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SELENE...'AMONG THE FROZEN' EP
(Self Released) Reviewed 10h June 2013
Selene is an exciting new Metal band from Northern Ireland, mixing powerful operatic vocals with heavy atmospheric music. As a consequence, they create their own brand of hard hitting Symphonic Metal with this, their very first EP consisting of six tracks. Fronted by Shonagh Lyons, with vocals, guitars and keys by John Connor, there are six tracks here featuring the Symphonic sounds of 'Peace of Mind' including operatic choir, the melodic 'Til The Shadows' and the single, the rather good 'End Of It All'. We also get treated to a piano led ballad 'Ghost' which showcases the beauty of Shonagh's vocals, plus the instrumental 'The Codex' that shows what a fine musician John is. They list their influences as Nightwish, Evanescence and Sonata Arctica and that may be just about right. Okay, this kind of music is not original, but this is certainly a band that we have to keep a close eye on and like a good wine, will get even better with age. Their FaceBook is here
, with the EP being released in July.. 8/10 (Dave)
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 7th June 2013
The Norwegian Gothic Metal pioneers revolving around charismatic front lady Mariangela Demurtars, have the gift to combine heavy tunes with emotional finesse. This latest long player is filled with numerous details, diverse arrangements, a great atmosphere, beautiful melodies and hooks, and just the right amount of heaviness. The fantastic voices of Mariangela and Kjetil are the perfect match and crown the catchy riffs and the imaginary soundscapes. The modern sound of the new songs combined with the quality of musicianship, will take every Gothic Metal fan by storm. There are as a consequence, some meticulously crafted Gothic Metal tracks here with opener 'Number' having Kjetil's vocals screaming out of the speakers, before Mariangela calms proceedings down. Kjetil really lets rip on this opening number though, showing that he and the band mean business. The album starts as an up tempo affair with catchy choruses, and second number in 'Darkest White' is testomony to this featuring just the vocals of Kjetil, while third up 'Himmefall' is as awesome! Great vocals from Kjetil by the way while Mariangela is allowed to let rip too. But the stand out track to my ears is 'Requiem' where Mariangela really makes this number her own, totally grandoise in every respect. 'Diagnosis' slows things down a little, but is still rather captivating, done in a way only Tristania know how. The second half of the album keeps the momentum going, with both Mariangela and Kjetil still delivering the goods! 'Lavender' is totally amazing with clean male vocals before Mariangela comes into the fray - simply a lovely song! The closing duo of 'Cypher' and 'Arteries' fail to disappoint to end what is a rather good album. 'Darkest White' comes recommended by the Ravenheart crew, and it should be easily available at your friendly local rock and metal store...8.75/10 (Dave)
SUMMER LASTS FOREVER...'EVERY TIME I CLOSE MY EYES' EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd June 2013
Summer Lasts Forever started in Orem, Utah the summer of 2009. Within two months the band was in the studio recording their first EP, and playing gigs about twice a week around their home area. More recently the band has finished their first full length album which they will soon release, and a five song preview is available by way of this EP. The bands dynamic rock/metal music, coupled with the vocals of main girl Danielle Worwood and those of guitarist Travis Jones beautifully coupled with acoustic melodies, and sprinkled with some screams and Hardcore breakdowns makes for pure entertainment, in the vein of Paramore and maybe a lighter In This Moment. The band can also slow it down too on a couple of numbers, the rather cool titled 'Skin Heads On Lovers Lane' being one such song. This is a damn cool Summer time rock record which is a total blast and I must say I rather like it. Check them out at their FaceBook
SEVENTH SEEKER...'ANGEL'S TEMPTATION'
(Self Release) Reviewed 14th May 2013
Seventh Seeker (FaceBook
) fronted by the angelic vocals of Daisy Brookman is a new female-fronted band taking the South Coast of England by storm, playing a melodic mixture of hard rock and metal. Full of powerful guitar riffs, technical rhythms and resonating lyrics, Seventh Seeker takes you on a journey through good and evil showcasing their talent for creating catchy and melodic tunes. Four tracks on this EP, all awesome Melodic Hard Rockers, and to be honest there is some corking stuff here. This is the second review I have done today relating to a band from the south coast of England and with Vampyre Heart already established in that part of the world, is this area of the UK becoming the new mecca of Rock & Metal? Cool stuff and a band well worthy of checking out...8/10 (Dave)
THE FALLACY...'LOVE DIVISION'
(Attic Records-Dark Media Group (Russia)) Reviewed 8th May 2013
South America seems to be one of the hot beds of Gothic Rock/Metal and Alternative Metal at the moment, and we can now add The Fallacy to the list of bands from that Continent. Fronted by Angeline Bernini, this band from Chile belt out 12 numbers of catchy guitar/synth driven rock, with 'Love Division' and the title track being a great way to kick off proceedings. We have clean male vocals compliments of the rather cool looking guitarist Marco Cusato, and his vocals compliments well the vocals of Angeline, similar possibly to a slightly laid back version of Brazilian band Ravenland. Third up 'Mistaken Love' maintains the awesome start, another catchy number to sink your teeth into - lovely stuff. And it continues, just listen to the up tempo 'Drops Of Fire', the piano led & string infused 'Holy or Ghost' and one of my faves 'No Dreams At Home', which is more male vocalised if that is a term I can use - brilliant! This record is not a totally in yer face Gothic Metal release, but it takes a slightly more laid back stance at times, but it does occasionally rock and 'Force Of Nature' and 'Die With Me' are two such tracks. I may be out on my own saying this, but at times, Angeline reminds me a little of Vicky Johnson from our very own Winter In Eden. The band's Facebook can be found here
