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(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)
(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
(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)
(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)
(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)
VOICES OF DESTINY...'CRISIS CULT'
(Massacre Records) Reviewed 30th September 2014
This release is the 3rd album by the young female-fronted hopefuls VOICES OF DESTINY from Ludwigsburg, Germany, and their 1st with their new front lady Ada Flechtner (known from CORONATUS and several productions like We Are Legend and Deus Ex Vagina). And there are 10 tracks here of Epic Gothic Metal on this digipak version, to keep lovers of this style of music happy. After a brief intro, the album gets going with the heavy but catchy symphonic sounding 'Wolfpack' that is followed by the bombastic and pounding 'The Easy Prey'. Ada seems to have settled really well as the band belts out further awe inspiring numbers like 'To The Slaughter', the heavy but melodic '21 Heroes' (great chorus) and the equally awesome 'Stormcrow'. Then we must not forget the magical power ballad 'At The Edge' that is a duet between Ada Flechtner and Manuela Kraller, allowing rock & classical elements to collide and proves that the new influences and the long-established aspects go well together. Meanwhile, Ada gets occasional help from keys man Lukas with his occasional growls, while the record is produced, mixed and mastered by Andy Horn at Red Room (Edenbridge, Lanfear, Rob Rock, Liv Kristine, Mortal Love). With this album, this young band does not only evolve in a satisfying way, but also shows the courage to experiment and reinvent itself - due 24th October, do buy :) ... 9/10 (Natalie Gold)
WE ARE THE CATALYST...'MONUMENTS'
(Ferocity Records) Reviewed 4th September 2014
Do you remember ONE WITHOUT? Well here is the next band to watch out for folks - WE ARE THE CATALYST from Sweden, featuring two ex members of One Without, Kenny Boufadene and Cat Fey. Their debut 13 track album 'MONUMENTS' is due 1st October on Ferocity Records, and here we have the pleasure of reviewing this little gem prior to release. I admit to rather liking ONE WITHOUT, and I equally like this band too. The music is gritty, heavy, it doesn't lose its sense of melody and it is flippin' awesome. The new single 'Fight For Air' kicks the record off and it starts how it means to go on. And it is just one great song after another... 'The Void' with its catchy chorus, the powerful sounding 'Every Minute Every Day', the atmospheric 'Not Alone', the rather good 'On Your Knees', the commercial sounding and hideously catchy 'A Life A Lie' (cool verse/heavy chorus), the pounding 'What You Are' and the closer 'The Edge'. This record is awesome - on the press release that came with this album, Ozzy Osbourne's ex Bass player Terry Nails states "Simply Stunning, move over Evanescence" - well, this is stax better than Evanescence. The band's website is at www.wearethecatalystofficial.com/
.. 9.5/10 (Dave)
WINTER IN EDEN...'COURT OF CONSCIENCE'
(Cherry Red Records) Reviewed 1st September 2014
This is a difficult review to do as I know Winter In Eden very well indeed, and I want to try and be impartial while doing this review. So here goes! Fronted by Vicky Johnson, this is the band's third full length album and this time the band has gone for it big time - 'Court Of Conscience' being produced by Ruud Jolie and mixed by Stefan Helleblad (both from Within Temptation), and featuring guest vocals from Damian Wilson (Threshold, Headspace, Maiden uniteD) and Jermain van der Bogt (For All We Know, Ayreon). The record kicks off with the track 'Knife Edge', and a corker it is too - Symphonic heaven. Next up 'With Intent' is a catchy rocker and is the first single from the album, while 'Critical Mass Pt 1' is another masterpiece and has hints of Within Temptation of old. 'Toxicate' showcases perfectly Vicky's vocals, the track having a strong Progressive Rock/Metal undercurrent. 'Order Of Your Faith' takes us close to the half way mark and is an addictive powerful rocker, again with a subtle progressive flavour, with the following track 'It's Not Enough' showing us that Vicky Johnson's other 'arf Steve is a dab hand at taking care of the keys and synths. And this is one of my fave tracks from the album too. With very little to fault so far, the remaining five tracks all offer the listener loads more highlights than a high octane Newcastle v Sunderland soccer game! Some awesome stuff from tracks like the very catchy and accessible 'Before It Began', the ballad 'The Script' and the awesome 'Constant Tomorrow'. This band from NE England has matured over the years like a really good wine and there is very little if anything to fault across the eleven tracks here. Check out their website at www.winterineden.com
