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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS A-B

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BRIGHTSTORM…’THROUGH THE GATES’

(Self Release) Reviewed 14th September 2017

Brightstorm from Brazil fronted by Naimi Stephanie, started their career in 2012, when the band released its first single 'Under the Moon'. A couple of singles and an EP later, the band has now thrown at the unsuspecting listener their new full length album 'Through The Gates'. The record is fits rather nicely into the Symphonic Metal category throughout its 11 tracks, kicking off with the mid tempo salvo of ‘Psicostasia’ and ‘Vampire’. There are further good tracks throughout the remaining 9 cuts, with ‘Two Steps From The Abyss’ that bounces along rather nicely and the slow to mid tempo ‘Ocean Of Tears’ two of my faves from the record. Meanwhile, the last two tracks on this record are slow acoustic/piano led ballads. The band's Facebook is here, a cool release..8.25/10 (Dave)

ANTHOLOGY…"ANGEL'S REVENGE"

(Self Released) Reviewed 7th September 2017

Anthology is a Symphonic Power Metal band from Slovakia. This I understand is their 3rd album and their 2nd sung in the English language. I can safely assure the listener that if you like bombastic Symphonic Melodic Power Metal, this album is a MUST buy! Fronted by Raylyn Shayde, Anthology sure do deliver the goods, doing what they say on the tin :) From the opening salvo of the cinematic ‘Revelation’ and second up ‘Devoted Soul’ to closing number ‘Labyrinth of Evil’ and everything sandwiched in between - Just check out tracks like ‘Beyond The Game’ and the awesome ‘Last Weep’ as two bloomin’ good tracks, this record is an absolute belter! For the Symphonic Metal fan, this album has it all and is well recommended to all and sundry. Treat yourselves to a record with the wow factor – website here!!… 10/10 (Dave)

ASHES TO ASHES...'URANIA'

(Epictronic) Reviewed 15th August 2017

Here we have a belter from Italian band Ashes To Ashes. Fronted by Marta Vassallo who provides clean vocals and growls on this release, this is a record chock full of melodic alternative rock/metal music that to me ticks all the right boxes. Check out tracks like the catchy 'Once Upon a Time', the growly 'The Forgiveness Song' and the closer, the power ballad 'Just Daydreaming'. The whole album is full goodies and is well worth checking out..... 9/10 (Dave)

ALWAID...'THE MACHINE AND THE BEAST'

(Valkyrie Rising) Reviewed 7th August 2017

Alwaid is a melodic metal band from Lille, France. The band's first demo was released in the course of the summer 2012. The year 2013 was dedicated to live shows before the band hit the studio to record their first album "Lacus Somniorum", which was released in March 2014. An intense promotion tour then took Alwaid around the north of France, Belgium and the UK. The band strives to create a diversity of atmospheres, sometimes relying on symphonic structures and sometimes on more aggressive heavy metal guitars, not forgetting a number of darker pieces when male growls combine with the melodic female vocals. And this is well showcased with this their latest (and 2nd) release. This is totally bombastic, featuring strong and occasional operatic female vocals from Marie coupled with occasional growls, and I would go as far to say that there is hardly a duff track to be found. We get Epica style choral backdrops as this record pounds along quite nicely thank you and is well worth the purchase money. The band's facebook is here...9/10 (Dave)

BLACK SATELLITE...'ENDLESS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 20th July 2017

Black Satellite is a duo based in NYC, comprised of Larissa Vale and Kyle Hawken. Having been writing music together for almost six years, Black Satellite is the culmination of a deep-rooted partnership contributing to their unified writing style. The duo crash landed in the rock scene with their debut single 'Valkyrie', this their new album 'Endless' is now available and could well sky-rocket the pair to a whole new level. I was a little dubious for reasons unknown before I started listening to this album, but to be honest, this is a little gem. There are ten tracks of what I suppose can best be described as Alternative Rock with a flirtation with metal - let's say Roxette go heavy. A damn awesome release to be perfectly honest with every track a humdinger. I would certainly recommend this record to lovers of Alternative Rock with a strong melodic feel. The band's Facebook can be found here...9/10 (Dave)