and I must say I rather like this. And it seems the Russians do too, as the band has just signed a Russian deal... 9/10 (Dave)
(Self Released) Reviewed 26th April 2013
Solsticio fronted by Caro hail from Buenos Airies and I suppose you would put them loosely into the Gothic Metal category. I reviewed their EP 'Winter Solstice' in February 2012 and I knew then that this band were going to be "one to look out for". Now I have the honour of being in Possession of their debut full length album 'Lost Souls', and this should certainly go down well with fans of the female fronted Gothic Rock and Metal scene. If I had to complain, there are only eight tracks, but what the hell, no filler all killer applies quite nicely here. 'Triumph' kicks the album off and is a quirky upbeat number, one of those songs that bounces around in your head long after it has finished. The title track is a piano led power ballad that still maintains a certain quirkyness about it, coupled with some awesome orchestration to give it a certain epic feel. 'Fairytale' is another quirky eccentric number with a masquerade feel at times, but it is a very powerful song with further majestic orchestration to boot. This is a very good start to this record and the impressive work continues with the track 'Greed' that offers up a slight progressive edge to proceedings. The second half of the album is equally impressive, 'Free' and 'Far Away' being up tempo and grandiose numbers and a couple of faves of mine from a rather good album. 'Celtic' and 'Mummer's Dance' close proceedings down, and it has to be noted that although the whole album is good, the second half seems to be a little more upbeat with perhaps more of an appeal to Gothic Metal fans out there. For a relatively unknown band in these parts, this is very good and I would very much recommend this. Their facebook is here
TIMO TOLKKI's AVALON...'THE LAND OF NEW HOPE'
(Frontiers) Reviewed 26th April 2013
It’s A.D. 2055 and most big cities of planet earth are either flooded with tsunamis or destroyed by earthquakes and fire. The whole infrastructure and communication system has broken down. The destruction is total. A small group of survivors leaves for a quest to find a sacred place known as “The Land Of New Hope”. It is an old fairytale that has been told since decades but very few has actually ever believed of its existence. They travel far on a journey that is full of dangers and come across a seer who guides them further. She explains to them that “The Land Of New Hope” does exist but it is guarded by a Keeper and only those who are pure in heart can pass him. They wander further towards their ultimate destiny. Former Stratovarius main songwriter and guitarist, Timo Tolkki has been silently preparing his musical revenge. Following a call in the summer 2012, from Frontiers Records President Serafino Perugino, Tolkki started writing a new album from scratch following an original concept discussed years ago between the artist and Perugino. The idea was to have a magniloquent metal / rock opera with some cinematic orchestrations to bring back the Stratovarius original sound in a more symphonic and grandiose fashion. Tolkki managed to gather some renowned singers around, with particular focus on one of the most talented young female singers, Elize Ryd (AMARANTHE) who has the lion’s share of the lead vocals on the album, plus a guest appearance from Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation), and opera vocals from Magdalena Lee. I will cut to the chase and say that this album is the business, all ten tracks being melodic, bombastic, epic and symphonic, all rolled into one, fantastic! My fave tracks being the bouncy 'Enshrined In My Memory', the exuberant 'Shine', the awesome power ballad 'I'll Sing You Home', and the closer and title track 'The Land Of New Hope'. The stunning artwork was specially created for this project by Stanis W. Decker which will be released in 2 versions – regular cd and deluxe edition, with a 30 minutes documentary “making of the album” and 2 promotional videoclips. A must buy - released 17th May in Europe and 21st May in Nth America...9/10 (Dave)
SKARLETT RIOT...'TEAR ME DOWN'
(Factory Music) Reviewed 25th April
I have known about Lincolnshire band Skarlett Riot for some while now, and for a band so young, they show a musical maturity that not only belies their young years, this maturity is going to propel them into the big time, and by all accounts they are well on their way there as well. 'Tear Me Down' is one helluva release that although will have some people comparing them to a heavier Paramore, there is no doubt that Skarlett Riot are simply Skarlett Riot, and indeed there are no comparisons to other bands within their field, simply no comparison. This 10 track debut full length release from this band is totally mind blowingly awesome. 'Faded Memory' and also the first single kicks this mighty record off, and the cards are laid on the table right from the onset - no fillers, just all killers as further up tempo and awesome melodic punchy hard rockers continue to hammer their way out of the speakers. Take a listen to 'Rock n Roll Queen' and the title track as just two examples from a cd chock full of them, and you will know what I mean. This band just has to be big and all I can say is bring on the big guns from the USA, as I am sure Skarlett Riot will beat them hands down any day! Stunning!! 9/10 (Dave)
(Valery Records) Reviewed 15th April 2013
Tystnaden was born in 1999. The sound of the band is a charming mix between aggressiveness and melody, giving the listener a modern dark gothic metal sound. Fronted by Laura De Luca with occasional growls from keyboards player Giancarlo Guarrera, this is a very commercial and accessible release from this Italian band. The opening salvo of 'Lust' and 'Struggling At The Mirror' is a very good way to kick off the album, two very catchy tunes, particularly the latter that tends to stick around in your head for a while. 'Egonist' and 'Days and Lies' are epic tunes with awesome vocals from Laura and are just a couple of my faves from the album - great choral parts in the latter!. As I said earlier in the review, this is a very commerical and accessible release, and this is confirmed throughout the remainder of the record, just listen to the rather nice ballad 'Father Mother', the heavy but catchy 'The Life Before' the rocker 'Innerenemy' (great strings) and closer 'The Journey'. The previous two releases by this band are good, but this record I feel is better. Check the video out to the aforementioned 'STRUGGLING AT THE MIRROR' here
