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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS L-M

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MORLAS MEMORIA...'MINE OF PICTURES'

(7US Media Group) Reviewed 17th October 2017

The second album from Dresden based septet Morlas Memoria is a concept album: 'The Neverending Story' serves as the basis for the 12 songs on 'Mine Of Pictures'. Musically one can describe the songs as Symphonic Metal, influenced by classical music together with subtle folk influences - there's even a whole orchestra on the record! I highly rated the band's well packaged debut 'Follow The Wind', and this record is equally as good. A mid to uptempo album featuring the awesome vocals of Leandra Johne, and a record that will please all fans of female fronted Symphonic Metal. Outstanding cuts include 'The Old Man Of The Wandering Mountain', the beautiful 'Uyulala', the catchy 'Das Sternenkloster' and the lovely closing title track. This is a rather cool album and is well worth checking out when it gets released on the 10th November… 9/10 (Dave)

MIRROR OF IMMORTALS...'THE FIRST MOON'

(Glisson's Digital Recording) Reviewed 5th October 2017

Mirror Of Immortals is an Alternative Rock/Metal band from the USA. There are 10 tracks on this record and to be perfectly honest, it is all rather good. Think Paramore or Flyleaf with some ooommmppphhh! No ballads here as such, the album pounds along rather nicely thank you, although the closing track is a short atmospheric cut. Well worth looking into, if this style of music fits into your musical top drawer. The band's Facebook is here...8.25/10 (Natalie)

METALITE...'HEROES IN TIME'

(Inner Wound Recordings) Reviewed 21st September 2017

Metalite was formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 2015 when Edwin Premberg [guitar] met Emma Bensing [vocals]. He presented his musical ideas and vision to her, and she agreed to join the band. The goal was to write and record melodic and memorable metal songs with a modern and fresh sound and that is excatly what this band has done. There are eleven tracks on this impressive debut, they being melodic, catchy and memorable with more hooks than a Japanese whaling fleet. Then that little lot is topped of with the strong and emotional vocals from young vocalist Emma Bensing, as well as a powerful production by Jacob Hansen. The album should be perfect for fans of bands like Beyond The Black, Dynazty and most certainly Amaranthe (without the male vocals)! Certainly well worth checking out when released 27th October - this band has potential... 9/10 (Dave)

MANORA...'DREAMSHAPES' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 14th September 2017

Manora is a symphonic metal band from the Netherlands. Their sound is characterized by clean vocals and catchy synth melodies, while still maintaining a metal foundation which is accounted for by B-tuned guitars and bass backed up by pounding drums. They originated several years ago when guitarist Ivo Visser and keyboard player Arthur Stok started writing their own songs. After several lineup changes Manora found a steady lineup at the end of 2016, with Tijn Scholtze on drums, Tomasz Kisielewicz on bassguitar and vocalist Mirte van der Ham. With this lineup, the whole process accelerated which led to the release of Manora's first EP, which we are reviewing here and bombastically good it is too. Kicking off with the bouncy title track, this leads us into the mid tempo 'Endgame' that offers the listener an idea as to what to expect across the remaining three tracks.'A Time Of Change' and 'Beacon of Hope' are complete symphonic belters. The pace does not slacken for the closing awesome cut 'The Conquest Superiority'. To summarise, this EP will appeal to all fans of the symphonic metal style of music and beyond. The band's Facebook is here - recommended being obtainable on iTunes, Spotify and many more music platforms....9/10 (Dave)

LEATHER LEAF...'DESECRATED MINDS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th August 2017

Leather Leaf is a new hard rock band from Austin Texas. The band's brand of rock is rollicking and raw, fueled by a powerful rhythm section, invigorating guitar riffs and unforgettably melodic vocal hooks. Think of Evanescence meeting Motley Crue. Fronted by Melissa Madnezz, there are seven tracks on this record, two numbers run in at under 5 mins and one runs in at over seven minutes. The opener 'Delete Me' has a symphonic feel, while second track, the epic 7 minute + 'Barely Alive' has an atmospheric intro before it kicks into gear, to my ears having a subtle folky feel, this so happens to be one of my fave cuts from the record. The title track is a belter, while 'This Haunting' is the album's power ballad with an awesome catchy chorus, and a cool atmospheric ending. 'On The Radio' is a heavy, pounding and catchy number, while 'White Picket Fence' sees the return of the atmospherics. The record closes with a radio edit of 'Barely Alive'. Overall, this is a good little release - the band's Facebook is here.. 8/10 (Dave)

LEAVING EDEN...'OUT OF THE ASHES'

(Dark Star Records) Reviewed 21st August 2017

Leaving Eden come from Boston MA and they are a three piece hard rock band fronted by Eve. They sure do seem to have experience in the field having shared the stage with many top acts in the USA, Canada and the UK. This album is their latest recording offering 11 tracks of hard rock with a jolly good sense of melody. I see from their Facebook page that they list their music as "extreme rock". I am not sure about the word "extreme" as that may put some listeners off, I would call it hard rock with front lady Eve's pop vocal style offering a great vocal presence. There is some good music on this album with the title track one of my faves, and they also throw in a couple of ballads, the awesome acoustic based 'Ashes In the Sky' a goodie. The band's facebook is here... a cool release 8/10 (Natalie)

MORLAS MEMORIA...'MINE OF PICTURES' (single)

(7Hard) Reviewed 12th August 2017

This single is a taster of what is to come from this German band. A gentle piano intro leads us into what is an awesome tune that bounces along, similar to Nightwish and the like, therefore appealing to all us fans of female fronted symphonic metal. On the strength of this one song, the forthcoming album from this band, will like their last offering 'Follow The Wind', be rather awesome. I look forward to hearing more! (Dave)

LILYGUN...'STRENGTH & GRACE'