ANGELWINGS...'THE EDGE OF INNOCENCE'

(Pride & Joy Music) Reviewed 9th July 2017

Angelwings is fronted by Divi Cano and come from Gibraltar. This is their debut album of ten awesome tracks of prime time melodic metal with symphonic elements. Cutting straight to the chase, the opener 'Game Of Life' is a catchy number, with most of the record taking on a catchy melodic feel - tracks like 'Forbidden Love', 'Lilith', the epic title track and the pen ultimate 'Embracing Fantasy' are awesome cuts, while the band can slow it down with numbers like the beautiful 'Memories' and the closer 'The Legend & The Myth'. This is a good cd and is well worth checking out... 8.75/10 (Dave)

AWAKEN SOLACE...'MYTHANDRIEL'

(Independent/Green Media|MGM Distribution) Reviewed 3rd July 2017

Combining a brooding fusion of melancholic beauty and intensely orchestrated metal, Australian band Awaken Solace return in 2017 with their second full-length album ‘MYTHANDRIEL’. The album comprises of 13 fantasy soundtracks featuring a live choir and orchestral arrangements that complement the bands 5 piece female-fronted metal line-up. Upon the release of their debut album ‘In Nightfall’s Embrace’, the band received attention throughout the underground metal scene the world over, placing them at the head of the Australian female fronted metal scene and landing them a national distribution deal with Green Media/MGM Distribution. The album is based on an original concept story written by vocalist Maree Nipperess: Something stirs in the waters, a shadow extends itself across the lands and the trees whisper of a great passing. Mythandriel has reached its twilight as many of its inhabitants prepare for their journey beyond its realm. Gods and fey alike accept this transition but an evil, long stirring, has been awoken. Within the shell of a creature once beautiful broods a vengeance so powerful it could prevent the new age and leave a nothingness in its wake. All life stands still, all that is unborn cannot draw breath. An evil pack has stolen the dreams of children and left nightmares in their place. But, there is one unborn child that can defeat the desolation and find life, one man that can weaken the dark lord and one long lost lover that can still walk the path into his heart. With the last of their strength the Gods prepare to battle and make right the faults of their past. The fruition of a prophecy is at hand. The album runs in at around 74 minutes and gives the listener 13 cuts of absolutely superb Symphonic Metal based on the concept detailed above. The epic 17+ minute pen ultimate track ‘End Of An Age’ is totally awesome, and with one’s own imagination, you can view your own images as to what is going on within the confines of this track. Everything on this record from the opener ‘Mythandriel In Twilight’ to the closer ‘Final Earthly Deeds’ comes from the top drawer , has blown me away and if this band was located in Europe, they would be absolutely massive, no doubt about it. With mastering by Mika Jussila at the awesome Finnvox Studios, Helsinki, Finland (Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Children of Bodom & many more), this album is well recommended to ALL you Symphonic/Fantasy Metal fans (more so Nightwish, Epica & Rhapsody of Fire to name just three) out there. You can watch the album trailer here - released 6th July.... 9.75/10 (Dave)

BURNING WITCHES...S/T

(BW Records/Non Stop Music) Reviewed 19th June 2017

Swiss newcomers BURNING WITCHES is currently by far the hottest export from the Alpine Republic, with their release of this their self-titled debut album! Melodic guitars meet powerful metal with influences from power and speed metal and elements from the traditional metal scene, always paired with incredible groove and expressive power and melody. The band consists of Seraina (Vocals), Romana (Guitars), Alea (Guitars), Jay (bass) and Lala (Drums), the record throwing at the listener eleven songs of high octane metal, every track an absolute belter. This is a good album and worth checking out... 8.25/10 (Dave)

AURORA...'FOLLOW ME' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 9th June 2017

