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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS S-T

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STAR CRYSTAL...'FOLLOW ME'

(Self Release) Reviewed 27th June 2016

Star Crystal come from Ukraine and is another awesome band from that part of the world. Their music comes from the cabinet of Melodic Rock/AOR and this album is rather cool as a consequence. Ten tracks of AOR, this highlighted very well within the opening number 'Don't Give Up'. The album follows a similar trend of 80s style Melodic Rock/AOR throughout, never really deviating from the tried and tested formula that this style of music delivers the listener - mid tempo to uptempo melodic rockers with the occasional ballad or two. I have very little info here regards Star Crystal, but I believe the vocalist is Susanna Radimovskaya, her vocals reminding me a little of Tina Turner on the track 'Forgotten Love'. However, Susanna does tend to 'scream' the lyrics at times in some of the songs, but I am listing that as just a minor gripe. If you like 80s style Melodic Rock/AOR, it would do no harm in checking them out. One purchase point is here.. 8/10 (The Nugget)

THY SHADE…’THE LAST GOODBYE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 27th June 2016

Thy Shade is a Symphonic Metal band based in Denver, Colorado. Fronted by the classical/crossover soprano Diana Shade, the project was formed during the summer of 2015, with Mane Cabrales (Dimension) behind the composition and production. After working hard on the writing process, Diana and her band has given birth to 11 songs, these songs focusing on strong melodies and catchy choruses, as a consequence creating a pleasant listening experience and in turn offering up a new voice in the Symphonic Metal world. There are 11 songs on this album, all carefully crafted and sung by the awesome operatic Tarja sounding vocals of Diana. We even get a foray into Power Metal territory with ‘Final Chapter’ that also sees the introduction of male screams into the musical equation. The record overall is a good one, the second half of the album to me seems better than the first half. Some epic tracks including ’Des Irae’ and the beautiful 'Bring The Light Back', so regards Diana and her band, you could well say- “job done”. Facebook is here… 8.25/10 (Hannah Cooper)

STITCHED UP HEART…’NEVER ALONE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 22nd June 2016

Stitched Up Heart hail from California. This is an album from this four piece outfit that will pound your eardrums, just imagine a mix of Paramore and In This Moment on the eleven tracks featured here. The band offer up crushing riffs, and pummeling drums, led by frontwoman Mixi Demner and all wrapped up in a kool melodic coating. A very brief review but if you feel this is up your alleyway, this is well worth checking out. The band’s Facebook is here - an absolute belter of a record! 8.5/10 (Dave)

SHIVERBURN...'ROAD TO SOMEWHERE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st June 2016

Shiverburn from The Netherlands was launched by vocalist Sanne Heuyerjans and guitarist Erwin Jongenelen in 2013, releasing their 4-song 'One Step Closer' EP in 2014, before finalizing their current five piece line-up. With a successful crowdfunding campaign behind them, the band has now released this their full length debut. This newie is the expected and very necessary step up from the EP. Shiverburn has maintained their mainstream sound – some people have called it pop – but have branched out from their working formula for what the band calls “a more original approach to the music”, resulting in an album best described as American rock oriented. They cite bands such as Nickelback, Paramore, Halestorm and Alter Bridge as the artists that influenced Shiverburn‘s direction. Certainly those influences are not far from the mark within the 12 uplifting tracks on this album - Alternative Rock with a Gothic subtleness. Holland sure seems capable of producing the musical goods and this is another fine offering from those shores. The band without any label backing has recorded a frikin' goodie here, and has also attracted the attention of Within Temptation guitarist Ruud Jolie (who guests on the new album), manager Menno Kappe (Graviton Music Services), and co-manager Sander Gommans (ex-After Forever) in the process. I well recommend this record, the band's website is here.. 9/10 (Dave)

SUNDENRAUSCH…’SCHWARZ WIE EBENHOLZ’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 12th June 2016

Kira Hempel is the singer with the German band Sündenrausch, and this is their new EP that the band crowd funded, and that Kira so kindly sent me. I must say that Sündenrausch do so happen to be one of my fave bands, with their catchy style of melodic metal. And this EP is no exception, offering up five tracks of totally awesome rock/metal to please these ears and hopefully many others too. Everything on this little album ticks all the right boxes from opener, the title track 'Schwarz wie Ebenholz', through the pounding and catchy 'Cinderella' to closing number, the awesome 'Wunderland'. I have to say that this album is right up my alleyway, so if you like your music, melodic, catchy and with a little oommmppphhh, not forgetting the awesome angelic vocals of Kira (similar to those of Liv Kristine) this EP is for you! Recording and production was done in the Chameleon Studios in Hamburg (produced by Chris Harms, Lord of the Lost). Kira tells me that they are not a typical metal band - they sound okay to me :) - website is at www.suendenrausch.de. The EP is available on the digital platform so buy it! 9.5/10 (Dave)

SOULS OF DIOTMA…’THE SORCERESS REVEALS – ATLANTIS’

(Rockshots Records) Reviewed 6th June 2016

Welcome to Atlantis! SOULS OF DIOTIMA fronted by Claudia Barsi is an Italian metal band with a unique style featuring recognizable elements of progressive and symphonic metal, as well as unconventional elements, combined together in a powerfully expressive new way. This being their third album is a 20 track 70 minute + ambitious concept album concerning the legendary story of Atlantis, going back in time to more than 10,000 years. A narrator tells the story, but also directly through the voice of the protagonists themselves, as if we were in a real film. It starts with the description of the Atlantean society overviewing all the characters of the story, a utopian society where it reigned since the beginning of peace and well-being, a land freely self-managed from the inside in a very perfect harmony. The love between Poseidon and Clito, a love between a god and a common woman, will lead to the birth of 10 twins. Between them Atlas will become the one true king, after promising his people and family to rule the land of Atlantis without war intentions, but keeping peace and harmony. But Atlas, half man and half god, will begin to experience an inner conflict, so he decides to ignore the promises made in order to stifle his divine part creating a never existed army, going to the conquest of new spaces and invade new territories. But in the first war against the ancestors of the Athenians, Atlas and his warriors were defeated hard with the loss of many men. All of this and the broken promise of Atlas, unleashed the wrath of his uncle, Zeus, who called in collecting all the gods, to unleash on the land of Atlantis a tremendous storm and a destructive earthquake. So coming to this day, what is left of the land of Atlantis, and especially if it never existed, where is it? This will be revealed in the last song of the album. Musically, this is epic, ambitious and damn awesome! The concept of the album is told above (via the label’s press release), but SOULS OF DIOTIMA with this album have propelled themselves well and truly into the premier league! This is an album of film score proportions that will not grab you first time, but upon each listen, new layers are peeled away to further enhance the quality of the listening experience. With some rather cool cover art, this adventure of Atlantis is certainly a must buy for fans of female fronted progressive and symphonic metal and more. Indeed, I was so engrossed with the music, I forgot that it was a bedtime story actually being told to the little girl! I will reveal no more!! Well recommended – released June 10th... 9.5/10 (Dave)

