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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS P-R

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PROJECT RENEGADE...'CEREBRA' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 5th June 2017

Project Renegade is a four-member metal band from Athens, Greece, founded by Marianna (vocals) and Ody (drums) and joined after by Tasos (guitars) and Makis (bass). Project Renegade's sound derives from an alternative, heavy and groove background blended with electronic and ambient elements. There are three tracks on this EP and they are all rather good. Some cool tracks that will appeal to fans of alternative metal and female fronted metal. The band is currently working on their first full-length album and is eager to present its music in live shows. This EP is rather impressive - the band's facebook is here... 8.5/10 (Dave)

PAGLIACCI...'YOURS SINCERELY, SISTER JOSEPHINE' EP

(Toheres Records) Reviewed 26th May 2017

Pagliacci is an international Metal Opera project masterminded by keyboardist Zhivko Koev (Vivaldi Metal Project, ex-Allegorist), featuring musicians from all over the world such as: Mistheria (Bruce Dickinson, Rob Rock) on piano and keytar, Benjamin Lechuga (Delta, Lechuga) on acoustic guitar, Julie Bélanger Roy (Märchenbilder, Gone in April) on viola, Georgy Latev (Ghost Warfare) on guitar and bass and others. It also features four vocalists each playing the part of one of the characters in the story: Dimitar Naydev, Katerina Simeonova, Dimitar Belchev and Elitsa Stoyanova. And let's not forget The Choir Of The Mad! This EP is a concept album, introducing the world, story and some of the characters featured in Pagliacci’s work. It also serves as a bridge between their upcoming first and second full-length albums, featuring characters from both and connecting their narratives. Starting with a brief spoken acoustic intro with speech by Elitsa Stoyanova that then takes us into 'Black Flowers' with dual vocals from Katerina Simeonova & Dimitar Naydev, coupled with a catchy chorus to boot. The same vocalist take the lead on 'So Sane', while on the sombre 'Wise Men and Lunatics' Katerina Simeonova takes the female lead. The EP closes with the complex 'Calling Melchizedek'. This is a good effort and has me looking forward to the full length albums. Check out their facebook pages here. EP gets released 8th June.. 8/10 (Dave)

PANDORA'S KEY..."PROMETHEUS' PROMISE" EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 30th April 2017

Pandora's Key is a new and upcoming Symphonic Metal band from The Netherlands fronted by the powerful vocals of Maaike Rijk. There are four tracks on this EP of mainly mid tempo Sympho Metal and jolly good it is too, from opening up tempo cut 'Shattered' through to the closer 'Final Chapter'. Nothing here disappoints, okay it has been done before but this record is damn cool offering subtle early Within Temptation influences on tracks such as 'Ephemeral Ethernity'. The EP takes you on a journey into ancient history, yourself and indefinite time. Enter the realm of the key and enjoy. The band's facebook is here...8/10 (Dave)

REVENIENCE...'DAEDALUM' (Japanese edition - released Feb 2017)

(Sliptrick Records) Reviewed 20th April 2017

The non Japanese version of this album was reviewed here back in Feb 2016. I have lifted that review out and have issued a re-review of the same album, but with a Japanese bonus track. Anyway, the musical influences of Italian band Revenience on this their album Daedalum, offers up Progressive, Gothic, Symphonic Metal and also Electronic. These influences the driving force at the core of the album and helping to present their own unique take on rock music. There are 10 tracks that includes a Japanese bonus cut, which is an OPETH cover ('Hope Leaves'). Fronted by the female vocals of Debora Ceneri, with occasional growls from drummer Simone Spolzino this album is bombastically good, with the cool 'Shamble' with its tuneful chorus, the ballad 'Lone Island', the catchy but heavy 'A-maze' and the closing cut, the aforementioned OPETH cover 'Hope Leaves'. This is another good album to check out if not already done so, available in all good record stores... 8.75/10 (Dave)

POISON GARDEN...'A VICTORIAN CAROL'

(Trisol Music Group/DarkTunes Music Group) Reviewed 2nd April 2017

Have you ever imagined what a gramophone would have played if rock was born two centuries ago? Poison Garden is the answer: The band with Madame Anais Noir on vocals and bass, was born with the aim of mixing modern rock/metal tendencies with Steampunk elements in order to create an original and evocative sound - a modern and aggressive sound sunk into the noise of a century that never was. And as a consequence this is something refreshingly different from this Italian band and it is good in the process. The opening two tracks are instrumentals with the vocals kicking in on the track ‘Victorian Dream’. ‘Human Machine’ is a bouncy commercial number while ‘Falling Leaves’ is another somewhat commercial mid-tempo catchy track showcasing Madame Anais Noir’s angelic sexy vocal style. ‘Days Of Steam’ is a bouncy number even coupled at the start with noises of that of a steam train. ‘In The Hall Of The Mountain King’ is a spoken voice over an instrumental background – the title of the track should give the game away on this one! The following track ‘Time Letter’s Machinery’ gives us the sounds of a chiming clock, chirping birds and a typewriter, while ‘A Letter For My Everlasting Love’ is a catchy one to say the least. ‘Clockwork Theory’ features clean and growly vocals but is a bouncy track to boot. ‘Halloween’ is another catchy little ditty, while the closing duo of ‘Tonight, Tonight’ and the instrumental 'La Danse Macabre’ close this rather cool album. In summary, they may call themselves Italy’s only Steampunk band but do not let the name ‘Steampunk’ put you off. This is a very good album and is well recommended… 8.75/10 (Dave)

