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B.IMPATIENT..'INTENSITY'

(Locomotive Records) Reviewed 5th December 2006

B.Impatient are a German 5 piece fronted by the rather good looking Brigitte Berg. And this band rocks. 'In My Head' kicks the cd off with an infectious chorus. Actually, you can't get the damn thing outta your head!! In-fact, all the tracks on this cd are so infectious, the album should come with a government health warning. My faves are 'Surrender' (a hit if ever I heard one), 'Distance', 'Fortune and Fate' and 'Too Much', although all the tracks on offer here (14 of them too) are worthy of a jolly good mention. Not a filler in sight! Following a tip off from within the industry, I was then able to track this cd down via the Amazon website. Glad I did. May be you should too. Using my favourite two words..."great stuff"!! 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

BAD POLLYANNA...'MONSTROUS CHILD'

(Factory Music Agency) Reviewed 6th August 2013

As their name suggests, Bad Pollyanna from the north of England enjoy combining beauty and darkness. Fronted by an eccentric and theatrical Rock Goddess who goes by the name of Olivia Hyde, the songs tell the story of an innocent young woman who falls victim to a crazed scientist's desperate attempts to reincarnate his lost love and, against her will, is transformed into a beautiful but deadly monster. As she looks at herself and her old life through new eyes, she can see how she had been conditioned by the world around her to be fearful and subservient. With rage and lust coursing through her powerful new body but her memories intact, she faces a brutal battle between holding on to her humanity and her desire to avenge a lifetime of powerlessness. The story is told through 10 tracks that draw influences from Anime/ Manga and gothic science fiction as well as cutting edge alternative rock and electronica. Before I heard this, I was a little hesitant as to what to expect, but this to be frank is damn good and I am rather impressed, the songs also maintaining a huge sense of melody throughout. Bad Pollyanna have three years of live work under their belt, sharing stages with The Birthday Massacre, Fearless Vampire Killers, Die So Fluid, Pulled Apart By Horses and Cruxshadows, as well as an acclaimed headline slot at Whitby Goth Festival. The pedigree is most certainly there, a link to their video is here, so now consider buying the album, due August 28th - well recommended..9/10 (Dave)

BAD POLLYANNA…’THE BROKEN TOYS’

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th October 2015

As their oxymoronic name suggests, Bad Pollyanna fronted by charismatic Olivia Hyde, celebrate both beauty and darkness. Fascinated by the human condition, their music and art explore love, life, sex and identity. 'The Broken Toys' is the band’s second album and is a collection of stories related to identity; how we are not the various-often abusive-voices in our heads; mental illness and above all, what it means to be human. There are ten catchy poppy/rocky tracks here that will hit the stores 1st December, although Bad Pollyanna do rock out with some ooommpphh too, ‘Hooks’ being one helluva track – “I’ve got my hooks inside you” Olivia sings - great riffs and a great chorus, while the closing number ‘I See You’ is an acoustic ballad. A good album all round then with wide range appeal, but it will certainly appeal to fans of In This Moment, Fearless Vampire Killers and New Years Day. 'The Broken Toys' will be made available exclusively through Pledge Music before it goes on general release. Fans can still contribute to the Pledge campaign until mid November, and get the album before anyone else. So click here and get involved. Furthermore, you can check out the band’s website at www.badpollyanna.com/index.html.. 8.75/10 (Dave)

BARE INFINITY..'ALWAYS FOREVER'

(Emotion Art Records). Reviewed 29th August 2009

Before I start the review I would like to get something off my chest. The following is taken from a typical review of symphonic metal, in this case Bare Infinity "….the ring is more full with players than a wrestling royal rumble match. Fundamentally, and thanks to plethora of bands, there's a redundant monotony to the music. Every new band thinks they're better and different than those before when actually they're only reinventing the well. The challenge for the reviewer (and listener) is to find what's novel or promising about the newcomer." How can you put everyone from Within Temptation to Trail of Tears in the same bag? It’s ridiculous, and yet reviewers still persists in lumping them together out of ignorance. Secondly, the number of male fronted metal bands outnumber female fronted ones at least a thousand to one, and yet no one says ‘yet another male fronted band’, it just shows prejudice. Now back to the review. Bare Instict sound like every other female fronted band….. only joking. This is the album Delain would have made if they had followed the more commercial and keyboard driven Lucidity. I am supprised that the guitarist Tomas wrote the songs, because they have more akin to bands like Delain, Nightwish and Lunatica where the keyboard player writes the music; the guitars provide the power, while the keyboards supply the riffs and melodies. The band has been going since 2003 started by Tomas. They have been through a lot of tribulations, but finally they got new lead singer Angel, a very beautiful lady with an equally beautiful voice, and were able to record this debut album. A suitably orchestral intro leads into 4 prime gothic symphonic metal cuts, before the heavier ‘The Crying Shore’, featuring some growling. By the way, anti growling fans don’t have to worry, they are used sparingly and effectively. This is counterpointed by the lovely ‘I Dream of You’. They pick up the pace again over the next 4 tracks, moving towards a more ‘April Rain’ type sound. The awesome ‘Thrill Neverending’ rounds the album off nicely. This album is readily available from various music stores listed on their Myspace site www.myspace.com/bareinfinity, but it is crying out for international distribution. This is a mature debut that can really take on the top European bands. 9/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

