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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS S-T

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STEFANIE…S/T

(Escape Music UK) Reviewed 10th March 2017

Stefanie was born and raised in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, once home to some of the country's largest steel manufacturing and the subject of Billy Joel's 1982 hit 'Allentown'. The towering Steel Stacks have become the backdrop for a flourishing music scene, the home of Musikfest, and the beginning of Stefanie's songwriting journey. In 2015, she began to recording this, her debut album. And on this record, she captivates fans of all ages with her love torn lyrics and catchy hooks. Some great cuts here including the catchy numbers ‘Master Of Disguise’ , ‘Stranger’ and ‘One Life’, the anthemic ‘Word Man’ and the ballady closing duo of ‘The Song I Was Meant To Write’ and the gospel sounding ‘We Will Fight’. This overall is a good Pop/Rock record and is yet another album to add to the ever growing shopping list…8.5/10 (Dave)

TALVIENKELI…’HYBRIS’

(WormholeDeath) Reviewed 10th March 2017

Talvienkeli is a Metal band from Lyon in France and this record is their debut offering, being released by WormholeDeath Records. The band is a five piece fronted by the awesome operatic vocals of Camille Borrelly and they ply their trade by way of Symphonic/Progressive Metal. This being well showcased in the opening number, the awesomely titled ‘Hybris Part II: Degenerescence’, coupled with number two track ‘Burning Flesh’. The Symphonic/Progressive theme continues throughout this awesome album, although there are slower numbers like ‘Raining Moon’, coupled with epic tracks like the 9 minute plus ‘Quill Of Dust’ and the closing 8 minute plus number ‘Hybris Part I: Bienveillance’. ‘Atlas’ meanwhile, is a bouncy track with a catchy chorus. Each member of the band has their own faves: Nightwish, Epica, Behemoth, Porcupine Tree, Scorpions and Five Finger Death Punch among others, and this shines through within the cuts on the album. The record which shares original songs filled with orchestrations, rythmical technicity and troubled stories told in the language of Shakespeare by a classical/rock voice, will be released on April 14th in Europe, on June 9th in the U.S.A with a release date to be announced for Japan. Well worth checking out…. 8.5/10 (Dave)

SinHeresy...'DOMINO'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 21st February 2017

SinHeresY is a Symphonic Metal band conceived in 2009 in Trieste (Italy) from an idea of the bass player Davide Sportiello and the guitar player Lorenzo Pasutto. In the following months the vocalist Cecilia Petrini, the drummer Alex Vescovi and the male vocalist Stefano Sain joined the band. With this line-up, SinHeresY started in 2010 their live activity in Italy and Slovenia, and released a home-made demo containing two original songs with power metal influences. Fast forward to 2017 and the band are about to throw at the listener their 2nd album. Their first, 'Paint The World' was a goody full of musical gems and 'Domino' follows in the same path - awesome up tempo Symphonic Metal strongly driven by the keyboards presence. There are highlights galore from this Italian band on this record and I like very much what I hear, including the slower ballady 'The Island of Salt and Grass' and the atmospheric closer '...Another Life'. This is a very good album and is well recommended when it gets released on 7th April - complex at times and elegantly simple at others, 'Domino' is a strong well executed and evolutionary step that blends new elements with old, enhancing rather than changing the band's traditional sound... 9/10 (Dave)

THE LUST...'BLACK DAHLIA POEM'

(Self Released) Reviewed 14th February 2017

The Lust gives the listener an emotional and very creative Metal/Rock experience with a sensual voice from leading lady Anna Dust. This Russian band has released an interesting record here, an eleven track belter of the aforementioned Rock & Metal with subtle AOR and Gothic influences. We have the rockier numbers like 'Haunting' and 'Quest Of A Sign', the melodic and AOR sounding 'You Got Me', the bouncy 'My Pieces' and the excellent and equally as catchy 'In Death Embrace'. I would suggest checking this album out, it is melodic, inoffensive and very listenable. The Lust's Facebook can be found here... 8.75/10 (Dave)

SPIRITALE...'LIFE FOR A DREAM'

(Self Release) Reviewed 11th Feb 2017

Another band from Russia that ply their trade by way of Catchy Melodic Rock/Metal, with the prominent use of the flute. Sung in English (apart from the closing number) by their leading lady Camilla Dyachenko, this is a nice little effort. I know little about the band, but if you like your music inoffensive and catchy, then this little offering is worth checking out if you can get a hold of it. A rather short review due to lack of relevant info, but worthy of a mention on this website... 8.5/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)

THE MURDER OF MY SWEET...'ECHOES OF THE AFTERMATH'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 9th Feb 2017

The Murder of My Sweet was founded in Stockholm in 2006 by drummer and producer Daniel Flores. Fronted by the lush vocals of Angelica Rylin, this is their 4th album and offers another dose of rather awesome Symphonic Cinematic Metal and like their previous releases, this ticks all the right boxes. Some bouncy bombastic cuts on the album such as the opening salvo of 'Sleeping Giant' and 'Personal Hell'. Further standout tracks include the very catchy title track, the awesome, upbeat and commercial sounding 'Shining After Dark', the bouncy 'In Risk Of Rain', the ballad 'Inside, Outside' and the closing cut 'Racing Heart'. This album is already in the shops, and for anybody into this style of music, this is yet another must buy!..... 9.25/10 (Dave)