QUADRUS...'ENTROPIA'

(Self Release) Reviewed 26th March 2017

Greek symphonic progressive metal band QUADRUS, was formed by pianist/guitarist and composer John Galanakis in the summer of 2014. John Galanakis immediately began working on the compositions and orchestrations for what was to be the band's debut album. 'Entropia' is a concept album dealing with mankind's history as well as the endless cycle of the interdependence between humanity and the universe. The album features some of the finest musicianship, both in terms of song-writing as well as performance. With beautiful orchestrations and cinematic songs, progressive rhythms coupled with male and female vocals, sprinkled with some brutal singing, all this fuses together nicely, while each managing to perform a distinctive role. These are all elements that give a somewhat theatrical and indeed bombastic character to the album and guarantee to maintain the listener's interest until the very end. The album consists of 9 tracks - Chapter 1 (Born - Fear, Anger, Doubt) features the first four numbers and Chapter 2 (Living - Deception, Guilt, Sadness) includes tracks 5-8, while CHAPTER 3 (End of Circle - Redemption - New beginning) consists of track 9 that is split into 7 parts and is an 18 minute epic. With lots of influences from progressive, thrash, death, black, symphonic, folk and celtic, ENTROPIA promises you an amazing musical journey from the deepest roots of human soul and mind to the vibes of the endless universe that surrounds the world! This album is well put together and well produced – recommended when released on April 14th. The band’s facebook is here… 8.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

RAVENSCRY...'The INVISIBLE'

(AudioGlobe.it - PlasticHead Distro) Reviewed 10th March 2017

After almost 3 years from the release of its last work, The Attraction of Opposites (May 2014), Ravenscry fronted by the awesome vocals of Giulia Stefani is excited to present its third studio album: 'The Invisible'. It is a concept album having been released on February 24 2017. This is the first Ravenscry concept album, talking about a young library assistant, Coral, who lives and works in a small town in Colorado; but she is not born there, she grew up in an orphanage. Coral spends all her day between books and archives, that is probably because it is her passion, but also because she is not that great in communicating with other people. One day she finds a book with a peculiar picture, which reminds her of distant memories. From this moment on her life changes, because she starts a journey, inside and outside herself, without knowing where this will bring her and without knowing what she will find at the end of it. A risky trip, which could lead to nothing… or to everything. It is a complex journey which takes place among full songs, interludes and words written by the characters of the story. It is a plot that has to be listened in its fullness to be completely understood. So the album itself through the 19 tracks tells the story as detailed above, it being a feast of melodic metal offering heavy riffs, awesome vocals all with a progressive twist. Some massive belters here including 'Coral (As Seen By Others)', which merges straight into the rocking 'The Mission', and they are just two from a tsunami of great tunes including the melodic thumper ‘Oscillation’. This album is metal, it is melodic and it is well recommended.... 9.25/10 (Dave)

PRIMER...HATS, BOOTS AND AN EMPTY BOTTLE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th February 2017

PRIMER fronted by the lovely Claire Carron is a 5-piece female fronted rock group from the West Midlands here in the UK. Formed in 2007, the band has seen several member and sound changes before settling on their distinctive, inimitable style; a mix of Celtic inspired vocals mingling with a strong backdrop of expressive guitars, a calling violin that I do rather like, intense drums and an resonating bass to drive an original, unique sound with a difference that is not to be missed. This, the band's new album offers up ten tracks of occasionally quirky foot tapping music in the style detailed above, and with lyrics (written by Claire) that I feel take on a personal feel at times. However, she tells me that some of the lyrical content just came out as she was writing. I like this album, I kinda imagine Claire singing these tunes with a permanent smile on her face, but this is certainly camp fire music together with a bottle of Jack Daniels. As for the title and I quote Claire: "We all thought it sounded cool lol the guys wear hats on stage, we all wear boots and let's face it, we all leave many empty bottles! We use the hash tag #seeyouatthebar on each gig post now hehe". Now you know, this album is the biz, I love it! Check out Primer's Facebook is here... A lovely inoffensive record in an occasional world full of doom... 8.5/10 (Dave)

RANI CHATOORGOON...'SAMSARA'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd January 2017

