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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS C-D

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DIABULUS IN MUSICA...'ARGIA'

(Napalm) Reviewed 1st April 2014

Get ready for Symphonic Metal filled with emotion and magic! This Spanish Metal crew throw at us their third release, and like a good wine, they get better with age. Let's cut to the chase shall we, and I firstly should say that bands like Epica and maybe Sirenia had better watch out! After an atmospheric opener 'Et Resurrexit (Libera Me)', the band hurl at us 'From The Embers' which not only features the angelic vocals of founding member Zuberoa Aznárez, we have the grunts of Gorka Elso. But if you thought that the whole album was going to offer a beauty & beast style, that is not the case as any grunts and growls are kept to a minimum on this album. So early in the record, one of my faves comes to the fore, the track 'Inner Force', a catchy commercial number making good use of choir and keys, the keys giving the track a near electro feel. Next we have the splendid Symphonic arrangements of 'Furia de Libertad' featuring Ailyn from Sirenia. The awesome music continues with tracks like the Folk like 'Maitagarri' with further awesome choral arrangements, the thumping 'Spoilt Vampire' featuring the grunts of Gorka, the rather nice ballad 'Eternal Breeze' and 'Encounter At Chronos' Maze' featuring Thomas Vikstrom, best known for his work with Candlemass and Stormwind. 'Argia' is a testament to DIABULUS IN MUSICA‘s extraordinary ability to merge metallic heaviness with symphonic catchiness - well recommended!.... 9.25/10 (Dave)

DELAIN...'THE HUMAN CONTRADICTION'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 23rd March 2014

I have followed Delain since their conception and to be honest, since that day, I knew that there was something about this band that had the 'X Factor'. Since the day that their debut 'Lucidity' was released back in September 2006, I have followed them with utmost interest, and to be honest, not only are they a fave of mine, they are one of the rare bands that I have seen live on more than three occasions, money well spent! Here we are in 2014, and this is the band's fourth studio release (not including 'Interlude'), so how do we feel here at Ravenheart Music about this latest offering? In a nutshell - "awesome". 'Here Comes The Vultures' kicks the 9 track album off, and this is a glorious Symphonic Metal track, with 'Your Body Is A Battleground' maintaining the awesome momentum of the opener, and featuring the dolcet and recognisable tones of none other than Marco Hietala (NIGHTWISH) on guest male vocals - superb! 'Stardust' raises the hairs on the back of your neck with a massive catchy chorus, while 'My Masquerade' is another catchy number reminding me a little of Beseech! 'Tell Me, Machinist' features another guest appearance, this time from grunter George Oosthoek from ORPHANAGE, and this is one of the heavier numbers from the album, but still hideously catchy. Faves of mine (although to be frank, they are all faves) follow, 'Sing To Me' and 'Army Of Dolls', the former again sees Marco from Nightwish popping up, I just love this guy!! 'Lullaby' is another melodic pounding number, while closer 'The Tragedy Of The Commons' did make me wonder whether Guy Fawkes had finally put us out of our misery here in the UK - seriously a number featuring the guest vocals of Alissa White-Gluz (THE AGONIST and now ARCH ENEMY) and a fine way to close the LP. Charlotte Wessels is an awesome singer, although her vocal style is limited to a kinda poppy range if that makes sense. But overall, this record is a very good anthemic Symphonic Metal album with massive hooks and catchy choruses, and shows how this band has matured over the years. Great stuff from all involved including keyboardist Martijn Westerholt who drives this album along with his awesome use of keys and synths. Needless to say, this album is a must buy, period, so get it!.. 9.75/10 (Dave)

DYING PASSION...'AMPLIFY'

(Epidemie Records) Reviewed 28th Feb 2014

I reviewed a short while ago, Dying Passion's most recent release 'Transient'. 'Amplify' released in 2012 was also sent my way so I thought I would do a review of what is another rather excellent album from this band. Lead singer Zuzana Jelínková again excels in the vocal department as the band deliver 10 tracks of what I can describe I suppose as Alternative Doom Metal, with a subtle Progressive under current. The opener 'Path To The Land Of Visions' is by far the longest track on the cd at over 8 minutes with next up, the equally as good 'Thousand Eyes' maintaining the mid tempo paced momentum. 'My Best Friend' is simply 6+ minutes of awesomeness, with further fave numbers being the atmospheric 'See The Bottom', the heavy 'Illusion', 'A Strange Something' and the closer 'Ci To Husicky' which is sung in Czech by Eliška Jelínková, who was six years old when the song was recorded. I assume she is Zuzana's daughter. I have always liked this band and I like their style of music - heavy, complex and atmospheric but never too over powering. If you have not got this rather slick release, go on, treat yourselves...8.5/10 (Dave)

