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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

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AFTER CLAY…’KHARYBDIS’

(Self Released) Reviewed 24th July 2015

After Clay is an alternative rock band formed in Naples, Italy, in 2005 by Marialberta Lamberti (voice), Vincenzo Padovani (guitar), Alessio Russo (bass) and Giuseppe De Felice (drums). On this, their new album, there are 13 tracks and to be honest, this is rather good. After an atmospheric intro..’Rise’, first track proper ‘The Donor’ kicks in and it is a rather catchy track to get things going. Next up ‘Firestone’ to my ears has a near retro feel coupled with a catchy chorus, while ‘Shores’ is a rather nice ballad. The tempo gets going again with ‘Lovergirl’, while the interestingly titled ‘Hot Man With Ambiguous Shoes’, is a sexy song about a sexy man wearing interesting shoes :) - a quirky number I hasten to add. Further highlights include the acoustic driven folky ballad ‘Sterling Bridge’, the mid tempo ‘Prometheus’, the bluesy but catchy ‘Dia De Los Muertos’, the retro sounding ‘Black Needle’, and one of my faves from the CD, ‘Winter Sea’. This album was recorded, mixed and mastered at home by the band themselves, which proves what can be done when one puts their mind to it! The lyrics to some of the tracks may not be suitable to young ears, and may be the record could have done with perhaps a slightly better production, but not every band has a Bon Jovi production budget! Kudos to the band nonetheless for getting this album together - a good effort and you can get an idea for yourselves here.. 7.75/10 (Dave)

AJANA…’DUALISMUS’

(Self Release) Reviewed 22nd July 2015

Ajana was founded as a solo project formed in 2003 by Luise Markert alias Ajana, who is responsible for song writing, lyrics, vocals and other instruments. I reviewed the debut full length Ajana release ‘Home In Decay’ back in October 2012 and now in 2015, I have a newie to review, this epic album gets released via Bandcamp on 24th July. Once again Christoph Brandes has mixed and mastered the album at Iguana Studios and yet again doing a great job! Besides that, Cornelius Heck on drums & bass and Simon Schillinger (all guitars) have also been involved with the recording process as they did on the debut. So what have we got music wise? This is certainly a little different to what I am normally used to listening too – the intro ‘et non descendit’ sounds like something from a Boston album (great guitars) and this leads perfectly into the first track proper, the mid to up tempo and pounding ‘Outside’ featuring the vocals of Ajana – this is cool and heavy stuff! With other fantastically epic tracks like ‘In The Past I Thrive’, ‘Nonexistence’, the heavy and progressive ‘Profanation’ and ‘Descending’, I suppose like the debut, there are many influences shining through these nine epic metal tracks. And talking “epic”, apart from the intro, there is not a track shorter than six and a half minutes, with the closing number ‘Procession’ exceeding 13 minutes! Whether these lengthy tracks are a good or bad thing, I am not too sure, but one is sure getting their monies worth here! Overall, at times imagine epic Doom Metal with clean female vocals – this album may be an acquired taste but I would call it thinking person’s metal! So do not expect glorious hooks and catchy choruses. Check out the website here - stick with it as it is a grower!…. 8.5/10 (Dave)

BROCELIAN…’LIFELINES’

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th July 2015

Brocelian come from Germany and they released this their debut album last year (2014). What the band offer is 12 rather cool tracks of catchy melodic Metal injected with a little folk here and there to mix it up a bit, as we find in the opener ‘Fields of Sadness’ and tracks like the quirky ‘The Hunt’. And to be honest, this is rather good from this band. The awesome vocals of Susan fit the music so well, while the violin (compliments of Elli) plays an important role within the music the band throws at the listener. There are some further good numbers here including tracks like the pounding and melodic ‘Heartstrings’, the hard rocking vibe of ‘Lost Memories', the rocking ‘Theatre Moments’ and the bouncy 'Unbreakable', and I do love that violin, adding a different slant to the music across all tracks – cool!!. This album is good and I do rather like it. The band’s website is here although you may need Google translate… 8.5/10 (Dave)

ANCIENT PROPHECY…’POUNDED BY OUR SINS’

