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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

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BLACK DAFFODILS…’INTO THE SUN’

(7Hard) Reviewed 4th February 2016

Black Daffodils was formed in 2007 as a Metal covers band and come from Germany. They originally covered songs by Within Temptation, Nightwish, Evanescence, Lacuna Coil and other bands in this genre. They have now ditched the covers band image and play an interesting style of Melodic and rather catchy Gothic Metal on this their second album. The style is actually made rather more interesting by the vocal style of Andrea Weiß. Andrea’s vocals are more akin to those of an innocent schoolgirl, and it to me comes across very well indeed. This is immediately showcased in opening number ‘The Vision’ that starts like a child’s lullaby, before the band kicks in and knocks you back against the wall. An extremely melodic number featuring those awesome, poppy and somewhat unique vocals of Andrea, and it lays down the gauntlet as to what is to follow. Next track ‘Awakening’ awakens you as to what this band is all about, and I must admit that so far, I like what I hear. ‘Favourite Scar’ is a hideously catchy number with further highlights on this awesome album that have struck a chord to these ears. These tracks include the cool title track, the heavier ‘Dust and Stone’, the Symphonic Metal of ‘Gold of the Rhine’ and the bouncy synth driven ‘Before I Die’. These are just three from a tsunami of good tunes. Black Daffodils Facebook is here. The album gets released 19th February and will be well worth checking out... 8.75/10 (Dave)

BESEECH...'MY DARKNESS, DARKNESS'

(Despotz Records) Reviewed 25th January 2016

In October 2015 Beseech signed a new world wide record deal with Swedish label Despotz Records. As a consequence and after a decade out of the spotlight, the Swedish Goth Metallers will return with this, their new album, set to be released 4th March 2016. Casting our eyes back, in 2003 founding member Klas Bohlin (guitar) decided to leave Beseech to focus on other musical challenges... the “old” era of Beseech was put to rest. In the summer of 2012 the band was brought back to life again by original members, Klas Bohlin (vocals) and Robert Vintervind (guitar). After some successful jams their new material sounded more Beseech than ever, but in a new mature way. Shortly after, Manne Engström (guitar) re-joined the band and Beseech entered the “classic Beseech studio”, StudioMega/Fascination Street during the fall of 2012 to figure out the new direction of the band. The new direction can be described as a continuation of their critically acclaimed album 'Souls Highway' from 2002, but with a modern twist and a vintage oriented sound, with Angelina Sahlgren Söder now giving us the female vocals. Indeed, on the eleven awesome and very catchy tracks here, this is Beseech as only Beseech can sound - melodic and hideously catchy, and those vocals from Klas, so cool and laidback, ably assisted by Angelina. All the cuts here are standout and if you are a fan of this band, then this album will be a must buy. If you have not heard Beseech before, get this album - totally awesome…. 9/10 (Dave)

BLACK DIAMONDS...'UNBREAKABLE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th January 2016

Black Diamonds is an all girl Rock band from Sweden (steady on guys!). Fronted by Matilda Jansson, they play 70/80s style Rock as if the 70/80s were still the 70/80s :) Eleven numbers on this album, all mainly mid to up tempo, although the customary ballad pops up with the track 'A New Day'. And it is great to hear the hammond organ on some of the numbers adding to the retro feel of the music. All a bit run of the mill but it is rather good from these Swedes. Certainly worth looking into if you feel this may be your cuppa tea. Their YouTube channel is here...7.75/10 (Dave)

THE A.X.E. PROJECT…’STORIES FROM A LOST REALM: PART TWO’

(Art Gates Records) Reviewed 23rd December 2015

The beginning of the The A.X.E. project has its roots in the long distant years between 1991 and 1994 under the name A.X.E. There have been personnel changes since then, including at one time the 16 year old female singer Bilyana Tsenova. Indeed there have been various changes within the vocal department, together with a name change too, but in 2010 Petya Plukchieva (soprano) joined the band and she is the band's current singer. With male vocals from joint founder member and bassist Georgi Georgiev, the band on this release offer up 8 tracks of mainly mid to up tempo Symphonic Metal. This release from this Bulgarian band is good, although there is no individual track that actually jumps out and grabs you. But having said that, for anyone that likes this style of music, go and buy it as it does grow with successive listens. The band's website is here... 8/10 (Dave).

