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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

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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)

BEYOND GOD…’A MOMENT OF BLACK’

(JBM Events) Reviewed 8th April 2016

Beyond God come from the Netherlands, and released an EP ’Dark Light Of Dawn’ in 2014 that we reviewed on this very site. Now we have the full length offering, that features the 4 tracks on that aforementioned EP plus a further 7 riff-tastic numbers to wrap our ears around. And very good it is too. The EP featured Cynthia Knoch on vocals, but in 2015 Meryl Foreman replaced Cynthia. Anyway, with Meryl now taking the mic stand, and after an instrumental intro that seems to be the norm now on many albums of this style, first track proper on this record ’Prince Creep’ kicks in, a great Symphonic number with an awesome choral back drop. ‘Sail Away Upon A Cloud’ maintains the Symphonics but with a progressive undercurrent. And this incredible full length debut continues with numbers like the lovely ballads ‘Nocturne’, ‘Memories’ and ‘Cursed‘, the bombastic prowess of ‘Destination Darkness’ and ‘Ghost Ship’, and the epic sounding closer ‘Passion’. If you like the female fronted bands that come out of the Netherlands that shall remain nameless (you know who they are), then you will like this album, no doubt about it. This is a very good record from a very promising band. Check their website out here.. 8.75/10 (Dave)

ARCTIC VOID…’ENTANGLED’

(Power Prog Records) Reviewed

Arctic Void (www.facebook.com/Arctic.Void) is a dual vocalist metal band from Gothenburg, fronted by Anna Samuelsson and the clean male vocals of Olof Lindgren. The band was formed in 2010 under the name Earthrise. In 2013, after several line up changes the band’s name was changed to Arctic Void. This album is typical of the Gothenburg sound that seems to be very popular at the moment, the record pounding along rather nicely, but a very melodic offering to boot. Indeed, the music is built mainly around heavy guitars combined with strong vocal melodies, and this being well set out within the eleven tracks on this album. If you like your music heavy, melodic and very up tempo and catchy, then check this Swedish bunch out. With no ballads, this is an all killer no filler album, you won’t be disappointed… 8.75/10 (Hannah Cooper)

BELLADONNA…’THE ORCHESTRAL ALBUM’

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th March 2016

Italian Noir Rockers Belladonna has just released this cd, 'The Orchestral Album', a selection of 10 songs cherry-picked from their catalogue, the numbers being completely re-arranged and recorded with a concert orchestra, which features many of Ennio Morricone's regular orchestral players. This album combines BELLADONNA's noir and passionate tones with Kazakh arranger/conductor Angelina Yershova's luscious and heart-blowing orchestrations, to create a deeply emotional journey and to be perfectly frank, I just love it. I have noticed that quite a few bands within the metal genre are now beginning to incorporate orchestral elements within their compositions, but Belladonna’s style of music is perfectly suited to such arrangements. There are some epic numbers here including the awesomely beautiful and epic ‘Wonderlust’, the quirky ‘Beyond The Realms Of Reason’, the orchestral ‘Morpheus Rising’, and the grandiose closer ‘Morpheus’. Luana Caraffa’s voice is captivating which in association with her awesome colleagues within the band puts them in a league of their own. To put it simply, this album is simply stunning and beautiful, check out more info here….. 9.5/10 (Dave)

ALLEY'S BRIDGE...'DREAM CHASE REACH'

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th March 2016

Alley's Bridge is an Alternative Rock band from El Salvador founded in 2013 by Frank De León [drums] and David Díaz [synths]. Afterwards, José Ayala [guitar] joins the band, and a few months later the angelic sounding Willow Beaver [vocals] and Diego Liévano [bass] became part of this project. The name Alley's Bridge represents a way out [bridge] that allow us to escape in any difficult situation in life or events that apparently don't have solution, representing these contexts as a non-exit alley. "Alley's Bridge" understands that there's always a solution in any event in life. Onto the music and there are 11 tracks of pure unadulterated catchy alternative Rock, coupled with an electro undercurrent that always runs close and at times bubbles up to the surface. This album is very commercial and very catchy at the same time. El Salvador is not a country associated with this style of music, but this record surprised me and is well recommended - I like it. The cdbaby shop has the album for sale on their digital platform here - this release is well worth checking out.. 9/10 (Natalie 'The Nugget' Gold)

BLODWEN...'WINTER FALLS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th March 2016

Blodwen fronted by Bernice Nikki hail from Indonesia and this is the long awaited follow up to their 'Black Symphony' album that we reviewed back in 2010 (8.75/10). And I have to say that it has been well worth the wait. Bernice has a fine set of vocal chords with a fine range from Rock to Operatics at the flick of a switch. I also feel that her voice would go down well on the West End stage or indeed on Broadway, associated with some of the fine productions that these stages put out. But her home is with Rock & Metal music I am glad to say, and it is well showcased within the music on this album. There are twelve tracks here of prime time Symphonic/Melodic Metal coupled with the occasional ballad. Rockers include the symphonic 'For A New World', the dynamic pulsating 'Ghost Town' and the rather cool 'Rabbit Hole Suite', and who did kill the baby? Meanwhile, 'Lovelorn' is one of the awesome ballads from the album being sung with such emotion. Everything on this record is so damn cool it has to be on one's shopping list. The band's website is at www.blodwensymphony.com/home.html... 9/10 (Dave)

BENEATH THE SILENCE…’MEANT FOR THE CLOUDS’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 20th March 2016

