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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews

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BREAK DOWN A VENUE…’MY TRUE NORTH’ EP

(Eat The Beat/Rough Trade) Reviewed 23rd August 2016

Founded only two years ago, this Stuttgart-based sextet has managed to spread their message of heart-felt and energetic modern music throughout Germany. Having shared the stages with renowned acts such as ESKIMO CALLBOY, CALLEJON, DEEZ NUTS or German punk rock rocketeers ITCHY POOPZKID, the band has literally broken down quite a few venues within the country. In 2016 and this female/male fronted powerhouse has already gathered a massive following within the German underground. This is a a mini cd, 6 tracks of powerful music with a strong and pounding rhythm section, dreamy leads and the outstanding performances by both the powerful as well as sensitive front lass Nyves and singer Robin, who seems to undergo every possible emotion from grief to hatred in seconds. BREAK DOWN A VENUE is not your average post hardcore band, but something unique in a scene that seems to copy itself within a minute. This is a crushing release with a great sense of melody and harmonies, the closing number being a cool laid back instrumental. This album will be well worth looking out for when released on 9th September… 8.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

ANCIENT MYTH…’ABERRATION’

(Fastball Music) Reviewed 18th August 2016

Ancient Myth is a Japanese band and there seems to be a load of bands from Asia trying to break into the European market. There are three versions of this album, a Japanese and an English version together with a version mixing the two languages. The music can be looped mainly into the Symphonic/Power Metal mould, there being 13 tracks on this album. The band sure give it their best shot and the tunes are rather catchy, with some good uns to be found…’Afterglow’ being one such number that caught my attention after just one listen. The band’s Facebook is here. Certainly worth looking into for fans of the genre… 8/10 (The Nugget)

ATRIELL...'TALE OF THE DRAGON CLAW'

(Amadea Music) Reviewed 15th August 2016

Atriell is a Symphonic Metal project from Bulgaria, composed by Hristo Manolov and based on the author’s fantasy tales. The concept follows a comprehensive story with unique lyrics, orchestral themes, cool operatic vocals (courtesy of Norra Morrel), edgy guitars and cinematic soundscapes. There are nine tracks of tried and tested Symphonic Metal, but it is rather good nonetheless and is well worth checking out for fans of this style of music. There are some epic tracks too – check out the awesome 8 minute plus ‘Love and Hatred’. In summary, join the world of dragons, swords and magic, love and hatred, warriors and battles, well why not? The band’s Facebook is here… 8.25/10 (Dave)

BLISS IN THE ABYSS…’THE GRACE OF MY DEMONS’

(Self Release) Reviewed 13th August 2016

Bliss In The Abyss fronted by Maria Storck (also front lady with The Grim) is a Swedish Metal/Rock band founded in 2016 by experienced musicians who are truly passionate in the way they approach their music. Starting with the recording of this their first studio album, the band members aspired to an organic, old school sound, resisting the temptation of an over production. The album contains ten epic songs, widely varied as composition and arrangement. The lyrics meanwhile, are a natural extension of this musical experience being tales of a spiritual journey. At times they talk about the invisible side of the world, other times they speak of fairy tale magic characters. Human nature and the causal dynamic of human interactions are also among the approached topics. This indeed is an impressive album, Maria’s vocals being more Pop/Rock in style, but she is also the queen of growling, and gives workshops for those who want to learn. So now you know! I have to recommend this record to all fans of female fronted Rock & Metal and beyond, there is some good catchy stuff here coupled with some awesome musicianship together with a subtle Symphonic undercurrent. And the pipes even pop up on a couple of the tracks. The band’s Facebook is here…8.5/10 (Dave)

AGAINST THE CURRENT…’IN OUR BONES’

(Fueled By Ramen ) Reviewed 22nd July 2016

Against The Current is a three piece band from Poughkeepsie in New York State. They are fronted by the oh so young looking Chrissy Costanza, and the band plays catchy Pop/Rock on this, their debut album. The music becoming very addictive with additional listens. Against The Current actually today starts a World tour and on this showing, they could well conquer the world of Pop/Rock. This is an inoffensive and radio friendly release with electro influences thrown into the melting pot. And a world tour as I just mentioned including Europe (and UK) and Asia. Only a brief review but a very good CD for people that like their music a little more poppy in nature. Uplifting, impressive and well recommended – every track a potential hit single!... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

ABSCIDO...'ALPHA THOUGHT'