(A Line Records) Reviewed 24th July 2017

The name "Lilygun" was just two words thrown together at first but as the band progressed, it took on a meaning all on its own. It's a perfect representation of the many contradictions the band has. Something beautiful inverted into darkness. Aggressive and heavy in parts of the songs they play to soft and fragile. All projected with a sense of glamour and a certain freshness and vibe of their own. After the success of the band's first two singles, notably the second single 'Moonlight' receiving rave reviews, making XFM's Playlist on the Ian Camfield Rock Show and a nomination for a Pure Rawk Award for ‘Best Single of the Year’, Lilygun's self-titled debut album was released on A Line Records/Cargo Records in 2012.The critically acclaimed album received outstanding reviews from a cross section of reviewers and DJs, from Rock to Pop, Metal to Goth and Alternative magazines and websites. Forward onto 2016 and Lilygun released the much anticipated first single from their second album. 'Inside', the awesome opener on the album was the last song written by Anna-Christina before suffering from a Subarachnoid Brain Haemorrhage. She decided it was fitting to release the song on the same date as the incident using her head X-Ray as the cover! A music video accompanied the release. Lilygun proved to not only be unique in sound but also in vision. Anna-Christina’s raw and powerful performance style was captured in the video and she was described as “a Gothic Kate Bush”. This album is not metal, a kinda soft rock record with ample crossover appeal that should surely see Lilygun propelled onto mainstream radio big time! The aforementioned 'Inside' is a brooding opener with a helluva catchy chorus with second cut 'Out Of Yourself' another slow brooding number. The band can also take it up a notch with with cuts like 'What Goes Around', coupled with another catchy chorus. This album is a beautiful effort, encompassing mainly slow atmospheric tracks, but it is well worth checking out. Check out Facebook here... 8.75/10 (Dave)

METEORA...'OUR PARADISE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th June 2017

Meteora from Budapest was founded in 2010. From the original members only Máté Fülöp (bass, growls) and Atilla Király (ex-guitar, synth) remained, the current lineup consisting of Noémi Holló (vocals), Evelin Barsi (drums) and Csaba Solymosi (lead guitar) besides them. The band contrasts between the beautiful voice of Noémi and the harsh growls of Máté, and mix it with power, gothic and symphonic elements, well showcased within the 10 tracks on this album. This release to be honest is rather good, offering beauty and the beast vocals, bouncy and catchy with it too. The band's Facebook is here... 8.25/10 (Dave)

MINNIVA...'VOLUME #2'

(Self Release) Reviewed 20th June 2017

Minniva is a Norwegian Rock/Metal Cover Vocalist and this is her second album, hence the title VOLUME #2. Basically she does what is said on the tin. A Rock Cover Vocalist in the Heavy/Symphonic metal style (from bands like Within Temptation, Nightwish, Epica, Sabaton, etc.). Minniva also likes to cover other material - 'Listen To Your Heart' (Roxette) is on this album as one example. This is a strange one to review, but if you like cover versions then give this lass a listen... her website is at www.minniva.com/... 8.25/10 (Dave)

LAST PERFORMANCE...'ALLEGIANCE TO FALL'

(Self Released) Reviewed 12th June 2017

Last Performance is a Russian Symphonic Metal band with subtle Progressive influences, fronted by Nadejda Razdymalina. This album offers 11 tracks of prime time and bombastic Symphonic Metal, with powerful operatic vocals from the aforementioned Nadejda and at times featuring a strong choral backdrop. After the starter 'Timeless' which is a brief intro, 'Collapse Of Empire'gets things going good and proper and is a real symphonic belter.'Undercover of Darkness' maintains the momentum, while 'End of Pretense' flirts with Power Metal territory. There are further good numbers including the bouncy 'Black Sun', the ballad 'The Far Side of the World' and the epic closer 'Allegiance To The Fall'. The bands Facebook can be found here, the album is worth checking out... 8.25/10 (Dave)

L.I.A.M....'LIFE IS A MASQUERADE'

(Self Released) Reviewed 11th June 2016

L.I.A.M. is a Symphonic Metal band from Argentina and this album offers eight tracks of thundering Symphonic Metal. I do not know much about the band and I am not even sure of the name of the soprano singer but nonetheless, this is rather good stuff. All very tuneful and sounding good to these ears. Worth checking out if you are into the female fronted symphonic metal scene. The band's Facebook is here.. 8.25/10 (Natalie)

MANDRAGORE...'A WAY BACK THERE' EP + SINGLE 'AYLAN'

(Self Released) Reviewed 26th May 2017

Mandragore is a Symphonic metal band from Thessaloniki, Greece. The band started in early 2011 as an idea. Three years later, in the fall of 2014 and after several line-up changes, Mandragore was born and took it's current form. This three track EP was released in-fact a couple of years ago and forged it's way under our radar. But I am now going to review it nonetheless. The band's music is a combination of dynamic female vocals, along with orchestral and folk parts, melodic guitar solos and cool female vocals from singer Elissophie Davli. A fave track of mine from the EP is the final cut, the bombastic sounding 'A Way Back There' And as an added bonus, I have also included a review here of their rather bouncy sounding single 'Aylan' released in March 2016. The song took it's name after Aylan, a three-year old boy, who was found lying lifeless on a shore in Turkey, and is dedicated to Aylan himself and to all those people who lost their lives trying to escape to a new life. This is a good little EP + the single too, and they are sure worth checking out here if one has not already done so... 8.5/10 (Dave)

LIGHTYEARS...'ERASE' EP

(TOO LOUD RECORDS/WormHoleDeath) Reviewed 23rd May 2017

Lightyears is an Italian 5 piece female fronted band formed in 2017, capable of generating a compact and recognizable sound, with the intent to share their positive energy. What we have is a 5 track EP of highly energetic Alternative Rock/Metal with clean singing and screams. This is all upbeat and catchy stuff from this band and is well worth checking out when released 2nd June. Their Facebook is here... 8.25/10 (Dave)

MOTTO PERPETUO…’CIRCUS OF LIFE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 20th May 2017

Motto Perpetuo come from Barcelona and from what I can establish, this is the band’s second album. Fronted by Mireia Farre they ply their trade by way of melodic power metal. There are ten cuts here and it is all rather bouncy and catchy like ‘Immortal Wings’ , ‘Dreamer’ and ‘Fight on Fire’, while there is the customary ballad – ‘The Other Side’. A brief review but this album is not bad and is worth having a listen. The band’s Facebook is here.. 8/10 (Natalie ‘The Nugget’ Gold)

