Burning Witches – Hexenhammer – (Review)

Burning Witches - HexenhammerHexenhammer are a heavy metal band from Switzerland and this is their second album.

Featuring a member of Ursinne, here we have 48 minutes of old-school heavy metal spiced up with elements of speed/thrash and power metal here and there. Continue reading

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Sonic Prophecy – Savage Gods (Review)

Sonic ProphecyThis is the third album from Sonic Prophecy, a power metal band from the US.

I really enjoyed 2015’s Apocalyptic Promenade, so now that Savage Gods is ready to be unleashed, I’m very happy to reacquaint myself with their work. Continue reading

Burning Shadows – Truth in Legend (Review)

Burning Shadows are a power metal band from the US and this is their third album.

Burning Shadows made a lasting impression on me with their 2012 release Gather, Darkness!, which demonstrated a band that had a strong sound, good tunes, and a very capable singer; all essential components for power metal success. Continue reading

Distant Sun – Into the Nebula (Review)

Distant SunThis is the second album from Distant Sun, a Russian power/thrash metal band.

2015’s Dark Matter was an enjoyable slab of metal, in which Distant Sun, (featuring members of Shadow Host and Starsoup), showed the world what they had to offer. Continue reading

Iron Kingdom – Ride for Glory (Review)

Iron KingdomThis is the third album by Canadian Heavy Metallers Iron Kingdom.

After enjoying their second album Gates of Eternity, Ride for Glory promised much. Once again we’re treated to Iron Maiden/Iced Earth-style Heavy/Power Metal that’s epic and embraces fully everything about True Metal.

The solos and leads are shred-tastic and everything is flashy, ostentatious and overblown. Although they don’t reach the totally over-the-top heights of a band like Freedom Call, (one of the best), it doesn’t seem to be for the want of trying.

The vocals are just as histrionic as the previous album and work just as well with the music.

Iron Kingdom know their style very well and Ride for Glory is the complete Heavy Metal care package. Loving attention has been lavished on this release and the songs may not be perfect but what they sometimes lack in creativity is more than made up for with passion and zeal.

Unless you’re completely allergic to fantasy/mythology-inspired Heavy Metal it’s hard not to like this. The band have an enthusiasm for their subject and genre that is positively infectious.

Give them a try.

Distant Sun – Dark Matter (Review)

Distant SunDistant Sun are a Russian Power/Speed Metal band and this is their début album.

This is Power Metal played in the European style with a nice influence from US Thrash/Speed Metal felt throughout.

The vocals are a little grittier than most European-influenced bands and this falls in line with the Thrash influence. The singer does have a good voice though and is reminiscent of the singer of Metallica in some ways, but thankfully not overly so.

The band are comfortable playing chuggy, Thrashy riffs as well as more stirring, melodic ones. Overall the album is quite riff-heavy and the guitars have a nice bite to them.

Distant Sun’s style is kind of late-90s, combining the Power, Heavy and Thrash Metal styles of the time into a kind of Blind Guardian/Testament/Iced Earth/Annihilator melting pot. Add to this a bit of an 80s Thrash influence too and you have Dark Matter.

The songs are a good combination of these styles and frequently result in tracks that are both high-octane and catchy.

The band members in Distant Sun are also active in Shadow Host and Starsoup; both are top-notch bands and Distant Sun is another great outing from them.

I firmly recommend this and suggest you check them out.

Jaded Star – Memories from the Future (Review)

Jaded StarJaded Star are based in Greece and play Melodic Heavy Metal. This is their début album.

Featuring former members of Iced Earth and Visions of Atlantis, you know straight away that this is going to be competently and professionally played before you even hear it.

This is modern Melodic Heavy Metal with a state-of-the-art recording and songs that are catchy and memorable. Electronic enhancements are subtle and don’t detract from the Metal core of the band.

I quite enjoyed Cast Away by Visions of Atlantis, but it suffered under the shadow of the mighty Nightwish. I never heard them after that. Fast forward 11 years and The now ex-singer of Visions of Atlantis has come into her own and the performance on Memories from the Future is faultless. She has a great voice that combines power and melody in the right amounts to bring these songs to life with anthemic vigour.