DIVINO DISTURBO...'OP I: CHOOSE YOUR SIDE'

(Art Gates Records) Reviewed 21st Feb 2014

Yay- Classically influenced metal from Spain and what a scorcher this is. Bassist Matias started composing the music to this album in 2010 and after a hard time getting musicians together, Divino Disturbo was eventually born. Fronted by Raquel, the album kicks off with an orchestral intro, and you could be forgiven for thinking you have put a classical cd onto the player. That leads perfectly into the thumping 'Lux Aeterna', that combines Power Metal with a wonderful choral arrangement. A wonderful harpsichord arrangement greets 'Nirmia' and the start to this record would leave a Japanese bullet training standing in the blocks - awesome! 'Morrigan' is a cool intrumental while the pace refuses to let up with further powerful classically influenced numbers like 'Eternal Spring', the six minute plus 'The Wolf Song', the acoustic version of 'Morrigan' (with lyrics) and the closer 'Oniria (Prelude to Op II)'. Various influences spring to mind and are listed by the band including Nightwish - Rhapsody - Dimmu Borgir - Symphony X - WA Mozart - LV Beethoven - JS Bach amongst others. Divino Disturbo use metal as a way to reach music itself. They are not able to choose just one style among all sub-genres in which they fit. Of course their music has elements from others sub-genres such as Symphonic Metal, Neoclassical Metal, Power Metal... but their main influence is classical music. Okay, this release may take a few plays to get into but it is well recommended by the Ravenheart team - their Facebook is here... 8.5/10 (Dave)

DARKYRA...'DRAGON TEARS'

(Self Released) Reviewed 6th February 2014

'Dragon Tears' is the first and rather amazing Darkyra album being an 11 track concept album based on a Gothic interpretation of a Geisha tale that ends in tragedy - love, loss, lust, betrayal and revenge. The music is a fine blend of Symphonic Metal, Gothic Metal, Epic Metal and Progressive Rock offering up an overall cinematic feel together with influences from Japanese Petatonic Music. But what about Darkyra herself? She is from Fremantle, a city in Western Australia, and her music should grace the music collection of any music fan into any of the above mentioned styles. Vocally, to my ears she has her own musical style, although she will no doubt be comapared to other female fronted Gothic acts, but to be honest, this is slightly different, fairly unique and highly original. All eleven numbers here are different but are very fluent and offer up musical highlights galore, too numerous to mention. However, if Dakyra Black was based in Europe, she would be creating tidal waves of Tsunami proportions, believe you me. The numbers that do hit me upon numerous listens nonetheless are 'Lullaby of Death', the awesome 'Tears By Candlelight' and the metallic 'Kiss Of The Dragon', but overall, everything here is damn good! And ensure you keep the cd in the player to the VERY end. To summarise, Darkyra's music is Dark, Passionate and Edgy and demonstrating fine vocal prowess too. Find out more about Darkyra and the 'Dragon Tears' story on her website: www.darkyra.com/. The album was co-produced by Garry King, Darkyra Black and George Boussounis, through Online Recording Masters in Athens and La Foret Groupe in France. This is a well crafted release and is well recommended by us here at Ravenheart Music.. 9/10 (Dave)

DYING PASSION...'TRANSIENT'

(Epidemie Records/X Production) Reviewed 9th January 2014

Progressive/Alternative Rock band Dying Passion fronted by the at times sensual vocal style of Zuzana Jelínková, hail from Šumperk in the Czech Republic and this so happens to be their 7th release. And as a consequence, they have a pedigree to be proud of. This album is a 14 track epic that would appeal to many fans out there. There is lot on this record to take in, but highlights to my ears include the heavy and upbeat sounding 'Highlight', 'Futile' with its awesome intro, the metallic 'Afraid of Dusk', the equally metallic 'Intoxicating' the massive sounding 'Vertical Edge' and the rather beautiful 'Enlightenment (Goodbye Wasted Life)'. I have liked Dying Passion since their early days, and I love their sound and their use of guitars & synths that add an atmospheric feel to the soundscapes offered, not forgetting to mention the awesome vocals of Zuzana of course. I would recommend this record to all and sundry - it is damn good, the band's website is at www.dyingpassion.com/ where you can buy this and other albums, 8.5/10 (Dave)

CRYSTAL VIPER...'POSSESSION'