(Dawson Productions) Reviewed 3rd July 2016

Abscido and 'Alpha Thought' are concepts of a certain Paul Dawson that he has laboured toward during the past 5 years. Paul has spent most of his life recording and producing music for other artists, and he has always wanted to complete an album project on his own. Having a small recording studio and media production facility helped him to create his life's dream of recording his own album. And this is it! All the writing, production and recording was done by Paul, but he needed a singer to complete the project, so he turned to a very talented young friend of his from a small town in Iowa USA, that had sung in his studio previously, a certain Lindsay Golliet. There are nine numbers here, akin to Melodic Metal with a Progressive/Symphonic undercurrent, and before I contacted Paul regards this release, I was given the impression that it may have been a ‘one man show’ with a female singer, and I was right. The album to my ears is very similar in style to England/Argentinian project GABRIEL that is also a two person show. And after a brief instrumental intro of filmscore proportions, this similarity with Gabriel becomes more apparent in the first number proper, the progressive tinged title track. Vocally though, Lindsay obviously not having the ‘English twang’ that Sally, the vocalist in Gabriel has. The melodic ‘All I Am’ is an awesome number and to be honest, I would love to hear these tunes performed by a full band, Lindsay sure being a fine singer too! The track ‘The Doorstep’ seems at times to have a lot going on for my ears to absorb all at once, but there are plenty of highlights on this record that include the beautiful ballad ‘How Many Times’, the catchy ‘Creepin Around’, the orchestral and appropriately titled ‘Overture’, and the epic final instrumental track simply titled ‘Abscido’. Give this album two or three spins and it will hit you. Not a bad effort from this USA based project. Support independent musicians and buy this from iTunes and the like, it can also be streamed on Spotify too – well worth checking out… 8/10 (Dave)

ALARION…’WAVES OF DESTRUCTION’

(Freia Music) Reviewed 28th June 2016

Alarion (formerly known as Alerion) is a spectacular new musical project from The Netherlands by awesome guitarist Bas Willemsen. In June of 2016, their debut album ‘Waves of Destruction’ was released, being an album to be reckoned with - a good hour of melodic, symphonic and intense music. ‘Waves of Destruction’ displays the diversity of Alarion’s music and the musical prowess of Bas and all those involved. For each listener, there will be a different part of the album that stands out: be it heavy and fast, or acoustic and mellow, a short track or a 10+ minutes long epic, male or female vocals. Throughout all the tracks on the album, the listener will discover the scope of the sound that is Alarion. This is an epic absolute belter of an album featuring an all star cast of musicians including among many others, Damien Wilson (Threshold among others), and for you lovers of female fronted Rock & Metal (after all, that is possibly why you are here reading this) we have Irene Jansen (Ayreon, The Theater Equation, Star One, Gary Hughes among others) who provides lead & backing vocals on ‘Turn of Fate’ and ‘Turn of Fate (acoustic)’. And then there is Tineke Roseboom (Blaze Bayley, Thomas Zwijsen, Hollywood Scoring among others) giving us lead & backing vocals on ‘Clash with Eternity’, backing vocals on ‘The Whistleblower - I – Devastation’, backing vocals on ‘The Whistleblower - II – Vindication’, backing vocals, soprano & alto choir vocals on ‘Colourblind’ and soprano & alto choir vocals on ‘Chains of the Collective’. Being a fan of Threshold, Damien Wilson’s vocals are immediately apparent on the bombastic opener ‘Chains of the Collective’, a Progressive Metal masterpiece, this being followed by ‘Waves of Destruction – I – Rising Tide’, a short spoken piece by Damien taking the listener into the standout ‘Waves of Destruction – II – Struggle For Survival’. An atmospheric instrumental ‘Estrangement’ takes us onto the number ‘Turn Of Fate’ with the awesome vocals of Irene taking over the mic stand, this being another totally mind blowing epic track with a great melodic chorus to boot. ‘Colourblind’ rocks hard with Damien back at the helm, while the beautiful ‘Clash With Eternity’ starring the angelic vocals of Tineke slows things down a touch, to enable us to catch our breath. ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ sees a certain Paul Glandorf taking over vocal duties, this being an awesome Prog workout taking us onto ‘The Whistleblower - I – Devastation’ and ‘The Whistleblower - II – Vindication’. Yet another epic Prog Metal master stroke, the song I am told being based on the story of a UN Police Officer who attempted to blow the whistle on sex trafficking in Bosnia, and being the subject of the 2010 film of the same name. This magical grandiose album closes with the acoustic version of ‘Turn Of Fate’. Further information on this awesome release and purchase details can be found here, but this album will reveal more layers of musical enrichment upon further listens and is one of the best debuts you will hear this year. Enough said… 10/10 (Dave)

