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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

Guy Band Reviews

RAVENHEART MUSIC is a tool to promote female fronted rock and metal music. However, we here on occasion receive music to review from male fronted bands. If a band or their label takes the trouble to send us music from within the UK or anywhere else, the least we can do is to try and review it!

Archived Guy Band reviews can be found here. Scroll down and click relevant link.

DEVILMENT...'II - THE MEPHISTO WALTZES'

(Nuclear Blast Entertainment) Reviewed 3rd December 2016

I must admit to not being an avid fan of Cradle Of Filth, not quite my cuppa tea. What is this to do with Ipswich (UK) based Devilment?. Well awesome Suffolk throat warbler Dani Filth fronts Devilment, but there is a female vocalist too, and she goes by the name of Lauren Francis, who also takes care of the keyboards/synths department. And you know something, this album is rather good. I suppose you would place the style of music into the Melodic Gothic Metal/Black Metal category. There are eleven tracks and by and large this is rather catchy stuff. Dani Filth's unique voice controls the vocal department, but he is ably assisted by Lauren, whose poppy vocal style contrasts greatly with Dani's style, and I do like the vocal contrast offered on this record. The opener 'Judasstein' is a catchy belter that pounds along rather nicely, with the curiously titled track 'Hitchcock Blonde' maintaining the heaviness and catchiness all at the same time. Dani is the star of the show so far, but Lauren pops up on third track 'Under The Thunder', another melodic thumper. The mid paced 'Full Dark, No Stars' is an awesome track with Lauren ably assisting Dani at the mic stand. There are further outstanding cuts including my fave from the record 'Entangled In Our Pride', a melodic thumper with a catchy chorus featuring Lauren's awesome vocals! In summary, this is a good record, it is a Gothic/Black Metal release but with a stellar supply of melodies and keys. Well worth checking out! 9.25/10 (Dave)

ALTER BRIDGE...'THE LAST HERO'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 2nd December 2016

Alter Bridge is a fave band of mine and Myles Kennedy is one helluva singer. This is their fifth effort and a memorable record it is too. There are massive riffs, memorable choruses and an album sure worth spending your hard earned money on, or at least getting someone to buy it for you for Christmas. The album has been out for a few weeks now, but is well recommended and lasting well over the hour, will give you your monies worth in listening pleasure. A short review.... 9/10 (Dave)

SIXX:AM...'PRAYERS FOR THE BLESSED'

(Eleven Seven Music) Reviewed 25th November 2016

Lyrically, this is a very powerful album. It follows on from 'Prayers For The Damned, Vol 1' that was released earlier this year. This is in-fact Volume 2 and is equally as good as the previous release. Everything here ticks all the right boxes, anthemic fist pumping rock with strong, powerful and intense lyrics, no doubt Nikki Sixx looking back at his drug and booze addiction years. And couple that with an awesome cover of 'Without You' originally recorded by Harry Nilsson in 1971 and this release becomes one helluva record. If you have 'Prayers For The Damned Vol 1' then this album is a must buy, and if you have not get either buy them both now. Awesome.....9.5/10 (Dave)

FM...'INDISCREET 30'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 22nd November 2016

30 years on from its original release, British Melodic Rockers FM decided to record a modern-day version of their classic debut album INDISCREET. Using today's modern technology and recording techniques, the songs have been given a new dynamic and power that could not be achieved in the '80s. Being an FM fan from day one, this to me is an essential purchase for the FM fan and indeed new fans alike. The record also features seven bonus tracks including a brand new song 'Running On Empty' and a new recording of 'Let Love Be The Leader'. This is the band's modern day interpretation of their iconic first album, played by FM as they are today. Get it! A must buy!...9.5/10 (Dave)

MAJESTY OF REVIVAL...'DUALISM'

(More Hate Productions/Massive Sound Recordings) Reviewed 19th November 2016

This is the third full-length album by the famous Ukrainian band MAJESTY OF REVIVAL that were conceived in 2009. Here one can find on this long player, various influences from pop-rock to progressive occasional thrash metal, from gothic influences to symphonic power metal and folk coupled with catchy choruses. There is a mighty rhythm section, masterful guitar and keyboard lines, elegant arrangements and powerful vocals being melted into 14 cross-genre songs full of groovy riffs coupled with fresh and catchy melodies. I admit to being wary when I first put this cd on, but to be perfectly frank, it is rather good. Opener, the near 7 minute ‘Deadlock’ is possibly one of the heavier more progressive cuts on the album, thumping guitar riffs and awesome synths that drive the track along. A complex start and a rather good start too. Next track ‘Awaken’ possesses prog metal influences, while ‘Alive’ is a more straight forward rocker with a melodic chorus and a great guitar solo to boot. So far so good and it continues with numbers like the progressive ‘Inner Dimension’, the bouncy ‘Failure’, the totally awesome and melodic rocking ’Wolfheart’ (a live favourite surely), the power ballad ‘When The Night Embrace’ and the symphonic sounding 'Serenity'. This cd has been out for a few weeks now and I do rather like it, the band’s facebook is here, well recommended… 9/10 (Dave)

PRETTY MAIDS...'KINGMAKER'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 18th November 2016

I love this band and have been into their music since their early days (mid 80s). Founded in 1981 by friends, guitarist Ken Hammer and vocalist Ronnie Atkins, their pedigree within the scene is massive, this album is their latest and an awesome album it is from a band that is like a good wine, gets better with age :) The band's music can be classed as Melodic Hard Rock, and I can also say that there are not many bands that do ballads any better either. There are eleven tracks on this long player (their 15th btw), every one a winner to my ears. Rockers like the opening salvo 'When God Took A Day Off' and the hideously melodic title track, through to the catchy 'Bulls Eye', the heavy 'Civilized Monsters' with its catchy chorus, to the metal monster 'Was That What You Wanted', to power ballads like 'Last Beauty On Earth'. In-fact every track on this album is awesome, this is a great album and well recommended to fans of catchy, melodic hard rock... 9.75/10 (Dave)

ENBOUND...'THE BLACKENED HEART'

(Ulterium Records) Reviewed 18th November 2016

Enbound was formed in 2006 by Mike Cameron Force, who previously had played with bands like Zonata and Poem. Some years were spent working on material, finding the right direction for Enbound, and also the right members. The experienced bass player Swede "Machine gun fingers" Odén was added to the line-up, as well as the extremely talented guitar virtuoso Marvin Flowberg. And finally in 2009 the band found their singer in Lee Hunter [Lars Säfsund]. The debut album 'And She Says Gold' was released in 2011 and was received very well by fans and the media alike, and songs like 'Combined The Souls' and 'Under A Spell' are by many considered classics. Now Enbound, following the praised album debut 'And She Says Gold' finally present this their second album to the music buying public, which so happens to be an awesome album for you Melodic Power Metal fans out there. Some thundering tracks like 'Crossroad', the melodic and catchy 'Get Ready For', the bombastic 'Twelve' and the pen ultimate track, the ballad 'They Dont Even Know'. To summarise: 'The Blackened Heart' has a nice mix of heavy and up tempo songs, all with their own strong and grasping melodies and is as a consequence, an album well worth checking out... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

