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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

REVIEWS A-B

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ANILAH...'WARRIOR'

(Self Release) Reviewed 7th April 2014

Anilah is the solo project of vocalist and composer Dréa Drury, a musician based in the Selkirk Mountains of Western Canada. Her inspirations draw from traditional shamanic sound practices, sacred chant, dark tribal, and Indian Classical. She has studied the art of using the voice as a healing modality with sound healers and shamans from across North America. This has led to her own exploration of the esoteric application of sound, which she now weaves into the tapestry of her musical expression. As a consequence of all this, what the album offers are 4 tracks of haunting and relaxing music to literally soothe the senses and ease away the aches and pains of modern day living. The title track is totally awesome, which midway sees some awesome guitars kicking in to propel the track onto another plane. And the remainder of the album that runs in total at around 36 minutes is downright good. Okay, this is different, but that is what we here at Ravenheart is all about, variety is the spice of life. For fans of Lisa Gerrard, Dead Can Dance, Wardruna, and Tool. The website is here... 8.5/10 (Aimee)

BRIGHTSTORM...'PAST IN FLAMES' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 13th March 2014

Occasionally a band blows me away and it is now the turn of Brightstorm from Brazil. The band started in October 2012 as a cover project and already had most of its current members: vocalist Naimi Stephanie, guitarist Léo Milani, bassist Flávio Gonçalves and keyboardist Gabriel Bernardes. After their first show, drummer Odair Salles and additional guitarist Will Lopes joined the band. Noticing their potential to create original songs, the group decided to create a name and start composing and creating music within the Gothic Metal genre. And this their debut record, is rather good to say the least. They offer up five tracks on this EP, all being exceptionally good, and should please any fan of female fronted Gothic Rock & Metal music. Starting with the melodic and bombastic 'Taste Of Wine' the band set the bench mark with the opener, and upon repeated listens, this track is becoming a fave of mine.'Breathing in Death' slows it down just a touch particularly at the start, and I am hearing Amy Lee influences in the vocal department. Third number 'Losses And Fears' (another fave) is a gigantic power ballad, that initially has just piano and strings, and then soars into action when the rest of the band crank it up to eleven - awesome! The pounding 'Under The Moon' shows no let up while closer 'These Hands' ends a very good record. What the band offer the listener is around 25 minutes of pure heaven and I wholeheartedly recommend this. It does remind me vocally of Amy Lee at times which is not a bad thing at all - just imagine Evanescence gone heavy and metallic. The band's website is here.. 9/10 (Dave)

ANKOR...'LAST SONG FOR VENUS'

(Winner Horse Productions) Reviewed 7th March 2014

Ankor hail from Tarragona in Spain and is a band to me that has sure given the Spanish Metal scene a boot up the backside. And they are so young! We have clean angelic female vocals courtesy of Rosa de la Cruz, insane vocals (the band's words) from Fito Martínez, screams from bassist Julio and clean vocals from David Romeu. And then we must not forget the two remaining band members who contribute to this band's massive sound, Rubio on keys and Jordi on drums. There are 12 tracks here of melodic metal to destroy your senses, similar I suppose to In This Moment amongst others of that style. And damn good it is too. And they can even throw at us a couple of rather nice ballads, the title track being one such song and 'Moonlight' being the other. Indeed, the closer 'The Unreachable Cherry Tree Of Dreams', is a neat acoustic number. This overall is a good album and recommended by the Ravenheart team. The band's website is here... 8.5/10 (Dave)

ALEXA DE STRANGE - 'TITS OF DEATH'

(Paranoise Records) Reiewed 27th Feb 2014

A 5 track EP dropped into my office the other day from a band called Alexa De Strange, fronted by a lass that I know as Francesca. I admit that the title of the EP immediately gained my attention and indeed so did the music. What we have here is an impressive array of catchy rock music with very impressive and at times sexy vocals from Francesca. I have listened to this CD a few times and I am having trouble finding any fault. Phil Manzanero from Roxy Music has stated and I quote: "I love everything about this band". I think to be perfectly honest, that I can also echo those sentiments. We also have a totally awesome power ballad, 'If Only' running in at well over 6 minutes - absolutely mind blowing. This is frikin' good stuff and the band must be checked out pronto. Their Facebook is here - released 10th March.. 8.75/10 (Dave)