BARE INFINITY..'THE PASSAGE' EP

(Label to be announced) Reviewed 5th August 2011

Greek Metal Band Bare Infinity play a type of atmospheric power metal combining the lovely Angel's Power, Opera and Brutal Vocal talent, with dynamic and sorrowful melodies through the keyboards and guitars, that dominate the bands sound. Bare Infinity should be taking the genre by storm, and his EP to be frank offers up five tracks of prime top class Symphonic Metal, that showcase Angel's vocals to a tee, and prove to me that this band should be in the Premier League of this style of music. Totally awesome and I will not bother to go into each individual track as they are all good. However, I do currently have a fave, and that is the gorgeously melodic title track. This has to be bought when it appears on Aug 26th, with fans of Nightwish and Delain lapping this up. Check out their facebook. Although there is interest, this band has currently not got a label...I am shocked, they should have been snapped up by a major ages ago.!! 9/10 (Dave)

BATTLE BEAST...'BATTLE BEAST'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 12th June 2013

Let's rock! Finland's Battle Beast is back with a new album and a new vocalist offering the listener 14 tracks (on my copy anyway inc bonus) of in yer face melodic keyboard laced metal with great choruses. And like the band, new gal Noora Louhimo kicks ass as she roars on opener 'Let It Roar'. The thumping 'Out Of Control' is the next number with a chorus so hideously catchy it belies belief :) 'Out On The streets' is equally as good with further awesome numbers including the bouncy 'Neuromancer', the all out metal assault of 'Raven', the power ballad 'Into The Heart Of Danger' and the rather good 'Black Ninja'. Overall, this is a good release from this band, a metal party album if ever there was one - great stuff so go and get it! 8.75/10 (Dave)

BATTLEBEAST...'UNHOLY SAVIOUR'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 16th Feb 2015

With Dave taking it easy due to health issues (just a small matter of a minor stroke), I have been reviewing occasional albums to assist him and the crew, and this Battlebeast cd is yet another great record for me to review. This is the third from these Finnish monsters and this is right up my passageway (steady on lads). I just love this band and with this album they have given us 12 tracks of powerful metal incorporating extremely catchy choruses, epic heavy metal anthems, heavenly vocals and solos to die for, and let us not forget the astonishing lead vocals of Noora to complete this tasty little package. The opening foursome of 'Lionheart', 'Unholy Saviour', 'I Want The World...and Everything In It' and 'Madness' set the benchmark for this album, unadulterated epic heavy metal, and so so catchy to boot as well! And when the band slow it down, they do that so well too, just listen to numbers like the power balladry of 'Sea Of Dreams' and the orchestrated 'Angel Cry', yay and triple yay, very good indeed. There are further powerful and catchy tracks like 'Speed and Danger', the ultra commercial and electro influenced 'Touch In The Night' (that screams hit single) and closer 'Push It To The Limit' (digipak bonus) to wrap your ears around, and overall, this is very good so here is a word of advice, if you have not already done so, become an Unholy Saviour and buy it.. 9/10 (The Nugget)

BATTLELORE..'EVERNIGHT'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 9th January 2007

Battlelore's new offering (their 4th) 'Evernight' is a bombastic blast of epic fantasy metal. Featuring the gorgeous female vocals of Kaisa Jouhki, and the beasty vocals of Tomi Mykkanen, I would even say this cd is better than their previous release 'Third Age Of The Sun', which I at the time rated quite highly. 'Evernight' remains loyal to the heritage of J R R Tolkein, kicking off with the rather catchy 'House Of Heroes' which leads straight into the ultra heavy 'Oceans Elysium'. 'Summon The Wolves' carries on the excellent work which continues to album's end. Standout tracks are a plenty, while there is enough energy in this album to light up much of London. A good album it is too for all you metal freaks out there. It gets released in Europe on 23rd/26th February (depending where you are), so pre order it now! 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

BATTLELORE..'THE LAST ALLIANCE'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 5th October 2008

I would go as far as to say that this latest record from Finland's Battlelore, must rank as one of their best. 'The Last Alliance' continues the JR Tolkien inspired fantasy metal, featuring their trademark beauty and the beast sound, combining angelic female vocals courtesy of Kaisa Jouhki and the gruff vox from Tomi Mykkanen. Every track here from the moment you hit the play button is a highlight, including the slower ballad type 'Guardians'. Yep, this is another winner from this band, and if you are quick, there is a limited edition featuring a live dvd too. This release is on one of the bigger labels in the genre, so there is no excuse - just buy 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

BATTLELORE..'DOOMBOUND'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 11th January 2011

Tolkien's The Children of Húrin, and in particular its tragic hero Túrin Turambar, are the inspiration behind BATTLELORE's latest album. Indeed, 'Doombound' is the Finn's very first concept album, giving Túrin's experiences and adventures new life. The band's unmistakable brand of epic fantasy metal revels in sonorous melodies, mystic and mysterious sounds, and heavy Middle Earth inspired riffs. The elven-like vocals of Kaisa Jouhki meet the Uruk-Hai screams of front orc Tomi Mykkänen, transforming tracks such as 'Kärmessurma', 'Olden Gods', and 'Last of the Lords' into an integral soundtrack to Tolkien's world. And with further tracks like 'Bloodstained', the driving 'Iron of Death', the catchy and equally heavy 'Fate of the Betrayed' and the epic 8 minute plus title track, this album shows the Finns at their very best. Indeed this has to be the ideal starting point for a journey to Middle Earth! Released on 28th January and availabe from all the usual outlets. 9/10 (Dave)

