Various Artists - The Story So Far DVD, Guideline Records
This is my first DVD review for Art For The Ears. The Story So Far is an
initiative from Guideline Records, giving an impression of the four bands on their roster:
Descend To Rise, Opposition Of One, More Than Ever and Today Forever. Each band fills at
least fifteen minutes on the DVD, with three or four songs recorded live, plus a filmed
interview. The first impression of this disc is good. The menus look very good. The
interviews were done on well chosen locations. Both interviews as live registrations were
filmed from different camera angles, though you can't view them apart. But the footage is
professionally put together, giving a dynamic view of the bands. You'll get a shot
adrenaline from watching these shows. I'm not infatuated with the stationary they added
though, as they are a little too distracting. I also miss shots taken of the
audience and how they interact with the bands. There are only glimpses of this. The
quality of the film and the audio is fine. Very nice are the extras, including a video
clip of Descend To Rise's The Enemy Inside Of Me (for this one you can choose between four
different camera angles), a lengthy interview with label owner Benson and a live-in-studio
recording from More Than Ever. Hardcore fans will lick their fingers while watching this
DVD. Personally I was rather pleased to see Today Forever. Great band, playing in a nice
underground scene location! One serious drawback is that the package itself doesn't
mention what songs the DVD contains (though the titles are shown while playing the disc),
nor that this is a region 2 DVD. The interviews are in German. You can choose to have them
subtitled in English. The subtitles are clear although they sometimes disappear too soon,
while the band members are still talking. Overall this is a pleasant DVD to watch.
Divinefire - Into A New Dimension, Rivel Records/Metal Heaven
Divinefire is back with their third and definitely their heaviest album to
date. This Swedish trio has their own unique sound that encompasses melody and aggression,
passionate and harmonic vocals as well as occasional grunts. This is music with the
intensity of extreme metal and a flair for melody, normally only present in melodic metal
styles. On Into A New Dimension the band adds the aggression of thrash metal, yet without
the common rawness of this musical direction. The refined sound of Divinefire is acquired
by the keyboards as well as the vocals, though singer Christian Rivel is at times rawer
than ever. This makes the music very catchy and the lyrics very easy to sing along to.
Very fortunate for a deejay, is the length of each song. Most tracks are between three and
four and a half minute, which is a perfect length for airplay on the radio. The album ends
with a nice, gentle instrumental tune (The Last Encore) and a neatly done cover of Free
Like An Eagle (originally from Talk Of The Town). Into A New Dimension is a top notch
album with a tight production. Possibly the best Divinefire output so far.
Skin For Skin, Retroactive Records
I have a huge respect for bands who stick together through thick and thin.
Bride is such a band. They formed in the mid eighties and have been together since. Their
heydays were ten years ago, when they successfully released albums like Snakes In The
Playground and Scarecrow Messiah and did international tours. The core of Bride never
changed and is formed by the brothers Dale and Troy Thompson. On Skin For Skin they play
some good old dirty rock music, with some blues influences. Dale Thompsons vocals are as
raw as usual, melting really well with the music. If this album was released during their
highlight years, I'm sure it would have been an instant success. All the elements are
here: the raw music, recognisable choruses, good riffs, variation. This is a talented band
that deserves more attention. Some of the tracks worth checking are End Of Days, Hard To
Kick, Breathless, The Government and Super Ego Star. The album ends with a nice ballad
called Hang Out, written by Dale's son Alex. A good record.
Tortured Conscience - Every Knee Shall Bow, Bombworks Records
Tortured Conscience is a band name I've been familiar with for ages,
without knowing any of their musical offerings. Every Knee Shall Bow is in fact their
first official album. The band pulls of some aggressive and dark old school death metal
with lots of fast parts, blastbeats and a double bass overload. The vocals vary from very
low grunts to a hissing kind of growl. Fans of fast old school death metal will have to
check this album out. My favorite tracks are The Trial (with nice riffs, ferocious energy
and a great guitar solo) and No Ambiguity (which is a slower oriented track). The albums
ends with a cover version of Crucify, originally from Bloodgood. Style wise it's a real
Tortured Conscience track, but on the other hand the band remained as faithful to the
original as possible.