BEYOND VIOLET...'FROZEN WORDS' EP

(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 13th Feb 2014

Beyond Violet is a new Ravenheart Music acquisition and they offer up here five tracks of rather good Rock & Metal. The band combines catchy melodies with an aggressive edge and a harmonically rich, theatrical sound, being strongly influenced by Melodic Rock and Metal bands such as Lacuna Coil, Evanescence, Rammstein, Unsun, Sirenia, Within Temptation and Muse, as well as early progressive rock and new wave. Fronted by the angelic and rather nice vocals of Roxanne, the five tracks here are quite simply good and hideosuly catchy. The opening salvo of 'Frozen Words' and 'Deep Defence' set the bench mark which continue with the awesome 'Bright Star', one of my faves from the cd. The closing duo of 'Deceit' and 'Survivors' maintain the tempo and quality and I must say, this will be a good purchase (Ravenheart label or not) if you are at least into the above mentioned bands, let alone many other female fronted acts that are too numerous to mention. This is good and well recommended, their Facebook is here... 9/10 (Dave)

BLUE DAWN...'CYCLE OF PAIN'

(Black Widow) Reviewed 11th Feb 2014

'Cycle Of Pain' is the long awaited follow up to the self titled Blue Dawn debut album. This latest effort from these Italians fronted by Monica Santo, was recorded after a successful UK tour, and it sees the band expanding their sound and delivering 12 new brilliant tracks (including bonus track), offering a style ranging from seventies Hard Rock through Doom Metal to Prog Rock. Plus, we have a stunning cover of Roxy Music's 'In Every Dream Home A Heartache'. What I like about the new album is the sexy sax that puts in an occasional appearance and gives this album the X-Factor, that sax provided by guest Jazz musician Roberto Nunzio Trabona. The record kicks off with the up tempo 'The Powers That Be', with next up, the retro sounding 'Emerald Eyes' and 'Naked Soul' providing the listener with an awesome start to the 12 track set. The title track is more of a doomy offering with touches of Prog and some great Hammond Organ. 'Clone' sees the sexy sax putting in an appearance while 'Dawn of Contempt' is a brief orchestral piece. That then takes us onto the second half of the record that sees The Gathering sounding 'Contempt' with great guitar work, the sax putting in a further appearance on the aforementioned 'In Every Dream Home A Heartache' - rather good me thinks! 'Last Cry' closes the album as a bonus track. Overall, this cd is a good effort - their Facebook is here - check it out... 8/10 (Dave)

ANYONE'S GUESS...'MARCH IN THE DARK ~ CHAPTER 1'

(Red Dragon Records) Reviewed 7th Feb 2014

Since the release of the single 'Apathy', female-fronted Orlando band Anyone's Guess has been flourishing and developing their music. This their newest EP, which has just been released offers up five tracks of powerful and melodic tunes in a smilar vein to those of Halestorm and Paramore amongst others. There are also resemblances to a band that I was involved with several months ago, Faces Of March, who also hail from Florida. Opener 'Intro' is just that, an instrumental opener that then leads us straight into the heavy, powerful and melodic 'March In The Dark' - a great tune! The single 'Apathy' is up next, another equally powerful number from the record, so far so good. 'Go As You Came' is a good quality rocker and is another great tune, while closer 'Hunter' is a slower song but still packing a punch! This is a very good EP from this band fronted by Sanja Jovanovic, and this is yet another band that I would well worth recommend checking out - their Facebook is here...8.5/10 (Dave)

AJENDA...'UNRECOGNIZABLE'

