A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
ATHEIST - Piece of Time
ATHEIST - Unquestionable Presence
KREATOR - Live Kreation
LABYRINTH - Self-titled
SECRET SPHERE - Scent of Human Desire
CANVAS SOLARIS - Spatial/ Design
Piece of Time (re-release)
Formed in 1984, as part of the legendary Florida Death Metal movement that gave the world MORBID ANGEL, DEATH, MASSACRE, CYNIC. as OBLIVION then a name change occurred for the more sinister sounding R.A.V.A.G.E (Raging Atheist Vowing A Gory End). But of course some Glam fag/ AOR/ poser band in the Midwest in the USA had the same name. So of course who would want to be associated with that poser trend so the moniker ATHEIST was chosen. Being a band that is peerless and timeless, they had all the usual delays, with their debut album. A similar experience I suffered with EXODUS 1984's "A Lesson In Violence ". Causing the then trendy Death Metallers wrongly thinking, oh its 1990, this band is too late for the Death Metal wave. When actually they were one of the originators and innovators of the technical Progressive Death Metal concept; so far ahead of the Metal movement. This level of originality, talent and virtuosity will be never seen ever again in my lifetime. Original released on the Active Records label in 1990 with Kelly Shaefer on vocals / guitars, Rand Burkey on lead guitar, Roger Patterson on bass, and Steve Flynn on drums. Luckily for the true fans involved they were on Active Records and not Roadrunner, Godly Records or Mean Machine Records, liked everyone hoped for back then. Because these ATHEIST reissues would of never happened like this. They would be part of Island Def Jam/ Roadrunner's crappy two from the vault series, those are worse than any " best of " CD ever manufactured. Relapse records cult classic division, did a hundred times of a better job on these reissues, than the CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER ones a couple of years ago. ATHEIST is the RUSH, MERCYFUL FATE, METALLICA and DIAMOND HEAD of Death Metal, due to the fact, that what separates ATHEIST from the contenders (2nd and 3rd rate bands) and pretenders ( 9th rate and posers acts), is that they knew the importance and purpose of riffs, and songwriting arrangements with dynamic and tempos changes. NMG Entertainment reissued the last version of "Piece Of Time" in 2000, it was not in the original nine song format as the first vinyl and CD press runs (Active/ Metal Blade/ Music for Nations-Japan). Included were six bonus tracks. This Relapse reissues is the original nine songs plus nine bonus tracks. Two Atheist demos " Hell Hath No Mercy" and " Beyond", and the R.A.V.A.G.E. " On They Slay Demo". The best area of improvement for the Relapse version is the front insert inlay booklet. It is almost perfect, obviously true fans helped put this together, because of the flyers and the photos. It rivals the Sentinel Steel and High Vaultage reissues but not as stellar as the Repulsion "Horrified" 3rd pressing 2CD in 2004, because Laurent Ramadier did the liner notes. Laurent Ramadier should have written the liner notes, with Snakepit # 8, pages 4-11 should have been printed also -honestly the best interview of ATHEIST career, corporate Rock rags like Decibel and Revolver, could never top that, ever. Ula Gehert did the liner notes. A journalist I never trusted, because of her work at Sentinel Steel. Look for the Sentinel Steel issue 2 or 3 where he rates, CYNIC" Focus " a 1 out of 10 rating. Now years later he writes the ATHEIST " Piece of Time " liner notes?! I had to laugh my ass off, that fact and over this oversight by Relapse Records. Wherever Atheist and Relapse got the rare ass photos and flyers from, I would have to thank the true fan that provided those personally (Well don't look any further, it all comes at 99,8% from my personal archives except Mr Sheafer was too nice to not give me any credits- Laurent). Sound wise as far as the bonus tracks are concerned, they are the same quality as the NMG Entertainment pressing; meaning the bonus tracks have the charm from the demo-era still intact. Since MESHUGGAH became a hyped band, any band that has a sloppy sense of timing is called technical. ATHEIST is the world's greatest authentic extreme technical Death Metal band. Think of the kick ass aspects of vintage METALLICA, WATCHTOWER, SLAYER, DEATH, RUSH and MERCYFUL FATE fused with the virtuosity that would but the so-called guitar gods (Malmsteem, Vai, Satriani) to shame. If some poser/ asshole told me to my face, that ATHEIST "Piece Of Time" is not in the top 50 of all Metal albums ever released in Metals 35 year history, I would break their nose, and split wide open their slanderous mouth. And then I would try not to slip in the posers AIDS infested blood. (10)
Unquestionable Presence (re-release)
ATHEIST "Unquestionable Presence" did not suffer from the 'slow down syndrome' that effected the Power Metal and Thrash Metal movements. Alongside MORBID ANGEL, ATHEIST is perhaps the most important bands that came from Florida Death Metal movement, which included such killer and lethal bands such as DEATH, CYNIC, NOCTURNUS, MASSACRE, MORBID ANGEL and ATHEIST. METALLICA in 1986 lost their legendary bassist Cliff Burton in a bus accident, ATHEIST also had their legendary bassist killed this way, but unlike Cliff Burton who appeared on three official albums and two EPs, Roger Patterson, only appeared on one official album. But Roger Patterson does appear on this reissue because of the bonus tracks that are from demo sessions that predate the official release of "U.P.". "U.P." to the untrained ear and uncritical mind. Wrong wrongly think this band suffers a "slow down syndrome" when in all reality all your ears notices is that Roger Patterson was one of a kind bassist; in a one of a kind world class Death Metal band. Only the new bassist did not have the same approach/ attack as Roger Patterson original had. I also noticed the same thing with Jason Newsted of METALLICA when he replaced Cliff Burton in Metallica, four years earlier to the release " U.P.". The line up for "U.P." is Kelly Shaefer, Rand Burkey, Tony Choy (CYNIC) on bass, and Steve Flynn. ATHEIST is one of the bands in the world to have the debut and the sophomore album in the top 50 albums of all time in the 35-year history of Heavy Metal. Ula Gehret does the insert booklet again like "Piece Of Time". Even through there are tons of rare and exclusive and rare photos, ATHEIST and Relapse had the strange and bizarre oversight of not having Laurent Ramadier do the liner notes. Nine bonus tracks are included and making this reissue essential. All the original eight tracks appear in the bonus material, giving this reissues the double play classic vibe that Megaforce Records, in association with Caroline Records gave to EXCITER "Heavy Metal Maniac" and "Violence And Force" on CD in 1989. Which I have to mention that "Piece of Time /Unquestionable Presence" was pressed on CD in the double play classic format around the same time the Relapse Reissues, appered on the market. So for 2005 the ATHEIST titles to pick up are " Piece Of Time" Relapse Records, "Unquestionable Presence" Relapse Records and "Elements" Relapse Records.
