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EIGENSINN…’PERSONA NON GRATA’

(Pride & Joy) Reviewed 27th October 2017

Eigensinn hail from Germany and this album offers 10 tracks of metal with strong industrial influences. Sung mainly in German there are a couple of tracks sung in English and as a whole, this record is awesome. Kicking off with ‘Zombie’ this track gives you an indication as to what to expect on the album, an absolute belter in-fact from beginning to end! Second track in is the title track and if you thought the first cut was a belter, take a listen to this one! There are further awesome tracks on the album including the English offerings, ‘My Emptiness’ and 'Scratching’. I whole heartedly recommend this album when released on the 1st December… 8.5/10 (Dave)

EVEN VAST...'DAWNING GLOOM'

(Digital: H-SoundMusic Records/CD:Sleasy Rider Records) Reviewed 10th October 2017

Originally recorded in 2000 featuring Antonietta Scilipoti on vocals, this is a 6 track melodic Doom/Gothic album that I found rather enjoyable. I am not sure regards the politics of this record, but 'Dawning Gloom' was supposed to have been released by Ars Metalli in 2000. However, after a hiatus of 17 years, H-SoundMusic Records finally release the songs and we have the album here. The band has a different line up now (guy fronted too), but by and large, this recording from 2000 is well worth checking out - angelic female vocals with no doomy growls. All slow to mid tempo stuff and if you are a fan of both Gothic and Doom metal, this in my opinion will be well worth parting with your hard earned cash...8.5/10 (Dave)

EDGE OF PARADISE...'ALIVE' EP

(ILS/Universal -Pure Steel Records) Reviewed 15th September 2017

With the solid line up that consists of Margarita Monet -vocals, Dave Bates-guitars, Nick Ericson-bass, John Chominsky-drums, Los Angeles based EDGE OF PARADISE has recently released this 5 track EP. Margarita's stunning, sultry sexy vocals add an edge to the music that is damn cool. Let us call it Melodic Alternative Metal (that word 'melodic' crops up again) - five magical tracks that will sure propel this band into the Premier League of Female Fronted Metal if they are not already there. Everything here hits the spot on this EP. If you are not familiar with this band, check this EP out, and then go and purchase their two previous full length albums. Highly recommended...9/10 (Dave)

FLYNN EFFECT...'OBSIDIAN'

(Self Release) Reviewed 6th September 2017

The Flynn Effect is an awesome band from Brisbane in Australia and this to my knowledge is their second release of awesome tunes. I really liked their debut album 'Skin' and this actually betters that if you want my honest opinion, although it certainly picks up where 'Skin' left off. Kicking off with the absolute belter 'All For Love' the synths and keys like the debut come to the fore, while second up 'Fade' slows it down a tad. 'Eastwood Blues' and 'Gone' are simply awesome cuts and I do love the vocals of Tomina Vincent, reminding me a little of Anneke Van Giersbergen in her The Gathering days. 'Tremors' is a near 6 minute Symphonic belter, while 'Talk' is a magical Coldplay cover! And the awesomeness continues with tracks like 'The Darkest Hour' and the ballad 'The Fight'. I just love this band, their Facebook is here - with the low key and emotionally sung verses to the heavy guitar/synth infused choruses, to my ears this band should power their way to the top on this showing - totally mind blowing and I love it!... 9.5/10 (Dave)

EPICA...'THE SOLACE SYSTEM' EP

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 1st September 2017

This release by Epica was created during the creative phase of 'The Holographic Principle', and in traditional Epica fashion, these six tracks are epic and bombastic, coupled with a totally beautifully ballad ('Immortal Melancholy'). I am not going into detail, but this is an amazing release that will be picked up by all fans of the band, and the record would certainly be a fine introduction for new fans too, who should go on and check out Epica's back catalogue. This little epic is out today, so my advice is to buy....damn awesome...10/10 (Dave)

ELUSION...'DESERT OF ENTICEMENT' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 24th August 2017

After Domingo Smets left his former band Ancient Rites after almost 15 years, he felt the need for a new project to put in all his energy and inspiration. With the first songs written he started to look for the right vocalist, realizing that he was searching for a more melodic and powerful voice to fit the symphonic parts and heavy guitars. So, February 2015 Domingo decided to team up with the lovely Evy Verbruggen for this new musical endeavour: ELUSION. Other musicians were easily found, the band bringing captivating songs with heavy guitars, filled with symphonic melodies that lure you into the different stories told by vocalist Evy. Her pure voice fits perfectly with the music and enforces the atmosphere of each song, while bass player Kristof takes care of the more brutal grunts. This Ep brings a taster as to what to expect from their full cd that hopefully will be released in the Spring of 2018 and jolly good it is too. I do like pipes and they pop up in the bouncy folky feel of 3rd track 'Facade'. Overall, a very good uptempo EP across all three cuts and well worth checking out - their Facebook is here... 8/10 (Dave)

EMBER SEA…’HOW TO TAME A HEART’

(7Hard) Reviewed 23rd July 2017

EMBER SEA has been walking the line between Metal, Gothic and Rock since 2009, forging the best of those genres into their own style. Melodic riffs, driving rhythms, spheric keyboards as well as the powerful voice of the singer blend into catchy EMBER SEA, with songs that will remain in your head for a while. This, their latest offering features 10 tracks of extremely tuneful Rock/Metal with Eva Gerland leading the way. This is a very consistent record with not a duff track to be found, although I did take a fancy to the closing duo of ‘The One’ and the epic 9 minute plus ‘The Dawning’. However, these are just two standout cuts within a tsunami of standout tunes. I wholly recommend this record when it gets released on 4th August. For more info on this awesome band, check out their Facebook here… 9.5/10 (Dave)

EXIT EDEN...'RHAPSODIES IN BLACK'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 21st July 2017

