Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

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.

EXCALION...'DREAM ALIVE'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 28th May 2017

Excalion featuring the powerful vocals of Marcus Lång, truly shows what shedding skin means. With a vibrant, aggressive, fast yet melodic new album, Excalion steers to the forefront of Finnish Melodic Metal bands. The 11 track album builds on the storyline that was established with the 'Centenarian' single (available through Spotify and iTunes), telling about a modern escapist who lives both the past and present, crafting his own realities. 'Dream Alive' takes you through this journey, welcoming you through the pathways of the new century with stories that will not escape your mind. This is a truly melodic album from these melodic metal merchants - check out cuts like the bouncy 'Marching Masquerade', the power ballads 'Deadwater Bay' and 'The Firmament', the awesome 'Living Daylights' and the epic 11 minute plus closing track 'Portrait On The Wall' as proof of the pudding. Every track real corkers in their own right, making this record well worth checking out when the album gets released (7th July I am told)... 8.75/10 (Natalie 'The Nugget' Gold)

HAREM SCAREM...'UNITED'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 14th May 2017

With sales well over a million in 43 countries and 12 top 40 hits around the globe, 2017 will see Harem Scarem return and ready to dominate! These Canadians sure make it clear they still have something to say right from the start with the title track, 'United', a chunky slice of guitar-driven melodic rock nirvana that kicks off Harem Scarem's strongest studio outing since the early 00's. From there, the album lifts off with well-crafted songs featuring big choruses coupled with simple and addictive hook-laden themes. Each track carries a power-rock-packed punch, swaggering riffs, and hooks to die for. This band has been one of my faves since their debut outing over 20 years ago and they continue to bring a tsunami of well crafted music to their fans. Another well recommended album from fortress Frontiers. Buy this excellent record!... 9/10 (Dave)

SNAKECHARMER...'SECOND SKIN'

(Frontiers) Reviewed 14th May 2017

“Second Skin” is the hotly anticipated second effort from UK rockers SNAKECHARMER, and brings the listener straight back to the good old days of real Rock n’ Roll played with heart and soul. Slightly harder edged compared to the debut, but with roots still firmly planted in the classic Hard Rock vibe with a hint of late ’70s AOR, this new record sounds fresh and crisp. Fronted by Chris Ousey of Heartland fame, this is a corker of an album from the Frontiers stable. Eleven tracks of hard rock with a retro vibe. Frontiers rarely release a dud un, and this is another good un from that label... 8.5/10 (Natalie 'The Nugget' Gold)

ALESTORM...'NO GRAVE BUT THE SEA'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 14th May 2017

The one and only heavy metal pirates of ALESTORM are back, and they've brought with them, this their 5th full length album. So put on your eyepatch and let the rum flow freely for the unstoppable international party machine. No other band in the galaxy creates such epic modern symphonic folk metal anthems with endless hooks that will be stuck in your head until the end of the universe. Or in Alestorm's own words..."Stupid songs about getting drunk and stealing treasure". Twisted together with blistering harmonized guitar & keyboard solos, thunderous power metal majesty, and unrelenting modern metal riffing, the 10 tracks here are blisteringly good, and with lyrics that will have the best of any pirate raising their tankard in support. The one track that did catch my attention and I was smiling all the way through it, that is the number 'Fucked With An Anchor'. This new album from the band is nothing less than the perfect soundtrack to the most epic battle of your life. "A pirate's life is simple; we drink and steal and kill!" This album is good, is lyrically amusing, so drink up me hearties - well recommended - released May 26th...9.25/10 (Dave)

LARS ERIC MATTSSON'S VISION...'VISION 1'