Live Kreation (2 CD)
German thrash resurgence complete, especially considering the DESTRUCTION/ SODOM/ KREATOR dream package that hit mainland Europe, it doesn't shock me that the band would come forth with a 24 track/ 100 minute plus live set. KREATOR have evolved from thrash to industrial edged power and back to thrash again throughout their long 20 year plus career. "Live Kreation" captures a mature act still hungering to play raw, uncompromising thrash for the world masses, as the recordings span the globe from Korea to Brazil among exotic locations. The set list contains heavy focus on the last studio offering "Violent Revolution" as well as later day efforts "Extreme Aggressions" and "Coma Of Souls", although the band does dip back into classic cuts like "Tormentor", "Flag Of Hate", "Riot Of Violence" and "Terrible Certainty". The crowds chant along with all the surging rhythms, and thumbs up must be given to all musicians (key noted by drummer Jurgen "Ventor" Reil, who makes me wonder what his legs must be like after this punishing performance). Excellent recordings and I await their return to US shores in the fall. (8 out of 10 points)
"Return To Heaven Denied" really hit the public hard, showcasing another Italian power troop that could really combine skill, agility and grace with memorable songwriting. Since then they've yet to really live up to that benchmark- until now. Clocking in at just over 52 minutes, this 4th self titled studio platter churns out 10 songs that features some of the best riffing, solos and melodies the band has laid down to date. Storming forth with "The Prophet" and two songs later offering the fist flailing guitar hooky "This World", LABYRINTH prove easily that Olaf Thorsen's departure has not weakened this unit's style in the slightest. If anything, the remaining quintet strive to move into much more refreshing original waters, with thrash overtones in the bridge sections of "Livin' In A Maze" and the throwback keyboard/piano tones throughout all the songs. Most power bands of late stand locked in one drum tempo, one high melody range, or one preferred musical arrangement- but not so in LABYRINTH's case. Favorites include the triplet fueled "Just Solider (Stay Down)" and slightly progressive "Hand In Hand" which probably illustrates the wide capabilities of vocalist Roberto Tiranti best. Highly invigorating, LABYRINTH hopefully can continue this precedent of not settling for genre norms and branching off to create masterpieces- as the public will not grow tired of this effort too soon. (9 out of 10 points)
Scent Of Human Desire
4th album and debut offering on Nuclear Blast- the label that keeps throwing out power metal efforts and seeing what sticks to the wall over what really needs to be heard. Italy's SECRET SPHERE recently landed a slot on Prog Power USA's 4th installment, but "Scent Of Human Desire" doesn't really capture my headspace as its by the textbook power (high inflection melodies and riding double bass) minus any dynamic musical performances. From "1000 Eyes' Show" to "Runaway Train" there wasn't anything to propel these 11 songs beyond average fare, as I'm severely disappointed by the conservative lackluster drum performance and the preferred mid tempo pacing within the majority of the songs. Only "Surrounding" which contains a quick lifting guitar refrain and a VICIOUS RUMORS like melody made this album gain repeated listenings. Bargain bin quickly- SECRET SPHERE need to rethink their musical plan or they will be led to pasture (2 out of 10 points)
Gaining a label deal while ditching any vocals, CANVAS SOLARIS remain a trio of expansive progressive proportions. 4 instrumentals that clock in between 6:12 and 7:16 means a dizzying array of riff combinations, arrangements that at one point recall the somber moments of an Allan Holdsworth record (the latter third of opener "Camera Obscura") and at other times plow headlong into KING CRIMSON meets WATCHTOWER avenues ("Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation" in its entirety). Guitar, bass and drums play lead instruments separately and simultaneously while I drop my jaw at how the band can remember the mathematical tempo swinging, let alone make each instrumental flow without seeming cumbersome or self-serving. An EP at 27 minutes, this one gives renewed hope that all has not been awash in technical metal. Cheers to Nathan Sapp (guitars/guitar synth), Ben Simpkins (guitar/bass) and Hunter Ginn (drums/percussion) - thumbs up as well to Tribunal for giving CANVAS SOLARIS a chance to further its obvious talent to the independent masses. Honestly if you enjoy musical mastery in metal, you'd be hard pressed to find a better act than this. (9.5 out of 10)
Contact: Tribunal Records- PO Box 49322- Greensboro, NC- 27419-1322 USA Web: http://www.tribunalrecords.com
Everyone of the few real Metal supporters who watched and heard Brian Ross and co. at the Wacken festival 2002 was deeply impressed by the power and the Metal spirit of this NWoBHM legend. There they played some songs out of "Absolute Power". An absolute highlight along with HEATHEN in Wacken, an absolute highlight in BLITZKRIEG's long lasting career! The heaviness increased quite a lot, early JUDAS PRIEST mixed with Brian's unique voice. Be it "Metalizer", "Dark City", "The Face Of Death" or . guitarist Tony Liddle who wrote most of these 12 tracks created a helluva British Metal record. What a great Metal band!
Rising To Challenge
Yes! At last a young Metal band that plays their Metal fast, furious, powerful and with huge balls. SOLITAIRE are based in Finland and are a cross between EXCITER - hear the Dan Beehler-like screaming (who else sounds like early EXCITER nowadays?) , and A LOT of AGENT STEEL in their Speed Metal approach. Non-compromising Metal, some might call it dated or simply can not understand that this kind of music has the ultimate Metal power. Don't believe those deaf unbelievers!!! SOLITAIRE present the past, the present and the future in Heavy Metal.
