Christian Muenzner - Beyond The Wall Of Sleep (2014)

Christian Muenzner's shredding style look like the one that really fit my ear. He got metal enough riffs, quite spectacular metal actually. He is technically killer, so when the need to listen a full speed licks, there is also exist. His choice of scale also interesting, not an usual one at least. Then there is awesome composition to combine all of them. The general feel of this 2nd solo album still fit really well on his first one. "Beyond The Wall Of Sleep" has all aspect mentioned above. His style is not as djent , as complicated as Jeff Loomis or Stephen Forte. Yet, also not as "easy listening" as ,ehem, John Petrucci casually doing. Balance is the word.

This is yet another album where I enjoy all the track. So not easy to highlight ones. Two of the openers is featured with another guitarist. "Shadow Over Innsmouth" is straightforward fast speed shred, featured with Danny Tunker, guitarist of Aborted. "Mountain Of Madness" is the more brutal version of the first song. Both running at almost exact time of five minutes. In this second song, Terry Syrek is the featured guitarist, enjoy his almost 'waterfall' like notes on this track. The main title song "Beyond The Wall Of Sleep" changed the course with mystical scales. We got to enjoy the shred partner, keyboardist Jimmy Pitts in action. For drummer Hannes Grossman, his song is "The Witch Of Endor", very strong neo classic supported with precised drumming. "Nightlife" is having a nice groove in there. How about killer riffs in the intro of "Demon's Gate". The last song is for those worship technical typing licks, it is all on "Veil Of The Soul".

Christian Muenzner wonderful guitar mastery reflected well on this album. The quality is straight tight with the first album. The support of his bandmates is also one factor in making this album superior. He should stand on the same boat with other popular shredders, yet I still amaze at how little exposure he got from the internet. Amazing progressive metal guitar instrumental album.

Favorite track: The Witch Of Endor, Demon's Gate, Veil Of The Soul

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Christian Muenzner - Beyond The Wall Of Sleep (2014)

1. Shadow Over Innsmouth
2. Mountain Of Madness
3. Beyond The Wall Of Sleep
4. The Pit And The Pendulum
5. Evil Spell (The Book Of Belial)
6. The Witch Of Endor
7. The Talisman
8. Nightlife
9. The Green Traveller
10. Demon's Gate
11. Veil Of The Soul

Jimmy Pitts (The Fractured Dimension, Spastic Ink, Pitts/Minnemann)-keyboards
Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura, Noneuclid)- bass
Hannes Grossmann (Obscura, Blotted Science)-drums
mixed and mastered by Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry)
guitar guest soloists Danny Tunker (Aborted, track 1) and Terry Syrek (track 2)


Marty Friedman - Inferno (2014)

Marty Friedman is surely one of most popular metal guitarist around there. His career indeed interesting. The story begin with his duet with the legend Jason Becker in the '80s, for this one he played neo classical shred metal, with some sort of 'exotic' scale licks. Then comes to the story of Megadeth, thrash metal is happened to be in his blood at that time. After departed from Megadeth, he begin his adventurous solo career. In his earlier solo albums, such as "Introduction" and "Scenes", you will never guess the guitarist is the same guy playing for Dave Mustaine. These are albums that best describe as the electric guitar in the New Age ala Kitaro. Those are also albums I like very much, must have albums in every shred lover dictionary. Rather then, Marty begin his 'fourth' styles, his own signature style, combining modern metal, J-Rock, New Age and kind of electronic music. In which he begin with "Music for Speeding", "Bad DNA", "Loudspeaker", and finally this new album, "Inferno". To cut the story sort, this latest album, Inferno is indeed his most serious attempt to conquered this style.