WINTERGARDEN...'THE NEW VICTORIAN'
(Mighty Music/Target) Reviewed 31st July 2014
Anything that gets released from Scandinavia, Denmark or Holland seems for some reason to gather my immediate attention, and Wintergarden from Denmark is no exception. This band is one of those that has escaped my radar, until I saw a review of this album in a UK Rock magazine. They are fronted by English/Danish lass Miriam Gardner, and are musically inspired by the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Sevendust and Evanescence. There are 12 tracks here of inspired Modern Metal/Dark Pop and should be the type of music that will go down a storm in the States. To my ears, it is nice to receive an album that does not follow the Symphonic Metal path, and 'The New Victorian' is one such album. For anybody that likes their music without the Symphonic elements, and following a more traditional Modern Metal path, tracks like 'Iconoclast', The Release' and the Pop/Metal of 'Scarlet Letter' should be up your alleyway. I myself also like the catchy 'Cinderella' from the record. Check the band out on Reverbnation: www.reverbnation.com/wintergarden
- recommended.. 8.75/10 (Dave)
(Self Release) Reviewed 27th July 2014
Items of sheer quality and beauty must be appreciated and here we have something that demands appreciation. VOICIANO, featuring collaborations with many people including Karl Groom, Arjen Lucassen, Jim Peterik and Erik Martensson amongst many others, is the new exciting acoustic project by SABINE EDELSBACHER and LANVALL from EDENBRIDGE! And any fans of the Female fronted Rock & Metal scene that have never heard of Edenbridge must have been living under a stone for years. This is simply stunning, okay, it is not Metal but this is damn good from two people who have set the Female fronted Metal scene alight over the past few years. And if you thought Sabine's voice was good in Edenbridge, listen to this and you will hear how simply stunning she sounds. Very difficult to be honest to fault this little gem, when you hear tracks like the opener 'Change', the strongly acoustic and atmospheric 'Island of the Gods', the rather good 'Until The End Of Time' (a nice duet with the aforementioned ERIK MARTENSSON), the piano led 'Inner Child' and the epic 7+ minute title track. The record is now readily available in the EDENBRIDGE webstore which is here
. And the album will be digitally available worldwide on August 1 and physically available on Amazon on the same date. To summarise: This is so damn awesome from this magical duo that I want more. No synths, no computers, just real instruments - well recommended for those more serene moments in life! ... 9.5/10 (Dave)
(WormholeDeath Records) Reveiwed 25th July 2014
Zephyra come from Scandinavia, no surprises there eh? Well, Sweden to be precise, and the band play no thrills melodic metal. The various influences of the band are taken from thrash, power and melodic death metal, with Asa Netterbrant coughing up the female growls and clean vocals. I first came across Asa and guitarist Tony who are such nice people in 2010, when I reviewed Zephyra's 'Behave' demo and then they followed that up with the 'First Blood' EP. Indeed, since 2010 I have seen the band and their music mature like a good wine and then..... after having reviewed their 'Kampaglod' EP along comes WormholeDeath Records who have signed the band. And the result of that is this rather good record featuring 11 tracks of in yer face metal. Melody is always bubbling under the surface, emerging many times like a hungry demented shark to grab the listener by the short and curlies. I am not going into track detail here but if you like Metal with clean and growly vocals, with loadsa melody thrown into the mix for good measure, may I offer you a word of advice, buy this when it gets released. Support good music, this band deserves it. Their Facebook is here
..... 9/10 (Dave)
XANIMA...'PROTOTYPE: HOMO SAPIENS'
(Freeside Records) Reviewed 13th May 2014
