Reviews Archive:

MAJESTIC - Abstract Symphony
MANOWAR - Hell On Stage Live (DoCD)
FRANK MARINO & M.RUSH - Eye Of The Storm
MARSHALL LAW - Warning From History
MELDRUM - Loaded Mental Cannon
METALIUM - State Of Triumph -Chapter Two-
METALUCIFER - Heavy Metal Chainsaw
MOGG / WAY - Chocolate Box
MSG - Live - Unforgiven World Tour (2CD)
MYON - Heaven's Garden

Abstract Symphony
(Massacre Records)

Wow, what a blast for a Melodic Metal release. Imagine a cross between LILLIAN AXE and better YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and a resemblance to FIFTH ANGEL and RADAKKA and you have a light imagination how this band sound. Starting with the opener "Golden Sea", a faster, neo-classical track, to mid-tempo stuff as "Losers Shades Of Hell" and the monumental "Ceasefire", all eleven tracks convince from the beginning to the end. The vocalist Jonas Blum has a formidable melodic voice, not as high pitched as most singers in the Neo-Classical Metal scene. Good. The soloing is influenced by MALMSTEEN, though the song itself counts and not the musician's egoist. Very good. Another important part of their music are the keyboards which do not overwhelm the guitars but can be heard well without making the music commercial. Excellent. Few Melodic Metal bands deliver this high quality nowadays and none of them has released such an immense debut since the first RADAKKA. Majestic music.
Heinz Konzett


Well the following review is ONLY based on the fact that I worship kick ass Metal no matter where it comes from so even if MALEDICTION comes from France like me, it doesn't have anything to do with this review. With that off my chest, let's talk about their debut album. As you know I was really impressed by their demo because it had been a long time since I have heard such a promising act coming from our fucked up trendy country. The five tunes from the demo appear on the album, "Prince Des Ténčbres", "Apocalypse", "Le Fils De Satan", "Condamné" and "L'Ange Noir", those having been re-recorded of course but none of the Metallic power is gone, as most of the tracks are just totally effective -"Condamné" being the weaskest tune. Newer songs such as "Le Masque De Fer"- easily the best track on this album and one of the best I've heard recently and "L'Horloge" a good mid paced tune just show that MALEDICTION haven't changed anything in their songwriting approach. The album ends with "Les Enfants De L'Ombre", an ADX cover (now don't tell me this is usual!) which blows away the original as the riffs sound much more effective and sharp than ever, not talking about the more than adequate vocals from Sylvain Mollard. These guys have taken all the best elements from their glorious predecessors from the '80s and have managed to come up with what I consider as one of the best French releases ever made long with "Astral Deliverance" and "Attaque". Blistering Heavy Metal album all the way.
Laurent Ramadier

(Dream Catcher / Zomba)

I didn't really care for Yngwie's releases throughout the last couple of years as I mainly found them pretty boring, way too predictable and kinda uninspired. His technical skills have been out of the question though - and I guess everybody will certainly agree with me that Malmsteen has always been top notch in that department. But his songwriting was too often suffering from his incredibly dominant soloing, quite obviously a result of his strong ego. Anyway, with old vocalist Mark Boals re-joining the band's line-up and Yngwie's decision to re-use RISING FORCE as a bandname, the overall quality finally went up again as well. "Alchemy" marks the return of really epic compositions, even bringing back memories of the glorious "Marching Out" / "Trilogy" period. Of course there's still an extremely strong classical input in his material (otherwise it certainly wouldn't be Yngwie), but there's also quite a lot of songs that remind me on early RAINBOW, DIO or the better Graham Bonnet stuff, with some really mystic al and impressing melody lines. Boals may not be convincing the whole way through, but he fits the music pretty good nonetheless. The album's packaging / art design is not only incredibly executed, it's also fitting the overall feelings of the record perfectly. So, to sum it up - for me "Alchemy" is one of the biggest positive surprises in quite a while!
Frank Stöver

Hell On Stage Live (DoCD)
(Nuclear Blast Records)

