Album Review – Sebastien / Act Of Creation (2018)

One of the biggest exponents of modern-day Czech metal returns with the next chapter in their always-evolving and exciting career.

One of the biggest exponents of modern-day Czech metal is back with a brand new album that will certainly please and entertain all fans of the most electrified form of Melodic Power Metal you can think of. After the releases of their debut album Tears Of White Roses, in 2010, and the critically acclaimed Dark Chambers Of Déjà-Vu, in 2015, it’s time for Brno-based metallers Sebastien to unleash their third full-length installment, titled Act Of Creation, continuing their evolution as a band and, as a consequence, cementing their name as the finest metal act you can find in the entire land of beer.

With its cover artwork designed by Hans Trasid (Dis-Art Design), and featuring an entourage of very special guests the likes of Swedish vocalist Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind) and Slovak vocalist Mayo Petranin (Signum Regis), Act Of Creation will bring to your avid ears fourteen exceptional compositions by skillful musicians who are at their prime, from passionate power ballads to those fast and crisp Melodic Metal anthems that will accelerate your heartbeat in an exciting and fun way. Furthermore, it’s very important to emphasize the fact that Sebastien maintained the same lineup from their previous album, which obviously translated into pure cohesiveness, precise timing and a powerful dynamism among all band members.

The title-track Act of Creation kicks off Sebastien’s metallic feast with a heavier-than-usual sonority, bringing elements from modern-day Groove Metal to their traditional Power Metal. Moreover, frontman George Rain has (as expected) an amazing performance showcasing a wide range of vocal styles in the same song, while Pavel Dvorak brings epicness to the overall sound with his keys. Then we have No Destination, a fast-paced, aggressive tune that will please even non-metal fans due to its thrilling rhythm, presenting the always flammable vocals by George supported by Czech guest vocalist Kristýna Dostálová and endless energy flowing from all instruments; and Wake Up, an imposing tune where Lucas R. leads the crew with his pounding drums, with all orchestral and choir-like elements in the background enhancing the song’s already potent vibe. But it obviously wouldn’t be a Sebastien album without a classic power ballad like Amy, displaying spot-on riffs by George and his bandmate Andy Mons while bassist Petri Kallio not only delivers some powerful bass punches, but his 80’s Hard Rock-inspired backing vocals also add a lot of feeling to the final result.

Venturing through the realms of Symphonic and Melodic Metal, the band delivers a futuristic metal chant titled Evermore, presenting a pleasant paradox between clean and harsh vocals, not to mention how determined Pavel is to arouse our senses with his fiery keyboards. My Empire reminds me of some of the latest creations by Sonata Arctica (which unfortunately is not a good thing these days), with an interesting work done with all background elements but nothing that truly connects in the end, whereas Queen from the Stars is a melancholic, serene ballad with passionate performances by George on vocals and Andy with his acoustic and electric guitars. Put differently, simply hold your lighter high and wave it together with Sebastien to this beautiful song. And featuring guest vocalist Mayo Petranin, Winner is a song where the sound of keyboards is considerably higher than the one of the guitars, therefore uniting in a pleasant way the classic sounding of the 80’s with Sebastien’s contemporary metal.

With Czech guest guitarist Djordje Erič (Citron) slashing us all with a gripping, flammable guitar solo, Heal My Soul goes back to a more traditional musicality, albeit still presenting hints of heavy music from the 80’s, and consequently pleasing both fans of the classic metal by Sebastien as well as the ones who prefer more modern Melodic Metal. In Promises, Kristýna Dostálová returns with her charming vocals in another symphonic ballad by Sebastien, with Andi and Pavel being in total sync with their respective riffs and keys, therefore boosting the electricity of the whole song; and featuring guest Apollo Papathanasio on vocals, it’s time for our Czech squad to put the pedal to the metal in the electrifying hymn Die in Me, where the whole band fires pure Melodic Power Metal for our total delight. Displaying a beyond catchy chorus and endless adrenaline, this metal hymn should sound absolutely fantastic during their live performances.