(Digital Self Release) Reviewed 16th July 2015

Ancient Prophecy is a Power/Death/Gothic Metal Band from Germany dealing with lyrical themes such as Christianity, Biblical and Inner Struggles. There are nine epic bombastic numbers here that deal lyrically with the aforementioned themes, and taking into account the lyrics and the musical content is rather good. Some people seem to be put off the moment the phrase “Christian Rock” or “Christian Metal” is mentioned, but why? There is some frikin’ good Christian Rock and Metal in the market place at the moment, and these bands don’t always preach. Okay, although born a Christian, I am not the most religious person on this planet, but so what. I am here to appreciate good music and good music this album is throughout! Okay, this may lack some of the glorified hooks of some of the music we review here, but ‘Pounded By Our Sins’ is what I would call “thinking person’s metal”. I do not have the lyrics with the music here, but as examples, listen to the tracks ‘True Trinity’ and ‘The Fall of Vanity’ and you will hear where this band is coming from. I recommend this, so before I send the Vicar of Christ Church, Highbury in North London (near to where I used to live) together with his team around to sort you out, download this album now from all the regular digital retailers (iTunes etc). God bless you!. 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

AGAINST MYSELF...'ODYSSEY TO REFLEXION’

(Santo Grial Records) Reviewed 8th July 2015

Against Myself come from Spain and this is their recently released 2nd full length album. Needless to say this is another blast of good old Melodic Symphonic Metal. I do tend to ask myself if the genre (if you can call it that) is becoming rather too crowded for its own good. I don’t know but I will let the boss man decide that. I am only reviewing what he has given me and to be honest, this is a rather good album. Fronted by the attractive looking and the ‘poppy’ vocal style of Irene Villegas, there are eleven tracks here of prime time Symphonic Metal to blow your ear drums out, and those of your neighbours if you play it loud enough :). All the ingredients are here on the menu, the Symphonics in tracks like ‘Beyond The Chains’, ‘Through The End Of Times’, 'God Of Deads' and the catchy 'Shadows In My Head'. There are also two epic tunes, ‘When Words Kill’, a 14+ minute Progressive Metal masterpiece and the near 10 minute closing track ‘Critical Situation’. Let us not also forget the ballad, the rather lovely acoustic driven 'Cross Eternity'. There is enough energy and variety on this release to keep the listener glued to the stereo (do stereos still exist? LOL), so why not check it out! The band’s website is here… 8.75/10 (The Nugget)

ARIA FLAME...'A WORLD OF SILENCE'

(Self Released) Reviewed 2nd July 2015

Aria Flame (www.ariaflame.com/) was formed after the disbandment of singer and composer Aziza Poggi’s former band Dendura. Dendura was a successful Egyptian themed metal band that was heard on The Comedy Central network, seen in magazines such as Metal Hammer, and opened for international touring acts such as Epica, Doro Pesch, Edguy, Scar Symmetry, Unexpect and The Agonist. This is their first release, an EP featuring six tracks of awesome neo-classical symphonic metal with progressive elements. It is not often (no offence to US bands) that it can be said of bands from the USA, but this is a band that is set to compete with Europe's finest from what I hear on this record. Just check out the closing track 'Divine World' from this fine set of nuggets. The awesome EP was produced by bassist Greg Cloon and mixed and mastered by Grammy award-winning producer Neil Kernon (FM, Judas Priest, Nevermore, Queensryche, etc.), and currently, the band is setting up additional national and international tours, recording more music videos, and planning to release a full album of new music in 2016. Worth looking into no doubt about it... 9/10 (The Nugget)

AKENTRA...'ALIVE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 23rd June 2014

This French band fronted by Lucia Ferreira is rather good! Formed in 2006, this is their 2nd full length release following 2010's 'Asleep'. So after 'Asleep' we are now 'Alive'. There are 13 tracks of ALternative Rock/Metal with an occasional subtle progressive feel flowing just underneath the surface. Some catchy foot tapping stuff throughout the album too, including tracks like 'Self Esteem' and 'My Son'. Then there are the rather nice acoustic based ballads like 'The One' and the piano led 'Final Dance Pt 1', which leads rather nicely into the more upbeat closing track 'Final Dance Pt 2'. And they can ramp it up too on tracks like 'Magic Trick', 'Resurrection' and 'Kick Ass' that does just that!. Although released last year, once again, we feel that this is an album that deserves a review on this website. The band's website is here. Let us hope that this is not the Final Dance!.. 8.75/10 (The Nugget)