TARJA…’THE BRIGHTEST VOID’

(earMUSIC) Reviewed 2nd June 2016

The Brightest Void is the sixth studio album by Finnish singer Tarja Turunen. It serves as a prequel to her main album ‘The Shadow Self’ due soon. It will be released tomorrow 3rd of June and contains 9 tracks. I am beginning to think that Tarja has well and truly thrown of the shackles of Nightwish, and is now well and truly established as a Rock/Metal act in her own right. Opener ‘No Bitter End’ is a catchy start to the album, while the up tempo ‘Your Heaven and Your Hell’ features Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks – great sax too btw! This awesome start to the album continues with the superb and catchy ‘Eagle Eye’ featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers very own Chad Smith. ‘An Empty Dream’ and ‘Witch Hunt' are kinda eerie numbers , while this amazing album continues with every remaining track including the two covers, ‘House of Wax’ (Paul Mccartney) and ‘Goldfinger’ (Shirley Bassey), sure fire winners, as one would expect from a Tarja release. The album closes with a new mix of ‘Paradise (What About Us)’ which was a collaboration with Dutch maestros Within Temptation. If this is a prequel to the main album, then all I can say about ‘The Shadow Self’ is “bring it on!” ... 9/10 (Dave)

SILENT ELEGY…’GONE WITH THE WIND’

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th May 2016

‘Gone With The Wind’ is the Chinese Symphonic Metal band Silent Elegy's debut full-length album, which they put a lot of immense effort in. The band has gone famous in China due to their unique and epic composition, and the beautiful and totally magical voice of their vocalist Gabrielle Li. Hoping to take a step further - to step out of China into the international music scene, they hired the Canadian producer James Zhan from James Z. Productions to handle the production of the album. The whole production process lasted nine months, during which the songs were further refined in both composition and production aspect. The result of everyone's hard work is for all to hear and it is hard to believe that they are actually from China. By saying that, I am not being disrespectful to China, but this album has a strong European feel to it and is damn awesome! The opening track ‘Reborn’ is a bombastically catchy song that will have you humming the chorus long after it has finished, while ‘Valkyrie’ has a Tarja era Nightwish feel to it, like many of the numbers here in-fact. The amazing album continues with tracks like the pounding ‘Indelible Memory’, while tracks like ‘Redemption’ sees Gabrielle literally letting rip with those awesome operatic vocal chords of hers. ‘Never Meet Again’ is a thundering number with pounding guitars, and again we have those amazing vocals. Then we have the ballad, the lovely ‘In My Dreams’!! Everything here from track 1 to track 10 is magical and this album I know will appeal to many if not all fans of female fronted Symphonic Metal. This is a real corker and if there are more bands in China like Silent Elegy, I would like to hear those too – well recommended and it can be purchased where I bought it from – CDbaby…9.5/10

SHADOWRISE...'ESCAPE FROM SHADOW ISLAND' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 24th May 2016

From the south of the Netherlands in Eindhoven; the metal capital of the Netherlands, Shadowrise is born; a Symphonic Power Metal band inspired by heavy melo-death. Fronted by Laura Guldemond (Ayreon – The Theater Equation Choir, Robby Valentine) and with male grunts courtesy Roman Potasse, Shadowrise I am sure will release a storm on the metal scene as we know it, with this their debut EP! Opener 'Rise' pounds out of the speakers knocking you against the wall, offering up heavenly clean vocals and those dirty grunts, giving the music a much heavier feel. And that opener sets the scene rather nicely - 'Django' is a melodic Symphonic belter, while 'Monsters' is a monster of a track! The pounding title track closes this rather cool EP, the album itself being a melodic yet heavy record, with beautiful guitar harmonies and riffs, heavy blast beats, thundering bass together with clean and harsh vocals, not forgetting loads of neo-classical influences added by Shadowrise’s Daniël Boomsma. The band can be checked out at www.facebook.com/shadowrisemetal... worth looking into.... 8/10 (Dave)

SEVI…’THE BATTLE NEVER ENDS’

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th May 2016

Sevi is a Bulgarian rock band from Sofia that was conceived in 2010. The current members are Svetlana "Sevi" Bliznakova (lead vocals), Temelko Temelkov (lead guitar), Rally Velinov (bass guitar), Pavlin Ivanov (drums, percussion) and Dessy Markova (keyboards, backing vocals). The band describe their music as heart rock because of the emotional content of their songs. This is their 2nd studio album and in turn is a rather cool slice of melodic hard rock featuring 11 belting numbers, all rather pleasing to these ears with Svetlana singing with very little detectable accent. Indeed her powerhouse vocals are well suited to the style of music. There are a number of fave tracks here, but the catchy and awesomely titled ‘Screw You, Honey’ and the AOR sounding ‘Destiny’ being highlights to my ears. Sevi‘s website is here… rather cool… 8.5/10 (Dave)

TOTHEM…’GEMINI’