Amsterdam - Wake Up!, Independent
There's only one Fort Knox Amsterdam. This Dutch band from the capital
city has secured their own niche of the hard music market, with their odd combination of
styles. These guys don't shrink back from mixing ska with hardcore, thrash metal with rap.
After releasing three demos the band finally brought out their first official EP with
eight songs. A lot of these tracks I recognise from the demos. The sound quality is much
better though. Fort Knox Amsterdam is a band that will appeal live even more than on a CD,
I think. They've tried to make the CD sound almost live-ish. This EP helps to relive and
cherish concert memories and to spark a desire to see them build a party again.
Adiastasia - Life War, Bombworks Records
Adiastasia is a power metal band from Brazil. Musically it reminds me a
bit of old Seventh Avenue. I'm not sure if Life War is their first album or not. The music
is quite well written. I especially like the tasty guitar solos. Just listen to the intro
to Freedom Call or the solo in By Dreams. Here's a guitarist at work who plays fast parts
as well as more emotional parts with ease. The solos make listening to Life War a joy.
Unfortunately the vocals are not nearly as good. Though singer Jeff Winner isn't real bad,
quite a few times he sounds false. But he's not always as bad. He tries different ranges.
A few times he imitates a Bruce Dickinson type of vocals (as in The Fellowship). The rest
of the band does a fine job. Sound wise the album could have been better, but the quality
is sufficient. If this band knows how to increase the quality, both sound wise as vocally,
they might be a promise for the future. The guitarist is their secret weapon.
- Corrosive, Kr Records
Four years after the release of Waking Up The Dead Blissed brought out
Corrosive with twelve alternative metal tracks. The band went through some line-up
changes. The only position that remained the same, is that of singer. You can still here
David Pearson. Also Jeff Miller stayed with the band, but he now plays guitar instead of
bass. The new bassist is Geoff Breen. The new drummer is Nathan Kojak. Surprisingly, the
music is a continuation for the band. Corrosive is the next step with hard rock music full
of melodic vocals and yells. The production is good. The song writing as well, but there's
too much repetition. Some words and/or phrases are repeated so often (like
"Monster") that it becomes annoying after a while. This is a real pity, as the
band has a great potential with their creative riffs and interesting sounds.
Images Of Eden - Sunlight Of The Spirit, Nightmare Records
Images Of Eden are a progressive rock/metal band and Sunlight Of The
Spirit their second album. Their debut was actually a one-man-band initiative. Now the
band consists of three people. Like most music fans, vocals are very important to me. To
be honest I'm not enthusiastic about Gordon Tittsworths fragile vocal delivery. Especially
his high notes sound like they're almost too much for him. The music itself is real nice
with strong riffs and dreamy parts. There are some nice guitar solos. The keyboards add to
the atmosphere (like in Ethereal), as well as some acoustic parts. But overall I'm not
impressed and this mainly has to do with the vocals. Several songs would have been great
with the right vocals (like Midnight's Tide).
Century Sleeper - Awaken, Bombworks Records
Wow, what an album! Century Sleeper is an interesting project from James
Allin (Visionaire) and Ian Arkley (of My Silent Wake, and formerly of Seventh Angel &
Ashen Mortality). Rumors about this album were already promising, but Awaken is even
better than expected. This is a massive doom metal album with all the things that made
Seventh Angel in the early nineties so attractive. Add to that the dark passion of Ashen
Mortality and bit of old Paradise Lost. This is by far the best effort Ian Arkley ever has
come up with. The guitars are heavy and are combined with melodic lead guitar playing, the
vocals are dark (both the clean vocals as the grunts), and the rhythm section is powerful,
while the keyboard give the songs the final touch. I really dig songs like Voyage, Arnos
Vale, Lost On Your Ocean and Autumn. The rest of the songs are worth my while too. This is
an album to be proud of! I love it!
Angel 7 - Black And White, Bombworks Records
Angel 7 is one of the upcoming bands from the Ukraine. Now they're
labelmates with their countrymen of Holy Blood. Angel 7 has a lot in common with Holy
Blood, including the Slavonic influences and the harsh metal sound. The band
actually is a two-man-band. Nikolay Kiriljuk is the guitarist, Slava Malinn does the rest.