I was pretty sceptical concerning this release before I finally got to hear it, cause MANOWAR had just put out a live double album before this ("Hell On Wheels") and I didn't see the point in releasing another one, except for an easy cash in of their new label Nuclear Blast. But already when I read through the track list it surely made ALOT of sense to me. You want examples? Ok, fasten your seatbells, take a deep breath and listen: "Metal Daze", "Dark Avenger", "March For Revenge, "Hatred", "Gates Of Valhalla", "Bridge Of Death", "Guyana", "Cult Of The Damned" the list goes on!! All those great old classics were missing on "Hell On Wheels"! So, for all the MANOWAR die hard fans of the band's early material, this album is way (!!!) more enjoya ble, plus it has the better sound quality!!! There's also a limited three CD-set available with three more tracks, especially for the MANOWAR fans in Germany, so happy hunting! If you haven't decided yet, which live album you should spend your money on - make sure to go for this one, cause this is 100% pure and honest MANOWAR stuff (surely not comparable to their newer shit)!
Frank Stöver

Eye Of The Storm

Wow, Frank Marino is back. I always liked the music of this Canadian guitar legend. It's been too quiet for a long time, but with this album it looks like Frank is ready to rock again. Sometimes his songs sound a bit experimental, and so does the opener of his new album "Eye Of The Storm". Don't let these first chords disillusion you, 'cause later on on he will definitely blow you out of your chair. This man is still real fast on his guitar and he will astonish you with his very own style of guitar playing. He turns back the time for twenty five years and especially the older Hard Rockers and Snakepit readers will know what this means. This means that there are loooong guitar solos on this CD. He simply starts to play a solo, but he never knows how to stop. His style can be compared with people like Robin Trower, Randy Hansen, Uli Jon Roth or Jimi Hendrix. You can call it old fashioned. You can call it out of date. You may even think that I'm a boring old fart, but I enjoyed every note of this CD. Nine long tracks with a total running time of about 75 minutes (!!!) made the investment needed to get this CD worth every penny. Right now the CD is only available from the Internet. Simply go to: Highlights for me were the HENDRIX like "Learned My Lesson Well" and "He's Calling". I've got no idea who's in the band right now because I wrote this review from a promo copy, but I think that nobody gives a shit! As long as Frank Marino is in it, it's okay. Great release!!!!
Toine van Poorten

Warning From History
(Neat Metal)

I hardly remember these guys from many years ago when I got to hear their (self-titled?) debut. I really liked it back then, but somehow lost track for one reason or another regarding their following releases. Well, at least Neat Records made it possible that I got to hear their latest full length "Warning From History" again. And I must say that I'm quite impressed about the band's evolution. They've definitely become a lot heavier, but not in the sense of sounding more modern or anything, this is just true Heavy Metal with a lot of incorporated old feeling. Excellent! The band exactly sounds like Heavy Metal should sound - never as happy as Gamma Ray / Helloween and the likes, or as pathetic as Hammerfall, and also not progressive / technical as the majority of the newer bands. This is basic straight forward melodic Heavy Metal with a strong vocalist and a great guitar department. It's been a long time ever since I heard something convincing like this coming from the land that brought us the NWOBHM! Hope th ere's more to come!
Frank Stöver


Yes, I know that MEGADETH didn't stick to their Thrash Metal roots and I also miss their good old style ("Peace Sells" and "So Far, So Good, So What" will always remain my personal all-time faves of the band). I even think that they composed quite a bunch of boring, uninspired and unnecessary tracks ever since, but hey - I do like their new album "Risk" nevertheless, anyhow! This album ain't Heavy Metal in the true sense of the word (and I guess nobody seriously expected that from the band anymore anyway these days), they even played around with quite a lot of outside influences and modern sounds, but I still think that "Risk" is the strongest band effort in years (even if Laurent certainly will disagree!). There's a good combination of melody, heaviness, coolness and atmosphere going on in the twelve featured tracks and because of Dave Mustaine's characteristic voice, you're still able to easily recognize all of them as MEGADETH. "Risk" features a couple of really heavy riffs again (heavier than most of the stuff they did on "Cryptic Writings"), but only to the extend to compliment certain songs. This album (which comes as an enhanced CD with an additional video, showing the band and the producer in the studio) will undoubtedly help them to enlarge their popularity once again and you know what?! I have no problems with that at all!
Frank Stöver

Loaded Mental Cannon
(Record Heaven Music)