MOSTLY AUTUMN...'SIGHT OF DAY'

(MA Records) Reviewed 29th April 2017

Mostly Autumn is fronted by Bryan Josh and Olivia Sparnenn and are from York here in the UK. This is yet another awesome album from the band, a nice chunk of Progressive/tuneful rock which is actually very satisfying to these ears. The opener which so happens to be the title track is a 14 minute epic, in-fact a beautiful track with shades of Pink Floyd among many others. The beauty continues with tracks like 'Once Round The Sun', the haunting 'The Man Without A Name' and to be frank I may as well say every track on this record. This is easy to listen Prog without the widdly diddly bits and any guitar solos that appear from Bryan are a total joy to listen too. A great album which can be purchased here... 8.5/10 (Natalie 'The Nugget' Gold)

LIV SIN...'FOLLOW ME'

(Despotz Records) Reviewed 28th April 2017

Despite great success, the band Sister Sin parted ways in late 2015 after a 13 year career. Now the former singer and major force, Liv Sin (Liv Jagrell), from the former band, rises from the ashes with a new band and a whole new album. The new music shows the power and attitude that Liv is known for, well showcased within this new album. Some absolute belters here, Liv's vocals thrusting their way out of the speakers and piercing your ear drums in the process. The album is heavy, it is damn cool and would appeal to lovers of melodic heavy metal as there are some catchy tunes here despite their total heaviness. We have the fist pumping 'Let Me Out', the pounding 'Godless Utopia', the catchy 'Endless Roads', the equally as catchy 'Killing Ourselves To Live', the awesome 'Immortal Sin' closing with the 'The Beast Inside' that starts slow and broody before upping the ante. Co-produced by longtime ACCEPT and U.D.O. member Stefan Kaufmann and U.D.O. bassist Fitty Wienhold, this album is well worth purchasing - turn it up and annoy the neighbours lol... 8.75/10 (Dave)

MENTAL CIRCUS...'DIVINE'

(UNB Records) Reviewed 22nd April 2017

MEnTAL CIRCUS is a Belgian Gothic Metal band founded in 2012 by lead singer Sanne Marico. She was joined by Yorgo Tsiafakis (Guitar), Philip Weinhold (Drums), Nick Kucnerowicz (Bass guitar), Emily Vannes (Backing vocals) and Nelle Boogaerts (Cello). On this, their second record, there are thirteen tracks of catchy Gothic Metal with a subtle Electronica feel. Singer Sanne at times reminds me of Amy Lee (Evanescence). This is a good album with a tsunami of good tracks including 'Let Me Be Your God' (with beep!), the electronica driven 'Heaven', the ballad 'Someday', the catchy 'Eyes Of Evil' and the metallic sounding 'Heroin'. The band's Facebook is here - a good album... 8.75/10 (Dave)

MASTERCASTLE...'WINE OF HEAVEN'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 20th April 2017

Mastercastle is an Italian Heavy Metal band with traditional and neo-classical influences. Founded by guitarist Pier Gonella (Necrodeath/ex-Labyrinth) and vocalist Giorgia Gueglio, the line-up is completed by bassist Steve Vawamas and drummer Alessio Spallarossa (Sadist). After having released 5 albums and toured incessantly in support of them, Mastercastle are ready to come back with this, their new effort. Produced by Pier Gonella at MusicArt Studios, the band composed and recorded a bunch of songs directly in the studio with no pre-production, with the intention of keeping intact the spontaneity of the 9 chosen ones. They were able to come up with very innovative sounds by using low tuned instruments and progressive keyboards, as well as an intriguing lyrical concept centered around wine as our spirit and lifeblood. Strong riffs, virtuoso guitar solos and captivating female vocals are just some of the ingredients that make this album special, all well showcased within the nine melodic tracks on offer. The album also including cover versions of songs by Joe Hisaishi ('Laputa - Castle In The Sky' soundtrack) and Yngwie Malmsteen (Making Love). This is an album that is not to be missed and is well recommended when released 19th May... 9/10 (Dave)

MINDMAZE...'RESOLVE'

(Inner Wound Recordings) Reviewed 11th April 2017

'Resolve' is MindMaze's third full-length and first-ever conceptual album. What we have is female-fronted metal with elements of power, progressive, traditional heavy metal, and melodic rock. This album from this band from the USA, over the span of 68 minutes offers music ripe with recurring themes, the band taking the listener on a whirlwind journey through the scope of human emotion, in hope they will be able to project their own experiences into these intensely personal lyrics inspired by an amalgam of real-life events. Some epic tracks here led by the powerful vocals of Sarah Teets and I am highly impressed with what I hear. Some bombastic numbers like second track 'Fight The Future' that comes in after a 4 minute plus opening instrumental. 'In This Void' is a brief piece before both the melodic sounding cuts 'Drown Me' and 'Sign Of Life' fire out of the speakers. Other great tracks include 'One More Moment', the catchy and pounding 'Twisted Dream', the awesome power ballad 'Release' and the closing epic 11 + minute belter of a tune 'The Path To Perseverence'. This very good album confirms that the band continues to forge their footprint as one of the most promising and unique female-fronted bands to come along in recent times - this record is due April 28th and is well recommended as a consequence... 8.75/10 (Dave)

MOANING SILENCE…’FRAGRANCES FROM YESTERDAY’ EP

(Progressive Vision Group) Reviewed 10th April 2017

Moaning Silence (Facebook is here) is an atmospheric metal band based in Athens, Greece in the vein of Anathema, Paradise Lost & My Dying Bride. With Christos Dounis on male Vocals & Guitars, Eleni Kapsimali on female vocals and Spyros Zorzos on Drums, this EP is the band's 2nd release, the first album 'A World Afraid Of Light' being a full length offering. We have six tracks of Doom/Gothic Metal…first track, ‘Entering The Great Night’ is an instrumental leading into ‘Before The Dawn’ which reminds me to a certain extent of early Theater of Tragedy. ‘Just Another Day’ (Catharsis version) was featured on the debut as a non Catharsis version, while the band does a cover of the Beatles ‘Yesterday’. The closing duo consisting of the pounding ‘Flaming Fall’ and the folky feel of ‘Summer Rain’ end this little beauty. Once again, the whole project was overseen by Bob Katsionis (Firewind/Outloud) while this is another recommendation… 8.5/10 (Dave)