THEOCRACY...'GHOST SHIP'

(Ulterium Records) Reviewed 17th November 2016

Fronted by the awesome vocals of Matt Smith, Theocracy is finally back with this their new album, featuring 10 powerful new songs that showcase the epic, heavy and melodic sound the band is known for. 'Ghost Ship' is the follow up to 2011's 'As the World Bleeds' and 2013's self-titled debut remix. With this long player, Theocracy deliver ten muscular and streamlined tracks that never lose focus and combine for one memorable journey. Each song on Ghost Ship stands alone and has a unique signature, but every moment sounds unmistakably like Theocracy. Faves include the catchy title track, the symphonic and melodious 'Wishing Well', the tuneful 'Around The World and Back' with its catchy chorus, the rocking 'Currency In A Bankrupt World' and the epic closing track 'Easter'. This awesome album was produced and engineered by Matt Smith at his studio in Athens, and at a farmhouse that the band converted into a recording space. This is a well produced album and is well worth checking out... 8.5/10 (Dave)

SERIOUS BLACK...'MIRRORWORLD'

(AFM Records) Reviewed 23rd October 2016

The new album ‘Mirrorworld’ from metal merchants Serious Black is the epitome of melodic power metal in perfection, an out-and-out consistent album, its qualities flawlessly presented by its protagonists. First and foremost vocalist Urban breed (ex-Tad Morose, ex-Bloodbound), who has left his mark on the new songs with his versatile and powerful voice. Bob Katsionis (Firewind) and Dominik Sebastian (Edenbridge) have supplied the riffs and tasteful solos, drummer Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody Of Fire) and bassist Mario Lochert (ex-Visions Of Atlantis) providing the rhythm foundation, complemented by keyboardist Jan Vacik, who also took care of mixing and mastering the recordings. The ‘Mirrorworld’ standard CD consists of nine songs, the Digipak features seven additional bonus tracks which keep up the high standard and fit in seamlessly, both in terms of their quality as well as their style. This album will certainly go down well with the metal fraternity out there, especially if you like your metal full of power and melody. Yep, this is a goodie so buy! 8.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

OCEANS OF TIME...'TRUST'

(Melodic Revolution) Reviewed 23rd October 2016

This is the long awaited second album from Norway's finest epic melodic power progressive band Oceans Of Time. Fronted by Ken Lyngfoss, there are 12 tracks on this release that include special vocal guest appearances by Jorn Lande (JORN, Beyond Twilight, Allen/Lande) and Nils K. Rue (Pagan's Mind). This is rather good catchy melodic metal with progressive influences - I myself do rather like the track 'Show Me The Way'. Mixed and mastered at Jailhouse Studios by Tommy Hansen this is a recommended release for you melodic metalheads out there... 8/10 (Hannah Cooper)

VANEXA...TOO HEAVY TO FLY'

(Punishment 18 - Black Widow) Reviewed 22nd October 2016

Here’s the most prominent Italian Heavy Metal band out of the Metal Rock wave born in late 70s and early 80s. The band was formed in Savona in 1979 with a typical British sound in the wake of the NWOBHM, and their debut album "Vanexa" was deemed by the national press, back in '83, as the first Heavy Metal album ever released in Italy, and even rocketed to the top of the Heavy Metal charts in the Netherlands. Several releases later and in the year 2016, the band throw at us their new release called 'Too Heavy To Fly'. There are 10 tracks on this record of good old metal that throws us back to the heady days of the 70's and 80's. So if metal from that era is your cuppa tea, then check this little goodie out, or buy it for your Metaltastic Dad for Christmas :)... 7.75/10 (Hannah Cooper)

EDEN'S CURSE...'CARDINAL'

(AFM Records) Reviewed 19th October 2016

This is the fifth album from Glasgow based Melodic Metal band Eden's Curse, and it is a feast of Melodic Metal to wrap your ears around. With Nikola Mijic on vocals, the album features all of the usual EDEN'S CURSE trademark melodies, hooks and riffs. Written mainly by the band's long established writing team of bassist and founding member Paul Logue, guitarist Thorsten Koehne and former drummer Pete Newdeck (Tainted Nation), what is immediately apparent about 'Cardinal' is that it showcases some of the group's heaviest and most progressive moments to date. Opener 'Prophets Of Doom' hurtles out of the speakers with its double bass attack and strong riffing, wrapped around some huge vocal hooks and multi-layered keyboards, while lead single 'Sell Your Soul' follows and is a catchy melodic belter. 'The Great Pretender' is another great track, while 'Find My Way' is an epic near 7 minute ballad together with anthemic chorus. The track 'Unconditional' is a duet with the lovely Liv Kristine and has radio airplay written all over it. Closing this awesome album is the second epic track from the record, the near 8 minute 'Jericho', based on the biblical tale of the Battle of Jericho. A real story both lyrically and musically, it is quintessential EDEN'S CURSE and destined to become a live fan favourite. This 12 track album is superbly mixed by the band’s long time engineer Dennis Ward (Unisonic, Pink Cream 69, Krokus, Angra), this long player is going to become a classic and is essential listening as a consequence... 9/10 (Dave)

EWIGHEIM…’SCHLAFLIEDER’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 5th September 2016

This is the new album from the electro/rock gloomsters EWIGHEIM who hail from Thuringia, Germany. EWIGHEIM… what is it exactly? Ewigheim is a peaceful place, where you can rest your head on a pillow and where you can twist your eyes. A place, where Yantit (Eisregen), Allen (The Vision Bleak) and Schwadorf (The Vision Bleak, Empyrium) sing you a lullaby while you feel completely safe and comfy. You fall asleep… What follows is a dream that lasts 46:05 minutes. A dream about the moon, which hangs himself after he no longer sees a point in glowing. A dream about a human being, obsessed with life, who learns what it means to miss your own soul. A dream about a humble human being, who learns to appreciate the devil while he is on a journey, and who recognizes the evil in his own existence. It’s a weird dream, but what the heck! The dream consisting of 11 cuts (inc two digipak bonus tracks that I have) offers some rather cool music sung in the band’s native tongue. The record consists mainly of mid tempo and up tempo tracks, and rather melodic they are too, but not being one who knows much German, I am unable to understand what is being sung. However, I guess the songs follow a pattern as mentioned in the ‘dream’ above, with one or two slower doomier numbers thrown in for good measure. The Germans certainly seem to be at the top of their game with regards Gothic and Electro Rock and the band Ewigheim is of no exception. Album is due 21st October.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

LORDI…'Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy)'

