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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS A-B

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AKOMA…’REVANGELS’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 5th December 2016

AKOMA, the leading Symphonic Metal act from Denmark for over a decade, has just finished up making this, their first full-length album. The band was formed in 2004 by vocalist Tanya Bell and guitarist Morten Bell, and have - with the release of 'Lost Forest' (Promo, 2007) and 'The Other Side' (EP, 2012) - proven that they, according to the press, belong among great acts such as Nightwish, Xandria and Within Temptation. With the new album, AKOMA shows a new side of the band, while staying true to their old sound. From atmospheric pieces to soprano vocals, coupled with hard guitar riffs, this long player has it all - and we even have Liv Kristine as guest vocalist on the title track! This album is a must buy for the Symphonic Metal fan with tracks like the opener ‘Enticing Desire’ reminding me of early Within Temptation, the aforementioned title track and just about everything else that is on here. I am also fond of the occasional ballad and Akoma passes the test with the number ‘Humanity’ – awesome! To put it quite bluntly, this record is one to be added to the post Xmas shopping list and being released on Massacre, should be easy to get hold of – released January 13th… 9.25/10

BETWEEN COLORS…’M.A.D.’

(Self Released) Reviewed 28th November 2016

Between Colors fronted by Cristina is a Swedish Modern Melodic Metal band with Symphonic, Industrial, Nu, and -core influences. The main concept behind the project and the music is the combination of more commercial and extreme styles, being caught "between the colors" of our different influences and day-to-day emotions: sadness, anger, fear, and happiness. Opener ‘Build Your Human Being’ is a metallic belter while next up ‘Dark Side’, is quite simply heavy, symphonic and rather catchy all at the same time. This album hammers along with further tracks like ‘Absent’, the melodic ‘The Gamble’, the catchy symphonic sounding ‘Ghost Dance’ and the atmospheric but heavy closer 'No Final Act'. My one gripe is that one or two of the tracks overdo the screams! Just a minor issue!! The band’s Facebook is here, but to summarise, this album is rather impressive and with tracks like ‘The Gamble’ and ‘Ghost Dance’, this is well worth gambling your hard earned cash on … 8.5/10 (Dave)

ASKARA...'HORIZON OF HOPE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 13th November 2016

Askara from Switzerland recently released this album of pure Progressive Gothic Metal. There are 8 tracks on this album, featuring the female vocals of Myriam and the growls from bassist Elia. The album as a whole sticks to the Progressive Gothic Metal formula, and although the record may not hit the right buttons on the first listen, stick with it and it will. This will certainly appeal to the Progressive Metal fan among you people out there. Askara's facebook can be found at www.facebook.com/Askaraband. An interesting release with the track 'My Name' a number I rather like...8/10 (Hannah Cooper)

ANAM’KARA…’MAZE’

(Self Released) Reviewed 11th November 2016

Combining powerful riffing and epic melodies with cinematic soundtracks and catchy vocals, the Swiss Metal band Anam'Kara fronted by a young lady called Sophie, unites an immense range of musical elements. Founded in 2008 by bassist Flo and guitarist Susch, the duo set out to find dedicated members that would bring their vision of an all new take on Symphonic Metal to life. Instead of overloading songs with orchestration, the goal is to bring a bombastic scope to remarkable compositions, and that they have done. Now releasing their first album, Anam'Kara are looking to surprise their listeners with exciting song writing and exhilarating diversity. And this is confirmed with opening blockbuster ‘Darkness and Decay’, that knocked me against the wall as it thundered out of the speakers. Next number ‘Wasted’ is equally as bombastic and as catchy as hell, offering up a rather dynamic start to this album. And the pace does not lessen, ‘Firestorm’ and ‘In Pain’ are up tempo barnstorming numbers, as are ‘The Dying Swan’ and just about everything else on this album, and not a ballad in sight. Up tempo, swashbuckling and metallically melodic! You know what? Metal has just got a whole lot more gobsmakingly interesting, this album being well worth looking into. The band’s Facebook is here.. 9/10 (Hannah Cooper)

BURNING POINT...'THE BLAZE'

(AFM) Reviewed 6th November 2016

Finnish power metallers BURNING POINT has been an active part of the European Metal scene since the late 90’s. Led by mastermind Pete Ahonen, the band has released five studio albums since then, all to critical acclaim. In 2014 former Battle Beast singer Nitte Valo joined the band as new vocalist. Late 2016, and the band now deliver another convincing album which concentrates on the band’s strengths solely: European power metal of the melodic kind, spiced with bits of hard rock but also Judas Priest-like nuances, making ‘The Blaze’ a boiling fiery cocktail of metal. Nitte’s presence and unmistakable voice adds the special something to the already established band. There are eleven up tempo tracks here to have you bouncing around your living room and getting your air guitars out, although they can slow it down a bit.. the awesome 'My Spirit' being one example. This is a good album and a very enjoyable listen. All music and lyrics have again been written by Pete Ahonen, the only exception being the bonus track ‘Metal Queen’, which is a cover of the classic Lee Aaron song. Due November 25th and well worth checking out... 8.75/10 (Dave)

