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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.

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)

AVANTASIA...'GHOSTLIGHTS'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 12th January 2016

Avantasia is a German Symphonic Power Metal supergroup project created by Tobias Sammet, vocalist of the band Edguy. It has been characterised as a rock opera, as it features various vocalists and musicians and it consists of concept albums. The project can be divided into three periods of activity. The first, 1999-2002, saw the release of a self-titled single and two full-length albums with the subtitle 'The Metal Opera'. The second, 2005-2011, consists of the EPs 'Lost in Space Part I & II' and The Wicked Trilogy, composed of the albums 'The Scarecrow', 'The Wicked Symphony' and 'Angel of Babylon'. The third period, 2013-2016, begins with the album 'The Mystery of Time' and ends with this release 'Ghostlights'. This album as with the other Avantasia releases has to be put into the "awesome" category, featuring yet another all-star Metal cast, including the likes of Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Geoff Tate (ex-Queensryche), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation), Michael Kiske (Ex-Helloween), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Bob Catley (Magnum), Jorn Lande, Bruce Kulick (ex-Kiss), Robert Mason (ex-Lynch Mob). No fillers here people within the thirteen gold nuggets on offer, just quality overflowing with bombastic hooks and pure melody. For you female music lovers, which you will be one will assume, by virtue of the fact you are on this site, Sharon Den Adel pops up on the number ‘Isle of Evermore’. "The album's concept deals with time and how science tries to manipulate and speed up people's perception of time to align society's pace… I'm taking a look at this, presuming that time is the key to being aware of the spiritual side of our existence," explains Tobi. "The "story" is set in the 18th century… In England of course…" And a footnote, we understand that Avantasia have been asked by their label if they would be willing to take part in the German preliminary round for the Eurovision Song Contest. Tobias states that his mother's gonna be proud, or is she he says?. Back to this record, this is a great album, and it hits the stores in various editions 29th January... 9.5/10 (The Nugget)

BRAINDANCE...'MASTER OF DISGUISE'

(Dr.Music Records) Reviewed 12th January 2016

After more than ten years, it is finally happening: New York's BRAINDANCE is about to release a conceptual album 'Master Of Disguise', which sees the light of day on 29th January via Dr.Music Records. – and it is well worth the wait. The Progressive Darkwave veterans return with an enormous, artful epic about ancient times, which virtually catapults its audience into a parallel world similar to the age of ancient Egyptians and Mayas. The band's main vocalist Sebastian Elliot’s distinctive vocals mingled with dark beats make the perfect mysterious sound backdrop for this extraordinary story. He is ably supported by his partner in crime Vora Vor, who takes care of female backing vocals together with Guitar, Keyboard, Programming & Orchestration. 15 energetic and elaborate songs tell the story of a ruler of this world, who makes contact with the netherworld ('Eye Of The Storm'). This encounter, however, entails serious consequences ('The Silence', 'The Game'), whereupon the monarch is forced to begin to search for his own identity ('Master Of Disguise'). At all times he is haunted by his past and insecure about what the future holds ('Lost', 'More Than A Moment'). The record itself is awesome and at times almost touches film score proportions, with pinpointed atmospheric instrumental passages rounding off and completing this epic album. While awaiting the release date, how about viewing a video to a track of the album here, that track being 'LOST'... 8.75/10 (The Nugget)

SHAKRA…’HIGH NOON’

(AFM Records) Reviewed 7th January 2015

Finally there’s official news from the SHAKRA camp: The fox is on the run again - singer Mark Fox is back together with SHAKRA! Mark has had his share of controversy - the video to the song 'Chain of Temptation' from the album 'Fall' showed singer Fox giving himself a heroin injection (oh dear!!!!). Anyway, Chris von Rohr (Swiss rock musician, record producer, author, columnist, radio and television presenter) said the following after former singer John Prakesh left the band in early 2014: “Let’s bring back together what belongs together”. That being said, it took a while till the early disputes had been put aside, but in late summer of 2014 it was clear to everyone that it’s time to do it again! Since that point of time, the whole band shed blood, sweat and tears to finish this their new album, which will be out on January 29th 2016. This is an album chock full of melodic metal songs, with more hooks than a well stocked fishing tackle shop, and choruses that are hideously catchy. No standouts as the tracks are all standout cuts. If you like your metal catchy and melodic, this album from this Swiss band is well worth checking out, proving that the Swiss are not just good at making watches... 9.5/10 (Dave)

CHALCEDONY...'CHAPTER III'