(Lion Music) Reviewed 28th April 2017

In 1991 Lars Eric Mattsson wanted to find a better singer than the guy he had been working with previously and also had the urge to put a real band together. He recorded a few songs with Bjorn Lodin but at that time could not find a way to work together so Larscontinued to search until a friend intoduced him to another Swede, Conny Lind.They met, had a few beers and recorded some rough demos and everything seemed to click instantly. Conny came up with the band name "Vision" and soon they were recording their debut album. Lars already had a few albums released in Japan (and Europe) and several Japanese labels were interested in Vision. After a bidding war they signed with Apollon Inc/FEMS for Japan and Roadrunner for Europe. The album did quite well and they did 3 videos for the Japanese market. The Japanese label had them change the name from just Vision to Lars Eric's Mattsson's VISION. The album was very successful in Japan and the band would have has a glorious future ahead if it was not for the looming bankrupcy of their record label. In 2017, 25 years after the original release the album was remastered in Lion Music's Lion's Cage II studio. Basically, this is a 13 track melodic rock/AOR record offering rather good and catchy tracks mixed in with some ballads, some great guitar work from Lars too. This album released May 4th, is the first in a series of at least five VISION reissues/releases, being dedicated to the band's bassist Micke Ahlskog R.I.P.- March 31 1963 - April 3 2017... 8.25/10 (Dave)

PLACE VENDOME...'CLOSE TO THE SUN'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 24th April 2017

Place Vendôme (French pronunciation: [plas vɑ̃dom]) is a square in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France, located to the north of the Tuileries. It also happens to be a Melodic hard Rock band with lead vocals from Michael Kiske. There are 13 tracks on this release I have here (thanks Dave). Prime time Melodic Rock can best describe the music on this racord and good it is too. A brief review but another darn good album from the Frontiers stable... 8.75/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)

OVERSENSE...'THE STORYTELLER'

(Dr Music/Soulfood) Reviewed 13th April 2017

An extraordinary mix of catchy melodies, fat guitar riffs, driving drums, orchestral moments and the powerful voice of front man Danny Meyer, that’s OVERSENSE. The music on this their debut full length album , which will be released on 12th May 2017 through Dr. Music Records, is brought to life by its variety of song writing ranging between different Metal and Rock styles. This combination of heavy head banger riffs, bombastic orchestras and choirs from this German band, creates a unique sound in a variety from fast Heavy Metal tracks to melodic Power Rock. The album offers up 12 tracks including a bonus track and is a rather awesome record. The faster heavy metal tracks include the interestingly titled ‘Mr Mackies Chase’ with even a bluesy interlude, the pounding ‘Purgatory’ and the pacey ‘Last Goodbye’, with the more melodic tracks including ‘Wild Hunt’ with its catchy chorus, the ultra melodic ‘Sally’ and the riff tastic ‘Phobia’. This is a good release from this band with awesome tracks a plenty, and is well worth checking out when released as a consequence…. 9/10 (Dave)

CRYONIC TEMPLE...'INTO THE GLORIOUS BATTLE'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 30th March 2017

Power/Melodic Metal band Cryonic Temple was founded in 1996 in Dalarna, Sweden. Together with Orphan Gypsy and Sabaton they are considered the originators of the new Power Metal wave in the early 2000s. After 9 years of silence the band is finally going to release this their 5th album on Scarlet Records. 'Into The Glorious Battle' is Cryonic Temple's first concept album, an exciting story comprising of 14 tracks, taking place in the future, composing of the most dynamic songs the band has ever composed, although still deeply rooted in the Power Metal genre. The band has also introduced new influences and sounds, including mind-blowing ballads. After a cinematic intro, it all kicks off good and proper with the Melodic Power Metal of 'Man Of A Thousand Faces' a real belter with a catchy chorus to boot. 'All The Kingsmen' is another goodie with another belter of a chorus. Further awesome numbers include the tuneful, well orchestrated and awesome 'Prepare For War', the power ballads 'Heroes Of The Day' and 'The War Is Useless', the bombastic and ultra melodic 'Can't Stop The Heat', closing with the atmospheric near 8 minute epic fist pumping power ballad 'Freedom'. With this album Cryonic Temple find themselves at the top of their game - Melodic Power Metal with a subtle Symphonic undercurrent. To be honest, every track on this release is a winner, well recommended when released on 21st April... 9.5/10 (Dave)