(Jenuine Records via Plastichead Distribution) Reviewed 4th Feb 2014

Ajenda is a female fronted rock act with 3 self released eps under their belts. Hailing from Belfast, they have released the CD Format of their fabulous & critically acclaimed debut album 'Unrecognizable' via Plastichead Distribution. Previously available only on Digital format, the band have had such an amazing response to the album from everyone who's listened to it, including magazines and radio stations alike, that it was then decided to release it on CD format as well. And this is well worth the money whether it is bought digitally or physically. The ten tracks here offer a wonderful blend of rock n roll liberally flecked with blues, delicate melodic touches and at times a darker undercurrent adding a twist to some utterly fantastic rock songs. To be perfectly frank, this release is awesome and the vocals of Jen have totally blown me away. Every track is a standout number although the song 'Hatred And Greed', which is also a promotional single from the album, may just shade it to my ears. The band's website is at http://www.ajendamusic.com..check it out... 8.5/10 ( Dave)

AEVERIUM...'THE HARVEST EP'

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st January 2014

Here we have an awesome band from Germany featuring the female vocals of Aeva Maurelle and the male vocals of Marcel "Chubby" Römer. Their music is difficult to pigeonhole in general. So it´s hard to say, that Aeverium are just a Gothic Metal or female fronted metal band. Their music is full of emotions, female and male vocals, epicness, powerful guitar-riffs, orchestral influences, electro sounds and, most important, songs that will affect and influence people. I can hear various influences here, but one band that does spring to mind is the now defunkt Beseech. There are just four tracks here, but this is good stuff, with 'Rest In Peace' featuring predominantly the vocals of Marcel being a great Melodic Metal number and a fave of mine from the EP - this track being the band's personal tribute to Peter of Type o´Negative. Fans of bands like Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, Evanescence and even Korn, H.I.M., Disturbed and Rammstein should have a listen to this upcoming band and with Sander Gommans (After Forever, HDK) and Amanda Somerville (Trillium, Avantasia) involved in the recording process, need I say anymore. The bands Facebook is here...8.75/10 (Dave)

AUBURN...'NASHVILLE'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 9th December 2013

An interesting cd we have here from a band called Auburn. After almost a decade apart, they reformed in 2011 and the following year they delivered the album 'Indian Summer' (reviewed by us in April 2012). The acoustic 'Nashville' is their follow up to that cd with Liz Lenten remaining as their lynch pin singer/songwriter. For those that may be familiar with Liz, they will know that this is not a metal album, but if you want an album that delivers laid back music in a kinda pop, bluesy, country style, then this cd will be of interest. I rather like it to be honest, with the country feel of 'Hurting' and 'Maybe Tonight', the poppy bouncy feel of 'Crazy People', the laid back and rather nice 'Pride is a Thief' and the bluesy 'Full To The Brim'. Having toured with the likes of Jefferson Starship, the late Roy Orbison, Garth Brooks and even Dolly Parton, Auburn have cemented their place within the genre with this album. And they will even be touring the UK with Jefferson Starship once again in the new year to support this album, that gets released here on the 27th January. A relaxing and refined listen from a band fronted by a very talented lady... 8/10 (Dave)

A HERO FOR THE WORLD...'WINTER IS COMING, A HOLIDAY ROCK OPERA'

(Self Release) Reviewed 26th November 2013

Christmas is coming - like it or loath it, the Holiday season is just around the corner. A HERO FOR THE WORLD is an epic melodic metal band consisting of Jacob Kaasgaard (Vocals, Keyboards, Composer) and David Sivelind (Guitar and Bass), both originally from Sweden, but nowadays living in the Philippines. The drums are played by virtuoso drummer Andy Gentile from Los Angeles, USA, with female vocals from Louiebeth Aratan who hails from the Phillipines. And this indeed marks their third (!) release this year, after releasing their self-titled debut album in April 2013 and the extended EP 'On Fire' in October 2013. This ambitious Rock Opera in Two Acts, combines original songs with re-written lyrics and new arrangements of some Holiday favorites such as 'O Come All Ye Faithful', 'O Holy Night', 'We Three Kings Of Orient Are' and many more. It tells a story of a Princess; Lost on a journey, in a faraway land, trapped in snow on a treacherous mountain. Only the Angels can see Her now, singing songs of Peace & Love, Hope & Glory, not far from what we know as Tibet. And the Man who would be King; When Winter Is Coming, He's struggling with a decision, Should He leave the Kingdom behind, Follow His Heart, travel to the Mountain to save the Princess? Should He stay and protect His people against the looming Darkness? Or... Can He achieve Both? Can He bring Glory to everyone? Can He truly become; A Hero For The World? Certainly an interesting concept we have here, and if you would like to get into the Christmas Spirit in a Rock & Metal kind of way, then check this rather good and at times beautiful release out. Dec 3rd is the release date, the website can be found here - 8.5/10 (Rachel)

