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DORIS BRENDEL...'UPSIDE DOWN WORLD'
(Sky Rocket Records) Reviewed 26th March 2015
Doris Brendel, one of the most unique female rock-singers of the last decade, is releasing this her 8th album on Sky-Rocket Recordings in April 2015. The daughter of famed classical pianist Alfred Brendel, her distinctive vocals were the driving force behind 1990s alt-rockers The Violet Hour, who were signed to Sony when they released their now revered, classic album ‘The Fire Sermon’ in 1991.With a little help from her partner in crime Lee Dunhem (Primary Slave), she is now enjoying a solo career to keep her fans happy. Onto the new album itself and opening with the raunchy, rockin' 'The Devil Closed The Door On Me', this opener reminded me initially of AC/DC, although other influences creep in upon repeated listens, the husky voice of Doris a joy to behold. Things slow down on the next track 'Adored', but what I do really like about this record is there is something for everybody here. The rockers will sure love the aforementioned opener, those who like utterly melodic rock tunes will go for the lovely titled 'Slap Me And You Die', while 'Accessorise' blends Pop & Rock with touches of electronica. There are other awesome numbers like the radio friendly 'Tumbling Away', the piano led proggy tune 'A Little Act Of Defiance' and the lovely ballad 'Still Running', which concerns itself with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and has a military theme. This album that is released in April is available on CD, and for the first time on a limited edition vinyl as well. CD and vinyl feature beautiful and atmospheric link tracks not available in download format, as well as showing off the stunning artwork, with the cover designed by surrealist Igor Morski. Doris Brendel's website is here
, recommended!... 9/10 (Dave)
(Self Release) Reviewed 20th March 2015
Black Label come from Holland, and unlike many other Dutch bands that take the Gothic or Symphonic route, Black Label adopt a rather more hard rockin' attitude. Their goal is to blow your mind with their energetic mix of old and new rock n roll and metal, coupled with a huge in yer face stage presence! I cannot speak for the stage presence having never seen them live, but having heard this EP, yep they do sure blow ya mind. Fronted by the powerhouse vocals of a young lass by the name of Marnix, the band offer the listener five tracks of Rock/Metal with attitude. No soppy ballads here, just all out but accessible Rock & Metal to play loud and annoy your loving neighbours. This is a consistent effort from this band for all you lovers of hard rock, rather cool! Check them out at www.reverbnation.com/blacklabel8
(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 16th Feb 2015
With Dave taking it easy due to health issues (just a small matter of a minor stroke), I have been reviewing occasional albums to assist him and the crew, and this Battlebeast cd is yet another great record for me to review. This is the third from these Finnish monsters and this is right up my passageway (steady on lads). I just love this band and with this album they have given us 12 tracks of powerful metal incorporating extremely catchy choruses, epic heavy metal anthems, heavenly vocals and solos to die for, and let us not forget the astonishing lead vocals of Noora to complete this tasty little package. The opening foursome of 'Lionheart', 'Unholy Saviour', 'I Want The World...and Everything In It' and 'Madness' set the benchmark for this album, unadulterated epic heavy metal, and so so catchy to boot as well! And when the band slow it down, they do that so well too, just listen to numbers like the power balladry of 'Sea Of Dreams' and the orchestrated 'Angel Cry', yay and triple yay, very good indeed. There are further powerful and catchy tracks like 'Speed and Danger', the ultra commercial and electro influenced 'Touch In The Night' (that screams hit single) and closer 'Push It To The Limit' (digipak bonus) to wrap your ears around, and overall, this is very good so here is a word of advice, if you have not already done so, become an Unholy Saviour and buy it.. 9/10 (The Nugget)
ARAPACIS...'A DISTURBING AWAKENING'
(Ravenheart Music/Code7) Reviewed 4th Feb 2015
