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Ravenheart Archives: Archived

Reviews A Cont (6)

ARGOS..'Angeles, Hombres y Demonios'

(Self Release) Reviewed 9th December 2010

These Costa Rican symphonic metallers blend a diverse range of goods in their store, Amberian Dawn folk tinged neoclassical, Fairyland speedy metal, Epica gothic, Rhapsody bombast, Ennio Morricone spaghetti western, and ELP prog. The sultry Yanina Vargas has a powerful operatic voice soaring above the melange, assisted by Roberto Solano's occasional Cookie Monster, with lyrics in Spanish. Like Malinconia and Demether, this is another band who have a full time growler who thankfully spends most of his time at the bar rather on stage murdering the music. They are not to be confused, by the way, with another Costa Rican band who were around in the 80's, or the various other bands around the world who share the name. At times there is so much going on that at first it can sound almost chaotic, but a few spins makes sense of it all. This is like being lost in the soundtrack to a medieval epic, with Yanina as a Spanish version of Joan d'Arc and Roberto as the pantomime villain who turns up a couple of times so you can give him a good BOOOOOO! The music shifts from poignant to angry to martial to galloping to powerful to jubilant to mournful to joyful like it's accompanying the action on the silver screen. Production, mix and sound is pretty good, perhaps a touch muddy if I was being Mr. Picky, and there's loads of hummable tunes and fast fancy finger work. All in all a most enjoyable romp for anyone who likes epic metal and they can be found at http://www.argosmetal.net/, a heroic 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

ARIA..'DON'T MAKE A FOOL OF ME'

(Single Release) Reviewed 18th May 2012

Aria is fronted by Ana and hail from Venezuela, and in the early days was a side-project of guitarist Adrian. The side project became the main focus for Adrian in 2006. Some personel changes later, and in 2012, they have sent to me the single 'Don't Make A Fool Of Me'. Okay, I am not in the habit of reviewing singles, but this is an okay kinda tune. Crunching guitars and a great sax as well. The chorus although a little repetetive, is very catchy and will bang around in your head for ages. I cannot really score just one song, but judge for yourself by visiting their myspace (Dave)

ARIA FLAME...'A WORLD OF SILENCE'

(Self Released) Reviewed 2nd July 2015

Aria Flame (www.ariaflame.com/) was formed after the disbandment of singer and composer Aziza Poggi’s former band Dendura. Dendura was a successful Egyptian themed metal band that was heard on The Comedy Central network, seen in magazines such as Metal Hammer, and opened for international touring acts such as Epica, Doro Pesch, Edguy, Scar Symmetry, Unexpect and The Agonist. This is their first release, an EP featuring six tracks of awesome neo-classical symphonic metal with progressive elements. It is not often (no offence to US bands) that it can be said of bands from the USA, but this is a band that is set to compete with Europe's finest from what I hear on this record. Just check out the closing track 'Divine World' from this fine set of nuggets. The awesome EP was produced by bassist Greg Cloon and mixed and mastered by Grammy award-winning producer Neil Kernon (FM, Judas Priest, Nevermore, Queensryche, etc.), and currently, the band is setting up additional national and international tours, recording more music videos, and planning to release a full album of new music in 2016. Worth looking into no doubt about it... 9/10 (The Nugget)

ARIES..'DOUBLE REIGN'