AMARANTHE...'MAXIMALISM'

(Spinefarm) Reviewed 28th October 2016

Amaranthe is a Power/Melodic Death metal band that originates from Sweden and Denmark. Formed by Jake E. and Olof Morck, the project began taking shape when singers Elize Ryd and Andy Solvestrom signed on, as did drummer Morten Lowe. This release is the band's 4th and as with their past albums, it is melodic, catchy, addictive and heavy. Most of the tracks here screaming mainstream radio airplay with their unique style of Pop/Metal. Keeping the review sweet and simple, this album is the biz, possibly showing more commercial appeal than previous Amaranthe offerings. Great power ballads too in 'Limitless' and the orchestrated closer 'Endlessly'. This long player is a good un!…. 8.75/10 (Dave)

AS NIGHT FALLS…’EMBRACE THE JOURNEY’

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th October 2016

As Night Falls come from Poland. They formed in the Summer of 2010 when vocalist Anna Achtelik and guitarist Paweł Dylewski, decided to create the project of their dreams – a Symphonic Metal band that would follow in the footsteps of the greatest bands of the genre, but still remaining original and searching for its own style. And this album is the result of their endeavours, another one to add the every growing shopping list. There is a blistering start to the album with the opening salvo of ‘Eternal Dance’ and ‘Stronger’ kicking things off. The pace slows down a touch with the awesome, well orchestrated and powerfully sung power ballad ‘Lost In Words’, while the epic and symphonic 7 minute plus ‘Beyond The Hated’ and ‘Human Game’ increases the momentum. ‘Haven’ is an up tempo number with a great chorus, while ‘Tale Of Blood’ is a heavier number with subtle electro influences. ‘Find Your Freedom’ is a catchy riff-tastic belter with awesome guitar solo, while the closing triple whammy of ‘Nightmare’, the metallic ‘Forgotten Legacy’ and the bouncy ‘Next To You’ ends what is a jolly fine effort and I like it. In summary, this is a good album of well produced and bombastic European Symphonic Metal that should appeal to fans of this particular style of music. The band’s facebook is here…8.75/10 (Dave)

AFTERLIFE SYMPHONY…’MOMENT BETWEEN LIVES’

(Revalve Records) Reviewed 13th October 2016

AFTERLIFE SYMPHONY from Italy was initially formed by Eddy Talpo, Stefano Tiso and Nicolas Menarbin in 2009 and they was a cover band. Over time they added two more members to the band, Antonio Gobbato and vocalist Anna Giusto, and the project initially named AFTERLIFE definitely took life in September 2010. In November 2010 the band recorded a demo and in September 18 2013 they released their debut album 'Symphony of Silence'. Now in my paws I have their latest offering and like a majority of the other releases that come my way, it is rather good, taking the Symphonic Metal route with a progressive undercurrent. Indeed, 'Moment Between Lives' is a concept album based on reincarnation and karma, a mystical journey between the esoteric and the vivid reality, between choices, dreams, loves, fears, anger and introspection. The circularity of the events, the continued questions, the hunger for knowledge, these are the elements that form this album. Song after song, you advance, falling more and more in the comfort of the traveller. Everything is set in a romantic scenery shrouded with a halo of true love. The epic 7+ minute ‘Half-Moon Light’ gets the concept underway followed by the equally epic and bombastic ‘The Abyss’, a rather good start to the album me thinks. ‘Under The Sleeping Tree’ maintains the mainly mid-tempo style of the music and I am beginning to like this! The remainder of the album maintains the consistency of the opening threesome with fave tracks in abundance, check out the seventh track on the album titled ‘Seventh’ as just one example – impressive and powerful! This is a record that ticks all the right boxes, featuring awesome vocals and great musicianship. Find out more about the band and the concept of the album here - recommended… 8.5/10 (Dave)

The AGONIST...'FIVE'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 7th October 2016

THE AGONIST is a Canadian extreme metal band from Montreal, Quebec, formed in 2004. The current line up consists of guitarists Danny Marino and Pascal (Paco) Jobin, bassist Chris Kells, drummer Simon Mckay, and vocalist Vicky Psarakis, who joined in March 2014 following the departure of vocalist and founding member Alissa White-Gluz. The album offers up a pot of extreme metal coupled with more melodic moments. The opener 'The Moment' is one such example - Growls coupled with clean vocals within the catchy chorus. 'The Chain' ups the tempo with follow up number 'The Anchor and the Sail' maintaining the tempo, continuing the mix of growls and clean vocals. This musical pattern by and large continues throughout the album, the band deviates very little from the formula developed by the opening tracks, but there are one or two straight forward less heavy numbers like 'The Ocean' featuring just clean vocals. and this cuts bounces along rather nicely, being one of the more melodic tracks on this long player. My word, the band can slow it down too, 'The Raven Eyes' is a slow broody acoustic based number, with next up 'The Wake' flirting with the symphonics, being purely instrumental. The album gets back on track with 'The Resurrection' and so it continues to the closing bonus cut 'Take Me To Church', although 'The Trial' is a track that flirts with the symphonics coupled with clean vocals. The Agonist continue to evolve with Vicky at the helm, worth checking out if this may be your cuppa tea, if not, move on to something less heavy and less metalcore!... 7.75/10 (Dave)