(Maple Metal Records) Reviewed 14th May 2016

Tothem is considered by international critics as one of the most talented and promising bands of the Italian and international melodic metal scene, and quite rightly to my ears too. After releasing the EP (Tothem - 2003), only in 2010 did Black Cyril, the guitar player, and Roslen, lead singer, decided to restart the project with the entry of three new members: Leo, on bass guitar, Andrea, on drums, and Marco, on keyboards. During the years they have played at the best clubs in Italy and Europe. Up til now they have recorded two Eps (Tothem in 2003 and Osaka Bed & Breakfast released in 2010 in limited edition), with their first full-length in 2013,'Beyond the Sea' seeing the band hook up with the Canadian label Maple Metal Records. And now in 2016, the new 2nd album is unleashed upon the record buying public. Roslen has an awesome voice that can switch from a kinda Poppy/Rock feel to soprano at the flick of a switch. Everything here is damn good from the opener, being the upbeat and fast paced title track to the closer 'The Witch (Live)' - the studio version of this track appeared on the 'Beyond The Sea' album. There are standout cuts a plenty, but the aforementioned opener is a goodie for starters together with soprano vocal ending, other tracks include ‘Legacy’ which I am sure will become a live fave and crowd pleaser in due course, the electro flavoured pounder ‘Bipolar Disorder’, the catchy ‘Liar’, the mind blowing ‘L’essenza’ and the buoyant ‘The Other Half’ among the others on this record. This is another awesome album from a fine Italian band – out now so get it! 9.25/10 (Dave)

SECRET RULE…’MACHINATION’

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 14th May 2016

Italian band Secret Rule was formed in 2014 with the intention to create a powerful, melodic and rhythmically challenging sound. They released their first album ‘Transposed Emotions’ the following year and toured Europe extensively in support of it, building a solid fan base in countries such as Belgium and the UK especially. The band is fronted by powerhouse singer Angela Di Vincenzo and includes notable musicians such as keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg (Sonata Arctica) and drummer Sander Zoer (ex Delain). ‘Machination’ will be released this summer (June 26th) on Scarlet Records, featuring special guest appearances by Stefan Helleblad (Within Temptation), Timo Somers (Delain), Fabio D’Amore (Serenity) and more, and with such a line up, you would expect something a little special, and that is truly the case with this release. With a powerful and melodic rock-metal sound coupled with industrial structures and electronic influences, this album should be on everyone's shopping list. The opener 'Ex-Machina' confirms that statement, a belter of an opener as is the quirky and bouncy follow up track 'The Saviour'. Two tracks in = a frikin’ good start. Next up, the metallic and Middle Eastern sounding ‘I Have The Sun’ follows and is another quality track with such a catchy chorus. ‘Dolls’ flirts with Power Metal territory, while ‘I Will’ is a melodic belter! The obligatory power ballad comes with the awesome track ‘The Image’ which is from the top drawer, as is basically everything on this record to be perfectly frank. ‘You’re The Player’ is a melodic blockbuster running in at just over three minutes with another catchy chorus, with next up ‘Your Trap’ having an electro feel together with great guitar solo. The final three numbers maintain the ‘awesome factor’ - ‘Foolish Daisy’ brings in briefly some harsh vocals with a progressive undercurrent, ‘Short Stories’ again flirts with Power Metal while the ballad ‘A Mother’ closes this fine album. The band’s website is - here, this is well and truly recommended and to be honest it deserves a 10/10 (Dave)

SHINY BLACK ANTHEM...'UNBREAKABLE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 10th May 2016

Shiny Black Anthem is an Italian band featuring the glamorous fashion model Sarah Moon (recently featured in Playboy Magazine) on vocals. They offer the listener an alternative rock/metal sound inspired by bands like Paramore, Pvris and the like. And to be honest, this is another album that has dropped in here that we find rather cool. Thirteen tracks of captivating melodic tunes, that to be totally honest are all damn good. After a brief instrumental opener, fist track proper 'Fade Into White' kicks in with its catchy chorus, although I did begin to find the chorus a little repetitive as the tune wore on. Some interestingly titled tracks too like 'Your Lips Are Cocaine', which offers up another catchy/melodic chorus as do most of the numbers here. Other highlights include 'Let Me Out (I’m A Monster)’, the powerful ‘Your Enemy’, the catchy ‘Give Me More’, a fave of mine being the belting ‘Chasing Shadows’, with another great chorus and the awesome power ballad ‘Alone In My World’ that features Daniele Tofani. All out headbangers may wish to steer clear of this album, but for fans of the aforementioned bands (Paramore etc), then this 13 track radio friendly alternative rock release is well worth checking out when released 8th July, and is recommended as a consequence by the Ravenheart team. The band’s Facebook is here, the recording being produced by Daniele Ingrati and Becko (Universal Italy) @ Skie Studio... 9/10 (Dave)

SOLREID...'Цена Открытий/Cena Otkrytiy' (The Price of Openings)

(MUSICA Production, Moscow) Reviewed 8th May 2016

This is the second review from a Russian band today, proving that Russia is becoming a hotbed of Rock and Metal. Anyway, female fronted sympho power metal band SOLREID has just released this their debut album “Цена Открытий/Cena Otkrytiy» (The Price of Openings in English). The band was founded in 2010 in Smolensk, Russia and is fronted by the awesome voice of Victoriel Filth, who is also a professional soprano singer. On this album, they bring us 7 numbers sung in their native tongue, that would appeal to fans of early Nightwish or Edenbridge. This is a short album of around 25 minutes, but there are some corking numbers here that hammer along rather nicely, nothing here over 5 minutes in length, so all short and sweet. One of my fave tracks is the power ballad 'Wechnost' together with awesome guitar solo. Although a rather short album, I do rather like this record and it is well worth looking into for fans of this style of music. View an album teaser here.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

SLOT…’Septima’