Xanima fronted by the radio friendly vocals of Jade Ell, is dramatic and visual artrock to a tee. It’s dark, light, fantasy - all put into a dreamy landscape. The songs of this the band's second album, is describing the complex journey of a soul - that's been chosen to be the model for the whole human kind - a "Prototype: Homo Sapiens". Mixing a creative combination of pop-rock-electronica, this so happens to be a good record. Kinda imagine Kate Bush mixed with a little Evanescence and throw in a bit of Ego Likeness and hey presto! This is not in yer face Rock or Metal by any means, but you could call it 13 tracks of catchy Electro Pop-Rock with elements of Prog if you so wish, laid back at times, up tempo at others. The album is a consistently good one, although there isn't any particular track to my ears that actually jumps out and grabs you, although I do rather like 'A Given Oath' as being one of my faves from the record - an upbeat catchy number. The band's website is at www.xanima.eu/music.html
and the video to a track from the album 'Ritual Dance', can be viewed here
. Worth checking out, it has our seal of approval here at Ravenheart!... 8.25/10 (Dave)
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 15th April 2014
Xandria, a band that I have followed since their debut, is back and back with a vengeance. Featuring new vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen, whose vocals on this album are massive and operatic, the band offer up a record of monumental proportions. There are twelve tracks here and if you are going to kick off an epic album, then why not get started with an epic track, the 10 minute plus title track. A Symphonic masterpiece in it's own right, and that is just the opener. 'Nightfall' follows in a similar style, and surely Xandria's position within the premier league of female fronted metal has been cemented with this release. After that bombastic opening, we then get the catchy and commercial 'Dreamkeeper' and the heavy 'Stardust' the latter thundering along like a bull on steroids. Further highlights are a plenty including 'The Undiscovered Land' (a lovely power ballad), the powerful 'Until The End', the bouncy 'Come With Me' and the Folk inspired 'Temple Of Hate'. I am not sure whether this actually betters the previous album 'Neverworld's End', but whether it does or not, this sure is a Symphonic belter of an album.. 9.75/10 (Dave)
UNSCARRED...'100 LASHES' EP
(Contorted Records & Artist Management) Reviewed 3rd March 2014
UNSCARRED is a powerful pounding-groove machine, Wild and crazy “Thrash metal” band formed in 2002 in France, Paris. Fronted by Nelly the mysterious Persian metal princess, this band power their way through five numbers on this EP, which in turn provide enough energy to light up most the cities of Europe. What we have here is breathtaking wall of sound offering up power, aggression and stax of energy. The twin guitar attack of Boris and Nico are complimented by the rhythm section of Brice on bass and Franck on drums, and of course, we must not forget the powerful vocals of Nelly. Unscarred is one of the best bands on the French metal scene right now, their Facebook is here
... 8/10 (Dave)
(Dramatico) Reviewed 10th February 2014
I have stalled reviewing this album until I got a second opinion from my partner in crime, Aimee. I will make it common knowledge that to my ears (and to Aimee's as well) this band can do no wrong. However, is that about to change? Well a "yes" and a "no". This record is good, indeed very good. Within Temptation seem to be steering away to an extent from the Symphonic Gothic Sound that has put them where they are and the sound that I so adored. But to the band's credit they are are moving on, leaving a void that other bands now seem to be filling. Sharon Den Adel is on top form although to be honest, I am not totally sure about some of the vocal collaborations, but that may change in due course. 'Let Us Burn' is a powerful and pounding way to kick the cd off, together with it's hideously catchy chorus and showcasing Sharon's fine vocal prowess. Next up is vocal collaboration number one - the galloping 'Dangerous' featuring ex-Killswitch Engage frontman Howard Jones - indeed that collaboration does work rather well and I like the synths. Some rapper called Xzibit (never heard of him) pops up on 'And We Run' - rap ain't quite my thing, but overall this track is good. Symphonic Metal Queen Tarja (ex Nightwish) appears on 'Paradise (What About Us)', and this is one of the better numbers from the album - a Symphonic Metal blaster. The next five tracks are Sharon and Within Temptation through and through and as one would expect, are damn good. These five include the atmospheric and powerful ballad 'Edge Of The World' - wonderful. The closer 'Whole World Is Watching' featuring Dave Pirner from the band Soul Asylum finshes the album on an awesome note - this in-fact being another fave of mine from the record. 