(Rusalka Records) Reviewed 9th December 2015

Eveshka, formerly known as Dano, started the band around 2005. The first album, Chapter One, was released in 2007. Originally a classical pianist and the drummer for a UK band, Confusion, he decided to take matters into his own hands by combining his love for classical music and film scores with the energy and drive of rock and metal. He thus became 'Chalcedony' and has not looked back since. His brother, Chris Wilson, former front man of Confusion, accompanies Chalcedony (who takes care of drums, piano and of course vocals) on this album, with his superior guitar skills, giving it that gritty rock edge that the music needs. Chalcedony communicates his story through dramatic means, venturing through the complexity of Progressive Rock, Celtic and horror, coupled with plenty of melody. It is a tale of agoraphobia through his own eyes, battling through adventures of love, hate, failure and success. As a result, we get 12 tracks and 68 minutes of awesome and at times emotionally charged music, just listen to 'The Old Convent' and ‘Left Side Of The Pier as just two awesome examples, while 'Mother Gaia' and 'Fifth Conquest' highlights the instrumental skills of Eveshka. At least five years in the making, Chapter III was produced in a loft-conversion studio in Chalcedony's home entirely, and mastered by Kevin Paul, who has worked with well known artists such as Nick Cave and Depeche Mode - and it comes well recommended from the Ravenheart team. Check facebook out here... 9/10 (Dave)

PHEDORA…’THE HOUSE OF INK’

(Self Released) Reviewed 6th December 2015

Phedora come from Poland and have a sound that would send the Americans into raptures. With influences from bands such as Breaking Benjamin, RED, Pain of Salvation, Bring Me The Horizon, Fair to Midland and Linkin Park, one can see where this band is coming from. Although Polish, there is very little sign of any European accent, as the band belt out winner after winner on this thirteen track record. A review shorter than the skirt I am wearing at present, but if the above bands tickle your doo dah, then check this lot out… 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

SYNAXARIA…’SADNESS OF MEMORIES’

(Self Release) Reviewed 3rd December 2015

Formed in 2010, Synaxaria is using their own words a romantic Rock/Metal band. They come from Belarus and is fronted by the mainly clean vocals of Dzmitry and the backing vocals of Natallia. There so happens to be some rather good bands filtering out of eastern Europe at the moment, and Synaxaria is no exception to that rule, offering the listener 10 tracks of catchy Rock/Metal music. As previously mentioned, it seems that main vocal duties are the domain of Dzmitry, Natallia offering backing vox, but this is a consistent release across the 10 numbers, with stand out cuts being the catchy and quirky 6 minute plus E.M.I.D.A.Y., the rather cool ‘Love Gives Eternity’, the ballad ‘Ghosts Of Our Past’ and the bouncy ultra catchy tune ‘Our Summer Is Gone’. Furthermore, the final gem ‘Angel’ is sung by Natallia in her native tongue - lovely. This is a very good album with a strong melodic sensibility, well worth looking into further and totally enjoyable. The band’s Facebook is here… 8.75/10 (The Nugget)

SHOTGUN RODEO…’WORLD WIDE GENOCIDE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 3rd December 2015

Shotgun Rodeo hail from Norway and they are fronted by Nino Escopeta, and if you want to listen to an album that represents what Metal should sound like today in the 21st century, then check these guys and this record out. There are some great metal anthems here on this 13 track album, like the addictive and pounding ‘The Silver Tongued Devils’ with its great chorus, the Power Metal sounding ‘Saving Myself’ that drives along like a Japanese bullet train, the fist pumping ‘Scavenger of Death’ and 'Skin Crawl' with its Death Metalish vocals. They can also slow it down too, the two tracks that provide an oasis of calm within a cacophony of Metal being the power ballad ‘Rust’ and the acoustic 'Dying Inside'. The band describe their style as notorious Heavy Metal, but whatever you wanna call it, this is by and large a relentless Metal assault and as a consequence, a solid and consistent release. Shotgun Rodeo has been known to promote heavy drinking, mosh pits and ass kicking, so keep away from old people (oh dear, does that include me?) and children at all costs! Anyway, if this may be your cuppa tea (or pint of beer), well worth checking out if I may say so! Meanwhile, the lyric video to the track 'Scavenger of Death' can be seen here, while the number 'Withered Earth' can be listened too here... 8/10 (Dave)

SERGEANT STEEL...'RIDERS OF THE WORM'

(Boyz Tyme Records) Reviewed 16th November 2015

Sergeant Steel fronted by Phil Vanderkill, is Austria's no. 1 hard rock band! 'Riders Of The Worm' is their third release and features guest appearances from Mark Slaughter (Slaughter, Vinnie Vincent Invasion) and Kane Roberts (Alice Cooper). The band offers up catchy arena rock hymns, where powerful hooks meet blasting melodies in the vein of Aerosmith, Ratt and early Bon Jovi! The kinda music that the USA would fall in love with. There are 14 tracks here (track 14 being a cd only hidden track) of bouncy melodic hard rock, like the Alice Cooper sounding 'Silver Spoon' (feat Kane Roberts), the hard rocking and catchy 'Only Good Girls (Love A Rock n Roll Boy)' and the awesome fist pumping 'Hot Widow' - these are just three from a handful of gems. And let us not forget the ballads like 'Where My Heart Is' and the acoustic ‘Promised Land‘, and I do honestly believe that no one can do ballads better than bands from this genre. Mixed and mastered by producer & legend Michael Wagener (Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Skid Row, etc.), this is well worth checking out. So why don't you ride the worm to the band's website which is at www.sergeant-steel.com - released Nov 27th.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

