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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS S-T

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TALES OF EVENING…’SZILANKOK’

(Nail Records) Reviewed 24th Feb 2015

Hungarian Band TALES OF EVENING has taken our breaths away here at Ravenheart Music. This is an amazing 12 track album full of Symphonic Metal delights, sung in the band’s native tongue by Ivett Dudás. Some bombastic offerings here including the opening track Hagyi repulni’ that comes into the fray after a brief intro. And if that left you breathless, just listen to the rather nice ‘Van a pillanat’, what a way to start an album from this unknown (to me anyway) band. Further stomping highlights include the catchy ‘A szel feltamad’ (Winds Will Rise) which was released as a single I believe (an English version is digitally available - video here), the awesome power ballad ’Rimekben elsz’, the thumping ’Lelekvihar', and the penultimate track, the spoken word of 'Utravalo'. Certainly, the European mainland seems to be delivering the goods at the moment and this band is of no exception, heading for the top tier of Symphonic Metal with this release. Although I have no idea of any translations apart from their aforementioned single, there are nonetheless musical highlights galore on this recording, so go check them out here. Enough said, but regarding trying to pronounce some of the stuff here, if I tried to pronounce the title of the album, I think it would sound rather rude!.. 9/10 (The Nugget).

RACHAEL SAGE...'BLUE ROSES'

(MPress Records) Reviewed 17th Feb 2015

This is the tenth (yep tenth) studio album from New York singer/songwriter Rachael Sage and the album will be released on the 9th March. This is not Metal so do not expect an aural assault, but expect a listening experience to enable one to chill out after a hard day at the office. There are 13 tracks of laid back Pop/Rock, just listen to tracks like the title track 'Blue Roses' as an example. Rather nice I think! There is also a duet with Judy Collins (Amazing Grace fame amongst many others), that being the closing track 'Helpless'. There is a subtle Country undercurrent surfacing too at times, 'Newspaper' and the aforementioned 'Helpless' being two such tracks, while I myself rather do like the number 'Not Leaving You'. This release is gentle, soothing and very good, and deserves attention from music lovers that enjoy their music rather more laid back. To be honest, it is a pleasure to review this in front of my fire with my glass of red wine in hand. Rachael's website can be found here.... 8.25/10 (The Nugget)

SILENCE THE ARIA...'YANYEU FAREWELL'

(Self Release) Reviewed 17th Feb 2015

Progressive Metal group Silence The Aria is the effort of Ian Brush (composition, instruments,scream/growl vocals) and Meghan Alvis (singing/lead vocals). Originating in Denver, Colorado as a solo endeavor, this latest release has unleashed Meghan’s angelic vocals into the foreground. I admit to not knowing much musically about this band and Ravenheart Dave sure doesn't either, but nonetheless, lets have a crack at the whip and get the review done for the site. There are six tracks here, clocking in at roughly around the 33-34 min mark, so not a lengthy effort by any means. Opener, the awesomely monickered 'Let's Just Not Call This What It Is' seems to be divided into two parts, a good deal of instrumention within the opening track and it is well executed Progressive Rock/Metal, awesome vocals from Meghan too. 'Giant Dead God' follows which features deathly growls from Ian, while 'True Position' has a kinda Middle Eastern vibe coupled with some rather good technical wizardry, which propels this song into the very good category. 'Silence of the Aria' is a slow atmospheric number clocking in at a little under three minutes, this gently leads into 'There's Life In Here' which ups the ante somewhat, becoming a hammering Progressive Metal creation. Closing track from this cd is titled 'Onward Outward' and closes the album on a fine note. The cd lands March 12 2015 so I believe and although this may not be everybody's cuppa tea, it is well worth checking out for fans of technical and progressive rock & metal, the record offering a metal sound of movement and ever changing soundscapes. More info about the band's music here... 8/10 (The Nugget)

STORM...'STORM'S a BREWIN'

(Tin Idol Productions) Reviewed 6th Feb 2015

Hawaii has a Goth-Metal band on the rise...and a Storm is brewing...Sandy “Storm” Essman is a classically trained singer with a versatile background in the music business, Sandy is a vocal powerhouse and front-woman extraordinaire of the band STORM. She balances her appetite for dark heavy rhythms by appearing on Hawaiian music projects, Na Leo O Hou Hawaii and Love Songs in Paradise among them. Now, her lifelong dedication to her craft is focused solely on breaking new ground in Hawaii’s Goth-Metal scene. Ably backed up by a contingent of experienced musicians including a female keyboardist from Serbia, STORM deliver a blistering 13 track album that will assault your senses. I suppose the band has a way to go before they even enter the same league as the European Gothic-Metal elite, but this is a fine start and paves the way for the future. Listening to tracks like 'Fly' and 'Crossfire' proves this band has got what it takes. Their Facebook is here and check out their YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCE-6QE2Tqswg7BFg3T94XkQ .. 8.25/10 (The Nugget)

SHADOWICON...'SMOKE & MIRRORS' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th January 2015

