Album Review – Death Keepers / Rock This World (2018)

A fresh, catchy and incredibly addicting blend of classic Power Metal with Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll influences that will rock your world like there’s no tomorrow.

Born in the fires of Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, in late 2011 by the fusion of the experience and talent of an array of musicians who were driven into gathering the best of Heavy Metal of yesterday and today, five-piece squad Death Keepers sticks to the all-time Heavy Metal style, that quintessential sound and energy that so many fans fell in love with back in the 80’s, spiced up by the technological developments of our era, thus, bringing to life an experience of epic proportions like what you’ll find in their debut album, entitled Rock This World, a fresh and fulfilling Heavy Metal extravaganza pushed into the next wave of Heavy Metal evolution.

Death Keepers released their debut EP On the Sacred Way in 2013, and since then they’ve been working on their debut album, developing their own sound by adding more and more Hard Rock influences to their previous Power Metal sound. Including both revamped songs from their EP as well as brand new tunes, Rock This World brings to the listener a fresh, catchy and incredibly addicting blend of classic Power Metal the likes of of Helloween and Judas Priest with Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll influences that give the whole album an unusual and tremendously infectious feel. With that said, simply put on your old school leather jacket and get ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow with those five Spanish metallers.

Ladies and gentlemen, start up your engines and join Death Keepers in their frantic race for Rock N’ Roll in the opening track straightforwardly titled Rock & Roll City, where frontman Dey Rus fires those classic metallic vocals we all love so much in heavy music, complemented by the fantastic guitars by both Eddy Gary and Antonio Maties. Fire Angel sounds and feels more melodic and epic with pure Heavy Metal flowing from all instruments, reminding me of the music by icons such as Edguy, Avantasia and Sebastien, being perfect for singing along with the band with your fists in the air; whereas in Death Keepers the band tells the world who they are by delivering an ass-kicking Heavy Metal sonority led by the fast and rhythmic beats by Miki Hunter (who’s by the way flawlessly supported by the rumbling bass by Gorka Alegre), being clearly inspired by old school Helloween. And the band’s guitar duo sounds even more Helloween-ish than before in Haven’s Heaven, showcasing great pace and dynamism among all band members in another ode to classic metal.

In the title-track Rock This World, not only the sound of the guitars by Eddy and Antonio keeps burning our skin, but their solos are also a thing of beauty, not to mention another solid performance by Dey on vocals. Put differently, Death Keepers definitely know how to rock our world in a beyond fun way, right? And it’s time to add a pinch of their Spanish musical heritage to the album through the melancholic acoustic guitars in Thriving Forcast, before all their electricity returns in this instrumental power ballad featuring some excellent guitar solos and tons of feeling; followed by Love’s Within (Yourself), where it’s quite interesting to see how the vocals by Dey feel like a fusion of Andi Deris and Tobias Sammet, while Miki keeps the sonority at full speed with his beats and Eddy, Antonio and Gorka create a thrilling onrush of metal with their strings.

If you consider yourself a diehard metalhead with true Heavy Metal flowing through your veins you’ll love Wildfire, with Dey being flawlessly supported by the song’s backing vocals. Hence, you’ll start playing some air guitar with Death Keepers without even noticing so compelling the entire song is. Then the bridge Invention IV presents one minute of pure dexterity on guitars before Metallia comes ripping our metal hearts in superb fashion, with the entire band firing the purest form of Heavy Metal you can think of with their scorching instruments. Furthermore, Gorka is a beast with his galloping bass lines, while Dey provides some excellent high-pitched vocals in this top-tier tribute to all things metal. And in the closing tune, named Smooth Hit Love, a Hard Rock-like acoustic start evolves into a passionate power ballad led by the touching riffs and solos by Eddy and Antonio, while Dey puts his heart and soul into declaiming the song’s love words until the sound of the ocean comes to end it beautifully.