(Sliptrick Records) Reviewed 8th May 2016

SLOT come from Russia and is fronted by a young lady by the name of Nookie, with male mainly clean vox from Cache. Together with Korn, Slot performed at Saint Petersburg's Ice Palace and at MSA in Moscow in 2006. Indeed, they have released six studio albums, two remix albums, one live DVD, several singles and several soundtracks, so the Russian hit makers have quite a pedigree, and are now about to release this their seventh album via Sliptrick Records, in July 2016. They had a major setback however in early 2014, when female singer Nookie was stabbed multiple times in her neck during an autograph session with the band’s fans in St. Petersburg. She was rushed to the hospital, where the doctors said that she was "moderately grave", but her life wasn't in danger. Thankfully she has recovered and together with the band throw at the listener 13 tracks of Alternative Metal with a strong melodic sensibility coupled with cool electro influences. The tracks are sung in Russian, but I have English titles to the songs. The opener ‘Reincarnation’ is a real belter and sets the scene for what is a totally awesome album. Nookie belts them out like a good un with fave tracks a plenty. Just listen to the corker ‘As He Wants’, the totally magical and rap influenced ‘Russian Soul’ with its catchy chorus (I really love this one!) and the metallic, pounding and interestingly titled ‘Ctrl+Z’, with yet another awesome chorus. Damn it I am only 4 tracks in, so I may as well just say that the whole shebang is superb including further tracks like ‘Where, There The Sky’. If you love melody, subtle electronica, male and mainly but not exclusively clean vocals, and belting tunes, this is for you! I have known about Slot for some while, but have never really got into any of their music big time. This is rather damn good and well recommended – check out www.facebook.com/theSLoT/ and put 8th July into your diaries!... 9.5/10 (Dave)

SKARLETT RIOT...'SENTIENCE' EP

(Factory Music) Reviewed 2nd May 2016

The new EP from Lincolnshire (UK) rockers Skarlett Riot is now available, and is another awesome record from this band that like a good wine seem to mature with age :) 5 tracks of melodic alternative hard rock with the signature Skarlett Riot sound that offers huge verses and catchy addictive choruses. This hugely talented UK band continues to push out awesome music at an alarming rate, and surely world domination must ensue. Everything here on this little EP is impressive, well recommended and available from today on iTunes and the like.... 9/10 (Dave)

SOVEREIGN COUNCIL…’LANIAKEA’

(Self Released) Reviewed 28th April 2016

Sovereign Council from Canada is comprised of five members: Alexander MacWilliam (vocals), professional vocalist and vocal coach Lisa Thompson , Chris Thompson (guitar), Shaun Vanhooser (bass guitar) and Brandon Schneider (drums). The group’s blend of male/female vocals has earned them comparisons to Lacuna Coil, Evanescence, Delain, Nightwish, and Kamelot. On this their 2nd album released last year, they have throttling guitar riffs, intense bass lines, driving drums and fluctuating vocals that are at times guttural and at others more mellow and introspective. Their unique and at times Progressive sound has been influenced by a wide array of artists, from Chopin and Mozart to Slipknot, Metallica, Slayer and Epica, and they find inspiration for their song writing in lost loves, betrayals, deaths and other hardships in life that many of us sure experience at one time or another. Like many US bands that embrace this style of metal, the use of keyboards is subtle, preparing a more in yer face guitar sound for the listener. And one sure gets their monies worth on this record with 14 tracks to wrap your ears around. This is a consistent and a very accomplished release, although no one track actually jumps out and grabs ya. However, the band was able to acquire the services of Timo Somers from Delain who features on the heavy and metallic sounding track ‘The Human Condition’, Delain of course not too long ago released the similarly titled album ‘The Human Contradiction ‘. There are not many Symphonic Metal bands coming out of Canada at the moment, but Sovereign Council is certainly one band from that country to watch out for! Their Facebook is here - this is a grower and well recommended..8.5/10 (Dave)

THE JUST…’PoP Mosh’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 8th April 2016

The South African rock/metal music scene is not one that from an outsider anyway, could be described as vibrant. However, what bands that I am familiar with in that amazing country, they are rather all good. We can now add The Just to that list, as they offer up six tracks on this EP of up lifting Alternative Rock, similar to bands like Flyleaf et al. Fronted by the voice of Illona Grobler, the EP gets going with the track ‘No Mistakes’, a monster offering and then ‘Burn’ gets ya, a track with a hideously catchy chorus, one of my current faves from this little EP. ‘Wake up’ jangles along rather nicely, while ‘Brave’ flirts a little with hard rock territory. The closing duo of the bouncy ‘She’ and ‘Now Hear Me’ (www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0KBuC6YFqo) close what is a rather good record. The latter being a sort of anthem where the band want people to be able to sing over their "haters", especially those pursuing their dreams and passions that are outside of the norm. Indeed, the album basically is about chasing your dreams, not giving up, realizing you are worth far more than society wants you to believe. The band has set out to make music that rocked, but would reach as broad an audience as possible and even radio play. I think they may have succeeded. A very good effort from this young Sth African band – their Facebook is here.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

SYTERIA…’WAKE UP’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 1st April 2016

An email dropped in the other day from Jackie Chambers (Girlschool) offering me the new EP from her other band SYTERIA. The band comprises of Jackie (Guitar, Vocals), Julia (Vocals), Keira (Bass Guitar, Vocals) and the lucky guy Pablo (Drums, Vocals). Well after a successful pledge campaign, the band on this EP throw at the listener three high octane tracks of some rather decent Punk orientated Rock Music, 'Sheeple (Model Citizen)', 'When I Get Out Of High School' and 'Reflection'. A kinda throw back in time to the heady hazy days of crowded boozy clubs and pogo sticks :) This is like the output from Jackie's other band rather good, so how about becoming a model citizen and check out their website here, and subsequently make a purchase!.... 8/10 (Dave)

SILENT DELUSION…’IN STATE OF DELUSION’