Born and raised in Slovenia, ShadowIcon fronted by the sexy poppy vocals of Ana Prijatelj Pelhan, is a six piece Melodic Metal band with a heavy impact and a compelling vocalist. Their previous album ‘Empire in Ruins’ picked up excellent reviews around Europe and the US (inc this site), now they’re back with a brand new EP totalling six epic songs. Taking elements from metal and thrash, but marrying them to a tuneful vocal and a great appreciation for a stylish groove, the band serve up a potent blend of heaviness on this new EP. And this is immediately brought to the fore on opener '(Now I See) Through A Mirror Darkly'. Great powerful Melodic Metal with subtle symphonic elements - cool!! 'If I Was The One' is a catchy rather bombastic number which bangs around in your head long afterwards, as does following track 'The Edge'. 'The Beauty Of A Rose' is a fave track of mine that has the beauty of a rose, a compelling 5 minute power ballad that gains momentum to become a melodic thumper - awesome! The closing duo of the oh so good 'My Plea' and the reprise of the opening number do not disappoint, so in summary: Building on the new Melodic Metal sound of the debut, the songs are a fusion of different tastes and styles from the band’s three songwriters, all blending into a great cocktail of pounding drums, searing guitars and piercing vocals. This is also in-fact an innovative double CD release, featuring a 2nd CD of instrumental versions, and it all gets released March 16th. The band's website is at www.shadowicon.com - mixed and mastered by Charlie Bauerfield and Thomas Geiger (Helloween, Blind Guardian) this is well recommended .. 9.25/10 (Dave)

SECRET RULE...'TRANSPOSED EMOTIONS'

(Rocksector Records) Reviewed 22nd January 2015

Resonating with the dramatic and poetic backdrop of their home city of Rome, Secret Rule have created a fitting masterpiece of progressive rock, with inspirations taken from the worlds of Power Metal, Goth and Pop, with acoustic and electronic inserts, plus catchy and totally awesome memorable melodies. Formed at the beginning of 2014, the band is fronted by the powerful and crystal clear vocals of Angela Di Vincenzo (Kyla Moyl, and most recently a guest with Kaledon), masterminded by lead guitarist Andy Menario (Martiria) who has worked with a host of luminaries including Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio), Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner), and Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot). The line-up is completed most excellently by bassist Michele Raspanti (Graal) and drummer Ruben Ramirez (Myr). This record is damn good it has to be said with hardly a filler to be found. Opener 'The Journey' is so catchy with a progressive undercurrent and this insanely catchy music continues throughout the album. I cannot begin to comprehend what I am listening too here as it is so so good! Listen to tracks such as the hideously melodic 'True Friend', the pounding 'Sensation' and the memorable 'Sleep Forever', these being just three from a melting pot of potential blockbusters. And I should also give a mention to the ballad 'Vision', this number possessing the wow factor! 'Transposed Emotions' was recorded in 2014, produced, mixed and mastered at Antfarm Studios (Denmark) by Tue Madsen (Halford, The Haunted, Mnemic, Hatesphere, Ektomorf) and is available from 16th February 2015. The single and aforementioned track 'True Friend' can be downloaded for free here, and the video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdeEwxhB9tM, so check it all out! This captivating release is well recommended and we simply love it!... 9.5/10 (The Nugget)

SONIQUE SANCTURY...'RESILIENCE' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th January 2015

It is not very often we get music from Bermuda, in-fact this release will be the very first one I believe :) The band was started in 2011 by drummer Nick Wadson and guitarist Ace Cepeda as an instrumental band, to display a high level of musical technical proficiency. Then singer Dr. Tracey Lynne Harney came into the equation and Sonique Sanctury entered a new gear. The band with this EP throw at the listener five tracks of very well done Progressive Rock - deep and dark music in-fact that relates to human experiences. Dr. Harney likes to call it "concious rock" and maybe she is right. All the tracks here are technically perfect with a spoken intro to each track from Tracey Lynne, there is great musicianship throughout from the band, this is Progressive Rockers heaven! The final track which so happens to be the title track to this EP is possibly the most commercial number here, but they are all good. Tracey Lynne's vocals are strong and powerful and really drive this music along together with the band. This is worth looking into if you feel this music is up your alleyway, cos it should be. So show some resilience and check the band at their website: www.bermudaguitar.wix.com/soniquesanctuary. And furthermore, a full length album is in the pipeline.. 8.75/10 (The Nugget)

SAIDETH...'DREAM: REACHING THE ASHES OF A BURNT DISTANT STAR' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th January 2015

Saideth is an Electrocore/ Melodic Industrial/Synthpop/ Electropopcore band from Mexico City, formed in 2008 by SAID CAMARILLO. Of interest to readers of this website will be the inclusion of VK Lynne on three of the numbers and Anna Fiori on one of the others. And to be frank, this is rather good. The EP gets going with 'Reaching In', this being a catchy synth infused track to reach into (excuse pun), and is a great way to kick things off. VK's easy on the ear vocals fitting the music extremely well. Next up is the pounding 'Tail Of Star' again with VK Lynne on vocals and with a catchy chorus to boot - a track that would sure fill the dance floors! Anna Fiori pops up on 'Just Ashes' and this track is a slower number - another good un though, also featuring male vocals. Crossover potential here most certainly, the track gaining momentum around the three minute mark, I like it! Vk Lynne's unmistakable vocals reappear on Isano's Broken Bone Remix of 'Tail Of Star', a great track as I mentioned before, play this loud through your headphones. Final track 'The Numb' is listed as a demo and is another pouding and very catchy track. This EP is very good and well recommended. Obervations are being made here that some female fronted acts are veering more towards including electro elements, listen to the SEASON OF GHOSTS newie that was just recently released. Saideth's facebook is here, this release with the Dj and electronic producer INSANO at the helm is well recommended.. 9/10 (The Nugget)

SILENT DIVIDE...'MASTER OF DISGUISE'