BENEATH THE SILENCE…’MEANT FOR THE CLOUDS’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 20th March 2016

Denmark is producing some rather good female fronted bands. Forever Still springs to mind, then we have The Storm. Are they still going? Guy bands include Royal Hunt and Pretty Maids. Not bad going for a small country. Now add Beneath The Silence to that list. Fronted by Mette Hessellund Helwig Pedersen, they are a melodic metal band with a focus on heavy and groovy riffs, with a strong, melodic vocal. The band emphasizes a modern sound and a solid live show with an energetic edge. The 8th of April 2016 the band is releasing this their first EP, and rather good it is too. The music on this record could possibly be put into the same category as the aforementioned Forever Still, confirming how strong the Danish melodic metal scene is. Click here to access their Facebook. This is a consistent release throughout the 6 tracks, and is well recommended to all and sundry… 8.75/10 (Dave)

BEAUTIFUL THINGS..'DREAM WORLD'

(Summerside Records) Reviewed 29th April 2010

I have beautiful things to tell you, the pristine pop-rock debut from knee wobblingly gorgeous singer, songwriter and guitarist Dina D’Alessandro and her band, all the way from the City of the Angels (she has released two solo CD’s, but this is her first as Beautiful Things). The first thing that strikes you is the sheer quality of her song writing, she sounds like an established successful artist, such as Natalie Imbruglia, Dido, Alanis Morissette, and Sheryl Crow. The album starts with three stonewall classic pop-rock songs ‘Wonder Why’, ‘Hey Hey Hey’ and ‘Good To Me’ that ask for, no I’ll rephrase that, demand radio play, they are so catchy they stick like a limpet to your cranium, and won’t let go. She picks up the pace with the only cover; a version of Flock of Seagull’s (remember the hair style!) ‘Space Age Love Song’ which Dina makes her own, turning it into a cross between U2 and Simple Minds. The album continues in a similar vein with next three numbers, the moody driving ‘Back to Me Again’, the awesome ‘Astronaut’, and the toe tapping rocker ‘Everything’. Dina takes it down a touch for the next couple of tunes, The Band like Americana of title track ‘Dream World’ with it’s psychedelic pump organ, and the mellow, atmospheric ‘When the Night Comes Down’, with Dina’s The Edge style reverb laden guitar work. Finally we end on an upbeat but bittersweet note with the infectious ‘I Was Only Dreaming’. Forty minutes of pure pop-rock heaven, songs that will sound as good live as on the radio, a delightful pure voice, and a look that can stop traffic, Dina has all the ingredients for a massive future. And it’s easily available from CD Baby and her Myspace www.myspace.com/beautifulthingsmusic , so why not enter her Dream World. 9/10 (Reviewed by Phil Wooldridge).

CECILIE BECK…’HERE IS NOW’

(Sound Vision Lab) Reviewed 15th April 2016

I like something a little laid back at times, in turn helping one to escape the trials and tribulations of the world. Anyway, on January 14, 2016, Danish musician Cecilie Beck (now based in New York) released her debut album 'Here is Now' (produced by Seth Misterka and Razors Productions) at Rockwood Music Hall in New York, which led to a series of performances around the city. She then formed a band called Cecilie Beck & The Elements to accompany her sounds and visuals in performances. The band was named The Elements, because the songs draw strong references to the rhythms and patterns of nature's elements. The band consists of Cecilie Beck on lead vocals & piano, Onur Gül on bass, Elder Merchant on drums, Grace Hong on violin, and Alonzo Felix on guitar, melodica & back up vocals. As one may expect, do not expect blistering guitars, thumping drums or soaring keys on this album, instead listen to Cecilie's delicate and fragile voice enhancing the creative music on this 13 track album, the lyrics of which tackle gender, race and class among other issues. This is a gentle easy listening album that in turn cries “play me” on mainstream radio, although the track ‘The Pioneer’ is more of an upbeat number – catchy and radio friendly, while ‘Streets of New York’ has a foot tapping kinda reggae vibe. 'Here is Now' is an Experimental Folk album. The music is experimental for its genre defying compositions and the lyrics are in the tradition of folk music through their intimate story telling. Although I do appreciate that this album may not appeal to all the readers of this website, this is a record to chill too and forget the troubles of the world! Check out the video to the track ‘Butterflies’ here and Celcilie's website at www.ceciliebeck.com/, where you will find out that she is more than just a musician….8.5/10 (Dave)

ROBIN BECK..'THE GREAT ESCAPE'

(Fastball/Sony Music) Reviewed 15th February 2011

Robin is one a helluva artist whose debut album 'Sweet Talk' was released in 1979. It was nonetheless thanks to a certain jingle that Robin's name came to prominence in 1988 when the song 'First Time' (a Coca-Cola theme tune) became a huge hit worldwide. In fact, the song held the number one chart position for three weeks in the UK (that was when we had decent music in the UK charts!). This was indeed the springboard to a new start in her recording career, and in the interim she met and married James Christian, record producer and singer with the melodic rock band 'House of Lords'. Now in 2011 we have her latest offering 'The Great Escape', and this is an awesome slab of melodic hard rock - 11 original songs written by Robin Beck, Tommy Denander and James Christian and produced by James Christian'. There are highlights galore here including the melodic opener 'The One', the catchy 'That All Depends' which is a duet with Joe Lynn Turner and the ballad 'Baby I'm Not A Bitch'. Other great tunes include the title track, 'Don't Think He's Ever Coming Home'and closer 'Til The End of Time' (a duet with hubby!). This record is prime time AOR, so if you like your music melodic, the kinda stuff that was all the rage in the late 70s and into the 80's, more especially Stateside, then this is one good album. Great stuff and well worth spending your hard earned cash...8.75/10 (Dave)

