Avantasia - Ghostlights (2016)

Let's me tell you about Avantasia once again. They are star assembly power metal project created by Tobias Sammet. They are first intended for a metal opera project for an act of the same name, Avantasia. In which, two discs were released , Avantasia - The Metal Opera. Nevertheless, these two albums were a great success. The assembly of super vocalists such as Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen, Rob Rock, Andre Matos re-established the genre heavily, create a wave of many other conceptual "metal opera" in power metal. The success encourage the founder, Tobias Sammet, to continued this project and made it a regular metal act. Since then, several discs had been released, all contained the trademark of Avantasia, catchy tunes sings by extremely competent power metal vocalist in the field. Thus let us see their newest album here, Ghostlights  set to released in 29 January 2016.

The best thing about Ghostlights is still about its line up. Tobias Sammet had comes to another milestone by inviting bigger and bigger names to sing in Avantasia. Let's first listen to the opener "Mystery of a Blood Red Rose", which sing by Tobias himself. It is a good opener capturing the best of Avantasia vibes, melodic intro, imaginative lyrics with piano accompaniment in the first verses. The chorus is easily grasped by listener. After that opener, the real storm descend to the second song. "Let the Storm Descend Upon You" is 12 minutes epic battle between singer Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins (of Pretty Maids) and Robert Mason ( veteran from the '80s bands). All of them narrated the premise of Ghoslights story line, in very decent power metal spirit. After the storm is Dee Snider singing in "The Haunting", as the title suggested, this haunting song is best sing by the Twisted Sisters frontman. When Tobi invited guest to sing here, he also composed the song to be match with the singer's background. In "Seduction of Decay" performed by Geoff Tate, the song become Queensrÿche-esque with heavily progressive metal in the background. This extended best to Michael Kiske's parts in "Ghostlights", which easily reference to his days in Helloween with all that fast galloping beat and ultra high pitch singing. Things lighter in "Draconian Love" sings by seasoned Herbie Langhans (Sinbreed, Seventh Avenue). The fame of Marco Hietala also landed him voices in Avantasia. In "Master of the Pendulum" this time not much Nightwish likeliness only the middle riff and the title is closest thing. "Isle of Evermore" by Sharon den Adel is of course also easy to shared with Within Temptation collection. After this slow interlude, we are way back to catchy guitar riff in "Babylon Vampyres". The provocative song title of "Lucifer" started out as piano ballad then evolved into full blast song.

All the song will make up your day if you are power metal listener. As in Avantasia standard, they are superb in writing and musics. The many references to each guest vocalist original band proved that Avantasia is reaching for every possible angle and fans. Though the songs are continuation of every past Avantasia albums, Ghostlights will find it place among their fans because the materials are as good as before. Another masterpiece from the band.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Avantasia - Ghostlights (2016)

1. "Mystery of a Blood Red Rose" 3:51
2. "Let the Storm Descend Upon You" - Jørn Lande, Ronnie Atkins, Robert Mason 12:09
3. "The Haunting" - Dee Snider 4:42
4. "Seduction of Decay" - Geoff Tate 7:18
5. "Ghostlights" - Michael Kiske, Lande 5:43
6. "Draconian Love" - Herbie Langhans 4:58
7. "Master of the Pendulum" - Marco Hietala 5:01
8. "Isle of Evermore" - Sharon den Adel 4:28
9. "Babylon Vampyres" - Mason 7:09
10. "Lucifer" - Lande 3:48
11. "Unchain the Light" - Atkins, Kiske 5:03
12. "A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies" - Bob Catley 5:53
13. "Wake up to the Moon" (Digibook bonus) Kiske, Lande, Catley, Atkins, Mason 4:43


Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Letters From the Labyrinth (2015)

Letter From the Labyrinth is Trans-Siberian Orchestra sixth, and as today, their newest studio album. The band, or ensemble to be precised, was most famous for their series of Christmas theme albums. Up to before this album, I think everyone will said that TSO is the musical project specialized on those Christmas and holiday songs. So with the arrival of Letter From the Labyrinth showed that they have new vision. This is their first non-Christmas theme materials. Many sources cited that the theme is "a collection of songs on various subjects including bullying, banking, and the Berlin Wall." This is their first secular attempt to gained foot in wider progressive metal world. Considering how spectacular most of their works (and those are Christmas songs), prog fans should be enthusiast to have this album.

As usual, TSO adopted a lot of popular Classical music pieces into their repertoire in this album. The first opening song "Time and Distance" is an adaptation of Mozart's Requiem, as expected in progressive metal arrangement. Then from here, we go from Beethoven's piano piece in "Prometheus" to Mussorgsky's Night on a Bald Mountain in "Mountain Labyrinth". The first sign of modern progressive rock can be heard in the 7th song, "The Night Conceives", which is sung by Kayla Reeves. "Forget About the Blame" is Johnny Greene remake, in a semi-ballad song. The biggest name in singer line up is Russel Allen, who sing in "Not Dead Yet". Then there are remake of Savatage song, "Stay", then goes all the way to piano ballad in "Not the Same" , once again sing by singer Kayla Reeves. All these vocal songs in this section resembling the old '80s progressive metal/rock as familiar to Savatage and maybe all the way to Queensryche fans.  The section then closed with another instrumental arrangement of Classical masterpiece, this time taken from Johann Sebastian Bach's composition for keyboard. Two bonuses are put in the end, one is another version of Johnny Greene remake sung by Lzzy Hale, "Forget About the Blame".

Letters From the Labyrinth is not really as spectacular as other Trans-Siberian Orchestra projects, but there are still tons of creative ideas in the album. This included a welcome progressive metal arrangements of popular Classical music piece as mentioned above. Apart from many portion where a highly technical skill in music required to performed it, this album in fact is quite an easy listening album for progressive category. Also, most of the songs are written in the style to able to fit into holiday setting also. Letters From the Labyrinth will able to continued TSO legacy in this very specific genre in progressive world. TSO has an active live show , so expected these new material to be performed live during this 2015 Christmas time.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Letters From the Labyrinth (2015)

01. “Time and Distance”
02. “Madness of Men” - instrumental
03. “Prometheus” - solo vocals: Jeff Scot Soto
04. “Mountain Labyrinth” - instrumental
05. “King Rurik” - instrumental
06. “Prince Igor” - instrumental
07. “The Night Conceives” - Kayla Reeves
08. “Forget About the Blame” - Robin Borneman
09. “Not Dead Yet” - Russel Allen
10. “Past Tomorrow” - Jennifer Cella
11. “Stay”- Adrienne Warren
12. “Not the Same” - Kayla Reeves
13. “Who I Am”
14. “Lullaby Night” - instrumental
15. “Forget About the Blame” (bonus track featuring Lzzy Hale)
16. "A Mad Russian's Christmas (Live)" (Amazon Bonus Track)

    Paul O'Neill - Producer
    Dave Wittman - Co-Producer, Recording & Mix Engineer
    BJ Ramone - Assistant Engineer
    Jon Tucker - Additional Assistant Engineer
    A&R - Jason Flom, Ryan Silva

    Paul O'Neill - Guitars
    Jon Oliva - Keyboards, Guitars, Bass
    Al Pitrelli - Lead/Rhythm Guitars
    Luci Butler - Keyboards
    Chris Caffery - Guitars
    Roddy Chong - Violin
    Angus Clark - Guitars
    Joel Hoekstra - Guitars
    Mee Eun Kim - Keyboards
    Vitalij Kuprij - Keyboards
    Jane Mangini - Keyboards
    Asha Mevlana - Violin
    Johnny Lee Middleton - Bass
    John O. Reilly - Drums
    Jeff Plate - Drums
    Derek Wieland - Keyboards
    David Zablidowsky - Bass
    Dave Wittman - Additional Guitar, Bass, Drums

Background vocals:
"Forget About the Blame" - Lucille Jacobs, Minnie W. Leonard, Keith Jacobs

