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HAND OF GOD...'HAND OF GOD'
(Sleaszy Rider) Reviewed 14th June 2013
Hand Of God featuring Marissia on vocals and Greek guitar hero Theodore Ziras, play an inoffensive commercial style of Melodic Metal that although sounds nice and modern, does at times remind me of the Melodic bands of the 80s, and that is a good thing. This album offers the listener 11 tracks of Melodic Hard Rock/Metal that as I have previously said, is very inoffensive and has some kinda commercial appeal to my ears anyway. The opening salvo of 'Falling' and 'Signs' shows the listener immediately the musical route this band is taking, and is a highly impressive way to kick off the cd. 'Start Again' is another very melodic song while 'No Holding Back' takes a slightly harder rockier approach, as do other numbers like 'No Regrets' and 'Reach The Light'. 'While I'm Here' maintains the momentum with further winners like 'Collapse', 'All About You' and the ballad 'Endless Circle'. This is a good cd, no song runs in over 4 minutes, but you do nonetheless get your monies worth! The band's website is www.handofgod.gr
and is a worthy purchase..8.25/10 (Dave)
HALF PAST FOUR...'GOOD THINGS'
(Paper Plane Music Inc) Reviewed 17th April 2013
Half Past Four, the Toronto based Art-Rock band play original progressive rock. The band offers something innovative to new music listeners and something familiar to those who have grown up loving the intricacies, driven melodies and exceptional musicianship of their influences: early Genesis, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Mr.Bungle and many many others. 'Good Things' throws at the discerning listener, 12 tracks of Progressive Rock, that at times becomes rather quirky and catchy. The mature voice of Kyree Vibrant is well showcased in opener 'It Strikes you', and yes the musicianship and vocals do strike you in this opener. 'Good Things' the title track is next up and that does offer good things too! Great piano intro before the guitars kick in, and this is another Progressive Rocker's delight. All this is mature stuff from a very good Canadian Band, with one track that did catch my attention being the wacky Cossack sounding 'Spin The Girl', although other good numbers are the more commercial 'All Day and All Night', the six minute plus masterpiece 'I Am Lion' and the quirky and comic 'Wolf'. Building on rich traditions of classic progressive rock, this quintet beautifully marries the intricate complexity of neo-progressive time signatures with deep meaningful lyrical poetry and stories, adding a healthy dose of head-banging riffs and blistering solos to boot! Their website is here
, so whether you are new to progressive rock and you have never heard stuff like this before, or you are a seasoned, savvy listener, you may well be very pleasantly surprised... 8/10 (Dave)
(Southern Brigade Records/Scarlet Records) Reviewed 14th March 2013
Godyva is a band I have been into since their conception. Indeed their debut 'In Good and Evil' was released in 2006 (doesn't time fly), and together with their next album 'Planetarium' were to my ears very good releases. Now in 2013 we have 'Alien Heart', and it is very pleasing to see how this band has moved on over the years. They still stick to the Gothic Metal formula that they are known for but why not, if it ain't broken, why fix it?! The band has moved into the Premier League with this release, with the vocals of Lady Godyva still having that sensual, seductive but rockin' feel. The band offer the listener 11 tracks of prime time Melodic Gothic Metal with a wide listening appeal, with the band occasionally flirting with Power Metal territory. Many if not all of the numbers have hit the spot with me, but I do particularly like the rockin' opener 'Apocalypse Fire', 'I Feel You (Ti Sento)', the striking 5 minute power ballad 'In Your Eyes' and the bombastic 'Brainstorm'. This is damn good, it ticks all the right boxes and sees a band come of age. I whole heartedly recommend this record to all and sundry, and punters that may even be a little wary of Godyva, buy it, as there are songs on the cd to suit all moods.. 9.25/10 (Dave)
HERETIC'S DREAM...THE UNEXPECTED MOVE'
(Self Released) Reviewed 31st January 2013