EXIT EDEN, is an all-female four piece band, uniting all attributes ascribed to the new millennium: cosmopolitan, self-confident, independent and ready to do their very own thing. EXIT EDEN is: Amanda Somerville, Clémentine Delauney, Marina La Torraca and Anna Brunner. Despite their diversity, these 4 singers blend together personally as superbly as they do vocally and this constellation creates extraordinary and powerful ideas. This new album is home to a colourful mix of international super hits from Rihanna to Madonna, from Depeche Mode to Adele and many more and yet it's miles away from being just a cover album. The band has quite simply made it a symphonic power house of tunes, some familiar and some perhaps not quite as familiar. My current faves from this cd include 'Incomplete' (Backstreet Boys), 'Impossible' (Shontelle), 'Frozen' (Madonna), oh what the f**k, I love the lot!You know something? I found listening to the songs on this album an emotional experience, bringing back memories that in some cases I thought had gone for good. An absolute stunner and well worth the purchase price. The record gets released 4th August... 9.75/10 (Dave)

ELA...'SECOND REALITY'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 11th July 2017

The melodic power metal outfit ELA presents this their new album 'Second Reality' - mixed and mastered by Andy Horn, and graced with an artwork created by Jan Yrlund! The band that takes its name after their singer offers up catchy songs that meet heavy riffs, but ELA also knows how to use the soft pedal as well (the ballad 'Black Roses' as one example). ELA sure has a fine set of lungs as she powers her way through the twelve numbers on this record. With the release date set for August 25th, this album is a good un, powerful, melodic and catchy to boot... 8.75/10 (Dave)

ELEGY OF MADNESS...'NEW ERA'

(WormholeDeath) Reviewed 22nd June 2017

The Elegy Of Madness fronted by the awesome vocals of Anja Irullo, is an Italian Symphonic Metal Band founded in 2006. This is their third full length and their 2nd with WormholeDeath and offers 12 track powerful array of Symphonic Metal. Some belters here including the opener 'Apokalypsis' with it's electro influences, the pounding and melodic title track (damn awesome), the bombastic 'Divine Obsession', the power ballad 'Memories River' and 'Illuminated' among a total tsunami of great tunes. This record is good, damn good to be precise, well recommended for lovers of powerful, bombastic and melodic female fronted Symphonic Metal.... 9.5/10 (Dave)

FACE OFF...'MASSIVE' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 5th June 2017

Belgrade based Face Off fronted by vocalist Marija Kovacevic released their debut 'The Colour Of Rain' that was reviewed here in 2013. It was chock full of radio friendly Alternative Metal. Fast forward to 2017 and the band has delivered to me this EP 'Massive'. It is not quite what I was expecting but it is good. It has a more grungier, atmospheric, stoner metal sound with Marija's angelic vocal style still ruling the roost. This five tracker is worth checking out, but it is different soundwise to the debut. The atmospheric 'Code White' is one of my faves from the album while The song 'Retouching' was featured as a part of the space survival game 'Hellion' launched earlier this year. The EP streams here... 8.25/10 (Dave)

FREAK INJECTION...'FREAK IS FASHION' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 25th May 2017

The composer, Mac-F, air guitar fan and dog masks fetishist. The Diva, Charlie Red, addicted to spike jackets. From their mystic encounter on a full moon night is born Paris based Freak Injection. This is their EP and jolly good it is too, full of melodic Industrial fused Rock and Metal. It is catchy, it is bouncy and full of energy. My fave track..... erm 'Sex Me'and the single from the EP 'Psyscho (Russian Boy)'. Great stuff, their Facebook is here.. 8/10 (Dave)

END OF THE DREAM...'UNTIL YOU BREAK'

(Painted Bass Records) Reviewed 12th May 2017

End Of The Dream fronted by the awesome Micky Huiijsmans, is the next best thing to come out of The Netherlands and this is their second blockbuster of an album, following on the heels of their debut 'All I Am', that appeared two years ago. I rated that debut highly and this is equally as good from the opening chords of the corking and melodic title track 'Until You Break' to the closing track 'The Light'. Everything that is sandwiched in between is musically delicious and if you are restricted financially as to what you are able to buy throughout this year, this has to be on the must buy list. A great album from a band that is now breaking into the Premier League of Female Fronted metal and should go onto bigger things. Wholly recommended... 9.5/10 (Dave)

FIRE AT DAWN...'CHANGING TIDES'

(Self Release) Reviewed 4th April 2017

Fire At Dawn is a female fronted 5 piece Hard Rock band from Southend-On-Sea, Essex. They are a hard working band who since their inception have developed a sizeable yet loyal fan base. Fronted by Victoria Walker, this is a six track album from this band of pulsating hard rock and it all kicks off rather well with the awesome 'Dead In The Water', a rather good start if you ask me. 'Saving Grace' follows and this is a thumping up tempo hard rock cut, while I myself do rather like the slower 6 minute plus epic 'Slipstream' - rather kool! Then we have the ultra epic 9 minute 'The Sedative' with its progressive undercurrent, followed by the pulsating 'Demons', one of the heaviest tracks on the record. The album closes with a bonus cut - 'Parasite'. Overall, this is a fairly good release that runs for around 38 mins and is well worth checking out by lovers of Hard Rock/Metal. Their facebook is here... 7.75/10 (Dave)

FADING AZALEA...'MAZE OF MELANCHOLY'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd April 2017

Fading Azalea is a Symphonic/Progressive Metal band from Gothenburg. The music alternates between melodic guitar riffs, harder parts enhanced by drums that has its roots in black metal, beautiful and melancholic orchestral parts, multi-faced vocals that switch between dark low clean vocals, high-pitched opera singing, powerful hard-rock vocals and grunts. As with many albums now, there is an instrumental intro that leads us into the first track proper 'In The Name Of Justice' that blasts its way out of the speakers, knocks you against the wall and sets the scene as to what is to follow. Second up 'Heart Of Darkness' drops the pace slightly with a progressive folky feel, while third in 'Flames Of Death' maintains the pace - heavy but melodic, flirting occasional with heavy fast paced guitar riffs. Further quality cuts include 'Surface' that mixes the tempo, the beautiful acoustic feel of 'Dying Paradise', the Progressive feel of 'Feel Of The Mask', the mid paced and lovely 'Here I Am Again', the sombre piano led 'L'Ombre DerriA re L'Acme' and the 8 minute plus epic and rather haunting 'Where I Belong'. I would not say that this album is full of glorious hooks and choruses as it takes on more of a progressive feel, with heavier and rather more beautiful moments, but it is a good release nonetheless and yet another one for those ever growing shopping lists. The band's Facebook is here...8.5/10 (Dave)