PYRAMAZE…’CONTINGENT’

(Inner Wound Recordings) Reviewed 27th March 2017

With their milestone fifth album, Pyramaze have grown and matured into a band that is capable of satisfying their fans, while simultaneously continuing to break new ground. The incorporation of modern cinematic film score elements mixed with progressive metal riffs and melodies, will leave the listener breathless! Huge, sweeping, hard-hitting, and poignant, 'Contingent' is an epic post-apocalyptic conceptual piece inspired by current events, the human spirit to overcome struggle and diversity, and the brotherhood that lies there in. There are 13 tracks of prime time melodic metal on this release and very good this cd is too. With female vocals on 'The Tides That Won't Change' by Kristen Foss, this record was produced, mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen [Volbeat, Amaranthe, Epica, Evergrey]. It will hit the shops on 28th April… 8.5/10 (Natalie ‘The Nugget’ Gold)

BONFIRE...'BYTE THE BULLET'

(UDR/Warner) Reviewed 26th March 2017

Bonfire (originally Cacumen) is a German heavy metal band, founded in Ingolstadt, Germany in 1972 by Hans Ziller. In 1986, based on the advice of the record company and the management, the band changed its name to Bonfire. The original founder Hans Ziller is still in the band and is the only one who has the rights to the Bonfire name. This CD is Bonfire's latest offering and is a Melodic Hard Rocker's wet dream - 14 tracks of Melodic Hard Rock with the odd ballad thrown in for good measure. This is good rocking stuff and for those that like their rock heavy but melodic, this is the biz. As one can imagine, this band sure has a pedigree and this album released 24th March is well worth checking out. So go along to your local record store and buy... 9/10 (Natalie 'The Nugget' Gold)

ONE DESIRE...S/T

(Frontiers) Reviewed 17th March 2017

Frontiers Music is excited to announce the release of the self-titled debut album from Finnish rockers ONE DESIRE on March 24th. Fronted by André Linman, this is another release of prime time melodic rock. Formed in 2012, they are another band that looks set to hit it big on the melodic rock front. 10 tracks of awesome mid to uptemp tunes and well recommended as a consequence. May I suggest this is another one to be added to the must buy list...8.75/10 (Natalie 'The Nugget' Gold)

HOUSE OF LORDS...'SAINT OF THE LOST SOULS'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 17th March 2017

House of Lords was formed in 1987 by former Angel member and keyboardist Gregg Giuffria after his solo project Giuffria. After listening to demos – originally intended for Giuffria's third record – a record deal with Gene Simmons' company Simmons Records was agreed upon, on two conditions that the band's name be changed to House of Lords and a new lead singer recruited (firing David Glen Eisley in the process). James Christian thus replaced Eisley, after Christian was suggested by ex-Giuffria and Quiet Riot bassist Chuck Wright. Eleven albums in (eight of those on the Frontiers label), and 2017 still sees the band alive and kicking, although vocalist James Christian is the only one there from those early days. Musically and as can be expected from the band, 'Saint Of The Lost Souls' offers up an array of pulsating melodic hard rock tracks from the opening salvo of 'Harlequin' and 'Oceans Divide' to the closer 'The Other Option'. Awesome cuts in between including the catchy 'Hit The Wall', the ballad 'The Sun Will Never Set Again', the so so melodic 'New Day Breakin' and the anthemic 'Grains Of Sand'. This is another goodie from James Christian and the band, and is well worth checking out in the process...9/10 (Dave)

ECLIPSE...'MONUMENTUM'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 16th March 2017

Eclipse come from Sweden and are an awesome Melodic Rock band. 'Monumentum' is a twelve tracker offering killer tunes with totally massive hooks. Fronted by Eril Martensson this is a cool melodic rock album and fans of this style of music will not be disappointed, so why not check them out. Available on Frontiers Records so it should be fairly easy to get your grubby mits on. Every cut here is a winner so well recommended as a consequence... 9/10 (Natalie 'The Nugget' Gold)