You can take a full listen at Rock This World on Spotify, but if you love traditional Heavy Metal more than you love your own life and family I highly recommend you go purchase the album right now without even blinking through the Fighter Records BandCamp, through the Xtreem Music webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon, and add each one of its hard rockin’ songs to the playlist of your most electrifying moments in life. Because, you know, they are Death Keepers, and they’re among us with one single purpose in mind, to keep rocking our world like there’s no tomorrow.

Best moments of the album: Rock & Roll City, Death Keepers, Wildfire and Metallia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Fighter Records

Track listing   
1. Rock & Roll City 3:24
2. Fire Angel 4:40
3. Death Keepers 5:08
4. Haven’s Heaven 5:21
5. Rock This World 4:25
6. Thriving Forcast (Instrumental) 4:54
7. Love’s Within (Yourself) 5:04
8. Wildfire 6:38
9. Invention IV (Instrumental) 0:56
10. Metallia 4:37
11. Smooth Hit Love 8:50

Band members
Dey Rus – lead vocals
Eddy Gary – lead & rhythm guitar
Antonio Maties – lead & rhythm guitar
Gorka Alegre – bass
Miki Hunter – drums

Advertisements

Metal Chick of the Month – Ailyn Giménez

ailyn01

Come sleep with me, I’ll set you free…

The name Pilar Giménez García might not make a lot of sense to you, especially if you’re not a fan of Symphonic/Gothic Metal. It might even sound like a name extracted from a Mexican “telenovela” for some people. However, when I say the stage name of our metal chick this month, you’ll probably connect to her and, of course, to her beautiful voice: please welcome the stunning Spanish singer Ailyn Giménez, or simply Ailyn.

Ailyn was born on May 29, 1982 in Esplugues de Llobregat, in Barcelona, Spain, a place so close to the Camp Nou stadium that many famous players such as Piqué and Iniesta reside there. She is the current female vocalist of Norwegian Symphonic Gothic Metal band Sirenia, and her story prior to becoming a professional lead singer for a Heavy Metal band is quite unique in comparison to many other female singers from both metal or non-metal bands.

However, before we talk about her path to stardom, let’s first focus on her beginnings, in other words when Ailyn was “just” Pilar and started her career in the world of music. Our Catalan diva started singing in school when she was around 11 or 12 years old, when her music teacher inspired her to sing by playing her the song Hero by Mariah Carey. Ailyn immediately fell in love with the song and Mariah’s voice, and from that day on she started trying to sing like her, something easy to notice in the pop/romantic songs Tu Voz Se Apagará and Una Flor En La Tempestad. As hard as it’s to believe, this blonde girl shaking her booty is our Ailyn!

Then at the age of 15 she started her musical career, studying solfege and classical singing at The Albéniz School of Music, with her professional debut taking place in 2002 in Cornellà de Llobregat, also in Barcelona, Spain, in an annual benefit fashion show the city held to raise money for Alzheimer’s sufferers. As weird as it might sound, her first music contract was as part of an Anime/J-Pop/J-Rock group named Charm, with whom she released an album entitled Konnichiwa, in 2003, before parting ways with the group and starting to invest in her solo career in 2004.

Things started to get really interesting for her in 2007, when she was chosen as one of the members of the “young team” in the Spanish version of X Factor, where in the four episodes she participated before being eliminated she sang Pop/Rock classics such as Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and Evanescence’s Bring Me to Life, among others. Almost at the same time, her sister was looking for metal bands to add them as friends on the once useful MySpace, and that’s when she got to know Sirenia. They really enjoyed the dark and heavy music played by Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and composer Morten Veland and his crew, and as if by magic, a month later the band sent Ailyn an email asking her if she wanted to audition because they needed a new singer. Check her performances in songs such as The End of It All and Lithium (her cover version for one of Evanescence’s most famous songs), and you’ll understand why she was called to be the smooth female voice of Sirenia.

