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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)
(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)
(Self Release) Reviewed 26th February 2013
Zephrya hail from Sweden, and this is another offering sent my way by the band, and I must say that I am falling in love with these guys and gal. With influences widely spread from Slayer and early Metallica to Evergrey, Dark Tranquility and Iced Earth, the band has created to my ears quite a unique sound. If you are expecting Gothy Operatics, then this will not be your cuppa tea, but the band do offer up some Melodic Thrashy Metal, with a progressive undercurrent occasionally making it's way to the surface. Lead Growler/Vocalist Asa Netterbrant certainly proves she is no person to be messed with, but there again, she has the versatility to swich from growls to clean vocals at the flick of a switch. Tony Netterbrant provides the male vocals on a release that is rather impressive. There are six numbers to sink your teeth into, with opener 'Route 611' kicking off proceedings, showcasing the versatility that is shown within the vocal department. 'Forced Family' is next up, and vocally on this song, Asa reminds me in her less aggressive moments of Summer from the UK band Vampyre Heart. 'Pessimist' and 'Release My Anger' continue the attack on the senses, and then comes my fave from the EP - 'Imprisoned Queen' with it's catchy chorus is rather good, and I would imagine could be a live favourite with those in the mosh pit. The EP closes with the instrumental Kämpaglöd. If you like your metal Thrashy and aggressive but still maintaining a sense of melody with subtle use of keys, this may be right up your alley way. www.zephyra.net/Official/home
is the band's website... 8.5/10 (Dave)
(Self Released) Reviewed 22nd February 2013
Vortigyn is a band from Belgium, and a few days ago, a three track EP dropped into the office here. The accompanying pictures suggested to me that this band were an Indie Pop/Rock band, but there is a saying that says "never judge a book by it's cover". Indeed that is the case as Vortigyn actually offer up three tracks of Melodic Metal with awesome pop/rock vocals from front lady Ester Bortels, accompanied with some subtle grunts from guitarist Joris Jacobien. I actually really enjoyed what was offered here and has actually left me wanting more! Opener 'In Control' is a catchy Melodic Metal number, and second track up 'Words' maintains the momentum and is another catchy song that sees Ester break into operatic mode on occasion - great vocals. Final track 'Lost' starts a little subdued before the guitars and drums kick in. Another melodic number, and I am sure will be a fist pumper when played live. I like this band and they are certainly worth looking out for - their FaceBook is HERE
..... 8.75/10 (Dave)
VESPERA...'DESERT OF THE REAL'
(Self Release) Reviewed 30th January 2013
Music comes and music goes, many bands leave a lasting impression, few don't, but welcome VESPERA who hail from Transylvania, which is a historical region in the central part of Romania. I must say that this band has left an impression on me with this release, I can assure you. Mixing styles that cover a wide variety of musical genres, ranging from rock, industrial, electro and hardcore, but maintaining a huge melodic sensibility in the process, Vespera throw at us 11 tracks of hideously catchy music. The interestingly titled 'Mary of Bethany' kicks the album off, the synths blatantly apparent from the off, as this keys driven and very catchy number bounces along, with vocals here being shared between guitarist Dorin Panduru and leading lady on this album Teodora Bârla. Teodora however, has since left the band and her shoes are now filled by a guy named Dudu Isabel. The synths continue to dominate on 'Fame' that maintains the catchiness of the opener, while there is no let up with the heavier and more metallic 'Behind My Smile'. This so far is a very impressive start to the record. There are further highlights a plenty on this release, including the slower and radio friendly 'Close To Madness', the animated 'Through The Neon Lights' and the awesome and addictive 'Afterglow'. And closer 'Overture (Cupid's Birth)' is a peaceful way to end such a spirited album. I must say that I like this record a lot, and this band are well worth checking out here
. I understand that a second album is in the making, I can't wait! 9/10 (Dave)
WILDESTARR...'A TELL TALE HEART'
(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 28th January 2013
Californians Wildestarr fronted by the awesome and powerful vocal prowess of London Wilde, is the brainchild of ex Vicious Rumors bassist Dave Starr, and is their second release, their first seeing the light of day in 2009, subsequently being reviewed on this very website. The first thing to notice about this release, as with their previous ('Arrival'), is the stunning vocals of London. She is up there amongst the best of them, in the style of say Rob Halford or Geoff Tate. This album falls into the Melodic Power Metal category, and this is confirmed by the opening threesome of 'Immortal', 'Transformis Ligeia' and 'A Perfect Storm'. 'Valkyrie Cry' slows it down a touch, but the first real breather comes with 'Last Holy King'. Even so, this number still exhibits power, and maintains the awesome quality that this release is beginning to show. 'In Staccata' blew my mind, the vocals are massive, while 'Not Sane' has a slightly more progressive edge. 'Seven Shades Of Winter' is a powerful but slower melodic number, with the tracks 'The Pit or the Pendulum' and 'Usher In The Twilight' closing things down. This is a well recorded and well executed release, with Dave showing that not only was he a good bassist in his previous job, he can shred it with the guitar on this release, as well as covering bass duties, with Josh Foster covering drums. For you Melodic Power Metal Heads out there, this is well worth checking out... 8.75/10 (Dave)
(Intono Records/Rough Trade)