AEVERIUM...'BREAK OUT (Deluxe Edition)'

(Out Of Line Music) Reviewed 18th June 2015

Here is another great cd to grace our grubby palms. Aeverium is a band that is very familiar to myself. I reviewed their very good EP in January 2014 and I stated then that there were various influences within the music featured upon that EP, and those "various influences" continue to surface on this, their debut full length offering. Continuing to feature the female vocals of Aeva Maurelle and the male vocals of Marcel "Chubby" Römer, this combination is totally awesome, and this vocal duo alone has driven this band into the Premier League. And that is before we include the awesome musicianship from the remaining members of the band. There are some tremendous tracks here including the thumping opener 'Break Out' (video here), the emotional power ballads 'Departed' & 'The Ground Beneath Your Feet' (featured on the EP), the Lacuna Coil sounding 'Heaven's Burning (Harvest Time)' that was also featured on the aforementioned EP, as was the pounding 'Do You Remember' and 'Rest In Peace'. The quality so far on this CD is awesome and it continues with further magical numbers like 'The Other Side' with its rappy bits, the number 'What Are You Waiting For' with it's catchy chorus (also featuring Amanda Somerville) and the closing track 'To Live Forever', although the special edition of this album has three additional elegant acoustic bonus cuts. To summarise, I just need to use a very well used word -"awesome", and Lacuna Coil had better start looking over their shoulders - Aeverium is well and truly on the rise and will also give many other bands out there a run for their money!...9.75/10 (Dave)

ARMENIA...'LOPSIDED MOON'

(Self Release) Reviewed 17th June 2015

There is not an awful lot of info on this band, but Armenia fronted by Armenia Sarkissian is based in Canada, and this is their debut six track EP that has recently dropped in. It is by and large a Symphonic Metal offering with smatterings of progressiveness thrown into the mix, and the emphasis on some tracks of some quite blistering orchestration. The opener 'My Own Self' is one track that showcases the aforementioned "blistering orchestration" and great vocals too from Armenia. 'Lidwina' opens up with an awesome and somewhat haunting choral passage and is yet another magical orchestrated offering on this record! And it does not stop there with 'Vapour' hitting the spot big time - damn awesome! 'Broken Chords' and 'Grounded By My Feet' are other beauties with further lush orchestrations, as is the epic 8 minute plus closing title track. 'Lopsided Moon' takes you on an epic journey through self-discovery, commenting on the fragility of the human condition. Using the balance of epic orchestrations, pounding rhythms, elegant vocal melodies, and soft lyrical interludes, an audible adventure will swiftly ensue. Check their bandcamp out at www.armenia4.bandcamp.com/album/lopsided-moon... recommended...8.75/10 (Dave)

BURNING POINT...'BURNING POINT'

(AFM Records) Reviewed 25th May 2015

Finnish power metallers BURNING POINT have been and still are an active part of the European Metal scene since the late 90’s. Led by mastermind Pete Ahonen, the band has released five studio albums since then, all to critical acclaim. In 2014, Ahonen (who was responsible for vocals and guitars) asked former Battle Beast singer Nitte Valo to join the band as new vocalist. As Nitte loved Burning Point’s music, she agreed and is now a steady member of the band. Now the first album with Nitte has been recorded, the CD includes five brand new songs and six BURNING POINT classics in re-recorded versions. It’s inevitable to realize that Nitte’s presence and unmistakable voice adds the special something to the already established band. Opener 'In The Shadows' is one of the newies and is a belter of a song while second up, the mid paced and melodic 'All The Madness' is one of the re recorded numbers - totally awesome. There are further Burning Point reworked classics here with Nitte at the helm, including 'Signs Of Danger' and 'Heart Of Gold' , while the new ones such as the dynamic and powerful 'Find Your Soul', 'My Darkest Times' and 'Queen of Fire' sure do hit the spot. The album also includes the KISS cover which is the closing number, 'I've Had Enough (Into The Fire)'. To summarise, sonically 'Burning Point' is the best sounding album the band has released so far while in addition, AFM will re-issue the first four BURNING POINT albums 'Salvation By Fire' (2001), 'Feeding The Flames' (2013), 'Burned Down The Enemy' (2007) and 'Empyre' (2009), all scheduled for a July 17th release and about to include numerous bonus tracks. Recommended... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