BATALION D’AMOUR…’FENIX’

(Echozone) Reviewed 15th September 2016

Eleven years after their last and fifth album 'Niya', the Polish band Batalion d'Amour are back with a brand new release. Starting as a classic dark wave/gothic inspired band in the end of the 80s and with their first official album 'Labirynt Zdarzen' in 1998, the new album is the second one with the singer Karolina Andrzejewska. The name of the new album symbolizes rebirth, magic and creativity, the new material making a step towards more alternative and synth rock music including gothic and progressive elements, coupled with a strong melodic sensibility. Karolina's rich and beautiful voice combined with the Polish lyrics perfectly flows into the diversified compositions including catchy arrangements like the first single 'Charlotte' as well as dark progressive-rock songs, e.g. 'Mechaniczny'. All the songs have their own individual melodic style allowing the creation of epic and progressive dark-rock compositions (the 9 minute + 'Zawróceni'), intense and climatic ones such as 'Moje Remedium' featuring Tomasz Grochola from Agressiva 69, but also smooth and intimate songs like 'The Lost Diary' which is the only song in English and features John Porter as a duet partner. Overall, this is another good album to spend your hard earned cash on. The last four tracks of my version of the album feature different versions of the awesome single ‘Charlotte’, one version of which is in English. I am rather glad I have this album, thanks Echozone – this long player will drop onto the shelves 4th November, well recommended…8.75/10 (Dave)

BIRDEATSBABY...'TANTA FURIA'

(Dead Round Eyes/State 51 Conspiracy) Reviewed 13th September 2016

Birdeatsbaby fronted by Mishkin Fitzgerald hail from Brighton here in the UK, and they are back with their 4th studio album. Over the years, the band's sound has changed, starting out in the Punk Cabaret scene, now progressing in to a more stadium rock sound with orchestral layers, bold guitars and intricate arrangements. Think Muse, Kate Bush and Evanescence, throw in a little Marilyn Manson and hey presto. To be frank, this album is rather good, reminding me a little of Italians Belladonna who ply a similar style of Rock Noir music. Eleven tracks and some quirky ones too, ‘Part Of Me’ and ‘Elliot’ being two such quirky catchy tracks, while a blues vibe appears in the closing number ‘Eulogy’. Opener ‘In Spite Of You’ is a slow to mid tempo corker, ‘Scars’ is damn awesome, the sexy ‘Temple’ is rather catchy but with the lyrics, “if my body is a temple, desecrate me”, this gives you an idea what that number is about. ‘Spit’ flirts with Metal as Mishkin spits her vocals with venom, while ‘Mary’ offers up a fine choral back drop. This album is good and will hit the streets on 7th November. Well worth checking out if you like your music at the less heavier end of the scale. Their Facebook is here - a pleasurable listening experience… 8.5/10 (Dave)

AETERNITAS…’HOUSE OF USHER’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 2nd September 2016

AETERNITAS released their first album in 2000 and there have been 4 releases since (not including the one reviewed here), and that includes a live DVD. Now in 2016 they deliver the listener their new concept album 'House Of Usher', based on the famous short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe. For this album, AETERNITAS display a modern symphonic metal sound with complex orchestral arrangements, groovy rock parts and, of course, the strong & catchy voices of Alma Mathar and Oliver Bandmann (clean vox). And I must say this is an enjoyable release from beginning to end. The whole album offers up a tsunami of catchy and melodic tracks coupled with the occasional ballad, and if truly melodic symphonic metal is up your alleyway, then I can fully guarantee this album will be too. This long player gets released on the 21st October, so when the time comes, check it out – well recommended… 9/10 (Dave)

BREAK DOWN A VENUE…’MY TRUE NORTH’ EP

(Eat The Beat/Rough Trade) Reviewed 23rd August 2016

Founded only two years ago, this Stuttgart-based sextet has managed to spread their message of heart-felt and energetic modern music throughout Germany. Having shared the stages with renowned acts such as ESKIMO CALLBOY, CALLEJON, DEEZ NUTS or German punk rock rocketeers ITCHY POOPZKID, the band has literally broken down quite a few venues within the country. In 2016 and this female/male fronted powerhouse has already gathered a massive following within the German underground. This is a a mini cd, 6 tracks of powerful music with a strong and pounding rhythm section, dreamy leads and the outstanding performances by both the powerful as well as sensitive front lass Nyves and singer Robin, who seems to undergo every possible emotion from grief to hatred in seconds. BREAK DOWN A VENUE is not your average post hardcore band, but something unique in a scene that seems to copy itself within a minute. This is a crushing release with a great sense of melody and harmonies, the closing number being a cool laid back instrumental. This album will be well worth looking out for when released on 9th September… 8.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