Here is a UK band from Brighton offering a set of 12 tight and aggressive songs. Produced by Ace of Skunk Anansie, 'Ignite' showcases the band's raw energy and passion with a tirade of punchy and exciting songs. It is representative of the years of writing and gigging as well as the blood, sweat and occasionally the tears, that the band have shed to get to the point that they are now at in their musical careers. Formed in Brighton in 2009, YOUR ARMY fronted by Lucy Caffrey has gained a strong following by playing killer headline shows throughout the UK as well as supporting some top bands; Feeder and We are Scientists to name a few. This album is a high energy asault on the senses, just listen to opener 'Without Regret', the debut single 'No Good', which picked up radio airplay here, the catchy and familiar sounding 'One Last Time' (I swear I have heard this tune on the radio here as well), 'Sleeping With Her' and the closer 'Chase The World' to name just five! Imagine a good old dose of Hard Rock coupled with some Pop sensibilities - kinda like Halestorm or The Pretty Reckless and that is the route Your Army is taking. This band is well worth checking out so visit their FaceBook
and find out for yourselves... 8.5/10 (Dave)
WINGS OF THE FALLEN... EP
(Self Released) Reviewed 10th January 2013
Here we have a band from Belgium that give us a dose of metal that will awaken your senses and kick your butts into gear. Fronted by Dana Del Favero, the band steamroller 5 tracks at us. Opener 'Shadow of Sorrow' has the word "metal" stamped all over it and by the time you pick yourself up off the floor, 'Vengeance Burns' will put you back down there again, great stuff! Music that is meant to be played and played loud! 'Godless Resurgence' is another up tempo number but with an element of quirkyness added to it. 'Fall From Grace' is more Power Metal while the interestingly titled and laid back 'First Class Musician' ends this little platter. To summarise, this is metal with melody offered to us by a band that has recorded this record themselves and they even manage themselves, therefore keeping it all in the 'family'. Their Facebook is here
.. 8/10 (Dave)
VAMPYRE HEART...'THE GHOST OF TIME'
(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 3rd January 2013
It is time to rock folks as the rockers from Bournemouth bring us their debut offering - 14 tracks and two cds of Electro Gothic Rock that I guarantee will have your feet tapping, and if it doesn't, then you need to get a life :) I have seen Vampyre Heart (click here for their Facebook)
develop over the past few years, and I hope that vocalist Summer will not mind me saying that she was once involved in a nasty bike accident. This accident only made her and the band more determined to succeed, and succeed they are doing. The band is amazingly popular on the underground circuit, and I must say that they have kept their fans happy with this release. Many punters that have seen them live will be familiar with many of the songs on this album, and I feel immensely proud to be associated with them. They typify hard working musicians knowing that fame and popularity won't come to you, you have to get out there and work your butts off to get it. The title track kicks things off, and I am almost reminded of Massive Attack with regards some of the instrumentation. And to be perfectly honest, if you like the opener, you will like the album, period. 'Devils Mercy' is the next up, and I can see Summer on stage dancing around to this one like a demented Rhino LOL! There is no let up to the awesome music, which continues with the rockin' and more metallic 'Hell Raised Why', through the slower 'Crazy Maybe', the upbeat 'Why Did You' and the closer on Cd1, the up tempo 'Evil Eyes'. CD2 gives us four numbers totaling roughly 28 mins and is equally as good, from the 9 minute plus opener 'Afraid' through to the 8 minute + closer 'Come Love Me Tonight'. I have already ensured that copies of this cd have sneaked their way to people I know in the USA, a country where this band could and should do well. I know I have praised Summer, but the man basically behind all the noise is Summer's hubby D Soul. All tracks to-date have primarily been composed, produced and mixed by D Soul, and mastered by Rich ‘Mixer’ Ott (USA). And let's not forget bassist Taff amongst all this too! I know this release is on the Ravenheart label, and I also know that I am good buddies with the band making my review perhaps a little biased, but having spoken to Ravenheart Aimee who has also listened to this cd and lived with it for a wee while, we have decided that this album is well worthy of a 9/10 (Dave & Aimee)
VRAK...'I DREAM' EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 29th December 2012
Vrak is an upcoming Swedish alternative act featuring the inimitable voice and sound of Josefin Finér. This EP offers up 4 tracks and 13 minutes of mid tempo rock music that has that kinda commercial feel - not too heavy and quite listenable. 'Targets' to my ears is one of my faves on the EP, while closing track 'Sister' has a heavier feel to it. This is not a bad effort by this Swedish Band and is one to put into the "keep an eye on" folder. Their Facebook is here
VALFREYA...'PATH TO ETERNITY'
(Maple Metal Records) Reviewed 13th December 2012
Canadian Viking/folk/Melodic Black metal band VALFREYA is a six member band from Montreal, Canada. The band’s frontwoman, Crook, has a vocal range of symphonic clean vocals to that of guttural growls. Crook is indeed the main composer of ‘Path to Eternity’ (that was released earlier in the year) along with key contributions from guitar player Graz’zt, keyboardist Shark, and all the band members. Influenced by bands like Moonsorrow, Equilibrium, Arkona and Wintersun, VALFREYA portray a more aggressive and energetic take on the folk metal genre. The title track is a short intro that leads us into 'Deity's Grace' and it becomes immediately apparent how versatile Crook's vocals are - a great heavy Folk metal number with heavier moments interspersed with quiter more solitude elements. The heaviness and folky aggression continues with 'Inferno' and 'Beyond Illusions' that may have some of you running to the hills for solitude! The aural onslaught continues with 'Oceans Assault' and 'Confront Immensity' and indeed there is no let up as we hit the 10th track, the outro 'My Glorious Death'. This album is a very heavy and intense listening experience, and I did find the music on offer a little overpowering at times and also a little samey, and I felt relieved when Crook's clean vocals came to the rescue on occasion. However, for fans of Black/Pagan Metal with Folk elements, this I imagine will be a must buy, so light up your camp fires folks... 7.75/10 (Dave)
