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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

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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)

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.....10/10 (Dave)

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)

VOICIANO...'EVERFLOW'

(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)

ZEPHYRA...'MENTAL ABSOLUTION'

(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)

XANDRIA...'SACRIFICIUM'

(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)

WITHIN TEMPTATION...'HYDRA'

(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)

VASELYNE...'THE FIRE WITHIN'

(Echozone) Reviewed 25th October 2013

We have a slippery creature here - the band goes by the name Vaselyne and they come from Holland. However, this is not the normal Gothic Symphonic fare that we normally associate with those shores, this is more a Progressive, Alternative, Ambient and occasionally atmospheric offering. Basically, the band comprises of Yvette Winkler on vocals and Frank Weyzig covering all the instruments. This is a laid back album that at times takes on an edgy characature and overall is a very good effort. Reminding me at times of Factory Of Dreams, Porcupine Tree and the like, there are some mammoth tunes here with six of them running in at over 6 minutes. Opening with the awesome atmospheric sounding 'Earthbound', there are standout tracks a plenty including the 6 minute plus 'Fragile' and the amazingly good synth infused 'Allright' (one of the shorter tracks on the cd). Lets us not forget either the rather beautiful 7 + minute 'Fall From Grace', while the album closes with the string infused instrumental 'Earthbound (the Profane Mix)'. I must say this is rather good, the band's website is at www.vaselyne.com, check it out - 8.5/10 (Dave)

WICKED FAITH...'UNDER NO ILLUSION'

(Self Released) Reviewed 10th October 2013

Wicked Faith come from Norwich (Norfolk) here in the UK. Norfolk is rather well known for it's Broadland and associated wild life, but now perhaps we should add Wicked Faith to that 'list'. I have known about this band for some months now, eagerly awaiting this their debut album in anticipation, and now it is here in my grubby paws. Was it worth the wait?, well yes it was! Fronted by the awesome vocals of Jade Murray, Wicked Faith throw at us 10 massive hard rocking melodic numbers, offering elements of classic rock coupled with huge riffs and some massive guitar solos to boot from Tom Jordan. And on top of that, not a filler in sight. Effectively, the band has taken classic rock music, grabbed it by the balls, added a modern sound and are dragging it through the first quarter of the 21st century as if there is no tomorrow. By and large a hard rockin' masterpiece! On this showing, they are surely going to be a band to keep one's beady eye on, I am under no illusion of that (excuse pun!). Their Facebook is here and you can also hear the track 'Just This Once' by clicking - www.reverbnation.com/wickedfaithofficial - check 'em out! 8.5/10 (Dave)

WINTER STORM...'WITHIN THE FROZEN DESIGN'

(Self Release) Reviewed 23rd September 2013

Winter Storm (Facebook) is a band very local to Ravenheart Music and 'Within The Frozen Design' is their second album. I will admit and say that I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the band's first record 'Serenity In Darkness', and I must say that this pretty much follows on from their debut. However, I do feel after repeated listens that this release is an improvement on the debut, though having said that, the debut is still a very good release! The album sets it's bench mark with the opening trio of 'Cold Creation', 'Wasted Feelings' and 'Shadow Weaver' - a great start!! 'Symmetric Flow' and 'Afraid To Speak' have perhaps a little more commercial appeal in their make up, with great melodic guitar solos to boot, and these are becoming my fave tracks on the album. 'Beneath The Mystery' returns to a more darker theme, while 'Broken World' is an instrumental that breaks the proceedings up rather nicely. 'Universal Design' regains the momentum with other highlights to my ears being the Gothy and melodic 'Gatekeeper' and the closer 'The Frozen Siren'. This is another very good effort from a band that is on the rise, offering up catchy and melodic songs with a Gothy and Symphonic undercurrent, and is another release that is well worth checking out...9/10 (Dave)

ZOLTAR SPEAKS...'SAVE AS I SAVE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 23rd September 2013

