Dragonforce – Reaching into Infinity (Review)

DragonforceDragonforce are a UK power metal band and this is their seventh album.

Dragonforce are back doing what they do best – fast, bright, insanely well-played and intricate power metal. Yep, fans of the band should pretty much know what to expect at this stage in the game. Continue reading

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I, the Betrayer – 7 (Review)

I, the BetrayerI, the Betrayer are a Norwegian metal band and this is their debut EP.

This is the first EP from this new band, although as there’s over 30 minutes of material here, it’s actually longer than some albums. 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

Khemmis – Hunted (Review)

KhemmisThis is the second album from US doom metal band Khemmis.

Khemmis’ debut album, Absolution, was one of my favourite releases of 2015, and has continued to be a firm-favourite of mine ever since first hearing it.

Continuing on with their style of combining traditional doom metal with sludge metal, the songs on Hunted are a tad longer, allowing the band more room to explore and expand on their core style.

The singer puts in a sterling performance once more. Continue reading

Gottweist – Future Is in Our Hands (Review)

GottweistThis is the début album from Canadian Metal band Gottweist.

Gottweist’s music is somewhere between the classic Iron Maiden-influenced Metal style and a more modern one, as played by bands like Killswitch Engage, Bullet for My Valentine, As I Lay Dying, Atreyu and the like. The balance is weighted towards the latter, but the former has enough of a presence to give Future Is in Our Hands more impact than is normal for a band like this.

The album features a bright sparkly sound that might not be quite as polished as those aforementioned groups, but still works in concert with the songs themselves to present a band who clearly have a passion and energy for what they do.

The singer’s voice is melodic and smooth, backed by the odd shout or harsher vocal. The Heavy Metal influence counteracts the more modern Metalcore one in various ways, one of the more notable being the fact that the harsh vocals are very much in the minority here, whereas normally it’s the other way around, with cleans usually being restricted to radio-friendly choruses. Gottweist go the other, less-usual route; the majority of the vocals on this release are sung, and when harsher ones do appear they typically back up the cleans on the choruses.

Leads and solos are used well, adding much to the hearty songs and catchy melodies. Indeed, there’s so much enthusiasm here that it’s hard to feel jaded and dislike what the band are doing, (unless you’re just not into this kind of thing, of course).

All of the above results in an enjoyable and slightly different take on the more commercial side of melodic Metal/Metalcore. I have enjoyed their slightly-atypical spin on the modern Metalcore sound; with the traditional Heavy Metal aspects of their delivery lending a bit more depth and longevity to the music than is typical for a band of this ilk.

Given the right backing and exposure, as well as a bigger production and a slightly more adventurous songwriting outlook, Future Is in Our Hands might actually be potentially quite prophetic for their next album.

Check this out.

Stigmata – The Ascetic Paradox (Review)

StigmataStigmata are from Sri Lanka and this is their fourth album. They play Heavy Metal.

Wow, okay, so here we have a bit of everything from Death to Nevermore to Iron Maiden. The band play technical and involving music that’s as varied as the influences suggest, all within the overarching template of Heavy Metal.

At 58 minutes in length, and touching on a wide-range of Heavy Metal bases, there’s a lot going on here.

It’s clear that the band are Hellishly talented and have grand ambitions for their art. Frequent musical sidesteps are taken so that you never quite know what’s just around the corner. Some of the playing on this release is jaw-dropping.

Full of grand melodies and even grander ambition, The Ascetic Paradox is a wild ride through various corners of Heavy Metal’s map, paying tribute to the greats while also spinning the threads of the Metal fates to their own ends.

The vocals are equally as varied, taking in everything from shouts, slithering screams, cleans to air-raid siren howls.

The production is a little uneven in places – I could do with the guitars feeling a little fuller and larger, but it doesn’t spoil the songs, just doesn’t let them reach their full potential I feel.

This is very impressive, but I feel would benefit from being re-recorded and tightened up in a few places. Don’t let this put you off though as Stigmata have produced an album that wins more than it doesn’t.

A flawed masterpiece.

Blackhour – Sins Remain (Review)

BlackhourBlackhour are a Heavy Metal band from Pakistan and this is their second album.

This is an album that embraces what True Heavy Metal is all about; attitude, passion, songcraft and pure, molten delivery.

The singer has a very good voice that carries weight and authority with it, as well as being able to bang out decent harmonies and memorable melodies.

The music is Classic Heavy Metal, frequently stretched out to epic proportions across these 5 songs. The classic Metal flavour is added to by some more modern influences too; for example, if you take a band like Iron Maiden as a good starting point for comparison, Blackhour take influence from a wide swathe of Iron Maiden’s work, both old and new. This isn’t the only band they can be compared to though, as they’re certainly not Iron Maiden rip-offs. There’s more going on here than just that.