Michelle Meldrum on guitars founded a good looking heavy Rock band with Moa Holmsten on vox, Frida Stahl on bass and the only male musician Fredrik Haake on drums. The music reminds me of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, the same heavy approach on the guitar front, the same "I don't care what you say, I play my kind of stuff if you like it or not" attitude. "Feeding The Hope" for instance is a cool Rock song with Moa's talented melodies. On some tunes the dynamics between their power parts and the quiet interludes sound a bit too modern and the low-tuned guitars with the LED ZEPPELIN-esque arrangements ("Through Shattered Eyes") are not my cup of tea. People into Zack's BLS should give them a listen.
Heinz Konzett

(Metal Blade)

King and company still crank out albums at a quick yearly pace- for benefit of their fans but rarely exerting the "classic" status that "Melissa" and especially "Don't Break The Oath" have attained in the Metal kingdom. Upon reading their bio's proclaim of "back to stripped down/aggressive" basics I had high hopes that "9" would be their best 1990's offering- and multiple plays later I affirm and shout with splendor that MERCYFUL FATE have returned to stellar mystical greatness! Listen to the twin Shermann/Weed harmonics permeating "Burn In Hell", or a creepy downtrodden "The Grave", and you'll assuredly nod your head plus fly the fist pumping with fury for Metal rooted in the late 70's/early 80's but still showing signs of ingenuity in the late 1990's. My favorite songs change depending on the day- as if you want reckless speed and nastiness, "Insane" fits the bill, while in terms of melodic immediacy "Last Rites" ansd "Sold My Soul" work best. The demonic red/yellow coverart inferno portrays the burning sou l these men still have for explosive songwriting taken to another level with King Diamond's incomparable shrieks. Don't put MERCYFUL FATE in the already drainded class of veteran acts who try to recapture past glories while delivering substandard new records. "9" stands high, tall and worth its weight in noteworthy virtue. Can't wait to hear these tracks blow me away live...
Matt Coe

State Of Triumph -Chapter Two-

Usually I'm getting really skeptical when the major press keeps talking about "the next big thing" and I'm not into "all-star" bands either... But METALIUM, who fit into both those categories, proved me wrong after all! Their debut "Millennium Metal - Chapter One" was a really solid offering already, but to me it's their follow-up "State Of Triumph - Chapter Two" that comes pretty close to a masterpiece! Even though the line-up has changed quite a bit, these guys have easily managed to combine the power of old VICIOUS RUMORS ("Digital Dictator" period) with HELLOWEEN's classic "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" period and resulted in an incredibly strong and professionally produced traditional Metal album that is almost impossible to top by any other German band at the moment. Vocalist Henning Basse has evolved into a world class frontman with a crystal clear, yet really powerful voice and delivers an outstanding performance on here, while the guitarists contribute excellent leads and the rhythm section a thunderous foundation. This is neither typical German "happy" Metal, nor symphonic stuff the Italian way and also not Power Metal in the American tradition - this is METALIUM Metal, performed on a really high level with a result that is absolutely over the top! I really hope that these guys will manage to come up with some more albums of this quality in the next couple of years.
Frank Stöver

S & M (2CD)
(Mercury Records)

The idea behind this project ain't new at all - a rockband wants to break some musical boundaries and performs a bunch of their best known compositions along with a symphonic orchestra. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't! In METALLICA's case it ended up somewhere in the middle. This double CD-set features the band's performance with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra from April 21 / 22, 1999 and consists of 20 METALLI-tunes (plus the obligatory Ennio Morricone intro). Two of them are previously unreleased ("No Leaf Clover" and "Human"), but not really worth a mention as they are kinda average. The rest is typical METALLICA stuff from all of their albums, except for "Kill 'Em All" (of course...). The classical re-arranged versions work pretty good as long as the band doesn't speed things up too much. In other words - the midtempo or slow stuff sounds extremely promising with the string sections and all that. The more emotional or dramatic a song originally was already structured the better it works. Ju st take a listen to the legendary "Ride The Lightning" instrumental "The Call Of The Ktulu" - the new version really sends shivers down my spine - it's just perfect for a classical interpretation! Other stuff sounds kinda pathetic and reminds me a lot more on a radio channel out of tune. So, decide for yourselves whether you find this "METALLICA goes classic" type experiment interesting or not. At least it's a lot more thrilling than the stupid Apocalyptica bullshit! For additional infos check out the following internet sites: or
Frank Stöver