This album that was released last year has come my way thanks to Peter 'Foggy' Ongley, who put Francesca from Heretic's Dream in touch with me. 'The Unexpected Move' is this all Italian but London based band's debut album, and a rather good effort it is too. Front woman Francesca Di Ventura has a nice Pop/Rock vocal style, although I must be honest and say that on a couple of tracks she perhaps ventures out of her comfort zone a little, but by and large, this girl's voice compliments the music really well. 'Forgiveness' is a corking way to start the album, a melodic number that will leave you gasping for more - great chorus. 'She Said' almost edges into mainstream territory, while 'A Kiss From The Sun' is a stomping heavier number. 'Golden Cage' sees Francesca's golden voice aided by some male shouty growls, and the great music continues on the rather catchy and bouncy 'Shades of Grey'. 'Thru The Unlocked Door' is a riff tastic number with great guitar solo, while 'Honey I'm Home' lowers the tempo, with Francesca's vocals showing more of a nice sexy Italian accent. 'I Need Your Love' and 'A Question of Coincidences' both take on a slightly more progressive but still melodic slant, while the awesome instrumental 'Hollow', including some great flute playing from drummer Maurilio Di Stefano closes the show, almost reminding me of Jethro Tull at times. This is a reasonable debut from this young group of musicians, and I am further delighted by the fact that Francesca has also sent me a two track demo of their newer material, and that is equally as good by the way. Their face book is here
.... 8.75/10 (Dave)
HITHERSIDE... S/T EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 4th January 2013
One singing, American red-head and one very talented Belgian multi-instrumentalist and guess what? They bond together to create infectious songs containing amazing guitar riffs, textures and haunting melodies with big doses of lush harmonies mixed in. Sounds like Evanescence meets Dolores O'Riordan from The Cranberries with a dash of Deborah Harry. Those comments are lifted from the band's Facebook and that just about sums it up! This EP gives us 6 tracks of rather listenable and certainly inoffensive modern melodic rock music, proving that vocalist Jennifer Summer not only has an awesome and rather unique voice, but multi-instrumentalist Sam Oerlemans ensures it all gels together very nicely in one totally cool package. Of the six tracks here, there is not a filler in sight! From the opener, the rockin' 'Insignificant Other' to the closer 'Learned to Loath' this is flippin' good. Do I have a fave? The heavy and riff tastic 'Asked But Not Answered' shades it, great chorus too! I must highly recommend this act, their website is here
. I rather love this! 9/10 (Dave)
(Self Release) Reviewed 20th November 2012
Celtic Rock yesterday (Mimi Burns Band), Space/Progressive Rock today with Hipgnosis. Hipgnosis formed in 2004 hail from Poland, and have some interestingly named musicians amongst their fold. For example, the drums, keys and all the electronics are taken care off by SeQ. There are further keyboards people including a person called ThUg, and vocals are courtesy of KuL and PitU. And one of the guitarists is called Little Rave N. Okay, after some mysteriously named band members, what about the music? Six tracks spanning 72+ minutes, that is correct folks, 72+ minutes of what is some pretty cool music. Imagine a mix of Jean Michelle Jarre, Tangerine Dream, The Orb and possibly early Pink Floyd, add female vocals to the mix and hey presto, we have it! I can't glean much more information from their Facebook page (here
) or their website as it is all in Polish, but the lyrics are sung in English, and despite my shall we say initial trepidation as to what to expect, this is damn good stuff! Obviously if you are expecting a Melodic Gothic onslaught, then you are reading the wrong review, but this well packaged cd with totally awesome artwork has caught me by surprise. Where do I start? The opener 'Cold' spans 19 minutes, a deep and mysterious song that sweeps you away in a synthesiser infused soundscape of complexity and beauty, a song that reveals further elaborate layers upon repeated listens. And let us not forget the stunning voice of KuL amongst all this. Next up 'Out Of Cargo' is a menacing number, with KuL's beautiful vocals rather sensual in their approach. Again the synths dominate proceedings - just listen through headphones!! And the solitude of 'Out Of Cargo' being interupted at times by a cacophony of guitar noise. 