She also doesn’t play it entirely safe, as she injects more variety into these tracks than a lot of similarly-styled singers try to do. Commendable.

Musically you might expect Metal-by-numbers, but the sound, although professional, is surprisingly organic and fresh for a band within this genre. The musicianship certainly is first rate and there are enough leads and solos to provide a meaty feast but without becoming ostentatious as can be the case with some European Power Metal.

These songs are energetic bundles of hummable Metal that don’t commit the cardinal sins that a lot of bands of this style do – overly commercial, weak guitars, generic songs, etc. – Jaded Star avoid all of these by providing a much more personal take on a style that is, by now, well-worn at best.

This kind of music is never going to be innovative or new, but that’s not the point; there is, however, a much needed injection of individuality and true passion into the genre, as a lot of bands of this ilk can sound same-y and boring. I’m extremely pleased with Jaded Star though as they remind me of what I first loved about female-fronted Metal when I first started listening to it in earnest over a decade and a half ago, (gulp!).

Jaded Star have reaffirmed my love for this kind of music and I can honestly and heartily recommend Memories from the Future. Had your fill of this style? Weary of the same old stuff? Give Jaded Star a try and watch your passion re-ignite.

Jaded no more.

Sonic Prophecy – Apocalyptic Promenade (Review)

Sonic ProphecyThis is the second album by US Power Metal band Sonic Prophecy.

Sonic Prophecy play Heavy/Power Metal with grand ambitions and enough rocking riffs to fell a house. Think a mixture of Iron Maiden, Iced Earth, Manowar, Blind Guardian, etc.

The songs are rousing and catchy. Galloping guitars and upbeat drums mean Apocalyptic Promenade is powered forward at a good pace and there is enough variety and interest throughout to stop the listener from becoming bored.

The songs concentrate on good structure and composition rather than being concerned with technicality or speed purely for the sake of it.

The musicianship is polished and tight with plenty of leads and solos included. Keyboards work well with the guitars to create the themes and atmospheres that the band employ. The Heavy Metal component of their sound stops the Power Metal from becoming too ostentatious but that doesn’t mean they lack creative flair or passion.

The singer knows how to carry a good tune and has the ability to back this up. To my ears he reminds of the Queensrÿche singer with a bit of Iron Maiden mixed in.

Sonic Prophecy have released an impressive and ambitious 73 minute album chock full of Power/Heavy Metal goodness. Highly recommended.

Desert Near The End – Hunt for the Sun (Review)

Desert Near The EndThis is the second album by Greek Metal band Desert Near The End.

This is a Modern Metal album that doesn’t pander to clichés or Metalcore-isms. Instead, we get a firm, heavy base of Metal with lots of frenetic riffs and pounding drums.

The vocals are passionately shouted out above the roaring music. Emphatic semi-cleans and rougher shouts are impressively delivered throughout.

The guitars are played at speed and with great skill. Plenty of leads and solos are spread liberally around these eight tracks. The fusion of rhythms and leads creates an emotive tapestry that is pure, molten Metal at times.

The drums are especially energetic and sound like they’re played full-on, all of the time.

There’s a powerful Thrash Metal influence to the band, done in a modern way yet borrowing from the past. The same is true of a lesser Power/Speed Metal influence; almost as if Iced Earth were being channelled through Shadow’s Fall…which is not actually that bad of a description, come to think of it. Add in a bit of Grip Inc. and there you go.

Hunt for the Sun has a solid sound and the energy of the songs can leave you breathless sometimes.

This is an exceedingly interesting release as it perfectly balances an older passion and energy with the state-of-the-art delivery of a contemporary Metal band.

This is an album that has surprised me. So often these days bands like this either fall foul of the hero-worship of older bands or stray too far into generic Metalcore territory. This album is different. The band have an individual take on a heavily saturated genre and they’re left sounding fresh, exciting and vital.

A highly recommended listen – it’s time to support some real Metal.