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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS C-D

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DESDAEMONA...'STARCROSSED'

(Self Released) Reviewed 26th November 2016

Desdaemona is an unsigned Symphonic Metal band from Italy fronted by the operatic vocals of Anna Holtz. The band was formed in 2011 and I understand this to be their debut album, that features nine tracks of rather kool Symphonic Metal. Having spoken to Anna on Facebook, she seems a rather nice girl. Now I may be wrong but I gain the impression that she could be a small lass, but she sure possesses a fair set of lungs. I know some parts of the media will say that all this style of music has been done before. Maybe they are correct but when it is this good, who cares. This album is a corker, some great music on this record and it is well worth checking out for you fans of Symphonic Metal. Pop to Desdaemona's Facebook page here...8.5/10 (Dave)

DEGREES OF TRUTH…’THE REIGNS OF LFE’

(Underground Symphony) Reviewed 24th November 2016

Degrees of Truth fronted by the awesome vocals of Claudia Nora Pezzotta, is an Italian Progressive Symphonic Metal band, born in 2015 near Milan by an idea of keyboardist Gianluca Parnisari. The prime focus of the band has always been the song writing, in search for a unique and distinctive sound introducing symphonic elements, electronic patterns and of course, metal riffs. This 65 minute album is a concept album about the theme of life and mankind evolution on Earth, from the primordial nothing to the civilization of the entire world, to the slavery and devastation brought by man on Earth. The album ends with a hymn of hope, which sounds as a warning for the whole humanity not to redo the same mistakes again, in vain. This is a very good recording featuring some epic tracks like the awesome title track, running in at over 10 minutes, the catchy numbers ‘Civilization’ and ‘The World Beneath My Feet’ and the epic closer ‘The Pillar of Hope’ (the aforementioned hymn of hope), with the whole shebang from start to finish being highly impressive. The album features the guest appearances of Omar Ruggiero - Varganath (grunt and growl vocals) and of Maestro Carlo Colombara (acoustic and ethnic guitars) and is well recommended... 9/10 (Dave)

DIABULUS IN MUSICA…’DIRGE FOR THE ARCHONS’

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 11th November 2016

If unbridled passion for classical music meets raw modern metal, the result is most certainly going to be Diabulus In Musica. The Spanish band fronted by the awesome vocals of Zuberoa Aznárez, is surely the biggest Symphonic Metal act that their homeland has to offer, and the five piece has been storming Europe since 2010! Two years after their previous album 'Argia', the fourth album 'Dirge for the Archons' (Archon has been named as one of Atlantis` creators) travels with us to long lost worlds and thrills with the flair of the finest operas, rough growls, epic choirs, orchestral intermezzi and pure metal. A reference point is EPICA with some subtle electro influences thrown into the melting pot that I do rather like. This is an epic and bombastic release, tracks like ‘Earthly Illusions’, the awesome ‘Invisible’, the quirky ‘Ring Around Dark Fairies’, the slow and haunting power ballad ‘A Speck in the Universe’, the commercial, melodic sounding numbers ‘Hiding From You’ and 'The Voice Of Your Dreams' and the Folky feeling 'Bane' will have you screaming for more. This awesome record gets released 18th November, being one helluva release from start to finish… 9.75/10 (Dave)

DEVILSKIN…’BE LIKE THE RIVER’

(Independent/Rhythmethod/PlasticHead) Reviewed 7th November 2016

Devilskin is a four piece band from Hamilton in New Zealand formed in June 2010, already having guts, class, kudos and confidence. The sum total of a determined and accomplished group of musicians who know what they want, the music is organic, dynamic and real. The band features the spectacular Jennie Skulander on lead vocals. Her powerful and compelling voice and alluring stage presence sets her apart from any vocalist New Zealand has put up so far. With an unerring gift for melody, Jennie's incredible voice throughout these 13 cuts, sweeps from whisper to roar, rips with power, drips with melody and captivates with sincerity. Together, these New Zealand rockers have the ability to write songs that have depth and passion. They create a compelling and irresistible sound and perform a stunning, explosive, live show so I am told. I do not know anything about the New Zealand metal scene but if it is as good as this, I want to hear more. The band’s website is here…. 8.75/10 (Dave)

CATHUBODUA…’OPUS I DAWN’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 27th October 2016