"Who I Am" - Danielle Sample, Erika Jerry, Chloe Lowery, Dari Mahnic, Bart Shatto, Andrew Ross, John Brink, Natalya Piette, Jodi Katz, James Lewis, Georgia Napolitano, Tim Hockenberry

"Time and Distance (The Dash)" - Danielle Sample, Chloe Lowery, Ava Davis, Kayla Reeves, Adrienne Warren, Andrew Ross, Chris Pinnella, Rob Evan, Parker Sipes, Phillip Brandon, Dustin Brayley, April Berry, Autumn Guzzardi

Strings :    Roddy Chong,     Asha Mevlana.    Lowell Adams.    Nancy Chang
    Lei Liu

Horns:   Jon Tucker (leader),   Kenneth Brantley,   Jay Coble,   Ashby Wilkins


Vinnie Moore - Aerial Visions (2015)

Vinnie Moore is back. He is one of the '80s Shrapnel top dog, having released at least seven studio albums ranging from neo-classic Time Oddysey all the way to modern and more general guitar instrumental style in his latest Into the Core. He is currently UFO guitarist and pretty busy with the band that his last studio album actually released as far as in 2009. Aerial Visions see Vinnie Moore worked again with Dave LaRue, in some of the tracks. As everyone know, LaRue is high profile bassist, serving Steve Morse and many other "shredders". Beside Dave, there are three more bassist in assistance to Vinnie. The drummer in charge is Richie Monica of Tantric.

The first song "Mustang Shuffle" is very much self explanatory. It's an American blues, mustang and on the road feel. It shuffle-d well under Vinnie dexterity playing, straight forward and easy stuff for everyone. Now the second song come with slightly arising in complexity. "Now's the Time" put a lot of melodic licks but still didn't let the listener too difficult passage to grasps. "Faith" is mid-to-slow tempo pastoral feel song with melodic play from the beginning of the song till the end. Those two songs are familiar to UFO fans since they were used by the band also.  On "Slam", Vinnie brings in some funk and then cool bass solo line in the middle. "La Grange" is ZZ Top cover and serves it well in this instrumental version, we can imagine the long beard Billy Gibbons' voice inside Vinnie's guitar. A rather sentimental stuff in on the next one, "Looking Back", is pretty reflective and bring in childhood memories. Although "Aerial Vision" is the album title, the song itself didn't have extra ordinary feature. It is a standard shred piece that can be enjoyed by everyone too. "The Dark Dream" is a perfect composition to put in movie soundtrack, where the antagonist walking down a dark passage with strong light from behind. That's how I get to imagine this song. "Calling Out" is another very melodic composition in the end. The last finale is "A Million Miles Gone" , with extra minutes, this song bring in the most climaxing shred and licks on the album.

Vinnie Moore have become more multi style guitarist.  Here, not a slight trace of his old neo-classical stuff found in Aerial Visions, instead a melodic compositions that run from mid to fast tempo. The songs flowed nicely from the first track to the end. While there are many wonderful ideas in the album, I think this album is one of Vinnie's most easy listening one. Wonderful guitar instrumental album, as always by Vinnie Moore.

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

Vinnie Moore - Aerial Visions (2015)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Mustang Shuffle
02. Now's the Time
03. Faith
04. Slam
05. La Grange (ZZ Top cover)
06. Looking Back
07. Aerial Vision
08. The Dark Dream
09. Calling Out
10. A Million Miles Gone

Vinnie Moore : guitars
Richie Monica (TANTRIC, POPPA CHUBBY) : drums

Elliott Dean Rubinson (ULI JON ROTH, MSG)


Metal Allegiance - Metal Allegiance (2015)

Metal Allegiance is The Avenger team of heavy metal. Formed by four members, Mike Portnoy, David Ellefson, Alex Skolnick and unlikely team brain Mark Menghi. Menghi who? As Portnoy describe :

“Mark is kind of like the Brian Epstein of the band,” says Portnoy. “He's the behind-the-scenes mastermind who put the whole thing together. When we began this as a live covers thing, he was the guy moving the chess pieces. When we decided to make original music, he became a huge creative element as a songwriter, as well.”

Together, they unleashed  debut album with the same title, Metal Allegiance. Ten songs being released with multiple vocalist join the stage, ranging from D.Randall Blythe, Troy Sanders to Phillip Anselmo to Tim "The Ripper" Owen.

The first song "Gift Of Pain" is in death metal spirit. D. Randall Blythe delivered a "smooth" scream vocal. It is curious to see how David Ellefson find more spirit than his M-deth allegiance. Mike Portnoy surely has enough fun with all the prog - death drumming. "Let Darkness Fall" is more prog-stoner metal feel. It got some kick ass riff through all the song, best for a good headbanging session. A bass solo in the interlude is most welcome. "Can't Kill The Devil" is finally a song that can be identified with one of the member's band, Testament.  Chuck Billy sing in the style of Testament of the The Soul of Black era and the song also representing that particular nostalgic element. Actually, most of the song try to match the singer with his/her style, or vice versa. Most notable is "Triangulum" epic which is divided to three movements. The band recreate most precise the thrash metal era in '80, almost Metallica - Ride the Lightning vibes. It's in instrumental setting with many guest guitarist join the party. The last song dedicated to the master of heavy metal, Dio. It is "We Rock" with six vocalist trying to lift up the song.

Metal Allegiance is awesome album with lot of muscular guitar riffs in front. The main style is thrash metal, followed by some Portnoy progressive metal drumming. The good news also, they represent much of the older guys music, in other words the '80s style of thrash metal. Fans of each musician will not upset because their heroes are exactly playing in what they expected to. Fantastic album created by , who again, Mark Menghi!

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

Metal Allegiance - Metal Allegiance (2015)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Gift Of Pain
Vocals: D. Randall Blythe
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Gary Holt

02. Let Darkness Fall
Vocals: Troy Sanders
Lead, Rhythm & Acoustic Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums & Percussion: Mike Portnoy
Guest Bass: Mark Menghi & Rex Brown
Screams: D. Randall Blythe

03. Can't Kill The Devil
Vocals: Chuck Billy
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Phil Demmel & Andreas Kisser

04. Dying Song
Vocals: Philip H. Anselmo
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: Mark Menghi
Drums: Mike Portnoy

05. Scars
Vocals: Mark Osegueda & Cristina Scabbia
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy

06. Destination: Nowhere
Vocals: Matthew K. Heafy
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Matthew K. Heafy

07. Wait Until Tomorrow
Vocals: Doug Pinnick & Jamey Jasta
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums, Percussion & Additional Vocals: Mike Portnoy

8. Triangulum I. Creation Ii. Evolution Iii. Destruction (instrumental)
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Misha Mansoor, Ben Weinman, Charlie Benante, Phil Demmel, Matthew K. Heafy & Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal

09. Pledge Of Allegiance
Vocals: Mark Osegueda
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Charlie Benante, Gary Holt & Andreas Kisser

10. We Rock (Dio Cover) (Deluxe Edition Only)
Vocals: Mark Osegueda, Chris Jericho, Tim "Ripper" Owens, Alissa White-Gluz, Chuck Billy &
Steve "Zetro" Souza
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Andreas Kisser, Phil Demmel & Gary Holt


Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls (2015)

The big day has come. Iron Maiden the sixteenth is here. The Book of Souls is the ambitious title for it. It is the most philosophical album title, more than Brave New World, A Matter of Life and Death or so. How the album going to preserve the legacy of Iron Maiden, we shall examine one by one.

First the album cover. It is in the trend of nowadays. Eddie in a big grinning selfie. Let's give it 8/10 contribution score.