AILAFAR…’NO LIMITS’

(AOR Blvd) Reviewed 25th June 2016

Ailafar is a Greek band, the brain child of guitarist and song writer John Tzortzis. Anybody into AOR with a strong 80s flavour should very easily fall in love with this album. Furthermore for you fans of female fronted rock, there are three female vocalists, Tatiana Oikonomou, Alexandra McKay and Olga Katsenidou who between them handle most of the vocals. But if three female vocalists are not enough, there are guest appearances from Stephen Kammerer (Frontline), Paul Jackson (Roadhouse) and David A Saylor (Push UK). So one is not short changed when it comes to variation in the vocal department, and it is this variation that pushes this album onto the next level. I must say that all thirteen tracks on this recording offer up an enjoyable hook laden listen, there are upbeat numbers like ‘Flood Of Love‘, ‘Two Roses’( feat Stephen Kammerer), the catchy ’Tell Me Why’, the rather kool ‘A Way To Your Heart’ (feat Paul Jackson) and ‘Greatest Treasure’. And we must also mention the ballads like ‘Faith In Love’, 'Doors We Walk Alone’ and ‘More Than One‘. This album is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, and is well worth checking out for fans of Melodic Rock/AOR. My late Father would have loved it, well recommended!!… 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

BLACK DESERT…'THE ROAD IS OPEN’

(Yarhibol Records) Reviewed 14th June 2016

Fronted by the powerful lungs of Isabel Bermejo, Black Desert is a Melodic Metal Band that come from Spain. This is their second album following on from their 2013 release aptly titled ‘The Beginning’. The band via their Facebook page describe their music as Metal with ethnic-Arab and dark influences, and this comes to the fore in second number ‘Red Hour’ and the pen ultimate ‘Seduced By The Sand’, the former also possessing a catchy chorus to boot. There are also Progressive influences that surface at various times throughout the album, ‘Bells’ being one such track that I hasten to add also throws at the listener a rather catchy chorus. ‘Dreams of Glycerine (Pt.2)’ is a rather cool power ballad, ‘Dreams of Glycerine’, the Part 1 version by the way appearing on their debut. And the vocals of Isabel – awesome! The title track is a pounding melodic rocker, whilst closer ‘Horizonte’ is an instrumental featuring the Spanish guitar. This is a rather good album that has arrived in my post box and is a pleasant surprise. Check the band’s facebook here… 8.5/10 (Dave)

BLACKLANDS…’PEACEFUL SHORES'

(Blacklands Music) Reviewed 12th June 2016

Blacklands was founded in 2006 by Heavenwood drummer Thomas Kelleners and in 2007 Manfred Reinecke and singer Moja Nardelli joined the band. Since the ‘early days’ there have been some line up changes along the way, not helped unfortunately after the completion of the production of this cd, that saw singer Moja then leaving the band citing personal reasons. Blacklands didn’t hang around in finding a replacement, with the awesome Tanja Magolei-Schupper taking over vocal duties. Within three months, the entire album was re-sung and all artwork and pictures successfully re-edited. And that now takes us onto the album itself. This is the band’s second full length album and like the debut, is another near 80 minute epic that again is a classic Rock and Metal album, knocking on the door of Progressive Rock and Metal. This in turn offering up stax of melody in the process and a damn fine piece of musical work it is too. Highlights to be honest are too numerous to mention, as there is a tsunami of massive tunes, but there are personal faves of mine which I am sure will change with each listen. These fave cuts currently include the catchy ‘Alone Again’ with its amazing chorus, the mid-tempo ‘The River’, the metallic ‘Distant Warning’ with its thundering guitar and awesome keyboard interplay, the pompous 9+ minute ‘Grand Circles’, 'T.I.M.E' with its 40s Jazz band feel and the closing 16+ minute epic ‘Winter Skies’ (feat Markus Brand). To be honest, I have fallen in love with this CD, close on 80 minutes of awesomeness in-fact. An album trailer can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4TxuO4HOKg - well recommended.... 9/10 (Dave)

AGGELOS…’SILENTIUM’

