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Reviews 2003

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Leviticus - Live At Bobfest 2003, BTS Records

Let me start with the only minor aspect of this album. There's no background information about this band's past. So, let me give you that. As Leviticus broke up in 1990, it's likely many never heard of this band. Leviticus is a Swedish metal/hard rock band that got started in 1981, with guitarist Björn Stigsson and drummer Kjell Andersson. The first album was released in 1984 (Jag Skall Segra, aka I Shall Conquer). Three more records were released, and a best-of in 1995. Björn Stigsson did one solo album and continued with XT, a band that released three albums in the early nineties. Now Leviticus is reformed and getting ready for a new studio album. This live disc is a real interesting piece of history reviving. The sound quality is really good. Songs included are Messiah, The Suffering Servant, Deborah And Barak and several others. Leviticus had various singers, but on this disc you can hear Peo Pettersson doing a great job. This is Leviticus at its best!

Solid - Look For Real Love, Ecovata

The Belgian rock band Solid have been around for a long time (since 1988). I'm not sure how many CD's they brought out, but the first album was released in 1996 (Let's Move On). Look For Real Love contains run-of-the-mill rock music. It's not very heavy stuff, and there are lots of real quiet songs and ballads. But you can hear the experience of the musicians and the good song writing. Expect songs with head and tail, three verses varied by the choruses. Blues influences are evident in several songs. Singer Johnny Lelievre's vocals are best in the ballads, where they fit in well. He sounds a bit like Helmut Lotti. I remember I once read he worked with Lotti in the past. The production is fairly good.

F.O.G. - Visibility Clearing, Independent Release

Started out as a cover band, F.O.G. is debuting with this disc, on which the majority of the songs are written by the band. F.O.G. stands for Five Old Guys, and this is representative for their music. You can hear seventies and eighties rock/metal. Sometimes there's a touch of blues, sometimes it's a bit heavier, like Am I Worthy, which sounds like an old Saint tune. You won't hear poppy stuff, as F.O.G. rocks in a raw fashion. The sound quality isn't top notch, yet acceptable. There are nine songs on this album, filling 45 minutes with nostalgia and Christian lyrics.

Stretch Arm Strong - Engage, Solid State Records

After two successful albums, Stretch Arm Strong returns with Engage. Still you can hear that catchy hardcore that combines melody and aggression so easily. Yet, after listening to the album a great many times, I can't get as excited as before. It's not the production that makes me feel a bit disappointed. On the contrary, Engage has a very neat sound in which each instrument is essential. What I do feel, is that the new album doesn't add something new to the band. While I tend to think there is less aggression and less interesting intros, there are still those elements. I'm not entirely fair. There's a rap song on the album, which is something you probably haven't heard from these boys before. Did I expect too much?

The Juliana Theory - Live 10-31-2001, Tooth & Nail Records

Recorded at Club Laga, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. This live album features songs from the first two albums from this interesting band. It's not hard to imagine this band live, while listening to the CD. There's the club, chock-full of people, singing along as much as possible. Singer Brett Detar announces the next song, girls yell, but immediately they quit doing so, as they want to sing along. Yes, The Juliana Theory is a boy band, but very fortunately they know how to rock hard! I had to smile a lot during the concert, because there's a great vibe. Some of the songs that are worth mentioning are Duane Joseph, We're At The Top Of The World and Into The Dark. This album almost sounds too good to be true. I like it!

Anberlin - Blueprints For The Black Market, Tooth & Nail Records

Anberlin is a fairly new quintet from Orlando, Florida, USA. Their heavy rock is energetic, yet gently as the lead vocals are gentle and there are harmonic vocals as well. Comparisons are easily made. You can hear influences from The Cure and Foo Fighters. If you hear the intro to Change The World, you might think of Stavesacre. The sound is huge anyway. Personal favorites are Change The World, Cold War Transmissions and Cadence. I could write a long review to say the same. I keep it short: For a new and debuting band this is a dream record!