Somerset (UK) based Zoltar Speaks released a rather good EP some months ago now, and that was a hard rockin' affair to confirm that the west country here in England is not only good at producing cider, there are some decent rock and metal bands down there too. And the awesome work of the band is carried over to this, their debut full length release. Fronted by the awesome powerhouse of Louise Body, the album kicks off with a piano led intro, that leads into the number 'See You In Another Life' - a heavy thundering number proving that this band means business. And they power their way through further bombastic tunes like 'Last Man Standing', 'Cannot Be', the thumping metallic 'Face The Claymore', 'Nothing In The World' and the 8+ minute epic 'I Can I Can't'. And there is a sensitive side to the band as well with the songs 'Braver' and 'Treatment' (Treatment being featured on the EP). Throughout the album, Louise is ably backed up by Ollie Smith and Jason Coles (guitars), Simon Roocroft on bass and Ben Dean supplying thunderous beats, confirming that Zoltar Speaks is a powerhouse melodic metal unit that are well worth checking out, so check them out HERE, then buy the album that is due in November... 8.5/10 (Dave)

WISE GIRL...'YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO WAIT'

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th September 2013

I reviewed a three track EP by New York PowerPop/Rock outfit Wise Girl back in May and I did rather like what I heard. So now we have a full length cd that has now come my way, following hot on the heels of the EP. Fronted by the rather quirky 6 foot tall Abby Weitz who also plays guitars and writes the tunes, this cd consists of 10 tracks of hideously infectious tunes that will have you tapping your feet and bouncing around your living room in no time at all. 'You'll Just Have To Wait' is a fine way to kick the album off, but second track 'I'm A Freak' is a catchy and memorable tune that caught my attention right away. Another fave track from the album is 'Leave Me Out Of It' which to me shows mass cross over appeal and screams radio airplay. Indeed, with further cool tunes like 'Little White Lies' and lead single 'Stuck In This', the band has set the bench mark for the future, while the closing duo of 'Wishful Thinking' and 'Roles Are Reversed' were featured on the EP. Overall, all ten numbers here are damn good and deserve to be heard on any radio station across the planet. Okay, the all out Metal fan may disagree and not be too keen on this album, but for anyone who is open minded regards their music, and loves catchy, modern and melodic Pop/Rock music, check WISE GIRL out, as to me the young Abby is a very wise girl indeed writing stuff like this. Their Facebook is here ...8.75/10 (Dave)

VANDROYA...'ONE'

(Inner Wound Recordings) Reviewed 11th September 2013

Vandroya could be one of Brazil's best kept secrets until now that is. The band was conceived in 2001 and it has taken this long for them to come up with their full length debut - but you know the saying, "if it is good it will be worth waiting for". And this is!! The band fronted by Daisa Munhoz (Soulspell) deliver 10 striking tunes of what can best be described as Epic, Progressive Power Metal. Opener 'All Becomes One' is an atmospheric instrumental before one of the standout tracks 'The Last Free Land' kicks out of the speakers, like a Japanese Bullet train. It is all bombastic Power Metal coupled with outstanding musicanship all the way to track 6 with outstanding vocals from Daisa, and then things slow down for the power ballad 'Why Should We Say Goodbye'. This is actually one of my fave tracks from the album, but as I have said many times before, I am a sucker for a good power ballad. After our little break, it is back to Power Metal business with 'Change The Tide', which is in-fact a duet with Leandro Caçoilo - great stuff! Despite all the energy and complex musicanship that is going on, the band can find the time for the second ballad and closing number (non bonus track version), the complex sounding 'Solar Night'. Fans of bands like Kamelot, Symphony X, Angra and Sonata Arctica will love 'One'. Vandroya is definitely a force to be reckoned with during years to come. Recommeded... 8.75/10 (Dave)

UNVEIL...'CODEX NOCTEM'