With their first EP release ‘Opus I: Dawn’ Cathubodua proudly present thier own unique blend of Epic Symphonic Metal. Imagine a symbiosis between classical music, folky tunes and metal genres of all sorts. The reoccurring themes are based on fantasy tales and historical legends. Heroes, wizards, princes, romans and goblins: that is what you’ll find here! This band from Belgium was founded in the spring days of 2013, when the mind of violinist Katrien started creating marvellous metal symphonies. With Arely on drums, Roel and Kenny on guitars, Peter on bass and Sara as vocalist, rehearsals started to run smoothly. And the end result is this 5 track EP (including brief intro) of pounding Symphonic Metal. Check out the video to the track ‘Glorious Days’ here. This 22 minute EP is worth checking out… 8.25/10 (Dave)

DARK SARAH…’THE PUZZLE’

(Inner Wound Recordings) Reviewed 20th October 2016

Dark Sarah is a music project by Amberian Dawn´s former vocalist Heidi Parviainen.. After parting ways with the band in late 2012, she started to build up her solo career and Dark Sarah became the name of her project. The debut album entitled ‘Behind the Black Veil’ was released in May 2015 and led you through the psychological adventure of Sarah, who is hovering between her two personalities. This new album continues the story that started on Dark Sarah´s debut. As explained by Heidi: "The Evil Tree had broken into pieces and Dark Sarah´s soul with it. She did not die, but was left in a loop between two worlds, between life and death. She was sent down to the River of Death to drift along the streams and she ended up on an island in the middle of a mighty ocean. She woke up on the shores of that misty island. It was a magical rocky island, the rocks were black and they sparkled like covered by millions of diamonds in the endless night. Sharp cliffs and huge statues painted the dark sky, the ocean was wild on its shores. Dark Sarah felt the air in her lungs - she was alive after all. She felt the strength coming back to her limbs, she got up and started to explore the island. She found a cave and went in. There she saw a light twinkling in the back of the cave and move towards it slowly. She looked through the small hole and saw something ...and was mesmerized..." Onto the music itself and firstly, the record features guest appearances from Manuela Kraller [ex. Xandria], Charlotte Wessels [Delain] and JP Leppäluoto [Charon, Northern Kings] and needless to say with a strong concept the album musically does not disappoint either, combining metal, film and theatrical elements within the compositions. After an orchestral intro, ‘Island In The Mist’ pounds out of your speakers with the awesome ‘Little Men’ continuing at the same tempo, a hideously catchy tune! There is in-fact a tsunami of great tracks on this album making it a must buy. Check out ‘For The Birds’ (I love the pipes), the quirky ‘Dance With The Dragon’ (featuring JP Leppäluoto), the beautiful ‘Cliffhanger’ and the closing duo of ‘Aquarium’ (feat Charlotte from Delain) and ‘Rain’ (with Manuela Kraller). I gave ‘Behind The Black Veil’ a 10/10 and I feel that this record continues the great work, brilliant! – released 18th November…10/10 (Dave)

DEEP SUN…’RACE AGAINST TIME’

(Self Release) Reviewed Oct 12th 2016

Deep Sun fronted by the soprano voice of Debora Lavagnolo hail from Switzerland, and is a Melodic Symphonic Metal band. Formed in 2006 this I believe is the band's second release, the first 'Flight of the Phoenix' being a 6 tracker released in 2013. The platter kicks off with the catchy belter 'Race Against Time', and the band has laid their cards on the table with that opener. And it continues with tracks like the bouncy 'The Believer', the Symphonic Power Metal of ‘Good Old Times’ (great lyrics :) ), the 6 + minute ballad ’Nostalgia’ and the near 8 minute Progressive sounding ‘Des Königs Krieger’. Debora's vocals veer towards the operatic which is no surprise, as she lists Tarja as one of her favourite artists. All in all this is a good release, but I can hear certain critics say that it has all been done before. “So what” is my responce. Deep Sun’s Facebook is here. Female fronted anoraks should lap this up!.. 8.25/10 (The Nugget)

CORNERSTONE...'REFLECTIONS'