Heavy Metal Thunder
Be it MAIDEN, PRIEST or even the wimpy METALLICA, no one of the bigger Metal outfits can compete with these veterans. SAXON set the standard and everyone who heard them on their last tour or on the festivals last year will share my opinion. "Heavy Metal Thunder" comes as a double CD and contains 13 re-recorded classics (from "Princess Of The Night" to "Denim & Leather) and on the second mini CD five live tracks and one video track ("Killing Ground" live at Wacken 2001 where they ruled). Some might say the limited "Killing Ground" album with eight re-recorded classics already featured some of this stuff. Bullshit. The great cover, the mini-CD and five more classics make it worth every hard earned penny. This is Heavy Metal proudness!
A killer release. After firing Rob Rock and the last too modern sounding album I had serious doubts that Chris Impellitteri can come up with another "Answer To The Master" or "Screaming Symphony". He can! With hiring Graham Bonnet (RAINBOW, recently on the best-of ANTHEM gem) again, Chris wrote some of his best material ever. More speedy and some insane Jake E. Lee riffing ("Bark At The Moon") as well as out-of-this-world leads Graham and Chris create a traditional Metal album as I love it. Some DIO-esque arrangements ("She's A Nighttime Lover") - as on every IMPELLITTERI record - make "System X" even more like a shining diamond in a trendy Nu "Metal" desert. Hear "Rock N' Roll Heroes" or "United We Stand" (oh man, this is insane!) or "Perfect Crime" or. as said - a killer Heavy Metal album!
Texas Metal rules! And US Metal is still alive with such tremendous music coming out of the US Metal underground. Classic Metal with a powerful high-pitched singer, few complex parts but mainly straight-forward high-class Metal. There are only four songs on this EP, all four are some of the best material from the States since quite a long time. "Eternal Damnation", "Meltdown", "Left To Die" and "Marcy Celeste", produced by David Wayne (ex-METAL CHURCH), proud Metal in trendy times. Must-have for US Metal maniacs! Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.byfist.com or Saba Records, P.O. Box 1098, Helotes, USA.
Law Of The Blade
"Steelbound" already became a German Metal classic, "Law Of The Blade" has it all as well. Astonishing how good the Hamburg based outfit created another Power Metal attack with lots of peculiar arrangements. Be it the PRIEST-ish "Abducted", the power shuffle riff on "Armies Of The Tyrant", the atmospheric "Shadow World" with a killer refrain, .. this underrated outfit combine the old PRIEST heaviness, the METAL CHURCH power and the old HELLOWEEN choruses, always with tons of balls and spirit. If you search for an outstanding German Metal album, forget RUNNING WILD or GRAVE DIGGER, go for "Law Of The Blade".
Snowball Of Doom - Live At The Whisky
"All right Hollywood, would you please welcome from the halls of justice, the super-heroes of Rock'n'Roll - RACER X". A best-of live from the 80's all-star L.A. rockers. Paul Gilbert, Jeff Martin, Scott Travis and John Alderete play 13 furious versions out of their fundus, "Let The Spirit Fly", "Street Lethal", "Into The Night", "Hammer Away" or "Fire Of Rock", and a cover from "Godzilla". Raw live power, extreme musicianship, lots of heavy drums and riff attacks, insane leads, Jeff's rough power voice, intense atmosphere. Essential stuff.
Still Going Strong
Lips and Robb Reiner, two musicians who survived all trends and hypes. The Speed Metal veterans go mid-tempo since three albums and "Still Going Strong" name their game: the mighty, powerful produced opener "Race Against Time", the groove monster "In Hell", the hectic "Defiant" or the very old-school title track, they came up with some really strong songs this time. Not all tracks are of this extraordinary quality and a drum solo on a studio record isn't soooo useful, is it? Congratulations to Lips for another real Metal work - I enjoy it a lot!
Between Heaven And Hell
Ex-KENZINER vocalist and the DREAM EVIL guitarist joined forces and what's the result? A high quality neo-classical Power Metal album. One killer track with "Warrior" only and 12 quite near standing songs, but lots of great guitar harmonies, high-pitched US Metal-like vocals and songwriting without too much noodling from top notch musicians. FIREWIND know their stuff and for a debut, this is mind-storming good. If you are into MALMSTEEN with more balls and more metallic spirit, go for this.
Starting as a side project of SOILWORK and DARKANE members, TERROR 2000 are the better alternative to their main bands. Their extreme Thrash Metal with following KREATOR, EXODUS, DESTRUCTION comes direct without compromises, expertly played, well produced and with enough speed and emotion. "I'm Speed At Night" and "Menace Of Brutality" can be used as prime examples of how enjoyable newer outfits can play old-school Thrash. TERROR 2000 - a name to remark in the Thrash Metal field.
Rage To Revenge
Belgium's SLAYER. "Rage To Revenge" offers classic riffing like Araya and co. wrote twelve years ago, double bass to the book and two singers, a growling one and a thrashy one. The border to Death Metal is sometimes near but never overstepped. Listen to "Violence & Hatred" and you get what you miss from SLAYER after the "Seasons In The Abyss" record.
Wrecking Everything Live
A Thrash constant since "Feel The Fire"- the recent OVERKILL studio works with their development in (too) groovy Thrash was always hidden by their amazing live performance which is besides SLAYER still the non-plus-ultra in the THRASH Metal field. No doubt. "Wrecking Everything" shows the immense power OVERKILL can create when destroying live. From standards ("In Union We Stand", "Overkill", "Deny The Cross", "Shred" to late not as interesting 90's stuff ("It Lives", "Bleed Me") Blitz and D.D. Verni play their heart out, hopefully they find their way back to their roots with the next studio recording. Live they can hardly be beaten - hear this one.
Sands Of Time
Australia does not have many bands in the Metal roster, but most of the few they have are excellent. BLACK MAJESTY (out of the PEGAZUS camp) combine old QUEENSRYCHE with newer STRATOVARIUS in a very recommendable way and top notch musicianship. Three tracks with "Fall Of The Reich", "Guardian" and "Beyond Reality" should be the right appetizer for a record deal. Contact: email@example.com or Black Majesty, P.O. Box 116, Epping, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3076
US Metal lives, look at BYFIST. Or KATEGORY V. Here we have the traditional US Metal sector, like old ones like GARGOYLE, early SAVATAGE or APOLLO RA. Create a simple but effective riff (lots of old SAVATAGE in there, excellent!), add a typical US Metal singer (means powerful, high and sometimes aggressive), some shouted refrains, a cheap production and you have KATEGORY V. The second part of the album is not as forceful as the first five songs, nevertheless well-done indeed.