Metal passages burst with energy, sudden breaks and driving guitars make way for solemn and playful melodies within the five cuts on this cd from this German band. The angelic/operatic vocals of Johanna Braun play their part, starting with the catchy 'Will O’ the Wisp', slowing down for the magical track 'Pale Flowers'and ending this little cd with 'Lullaby' that being a gentle tune. The band's Facebook is here. A nice little effort is this... 8.25/10 (Natalie)

THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE...'UNDER YOUR SPELL'

(Metropolis Records) Reviewed 5th June 2017

I have known about this band since their conception in 1999 and have every one of their albums in one form or another. This is another good one from the band that heavily infuses guitars and synths to create a heavy Gothy industrial rock sound, typical of The Birthday Massacre and very melodic and catchy to boot as well. If you like TBM, you will sure like this album, no doubt about it. Is it their best effort? I do not think so, but very good nonetheless...8.75/10 (Dave)

AVATARIUM...'HURRICANES AND HALOS'

(Nuclear Blast Records) Reviewed 29th May 2017

Continuing their unique path of endless progression, 'Hurricanes And Halos' opens a new chapter in the band's history and in their love for an organic, raw sound, catchy melodies and haunting doom, AVATARIUM have found their home. Rough and heavy guitars embrace the deep bluesy voice of Jennie-Ann Smith. And with pain and grace the band knits a unique sound leading you right into another world. This the bands third full length album that offers the listener 8 tracks of metal with one of my faves being the pounding and melodic 'The Starless Sleep'. Further favourite cuts include 'Road To Jerusalem' and the bluesy 'When Breath Turns To Air' I have seen in places this album being put solidly into the "Doom" category, but this record to my ears is more 70s Classic Rock with a bluesy vibe and some great guitar atmospherics too. Okay, it may have 'doomy bits' but nonetheless, this album is good and it deserves a listen, being easily available on the Nuclear Blast label. A good un.... 8.5/10 (Dave)

BLACKBRIAR...'FRACTURED FAIRYTALES' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 23rd May 2017

Netherlands band Blackbriar fronted by the angelic poppy vocal style of Zora Cock, is a five-piece Alternative Metal band with a special twist in the form of a mysterious singer, capable of opening the gates of both heaven and hell with her voice! With music that offers a Gothic undercurrent, the six tracks that include a brief intro cut are rather good. I have not heard of this band before, but with tracks like 'Preserved Roses' with it's Gothic feel, the bombastic and bouncy 'Deadly Nightshade', the awesome title track, the pounding and melodic 'Until Eternity' and closer 'Witching Hour', that basically is all of them. So overall, a good record and well worth checking out. The band's Facebook is here.... 8.75/10 (Dave)

ANKOR...'BEYOND THE SILENCE OF THESE YEARS'

(Self Released) Reviewed 16th May 2017

Ankor was formed in Tarragona (Barcelona, Spain) in May, 2003, when some fourteen-year-old friends decided to get together to enjoy, create and let their imagination run wild with music. After performing a lot of concerts and publishing several demos in Spain, their first album ‘Al Fin Descansar’ (sung in Spanish), was released by the Spanish label ‘Santo Grial Producciones’. During the last months of 2010, a new CD (now in English), called ‘My Own Angel’, was recorded and produced by Ankor. However, after the release of the bands 3rd record 'Last Song For Venus', Rosa de la Cruz, Ankor’s original vocalist informed with an emotional statement that she was leaving Ankor. The band announced 3 days later the new vocalist, Jessie Williams who was born in Bristol (UK). And she is here on this the bands 4th record and what a belter this album is. Jessie Williams sings and screams with further insane vocals from guitarist Fito Martinez with clean male vox from David Romeu, the band's other guitarist. Eleven tracks of Modern Alternative Metal is the best way to describe this album with a bit of rap as well, and a lovely power ballad, that being the track 'Kiss Me Goodnight'. The whole cd maintains a sound similar to their previous releases, and I sure have no complaints at that :) A good album from start to finish of which we wholly recommend...8.75/10 (Dave)

