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IVORY DAGGERS...'ROCOCO BANG'
(Self Released) Reviewed 10th May 2013
Ivory Daggers fronted by Stephanie Chandra, are four friends with a mutual love for Indie, Powerpop and hard hitting rock. What the band give us on this 4 track EP are sunny harmonies, catchy pop rock hooks, gutsy no nonsense guitar, infectious melodies and unashamedly heartfelt lyrics. I am reminded of Liz Phair listening to the tracks 'Starry Night' and 'Little Darling', while the slow and atmospheric closer 'Grain of Salt' is one of my faves from the EP. Then let us not forget the quirky 'On The Other Side'. Basically, if you like Weezer, The Breeders, the aforementioned Liz Phair and Veruca Salt amongst others, you will most certainly like this. Their facebook is here
, so go get it for those lovely Summer days that we all hope for!...8.25/10 (Dave)
I:SCINTILLA...'MARROW 2' EP
(Alfa Matrix) Reviewed 7th May 2013
Chicago's I:Scintilla led by Brittany Bindrim has spent the last decade on a constant pursuit of musical exploration. Never happy with genre boundaries, the quartet has taken its metal-infused electronica signature and drawn in elements of synth pop, trip-hop, and indie electro. After having reviewed 'Marrow 1' not too long ago, this the band’s brand new EP is an excellent representation of these new influences and styles. It features four new studio recordings that range from catchy club stompers like 'Skin Tight' and 'Sequins & Pills' to the groovy sludge of 'Ruin' to cinematic electro-rock of 'Drag Along'. The EP within it's 8 tracks includes four remixes that also traverse a spectrum of genres: funk, club-friendly EBM, and even a hint of dubstep. This may not be music that would appeal to the all out metal heads reading this, but I would still say this is well worth checking out for many of you out there...8/10 (Dave)
KILL FOR EDEN...S/T
(Self Released) Reviewed 5th April 2013
Kill For Eden (formerly Rhode Island Red) is a London based rock band fronted by the charismatic Aussie lass Lyla D'Souza. Although I have heard some of these numbers before when they were known as Rhode Island Red and indeed reviewed accordingly back in 2010 and 2011, this is the band's first official full length cd and what a recording we have here, proving how good the quality of unsigned talent is out there. Before I start, Lyla has one helluva set of lungs, as she powers her way through the 14 numbers on this album, and she is ably supported by the band, who give all they have to back her up. The radio mix of the single 'Kerosene' kicks things off and ably demonstrates the power of Lyla's vocal prowess. We have further good melodic rockers like 'Untouchables', the pounding 'Living On Mars', the hard rockin' 'Ned', the melodic and very catchy 'Over & Over' and the rather good 'Alone With My Demons'. Meanwhile, there are the ballads like 'Stalemate' and the awesome 'Fate Insists'. This is a band that plays rock with pop hooks, and as a consequence offers the listener tunes that stick inside your head and refuse to go away...check the band out here
. On this showing and without a filler to be seen on this cd, which by the way gets released on May 6th, Kill For Eden surely has to be going places..9/10 (Dave)
KARNATAKA...'NEW LIGHT - LIVE IN CONCERT'
(Immrama Records) Reviewed 27th November 2012
Karnataka was formed in 1997 by founding members, Ian Jones (bass/acoustic guitar), Jonathan Edwards (keyboards) and Rachel Jones (vocals). The five-piece recorded what would become their debut album, Karnataka in 1997. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and in 2012, we now have Hayley Griffiths as the leading lady, while mainstay Ian Jones is still there, keeping the whole ship afloat. This double cd, that is also accompanied by a separate stunning DVD was recorded and filmed at The Met Theatre in Bury on the New Light Tour. We get here 15 tracks of prime time Karnataka, music that I would like to call thinking person's rock music. Of the eight numbers on 'The Gathering Light' album, seven are featured here as we would expect, while we get a sprinkling of tracks from previous albums 'The Storm' and 'Delicate Flame of Desire'. A beautiful collection of songs if I may say so, enhanced even more by the luscious vocals of Hayley, and some all round amazing musicanship. I recently saw the band live at Leamington Spa supported by the amazing Winter In Eden, the first time I have seen Karnataka live in-fact, and I must say that it was one of the best gigs I have attended. This double live cd is a breathtaking foray into the world of Karnataka - get it! 9/10 (Dave)
IVORY MOON...'DARK TIME'
(Spider Rock Promotion) Reviewed 19th November 2012