(AFM Records) Reviewed 25th November 2013

CRYSTAL VIPER is a Female Fronted Traditional Heavy Metal act from Poland. After doing 4 full length studio albums, a bunch of singles and occasional compilation releases, Crystal Viper strike back with their latest effort 'Possession'. The album is in-fact a concept album about a young girl named Julia, where the movie-like story gets an unexpected twist, and surprises the listener with every single song. The band also managed to thank their most loyal supporters and their fans in a very special way, and as a consequence invited them to take part in the recording session of the album. This in turn resulted in having more than 50 different persons sending in their "screams". This album offers up 10 tracks of scorchingly hot and thundering Heavy Metal that even includes a cover of the Riot song 'Thundersteel' as a bonus track. Yep, this is good and really enjoyable with fave tracks a plenty including the rather cool to my ears 'You Will Die You Will Burn', and confirms that Crystal Viper are a force to be reckoned with within the genre...released Dec 13th and well recommended! 8/5/10 (Dave)

DISMAL... 'GIOSTRA di VAPORE'

(Dreamcell11) Reviewed 23rd October 2013

Dismal is an Italian gothic/alternative band formed in 1997. This will in-fact be their 5th release and the sound offered up by the band can be best described as a fusion of Classical and Symphonic music, where electronic sounds are mixed with waltz and tango. Indeed, a very original diversion from the standard gothic music architecture. Fronted by Rossana Landi who also plays double bass, as you have possibly established from the description above, this is a little different from your normal Gothic fare. Tentatively putting this on my cd player, the record starts off with 'The Four Vibrations' this being a haunting piano led piece of music that I am rather impressed with, before it builds into a crescendo after 3 minutes or so with the female vocals of Rossana kicking in. This then siegues beautifully into 'Giostra di Vapore' the title track, with a kinda strong hip hop beat and another massive tune full of totally awesome haunting atmospherics. Despite my initial hesitations, I am really liking this. Third one up 'll ballo degli Obesi' maintains the haunting laidback theme of the opening two tracks, Rossana's vocals I would like to add are simply stunning, and great choral backdrop too - this is good! The 8 minute plus 'Microcosm&Macrocosm' follows and is again simply wonderful as is 'Eden', which is soley an instrumental being quirky at times. 'Vimana' has an occasional Middle Eastern feel about it, but is another beautiful number with violin, chorus and more or less everything else. The closing duo of 'Mélisse (part.2)' and 'One Step In The Dark' are equally as good, bringing to an end a rather good recording. Not to be confused with the Italian neo-classical band of the same name, the dark sound of Dismal brings the listener to a limbo which seems like a bizarre “mental carnival” where rationality and madness are grazed constantly. This is likeable, unsusual, stunning, laidback and remarkably beautiful - released 9th December and well recommended. Great artwork too.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

CORONATUS...'RECREATIO CARMINIS'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 4th October 2013

CORONATUS is a double or indeed now a triple female fronted symphonic metal combo from Germany. The girls are original vocalist Carmen Lorch (who was the Soprano voice on the first three albums having returned for this release), with Ada Flechtner and Mareike Makosch. The unusual combination of three very talented singers with different singing styles on this their 5th album, has added new dimensions to the Gothic Metal genre. The genius of interplay between the girls is the basis for hard, but catchy melodies, duets, and compositions. Vocals are sung both in english and German, with additional latin elements, and when you add in the choral parts too, this makes for a very good release. Needless to say, they do not stray too far from their chosen formula of catchy Gothic Metal and why not when it is this good. There are 13 tracks on offer here including the numbers 'Fernes Land' and 'Sie Stehen am Weg', both featuring Carmen in this instant, these tracks in their original format appearing on their last album 'Terra Incognita'. No faves or highlights here as the album is consistently good throughout - released 25th October and well recommended...8.75/10 (Dave)

COLD EMBRACE...'THE FALL OF SILENCE'

(Demo Recording) Reviewed 2nd October 2013

In 2011, vocalist Sascha and Keyboards player Jasper met on a site where you can find other musicians. They both wanted to form a band and as a consequence, Cold Embrace was formed. Fast forward to 2013, and it seems the band has the line up it wants and has actively started writing and practising music and dreaming of performances, gigs, tours, debut releases etc. They have even recorded this 9 track demo that turned up in my mail box a few days ago. The nine numbers give the listener a rough idea of the musical route the band wishes to take, which is mainly a Gothic Symphonic Rock/Metal path, with subtle Folk and Progressive tendancies. There are male vocals/grunts provided by guitarist Iwan which are not overly done and compliments the vocals of Sascha rather nicely. I must say that even though this is a demo, this band is showing some potential and I am quite taken by what I hear on the album. Okay, there is nothing here that hasn't been done before, but let us not take anything away from the band. And another plus, they are from Holland, and a fair number of bands from that part of the world have a habit of doing rather well. Fave numbers include the opener 'Silence Of My Heart', the catchy 'Speed Of Life' and the mid tempo 'Circling Shade'. This a reasonable effort from this band - their Facebook is here... 8/10 (Dave)

