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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS U-Z

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VISIONS OF ATLANTIS…’OLD ROUTES - NEW WATERS’

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 4th April 2016

Visions Of Atlantis set sail for uncharted waters in 2013: Thomas Caser – the only remaining founding member – he completely overhauled the ship with vocal duo Siegfried Samer and Clémentine Delauney plus returning veterans Chris Kamper, Werner Fiedler and Mike Koren on board. Now, these reborn symphonic power metal giants have only one thing on their minds: to revive the glorious sound of the band's first three albums, 'Eternal Endless Infinity', 'Cast Away' and 'Trinity'! Heralding an upcoming full-length album is this EP, which features classic fan favourites from the aforementioned records – completely re-recorded, remixed and remastered. The tracks featured are ‘Lovebearing Storm’ (Eternal Endless Infinity), ‘Lost’ (Cast Away), ‘Winternight’ (Cast Away), ‘Seven Seas’ (Trinity) and ‘Last Shut Of Your Eyes’ (Cast Away), all given an overhaul. Released 29th April, this record is worth checking out for all and sundry, and if you are unfamiliar with Visions of Atlantis and want a taster, most certainly check this EP out.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

VOLKER...S/T

(Kaotoxin/Seasons of Mist) Reviewed 28th March 2016

Formed in 2015 by three OTARGOS members and ex-NOEIN singer, VOLKER is all about mixing Cold Wave, Dark Goth/Death Rock and Cold Metal, playing with dead things in the darker of night during the cold of winter, yet with the unstoppable strength of cold flesh just revived from the grave and having a certain gothic fetish for filthy pleasures. Mmmmmmm, filthy pleasures eh? well that is what it says on the press release anyway that Dave gave me, that is not me saying that LOL. Four tracks on this EP that will either have you over the moon with Gothic joy or hiding behind the sofa looking for a visit from a dead thing from the dark of night. Indeed, opener 375 405 is a haunting near 40 second intro before track number 2 'Bitch' blasts out of the speakers, an up tempo blast of Gothic/Death Rock to welcome you to the land of Volker. And to be honest, it is rather good with a sorta melodic feel as it pounds along at a near unstoppable pace. 'Pavor Nocturnus' slows it down a bit, more of a darker feel, screamo/growly vocals in the chorus, but still surprisingly good I must add. Closer 'Zombie Heart' ups the ante again and is another up tempo number that again despite the heaviness that this band and number possess, still exhibits a melodic sensibility. Whether this is the intention of the band or not, I do not know, but what I do know, is that this EP showcases the immensely broad spectrum the band aims at covering with their forthcoming debut full-length, tentatively planned for early 2017. Watch this space! 8/10 (Hannah Cooper)

VISIONATICA…’FORCE OF LUNA’

(Dr Music Records/Soulfood) Reviewed 24th March 2016

Led by the almighty singing she-wolf Amara Avodem, VISIONATICA from southern Germany are heading straight into the premier league of Symphonic Metal. With Amara’s fantastic crystal clear soprano vocals, combined with the powerful grooves, melodic guitars, as well as impressive orchestral elements of her allies, this musical pack blows up a lot of dust in the scene with this their debut. The band has created an album that tells stories about wolves, visions, lies, myths and much more. They underline the whole thing with epic arrangements, formed from mighty orchestral parts, demanding guitar riffs as well as bass lines and precise drumming. Above all of this Amara’s wonderfully concise soprano singing is enthroned within the nine tracks showcased here. Kicking off with the awesome ‘Swamp of the World’ this band means business, vocally the opener (as do others) reminding these ears of Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation). And the band starts how it means to go on, a further 8 awesome cuts of prime time Symphonic Metal that will have fans of Xandria, Within Temptation and Nightwish (among others) enjoying fits of total orgasmic pleasure. In summary, Visionatica has recorded an album chock full of impressive Symphonic Metal music that will cast a bewildering spell over everyone who listens to it. Well recommended – note the release date in your diaries, 20th May! The band’s facebook is here… 9.25/10 (Dave)

WORSHIP OF KERES…’BLOODHOUNDS FOR OBLIVION’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th March 2016

Worship of Keres from California is a melodic doom metal band formed by lead guitarist Matthew Woods Wilhoit and collectively joined by Elise Tarens (vocals), Mike Riot (rhythm guitar), Robert Lander (bass), and rounding out the line up featured on the EP; Trevor William Church on drums. The classic influences of the band through heavy and doom metal bands are in the way of Angel Witch, Candlemass, and Judas Priest. Of the modern and more recent influences there are notes of Witchfinder General, Pagan Altar, Coven, Uriah Heep, and Blood Ceremony. This is the second album I have reviewed today that swings towards the heavier end of the metal spectrometer, and like Universe217 is a rather cool album (EP) with clean female vocals from Elise. Only three tracks though simply titled 'Book 1', 'Book 2' and 'Book 3'. I must also add that Matthew on lead guitar can sure shred it when he wants too. Check them out here… 7.75/10 (Hannah Cooper)

UNIVERSE217…’CHANGE’