(AFM Records) Reviewed 5th September 2016

Lordi Lordi, what have we got here then? Well Lordi is a Finnish hard rock and melodic heavy metal band, originally formed in 1992 by the band's lead singer, songwriter, visual art designer and costume maker, Mr Lordi. The band is known for their monstrous look and the horror elements in the stage performance and music videos. With catchy songs and screaming riffs, the horrific lyrics will stick in your mind whether you like it or not. And upon listening to this, their 8th album I believe, the tracks are indeed hideously catchy, but if you are a person that loves the lyrical side of music, then maybe the lyrical content of the music on offer here may leave a little to be desired. Titles of tracks like 'Let's Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be The Beast-Man In The Masters Of The Universe)', ‘Mary Is Dead’ and ‘The Night The Monsters Died’ will give you an idea as to the musical content, but if you know Lordi anyway, then you will come to expect it :) But let’s not take anything away from this well established band, not forgetting 2006 when Lordi took part in the Eurovision song contest and won the whole competition as the first and only winner from Finland, with all-time record breaking points at the time in Eurovision history. Anyway, this record throws at us 14 tracks of Hard Rock/Melodic Metal, with some hideously catchy choruses that you just cannot help but tap your feet and head bang too. Out on September 16th (EU)/September 30th (USA), this could be an album to check out if catchy melodic metal is your cuppa tea!... 8.5/10 (Dave)

SKILLET…’UNLEASHED’

(Atlantic Records) Reviewed 14th August 2016

This is Christian Rockers Skillet’s ninth studio release and the phrase “if it ain’t broken why fix it?” comes to the fore with this album. The band so happens to be an awesome outfit, and this album is a damn fine offering as are their others I hasten to add. From the opener ‘Feel Invincible’, through the commercial sounding ‘Stars’ to the massive ‘I Want To Live’ (one of my faves from this cd) and the power ballad ‘Lions’, this album is a very strong effort indeed, chock full of potential hit singles from start to finish. Featuring main vocal contributions from John Cooper and ably backed up by the band’s drummer Jen Ledger, this is a near faultless offering of Alternative/Modern Hard Rock and I would whole heartedly recommend this record to all and sundry... 9/10 (Dave)

EVERGREY…’THE STORM WITHIN’

(AFM Records) Reviewed 8th August 2016

Summing up the Swedish quintet EVERGREY's new album ‘The Storm Within’ quick and to the point, the band is celebrating their 20th Anniversary with the strongest album of their career. The band's trademark progressive, dark and melancholic elements are as strong as ever, the album ranks as one of the most progressive record they've created in terms of performance, but the band has managed to put it in a package that is more accessible and direct compared to any of their nine previous outings. And indeed, the addition of Nightwish vocalist Floor Jansen on the track 'In Orbit' is the icing on an already filling cake and if that is not all, frontman/founder Tom S.Englund's wife Carina features on the number 'The Paradox Of The Flame'. Overall, the album to be honest is awesome, the tracks are accessible with thundering riffs and catchy choruses. Lyrically Tom considers the storyline to be one of the biggest concepts Evergrey has ever tackled, based on something that everyone can relate to; having someone, losing them, and having to pick yourself up and move on thereafter. This is an album well worth checking out when it appears in the shops from Sept 9th. Every track a sure fire winner making the album a worthy purchase! Melodic Metal at its best!!... 9/10 (The Nugget)

HEAVENWOOD…’THE TAROT OF THE BOHEMIANS-Part 1’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 5th August 2016

Formed in 1992 under the name Disgorged, HEAVENWOOD quickly established themselves as one of the most important Portuguese metal bands, alongside Moonspell. This is their 5th album (not including the re-release of Redemption). The band is fronted by the twin vocal attack of Ernesto Guerra and Ricardo Dias, and they offer up a mix of hard rock, gothic and doom metal, together with choral and orchestral interludes, all to great effect. This well showcased in the intro to the opening bombastic cut ‘The Juggler’. The album itself offers clean singing, grunts and growls, and this all works very well. There is a female vocalist too, Sandra Oliveira (from the band BLAME ZEUS), she takes the reign on the awesome track ‘The Hangman’, as well as backing vocals on ‘The High Priestess’ and the catchy ‘The Lovers’. Although I must admit to not having heard much of Heavenwood’s music in the past, this album I must say is rather good, indeed being the band's most ambitious work to date. It is inspired and dedicated to the French occultist Papus (Gérard Analect Vincent Encausse) and his studies regarding the Tarot. I would go as far as to say there is not a filler to be found on this album, while the closing track on the album is a re-recording of the song "Frithiof's Saga", originally taken from the debut album "Diva", which was released 20 years ago, thus celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016. Ricardo Dias composed and recorded the music and the orchestral parts of the album at the Raising Legends Studio, where producer André Matos (who recorded the bass session for this new album), also recorded the vocals of Ernesto Guerra as well as the lead guitars of Vítor Carvalho. This is a well recommended piece of musical genius and I am highly impressed, but one needs to listen to the album in full to get a picture in your mind of the story… 9/10 (Dave)

NARNIA...S/T

(Narnia Songs) Reviewed July 31st 2016

Christian Metal Band Narnia was formed in 1996 in Jönköping, Sweden by Christian Liljegren [vocals] and CJ Grimmark [guitars]. Between 1997 and 2009 they released six studio albums, one live album/DVD [recorded in Germany] and one “best of” album through the respected German labels Nuclear Blast and Massacre Records. They have sold over 100,000 albums and have received praise from leading magazines as Rock Hard, Burrn!, Sweden Rock Magazine and many others. A decision was made however, to put the band to rest in 2010, but it is now 2016. And on this their new self-titled album, Narnia has been well and truly kick started as they re-visit their melodic roots, but with an updated sound. If you like your metal truly melodic, then there are some corkers here and they will be right up your alleyway. This full length 9 track album will be released worldwide on CD, vinyl and on digital formats on September 16th, 2016. And the plan for Narnia is to reach as many countries as possible during the coming years. The Lion sure is roaring again – well recommended… 8.75/10 (Dave)

LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE...'HOPE IS HERE'

(Oblivion/SPV) Reviewed 27th July 2016

So, what do you do when you’ve already toured 29 countries, sold more than 100,000 records and played not just Berlin and Moscow, but also have Tokyo and Beijing under your belt? That’s right, you carry right on with a single goal: to keep on getting better, rather than resting on your laurels. No wonder German band Lacrimas Profundere (founded in 1993) count among the hardest touring bands of the genre, standing more than ever before for sweat-inducing and emotionally charged, unique rock shows. By all accounts this is the 11th full length release, their first '...And the Wings Embraced Us' appearing in 1995. It’s now 2016 and major changes are on the cards. With their new partner SPV behind them, the band’s first concept album is about to be released. “We’ve never done a concept before and it was quite a challenge, but once vocalist Rob started writing the story and got totally buried in it, there was simply no going back,” explains guitarist Oliver Nikolas. “When you’ve got a concept you have to arrange it like a film, you have to follow certain moods and really think about where to put the faster, harder pieces and where the slower and sadder moments best fit in,” continues the band’s founder. Indeed: with 'Hope Is Here' the guys drag you out of your comfortable world, deep into a forest – to a boy named Aramis drifting through the dark trees, alone, forsaken, outcast, because he’s not like other people. Alienated at home for years. The dangers, the emotions, the sudden twists. Feel his freedom. Taste his dirt in the deep dark woods that our parents warned us from in all those good night stories. That’s a summary of the concept – but there’s plenty more to come..just listen to the album. The songs are melodic mixing Gothic with the more metallic side of the band, the songs carrying emotion within the lyrics as well. Released on 12th August, I would truly recommend this album.... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