EMILY BELL & THE TALKBACKS...'KALI' EP

(One Eyed George Entertainment) Reviewed 30th March 2017

From Austin in Texas, Emily Bell & The Talkbacks recently announced the release of this their brand new EP, which will be released on April 21st. This 5-song EP is packed with unapologetic but melodic female anthems, each with its own message of empowerment. I was initially not sure whether I would like this EP or not, but I do and Emily's voice sure does nail it for me. We have the upbeat opener 'Can't Talk Back' that is followed by the mid tempo and equally as good 'Girls That Never Die'. 'Godess' and the ultra melodic 'Goldmine' follow and do not disappoint, while closing number and lyrically interesting 'Crashing Hearts' slows it down, this track screaming radio airplay. Kali is in reference to the Hindu Goddess of Destruction and like its moniker suggests, it's a boldly expressive release. So if you like Alternative Pop/Rock with smidgens of Punk and Americana, this is for you. I myself like it and this EP is worth checking out. The EP can be pre ordered here.. 8.25/10 (Dave)

EVYLTYDE...'RISING'

(BME Music (UK)/Metal Mercenary) Reviewed 28th March 2017

EVYLTYDE is one of London’s fastest rising metal acts. In early 2015, they released their self-titled debut album to outstanding reviews including an 8/10 from the UK’s POWERPLAY magazine and 8.75/10 from us here at Ravenheart. In early 2017 they returned to the studio to complete this their follow up album, due for release worldwide on the 27th March 2017. Fronted by Hannah Delany, the band combine powerful and melodic vocals with hard-hitting, edgy guitar riffs on this 10 track album, that in turn create a unique and distinctive melding of numerous metal genres from thrash through to gothic. There are some pounding numbers here including the hard hitting 'Medicated Generation', the power ballad 'Forever' and the catchy 'No Violet' as three tracks from a tsunami of great tunes. This is a good album and well worth of checking out further...8.75/10 (Dave)

EDENBRIDGE…’THE GREAT MOMENTUM’

(SPV/Steamhammer) Reviewed 10th March 2017

Edenbridge fronted by the graceful vocals of Sabine Edelsbacher, proudly present us with their 9th studio album of Symphonic Metal mastery. The band is centered around the talents of Lanvall, a multi-instrumentalist with the vocal delivery being carried by the astonishing range of the aforementioned Sabine Edelsbacher. And these two blend together so well, that Edenbridge just would not be Edenbridge without either of these two musicians. The album offers 9 tasty morsels of Symphonic Metal done only in the style that this band knows best. After the awesome opening salvo of ‘Shiantara’ and ‘The Die Is Not Cast’, ‘The Moment Is Now’ is a catchy hook laden Symphonic belter while ‘Until The End Of Time’ is a lovely ballad featuring Erik Martensson (Eclipse, W.E.T., Nordic Union). There are further goodies like ‘The Visitor’, the Middle Eastern vibe of ‘Return To Grace’, the beautiful ‘Only A Whiff Of Life’ and the epic closing and rather magnificent 12+ minute ‘The Greatest Gift Of All’. With production by Karl Groom (Threshold) in his ´Thin Ice Studio`, and with the mastering by Mika Jussila (Stratovarius) at his ‘Finnvox Studios`, this is a top class effort as we would expect from this Premier League band and is well recommended as a consequence … 9.5/10 (Dave)

EVEREAL…S/T

(7hard Records) Reviewed 20th January 2017

Canadian band Evereal fronted by Stephanie Neufeld, started as a studio project born of the writing process. The band was created by Guitarist Stephen Roberts in 2011. The concept was to recruit musicians to write and record music with emphasis on groove and melodic content utilizing symphonic qualities. I understand this to be Evereal’s debut offering and is a mid to up tempo album of Symphonic Metal with a Progressive undercurrent. Favourite tracks include the bouncy and melodic 'Frost Sign', the awesome ‘Caution’, the dynamic power ballad ‘Sinful’, and the Progressive closer ‘Scars’. The band’s facebook can be found here. This is a good record worthy of one’s support. The physical release is scheduled for 27th January, but it is already available from all the usual digital outlets – recommended …. 8.75/10 (Dave)

EVENMORE...'LAST RIDE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 13th December 2016

Evenmore is a Symphonic Folk Metal band from Switzerland formed in 2011. The band is composed of singer Melissa Bonny (clean vocals and growls), guitarist Landry Pernet, bassist Frederic Jorand, keyboardist Lionel Blanc, drummer Florian Bard and pipes/whistles player Matthieu Bopp. They have supported among others Lacuna Coil and Xandria, so we are talking here about a band that has power, elegance, grace and a touring pedigree. This is an album of awesome folky, epic metal that offers elements of power and melodic Death Metal. Featuring ex-Eluveitie vocalist Anna Murphy who pops up on a track or three, as does current Firewind vocalist Henning Basse, this is damn good. It’s also a conceptual album with a story being told that links some of the tracks. There are some corkers here including the heavy, melodic and Death Metallish 'Poisoned Thorn', the instrumental folky feel of the 'Tavern' that will have you dancing around your camp fire in no time (love the pipes), the ultra catchy 'Breaking The Silence', the cool ‘Eleana’ (Feat Henning Basse) and the awesome ‘Last Breath’ (feat Anna Murphy) with its atmospheric and haunting intro. Overall, from beginning to end, this is a very good cd with a great mix of Folk and Metal and is well worth checking out. Evenmore’s Facebook is here… 9/10 (Dave)

ETERNAL IDOL...'THE UNREVEALED SECRET'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 6th December 2016

Eternal Idol is a dual fronted Italian Melodic Symphonic Hard Rock Band. Vocal duties are provided by Fabio Lione (powerful clean male vox) and Giorga Colleluori (awesome female vox). There are 12 tracks of highly accessible toons and rather cool they are too. The opening duo of 'Evil Tears' and 'Another Night Comes' (video here) kicks starts the record and sets the scene for what is to come, a host of goodies in-fact. Check out 'Awake In Orion', the classic hard rocker 'Sad Worlds Unveiled', the power ballad 'A Song In The Wind' and the awesome 'Stormy Days' with its catchy chorus. This is another winner from the Frontiers stable, is recommended and well worth a purchase.... 9/10 (Hannah Cooper)

