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Ravenheart Reviews: Archived

Reviews A Cont (7)

AT THE LAKE..'MAYA'

(Self Release) Reviewed 27th January 2012

Polish band At the Lake have a long history, but after a flurry of activity in the mid noughties when they released an extended EP, they suffered choppy waters and fell off the radar. Now they are back with a vengeance with this début LP, which gets it's name from the Mayan legend that the world will end in 2012, so I'm off to party party party! Musically obvious references are Mother Earth era Within Temptation, Lyriel and Elane, light symphonic gothic rock/metal with folk flourishes, but they have two magic ingredients that gives them a whole new dimension. Firstly scintillating singer Natalia Sikora has a stupendous rich powerful deep bluesy expressive rock voice that gives the songs mass appeal. In perfect harmony is vivacious violinist Milena Gaworek's songwriting which is incredibly catchy, inspiring, melodic and commercial, and she is the only specialist violinist who does not play other instruments or sing lead that I can think of who is also a songwriter, I guess she must also be able play guitar or keys because I would have thought it was impossible to write songs on a monophonic (one note) instrument because all songs have a chord structure, interesting. After a melodramatic instrumental intro comes the galloping 'Live Again' which almost heads towards Wildpath, then the jig infused fiery 'Forget' and the dramatic stomping 'Like a Northern Wind'. The next two are absolutely outstanding and infectious songs that really bounce along, 'The Spring of Forgiveness' and 'Running Out of Time', featuring their unique choir vocals that are so effective throughout the album, perhaps a little like Sirenia's. The next two are more Elane esque, the mellow 'Neverland Train' and the rousing 'The Perfect Man', and it ends with the 9 minute moody magnificent epic 'Karma' which features the Vedic Hindu 'Gayatri Mantra'. You also get a couple of bonus tracks for you hard earned cash, a thumping version of Rammstein's 'Sonne' which comes as quite a shock after the calming 'Karma', and a song in their native Polish, 'Dziecko we Mgle' (Child in the Mist). It's all splendidly produced by Jacek Melnicki, a former member of top Polish prog band Riverside, with a lightness of touch that gives plenty of space for Milena's violin, Anna's keyboards and Krzysztof's various electric and acoustic guitars. Normally European gothic metal has connotations with doom and gloom, but Natalia's vocals and Milena's songwriting produce an effervescent album that combines deep meaningful lyrics with lively upbeat music, most unusual. Take a swim to their lake at here and sail away with this beauty, an inspiring 9.25/10 (Phil)

ATARGATIS..'NOVA'

(Massacre) Reviewed 19th December 2007

Atargatis have hit the spot with this release, their second in the musical career of this band. This is epic gothic symphonic metal, that will appeal to any fans of the genre. I must say however, that Stepanie Lutzie's nasally twanged vocals do take a little getting used too, but apart from that, this is a strong effort indeed. Some interesting gothic metal on offer, with my faves being 'Riven' (a hit single if ever I heard one), 'Stars Are Falling', 'Green Lake's Ground', 'Fever Of Temptation' and 'When The Ice Breaks'. Meanwhile, another fave, 'The Marching Of The Fey' seems like a good old patriotic German marching song, quite catchy in-fact. I would recommend buying the digipack. The two bonus tracks are worthy of the purchase price alone. I must admit that their previous release, 'Wasteland' didn't quite cut it with me. This release does though! 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave).