Arapacis come from Canada and are stalwarts of the Rock and Metal scene. This release is distributed by Ravenheart Music/Code7 and I have the pleasure of reviewing this album for Dave and Ravenheart Music, of which it is my greatest pleasure to do. As I think I may have mentioned before, I might be the innocent looking 'girl next door' type and wear pink on occasion, but I do like my music heavy and with attitude. Arapacis offer up a retro 70's sound generally and drag it by the short and curlies into the 21st Century, offering nine rather good tracks in the process. Furthermore, within the gems on offer, the very good track and one of my faves 'Wanderlust' features Guy LeBlanc from Camel on keys, and the equally as good 'Tearing The Mist' has the awesome Don Airey tickling the ivories, and tickle them he sure does! Those two musicians alone would get my dad rather excited. Regardless of who the guest musicians are, this is a good recording and having listened to some other Arapacis stuff to familiarise myself with the band, this could be one of their best releases to date. The musicianship is awesome, some great guitar and keys, and let us not forget new vocalist Shelle Macpherson who does a grand job behind the mic stand. And I would like to add that the penultimate number 'Eyes of Malevolence' is an orgasmic instrumental. I would myself recommend this release no matter what label it is on, so if you like your music with a retro feel offering up a true organic sound, get it! Great stuff Jerry!! The band's Facebook is at www.facebook.com/AraPacis
.. 9/10 (The Nugget)
ASYLUM ESCAPE...'EVEN IF I'M BROKEN'
(Crysella Records) Reviewed 22nd January 2015
Crysella Records seem to be picking up on bands from The Philippines and this is the second such release that has beeen reviewed on these very pages, HIGH IN MIST being reviewed earlier in the month. Okay, this latest offering that has come our way via Crysella from the band Asylum Escape fronted by Deda Von Miseria, to be honest ain't bad, although the band has a way to go before it reaches the quality of its European counterparts. This is a six track EP of Gothic Rock/Metal, and the band has to be admired for giving it a go, in a country that does not really have a reputation for producing fine Gothic Bands. The tracks here are of average quality, but I have a feeling this band kick ass live. The quality on this release is consistent, but nothing really reaches out and grabs you. However, having said that, they do a rather reasonable cover of the song 'Something' by The Beatles. A brave attempt and a good one too. Check the band out here
, an interesting album... 7.75/10 (The Nugget)
ARSENIC UNBIRTHDAY...'RAVENS AND WRITING DESKS' EP
(Epictronic) Reviewed 8th January 2015
The interestingly monikered Arsenic Unbirthday come from Cagliari in Italy, and this is a rather good six track EP that has come our way. Formed some years ago by guitarist Nick Farlight and vocalist Mary Red Mallow, this is their first official worldwide release and quite a stonker it is too. Their sound is quite original, I suppose vocally reminding me a little of Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gathering). I would imagine that we could call this poisonous alternative rock. Despite the poison :), everything is rather good here, listen to the track 'Another Sin To Hide' as a powerful example - slow verse, powerful chorus, great vocals! Plenty of other goodies here so check out the cool opening track from the EP, 'My Enemy' here: www.soundcloud.com/arsenicunbirthday/my-enemy
, recommended when it gets released end of March... 8.75/10 (Dave)
The BLACK LANTERN...'WE KNOW THE FUTURE'
(Self Released) Reviewed 4th December 2014
The Black Lantern hail from Long Beach in California, and they offer the listener a good dose of Alternative Rock with some good smutterings of Punk chucked into the mix for good measure. Fronted by Wendy Faraone and ably backed up by founding members Jesse Nason (Drums) and Andy Prickett (Guitar), with the addition of Russell Crain on bass, this band delivers the goods. Indeed, the band's goal was and is to make music that is not too melodic or predictable; The Black Lantern aims instead for anti-epic rock in arrangement, and punk rock more as a philosophy than as a genre. Tell you what though, whatever their goal is, this is damn good. Great guitar work from Andy throughout the eleven tracks (a kinda Boston feel with some of the effects), Wendy delivers vocally, and the remaining members kick ass. Indeed, there are no overdubs and no extra tracks. Since bassist Russell is actually a guitarist, his pedal effects are used in heavy doses to create the beyond-bass sound. Also, Andy is always playing just one guitar through two completely different setups, which creates a stereo image that resembles the schizophrenic pursuits of more than one personality. After that brief techincal rapport, there are fave tracks a plenty here, but check out the numbers 'Bleed It Out' and 'Anthropomancy' as these are current faves of mine. I must say that overall, this is rather good and well worth checking out. The Black Lantern's website is at www.theblackestoflanterns.com