BEYOND THE BLACK...'SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH'

(Airforce1 Records) Reviewed 21st May 2015

BEYOND THE BLACK is a female fronted Symphonic/Gothic Metal band from Mannheim in Germany, that was formed by 19-year-old Jennifer Haben along with some of her buddies. This is their debut and to be perfectly honest, this is a corker of an album. Similarities are apparent with bands such as Within Temptation and Nightwish, but hell, that can only be a good thing. The opening duo of 'In The Shadows' and 'Songs Of Love and Death' kick things off, and you will not get a better opening salvo of songs on many albums throughout this coming year (2015). And it doesn't stop there, 'Unbroken' slows things down but is equally as awesome, a real tear jerker of a power ballad - stunning!! 'When Angels Fall' picks up the pace flirting with Power Metal territory at times, but certainly a strong Symphonic Metal number in the process! 'Pearl In A World Of Dirt' is a beautiful ballad featuring Hannes Braun from the band KISSIN' DYNAMITE, while 'Hallelujah' opens slowly showcasing Jennifer's wonderful awesome voice, before it kicks off big time in Power Metal fashion. 'Running To The Edge' is an absolute melodic thumper, with the epic 'Numb' maintaining the melodic momentum of the previous number - amazingly good!! The band is motoring and this is confirmed by another stunning tune in 'Drowning In Darkness'!! 'Afraid Of The Dark' with subtle harsh male vocals within it's melodic chorus is another whopper, and the melodic sensibilities continue with the penultimate song 'Fall Into Flames'. The ballad 'Love Me Forever' (a MOTORHEAD cover) closes this breathtaking album so to summarise: I sometimes wonder whether BEYOND THE BLACK may have arrived into a saturated female fronted Symphonic Metal music scene a little too late, BUT nonetheless, if you are into bands like NIGHTWISH, EVANESCENCE, XANDRIA, DELAIN or WITHIN TEMPTATION (and the like) and you have not already got this, then buy now!! Simply a stunning masterpiece from an awesome band!.. 10/10 (Dave)

ANARIA...'SEASONS OF THE MIND VOL 1 INCEPTION'

(Self Released) Reviewed 20th May 2015

Melding power and beauty, US band Anaria fronted by the awesome and distinct voice of Jessica Mercy, leads their nation in defining American Symphonic Metal, forging unique and memorable melodies, while retaining both strength and grace in delivery. This album is a 7 track affair and is pretty darn good too. The instrumental opener 'Inception' leads us gracefully into the first track 'proper' which is titled 'Ignition', and this ignites the album in typical symphonic fashion. 'Intoxicate' will intoxicate you with its grandiose melodies coupled with the awesome vocals of Jessica, while 'Aurora' is a Symphonic masterpiece with a pompous chorus. 'Covet' with its church organ intro is a heavier guitar orientated number with subtle keys, while 'Genesis Star' is a short atmospheric instrumental, leading us into the bouncy closing number 'Constellations'. Overall, this album is good, very good in-fact. It can be checked out here: www.anaria.bandcamp.com/ - worth investigatng and then spending a few bucks of your hard earned money... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

AGHAST AFTERGLOW...'IMAGING'

(Revalve Records) Reviewed 18th May 2015

The Aghast Afterglow project consisting of core members Lisa Lee on vocals and Denny Di Motta on guitar, started in October 2010. The following year, was then dedicated to recording the first album which will be released May 26th and is reviewed here. The album combines a wide range of influences which results in a great mix of Symphonic Metal and Gothic Rock elements, consisting of stunning melodies coupled with epic feelings that pervades each one of the eleven tracks. There are some stunning numbers here from this Italian Band, including the bombastic 'You're Killing Me From Inside', and there are some catchy ones too, including 'When Winter Will Come Back' and 'There's No Time'. Then we have the rather nice and orchestrated 'Stream Of Awareness'. Mark Basile from metal band DGM is the special guest on third track in 'Angels Can't Love', while closing number, the Donna Summer cover 'Hot Stuff ends what is a rather good record from the band. The band's Facebook is here, and check the video to the track 'There's No Time' here. Recommended... 8.75/10 (Dave)