. Great stuff and well recommended to lovers of the female fronted Gothic Metal scene and beyond!... 8.75/10 (Dave)
(Brennus Music) Reviewed 12th April 2013
With five years of existence, a demo, an album and many concerts in Switzerland and in France, Power Metal quintet Trophallaxy from Swizerland led by their singer and cellist Joëlle, are back this year with this their second album. This is more darker, more powerful and will undoubtedly do much more than confirm the hopes raised by 'DawnFall', their first album released in 2010 and acclaimed by the critics of the european metal scene. 'Ever Since' opens the album and is a Power metal masterpiece, with a progressive slant with male growls compliments of keyboardist Jonathan. 'Living Dead, Dying Alive' is another treat for Power Metal fans, as are further numbers like 'Scar Me To Death' (with awesome cello mid way - great stuff!), the melodic 'Nothing' that offers everything and 'Hellvetia'. The atmospheric synth intro to the symphonic melodic sounding 'Apologize For A Silence' is downright cool, and indeed, this is one of my fave numbers from the album, this track featuring just the vocals of Joëlle. If you like bands like Epica, Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius and Dream Theater, then add some occasional cello to the mix, this may well be up your alleyway....8/10 (Dave)
SAINTS OF RUIN...'ELEVATIS VELUM'
(Echozone) Reviewed 9th April 2013
One of my fave bands is Saints Of Ruin from the sunshine state of California, proving that Gothic Bands need not necessarily come from the wastelands of Scandinavia LOL! Seriously, this band fronted by Ruby Ruin has released yet another consistent record, to add to the previous array of two full length albums and one EP that have appeared in the past. The rule of "if it ain't broken why fix it" applies to this release, as the band throw at us 10 tracks of Melodic Gothic Rock to keep their previous fans happy, while hopefully bringing their music to a newer audience too. Stylistically, the band offer the listener a range of infectious tunes that vary between traditional Gothic Rock and modern Dance Rock, the vocals of Ruby Ruin being dynamic and charismatic throughout. Every track on here is a winner from the opener, the bouncy 'The Thirst', through mid to up tempo numbers like the catchy 'Tin Box', the awesome & bombastic 'Stand Alone' and the rather good 'Your Ruin', to mega ballads like the 7 mins + 'Boundless'. Saints Of Ruin should surely continue to grow following this release, and I highly recommend this album to all and sundry... 9/10 (Dave)
THE BLACK TEARS...'PHILOSOPHY OF PERCEPTION'
(Tear Records) Reviewed 6th April 2013
What I like about what I do here at Ravenheart Towers, is I can get "sneaky peeks" of music that sooner or later is to be released. I recently reviewed an album called 'Lacrimal Lake' by Midlands based The Black Tears. I now have three tracks that will form the EP 'Philosophy Of Perseption' that I am reviewing here. Opener 'Commitment' has to my ears a retro vibe harking back to the 70's, but dragged into the 21st century by this awesome band, and those vocals of Lischana Lane, damn cool! 'He Knows Love' kinda has that bar room blues vibe running through it, but it still rocks your frikin' socks off, while my fave from the EP, 'So Far Down' has that fuzzy guitar so commonly found within the early 90s Seattle scene. So what about the EP then? The songs here will not grab you on the first listen, so if you are after an instant fix, forget it! But give it repetitive plays, and you know you are onto a winner. This is not Gothic and it sure ain't Operatic or Symphonic, but it is grungy dirty hard rock, and I rather like it....8.5/10 (Dave)
(Self Release) Reviewed 3rd April 2013
Sündenrausch is a rock band from Hamburg, Germany, formed in November 2011. Five professional musicians started writing and playing music together, quickly realizing the band's ambition and potential. And that potential shines through in this their debut album. Fronted by a young lass who goes by the name Kira, the band offer the listener 8 tracks on this album of catchy rock wih huge melodies, which are sung also in their native tongue - awesome! 'Alles' is a great opener, with 'Starker' an up tempo and hideously catchy tune. Third up 'Wolfe In Der Stadt' maintains the momento and is a heavier number, but equally as addictive as the opening duo. I am rather liking this release as these songs are right up my alleyway! 'Zerrissen' is a piano led power ballad, while 'Beiss Mich' is another slowish number with a rather quirky catchy chorus. 'Flammen' is a ballad, taking on a more acoustic feel, with 'Falsches Spiel', being yet another rather addictive tune to set your feet tapping. Closer 'Bis Mein Herz Nicht Mehrschlagt' is just a haunting piano led ballad with string accompaniment. This release is a very good effort from this German band and they are well worth checking out here
. One issue - it is just a shame I have a limited understanding of the German language but great stuff nonetheless... 8.5/10 (Dave)
TRAIL OF TEARS...'OSCILLATION'
(Massacre Records) Reviewed 20th March 2013
This is the new and seventh album (together with bonus tracks) by the Norwegian gothic & dark metal masters TRAIL OF TEARS. Mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox (e.g., Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Children Of Bodom, Eternal Tears Of Sorrow) and with cover artwork by Jan Yrlund/Darkgrove Design, who has worked with Ravenheart Music on our most recent Weeping Silence release, this is an epic album by this well established Band. As with the band's previous release, Ronny Thorsen and Cathrine Paulsen share vocal duties. 'Waves of Existence' kick proceedings off, a thundering start showcasing the vocal talents of both vocalists. 'Scream Out Loud' is rather catchy if I may say so, a pounding guitar/synth driven number. The rather interestingly titled 'Crimson Leads On The Trail Of Tears' follows and takes a similar up tempo path to the previous tracks, with Ronny taking the main lead on this one. The album rarely slows down with the title track maintaining the momentum, although 'Path Of Destruction' is a slower number with Cathrine Paulsen letting rip with her awesome voice, that I must say on this number is also rather seductive. The pace quickens with 'Vultures Guard My Shadow' and 'The Dawning', while onwards to 'Lost In Life', and we find that this is an awesome orchestrated power ballad sung with real passion by Cathrine. 'Eradicate' is the pounding closer on the conventional release, but the digipak as two thumping bounus tracks - 'Sleep Forever' and 'Quick Fix of Shame'. 'OSCILLATION' is a good record from Ronny Thorsen and the crew, which I can who heartedly recommend when released on 26th April... 8.5/10 (Dave)