(Atom Records) Reviewed 14th September 2016

Austria may be known as the classical music centre of the world, but make no mistake - Cornerstone is here to rock! The band, composed of Alina Peter (Vocals, Guitar), Michael Wachelhofer (Bass, Keyboard, Vocals), Steve Wachelhofer (Guitar, Vocals) and Christoph Karas (Drums, Percussion), got signed by the US-based label. ATOM Records back in 2008 and have done numerous tours through Europe and America. This is Cornerstone’s third studio album, which was produced in collaboration with Harry Hess (Harem Scarem, Billy Talent, Muse,...) in Canada. And jolly good it is too. This band and their sound is developing like a good wine, and with Harry Hess involved, then surely one cannot go wrong. This is prime time AOR from these Austrians, bouncy radio friendly music from the opening track ‘Nothing To Lose’, to the closing acoustic/piano led ballad ‘Once’. My formative years (did I actually have any?) was spent listening to prime time AOR/Melodic Rock from the late 70s and through the 80s, until Grunge came along in the early 90s and killed it off, or had a damn good try. But AOR/Melodic Rock survived and this release from Cornerstone in 2016 is awesome! A tsunami of musical goodness here in-fact, this long player being available at all good retailers, all the usual website outlets and of course the digital platform. I said when I reviewed their debut back in October 2008 that I thought Cornerstone may well be going places. I will say no more! 9/10 (Dave)

DANTE FOX…’BREATHLESS’

(AOR Heaven) Reviewed 31st August 2016

Hailing from near to Ravenheart here in the UK, Dante Fox’s fifth album is a real corker. Their first was released back in 1996, and they have developed since then into one of the top AOR/Melodic Rock bands from the UK. Sue Willets sings with power and emotion, and the rest of the band add their bit as well, within what is a well balanced album of melodic rockers and slower ballads. The opening salvo of ‘Young Hearts’ and ‘All Eyes On You’ is a fine way to start the record, mid to up tempo melodic rockers, while the title track slows it down a tad but proves what a fine set of pipes Sue Willets has. There are further catchy tunes a plenty throughout this record, not of course forgetting the ballads, like the wonderful number ‘A Love Affair’. I like this album, the type of inoffensive music heaped with melody and passion I have a soft spot for. Well worth checking out if this style of music is your cuppa tea… 8.75/10 (Dave)

DELAIN…’MOONBATHERS’

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 16th August 2016

2016 means ten years of DELAIN – and therefore ten years of larger-than-life stunning symphonic metal! EP 'Lunar Prelude' was a tasty treat earlier this year, but haven`t we all been waiting for the main course? DELAIN’s fifth studio album was mastered by Grammy award winning Ted Jensen and is a tasty morsel of symphonic greatness, offering on the menu catchy hooks and a good old solid dose of metal that the band is known for, while at the same time, cementing the band's position as one of the greats of the genre. Opener ‘Hands Of Gold’ is a typically bombastic opener while second up ‘The Glory and the Scum’ is so dynamically good. Both ’Suckerpunch’ and ‘Turn The Lights Out’ feature on the ‘Lunar Prelude’ EP, while ‘Scandal’ is actually a Queen cover from their album ‘The Miracle’, Delain making it their own. ’Fire With Fire’ is a melodic belter, while the hook laden and very catchy ‘Danse Macabre’ is one of my favourite tracks from an album full of faves. Meanwhile, tracks like the totally awe-inspiring ‘The Hurricane’ and the striking ballad ‘Chrysalis – The Last Breath’ do slow it down a notch! With ten years, two EP's and now their fifth full length album under their belt, 2016 will undoubtedly prove to be the biggest year for DELAIN so far! This album is the biz…. 10/10 (Dave)

DARKWELL…’MOLOCH’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 9th August 2016

DARKWELL was born in early 1999, with the aim and motivation to create vivid and profound gothic metal. All band members are experienced musicians, and they know well how to add liveliness to their music, which results in strong compositions and mature arrangements. In 2003, DARKWELL parted ways with their vocalist Alexandra Pittracher, as personal and musical difficulties occurred, and started to search for a new dark front-beauty. Soon they discovered Stephanie M., who emphasized DARKWELL’s independent musical path even more. After a long hiatus due to personal reasons, the band in 2012 started thinking about returning. And soon it was clear that they wanted to reunite with original singer Alexandra , and both parties realized that the fire was still burning. DARKWELL is finally back, 'Moloch' being the result of that flame and it is due 23rd September, the band’s first album since 2004. Musically, I think the band takes a slightly more commercial approach than their previous offerings, and the vocals of Alexandra being less operatic and more angelic/poppy if that makes sense. The 11 tracks are run of the mill mainly mid paced Gothic Rock/Metal, all consistently good although nothing initially jumps out and grabs ya, but subsequent listens may produce fave tracks! One of mine is the catchy opening title cut. The album will also be available as a digipak with 2 bonus tracks – recommended!.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