Lots of guest guitarist / vocalist are in this album. Look at their name you'll realize the choice is as experimental as his music. Alexi Laiho is the best known name. He invited to play in a metal-core laden track in "Lycanthrope", his other co-partner is Danko Jones. Danko is musician in a Canadian group simply called Danko Jones. Lycanthrope itself is heavy, leaning toward thrash metal and fit the growling vocal in used there. The other vocal tracks are "I Can't Relax". It is in ultra fast and can categorized as modern rock. Then a bass-liner "Sociopaths" featuring David Davidson from Revocation, also an aggressive thrash - death style. Although we prefer instrumentals, these three tracks are not bad at all. Marty surely has interesting song writing to prove.

On the instrumentals, "Meat Hook" is the most exciting. Can you imagine Marty's exotic-obsessed scale meets metal meets jazz. This is only happened with Jørgen Munkeby as the guest musician, he is Norwegian jazz fusion-ist. this is again most grinding track around. Then listen to "Wicked Panacea" , a track where Marty jammin' with Mexican flamenco duo, Rodrigo and Gabriela. It's marked the interesting Latin meet Exotic theme. On the original Marty Friedman - "Kitaro" style, the best track is the slow "Undertow". This is also the special track where drummer Gregg Bissonette and bassist Tony Franklin is in the line up.

Speaking about drummer, Jeremy Colson of Steve Vai fame is on board. His fresh and aggressive style is best fit Marty's music. Long time bud Jason Becker contributed composition in "Horrors". This is Cacophony era shred, that neo-classic nylon licks rules. Marty Friedman's owned signature style tracks most recommended is "Steroidhead", this is very Djent-ism, low string riffs track. This song played together with Keshav Dhar, Indian instrumentalist. Then if you not shuffle the track list, the first two songs should be "Inferno" and "Resin" , the first mentioned is ultra fast shred opener. The second is mid tempo Scene-era intro, then developed into fast and staccato licks.

Inferno re-instate Marty Friedman. First, he is still the fast guy, able to shred all the way as needed, listen "Hyper Doom". Second, he still consistent with his signature exotic scale, we can quickly identified in every licks. Third, he is also one hell of writer, putting all obscured ideas and boxed it with interesting composition. Inferno is at least bring interesting idea to his "fourth" style, read first paragraph again. The number of imported talents make this album a value plus, bring in names to watch and find out why Marty asked them to play in his album. Fans of Marty Friedman and shred guitar, and fans of Megadeth, this should bring Marty back on the map.

Favorite tracks: Meat Hook, Undertow, Wicked Panacea

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Marty Friedman - Inferno (2014)

01. Inferno
02. Resin
03. Wicked Panacea (feat. Rodrigo y Gabriela)
04. Steroidhead (feat. Keshav Dhar)
05. I Can't Relax (feat. Danko Jones)
06. Meat Hook (feat. Jørgen Munkeby)
07. Hyper Doom
08. Sociopaths (feat. David Davidson)
09. Lycanthrope (feat. Alexi Laiho & Danko Jones)
10. Undertow (feat. Gregg Bissonette & Tony Franklin)
11. Horrors (co-written by Jason Becker)
12. Inferno (reprise)

Marty Friedman - guitars
Jeremy Colson - drums, vocals, Steve Vai

Guest musicians
Alexi "Wildchild" Laiho - guitars, Children of Bodom
Gabriela Quintero - guitars, Mexican guitarist duo
Rodrigo Sanchez - guitars , Mexican guitarist duo
David Davidson - guitars, Revocation
Jorgen Munkeby - Norwegian jazz solo artist
Keshav Dhar - Indian multi instrumentalist, Skyharbor project
Danko Jones - Canadian jazz trio


Arch Enemy - War Eternal (2014)

Arch Enemy is always back. In a blizzard turns of event, the legendary Angela Gossow has retired herself as the front woman. The microphone then handed to Alissa White-Gluz, not a total stranger because Alissa was closely related to Arch Enemy in their late timeline. This is not the only key issue for Arch Enemy. As we know, Christopher Ammot had also abandoned their black flag and did not march on any more. The replacement is much more interesting, Nick Cordle from ex Arsis is filling this duty. With these formations, plus Angela Gossow's moral support from behind, Arch Enemy turns a new page, "War Eternal". This album is full of hope and expectation to said at least.