ROBIN BECK...'UNDERNEATH'

(Cargo Records) Reviewed 23rd August 2013

Robin Beck is amazing. Not only does she continue to release awesome music, she is doing it at the ripe old age of 58, indeed she will be 59 years young in November, looking about 15 years younger I hasten to add!. She is also married to one of the Kings of Melodic Hard Rock, James Christian who is not only one of the awesome musicians on this hard rockin album, he also mixed and produced the package. Now then, I will not hide my love of Melodic Hard Rock, I grew up through the 60's and 70's, so I have a highly Melodic side to my musical tastes. All I will say is that this album is awesome - 11 tracks of hard rockin' delight to tickle those musical taste buds. Just listen to the openers, 'Wrecking Ball' and the amazingly catchy 'Ain't That Just Like Love' and that will confirm exactly what I am on about - astounding! And it continues with further hot rockers like 'Sprain', 'Perfect Storm' and 'Ya Can't Fight Love' , the ballads 'Underneath', 'Burnin' Me Down' and 'I Swear The Nights', coupled with the more poppy 'Catfight' and 'Check Your Attitude'. If you have a love of all things hard rocking and melodic, may I suggest you pick this album up. Corking stuff from this lass!!... 8.75/10 (Dave)

BEEF SUPREME...S/T EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 19th October 2012

Stoner rock band Beef Supreme hail from the southwest United States. Drawing from influences such as Black Sabbath, The Sword, Queens of the Stone Age and Fireball Ministry, Beef Supreme fuses retro-metal with desert rock. Indeed, this EP offers up four tracks of music that throws into the mix some doom, classic metal, sludgy guitar riffs, some heavy drums and let's not forget the rather cool melodic vocals from leading lady Niki BelGrande. I must say that this is rather good, some great musician ship here with my fave number being Amasia - great suitar solo to boot! Beef Supreme offers their music free via their website, so go check them out as I myself look forward to hearing more - 8/10 (Dave)

BEEF SUPREME...'ROYAL BITCH' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 8th April 2013

This band from from the SW of the USA plays no frills rock and metal music with balls and a fair share of melody. Fronted by the attractive Niki BelGrande, I reviewed an EP of theirs last October, and this is their latest offering that has dropped into Ravenheart Towers and continues where their previous effort left off - well if it ain't broken why fix it? However, after hearing the two EPS back to back, I think 'Royal Bitch' takes a slightly more melodic route, and the music sounds as if it has benefited from a better production. This is great music with great vocals by the young Niki, well backed up by the remaining members of the band. All four numbers here kick ass, with their influences taken from Grunge and Stoner Rock. This is highly infectious stuff nonetheless with bags of attitude, the fave track to my ears from this little foursome being the catchy and bouncy 'This Is My Money (And This Is My Mouth)' - great title. I like this little offering, and the band are well worth checking out here. The EP gets released June 4th so make a note in your diaries... 8.5/10 (Dave)

BELLA D...'THE CRYSTAL CEILING'

(Self Released/Drumageddon Productions) Reviewed 27th May 2016

Operatic vocalist and storyteller Christie Oakes formed the band Bella D to weave intricate tales of love and hate, of breaking away from the past and rebuilding the future. For this new album, Christie secured the help of drummer Charlie Zeleny (a.k.a. DRMAGDN), who has worked with bands such as Dream Theater, Blotted Science, and Behold the Arctopus. Zeleny has tackled various duties on Bella D, such as production, engineering and overall development. Although Oakes and Zeleny forged their musical friendship as far back as high school, Bella D marks the first time the duo have elected to join forces. The storyline told throughout the album concerns a female automaton designed for human companionship. This robot, known as Bella D, has a will of her own, one that soon proves too strong to remain in captivity. The record that was four years in the making, tells of Bella D’s struggles in a dystopian/steampunk environment, where she must surmount majestic obstacles and overcome imminent doom. To make the album come to life, Oakes and Zeleny secured standout session musicians known for working with artists like Taylor Swift, Blondie, Bill Joel, and Bruce Springsteen. Christie's vocals like the songs are damn awesome, and without going into the fine detail of each track, this is just to put it simply an awesome debut from this newcomer. Bombastic, anthemic, symphonic rock songs, soaring vocals, stax of melody, and to be frank the whole package is totally amazing - 'Battle On' is just one example from this amazing album. I whole heartedly recommend this record, website is here... 9/10 (Dave)

BELLADONNA..'THE NOIR ALBUM'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 14th April 2009