Roman's Ivory Moon were formed back in 2000 and have released two previous albums, 'On the Edge of Time' in 2004, and 'Human Nature' in 2007. However they have remained very much under the radar, surprisingly they only have about 100 likes on Facebook, and it appears very few people know about this brand new release. Out front they have two truly outstanding singers, new female vocalist the gorgeous Gabriella Aleo with her warm operatic mezzo-soprano voice, and Sandro Manicone who has a voice not too dissimilar to Tony Kakko/Mats Levén/Alice Cooper, but he also a remarkable almost falsetto range as well, at times it's difficult to know who is singing what. Being so little known you may think that this will be a rather amateur, low key affair, well you would be wrong, very wrong, it has been recorded in the Temple of Noise Studios in Rome by Christian Ice, with a totally immense sound. Their style floats around Sonata Arctica, Rizon, Ideas and Visions of Atlantis, with a touch of early Nightwish at times. Here they present 11 prime quality cuts of powerful, catchy, rocking metal, ranging from the more power metal lead song 'Apocalypse' (video on Female Voices) to the darker more dramatic 'Heroes' and 'Soul Disguised'. The tremendous opener 'New World Order', 'Endless', 'Away' and the terrific 'New Horizons' where Sandro shows off his upper register are more symphonic progressive, while 'Darkness', 'Out of of Control and 'The Merchant of Venice' really rock. Sandro does dominate at times, it would have been nice to have a couple songs just highlighting Gabriella's wonderful voice, in particular a ballad at the midway point, giving the album a better balance both vocally and sonically. It is remarkable the quality of bands hiding out there in the undergrowth, Ivory Moon deserve to be a big name, they have the big sound and big songs to appeal to anyone who enjoys powerful melodic metal, but they desperately need to tell people they exist. You can find them at here
, a prime quality 8.75/10 (Phil)
(WormholeDeath/Aural Music) Reviewed 8th November 2012
Since 2007, French band Ivalys has developed its own musical style, exploring several facets of its musical roots. Combining dark heavy rhythms and brighter melodies, the music of the band has now found a place in the symphonic metal fold. Signed to the Italian label WormHoleDeath/Aural Music, this their debut full length offering is about to be presented to the music buying public. Opener 'Within Flesh' kicks things off and to my ears, vocally Jessica Donati reminds me somewhat of Simone from Epica. 'Nothing Grows' is another thumping track and I suppose if you mix Epica together with a dose of good old Power Metal (others may have their own opinion), then that may give you some indication as to where this band is going. Growls are also introduced on 'Nothing Grows' as one would expect from a release on this label, but to be honest they do not to my ears over do it, and I love the end to this particular track - cool! The pace continues with the Symphonic 'Haven', the melodic 'Disclosure', and the title track, all featuring just the vocals of Jessica that as previously mentioned, do remind me of Simone Simons. The second half of the album does not relent, with further power and melody coming in tracks like 'As It Wanes', while 'The Passengers' is a heavy and powerful number featuring further growls! And for all you growl haters out there, this album features just three tracks with fiersome growls, by and large, this cd is a female fronted metal extravaganza. You will find no ballads here, just in yer face metal to blow your mind into outta space. Great stuff and well worth checking out... 8.75/10 (Dave)
I:SCINTILLA...'MARROW 1' EP
(Alfa-Matrix) Reviewed 1st November 2012
After a high profile acoustic performance with LACUNA COIL, electronic-rock quartet I:SCINTILLA felt the need to experiment with stripped-down unplugged sounds. After a few inspired recording and mixing sessions, the result is the new acoustic EP 'Marrow 1'. The band indeed strip their sound right back wih this EP release. What they have given us is a new song, the opener 'Drag Along', the Devo cover 'Girl U Want' and IAMX cover 'Spit It Out'. We also have two re worked numbers from their 'Dying & Falling' CD, those being 'Ammunition' and 'The Shake'. I would say this release is mainly for fans of the band, and the stripped back sound goes down well, showcasing the versatile vocal talents of Brittany Bindrim. And as a special treat, her father Julius Bindrim, contributes his vocal and guitar talents to three of these tracks. The EP can be previewed HERE
KERION...'CLOUDRIDERS PART 1, ROAD TO SKY CITY'
(Metalodic Records) Reviewed 31st October 2012
Kerion were first formed in Nice in 1997, and for their third album they have embarked on an ambitious multi part adventure story about the story of a crew of buccaneering adventurers trying to find a high technology city floating in the sky, reflected by the stunning specially themed artwork by Gonzalo Ordóñez, with more episodes to follow. It reminds me of Walt Disney's Treasure Planet, which was a version of Treasure Island set in outer space, but still with the sailing ships and pirates. Along with the likes of Wildpath, Adrana, Fairyland, Whispering Tales and Auspex, Kerion belong to the elite group of French speedy symphonic metal bands with that distinctive light fluttering style, with a touch folk highlighted by Floras delightful voice which is similar to a young Sharon Den Adel, although they also head towards Amberian Dawn, Ancient Bards and especially Rhapsody at times. It is not surprising then that two members of Fairyland contribute to this album, Willdric Lievin is behind the controls to create the excellent sound, and Philippe Giordana assists with the choirs. After the impressive orchestral intro 'Rider's Theme' featuring the terrific symphonic arrangements by guitarist Remi that are a real feature of the album, they open with two wonderful galloping songs with sword waving sing-along anthems belted out by the massed choirs, 'The Map' and 'Everlasting Flight'. 