ATOMIC SYMPHONY...'REDEMPTION'

(Self Release) Reviewed 4th October 2015

Wetzikon is a small town in the Zurich Highlands area of Switzerland, in the district of Hinwil in the canton of Zürich. Okay, enough of the geography, so what about it then? Well it so happens to be the home of Swiss Melodic Progressive Metal merchants Atomic Symphony. This is their debut record released three weeks or so ago, and there are nine tracks of Melodic Metal with a strong progressive undercurrent. Great vocals from Jasmin Baggenstos, awesome use of keys throughout, in-fact a sterling performance from the band in general. This very well crafted masterpiece of an album has it all, just listen to second track 'Abyss' as an example, heavy, progressive but with one helluva chorus! Then we have the ballad ‘Face The Evil’ - awesome! Indeed, every track on this record is a progressive gem and as a consequence, I would say that this band has got what it takes to progress further on this showing - and support slots with stalwarts like Dream Theater or Threshold, why not? Their Facebook is here, the album being well worth checking out... 8.75/10 (Dave)

ATRIELL...'TALE OF THE DRAGON CLAW'

(Amadea Music) Reviewed 15th August 2016

Atriell is a Symphonic Metal project from Bulgaria, composed by Hristo Manolov and based on the author’s fantasy tales. The concept follows a comprehensive story with unique lyrics, orchestral themes, cool operatic vocals (courtesy of Norra Morrel), edgy guitars and cinematic soundscapes. There are nine tracks of tried and tested Symphonic Metal, but it is rather good nonetheless and is well worth checking out for fans of this style of music. There are some epic tracks too – check out the awesome 8 minute plus ‘Love and Hatred’. In summary, join the world of dragons, swords and magic, love and hatred, warriors and battles, well why not? The band’s Facebook is here… 8.25/10 (Dave)

ATROCITY feat YASMIN..'AFTER THE STORM'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 3rd August 2010

Death/Gothic Metal Band Atrocity is one of Germany's most successful metal bands, also being one of the most diverse bands in metal. This latest album, featuring Yasmin (sister of front man Alexander) is awesome stuff. Okay it is different, but I would go as far as to say that this is a lovely record. Yasmin's vocals are awesome, listen to the opener, ' A New Arrival' as an example, while further on, 'Black Mountain' and the cool 'Transilvania' deliver some metal to proceedings, more especially on 'Black Mountain' with Alexander's familiar vocal style. It is interesting to note that all instruments were performed live on this record, and the ample percussion allows for a tapestry of complimentary rhythms coupled with driving and tribal like beats, these mixing with string instrumentation, therefore offering plenty of atmosphere. And the sensitive and skilful mixing & mastering of this record keeps the vocals well and truly alive. I must say that these singing siblings sure have it nailed with this release. Very interesting and worthy of a 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

AUBURN...'INDIAN SUMMER'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 25th April 2012

Auburn is a UK electro-acoustic ensemble featuring singer songwriter Liz Lenten. The band has re united after a 10 year hiatus, and this is the group's new cd, featuring 10 tracks of laid back music mixing up-beat and slower tempo electro-acoustic pop, but borrowing from the roots, country and blues genres, even throwing into the mix a touch of reggae too. Liz has a rather sweet innocent voice with varied musical influences from artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Billie Holliday, Rikki Lee Jones, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin and Kate Bush to name just a few. The bluesy sounding title track one can imagine being sung in a smokey bar, but we don't have any of those over here anymore. Then we have the rather nice 'Free Spirit' with it's rich cello lines, a song that I seemed to have heard somewhere else before. There is the reggae sounding 'Day Dreamin'', while 'Only You' is the fave for me on this cd. This is not one for the rock or metal freaks out there in music land, but 'Indian Summer' offers up some nice laid back music nonetheless, for those quiet nights in, with each song telling it's own story. An easy listening, inspirational and a rather relaxing 7.75/10 (Dave)

AUBURN...'NASHVILLE'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 9th December 2013

