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ILLUMINATA...'WHERE STORIES UNFOLD'
(Self Release) Reviewed 21st January 2015
This Austrian female-female-fronted metal band fronted by Katarzyna Nieniewska, will release this their new album on Jan 23. It was recorded with the 60-piece Czech Film Orchestra, two different choirs and various other guest musicians. With this new release (the band's second proper release) the band has tried to create something of truly epic proportions. This has included recordings with one of Europe's most prestigious orchestras, the Czech Film Orchestra. Furthermore, additional chamber strings as well as a classical choir and a musical choir partake, and Mario Plank, for years vocalist of Visions of Atlantis, again contributed to the album on certain tracks as a guest singer. And to sum up, this is rather good. The cinematic introduction 'A Story Unfolds' leads us into the awesome and bombastic 'Eternity Of Today' and I so love the chorus. The epic cinematic sound continues with 'Violets Compass', 'Phoenix', the more progressive tinged, but equally as bombastic 'Danse Macabre' and the classic closer, the 9 minute plus 'The World Constructor' amongst the other numbers here. And I do also like the slower tracks that include the heavily orchestrated 'White Heart' and 'Entwined' - stunning. The album was mixed and mastered by Jan Vacik at Dreamsound Studios in Munich, whose references not only include albums by Edenbridge, Serenity and Visions of Atlantis, but he who also did an amazing job on the band's previous effort, 'A World So Cold'. This 11 track and 62 minute epic record is a grandiose effort and well recommended by us here at the towers. Check the band out here
.. 10/10 (Dave)
JAMIE-LEE SMIT...'MON AMOUR MONIQUE'
(Epictronic) Reviewed 19th January 2015
Jamie-Lee Smit is a talented singer and model, and is also widely known within Female Fronted Rock & Metal circles for her metal band Azylya. However, she is about to spring upon us a strong selection of tracks within this her debut solo album, that is due on March 30th. The album contains 10 tracks of what can best be described musically as Indie Rock and New Wave, encompassing emotional and strong French Lyrics. The album which has been written, composed and produced by Riccardo Daga is certainly different from the music pushed out by her band Azyla. Some good numbers here including 'L'amour De Freddy' which I think translates to "The Love Of Freddy" and the catchy closer 'I'm Waiting For My Ghost' (sung in English). This record is well worth checking out and recommended by the team here at Ravenheart... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)
IL LACRIMO...S/T 5 TRACK EP
(Resisto Digital Distribution) Reviewed 11th Dec 2014
Il Lacrimo is an Italian-Hungarian Alternative Rock/Metal band, and this EP is the first release from this very good band, the release due towards the end of January. Recorded in Italy and mixed at the Fastermaster studio in London, this self-titled EP is comprised of 5 songs, that represent a little preview of the project and the direction taken by the band between two languages and two heritages. The EP offers up ballads and more up beat stuff. The most impressive feature of this band is the voice of Federica Sara that is fused with Davide-Kristof's guitars. Just listen to tracks like 'Burning Fields', 'No Longer' and the wonderful 'Non Credi' to get a grip on what I am talking about - amazingly good!! This is another new band to appear on the scene and another great band to check out. Their Facebook is here
and the video to their single and EP track 'Chains Of Gold', can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfviLtkTvPw
- well recommended... 8.75/10 (Dave)
IN THIS MOMENT...'BLACK WIDOW'
(Atlantic Records) Reviewed 10th December 2014
I am a fan of IN THIS MOMENT fronted by the unique vocals of Maria Brink and this is their 5th studio release, being another very good album. Intro 'The Infection' is haunting, creepy and rather dark that then leads into the corking 'Sex Metal Barbie', a track that sees Maria Brink meeting Marilyn Manson - an absolute corker and what a start! 'Big Bad Wolf' is next up, a howling number (excuse the pun) with another haunting, creepy undercurrent showcasing well Maria's vocal range - a belting track. The addictive 'Dirty Pretty' follows, then we have the very good pounding title track, and we get to learn a little about erm...spiders of the Black Widow variety :) 'Sexual Hallucination' is a duet with Brent Smith (Shinedown) and screams mainstream radio airplay! 'Sick Like Me' (video here
) is the first single and is rather addictive (using that word again) with its crunching riffs, while 'Bloody Creature Poster Girl' is one of those songs that you may hear sung by a sexy chick wearing a slit dress in a smokey bar :) 'The Fighter' is a piano led song and is a very commercial offering, a fave of mine actually with the track 'Bones' equally as good, Maria's vocals so sexy! 'Natural Born Sinner', the creepy 'Into The Darkness' and the piano led 'Out Of Hell' round off this very impressive album. The music here is very infectious, great vocals, great musicianship, enough said... 9/10 (Natalie Gold)
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 29th October 2014
Vienna’s blood is cooking and brewing, bringing the muscles to twitch and the nerve pathways to explode across the universe. The Kontrust debut I am reliably informed was released in 2005 and three records later, this world we live in knows from which European country the hottest Crossover of the present day is coming from! This record is the fourth album by these explosive Austrians and has everything that this style of music needs: rapid rhythms, catchy slogans, brutal guitars and angular riffs. Fronted by Agata and Stefan, the opener 'Dance' lays down the gauntlet and from then on there is no let up - this album is so so catchy with tracks like 'Why', 'Shut Up' and 'Bulldozer' being just three numbers from this eleven track album chock full of mind blowing awesomeness. EXPLOSITIVE gets released in the early part of November - it is rather good so bulldozer your way to the shop and get it!... 8.75/10 (Natalie Gold)