THE FALL OF EVE...'IF ANGELS FALL VOL 1' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 17th January 2017

The Fall Of Eve come from Scotland and this is another UK band destined for big things from our small island. This EP fires at the listener 5 tracks of prime time Symphonic Metal which in turn is propelling this band into the Premier League of this style of music. These are five melodic symphonic belters and I can find little to fault here, but I do have a fave, and that is the number 'My Heart Holds The Light', an awesome atmospheric power ballad that closes this EP. Have a look at their Facebook page here - this record is well recommended, damn awesome in-fact... 9.5/10 (Dave)

SPIRITALE...'LIFE FOR A DREAM'

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th January 2017

Spiritale fronted by Camilla Dyachenko, is a Melo/Sympho Metal band who hail from the Russian Federation. There are eight cuts on this release (the last track is sung in Russian) that offer catchiness and melody all wrapped up in this cosy little package. To be honest, it is rather good and despite the fact I know little about Spiritale, this little album is sure worth trying to get one's grubby little mits on. I thank Rachel for sending this one my way. Recommended if you can get it, I like it!... 8.5/10 (Dave)

SOLARUS...'REUNION'

(Self Release) Reviwed 13th January 2017

What started as lowly guitar player from London Ontario on wanting to immortalise his songs, and an unknown drummer gravitating towards his music quickly turned into an unforgettable experience of musical chemistry and ambition. Drawing heavily from the Symphonic elements of European Metal and influences from the Popular genres of North America, Solarus' vision is to bridge the gap between music lovers of multiple genres. Based in London (Ontario) and fronted by the Pop/Rock vocal style of Sarah Dee, this recording is an awesome slab of Symphonic/Melodic Metal to wrap your ears around. Kicking off with 'One Final Moment' this track alone sets the scene for what is to follow, 8 further cuts of bombastic Melodic Metal that will blow your mind, and confirm that Canada is becoming a power force within this sub genre of Metal. We also have the customary ballad, the awesome string orientated power ballad 'Surrender The Universe' - totally mind blowing! In-fact the whole album is mind blowing from track 1 to track 9 and I can safely say not a duff track in sight! Get this, you will not be disappointed, facebook is here... 9.25/10 (Dave)

THE DARK SIDE OF VENUS…’POWER TO VICTIMS’

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th December 2016

The Dark Side of Venus is a rock/alternative project founded by pianist composer Licia Missori - that is to say, by her dark side - in 2010. At the time, she felt the need to express a part of herself that had always been in the dark. That’s how she chose the name of the project, referring to the hidden side of a planet whose name is anciently associated with beauty, love and femininity. Until 2014, the voice of the band was Ida Elena (now singer of Bare Infinity). In 2015 she was replaced by Francesca Elayne Naccarelli, known as singer of Symphonic Metal band Dunwich. The rest of the band is composed of Alessandro Lopane (guitars), Yuri Colafigli (bass) and Daniele Saulle (drums). The album concept deals with a consciousness raising process: it is possible to turn frustrating power relations upside down, both in the individual’s psychic world and in the world of society. The main idea underlying this concept is that what happens “outside” - also in a political sense - is a reflection of what happens inside our mind. No wonder the album starts with 'Distance', a one and a half minute overture beginning with a painful conversation with internalized parental figures (“Mother, forgive me”, “Father, believe me”...) and ending with a quote by Pier Paolo Pasolini about “State massacres” (“I know the names”...). This is a quirky 16 track album offering a huge variety of influences: ‘90s alternative rock, ‘80s synth pop music, not to mention the classical music influences within the composing abilities of the awesome Licia Missori, and some good stuff there is too. Tracks that hit the spot with me include the organic sounding ‘I Don’t Give A Damn’, the awesome and rather bouncy ‘Sadistic Pervert’, the gentle ballad ‘Heal Me’, the damn catchy tracks ‘He Walks Around’ and ‘I Adore Your Blood’ (I always knew I had Vampire tendencies) and the adorable ‘Oh Claire’. This record is damn good, sexy with it (if I may say so) and I love it! Facebook is here... 9/10 (Dave)

STONELIGHT…’INTO THE UNKNOWN’

(Self Release) Reviewed 13th December 2016

Stonelight is a Romanian Melodic Heavy Metal band fronted by Vanda Restye. They offer within their menu of half decent melodic tunes, subtle Progressive influences, more so in the opening track proper, ‘Sound of the Unknown’ and closer ‘Universe’. Sandwiched in between, there are highlights but apart from the catchy 'In My Dream', nothing really jumps out and grabs me that in turn, makes me want to hit the repeat button and play the album again. Let us not however, take anything away from Stonelight, they are an independent band and presumably self-funded this release, so kudos to them. The band’s Facebook is here… 7.75/10 (The Nugget)