Now the first song come off is "If Eternity Should Fail". A big surprise where Bruce Dickinson started with the naration. What is this , you asked? Is Iron Maiden trying to compete with Metallica's Lulu. I say, dare you not thinking that way. This is just the few opening verses , it is quite okay also, if you listen a lot more often. The song-part is actually exactly Iron Maiden style from their current years. The familiar galloping drums and basses, the theme melody and choruses is easy to grab. 9/10

The next is "Speed of Light", already released as a single few weeks before the full album. It serves as usual album's best song to comply with fans. We got fresh song opener with the main riffs that kind of 'rock n roll', and a cowbell . Catchy tempo, three way guitar solos and unusually happy feeling for the song, make this everybody's favorite. 9/10

Then come of course the commanding bass line opener and acoustic guitar arpeggiating it. Bruce's lyric in the "Winter softly falling to the grouUUUnd....." is just perfect dictating to the rest of the song. "The Great Unknown" it is and a great third song to be heard. 8/10

Now, "The Red and the Black" is hard to grab at first. Steve's dark acoustic bass play is bringing us back to The X Factor's Blood on the World's Hands reminiscence. The song is 13 minutes more. The first part got a huge hook into the Powerslaves era with its quick singing and galloping background. After five minutes the song switched to the second part , marked by "the red and the black ..." chorus, then the rest of the song dedicated to the guitarist to take on. Though it is can be shorter if not because of the repetition. 8/10

"When the River Runs Deep" is the only skip-able song. It is offered not much except the great Bruce Dickinson voices over some predictable structure. 6/10

Rather than that, "The Book of Souls" closed the first CD with 10 minutes arrangement. Same format, two parts, the first one is the best part because when Iron Maiden seriously matching the lyric to the music, it will also good. The second parts is the "improvisation", just to show that the companion still able to jam over 5 minutes excitement. 8/10

"Death or Glory" opened up the 2nd CD with a blaze, and this one quite straight forward, something that we always want Iron Maiden to do more often. 8/10

"Shadows of the Valley" is not bad either, the song remind us to many familiar tunes, so nothing surprising as per now. 7/10

Coming from Tears of the Dragon to "Tears of a Clown" is huge lap, but of course both are also light years away differences in context. The shortest song in the package, straight forward and nothing to complaint. As bonuses, the guitars solos see all guitarist nailed up each with different styles. 7/10

"The Man of Sorrows" is the second last song, intro summoned up the Children of the Damn vibes. But do we listen rarity here where Bruce's voice kind of struggling?  As the matter of fact, with many may questioned this, the record was done before Bruce got into his medical problem. 7/10

The finale of all, certainly "Empire of the Clouds". This is by far the most breakthrough song in Iron Maiden entire 30 years catalog. The intro is in pentatonic scale, melodious exotic theme. Bruce is playing the piano and a violin is the main leading voice. Grandeur built up so far due to this new experiment. This is the track need to be taken seriously, because rather relied on the same old music resources, Iron Maiden is now delved into new empire of music. Only some of Bruce Dickinson  solo stuffs came in something similar. As I said earlier, the singing parts is well done, we got the atmosphere. As in all other song, the orchestration covered the thin layer in the background. Of all 18 minutes, the majority spend in the musician playing meticulous arrangement. This is the chance to listen to over ten minutes instrumental that done by non progressive metal band. It's interesting to see Bruce Dickinson as the sole credit song writer of this song. So it's written by the vocalist rather the musician,  they are most probably composed on the paper rather than a product of jamming.  10/10

The Books of Souls is the natural continuation of Iron Maiden's musical journey. They no longer produce catchy song as in 2 Minutes to Midnight or Prowler. They have enough of that. In the past four albums or so (started in Brave New World), Iron Maiden begin to write song that have more pleasure in singing, rather than just listening alone. This new album is one of that kind. Songs are emotionally attached to music. With the new experiment in the last song, Iron Maiden challenge his fans to prepare for more musical swift in the future. This maybe not a smooth album for everyone, thus saying the transition always become ground of discussion. But in the end, we got eleven new Iron Maiden song to hum, not bad for millions of fans out there.

Metal Harem class: 7.9 / 10

Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls (2015)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. If Eternity Should Fail
02. Speed of Light
03. The Great Unknown
04. The Red and the Black
05. When the River Runs Deep
06. The Book of Souls

07. Death or Glory
08. Shadows of the Valley
09. Tears of a Clown
10. The Man of Sorrows
11. Empire of the Clouds

Bruce Dickinson - vocals
Nicko McBrain - Drums
Steve Harris - bass
Dave Murray - guitars
Janick Gers - guitars
Adrian Smith - guitars


Symphony X - Underworld (2015)

Finally the 9th studio album of Symphony X is here. Will this be their masterpiece ninth symphony? Songs like Nevermore and Without You that prior released give much hope to fans that it will be. The two songs package into the album called "Underworld", heavily influence by Dante's Inferno. This album follow very much the same works done by Symphony X from their two previous albums, Paradise Lost and Iconoblast. Although the gap between Iconoblast and Underworld is four years away, meaning there must be a lot of fresh idea to put in.

After the majestic "Overture", the first opener is "Nevermore". This song kicks in quickly with its leading riff, rightly jump into the progressive metal that Symphony X very much owned. It is heavy, fast and dark. Russel Allen's voice is kind of harsh to give some death metal touch. Gradually they move back to more melodic song such as "Underworld" and most notably in "Without You". Where the later is done much in old time power to melodic metal approach. The next two songs come almost similar, "Kiss of Fire" and "Charon", Symphony X enjoy their style in these two, which is characterized with strong guitar riffs then followed with progressive improvisation by the band. Another interesting point is definitely in "To Hell And Back". This one is nine minutes long, start with epic power metal feel, all the way to the most complicated song writing of the album.

Underworld is pretty much predictable for die hard fans, but it is also will not disappointing anybody because it is good and well written. The album consistent with Symphony X musical progress, no nasty surprise about the band experimenting something, well a bit but not much. With most of the members doing their own stuffs during their four years gap, this album is a good show that everybody still coming back to their own band's style. This album can easily presented to new fans who eager to seek out what progressive metal and Symphony X in particular.

Favorite tracks: Without You, To Hell And Back
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Symphony X - Underworld (2015)

01. Overture
02. Nevermore
03. Underworld
04. Without You
05. Kiss of Fire
06. Charon
07. To Hell And Back
08. In My Darkest Hour
09. Run With The Devil
10. Swan Song
11. Legend

    Jason Rullo – drums
    Michael Lepond − bass guitar, backing vocals
    Michael Pinnella − keyboards, backing vocals
    Michael Romeo − guitar, backing vocals
    Russell Allen − lead vocals


Joe Satriani - Shockwave Supernova (2015)

He is one of most celebrated rock guitar instrumentalist of our age, Joe Satriani, has reach his 15th studio album with Shockwave Supernova. Although Satch begin his journey 30 years ago in the '80s, his music seems keep coming and coming. Unstoppable Moments as he describe in his previous album. In Shockwave Supernova a new concept introduce, and re-introduce. Shockwave Supernova as explained by Satch in the Youtube, Behind the Album episodes, are mostly materials taken from Unstoppable Moments. They are rewrite by  the moment Joe Satriani stopover in Singapore. One of other things that very interesting about S.S. is the backing band. Satch recruited the Aristocrats to back him up! Well, minus Guthrie Govan, only (Guthrie actually got his part in G4 tour organized by Joe). Marco Minnemann and Brian Beller are new gun to Joe, they are joined by long time Mike Keneally to form a new super band. The result quickly come to the surface, as the album sees many new ideas that harder to find in previous album.

