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.:CD Reviews:.

NOSTRADAMEUS – The Prophet Of Evil (AFM Records 2001)

Nostradameus - The Prophet Of Evil
  1. The Prophet Of Evil
  2. Hymn To Theese Lands
  3. Evil Prophecies
  4. Murder
  5. Requiem (I Will Honour Thy Name)
  6. In Prison
  7. The Escape
  8. The Power's In Thy Hand
  9. Gathering Resistance
  10. The Final Battle
  11. Scream Of Anger (bonus track)

"The Prophet Of Evil" is NOSTRADAMEUS' second release and form part two in what you could call a trilogy, since the first three albums were released last year (2004) as "Words Of The Prophet", with a nice slipcover around them.

The first things that meet the eye are the different artwork (by Jean-Pascal Fournier), but also a significant change in the line-up. While Freddy also handled the bass on "Words Of Nostradameus", they now have a permanent bassist under the name of Thomas Antonsson. For the guitars, Erik Sönderman left his place for Michael Åberg. The band also has a new drummer: Jesse Lindskog replaces Gustav Nahlin.

But that didn't bring much change to the rough sound and structures of the songs. This is still NOSTRADAMEUS, but with a light evolution. The album was again produced by Jake and Freddy and Mikko Karmila was again in charge of the mixing and mastering.

Like with the debut album, "The Prophet Of Evil" starts in the same manner, with an narrated intro. After that, the pace is set with the uptempo "Hymn To Theese Lands" of which the chorus is very nice and sounds prety much like a 'hymn'. "Evil Prophecies" continues the uptempo, but also offers slower parts. Beautiful twin-guitar solos give the song a nice touch. At the end, everything fades out except the guitars. "Murder" is a midtempo song and seems to break the flow of uptempo tracks. Although it's not a bad song, I find it one of the lesser on this album.

In analogy to "Words Of Nostradameus", there's a ballad in the middle of the tracklisting: "Requiem (I Will Honour Thy Name)". To be honest, this song doesn't do me much and has a rather dull melody.

"Prison" starts slowly, but then the guitars and drums come into play and make the song sound alot better. Especially the combination drumrolls-chorus is very nice asset. Another thing worth mentioning is the guitar solo after 3 minutes. Very well done.

When one's in prison, you want to get out as soon as possible of course, so this makes the next song title sound very logical: "The Escape". ;-) The song takes off right away in uptempo style. All in all a decent song.

"The Power's In Thy Hands" features the typical 'single bass meets snaredrum' pattern, also found in othe NOSTRADAMEUS songs. A nice piece in the song is the "Who are you.." at which point Freddy adds his text.

Up next is "Gathering Resistance" and while this is a failry good song, it can become boring after a couple of listenings. Mainly the chorus forms the problem. During the verses, the guitar and drum work is never subjective to criticism.

Like I said before, fast(er) songs are one of the band's positive points, and for "The Final Battle" I think it would have been better if it was indeed written as a fast song. Now it's... ordinary, nothing special about it.

On the limited edition you'll find the "Scream Of Anger" bonus track. And truly, this is a very good song, even one of the best on this album. It's pure quality.

While "Words Of Nostradameus" was filled with fast riffs and drumming, here they tempered it a bit whith implementing slower parts. There are some 'flaws' in there, but the other songs compensate them very well. It's a solid release from these Swedish powermetallers.

Line-up:
Freddy Persson - vocals
Jake Fredén - guitars
Michael Åberg - guitars
Thomas Antonsson - bass
Jesse Lindskog - drums


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MANTICORA – Darkness With Tales To Tell (Scarlet Records 2001)

Manticora - Darkness With Tales To Tell
  1. ...From Far Beyond
  2. The Chance Of Dying In A Dream
  3. Dynasty Of Fear
  4. Dragon's Mist
  5. Felice
  6. The Nightfall War
  7. The Puzzle
  8. Critical Mass
  9. Lost Souls
  10. The Twilight Shadow (mp3)
  11. Shadows With Tales To Tell

As you may have read, I was very enthusiastic about MANTICORA's debut album "Roots Of Eternity". "Darkness With Tales To Tell" promises to be as good as and even better than their first album.

Artwork has improved and this time it's done by Chris "Saiyan" Kallias. Jacob Hansen was again in charge of the production.

There's a change in the line-up, seeing Jepp Eg having joined the fold. This time, the band signed with the Italian label Scarlet Records, which would and has also distributed the follow-up "Hyperion" in 2002.

"Darkness With Tales To Tell" starts with an intro that has the same title as on the debut album, but it sounds different, with 'wow....wow.....wow' and scream-like sounds, like you're in a dungeon or the underworld or something. Next song is of course a heavy and fast one - heavenly! From this song you can clearly hear the production has improved, making the songs sound more tight, more polished without neglecting the typical MANTICORA sound and roughness.

The special thing about "Dragon's Mist" is its beautiful chorus, which contains a lot of emotion in my opinion, but also the short heavy-riffed piece around the fourth minute. Furthermore, this song features a long instrumental part filled with solos (guitar and keyboards). Message for the band: Please play this live on (one of) your next tours!

Based on the first minute and verse of "Felice", you'd think it's a ballad...until the drums come into play and the guitars start sounding heavier. The keyboards form the bridge to "The Nightfall War". These 2 songs are part 3 and 4 of the "Saga Of The Exiles" of which part 1 and 2 are on the "Roots Of Eternity" album.