Time heals nothing, said the intro title, or "Tempore Nihil Sanat". So "Never Forgive, Never Forget" kicks in immediately. First the twin guitar attacks is preserved perfectly. The riffs and drumming sounds like their angriest day. Then Alissa's spotlight has come. What to say, she is a different beast. Her voice is somewhat more feminine to ear. If the question: can she carry the duty, then the answer is yes she does well. Welcome to the new era.  "War Eternal" is back to the melodic death metal Arch Enemy belong in their earlier days. "As The Pages Burn" is the album's teaser. The groove and riffs on this song is belong to mainstream death metal and metalcore dictionary. Best performed in all aspect as well. So, then three songs passed with above expectations scale. "No More Regrets" is the message to all Christopher lovers, that the new Nick is giving us no regrets for his departure. Neo-classical licks on this one. You can listen the important three guitar layers from the beginning. As for Alissa, her turn is in the next song, "You Will Know My Name" exactly the catch phrases for her. This time she conquered the lower notes, this song started with well composition to begin with. The rest of the album is a little bit of filler, "Avalanche" is their takes on symphonic death metal style. "Not Long For This World" stop the album in slow and doom postlude.

"War Eternal" done its job well to showcase two new members on the band. Both Nick and Alissa performed superb in this album. This album raise new hope for the band's core fans, as we know Arch Enemy last two albums seems just missed the focus and sound tired. War Eternal is back to their ultra melodic approach, and they just sounds epic. Goodbye Angela, her name shall remained in the history book of death metal forever. Welcome, Alissa.

Favorite songs: As The Pages Burn, You Will Know My Name, War Eternal

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Arch Enemy - War Eternal (2014) 

1. Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude In F minor)
2. Never Forgive, Never Forget
3. War Eternal
4. As The Pages Burn
5. No More Regrets
6. You Will Know My Name
7. Graveyard Of Dreams
8. Stolen Life
9. Time Is Black
10. On And On
11. Avalanche
12. Down To Nothing
13. Not Long For This World

    Alissa White-Gluz − vocals
    Michael Amott − lead and rhythm guitar, keyboards
    Nick Cordle − lead and rhythm guitar
    Sharlee D'Angelo − bass
    Daniel Erlandsson − drums


Kenziner - The Last Horizon (2014)

I do owned Kenziner albums from their past. I considered their 2nd album "The Prophecy" as valuable classic neo-power metal of that time. In the early '00, internet weren't really taken the hype, so when Kenziner went into inactivity they were just like lost from the radar. It is only 15 years later they are back with a new album. Kenziner was actually lead by Jarno Keskinen's. A virtuoso guitarist who also performed in a project Virtuocity. By the time goes, all original member of Kenziner were replaced by new forces. The singer choice fell to Markky Kuikka, ex Thaurorod, ex Book of Reflections. His voices is completely different to ex singer Stephen Fredrick though. With this new line up, "The Last Horizon" pull off as serious neo-progressive-power metal release.

With more than 10 years of time, this album just like the compilation of Jarno Keskinen's ideas. Every track has been impressively composed. The main platform is Jarno's virtuoso guitar playing. Then there is strong connections between keyboards to provide the neo classic keys licks. Songs are more progressive than their 15 years ago works, which is more neo-classic and power metal. The first track "Run For Your Life" may not much revealed what potential in this album, as this opener just a simple standard power metal tunes with strong guitar riffs. From 2nd song onward it starts to kick really hard in the ass. "Our Times" is catchy melodic neo-classic song, with very progressive lyric line. The structure and music complexity is escalated, riffs ideas are flying around yet the song itself did not suffered and remained easy to follow. Then listen to "Devour The World" which is amazing composition showcase resulted in rich and dynamic song. "End Of An Era" is also an insane guitar improvisation through out the song. "Keep The Flame Alive" is finally another standard anthem power metal feel. So far we can describe this album as Symphony X,  Yngwie Malmsteen and Helloween all mixed at once. Check also track "No Turning Back" in which at their last moment all instrument seems playing tightly together in unison. As said before, all songs are crazy, let's make the last recommendation which is fall on the titled track "The Last Horizon". The longest track on the album, mean an epic eight minutes of blasting progs.