ADRENALINE RUSH...'SOUL SURVIVOR'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 2nd May 2017

Tåve and Erik Mårtensson (of Eclipse and W.E.T.) joined forces in 2012 and began recording what was to become the first Adrenaline Rush album, featuring live oriented tracks with strong melodies, powerful guitars and interesting arrangements. The guys were hand-picked from bands around Stockholm, all having different backgrounds but each an important piece of the puzzle. SOUL SURVIVOR is the band's second album featuring 13 strong and anthemic tracks of melodic hard rock that we all know that the FRONTIERS label is famous for. Opening tracks 'Adrenaline' powers out of the speakers showing that this band fronted by Tave Wanning can't half rock. There are further powerful cuts like second one 'Love Like Poison' with its catchy chorus, the melodic and catchy 'Breaking The Chains', the pounding 'My Life' and slower numbers like the title track, then we have the mid paced 80s sounding 'Shock Me' and the pen ultimate rocking number 'Crash'. Overall this is another good album of Swedish melodic rock from the band and well recommended as a consequence... 8.75/10 (Dave)

THE AUTIST...'THE COLDEST SUN'

(Self Release) Reviewed 23rd April 2017

The Autist so happens to be a female fronted metal project with Prog/Symphonic elements from Portugal/Russia, featuring Polina Psycheya as main vocalist coupled with occasional deathly growls. This is their debut album, which also features Alina Lesnik (mostly known for her many you tube covers) and Chiara Tricarico from the Italian metal heads Temperance. This is a stonkingly bombastic album that sets the scene from the opening moments of the cd. It thunders along with tracks like 'Stardust', the awesome 'Age Of Leviathan' featuring the aforementioned Chiara Tricarico, ‘Fallen’ with some electro influences, the more mellow and rather cool ‘Loveless’ and the thumping ‘The Sanctuary’. This album is high tempo and ultra heavy with lots of growls and screams, coupled of course with the female vocals, but it is well worth looking into. The band’s facebook is here… 8.25/10 (Hannah Cooper)

AEVUM…’DISCHRONIA’

(Maple Metal Records) Reviewed 16th April 2017

Fronted by HYDRA: Male voice, scream & growl and LUCILLE NIGHTSHADE: Female Voice, Italian band AEVUM hurl at the listener 13 tracks of Symphonic Metal with touches of Death, Gothic, Electronica and Progressive thrown into the mix for good measure. I have to say that there is a lot happening on this record which makes it even more interesting, including choirs! Indeed, a very interesting release in-fact, do not expect a record full of catchy choruses and belting hooks, but what we do have is a very good album with quirky tracks a plenty bordering on the eccentric. I like it and I personally would recommend it… 8.75/10 (Dave)

BENEATH MY SINS…’VALKYRIES OF MODERN TIMES’

(Painted Bass Records) Reviewed 4th April 2017

BENEATH MY SINS fronted by the operatic vocals of Emma Elvaston, is a French Symphonic Metal band founded in January 2016. In December 2015, the members of the last line-up of the band EVOLVENT, who under that moniker had released two albums, decided to create a new band closer to their ambitions and their approach to music. And as a consequence, BENEATH MY SINS was born. 'Valkyries of Modern Times' is the band's debut 11 track album, offering a bombastic dose of Symphonic Metal. We have what is now becoming the customary instrumental intro leading us into the first track proper ‘From The Flames’, a bombastic Symphonic Metal tune to set the scene as to what is to follow. ‘Losing You Again’ is a corker with catchy chorus, with other goodies including the ballady ‘Broken Pieces’, the Folky ‘Dreams Shall Be Lived’, ‘My Rules’ with its electro influences and the catchy ‘Fly Raven Fly’. Overall, this is a consistently good release and another one to consider for your must buy list…. 8.25/10 (Dave)

DORIS BRENDEL and LEE DUNHAM...'ECLECTICA'