(Van Records) Reviewed 15th March 2016

In case you didn’t know, the Greek rock & metal scene has been thriving during the last few years. Universe217 is one of the best and most vibrant bands in the particular scene, with lots of gigs and steadily frequent record releases. Since 2007 the band has released 3 full-length albums, 2 EPs and 2 split-7" singles. This, the band's new fourth album is going to be released on CD & LP by Ván Records throughout Europe, on Friday, March 18th. Consisting of seven tracks, the band has frequently heard their music linked to doom, post rock/metal, drone, psych, atmospheric, ambient etc. However, this is not regarded by this Greek foursome as “protective shells” under which it can feel complacent about its music, but more like “creative playgrounds” where Universe217 can express freely, experiment or even confront genre limits and standards. This specific mentality combined with the band’s baritone, heavy sound and the amazingly outstanding voice of female singer Tanya, results in a highly distinctive, personal music style. And having listened to this record, Tanya sure has a fine set of lungs, although I will tend to use the term “thinking person’s music” when trying to describe what is on this album. Just sit down, enjoy a few beers, a smoke and enjoy! You certainly won’t be dancing around your dining room on your pogo stick LOL. Check Bandcamp out here…well worth looking into for those that like their music on the heavy and atmospheric side… 8.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

UNIVERSAL MIND PROJECT…’THE JAGUAR PRIEST’

(Inner Wound Recordings) Reviewed

Founded in 2012 by guitarist and composer Michael Alexander, UNIVERSAL MIND PROJECT began as a collaborative project between musicians from all around the globe to finally shape into a band with a solid nucleus, consisting of Elina Laivera and Henrik Båth [Darkwater] on vocals, Michael Alexander on guitars and growls and Alex Landenburg [Luca Turilli's Rhapsody] on drums. In a mix of perfectly executed modern progressive/power metal combined with the unique diversity of male and female vocals that stylistically spread from lyrical and fragile to soothing and powerful, as well as the use of growl vocals at parts. The album was composed by Michael Alexander and Elina Laivera and a lot of hard work was put into writing the best possible vocal lines for each guest vocalist gracing different songs on the album. The result is truly rewarding. Apart from Elina Laivera and Henrik Båth, the album also includes performances by Nils K Rue [Pagan’s Mind], Mark Jansen [Epica, Mayan], Charlie Dominici [ex. Dream Theater] and Diego Valdez [Helker] -forming an incredibly powerful team of vocalists, each of whom add their own distinctive style to the songs. And those songs kick off with ’Anthem For Freedom’, and this is an awesome taste of melodic Prog Metal with a rather nice catchy chorus, whilst second track ‘Truth’ ups the Power Metal ante and maintains the awesome start to the record. And it continues through the metallic ‘The Bargain Of Lost Souls’, the beautiful ‘Awakened By The Light’, and the piano/string led ballad ‘A World That Burns’ (lovely vocals from Elina). There are also epic progressive tracks that include the title track ’The Jaguar Priest’ and ‘The Force of Our Creation’, both running in at over 8 minutes - awesome stuff! Expressed through catchy hooks, bursting riffs, killer guitar and keyboard duets, as well as super melodic choruses performed by top names of the metal scene, the sensational power-sound of UNIVERSAL MIND PROJECT has come to blast your speakers off and is destined to capture full attention within the metal music community. Released 29th April, everything on this record is well worth the anticipated spend… 9.25/10 (Dave)

WINTER'S END...'LOST IN THE LIGHT' EP

(Self released) Reviewed 19th February 2016

I do sometimes find that Symphonic Metal bands from the USA do not quite reach the dizzy heights reached by their European counterparts, generally as bands there tend to go for a more heavier guitar orientated sound. However, Winter's End are trying to change all that with this their recently released 5 track EP. Classically trained Berklee graduate Jessica Frost's impressive range soars above layers of sounds to create a sonic experience that is as familiar as it is unique. This is a decent effort from the Boston based band. Okay, it has to be said that to my ears, there is some fine tuning that can be done to the band's sound, but overall this ain't bad, and if the band keep the faith, who knows! Check out their Bandcamp here, but it is my pleasure to review new material by up and coming bands.. 7.5/10 (Dave)

ZHIVA…’EVELYN’S LETTERS FROM HELL’ EP

(Digital distro by Spinnup) Reviewed 18th February 2016

ZHIVA is a metal/hard rock band from Sweden formed in 2002, with the main members Mats Edström and Anette Johansson. 3 albums were released during 2002-2006: SHIVA - self titled (2002); SHIVA - Desert Dreams (2004); SHIVA - The curse of the gift (2006), after which the band decided to take a break. But for the love of the music created from the great co-operation between them, Anette and Mats came together again in 2015, now under the name ZHIVA. The reason to spell the name a little different was to mark the start of something new but still the same. In 2016, 10 years after the break, ZHIVA is now releasing their first EP called 'Evelyn´s letters from Hell'. And with Anette's awesome powerhouse vocals at the helm, this is one helluva 4 track release it has to be said! Every number here is a real corker in its own right, from the blistering melodic feel of the opening track ‘Haunted’, the pounding title track, the symphonic sounding ballad ‘City of Stone’ and the closing track ‘Broken’ with its catchy chorus. This little release should please lovers of female fronted melodic metal and indeed a wider fan base too. Zhiva’s website is here, this is recommended… 8.75/10 (Dave)

VAN HALST…’WORLD OF MAKE BELIEVE’

(Self Released) Reviewed 31st January 2016

Van Halst is a fierce, empowering force of hard rock fused with metal. Although their name draws the image of a European band, this ensemble hails from Edmonton, Alberta. The band’s influences stay true to Goth Rock, leading lady Kami Van Halst demonstrates an agile vocal delivery in combination with occasional pummelling growls. Lyrically, the band draws from black metal due to its focus on people suffering from isolation and rising to overcome the preconceptions of a judgemental society. This is a rather good release offering up 10 tracks of hard hitting Rock & Metal infused with a strong melodic sensibility. The vocals of Kami Van Halst are just incredible, similar to Amy Lee of Evanescence, plus we have the shredding hooks that are sure to make you bounce your head up and down! If you're a fan of bands like In This Moment, Evanescence and Halestorm, then with highlights galore, I highly recommend checking Van Halst out - released March 4th but get a taster here … 9/10

