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GENIUS – Episode 2: In Search Of The Little Prince (Frontier Records 2004)

Genius - In Search Of The Little Prince
  1. He Will Die
  2. Playing In Their Dreams
  3. You Won't Escape
  4. Valley
  5. Beware
  6. My Dear Son
  7. What He Has To Say
  8. All My Fault
  9. To Be Free
  10. Fight Again
  11. Far Away From Here

It's August 2010 when I'm writing this, as I received this album earlier this year. GENIUS is the brainchild of Daniele Liverani (guitarist, keyboardist), who also plays in TWINSPIRITS, who wrote the story behind the albums himself. In total there are three albums:

Episode 1: A Human Into Dreams' World (2002)
Episode 2: In Search Of The Little Prince (2004)
Episode 3: The Final Surprise (2007)

As the first album is nowadays hard to find, I got the other two from Daniele himself. I knew GENIUS by name, but never took the time to check the albums. GENIUS is a (Progressive) Rock/Metal Opera like AYREON and AVANTASIA, to name the biggest two. One composer and several guests to sing the respective vocal lines of the different characters in the story. What the story exactly is about is this: "the whole storyconcept refers to a dream experienced by the main character Genius that lasts only 10 minutes! It's known that dreams are often creating a time-stretch effect in our minds, so that a 10 minutes long dream can be remembered as a day long story. In fact, these 10 minutes of Genius' dream has been described in 4 hour of music!". The totality of the three discs is about 4 hours of music. To find out more about the story, go to www.geniusrockopera.com.

The line-up of GENIUS consists of two people: Daniele Liverani on guitars, bass and keyboards, and Dario Ciccioni (HARTMANN, EMPYRIOS, ...) on drums. Oliver Hartmann handled all choir parts, while Daniel Gildenlow added additional backing vocals in the song "Playing In Their Dreams". The guests and their respective roles on this album are:

Mark Boals (ROYAL HUNT, RING OF FIRE, ex-YNGWIE MALMSTEEN): Genius
Daniel Gildenlöw (PAIN OF SALVATION): Twinspirit N. 32
Russell Allen (SYMPHONY X): Dream League Commander
Edu Falaschi (ANGRA, ALMAH) : Jason
Jeff Martin (RACER X, ex-LEATHERWOLF): Seventree
Eric Martin (MR. BIG): Mr. Niko
Liv Kristine (LEAVES' EYES): Klepsydra
Johnny Gioeli (AXEL RUDI PELL): Oddyfer
Rob Tyrant (LABYRINTH): Oddyfer Guardian
Philip Bynoe (RING OF FIRE): Storyteller

As it goes with operas and a story, you need a storyteller. And so Philip fulfills his role at the end of each (!) track. Yep, you never get two songs that flow into each other for the sake of letting the songs do the talking. No, each time Philip gives you an update. This is of course nice and helpful, generally speaking, but it also hurts the listening experience if you just want to hear the songs, one after another. But when you buy this album, you know what to expect, so accepting it will make the voyage all the more smooth.

This second episode starts thus with "He Will Die" and its spoken intro, a logical decision. Lots of books also have an introduction, prologue or similar. The music that follows made me think of SAVATAGE, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA and similar. At least the first part, then the Progressive Metal kicks in and with Russel Allen on vocals, it's almost as if you're listening to SYMPHONY X, Russel's band. This is all very well composed, even the choir vocals in the chorus with nice lead guitarwork come out beautifully. There's room for a guitarsolo as well. Russel's not the only vocalist here. Daniel Gildenlow and Mark Boals are of course present as well. The music is then also adjusted to a more calmer version of Rock. Bridge and chorus come in one last time and so the song nears its end. Philip adds another status update and the next song can commence. To add a line of musical comparison: think of SYMPHONY X, DREAM THEATER, VANDEN PLAS, ADAGIO and similar.

"Playing In Their Dreams" starts off calmer, more atmospheric. The gentle singing and backing music makes it sound like a ballad. Here the voice of Edu Falaschi can be easily distinguished. Daniel Gildenlow and Mark Boals sing as well, thought their parts are small. Thankfully there's the booklet, else I would not be able to distinguish the voices of several of the guests. I've heard many vocalists in the past many years, and several can be (relatively) easily picked out, but when it comes to names like Mark Boals, Daniel Gildenlow, Jeff Martin and Johnny Gioeli, I'm clueless. Either way, all of them are very good singers, else they would not be featured here, right? The song sounds more powerful in the chorus and also during the solo moment, which contains piano backing. All elements considered, another very good end result.

And the story continues with a powerful, uptempo, energetic song called "You Won't Escape", where rhythm and leads are of great quality. Russel Allen's singing obviously is too. Solos come from guitar and keyboards. In short, great stuff all the way, similar to DGM, ADAGIO, SYMPHONY X and others. "Valley" is Jeff Martin's song and has a strong intro with the guitar and drums. Once the music really takes of, guitar and organ lead the way. This track sounds Bluesy, funky even, which offers a very nice change. Power and melody are reserved for the chorus. The obligatory solos make the song complete. No complaints whatsoever here. Midtempo Bluesy, but firm Metal then in "Beware", which is for the vocals of Rob Tyrant. The guitar offers the rhythm, while the organ opts for the leads. The music flows very well and the overall vocal power (especially in the chorus) is very nice. After the solo moment the chorus is done one more time before all is ended and Philip can give an update. Another solid track in the pocket.

"My Dear Son" is a ballad, something Eric Martin is familiar with in MR. BIG. This song takes a calm, semi-acoustic start and you can clearly hear you're not going to get anything ballsy here. Even the emotional chorus is an indication of that. And it sounds very nice, no doubt about that. The guitar solo tops it off. In "What He Has To Say" Johnny Gioeli aka Oddyfer and Rob Tyrant aka Oddyfer Guardian are the central vocalists/characters again. This song starts in a ProgPower manner, advancing towards the midtempo verses and then chorus. As in the previous tracks, it's not just the guest vocalist who sings, but there are choir vocals as well and this here is one of the songs where that is clearly audible. It's also what I would call an active song, in that the music helps you to create the scene/setting/event in your mind/imagination. Contrary to previous efforts the solo moment is rather short. And still the quality of the material remains high.

After the dynamic start in "All My Fault", it's time for the organ to lead the way while the guitar takes care of the rhythmic aspect. Full musical power comes to life in the bridge and chorus. At some point there's a guitar break. Everything's silent, except Daniele's six-string, though drums and vocals fall in a little later. Afterwards the power and melody is restored. Three vocalists (and the choir) can be heard here: Johnny Gioeli, Mark Boals and Daniel Gildenlow. In this song there was also mention of a woman and it's in "To Be Free" that Liv Kristine gives that character a voice. This track has the piano as main instrument, playing a rather sad melody. This is another ballad, yes, but a good one. As mentioned in other reviews, I'm not that fond of Liv Kristine's voice, at least not when she reaches for those high notes. On LEAVES' EYES last album, "Njord", she did positively surprise me.

