29.5.15

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

Production

    Charlie Bauerfeind - production
    Martin Häusler - cover art


17.5.15

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)

13.5.15

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


2.5.15

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



1.5.15

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

Line-Up:
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


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