An interesting cd we have here from a band called Auburn. After almost a decade apart, they reformed in 2011 and the following year they delivered the album 'Indian Summer' (reviewed by us in April 2012). The acoustic 'Nashville' is their follow up to that cd with Liz Lenten remaining as their lynch pin singer/songwriter. For those that may be familiar with Liz, they will know that this is not a metal album, but if you want an album that delivers laid back music in a kinda pop, bluesy, country style, then this cd will be of interest. I rather like it to be honest, with the country feel of 'Hurting' and 'Maybe Tonight', the poppy bouncy feel of 'Crazy People', the laid back and rather nice 'Pride is a Thief' and the bluesy 'Full To The Brim'. Having toured with the likes of Jefferson Starship, the late Roy Orbison, Garth Brooks and even Dolly Parton, Auburn have cemented their place within the genre with this album. And they will even be touring the UK with Jefferson Starship once again in the new year to support this album, that gets released here on the 27th January. A relaxing and refined listen from a band fronted by a very talented lady... 8/10 (Dave)

AUBURN…’MIXED FEELINGS’

(Bat Country Records/Scarlet Records) Reviewed 19th October 2015

I love something a little different and here is the latest release from UK artist Liz Lenten and her band Auburn. This is a lovely slab of laid back acoustic based music to listen too after a hard day at the office! Liz’s voice has been described as “so sweet it’ll make your hair curl” and “husky with an emotional frailty”, and that sums it up rather nicely. There are 12 tracks here with influences that include among others a unique blend of Americana Blues and Roots music, this being written by Liz over a two month period on a vintage Martin guitar called Rosie, that she ‘stole’ from her good friend and sound engineer Justin. ‘Mixed Feelings’ was recorded in Nashville, like the band’s previous appropriately titled recording ‘Nashville’, and is a strong album covering all the usual emotional issues - love, loss, domestic abuse and manslaughter, confusion, trust, friendship etc etc. To be honest, I am personally enjoying listening to this cd, with fave tracks being the bluesy opener and title track ‘Mixed Feelings‘, the beautiful ‘Lovers Lullaby’ and the country feel of ‘Out There’. Each song on this long player tells their own little story and I wholeheartedly recommend this album, Liz I believe to be on a par with other artists within this genre of music and as a consequence, should be recognised as such. Check out the band's website at www.auburn.org.uk..8.25/10 (Dave)

AURADRONE..'WHITELITE, BRITELITE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 17th December 2010

Jon Mac is a gorgeous actress model and musician whose been in lots of horror films such as 'Saw VI' (a cutting edge film), 'Camel Spiders' (they give you the hump) and 'Mongolian Death Worm'(an underground movie), who on earth comes up with this stuff? However, she is a also a bona fide musician and this is her début album with her project Auradrone. I have been wrestling for days to properly describe her music, there's elements of industrial, electronica, rock, space prog, trip hop, and pop, making it a real doozy to pin her down accurately. After a darn good ponder, here's a brief run through - opener 'Auto Erotic' strutting space rock (video on Female Voices Blog), 'Appetite' driving and rocking new wave with an insistent beat, 'Dark Matter' mellow electronica with some jazzy trumpet, 'Last Nerve' alt rock and pop-rock but it goes through different moods including a spot of Eastern, and 'Indigo Child' industrial groove. Quick cup of tea and another good head scratch, and then onto the second half. 'Petit Mort' alt-rock exotica, 'A Channel' soothing, swaying and swelling, 'Vessel' eerie, proggy and trippy, 'Semantix' thumping and anthemic, and 'Just Outside' dreamy. It is all sung in her breathy almost whispering and rather sex voice. If you like electronic rock or fancy something different then this is easily available without having to battle giant worms at CD Baby and her Myspace is www.myspace.com/auradrone, a fascinating 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

AUSPEX..'RESOLUTION'