ATLAS PAIN...'WHAT THE OAK LEFT'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 13th March 2017

Atlas Pain is an Italian Epic-Folk Metal band that combine the epicness of cinematic music with the speed and power of sacred Pagan Metal. And the word "epic" is a major player with this release, and it will send the hairs on the back of your neck on end!. I suppose if you throw in extreme style male growls, chuck in heavily orchestrated and awesome choral parts, add heaps of melody, and you have this album in a nutshell. And to be honest, it is damn awesome! Frontman Samuele Faulisi who also deals with Guitar, Keyboards, FX etc is obviously a very talented individual. This album is an interesting and rather bombastic release, with one track that really caught my attention being the heavy and occasionally beautiful 'Till The Dawn Comes' - awesome! There are others like the catchy 'Annwn's Gate' and the epic 11+ minute instrumental closer 'White Overcast Line'. The record as a consequence is well worth checking out, totally majestic... 8.5/10 (Dave)

MONO INC...'TOGETHER TIL THE END'

(NoCut Entertainment/SPV) Reviewed 23rd January 2017

This band fronted by Martin Engler, including backing vocals from female drummer Katha Mia is damn kool. Indeed, I can't actually think up the words for a band that releases music that is so damn catchy from start to finish. I have 140 tracks from this German Band on my iPod, and every cut is so so catchy. This record is their latest, offering up 20 cuts of alternative and hideously catchy rock, including a cover of 'Out In The Fields'! And just take a listen to the track 'Boatman' that features Ronan Harris from VNV Nation as just another example. There are 2 cds in-fact, with cd2 being an 8 track album of remixes and the like, but still damn good. I am not sure where to start, but perhaps I should just say that if you like inoffensive music that is so melodic with choruses as catchy as the plague, then check this latest album from Mono Inc out. Yep, it is a good un.... 9.5/10 (Dave)

SJOBLOM ...'6'

(Manic Depression Records) Reviewed 19th January 2017

This is a rather nice dose of mid to up tempo Pop/Rock from the Swedish maestro Johan Sjoblom. There are 8 tracks here of catchy synth infused Pop/Rock, every track a winner in its own right. I do rather like this album, my fave track however, being the mid paced lyrically emotional 'The Choice'. For any body that likes Dark catchy Indie Pop, this is well worth a purchase. Great stuff Mr Sjoblom :) Facebook is here... 8.5/10 (Dave)

GOTTHARD…’SILVER’

(G Records Switzerland) Reviewed 19th January 2017

Quarter of a century ago, GOTTHARD (one of my fave bands) set out from the Swiss canton Tessin to conquer the world with pure, straight forward rock and gigantic ballads. In 2016, we can undoubtedly certify that they’ve pulled off the trick: With 15 No.1 albums and various multi-platinum awards, GOTTHARD are not only the most successful Swiss band but are also a staple in the global spotlight. After the untimely death in 2010 of original vocalist Steve Lee in a road accident in the USA, Nic Maeder was eventually recruited to the mic stand. I had seen Gotthard live at the Northwick Theatre here in Worcester UK in their early days supporting Magnum, and they impressed. It is no wonder that they eventually hit the big time. Fast forward to 2017 and the stage is now set for the band's 25th anniversary, and this new album is appropriately titled 'Silver'. And like their other records, this is a melodic hard rockers wet dream. There are 15 tracks on my copy (inc 2 bonus cuts) and the band has pulled off yet another winner with this awesome album. From the well-greased Hammond engine of the opener ‘SILVER RIVER’ to sequencers and lush backings on the awesome track ‘BEAUTIFUL’, Rammstein staccato in ‘EVERYTHING INSIDE’, and the monumentally arranged ‘ONLY LOVE IS REAL’, the band delivers an album that convinces, surprises, and brims with great love for detail. This is a finely conceived album well worth the purchase money…. 9/10 (Dave)

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)

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