Spoken - A Moment Of Imperfect Clarity, Tooth & Nail Records

Spoken exists since 1996 and made four albums. The first three came out through Metro One Music. However, of their previous material I only heard the song Think For Yourself, from their 1997 album On Your Feet. That song was similar to Rage Against The Machine. In comparison A Moment Of Imperfect Clarity sounds like a grown-up band with a different musical approach. Garth Richardson signed for the production of the album. The result is solid. Spoken has a melodic approach to their heavy rock music. There is clean singing as well as raw shouting, but all with a sense for melody. On the cover of the promo CD it is mentioned that this band is recommended if you like Linkin Park. It's not hard to guess why. But Spoken is not the same. Contrary to that one song from 1997, I don't hear any rap stuff from them now. A Moment Of Imperfect Clarity is a record with some beautiful songs.

Beloved - Failure On, Solid State Records

I downloaded one of this band's new tunes and wasn't impressed. However, this disc came my way.  A bit reluctantly I put it in the CD-player. I can't say when - from the start or after listening to it a few times - but I started liking this record. Beloved knows how to combine brutal hardcore with melodic outings, creating various sounds. Vocally the raw shouted parts are really attractive. The variation of hard and mellow parts as well, like in Death To Traitors. Some transitions from brutal hardcore to the melodic aren't as smooth as they could be, though. A song like Watching The Lines Blur starts like a classic U2 song. Fortunately there are also some up-tempo passages. So, the overall experience is a nice one, after all.

Balance Of Power - Heathen Machine, Massacre Records

You've come to expect a great album from UK's Balance Of Power. Their fifth album, however, features a new singer, who replaced the talented Lance King. The newcomer is John K. His range is comparable to King, which makes him fit in with the music perfectly. Listen to No Place Like Home to get proof of his abilities. Just like the previous album Perfect Balance, Heathen Machine was produced by drummer Lionel Hicks. While Perfect Balance had clear pop hooks, the new album is a heavier progressive metal release. Not to say there are no catchy parts, but besides the song Just Before You Leave, with its ballad-like features, it never becomes really mellow. Only the song Wake Up Call has a real catchy chorus, something Perfect Balance demonstrated a lot more. Although the album is heavier than its predecessor, the music still sounds like you might expect from Balance Of Power. The production is very good. Yet, I think I prefer Perfect Balance. Matter of taste.

The Rick Ray Band - Out Of The Mist Of Obscurity, Neurosis Records

Earlier this year The Rick Ray Band released the 69 minutes long Into The Hands Of Sinners. The follow-up is another 55 minutes from this remarkable band. Band wise the only change is the replacement of John Cek by Sam Glorioso. Glorioso also wrote on two songs, but I can't put my finger on his influence. Out Of The Mist Of Obscurity is an album with seventies inspired progressive rock with an underground feel and improvisations. There are influences from jazz and blues. There are a few more straightforward rock tunes too. It's not very heavy music, though an open minded metal fan might appreciate Rick Ray's guitar soloing. He definitely has some interesting licks to produce. The use of clarinet is a very unusual element in today's rock music. You can hear this instrument in several songs. To draw a conclusion, this new disc shows the many facets of past music, yet combined with a sense for experiment, the trademark of true progression.

Kekal - 1000 Thoughts Of Violence, Fear Dark

Can you believe that? Hiphop beats in a black metal song? Kekal, known for its progressive black metal extravaganza, is definitely trying to make you want to check if your ears are still operating well. Okay, I admit, this hiphop influence is only in one song evident. But in another there are breakbeats all over... However, in the first three songs the black metal takes a more definite form, in combination with classic metal. Especially the use of keyboards give the track Vox Diaboli an eerie feel. 1000 Thoughts Of Violence is a package of a lot of great sounds, but often wrapped up in such a manner that I can't appreciate the entire end result. There are moments of grandeur and also moments that I'd like to skip parts. Band leader Jeff is doing quite some clean vocals, but he sounds fragile. I'm not feverish about them. Lyrically you can expect a lot of social criticism. I have mixed emotions about his record.