Already the first song,  Shockwave Supernova, see the new sound coming in. This entrance song highlight is about the classic arpeggios-theme licks backed with Marco's progressive drummings. Satch still very much own his game with immediately Lost in a Memory, which is easily identified by fans with his Satch-style leading melody. There are 15 songs in this album. Those who traditionally attached to Joe Satriani, I can mentioned out are: In My Pocket, a satch-bogie one, San Francisco Blue, old timer bluesy tunes, and the flag ship song, If There Is No Heaven, brings us back to the standard Satriani's "catchy" simple drum beat. The other songs, we see many some fresh ideas. Its begin with Crazy Joe, where Marco got his first "difficult" task to handle the guitar that start with scattered blues lick to 16th notes. Marco's drumming come more frontal in On Peregrine Wings, where the double snare accent become the main theme on that song. While Mike Keneally got his keyboard highlight in Keep On Movin', although the main theme is kind of re-cycled old Satriani song we have listened in the past. Other interesting stuff keep coming, All Of My Life is pretty sweet all out mellow song in term of band playing, the percussion quite distinguished here. A Phase I'm Going Through see that reaching tenth song didn't mean the song writing become lessened in quality, in fact this song see another good song writing stuff that force us to listen it up to the end.

In short, this is a stunning album from Joe. This album benefit from intense song writing and backed with so much energy from Marco, Brian and Mike. The cliche about music chemistry is surely there. Hard to find one specific song that stand out because they all do. This album surely come above expectation. We can say that Joe Satriani's style is predictable, ehem, this album still easy to see that happened, but now with lot of details that make those familiar tunes become really awesome to revisited. Bring this one to your music station and let the Professor show us how the amazing things about guitar to be done.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Joe Satriani - Shockwave Supernova (2015)

01. Shockwave Supernova
02. Lost In A Memory
03. Crazy Joey
04. In My Pocket
05. On Peregrine Wings
06. Cataclysmic
07. San Francisco Blue
08. Keep On Movin'
09. All Of My Life
10. A Phase I'm Going Through
11. Scarborough Stomp
12. Butterfly And Zebra
13. If There Is No Heaven
14. Stars Race Across The Sky
15. Goodbye Supernova

    Joe Satriani – guitar
    Mike Keneally – guitar, keyboard
    Marco Minnemann – drums
    Bryan Beller – bass
    John Cuniberti - producer


Paul Wardingham - The Human Affliction (2015)

The Human Affliction is a continuation of the themes that inspired Assimilate Regenerate....

Is the premise for the 2nd Paul Wardingham studio album, The Human Affliction. As we all know, Paul Wardingham is Australian shredder that took the world by storm with his futuristic licks in the debut album Assimilate Regenerate in 2011. Going strong with that released, Paul then hailed as one of the latest young shredder wave alike of Andy James, Christian Muenzner, and others. His second album was await by many. In this July, Paul will delivered his second album, although it is obviously a continuation to the previous one, this new one got more boost on electronic stuffs.

The album started with quite melodious "Manufactured Existence". Running in the progressive metal platform, this is all-in shreds that showcase highly dynamic song writing. It is five minutes composition but the licks flows, connecting each passage giving many unexpected turn of events every several bars. The second track is "Beyond Human", that gone more aggressive with a laser blast-like elements. Enjoy the dark futuristic theme that done by guitar leads, despite everything seems "beyond human", the melodic is fore fronted and easy to follow. Paul also reserved a slower tempo track with haunting melancholic melodic in "The End is the Beginning". With all the electronic infused licks swirling around, a track like "Earth 2.0" is a contrasting point that changed the storyline.

Overall, The Human Affliction is an album full of outer space theme licks. Paul can be given a big round applause for his effort in putting everything in perfect writing and formed a very solid conceptual album, an instrumental guitar album. The atmosphere  kicks in since the first note being played, consistently put listener to the journey of whatever chapter Paul want us to be in. This is the album that combined metal guitar and some kind of dubstep's electronic creativity. In this respect, Paul runs on his own invented style very well. To have this journey, pre-order the long awaited new album now!

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Paul Wardingham - The Human Affliction (2015)

1. Manufactured Existence
2. Beyond Human
3. Synthetic Mind
4. The End is the Beginning
5. Convergence
6. Digital Apocalypse
7. Earth 2.0
8. Simulated Reality
9 . Destroy The Artilect
10 . Exodus
11. Burning Chrome


The Aristocrats - Tres Caballeros (2015)

Being success with their first album, Culture Crash (2013), these happy guys in The Aristocrats has pulled out their second studio album called (the) Tres Caballeros. Based on their album cover we may feel that the trio is very happy and enjoy much time jamming together. Not much rock band want to proclaimed their togetherness as solid as Disney's classic trio. As reminder, The Aristocrats is super talented band with Guthrie Govan on guitar, Bryan Beller bass and Marco Minneman drum. The GGBBMM is going to blow everyone's mind with their blazing progressive madness.

Tres Caballeros is direct continuation on Culture Crash with new 9 tracks of creative musics. Stupid 7 is begin with chicken picking-like riffs, the main melody see Guthrie experiment with some ugly over compressed distortion. The song is typical rock-funk-flamenco feel, understandably this is the flamenco orientated album. Another crazy catching tunes is in Texas Crazypants, with Texan and cowboys in your background imagination as listening to this. Of the mellow, "easy-listening" song is Pig's Day Off, sweet clean guitar melody around. Smuggler's Corridor is simple Latin infused progression , the band wrapped it nicely and provide us a vibrant sunshine feel. The Kentucky Meat Shower is a shower of country licks, another style that explored in this album. The album then closed with 11 minutes jam, Through The Flower is kind of back to ordinary shred guitar of the '80s.

Overall Tres Caballeros seems like a tune down of a lot of complicated thing and they offer more relax to stuffs. Focusing on Spanish theme, this album is one unique idea in the field of guitar instrumental album. Bryan Beller and Marco is the other three half of the band. Nothing much to be added except that they enjoy high time creating backing track for Guthrie to laid down his melody. Of course those are not ordinary supporter with two most talented guy on board. Final words, the tres caballeros is going to volar tu mente !

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

The Aristocrats - Tres Caballeros (2015)

01. Stupid 7
02. Jack s Back
03. Texas Crazypants
04. ZZ Top
05. Pig s Day Off
06. Smuggler s Corridor
07. Pressure Relief
08. The Kentucky Meat Shower
09. Through The Flower

Line Up:
guitarist Guthrie Govan (Steven Wilson, Asia/GPS)
bassist Bryan Beller (Joe Satriani, Dethklok)
drummer Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani)


Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus

Would there be any room for new invention in symphonic metal, after two Rhapsody bands keep pulling out albums years after years? Luca Turilli is trying to prove this possibility once again. In his version of Luca Turilli's Rhapsody, new term has been coined out, Cinematic Metal. His first attempt in Ascending to Infinity was quite extravaganza , but by the standard of Rhapsody, it was just a little further continuation of their symphonic-metal legacy. Prometheus, is almost similar to their previous "debut". Only that now, Luca Turilli put giant orchestration works into his neo-classical metal, much much more than ever before. The cinematic metal that is, has more obvious bombastic than his "predecessor" Hollywood-metal. So you can imagine what come next.

First, listen to the traditionally opener, Nova Genesis (Ad Splendorem Angeli Triumphantis) is the first stone of this new idea. More operatic singer in the high set composition that have techno-synth and many many orchestra hits inside. Il Cigno Nero come up next as their first full song. Unusual to their tradition, it is open with piano intro. The song itself is quite generic Rhapsodian song. Rosenkreuz (The Rose And The Cross) is techno infused combined with Gregorian chant thing. The dynamic vocal arrangements still dominated the whole composition. More cinematic opening in the third song, Anahata, now that we will miss the old Luca Turilli's guitar riff already since all three songs have less guitar works. With the fourth song also emphasized more in vocals works mimicking Verdi's opera and a song title such as  Il Tempo Degli Dei, we are desperately need a heavy stuff. One Ring To Rule Them All can be quite a relief in term of that, since the this is one of their heaviest tunes in this album. The rest of song did not help much, Prometheus is their early release and we have listen to it. Fantastic song in term of rich orchestration, but as many may compliant, the lyrics is very Da Vinci code and hard to crack the meaning. As usual the pinnacle of the album is their last song. Of Michael The Archangel and Lucifer's Fall Part II: Codex Nemesis, that's the first part already known in their debut album.