APPELMAN…’ME’

(Emonirt Records, LLC) Reviewed 22nd December 2015

Appelman is the brainchild of Nick Appelman, guitarist and the main man behind the Appelman project. He has teamed up with Laurel Sanders who provides the amazing female vocals for this, his first album. I always feel that Symphonic Metal bands from the USA do not quite have what it takes to match their European counterparts, but I tell you what? This comes damn close with some pounding Symphonic Metal gems among the 13 tracks on offer to the listener. After a brief instrumental opener, ‘Crying Out’ and ‘Know Thyself’ give a good indication the route this band is taking with this album. Laurel’s occasional multi tracked vocals take the more operatic route, while I am pretty sure that this band after this showing must be one of the leaders of this style of music within the USA. Further cool tracks on this album include the massive sounding ‘Says Who?’ with its melodic chorus, the slow and brooding ‘Family Ties’, the up tempo and progressive sounding ‘1000 Pardons’, the bombastic ‘Sanity Waiting’ and the pen ultimate 7 minute plus epic ‘Broken Mirror’.
This album is an autobiographical look into Nick Appelman’s life, past, present and future. Play loud and enjoy, worth every penny!… 8.75/10 (Dave)

ARCANE SYMPHONY…’A NEW DAY BEGINS’

(Self Release) Reviewed 22nd December 2015

Arcane Symphony come from Russia, and this is another healthy dose of Melodic Metal with a Symphonic and at times an electro undercurrent to hit us here at Ravenheart Towers. Fronted by the awesome vocal style of Anna Volodina, whose vocals immediately become well showcased in the opening number ‘Ocean’, as well as the piano skills of their keyboards chappie Cyril Romaniuk (nice one Cyril!). And the menu continues to cough up some awesome tunes among the ten on offer, with second up, the tuneful title track that will have you bouncing around your lounge in no time - and again some great synths work that give the number a subtle electro feel. ‘Loneliness’ offers some great string work, my word, this band is coughing up everything.‘It’s a War’ takes a heavier bouncier feel, but those awesome synths appear again that really do drive the music along, great stuff! ‘Nostalgia’ sees Cyril at it again, he can sure bang those keys, while ‘Trust Yourself’ keeps the momentum going. This is rather good! ‘What Is Life For You’ is another synth driven number, while ‘To Love Is To Love’ slows it down in cool power ballad fashion, together with great guitar solo. The closing Salvo of ‘Something To Die For’ and ‘You Are Free’ end what to me is a magical album with great vocals, while Cyril can sure play that piano. I whole heartedly recommend this to lovers of the female fronted metal music scene. The band’s facebook is here - this band is knocking on the door of the big time, and no growls!.. 9/10 (Dave)

ALIA TEMPORA...'DIGITAL CUBE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 14th December 2015

Alia Tempora's album DIGITAL CUBE is their debut offering to the masses, and as the title may suggest to some of you does have electro influences, although by and large a Metal album. And it is a very good record from this band that ply their trade from the Czech Republic. Fronted by the attractive and angelic vocals of Marketa Morakova, who reminds me a little of Liv Kristine in the vocals department, there is some catchy and melodic music to be found on this 12 track CD. The opening trio of 'Connected', 'Digital Cube' and 'Frozen' set the benchmark for this magical piece of work. The pace drops slightly on the track 'Far and Forgotten', but generally, this album is tunefully up tempo, with the highlight for me being the Symphonic version of the number 'Mockingjay', that does feature the talents of Timo Somers from Delain - this being an alternative version of the track that appears earlier in the album. Alia Tempora I understand call this New Age Metal, but whatever you call it, it is very good - Metal with a dose of electro! Love it! Check them out - here...9/10 (Katie McIntyre)

ANGELSEED…’CRIMSON DYED ABYSS’

