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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS C-D

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CLAIMING NEPTUNE…’IN TIMES OF CHANGE’

(Claiming Neptune Music) Reviewed 3rd May 2016

The interestingly monikered Claiming Neptune is a female-fronted alt rock band from Austin, TX with a throwback kind of 90s smooth and groovy sound. The band started in September 2014 with the idea of making folk music, but as the lineup solidified, the sound took on a life of its own - a progression documented with this debut record. The band fronted by the near seductive vocals of Lisa Borjon offers up 10 cool numbers on this CD, starting with the nifty ‘Two Worlds Apart’ that takes us into second up, the laid back ‘Misery’. The band laying their cards on the table from the onset, with their cool and aforementioned smooth and groovy sound. No Hard Rock or Heavy Metal shenanigans here, we have the lighter waving and by far the longest track on the album ‘Let Me Let Go’, the more upbeat and fans fave ‘Lonely’, the sedate ‘It’s Happening Now’, the Traveling Wilburys sounding ‘These Days’ and the closing track and first single ‘Apparition’, a rather cool mid tempo track. This album from this Austin TX band is a good un and should go down well with lovers of rather more laid back Alternative Rock. Their Facebook is at www.facebook.com/claimingneptune... 8/10 (Dave)

CELESTIAL RUIN…’PANDORA’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st April 2016

Canadian band CELESTIAL RUIN is styled after European Symphonic Rock/Metal, but executed with a decidedly North American flavour. Combining a heavenly destruction of heavy riffs with beautiful melodies, the band create catchy singable melodies, and rich symphonic textures. Indeed, I would say that this EP is certainly a step forward from their debut full length 'The Awakening'. The production is much improved although let that not be a criticism of the debut, which in itself was a very good album. The five tracks here from the opening chords of ’Murder of Crows’, through the epic track ’Sense of Exile’ to the closing bars of ’Firestorm’ are bombastic, infectious pieces of music and certainly a step in the right direction. If a second full length album travels along the same lines shown on this EP, then we will be in for one helluva listening experience. The lyrics on this release come from a mix of personal experiences and fantasy elements. Most of them were written during a time when Larissa was going through recovery from a surgery and was unable to speak, sing and barely able to stand up. So the frustration, sadness, anger and fear she felt during her recovery created this EP. For fans of Evanescence, Nightwish, Revamp, Delain, Kamleot, Within Temptation and the like, Got the idea? The release date is 20th May and I would well recommend this! Digital and CD pre-order of the EP will be available as of April 22nd on iTunes and CD at www.celestialruin.com.... 9.25/10 (Dave)

CRETURA…’FALL OF THE SEVENTH GOLDEN STAR’

(WormholeDeath) Reviewed 18th April 2016

Cretura formed in 2010 is a six-piece Symphonic Extreme Metal band from Bergen, Norway. The band consists of Markus Pettersen (guitars, vocals), Marius Toen (guitars), Jørgen Beijer (bass, vocals), Michael Sveri (drums), Kine-Lise Sæthre (keyboards) and Sárá Márjá Guttorm (vocals). Their music is symphonic with many horror elements such as the melodies, musical arrangements and lyrics. The music varies from the melodic parts with female vocals and the heavier parts with the rough growls of Markus. The album has a strong concept: both lyrically, musically and visually. There are 11 tracks which contain everything from beautiful vocals, extreme riffing, complex orchestration and screaming guitar solos. The album tells an epic tale about the end of humanity. A tale where both historical, philosophical and religious events are contorted in different ways to reflect the ongoing cycle of human behaviour, and what ultimately causes our moral and ethical way of thinking to become oppressed and thrown away while our souls slowly decay. And there you have it, eleven extreme and powerful numbers that certainly will appeal to those that like their metal at the heavier end of the musical spectrum, more akin to bands like Cradle of Filth and the like. There are melodic tracks however like ‘Funeral Roses’ and ’Northern Winds’, while tracks like ‘Reign of Terror', 'Grand Warfare Through Dark Ages', 'Voices of Hunger' and 'At The 11th Hour' will blow your mind. This album is bombastic and recommended to all you metalheads!!... 8.5/10 (Dave)

CULT OF LUNA & JULIE CHRISTMAS…’MARINER’

(Indie Recordings) Reviewed 17th April 2016

With their mind melting eighth epos, Cult Of Luna together with vocalist extraordinaire Julie Christmas brings you to the outer rim of the ever expanding boundaries of the cosmos - where the rules of man are not applicable and the cold, dark nothing envelops the harsh realities of the universe. Since their humble beginnings in 1998, Cult Of Luna has released seven full length albums, been awarded the top rock/metal award at the Swedish National Radio Awards and cemented their status as one of the true progressors of the metal genre. In 2013,the Swedes teamed up with Indie Recordings for the release of perhaps their most successful work to date in the shape of 'Vertikal I' and 'Vertikal II'. These cohesive pieces of work received worldwide appraisal and only propelled Cult Of Luna to even greater heights. For their eighth effort, the post-metal pioneers join forces with the amazingly talented aforementioned Julie Christmas from Brooklyn, who brings an even larger depth to Cult Of Luna’s sound. This is a blisteringly heavy and unique release, 5 tracks extending over a 55 minute period of time, and a period of time that will leave you absolutely breathless with the intensity of the music on this well crafted album, which has to be listened to in one go, not in snippets. Cult Of Luna are the kings of post- metal , this is an awesomely consistent record, all the tracks are standout cuts full of atmosphere, and it is an album where time flies while listening to it! Therefore, not a boring time consuming release! A must buy that will blow your mind!! 8.75/10 (Dave)