(Self Released) Reviewed 14th January 2015

Silent Divide fronted by Marianne ('M') Harrington, is a 5-piece and very good original rock band hailing from Essex (UK), formed in 2014. January sees the release of this, their eagerly anticipated debut EP 'Master Of Disguise', and they have already been offered stax of airplay from numerous radio stations in England, America and Europe upon its release. This is a good rocking album that will please fans of in yer face Metal. No frills here, no Operatics, no Gothic shenanigans, just good old Rock 'n Metal that should be played loud, taking no prisoners in the process. I would imagine this Essex band is totally awesome live, especially with tracks like the opener 'Pieces That Bleed' and closer 'Broken Name' and the three tracks sandwiched in between :) Totally awesome. The musicianship here is from the top drawer, but you can find out for yourselves here... 8.5/10 (Dave)

SEASON OF GHOSTS...'THE HUMAN PARADOX'

(Coroner Records) Reviewed 5th January 2015

Season of Ghosts is a groundbreaking music project, dedicated to the love of the unseen and film soundtracks. Conceived by Greek singer-songwriter Sophia Aslanidou, the project came to life in October of 2013. This highly anticipated debut concept album was released on the 8th of December 2014, receiving enthusiastic reviews and critical acclaim from across the music spectrum. Sophia is not only the singer, she is the song-writer and producer for SEASON OF GHOSTS, and this release is totally awesome, bringing together Metal and Rock sounds, harsh electronics and powerful compelling vocals, through the eerie spectrum of a Sci-Fi, horror movie. There are thirteen tracks that are very good and totally magical. The music here will appeal to the Rock and Metal fan as well as those that like their music with a fair amount of electronica thrown into the pot. It kinda reminds me a little of Enter Shikari, offering up some magical and ultra commercial tracks - check out the catchy '[NE]: Mesis The Kiss Of Justice' as one example of a track with total crossover appeal! And she can slow it down too with numbers like 'The Road To Archeron' and 'Reincarnation'. I do like this record with its crossover potential and it deserves to do well. And just one further observation, ALL vocals on this album are done by Sophia. Do check out the website here - well recommended.. 9.25/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)

THE AUTIST...'ENTANGLED' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 9th December 2014

The Autist come from Portugal and they are a Metal/Rock project, giving us screamo male vocals from João Prim and clean female vox from Edna Gutierrez. What I must say is that this is not your ordinary Symphonic/Gothic fare, this is more in the vein of In This Moment at their most ballsiest and to a small extent Enter Shakari. The music is by and large all upbeat and I do find that there seems to be a lot going on within the music offered up, getting at times just a little over powering, especially with the screamo bits. But nonetheless, if this style of music is up your alleyway, then this 7 tracker is good. I do rather like the track 'Loveless' which I suppose borders power ballad territory, it is heavy but atmospheric and rather good me thinks, featuring just the vocals of Edna. The band's Facebook is here - the music is well worth checking out if one likes this style of music.. 7.75/10 (Natalie Gold)

Sin7SinS...'PURGATORY PRINCESS'

(S7S Records/Suburban Records) Reviewed 28th October 2014

Don't you just love it when you live in Essex, and a lovely guy 150 miles away sends you a stream of decent releases to review for his website (thanks Dave). Okay, being a lover of the female fronted rock and metal scene, may be we show a little bias here at Ravenheart Music, but come on, it is all good anyway! Sin7SinS come from Holland and can we say we are surprised? Not really as the Dutch produce a steady flow of hot female fronted metal bands for our ear drums to enjoy. The lovely Lotus leads the vocal assault with some help from guitarst Gen Morphine. There are ten tracks here of catchy melodic metal on this, the bands 3rd release, that will have you dancing around the room like a happy little bunny on acid. And if you want stern proof of what I have said, listen to tracks like 'Stronger', the pounding 'Take Your Hands Off Me' (such a flippin' catchy chorus!), and the high powered up tempo tracks 'No Tears Left' and 'Different Place, Different Stage' as examples - so good! And after all that, let us not forget the orchestrated ballad 'Bittersweet Dreams' - the title says it all. If you do not like this record, you are a miserable so and so as all ten tracks here are of the highest quality, being another worthy purchase from your well earned dosh when it gets released 24th November. Need I say anymore? I don't think so... 9.25/10 (Natalie Gold)

SELENE...'PARADISE OVER' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th September 2014

N.Ireland is not that well known for it's Symphonic Rock/Metal bands, but the awesome Selene from Londonderry, fronted by Shonagh Lyons is a band from those shores. Founded in 2013, Selene has already released one EP - 'Among The Frozen', and now we have yet another offering from the band, 'Paradise Over'. And I must say that like their previous EP, this is rather good and similar to what I have already said in my review of their debut, this is certainly a band that has to be watched very closely. Anyway, opener 'Facing The Mirror' is a pounding Melodic Symphonic Rocker, a great opener to be honest while second up 'Not Enough' continues where the opener left off, although maybe not quite as heavy as the opening tune. The pace gathers again on 'Still Dreaming' and the title track, while the closing duo of 'Fade Away' and the atmospheric ballad 'Hourglass Fading' ends a rather good record. With the band listing their influences as Nightwish, Evanescence, Sonata Arctica, Kamelot, Epica and Avantasia, 'Paradise Over' follows the trend Selene set on their debut EP while also creating a new heavier bombastic sound, thanks in part to the new members Cameron Ashlund-Glass (Darkest Era) and Thomas Alford (Sandstone). I also feel that the band is maturing with this latest release too, and can only get even better. Their Facebook is here, and the EP is released 17th October... 8.5/10 (Dave)

THE LONGING...'BLEED'