Musically Angel 7 is a combination of power metal, black metal, thrash and heavy metal.
The album starts with an instrumental piece, with Slavonic melodies and sounds. A very
mellow song. The second track, New Heavens Above The New Land is exactly the opposite. It
starts with aggressive guitars and violent speeds. The sound is harder than power metal,
with lots of double bass, but musically it sounds in that vein. The vocals are shrieking.
They sound raspy, which makes them sound great (evil!). And with all the solos this is a
great song! Although the lyrics printed are English, Angel 7 sings in Russian. This adds
to the overall darkness of the release. In contrast with this, are the happy sounds that
can be found here too. The intro to The Eternity Calls is filled with happy energy. The
melodic guitar and keyboard solos also make the songs sound more attractive. Black And
White will appeal to fans of extreme metal as well as the power metal fans. Angel 7
combines styles convincingly. Fine production too.
Circus Dawn - Between The Lines Of Gray, Youngside Records
Circus Dawn debuted two years ago with Avant Garde. In my review of that
album I wrote: "Circus Dawn certainly has potential." With the follow-up album
Circus Dawn proves that I was right. Here's a very fine piece of hard music. The keyboard
arrangements and scratches from Avant Garde are gone. Between The Lines Of Gray is filled
with a perfect mix of subtle melodies and harsh, pounding rhythms. At times the band makes
me think of Demon Hunter, like in the closing track Of Thunder And Beauty. There are clean
choruses on the album that you can sing along to, but there are also lots of screams.
There are also two mellow songs of which The Perfect sounds really pleasant. Other great
tracks are The Faceless Crowd, Dead Heroes and Lotus Sky. The production is good and the
instrument playing make Between The Lines Of Gray a pleasure to listen to.
- Dying To Find Myself, Independent
This is the first rapmetal/hiphop metal CD I've heard in ages. I remember
a few bands in the mid nineties. But then rapcore came up. Phoenix, although described as
being influenced by hardcore, is mainly a hiphop artist who uses a metal sound to
accompany his raps. Though it doesn't sound groundbreaking, Dying To Find Myself is a
refreshment compared to what is dominating the international charts. There are a few
screams here and there, like in Run, but they sound too shallow. Some of the clean vocals
could be done with a bit more conviction too. But overall this album is nice to listen to
for fans of rapmetal. Only the last three songs are a bit different, with two of them are
without heavy guitars, while the third is a combination of hardcore, punk and metal. My
favorite tracks on the disc are One-Thirty Eight and A Voice For Those Who Can't Speak.
It's a shame the CD is only 28 minutes long.
- The Other Side Of Midnight, Independent
Stairway is a band existing since 1978 and with a steady line-up since
1982... They started at the same time as the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal came up and
this is clear from the start when you listen to the fourth album of this British quartet.
No Mercy, the first track, is energetic melodic metal, with clean vocals and well executed
guitar solos. The third track, Burn, starts almost doomish, but the second half has a
great, powerful riff. One of my favorites is Lead Us with lots of great guitar solos and
sounds. Another tasty bit is the instrumental Cantabile. The songs starts with gentle
acoustic guitar strumming and picking, followed by a keyboard intermezzo. But then the
song turns into a real beautiful and stirring electrified end part. It's the kind of track
that gives you goose bumps. The Other Side Of Midnight end was the ballad My Life Goes On!
The album will appeal to fans of good old heavy metal.
- Space Between, Gerth Medien
The German rock band Crushead deliver their fourth CD called Space
Between. The record start with the rap rock song Keep Movin' to get you in the mood:
"1,2,3, microphone check, this is Crushead with the fourth set. Oh yes, we are back,
louder than a jumbo jet." I'm not sure about the jumbo jet, though. On their new
album this German band varies rap rock with modern rock songs with clean vocals. Crushead
writes attractive songs with head and tail. The sound is not as raw as the previous album
as I would have liked, though. But the musicianship is good. One of the tracks here is God
Gave Rock 'n Roll To You, a cover. The song was originally written by Kiss, but Crushead
adopted the arrangement the band Bride made of it in the mid nineties. A nice addition to
the album is the enhanced part. This contains the videoclip for the second song on the
disc, The One. This is also one of the heaviest tracks on the album. The two final songs
are not nearly as heavy, but are real nice. Overall Crushead delivered a decent album.