SERENITY...'WAR OF AGES'
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 18th March 2013
On their fourth album, the Austrian Symphonic Metal band dives deep into long forgotten centuries and draws the listeners attention to historical personalities like Henry VIII of England, Napoleon or Alexander the Great. Numerous concerts have matured the band’s songwriting skills and the interaction between the individual musicans. This is the reason why 'War of Ages' is filled with excellent and characteristic compositions and world-class refrains, for which the term "catchy" would be an understatement. The mixture of remarkable riffs, perfect timed variations from symphonic passages up to ballads, shows SERENITY’s ability to write haunting songs. The band has reached their musical and lyrical height and in particular Georg Neuhauser impresses with what could be his best vocal performance so far! And for all you female lovers out there, and that is why you are reading this (is it not?), Clementine Delauney guests on vocals. Some cracking numbers here including 'Wings Of Madness', 'Shining Oasis', the bombastic 'Age of Glory' and the catchy 'Tannenberg'. We then have the ballads 'For Freedom's Sake' and 'Royal Pain', both duets featuring Georg and Clementime. Friends of AVANTASIA or KAMELOT should lap this up, and therefore have to make sure to give this album a spin! But there again, everybody should go get this too - a great release!... 8.75/10 (Aimee)
TEARS OF MARTYR...'TALES'
(Massacre Records) Reviewed 15th March 2013
TEARS OF MARTYR fronted by female soprano singer Berenice Musa was formed back in the late 90’s on the Canary Islands (Spain). At that time the band had clearly a doom death flavour, but they already showed the key elements that can be easily identified nowadays, like the distinctive use of lead voices and classical orchestration arrangements to create their songs. Even though the metal scene in their homecountry was very small, the band kept growing and earned respect from the national media and attracted an ever-increasing fan base. In August 2012, TEARS OF MARTYR entered New Sin Studios in Loria, Italy, where they recorded this, their second full-length album. And what we have is ten tracks of epic Symphonic/Gothic Metal with harsh male vocals supplied by Miguel Ángel Marqués, who also takes on guitar duties. After the pounding opening duo of 'The Scent' and 'Golem', things slow up with the majestic and epic 'Mermaid & The Loneliness', with shades here of Tarja era Nightwish - very good indeed!! The pace picks up with the rather catchy'Vampires of the Sunset Street', while the folky vibe of 'Ancient Pine Awakes' brings a serene feel to proceedings. So far and so good - moving onto the second half of the album and can it get any better? Well, yes! 'Lost Boys' is a bombastic Symphonic effort, while 'A Fallen Hero' is a likeable mid tempo number. 'Of A Raven Born' has progressive fundamentals but has echoes again of Tarja's Nightwish together with choral elements. The closing duo of 'Wolves and a Witch' and the short instrumental 'Rain Into The Forest' (outro) are equally impressive, the former offering up some folk metal components. This is a well balanced, impressive and fresh mix for the listener, who will be immersed in a journey where the emotions play an important role. Great stuff and well recommended when released on 26th April... 8.75/10 (Dave)
(STF Records) Reviewed 11th March 2013
Expressive vocals, fast riffs and unique melancholic piano parts - that is TBC. On TBC's second album, which was recorded and produced in Germany, the five Austrians combine the classic vocals of Natasha with Steve's epic vocal contributions. The pensive lyrics and the music are perfectly united and result in artfully arranged songs. TBC provide Gothic-Symphonic Metal at it's best. The band musically lies somewhere between Nightwish and Metallica, but they still have their own constant and distinctive sound which is rather likeable I must say. There are some catchy very accessible numbers here including the single 'Your Way' - the video to that can be viewed here
. 'Gnade' is sung in their native tongue which showcases very well the vocal talents of both Natasha and Steve and is a great mid paced rocker in the process. 'Crystal Bride' is a Nightwish sounding number while 'Save Me' ups the tempo a touch - a catchy number featuring just mainly the vocals of Steve. Other songs that caught my attention was 'Lost', the rather cool 'Rush Of Antilogy', both featuring the TBC choir, the Metallica influenced (particularly at the start) 'My Sweet Hell' and the catchy closer 'Phonix' which is an extended bonus track. The album reflects the versatility of the band so why not check them out at www.tbc.cc/
THE BLACK TEARS...'LACRIMAL LAKE'
(TEAR RECORDS) Reviewed 9th March 2013
They call this ‘grunge-pop’, which is not a bad word for it. Accessible songs played with a sound that lies somewhere between heavy rock and garage, rather than harking back too much to early 90s Seattle. However, it has that dark, dirty vibe which is loud, frikin' heavy, rather melodic and it’s well played too. This Midlands (UK) based band is another band that is right on my own doorstep, but my radar has malfunctioned in picking this lot up. I must give my radar service guy a phone call. Seriously though, The Black Tears could give some of the Seattle monsters a fair old run for their money - and having said that, just give the tracks 'Well' and the up tempo 'Spoil Me Rotten', a listen and you will hear what I mean. We even get a gutsy guitar solo on the former! As mentioned above, the ten songs have a dark and dirty vibe which is well suited to the awesome vocals of Lischana Lane, who sure has a powerful set of lungs. I am rather taken by this release as it is a little different to most of the female fronted music that comes my way. So folks if you want to get down and dirty with some gritty rock music, give this a listen and check their Facebook here