(FilthyPrincessRecords) Reviewed 28th August 2014

The Longing is an LA-based band who transcend over-simplistic genre categorization. Founding member, Toronto born composer and singer, the lovely Laura Bradley, harnesses the power of her trademark angelic sound and unleashes her voice with the spectral force of an emotional whiplash across this powerful 13 track rock album. Having listened to the opener 'Wicked', and already we can here the power of Laura's voice. And her vocal prowess becomes even more apparent on the melodic and progressive tinged title track complete with violin, totally awesome. 'Fade' is another number with a subtle progresive undercurrent together with a massive chorus to boot. The album continues in a similar vein with standouts galore like the massive 'Lips' with another huge chorus, and the powerful ballad 'This Flame', which exposes Laura’s experience with the Angeles National Forest Station, a fire that burned Bassist/Producer Michael Wallace’s Stonyville Cabin & Studios to the ground in 2010. Then we have 'Cool Dark Slip' which opens with Laura Bradley’s haunting solo piano before exploding into an urgency of hard-driven guitars. I could name other highlights here like the track 'Words' as another goodie, but in my opinion, every track is a highlight to my ears, and if you want my honest point of view, we could be looking at the next big thing on the Rock Music scene. We have massive lyrically emotional songs, an awesome and very talented singer, hi octane and powerful hooks and a band totally committed to the cause. The Longing's website is at www.thelonging.com/ where you can also view the video to the title track 'Bleed'. This record is well recommend when it gets released...9.5/10 (Dave)

TERMINATRYX...'SHADOW'

(ENT Entertainment/Flamedrop Productions) Reviewed 26th August 2014

Fancy a taste of Industrial Rock/Metal? Then may I suggest listening to South African Band Terminatryx. Fronted by Sonja, this band totally kick ass. All the ingredients are here - synths mixed with electronic elements, and off course some tasty guitar riffs too. Opener 'Metropolis' is a chaotic intro, may be the kind you would expect as an ideal intro to the music on offer, and this leads us into 'Holy', that drives along and demonstrates rather nicely the music the band throw at the listener. 'Scars' is damn awesome complete with introductory thunder sound effects. This number pounds along and is a fave of mine from the album, a thundering (excuse the pun) dance floor number. The Afrikaans 'Masjien' is another pounding number that would go down well in the clubs and no doubt live too, while the atmospheric title track slows it down a bit but maintains its heaviness. The heavy 'Gone' takes us to the halfway point and the album so far is rather good! The second half of the album continues in a similar vein with standout tracks a plenty including the mainly instrumental but thumping 'Outcast', and anybody into this kind of music would be in Industrial heaven, mark my words. The album closing with an Industriezone remix of the title track. The band's Facebook can be found here: www.facebook.com/Terminatryx/info...recommended - 8.5/10 (Dave)

SouLost...'THE WAY I FEEL pt 2'

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th Augsut 2014

The band SouLost come from London and I have here an EP of three tracks. They offer the listener a heavy and rather melodic sound. Opener 'Bring You Down' is very catchy with a melodic/industrial feel, while second track in 'Without Me' is slightly heavier and more Metallic in its feel although still very catchy, think a heavier Paramore. Third track 'Save me' is an acoustic number, this track originally appearing on the band's previous offering 'The Way I Feel Pt 1'. This little EP is rather good and the band is well worth checking out. Their Facebook is here..8/10 (Dave)

SHAYTAN...'HARDSHIP WASTELANDS' EP

(Self Released)

This to me is festival music - muddy fields, people forgetting about the troubles in the World and enjoying themselves etc. And I would imagine this band is good live as a consequence. Shaytan in-fact, is a hard rock/heavy metal band from Italy and this offering gives us seven tracks of hard rock/metal music, with a strong retro feel to my ears. The production is a little muddy but has that raw texture and indeed, I honestly believe it gives the music that 'live feel'. The vocals of Maria D' Urzo are possibly more from the Amy Lee school of vocals which suit the music fine. Shaytan define their style as 80's hard n' heavy, with elements (subtle) of Psychedelic Music and Electronica, rather cool and I tend to agree. Check them out here - 7.75/10 (Aimee)

SUNCROWN...'YOU ARE NOT ALONE'

(Crysella Records) Reviewed 1st August 2014

Suncrown is a Symphonic/Epic metal band formed in 2011 by songwriter and keyboardist Oleg Biblyi (Ukraine) and vocalist Darren Crisp (USA). Female singer Juliana Furlani (Brazil) and drummer Tim Zuidberg (Netherlands) then joined and the first album 'Follow your Dream' was released in November 2012. Now with a fully established line up of musicians, we have the follow up 'You Are Not Alone'. Indeed this album has it all and delivers a bombastic and epic album utilising fully the use of orchestral elements. There are eleven tracks here including a cover of Rainbow's 'Gates of Babylon'. This is a consistent and cohesive release with 'Grandfather's Song' and 'Primordial Call' being two numbers I have rather taken too. Here is a link to their video and the opening track to the album, 'The Beginning Is Near': www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEvDa6gybwM. This band is well worth checking out whilst their albums can be purchased here..8.75/10 (Dave)

SEVERNICA...'LONG LOST LONGING'

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th July 2014

Another interesting release from Finland and a band that is showing promise from what is on this EP. Fronted by Maarit Nieminen, ' Long Lost Longing' from Severnica (www.facebook.com/SevernicaOfficial is a mini cd of four crafted tracks of Symphonic/Melodic Metal, which although following a tried and trusted formula, are still worth a listen if you ask me. Maarit's vocals take on a poppy style bordering at times with the operatic without really becoming operatic if that makes sense. 'My Journey' sees the addition of gruff male vocals, which indeed enhances the listening pleasure. I would like to hear more from this band in due course, but this is not bad for starters... 8/10 (Dave)