DARE...'SACRED GROUND'

(Legend Records) Reviewed 17th July 2016

Manchester band Dare fronted by ex Thin Lizzy keys player Darren Wharton is one of my fave bands and after a tsunami of releases, they continue to produce the goods. The band released their debut 'Out Of The Silence' on A&M Records (remember them?) in 1988 which was an AOR masterpiece, and that was followed by another masterpiece, 'Blood From Stone' that saw the light of day in 1991, that being a more hard rockin' affair. Anyway, thereafter despite the appearance of Grunge, further releases from Dare were damn good but followed a more softer AOR/Celtic Rock approach. However, now in 2016, we have the album their 7th proper release 'SACRED GROUND'. And if you look at the album artwork, you will see the number '7' discreetly positioned on the front cover. Vinny Burns on guitar is back in the studio with the band, his first studio appearance since the 'Blood From Stone' days, although he has been back as a'live' member since 2010. Nothing to fault here, this album is the biz offering classy AOR/Melodic Rock from a band that continues to deliver. I would go as far as to say that this is one of their best, certainly since their first two albums. But do not get me wrong, everything they have done has been good! And just a footnote, anybody that has seen Dr. Brian Cox on TV here in the UK, he used to be in the early incarnation of Dare - now you know if you didn't already :) Album recommended.. 9/10 (Dave)

CRYSTAL BALL…’DEJA-VOODOO’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 15th July 2016

Hardly a year after the release of their highly successful album 'LifeRider', CRYSTAL BALL who have been around in one form or another since 1995, present this their 9th record 'Déjà-Voodoo'. And what a corker these Swiss Metalheads have produced here. I have the digipak bonus version offering up 13 totally bombastic and hideously melodic tracks for the listener to enjoy. The wonderful gravelly vocals of a certain German gentleman named Steven Mageney together with the rest of the band, drive the music along at an uplifting pace, and I challenge anyone listening to this album to keep still! It is impossible! Just listen to the opening title track 'Déjà-Voodoo', the bombastic 'Suspended', the melodic and bouncy 'Never A Guarantee', the tuneful and powerful ‘Time and Tide’ and the mid paced melodic thumper 'Fool's Parade'. And they can slow it down with power ballads like ‘Home Again’ and 'To Be With You Once More' – awesome!! If you like Gotthard, Shakra and the like (got the idea?), you will most certainly like this record – dynamic and consistent stuff! It hits the stores on September 2nd - well recommended by these ears and not a filler to be found among the 13 cuts!.. 9.5/10 (Dave)

GREAT MASTER…’LION & QUEEN’

(Underground Symphony) Reviewed 24th June 2016

Great Master’s album 'Lion & Queen’ is their third release. The band fronted by Max Bastasi has produced here a 12 track Melodic Power Metal epic that also features guests such as Mularoni (DGM) and Yackson (Shadows of Steel) on guitars, Andreas Wimmer (Final Chapter) and Alessandro Battini (Dark Horizon) on orchestral parts and piano and SY (Armonight) on vocals (somewhere). This is a very well crafted release with epic hooks that will put fans of Power Metal into seventh heaven. I am sure my ears are not deceiving me when I hear very subtle folk elements in the track ‘Prayer In The Wind’, a sure fire winner of a track with a great chorus to boot - awesome. Other stand out cuts include the pounding ‘Stargate’, the epic 10 minute ‘Mystic River’, the bouncy and melodic ‘Time After Time’ , the pen ultimate track ‘Walking On The Rainbow’ and the awesome closing number which so happens to be the title track. This new album has been published in a Limited Edition Boxset/Digipack/Jewel box/Digital Download. The boxset will be a limited edition of 200 copies handily numbered, unmissable for fans. The album was released on June 15th, so it should be readily available. Produced and mastered by Simone Mularoni at Domination Sounds Studio, this band continues to show great potential with this album release… 8.5/10 (Dave)

SYNTHETIC...'HERE LIES THE TRUTH'

(Self Released) Reviewed 21st June 2016

Synthetic is the brainchild of two childhood friends whose creative spirit and passion for heavy metal music never went into hibernation, despite the long term hiatus of their previous band (Dimensional Traces). In 2014, old time buddies and band mates, Simon (guitars) and Sterge B (vocals), felt the urge to be creative again, just to have a bit of fun and a break from life’s realities. Dispersed in the two opposite ends of Europe, Simon based in Thessaloniki, Greece had just written a piano-laden intro for a potential new track which he enthusiastically shared via email with Sterge B who was situated in Cambridge, UK. Synthetic was initially aimed to be a studio band and during the album making process worked closely with friend and accomplished musician Thanasis Lightbridge (Dol Ammad, Dol Theta, Dol Kruug), who recorded all the drum parts (except on track Hollow) and keyboard parts as well as several unique electronic effects. One of the most remarkable milestones during the making of this LP was the involvement of the mighty Dirk Verbeuren of Soilwork on the album’s pounding radio friendly track ‘Hollow’. It was then only towards the end phases of the mixing process when Simon and Sterge B actually realised the potential of the tracks and decided to form a full band in Cambridge, with the view to make Synthetic a live act and an active member of the global metal community. In November 2015, the recruitment process was kicked off and in December 2015, multi-instrumentalist, heavy metal ‘geek’ and Cambridge native Hallam Smith joined the band to shred on guitar alongside Simon. A day later, the Chicago born and old-school metal ‘junky’ Chris Cassidy joined on bass guitar whilst also generously offering his well-sharpened vocal chords to support Sterge B’s harmonies on stage. For the record, that piano-laden intro that Simon wrote back in 2014 and sparked the beginning of Synthetic’s journey, is now known as ‘Forgiveness'. And onto the music iself, this is 11 tracks of well honed melodic metal to wrap your ear drums around. Standout cuts a plenty with the obligatory power ballad or two, and there is no reason why this band cannot move forward in what at times can be a tricky music scene. The band's facebook is here... 8.25/10 (The Nugget)

SHADOW HUNTERS...'AVATAR'

(Renegade Records) Reviewed 15th June 2016

Shadow Hunters from Norway merge prog-styles and goth rock instrumentation within the 10 tracks on this album. The songs are powerful and anthemic coupled with fast-paced guitars - a sound which led to their last two songs premiering exclusively on Kerrang! The album’s soaring, symphonic sound brings to mind the elevating feel of bands like 30 Seconds To Mars, but with a driving, metal-infused twist. This album is good, runs in at around the half hour mark, but is basically an all killer no filler record. And their lead single ‘Fire Will Be Free’, recently entered the US rock charts. The lyric video to that can be viewed here. Scandinavian bands by and large always seem to be able to deliver the goods, and this band is no exception... 8.5/10 (Dave)

TANZWUT...’SCHRIEB ES MIT BLUT’