And Act Of Creation might be considered a long album with its over 60 minutes of music, but every song has its purpose just like Full Moon Child, portraying a classic name for a straightforward and very cohesive Power Metal sonority boosted by the precise beats by Lucas, with highlights to the spot-on riffs and solos extracted by Andy from his unstoppable guitar. The second to last metallic act by those Czech rockers comes in the form of a semi-acoustic ballad entitled Hero, with another powerful performance by George on vocals, before the bonus track V Síti Štěstí (or “in the network of happiness” from Czech) closes the album in sublime fashion. It’s not a secret to anyone that Sebastien never get tired of delivering soulful ballads to our ears; however, this is a fresh one, being fully sung in Czech, which seems to have provided George some additional room for adding never-before-seen nuances to his vocal lines.

It’s always a pleasure to see a talented and hardworking band like Sebastien evolving in their already solid career, and if you want to know more about the best metal band hailing from the enchanting Czech Republic you should definitely go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for news, tour dates (and they do tour several other countries if you ) and, of course, more of their awesome Power Metal. Act Of Creation, which can be purchased from the Pride & Joy Music webstore, from the band’s own Facebook, from iTunes or from Amazon, is one of those albums that will put a smile on your face no matter how hard your day has been, proving once again Sebastien are here to stay and to keep bringing top-tier heavy music to our never-resting metal hearts.

Best moments of the album: No Destination, Evermore, Promises and Die in Me.

Worst moments of the album: My Empire.

Released in 2018 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Act of Creation 4:27
2. No Destination (feat. Kristýna Dostálová) 3:02
3. Wake Up 4:11
4. Amy 5:38
5. Evermore 4:32
6. My Empire 3:48
7. Queen from the Stars 4:34
8. Winner (feat. Mayo Petranin) 4:01
9. Heal My Soul (feat. Djordje Erič) 3:47
10. Promises (feat. Kristýna Dostálová) 3:29
11. Die in Me (feat. Apollo Papathanasio) 4:54
12. Full Moon Child 4:52
13. Hero 5:25

Bonus track
14.V Síti Štěstí 4:34

Band members
George Rain – vocals, guitars
Andy Mons – guitars
Petri Kallio – bass, backing vocals
Pavel Dvorak – keyboards
Lucas R. – drums

Guest musicians
Apollo Papathanasio – vocals on “Die In Me”
Mayo Petranin – vocals on “Winner”
Kristýna Dostálová – female vocals on “No Destination” and “Promises”
Djordje Erič – lead guitar on “Heal My Soul”
Vendula Skalová – backing vocals

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Album Review – Avenford / New Beginning (2017)

A lecture in melodic, progressive and vigorous Power Metal by a band that has all it takes to be one of the greatest names in Power Metal within the next few years.

Rating4

avenford-new-beginningFormed in the summer of 2012 by guitarist Peter Szehoffner and lead singer and guitarist Arpie Gamson in Hungary, inspired by the music by Masterplan, Jorn Lande, Yngwie Malmsteen and Iron Maiden, among others, but currently residing in London, England, Power Metal quartet Avenford has been making a name for themselves in the world of heavy music since their inception, delivering first-class Heavy Metal for fans of melodic guitars, fast and rhythmic drums and epic high-pitched vocal lines. After releasing their debut album in 2014, titled Mortal Price, and after beginning to conquer Europe and the rest of the world with their music, it’s time for Avenford to strike us all again with their fresh new album New Beginning.

The list of guest musicians in New Beginning is quite extensive, each one adding their own share of adrenaline to the final result. We have Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind), Zoltan Marothy (Kiss Forever Band), Roland Grapow (Masterplan, Helloween), Zoltan Kiss (Iron Maidnem), Bodor Mate (Alestorm) and Piotr Sikora (Exlibis) lending their feeling and refined techniques to Avenford, contributing with Peter, Arpie, bassist Tom Longbottom and drummer Jivodar Dimitrov in crafting beautiful and exciting Heavy Metal perfect for hitting the road, for having a good time with your friends, or for simply relaxing and enjoying it by yourself.