Denmark is producing some rather good female fronted bands. Forever Still springs to mind, then we have The Storm. Are they still going? Guy bands include Royal Hunt and Pretty Maids. Not bad going for a small country. Now add Beneath The Silence to that list. Fronted by Mette Hessellund Helwig Pedersen, they are a melodic metal band with a focus on heavy and groovy riffs, with a strong, melodic vocal. The band emphasizes a modern sound and a solid live show with an energetic edge. The 8th of April 2016 the band is releasing this their first EP, and rather good it is too. The music on this record could possibly be put into the same category as the aforementioned Forever Still, confirming how strong the Danish melodic metal scene is. Click here to access their Facebook. This is a consistent release throughout the 6 tracks, and is well recommended to all and sundry… 8.75/10 (Dave)

BOUDIKA…S/T

(Del Imaginario Discos) Reviewed 20th March 2016

Boudika come from Argentina and they are fronted by a young lady by the name of Eve, whose vocal style comes from the operatic school of vocal ability. South America seems to be a breeding ground for female fronted metal bands and Argentina is of no exception. However, it does seem that some of these bands pop up and then quickly disappear as quickly as they appear. Boudika are good on this their debut studio full length offering, but I would not say exceptional, although the vocals of Eve are possibly the “jewel in the crown”, if that is the phrase to use. Meanwhile, I would call the style of music Symphonic Metal, basically run of the mill stuff really, and although good, I would not say that there is a track that jumps out, grabs ya and says “play me again“! If anything nonetheless, I do rather like the number ‘The End Of Sorrow’, an acoustic driven ballad that is quite nice and laid back, until it ups the ante with about a minute and a bit to go. Do not get me wrong, I do not dislike this album, on the contrary, but it needs that little something extra to make me hit the repeat button. But for you female fronted anoraks out there, it is at least worth a listen. The band’s facebook is here.. 7.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

BLIND EXISTENCE…’HURRICANE’ EP

(Lion Music) Reviewed 2nd March 2016

Another pleasant surprise - BLIND EXISTENCE is a Progressive Metal band from Pesaro, (Italy) consisting of Francesco Federici (guitar), Gabriele Manocchi (keyboards) and Monia Rossi (vocals). The band was formed in 2014 and this EP is a project composed of four tracks which describes the sense of restlessness that we have to face every day in our lives, expressing a wide arrange of emotions. There has been a great deal of attention given to the creation of the sound and to the construction of the melody within the EP, and this is well showcased throughout the four numbers. Also another thing to note is that the tracks are fairly brief and to the point (around the 4 to 5 minute mark), which one may not normally associate with Progressive Rock/Metal bands. Personally, I like all the tracks on this little EP, it is progressive, it is heavy and there is commercial appeal there as well, which will please fans that like their music a little more ‘straight forward’. This EP isn’t the preview of the album 'Million Faces', due for release in July 2016 by Lion Music, but It is a completed work with its own features, a perfect link between the past and the future of the musical path of the band. Check them out at www.lionmusic.com/cd/Blind_Existence.html - released March 18th and well recommended…8.75/10 (Dave)

BEYOND FORGIVENESS...'THE FERRYMAN'S SHORE' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 19th February 2016

Beyond Forgiveness is female fronted Gothic/Symphonic Metal band from Fountain, Colorado. Melding musical influences from all metal genres mainly of European influence, Beyond Forgiveness mixes styles of doom metal, death metal and power metal with lush symphonic orchestrations and powerful lyrical concepts. Fronted by Talia Holt, this little piece of plastic is rather good, confirming the belief that the American bands are at least trying to gain a footing at playing the Europeans at their own game. This is I would call a beauty & the beast release, angelic/operatic female vocals blending in with male growls, in what is at times a complex musical environment, appealing to the listener that likes their music towards the heavier end of the spectrum. A consistently good record throughout nonetheless, with the closing epic 8 minute plus ‘Your Haunting Eyes’ one of my fave numbers. Well worth looking into - facebook here… 8.25/10 (Hannah Cooper)

BEYOND THE BLACK...'LOST IN FOREVER'

(Airforce1) Reviewed 15th February 2016

'Lost In Forever' is the second studio album by the German Symphonic Metal band Beyond the Black, who is fronted by Jennifer Haben (ex-Saphir). This is the first album we believe by the band to feature all six band members instead of studio and guest musicians. Beyond the Black was conceived in 2014, released their first album 'Songs Of Love and Death' in 2015, and now we are barely in 2016 and this is their sophomore effort, so to say that the band has been sitting around doing nothing would be rather untrue. And throw into all that the gigs that the band has been partaking in as well, and it seems they are busy little bees. When I reviewed their debut album, I gave it a max score, therefore, I have indeed set the benchmark for this album! Okay, here goes... when Within Temptation changed their musical direction to a rather more rockier approach, they left a void, that was screaming to be filled by a band of some description from somewhere on this planet. Many have taken up the mantle, but none as much as Beyond the Black, who have taken up that mantle and have succeeded, but with a sound of their own, if that makes sense. This 13 track album is a sure fire winner, not a filler in sight, every track a killer - how do they do it? And they are so young! Jennifer I believe will be 21 in July. I am not going to sit here and highlight individual tracks, why bother, let me just say that everything on this record is from the top drawer, and this band must surely be staring at worldwide domination. I like this, I like it a lot, it is melodic, it is symphonic, it is bombastic and if the visitors to this website bought just one album this year, this has to be the one!! Enough said!!! 10/10 (Dave)

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)

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