These are well-written songs that are played by people who know their way around their instruments intimately. Importantly though it’s the songs that matter and the band have a good grasp of what makes a decent Heavy Metal tune. The involving riffs and dynamic pacing of the songs work with the singer’s impressive vocals to create songs that stick in the mind long after the last chord has faded.

And there’s solos. Lots of them.

Quality stuff, and very enjoyable. Check this out and show your support.

Ram – Svbversvm (Review)

RamRam are a Swedish Heavy Metal band and this is their fourth album.

This is Classic/Traditional Heavy Metal with a solid sound and songs aplenty.

The style of the music and the singer’s commanding voice takes me back to the days when I was first discovering Heavy Metal. This is straight-ahead Metal with enough influences from the likes of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden to keep any Metal fan happy, although it should be stated that Ram have enough personality of their own to avoid Svbversvm coming across as pure hero-worship.

The songs are catchy and do have hooks, but it’s not quite as obvious an affair as you might imagine. Although these elements are here, Ram seem to take more pride in creating songs that work holistically and create a good Metal atmosphere, rather than concentrating on the specifics of individual song parts. This is not to say they don’t have decent riffs and choruses, (they do), but it’s the song as a whole that’s important rather than just parts of it. For me, this approach works and increases the longevity and depth of the songs.

Having said all that though, songs like Holy Death are just pure wonderous aural-sugar and catchy as fuck, so there you go.

The singer’s style and his performance is resolutely Old-School, with his projected attitude and confidence being almost as important as his vocal skills. He knows how to sing that’s for sure, but like the music the emphasis is on feeling and delivery, rather than shiny harmonies and sing-along choruses; after all, this is resolutely Heavy Metal, not Power Metal.

Thankfully they have chosen to present all of this in a solid production that doesn’t over-emphasise the Old-School nature of their style. It’s a thoroughly modern recording that has enough grit and dust to ensure they don’t come across as too polished, while still giving the songs the respect and power they deserve. It’s well-judged, as too much one way or the other would have been to the album’s detriment, I feel.

I like this kind of Heavy Metal; yes there’s a nostalgia factor to it, but ultimately this is a contemporary Metal band existing in 2015 and producing quality music for fans of the classic style. The fact that they do it very well is a bonus.

At 50 minutes in length, this album is a very enjoyable listen and Ram are a most welcome addition to my music collection.

Hail!

Magister Templi – Into Duat (Review)

Magister TempliThis is the second album from Norwegian Heavy Metallers Magister Templi.

A strong sound heralds an album that’s an enjoyable mix of Heavy Metal with a pinch of Traditional Doom Metal thrown in for spice.

Good riffs and strong melodies abound on Into Duat. The songs are well-developed slabs of Metal that have enough dynamics, energy and thought put into them to stand up to close scrutiny.

The singer’s voice is like a siren, soaring above the rest of the music. His voice is piercing and has a definite presence among the energetic guitars and earthy drums. A band like this would flounder with bland, uninspiring vocals, but thankfully we don’t have to worry about that as their singer is quite accomplished at what he does.

A theatrical element raises its head on occasion, but not in an overly ostentatious way. It’s an added string to their bow that gives them a well-rounded feel.

The recording is professional and tight; it’s a strong production with a warm, analogue sound that is like fine, aged whiskey. This, coupled with the songs themselves, results in Into Duat being a very satisfying listen indeed.

Overall this is a very interesting cross between Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Jon Oliva’s Pain. It’s a really entertaining listen and one that has enough longevity and depth to it that I’ll definitely be coming back for more in the future.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Magister-Templi/102129379880020

Savage Wizdom – A New Beginning (Review)

Savage WizdomThis is the second album from US Power Metal band Savage Wizdom.

This is ambitious Heavy/Power Metal with long songs and an epic feel.

The band have an earthy sound that’s strong enough to showcase the band’s skill but gritty enough to lend the music an aggressive air.

The songs are a blend of Traditional Heavy Metal and European Power Metal influences. Think of a mixture of Iron Maiden, Dio and Gamma Ray.

The songs are catchy and memorable, with plenty of hooks to grab the attention.

Savage Wizdom make their music in a very accessible manner that’s easy to digest. It’s Metal that seems to roll out of the speakers in a very pleasing way, like honey being poured. It’s tasty and filling, yet leaves you wanting more.

The vocalist has a decent voice that has echoes of the singers of Iron Maiden and Queensrÿche, tempered with a more earthy edge, similar to the album as a whole. He has good range and can hit the high notes when needed. He knows his style inside out and gives a spirited performance.

The musicianship is well-played, with all instruments made the most of. Riffs, leads and solos are abundant and the rhythm section of drums and bass is a tight one.

The album could do with a little polish here and there, but this is largely a small issue as overall A New Beginning is a very enjoyable slab of Heavy Metal.

Recommended.