'Bounty Hunter' which features special guest Raphael Dantes (Carvellus) pushes them towards a mixture of Rhapsody and Therion, counterbalanced by the lovely folky ballad 'The Sky Is My Ocean'. The next song 'Fireblast' is perhaps a surprising choice for the lead song and video (on Female Voices) as it is darker, heavier and features some ferocious growls by a lady called Rachel which has mislead people into thinking the album has growls throughout, but this if her only appearance, and it forms part of the story. 'Tribal Vibes' is a real highlight and is suitably titled with didgeridoo, ethnic drums, tasty flute, and an infectious syncopated beat, followed by the bouncing 'Never More' featuring Adrien Eyraud (Silent Fall), and the gorgeous Celtic ballad 'Celticia's Song' with Flora's piano accompaniment. After another weapon wielder 'Ghost Society' comes the final 2 part epic 'The Fall of Skycity' with some splendid choir, before album ends with the return of the 'Rider's Theme' as an outro. The songs are segued together with sound effects to help you become engrossed in the story. Kerion have produced a cinematic blockbuster that is destined to become a box office smash with fans of epic symphonic metal. Their Skycity can be discovered here
, where you can learn more about the story and characters, a buccaneering 9/10 (Phil)
(Frontiers) Reviewed 19th October 2012
Issa, the Norwegian Rock Diva is back offering us a collection of carefully selected hidden AOR gems that the singer treats her own way. These tracks have been originally included on albums by Mark Free, Aviator, 21 Guns, Atlantic, Regatta, Worrall, Blvd, TowerCity and others. Issa has created her own style and approach to the Melodic Rock scene by mixing her unique melodic sensibility with a rocking attitude, which is unseen in today’s Pop singers - real rock with a commercial sheen. These reworkings show how Issa is at ease when working on classic AOR musical material. Since her debut 'Sign of Angels', she has often been compared to such music stars as Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne and Amy Lee (Evanescence). However, she is now ready to take her legitimate place in between the great AOR chanteuses such as Ann Wilson and Robin Beck. This album is really an AOR/Melodic Rocker's wet dream, 12 numbers in all and to be honest, it is tracks like this that got me into music big time in the first place - damn awesome! Just listen to 'Power Over Me' (originally recorded by Atlantic), the absolute gem of a number 'Just A Wish' (21 Guns) and 'State of Love' (Mark Free). Whatever happened to Now & Then Records? Although I am sometimes wary of covers, Issa has put her own stamp on these songs, and I well recommend this when it gets released on the 2nd November...9/10 (Dave)
KRISTALIDA...'LIFE OR DEATH' maxi single
(Self Released) Reviewed 17th October 2012
Welcome to the Symphonic World of Kristalida and it is with the greatest of pleasure that I get to review this awesome 5 track maxi single. Very well packaged and with awesome artwork, the music is rather good too. The opener and promotional single 'Life or Death' actually starts with the sound of one of those heart monitors, that then goes into a continual beep when a life may have ended. The number is indeed about the dramatic moment in which a woman decides between the life represented by white roses, and the death represented by black roses. Dark lyrics too as one may expect - "two roses, two ways, it's life or death". 'The Phoenix Song' is an uptempo Symphonic number, taking on a more Power Metal feel to it, as the magical Phoenix returns bringing back our hearts from the ashes. The next two numbers are instrumentals of the opening two songs, closing with the piano led 'Fading Nature' an added bonus track. Kristalida is an up and coming band from the USA, and I will be interested to hear more as and when. Their Facebook is here
and although I will not give this maxi single a score, an album based on the material here should be pretty damn good! (Dave)
INFINITUS MORTUS...'THE CONSPIRACY OF LOVE'
(Self Released) Reviewed 21st September 2012