Virgin Black - Elegant...And Dying, Massacre Records

The new Virgin Black is no attempt to be commercially interesting at all. Except one track, all songs are at least six minutes. The longest of them all is over 17 minutes. As a deejay I can't say I'm happy with this. Musically it may be appealing. Just like on Sombre Romantics, the previous album, the band succeeds in combining elements of gothic and doom metal. The music sometimes has opera-lie features (as in Adorned In Ashes and The Everlasting) that are reminiscent of Saviour Machine. Typical for Virgin Black are the frequent use of cello and piano. Also the vocals of Rowan London vary a lot. In Velvet Tongue he sounds wailing. Falsetto singing can be heard in Renaissance. At times he is whispering. Often his vocals become like an instrument rather than just a voice. But he never becomes aggressive. Elegant...And Dying is a record with a dark atmosphere. It has very beautiful moments and is played so well. Still I would have liked a few radio friendlier tunes, which make me prefer Sombre Romantic.

Flight 09 - Forbidden Lullabies, Neurosis Records

Progressive rock from Uzbekistan. Last year Neurosis Records surprised with the album Rifflections. Forbidden Lullabies is a more than worthy follow up for Flight 09. The album contains eight songs and most of them are pleasant to listen to. Take for instance The Absolution with keyboards giving it its cool atmosphere. This song is one of the heaviest tunes as most of the material is quite mellow (hence the Lullabies...). The sound quality is good. The record was produced and mixed by Vitaly Menshikov. He managed to help Flight 09 up a few levels. Nice album.

Empty Grave - Inside The Man There Is An Empty Space Which Has The Size Of God, Independent

It's evident that I'm not going to repeat the title of this disc twice in this review. Nor am I going to write something about each song. Even though there are only 26 minutes of music on this album, there are 81 songs! Empty Grave is a grindcore band from Brazil. The vocals vary from shrieking to grunts. Sometimes they sound like you've entered a pigsty (like in Armagedon Sonore & Fundamento Sobre La Roca). Like many bands in this style of music the album's got a disgusting cover. You can see a corpse with protruding bowels. I'm not particularly fond of this kind of cover art. The music also doesn't appeal to me. Fans of Vomitorial Corpulence might wanna check out Empty Grave.

Moriah - Where, Death, Is Your Victory, Independent

The Brazilian band Moriah comes with a nice mix of doom, death and black metal. The title track makes me think of Ashen Mortality, mainly because of the organ-like keyboards. The use of piano Moriah has in common with Morphia. The song His Death Was Brutal even sounds like a Morphia song, with some extra black metal elements. In other words, this bands mixed various well known parts from other bands and came up with this EP. It's not very original, but the music is fairly good. Moriah are not as good as their peers, but given time they might develop into something much more interesting. Even this EP is likeable.

Clemency - Divine Legions At War, Extreme Records

Now here's some brutal death metal. Clemency can be described as brutal death metal with an overdose of double bass and blastbeats. Yet the music isn't simplistic. In each song simple passages are varied with more technical parts. Guitar solos embellish most of the tracks. There's one lighter track: the instrumental Ascension Of The Imperial Hordes, which is only keyboards and drums. The song has a dark atmosphere. Divine Legions At War ends with Unearthed, a cover from the old Crimson Thorn song. The quality of the album is not top notch, but very agreeable. However, while one song might appeal to me, the entire album is a little bit too much for me to swallow. After a while a lot of things start sounding the same to me, like repeating the same recipe. Finally, what I want to mention as well, is that the album has beautiful cover art.

Spirit's Breeze - Eternal Suffering, Independent

This eight song album contains brutal death metal in the vein of Clemency. Spirit's Breeze is also a Brazilian band. Just like Clemency their music is filled with double bass and blastbeats. An interesting difference is that besides a guy doing grunts, they have a girl handling the growls. You have to listen carefully to hear it's a woman. An other difference is the omission of guitar solos. There are hardly any on Eternal Suffering. Only in Satan's Technology there is a simple solo. Even though this album's an independent release, the end result is quite good. Unfortunately the inlay doesn't give any information about the producer and the studio. Anyway, whoever did it and wherever, the result counts!

Woodencross - Lang Zu, Pesch Records

Four years of waiting are finally paying off with the follow-up to XXX, the band's previous effort. Lang Zu is, as you may have expected on basis of the title, an album with German lyrics. Even though the music has something in common with bands like the O.C. Supertones (though lighter) and The Insyderz, the German lyrics give this album a completely different feel. There's a mix of various styles including punk, funk (in So Egal), heavy rock and, of course, ska. It can be happy and catchy music. My favorite track, Lang Zu, is a good example. Bass, guitar and drums are sometimes combined with various wind-instruments. The saxophone solo in Schlag In Den Bauch is really nice. Lyrically the band discusses social topics like overweight, the hunger in the world and the transitoriness of life. Overall this is a neat package though I would have liked it a little bit heavier here and there.