With influences from such acts as Sarah McLachlan, Within Temptation, LEAH and Evanescence, Canadian artist Rani Chatoorgoon gives an eclectic mix on this album of Rock, Symphonic Rock, also blending shades of folk, rock, and classical East Indian elements into a distinctive sonic palette. This rather wonderful eclectic mix is prominent on the opening salvo of 'The Grey' and 'Lonely Witness', the latter also exhibiting Within Temptation influences (as do other numbers) and I do rather like what I am hearing :) The Far Eastern elements crop up throughout the album, other awesome cuts include the beautiful and very catchy numbers 'Unbearable', 'Maybe', 'Heartbeat' , and the enchanting ‘Sweet Solace’ with its catchy chorus. The album closes with the 7 minute plus LEAH/Enya inspired epic ‘Guardian Of Souls’ and to be perfectly honest, this album, Rani's second record has caught me totally by surprise for some reason. A totally awesome captivating CD, ideal for getting over those New Year blues. Check out Facebook here. This artist should very easily make inroads into the European market place given the right distribution... 9/10 (Dave)

PSYCHO KISS...'GRIT'

(Self Release) Reviewed 19th December 2016

A fan favourite on the South Wales music scene, Psycho Kiss is a female fronted rock band with heavy riffs and infectious hooks. Helen Ceri Clarke's powerful and awesome vocals and stage presence are supported by the driving force that is Paul on lead guitar, Pete on rhythm, Tom on bass and Penfold on drums. And what an awesome release this is from this driving force of a band, the album consisting of 11 tracks of high octane hard rock with infectious hooks and melodies. Nothing to really fault here, each track rocks like a hurricane and is worthy of one’s purchase money. The band’s facebook is here… 8.75/10 (Dave)

RED STORM…’ALERT’

(Echozone) Reviewed 15th September 2016

Red Storm is how an American journalist who was reporting on the M’era Luna Fest in 2014, described the performance by Agnieszka Lesna of the band DESDEMONA. From then on, RED STORM has been the name of her new project and here is the review of their debut album ‘Alert’. It was actually released back in April so it will already be available for purchase, and a rather good purchase it is too. The album offers up a mix of dancefloor rock coupled with industrial influences and dark sound experiments, this being well showcased in the opening number ‘Control’. Further highlights include ‘Love Is Pain’, ‘Everything’, the catchy ‘The One’, the bouncy ‘’Anymore’ and the awesome title track, all of which follow a similar electro rock formula. This I must report to all and sundry is rather good and an enjoyable listening experience. It may even get your Grandmother dancing around the room, well why not? :) … 8.75/10 (Dave)

ROYAL DOGS…’TATTOO YOU’

(Monstro Discos) Reviewed 17th July 2016

The band consists of Laila Razzo on vocals, Felipe Hyily on guitar, Mauro Sampaio as their bassist and André Junior in control of the drum kit. And this release has sneaked up on the rails and caught us all by surprise. But what the Royal Dogs from Brazil give the unsuspecting listener is 10 tracks of up tempo Melodic Hard Rock with electro influences – plenty of melody and hooks to sink your teeth into. The intro is a synths driven instrumental that takes us into ‘Closer To Royal’ that is an awesome hard rocker. And that sets the scene for the album, with the highlight to me being the ultra melodic and driving title track! Not much else to say really regards this album that has a high ‘kool factor'. But if one likes their music melodic and uplifting, then get this! The band’s Facebook is here… 8.75/10 (The Nugget)

CARINA ROUND…’DERANGED TO DIVINE’

(Do Yourself In) Reviewed 20th June 2016

Carina Round is a lass fairly local to me. Now based in California, Carina was born in Wolverhampton (16 miles away from myself), and this album by the acclaimed songstress brings together for the first time material from her first four critically acclaimed albums, spanning from 2001 to 2015. I must admit that although I have heard of Carina Round, her music until now is totally unchartered territory for me, so this for myself is an ideal introduction to her work. The record is complimented by two previously unreleased tracks, ‘Gunshot’ and an alternative version of the number ‘Want More’. To be perfectly honest, the music on this 18 track collection is rather cool mixing slower numbers with more upbeat alternative rockers. Of the slower numbers, we have the opener ‘You Will Be Loved’, the US version of ‘Elegy’, the beautiful aforementioned ‘Gunshot’, and the jazzy feel of ‘How I See’. And the more upbeat tracks include ‘Into My Blood’, the catchy ‘Come To You’, ‘Lacuna’ (Radio version) with its quirky catchy chorus and the heavier sounding ‘Mother’s Pride’. Carina has collaborated with highly regarded musicians such as Lou Reed, Ryan Adams, Dave Stewart and Brian Eno among many others, and she is a member of Puscifer, the electro industrial rockers founded by Tool’s Maynard James Keenan. I must say that this album is a worthy addition to anyone’s music collection. Do not however, expect a metal onslaught, nonetheless, this is a damn cool album for those warm laid back Summer evenings (album released 29th July)! On a completely different note, I used to work in Birmingham (UK) with a guy whose name was Ian Round! Anyway, after that totally useless piece of information (LOL), Carina’s website is at www.carinaround.com... 8.25/10 (Dave)