(Self Release) Reviewed 13th August 2013

Unveil is a Canadian Dark Rock band from Sherbrooke, Quebec. They formed in 2004 when good friends united with one goal in mind: play live shows. In 2010, they presented a daring event called “The Story of Sarah”; a multimedia production combining a short film within a rock concert. This got the band working with a small team of very creative individuals including a local folk-rock singer named Jow. The following year, she joined Unveil on stage for a fund-raising event and left the band speechless. Her unique voice and energy gave Unveil a new drive and she was asked to officially become the new lead singer. Onto this EP, and the six tracks that make up this CD are I must say rather good! Kicking off with 'Hide', the vocals of Jow remind me a little of Amy Lee, while the track itself is a thumping rocker with a progressive undercurrent - an awesome start! ''Camera' and 'Why' keep up the momentum, both being luscious Gothic Rockers with an element of crunch - great stuff! 'Empty' is a pounding rocker showcasing the sheer brilliance of the musicianship on offer. Closing the CD with 'The Fall' and 'Winter', Unveil prove that this band has got what it takes to compete with some of the European heavy weights within the genre! Their BandCamp site is here... 8.5/10 (Dave)

VERONA SEPTIMA...'WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 8th August 2013

I have been sitting on this single for a while now wondering whether I should review the one song or not. But why not I thought so here it is :) Verona Septima fronted by Veronika Toivokoski is basically a Symphonic Metal Band from Finland, yep Finland folks, a country that sure has belief in this style of music. This single is a tasty morsel of Symphonic Metal, great musicianship throughout and catchy to boot. Veronika Toivokoski's vocals verge on the operatic and we have some nice melodic guitar work from Esa Mikkola, with whom I must thank for sending me this single. I cannot really score a single song, but an album based on what we have here (one is due later this year I am told), will sure be a must buy! Check them out here. (Dave)

UNSHINE...'DARK HALF RISING'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 31st July 2013

Unshine fronted by the elegantly voiced Susanna Vesilahti, was formed during 2001 in Helsinki. In the very beginning the band was invited to a European-wide pop-contest in Bilbao, Spain. Then in 2004, a Finnish company offered a record deal to the band. The self-recorded and self produced debut album 'Earth Magick', was released during 2005 both in Europe and in North America. During the following years, the band toured and prepared the second album, 'The Enigma Of Immortals'. That album gained official chart positions in Finland and the songs on the album received airplay on number of radio stations, including Bruce Dickinson's BBC Friday Rock Show here in the UK. Now we have their latest offering compliments of Massacre Records, and this is another good album from this Finnish Druid Metal band. 11 tracks of very catchy Folk and at times Gothic inspired Rock & Metal music that will have you dancing around the camp fire in no time at all. Awesome stuff here - listen to the wonderfully titled 'The Oath To Wilderness of Unredeemed Nature', the catchy 'Spellbinder' and the even more catchier 'Defender Of His Faith', very good indeed. But the icing on the cake on this very good album has to be the near 13 minute epic 'Ikuinen Taistelu' - wonderful! If you like your music melodic and folky with some amazing vocals from Susanna that to me make this album and band what it is, then you must buy this when it gets released (23rd August)! 9/10 (Dave)

UNDER HEAVEN...'NOCTURNES FOR THE DIVINE & THE DAMNED'

(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 29th July 2013

Under Heaven from Toronto, Canada, were formed in the summer of 2006 by composer Matthew Binks, who performs all the music, and his search for the right voice that would capture all the elements he envisioned was fulfilled when he was introduced through a friend to gorgeous Tammy Everett, with their début album 'What Lies Between' released back in 2007. Now after a long gap this brand new album is at last released, was it worth the wait? Matt's musical vision encompasses European symphonic gothic metal, mixed with Celtic, classical and even some electronica influences, floating around Mother Earth/Silent Force era Within Temptation, Liv Moon, and modern Nightwish. Tammy has a delightful light operatic style, but she can also let loose some Akane Liv esque screams, Matt really has found the perfect voice. The whole album is a panoply of prime cuts that runs the full gamut of flavours from fragile to fearsome, packed with more hooks than a burlesque dancer's corset, tons of glorious choruses, laced with Matts guitar licks, featuring his outstanding orchestrations that sound extremely realistic, and all perfectly produced. Fast and furious numbers include the opener 'Let's Play', 'Don't Hold Back' (with its “come on, come on” hook), and the fun 'Day at the Races' (nothing to do with Queen) that's a real tongue twister for Tammy. Celtic and folky numbers include the jolly 'O' Sweet Claire' (no, not Gilbert O'Sullivan), the ballad 'The Tale' with its very authentic sounding bagpipes, the inspirational 'Realm', the gorgeous ballad 'The Ghost I Am' and the plaintive closer 'SpiritScape', plus there is even a superb Chopin style piano piece 'Nocturne in A Flat'. My two faves are the numbers that encapsulate their sound, 'Inner Demons' with its terrific refrain, and 'Sinergy' (note the I) with its electronica groove. This is an album of divine nocturnes, pure and perfect symphonic gothic metal, if you enjoy this genre, or just damn good music, then this will fill your nights with pleasure, just ascend to their heaven at www.under-heaven.com/ . This just about sums up everything I love about this type of music, romance, passion, drama, melody, sound, not too heavy, not too light, in fact just right, a faultless 10/10 (Phil)