THE CHEEK OF HER...'ADULT ANGST ANONYMOUS'

(Self Released) Reviewed 8th July 2014

London based Helen Dooley is basically The Cheek of Her, and what we have here is an interesting collection of tunes that form the album 'Adult Angst Anonymous'. I like something a little different that veers away from the in yer face rock & metal scene and this 12 track recording (including three live & acoustic tracks) does just that. The album is mainly guitar/piano driven rock with the poppy upbeat track 'Write Me A Letter' having already been aired on BBC Radio 2 here in the UK. I do also like the number 'Stuck Stuck' that has one rather good catchy chorus, and Helen lets rip with the closer, the Bob Marley song 'Three Little Birds'. Helen has been compared to Lily Allen, but to be honest I think she is better! Helen deserves success, so give her a listen! Her Facebook can be found here - 8/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)

TANTAL...'EXPECTANCY'

(Mazzar Records) Reviewed 23rd June 2014

Tantal is a Melodic Death Metal band hailing from Moscow, and here on their latest offering, they supply the listener with 10 tracks of blistering metal to awakening the senses. And despite the heaviness of the music on offer, there is always a sense of melody bubbling under the surface, just like their previous album 'The Beginning of the End'. With angelic female vocals from Milana Solovitskaya and Death vocals on this release from guest vocalist Vlad Lobanov, the band set the pace with opener 'Through The Years', a blistering start, with a catchy chorus to boot. 'Expectancy Pt1 (Desert In My Soul)' and 'Echoes of Failures' continue the assault on the senses, with both offering yet further bouncy choruses featuring the vocals of Milana. This album so far is sure damn good. 'In Times Of Solitude' is an acoustic instrumental that enables us all to catch a breather before 'Nothing (Selfish Acts)' ups the ante yet again. And the momentum continues with the remaining numbers 'Pain That We Must All Go Through', 'Expectancy Pt 2 (Despair)' and 'Under The Weight Of My Sorrow I Crawl'. But there are actually two additionl tracks in Russian to compliment that to my ears is a very good album. Track nine and ten are indeed the opening two tracks of the album sung in Russian. This record is heavy, it is melodic and it sure damn rocks like hell! I will be the first to admit that Death Metal would not be my music of choice, but with the combination of male and female vocals, combined with melody, this is good. And despite the band being Russian, the singing is near accent free. Their Facebook is here... 8.75/10 (Dave)

SAKARA...'BEAUTY AND BRAVERY'

(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 12th June 2014

Sakara - yay! It is very difficult to review an album released on your own label, but when that musician is also a damn good friend, then trying to be impartial is further difficult, but nonetheless here goes!. Okay, Sakara released her debut 'Blood & Stone' on the Ravenheart label in 2012 and indeed, it became a well received album in many quarters, with some jolly good reviews. Now mid way through 2014 and we have 'Beauty and Bravery' about to hit the stores. Now, I have always liked a woman with attitude, and Sakara (Laura) has just that. And this comes out in the rockin' opening track 'Fearless', where she lets rip with the lyrics "Fuck You, Fuck You, Fuck You, hahahahaha". The momentum and indeed to an extent the angst continues with 'Weave My Web' (video here), a nice quiet choral interlude to start the track, before it all kicks off - great operatic vocals during the chorus too, this girl rocks. Next up 'Angels And Demons' offers great vocals and simply an awesome slow and atmospheric number with strings - beautiful as is the magical track 'Shield Maidens'. The album kicks back into rockin mode with 'Memories' and the metallic and damn heavy 'Orca', the latter being a fave track of mine from the album. 'Sea Priestess' slows down the momentum but increases the atmospherics, while the shortest number on the album 'Mystery' is an acoustic led folky number. 'Don't Back Down' has that wild west twangy guitar intro, where you expect John Wayne to appear on his horse at any moment, and then in comes the guitars and drums, and we are off on another melodic ride of heavy awesomeness. 'Serenity' is the official closing track but there is one more...the quality, epic and rather lovely 8+ minute hidden bonus track 'One'. Furthermore, and again the services of the awesome Stephen Clarke who worked on Sakara's first cd is utilised, he lays down painstakingly constructed layers of guitars and synths to great effect on this follow up release. Using Laura's own words, the album is a journey of beauty and bravery, mystical and magic, ancient and modern with shamanic influence. Songs about bravery, warrior women, goddesses, priestesses, nature, water and courage. It's about the rising power of the feminine both beautiful and fierce, gentle and passionate, yin and yang. I have known Laura for a long while, through thick and thin too and I am dead proud of what she has achieved. A varied but well recommended record - kinda imagine Leaves' Eyes mixing it with Rage Against The Machine, seems good to me.. 9/10 (Dave)

SECOND EMPIRE...'SECOND EMPIRE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th May 2014

Second Empire hail from Pittsburg Pennsylvania, and they have sent me their second self titled EP. You wanna know what?, this is damn good. Fronted by Alex Lindsay Roth who I hasten to add is just 16 years old, the band give us five tracks of European sounding Symphonic Metal. I say European, as there is a liberal use of keys throughout the sound on offer. The opening salvo of 'Everlasting' and 'Hold Me (Til We're Both Dead)' shows the direction the band is taking, the latter being a catchy number that tends to stick around in your head - love it. The remaining three tracks maintain the awesome momentum, and being a sucker for the odd power ballad, I do like 'Sorrow My Saviour'. It is of no surprise that Second Empire has been compared to Delain, Lacuna Coil and We Are The Fallen amongst many others. This is worth a punt - check out their Facebook here - great stuff…8.75/10 (Dave)

