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Ravenheart Archives: Archived

Reviews A Cont (2)

ALHENA..EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st February 2012

Alhena was formed in January 2010 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. It was a realisation of passions for making own music visions by people who met shortly after leaving previous bands. Alhena was formed by Piotr Kowalski (keyboard), Tomasz Bogulski (guitar), Piotr Grugel (drums) and Robert Puk (bass), who by the way was replaced by Tadeusz Kołecki in the middle of 2010. After a few months of looking for a vocalist, Katarzyna Dziemianowicz became a member of the group. After changing bass guitarists, the group began intensive work on composing material. It resulted in an EP, on which five tracks showed up and those compositions are showcased here. And Alhena is another band that if given the right exposure, could go well within the genre. The music on offer here mixes, rock and metal, with a little gothic and plenty of progressive, and I think typifies the music coming out of Poland at the moment. There are no real verse - chorus moments here, as a consequence, this is what I would call thinking person's music. Katarzyna has the type of voice that one moment sounds angelic, and the next she belts it out in a true Rock fashion. Opener 'Trial' is a Progressive number, while 'Better' maintains the Progressive elements. 'You Lost Me' is an in yer face ballad that starts with piano and voice, before the full band kicks in, one of my fave tracks on the EP, this one. 'Breath' is a slow progressive number, while 'Nemesis' is an instrumental that closes the album. I suppose if you think Dying Passion and perhaps to an extent Autumn, that may be will give you a rough idea where this band is going, although punters will no doubt draw their own conclusions. The band can be checked out here. A recommended 8.5/10 (Dave)

ALIA TEMPORA...'DIGITAL CUBE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 14th December 2015

Alia Tempora's album DIGITAL CUBE is their debut offering to the masses, and as the title may suggest to some of you does have electro influences, although by and large a Metal album. And it is a very good record from this band that ply their trade from the Czech Republic. Fronted by the attractive and angelic vocals of Marketa Morakova, who reminds me a little of Liv Kristine in the vocals department, there is some catchy and melodic music to be found on this 12 track CD. The opening trio of 'Connected', 'Digital Cube' and 'Frozen' set the benchmark for this magical piece of work. The pace drops slightly on the track 'Far and Forgotten', but generally, this album is tunefully up tempo, with the highlight for me being the Symphonic version of the number 'Mockingjay', that does feature the talents of Timo Somers from Delain - this being an alternative version of the track that appears earlier in the album. Alia Tempora I understand call this New Age Metal, but whatever you call it, it is very good - Metal with a dose of electro! Love it! Check them out - here...9/10 (Katie McIntyre)

ALICE SWEET ALICE..'FIRST LIGHT'

(Cauldron Soundwerx) Reviewed 5th September 2008

New England based Scott Martinez's band Alice Sweet Alice have been compared to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Doors for their hard-hitting rock and psychedelic tendencies, and Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine for their inspired use of the darkwave sonic spectrum. ASA's music is complex, yet intricately textured with dark overtones that synthesize their European and American influences, generating a sound which is both innovative and trademark. Songs vary from the serene to turbulent, with their use of acoustics, samples, electric guitar effects, and synth-composition. ASA’s music is enhanced with powerful presentations that combine both theater and raw energy. They are strictly speaking not Female fronted, but Ali Kat (keys and Synths) is in the band, and she does share vocal duties on occasion with Scott Martinez, two tracks actually fronted by Ali too. And my admiration goes to Scott for releasing this cd on his own label, after some let downs with Renaissance Records. 'First Light' is not bad...not bad at all (great production too), and I myself can hear touches of Pink Floyd as mentioned above, and even the Moody Blues in places too. My fave tracks are the opener 'Alone', 'With You, With Me', 'Blood Roses', 'What A Lonely Day' (great vox by Ali on this one), 'Geraldine' and the haunting 'Fallen Angel' (also sung by Ali). A cool release! 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

ALICE SWEET ALICE..''MOLOKO & ULTRAVIOLENCE'

(Cauldren Soundwerx) Reviewed 5th May 2009

Alice Sweet Alice (ASA) are newly based in Kansas City, and specialise in Psychogothic Darkwave. I admire musicians that work really hard and are commited to their cause and ASA are one such band. Fronted by Scott Martinez with a little help from Ali Kat, their music stirs up memories of Pink Floyd and even The Doors, more so on the tracks fronted by Scott. This, their second release like their first is not metal, but it sure is a decent slab of rock music. Do not expect an album here full of hooks and catchy choruses however, and I myself like to call this type of music 'thinking persons music'. 'These Old Shoes' kicks the cd off and is an uptempo little number featuring both Ali and Scott on vocals, while 2nd track in 'Synesthesia' has to my ears an 80s atmospheric style. A couple of my faves on the album however, have to be 'Flight of Tonight' showcasing Ali Kat's vocals to the fore, and 'It's My Time', a piano led ballad with strings attached, again feat Ali. Another fave track being 'Weeping Lily'. This is a good release, a kinda cd to chill out too, without chilling out too much. Get me drift? Check them out at www.myspace.com/asweetalice and then buy the cd. It gets released May 12th. 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

ALIGHT..'DON'T FEAR THE REVENGE'

(My Funeral Records) Reviewed 25th July 2009

Imagine the crunch of Metallica mixed with the electro capabilities of Theatre of Tragedy and latter day Theatres Des Vampires. Indeed, the track 'Your Bride' features Nell of Theatre of Tragedy. By and large we have a good little release on our hands here from Italian rockers Alight, fronted by Sabina. Seven tracks spanning a little over half an hour, and all offering up a dose of catchy melodic electro crunch. I like it! Kicking off with 'Disarmed' the record continues to move along at a steady pace with 'Revolution'. The aforementioned 'Your Bride' is one of my fave tracks here, but to be frank, they are all good on this little offering. Well worth checking out, and indeed, I would like to hear more from this band in due course. Cool...8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