"Fight Again" has Genius and Twinspirit 32 reunited, but it's Mark Boals (Genius) who does the singing. Musically you get metallic power with lots of melody, midtempo verses vs an uptempo chorus with choir vocals, which makes this part sound superb! The guitar delivers the power, the keyboards provide the melodies and backing. The typical guitar solo wasn't forgotten. No Progressive Metal without a guitar solo, right? "Far Away From Here" ends this second installement of the trilogy. Johnny Gioeli, Rob Tyrant, Mark Boals and Daniel Gildenlow can be heard one last time. The song starts slowly, building the tension through the toms, guitar and keyboards. This part alone is already wonderful. In the verses the guitar input is not that strong, yet full power is let out later on. The chorus melody is at the same sad and encouraging. Pluspoints go to the rhythm and musical aspect in general, because Daniele and Dario have done a great job here. Things get theatrical much later and that's exactly what this album is: a theatrical play, but without the visuals.

GENIUS, AVANTASIA, AYREON, ... all of them great projects in the context of Rock/Metal Operas where (mainly) one man writes all the music and lyrics and has guests play or sing what's to be played or sung. In Daniele Liverani's case, three albums were made in the context of a Sci-Fi story, which makes the listening experience all the greater. You get great music like you would get on a regular Progressive Metal album, but then with different vocalists and a storyteller. Like I said before, it's like listening to the audio version of a theatrical play or perhaps a musical. In the booklet you can easily follow along with the lyrics and story. The production is good, the guests are all skilled people and if you're into - and here it comes for the sake of easiness - bands like TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, JON OLIVA'S PAIN, ANGRA, DREAM THEATER, SYMPHONY X, VANDEN PLAS, ADAGIO, MANIGANCE, THRESHOLD, DGM, AVANTASIA and SAVATAGE, then by all means, check out GENIUS., Now, is "Episode 3: The Final Surprise" as good as "Episode 2: In Search Of The Little Prince"?

More info at www.geniusrockopera.com.

Line-up:
Daniele Liverani - guitar, bass, keyboards
Dario Ciccioni - drums


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ARTRACH – Faceless God (Midas Productions 2004)

Artrach - Faceless God
  1. Deliverance
  2. Dawn Of Terror
  3. Faceless God
  4. Mystery Of Death
  5. Trapped

And after the first demo, obviously comes a second. ARTRACH has been working had again to improve where it went wrong or less good on the first demo "Through Archways Of Dark" (2002). We're two years later and again the guys used the Midas studio in Lokeren under guidance of - again - producer Tony De Block, who also worked with popact HOOVERPHONIC and Antwerp Melodic Death/Black Metallers OCEANS OF SADNESS. The same people worked on this second release, which contains two songs less and thus also a couple of minutes less music. But quality above quantity, right?

ARTRACH occupied the studio during the summer of 2004 and thought December was a good month to make their work available to the masses.

The biggest problems on "Through Archways Of Dark" were clearly the recording quality and even more important, the vocals. Musically things were going good, but the band was still searching for an own sound, an own kind of play style. Now they've chosen to go for a more Progressive direction.

"Faceless God"'s first song, "Deliverance", has the keyboards to be the first with their spheric sounds, while the others come in not too long after and the tempo and riffing is a clear reference to SYMPHONY X, which I certainly do not complain about. ;-) Again, and it's almost a typical ARTRACH-element, the heavily tuned guitars sound awesome. Like before, certain IRON MAIDEN influences cannot be denied. While the first part was heavy, the verses are accoustic and it becomes immediately clear that Glenn made indeed some progress and sounds less nerve-wrecking. "Deliverance" is a very decent song, with great riffing and equally well-played solos.

"Dawn Of Terror" cranks it up a little more in terms of speed. It's not really fast, more fast midtempo. But however it's played, the result is very good. Lots of variation and at a certain point I could draw a reference to German Progressive Metallers VANDEN PLAS.

After the wild ride of "Terror", time to take it easier. Well... to start with, of course. Around the second minute it's heaviness all the way with keyboards painting the setting with relaxed melodies. This is really necessary to avoid monotonous melody-less riffing, if you know what I mean. Also because the guitars stand more in front, while the keyboards have a hard time pushing through. Glenn sounds very good here and the rougher moments are also a good addition.

Atmospheric keyboards, guitar picking with a steady increase of agressiveness concerning the intro of "Mystery Of Death". The song actually really takes off after two minutes, with the acceleration pedal pushed down a little more. Somehow I cannot help but mention Italian Powermetallers KALEDON now and more specifically their debut "The Destruction", which is for certain songs similar to this song in particular. And then there's the chorus: oh my! Superb! Double-bass and here with the speed. Around the fifth minute a calm(er) interlude managed to intervene, where Glenn takes a rest and the instruments take over, litlle by little building up the tension again. One of the best songs on the demo, and what the band has come up with so far.

The closing "Trapped" takes a more Progressive approach and again you have the lust-for-a-metal-ear kind of riffing and the logical references to SYMPHONY X, but also to VANDEN PLAS, ATMOSFEAR and DREAM THEATER. Musically it's again very very good, except for... you guessed it, didn't you? Yes, indeed, Glenn has fallen back to old habits: here he really sounds annoying and I don't care if there would be too much instrumental time, but maybe it would have been better to let him be silent during the chorus. A sad fact, really, since everything went very well until "Trapped". Around 4:50 heaviness takes a step back in favour of a calmer, more melodic, though very short, moment, after which the obligatory guitarsolo comes into play. Towards the end Glenn does at least one good intervention with his growling.

And yes, ARTRACH not only plays Progressive Metal, they also made a lot of progression with this second demo. You have the typical riffing, improved vocals (except for the last song), great melodies and compositions for which the links to other, bigger bands certainly are not misplaced and show what the guys of ARTRACH have in them, and that with time a contract must follow. They simply deserve it. "Faceless God" was also the last demo with vocalist Glenn Devos, as they parted ways with him in spring 2005. Piet Overstijns is his replacement and with him the band recorded their third demo, which came out in October 2006.

More info at www.artrach.com.

Line-up:
Glenn Devos - vocals
Guy Commeene - guitars
David Vandewalle - guitars
Christof Colle - keyboards
Wouter Nottebaert - bass
Diëgo Denorme - drums


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ANGRA – Temple Of Shadows (Steamhammer 2004)

Angra - Temple Of Shadows
  1. Deus Le Volt!
  2. Spread Your Fire
  3. Angels And Demons
  4. Waiting Silence
  5. Wishing Well
  6. Temple Of Hate
  7. Shadow Hunter
  8. No Pain For The Dead
  9. Winds Of Destination
  10. Sprouts Of Time
  11. Morning Star
  12. Late Redemption
  13. Gate XIII

A true masterpiece! ANGRA have improved themselves and taken it to the next level with this album. Edu sings a bit rougher than on "Rebirth", with more emotion. The production was in the hands of Dennis Ward (PINK CREAM 69, SILENT FORCE, ...) which gives the songs a clear and sharp sound. The guest appearances by Kai Hansen (GAMMA RAY, track 6), Hansi Kürsch (BLIND GUARDIAN, track 9), Sabine Edelsbacher (EDENBRIDGE, tracks 2 and 8) and Milton Nascimento (a famous Brasilian singer, track 12) provide the respective songs with a special feel. The artwork was done by Isabel de Amorim, but the concept idea came from Rafael Bittencourt.

