Reviews Archive:

LAAZ ROCKIT - City's Gonna Burn (re-release)
LABYRINTH - Sons Of Thunder
LAFORDOVA - Circus Of The Damned
LANFEAR - Zero Poems
LEFAY - The Seventh Seal
LIEGE LORD - Freedom's Rise
LIZZY BORDEN - Deal With The Devil

City's Gonna Burn (re-release)
(Old Metal Records)

I recollect seeing advertisements for this record in old Hitparader archives - but it took "Know Your Evemy" with its thrashier stance to get me into LAAZ ROCKIT. Shame upon me - for this debut record would've satisfied my Power Metal needs effectively while awaiting the latest albvum from my superstar faves of the day IRON MAIDEN. "City's Gonna Burn" contains eight songs of youthful Metallic abandon - savage in their primitive stance and speedier than most American acts while accenting a clear, cutting vocal prowess that gained favor from melodicheads everywhere. The intro riff to "Dead Man's Eyes" would foretell the future MAIDEN track "Heaven Can Wait" - illustrating their ability at epic tracks as well as the forceful speed-induced barnburners like "Forced To Fight" without missing a beat. King knows where the classic Power Metal 1980's gems are - and he does the record hounds and ungerground supporters proud by unleashing these albums on CD. Minimalist packaging though - my only hope that he considers gi ving consumers more information on these classics so that we obtain the stories with the music. Get now!!! Contact: Old Metal Records, 5953 N.10th St., Arlington, VA 22205, USA.
Matt Coe

Sons Of Thunder
(Metal Blade Records)

Even though Italy's six-piece LABYRINTH once again delivered another ten, well executed songs, this new album still doesn't really move me as much as their previous outputs anymore. One of the reasons could be the production, which didn't really turn out as strong as this type of music demands it. As a reverence just compare the song 'Save Me' (which already appeared on their "Timeless Crime" mini CD) with this album version... Kinda strange, considering the fact that an established name like Neil Kernon was responsible for it this time. But it seems that the band somehow managed to come up with better results while working on their own (only using the help of Louis Stefanini and Pat Scalabrino). Another aspect for my calmed down enthusiasm could be the predictability of the songwriting. There's already way too many bands playing this progressive, classical inspired, melody speed metal. And even though LABYRINTH may used to be one of the forerunners some years back, in this department they have to compete with RHAPSODY, STRATOVARIUS and the likes nowadays and unfortunately do not manage to reach the same quality as those bands. Don't get me wrong - "Sons Of Thunder" is a good album for this type of music, it's just that there's a handful of stronger ones around already.
Frank Stöver

Circus Of The Damned
(Power Records Int'l)

Debut album from an unknown group that I've read nothing about previous to this 11 song/ 51 minute CD. Reviewers get scared when you see two divergent influences like DREAM THEATER and ALICE IN CHAINS in the bio sheet- and "Circus Of The Damned" sounds more like the latter and nothing like the former. The vocals are clean/ melodic, but the riffing and drumming stick to that heavily distorted fake groove crappola that PANTERA heads flock upon but I (and most of our readers) despise. The more I sink into "Mental Cagefight", "Gods Of Acid" and the 9 others the more nausea enters my stomach and I'm fighting to listen to this unoriginal, unexciting effort. Avoid.
Matt Coe

Zero Poems
(Famous Kitchen)

The German progressive scene strikes back. New records from the genre leaders VANDEN PLAS, POVERTY'S NO CRIME and SOUL CAGES and guess who easily wins the price of the best progressive Metal album from German in 1999: LANFEAR. With their second album, they have written their quintessence of progressive music, forget about DREAM THEATRE and all their clones, this is the real stuff. Oh no, I am not too enthusiastic and though I have never been a big fan of this type of music, "Zero Poems" has caught my mind and arrested it from the day I heard excellent tracks as the title track, "Turn The Tide" or "How Come". They even mix their own style with some Death Metal growls and it fits perfectly into the sound, adventurous music. Even if not the all songs can be called Metal, the Jon Lord influenced hammond sound of the keyboards, the early YES parts as well as the quiet tracks are always played on a tremendous high level, and you feel it every single second - the band stands totally behind their music and they know what they are doing best - progressive Metal music from a great band. For me, "Zero Poems" is among the best progressive Metal albums in my whole collection, along with the PSYCHOTIC WALTZ releases and the CYNIC album. Highly recommended.
Heinz Konzett

The Seventh Seal
(Modern Music)