CHASING DRAGONS...'FACTION:PROLOGUE' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 28th March 2016

Wow! this is a rather good record. Female fronted Chasing Dragons come from Leeds (UK), and this little EP provides us with three tracks of pounding melodic alternative metal to get your day going. This is as good as anything I have heard from a band plying their trade within this style of music. Fronted by the impressive sounding Tank, may I suggest that you check this band out at www.chasingdragons.co.uk/home where you can also view the video to the opening track 'Devil In Her Eyes'. Certainly recommended if you feel that this may float your boat... 8.25/10 (Dave)

CONSTRAINT…’ENLIGHTENED BY DARKNESS’

(Atomic Stuff Promotion) Reviewed 25th March 2016

Constraint is an Italian symphonic metal band born in 2011. They started playing Nightwish, Epica and Evanescence covers (at the tender ages of 15-16), then they began writing their own music and developing their own style. Their first demo, called 'Illusion of a Dream', was published in 2012. After some line-up changes, the band worked on its first album, and that is what is being reviewed here. Highlighted by the opera-style vocals of singer Beatrice Bini, Constraint show great care and attention to detail, excellent arrangements and fantastic melodies, sharpened by guitars and keyboards that create a heavy but at the same time in-your-face sound. And for a debut from such a young band, this is rather good. Some belters here on this album including the opening salvo of ’Behind The Scenes’ and the intriguingly titled and catchy ‘Talking Dumbs’, the power ballad ‘Illusion of a Dream‘, the pounding ‘The Birth’, the rather nice ‘Breathing Infinity’ and the piano/string led ballad ‘Autumn Hymn‘ . In summary, I would say this young band has a little way to go before they will find themselves knocking on the door of the Premier League of Femme Metal, but nonetheless, this is a good start. Their Facebook is here.. 8/10 (Dave)

CILVER…’NOT THE END OF THE WORLD’

(Entertainment One Music) Reviewed 21st March 2016

CILVER is a Rock band that hail from New York and they serve up a plate full of tuneful alternative rock music that to these ears is rather good. Fronted by Uliana who is of Romanian origin and indeed Vietnamese, Cuban, and Russian are among the multiple ethnicities within CILVER, which in turn gives them a strong connection with fans worldwide. The tracks here are all hard hitting and melodic, with the opening threesome of ‘Break Free‘, the catchy ‘I’m America’ and ‘Headstone’ setting the bench mark for what is to follow. Other awesome numbers include ‘Afterlife’, which is melodic, so catchy and screams mainstream radio airplay, the powerful ’It’s My Life’ and the high powered closer ‘Not Afraid’. Indeed, mentioning radio airplay, everything here should be heard on mainstream radio as it is so damn cool! America will love this. Produced by the bands very own, Leon Lyazidi, with help from executive producer Johnny K (Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, Megadeth), this album is mega awesome and is well worth checking out when released 29th April. Cilver’s website is here.. 9/10 (Dave)

DAKESIS...'THE NEW DAWN'

(CapsAArx) Reviewed 17th March 2016

Dakesis fronted by Gemma Lawler is a four piece Progressive Power Metal band from Birmingham, UK. Their latest release is a thirteen track concept album which marks a dramatic change in direction and sound from the band’s debut album. With more progressive influences and the addition of powerful orchestral back drop alongside new session pianist Jacob Underwood, Dakesis have sculpted a vast instrumental soundscape to compliment their heavier metal influences. This is a thirteen track metal masterpiece from the top drawer that has driven the band into the Premier League. Won't name any highlights as such, as there is a tsunami of highlights on this album, but there are three numbers worth a mention: the last three tracks in-fact, the massively epic near 18 minute long 'The Seventh Sky', the bouncy, melodic pen ultimate 'Call To Freedom' and the eleven minute awesome closer, 'By The Fading Light'. ‘The New Dawn’ was recorded at Carbon Studios in Birmingham, mixed by Nino Laurenne at Sonic Pump Studios in Finland (Ensiferum, Stratovarious and Firewind) and mastered by Svante Forsback of Chartmakers in Finland (Rammstein, Dragonforce, Apocalyptica). To summarise very briefly, this album is dynamic, need I say anymore?... 9.5/10 (Dave)

THE DOLLYROTS…’FAMILY VACATION: LIVE IN LOS ANGELES’

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th March 2016

You know what, I like this band. I reviewed an EP of theirs in January which I rather enjoyed. Going back a little while and in 2013, pop punk sweethearts The Dollyrots (Kelly Ogden -Vox, Bass and Luis Cabezas - Guitar, Vox) reproduced. But their new baby didn't slow them down: they just took him on tour, well why not! Thus the title of this their new live CD/DVD. This release offers up 11 tracks of highly enjoyable Punk/Alternative Rock Music and flippin’ good it is too. I am not going to start naming any highlights as everything here is damn catchy and cool. If you like this upbeat carefree style of bouncy Punk Rock, then this has to be checked out. Indeed, the complete Family Vacation package is a concert film with a companion live album that captures The Dollyrots on their 2015 summer tour with long-time road mates Bowling For Soup. It's 40 minutes of pure rock frenzy, harnessed by filmmaker Ian MacLeod and delivered as both a video/audio download and deluxe double disc set. More info here… 9/10 (Dave)