(Rottweiller Records) Reviewed 10th June 2016

Aggelos (meaning Messenger) is a Colombian Christian metal band. The band originated in Medellín, Colombia, where they formed in 2002, with their current members being vocalist and guitarist, Natalia Soto, vocalist and bassist, Carolina Giraldo Sánchez, vocalist, Juan Esteban Londoño, guitarist & keyboardist, Jonathan Rueda, and drummer Duvan Lopez Posada. They ply their trade by way of doom metal, gothic metal, death metal, symphonic metal, black metal and neoclassical metal music. I do not come across many Colombian bands let alone Colombian Christian Metal bands, but what they do here they do rather well. If you dislike extreme vocals, one may be advised to steer clear, but there are also some awesome operatic vocals, and combined with the symphonics, I have grown to like this album very much. It is all sung in Spanish (I assume) and as a consequence, I do not really know what they are singing about, but I believe from a reliable source that the main theme of the lyrics is Christianity. Beauty & the Beast vocals when done well make for a good album, and this is a good Symphonic Gothic Metal album encompassing the aforementioned vocal style. I recommend this record, the band’s Facebook is here….8.25/10 (Dave)

ANATOMY OF THE SACRED…’ASHES TO ASHES’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 7th June 2016

Anatomy of the Sacred’s debut EP, 'Ashes to Ashes' is an electrifying journey through the ever-twisting avenues of life. It is a formidable collection of lingering songs that explore humanity’s ongoing struggle with themes such as lust, reflection, disappointment, death, fear and hope. The band consisting of Brenda Michelle Robinson (vocals) and Shane Krout (bass, guitar, vocals) make elegant, soulful music ablaze with powerhouse vocals, orchestral melodies and radiant harmonies that are draped over driving and resounding rhythms. With the distinctive honour of being the only female fronted symphonic metal band in Pennsylvania, this album delivers the goods – 6 tracks of high octane melodic Symphonic Metal, a band that would do fairly well in Europe if ever given the chance. All the numbers are good with Clinton Washington from Season 8 of The Voice, taking vocal control of the final track, the awesome ballad ‘Farewell To The Light’. The album has come to fruition with the help of numerous musicians, engineers and artists and the band deserves your support. Currently, I understand the record is available via CDBaby HERE - Support independent musicians and buy, recommended!… 8/10 (Dave)

AFTERMOON…’PHASE ONE’

(WormholeDeath) Reviewed 30th May 2016

AFTERMOON is a modern metal band from Kiev, Ukraine. The band started on their musical way in 2012 and since their formation, AFTERMOON has played more than 35 shows in the biggest Ukrainian cities. They explore different genres in their music, such as modern metal, alternative rock and the like, combining melodic vocals and piano with hard guitar riffs. There is an intense rhythm section, and they use classical techniques and the variety of modern sound to create a unique mix that exists on the border of various musical genres. This is well reflected in the music on the album - 12 tracks (including bonus cut) of catchy, melodic Alternative Metal with a strong electro undercurrent, coupled with the vocals of leading lady Valeri. I can already hear potential live faves here like the very catchy 'DeadBorn Revolution', and then we have the awesome ballads, the orchestrated and piano led 'Losing Me' and the rather cool closer ‘To You’ (bonus track). Other appealing tracks to these ears anyway include the riff-tastic ‘Somewhere’, the Industrial Metal sounding ‘Daemons’ and the catchy ‘Time Crisis’. The album is now available on the digital platform while Aftermoon's website is here - check them out as it is a fine release! ... 8.5/10 (Dave)

BELLA D...'THE CRYSTAL CEILING'

(Self Released/Drumageddon Productions) Reviewed 27th May 2016

Operatic vocalist and storyteller Christie Oakes formed the band Bella D to weave intricate tales of love and hate, of breaking away from the past and rebuilding the future. For this new album, Christie secured the help of drummer Charlie Zeleny (a.k.a. DRMAGDN), who has worked with bands such as Dream Theater, Blotted Science, and Behold the Arctopus. Zeleny has tackled various duties on Bella D, such as production, engineering and overall development. Although Oakes and Zeleny forged their musical friendship as far back as high school, Bella D marks the first time the duo have elected to join forces. The storyline told throughout the album concerns a female automaton designed for human companionship. This robot, known as Bella D, has a will of her own, one that soon proves too strong to remain in captivity. The record that was four years in the making, tells of Bella D’s struggles in a dystopian/steampunk environment, where she must surmount majestic obstacles and overcome imminent doom. To make the album come to life, Oakes and Zeleny secured standout session musicians known for working with artists like Taylor Swift, Blondie, Bill Joel, and Bruce Springsteen. Christie's vocals like the songs are damn awesome, and without going into the fine detail of each track, this is just to put it simply an awesome debut from this newcomer. Bombastic, anthemic, symphonic rock songs, soaring vocals, stax of melody, and to be frank the whole package is totally amazing - 'Battle On' is just one example from this amazing album. I whole heartedly recommend this record, website is here... 9/10 (Dave)