(AMS Records) Reviewed 2nd February 2011

This is the second album from Italian polymath Fabio Zuffanti's's Aries project, I have the self titled first, released back in 2005, safely stowed in my collection. It lies at the the lighter melodic rock end of Fabio's many ventures, indeed the first release was a meandering work that leant heavily towards classic 70's prog, especially Renaissance. However this second album is a far more 21st century, song based, cohesive collection, the key being Simona Anglioloni's elevation from guest to musical partner and co-writer. It is a concept piece based on the 1997 book 'Double Kingdom' by Paola Capriolo which tells the story of a woman who flees the city and takes refuge in a creepy hotel in the hills. Once there she cannot escape, meeting strange characters and experiencing surreal events. Musically it is built around six mellow melodious mellifluous 'ballads', with hints of Ayreon, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, jazz, pop, rock and Andrew Lloyd Webber. I use the term 'ballads' with some reservation and trepidation, because it is does not do justice to the beauty, varying dynamics and subtle power of these songs, graced with Simona's lovely pure semi operatic voice, a string quartet, twinkling electric/acoustic piano, soft Mellotron, electronica and gorgeous melodies. Highlights include 'Alone', 'The Moon Rises Again' and the more up-tempo 'Deep Inside' and 'Space'. Other songs include the more unusual 'See Through Me' and 'I Will Sleep Among the Waves' which convey the mood of the story; the voice and string quartet 'The House is Burning'; the dramatic 'Falling Down' ; and on the final track 'Flow' Simona even does some Dame Cleo Laine style scat singing. I must also mention Davide Guidoni's sensitive fluid skilful drumming which fits the music perfectly, and it is all superbly produced. This is a work of rare beauty, sophistication and grace that will appeal to anyone who appreciates fine quality melodic and prog rock. Full details are on their Facebook site (click here), a mellifluous 9/10 (Phil)

ARITY...'PHYSICS FALL APART'

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th November 2013

Running in at around the half hour mark, what we have here from this LA band is 6 tracks of rather good technical Progressive Metal, similar to the music I recently reviewed from Florida based Sacrifice To Survive. Fronted by Nicole Macias, who also takes on rhythm guitar duties, the album kicks of with the 7+ minute track 'I Want To Know Your Mind', which typifies the path this band is treading. Not the kind of music that hits you straight away, but with repeated listens, reveals a mountain of musical treasures - one band that may spring to mind while listening to this track being Dream Theater. 'Nights Alone' does not stray too far away from the sound of the opener, although having said that, it does sound a touch heavier, but continuing to show the musical all round prowess of this band. The band sure do lay their cards on the table with the remaining songs, all Progressive Metal masterpieces, with the heavy sounding title track possibly edging it as my fave - awesome clean and harsh vocals. However, closer 'Twisted' which by the way is the shortest number on the record at just under 3 minutes, is to my ears the most commercial sounding track on the album. Arity's website is here. Worth checking out most certainly for fans of the genre.. 8.25/10 (Dave)

ARKONA...'STENKA NA STENKU' EP

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 14th May 2011

The beginnings of ARKONA date back to 2002, when members of local pagan community "Vyatichi", Masha "Scream" Arhipova and Alexander "Warlock" Korolyov, decided to form a band that mirrored their individual philosophy and musical tastes. The band, at the time still known as Hyperborea, comprised Masha "Scream" Arhipova (vocals), Eugene Knyazev (guitar), Eugene Borzov (bass), Ilya Bogatyryov (guitar), Alexander "Warlock" Korolyov (drums), and Olga Loginova (keyboard), but it wasn’t until February 2002 that ARKONA surfaced from the depths of Russia’s underground scene. Fast forward to 2011 and the band that continues to revolve around charismatic front lady Masha Scream, present the MCD 'Stenka Na Stenku'. This nearly 25 minute long offering includes a new track from the upcoming album, as well as 5 exclusive non-album tracks to wet your appetite. The opening number and title track delivers one of the band's most melodic and memorable tracks ever, while staying true to their highly acclaimed and expected trademark sound. The accoustic version of 'Goi, Rode, Goi' is an atmospheric number, that I can see in my mind being sang in front of the camp fire, being followed by the hideously catchy 'Skai' (featuring guest musician Freki of Germany's Varg) which should bring the headbanger out in many of us. Closer 'Noviy Mir' meanwhile, is fast becoming a fave of mine! This Russian band is highly original, highly special, a little different, and this 6 track EP is well worth checking out, 8.5/10 (Dave)

ARMENIA...'LOPSIDED MOON'