WORMHOLE…’SONGS FROM THE COUNTER ISLAND’

(Ghostrecord Label/Crash Sound) Reviewed 9th January 2016

Songs from the Counter Island is a refined collection of postcards from the Milky Way, in which Wormhole take one step forward to experimentation and one step back to the essential atmospheres of the gothic/wave tradition applied to a wall of sound which is consistently heavy. A concept album which follow a cosmic ellipsis, from the broken dreams of Ylla (the main character of a tale by Ray Bradbury), to the counter island of the title, which is a tribute to a legend rooted in the band’s homelands. Noteworthy, the final speech that brings Ylla back into action quotes again the planet where it all started, that third stone from the Sun from which we all hail. This five piece band is fronted by Valentina Marvulli and they offer up nine tracks on this record of rock/metal music that follows the concept mentioned above, all with a little progressiveness thrown into the mix. Kicking off with the mid to up tempo ‘Dawn of Deimos‘, this record is good. ’Lost In The Blue’ is a lovely track featuring strings with the tempo resuming with the number ‘Traveller In Darkness’. ‘Death Star Nemesis’ is a pounding rocker while overall, I think it must be said that there is not really a filler on this, Wormhole’s second full length album, as they are all killer tracks. Worth checking out… 8.75/10 (Dave)

UNDER SOCIAL…’LONG STRANGE TRIP’

(Self Released) Reviewed 5th January 2016

This is the long awaited debut album from USA (West Virginia) based Under Social who came to fruition in 2012. This album being influenced by classic rock and old metal looped in with a current spin and with female vocals to boot, compliments of the rather kool and may I say rather poppy vocal style of leading lady Stacee Lawson, who also takes control of the rhythm guitar. And I must say that there are some real crackers here, with the opener 'Shallow' setting the bench mark. Other rockin' tunes include ’I Don’t Care’ and the blistering closing title track. They can also slow it down too with the acoustic driven 'Second Hand Girl' and the awesome ‘Away‘. This 9 tracker is a real band effort, with some awesome guitar solos from Tim Armstrong and it comes well recommended from us here. Form your own opinion here... 8.5/10 (Dave)

JESSICA WOLFF...'GROUNDED'

(King Records) Reviewed 29th December 2015

Jessica Wolff comes from Finland, and she serves up some glorious helpings of Pop/Rock coupled with glorious melodies and more hooks than a Scottish fishing fleet, on this her second record (as she did with her first). This album to date is a Japan only release as far as I am aware, offering up 12 tracks of the aforementioned Pop/Rock, that include the now customary Japan only bonus track (track 12 - Memorylane). To my ears, this is damn good and well worth checking out - it can be purchased via Amazon UK but they will import from Japan albeit at import prices unfortunately. However, if you like catchy Pop/Rock with a little ooommmppphhh, check out the title track as an example, together with the odd ballad or two ('Under Your Spell' and ‘Saving Someone Else'). This record from this Finnish lass is most certainly well worth checking out, well recommended... 8.75/10 (Dave)

UREAS…’THE BLACK HEART ALBUM’

(Hansel & Gretel/SPV) Reviewed 30th October 2015

UREAS was founded in 1999 by Per and Heidi Johansson, starting as a Pop/Rock band, although over the years, they have become more metal. Their first album was released in 2006 and was titled 'The Naked Truth'. This, their newie is indeed a fine album featuring the vocals of both Per and Heidi, although Per I believe is the main vocalist. But by virtue of the presence of Heidi on vocal duties on some of the tracks as well, this will be treated as a female fronted album! This record that features musicians from SYMPHONY X, EUMERIA, XERATH etc., is technically Power Metal with a keyboard nucleus, offering up melodic guitar riffs, haunting melodies enriched with influences from Gothic, Dark Wave and Black Metal. There are eleven awesome melodic metallic tracks running in at around the hour mark, so you could say that one gets their monies worth with this release. Some of the tracks exhibit a certain quirkiness like the number ‘Seal This Moment’, although it does go on a bit at over 8 minutes. The album was produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by the Danish studio whiz kids Tommy & Jakob Hansen, best known for their affiliation with Danish superstars VOLBEAT as well as their work with AMARANTHE, JORN and PRETTY MAIDS, amongst others - a little different but this is an album worth checking out...8/10 (The Nugget)

WEEPING SILENCE…’OPUS IV OBLIVION’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 28th October 2015

WEEPING SILENCE from Malta with this their fourth album, bring doom and gloom with their latest effort and boy, it ain’t ‘arf good! With female vocals from Diane Camenzuli and growls from Dario Pace Taliana, the music on this awesome long player lies at the crossroads of Gothic and Doom metal. Flippin’ heavy,totally melodic, and downright aggressive and melancholic all at the same time. There is a tsunami of good music within the nine tracks here, numbers like the pounding ‘Hidden From The Sun’ (Diane’s vocals kinda reminding me a little of Sharon from Within Temptation), the ballad ‘Bury My Fairytale’ and the closing track ‘Gothic Epitaph’. I have to say that with all this, Weeping Silence give the maestros of the genre Draconian a run for their money with this album. Full of ambience and doom-laden riffs, this album will undoubtedly leave its mark, well recommended.. 9/10 (Dave)