Infinitus Mortus is the brainchild of drummer, guitarist, keyboardist and composer Stephen Megna from New Jersey, USA. Fed up with the local music scene, he decided to plough his own furrow and create his own vision of European Symphonic Gothic metal, a striking departure from the Bon Jovi wannabes that you would expect to find in the Garden State. He released his first concept album ‘2012’ in 2010, if that makes sense, about the Mayan prediction for the end of the world. Seeing as we are all still here, clinging onto the wreckage, he has embarked on a new venture with two new lead singers, brother and sister duo Caitlin and Vincent James 'VJ' Meehan. The theme of this new album is based on “the superficiality of love, and the anguish it brings, taking the listener on a journey of heartache and betrayal”, with the fourth member of the team being lyricist Rebeca Proaño Pasquel. Strangely in their press release and Facebook description they write “Caitlin’s sweet vocals, contrasted by her brother’s grittier growls, reflect the sentiment that love is sweet, but cannot be trusted”, conjuring up images of a beauty and beast type band, but if VJ is a growler, then I’m a Peruvian goat herder, he is in fact a rather good rock singer! Their music similar to Angtoria and Epica, but with the growls replaced by Vincent’s clean rock singing, Caitlin and her excellent rock opera type voice being the dominant force, her brother playing a more supporting role. Stephen is a remarkable and very talented multi-instrumentalist, the songs are full of twinkling piano, rich orchestrations, deep down and dirty guitar riffage, skilled shredding and not surprisingly as he’s a drummer, he loves to put in short bursts of machine gun drum work. This is a set of catchy melodic songs with a dark dramatic gothic vibe that really rumble along at quite a rate, all well produced by Stephan and his engineer John Freestal, with a very European sound. Every track is superb, the consistent quality maintained throughout, but put me in an arm lock, I would highlight the rocking ‘One With The System’, ‘Your Sin’ with it’s rippling piano and super guitar solo, the seductive ‘Dance of Seduction’, and the soaring 'Black Wings'. Stephen and the gang have creative a prime quality authentic European symphonic gothic metal album, a style and genre totally alien to most Americans, even the great Within Temptation have had to totally change their sound to attack the American market, but Europeans will absolutely love it to death, and if you wish that Mark Jansen would sing rather than grunt, this is perfect for you. You can fall in love with the band at this location
, a dead good 9/10 (Phil)
IN THIS MOMENT...'BLOOD'
(Century Media) Reviewed 28th August 2012
I love In This Moment fronted by Maria Brink, and this band sure know how to rock, and rock with balls and attitude. This is the bands 4th album, with the previous releases kinda flirting between the rather more extreme metal sound of the debut 'Beautiful Tragedy', to the more melodic 2nd release 'The Dream'. Their previous record 'A Star-Crossed Wasteland', sent some punters hiding behind their sofas after adopting a rather more heavier style similar to the debut, but this release kinda develops a balance between the two styles with some heavy extreme moments mixing quite nicely with some rather strong radio friendly melodies. The guitar riffs from Chris Howarth are heavy of course, strong enough to stop an express train, Maria lets loose vocally on more than one occasion as you would expect, but there are some rather cool keyboard and electronic effects that do appear on this recording that work amazingly well with the music on offer. My faves? well they are a plenty, but try the catchy 'Whore' with it's radio friendly chorus, the angry 'You're Gonna Listen', the awesome 'Burn', the semi commercial sounding 'Scarlet' and another catchy number 'Beast Within' just for starters. This is a hugely accomplished release, from a band that has now well and truly made it's mark upon the metal scene, and long may it continue. With a vocalist that can sing like an angel one moment and scream like the devil the next, I whole heartedly recommend this...9/10 (Dave)
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 13th August 2012
LIV KRISTINE's career as a full-time composer and performing artist began in Norway in the mid nineties, being the first angelic voice in the Gothic Music revolutionary scene worldwide. The greatest inspiration for her compositions and lyrics has always been the supernatural, dark romanticism and the beauty of nature and poetry. Indeed, she should really need no introduction to fans of the female fronted rock and metal scene. Not only has she a solo singing career that seems to be doing well, she was also once the singer with the now defunct Theatre of Tragedy, has had collaborations amongst others with Cradle of Filth and Atrocity, and is also the leading lady in mega band Leaves' Eyes. So what about her latest release, her fourth in her solo quest for stardom. Well 'Interlude', a short intro kicks things off before the upbeat, rather catchy and poppy 'Solve Me' puts the album into overdrive. The awesome 'Silence' slows it down, and this is the pattern 'Libertine' develops - slower numbers alternating with rather more up tempo ones. 'Vanilla Skin Delight' is not bad, but to be honest, Liv could have sung this on her own without the help of Tobias Regner, winner of ‘Deutschland sucht den Superstar’, which I understand is the German version of ‘Pop Idol’. Anyway, other numbers that appeal to me are the slow 'Panic', the up tempo and radio friendly 'Paris Paris' and the heavier title track, this quite possibly the heaviest number on the record. The album's closer is the rather good cover, the Kate Bush song 'The Man With The Child In His Eyes'. 'LIBERTINE' is truly a milestone in Liv's career; it sums up her most important artistic experiences in her life-long creative journey. Her own lyrics and melodies are exceptional, and with production from the capable hands of Alexander Krull at his own Mastersound Studio, this we all know is going to be good. Recommended when it gets released on Sept 7th.. 8.75/10 (Dave)