(Thundering Records) Reviewed 26th October 2009

The French certainly love their symphonic speed metal Fairyland, Kerion, Wildpath, etc. Auspex was founded back in 2001, and this is their debut full length CD. Elodie Buchonnet has got a powerful, versatile voice, which easily rises above the music. After the intro, there are eight epics on this album, full of great singing, choirs, spoken orations, guitar and synthesizer solos, instrumental passages, and real diversity as they move from light to heavy. There is more packed into one song than most bands manage in a whole album. They are really absorbing and fascinating to listen to, something new, different, and delightful is always just around the corner. Highlights include ‘Theatre of Pain’, the lovely melody of ‘Mysteries of Stars’, ‘Celestia’, and the closing 10 minute epic ‘Rise’. Excellent production, real variety and skilled drumming means that they avoid the overuse of tiresome double bass drum pounding that obliterates the music of some of their peers. The musicianship is outstanding, especially Frederic Hugenell’s lightning drumming, and Pierre Yves Brun’s use of synths, piano, organ and harpsichord. This is a must for fans not only of bands like Rhapsody and Fairyland, but, thanks to that diversity, to fans of symphonic metal in general. Available on their Myspace site,
www.myspace.com/auspexmusic 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

AUSPEX..'HELIOPAUSE'

(Pervade Production) Reviewed 16th October 2010

I was mightily impressed with their opening gambit Resolutio so I was keen to get this brand new opus spinning. This is the music the French specialise in, speedy, light, fluttering symphonic metal a la Wildpath and Kerion. Elodie has a voice that reminds me of the Spanish Queen of power metal, Elisa C. Martin (Dark Moor, Fairyland, Hamka, Dreamaker), but with a delightful French vibrato. Apparently The Heliopause is the point where the interstellar medium and solar wind pressures balance, seems clear to me, I think, herr humm. The six main epics constantly swirl and eddy between fast and slow, light and heavy, simple and complex, with the proverbial kitchen sink thrown in for good measure, making it at first a head spinning listening experience. Yes folks, there’s a hell of a lot going on, sometimes all at the same time, expect anything and everything from power metal to quiet classical to symphonic to prog to blues to goodness knows what. In fact, this is far more cerebral than sword waving, the introduction ‘Electric Sheep’ showing we are not heading into a land of knights and evil wizards, this is far more ‘out there’, or as Spock would understate, ‘interesting’. They shake things up with the two shorter songs in the middle. ‘Setsunaki’ is a gentle number in Japanese offering a break from the maelstrom. This is followed by the raving mad but brilliant ‘0-1-0-1 (and so on)’ which sounds like nothing on earth. The final number confusingly shares it title with their debut album ‘Resolutio’ and is another song in Japanese, a nation who love this sort of metal so it’s probably a wise move by the Frenchmen/woman. This is perhaps an album for the more advanced astronauts of speedy symphonic metal, but if you enjoyed Wildpath and Kerion then make this your next mission. An out of this world 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

AUTO-DE-FE..'ELEMENT'

(Irond) Reviewed 10th December 2010

Irond must be Russia's answer to Napalm with their extensive roster of cracking metal bands, with Auto-De-Fe being one of the latest. Auto-De-Fe is Spanish for Act of Faith, it was the ritual punishment laid down by the Spanish Inquisition for heresy in the late Middle Ages, which normally entailed being burned alive at the stake. Despite their morbid name I would call this more stately gothic symphonic metal rather than the depressive heaviness of traditional doom, which normally sounds like a bunch of beginners learning Black Sabbath, i.e. very slow, very bad, and played brain crushingly loud to cover up the shortcomings. If Within Temptation had increased the symphonic elements but not the tempo of Enter, then this is how they might sound. Delectable Ekaterina "Kation" Ionova has a divine operatic voice that caresses your ears like a warm, soft ocean breeze. Cropping up here and there is Igor "Antagor" Vityugov, one of those subsonic Russian growlers whose frequencies are so low you don't hear him through your ears but feel it rumbling through your bottom. Lyrics are in Russian but I hardly noticed, it is more about the the sound and emotion of the voices (English translations are used for simplicity). I find their music quite mesmerising, taking you away on a sea of tranquillity as it rises and falls like the waves on the cover picture, calming without getting boring thanks to their subtle variations in pace and power. You get seven melancholic epics weighing in at over 50 minutes, highlights include the mighty opening track 'Dreams' (live video on Female Voices Blog) which has an ecclesiastical choral feel, 'Fear' is like being lost in the Sahara Desert, and the mesmerising waltz 'Height' that undulates in power with a terrific guitar refrain. A little more variation wouldn't have gone amiss towards the end, the track 'Auto-De-Fe' is a dead ringer for 'Dreams', but If you like your music deep but not too mournful then you will be in your element. They can be found at www.myspace.com/autodefedoom (copies available on Ebay), I'm moved to give it 8/10 (Reviewed by Phil).

