Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn (Review)

Odd Dimension - The Blue DawnThis is the third album from Italian progressive metallers Odd Dimension.

For an very rough idea of what The Blue Dawn sounds like, think of a metallic modern fusion of Dream Theater and Rush. It’s an imperfect description, but it gives you a decent idea of what to expect across the 64 Continue reading “Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn (Review)”

The Progressive Souls Collective – Sonic Birth (Review)

The Progressive Souls Collective - Sonic BirthThis is the debut album from The Progressive Souls Collective, an international progressive rock/metal supergroup of sorts.

Here we have 63 minutes of music that features current and ex-members of a range of bands, all brought together by a central figure. I picked this album to listen to initially due to the striking album art, but never thought it Continue reading “The Progressive Souls Collective – Sonic Birth (Review)”

NVC – The Deleted Scenes (Review)

NVCNVC are a Canadian progressive metal band and this is their debut album.

This is modern and emotive progressive metal that marries some latter-day Anathema influences with a melodic death metal side; think Ensiferum and Wintersun for a starting point. The resulting Continue reading “NVC – The Deleted Scenes (Review)”

Avantasia – Ghostlights (Review)

AvantasiaThis is the seventh album from this German Symphonic Power Metal band.

At over 70 minutes in length, there’s a lot of music on this release. Also, featuring guests from such notable bands as Queensrÿche, Twisted Sister, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Unisonic, Edguy and many others, this lives up to the title of Rock Opera with very little effort.

For all the different guest singers, the album has a coherent feel to it, partly due to the cohesive songwriting and partly due to the brains behind the outfit’s voice, which is a near-constant of these tracks in some capacity or other.

The music is bombastic, dramatic, emphatic, symphonic and suitably epic in nature. Unless you just don’t like this kind of thing it’s extremely hard not to enjoy Ghostlights. Great musicianship, high production values, quality singing and well-written operatic Metal…it’s a feast for the ears and proudly espouses the most extravagant side of European Power Metal.

Combined with the effervescent guitars, the orchestral elements are ever-present and a big part of what makes Avantasia so epic. These tracks have such a flair for the theatrical that every song seems to tell a story in bright, colourful pictures, writ large against a suitably ostentatious backdrop. Although the album does have darker elements it’s largely a performance of colour and fantasy, providing the listener with ample opportunity for escapism via the very textured world that the players portray.

Returning back to the guitars; it’s important to remember that this is, ultimately, a Metal album. Thankfully the band remember this too and have included a fair amount of tasty riffs among the orchestration.

Ghostlights evokes various different emotions, as all good operas should, but ultimately I’m left with the feeling of being uplifted and happy. Such larger-than-life music should be celebrated and it’s only appropriate that its lasting impact is a positive one more than anything else.

70 minutes of pure escapist showmanship. Loved it.

Favourite Track: Seduction of Decay. Geoff Tate, (Queensrÿche), has always had one of my favourite voices, and on this track he shines. The music backs him up to the hilt and the entire song is glorious.

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.

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.

Albatross – Fear from the Skies (Review)

AlbatrossThis is the début album from Indian Heavy Metal band Albatross.

We’ve met Albatross before, on their split with Vestal Claret. This is their first full length so it’s a pleasure to be reacquainted with their particularly interesting brand of Heavy Metal.

The songs on this release are all full of character and Albatross certainly put their own spin on things.

It’s the intention of Albatross to tell a story; while some bands who do this do it purely through the lyrics, Albatross strive to ensure that the music talks just as loudly as the words.

This is an album of two halves, with each half having its own story and theme. In line with the album cover, there is somewhat of a carnival feeling to the music on occasion, at least to the first half of the album. The second half is more straight-faced but just as compelling. Albatross are talented song-smiths and have a good ear for a good tale.

Quirky Heavy Metal is the name of the game and here Albatross are playing in the big leagues. Iron Maiden, King Diamond, Queensrÿche and bits of Thrash Metal are all melted down and consumed in some sickly-looking broth, only to be regurgitated in multicolour and in new and glorious ways by the band.

Taking these starting points, the band inject their own colourful personalities and passions into this lively release, resulting in an album that is a feast of delights. It’s extremely well-played and delivered, with some choice solos and vocal performances.

The track record of albums with concepts such as this is chequered at best, but Albatross have produced a winner here.

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.