PRIMA NOCTE...'ANGEL OF SINS' EP

(self Released) Reviewed 18th June 2016

Prima Nocte fronted by the band's lyricist Nicole Magariños, is a Metal band from Galicia (Spain) founded in November 2012. After several lineup changes, the band finally settled down in August 2013 recording their first demo entitled 'Awakening'. Now in 2016 we have their first album proper to review which is in-fact an EP featuring seven tracks of blistering Melodic Metal. A brief intro leads us into the up lifting title track that is a real belter and the pace is maintained through next track up, 'Dream Eater'. The pace slackens on the power ballad 'From Deep Within', but it soon gathers momentum again on 'Unleashed' with its mid paced melodic chorus. The band flirts with Progressive/Power Metal territory on the pounding 'The Last Strife', while the cool closer and potential live favourite 'Wicked Queen', closes this rather good EP. Check the band out here... 8.25/10 (Dave)

PSIDERALICA...'TRINITITE'

(Electric Chair Music) Reviewed 8th June 2016

Psideralica so happen to be one of my fave bands from the Industrial Rock/Metal genre. Fronted by Lady Marion, these Spaniards have taken the "if it ain't broken, why fix it?" policy. Fronted by the sensual vocals of Lady Marian, the band throw at us 11 tracks of the aforementioned Industrial Rock with metal guitars, electronic bases and some touches of pop thrown into the melting pot for good measure. I am not going to say much here, as the band I am sure are known to many people who like this style of music, but if very catchy Industrial Rock is up your alleyway, then get this album. It is currently available on the digital platform, with a physical CD release due soon. I love this band and I love this newie. Their website with all the band info, videos etc is here... 9/10 (Dave)

RISING SUNSET…’DECRETUM’

(Self Release) Reviewed 4th June 2016

Rising Sunset was born in July 2001, when founder Carlo Calamatta (guitars) had the inspiration to initiate a metal band that delivers a positive message. Mario Camilleri Brennan (former guitarist) agreed with the idea and entered the band soon after the creation of the band. A few weeks later, Christa Calamatta (vocals) joined forces. Christa introduced atmospheric and stylish vocals, which had a great influence in the compositions of the songs being written. There have been line up changes along the way, but currently the line up is Christa Calamatta - Main vocals; Carlo Calamatta - Guitars & vocals; Joseph Camilleri - Guitars & growls; Clifford Smith - Bass; Ian Spiteri - Keyboards; Frederick Bowman - Drums. Having had a listen to their previous album 'Equinox' released in 2012 that was reviewed here by Phil, there are obvious differences from that release to the newie here, and all positive I hasten to add. Firstly, the production, which was most certainly okay on the debut seems to have improved even more, and we also see the introduction of male growls, which I really do think adds that little something to the album. The record having a bombastic Symphonic feel with subtle Death Metal elements provided by those aforementioned growls. The vocals of Christa are from the operatic school of vocals, while the violin that was apparent on ‘Equinox’ seems to be by and large absent on this album. This is a very good record and all the numbers are of a consistently high quality, although the track ‘Nephilim’ is a fave of mine at the moment. The album as a whole may take a listen or two to get into, but will be well worth the purchase money rest assured. The band’s website is www.risingsunset.com.mt - awesome effort... 9/10 (Dave)

ROXETTE...'GOOD KARMA'

(Parlophone/Warner) Reviewed 3rd June 2016

'Good Karma' is the tenth studio album by this Swedish pop rock duo. The album being released on 3 June 2016 by Parlophone. It is the first album under a new international recording contract with Parlophone's parent company, Warner Music Group. The duo were scheduled to support the album with the final leg of the RoXXXette 30th Anniversary Tour, beginning on 3 June 2016, but it has been cancelled as lead singer Marie Fredriksson was advised by doctors to refrain for touring due to her health. Tour or no tour, if you like Roxette like I do, you will most certainly like this record, period. There are eleven tracks of awesome pop/rock with occasional electro influences, and will go down a treat in any self respecting music fan's pop/rock music collection. And let us not forget the ballads that Roxette seem to do so well - 'It Just Happens' being one such track. And the awesome closing track 'April Clouds', could this be the band's "farewell"? With standout cuts galore, founder member and vocalist Per Gessle said of the album: "For the new record, we wanted to combine our classic Roxette sound with a modern and slightly unpredictable production to create a soundscape where you would both recognise our sound and find something new." How true, and to summarise, this album is good, bloomin' good!... 9/10 (Dave)

PVRIS…’WHITE NOISE’ (Deluxe Edition)