Rob Rock - Eyes Of Eternity, Massacre Records

It took me quite some time before I could review this album. I simply had to get used to it and get Rob Rock's previous album out of my system. His debut solo album Rage Of Creation was likely to be my favorite metal album of 2000. I unconsciously expected an encore. Eyes Of Eternity isn't. Yes, here are still the remarkable vocal qualities of Rock. What he's got to offer is still top notch melodic metal. But Eyes Of Eternity is also a heavier album, with more uptempo stuff and less influenced by the eighties. The most amazing track on the album is the twelve minute epic song The Hour Of Dawn. This song features guitar solos from Roy Z., Gus G., Tom Naumann, CarlJohann Grimmark, Rick Renstrom, Jeff Kollman, Jack Frost, Howie Simon, Jimi Bell and Axel Rudi Pell as well as keyboard solos from Mistheria and Alex Argento. These solos fill more than four minutes and I can't help cranking up the volume each time I hear this song. There are other great tunes on Eyes Of Eternity. With a production of Roy Z this album is sure to be a common household item for any melodic metal fan.

Dust Eater Dogs - Hardbiter's Inn, Just Records

This is the new album from Dust Eater Dogs and the first with Canine Christer who replaced guitarist Harri Heikanen. The previous album was built around the theme 'oil'. The new one is all about food. The track listening is presented as the Hardbiter's Inn Menu. For example, the song Cementruck Slidin' is described as a truck drivers favorite. However, lyrically there's no direct connection with this description. I guess they did it this way to enhance the package as if each song is a nice treat. It's funny. Lyrically funny is the song Chronic Redneck about a child who wants to hear Dust Eater Dogs rather than his mom singing a lullaby. Most of the other songs are quite serious, handling topics as greed (Hoofbeats) and God's strength versus the world's strength. The music is a mix of hardcore (most prominent in Hoofbeats), heavy rock, folk, punk and metal. You can't really put your finger on the style as Dust Eater Dogs succeeded in cooking their own style. Kari Nieminen produced the Hardbiter's Inn. Though I'm not familiar with this producer, he certainly managed to get another interesting DeD album done. Just listen to songs as Amateurs Built Titanic, Hoofbeats and The Bronze Snake. Those are the treats.

Deep Insight - Ivory Tower, Fullsteam Records

This band hardly exists for two years and yet they released a full-length as a follow-up to last year's Julia EP. In a year much can change. Both creatively and music wise this is a jump forward for the band. Ivory Tower contains solid songs, written with nice hooks and a variety of emo rock and more poppy tracks. One of the songs that got my attention is the heavy rock 'n roll song Superficial. The majority of the songs isn't that heavy. In fact, this is a real mellow emo product that's quite relaxing. Ariel Björklund (member of Minus SF & Callisto) signed for the production and he did his job well. Here and there some cello, grand piano and harp were added as well as programming to embellish the songs. Some of the lyrics on this album are quite clear (Stockholm), others are cryptic (Zebras On The Wall). Sometimes you have to dig deeper to get the meaning. Anyway, Ivory Tower contains some well crafted, beautiful songs if you want to chill out.

Harmony - Dreaming Awake, Massacre Records

Harmony is a new Swedish band. They were formed a few years ago by guitarist Markus Sigfridsson and drummer Tobias Enbert. The formation is now complete. One of the members is Andreas Olsson who is also known for his work in Narnia. And it's not only Olsson this band has in common with Narnia. Music wise it's like listening to a new Narnia album with a different singer. Harmony is not exactly the same but the style and the feel of the album is definitely in the same vein. The biggest difference is that the riffing here is much more straight forward. Also the keyboards are more prominent in Harmony. But the guitar solos sound much like those on a Narnia album. One thing is for sure: They play very well and are thus a welcome addition to the melodic metal scene. These songs are all real nice.