Not much can be said, "The Last Horizon" is killer comeback album of Kenziner. Replay factor are high on this album for its creative song writing. Those enjoy real guitar works in a prog/power setting should quickly grab this album. The fact that the person behind this works was absence from metal for years proved that when you have enough talents, it will not vanished by time. Stunning works.

Favorite tracks: all of them... especially Our Times, Devour The World

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Kenziner - The Last Horizon (2014)

1. Run For Your Life
2. Our Times
3. Heroes Ride
4. Devour The World
5. End Of An Era
6. Keep The Flame Alive
7. I Am Eternal
8. No Turning Back
9. The Last Horizon
10. Perfect Moment (CD Bonus Track) 192

Line Up:
Markku Kuikka - Vocals (Book of Reflections, Status Minor, ex-Gronholm, ex-Thaurorod, ex-TorneD)
Jarno Keskinen - Guitars (Virtuocity, ex-Let Me Dream)
JJ Hjelt - Bass (Royal Truck, ex-Battagia)
Jukka Karinen - Keyboards (Status Minor, The Magnificent, Thunderstone)
Make Lievonen - Drums (Embassy of Silence)


Neal Schon - So U (2014)

"So U" is the new album by Journey guitarist Neal Schon. Instead of pulling instrumental album, as this one, Neal would like to show off some of his song writing skills and also vocal power. A little let down for instrumental lovers, although there are two non vocal tracks on the album as consolidation. This album also head titled as Neal Schon featuring Marco & Castronovo. Two veteran musicians that specialized in session works.

Out of expected, the style of "So U" is not so Journey, it is more basic hard rock in general. The first track "Take A Ride" is a fresh bluesy guitar driven hard rock , wholly belong to '80s scene. With "So U", Neal try a long composition with greater complexity, reminding of Genesis and Toto. "Exotica" is the most interesting track, an instrumental composition in a scale that kind of New Age-ish, but then it is heavily improvised in bass and drumming. The only track that resembling well Journey may be on "Love Finds A Way", AoR feel ala Journey minus Steve Perry / Augeri Arnel Pireda power. "On My Way" saw the trio somehow find a way to have a great jam over a vocalized song, especially the catchy Dean Castronova's complex drum pattern. Not all song build on blues licks, "Serenity" is the song that break the ice, going more minor feel, more hair metal spirit. The album finished with the second most interesting song, yes the second instrumental works "Big Ocean", in which this has even more hypnotized power, slow and overwhelming sliding notes.

Interesting how the trio got to group together, surely a big potential on this super group. Even so, the three of them choose to composed something more down to earth, easy listening song. Do not under estimate the technical artistic on them, as heard in "Serenity", "So U", or "Exotica", these are excellent simple song yet powerful in music technical difficulty. All these veterans musician know how to balance things out between playing music and playing instrument. An excellent works for those looking for quality easy listening rock album.

Favorite tracks: Exotica, Take A Ride, On My Way

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Neal Schon - So U (2014) 

01. Take A Ride
02. So U
03. Exotica
04. What You Want
05. Love Finds A Way
06. On My Way
07. Serenity
08. Shelter
09. Big Ocean

Line Up:
Neal Schon (Journey) - vocals, guitar
Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy) - bass, vocals
Deen Castronovo (Journey, Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Vai, Hardline) - drums, vocals


Timo Tolkki's Avalon - Angels Of The Apocalypse (2014)

Not wanted to lose the momentum from his 2013 Avalon releases, Timo Tolkki hastily sequel-ed the project Avalon with "Angels Of The Apocalypse". As we know, Timo was building his camp to become the next metal opera arc a la Avantasia.  The force of guest singers now combining Floor Jansen, Simone Simons and Elize Ryd in one album, is already one thing. Fabio Lione, David DeFeis and Zak Stevens completely the male line up.