.. 8.75/10 (Dave)
The BIRTHDAY MASSACRE...'SUPERSTITION'
(Metropolis) Reviewed 1st Dec 2014
The Birthday Massacre fronted by Chibi never fails to deliver, being more reliable than the UK's Royal Mail postal delivery service. What we have are 10 tracks of classic Electro Goth Rock, all killer and no fillers here. Starting proceedings with 'Divide' the band have set the benchmark for this album - frikin' magic! A totally consistent release following the band's tried and tested formula mixing synths and heavy guitar. I am not going to highlight anything here as everything is top quality, although I do currently rather like the tracks 'Surrender' and 'The Other Side'. What I do like with the band is their ability to merge one track into another, a common trait with most if not all of their albums. A absolute must buy with a rock solid production although on the downside and this is nothing to do with the band - Amazon UK have now hiked the price to over 18 GB pounds - WTF!.. 9.5/10 (Natalie Gold)
ANABIOZ...'THERE THE SUN FALLS'
(SoundAge Productions) Reviewed 28th November 2014
Anabioz is a beauty and the beast Folk/Metal band from Russia... Olga "Helga" providing us with female vocal plus violin, and Anton "JaZzZ" gives us the harsh vocals, he is also one of two guitarists. They are ably backed up by Damir "Mystic" - guitar, Alexey "Alexis" - bass and Alexander "Posox" - drums. This kinda Folk Metal seems to be gaining popularity at the moment, and I can say that this style of music is very popular on the Ravenheart radio show. The band was formed in 2006 and this release is their third effort and rather good it is too. They could be put into the same room as bands like GRAI who hail from eastern Russia. What the listener can expect to hear blasting out of their speakers is 10 tracks of epic bombastic Folk Metal, and I can honestly say that Olga is a good a violinist as she is vocalist - impressive stuff. The album pounds along at a strking rate with tracks like 'PUT' VO T'ME', 'DANCE DANCE' and the folky 'THE MAID THAT SOLD HER BARLEY' all leaving you breathless and wanting more! Furthermore, let's not forget the delightful ballad 'UNDER THE ALIEN SKY' and the closing catchy bonus track 'SILVER BRIDE' - both very good! Anabioz meanwhile, can be checked out here
- worth a visit and consequently the album is worth buying! .. 8.75/10 (Natalie Gold)
(Whispering Voice Records) Reviewed 29th Sept 2014
'Terminal', the latest 12 track 70 minute epic record from Norwegian band Ancestral Legacy has just hit the shops, and in true Gothic/Doom tradition, this album is a monster. With angelic female vocals from Isadora Cortina and harsh male vox from guitarist Eddie Risdal, we have an album that will tear your ear drums apart with some stormingly heavy tracks, but you will always find some quieter softer moments in store, as is now common with this style of music. 'Bone Code' is an awesome way to start the album, with second track in 'Lethe Part 1' offering no let up to the barnstorming start to the cd. Very good indeed. 'There is No Birth and Death' follows - a laid back opening start to this track with the angelic vocals of Isadora shining through. The ante is upped as the number moves along but it is a pleasant melodic number. 'My Wretched Lord' hits the gas pedal again featuring additionally Anette Ødegaard and Sune Berthelsen on vocals. They also feature on 'Dawn of Time', 'Lethe part 3' and the closing track. The near 8 minute 'Lethe part 2' is a blockbuster as is 'Dawn Of Time'. We have had 'Lethe' parts 1 and 2 and the aforementioned 'Lethe Part 3' completes the trilogy of tracks. The remainder of the album is a tsunami of heaviness closing with the near 9 minute epic title track, that is preceded by 'Shedding You', a nice little one and a half minute piano led number - lovely . Special note here should be made regards vocalist Isadora Cortina who is originally from Mexico, but moved to Norway in 2009. She is classically trained, but as is clearly evident by her performance on this album, deep down inside she has a strong "metal heart!” You can find the band's website at this location: www.ancestrallegacy.com