STREAM OF PASSION...'A WAR OF OUR OWN'

(Self Released) Reviewed 16th May 2014

The flow of good music continues to hit Ravenheart Music to an extent where it is difficult to keep up with it all. Stream of Passion is Marcela Bovio (vocals and violin), Johan van stratum (bass), Jeffrey Revet (keyboards), Eric Hazebroek (guitar), Stephan Schultz (guitar) and Martijn Peters (drums) coupled with guest appearances from Ben Mathot (violin) and David Faber (cello). This 13 track and one hour spectacle of an album is independent from any record label, being funded by one of those campaigns that we see so much of now. But the popularity of this band is such, that the funding campaign only took a couple of weeks or so to reach and indeed exceed it's target. Being free from any label gave the band 100% artistic freedom, and this comes to the fore well on this album. Kicking off with 'Monster', this is a monster (no pun intended!) of a song with a catchy chorus too, a great way to kick things off. Next up, the title track is another awesome and powerful number with the piano being one of the main instruments that drive this song along. 'The Curse', a fave of mine is a familiar song from their live shows, while 'Autophobia' starts slow and emotional but turns into a powerful number, again the piano plays it's part - a great song. The heavy 'Burning Star' with it's progressive undercurrent pounds along and to be honest, so far there is little on what I am hearing, to fault. And that is how it continues, with further classic songs like the rather nicely presented 'For You', the heavy, melodic and riff tastic 'Exile' and the song 'Secrets'. But despite mentioning the above mentioned tracks, as you would expect from such a fine band, generally the whole cd is good from start to finish and is yet another must buy for that ever increasing collection of music - could be their best yet!... 9.25/10 (Dave)

SAVN...'SAVN'

(CDR Records) Reviewed 1st May 2014

Norwegian goth metal legends The Sins Of Thy Beloved have been dormant since 2000 - following the release of their second album 'Perpetual Desolation' - and after years of a rumored reunion, Stig Johansen and Anders Thue have instead risen from the ashes with a new band, SAVN, and a new vision to go with it. The seeds for SAVN (translated: Deprivation) officially took root when multi-instrumentalist Stig contacted Midnattsol vocalist and long-time friend Carmen Elise Espenæs about singing one song for the planned SAVN album. Carmen agreed, and Stig and Anders (keyboards) were so pleased with the final result they invited her to sing on the entire record, and here is the result. And this is rather good I hasten to add. We have eleven tracks of pounding quality melodic Gothic Metal that will appeal to fans of Gothic and Symphonic female fronted Rock & Metal (and beyond). And guess what? - Liv (Carmen's big sis) puts in an appearance on 'I Am Free'. I mention eleven tracks, but the final two numbers are "growling" versions of two other tracks on the album - 'Hang On' and 'The Demons In Me'. As previously mentioned, this is very good quality stuff indeed, being mixed and produced by Alex Krull (Atrocity, Leaves' Eyes) at Mastersound Studios in Germany. This I must say is well recommended to all and sundry... 9/10 (Dave)

TEMPERANCE...'TEMPERANCE'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 1st May 2014

Yet another Italian band graces us with their pleasure and what a pleasure it is. Temperance is born from musicians with more than 10 years of experience in the heavy metal music scene, who have already worked with and supported live acts like Rhapsody of Fire, Dragonforce, Parkway Drive and Leave's Eyes. The band offer an amazing mixture of tight guitars, metal riffs, electronic and folk music elements, bounded together with melody and power. They are a five piece combo fronted by a young lady called Chiara and managed by Truck Me Hard and I did say "Truck" peeps :) We have eleven tracks here that kick off with 'Tell Me' that offers the listener a foray into Power Metal territory. Second up 'Heavens Above' is a rather catchy number to say the least with some ooommmppphhh in the ooommmppphhh department coupled with some more serene moments, a rather nice number actually. A rather powerful start to the album and it continues with further bombastic and catchy tracks like 'Hero', the Power Ballad 'Stronger', the pounding and electro influenced 'Scared and Alone', the Symphonic 7+ minute epic 'The Fourth Season' and the catchy closer and a fave of mine 'Relentlessly'. And that is just a broad selection from what is on offer on this superb cd. Chiara reminds me at times of Charlotte from Delain and that cannot be a bad thing. So go and visit their Facebook page here, as everything here graces the very good category. Temperance is seriously challenging the heavyweights of the genre - 9/10 (Rachel)

SHARKMUFFIN...'1097'

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th April 2014

Want a band with a shark like attitude? Sharkmuffin was born when Tarra Thiessen awesome shredder and vocalist discovered bassist/vocalist Natalie Kirch at the Jersey Shore and joined forces on July 4, 2012 only months before the very beach house in which they met was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. After a run with a few various drummers, Janet LaBelle stepped up to complete the sonically-crushing trifecta. There are four tracks here on this EP offering up a raw punk like sound, with Thiessen not only wailing on guitar and vocals, but incorporating a Theramin. Seven and a half minutes of playing time - imagine The Ramones having fun with The Slits - these girls don't give a f**k. 'Ten Ten' will blow your mind and the final number 'Soft Landing' rocks in a hard rockin'sorta way - great guitar solo and rather good I think. Their Facebook is here... 8/10 (Dave)

TIMO TOLKKI'S AVALON...'ANGELS OF THE APOCALYPSE'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 25th April 2014