FROM ASHES TO NEW…’DOWNFALL’ EP

(Better Noise/Eleven Seven Music) Reviewed 9th November 2015

Rock music for a new generation! This is the music that From Ashes To New throw at the listener., not too dissimilar to that of Linkin Park really. From Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States, this band is really good! This is their 2nd EP featuring four tracks of melodic Nu Metal, each track a sure fire winner. They put into the musical blender Rap, Rock, Metal and Electro and you get tracks like ‘Lost And Alone’ as just one golden nugget from an EP of gems. Good? this isn’t good, this is frikin’ awesome! 9/10 (The Nugget)

RAVEN SKY…’ONCE ABOVE THE OLD SKIES’

(Self Released) Reviewed 9th November 2015

Raven Sky is a metal band of five childhood friends, who draw a musical landscape from powerful and symphonic melodies as well as heavy and rhythmic elements of modern metal music. The band was born in 1996 in Hausjärvi, Southern Finland – was deceased in 2005 and reanimated for a weekend in 2011 and has remained undead ever since. The heaviness of the band’s music is mostly based on the oppressiveness of the guitar riffs, various rhythmic elements and metallic singing (mainly of the more deathy variety) – as well as powerful and voluminous orchestrated melodies coupled at times with a choral back drop. And this is well showcased within the eleven tracks here, that offer up some powerful, melodic and bombastic music. You won’t find any soppy ballads here with favourite tracks including ’Reroll’ and ‘6 Years of Silence’. Raven Sky is comprised of Tomi Aaltonen (bass), Oskari Kettinen (vocals, keyboards), Esa Mäkinen (guitar), Atte Tahvanainen (drums), Ville Virtanen (guitar), and you will find the band's face book here. The only downside, is I do find the vocals across the whole album a little shall we say overpowering (that could just be me), but well worth checking out if you feel this may be your cuppa tea..7/10 (The Nugget)

DEF LEPPARD…S/T

(EarMusic) Reviewed November 3rd 2015

Oh yes! Okay, Def Leppard are one of my fave bands, more particularly with their earlier stuff, and this is their first album since the 2008 record ‘Songs From The Sparkle Lounge’. Def Leppard has sold over 100 million albums since their conception, and although this new one may not quite reach the heights of their earlier material, this sure has that classic Leppard feel, while at the same time appealing to a more modern and perhaps younger rock audience. The classic Def Leppard sound is sure there in the opening salvo of ‘Let’s Go’ and ‘Dangerous’, the latter in particular surely sending old school fans into raptures of delight - marvellous! Third up ‘Man Enough’ has a kinda Queen ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ feel to it - great bass line. And the awesomeness continues….’We Belong’ is the first ballad from the album, a great number and a chart smash if ever there was one, while the bouncy ‘Invincible’ proves how invincible this band is! There are other greats within the 14 jewels here, including the rocking tracks ‘Sea Of Love’ (great chorus) and ‘Broken N Brokenhearted’, the acoustic ballad ‘Last Dance’ and the classic sound of ‘Wings of an Angel‘. This is a damn fine album from this awesome British band who certainly are the biz…enough said…9.5/10 (Dave)

ABSOLVA…’NEVER A GOOD DAY TO DIE’

(Rocksector Records) Reviewed 20th October 2015

ABSOLVA is a British metal band (from Manchester), and offers an inspired & modern take on the proud traditions of this genre. Formed in May 2012 by Chris Appleton (lead vocals) & Martin McNee (drums), both of Fury UK, this is the band's latest effort having been co-written by Luke Appleton (Iced Earth), brother of Chris. We have 11 tracks of traditional hard rock and metal played how we are all used to hearing it. And there are highlights galore on the album. If you thought the pounding opener 'Disguise' was good, then next up 'Killer Within' with its catchy chorus will have you screaming for more. And more you get - 'No One Escapes' is a thumping rocker with a fist pumping chorus as is ‘The Light’. The title track maintains the awesome momentum that the record so far has gathered, although the epic and rather cool power ballad ‘How Black Is My Heart’ slows things down a bit, until half way through the tune when the ante sure is upped, a great number and a fave of mine from the cd. ‘Transform’ cranks it up again and that is how it continues until the awesome closing number ‘All Alone’. This is a massive and enjoyable release from the band– great musicianship from all the musicians involved and well recommended to rock and metal lovers out there. Absolva’s website is here… 9/10 (Dave)

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