With a little more rawness they would appeal more to the hard music audience. The pop rock
fans will love this one.
Liberty N' Justice - Soundtrack Of A Soul, LNJ Records/MTM Music
Liberty N' Justice was a band formed in 1991. Liberty N' Justice still
exists, but the band only consists of one member, Justin Murr. And he doesn't even play
all the instruments on Soundtrack Of A Soul, so I suppose I can't call Liberty N' Justice
a one-man-band. It's something special that fans of eighties and early nineties hard rock
will dig. Justin Murr invited a great many musicians and singers to perform on Soundtrack
Of A Soul. This resulted in a very, and I mean very, interesting CD with different hard
rock/metal styles. Each song has a different singer, a different line-up. This makes the
album like a compilation. But it's not just good, it's great, it's fantastic. The list of
participating guests is too long for this review, but among the singers are Ez Gomer (Jet
Circus), Russell Arcara (Surgin/Prophet/Arcara), the Thompson brothers (Bride), Josh
Kramer (Saint), Tony Harnell (TNT/Starbreaker) and Phil Naro (Talas/Peter Criss Band).
Other musicians: Tim Gaines (formerly of Stryper), Mikkey Dee (Motörhead) and Harry Hess
(Harem Scarem). If those names don't ring a bell, let me tell you they are among hard
rock's greatest. And though all-star line-ups sometimes don't work, Soundtrack Of A Soul
does and that's because the songs are great. For a deejay that's a considerable problem.
Almost each song is interesting for airplay! This is a hard rock delight!
Narnia - At Short Notice... Live In Germany, MCM Music
This live-CD was recorded on March 29th 2003 and released in January 2006
by MCM, although Narnia brought out a DVD with the same registered concert through
Massacre Records some time ago. At Short Notice marks the end of an era. Here are songs
from the albums Narnia released with Nuclear Blast Records before their recent move to
Massacre Records. This live-album pretty much contains al the highlights from the Narnia
history. You can always discuss what songs should have been on this disc, but Inner
Sanctum, The Countdown Has Begun, Living Water and The Witch And The Lion deservedly got a
place on At Short Notice. Personally I would love to have seen an instrumental like Misty
Morning on the album. But the twelve songs on this record are good entertainment as well.
The quality is quite good. (Available through Youngside Records too)
Beauty For Ashes - My Secred Sin, Independent
Don't mistake this band for Beauty To Ashes or Frost Like Ashes. Beauty
For Ashes can best be described as moody rock music. The overall feel of the album is a
gothic one. The song titles express this, like there's the opening track Dark Days, the
heavy Black Dress and Dying Day. Most of the songs are not quite heavy. Beauty For Ashes
is clearly inspired by The Cure as you can hear in Black Dress. The vocals might be a
little darker at times, but on the whole My Secret Sin is a fine piece of work.(Available
through Youngside Records)
The Soul's Unrest - The Soul's Unrest, Bombworks Records
It's not hard to guess what band The Soul's Unrest draws their inspiration
from. Just after listening to the first minute I started thinking of Living Sacrifice. You
can hear the same heavy mix of metal and metalcore with vocals that are somewhere in
between the scream and the growl. But regardless of their inspirational source, The Soul's
Unrest do their thing with conviction. The seven songs on this EP prove that. People who
were feeling sad with the demise of Living Sacrifice, might have found a band to look out
for. I'm not enthusiastic about the cover. I can hardly make out what is pictured on the
Pyramaze - Legend Of The Bone Carver, Massacre Records/Nightmare Records
Legend Of The Bone Carver is the second album from the Danish/American
band Pyramaze. Their music can be described as epic metal. There are uptempo parts with
galloping riffs as well as midtempo or slower tempo passages. The keyboards add to the
atmosphere, as well as the piano parts (like in What Lies Beyond). The album also contains
a few very nice guitar solos. The most obvious element of the band sound is singer Lance
King. Fans of his vocal style know what to expect. Legend Of The Bone Carver is also a
concept album with a storyline throughout the record. The disc also has two spoken word
tracks, besides the eight full songs. An interesting album that fans of powerful melodic
metal will enjoy.