"Temple Of Shadows" is about a knight crusader (The Shadow Hunter) in the late XI century, joining the Pope's army for the Holy War against the Muslims, and – despite his devotion to the church – finds that his beliefs and the church's often are in conflict with eachother.

The album starts with the calm and 'mysterious' "Deus Le Volt!", immediately followed by the fast and bombastic "Spread Your Fire". This song is just amazing, breathtaking by the speed, melody, also thanks to the superb production. "Angels And Demons" follows quickly: a mid-tempo with a very nice fast-riffed and dito drummed intermezzo at about 1:30-1:40. Unfortunately, it only lasts for a very short time while in my opinion they should have made a song based on this. The song itself isn't bad, on the contrary. Aquiles Priester is a great drummer who can play many styles, but at te same time implement enough variation not to bore the listener with the same drum pattern.

"Wishing Well" is an emotional song, supported by symphonic elements in the chorus, but also has a very nice guitar solo. Time for some uplifting powerful music again: "Temple Of Hate". Its guitarmelodies in the beginning kind of remind me DRAGONFORCE's "Sonic Firestorm" album. A screaming Kai Hansen doing his part very well in a song that really suits him (or vice versa). This is one of the best songs on the album. "Shadow Hunter" shows the Latin influences on the album, starting with a classical guitar and handclapping like with the gypsies. For the couplets, the band left out the heavy guitars, saving them for the chorus (which has and emotional undertone) and rest of the song. "No Pain For The Dead" is worth mentioning in that it has a nice classical intermezzo featuring Sabine Edelsbacher on vocals, continuing as a 'duet' with Edu. Roughness combined with softness. ;-) On "Winds Of Destination", we can enjoy Hansi Kürsch's rough voice which makes the song perfect for him (or again, vice versa). The electronic keyboard sounds in a way resemble those of LUCA TURILLI's "Demonheart".

With this album, ANGRA tends to go the progressive way, though that's not their main style. But it shows they have a great deal of talent and can handle many influences.

"Late Redemption" (featuring Milton Nascimento) closes the album in terms of heaviness, since the saga is ended with a symphonic song ("Gate XIII"), which could easily have been taken out of a movie like "The Mummy" or "Lord Of The Rings".

As said at the beginning, this album is really great. In fact, for me it's one of the best of 2004 (after RHAPSODY's "Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret"). Besides the normal edition, there's also a Limited version, which contains a DVD with concert material ("Rebirth World Tour - Live In Sao Paulo"), backstage scenes, Rebirth World Tour in Brasil/Japan/Taiwan/Europe, a photo gallery, and videoclips. For the small extra-charge it's really worth it!

Line-up:
Eduardo Falaschi - vocals
Kiko Loureiro - guitars
Rafael Bittencourt - guitars
Felipe Andreoli - bass
Aquiles Priester - drums


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IVORY KNIGHT – Unconscience (Ivory Knight 2004)

Ivory Knight - Unconscience
  1. Up From The Ashes
  2. Borderline
  3. Holy Martyr
  4. Unconscience
  5. Introspective
  6. The Unseen Enemy
  7. In Fog I Walk
  8. Theater Of The Insane
  9. Eleven
  10. Waiting For Tomorrow

After four years ("Up From The Ashes", see lower on this page) and some gigs with known signed bands like SONATA ARCTICA, IVORY KNIGHT releases their second album, "Unconscience". Again, the album is self-produced and released, but the mixing and mastering was handled by ANNIHILATOR mainman Jef Waters. The cover artwork was done by Gyula Havanscak, also known from his work for ANNIHILATOR's "All For You" album.

Ironically, the album starts with the title track from the debut album, even though its tracklisting doesn't have this title.

Musically it's better and worse, to put it in extremes. With "Up From The Ashes" you had some sort of live feeling, because of the sound. Here it's really a studio album. The guitar(s) sound a bit better, but at certain times also.. messy (see a bit lower).

A nice addition are the keyboards, like on "Up From The Ashes" (the song) and "In Fog I Walk".

"Borderline" is one next, and though it's not a bad song, the guitar 'problem' is also present here. 'Messy' isn't the right word. But it's sometimes hard to distinguish the riffs. The solos are good, no complaints about that. ;-) If the low riffs would sound sharper, clearer, it would do the songs much good. To give a reference (and remain in the same genre): SAXON. Yes, I know, SAXON's a big name with more budget, but I'm talking about the sound. ;-)

As I mentioned in the "Up From The Ashes" review, the other problem was John's high singing. It's here again, the "aaaaaaaaahhh" part, right after the growling. John, please, I know you can sing, but either leave those high tones aside - and let the instruments do the work - or sing in a normal way.

"Unconscience" also shows the guitar problem with the beginning riffs being too harsh, too rough like the guitar hasn't been tuned or something. When the drums and bass are added, it's gets covered, but the whole sounds better then. Again, the solos are good.

"Unseen Enemy" has a nice part around 3:00-3:10 where John 'talks', accompanied by the drums. After that, it's solo time. Well done. The keyboards in "In Fog I Walk" make the song very worthwhile. "Theater Of The Insane" has the high vocals again, unfortunately, while "Eleven" leaves all vocals away and puts the intruments in the spotlight. "Waiting For Tomorrow" closes the album in 3 parts: "Someon's Calling", "In Eternal Silence", "One Life To Live". Overall, quie a nice song to end with.

I've been negative here, I know, but only for the band's sake. I found/find their debut album quite good and it shows their talent. However, there's still room for improvement, mainly the high singing which John either has to work on or stop with. Claudio from KALEDON suffers from the same problem. The other thing are the guitars. Maybe not so much the playing itself, but more the sound and also make the riffs different, more recognizable. The songs themselves are good, it's just certain elements that need to improved. ;-)

So, is "Unconscience" a good album? Overall, yes. But it needs polishing. If only one day, the band could get a producer like Roy Z, Charlie Bauerfeind, maybe Dennis Ward... :-)

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


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MYSTIC PROPHECY – Never-Ending (Nuclear Blast 2004)

Mystic Prophecy - Never-Ending
  1. Burning Bridges
  2. Time Will Tell
  3. Under A Darkened Sun
  4. Dust Of Evil
  5. In Hell
  6. Never Surrender
  7. Wings Of Eternity
  8. When I'm Falling
  9. Warriors Of Lies
  10. Dead Moon Rising
  11. Never-Ending

"Never-Ending", the third album of this underestimated Power Metalband. This is a true Power Metal album, not adding special effects with keyboards or anything. Guitarist Gus G. (ex-DREAM EVIL, FIREWIND) does a great job here (like one would doubt his talents ;-)) and provides us with some fine and heavy riffs. Singer R.D. Liapakis (also in VALLEY'S EVE) does a great job as well, though at times his voice may sound a bit monotone. Nonetheless, he's a great singer and fits the genre perfectly. Production was also done by him.

Pure Power Metal, variating in midtempo and fast songs, fast riffs and slow shredding (e.g. "In Hell", "Warriors Of Lies", "When I'm Falling", ...).