- you will not be disappointed.... 8.25/10 (Dave)
TYRANNY OF HOURS...'S/T'
(Self Released) Reviewed 15th February 2013
Tyranny of Hours (www.tyrannyofhours.net
) is a Power-Progressive band based out of the Northwest United States. Going against the grain of the local music scene (primarily indy-rock, post grunge, blues and tribute bands), they united their influences of fusion and progressive rock with European metal to create their own brand of music. Featuring the soaring vocals of singer Michelle Mattair, Tyranny of Hours’ single “Amber” – released prior to this debut album, is generating rave reviews from regional and international press and fans alike. Anyway, what about the album? - 'What Is Free' is a thundering way to kick of the album, a great Power Metal track, and 'Above The Salt' maintains the tempo - power and melody all nicely wrapped in a neat little package. A fave number of mine, the aforementioned 'Amber' is next up, nicely followed by 'Legacy', which is another in my faves list. Michelle's vocals are awesome, and let us not forget the remaining members of the band, that drive the music along like an out of control express train. 'A Breath With Peace' (sung in Scottish Gaelic) as the title may suggest slows proceedings down, but the breather is brief before 'The Hapless Wand' kicks start the tempo again. 'Transvaal Sphere' delves into instrumental territory offering some awesome musician ship from all involved, great guitar and great atmospheric synths to end the track.'Vain Hope' takes a more Progressive route and is damn good, while the atmospheric and haunting 'The Warm' I am sure I have heard before, somewhere. The closing duo of the epic 7 minute + 'The Path That Lies Apart' and the 6 minute + 'Dark Symphony' end this rather good album, that confirms to me the quality of unsigned artists that is out there working hard to get noticed. To summarise, the album that is released April 5th, features 11 songs varying from powerful progressive instrumentals to stunning ethereal vocal-scapes to epic symphonic metal scores and is well worthy of 8.75/10 (Dave)
SEVEN NAILS...'FACTORY OF DREAMS'
(Self Release) Reviewed 8th February 2013
This German band were founded in 2010 by singer Daniela and have grown into a septet with a three voice attack, she is joined by violinist/vocalist Marion and clean gothic rock singer Julian. Their male/female vocal combination and the use of violin draws comparison with fellow German gothic metallers Regicide, but there is also a strong gothic rock, doom and prog rock tinge to their style as well. The well recorded sound has an earthy live feel to it, as if they are kicking up storm in your living room, with drummer Johannes beating seven bells out of his drum kit. The songs develop organically, almost psychedelic at times, with the singers combining with Marion's violin, guitarist Mathias and keyboardist Tim to stir up a swirling maelstrom of sound featuring creepy sound effects, it's accessible but daring. The album is roughly divided into three parts, although every song is expansive and goes through several moods. After the spooky intro the opening trio starting with title track 'Factory of Dreams' really rock along menacingly, before the album becomes darker, more dramatic and more brooding with tracks such as 'Pfaraos Call' and 'The Way To The Butterflies' with the use of gothic flanged guitars. 'Let Me Breath' picks it up for the final third which includes the splendid 'Phantoms' and the last track 'Eyes of Medusa' has an eerie hidden instrumental finale. I would have liked to have heard more use of three part harmonies, and Julian's somewhat monotone voice can drag the music down, he should take more of a back seat and let the girls shine. Seven Nails have produced a most intriguing and adventurous gothic rock/metal album with a unusual melange of styles. You will find their factory of dreams here
- a daring 8.5/10 (Phil)
THE HOURGLASS...'REQUIEM' EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 14th January 2013
Eastern Europe seems to be sending us some awesome music at the moment, and the latest to drop into Ravenheart Music is an EP from the Romanian Band The Hourglass. Fronted by the awesome Alma Vomastek, whose dramatic vocal style is similar to that of a certain Tarja (ex Nightwish), the band on this EP throw at us 5 tracks of Symphonic/Operatic Metal to awaken the senses, and make us realise why we got into this style of music in the first place. The title track is the curtain raiser, and I am immediately impressed by the voice of Alma. 'Dies Irae' has a rather cool church bell/choral intro that I just love, so atmospheric and again Alma's voice really adds drama to the music. This girl can take this band places, and although I am full of praise for the singer, the remainder of the band kick ass too. 'The Fall' has a kinda music box intro, and indeed is one of my fave tracks on this EP, a more sophisticated and possibly a more industrial sounding number. 'In Remembrance' is another fave, a great melodic rocker that pounds along rather nicely, while closer 'Way Home' sends us all home with smiles on our faces. This EP is rather good if I may say so, and is well worth checking out. Go to their Facebook
and take a look!...8.75/10 (Dave)
SCARLET CANARY...'DISTORTED REALITY'
(Self Release) Reviewed 10th January 2013
Back in October 2011, I reviewed an album by this Colarado based band and I admit I was impressed. Now a four track EP has come my way, and I am as equally impressed by what is on offer here. Fronted by Hannah Haze, this band sure hit the spot with this EP. Hard Rock that kicks ass, but with a good dose of melody to boot. 'Distorted Reality' is the curtain raiser and this track is becoming a fave of mine. 'Mark of The Beast' roars out of the speakers like the beast it is - totally awesome. 'Breathe' with it's awesome chorus maintains the tempo while closer 'Nightmare' closes the curtain on this little opus. The band list their influences as Skillet, Halestorm, 3 Days Grace, In this Moment and Bullet for my Valentine, and these bands should give a fair indication as to the path they are taking. Their Facebook is here