(Rise and Velocity Records) Reviewed 26th April 2016

PVRIS (pronounced Paris) is an American rock band from Lowell, Massachusetts formed by members Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, Alex Babinski, and Brian MacDonald. The band formed originally under the name Paris, but later changed it to PVRIS in the summer of 2013 citing legal reasons. They have released a self-titled EP, an acoustic EP, before signing to Oregon based Rise and Velocity Records, releasing their single 'St. Patrick' on June 24, 2014 along with a music video. They released their debut album, 'White Noise', in November 2014, but the deluxe version reviewed here was released a few days ago. This newer version features 2 brand new songs and a stripped version of their single 'You and I'. This is rather cool release featuring 13 numbers of alternative pop/rock with cool electronic elements, and offering strong mainstream potential – call it electro stadium rock if you like :) Maybe not for the headbangers among you but nonetheless, this is a good album and well recommended. The band’s website is here… 8.75/10 (Dave)

RHENIUM…’RISE ABOVE THE SEA’

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd April 2016

RHENIUM is simply a one woman Symphonic Metal project from Milton Keynes in the UK! Cristina Pucci is the only member of this project and she therefore writes all the songs, along with recording all the instruments and vocals herself. Originally from Italy, Cristina moved to England in 2010, hoping to succeed in the music industry. After a long struggle finding reliable and committed band members, Cristina decided to go it alone by starting Rhenium in 2014. Entirely produced by Cristina, this 6 track EP is rather good, and kudos to the girl for this damn fine effort. I just love independent musicians who really make the effort sometimes in the face of adversity. The 6 numbers here are all in the good to very good category. Meanwhile, this fine young lass who lists her influences as Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, Stream Of Passion, Within Temptation and Epica, should be checked out. Rhenium’s Facebook is here, and the album can be purchased from CDBaby and iTunes among others. Go on, treat yourself!… 8/10 (Dave)

PROUD LARRY…’THE RISING’

(Self Release) Reviewed 14th March 2016

With a name like Proud Larry, I think I would be a little dubious as to what kind of music to expect. Anyway, Proud Larry come from Portugal and they have recorded this 8 track album for us purveyors of fine music to enjoy. Fronted by Vanessa Monteiro, this band really means business and I like what I hear. The album is by and large a slow to mid tempo Alternative Rock affair, with some rather cool radio friendly music. The opener ‘War of Paradise’ is a melodic number, as is also the closing track ’Perfect Enemy’, but sandwiched in between we have by and large six slow to mid tempo cuts, the pick of the crop being the power ballad ‘Just Another Mistake’ and the rather nice ‘Closed Shelter’. Check out the CD baby website here for more info, a decent effort! 8/10 (Dave)

RAVENIA…’BEYOND THE WALLS OF DEATH’

(Inner Wound Recordings) Reviewed 12th March 2016

Formed in Finland during 2013 by vocalist Armi Päivinen and guitar player Samuli Reinikainen, in 2014 the band released the two-track Wingless EP. After the release of the EP Armi and Samuli both felt that they wanted to do something else than the traditional symphonic metal they currently were doing with Ravenia. The goal was to create music that combined metal and film score music as Armi and Samuli were both big fans of both genres. The result can be described as a path between massive orchestrations and the aggression of metal, that leads to an epic journey beyond this world. This epic album features 8 tracks with only one of the eight running in at under six minutes, and each of the numbers is a joy to behold and are epic blockbusters in their own right. Close your eyes and let the music of Ravenia capture you, and bring you into another world of death, war, honor and hope. This is up there with the best of them… 9/10 (Dave)

RIZON…’POWER PLANT’

(Pure Rock Records) Reviewed 10th March 2016

Want a dose of catchy anthemic melodic metal with a subtle symphonic undercurrent? Then check this album out. There are 12 songs of the aforementioned catchy, bouncy melodic stuff from this Swiss band, that features clean male vocals from Matt and female vox from Rahel. Every number here is a sure fire winner from the opening cut, the awesome ‘Nevermore’, through the hideously catchy ‘If You Rule The World’, the power ballad ‘Lost Without You’, the anthemic and epic ’I Follow You’, and the bouncy symphonic ‘New Age Dawn’. Jacob Hansen, one of the most popular engineers in metal, has mixed and mastered the album, he being known for his work with artists like Doro, Amaranthe, Volbeat, Epica, Delain, Pretty Maids and Primal Fear. Rizon‘s website is here, and this album is certainly well worth checking out from track 1 through to the awesome track 12... 9.5/10 (Dave)

PERSONA…’ELUSIVE REFLECTIONS’