(Self Release) Reviewed 31st March 2016

The Silent Delusion project led by Gonçalo Antunes, with collaborators Duarte Cruz and Daniel Pereira is a music project rooted in heavy metal, but with a strong melodic sense and a pop sensibility, resulting in an accessible and very captivating sound. This release contains interpretations by female vocalists of recognizable value within the Portuguese metal scene, reinforcing the innovative and unique character of this work at the national level. The guest artists are: Sara Freitas (Monolith Moon), Diana Rosa (11th Dimension), Rute Fevereiro (EnChanTya, BlackWidows) and Célia Ramos (Mons Lvnae, Red Rose Motel, Candymoon). There are eight tracks here and pretty good they are too. We have the standout up lifting melodic opener ‘Traveling In Time’, the equally as awesome but slightly heavier ‘Equilibrium’, the seven minute majestic ‘Come Fly With Me’, and the heavy but equally as catchy ‘War Within’. But there’s more! The pace does not slacken as further pounding melodic tracks blow your mind… there’s the occasional power metal within the number ‘Hollow’, the mid-tempo ‘Hurricane’, the operatic folk influenced ‘Return of the King’ and the awesome progressive influenced closing track ‘Delusion’. Everything on this album drives along as smooth as a well driven formula one racing car, and as previously stated, is very accessible and should appeal to all fans of the female fronted melodic metal music scene. View a video taster to the record here…this is well recommended when released in May… 9.25/10 (Dave)

THE PHOENIX...'MY TURN TO DEAL' EP

(Demon Doll Records/Atomic Stuff Promotion) Reviewed 22nd March 2016

This is a brand new smokin' hot all female combo from Italy, or San Marino to be more precise. THE PHOENIX is a quartet and a month or so ago released this their first EP. There are four tracks of pulsating no nonsense hard rock, and with a drummer called Luna RocketQueen, you know this band sure means business. This is good catchy stuff and certainly worth checking out. Have a look at their facebook here...it's time to party! 8.25/10 (Dave)

TONIGHT ALIVE…’LIMITLESS’

(Sony Records -Oceania, Japan/Fearless -North America) Reviewed 3rd March 2016

Tonight Alive is an Australian rock band from Sydney, formed in 2008. The band consists of lead vocalist Jenna McDougall, lead guitarist Whakaio Taahi, rhythm guitarist Jake Hardy, bassist Cam Adler and drummer Matt Best. Guitarist Jake Hardy and bassist Cameron Adler already had an existing rock project covering other bands' material. Later, they met Whakaio Taahi through mutual friends, and asked him to join in on keyboard and lead guitar. Meanwhile, Jenna was writing her own acoustic music at the time, and had Cameron Adler helping her record and produce a demo. After the demo was finished, Cam gave Jenna a song the band had written and asked her to record her vocals over it. On May 31, 2008, the day before her sixteenth birthday, Jenna joined as lead vocalist, forming the first version of the band. Anyway, here in 2016, the band release what is their third album of what I would call some rather good tuneful and melodic Pop/Rock. 'To Be Free' gets the album underway and is a fine way to start, a great melodic song that would set radio airwaves on fire. The slower but equally as good 'Oxygen' follows and to my ears is another sure fire hit! ‘Human Interaction’ and ‘Drive’ are low tempo numbers, while ‘How Does It Feel’ ups the tempo, and so far everything here pushes all the correct buttons! And it continues with further awesome cuts like the lovely ballad ‘Waves’, the damn cool and catchy ‘Power Of One’ and the closing track, the ballad ‘The Greatest’. This sounds rather crazy but despite their apparent high profile worldwide including to a small extent the UK, I must hold my hands up and say that this band has slipped by and large un-noticed by myself. Time to rectify, this is a good record. Furthermore, the band is often compared to fellow alternative Rock/Pop band Paramore. However, regarding the comparison, guitarist Whakaio Taah stated "People are going to compare, it's human nature, but we don't really let it affect us. We just do what we love to do and hope people like it." Recommended!… 9/10 (Dave)

SPACESHIP UNDERGROUND…’EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF’

(Self Release) Reviewed 22nd February 2016

Spaceship Underground is an Alternative Rock band that was conceived in 2013 and they come from Israel. To my ears, it is refreshing to hear something that differs from the run of the mill Gothic/Symphonic music that very often comes our way. Fronted by Grace M (Chen Mogzamov), who also is the main lyricist within the band, they throw at the listener 10 tracks of rather good Alternative/Indie Rock, that could quite easily cross over into the mainstream if given the chance. I must admit when I listen to music that is sent my way, I sometimes never quite know what to expect. This is one of those albums that when being played then offers a pleasant listening experience. Plenty on offer here from the rocky catchy opener ‘Clay’, through the quirky ‘Circus’, the heavy ‘Here It Comes Again', the laid back ‘I Wish I Didn’t Know’ and the bluesy 'Goodbye'. Although the music has its roots in Alternative Rock, this debut also welcomes elements of hip-hop, modern rock and atmospheric electronica into the band’s music. Spaceship Underground’s Bandcamp is here…recommended.. 8.5/10

SIN.SIN….’FAIRYTRONICS’ EP

(Alfa Matrix) Reviewed 17th February 2016

Here we have the first 6-track EP by the rather enchanting project SIN.SIN. This album invites us into Kristell L.’s magic supernatural world located on clouds up in the heavens. An intimate and almost introspective world made of rainbows and bright nights and only accessible through the magical power of mixing fantasy with electronic music. Known for her work as lead singer of the goth rock/industrial metal band LOVELORN DOLLS, Kristell L., literally opens herself up on this new SIN.SIN project of hers, through which she spreads her butterfly wings and reveals a more colourful side of her personality. This six track EP offers rather cool and danceable electronic–alt pop– ethereal wave, including various re mixes, all accompanied by the awesome angelic vocals of Kristell L. This is not Metal but it is rather kool, and would go down a storm in clubland!! It also screams mainstream radio airplay. It was released on 26th January and is well worth checking out… 8.5/10 (Dave)

SPEKULUS...'SEALED WITH A FIST'