ANCIENT MYTH…’ABERRATION’

(Fastball Music) Reviewed 18th August 2016

Ancient Myth is a Japanese band and there seems to be a load of bands from Asia trying to break into the European market. There are three versions of this album, a Japanese and an English version together with a version mixing the two languages. The music can be looped mainly into the Symphonic/Power Metal mould, there being 13 tracks on this album. The band sure give it their best shot and the tunes are rather catchy, with some good uns to be found…’Afterglow’ being one such number that caught my attention after just one listen. The band’s Facebook is here. Certainly worth looking into for fans of the genre… 8/10 (The Nugget)

ATRIELL...'TALE OF THE DRAGON CLAW'

(Amadea Music) Reviewed 15th August 2016

Atriell is a Symphonic Metal project from Bulgaria, composed by Hristo Manolov and based on the author’s fantasy tales. The concept follows a comprehensive story with unique lyrics, orchestral themes, cool operatic vocals (courtesy of Norra Morrel), edgy guitars and cinematic soundscapes. There are nine tracks of tried and tested Symphonic Metal, but it is rather good nonetheless and is well worth checking out for fans of this style of music. There are some epic tracks too – check out the awesome 8 minute plus ‘Love and Hatred’. In summary, join the world of dragons, swords and magic, love and hatred, warriors and battles, well why not? The band’s Facebook is here… 8.25/10 (Dave)

BLISS IN THE ABYSS…’THE GRACE OF MY DEMONS’

(Self Release) Reviewed 13th August 2016

Bliss In The Abyss fronted by Maria Storck (also front lady with The Grim) is a Swedish Metal/Rock band founded in 2016 by experienced musicians who are truly passionate in the way they approach their music. Starting with the recording of this their first studio album, the band members aspired to an organic, old school sound, resisting the temptation of an over production. The album contains ten epic songs, widely varied as composition and arrangement. The lyrics meanwhile, are a natural extension of this musical experience being tales of a spiritual journey. At times they talk about the invisible side of the world, other times they speak of fairy tale magic characters. Human nature and the causal dynamic of human interactions are also among the approached topics. This indeed is an impressive album, Maria’s vocals being more Pop/Rock in style, but she is also the queen of growling, and gives workshops for those who want to learn. So now you know! I have to recommend this record to all fans of female fronted Rock & Metal and beyond, there is some good catchy stuff here coupled with some awesome musicianship together with a subtle Symphonic undercurrent. And the pipes even pop up on a couple of the tracks. The band’s Facebook is here…8.5/10 (Dave)

AGAINST THE CURRENT…’IN OUR BONES’

(Fueled By Ramen ) Reviewed 22nd July 2016

Against The Current is a three piece band from Poughkeepsie in New York State. They are fronted by the oh so young looking Chrissy Costanza, and the band plays catchy Pop/Rock on this, their debut album. The music becoming very addictive with additional listens. Against The Current actually today starts a World tour and on this showing, they could well conquer the world of Pop/Rock. This is an inoffensive and radio friendly release with electro influences thrown into the melting pot. And a world tour as I just mentioned including Europe (and UK) and Asia. Only a brief review but a very good CD for people that like their music a little more poppy in nature. Uplifting, impressive and well recommended – every track a potential hit single!... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

ABSCIDO...'ALPHA THOUGHT'

(Dawson Productions) Reviewed 3rd July 2016

Abscido and 'Alpha Thought' are concepts of a certain Paul Dawson that he has laboured toward during the past 5 years. Paul has spent most of his life recording and producing music for other artists, and he has always wanted to complete an album project on his own. Having a small recording studio and media production facility helped him to create his life's dream of recording his own album. And this is it! All the writing, production and recording was done by Paul, but he needed a singer to complete the project, so he turned to a very talented young friend of his from a small town in Iowa USA, that had sung in his studio previously, a certain Lindsay Golliet. There are nine numbers here, akin to Melodic Metal with a Progressive/Symphonic undercurrent, and before I contacted Paul regards this release, I was given the impression that it may have been a ‘one man show’ with a female singer, and I was right. The album to my ears is very similar in style to England/Argentinian project GABRIEL that is also a two person show. And after a brief instrumental intro of filmscore proportions, this similarity with Gabriel becomes more apparent in the first number proper, the progressive tinged title track. Vocally though, Lindsay obviously not having the ‘English twang’ that Sally, the vocalist in Gabriel has. The melodic ‘All I Am’ is an awesome number and to be honest, I would love to hear these tunes performed by a full band, Lindsay sure being a fine singer too! The track ‘The Doorstep’ seems at times to have a lot going on for my ears to absorb all at once, but there are plenty of highlights on this record that include the beautiful ballad ‘How Many Times’, the catchy ‘Creepin Around’, the orchestral and appropriately titled ‘Overture’, and the epic final instrumental track simply titled ‘Abscido’. Give this album two or three spins and it will hit you. Not a bad effort from this USA based project. Support independent musicians and buy this from iTunes and the like, it can also be streamed on Spotify too – well worth checking out… 8/10 (Dave)