As I Lay Dying - Frail Words Collapse, Metal Blade Records

This album is evidence that metalcore can be exciting. Over the past seven years I heard many metalcore albums, but Frail Words Collapse is sheer aggression that will pump the adrenaline into your veins! The opening track 94 Hours has topped the mp3.com metal charts for a long time. It's probably the catchiness of aggression and the perfect blend of hardcore and metal in this song that made it so popular for downloaders. Not every song on this album is equally aggressive though. As I Lay Dying is a comparatively young band (started in 2001) but the members are experienced musicians that played in bands such as Society's Finest and Edge Of Mortality. The production is excellent. I really like songs as 94 Hours, The Beginning, Collision and A Thousand Steps. A real must-have for metalcore fans.

Ken Tamplin & Friends - Wake The Nations, Now & Then Records

Ken Tamplin has a rich past in melodic rock music. He became popular in the eighties when he played in bands such as Joshua and Shout. Since the early nineties he invested in his solo career. The first solo disc was also entitled Ken Tamplin & Friends. Wake The Nations proves Tamplin assembled more friends than ever, including Marty Friedman, Doug Aldridge, Jeff Scott Soto, Kee Marcello, Reb Beach and several others. With such a well esteemed artist like Ken Tamplin himself this is sure a guarantee for a top notch album. The first track, The Story Of Love, is just one great example of his catchy songwriting combined with the excellent singing of him and Jeff Scott Soto and Philip Bardowell. It's great melodic hard rock. And this song is no exception as to what the rest of the record has to offer. Wake The Nations is also a record with many faces in the sense that there's variety. There are bold rock songs as well as nice ballads and God In Heaven is more in the blues rock vein. In several songs there are harmonic vocals and with eleven guest guitarist to pick from, you may expect some real smoking solos! While many nowadays artists sell albums with less than forty minutes of music, Ken Tamplin offers 18 tracks filling 78 minutes. I love this man!

Big Dismal - Believe, Wind-Up Records

This ten song album from Big Dismal is a heavy rock album in the vein of 12 Stones, Kane & Bush. Often the verses are mellow with acoustic guitar picking while the choruses are heavier. The raw voice of Eric Durrance fits the music perfectly. He's a good singer and even though the music isn't quite original, the combination of vocals and music is great. Interestingly, the album features background vocals from Amy Lee from Evanescence in Missing You. With the present popularity of Evanescence you may wonder why Amy didn't get a more prominent spot. But the album was recorded before Amy Lee's band broke through of course. Anyway, Missing You is a real nice song, just as Reality and Too Pretty. The production by Jack Joseph Puig is fairly good resulting in an album Big Dismal shouldn't feel ashamed of!

Narnia - The Great Fall, Nuclear Blast Records

Narnia is finally back with a new album. This excellent Swedish melodic metal band comes with different accents on The Great Fall. It's an album with a diversity of styles. There's a catchy power metal track (The Countdown Has Begun) right after the introduction. Then follows a thrash influenced song (Back From Hell). Progressive metal comes round in No Time To Lose. Each of these songs has the distinctive Narnia sound with the excellent guitar playing from Carljohann Grimmark and the vocals of Christian Rivel (previously known as Christian Liljegren) as important factors. There are guest appearances of Anders Johansson of Hammerfall and Eric Clayton of Saviour Machine. The last person can be heard in the epic song The Great Fall Of Man that ends this album. This final song is really wonderful. It sounds like a mix of Saviour Machine, Veni Domine and Narnia. There's also a choir in it. Unfortunately the song ends abruptly as if someone pulls out the plug. This must have a symbolic meaning though I would've preferred it dying away slowly. Now it leaves me craving for more. Hopefully it won't be a two year wait again!