(Self Released) Reviewed 13th February 2016

I reviewed 'Terroristian' from Leeds (UK) band Spekulus back in October 2013, and that was a really good album - a young lady called Amanda Amorphic fronted the band on that album, and I stated in that review that she spat venom with loadsa attitude. Well Amanda is still here on the awesomely titled 'SEALED WITH A FIST', the band's most recent release. And she still spits venom, making the African Black Mamba (a highly venomous snake) look quite a friendly character really. This to be totally frank is a completely awesome album, as the band hurl at the listener 7 tracks of highly charged Industrial Metal, with Amanda screaming like a honey monster craving whatever honey monsters crave (erm, honey I suppose)! Talking about monsters, there are some monster cuts here in-fact, but I at the moment do particularly like the title track - 5 mins of Industrial Metal heaven that would even leave Isane Bolt gasping for breath. And the pounding 'Disposure' is rather good too! This record is heavy, it should be played loud and it is damn good. The band's website is here where you can download the album. Well recommended, but a word of advice, do not get this for your Grannie for her Birthday :) ..... 8.5/10 (Dave)

SKUNK ANANSIE...'ANARCHYTECTURE'

(Spinefarm) Reviewed 31st January 2016

Skunk Anansie is a British band whose members include Skin (lead vocals), Cass (guitar, bass, backing vocals), Ace (guitar, backing vocals) and Mark Richardson (drums and percussion). They formed in March 1994, disbanded in 2001 and reformed in 2009. The name "Skunk Anansie" is taken from Akann folk tales of Anansi the spider-man of Ghana with "Skunk" added to make the name nastier and more sinister. Their last studio output was in 2012 with the album 'Black Traffic' and the awesomely titled 'Anarchytecture' is what greets 2016, and an interesting album it is too. Kicking off with the danceable and catchy 'Love Someone Else', this may set the benchmark for what is to come, but the album in-fact does offer an interesting mix of music. ‘Death To The Lovers’ for example is simply a beautiful ballad, while the dance vibe returns with the number ‘In The Back Room’. ‘That Sinking Feeling’ does not have a sinking feeling at all, a great foot tapper if ever there was one, while following track ‘Without You‘ is damn cool. Everything on this release is top quality, may be lacking the big choruses of the past, but this album comes from the top drawer from a top band British band. The record is worth a punt from a band described by Skin as a ‘Clit Rock Group‘ and mentions Sex Pistols, Blondie, dub, reggae, electronica, hip-hop and world music as significant influences! 8.5/10 (Dave)

STORM…’MEDUSA’

(Tin Idol Productions) Reviewed 22nd January 2016

There are not many if any Gothic Metal bands from Hawaii apart from this rather cool band who calls themselves STORM. Fronted by Sandy “Storm” Essman, she so happens to be a classically trained singer with a versatile background in the music business, Sandy being a vocal powerhouse and front-woman extraordinaire. Onto the album now and 'Medusa' is the band’s 2nd cd following on the heels of ’Storm’s a Brewin’ that we reviewed in Feb last year. This latest record is a "Metal Musical" and I must say is rather good too, adopting a sound that would I am sure go down well within Europe and the UK. Some catchy tracks all linked by a deep haunting male spoken voice, the complete musical package telling the tale of Medusa. There is a storm on the horizon striking in the blink of an eye, and if you don’t check this LP out it may well strike you. To be honest, this is rather good! Facebook is here… 8.5/10 (Dave)

SYMFOBIA...'WAY OF THE QUEEN'

(MOLIX, s.r.o.) Reviewed 21st January 2016

Fronted by the rather pretty Erika Strečková and with a keyboard player that looks like an American pro wrestler, Symfobia come from Slovakia, and give the listener a rather catchy and melodic style of Symphonic Metal that to these ears is rather good. The music actually reminds me particularly in the orchestration dept., of Danish Metal Kings ROYAL HUNT, a band I do particularly like. The whole package is awesome from the rather cool opener 'Dragon', through the bouncy and bombastic 'Bloody Wings', the epic awesome title track, the 7 minute plus emotional power ballad 'Last Teardrop', to the closing appropriately titled 'Finally'. You know what?, this has totally blown my mind!! It was released a few months ago and has been sitting in our catch ups pile. If you have not already got this, my advice to go, buy and enjoy! The band's website is here... 9.5/10 (Dave)

SECRET SIGNS…’UNDER DARK SKIES’

(Self Release) Reviewed 14th January 2016

Secret Signs hail from Spain and yep, you’ve guessed it, they so happen to be a Symphonic/Gothic Metal band. Fronted by the operatic vocals of May Lucas, this is their 2nd full length release, their first ‘For A Lifetime’ appearing in 2012. ’Under Dark Skies’ is standard fare run of the mill keyboard driven Metal and although a good album, having listened to the cd a few times, nothing here really stands out and grabs you. A band that has to do a little bit more to promote themselves into the Premier league. However, having said that, this album is a good listen for fans of this style of music, but I feel more has to be done for them to gain a wider fan base. Unfortunately, I do not own their debut album, so I am unable to make a comparison, but I have been told reliably that the debut may well be a better release with a better production. Anyway, let us not be too critical of music from a scene we so love, but if you want a taste of Secret Signs, it may be an idea to check their debut out first. A band though that shows promise, their Facebook is here…. 7.75/10 (Dave)

SPIELBANN…’IN GEDENKEN’

(Trisol) Reviewed 17th December 2015

Spielbann is a band that is fully committed to singing in their native tongue - German and kudos to them for that! The band is centred around the duo of Seb Storm and his female partner in crime Nic Frost. And add to that the front man of ASP (Alexander Spreng), who contributed to the album and also contributed to the production process. Musically, this is your typical catchy Gothic Rock/Metal that the Germans love so much and do rather well too, with the vocals of both Seb and Nic complimenting each other well, and no growls either! Also add subtle electro elements and that more or less puts the icing on the cake. Some corkers here like the tracks ‘In Alle Ewigkeit’, the rather nice ballad ‘Aquarell’, the metallic ‘Haus des Vergessens’ with its catchy chorus, another rather awesome ballad ‘Lebewohl’ and the atmospheric and rather haunting ‘HeimSuchung‘. This record overall certainly hit’s the good category and as a consequence is well worth getting hold of…. 8.75/10 (Dave)