FURIAM...S/T

(Furiam Music/Rambo Music) Reviewed 27th November 2016

Furiam from Sweden is an interesting band and a slightly different one too. The band fronted by Vanadis Lyberg and Carl Lundvall, create extraordinary, atmospheric, gothic metal tunes with oh sooo catchy hooks - that will charm your mind and cast a spell on your body. The ten tracks are short and quirky, all under four minutes and four numbers under three minutes. But all killer no filler, and if this record doesn't set your feet tapping, then go and see your doctor, you have a problem! My fave is the opener 'Nightmare Never Ends', a melodic & catchy tune if ever I heard one! If you like your music catchy and quirky, get this long player immediately and clear away those developing winter blues. The band's Facebook is at www.facebook.com/FuriamMusic/...9/10 (Dave)

END MY SORROW…’OF GHOSTLY ECHOES’

(Art Gate Records) Reviewed 21st November 2016

What started out as mostly Gothic Doom, soon started to grow... Not before long, the song writing got more exploring, and though there's still some gothic and doom influences "no doubt about it" the music has become a unique structure which is quite hard to put in a specific genre! We get inspired by so many different types of music, not strictly metal "but most" that the style, can’t be described as anything else than "End my sorrow", a style that contains Groove, up-tempo, down-tempo, male and female vocals, energy, melancholy, distortion, acoustic, death, thrash, doom and so much more. Judge for yourself but from what I hear from these Danish rockers, this album is a bit of alright. The Pop/Rock female vocals come courtesy of Anne-Mette Nielsen with male growls from Christian H.B. Jensen, and both singers come straight to the fore in opening cut, the rather catchy ‘Wither Away’. Next up ‘Show Burning Red’ follows a similar catchy formula but takes a heavier more riff-tastic stance. ‘Past Horizons’ has Doom influences while ‘Shapes of Darkness’ ups the tempo somewhat. ‘From A Distance’ features just the vocals of Anne-Mette. This riff-tastic album continues with further awesome tracks like ‘Flaming Heart’, the commercial sounding ‘Because Of You’ and the bouncy ‘Broken’. This album is a decent effort and is worth looking into. The band’s Facebook is here, and the album can be purchased from www.artgatesrecords ….8.25/10 (Dave)

ENEMY OF REALITY…’ARAKHNE’

(FYB Records) Reviewed 20th November 2016

Enemy of Reality is a joining of regal forces that finally occurred in 2013 in Athens, Greece. Lyric soprano Iliana Tsakiraki, guitarist Steelianos, keyboardist Marianthi, bassist Thanos and drummer Philip Stone each bring something unique to this all-star lineup. Iliana, was the voice behind Meden Agan, released a highly acclaimed studio album (Erevos Aenaon) and EP (Nemesis) with the ground breaking group before she set her sights on new horizons. Those new horizons are now incorporated in her second album with Enemy Of Reality, the record being a concept album based on the ancient Greek myth of the spider's creation, while also several other elements of the Greek mythology are also present in the album's lyrics. Arakhne (voice of Chiara Malvestiti) basically was a very skillfull weaver spending countless hours working at her loom, creating beautiful tapestries that were the envy of all the maidens in the town. Even the Muses would stop to admire her work. One day, one of the Muses, Polymnia shows to Goddess Athena a tapestry depicting the story of Narcissus. At that moment, it felt like the image of Narcissus was so alive that he was singing about his story (voice of Fabio Lione). Arakhne was also very arrogant and antagonized Goddess Athena, insinuating that she could weave better than her. When Athena heard of her boasts, she decided to pay her a visit. Disguised as an old woman, she entered Arakhne’s hut, and inspected her creations. She tried to warn Arakhne about the possibility of offending the gods but her words were not heeded. Arakhne feeling confident about her weaving, challenged Athena, whom revealed her true form and accepted the challenge. For the rest of the story, study the lyrics and give the album a good listen! Musically, this is a majestic album from these Greek metal merchants. The heavily orchestrated intro leads us into first track proper ‘Reflected’ that features the aforementioned Fabio Leone (Rhapsody of Fire among others), this bombastic number exhibiting power metal traits and showcasing the awesome vocals of Iliiana. ‘Weakness Lies Within’ is a bouncy catchy Symphonic number (a live fave if ever I heard one!), with other technically brilliant tracks that include the superb ‘Time Immemorial’, the heavy and symphonic ‘Nouthetisis’ with Annihilator’s Jeff Waters, ‘Showdown’ (feat Chiara Malvestiti) and the pen-ultimate symphonic ‘I Spare You’. This is a good album and well recommended!!... 8.75/10 (Dave)

FLIGHT OF FIRE…’PATH OF THE PHOENIX’

(Self Release) Reviewed 18th October 2016

Comprised of four vivacious, accomplished women, this dynamic and passionate band from Boston explores the musical textures of upbeat hard rock, emotional folk rock, and complex symphonic rock, creating the fresh, progressive sound that is Flight of Fire. Highly influenced by classic rock artists such as Led Zeppelin, Journey, Rush, Heart and The Who, as well as modern rockers like Halestorm, Paramore, The Foo Fighters and Evanescence, Flight of Fire has varied inspiration contributing to their unique sound. Fronted by Maverick, this seven track album is kool. Opening cut 'Ten Thousand Voices' is an awesome tuneful rock number and remains stuck in your head for ages afterwards. 'Rockstar Life' takes on a more hard rock approach and is absolutely awesome. ‘My Last Gamble’ is an acoustic based blues number while the hard rockin’ tracks ‘One Last Sip’ and ‘Better Off Without You’ ups the ante. The closing duo of the acoustic ballad ‘In Spite of You’ (lyrically interesting) and the up tempo and melodic ‘Daughters Of Venus’ ends what is a hard rocking album from this female combo. If you like your rock music hard ‘n heavy with a 70/80s feel, then consider a purchase!…. 8/10 (Hannah Cooper)

FORBIDDEN LORE...S/T EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th October 2016