9/10 (Natalie Gold)
ANGEL'S REVENGE...'BLOOD, SWEAT & FEARS'
(Self Release) Reviewed 29th September 2014
Here we have a young US Metal Band fronted by the beautiful angel on vocals and founding member, Holly Hines. This their first album which was a year in the making, and has been produced by Hydrogyn lead guitarist Jeff Westlake. The album includes belters such as the opener 'Angel's Revenge' that hammers its way into your head and second up, the title track with cool guitar solo - what a song!! The album includes further catchy Metal songs like the addictive 'Crazy' and the equally addictive Pop/Metal of 'Sweet Addiction'. Then we have the power ballad 'As Time Goes On' showcasing well the awesome vocals of Holly. Overall, this is a very good album from this American with a strong metal appeal, whilst also maintaining a strong sense of melody. Great musicianship throughout I hasten to add from all concerned - the band's website is here
... 8.75/10 (Aimee)
ALUNAH...'AWAKENING THE FOREST'
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 23rd September 2014
For the third time, ALUNAH spread wide their mighty Doom wings: Following up their exceptional previous albums CALL OF AVERNUS (2010) and WHITE HOARHOUND (2012), the International Doom community will be tied up again by this latest offering on the mighty Napalm label. The English quartet featuring singer Sophie Day, forges forward with hard guitars, pumping heavy grooves and a sound to make fans of this genre get shall we say, rather excited. Featuring six tracks that run in at well over 40 minutes, the album kicks off how it means to go on. The opener is stoner heaven - the 8 minute plus 'Bricket Wood Coven', kinda takes me back to the early Sabbath era (but with a female vocalist this time), certainly a retrospective feel to the music here. And that is the way it carries on - next up 'Heavy Bough' maintains that similar sound, a slightly more up tempo number than the opener, but still with that 70s Sabbath feel. The doom laden title track runs in at over 7 minutes while 4th track in 'The Mask Of Herne', maintains that mid tempo sludgy texture. 'Scourge and the Kiss' and the rather nice 'The Summerland' total close on 18 minutes between them and end this trippy, stoner doom album. I am the first to admit that this cd would not normally be my cuppa tea, but it is a great piece of Doom Metal, and so it should be, didn't we invent it? The album gets released in October, so check it out.... 8/10 (Dave)
BETWEEN FALLS...'INTIMATE GATEWAY'
(Self Release) Reviewed 10th September 2014
Between Falls is an American sounding Alternative Rock band from Tel Aviv. Their short history started when Victor Zi, songwriter and guitarist, gathered with his three friends, Grace M (Mogzamov) (female vocals), Simon Shocket (male vocals) and Idan Shinberg (Bass), and together they decided to listen to their muse and set on a new musical journey, naming the project Between Falls. Eyal Bar-On (drums) and Yoel Genin (lead guitars) joined later on. Utilising both male and female vocals, the band mold together post Grunge and Nu-Metal, and when Simon takes the Mic stand, he sounds occasionally like Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam fame) and Alex Band of The Calling. Grace meanwhile has her own vocal style, but does sound a little like Amy Lee on tracks like 'Remembering You'. The acoustic led ballad 'Paper and Pen' with Grace at the Mic is rather nice too. This record to be totally honest is rather good, very well produced and should go down a storm in the States. Their Facebook can be found here
... 8.5/10 (Dave)
(Fuel Records) Reviewed 4th September 2014