'Hydra' is a slick piece of commercialism and a very good record, but I think I perhaps just may prefer the Within Temptation of old - the jury is out on that. And my edition has a bonus cd, tracks 1-4 being covers being featured on 'The Q Music Sessions', coupled with four 'Evolution' tracks of numbers featured on the main disc. 18 tracks - I whole heartedly recommend this, a top drawer release... 9.5/10 (Dave & Aimee)
VANITY BLVD...'WICKED TEMPTATION'
(Noisehead Records) Reviewed 7th Feb 2014
The Swedish female fronted sleaze/hardrock quartet VANITY BLVD fronted by Anna Savage has now released 'Wicked Temptation', the bands long-awaited and anticipated second full-length album. VANITY BLVD (pronounced "boulevard") was formed in the city of Avesta in 2005 and took the sleaze scene by storm with two selfproduced EP´s of dirty hardrock with the energetic and charismatic fronwoman Anna Savage behind the microphone. This their second full-length was recorded at Deep Blue Studios with producer Nicko Di Marion (STEELWING) during May 2013. And what a release, this showcases the style of music I found myself into during the 80s. There are 11 melodic thumpers here of the highest quality reminding me of the good old days of US rockers Danger Danger and the like. Damn awesome and if you are able to sit still during this type of music, may I suggest you get a life. All the songs here are of the highest quality with a production to boot. There is one stand out to track to my ears however, the extremely melodic and radio friendly 'Desperate Heart', but if you like your music sleazy and hard with guitar solos and choruses to die for, this is for you. Great stuff and well worth the purchase money.. 8.75/10 (Dave)
VARIOUS...'CATHEDRALS OF DOOM'
(Indie Release) Reviewed 3rd December 2013
This project is completed thanks to common work of 5 outstanding doom metal bands: a raw, varied, atmospheric and brutal as well as full with sincere emotion compilation. We have 9 gems from the genre here featuring such bands as Eclipse of the Sun, Les Memoires Fall and our very own Weeping Silence. Okay, this is not a Femme compilation as such, but as Weeping Silence are here, I thought this has to be worth a mention. Plus also the band Les Memoires Fall possess a female vocalist by the name of Naimi Stephanie. The Weeping Silence track 'Love Lies Bleeding' to be honest is damn awesome, and when you hear this number within the context of this compilation, it really shines. And it features of course Draconian's very own Anders Jacobsson. Other bands that I like the sound of are the aforementioned Les Memoires Fall, Eclipse of the Sun and also Spirit Descent - and these bands are not all growlers either. We have here 9 long, magical and doomy works and all of them are true diamonds from the doom metal underground. The album will be available as a free download from December 13th, so visit the website - www.cathedralsofdoom.wix.com/vol1
.. 8.5/10 (Dave)
VANITY RIOTS...'AMBULANCE' EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 30th October 2013
Vanity Riots hail from Sydney in Australia, and this EP presents us with five tracks of rather good in yer face Rock from down under that will blow your mind! Rick from Altered Frequencies.com stated: "Why bands like this remain unsigned and so many lousy bands continue to have success is beyond me." And to be honest it is beyond me too. Fronted by Monica Strut, the band kicks off with the punchy and infectious duo of 'Ambulance' and 'Bloodsucker'. 'The rather cool titled 'I Love You Almost As Much As I Love Me' keeps the momentum going, while the number 'Your Poison' sounds instantly familiar to me - I am sure I have heard this song somewhere before. Closing with the bouncy 'Revival' - great guitar solo by the way, this band surely is going places with their punchy infectious syle of Rock with Pop sensibilities. Their website is here
, and if you like the sound of say Paramore mixed in with some Velvet Revolver and Motley Crue then check this band out - this ain't bad! 8/10 (Dave)
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