THE GRIM…'SANCTIFIED’

(Dead End Exit) Reviewed 28th November 2015

Welcome to the realms of Cinematic Metal or as the band describe on their Facebook page, Symphonic/Industrial Metal. It is interesting that over the years, Heavy Metal is simply now not just Heavy Metal. There is Melodic Metal, Symphonic Metal, Gothic Metal, Dark Metal, Black Metal, Stoner Metal and so on. Okay, some of those sub genres have been around for a while, but every day, a new sub genre seems to be springing up, no matter what style of music we are talking about, whether its Pop, Rock or Metal. Anyway, The Grim is a Swedish outfit and consist basically of vocalist and mastermind Carl Lofvenhamn and female vocalist, the lovely diva Maria Storck. And as a consequence, we have an album that could quite easily be a sound track to a massive sci-fi movie. Great orchestration, great vocals and great tunes, all put together into this awesome little package. Indeed, if you put Industrial, Classical, Symphonic, Gothic, Rock and Metal (among others) into a melting pot, add heaps of atmosphere and melody, the result would be this amazing record! Certainly an interesting and haunting listening experience and well worth checking out. Facebook is here - unique and epic!.. 9/10 (Dave)

THE CORRS…’WHITE LIGHT’

(East West Records) Reviewed 27th November 2015

The Corrs…well what can I say? Formed in 1990 and it had all become a little quiet just recently within The Corrs camp until now. Indeed ‘White Light’ is their first studio album in a decade, after ‘Home’ (2005), their first of original material since 2004, and marks their much welcome return to the music scene. And they are still musically stunning as they give us an album full of great Pop/Rock! Andrea remains on top form vocally and the girls (and lets not forget that lucky guy Jim as well) all seem like a good wine - they get better with age. There is some fine awesome music here with many stand out cuts, ‘Kiss Of Life’ being just one track that kinda hit me with the word ‘magical’, from a tsunami of awesome music on this album. As many of you will have gathered, this is not a Metal album but who cares, I love this band, always have done and it is nothing to do with the pretty girl factor, just damn fine inoffensive Pop/Rock music!! Released today so get it!… 9/10 (Dave)

SCARLETH…’THE SILVER LINING’

(The Leaders Records) Reviewed 27th November 2015

Scarleth come from Ukraine and on this album, they are fronted by two young ladies: Irina Makukha – vocals and Oksana Element – extreme vocals. However, I am a little unsure as to whether Irina Makukha is still in the band, as she is not listed within their current line up according to their website and indeed their Facebook page as well. Anyway, no matter who is in or not in the band, ‘The Silver Lining’, the band’s second album offers the listener 9 tracks of pure in yer face Melodic Metal. It all kicks off in manic fashion with the track ‘Night Of Lies’, this number laying the foundation for what is to come. And if they are Oksana’s growls, well she can growl like the best of them! But for those of you out there that are not fans of growls, then they are not overly done on this release. The momentum continues with second track ‘Double Memory’, another up tempo blast of Melodic Metal, while ‘The Gates of Dark Sun’ drops the tempo a little, but is a massive epic song nonetheless, with a kinda Middle Eastern feel! ‘Voices’ with its melodic chorus blasts out of the speakers, while the awesome ‘Dying Alone’ is the album’s power ballad. ‘One Short Life’ will have you dancing around the camp fire, with the closing trio of ‘Before The Night Falls’, ‘Pure Desire’ and ‘Last Hope’ failing to disappoint, so overall, a very good album from this Ukrainian band…. 8.5/10 (Dave)

TRACKTOR BOWLING…’Бесконечность'

(Moroz Records) Reviewed 15th November 2015

Tracktor Bowling is a Russian alternative metal band, formed in Moscow in 1996. The band is fronted by Lousine Gevorkian (who also fronts the Russian band Louna) and from what I understand from my contacts, they are one of the most popular metal bands in Russia. 'Бесконечность' is their fifth album and please do not ask for any translations LOL, but what I can say is that this band rocks and Lousine can sure belt out an awesome tune with those power house vocals of hers. There are 12 tracks on this record sung in the band's native tongue, and as my knowledge of the Russian language is literally non existent, I am unable to give any translation. But this is Alternative Rock/Metal of the highest calibre with a strong melodic sensibility. My advice - buy?... 9/10 (The Nugget)

SACRED GROOVE…’THE OTHER SIDE’

(Self Release) Reviewed November 3rd 2015

SACRED GROOVE from Germany stands for energetic and ear catching songs with a fat groove. The musical style is based anywhere between heavy rock and melodic metal, while lead singer Alona’s exceptionally vibrant voice guarantees uniqueness. SACRED GROOVE´s trademarks are bombastic guitar riffs, a grooving rhythm & bass section, symphonic key and piano-parts, emotional vocals and of course lots of melody. The band's words actually and this is not too far from the truth, with the album offering up some great catchy numbers. A consistent release, which as a result due to its consistency fails to throw up any real highlights as all the tracks are good! The band’s website is at www.sacred-groove.com - find out for yourselves, but this band is good. Just one more thing on a tragic note - the album is dedicated to bandmate Juppi Pullen' who lost his life in a tragic road accident on his way home from band rehearsals in July 2014. The keyboard tracks on this album he had already recorded. RIP our friend!! 8.75/10 (Dave)

THE SHIRES...'BRAVE'

(Decca Records) Reviewed 26th October 2015

The groundswell of interest in Country music in the UK is now officially unstopable. But one of the acts helping to make country cooler than ever on this side of the Atlantic aren’t from Tennessee or Texas, they’re from Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire in southern England. And the duo of Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes have swiftly become one of the real buzz bands of 2014. This album is their debut and this album so happens to be rather good. Alright, we will get one thing straight here, this certainly is not metal, so if metal is your forte, you may not even be reading this anyway, but we here are very open minded to the music we listen too. I am reviewing the deluxe edition featuring 15 outstanding tracks of easy listening Pop/Country Music, and everything here clicks all the right buttons. From the opening number, the bouncy 'Tonight', through the country feel of 'Nashville Grey Skies', the lovely ballad and title track 'Brave', the catchy 'All Over Again', the beautiful single 'State Lines' and the lively 'Drink You Away' (Deluxe edition). The Shires have literally found a piece of country to call their own. They love American music, but they’re proudly British and intensely keen to add some real indigenous flavour to the pot. The song ‘Made In England’ is a perfect example, a real celebration of all things British. My Dad who is not the worlds best authority on anything music (apart from Elvis or Roy Orbison) has just said to me; "do Decca Records still exist then?". Obviously they do...this is a brilliant record and is well recommended from a very talented duo! 8.75/10 (Katie McIntyre)