But it's not all about fast riffs and dito double bassdrums. "Never Surrender" offers a 'resting' point so you can get ready for another load of heavy riffs. This song contains a lot of emotion and is one of the songs that stand out. It's fairly easy to get caught in the songs and sing along, and then they get stuck in your head, hahaha. ;-)

The artwork was by the hand of Jan Meininghaus, who also did some work for Brainstorm.

There's not that much to add, the album is some good powerful metal, to the point. Just have a listen when you're at your metalstore and then buy it. :-)

Line-up:
Roberto Dimitri Liapakis - vocals
Gus G. - guitars
Martin Albrecht - bass
Dennis Ekdahl - drums


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MANTICORA – 8 Deadly Sins (Massacre Records 2004)

Manticora - 8 Deadly Sins
  1. If?
  2. King Of The Absurd
  3. Playing God
  4. Melancholic
  5. Creator Of Failure (mp3-sample)
  6. It Feels Like The End
  7. Enigma
  8. Fall From Grace
  9. Help Me Like No One Can (mp3)
  10. If, Then...

Danish Powermetallers MANTICORA are back with a new album, "8 Deadly Sins". The successor to 2002's "Hyperion" is based upon a concept story of a man looking back at his life while lying in hospital on his deathbed. For this album, the band appealed to Finn Zierler, keyboard player from BEYOND TWILIGHT. His contribution adds a special atmosphere and depth to the songs. Artwork is from the magnificent hand of Mattias Norén.

"8 Deadly Sins" is one big whole of heavy guitars, battering drums, some nice solos, emotions, ... A lust for the ear and the heart, because such music can't be created with the mind only.

In line with the title, the songs between the in- and outro each tackle one sin. This is the list: self indulgence - hatred - betrayal - aggression - jealousy - arrogance - ignorance - apathy.

Some outstanding songs are – well, almost all of them are ;-) – but especially "Melancholic" and "Help Me Like No One Can", not only for their heaviness, great riffs, and drums, but certainly for their breathtaking and touching chorus.

With all this guitar and drum 'brutality', you could ask for some rest to have a change in tempo and so. Luckily there is: "Fall From Grace", a slow(er) song, almost ballad-like but not leaving the heavy guitars out. Slow songs aren't Lars's bests and you can hear this easily, but it's not that bad and once the chorus is there, you forget that little detail. :-) In general, concerning the vocals, Lars might not have a great range, but he does have a special voice with which he can express many emotions.

"8 Deadly Sins" is a very good and very powerful album, music that comes from the heart and is at times very touching. This is one of my favourite releases of this year, for sure. Though I've only heard this album so far and some mp3s from the other albums, I don't think I'm mistaken that much when I say that this is the best release they've made. A must-have!

Line-up:
Lars F. Larsen - vocals
Kristian Larsen - guitars
Kasper Gram - bass
Mads Volf - drums


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BURY YOUR DEAD – Cover Your Tracks (Victory Records 2004)

Bury Your Dead - Cover Your Tracks
  1. Top Gun
  2. Vanilla Sky
  3. Mission: Impossible
  4. Eyes Wide Shut
  5. Magnolia
  6. The Outsiders
  7. Mission: Impossible 2
  8. The Color Of Money
  9. Risky Business
  10. Legend
  11. All The Right Moves
  12. Losin' It

BURY YOUR DEAD, hardcore as they call it. I'm no hardcore fan at all, but you've got to be open for everything, right? After a decent listen, I can only conclude that this album and band will never be on my favourites list or even music I'd like to hear again after some time.

A quote from Kerrang: "Destructive hardcore with blunt, pronounced lyrics and delicious breakdowns...". I'd rather call it (...). No, I'm not going to, as it would be too negative. Sure, we can't all like the same kind of music, but this isn't exactly what I would call music. A bad production, basically the same kind of low riffs - which can be interchanged with almost every song - screaming/growling in the mic, short lyrics - though in a way meaningful, but mostly hollow (to me) - and as last: barely 30 minutes of running time. A cd can hold up to +/- 80 minutes. I also miss structure in many songs.

If BURY YOUR DEAD has fans, good for them, but this is just too monotonous for me.

Fans already know the site: www.buryyourdead.com and the page on their label Victory Records: Bury Your Dead.

Line-up:
Mat Bruso - vocals
Slim B. - guitars
Eric Ellis - guitars
Rich Casey - bass
Mark Castillo - drums


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GHOST MACHINERY – Haunting Remains (Sound Riot Records 2004)

Ghost Machinery - Haunting Remains
  1. World Of Unbelievers
  2. Blinded Eyes
  3. Temples Of Gold
  4. Evil Within Us
  5. Down In Flames
  6. Dreamworld
  7. From The Edge Of The World
  8. Darkest Hour
  9. Fallen Angels
  10. Heaven Or Hell
  11. In Your (Evil) Dreams
  12. Out In The Fields
  13. Shadows

Pete Ahonen, frontman of BURNING POINT, which released 2 albums on Limb Music Products, had some music written, but the other members didn't find it fitting on a BURNING POINT album. So Pete decided to start a new band, GHOST MACHINERY.

The songs sound a bit different than what BURNING POINT made and can be classified under Powermetal with a neoclassical touch.

Mattias Norén did the cover artwork, but compared with what he did for CLOUDSCAPE, MANTICORA and KAMELOT, this is rather average.

"World Of Unbelievers" is a midtempo song with the keyboards giving it an '80s feel. In a way it reminds me of DIONYSUS. All in all not a bad song. "Blinded Eyes" increases the tempo with a lot more bass drums. Clearly one of the best on the album. What I like about the song is the verses being backed/supported by *todo-todo-todo* bass drums, 2 ticks at a time but following rapidly after one another.

"Temples Of Gold", the rejected song, is a slower song, but I can see/hear why it won't (wouldn't) fit on a BURNING POINT album: it's rather boring. After that, the album accelerates a bit faster with "Evil Within Us", with the keyboards playing a happy melody. Nothing bad about it, just a decent song.

Oh my, it couldn't get more '80s with "Down In Flames", especially when your using a keyboard sound that seems to be plucked away from that period. Still, one has to give the band credit for keeping this sound alive. ;-) But it's nice, though, if you like this kind of sound.

"Dreamworld" is a ballad and certainly not of the best I've heard.

GHOST MACHINERY seems to give the album a certain pattern: midtempo, uptempo, midtempo, uptempo, ... since the next song is again a bit faster: "From The Edge Of The World".

Nothing much to say about "Darkest Hour", a decent song although I feel it's missing something. "Fallen Angels" is.. well, if you're in the right mood, you might appreciate it. But overall, it's to be avoided, not to say it's boring.

And then, probably the best song on the album: "Heaven Or Hell", starting with a keyboard tune that can easily get stuck in your head. Of course this is again a fast(er) song. These are the kind of songs that fit GHOST MACHINERY the best, not the slower ones.

"In You (Evil) Dreams"...*sigh*. Next! Nothing personal, but it's boring. No, I'm not kidding. "Out In The Fields" reminds me a bit of GAMMA RAY's "Heaven Or Hell", at least the chorus does. Not bad.

"Shadows" closes the album but lacks power to make it a good song.