The opening track Dead or Alive doesn’t waste a single second and comes ripping in a heavy and melodic way led by the guitars by Arpie and Peter, suddenly turning into a fast-paced metal feast with guest singer Apollo Papathanasio kicking some serious ass on vocals, resulting in Power Metal at its finest; whereas Back in Time is a Symphonic Power Metal composition with a strong focus on its electrified atmosphere and the fierce drumming by Jivodar, also featuring an amazing solo by guest guitarist Zoltán Maróthy. And progressiveness, intricacy and tons of feeling are the main ingredients in the fast-paced chant Assassin, where not only both guitarists are on fire, blasting beautiful riffs and solos, but the rumbling bass lines by Tom are also very effective and add a lot of groove to the music.

avenfordAlbeit slightly slower, Fury Road is still very progressive and heavy, with the one and only Roland Grapow doing what he does best, which is of course delivering awesomeness though his guitar solo, before the short and pleasant instrumental bridge Maze of Visions builds the ambience for the title-track New Beginning, a heavy power-ballad where Arpie has an amazing performance on vocals while the rest of the band sounds extremely cohesive and focused on delivering top-tier Power Metal to the masses. And in Overlord, a futuristic warlike intro explodes into Progressive Power Metal due to the accelerated beats by Jivodar, with both Arpie and Peter making the perfect dynamic duo on guitars. In other words, if you love high-octane Melodic Heavy Metal, this thrilling tune will definitely please your metallic ears.

With guest singer Zoltán Kiss giving a lesson in melodic vocals, Dark Angel presents the perfect combination of guitars and keyboards the likes of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, having all it takes to become a classic among fans of the genre. Besides, how not to get excited with the song’s amazing chorus? In Mask, we’re treated to more electricity and passion for heavy music from Avenford, a very traditional sonority led by the potent vocals by Arpie and the unstoppable drums by Jivodar, and featuring a great guitar solo by another guest Máté Bodor; while Return from the Land of Emeralds is the dream of every musician that loves complex and metallic Power Metal. All band members are in perfect sync in this instrumental feast, with Tom and Jivodar crafting the perfect atmosphere for all the song’s inspiring guitar solos. And my favorite track of the album, Unholy Game, featuring the sharp keyboards by guest musician Piotr Sikora, brings elements from old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock that truly elevate the song’s electricity to a whole new level. No one can stand still to such amazing tune, with Arpie being absolutely fantastic on vocals.

In a nutshell, New Beginning is a lecture in melodic, progressive and vigorous Power Metal by a band that sounds like veterans of the genre, despite being on the road for less than a decade, and if you’re fond of this always galvanized genre of heavy music I highly recommend you go visit Avenford’s Facebook page and YouTube channel to get more details on this excellent band and their inspiring music. And of course if you want to add New Beginning to your distinct collection of Power Metal albums, you can find it at the Pride & Joy webshop, at Record Shop X, on iTunes or on Amazon. The name of the album might be New Beginning, but what we have is actually a solid continuation to the career of a band that has an immeasurable potential to become one of the greatest names in Power Metal within the next few years.

Best moments of the album: Dead or Alive, New Beginning, Dark Angel and Unholy Game.

Worst moments of the album: Back in Time.

