Album Review – Titanium / Atomic Number 22 (2016)

This prosperous five-piece act from Poland brings to us all the strongest element in the world in the form of beautiful Melodic Power Metal.

Rating4

titanium_atomic-number-22In case you didn’t already know, titanium is a chemical element with symbol Ti and atomic number 22, recognized mainly for its high strength. However, since 2010 this metallic element has also been a very important part of the Polish Metal scene, being represented by the skillful Melodic Heavy/Power Metal squad Titanium who released this September their second full-length album, cleverly entitled Atomic Number 22. After listening to this high-end album, you’ll realize titanium is not only very strong, but also extremely melodious, invigorating and brisk.

Formed in late 2010 by Pathfinder guitarist Karol Mania in Ostrów Wielkopolski, a city located in central Poland, Titanium have been on a constant rise since their inception, having released an EP entitled We Come to Rock! in 2012 and their self-titled full-length album the following year.  Now in 2016, Atomic Number 22 not only cements Titanium as one of the most promising bands from Poland, but also sets a new era for the band with Ukrainian singer Konstantin Naumenko (from Kiev’s Power Metal band Sunrise) taking the microphone and elevating the strength and epicness of the band’s already powerful musicality.

You better be ready for the Heavy Metal battle ignited by the title-track, Atomic Number 22, with the flawless connection between guitars and keyboards reminding me of Scandinavian Metal bands such as Stratovarius and Battle Beast, not to mention its superb backing vocals supporting Konstantin in this upbeat hymn. In addition, I have to admit I honestly can’t think of lyrics that sound more metal than this (“Atomic number 22 the father and the thunder / We’re coming right for you / Atomic number 22 no compromise just metal / Titanium comes for you”). And there’s no time to breathe as Titanium keep firing pure Melodic Power Metal for us in World of Contradictions, where drummer Filip Gruca dictates the rhythm with his fast beats and fills while the band’s guitar duo comprised of Karol Mania and Jaroslav Bona delivers those traditional riffs and solos we all love in Power Metal. Slower but more melodic and thrilling, Torn Reality brings forward heavy guitar riffs inspired by Hard Rock from the 80’s mixed with contemporary Melodic Metal, with another spot-on performance by Konstantin and an interesting ending with smooth piano notes and a melancholic vibe.

Defusive Skies is pure Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, overflowing harmony and being probably one of Filip’s favorite songs due to its speed, with Karol and Jaroslav sounding simply amazing with their intricate solos; followed by Time Is Out, where we’re treated to a feast of sheer Melodic Metal. Once again, Konstantin keeps amusing us with his potent high-pitched vocals while Karol and Jaroslav set fire to the music through their unstoppable guitars. One Single Night, another track highly inspired by Melodic Metal from Finland, showcases a pleasant melody with the heavier punch of Power Metal enhancing its electricity, whereas the headbanging tune Guardians of Might, featuring  guest singer Piet Sielck (kicking some serious ass as he always does with his marvelous band Iron Savior), is a very traditional composition that couldn’t sound more metallic, in special due to its inspiring chorus (“In our realm We are one / Like the blazing stars will shine forever / We’re the saviors, guardians of might / We deny the fate”).

titanium-2016Future of Mankind, the longest of all tracks, is a Melodic Power Metal extravaganza with a cheerful vibe and a great balance between the main vocals by Konstantin and all backing vocals. Moreover, the musicality never slows down, keeping the level of energy always at its peak in this lesson in melodious music for fans of the genre. The last song of the regular version of Atomic Number 22, titled The Way of the White Flag, is another explosion of Melodic Metal thanks to its fast-paced drumming and truly harmonious vocal lines. Furthermore, bassist Szymon Szydłowski delivers some rumbling uppercuts while both guitarists are absolutely on fire with their fantastic riffs and solos. In case you go for the Japanese edition of the album, you’ll be nicely rewarded with Titanium’s cover version for Eagleheart, one of the biggest classics by Melodic Metal heroes Stratovarius. Very different from the original version, the band managed to switch the original base of this metal hymn to their own musicality without losing the song’s uplifting essence.

Titanium are waiting for you at their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can put your hands on the strongest and most melodic element in the world of heavy music at Amazon (exclusively at their Japanese store) or also at Discogs. This beautiful display of Melodic Power Metal will enliven your toughest days without a shadow of a doubt, proving one more time the sensational effect high-quality heavy music always has on our hearts and souls.