Conclusion: I'd say above mediocre, especially the speedier songs give "Haunting Remains" some credit, but for the rest.. This could me much better, if you know what BURNING POINT released. I know, this is another band. Pete, you can do much better. So I hope the next album will be much more powerful and have a better sound. Not that it's badly produced or anything, but we're 2005. ;-)

Line-up:
Pete Ahonen - vocals / guitars
Tapsa Pelkonen - bass
Jussy Ontero - drums / keyboards


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ARWEN – Illusion (Arise Records 2004)

Arwen - Illusions
  1. Into The...
  2. Illusions
  3. Riding Alone
  4. Dance Of Souls
  5. Infinity
  6. Keltia
  7. Fantasy Or Reality
  8. No More Tears
  9. By My Own Sight
  10. One Reason To Live
  11. Lullaby
  12. Somewhere In The Past
  13. Touch The Sky

ARWEN, consisting of 8 musicians... Slipknot -1. O wait, Slipknot and musicians? (nevermind ;-))

This Spanish band plays Powermetal with a symphonic, progressive touch. Almost every position is double present: 2 vocalists, 2 guitarists and 2 keyboard players. Especially the guitars have a great influence on the songs.

"Illusions" is their second album and though I haven't heard the first, I must say I'm pleasantly surprised by what this band brings. Sure, there's some copycat-stuff, but in the Powermetal genre it's hard to come up with something original. Still, ARWEN are doing their best. The production is very good and you can easily notice it by the sound of the guitars and drums. The keyboards create a certain atmosphere and sometimes even make the songs more powerful.

ARWEN can be compared with DARK MOOR, SONATA ARCTICA, etc... but then much heavier and with 2 keyboard players, they have more possibilities. For example in "Infinity" you can clearly hear why.

The album is is filled with heavy guitars, but contains also 2 slower/softer songs: "Keltia" and "Lullaby". In the first, Mamen's voice doesn't sound as good as in the heavier songs. It's not as graceful as e.g. Floor Jansen's (AFTER FOREVER) or Simone Simons's (EPICA), it's... sharper. You have to get used to it if you haven't heard her before.

One strange thing: certain tracks (e.g. 2-4) end in an abrupt way or in other words, it doesn't match the rest of the song, like it was added as the last piece of the song, just to have sómething as a finish.

To close off, "Illusions" is worth the purchase, it really is. Powermetal with a capital P. If you already knew the band, no problem. If you want a different Powermetal cd in your collection, don't hesitate. Should this album not be of your likings, you can always try the debut "Memories Of A Dream". ;-)

Line-up:
Nacho Ruiz - vocals
Mamen Carmen Castaño - vocals
Jose A. Garrido - guitar
Alberto Avilés - guitar
Luis M. Hernandez - bass
Nacho Arriaga - drums
Javi Díez - keyboards
Rosalva Alonso - keyboards


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IRON SAVIOR – Battering Ram (Noise Records 2004)

Iron Savior - Battering Ram
  1. Battering Ram (promo-mp3)
  2. Stand Against The King (promo-mp3)
  3. Tyranny Of Steel (promo-mp3)
  4. Time Will Tell (promo-mp3 & mp3)
  5. Wings Of Deliverance (promo-mp3)
  6. Break The Curse (promo-mp3)
  7. Riding Free
  8. Starchaser
  9. Machine World
  10. Heavy Metal Powered Man
  11. The Call (bonus track)

A new album from the German Powermetallers. If you already knew IRON SAVIOR, then you know what to expect, pure Powermetal with a very clear production (by Piet Sielck), pounding drums with an '80s touch in my opinion. The cover artwork was made by Marko Jakobi. Martin Christian (PARAGON) contributed to the song "Wings Of Deliverance", in which he played the lead guitar. There's one song – "Break The Curse" – that sounds a bit like TESTAMENT's "Electric Crown", not that I mind though.

Overall, it's a very good album, though some songs are a bit harder to digest. Still, there are songs that stand out: "Battering Ram", "Tyranny Of Steel", "Time Will Tell", "Riding Free", "Heavy Metal Powered Man".

"Riding Free" is a fast, 'encouraging' song, a delight for the ear and (metal)heart. It's one of those songs GAMMA RAY and FREEDOM CALL have in their discography. Heavy Metal Powered Man is also one of my favourites, not only because of the music, but the lyrics as well. Cheesy or not, it's dedicated to Heavy Metal and how wonderful this music genre is. I know, bands like MANOWAR and MESSIAH'S KISS also have one or more songs about Heavy Metal, but they all share the same opinion.

The bonus track "The Call" is in my opinion a filler, I can't really link it with the other songs. Listening to the lyrics, I conclude it's also a homeage to Metal. The positive thing about it is that's it's got chopping guitars and changes in tempo, with some nice passages.

Conclusion? A bit difficult to say, since I like variation on an album. Still, it's IRON SAVIOR. Straight-forward Metal. I haven't heard the previous releases in detail, but as a start this is worth the investment. ;-) Do be sure to check out the other albums, so you can get a more complete image of the band and their music.

Line-up:
Piet Sielck - vocals, guitars
Joachim "Piesel" Küstner - guitars
Yenz Leonhardt - bass
Thomas Nack - drums


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SILENT FORCE – Worlds Apart (Noise Records 2004)

Silent Force - Worlds Apart
  1. Ride The Storm
  2. No One Lives Forever (mp3)
  3. Hold On
  4. Once Again
  5. Master Of My Destiny
  6. Heroes
  7. Death Comes In Disguise
  8. Merry Ministrel
  9. Spread Your Wings
  10. Iron Hand
  11. Heart Attack
  12. Worlds Apart

With their first two albums on Massacre Records, "The Empire of Future" (2000) and "Infatuator" (2001), they became a well-known Melodic Powermetalband. Changing to Noise Records for their third, "Worlds Apart", provides them with a clearer sound – thanks to producer Dennis Ward (PINK CREAM 69) – and probably more opportunities. DC Cooper's great voice gives certain songs a powerful feel, but he can express more feelings with it.

Starting with the fast "Ride The Storm", this song can give you some uplifting energy. Next is the fantastic and sing-along "No One Lives Forever" (of which there's an mp3 available). Great guitars, great keyboards, great voice, great drums, ... great song! Certainly worth mentioning is "Once Again", which for me has got the best chorus of all songs on the album. It's got great and fast riffs, and wonderful melodies (keyboards). "Heroes", which is about the firemen who lost their lives on 9/11, is another special song. DC Cooper's also a fireman, so he knows what to sing about and how to translate certain feelings into the song.

The rest of the songs are midtempo or a little faster, but also great. "Spread Your Wings" is the only song which provides a resting point amongst all this power.

