

Dawn Of Destiny - F.E.A.R. (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. And with Silence Comes the Fear 05:37
02. Waiting for a Sign 03:22
03. My Memories 04:28
04. Innocence Killed 05:36
05. End This Nightmare 03:50
06. No Hope for the Healing 06:18
07. Rising Angel 04:32
08. Finally 04:34
09. Prayers 03:58
10. Then I Found You 04:13
11. One Last Time 09:57
12. Dying in Your Arms 03:40
13. To Live Is to Suffer 03:49

Line Up:
Jeanette Scherff - Vocals
Veith Offenbächer - Guitars
Jens Faber - Bass & Backing Vocals
Dirk Raczkiewicz - Keyboards
Julio Pablo Da Silva - Drums

Guest Musicians:
Mats Levén - Vocals (Candlemass,ex-Adagio, ex-At Vance, ex-Fatal Force, ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen, ex-Firewind (live), ex-Therion (live))
Jon Oliva - Vocals (Jon Oliva's Pain, Oliva, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Savatage, ex-Doctor Butcher) on track 6


Iron Savior - Rise of the Hero (2014)

Iron Savior is the band that specialized in "science fiction power metal" , instead the traditional knight and dragon version. Rise Of the Hero is their eight studio album. Founder Piet Sielck still on the steer with other three fellow band mates. As usual, the styles is mainly heavy power metal, the interest very much rely on Piet's powerful voices.

About 12 songs in the album, well, 2 more bonuses song if you get the Japanese version. Last Hero is very much typical power metal song with lots of crunchy riffs and double pedal attack inside. Revenge Of the Bride is potentially one of favorite song in the album. Combining good song writing, arrangement and vocal execution by Piet. Similar to that one is From Far Beyond Time, only that this one added some more aggressive power metal feel. The title is something like cameos to Blind Guardian's references. On the even faster song is Thunder From The Mountains. There is also Iron Warrior which is single pedal drum heavy metal song. Then, there is mid tempo song as in Dragon King, where it's gives the overall album a dynamics. And the most contrast point is hard rock vibes in Dance with Somebody, well a cover version song indeed. The Demon is the only ballad song on the album. Two previous hits are being re-recorded, I've Been To Hell (from Dark Assault album 2001) and Mind Over Matter (from Unification 1999), which is very much welcomed to make this a perfect album to have.

In short, Rise Of The Hero is pretty much a solid power metal album. You can expect to listen enjoyable vocal works by Piet  accompanied with tons of riffs. All band mate is long time member of Iron Savior whom formed a wonderful musicianship chemistry among them. Compare to their last previous release, The Landing, I can see that Iron Savior continue to raising up their level as Rise of the Hero is simply meet the expectation for fans.

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

Iron Savior - Rise Of The Hero (2014)
Buy it Here- AMAZON

01. Ascendence (01:29)
02. Last Hero (05:00)
03. Revenge Of The Bride (04:35)
04. From Far Beyond Time (05:17)
05. Burning Heart (04:39)
06. Thunder From The Mountains (05:09)
07. Iron Warrior (04:42)
08. Dragon King (05:43)
09. Dance with Somebody (Mando Diao cover) (03:55)
10. Firestorm (04:58)
11. The Demon (05:02)
12. Fistraiser (04:41)
13. I've Been To Hell (Re-recording Version) (bonus track) (04:05)
14. Mind Over Matter (Re-recording Version) (bonus track) (05:35)

Piet Sielck – Vocals / Guitars
Jan-Sören Eckert – Bass
Thomas Nack – Drums
Joachim "Piesel" Küstner - Guitars
Record Label: AFM Records


Axxis - Kingdom of the Night II (Black and White Edition) (2014)

Those who didn't catch up with Axxis on their '80s debut, now have a chance to do so. The band from Germany is celebrating the debut's 25th anniversary by double album releases Kingdom of the Night II, White and Black edition separately. These are albums that trying to recreated Kingdom of the Night vibes, which is their most successful debut album. It's showcase the band root's simply in melodic metal and hard rock. You going to find all classic tunes in this album.

Here's the quick run through on White Edition. Hall of Fame is a thick guitar driven AoR song, directly put us back to the end of '80s melodic rock scenes. Considered this is a new song, it is the band's merit to able create such a high spirit song based on that era. Heaven in Paradise also a great song, thick AOR as the first one, more keyboard and drumming creativity, awesome choruses. Living in a Dream, another simple song with great chorus. 21 Crosses, is rather serious in theme, based on the Love Parade tragedy in Germany July 24th 2010, which taken 21 life. Emotional ballads as a tribute to all victims. For those looking for harder tunes, Dance into Life, is power metal alike fast song with catchy keyboard riffs. Mary Married a Monster is double song that tied to the Black's edition. We Are the World is a world theme music with folk instrument and folk elements. Jump to the end track is Temple of Rock, arena type drumming intro then the song is the last awesome song for this double album.

The band deliberately try to copy themselves with their debut's styles, and they do it right away. This is the album that keep you asking, why the hell is today's band not doing this anymore. Although going into the '80s era, this album simply sounds fresh today. A surprise indeed, because on Axxis later days, the band has gone into heavier metal styles as in Doom in Destiny for example. Kingdom of the Night II are excellent albums for hard rock fans, those longing for quality melodic rock.

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

Axxis - Kingdom of the Night II (White Edition) (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Hall of Fame 03:38
02. Heaven in Paradise 03:54
03. Living in a Dream 04:19
04. 21 Crosses 05:07
05. My Eyes 03:42
06. Dance into Life 04:15
07. Mary Married a Monster (Her Version) 04:05
08. We Are the World 03:18
09. Take Me Far Away 03:16
10. Gone with the Wind 03:18
11. Temple of Rock 04:01

Axxis - Kingdom of the Night II (Black Edition) (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Kingdom of the Night II 04:15
02. Venom 03:47
03. Beyond the Sky 04:21
04. The War 03:43
05. Never Again 03:50
06. Soulfire 04:14
07. More than for One Day 03:24
08. Lass Dich gehn 04:03
09. Lie After Lie 03:40
10. Mary Married a Monster (Our Version) 03:28
11. Bites Inside 03:55

Bernhard Weiß - vocals
Harry Oellers - keyboard
Rob Schomaker - bass
Marco Wriedt - guitars
Dirk Brand - drums

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