VOICIANO...'EVERFLOW'

(Self Release) Reviewed 24th July 2014

Items of sheer quality and beauty must be appreciated and here we have something that demands appreciation. VOICIANO 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 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)

WINDFALL...'TALES OF AN ORDINARY LIFE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 26th July 2013

Windfall come from Italy and they play Melodic Metal with a Symphonic and Progressive undercurrent, featuring the rock style vocals of Francesca Tedeschi. I was first introduced to this band back in 2011 when I reviewed their EP 'Crush'. The four numbers from that EP are all featured here, and the other five all gel well to give us a rather good 9 track album to sink our teeth into. 'Crush', being the title track to their earlier EP kicks this record off, and well and truly sets the scene for what lies in wait. Great vocals and great keys on this track compliments Tommaso Buzzegoli. And we even hear an accordion! The keys continue to be a dominate force throughout the album with lots of keys/guitar interplay, but let us not forget the workmanship of guitarist Lorenzo Nardi, bassist Marco Patracchini and drummer Matteo Bresci. The pace refuses to let up through the early numbers such as 'Rage, Love & Sex' and the melodic 'Dad Show', with it's guitar solo ), guitar solos till exist - yay! A symphonic and at times Power Metal style also appear on some of the tracks here such as 'The Hunter' and 'Life Forever'. Closer 'Windfall' has an awesome laid back intro before the band kicks in and the track takes off in awesome Power Metal fasion! This album took more than one listen to get into, but if they keep going like this, they could soon be up there with the top guns. Their Facebook is here and not a ballad in sight!...8.5/10 (Dave)

ZOE ANN...2012 EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 8th May 2013

Zoe Ann, an award winning rock/pop, singer/songwriter/musician from Dallas, has dominated many indie charts over the past three years and continues breaking chart records. She has a consistently growing fan base, in the U.S. and abroad, and a rapidly growing repertoire of radio friendly music. This EP is her 2012 release and consists of three rockin radio friendly Pop/Rock tunes that will rock ya sox off and have you demanding more! And the girl can belt out a ballad too, 'Wake me Up' is being helped to raise money for the documentary "Battlefield of the Mind", which exposes the problem with war Vets and the issues with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, among other problems they face when arriving home. This is good stuff in the style of Paramore, Avril Lavigne and the like, and is well worth checking out HERE. .. 8/10 (Dave)

WISE GIRL...S/T EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 6th May 2013

Wise Girl is a melodic power pop/ rock outfit crafted and fronted by songwriter Abby Weitz, hailing from the heart of Manhattan, New York. A native New Yorker, Weitz earlier led the adrenaline-fueled punk group, the Lookaways, which became known for playing notorious clubs around the city such as Sin-E, Lit Lounge, Don Hill’s, including the legendary CBGB’s, as well as playing the Van’s Warped Tour. Here, Abby and the band present us with a three track EP of Quirky Power Pop - 'Set In Stone' being the opening number and the single which in itself is receiving rave reviews, and just shows the awesome musical direction Abby is taking this band. Next up 'Wishful Thinking' is in-fact one of my faves from the EP, a great mid tempo melodic plodder, while closer 'Roles Are Reversed' is a quirky song that sticks around in your head begging to be played again. Indeed, all three songs here have this uncanny ability to stick to you like glue. Their FaceBook is here and the EP can be purchased from iTunes. Good stuff... 8.5./10 (Dave)