Heavy Metal Chainsaw
(Iron Pegasus)

The Japanese true Metal bastion strikes back. Supported by the German die-hards of METAL INQUISITOR and DESASTER Elizabigore and co. created another 80's old-school record. Music-wise the traditional Metal convinces totally, 100% SNAKEPIT stuff, no doubt. The singer with his Japanese accent makes it more difficult. You can say that his kind of singing is unique, yes, you can say his voice is a kind of fake, yes, better hear it yourself. Bands such as THRUST or NASTY SAVAGE also had vocals that were not of everybody's liking but has been out of any criticism for true Metalheads. METALUCIFER are Metal and "Heavy Metal Chainsaw" is a big improvement to the last record. True Metal in the right sense of these words.
Heinz Konzett

Chocolate Box
(Steamhammer / SPV)

I have absolutely no clue why Phil Mogg and Pete Way have started to release albums as MOGG / WAY these days. I mean, it just doesn't make any sense, especially if you take the brilliant UFO comeback "Walk On Water" from 1997 into consideration. Okay, Michael Schenker has (one more time) left the band ever since, but musically there's no real differences anyway. Compared to the MOGG / WAY debut "Edge Of The World", the new album "Chocolate Box" presents us a slightly changed line-up though. With Paul Raymond (keyboards) another UFO member has been added to the band now and in Simon Wright (ex-AC/DC) they also found a solid drummer with a pretty basic style (who came in for Aynsley Dunbar). But the best decision was certainly to replace George Bellas with Jeff Kollman on guitar. Kollman plays much more emotional than Bellas (who was quite obviously way more into this "a-million-notes-per-minute" type of stuff) and partly even reminds me on Schenker himself. The ten new songs are all in the typical UFO vein, bu t they are unfortunately lacking a little bit in real standout compositions. The whole album is traditional to the bone and even comes up with a 70's like production. So, if you always tend to like UFO's stuff, there's nothing wrong in checking out "Chocolate Box" as well.
Frank Stöver

Live - Unforgiven World Tour (2CD)

Holy shit, I'd never expected such a strong setlist from Michael Schenker these days: "Armed And Ready", "On And On", "Attack Of The Mad Axeman", "Assault Attack" (all from the glorious early MSG days), "Another Piece Of Meat" (the old SCORPS classic), "Doctor, Doctor", "Rock Bottom", "Love To Love", "Too Hot To Handle", "Lights Out" and "Only You Can Rock Me" (vintage UFO) - they all found their way onto this live double CD set. And that's not even all! With "Captain Nemo", "Into The Arena" and "Essence" three instrumental tunes got featured in a row, proving Schenker's incredible talent for feeling based guitarwork in the best possible way once again! The rest of the songs (21 in total) is newer MSG (from the "Unforgiven" record) and UFO material ("Walk On Water" - period). On most of the stuff you'll hear the highly talented Keith Slack on vocals (STEELHOUSE LANE frontman), who turned out to be a perfect choice, while former BATON ROUGE singer Kelly Keeling sings seven of the songs (who's quite bluesy voic e still ain't really my taste). So, all in all this is a damn good live album, pretty close to "One Night At Budokan" and highly recommended for fans of old Schenker stuff!
Frank Stöver

Heaven's Garden
(Noise Records)

220 VOLT. When I heard this disc, I could swear the singer sounded exactly like the one of this Swedish Hard Rockers. But MYON are hailing from Finland and the vocalist is called Sami Huotari. So, the resemblances are evident, adding some RAINBOW parts and you know what to have to await. Good played Hard Rock with a pleasant voice and some really nice songs ("Broken Arrow", "Point Of View"). Of course, in comparison with the leading bands of the same area as RIOT (okay, this band exists more than two years and has history, so it's not a very fair comparison), the songwriting is too average, but in times of a dying Hard Rock scene, new, promising bands like MYON are highly welcome. Un-trendy, honest music, maybe missing some balls, all in all a rocking Hard Rock record.
Heinz Konzett