Overall conclusion: if you already knew SILENT FORCE, then I guess you won't skip this one. If you didn't know SILENT FORCE before, here's your chance to add some great melodic powerful metal to your collection, especially when you're a fan of melodic (power)metal. ;-)

Line-up:
DC Cooper - vocals
Alexander Beyrodt - guitars
Torsten Röhre - keyboards
Jürgen Steinmetz - bass
André Hilgers - drums


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RHAPSODY – Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret (Steamhammer 2004)

Rhapsody - Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret
  1. The Dark Secret
    -Ira Divina-
  2. Unholy Warcry
  3. Never Forgotten Heroes
  4. Elgard's Green Valleys
  5. The Magic Of The Wizards Dream
  6. Erian's Mystical Rhymes
    -The White Dragon's Order-
  7. The Last Angels' Call
  8. Dragonland's Rivers
  9. Sacred Power Of Raging Winds
  10. Guardiani Del Destino
  11. Shadows Of Death
  12. Nightfall On The Grey Mountains
  • DVD:
  • Unholy Warcry (short version video)
  • Unholy Warcry (long version video)
  • Unholy Warcry (extended version video)
  • Behind The Scenes
  • Album Documentary
  • The Artwork

With their first 5 albums ("Legendary Tales" to "Power Of The Dragonflame"), RHAPSODY covered a self-invented (but also thanks to the inspiring LOTR works from Tolkien ;-)) saga, "Chronicles Of Algalord". With these albums, they became very popular and increased their fanbase at a rapid speed. Now, 2 years after "Power Of The Dragonflame", they are back... with another saga. Though it's still about the same world, we're now some tens of years later in the story and many things have happened since. Ofcourse a new title is needed: "The Dark Secret". Again this saga will be covered by 4-5 albums, at a rate of one every two years. For this album, Luca and Alex Staropoli were responsible for the production, though Sascha Paeth was always near for assistance. He and Miro produced the previous albums.

Changing to SPV/Steamhammer (and changing management, Magic Circle Music, with Joey DeMaio from MANOWAR) made bigger budgets available and opened more doors, meaning they could now ask Christopher Lee (Saruman in the LOTR movies) to do the narration of the story, as well as a Czech orchestra and choir and more... But there was also more room for improved artwork. Check all albums' covers to see the evolution in design.

So, with C. Lee in charge of narration, this is also how the new album begins: with a deep, low voice. Turn up the volume, close the doors, make sure you won't be bothered and then listen... It's like your in a film theater, watching a film, only there aren't any 'moving pictures'. When the choir and orchestra come into play for "Ira Divina" (around 2'30"), this creates a special atmosphere, just like in certain films. This isn't just metal anymore, it's diverting more and more towards film music. And that's what the band wants: making film music, hence they call it 'Film Score Metal', because you've got everything but the film.

"Unholy Warcry" is on next, but in an unedited version (= longer), featuring narrations by C. Lee followed by an easy (as in slow, not heavy) piece by Fabio. This song also let's Luca play a cheerful solo, together with the orchestra and drums. Ofcourse RHAPSODY also added some sound effects like horses, water, wind, etc... and the magnificent "Never Forgotten Heroes" is the first song where you can hear this. The choir and orchestra dominate the beginning of the song, with the drums and guitars kicking in after 1'30", accompagnied by a female opera voice. Alex Holzwarth has been given a lot of freedom for his drumming and in this song he did a great job with the rolls. In this song you can hear some similarities with "Thunder's Mighty Roar" (from the EP), after which there's a very nice keyboard and guitar solo. Then there's the 'ensemble' of Luca with the orchestra: WOW!!! Majestic! Heavenly! This is – for me – the best song on the album. "Elgard's Green Valleys" is an instrumental song with only medieval instruments (or at least it has such a sound). Effects were added to make it seem you're in a tavern or something similar, with people talking to eachother. The flute melody shows similarities with "Sacred Power Of Raging Winds", but I'm sure there's a reason for this. Maybe if there were a movie, one would know why.

Up next is the gorgeous and very touching ballad "The Magic Of The Wizards Dream". Fabio has a very special voice and can translate almost every feeling in a song. As I said, it's a touching/moving song, capable of making people cry. There aren't enough words to describe its beauty. "Erian's Mystical Rhyms" has a growling demon taking the beginning for his part. Then there's a majestic part with the drums, violins, rest of the orchestra, ... The song's got some nice melodies and vocals, but it's not that special compared to the rest of the tracks. Nevertheless it's nice. "The Last Angel's Call" starts with a catchy and heavy tune and a chorus that's worth mentioning, for it makes this song also one of the best on this album. It's nice to sing along too. "Dragonland's Rivers" is something in the style of "Forest Of Unicorns" ("Legendary Tales" album). Overall, a nice song. "Sacred Power Of Raging Winds" and "Guardiani Del Destino" (here: Italian version) are known songs, since they also figured on the The Dark Secret EP. "Shadows Of Death" is the heaviest song on the album and can be compared to songs of the "Power Of The Dragonflame" album. Introducing trumpets, later followed by the orchestra. A typical RHAPSODY song and one of the better on the album. Here we have another great solo of guitars and keyboards, as well as a very nice chorus. "Nightfall On The Grey Mountains" finally is a slow song, dominated by the choir and orchestra. In general, a nice song.

There isn't a single bad song on this album. Ofcourse one's better than the other, but this is again a masterpiece. The quality is extremely high, you can really hear the band put a lot of time and effort in making this. Sure, you can say "It's RHAPSODY, I know how it sounds, nothing new.", but try to see beyond that. Try to see the background, the message the band wants to give, the atmosphere. You get 12 songs, about 73 minutes of music (incl. 'minimal' narrations) and a DVD with the Limited Edition.. This is more than an ordinary audio-cd, like many other bands release. With this album, you get a film, except they didn't include the images/visual stuff. This is one of the best releases this year. No doubt about that.

Line-up:
Fabio Lione - vocals
Luca Turilli - guitars
Alex Staropoli - keyboards
Patrice Guers - bass
Alex Holzwarth - drums


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RHAPSODY – The Dark Secret (Steamhammer 2004)

Rhapsody - The Dark Secret EP
  1. Unholy Warcry (short version)
  2. Thunder's Mighty Roar
  3. Guardians Of Destiny (Engl. version)
  4. Sacred Power Of Raging Winds
  5. Non Ho Sonno (Remix)

RHAPSODY are back! After 2002's Power Of The Dragonflame – which ended a 6-year old saga, spread over 5 albums – they give us a pre-taste of the next studioalbum "Symphony Of Enchanted Lands 2 - The Dark Secret" by releasing an EP entitled "The Dark Secret".

For their 6th album, they appealed to Christopher Lee – known as Saruman in the Lord Of The Rings movies, but also very experienced in operas and movies. He also features on the cover of the EP, and by this RHAPSODY move away from drawn covers.

The EP contains 5 songs and the Limited Edition adds a DVD (interviews, making of, "Unholy Warcry" video, ...) to the package.The songs are definitely RHAPSODY-like (orchestra and choirs), you cannot mistake in this. One could compare the sound with "Dawn Of Victory", but then heavier.

RHAPSODY fans should not worry and can get this EP safely. Newcomers... should buy this too. ;-) RHAPSODY is one of the best – if not the best – Symphonic Metalband and with this EP they confirm their talent, majesty, ...