(AFM) Reviewed 15th June 2016

17 years after the release of their debut album, Tanzwut will put out this release, their 10th studio album on July 8th in Europe and August 19th in the US. This is German medieval rock/metal at its very best – catchy melodies, bagpipes, hard guitar riffs and of course the German lyrics within the 14 tracks. And we even have a bonus track on the digipak version that features Liv Kristine, more on that further down this review. This album is basically a feast of catchy rock and metal from beginning to end, with those aforementioned medieval influences well and truly to the fore, and I just love the bagpipes! The digipak has 15 tracks, the final number on that version featuring Liv Kristine, this being another version of the track ‘Stille Wasser’, that features in its original version earlier on the CD (track 7). If you like this style of music and I certainly do, with the pipes to my ears being the icing on the cake, then buy this album when it gets released. Well recommended… 9.25/10 (Dave)

FIRST SIGNAL...'ONE STEP OVER THE LINE'

(Frontiers) Reviewed 6th June 2016

In 2010, a marriage made in Melodic Rock heaven between Canadian singer Harry Hess and producer Dennis Ward was conceived, and it was called First Signal. The concept developed when Frontiers’ President Serafino Perugino presented Harry some Melodic Rock songs that harkened back to the magic of the early Harem Scarem sound (of which Harry Hess was lead singer). The First Signal project was met with excellent reviews and media interest, and even when Harem Scarem re-launched with their album 'Thirteen' (one of their strongest to date), Harry was still wanting to go back and sing some excellent songs that he had from various songwriters, under the First Signal moniker. I myself am a fan of Harem Scarem and hence I like anything Harry Hess gets involved with so here in 2016, we have a new First Signal album, their second (thanks Rachel). As to be expected, it is an album that is a strong Melodic release, eleven tracks of Melodic Rock heaven in-fact. I won't go into detail, but if you are a lover of good old inoffensive Melodic Rock/AOR, then get this album! Recommended! 9/10 (Dave)

SIXX:AM...'PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED, VOL 1'

(Eleven Seven Music) Reviewed 3rd June 2016

Nikki Sixx is an American musician, songwriter, radio host, and photographer, best known as the co-founder, bassist, and primary songwriter of the band Mötley Crüe. Nikki Sixx formed the group Sixx:A.M. in 2006, initially to record an audio accompaniment to his autobiography 'The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star'. Anyway, we fast forward to 2016 and the 29th April saw the release of this album and damned good it is too. There are eleven pounding melodic numbers, all this apparent from opening cut 'Rise' to closing number, the six minute plus epic 'Rise Of The Melancholy Empire'. Indeed SIX:AM actually have a knack of writing and recording infectious anthemic tunes, and this album is of no exception, with the vocals of James Michael totally befitting of the music the band throws at the listener. This is in-fact the first half of a double album, with the second half expected later this year. On this showing, I cannot wait! This is a great rock album, 11 melodic and infectious tracks, every one a potential hit single and very powerful lyrics to boot... 9/10 (Dave)

JORN...'HEAVY ROCK RADIO'

(Frontiers) Reviewed 3rd June 2016

Tell you what guys and gals, if you want to hear some covers that have been awesomely given the JORN LANDE hard rock treatment, then this will be for you. I appreciate that one is either a covers person or not but I fall into the former. What does one get for their money? Well firstly Jorn is a Norwegian hard rock and heavy metal singer. He is known for being the former vocalist of bands Ark, Beyond Twilight, Millenium, Vagabond, The Snakes, and most notably of power metal band Masterplan, as well as for his solo career as Jorn. He has released a stack full of albums in one guise or another, and this album is his latest offering. Basically, what you do get for your money is 12 tracks of hard rock covers from artists that include Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Kate Bush, Queen, John Farnham, Journey, The Eagles and Foreigner. Damn awesome and well worth a buy - available from today... 9/10 (Dave)

LAMORI...'TO DIE ONCE AGAIN'

(WormHoleDeath) Reviewed 24th May 2016

LAMORI is all about Passionate Hard Rock. A mix of hard n’ heavy with mellow sweet melancholy from the deep reservoirs of darkness. Twelve numbers here, catchy melodic Gothic Rock and Metal to capture the listener in a web of old romanticism. Need I say anymore, a brief review, but no matter how brief this review is, I would say get this album, especially if you like HIM, The 69 Eyes and the like. Well recommended from the peeps at Ravenheart Music and that includes myself… 8.75/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)

VEGA…’WHO WE ARE’

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 20th May 2016

UK Band VEGA was formed following a meeting between fairly local lad Nick Workman, Dan Chantrey and twins James and Tom Martin at the Z Rock Festival at JBs in Dudley, May 29/30th 2009. The Martin brothers had been in a number of bands and had written songs for a selection of artists and bands including Kyhmera, Danny Vaughn, Joe Lynn Turner, House of Lords, Ted Poley and Tommy Funderburk, many of these for the Frontiers label. They had discussed forming a band with Frontiers management, proposing Nick Workman as lead vocalist. Following the meeting at Z Rock Festival, songs were penned for a debut album (with no one song taking longer than 24 hrs to write), these recorded between the summer and November 2009. Debut album 'Kiss Of Life' was released by Frontiers Records on 6 December 2010, and to be perfectly frank, the band has never looked back. After a brief relationship with Spinefarm Records (2nd album ‘What The Hell‘), Frontiers now releases ‘Who We Are’, the band’s 4th record, this being an awesome collection of Melodic Rock tunes. Everything here is brill, we have catchy tunes, great choruses, cool vocals, more hooks than my Granddad’s fishing tackle box, what more can the avid Melodic Rock/AOR fan want? Vega wear their love of 80's rock music on their sleeve, but they have also injected their love of modern rock music into it. This is well recommended, easily obtainable via your local indie record store or Amazon etc…. 9/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)

SLEEP OF MONSTERS…’II: POISON GARDEN’

(Svart Records) Reviewed 17th May 2016

Recorded at an old hilltop villa in Álora, Spain, Sleep of Monsters II: Poison Garden sees this unique Finnish band venture into even richer, more dramatic and hauntingly beautiful soundscapes, complete with strings and horns…and hooves. The band released their debut album, 'Produces Reason', in Finland in November 2013, entering the national Top 50. In November 2014 Svart Records licensed the album for the international underground. Sleep of Monsters marks the return of vocalist and lyricist Ike Vil, the morose mastermind behind the lauded death rockers and occult rock pioneers Babylon Whores. Vil teamed up with guitarist and main songwriter Sami Hassinen, formerly the guitarist of Blake; drummer Pätkä Rantala, who played on HIM’s million-selling debut; and keyboardist Janne Immonen, who has toured extensively with Waltari and Ajattara. The sound of Sleep of Monsters is completed by the trippy guitar of Uula Korhonen and the thumping bass of Mäihä, who also handles backing vocals, and last but not least, the witchy voices of their own "Furies": Hanna Wendelin, Nelli Saarikoski, and Tarja Leskinen. And as is everything that seems to come out of Finland, this 10 track album ticks all the right boxes – in this case, think of Lee Hazlewood getting drunk with the Abba girls in a metal bar, slurring some of the most spine-chilling (mostly) true tales of human tragedy and the occult ever heard in rock 'n' roll, and you’ll arrive at the moss-covered gates of the Poison Garden. It is certainly not Nightwish, but it is great catchy rock music, and just a little different to what we may listen too here. Fave tracks a plenty but ‘Beyond The Fields We Know’, ‘As It Is So Be It’ and the catchy ‘Our Dark Mother’ are three such favourites, and at the start of the track ‘Golden Bough’ I thought the now 74 year old Hank Marvin was in the band LOL! This highly anticipated second album by the band is set for international release on June 3rd, awesome stuff and well worth checking out as a consequence… 8.75/10 (Dave)