ALL ENDS..S/T

(Gun/Sony BMG) Reviewed 28th July 2008

All Ends is an alternative metal band from Gothenburg in Sweden, founded in 2003. It started as a side project of the In Flames guitarists Bjorn Gelotte and Jesper Stromblad. However, they are currently no longer playing with All Ends. The band are fronted by not one but two ladies of rock - Emma Gelotte and Tinna Karlsdotter. In the spring of 2005, Michael Hakansson took over bass duties and Fredrik Johansson took over guitar duties. In August 2005, Peter Mardklint joined the band as the second guitarist. The most notable feature of All Ends is the duet vocals provided by the two aforementioned female singers against a background of heavy melodies and riffs. This self titled cd hits you in the face from the off, kicking off with 'Still Believe' and it doesn't let out throughout. Great stuff including the power ballad 'Just A Friend'. Not only has this band kinda sneaked in under my radar, this great album has a UK release. Be prepared for a melodic metal onslaught...think Heart on speed =) BUY! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

ALL ENDS..'A ROAD TO DEPRESSION'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 24th October 2010

'A Road To Depression' will certainly NOT send you along that road, unless you have a major problem. This, the band's second offering is a record full of pumping and rather catchy Modern Melodic Rock tunes, that however may depress your neighbours if you play it damn loud :) This is certainly an album to play on a nice sunny day with the windows open. Super stuff from this Swedish band fronted by new lass on the block Jonna Sailon, who shares the mic with existing member Tina Karlsdotter. Some awesome stuff on this album, including 'I'm A Monster', which is one for the radio, 'Hear Me Now' being a rather cool ballad that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end (the sort of thing US band Heart used to do so well), 'Don't Be Scared' and the piano led ballad 'Nobody's Story'. Every track on this release is in-fact a winner, and all I will add is that if you like the recent release from Norwegian gal ISSA, then check this one out...totally awesome! What is it the Scandinavians put in their water? I wish I knew as it is sending me on the road to depression :) A damn fine 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

ALLEY'S BRIDGE...'DREAM CHASE REACH'

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th March 2016

Alley's Bridge is an Alternative Rock band from El Salvador founded in 2013 by Frank De León [drums] and David Díaz [synths]. Afterwards, José Ayala [guitar] joins the band, and a few months later the angelic sounding Willow Beaver [vocals] and Diego Liévano [bass] became part of this project. The name Alley's Bridge represents a way out [bridge] that allow us to escape in any difficult situation in life or events that apparently don't have solution, representing these contexts as a non-exit alley. "Alley's Bridge" understands that there's always a solution in any event in life. Onto the music and there are 11 tracks of pure unadulterated catchy alternative Rock, coupled with an electro undercurrent that always runs close and at times bubbles up to the surface. This album is very commercial and very catchy at the same time. El Salvador is not a country associated with this style of music, but this record surprised me and is well recommended - I like it. The cdbaby shop has the album for sale on their digital platform here - this release is well worth checking out.. 9/10 (Natalie 'The Nugget' Gold)

ALPINE FAULT...'IRAENA'S ASHES'

(Self Release) Reviewed 30th July 2012

The origins of this band go back to it's formation in 2005 in New Zealand under the name Iraena's Ashes, then in 2008 linchpins guitarist/vocalist Ant Royal and violinist Yvette Van Wyk decided that to further their ambitions they had to move to Australia, changing their name to Alpine Fault in the process. If your are a European who is as geographically confused as me, the Alpine Fault does indeed run down the spine of New Zealand's south island. The theme of the album is inspired by the strange events surrounding the mysterious disappearance of Iraena Asher in 2004, who was last seen heading towards the treacherous waters of Piha Beach near Auckland. Musically, their violin infused melodic metal is similar to a more progressive Lumus and Regicide, in particular the singing style and vocal interplay of Ant and lovely lead singer Nadia Vanek does remind me of the latter, although Ant does also remind me of John Payne, giving them an Asia Mark II vibe at times. This is a series of songs that have been honed over the years into perfectly formed tour de forces that combine great song writing with space for them to display their instrumental prowess. There is a distinctive yin and yang to their music as Ant and fellow guitarist Kalen's ripping rocking riffage propels the songs along while Yvette's dramatic violin gives it a suitably plaintive haunting edge, all brought out by Adam Merker’s faultless production that is of the highest professional standards. They open with a trio of terrific numbers starring Nadia including the awesome lead single 'I'll See You Soon' (video on Female Voices), before Ant takes the mike for the rampaging 'Mourning Has Broken'. The swaying 'Requiem' builds into a towering refrain, followed by the an instrumental and then the dynamic 'The Watcher Beneath'. A rocked up version of Palladio's 'March of the Tides' takes us to the dramatic final song 'Under a Dying Sky'. You also get a DVD with the music video for 'I'll See You Soon' as well as a documentary interview with the band, I do enjoy these as you get to meet the people behind the music. Alpine Fault have produced an exceptional album that can take them onto the world stage of top melodic/gothic/progressive/symphonic metal bands. Their website is here, a faultless 9/10 (Phil)

ALTERED SKY...'STOP AND LIVE'

(Native Records) Reviewed 2nd May 2014

Scottish Band Altered Sky feature Ana Nowosielska on lead vocals and also have a female drummer who also contributes to vocals - Amy Blair. With both girls backed up by a competent group of young musicians, the band give us 4 tracks of catchy Pop/Rock that should please fans of Paramore and the like. In the words of lyricist Ana, the songs are “painting stories in real life”. Recorded in Cardiff’s famous Longwave Studios with producer Romesh Dodangoda who has worked with the likes of Motorhead, Kids In Glass Houses, and Funeral For A Friend, this is rather good. The band's Facebook can be found here.... 8/10 (Dave)