(Sliptrick Records) Reviewed 11th December 2015

The AngelSeed project was born in Croatia, formed by Damir Marijan Maras, Jurica Baljak and Sinisa Antunovic Medo. They were combining the basic of thrash metal and musical influences of different sub-styles, mostly symphonic and power metal. And then when vocalist Ivana Anic Lara decided to join them, these latter influences became even more apparent. So what about the music from a band that proudly boasts within its CV a support slot to the mighty Within Temptation? Well the lyrics of the songs reflect their attitudes about life, wishes, friendship, desires, love, sadness and happiness and thoughts of death and life in general. Something that I suppose affects us all at sometime during our lives. Musically however, this record is rather good, coupled with some vocal collaborations along the way. The awesome opener ‘Bloodfield’ features Mikkel Sandager Pedersen, while the bombastic but catchy ‘Forever Blind’ features Christopher Amott. Also the pounding and tuneful ‘Dreamer/Breaking Dawn’ sees a collaboration with a guy called Zoran Misic, The melodic track ‘Leaving All Behind’ is purely magical, and then that is followed by the equally as awesome and well orchestrated ‘Fallen Angel’. Indeed, to my ears, there is very little to fault on this album, the closing trio of ‘Soulcollector’, ’The Healer’ and the atmospheric ballad ‘Now’ maintains the momentum and the awesomeness of the preceding tracks. Upon listening to this, I can fully understand how they supported Within Temptation - well recommended, the band’s website can be viewed here where you can also stream the album… 9/10 (Dave)

BELLUSIRA…’THE HEALING’

(Pavement Music) Reviewed 25th November 2015

After achieving notable status in their homeland, Australian rock outfit Bellusira chose to relocate to Los Angeles and continue in their quest for world wide domination, pushing to get their music to a wider international audience. Since landing in the United States with their feet firmly planted on the ground, the band went straight to work on their second album ‘The Healing’, which has been recorded and produced by both Dan Whittemore (Paramore, Macklemore, NE-YO) and Ulrich Wild (White Zombie, Pantera, Deftones), and mixed by Dan Whittemore. With 11 tracks on this recording that was released in October, Bellusira kicks major ass and deserves to be up there among the best new international rock bands on the planet. They've got a fresh take on songwriting that makes you want to hear more and a killer lead vocalist in Crystal Ignite. It is another step up with the band pushing their song writing skills to the limits and getting every ounce of emotion out and onto this record. Well worth checking out for fans of kick ass melodic alternative rock/metal… 8.75/10 (Katie McIntyre)

BENIGHTED SOUL…’KENOTIC’

(Savage Productions/Seasons of Mist) Reviewed 22nd November 2015

Benighted Soul fronted by Géraldine Gadaut, is a Metal band from France. At the crossroads of Rock, Progressive Metal and Symphonic Metal, the band's music creates the perfect alchemy between effectiveness of melodies, complexity of compositions and power of riffs. This concept album, released October 27, 2014 and now re-released in digital version (with a bonus), speaks of myths and religions that have guided men through the ages. The writings of modern religions, like ancient myth, all meet the same universal questions, seek and invariably draw the same story in different entries. Each step, each chapter of this great history was set to music to create the album 'Kenotic'. This re issue gives us 14 tracks of the aforementioned style of music, the original pressing released last year having 12 I believe. Although no one track really jumps out and grabs you, I do have fave tracks like the melodic, pounding and heavily orchestrated ‘Only Make Believe’, the heavy and blistering ‘The Shallow and The Deep’ and the Epica inspired ‘Let You Win‘. But overall, this is an impressive and consistently good release, and it is a grower… 8.5/10 (Dave)

AFTER APOCALYPSE…S/T

(logic(il)logic Records - distributed by Andromeda Distribuzioni)

After Apocalypse is a Symphonic Metal band from Brescia (Italy) fronted by a young lady called Elena with male grunts courtesy I believe from a guy called Varghar, who also plays the clarinet on certain tracks on this record, and plays it very well too (’White Page‘ is one example). This is prime time and rather bombastic Symphonic Metal that will blow your mind! Awesome female vocals taking on an operatic stance with some rather cool grunts from Varghar thrown into the mix as well. This album sure thunders along at a pace that will leave Usain Bolt breathless although they can slow it down a touch - the mainly instrumental track ‘Crying Moon’ being one number that starts at a slow pace before it finds another gear and ups the ante. This is a consistent release with progressive touches as well, and I will say that it is a grower so it will not grab you right away. But it is the growers that offer longevity!! Check the band out - facebook is here.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

AMADEUS…’MY NIGHTMARE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 10th November 2015