THE WORLD OVER...'MOUNTAINS' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 12th December 2016

The World Over is a Rock Band from LA led by Tiaday Ball, granddaughter of Ernie Ball (world renowned creator of Music Man guitars and Slinky Strings). With post-hardcore roots from their first record, 'Rampart District', T.W.O. recorded a new album with Siegfried Meier (Kitty, DMX) that will break the boundaries of the Rock world, reaching a much broader spectrum of listeners. This EP is basically a 5 track offering of Alternative Rock with smatterings of Hard Core. The Hard Core puts me off just a tad but overall, not a bad offering. 'MOUNTAINS' is out now via all music streaming services (iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play, etc). The band's website is here, check it out!... 8/10 (The Nugget)

SAIDETH...S/T EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th November 2016

This is the second EP from Mexican band SAIDETH, and like their first EP ('Dream: Reaching The Ashes of a Burnt Distant Star') that was reviewed here January 2015, this is rather good. Again combining a mix of Electrocore/Industrial/Synthpop/Electropop with a very strong melodic sensibility, the five tracks here tick all the right boxes.'Numb' is a melodic belter, a guitar, synth driven track, this one being a fave from an EP full of good ones, while closer 'Crocodile Tears' is a strong sounding power ballad with progressive influences. The band now fronted by Luvia Ovando with Said Camarillo providing male vocals (also guitar), I recommend this release. The EP can be purchased here...9/10 (Dave)

SEDE VACANTE...'SKIES INFERNAL'

(Pride & Joy Music) Reviewed 22nd November 2016

Sede Vacante is a Greek Gothic Rock/Metal duet with Michael Tiko on guitars & clean male vocals and Constantine Alex taking on female vocal duties. And this is a corker of an album to be perfectly honest with the vocalists alternating on various tracks. The opener is a brief instrumental that leads into first track proper 'Hate Eternal'. This number being a hideously melodic track with a catchy chorus that would also please many an AOR fan too I am sure. The tempo continues with 'Against My Tear' that is equally as catchy as the previous number, featuring just the vocals of Michael. ‘Dark Refrain’ and ‘Shepherd and Lamb’ (no, not the name of my local pub!) are heavier tracks although still very melodic, the latter again featuring Michael on vocal duties. ‘Cruelty In Disguise’ is a heavy guitar driven number, while ‘Faithless Art’ is a piano/synth driven power ballad, with next up ‘Lips Yet Denied’ maintaining the ballady feel. The closing duo of ‘The Other Side’ and ‘A Thousand Shades Of Moon’ end this rather awesome album. This is a good well produced and a very catchy album that not only should appeal to the Gothic Metal fan out there, but should hit the spot with the AOR/Melodic Rock fraternity as well. The band’s facebook is here… 9/10 (Dave)

SLANIA...'PROOF OF EXISTENCE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th November 2016

Slania with Florencia Sategna at the mic stand, coupled with occasional growls from bassist Walter González, come from Buenos Aires in Argentina, and so happen to be another Symphonic Metal band to grace our ears. They was formed in 2010 and after many line-up changes, this is their first album. Onto the record itself, 'Between Birth and Death' is a short instrumental that takes us into the first number proper 'Losing Everything'. This opening track was a kinda "oh dear, I am not sure about this" (not sure why) and that was at the start of the listening experience, although it does grow on you. Thankfully, the rest of the album does show occasional signs of excellence, with tracks like the catchy up beat ‘Self Sabotage’, the brooding ‘Silence’, the symphonic ‘Bleeding Diamonds’, the ballad ‘Wake Up The World’ and the closing melodic symphonic sounding 'All Over Again'. Despite my initial reservations, this is a grower and is an album worth having a little listen to. The band’s facebook is at www.facebook.com/Slaniametal.. 8/10 (The Nugget)

SCORCHING WINTER…’VICTIM’

(Self Release) Reviewed 4th November 2016

Fronted by the powerful vocals of Tina Papadimitriou, Scorching Winter (formed in 2012) is a hard rock band based down under in Melbourne, Australia. In contrast to other female-fronted rock bands, the band has a stronger emphasis on instrumentation and composition. They like catchy guitar riffs with unexpected style changes. The band delves into a unique dark artistry, inspired to take listeners on a musically satisfying, metal-edged journey, as is well showcased on this rather good album. Indeed, ‘Victim’ is an 8-track concept album driven by technical instrumentation, soaring vocals and dark themes. The story is about a girl who is raped and beaten by a group of men, and saved by a demon who offers her powers to seek revenge. The only way she can obtain those powers however, is in exchange for her soul. The band shows Progressive and Symphonic Metal subtleties here, but maintains a strong melodic undercurrent. Every track on this album to my ears is a sure fire winner, with the melodic ‘Hiding In The Shadows’ one of my faves, encompassing a nice bouncy tempo change mid-way. Closer, the rockin’ 8 minute plus ‘My Gift, My Curse’ another good un. Check the album out here, but this is well recommended by us here…8.75/10 (Dave)