ALARION…’WAVES OF DESTRUCTION’

(Freia Music) Reviewed 28th June 2016

Alarion (formerly known as Alerion) is a spectacular new musical project from The Netherlands by awesome guitarist Bas Willemsen. In June of 2016, their debut album ‘Waves of Destruction’ was released, being an album to be reckoned with - a good hour of melodic, symphonic and intense music. ‘Waves of Destruction’ displays the diversity of Alarion’s music and the musical prowess of Bas and all those involved. For each listener, there will be a different part of the album that stands out: be it heavy and fast, or acoustic and mellow, a short track or a 10+ minutes long epic, male or female vocals. Throughout all the tracks on the album, the listener will discover the scope of the sound that is Alarion. This is an epic absolute belter of an album featuring an all star cast of musicians including among many others, Damien Wilson (Threshold among others), and for you lovers of female fronted Rock & Metal (after all, that is possibly why you are here reading this) we have Irene Jansen (Ayreon, The Theater Equation, Star One, Gary Hughes among others) who provides lead & backing vocals on ‘Turn of Fate’ and ‘Turn of Fate (acoustic)’. And then there is Tineke Roseboom (Blaze Bayley, Thomas Zwijsen, Hollywood Scoring among others) giving us lead & backing vocals on ‘Clash with Eternity’, backing vocals on ‘The Whistleblower - I – Devastation’, backing vocals on ‘The Whistleblower - II – Vindication’, backing vocals, soprano & alto choir vocals on ‘Colourblind’ and soprano & alto choir vocals on ‘Chains of the Collective’. Being a fan of Threshold, Damien Wilson’s vocals are immediately apparent on the bombastic opener ‘Chains of the Collective’, a Progressive Metal masterpiece, this being followed by ‘Waves of Destruction – I – Rising Tide’, a short spoken piece by Damien taking the listener into the standout ‘Waves of Destruction – II – Struggle For Survival’. An atmospheric instrumental ‘Estrangement’ takes us onto the number ‘Turn Of Fate’ with the awesome vocals of Irene taking over the mic stand, this being another totally mind blowing epic track with a great melodic chorus to boot. ‘Colourblind’ rocks hard with Damien back at the helm, while the beautiful ‘Clash With Eternity’ starring the angelic vocals of Tineke slows things down a touch, to enable us to catch our breath. ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ sees a certain Paul Glandorf taking over vocal duties, this being an awesome Prog workout taking us onto ‘The Whistleblower - I – Devastation’ and ‘The Whistleblower - II – Vindication’. Yet another epic Prog Metal master stroke, the song I am told being based on the story of a UN Police Officer who attempted to blow the whistle on sex trafficking in Bosnia, and being the subject of the 2010 film of the same name. This magical grandiose album closes with the acoustic version of ‘Turn Of Fate’. Further information on this awesome release and purchase details can be found here, but this album will reveal more layers of musical enrichment upon further listens and is one of the best debuts you will hear this year. Enough said… 10/10 (Dave)

AILAFAR…’NO LIMITS’

(AOR Blvd) Reviewed 25th June 2016

Ailafar is a Greek band, the brain child of guitarist and song writer John Tzortzis. Anybody into AOR with a strong 80s flavour should very easily fall in love with this album. Furthermore for you fans of female fronted rock, there are three female vocalists, Tatiana Oikonomou, Alexandra McKay and Olga Katsenidou who between them handle most of the vocals. But if three female vocalists are not enough, there are guest appearances from Stephen Kammerer (Frontline), Paul Jackson (Roadhouse) and David A Saylor (Push UK). So one is not short changed when it comes to variation in the vocal department, and it is this variation that pushes this album onto the next level. I must say that all thirteen tracks on this recording offer up an enjoyable hook laden listen, there are upbeat numbers like ‘Flood Of Love‘, ‘Two Roses’( feat Stephen Kammerer), the catchy ’Tell Me Why’, the rather kool ‘A Way To Your Heart’ (feat Paul Jackson) and ‘Greatest Treasure’. And we must also mention the ballads like ‘Faith In Love’, 'Doors We Walk Alone’ and ‘More Than One‘. This album is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, and is well worth checking out for fans of Melodic Rock/AOR. My late Father would have loved it, well recommended!!… 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

BLACK DESERT…'THE ROAD IS OPEN’