Line-up:
Fabio Lione - vocals
Luca Turilli - guitar
Alex Staropoli - keyboards
Patrice Guers - bass
Alex Holzwarth - drums


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SAY BOK GWAI – Say Bok Gwai (Monkey King Records 2004)

Say Bok Gwai - Say Bok Gwai
  1. No Sweet & Sour
  2. White Demon Stir Fry
  3. Chinese Racism
  4. Special Won Ton Soup
  5. $8 Sandwich
  6. 433
  7. No Chop Suey
  8. Chili Relleno Why You Buggin'
  9. White Guilt
  10. Hit Your Head
  11. Don't Fear The White Demon
  12. Die Sigh
  13. No Brains
  14. Lazy
  15. Boss
  16. White Demon Bag Of Tricks
  17. Senior Pride
  18. Pythagarhythm
  19. It's Easy
  20. Paper White
  21. Yellow 5
  22. Why Are Your People So Crazy?
  23. Radio Star
  24. Lick N' Puss
  25. Stick It In
  26. Mail Order Wife
  27. True Words
  28. Straith Outta HK
  29. White In You
  30. Got No Friends To Talk To

SAY BOK GWAI is an American duo, stationed in San Francisco. Combining American and Chinese influences, the band describes its music as Cantocore, mainly because the lyrics are sug mostly in Cantonese while the music is a mix of different styles: American Metal, Punk, Hardcore, Thrash.. The lyrics deal with Chinese-American identity or even grappling with traditional Chinese values and down with "the man" aesthetics.

It is said that frontman Alex Yeung has been a long time working in both the hard music and experimental music scenes, which can be translated as being the songwriter and guitarist for SAY BOK GWAI and playing guitar for CONQUEST FOR DEATH, a band I'm not familiar with. Drummer André Custodio also seems to have been busy with music for over 10 years and plays in TERESE TAYLOR and VAL MIH, also two bands that don't ring a bell.

The 1st CD, self-titled, was released in May 2004 (I'm writing this in October 2008, got the request many months before). All songs have a length of less than 1 minute, longer than 1 minute and the last one clocking in after 04:30. Now, this should offer some nice results and songs... with a normal band or at least with more tools. But sadly this is not the case here. Short songs, more like samples and song outtakes totalling a playtime of little more than 30 minutes.

Most are with vocals, the rest is instrumental. The instrumentation is tuned differently depending on the song: Thrashy for one, more Doomy for the other, while lighter for another. The lyrics are, simply put, ridiculous. The singing is annoying and more yelling than anything else. The music is good, to some extent, but in most cases this too just sounds like one big jam session and improvising without really knowing where to go, although Alex and André probably have a logic.

There are some good ideas (for example, "Chinese Racism", "$8 Sandwich", "433", "White Guilt", "Hit Your Head"), but overall "Say Bok Gwai" is just a collection of ideas (bad or good is food for discussion, although in my opinion most should be thrown away) and certainly not worthy of being deemed a full album. So, who is this for? People who like excentric music? The band itself?

More info at www.monkeykingrecords.com/sbg.

Line-up:
Alex Yeung - vocals, guitar
André Custodio - drums, vocals


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NIGHTWISH – Once (Nuclear Blast 2004)

Nightwish - Once
  1. Dark Chest Of Wonders
  2. Wish I Had An Angel
  3. Nemo
  4. Planet Hell
  5. Creek Mary's Blood
  6. The Siren
  7. Dead Gardens
  8. Romanticide
  9. Ghost Love Score
  10. Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan
  11. Higher Than Hope

NIGHTWISH have left a dark period behind them ("Century Child") and moved, resulting in a new, more positive album – "Once". More symphonic than ever, the band appealed to a real orchestra this time, to give it more realistic touch.

"Once" kicks off with the fantastic "Dark Chest Of Wonders", which has a catchy chorus, like "Wish I Had An Angel". This song has a techno-beat (which makes it sound like a remix), but overall it's nice. Tarja's voice sounds more purely, not like it has been edited with effects. Emppu's guitarplay is heavier, riffier than on the previous albums. Though symphony and metal are the key words, not every song contains symphonic parts (e.g. "Dead Gardens"). For "Creek Mary's Blood", Tuomas asked the Indian John Two-Hawks to play a part on the album. In this song, he plays the flute and gives a speech in his native language. In my opinion, it's the most captivating song.

"Once" is Symphonic Metal at a high level and will prove/prooves to be a best-seller (see News). Every metalfan and especially NIGHTWISH-fan should not leave this album missing in his/her collection. This is one of the best albums of 2004 so far!

Line-up:
Tarja Turunen - vocals
Emppu Vuorinen - guitars
Tuomas Holopainen - keyboards
Marco Hietala - bass
Jukka Nevalainen - drums


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SILVER FIST – Ave Fénix (Avispa Music 2004)

Silver Fist - Ave Fénix CD 1:
  1. Ave Fénix
  2. El Predicador
  3. Piel Roja
  4. En Llamas
  5. Armagedón
  6. Cuestión De Honor
  7. Aunque No Estés Aquí
  8. Cambiando La Suerte
  9. Cielo O Infierno
  10. Puedo Oírte Gritar
  11. Tú Y Yo
CD 2:
  1. Come Out And Play (TWISTED SISTER cover)
  2. Hall Of The Mountain King (SAVATAGE cover)
  3. Princess Of The Night (SAXON cover)
  4. Children Of The Sea (BLACK SABBATH cover)
  5. Seasons In The Abyss (SLAYER cover)
  6. Fireball (DEEP PURPLE)

SILVER FIST, one of Spain's many bands, was founded in 2002 by frontman Silverio Solórzano and drummer Ivan Manzano, after having spent a long time in MURO, who got themselves a place in the Hall Of Spanish Metal.

Two years ago (since I'm writing this in July 2006), in April 2004, the band's debut album "Ave Fénix" saw the light of day. Next to 11 own songs, SILVER FIST also recorded a bonus cd with 6 covers, with songs from SAXON, SLAYER, SAVATAGE, BLACK SABBATH, ...

At the moment they are arranging their songs for their expected 2nd album (at least in Spain) which will be released after the summer of 2006.

So how does "Ave Fénix" sound? Heavy Metal for sure, although it's got enough epicness and power to fit in the Powermetal category, but since Heavy and Power are closely related... Comparable bands could be MANOWAR, GAMMA RAY and more like those.

The album kicks off with the epic and speedy titletrack, which clearly shows what to expect from SILVER FIST: rough vocals, very nice solowork and drumming making this a very good starter. "El Predicador" continues the uptempo style, more with a more gallopping touch. The choirs are a bit subdued/muffled and don't come out strong enough. Again the guitarsolo is free from criticism. Although the song itself is very good, the use of keyboards would have made it even better.

After two strong songs, time to take it easier with "Piel Roja", a midtempo song. Pluspoints for the solowork, again, and it remains good to very good throughout the entire album (so I'm not going to mention it again). Here too keyboards would have given the song a more special touch.

"En Llamas" is the calmest song and sounds a bit bluesy/jazzy. After the first minute, the electric guitars and drums set in, but the tempo remains slow. Overall it's not a bad song, but perhaps it would have been better if it were shorter.

Then, "Armagedón", it's back to business as usual with fast riffs, uptempo drumming, double bass, which can also be deduced from the title.

In SAXON-style, SILVER FIST sets in "Cuestió De Honor". A very rocking song with double bass in the chorus.

