Burning Point – Burning Point
A long time fixture on the melodic Eurometal scene, Finland’s Burning Point has released a bevy of top notch melodic power metal over the years, all with band founder and guitarist Pete Ahonen also doing double duty as vocalist. The band put out a new self-titled release here to sort of signify a whole new start for the band of sorts as they welcome a new vocalist to take over full time mic duties in former Battle Beast crooner Nitte Valo. This album is half new tracks and half re-recorded BP classics with the new vocals by the very talented Nitte doing what she does best! A bold move to be sure to switch gears this far in and become female fronted, but honestly I think the daring attempt has done well as her voice is totally suited to their style of play! The new tracks stack up well with the earlier ones here so there is no real change musically as far as direction goes, in fact if anything I think her arrival has revitalized the band a bit. Maybe now that Pete is able to fully focus on his guitarwork and let her do what she does, it has given this tried and true metal force a whole new outlook and that outlook is downright glowing! Highly recommended!
Choice Tracks – In The Shadows, Heart Of Gold, Dawn Of The Ancient War, All The Madness, I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire)
Crystal Ball – LifeRider
8 albums into their career and Crystal Ball just seem to be picking up momentum. A lengthy career that has seen them become one of the heavy hitters in the melodic metal game in Europe and seen them share stages with a literal who’s who of hard rock and metal bands. Guitarist and founder Scott Leach, along with drummer Marcel Sardella keeps the ship sailing straight and forging forward. After the mighty release Dawnbreaker in 2013 which saw the band soaring to new heights, they are at it again with a very ambitious album called LifeRider. Leading off with a very strong track such as Eye To Eye (featuring the very talented Noora Louhimo of Battle Beast), the band shows that they are still on top of their game. Vocalist Steven Mageney has done a great job with the vocals here, combining a nice mixture of power and emotion in his singing, with a very mid level anthemic power feel to his vocals. This Swiss band really has a strong German feel to their overall sound and style, thinking a bit Running Wild if on a bit more melodic timbre. Balls Of Steel sounds like something off of a NWOBHM stound yet in some ways Steven sounds a bit like UDO if he sang in a more low key manor. Either way it all works nicely for the band. The songs have a nice mixture of bite and melody which makes them standout and memorable. The album is a very solid 12 tracks (plus a few bonus tracks on the digipack). Either way you don’t need a Crystal Ball to see that these guys are the real deal!
Choice Tracks – Eye To Eye, Balls Of Steel, Gods Of Rock, Hold Your Flag, Antidote, Sign Of The Southern Cross
Here we have the debut of Within Silence (previously known as Rightdoor – a good decision to change the name if ever there was one), and we have a very well done blast of melodic metal. Sonata Arctica keep coming to mind every time I listen to this release and that is not a bad thing as they have really established themselves in the community as a very technically proficient and reliable franchise on the scene. Stratovarius is indeed another band that I think of here as well. The song writing is very solid overall and the band has a lot of potential. Gallery Of Life is a very solid debut album, however I am not quite sure there is enough on this one to help distinguish them from the masses of other bands that play a similar vein of melodic metal. The metal scene worldwide is more crowded than ever and about a dozen new bands pop up on the radar any given day so it is very difficult for a new band to really establish themselves. There is no doubt these guys have the talent and chops to do that, and this album is a very good first step for them to set up shop and get their foot in the door (the right door?), but it is just that, a first step. They have started their way on the path, now let’s enjoy the ride and see where it takes them!
Choice Tracks – Emptiness Of Night, The Last Drop Of Blood, Judgement Day, Elegy Of Doom
I have been keeping close tabs on Artizan now for a number of years and have watched them slowly develop. With each album they put out I saw signs of some really good to great stuff, but essentially felt it came below the mark each time. Each album grew in strength and creativity but never quite blew me away. Now I got the chance to see if the third time is the charm and I must say that with a resounding yes, they have definitely arrived! The music hear is a bit heavier and a bit more progressive feeling at the same time, telling a nice story while it did so. This is still not a perfect release and the band has a bit further to go before they really hit the mark, though with this album I can see that the potential for them to reach that level is most definitely there. Each track on here has a bit of its own story to tell and nothing has the stink of filler to it, though a few tracks seem to be stronger than others, which is not unusual. I also feel that with a surprising, though solid cover (and a limited edition to boot) and a few short intros padding the track count that this one runs just a bit on the short side of truly new material. One more clutch track would’ve probably helped my final thoughts. Either way, a very solid effort and a worthy addition to the power metal scene!
Choice Tracks – The Cleansing, Summon The Gods, Wardens Of The New World, Supernova
With the vastly talented European standouts and workaholics Mat Sinner and Magnus Karlsson doing the lion’s share of the songwriting duties and the incredibly gifted talents of vocalists Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville leading the way, Kiske/Somerville is back with their second album of vocal dueling. It is always fresh to see a gifted female vocalist such as Somerville paired up with a male vocalist who actually sings CLEAN vocals! No beauty and the beast here, just one classy and classic sounding track after another. Sure Kiske is all over the CD but this is definitely not Helloween, nor is it Sinner or Primal Fear or any of the heavy, chunky power metal bands, but what we do have is some incredible song arrangements that really do a wonderful job of showcasing the talents of both gifted vocalists. This may be a turn off to the power mongers out there as it is much softer, yet with its own style of subtle power lying underneath! This has wide range appeal to anyone who is into the symphonic and melodic side of the spectrum as well as any who really love some marvelous technical musical wizardry. If you just want to bang your head and hit the pit, you probably wouldn’t be reading this review anyway. As for the rest of you, it’s time to Rise Up!