ALTERED SKY…’WITHOUT WONDERLAND’

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st October 2015

We have had the pleasure recently of reviewing bands from Northern Ireland and Scotland. No disrespect, but these are not locations known for setting the Rock and Metal music scene on fire. But with recent releases from Selene, The Fall Of Eve, guy band Screaming Eagles and now Scottish band Altered Sky, it seems that all that is well and truly changing. Altered Sky is fronted by a young lady who goes by the name Ana Nowosielska, and she is backed up by an amazing band of musicians . There has been some big rumblings on the underground about this band, and these rumblings are now surfacing! This is Pop/Rock of the highest calibre that surely will give bands like Fireflight and Paramore a run for their money. Just listen to the so so catchy ‘Apple Tree’ and ’Bury It All’ and I am sure you will get my ghist. There is not a filler to be found on this album, every track catchy and melodic, all this in the past having caught the attention of Kerrang FM, XFM and other independent radio stations, the band also having Kerrang presenter Johnny Doom as a self confessed fan. Recorded in Cardiff’s famous Longwave Studios, ‘Without Wonderland’ was produced by Romesh Dodangoda who has worked with the likes of Twin Atlantic, Bullet For My Valentine, The Blackout, Funeral For A Friend. The album picks up a release date on 20th November and is a good un. More on Altered Sky can be found here… 9/10 (The Nugget)

ALTRA..'HALFMAD'

(Self Release) Reviewed 23rd February 2011

Here we have the début release from American singer songwriter Altra (not to be confused with a Russian singer of the same name). Some of you will know Professor Brian Cox who played keyboards for Drama and D-Ream, and of course Brian May, well, Altra is also a musical quantum physicist, must be something in the particles at a subatomic level. They say that if quantum physics doesn't shock you, then you don't understand it, so I'm totally appalled, honestly, truly, really, herrr hummm. Her music is new wave rock with a savvy punk attitude, a mix of the music that emanated from New York's CBGB club in the late seventies, but brought bang up to date with 21st century sound, factoring into her equation bands like Television, Ramones, Blondie, Dictators, Patti Smith, Cars and Talking Heads (perversely CBGB stands for Country, Blue Grass and Blues, nothing like the music it became famous for). Altra's voice ranges from a sneering drawl to a soft whisper to a deep power to a rap depending on the mood of the music which has real diversity but a consistency of sound, packed with superb guitars, keys and hooks big enough to catch a black hole. We open with a brace of infectious driving rockers 'Hang in There' and 'Girls', followed by the Ian Dury esque 'Shake' and the lovely mellower 'To All The Lovers'. The fulcrum is the string laced 'She is Our Mother' which starts gently before building to a ripping guitar solo. After that comes the acerbic groover 'Hypocrite', and then we have a pair of punky rock 'n' rollers 'The Future' and 'Orange Sky'. Next up is the moody dramatic 'Diana', the catchy rocker 'Magical Girl' and finally the haunting surreal waltz 'Decadence'. If you like music that rocks like a free radical and is packed with attitude, then motion your particles to her band camp at click here, a cosmic 8.75/10 (Phil)

ALUNAH...'AWAKENING THE FOREST'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 23rd September 2014

For the third time, ALUNAH spread wide their mighty Doom wings: Following up their exceptional previous albums CALL OF AVERNUS (2010) and WHITE HOARHOUND (2012), the International Doom community will be tied up again by this latest offering on the mighty Napalm label. The English quartet featuring singer Sophie Day, forges forward with hard guitars, pumping heavy grooves and a sound to make fans of this genre get shall we say, rather excited. Featuring six tracks that run in at well over 40 minutes, the album kicks off how it means to go on. The opener is stoner heaven - the 8 minute plus 'Bricket Wood Coven', kinda takes me back to the early Sabbath era (but with a female vocalist this time), certainly a retrospective feel to the music here. And that is the way it carries on - next up 'Heavy Bough' maintains that similar sound, a slightly more up tempo number than the opener, but still with that 70s Sabbath feel. The doom laden title track runs in at over 7 minutes while 4th track in 'The Mask Of Herne', maintains that mid tempo sludgy texture. 'Scourge and the Kiss' and the rather nice 'The Summerland' total close on 18 minutes between them and end this trippy, stoner doom album. I am the first to admit that this cd would not normally be my cuppa tea, but it is a great piece of Doom Metal, and so it should be, didn't we invent it? The album gets released in October, so check it out.... 8/10 (Dave)

ALYSON AVENUE..'CHANGES'

(Avenue of Allies) Reviewed 27th June 2011

Few people had ever heard of this Swedish group until their singer joined that Finnish bunch, errm, what's their name, oooh arrh, you know, ummm, Dayhope, no, urrm, Morningwant, no no, it's on the tip of my tongue, ah yes, I remember now, Nightwish. After temporarily enlisting a gentleman they have now recruited Arabella Vitanc for this appropriately titled new album. You will not be shocked to learn that Arabella has a voice not too dissimilar to Anette Olzon who crops up on backing vocals. First track 'Liar' fools you into thinking that they have gone all Nightwish pop metal but second track 'Will I Make Love', a duet with Michael Bormann who's sung with more bands than Gene Simmons has had groupies, settles them back into their familiar Heart/Bon Jovi melodic hard rock. I hate the term AOR, it makes it sound as if it's only for middle aged accountants with 2.4 children, rather like MOR. This is a band that does not want to reinvent the wheel, but simply want to keep you entertained with a series of catchy rockers mainly written by keys man Niclas Olsson that feature meaty production, crunchy guitars, twinkling keyboards, big choruses and even bigger hair. However, to be fair none of the band have perms. and musically if its good enough for the some of the planet's biggest selling groups then if it ain’t bust, don't fix it. This is the sort of album that used to sell by the tanker load but is now seen as slightly quaint, it's funny how some music comes in and out of fashion, although Within Temptation have just a very modern twist on 80's rock. Apart from the opening twosome, faves include the anthemic 'Amazing Days', the more Heart than Heart 'Don't Know If Love Is Alive', and the soaring 'I Will Be Waiting'. The one thing that surprises me is the lack of a lighter waving ballad which is normally a must have, probably because smoking is now banned everywhere, you can't wave a nicotine patch very effectively. If you fancy some great melodic rock, or merely curious, it can be addictive a solid rocking 8.5/10 (Phil)