A shame it is. Bands as TALAMASCA have no deal and tons of average groups get signed because they play a more commercial type of Metal. First class Progressive Power Metal, with lots of FATES WARNING/HELSTAR/PSYCHOTIC WALTZ in there, is delivered. No fan of the Texas Metal movement or the mentioned WALTZ should miss this piece of fine complex US Metal. A gem it is. Hopefully a potent label wakes up and signs this band. Justice in Metal, let's go on dreaming.
Evilution Part III - Nemesis
Their previous cover record was highly enjoyable stuff. With Part III they release their own best material so far. Old ANTHRAX riffing ("Got Milk?" or "Call Of Freedom"), at the border of Power to Thrash Metal, Andy Brings (ex-SODOM) and his three piece outfit increased the heavy factor a lot, the German Metal melodies got skipped luckily and the dry production makes it even heavier. POWERGOD will soon release their second tribute to the 80's, should be a high caliber record again.
(Cult Metal Classics)
Some might remember the deceased Steel Conjuring magazine. Editor Manos Koufakis and a friend of his founded Cult Metal Classics that have released some 80's gems on vinyl and CD so far (VILLAIN, BLACK KNIGHT, VALHALLA). ELWING, a young Greek based band, is their first new signing and a really good one. Their kind of epic Metal in the vein of BLIND GUARDIAN and WARLORD sounds not as copycat-ish as their models as far too many others do, they manage their own touch to the crystal clear produced eleven songs. A recommendable debut, expertly arranged songs, enough power and a progressive medieval background give "Immortal Stories" hopefully a good exposure on an over-flooded scene.
Screams Of The Innocent
I was surprised about this peculiar Seattle based US Metal band who were local heroes in the Seattle area in 80's and only appeared on the Northwest Metalfest compilation - they played in Wacken this year with a good perfomance and release their first official record (kinda strange after so many years, isn't it?) in 2002 (all tracks were originally recorded in 1986). "Screams Of The Innocent" delivers rough US Metal which will satisfy all US Metal maniacs. It isn't of the same class as - for instance - the recently released APOLLO RA killer album "Ra Pariah" or the RELLIK re-release. But the ten tracker (plus three live addings, but two of these three are a guitar and drum solo, so quite senseless) has enough quality and class to guarantee some enjoyable minutes of 80's Metal. In these trendy times this is more than we normally get. Not more to say.
Warriors Of The World
Entering the German charts at position 2, even entering the Austrian charts and in many other countries, their comeback album after tons of best-of, live and re-release cash-ins, sells immensely. Is it that good? The opener "Call To Arms" crushes in as a typical MANOWAR mid-paced songs, excellently produced, with Eric Adams singing in best-form. "The Fight For Freedom" can not hold this standard, an average song with a kind of happy refrain. The cover "Nessun Dorma"" is a nice example that Eric Adams can sing classical stuff, not more. The interlude "Valhalla" should be skipped. "Swords In The Wind" with its epic, doomy and dramatic melodies is the highlight for me and proving that poser DeMaio still can write killer songs. "An American Trilogy" - again a - patriotic and cheesy - cover, the downer of the album. After the un-necessary intro "The March", the first single "Warriors Of The World United" unites all Metal fans with "we are the elite" lyrics and a very simple beat, yet with a killer refrain. Perfect for a Metal party. The last three songs, the faster "Hand Of Doom" and " House Of Death" and the simple structured yet effective "Fight Until We Die", luckily show the more powerful side,all three are of highest quality. So, you see (or know already), it goes highly up and deep down.
No, no, I will not slay HAMMERFALL for being successful. Why should I? I still like their debut quite a lot. Their two follow-ups were not of this quality and in fact average, luckily "Crimson Thunder" comes close to "Glory To The Brave", thickly produced by Charlie Bauernfeind, and offering more heavy riffing and not as light-weighted arrangements than on "Renegade". Cans will never become a vocalist with balls and power, everyone knows that and with a more Metal-sounding singer, this one would be of highest quality, with him it isn't.
Prayer For The Dying
Mike Tirelli (ex-HOLY MOTHER and BURNING STARR) is back. Joining the band - all the other musicians are based in Germany and play traditional to the bones Metal in the vein of ACCEPT, SAXON and JUDAS PRIEST (when they were Metal). The riffing is simple, straight forward, the melody-lines mainly riff-oriented and the music itself like PRIMAL FEAR old-school. The right background for Mike's blistering power vocals, the diamonds in his voice can transport their world-class on songs as "Thunderball" or "Reign Of Fire". Excellent. The use of permament double bass (like most bands use the drums now) is a bit too much - less would be more in this case. Nevertheless - a hot band!
Turn To Stone
You know PENTAGRAM more than well if you read Laurent's two monster interviews about this Doom legend. Their old label releases a best-of from their Peaceville albums and the 17 songs present the unique slow Metal sound. For everyone who wants to discover the peculiar music of PENTAGRAM quite a perfect start. You won't regret to get doomed!
My favorite label. With Iron Glory on the backcover you can be sure that the silver disc contains Metal. Real Metal. The full-length debut offers old-school Metal from SAXON (vocal department, double leads, riffing) to old RUNNING WILD (arrangements, melody lines). "Take Revenge", "Run For Your Life", "Daze Of Avalon" will be a tasteful menu for all headbangers out there who recognize that real Metal went underground in these days, no big production can be awaited, no Thrash or Speed Metal, traditional Metal to the bones. Well-done.
This is only a two-track mini, produced by Victor Smolski (now RAGE). Their fresh Power/Thrash Metal mix on "Architect Of Misfortune" and "Was It Worth It" in the vein of SACRED REICH (if someone knows a contact to Phil Rind, please let us know!) is highly enjoyable and a very promising Metal cocktail. I hope a label opens the ears for one of THE hopefuls out of Germany. Available for 5 Euro from: Else's Metal Mailorder, Schinkenfeldweg 9, 59457 Werl, Germany or www.elses-metal-mailorder.com
Wicked Is My Game
Mixing old-school Thrash from KREATOR and VENOM (attitude and vocals) with a MOTÖRHEAD-ish Rock'n'Roll feeling can be delightful - hear RAISE HELL. This young outfit has lots of power and their positive development astonishes me after the not necessary Black Metal influenced debut. The right way - go on mates!