Amadeus is a Rock/Metal band from Central Florida consisting of Joe Rodda, Matt Young, Matt McCloskey, Mike Meeks and Mary Young on lead vocals. Experienced in a wide array of genres including country, electronic/dance, rock/pop, metal, and classical music, the collaboration of the group brings a unique sound to the world of Rock and Metal. And boy, do they rock combining awesome female vocals with mainly male screams, this combination working very well indeed! Opener ‘As The World Burns’ sets the scene rather nicely, while next up ‘Did You Scream’ is a mid paced rocker with a cool chorus. And there is further goodness within the pot of goodies – ‘Falling Down’ and ‘You’re Not My God’ are great rockers with fist pumping choruses. And there is no let up as the music pounds out of the speakers in dynamic fashion. Further heavy but catchy tunes to feast your ears upon, and if you find yourself keeping still while this album is playing, then you have a serious medical issue that needs sorting quickly! And Amadeus can slow it down a bit but still maintain the momentum within the chorus, ‘Nobody’ one such tune and a fave of mine from the record. In-fact, everything on this release is damn good and comes as a pleasant surprise. I like listening to an album and not initially know quite what to expect! This is well worth checking out and you can hear more at www.reverbnation.com/amadeusfl... 8.75/10 (Dave)

AMORTEM…’SIGN OF INFINITY’

(Indie Release) Reviewed 8th November 2015

AMORTEM consisting of Dmitry Khakkinen – male lead and backing vocals, bass, keyboards; Ekaterina Mansurova (Katty) – female lead vocals; Alexey Shkapov – all guitars, is a Russian-Finnish Industrial metal/ Dance metal group set up in 2012, although the seeds were being sown a couple of years prior to that. The band offers an awesome combination of academic female vocals and hard screams and growls, dance beats and heavy guitar riffs coupled with beautiful melodic lines. And that all kinda just about sums it up, and what a record this is! There are some catchy foot tapping monsters, and it all kicks off with the hideously catchy track ‘Set This Fuckin World On Fire’, promptly followed by the pulsating and monstrously riff tastic ‘Prayer (Bring Me To Heaven)’. And the momentum continues at a thundering melodic pace, with Ekaterina’s operatic Tarja sounding vocals adding awesome fuel to the musical bonfire. ‘Vampires Prelude’ is an awesome instrumental of film score proportions followed by ‘When Sun Is Going Down’, a thundering metal track with a totally magical choral backdrop chorus that refuses to leave your head - first rate! ‘Time of my Life’ is a slower song with the operatic vocals of Katty adding the shine to an already brilliant track, while closing track ‘Power of Creation’ is a dance remix of a track featured earlier on in the album. More can be heard here, but there is some really good stuff coming out of Russia, add this to the list!… 9/10 (Dave)

THE BLUE DOLPHINS…’COME ON!’

(Tribe Alive Records) Reviewed 6th November 2015

Los Angeles based eclectic, melodic pop-rock duo The Blue Dolphins follow up this year's six-song 'Walking in the Sun' EP with their sophomore full-length, 'Come On!' A fourteen track collection of California-sun soaked roots songs that travel the landscape of memorable melodies, intricate guitar solos, luscious vocal harmonies, and uplifting lyrics, all wrapped up in fantastic production. Comprised of two-time Grammy Award winner engineer Alfonso Rodenas from Spain on guitar and English girl Victoria Scott on lead vocals, 'Come On!' is a major push forward for The Blue Dolphins, reaching towards a more complex and fully produced music scenario, this being fully showcased in the music that the band share with us here. This is certainly not Metal, I would call it Pop/Soft Rock, but certainly an album for those sun soaked summer days. Unfortunately 2015's sun soaked summer days (in the bulk of the northern hemisphere at least) have gone for a few months, but nonetheless, this is inoffensive radio friendly music for those easy listening moments in life, whether the sun shines or not! However, the pen ultimate and generally up tempo track ‘Sail Away’, does would you believe flirt with ‘punk’ territory. Check out their website here.. 8/10 (Katie McIntyre)

BAD POLLYANNA…’THE BROKEN TOYS’