Forbidden Lore is a Symphonic Metal band from Greece. Fronted by Georgia Mavrantza, this is a three track EP of catchy Symphonic Metal that I am sure will appeal to fans of this style of music. It is run of the mill stuff but good nonetheless. Opener 'Endless Run' is an up tempo bouncy number with a Progressive feel, while second up 'Shadows On Ice' follows a similar formula. Third and closing track 'Grace In Our Fall' is the icing on the cake, a great Symphonic belter, the video to which can be viewed here. This band is well worth checking out, Georgia's vocals taking on a Pop/Rock style... 8/10 (Dave)

EPICA...'THE HOLOGRAPHIC PRINCIPLE'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 9th October 2016

To be honest, Epica from the Netherlands are not shy of producing albums that can best be described as bombastic. And this, their latest album does not shy away from the bombastic catagory. This long player offers up big riffs with huge orchestral and choral arrangements, coupled with the awesome vocals of Simone and occasional growls from Mr Mark Jansen. Epica has again gone well over the top regards the quality of this album, and that is saying something taking into account the quality of their previous six efforts. Without naming any individual tracks, and it is highly likely that fans of Symphonic Metal would have already purchased this record anyway regardless of any forthcoming reviews, the music here is intense, melodic and let us use that word again, "bombastic". Beauty is contained within the music too, 'Once Upon A Nightmare' being one such number - wonderful and Simone's vocal performance is from the top drawer on this and of course all the other tracks, including the epic closer, 'The Holographic Principle - A Profound Understanding of Reality', that has just about everything! If you have not yet got a copy, then buy it, because if you only buy one album between now and the end of the year, this has to be that record - no further comment is needed! 10/10 (Dave)

FOURTH CIRCLE...'ELEMENTS'

(Dark Tunes) Reviewed 1st October 2016

Welcome to the FOURTH CIRCLE, where epic Tunes encounter hard Riffs, and where the charming voice of Audrey Adornato is carrying the ears and hearts of their fans from the third to the fourth dimension.The members of FOURTH CIRCLE from the French Hayange have, since their foundation in 2011, developed a musical style that was always bound by their strong influences of Symphonic Metal, yet breaking the bonds of the genre, by thinking outside the box. Let me introduce you to the glorious new album from FOURTH CIRCLE named 'Elements' and therefore is again taking account of the magical number “four”. Since where fire, water, air and earth interact, a wholly new world of massive orchestral sound is about to emerge. But if you try to reduce the band from France to some numerological games you surely do wrong. It needs more than four qualities to confidently follow the footsteps of FOUR Bands like NIGHTWISH, WITHIN TEMPTATION, EPICA, DELAIN and indeed a lot more. And I must state that this band has now joined those mentioned above and has gatecrashed the premier league of female fronted symphonic metal with this effort, just like Luxembourg band Elysian Gates has done (see review below).I reviewed an album from Fourth Circle (then known as 4th Circle) in August 2014 and that release was highly impressive. This tops that one being another great effort that has blown me away. Every track here is a winner that to my ears, sounds similar to the output of Delain (among others). Stand out cuts a plenty from the 13 on offer and I can recommend the lot!! FOURTH CIRCLE is integrating themselves seamlessly into the force of nature of symphonic metal. So those who listen to this album, will surely find more than four enrichments for his/her personal favourite-list. A absolute sure fire winner that has surely lifted me up, as I am in the process of moving home, which given the circumstances is one of the most depressing things that I have had to do!!...get the cd when released on 29th October! 10/10 (Dave)

ELYSION GATES...'CROSSROADS'

(Self Released) Reviewed 16th Sepetmber 2016

Elysion Gates from Luxembourg was formed in summer 2010. After extensive writing sessions, Elysian Gates finally recorded their first studio album 'Destination Unknown' in 2013. In 2014, the band started a new chapter as a female fronted band. The extended, almost 14 min. long single 'Seven Angels' then got re-recorded. It was released, both as the extended and in a shorter radio-edit version which reached within few hours the pole position in the local iTunes rock charts. The end of November 2014 the band released their project 'Northern Winds' in collaboration with Sea Shepherd. The single instantly hit number one in the top 20 iTunes charts of all genres. The video released with the single had been viewed over 12 000 times after only three months. At the very beginning of 2015, Noemie Leer, former ‘Rude Revelation’ vocalist, took over the vocalist position with the band. And I must say that I do rather like this band and their output. This long player is Melodic Symphonic Metal right from the top drawer, with some great catchy tracks that include the bouncy 'Whispering Premonition', the awesome and a fave of mine, the epic 9 minute plus 'Far From Home' that offers just about everything, the ballad ‘Mary Ann’, ‘Broken Inside’ that is so catchy and the aforementioned closer ‘Northern Winds’. But to be honest, everything here is good. Luxembourg is only a small country but like their co patriots My Own Ghost, this band has gate crashed the Premier League of Female Fronted metal. Their website can be found here – awesome so buy it! 9.25/10 (Dave)

EILERA…’FACE YOUR DEMONS’

(Echozone Records) Reviewed 7th September 2016

With her new album 'Face Your Demons', the French born singer and songwriter Eilera will release her fourth full length recording. The new record truly defines a remarkable comeback for Eilera, who is now living in Finland, where the album was recorded and produced. Her charismatic and unique voice combines very well with rocking guitars, emotional and catchy melodies, Celtic folk influences and diversified as well as epic song arrangements. All these elements are embedded in a very powerful and dynamic production, mixed by Tero Kinnunen (Nightwish) and finally mastered by Mika Jussila in Finnvox Studios (Nightwish, Avantasia, Amorphis). We have 12 tracks on this long player, although tracks 11 & 12 are "FINNVOX VERSIONS" of tracks already on the CD. All in all this is rather good with the opening cut which so happens to be the title track, kicking things off rather nicely - a rather catchy rockin’ number with Symphonic elements enabling you to “Face Your Demons”. ‘Your Way’ and ‘Deadly Together’ follow, taking a slightly more alternative route, but still equally as catchy as the opener. There are highlights galore on this album – we have the bouncy metallic ‘Frozen Path’ with its subtle violin that in turn is followed by the equally melodic ‘Polynia’ and the electro influences of ‘Cure’, just to name three. Comparisons with bands like Evanescence, Within Temptation with a bit more rock than metal and also paired with Celtic-folk elements à la Lorrena McKennitt seem to be obvious, but basically insufficient, due to the fact that Eilera manages to create her own unique vocal style and sound universe. ‘Face Your Demons' is a powerful, intense and emotional rock-experience, created to carry away your soul. It is due 30th September and is another album for your shopping list… 8.75/10 (Dave)