(Yarhibol Records) Reviewed 14th June 2016

Fronted by the powerful lungs of Isabel Bermejo, Black Desert is a Melodic Metal Band that come from Spain. This is their second album following on from their 2013 release aptly titled ‘The Beginning’. The band via their Facebook page describe their music as Metal with ethnic-Arab and dark influences, and this comes to the fore in second number ‘Red Hour’ and the pen ultimate ‘Seduced By The Sand’, the former also possessing a catchy chorus to boot. There are also Progressive influences that surface at various times throughout the album, ‘Bells’ being one such track that I hasten to add also throws at the listener a rather catchy chorus. ‘Dreams of Glycerine (Pt.2)’ is a rather cool power ballad, ‘Dreams of Glycerine’, the Part 1 version by the way appearing on their debut. And the vocals of Isabel – awesome! The title track is a pounding melodic rocker, whilst closer ‘Horizonte’ is an instrumental featuring the Spanish guitar. This is a rather good album that has arrived in my post box and is a pleasant surprise. Check the band’s facebook here… 8.5/10 (Dave)

BLACKLANDS…’PEACEFUL SHORES'

(Blacklands Music) Reviewed 12th June 2016

Blacklands was founded in 2006 by Heavenwood drummer Thomas Kelleners and in 2007 Manfred Reinecke and singer Moja Nardelli joined the band. Since the ‘early days’ there have been some line up changes along the way, not helped unfortunately after the completion of the production of this cd, that saw singer Moja then leaving the band citing personal reasons. Blacklands didn’t hang around in finding a replacement, with the awesome Tanja Magolei-Schupper taking over vocal duties. Within three months, the entire album was re-sung and all artwork and pictures successfully re-edited. And that now takes us onto the album itself. This is the band’s second full length album and like the debut, is another near 80 minute epic that again is a classic Rock and Metal album, knocking on the door of Progressive Rock and Metal. This in turn offering up stax of melody in the process and a damn fine piece of musical work it is too. Highlights to be honest are too numerous to mention, as there is a tsunami of massive tunes, but there are personal faves of mine which I am sure will change with each listen. These fave cuts currently include the catchy ‘Alone Again’ with its amazing chorus, the mid-tempo ‘The River’, the metallic ‘Distant Warning’ with its thundering guitar and awesome keyboard interplay, the pompous 9+ minute ‘Grand Circles’, 'T.I.M.E' with its 40s Jazz band feel and the closing 16+ minute epic ‘Winter Skies’ (feat Markus Brand). To be honest, I have fallen in love with this CD, close on 80 minutes of awesomeness in-fact. An album trailer can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4TxuO4HOKg - well recommended.... 9/10 (Dave)

AGGELOS…’SILENTIUM’

(Rottweiller Records) Reviewed 10th June 2016

Aggelos (meaning Messenger) is a Colombian Christian metal band. The band originated in Medellín, Colombia, where they formed in 2002, with their current members being vocalist and guitarist, Natalia Soto, vocalist and bassist, Carolina Giraldo Sánchez, vocalist, Juan Esteban Londoño, guitarist & keyboardist, Jonathan Rueda, and drummer Duvan Lopez Posada. They ply their trade by way of doom metal, gothic metal, death metal, symphonic metal, black metal and neoclassical metal music. I do not come across many Colombian bands let alone Colombian Christian Metal bands, but what they do here they do rather well. If you dislike extreme vocals, one may be advised to steer clear, but there are also some awesome operatic vocals, and combined with the symphonics, I have grown to like this album very much. It is all sung in Spanish (I assume) and as a consequence, I do not really know what they are singing about, but I believe from a reliable source that the main theme of the lyrics is Christianity. Beauty & the Beast vocals when done well make for a good album, and this is a good Symphonic Gothic Metal album encompassing the aforementioned vocal style. I recommend this record, the band’s Facebook is here….8.25/10 (Dave)

ANATOMY OF THE SACRED…’ASHES TO ASHES’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 7th June 2016

Anatomy of the Sacred’s debut EP, 'Ashes to Ashes' is an electrifying journey through the ever-twisting avenues of life. It is a formidable collection of lingering songs that explore humanity’s ongoing struggle with themes such as lust, reflection, disappointment, death, fear and hope. The band consisting of Brenda Michelle Robinson (vocals) and Shane Krout (bass, guitar, vocals) make elegant, soulful music ablaze with powerhouse vocals, orchestral melodies and radiant harmonies that are draped over driving and resounding rhythms. With the distinctive honour of being the only female fronted symphonic metal band in Pennsylvania, this album delivers the goods – 6 tracks of high octane melodic Symphonic Metal, a band that would do fairly well in Europe if ever given the chance. All the numbers are good with Clinton Washington from Season 8 of The Voice, taking vocal control of the final track, the awesome ballad ‘Farewell To The Light’. The album has come to fruition with the help of numerous musicians, engineers and artists and the band deserves your support. Currently, I understand the record is available via CDBaby HERE - Support independent musicians and buy, recommended!… 8/10 (Dave)

AFTERMOON…’PHASE ONE’