(Self Release) Reviewed 17th June 2015

There is not an awful lot of info on this band, but Armenia fronted by Armenia Sarkissian is based in Canada, and this is their debut six track EP that has recently dropped in. It is by and large a Symphonic Metal offering with smatterings of progressiveness thrown into the mix, and the emphasis on some tracks of some quite blistering orchestration. The opener 'My Own Self' is one track that showcases the aforementioned "blistering orchestration" and great vocals too from Armenia. 'Lidwina' opens up with an awesome and somewhat haunting choral passage and is yet another magical orchestrated offering on this record! And it does not stop there with 'Vapour' hitting the spot big time - damn awesome! 'Broken Chords' and 'Grounded By My Feet' are other beauties with further lush orchestrations, as is the epic 8 minute plus closing title track. 'Lopsided Moon' takes you on an epic journey through self-discovery, commenting on the fragility of the human condition. Using the balance of epic orchestrations, pounding rhythms, elegant vocal melodies, and soft lyrical interludes, an audible adventure will swiftly ensue. Check their bandcamp out at www.armenia4.bandcamp.com/album/lopsided-moon... recommended...8.75/10 (Dave)

ARMONIGHT..'SUFFERING AND PASSION'

(Self Released) Reviewed 30th June 2011

Armonight hail from Italy and is fronted by a lass who goes by the name of Sy. The music on offer on this superb little platter? Well if you like Within Temptation and Nightwish, this should go down a storm in your household. 10 tracks of hideously catchy melodic Symphonic Metal. Kicking off with 'Revenge', a brief intro, this then leads directly into 'Past Shadows' and that lays the cards on the table quite plainly. The music drives along very nicely indeed, with the keys a driving force amongst the songs on offer. Third track in, 'Free Spirits' is another melodic belter, and although Armonight can be compared to Nightwish et al, they do have a sound of their own, especially with Sy at the helm. There are a host of corking tunes here, particular faves being 'Yellow Flowers' and 'I Lost My Serenity', although they may change after future listens. This record is good, very good so check the band out at their myspace. One more thing - they tour here in August.....9/10 (Dave)

ARMONIGHT...'TALES FROM THE HEART'

(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 21st August 2012

Italians Armonight were born in 2007 from the idea of guitarist Lara to find a band to play her friend Fjord’s compositions, soon they were joined by seductive singer Sy to recorded their first full-length, ‘Suffering and Passion’, released in November 2010 to rave reviews from around the world. Their live appearances throughout Europe have brought them a legion of fans who have been so impressed with their professionalism, determination, dedication, talent and sheer class that takes them onto a higher plane, this is a band that has the courage and conviction to take their music out there into uncharted waters. Their British tours have certainly coloured this new album, they toured with Welsh rock band S.E.X. and their singer Phil Jones does a brief Richard Burton esque narration in the spooky intro ‘Into The Deepest Dreams’, and there are a lot of references to rain and the weather in the lyrics, with Sy even singing “On this bloody rainy day” like a true Brit. They have a universally attractive style that holds an original place between symphonic/gothic metal and melodic/gothic rock, mixing shimmering and crunchy guitars, appealing to a broad spectrum of fans of bands that range from The Mission to The Reasoning to Theatres Des Vampires to Delain. Sy has a unique slightly folk tinged voice that suits their music perfectly, powerful, strong or soft according to the mood of the song, with lashings of Lara's distinctive highly skilled guitar playing, and it's all brilliantly recorded in Fjord's studio. There is a beautiful blend of songs in this superbly constructed set, catchy driving rockers 'With You Knife' (video on Female Voices), 'Dancing With Ghosts' and the bouncing 'Rainy Days', dramatic dynamic numbers with a darker edge 'I Will Be There (... For You)' and 'Coraline', and powerful swaying ballads 'When You See Me Cry', 'Once More' and the poignant closer 'A Kiss in the Snow'. The old adage is that time flies when you're having fun, and the whole album is so cleverly put together it seems to be over in flash, despite being well over 40 minutes long. Armonight have produced a passionate album of captivating gothic tinged melodic rock/metal that will capture your heart. Their Facebook can be found here, a heartfelt 9.5/10 (Phil)

OCELYN and CHRIS ARNDT…’EDGES’