LIFE OF AGONY…’A PLACE WHERE THERE’S NO MORE PAIN’

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 9th April 2017

Life Of Agony emerged from the New York music scene in the early '90s with one of the most distinctive sounds in its genre. Best known for its 1993 metal/crossover debut ‘River Runs Red’, the band instantly built a die-hard, cult following. Fast forward to 2016, the band signed a deal with Napalm Records to record this, the group's 5th studio album, being produced by Matt Brown & Life Of Agony and mastered by Ted Jensen (Alice in Chains, Machine Head, Deftones). The highly emotional lyrics by singer Mina Caputo link all songs by the four-piece together, then and now: born as Keith Caputo, she had her Transgender coming out in 2011, changed her name, but kept her inimitable style of writing deeply from the heart. The drive and intensity of these ten pounding, blistering new tracks surpass all expectations that have built up in the past 12 years - there are plenty of gut wrenching rock melodies, raging guitar riffs, heartfelt lyrics and killer grooves that will keep you listening to the end. No ballads until the piano led and rather haunting heart felt final track 10, 'Little Spots Of You', basically just pure rock and metal. The famed River Runs Red line-up, featuring vocalist Mina Caputo, guitarist Joey Z, bassist Alan Robert, and drummer Sal Abruscato are excited to take the stage together once again this Spring. This album is a killer of a record and comes well recommended – due 28th April… 9/10 (Dave)

LUMINATUS…’FORBIDDEN PASSAGES’

(Crynos Records) Reviewed 6th April 2017

Luminatus is a Nerdy and fun Symphonic Metal Quintet from the deserts of Arizona. Classically trained vocals from Holly McGinty blend over a mixture of hard hitting and light moving music. This is a reasonably good album, although I feel that the pen-ultimate track which is a powerful orchestral instrumental could maybe have been left off the album, or perhaps used as the opening number. Anyway, the opening salvo of ‘Lust’ and ‘Black Butterfly’ are thundering melodic tunes and possibly two of the best tracks from the record. There are other decent tracks including the folky, progressive and quirky sounding ‘The Depths’, the rather cool ‘Chasing Rainbows’ with its awesome synth intro and the dance beat of ‘Halo Around My Heart’. Meanwhile, the upbeat and hideously catchy instrumental ‘Stagecoach’ could be an Irish Jig, while in summary this is not a bad effort. The band’s facebook page is here…it is nerdy, it is fun, it is a grower and it’ll scrape an 8/10 (Dave)

LOST IN GREY...'THE GREY REALMS'

(NoiseArt Records) Reviewed 31st March 2017

LOST IN GREY was founded back in 2013 and is now ready to enter the spotlight. The Finnish sextet around front man Harri Koskela is inspired by Symphonic and Folk Metal, but also by film soundtracks and the beautiful nature in Northern Finland. This album consists of high-quality compositions that cannot be beaten in terms of dramaturgy. Therefore the story of 'THE GREY REALMS' is as important as the music itself. Divided into three chapters, not unlike the classical stage play, LOST IN GREY knit a complex story about Lillian, a woman trying to escape the cruelty in the world and getting to a paradise-like place, The Grey Realms. Telling the story within the 8 tracks on the cd, Harri Koskela (also keyboard), Emily Leone (also violin) and lyricist Anne Lill Rajala play the characters within the story and bring a very own touch to it through their diverse voice talents. Witness the unbelievable talent of each and every one band member in three acts, making this extraordinary debut album a diverse and at the same time unique experience. This is a very good album for all lovers of Symphonic/Theatrical Rock and Metal and is another one for the shopping list!... 8.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

MIDNIGHT SORROW…’PICK A TALE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 26th March 2017

With their musical passions fuelled by Symphonic Metal, Maureen (vocals) and Nicolas (Keyboards) (Ex- LunaTales) decide to create their own musical project. In a cold winter of 2011, Midnight Sorrow was conceived. In February 2014, this French band release their first EP 'At First' and then they prepare for their first full length album, and this is it! There are 13 tracks here of Symphonic Metal with occasional folk influences, these folk influences surface mainly on second track in, 'Between Sun and Moon', while the choral influenced ‘Waterfall’ is a fave track of mine from the album as is the mid-tempo ‘At First’ and the acoustic ‘Phaze’. The band offers lyrical singing, sharp riffs and soaring up tempo symphonics, weaving a musical universe combining melody and power. I did actually need a couple of listens to get into this album but for you female fronted fanatics, here is another one to stick on your ‘must buy’ list. Check out Midnight Sorrow’s facebook here… 8/10 (Dave)

MY OWN GHOST…’LIFE ON STANDBY’

(Secret Entertainment) Reviewed 10th March 2017

My Own Ghost released their debut in 2015, that album titled ‘Love Kills’. Now in the early part of 2017, the band are about to hurl at the unsuspecting listener this their 2nd recording. This Luxembourg based band sure know how to record a catchy song or two, or in-fact a whole albums worth. If you was to include their debut, that is two albums worth of awesome, melodic and catchy music to play loud and annoy the neighbours. ‘Life On Standby’ is an awesome cd, ten tracks of total awesomeness, mixing Rock with a little Pop. I thought their debut was good, this is even better, and indeed this is up there with the best of them. Every track a total winner and they should be played on radio stations across the world. Closer ‘Hope’ actually screams radio airplay. Secret Entertainment release the album on 7th April and it has been produced by none other than Hiili Hiilesmaa! You might have heard his work on albums from HIM, The 69 Eyes, Apocalyptica and Amorphis among others, and as a consequence this ups the ante in the must buy department!... 9.75/10 (Dave)

LANTHANUM...'ASCEND THE DARKNESS'