The meaning of music, of the tireless research and of the band’s continuous evolution is summarized in the name AEVUM. Their music is in perpetual inclination towards the union between the human being and the divine, between opposites, male and female, positive and negative, in a genre that is a bond between the Neo-Classical and Gothic metal worlds. The singer Evelyn Moon and the pianist Richard met sometime between the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008, and as a result the project started taking shape. Throughout the years the formation varied, with the interchange of new singers, electric guitarists and drummers, but for the last two years line-up has been complete and composed of seven young musicians. These musicians also include, Hydra who does main male voice, opera voice, scream and growl, and the LORD OF DESTRUCTION who is the rhythmic/solo guitarist. Anyway, some of the band members may possess interesting names, but what about the music? Well it is possibly a hybrid of Symphonic-Gothic-Neoclassic-Theatrical Metal with some Death Metal influences. To be perfectly frank, this is rather well done. The opener is a brief intro which then takes us into the 9 minute plus 'Blade's Kiss' that has everything including the kitchen sink. Heavy guitars, clean female vocals, male vocals, male growls, strong synths and indeed, plenty of melody too for those that like some melody thrown into the melting pot. Rather good! 'Intermezzo' is a brief piece before the album throws at us the 13 minute epic 'The Battle'. This is another rather complex and compelling piece of music with a lovely string and piano intro, before the whole shebang kicks into gear and this is so well done, with all the elements of the above mentioned genres thrown into the mix. 'Il Lamento della Ninfa' follows which is a rather nice melodic number featuring the operatic vocals of Evelyn and the clean vocals of Hydra. 'Impressioni' is another brief piano instrumental leading us into the bombastic 'Lost Soul' together with bagpipes intro - this album has it all :) Then we have the melodic and accessible 9 minute 'To Be Or...To Be' with it's bluesy mid section, Evelyn reminding me on the more operatic parts vocally of Tarja. This then leads us into the brief 48 second 'Aevum' taking us to the closing duo of 'Monsters' complete with accordion and the lullaby 'Adieu à la scène', that brings the curtain down on the show. This is an interesting, complex and elaborate release, but very good and certainly enjoyable nonetheless, with the listener not quite sure what to expect next! The band's Facebook is here
and the album gets released October 21st 2014 - I rather like it, well recommended ... 9/10 (Dave)
BEYOND GOD...'DARK LIGHT OF DAWN' EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 1st September 2014
Beyond God fronted by Cynthia Knoch, is a female fronted Symphonic Metal band from yep, you've guessed it.... The Netherlands. And this EP offers up 4 tracks of rather decent Symphonic Metal. Okay, it can be said that this style of music is being done over and over again by many bands, and to an extent that is true, but if it is good, I basically do not give a toss! And this is rather good! The opener 'Destination Darkness' has a near cinematic intro before the song proper kicks in, and is a mid paced Symphonic Rocker to sink your teeth into. Next up 'Memories' has a choral intro reminding me of something from The Vatican, and is another rather cool slow to mid paced song with an acoustic undercurrent - great vocals from Cynthia! Third up, the up tempo 'Passion' offers up passionate and at times operatic vocals, while closer 'Nocturne' is a nice piano led ballad to end proceedings. If you like Within Temptation, Delain, Nightwish and the like, this I will imagine will be right up your alleyway. Check out the band's Facebook here
... 8.5/10 (Aimee)
A DAY IN VENICE…’A DAY IN VENICE’
(Self Release) Reviewed 19th August 2014
A Day in Venice is a Doom Metal project from Italy created by the poet, painter and composer Andrej Kralj, who virtually plays all the instruments as well as vocals. We also get vocal contributions from Martina and Goran. The band’s major influences are My Dying Bride and Anathema, possibly appealing to fans of Draconian (amongst others) as well. The album deals with the theme of cardinal sins and kicks off with ‘Into A Luxurious Masquerade’ and ‘A Dripping Gutter’, the opening duo are mainly although not entirely instrumental. Third track in ‘Crowns’ ups the tempo and with the introduction of male vocals, the number itself is a reasonable effort. ‘Tower Of Gold’ featuring Martina on vocals, is a mid tempo number and is another good track from the cd. The title track is a cute well executed string instrumental while ‘Your Bread, My Flesh’ goes into full Doom Metal mode – my cuppa tea and I love it! ‘The Coming’ is a haunting tune with Martina at the helm again, while ‘You Take It’ and ‘A Day In The Woods’ are short ones. ‘As The Ship Docks’ is a 9 minute + song of epic Doom Metal proportions with rather interesting opera style male vocals. Closing with ’Kaplijce’, my only gripe regards the album is that to me, some of the songs could be just a little longer, they finish too quickly. But that aside, this is rather good. The special edition of the CD created with pantone colors (bronze) was conceived and designed by two artists from Trieste: Aleš Brce and Luca Silvestro - and the physical medium of the audio will be available by September 2014. The band can be found here