AMADEUS…’MY NIGHTMARE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 10th November 2015

Amadeus is a Rock/Metal band from Central Florida consisting of Joe Rodda, Matt Young, Matt McCloskey, Mike Meeks and Mary Young on lead vocals. Experienced in a wide array of genres including country, electronic/dance, rock/pop, metal, and classical music, the collaboration of the group brings a unique sound to the world of Rock and Metal. And boy, do they rock combining awesome female vocals with mainly male screams, this combination working very well indeed! Opener ‘As The World Burns’ sets the scene rather nicely, while next up ‘Did You Scream’ is a mid paced rocker with a cool chorus. And there is further goodness within the pot of goodies – ‘Falling Down’ and ‘You’re Not My God’ are great rockers with fist pumping choruses. And there is no let up as the music pounds out of the speakers in dynamic fashion. Further heavy but catchy tunes to feast your ears upon, and if you find yourself keeping still while this album is playing, then you have a serious medical issue that needs sorting quickly! And Amadeus can slow it down a bit but still maintain the momentum within the chorus, ‘Nobody’ one such tune and a fave of mine from the record. In-fact, everything on this release is damn good and comes as a pleasant surprise. I like listening to an album and not initially know quite what to expect! This is well worth checking out and you can hear more at www.reverbnation.com/amadeusfl... 8.75/10 (Dave)

AMANTYDE..'MADCHEN'

(Red Pony Records) Reviewed 24th December 2011

Amantyde was born in 2006 in Venice (Italy), inspired by the wide alternative groove metal scene of the new millenium. Listing their interests as Booze, Pussy and Drugs, the band fronted by the powerful voice of Nicky Genovese offers a banal story of sex and power, a play on words in the italian dialect from the name of a small insect, the mantis, whose female devours the male during intercourse, and the phonetic transcription of "A Man tied". Amantyde is the alter ego of the band's leader Nicky, a character with an often controversial image, oscillating between masculinity and femininity, innocence and prostitution, incoherence and sincerity, that through her words, tries to untie the knots of her story, telling her own moral redemption through violence, contradictions, arrogance and weakness of the generation of the 21th century. Now you know and the album itself offers up nine tracks of alternative but melodic rock music with quite a crunch. Opener 'Creepy Crowlies' lays the band's cards on the table, with second up 'Join me In The Desert' kinda offering a slightly more industrial vibe, with subtle but harsh background male vocals that pop up for a few seconds. There are highlights galore on this release, 'Summer Breeze' with it's catchy chorus, and the equally catchy 'My Cold Room' with Nicky taking hold of this song by the short and curlies and giving it her all. 'My Enemy' is one of the heavier more chaotic and aggressive numbers on the record given the distorted vocal treatement, while 'Nothing But The Rain' is a another heavy and rather manic number, but with a catchy chorus to maintain your interest. There is also a cover, The Cranberries 'Zombie' given the Amantyde treatment, and treat it they do with a good dose of metal. I actually find this release quite "sexy, raunchy and bold" if I may say so. Imagine a boozed up Paramore on drugs :) It can be purchased at cdbaby while the band can be checked out here..recommended! 8.75/10 (Dave)

AMARANTHE..S/T

(Spinefarm) Reviewed 14th April 2011

Amaranthe is a promising new Swedish Modern Melodic Metal Band that has signed with Spinefarm Records for the release of this, their debut album. The band consists of three vocalists, Elize (angelic female vocals), the clean male vocals of Jake and the powerful screams of Andy. This record is a strange one, a kinda pop record with clean male and female vocals mixed in with metal screams, if that makes any sense. And add into that touches of electro and I am kinda reminded musically of Enter Shikari or possibly In This Moment . And they are loose references by the way. But what it gives us is twelve hideously catchy tunes, a kinda Eurovision meets Screamo Metal! My fave track has to be 'Amaranthine', a ballad which would have been an awesomely cool song without the screamo bits. I must say that this record will not be to everybody's liking, but those into this type of music and for the more curious of us out there, this is worth checking out. Their myspace can be accessed here, 8/10 (Dave)

AMARANTHE...'THE NEXUS'

(Spinefarm Records) Reviewed 15th April 2013

Here is the somophore release from this Swedish Band fronted by Elize Ryd, with growls from Andy Solvestrom and clean vocals from Jake E Lundberg. And it will be plainly obvious upon listening to this, that if you enjoyed their debut outing, you will most certainly lap this up! And if you have never heard their debut, then there is something wrong with you and you are missing some awesome stuff! This is a great mix of up tempo songs with choruses to die for, kinda Pop meets Metal. And with only two songs exceeding 4 minutes, and they both run in at 4:01, the numbers are short, sweet but wield a punch worthy of Mike Tyson knocking you for six! And we are even treated to a power ballad, the superb 'Burn With Me', while the track 'Electroheart' has more of a synth driven dance floor beat to it. There is so much addictive stuff on this album, loads more than the local drug dealer could supply in a year, that I must simply recommend 'The Nexus' to all and sundry (and it's legal!!). Like I have suggested above - Pop meets Metal and this release should propel Amaranthe into the Premier League if they are not already there!! ....9/10 (Dave)