Twilight On Humanity
New York's finest Power Metal band in these trendy days. Ex-GOTHIC KNIGHTS singer George Tsalikis hired a fine guitar based band and came up with a "true" US Power Metal album in the vein of old JAG PANZER with a typical clear yet powerful US Metal voice and riff-oriented songs. Laurent will disagree here, but ZANDELLE should be able to draw some younger Americans who have enough of the media overkill by the majors, selling disgusting Nu "Metal" bands as Heavy Metal. All power to ZANDELLE for succeeding in.
First Beams Of Light
Dark Heavy Metal. These Germans have my deep sympathy mixing traditional Metal with somewhat older PARADISE LOST melodies. On the re-recorded collection of their first two demos and a cover-version from WARLORD's "Deliver Us" their heavier Power Metal side is luckily dominant. Looking at the current line-up I did not discover the two guitarists, are they gone? "First Beams Of Light" - a worthy re-recording as I do not own the two demos and the crystal clear sound makes their quite original music even more recommended. Very good one.
That was fast, after their comeback last year and the re-releases Mark Shelton and co. release their new album. Supported by an excellent medieval cover motive, the four piece (Bryan Hellroadie Patrick on vocals) creates another unique epic Metal record. MANILLA ROAD will never become everybody's darling and I read tons of negative reviews of their music in the 80's. More than ten years later, they get rave reviews in the same magazines with the same albums. So, their die-hard following will buy "Spiral Castle", hopefully one or another curious listener gets in their ranks as well, more than 6.000 copies sold of "Astral Rising" should be only the beginning of receiving gold status in ten years...
The last MEGADETH album? I am not sure and I can not understand why someone can injure himself so badly that he has to end his musical life with the double live CD "Rude Awakening" (at least officially and for some time). The kind of best-of comes surprisingly rough produced and with only few overdubs, it can not be confound with the early MEGADETH times with Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson. At least a live recording with Marty Friedman instead of Al Pitrelli would have fit better. Classics such as "Wake Up Dead" or "Devil's Island" can not fail in the end, the band itself seemed to be burned out the last years, missing the innovative songwriting and the complex catchiness of the first four albums. Mustaine's singing part on "Rude Awakening" can not be seen as a highlight, and on the trendy overseas market the sales went completely down, was this the reason for ending it that soon?
Ego-Yngwie hired a strong line-up with ex-RAINBOW singer Dougie White (excellent performance!) and wrote some SONGS after the production fiasco of the predecessor and the weaker songwriting on the last three albums. With the opener "Razor Eater", the speedy "Rise Up", the melodic "Ship Of Fools" or the heavy title track the RAINBOW resemblances shine through strongly. The un-necessary but Yngwie-logical three instrumentals among the 15 songs could be skipped, although the rest of the material is forcing enough to make this one at least a recommendable Malmsteen record.
Kent Robertson, former guitarist of RELLIK, founded this oddly named group and on "Dead Again" he is singing as well. ARMORED SAINT with some more groovy parts is delivered. Traditional US Heavy Metal, with a dry production and some fine leads, but with few modern touches. The songwriting is not top class as well as the production. I partly like that one, not more, some killer riffing is missed and all in all it's far from being bad, but far from being a highlight too.
Who can reach a higher commercial status in the Progressive Power Metal field? The name SYMPHONY X stands in the first line here. There's only few steps to go for this outfit. "The Odyssey" offers one side whose face I do not like. The riffing this time is very staccato based, sometimes even PANTERA-ish. Being aggro, melodious and progressive has to fail. Singer Russell Allen, songwriter Michael Romeo and the other band members still have their strengths, and "Accolade II" or the 24:09 running title track offers enough quality for their fan base. But the aggro riffing made it hard to believe for me, that SYMPHONY X is the same band I saw killing live in Augsburg three years ago. Schnüff.
No BullshitJust Metal!
Mixing 80's RUNNING WILD and older RAGE in 2002. This Italian outfit stand near to the two old German bands and whereas the music is old RUNNING WILD based, singer Marco Colombo could be the more aggressive little brother of Peavey. Uh. With this rough sounding four tracker HYADES should soon find a potent label - just Metal, right. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
How many bands run under the moniker SOLITUDE? Not an original choice indeed. SOLITUDE from Japan heard a lot of RUNNING WILD before going to the studio. They have the same melody lines and approach combined with rough vocals fit. The only 36:38 running record is a recommendable start for this four-piece. Contact: email@example.com
I read a very unfair review of "Hastings 1066" in Rock Hard magazine. If you like it or not, to treat a whole genre so unfair whereas putting SOULFLY on the cover and featuring tons of other trendy bands to sell some more mags, is not very Metal. It's evident here that THY MAJESTIE made a big improvement to the weak debut. It's evident that their RHAPSODY influences got so strong that it can be spoken of a copy and it's evident that bombastic Metal needs a bit more power to lighten my ears. So, this is okay stuff for me, for RHAPSODY lunatics a hot tip.
I am a long time supporter of Pell's melodic Metal sound, he always had excellent singers (the current Johnny Gioeli as well) and was extremely near to a metallic RAINBOW sound. "Shadow Zone" and "Masquerade Ball" were more melodic and catchy than its predecessors and sold very well. A more than 95 minute running double cd with only 11 songs, including a long drum solo, one from the keyboarder and lots of guitar solos, is that really necessary? Or is it an easy cash-in with recording one show at the Zeche in Bochum? I am not sure about this, the sound is rough, the performance well played (of course with this line-up), but the songs with long running times have to catch your mind which is not enough the case here, not as RAINBOW did with their "On Stage" masterpiece. "Knights Live" is an okay live album, not more.
I admit - I was never into their Hard Rock sound in the 80's and I still am not. A friend of mine who loves their older works, is disappointed from "The Artefact" and said to me that this is not the DOMAIN he knows of. Could be an explanation why I find no difference to the armada of average Hard Rock releases in these days, hearing and forgetting, that's the result here as on lots of similar albums. Not bad, not good, you have the clue.