TREES OF ETERNITY…’HOUR OF THE NIGHTINGALE’

(Svart Records) Reviewed 31st October 2016

Trees of Eternity was a collaboration between Finnish guitarist Juha Raivio (Swallow the Sun) and once Sweden based, South Africa born singer, the late Aleah Starbridge. The project can be described as down-tempo doom metal, with inspired melancholia and haunting female vocals. However, earlier in the year, Aleah was unfortunately taken from us to sing with the angels, may she rest in peace. This album featuring Aleah has been released in her memory. Now, it is very easy to give a good review on the strength of someone in the band being cruelly taken from us, and therefore receives a sympathetic and as a consequence good review, but I will say once and for all that this album is damn beautiful and damn good! Not a filler in sight and Aleah’s vocals are so alluring and angelic. Musically Draconian springs to mind as a comparison, but whoever or whatever springs to mind, this is an awesome long player. There is a tsunami of awesome tracks on this record - the awesome ‘Condemned To Silence’ features Mick Moss of Antimatter, ‘Broken Mirror’ is so magical and the closing 9+ minute haunting epic ‘Gallows Bird’ features Nick Holmes from the UK’s very own Paradise Lost. Put on your headphones, dim down the lights and play this album loud as thunder. Feel and breathe in Aleah's voice and the words and share with your friends near and far. This is the biz, pulling at my heart strings and lyrically nearly reducing me to tears! These songs had emotion and beauty before Aleah passed away, they now take on a completely new meaning!! Gets released 11th November….9.5/10 (Dave)

SIRENIA…’DIM DAYS OF DOLOR’

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 27th October 2016

Mastermind Morten Veland has just one thing in mind for Sirenia in 2016, pure and utter melancholy. Almost two years after 'The Seventh Life Path' the Norwegian is ready to unleash his latest and most diverse dark vision of Gothic and Symphonic Metal that shuns the light and stays enshrouded in the ‘Veil of winter‘. This newie also marks the first Sirenia release featuring Emmanuelle Zoldan on lead vocals – a trained opera singer who has been with Sirenia as a choir singer for over a decade! As with most of Sirenia's recent releases, the album maintains a kind of commercial mainly Pop/Metal appeal, this may go down well with recent fans of the band, but I am sure fans of the band’s earlier material will still go "oh dear". However, none of this bothers me as this album is good! There are eleven tracks of prime time Melodic Gothic Metal complete with catchy melodies, super vocals and that occasional awesome male choir, closing with the awesome piano led ballad 'Aeon's Embrace'. I sometimes wonder why I bother doing reviews of these well known bands as most readers will buy the album regardless. I also have a feeling that reviewers reviewing this album will either say it is “crap” or it is “rather good”. My thoughts fall into the latter category. Some will say it has all been done before on previous Sirenia albums but who cares – it is bouncy, catchy and makes me feel good after my recent personal trials and tribulations!... 9/10 (Dave)

THE LEGION OF HETHERIA...'AWAKENING'

(JRJR Records / Hellion Records) Reviewed 18th October 2016

This is a strange one. This is Mexican band The Legion of Hetheria's third album, but it only runs in at a little over 28 minutes. So I am not sure whether this is a full length album or just an EP. Anyway, let’s make the most of what we have got. Featuring the female vocals of Katia Barrera together with male grunts from Rick Loera, this continues the good work of their previous works encompassing 7 tracks of catchy Melodic Metal with a Symphonic edge, that should not disappoint. The tracks bounce along at fair tempo offering an enjoyable listening experience despite the ‘shortness’ of the recording. My faves on this record include the melodic ‘Reaching Out’ with its catchy chorus and the pulsating ‘Face The Light’. This album is short but sweet…8.25/10 (Hannah Cooper)

SYNERGY PROTOCOL…’ODD TO GET EVEN’

(Self Release) Reviewed 11th October 2016

Yes, my dear readers, we are talking about yet another Dutch female fronted metal band. But… this time we are talking about a truly Progressive Metal band with an 80’ies twist. Unlike so many other female fronted bands these days, Synergy Protocol first and foremost affiliates with bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X, Queensrÿche, Opeth and Ayreon. During the first 18 months of their existence the vocals were taken care of by Laura Guldemond. After her sudden departure the band is currently getting back to speed with their new and amazingly talented new vocalist, a Mediterranean lass going by the name of Laura Martínez! 8 tracks on this album all fitting awesomely into the Progressive Metal category coupled with enchanting melodies that remain essential once heard. This is what I call thinking person’s music and damn cool it is too, with the 80’ies twist coming from early influences like Iron Maiden, Queen, Toto, Metallica and Rush. The opening and closing tracks run in at over 10 minutes, the music however is never boring, but certainly captivating. The band’s website is here… this long player is well worth checking out….8.5/10 (Dave)

SERPENTYNE...'THE SERPENTS KISS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 10th October 2016