Best moments of the album: Atomic Number 22, Torn Reality and Guardians of Might.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Avalon/Marquee

Track listing
1. Atomic Number 22 5:50
2. World of Contradictions 4:45
3. Torn Reality 5:57
4. Defusive Skies 5:13
5. Time Is Out 4:00
6. One Single Night 5:37
7. Guardians of Might (feat. Piet Sielck) 4:50
8. Future of Mankind 8:52
9. The Way of the White Flag 4:01

Japanese Edition bonus track
10. Eagleheart (Stratovarius cover) 5:30

Band members
Konstantin Naumenko – vocals
Karol Mania – guitars
Jaroslav Bona – guitars
Szymon Szydłowski – bass
Filip Gruca – drums

Guest musician
Piet Sielck – additional vocals on “Guardians of Might”

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Album Review – Gamma Ray / Empire Of The Undead (2014)

Gamma Ray return with their unmatched empire of Heavy Metal.

Rating4

CoverAfter a very long and exciting wait, Empire Of The Undead, the new album by German Power Metal masters Gamma Ray is finally among us, and once again the one and only Kai Hansen and his crew deliver us excellent music full of great riffs, nice lyrics, and above all that, lots of passion for what binds us all together. Yes, I’m talking about pure HEAVY METAL. And yes, Germany keeps on rockin’ nonstop in 2014.

As a long-time fan of the band, from the times when Dirk Schlächter was still the guitarist and Ralf Scheepers was still on vocals, I, for one, am a huge advocate of Gamma Ray’s music and style. In my humble opinion, they have reached that same stage bands such as Motörhead, AC/DC and The Ramones have, a stage where changing their music direction would be the major mistake of their lives. Who wants to see to Kai Hansen singing Rap or the band adding any electronic elements to their music? Other less important bands can try that, but Gamma Ray exist to provide us the most traditional heavy music we so much love.

BandTo kick off things in an exceptional way, how about the 9-minute epic tune Avalon, with its excellent solos and harmony, which reminds me of one of their biggest classics, “Rebellion In Dreamland”? Then comes the best, fastest and most awesome song of the album,  the pure fuckin’ metal song Hellbent, with its lyrics and especially chorus being  a tribute to Heavy Metal fans all around the world (“Hellbent for Metal / That’s what we are / Hellbent for Metal / Straight from the heart”). Kai Hansen is not only always amazing on vocals and on the guitar, but he’s also one of the best Heavy Metal poets of all time.

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Empire of the Undead CD Jewelcase

And Empire of the Undead continues in a very enjoyable way, with the excellent Pale Rider with its totally Judas Priest-ish riffs and another awesome performance from the whole band; and Born to Fly,  a very traditional Gamma Ray tune with a great chorus. The following two tracks are not exactly new, as they featured in the Master of Confusion EP, released in the beginning of 2013, but who cares? Both Master of Confusion and Empire of the Undead are powerful songs, with the latest having those classic riffs and guitar solos that explain why Gamma Ray are so fuckin’ awesome. Moreover, I had the pleasure to see them playing both live already last year, and those songs kick some serious ass.

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Empire of the Undead LP

In order to give us some air, Kai & Co. come with the smooth ballad Time for Deliverence, with its beautiful lyrics, and Demonseed, which despite its weird intro and headbanging riffs, is not a very entertaining track; however, the band gets back to their roots with Seven, another classic tune that will surely please all of their fans. And to end this pretty cool album, we have the song I Will Return, which starts with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous “I’ll Be Back!” quote, but doesn’t keep up with the same energy level as the previous tracks. And if I were you, I would buy any of the special editions of the album (each with a different front cover color), because all bonus tracks and other stuff are worth the extra money.

In terms of the musicians, kudos to drummer Michael Ehré, as although he had some big shoes to fill he nailed it, and of course to Mr. Kai Hansen, the creator of Power Metal, Helloween and Gamma Ray. Kai is the “Midas” of heavy music: everything he touches becomes GOLD, and that’s valid for Empire of the Undead, another very good release from one of the most influential German bands of all time. May the amazing empire of Heavy Metal built by this great guy “hellbent for Metal” live forever more.

Best moments of the album: Avalon, Hellbent, Pale Rider and Empire of the Undead.

Worst moments of the album: Demonseed and I Will Return.

Released in 2014 earMUSIC

Track listing
1. Avalon 9:21
2. Hellbent 5:23
3. Pale Rider 4:24
4. Born to Fly 4:32
5. Master of Confusion 4:55
6. Empire of the Undead 4:26
7. Time for Deliverence 5:11
8. Demonseed 6:39
9. Seven 5:07
10. I Will Return 6:56

European bonus track
11. Built a World 4:23

Limited Edition Digipack bonus tracks
12. Avalon (Live from Studio) 9:52
13. The Spirit (Live from Studio) 4:19
14. Empire of the Undead (Live from Studio) 4:27

Band members
Kai Hansen – lead vocals, rhythm & lead guitar
Henjo Richter – lead & rhythm guitar, keyboards
Dirk Schlächter – bass
Michael Ehré – drums