COLD SIGHT...'A/H1N1'

(Self Release/Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 24th September 2013

Russia is sure becoming a country to look out for when it comes to some decent female fronted music. And we can add to that list the band Cold Sight who hail from St.Petersburg. Fronted by the awesome voice of 18 year old Natalia Zolotova and singing in her native tongue, this release is damn good stuff. There are very occasional male vocals too, some clean some harsh, but this further compliments the striking music offered up by the band. There is a lot of variety within the nine tracks and I love every moment of it, the album primarily dealing with social and political problems. The title track is an instrumental affair, but a very good one to boot and even though it runs in at almost 11 minutes, it maintains the listener's interest throughout. I am desperately trying to pick highlights from the record but damn it, I can't, the whole thing is Symphonic Rock/Metal brilliance! So brilliant in-fact, that I have shelled out some of my hard earned cash to import some copies of this album from Russia. Some of our political leaders seem to want to cold shoulder the Russians, but I want to embrace them! So dip your hands into your pockets and treat yourselves from our store, you will not be disappointed for the 10 GB pounds spent! Here is the band's website nonetheless - www.coldsight.net/.. 9.75/10 (Dave)

CRYOSHELL...S/T

(The Leaders Records) Reviewed 18th July 2013

The debut S/T cd by Danish Band Cryoshell has been given a worldwide release by The Leaders Records (http://www.theleaders.eu/) with the addition of two bonus tracks. And I am sure that Phil will not mind if I use the bulk of his original review that he did a while back now. The band had an unusual genesis, gorgeous singer Christine Lorentzen, keys man Mikkel Maltha and guitarist Kasper Søderlund, and they originally came together to create the music for Lego’s Bionicle, before turning into a fully fledged group. But this could not be further from the normal kid’s TV fare, Cryoshell are a full on, bona fide, powerful symphonic gothic metal band, a mix of Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil and Evanescence. Christine has a magnificent voice that reminds me of a mix of Cristina Scabbia and a rocked up Shania Twain. The huge production is by Jacob Hansen who has a list of credits that would fill this page, including Delain, Pythia, and The Storm. They set their stall out with the ultra commercial, hook laden symphonic pop metal of ‘Creeping In My Soul’ featuring a smidgen of groovy rapping, before they show their other side with ‘Bye Bye Babylon’ built around a killer eastern flavoured guitar riff. ‘Trigger’ is an immense burner with wonderful acoustic and electric guitar, followed by the pounding ‘Feed’, with another superb chorus, and the colossal, soaring, gothic ‘Closer to the Truth’, it is very difficult to believe they did the music for Lego. Next up are a brace of melodic rock/metal songs, the chiming ‘Calling’ and the emotive ‘The Room’, before they ramp it up again for the stomping headbanger ‘Come To My Heaven’. The moody dramatic ‘Murky’ has yet more fabulous keyboard motifs, and the achingly beautiful ballad ‘No More Words’, with glorious rippling piano arpeggios and lush orchestration will leave you breathless. Then there are the two bonus numbers, 'Gravity Hurts' is an awesome slower brooding number with an almighty chorus, while the poppy and very catchy 'Break Out' finishes this album - both these tracks featuring a certain Tine Midtgaard on vocals, while Christine took maternity leave. Not quite sure what the band are doing now in 2013, but this is quite simply surely one of the best debuts for years - they have the songs, the sound and the look and could make the USA their own with this record alone. I heartily recommend a visit to their You Tube, their videos are outstanding. All I can say is this remains a staggering utterly jaw dropping release - 10/10 (Reviewed by Phil, June 2010 - additional later bits added by Dave).

CRASHDOLLZ...S/T CD

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th July 2013

In my heyday (did I ever have one?), I liked The Sex Pistols, The Ramones etc etc and I liked the no nonsense Punk attitude these bands portrayed. Now we have CrashDollz from Detroit, to grab us by the short and curlies and drag us screaming through the streets, letting us know that real Punk is still alive, well and kicking ass. There is no mercy shown here by the twelve tracks on this record, and with titles like 'Dumpster Punk', 'Novocaine', 'Bad Taste Barbie', the rather awesome 'US Punk Bombs' and 'Female Anarchy', that should give you a taster as to what to expect on this record. I would also imagine that their live shows offer a taste of female anarchy - there are two girls in this four piece combo by the way. CrashDollz being fronted by the awesome Nikki Darling with Rachel Rekkit who lets rip on guitars, and boy does she let rip too! If you think this music died years ago, then check out CrashDollz who will prove you totally wrong! Punk-Metal is alive and kicking so check them out here - www.crashdollz.bandcamp.com/ ...8/10 (Dave)