AMARYLLIS..'INQUIETUM EST COR'

(Polskie Radio/decor) Reviewed 14th March 2010

Here’s a question for you, what do you get when you mix mediæval ecclesiastic music with modern prog rock? This is the poser that Marek Domagala, the founder of this Polish group, asked himself, and inside the rather lovely digi-pac lies the rather wondrous answers. Singer Ewa Domagala has a sublime and incredibly pure voice which perfectly suits the lyrics in Latin taken from original mediæval texts. The music is a blend of Pendragon, Arena, both very successful in Poland, Porcupine Tree, Renaissance, Yes and some Dream Theatre power. It is highly professionally produced with a skilled team of outstanding musicians, soaring and powerful electric guitars, delicate acoustic guitars, fancy bass runs, and marvellous keys. In between the songs are brief atmospheric passages with various sound effects, children, phones, helicopters, chimps, heartbeats, etc. The whole album is intended to be listened to as a complete piece of music, broken into bite sized chunks, whilst absorbing the superb artwork. The most amazing thing is how the two worlds, separated by centuries, meld together so naturally and easily, the results are melodically magical, and the quieter moments quite exquisite. If you like melodic prog rock then you will find yourself as astonished and as pleasantly surprised as me, a complete and utter joy and delight to listen to. Available from www.myspace.com/amaryllisprogressive. Just go and have a listen, you will be as captivated as me. 9/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

AMAZON..'NATURE'S LAST RIDE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 6th October 2010

Brazil’s Amazon have been rolling along for nearly ten years, and this is the brand new follow-up to their 2004 debut Victoria Regia. Musically they flow through the hinterland between Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, melodic rock/metal and pomp rock. Blonde Brazilian beauty Sabrina Todt has a versatile voice that moves from pop-rock to deep semi-operatic to full on Tarja mode to a sweet higher register depending on the music, like having four different singers in one attractive package. The production gives the whole affair a lively live vibe, as if you are listening to the band playing live through a top notch hi-fidelity PA system, with the soundman keeping a perfect balance. This means that you can clearly hear Marcelo Freitas bashing his drums and crashing his cymbals, so often the poor drummer either gets lost in the mix or ends up sounding like a robot. Renato Angelois is not only a skilled guitarist who provides plenty of tasty licks, but he’s also pretty nifty on the keys, with some super Moog work, he’s really put in a most splendid double shift. They have obviously spent the last 6 years writing cracking tunes, a sample of their wares includes the anthemic ‘Conceived’ with a touch of Nightwish and some great synths, the delightful duet ‘Lake of Dreams, the galloping ‘Falling’, the dramatic epic ‘Heretic’, the swaying lighter waver ‘Whoever You Are’ and the melodic rocker ‘The Poem and the Eden’. This is a record that will appeal to the massive melodic rock/metal crowd as well as symphonic metallers. Best of all, you can paddle away with this opus for free from their Website, http://www.amazon.mus.br/, a most gratifying 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil).

AMBERIAN DAWN..'RIVER OF TUONI'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 27th April 2008

Amberian Dawn is a new Finnish metal band. Their music is melodic, dramatic and powerful, with female classical vocals, compliments of Heidi Parviainen. All the members of Amberian Dawn have a quite long history as musicians too. Anyway, bearing in mind that the band are Finnish, a reference point for 'River Of Tuoni' is Tarja era Nightwish. This is a good debut offering, and although nothing jumps out and hits you between the eyes, it is a consistent effort. I mentioned the Nightwish connection and this is apparent throughout the album, especially on track four, 'Valkyries'. 'River Of Tuoni' will get a release on Ascendance Records in June, but there is nothing better than going directly to the band to get a copy, and that is exactly what I did. A good effort from a band that with their next release, may well threaten to break into the Premier League. One gripe however, 10 tracks of potentially epic metal, running in at only around 36 minutes. Could have been 10 minutes longer!. However, musically, I like it. 7.5/10 (Reviewed by Dave).

AMBERIAN DAWN..'THE CLOUDS OF NORTHLAND THUNDER'

(Ascendance Records) Reviewed 22nd June 2009

Amberian Dawn fronted by Heidi Parviainen are back. 'Clouds of Northland Thunder' is their latest assault and it is okay. Possibly a shade better than 'River of Tuoni', this latest release being polished but safe symphonic metal. 'He Sleeps In A Grove' kicks things off quite nicely, while 'Incubus' quickens the pace a little. Third one in 'Kokko - Eagle of Fire' keeps the momentum going with Tarja era Nightwish comparisons coming to the fore. Generally, this latest from these Finnish rockers is a consistent affair, with the slower 'Willow of Tears' being a fave track of mine. The album has been released on Ascendance Records (a femme fronted specialist label), who for some reason seem reluctant to send us here at Ravenheart any promos. This copy was borrowed from someone within the business who understands my frustration. Musically, not bad..7.5/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

AMBERIAN DAWN..'END OF EDEN'

(Spinefarm Records) Reviewed 23rd October 2010

Since their fellow Finnish symphonic power metallers Nightwish last released an album, Amberian Dawn have been far more productive and have produced three albums in that time, this being their brand new opus. The comparisons are inevitable, lovely Heidi has a sweet light pitch perfect operatic voice, they are on Nightwish’s old label and their main man is also a keys player called Tuomas. However Amberian Dawn have their own unmistakable up-tempo galloping style with neo-classical influences. Production, sound and mix is top notch, this is an album of consistent quality rather than peaks and troughs, they have refined and improved every aspect of their music, the songs motoring along like a finely tuned Ferrari. They also use a lot less double peddling than at the beginning, it is now used as an occasional accent rather than the main driving force. The only pause comes with the ninth track ‘Virvatulen Laula’ (the only tune in Finnish) which is an operatic duet, before the epic ‘War in Heaven’ brings the album to a grand and very dramatic end. This is their best and most consistent work to date, and is bound to appeal to all symphonic power metal and neo-classical fans. Being on Spinefarm you should not have to travel to the end of Eden to grab a copy, a heavenly 8.75/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