After a prolonged absence due to severing label ties with Black Mark (who took the Morgana away from the band's namesake) and losing 3 members who moved to Stockholm, LEFAY reimmerges with studio album #5 on a new label Modern Music. Only vocalist Charles Rytkonen and guitarist Tony Erikkson remain, and since they write all the material you can expect more of the usual Power Metal sounds you've always heard from LEFAY including a doomier flavor and more harmonic layering in the guitar department on these 10 songs. "The Seventh Seal" showcases a lean, mean lumbering sound - the speedier songs each different than the next, and each slower epic made special through the creative drum fills of Robin Engstrom or the use of fiddle/cello to accentuate the darker "Harga". I believe this album will make the SAVATAGE comparisons dissipate and gain more attention from people who like SOLITUDE AETURNUS, MEMENTO MORI on up to the harmonics of current Power Metal bands. Charles will still always sound like Jon Oliva's long lost twin - but his evil bellows work to chilling bliss on cuts like "I Am" and "The Boon He Gives", 2 of my favorite cuts on display. The hourglass conceptual art from Kristian Wahlin hits home that LEFAY haven't strayed from Metal - in turn making their best record since " The Secret Doctrine". No excess - no filler - no doubt "The Seventh Seal " needs to be heard.
Matt Coe

Freedom's Rise
(Old Metal Records)

When I talked to Paul Nelson for the LIEGE LORD feature in our 5th issue, he hoped this album would gain a re-release. King saw fit to get the disc out, and now many newcomers can see what the origins of Power Metal came from. Taking JUDAS PRIEST to a little faster and more epic level, "Freedom's Rise" batters the listener into submission from the opening intro. Quickly you'll succumb to the medieval lyrics and axe-leading chants of "Wielding Iron Fists" and proceed into the drum charging abandon of "Dark Tale" with Andy Michaud's rapid fire piercing completing the LIEGE LORD soundscape. The original Eric Larnoy drawings and cover art remain preserved- as well as adding some classic live/band shots from the 1982-1990 lineups. My favorite tracks include "Rage Of Angels" with its PRIEST meets early QUEENSRYCHE arrangement and "Warriors Farewell". Here's hoping that I'll hear some cuts from this effort in June when the band play in Michigan- why did it take 15 years to gain a US re-release? Classic- powerful- majestic- LIEGE LORD commands the Metal brethren. Contact: Old Metal Records- 5953 N. 10th St.- Arlington, VA 22205- USA.
Matt Coe

Deal With The Devil
(Metal Blade Records)

Unfortunately I'm still lacking a bit in information about the recording line-up of this LIZZY BORDEN comeback album, but anyway - almost all of the eleven new tracks know to convince completely (only 'Generation Landslide' and 'The World Is Mine' personally didn't really move me...)! So, after more than ten years Lizzy's finally back and still delivers first class melodic metal! Musically "Deal With The Devil" could easily be considered as the missing link between his early true metal period ("Give 'Em The Axe" / "Love You To Pieces") and the more catchy stuff from the "Visual Lies" / "Master Of Disguise" albums. Vocally he still sounds exactly like in his heydays and you won't get rid of most of his melody lines after the first listen already. Even the more experimental sounding tracks, like the oriental 'Zanzibar' or 'We Only Come Out At Night' (with its modern dance groove) are still accessible enough to be recognized as typical LIZZY BORDEN tunes! And hey, they are even using the cool old bandlogo again, which is great. So, after lots of half-assed reunions, this is finally a totally convincing one! Welcome back LIZZY BORDEN!! Frank Stöver

(Trepan Records)

Despite the rather industrial/ modern look of the whole product, LYZANXIA appears to be a surprise on the French scene. "Eden" starts in a quite aggressive way with "Dream Feeder", but soon turns out to be a good inspired heavy mid paced track with catchy vocal lines. "Addicted" and "Lost" sound also aggressive with an overall modern sound but still quite enjoyable yet I could live without some rather boring growling vocal parts done on "Lost". "Medecine Slave" and "Bewitched" appear to be more "melodic", while still having that modern feel, but the former features more excellent vocal and lead guitar work delivered by David Polvin, excellent song. "Labyrinth" and "Eden" can be considered as filler material as those tracks just go nowhere, growling vocals and uninspired riffs that bore the shit out of you. "Terrible Old Man" starts with some excellent lead work, followed by some raging riffing, impressive. Once again the growling parts have nothing to do here! "Positronic" is undoubtedly the fastest track- yet not super fast, featuring more raging strong riffing from the Polvin brothers, great stuff. "Dome" closes this first effort in a positive way, while I still find it a bit too long with some Industrial part that are not that good. This first album reminds me alot of what THE COMPANY delivered on their two albums a few years ago, not as good- don't forget that Mr Piercy was in THE COMPANY. Still a very promising debut as they know how to mix the current sounds with the old ones, there's still some uncertainties about the direction but given time I'm sure they'll mature in a very very promising act. Add to this that the record was produced by Fredrick Nordström and recorded at Studio Fredman and it gives you a better idea for what these guys stand for. Website:
Laurent Ramadier