CURVATURE...'Be{lie}ve'

(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 14th June 2013

Reviewing a cd on the Ravenheart label is not easy, because it is on my label, and of course I may show bias towards the band concerned. But lets do it folks! UK band Curvature is well known on the scene, I have seen them live on more than one occasion, and I have known guitarist Matt Jones for some while now. As stated rather nicely on their Facebook page, the band play a kind of Symphonic/Gothic/Synth/Pop/Metal which has a sort of commercial appeal that should entice a wide range of listeners. This four track EP serves up a taster as to what the band offers, and it is not a bad little offering from this Buckinghamshire based combo. Rather good I hasten to add, and for anybody that has already seen the band live, this is a good addition to one's cd collection, plus for anybody that wants to hear some cool synth laced Pop/Metal, this is the biz. The vocals on this EP were recorded by ex singer Lisa Swatton, but there is a new singer waiting in the wings. The band's Facebook is here ... 8.5/10 (Dave)

CADAVERIA...'HORROR METAL - UNDEAD EDITION'

(Bakerteam Records) Reviewed

After five years of absence from the Metal scene, Gothic/Black Metal band Cadaveria released their new album 'Horror Metal' in 2012, collecting tons of enthusiastic reviews worldwide and touring relentlessly in support of it. Bakerteam Records and Cadaveria will celebrate the success of the album with this Special Edition of 'Horror Metal'. 'Horror Metal - Undead Edition' which I am reviewing here, features two unreleased bonus tracks, 'Whispers Of Sin (Ancestral Remix)' and 'Hypnotic Psychosis (Chaotic Remix)'. Being somewhat unfamiliar with the previous output from the band, I was interested to give this cd a spin to hear what I have been missing in the past. From what I hear, it is plainly obvious that the leading lady with whom the band takes their name has the ability to growl like a demented monster one moment, and then sing in a classically trained style the next. I do not have any of their previous releases to make comparisons, but this record I suppose will appeal to many metal fans, those that like their music rather more extreme, to those that like their music a little more commercial with melody, many of the songs on the album include both of these attributes. On the down side, I did begin to find my attention wandering at times as some of the songs can begin to sound a little samey. Three of my fave numbers however are the melodic 'The Night's Theatre', the bouncy 'The Days of the After and Behind' (great title) and the pounding 'Hypnotic Psychosis'. And the two bonus tracks aren't bad either :) This record may not be quite my cuppa tea, but to be honest, I do think this is rather good, and I feel that they could give both Arch Enemy and Cradle of Filth a run for their money with what Cadaveria has released here. Well worth checking out if you are into the above bands coupled with a good dose of Horror Metal to boot... 8/10 (Dave)

DOLLS...'SECRET SULK'

(Self Released) Reviewed 7th May 2013

SECRET SULK, the hotly anticipated debut album from DOLLS (Aka Nikki Awesome) has hit Ravenheart Towers here in the SW of the English Midlands. Nikki (FaceBook) came to London from Toronto after splitting with Warner Music Canada, and the result of that is a self released album that seems to go down well with my ears as the sun shines very brightly outside. Haunting atmospheric Syntho Pop may be one way to describe the music of Dolls. Indeed, the album (written and produced by the self centred singer - songwriter) features recurring themes of money, sex and violence, aiming to deliver a darker, dirtier pop for an evolved listener; bubblegum bisected by industrial synthesizers bringing to mind the electro scene of the 80s. I love the sultry, sensual near hypnotic vocal style of Nikki too, that comes to the fore on tracks like 'Enemy Lines' and 'Tasty', while there are more upbeat floor filler tracks like 'Now Now' and 'Erase You'. A fave of mine however, is the catchy 'One On One'. Imagine the music of Dolls being the result of a threesome between Madonna, Depeche Mode and Joy Division, and that may give the prospective listener an idea as to where Dolls are at. Not for the metal heads I am sure, but a rather enjoyable listen nonetheless.. 8/10 Dave

CELESTIAL RUIN...'THE AWAKENING'