Released in 2017 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Dead or Alive 4:22
2. Back in Time 3:50
3. Assassin 4:30
4. Fury Road 4:32
5. Maze of Visions 1:21
6. New Beginning 7:13
7. Overlord 5:41
8. Dark Angel 3:43
9. Mask 3:56
10. Return from the Land of Emeralds 5:49
11. Unholy Game 3:48

Band members
Arpie Gamson – vocals, guitar
Peter Szehoffner – guitar, backing vocals
Tom Longbottom – bass
Jivodar Dimitrov – drums

Guest musicians
Apollo Papathanasio – vocals on “Dead or Alive”
Zoltán Maróthy – lead guitars on “Back in Time”
Roland Grapow – lead guitars on “Fury Road”
Zoltán Kiss – vocals on “Dark Angel”
Máté Bodor – lead guitars on “Mask”
Piotr Sikora – keyboards on “Unholy Game”

Album Review – The Silent Rage / The Deadliest Scourge (2016)

A superb display of modern and melodic Power Metal by an emerging band from Greece who unite the past, present and future of heavy music in their compositions, always sounding fresh, vigorous and exciting.

Rating3

The Silent Rage - The Deadliest Scourge Cover_HighResInvesting your energy and resources into making Power Metal in modern society “is a dangerous business, Frodo”. Apart from the mass hysteria caused by the swords and dragons from Game Of Thrones, just a very small niche of the world population still finds delight and excitement while listening to old school bands such as Manowar, Blind Guardian and many others who devoted their careers to singing about warriors and battles. Maybe it’s just a momentary trend and Power Metal will return to its glorious days soon, or maybe the advancements in technology and the modern-day life do not match with its thematic anymore. Luckily for all of us metalheads, there are still some newborn bands that not only know how to deliver high-end Power Metal, but they have also adapted their style to a more contemporary approach, sounding fresh and interesting even playing a subgenre of heavy music that’s becoming more and more relegated to the underground. Having said that, one of the best examples of how a band can be successful in this new world order are Greek Melodic Power Metal troopers The Silent Rage, who have just released their first (and superb) full-length album The Deadliest Scourge.

Formed by guitarist Nikos Siglidis in Athens, Greece in 2006, The Silent Rage have been on a roll since then, releasing their self-titled debut EP in 2009 (which got impressive feedback from global media) and another EP entitled Harvester Of Souls in 2011, thus sharing the stage with icons like Rage, Grave Digger, Stratovarius and Rotting Christ during their Greek tours. Displaying a somber artwork designed by Polish artist Michal Karcz of Parallel Worlds (who has already worked with Metal Church and VNV Nation), and featuring special guest musicians Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind), Yossi Sassi (Orphaned Land), Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetnikov (Arkona) and Theophilos Kritikos (Feel), The Deadliest Scourge unites the past, present and future of Power Metal in such a solid and compelling way those guys sound like veterans, but obviously always looking forward without being imprisoned in a past that unfortunately will never return.

Signal Of War, an atmospheric and somewhat tribal intro composed by guest musician Theophilos Kritikos, warms up the listener for the first song of the album named My Race Won’t Last, a modern Heavy Metal hurricane led by the unstoppable drummer Stamatis Katsafados, showcasing an amazing synchronicity between lead and backing vocals which end up strengthening the story told through the lyrics. Right after that excellent start, the title-track The Deadliest Scourge begins at full speed through the blazing riffs by Nikos and his bandmate Kostas Krikos, before Steve Venardo joins the music with his potent vocals in a solid display of contemporary Power Metal, reminding me of old school Iced Earth but with the band’s own touch and a high dosage of electricity. And pedal to the metal in what can be considered a tribute to traditional Heavy Metal by The Silent Rage entitled StormWarrior, a song that will inspire you to grab your sword and shield and head into the battlefield to the sound of its accelerated rhythm, its catchy chorus and a beyond powerful performance by Steve on vocals.

Those Greek metallers provide us another shot of pure Power Metal in Between Harmony & Sorrow, where both lead and rhythm guitars sound cutting and electrified, being beautifully complemented by the heavy and tuneful bass lines by Stavros Tsilivarakos and, consequently, keeping the level of stamina really high in the album. With guest musician Apollo Papathanasio on lead vocals, Sin Of A Pilgrim is a hybrid of traditional Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, presenting many elements found in the music by Iced Earth such as the fiery guitar solo delivered by Kostas amidst the precise beats by Stamatis. And when a song starts with an amusing guitar solo inspired by Heavy Metal from the 80’s like what we see in Leading The Legions, a powerful tune about courage and leadership, you know it’s going to be awesome. Furthermore, all band members put their hearts and souls into the making of this chant, which obviously enhances its impact and beauty.