CANTERRA…’FIRST ESCAPE’

(Kick The Flame) Reviewed 23rd February 2016

The origins of Canterra go back to 2006 when guitarist Harry and vocalist Korinna started making music together and formed their first band OLEUM. Many trials and tribulations ensured things were never going to be easy (are they ever), so after having re-formed a band with the name AVATAR, things seemed rosy. But unfortunately things did not quite go to plan (again), so after another re think, CANTERRA was born in 2011. And in now in Feb 2016, we have the pleasure of reviewing what is Canterra's 12 track debut album. This German Gothic-Metal band juxtapose hard and soft musical elements in a unique mix of Metal, Gothic and Rock. And all this with the stunning vocals of Korinna at the helm. There are some great numbers here, tuneful rockers like the opening cut ‘Child of Destiny’, the pulsating 7 minute plus ‘Broken’, the thumping metallic sound of ‘The Hunt’, the bouncy up tempo ‘Escape’ and that of another epic, the 8 minute ‘Footprints’. And then we have rather nice power driven ballads like ‘My Heart’ and ‘My Agony’, plus the closing acoustic based number ‘Der einzige Erbe’ sung in the band’s native tongue. This is a rather cool and impressive debut release, with every track sure ticking all the right boxes. The band’s website is here, album was released 19th Feb… 9/10 (Dave)

DELAIN…’LUNAR PRELUDE’

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 5th February 2016

DELAIN seem to be restless spirits: Their latest album 'The Human Contradiction' was released in 2014 and gained high praise from both fans and the press alike. The band followed up this release by touring the world with acts such as Sabaton, Within Temptation, and Nightwish, followed by a European headline tour that saw them conquering stages in sold out venues all over! Yet instead of resting on their laurels, DELAIN has hit the studio again to present a brand new epic endeavor: this exciting EP set to be released February 19th. Mastered by Grammy Award winning Ted Jensen, this EP offers two brand new songs in the shape of the ultra catchy ‘Suckerpunch‘ and the melancholic ‘Turn The Lights Out‘. ‘Don`t Let Go‘ (taken from 2014`s The Human Contradiction) comes in a brand new version and this EP also contains four incredible live cuts, as well as an orchestral reprise of ‘Suckerpunch‘, all of which proves once again how awesome DELAIN are. A near faultless release so go out and get it - Feb 19th is the date... 9/10 (Dave)

DYLEM…S/T

(7Hard) Reviewed 4th February 2016

Dylem is a Swiss Melodic/Hard rock band founded by Melody Dylem (vocals – songwriter) and Donovan (keyboardist – composer). Melody is also known as the singer in the Swiss band Elferya, who themselves have recently released the album ‘Eden’s Fall’. That album to me is damn good, and to be perfectly frank, Melody and her partner in crime have hit a winner with this release too. Nine tracks of prime Melodic Hard Rock kicking off with the pounding, powerful and mid paced ‘Walk Away’. And by the time you have recovered, the absolutely awesome ‘My Story’ pounds its way out of the speakers – Melody’s vocals powerful and faultless. Some further belters here that is sure going to cement this band’s place among some of Switzerland’s finest, and this is just their debut! Check out tracks like the ballad ’For Always’ and it confirms that Melody sure has a fine set of pipes, backed up by an awesome set of musicians, that I am sure will surely propel this band into the Premier League!! This record is a Melodic Hard Rock masterpiece and will please many people I am sure. Dylem’s website is here, where you can also check out the video to the aforementioned track ‘Walk Away’. Get this album, it will be a highlight of the 2016 I am sure!... 9/10 (Dave)

DOCKER’S GUILD…’THE HEISENBERG DIARIES - BOOK A: SOUNDS OF FUTURE PAST’

(Digital - Lion Music, physical - Rock Company/Black Swan Records) Reviewed 26th January 2016

Docker's Guild’s new album has just been released and is a part of a series of 4 transitional albums placed between the 5 main “seasons”, and which focus on an aspect of the storyline’s main character, Dr. Jack Heisenberg. This particular instalment focuses on Jack’s youth and love of science fiction, in fact the album contains exclusively vintage science fiction soundtracks reworked in the typical Docker’s Guild sound. “Book A” will be followed by “The Mystic Technocracy - Season II: The Age of Entropy”, already in development. Another unique feature of “BookA” is its all-female cast, which makes it as far as we know, the first all-female metal opera ever recorded. There are World-class performances as a consequence by an all-female cast comprising Elize Ryd (lead vocals), Amanda Somerville (lead and backing vox), Nita Strauss (guitars), Roxy Petrucci (drums), Anna Portalupi (bass), Mio Jäger (guitars), Yasi Hofer (guitars), Valentina Procopio (leading and backing vox) and Elisa Montin (drums). And then we have Mr Docker himself (Biloxi, Area 51) who takes care of the keys department, together with further lead and backing vocals and who produced the complete package to boot. This is an epic album with a strong emphasis on the instrumental elements, coupled with some familiar tunes that crop up, and highlights too numerous to mention. My suggestion is to immerse yourself in the music on offer while wearing headphones, and you will be well rewarded by this intense listening experience of this record and the beauty that it offers…. 9/10 (Dave)