(Crimson Kingdom) Reviewed 14th February 2017

Here we have a dose of Post Grunge Metal from these rockers from the USA. And their singer Allie Abstract has a rather pleasant angelic voice, with the mainly mid to uptempo tracks sure containing their fair share of melodic sensibility. Indeed I found this album a pleasant listen from beginning to end with some hideously catchy tracks. Without going into detail, if you like some catchy inoffensive rock/metal, then check this lot out. The band's Facebook is here.. this is good! 8.5/10 (Dave)

MERCURY RAIN...'St Matthieu (Remastered & Reborn)'

(Bristol Archive Records) Reviewed 24th January 2017

Formed in 1994 by young veterans of the Bristol music scene, Mercury Rain started life unpromisingly as three guys who ‘just wanted to play metal’. Ex-Crisis bassist Jon Hoare and bandmate and drummer Andy Pester had hooked up with guitarist Dion Smith, but Mercury Rain lacked both a singer and a direction until Sonia Porzier gave them both. Responding to a ‘vocalist wanted’ advert she brought to the band both a fabulous voice and a copy of Nightwish’s second album ‘Oceanborn’. At this time the metal female voices genre was still pretty much in its infancy, but Jon in particular was immediately attracted to the scene. ‘St Matthieu – Remastered & Reborn’ showcases the band at its finest. The compilation features the album in its entirety, augmented by three cuts from ‘Dark Waters’ (‘The City Of Ys’, ‘Bride Of the Dark’ and ‘The Boat Of The Dead’) and ‘Incubus’ and ‘Amber Reflections’ from the band’s extremely rare ‘Where Angels Fear’ debut. With all tracks recently remastered, this album emphasises what an exciting and ground-breaking record this was for the UK metal female voices genre, being full of mid to up tempo classic cuts. This is certainly a release to grab hold of to familiarise yourself with the music of Mercury Rain if you are not already familiar. Well recommended with the expected release being April 7th… 9/10 (Dave)

LUCID FLY...'BUILDING CASTLES IN AIR'

(Self Release) Reviewed 5th Jan 2017

Loyal fans describe Lucid Fly's music as epic, dark, alternative progressive, heavy rock with strong and at the same time vulnerable vocals; some say their sound is like Evanescence meets A Perfect Circle. Lucid Fly founders Nikki Layne and Doug Mecca joined forces in Orlando, Florida in 2001. On the hunt for the perfect name, a friend stumbled over an old newspaper with a headline that read Lucid Flies Into The Record Book, featuring an article on astronaut Shannon Lucid, who had broken the record for the longest duration in space by an American, as well as by a female. From that headline, Lucid Fly was born. The band exploded onto the Orlando music scene and quickly gained a large and devoted following. 2005 saw the release of their debut EP, 'Adapting To Gravity'. I have now in my grubby paws this debut full length album, which to be perfectly frank is damn awesome. This is a solid release offering a high dosage of melodic progressive alternative rock tunes, with a subtle dark undercurrent, and with not a filler in sight. The band's facebook can be found here, this album is worth checking out...9/10 (Dave)

MISTFUL...'WHO LEADS THE WAY'

(Self Release) Reviewed 25th November 2016

Mistful come from Greece,is fronted by Eva Fourlanou, and is a band that plys their trade by way of Melodic Hard Rock. We have 9 tracks of rockers and occasional ballads on this release, being a rather good album. Although the record is consistent from beginning to end, it lacks that standout track that would make you go back and hit the repeat button. Nonetheless, a good listen for these coming winter nights. Their Facebook is here...8/10 (The Nugget)

LOST DEVOTION…’WHEN IT FINALLY FALLS APART’

(Self Release) Reviewed 14th November 2016

Combining rocking female vocals, grunts and heavy guitars with industrial and symphonic elements, Lost Devotion is ready to make its mark on the Female Fronted Metal universe. The band fronted by classically trained vocalist Judith, was originally founded in 2008 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Over the years songs were written, practiced and played live on stages across the Netherlands. In 2013 all recordings for this, their first full-length album were completed at the Imagineering Suite studios in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. Unfortunately, due to a myriad of personal circumstances, the album was shelved. Until now! With tracks ranging from the aggressive 'Last Conversation' to the intimate acoustic ballad 'End of a Summers Day', the diverse musical background of the band members is reflected. As with most things musical that comes out of The Netherlands, and with fave tracks a plenty, this is a damn good album, being heavy, melodic and offering a bombastic dose of Rock and Metal music to please many a music fan. For more information, contact David at LostDevotionBand@gmail.com, but the album is available digitally (iTunes, Amazon and the like) and is well recommended…9/10 (Dave)

LIGHT & SHADE...'THE ESSENCE OF EVERYTHING'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 12th November 2016

When I receive music, I sometimes do not quite know what to expect. This being one such album. Anyway, Light & Shade is a new, young supergroup whose members have already acquired extensive live and studio experience having being part or shared the stage with renowned acts such as Nightwish, Dream Theater, Amaranthe, Sonata Arctica, Rhapsody, Within Temptation, Arch Enemy, Slipknot, Fleshgod Apocalypse and many more. And they have received recognition and awards from the Lollapalooza Festival and the International Portuguese Music Awards among others for their expertise in rock/metal. Featuring vocalist Adrienne Cowan (USA/Seven Spires), guitarist Marco Pastorino (IT/Temperance, Secret Sphere), bassist Luca Negro (IT/Temperance) and guest drummer Alex Landenburg (DE/Luca Turilli's Rhapsody), this their debut full-length has been produced by Simone Mularoni (DGM) and is set for release on November 18th (USA) and November 25th (EU). And on this album we have the light (clean vocals) and the shade (harsher vocals), overall there being eleven tracks of Modern Metal with a Progressive and melodic twist. Highlights include the up tempo 'Spirit Of Anne', the catchy 'You Are', the rather cool and pounding ‘Broken Hearted’ with its catchy chorus, the awesome acoustic ballad ‘Lionhearted’ and the closing title track all help to make this a rather good album. This record is a little different combining heaviness with beauty, but all rather good, a real grower and well worth checking out when released!... 8.75/10 (Dave)

LIPSHOK…’TO HAUNT A QUIET REALM’