"The Puzzle" is the obligatory ballad and certainly not a bad one. Sure, I've heard better ones, but it's best not to compare too much with other bands. Practise makes art, as they say. In "Critical Mass" the keyboards determine the melody and the guitars supporting it. This is one of the best songs on the album, also because it offers some variation: calm moments, going heavy, slowing down, etc... "Lost Souls" cranks up the tempo again, with a speedy chorus.

How the band manages to create all these beautiful songs is amazing, but one thing is certain: Lars, Kristian and Mads kinda form(ed) the basis of MANTICORA. Replacing one of them would make it less MANTICORA. Lars has his typical voice, Kristian his guitarwork and Mads his style of playing the drums. This makes the band so unique. "The Twilight Shadow" is one of my favourites, where Jeppe produces a nice sound with his keyboards, combined with the speed of the guitars and drums. And finally, last and certainly not least - I even dare say this is one of the best metalsongs in years - "Shadows With Tales To Tell": heavy, chopping riffs, wonderful drumwork. Around 5min.15 there an awesome part with the keyboards and the chopping guitars, lasting for about half a minute. I love it!!

"Darkness With Tales To Tell" is a very melodic, typical MANTICORA album. But also one of the best Powermetal albums ever released (not wanting to exaggerate ;-)). Like I said at the beginning, I was very enthusiastic about MANTICORA's debut album "Roots Of Eternity". "Darkness With Tales To Tell" promises to be as good as and even better. And that's no lie. Album after album the band grows, creating works of art every time. This album should not be missing in your collection!

Line-up:
Lars F. Larsen - vocals
Kristian Larsen - guitars
Flemming Schultz - guitars
René S. Nielsen - bass
Jeppe Eg - keyboards
Mads Volf - drums


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IVORY KNIGHT – Up From The Ashes (Ivory Knight 2001)

Ivory Knight - Up From The Ashes
  1. Initiation
  2. Into The Black
  3. Yesman
  4. Perfect 10
  5. Roads To Glory
  6. Picture Of Innocence
  7. Last Dance
  8. Shattered Glass
  9. True Signs Of Life

IVORY KNIGHT (website), Canadian Heavy Metal with some Powermetal influences. I hadn't heard of the band until they contacted me. So far they've released two albums, on their own: "Up From The Ashes" and "Unconscience" (see higher for the review).

I could put a sort of biography here, but I'll stick to the most important items, since a lot of info is also available on their website.

IVORY KNIGHT was founded by singer John Devadasan Perinbam and Paul Malek, who played drums on the legendary ANNIHILATOR demos. The band recorded a demo "Voices in Your Nightmare" which received excellent reviews from all over the world. Despite this early success, the band broke up in 1990 due to musical differences. Perinbam reformed the band in late 1999 with drummer George Nesrallah, bassist Steve Mercer, and guitarist Rob Gravelle.

Let's see for the music... "Up From The Ashes" starts accoustically with the song "Initiation". Funny thing is, HELLOWEEN's "Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I" also starts with "Initiation". Either IVORY KNIGHT nicked it, or it's just a coincidence. ;-)

After the calm intro, the music is thrown at you in that the song "Into The Black" starts at full force. No guitars or drums introducing you, no, get down to business right away. Not that it's bad, not at all, it's only a little suprising. Though the sound is not like with bigger-budget bands, it's is well produced. What you do get is a studio album, but could also get considered to be a live album. Just add some audience and the differences wouldn't be that big. :-) I like it, it sounds very real and pure.

It's very obvious there's talent in IVORY KNIGHT, though they still got some work to improve themselves. John's got a warm voice at times, Rob plays some nice solos, George's drumwork is also very good and Steve is very compatible with Rob. Still, some things to work on are:

When John wants to sing higher, it's not in a straight line, it's more like he skips some levels. This doesn't sound good and makes you want to go to the next song or erase that part. He can reach higher levels, but it's better to do it steadily, more fluently. Since there's only one guitarist, there are songs that sound very nice, also because the bass fills the space. But personally I think it would be better if they hired a second guitarist. Like that, the songs will sound fuller. When Rob plays a solo, and the other guitarist keeps playing the rhythm guitar, things will fit better and it will prevend the bass from having to sound heavier. Especially live I think it would be better to have 2 guitarists.

As I said, there are songs that are really beautiful, like "Roads To Glory", with the solo reminding me a bit of JOE SATRIANI's "Live In San Fransisco" album. Another top song is "Last Dance", which has a nice chorus.

It's good to hear the vocals are used in different ways, as John does some light grunting on "True Signs Of Life".

IVORY KNIGHT has gotten some good comments/reviews with this album and I'm not going to go against that, since this is a quality album and the band are worth checking out. You get decent Hardrock/Metal with a live-flavour. If you come across this album, do the band and yourself a favour and buy it. Or else, contact the band for a copy. There are some samples available on their website.

Line-up:
John Devadasan Perinbam - vocals
Rob Gravelle - guitars
Steve Mercer - bass
George Nesrallah - drums


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Reviews 2001

On this page
IVORY KNIGHT -
Up From The Ashes
MANTICORA -
Darkness With
Tales To Tell
NOSTRADAMEUS -
The Prophet Of Evil