THE DOLLYROTS...'MAMA'S GONNA KNOCK YOU OUT'

(Arrested Youth Records) Reviewed 26th January 2016

The DollyRots hail from LA and have been going for a while now - over 15 years in-fact, having produced 5 studio albums in that time. Until now, this band has been sneaking around under my radar, but oh well, they have now caught up with me. Fronted by Kelly Ogden this is a three track EP, offering some very catchy Punk/Rock, oh my Goth, only three tracks but this is good!! They have formally announced the release of their Pledge Music funded live CD/DVD - 'Family Vacation - Live In Los Angeles', which will be released this March. And on a footnote, their 2 year old son goes on tour with them, so it is a real family vacation. They tour the UK in February, this EP is released very shortly, well recommended... 8.75/10 (Dave)

CHASTAIN...'WE BLEED METAL'

(Leviathan Records) Reviewed January 6th 2016

Chastain is a heavy metal project formed in 1984 by guitarist David T. Chastain and signed by Shrapnel Records. The band was put together by Mike Varney, president of Shrapnel for a David T. Chastain solo album. Varney had noticed the shred guitar ability of Chastain, member of the Cincinnati-based band CJSS and at the same time, he wanted to create an output for the talent of young singer Leather Leone, formerly with the San Francisco band Rude Girl. That he did and now fast forward to 2016 and here we have their latest effort, that was indeed released in 2015. This is blistering commercial heavy metal featuring the awesome powerhouse vocals of Leather Leone, who although was part of the original formation of the band, was indeed absent from 1992 making her return on the band's previous record 'Surrender To No One' (2013). And let us also not forget the melodic fret board mastery of David T Chastain, who knows how to shred a chord or two. With an album title like 'We Bleed Metal' you know that this is not a record chock full of ballads, but every number here is a head banging battle cry to all metal fans out there. A consistent and bloomin' good release.. 9/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)

CONSUELA…’BREAK ME DOWN’

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd January 2016

Consuela is fronted by Sara Grundström and they come from a place called Örnsköldsvik in central Sweden. The band give the listener a tsunami of synth driven melodic metal featuring the vocals of Sara together with the mostly clean male vocals of Jocke Grundström. Comparisons to Amaranthe spring to mind across the nine tracks on offer on the cd, and as a result, this is rather good. Without going into any explicit detail, every track here hit’s the spot so my advice…buy! Check their Facebook out first if you so wish, find that here…8.75/10 (The Nugget)

DARK SYMPHONICA…’IMMERSION’

(Self Release) Reviewed 17th December 2015

There are some good acts coming out of Australia at the moment, and in the case of Dark Symphonica (www.facebook.com/darksymphonica), Brisbane to be precise. Fronted by Sam Wolstenholme, the opening 6 minute plus cut and lead single 'Chains of Misfortune' is a bombastic and rather impressive symphonic masterpiece, that belts along at quite a pace, with Sam offering up quite a cool vocal performance to boot. Second up, the epic 'Farewell' starts with a nice piano intro before the rest of the band kicks in with another fine symphonic performance, coupled with slower more intimate moments, almost like a soundtrack from a movie.'Envy' is heavy and fast flirting with Power Metal, but with a slower and rather catchy chorus, while 'Apophis' is a smilar sounding number to 'Envy'. 'Estrella' is simply a 10 minute epic, again with that piano putting in another fine performance together with occasional strings - an awesome number, again in places fitting of a film soundtrack. The album closes with the more commercial sounding ‘Set Me Free’ and the monster 14 minute ‘Goliath (Tyranny Part I)’ which is a goliath of a track that throws everything at the listener. This I must say is an impressive recording that proves that Symphonic Metal is not entirely the domain of European Bands. Great stuff! 8.75/10 (Dave)

CANDICE NIGHT…’STARLIGHT STARBRIGHT’

(Self Release) Reviewed 5th December 2015

A brief review - this is music to dream by. Thirteen tracks of laid back folk music from Mrs Blackmore, otherwise known as Candice Night. Seems after reviewing Enya, the laid back feel continues with this album. This lass has a lovely voice and long may it continue. There is nothing much to fault on this record, just sheer beauty in a world full of troubles from the voice of an angel, who is living her dream. Relax and enjoy… 8.5/10 (Dave)

DARK LETTER...'PSYCHOMACHIA' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd December 2015

Dark Letter is a Symphonic Gothic Metal band from Poland and they are fronted by Beata Golińska. This EP is a five track offering and I hasten to add is rather good. 'Toy' is a pounding Symphonic opener with some half decent vocals as well, not operatic, more from the pop/rock university of vocals. Next up 'Romasanta', is not about an Italian Santa Claus, but is a slower number sung in the band's native tongue (I assume), well slower initially until 2/3rds into the track it goes up a gear to end in bombastic fashion! 'Sleepy Hollow' is a dramatic up tempo melodic track while the pen ultimate 7 minute plus 'Anneliese' is a slower rather more haunting atmospheric number. Closing cut 'Toy' is another version of the opening track, this time also featuring Tomasz Wisniewski from the band Afterlife. Take a listen here, not bad, not bad at all... 8.5/10 (Dave)

DAWN OF DESTINY…’TO HELL’

