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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS I-K

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IDEAL ZERO...'PERFECT DARKNESS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 11th March 2014

Formed in 2010 by lead vocalist Irina and her guitarist husband Clint, Ideal Zero is a rather cool alternative rock group from Orlando, FL. This is their first full length album, after releasing a well received EP in April 2012, that picked up a 9/10 review here at Ravenheart Towers. This 10 track effort is a massive release and Irina's vocals are awesome, a kinda powerful sexy pop/rock type voice. I hear massive commercial potential here with just the opening three numbers, 'Before We Drown', 'Little Blue Man' and 'Don't Give Up' and the production is near damn perfect. The cd continues in an awesome fashion, with further near perfect tracks like the slow to mid tempo 'Walls', the slightly heavier and rocky 'Show The All', the sensual sounding 'Love Crime', the heavy, rocking and a fave of mine 'Now That We Know' and the piano led and very good closing ballad 'My Last Request'. Ideal Zero has created without any doubt a unique blend of hard hitting music with heartfelt lyrics and infectious melodies, and there is a lot of commercial potential on show here, with the second half of the cd offering a slightly more heavier, metallic and up tempo feel. Their Facebook is at www.facebook.com/IdealZero so check them out, this is damn good!... 9.25/10 (Dave)

KOWAI...'DISSONANCE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 4th Feb 2014

Kowai from Holland is very proud to announce the release of their long awaited debut album. The album will be released on Feb 7th and has been produced by Dutch top producers Joost van den Broek (Epica, Stream of Passion, ReVamp and Nemesea) and Jeffrey Revet (Stream of Passion/Milkmark). And I will tell you something - we have another awesome release from The Netherlands and this should be absolutely massive! The band give us 9 tracks of bombastic Gothic Metal that has totally taken my breath away. Fronted by Laura van Nes with occasional subtle grunts from Bertran Zwijnenburg this release is from the top drawer, and could well propel the band immediately into the Premier League of Female fronted Metal. Every track here is an intense bombastic monster waiting to pierce your ear drums and this is one helluva debut from this band. All nine numbers here are magical highlights and I suggest that anybody who is into Within Temptation, Sirenia, Stream Of Passion, Delain and the like, gets this immediately. Visit the band's website here and support another awesome Dutch band... 9.25/10 (Dave)

INDICA...'SHINE'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 31st January 2014

Nuclear Blast describe this as "Fairy Pop" and I suppose in a way they may be correct. Indica are one of those bands that ask the question; "why are they signed to a metal label like Nuclear Blast?". Maybe something to do with their links with Nightwish main man Tuomas Holopainen. Anyway, metal label or not, this is pretty good stuff that certainly has Pop leanings and indeed reminds me a little of some of the Eurovision songs we hear over here in Europe. Indica's music and lyrics are written by the band's charismatic singer Jonsu (with a little help from her friends), who started her composer's career even before she went to school, writing little 'symphonies' two bars long. 'Shine' offers up 12 tracks of rather catchy Pop/Rock with the occasional Pop Ballad, that will have you tapping your feet before you can say Indica! I have been known to go for some of the poppier stuff, just listen to my radio show, so this to my ears is good. I perhaps may have liked 'Shine' a little heavier but that is not a complaint, and you will find the album growing on you with each play. If you like your music at the lighter end of the Rock spectrum, certaily flirting with Pop, then buy this...recommended 8.5/10 (Dave)

JEWEL NIGHT...'HOW FOREVER' (Single)

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th November 2013

So the voice of an Angel lives down under in Melbourne Australia, and after chatting with her, she seems very nice too. This track by a new artist on the block, Jenni (AKA) Jewel Night I stumbled across while trawling the net, and I dragged up this little 5+ minute gem as I pulled my net in. This is totally awesome and musically can be compared to Enya, Sirenia and Within Temptation. This is simply a haunting emotional ballad from this lovely lass who on this showing deserves massive success. To be honest, Europe and the USA will go bonkers over this. I do not normally review singles but I just had to bring this to the attention of the masses out there. Her Facebook is here and the single can be purchased from cdbaby, and all the normal digital outlets. I do not normally score a single track, but let me just say that an album of the same quality would score a 9+ (Dave)