On this second album, Timo doing something out of his routine, most of the songs composed in more aggressive and darker feel. A good thing to heard from Timo. We got to listen "Jerusalem Is Falling" as the opening song. Aggressive intro fulfilled with thick layer of orchestrations already showing new face of Avalon. Fabio Lione takes control on this songs. His voice maybe better compared to his performance in Vision Divine rather than in Rhapsody of Fire on this style of music. "Design the Century" saw Floor Jansen laid down hers. The song is hardly touch the background of Floor Jansen as in Nightwish, ReVamp or After Forever. This song is focus on softer voice, lower notes and not much required operatic voices. We may detected Floor Jansen likely force her style to fit Avalon request. Floor Jansen sing another two songs. The number of slur notes in "The Paradise Lost" are something different we can heard from F.J. At least on the song "You'll Bleed Forever", Floor restore her power with beautiful rendition on this slow ballad.

On contrary to many reviewers, I think David DeFeis instead doing his toy in "Rise of the 4th Reich". Anyone who listen to Virgin Steele may agree that his aggressive rough voice fit the song well. This song is one of the best in the album, imo. On the familiar power metal tune by Timo, we got "Stargate Atlantis", which is back to Stratovarius and Revolution Renaissance sounds. Making this also their strong number.

Zachary Stevens from Circle II Circle has no problem putting "Neons Sirens" into expected powerful psyche-dark metal. "High Above of Me" is  Timo Tolkki's operatic ballad, performed by three different character voices. The album climax with "Angels of the Apocalypse" symbolized into four angelic voices of Floor, Caterina, Elize and Simone.

While last year "The Land of New Hope" is really giving new hope, "Angels Of The Apocalypse" is risky for being apocalyptic. Timo is doing something out of his specialty. By hiring David DeFeis, Fabio and Zac, obviously Timo aims at darker output, hoping a lesser cheesy power metal. While Rob Rock and Michael Kiske seems naturally fit into Avalon style, the guest singers on Angels.. is noticeable fighting this new style. One other thing is the guitar solos still enjoy its "melodic" mode. In general, Angels... is distance away as a sequel from The Land of New Hope. Nothing wrong with its and most of the stuffs still familiar to Stratovarius listener. The present of six world class singers is the main reason to grab this one fast.

Recommends songs: Rise of the 4th Reich, Stargate Atlantis, High Above of Me

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

Timo Tolkki's Avalon - Angels Of The Apocalypse (2014)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Song for Eden - Fabio Lione 00:46
02. Jerusalem Is Falling - Fabio Lione 05:19
03. Design the Century - Floor Jansen 04:25
04. Rise of the 4th Reich - David DeFeis 04:43
05. Stargate Atlantis - Fabio Lione 03:51
06. You'll Bleed Forever - Floor Jansen 04:16
07. The Paradise Lost - Floor Jansen 05:44
08. Neons Sirens - Zac Stevens 04:42
09. High Above of Me - Caterina Nix, Elize Ryd, Simone Simons 05:20
10. Angels of the Apocalypse - Floor Jansen, Caterina Nix, Elize Ryd, Simone Simons 09:07
11. Garden of Eden 02:10

Line Up:
Timo Tolkki - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards (ex-Revolution Renaissance, ex-Symfonia, ex-Stratovarius)
Antti Ikonen - Keyboards (Timo Tolkki,  ex-Stratovarius)
Tuomo Lassila - Drums (Conquest, Timo Tolkki,  ex-Stratovarius)