Lo-Ruhamah - Lo-Ruhama, Bombworks Records
Lo-Ruhamah is a new extreme metal band, from Missouri, USA. This EP only
has four tracks, but they fill 21 minutes with black metal inspired death metal. The first
track, Burden Of Reason, makes me think of Lengsel at times. Vocally Lo-Ruhamah combines
the black metal shrieking with growls. The final song also has clean vocals. There are
acoustic parts and a sort of folkish acoustic instrumental. Though the EP is definitely
not bad, I'm not too thrilled about it. From time to time there are good moments, but I
don't think the combination of black and death metal works very well in this case.
My Silent Wake - Shadow Of Sorrow, Bombworks Records
Eight years ago Ashen Mortality released their second album, Your Caress.
Unfortunately the band ceased to exist last year. However, My Silent Wake proves there's
no need to be sad. My Silent Wake is, sort of, a continuation of Ashen Mortality. Fans of
doomy death metal will rejoice. From the Your Caress line-up only singer and guitarist Ian
Arkley remains. Many of the songs on Shadow Of Sorrow could have been songs on third AM
album. Shadow Of Sorrow continues where Your Caress stopped. The album contains eleven
tracks. Most of them are quite long (Hunting Season is over 14 minutes, Through Greenest
Meadows 15). While many death metal bands nowadays incorporate black metal influences, My
Silent Wake stays pure. To be honest, I admire them for it. Shrieking vocals wouldn't have
contributed to the massive sound of this band. Doom metal fans will get something worth
their money with this release. I'm glad Ian Arkley is back!
Luminaria - Arche, Bombworks Records
Luminaria is a Polish quintet that mixes gothic metal with death and black
in a convincing way. Ethereal keyboard sounds and piano parts enhance their album greatly.
Arche is, as far as I know, the first musical offering from Luminaria. Sometimes,
especially during the piano parts (as in Lost To Imprison) they remind me of old Morphia.
Seven tracks were recorded from July 2003-April 2004. The final song, Al Aaraaf, was done
in June 2005. This makes me wonder what more we can expect from this band in the near
future. Ache is a nice start for a band and should have a follow-up.
Circus Dawn - Avant Garde, Independent
Circus Dawn is a band that plays various styles on their debut album Avant
Garde. From rapmetal with scratches, to nu metal. From grunge to early nineties industrial
metal a la Under Midnight (in Sideshow 9#). This album was released in November 2004 and
later picked up by Youngside Records. Circus Dawn certainly has potential, though I think
this album lacks the powerful production that it needs. And the clean vocals sound
sometimes a bit weak. Let's see what this band has in store for us. Their are plans for a
new record this year.(Available through Youngside Records)
Ascension Theory - Aswers, Nightmare Records
Answers is the second album from this in 2002 formed progressive
rock/metal band. Though this is the first time I hear music from these guys, they have
experience in playing with other bands for years. The line-up consists of Leon Ozug
(vocals, guitar & bass), Tim Becker (keyboards) and Chad Lenig (drums). Musically the
ten songs on Answers are well constructed songs with the heaviness of the riffs on
one side, and the melody and harmony of the vocals on the other. This contrast works well.
Nowhere the band really excels, but the album is well worth listening to. I also like the
rawness of the vocals in End Game, which was a guest appearance from someone called Mike
Miseno. The production is good.
Seven Angels - Faceless Man, Bombworks Records
This is a powermetal band in the vein of Seventh Avenue and Dragonforce,
but then with female vocals. And this is also the weakest spot for this band as I don't
like the way Debora sings and how she twists notes. I'm not opposed to female vocals. On
the contrary. I think they can be great. But in this case I really can't get into it. And
that's a pity because Seven Angels deserves better. On Faceless Man they've a nice bunch
of riffs and interesting guitar solos and sounds that are pleasant to listen to. Some
ideas are simply wonderful. But as soon as Debora starts to sing, the moment of enjoyment
is over for me. Only in very short instances she does a more classical style of singing
(at least I reckon it's her) where the vocals sound better. Like the background vocals in
Walking Over All The Seas. There are also a few guest vocalists, like in Unseen Truth that
features a Herbie Langhans-sound-alike singer. This track also has a very nice sax solo
played by Alexandre Alve De Macedo. Seven Angels have something great about them, but I'm
not entirely convinced vocally.