ZOE SCHWARZ BLUE COMMOTION...'GOOD TIMES'
(33 Records) Reviewed 28th November 2012
Wanna taste of the Blues? How about giving Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion a listen? 14 tracks of music to send fans of the Blues all into a dither. The band is a UK based six piece, drawing upon the melting pot of popular music past and present. I must admit myself that I am not a total fan of blues music, but I can tell upon listening to this record, that there are some good tunes here. Listen to 'Fine and Mellow' as one example. The hammond organ is to be heard in all it's splendour throughout the album, plus the good old harmonica - great stuff. And the vocals of Bournemouth based Zoe - awesome! For all you Blues fans out there, check them out here
! 8/10 (Dave)
WHISPERING TALES..'AD ABOLENDAM, ASHES, BLOOD and STARS'
(Self Release) Reviewed 19th November 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed doing the special review of this French symphonic metal bands début album, 'Echoes of Perversion', available to read here
. They have now recorded a special EP containing a trilogy of epics based on the atrocities carried out by the medieval Roman Catholic Church against people they saw as heretics and their desire to retain their almighty power and total authority, with the intention to draw parallels with the events of today where terrible evils are committed by people who are supposed to be men of god. The issues and themes are a very important part of the album so I will cover them in some detail. The EP's title comes from the Ad Abolendum (on abolition) which was a 1184 Papal Bull by Pope Lucius III outlining the Church's measures against all they considered heretics, which resulted in the events covered by the songs. The first is about the Cathars, a Christian sect that grew up in the 11th century, they were a simple people whose religious beliefs were in sharp contrast to those of Rome. Rome saw them as a threat to their power, especially the Cathar's anti materialistic views as Rome enjoyed great wealth, and so they responded by sending the Albigensian Crusade to destroy them in their main heartland in the Languedoc region in the south west of France. In the resulting war around half a million people died and 'Ashes In The Field' is about the infamous massacre of the Cathars at Montségur Castle, where 250 men, women and children were burnt alive in 1244 for refusing to give up their faith. It is shocking that this level of intolerance and cruelty based on beliefs is still so prevalent, this is about an historical event, but it could have been written about today. 'Limpieza De Sangre', which means 'Cleanliness of Blood', is about the notorious Spanish Inquisition, and the laws against anyone who they consider to not have 'pure' Christian blood, for example those with Jewish or Muslim ancestry, which has terrifying comparisons with modern fascism, racism, and ethnic cleansing. 'Sidereus Nuncius', Starry Messenger, takes it's name from the 1610 book by Galileo Galilei, where he first suggested that the Earth was not the centre of the universe, an observation first made by the ancient Greeks, which was in stark contradiction to Rome's Aristotelian world view, where the Earth, and in particular the Vatican, was the centre of the universe. In 1633 Galileo was put on trial by for heresy for suggesting that the earth revolved around the sun, this had nothing to do with faith or science, but everything to do with politics, Rome was the centre of the universe and therefore power, and anyone who suggested otherwise must be stopped at all costs. This truly superb, thought provoking EP can be downloaded for free from their website here
, pick up a copy of their album too! A remarkable 9/10 (Phil)
ZOMBIE RODEO...PROMO EP
(Self Released) Reviewed 31st October 2012
Zombie Rodeo fronted by Tiina is a Helsinki-based rock band, whose first promo came out in October 2011. Since then, the band has been going through some changes, but their second promo came out September 2012, including three new songs offering up a more straightforward, gritty sound, and this can be heard quite simply in the three tracks on offer here. No Gothic or Operatic shenanigans on this promo, just balls to the wall rock! 'Stuck UP' kicks things off and immediately tells you what path this band is treading. 'In Love With The Dead' will knock you back against the aforementioned wall, while 'Follow Confusion' offers no let up. This is gritty hard rock with attitude a plenty, so go check them out and find out for yourself here
. 8/10 (Dave)
UNSEELIE...'UNHOLY LIGHT' EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 29th October 2012
UNSEELIE fronted by Anne-Emmanuelle Fournier was founded at the end of 2010 in Paris, and the band has kindly sent me this three track EP (their first). The music here is profound and intense being full of emotion, combining mysticism with modernity, darkness with a dreamlike atmosphere, powerful riffs with haunting melodies. The operatic vocals of Anne-Emmanuelle are totally awesome, and this becomes immediately apparent in the massive opener 'Ounen-Nefer', so powerful and yet so melancholic if that makes sense, and with a taste of the Orient - take a listen. Second track 'Le Printemps De Desdemone' is a slower rather more atmospheric number, almost sensual in it's feel. Closer 'The Age of Kali' ups the tempo again and in the process maintains the high quality of this little epic, and we even get gutteral vocals on this track compliments of Anne-Emmanuelle herself. This band is showing great promise and a full length album will be something to look forward to, so check them out here