Crimson Moonlight - The Covenant Progress, Rivel Records

Here's music that sounds like shells from tanks pounding against the wall of the house with the speed of machine gun fire. This describes exactly the feel of the ferocious parts on this new disc from Crimson Moonlight. Just start track five, the remake of Eternal Emperor. This is harsh black metal with furious pounding snare and lots of double bass drumming. There are many of these harsh songs in which keyboards take a role. The line-up of Crimson Moonlight has changed of the past few years. Former Sanctifica member Hubertus Liljegren was the latest addition. A song like Path Of Pain sounds like a mix of Sanctifica and Crimson Moonlight with subtle keyboard playing. There's one totally different track: The Covenant. This final track is played on keyboard only, and what a great song that is! It sounds like movie music. My total impression of this album is that it's amazing. Though the aggression can be overwhelming, there is also much room for breaks. The sound of The Covenant Progress is way cool! This album is definitely one of the best extreme metal efforts lately. The booklet accompanying the disc looks great too. If you buy it, be ready for panzer divisions assaulting your house!

Pantokrator - Blod, Rivel Records

Death metal band Pantokrator from Sweden has been around for a while. With Blod the members of the band prove they've left behind the demo days for good as this records makes clear they're up to the real stuff. Blod has ten songs with a constant variation of doomy, midtempo and fast parts without giving an overdose of double bass. The guitar sound is fat and heavy and in many songs there are some female vocals while singer Karl Walfridsson has a raw grunt. The doomier parts make me think of old Antestor. A song like Blod Kopar Från Jorden is one of the tracks bringing Groms back to memory. The album also has violin playing in Tidevarv which, at times, has resemblances to Believer's Trilogy Of Knowledge. Blod is also a concept album starting with the fall of mankind in paradise (the CD actually starts with the sound of someone biting in an apple), and ending with the dawn of eternity. Everything is sung in Swedish but all lyrics are translated in the booklet. This helps to get an idea of what Blod is about as the Swedish is hard to follow! Conclusion: death metal fans have another album to embrace!

Sons Of Thunder - Circus Of Power, Rivel Records

The glamorous cover of this disc might be deceiving, as well as the big band playing the first melody on it. Sons of Thunder is a metal band! The band describes themselves as praise metal. I have a CD called Metal Praise featuring artists from Sacred Warrior, Bloodgood, Rez and Whitecross. But Sons Of Thunder can't be compared with the music on that CD. Circus Of Power contains metal that sounds a little more up to date, heavier, and the songs are original. Through the lyrics the band tries to praise God. It's heavy metal with various influences. There are power metal leanings and there are raps (in Flames Of Fire). Sometimes there are some nice grooves. There are funky parts in Superstar. The band produced this album while Torbjörn Weinesjö from Veni Domine took care of the mixing process. The result is not bad, yet the songs don't convince me. I can't get excited.

The Rick Ray Band - Into The Hands Of Sinners, Neurosis Records

The new effort from the Rick Ray Band features twelve songs filling 69 minutes. This band has shared stages with Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush and Robin Trower, with music that goes back to seventies progressive rock. It's music with lots of instrumental parts including duels between guitarist Rick Ray and clarinet player Rick Schultz as in You're Not Alone. Some of the songs have a jazz rock flavor and here and there some percussion was added for good measure. The instrument playing is quite good, though this is not a top notch recording, sound wise. In fact, it sounds like it was recorded with seventies recording techniques which keeps this underground. From a positive perspective you might say it suits this music, without giving it a fake retro sound. The lightest track is the acoustic instrumental Loriann which is really beautiful. Other tracks that attract my attention in particular are Only Human with vocals from drummer John Cek, and The Road To Freedom that makes me think of good old Midnight Oil. Back to the seventies!

Immortal Souls - Ice Upon The Night, Fear Dark

Before singer Aki Särkioja opens his mouth for his first notes you might be deceived by the first track, Everwinter. This song starts like a power metal band. It's energetic and sounds quite happy. But when you hear the nasty biting grunt (close to black metal), you'll know this is a different kind of metal band. The music sounds so happy that it forms a remarkable contrast with the vocals. But they fit together. Together they give this song a light-hearted, sunny, feel. The music is quite catchy, also because there is this constant variation of mid tempo and fast parts full of energy. Not all songs are this way, though. A song like Sacrifice is more in the Sentenced vein. The lead guitar playing enhances the songs in all cases as Immortal Souls knows when to stop. In many ways Ice Upon The Night is like its predecessor Under The Northern Sky though the new one sounds more mature and balanced. While the previous had a greenish look, this one has reddish artwork that I don't associate with ice or night. Anyway, this is easy to digest metal to get in a happy mood. Real nice ear candy.