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th October 2015

As their oxymoronic name suggests, Bad Pollyanna fronted by charismatic Olivia Hyde, celebrate both beauty and darkness. Fascinated by the human condition, their music and art explore love, life, sex and identity. 'The Broken Toys' is the band’s second album and is a collection of stories related to identity; how we are not the various-often abusive-voices in our heads; mental illness and above all, what it means to be human. There are ten catchy poppy/rocky tracks here that will hit the stores 1st December, although Bad Pollyanna do rock out with some ooommpphh too, ‘Hooks’ being one helluva track – “I’ve got my hooks inside you” Olivia sings - great riffs and a great chorus, while the closing number ‘I See You’ is an acoustic ballad. A good album all round then with wide range appeal, but it will certainly appeal to fans of In This Moment, Fearless Vampire Killers and New Years Day. 'The Broken Toys' will be made available exclusively through Pledge Music before it goes on general release. Fans can still contribute to the Pledge campaign until mid November, and get the album before anyone else. So click here and get involved. Furthermore, you can check out the band’s website at www.badpollyanna.com/index.html.. 8.75/10 (Dave)

AVATARIUM…’THE GIRL WITH THE RAVEN MASK’

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 28th October 2015

Avatarium come from Sweden and this is their second release. The band ply their trade via their powerful and masterful vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith, their style of music being put into the Doom Metal category. Opening number on this their second album which so happens to be the title track, is an upbeat energetic number however, that does actually flirt with Power Metal, a powerful vocal performance as well. ‘The January Sea’ is a riff tastic number with a 70s feel, another powerful track running in at close on 8 minutes with Progressive elements coming to the fore. The band is in full flow after the first two tracks and it continues, my cup runneth over with fave tracks, but apart from the above mentioned opening salvo, I do rather like ‘Pearls and Coffin’ and the up tempo ‘Run Killer Run’. Although an album that fits into the Doom Metal cubby hole, the vocals are clean and powerful, this album being near faultless! 9/10 (The Nugget)

BLACKMORE'S NIGHT...'NIGHT WITH ALL OUR YESTERDAYS'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 25th October 2015

Blackmore's Night is a British/American traditional folk rock duo formed in 1997, consisting of Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night. To date they have released nine studio albums; this their latest being released on September 18, 2015. And this continues to show the duo on top form if you are into this style of music. Rockers and headbangers may wish to avoid however! There are some corking numbers here nonetheless, that will have you up and dancing around the camp fire in no time whatsoever. Among the gems that include the rather awesome and magical guitar/violin/organ intrumental 'Darker Shade Of Black', the album offers up the Linda Ronstadt hit 'Long Long Time' (penned by Gary White), the Mike Oldfield song, 'Moonlight Shadow' and an inspiring Maypole Dance treatment of Sonny & Cher's 'I Got You Babe'. Furthermore of note, from all the legendary artists Ritchie Blackmore who by the way is 70 yrs old (making me feel old too) has cooperated with, Candice Night is the one who has lasted the longest. I loved Purple and Rainbow, and Ritchie to me is an icon, this is a great album but as I said earlier in the review, hardened headbangers may wish to avoid... 8.75/10 (Dave)

ASHES TO ASHES…’URANIA’

(WormholeDeath) Reviewed 22nd October 2015

Ashes To Ashes is an alternative Metal band founded in Genova, Italy in 2010 by MARTA VASSALLO (pianist/vocalist), PAOLO SCHIAVI (lead guitarist) and PAOLO DI LORENZO (drummer). The progress of the band was slowed because of finding the definitive line up. But when ENRICO CABONA (second guitar) and Simone Moi (bass and vocals) joined the band, they were ready to start. In June 2013, they released their debut 'Borderline', and now in 2015, we have been presented with this, their latest recording 'Urania'. The record features eleven tracks of pounding Melodic/Alternative Metal with catchy choruses like on the number ‘Once Upon A Time’, and we get not only the awesome clean vocals of Marta, she can let rip with growls that appear on the tracks ‘The Forgiveness Song ‘ and ‘Mother of Grace’ – and yes, it is Marta’s growls! The album closes with the awesome ballad ‘Just Daydreaming’, and ends what is a rather good long player. The band’s website is here…9/10 (Dave)

ALTERED SKY…’WITHOUT WONDERLAND’