Curse Of the Absolute Eclipse
Releasing the new album on a potent label for the first time and right after they disband. Odd, isn't it? I never was a supporter of the HELLHAMMER clones, simply for the fact that I never was into the Swiss 80's cult. I can remember when Metal Forces gave CELTIC FROST for one of their albums 0 out of 100 points and I could understand that. Well, this one is not that bad, but still no one to look out for me, HELLHAMMER lunatics may disagree, just a matter of (good?) taste.
After the great "Messiah" and the letdown "Book Of The Dead" (I never understood the rave reviews for that one), "Unseen" should be the clearer album in which direction Steve Kachinsky and his mates go. It's the wrong way. Only one stand out song with "Mirror, Mirror, Life After Life", too much balladesque stuff, far too much synth-guitars and modern influences, non-inspiring songwriting. No surprise that singer Rick left the band soon after the recording. Hopefully there's life for these US Metal veterans after this letdown and they can find a replacement for Rick who seems to be irreplaceable.
The Last Millenium
Watching (and hearing) these Germans at a gig in Innsbruck with ART OF FEAR (excellent), TAD MOROSE (killer) and DEMON (good) their problem became more than obvious: okay melodic Metal songs with a good, skilled singer, an average drummer, an okay bassist and a guitarist whose swirling guitar sound, be it live or in the studio, unnerved me after a few minutes. "The Last Millenium" shows these points as well and so it's hard to recognize the somewhat motivated band by having such a terrible guitar sound.
What makes the difference between German Thrashers as FINAL BREATH and WITCHBURNER? The traditional factor. The Thrash/Death mix from FINAL BREATH lacks in enough old-school feeling whereas WITCHBURNER know the roots of German Thrash Metal and perform it that way. People who do not give a shit about roots and old-school feeling, might disagree with my opinion, I do not care.
I thought ARACHNES were on the right way to achieve some success with their STRATOVARIUS-like sound. "Apocalypse" does not follow this path, more RHAPSODY-ish arrangements, lots of lead guitar oriented stuff and too little good songwriting on this one. A pity because this outfit is skilled and the musicians top notch.
A Blur In Time
Kurt Vanderhoof and Kirk Arrington once were members of the mighty METAL CHURCH. After the wrong placed comeback with the weak "Masterpeace", the disaster headliner gig at the Wacken festival and the solo album called "Metal Church" from singer Wayne, METAL CHURCH is dead. VANDERHOOF with those two MC members is a total other sounding band - no Power Metal, no Heavy Metal either, kind of 70's Hard Rock, URIAH HEEP meets AEROSMITH. If you are into this stuff, this might be enjoyable, for people into more metallic stuff, nothing special worth checking out.
Breath Of Life
I awaited too much from MAGNUM. Their heydays from mid-80's are gone and both Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin can not write classics like "Jerusalem" or "Don't Wake The Lion" more than ten years later. The spirit is gone. "Breath Of Life" reminds on the late, weaker MAGNUM records, not bad of course, but still weak in comparison to their classics. 12 okay songs, no stand out one, simply too little for their immense songwriting talent.
Sword & Sorcery
I disagree with the rave reviews MAJESTY got in the German press. Very nice cover-artwork, a good mid-range singer, enjoyable mid-tempo MANOWAR-ish stuff on the one hand, but on the other too plain songwriting with lots of refrain repeats, both a weak drummer and bassist (watching them live I know what to speak of, both are amateurs to the book). As it is the second album of a hopeful German Metal band, "Sword & Sorcery" is a bit of a letdown for me. If this is the new real Metal generation, good night. Go for SOLITAIRE instead!
The Brotherhood Live 2002
Rock'n'Rolf lost his Metal spirit! No news since the disappointing "Victory". "The Brotherhood" features a drum computer again (what the heck did Rolf think to give this shit a special thanks with "Angelo for best drums ever"?) and you can hear this totally cold sound with deaf ears (what the heck did Rolf think to refuse that Angelo Sasso is a drum computer?). Apart from that weak point, the songwriting lacks in any power and speed, featuring some okay mid-tempo stuff only. If RUNNING WILD wants to live on without getting a second JUDAS PRIEST, the next one has to become a lot stronger, future will show. The double live CD "The Brotherhood Live" with its 19 tracks, recorded in Osnabrück, shows no news to me. An easy cash in from my view, only to record one show with an okay sound after two of their weakest studio records ("Victory" and "The Brotherhood") this patient is still ill.
Dead Soul Tribe
Buddy, singer of the deceased PSYCHOTIC WALTZ, lives in Vienna now and founded a new band there called DEAD SOUL TRIBE. TOOL meets newer PSYCHOTIC WALTZ could be an adequate description, though it can not compete with Buddy's lost semi-legend. The singing is unique as it was, the music a bit too modern for my ignorant taste, modern Progressive Metal if you want to call it, like a more straight PAIN OF SALVATION version.
Through The Storm
A hard one to review. I am a RIOT supporter since the mid 80's and could accept the newer more melodic Hard Rock direction, of course preferring "Fire Down Under", "Thundersteel" or "Privilege Of Power" over it. The RAINBOW touch on "Inishmore" or "Sons Of Society" is repeated on "Through The Storm" and gets a bit boring to me. Mike DiMeo and Mark Reale wrote a classic Hard Rock album again, no trends or hypes here at all and I am fond of hearing the whole album, still thinking of the gone Power Metal times and losing one tear for that nostalgia.
A Nightmare Story
The first one "Warchants & Fairytales" in 2000 was nothing more than the typical happy Metal crap. Hence it's a big surprise how good their second got. The fat produced "A Nightmare Story" begins with the thunder-storming and speedy "Grimbor The Great", followed by the old HELLOWEEN riffer "Arrival", the mid-paced "The Dark Side", fine double leads in "The Saviour" or the fast "Battle Of Minds". Singer Pasi Humppi (funny name) should use more low ranges in general as it unnerves to hear his shrieking all the time whereas with the very nice cover artwork another plus can be added to their European Power Metal - all in all an impressive improvement and near to the border of above average if there would be a not so nerving voice.