XOCH…S/T

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th October 2015

I have known Xoch for some while now, the gal from Poughkeepsie NY State who now resides in Las Vegas. She has consistently produced some damn good music since her early ‘Now&Then’ recording years. This self titled offering is her latest album, giving us 7 tracks of pure and catchy Pop/Rock to feast your ears on. This is to put it quite simply damn awesome. Everything from the catchy opener ‘Summer Vacation’, through tracks like the rocking ‘Slide’ to the closing Blondie cover ‘Rapture’ (great guitar solo), will have you in raptures (excuse the pun). This is inoffensive radio friendly Pop/Rock from Xoch, and guys, don’t mess with her, as her other ‘arf who is in the band is a guy who goes by the name of Vince Ripper, he is the guitarist. Joking aside, like Xoch, he is a great character. Feast your ears upon this cd, well recommended - website is here .. 9/10 (Dave)

WINTERBREED…’FACING THE VOID’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 6th October 2015

Winterbreed is a Symphonic-Melodic metal band that come from Vicenza in Italy. With the current line-up, they have just released this record which is their first EP. The current line-up is: Mattia Todescato: guitars/backing vocals, Irene 'Eva' Scapin: lead vocals, Martina Tomasoni: drums, Filippo Bergamin: bass. And a jolly good job they do too. Basically they do what is said on this package of goodies - four tracks of Melodic Symphonic Metal with subtle flirtations with Progressive elements. Screamo male vocals pop up very briefly on the third track 'R.I.P. You Farewell', this track possibly falling more into the Alternative Metal category. But whatever style you wanna call this music, it is worth checking out, so what are you waiting for? Get it here for only 1 Euro, now come on, you know you should, 1 Euro, the cost of a choccie bar here in the UK, that is all!... 8/10 (Katie McIntyre)

VOICES AT MIDNIGHT...'FOREVER ALIVE' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 27th August 2015

Voices At Midnight is a Christian Rock Band fronted by the awesome voice of singer Joan, come from Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. They bring a unique and dynamic sound and always have a positive message to convey to their listeners and fans.This EP features four tracks of pounding Alternative Rock Music with similarities to Fireflight, Halestorm and the like. This is good musically and lyrically and I like it, offering melody, passion and ooommmppphhh! Wanna have a listen? here you go: www.reverbnation.com/voicesatmidnight - check them out!... 8.75/10 (Dave)

XTASY...'REVOLUTION'

(Melodic Rock Records) Reviewed 13th July 2015

Spanish band Xtasy was born in 2011 as a Studio Project between Jorge (guitar, bass, keyboards) and Silvia (vocals, keyboards). This their first CD was released a few months ago through Melodic Rock Records, and it has just dropped into Ravenheart Towers. What we have here is a rather tasty serving of 10 tracks of prime time radio friendly Melodic Rock, the type of music that would send the Americans into wild extasy (excuse the pun). Just imagine driving down the highway with the roof down and this blasting out of the in-car stereo system. This I must say is pretty good stuff and well worth the purchase money, if this type of music floats your boat - it sure floats my boat btw :) Their website is here where you can get a taste of some of the music for yourself... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

XANDRIA...'FIRE & ASHES'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 9th July 2015

Following the release of the universally praised studio album 'Sacrificium' which also marked the impressive debut of charismatic vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen, the new EP 'Fire & Ashes' rises like the proverbial phoenix. With full symphonic force, there are three brand new songs, all of which possess the 'wow factor' and two special re recordings of all time XANDRIA fan faves, 'Ravenheart' (Ravenheart, 2004) and 'Now & Forever' (India, 2005), these showcasing the band at its very best. On top of that the band have recorded for this EP two exclusive cover songs - 'Don`t Say A Word' (Sonata Arctica) and an overall, fave song of mine, 'I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that)' (Meat Loaf), which have both been rearranged and now gleam in full symphonic glory. This EP is bombastic and magical from a band that has been a fave of mine for years. It gets released via Napalm on 31st July and is as always with this band, well recommended to all and sundry... 9.25/10 (Dave)

VALENTINE WOLFE...'THE NIGHTINGALE: A GOTHIC FAIRYTALE'

(Self Released) Reviewed 25th June 2015

Braxton Ballew and Sarah Black have been composing and performing music together as Valentine Wolfe since 2006. Their scores have been heard in productions of The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest (Warehouse Theater), The Winter’s Tale (Furman University), and Twelfth Night (The Distracted Globe). Both hold graduate degrees from the University of Georgia, where they studied electronic composition with Dr. Leonard V. Ball. Their Gothic Metal music is heavily inspired by all things Victorian, including TV shows like Penny Dreadful and of course literature and poetry from that time period. Sarah's mainly dreamy/operatic vocals are awesome throughout, and Braxton plays an electric upright bass that has a high C string that allows him to sound like a cello or even a violin in some instances. There are some good tunes on this their 4th album I believe, including 'Dark Desire', the bouncy 'Twisted Melody' and the number 'Precious Moments', to name just three from a tsunami of great tunes. In summary: The music is based loosely on 'The Emperor and the Nightingale' by Hans Christian Andersen and is set in a Poison Garden. The soundscape of the music features haunting, ethereal female vocals and virtuosic bass layers.This is indeed music in it's full beauty and recommended if you like acts like Apocalyptica, Emilie Autumn, Nightwish and Within Temptation. Well worth checking out and it can be bought here - impressive... 8.75/10 (Dave)

VALKYRE...'OUR GLORIOUS DEMISE'