This album said it all about Luca Turilli. The maestro keep pushing the symphonic metal into the jungle of cinematic and score-like composition. Indeed, Prometheus is amazing display of that. The most difficult part for Rhapsodian fans, and symphonic metal listener would be around three issues: First. the reduce of guitar virtuoso and riffs, which was once Rhapsody best trademark feature. Secondly is the obvious repetitive and recycle of ideas, which is also their hardest things to crack regarding new Rhapsody album. Third, is the lyrics and story telling part. As we know, classic Rhapsody albums all have original concept that hardly can be repeat. In Prometheus, the lyric is intentionally encrypted, and for symphonic metal situation, this may not working. Nevertheless, the album will provide many ideas for those looking for inspiration upon scoring and metal combined together. Obviously, Luca Turilli still working his best for fans in his music.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus 

01. Nova Genesis (Ad Splendorem Angeli Triumphantis)
02. Il Cigno Nero
03. Rosenkreuz (The Rose And The Cross)
04. Anahata
05. Il Tempo Degli Dei
06. One Ring To Rule Them All
07. Notturno
08. Prometheus
09. King Solomon And The 72 Names Of God
10. Yggdrasil
11. Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifer's Fall Part II: Codex Nemesis
    1 - Codex Nemesis Alpha Omega
    2 - Symphonia Ignis Divinus (The Quantum Gate Revealed)
    3 - The Astral Convergence
    4 - The Divine Fire Of The Archangel
    5 - Of Psyche And Archetypes (System Overloaded)
12. Thundersteel [digipack bonus] [Cinematic version]

Alessandro Conti - vocals
Luca Turilli - guitars, keyboards
Dominique Leurquin - guitars
Alex Landenburg - drums
Patrice Guers - bass

Guest musicians
Dan "Fucking" Lucas - vocals
David Readman - vocals
Ralf Scheepers - vocals

Additional info
Recorded and mixed by Sebastian Roeder.
Mastered by Christoph Stickel.


Paradise Lost - The Plague Within (2015)

The guys in Paradise Lost did it again. Just when old timer fans enjoyed their semi "back-to-root" album, Tragic Idol (2012), the band changed their steer once again. Their 14th studio album called The Plague Within is yet another album that going to plague the fans-base with like it or hate it debate. The good news is, this new album still contained faint trace of their root from Draconian Times era. The reality is, majority of the materials is new sounds.

The first noticeable thing is the changes of vocals. Right from "No Hope In Sight", Nick Holmes has decided to put in heavier growl. Yes, as you heard it everywhere else, the vocals now is deathmetal-like. The song and ambiance itself can be said remained Paradise Lost in their '90s era, and some quite close to actually. "Terminal" is something of their catchy tunes. Stormy drums since the start. Once again it is the growl vocals that need to get adjusted by old timers. "An Eternity Of Lies" is where lies more new stuff. This one comes with almost equal division between growling and clean vocals. Something fits more correctly in their post-Draconian Times stuff. On their most dooming moment in the album, comes "Beneath Broken Earth" where the beat is doom slow. "Sacrifice The Flame" itself in turn, most mellow one, with cello sound and tragic sounding sings. The other surprise is in "Cry Out", they changed guitar distortion sounds too, to accommodate a more 'bluesy' riff in doom-death metal environment. There are still few bunch of songs where the band do their latest invention doom metal in the rest of album.

The Plague Within didn't sounds like the exact continuation from Tragic Idol. Where their previous seems like the resurrection of Paradise Lost classic era, The Plague Within is one more about creativity power. Once again die hard fans need to appreciated range of new ideas fit into their beloved Paradise Lost's doom metal. Objectively, there is enough old time stuff to celebrated, as in the first two songs. The rest is potential explored stuff, with bigger musical context.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Paradise Lost - The Plague Within (2015)

1. No Hope In Sight
2. Terminal
3. An Eternity Of Lies
4. Punishment Through Time
5. Beneath Broken Earth
6. Sacrifice The Flame
7. Victim Of The Past
8. Flesh From Bone
9. Cry Out
10. Return To The Sun
11. Fear Of Silence (bonus track, Deluxe Box format)
12. Never Look Away (bonus track, Deluxe Box format)
13. Victim Of The Past (orchestra version) (bonus track)

Paradise Lost members:
Gregor Mackintosh - guitars
Aaron Aedy - guitars
Stephen Edmondson - bass
Nick Holmes - vocals
Adrian Erlandsson - drums


Helloween - My God-Given Right (2015)

In 1985 Helloween released Walls of Jericho. Together with immediately Keeper of The Seven Keys I & II , this trilogy formed the very basic of power metal repertoire.  Some may said that everything else are just derivative of them. Die hard fans will divided them into Kai Hansen-era , who involved in all these album. The history saw Helloween gone through Kiske-era, then Deris-era and they are just respectively different to each other. 30 years has gone by, and Helloween is now sit safely as legendary band. The good news is the guys still consistently productive till this days. My God-Given Right (2015), is yet another new album by Helloween. Wikipedia marked this as the "first time the band releases five studio album with the same line up". The band is pretty solid in their later day too. Looking at the cover art, Andi Deris said this is the first cover art that less colorful than any other Helloween cover art previously. Something new from the old band's kitchen?

My God-Given Right is one of Helloween's album that has strong theme as almost a concept album. Major theme in the album is about future apocalypse, an old stuff recycled yet again. Musically speaking, this is the continuation of later day Helloween, quite consistent from their last five albums, a must be so. "Heroes" is the starter song.  The intro riffs is quite heavy and run in progressive-like scale rather than melodic power metal. When Andi Deris starts the song, the aroma of Helloween is immediately spread to the air. No doubt the song fits in Helloween, more precise the 2000s era of Helloween. "Battle's Won" to follow. This one is has more "happy" sound, with theatrical intro. The choruses still typically Helloween, something reminiscence of Mission Motherland. "My God-Given Right" is the closest point in the album to connected with oldies classic. The first couple bar of the song is the tribute of Power. Not sure about the anomaly in "Stay Crazy", where the intro is something like Iron Maidenesque bass line. Indeed this song in contrast quite different from typical Helloween, so something fresh to listen.

"Lost In America" is then to bring us back to power metal. Together in Battle's Won, these two songs released earlier as the singles. It brings back simple power metal with twin galloping guitars. "Russian Roule" is more of whammy guitar works in the intro. Song is again untypically Helloween. "The Swing Of A Fallen World" is darker mid tempo song, already heard since The Dark Ride era. Through the last album released two years ago, My God-Given Right is fully packed with 16 songs. The later material notable mentioned is "If God Loves Rock 'N' Roll", well, typical Helloween playing the God-theme song. "You, Still Of War", a long seven minutes song that also reminded us to A Tale That Wasn't Right feel. The rest are compilation of interesting ideas that maybe little to connect with the thirty years ago Helloween.