JOCELYN and CHRIS ARNDT…’EDGES’

(Label pending) Reviewed 26th May 2016

Up and coming sibling duo Jocelyn and Chris Arndt: The soulful pair from Cambridge, MA (USA) recently released this their new album 'Edges'. Since Jocelyn and Chris began, their music has continued to grow and mature, the two truly showcase their ever-lasting talent in their new album. The pair has a lot more to offer than just devastatingly powerful vocals and retro-rock driven guitar, and it all comes to the fore on this release. This should be mainstream radio station stuff, Jocelyn’s powerful vocals are mind blowing, all this showcased in the quirky opener ‘Shame’, this being one of the three singles from the album. ‘Too Much To Me’ is the second track and was also released as a single. This being a slightly heavier tune, with a bluesy vibe, while next up ‘Where’s The Rain’ is a slower number, Jocelyn’s vocals totally suiting this style of music. ‘More Than I Say I Do’ is a rather nice laidback ballad and I do rather like the vibe this album gives me. The bluesy vibe returns with ‘Jagged’, and again those vocals are awesome! With the track ‘Hot’ we hit the halfway point of the album and although this cd may not be one for the metal heads out there, lovers of good Bluesy style and at times laidback Retro Rock should lap this one up. The second half of the album is equally as good with further standout cuts like the rocking ‘Cinderella’ and the rather nice ‘Cut The Chord’. With lyrics that run the gamut between vulnerable to all-out venomous, Jocelyn & Chris Arndt’s music has matured into what can only be described as a throwback to pure, album orienated rock. This is a good release with great musicianship and awesome vocals, check out their Facebook here… 8/10 (Dave)

AFTERTIME…’THE FALL OF LIGHT’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 18th May 2016

Formed in the last days of 2011 by Chris Radke (Guitars) and Brad Sturgis (Guitars, Keyboards), AfterTime is a Symphonic Metal band hailing from Minnesota, USA. In September 2012, the band was joined AJ Blakesley (Drums), and development on the first songs began. These songs would serve as early version of the songs that would appear on this, the band's debut six track EP. Over the next 2 years the band went through some line up changes, until late 2014, when they were joined by Sarah Wolf (Vocals) and Malachi Arndt (Bass). I have always thought that Symphonic Metal bands from the USA tend to use more emphasis on guitars and not so much on keys/synths/orchestration like their European counterparts do. AfterTime I think mix the two together offering pounding metal with a Symphonic undercurrent. There is indeed quite a lot going on within some of the numbers here, some tracks rather complex without being overly progressive (does that make sense?). Track three ‘The Final Act’ is one such number, while ‘All The Ruins Remain’ as the title may suggest is a power ballad, but again a number that shows some complexity. Meanwhile, one of my faves from the album is the melodic and catchy ‘The Passage’. As a consequence of the complexity of this album, I would call this thinking person’s Symphonic Metal, indeed you may need a few listens to take in all that is going on. The album is worth checking out however, the band’s website here… 8/10 (Dave)

ABRASANTIA…’FORGOTTEN RITUALS’

(Abrasantia/Mtm Prod.Records) Reviewed 16th May 2016

Abrasantia come from Argentina and ply their trade by way of Symphonic Metal with operatic vocals, and occasional but not overly done male grunts. They were formed in 2011 and this album is their first full length effort, having released an EP in 2012 and three singles since. They are fronted by Mariana Brunel who has been with the band since 2014, although Carolina Schall is a session member of the band, appearing live and is indeed a founder member too. There are some good bands coming out of Sth America so let us now add Abrasantia to that list. This is one of those albums that tends to grow on you with each listen, and to me, it is those records that have lasting appeal. Running in at just over the hour, there are 14 tracks here, sung either in the band’s native tongue or in English. Mariana’s singing as previously mentioned come from the operatic school of vocals, and suit the music rather well – I do rather like the lovely tune 'Conjuro de amor' but there are others, like ‘Winter’ which is quite nice and has a subtle retro feel to it, while ‘Orpheus Song’ possesses quite a catchy chorus. Overall, this is a fairly strong release from this Argentinian band, with a mix of mid to up tempo numbers and slower ballady string led tracks like ‘Until The End Of Time’. The record is well worth tracking down, CDBaby (www.cdbaby.com/cd/abrasantia5) being one such source for a purchase… 8/10 (Dave)