INNER BLAST...'SLEEPLESS MONSTER' EP
(Infektion Records) Reviewed 14th June 2012
Inner Blast come from Portugal and feature amongst their line up two young ladies - Liliana on Vocals and Monica on keys. We have here five tracks of keyboard driven Gothic Metal offering up some powerful melodies in the process. The opening salvo of 'Better Days' and 'Sleepless Monster' kicks things off in a powerful fashion. I did find however, that opener 'Better Days' did drag on a bit and just seemed to be a little repetative in the process. 'Tears' is a powerful ballad, while 'Fixation' has a kinda Nightwish 'bounce' to it, sounding almost vocally at times to Russel Mael from Sparks (remember them?). Closer 'Open Minds' maintains the uptempo theme of the album. This band will be an interesting prospect in the future, there is I believe room for improvement on this EP, but check them out here
and make your own mind up.... 7.5/10 (Dave)
IDEAL ZERO...S/T EP
(Self Released) Reviewed 21st May 2012
The unsigned music scene continues to amaze me, and this 5 track EP is no exception, being a notable release if I may say so from these Florida based Alternative Rockers. This is a huge sounding cd, that is in-fact a regular visitor to my cd player since the EP dropped in a few days ago. Lyricist and lead singer Irina, born in Romania during its time of communist rule, writes daring songs accompanied by infectious melodies, and infectious being the operative word here. The positive messages she puts across are apparent in the empowering and compelling lyrics, which express the importance of individuality and freedom of self-expression. 'Free Again' awesomely kicks the EP off in an a way that you instantly know that this record is going to be a winner. 'Surrender' is a slower number, but still with lots of ooommmph! 'Perfect Prey' like the opener shows a little musical aggression, while 'I Will Rise' slows it down again, and is one of my faves. I am sure our very own Kerrang FM should be falling over backwards to play any number from this album, and in-fact, I can hear 'I Will Rise' being aired on rock radio if given the chance. Closer 'Beneath The Sun' has an awesome keys intro, before the guitars kick in, coupled with great keyboard interplay. Irina has a strong melodic Amy Lee type voice which suits this style of music perfectly, and she is damn cool, but so are her band I must add. A great all round performance from a band that deserves to do well. Whole heartedly recommended, check them out at their reverbnation here
KONTRUST..'SECOND HAND WONDERLAND'
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 6th April 2012
Napalm Records sure know how to release some damn fine music! I must admit that although I had heard of Austrian Rockers Kontrust, this is really my first foray into their style of music. They are fronted by the zany and occasionally rap style male vox of Stefan, and the female vocals of Agata, who both take center stage to deliver their fiery vocal interactions. Describing their music? Well let's call it crazy metal! This their latest album delivers yet another explosive mix of playful and innovative songs. Indeed, with breathtaking speed, appealing grooves meet catchy choruses and heavy guitars cavort with sweeping melody lines. There is absolutely no way that one can keep still listening to this music. It is so appealing, zany and hideously catchy all at the same time. I know this may seem a little strange, but if the Pop Band Sparks went metal without the falsetto vocals, this is maybe what they could kinda sound like, with the addition of female vocals of course. Those who believe that innovation has ceased to exist, they should allow themselves to be pleasantly surprised by KONTRUST. This is highly original, highly innovative and I love every moment of it!!! Buy it from April 27th and slam it on the cd deck at your next party!! 9/10 (Dave)
(Self Release) Reviewed 27th February 2012