(WormholeDeath) Reviewed 30th May 2016

AFTERMOON is a modern metal band from Kiev, Ukraine. The band started on their musical way in 2012 and since their formation, AFTERMOON has played more than 35 shows in the biggest Ukrainian cities. They explore different genres in their music, such as modern metal, alternative rock and the like, combining melodic vocals and piano with hard guitar riffs. There is an intense rhythm section, and they use classical techniques and the variety of modern sound to create a unique mix that exists on the border of various musical genres. This is well reflected in the music on the album - 12 tracks (including bonus cut) of catchy, melodic Alternative Metal with a strong electro undercurrent, coupled with the vocals of leading lady Valeri. I can already hear potential live faves here like the very catchy 'DeadBorn Revolution', and then we have the awesome ballads, the orchestrated and piano led 'Losing Me' and the rather cool closer ‘To You’ (bonus track). Other appealing tracks to these ears anyway include the riff-tastic ‘Somewhere’, the Industrial Metal sounding ‘Daemons’ and the catchy ‘Time Crisis’. The album is now available on the digital platform while Aftermoon's website is here - check them out as it is a fine release! ... 8.5/10 (Dave)

BELLA D...'THE CRYSTAL CEILING'

(Self Released/Drumageddon Productions) Reviewed 27th May 2016

Operatic vocalist and storyteller Christie Oakes formed the band Bella D to weave intricate tales of love and hate, of breaking away from the past and rebuilding the future. For this new album, Christie secured the help of drummer Charlie Zeleny (a.k.a. DRMAGDN), who has worked with bands such as Dream Theater, Blotted Science, and Behold the Arctopus. Zeleny has tackled various duties on Bella D, such as production, engineering and overall development. Although Oakes and Zeleny forged their musical friendship as far back as high school, Bella D marks the first time the duo have elected to join forces. The storyline told throughout the album concerns a female automaton designed for human companionship. This robot, known as Bella D, has a will of her own, one that soon proves too strong to remain in captivity. The record that was four years in the making, tells of Bella D’s struggles in a dystopian/steampunk environment, where she must surmount majestic obstacles and overcome imminent doom. To make the album come to life, Oakes and Zeleny secured standout session musicians known for working with artists like Taylor Swift, Blondie, Bill Joel, and Bruce Springsteen. Christie's vocals like the songs are damn awesome, and without going into the fine detail of each track, this is just to put it simply an awesome debut from this newcomer. Bombastic, anthemic, symphonic rock songs, soaring vocals, stax of melody, and to be frank the whole package is totally amazing - 'Battle On' is just one example from this amazing album. I whole heartedly recommend this record, website is here... 9/10 (Dave)

JOCELYN and CHRIS ARNDT…’EDGES’

(Label pending) Reviewed 26th May 2016

Up and coming sibling duo Jocelyn and Chris Arndt: The soulful pair from Cambridge, MA (USA) recently released this their new album 'Edges'. Since Jocelyn and Chris began, their music has continued to grow and mature, the two truly showcase their ever-lasting talent in their new album. The pair has a lot more to offer than just devastatingly powerful vocals and retro-rock driven guitar, and it all comes to the fore on this release. This should be mainstream radio station stuff, Jocelyn’s powerful vocals are mind blowing, all this showcased in the quirky opener ‘Shame’, this being one of the three singles from the album. ‘Too Much To Me’ is the second track and was also released as a single. This being a slightly heavier tune, with a bluesy vibe, while next up ‘Where’s The Rain’ is a slower number, Jocelyn’s vocals totally suiting this style of music. ‘More Than I Say I Do’ is a rather nice laidback ballad and I do rather like the vibe this album gives me. The bluesy vibe returns with ‘Jagged’, and again those vocals are awesome! With the track ‘Hot’ we hit the halfway point of the album and although this cd may not be one for the metal heads out there, lovers of good Bluesy style and at times laidback Retro Rock should lap this one up. The second half of the album is equally as good with further standout cuts like the rocking ‘Cinderella’ and the rather nice ‘Cut The Chord’. With lyrics that run the gamut between vulnerable to all-out venomous, Jocelyn & Chris Arndt’s music has matured into what can only be described as a throwback to pure, album orienated rock. This is a good release with great musicianship and awesome vocals, check out their Facebook here… 8/10 (Dave)

AFTERTIME…’THE FALL OF LIGHT’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 18th May 2016

Formed in the last days of 2011 by Chris Radke (Guitars) and Brad Sturgis (Guitars, Keyboards), AfterTime is a Symphonic Metal band hailing from Minnesota, USA. In September 2012, the band was joined AJ Blakesley (Drums), and development on the first songs began. These songs would serve as early version of the songs that would appear on this, the band's debut six track EP. Over the next 2 years the band went through some line up changes, until late 2014, when they were joined by Sarah Wolf (Vocals) and Malachi Arndt (Bass). I have always thought that Symphonic Metal bands from the USA tend to use more emphasis on guitars and not so much on keys/synths/orchestration like their European counterparts do. AfterTime I think mix the two together offering pounding metal with a Symphonic undercurrent. There is indeed quite a lot going on within some of the numbers here, some tracks rather complex without being overly progressive (does that make sense?). Track three ‘The Final Act’ is one such number, while ‘All The Ruins Remain’ as the title may suggest is a power ballad, but again a number that shows some complexity. Meanwhile, one of my faves from the album is the melodic and catchy ‘The Passage’. As a consequence of the complexity of this album, I would call this thinking person’s Symphonic Metal, indeed you may need a few listens to take in all that is going on. The album is worth checking out however, the band’s website here… 8/10 (Dave)