Personally invited by alt-rock producer supreme Sylvia Massy (Tool, System of a Down) to record their sophomore album in her awesome all-analog studio in California, USA, in a few weeks of incendiary sessions, Belladonna had commited on tape 11 astounding rock noir Luana (vox)/Dani (guitar)-penned songs, that erupt from the speakers with sheer energy. This record is an awesome slab of tuneful, catchy alternative rock songs, with the sensual vocals of Luana making an impression right from the start. The 11 tracks on 'The Noir Album' will have you screaming for more and hitting the repeat button at the end. Personal faves...well erm.. let's suggest for starters 'Alchemical Romance', 'Love Me Til I Die' and Phoenix Rising', and they are just the first three tracks! Oh, let's not forget forth track out, that's the single, 'Til Death Do Us Part'. Indeed, they are all good on this record and I am impressed with the quality on offer here. Just take a trip to cdbaby.com or iTunes and buy it. It is not metal, but it's cool and you will not be disappointed! 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

BELLADONNA..'AND THERE WAS LIGHT'

(Self Release) Reviewed 19th June 2011

Italians Belladonna's Rock Noir style continues with this their latest release. 'The Noir Album' was rather addictive, but the band has upped the ante with this little offering, that continues in the same style, and remains highly addictive as well. I very much like Luana's vocals that do give this band their distinctive sound. Some catchy ditties amongst the 20 tracks on offer, one of my faves being 'Stiletto' which I believe has caused a stir on one or two radio stations in the USA. I also found the awesomely atmospheric ballad 'I Feel Life' started to hammer it's way into my head after a couple of spins. Lovely stuff! There is a lot of good music on here, in the bands own kinda style, including 'Song For Tania' and 'Be My Star', these being other fave tunes on this record and as a consequence, for any good music lover, this album is sure worth getting your hands on. Pop onto cdbaby, see the light and make a purchase! A good effort by one of Europe's top unsigned bands... 8.5/10 (Dave)

BELLADONNA...'SHOOTING DICE WITH GOD'

(Self Release) Reviewed 4th April 2013

Italian quintet Belladonna have this uncanny knack of producing albums chock full of cracking tunes, not heavy songs by any means, but heavy enough to suit the appetite of the unsuspecting rock fan, while at the same time having enough crossover appeal to satisfy the mainstream, if that mainstream was to give them a chance. And it has to be said that their latest offering is no exception. 'Shooting Dice With God' gives us 11 tracks of corking music. 'All Is Vanity' is the opener, and you immediately know this is Belladonna by the awesome vocal style of Luana Caraffa. And a great way to start the album, a mid to high tempo number with the trademark catchy Belladonna chorus. And we have other catchy and up tempo numbers including 'Karma Warrior', the metal sounding 'Ishtar Blues', the rather good (and one of my faves from the album) 'In My Demon's Name' and 'Primal Dream' (another fave). Ballads are well represented on the cd and they include 'Abduction', the acoustic based 'If I Was God' and 'Wonderlust'. 'Multiverse Love' is epic and bombastic in the true sense of the word, while closer and the wonderfully titled 'I Set My Controls To Overdrive' offers up a foot tapping way to end the cd. This album is damn good and will be well worth checking out when it gets released on April 18th, although it can be purchased from HERE now. Great stuff.. 9/10 (Dave)

BELLADONNA…’THE ORCHESTRAL ALBUM’

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th March 2016

Italian Noir Rockers Belladonna has just released this cd, 'The Orchestral Album', a selection of 10 songs cherry-picked from their catalogue, the numbers being completely re-arranged and recorded with a concert orchestra, which features many of Ennio Morricone's regular orchestral players. This album combines BELLADONNA's noir and passionate tones with Kazakh arranger/conductor Angelina Yershova's luscious and heart-blowing orchestrations, to create a deeply emotional journey and to be perfectly frank, I just love it. I have noticed that quite a few bands within the metal genre are now beginning to incorporate orchestral elements within their compositions, but Belladonna’s style of music is perfectly suited to such arrangements. There are some epic numbers here including the awesomely beautiful and epic ‘Wonderlust’, the quirky ‘Beyond The Realms Of Reason’, the orchestral ‘Morpheus Rising’, and the grandiose closer ‘Morpheus’. Luana Caraffa’s voice is captivating which in association with her awesome colleagues within the band puts them in a league of their own. To put it simply, this album is simply stunning and beautiful, check out more info here….. 9.5/10 (Dave)

BELLUSIRA…’THE HEALING’

(Pavement Music) Reviewed 25th November 2015

After achieving notable status in their homeland, Australian rock outfit Bellusira chose to relocate to Los Angeles and continue in their quest for world wide domination, pushing to get their music to a wider international audience. Since landing in the United States with their feet firmly planted on the ground, the band went straight to work on their second album ‘The Healing’, which has been recorded and produced by both Dan Whittemore (Paramore, Macklemore, NE-YO) and Ulrich Wild (White Zombie, Pantera, Deftones), and mixed by Dan Whittemore. With 11 tracks on this recording that was released in October, Bellusira kicks major ass and deserves to be up there among the best new international rock bands on the planet. They've got a fresh take on songwriting that makes you want to hear more and a killer lead vocalist in Crystal Ignite. It is another step up with the band pushing their song writing skills to the limits and getting every ounce of emotion out and onto this record. Well worth checking out for fans of kick ass melodic alternative rock/metal… 8.75/10 (Katie McIntyre)

BEL O KAN..'BIRTH OF A QUEEN'