IOEarth is the creation of lifelong friends guitarist Dave Cureton and keyboardist Adam Gough from Birmingham, England, and they released their hugely acclaimed self titled début in 2009. Now a fully fledged band rather than a duo with guests, this new release sees the full maturing of their sound with the lovely vocals of Claire Malin now coming more to the fore with her Heather Findlay type voice. Their ultra modern style is very hard to pin down, at times they lie somewhere near melodic prog bands like Pendragon and Mostly Autumn, but with references to all sorts of genres like trip-hop, electronic dance, ambient, ethnic, symphonic film soundtracks, etc. etc., to create a totally unique but cohesive, consistent and creative melting pot. They manage to make their music imaginative, involving, intriguing, but also accessible, melodic and catchy. They set out their stall with the vibrant track 'Moments' that glides between lighter and heavier passages showing that they are very adept at creating variations on a theme. Then comes the two part 'Live Your Life', the first with Claire and an accompaniment of stark striking piano arpeggios, before developing into the second part, which starts rocking and then transforms into a towering refrain, throughout the album the lyrics are often used as a repeated anthem rather than an extended narrative. 'Drifting' begins with an extraordinary duet between Claire and a Cistercian monk, then after an atmospheric theramin fuelled breakdown, it moves into a jazzy bossa nova. The next two head towards symphonic rock soundtracks, the eastern infused dynamic 'Cinta Indah' and the dramatic instrumental 'Brothers' which would make a terrific theme for a murder mystery drama, especially with the use of Luke Shingler's sax. They then turn seriously groovy and funky for next two, the club anthem 'Come Find Love', and 'Finest Hour' which features samples of Winston Churchill’s famous speech (made after the fall of France in June 1940 when Britain was alone in the face of Hitler) which they turn into a sort of Winnie rap, the use of samples and effects is amazing throughout the album. Final track 'Turn Away' begins as a moody waltz, a mix of Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed, before building and building into rip-snorting guitar solo by Dave. The production by Dave and Adam is pin sharp but rich and deep, with musicianship of the highest standard by the whole band. This truly is their finest hour as the band shows that you can keep the traditions of the past whilst pushing prog into new and exciting directions that cross genre boundaries. Anyone who appreciates intelligent rock should take a moment visit their website here
, a momentous genre defying 9.25/10 (Phil)
(Season of Mist) Reviewed 21st February 2012
Kells are French and this, their third album like their others, is sung mainly in their native tongue. This is a melodic and a somewhat heavy release, a kinda heavier Evanescence if that makes sense. Kells are not Symphonic, but there is a metallic intensity to the music within these 15 tracks. That's right, 15 tracks so you do get your moneys worth and what makes this release just that little bit more interesting, is vocalist Virginie Goncalves ability to enter scream mode at the flick of a coin, like Maria Brink of In This Moment. So we have Evanescence comparisons and In This Moment comparisons all within the space of a few lines, and I think that gives a fair indication as to the direction that Kells are moving along with this release. This is a good album and a fairly consistent one too, although upon repeated listens, favourite tracks do begin to emerge, like the track 'Emmurés' which has a rather powerful but very catchy chorus that sticks in your head. Some punters will no doubt have a good old moan because it is sung in French, but so what, this is heavy melodic music, and this is damn good. I would like to point out however, that the band have included English versions of 'Se taire' (Furytale) and 'L'heure que le temps va figer' (On My Fate). I would recommend this album to anybody that likes something just a little different, great stuff!...8.75/10 (Dave)
INKUBUS SUKKUBUS..'THE GOAT'
(Resurrection Records) Reviewed 7th February 2012
Okay, I have a kinda soft spot for UK Rockers Inkubus Sukkubus. Firstly, they are fairly local to Ravenheart Towers (just a short trip down our M5), and I always find their music very listenable and indeed somewhat catchy, and you cannot beat a good catchy tune. As always with the band, they mix Rock Music with Pagan themes, this release coming hot on the heels of their last album' 'The Dark Goddess' (which I have also just reviewed below). Candia’s voice is awesome as always, and she offers the ideal sultry sexy style for this kind of music. Title track 'The Goat' gets the album into gear, and is a good song, although lyrically I find this just a little repetetive, but who gives a damn when it is this good! 'Sweet Fallen Angel' is the album's first ballad, starting with acoustic guitars and strings before the electrics kick in - great number. After having listened to 'The Goat' a few times, I cannot get bored with it as every track of the 10 on offer is different, done in the bands own imitable style. There are some oldies here, Pagan Born for example is an acoustic version lifted from the 1994 album 'Wytches', 'Fire And Ice' was a track they played when they first started back in 1989, and 'Melancholy Blue' is an old song written by Candia's partner in crime, Tony McKormack some 25 years or so ago. Standout tracks are the ballad 'Forever', the bouncy 'Rites of Pan', the aforementioned 'Pagan Born' and another foot tapper, 'Fire and Ice'. Check the band out at their website
, where the album can also be purchased. Recommended, 8.75/10 (Dave)
INKUBUS SUKKUBUS..'THE DARK GODDESS'
(Resurrection Records) Reviewed 7th February 2012