. Great stuff... 8.5/10 (Dave)
TOKYO WITCH HUNT...'ELECTIC ELECTRIC'
(Self Released) Reviewed 2nd January 2013
Back in July 2008 I reviewed an album by Izzie Voodoo called 'The Push'. That album I categorised as Dark Electronica Pop Music. Now she is back fronting a Barnsley/Sheffied based band, Tokyo Witch Hunt. They bring us a flamboyant array of songs described as "super danceable", with tracks ranging from "moody and enticing" to those filled with "euphoria and desire". And how true that is too - this is a good album that should interest many a nightclub DJ, and strictly speaking, should also grab the attention of mainstream radio if there was any justice in this world. There are some up tempo dance floor numbers like 'Lightshow', 'Fastlane', 'Escape', 'Snowpop' and 'Wasted', whilst Izzie also throws in a slower, sensual and rather haunting song - 'Dusk In The Woods'. With Izzie taking on vocals (and I just love her innocent and at times sensual vocal style), keys, samples, guitar and sequencing, being joined by ‘CrAsh’ Barwick on bass & keys, plus the occasional backing singer, it is obvious that this girl has talent. Okay, this may not be to everybody's liking if you are more metal orientated, but if you are open minded regards your music, then this could well be right up your alleyway. Check the website out HERE
... 8/10 (Dave)
SEDUCE THE HEAVEN...'FIELD OF DREAMS'
(Self Release) Reviewed 31st December 2012
SEDUCE THE HEAVEN from Greece was formed in mid 2009 by guitarist Alex Flouros and soon joined by the awesome lyrical soprano Elina Laivera on vocals. In the following months, a full album consisting of 10 tracks had already been prepared for the recording process. The band combines powerful elements of Melodic/Death, Metal-Core, Power and Symphonic elements in a unique, technical and brutal, yet very melodic way, with male growls courtesy Marios Mizo. And I must emphasise the word "melodic"! So what we have here is an explosive mix of metal music spread across the ten tracks, with the five minute plus 'Reflection' getting things started in a mad frenzied fashion but with a melodic chorus to boot, and a great guitar solo - ooohhh, this is so good! And with barely enough time to recover your breath, along comes 'Walls of Oblivion' and 'Leave Me Alone' that steamroller out of your speakers like a Japanese Bullet Train! There is no let up either throughout the remainder of the album with enough energy to light up the streets of London. Picking out any highlights from this record is a difficult task, but I do quite like the mid tempo 'Field of Dreams', the number 'Falling' featuring just the vocals of Elina and the closer 'In Close Distance', a very good piano led ballad that closes the album on a softer more tranquil note. 'Field of Dreams' is released January 15th, the band's Facebook is here
and I would suggest checking this band out. This record is damn good and should be a good New Year's purchase! 9/10 (Dave)
TATIANA'S NIOVI...'BREATH OF LIGHT'
(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 17th December 2012
Greek goddess Tatiana Manolidou comes from a family of musicians, and has studied piano,vocal and theory of music since her early years. She has composed music for the Greek theatre and TV, as well performing many concerts in Greece and Cyprus. Most of the lyrics are written by professional poet Cindy L Spear who has worked with the likes of Lisa Fury, Last Knight, Iona and Mandalaband, her words perfectly capturing the spirit of Tatiana's music, and some of the production was performed by Bob Katsionis, the guitarist/keyboardist from the top metal band Firewind. Her music swirls around Silent Force era Within Temptation, Vic Anselmo, Karnataka, Elane and Clannad to create a unique Celtic symphonic rock/metal infusion. She has a warm, pure, but expressive voice, her tremor similar to Vic Anselmo's, and she can also perform some remarkable vocal gymnastics, not like an overcooked Leona Lewis soul diva, but more like the call of a siren. Beginning with the blissful Celtic intro 'Breath of Light', we are treated to a trio of sumptuous multi-faceted symphonic rock/metal numbers 'When I'm Lost' (video on Female Voices), 'Oh Love' and 'Tree of My Trees' where Tatiana shows she can also do operatic. 'Mana' reminds me of a Clannad/Kells soundscape, 'My Lonely Prince' is a fairytale adventure, then the superb 'Ring of Darkness and the fantastic 'When We Dance'. The album then becomes more mellow with the sublime 'A Prayer', the heavenly ballad 'Your Love' and the touching piano number 'Island of Gods', before being rounded off with Tatiana showing her film score credentials with the mystic eastern flavoured 'Kyrie' and the poignant haunting 'Epilogue: the Shadow and the Sea'. It's all beautifully orchestrated, produced and performed, and the music is allowed to breathe, rising and falling in intensity and volume. This is the sort of album that crosses the bridge between my heritage in melodic prog rock and my love of modern symphonic metal, in short, pure heaven. And I am not alone, everyone who has heard her music has been enraptured, this is an album of classic songs with colossal universal appeal. You will find her waiting for you at her Facebook
, a sumptuous 9.5/10.
(Self Released) Reviewed 16th December 2012
Russia throw at us another impressive band who go by the name of SilverCast. Fronted by the attractive Veronica 'Alternica' Moguilev-Volskaya, this Saint Petersburg band deliver Melodic Metal at it's finest, with varying degrees of Gothic and Power Metal to be found within the eleven tracks that the band has to offer on this release. The vocals are strong with more of a pop/rock vibe than the in yer face operatics that we have come to expect from some acts within the genre. 'The Steps Of Perfect Silence' kick things off rather perfectly, a great choral intro, and a thumping Melodic Power Metal number to boot togther with a great choral back drop! This is the kinda opener that makes me think 'Wow and this band are unknown?' And the pace does not let up as second up 'Mechanical Heart' kicks in - great keys on this one. 'Labyrinth' is sung presumably in the band's native tongue and is a great melodic rocker, while the 'Name of Chaos'sees keyboardist Max Kazunka being let loose on the piano, and continues the high standard set by the previous numbers! In-fact the quality by and large does not let up with further awesome numbers like 'Alexandrite', 'Crystal Flowers' (again sung in their native tongue) and the catchy and rather good closer 'Last Flight'. This album is a very good effort from this band and for anybody into Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation and Nightwish to name just three, this album just has to be checked out. Rather amazing if I may say so from this relatively unknown Russian band, visit their website