(Phonotraxx Publishing) Reviewed 1st December 2015

Dawn of Destiny is a German outfit that has been around for over ten years. Their previous album 'F.E.A.R.' was rather good, so can the band better that? Well 'F.E.A.R.' was a concept album about a young girl in a wheelchair, and their sixth album 'To Hell' continues the concept theme, this time telling the story of Mary and Tim. The two are faced in mysterious ways with the past of the bride on a cruise ship during their honeymoon. It is all linked to a strange tattoo. Anyway, all becomes unravelled during the course of the album. There are differing vocal styles here, melodic female vox, clean male vocals and of course occasional growls, and it all links together rather nicely. This is rather intense fist pumping anthemic Melodic Power Metal, in a way that Dawn of Destiny seem to do so well, but with some truly melodic parts as well - 'Hateful Heart' one such track and a fave of mine from the record together with the epic seven minute plus ‘Only The Ocean Knows’ and the power ballad 'Destroy My World'. Dawn of Destiny has been knocking on the door of the top league for a while now, this epic album has opened that door and as a consequence, is well recommended…9/10 (Dave)

CORONATUS…’RABEN IM HERZ’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 12th November 2015

Formed as a project in 1999 by Mats Kurth and Georgios G., CORONATUS released its single 'Von Engeln Nur' in 2001 and debuted in 2003 as a complete band. First gigs as a double female-fronted band followed in 2004. The band started recording its debut in 2006, signed with Massacre Records in 2007 and released the debut 'Lux Noctis' in the same year. The albums 'Porta Obscura' (2008), 'Fabula Magna' (2009), 'Terra Incognita' (2011), 'Recreatio Carminis' (2013) and 'Cantus Lucidus' (2014) followed. Well, that project is still going strong and in 2015, less than a year after their previous album, ‘Raben Im Herz’ (roughly translated means "ravens in my heart") is about to hit the shelves. The compositions feature a lot of instrumental parts, which not only intensifies the joy of playing for all musicians, but also benefits the listening pleasure due to even more musical variety. The varied vocals are once again delivered by the female duo of Carmen Lorch (soprano) and Anny Maleyes (rock voice). Both singers once again show their exceptional talent in an even broader context than before - from operatic passages to dark growls! ‘Lady Of The Wall’ opens proceedings and is a mid tempo catchy number showcasing the vocal talent of both ladies - awesome! Next up, the quirky up tempo ‘König Der Nebel’ introduces Folk elements into the mix. The title track is a Symphonic masterpiece, wth pipes coming into play on the bouncy and addictive ‘Carpe Noctem’, while there is a brass sounding backing on the Symphonic bombastic ‘Hoffnung Stirbt Niemals’. The awesome momentum is continued through to the closing laid back acoustic based track ‘Frozen Swan‘, with a sniff of extreme vocals at the commencement of the track ‘Anderswelt’, one of my fave numbers from the CD as is the slow to mid tempo Folk infused ‘Canan Nan Gaidhael’. Overall, this album is a good un, with Coronatus continuing to produce the goods and consistently too. Recommended when released 4th Dec… 8.75/10 (Dave)

CHIASMA…’SYNTHESIS’

(Self Release) Reviewed 8th November 2015

Chiasma fronted by a young lass Katie Thompson, hail from Indianapolis and play a brand of what I would call melodic/atmospheric Prog Metal. And right from the start, I would like to say that this is one helluva release from this USA band. Okay, it was released a year ago, but this review is better late than never. Some types of Prog Metal can get a little widdly diddly and dare I say it, a little boring, but what I am finding regards ‘Synthesis’ is that it is never boring. The standard of musicianship is top class, and the vocals of Katie are so angelic and unique. The ten tracks that constitute this masterpiece keep you glued to the cd player/iPod or whatever listening device you use, with some middle eastern influences popping up at times, the track ‘Phajaan’ one example. This is a consistent release with every track a gem in its own right, but I do have faves, and that is the closing salvo of ’Wind Up’ and ‘Impetus Lost’, both great catchy numbers with the latter having one helluva chorus. To summarise, this is rather good Prog Metal fare, having the potential to appeal to a broad range of Rock/Metal fans. I know this was released last year but this is well worth checking out if one has not already done so - take a look at their bandcamp at www.chiasmatheband.bandcamp.com/album/synthesis… 8.75/10 (Dave)

D-WALL…’BLACK TREE’

(Alster Records) Reviewed 5th November 2015

D-Wall is a Hard Rock/Metal band from Hannover in Germany. The band formed in 1999 and released a demo the following year. Following this release, there was a long period of silence as far as new material was concerned. But after eight years, the band was ready to release their first full-length album 'Godfood'. Now in 2015, the band has released 'Black Tree'. They had a dual vocal approach on 'Godfood', but on this release Sandra it seems handles all of the vocals. 'Black Tree' is a good album, the band having an uncanny habit of writing solid catchy foot tapping tunes. They used to include (maybe still do) Deep Purple, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and Iron Maiden covers within their live shows, which gives a good indicator of what to expect from D-Wall. This a good record, well worth checking out further if you feel it may float your boat - it floats mine! Their website is here and their facebook can be found at www.facebook.com/DWALLmusic... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

DRACONIAN…'SOVRAN’