(Sky-Rocket Records) Reviewed 24th March 2017

Doris Brendel is largely recognised as one of the most innovative alternative artists of the last decade, encompassing alternative and progressive rock, pop, blues, celtic, singer-songwriter and world influences, while at the same time, appealing to the ‘intelligent alternative music fan’. With her unique and distinctive husky voice she stands out in a league of her own. This ten track album is her latest recording which in turn, confirms what an exceptional talent this girl is, and as a consequence is one of the best on the scene at the moment. Some corking tracks here featuring her awesome vocals like the rocking 'Love App' (I need one of them lol), the catchy bluesy feel of the near 7 minute 'I Rather Wear Black', and I do rather like the Spanish guitar on this number too, the progressive rock feel of 'Retribution', the funky 'Animal' together with animal noises (this must surely become a live fave), the epic progressive 'Losing It' and the final track 'One World' that has a Summery reggae feel. If you are a fan of original artists, such as Kate Bush, Bjork, Janis Joplin, Jethro Tull, Sam Brown, Marillion, Skunk Ananse and more, this is an essential record for your collection. This album, the ninth from Doris I believe, maintains her consistent musical output and is damn cool. And why not pick up some free music here... 8.75/10 (Dave)

AEVERIUM...'TIME'

(Out Of Line Music) Reviewed 11th March 2017

On this, the band's second album, German Modern-Metal merchants Aeverium find the perfect balance between anthemic symphonic sounds, driving synths and contemporary harshness. Their well-received debut album 'Break Out' already effectively set Aeverium apart from the crowd. The hammering power riffs and aggression of Modern and Nu-Metal were expertly juxtaposed with catchy melodies and the elegiac bombast of Symphonic-Metal, to forge one of the most refreshing hybrid sounds in recent Rock history, powered by an exceptionally talented duo on vocals. Indeed, the band deliver yet another damn fine record, and I must say that Aeverium is quickly becoming one of my faves on the circuit. This newie due 24th March continues where the debut left off, with front man Marcel “Chubby” Roemer displaying an impressive vocal band width ranging from growls to powerful melodic belting, which is effectively countered by the mesmerizing female voice of Aeva Maurelle, who is delivering her full range from heavenly voices to a siren-like tour de force. Regards the music itself, we barely get past the opening duo of 'Hunted' and 'Time' before further delightful belters await us like the catchy ‘What About Me’, the ballad ‘Home’, the synth driven ‘Can’t Break Me Down’ and I am going to stop there as they are all bloomin’ good! Not a duff track in sight!! The record will even also be released as a deluxe 2CD including an exclusive bonus disc with 8 unplugged versions of new songs, and whatever format one buys, this is well worth the purchase money without a doubt… 9.5/10 (Dave)

BARE INFINITY...'THE BUTTERFLY RAISER'

(Blackdown Music) Reviewed 11th March 2017

Founded in Athens Greece, Bare Infinity have been at the forefront of the Greece Symphonic metal and Gothic Rock genre since their creation. In 2009 the band released their highly acclaimed debut album 'Always Forever' paving the way for tours and shows outside of Greece, a first for any Greek band of their genre at the time. The album was followed up by an EP 'The Passage' released in 2011, which in turn led to a series of shows outside of Greece, most noteably their appearence at the MFVF in Belgium. In 2012 the Band took a break and went through a complete lineup change, rebooting in 2014 headed by the italian singer Ida Elena DeRazza. Anyway, now in 2017, and for those that like their Symphonic Metal bombastic and melodic, this album is the biz. This indeed is well showcased in the opener 'Race Of Destiny' that kicks starts this album in awesome fashion, this in-fact one of my faves from the cd. The pace doesn't slacken into the second number 'Artemis', that introduces in a subtle fashion the pipes, and I do love pipes. 'Reaching For The Sun' is another belter, with other awesome tracks including the up tempo 'In Desertis', the catchy beast of a title track, the thundering and progressive feel of 'Hear Me Out' and the bombastic sounding pen ultimate track 'The Devil's Call'. I like this album very much from start to finish and is well recommended by us here... 9.25/10 (Dave)