DEADLOCK…’HYBRIS’

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 6th July 2016

Deadlock has always been about extremes – and always will be! Fans will love these Germans for every emotional force that runs through the raging depths of Death Metal on this cd, technical prowess, borderline pop-laden melodies, some keyboards, nods to classic metal, and casual flirtation with trance and beats. As expected, Hybris turns out to be a multi-faceted monster in terms of both shape and content – and at the same time painfully digs through the last events in the Deadlock camp. Despite the tragic death of founder and drummer Tobias Graf (immortalized with a minute of silence on the album) and the departure of singer Sabine Scherer (now replaced by Margie Gerlitz), the megalomaniac creative urge could not be suppressed: 2016 sees Deadlock rising from the ashes, scarred, but heads held high. This is a blistering 10 tracks of Melodic Death Metal with dare I say it, those aforementioned pop laden melodies. Margie's vocals reminding me of Sirenia's Ailyn to a certain extent at times, while John Gahlert provides the growls. Fans of true Death Metal may well turn their nose up at this and I know a certain zine here in the UK that has literally ripped this album apart. But if you like your music hard, heavy but truly melodic, then certainly check this out. There are standout cuts a plenty from the opening blistering ‘Epitaph’, the title track that even features within its midst a part of the Lords Prayer, ‘Wrath - Salvation’ with it male choir, 'Ein Deutsches Requiem', has Margie flirting with the operatics - this track also featuring the minutes silence, while the pen-ultimate track 'Vergebung' is an acoustic instrumental enabling us to catch our breath. In summary, I myself will admit I am not a fan of Death Metal, but with it’s melodies and pop sensibilities, I do rather like this release! Despite what that other zine says, I do feel that this is another winner from the Napalm stable - due 8th July! 8.5/10 (Dave)

CRIMSON SUN...'THE BORDER' EP

(Maple Metal) Reviewed 5th July 2016

Maple Metal Records has re-released the Crimson Sun EP that we are reviewing here, this coinciding with Crimson Sun’s performance at the Tuska Open Air Metal Festival fest that happened on July 2nd. And like their debut full length 'Towards The Light' that was released in August last year, this is an awesome 4 track slab of melodic metal. Not a filler to be found from the opening title track to the closing number 'Fire Within'. If you like your metal melodic, then certainly check this out!... 8.5/10 (Dave)

DAISY AND THE DARK…’CIRCUS’ EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 20th June 2016

Here we have the second CD that I am reviewing today that is more Pop than Rock/Metal, and I am glad I am reviewing them too. London/Cambridge based singer-songwriter, Sarah Kayte Foster created Daisy and The Dark after leaving the internationally acclaimed band Mediaeval Baebes in 2014. In 2016, we now have her magical EP release ‘Circus’ to review. This is an EP that will send chills down your spine. The title track and leading single kicks things off and Sarah's vocals are awesome and haunting. This awesomeness continues through second number 'Be Your Blanket', with vocals reminding me at times of Kate Bush. The beautiful angelic tones of Sarah's voice continue through the track 'Fox, while 'Like Somebody Good' is magical. Surely mainstream radio has to pick up on this EP, Daisy and the Dark's second in-fact, their debut EP 'Red Planet', having been released on 10 July 2015. The closing number is a remix of the opening title track. Overall, this is a good record from a young lady with the voice of an angel. This album with its pop sensibilities is well recommended. Check out the website here… 8.25/10 (Dave)

CAIRISS...'FALL' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 10th June 2016