VARNA...'THIS TIME IT'S PERSONAL'

(Self Release EP) Reviewed 6th April 2013

Here we have an interesting three tracker that if the quality here was extended to a full length album, then we would be talking massive. Varna hail from Los Angeles and is fronted by Tiana Woods, with Rossen Pinakas on guitar and Rob Shin on drums. Musically, let us assume Kelly Clarkson meets Evanescence, throw in bags of attitude and we are more or less there. The three tracks here simply rock, and remind me to an extent of Florida band Faces Of March, who Ravenheart Music has been associated with in the past. All I can say is check this band out HERE and have a listen. This is rather good, it should not be ignored and as a consequence deserves one's attention... 9/10 (Dave)

VAJRA...'PLEROMA'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd April 2013

New York based Vajra was formed by Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Annamaria Pinna, and their music is hauntingly dark and hypnotic, weaving Eastern Indian themes with melodic, progressive rock creating foreboding and mysterious lullabies. Sylvia Massy (Tool, System of A Down, Prince, Johnny Cash) co-produced the vocals and mix. Tom Baker (NIN, Foo Fighters, Ministry, Prince) mastered the whole affair. And you know what, this is flippin' good. Opener 'Inside The Flame' shows those aformentioned Eastern Indian themes being mixed with some high octane rock, and is a damn good way to start this very impressive album. Just when you recovered from the opener, 'Almost One' is a hypnotic mid tempo number with a rather catchy melodic chorus, while 'India' is a haunting, atmospheric, synth infused instrumental, just listen through headphones! The vocals return on 'Blind', great vocals by the way compliments of Annamaria, while 'Intuition' is another mid tempo number, melodic, thought provoking and totally awesome! The first five numbers have left me spellbound, with the second half of the album equally as good. 'Erode The Will' continues the mid tempo melodic theme, and indeed is a fave of mine from this recording, while '3.14' to my ears has crossover potential, another great song from this release. The quality doesn't dip with the songs 'See Through You' and the instrumental 'Akkord Pleromy', with the latter showing further mystical Eastern Indian influences. Closer the 8 minute plus 'The Apple' is an epic way to end this little epic of an album. Vajra’s music has left me and will leave you spellbound and hypnotised, so go and check them out here! 8.75/10 (Dave)

VISIONS OF ATLANTIS...'ETHERA'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 12th March 2013

The band revolving around the enchanting and strong-voiced front lady Maxi Nil did not rest on their laurels after releasing their successful album 'Delta' and playing numerous concerts (e.g. Wacken Open Air, Novarock, Masters of Rock). Instead, the musicians focused on the songwriting sessions for a new longplayer. The mystical title 'Ethera' stands for an extraordinary and diverse Symphonic Metal masterpiece. And as a consequence, presents the listener with bombastic and orchestral tracks such as the opening duo of 'The Ark' and the catchy 'Machinage', plus 'Avatara' and 'Burden of Divinity' as well as touching and dreamy power ballads like 'Vicious Circle' and the wonderfully titled and synth driven 'Cave Behind The Waterfall'. Other fave numbers on this release include 'Hypnotized', the interestingly titled and atmospheric 'Bestiality vs Integrity' and the closer 'Clerics Emotion'. The band as confirmed on this release is a master in capturing varying and different moods within their music and thus creating a tightly arranged album, that offers a magical atmosphere from the first to the last song. It is important to point out that the vocal performance of Maxi Nil and Mario Plank sounds so harmonic and sweeping, just like they have been singing together for years. 'Ethera' is a mythical and bombastic journey into the heart of Atlantis! This is well recommended when released end of March/beginning of April, but most fans of the female fronted metal scene would know that anyway :) 8.75/10 (Aimee)

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