INDIGO DARKPSYCH...'ALL THAT REMAINS'

(Distribution Ravenheart/Code7) Reviewed 23rd October 2013

Here we have another offering from Maltese metal artist Indigo Darkpsych, and to be perfectly frank, you will not find many other hard working and enthusiastic musicians within the business. This is her third physical release I believe, and what an offering this is, throwing at the listener a mix of Alternative, Industrial, Goth tinged Rock and Metal. Indigo is by and large just Indigo (Marvic Lewis) with a little help from a certain David Depasquale, and if you want some half decent crunch to your music, this album has it all. Within this style of music, and I am rather surprised that this lass has not been at least looked at by one of the bigger labels, but there you go, such is the music biz these days. There are ten numbers here, they all rock, there are some fine synth parts from Marvic and excellent guitar work to boot, compliments of the aforementioned David Depasquale, who is also fully responsible for everything else (apart from those synths) on the album so we are told. This is a great selection of highly charged songs, well worth checking out. Her FaceBook is here .... 8.75/10 (Dave)

KILL FOR EDEN...'LIVING ON MARS' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 14th October 2013

Here is an EP from the awesome London band Kill for Eden fronted by Lyla D'Souza. Basically what we have here are three tracks, 'Living On Mars' being a great rock song from their album that was released earlier this year - this number being remixed and remastered. Then there are a further two new songs, 'The Dome' and 'Shoot Me'. The former being a number that leads you into a false sense of security with it's quiet acoustic intro, before things explode with Lyla and the band screaming out of your speakers like punks on acid - awesome! The latter 'Shoot Me' has a kinda bluesy feel in it's quieter moments, but by and large is a hard rocking melodic number with some awesome musicianship coupled with massive and at roaring vocals from Lyla. This is very good and well produced EP that is a useful addition to their album that picked up a good review on this site back in April (2013)...9/10 (Dave)

IMPULSE...'DREAM OF THE FAITH'

(Self Release) Reviewed 20th August 2013

Inspired by the likes of Within Temptation and Nightwish, lead guitarist and keyboardist Jeffrey Lankhaar started to write his own songs, after four years he had finished eleven and in May 2012 he entered Audiolabs Recordings, a local studio where bass player Thomas Knops was already making music for many years together with owner Martijn Hoek. Almost every week Jeffrey and Thomas visited the studio to record and mix Jeffrey's dream and by March 2013 the album was complete. Their singer Monique Terhoeve has a lovely light lyrical voice that floats beautifully, airily and effortlessly above the assemblage, similar in style to French singers such as Marjolaine Bernard from Wildpath. The album starts in familiar Dutch gothic terrain not a million miles away from Delain's early Lucidity period with the opening trio of title track 'Dream of the Faith', 'Without Remorse' and 'Cursed', followed by the building power ballad 'All Shall Fade'. They then shift up a gear as they head towards Wildpath, but stopping short of double peddling, with the galloping 'At World's End' and the charging 'Leviathan'. The centrepiece is the four part epic 'The Tower', which starts like a mid tempo Nightwish number before the band accelerate into full flow, terrific stuff. 'Pandora's Box' and Beast of the Black Forest' rock like the aforementioned beast, and the album is rounded off with the superb anthemic 'The Shadow Seeker', and the lighter waver 'I Will Find You There'. The sound is lively and bright, with a gritty guitar tone, and all brilliantly orchestrated. This is one of those albums that starts well but then builds in momentum until by the time of 'The Tower', you're thoroughly enjoying yourself. It is classic symphonic metal, but with a unique flavour that lies somewhere between Dutch, French and Finnish brands. Dream of the Faith will certainly make a wonderful addition to your collection, so head to www.dreamofthefaith.wix.com/impulse, and it's also available at CD Baby, an impulsive 9/10 (Phil)