'The Dark Goddess' was released in 2010 and repressed last year and released internationally. The album is dedicated to Lilith, a Mesopotamian demon which during the Middle Ages became more known as the first wife of Adam. Erm, on that note, I thought a brief review of this would be in order, following the review of their most recent release above. This album is in keeping with the typical Inkubus Sukkubus Pagan Rockin' style, kicking off with the catchy title track 'The Dark Goddess'. The most interesting song on the album is second one in ‘Lose Yourself at the Nymphaeum’. After having done a little research myself, this song evolves around a real story about a statuesque found within the walls of a house in which Bob Gardener (the band’s bassist) worked. Like 'The Goat' reviewed above, this album is a mix of rousing Pagan rockers and awesome ballads, just listen to 'Night Angel' and 'Karnaya' as two examples of their rousing Pagan rockin' style. Melodic, catchy and worthy of an 8.75/10 (Dave)
IDEAS..'HIDE YOUR HEART'
(Hammer/Nail Records) Reviewed 31st January 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed the last release 'Phoenix', which I reviewed in April 2010, by this Hungarian band that were first founded way back in 1994, however it was only with the appointment of top singer Anita Kun in 2005 that they hit the international radar. They serve up another nine slabs of premier league mega mighty melodic symphonic metal plus a closing piano ballad that lies somewhere between Nightwish and Within Temptation, but I also now detect Edenbridge in the mix as well as some melodic metal. There is also an indefinably intangible, poetically romantic quality thanks to Anita's incredible voice, one of the finest and most distinctive in metal and rock, or or any form of music come to that, although she does remind me of a more powerful Judith Durham from The Seekers, yes, I'm showing my age. As with Phoenix it comes with 2 CD's, one in Hungarian, the other with the same songs in English. However, although I cannot understand a single word of Hungarian, it is obvious that the lyrics are not a direct translation and have been totally reworked into excellent English as they make perfect sense, fit properly and rhyme appropriately, which is very important for their anthemic choruses, “Don't you fear just hide your heart, The Night will be over soon, Don't let the world tear you apart, Upon the Earth under the Moon” ('Hide Your Heart'). This is an album of consistent sound and quality, after four catchy crackers they take it down a touch for the gorgeous mellower syncopated 'Forever'. A Moog motif signals the start of the awesome title track 'Hide your Heart' as they tear through the second half, before the gentle piano ballad 'A Cry For' ends the album on a poignant note. Like Phoenix, although they have gone to the trouble of producing an English version, it is very difficult to obtain outside Hungary. Hopefully international distribution will be arranged, it certainly deserves it as this they are a highly professional premier league band. For more ideas visit their website here
, an ideal 9/10 (Phil)
IN VIRTUE..'EMBRACE THE HORROR'
(Self Release) Reviewed 11th November 2011
At the beginning of last year I reviewed the début extended EP by these Americans called 'Delusions of Grandeur', an eclectic collection that was notable for the the song 'Dreamwalker', with a chorus that got so securely lodged in my cranium I had to have it surgically removed. Now they are back with a full length of massive ambition, a concept album based on various apocalyptic scenarios and their impact on the human race, including the ice caps melting and sharks taking over the world, der-dum, der-dum, der-dum …., military superpowers destroying everything in their wake, lava spitting geysers erupting across the planet, and everybody's fave rave from the grave, ZOMBIES!!! Lock up your daughters and head for the hills!!! The main man is again guitarist Trey Xavier, with Corinne Reif, the 'Infamous Ms. C', out front, but despite my best efforts I still haven't found out what she's infamous for, the mind boggles. After the bright and breezy French style speedy metal of the first two songs 'Suspense of Disbelief' and 'Twin Species' things take a turn for the dark side with 'Witch Hunt' as each song becomes a monster mash of metal mediums – gothic, power, speedy, traditional, folk, thrash, prog and some death featuring Trey's growls alongside Corinne's pure voice. Added to that they throw in some real curve balls, interludes with their own orchestra and choir, plus bursts of folk rock, prog rock, Latin, blues, bluegrass, horror organ, gospel, opera, etc. etc. On their Facebook they describe their influences as everything from Cannibal Corpse to The Carpenters, so baton down the hatches and expect anything and everything is the best policy. You get lashings of Trey's lightning fast neoclassical and metal guitar work, and it ends with another of his madcap instrumentals 'Afterture' where he and the orchestra play themes from the album in just about every style you can think of from jazz to metal, with Trey showing he's also a dab hand on the keyboards. The downside to the album