"Condition Red" - just another German Metal sounding album? For me, yes. The difference between PARAGON's "Law Of The Blade" (which Piet produced excellent) and "Condition Red" lies in the immense power IRON SAVIOR is lacking in. Good songs, good production, good performance, what's the problem I have here? Hard to explain. Piet Sielck and his Hamburg connection have had some problems on the live side also and watching their gig at the Heavy Oder Was festival confirmed the lack of any live charisma. The same situation happened to me with "Condition Red", I am searching for the Metal spirit and can not find it here. Hopefully you do.
We Will Rise
The lead guitarist of HAMMERFALL releases his side-project which presents a kind of disease in the current Metal scene. The melodic Metal cocktail is enjoyable and well played. Singer Niclas Johnsson with his clear voice and the music between TREAT and TNT has shining moments ("Force Of The World" - song number eleven!). So far the positive sides. Most of the songwriting sounds like second hand material for his main band - no problem to hear the full album but after doing it (except song #11) you ask yourself - did you like that or not and you do not know an answer.
In this case DORO played the model role. The quite powerful female voice sounds good, if only the songwriting would be more convincing, the riffing is not metallic, more with a rock'n'roll feeling and so TWYSTER disappear with their too easy listening album. A strong female singer is not enough for a recommendation......
Tribute To The Gods
No, not again. The ICED EARTH back-catalog gets raped in an inadequate manner, lots of useless re-releases, box-sets, etc.. I understand that CM wants to make some money with their best-sellers leaving, but for fans it's mainly a pain in the ass. At least the cover CD delivers nearly all cover-versions ICED EARTH have recorded so far. In my opinion they should stop doing mediocre remakes of popular Metal hits. There's no use in playing the 1,000.000 version of "Highway To Hell", "Screaming For Vengeance" or "Gods Of Thunder". Go back and record another "Night Of The Stormrider" instead....
Prophet Of The Last Eclipse
What's the difference between RHAPSODY and Luca's solo band? I do not hear any. An other, yet similar sounding singer and a bit less bombastic arrangements - that's not enough to give this project (?) enough justice for its existence. The EP "Demonheart" consists of four okay own tracks, one interlude and the - what a big sensation - HELLOWEEN cover "I'm Alive") whereas the full length "Prophet Of The Last Eclipse" offers 10 tracks ("Demonheart" included). Turilli is a skilled song-writer and his neo-classical play by far not bad, only - where's the sense behind doing RHAPSODY and his personal project which sounds nearly the same? Please explain this to me! It would make far more sense to concentrate on his main RHAPSODY career and pushing that one forward with his full power. So the side-project disease goes on and on in today's Metal scene. Those were the times....
Long Way Home
Don and his hired backing band, this time with John Norum and without Jeff Pilson, are not to confound with the 80's Hard Rockers DOKKEN.... the sound changed too much for comparisons with "Under Lock And Key". "Erase The Slate" was more old DOKKEN without reaching the quality but "Long Way Home" isn't. Luckily it doesn't sound neither modern nor trendy. Don can write songs, no doubt, his BEATLES-like arrangements, with few heavy guitars, create a motivated Classic Rock album, with only two Hard Rockers ("Sunsless Days" and "Under The Gun"). It shows the more basic, the more smooth side of Don Dokken, not the (little more welcomed) heavier one.
When God Turned Away
What a silly name. Mandy Lion released his debut "World War Three" in 1990 and then he became a kind of cult person in the L.A. scene. Apart from that his second one, with Joe Floyd (WARRIOR) as a producer as well as guitarist, offers groovy mid-paced Metal with Lion's rough vocals (reminding a lot on GRAVE DIGGER). Really not bad but the WARRIOR track "Fighting For The Earth" is the best one of the 10 songs, no original track stands out and that's too little for 12 years of waiting.
Breaking The Chains
The Johansson brothers and founding member Jonas Hanson release a "new" SILVER MOUNTAIN. New? Not really. Early demo material as well as re-recorded stuff from their three 80's records ("Shakin' Brains", "Universe" and "Roses And Champagne") is featured, offering okay 70's sounding keyboard-ish Hard Rock in the vein of early RAINBOW, BTO and URIAH HEEP (without reaching their models in any second). For 70's Hard Rock supporters a worthy investment, not for all of us into more Metal.
Hollowed By Thy Name
Not "Hallowed By...". The German melodicsters increase both - the guitars and the keyboards. The SAVATAGE-like arrangements taste good , but when they tend to be another AOR/Hard Rock act, the keys make it hard to follow their path. There are some good songs on their third record like the title track or "Speed Of Life", on the other hand the too clean and German sounding vocals and the aforementioned up-front mixed keyboards are two negative points which rates "Hollowed By Thy Name" in the average class, not more.
The third album - will this be a make it or break one for SYMPHORCE after the success of BRAINSTORM (the other band from singer Andy Franck)? Hard to answer. After two traditional to the bones sounding records, "Phorcefulahead" is different. Modern Power Metal, comparable to a light-weighted NEVERMORE version, some useless staccato riffing and mainly non-spectacular songs make it hard to believe in a break-through. The singing is excellent again - reminding on Harry The Tyrant Conklin. Plus and minus - the result is in the middle, a bit of a letdown for me.
Combining Bay Area Thrash riffs, TESTAMENT-like melodies and vocal arrangements and aggro Metal influences from FEAR FACTORY to PANTERA is DARKANE's field. On "Expanding Senses" with a very nice cover artwork the musicians show again that both the drummer and the guitarists are among the elite of the new generation. And with "The Fear Of One's Self" they wrote their best song so far. What a pity that they use the aggressive staccato riffing too much for my taste, otherwise we would have the second THE HAUNTED here. I confess - more tolerant Thrashers such as myself should give them a serious listen.
The Way I Go
Japanese RACER X with MALMSTEEN noodling. Musician-wise a mindstormer, vocal-wise an unnerving thing. The constant shrieking is the main negative part on "The Way I Go" which puts MASTERMIND (seems to be a popular name....) some steps down from what their expertly play does not deserve. A neo-classical feast but the vocals destroy a lot here.