The number of awesome bands that come my way that have up until now escaped my radar always amazes me. The latest band to join those ranks is London based Serpentyne. The band was created in London in 2010 by founder members Maggie-Beth Sand and Mark Powell, being inspired by a combination of early music, folk, Celtic, world and rock. They recorded their first album, 'Stella Splendens' that year, basing it on traditional mediaeval texts and tunes from England, Spain and France, arranged in their own style and blending instruments such as cittole, hurdy-gurdy, harmonium, portative organ, medieval drums, crumhorns, recorders, and of course Maggie's voice. Serpentyne released their second album, 'Myths & Muses' which is based on mediaeval, traditional and mythic themes, this album has a stronger rock element. 'The Serpents Kiss' is their third album which follows the same mythic & medieval themes, but heading into a heavier rock sound. Mediaeval instruments remain at the forefront but with a more symphonic sound coupled with heavier guitars. It all works rather well, this being showcased in the opening salvo, 'Spirits of the Desert' and 'The Dark Queen'. 'Helen of Troy' is a melodic belter, whilst I just love pipes, with ‘Jeanne D’Arc’ featuring said pipes, this track bouncing along rather nicely – one of my faves from the record in-fact. The pipes appear again on the awesome ‘Lammas Night’ together with the didgeridoo would you believe, another catchy up lifting track, surely it is about time for me to go out and light that camp fire :). The mid-tempo title track has a kinda Middle Eastern vibe which is of no surprise, as the number is inspired by the story of Anthony and Cleopatra. The remaining five tracks maintain the bouncy up tempo folky feel with a couple of instrumentals thrown into the pot for good measure. I am however, interested in the number ‘Viking Blood’ as it does sound familiar to me. This album is awesome stuff and well worth a punt of anyone’s well earnt dosh! The band’s facebook is here - a great effort!… 8.75/10 (Dave)

SCARLET AURA…’FALLING SKY’

(Pure Rock Records) Reviewed 19th September 2016

SCARLET AURA is one of the hottest favourites for the throne of Melodic Metal! In 2014 they won the Metal challenge "The Black Sea Battle of the Bands" in Kavarna Rock Fest and went on stage with PRETTY MAIDS, SABATON, GOTTHARD, HELLOWEEN, ACCEPT, MANOWAR and many more huge artists. Meanwhile they reached headliner status on festivals in Eastern Europe. Now SCARLET AURA with their fantastic female vocalist Aura Danciulescu, will go on tour with Tarja Turunen and present this, their new album to the whole world. Songs like the singles, the opening number ‘Immortal In Your Eyes’ and the awesome ‘My Own Nightmare’ cry for a big audience and need to be played on Radio and TV. Other cuts that made an impression are ‘You’re Not Alone’ with its catchy chorus, the bouncy ‘Fortune Teller’ and the rocking ‘Ride Like The Wind’. Made in the best studios and produced by the living legend Roy Z, you can expect the sound to be over the top – release due 7th October. Well recommended… 9/10 (Dave)

THEATRES DES VAMPIRES…’CANDYLAND’

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 29th August 2016

This Theatres Des Vampires new album, is set to be released on October 14th. The album has been inspired by a room of the infamous Pennhurst asylum in Pennsylvania, a room which was different from all the others, with coloured walls and bars on the windows, described as hell on earth by the patients of the facility, where adults and children with severe mental problems have been hidden from the public eye for decades. ‘Candyland’ was the name of that room. There are eleven mid to up tempo tracks running at just under 40 minutes, an all killer no filler album infused with melody and melancholic atmospheres that we have come to expect from this awesome band. And lets us not forget the distinguishable vocal style of Sonya Scarlet that is one of the main facets of the band, together with their mix of Gothic and electro influences that surface within the music. And with a guest appearance too from FERNANDO RIBEIRO (MOONSPELL) on the track 'Seventh Room'. This is another good album from this awesome Italian outfit and another record to be added to that all important “wants list”… 8.75/10 (Dave)

THE KREOLES…’PSYCHO’

(Sliptrick Records) Reviewed 25th August 2016

When this album dropped in and I saw the name The Kreoles, I did wonder whether they was some kind of soul or rap band for some reason. Anyway, the idea behind Italian band The Kreoles took form throughout 2011: the purpose is giving life to a new musical path, in order to cause an almost-new style. The word Kreoles means new creation indeed. What marks out this band first is the female voice of Valentina Merlo, a young singer who is able to combine sweetness with creative energy through decisive cadences and modulations, everything in the belly of songs rooted in the rock/metal genre, which is the trademark of this four-piece Italian band. This being their second release is full of riff laden tunes and some absolute belters too, which to be frank (for some unknown reason) has taken me by surprise. There is some rather cool and tuneful rock & metal here together with a track that did take me by surprise too. When the track “Dolomites” came up on my iPod, what an awesome and catchy ditty of a tune it is, in complete contrast to the album as a whole, it reminded me of one of those Spotify ads that turn up in complete contrast to the music you may be listening too at the time LOL – magical! This is a very good record, consistent throughout and worthy of one’s attention when released 20th September! Many faves on this release, but apart from the aforementioned “Dolomites” the numbers “Empty” and the catchy “Don’t You Know” sure caught my attention. This album is well worth checking out… 9/10 (Dave)