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st October 2015

We have had the pleasure recently of reviewing bands from Northern Ireland and Scotland. No disrespect, but these are not locations known for setting the Rock and Metal music scene on fire. But with recent releases from Selene, The Fall Of Eve, guy band Screaming Eagles and now Scottish band Altered Sky, it seems that all that is well and truly changing. Altered Sky is fronted by a young lady who goes by the name Ana Nowosielska, and she is backed up by an amazing band of musicians . There has been some big rumblings on the underground about this band, and these rumblings are now surfacing! This is Pop/Rock of the highest calibre that surely will give bands like Fireflight and Paramore a run for their money. Just listen to the so so catchy ‘Apple Tree’ and ’Bury It All’ and I am sure you will get my ghist. There is not a filler to be found on this album, every track catchy and melodic, all this in the past having caught the attention of Kerrang FM, XFM and other independent radio stations, the band also having Kerrang presenter Johnny Doom as a self confessed fan. Recorded in Cardiff’s famous Longwave Studios, ‘Without Wonderland’ was produced by Romesh Dodangoda who has worked with the likes of Twin Atlantic, Bullet For My Valentine, The Blackout, Funeral For A Friend. The album picks up a release date on 20th November and is a good un. More on Altered Sky can be found here… 9/10 (The Nugget)

AGE OF DUST…’MESSENGER IN A SOULLESS WORLD’

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st October 2015

Age of Dust’s first release,’ Messenger in a Soulless World’, is inspired by the different aspects of the sensations of the soul, from its creation to its acceptance of death and the presence in life of everything that implies a human being, from its darkest side from the one that projects more light. They are fronted by the very talented Mexican lass Maria Rugo providing female operatics, and Sergio Ainoza who supplies the male grunts, they come from Barcelona, and they are a Symphonic Metal band of so it seems quite a high quality. Although this band has so far escaped our radar, the aforementioned quality shines through on this record. This is most certainly confirmed on the opening salvo of ‘If I Die Is To Sleep’ and ‘Genesis’. And OMG, it continues with further massive symphonic numbers such as ‘Desires’, ‘Moon For A Poet’, the lovely orchestrated ballad ‘Someday’, the catchy 8 minute plus ‘No Shade Of Grey’ and the bombastic symphonic closer ‘Slaughter of Insane (The Fall)'. Indeed, everything here is good, oh and there are clean male vocals as well coupled with great choral backdrops on many of the tracks. This has to be another record as a consequence that is well worth checking out, further damaging our bank accounts. Check them out here…9/10 (Dave)

AUBURN…’MIXED FEELINGS’

(Bat Country Records/Scarlet Records) Reviewed 19th October 2015

I love something a little different and here is the latest release from UK artist Liz Lenten and her band Auburn. This is a lovely slab of laid back acoustic based music to listen too after a hard day at the office! Liz’s voice has been described as “so sweet it’ll make your hair curl” and “husky with an emotional frailty”, and that sums it up rather nicely. There are 12 tracks here with influences that include among others a unique blend of Americana Blues and Roots music, this being written by Liz over a two month period on a vintage Martin guitar called Rosie, that she ‘stole’ from her good friend and sound engineer Justin. ‘Mixed Feelings’ was recorded in Nashville, like the band’s previous appropriately titled recording ‘Nashville’, and is a strong album covering all the usual emotional issues - love, loss, domestic abuse and manslaughter, confusion, trust, friendship etc etc. To be honest, I am personally enjoying listening to this cd, with fave tracks being the bluesy opener and title track ‘Mixed Feelings‘, the beautiful ‘Lovers Lullaby’ and the country feel of ‘Out There’. Each song on this long player tells their own little story and I wholeheartedly recommend this album, Liz I believe to be on a par with other artists within this genre of music and as a consequence, should be recognised as such. Check out the band's website at www.auburn.org.uk..8.25/10 (Dave)

AMBERIAN DAWN...'INNUENDO'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 10th October 2015

After their last highly acclaimed 2014 album 'Magic Forest', female fronted Finnish Symphonic sextet Amberian Dawn return with this their latest recording, their second studio album in-fact with gorgeous singer Päivi "Capri" Virkkunen. Presented in a catchier and more melodic way than previous efforts, 'Innuendo' sounds like a deliberately fresh new start with some strong vocal performances. This album as a consequence is certainly an accomplished recording from the band, with tracks like 'Ladyhawk' with its catchy chorus, the pounding title track, the orchestrated ballad 'Angelique', the quirky 'Knock Knock Who's There' and the album closer ‘Your Time - My Time’. With production work from Mikko Karmilla (Amorphis, Apocalyptica), and the main man Tuomas Seppälä's apparent influences of the likes of Jean Michel Jarre to Vangelis, this album showcases the epic trademarks of an album that could easily fire the band into the forefront of the Symphonic Metal genre! Well recommended when released 23rd October... 9/10 (Dave)