Choice Tracks – Rising Up, City Of Heroes, Open Your Eyes, Salvation, Lights Out, Right Now
Red Rose has always been a nice shot in the arm for me with their insanely melodic vocalizations and beautiful songwriting. Admittedly they won’t appeal to everyone as they are definitely on the softer side of the metal spectrum, no epic power metal or thrash here, but definitely a heavier Gotthard or Swedish melodic metal vibe with a truly gifted vocalist. This particular release is a four track EP which is appropriately named to celebrate the band’s fifth anniversary. You get four tracks here that sometimes border on AOR and hard rock with a track like At The Crossroad, though they are at their best with the mid tempo numbers such as Never Surrender. Definitely worth checking out if you like a bit of melody with your metal, fans of symphonic metal, hard rock, etc etc etc. A very enjoyasble, if albeit short bit of metal here. Happy Anniversary Red Rose, may there be many more!!
Choice Tracks – Never Surrender, Make You Believe, Everything Can Change
Temperance is a melodic metal band from Italy that feature a somewhat symphonic feel to the music. There is some extreme vocals on here, though it is mostly to offset and accent the incredibly talented vocals of Chiara Tricario, who’s range is pretty incredible! She is strongest at the mid ranges though she excels at virtually ever vocal style she showcases here from rocker to symphonic, quasi-operatic. Normally I am not a huge fan of beauty and the beast type vocals, as they are done so often these days, but they are not excessive here and really work well with the music. Speaking of the music, the songwriting is very well written with some vary epic sounding and ambitious tracks that for the most part work rather well together! From the more straight up melodic rockers to the symphonic over the top tracks, there is something for everybody on here! Temperance have indeed shown that their style and substance are both quite Limitless!
Choice Tracks – Mr. White, Me Myself & I, Side By Side, Burning, Stay
I am leery when it comes to checking out symphonic bands as so many of them sound very similar it seems in an oversaturated way. They start out fine but the nature of the music often causes the whole thing to get boring by the time the final notes are played out. In order to keep the listener engaged there needs to be enough tempo changes and variety involved in the music. This is my first go round with Illuminata so I am not sure what the previous albums this ambitious Austrian unit entailed, but what we have here is some masterful musicians putting out some very epic and sweeping music. This album is rife with big production and has a very larger than life feel to it. You can tell that a lot of effort was put in to the album and the whole feel is that of a very big animated movie soundtrack, with a bit of a heavier overall sound. I am not a really big fan of overly symphonic female vocals as they tend to get a bit too far into the all-out operatic sound, but thankfully and refreshingly Katarzyna’s vocals are varied throughout and though she does hit the operatic vibe at times, she mixes it up throughout the whole CD and has a bit of an energy and liveliness in her voice that makes her stick out from the crowd, part of this is owed to the song-writing as the music never really gets boring, as the slow parts are interspersed nicely and it keeps you almost guessing as to what comes next! Another one of those progressive and bolsterous pieces that needs to be explored over and over to catch the missed bits! Definitely a story worth investing in!
Choice Tracks – Eternity Of Today, Arbitrary Asylum, Danse Macabre, The Phantom Rickshaw, The Brass Ring
There has been a decided influx of what was old is new again and that really strikes home with the classic NWOBHM movement of yore as so many of those bands from back in the day that never really seemed to find their niche in the oversaturated English landscape fell to the wayside, albeit from either band friction, label issues or outside forces or other reasons. Many of them were vastly talented bands that just didn’t get their rightful break or just dues. Now many years later a new wave has started and some really killer music is finally seeing the light of day. Due to another incarnation of the band taking up the Deep Machine moniker, this group has taken up the mantle of The Deep, and as such they are definitely one of those bands that need to be welcomed back with open arms. Premonition is an incredible blitz of NWOBHM done the way it should be. It is definitely on the more melodic side of the spectrum here and not dissimilar to countrymates in Satan, Salem UK and Weapon UK in style and substance! The entire album from end to end is very accessible hard rock and proto metal (with even a smattering of AOR). There isn’t a single filler track on here (is it me or does You Take My Breath Away sound a bit like Dynasty era Kiss …and I say that as a compliment actually as I do love that album…it’s a lot of fun). Every single track on this album could easily be spun on the radio and all it takes is one listen through to hook the listener in. I know I am hooked!! My Premoniton is that The Deep will be making waves across the UK and Europe very shortly!!
Choice Tracks – The Rider, You Take My Breath Away, Nightstalker, Out Of Touch, All I Want, Spellbound (basically all of ‘em!)
True Metal Lives
The Voice Of The Underground