AMBERIAN DAWN...'CIRCUS BLACK'

(Spinefarm) Reviewed 12th April 2012

Amberian Dawn have undergone a gradual evolution from their early speedy neoclassical power metal, easing the pace which has allowed them to become more symphonic and sonically impressive as well as improving their songwriting, with their last album 'End of Eden' marking a massive step forward. There are bound to be comparisons with that other band from Finland, especially with the album title and sleeve art, but they have always had their own distinct style, with Heidi Parviainen's lovely warm lilting operatic voice. The opening four acts are outstanding, all of them majestically symphonic featuring massed choirs, with occasional bursts of their early style and signature lightning synth and guitar shreds. 'Circus Black' is thrilling, massive and impressive, then the duet with Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius) on the superb lead song 'Cold Kiss' (video on Female Voices), the catchy 'Crimson Flower' featuring a synth solo by Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), and the stomping circus themed 'Charnel's Ball'. One word, awesome. The next two, 'Fight' and 'Letter', are more like their early style, they're good songs, but out of keeping with the rest of the album. However, the other terrific duet 'I Share Between You This Dream' featuring Tuomas Nieminen (ex- Adamantra, Throne of Chaos) and Nils Nordling (ex Dreamtale, Animal House) sees a return to top form, but the instrumental 'Rivalry Between Good and Evil' is simply unnecessary filler. The swaying ballad 'Guardian' is wonderful, however they frustratingly end with another stock early style song 'Lily of the Moon'. They sound like a band on a tightrope, wanting to swing into a grand new future, but sometimes swaying back to the old days, however in six great songs they are able to juggle both with incredible success. Those six songs alone are worth the price of admission to their Circus Black, their big top is here, an acrobatic 8.75/10 (Phil)

AMBERIAN DAWN...'MAGIC FOREST'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 10th June 2014

Finland's Amberian Dawn has released four studio albums since 2008, and during these productive years, they have already toured in Europe three times with bands like Epica, Van Canto, Tristania, done several festival shows and opened for bands like Kamelot and Dream Evil. Their last studio album proper Circus Black (2012), is widely appraised with excellent reviews by critics all over the world, while in 2013, they released a re-recorded compilation album Re-Evolution with their new singer, Capri. Now we are in 2014 and with Capri at the helm, the band release their new album on a new label. This record is 10 tracks of catchy Symphonic Metal with the occasional foray into Power Metal territory and bloomin' good it is too. And when we say "Catchy" that is exactly what we mean - just listen to the title track as one prime example of what we mean, with similarities to Finnish counterparts Nightwish too. The Symphonic elements are there to be heard on tracks like 'Agonizing Night' and 'Memorial' which also features a male opera singer, who I do not know, but a very good addition to the vocal department nonetheless. The epic closer, the power ballad 'Green Eyed' closes the album in awesome fashion. This is another sure fire winner from the Napalm stable and I am sure will propel the band into the Premier League... 9.25/10 (Dave)

AMBERIAN DAWN...'INNUENDO'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 10th October 2015

After their last highly acclaimed 2014 album 'Magic Forest', female fronted Finnish Symphonic sextet Amberian Dawn return with this their latest recording, their second studio album in-fact with gorgeous singer Päivi "Capri" Virkkunen. Presented in a catchier and more melodic way than previous efforts, 'Innuendo' sounds like a deliberately fresh new start with some strong vocal performances. This album as a consequence is certainly an accomplished recording from the band, with tracks like 'Ladyhawk' with its catchy chorus, the pounding title track, the orchestrated ballad 'Angelique', the quirky 'Knock Knock Who's There' and the album closer ‘Your Time - My Time’. With production work from Mikko Karmilla (Amorphis, Apocalyptica), and the main man Tuomas Seppälä's apparent influences of the likes of Jean Michel Jarre to Vangelis, this album showcases the epic trademarks of an album that could easily fire the band into the forefront of the Symphonic Metal genre! Well recommended when released 23rd October... 9/10 (Dave)

AMORTEM…’SIGN OF INFINITY’

(Indie Release) Reviewed 8th November 2015

AMORTEM consisting of Dmitry Khakkinen – male lead and backing vocals, bass, keyboards; Ekaterina Mansurova (Katty) – female lead vocals; Alexey Shkapov – all guitars, is a Russian-Finnish Industrial metal/ Dance metal group set up in 2012, although the seeds were being sown a couple of years prior to that. The band offers an awesome combination of academic female vocals and hard screams and growls, dance beats and heavy guitar riffs coupled with beautiful melodic lines. And that all kinda just about sums it up, and what a record this is! There are some catchy foot tapping monsters, and it all kicks off with the hideously catchy track ‘Set This Fuckin World On Fire’, promptly followed by the pulsating and monstrously riff tastic ‘Prayer (Bring Me To Heaven)’. And the momentum continues at a thundering melodic pace, with Ekaterina’s operatic Tarja sounding vocals adding awesome fuel to the musical bonfire. ‘Vampires Prelude’ is an awesome instrumental of film score proportions followed by ‘When Sun Is Going Down’, a thundering metal track with a totally magical choral backdrop chorus that refuses to leave your head - first rate! ‘Time of my Life’ is a slower song with the operatic vocals of Katty adding the shine to an already brilliant track, while closing track ‘Power of Creation’ is a dance remix of a track featured earlier on in the album. More can be heard here, but there is some really good stuff coming out of Russia, add this to the list!… 9/10 (Dave)