After that, another 'resting point' comes up with "Aunque No Estés Aquí". After a minute and a half, things get heavier, with a bit more power during the chorus. This is the longest track, more than 7 minutes. The piano intro comes back for the outro.

"Cambiando La Suerte" adds more metal again and is a mix of mid- and uptempo (after 02:00). Thé highlight is ofcourse the guitarsolos. Other than that, nothing particular stands out.

And the averageness seems to continued with "Cielo O Infierno", which is heavier and puts more emphasis on the low riffs. A tiny little reference can be made to (old) SEPULTURA. Like with two earlier songs, implementing some keyboards would not have had a negative effect. After 3:30 the tempo is increased assisted by the solowork.

The drums introduce "Puedo Oírte Gritar", after which the rest of the band joins in. While this is nice rocking song, it seems almost like a cover of a popsong.

Luckily the band finds the necessary power again to end "Ave Fénix" in style: first a tension-building intro, followed by speed. Power, ferocity... key elements for this song. After the third minute, there's an instrumental interlude. The guitarsolos set in right after that and the uptempo is set forth. Great ending, despite the two-three before-last songs were not as good as the previous ones.

All in all you can say that SILVER FIST have a more than good job with this debut. The production is good and its roughness makes it very honest and powerful. Any Heavy or Powermetal fan should find his/her likings in this record. These guys play with enthusiasm. Since their second album will come out in a couple of months, I hope this will be at least as good as the debut.

About the cover songs: TWISTED SISTER's"Come Out And Play" is well-done. The classic SAVATAGE song is also very decent although you can't beat the original. Was this played by SILVER FIST or SAXON? Excellent covering, almost as if SILVER FIST used to be a SAXON coverband. BLACK SABBATH's song was also a nice try, but it's hard to be better than Ronnie James Dio. SILVER FIST pulled it off with SAXON's song and they did the same with SLAYER's classic. DEEP PURPLE's "Fireball" was the least good attempt. Overall, nice work and a nice gesture to add this as a second disc.

More info at www.silverfistmetal.com.

Line-up:
Silverio Solórzano - vocals
Diego López - guitars
Nacho Ruiz - guitars
José M. Pérez - bass
Iván Manzano - drums


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DRAGONFORCE – Sonic Firestorm (Noise Records 2004)

Dragonforce - Sonic Firestorm
  1. My Spirit Will Go On (mp3)
  2. Fury Of The Storm
  3. Fields Of Despair
  4. Dawn Over A New World
  5. Above The Winter Moonlight
  6. Soldiers Of The Wasteland
  7. Prepare For War
  8. Once In A Lifetime

What better way to make Power/Speedmetal faster than by putting a Black Metal drummer behind the drums? In this case, it's Dave Mackintosh from Bal-Sagoth. DRAGONFORCE is about speed, and you probably won't find a faster Powermetal band.

"Sonic Firestorm" is a long (at least 5 mins. per song) and fast melodic ride, an entire album long. Filled with fast riffs, dito drumming, solos – and these solos are awesome, in my opinion. Herman Li and Sam Totman sure know how to handle a guitar.

With all these fast songs, you could wonder if they can play in a slower way as well.. They can, halfway the album: "Dawn Over A New World". It is not a typical DRAGONFORCE song, but it definitely isn't bad. Dave is used to playing fast and in this song you kind of notice him trying to suppress the urge to use the double pedals a lot.

Because the album is full of speedy songs, they can be annoying (for some people) after a while. This isn't an album to be played again and again a couple of times, but more if you are in the right mood or if you feel the need to be re-energized. ;-)

Line-up:
ZP Theart - vocals
Herman Li - guitar
Sam Totman - guitar
Vadim Pruzhanov - keyboards
Adrian Lambert - bass
Dave Mackintosh - drums


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EDGUY – Hellfire Club (Nuclear Blast 2004)

Edguy - Hellfire Club
  1. Mysteria
  2. The Piper Never Dies
  3. We Don't Need A Hero
  4. Down To The Devil
  5. King Of Fools
  6. Forever
  7. Under The Moon
  8. Lavatory Love Machine
  9. Rise Of The Morning Glory
  10. Lucifer In Love
  11. Navigator
  12. The Spirit Will Remain
  13. Children Of Steel (ltd. edition bonustrack)
  14. Mysteria (ltd. edition bonustrack, feat. Mille Petrozza)

After closing off at AFM Records with the live album "Burning Down The Opera", here's EDGUY's first album on their new label, Nuclear Blast. For this, they appealed to the film orchestra Babelsberg and guest singers like Amanda Sommerville, Thomas Rettke, Oliver Hartmann, ... They also added keyboards (played by Tobi and Michael Rodenberg) on certain songs.

"Hellfire Club" starts with a screaming welcome from Herr Tobi, followed by a heavy riff. Then the whole bands comes into play and we are off for a heavy and powerful ride. On "Mysteria" you can clearly hear a different, purer drumsound (compared to previous albums), thanks to tape-recording. This song is a classic in EDGUY's collection.

The slower, but longest song on the album (10 minutes), "The Piper Never Dies" is introduced by a repeating bassguitar tune, which plays a fairly important role in this song. As a live-track it' very well suited, with the sing-along chorus. A little over halfway, the band starts to play more uptempo, which only makes me feel better and gives the song that extra power and feel.

Third in line is "We Don't Need A Hero", filled with heavy riffs, fast double-bassdrums, a great guitarsolo, .... an EDGUY's speciality! Superb!

"Forever" is the obligatory ballad on the album. Whether ballad or uptempo, EDGUY can do it all. ;-) "Lavatory Love Machine" is a sweet and amusing rock-song, just for the fun of it, since it's got nothing to do with the background story of "Hellfire Club". "The Spirit Will Remain" is performed only by Tobias (vocals) and the orchestra. A sensitive, touching song, but o so beautiful.

More mid- and uptempo can be found in "Under The Moon", "Rise Of The Morning Glory", "King Of Fools".

Bonus tracks (only on the 1st pressing): "Children Of Steel" is an oldie with a new sound and "Mysteria" features Mille Petrozza (KREATOR) on vocals.

"Hellfire Club" is again a great EDGUY-album, and prooves EDGUY is not just any band.

Line-up:
Tobias Sammet - vocals
Jens Ludwig - guitar
Dirk Sauer - guitar
Tobias Exxel - bass
Felix Bohnke - drums


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Reviews 2004

On this page
ANGRA -
Temple Of Shadows
ARTRACH -
Faceless God
ARWEN -
Illusions
BURY YOUR DEAD -
Cover Your Tracks
DRAGONFORCE -
Sonic Firestorm
EDGUY -
Hellfire Club
GENIUS -
Episode 2: In Search
Of The Little Prince
GHOST MACHINERY -
Haunting Remains
IRON SAVIOR -
Battering Ram
IVORY KNIGHT -
Unconscience
MANTICORA -
8 Deadly Sins
MYSTIC PROPHECY -
Never-Ending
NIGHTWISH -
Once
RHAPSODY -
The Dark Secret
RHAPSODY -
SOEL II - TDS
SAY BOK GWAI -
Say Bok Gwai
SILENT FORCE -
Worlds Apart
SILVER FIST -
Ave Fénix