Avian - From The Depths Of Time, Massacre Records/Nightmare Records
Avian is one of the many bands that Lance King works with as a singer. The
band also has former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson in the line-up, along with Pyramaze
keyboardist Jonah Weingarten and guitarist Leviathan. Yan Leviathan started Avian in
November 2002. Musically the band combines progressive metal with the rawness of heavy
metal, while adding clean vocals and smooth keyboard playing for the atmosphere. Sometimes
the vocals sound a bit too distant. From The Depths Of Time varies very heavy songs with a
strong dose of double bass drumming, with lighter metal tracks. Considering the fact that
this album was recorded over a fair amount of time, it sounds pretty consistent in sound.
The guitar solos are played by Roger Moore, though I'm not infatuated with his style of
playing. Overall the album is quite decent.
Veni Domine - 23:59, MCM Music
The fifth Veni Domine album is probably their most ecclective and
experimental release to date. In the first track, Like I'm Crucified, you can hear the
classic Veni Domine singing, but there are also curious breaks and strange effects. The
third song has industrial influences and lots of keyboards, while it ends quite abruptly
as if unfinished. And Hyper Sober Nature has a country/western music kind of sound. To be
honest, I'm a bit disappointed with 23:59. Veni Domine is now only a shadow of what they
used to be. The mix is poor, making the sound muddy, and the drums are sometimes difficult
to hear. And the singing is often listless. But also the songs lack the passion and
conviction from the days of old. Only at times the band manage to refind their former
self. Valley Of The Visions, Die Another Day and The Frozen are the best attempts. For the
rest, the band seems to be in an identity crisis. I still have a week spot for them, but
what happened to Veni Domine?(Available through Youngside Records too)
Josh Kramer of Saint
- Live At Headbanger's Night 2, Independent
Here's a true veteran of heavy metal. Josh Kramer released his first album
with metal band Saint in 1984. Twenty-one years later he crossed the Atlantic Ocean for a
few concerts with a specially formed German band. The band consists of guitarist Patrick
Fuchs, guitarist Tilmann Ruby and bassist Carsten Kettering (who normally play in Ivory
Night) and Stefan Lang (of the band Adorned Graves). This recording was not meant to be on
a disc. But the involved people thought it was good enough for real fan to cherish. And
they are right, although the vocals are way too loud in the mix. The German band plays the
Saint songs with great accuracy. Josh Kramer himself seems to get better with each song.
The album contains old stuff as well as newer material from the reunited band Saint. There
are also two simple videos on this disc for the songs The Path and Phantom Of The
Galaxy/Steel Killer. Unfortunately, they are one camera angle only, but it gives at least
an idea of how this Headbanger's Night 2 has been like. Real underground stuff, and better
than expected. (Available through Whirlwind
Seven Rise Up - The Battlefield, Independent
By the look of the cover I expected black metal. It's a black cover with
vaguely visible the corpse painted faces of three or four long haired persons. But this
American band is definitely not a black metal band. They can roughly be described as a
crossover of thrash metal and atmospheric rock. The vocals vary from shrieking and grunts
to clean vocals. There's no drummer in the band. I reckon keyboardist Jason Johnson took
care of the beats. He's fond of the double bass effect. There are eight harsh metal tracks
on Battlefield. It's not bad, but sometimes I get the idea that each song is more or less
the same. (Available through Youngside
Revelation Project - Revelation Project, Independent
This is an album from 2002. Judging by the backcover I wasn't expecting
much. The backcover depicts the five-headed band: four guys and a girl. They seem to
differ in age at least fifteen years! And while one of them looks like a metalhead, and
the girl like a friendly next-door neighboors' daugther, the rest could be the parents of
either of the first two. And they don't look like they're a heavy band. But how wrong I
was, the CD proved. The second track, the instrumental Decay, is a good example of what
this band is up to. This is a good mix of progressive metal with symphonic rock. The
guitars are heavy, the bassist is doing a great job and the rest of the band as well. The
other tracks are not all as heavy as Decay though. The keyboard solo in Liars makes me
look at the girl (the keyboardist) in the picture twice. Yeah, the folks in Revelation
Project may not look like it, but they are much better than expected! In fact, I like
certain songs on this disc a great deal. The album is also quite long, over seventy
Enigma - Alteration, Independent
Back in 2003 it was revealed that Jason De Ron (formerly of Paramæcium)
and Jeff Arwadi (Kekal) were working on an album under the moniker of Altera Enigma. Now
that project is finally out and what a surprise this is! What can you expect when two
musicians from extreme metal bands collaborate? Well, this is a departure from their
roots. Most of the nine tracks are instrumentals. Only three tracks have sung parts.