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 19th October 2015

Founded in 1994 in the Swedish Säffle, Draconian gradually refined their sound of melodic Death Metal with elements of Black Metal, becoming more ponderous and doomy over time. Draconian's sound has remained steadfast to its origins however, in particular, the powerful vocal growls of Anders Jakobsson, one of the band's defining and most unique features, along with newcomer female vocalist Heike Langhans sensitively interwoven melodies. This is Draconian's sixth studio album, set to be released on Napalm Records October 30th 2015, and immediately convinces the listener with its Beauty and the Beast-esque vocal contrasts, striking accents, and threatening moods. Bloomin’ awesome!! And an album like this confirms that Metal cannot only just be heavy, it can be 100% beautiful too - just listen to ‘Rivers Between Us’ for confirmation of that statement! If you like Draconian‘s music to date, you will like this, period! Superb! 9/10 (Dave)

DUST IN MIND…’NEVER LOOK BACK’

(darkTunes Music Group) Reviewed 2nd October 2015

With this their recently released debut album , the female-lead five piece band from Strasbourg promises not only to fulfil the highest of expectations expected of them, but to surpass them. Catchy melodies coupled with the most dissonant of riffs, that might be reminiscent of HYPOCRISY are presented here, and refined to a mixture of hardness and beauty by the angelic and vigorous voice of the female lead singer JEN. And let us not forger DAM, her male counterpart at the microphone, causing those metal fans to bang their heads with his dynamic growls. This is 11 tracks of pounding melodic metal at its finest, the two vocalists complimenting each other very well. And although we can compliment the vocalists, we must not forget the remainder of the band who throw in a sterling performance. Tracks like the guitar and synth driven ‘I Love As I Hate’ that hammers along like a Japanese bullet train, the cracking title track ‘Never Look Back‘, and the corking number ‘Give Up’ with its catchy chorus as just three examples. And for a taster, listen and watch the video to a another massive track from the album, ‘Frozen Smiles’ here. Awesome!! One thing with this music, it is dynamically heavy, it is melodic and it sure is metal, no sugary ballads here, but I do love the occasional subtle use of synths, that takes the music to another level. Well and truly recommended… 9/10 (Dave)

DALRIADA...'Áldás'

(Nail Records) Reviewed 11th September 2015

Dalriada fronted by the female voice of Laura Binder is a prolific Folk Metal band from Hungary and this is their eigth release, their first album appearing 11 years ago. And the limited edition of this album is a double album of which CD2 is a complilation featuring 15 tracks from the band. Overall and across the two cds lasting more than 2 hours, this is a very good package of catchy Folk Metal sung in the band's native tongue, featuring both female and by & large clean male vox. Bloomin' awesome stuff, just listen to 'Hamu es Gyasz', so catchy! Then get your dancing shoes out for 'Futobetyar', a foot tapper if ever there was one. The band combines so well the use of heavy guitars and drums together with flute, violin and bagpipes! If Folk Metal is the type of music that floats your boat, then check this package out and then order here... 9/10 (Dave)

DARKYRA BLACK…’FOOL’

(Cargo Distribution) Reviewed 2nd September 2015

Darkyra Black fronted by Gina Bafile, is a Metal band from Australia that is fast making their mark within the Symphonic Rock & Metal music scene. This is their second album, and is a three part concept about the people seen coming and going at the fountain of wishes, the fountain built for kings and queens of the past. The songs are a behind the scenes look into their lives and their foolish obsessions. There is a strong cinematic feel to this record blending Symphonic Prog with Epic Metal. And as a consequence, this cd is flippin' awesome! The album begins with the first section 'Fools of the Past', which is centred around the indiscretions of royalty. Kicking this section off with 'Pt2 Behind Closed Doors', and I do love the Middle Eastern feel to this track, before it blasts out of the speakers in epic and the aforementioned cinematic fashion. ‘Who Are They To Judge’ and ‘Truth Or Dare’ (the latter featuring the bass work of 'demolition man', Tony Dolan (M-Pire of Evil, x Venom)) are pounding melodic numbers, I hear a Hammond organ too on the former, and Gina’s powerful and intimidating voice powers these awesome songs along. Indeed, Gina’s vocal prowess continues to keep this album well and truly on the tracks, together I must add with fine musicianship from her band. ‘Of Fools and Gold’ closes the first section (‘Fools of the Past’), this is more of a mid-tempo number with progressive influences. ‘Where Will I Be’ and the catchy ‘Bleed’ constitutes the middle section of the concept, the former almost flirting with Folk Metal territory, while ‘Bleed’ features George Boussounis from Greece doing his finest Elderich impersonation :) The songs in the closing section titled 'Faces by the Fountain', are from the observations made of the different individuals seen at the fountain, and the last couple of songs, 'Fountain of Frozen Dreams' and closing number 'Pt1. Behind Closed Doors' are a summary that ties everything together. This album is a work of art from Gina and her band, a near faultless piece of musical magic! Check out the website: www.darkyra.com/ - top drawer stuff and well recommended..9.5/10 (Dave).