'Dr What' runs in at just a little over 6 minutes, and offers up another marvellous mix of hypnotic synths and vocals, just sit down and drift away in what this number has to offer. A more commercial sounding song possibly if that makes sense, despite it's complexities. The 5 minute plus piano led 'The Garden' which is an instrumental conjures up images of peace and tranquility, while the title track is a haunting piece of music with KuL's vocals again totally awesome, dreamy and sensitive. This 9 minute number being one of my faves on what is turning out to be a magical musical masterpiece. The epic closer 'Large Hadron Collider' is 22 minutes of magic, and I feel the band do enough with this track to engage the listener's interest across those 22 minute, there is no getting bored or getting up to put the kettle on!. Totally amazing stuff actually!! A slow, atmospheric, haunting and eerie start, imagine hearing the cry of Dolphins for want of anything better before the pace picks up around the 11 minute mark. It is an instrumental to match if not beat all instrumentals, great guitar solo towards the end too. The music on this epic record is a stroke of genius, and for anybody who feels that this type of music is your kinda thing, this is a complete and utter must buy...9/10 (Dave)
GATES OF DAWN...'SEPIA'
(Echozone/BobMedia Distribution) Reviewed 26th October 2012
This band from Germany has released an album here that has certainly made me sit up and listen, being right up my alleyway. Their third record I believe, the band on this cd has released some high quality Gothic Metal/Dark Rock tracks, which kinda remind me of Theatre of Tragedy and even to a slight extent Marilyn Manson at times. The rock/pop vocals of Martina and the gothic generally clean vocal style of Matthias, blend and harmonise together perfectly on the 12 tracks. Opener 'Serpent' changes from an epic orchestral intro passage into a boom of atmospheric guitar riffs, while second up 'Ferocity' has that catchy Theatre of Tragedy feel - great synths and great crunching guitars, overall an awesome start to this record. The upbeat 'The Silence Makes You Scream' maintains the high standard while the ballad 'Isolated' shows us the more tender side of the band. 'Hypothermia' bangs along in a dark rock way with it's rhythmic electronic lines, while the rather catchy 'Naked' keeps the momentum going. The second half of the album in my opinion seems to slacken off slightly, but nonetheless, there are still some corking tunes to be found! just listen to 'Titan (Lovers of Saturn)', the emotional and atmospheric 'The City Sleeps', the synth driven 'The City Awakes' and the beautiful closer '...to whom it may concern'. This is a very good release from this band and there is hardly a chance for a Gothic Metal/Dark Rock album to become more eclectic than this one. You as the listener will be able to make your own opinion as the album is released today! Great stuff! 9/10 (Dave)
GHOSTHILL...'FLYING THROUGH IMAGINATION'
(Self Release) Reviewed 24th October 2012
Ghosthill were born in 2009 in the western Russian coastal city of Kalingrad, on the cold and forbidding Baltic Sea, and they wasted no time in recording their début album, 'Embrace of a Chasm', released in 2010. Their music hovers around bands like Amberian Dawn and Wildpath, gliding from powerful rocking riffage to fast and furious flurries, with loads of imaginative musical bits and pieces and changes of tempo. During those flurries, drummer John shows that he has got to be one of the quickest on the planet, at times he's peddling faster than Bradley Wiggings with his pants on fire, creating an extraordinary skipping rhythmic blur. But they are never hurried or frantic, there's always a great song with loads of melody at the heart of their music, where sensuous new singer Margo can display her powerful rock voice with a distinctive sexy snarl which reminds me of Wereworld's Ana Rochas. Guitarist Val Metal provides an awesome sound, with those drums sounding particularly impressive. The stunning ballad 'Sometimes in my Heart' features a duet with Ivan Efimov from the band The Sloe as well as saxophone, it is very strange that since its heyday in the 80's when almost every song had a sax solo, this versatile and expressive instrument, perhaps the closest to the human voice, has almost totally vanished, to the point where it's now a novelty. Other great songs include the terrific opener 'My Garden of Seasons' (video on Female Voices), the dynamic 'In Cage' featuring Chucky, a lady who sings with Kropot and Boyanoz Gimn, the electro infused 'It Can't Rain All The Time' with it's phenomenal storming drumming, and the closing title epic, 'Flying Through Imagination'. Ghosthill have achieved an alliance between terrific tunes and thrilling flights of vivacious velocity. Fly to their website for the latest info here
, and it's easily available on Bandcamp
, a flurrying 8.75/10 (Phil).