BENEDICTUM...'OBEY'

(Frontiers) Reviewed 25th November 2013

Following in the footsteps of such legendary bands as Warrior, Rough Cutt and Psychotic Waltz, BENEDICTUM, with roots in San Diego, California, are truly mighty ambassadors in the world of Heavy Metal. Invoking power reminiscent of early Rainbow, the definitive sound of Savatage, and a nod to all the Gods of Heavy Metal, BENEDICTUM unleashes a stylish, epic brand of Metal on all fronts. Aggressive riffs, fierce rhythms, strong melodies, shredding leads and delicate textures converge at the crossroads where tradition and 21st century innovation merge. Veronica Freeman's vocal gymnastics are the pit-bull on the pant leg of heavy metal and on this performance, will no doubt remain so for years to come. Having now signed with Frontiers Records, the band throw at us 12 tracks of in yer face heavy metal coupled with epic melodies and awesome musicianship that will shred your ear drums and leave you begging for more! And there is the ballad, the massive sounding 'Cry' feat Tony Martin! What more can I say? Obey what we say here at Ravenheart and buy - this deserves your utmost attention, a screaming 8.5/10 (Aimee)

ARITY...'PHYSICS FALL APART'

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th November 2013

Running in at around the half hour mark, what we have here from this LA band is 6 tracks of rather good technical Progressive Metal, similar to the music I recently reviewed from Florida based Sacrifice To Survive. Fronted by Nicole Macias, who also takes on rhythm guitar duties, the album kicks of with the 7+ minute track 'I Want To Know Your Mind', which typifies the path this band is treading. Not the kind of music that hits you straight away, but with repeated listens, reveals a mountain of musical treasures - one band that may spring to mind while listening to this track being Dream Theater. 'Nights Alone' does not stray too far away from the sound of the opener, although having said that, it does sound a touch heavier, but continuing to show the musical all round prowess of this band. The band sure do lay their cards on the table with the remaining songs, all Progressive Metal masterpieces, with the heavy sounding title track possibly edging it as my fave - awesome clean and harsh vocals. However, closer 'Twisted' which by the way is the shortest number on the record at just under 3 minutes, is to my ears the most commercial sounding track on the album. Arity's website is here. Worth checking out most certainly for fans of the genre.. 8.25/10 (Dave)

BRONZE HONEY...'FREE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 8th November 2013

Bronze Honey is a rather good Israeli (Tel-Aviv) alternative rock band, playing a blend of Rock, Metal, Industrial & electro, all this being fronted by the Pop/Rock vocal style of Polly Gutman, and she has the ability to incomparably combine dark gothic mystery and precise rock/pop, which is essentially the visiting card of the band. And like just about everything I am reviewing at the moment, this is good! 'Free' offers up 13 tracks of mainly up tempo Rock and Metal spiced up with the aforementioned Industrial & Electro influences, which to be frank puts this album right up my alleyway. The record is ooozing throughout with awesome tracks, including the powerful opening duo of 'Lies' and 'Convicted', the slower and commercial 'Promise', the heavy and bouncy 'Bee', the massive sounding power ballad 'As Free As The Wind' and the Pop/Rock sounding 'So What'. This is a powerful, grandoise and melodic release from this Israeli band and to my ears is well worth checking out, so check them out at www.soundcloud.com/bronze-honey. Also, one can download the album for free via the band's Facebook page, "FREE" for FREE here. To me it is great to hear music from countries that you do not immediately associate with this style of music, and long may it continue.. 9/10 (Dave)

ANGELICA...'THRIVE'