ABRASANTIA…’FORGOTTEN RITUALS’

(Abrasantia/Mtm Prod.Records) Reviewed 16th May 2016

Abrasantia come from Argentina and ply their trade by way of Symphonic Metal with operatic vocals, and occasional but not overly done male grunts. They were formed in 2011 and this album is their first full length effort, having released an EP in 2012 and three singles since. They are fronted by Mariana Brunel who has been with the band since 2014, although Carolina Schall is a session member of the band, appearing live and is indeed a founder member too. There are some good bands coming out of Sth America so let us now add Abrasantia to that list. This is one of those albums that tends to grow on you with each listen, and to me, it is those records that have lasting appeal. Running in at just over the hour, there are 14 tracks here, sung either in the band’s native tongue or in English. Mariana’s singing as previously mentioned come from the operatic school of vocals, and suit the music rather well – I do rather like the lovely tune 'Conjuro de amor' but there are others, like ‘Winter’ which is quite nice and has a subtle retro feel to it, while ‘Orpheus Song’ possesses quite a catchy chorus. Overall, this is a fairly strong release from this Argentinian band, with a mix of mid to up tempo numbers and slower ballady string led tracks like ‘Until The End Of Time’. The record is well worth tracking down, CDBaby (www.cdbaby.com/cd/abrasantia5) being one such source for a purchase… 8/10 (Dave)

ANTILLIA...'ANCIENT FORCES'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd May 2016

Russia at the moment seems to be spawning some rather good metal bands, and we can add Antillia to that list. They are a Symphonic Metal band and have very kindly given us this 14 track album to review. They use clean female vocals compliments of Elena Belova, coupled with clean male vocals from Alexander Kolesov, whose vocal presence takes on a baritone style that is very well suited to the music on offer. The songs are sung in Russian so I do not have any clue what the lyrics are about, but musically the whole package is rather good. I cannot go into any of the individual songs in detail due to the Russian lyrics, but for fans of female fronted Symphonic Metal, this is certainly very well worth checking out with its awesome set of songs, coupled with a very strong production and orchestral arrangements. Check out the band's website here, you know you should – recommended from the Ravenheart team... 9/10 (Dave)

CECILIE BECK…’HERE IS NOW’

(Sound Vision Lab) Reviewed 15th April 2016

I like something a little laid back at times, in turn helping one to escape the trials and tribulations of the world. Anyway, on January 14, 2016, Danish musician Cecilie Beck (now based in New York) released her debut album 'Here is Now' (produced by Seth Misterka and Razors Productions) at Rockwood Music Hall in New York, which led to a series of performances around the city. She then formed a band called Cecilie Beck & The Elements to accompany her sounds and visuals in performances. The band was named The Elements, because the songs draw strong references to the rhythms and patterns of nature's elements. The band consists of Cecilie Beck on lead vocals & piano, Onur Gül on bass, Elder Merchant on drums, Grace Hong on violin, and Alonzo Felix on guitar, melodica & back up vocals. As one may expect, do not expect blistering guitars, thumping drums or soaring keys on this album, instead listen to Cecilie's delicate and fragile voice enhancing the creative music on this 13 track album, the lyrics of which tackle gender, race and class among other issues. This is a gentle easy listening album that in turn cries “play me” on mainstream radio, although the track ‘The Pioneer’ is more of an upbeat number – catchy and radio friendly, while ‘Streets of New York’ has a foot tapping kinda reggae vibe. 'Here is Now' is an Experimental Folk album. The music is experimental for its genre defying compositions and the lyrics are in the tradition of folk music through their intimate story telling. Although I do appreciate that this album may not appeal to all the readers of this website, this is a record to chill too and forget the troubles of the world! Check out the video to the track ‘Butterflies’ here and Celcilie's website at www.ceciliebeck.com/, where you will find out that she is more than just a musician….8.5/10 (Dave)

BLACKDRAFT...'RECIPE OF PAIN'

(Hotrock Records) Reviewed 14th April 2016

The debut album from these German rockers combines everything: powerful music from hard rock to death metal. Blackdraft are three men and a woman who have been active in the scene for some while. The music of the band is an intense and explosive mixture, unique Maiden-influenced guitar leads, a clear, pumping bass and powerful oppressive Drum Grooves, and of course the vocals of Julia D Wallenius coupled with the growls of guitarist Karsten Wallenius. Through the 12 tracks on this record, the music is an orgasmic experience, leaving you screaming for more. This is up tempo retro hard rock that has been dragged into the 21st century by the short and curlies and is well recommended, including the closing number, Abba's 'Gimme Gimme Gimee'. The band's Facebook is here... 8.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

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