(Label pending) Reviewed 26th May 2016

Up and coming sibling duo Jocelyn and Chris Arndt: The soulful pair from Cambridge, MA (USA) recently released this their new album 'Edges'. Since Jocelyn and Chris began, their music has continued to grow and mature, the two truly showcase their ever-lasting talent in their new album. The pair has a lot more to offer than just devastatingly powerful vocals and retro-rock driven guitar, and it all comes to the fore on this release. This should be mainstream radio station stuff, Jocelyn’s powerful vocals are mind blowing, all this showcased in the quirky opener ‘Shame’, this being one of the three singles from the album. ‘Too Much To Me’ is the second track and was also released as a single. This being a slightly heavier tune, with a bluesy vibe, while next up ‘Where’s The Rain’ is a slower number, Jocelyn’s vocals totally suiting this style of music. ‘More Than I Say I Do’ is a rather nice laidback ballad and I do rather like the vibe this album gives me. The bluesy vibe returns with ‘Jagged’, and again those vocals are awesome! With the track ‘Hot’ we hit the halfway point of the album and although this cd may not be one for the metal heads out there, lovers of good Bluesy style and at times laidback Retro Rock should lap this one up. The second half of the album is equally as good with further standout cuts like the rocking ‘Cinderella’ and the rather nice ‘Cut The Chord’. With lyrics that run the gamut between vulnerable to all-out venomous, Jocelyn & Chris Arndt’s music has matured into what can only be described as a throwback to pure, album orienated rock. This is a good release with great musicianship and awesome vocals, check out their Facebook here… 8/10 (Dave)

ARSENIC UNBIRTHDAY...'RAVENS AND WRITING DESKS' EP

(Epictronic) Reviewed 8th January 2015

The interestingly monikered Arsenic Unbirthday come from Cagliari in Italy, and this is a rather good six track EP that has come our way. Formed some years ago by guitarist Nick Farlight and vocalist Mary Red Mallow, this is their first official worldwide release and quite a stonker it is too. Their sound is quite original, I suppose vocally reminding me a little of Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gathering). I would imagine that we could call this poisonous alternative rock. Despite the poison :), everything is rather good here, listen to the track 'Another Sin To Hide' as a powerful example - slow verse, powerful chorus, great vocals! Plenty of other goodies here so check out the cool opening track from the EP, 'My Enemy' here: www.soundcloud.com/arsenicunbirthday/my-enemy, recommended when it gets released end of March... 8.75/10 (Dave)

ARVEN...'BLACK IS THE COLOUR'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 30th July 2013

Arven hail from Germany and is mainly a girl band. I say mainly, as there so happens to be one male member, and he so happens to be the drummer. So to be a drummer positioned presumably behind all those lovely ladies, must make him a rather happy person, one would assume :) Together since 2007, Arven’s professionally educated musicians bring various influences to the music of the band. But above all they share a strong passion for melodic metal. Carina Hanselmann’s nightingale-like vocals are the priority for the band on this their second release, giving Arven its unique and rather fitting sound. All in all the sound comes across as powerful and dynamic, filled with all kinds of dreamful and catchy melodies. Heavy guitar-riffs, accompanied by a double-bass thunderstorm, and groovy head banging-parts are masterly combined with both orchestral and medieval instruments. There are 12 tracks on this offering - Melodic Metal with catchy Folk elements and occasional choral bits best sums it all up, and rather good it is too. Furthermore, Stefan Schmidt (Van Canto) did some guest vocals on the song 'The One for Me', great stuff adding a little variation to the mix. This is a feast for all who dig ear-catching, thunderous symphonic metal songs with a touch of Gothic and folk. Release date 23rd August - nearly 60 minutes of harmonious bliss on this the digipak version, which closes with two rather awesome laid back bonus tracks, so get it! 8.75/10 (Dave)

AS ANGELS BLEED...S/T

(Self Released) Reviewed 6th Sepember 2013

I am being sent some really good music just recently, but occasionally, a cd will come along and take my breath away. And this epic release from Aussie band As Angels Bleed has done just that. Recorded at Hells Gate Studios Sydney & Mixed by Mark Lewis and Eyal Levi at Audio Hammer Studios USA, this 9 track Gothic masterpiece, besides displaying thundering drums and searing guitars, also enlists the help of the Hells Gate symphonic Orchestra and the unholy voices of the Choir of the Dammed, not to mention the ethereal vocal of vampire artist Avelina De Moray. Regards the music on offer, let us take a mix of Within Temptation and Evanescence, ramp it up somewhat and then add a healthy dose of Mandragora Scream...okay, got the picture. This album should strictly speaking cause massive great tidal waves globally as it is simply breathtaking! I am not even sure where to start, but from track one through to track 9, the music is absolutely stunning! The band's website can be found at www.asangelsbleed.com/, and I want to close by saying that this is bombastic prime time Vampire infused Gothic Metal with huge doses of melody. I am loathe to score less than a ten..so it is a 10/10 (Dave)