(Self Released) Reviewed 6th February 2016

On the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia is a North African country. Okay that is your geography lesson, but Tunisia is not known for its productivity when it comes to Rock & Metal bands, particularly the female fronted variety. That however, is about to change with PERSONA. They so happen to be a Tunisian female-fronted alternative metal band. Their style fuses a modern metal sound with elements of rock, thrash and heavy riffs, coupled with synth effects, classical orchestration and a fair helping of melody. This in turn creating the perfect foundation for intense and captivating vocal lines from a lovely lady by the name of Jelena Dobric. Upon listening to this recording, this band to be perfectly honest is set to take the Europeans on at their own game, with this, their debut full length album. Featuring 10 tracks of the aforementioned style of music, this is a stunning debut from this North African band, and is certainly an album worth checking out. There are highlights galore, but certainly the opening salvo of the blockbusting 'Somebody Else' and the catchy 'Blinded' (video can be seen here) set the scene rather nicely, while the closing track ‘The Sea Of Fallen Stars' ends the album rather nicely. With the band being considered one of the most accomplished and influential bands on the Tunisian metal scene, PERSONA are now ready to move on to the international level and with this release, they may have cracked it! A preview of their album can be seen here.. released Feb 12th and well recommended .. 8.75/10 (Dave)

PENUMBRA…‘ERA 4.0’

(Self Release) Reviewed 8th December 2015

This is a rather good album from this French Gothic Metal band. This is their 4th album, their first ‘Emanate’ bursting onto the music scene in 1999. With male vocals from main man Jaarlath and female voice from Ashphodel, you may be made to think that this was a Death Metal album going by those band member names alone. But, oh no, although Jaarlath can let rip vocally, Ashphodel’s vocals are from the Pop/Rock school of vocals. There are 10 tracks here of modern Symphonic Gothic Metal and damn fine it is too. Electro elements pop up aswell in tracks like the bouncy ‘Charon’, while the awesome ‘Exumed’ is sung entirely by Ashphodel, and is a haunting power ballad from the top drawer of power ballads. And I like the pipes that do also appear on one or two other numbers. Not much to fault here on this cd, it is heavy, catchy and very melodic. Well worth checking out… 9/10 (Dave)

PLUMB...'EXHALE' (Deluxe edition)

(Word Records/Curb Records) Reviewed

'Exhale' is the seventh studio album by US artist Plumb. Word Records alongside Curb Records released the album in May. Plumb worked with Matt Bronleewe in the production of this album and it follows her 2013 album 'Need You Now' also produced by Matt Bronleewe. Plumb is a Christian artist and although I am not an out and out religious person, I do appreciate good music, and this like her other albums falls into this category. This lass possesses awesome vocals which really gives her music the 'X Factor'. There is some great stuff on this 14 track album, including the opener which so happens to be the title track, the emotional 'Lord I'm Ready Now', the ballad 'Resurrection', the rather nice 'Broken Places' and the pen ultimate ‘We Stand For You’. Okay folks, this is not Metal, but there is some rather good Pop/Rock mixed in with some beautiful and rather awesome ballads. And couple this with the spiritual and heart warming lyrics, it makes this record well worth checking out, please do not let the 'Christian' tag put you off! 8.75/10 (Dave)

PERGANA…’THE VISIT’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 22nd November 2015

Well well well. I often wonder if the fountain of magical Female Fronted Rock & Metal will ever dry up and we will be left with no bands to review. Pergana I understand come from Paraguay, and this so happens to be their 2nd EP and what an awesome slice of metal this is! There are 4 tracks that come in at a little under 17 minutes, but if this is what Pergana can throw at the listener, I cannot wait for a full length recording. This little platter kicks off with the number ‘Return To Innocence’, this is a bouncy melodic number with a chorus that will refuse to leave your head - awesome! Then we have the title track that just confirms to us what an awesome band we have here - top drawer Symphonic Metal. This title track merges rather nicely into the quieter more acoustic and rather nice ‘The Whisper’ that then leads very nicely into closing number ‘Redemption‘. A nice quiet start to this song similar in style to the previous number, before the ante is upped and it becomes more metal! This is damn good, the band can be checked out here - Recommended… 9/10 (Dave)

RAIMEE...'AFTER ALL THIS TIME'

(Self Released) Reviewed 10th November 2015

Established in 2011 by singer/pianist Rei Haycraft, hard rock band Raimee wowed the North Carolina music scene with powerful, emotionally driven female-fronted melodic hard rock. Rei was soon joined in the studio and on stage by guitarists and siblings, Brandon and Daniel Mullin, bassist Lily Marino, and drummer Ryan Morris. Together they have developed a unique sound propelled by the angelic and rather lovely vocal presence of Rei. This album offers up 10 tracks of mainly mid paced rock that has a well prescribed dosage of melody. There is some very decent music on this release, not a duff track to be found - just listen to the tracks 'The Sacrifice', the heavier ‘Angels’ and the power ballad ‘Wake Me Up (If I Dream)‘ and be prepared to be blown away. This release that has recently come our way is something a little unique and deserves worldwide attention, a pleasant surprise in-fact, similar in a way I suppose to the band Worhol. The band's facebook is https://www.facebook.com/raimeemusic... 8.75/10 (Dave)