Goddog Of Prey
After Mustaine had to disband his band, a German band starts their career as MEGADETH copyists. Although it is easy to admit that the three piece adds some MOTÖRHEAD-ish instrumental parts to the nasal vocals. So you know what to await - a fresh, quite powerful mix between those two models. Not bad at all, for MEGADETH lunatics who missed the power on their last five studio records.
Awaiting too much can easily cause disappointments. "Crucible" is one. "Resurrection" and the following live record were much more Metal than the last two PRIEST disasters. Again produced by Roy Z., the very basic production lacks in the full sound of "Resurrection", in particular Rob's voice is mixed dry and very natural as well as the drum sound of miracle drummer Bobby Jarzombek. The few left-overs of the "Rescurrection" times ("Betrayal", "Wrath Of Gods") are the best songs on "Crucible" whereas most stuff is not forcing enough ("Sun", "Weaving Sorrow", "Crystal"). We have to be honest - Rob Halford is not the same power singer anymore who gave "British Steel", "Sad Wings.." or "Painkiller" classic status and his two guitarists can not compete with the 80's Tipton/Downing.
A Swedish debut with lots of HAMMERFALL resemblances. The cover looks more powerful than the music is. Good musicians, some really okay songs and better than ZONATA for instance, only the power is missed mainly and the melodies are known from many others, you can change the band name and you have tons of other similar sounding bands. Too less impressive to stand above the average.
I have the feeling that this Danish outfit could deliver a killer record if they strengthen their capacity. So far they did not reach this aim. Progressive, powerful, skilled musicians, only - it is too near to BLIND GUARDIAN. And as I dislike the last GUARDIAN album (way too much overloaded), "Hyperion" offer the better alternative to older supporters of the Germans. The 7:36 running "Filaments Of Armageddon" should be the appetizer for their next record as it's the best track. Anyway, for BLIND GUARDIAN fans MANTICORA is a very promising band.
John West, ROYAL HUNT, ARTENSION and solo, hired Chris Caffery, Mike Chlasciak and Bobby Jarzombek (both from HALFORD) for his new solo album. And failed. The album goes from okay stuff ("Soul Of The Beast") to totally crappy modern Metal ("Sleep Of The Dead") to AOR-ballads; the line-up promised a good Metal album, it isn't. John - remember that Metal should transport feelings and power, both are missed here. Maybe I am a bit harsh with "Earth Maker" to put it in the Avoid league, but if you look at the talents of the musicians, it's a bigger letdown and so deserves a negative review.
Vera, Alder, Versailles and Parada could offer much more than writing and performing Emo-Metal in the vein of DEFTONES and other crappy bands. "Superholic" tends far more than the okay debut to the modern Metal direction, very sad. Look at this little all-star line-up and you can only be disappointed of the result.
Did this Italian outfit not play melodic Metal with keyboards? Now they increased the heaviness, even crossing the border to Thrash (with keyboards). As most of the Southern Europe bands, the singer is the weak point here. No expression, no power and the lack in any talent writing good melodic lines is deadly for uninspiring, cheaply produced albums like "Razorblade God".
Dance With The Witches
A disappointment. After the Wacken gig (which I sadly missed because ROTTWEILER played the same time - congrats to the organisers for this perfect schedule.) and the gig at the Summer Breeze festival, this one has nothing to do with their first three records and their dark, original German Metal. Hard Rock with a singer who sings out of key and missing the power. For a debut for a young band this would be okay, for a semi-legend this "comeback" failed. We do not need comebacks like this one - look at CANDLEMASS, this is the way 80's band should come back.
The Death Metal label Hammerheart signs a "true" Metal band. Nothing to complain if only the band itself would be better. MORIFADE started as BLIND GUARDIAN clones and now naming their powerless, far too happy music True Metal is an offense to real Metal bands from PARAGON to SOLITAIRE. Avoid to pieces.
(B. Mind Records)
Who needs a mix between annoying Gothic Metal and Progressive Metal? Not me and I think no one who reads our magazine. As the Gothic and depro parts are too dominant and overload the more Metal influences, there's no "Longevity" here.
Songs Of Silence - Live In Tokyo
Two studio records and one mini-ep and now a live album. No, that's by far too early for any live album and it looks like an easy cash-in here. Their neo-classical melodic Metal is not that bad, but the album itself should be banned because of its intention to make some cheap money out of a young band that is on the beginning to find their own personality.
Built To Destroy
It seems to get popular to mix old-school Thrash with modern elements. The Northern Europe outfit IN RAGS, founded by LOST SOULS members, tries that as well and the result is not as forcing as with similar bands as DARKANE or THE HAUNTED. Mainly the nerving, untalented vocals, far too loud in the mix too, and the below average song-writing are responsible for the thin output and so I recommend to find a real Thrash Metal vocalist soon. Then we can speak again.....
Wish For Destruction
The second BEHOLDER album is still the same. A female voice and a deeper male voice like LACUNA COIL use and some keyboard-esque bombastic/gothic Metal. I do not think that any Snakepit reader will be delighted in hearing "Wish For Destruction", at least I wasn't.
Here I Come
Strange cover - the half naked Ben himself with his guitar behind a kind of sweet Hawaii area. Igitt. The music does not fit to the cover as well. Cocky spandex Hard Rock in the vein of the hairy 80's L.A. bands with some Zeppelin guitars. Not my cup of tea in general. Ben, listen to the first RATT full-length or the first two MÖTLEY CRUE albums and then you will find no answer when you ask yourself - who should buy "Here I Come"?
ZONATA is labelled as Power Metal. Klingeling. Have I totally misunderstood my favorite Metal style? If this is Power Metal, then the last JUDAS PRIEST album is a classic. "Buried Alive" is the typical example how the term True Metal is misunderstood. Go for SOLITAIRE instead!
Non Plus Ultra
Whereas the JUDAS PRIEST-ish debut "Arise Of The Empire" was okay, I disliked the PANTERA-ish follow up "Hyper Martyrium", and I am not satisfied with their third one as well though adding some enjoyable SLAYER and TESTAMENT-wise song-writing. ONLY: the shrieking, terrible vocals from Germano Quintaba whose voice is mainly out of key destroys it all. CENTURION guys - fire this anti-singer and you get another chance. Otherwise disband.
All reviews from Heinz Konzett