... 9/10 (Dave)
TOTHEM...'BEYOND THE SEA'
(Self Release) Reviewed 28th November 2012
Tothem from Rome have a history going back to the early noughties, releasing a self titled EP in 2003, but they then broke up. Fast forward to 2010 and guitarist Black Cyril and vocalist Roslen decide to reform the band with three new members, bassist Leo, drummer Andrea The Joker and keys man Marco. They are a band of many colours, from full on metal to light symphonic gothic, you will hear echoes of great Italian band like Souls of Diotima, Solisia, Silent Opera, Sin Deadly Sin, Evenoire, Teodasia, etc., but blended in Tothem's unique refreshing way. In perfect unison ravishing Roslen can change her vocal style without blinking, from Amy Lee alternative, to Sharon Den Adel semi operatic, to Tarja soprano, to all points between, from innocent child to grand opera dame. The songs sail from light reflection to rocking up a storm to operatic grandeur, making for an absorbing listening experience. They don't mess about with an intro, but launch into the raging riffage of opener 'Run to You', they then assail you with the more lilting lyrical but still powerful numbers 'Smile Again', 'Smile', and 'Still', big power ballads 'Light of Soul' and 'So Close So Far Away', songs that are a touch more 'folky' 'This is the Time' and lead single 'The Witch', mini epics that run the gamut 'Fight With You' and title song 'Beyond the Sea', and the catchy rocking 'Cross The Line', probably my favourite tune. I went to do the washing up after the Eastern flavoured final track 'Where the Angels', five minutes later I had the fright of my life, I thought an opera singer had broken into the house, but is was only Roslen returning with a brief vocal solo, phew! The sound is good and well produced but a bit guitar heavy which stops it from becoming fully symphonic, I personally would have liked to have heard more from Marco. Tothem have set sail with a terrific well crafted album that is sure to find an anchorage in the harbours of all discerning metal fans. Their port can be found here
, a seafaring 9/10 (Phil)
(e.a.r Music /Edel) Reviewed 21st November 2012
This is Tarja live spread over 2 cds, and there is a dvd too. And we all know who Tarja is, unless one has been living in a cave for the past few years! This is awesome so do I really need to say anymore. It just sends shivers down my spine and if you are into female fronted rock and metal, this is a must buy and it is the best £10 I have spent for a while (from HMV at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre). So tell you what, just go out and buy it from HMV or your friendly local cd retailer!! One gripe, despite the music being live, there are fades between the tracks. But what the heck - this is breathtakingly beautiful, absolutely amazing and proves that Tarja can cut it on her own, but we knew that anyway. Act II? bring it on!! - 10/10 (Dave)
SENSE OF CREATION...'FORSAKEN ERA'
(Self Release) Reviewed 14th November 2012
Sense of Creation is a Gothic Symphonic Metal band from London, founded by Lukasz Lowkis in 2009. Composer and multi-instrumentalist Lukasz began his professional music training at the age of seven, first mastering piano, and then clarinet, guitar, bass and drums. After his studies at the National Music School in Biesko Biala (Poland), he decided to move to the UK in order to create his own project. And Sense of Creation is it! Fronted by Elisa Tomaselli, this three track EP is an awesome introduction to this band, and to be perfectly honest, on this showing, they could quite easily compete with what mainland Europe has to throw at us. Opener 'Doesn't Matter' is a Gothic Symphonic number, hideously catchy but a little on the short side at just a shade over 3 minutes. 'Sorrow' is a slower number, while 'Hidden By The Light' is to me the highlight on this little EP - an upbeat rockin' Gothic Metal number. I would like to hear more as and when it becomes available, but for now, this little offering is a worthy workout and introduction to this band. See them here
- 8/10 (Dave)
SCHOOLCRAFT...'RUSHING THROUGH THE SKY'
(Arcane Records) Reviewed 16th October 2012
With the release of her first EP 'Rushing Through The Sky', Lindsay Schoolcraft (singer with Mary and the Black Lamb and herself musically known as Schoolcraft) describes it as “dark, beautiful, elegant, humble, and smart”. Thanks to contributing musicians such as Daedalus (Daedalean Complex) for orchestral collaboration and Kitty Thompson (Johnny Hollow) on cello, she was able to achieve her vision. Schoolcraft’s sound was honed from her years at The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto), where she received classical training in voice and piano. Albums such as Evanescence’s 'The Open Door', We Are The Fallen’s 'Tear The World Down', Bjork’s 'Vespertine', and Within Temptation’s 'The Silent Force' also were huge influences during the writing and recording process. Don't expect huge choruses, massive drums or crunching guitars on this album, but what you do get are 7 charming tracks of Gothic/Symphonic/Ambient music, with Schoolcraft's voice totally magnificent, and this compliments the music so well. Opener 'Into The Night' is a stunner, which is followed by the recently released single 'Your Mind' with it's stunning piano and orchestration elements, literally bringing tears to my eyes. The beauty continues with 'December Rain', another piano led number, while the cello plays it's part in 'You Forever'. The quirky 'Masquerade' is rather cool, while 'Darkness Falls' just maintains the beauty that this little epic cd has to offer. The album closes with the instrumental version of 'December Rain', and if there was a word or two to describe this music, let us just say "stunning and delightful". This cd which lyrically is very personal to Lindsay has pulled at my heart strings..enough said, so check her out here
, 9/10 (Dave).