PHANTASMA…’THE DEVIANT HEARTS’

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 7th November 2015

Allow yourself to be transported to another world by PHANTASMA - a project sprung from the collective energy of Georg Neuhauser (Serenity), Oliver Philipps (Everon) and Charlotte Wessels (Delain). The release features memorable songs and intense arrangements centered around included novella ‘The Deviant Hearts’. PHANTASMA was born from the longstanding ambition to create a story driven concept record of Georg Neuhauser, vocal force behind Symphonic Metal outfit Serenity. He found his partner in crime with multi-instrumentalist composer, producer and vocalist Oliver Philipps (Everon), who gladly embarked on this new mission that allowed him to reconnect with being a musician in the first place. As Oliver worked with DELAIN since their debuting record, a request to Charlotte Wessels’ address was made to complete the dynamic trio of PHANTASMA. To introduce Charlotte Wessels to any connoisseur of Symphonic metal would be like carrying coals to Newcastle - she is, after all, since 2005 the vocal figurehead of Dutch grandees DELAIN. It is therefore not only surprising, but also gratifying that Charlotte now even found some leisure time, to lend her voice to PHANTASMA but also her debut novella ‘The Deviant Hearts’ - which was written especially for the project. With PHANTASMA she can let her beautiful and variable voice run free like the wind - sometimes tender like on 'Runaway Grey', plaintive on 'Let It Die', and the duet 'The Lotus And The Willow' - makes Charlotte’s passion for Nick Cave abundantly clear. Meanwhile Georg’s dedication for classic rock acts like Queen and Meatloaf shine through in tracks like 'Crimson Course' and 'Novaturient'. Giving a face to other characters in the story are noted guest vocalists, such as Tom Englund, who performs on title-track 'The Deviant Hearts', Cloe Lowery on the heart-wrenching awesome ballad 'Try' alongside Dennis Schunke, who can be heard also on the comforting 'Carry Me Home'. Closing with the breathtaking ‘Let It Die, this is epic top quality stuff from premier league musicians and I feel that no other female vocalist could have pulled this off like Charlotte does. The beauty of this release is a total joy to behold, with excellent vocals all round and brilliant musicianship! Anything less is a total injustice to a near perfect piece of work, which could be the album of the year, so it has to be a 10/10 (Dave)

RUCKZUCK…’SAFE n SOUND’

(Self Release) Reviewed 23rd October 2015

Let's take a trip back to the late 60s/early 70s when psychedelic music was the in thing, a trip being the operative thing with whatever gave you the 'buzz' giving you that 'buzz'. Okay dokey, I am not suggesting that today we go seek that so called 'buzz', just let the music do that. Anyway, RUCKZUCK fronted by Faith Kelly is a female fronted psychedelic space rock family band hailing from Long Island, NY. They seem so young but boy, not only do they have the 'hippie image', they can come up with the goods too. This album is different to what I would normally listen too, but after having listened to the album through the cans, I am totally spaced out! This is basically what it says on the tin, psychedelic space rock. There are five tracks of the aforementioned style of music, all basically intense slow to mid tempo kinda stuff. I am not sure whether this will have mainstream appeal, and would indeed only appeal to a certain type of music fan, but heavens above, kudos to the band for doing something they obviously believe in! I will most certainly suggest checking them out, and if you do get your grubby paws on their music, listen though headphones. Website at www.ruckzuckband.com/ ..7.5/10 (Dave)

POWER OF MIRANTIC...'WEEP' EP

(I.A Studio) Reviewed 23rd October 2015

Power Of Mirantic is (now) an all-female Symphonic Power Metal band from Surabaya, East Java in Indonesia. They are fronted by the angelic vocals of Dwi Fatmawati, and this release is a five track EP featuring two covers - 'Eva' (Nightwish) and 'Somewhere' (Within Temptation). My scribes tell me that they have already released 2 full length albums, and on this showing, I wouldn't mind tracking them down. This EP is well recommended - Facebook here..8.5/10 (Dave)

PERPETUAL LEGACY…’A NEW SYMPHONY FOR HIM’

(Metal Survivor) Reviewed 16th October 2015

Perpetual Legacy from Brazil was founded in 2014 and is comprised of: Michelle Braglia (Vocals), Bruno de Souza (Guitar), Matheus Maia (Bass), Rafael Lobo (Piano & Keyboard) and Gabriel Pedroso (Drums). They play Melodic Symphonic Metal, with influences from Heavy, Power Metal and elements of Folk and Industrial thrown into the melting pot for good measure. This in-fact is a stonking release giving the listener 11 tracks of good quality Symphonic Metal music, and for a band that was only conceived last year, this is damn good! With numbers like the bombastic ‘A Beautiful Truth’, the Folk influenced title track, the ballad ‘Metonymy’ and the beautifully heavy but catchy ‘Our Pride‘, I would go as far as to say that there is not a filler among the tracks here and it has to be well recommended to all fans of this style of music. Google them and check ‘em out because the record is well worth it! 9/10 (Dave)