In any case, all songs infused with very high technical playing. Helloween surely not lessened their armor of licks after 30 years of practice. In fact, their music seems rising in complicity. Not a surprise since 30 years ago Keeper of the Seven Keys thirteen minutes composition is the epic works unparalleled by their contemporary. My God-Given Right is brand new Helloween album, material are mixed from old classic recreated , up to new fresh idea. Another meet the expectation released by the pumpkin guys.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Helloween - My God-Given Right (2015)

01. Heroes
02. Battle's Won
03. My God-Given Right
04. Stay Crazy
05. Lost In America
06. Russian Roulé
07. The Swing Of A Fallen World
08. Like Everybody Else
09. Creatures In Heaven
10. If God Loves Rock 'N' Roll
11. Living On The Edge
12. Claws
13. You, Still Of War
14. I Wish I Were There (Bonus Track)
15. Wicked Game (Bonus Track)
16. Free World (Bonus Track)

    Andi Deris – lead vocals
    Michael Weikath – lead and rhythm guitars
    Sascha Gerstner – lead and rhythm guitars
    Markus Grosskopf – bass
    Daniel Löble – drums


    Charlie Bauerfeind - production
    Martin Häusler - cover art


Whitesnake - The Purple Album (2015)

David Coverdale earliest fortune in hard rock history was based on his endeavor with Deep Purple, way back in years 1973-1976. Only three Purple years yet Coverdale indeed the man behind the microphone of at least two historical hits : Burn and Soldier of Fortune. So, when forty years later David Coverdale resurrecting these classics under his Whitesnake banner, it is well legitimate. Whitesnake - The Purple Album is cover of Deep Purple songs that released under three albums during Coverdale era, Burn (1974), Stormbinger (1974), and Come Taste the Band (1975). Material from Burn are the most in number, understandably because Burn is the strongest album of all three. It is regarded as metal classic. Six out of eight songs taken from this. Stormbinger is Purple album notably known for Soldier of Fortune. The most interesting is songs from Come Taste the Band, if memory serves us well, Tommy Bolin is the guitar of this album, not Richie Blackmore. This is also the album where Deep Purple last standing before the first hiatus up till 1984 then.

In the first track, "Burn", we got the version that forefront the twin guitar attack  of Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach . The mix is definitely of 21st century technology, so it is all clean. The intro's keyboard is somehow not dominant compared to the classic version, but Brian Ruedy got his glory time shredding over the keyboard solos in the middle. The song got super fast guitar shred by the two axemen.  In the singing line, David Coverdale re-adapted the song, notably in the choruses where in the original Burn, you got the higher scream. "You Fool No One" is rarely heard song from Purple. This is rather standard hard rock style, which will easily fit with the Whitesnake. Again the solos are killing us. "Love Child" is heavy on its Black Sabbath-like guitar riffs.

Reflections song on "Sail Away" which also acted as Elegy For Jon, is the song Coverdale write with Ritchie Blackmore. It is acoustic ballad and very much David Coverdale in style. "The Gypsy" is quite familiar among Purple fans, one of the song that see Deep Purple enthusiast in gypsy theme. Faster and heavier song is in "Lady Double Dealer", another song from Stormbinger album. "Mistreated" is seven minutes long taken the same format as in the original. Slow pace guitar riffs in the intro and the song actually resemble of what Deep Purple actually sounded in early '70s. "Holy Man" is another guitar acoustic track, this song entirely re-arranged and gives a good alternative to the original one. They also have some very American song such as the sliding guitar in "Might Just Take Your Life". This song enjoy the status single in the original Burn album. In the last part of album, there are two major hits "Stormbinger" and "Soldier of Fortune".

The Purple Album resurrected all Coverdale's songs in Deep Purple in good care. This is a careful re-arranged with lots of interesting moment to check out. Especially if you are Deep Purple die hard fans, the arrangement with twin shred guitar will probably provide you alternative version. This is a treat for both fans, Deep Purple and Whitesnake. It is must say that Coverdale successfully re-polished these into Whitesnake sounds. The dominant of keyboard is rather less preserved, that is the only lamented on this version. Instead fans of guitar will celebrated the rich shred solos inserted here. On the drumming, understandably Tommy Aldridge put in most of his own style rather than following Ian Paice hyper-aggressive fill. The decision to recorded all Coverdale-credited song even if the song is not popular one, is the best present for Deep Purple fans. This is the album you want to take to your kids and said about how nice the metal / rock world back in '70s.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Whitesnake - The Purple Album (2015)

1. BURN (from album "Burn")
2. YOU FOOL NO ONE (Interpolating ITCHY FINGERs) (from album "Burn")
3. LOVE CHILD (from album "Come Taste The Band")
4. SAIL AWAY featuring ELEGY FOR JON (from album "Burn")
5. THE GYPSY (from album "Stormbinger")
6. LADY DOUBLE DEALER (from album "Stormbinger")
7. MISTREATED (from album "Burn")
8. HOLY MAN (from album "Stormbinger")
9. MIGHT JUST TAKE YOUR LIFE (from album "Burn")
10. YOU KEEP ON MOVING (from album "Come Taste The Band")
11. SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (from album "Stormbinger")
12. LAY DOWN STAY DOWN  (from album "Burn")
13. STORMBRINGER (from album "Stormbinger")

Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks:
14. LADY LUCK (from album "Come Taste The Band")
15. COMIN' HOME (from album "Come Taste The Band")
16. SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (alternative mix)

David Coverdale (vocals),
Joel Hoekstra (guitars)
Reb Beach (guitars),
Michael Devin (bass),
Tommy Aldridge (drums),
Brian Ruedy (keyboards)


Mark Slaughter – Reflections in a Rear View Mirror (2015)

Good news for Mark Slaughter fans. Frontman of '90 hard rock band Slaughter back to the recording studio and release his solo album, Reflections in a Rear View Mirror. We can listen again to Mark's uniquely high pitch vocals with almost an album of old '90s hard rock songs. Mark Slaughter handle all the instruments except for the drum, played by Mark Goodin. Michael Wagener is the big names behind the mixing board. All set for one more glorious days of melodic rock.

The first song, Away I Go, is quite typical Slaughter song.  It goes in dynamic rhythm, hard rocking guitar riffs as the song's base and don't be surprise to hear sound effects in play. The one that obviously in the spirit of '90 is Never Givin' Up. Strong vocals harmony and AOR-like choruses is bringing back the old days. Carry Me Back Home represented the sentiments of carry us back to the nostalgic era with this sweet ballad. As you aware, Mark's song writing and composing talent is enormous in all songs we heard. Carry Me Back Home is a rich song in composition, quite unusual blending of pop-rock synth, mandolin-like sound etc. The other easy listening ballad is Baby Wants, a duet of piano and bluesy guitar in the beginning where it all leads to powerful choruses. The flexibility of Mark Slaughter song also best heard in Don't Turn Away, where he sings duet with Gena Johnson in another ballad song. In the most extreme idea is In Circle Flight, where we presented with Fastern-east instrumental flute theme. The last song, Deep In Her Heart, is rich in orchestration, perfectly acted as the closing song of the album.

Reflections in a Rear View Mirror comprised lots of Mark Slaughter creative ideas. Songs are not so hard and wild as in their Slaughter band. Instead, Mark taking more liberty in bringing anything that suited his song writing. Songs are still having their roots can be trace to Slaughter's era, the ballad songs can easily remind us to Days Gone By or It'll be Alright hits in the '90s. Enjoy this package of melodic rock album.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Mark Slaughter – Reflections in a Rear View Mirror (2015)

01. Away I Go
02. Never Givin’ Up
03. Miss Elainious
04. Carry Me Back Home
05. The Real Thing
06. Baby Wants
07. Don’t Turn Away
08. Somewhere Isn’t Here
09. In Circle Flight
10. Velcro Jesus
11. Deep In Her Heart

Mark Slaughter – Lead Vocals,Guitar,Bass,Keyboards
Mark Goodin – Drums
Gena Johnson – Guest Vocals on “Don’t turn away”
Bill Jordan – Guest Keyboards on “Don’t turn away”
Michael Wagener - Mixing, Mastering


Kamelot - Haven (2015)

2015 marked the twelve year of Kamelot's first studio album, Eternity, when released in 1995. Thinking back, over that 20 years, Kamelot did evolved very much. As a power metal force in Tampa, now Kamelot is a worldwide success with 11 studio albums. Their latest for 2015 is Haven. This is their 11th studio release, as well the 2nd with vocalist Tommy Karevik. Tommy has successfully injected new blood to Kamelot on Silverthorn album. Of course, twenty years should enough to tranformed Kamelot. Their music is no longer, ehem, as catchy as decades years ago. Just like aging wine they has mature up.