, and for those into this style of music, this is worth checking out… 8/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)
(ValentineMusic) Reviewed 13th August 2014
Dutch band ANIDAY is storming the music scene like a deranged tornado. Featuring the lovely and talented Maria Catharina on lead vocals, Paul Coenradie brings his absolutely astonishing guitar riffs to the mix, holding down the rhythm section are Alex Mol (bass guitar) and Danny Simons (drums) and wrapping it all up into a nice package, is none other than writer, producer and multi-instrumental marvel, Robby Valentine. Anybody who knows the music of Robby Valentine, will know that he is an icon in his own right! This is Aniday's debut and contains twelve tantalizing tracks. We have tracks that feature the modern upbeat sounds of 'Buscando la Vida' to the intense rock balladry of 'When Loving You Is Wrong', leaving listeners in awe of the solid compositions and impressive vocals of Maria Catharina, who herself compares to the likes of Bonnie Tyler, Stevie Nicks, and Pat Benatar, but with a fresh and modern twist. AOR influences shine through on this record too, the opener 'Can't Take No More' and second up 'Hole In My Heart' are solid proof of this - the latter showing Mr Valentine's influences! We must also mention the hard rocking 'Born Yesterday' and the Robby Valentine influenced and hideously catchy 'Don't Fool With Me' - massive! There is very little to fault here to be honest and although the Netherlands is a small country, it is home to many great bands. There are plenty of reasons for this new band to join their peers: Within Temptation, Epica, Stream of Passion, Floor Jansen as examples. All I can say to the band is go for it, this is magical stuff and well worth every penny of one's money - their Facebook is here
... 9/10 (Dave)
ARCH ENEMY...'WAR ETERNAL'
(Century Media) Reviewed 7th August 2014
Melodic Death Metal seems like a contradiction, but when you get a band like Arch Enemy, they sure know how to combine the aggressive with the melodic. And with new front lady Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist) safely installed together with her rather awesome growls, Arch Enemy continue their rise up the Metal Music ladder with their latest release 'War Eternal'. This is prime time Melodic Death Metal, with the songs as catchy as ever, while maintaining the assault of an unstoppable steam train. 'Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F Minor)' kicks things off, a brief instrumental almost leading the listener into thinking that this could be a Nightwish album. That is until 'Never Forgive, Never Forget' kicks in with the ferocity of an assassin's bullet - an impressive way to start the album. The title track is melodic and catchy, but as equally as ferocious, and we must praise guitarists Nick Cordle (Arsis) who has just recently joined the band and fellow axeman Michael Amott, for their blistering assault on the senses throughout this record. There are further numbers that will leave you breathless, and these include the pounding 'As The Pages Burn' and 'No More Regrets', coupled with the catchy but heavy 'You Will Know My Name'. Other standouts that will leave you wanting more include the interesting 'Time Is Black' and 'Avalanche', both with their subtle orchestral elements. Having already mentioned the guitarists, we also have impressive perfomances from drummer Daniel Erlandsson and bassist Sharlee D'Angelo, and with Alissa proving her worth on this her debut with the band, this record is good! 8.5/10 (Dave)
(Self Release) Reviewed 22nd July 2014
Aonia hail from Worksop in Nottinghamshire here in England and give the listener a feast of Melodic Metal, with a Symphonic undercurrent to satisfy the Female Fronted taste buds. And what is more, this seven piece offers us two female vocalists - Melissa Adams and Joanne Robinson. What we have here in-fact is rather good I must say - 5 tracks of the aforementioned Melodic Metal and I do like the twin vocal assault from the ladies in the band. Nothing much here to fault really, with the opening salvo of the title track and 'Echoes' setting the scene rather nicely thank you. 'Warrior's Path' and the catchy 'Reflections' are pounding numbers (great guitar solo in the latter too) while closer 'Nightmare' starts a little more serene before it kicks into gear in a bombastic Power Metal fashion. Their website (www.aonia.co.uk