(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 15th October 2012
Formed in 2006 in Rome by keys man Wilson Di Geso and drummer Marcantonio Quinto, Solisia debuted with their awesome 2010 release ‘Ordinary Fate’. Now they have really engaged the turbo boosters on this new collection of earth shaking melodic prog power metal with symphonic flourishes, marked with a shift towards Gianluca Quinto's guitars. However, brand new singer elegant Elie Syrelia (she's so new, she's still XXX on their Facebook) gives them a very different, more expressive, almost Evanescence/Lacuna Coil esque alt-metal slant, she's something like Sy Armonight mixed with Amy Lee and Christina Scabbia, not the usual operatic or semi-operatic singer you normally get in this genre, which puts them out on their own. It's certainly an unusual mix of Elie's emotive vocals and the bands guitar driven powerful metal, put the two together, and you get Solisia. All the songs are tied together with a theme based on the condition of the human race, and propelled along once again by Simone Mularoni's thunderous production. They would make great James Bond themes, they have that instrumental dynamism coupled with Elie's belting vocals, pummelling the speakers to within a inch of their lives. They don't mess about, you are catapulted into the opening salvo of title track 'Universeasons' and the tumultuous 'The Guns Fall Silent'. But the bands falls anything but silent as they then hit you with massive stomping tunes like 'Kiss the Sky' and 'All I Want', which has a hint of Phantom of the Opera, full throttle thrill rides such as 'Mind Killer' and 'Dirty Feeling', and the humongous power ballad 'Betrayed by Faith'. Solisia will leave you shaken and stirred, this is powerful emotive metal that will blow your socks off. You will uncover them at this location
, an explosive 8.75/10 (Phil)
THRISTANA...'DEVIL'S DESTINY' EP
(Self Released) Reviewed 19th Sepetember 2012
An interesting offering here from this Hungarian band. Fronted by Anna Király, this three track EP offers up some Prog Influenced Symphonic Metal. Furthermore, after having listened to this cd, I am pleasantly surprised by what is on offer. The 7 minute plus opener which is the title track has an intro that sounds a little like early Within Temptation, before the song becomes a Melodic Progressive thumper, with a great piano led choral interlude and guitar solo during the send portion of the song. and I can imagine this number going down well in a live scenario. 'Devotion For Dreams' is another up tempo Progressive song with a great chorus while closer 'Our Never Ending Story'is a piano led ballad featuring quite simply the piano, strings and Anna's awesome vocals. This to me is a band worth keeping an eye on in the future. Get a taster for the EP here
. 8/10 (Dave)
TRIAXIS...'RAGE & RETRIBUTION'
(Rocksector Records) Reviewed 13th September 2012
'Rage & Retribution' is the follow up to the band's self released and well received debut 'Keys To The Kingdom'. And what we have here is the totally outstanding and powerful female vocals compliments of Krissie Kirby, serving up 11 tracks and over 50 minutes of powerful Melodic Metal with a Progressive edge, that leaves the listener gasping for breath. Triaxis have thrown down the gauntlet to bands like Holyhell and Crystal Viper informing the world that Britain has got talent, and some frikin good Welsh Metal talent at that too I might add!! To single out any highlights would be a complete waste of time, as the eleven tracks are all in the high class category from the bombastic opener 'Sand & Silver', through the massive power balladry of 'Asunder', the Progressive Metallic edge of 'And Shadows Creep' with its awesome chorus and cool acoustic outro, the live fave 'Sker Point', right through to the closer 'Some Things Are Worth Dying For'. There is certainly no let up to the intensity of the music on this record and to me Triaxis has come of age. This album is deserving of one's attention when released on the 8th October and comes well recommended from the crew at Ravenheart Towers. Check them out here
SACRED GROOVE...'NEEDFUL THINGS'
(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd August 2012
This German band have their origins back in the 1990's, but it wasn't until 2009 that they released their self titled début, now they are back with a new singer and album. Sacred Groove are the sort of band that perfectly illustrates the difference between male and female fronted metal. Firstly, beautiful Isabel Willenberg has an equally beautiful voice and she sings the melody, the whole melody and nothing but the melody, relying on tone, intonation and inflection, in fact she also released an acoustic album 'Vertraulich' in 2010 showing that she comes from a different musical background, this style is in marked contrast to the White/Dickinson/Halford etc. etc. school of hairy men screaming that dominates male fronted. Secondly, there are keyboards to add variety to the sound, something sadly lacking in male fronted, and lastly there is a subtlety and diversity, it's not permanently pedal to the metal at volume 11, easing off during the verses with nice use of flange guitar, and then powering up for the choruses. In short, male fronted, they would be a very different beast. Sacred Groove are not going to win any awards for originality, but that's not the intention, they simply want to entertain you with an immensely enjoyable and attractive collection of rockers, lying somewhere between heavy rock and melodic metal, that will have you bobbing your head and tapping your toe, they sum it up perfectly, “Sacred Groove stands for energetic and ear catching songs with fat groove”, nuff said. Highlights in this consistent set include the strutting opener 'Angel in the Sky' (video on Female Voices), the galloping 'Unholy House', the more power metallish 'Nature of the Beast', the swaying 'This Way Called' Life', the anthemic 'Deep In His Mind', and it wouldn't be complete without the classic building ballad 'Broken Flower'. If you want an album of catchy melodic rockers with a solid groove, look no further, strut your way along to their facebook here
, a needful 8.5/10 (Phil)
SHADOWICON...'EMPIRE IN RUINS'
(Self Release) Reviewed 25th July 2012
Showing that symphonic metal is spreading across the world, this Slovenian band were formed by guitar playing friends Tomaž Lovšin and Bojan Kostanjšek in 2006. This début album shows colossal ambition, a historical epic that tells the true story (not the Shakespeare version) of the war between Anthony and Cleopatra against Octavian (born Octavius, later called Augustus) who became first emperor of Rome, which resulted in the destruction of the Egyptian Empire, hence the title of the album, and you can read about it in great detail in the booklet. Fittingly their music is also epic symphonic metal, taking elements of bands like Rawkfist, Ideas, Edenbridge, Wildpath and especially Lunatica to create their cinematic soundtrack to this classic tale of love and war. Jule's drumming uses double peddling very sparingly, when it is used is the light French fluttering galloping style buried in the mix, and their Queen of the Nile Ana Prijatelj has a lovely angelic voice somewhere between Ailyn and Andrea Datwyler, so their music never gets into full power metal Ancient Bards/Rhapsody territory, but is just as gladius waving epic. The album is comprised of thirteen towering mighty multi-faceted blockbusters packed with Tomaž and Bojan's intricate inspirational guitar work and decorated with Peter Smrdel's majestic orchestral keyboards and florid synths, it's all extremely lively, melodic and catchy, but also adventurous, imaginative and creative, with a suitably mystic eastern vibe and fascinating lyrics. The scene is set with Caesar's treacherous assassination, 'On The Ides of March' (great song), as Caesar himself so succinctly put it, “infamy infamy, they've all got it in for me”. A series of terrific tunes including the splendid 'Eastbound' takes you through the events leading up to 'The Alliance' (superb number) between the lovers Anthony and Cleopatra, and the pivotal 'Battle of Actium', a massive and dramatic 4 parter as befits a conflict that involved a staggering 400,000 soldiers. The repercussions are portrayed by the final songs, resulting in the tragic deaths of Anthony and Cleopatra in the 'End Of Days' (another outstanding track), and we end with their legacy, 'Immortal', which includes a hidden reprise of 'Battle of Actium' to round things off and it is a worthy testament to the mind boggling amount of time, creativity and effort put into it by the whole band. Their forum can be found here
, a heroic 9.25/10 (Phil)
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