GROOVENOM…’PINK LION’

(Noizgate Records) Reviewed 3rd May 2016

Founded in 2014, German band (From Dresden) GROOVENOM is pursuing a clear vision in terms of music: Stylish, rhythmic, heavy and most of all danceable - this band manages the balancing act between deathcore and pop music, easily combining solid metal elements with driving techno beats, trendy sing-alongs and groovy rap parts. This is well showcased within opener 'Venom In Veins', and there sure is venom in this band's veins I can tell ya! The deathcore and electro elements continue in second track 'Traitors To The Scene' which pounds along like an out of control rhino on the loose in a safari park in Africa - awesome stuff. The heavy listening experience continues with pounding numbers such as ‘Bright Nights’, the melodic ‘Metal King’, the rap tastic, electro infused ‘Crumbling Façade’ and the metallic title track (one of my faves). Then let's not forget the awesome power ballad 'Walking On Shards' together with the cool instrumental 'Apartment 69' and Candlelight remix of 'Traitors To The Scene' (one of the bonus cuts), all of which provide an oasis of calm within what basically is a tsunami of musical aggression. To be honest, I did find this cd a little heavy going at times, but solid down tuning-riffs, rough breakdowns, forceful growls, virtuosic drumming and influences from various manifestations of modern pop culture, do characterise the sound of the twelve track album plus its four bonus cuts, and as a consequence, if you feel that this is going to be up your alleyway, then do check it out - a grower!…. 7.75/10 (Dave)

GRAND SLAM...'A NEW DAWN'

(AOR Heaven) Reviewed 22nd April 2016

Grand Slam (www.grandslamsweden.com) was founded in 2007 in Malmö, Sweden, by drummer Andy Swaniz (ex-Quadruple), with the aim to appeal to a wide audience with their melodic rock style. In the summer of 2012, Grand Slam found the perfect lead singer and frontman to suit their style of music, Andy Sinner (ex-Trash Queen). With the addition of two female backing singers, Ivana Papak and Lina Vernblom, Grand Slam was now ready to go out and perform for a live audience. In 2014, the band then entered the studio and as a result, this is Grand Slam's debut full length offering. There are 10 tracks of prime time fist pumping melodic rock (check out 'Get High'), absolutely wonderful stuff from this Swedish band. This is a near faultless album and well worth looking into if you feel that this is for you, and it should be easy to get from all suitable record stores.... 9.5/10 (The Nugget)

VOLYMIAN…’MAZE OF MADNESS’

(Maple Metal Records) Reviewed 19th April 2016

Finnish modern metallers VOLYMIAN was founded in 2008, and the band went through various member changes before settling down with the sextet that has recorded this their debut album (released 15th April). Most recently, vocalist Markku Kuikka (Status Minor, The Ragged Saints, Kenziner) joined the band in 2015 for the new album. Previously the band had recorded 3 EPs with a different vocalist. This new opus is a very commercial release, with many if not all of the songs on the album instantly accessible and offering up hit potential as a consequence. And being a sucker for the odd power ballad, the track ‘Empty Room’, is from the top drawer of power ballads, one of my tracks of the year so far! 'Maze of Madness' was recorded at Artlab Studio, Helsinki, and produced by the band themselves. The album was mastered by Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Primal Fear, Epica, Amaranthe) in Denmark and is well recommended ... 9.25/10 (Dave)

SHIVERED…’BEREAVED AND GONE INSANE' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 18th April 2016

To be released on 25th May, this is an interesting release from Iranian band SHIVERED. The band is centred around Mohammad Maki, who is the singer, songwriter, guitarist and the founder member. This EP I would put into the Gothic/Alternative Metal category with subtle flirtations with Doom! There are seven tracks and they are all rather good up tempo guitar orientated Gothic Metal. No real stand out cuts as such, but having said that, they are all very consistent and the numbers did maintain my interest throughout the 25 minutes or so. Iran may not be a country one associates with decent Gothic Metal, but this is well worth checking out when it gets released. Shivered’s facebook is here - please support decent independent metal music!… 8/10 (Dave)

JADED HEART...'GUILTY BY DESIGN'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 10th April 2016

Jaded Heart was founded in 1992 as a five-man German hard rock band, members however at this moment in time hailing from Stockholm and Duisburg Germany. The band currently consists of Johan Fahlberg (vocals), Michael Müller (bass), Peter Östros (guitar), Bodo Stricker (drums) and Masahiro Eto (guitar). With a consistent output since their formation, 14 albums including this release, a compilation in 2001 and a live release in 2013, this their latest continues with some awesome tracks. These include their new live hymn 'No Reason', the up-tempo head-bangers 'Godforsaken' and 'Torn And Scarred', the catchy and memorable 'Remembering', the band’s heaviest song to date 'Salvation', the epic 'This Is The End', and the driving number 'So Help Me God', among many others. The digipak has two bonus cuts which are included on the release the label has sent me. I have seen this band develop over the years into the force they are now, and to their credit, this is a massive melodic metal masterpiece. This is right up my alleyway and demands your attention when released 22nd April, it meanwhile will certainly captivate lovers of this genre of music, and maybe others too... 9/10 (Dave)

DAVE SHADOW...'ME MYSELF AND I'

(JL Records) Reviewed 12th March 2016

This is the first solo album from Dave Shadow, the singer of My Sixth Shadow, This Void Inside and Black Deep White. Written and Produced by the man himself, this album consists of eleven numbers of consistently and rather catchy melodic rock with a poppy element, a kinda cross between a lighter HIM and a certain Bon Jovi. Rather impressive stuff I must admit if you do not mind your music at the less heavy end of the musical spectrum. I do feel inclined to recommend this as it is rather good… 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

CHARM DESIGNER…’EVERLASTING’

(Inverse Records) Reviewed 7th March 2016

Charm Designer is a Colombian Doom/Gothic Metal band with a Samael, Tiamat, Rotting Christ and Moonspell vibe going on (think of all those bands at their softest/most Goth influenced/experimental eras). The whole album is a palindrome between soft but heavy soundscapes that contrast with some harsher passages, coupled with raspy harsh vocals giving way to some smooth Pop/Gothy vocal tones, in a combination that seems to work rather nicely thank you. This is a rather good album to be perfectly frank offering plenty of atmosphere among all the heaviness. We even have an unknown female vocalist on the melodic but equally as heavy 'Never After' and needless to say, this is one of my fave tracks, but there are others that include the mega heavy but amazingly tuneful 'The Replicant', the awesome and epic tracks ‘Inertial Drain’ and ‘By The Unmasked’. Then we have the rather good melodic and pounding closer ’Policy of Truth’ featuring the backing vocals of that unknown lady again. This is a surprisingly good album from a band that comes from a country more known for its drugs culture than for its Metal music. The more I listen to this cd the better it seems to get, being damn good and well worth checking out! Take a look at the lyric video to the opening title track here….8.75/10 (Dave)