This is a three track EP from Southampton (UK) metal heads Cairiss. This five piece fronted by a young lady named Freyja offers the listener clean vocals coupled with harsh black-metal inspired vocals, together with crushing guitars, powerful orchestral harmonies & choral arrangements, this in turn creating a unique sound that is rich in both beauty and depth. They released their first demo track, ‘Disgraced’, in 2014, which has generated over 70,000 views on YouTube and over 600 downloads via their Bandcamp, so this band means business! And the aforementioned phrase 'Beauty and depth' springs to the fore when listening to this little epic. Although classed as an EP, the total running time is approx 29 minutes, the tracks offering up some blisteringly heavy music coupled with more sedate beautiful moments. When this style of music is done well, it ranks high in my pecking order, and this little album is rather good! The closing and somewhat beautiful title track 'Fall' is the shortest at just under 8 minutes, and features solely the angelic vocal style of the awesome Freyja. I would imagine this little release would appeal to fans of Angellore, Blackthorn, Draconian, Tiarra and bands of a similar ilk. The Facebook pages of Cairiss can be found here… 8.25/10 (Dave)

DARK OATH...'WHEN FIRE ENGULFS THE EARTH'

(WormholeDeath) Reviewed 6th June 2016

Dark Oath was formed in 2009, in Coimbra, Portugal, by guitarists Joël Martins and José Bertolo, joined shortly after by vocalist Carlos Pereira, bassist Emerson Nunes and drummer Pedro Galvão. In 2012, after vocalist Sara Leitão joined the band and took Carlos Pereira's place, they recorded what was their second EP, 'Journey Back Home'. After multiple rough patches along the band's journey, Dark Oath's first album, has now been released through WormHoleDeath Records. The album falls very neatly into the Symphonic Melodic Death Metal mold, with Sara's vocals very easily competing with many guys who front bands of a similar style of music. Basically this album does what it says on the tin - opener 'Land of Ours' is a near ten minute epic that after a brief orchestral intro, knocks you against the wall as it hammers out of the speakers like a turbo charged rhinocerous! And the album is relentless in its power, as further tracks like 'Battle Sons' and 'Thousand Beasts' pound their way into your head, these being just two examples from the album that will hammer you into complete submission. I always feel that like Marmite, you either like Death Metal or dislike it. If you like it, this album should be added to your music collection asap... 8/10 (Hannah Cooper)

COMPLICATION, THE…’FANCIES OF A RANDOM HEART’

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd June 2016

The Complication is: Annie B (vocals & rhythm guitar), Dave “Roaddog” Bishop (drums), and Ashleigh Ali (lead guitar). Award-winning singer/songwriter and founding member Annie B started her career out on the West Coast. She moved to Los Angeles in 1999 and headlined L.A.’s best clubs with her punk-metal band SHUT UP MARIE for 7 years. S.U.M. picked up loads of press and college & commercial radio airplay all over the U.S. & appeared on national airplay charts alongside Death Cab for Cutie and Coheed and Cambria. Hard-pounding drummer from the Midwest, Dave “Roaddog” Bishop has played with numerous bands throughout his career, from the West Coast to Chicago, to Texas and in between. As The Dog says: Drums are his life, and he’s very thankful that he has the opportunity to do what he loves, and share this passion with the world! From the village of Six Lakes, MI, Ashleigh picked up the guitar after hearing Metallica’s Master of Puppets, and has performed in various metal acts around Michigan. Always a metal head and music nerd, she went to school to focus on audio production. After that brief bio, let us now talk about the album in question, 'Fancies of a Random Heart'. And you know what?, this is good! Annie B's powerful vocals will endear you from the start and there are some quirky catchy numbers that will stick around in your head long after the album has finished, take a listen to ‘Coffee Beans’ (pop and rock versions) and the up tempo ‘Give Me Pain’ that will have you tapping your feet before you know it – great stuff! But the band has a more metallic side to them too, like ‘Everything’, ‘No Surprise’ and ‘Over Me’ with its grunge like chorus. Then there is a subtle bluesy side like the numer 'Hope' and the closing cut ‘Fille Chatte’, which when translated means ‘Girl Female Cat’. And regards ‘Fille Chatte’, as with the awesome third track in called ‘Cat Girl’, is there a cat theme here? Indeed, there is a wide variety of music on this album that will appeal to a wide range of Rock music fans and to my ears is well worth checking out. I do have a fave on the CD and that currently is ‘The Shining Light’, and there is a decent cover too – ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ (written by Lee Hazlewood and recorded by Nancy Sinatra). So we have an enjoyable album, the band’s website can be found here… 8.5/10 (Dave)