AUTUMN..'MY NEW TIME'

(Metal Blade) Reviewed 5th June 2007

This is an amazing album. Will be BIG on the European mainland no doubt, while criminally ignored here in the UK. This is the band's third offering, although I admit not to be familiar with their earlier releases. Kicking off with the ultra catchy 'Satellites', followed by the awesome 'Closest Friends Conspire', it is obvious we have a hell of an album on our hands here. And Nienke de Jong's voice is quite soulful (not operatic!), which makes the cd a joy to behold. Just listen to the closing track 'Epilogue (What's Done Is Done)' for confirmation of this. 'My New Time' also has subtle progressive elements running through it, which cannot be a bad thing. This is a very good gothic prog metal cd, and at times it is quite beautiful too!. Within Temptation had better just look over their shoulders, as fellow Dutch rockers Autumn are coming up on the rails. A fine effort indeed! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

AUTUMN..'ALTITUDE'

(Metal Blade Records) Reviewed 18th January 2010 (Re-review)

I have already reviewed this cd earlier in 2009, but the review has kinda gone 'missing' from the website. And it seems that my partner in crime Aimee may have deleted it by mistake so she tells me. So lets try again!! Basically, what a corker we have here, and featuring new vocalist Marjan Welman. I will not hide the fact that Autumn are a fave band of mine, and I now have all their albums, including the near impossible to get hold of debut 'When Love Evokes The Curse'. 'Altitude' carries on the good work of their previous outing 'My New Time', with some hard rocking and at times gothy tunes, that to my ears makes this band one of the best on the European music scene. Kicking off with 'Paradise Nox' this really sets the scene as to what to expect on this hard rocking album, and is possibly one of the best songs Autumn has ever recorded. Marjan's vocals are so awesome, and the band has sure found the right match for their gothic metal style. The ballads are cool too, check out 'Synchro-Minds'. This is a very good album, and Autumn has sure been promoted to the Premier League with this release. Great stuff! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

AUTUMN..'COLD COMFORT'

(Metal Blade Records) Reviewed 11th November 2011

Dutch heavy rock collective Autumn make a return to the front line this November with their new album, Cold Comfort. This is the band's fifth full-length effort (their third for Metal Blade Records), and I have every single one of them! It offers a collection of nine striking songs blended into a diverse and yet surprisingly compact album, one that Autumn considers to be their most personal and meaningful to date. While Autumn's roots remain firmly planted in heavy rock/guitar-oriented soil, their branches are stretching out to encompass more progressive musical genres, and alternative approaches to the sound of individual songs. In other words, and despite the label that has released this record, this is not Heavy Metal. However, the tracks still carry some gutso to them, with the opener 'The Scarecrow' starting quietly before the downtuned (that's right) guitars kick in accompanied with the beautiful vocals of Marjan, whose voice has to be the highlight of this album. Indeed, at times, I am almost reminded of a grunge guitar sound here to be perfectly honest, more apparent on closer 'The Venamoured' (a fave track of mine). As mentioned above though, the band does seem to have stretched out to embrace a more progressive and experimental sound on this record. Further fave tracks for me have to be the aforementioned opener, the hard rocking 'Black Stars In A Blue Sky', the catchy & progressive 'Retrospect' and the up tempo 'Naeon'. The thing with Autumn is they have developed a sound of their own, and that is what to me makes them stand out from the female fronted crowd. An excellent offering here, well worth checking out and it should be fairly easy to obtain from the normal sources... 8.75/10 (Dave)