Kamelot still hold unique power metal style with their low pitch singing, as opposed to high screaming style in Europe. Fallen Star is one of the extreme example of this. Tommy Karevik started the album with one short piano and voice passage. The whole album stirred to mellow mood by this. Very story telling in composition, which is Kamelot other trademark. This song also quickly become familiar, prove that the song writing has been quite strong. Insomnia to follow, with official video clip this is supposedly the album "hit". We got strong Kamelot in style here, the choruses are all familiar as heard before. A rather futuristic attempt is in third song, Citizen Zero. Let us also aware that the album is another futuristic - apocalypse theme album. Be informed also, several familiar musicians are involved in this project. First is Troy Donockley who is famous in his Nightwish position as the pipe whistling metalist. Together with Charlotte Wessels from Delain, they are soon be heard in Under Grey Skies, a beautiful done ballad.

The second part of the album begin after a connector Ecclesia and officially started with End Of Innocence . Interesting song is Beautiful Apocalypse , where many industrial elements being added to Kamelot's style. This to be climax  in Revolution where Alisa White-Gluz making her appearances. You know what roles she is in. Everything to be ended peacefully then in the last song in Haven.

Obviously, Haven from Kamelot is not everyone's cup of tea. Musically, this is a very serious works with lots of details compositions. If you enjoy Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime put into power metal platform, then this will be your thing. Good news is the quality of each song really stand ups, they are worth your one hour listening. Tommy Karevik brings us to the apocalyptic time with his voices. Thomas Youngblood is still holding his cards with lots of newly invented licks. Haven is really testing how far the genre can goes without being cliche. In retrospect of their 20 years in apocalypse metal, this is just as expected. Another quality food for Kamelot fans to chew.

Favorite tracks: Fallen Star, Under Grey Skies, Revolution
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Kamelot - Haven (2015)

01. Fallen Star
02. Insomnia
03. Citizen Zero
04. Veil Of Elysium
05. Under Grey Skies
06. My Therapy
07. Ecclesia
08. End Of Innocence
09. Beautiful Apocalypse
10. Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
11. Here's To The Fall
12. Revolution
13. Haven

Tommy Karevik – vocals
Thomas Youngblood – guitars
Sean Tibbetts – bass guitar
Oliver Palotai - keyboards, orchestrations
Casey Grillo – drums

Guest/session members

Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) - female vocals, growling vocals
Troy Donockley (Nightwish) - Uilleann pipes, tin whistle
Charlotte Wessels (Delain) - female vocals

Sascha Paeth - producer
Jacob Hansen - mastering


Cain's Offering - Stormcrow (2015)

Cain's Offering is at first the step son of Jani Liimatainen in his post-Sonata Arctica days. His collaboration with Timo Kotipelto is productive resulting in Cain's Offering first album and then their Blackoustic project. Almost six years after the band first album, the project once again resurrected in this 2nd album, Stormcrow. The line up change a bit, notably is the addition of keyboards superstar Jens Johansson, right away borrowed from Stratovarius. Jani Hurula from Silent Voice still there and new bassist Jonas.

The titled song Stormcrow started the album. Very similar to Stratovarius except for the absence of neo-classical guitar dictation. Indeed, almost the whole album didn't see much Jani Liimatainen step up for leading riffs, except for the second song The Best of Times. This song is the perfect combination of old Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius, or to be precise, Jani's heavier side and Kotipelto's interpretation. The keyboard play is reminded us to Stratovarius latest sound in Nemesis. Another strong cut in their sleeve is I Will Build You a Rome. This one come with an official lyric video. Catchy one and maximize Timo's singing. Too Tired to Run is the piano ballad with melancholy string layers.  The next song Antemortem got a bit of Nightwish's  if you listen carefully. One special instrumental track in I Am Legion to extended their score-metal passion.

With Timo Kotipelto singing, this song basically hard to different from Stratovarius, but then the music quiet contrast to his legendary band. Stormcrow got lots of symphonic elements. There aren't too many leading riffs because mostly focus on the vocal line, which is very melodic. One thing that remind us to Jani is the fast shred of all solos in this album. He is on fire with Jens Johansson, oftenly exchange the solos in one or two bars. When Sonata Arctica declined in their power metal stuff, Cain's Offering offered sequel of Jani Liimatainen legacy. Added Kotipelko on board, Stormcrow is unique power metal project that worth to check by any power metal fans.

Favorite tracks: The Best of Times, i Will Build You a Rome, Antemortem
Metal Harem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Cain's Offering - Stormcrow (2015) 

1. Stormcrow
2. The Best of Times
3. A Night to Forget
4. I Will Build You a Rome
5. Too Tired to Run
6. Constellation of Tears
7. Antemortem
8. My Heart Beats for No One
9. I Am Legion (instrumental)
10. Rising Sun
11. On the Shore

Jani Hurula - Drums (2009-present) (Silent Voices)
Jani Liimatainen - Guitars (2009-present) (Kotipelto & Liimatainen,  ex-Sonata Arctica, )
Timo Kotipelto - Vocals (2009-present) (Stratovarius,Kotipelto & Liimatainen)
Jonas Kuhlberg - Bass (2014-present)
Jens Johansson - Keyboards (2014-present) (Stratovarius, ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen)

I Will Build You A Rome


Blackwelder - Survival Of The Fittest (2015)

Except for the guitarist, Blackwelder will quickly recognized by metal fans by just looking at the line up. This must be the next project by Ralf Scheepers outside his Primal Fear day jobs. Aquiles Priester is the next big name to mention. He just appear on Tony MacAlpine's latest solo album . Bjorn Englen, ex Yngwie and also part of Tony MacAlpine band. It's only the guitarist that required me to googled up his name, Andrew Szucs is the one trusted to carried out all the axing and hack job. Put all together we got their first album, Survival Of The Fittest, visualized with eye catching cover artwork.

Listen to the first opening song, "Survival Of The Fittest". Through a simple leading melody we landed on catchy riffs followed by headbanging groove when the vocals kick in. Ralf's voices quickly dominated the scene and we know who is the boss here. The second song simply rock n' power in style, "Spaceman", is kind of over the top AOR song with stormy guitar chops and drum all over it. Very interesting song, solos are quite jaw dropping for somebody who just handshake with Andrew. We got to interesting guitar instrumental track in "Adeturi", shred in neo classical style. Looks who is speaking now. His neo-classical licks still can be hear on "Inner Voice" intro then in "Remember the Time". The later is quite epic metal in spirit. You may want to surprise yourself with other excellent songs.

This is the album where expected nothing but straightforward power metal. There are not much brain twisting complicated composition here. Just old time formula where the guitar gave in the power riffs, followed up with blasting double pedal drumming. Needless to say, Ralf Scheepers is the front man that top all talents into his voices. He is closely followed by our newly discovered talented guitarist. Andrew Szucs that gives the shipload of solos and riffs, he is the boss on the six strings. As mentioned, Aquiles Preister impressed us with his top speed foot works, nothing beat a 300rpm double pedal fills in. So please welcome, Blackwelder.

Favorite tracks: Spaceman, Adeturi
Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Blackwelder - Survival Of The Fittest (2015)

01. The Night Of New Moon
02. Spaceman
03. Adeturi (instrumental)
04. Freeway Of Life
05. Inner Voice
06. With Flying Colors
07. Remember The Time
08. Play Some More
09. Oriental Spell
10. Judgement Day

Line Up:
Ralf Scheepers - Vocals (Primal Fear, ex-Gamma Ray)
Andrew Szucs - Guitar (Seven Seraphim)
Bjorn Englen - Bass (Dio Disciples, Tony MacAlpine, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen)
Aquiles Priester - Drums (Primal Fear, Hangar, ex-Angra)



Martin J. Andersen - Six String Renegade (2015)

This is a semi instrumental hard rock album done by guitarist Martin J. Andersen. Six String Renegade is the debut album for Martin, who is the guitarist of Blindstone, hardrock / blues band from Danish. If you haven't heard about his name, google him now. The style has been around American blues and hard rock.