Alteration has a lot of lead guitar parts, with different moods and atmospheres. Overall
you could describe the music as progressive rock/metal, but there are influences from
jazz-fusion all over. On one hand there are heavy songs with hard driven riffs (like
Enigmatic Alteration and Through Glass, Darkly), on the other hand there are laid back
instrumentals (like Fading and GGC 3370). But they fit together. Altera Enigma also wrote
a black metal song (Demand A Broader View), but they didn't put it on the record. A
fortunate decision as it would have sounded out of place here. Demand A Broader View is
available for download though. Production and sound wise this album is really enjoyable.
While some of the Kekal records leave something to wish for, Alteration is well done.
Yeah, it is a surprise, and a pleasant one too! One final comment. Altera Enigma also has
bassist Kenny Cheong in the line-up. In the inlay he says he's "looking forward to
future efforts." Well, let's hope there will be!
Shining Star - Enter Eternity, Nightmare Records
Lance King is a busier man than ever. Since he left the British
progressive metal band Balance Of Power, he joined various bands around the globe,
including Shining Star from Brazil. Personally I like his vocal style. He's very diverse,
from very high notes to low, from raw to smooth. Enter Eternity is the second album from
Shining Star and the first with King. In fact, the record was made in 2003, but due to
problems with the label, it took until November of last year to come out. Lance King
released it on his own label. To be honest, when I heard King had joined this band I had
never heard of before, I thought it would be a step back in his career. Enter Eternity
proves me I'm wrong. Here's some very well produced melodic metal with great sounds, hooks
and guitar licks. Lance King fits in so neatly with the rest of the band that I, at times,
tend to think I'm listening to Balance Of Power... The music is well written (by guitarist
Fabio Rocha). Favorite songs of mine are Insomnia and Travel Through Time. This is
probably the best melodic metal album I've ever heard from Brazilian soil.
Opposition Of One - Selftitled EP, Guideline Records
A band that gets more and more attention is Opposition Of One from
Germany. This band plays with sheer energy, while maintaining enough variety throughout a
recording to attract my attention. This self titled EP contains three new songs, a cover
of a Figure Four song and the video for In His Promise. The Figure Four cover is When It's
All Said And Done. It still sounds much like the original. It is done very neatly by
Opposition Of One. The video is a live registration that'll give you an impression of the
band on stage. This, and the new material, prove the attention for the band is well
deserved. Good hardcore stuff!
Descend To Rise - Standing At This Safe Place...We Watch
The World Fall, Guideline
Guideline Records is an upcoming label with talented bands like Opposition
Of One and Today Forever on their roster. They now give young talented bands a chance with
the Guideline Demo Series. SATSP...WWTWF is the first in this series. The word
"demo" might be deceiving. In fact, nowhere on this disc it states this is a
demo and it definitely doesn't sound demo-ish. Descend To Rise plays a screamo mixture of
metalcore and emo. There are up tempo parts, choruses with clean vocals and slower
moments. It's stirring music. SATSP...WWTWF was recorded with Tobias Kurrle who also
worked on the new Saphena album. Need I say more? I wonder what the next band on this demo
series will be. There are some other talented bands in Germany...
Seventh Star - Brood Of Vipers, Facedown Records
As far as I know, Brood Of Vipers is the debut album from Seventh Star.
This hardcore band was formed in 1998 and has since played with notable acts like
Hatebreed, Sick Of It All and Stretch Arm Strong. Brood Of Vipers was recorded in the
Godcity Studios with Kurt Ballou. The album contains heavy hardcore music with mostly mid
tempo songs with some faster parts. It's also angry music with lyrics handling topics like
hypocrisy and the church of Rome. Overall Seventh Star has a tight sound, but what I miss
is a bit more variety. A lot of the songs sound so much alike.