MORIAH FORMICA…’BRING IT ON!’ EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 25th August 2016

Michael Sweet of Stryper says Moriah Formica is "a star in the making!" She is a powerhouse singer, songwriter and musician and all at the tender young age of 15! This EP offers six tracks of prime time Melodic Hard Rock and on this showing, Michael Sweet is bang on the nail with his assumption. A mature performance from a young performer. This is damn cool from this young act, and Michael Sweet even lends his services to the final title track. Moriah’s Facebook is here and the album can be purchased from CDBaby among many others… 8.25/10 (Dave)

FENIX TALES…’THE ABYSS EYE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 22nd August 2016

Fenix Tales is an Italian Symphonic Gothic Metal Music band, that was founded in 2008 in Florence (Italy) by the keyboard player Marco. The big variety of musicians taking part in the band affects it in a many-faceted manner, with the following inputs as a result: Classical from keyboards and voice, Folk and Celtic from the violin, Rock from the bass and the guitar, and eventually Metal from the drums – all of which contribute to obtaining the special and original sound that characterizes the band. Fronted by Lucia who is a professional lyric soprano, she has carried out performances over the years in the following countries: Greece, USA, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Israel, Japan, during which she received good critics from the experts and the audience. And within this band, the violinist deserves a mention too - Federico is the First Violin in many important lyric symphonic institutions and organizations in Italy and worldwide. Federico has recorded 12 CDs!! He has also been invited to fill the role as second viola at the Scala Theatre String Quartet, and has worked with Andrea Bocelli among many others. Overall, the standard of musicianship from all involved is awesome within the very consistent eight tracks on this cd. The band seems to very calmly mix the classical & operatics with the metal and pull it off with fine aplomb! This may not quite appeal to the all out metal head out there, but if you like your classical and metal thrown into the blender, then do check this release out, well worth a listen. The band’s website allows you to listen to the album: www.fenixtales.it/… 8.5/10 (Dave/Katie McIntyre)

FEAR ME DECEMBER...'BETWEEN SILENCE AND VIOLENCE'

(Self Release/Tate Music Group – for USA Distro) Reviewed 8th August 2016

Fear Me December came together as a band in 2012 in Argentina. With a near constant tour schedule around Argentina and Uruguay, the band caught the attention of the Tate Music Group who distributed their 2014 EP, 'Who Cares?' across the US. With the increased exposure, Fear Me December decided to take a giant leap of faith and moved to Manchester (UK). Following an exciting 2015 with numerous festival and show appearances, drummer Emiliano sadly had to return to Argentina for personal reasons, leaving the trio a duo. Rather than be deterred by the change, Victoria & Valentin powered forward writing new material which resulted in this their debut full length release. For an unknown band to me anyway, they sure kick things off in fine style with the driving opener 'Give Us Peace', while next track ‘Fake It’ offers another powerful anthemic number as is the following high tempo track ‘When This Is Over’. The opening three tracks are awesome and it continues with further powerful high tempo cuts like the impressive title track, the metallic sounding ‘The Mess’, the awesome ‘Up To The Sky’, while the closing number ‘City Lights’ slows it down a bit. This powerful modern Alternative/Melodic Rock & Metal masterpiece, which is chock full of hooks and catchy choruses is a refreshing change to what normally comes my way. It was recorded by Matt Ellis at Axis Studios in March 2016 and is well recommended by us here at the towers. The band’s Facebook is here, with the album getting released 26th August… 9/10 (Dave)

LITA FORD...'TIME CAPSULE'

(SPV/Steamhammer) Reviewed 2nd August 2016

Lita Ford was born to an English father and an Italian mother in London in 1958. She moved with her family to the United States when she was young, eventually settling in the Los Angeles area. Inspired by Ritchie Blackmore's work with the band Deep Purple, she began playing the guitar at the age of 11. This is her ninth album featuring guest spots from Rick Neilsen, Robin Zander, Gene Simmons and Dave Navarro. The album is a time capsule of the fertile and whisky-soaked pre-grunge period that so many rock fans have continued affection for. In these "lost" recordings, you hear what happens when insanely talented musicians get drunk, hang out, end up in a room together with a "Screw it, let's play" mentality, minus the click tracks or label execs breathing down their necks. Lita Ford recalls; "There was a shitload of these 24-track analog tapes in the closet in my house," she recalls. "This is some of the best work I've ever done and it was sitting there". Imagine Ford dragging a pair of suitcases full of analog tapes through the Caribbean dirt back to Los Angeles, so, as she recalls, "we could bake these fuckers," due to their age. "If you just put them on the reel, they would flake. I was chewing my fingernails, thinking, 'Please work!' And they did!" There are ten numbers here, made organically among the most badass and gifted musicians from the '80s. There was no back and forth emailing of parts, this was done in real time, drinks in hand. Get this motherf***er as it rocks!! 8.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

ETEDDIAN...'DESTINY'

(Altenwald Music) Reviewed 1st August 2016

Eteddian is a Symphonic Power Metal band from Spain formed in 2011 and they are fronted by the poppy vocals of Bethany Neumann. The band offer up powerful piano melodies and energetic guitar riffs, marked by a style inspired by the melodic voice of Bethany. It is obvious the band is inspired by the greats within the Female fronted Symphonic Metal music scene, and this comes across within the music on this album. There are eleven tracks here, mainly mid to uptempo with the buoyant and interestingly titled 'Bile In Vein' and the Nightwish inspired 'Below The Surface' among my favourites within the numbers on this release. I also like the title track, the video of which can be viewed here. The band still has work to do to be up there with the greats, but this is a good start... 8.25/10 (The Nugget)

ELEPHANT GUN RIOT...S/T

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st July 2016

Two years after the release of their debut EP ‘Sic Infit’, Elephant Gun Riot return with their first full length album. The self-titled record features nine all new songs, including the lead single 'Tonight'. This album is a clear step up for Elephant Gun Riot, a superb showcase of their growth as a band. Hailing from Spokane in Washington State, they are fronted by Caitlin Rose, with the music on the album easily fitting into the Alternative Rock Category, and rather good it is too. The previously mentioned track 'Tonight' to me is certainly one of the best tracks on the CD, although they all basically hit the spot. The band’s Facebook is here - check them out, they won’t disappoint!... 8.25/10 (The Nugget)