HANGING DOLL..'THE SACRED AND PROFANE'
(Rocksector Records) Review Re-posted 4th September 2012
I reviewed this cd back in March, but the release was then delayed by their label until September, so to be perfectly frank, I really had to repost the review and that I have now done! So what about Hanging Doll then? Formed in Walsall (UK) in 2002, they went through some traumatic experiences when their previous vocalist Rachel Lilley committed suicide in 2004. But they have now bounced back, and are about to be promoted into music's Premier League because here, we have one scorchin' album with 'The Sacred and Profane'. Not only has this band released an awesomely hot album dripping at the seams with heavy gothiness, they are local to me and are some of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet. The album is on a small UK label, but this release must surely bring them to the attention of the bigger fry, surely it must? Kicking off with the ultra hot 'Cradle To The Grave', this opener proving what a singer Sally Holliday is too - heavy guitars that give way to a lightweight chorus. What I do like about Sally is that her vocals are very adaptable to the style of music, varying her style as and when she wants and with such ease too. That is very apparent on all the songs on offer here!! 'Carnival of Sin' is the single, great piano intro and a real gothic thumper when it gets going, another great chorus to boot! The band can slow down the tempo when they want, just listen to the piano led ballad 'Lacrimosa', such a haunting and beautiful song with Sally complimented by the clean male vocals from Dan, as is the case on other tracks too. 'Only In My Reveries' and 'Immortal Beloved' are other slow to mid tempo tracks, which shows what this band is capable of - upping the ante or slowing it down, and the end result still being mind blowingly awesome. 'Tincture' gets the pace going yet again, another great song which leads into one of the highlights of the cd, the title track, which is well worthy of being a title track I hasten to add, and a great bouncy number. 'Flames of Woe' slows it down again giving a brief instrumental interlude to proceedings, while 'The Final Descent' is another slow brooding number, totally awesome with great instrumentation. 'Bound in Servitude' is simply beautiful while the closing duo of 'The Inauspicious Host' and the gothy 8 minute plus 'A Question of Faith' end the album on a quality note. I have declined here to make any reference to any other female fronted band until now, but let me just say that Evanescence and many of the others that we are all into are good or very good, but Hanging Doll on this showing are proving that they are now as good if not better than most. With splendid musicanship from all involved including growls from bassist Kev, this album has to be bought and comes highly recommended from the Ravenheart team!...9.75/10 (Dave)
HILLS OF ELYSIUM...'THE LOST GENERATION'
(Self Released) Reviewed 10th July 2012
Here we have a Seattle Based Female Fronted Rock Band, and from listening to this album, I am fairly impressed with what is on offer. Fronted by September Garland, the band throw our way 11 tracks of music that is filled with catchy hooks, hard hitting beats and an abundance of riffage - a tapestry I suppose of heavy Pop-Infused Modern Rock. Vocally, September has that rock edge, even sometimes reminding me of Otep when she and the band ups the ante. The 'screamo' numbers ooze melody, 'Chemical Welfare' being one such number, while they can slow it down at times - 'On The Fringe' is one of those songs. Vocally during the non screamo moments, September reminds me of my buddy Trish Fleury from South Carolina Rockers SUHGARIM. I am partial to some rock and metal music that has it's fair share of melody, but also has loadsa balls, and this is one of those records, with the thumping track 'Louder' being one of my faves!. Good stuff and their website here
is well worth a visit... 8.5/10 (Dave)
SOPHIE B HAWKINS...'THE CROSSING'
(Trumpet Swan Records/Lightyear Entertainment via EMI USA&CANADA) Reviewed 28th May 2012
I seem to be getting some very interesting music sent my way of late, as the Ravenheart name seems to become bigger worldwide by the minute. The latest album to drop my way is the latest by Sophie B Hawkins (born November 1, 1967, Manhattan, New York City). She is a singer, songwriter, musician and painter, her biggest hits being 'Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover', 'Right Beside You', and 'As I Lay Me Down'. Okay, some of you may say, is this Ravenheart Music fodder? of which my answer will be "yes". Even though I know of Sophie B Hawkins, I however, had to find out a little more about her from my youngest daughter. This cd (her 5th studio release excluding compilations/live releases) which gets released mid June, offers up 17 tracks of rather cool Blues tinged ballady rock, which I found amazingly pleasant, and this girl has a very pleasant and powerful voice, which suits this style of music rather perfectly. I would imagine this album will be full of potential hit singles, with 'Betchya Got A Cure For Me' and the religiously inspired 'Sinnerman' already having been digital single releases. My faves however being the rather nice 'The Land, the sea and the sky', the catchy 'Georgia' and the rather cool and gravelly vocally inspired 'I Don't Need You', these having the "hit single" moniker stamped all over them! Having listened to the album more than once and paid close attention to the lyrics, it seems to me that some of the songs are rather personal to Sophie. To summarise, and to be perfectly honest, this may not be the type of music I would normally listen too, but having said that, this is a rather engaging and organic release that I find rather good! And we also get acoustic renditions of the aforementioned 'Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover' and 'As I Lay Me Down'. Cool!! 8.5/10 (Dave)