Guest Musicians:
Floor Jansen - Vocals (Nightwish, ReVamp)
Fabio Lione - Vocals (Rhapsody of Fire, Angra, Vision Divine,)
Simone Simons - Vocals (Epica)
David DeFeis - Vocals (Virgin Steele)
Elize Ryd - Vocals (Amaranthe, )
Zak Stevens - Vocals (Circle II Circle, ex-Trans-Siberian Orchestra, ex-Savatage)
Caterina Nix - Vocals
Nicholas Jeudy - Orchestrations


Sabaton - Heroes (2014)

Heroes is the title of Sabaton's seventh studio album. It's a simple title, reflecting what contained inside for this "semi-full" studio album. Ten tracks inside and they are just run at 36 minutes. This marked the new beginning for Sabaton. We all know that half of the band 'rebel' away and formed Civil War. So, this is their first album with new line up.

With all songs runs only about 3 to 4 minutes, it's just like all the essence of power metal compacted in one way. "Night Witches" started it,  muscular power choruses all over the way, got blitzing guitar solos, a climax, then ending choruses. You can't get any more generic than this structures, yet it is show how power metal should be done. "No Bullets Fly" is a bit of humorous with all that European accents singing, completely brings out the feeling of World War II and its killing machine in the region. Indeed this song still has enough slot for improvised "uh-oh" near the end. On the darker tracks is "Inmate 4859", where we switch to a slower tempo, perfectly fit the lyrics about mysterious prisoner. We also got their folk metal side with "To Hell And Back". "The Ballad Of Bull" is piano ballad with Joakim Borden excellent bariton voices. This song have that Manowar power ballad feel. For a guitar riffs attack in very power metal way, listen to "Soldier Of 3 Armies". The last track is "Hearts Of Iron", another melodic song to say farewell, with a Bach improvisation.

Take away all the symphonic decorations and the over improvised progressive structure that plagues today's power metal band, we got this album. Heroes is obviously the most straight forward power metal album. It's build on simplicity. The negative side is also obviously, the album runs at too short durations. Songs like "Night Witches" and "To Hell And Back" seems suffered on this concept. While some of the songs just perfectly fit into this simply structures. If you need something to blast off the day with excellent muscular power metal voices, Heroes is definitely going to help you out.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Sabaton - Heroes (2014) 

1. Night Witches
2. No Bullets Fly
3. Smoking Snakes
4. Inmate 4859
5. To Hell And Back
6. The Ballad Of Bull
7. Resist And Bite
8. Soldier Of 3 Armies
9. Far From The Fame
10. Hearts Of Iron

Joakim Brodén - vocals
Christoffer Rörland - guitars
Thorbjörn "Thobbe" Englund - guitars
Hannes Van Dahl - drums
Pär Sundström - bass


Xandria - Sacrificium (2014)

While most of female fronted symphonic metal bands are well remembered by their singer, Xandria are not. During their productions, the Germany band already rolled four singers. If you love their previous recording, Neverworld's End, where in that album the singer produced a Tarjarian era of sound, in this new album "Sacrificium", the operatic voices are bit of scale down. Indeed, Xandria once again need to build up their sounds with new singer, this time it fall unto Dianne Van Giersbergen's shoulder. In her resume is a Master degree in classical singing, specialized in aria, formerly sing in the band Ex Libris and so on. The most significant changes on Sacrificium is the band does not laid their music on the template of Oceanborn or Century Child anymore, both respectively Nightwish's album of course. Instead the band try hard to redefined their original sounds. This time the sounds moves on to general symphonic metal in the vibes of Epica. Coincidentally, Sacrificium is face to face challenge to Epica's The Quantum Enigma both released this month,  similar case happened two years ago.