(Valkyrie Rising) Reviewed 24th June 2015

Valkyre is a Belgian-based female-fronted Symphonic-Gothic Metal band founded by guitarist Kris Scheerlinck subsequent to his departure from Sengir. Currently fronted by the poppy vocal style of Claudia Michelutti, this is another 'catch up' review. Released last year (2014), this album by this Belgian band is 11 tracks of prime time Symphonic Metal and if you do not own the album, then may I make a suggestion - "get it". Only a brief review, but this is totally pure orgasmic material for the Female Fronted metal fan. Check out their website here... 9/10 (The Nugget)

WHERE ANGELS FALL...'REDEMPTION'

(Self Released) Reviewed 19th June 2015

Here we go again with another awesome release. I admit that I am playing catch up with reviews, but if there is anybody out that says that "one's health shouldn't come first", leave this website now :). Anyway, having digressed, here we have another release from the maestros from Norway, Where Angels Fall. And what a corker! There are ten tracks on the cd and everyone more or less hits the spot. 'Beyond Repair' kicks off in fine fettle and is one helluva track and I just love the vocals of Eirin Bendigtsen, she sounds kinda, well a little evil and devilish on this number - love it! 'We Are The Gods' is a cool guitar/synth driven number while 'Mothmother' maintains the synth driven momentum. 'Earth Visited' is a more conventional mid tempo rock number and so far, this record is rather enjoyable. There are further cool tracks to enjoy including 'Senseless' which is so catchy and Erin's vocals so angelic, the heavier sounding tracks 'Defeated' & 'Thinspiration', and the symphonic sounding 'Victim'. I myself think the band here has upped the ante from their previous offering 'Marionettes' and long may it continue - all the numbers here are very impressive indeed. Their website is here informing you of all the info and containing the odd video or two :)... 9/10 (Dave)

VENUS MEADOW...'AS FAR AS HEARTS CAN FEEL'

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th June 2015

Venus Meadow come from Germany and is another rather good Symphonic Metal band to come our way. Indeed, this album may have been around for a few months now but who cares - better late than not at all. There are basically eight tracks here with the addition of three bonus numbers, these are basically extended versions or orchestral versions of tracks already here. This album is consistently good without being outstanding if that makes any sense. There are some good numbers here including the opening trio of 'Eye Of The Storm', 'Queen of Heart' and 'Dance With Fools'. There are other cuts here that caught my attention including 'Black and Black', and as I previously stated, this album is consistently good and is worth checking out for fans of the Female Fronted metal music scene. Get a feel for their music here... 8.25/10 (Dave)

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS...'TIME STANDS STILL'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 12th June 2015

Canadian shooting stars UNLEASH THE ARCHERS have been on the road since their inception in 2007. Since then they have created an immensely loyal North American fan base. With a fresh sound, precise songwriting and the incredible feeling for heaviness and melodies, this power quintet with powerhouse singer Brittney Slayes at the helm, are now ready to take the rest of the world. After a cool intro, first track proper gets under way, 'Frozen Steel' being a sure fire Power Metal anthem to get you in the mood for what is to follow. Next up 'Hail Of The Tide' is sheer frikin' awesome with a chorus so fast paced, it will leave a turbo charged express train in its wake, as does next track 'Tonight We Ride'! And the faced paced metal mayhem continues with further cuts that will leave you breathless including tracks like 'Crypt'. And when they do slow it down a bit, they can still motor on tracks like 'Test Your Metal', the melodic 'No More Heroes' and the nine minute plus epic 'Dreamcrusher'. To summarise: 'Time Stands Still', is fast-paced and wildly entertaining, the combination of power vocals, death screams, tasty guitar licks and complex drumming provide a little something for everyone. Time Stands Still is kick ass heavy metal with fist-pumping anthemic melodies, that you simply can’t help but to get those air guitars out and sing along to - from the Napalm stable, it will be released 26th June... 8.5/10 (Dave)

XIPHEA...'FROM THE UNCHARTED ISLAND'

(Self Release) Reviewed 1st June 2015

XIPHEA has come my way, hailing from Germany they are an unsigned Symphonic Metal Band. Having listened to this, it became increasingly apparent that the vocalist sounded rather familiar. Yep, it is Sabine from Rawkfist, and she has a unique vocal style that has done and still blows me away. There are ten tracks here of prime time Symphonic Metal from the top drawer and I do rather like it. A great album from a great band of musicians, all the numbers are cool, with fave tracks currently being the bombastic 'Monument', the power ballad 'Crossroads Of Dreams' and the near 8 minute epic closing track 'Sweet The Tale'. Check out the band's website here... 8.75/10 (Dave)

WICKED LITTLE DOLLS...'DOLLCRAFT'

(Demon Doll Records LA) Reviewed 20th May 2015

“Somewhere behind a dumpster in a dark alley in New York City, an evil little dolly is summoning demons from hell using the blood of a freshly slain derelict to produce the horrid glyphs needed to succeed. In a high pitched unearthly rasp it calls out to its malevolent masters inviting them back to our reality to unleash violence and mayhem upon the world.” Oh yay! this is the Wicked Little Dolls (Facebook here) fronted by the sexy vocals of Wicked Little Doll ScAreifiNa, who offer up 15 tracks of bouncy, catchy Metal/Rock/Punk/Goth on this their new release, and boy this is good. I am not going to highlight any tracks here, except that if you are able to sit still through any of this, then you have a severe medical problem. The Wicked Little Dolls are alive, they are kicking and they are going to get you if you don't buy this album, so let's do it!... 8.5/10 (Dave)

WORHOL...'THE AWAKENING'