(Brennus Music) Reviewed 25th January 2010

I was saying in my review of Wildpath that France is leading the World in the production of metal bands, well, guess where Bel O Kan come from? This symphonic metal septet were founded back in 2001 and after various line-up changes, trials and tribulations, they have now unleashed their debut CD on Brennus, who are doing a fantastic job in promoting French metal (e.g. Yotangor & Wildpath, etc.). Here you get two alluring blondes for the price of one, lead singer Sarah Liodenot with her pure folkish semi-operatic voice, and Marion Gibello on backing vocals. They get their name from the anthill (no, not the mob in Wacky Races) in Bernard Werber’s Les Fourmis trilogy about a colony of ants, hence the ant motif on the superb cover art (look closely, it is very clever), and no, don’t panic, Adam and his dandy highwaymen are nowhere to be seen. I love the way many French bands of all types introduce a folk element into their music, perhaps it is the strong Celtic link with Brittany, it certainly gives them a unique and distinctive sound and style, that lightness of touch that is so opposite of the Wagnerian Germanic bands. After the suitable grand orchestral ‘ant’ro ‘Birth of a Queen’ there follows a series of up-tempo symphonic semi-power-metalish ‘ant’hems, my favourites include the f’ant’astic ‘Utopia’, which reminds me of early melodic Epica, the fr’ant’ic rocker ‘Runaway’, and the jolly sea sh’ant’y ‘Blowing the Wind’. Vocally, Sarah is at her best when she uses vibrato and does not strain, and more backing vocals would have helped her and the music. That aside, and I do not want to make a mountain out of an anthill, this is a mighty fine first effort, full of great songs and musicianship, with an excellent contribution from Nico Diplanche on keys. Fans of the lighter side of symphonic power and rock metal should scuttle along to http://www.brennus-music.com/boutique/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=&products_id=5248 and gather up a copy. 8.5/10. (Reviewed by Phil)

BEL O KAN...'THOUSANDS OF CONQUERORS'

(Brennus) Reviewed 21st August 2013

I reviewed the début by this French combo a few years ago, 2009's 'Birth of a Queen', it was a terrific album of folk tinged symphonic metal, slightly let down by weak vocals. Now they have a new singer, Carole Eyraud, and have subtlety changed their style, more power and less folk, in the grand tradition of French speedy symphonic bands like Kerion, Fairyland and Wildpath, but with more than a hint of Whyzdom. Carole has a light semi-operatic voice, in the same vein as Kerion's singer Flora Spinelli who appears as a guest on 'Requiem', she hasn't got the strongest of voices, but she is a marked improvement, and she is wonderfully support by their own Conquers Choir. By the way, their curious name comes from the kingdom of the ants in Bernard Werber's trilogy 'Les Fourmis' (the Ants). The template is set by the stomping opener 'A Gothic Girl', with the sound and orchestrations by the band suitably massive, as they then stampede their way through the first four stonking songs until the building ballad Gorlebella, based on the work of the 'Bard of Brittany' Anatole le Braz, allows us to rest our sword arms. 'Independence' launches the charge again through the next quartet, including the mighty 'Power of the Throne', and the terrific catchy 'The Price to Pay', and its rounded off by the dramatic eastern flavoured 'Battlefield' . The sound and orchestrations by the band are suitably massive. Bel O Kan have produced a rousing full throttle monster anthology of anthems all beautifully wrapped in a digipak that is sure to to please aficionados of symphonic power metal. Follow the trail of ants to here, an all conquering 8.75/10 (Phil)

BENEDICTUM..'DOMINION'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 4th January 2011

Like clouds forming on the horizon, the impending storm and thunder of USA Metal band Benedictum once again loom before us, with the release of their 3rd album. Fronted by Veronica Freeman - whose unique and powerful style has been called one of the truly most extraordinary voices in Metal, this 63 minute + album contains an absolute musical journey with powerful riffs, well thought out lyrics and truly amazing musicianship. To be frank, this is some seriously heavy stuff from the Frontiers Stable, and from the moment the title track and opener powers it's way out of the speakers, you cannot help but crank it up and blow your mind! Adding to the already explosive sound are guest appearances by Jeff Pilson, Craig Goldy and none other than Rudy Sarzo on the fist pumping track 'Bang'. The powerful progressive sounding 'Epsilon' and closer 'Overture/The Temples of Syrinx' are epic 8+ minute tracks, while 'Seer', 'Prodigal Son' and the mid paced melodic 'Loud Silence' are amongst my faves. Buy this record when it hits the stores on Feb 18th and become a “Victim of Benedictum”! And with Grammy Award winning producer Ryan Greene (Megadeth, 5, MXPX, NOFX) at the helm, you won't regret it! A hard rockin' 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

BENEDICTUM...'OBEY'

(Frontiers) Reviewed 25th November 2013

Following in the footsteps of such legendary bands as Warrior, Rough Cutt and Psychotic Waltz, BENEDICTUM, with roots in San Diego, California, are truly mighty ambassadors in the world of Heavy Metal. Invoking power reminiscent of early Rainbow, the definitive sound of Savatage, and a nod to all the Gods of Heavy Metal, BENEDICTUM unleashes a stylish, epic brand of Metal on all fronts. Aggressive riffs, fierce rhythms, strong melodies, shredding leads and delicate textures converge at the crossroads where tradition and 21st century innovation merge. Veronica Freeman's vocal gymnastics are the pit-bull on the pant leg of heavy metal and on this performance, will no doubt remain so for years to come. Having now signed with Frontiers Records, the band throw at us 12 tracks of in yer face heavy metal coupled with epic melodies and awesome musicianship that will shred your ear drums and leave you begging for more! And there is the ballad, the massive sounding 'Cry' feat Tony Martin! What more can I say? Obey what we say here at Ravenheart and buy - this deserves your utmost attention, a screaming 8.5/10 (Aimee)