HEAVEN RAIN...'SECOND SUN'
(Music Buy Mail) Reviewed 15th May 2012
Heaven Rain was founded in the summer of 2006 in Bosnia by keyboardist Goran Baštinac, releasing their début album 'Far and Forever' on 2008. Since then several key line-up have occurred with guitarist Igor Dragelj and most importantly for us stunning singer Miona Graorac coming on board making this their first female fronted album. Their style is light, rocking, catchy, subtly symphonic, bright and breezy, melodic power metal, but with very little double peddling, in the same sort of ballpark as Dawn of Destiny, Lunatica, early Visions Of Atlantis, Amberian Dawn and Sonata Arctica. This is a collection of enormously enjoyable and easy to listen to numbers that sound comfortably familiar without actually copying anyone. This is down to two factors, firstly Miona's extraordinary deep rock voice, perhaps similar in style to Ani Lozanova, on the ballad 'Nowhere' she is deeper than most male rock singers. Secondly, unusually for this style of music there are very few guitar solos, perhaps because they are led by a keyboard player, instead you get a tour de force of Goran's keyboards and synths, as I'm a keyboard player and fan I really like it, usually keyboard players are shoved up the back while the guitarists steal all the limelight, so it makes a welcome change. All the songs are great quality and well produced, I particularly like the terrific 'My Only One' with its touch of Arabian, the awesome title track 'Second Sun', the swaying 'When Day Fades to Dark', and the sword waving anthem that could become our theme song, 'Raven in Heart'. The official final track is the attractive symphonic instrumental 'At The End of Time', but you also get a bonus in Serbian of a rocked up version of the song 'Vejte Snegovi' (Winnow Snows), an 80's pop classic by famous Yugoslavian band Zana. My forecast is a bright future for the band as this is an album that's perfect for a spell of most enjoyable easy listening, they haven't reinvented the wheel, but that's not the point as it's aimed at pleasing everyone who enjoys catchy metal, and they do what they do extremely well. Their weather report can be found here
, a sunny 8.75/10 (Phil)
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 11th April 2012
Huntress is a band that Napalm Records have been talking about for a while now. Now then, Female Fronted Music and Napalm Records normally suggests a Gothic or Symphonic Metal release with lots of orchestration, and the possible operatic voice. Ah ha, but hang on a moment, Huntress has blown that theory well and truly out of the water, as the band offer up a feast of traditional Heavy Metal, with the raw and unique vocal power/screams of Jill Janus. But Jill is in-fact an ex opera singer, but one thing I can guarantee, there are no operatic shenanigans here! The album is full of power, enough energy in-fact to light up the streets of London, and the tracks are impressive, heavy and unrelenting, you will not find a sugar coated power ballad here. Upon repeated listens though, I have found that the tracks can tend to merge into one another, and then my concentration starts to wander. But that is just me! Jill is no Tarja Turunen, Amy Lee or Charlotte Wessels, but for anybody that is into traditional Metal coupled with a good old dose of thrash, then this debut Huntress cd will be right up your alleyway and a recommended listen as a consequence....8.25/10 (Dave)
(Rapid Fire) Reviewed 6th April 2012
Hydrogyn seems to be one of those bands where the emphasis is based on the beauty of singer Julie Westlake. Now come on, she is a good looking lass that I am sure has many guys drooling. But no matter how good looking the singer is, it must surely be about the band's music, whether that band is fronted by a rather tasty girl or indeed a good looking guy. 'Private Sessions' is the band's 4th album and is a very melodic affair, that tends to take the Melodic Hard Rock/AOR path, and screams radio airplay in the process. But of course, we here in the UK live in a country where mainstream radio (apart from Kerrrang FM) steers well clear of rock and metal as if it is the plague, and therefore should be avoided at all costs. I just wish some of these programmers would wake up and play the music the public wants to hear, because believe you me, there are quite a few out there that would like to hear more rock and metal on our radio. Anyway, of my soapbox now, there is some jolly good radio friendly music here, offering classy hard rock with choruses that stick in your head like glue and refuse to go away. There are highlights a plenty, but songs that do tend to stand out include 'I Don't Know How', the classy hard rocker 'Don'tcha Walk Away' and the catchy 'It Doesn't Matter'. And the ballads are pretty damn good too...'Roseline's Song' for example is a massive hit in the making, with Julie's vocals totally nailing it! To sum up, here we have a very classy album with melodies as huge as Everest, more hooks than a Japanese whaling fleet, and the superb crystal clear and at times poppy vocals of the sexy Julie Westlake. Get it - released 17th April! 8.75/10 (Dave)
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