(Megalodon) Reviewed 6th November 2016

LIPSHOK is a female fronted original band playing gothic haunting and melodic commercial songs with a progressive edge. Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area, Scarlett, the lead vocalist/songwriter/keyboardist performs from the centre of the stage and leads the band with haunting melodic vocals and incredible songs with commercial hooks and mesmerizing compositions. And those commercial hooks and mesmerizing compositions are apparent on this, their 4th record I believe. The album diving deeper into the emotions and incredible song writing ability that this band is known for, being heavier and more dramatic with those melodic vocals from Scarlett. Fave cuts a plenty but try the opener ‘Bad Place’, the bouncy and guitar driven ‘Crawl Back Home’, the piano driven orchestrated ballad ‘Wanderer’, the commercial ‘More Of You’ and the haunting closer which so happens to be the title track and is a rather nice instrumental. Scarlett says she and the band is very proud of this CD and so they should be! The band’s facebook is here. Recommended… 8.75/10 (Dave)

LILITH AND THE KNIGHT...'INSANITY' EP

(Red Vixen Records) Reviewed 1st November 2016

On November 25th, Lilith and the Knight will release this, their ferocious 4 track debut EP. The CD is brimming with crisp riffs, taut songwriting and killer choruses. Fronted by the striking vocals of Lilith, this EP is an awesome slab of Hard Rock/Metal with a retro vibe. Well worth checking out... 8/10 (The Nugget)

LUREAWAY...'SAVIOUR' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st October 2016

Lureaway fronted by Jevgenija Korkina come from Latvia, and clear strong soprano vocals fused with symphonic metal is a characteristic feature of this EP. There are four tracks and although it has all been done before, I am not complaining. If you like your metal symphonic with awesome soprano vocals, this is worth checking out. Take a listen here, then support independent artists and make a purchase... 8.5/10 (Dave)

LETTERS FROM THE FIRE...'WORTH THE PAIN'

(Sand Hill Records) Reviewed 17th October 2016

Think of Evanescence combined with Halestorm and you have Letters From The Fire. Fronted by Alexa Kabazie, the album from this San Francisco group of musicians offers up 13 new songs that in turn offer a beguiling mix of melody and heaviness. A consistent release, all rather good and well worth the spend if you ask me, so why not check out their facebook that can be found here. Only a brief review but worth an 8.5/10 (Hannah Cooper).

LILYGUN...'INSIDE' (single)

(A Line Records) Reviewed 15th October 2016

Lilygun is fronted by Anna-Christina and on October 8th they released a single called 'Inside'. This was the last song singer Anna-Chistina wrote before suffering from a Subarachnoid Brain Haemorrhage. I have always liked Anna-Christina and Lilygun, their self titled album that I reviewed in 2012 is a good un. The song in question is a great number with crossover appeal and a great chorus. The track is from the forthcoming album 'Strength and Grace'. On the strength of this one track, if the album is this good, it will be well worth checking out!! The single is obtainable from the usual digital outlets. (Dave)

MERCY ISLE…’UNDYING FIRE’

(Self Released) Reviewed 13th October 2016

Mercy Isle was formed by Kassandra Novell in November 2014. Founding members were Kassandra (vocals), Chad Novell (bass/vocals), Joop de Rooij (keys), Cory Scheider (guitar), and Adam Maltby (drums). The band released their debut single 'I'm Gonna Make It' on 18 March 2015. Shortly after the single release, the band launched a successful Indiegogo campaign to fund their debut 4-song EP 'Storm', and a small tour in the US taking the band from Michigan to Florida. In 2016, members Cory and Adam resigned to pursue other opportunities. The band welcomed drummer Ywe Van Der Pol and guest guitarist Sebas Honing. In August 2016, guitarists Freek Gielen and Eelco Slont joined the band. Mercy Isle will release this, their first long player at Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium, and to our ears, this long player is very good indeed. I am always able to tell from the first 2 or 3 tracks how good a record will be, and as with this one, I knew this was going to be damn good. There are 10 tracks of kool Melodic Metal mixing in a little Pop-Metal and Symphonic Metal together with the odd awesome ballad, and I am a sucker for a good lighter waving ballad. Just listen to the lovely ‘If I Could’ and the wonderful but sad ‘Saying Goodbye’ (something I can relate too) – great vocal performances too from Kassandra. This album is a goodie from start to finish and with every cut a standout, I am sure this band will go down a storm at the MFVF! Their facebook is here… well recommended… 9/10 (Dave)

LEAVES' EYES...'FIRES IN THE NORTH' EP

(AFM Records) Reviewed 6th September 2016

LEAVES' EYES is one of my fave bands and soon they will be releasing this five track EP. The title track is a brand new song, featured in both a regular and an acoustic version. In addition, the EP includes three songs from the band's latest album 'King Of Kings' in new versions (feat. their new vocalist Elina on vocals). If the title track, the catchy and very addictive 'Fires In The North' is anything to go by, new material from this band is going to be awesome. The EP due 7th Oct in Europe and rest of the world,and 4th Nov in USA/Canada. It is diffcult to score the music basically on the strength of one new track, but all I would say is get this when available and to add, Elina has molded in very well! (Dave)

MALICE IN WONDERLAND...S/T

(Self Released) Reviewed 3rd September 2016

Formed in 1998, MALICE IN WONDERLAND is a German band musically attributable to Symphonic Metal, with the powerful and varied voice of the singer Argentina Schumacher at the helm. This album offers up to the unsuspecting music fan 13 tracks of Symphonic Melodic Metal, that will strongly appeal to fans into this style of music. We like our music melodic and catchy here within the towers, and this album does not disappoint, although there is a little complexity thrown into the mix. The topping on the cake however, has to be the 11 minute epic 'Leviathan', that in itself is almost like a mini album within an album. This review in itself is only a brief one, but I would certainly say that this record is well worth looking into. The band's website is here, but you may need google translate. And I will just add that this band as far as I know is nothing to do with the Norwegian band of the same name that now no longer exists... 8.75/10 (Hannah Cooper)

MIRACLE FLAIR…’ANGELS CAST SHADOWS’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 31st August 2016