SAINT JUDAS…’WAR WITHIN’

(Self Release) Reviewed 12th August 2016

Saint Judas is a five piece Metal band from Cyprus that kick started in 2011. Along various member changes and experimentation, the character of the band was formed. The fact that the band members influences cover a wide spectrum of Oriental, Rock and Metal Music, has helped define their own sound. They performed in various Music Festivals around Cyprus and these live appearances have made the band recognized as one of the best live acts on the island, with raw and powerful performances. If you like your metal as metal should be, then this will be right up your alleyway. Indeed ,the band’s sound is a fusion of Classic Metal/Thrash/Stoner and Progressive Rock, and also possessing a retro feel at the same time. Add then the unique & powerful female vocals of Maria Danou, coupled with the analogue Synths, and together you have a diverse amalgam of sounds, grooves and textures. Fave tracks currently are the thumping ‘Warrior’s Tale’ and the number ‘Sledgehammer’ (Peter Gabriel cover together with great guitar solo). This 9 tracker is a grower so live with it, the band’s Facebook is here 8/10 (Dave)

TARJA...'THE SHADOW SELF'

(earMUSIC) Reviewed 4th August 2016

As I have previously mentioned, Tarja (this is also now the name of her band) has well and truly broken away from the shackles of Nightwish, and forging her own path within the grand metropolitan area of female fronted rock and metal. If you are a fan of the lass, this review will be deemed useless, as the CD would have already been purchased or ordered no matter what is said by any reviewer anywhere. Tarja the singer will soon be 39 years young, but it seems she has been around for ages, and I mean that in a nice sort of way. Opener 'Innocence' is absolutely amazing and whoever plays that piano can sure play that piano - awesome! 'Demons In You' is a melodic and heavy belter featuring Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz who provides some rather cool growls. 'No Bitter End' features on the recently released 9 track prelude to this album 'The Brightest Void', although this version is just a little longer. And the awesomeness continues with ’Love To Hate’, a Symphonic Metal masterpiece, the piano together with strings at the forefront of proceedings and one of my faves from the record. Next up is the Muse cover 'Supremacy' which Tarja has made her own, while ‘The Living End’ is a more soothing laid back number. ‘Diva’ opens with the sounds of waves and commences in a rather quirky fashion but there is anger within those lyrics! ‘Eagle Eye’ with Chad Smith on drums also features on the prequel album and I do enjoy its catchy chorus. Following track, the awesome ‘Undertaker’ is nothing to do with the wrestler, but has a film score style intro and is another absolute belter. The closing duo of ‘Calling From The Wild’ and ‘Too Many’ end what is a totally magical album. And regards the latter, there is an un Tarja like surprise! Lyrically, this is possibly her most polished, strongest and darkest album to date, it sure is her heaviest and to be frank, near to perfection as Tarja the band set out their stall for the future.… 9.75/10 (Dave)

SVOVEL...'FADING'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd August 2016

I continue to be astounded by the amount of unsigned and damn awesome bands out there. But when anything comes my way from Scandinavia (in this case Norway), I am even more interested. Svovel is fronted at the mic stand by Karine Jaeger, and they ply their trade by way of Progressive Symphonic Metal, and in this case, rather good it is too. They combine heavy guitars, drums and bass with operatic vocals and Symphonic keyboard. The album kicks off with 'Fading Pt. 1' and although under three minutes, this opener is awesome, Karine's vocals reminding me of Tarja. 'Go Away' is more complex, Karine's vocals are awesome, and there is strong use of orchestration throughout this track. The complex elements continue into the track 'Ignition Point' and although there are progressive elements that come to the fore, the music is quite accessible and rather catchy. 'Lullaby' is a slightly more laid back and quirky tune and I now think I have fallen in love with the vocalist - a bit like Kate Bush on this number. 'Crimson Sky' continues in a similar vein, mid tempo and quirky with quite a lot going on within the confines of this track. Then that takes onto the closing salvo of 'Reflect The Energy' and the awesome epic 'Fading Pt.2', the former possibly one of the heavier and more up tempo cuts on the album - damn catchy too. Svovel's Facebook can be found here and it can be streamed on Spotify. This release is a pleasasnt surprise... 8.75/10 (Dave)

TIME OF THE SINNERS…’ETERNITY’