(Frontiers) Reviewed 8th November 2013

An exciting new AOR music star is born: Swedish singer Angelica Rylin (The Murder of My Sweet) has decided to pursue her childhood dream and has recorded an all Melodic Rock album! Her Murder of My Sweet bandmate and partner in crime, Daniel Flores assisted her on the production. "I always wanted to record an album like this" says Angelica, "my childhood heroes were Robin Beck, Ann Wilson of Heart and Leigh Matty of Romeo's Daughter". And I have to say that this album will appeal to all who love those above mentioned bands and indeed Melodic Rock and AOR in general - this record is totally awesome! All 12 tracks rock, are so melodic being musical gems in their own right. I have to say that music like this sends me back to my youth and there are some good memories back then too. Some Melodic Rock songwriting luminaries worked hard to create the music here, Harry Hess, the aforementioned Daniel Flores, Robert Sall, Alessandro Del Vecchio and Anders Wigelius all contributed. Then there are some excellent guitarists such as Jesper Stromblad (In Flames), Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear), Per Berquist (Smash Into Pieces) also appearing on the album. There is also a very special performance by keyboardist Matt Guillory (James LaBrie). It is also special to note that not only is Angelica a superb muscician, she wrote or co-wrote several songs on this record showing another side of her artistic abilities. Well recommended and I like this very much!! - released end of November/beginning December.. 9.5/10 (Dave)

ANOTHER DESTINY PROJECT...'METADO PARANOICO-CRITICO'

(Self Release - FREE digital download) Reviewed 30th October 2013

Another Destiny Project is basically the musical brainwave of Peter Pahor, and it is a new experimental music project of creating, listening, sharing and distribution of music. It effectively is an isle of musical creativity free from copyrights and greed. There are ten awesome tracks here that cover a wide range of sub genres within the main genre of Metal which include Electronic, Cinematic, Industrial, Gothic, Prog, Acoustic and Ambient amongst possible others. The tracks of interest here to lovers of female fronted rock & metal music would be 'Frozen In Time' featuring Susana C. Marquez, 'So Close To Heaven' feat Ana Axe and 'Others' - Spanish version featuring the vocals again of Susana C. Marquez. This music is completely FREE and by and large it rocks hard, so check it out HERE and tell your mates...8.5/10 (Dave)

ASHES TO ASHES...'BORDERLINE'

(Underground Symphony) Reviewed 16th October 2013

Italian band Ashes To Ashes started in 2010 and chose the name from the song by David Bowie. They are fronted by Marta "Polverina" Vassallo who not only sings like an angel, she can growl like a demented honey monster as well - great stuff! The band here churn out 11 tracks of catchy melodic music which at times reminds me of Paramore/Flyleaf on the tracks, 'Ballad Of The Wolf', 'Paradox of Perfection' and 'Empty Bottles and Tears', to name just three, and in their heavier moments, the vocals of Marta are more akin to those of Angel Gossow of Arch Enemy fame. I must say I have taken a liking to the track 'Change' with it's ripples of synths within the number and the track 'Vain' that is a slower number that explodes into a monster melodic song - hit single material surely!. The closer 'Home' is rather nice too - an acoustic led ballad. Drawing comparisons from bands like Evanescence, Avenged Sevenfold, Paramore, Arch Enemy, In This Moment and Flyleaf amongst many others, this is a rather good effort from this band and I highly recommended the record to the punters who like the aforementioned bands. Their Facebook is here.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

BRING ME ETERNITY...'DRAW THE ECHO'

(Self Released) Reviewed 15th October 2013

Grenoble is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps. It is also home to the band BRING ME ETERNITY. 'Draw The Echo' is their very recently released debut EP, which mixes epic melodies with heavy rhythmics, with a healthy dose of metalcore to boot. The five tracks here showcase the totally awesome and angelic vocals of Lyriel Bena coupled with the occasional guttural vocals of Florian Gatta, these mainly in the opening track. Indeed, opener 'Road of Dreams' will hit you backwards as it roars out of the speakers, while 'Deception' featuring solely the vocals of Lyriel is a great thundering melodic number. Third up 'Vanity' is another heavy track, but to be perfectly honest, this band certainly knows the meaning of the word "melody". This album has stack of it - great stuff! 'Silent Memory' as the title may suggest is an epic string/piano led ballad with choir, while closer 'Pride Of A World' is a damn fine way to end a damn fine album. There is a tremendous amount of unsigned talent around at the moment, and this is another band that deserves one's attention. Check out their Bandcamp and hear for yourselves. A full length album of this quality would be a joy to hear.... 8.75/10 (Dave)