After a long journey, Swiss rockers MIRACLE FLAIR has finally reached a point, where their hard work will pay off. 'Angels Cast Shadows', the band’s second album is a piece of art, which showcases the band's passion and attention to detail. It's an international affair, and the album's been refined by the production skills of the living legend Tommy Vetterli (Coroner). Miracle Flair centres around the two creative forces Nicole Hartmann and Daniel Maurizi, who produce beautiful melodies entangled with crisp guitar riffs. This long player is peppered throughout with Melodic/ Epic/ Symphonic metal that will sure please fans of the genre, and there are some corking tracks here as well. All I can say is check this record out when it is released 21st October - recommended… 8.75/10 (Dave)

LESBIAN BED DEATH…’EVIL NEVER DIES’

(Psychophonic Records via Shellshock Distribution) Reviewed 18th August 2016

LESBIAN BED DEATH, the UK female fronted HARD ROCK/GOTHIC PUNK band is back with this their fifth studio album. This is also the first album to feature new singer SIENNA VENOM and new lead guitarist VIK VOODOO, who originally played on LBD's first album, 'I Use My Powers For Evil'. Founder member, MR PEACH, retains his status on rhythm guitar, and the band will be joined by AARON SAMEDI on drums and ROY SWAMPI on bass for live shows. Overall, this is a good album from a band that to my ears has consistently delivered the goods in the past, and it seems with this album too. We have 11 tracks showing the band's huge love of 80s hard rock tainted with moody gothic tinges, all delivered with a fresh contemporary twist and heaps of melody. A dark sense of humour runs throughout the album too, which lends itself well to the lyrics about sour relationships and Horror movies. Sienna’s vocals are melodic and crisply delivered and overall, this is another winner from this UK band. This record was recorded at the acclaimed Chairworks Studio in Leeds (Skindred/Marmozets/Kaiser Chiefs), with mixing and mastering completed at Lower Lane Studios in Stoke-on-Trent… The album is released 23rd September, well recommended… 8.75/10 (Dave)

MORTSURE...'HIVER'

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th July 2016

Mortsure is a Symphonic Metal band from Bolivia fronted by Delphine Pelaez. I was rather curious about this release, because as far as I am aware, there are not many Symphonic Metal bands from Bolivia. Musically it is okay, with most of the tracks sung in the band's native tongue I believe. However, the album does seem to lack the power and ooommpphh of many of their counterparts from Europe, and I feel more needs to be done if the band want to propel themselves forward. However, Mortsure obviously does not have the financial clout of some of the bigger acts, and this comes across within the final sound quality of the album. There are 11 cuts here nonetheless, none of the tracks really stand out and hit you, but there is some good use of strings and orchestration on some numbers inc the 9+ minute epic 'Distancia/Cercania' - I like the haunting guitar solo on this track too. Let's not be too critical, the band's facebook is here.. 6.5/10 (Dave)

MURMUR TOOTH…’THE ROOM EP’

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th July 2016

Murmur Tooth fronted by Leah Hinton was born in New Zealand and England and are now based in Berlin. They blend grunge and pop into a grimy and beautiful din. Sometimes dark, sometimes light, the three piece combine a driving rhythm section with dirty guitars and soaring female vocal harmonies. The harmonies are apparent from the off in opening cut 'Knees Are Clean', while second track 'Bumps' has a kinda retro feel to it and has elements of the aforementioned grunge. The female harmonies return on third number ‘And I Wait’, a catchy and rather accessible tune that is one of my faves from the EP, while closer ‘Waste Away’ is a 6+ minute haunting dark doom/grunge laden tune, that will leave you wanting to hit the repeat button on the player and listen to the EP all over again. Murmur Tooth’s bandcamp is here. And I just wish to add that front lass Leah recorded and mixed the EP herself, as an extension of her creative song writing process. Good on her! 8/10 (Dave)

LEECHER...'SIGHTLESS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 24th June 2016

Leecher from Hungary is a Female Fronted Metal band with cellos! The band was formed in 2008, and has been playing ever since. A notable point of their career was being the support act for Epica in Spring 2011 in Bratislava and Budapest. Leecher’s music would best be called Symphonic Metal, with a twist – instead of a classic guitar-oriented line-up the base of the music is played by the cellos, capable of heavy shredding as well as soft melodies. And overall, the album is good – 13 tracks of pounding Symphonic Metal featuring those aforementioned cellos and the cool vocals of Anett, who by and large is also the band’s lyricist. There is an interesting spoken intro (prologue) of film score proportions featuring the cello, that then takes the listener straight into the first number proper ‘Damnation’, an absolute melodic belter of a Symphonic Metal number with its catchy chorus. The awesome start to the album more or less sets the scene for what is to come, with further pounding tracks like ‘Eclipse’, reminding me of Nightwish, the up tempo and catchy ‘Encore’ and the closing melodic symphonic tune ‘All The Stars’. Leecher can also slow it down a touch with numbers like the awesome power ballad ‘Fading’, a fave of mine from this record. I do rather like this album, a well put together piece of work from this Hungarian band, certainly an album for fans of female fronted Symphonic Metal and as a consequence, should be placed on your shopping lists. Their website is here… 8.75/10 (Dave)

MENZIA...'UNVEIL'

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th June 2016

MeNZiA invites you to enjoy the circus that we live in that is called "life". You are invited to enjoy boldness, irony and lust in the most sincere and healthiest way you can imagine, in the company of strong guitar riffs, dark sweet keyboards topped with an unpredictable, lovely and sexy voice, all wrapped up in a powerful show of musical prowess! And so... without any more delays the show must go on! And it does, Menzia being a Melodic Metal band from Spain, the Iberian Peninsula seemingly becoming the hotbed of Rock & Metal at present. Fronted by a young lady named Gat, this is a band that sure has caught my attention with their catchy style of bombastic Melodic Metal, this being well showcased in the opening salvo of 'Not Like You' and 'My Worst Nightmare'. And it continues with tracks like 'Anemophobia', the ultra catchy ‘Wrong Way’, the kool ‘Storm’ and one of my faves from the album, the bouncy 'Escaping The Cage'. And let us not forget the obligatory power ballad ‘Card Castle’, great stuff! This from beginning to end is a dynamic and at times quirky offering from this Spanish band, choc full of melodic choruses and damn cool hooks. My advice? Check out the band’s website here and then get this 12 track album!! This is uplifting for those dull Summer days we tend to have here in the UK, especially just recently, and if you keep still while listening to this album, with the utmost respect, you need to seek medical help!!!.... 9/10 (Dave)