. This is damn good!! ..8.5/10 (Dave)
VICTORIANS - ARISTOCRATS SYMPHONY - 'REVIVAL'
(Self Release) Reviewed 22nd October 2012
Victorians - Aristocrat's Symphony, to give their full name, have a rich visual and cultural imagery, one hundred years ago their ancestors founded The V Lodge, to represent their Victorian values of exploration, invention, creativity, artistry, aestheticism, and vampirism. Now this Polish band are keepers of The V Lodge, and appropriately they dress in rich romantic robes, inspired by Japanese visual Kei, Lolita fashion and bands like Versailles, who did a song, perhaps not coincidently, called Aristocrat's Symphony, and they have equally theatrical names, Eydis, V., Utis and Mr Nice. Their music is classic symphonic metal with massive orchestrations, in the realm of Silent Force era Within Temptation, Illuminata, Winter in Eden, Teodasia and Silent Opera, heading towards Ancient Bards by the end of the album. This is a set of 10 thrill packed, cinematic, wide-screen, dynamic, dramatic, concise EPICS, with EPIC in capital letters, more EPIC than Ben-Hur and El Cid put together, it will make you want to don your armour, mount you mighty steed, and go charging off on heroic quests in ancient lands of legend. Entrancing Eydis has a wondrous, stupendous, part operatic, part semi operatic, part rock voice, her voice changing to suit the music, from deep and rich to soaring into the heavens, incredible. I've heard that a certain Finnish band are looking for a singer, well, she could do their entire repertoire standing on her head, so I would suggest that they lock her up in The V Lodge, and throw away the key. The whole album is fantastic non-stop romp, as one song fades, the next comes charging in, with songs like the catchy rocking 'In The End', 'Siren' where Eydis's bewitching call sent me crashing off the couch in a state of rapture, the majestic regal 'Prince of Night', and the final clap-along anthem 'Creed'. It's all rounded off with a suitably EPIC reverberating resounding sound by top Polish producer Mariusz Pietka. These valiant Victorians are the new victorious viscounts of classic symphonic metal delivering a fantasia of EPICness, with a singer who can earn them a place on the dais with the upper echelons of European metal nobility. You will find their V Lodge here
, an aristocratic 9.25/10 (Phil)
WEEPING SILENCE...'FOR THE UNSUNG'
(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 15th October 2012
Malta's Weeping Silence are the only band on the planet you cannot accuse of sounding like Within Temptation, because they were founded at the same time with the same roots in the European doom scene, undergoing a similar transformation into a more symphonic gothic metal sound, but Weeping Silence have remained true to their gothic heritage. Compared to their last album 'Theatre of Life', this new one sees a ramp up in power and sonic quality, with some of those doom roots showing through, but in no way the turgid wrist slashing doom, just a deeper and more majestic style. The most controversial change is the addition of the growls of newest member Joe Gretch and special guest Anders Jacobson from Draconian, who appears on a couple of tracks, this is bound to split opinion, but what I will say is they are deep and not overpowering. Still out front are the wonderful emotive vocals of Rachel Grech, similar in style to Sharon Den Adel before she went more alt-rock, or vice versa and Sharon is similar to Rachel of course. It all comes wrapped in a stunning digipak designed by one of the World's top album artists, Jan Orkki Yrlund of Darkgrove (who is also guitarist with Imperia), which illustrates their concept of unsung heroes through the tragic Greek myth of the Coronides, daughters of Orion. They open with the beautiful introduction 'Mourning Sighs Farewell' which segues into the powerful, souring, lead song 'Love Lies Bleeding', featuring Anders, for which the band have made their first ever video (on Female Voices), showing off their new sound in all its glory, courtesy of top French producer Brett Calda-Lima. ' Disillusioned' really powers along, easing for one of their trademark stirring rousing refrains, and 'Mire of Pity' prowls and stalks menacingly. The next two are heavier, darker and more intense, the yearning 'The Search Within', the other song with Anders, and the dramatic 'Fallen From Grace'. These are followed by the dynamic stomping 'Bitter Screams' and 'The Darkest Hour' which sweeps from atmospheric ballad to mighty ferocity. Final track is the sombre 'My Possession' which is perhaps the song that is closest to their doom roots. All the songs allow plenty of space for the band to display their musical prowess, with terrific instrumental passages featuring Manuel's guitar leads and Alison's rippling piano. Weeping Silence have created a towering triumph of symphonic gothic metal, with an incredible immense sound and depth of emotion that stirs the soul, they are destined to send the world of metal ablaze, no longer will they be the unsung. You can discover them here
, a majestic 9.25/10 (Phil)
(Brennus/UK & Ireland distro by Ravenheart Music)
