Dampf – The Arrival (Review)

Dampf - The ArrivalThis is the debut album from Dampf, a metal band from Sweden.

Brought to us by dance artist E-Type, and featuring members of Bathory and Sabaton, The Arrival contains 41 minutes of metallic fun; Dampf are in the business of big guitars, danceable beats, and even bigger choruses. Continue reading “Dampf – The Arrival (Review)”

Shuulak – Rubedo (Review)

Shuulak - RubedoThis is the latest EP from Shuulak, a heavy metal band from the Netherlands.

I’m a big fan of Shuulak, and have been looking forward to hearing some new material from them since 2019’s Citrinitas. Containing 5 tracks and with a duration of 17 minutes, it’s enough to satisfy, and demonstrates once more just how good Shuulak are. Continue reading “Shuulak – Rubedo (Review)”

Seven Sisters – The Cauldron and the Cross (Review)

Seven SistersSeven Sisters are a heavy metal band from the UK and this is their second album.

They say you should never judge a record by its cover, (do they say that?), but it was the album cover of The Cauldron and the Cross that made me want to listen to it more than anything else. Continue reading “Seven Sisters – The Cauldron and the Cross (Review)”

Ruins of Elysium – Seeds of Chaos and Serenity (Review)

Ruins of ElysiumRuins of Elysium are an international symphonic metal band and this is their debut album.

The music on this release is bold, bombastic, and grand, with many different feelings and emotions explored; all of them epic, over-the-top, and quite infectious. It’s an ambitious release that hits more than it misses.

If you think of the comprehensive and Continue reading “Ruins of Elysium – Seeds of Chaos and Serenity (Review)”

Lost Opera – Hidden Sides (Review)

Lost OperaThis is the second album by French symphonic metal band Lost Opera.

Lost Opera are a symphonic metal band specialising in a modern take on the genre, heavily accentuated with orchestral keyboards and with a side-order of extremity. This manifests via heavier-than-average guitars, (for this kind of thing), and the Continue reading “Lost Opera – Hidden Sides (Review)”

Epica – The Holographic Principle (Review)

EpicaEpica are a symphonic metal band from the Netherlands and this is their eighth album.

Epica are famous for their epic, (ahem), symphonic sound, all larger-than-life melodies, ostentatious orchestration and luscious, enticing vocals. And it works. They’ve made a career out of it and currently sit as one of the biggest bands in the style. Continue reading “Epica – The Holographic Principle (Review)”

Elyria – Reflection and Refraction (Review)

ElyriaElyria are a symphonic metal band from Germany. This is their début album.

With a Classically-trained female vocalist in the ranks, you already know that her singing is going to be first-rate. With her Classical training it’s clear from the off that she really knows what she’s doing. How well this works for you depends on your take on the style and how you feel about these kinds of vocals.

There are some really nice vocal melodies strewn about these tracks, reminding me sometimes of older Kamelot in their delivery, and her voice is very enjoyable.

The music is largely of the Gothic/symphonic variety, but interestingly Elyria spice Continue reading “Elyria – Reflection and Refraction (Review)”

Last Frontier – Theta Healing (Through the Poison) (Review)

Last FrontierThis is the second album from Italian Heavy Metallers Last Frontier.

This is Atmospheric Heavy Metal with keyboards and a modern delivery that still pays homage to the classic style. There are elements of Power Metal here, although Heavy Metal is the main genre out of the two.

The songs are enjoyable Metal anthems that pass the 51 minutes quite pleasantly. They’re easily absorbed and digested and don’t cause bloating.

Ever-present keyboards accompany the tracks, but tend to enhance rather than annoy. The modern sheen of the riffs and the delivery in general is well-judged so that the band come across as polished, but not overly so.

The singer has a decent voice that effortlessly carries itself well. To my ears he comes across as a curious mix of the singers of Queensrÿche and Kamelot. With some good melodies it’s clear he can carry a tune well.

I enjoyed this. Give them a listen and see what you think.

Esotherisst – Voyage (Review)

EsotherisstEsotherisst are a Progressive Metal band from Poland. This is their début release.

Esotherisst’s Progressive Metal is polished and has a modern sound and production.

You Have Never is the first song. It’s the shortest of the three and it has a kind of Threshold-style, although this is mainly in the music rather than the vocals. The guitars are rhythmic and solid, with the leads and melodies used to add colour to this strong base. The singer has a good voice; it’s relatively low in the mix and used in an understated way throughout.

The second song is How to Fly and this is the longest track here at 6 minutes in length. This has more of an epic feel than the first one, with stronger keyboard backing and reminds me of Kamelot in some ways, although a more restrained, Progressive version and still tinged with a Threshold feel. Frenetic guitars and hyperactive keyboards are the centrepieces of this track and really drive home the Progressive tendencies of the band, like the 70s have been dragged into the modern day. This is bookended by lighter, more relaxed sections where the singer really comes into his own.

The final song is In Winter’s Arms. This continues the feel of the second track with an epic introduction and then a lighter verse, (although without the extended Progressive workout in the middle that the second song boasted). This is a theme developed throughout the 5 minutes playing time, ending on a softer note to finish.

The weakest link for me in this is the singer, although that sounds worse than it is. It’s not that he has a bad voice, quite the contrary in fact; I just feel he is slightly lacking in confidence and needs to develop a little more presence and force in his delivery. This is not insurmountable though and he has the necessary attributes for success, they just need to be brought to the fore a bit more. This is only a minor quibble though, and might actually be less about the singer himself and more due to the recording – the music has such a strong production that he can sometimes sound overshadowed.

Overall, Esotherisst have impressed me with this release. With a few tweaks to the songwriting and vocal delivery their début album should be an extremely strong release if this is any indicator.

Give them a listen.

Kouzin Bedlam – Longing for the Incomplete (Review)

Kouzin BedlamKouzin Bedlam are a Finnish Heavy Metal band and this is their début album.

This is expressive Heavy Metal that’s enhanced with keyboards as well as some Progressive Metal and Power Metal streaks.

Their sound is a very enticing one that mixes elements of bands like Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, Kamelot and Queen. It’s very listenable and has instant character and appeal.

Longing for the Incomplete is a very strong collection of songs. The band know how to play and everything comes off silky smooth and ultra-polished, but with the important accolade of not losing the band any of their life or colour.

The music is textured, rich and involving. There are lots of hooks and bucketloads of catchiness. The songs have memorable melodies and tunes as well as many interesting ideas and a great deal of variety.

All in all these songs are ridiculously good! In some ways it’s hard to believe that this is a just a début album as the level of songwriting here is stellar.

The singer has a great voice that’s capable of dealing with anything that’s required of it. Pretty much any style is within his range and his performance on this album is staggeringly good.

When this style of Metal is done well it takes me back to when I was getting into music for the first time and everything seemed so exciting and new. Kouzin Bedlam fill me with the same kind of feeling; not so much because of nostalgia, but just because of how damn good this is!

This puts me in mind of Trinity Road by All Seeing Eyes; Kouzin Bedlam don’t particularly sound like All Seeing Eyes, but the comparison is apt as both bands have recently released a pure blinder of an album. Had I listened to this album earlier then it definitely would have featured in my 2014 end of year list.

What a great album by a great band. Essential listening.