ELEGIA…‘ANAMNESIS’

(Self Release) Reviewed 12th July 2016

Elegia fronted by Karen Härefelt is a Symphonic Metal band from Gothenburg in Sweden. Elegia is Latin for ”Elegy” which means ”a sad or reflective song or poem”. This goes a long way when describing the band's sound and lyrics. Formed in 2012, this is the band’s debut release and anything from Scandinavian climes normally gets my attention. And this is rather good. It is Melodic Symphonic Metal but with a lighter symphonic edge and it all sounds very good to these ears. There are plenty of stand out cuts from the thirteen on this album, the tracks of a consistent quality throughout. However, the one number that did catch my attention was the closing track ‘Broken’, actually sung by guitarist Matthias Nyberg, one of my faves from this record in fact. Another cool track being ‘I’m Sorry’. I must truly recommend this album - webiste is at www.elegia.se…. 8.75/10 (Dave)

ENVINYA…’THE HARVESTER’

(STF Records) Reviewed 12th July 2016

Magical, exciting and sexy - this is Envinya on this their new album ‘The Harvester’ (due to drop 15th Jul). The sextet from Munich with the exceptional female singer Mery Diaz Serrano at the helm fits only partially in the genre of countless other "female fronted metal bands". Founded in 2006, the band released in 2013 their debut ‘Inner Silence’, which was well received worldwide albeit with a different singer (Natalie Pereira dos Santos). Now in 2016, this new album starts with a short instrumental intro, something that seems to be quite common now with regards this type of music. This then leads us into the quirky ‘Bewitched’ that moves along at quite a gallop, some bewitching guitar work within this track too coupled with Mery Diaz Serrano’s poppy almost sexy vocal style. ‘Nightdweller’ is another goodie, a bouncy number offering up a near folky feel at times and the title track maintains the up tempo momentum, with a subtle electro feel. And the music continues to rattle along at quite a pace, tracks like ‘Stormchaser’ with its catchy chorus, the belting ‘Valiant’ that flirts with power metal, the middle eastern feel of ‘Outsider’, we even have a song about a frog, and they all hit the spot. With this album, Envinya show for what they stand for today: innovation, charisma and explosiveness. Musically the songs are clearly in the classic melodic metal mold, but the guitarists Thomas and Mike often poach into much harder shores, making the sound totally independent and innovative. A good release and recommended to all and sundry, although I must admit that it didn’t quite hit me on the first listen!... 8.5/10 (Dave)

EMPHASIS…’REVIVAL’

(Underground Symphony) Reviewed 8th June 2016

Emphasis is a female fronted Melodic Progressive Metal act from Estonia, formed in 2010 by bassist Katya Gritskova and guitarist Pavel Korotaev. Fronted by their leading lady Anna Ganina, her awesome vocal style is of an operatic nature and indeed, since Anna joined the band, Emphasis has added subtle symphonic elements to their progressive style . ‘Running Man' being one such track with a symphonic undercurrent, while 'Every Time' is an awesome power ballad with Anna really letting rip! If you like Progressive Metal with added Symphonic Metal components, coupled with operatic vocals, then this album will be well worth checking out. The record is a grower as many Progressive albums are, it is enjoyable and well worth checking out... 8.25/10 (Dave)

FREQUENCY DRIFT…’LAST’

(Gentle Art Of Music) Reviewed 24th May 2016

Formed in Bayreuth, Germany by classically trained keyboard player and multi-instrumentalist Andreas Hack, Frequency Drift released their debut, Personal Effects Pt. 1, in 2008 via Musea. The conceptual work about the tragic story of two sisters in a futuristic setting was inspired by films like Bladerunner and Ghost in a Shell. The follow-up album, Personal Effects Pt. 2 was released by Cyclops in 2009 and once more showcased Frequency Drift’s talent for powerful, soulful melodies and atmosphere. Featuring Melanie Mau on lead vocals, their 6th album 'Last' is darker than its predecessors, yet still highly melodic, with stunning artwork and mournful lyrics. There is some cool, haunting and atmospheric music on this cohesive and cinematic release, and I must say it makes for a relaxing listen. Chill out with a bottle or two and absorb the music into your mind and soul – music to make love too perhaps, listen to the track ‘Shade’ as an example – steady on, I ought not to say anymore! This is a family show :) After digressing, 'Last Photo' in parts is possibly the heaviest track on the album and a fave of mine too, great atmospherics, and upon that, I must say that this album overall is a jolly good Progressive Rock release. With Germany more well known for its Gothic and Symphonic Metal, this is a refreshing change… 8.25/10 (The Nugget)

ERIKA…’DEAF, DUMB AND BLONDE’

(Escape Music) Reviewed 24th May 2016

Swedish lass Erika started her own band at just 12 years old. As a teenager she started to write and record demos with various rock bands. In the late 1980’s she dated and later married guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. In 1989 Erika was offered her first deal for a record, which was called “Cold Winter Night”, an album she co-wrote which proved to be a resounding success. However, her marriage with Yngwie ended in 1992 but that did not stop the young lass from recording further albums, this one indeed being her sixth outing, an album which surpasses all she has done in the past. There are 12 tracks of prime time Melodic Hard Rock on this release and well worth checking out as a consequence. Also featured on the recording are band members from Europe, Candlemass and In Flames, and with production from Alex Angleflod and Erika herself, I well recommend this release to lovers of AOR/Melodic Rock. Erika so happens to be the most successful female Swedish hard rock/AOR singer of all times, in short, she is a legend… 8.75/10 (Dave)

Ex ANIMO…’NEVERDAY’