The Silent Rage 2015e_WebResProselytize The Masses can be described as “when progressive music meets pure Heavy Metal”, because this is exactly what you get in this great composition where lyrics are as traditional as possible (“You know that they’ve ruined your life / Led your behavior this way / Forming the limits and guiding your thoughts / Setting the borders, around and around as we’ll go / There’s no awakening from this oblivion / No escape or salvation, Gatekeepers leading you blind”). It’s quite impossible not to get thrilled by its lancinating riffs, with Kostas once again stealing the spotlight with his guitar solos. If you think there can’t be more awesomeness in The Deadliest Scorge, you’re completely mistaken, because even after so many epic songs they still have the necessary energy to craft more amazing metal such as in The Right To Dream, where Stamatis continues to smash his drums relentlessly while the guitar riffs by Nikos and Kostas keep piercing our ears.

The last “triumvirate” of this flammable album brings forward more high-end Heavy Metal, starting with the metallic Thoughts Collapse, a fast and heavy tune perfect for diehard fans of old school Power Metal, with highlights to the superb job done by the dynamic duo Nikos and Kostas on guitars and to the violent growling by Steve and Nikos. In A Piece Of Eden, the band offers the listener an uplifting chorus and another spot-on performance by Stamatis on drums, not to mention Kostas’ epic solo that leads to the song’s powerful conclusion, before Shadow Spirit, an awe-inspiring and medieval Folk Metal acoustic tune, puts an end to this brilliant opus. Guest musicians Yossi Sassi and Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetnikov add an extra dosage of epicness with their eccentric instruments, while the smooth ending of the song brings peace to our beaten and bruised metal hearts, sounding delightfully melancholic.

Available as a 500 hand-numbered digipack format (which includes a bonus track entitled Inner Scars), a regular jewel case format and digital download at the band’s BandCamp page or at the Alone Records’ webstore, The Deadliest Scourge is one of those albums that definitely put a smile on the faces of all admirers of good old Power Metal. You can find more about The Silent Rage and their incredible album at their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and witness how Power Metal is still relevant and puissant in the world of music. May the Gods of Metal always be by the side of The Silent Rage, helping them generate a lot more top-notch Heavy Metal for many years to come, never sounding cheesy or outdated and, therefore, continue taking virtuous and precise steps on the bright path ahead of them.

Best moments of the album: The Deadliest Scourge, StormWarrior, Proselytize The Masses and Shadow Spirit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Alone Records

Track listing
1. Signal Of War (Intro) 2:29
2. My Race Won’t Last 3:46
3. The Deadliest Scourge 3:43
4. StormWarrior 5:10
5. Between Harmony & Sorrow 4:21
6. Sin Of A Pilgrim 3:17
7. Leading The Legions 4:16
8. Proselytize The Masses 4:10
9. The Right To Dream 4:16
10. Thoughts Collapse 4:59
11. A Piece Of Eden 4:51
12. Shadow Spirit 6:01

500 Hand-Numbered Digipak bonus track
13. Inner Scars 3:57

Band members
Steve Venardo – lead vocals, growls
Nikos Siglidis – guitars, growls
Kostas Krikos – lead guitar
Stavros Tsilivarakos – bass
Stamatis Katsafados – drums

Guest musicians
Theophilos Kritikos – programming and orchestration on “Signal Of War”
Apollo Papathanasio – lead vocals on “Sin Of A Pilgrim”
Yossi Sassi – ud on “Shadow Spirit”
Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetnikov – galician bagpipe and sopikla on “Shadow Spirit”