ASYLUM PYRE…’SPIRITED AWAY’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 6th October 2015

Asylum Pyre fronted by Chaos Heidi, come from France in case one has been living in a cave for the past few years and are out of touch. And this band has the uncanny ability to not only release albums that are consistently good, they seem to also have the ability to write a catchy tune or two. And on this their latest and third album, they prove just that. We have thirteen tracks here of melodic and hideously catchy metal within a record that lyrically deals with the human spirit and its twists and turns, which is musically emphasized by both female and male vocals (courtesy of guitarist Johann Cadot). ‘Spirited Away' focuses on catchy and powerful songs, everyone a total gem including tracks like the album opener ’Second Shadow’ the heavy but electro infused ’Only Your Soul’, the superbly tuneful and bouncy ’Unplug My Brain’ with its catchy chorus and the epic 7 minute plus and rather awesome ’Soulburst’ - the album incorporating electro elements while reinforcing the organic sound of the instruments. And let us make a mention of the pen ultimate track ‘Remembering’ - 22 seconds of silence. Overall, expect a mix of European and American metal, which consequently is very good and well recommended when released on 23rd October… 9/10 (Dave).

ATOMIC SYMPHONY...'REDEMPTION'

(Self Release) Reviewed 4th October 2015

Wetzikon is a small town in the Zurich Highlands area of Switzerland, in the district of Hinwil in the canton of Zürich. Okay, enough of the geography, so what about it then? Well it so happens to be the home of Swiss Melodic Progressive Metal merchants Atomic Symphony. This is their debut record released three weeks or so ago, and there are nine tracks of Melodic Metal with a strong progressive undercurrent. Great vocals from Jasmin Baggenstos, awesome use of keys throughout, in-fact a sterling performance from the band in general. This very well crafted masterpiece of an album has it all, just listen to second track 'Abyss' as an example, heavy, progressive but with one helluva chorus! Then we have the ballad ‘Face The Evil’ - awesome! Indeed, every track on this record is a progressive gem and as a consequence, I would say that this band has got what it takes to progress further on this showing - and support slots with stalwarts like Dream Theater or Threshold, why not? Their Facebook is here, the album being well worth checking out... 8.75/10 (Dave)

BLACK STARS FALLING...'DIARY OF BROKEN DREAMS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 30th September 2015

Featuring 2 female vocalists and a male vocalist, German band Black Stars Falling on this their 2nd record, offer the listener an experience near second to none. There are on the ten tracks here, classical arrangements associated with a mechanical spirit of the new age and a good charge of bombast. We have dark-romantic soundscapes that are based on hard rhythms and groovy guitar work, all this merges together into one unit, with the two sopranos (Regina and Jasmin) and one energetic male vocalist (Nio) being the topping on the cake. And lets us not forget the awesome orchestration from LArs, making this is a damn cool cake too. And indeed, I think the description given above, does describe the album quite nicely, with personal highlights galore such as the rather cool, atmospheric and orchestrated instrumental opening track 'Prelude', a track of film score proportions, second track, the bouncy ‘Forever And Never’ featuring male and female vocals, the choral influenced ‘Send My Wings Back’ (I just love it!) and the riff-tastic ’Meaning of the Rain’. Indeed, not a filler in sight actually and certainly well recommended from the team here. Check out the band‘s Facebook at www.facebook.com/BlackStarsFalling. And just one more thing to add - there is a limited edition double cd featuring instrumental tracks of those on the main cd, in a digipak format with awesome artwork… 9/10 (Dave)

ANNYSIA…’NEPHILIM’

(Self Released) Reviewed 4th Sept 2015

Fronted by the awesome vocals of a dark fairy from the dark forest who goes by the name of Demontia, Annysia come from Spain and this is their debut release, featuring 13 tracks of prime time Symphonic Metal. The album is based on a fantasy: Similar to a sound track for Lord of the Rings, it's based on a world named "Nephilim", which is inhabited by mystical creatures and humans. The Annysia are the watchers and the most powerful beings in the realm. They want complete balance and harmony in the world. Overall, this is another album that one who just loves this type of music will have to shell out the cash for if they want it. Overall the record offers up great vocals and some great tunes performed by a great bunch of musicians. There is even a female guitarist – Valna, a Nordic Princess kept by the Royal Court against her will and forced to marry – now you know! And the band has even acquired the services of Mike Le Pond (Symphony X) for the song ‘Nivek’. Released on the 30th August, this is a consistent and impressive release – the band’s website is here… 8.5/10 (Dave)