The album immediately starts with "Sacrificium", a ten minutes operatic metal composition. It is full of dramatic song with lots of choir layer, orchestration and stormy drumming. Soon it is confirmed that Dianne's voice, although not as operatic as Manuella (their previous singer), is flawlessly fit into the style. By this song, the band literally moves on from Nightwish to Epica, if you need an analogy. Move on to "Nightfall", the arrangement of choirs as intro is their best formula. Nightfall build up their song writing from calm verses to bombastic choruses. "Dreamkeeper" as usual is the album's third track that usually serves as contrasting point. The vibes slow gothic-ian tempo is utilized in this song. Benefit of Dianne's flexible voice to switch into 'classic gothic' style made the changes easily flows from their heavy mode to ballad mode. This song invited us to their fourth track, "Stardust", which is a minor power metal feel song. My favorite track actually. "The Undiscovered Land" is slowest track, a moving ballad. "Little Red Relish" contained some folk metal ala Sabaton. In this song we can examined closer to Dianne voices. The same folk elements also found in "Temple of Hate". The album close with a sweet violin and piano ballads, "Sweet Atonement".

I've mentioned that the album pretty close to what Epica's doing, but there are major differences. First, the female voices are exclusive in Xandria, meaning no other growling duet. Good news if you are old time power metal fans that did not enjoy modern crossbreeding. The other difference can be that Xandria played more traditional power metal, that closer to folk metal, rather than Epica's sounds which is progressive in nature. So indeed, they are quite two different bands in the core. Beside the singer, we also informed that bassist Steven Wussow is the new kid in the line up. The rest are members from the past. Sacrificium offered a large different set of music when compared to Neverworld's End. In this case the band build up more original sounds, fully supported by capable singer on board. A well composed symphonic metal album.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Xandria - Sacrificium (2014)

01. Sacrificium
02. Nightfall
03. Dreamkeeper
04. Stardust
05. The Undiscovered Land
06. Betrayer
07. Until The End
08. Come With Me
09. Little Red Relish
10. Our Neverworld
11. Temple Of Hate
12. Sweet Atonement

01. The Watcher (Bonus Track)
plus all instrumental version

Dianne Van Giersbergen – Vocals
Marco Heubaum – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Philip Restemeier – Guitar
Steven Wussow – Bass
Gerit Lamm – Drums
Record Label: Napalm Records

Epica - The Quantum Enigma (2014)

Only two years from their previous Requiem for the Indifferent, Epica is back with their sixth studio album, The Quantum Enigma. It's definitely a time they spend well, because The Quantum Enigma is just mind blowing, a massive comeback from Epica. Considered the front line female symphonic / gothic metal in the world, they are ready for a new symphonic metal landmark. If Requeim for .... already seems like the top of the world, The Quantum.. is the tall tree on the peak.

As with other Epica's works, songs are serious in nature. This transpose into long and intense instrumentation, complex choirs layers. I would like to recommends some highlights of the album. The prelude instrumental is worth the time to listen.  It is just like the sky drum being orchestrated and their sounds surround the Earth to marked the beginning of the creation. Originem is not your cliche overture for sure. It is part of the album respectively. The Second Stone is best described just like the beginning of the life. Where every waves are still without directions, as the drums brutally mimic this situation. The Essence Of Silence on contrary is just their inverse situation. The song gives the feeling that there is a strong order challenging what happened in the first song. This song is having the best riffs on the album. Let's jump to the other highlight, Unchain Utopia is for melodic and minimalist song. Simone Simons is still on her supreme control , playing the rule of soloist of this metal choir. The album break into the second phase, The Fifth Guardian - Interluding these two phases. Enjoy that pentatonic oriental scale in this instrumental track. Then we repeat the loop again with Chemical Insomnia, only the loop got heavier of course. Even so,  ballad are found here. Canvas Of Life is a melodic ballad with sweet piano and guitar rendition.