ASHENTIDE..S/T EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 5th August 2011

Ashentide, fronted by Lenore Young is a symphonic metal band from Los Angeles, California and this is their 3 track debut 16+ minute EP, which hopefully will showcase what is to come should these guys and gals record a full length album. I say hopefully, as the three tracks here offer up a cool dose of Melodic Symphonic Metal in the style of Nightwish and the like, and I would love to hear more from this band as and when. Mainland Europe would love Ashentide, and so do I. Their Facebook is here and the music can be purchased from cdbaby. Check them out..8.75/10 (Dave)

ASHES TO ASHES...'BORDERLINE'

(Underground Symphony) Reviewed 16th October 2013

Italian band Ashes To Ashes started in 2010 and chose the name from the song by David Bowie. They are fronted by Marta "Polverina" Vassallo who not only sings like an angel, she can growl like a demented honey monster as well - great stuff! The band here churn out 11 tracks of catchy melodic music which at times reminds me of Paramore/Flyleaf on the tracks, 'Ballad Of The Wolf', 'Paradox of Perfection' and 'Empty Bottles and Tears', to name just three, and in their heavier moments, the vocals of Marta are more akin to those of Angel Gossow of Arch Enemy fame. I must say I have taken a liking to the track 'Change' with it's ripples of synths within the number and the track 'Vain' that is a slower number that explodes into a monster melodic song - hit single material surely!. The closer 'Home' is rather nice too - an acoustic led ballad. Drawing comparisons from bands like Evanescence, Avenged Sevenfold, Paramore, Arch Enemy, In This Moment and Flyleaf amongst many others, this is a rather good effort from this band and I highly recommended the record to the punters who like the aforementioned bands. Their Facebook is here.. 8.5/10 (Dave)

ASHES TO ASHES…’URANIA’

(WormholeDeath) Reviewed 22nd October 2015

Ashes To Ashes is an alternative Metal band founded in Genova, Italy in 2010 by MARTA VASSALLO (pianist/vocalist), PAOLO SCHIAVI (lead guitarist) and PAOLO DI LORENZO (drummer). The progress of the band was slowed because of finding the definitive line up. But when ENRICO CABONA (second guitar) and Simone Moi (bass and vocals) joined the band, they were ready to start. In June 2013, they released their debut 'Borderline', and now in 2015, we have been presented with this, their latest recording 'Urania'. The record features eleven tracks of pounding Melodic/Alternative Metal with catchy choruses like on the number ‘Once Upon A Time’, and we get not only the awesome clean vocals of Marta, she can let rip with growls that appear on the tracks ‘The Forgiveness Song ‘ and ‘Mother of Grace’ – and yes, it is Marta’s growls! The album closes with the awesome ballad ‘Just Daydreaming’, and ends what is a rather good long player. The band’s website is here…9/10 (Dave)

ASHES YOU LEAVE..'SONGS OF THE LOST'

(Sleaszy Rider) Reviewed 13th January 2011

This Croatian band band fronted by singer and keyboardist Tamara Mulaosmanovic and guitarist and vocalist Berislav Poje were formed way back in 1995. Although they started as a death/doom unit they now produce classic gothic metal that's towards the lighter end of the spectrum, and despite the doom tag attached to them, they are not afraid to kick on and liven up. The majestic slower number 'Stranded' is balanced by the up-tempo catchy rocker 'Apathy Overdose', while 'The Song of the Lost' and 'Taints' start slowly and gently but then really pick up the pace. 'The Feast' begins with dramatic piano and a most unusual syncopated guitar riff that teases the time signature, this is another song that builds up momentum, heading into Delain territory. On the other hand, the mid-tempo 'Losing Fate' and 'Where the Pain Is' have a deep mournful beauty without getting maudlin, heightened by Marta Batinic's plaintive violin. Tamara's lovely voice is accompanied by occasional deep growls that do the job of accentuating the music rather than taking over. It would be interesting to know how many listeners bands like Battlelore and Epica lose due to the extensive use of growling compared to how many they gain. I suspect on balance they lose a great many, everyone likes singing, but according to surveys most people cannot tolerate growling, would Within Temptation have hit the big time if they had kept the growling, probably not. Returning to the matter in hand, Ashes keep it well within my personal 'anti-growler' tolerance level. I have learned to be suspicious of the doom tag, some bands really are doom, but many like Ashes have other sides to their character, producing well balanced albums with a range of tempos and moods, mood is after all the opposite of doom. This is top quality gothic metal, well produced by a very professional band available through www.myspace.com/ashesyouleaveband, a profound 8.5/10 (Phil)