Random Eyes - Eyes Ablaze, Independent

I'm amazed every time when releases from Finnish bands come my way. Whether their efforts are recorded well or not, in most cases it doesn't seem to matter. The bands come up with great songs and Random Eyes is not an exception. Fortunately, I got to know six of their songs already and these are on Eyes Ablaze as well with four other songs filling 42 minutes. Random Eyes is great melodic metal with lots of harmonic vocals from the two singers: female singer Katja and former Exlife singer Christian Palin. The music isn't very complicated, yet very catchy with a huge sound. A few tracks are a bit lighter, like the beautiful Little Angel. The song Soldier, on the other hand, is a powerful tune with its thriving riffs. Random Eyes is a seven headed band responsible for solid songwriting while Arttu Sarvanne made sure the production is very acceptable. I like this band. There might have been a few extra solos here and there but each song is a delight.

Sacrificium - Cold Black Piece Of Flesh, Whirlwind Records

The German death metal band Sacrificium finally returns with a new release. This time it's a full length album containing ten songs and looking at the titles I notice they've re-recorded a few classics like Psalm Of The Unborn and Paupers Grave. When I saw them live last year, they played those songs, so, why not! The first song (title track) is a nice indication of what the rest of the album is like. The song starts with fast drumming but then continues mid tempo soon. The band varies straightforward parts with technical parts. Only occasionally there are fast parts. The sound is thick throughout the album. And singer Claudio has a very deep, dry grunt. It's hard to make out what he's actually uttering, at least without a lyric sheet and my promo hasn't. The production by the band and guitarist Oliver Tesch is fairly good. Cold Black Piece Of Flesh is an album that leaves a good impression. I don't like every bit of it, but songs like Killing With Style and Psalm Of The Unborn are definitely highlights.

Brain:FAQ - Nutze Die Zeit,    Redtogrey Records

When listening to the follow-up to the Brainstorming EP, two things immediately come into mind. First of all, the much improved sound quality of this CD. Even though Brainstorming had good songs like Be Free, the new album just has much better sonics. The other thing that strikes me is the fact that all songs are sung in German this time. It's a pity they didn't have one or two exceptions. Nevertheless, the German lyrics add to the dark feel of the album. Musically, Nutze Die Zeit might please both the open-minded metal as the hardcore fans. Sometimes this music is like playing riffs while driving on a bumpy road. You can hear groovy rhythms with diverse vocal deliveries. There are aggressive screams, melodic parts and sometimes singer Robert Kunz is panting for breath (in Verloren). Overall, the album has a nice variety of sounds and feels. I can't say anything about the way the album is wrapped up as the promo came as a burned CD in my case. One thing is sure though: Brain:FAQ is a band that has talent!

Tourniquet - Where Moth And Rust Destroy, Metal Blade Records

With this new album Tourniquet continues along the path they've taken since Microscopic View Of A Telescopic Realm which came out in 2000. You can hear quite long songs (the longest is almost ten minutes) that mix groovy metal with good old thrash while sometimes there are abrupt changes in songs when tempos and riffs are shifted. Yet the aggressiveness that characterized the previous record is not as dominant anymore. Prevalent on Where Moth And Rust Destroy are the wealthy solos. Tourniquet hired in Marty Friedman (formerly of Megadeth) and Bruce Franklin (of Trouble) to take care of this part. Sometimes these solos give the songs a bluesy touch (in the titletrack for example) and enhance in most cases this album. Only at some point in Healing Waters Of The Tigris the solos become too much freaking for a song, I think. They would've been perfect in an instrumental Tourniquet normally presents. Anyway, the production is pretty good and some of the best songs on this record are Drawn And Quartered, Architeuthis and the title track.

Soul Embraced - Immune, Solid State Records

Started out as an aggressive death metal band, Soul Embraced is more and more incorporating metalcore influences. The fast speeds and black metal influences are almost gone now and instead you'll hear midtempo or slow paced metalcore with death metal vocals. As metalcore reached its zenith over the past seven years one might wonder if Soul Embraced has something new to offer to the scene. However, I'm still looking for the answer as Immune doesn't impress me. I've heard this done before and often in more exciting ways. I really pity this as the sonics on this album are probably the best Soul Embraced ever delivered. Regardless of my somberness Immune has a few beautiful moments. Tracks most worth your attention are I Bury You, Someone Just Walked Across My Grave and On Your Own.