BENIGHTED SOUL..'START FROM SCRATCH'

(Savatage Records/Seasons of Mist)

What with Souls of Diotima and Benighted Soul, I'm turning into a soul music fan. I hasten to add, before you run off in horror, that this French band's style on their début album is best described as early Epica / later Nightwish / Anthropia progressive symphonic metal with occasional forays into later Epica. Vivacious Géraldine "Jay" Gadaut has a magnificent semi operatic voice that verges on operatic while the growls by guitarist Jérémie "James" Heyms are used sparingly and kept deep, melodic and low in the mix, they add to the drama without becoming dominant or detracting from the music. Nearly all the songs reach epic proportions, with eleven tunes weighing in at a whopping 70 minutes. The tracks tend to alternate between between fast and furious numbers and more majestic stately songs, but they all have a variety of moods and tempos ranging from quiet and melodic to heavy and thrashing creating a diverse and balanced listening experience. The theme behind the lyrics is the story of the little doll Anesidora, pictured on the cover, and the travails on her journey into adulthood. There is a touch of madness about many of the songs, 'Edge of Sanity' being a perfect example, with a recurring surrealist circus/theatre ambiance to fit in with the doll theme, not as overt as Dakrya, but done far more subtly. Production is rich, powerful and well balanced with superb keyboard and guitar work from Flavien "Flav" Morel and James respectively. There's not a weak tune in sight, but personal faves include the awesome 'Fallin' in Sin', the explosive 'Ticking Time Bomb' (excellent live video on Female Voices blog, recorded for French TV), the charging title track 'Start From Scratch', and the colossal closing track 'No Warning Sign'. This release should see the band mount an assault on the premier league of symphonic metal bands, everything about it smells of quality, and far from starting from scratch they sound like an experienced well honed professional unit. You can find them at Benighted Soul Website, and contrary to their name, I award them an enlightened score of 9/10 (Phil)

BENIGHTED SOUL…’KENOTIC’

(Savage Productions/Seasons of Mist) Reviewed 22nd November 2015

Benighted Soul fronted by Géraldine Gadaut, is a Metal band from France. At the crossroads of Rock, Progressive Metal and Symphonic Metal, the band's music creates the perfect alchemy between effectiveness of melodies, complexity of compositions and power of riffs. This concept album, released October 27, 2014 and now re-released in digital version (with a bonus), speaks of myths and religions that have guided men through the ages. The writings of modern religions, like ancient myth, all meet the same universal questions, seek and invariably draw the same story in different entries. Each step, each chapter of this great history was set to music to create the album 'Kenotic'. This re issue gives us 14 tracks of the aforementioned style of music, the original pressing released last year having 12 I believe. Although no one track really jumps out and grabs you, I do have fave tracks like the melodic, pounding and heavily orchestrated ‘Only Make Believe’, the heavy and blistering ‘The Shallow and The Deep’ and the Epica inspired ‘Let You Win‘. But overall, this is an impressive and consistently good release, and it is a grower… 8.5/10 (Dave)

BERLINER BOMBEN CHOR..'WITH GREETINGS FROM HELL'

(Danse Macabre) Reviewed 3rd January 2011

With a name that translates as Berlin Bomber Choir and a logo of a three engined bomber you can tell that these German ain't no shrinking violets (historical note, there were no three engine bombers, the Luftwaffe only had medium twin engined bombers unlike the allies heavy four engined Lancaster and Flying Fortress). They produce 'goth'n'roll' that sounds like Billy Idol gone metal, mixed with some Damned, Stranglers, Clash and Ravenland. Lead singer Ilja Muromez has a fantastic deep gothic voice, a mix of Dave Vanian, Paul Roberts, JJ Burnel, Billy Idol and Dewindson Wolfheart. Playing the angel to his demon is Fräulein D, she even wears a pair of wings on stage, although she might really have wings, but that's unlikely (most lyrics in English). You get 12 incendiary rockers that come at you fast and furious, battering you around the ears and then scarpering pronto. Production is superb, they might draw their inspiration from bands of the past, but they sound 21st century. Billy Idol punk trash anthems like 'Rebel Angel No. 1' (video on Female Voices Blog) and 'One Million Souls', gothic nightmares like 'Danzig On My Back' and 'Cold Blood', and sleazy rock'n'rollers like 'Black Snake' and 'Blackest of the Black', where Fräulein D reveals she's really no angel. Play it loud, play it dirty and scare the poo out the neighbours. Available from their hellhole at http://shop.bombenchor.de/, a blackest of the black 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil).