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 15th October 2014
When Dave offered me the chance to review this album, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands, so here goes. One of my favourite bands is in-fact Leaves' Eyes and their vocalist Liv Kristine is an icon, so what about this masterpiece, which so happens to be her fifth solo album? Well it unfolds as a dark rock gem assembling terrific melodies, enthralling song structures and a world class voice from this top class vocalist. Everything within the 10 tracks is from the top drawer - the opener 'My Wilderness' is a classic Gothic Metal track to kick the album off, like a cross between Liv Kristine and Leaves' Eyes :) And the next track 'Love Decay', a duet with Michelle Darkness is Gothic Rock/Metal at its finest. And there is more, a helluva lot more in tracks like the title track, the power ballad feat Doro, 'Stronghold Of Angels', the synth sounding and pounding tracks 'Hunters' and 'Elucidation' and the closer 'Oblivious'. Everything on this release is a classic - 'VERVAIN' being a true gift for myriads of Liv's followers, who have been following her career since her golden times with Theatre of Tragedy! Truly magical and a must buy... 9.5/10 (Aimee)
IDEOGRAM...'LIFE MIMICS THEATRE'
(WormholeDeath) Reviewed 3rd October 2014
The Ideogram Project (Opera - Voice, Kabuki - Growl/Guitars, Grand Guignol - Screams/Keyboards and Absurd – Bass) was created at the end of 2012. Its objective was to bring together an experimental and innovative musical proposition with a strong conceptual visual art, uniting the best elements of the North Italian underground scene under a new unique, ambitious creature. At the beginning of 2013 the band released the 'Raise the Curtain' Demo and 'Theatre of the Absurd' Video clip. These are the two things that paved the way for the first Italian tour, fantastic reviews and ultimately the signing of a record deal with Wormhole Death Records at the end of the same year. This deal has led to the realisation of this, their first full length that shows a more modern and electronic sound than the previous work. I do not have names of any band personel, but opening with the brief atmospheric far eastern sounding 'Life Is Pregnant Of Death', the album is mightily heavy, with some thumping tracks like 'The Art Of Bleeding', the totally pulsating 'Evil (In Her Hands)' and 'Geisha For My Demons' and the pumping hi tempo 'Am Candle'. Then we have the more melodic numbers like the catchy 'Falling Snow', the cool 'Invisible Again' and the track 'Rain Of Stars' that gives the release more of an accessible feel. Closing with 'Death Is Pregnant Of Life', overall this is a very good album from this Italian outfit that hammers its way through to your ear drums. The version we have here does also include two bonus cuts - acoustic versions of 'Invisible Again' and 'Falling Snow'. Recommended! .. 8.5/10 (Natalie Gold)
INSIDE RIOT…’GLASS MANSIONS’
(Self Release) Reviewed 19th August 2014
Here we have a hard rocking band from southern California and they offer the listener 9 tracks of hard but melodic rockin’ music. And if you are able to sit still through any of this, then boy, you have a serious medical problem. Fronted by Fawn Nicole Baxter who also plays rhythm guitar together with occasional lead vocals from lead guitarist David Strickland, this is rather good stuff. The kinda music you play with the roof down as you drive along the highway under nice sunny skies. Well that is unless you live in the UK of course. After an intro that is more akin to the noise at a Kidderminster Harriers (my local soccer team) home soccer game (only joking), the album kicks into gear with ‘The Last Chance’, a thumping tune to get you in the mood… for rock ‘n roll! The momentum continues with tracks like ‘Under Control’ and the punk like ‘Fix’! I also rather like the track ‘F**k You Righteous Sir’ – great title too :) and the rather good number 'Castle', this being a fave of mine from the cd. Closing with the twosome of ‘Love & War’ and the melodic tones of ‘The Wanted’, this is rather good bouncy Rock & Metal which we here at Ravenheart recommend wholeheartedly – similar I suppose to our very own Skarlett Riot. The band can be found here
…check them out… 8/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)
(Self Release) Reviewed 17th June 2014
In September 2010, Kalidia from Italy was born. Fronted by a young lass, Nicoletta Rosellini, the band recorded this their debut album between August and December 2013. What we have here is some rather good melodic Power Metal which is well showcased in the catchy and up tempo opener 'The Lost Mariner', which in turn is followed by the equally as good 'Hiding From The Sun' with it's catchy chorus - yes this album sounds good and we are only two tracks in. 'Dollhouse (Labyrinth Of Thoughts)' is another pleasing number to the ears, and another comment to note is how the keys play a part on the album so far. And this remains so during the remainder of the record with all round good musicianship to be noted, and further catchy and very favourable tracks to enjoy. 'Reign Of Kaluda' has a Middle Eastern vibe bubbling under the surface, while 'Harbringer Of Serenity' sees the introduction of harsh male vocals. 'Black Magic' takes on more of a Power Metal vibe and I do like Nicoletta's vocals, rather nice and not too overpowering. 'Shadow Will Be Gone' is a nice slow ballad type number, and this adds another dimension to the record - very good indeed. The title track follows and hits Power Metal territory again and is damn good. The closing duo of 'Winged Lords' and 'In Black and White' close what is a very gratifying cd from this Italian band, making them well worth checking out! Their Facebook is here
- the album gets released 27th June.. 9/10 (Dave)
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)
(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)
(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)
(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)
(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)
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