) states that “Aonia” is the place near Helicon mountain where the muses dwell. While this image sounds serene, the band’s sound is the polar opposite. Driving, almost thrashy riffs juxtapose against melodic, almost operatic vocals from ‘a soprano with balls’ for a sound that is a blending of the very old and the very new, tempered steel in a velvet glove. I agree so why not support yet more rather cool independent music and check them out... 8.5/10 (Dave)
ANN MY GUARD...'INNOCENCE DESCENT'
(Smash Fabric Records) Reviewed 14th July 2014
I am continually astonished by the amount of quality music that comes my way. Another act that has dropped into Ravenheart Music is a Hungarian band by the name of Ann My Guard. Fronted by the innocent dolcet tones of Eszter Anna Baumann-Tóth, what we have here is a rather good selection of tunes - 13 lush, melodic and haunting songs showcasing Eszter’s stunning vocal performance brilliantly. From the super-catchy, pogoing Pop/Rock 'Crush Honey' to the much darker and heavier 'Fallen', every song reeks of the quality you’d expect from an album that took 6 years to write. And there are many other numbers on this record to sink your teeth into, including the heavy, pounding and melodic 'Ivory Ballad', the rather cool 'My Lullaby', the Metallic Punk Rock of 'HKA BITCH', the catchy 'Gone' and the epic 7+ minute closer 'Circles'. I am not quite sure if there is actually anything much wrong with what is on offer on this record. 'Innocence Descent' is rather good stuff and with production by the most renowned producer in their native Hungary, Gábor Vári, I would suggest checking this album out. For more info on Ann My Guard, pop along to their Facebook here
... 8.75/10 (Dave)
(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd July 2014
Here is a US band that is uniquely American but with a strong European sound. This cd is basically a collection of previously released songs. Indeed this serves as a very good introduction to the band, especially with the promise of a new album sometime during 2014. We have standout tracks galore, although I will admit to taking a liking to their two most recent numbers - 'Into The Flood' (Oct 2013) and 'I See Fire (Jan 2014), the latter being a Cover of Ed Sheeran's track from The Hobbit soundtrack. I would strongly recommend that our readers check Anaria out if they have not already done so. You can listen to Anaria here
... 8.75/10 (Aimee)
ANCIENT BARDS...'A NEW DAWN ENDING'
(Limb Music) Reviewed 11th June 2014
This is the new album from Italian Metal outfit Ancient Bards, containing the third and last chapter of the first part of the Black Crystal Sword Saga, which began with 'The Alliance of the Kings' in 2010 and continued with 'Soulless Child' in 2011. Ancient mysteries, entangled schemes, come in succession together with strange revelations, during the long and intense battle this chapter is about, a battle that takes place both inside and outside the characters. The album meanwhile contains 10 songs (including 2 suites): one number running in at over 12 minutes, and one of nearly 17 for a total of over 70 minutes of class, so you sure get your monies worth. Classic cuts worthy of one's attention include the pounding 7+ minute 'A Greater Purpose', the awesome 'Flaming Heart', the aforementioned early Nightwish sounding 'The Last Resort' and the epic 12+ minute 'Showdown'. However, to be perfectly frank, every track here is outstanding, including the sheer brilliance of the closing title track, running in at over 16 minutes. This is in effect an awesome record with an awesome production, pristine Symphonic Power Metal to boot - a worthy addition to anyone's record collection and very difficult to fault... 9.5/10 (Dave)
AMBERIAN DAWN...'MAGIC FOREST'
(Napalm Records) Reviewed 10th June 2014