(Metal Scrap Records) Reviewed 17th May 2016

Ex Animo come from Ukraine and is fronted by the rather lovely vocals of Julia Orwell, with band colleague Andrew Lunko letting rip with occasional growls. And it has to be said that this is another awesome album to grace our cd players here at Ravenheart Towers. This ‘Neverday’ album is Ex Animo's 2nd full length CD, their first titled ‘Solitary’ appearing in 2004. There are eight tracks here, with six of them running in at over 6 minutes. The album in-fact being a well-balanced mix of Dark, Doom and Symphonic Metal, featuring three tracks from the 2010 'Soulglass' EP, accompanied by five completely new tracks that make up the remainder of this album. Indeed the track ‘Soulglass’ from that aforementioned EP is one of my faves on this album, atmospheric synths and thundering drums and guitars drive this heavy 8 minute track. The following number ‘Spring Covered With Snow’ is another one of my likes from this well balanced and impressive record. 'Neverday' is the moment when a man will finally be able to throw away the burden of fake and imposed values, listen to his inner self and realize why he came into this world... this is the day that never comes. Whether you are haunted by the ghosts from the past or suppressed by the fear of the future, you will find a song that echoes in you! Yet another album we must recommend...8.75/10 (Dave)

EVIG NATT…S/T

(Self Release) Reviewed 26th April 2016

Norwegian band EVIG NATT has just released their 3rd and S/T album on March 19th, recorded and produced by the band themselves. Evig Natt's music is best described as aggressive but subtle, noisy yet beautiful, a maelstorm of symphonic darkness and how true that description is. A tsunami of Female Fronted Orchestral Black Metal. Indeed, from the unholy metal grounds of Karmøy, west Norway, this band follows in the footsteps of Einherjer and Enslaved, featuring ex-bandmembers of both. It all started as a studio project in 2003, by vocalist Kirsten Jørgensen and bassist Stein Sund, their sound is unique, blending everything from progressive metal to black metal, incorporating inspiration from bands like Anathema, My Dying Bride, Swallow The Sun and The Provenance. And I must say that when music like this is done well, it is damn good and it deserves one's attention in the process. This little package combines the beauty and the melodic with the extreme, and takes no prisoners in the process. Standout cuts a plenty, the heavy and pounding ‘How I Bleed’ and ‘Svartsinn’ being a couple of the heavier numbers, while tracks like ‘Wildfire’ and the awesome closer ‘Weathered Emotion’ being a little more sedate. This album looks set to break the band into the big league and this is a well recommended record… 9/10 (Dave)

FALLEN SENTINEL…’THE MAIN SOUL’

(Suspiria Records) Reviewed 12th April 2016

When Beauty and the Beast albums are done well, they are good, which has put me in a bit of a quandary, as I am not so sure about Spanish band Fallen Sentinel. I sometimes think the growls can be a little overpowering in such releases, and to be honest this is one of those overpowering growly B&B releases. This immediately becomes apparent in the pounding first number proper ‘Behind The Walls’ (which follows a brief intro), where the growls from the opening chords push you against the wall, with a further tsunami of growls following. The rather more angelic vocals of Laura Comesaña tending to take second stage to the extreme vocals of bassist Rubén Alonso. Maybe this is the intention of the band as this is my first foray into their music, but having said that, they did start out in 1997 as a pure Death Metal band, ‘refining’ their sound as years went by. However, the band certainly has a pedigree having toured with the likes of Cradle of Filth (UK), Overkill (USA) Gamma Ray (Germany), Immortal (Norway) Cynic (USA), Primal Fear (Germany), 3 Inches of Blood (Canada), Eternal Mourning (Portugal) Suidakra (Germany), Exodus (USA), Draconian (Sweden) and Primordial (Ireland) among others. Back to the cd and the album continues in a similar style to opener ‘Behind The Walls’, but let us not be too critical. Repeated listens do tend to make the album rather more palatable, possibly as one knows what to expect, with tracks like the Progressive sounding ‘Fallen Sentinel’, the bombastic Symphonic sounding ‘Nothing At All’ (one of my faves) where the vocals of Laura are more prominent, the thundering ‘I Don’t Want To Be’ and the closing subdued number ‘Silence Is a Song’ all tending to hit the spot. Despite my initial hesitations, I have grown to like this release and for anybody reading this review who is into the heavier side of Gothic Metal, check this one out! 8.25/10 (Dave)

FALLEN SYMPHONY…’MOONSPELL’

(Self Release) Reviewed 22nd March 2016

Fallen Symphony come from Uruguay and whose style of music can be put into the Gothic/Symphonic cubby hole. There are eleven numbers running in at around 55 minutes on this their second full length album, which is a concept album about the legends of Greek Gods. Offering up mainly operatic female vocals coupled with clean and occasional guttural male vocals, this is run of the mill stuff, good but not quite premier league level. I don’t hear anything on this album that wants me to hit the repeat button to hear a particular track again, but having said that, I am not saying for one moment that this release should be ignored. Just proceed with a little caution. The album can be picked up at CDBaby… 7.5/10 (Hannah Cooper)

EVOLUCIJA...'IGRA POCINJE'

(Take It Or Leave It Records) Reviewed 18th March 2016

Evolucija (meaning Evolution) fronted by Ilana Marinjes-von Arx come from Ćuprija in Serbia, although I believe were located in Switzerland for a while. This is their second full length album sung in their native tongue and is an awesome near 40 minute offering of Melodic Metal. What is interesting to my ears is the opening track 'Letim', that sounds very familiar, although I do not know why. Second up 'Nisam za tebe ja' pounds along rather nicely, driven along by pounding drums and such a catchy chorus. And it is a non stop tsunami of further catchy and oh so melodic tracks that come pounding out of the speakers, such as 'Kao iz sna', the up lifting ‘Rekvijem’ and the up tempo and rather awesome ‘Proci ce vek’. The band’s Facebook is here, and I must say I do rather like this all killer no filler release – very catchy and very melodic... 9/10 (Dave)

ELYRIA...'REFLECTION AND REFRACTION'

(Dark Wings) Reviewed 20th February 2016

Elyria fronted by Patricia Cooney hail from Germany, and offer the listener a fine mix of Female Fronted Metal with a prominent Progressive Rock undercurrent. This is by and large run of the mill stuff, but to us female fronted fans will be seen as a useful addition to our cd collections. The progressive undercurrent is certainly there among many of the 13 tracks, but there is also a slight parallel with bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation. With fave tracks that include the pounding 'Salome' and the pen ultimate ballad 'Virtues', this album in summary would possibly hold more of an appeal to Progressive Rock/Metal fans to those who prefer their Metal rather less technical and a little more straight forward, but it is good and recommended by us here... 8.25/10 (Dave)