MAGNUM…’SACRED BLOOD, DIVINE LIES’

(Steamhammer) Reviewed 26th February 2016

The legendary rock veterans Magnum! What can I say? A band that has been going for years and years, and like a good wine, they seem to get better with age. One of the first bands that I properly ever got into and have stuck with ever since, their first album (‘Kingdom of Madness’ on Jet Records) was released in 1978, and here we are in 2016 and 19 studio albums on including this one (there are live albums too), they are still going strong. Led by Bob Catley who I had the pleasure once not too long ago, of chatting with on a train on my way to work, this is yet another awesome piece of work from this Birmingham (UK) band. Of the 19 studio albums, there have been one or two that perhaps and let’s be honest here could have been a little better, but by and large, everything this band releases into the market place is so damn good. This album offers up the classic Magnum mix of prime time rockers and ballads, and needless to say it keeps the band well and truly in the Premier League with their unique sound. No Aston Villa shenanigans here LOL – Aston Villa by the way for those that may not know is a top English soccer club based in Birmingham, that are currently bottom of our Premier League here in England and at the time of writing, look set to be relegated. Anyway, I digress, every cut on this album is awesome, I am loathe to point out any highlights, but the atmospheric and rather bouncy ‘Gypsy Queen’ coupled with the excellent emotionally sung ballad ‘Your Dreams Won’t Die’ are just two cuts from a tsunami of fantastic tunes. Tony Clarkin who is the songwriter and also the guitarist is on top form as is their chief striker Bob Catley, and long may it continue. This album is the biz!!… 10/10 (Dave)

RAGE OF ANGELS…’THE DEVIL’S NEW TRICKS’

(Escape Music) Reviewed 25th February 2016

This is the second album from Rage Of Angels. Produced By Ged Rylands and mixed by Martin Kronlund, this is another total stunner from the band, featuring musicians from the likes of TEN, TYKETTO, SAGA and COLSPELL. Fronted by the vocals of Rob Moratti (Saga), this album is a feast of Melodic Hard Rock from the epic 7+ minute opener R.O.A, through to closing number ‘Long Days Without You’. Highlights a plenty in between, but for starters, lets try the title track and follow that up with numbers like ‘One Step Closer’ with its sing along chorus, the mid paced TEN sounding ‘Love Will Never Die’, the melodic ‘I Feel It In My Heart‘ and the pen-ultimate tune 'Long Days Without You'. For lovers of Melodic Hard Rock most certainly, this is a must buy, no question - available from 26th Feb.. 9/10 (The Nugget)

SAHONA…S/T

(Self Released) Released 22nd February 2016

Sahona was created in the south of France, by guitar player and singer Charly Sahona (the boss man of female fronted melodic progressive metal band VENTURIA) who was about to release a solo album. The first member he asked to join him was his friend, drummer Stéphane Cavanez. Both musicians have collaborated on diverse creative projects and have been bandmates in a cover band for a long time. Guitar player Fabien Paraillac, who already produced some songs for the duo, joined them and later, bass player Cédric Artaxet, rounded out the team. SAHONA’s melodic rock music is characterized by its blend of metal, progressive and electro, where two guitar virtuosos are exchanging awesome solos and uniting on heavy riffs over a very efficient bass and drums section. And needless to say, once we get down to talking about the music on this record, we are talking about some impressively serious upbeat and highly melodic stuff, with some awesome musicianship thrown into the mix. Every track here is a highlight, dealing with lyrics about introspective themes, such as spirituality, psychology, frustrations and turbulences of love. The music is complex and melodic with catchy choruses, and we must state that this is well recommended. I would also go as far as to say, that this could well be one of the best releases from this genre this year. Released today 22nd Feb, this is a pleasant surprise!!… 9/10 (Dave)

DREAM OF ILLUSION...'EVOLUTION'

(Self Release) Reviewed 20th February 2016

The Dream Of Illusion project started in 2003 with a very young line-up. They grew up with covers of the most famous hard-rock bands. The first line-up had a female voice, but she left the band in 2007. In June 2007 Francesco Valentini, the new singer joined the band giving them a new found stability. In 2010 they released their very first album 'Decadence', distributed worldwide via SG Records. Since 2012 the band has worked on the writing and recording of this their second full-length which was released on 15 January 2016. A self financed project, this record it has to be stated is rather good. The band's music to my young tender ears falls into the Melodic Metal category, with some progressive elements creeping into the mix from time to time. The vocals from Francesco are clean and powerful, backed up by a competent band of musicians to complete what is a fine collection of tunes. This is a consistent release from the opening duo of 'Intro/Regrets' to the closing number 'Gatherin' Shapes'. For anybody that likes good old inoffensive Melodic Metal that would not even offend your Grandad, then check this one out. Their Facebook is at www.facebook.com/dreamofillusionband/... 9/10 (The Nugget)

METATRONE...'EUCHARISMETAL'

(Rockshots) Reviewed 9th February 2016

METATRONE ("metaphysical throne of God") are one of the greatest exponents of Christian Metal Music. Combining a strong metal attitude with lyrics inspired by their faith and Catholic tradition, they have released 3 full length albums ('La Mano Potente' in 2005 soon followed by the English version called 'The Powerful Hand' and 'Paradigma' in 2010). Thanks to these 3 efforts the band formed by Father Davide Bruno (Keyboards, a priest of the Archdiocese of Catania - Italy), Stefano Calvagno (Guitar) and Jo Lombardo (Vocals), gained a strong reputation in the Christian Metal/Rock Scene. Their mission has always been to play heavy metal songs deeply inspired by a Christian Catholic view of life and the human being, with lyrics in English, Italian and Latin. The album features two new band members, Dino Fiorenza on bass (Billy Sheehan, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert) and Salvo Grasso on drums (Hypersonic, DenieD). This their latest album is a step forward in their musical career: Double bass-drumming, stunning vocal hooks, heavy guitar riffing, Father Davide Bruno’s stunning growls, all this giving the songs more power and strength to the message the band portrays. Lyrically 'EUCHARISMETAL' deals with child abuse ('Alef Dalet Mem'), religious and Christian fanatism ('Molokai'), parable of the prodigal son ('Latest News From Light') and Catholic Prayer on 'Regina Coeli'. This album I am sure will conquer all the fans of so-called White Metal, Christian Metal or EUCHARISMETAL. And I will say that this is good, musically and lyrically, with tons of heavy guitar riffs blended with great melodies sung by the awesome vocals of Joe (Lombardo). Metatrone are back and rocking, even flirting with Melodic Rock/AOR on the track ‘Keep Running’ !! Check these guys out – released 11th March and well recommended… 9/10 (Dave)