It is 2020 A.D - The Elements send 4 Angels to observe mankind and its actions in the last century. There are 4 Angels, but still they are One. Fire, Wind, Earth and Water are their names. With the Elements they observe in unimaginable sadness and anger the primitive events that take place in the last 150 years as they have the ability to go back and forth in time. As they give their final warning, Mankind sees unimaginable destruction that shakes its core foundations. Pandora`s Box is opened and the forces of Nature are unleashed. Is this the prelude for Judgement Day! The concept of the Avalon Metal Opera was born in the second half of 2012, when the Finnish composer and producer Timo Tolkki, former STRATOVARIUS guitar player and one of the true forefathers of the Power Metal genre, decided to move forward with his career and work on a project which could allow him to express his musical creativity without any boundaries, within the Classic Metal genre. The debut 'The Land of New Hope' was released in May 2013 and the album featured performances by numerous internationally acclaimed singers and musicians including Timo Tolkki himself of course. Tolkki resumed the work for this second album with the concept of developing the sound and the music in an even more grandiose and symphonic metal mood, even though from the beginning there was the idea to go in a heavier and darker direction which better fits the Apocalyptic scenarios described in this album. The amazing vocal cast appearing this time include the new NIGHTWISH singer Floor Jansen – handling lead vocals on the grandoise track and first single 'Design The Century' (here is a link to the video 'Design The Century' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VO49X_Ie4A) – along with Simone Simons (EPICA), Fabio Lione (RHAPSODY OF FIRE), David DeFeis (VIRGIN STEELE), Zachary Stevens (ex SAVATAGE, CIRCLE II CIRCLE) plus Elize Ryd (AMARANTHE) who appears again after the first album, and the stunning Chilean singer Caterina Nix, who is working on her debut album which is also produced by Tolkki. This album is an exceptional piece of work from start to finish, awesome Power Metal, awesome Symphonic Metal and some rather cool Power Ballads. To be honest, I do not have the space to describe this in detail. But all I can say is buy it when it gets released May 16th here in Europe (May 20th N America) cos this is something special, rest assured!!... 9.75/10 (Dave)

SHEAR...'KATHARSIS'

(Lifeforce) Reviewed 17th April 2014

There is some really good music coming my way at the moment and Shear is no exception. Indeed, they could well be the next big thing to come out of Finland, with Katharsis being their second full length offering. Fronted by Alexa Leroux who I must add has one helluva set of pipes, the band hurl at us 11 tracks of what can best be described as awesome Melodic Power Metal with subtle Prog, Gothic and Symphonic undercurrents. OOhhhh, this is so good and thunders along at some pace. I am struggling to dig out any highlights as all the tracks are that good, with some damn good performances from all the musicians involved. But tracks I currently do dig are 'Hollow, Black & Cold', the melodic 'A Hopeless Tragedy', 'For The Restless', the powerful and melodic 'Not Myself' and the dynamic closer 'Turmoil'. This is a very good record from a very promising and fine band and should be lapped up by fans of the genre.. 9.25/10 (Dave)

TIGER BELL...'DON'T WANNA HEAR ABOUT YOUR BAND' (single)

(Platinum/WIFE/Sony) Reviewed 12th March 2014

Punk is alive and well and living somewhere in Stockholm. Here we have a two track single featuring 'Dont Wanna Hear About Your Band' and a cover of the Plastic Bertrand number 'ca plane pour moi'. Two tracks totaling just a little over 4 mins. Punk how we like it! It is difficult to score a two track single, but if this kinda music floats your boat, check this all girl band Tiger Bell out here. (Dave)

SINHERESY...'PAINT THE WORLD'

(Bakerteam Records) Reviewed 20th Feb 2014

SinHeresY officially came to fruition in May 2009 in Trieste when the bassist Davide Sportiello met the guitarist Lorenzo Pasutto and the Friulian singer Cecilia Petrini. In the following months, the drummer Alex Vescovi and the male vocalist Stefano Sain joined the band. This indeed is their first full length effort believe it or not, and what we have here is ten tracks (inc bonus) of solid Symphonic Metal music in a style not too disimilar to Tarja era Nightwish, together with the added benefit of clean male vocals to compliment those of Cecilia. And this is a real treat to the ears I can assure you! 'Last Fall' is an epic way to start the record and it continues with second up, the bombastic 'The Gambler'. Awesome with the opening salvo packing a real punch! The title track is hideously catchy and if you are able to sit still during this song, you have a real problem! The ballad 'Roses & Thorns' is simply great while 'Made For Sin' is a pounding heavy number. The highlights continue through the second half of the album with the massive 'Breakpoint' (great use of keys) and 'Our Angel', which are other stand out tracks in what is a very impressive release throughout. I well recommend this, a very strong album indeed...9/10 (Dave)

SIRENIA...'PERILS OF THE DEEP BLUE'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 20th Feb 2014

This review is a little late as we here thought it had already been done, but I am tying up a few 'loose ends' so better late then never I suppose! Morten Veland is a genius! Sirenia fronted by Ailyn who has been their vocalist since 2008 came together in early 2001, when Morten parted ways with his former band Tristania due to musical disagreements and personal differences. Fast forward to current time and after a few personnel changes together with some musical ups and downs, Morten and Sirenia throw at us their 6th studio release. Fans of Sirenia's early output will possibly still not consider this as quite their "cuppa tea", but come on peeps, one has to be open minded regards the music they listen too. This record is good, a little on the long side but good. My copy has thirteen tracks which include 2 bonus numbers and fave tracks that have emerged over the weeks are 'My Destiny Coming To Pass' which incorporates all the elements of a Gothic Metal song - awesome, the rather good and catchy 'Ditt Endelik' (sung in Norwegian) featuring Joakim Næss on vocal duties, the heavy 'Cold Caress' and the industrial sounding 'Profound Scars'. There are other highlights too which to me make this a good album, although I feel that the haunting 'Stille Kom Doden' again sung in Norwegian is a little on the long side at nearly 13 minutes, but it is cool nonetheless. Many of you who are reading this would have already purchased this album and you would already have formed your own opinions (good or bad). To me this may still not be the Sirenia of old, but it is good! 9/10 (Aimee)