(Self Release) Reviewed 1st August 2016

Another unknown band comes our way. This time it is Time Of The Sinners who come from Zamosc in Poland. The birth of the band can be dated back to the beginning of September 2013. The initiator was bassist and guitarist Jacek Palak. In October of that year, the band adopted the name Time Of The Sinners, and with other band members being recruited, after a long search they found a singer, Kinga Szewczuk. They play heavy metal, power metal and hard rock with a keen sense of melody. There are eight tracks on this album, all kicking off with a four minute and what is a rather cool instrumental, that then leads us into the up tempo 'It Comes At Night'. Not bad, not bad at all and it continues with mainly up tempo numbers, and I do rather like Kinga’s vocals, with very little sign of a European accent. I do have fave tracks and one fave number that did catch my attention was the catchy and pounding ‘Rise Like A Sun’, while there is the customary power ballad, 'Elusive Dream' together with hammond organ I believe. This release I have rather enjoyed, have a listen for yourself here… 8.5/10 (Dave)

SEPTEMBER MOURNING…’VOLUME II’

(Sumerian Records) Reviewed 30th July 2016

The brainchild of Emily Lazar and acclaimed American comic book artist and publisher Marc Silvestri (X-Men, Witchblade, The Darkness), September Mourning's Volume II picks up where 2015's self-released EP Volume I left off. And like its predecessor, Volume II will be accompanied by the second issue of September Mourning's comic book series. Explains Emily, "Volume II is a continuation of the first step in our journey which began with our self-released EP, Volume I and ‘A Murder of Reapers’, the first issue of our comic book. Volume II follows our hero, September Mourning's tale throughout the second issue of the comic book entitled, ‘The Hand of Fate’. Both forms of media intertwine to create a musical and visual story mosaic for your eyes and ears. Although September's character is fictional, both the emotional landscape of the music and the message behind her lyrics come from a very vulnerable place inside of me. In this album, I intertwined these supernatural characters with my own very real, relatable thoughts and feelings. There are pieces of myself magnified in every dynamic shift and bombastic hook in this album and you feel that when you listen. The world that's created promises you an epic ride." The band itself will tour consistently worldwide throughout 2016 and into 2017 in support of this new album and we can tell you that the album hits the awesome category. The six tracks from the ‘Volume l EP’ feature on this LP albeit in a very slightly different style, to enable them to fit in with the concept of this full length. Emily’s vocals are awesome, every track is a winner, she and her band do not disappoint. And like its predecessor and as previously mentioned, this album will be accompanied by the aforementioned second issue of September Mourning's comic book series on www.topcow.com/. The band also recently unveiled an animated lyric video for the track 'Skin and Bones', the first single from this record. The track features Jinxx of Black Veil Brides on violin and can be seen here. I whole heartedly recommend this 12 track release, even without the comic book to hand, this is a damn fine album…. 9.75/10 (Dave)

TEMPERANCE…’THE EARTH EMBRACES US ALL’

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 25th July 2016

Melodic metallers Temperance is going to release their new album on September 16th, confirming that the band will be well and truly established within the Premier League of Female Fronted Melodic Metal, and they have only been at it for three years! This being their third release is more complex, more mature, with one track, the interestingly titled 'Advice From a Caterpillar' exceeding 8 minutes and the closing number 'The Restless Ride' running in at nearly 13 minutes! To be perfectly honest, I love this band and this album sure is the biz. The opener ‘A Thousand Places’ is a 6 minute plus masterpiece showcasing the direction the band is travelling on this album – a complex and mature track with strong Symphonic influences and a catchy chorus. Chiara’s vocals are awesome, and Marco adds the male vocals to compliment those of the young lady. ‘At The Edge Of Space’ has a kinda Nightwish feel and pounds along rather nicely with another awesome chorus and easing out slowly with just a piano. ‘Unspoken Words’ is a great melodic number with a Folky feel, Marco and Chiara sharing vocal duties with Marco kicking things off. ‘Empty Lines’ flirts with Power Metal territory, an awesome up tempo number with yet another damn catchy chorus! ‘Maschere’ has electro influences and is the shortest track on the album being sung I assume in the band’s native tongue, this number being another massive offering from what is turning out to be a superb record. ‘Haze’ is another melodic thumper, with Marco’s vocals again kicking things off on ‘Fragments Of Life’, and the pace is relentless as ‘Revolution’ comes hammering out of the speakers. The aforementioned ‘Advice From A Caterpillar’ is next up, and is a great metal track with a bit of Jazz and a sexy sax thrown in for good measure – cool! ‘Change The Rhyme’ slows it down a bit with some acoustic guitar thrown into the mix, this track offering mainstream crossover appeal and just maintains the awesomeness of this cd. The epic closer ‘The Restless Ride’ is the topping on the cake, it is a mini album in itself within an album! Back on 1st May 2014, when my Rachel reviewed the band’s self titled debut, she closed the review stating that "Temperance is seriously challenging the heavyweights of the genre". That has turned out to be totally true – the band with this record is leaving them in their wake! Mixed and mastered at Domination Studio by Simone Mularoni (DGM), the band cannot wait to share this new album with everybody out there. This is massive! 10/10 (Dave)

SKEPTICAL MINDS…’OMEGA THANATOS’