RED ELEVEN…’COLLECT YOUR SCARS’

(Lifeforce Records) Reviewed 29th January 2016

Let there be R-O-C-K! When the Finns got together in 2009 this was everything they were thinking of. Since then, RED ELEVEN quickly developed a vital and accessible style of their own, while following their deep-rooted preference for sanguine alternative sounds, full of catchy choruses and compelling hooklines. Sure, listening to this album you will be most likely reminded of FAITH NO MORE – but this is mostly due to the timbre of Tony Kaikkonen’s voice. And who wouldn’t like to be compared to that great rock act?! Eleven tracks here of compelling modern anthemic hard rock to blow away the winter blues. This is damn good stuff, heavy, tuneful and you can play it nice and loud, well why not? But the band do have a tender side, check out the pen ultimate acoustic based ‘Too Much To Ask’. And let us not forget to mention the epic 6 minute plus ‘And So I Took His Life’, what a corker! With 'Collect Your Scars', the quintet fulfils its heartfelt wish to play epic R-O-C-K hymns with self-assurance and a courageous approach. Released March 18th and well worth checking out – well they are from the land of Rock & Metal - Finland!...9/10 (Dave)

INNERWISH...'INNERWISH'

(Ulterium Records) Reviewed 21st January 2016

InnerWish hail from Greece and this is their 5th full length album having released their first, 'Waiting For The Dawn' in 1998. This six piece base their lyrical themes on Christianity, and this album released six years after their previous LP, offers 13 songs and 67 minutes of prime time Melodic Metal, with the powerhouse vocals of George Eikosipentakis the driving force behind the music. A nice variety of music in-fact being full of energy, power and emotion. The album was mixed at Studio Fredman [In Flames, Dimmu Borgir, Hammerfall] and mastered by Peter In De Betou [Arch Enemy, Opeth, Amon Amarth]. Cover artwork by Felipe Machado Franco [Blind Guardian, Rhapsody of Fire, Xandria] and design by Jan Yrlund [Delain, Apocalyptica, Korpiklaani]. A flippin' good release if you like your metal powerful but tuneful - release date March 18th... 9/10 (The Nugget)

THORNBRIDGE…’WHAT WILL PREVAIL’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 18th January 2016

Jörg "Mo" Naneder and Patrick "Pat" Rogalski formed the German band Thornbridge in 2008, and completed the line-up with the addition of Maximilian "Lucky" Glück and Patrick "Burghi" Burghard in 2012. They developed a first live set, which was presented while playing shows with bands like Orden Ogan, Sinbreed and MessengeR. This live set was also the foundation of this their debut album, and with the might of Massacre Records behind them, they want to take on the world. And with this bombastic release, that possibility looks increasingly likely. Armed with fast and epic songs, THORNBRIDGE stride through the magic world of the Dark Ages. We have hymn-like choirs and polyphonic guitar melodies captivating the listener, bringing Power Metal of the "good old days" back on stage. And in keeping with what we by and large like here, there is a glorious helping of melody within the music the band throws at the listener. This record is certainly one for the metalheads out in metal land, with epic tunes like ’Blow Up The Gates Of Hell’, ’Coachman’s Curse’, ‘Neverwinter Nights’ and the ultra catchy ‘Tower Of Lies‘. The album will hit the stores on Feb 19th and is well worth checking out…. 8.75/10 (Dave)

DARK MOOR…’PROJECT X’

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 16th January 2016

Dark Moor is a Spanish Neo-Classical Metal and Symphonic Power Metal band from Madrid. Formed in 1993, they produced three full-length albums before undergoing a line-up change in which three members left the band to form their own project, Dreamaker. Afterwards, the band continued under the same name, recruiting suitable replacements in time for their eponymous 2003 album. Since 2002, guitarist Enrik Garcia has been the band's sole remaining founding member, this being the band's tenth full length release. And what 'Project X' tends to do is ditch the Power Metal for a more modern Melodic Progressive Rock sound. Indeed, the word 'ditch' is quite appropriate as that is where the Power Metal sound has been left. A concept album about space and aliens, Queen influences spring to mind in-fact - just listen to the melodic 'Beyond The Stars' as just one example. Then there are ballads, ‘I Want To Believe’ with gospel choral influences, being a totally awesome tune. Everything on this album is good, it is extremely melodic, has catchy choruses, and I would even go as far as to say that it even flirts with AOR territory on the odd occasion. ’Imperial Earth’ however, does up the ante, one of the heaviest more bombastic numbers on the cd, possibly the one track that exhibits Power Metal traits, while closing track ‘Something In The Skies’ is a 7 minute plus epic. Dark Moor fans of old may not be too sure, but this is worth checking out… 9/10 (Dave)

OZONE...'SELF DEFENCE'

(Escape Music) Reviewed 15th January 2016

Chris Ousey has had an excellent singing career that goes way back to the times of 'Monroe', 'Virginia Wolf', the fantastic 'Heartland' an outstanding solo recording and more recently 'Snakecharmer'. Steve Overland is a legend in his own lifetime. Is there anyone out there who is not familiar with his name? His first major recording was with the band 'Wildlife' in 1980. After the demise of 'Wildlife' Steve went on to form the cult British melodic rock band 'FM', a band that released many great albums throughout the eighties and nineties and right up to 2015. Steve has also fronted many great bands in recent years, such as 'The Ladder', 'Shadowman' and of course he has recorded three fine solo albums. And with a little help from their friends including Mike Slamer (City Boy, Streets, and Seventh Key) doing just about everything else (well almost), the two O's have produced one helluva Melodic Rock album, but with their pedigree, that should not be of any surprise. If 80s sounding Melodic Rock that has been dragged into the 21st century by the short and curlies tickles your fancy or whatever, then check this one out. Released late last year and readily available at all the usual outlets...8.75/10 (The Nugget)

ELEVENTH HOUR…’MEMORY OF A LIFETIME JOURNEY’

(Bakerteam Records) Reviewed 13th January 2016

Eleventh Hour was born in 2014 out of guitarist Aldo Turini's need to express some musical ideas that have been kept in a drawer for years. Aldo arranged all the songs and wrote the orchestral parts with Giuseppe Carella, whose background was so distant from Symphonic Metal that the final result was very peculiar and musically challenging. In November 2014 the band's line-up had finally been confirmed and included Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Revolution Saints, Edge Of Forever) on vocals, who also co-wrote most of the songs with Aldo and Giuseppe, Luca Mazzucconi (N.F.D, Lahannya) on drums, GianMaria "Black Jin" Godani on bass and Alberto Sonzogni (The Black Phoenix, Timesword) on keyboards. Vocals also include soprano Susanna Carboni on the tracks, the rather nice and well orchestrated 'Sleeping In My Dreams' and the brooding 'Here Alone'. There is a melodic and cinematographic orchestral flavour to the compositions that are on this release, well showcased within the 10 tracks, ’Jerusalem’ and the beautiful power ballad ’Back To You’ being just two awesome examples. This release is a real stunner, well worth checking out… 9/10 (Dave)

Archived Guy Band reviews can be found here. Scroll down and click relevant link.