It is the combination of Simone Simons, unparalleled choirs, masculine growling vocals and stormy symphonic metal instrumentation, that all make this album once again shinning over this genre. The behind story is, the band take full pause of stage performance. This to made Simone available on her maturity duties, giving birth etc. Meaning the band took this opportunity to fully concentrate to write. The Quantum Enigma really re-energized Epica. The band was almost slipped out of the mainstream when they begin to elaborate more technical stuffs, such as in their past album. Fans of Epica should rejoice, as well new fans looking for a solid female voicing symphonic metal.

Favorite tracks: Originem, The Essence Of Silence, Unchain Utopia, Canvas of Life

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Epica - The Quantum Enigma (2014) 

Digital Limited Edition:
01. Originem
02. The Second Stone
03. The Essence Of Silence
04. Victims Of Contingency
05. Sense Without Sanity - The Impervious Code -
06. Unchain Utopia
07. The Fifth Guardian - Interlude -
08. Chemical Insomnia
09. Reverence - Living In The Heart -
10. Omen - The Ghoulish Malady -
11. Canvas Of Life
12. Natural Corruption
13. The Quantum Enigma - Kingdom Of Heaven Part II
14. Banish Your Illusion (Bonus Track)

CD 2: (Acoustic CD)
01. Canvas Of Life
02. In All Conscience
03. Dreamscape
04. Natural Corruption

Simone Simons – Lead Vocals
Mark Jansen – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals (growls)
Isaac Delahaye – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Coen Janssen – keyboards
Rob Van Der Loo – Bass
Arien Van Wessenbeek – Drums, Voices


Brother Firetribe - Diamond In The Firepit (2014)

I must say this: Heart Full of Fire is my favorite AoR metal album. It was so good that I can keep listen and lamented why they didn't do this more. My lamentation is now ended. Brother Firetribe is firing their third albums. Diamond In The Firepit, six years after their second masterpiece. Will there any possibility that this album keep up the spirit from their 'past'? The answer is pretty much rounded, Heart Full of Fire is still their best, but this new album is a good call.

For Better or for Worse is the first awesome song you'll found. This song is a direct sequel to their previous sound. Among this group is the opener, Love's Not Enough, then the 2nd track Far Away from Love. Then we can jump to Trail of Tears, to have that minor melodic feel again. In the between, we got a mix between softer song, Desperately, hard rock feel in Edge Of Forever, then yet another slow tempo song in Hanging by a Thread. Obviously after six years, the band changed a lot. Winner Takes It All is pretty awesome guitar driven hard rock song, but yet it is no Brother Firetribe as I impressed from their second album.

The first impression is, Diamond... is a slow down compared to H.F.o.F. The energetic AoR beat in their previous masterpiece album is pretty much scale down in Diamond In The Firepit. Their sounds however, which characterized by harmonized singing between Pekka Ansio Heino and the backing vocals, is pretty much preserves. This alone continue to be their great asset. It also seems that Emppu Vuorinen played more guitars compared to H.F.o.F. In that case, the keyboard portion is being taken. Diamond In The Firepit gives us total AoR driven, highly melodic metal songs. It is not as phenomenal as Heart Full of Fire, but still has enough sting worth listening. Coincidentally, the timing of this releasegives the two Nightwish members releasing solos, as Tuomas has also getting high on their solo album.

Favorite tracks: For Better or for Worse, Trail of Tears, Winner Takes It All

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Brother Firetribe - Diamond In The Firepit (2014)

1. Intro
2. Love’s Not Enough
3. Far Away from Love
4. For Better or for Worse
5. Desperately
6. Edge Of Forever
7. Hanging by a Thread
8. Trail of Tears
9. Winner Takes It All
10. Tired of Dreaming
11. Reality Bites
12. Close To the Bone

Pekka Ansio Heino – Lead Vocals
Emppu Vuorinen – Lead Guitar
Tomppa Nikulainen – Keyboards
Jason Flinck – Bass / Vocals
Kalle Torniainen – Drums
Record Label: Spinefarm Records

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