DIVIDES…’BROKENTOOTH’

(Self Release) Reviewed 27th August 2015

Leaving Alaska and settling in Portland in Oregon in 2013, Divides are setting out to set the world on fire! The release of this their debut album, will show the industry that seems full of female rock & metal acts at the moment, that they are not just making up the numbers. Fronted by CJ Marie (CJ Brunke) who also takes care of the keys department, they mean business! With similarities to Fireflight and bands of that ilk, Divides throw at us a cacophony of music to shatter the eardrums, particularly in tracks like ‘Sirenium Scopuli (Sirens)’ and ‘Drag The River’, but maintaining a complete melodic sensibility throughout the golden nuggets that they throw at us. The first single off the album, the gutsy 'Echoes Fade' features Chris James from the band Defeat of the Low, and he joins CJ Marie on vocals, and this is just one good track among a pile of them. If you feel that this may be your cuppa tea, then check out their Facebook that can be found here, and may be consider a purchase… 8.25/10 (The Nugget)

DIMLIGHT...'THE LOST CHAPTERS'

(Five Starr Records) Reviewed 26th August 2015

Dimlight’s music can be characterized as Symphonic Death Metal. Although the Band was formed in 2006 it was almost three years before they released their first full length album called 'Obtenebration'. Around mid-2010, the band started working on new material and in 2012 released their second studio album called ‘Psychosynthesis'. In December 2014 Dimlight finished the production of this their third studio album, and this is another awesome album for us to review. There is a concept running through this cd telling the story of a bloodthirsty evil Egyptian Goddess and the destruction she causes in her path. Nasty growly vocals and angelic female vocals compliments of new vocalist Eva Fourlanou, are wrapped within a tasty blend of orchestral dark metal mixed with various musical elements, making this a release to devour your taste buds (or more appropriately your ear drums!). The album features special guest appearances from the Story Teller Jean Baptiste (Randomwalk), Maya (Meden Agan), Maria-Melissanthi Routi (Kinetic) and Alfred Shtuni and is well recommended to all and sundry. This is premier league stuff from a band that has toured extensively in Europe having shared the stage with Arch Enemy, Lacuna Coil, Epica, Delain, Xandria, Vision of Atlantis, Leaves Eyes and many more to boot. Get the record asap, well worth it!...9.5/10 (The Nugget)

COFFEE POT DRIVE...'EDGE OF TOWN'

(Self Released) Reviewed 22nd August 2015

Having toured with the likes of Status Quo, Uriah Heep, Goo Goo Dolls and even REO Speedwagon, Blues/Rock band Coffee Pot Drive are proving that they are a force to be reckoned with. Guitarist Boanecker and front woman Lady Oracle make it perfectly clear, that “all this was perfect preparation for Coffeepot”, and it cannot be denied that the band are ready to hit the big time. And after having listened to the first track on the album after the brief intro, singer Lady Oracle has one helluva bluesy style voice, well showcased in this first track proper 'Fallback'. Further highlights among the 12 infectious tunes include the gospel sounding 'Bayou', the foot tapping 'Hey Suzy' (also a single), the reggae feel of 'Change', the catchy ballad 'I Love You' and the quirky 'Glass In My Mellow'. With over 5 different countries being represented in the band's line up, there is an eclectic mix of different genres and styles that help craft the Coffee Pot Drive sound. The album was produced by Andy Brook (triple nomination by Music Producers Guild for UK Producer of the Year, Breakthrough Producer & Breakthrough Engineer of 2013) and recorded at the legendary ARSIS Studios, owned and lent to the band by Status Quo front man Francis Rossi. This is not metal, it has in fact been labelled "dirty soul", but whatever, this is rather kool! Listen to the single 'Hey Suzy' here.. 8/10 (Dave)

JASMINE CAIN...'WHITE NOISE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 19th August 2015

Jasmine Cain's music is raw and real. She is a modern day performer in an old school package. Raised on classic rock and metal, she is all attitude with a gypsy soul. Her songs are written from personal experience as well as stories heard from the road, like a true Highway Prophet. Sounding like Halestorm, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Soundgarden, Flyleaf and the like, you should now have got the drift. 11 tracks on this her 5th release, of hard rockin' music that overflows with melody. There are some stonking moments here, just check out the melodic belter 'Break Even' and the power ballad 'Hole' as a couple of examples from several examples. With special guest appearances by Jeff LaBar of Cinderella and Ralph Saenz (Michael Starr) of Steel Panther among many others, this is worth looking into further. A rather cool album I have to say from a down to earth gal - Facebook here.. 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

CRIMSON SUN…’TOWARDS THE LIGHT’

(Maple Metal Records) Reviewed 5th August 2015

I am not totally sure what the Finnish people put in their water, but Finland and indeed Scandinavia as a whole, seems to be very adept at producing some very good bands. Now we can add Crimson Sun to that list. Hailing from Kotka in Finland, female-fronted quintet CRIMSON SUN fronted by Sini Seppälä, play on this their debut full length album, modern melodic metal with an in your face attitude, and just subtle touches of electronica. Founded in 2001 by guitarist Joni Junnila, the band went through various member changes before settling down with the quintet that recorded their EP ‘The Border’ in 2013. Into 2015 now, and on this album, there are some awesome and catchy tracks to digest, listen to the title track as just one example, totally mind blowing. The music is all very melodic and mid to up tempo, no soppy ballads. The record was recorded last Fall at Deep Noise Studios, Kouvola, Fi with Saku Moilanen, and the mastering was done by Jacob Hansen (Epica, Volbeat, Amaranthe, Primal Fear) in Denmark, and is well recommended by us here at Ravenheart Music, especially if you like bands like ONE WITHOUT (one example) – was released Monday 3rd August... 8.75/10 (Dave)