BEYOND VISIONS...'YOUR FACE IS FAMILIAR'

(Sliptrick Records) Reviewed 8th October 2013

Beyond Visions is a three piece metal band from Stockholm, Sweden formed in 2007 and fronted by Rebecka Heijel. The band’s first contact was when guitar player/songwriter Sauli Ranta and singer Rebecka met at 7 eleven where she worked in 2005. Sauli used to buy cigarettes (it's bad for ya :) ) from Rebecka, they started talking and found out they shared an interest in music. In a nutshell Beyond Visions was then born. 'Your Face Is Familiar' is the band's debut release and throws at the listener 12 tracks of Melodic Alternative Hard Rock and Metal done in the typical Stockholm tradition, kinda similar in a way to One Without amongst others. To be perfectly honest, I love this style of music - the fact that it engages the listener with a certain heaviness, but at the same time provides a strong melodic element. This is aptly proven when listening to numbers like 'Feeding The Crow', 'Septic Heart' and 'Compulsive Liar'. The band can also slow it down to with the balladry of catchy numbers like 'Leaves Are Falling', a song that screams hit single! I like this release very much and it is well worth checking out - their Facebook is here ...8.5/10 (Aimee)

AS ANGELS BLEED...S/T

(Self Released) Reviewed 6th Sepember 2013

I am being sent some really good music just recently, but occasionally, a cd will come along and take my breath away. And this epic release from Aussie band As Angels Bleed has done just that. Recorded at Hells Gate Studios Sydney & Mixed by Mark Lewis and Eyal Levi at Audio Hammer Studios USA, this 9 track Gothic masterpiece, besides displaying thundering drums and searing guitars, also enlists the help of the Hells Gate symphonic Orchestra and the unholy voices of the Choir of the Dammed, not to mention the ethereal vocal of vampire artist Avelina De Moray. Regards the music on offer, let us take a mix of Within Temptation and Evanescence, ramp it up somewhat and then add a healthy dose of Mandragora Scream...okay, got the picture. This album should strictly speaking cause massive great tidal waves globally as it is simply breathtaking! I am not even sure where to start, but from track one through to track 9, the music is absolutely stunning! The band's website can be found at www.asangelsbleed.com/, and I want to close by saying that this is bombastic prime time Vampire infused Gothic Metal with huge doses of melody. I am loathe to score less than a ten..so it is a 10/10 (Dave)

ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN...'DRIVE'

(InsideOut Music) Reviewed 2nd Sepetember 2013

Having proven her credentials and immense vocal talent for 13 years as front woman of The Gathering, in 2007 Anneke felt it was time to begin her own solo career. Along with her new band Agua de Annique the charismatic singer quickly established herself as a solo artist, releasing several albums to critical and popular acclaim. On this, her new album, Anneke offers up ten cool tracks and all are well worthy of a listen. 'We Live On' and 'Treat Me Like A Lady' kicks things off like a real treat - great rockin tunes with a real sense of melody and sure heading to be live faves, and that is just the first two numbers. Third track in 'She', maintains the awesome momentum of the opening two tracks, taking a slighly more poppier stance, as does the title track. 'My Mother Said' is a rather nice ballad, while 'Forgive Me' picks up the tempo again. 'You Will Never Change' is a bouncy rocker with a rather catchy chorus, like many of the others on this record actually. 'Mental Jungle' has a Middle Eastern feel at the start and is a duet with Anneke's dear friend, Turkish superstar Hayko Cepkin! And next up 'Shooting For The Stars' is a melodic monster of a tune with Closer 'The Best Is Yet To Come' being another classic tune. I am wondering whether the best is yet to come from this lass, as this album is really good. Indeed, the new album shows Anneke to be on top form and more multifaceted than ever, with songs ranging from her signature intimate ballads to euphoric stadium rock anthems – and as always, her ethereally beautiful voice is the jewel of the package. This is well recommended to the punters out there when it gets released September 23rd, so start saving those pennies rather quickly! 9/10 (Dave)