(Self Release) Reviewed 14th May 2015

WORHOL is rather good! They come from Texas and they have released a stonker here, an absolute corker. Many bands from the USA tend to stick with a guitar orientated sound without the use of keys. But this is where Worhol differ, and to be honest, they should set Europe alight with their sound. Ashley Worhol fronts the band, she also takes care of the keys dept., and she is ably backed up by a fine set of musicians that includes her Dad on guitar! There are ten tracks here of melodic Symphonic Rock with influences from bands that include Evanescence and Within Temptation. There is not a filler to be found on this album and it comes highly recommended from the team here at Ravenheart. And having met the band personally, they are such nice people and Ashley dare I say it is so cute! Their website is at www.worhol.net/, and the band's music is well worth checking out for you lovers of female fronted Rock & Metal music... 9.5/10 (Dave)

WHITE OAK STAVES...'HUMAN'

(Self Release) Reviewed April 24th 2015

Music is the universal language of humans, connecting hearts and minds. The tale begins with a troubled heavy metal guitarist, lost & wandering. A travel-weary bluesman guides them on an unknown path, stumbling upon a maniacal drummer, visiting a loved one. Soon, they are lured by the haunting sounds of a jazz improvisationalist, to the siren song of an enchanting singer. Finally, one of the best sound designers in the heartland gathers them together as one. Each of them will continue on their separate paths through life, possibly never meeting again. Well, while taking a couple of days away in the depths of the Dorset countryside here in the UK, this release from this USA band is refreshingly different to anything else we generally come across at the towers. The band is fronted by Stephanie Zuluaga, who is currently in Boston University's College Of Fine Arts production of CARMEN, and she is ably backed up by a fine body of musicians. There are 9 tracks here that offer a unique sound - classic heavy metal guitar riffs, driven by maniacal drumming, layered with melodic bass, topped with spoken word and a cool splash of jazz, and finished with soaring female vocals. The band musically kinda reminds me at times of Sweden's ACT III which is not a bad thing. This is different, it is original and because of that, I rather like it!. And the closing track which I believe is listed as a bonus cut, 'Fire In The Sky', is a take on Deep Purple's 'Smoke On The Water' - cool! The band's website is here.... 8.25/10 (Dave)

WINTER'S EDGE...'THE FERRYMAN'S EYES'

(Self Released) Reviewed 8th April 2015

Winter’s Edge is a Self Funded Metal Project created by Guitarist Jeremy Ross Lawler in 2010. He is known to of been in over 10 UK unsigned metal bands including Distopia, Aggrothesis, Signed By None and Dreadnought in his time so far as a musician. “I created Winter’s Edge because I wanted to form like a metal family, to support the musicians I worked with, make new friends but to finally not only work with known signed musicians but also to work with unsigned musicians to help them get more recognition for their brilliant talents which so many have to offer”. Those are Jeremy’s words in an Interview on Radio2Rock (Holland). There is a tsunami of musicians on this album including Daisy Robinson - (Vocalist from Seventh Seeker) and Charlotte Jones - (Vocalist from Sensoria). And within this little package is ten tracks (inc 2 bonus cuts) of kick ass, awesome and bombastic Melodic Metal, offering up great musicianship and awesome vocals from all concerned. Not wanting to really pick out any specific track as they are all damn good, but the mid tempo 'Fallen' feat Daisy Robinson, and the melodic 'You'll Find Your Way Out Of This Darkness' feat Charlotte Jones, are two such tracks that do hit the spot with me. The album was edited, mixed and mastered by Marc Wustenhagen at Dailyhero Recordings, being recorded at Airtight Studios by Peter Lancaster, and has indeed been out now for a few months now, but is available on Bandcamp at www.wintersedgeoffical.bandcamp.com/, or you can buy a physical digital copy of the album on eBay posting worldwide. Worth checking out... 8.5/10 (Dave)

WHISPERING WOODS...'PERDITUS ET DEA'

(Loud Rage Music) Reviewed 27th March 2015

Whispering Woods come from Romania and is an eight piece Metal band with four girls and four guys! The idea of Whispering Woods came to life during 2008, when two good friends decided to start a musical project which would have as a main character the symphonic genre. Currently, the vocals are shared by Alexandra Burcă (Soprano) and Corina Hamat (Mezzo Soprano), and this is as is most music that comes our way rather good! The flute (played by Cătălina Popa) plays a primary role within the band's music, adding a folky feel to the proceedings. There are twelve tracks here of Symphonic/Gothic Metal, and I do rather like the flute that plays a major part throughout the album. The record is evenly consistent throughout and at times rather enchanting, and although there are no immediate stand out cuts from the 12 on offer, the record is damn good and is well worth checking out for all you Symphonic/Gothic Metal fans out here. And you get your monies worth with four epic numbers exceeding the 6 minute mark, and some beastie vocals on 'Poetica' and 'Circle Complete'. The bands website is at www.the-whispering-woods.com...8.5/10 (Dave)

WILDPATH...'DISCLOSURE'