Yotangor was formed in 2008 by Jean-Guy Pichoustre, author, composer and guitar player, together with luscious lead singer Yngrid Allieres. They created their first album, ‘King Of The Universe’, in 2009 with some old friends, Tony Marcos on drums, bassist Patrice Hernandez and the virtuoso guitarist Vincent Agar. This was a hugely ambitious double concept album with 26 epic tracks, and is widely regarded as an all time classic. Now joined by new keys man Damien Castex, they are back with a new symphonic rock opus, ‘We Speak’, although not a double, they have still packed 70 minutes of wonderful music into these grooves. This new one is not a concept album, but it does pick up on some of the themes from 'King of the Universe, including racism, the environment, deforestation and the problems afflicting the world today. Yotangor are like a supergroup comprising Ayreon, later Pink Floyd , Fleetwood Mac, Boston and the Bangles brought bang up to date to produce hook laded arena rock, with prog, pop and symphonic facets, starring Yngrid's sweet pop voice and the rip roaring rock guitar work of Vincent.They set out their stall with the opening duo of terrific tunes, the awesome arena anthem 'Anonymous' (video on Female Voices), and the infectious 'Hold Me Tight' which is tailor made for mainstream radio play. The next song 'Save Me' features the Nueva Alborada massed choir and a dramatic speech by Daniel Antoine before the rocking song kicks in. The other 10 tracks offer a similar mix of pop rockers like 'Come and Fly', arena rockers like 'Kings of the Day', mini rock operas like 'Eyes On', thought provoking dramatic songs like 'Racism' and 'Enslaved', classics like 'I Keep Running', and it's all summed up by the epic closer 'Love is Passion', all perfectly produced by Jean-Guy. Yotangor have the potential to be massive across the globe, they have the look, the songs, the musicianship and the sound that will have universal appeal to all discerning rock fans, successfully combining the accessible with the intelligent. You can find them here
, this is so good, I'm speechless, 9.5/10 (Phil)
(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 14th September 2012
The mighty French formation, founded in 2007 by guitarist Vynce Leff, return with the eagerly anticipated follow up to their outstanding 2009 début, ‘From the Brink of Infinity’. Their music sits in it’s own unique place, they are the prog rock and metal loving cousins of a modern but heavier Nightwish and a grow less Epica. Brand new singer Elvyne Lorient does sound at times rather like Anette Olzon, her sweet voice juxtaposed against the tumultuous typhoon raging behind her, she does an incredible job of not getting swept away in the cyclone, standing loud and proud, personified by her peerless performance on ‘Cassandra’s Mirror’, and she enjoys the support of their very own Dark Whispers Choir, who also appear with the band at their shows. Once again Vynce’s production pulls off the seemingly impossible task of keeping the 16,000 things that are going on simultaneously as clear as a bell, as well as making it sound like a homogeneous whole, quite how he does it without it turning into soup defies all logic. They are a fantastic and hugely entertaining band live, but it’s interested how they strip away all the complexity, and concentrate on rocking the place and having a good time. This is a set of eleven thundering throbbing thumping songs with immense refrains, 70 minutes of music rammed into the grooves, including the totally staggering, jaw dropping ‘On The Road to Babylon’, which sounds at times something like Yes gone symphonic heavy metal, afterwards they allow a few moments of quiet for us to recover before the dramatic ballad ‘Paper Princess’ with it’s extraordinary Rachmaninov esque piano by Marc. Other highlights include the Celtic flavoured ‘Lonely Roads’, the swaggering 'The Foreseer' and the closing humungous epic ‘Cathedral of the Damned’. Every song has so much going on you can listen to this until the end of time and still find something new, like Xavier's terrific bass solo in ‘Venom and Frustration’ which Jaco Pastorius would be proud of, and the orchestral arrangement's by Vynce are simply wondrous. Whyzdom have produced a mind boggling, colossal, awe inspiring album that will have every symphonic metal fan salivating, especially those of a prog persuasion. Their website can be found here
, a mind blowing 9.5/10 (Phil).
WEENDO...'YOU NEED TO KNOW YOURSELF'
(Self Release) Reviewed 21st August 2012
Weend'ô, pronounced Window, from Aquitaine in France, were formed in 2005 by vocalist/keyboardist Laetitia Chaudemanche and guitarist Térence N'Guyen Van. They gathered together a team of virtuoso musicians to produce sleek ultra modern melodic prog rock/metal that is in the realm of Porcupine Tree, The Reasoning, Delusion Squared, Magenta, and Ayreon. Lovely Laetitia at times has the sort of voice that conjures up images of smoky jazz clubs with the limelight falling on a femme fatal chanteuse, at other times she has a Sinead O'Connor esque passionate attitude, and as can be intimated by the album title, the album is full of Laetitia's deep philosophical lyrics. On 'Dark Element', 'Betrayal', 'Run Away' and 'Deadline' they lay down a cool jazzy groove during the verses, founded on Térence and Rodolphe's glistening echoing intertwining guitars, Maxime's bubbling fluid bass, Laetitia's synth pads and Nathanaël's rolling drums, then erupt into driving dynamic action for the refrains. Lead track 'Experience' (video on Female Voices) and title track 'The Need to Know Yourself' are more rocking, and the album proper ends with the moving piano ballad 'The Soulmate'. The most striking track is the threatening pounding 'Welcome In My Mind', although I have the funny feeling I am not actually welcome in Laetitia's mind, and I thought I was imagining the touch of punk until Laetitia sings “I've entered a murky and hysterical place, a crowd of fans wanting to take off, they pogo too high”. There are plenty of displays of incredible instrumental prowess, but the song itself always come first, even on the couple of longer tracks where they stretch out, and it's all beautifully produced by Olivier Marot. Unusually you get longer versions of ‘Dark Element’ and ‘Experience’, and a shorter version of ‘Betrayal’ as bonus tracks. What makes this package really special is you also get a full length, top quality, professionally filmed live DVD as well, with all eight songs off the album, plus two more, the acoustic ‘My Dear M’ and the thrashing powerful ‘Why Not’, all with excellent sound and light show, showing the incredible skill of the musicians and Laetitia passionate stage presence. Normally these bonus DVD’s are a couple of songs, not a full production, it’s really excellent and well worth the money on its own.