SEPTEMBER MOURNING…’VOLUME 1 – EP’

(Self Released) Reviewed 22nd October 2015

September is a female vigilante grim reaper, and a trouble-maker in the eyes of the Reaper-ruler, Fate. She does what she thinks will "make things right" but in doing so, she often screws up the fabric of space-time. September is unique because she is part human, part reaper. So she has the ability to fight against the orders of Fate, swap souls, and other rogue reaper behaviour. For this reason, she is hunted by Fate. The Skullfly – like a moth with skulls on its wings - appears as a tattoo on September’s neck that comes to life to collect the souls. And now, she's coming for yours...So a word of advice, buy this EP because it is awesome and I will say that as September is knocking on my frikin’ door. Six tracks of awesome music on this EP, not a filler, it rocks, kinda imagine In This Moment crossed with Evanescence on speed! Got it? Good… website here…well worth it and rather sexy too! 9/10 (The Nugget)

SYMPHONIC DESTINY…’THE FOUNTAIN OF ETERNAL LIFE’

(SD Records) Reviewed 18th October 2015

Symphonic Destiny come from Temerin in Serbia! What a band!! Fronted by Timea Santa, this band has released one helluva debut full length album here. There are 12 tracks on my version of Melodic Symphonic Metal to feast your ears upon, and I have to be honest and ask myself if I will hear a better debut album in this style of music this year. This is a massive record running in at well over the hour, and not a duff track to be found. This band on this record has all the ingredients to make the big time. Kicking off with the appropriately titled ‘The Beginning Of An Adventure’, that is sure what we have got here. There are Symphonic belters like ‘Light In The Darkness’, ‘The Magical Sphere’, the atmospheric ‘Voice Of Temptation’, the belter ’Witch’s Cottage’ and after all that, there is the awesome pen ultimate 15+ minute title track that is the cream that tops this little lot off. And let us not forget the ballads, ‘Garden Of Eden’ and the beautifully crafted ‘Well Of Souls’. Everything here hit’s the spot! A massively beautiful debut that has surely propelled the band into the Premier League at the first attempt. The band’s website is here.. 9.75/10 (Dave)

THE FALL OF EVE…’ETERNAL EMBRACE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th October 2015

What an awesome album we have here from this Scottish Band. We have pounding Symphonic Metal fronted by Laura Tracey (also known as Evangeline), music that is similar to the greats such as Within Temptation, Nightwish, Epica, Lacuna Coil and the like. And it all becomes immediately apparent how good this band is from the start, with the melodic and pounding ‘Under My Skin’ that kicks thinks off in a near perfect manner. And after that awesome start, ‘Abandon’ keeps you glued to the music player, this being one record you will not abandon, I can assure you, while ‘The Devil Never Sleeps’ is a Symphonic Metal masterpiece. In all honesty, there is nothing here to fault with further blistering numbers like ‘Our Salvation’ and the amazing ‘Destiny’. And of course let us not forget the ballad ‘Forgotten’. This record from this Scottish band is straight out of the Premier League. Frikin’ awesome, and for a debut full length, amazing! Check out their Facebook pages here… 9/10 (Dave)

SELENE…’THE FORGOTTEN’

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd October 2015

Here we have a very talented band from Northern Ireland, a small country that with the utmost respect, does not really have a place on the Symphonic Metal map. However Selene aim to change that scenario, as they are about to burst onto the Symphonic Metal scene with this 11 track opus. Fronted by the cool vocals of leading lady Shonagh Lyons, the band has already released two EPs, ‘Paradise Over’ and ‘Among The Frozen‘. Indeed three tracks from the latter feature on this debut full length, which to be perfectly honest is totally awesome from beginning to end. Highlights are in abundance, we have the catchy and melodic ’Neverending Silence’ (lyric video here) , the bombastic ’Fade Away’ (featured on the ’Among The Frozen’ EP), the ballad ’Sweetest Dreams’ and the epic 9+ minute closing epic track ’Piano Black’, to name just four, with the closing number showcasing very well the direction this band is taking. Overall, the album offers a bombastic and melodic sound, being well worth the purchase price when released on November 19th. The band’s FaceBook is here… 9/10 (Dave)

THE INFERNO DOLL...'DOLLMINATION'

(Self Release) Reviewed 30th September 2015

Yay, yay and triple yay! The former Sacramento singer Laura Vargas gives us a real musical treat here. This is The Inferno Doll, ten tracks of totally bombastic modern melodic metal to blow your mind totally. No soppy ballads on this record as Laura Inferno as she is now called, pummels her way through tracks like the opening cut 'Crushing Me', the absolutely marvellous and tuneful 'Conciencia' (ft. Paula Barouh from the band Barouh - Chile) the powerful and pounding groove of one of my faves, 'Nemesis Within' (ft.Roland B. Marx from the band The Outside - Germany), 'Asylum' (ft. Claudio Carrasco from the band Poema Arcanus - Chile), the pulsating 'The Dream' and the totally melodic and thumping closing number 'Carmilla', a live fave I am sure this number will be! Indeed, despite giving a mention to the above tracks, everything on this album is so awesome and as a consequence, it is without a doubt a no filler all killer album, being heavy, melodic and it is a record to play loud and play again and again and again. I have to say it, on this showing, Laura can create an inferno and dollminate me anytime - the website is here - my advice is buy!...9.5/10 (Dave)

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