Finland's Amberian Dawn has released four studio albums since 2008, and during these productive years, they have already toured in Europe three times with bands like Epica, Van Canto, Tristania, done several festival shows and opened for bands like Kamelot and Dream Evil. Their last studio album proper Circus Black (2012), is widely appraised with excellent reviews by critics all over the world, while in 2013, they released a re-recorded compilation album Re-Evolution with their new singer, Capri. Now we are in 2014 and with Capri at the helm, the band release their new album on a new label. This record is 10 tracks of catchy Symphonic Metal with the occasional foray into Power Metal territory and bloomin' good it is too. And when we say "Catchy" that is exactly what we mean - just listen to the title track as one prime example of what we mean, with similarities to Finnish counterparts Nightwish too. The Symphonic elements are there to be heard on tracks like 'Agonizing Night' and 'Memorial' which also features a male opera singer, who I do not know, but a very good addition to the vocal department nonetheless. The epic closer, the power ballad 'Green Eyed' closes the album in awesome fashion. This is another sure fire winner from the Napalm stable and I am sure will propel the band into the Premier League... 9.25/10 (Dave)
(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 10th June 2014
You know something? I like Arcane Dimension as they are a little different. They come from the San Francisco Bay area and their line up is mainly lead vocalist and belly dancer Teresa Camp and Polish-born multi-instrumentalist Jarek Tatarek, whose specialty is the GuitarViol, a unique stringed instrument fretted like a guitar but bowed like a cello. Their self-described style of “Tribal Fusion & Avantgarde Metal” falls somewhere between Finnish cello rockers Apocalyptica and neoclassical darkwave duo Dead Can Dance with touches of electronica, metal and Middle Eastern music. This is a very good release, kicking off with two catchy numbers, The Middle Eastern influenced 'Beyond The Horizon' and the similar but slightly more mainstream sounding and equally as catchy 'Love Hypnotique'. So far so good. 'Garden Of Arcane Delights' is an instrumental ditty - camp fire stuff - great! The remainder of the album gets better with each listen with 'Haunted By The Muse' being a fave of mine here at the towers together with the haunting 'The Poem' - a great vocal delivery from Teresa Camp. The record gets better as it goes along with 'Atlantis Rising' also striking a chord with me together with 'Music Of The Spheres' (video here
) and the closing duo of 'The Becoming' and the ultra commercial 'Sea Of Consciousness' (which are bonus tracks on this Ravenheart release). I did find myself listening to this album through cans and to be honest, this seemed to enhance the listening experience. A well produced and put together cd - get around the camp fire, dance and let yourself be free.... 9/10 (Aimee)
JESSICA BUNDY...'CARELESS SMILE'
(Self Release) Reviewed 9th May 2014
Jessica Bundy's voice is arresting in its unaffected beauty and rich musicality. The daughter of a concert pianist, Jess has music in her bones. School and extra-curricular choirs nurtured her love of singing, while the gift of a second-hand guitar in her teens jump-started her on the songwriting path. But it wasn't until after the accidental death of Jessica's beloved younger sister that the deep reserve of musical creativity she'd always known was there began to surface. And a part of that creativity is this EP 'Careless Smile'. Don't expect five tracks of in yer face rock or metal, but anticipate five tracks of laid back acoustic folk inspired music from this Toronto lass, to soothe your senses with a glass of wine after a hard day at the office. Listen to this and lose yourself in a dream of sunny skies and a maze of open countryside. You can listen and purchase at www.jessicabundy.bandcamp.com/
. I like this! 8/10 (Dave)
ALTERED SKY...'STOP AND LIVE'
(Native Records) Reviewed 2nd May 2014
Scottish Band Altered Sky feature Ana Nowosielska on lead vocals and also have a female drummer who also contributes to vocals - Amy Blair. With both girls backed up by a competent group of young musicians, the band give us 4 tracks of catchy Pop/Rock that should please fans of Paramore and the like. In the words of lyricist Ana, the songs are “painting stories in real life”. Recorded in Cardiff’s famous Longwave Studios with producer Romesh Dodangoda who has worked with the likes of Motorhead, Kids In Glass Houses, and Funeral For A Friend, this is rather good. The band's Facebook can be found here
.... 8/10 (Dave)
(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)
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