France are producing a new breed of contemporary, sophisticated and accessible melodic prog bands, based on superb songwriting, and performed with great skill. You need to know their website is here
, their Bandcamp is here
, this is a wonderful and fantastic value package so 9.25/10 (Phil)
VENTURIA...'DAWN OF A NEW ERA'
(Lion Music) Reviewed 15th August 2012
French melodic metal band VENTURIA fronted by Lydie Lazulli are back with their third album, one which boasts a more refined direct sound full of powerful songs, beautiful melodies, catchy riffs and sophisticated arrangements. The band origins stem back to the mid 2000's. After signing a record deal with Lion Music in 2005, Venturia's first album 'The New Kingdom' was released in April 2006. This debut album was highly acclaimed by media worldwide with many calling it a new voice for the progressive metal genre. October 2008 saw 'Hybrid' (Lion Music) released and again media sang the praises of the band. Venturia then played some gigs and festivals in Europe during 2009. Later that year for practical reasons the band parted ways with American male singer Marc Ferreira with guitarist, keys player and producer Charly Sahona taking on the duty of lead male vocalist in the band. That aforementioned refined direct sound is highlighted by the fact that the album only boasts 8 tracks running in at a little under 40 mins (a little unusual for Lion Music), but effectively we have an all killer no filler album here. 'Devil In Disguise' kicks things off and sets the benchmark - a very catchy number with heavy guitar and an element of keyboard based orchestration thrown into the melting pot as well. The mid paced, pounding and melodic 'Secret Dream' follows and maintains the high quality of the opener, while the up tempo 'A New Dawn Rising' starts with a sophisticated cacophony of guitar, before the seductive sounding vocals of Lydie kick in, this number offering another somewhat catchy chorus to boot. 'What We're Here For' is a melodic thumper with a great keyboard interlude halfway, Charly can sure hammer those keys and this is followed by the very commercial sounding 'What If I', this is possibly one of my faves from this record - totally awesome. The quality doesn't drop either through the closing trio of 'Phoenix', 'Spritual Path' and 'A Land Of Dreams', the latter being a 7 minute plus epic.'Dawn Of A New Era' marks an extremely powerful third album from Venturia, and gets released 21 September. Well recommended... 8.75/10 (Dave)
YIELDNG BRANCH...'FIGHT FOR A CHANGE'
(Self Release) Reviewed 8th August 2012
Yielding Branch is a duo of sisters Paola Gargano on vocals and Giovanna on keyboards, supported by a team of musicians, from Italy's beautiful Amalfi Coast. They released their first album ‘Pieces of Truth’ in 2006 and have been working on this follow up since then, and have already started on their next ‘Aequlibrium’. A yielding branch is a flexible branch of the tree that although exposed to the extremes of the weather still produces a rich crop of fruit, and this is a very appropriate for their own unique organic wind blown slant on classic Italian, Maledia esque, gothic metal, that is mixed with elements of symphonic metal, electronica, Celtic rock and dark wave. The songs swirl, spiral, sweep and sway, driven by crunchy guitars, lead by Giovann’s ornate keyboards, and topped by Paola’s emotional vocals, a merging of the powerful and the ethereal, almost at times like Enya gone metal, heightened by the multi-layered reverb drenched sound that only adds to the haunting atmosphere. This a collection of dramatic emotive songs that ebb and flow like the more rocking opener 'Cymber's Waterfall' and the the more melancholic 'The Sound of Tears', with some more electro numbers like 'Choices' with it's shuffling beat and the instrumental 'The Disclosure' that shows that Giovanna's multifarious keyboards are the real highlight throughout, it's nice that instead of being buried behind the guitars, they are to the fore. This labour of love is an absorbing, emotional, artistic album with an unearthly atmosphere and mysterious ambiance that will appeal to aficionados of ethereal gothic metal. Their Facebook is here
, a fruitful 8.25/10 (Phil)
VIPER VENON...'IN VENOM VERITAS'
(Self Release) Reviewed 5th July 2012
The name Viper Venom would suggest some venomous music with an added bite! And yep, that just about sums this cd up from this Italian band. We have 10 tracks here of Metal Mayhem, and I mean Metal, no operatics here or tasty ballads. Just an aural assault of music coupled with loadsa attitude, with the screams coming from Miriam In Chains (whatever happened to Alice?). Vocally, Miriam is unique and perhaps a little unusual, but it works well within the music on offer. The remainder of the band puts in a sterling performance too. With tracks like 'Dirt In Veins', 'Coma', 'Infected Scar' and 'Angina', these titles alone will give you an idea in which direction Viper Venom is travelling. The bonus cut 'Eva' does slow it down a touch however, and even enters Progressive Rock territory, but by and large this is a great treat for the metal fan out there, so why not treat yourself. Slither along to their venomous myspace abode here
, as Viper Venom confirm to some of the doubters out there, that not all female fronted music has to be Operatic or Gothic...8/10 (Dave)
(Self Release) Reviewed 11th June 2012
After 10 years of pounding around pubs and clubs all over the country, Zocalo are finally releasing thier debut album 'Sunrise'. Basically we have thundering Southern grooves at their finest, a hard grooving, heavy-blues based band where the riff is king. Fronted by Sarah Humphries, this band from SE England know how to produce a bunch of foot stomping tunes. No operatic or gothic meanderings here, just pure pulsating undliluted hard rock, from the stirring opener 'Swimming Against The Tide' to the closer and title track 'Sunrise'. 'Carved From Stone' slows it down with a strong taste of the Blues with awesome vocals from frontlady Sarah. This is a well produced effort from this band, the musicianship overall is excellent and the cd is well worth checking out as a consequence. Their Facebook is here
- the album is well recommended! 8.5/10 (Dave)
ZEPHYRA...'FIRST BLOOD' EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 7th June 2012