ASRAI...'BETWEEN DREAMS AND DESTINY' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 28th August 2013

Asrai have released three full length albums in the past, and now they present us with this EP featuring some rather cool and catchy Gothic Metal tunes. Hailing from Holland, one would expect this release to be good, and yep, that sure is the case. Fronted by Margriet Mol with jolly good tub thumper and sister Karin on drums, this band sure do belt out the six numbers that make up this EP. To be perfectly honest, 'Between Dreams And Destiny' is right up my alleyway, and all the numbers are up tempo melodic Gothic belters. And closing track 'Stone Cold' which is a Grendel remix of the opener, will have you on the dance floor in no time at all. Check their website out here, this is rather good!...8.75/10 (Dave)

ROBIN BECK...'UNDERNEATH'

(Cargo Records) Reviewed 23rd August 2013

Robin Beck is amazing. Not only does she continue to release awesome music, she is doing it at the ripe old age of 58, indeed she will be 59 years young in November, looking about 15 years younger I hasten to add!. She is also married to one of the Kings of Melodic Hard Rock, James Christian who is not only one of the awesome musicians on this hard rockin album, he also mixed and produced the package. Now then, I will not hide my love of Melodic Hard Rock, I grew up through the 60's and 70's, so I have a highly Melodic side to my musical tastes. All I will say is that this album is awesome - 11 tracks of hard rockin' delight to tickle those musical taste buds. Just listen to the openers, 'Wrecking Ball' and the amazingly catchy 'Ain't That Just Like Love' and that will confirm exactly what I am on about - astounding! And it continues with further hot rockers like 'Sprain', 'Perfect Storm' and 'Ya Can't Fight Love' , the ballads 'Underneath', 'Burnin' Me Down' and 'I Swear The Nights', coupled with the more poppy 'Catfight' and 'Check Your Attitude'. If you have a love of all things hard rocking and melodic, may I suggest you pick this album up. Corking stuff from this lass!!... 8.75/10 (Dave)

BEL O KAN...'THOUSANDS OF CONQUERORS'

(Brennus) Reviewed 21st August 2013

I reviewed the début by this French combo a few years ago, 2009's 'Birth of a Queen', it was a terrific album of folk tinged symphonic metal, slightly let down by weak vocals. Now they have a new singer, Carole Eyraud, and have subtlety changed their style, more power and less folk, in the grand tradition of French speedy symphonic bands like Kerion, Fairyland and Wildpath, but with more than a hint of Whyzdom. Carole has a light semi-operatic voice, in the same vein as Kerion's singer Flora Spinelli who appears as a guest on 'Requiem', she hasn't got the strongest of voices, but she is a marked improvement, and she is wonderfully support by their own Conquers Choir. By the way, their curious name comes from the kingdom of the ants in Bernard Werber's trilogy 'Les Fourmis' (the Ants). The template is set by the stomping opener 'A Gothic Girl', with the sound and orchestrations by the band suitably massive, as they then stampede their way through the first four stonking songs until the building ballad Gorlebella, based on the work of the 'Bard of Brittany' Anatole le Braz, allows us to rest our sword arms. 'Independence' launches the charge again through the next quartet, including the mighty 'Power of the Throne', and the terrific catchy 'The Price to Pay', and its rounded off by the dramatic eastern flavoured 'Battlefield' . The sound and orchestrations by the band are suitably massive. Bel O Kan have produced a rousing full throttle monster anthology of anthems all beautifully wrapped in a digipak that is sure to to please aficionados of symphonic power metal. Follow the trail of ants to here, an all conquering 8.75/10 (Phil)

BAD POLLYANNA...'MONSTROUS CHILD'