CONQUER DIVIDE…S/T

(Artery Recordings) Reviewed 23rd May 2016

Based in the United States and England, Conquer Divide (For Fans of Asking Alexandra, Flyleaf, Pvris and In This Moment) have certainly made a name for themselves with their catchy hooks and attitude. The six-member all female band (consisting of Kiarely Castillo, Janel Duarte, Kristen Woutersz, Isabel “Izzy” Johnson, Tamara Tadic and Ashley Colby) has managed to capture the attention and gain the respect from their ever growing fan base and critics alike. In this, their recently released self-titled album, the band has created one hell of an album offering ten great tunes with monster hooks coupled with clean and ‘not so clean’ vocals. The album to my ears having that ‘Gothenburg feel’, and is certainly a real belter of a record. Indeed, Conquer Divide was pushed to their limits and thought outside the box as they worked with gold record producer/engineer Joey Sturgis (Asking Alexandria, Blessthefall, Of Mice & Men). As a result of a stellar album and a lot of hard work, this album ranked #13 on Billboard’s HeatSeeker charts. Check them out here. If you feel this album is for you, it is well worth checking out, and don‘t be fooled by the premature ending of the final track, the band does actually close the whole shebang showing their ‘softer side‘… 8/10 (Dave)

CIRCLE UNBROKEN…’VINCERE’

(Painted Bass Records) Reviewed 11th May 2016

Belgian Progressive Metalband with a Gothic twist, Circle Unbroken was formed in 2015 by classical-trained keyboardist/composer Franky De Mangelaere and drummer Martial Bonnetain. They soon found vocalist Marieke Bresseleers who just had finished her vocal studies at Fontys Hogeschool in Tilburg (Holland). They were joined by bass player Rutger Meert and guitar players Kevin De Brauwer and Matthias Jacobs. This their debut album was produced by Daan Janzing and was released in April and you know what? this is rather good, with a subtle symphonic undercurrent running through some of the tracks. Opener, ‘Portrait’ is one such number and a catchy track it is too while the rather good ‘Black Fire’ has a slightly more progressive feel together with an orchestral backdrop, and at this point I shall say that I adore the vocals of Marieke. Other goodies include the power ballad ‘The Call’ and I am a sucker for the odd power ballad, the upbeat, catchy and AORtastic ‘There’s More’ and indeed there is more too. Check out the progressive tinged ‘Warrior’s Wife Lament’, the beautiful ballad ‘Insomnia’, the symphonic sounding 'Vampire' and the closer 'City Lost', reminding me of Sabine from Edenbridge. The band's Facebook is here, well recommended... 8.75/10 (Dave)

CYCLOCOSMIA…’DEADWOOD’

(Self Release) Reviewed 5th May 2016

Cyclocosmia is a Symphonic/Doom project from the UK, the main man behind the project being London based James Scott, the whole shebang being recorded in the home studio of James and produced by the man himself. Leading vocals come compliments of Venezuelan/Italian vocalist Lorena Franceschini who joined the project in 2014, with the best part of 2015 being spent by the pair writing and recording the material for what it seems is a rather classy album. ‘Deadwood’ is a record that explores the darker side of the human mind covering such topics as mental illness, grief, homesickness and abuse of power, drawn from James and Lorena’s personal experiences. The album is an emotive one drawing influences from Draconian, Nightwish and Within Temptation, bringing a darker, bleaker sound to the Symphonic Metal genre. Albums like this however, always carry a certain amount of beauty that is combined with the heaviness that goes with it, and this is one such record that to my ears carries a definite ‘wow factor’ too, and as a consequence is highly impressive. There is nothing here that I can really fault, I know James to be a perfectionist and I am sure he will not mind me saying so, and this to be frank is a near perfect record. Everything here is epic, one such track among the tsunami of epicness is the 9+ minute ‘Little Girl Lost’ and there are others, the whole lot to be precise! I must admit I was not quite sure what to expect when I started listening to this, but all I will say is that this is well recommended so buy it! Meanwhile, check out the track ‘Faceless’ at www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpPd9NG0jCY... 9.5/10 (Dave)

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)

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