The first track is instrumental The Fire Burns Within , very much open for a fascinating guitar teasing hour ahead. Six String Renegade and Dirty Little Angel are blues rock that focus on vocal and also incredible amounts of blues solos inside. On the cover are notable The Trooper by Iron Maiden. The Trooper turned into backing track for Martin to lay out some killer licks and solos, if you are Iron Maiden fans do not missed this one. For the closing it is Anthem For Humanity, an nine minutes epic instrumental that guested by Torben Enevoldsen, Michael Denner (ex-Merciful Fate) and Soren Andersen.

Attractive package on this album, Six String Renegade, as the title suggest, is a celebration of guitar music and song. The instrumentals tracks are worth collected by shred fans while the vocalized song will please the blues rock fans because they are highly enjoyable. Another valuable addition from quite unknown guitarist into my collection.

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

Buy it Here - Amazon

Martin J. Andersen - Six String Renegade (2015)

01. The Fire Burns Within (instrumental)
02. Six String Renegade
03. Dirty Little Angel
04. Strange Dreams (Frank Marino cover) (instrumental)
05. Never Ending Climb
06. The Trooper (Iron Maiden cover) (instrumental)
07. Freak Flag Flying
08. Funky State Of Mind
09. Stranger (Johnny Winter cover) (instrumental)
10. Anthem For Humanity

Peter Bruun and Jesper Bunk on bass
Klaus Agerbo on drums
Martin J. Andersen on guitars and vocals
special guest Michael Denner, Torben Enevoldsen & Soren Andersen at "Anthem For Humanity"


Tony MacAlpine - Concrete Gardens (2015)

The 12th studio album from Tony. Concrete Gardens once again contained all shred guitar instrumentals. On this album, Tony supported by Aquiles Priester on all tracks and three other bassists. Jeff Loomis appeared on one song, "Square Circles". Some of the tracks are being recorded live with video, you can view it on EMG PickUp TV. Also Nili Brosh appeared on the live video.

Most of the songs done in progressive metal manners. "Exhibitionist Blvd." as the opener gives a concrete melodic licks, the song flows from one to the other parts smoothly. Mind blowing transitions and aggressive drumming. "The King's Rhapsody" is rather Djent-like, lots of dissonances scales, quite contrast from the first one. "Man In A Metal Cage" started with blasting drumming fills, the shreds on its full speed. "Poison Cookies" back to "average" tempo and melodic approach, suitable for beginner's ears. "Sierra Morena" is one of the album highlight, twin guitar attacks, odd metering, well, basically any progressive tricks and ideas put in together. It is continued to "Square Circles", Jeff Loomis joined in for a couple of bar jamming. These songs performed live in EMG TV studio Youtube channel. "Confessions Of A Medieval Monument" is kind having bit of power metal spirit. Tony closed the album with his trademark piano exercise, "Maiden's Wish" is quite a virtuoso pieces.

Concrete Gardens is one of Tony MacAlpine best album lately. Compare to his 2011 Self Title album, this one having more concrete basis to enjoy. The main menu is progressive metal, but it is done with excellence composition in it. Not just a blasting nowhere notes by average guitarist, Tony polished every song with great details. Aquiles Priester must enjoy playing on this album very much, his chops are top notch. This maybe the album where I really impressed by Aquiles after many years. Superb shred album that must be listened by all guitar lovers.

Favorite tracks: Exhibitionist Blvd, Napoleon's Puppet, Square Circles, Sierra Morena, Poison Cookies
Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Tony MacAlpine - Concrete Gardens (2015)

01. Exhibitionist Blvd.
02. The King's Rhapsody - see Videos
03. Man In A Metal Cage
04. Poison Cookies
05. Epic
06. Napoleon's Puppet
07. Sierra Morena - see Videos
08. Square Circles - see Video
09. Red Giant
10. Confessions Of A Medieval Monument
11. Concrete Gardens
12. Maiden's Wish

    Tony MacAlpine – guitar, keyboard, bass (tracks 2, 3, 5, 10), production
    Jeff Loomis – guitar solo (track 8)
    Nili Brosh - guitar
    Aquiles Priester – drums
    Pete Griffin – bass (tracks 1, 4, 6–8)
    Lucky Islam – bass (track 9)
    Sean Delson – bass (track 11)
    Adair Daufembach – mixing
    Seva – mastering
    Michael Mesker – executive production


Michael Kiske & Amanda Somerville - City Of Heroes (2015)

This is the second studio album for Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville duet, City of Heroes. Noted that they are now using expanded full version of their name, instead of simply Kiske/Somerville. The backing musicians are very much the same, Magnus Karlsson and Mat Sinner are on duty to provide arrangements. City of Heroes come with slightly different feel compare to the past debut album. While the debut sounds very much Timo Tolkien, City of Heroes is leaning more towards Magnus Karlsson world of power metal. Michael Kiske sounds very much home, this maybe his most power metal project, as compare to his other job in Place Vendome or Unisonic. Amanda Somerville is given more wide range tasks from operatic voices to soul-like singing,

"City of Heroes" is the usual opener with tasty intro riff, then the guitars are chopping through out the song. Michael Kiske sings the most of the song with Amanda providing powerful backing. This song can be describe as ideal power metal + Kiske + female voices setup. "Walk on Water" is rather quick piano + orchestra ballad incoming but then we'll know why.  It's a real potential hit. The song quickly do the male and female duet arrangement. Everything went out really epic when we got to the power chorus part, well remembered. The composition get their teeth shown well on the third track "Rising Up". The song will be good sung by any power metal singer, and of course absolutely beast in the hand of Michael Kiske and Amanda. It's a slowly built up, the orchestra parts is no brainer and the choruses are again well written. "Breaking Neptune" is another interesting point in the middle section. Started with re-touched familiar riff. It is interesting because the song done in simple one-two pedal drumming yet the accompanied musics are heavily symphonic metal. "Ocean of Tears" is teary violin ballad, come in real slow tempo and Amanda Somerville takes the control. Everything back in track with "Last Goodbye", guitar orientated heavy metal track. "After the Night Is Over" is the third ballad, this one done with acoustic guitar on top.

Aparts from the lead Kiske / Somerville spot light, Magnus Karlsson's melodic solos also contributed to the composition something like the third voices. We can say the song writing are really get into good hand by the musician team and executed well by the duo. We also witness one of few female power metal drummer, Veronika Lukesova in action. Her drumming didn't indicated anything feminism , instead as hard as any men can do. Kiske / Somerville is transformed into highly waited project, perhaps in rival to other "duo" such as Allen / Lande project. There is not much complained for power metal fans, this is one of the year highlighted album.

Favorite tracks: Walk on Water, Rising Up, City of Heroes
Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Michael Kiske & Amanda Somerville - City Of Heroes (2015)

01. City of Heroes 04:02
02. Walk on Water 04:16
03. Rising Up 04:44
04. Salvation 05:59
05. Lights Out 04:49
06. Breaking Neptune 04:09
07. Ocean of Tears 04:28
08. Open Your Eyes 04:17
09. Last Goodbye 03:47
10. After the Night Is Over 04:57
11. Run with a Dream 04:39
12. Right Now 05:18

Line Up:
Michael Kiske - Vocals (Unisonic, Avantasia (live),  Place Vendome, ex-Helloween)
Amanda Somerville - Vocals (Avantasia (live), Aina, ex-Epica (live))
Magnus Karlsson - Guitars & Keyboards (Magnus Karlsson's Free Fall, Primal Fear)
Mat Sinner - Bass & Backing Vocals (Primal Fear, Silent Force, Sinner, )
Veronika Lukesova - Drums

Guest Musician:
Sander Gommans - Lyrics on track 6 (ex-After Forever)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...