LACUNA COIL…’DELIRIUM’

(Century Media) Reviewed 26th May 2016

Delirium is the eighth studio album by Italian Gothic Metal band Lacuna Coil who are in their 23rd year so I believe. This is the first album to not feature long time drummer Cristiano "Criz" Mozzati and guitarists Cristiano "Pizza", who retired from the band on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2014, and Marco "Maus" Biazzi, who left the band just before recording sessions, making it the first album since their debut to feature other band members, and the first one completely recorded and mixed in Italy. Featuring stalwarts Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro on female and male vocals, this album kicks ass, and the opening track ‘The House Of Shame’ made me wonder whether Lacuna Coil had gone all Death Metal, as Andrea’s vocals came steamrollering out of the headphones like a Japanese bullet train. Some absolute belters here, with the aforementioned opener possibly one of the heaviest tracks on the cd. The title track is rather catchy, with the vocals of Andrea not so fierce, and indeed, everything here from start to finish is hideously catchy and addictive, but heavy and metallic to boot. Cristina’s vocals add the ’poppy touch’ to proceedings while Andrea and the band adds the metal. There are slower numbers too like ‘Downfall’, a massive anthemic number, a great crowd pleasing track I would imagine coupled with awesome guitar solo! Then there is ‘Take Me Home’ with its quirky chorus. This is a massive album from one of my fave bands, and is rest assured well and truly recommended - a surefire winner that is released 27th May… 9.5/10 (Dave)

MANTUS...'REFUGIUM'

(Trisol/Soulfood) Reviewed 16th May 2016

Mantus is a band from Cologne, Germany and was formed in 1997 by Martin Schindler. The band's name derives from the eponymous god of the underworld of the Etruscans. The band was disbanded in 2005 but reunited in 2008. Current members are Martin Schindler (music, lyrics, vocals 1997–present) and Chiara Amberia (vocals since 2012). I am really beginning to like some of the bands and music coming out of Germany whether sung in English or German, and Mantus is one such band that defines the Gothic Rock/Metal genre rather well and indeed is a fave band of mine. With Martin and Chiara sharing vocal duties there is some really catchy stuff on this release, the lyrics in German but who cares, the band do come from Germany! A tsunami of highlights here including the bouncy ‘Niemals genung’, the atmospheric ‘Das Wunder des Lebens’, the metallic/symphonic 'Süßes Gift', the power ballad 'Gefangener' and one of my faves, 'Welt in Flammen'. I am unsure as to whether to file this under female or male fronted reviews, but due to the presence of Chiara’s whose vocals appear on some of the tracks, I will class this band as ‘female fronted’ for the purpose of this review. Recommended… 8.5/10 (Dave)

MILCZENIE OWIEC...'NIEPOKOJE'

(MJM Music PL) Reviewed 14th May 2016

Milczenie Owiec fronted by Ola Wysocka come from Poland, and this release sung in their native tongue offers up 12 tracks of rather cool, accessible and tuneful rock music. Check out tracks like 'Przyjda Tu' and 'Bunt' as just two examples from a cocktail of goodies. I am reviewing this album during the Eurovision Song Contest that is on TV at the moment, and this album beats anything from Eurovision hands down. This is a brief review, I have no idea what the band is singing about, but who cares, what I hear is good! Their Facebook is here... 8.75/10 (The Nugget)

METALWINGS...'FALLEN ANGEL IN THE HELL' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 13th May 2016

Metalwings is a Bulgarian Symphonic/Gothic metal band with a Celtic influence, formed by the vocalist and viola player Stela Atanasova in 2010. The band offers a unqiue combination of powerful guitars, magical Irish flutes, damn fine angelic vocals and the gentle sound of the viola. The EP has five tracks of fine music that generally defines rather nicely the Symphonic/Gothic Metal music sound. I myself was already familiar with the band's music by way of the final track on this EP, 'Crying of the Sun', which I discovered on YouTube a while back. The opening track is the title track and is an awesome way to kick off this EP, while next up, the Nightwish influenced 'Slaves of the Night' is another fine offering - lovely vocals. This EP is right up my alleyway with the bouncy ‘Ship Of Shadows’ and ‘Immortal Metal Wings’ maintaining the momentum of the previous tracks. The aforementioned catchy closer ‘Crying Of The Sun’ ends what is a very fine EP. With the band’s website here, this release is certainly one for fans of Symphonic Melodic Metal, bouncy, tuneful, great vocals and overall great musicianship, certainly one to look out for – it is available from today, I myself like this, well recommended… 9/10 (Dave)

MALEVOLENTIA…’REPUBLIQUE’

(Epictural/Seasons of Mist) Reviewed 12th May 2016

Symphonic Black Metal would not normally be classed as my cuppa tea, but I decided to try my hand (or in this case my ears) at giving this new effort from French band Malevolentia a try. Indeed Black Metal is one of those genres where many bands fail, but a few do succeed and Malevolentia it seems do fall into the latter category. Republique is the band's first release in over five years and it certainly does what it says on the press release - it is Symphonic with great instrumentation and occasional choral backdrops, it is Metal and it sure is Black :) With the young lass Spleen taking the mic stand, she lets rip like a good un, her vocal delivery bull dozing you against the wall, but I bet in real life she is rather sweet :) The album is sung in the band’s native tongue, the vocals despite their ferocity show emotion, the album is heavily orchestrated and to be honest would make a great movie soundtrack. The CD is sometimes violent, sometimes melodic and with Malevolentia’s popularity with the French speaking world, will do very well like its predecessor ‘Ex Oblivion’ I am sure. I am surprised by the quality on this album as I have never really seen myself getting into this style of music. I cannot say I am quite there yet, but this awesome effort deserves an 8/10 (Dave).

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