ANFEL...'ICY WORLD'

(Crysella Records) Reviewed 7th May 2015

ANFEL (www.facebook.com/anfelband) come from from Tver, Russia. They are a Gothic Doom Metal band centered on the composer DENIS LOBOTOROV, who managed to create a project with a power package of great musicians, these musicians include VICTORIA BELCHENKOVA and ELVIRA ALCHEMIDA of BLACKTHORN. Also, we must mention some guest vocal appearances from AINA of BLACKTHORN fame on selected tracks. To be honest, this is an album of majestic beauty, coupled of course with the style of hard rock and metal that we have all come to love. The awesome up beat opening salvo of 'Cry' and 'My Truth And Its Gist' both feature the aforementioned Aina, as does the sixth track in, the wonderful 'Why'. There are a host of other mind-blowing tracks here, all worthy of a mention but space does not permit. 'ICY WORLD' comes in 4 different album versions, 3 of those as plain instrumentals, symphonic & piano versions and pure piano arrangements and of course, this the vocal version. And it is totally amazing how such heaviness can be combined with such beauty, to produce what is such an awe-inspiring album, that will see the light of day in July. We should ask: Could this be the beginning of an Icy World?... 9/10 (The Nugget)

BERSERKER...'DARK WORLDS COLLIDE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 1st May 2015

Berserker is a symphonic Gothic band from Lithuania with Polish roots. But no matter where they come from, this album has hit the top of the "awesome factor" scale. My word, can it get much better than this? Leading lady Agnieška Volček has more of a Rock vocal style, certainly not from the operatic school of voice, but what she does she does damn well, being ably backed up by a band of extremely good musicians. The band do throw into the metal melting pot some deathy growls but these are not overdone. There are also subtle folky elements using the flute too, something that seems to be creeping into metal music these days, this being a very positive element by the way! I am feeling inclined not to list any individual tracks here as they are all extremely good, but I do rather like track 4 being the pounding and extremely melodic 'Madness Machine', the power ballad, the wonderful 'Wolf' (frikin' excellent) and the totally stomping sound of 'Viking Ship'! Overall across the 9 tracks, this is a very very good release full to the brim of excellent music and is a must buy as far as I am concerned. Take a peek at http://berserker.lt and gauge your own opinions, but we here strongly recommend this to all and sundry... 9.75/10 (The Nugget)

ANTHOLOGY...'THE PROPHECY'

(Self Release) Reviewed 31st March 2015

OMG...here we have a stunning offering of Symphonic Metal from this six piece band who come from Slovakia. Dave has known about Anthology for a little while now, but what we have are 11 tracks of bombastic Symphonic Power Metal. Fronted by a young lady who goes by the name of Raylyn Shade, and whose vocals take on a more poppy vocal style as opposed to the operatic style that one can get used to with this type of music, this is bloomin' good. The opening salvo of 'The River of Mystery' and the title track set the scene for the album, and what a scene it becomes. It is plainly obvious that this is a no filler all killer release, with plenty to savor here. Check out further numbers like the grandoise 'Lost Dreams' that hammers along like a Japanese bullet train, the formidable and commercial sounding 'Rise Up', the epic 7+ minute 'Scream Into The Darkness' and the power ballad 'No Sorrow', but those are just brief mentions from an album full of golden nuggets!! The band's website is at www.anthology.sk/, and you would be a fool not to check it out. To put it simply, the record is damn good and I like it.... 9.5/10 (The Nugget)

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)

BLACK LABEL...EP

(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...8.5/10 (Dave)

BATTLEBEAST...'UNHOLY SAVIOUR'

(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)

ANCESTRAL LEGACY...'TERMINAL'

(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)

AEVUM...'IMPRESSIONS'

(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)

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