Albums
Eden’s Curse: Live With The Curse
Written by Lauri Lindqvist    Monday, 30 March 2015 19:33    PDF Print E-mail

Eden’s Curse, the multinational band whose members hail from all corners of Europe, and whose sound oscillates between power metal and arena rock, will release a live album on April 14. It is the first album with singer Nikola Mijić, who joined for the band's fourth album, Symphony of Sin, released in 2013. While listening to Live With The Curse, I realized just how much original singer Michael Eden’s voice made the sound of Eden’s Curse for me.

Although bassist Paul Logue is the mastermind of the band, Eden's vocals were a key ingredient in the band’s sound. Mijić's voice is thinner and more strident, with a sharper edge than Eden's. He hits all the notes, but the sound just doesn’t have the same emotional pull as Eden’s slightly cleaner and more emotive vocals. Mijić's voice sounds better in more aggressive songs, like “Just Like Judas” and “Jerusalem Sleeps,” than the clean, uplifting songs like “Fly Away.” Besides, Mijić’s vocals seem obscured by backing vocals in many of the choruses.

Of course, there are a lot of other things on the album to enjoy. You still get the great guitar work (including a blazing guitar solo that gets its own track) from Thorsten Köhne, the power metal riffs and symphonic drama of the songs from Trinity, the darkly anthemic songs of The Second Coming, as well as the soaring choruses of songs like “Fly Away.” The sound is pretty clear, except that the bass is a bit muffled, which is especially apparent in the heavy, should-be-thundering “Jerusalem Sleeps” and “No Holy Man.”       

Not surprisingly, nine out of 18 actual songs are from the album recorded with Mijić, Symphony of Sin, with a handful from Trinity, and a sprinkling from The Second Coming and the band’s self-titled debut.  “Time to Breathe,” an interesting choice for a single, was recorded during Marco Sandron’s brief stint with the band, and Mijić sings with a bit more grit and edge to his voice than Sandron. Several songs on this live album were originally duets: “Black Widow” with Andi Deris of Helloween, “No Holy Man” with James LaBrie of Dream Theater, and “Angels and Demons” with Pamela Moore, who was on Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime, but it sounds like Mijić handles all the vocals here. 

“Devil in Disguise,” from Symphony of Sin, makes me think, "I wish I could hear Michael Eden sing these vocal lines." It’s a fast, heavy song with anguished vocals and Eden’s emotive voice would shine. But for fans who don’t mind the change in vocalist, it’s a nice collection of Eden’s Curse songs, showcasing the band's entire history and their breadth of styles.

 
Ancient Rites: Laguz
Written by Steve Wass    Monday, 30 March 2015 19:16    PDF Print E-mail

Ancient Rites’ sixth album, Laguz, provides an epic musical journey. Described as “Black/Historical/Epic/Heathen Metal” on the album's promotional sheet, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I pressed “play.” However, I soon discovered that there are not only harsh growls and black metal guitars, but also rich folk melodies, which make this outing all the more grandiose.

The one-two punch of the instrumental “Golden Path to Samarkand,” which is basically a fantasy movie soundtrack, and the blast beats of “Carthago Delenda Est” that follow immediately afterward, exhibit the blending of more than a few genres. The closest sonic comparison I can draw is a vague, folky Fleshgod Apocalypse (or even the more history-oriented Ex Deo) with some clean, true metal guitar solos.

“Apostata” marches you right along into battle, while “Umbra Sumus” is relentless (although not overpowering like many FGA songs), but ends with a particularly poignant, even-paced solo. The renaissance music and nigh whispering evoke a storyteller as the adventure ends on a lighter, but no less enjoyable note with “Fatum (Ill Fate/Noodlot).” Overall, I think fans of epic metal, like The Summoning or Caladan Brood, would particularly enjoy this solid album.

 
Work of Art-Framework
Written by Michael McGeehan    Monday, 30 March 2015 19:08    PDF Print E-mail

Melodic rock/AOR music used to rule over here in America until grunge came along and killed it in the early 1990s. Thanks Nirvana. Over in Europe though, it's a completely different story. Rock and AOR still thrive there. A perfect example of that is the band Work of Art. Hailing from Sweden, this trio put out their third album entitled Framework on Frontiers Records.

Guitarist Robert Sall, drummer Herman Furin, and vocalist Lars Safsund, have again put out a collection of music that is literally a work of art. Catchy riffs, harmonic melodies - anything that pretty much describes AOR (adult-oriented rock) - are on this release.

"Time to Let Go" starts off the disc with its soaring vocals that Safsund, also the singer in Lionville, does so well. Sall, also in the band W.E.T., is an exceptional guitar player, and it shows on "Can't Let Go." Frontiers Records is signing AOR bands left and right, and Work of Art is definitely in the top 10 right now of great new rock.

Unfortunately you cannot just go out to your local record store and purchase this. When you find it online, get the Japanese version, which includes the bonus track "On the Edge of Time." You will not be disappointed, I promise you.

 

 
Scanner: The Judgement
Written by Steve Wass    Sunday, 22 March 2015 15:50    PDF Print E-mail

 

The Judgement, by Germany’s Scanner, is a solid power metal outing. Their songs are mostly speedy, true metal with clear (fellow Germans) Primal Fear (Ralf Scheepers DOES provide background vocals on this LP) and, of course, Judas Priest influences. My favorite track is “Warlord” (not the Manowar song), which features new singer Efthimios Ioannidis’s “Painkiller”-esque shrill vocals and crunchy riffs, which bring naught but joy to my ears. Let’s see if the rest of the album is as metal as expected. Soaring vocals? “Eutopia” starts things off right with some killer high notes that evoke the heavenly call of a metal angel. Guitar solos? “The Battle of Poseidon” provides plenty. There are some less inspired tracks that go on a bit too long (“Pirates,” “The Legionary”), and there is nothing really that distinctive (I mean if no one told me differently, I’d have thought this an early Primal Fear album). But that is not to say that it’s not well done - certainly worth listening to if you can’t get your fill of metal.  Any way you slice it, this is a solid slab of screaming heavy metal, so just press play, sit back and enjoy.

 
Battle Beast- "Unholy Savior Review
Written by Steve Wass    Wednesday, 18 March 2015 10:29    PDF Print E-mail
Fans of power metal will really enjoy Battle Beast’s bombastic “Unholy Savior.” This Finnish band’s third album brings a mix of fist pumping true metal (the title track, along with 75% of the album) with some very cheesy 80s pop (the very guilty pleasure sounding synth heavy “Touch in the Night”). But where there’s power metal, there’s cheese- if you can’t take it, you may want to leave the hall! There’s a bit of variety - “Hero’s Quest” an instrumental that evokes a heroic journey in some Role Playing Game video game. The wordy “I Want the World…And Everything in it” features vocals that complement singer Noora Louhimo’s powerful pipes- to the tune of some Grave Digger and Cinderella sound-alikes, and works. The two power ballads started off very slow, but really grow on you. There’s also a bonus track – a cover of “Push it to the Limit” (featured originally in “Scarface”), which was even more energetic and perhaps even more 80s than the original! I wonder what will happen to them, as guitarist/main songwriter Anton Kabanen has left the group shortly after this release.  If nothing else, we have another solid slab of steel preserved for future metalheads.
 
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