ANTILLIA...'ANCIENT FORCES'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd May 2016

Russia at the moment seems to be spawning some rather good metal bands, and we can add Antillia to that list. They are a Symphonic Metal band and have very kindly given us this 14 track album to review. They use clean female vocals compliments of Elena Belova, coupled with clean male vocals from Alexander Kolesov, whose vocal presence takes on a baritone style that is very well suited to the music on offer. The songs are sung in Russian so I do not have any clue what the lyrics are about, but musically the whole package is rather good. I cannot go into any of the individual songs in detail due to the Russian lyrics, but for fans of female fronted Symphonic Metal, this is certainly very well worth checking out with its awesome set of songs, coupled with a very strong production and orchestral arrangements. Check out the band's website here, you know you should – recommended from the Ravenheart team... 9/10 (Dave)

CECILIE BECK…’HERE IS NOW’

(Sound Vision Lab) Reviewed 15th April 2016

I like something a little laid back at times, in turn helping one to escape the trials and tribulations of the world. Anyway, on January 14, 2016, Danish musician Cecilie Beck (now based in New York) released her debut album 'Here is Now' (produced by Seth Misterka and Razors Productions) at Rockwood Music Hall in New York, which led to a series of performances around the city. She then formed a band called Cecilie Beck & The Elements to accompany her sounds and visuals in performances. The band was named The Elements, because the songs draw strong references to the rhythms and patterns of nature's elements. The band consists of Cecilie Beck on lead vocals & piano, Onur Gül on bass, Elder Merchant on drums, Grace Hong on violin, and Alonzo Felix on guitar, melodica & back up vocals. As one may expect, do not expect blistering guitars, thumping drums or soaring keys on this album, instead listen to Cecilie's delicate and fragile voice enhancing the creative music on this 13 track album, the lyrics of which tackle gender, race and class among other issues. This is a gentle easy listening album that in turn cries “play me” on mainstream radio, although the track ‘The Pioneer’ is more of an upbeat number – catchy and radio friendly, while ‘Streets of New York’ has a foot tapping kinda reggae vibe. 'Here is Now' is an Experimental Folk album. The music is experimental for its genre defying compositions and the lyrics are in the tradition of folk music through their intimate story telling. Although I do appreciate that this album may not appeal to all the readers of this website, this is a record to chill too and forget the troubles of the world! Check out the video to the track ‘Butterflies’ here and Celcilie's website at www.ceciliebeck.com/, where you will find out that she is more than just a musician….8.5/10 (Dave)

BLACKDRAFT...'RECIPE OF PAIN'

(Hotrock Records) Reviewed 14th April 2016

The debut album from these German rockers combines everything: powerful music from hard rock to death metal. Blackdraft are three men and a woman who have been active in the scene for some while. The music of the band is an intense and explosive mixture, unique Maiden-influenced guitar leads, a clear, pumping bass and powerful oppressive Drum Grooves, and of course the vocals of Julia D Wallenius coupled with the growls of guitarist Karsten Wallenius. Through the 12 tracks on this record, the music is an orgasmic experience, leaving you screaming for more. This is up tempo retro hard rock that has been dragged into the 21st century by the short and curlies and is well recommended, including the closing number, Abba's 'Gimme Gimme Gimee'. The band's Facebook is here... 8.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

BEYOND GOD…’A MOMENT OF BLACK’

(JBM Events) Reviewed 8th April 2016

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

ARCTIC VOID…’ENTANGLED’

(Power Prog Records) Reviewed

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

BELLADONNA…’THE ORCHESTRAL ALBUM’

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th March 2016

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

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

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th March 2016

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

BLODWEN...'WINTER FALLS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th March 2016

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

BENEATH THE SILENCE…’MEANT FOR THE CLOUDS’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 20th March 2016

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

BOUDIKA…S/T

(Del Imaginario Discos) Reviewed 20th March 2016

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

BLIND EXISTENCE…’HURRICANE’ EP

(Lion Music) Reviewed 2nd March 2016

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

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

(Self Released) Reviewed 19th February 2016

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

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