BERSERKER...'DARK WORLDS COLLIDE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 1st May 2015

Berserker is a symphonic Gothic band from Lithuania with Polish roots. But no matter where they come from, this album has hit the top of the "awesome factor" scale. My word, can it get much better than this? Leading lady Agnieška Volček has more of a Rock vocal style, certainly not from the operatic school of voice, but what she does she does damn well, being ably backed up by a band of extremely good musicians. The band do throw into the metal melting pot some deathy growls but these are not overdone. There are also subtle folky elements using the flute too, something that seems to be creeping into metal music these days, this being a very positive element by the way! I am feeling inclined not to list any individual tracks here as they are all extremely good, but I do rather like track 4 being the pounding and extremely melodic 'Madness Machine', the power ballad, the wonderful 'Wolf' (frikin' excellent) and the totally stomping sound of 'Viking Ship'! Overall across the 9 tracks, this is a very very good release full to the brim of excellent music and is a must buy as far as I am concerned. Take a peek at http://berserker.lt and gauge your own opinions, but we here strongly recommend this to all and sundry... 9.75/10 (The Nugget)

BESEECH...'MY DARKNESS, DARKNESS'

(Despotz Records) Reviewed 25th January 2016

In October 2015 Beseech signed a new world wide record deal with Swedish label Despotz Records. As a consequence and after a decade out of the spotlight, the Swedish Goth Metallers will return with this, their new album, set to be released 4th March 2016. Casting our eyes back, in 2003 founding member Klas Bohlin (guitar) decided to leave Beseech to focus on other musical challenges... the “old” era of Beseech was put to rest. In the summer of 2012 the band was brought back to life again by original members, Klas Bohlin (vocals) and Robert Vintervind (guitar). After some successful jams their new material sounded more Beseech than ever, but in a new mature way. Shortly after, Manne Engström (guitar) re-joined the band and Beseech entered the “classic Beseech studio”, StudioMega/Fascination Street during the fall of 2012 to figure out the new direction of the band. The new direction can be described as a continuation of their critically acclaimed album 'Souls Highway' from 2002, but with a modern twist and a vintage oriented sound, with Angelina Sahlgren Söder now giving us the female vocals. Indeed, on the eleven awesome and very catchy tracks here, this is Beseech as only Beseech can sound - melodic and hideously catchy, and those vocals from Klas, so cool and laidback, ably assisted by Angelina. All the cuts here are standout and if you are a fan of this band, then this album will be a must buy. If you have not heard Beseech before, get this album - totally awesome…. 9/10 (Dave)

BETO VAZQUEZ INFINITY..'EXISTENCE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 19th December 2010

Power metals answer to Tobias Sammet and Arjen Lucassen is back with a double album packed with 20 guest stars. However unlike those other projects this is not a concept album and each singer gets a song all to themselves. Joining main singer Jessica Lehto (Factory of Dreams) are Dusk (Crysalys), Gaby Koss (ex Haggard), Lady Angellyca (Forever Slave), Melissa Ferlaak (Echoterra), Mikki Straatsma (Viveynne), Simone Christinat (Legenda Aurea), Slava Popova (Operatika), and Sonya Scarlet (Theatres Des Vampires), phew! His first album released back in 2001 was very light and symphonic and is one of my favourite albums of all time, since then he has moved towards heavier power metal sound. Sonja sings the early Nightwish type number 'Council of My Dreams, a rather unusual combination with her dark seductive gothic tones. Power metal opera divas Slava and Melissa are on far more familiar ground with their songs, 'Future City' and 'Epic Travel' respectively, and Gaby gets the suitably medieval folk tinged number 'Ghost of Time'. 'Celestial Meeting' is the most symphonic and melodic song on the album and features the unique, wondrous, and tremulous semi operatic voice of Mikki, by far the stand out track and best vocal performance. Lady Angellyca's song 'Dark Night' has a pretty melody but but the guitars and drums are too loud and heavy, her soft sweet voice gets a bit lost, and the talking bit is a mess. 'Eyes of Destiny' with Dusk gets a bit hysterical, like a power metal Diablo Swing Orchestra, I had to grit my teeth at one point. Jessica is one of the main cast and gets four numbers that suit her Tarja esque voice, the pick being the title track 'Infinity'. A couple of songs feature big butch hairy men screaming, with Christian Bertoncelli on 'Tonight' sounding like he's got his wotsits trapped in his zip. The other highlight is the mean moody and magnificent bonus track 'To Live For The King' with tenor Darlo Schmunk. There are a few rather ordinary songs, a touch of pruning wouldn't go amiss, and there is a lot of umpah double peddling, sometimes when it's not needed. It is easy to set your expectations too high with this amount of talent on display, but despite the few faults this is still a fine traditional power metal album. The digipack is available from their website http://www.betovazquezinfinity.com.ar/, and a jewel case version is being released around the world, an infinite 8/10 (Reviewed by Phil).

BETWEEN FALLS...'INTIMATE GATEWAY'

(Self Release) Reviewed 10th September 2014

Between Falls is an American sounding Alternative Rock band from Tel Aviv. Their short history started when Victor Zi, songwriter and guitarist, gathered with his three friends, Grace M (Mogzamov) (female vocals), Simon Shocket (male vocals) and Idan Shinberg (Bass), and together they decided to listen to their muse and set on a new musical journey, naming the project Between Falls. Eyal Bar-On (drums) and Yoel Genin (lead guitars) joined later on. Utilising both male and female vocals, the band mold together post Grunge and Nu-Metal, and when Simon takes the Mic stand, he sounds occasionally like Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam fame) and Alex Band of The Calling. Grace meanwhile has her own vocal style, but does sound a little like Amy Lee on tracks like 'Remembering You'. The acoustic led ballad 'Paper and Pen' with Grace at the Mic is rather nice too. This record to be totally honest is rather good, very well produced and should go down a storm in the States. Their Facebook can be found here ... 8.5/10 (Dave)