Dogwood - Seismic, Tooth & Nail Records

Ever since the departure of guitarist Sean O'Donnell (who wrote 90% of all music on the previous album Matt Aragon) I've been wondering about the future of this talented punk band. Seismic is proof that they're continuing and O'Donnell is back, this time as producer along with Sam Boukas. New on guitars is Daniel Montoya (formerly of Logos) and to my surprise Dogwood still sounds like Dogwood. Elementary are the raw vocals of Josh Kemble while the music is mostly written by the other three members of the band (Daniel, bassist Jason Harper and drummer Russell Castillo). It's raw, melodic punk rock with fast and midtempo tunes but less fast stuff then on previous efforts. It's all slowing down. Yet this album is not always convincing me as easily as Matt Aragon and Building A Better Me did even though a couple of songs are quite appealing. The production was better in the past. Seismic is not causing an earthquake in Dogwood history but at least there's enough stirring to be hopeful as to the future.

Dust Eater Dogs - Motoroil, Fullsteam Records/Sitruunamaailma

The title of this disc may ring a bell. Previous albums from the Dust Eater Dogs were Motor (1998) and Oil (2001). Motoroil are those two records put together with two extra tunes. If you browse through the archives you'll find my original reviews of the two albums. To summarize, Motor is the raw rock album with screams and rap-like vocals, funky tunes and even some ska. Oil contains the same raw rock band with screams, better production and roots music influences. It was a more basic rock 'n roll sound compared to Motor. One of the bonus tracks is Sex Btm which was previously released on a compilation CD from Sitruunamaailma. It's a tune that would've fitted Motor perfectly. The other extra song is the demo version of Gecko Grip, one of the songs that will be on the next album. This song has almost a hardcore punk feel to it's rock 'n roll sound. Without any doubt the Dust Eater Dogs form one of the most interesting bands from Finland.

Callisto - Ordeal Of The Century, Fullsteam Records/Sitruunamaailma

Callisto is the band formerly known as Pulse from the Metal Rose Collection. Since their contribution to that compilation CD they've made progress. The tracks on Ordeal Of The Century are produced and constructed better. Musically it's still metalcore without really extreme speeds or chaotic rhythms. All the time it's slow or midtempo stuff with the harsh screams of Markus Myllykangas. But even with the lyric sheet in front of me it's hard to make out a word. Sometimes they could be a bit wilder, rhythmically, as these songs start sounding much like each other after a while. Ordeal Of The Century is a good product but as there are already so many metalcore discs out it's hard to stick out (and please the spoiled listener!).

Goodbye Audio - Run To You, Independent

The promo that I received from this American band, is a burned copy. That's not something new to me, but the omission of song titles is. There are twelve tracks on their album and I have no idea how they're called! Let's describe their music then. Goodbye Audio are a melodic rock band with Christian worship themes plastered all over. It's smooth sounding rock music with gentle, clean singing from a guy and a girl. The attached bio informs me that Goodbye Audio is the band of Chris Shandrow who has worked with Miss Angie and The Frantics. Bassist Jimmy Wise played with Miss Angie too. The other two members are Louis and Stacy Lux who were part of Stereo Deluxx. In other words, Goodbye Audio consists of experienced members. You can hear it in the songs too. Nice songs even though they lack the heaviness I usually prefer. It's a lighter version of Delirious.

Kite - Soil, Feedback Records/DOT Music

Kite is a new name to me. This Swedish band consists of five members including singer Josef Magnusson. His singing makes me think of Kane and even musically there's a comparison to be made. Often songs are structured with mellow verses and heavier choruses. One of the most interesting songs, Pray, has that structure as well as Kite. The last song describes the motto of the people in the band: "This story about the Kite is how I want my life to be." Kite leaves no doubt about their Christian backgrounds. Even though the core of the album is melodic rock music, there are also a few mellow songs. Overall the album isn't very heavy nor very progressive but the production is good. If it's their debut (I'm not sure) it's a fairly good start.

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