ANABANTHA..'EL POZO DE LOS DESEOS'

(Denver Records) Reviewed 7th January 2011

This Mexican group have a very long, extremely complicated and utterly baffling history, with a bewildering discography and more line-up changes than King Crimson. So to keep things simple, and to keep this review shorter than War and Peace and to preserve my sanity, this is their latest fully fledged studio album with all new original material. The leading lady is Duan Marie, who has also released a solo album confusingly under the name of Maria Escarlata called 'El Misteria', which is well worth keeping a beady eye out for (this was also released as a double album with old Anabantha material, I told you it was mind boggling). Along with Fortaleza, El Cuervo de Poe and Erszebeth they belong to that highly distinctive group of Mexican bands who produce light gothic metal/rock with a Latin flavour and a touch of melancholy, but certainly not the doom tag that is sometimes attached to them. Marie has an enchanting light floating semi operatic voice with a hint of the exotic Middle East, a perfect example being opener 'El Bosque Encantado' (lyrics in Spanish). The rest of the album falls into three broad camps, the first two being gothic rock/metal songs like 'S.O.S' and 'El Milagro' (both have videos on the Female Voices blog); and catchy rockers such as the driving 'Nunca Jamás' and the galloping 'Banshee'. The largest group belong to lighter numbers full of delightful melodies and Marie's romantic vocals, including the folky 'El Vals de las Hadas', my personal favourite 'Mil y una Noches' with it's ingenious weaving riff and sublime melodies, lovely 'Brazos de Huracán' and the title track and closer 'El Pozo de los Deseos'. The production is good with lots of curious sounds and effects giving the album an ethereal haunting quality, but by no means weird. This is a very original album that is a real delight to listen to, available through www.myspace.com/anabantha, a most pleasurable 8.5/10 (Phil)

ANABIOZ...'THERE THE SUN FALLS'

(SoundAge Productions) Reviewed 28th November 2014

Anabioz is a beauty and the beast Folk/Metal band from Russia... Olga "Helga" providing us with female vocal plus violin, and Anton "JaZzZ" gives us the harsh vocals, he is also one of two guitarists. They are ably backed up by Damir "Mystic" - guitar, Alexey "Alexis" - bass and Alexander "Posox" - drums. This kinda Folk Metal seems to be gaining popularity at the moment, and I can say that this style of music is very popular on the Ravenheart radio show. The band was formed in 2006 and this release is their third effort and rather good it is too. They could be put into the same room as bands like GRAI who hail from eastern Russia. What the listener can expect to hear blasting out of their speakers is 10 tracks of epic bombastic Folk Metal, and I can honestly say that Olga is a good a violinist as she is vocalist - impressive stuff. The album pounds along at a strking rate with tracks like 'PUT' VO T'ME', 'DANCE DANCE' and the folky 'THE MAID THAT SOLD HER BARLEY' all leaving you breathless and wanting more! Furthermore, let's not forget the delightful ballad 'UNDER THE ALIEN SKY' and the closing catchy bonus track 'SILVER BRIDE' - both very good! Anabioz meanwhile, can be checked out here - worth a visit and consequently the album is worth buying! .. 8.75/10 (Natalie Gold)

ANADIES..'PREVAIL'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 30th October 2008

Fronted by Christy Lumberg, Anadies is a surprisingly good band that I have been familiar with for a while now, and I was highly impressed by their debut offering 'Formamentum'. And I am delighted to report that 'Prevail' carries on the good work. What I am not so delighted about is why this band remains unsigned. Anadies I am sure would go down a storm here in Europe, and I will be following their career with interest. Anyway, kicking off with 'Trials', this is a kick ass track that showcases Christy's vocal style to the full. Second track 'F.T' is one of my faves, a melodic gem while 'Visions' is an ear catching song with even a subtle touch of electronica mid song - cool! The record carries on in the same heavy melodic metallic style with minor diversions into prog-metal on occasion. Another fave of mine on an album chock full of little surprises is 'Unseen', and I would certainly advise anybody reading this review to check out www.myspace.com/anadies and then buy their album. Anadies also has an interview on this site, so if you wanna know more, check that out too. A very strong release we have here that would certainly give some of the bigger more well known bands a run for their money! Great stuff!! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

ANADORA...'A.T.'

(Day Records) Reviewed 19th August 2015

Anadora formed in 2008 come from Russia, and they play Melodic Folk Metal, something that seems to be becoming quite fashionable on the metal underground circuit at present, particularly from the eastern European nations. We have twelve numbers and 45 minutes of mid to up tempo music which although sung in the band's native tongue, is well worth the purchase money. This is very catchy stuff with use of pipes and flutes well to the fore including at times the violin – cool. All this of course in addition to the heavy guitars and drums that us metal people come to expect. I do not know much about the band itself, but anybody who is a fan of Female Fronted Metal would do themselves no harm in checking this out. The band's Facebook is here... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

ANALGESIA..'BEYOND ILLUSION'