ANGELLORE...'La Litanie Des Cendres'

(Shunu Records/Seasons Of Mist)

Angellore is a French Atmospheric Post-Doom Metal band and this release is their second album, after the good reception of their 2011 debut 'Errances'. There are only five tracks here, but the album spans nearly an hour. However, despite the length of the tracks on the CD, this release is nowhere near boring as some people may think, and comes highly recommended by the team here. Featuring the core of the band which is Rosarius: Clean & extreme vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Walran: Extreme & clean vocals and Keyboards, Ronnie: Drums, plus we must not forget the ladies on this particular release: Lucia doing the Female Vocals and Cathy on Violin. This I know will appeal to fans of Draconian and the like, opener 'Shrine Of Clouds' being a total 13+ minute epic, featuring everything including the kitchen sink! - clean vocals, harsh vocals, female vocals, thumping drums & guitars and cool & atmospheric synths, absolutely awesome. And before one can catch their breath, along comes the 10 minute epic 'Still Glowing Ashes'. A beautiful slow to mid tempo number featuring those awesome growls coupled with the angelic vocals of Lucia. Next up 'Twilight's Embrace' is another slow to mid tempo atmospheric doomy tune, just love the violin!! Two tracks left, 'Inertia' is the shortest number at 6+ minutes, a piano/orchestrated and rather gentle tune featuring Lucia as the main vocalist on this one accompanied with clean male vocals. This track proves that Metal can also be beautiful!! And then we have the cream to top the cake, the epic 18 minute plus closer 'Moonflower', which equals anything Draconian (just an example) has released. I was once upon a time not an avid fan of this style of music, but over time I have grown to like it rather a lot. Bringing together drama, darkness and melancholy, ANGELLORE have become a unique voice in the doom metal scene in France, gathering plenty of interest with their eclectic gothic and folk influences. Recommended if you like: ANATHEMA, TRISTANIA, SATURNUS, DRACONIAN, EARLY WITHIN TEMPTATION and SHAPE OF DESPAIR... 9/10 (Dave)

ANADORA...'A.T.'

(Day Records) Reviewed 19th August 2015

Anadora formed in 2008 come from Russia, and they play Melodic Folk Metal, something that seems to be becoming quite fashionable on the metal underground circuit at present, particularly from the eastern European nations. We have twelve numbers and 45 minutes of mid to up tempo music which although sung in the band's native tongue, is well worth the purchase money. This is very catchy stuff with use of pipes and flutes well to the fore including at times the violin – cool. All this of course in addition to the heavy guitars and drums that us metal people come to expect. I do not know much about the band itself, but anybody who is a fan of Female Fronted Metal would do themselves no harm in checking this out. The band's Facebook is here... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

A.D.D....'CORE'

(Pavement Entertainment) reviewed 5th August 2015

A.D.D. started 2015 out with a bang, releasing their 2nd full-length hard hitting album 'CORE'. Having just got around to planting a review on this website, this we here must say is a very good Rock/Metal record. Margaret Young (vocals), Dave Adams (guitar), Jeremy Sparta (guitar/vocals), and Jason Delismon (drums) make up this four piece, and these Chicago based metal merchants sure know how to rock! Nine of the cuts here are originals, but there is one cover, the track from Sevendust called 'Black'. Margaret's husky vocals are top notch, while guitarist Jeremy does a frikin' good job on the rather cool songs 'Was My Life' and 'So Much (So Little)'. The album was mixed by Tadpole (previously worked with Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, Staind) and mastered by Grammy Award winner Trevor Sadler. Drummer Jason Delismon on what the album means to the band: "The album shows the diversity of influences we all have. The title 'Core' comes from our singer, myself, Jeremy, and Dave being the core four of the band. [It] shows our tight bond of brotherhood and sisterhood. Stay true to what you believe in and follow your dreams.” Ride on man!! - website here.... 9/10 (The Nugget)

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