(Brennus Music/StayGold Records) Reviewed 18th March 2015

Wildpath have kinda strayed onto a different path with this their latest offering to hit the music store shelves. Their symphonic sound has dissipated into a more industrial orientated style of music. Okay, the symphonic elements are still there, but in not so much abundance. Whether this is good or bad I suppose depends on one's style of music and what the listener prefers. Indeed, the reviews I have already seen regards this new album from the band are not good, but we here try to keep an open mind and to be honest, I myself do like the mix of industrial and symphonic! The opening salvo of 'Concealed' and 'Outcast' kick things off, the former being an instrumental and there sure are symphonic and choral elements to be heard, and rather good it is too. The vocals of Marjolaine Bernard kick in on second track 'Outcast', and at the moment, I am not quite sure what all the fuss is about. Okay, it is not as symphonic as their previous works so far, but I do like the choral bits that have been chucked into the pot within the opening two numbers. Pushing on and third track 'Ignited' is an okay sort of track, perhaps however not quite hitting the spot with me, but that does not mean to say it is not good, just not quite my cuppa tea. The industrial and indeed some techno elements are there in the belting tune 'Ex Cinere', while 'Petrichor' picks up the pace and is a symphonic blockbuster. 'Confined' has power metal elements wrapped up in the mix, but has now become a guaranteed foot tapper:). So far, so good and as we enter the second phase of the album, little changes really - 'Delusion' however, sees the introduction of clean male vocals courtesy of Nicolas Lopes (Bass), while the pounding 'Unborn' is a favored track of mine from the CD. 'Hollow' is a cute ballad with Nicolas taking lead vocal duties, with the closing duo of 'Absentia' and the title track closing the album in fine fettle. In summary: to fans of the band and to those expecting music similar to their earlier output, this release may take a little getting used too, but do stick with it peeps... 8.25/10 (The Nugget)

ZARIA...'Po poti življenja'

(Self Release) Reviewed 17th Feb 2015

Zaria is driven by the desire to create original music, and was founded in 2011. Inez (Vox), Nika (drums), Miha (rhythm guitar), Jakob (lead guitar), Rok (bass) and Gašper (keys) completed the final line-up in 2012. Although their initial musical style most closely resembled folk metal, they would eventually turn to other genres for inspiration as well. This is the Slovenian band's debut release and it is rather good. Sung in the band's native tongue, opening with the title track, 'Po poti življenja' (Upon the Trail of Life) is a brief instrumental intro followed by 'Glas srca' (A Voice from Within) which has a Folky feel but generally is a Nightwish influenced Symphonic rocker. So far so good! 'Divja jaga' (Wild Hunt) starts with the sounds of Ravens and is a quirky Folk Metal number featuring male vocals as well as those of Inez, magical! 'Spomin tisočerih dni' (A Memory of a Thousand Days) is another catchy folky number that kicks off with the sound of another bird, the cuckoo! 'Temnina' (Darkness) has a drum intro (no birds this time) before the guitars and flutes kick in, and is a pounding rockin number. 'Nov začetek' (A New Beginning) follows and maintains the quirkyness as does 'Pozabljeni svet' (A Forgotten World), a track that has that Nightwish feel. 'Moč brez imena' (A Nameless Power) again features male vocals while the closing trio of the punchy 'Na odprto morje' (To the Open Sea), 'Sledi zvezdi' (Follow the Star), one of my faves from the cd and the instrumental 'Spev zmagoslavja' (A Song of Triumph) maintain the awesome quality of this recording. I have listed every track including translations, but please do not be put off by the fact that this is sung in the band's native tongue as this is very good. I am not sure how easy it will be to get the album, but the band's website is here.. 8.75/10 (The Nugget)

ZOMBIE RODEO...' Día de los Muertos'

(Self Released) Reviewed 12th Feb 2015

Zombie Rodeo come from Finland and we have already reviewed some of their music here at Ravenheart Music. Indeed, some of these tracks we may have come across before by way of promo discs, but Dave has asked me to review this nonetheless. What we have here are five tracks of grunge influenced music on this little cd - you know the score, downtuned guitars and the like. Awesome vocals from Tina coupled with some pounding music to boot! Indeed, not really the kind of music I have come to expect from the likes of a country like Finland, but it is that scenario that makes this music so good. My fave track is 'Eyes Open', a rocking tune with a great chorus. Great stuff and one can check it out for themselves here...8.25/10 (The Nugget)

VIPER SOLFA...'CARVING AN ICON'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 3rd February 2015

Viper Solfa emerged in 2013 as an idea from Trail of Tears singer and front man Ronny Thorsen. He was quickly joined by fellow Trail of Tears members Endre Moe on bass (Dimension F3H and Cutthroat), and drummer Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow (Sphere). Not long after, the three of them found themselves in the creative company of Morfeus of Mayhem, Limbonic Art and Dimension F3H fame, who immediately took the role of main composer as well as handling guitar, keyboard and orchestration duties. With the material at hand, it became obvious that the sound needed a diverse and highly skilled female voice and after auditioning over two dozen singers from around the globe, Miriam “Sphinx” Renvåg of Ram-Zet was the final piece of the puzzle. This is a powerful and heavy 10 track album that will please all you metal headbangers out there. No heart rendering ballads here, just balls to the wall metal, with 'Carving An Icon' (the title track) and 'The Viper Legion' being two numbers that will leave you wanting more, while I do like the pipes that close 'The Toxic Thousands'. The harsh vocals of Ronny combine well with the more angelic vocals of Miriam... awesome stuff all round I would like to add! The record is released later in February, worth checking out if you like your metal a little bit on the heavier and more aggressive side... 8/10 (The Nugget)

WHYZDOM...'SYMPHONY FOR A HOPELESS GOD'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 9th Jan 2015