(Self Released) Reviewed 29th April 2013

Celestial Ruin come to us from Vancouver in Canada, and provide the listener with a good dosage of epic hard rockin' Melodic Metal with lyrical themes drawn from fantasy and horror, sometimes implying deeper meanings, sometimes just celebrating the subject matter. As their bio states, their music is styled along European Symphonic Metal ideas, but with a decidedly North American feel, and very good it is too I hasten to add. Featuring members from 3 different countries, Celestial Ruin's sound combines heavy rock rhythms and riffs with catchy, singable melodies and rich symphonic textures. And the lady that fronts this awesome band is Larissa Dawn, who has a fine set of lungs within her, her vocal style more rock than operatic, although she does occasionally flirt with the operatic vocal style, the awesome 'Asylum' being one such track. In-fact the word "awesome" could be used several times here as there are some humdinger tracks like the rocking 'Apocalypse', the superb 'Goddess', the rather nice keyboard orientated 'The Hunted' and the atmospheric piano and string led ballad 'Underground', that closes the album rather nicely. Having listened to this album a few times, I found it to be a grower and indeed is a very good release overall. Hear for yourself HERE ....8.5/10 (Dave)

DELAIN...'INTERLUDE'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 15th April 2013

Dutch Symphonic Metallers DELAIN thank their loyal supporters by presenting them with a special release. 'Interlude' released 3rd May is a fantastic blend of brand-new songs, special versions & mixes of popular DELAIN tracks, covers (e.g. 'Smalltown Boy' or 'Such A Shame') and the beautiful single 'Are You Done With Me'. Thanks to the new mix, this well-known anthem shines with a new-found splendor. The new songs 'Breathe On Me' and 'Collars and Suits' are great catchy numbers that typify what Charlotte and Delain do so well, and if these songs are an example as to what the band will be releasing in the future, then I cannot wait! The covers are ace, the ballad version of 'We Are The Others' hits the spot, and the six live numbers are totally enjoyable. The album includes a special bonus DVD featuring exclusive live footage and all clips from the band’s career. 'Interlude' is not only a must for loyal DELAIN fans, but also for those who have not so far experienced the music by Charlotte Wessels and her band members. It is the perfect introduction to the world of DELAIN and the starting point to an emotional and bombastic journey! Lovely! 9/10 (Dave)

DORRN... 'UNPLUGGED RELOADED 2012'

(Deaf Dog Records) Reviewed 15th April 2013

I have just reviewed album 5 from this rather good German band (see below), and this is album number 6. Eleven of the numbers from Dorrn's previous releases are given the unplugged treatment with two tracks coming from the album 'I Don't Fit' that I reviewed below. A nicely done well produced laid back listen from this rather good band that until now has escaped my radar. As I say below, check them out! 8.25/10 (Dave)

DORRN...'I DON'T FIT'

(Deaf Dog Records) Reviewed 15th April 2013

Dorrn is a nu metal band from Hamburg Germany fronted by a young lass called Jackie. The music from this young band is heavy with clean and screamo female vocals, but maintains a sense of melody throughout. There are male vocals too (I am sure), but I am not sure which member of the band contributes those. After having given this album a couple of listens, I rather like it. The record rocks throughout the 13 tracks, and we even get Dorrn's rendition of 'Scarborough Fair'. Fave numbers include the aforementioned 'Scarborough Fair', the catchy 'Painkiller', the rocky and equally catchy 'Sexuality', the heavy and raptastic 'Gollum' and the superb pounding 'Noisy Neighbours'. The largely autobiographical lyrics ('Living A Lie', 'I Don't Fit' or 'In My Mirror') give the whole album a dark and earnest touch. So anybody who likes their music heavy with catchy melodies, melodic vocals and powerful shouts, should most certainly check this band out here. Play it and play it loud, this is rather good!... 8.25/10 (Dave)

CRYPTIC AGE...'SOUNDS OF INFINITY'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd April 2013

Cryptic Age were founded in the Viking city of Jorvik in 2010, and appropriately their music is inspired by the tales of yore and the hoards from the north. They describe themselves as folk metal which conjures up terrifying images of hairy berserkers screaming, brain numbing umpah umpah, and those infernal accordions parping away, the sort of cacophony that has me losing the will to live after 10 minutes, and longing for the Valkyries to take me to Valhalla. However, thank Odin, they are far closer to the folk and progressive tinged symphonic metal of bands like Whispering Wood, Whispering Tales, Materdea and Lyriel, with a touch of Horslips and Renaissance. Their sound rumbles and thunders like a marauding raiding party down the gangplank, with Jenny Green's truly remarkable high siren like voice, that reminds me of Annie Haslam, floating airily above the melee of Hallam's guitars, Jenny's keys, Tom's booming bass and Alex's drums that sound like the mass beating of shields, supported by their own Cryptic Choir and Orchestra, to create a suitably mighty onslaught with loads of terrific musical escapades. After the atmospheric scene setting intro 'Sheean Ny Fearnid', come a quartet of songs that would be perfect for a feast, with foaming jugs of ale and mean, and tall tales of heroic daring do, “Stoke the fires and raise the barrels high, Guests have arrived and they're here to stay! This is the tale of the horsemen of the vale, The last men alive and the land's brigade!” ( Norsemen of the Vale). The plaintive folk ballad 'Sea Invocation' based on an ancient Manx tune brings some calm to the proceedings before you gird your loins for the four part epic 'Sounds of Infinity' which gives the band plenty of room to brandish their brilliant musicianship. Crytic Age have produced an enormously impressive, adventurous and enjoyable romp with moments of beauty and brutality that provides the perfect soundtrack for some serious battleaxe wielding. Set sail, leave no man alive, and sack their web shop at their website here, a marauding 8.75/10 (Phil)