THE ACORN PEOPLE...'SECRETS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 18th Feb 2014

The Acorn People is a rock band made up of four individuals who met during college. They all shared this pressing need to rock faces off the masses. The lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Grace Jermusyk, started writing punk inspired rock music and then met a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy that wanted to incorporate his southern blues influence. He (Kris Cagle) ended up becoming the lead guitarist and introduced the drummer, Quinten Thornton, to Grace as well as the bassist, Rocco (Brendan Herr). The vocals from Grace are awesomely suited to the style of music that the band throws at the listener, no operatic leanings here, just a rock band with a punk and southern blues influence, coupled with a subtle organic and maybe retro feel to their music. The album is good and I myself cannot pick out any standout tracks as they are all consistent, although the album does close on an acoustic note - three of the final four numbers are all acoustic songs, including the number 'Hold On' and 'Maybe Someday' that I rather like. The album kicks back into life with the closer 'Monster' to end what is a good effort. The band can be found on Facebook here .... 8/10 (Dave)

SEVENTH SIN...'WHEN REALITY ENDS'

(Self Released) Reviewed 30th January 2014

Holland throw another beast at us and it would be a sin to ignore this lot! They are Seventh Sin and this is another band that cannot and must not be ignored - they could well be the next big thing to emerge from The Netherlands and you read it here first. Fronted by Monique Joosten with occasional grunts by Roy Geelen, this release deserves to be massive. And furthermore they are looking for a label. With powerful lyrics, Symphonic tunes and a beautiful voice, this is right up my alleyway and there is very little I can fault here. Just listen to the opening salvo of 'Hysteria' and the melodic thumper 'Alone Again' and you will be hooked, guaranteed. The remainder of the album continues in a similar vein, so if the opening duo does not have you hooked, just listen to the catchy 'Wings Of Despair', the power Symphonic balladry of 'The Well', the Power Metal feel of 'The Choice', the Edenbridge sounding 'Silent Tears' or the Within Temptation'ish balladry of 'Just An Ordinary Day' and I am sure you will feel there is something special on show here. Having shared the stage with (among others) Epica, Delain, Leaves Eyes, Asrai, Kamelot, Revamp and Stream of Passion, this has given the band a comfortable headstart to what should be on this showing predictable success. A tour in February on UK soil with Edenbridge is one of the things in the near future to look forward to. Their website is here and this is well recommended by the Ravenheart team,- so if you like Within Temptation, Delain, Edenbridge amongst many others, then go for it, you know you should... 9/10 (Dave)

SCANDELION...'NONSENSE'

(Self Released - download) Reviewed 22nd January 2014

Scandelion is the name of the ruins of a Greek fortress at Jerusalem's coast. The band was created in 2002 in Canary Islands (Spain) by Jorge Afonso (keys & vocals) and is now based in London. The band I understand is by and large Jorge together with a group of guest musicians, with a large proportion of the vocals done by Jorge. What we have here is a good old dose of Gothic Doom Metal with occasional clean male and a large portion of death male vocals, with occasional powerful and rather awesome female vocals from Natalia Falcón. This record which I must say is rather good, at times reminds me of Cradle of Filth in the vocal department, while at same time, offering up a fair dose of melody and ooommmppphhh! The rather cool spoken voice opener (words originally by Edgar Allan Poe) leads us into the thumping and Symphonic 'My Darkest Thoughts' with harsh and clean male vocals and this sets the scene for the record. 'Dusk In Your Dreams' sees the female vocals of Natalia entering the fray, while 'My Tears Drown Your Heart' is a soaring ballad showcasing the really powerful vocals of Natalia coupled with those of Jorge. 'Asleep In The Embrace Of Death' is a great Doom Metal song and the momentum continues with 'Die....Or Die (Your Choice)'. All good stuff up to and including the closer and tenth track 'Pain Of A Dying Soul'. This is rather good and is available for download from their website here... 8.25/10 (Dave)

SILENT OPERA...'REFLECTIONS'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 7th January 2014

The French Epic/Melodic Progressive Death Metal Band Silent Opera have been known to me for a while. I even had a promo copy of this album long before many other people had heard it, and even chatted to the band on Skype some months ago. This is in-fact their second album following 'Act One' which was released in 2010. Fronted by the female voice of Laure Laborde and the death growl of Steven Schriver, this brand new album from the band consists of nine tracks full of rawness and strength, enlightening all inner troubles that people can suffer throughout their lives. Some thumping stuff on this record, the opening five numbers show no mercy as they hammer their way out of your speakers, mixing up a recipe of aggressiveness, plaintive melodies and effective riffs, the vocals of Laure and Steven combining together really well. Apart from the slow, beautiful and brooding 'Chronicles Of An Infinite Sadness', the remaining numbers including the 11+ minute closer 'Sailor Siren and Bitterness' carry on the momentum, offering the listener totally uncompromising raw death metal, perfectly blended with a pure and epic atmosphere, gothic music and melodic symphonic elements. This cd will be well worth checking out when it gets released on 21st February by Massacre...9/10 (Dave)

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