Sacrificium - Escaping The Stupor, Black Lotus Records
A high anticipated death metal release, is Escaping The Stupor. This is
the follow-up to Cold Black Piece Of Flesh (2002). That album was already a leap forward
for the band. With Escaping The Stupor they prove they haven't been sitting idle the last
few years. With new members Ulrike Uhlmann (guitars) and Samuel Herbrich (bass) they sound
more professional than ever. The vocals vary from deep growls to a more black metal kind
of shrieking. The music itself is energetic with lots of real fast passages, double bass
and aggression. Escaping The Stupor was recorded in Sweden in the Panic Room studio, where
also Crimson Moonlight does their albums. The result is a tight production that is a must
have for all death metal fans.
Saphena - Das Leben Wird Zu Glas, Whirlwind Records
Saphena sounds like a new name, but this is actually good old Brain:FAQ.
They probably got tired of their old name and decided to change it. Saphena is musically
the same kind of groovy metalcore. It's very energetic, and yet full of emotion. Though
this formation used English lyrics earlier on in their careers, this album is with German
texts only. The choruses are translated in English in the booklet. This German approach
contributes to the overall dark sound of Das Leben Wird Zu Glas. Compared to the previous
album, Nutze Die Zeit, this album is a step forward production wise. Saphena was always
good in writing interesting songs and the new album is no exception to the rule. There are
mainly the roaring type of vocals on this disc, but occasionally (in choruses) you can
hear clean vocals that contrast nicely with the harsh singing. There are so many great
moments on this album, too many to mention. Favorite songs: Die Schlacht, Feuer, Niemals
Rebelhead - Fightback, Whirlwind Records
Fans of Entombed and Icon Clan have a new band to look out for. Rebelhead,
self described as Finnish redneck-metal, plays in the tradition of thrashy rock 'n roll
bands. Though the vocals are not really like death metal grunts and growls, you might call
it death 'n roll. Expect ten short songs (the longest of them all is less than 3½ minutes
long). This album was recorded in Studio Karate in Jyväskylä in Finland, and sounds
tight and powerful. This is music that will appeal to open minded hardcore fans as well,
with the tough guy approach to hard music, the screaming vocals and an occasional attempt
to gang vocals. The album is a bit short, but well done.
Cottonbomb - Don't Worry Little Baby, Whirlwind Records
This band describes themselves musically as bluescore. I think I know what
hardcore is, I think I have an idea of what blues is supposed to be, but bluescore... This
is something I've never heard before, so this is a unique experience for me. The music
appears to be more blues oriented, with more of a screaming approach to it. It's not
really heavy stuff as the term bluescore might suggest. There's a country influence as
well in the title track. This track makes me think of the country influenced material from
Dust Eater Dogs. Though the CD sounds good, I'm too unfamiliar with this kind of music to
give a thoroughly thought through opinion. Maybe there are a thousand bluescore bands in
the world. This is the only one I know, so does it help you if I say Cottonbomb is the
best bluescore band I know!?! ;)
Melisend - Demo 2005, Independent
The first demo from the Dutch doomy death metal band Melisend (formerly
known as Frozen Candles) contains six songs plus an instrumental intro. Their metal can be
described as old school death, with some black metal influences. The average tempo is
slow, with some faster parts. There are a few unusual guitar solos, that sound like the
band used a way pedal. It sounds very peculiar in combination with the music. The sound
quality of this disc is alright for a demo. The instrument playing is good. Most of the
time this CD is quite enjoyable, though the songs don't really stick in my memory.
Picture Of The Moon - Waxing Crescent, Independent
Picture Of The Moon is a Dutch metal band. Waxing Crescent is their 2004
demo. The three songs on this disc fill 16 minutes. The instrumental opening track (First
Picture) offers a combination of symphonic metal/rock and thrash. The second track (Evil
LiveSecure) is more along the lines of progressive metal, with mid range and some high
pitched vocals, and a reggae intermezzo. The final song (Depressive Garden) has more of an
old Morphia sound with some death metal grunts and a piano playing along. Overall this
disc sounds decent enough, showing a band with potential.