INHALE THE FALL...S/T EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 13th August 2013

Inhale The Fall is an Indie Rock/Metal band from Cork in Ireland, and we present here their freshly released 4 track EP that recently dropped into Ravenheart Towers. Featuring the soaring vocals of Jenny O'Keefe, the band give us 4 tracks of totally infectious, well produced and gritty melodic music to get our teeth into, and bloomin' good it is too I might add. And of those tracks, there is an awesome cover of the Skunk Anansie song 'Weak'. This a welcome change from the Gothy Symphonic Music that is flooding the Female Fronted music scene at the moment. I would suggest checking this band out via the usual social networking channels, but how about taking a look at this video first for the song WEAK. This EP is recommended!...8/10 (Dave)

ILLUSORIA...'ILLUSORY WORLD'

(Self Release) Reviewed 8th August 2013

German band Illusoria were founded only last year by guitarist Falko Schulze and keyboardist Michael Raible, and have gone relatively unnoticed, until now. Out front is Eve who has a really powerful rock/pop voice with occasional operatics, she really lets loose and holds nothing back, she is supported by pirate shouts from the lads which crop up here and there, and really feature on one song, more of which later. Their music is a distinctive brand of symphonic power metal, with hints of melodic, folk, battle and even pirate metal styles, all done with a pacey panache that recalls Wildpath, and the soulful pop sensibility of Ghosthill. Opener 'A Clandestine Lovestory' is ridiculously catchy, sort of Nightwish meets Kylie, with the pirates shouting “ooh baby” like the Supremes! 'White Light' belts along like a runaway train, then comes the Ancient Bards esque battle anthem '300 – Side By Side', and the pounding thundering 'Icarus – Rising High'. While we mop our brows and tend to the wounded we can enjoy the building power ballad 'Ray of Hope', followed by the galloping title track 'Illusory World', I really like the way they take their songs down before building them back up again, adding variety and dynamics to the music. The pirates take over the ship on the Alestorm esque 'Black Sails' which even includes manic squeeze boxing, it's time to unsheathe your cutlasses folks and wave them about with gusto, terrific fun, and they close with another belter, 'Snow White', but Walt Disney never sounded like this. The sound throughout by top metal producer Uwe Lulis is suitable massive with a rumbling power. Illusoria have not broken the mould, but they've given it a darn good shake, and produced a thoroughly entertaining album for power and symphonic metal fans. Their Illusorium lies here, a belting 8.75/10 (Phil)

IN SILENTO NOCTIS...'DISENCHANT THE HYPOCRITES' EP

(My Kingdom Music) Reviewed 8th August 2013

Split into three chapters, this album could be considered a mini Metal Opera to an extent. Anyway, to the nitty gritty, In Silentio Noctis is a Finnish symphonic black metal band, founded in 2006 by Armi Päivinen and Elias Vihma, after parting ways with their former band. And it has to be said that Finland again provides us with a slab of awesome music. Fronted by Armi, and although considered Black Metal, but not overly so to my ears, there is no growling here on this EP - just the Operatic vocal style of Armi, this is pretty good!. Opener 'Chapter I: The Pit' is a humdinger with awesome machine gun drumming from Oskari "Osse" Viljanen, and indeed throughout the cd, the explosive drumming excels, together with the overall musicianship. 'CHAPTER II: Of Deception' has a rather more doomy intro, but then becomes a symphonic bewitching masterpiece, while closer 'CHAPTER III: Haunted' is an ideal way to end this EP! A divine recording and I would like to hear a full length effort from the band when one is recorded. Has to be worth checking out...8/10 (Dave)

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)

IVALYS...'LUMEN'

(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 ...8/10 (Dave)

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)

ISSA...'CAN'T STOP'

(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)

LIV KRISTINE...'LIBERTINE'

(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...9/10 (Dave)

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