DAY AFTER RULES...'WHATEVER HAPPENS NO REGRETS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 27th March 2013

Get your pogo sticks out folks and lets welcome the band Day After Rules from Italy. They play Melodic Punk Rock that will get your feet tapping and have you bouncing around the room as if Punk Rock had never gone away (has it really gone away?). The album offers up 9 tracks of music that I am sure will go down very well in a live scenario. Fans of The Ramones et al will lap this up. Singer Giulia is one not to be messed with as she sings and screams through the numbers on offer. And in typical Punk fashion, they are all up tempo, short and sweet, and hideously catchy in the process - no ballads here. And 'Stone' has hit single written all over it! The nine numbers run in at around 27 minutes, their FaceBook is here, so go on, check them out...8/10 (Dave)

DIVIDED WE FALL...EP

(Digital - SoundCloud) Reviewed 11th February 2013

Divided We Fall is a female fronted Symphonic Metal band based in Stafford (UK), and they have made this three track EP available via their SoundCloud. I must thank my mate Les Barclay for bringing this band to my attention. Fronted by the pop/rock vocals of Philippa Ricketts, there are three rather cool tracks here of Melodic Symphonic Metal that should strictly speaking propel this band to bigger things. If they was to release a full length album of the quality of the three on offer here, then it would I am sure be an awesome release. It is difficult to score a three track ep, but a full length album (and one is due later this year!) based on what is here would deserve at least an 8.75/10 (Dave)

DYONISIS...'INTOXICATED' EP

(Singed Records) Reviewed 10th January 2013

I must admit to being a little confused as this 5 track EP by British Band Dyonisis has been presented to me digitally for review. It showcases 4 tracks from the band's 'Intoxicated' CD and 1 number from their earlier S/T cd. So I am not totally sure why I am reviewing an EP of tracks that have already been featured on earlier Dyonisis releases. Anybody familiar with the band will already know what is on this EP - the featured tracks are 'Arachne's Song', 'Eve's Song', 'Of The Fear', 'Smart Mouth' and 'Hunter'. I would suggest that this recording will be the perfect introduction to anybody unfamiliar with their music - Dyonisis fuse elements of rock, electronic and folk into deceptively gentle, hypnotic landscapes out of which the dual vocal harmonies of singers Nel and Lou strike forth with intensely personal lyrics coupled with a flair for melody. Personally though, I am not quite sure of the point of this release, but I like Dyonisis nonetheless, so what is here is damn good and if you are unaware of the band, check them out now! 8/10 (Dave)

CRIMSON CHRYSALIS...'CRIMSON PASSION CRY'

(Sting Music) Reviewed 9th January 2013

This is, as far as I know, the first album to appear in these illustrious annuls from the country of South Africa. For those of you expecting Paul Simon, it will come as no surprise that René van den Berg started her career performing Afrikaans folk music, however over the last couple of years she embarked on creating something totally utterly different. What we have here is sumptuous symphonic rock, which sounds more like it is from France, as Rene has that unique French chanson tremor in her voice, and the music has a touch of the tempestuous torch song about it. I have written and rewritten this review countless times, because whatever I do, it does not do justice to this collection of classic, jaw dropping, dramatic, passionate, stirring 'ballads', and I use that word very reluctantly, as it conjures up images of soppy love songs that will send you to sleep, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you imagine the sort of songs from musical theatre shows like Les Misérables or a more rock/metal Sarah Brightman, it does remind me of 'Time to Say Goodbye' at times, mixed with epic soundtrack music with wonderful orchestrations, performed by a powerful band, and topped by Rene's warm rich voice, then perhaps we are somewhere roundabouts, but this is music without boundaries, it's strong enough to appeal to symphonic metal fans of bands like modern Nightwish, but familiar and accessible for classic rock listeners as well. Opener 'Angels and Demon's' featuring Adolph de Beer (video on Female Voices) really steams along and kicks the album off in great style before you settle back in your seat for the show, and midway through you get clarion call for all jilted lovers, 'F-Off and Die!”. There are so many terrific songs like 'Letters From the Edge' and the title track 'Crimson Passion Sky' (video on Female Voices) that my recommendation is, just sit back and enjoy the whole album experience. This really is an album that will sit comfortably in anybody’s and everybody’s record collection, a timeless and universal set of classic chanson symphonic rock/metal songs perfectly performed and produced. Their crimson chrysalis emerges at their website here, a passionate 9.5/10 (Phil)