ASHES YOU LEAVE...'THE CURE FOR HAPPINESS'

(Rock'n'Growl Records) Reviewed 3rd November 2012

When Ashes You Leave was formed back in ’95, all the odds were against them. Back in those days, dreaming about music success in war torn Croatia was just one step away from being classified as a total lunatic. A few young doom metal fans had a different idea however, and they actually decided to beat the odds and formed what later became the biggest Croatian metal band of all time - Ashes You Leave. Fast forward to the back end of 2012 and the band’s 6th album, 'The Cure for Happiness', is scheduled for release, and the record will see the enchanting Ms. Giada “Jade” Etro behind the microphone. This mesmerizing and amazingly talented singer comes from Italy and this will be her first release as a lead singer of this awesome band. And a very good release it is too. The opener 'Devil In Disguise' is a belter and showcases rather well the new vocalist's style, while the grunts of Bero first appear towards the end of the second track 'Only Ashes You Leave'. Indeed, there is quite a cool melodic undercurrent running through this record with the grunts tending to be kept to a minimum for much of the album. 'For The Heart, Soul and Mind' is another cool melodic number, and indeed, although classed as Doom, this record mixes some decent Gothiness into the mix as well, possibly appealing not only to those Doom merchants out there, but perhaps also to those people that like their music a little more melodic and tuneful. Other standout numbers include the stomping 'Meant To Stray', the commercial sounding 'Summer's End', and the progressive and heavy 'Reality Sad'. Check the band's website here, and I can safely say that this album is well done and is a satisfying release - due Nov 29th... 8.75/10 (Dave)

ASRAI..'PEARLS IN DIRT'

(Seasons Of Mist) Reviewed 1st December 2007

Asrai are Dutch. As I have said before, Holland seems to be the Mecca of gothic rock and metal music. This effort by Asrai is stunning. And the image this band portray as a unit is equally as stunning. 'Pearls in Dirt' is Asrai's third cd (they appeared on the scene in 1985) - kicking off with 'Delilah's Lie', this album carries on the way it starts, with some kick ass gothic metal tunes. There are faves here on this album, quite a few actually, but I do particularly like the rocky 'Go' and the equally awesome single 'Sour Ground'. As stated on the cd cover, this will appeal to fans of Evanescence, Within Temptation and Siouxsie and the Banshees. About right in my book too. Excellent stuff indeed!! 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Dave).

ASRAI...'BETWEEN DREAMS AND DESTINY' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 28th August 2013

Asrai have released three full length albums in the past, and now they present us with this EP featuring some rather cool and catchy Gothic Metal tunes. Hailing from Holland, one would expect this release to be good, and yep, that sure is the case. Fronted by Margriet Mol with jolly good tub thumper and sister Karin on drums, this band sure do belt out the six numbers that make up this EP. To be perfectly honest, 'Between Dreams And Destiny' is right up my alleyway, and all the numbers are up tempo melodic Gothic belters. And closing track 'Stone Cold' which is a Grendel remix of the opener, will have you on the dance floor in no time at all. Check their website out here, this is rather good!...8.75/10 (Dave)

ASTRAY PATH..'DESERT'