I reviewed a six track demo by this hard working Swedish band back in August 2010, and I seem to recall that I was suitably impressed with what I heard then, with the seeds being sown for even better to come from these musicians. I would like to say that I am now further impressed with this latest offering from this band. 'First Blood' sees Zephyra (formed in 2009) move forward in leaps and bounds, with the vocals of leading lady Åsa Netterbrant very versatile. She proves that not only can she growl like a demented monster, but she can also sing like a sweet angel too - totally awesome! Their previous EP had a subtle progressive vibe running through it, but this five track offering takes on an altogether heavier direction, and I think that is a good move from the band's point of view. Opener 'Undone' kicks things off on a heavy and rather bombastic note, with Asa showcasing the more aggressive side of her vocal style, but next up the awesome 'Loyalty' then shows us the angelic side of Asa's vocal approach! 'Are You Really Blessed' is a mid tempo melodic thumper with a subtle progressive undercurrent, while 'Inside Revealed' slows it down a touch, a great number. There is also an acoustic version of the aforementioned 'Are You Really Blessed' that closes this cd. To summarise, Zephyra offer up melancholic progressive riffs, with really heavy parts, coupled with melodic and occasional catchy choruses. This is good and worthy of one's attention, and I reckon a band well worth seeing live too. Their Facebook is here
WEDINGOTH..'THE OTHER SIDE'
(M & O MUSIC) Reviewed 26th April 2012
French band Wedingoth were created in 2007 by sultry singer Laure Flores and guitarist Steve Segarra, releasing their début concept album 'Candlelight' in 2009. As I had not heard this album and knew very little about Wedingoth I did not know what to expect from this follow up, apart from something probably gothic judging by the name, but nothing could have prepared me for what was about to come, my jaw hit the floor so hard, it left a crater. It is again a concept album, this time based on the afterlife and what lies on the other side of the mirror, exploring themes taken from scientific research and various beliefs. It opens with the incredible four part title track, an astonishing, brilliantly constructed, maelstrom of symphonic and gothic metal mixed with melodic prog, packed with a panoply of rock and metal guitars by Steve and fellow guitarist Julian, with their Hammond organs, keyboards and orchestral arrangements, and Laure's pure semi-operatic voice, culminating in the sublime symphonic 'Salvation', but was it all just a dream? Their wanderlust for musical adventures continues with the dramatic dynamic 'No Way Out', the awesome catchy tribal 'Bliss' which reminds me of Jon Anderson, and the seriously rocking 'Mistreated'. The poignant 'La Jeune Martyre' follows (a painting by Delaroche of a female Christian martyr), then the staggering 'Ever After' which combines gorgeous verses with towering refrains, the sound is beyond words. They almost head for speedy power metal with 'Artificial Paradise' featuring a short burst of bassists Robin's anguished growls, and they end with the rolling suitably mystic eastern flavoured 'Meditation', loving the tablas. Steve's production is one of those that you don't notice which means it's faultless, nothing out of balance, everything in the correct place, every instrument sounding just right, leaving you free to simply enjoy the music and the amazing sounds. Wedingoth are living proof that you can take elements from a diverse range of music and mould them into a homogeneous genre defying whole that is totally their own unique creation. I can wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a broad canvass of prog, rock and metal music, so if you want to find out what lies on the other side, head to www.wedingoth.com/
, a jaw dropping 10/10 (Phil)
WINTER IN EDEN...'ECHOES OF BETRAYAL'
(LycanMediaGroup) Reviewed 24th April 2012
Formed in 2009, and from the UK with two releases already under their belt, the awesome Winter In Eden continue to fully impress with this, their latest opus of Symphonic Metal, that will continue to take the genre by storm. Okay, I admit that the band and myself, particularly Vicky and Steve are pretty close in a business and friendship sense, but close or not, 'Echoes of Betrayal' is one helluva release that surely will propel the band into the Premier League, that is assuming they are not already there. Vicky's relaxed vocal style is soft, natural and confident, while the band in general confidently mold together so well, that you would have thought they had been going for years. Stylistically, very different from their female fronted contemporaries, Winter In Eden has a musical grace here on this album which is totally compelling! 'For The Few' lays down the gauntlet with Samuel Cull proving too that he can shred it on the guitar. 'Possession' highlights Steve's keyboard style, totally awesome I might add! Indeed, this is one of my fave numbers on this record. 'The Awakening Chapters III, IV and V' continue from Chapters I and II from their previous release, Chapter V being a totally cool piano led instrumental full of emotion. 'Trapped' sees Vicky back in action, and with another cool guitar solo to boot - "You won't find the real me, I've been lost in a fantasy". Damn sure some of us have been there, while 'Lies' is a heavier sounding number with Vicky stamping her authority, with the lyrics "I just can't stand your lies, lies, lies". Yep, I think I and others can relate to that in the past. 'Suffer In Silence' is a complex and heavy number, while the track 'Eyes of a Child'. Well just read the lyrics to this one as I am sure some families can relate - a family break up. Daddy has left home, but he has a new family and HIS child does not fit into his/her Dad's new family anymore! Sad but true!! 'What We Leave Behind' is another moving emotional song, while 'Stone Cold' has a progressive feel. Closer 'The Secret Room' rounds off what is going to be one of my albums of the year. Regards the music here (some tracks of which have already been showcased at some of their live gigs), well it is a lyrical roller coaster ride of emotions for any listener, many of these emotions we can relate to including myself. A purchase is a must for the music fan out there. This is a mighty release from a mighty band, and the only way for them from now is UP!!! Vicky's day job is a Solicitor, so on this your honour, I rest my case! 10/10 (Dave)
WINTER HAZE...'SILENT DECEPTION' EP
(Self Released) Reviewed 22nd April 2012
