”Existence” marks the ’bands’ 4th full-length album, and it is clearly their most impressive and ambitious release to date. With a vast array of guest musicians, this release is one of THE Melodic Metal/Rock albums of the year, even though it was released in 2010 elsewhere, we pick the North American dates for our top 10 lists.
With this double album, Beto Vázquez has managed to put together a very eclectic mix of musicians and each of the 20 songs combines powerful melodies with outstanding vocals. While the guest musician list is huge, is not as impressive as the ones from bands/projects as Star One, Ayreon and Avantasia. Most of the guests in this album, with the exception of Timo Tolkki, might be considered from the ‘B list’ of Metal, but they are equally talented and are just a bit less known that the ones on the ‘A list’ of Metal. We particularly like this approach since it allows the listener to discover lesser known bands due to the performances of their vocalists.
After all the selling out the band has done over the years and Sharon doing songs with Armin Van Buuren, I personally wanted to listen to this album to see how the band would keep their Metal fans, but still pushed forward with a more ‘commercially friendly’ sound.
With the first single, “Faster”, the band was on way to a completely disastrous album in my opinion since this song is another ‘dance’ anthem with catchy electronic elements and chorus sections. The rest of the album however, is a very different story. While there are obviously ‘pop-ish’ elements in this release, there are also many more elements of “Mother Earth” and “The Silent Force”, than in the band’s last shit-sandwich “The Heart of Everything” release.
Today via Sonic Unyon we have the re-release of one of the best Progressive Death Metal releases to ever come from Canada. Augury’s “Concealed” debut album was highly acclaimed by critics and fans alike back in 2004 and with this re-release we get to enjoy this masterpiece with even better sound than before.
Augury is known for their very impressive Progressive Death Metal sound that easily rivals any big-name European band of the genre. In this re-release we have the original 10 tracks featured on the 2004 edition alongside with 2 tracks from their 2006 demo that landed them a deal with Nuclear Blast Records.
With the jaw-dropping line up of Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), vocalist Andre Matos (ex-Angra), drummer Uli Kusch (ex-Helloween), bassist Jari Kainulainen (ex-Stratovarius) and keyboardist Mikko Harkin (ex-Sonata Artica), Symfonia is ready to awe people with their impressive debut full-length “In Paradisum”.
After having an orgasm just by reading the line-up of this band now it’s time for us to talk about what really matters: the music. With Mr. Tolkki on the lead, you know that all your Power Metal needs will be met and even exceeded if you are not too picky. After the premature demise of Revolution Renaissance we counted the days until the next Timo Tolkki project surfaced.
After a three year break between albums, band’s mastermind Steve Williams returns with a completely different line-up since the band’s last release “Master of Illusion”. With “Blood Alliance” the band will surely make a statement and show they are ready to kick ass with catchy songs and brilliant instrumentation.
Featuring 10 tracks and 60 minutes of very well crafted songs, “Blood Alliance” features all the traditional Power Metal elements that fans of the genre love. This release is packed with catchy guitar melodies, blistering guitar solos, powerful vocals and overall excellent song writing. Steve Williams is back in full swing and with this new line-up, Power Quest sounds better than ever.
Today we have a very interesting (and little known) band from Norway with the name of Pictures of Pain. The band plays a very strange mix of Melodic Metal with Heavy and Death/Black Metal influences, yes, we know it sounds confusing, but they do an average job in creating a very diverse and original sound.
“The Reckoning” marks the band’s first full-length release and they managed to fill up this CD almost entirely with 67 minutes of music. Most of the band members have ‘other band’ experience, but the only name that rings any bells is Rune Fredriksen from Thundra and session for Evig Natt, needless to say, all musicians do a great job in this release.
Today we have a self-released Melodic Black Metal album that shows a very promising band under the hood but due to a sub-par production this EP undersells Imperial Conquest. While most Black Metal bands in the USA are trying to out-evil each other, the few good Melodic/Symphonic BM bands are making progress in the scene. Bands like Abigail Williams, Blood Stained Dusk, etc, are getting recognized for their musical aspects and it’s time to have another band take the spotlight, and such band might me Imperial Conquest, if they manage to properly record something.
Immediately after the nice intro, in the track “Where the Portals Intertwined”, the band goes on a full-on assault of blistering blast-beats, deranged vocals (in a good way), powerful riffing and nice keyboard atmospheres. However, immediately you can hear the wobbly drumming and a flat mix that greatly cripples the effect of the song. While this problem persists through the EP, you still get some very enjoyable parts.
If you’ve been following Infernal Masquerade for a while, you should know that we are one of the biggest Amorphis fans ever. When this release was announced we had big smiles in our heads since after seeing the band perform this classic songs with the ‘latest’ line-up and completely blowing us away, we wanted to have them on studio-quality recording and blast them all day long, since 7 out of the 13 songs in this album are some of our favorites of all time.
“Magic & Mayhem - Tales from the Early Years” features 12 songs (plus one bonus track) that have been re-recorded and somewhat re-arranged to fit the band’s current dynamic sound. These songs are taken from “The Karelian Isthmus”, “Tales from the Thousand Lakes”, and “Elegy” albums.
When we where thinking where the hell have we heard of this band before, it immediately hit us that the band had a song (“Black Leather Cult”) in the epic “The Holy Bible” compilation album of Holy Records back in 1996. Fast-forward almost 14 years and, several releases and a brief break up and we have Nighfall back with only one of the original members: Efthimis Karadimas, now only on vocals.
“Astron Black and the Thirty Tyrants” marks a very impressive release of this Greek band on Metal Blade Records. Since you start listening to this album, you immediately know that it will surely be an interesting experience. With a very interesting Melodic Black/Death Metal sound, the band quickly brings back of some of their older releases on Holy Records, because of the odd combination of powerful riffs, different vocals (clean and growls), and the elevated us of keyboards.
Celebrating the band’s 20 year anniversary we finally get a live DVD from Amorphis, one of the best Metal bands to come out of Finland. And not only do we get one show, we get two full shows in a lush DVD/CD package (in the Deluxe edition). The shows presented on this DVD are a 2009 show from Oulu, and their Summer Breeze 09 performance, clocking over 150 minutes of pure unadulterated Amorphis.
If you never seen Amorphis live, you will be quickly hooked on the amazing energy and chemistry they present on stage. Tomi Joutsen helped the band come back from the dead (for some fans) with their 2006 masterpiece Eclipse, after a lackluster “Far From the Sun” and their terrible previous singer Pasi Koskinen.