(Heckmann Sounds) Reviewed 19th April 2012

Astray Path from Ulm in Germany were founded in 2003 and have released two albums, Follow The Path in 2006 and the The Hidden Line in 2008, now they are pleased to present their new album Desert. Their hugely appealing music is very hard to define, it's classical piano inspired, sometimes folk tinged, light, lyrical, lilting melodic gothic rock/metal, treading their own astray path between bands like Keys of the Light, Lyriel, Elane, Rick Wakeman and Renaissance. Perfectly in harmony are the two founder members, captivating Kathrin Kaifel with her light operatic voice and main composer Simon Kaifel with his outstanding rippling melodic piano playing, forming the core elements of their songs. After the mystical instrumental introduction 'Breeze Over Dunes' comes the rocking 'The Call' in which Kathrin sings “He hears the call of a foreign land. Listening to the words of this catchy band”, which perfectly sums up this album as they take you on a most enjoyable journey to faraway places accompanied by Niklas Mühlich's brief poetic narrations. The three other three enormously attractive numbers 'Hate', 'An Empty Shell' and 'Endless Sleep' are set around the two epics, the Arabian flavoured title track 'Desert' and and the remarkable multi faceted 'Night' with it's haunting 'Sunset' prelude featuring ethereal didgeridoo. There are two songs in German, the folky 'Körperklau' in the middle which reminds me of 'Scarborough Fair', and the beautiful piano ballad 'Stell Dir Vor' (Just Imagine) with Kathrin's voice lowered to a hushed whisper by the end, totally enchanting. I'm not surprised they live in a town with 120 days of fog, there is a stillness and beauty to their music that is most delightful and refreshing with the lyrics having that atmospheric air of mystery and melancholy. It's all enhanced by the subtle clear sound from producer and guitarist Elmar Heckmann and mixer Manu Staib, there's not many albums where you can hear a whisper, less can be more. If like me you enjoy beautifully crafted light classical rock/metal, take the path without being led astray to their website www.astray-path.de/, a most delightful 8.75 /10 (Phil)

AS WINTER FALLS..'ROAD TO NOWHERE' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 9th April 2012

In 2008, Slovenian Band As Winter Falls was nothing but a small project. A project that brought old dusty songs from the attic back to life in a new modern suit. At that time, As Winter Falls consisted of two music addicts who wanted their ideas, lyrics and music to be heard. Fast forward to 2011 and the band hit the studio with four songs, and these songs now form the current EP, that has just been released as a physical cd, and is also available via their official website (www.aswinterfalls.com/about_us/). The band is fronted by Jasmina Lozar, whose vocal prowess is more from the school of modern rock, so you will not find any operatic shenanigans here. Track one is an instrumental intro that is then followed by four vocal tracks. The intro offers up an atmospheric electro/orchestral piece of near film score proportions to proceedings, before 'What Lies Beneath' kicks out of the speakers. A great mid paced orchestrated rocker with an awesome chorus, and great all round musicianship. 'Just Follow' is another great number with dual male/female vocals, this track taking on a more Modern Rock feel but still awesomely melodic. There is a slower number, 'Lifetime' is that song, a totally beautiful piano led and well orchestrated ballad, while closer, the catchy 'Road To Nowhere' ups the pace again, and closes the EP on a splendid note, showcasing the cool vocals of Jasmina in the process. When an EP is that good, they always seem to end just when you are wanting more. This is one such record. This band is gonna be going places...check them out... 8.75/10 (Dave)

ASYLUM ESCAPE...'EVEN IF I'M BROKEN'

(Crysella Records) Reviewed 22nd January 2015

Crysella Records seem to be picking up on bands from The Philippines and this is the second such release that has beeen reviewed on these very pages, HIGH IN MIST being reviewed earlier in the month. Okay, this latest offering that has come our way via Crysella from the band Asylum Escape fronted by Deda Von Miseria, to be honest ain't bad, although the band has a way to go before it reaches the quality of its European counterparts. This is a six track EP of Gothic Rock/Metal, and the band has to be admired for giving it a go, in a country that does not really have a reputation for producing fine Gothic Bands. The tracks here are of average quality, but I have a feeling this band kick ass live. The quality on this release is consistent, but nothing really reaches out and grabs you. However, having said that, they do a rather reasonable cover of the song 'Something' by The Beatles. A brave attempt and a good one too. Check the band out here, an interesting album... 7.75/10 (The Nugget)

ASYLUM PYRE..'NATURAL INSTINCT'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 12th November 2009