CRIMSON CHRYSALIS…’ENRAPTURED’

(Musik and Film) Reviewed 21st July 2015

This has to be one of the best albums of this type of music (Symphonic Rock) that one will listen to this year, and any other year come to think of it. Crimson Chrysalis is led by the captivating and incredible vocals of South African lass Rene Van Den Berg. And this album it has to be said is near perfection in every sense of the word. Without further ado, let us cut to the chase - ‘Soul Stalker’ gets things going rather splendidly while the amazingly wonderful ‘Elegy’ is a collaboration with Rainover’s Andrea Casanova. ‘Sacred Vow’ is one of my fave tracks ever. I am basically lost for words here, so much emotion and passion being poured into one song - to me it screams “TOTAL CLASSIC”. And to be honest, that could be said for every one of the 12 numbers here. The Symphonic sounding and upbeat ‘Burning Fire with Fire’, features American vocalist Jessica Mercy from Anaria and is another favourite of mine, while further heartfelt emotion is poured into tracks like ‘Enlightenment’, the upbeat ‘Raven’ (a song about Africa), the classic ‘Virgin Death’ and the penultimate track 'Grace'. With closing track ‘Poison’, the Alice Cooper classic being given the Crimson Chrysalis treatment in such an awesome fashion it leaves me speechless, it has become blatantly obvious that the seeds were being sown with the band’s previous release ‘Crimson Passion Cry’. Those seeds have now broken the surface and produced an amazing and incredible piece of music in ‘Enraptured’. If you are a total metal head, this may not be your cuppa tea, but for anybody that appreciates good music featuring Rock mixed with the Classics and the Symphonics, this is the biz and an utter classic in the making. My mind is made up and this may be a strong statement, this has to be one of the best and most perfect releases of any genre this year, and one of the best albums I have ever listened to, enough said!.. 10/10 (Dave)

DEMIST...'GUILT and PLEASURES'

(Self Release) Reviewed 14th July 2015

There are Symphonic Metal recordings that are damn good, and there are some that are damn excellent. Let us just say that this record slips into the latter category. Demist is a Gothic Symphonic Metal band from Belgrade, fronted by Dragica Maletic (and with a bassist that looks like a wrestler). They throw at the discerning listener 10 tracks of awesome Symphonic Metal. There is little to fault on the album as it all pounds along rather nicely thank you, and will sure appeal to fans of this style of music, no doubt about that. There are some great songs on this album and they are too numerous to mention. So let me just cut to the chase - check out their website at www.demistband.com/news/ and track the album down. Rather cool and well recommended... 9/10 (The Nugget)

DREAMSLAVE…’REST IN PHANTASY’

(Self Release) Reviewed 10th July 2015

Dreamslave fronted by a young lady named Emma come from Lyon in France, and play a style of Symphonic/Operatic Power Metal, with occasional growls from Cedric who also takes care of the keytar dept. There are 12 tracks here on this their debut full length, of consistent upbeat Symphonic Metal to keep those taste buds (or should I say eardrums?) happy. There is some corking music on this release and is well recommended for our readers. Check out pounding tracks like the dance floor feel of ‘Masquerade’ , the Symphonic Metal of ‘Doomsday’, the heaviness of ‘Wishes of Revenge’ and Emma’s awesome operatic vocals on the thumping ‘Angel Requiem’ , these being just four tracks from a great array of music on this album. Then in addition to that, let us get bouncing around our living rooms to the track ‘Pirate’s Anthem’ - brilliant. Dreamslave’s Facebook is here, the artwork is as cool as the music and the band’s image, so check it all out… 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

CHAOS MAGIC...S/T

(Frontiers) Reviewed 9th July 2015

CHAOS MAGIC is the new alliance between one of my fave Finnish songwriter/producers, Timo Tolkki (formerly of STRATOVARIUS) and Chilean singer Caterina Nix. Caterina's career started by singing lead vocals for the Chilean metal band AGHONYA, with whom she opened shows for such bands as AFTER FOREVER, EDGUY and WITHIN TEMPTATION. I have also had the honour of having spoken with Caterina on the phone in the past (who needs Skype). This album to be honest is totally awesome and to my ears is a total must buy. There are 11 tracks here of some of the best melodic Symphonic Metal you will hear this year, and any other year come to think of it. Bombastically awesome and if you do not believe me, just listen to the outrageously catchy opener 'I'm Alive' (video), that being followed by the equally amazing and catchy 'Dangerous Game'. Two tracks in and I am breathless at what I am hearing. 'One Drop Of Blood' is next and what can I say?, three songs and I am hooked! And it just gets better with tracks like 'Serephim', the power ballad 'From The Stars' (great chorus with choral backing) and the bouncy Delain sounding 'A Little Too Late'. Well so far that is every track on this album, the remaining five are equally as good, with not a filler to be found, although the second half of the record has a couple of slower more atmospheric tracks. The 'Chaos Magic' album was written, performed and produced by Tolkki to develop the vocal talent of the awesome Caterina, showing a diverse side of Timo's musical talents. And he sure has created a winner! This is good, very good, every song having more hooks than a Scottish fishing fleet, and is a must buy as a consequence...9.75/10 (Dave)

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