In the beginning of 2008, our Spanish beauty headed to the wonderful country of Norway for a couple of auditions with Sirenia, before being selected as their new female singer in April 2008. Since then, Ailyn has recorded four full-length albums with Sirenia: The 13th Floor (2009), The Enigma of Life (2011), Perils of the Deep Blue (2013), and earlier this year the excellent The Seventh Life Path, as well as the singles The Path to Decay (2008), The End of It All (2010) and Seven Widows Weep (2013), and of course started touring around the world with the band. Moreover, it was during one of her first tours with Sirenia that she had the most memorable show of her life, at the always awesome festival Masters Of Rock, in 2008. According to Ailyn herself it was not because of her performance (as she was very nervous): she mentioned this specific concert was special because it was her first big show with Sirenia, and because she was able to enjoy all the energy and grandiosity of the festival.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Besides her career with Sirenia, Ailyn sang the song Needle Bites from the album Rejected Gods (2014), by Greek Symphonic Metal band Enemy of Reality, recorded additional vocals on the song Furia de Libertad from the album Argia (2014), by Spanish Symphonic Power/Gothic Metal band Diabulus in Musica, and female vocals on the songs The Chevalier and Prayer from the album Death & Legacy (2011), by Austrian Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal band Serenity. In addition, she performed live with German/Norwegian Symphonic Metal band Leaves’ Eyes at their 10th anniversary show in Wieze, Belgium in 2014., and she is also scheduled to take part on the Metal Opera album The Great Lie by Melted Space in October this year.

However, maybe none of her accomplishments as a metal singer would have been possible without the influence of Dutch Symphonic Metal band Within Temptation in her life. It’s not that she has ever been part of the band or anything like that, but it’s known that all her passion for heavy music started one day while she was watching TV and they played a video from Within Temptation, letting Ailyn eager for more of their music and of the music by any other band with a similar sonority. Of course, that led to Within Tempation’s lead singer Sharon Den Adel being one of her biggest idols in music, among other names such as Jared Leto (30 Seconds To Mars), Josh Groban and Sarah Brightman. Moreover, when asked about which artists she would like to sing with, our metal babe said she would love to perform a duet with  Roy Khan (ex-Kamelot), an amazing choice in my opinion.

Obviously, just as any other regular person in the world, Ailyn has her personal hobbies, including some very relaxing activities such as reading, drawing and sewing, especially sewing her stage clothes for her live performances with Sirenia, and of course she truly loves listening to music. Another interesting fact about Ailyn is that she has a condition called heterochromia iridis, meaning she has two different eye colours, one eye (right) is brown and the other eye (left) is green, which in my opinion only makes her even more attractive. And on a final note, one might ask how a Spanish woman named Pilar Giménez García ended up being called “Ailyn”, a Chinese name, and the answer to that is quite simple: not only she has always been attracted to the Asian culture, but mainly because Ailyn means “true love”. Do I need to say anything else?

Ailyn’s Official Facebook page
Sirenia’s Official Facebook Page

“Since I was a kid I dreamt about being in the music world, and as I grew up I dreamt about being part of a band, so I think my dreams have been accomplished. Of course I’ve got many dreams, but only time will tell if they become true or not.” – Ailyn Giménez

Album Review – Kilmara / Love Songs and Other Nightmares (2014)

An exciting Power Metal “gemstone”, full of heavy riffs, melody and all other elements we love in this type of music, nicely carved by this very competent band from Barcelona.

Rating4

kilmara_coverFor most of us, the word “kilmara” might mean only a semi-precious green stone (also known as jade) used for jewelry, but it has also become a synonym of high-quality Heavy Metal, especially in the past decade. After over 10 years of existence, Melodic Power Metallers from Spain and Germany Kilmara are releasing their third full-length album, Love Songs and Other Nightmares, another “gemstone” carefully polished and ready to shine in their discography.