BLUE MATCHES...'CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 20th February 2017

Blue Matches is a female-led rock band out of Nashville, TN, with an emphasis on melodic elements. They seamlessly combine the energy and catchiness of early 2000s Pop-Punk, 90s Alternative and modern Indie Rock with the maturity and complexity of veteran songwriters. Consisting of Michelle Marston on Vocals, Steven Edwards on Guitar/Vocals, Stephen Smith on Bass/Vocals and Phillip Brown on Drums, the band has started to make a name for itself in Nashville and the surrounding areas. This 13 track offering, their second throws at the listener high octane foot tapping alternative rock with pop/punk influences. Some vary catchy stuff here and this band is sure one to look out for. Also some interesting titles including the number 'I Swear We're Not an Emo Band, but This Song Is Called 'Until Our Hearts Stop'' - love it! And the track 'Fatty Gets Off' had me in stitches, a wacky beast of a number! Then we have the slower number 'Vanity' - awesome. This album is quirky and a good un. The band's facebook is here. The album drops 17th March... 8/10 (Dave)

BATTLE BEAST...'BRINGER OF PAIN'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 19th February 2017

Battle Beast fronted by Noora Louhimo has this uncanny habit of recording hideously catchy Melodic Metal and this, their latest ofering does not disappoint. There is some awesome music here on this 13 track album. Without going into detail, all I can say is that if you like your Metal very catchy and totally melodic, this sure is an album for you. If it ain' broken, why fix it sure applies to this record, maintaining the path well established by this band with their previous releases. And we have ballads too, check out 'Far From Heaven' as one example! I like this album, there are highlights galore and for that, it gets a 9/10 (Dave)

AMBRA ROCKESS...'DARKLING'

(FUTURA Studio) Reviewed 4th February 2017

According to Facebook, the music from Ambra Rockess (www.facebook.com/ambrarockess/) has been described as Female Intimate Rock and a rather cool offering it is as well. From Syracuse in Italy, the music from this lass is a cool blend of Alternative Rock, influenced by Metal, Djent and Dark Indie Pop. There are ten tracks of slow to mid paced music influenced by the above styles and jolly good it is too. This record is consistent across all the ten cuts and is well worth checking out, the awesome vocals of Ambra Rockess a highlight in itself....8.75/10 (Dave)

ANN MY GUARD...'OURANIA'

(Rock'N'Growl Records) Reviewed 12th January 2017

Ann My Guard is an awesome band from Hungary fronted by Eszter Anna Baumann, who is also the band's bassist. Formed in 2007, their Facebook page describes the band's music as doll metal/space witch metal/whatever. Well whatever pigeon hole you would want to place their style of music, it is damn awesome and this album, although a little on the short side offers an all killer no filler shot of hot Alternative Rock/Metal. 'Novae' is a short intro that leads us into the belting number 'Asteria', and what a start. This band rocks and there is very little here I can fault! Other cool cuts to my ears include the mid tempo 'Breathe The Sun' with its awesome chorus and the metallic 'Obsidian Tears' again with an awesome chorus that sticks in your head. But I must say that everything on this CD is magical!! Their previous album 'Innocence Descent' was a great record to these ears, this takes the band onto the next level. Great stuff and well recommended - their Facebook is here... 9.25/10 (Dave)

BEEF SUPREME...'WITCHCRAFT IN SCHOOL' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th December 2016

American Stoner Rock act Beef Supreme has recently released their third EP and we here have been given the pleasure of reviewing it. I do rather like this band as their music is not something I would normally listen too, but yet is refreshingly different from what I normally have to review. Following a similar path to their previous two EPs, it is a four track feast of Doom, Stoner and sludgy riffs, coupled with Niki's aswesome vocals, and always as with their previous releases, a sense of melody bubbling under the surface. Check out the band's Soundcloud here. A cool release... 8/10 (Dave)

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)

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