Wow! What can I say about this awesome Italian Band fronted by the rather good looking Giorgia, and not only can this lass sing, she graduated in a Conservatory of Music in Saxophone. She plays sax, piano, bass guitar, guitar and flute, so she is not just a pretty face! And her saxophone playing can be heard in the rather catchy opener 'Cross The Sea'. The sexy smooth sounding sax intro sets the scene before drums, guitars and synths come blasting out of the speakers in a wall of sound, that will knock the senses out of you. And I will say that this is one of the coolest openers one will hear this year in this style of music - damn cool! 'Vacuum' provides a ferocious growl from keyboards player Stefano, this track offering a powerful Beauty & Beast sound. The title track commences with an operatic vocal intro, and this track is another B&B special, also showing the versatility of Giogia's voice that can swing from an operatic to a rock style at will. Closer 'The Watchmaker', is a classic with Symphonic elements, and like the other tracks here, showcases Giorgia's awesome vocals. 'Silent Deception' is a gratifying release from this band, offering up a successful melting-pot between symphonic, gothic and power metal coupled with a progressive accent. And I would love to hear more from Winter Haze as and when more numbers become available. This band released their debut album 'The Storm Within' in 2009, and this EP should cement their place within the genre. They should do well, so check them out at their website
ZOMBIE RODEO..PROMO EP
(Self Released) Reviewed 6th April 2012
Zombie Rodeo fronted by Tiina, is a Helsinki-based rock band formed in 2010. This is their first promo cd, which emerged in October 2011. We have three groovy songs on this Ep which exibit stoner rock influences. Opener 'Blind-eye Blues exibits those aforementioned influences but with a catchy chorus to boot. 'You Shake My 8 Ball Wrong' is track number 2 and I am beginning to feel that Zombie Rodeo would rock out live! Rather good! Closer 'Ajo' is a thumping instrumental. Here
you will find their Facebook page. Good foot stomping stuff! 8.25/10 (Dave)
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 9th February 2012
Xandria, well what can I say? Since their shoot-to-fame debut 'Kill the Sun' and the ever-popular hit album 'Ravenheart', the band has attracted an ever-increasing fanbase.They have indeed been a fave band of mine now for some while, and Ravenheart Music actually takes it's name from their second album. This is the band's debut appearance on the Napalm Rosta, and if there is anybody out there that misses the Nightwish of old, this album will be for you. The band in February 2011 parted ways with its singer of one year, Kerstin Bischof, who herself replaced original singer Lisa Middelhauve. Now fronted by the awesome operatic voice of Manuela Kraller (one of the best operatic voices I have ever heard), listening to this album for the first time left me totally gobsmacked and lost for words, Manuela understanding how to express an entire range of emotions, and as a consequence, she is an incredible asset to the band.This release is going to be enormous, absolutely no doubt about that. The opening salvo of 'A Prophecy of Worlds to Fall', and 'Valentine' confirm that the band has stayed true to its original sound, while tipping the scales in favour of a more metal sound. Heavy guitars and a driving double bass meet symphonic elements and captivating melodies. Totally mind blowing. And just when you thought "wow", along comes 'Forevermore' at a slightly lower tempo but still just as awesome, and with a chorus that will remain in your head for ages afterwards. 'Blood On My Hands' is another track that will leave you spellbound, while 'Soulcrusher' is a heavy and slightly more complex number, as the title may suggest. 'The Dream Is Still Alive' is the album's ballad, and there is even some Folk influences within 'A Thousand Letters' and 'Cursed'. Epic closer, the 9 minute plus 'The Nomads Crown' drops some middle eastern influences into the glorious choral backdrop, ending the album in magnificent fashion. This album offers one glorious highlight after another, delivering the perfect union between metal and magnificence, a Symphonic Metal masterpiece full of sensual and breathtaking moments. No doubt some people will now call them Nightwish clones, but I disagree, this is Xandria, plain and simple. This is a must buy, this band having just powered it's way to the top of the Premier League with this record!! 10/10 (Dave)
WORMHOLE..'THE STRING THEORY'
(LadyMusicDistro) Reviewed 27th January 2012
Italian Band Wormhole was born in April 2003. The original line-up included Domenico (bass), Francesco (guitar), Paolo (drums) and Marfa (vocals), replaced by current vocalist Valentina in 2006. The band aimed at starting a project with female vocals, in which the dark mood of the musical structures and vocal melodies would have melted with the typical dissonant post-rock style and the entangled prog-rock rhythmic patterns. Indeed a wormhole stands as the metaphor of a link between ideas, sounds, words and contrasts which at first sight may appear too distant from each other, and which are connected in the same way as parallel dimensions are connected. Anyway, with this their latest 9 track recording, the band has taken their music towards a more simple plainer Gothic Metal sound, imagine if you will a mix of Evanescence, Lacuna Coil and The Gathering, and that should tell you perhaps where this band is travelling. Some good numbers here, mainly floating between Rock and Metal but melodic and accessible. Further information can be obtained from their Facebook site
, whilst I am totally gobsmacked at the amount of good music that is floating around at the moment. The band has recorded two EPs, this is their first full length offering, and I wholeheartedly recommend this to our readers..8.5/10 (Aimee)
ZOLTAR SPEAKS..'TREATMENT' EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 23rd January 2012
5 piece band Zoltar Speaks hail from the West Country, a part of the UK that is very familiar to me. Fronted by the powerful vocal style of Louise Body, this Somerset based band pump out 4 hard rocking tracks on this EP, with loadsa melody thrown into the mix for good measure. The aforementioned high octane vocals of Louise kick ass, and that is suited to the type of music the band indulges in. 'A Metaphor' kicks things off and comes blasting out of the speakers like a turbo charged rhino. A very melodic chorus to boot as well. The pace continues with 'How Could You Blame' with yet another melodic chorus - great stuff! 'The Best Revenge' refuses to let up, while closer 'Treatment' slows it up a bit, and could well become a live favourite I think. Check the band out here
, as this is Melodic Metal that packs a punch, and is recommended. 8.25/10 (Dave)
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