DEAREST PINKY...'BLOOD & SCARS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 11th December 2012

Do not be misled by the name thinking Dave has gone all poppy, because this rather attractive American girl Dearest Pinky (Lindsay Gardner) together with her pink hair, fronts a band that delivers guitar driven melodic, progressive rock that actually pushes the borders of several genres (AOR and the like). And not only does this Boston lass offer us lead vocals, she also takes care of the rhythm and acoustic guitar, plus all the words and music with the exception of the final track (that being the work of band member Mark Dailey). The album kicks of with an atmospheric intro 'Blood Over Time', that leads into the heavier 'Slip Your Lie' that has more of a Symphonic feel to it. 'Behind The Lines Of Reason' also features vocals from her guitar teacher Mark Cherone and is a more laid back track (although it still rocks) that could filter into the mainstream if given the chance, as could next up 'Last Stop', which is a hideously catchy pop rock number. The previously mentioned Mark Cherone pops up on other numbers too, including 'Shed Your Skin', which is another tune that should be deserving of radio airplay. This is amazingly good stuff from an artist that has totally slipped my radar screens. Other cool numbers from this LP include the mid tempo rockin' 'Bleed Like Mine' (great guitar solo), the guitar orientated and progressive 'Everything Short Of Nothing', and the slower 'Smile Upon Me'. I rather like this album, and you get your monies worth as Dearest Pinky throws at us 16 songs of music citing influences as diverse as Guano Apes, Paramore, Dream Theater, The Police, Evanescence and Within Temptation. Get your teeth around that little lot. Anyway, anybody who likes their music not too heavy but still with a little ooommmph, and is into any of the above mentioned acts, this just may be for you. Dearest Pinky's Facebook is here .... 8.25/10 (Dave)

DHARMA...'DHARMAGEDDON'

(Hammer-Nail Records) Reviewed 27th September 2012

Dharma was founded in January 2007 in Budapest and to be perfectly honest, they have produced a rather good album in the interestingly titled 'Dharmageddon'. This is indeed their 2nd full length album with 2 EPs also in the can. Their music is a mix of Gothic Metal and Hard Rock with an electro undercurrent running through the music, and rather good it is too. There are ten tracks on this offering, all very uptempo and melodic with some terrific foot stomping stuff to boot. Vocally, the band's leading lady Ani Ritzel's poppy style (this is her first album with the band by the way) reminds me of someone but I just cannot think who, while musically the band do strike up resemblances to Theatre of Tragedy when TOT went through their Electro/Rock faze, and possibly Asrai too. The album runs in at 38 minutes, and perhaps could have done with a couple more numbers, but what we have here are all killer with no filler. Listening to the album, you would not get the impression they are Hungarian, but no matter where they are from, I must highly recommend this record too all and sundry. Check the band out here, while I am inspired to award a 8.75/10 (Dave)

DOWNCAST ART...'FORBIDDEN MEMORIES'

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th August 2012

Croatian band Downcast Art blew me away with their three track demo that I reviewed back in July 2009, and to be honest, I have awaited with bated breath for their debut full length cd, and this is it! And does it live up to expectation? the resounding answer has to be yes!! Previously fronted by Iva Grdić and now with Jelena Mužar at the helm, I will be totally honest and say that on this showing, this band has the potential to hit the Premier league, and hit the Premier League big time too. This is mindblowing stuff with the operatic vocals of Jelena fitting in with the music so well, and aided by a choir on some numbers too. The listener is drawn in with the atmospheric instrumental opener 'Everlasting', that leads us into the pounding and symphonic 'Bloodred Ink', that sets the tone of the nine tracks that follow. Not a ballad in sight as the band and Jelena let rip on numbers like 'Moris Prosloti' (totally awesome), the melodic title track, which also features the vocals of guitarist Kristijan Radeka, the catchy and symphonic 'Face Without A Name' and the instrumental 'Chants From The Deep'. We even get treated to a piano version of the track 'Home Of Silence' which well and truly showcases Jelena's awesome vocal style and allows it to shine. With top notch production, the music on 'Forbidden Memories' is a reflection of complex themes and motives, a fusion of alternative and classical influences, heavy riffs and ornamental elements. I therefore highly recommend this release to all and sundry - the band's website is HERE, please check it out!... 9.25/10 (Dave)

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