(Self Release) Reviewed 12th October 2011

Very occasionally you find something very special in the most unlikely of places. Moroccans Analgesia, led by guitarist Ahmed Zine, started out in as a melodic metal band, releasing the album 'Return to the Self'. Then they replaced the original singer with mezzo-soprano and lyricist Youssra Atmen (all lyrics in English) and started to introduce some classical elements, and they made their first foray into symphonic metal with 2008's 'Era of the Storyteller'. Their evolution has now come to full flower with this new album, producing the sort of music Nightwish might have if they had not sacked Tarja, epic symphonic metal with full orchestra and 74 member choir. Opener 'Revolution has Begun' is a absolutely awesome anthem about a child who witnesses an invasion of their homeland by a tyrant, a story that would resonate with the Moroccans as they were under the yoke of European superpowers until their independence in 1956, and of course they are next door to Libya. 'Four Candles For Five Corners' is about a man who is under the spell of an evil demon and it could be the soundtrack to a sword and sandals epic blockbuster, then the joyful folky 'The Way to Eminence' that will have you dancing around the room. 'Follow Me' is a classic lighter waving ballad featuring Youssra and three of Morocco's top rock singers, Badr Assa, Tarik Ljouad and Faycal Chayan, with the sing-along chorus “Follow me through the wind, Follow me to the fairy dream, Follow me and you will see, You’ll never feel loneliness again, We need you”. A brief acoustic piece 'Clock Of All Time' picks up some of the themes from 'Revolution Has Begun' followed by the sublime power ballad 'Upon a Dream' which shows off Youssra's glorious voice, bassist Mounir Houaoura's poignant violin and Hassan Bourih's tinkling piano and keys. They pick it up again with the dramatic rousing 'Amphion', then Ahmed shows he too has an excellent voice on the very moving acoustic number 'Back to Life' before the stomping catchy last song 'A Bird in Paradise' which culminates at the end with them inventing symphonic trance metal. Throughout the album Samir Houaoura's drums kick the music along at a cracking pace, and he is aided by superb production and sound. This album is absolutely jaw dropping, but amazingly Ahmed in a statement said "We decided not to put the album on sale”, but “to share it from friend to friend “, “anyone wishing to have a (download) copy of this album just send a simple request to the following address: Analgesia.Contact@gmail.com ! So follow me to their website, a glorious and painless 9.5/10 (Phil)

ANARIA...'CHRONICLE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd July 2014

Here is a US band that is uniquely American but with a strong European sound. This cd is basically a collection of previously released songs. Indeed this serves as a very good introduction to the band, especially with the promise of a new album sometime during 2014. We have standout tracks galore, although I will admit to taking a liking to their two most recent numbers - 'Into The Flood' (Oct 2013) and 'I See Fire (Jan 2014), the latter being a Cover of Ed Sheeran's track from The Hobbit soundtrack. I would strongly recommend that our readers check Anaria out if they have not already done so. You can listen to Anaria here... 8.75/10 (Aimee)

ANARIA...'SEASONS OF THE MIND VOL 1 INCEPTION'

(Self Released) Reviewed 20th May 2015

Melding power and beauty, US band Anaria fronted by the awesome and distinct voice of Jessica Mercy, leads their nation in defining American Symphonic Metal, forging unique and memorable melodies, while retaining both strength and grace in delivery. This album is a 7 track affair and is pretty darn good too. The instrumental opener 'Inception' leads us gracefully into the first track 'proper' which is titled 'Ignition', and this ignites the album in typical symphonic fashion. 'Intoxicate' will intoxicate you with its grandiose melodies coupled with the awesome vocals of Jessica, while 'Aurora' is a Symphonic masterpiece with a pompous chorus. 'Covet' with its church organ intro is a heavier guitar orientated number with subtle keys, while 'Genesis Star' is a short atmospheric instrumental, leading us into the bouncy closing number 'Constellations'. Overall, this album is good, very good in-fact. It can be checked out here: www.anaria.bandcamp.com/ - worth investigatng and then spending a few bucks of your hard earned money... 8.5/10 (The Nugget)

ANATHEMA..'WE'RE HERE BECAUSE WE'RE HERE'

(Kscope) Reviewed 4th April 2011

After a long wait since 2003's A Natural Disaster, finally there is a new album by these Liverpudlians. They started as a doom metal band back in the early 90's but their sound has come a long way since then, and this is their most commercial album to date. The title comes from the words of a song that allied soldiers sung to the tune of Old Lang Syne in the trenches of World War 1. Lee Douglas is now a fully fledged member and her vocals are intertwined with those of lead singer Vincent Cavanagh to create gorgeous harmonies. Musically they are a more symphonic Radiohead, Elbow and especially Porcupine Tree, and it comes as no surprise that Steve Wilson mixed the album, he seems to everywhere at the moment, does he ever sleep? The words majestic, elegant, dreamy, haunting, profound, mesmerising and melancholic spring to mind when listening to this collection of songs that often start achingly slowly before building and building, gaining momentum and power, subsiding and then building again, creating epic sweeping soaring soundscapes that drift you away on a cloud of consciousness. It is also an album graced by royalty, 'Angels Walk Among Us' features none other than His Infernal Majesty Ville Valo. This is crossover prog of the highest standards, and apart from 'Get Off, Get Out', which breaks out into a serious groove, certainly not a party record, rather one for deep contemplation and relaxation. Their website is here, an absorbing 8.75/10 (Phil)

ANATOMY OF THE SACRED…’ASHES TO ASHES’ EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 7th June 2016

Anatomy of the Sacred’s debut EP, 'Ashes to Ashes' is an electrifying journey through the ever-twisting avenues of life. It is a formidable collection of lingering songs that explore humanity’s ongoing struggle with themes such as lust, reflection, disappointment, death, fear and hope. The band consisting of Brenda Michelle Robinson (vocals) and Shane Krout (bass, guitar, vocals) make elegant, soulful music ablaze with powerhouse vocals, orchestral melodies and radiant harmonies that are draped over driving and resounding rhythms. With the distinctive honour of being the only female fronted symphonic metal band in Pennsylvania, this album delivers the goods – 6 tracks of high octane melodic Symphonic Metal, a band that would do fairly well in Europe if ever given the chance. All the numbers are good with Clinton Washington from Season 8 of The Voice, taking vocal control of the final track, the awesome ballad ‘Farewell To The Light’. The album has come to fruition with the help of numerous musicians, engineers and artists and the band deserves your support. Currently, I understand the record is available via CDBaby HERE - Support independent musicians and buy, recommended!… 8/10 (Dave)