is that it won't please all the people all the time, there are parts that I love, and parts I don't (I think death metal is a unholy row), which is the nature of the beast when you put in so many disparate elements. I also feel that they could have used keyboards, orchestra and choir more, a 'Dreamwalker' style chorus with full band, choir and orchestra would have been awesome. For these reasons I find the most successful songs to be 'Suspense of Disbelief' and the epic 'The Essence of Reason' as they have the most harmonious and impressive blend of ingredients. To paraphrase the quote from the film Armageddon in the song 'Cataclysmic Shock', guess what guys, it's time to embrace the horror, and you can have front row seats to the end of the earth if you head to their Facebook here
. A highly adventurous album that will appeal to those with daring spirits, an apocalyptic 8.25/10 (Phil)
ILLUMINATA..'A WORLD SO COLD'
(Twilight Records) Reviewed 2nd November 2011
Early last year I reviewed this Austrian bands 2008 début album 'From the Chalice of Dreams' and their 2009 EP 'A Frame of Beauty' which showed a highly promising progression in their sound. They star the dual vocal attack of seductive sisters Katarzyna and Joanna Nieniewska, together with stunning Sabrina Supan on keys and backing vocals, making them a very attractive package. Joanna appeared on their début, but by the EP she had departed to join Visions of Atlantis only to leave shortly afterwards due to health problems, now she has returned to co-front the band. The dramatic orchestral intro 'Ashes of Time' and first song 'Cold Hands, Warm Hearts', show that they have made a massive leap forward from their first. This is true premier league symphonic metal that sits between Within Temptation Silent Force style gothic and modern Nightwish power, with outstanding orchestrations, fantastic sound and wonderful vocal interplay. I just adore that blend of full symphonic orchestra and warm fuzzy guitars, in one word – gorgeous! All the songs are wondrous, multifaceted and subtly different, some a touch more gothic, like 'A Frame of Beauty', others a little bit more power, such as 'Dead Warden Dreamer', making for an absorbing and varied listening experience. I was surprised by the fact that most of them easily pass the 5 minute mark, you are so swept away that the time flies. The remarkably realistic orchestrations by done by guitarist and composer Luki Knoebl in his own personal production studio really are amazing, sounding like an Oscar winning soundtrack to a Hollywood blockbuster - soaring strings, rasping brass, whistling woodwinds and massed choirs, with some of the real flute parts done by Katarzyna. The production by the band and mixing by Jan Vacik at Dreamsound Studios is one of the best you will hear, every instrument sounds incredible and crystal clear but rich and powerful, ensuring the stellar performances by Luki, Sabrina, bassist and lyricist Christoph, and drummer Tom really shine. Unbelievably most of it was recorded in a home studio, so it just shows what be achieved with hard work and talent. The vocal interplay has the rapport that only sisters can achieve, they both have powerful distinctive voices that are somewhere between rock and semi-operatic, and they are joined by Mario Plank from Visions of Atlantis on a couple of tracks, 'End My Agony' and 'Lost in Picturesque'. This is the second release this year by an Austrian band on Twilight that has totally blown me away, the other being Shadows Grey. Quite simply an hour of perfect symphonic metal heaven, for more illumination light your way to their Facebook
, a brilliant 10/10 (Phil)
(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 3rd October 2011
Issa, the beautiful Norwegian Rock Diva, is back with a blistering new album aptly titled 'The Storm'. Since her debut, Issa has created her own style and approach to Melodic Rock by mixing her peculiar and unique melodic sensibility, with a rocking attitude which is unseen in today’s Pop singers. This is certainly not metal and certainly not easy listening Pop either, but Issa’s music has everything that will appeal to the vast masses, you could say real rock with a commercial sheen. Unlike the debut self-titled album, the new album shows her taking a shot at songwriting, and together with the Martin brothers (Vega, House of Lords, Khymera, Sunstorm), she offers up some storming tracks on the new album like 'Invincible', 'We’re on Fire' and 'The Storm', the album’s title track. Contributions also come from Robert Sall (Work of Art), Randy Goodrum (Steve Lukather, Toto, Steve Perry), Daniel Palmqvist, Johannes Stole (Xorigin), Daniel Flores, Sören Kronqvist (Crash the System, Sunstorm), Chris Laney, Magnus Karlsson (Place Vendome) amongst others! And add to that, a crystal clear production from Daniel Flores, and you have a good record. This is for fans of Melodic Rock with Pop sensibilities, and although I am not quite sure whether it quite reaches the parts her debut reached, it is nonetheless highly recommended and should cause a storm when it gets released. 9/10 (Dave)
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