Let me start by saying that the new album by this Barcelona-based band was produced by none other than the exceptional Roland Grapow (Helloween, Masterplan) at Grapow Studios in Slovakia and published by Sony Music, and by that you can already have an idea of the professionalism you’ll find in each and every track from Love Songs and Other Nightmares. Only talent itself doesn’t bring any good results if not accompanied by a huge amount of dedication and hard work, and Kilmara are a great example of how putting those elements together translates into amusing and captivating music.

From the very first heavier-than-usual riffs of the opening track, Fantasy, Kilmara showcase a modern Power Metal, focusing on smoother and clearer vocal lines (very well done by singer Christian Wolfgang Kohl) instead of traditional high-pitched screams from other bands of the same genre. Not only this song has an awesome chorus, but the addition of some harsh vocals makes everything even more entertaining. Quick question: would Fantasy (or maybe Fantasy’s) be a gentlemen’s club in Spain or somewhere else? At least that’s what the lyrics seem to be talking about.

The galloping rhythm, conducted mainly by Javi Morillo’s excellent work on drums, and the soulful guitar solos keep the energy level up in The Devil’s Eye, followed by the soaring intro and thrilling riffs of The Break Up, another top moment of the album, with lyrics about ending a relationship. By the way, this song would be an awesome way to do so (or at least the break up would happen with an exciting soundtrack). Cold Rain sounds like a sequence to the previous track in terms of lyrics, with highlights to the way the band “prepares” the listener for the catchy chorus.

kilmaraThen Kilmara slow things down with Believe, a semi-ballad with nice instrumental, but not as exciting as the previous tracks, before accelerating everything again with Nothing to Me, a heavy tune with hints of Thrash Metal the likes of Anthrax, with its riffs and double bass dictating the rhythm plus some great lyrics to sing along (“There’s nothing you can say / There’s nothing you can do / There’s nothing that can take away / The damage that you do”). A more traditional Power Metal can be found in Usual Strangers, especially due to its good guitar duo and solos, while Alpha is more melodic, flirting with Symphonic Power Metal. And pay attention to its funny/sexist lyrics, you might see yourself in that situation one day (or maybe many times a week).

And at long last, Kilmara saved for the final part of Love Songs and Other Nightmares three completely different tracks for all types of fans: Insomnia is another good Power Metal track with some interesting lyrics; Play to Win focuses on a more Hard Rock sonority, with its excellent instrumental parts mixed with another good vocal performance by Christian; and finally we have the beautiful ballad Time Flies, with  its powerful chorus as the “main ingredient”. There’s also a German/Spanish version of this song as a bonus track that sounds even more emotive than the regular one, especially the awesome Spanish parts. I myself speak Spanish and, in my humble opinion, I would love to see more Spanish songs by Kilmara: they sound so amazingly powerful when singing in this language.

I guess I could not finish this review without mentioning how gorgeous the “cover girl”, created by Montreal’s own Jessica Allain, in Love Songs and Other Nightmares is. Is she even real? Anyway, this excellent Power Metal album is available at Amazon and iTunes, among other places online and at physical stores, so if you’re a true fan of Power Metal don’t waste your time and go grab this “gemstone” by Kilmara for your collection.

Best moments of the album: Fantasy, The Break Up and Nothing to Me.

Worst moments of the album: Believe and Alpha.

Released in 2014 Sony Music

Track listing
1. Fantasy 4:41
2. The Devil’s Eye 4:20
3. The Break Up 3:59
4. Cold Rain 6:01
5. Believe 4:31
6. Nothing to Me 4:01
7. Usual Strangers 4:51
8. Alpha 4:04
9. Insomnia 4:47
10. Play to Win 5:59
11. Time Flies 6:19

Bonus track
12. Time Flies (German/Spanish version) 6:19

Band members
Christian Wolfgang Kohl – vocals
Jonathan Portilo – guitar
Kike Torres – guitar
Raúl Ruiz – bass
Javi Morillo – drums