Mixing influences and styles from Speed Metal thro Neo Classical to Progressive, passing through Lyrical or ambient metal along the way, Asylum Pyre draws elements from multiple genres so as to create its own identity. This band's trademark is to build songs around catchy melodies and rhythm breaks, that alternate quiet parts and powerful tempos. Utlilising the voices of Carole and Johann, this is a very impressive debut release. Carole's vocals range from 'normal' to operatic, while the male vocals are by and large clean. The album offers up some spoken passages too, this is immediately apparent from the opener 'Taken Away To The Asylum'. 'Coral's Riff (Now Hell)' has a beautiful instrumental passage half way through, that sent the hairs on the back of my neck on their end. Kinda Pink Floydish - great keys and guitar! 'Don't Waste It' is one of my fave tracks clocking in at over 7 mins. A beautiful track and a great intro aswell! This release has eveything, and I must say that there is some strong stuff coming out of France at the moment. This is most certainly one of them and is well worth spending your money on. A powerful and beautiful album. Check Asylum Pyre out at www.myspace.com/asylumpyre 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

ASYLUM PYRE...'FIFTY YEARS LATER'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 3rd November 2012

A record occasionally comes along that blows my mind. Well this is one of those recordings! Mixing influences and styles, French band Asylum Pyre can't be shut in a closed and predefined universe. From Speed Metal to Progressive, passing through lyrical or ambient metal, Asylum Pyre draws elements from multiple genres so as to create its own identity. This band's trademark is to build songs around catchy melodies and rhythms that alternate quiet parts and powerful tempos. All the tracks are well thought out and offer a succession of simple and complex parts, where melodies and lyrics, sung by the voices of Chaos Heidi and Johann, carry messages full of meaning all the way through. Indeed, the album is almost a concept album as most of the songs tackle the same subjects and follow an evolution...From the failure of the conference of Copenhagen, to the total destruction (Fifty years later) through : - the will to fight for the earth (These Trees, Against the sand), - doubts (The Frozen Will), - people who watch without doing anything (The Herd) - the first to fall (Fisherman's day), - existential questions (Any hypothesis) - and the killing of ecologists (Just Before The Silence). There are some great catchy melodic rockers here? - listen to the aforementioned 'Dead In Copenhagen', 'These Trees' and 'Against The Sand'. We have Power mixed with the Progressive? - 'The Frozen Will' and 'The Herd' as examples. Things slow down too - the beautiful 'Fisherman's Day' having a Celtic/Folky feel about it. And I also want to add that the last three tracks on this record span almost 22 minutes, the 9 + min 'Any Hypothesis' being a totally cool quirky Progressive number, with a cool acoustic interlude, while 'Just Before The Silence' hits Power Metal territory coupled with cool keys. Closer, the title track is an overwhelming Power Ballad, complete with a choir towards the end running in at 7 + mins, and this is currently one of my fave tracks of the year, period!!. This is the band's second release if I am correct, their debut was released independently and I considered it a powerful and beautiful album, this is even better having been picked up by Massacre Records! Like any good concept album, it has twists and turns that will keep your ears glued to the cd player until you hit the repeat button. It is due December 7th so check it out when it appears, you will not be disappointed - damn frikin' good if I may say so!! ...9.5/10 (Dave)

ASYLUM PYRE…’SPIRITED AWAY’

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 6th October 2015

Asylum Pyre fronted by Chaos Heidi, come from France in case one has been living in a cave for the past few years and are out of touch. And this band has the uncanny ability to not only release albums that are consistently good, they seem to also have the ability to write a catchy tune or two. And on this their latest and third album, they prove just that. We have thirteen tracks here of melodic and hideously catchy metal within a record that lyrically deals with the human spirit and its twists and turns, which is musically emphasized by both female and male vocals (courtesy of guitarist Johann Cadot). ‘Spirited Away' focuses on catchy and powerful songs, everyone a total gem including tracks like the album opener ’Second Shadow’ the heavy but electro infused ’Only Your Soul’, the superbly tuneful and bouncy ’Unplug My Brain’ with its catchy chorus and the epic 7 minute plus and rather awesome ’Soulburst’ - the album incorporating electro elements while reinforcing the organic sound of the instruments. And let us make a mention of the pen ultimate track ‘Remembering’ - 22 seconds of silence. Overall, expect a mix of European and American metal, which consequently is very good and well recommended when released on 23rd October… 9/10 (Dave).