(Factory Music Agency) Reviewed 6th August 2013

As their name suggests, Bad Pollyanna from the north of England enjoy combining beauty and darkness. Fronted by an eccentric and theatrical Rock Goddess who goes by the name of Olivia Hyde, the songs tell the story of an innocent young woman who falls victim to a crazed scientist's desperate attempts to reincarnate his lost love and, against her will, is transformed into a beautiful but deadly monster. As she looks at herself and her old life through new eyes, she can see how she had been conditioned by the world around her to be fearful and subservient. With rage and lust coursing through her powerful new body but her memories intact, she faces a brutal battle between holding on to her humanity and her desire to avenge a lifetime of powerlessness. The story is told through 10 tracks that draw influences from Anime/ Manga and gothic science fiction as well as cutting edge alternative rock and electronica. Before I heard this, I was a little hesitant as to what to expect, but this to be frank is damn good and I am rather impressed, the songs also maintaining a huge sense of melody throughout. Bad Pollyanna have three years of live work under their belt, sharing stages with The Birthday Massacre, Fearless Vampire Killers, Die So Fluid, Pulled Apart By Horses and Cruxshadows, as well as an acclaimed headline slot at Whitby Goth Festival. The pedigree is most certainly there, a link to their video is here, so now consider buying the album, due August 28th - well recommended..9/10 (Dave)

ARVEN...'BLACK IS THE COLOUR'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 30th July 2013

Arven hail from Germany and is mainly a girl band. I say mainly, as there so happens to be one male member, and he so happens to be the drummer. So to be a drummer positioned presumably behind all those lovely ladies, must make him a rather happy person, one would assume :) Together since 2007, Arven’s professionally educated musicians bring various influences to the music of the band. But above all they share a strong passion for melodic metal. Carina Hanselmann’s nightingale-like vocals are the priority for the band on this their second release, giving Arven its unique and rather fitting sound. All in all the sound comes across as powerful and dynamic, filled with all kinds of dreamful and catchy melodies. Heavy guitar-riffs, accompanied by a double-bass thunderstorm, and groovy head banging-parts are masterly combined with both orchestral and medieval instruments. There are 12 tracks on this offering - Melodic Metal with catchy Folk elements and occasional choral bits best sums it all up, and rather good it is too. Furthermore, Stefan Schmidt (Van Canto) did some guest vocals on the song 'The One for Me', great stuff adding a little variation to the mix. This is a feast for all who dig ear-catching, thunderous symphonic metal songs with a touch of Gothic and folk. Release date 23rd August - nearly 60 minutes of harmonious bliss on this the digipak version, which closes with two rather awesome laid back bonus tracks, so get it! 8.75/10 (Dave)

ANIMAL HANDS...S/T EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 10th July 2013

Seems Australia has a Grunge Queen. Going by the name of Danielle Whalebone (I am sure I have heard of this lass before), she founded and fronts the rather cool band Animal Hands. They have offered to me their 4 track EP and I am glad they did. I must admit to not being a total fan of Grunge, although Alice In Chains and one or two others did hit the spot with me. Although this could be classed as Grunge, it to me has a commercial appeal that would catch the ear of many a music fan. Cool vocals, gritty guitars and somewhat catchy choruses, the music here gives you a very good idea as to what direction this band is moving in. And I would like to add that listening to this is a welcome change from the norm. Check out the music for yourself at their SoundCloud, as this is rather good! 8.5/10 (Dave)

BATTLE BEAST...'BATTLE BEAST'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 12th June 2013

Let's rock! Finland's Battle Beast is back with a new album and a new vocalist offering the listener 14 tracks (on my copy anyway inc bonus) of in yer face melodic keyboard laced metal with great choruses. And like the band, new gal Noora Louhimo kicks ass as she roars on opener 'Let It Roar'. The thumping 'Out Of Control' is the next number with a chorus so hideously catchy it belies belief :) 'Out On The streets' is equally as good with further awesome numbers including the bouncy 'Neuromancer', the all out metal assault of 'Raven', the power ballad 'Into The Heart Of Danger' and the rather good 'Black Ninja'. Overall, this is a good release from this band, a metal party album if ever there was one - great stuff so go and get it! 8.75/10 (Dave)

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