Seemingly out of nowhere, the American band Huntress delivers an early candidate for ‘2012 album of the year’ with their debut full-length “Spell Eater”. With over 40 minutes of hard-hitting Heavy Metal, the band’s attitude (and music) is as real as it can get when it comes to Heavy Metal. Led by the talented (and equally sexy) Jill Janus, this band is not your average mellow Metal female-fronted band, but rather a full-fledged war machine that will surely demolish your ears.
Taking influences from Heavy, Black and Thrash Metal, the album opens with the crushing “Spell Eater” track. The opening riffs scream Black Metal immediately, but as the song progresses and Jill’s vocals come through, the old-school Thrash influences seamlessly appear. This high-intensity track nicely marks the pace of a very diverse and extremely well crafted album.
Finally after a seven year wait, Lullacry is set to release their 5th full-length release titled “Where Angels Fear”. In this latest release, the band sounds very mature and avoids the cliché Gothic Metal or Pop-Metal release and favors a heavier and darker Melodic Heavy Metal release with just a few Gothic Metal hints. Featuring 11 hard-hitting tracks, “Where Angels Fear” is by far the best release of the band since “Crucify My Heart”.
Being huge fans of the band’s previous releases, we are just realizing that we are old since the last album we liked from the band was almost 10 years ago. Aside from this, the band has also managed to stay pretty much intact and features the same lineup since 2002 when Tanja Lainio joined the band. This has clearly allowed them to fully develop a sound of their own and be able to produce such a mature release with “Where Angels Fear”.
With a very long and extremely good discography under his belt, Axel Rudi Pell returns this 2012 with their latest masterpiece “Circle of the Oath”. In this release, Axel and the band rip through 10 tracks of very traditional and effective Heavy/Power Metal without ridiculous amounts of flair, but with a very well defined core and a timeless sound.
Immediately after the intro, Axel’s guitar playing power is immediately present on “Ghost in the Black”. As one of the fastest tracks of this release, this song is filled with catchy guitar work, powerful keyboards and very solid vocals courtesy of Johnny Gioeli. The traditional Heavy Metal atmosphere is immediately present with the catchy choruses of “Run with the Wind” and “Before I Die”, a staple that Axel Rudi Pell has had over their whole career.
Packed with 14 powerful guitar-driven songs, today we have Aclla’s debut album “Landscape Revolution”. Merging elements from Power Metal with Heavy Metal in an aggressive fashion, we are left with pounding guitars on top of Power/Heavy Metal song structures, a very interesting approach.
Opening with “The Totem”, we can immediately tell that this distortion is not very typical for a Power/Heavy Metal release and this marks the beginning of a very interesting musical journey. Power through tracks like “The Hidden Dawn”, “Under Twilight Skies”, “Ride” and “Living for a Dream”, there is no doubt on the quality of the musicians behind Aclla, since they manage to make very good songs through “Landscape Revolution”
Delivering an impressive debut solo album, today we have Sylvain Rouvière and his Kaktus Project release “Supersition”. Featuring 13 songs of well crafted Heavy/Power Metal with Hard Rock influences, this release is a very nice showcase of both Sylvain’s vocal and guitar playing abilities.
Unlike many side project releases, “Superstition” truly showcases the musician’s ability and not his countless buddy’s that make guest appearances on the album. Since the opener track “Farewell” we have soaring vocals and very well crafted guitar work, this track reminds us a bit of older Timmo Tolki-era Stratovarius. Moving on with “Superstition”, we get some hints of Edguy/Avantasia in this very entertaining song.
Hailing from Belgium, today we have a very solid Heavy Metal band with the name of “Beyond the Labyrinth”. While this band might not be familiar to a lot of people, they have been around the scene since 1996 and you can tell by the quality of music presented in the 12 tracks in “Chapter III – Stories”. Being the band’s third full-length release, “Chapter II – Stories” features tracks that range from power ballads, hard rocking anthems and even some mellow Heavy/Progressive Metal pieces.
Opening with “The Girl with the X-Ray Eyes”, the band quickly sets the pace for this release by crafting a very catchy and emotional song. This song reminds us of soundtrack songs for 90’s movies. With a bit of a more current sound, “Where Kindred Spirits Meet” has a nice Progressive/Heavy Metal feel to it and the keyboards sound very good in this song. The first power ballad comes under the name of “Oceans Apart”, in this song the guitar work is quite nice and the vocal performance of Jo De Boeck is very emotional. The drumming sounds a bit funky, but the song it-self is very good.
After Edguy getting split-decisions (very good/very bad) in the band’s last few full-length releases, today we have “Age of the Joker”, another release that will surely polarize fans even more. It is hard to imagine that people are still expecting the older Power Metal approach to things that Edguy had in their first few albums, particularly after the last 2 releases have been heading in the same direction: 80’s styled Metal. So haters will be haters and trash this release, but if you actually give it a chance, you will find some pretty good tunes and an overall very solid release.
The hard-rocking “Robin Hood” delivers a powerful introduction to this release. With its new psychedelic elements, this track is pretty much a continuation of where the band left off on “Tinnitus Sanctus” and incorporates the recent Avantasia sounds as well. As you can expect we have very epic chorus sections and Tobias Sammet’s amazing voice paired with very well crafted music. The buildup section around the fourth minute mark is excellent and allows the song to nicely grow.
After some years in the pipeline, fans will finally get to have in their hands the double DVD/CD boxed set of 25 anniversary show of the queen of metal: Doro Pesch. While we are reviewing only the CD portion of this legendary show full of guest appearances, we are supper excited to get to see the DVD portion once it is released in North America.
In terms of the CD only we are a bit disappointed by the track selection (CD only has 10 tracks and one intro), but it does cover some of Doro’s greatest hits and also is missing a lot of the newer ones. Also, only a few of the guest appearances made it into the CD (3 out of the 10 tracks), making it pale in comparison to the actual live DVD’s.
After the disappointing “No Sacrifice, No Victory”, Hammerfall returns to the basics and delivers a very powerful and effective Heavy Metal release with “Infected”. Featuring great vocal melodies and catchy song structures, the band might have a shot at best Heavy Metal album for 2011 with this release.
With pounding riffs and a very simple structure, “Patient Zero” opens the album and delivers a very effective first punch. Joacim Cans vocals are the highlight of the song (and the album), but the catchy chorus sections and the guitar acrobatics nicely round out a very powerful opener for this release and give a taste of what’s to come.
The tone is set to heavy with Gates of Slumber’s latest album; the riffs crawl along at a sludge-like tempo with an eeriness weaving in and out of the pattern. Moving away from their usual theme of swords and sorcery and into the real world was a wise choice for their part as well the pick for new drummer, J “Cool” Clyde” Paradis. His drumming has a vibe to it that sounds like it made even vocalist Karl Simon and bassist Jason McCash step up their game a bit.