'Symphony For A Hopeless God’ is the third album from French Symphonic Metal band Whyzdom. After two successful albums relying on the power of Symphonic Orchestra and Metal riffing, as well as on the beauty of female voices, they push their own “Philharmonic Metal” concept one step further with this eleven track release, adding an even more cinematic edge to their songs. The orchestra has never been so powerful, choirs have never been so haunting, riffs have never been so compelling and the vocals have never been so intense, ranging from pure and fragile melodies to harsh growls, all provided by mezzo-soprano Marie Rouyer. Six tracks here run in at over 6 minutes (with one over 7) and there is only one under the five minute mark, so one gets their monies worth here. This is dynamic mind blowing metal at its finest and most compelling, and I believe to be their best release to date. Tracks like the opener 'While The Witches Burn', the pounding and catchy 'Let's Play With Fire' and the bombastic and ever so slightly Progressive 'Theory Of Life' will leave you breathless and wanting more, the latter seeing vocalist Marie let rip! Whyzdom was always knocking on the door of major league female fronted metal, they have now been allowed in big time. Produced by Vynce Leff, being recorded, mixed and mastered at Powermania Studio, Paris, this is one helluva Symphony For A Hopeless God and as a consequence, is a must buy. Released Feb 17th! - 2015 is already looking good.. 9.75/10 (The Nugget - Natalie Gold)

VOICES AT MIDNIGHT...'ASHES'

(Self Release) Reviewed Dec 30th 2014

It is difficult to review just one song but we support the female fronted music scene, so Dave has said "let's do it". Voices At Midnight is a rock band hailing from Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. They bring a unique and dynamic sound to the music scene, well showcased in this single release. Fronted by Joan Hodge who is ably supported by Chris Porter-Bass, Randy Elswick-Guitar, Adi Nelson-Drums and Chuck Benton-Guitars, this 3 minute plus single is rather good. Joan has an original rock vocal style where she lets rip without over doing it if that makes sense. The tune does also tend to bounce around in your head after it has finished and that to me is good. I cannot really give a score to one song, but check them out here: www.reverbnation.com/voicesatmidnight. (Rachel Louise Smith)

UNSEELIE...'URBAN FANTASY'

(Self Release) Reviewed 11th November 2014

Unseelie is a rather fine young band from Belgium/France. Founded at the end of 2010 in Paris, with a strong reference to the Gothic Metal aesthetics, their music is profound and intense and full of emotion. They have already released and EP, 'Unholy Light' and when I reviewed the EP back in 2012, I mentioned then that I was looking forward to a full length album from the band, and this is it! Fronted by the awesome vocals of Anne-Emmanuelle Fournier with her partner in crime, Marc Chevallereau taking care of the Guitars & Programming, this 10 track debut full length album is damn good - very good in-fact! Mixing Alternative Metal with Gothic Metal and adding a little bit of Progressive into the mix, it does all blend in rather well in-fact. The ten tracks all totally hit the spot with me - listen to opener 'Strangers', a haunting but equally heavy number with spoken intro, which is followed by 'Quantify Your Soul' - heavy and catchy. Oh, and that is just for starters! There is the bouncy and keyboard driven 'The City Feeds On You', the mid tempo 'Frontier', the atmospheric 'Of Water and Dreams', and the catchy Gothic Metal of both 'Prometheus Pain' and closing bonus track 'Closer To Apotheosis'. This release is worth checking out with first class musicianship, their Facebook is here... 9.25/10 (Dave)

VERITAS INFINITA...'THE ESSENCE OF LIFE'

(Self Released) Reviewed 21st October 2014

Veritas Infinita: This Dutch Rock band was formed the end of 2007 by drummer Siebolt and guitarist Tjeerd. After developing rather nicely and getting their personnel sorted, 2009 saw Linda Augustinus joining the band as their lead singer. The band has a Christian outlook which I actually find rather refreshing, and the band's religious beliefs are documented well within the lyrics. Opener 'Quest For Light' is a cool instrumental being followed by the Symphonic and Progressive sounding 'Gods Without A Heart' and we can already pick up a religious theme within the lyrics. The catchy and at times atmospheric 'United' follows in a similar style and I am rather impressed at what I am hearing. Linda's vocals are hauntingly good as is the input from the remainder of the band. 'Today's World' and 'Bloodbrothers' have a great Folk/Metal feel while tracks like 'Before Its Time', the rather nice 'The Fight' and the Power Metal feel of 'Like An Eagle' rock! The beautiful 'Through God's Eyes' closes the record and to summarise: This 9 track album is prime time Symphonic Metal throughout with a subtle Progressive undercurrent, also using a rather haunting choral backdrop which I rather like, Ulliean Pipes, Irish Whistles, and of course, the voice of singer Linda. And it is all wrapped up into a rather nice package of music for one's listening pleasure. This is good and well worth the attention of the female fronted metal fan . Their Facebook is here... 8.75/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)

WOODSCREAM...'OCTASTORIUM'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd October 2014

I was initially a little wary when I was given this release to review, but what I can say is that Woodscream from Saint Petersburg (Russia), presents a tuneful union of different styles of contemporary metal, incorporating elements of European folk traditions and gloomy atmosphere of medieval legends, which is the solid basis of Woodscream's lyrics. And all this is well showcased in this stunning 8 track offering from the band. Female vocals are courtesy of Valentina Tsyganova who also plays the recorder, with harsh vocals and growls from Alexander Klimov and Ivan Budkin. As with this style of music, we have a violin (Anastasia Smelova) and well, what can I say? The album is chock full of very catchy up tempo Folk/Metal sung in the band's native tongue, not too disimilar to the eastern Russian band Grai, who play a similar style of music, and who have recently been reviewed on this very site. The tunes here bang around in your head long after they have finished and to sum it up, this is a splendid release. Get more information on the band here... 8.5/10 (Natalie Gold)

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