(FYB Records) Reviewed 19th July 2016

Skeptical Minds fronted by the angelic vocals of Karolina Pacan was formed in 2002 and since those days, the band has released three full length albums (inc this one), a couple of EPs and a live album. So a reasonably productive CV then. Their style of music can best be described as Industrial Metal with hints of Gothic Metal thrown into the mix. The album starts with angelic style of Karolina on the track 'Balcony Of Dreams', this shows the band's more Gothic side being basically a guitar orientated melodic number. Next one ‘Alone’ ups the pace and is a more industrial sounding track, while ‘Fears’ keeps the industrial feel going being a melodic pounder. There are further up tempo numbers like ‘The Sign’, then there is ‘Horror Show’ with its cello intro, the dark mainly instrumental ‘Thanatos’ that would make a great opening number at a live gig and the mid paced and rather kool ‘Last Friends’. The pen ultimate tune ‘Escape’ is a total belter, while the band do slow it down with the closing haunting ballad ‘Hopeless Hope’. This is a good album from Skeptical Minds in keeping with their previous releases, but to be honest, I do feel it betters those. The bands Facebook is here…worth checking out if not already done so… 8.75/10 (Dave)

TYPHOID ROSIE…’HEARTS BLEED GOODBYE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 7th July 2016

Hailing from Brooklyn NY, TYPHOID ROSIE has recently released this their album debut, ‘Hearts Bleed Goodbye’.Throughout their music, front-woman Rosie Rebel expresses the paralyzing loss in her music while also touching upon unrelated themes such as addiction, stalkers, losing yourself in bad company, and the apocalypse. Rosie Rebel by the way is also known for her pre-TYPHOID ROSIE work as a long-time comedian. Anyway, after suffering the tragic loss of her mother, Rosie started to open her songs she had previously written to the world using music as a way to express her deepest emotions, this album being the result. Though the record has a sentimental muse, there are also powerful feminist elements within several tracks including 'Run Along' and 'Walk of Shame' as well as recent focus tracks 'Baby I Want You' and 'Better to Know Now'. This indeed is a quirky collection of 11 tunes, all running in at between one & a half and three & a half minutes. Despite dealing with life's issues and problems, these tracks have this habit of hanging around in your head long after they have finished, very addictive with loads of pop catchiness coupled with indie grit. I can live comfortably with this release and I would recommend it. Check out Typhoid Rosie’s Facebook here… 8.25/10 (Dave)

THE LAST GANG/BRISTOL TO MEMORY...'THE SPLIT' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 5th July 2016

This is a 'split EP' so we will start with the first two tracks. The Last Gang (Facebook here) is a female fronted band from Southern California. The sound has a hint of pop while maintaining its gritty punk rock roots. Fronted by the raspy vocals of Brenna Red, the band on this split EP offer up two tracks of songs with strong melodies. This is strongly showcased by the opening tune, the catchy 'Believe In The Poet'. Second track 'Identity Final' has a slightly more punk feel but still maintains a strong sense of melody. This as previously mentioned is a split EP and the remaining two tracks come from fellow southern Californians and all guy band Bristol To Memory (Facebook here). Fronted by Rory O'Connell, the band who are influenced by acts such as Green Day, Taking Back Sunday, and Brand New, give us two tracks of feel good music for the Summer months, with the band's second track and the EP's closing number offering a little bit of rap into the mix, but is still a great feel good up beat catchy tune! This little EP is good and again shows the quality of unsigned talent that is out there. Check these bands out at their relevant facebook pages...I like this!! 8/10 (Dave)

THE HALLOWS...'OF TIME AND TIDES'

(Self Release) Reviewed 4th July 2016

The Hallows is an English Alternative Pop band formed in London in 2012, consisting of Sarah Rodriguez (vocals/keys/synths), Joe Rodriguez (Drums) and Dave Pugh (Bass). Championing their own very unique sound, the band offers an enchanting concoction of Kate Bush, Muse, Portishead and Tori Amos with their own individual dreamy essence thrown in. 'Of Time and Tides' is an easy listening experience compared to some of the music I listen to, and I can certainly hear Kate Bush resemblences in Sarah's vocal style. There are some great songs on this release. The track that opens the album 'Elements', is also the first single from the album. It is a cool radio friendly tune that you cannot help find yourself tapping your feet to. 'Cardboard Love' follows and is equally as cool as the opener with its catchy chorus, coupled with Sarah's awesome vocals. The record follows a similar laid back path with tracks such as the piano led ballad 'Stay' and the mid paced 'Euphoria'. Meanwhile, 'Angel' reminded me vocally at times of Liv Kristine (ex Leaves' Eyes), while closer 'Little Wildling' is a fave of mine. Overall, this is well produced album by Seb Pecchia at Riverside Studios in Bath and mastered at Metropolis Studios by Andy ‘Hippy’ Baldwin. I would recommend this record for those long sexy summer evenings with a glass of wine or six, not forgetting your loved one of course! The band's facebook is here. It is not Metal or Rock, but it is enjoyable and relaxing - job done guys and gal, a good effort! 8.25/10 (Dave)

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. With spoken word dialogues by Connie Yerbic, these words tell 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... 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)

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