PRYTI...'TALES OF A MELANCHOLIC'

(Welcome To Pariahville) Reviewed 3rd September 2015

'Tales of a Melancholic’ (TOAM) is the debut full length album from Birmingham (UK) singer/songwriter Pryti. The album released on her own label features dark stories, anthemic riffs and grungy guitars. Justin Hill from Sikth produced it, while the lass herself must be very talented, as in addition to releasing the album on her own label, Pryti wrote, sang, played guitars and bass and to be perfectly honest with you readers out there, this is a flippin' awesome package! Melancholic Metal with massive and melodic choruses, would be one way of describing the music on this album, with opener 'Insomnia' a perfect example! Indeed, there are many perfect examples among the 10 tracks that we have on this record, and she can blow your speakers out too, listen to the pounding 'Angst' - bloody wonderful and totally melodic! Despite the mention of "Meancholic Metal", no worries, this won't drive you to a state of depression, too good for that!! This was released a few months ago, but better late than never. Pryti's website is here...well recommended... 9.5/10 (Dave)

RITES OF ASH...'KILL FOR LOVE'

(DJ Boy Records) Reviewed 27th July 2015

Rites of Ash is an American rock band from Washington, DC, formed in 2006 and 'Kill For Love', is the band's 5th full length release that was released towards the end of 2014. The band features founder member Alex on male vox and Toni doing female vocal duties, and this is a healthy dose of melodic modern rock, rather cool it is too. Foot tapping stuff on this 14 track release with tracks like 'Monster', 'Your Surrender', 'In Dreams and Death' and 'Believe' that will have you bouncing around your living room in too time at all. The band is nominated for the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) 2015 Best Modern Rock Group award, and on this showing, I cannot say I am at all surprised. The band's website is www.ritesofash.com/. Catchy radio friendly rock and well recommended.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

PLAGUE OF STARS...'WHEN MORNING CAME'

(ZeroBudget Records USA) Reviewed 8th July 2015

Plague of Stars is a female-fronted Doom metal band from Minneapolis. The band is fronted by the vocals of Melissa Ferlaak (formerly Aesma Daeva and Visions of Atlantis), the vocals of Melissa I do think, giving the tracks that 'wow factor'. Do not expect Visions of Atlantis style Gothic Metal here however, as that is not quite what you will get. I call this thinking man's (or lady's) Gothic/Doom Metal and is mainly for fans of Novembers Doom, Tristania, Swallow the Sun and Paradise Lost among others. However, there is a melodic sensibility among the music that the band has recorded here, although there does seem to be a lot going on. There is I suppose something for everybody on this release, but I would like to see the direction of their music a little more focused, rather than shooting off in various musical directions within the ten tracks. But I suppose that is a plus, the listener does not quite know what to expect next. This is an okay release with the closing number 'Requiem Liberum Arbitrium' possibly the most commercial and symphonic sounding track on the album. Anyway, if you think this cd could be your cuppa tea, then do check the band out here.. 7.5/10 (The Nugget)

RAGE OF ROMANCE...S/T

(Steel Gallery Records) July 1st 2015

Why oh why are we being bombarded with new music? But nevermind, we like it :) Again another review that is sitting on our 'catch up' pile, Rage Of Romance is Greek based fronted by Vicky Psarakis (currently vocalist with The Aghonist). This Symphonic/Gothic Metal band has given us a very good eight track album in the vein of Nightwish and Within Temptation. This overall is a good debut effort, with the track 'Holy Serenade' being a fave of mine, rather catchy and melodic this one. I wonder though, how many more bands this style of music can take - the bus must be nearly full surely, but I like it, and so do many others! A video to the track 'Let Me Breathe Again' can be viewed here...8.5/10 (The Nugget)

ROMEO'S DAUGHTER...'SPIN'

(RD Records) Reviewed 29th June 2015

Romeo's Daughter has been going for a wee while now. Fronted by Leigh Matty's crystal clear vocals, here we have an album of 10 tracks of enjoyable Melodic Rock, and possibly one of the best albums the band has released. However, I still rank their s/t debut that appeared in 1988 as one of the best AOR/Melodic Rock albums ever released! Some awesome tunes here however, including 'Already Gone' and the gem of a tune 'Love Will Come To Those That Wait', both scream "hit single" and should be played on mainstream radio. There are many other jewels to be found including 'Enemy', the acoustic driven 'Tonight' and the bouncy 'All Because Of You'. To summarise: This is radio friendly Pop/Rock at its best and yet another album that is well worth the purchase price, so go see your Bank manager now! Their website is here.. 9.25/10 (Dave)

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